THE Sentinel is a leading paper from Guwahati, Assam, but like most regional papers it is seldom heard of. But what it has to say about the “mysterious delay” observed by Sonia Gandhi in attacking corruption is highly relevant. The paper (December 23) said Sonia Gandhi “has been a silent witness (like thousands others in her party) to the rapidly increasing number of MPs with criminal records or criminal charges against them”.
To quote the paper in full because it has some important things to say: “It is only through corrupt practices that they have been able to dodge the Election Commission and file nominations seeking election to the Lok Sabha or the State Assemblies. And, as their numbers increase in the Legislature, it becomes increasingly difficult to enact laws that will deal more firmly with criminals and crimes, including corruption. These lawmakers are creating a diabolical vested interest geared to the task of protecting crime and criminals. In the statements of personal assets filed for election to the 14th and the 15th Lok Sabha, it was noticed that more than a score of Lok Sabha MPs had increased their personal assets by ten times or more the second time. Sonia Gandhi’s son Rahul Gandhi, too belongs to this exclusive list. What prevented Sonia Gandhi from asking all the MPs of her praty including her son by what magic they had increased their personal assets ten-fold within a span of just five years? Why was this issue not raised at the time when the nation went to the polls for the 15th Lok Sabha? Why were the initiatives not taken up or even considered in 2008 when The Pioneer exposed the main elements of the 2G swindle? The nation would like a categorical and convincing answer”.
To tell the truth, the nation will never get an answer. As early as December 15, The Hindu had raised a similar question. It also deserves to be adequately quoted. It said that Sonia Gandhi “has used a college debater’s trick to attack the Opposition’s demand for a proper investigation into the 2G telecom spectrum scandal”. To quote it more fully: “She has set up an Aunt Sally by equating their call with the act of denigrating the sanctity of the institution of Prime Minister in particular. The irony is that it is the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government that is weakening the institutional foundations of good governance in the country. First, the principle of Cabinet accountability was given the heave-ho by allowing a telecom Minister to run a free-lance spectrum allocation policy despite the objections of several Ministries and of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself. Secondly, the supposedly independent CBI has allowed its investigative responsibilities to be compromised by political consideration. Thirdly, the UPA government appointment as Central Vigilance Commissioner a man who is not only facing charges of individual wrong-doing but who also helped run the Ministry whose actions are being investigated by the CBI. Fourthly, it has allowed senior Ministers and party spokespersons to cash aspersions on the quality of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s audit account of 2G spectrum allocation. Most damning of all, the Congress stands guilty of being a party to the paralysis that gripped Parliament in the last session as a result of the stand-off with the Opposition over the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee….”
On the 125th anniversary of party’s birth, it has brought undying shame to it. The founders of the party and its great stalwarts somewhere in heaven must be weeping profusely at the manner in which the institution they helped raise has been brought to the gutter. The refusal of the Congress to let JPC examine the scam has brought strong negative reaction from the media. “Why shy away from a JPC?” asked The Free Press Journal (November 29), saying “this is what happens when you have an amateur politician nominated as a Prime Minister”. The paper said “the Congress opposition to set up a JPC itself arouses suspicion” adding: “Given the fact that the government has been indicated by the Comptroller and Auditor General for the 2G scam, putting the likely loss at a whopping Rs 1.76 lakh crore, the Opposition is justified in insisting on a JPC to inquire into all aspects of the scandal.
The government refuses to concede the demand fearing that the JPC might probe deeper than is good for its comfort. Sonia Gandhi might say that any attack on Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is “despicable” but, as The New Indian Express (December 11) put it, “at every stage of the sordid drama, the government acted only when it was left with no other option.” And in all this, asked the paper, “what leadership role did the Prime Minister play except to shield the corrupt and the guilty?”. Good question.
One would have expected a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court not to get involved in any way in the 2G scandal. But now KG Balakrishnan is in trouble. Said Deccan Herald (December 17): “The disclosure by supreme court Judge HL Gokhale that former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan knew that it was former Union Minister A Raja who had allegedly tried to influence Madras High Court judge Raghupathy in an anticipatory bail case, exposes the former CJI as a liar”. It added : “This also makes him unfit to hold his present position of the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission. A person who had no regard for the integrity of the judiciary, is guilty of derelection of duty and lied in public about it, should not hold such a high constitutional position. His credibility has been damaged…”
What has this great country come to when a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is damned as a liar? It is sickening even more to see the party’s general secretary Digvijay Singh stoking controversies as in the matter of the killing of Hemant Karkare. Said “The Hitavada: “Mr Digvijay’s statement will be used by the anti-national forces to weaken the country as well as harm the case against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack.” It added (December 14): “Mr Digvijay should be more cautious while making such statements because there is a question of national security involved.” But who cares for national security when it is more fashionable to spew venom at the Opposition? The Congress? Digvijay Singh? Rahul Gandhi who himself seems bent on rousing communal sentiments over the Babri Masjid issue? The party is running itself to the ground with no one around to call it to order. A former general secretary JB Kripalani must be sheeding tears in his heaven at what is going on now.