Who'sthe scam-kingpin and who'sthe petty whipping boy? The author explicates the ?Iraq oil for food? scam entailing a hideous saga that debunked the former union external minister K Natwar Singh. Corruption is palpable at all levels cutting across political parties; the malice has percolated down to all strata of Indian society, the top echelons amongst the worst affected. After wading in this quagmire one can hardly remain sacrosanct. To retain a suave veneer, these indicted personages resort to tossing a red herring by hurling charges at each other or citing a frivolous alibi to pass the buck. The sordid episode led debates in both the houses of the Parliament but remained defunct. The author sneaks his readers into this scam brewery milling with contagion.
Did the Congress lynchpin Natwar Singh become the scapegoat on account of his son Jagat Singh and his relative Andaleeb Sehgal who had impersonated by purchasing and selling vouchers from Saddam Hussein, under the name of the Congress party? They had obtained vouchers for a paltry three million barrel of oil whereas Reliance Petroleum had procured vouchers for 15 million barrels of oil. This prompted him to pun the book'sname thus: Reliance: The Real Natwar, natwar in Hindi having eponymous meaning of a master swindler. To procure the vouchers a certain amount of bribe had to be paid to the venal Iraqi officials. Under Indian Penal Code paying bribes is not venial but a cognizable and non-bailable offence with the statutory duty of the state to investigate and prosecute the offender.
The author lays bare the Volcker Committee report. His lucid threadbare analysis makes it ?amply evident that not only Natwar Singh'sson'scompany, but also Reliance had obtained the oil vouchers by paying bribes, and that all political parties, including the Congress… were fully in the know of the involvement of Reliance. Yet virtually none called for the investigation and prosecution of Reliance?, says Shanti Bhushan, former Law Minister in a foreword to the book. In his words, ?Agrawal establishes this convincingly by analysing the debates in Parliament with great acuity and clarity. Why were all these political parties shielding Reliance? Agrawal holds all political parties to be an accomplice tantamount to fraudster demagogues. The author levels several charges against Reliance and lampoons its maxim of ?growth through governance?.
The author divulges, ?that all the political parties get huge financial help from Reliance which is why they remain silent even at the most egregious violations of law by Reliance.? Perhaps the worst deprivation comes from the media, supposed to be a neutral watchdog. They too are in cahoots with Reliance doing an appeasement act and turn a blind eye to the gaffe failing to upkeep vigilante. If Reliance suzerainty has sway over political parties and can also gag the media though on its volition then the situation can prove detrimental to the democracy of our country. If public coffer be bungled and siphoned off by the guardians of society, sustainable development will ever remain bleak.
(Manas Publications, 4402/5A, Main Ansari Road, Adjacent to Bank of Baroda, Darya Ganj, New Delhi-110 002.)