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Millennium Post

Sleeping with the snooping beauty

With regime change, comes declaration of independence. Veteran diplomat and former external affairs minister K Natwar Singh, after being suitably freed of the fetters and tethers associated with being pinned to a particular power at the centre, in this case the Congress-led former UPA regime, has made revelations so staggeringly startling that they threaten to pull off a very thick carpet from under the hallowed feet of the party top gun.

Natwar Singh has clearly moved beyond airing bitterness and giving vent to pent up emotions as he did in his explosive autobiography One Life Is Not Enough. Much like another political memoir by a journalist, Singh too has alleged that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had access to all government files and lorded over Manmohan Singh’s every decision. However, in a new spree of confessions, the former MEA chief has given fresh ammunition to the stocked arsenal of the staunch critics of Sonia-Manmohan brigade. Natwar has said United States Central Intelligence Agency agents ‘had penetrated deep into every sphere of decision and policy making of the UPA regime,’ thereby calling into question the very premise of the former union government and casting doubt on the legitimacy of its decade-long existence.

Revelations like Washington had tried its best to stop Pranab Mukherjee from becoming the finance minister in the Manmohan Singh government, and that the dispensation was compromised at every level of both decision making and policy directions, willingly agreeing to extensive surveillance by US National Security Agency and its covert subsidiaries, are the proverbial last nails on the political coffin of a heavily discredited and outvoted former government. The latest expositions are likely to keep away Congress and the Gandhi dynasty for a long, long time from consecrated corridors of Lutyens’ Delhi, especially 7 Race Course Road.

But that is only one side of the story. Despite dirges being sung on the death of privacy and cyber behemoths snooping at every aspect of our lives, can we really allow the government of a sovereign nation and a democratic republic to be deliberately allowing mass surveillance of its top authorities? Every politician, bureaucrat, corporate honcho, policy maker, civil rights activist, academician, thinker, among scores of others with an iota of public presence, had been spied on under the UPA regime.

Not only that, Salman Khurshid, one of the more debonair and media-savvy external affairs ministers that UPA had, had actively supported and defended NSA’s PRISM, a system of surveillance deployed to snoop on diplomats at major consular hubs and embassies, in the name of intelligence sharing. What the Narendra Modi government needs to rectify immediately is the extremely unequal relationship that India has shared with US for long.
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