One of the longest serving, senior most and the richest Congress party leader, Kamal Nath, has also been one of the Gandhi family’s most trusted lieutenant.
He walked the steps of Lok Sabha for the first time in the year 1980, and since then he has only ascended in the party hierarchy. This wasn’t the most jubilant year for Congress, as this is was the year when the party had lost a prominent member from the Gandhi family—Sanjay Gandhi; Kamal Nath’s friend since school. Four years after the incident, Indira Gandhi was killed by her Sikh body guards, and that’s when Kamal Nath, ostensibly, displayed his unflinching loyalty towards the party. Always known for his strong-arm tactics to browbeat his opponents, Kamal Nath’s involvement in 1984 Sikh riots, when 8000 innocent Sikhs were massacred, didn’t surprise many; albeit years later he walked away scot-free, and the Sikh community of India was left flabbergasted.
Sikh riots is one of the many quagmires Kamal Nath had been involved in over the years. Here is a politician, whose political career has been marred by shocking controversies, and has so far been known as the King maker, but has never been able to claim the ivory throne to himself.
Kamal Nath, who was drafted into politics by Sanjay Gandhi, also finds mention in many of the WikiLeaks reports; a report from 1976, mentions Kamal Nath as the man who revealed to an American Consul General, that India had plans to make two nuclear bombs, and that it was planning another “peaceful explosion”, as the one India had conducted in the year 1974, which was famously called the Smiling Buddha project. The consul general makes a special mention of KamalNath’s brashness and his close association to the Gandhi family. These were times, when India was treated as a pariah state by the NATO family, and it was India’s nuclear test that paved way to the creation of Nuclear Suppliers group in 1975. Kamla Nath’s statement on Indian nukes were liking adding fuel to fire on an issue for which the Indira government had earned the ire of governments from across the globe. Wonder if he ruminates on this?
But then it doesn’t end here. The “bada bhai”, as he’s lovingly called by many within Congress party, has controversy as his middle name. After the Bofor’s scam had burnt a hole in Rajiv Gandhi and Congress’s reputation, Jain Hawala case , rocked Congress’s boat in the year 1996. Probably this was the first time a scandal had created pandemonium that swept across the Indian political establishment. P.V.Narsimha Roa, had opened a pandora’s box by letting the charge sheet to be filed against eminent Indian politicians; the CBI-charge sheet had named many stalwarts like Kamal Nath, Madhavrao Scindia, Yashwant Sinha, L.K.Advani, who had apparently received huge stacks of cash from the Jain brothers. But then to this date, neither Congress party nor BJP likes itself to be remotely associated with a case which had axe hovering over the head of many of its senior leaders.
Money and nukes seem to have been Kamal Nath’s obsession, because WikiLeaks had also stumbled upon a more recent controversy in which Kamal Nath not only offered crores as bribe to his fellow politicians, but also enticed them with Jet airplanes; in the words of a Congressman “formerly he could offer only small planes as bribes”. This quote adds salt to the wounds of a common man in India, who has a mere hand to mouth existence. This incident happened in the year 2008, when Congress had been leading a wobbly coalition government, and was also responsible to get a clear passage for the critical vote in the parliament on the civilian nuclear deal between India and America. The report says United States Embassy diplomat was informed by a Congress party leader that money worth triple digits, in crores, were spent back then, or probably more.
Apart from the sporadic mentions in scams worth crores, with god knows how many zeroes, Kamal Nath on a more regular basis keeps himself busy by making controversial statements, which he deftly uses to insert communal wedges among Indians. Search engines show up tons of results when the keyword Kamal Nath is mentioned with other words like Hindus, Muslims, bureaucrats, and so on and so forth. With Congress party’s win in Madhya Pradesh, it appears, his regular and occasional hobbies have been fetching great results for Congress.
This is vaguely reminiscent of Joseph De Maistre’s statement—we get a government we deserve.