The man who would be PM

Back in those days when I was at college and Subramanian Swamy was a Havard-returned guest lecturer at our university, I remember one of our professors of political science watch the man grimly as he spoke more on economics than on politics.

The whole faculty was in ecstacies about his visit and thought he could become India’s Prime Minister one day. The professor who had been watching Dr Swamy grimly was the only one who rang a sour note. He was a RSS sympathiser and while my own political views were still to evolve, I remember him saying, “Swamy will get nowhere. Let alone to the office of the Prime Minister.”

His words, clearly, were prophetic but he was no soothsayer. The professor was closely connected to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh which had just been kicked in the teeth by Dr Swamy and he was basing his prediction on cold logic.

As students, we knew little about the political nuances of that era, except for the fact that the Janata Party experiment had failed because of the bickering of every leader in that party for the post of prime minister and that Mrs Indira Gandhi was back as PM again. It did not seem possible at that time that anyone outside the Nehru-Gandhis or the Congress could run a full term government at the Centre and Dr Swamy was someone we had never heard of at that time.

However, our professor said his premise was based more on Swamy’s character than on the tendency of the country to vote the Nehru-Gandhis. “Swamy stands for nothing but himself. He is just a gadfly. He goes wherever he pleases and does what suits him at any particular time, not caring for the consequences even to himself. That kind of a man does not get very far, let alone to the office of the prime minister.”

That’s how I began to take a mild interest in the shenanigans of Subramnian Swamy over the years as I took up journalism soon after university and then was steered towards political reporting.

For much of the time I did like the man and found his press conferences in the earlier days very engrossing. However, as the years flew past and his chances to become prime minister steadily diminished, I discovered a pettiness in the man with regard to even inconsequential people – like a local MP from the Congress in the 1980s who unexpectedly defeated the mighty Subramanian Swamy at a Lok Sabha election. Swamy could not stop holding press conferences and spilling the dirt he had dug up on the man, including trashing the MP’s claims to a privileged education. But that particular Congressman continued to win elections, even after Dr Swamy had long deserted his constituency and, at one time, also ended up as a minister. None of Dr Swamy’s dirt stuck to him, nothing was ever proved in the courts agaist him and now all the high drama of the days when Dr Swamy wanted to sting a man simply for legitimately winning against him at a democratic election is a distant memory.

However, over the years, I was never able to work out whose side Dr Swamy really was on as he jumped from Dr J Jayalalitha’s bandwagon to that of her rivals, from arranging a tea party between Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalitha to then abusing Sonia Gandhi for God knows what, to professing to belong to a secular party but propagating the kind of Hindutva that any true blue Hindu would be ashamed of supporting… When an article written by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani decribing him as a ‘diseased insect’ popped up, I recalled and finally understood what my professor pf political science had been saying all those yeara ago.

“This country has suffered many a misfortune but none greater than the vice and persistence in our public life of a despicable character called Subramanian Swamy. His has been a life of character assassination, malicious mendacity and sordid blackmail of any one who happens to cross his path. No body has been able to deflect him from his criminal course of conduct because few have the inclination to take on this vicious viper and expose him for what he really is.” Jethmalani had said about Dr Swamy.

Somewhat similar, though not in so many words or such strong invective, had been my professor’s description of Dr Swamy as economical with the truth, self-besotted and spiteful to nyone who crossed his path. And that was nealy 30 yeara ago. Clearly, Subramnian Swamy has stayed the course and not been deterred from pursuing his goal to be PM despite hs self-deeatng ways.

I do not hold nay brief for any of Dr Swamy’s targets but his recent shenanigans against union finance minister P Chidambaram and his subsequent harsh words against the judges who threw out his case against PC lead me to believe that both Jethmalani and my professor were right about Dr Swamy. Now he targets Sonia and Rahul Gandhi for alleged misappropriation and while I have no idea if he is right or wrong or simplybeing vicious and himself, I think I would not be wrong to presume he burns up with thw thought that at least Rahul might get to th office of the Prime Minister when a worthier person than him – like Dr Swamy himself – could not make it to the top.

But if Rahul does become PM he would be at the head of and with the backing of the entire Congress party, if nobody else. Who backs Subramanian Swamy? Not even the BJP! I finally understand what my professor, a relative of one of the sarsnaghchalaks, had told us: “The RSS will never forgive Swamy for what he did to them. And without the RSS, he will never get anywhere.” Perhaps that is why the BJP is unwilling to admit him to the party all these years later despite his entreaties in the past months.

Like my professor said, one who travels alone, might travel swiftly but chosen destinations may not always be reached without a guiding hand to steer you in the right direction.

Clearly, Subramanian Swamy is a victim of his own ambitions.

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