UPA launches Sonia bachao operation cover-up
By M.D. Nalapat
Thanks to a Prime Minister, who like a bureaucrat always takes dictation from his political boss, India is back in the days when a single family ruled the land. The fact that she has not taken an oath of secrecy means that the retailing to her of sensitive governmental business by officials of the Enforcement Directorate is a breach of the Official Secrets Act, not to speak of the impropriety of the ED taking dictation from the very head of the political party accused of accepting money from Saddam Hussein. But these are days when senior PMO officials trot daily to 10 Janpath for instructions. As for the Prime Minister, reports have it that he was present on one occasion when the UPA Chairperson consulted a distinguished former Union Law Minister on ways to escape jeopardy as a consequence of the revelations of the Volcker Report. The entire UPA is now pre-occupied with a single objective, saving The Leader from the stain of Volcker.
Since May 2004, when UPA took over there has been a steady effort to create rules and laws that would criminalise wide swathes of normal activity. This would put in place a legal framework to enable the intimidation and harassment of citizens. Under Palaniappan Chidambaram the Income-tax Department?on the subjective satisfaction of an officer?can take away the liberty and the assets of any citizen after the most perfunctory of enquiries. Software and education were two sectors that have been developing rapidly in India. In order to protect the interests of China, both are being sought to be hobbled by fresh legislation that would have the effect of reversing the pattern of the post-Nehruvian years, when economic advancement was no longer seen as subversive of social order. This is not the PM'sdoing. Manmohan Singh is Prime Minister only in name, as authority over the Government of India vests with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, much like in China, where Prime Minister Wen Jiabao reports to Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao
The difference between Hu Jintao and Sonia Gandhi is that the latter is effectively above the law. Indeed, the unwritten ?Basic Law? in the UPA constitution?to which all is constituents and supporters tacitly and often vocally subscribe?is that The Leader Sonia Gandhi is above any accountability. Small wonder that nine weeks after the Volcker Report named the Congress Party as a beneficiary in the Saddam bribes scam, no action has been taken to question that party'spresident. Instead, officials of the Enforcement Directorate have taken shelter in the fact that the bank accounts of the party have not seen a rupee of the Iraq funds. Clearly, the ED is unaware that this is equally the fate of the numerous deliveries made by Congress chief ministers with years of experience in handling ?heavy luggage?. It is obvious that the individual who took the money on behalf of the Congress Party diverted it to a personal account. Manmohan Singh has decreed that it is against the UPA'sinvisible constitution that his boss be investigated in this scam, even though logic points otherwise.
A comprehensive conspiracy has been initiated within the UPA administration to ensure that Sonia Gandhi escapes even a perfunctory investigation into the many interactions that she had with key individuals in the Saddam Hussein regime, including the then Oil Minister of Iraq. Thanks to the ED taking orders from her rather than freezing the records of such meetings, including telephone calls made to the Natwar Singh mission to Baghdad, the risk is high that logs and other records relating to such meetings will by now have disappeared
This is not the PM'sdoing. Manmohan Singh is Prime Minister only in name, as authority over the Government of India vests with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, much like in China, where Prime Minister Wen Jiabao reports to Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao.
Volcker'sIndependent Inquiry Committee named both Natwar Singh and the Congress Party as beneficiaries in the Oil-for-Food scam. Those in the know claim that Natwar Singh was merely a facilitator for the transactions that sealed his fate, while actual responsibility for them lay elsewhere. Indeed, they say that the choice of the by now cowed Aneil Mathrani to accompany Natwar Singh was made by the Congress leadership rather than by Shri Singh, and that the brief of the former envoy to Croatia was to see that Singh did as he was told. The Congress Party is a centralised organisation where all decision-making power vests with Sonia Gandhi, who was in office when the illicit payments from the deposed Iraqi dictator were alleged to have been made. Even today, no key announcement is made, whether by the PM or by any other top functionary without checking back with her or her office. However, as yet neither she nor Natwar Singh has been questioned by the Enforcement Directorate. No records from either their offices and residences have been taken away for examination, nor have they been sealed and protected
Instead, the Enforcement Directorate has been questioning bit players in place of the principal actors. There were, and are, no charges against Aneil Mathrani, who was recalled from his diplomatic assignment in Croatia within hours of an interview given by him to India Today becoming public. However, despite this, Mathrani was taken away by officers of the Enforcement Directorate and ?interrogated? for days. Certainly there may be, for example, hotel receipts of trysts in exotic locations in the possession of official agencies. These days, Indians travel in their millions, and because the laws are such that much of normal activity has deliberately been defined as criminal, many innocents frequently make technical transgressions of the laws. These are used to bludgeon them into giving testimony that suits the rulers, in this case, 10 Janpath. Mathrani is now singing a song that must be music to The Leader'sears. Now, according to the former envoy to Croatia, the AICC President was ?unaware? of just who went to Baghdad to discuss business with Saddam'smen,even though telephone records tell a different story, one of constant checking back and forth during the mission. Of course, neither will Natwar Singh talk, nor Mathrani change his tune. That would be inconsistent with the UPA constitution, according to which Sonia Gandhi can do no wrong. Now we can await Mathrani's?disclosure? that Sonia Gandhi was not present, and that only he and Natwar Singh were, when sundry Saddam henchmen and women paid visits to 10 Janpath. The slew of defamatory stories about him indicates that the hatchet job on the chosen hatchet man has begun
Aneil Mathrani, say insiders, is fully aware of just who asked the disgraced former External Affairs Minister to proceed to Baghdad. At the time when he went there, Natwar Singh was unwell and reportedly unwilling to go, yet it was insisted upon that he should, and like a loyal soldier, he did. The question is: will the Jat prince place a single individual'sinterests above those of the nation, or will he reveal the truth? Natwar Singh'sprimary failing is an obsessive loyalty?akin to bondage?towards Sonia Gandhi. This is what is likely to lead him, or son Jagat, to prison, as they play the role of scapegoats in the drama that has been scripted by the conspirators working to protect the UPA Chairperson.
What happened to Aneil Mathrani is inexplicable, yet there has been zero outcry from the media, including from the publication whose interview with him led to the loss of his job and possibly his freedom. Tomorrow, using the Emergency-style Mathrani precedent, the Enforcement Directorate or the CBI can deprive citizens of their liberty for an unspecified period of time and bully them into conduct that is convenient for their political bosses, even in the absence of any proof, let alone charges, against them. Insiders confirm that the Finance Minister made repeated enquiries about the progress of the Mathrani interrogation, presumably so that he could brief The Leader. Chidambaram has demonstrated commendable loyalty to Sonia Gandhi, just as he did to Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 when he advised the then PM to attempt to pass a law gagging the press as the clamour over Bofors mounted.
So blatant is the UPA in protecting The Leader that even an FIR has not been filed over the Volcker revelations, even against ?Person or persons unknown?. Only by such an action can international police resources be activated to make genuine enquiries (as distinct from the Pathak-Dayal kind) about the facts and circumstances concerning the Volcker revelations. However, the lack of an FIR or any case against him did not stand in the way of the abduction and interrogation of the pliable Aneil Mathrani, who was denied even the courtesies due to him because of his ambassadorial rank. In what has become a Pizza Republic, those that are marked in future show trials as accessories are deemed to be guilty until declared otherwise by The Leader
Sonia Gandhi is fortunate in the fact that Pakistan, the United States, China, the European Union and the Gulf countries uniformly find her convenient to have as the effective Head of Government in India. Thus, they can be relied upon to help the cover-up of her role that is now under way. Those who point to her, even tangentially, will feel the heat both nationally and internationally. If Manmohan Singh is to recover his hard-won reputation for integrity and conscience, he will need to tell the officers of the CBI and the ED?many of whom are outstanding individuals?to go after the guilty, no matter how high they be, rather than intimidate whistleblowers. Hopefully, the NDA will atone for its mysterious inaction whilst in office by ensuring that, in the matter of the Volcker Report, the individual actually responsible for the dealings with Saddam Hussein gets spotlighted, and not minions who have been selected for slaughter so as to mislead and thereby appease public opinion.