Seeing the Congress’ reaction to the charges of corruption in 2G reminds one of the Bollywood film No one Killed Jessica. A murder took place but no one killed her. Everyone knows there was huge corruption but according to the Congress, no one stole money.
By the time the UPA government demits office in 2014 if not sooner, it would have caused not only tangible losses of crores of rupees to the exchequer but immense intangible, probably irreversible corrosion to the constitutional structure of India. Witness the way the UPA government under a nominated Prime Minister is attacking the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), making a mockery of parliamentary voting by agreeing to it only after it struck deals with allies for support and showing its thumb to the opposition in such matters as appointment of CBI chief.
The government has let loose its team-bark to launch a shrill, low-level disinformation campaign against the CAG, particularly its chief Vinod Rai over the 2G report and the estimated loss amount. The entire debate is now focussed on the amount of loss rather than the issue of corruption with all kinds of numbers being proposed. RP Singh, a former CAG official, who woke up two years after the CAG report on 2G was submitted to the Parliament has said the losses were in the range of Rs 2645 crore. The CBI in the meanwhile said it was around Rs 30,000 crore. Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and the Congress’ most vocal sound-bite man Manish Tiwari has said the loss to the exchequer was ONLY Rs 2645 crore. As though it was a small, dismissible amount.
The real point, whether it was the CAG report or the CBI inquiry, is that the UPA government has cost the nation losses because of its policy of favouritism. Now, courtesy R P Singh and the outgoing CBI Chief the government is bent on proving the CAG wrong. The game of the UPA is not difficult to guess. Once it establishes this, the other reports of the CAG on Coal blocs, Airports, Power and Commonwealth Games can be dumped as well, tagged as exaggerated and unfounded. R P Singh also accused the PAC Chairman and BJP leader M M Joshi of nudging the CAG into arriving at the loss figure and later retracted the charge since he could not explain or substantiate how Dr Joshi could have done that. The TRAI also admitted to huge losses in the allocation.
The Supreme Court of India has seen merit in the charges of corruption in the spectrum allocation and has cancelled all the licenses and ordered re-auctioning, which the government did rather shoddily recently. This establishes the crime well. Since the government has now chosen to go on a harangue against the CAG on the issue only gives credence to the argument that its purpose is to defile the image of the constitutional body. The UPA government, through the Minister in PMO Narayanasamy also sent test waves on converting the CAG into a multi-member body, along the lines of Election Commission. When the reaction against it was strong the minister wriggled out of it, claiming he was misquoted.
The government appointed the new CBI Chief as though in a hurry, because a report was being tabled in parliament this session suggesting the setting up of a collegium consisting of the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India and the Prime Minister to select the appointee, like in the case of CVC. The CBI, over the years under the UPA has earned several odium, including that of being the Congress Bureau of Investigation. It has flip-flopped in its stand on the cases against regional political parties’ leaders depending on which way they lean, closer to or away from the Congress. It is high time the prestige of the premier investigation agency was restored with a little transparency in its top-level appointments.
The UPA government stalled the parliament at least three days, refusing to concede the opposition demand for a discussion on FDI under rule 184 that entails voting. It was engaged in hectic negotiations with allies, most of whom are opposing the proposal. While both SP and BSP have already opposed FDI and at the same time pledged support to the government in any voting, the DMK apparently for a pound of flesh held out. After managing to win the party over, the government agreed to the opposition demand, rendering the whole exercise a mockery of parliamentary debate, reducing it to a show of numbers, like in a political rally.
The UPA led by the Congress party has been committing one sin after another in the eight years it has been in power. Over the period it has grown brazen, with a mute Prime Minster, a non-accounting puppeteer, a flexing group of allies and an ineffective, non-governing group of ministers. The word democracy for the current Indian political scenario seems a misnomer, except that we vote every five years. Incidentally, this week sixty-three years ago (26 November 1949), the constitution of India was adopted with much hope and promise.