HAVING failed miserably to check corruption and soaring inflation, the Congress-led government at the Centre needed major surgery, including some amputations, to do some good for body politic. But, typically, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have not opted for any meaningful operation, not even cosmetic surgery; he is content with a gentle facial.
A good thing seems to be the removal of Jairam Ramesh from the Ministry of Environment & Forests. In a bid to placate the econuts, this man launched a jihad to jeopardise industrialisation. Project after project was torpedoed citing environmental reasons. Ramesh presented a retrograde world view in which progress is the enemy of environment and the ideal life can be lived only if all of us give up the advances and civilisation and starts living as our Stone Age ancestors did.
Unsurprisingly, Ramesh’s dogmatic pursuance of a perverse ideology has not brought any penalty or reprimand; quite the contrary, regressive policies have helped him get elevated to the Cabinet rank, with Rural Development as portfolio. No bad deed goes unrewarded in the Sonia raj.
Jayanthi Natarajan replaces him in the Environment Ministry with Independent charge. Evidently, she has received prize for stubbornly defending as a Congress spokesperson the misdeeds of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ministers. Defending the indefensible is her forte, as it is of other Congress spokespersons such as Manish Tiwari and Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
With Mamata Banerjee moving to West Bengal, the Railways Ministry was rendered headless. Coupled with the UPA’s general neglect of important aspects of life and economy, this resulted into financial weakening and operational hiccups, the spurt in accidents being one of the manifestations of the serious malaise. UPA bosses and the Prime Minister have decided to keep the Railways under the Trinamool Congress. Dinesh Trivedi is the new minister.
Reshuffle in the Union Council of ministers is also deeply flawed because Home Minister P. Chidambaram has not even been touched, despite his role in the 2G allocation raising eyebrows in several quarters. Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman recently said when the 2G spectrum licences were issued, Chidambaram, who was then Finance Minister, had gone against his own officials and favoured a decision that led to a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
“On January 9, 2008, an additional secretary in the Finance Ministry had clearly suggested adoption of the auction route for spectrum usage charges. On January 15, the Finance Minister sent a note to the PM that the government adopts the auction route for future spectrum allocations and treat all allocations made in the past as a closed chapter,” she said.
Other leaders who have accused Chidambaram of involvement in the 2G Scam are Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, BJP president Nitin Gadkari, and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy. Jayalalithaa has also questioned the legitimacy of his election as a Parliamentarian in the last general polls.
Swamy, who played a stellar role in unravelling the spectrum allocation scandal, alleged last month that Chidambaram received kickbacks. Swamy has already moved a special application in the Supreme Court in this connection. “We have evidence now that P Chidambaram had three separate meetings with A. Raja and decided on to grant 2G licences at 2001 prices. Chargesheet against Raja says that he is guilty because he fixed 2001 prices for the 2G Spectrum, so Chidambaram too is guilty now,” Swamy alleged.
The least Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister could have done was drop the tainted minister from the Cabinet. By letting him continue as Home Minister, the UPA bosses have not hurt the cause of transparency; they have proved that their fight against corruption is a charade.
Similarly, the continuance of Human Resource Development Minister Kapil ‘zero-loss’ Sibal is a disgrace. Here is a man who shameless defends corrupt people even as the organs of his government strive for their conviction in courts. He has ensured that no reforms take place in the education sector, the rot in the system does not stop, and the virulence of Mandal remains unchecked.