HAVING scuttled the Winter Session of the Parliament through sheer obstinacy, the Congress Party has mounted a campaign to mislead people into thinking that the Opposition was responsible for the entire session ending in a fiasco. The NDA has already placed the facts before the public and it is common knowledge that a corruption-ridden, scam-tainted and fragile UPA Government brought the Parliament to its knees only to protect the guilty men and women of the most gigantic loot of taxpayers’ money in the nation’s history.
The people of India know that corruption runs in the veins of the Congress Party. Over the last several decades, successive Congress Governments have scripted a saga not only of open pilferage of public money but also weakened institutions, subverted the democratic process and indulged in other forms of self-serving practices that have fundamentally damaged the moral fabric of the nation. The electoral process has been systematically corrupted by the infusion of money and muscle power by a Congress desperate to cling on to office at any cost. The Emergency was the most brazen expression of this tendency.
Although the amount looks paltry by today’s standards of corruption, the Bofors scam still rankles every Indian. The UPA Government went to the extent of de-freezing the London bank account held by Italian wheeler-dealer Ottavio Quattrochchi, in which the Bofors kickbacks was believed to have been parked. Emboldened by getting away with the Bofors pay-offs, successive Congress regimes engaged in mass scale corruption but tweaked the system to ensure that no action was taken against the culprits. The urea scandal, in which public money was siphoned off to pay dubious traders based in Turkey although no fertilizer ever reached India, has not faded from public memory.
Such examples can be multiplied manifold. When late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said that only 15 paise out of every rupee spent by the Government reached the poor, he was in fact merely acknowledging the monument of corruption built by his party over the decades. But the UPA Governments under the tutelage of an apparently honest Prime Minister has surpassed all benchmarks set by predecessor Congress Governments in the matter of corruption.
While the NDA led the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the humungous 2G spectrum scandal, the fact that non-NDA parties including the Left and other regional parties fully supported our move testifies to the Congress’s isolation inside and outside the Houses. In fact, according to media reports, several UPA partners too tried to persuade the Congress to agree to the Opposition’s legitimate demand for a JPC. But the Congress stubbornly refused to see reason and preferred to sacrifice the entire session of the Parliament without assigning a single credible reason why a JPC could not be constituted.
The NDA wanted the Parliament to function because it wanted to debate other massive scams like the Commonwealth Games swindle, the Adarsh Housing Society scandal, the disbursal of large sums to dubious companies by public financial institutions like LIC and PSU banks, the huge pilferage of funds in MNREGA.
Not only scams, the NDA also wanted to raise burning issues of national concern such as the situation prevailing in Jammu & Kashmir. It would have questioned the Government on the bizarre remarks made by the so-called official interlocutors whose role remains undefined. The NDA wanted to raise the subject of the Central Government’s continuing apathy towards Bhopal gas tragedy victims and demand revelation of details regarding the “fixer” who negotiated a raw deal for the sufferers, as mentioned in the autobiography of legal luminary B Sen.
We would have also asked the Government to tell the country what it has done to implement the unanimous resolution seeking urgent steps to contain inflation and bring relief to the aam adami. The Government has merrily ignored the letter and spirit of the resolution adopted in the Monsoon Session, while the common householder continues to reel under galloping prices of essential commodities. So, to suggest that the NDA was not interested in the Houses functioning is a travesty of the truth and the Congress knows that very well.
The Government had everything to hide and NDA had everything to gain by placing facts of these scandals before the nation through the Parliament. NDA leaders pledged not only to fully cooperate with the Government in resuming normal working of the two Houses within hours of the Government agreeing to a JPC but even offered to make up for lost time by sitting longer hours. All important issues could have been debated threadbare and legislative business conducted in a conducive atmosphere had the Government not been so illogically adamant.
Why did the Congress not agree to a JPC? The people of India have a right to know and the Congress has to give an answer. But we believe that the UPA had two concerns. First, it did not want the corruption issue to be examined minutely by parliamentarians as the subject would have remained alive for longer than the ruling party wanted. Second, it had become increasingly apparent that disgraced former Telecom Minister A Raja was not the sole beneficiary of the spectrum swindle. The money trail would have led to persons whom the Congress party was desperate to shield.
If the Government believes that the matter will now get hushed up, we can confidently tell them that they are living in a fool’s paradise. The NDA’s stand has been vindicated at every step by pronouncements and observations on this issue in the Supreme Court. The Government’s attempt to prevent a Vigilance Commission probe into this has been snubbed by the apex court, which has questioned the appointment of PJ Thomas as Chief Vigilance Commissioner despite a note of dissent submitted by Smt Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. A thick-skinned Government has chosen to brazen out the mounting criticism of its shameless robbery of the public exchequer and the subsequent cover-up.
Now that the Government has stonewalled normal functioning of the Parliament lest its shenanigans get further public exposure, the NDA has decided to take these issues directly to the people. We will not allow the Government to enjoy its success in scuttling the Winter Session and rest in smug satisfaction. Starting from December 22, 2010 the NDA will launch a relentless campaign on the streets to expose the most corrupt regime in India’s history. We will go to every nook and corner of the country to mobilise public opinion against the scam-covered UPA Government.
NDA will not rest till the Government is made to account for every rupee that it embezzled from the exchequer. We seek the support and enthusiastic participation of every patriotic Indian in this mahayajna to expose the corrupt and seek appropriate justice against those who looted the country over the last six years. This pursuit now moves to the people’s court.