By Soroor Ahmed (NVONews.Com)
Whenever Prime Minister Manmohan Singh takes a flight to East it is marred by some trouble from within. His entire three day trip to Myanmar was embroiled in controversy because of the sensational allegations levelled by Team Anna that he and his 14 ministers are corrupt. Though Anna Hazare, and later another member of his Team and former Lokayukta of Karnataka, Justice (Retired) Santosh Hegde, dissociated themselves from the allegations the very timing of the disclosures made by Bhushans––Shanti and Prahant––and Arvind Kejriwal raised questioned.
Some media houses, especially television channels, deemed it better to pay more attention to the allegations levelled by the Team Anna rather than on the significant visit to Myanmar.
Though first External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and then Manmohan Singh himself strongly refuted the charge there is no dearth of politicians cutting across the party lines who questioned the manner in which the allegations were levelled against the Prime Minister of the country. Even the RSS has strongly criticized the Team Anna for the way it is tarnishing the office of the Prime Minister.
What came as a surprise is Team Anna leader Prashant Bhushan’s statement that Anna is himself not aware of the corruption of Prime Minister as the documents related to him is in English and could not be translated in time for Anna to read in Hindi. But the moot question remains as to why was he in so hurry to launch a direct allegation on the Prime Minister of the country. It the matter is so simple then they should have waited for some more time and let Anna himself launch the attack on Manmohan.
In this cacophony the visit to Myanmar got relatively less coverage. The truth is that the visit of US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to Myanmar last December, of British Prime Minister David Cameron and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in April last got much more global media attention than of Manmohan Singh’s trip, because the Indian Press remained engrossed in something else.
The trip to Myanmar was important because it was for the first time that any Indian Prime Minister was in that country in a quarter of a century and it was largely undertaken to check the growing strategic and economic interest of China in the region. The visit also explored the air, land and water routes to Myanmar.
The Indian Prime Minister met President Thein Sein in the sprawling 100-room Presidential Palace on Monday and also called on pro-democracy leader and Nobel Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday to extend Sonia Gandhi’s invitation to her to deliver the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture. Suu Kyi has a long association with India.
But the visit to Myanmar is not the only one to be affected by unpleasant developments within the country. When Manmohan Singh visited Bangladesh in September last year––first after 1999 by any Indian PM––it too was marred by the last minute controversy created by the West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, who refused to accompany him as she had strong reservation over the distribution of river Teesta waters. She alleged that she was not taken into confidence over the issue prior to the visit.
Whether her allegation was true or not the last minute cancellation of the visit by Mamata left Manmohan Singh high and dry in Dhaka. The West Bengal chief minister has a good relationship with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina Wajed.
Both Bangladesh and Myanmar are rich in oil and gas and the United States too has an eye on them. Hillary, after paying her visit to Myanmar last December came to West Bengal a couple of weeks back. Soon after that the Myanmar foreign minister made his first trip to Washington.
Though the East is acquiring so much global importance, the manner in which Manmohan Singh is being embarrassed on his trip to the region compels one to ask whether those creating such a situation are aware of the changing realities? Or whether they are doing so consciously?