Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A government that disowns constitutional and moral responsibility

A government that disowns constitutional and moral responsibility
In UPA government is more a coalition between Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh than between other alliance partners. Its driving force is Mrs. Gandhi’s inspiration and dynamism coupled with Dr. Singh’s silence. The history of this government will be written not in words of gold but of coal. The mole of the good this government has done is getting buried under the mountain of innumerable scams and mud of corruption.  The ‘weak’ Prime Minister is proving to be strong enough to give the country an unending chain of scams, the highest being his own Department of Coal and Mines of `1.86 lakhs crores surpassing  the 2G spectrum score of ` 1.76 lakh crores.
The bold declarations of both Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to take corruption “head-on” seem to be serving as a tonic to the demon of corruption that it is getting stronger and stronger every day.
The UPA-II  seems to have grown immune to the charges of corruption. That is why it always presents a bold face giving people the impression as if this too forms part of its great ‘achievements’. This seems to be in keeping with the latest fashionable fad that has caught up with the imagination of our political elite which when caught in heinous crimes like murder, rape, corruption and the like flash a broad smile with two fingers as if indicating victory over law of the land. The supporters, mostly paid goons, are made to organize noisy demonstrations proclaiming their leader’s ‘innocence’ and shouting that he/she will come out clean. It is a ‘politically motivated conspiracy’ to tarnish the image of their ‘ great, popular’ leader by opponents jealous of his popularity, they declare vociferously. After rubbing heels in jail with diehard criminals for months together, if the leader gets a bail pending trial in court, he is given a rousing reception as if he has returned home after scoring a decisive victory in a war against the nation’s enemies (in this case, law?).
The first reaction of Prime Minister and his colleagues is to deny any wrongdoing. Till the presentation of the CAG report on 2G scam, both the Prime Minister and Congress President were issuing certificates of innocence and honesty to the then Telecom Minister A. Raja. He has not done anything wrong, Dr. Manmohan Singh declared repeatedly, and whatever Raja has done is as per the government policy. On the eve of CAG report being presented Parliament PM was left with no alternative but to seek Raja’s resignation. A few days after his resignation when A. Raja greeted the PM in the Central Hall of Parliament in a function, Dr. Singh patted his back, for what PM knows the best.
Within about a month of Raja’s resignation, speaking at a function to celebrate 150 years of the institution of CAG on November 17, 2010 Dr. Manmohan Singh advised the audit watchdog to distinguish between “wrongdoing” and “genuine errors.” The government auditor should appreciate the context and circumstances of official decisions and it had a heavy responsibility to ensure that its reports were accurate, balanced and fair. (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article890487.ece). But so far the PM has not clarified in which category – "wrongdoing" or "genuine errors" – does fall the coal scam in his ministry
A drowning man catches whatever straw he can land his hands on to save his life. And that is exactly what the Congress is doing at the moment. It is inventing alibis, no holds barred, to save its own skin and that of the prime minister.
Congress is today targeting the CAG, an institution of the Constitution continuing since the British days It is an institution the Congress had jumped to respect and protect. Whenever opposition parties had raised a finger, the Congress pontificated others not to target an institution of the Constitution. But today its report has, in the words of Congress, become a “bizarre accounting exercise”. But whenever CAG has presented similar reports relating to non-Congress State governments, Congress takes it as a word of god and wants the state cabinets to resign or dismissed.
Congress has also come out with the alibi that many BJP and CPM chief ministers had opposed the auction of the coal blocks. A strange argument! Since when has the Congress started fulfilling the wishes of the BJP and other opposition parties? It is a ‘breaking news’ that UPA gives utmost importance and respect to the views of opposition parties and governments.  Otherwise there are numerous recommendations made by BJP and other opposition party state governments which are gathering dust in various ministries.  UPA government has so far found no time, for the last so many years, to consider  numerous enactments, some of which pertain to dealing with terror crimes, passed by various State assemblies. The Union government, the President and governors are sitting over granting their consent.
This is a repeat of the stand took government took when 2G spectrum scam burst out. UPA then claimed that it was following in 2007 the policy the BJP-led NDA government had laid down in 2001. Does it meant that UPA was blindly following NDA and implementing its agenda? 
Congress has become very generous to offer to discuss the report in Parliament “threadbare” and if need be, the “PM will clarify”. It has challenged the Opposition to move a vote of no-confidence against the government. It is true that Parliament is the institution for debate leading to finding solutions to the problems facing the country. But unfortunately, debates in Parliament have lost faith, credibility and even sanctity. The standard of debates has greatly gone down and to an extent speeches in parliament have become a replica of what our leaders aver in public meetings.  
The UPA is guilty of undermining the sanctity of the debates and resolutions passed in Parliament. Take just one instance. Last year on August 27, both houses of parliament exhibited the “sense of the house” by unanimously passing a resolution moved by the then Leader of the House Mr. Pranab Mukherjee on Lokpal Bill. Has UPA respected that ‘sense of the House’? So what will a debate on the Coal scam or discussion on a vote of no-confidence lead to? It will just be another futile coughing up of throats and raising of tempers in the house without any tangible result.
It also needs to be kept in mind that issues of corruption can be finally settled through impartial inquiries and by courts of law and not by a vote in parliament through debates. A majority in house is no verdict of “not guilty” and “honesty and innocence”.
While dealing with allegations against Mr. B. S. Yediyurappa in Karnataka the Congress did not adopt the same stand. He too enjoyed complete confidence of the house and Congress also did not move a vote of no-confidence? Why these double standards>
And can a debate in Parliament be of any use when the UPA sticks to the medieval mentality that “Kings commit no wrong”?Propounding the same principle and echoing the same sentiment Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has declared: “Our PM can never do anything wrong. And if anybody levels any such allegations against the PM, there is no correctness (or) facts in this”. (Mail Today)
And remember he is the same telecom minister who had repudiated the CAG report on 2G spectrum and claimed “zero loss” to the government. He also received an indirect rap when the Supreme Court did not question the 1.76 lakh crore loss figure.
Latest to join the galaxy of ministers making some funny claims is Mr. P. Chidamabaram, Finance Minister, who claimed no loss as most of the mines had not commenced mining. (Though on August 27 he has denied having said so, usual niche with politicians.) This again is a strange argument. If mining has not commenced, it does not absolve the Prime Minister of the charge of having made wrong allotments of coal blocks. Moreover, if mining did not take place, it again was a loss to the nation firstly because it perpetuated the shortage of coal in the country and, secondly, it resulted in a loss of revenue to the government because of non-mining. Further, it contributed to worsening the shortage of power in the country.
On the one hand, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal is generous to have a discussion in Parliament and on the other, he has termed the opposition demand for PM’s resignation as “baseless and preposterous” and BJP was “trying to make an issue out of nothing”, ()  In these circumstances, one wonders why should Congress be generous to waste the precious time and money on a debate on “an issue out of nothing”? 
Numerous scams costing the nation lakhs of crores of rupees have taken place. But here is a government that is not willing to own responsibility. If the council of ministers is not responsible, then who else can be? Article 75(3) of the Constitution provides: “The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People”. That rightly means that the government is responsible (for all its acts of omission and commission) to the people through the House of the People (Lok Sabha) elected by them. The Prime Minister and his ministers take the oath to uphold the Constitution.In his clarification (which has raised more questions) issued on August 27 Prime Minister has surprisingly taken “full responsibility” for the decisions but not for the consequential wrongdoing.  The way this government is behaving it looks as if  indulging in scams and corruption is this government’s right and to put up with all their misconduct is the duty of the opposition and the people.
The then Railway Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned owning moral responsibility for a railway accident that cost about 150 lives. Mr. Shastri certainly was not himself driving that train but as minister it was his responsibility. Mr. T. T. Krishnamachari, the then Finance Minister resigned following eruption of Mundra scandal. He had not accepted any bribe. But in today’s Congress whatever may happen nobody owns responsibility or is held responsible for it. It was during Congress government at the Centre that the Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi was assassinated. But nobody was made accountable for the lapse. Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a suicide bomb blast in Tamilnadu when DMK was in power in the State, the same DMK with which Congress has an alliance both in the State and at the Centre.  

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