Gandhian legacy sullied

By Sanjay Kapoor

Something is really wrong somewhere. All of yesterday we read in the newspapers and watched on TV government of India expressing its steely resolve to prevent the auction of Mahatma Gandhis’s memorabilia. Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office was supposed to be keeping a close watch on the happenings in New York and Los Angeles- where the auction took place. Today’s morning newspapers joyfully were announcing how these efforts had paid off and the auction would not take place.
News coming in from Los Angeles told a different story though. Gandhi’s iconic belongings that came under the gavel were picked up from the proceeds of liquor money put up by United Breweries Chairman Vijay Mallya. He snapped them up for a whopping $ 1.8 million. Gandhi, who all his fight championed prohibition and taught his followers about the evils of liquor consumption, would be turning in his grave with the way his prized legacy was saved by the beer baron. One wonders when poor Gandhi’s loin cloth will be bid!
Congress led government- Mahatma Gandhi was associated with it- should be ashamed that they allowed a teetotaler, prohibitionist Mahatma’s considerable legacy to be sullied by someone who preaches values that are diametrically opposite.
American film maker and collector, Otis, who owned these antiques, would go laughing to the bank and so would his PR agency that kicked up such a fabulous global campaign about how Gandhi’s belongings had to be rescued by the Indian government.
Television images show that there were other bidders, too, in Los Angeles. Sant Singh Chatwal, an hotelier with a dubious past, was also present there. He had promised to go up to $ 1 million to pick up Gandhi’s steel framed glasses and zenith watch. Chatwal and Mallya, Hardnews learns, represented “plan B” for the Indian government if its efforts to stop the auction did not work.
It is not clear under what circumstances Mallya put up the money to clinch the bid, but he has given an impression of being cash strapped. Not, too, long ago he had sought relief from the government for his recession hit airline. His company had claimed that they did not have the money to repay landing fees to Airport Authority of India. The cheques that were given to the government company were undated and unsigned. One believes that that Mallya’s company has made amends since then.
The beer baron’s “service to the nation” is unlikely to go unrewarded. It will be interesting to see how hedonist "King of Good Times", Mallya, spins his Gandhian acquisition.

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2009 elections

India today more than any time of its history needs the Congress Party to get a majority in these elections. We are a country of proud people and good governance secular in action sincere in thought and visionary in execution can only be provided by the Congress Party. The recent spurt of regional parties fighting the elections on their vote banks on caste and religious lines is dangerous for our secular existance.
What we need is a strong National Party clear in image, with the promise to further development and expand infrastructure clear the bueracratic hurdles and to work for all the people of India irrespective of region, caste or religion. It is my humble opionion that at this juncture only the Congress party is truly secular and has the vision to take us forward. Let us all strengthen the Hands of Congress and vote for them and their allies. Jai Ho and Jai Hind