New Delhi: Indian public opinion and the Manmohan Singh government are the farthest from one another of all the administrations since independence, save perhaps for the short duration of Mrs Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. On the other hand, Mrs Gandhi also led public opinion on several occasions, creating, for one, Bangladesh out of East Pakistan bleeding from Pakistan Army genocide. In the face of the current runaway price rise, she would have taken tough measures to save the poor and the salaried middle class, whereas Manmohan Singh is unconcerned, and his finance minister is trying to loosen the anti-inflationary measures of the Reserve Bank.

On the Delhi gang-rape tragedy, the prime minister kept mum for a whole week, and then broke his silence with the words, “theekh hai”. Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president, chose to meet a carefully chosen section of the protesting students, in one more bid to manipulate public opinion, whilst her son, the heir apparent, was missing from action. The Union cabinet deported as rulers, not elected representatives. The same disconnect with public opinion has played up in the Mendhar tragedy, with the prime minister and Sonia Gandhi silent as usual, the cabinet speaking in different voices (Salman Khursheed appearing as a peacenik), and the air force chief, who vented the services’ anger and disgust at the beheading of a soldier, being “pulled up” by the government.

Why has the Manmohan Singh government become so isolated from public opinion?

Partly, it lies in the background and personalities of the two lead players, Sonia and Manmohan Singh, and in the environment of political disengagement, political correctness and sham secularism that has accompanied their nearly nine-year rule. All this, in turn, has eroded the institutions, particularly the law-and-order machinery and the military-strategic structure, left sections of society (particularly women) embattled within the country, and made India vulnerable in the neighbourhood, putting its rise in question. This writer has no hesitation in blaming Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh for the abject state of India.

As a person of foreign origin, Sonia Gandhi is emotionally disconnected from the country. Power in this country generally disconnects the powerful, but in her case, the situation has reached extreme. Her mother-in-law, Mrs Gandhi, or even her late husband, Rajiv, would have acted differently hearing of the Mendhar atrocity. At the least, the prime minister’s office would have broadcast a quick denunciation, and punitive military action would have been immediately evident on the ground. Salman Khursheed would have had no opportunity to fly his doves, and the military would not have been constrained from speaking. Up to a few hours ago, the army chief had not spoken. Why? Either he had been gagged, or he did not wish to court public controversy. Either way, it does not show him in good light. His posturing now seems a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Because Sonia Gandhi as a person of foreign origin who has no emotional connect with the country has not expressed outrage at the Mendhar incident, the PM has not thought proper to speak out. Insiders say Manmohan Singh only wants to hear the “good news” and praises as a “great” economist. There is also the American factor with Manmohan Singh, a rootless administrator from the Rajya Sabha. Seeking approval from the United States for all his actions, he cannot go against Pakistan. Because the US needs Pakistan for a smooth withdrawal from Afghanistan, India must not make trouble for Pakistan, and turn the other cheek.

To the Manmohan Singh government’s deep distaste and loathing, Indian public opinion refuses to follow the US grid, and social media is putting it in a leadership role. Some officers’ wives tweeted about the beheading taking the defence information network and the government by surprise. Once the news went viral and provoked a national storm, the government lost the game. For an Indian prime minister of a Congress-led government who bartered away India’s interests at Sharm-el-Sheikh, two mutilated soldiers at the Line of Control are hardly likely to spoil his sleep. The social media has since killed his joy.

And between Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, a callous administration confronts the people at every turn. In the Delhi anti-rape agitation, the police used water cannons, teargas, and batons. Citizens were locked out of Central Delhi for days so that the rulers could rest in peace. No politicians were in evidence anywhere. It is the same mindset that has been advertized in the Mendhar incident. Because the prime minister is hell-bent on peace with a savage Pakistan, the incident must be played down, and at least two newspapers became willing pawns in the game, blaming, through twisted logic, the Indian army for the beheading. The pro-Pakistan media section has been joined by so-called secularists and dodgy characters of the track-two circuit. They do not understand that Indian public opinion can no longer be calmed or contained against Pakistani barbarism.

Because the UPA-2 government has not acted swiftly and effectively to protect India’s interests, public opinion has turned against it and the Congress party. Public opinion has understood that a pattern has been established where the government has turned against the people. It was more than evident in the rape case, it has congealed to a blase attitude towards peaking inflation, and it is reflected in arrogant disregard for executive probity, highlighted by attacks on institutions such as the Comptroller and Auditor General. The Mendhar tragedy exposes the anti-people regime further. The Congress government is inexorably headed to a rout in 2014.