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Sonia Gandhi snubs BJP, but to what end?

Do not ask if it was a Jodan punch to the head, a Chudan to the middle or a Gedan to the groin. All that matters is that the right-wing nationalists are lying flat on the mat, dazed by the lightning blow that came from nowhere Tuesday evening as dusk was falling on Delhi. 

By the terminology of Shotokan Karate, Congress President Sonia Gandhi dealt a Ippon Ken Tsuki — a one-knuckle fist punch — to snub the Bharatiya Janata Party’s war horses who dared show the temerity to shout and scream that the United Progressive Alliance government conducts a “weak” foreign policy and that the ruling party is sullying national honor. 
Soniaji has taken the strongest position possible on the Italian Marines issue: “The defiance of the Italian government on the question of the two marines issue and its betrayal of a commitment given to our Supreme Court is outright unacceptable. No country can, should, or will be allowed to take India for granted.” 

She just took away the tricolor flag from the BJP’s hands. If the Marines issue had appeared so very promising to the BJP to talk about till the 2014 election, forget it. 

However, Soniaji didn’t disclose her mind fully: “All means must be pursued to ensure that the commitment made by the Italian government before the Supreme Court is honored.” 
To be sure, a barrister’s sure hands can be discerned in the drafting of these careful words. Soniaji didn’t promise that the government will see to it that the two absconding Italian Marines return to Indian soil — and yet she conveyed the impression that she did. And politics is a matter of perceptions. 
The Congress and BJP make strange bed fellows. As the veteran communist leader Sitaram Yechury pointed out, neither can honestly claim a creditable record in upholding national honor. Hasn’t someone once said somewhere that patriotism becomes a final refuge for politicians at times?
Most certainly, the ball is now in the court of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to explore “all means.” But there has been a setback already. 

The Italian Government (here), European Union (here), United Nations Secretary-General (here) — they all have essentially voiced the same opinion, namely, the matter should be amicably settled with due respect for the Vienna Convention.
The western opinion is consolidating and Rome’s stance has hardened once the Home Ministry issued the strange advisory on the Italian ambassador. Evidently, Rome is closely coordinating with Brussels. A protracted, painful confrontation could well ensue, depending on how diligently Khurshid and Shinde pursue “all means.” 
Normally, there would have been a mediatory effort by Washington in such a testy situation involving a NATO ally and an “indispensable partner” — except that it is an affected party here. 
We in India may not want to recall that the killing of our fellow countryman and the critical injury caused to two other Indians by the US Navy in Dubai eight months ago is still apparently under ‘investigation’. But Washington will. 
Indeed, the Italian Marines issue becomes a test case for the international community — a precedent-setting case. Arguably, the US and Italy would have shared interests to uphold the immunity of their soldiers from foreign laws. And both are NATO powers, too. 

Posted in Diplomacy, Military, Politics.

6 Responses

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  1. Jaganniwas Iyer says

    The former diplomat seems to be more concerned than Cogresspeople themselves of imparting a halo of ‘toughness’ and flag-waving ‘patriotism’ to their Italian president. The entire drama bears a canny stamp of an orchestrated drama between GOI and the Italian regime (forget whose, as regimes in Rome change too frequently for anyone to remember) to bolster the Congress Italian boss ‘patriotic’ credentials and show how ‘tough’ she is when it comes to national issues,especially when scam after scam continues to open like a can of worms. The writer of course, can hardly conceal his leftist glee at the BJP being made to humble pie, which to him, is apparently much more important than national interest or honour being safeguarded. While I hold no brief for the BJP, let us see if the “strong” Sonia regime has the temerity to punish the sognora’s two fellow countrymen, or whether they walk away to their native land after yet another luxurious stay in Indian guesthouses, courtesy Indian taxpayers (for whom the Lefties don’t have much use, anyway). We’ll see how ‘tough’ the UPA regime at the centre is, Mr. Bhadrakumar, especially with home ministers like the current incumbent. Till then, hold your hosannas.
    Jaganniwas Iyer

  2. bharat says

    It was Supreme Court order to arrest Italian embasador that did the tricks..Even Govt trick would have led to their arrest..
    So don’t fool Indian youth with BS of past…

  3. vramanathan ramanathan says

    perhaps Sonia was cornered not only by political partires but by the outrage of common man. hence this reaction. shows she haas still links in Italy, where she can pull wires. V Ramanathan village rengasamudram

  4. Dr Ajay says

    My first reaction to the judo, karate moves of Mrs. SG (words of the inimitable Hon. MKB) was “Have we not heard this kind of chest thumping before?” as I rewound to similar sounding words of Mr. Shivraj Patil, post 26/11 carnage.
    Now, in 20-20 hindsight, thanks to the ‘Kabaddi touchdown’ by Mrs. SG. It looks that the Italian marines will now be brought back. To my mind that is great news.
    I react this way, not from super patriotic rhetoric. Indian foreign policy reactions often appear to be a ‘sell out’, pushover, apathetic or plain incompetent. Indians are sick of it. There are times to practice coercive diplomacy and get your way – as it was done here and the Norwegian child custody case. Respect is, ahem, to be earned.
    Now India needs to do visible right due process of justice which is parallel to UN, give the right diplomatic nice space to Italian marines and not bay for blood.

  5. Anonymous says

    Under International Diplomatic Convention (Treaty of Vienna), the Supreme Court of India has no right or authority to detain the Italian Ambassador. India can suspend relations with Rome and send the Ambassador home; it can recall its own Ambassador from Rome; it can curtail all commercial relationships with the Italian State,as well as a great number of other options. In detaining the Italian Ambassador, India looks silly in the eyes of international observers, by seemingly returning diplomatic relationships to the days of Genghis Khan, when the Islamists in Baghdad were stupid enough to behead his Ambassadors, wherein he subsequently destroyed the city after he had molten silver poured down the mouth of the City Governor. It is past time that the members of India’s Supreme Court grew up; they are acting like children.

  6. Indian Ullu says

    What is termed ‘diplomacy’,IS REALLY, in the analytical term of a citizen,

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