Team Anna goes for PM's jugular
When Team Anna released dockets for 14 Union Cabinet ministers against whom they have made serious corruption charges, the game-plan was clear. Without mincing words, Team Anna explained that there is enough evidence against those cabinet ministers to start prosecution. The list contains almost all the important cabinet posts including the Prime Minister.
Before we get into the points raised by Team Anna and the counter-arguments by the Congress party, let’s have a look at the list of probable accused in the Union cabinet – Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, other Union ministers like P Chidambaram, Sharad Pawar, S M Krishna, Kamal Nath, Praful Patel, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Virbhadra Singh, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, G K Vasan, Farooq Abdullah, M K Alagiri and Sushil Kumar Shinde.
Congressmen’s penchant for deflecting criticism against the party by saying that the Prime Minister is clean does not seem to convince anyone any more. It is becoming increasingly clear to people that the Prime Minister’s silence and alleged acquiescence in many cases of large-scale corruption taking place at the highest levels of governance is just a quid-pro-quo. As long as Dr Manmohan Singh is allowed to keep his job he maintains a deafening silence on the corrupt goings-on in his government.
Now it is also becoming clear why Sonia Gandhi chose Dr Manmohan Singh over Pranab Mukherjee when she wanted to pick someone for the Prime Minister’s post in 2004. Dr Singh has risen to the occasion and Sonia Gandhi should be exceedingly happy about his performance. The CAG as well as the Supreme Court have pointed out the lapses in Prime Minister’s working when it comes to large scale corruption happening right under his nose.
On many occasions in the last few days top Congress leaders have tried to project the clean image of Dr Manmohan Singh as a fig leaf to cover the massive loot of the exchequer. Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, during the BJP executive council meet in Mumbai even mentioned that the falling rupee against the dollar is not all about the Euro crisis. “Why is that only the Indian currency is falling inexorably? The currencies of our neighbouring countries have not been as badly affected by the crisis as the rupee”, he averred.
Team Anna has been at pains to explain that they are not making allegations against Dr Manmohan Singh for taking bribes himself. But his proclivity to turn a nelson’s eye at corruption amounting to lakhs of crores leaves no one in doubt that he is only playing to his master’s voice.
Team Anna has also learnt a lesson in management of agitation. After the fiasco in Mumbai early this year when the turnout of people at the dharna at MMRDA Ground was abysmal, they have learnt that people don’t like pussy-footing on the issue of corruption. People of India would only support an agitation which calls a spade a spade. That could be the reason for ratcheting up the bar with allegations being made directly on the Prime Minister. After all, government officials holding such high positions can be held for criminal misconduct if they are accessories in corrupt practices in their office.
Team Anna has also demanded that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) should go into charges made against Team Anna members. It even suggested a list of six former Supreme Court judges from whom the SIT could be formed. This is to make it clear that CBI should not be at the helm of investigations against the Prime Minister or the Union cabinet ministers as CBI has always proved to be partisan to the government.
Even when many of the government supporters in the news media have galvanized themselves to saving Dr Manmohan Singh’s image, a prime minister who is seen to support large-scale corruption in his cabinet in return for keeping his job only means that the worm has turned. The complete shutdown of the country on May 31 after the Opposition parties called for a nation-wide bandh to protest the petrol price hike and the spiraling inflation showed the people’s anger. As a Team Anna member Manish Sisodia put it succinctly, “if all the lakhs of crores lost in corruption is brought back and ploughed into the economy, there will be no need for any petrol price hike”.