2010 – The Year of Corruption
The year 2010 has ended leaving the Congress led UPA II responsible for showcasing India as a poorly managed, carelessly governed, utterly corrupt nation among the comity of nations. 2010 saw the Congress betraying its arrogance in refusing to be accountable to the people of India for the rampant corruption – three of which have caused huge loss to the exchequer. In each of the three scandals – The Commonwealth Games, the 2G Spectrum and the Adarsh Society – the nexus between the powers that be and the private operators for personal gain is established. Existing checks and balances in the system have been methodically removed in a manner which facilitated the scale and magnitude of the corruption. All this has only stunned the nation.
Here in Guwahati, in January 2011, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s National Executive sees the political atmosphere prevailing now as comparable with that which prevailed during its Session at Ernakulam in January 1988 – a full 23 years ago.
We observed then, “… a series of stinking scandals surfaced and forced the country’s Prime Minister stand up in Parliament and declare neither he nor his family had received any graft money, and yet, the man in the street remained unconvinced by the declaration.”
We further observed that “the credibility of Government was zero” and that “the government was scuttling investigation by entrusting the task to a committee robbed off effective powers…” The BJP then recorded “a weakening of institutions” and stated that “the Government…aids and abets communalism and separatism to divert public attention from the issue of corruption in high places to that of communalism in low places”.
And significantly, it observed that “Mr Clean (Shri Rajiv Gandhi) has emerged as Mr Disaster, and is giving the country a scandal a day. The country is being ruled today by faceless men with multiple mysterious foreign links”.
In 2010, today’s Prime Minister gave us a scandal a day. The government is scuttling every call for a comprehensive enquiry into corruption by appointing toothless Commissions of enquiry (Shungloo and Justice Patil).The faceless men with multiple mysterious foreign links are emerging in the Radia tapes and in tax havens; and the CBI belatedly is searching for them.
Bofors Back Again
In comparison with 1987, the scale and magnitude of corruption the Congress has allowed now has escalated with time. Since the situation warrants it, it is important to recall the significance of Mr Quattrocchi in the Bofors affair. When Shri Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister, Mr Ottavio Quattrocchi had unrivalled access to the prime minister’s household. Simultaneously, his connections with the then powers that be, was well chronicled by the media. The Bofors scandal achieved its status in echelons of scandals primarily thanks to Mr Q and his association with the then PM’s household.
The Congress party went all out to protect him and subverted every attempt to have a fair investigation. Against all odds, they persisted with the cover up of the wrong doings. The cover up relied on just one proposition – no kickbacks were paid in the Bofors deal. Now the Bofors is back with a bang on the fallacy of that proposition. Kickbacks were indeed paid.
The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has established that it was indeed kickbacks that were received by Mr Quattarocchi and the others and that ill-gotten money moved from one territory to another evading tax payment. The Congress party had resolutely maintained that no kickbacks were paid and were closing the case against Mr Quattrocchi.
The Congress, particularly its first family is faced with the power of truth. Truth has the habit of coming up at inconvenient time. Misusing the CBI to undermine this case, each time and at every level, the party ensured that Quattrocchi was enabled to flee the country. He was protected from facing the laws of this country even in the courts abroad where our authorities posed a weak case or submitted delayed affidavits. The Congress was utterly shameless in the ways they adopted to save this offender against our national interest. Today, the CBI could declare, “we killed the case and therefore there is no case.”
2G Spectrum Scandal – The Largest Known and the National Loss
The 2G Spectrum Case is the largest this country has known. In its sheer size, scale and magnitude it is audacious and shall remain so for decades to come. Surprisingly, notwithstanding all the media and political parties’ call for action the matter continued to flourish for more than 2 full years. The prime minister had to keep the UPA II alliance intact and therefore, hell or high water, protection was offered for the Spectrum fraudsters.
The loss to the exchequer, at the lowest estimate is Rs 95000 crores and at the highest is Rs 1,76,000 crores. The formulae used for calculating the loss to the nation are well documented by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). To question these estimates or to describe them as presumptive loss is to make a mockery of the professionalism which the CAG has shown. The value of the kickbacks, the share each that the fraudsters have received, the places where these funds are parked are further to be investigated. Getting back this ill-gotten money will prove a herculean task.
The Prime Minister’s ‘do nothing’ approach has only helped the matter go out of control. By remaining a mute spectator, at a stroke, the PM has undermined the office of the PM in the eyes of the people of India, while simultaneously allowing the nation to be looted.
The Commonwealth Games Scandal
The opportunity to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games was completely utilized by the cronies of the Congress party to gratify their greed. The nation was put to shame for the corruption, the irregularities and the poor quality, delayed and incomplete work prior to the inaugural of the Games.
The PMO again has capitulated to unjustified cost escalations and coalesced in nepotism. Well connected but unqualified people were given contracts which demanded specialized skills. Needless to say the nation was put to ignominy. A powerless Committee (Shungloo Committee) is looking into the wrongdoings while the entire documentary evidence is now available in the public domain.
Kargil War Widows Deprived
The Adarsh Society scandal hit at the very heart and soul of this country. Land which was assigned for the Kargil war widows was usurped by a few high ranking defence officials conniving with powerful bureaucrats and their political bosses. The chief minister of Maharashtra had to resign as his mother-in-law and other near relatives benefitted in this allotment. To add insult to injury, there is a FIR registered in a police station complaining that a file on Adarsh Society bearing the CM’s signature has gone missing. First the land and then the evidence – both go out of the war widows’ hands. The Congress is again shameless about how the relevant file goes missing from the CM’s office when there is so much public glare.
Corruption in Congress-ruled Assam
Corruption prevails in Congress ruled states too. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s National Executive is meeting here in Pragjyothishpur and therefore we speak of the Congress government here. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), in its first case, has unearthed a scandal amounting to Rs 1000 crores in the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC). Although the NIA did not disclose it, The Week magazine found that 7 ministers of Assam, in addition to several bureaucrats, have been identified by NIA as the beneficiaries of the scam. In fact, a subsequent raid by CBI recovered a sum of Rs 13.45 crores from the house of one of the relative of a bureaucrat.
Similarly, it was found that from the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM) funds for Guwahati, a sum of Rs 200 crores has been siphoned away in projects such as Multi-Storied Parking, Drainage and Drinking Water.
Scandal in Arunachal too
In Arunachal Pradesh the Congress government is allegedly involved misusing a transport subsidy. The media has unearthed a Rs 686 crore transport subsidy scam involving just 2 items: cement and iron & steel.
These corruption scandals are worrying in themselves. But the role that was played by corporate lobbyists in what is otherwise the prerogative of the prime Minister is serious. The prime minister’s prerogative it is to form the cabinet and to allocate ministerial portfolios to members of the cabinet. In the case of the UPA II, that prerogative was taken away from him by lobbyists who were working for several corporate houses at a time. A few from the media also played in this game.
The appointment of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) was defiantly made overriding the written objection made by the Leader of the Opposition, Lok Sabha, Smt Sushma Swaraj. The CVC has a corruption case pending for nearly 10 years in Kerala. In Dec 2009, as telecom secretary, on a request letter from the CAG asking for the concerned files, he had chosen to reply that there were no files with him and suggested that CAG may ask the CBI. Even as recently as July 2010, the CVC allowed, with his initials on, letters questioning the authority of the CAG to know the facts. Notwithstanding the debates on the issue of propriety in his continuing in office, the CVC appointed the new CBI chief who shall be investigating into the 2G Scandal! A complete mockery of our institutions!
Urgent Need for JPC
Keeping in mind the nature and complexity of the three major corruption scandals facing the nation today, the BJP has been demanding an enquiry through a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a statutory body shall go into the details of the loss to the exchequer and the failures of the departmental decisions. No doubt! The telecom is one of the ministries the PAC studies, basing on the reports the CAG submits. So shall it study the other Ministries too. Surely, it is its job to identify every rupee of the public fund reading through the CAG reports and ensuring accountability.
But the 2G, CWG and Adarsh have involved many other aspects of the executive and legislature – corporate lobbying in policy and decision making, the careful removal of in-built checks and balances which prevail in the system (apparently even at the ministerial level) the regulatory authority being made irrelevant and so on. It is not feasible for the PAC to look into these complexities. Ministers cannot be summoned by the PAC. The PM may have valiantly offered to appear before the PAC, but subsequently the PAC is finding ways to make that possible!
A JPC shall be focussed and its terms of reference shall be wide. Corruption shall be its only subject and it shall exhaustively find the logical links, however deep, far or frightening. Towards this end, it shall call and question any, however mighty and powerful they be. And this is what makes the Congress fear the JPC! And this is why they do not want it! And they are obstinate!
There is so much distress and distrust in the country. The people have lost faith in the politicians and have no hope left for political parties. They wonder if fair judgements can be obtained at least through the Courts. Media has also been put to introspect. A silent Prime Minister has not helped the situation.
Clean India of Corruption
The Bharatiya Janata Party resolves, in this valiant land of Pragjyotishpur, that it shall fight corruption tooth and nail. To restore hope back to the people, the BJP shall rise to serve as the nucleus of this effort. We are a party born out of a struggle, not very long ago. People, groups, civil society organisations and parties wishing to energise this ‘clean India of corruption’ effort should come together. Together, we should extricate this glorious nation from the Congress culture of corruption, greed and loot. Ill- gotten wealth should be brought back from all tax havens wherever in the world. Political will and national interest is required for this unenviable task.
In this disconcerting political environment, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s National Executive Resolves:
• To hold rallies at various places across the length and breadth of this country in order to draw people’s attention to the rampant corruption of the Congress party.
• To help consolidate the vibrant internet community in order to build awareness on the corruption malice; and work as pressure groups in institutions around the world to contain the corruption menace.
• To highlight the failures of the government in addressing the issues facing the common man – primarily the failure to control food prices.
• To seek legal recourse to justice – for getting the nation looters punished and to get back the ill-gotten wealth from the various tax havens abroad.