THERE is just no other alternative. After the behaviour of the Congress-led members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that sought to discredit and dump the entire draft report on the 2G Spectrum allocation scandal through disreputable means, it is time for the people of India to demand the resignation of the government or if it fails to do so, to ask for its immediate dismissal and the holding of fresh elections to Parliament. It must be clearly made known to the Congress and the UPA that enough is enough.
The country has been patient for far too long in the matter of Congress shenanigans and the time has come for it to raise its voice as it has done in supporting Anna Hazare. Yes, former Communication Minister A Raja has been arrested after he was found to have done unbelievable harm to the national exchequer amounting to lakhs of crores of rupees. Yes, Suresh Kalmadi, too, had to be arrested in connection with the Commonwealth Games scams. But the behaviour of the UPA members of the PAC has been nothing less than atrocious. It has brought shame on the country. Murli Manohar Joshi did not leave the PAC meeting in a huff.
According to media reports he merely adjourned the meeting, seeking time to examine the allegations of discrepancies in the report, which he surely is entitled to do as chairman. If those who believed in his stand also left the meeting they have done nothing wrong. But for the rest of the members to “elect” Congressman Saifuddin Soz to the chair, ignoring the context in which Dr Joshi departed and forgetting the full composition of the PAC is to add insult to injury. A truncated committee can not vote against the report. That should be self-evident. Nor can such a committee choose a new chairman. That it has done so is indicative not only of the utter contempt the UPA government has for parliamentary democracy, but also shows that it will go to any extent to protect the corrupt.
For the Congress to condemn the draft report as “full of lies” is not only to jump to conclusions but to attempt to prevent further investigation. The UPA and its partners of questionable repute seem hell-bent upon devaluing and destroying leading institutions of our polity. One can understand their fears. Apart from coming down heavily on the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Cabinet Secretariat and the Department of Telecommunications, the draft report has also rapped the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram and his Ministry for failing to take action against those responsible for causing crores of rupees loss to the exchequer. The point is made that now that the truncated committee has voted against the draft report there is no way it can henceforth be submitted to the Speaker as if it was the PAC report. It must be remembered in the first place that no full discussion over the merits or demerits of the report took place.
In the second place, a report is a report and Mr Joshi would be fully justified to submit it as he has done to the speaker. In the third place there is nothing to prevent the Opposition in Lok Sabha from demanding a discussion on the contents of the Report as it is. Parliament has every right to discuss anything under the sun – or what is democracy about? The truth is that the Congress does not want its hypocrisy to be fully exposed but if it thinks that the public can be bamboozled into dropping charges against it, it is living in a fool’s paradise. Congress is a lost cause and the sooner and quicker it is shown the door, the better for the country. It is sunk so deep in corruption that nothing can save it. It is not in the matter of PAC alone that Congress has shown its lack of character.
A recent report in the media said that in Thiruvanantapuram, a former Congress Minister and senior leader of the party, KJ Ramachandra Master “wept publicly” claiming that he been often forced to be corrupt by his party colleagues – and he had resisted. And he quoted instances. Apparently, at Thiruvanantapuram many had wangled tickets in the present Assembly by paying huge sums of money. Corruption within the Congress is not of recent origin. According to a former Home Secretary, Madhav Godbole, writing in his classical study of the Indian Parliament called India’s Parliamentary Democracy on Trial, even “the Rajiv Gandhi government was rocked with one corruption scandal after another”. After Bofors it was the purchase of HDW submarines from West Germany. As Godbole put it “the image of Rajiv Gandhi as ‘Mr. Clean’ was repeatedly sullied….” And what was evident “again and again was his immaturity, arroganced and disdain for democratic norms”. The same “immaturity, arrogance and disdain for democratic norms” is being currently exhibited with no one to call the Congress to order. Things were no better under Indira Gandhi who was condemned by two international experts quoted by Godbole as showing “scant respect for the institution” of Parliament, spending less and less time in the House and using her majority to dominate the legislative process.
For standing up to Rajiv Gandhi, President Zail Singh faced prospects of getting impeached. For standing up to Congress misdeeds – especially for seeking to defend A Raja in a major scandal – PAC chairman Joshi is being abused. Happily, he has been re-appointed to chairmanship of PAC. But let this be said here and now: even if every attempt made to cover up Raja succeeds, in the ultimate analysis it is the voice of the public that will finally assert itself. It was that voice that supported Anna Hazare and the UPA government can rest assured that if it tries to black out the draft report on the 2G Spectrum scam, the people will once again rise to the occasion and demand the immediate sacking of the UPA government.
After all that the country has witnessed – including the failure of Dr Manmohan Singh to discipline Raja – the time has come for the UPA government to be sacked, if it refuses to resign on its own. It is not just Raja who is to be blamed. The DMK and in the end, everyone supporting the DMK should also be judged guilty and denied the right to belong to any coalition. It is the voice of the people that should prevail and that voice can only be expressed through fresh election. Dr Manmohan Singh long ago lost the peoples faith. Corruption within the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are too well-known. If it is on their support that the Congress wants to survive, god alone can save the country.