India is just days away from electing a new government and yet there seems to be no dearth of controversies plaguing the political space. Keen to hem in the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, the UPA government was more than eager to go ahead with naming a judge for the ‘snoopgate’ inquiry before May 16. This desire, however, did not go down well with two coalition partners: The NCP and the National Conference both opposed the move to appoint a judge in the “dying hours” of the government and made their displeasure known. Finally, good sense prevailed and the government on Monday decided to leave the handling of the ‘snoopgate’ case to the next government.
This was, however, not the first decision that could have been delayed till the next government took over. In the last week of April, when the elections were well underway, the UPA appointed former chief of the air staff Norman Anil Kumar Browne as India’s next ambassador to Norway. Then there is the ongoing issue of the appointment of the army chief. Instead of leaving the decision to the next government, the UPA seemed very keen to decide on the new chief. The present army chief will retire on July 31. Since the model code of conduct is in place, the case is now with the Election Commission (EC). The poll panel will take a call anytime this week on the reference made by the government on whether or not it could go ahead with the process for appointing a new army chief. In an interview to a national daily last week, even election commissioner HS Brahma said that there was enough time to take a decision. In any case, the new appointee will have to work with a new dispensation and it is in the best interests of all that the name is announced by whoever comes to power.
The government must realise that while it is well within its right to make such decisions, it should desist from taking such decisions because it just raises too many questions about propriety and is seen as an attempt to settle scores with political opponents. In fact, coalition partners in the UPA should take the credit for behaving more maturely than the Congress by asking it not to go ahead with the inquiry in the snoopgate case.