Criminals tell a lie in defence
So do our politicians
In ancient times our rulers/kings were worshipped as incarnation of the Divine, gods. Their words were sacrosanct and sacred directions to be followed obediently. Their actions were pious; nobody entertained any doubts. All the energies of our rulers were concentrated on promoting the welfare of their people and the nation.
But that is past history, a distant one. This is not true today and, to a great extent, contrary to that belief and concept although today's rulers are not hereditary born out of the wombs of the queens but democrats who ooze out of the ballot box.
The present Congress-led UPA government seems to represent the present generation of our rulers with a distinct dissect between their words and actions. They seem to be working on a well-defined course with a definite political design tinged with electoral overtones.
Take the case of the unprecedented scams that have surfaced during the present UPA-II tenure. It is a record of sorts. But the usual strategy is to initially deny altogether any wrongdoing when facts surface. When 2G spectrum scam was unfolding, our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi were giving certificates of innocence to the then telecom minister A. Raja. No wrong has been committed by him , they repeated in a parrot-like fashion, and he acted as per the policy of the government keeping the prime minister informed of it. But, on the eve of the presentation of the CAG report on the issue, it was the same PM and Congress president who made Raja to resign. If Raja was "innocent" why was he made to resign and if he was guilty, why was he allowed to continue in office that long?
Later, on the intervention of the Supreme Court, the investigation was entrusted to CBI. Raja was arrested and had to cool his heels in jail for a number of months. Some others too were arrested. But when the heat of the scam started tormenting both the PM and Congress, they staged an about turn. Now they have put the onus for all the wrongdoings entirely on Raja and declared that the PM did not know what wrong was going on in telecom ministry. On the political front they claimed credit that they did not compromise with corruption and made Raja to resign.
The same story repeated when CWG scam erupted. They defended Suresh Kalmadi initially. Later, he too had a stint in jail.
Latest is the case of the Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar. Bansal's nephew (sister's son) was arrested for allegedly receiving a bribe of `90 lakhs for helping a General Manager of the Railways for a plum posting of his choice and the total deal struck was `10 crores – perhaps the highest ever bribery scandal so far. It is a common cliché with our politicians to boldly declare their innocence and claim that they will come out clean ultimately. The same was Bansal's stand. He declared that he had nothing to do with his nephew's dealings. To presume that a deal of such a high amount could be struck without the implicit or explicit understanding with the railway minister was nothing short of shutting one's eyes to the hard realities.
The Law Minister Ashwani Kumar in his over-zeal to protect the Prime Minister went out of his way to pressurize the CBI into making it show the status report in the Coalgate which the Supreme Court (SC) had demanded from CBI and, at the same time, directed it not to share it with anybody else, including the government. Not only he, but two Joint Secretaries of the Prime Minister's office too tinkered with it. First, it was claimed that it had not been shared with government. When the news leaked out, the SC asked the CBI to file an affidavit in this behalf. CBI admitted that it had been shared. The SC then made scathing comments including that the very "heart" of the report was changed by Government. Although SC did not directly indict the Law Minister yet it did say that the Government had no right to interfere with the investigation of the case. And the Law Minister's action amounted to that.
When the Opposition demanded that both the ministers should be made to resign or dismissed, Manmohan government stoutly refused. The opposition, particularly the BJP, Congress leaders and ministers said, are in the habit of demanding resignations at the drop of a hat. They are suffering from a resignation disease, they touted.
As a result the post-recess budget session of Parliament was washed away with the opposition adamant on its stand and the government stoutly opposing it. Two days before the session was scheduled to end on May 10, the two houses of Parliament were adjourned sine die in view of this logjam.
But, on the evening of May 10 when the Congress thought the continuance of these two ministers was going to harm it politically, suddenly both the ministers were made to resign after Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi had a meeting with the Prime Minister.
One of the reasons circulating in the media and political circles was that Prime Minister was standing in the way of Ashwani Kumar's resignation because whatever the latter did or did not was not for himself but to prevent the heat from tormenting the Prime Minister in the Coalgate scam. There was a feeling that after Ashwani Kumar's resignation the direct target would be the Prime Minister himself. That has now proved to be true also.
Now the question arises: Is there any sanctity in the words coming out of the mouth of the Prime Minister, ministers and Congress President? Be it A. Raja, or Pawan Bansal or Ashwani Kumar, their first reaction is to deny that they have done anything wrong. But later, they have to go. If they are 'innocent', why have they been made to resign? If they were 'guilty', why did the Congress and UPA let them continue on their plum jobs for that longer leading to a historic disruption of Parliament? They should have been out the moment something appeared against them. Have the words of the Prime Minister and Congress President not lost their sanctity after these honourable ministers had to resign ultimately?
It is hypocritical that Congress first protects the guilty to the hilt and when under public pressure and court orders it is left with no alternative but to make them quit, it takes political courage saying that there is zero tolerance to corruption in Congress. Does it mean that to play politics, particularly the electoral variety of it, our politicians have the license to tell lies and befool the people?
In our criminal jurisprudence a person accused of a crime has the right to tell a lie in his defence. He is punished for the crime but not for telling a lie in the court. That seems to be true of our politicians today. But is telling a lie to the people not a crime in our kind of democracy? Our politicians have no answer. ***