I could not restrain from writing a commentary on this topic. The Congress has been hiding all the scams that it has been accused of behind the face of our Honorable Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, who as you would expect enjoys a clean image, as he is perceived to be. The UPA government has been very successful in doing so, the list of scams include but does not restrict to the Sashi tharoor and his IPL controversy, Common Wealth Games, Adarsh housing society, the much talked 2G and other issues of national interest like soaring Inflation, deregulation of oil price, Maoism, Chinese infiltration, Pakistani Terror Camps, so on and so forth.
All the scams and concerns were hidden behind a ceiling, which is nothing but our Prime Minister’s Mr. Clean, Mr. Honest image. But considering the recent developments, unfolding of 2G spectrum outrage and the prime minister’s reaction, response to the Supreme Court has provoked me to write on the topic, "Does Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deserve the tag Mr. Honest?" Read on..
Well, many of us feel that Manmohan Singh is a honest man, as long as he does not benefit personally, whether or not he allowed crooks like Raja to loot precious resources of the country like the 2G Spectrum. But permitting crooks to loot the nation’s resource is not the sign of any man who claims to be honest or clean and in my opinion he is culpable as well.
The Congress might put forth it’s defence that it has to stick on to it's Coalition Dharma to avoid elections mid way, but every right thinking man would adhere to the standpoint that no amount of coalition compulsion can justify permitting such a mammoth loot of nation’s resource.
It is not so that the entire misappropriation of the spectrum took place without the knowledge of the prime minister, time and again Raja has been claiming via the media that the PM is fully aware of whatever he has done. On November 1, 2007, the then Union law minister H R Bhardwaj replying to the Department of Telecommunications recommended an empowered group of ministers (eGoM) and getting legal opinion of the attorney general. The finance ministry had also recommended an eGoM. Raja wrote to the prime minister objecting to an eGoM stating it was not an inter-departmental issue. The PM kept quiet or rather batted for Raja ignoring Bhardwaj and the recommendations of the finance ministry.
On May 2010, when the PM made a rare public appearance while addressing a press conference marking the 1st anniversary of the UPA-II, Manmohan Singh gave a clean chit to Raja by stating that the minister had followed the procedures and everything was done in accordance with the rules. He said, “What the minister did was to implement a policy that was already in place. It would have been unfair to new entrants if a new yardstick is used. You have to look at it in proper perspective.” He said that the watchdogs — the TRAI and the telecom commission — had both approved the policy on the 2G auctions and since complaints were received, the CVC and the CBI were looking into it. He added, “If I come to know that there is any involvement at any level, we will take action.” When he said this, spectrum corruption was very much within his knowledge.
Now looking at the CAG, it has clearly indicted Raja on several grounds, ineligible applicants, not fixing 2008 prices and ignoring recommendation for an eGoM are some of them. Any individual with a rational, sound mind would know that several facts go against Manmohan Singh. The most important of it is the petition filed by Subramanian Swamy in Nov 2008 seeking sanction to prosecute Raja (Please note that it requires the PM’s sanction to prosecute a cabinet minister). The PM neither accept nor reject the petition filed by Swamy, he has been sitting on it all these days which is why the Supreme Court has questioned the PM for alleged inaction.
After all, what Manmohan Singh could do is to make the Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati represent him in the Supreme Court in place of Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium.
Secondly, the PM had the CAG interim report in his hand by April, 2010. The interim report, as Swamy says, is no different from the final report because CAG was not convinced with the answers given to their queries.
Thirdly the PM himself has been shielding Raja all these days. Raja has carefully built his defence. The PM has written to him in November 2007 suggesting that the entry fee be revised considering innumerable applications and auction be followed. Raja replied to him on the same day that it was capricious to follow the auction method and that he preferred the 2001 price. The prime minister has acknowledged the letter but did not write back opposing or supporting Raja’s views. That gave Raja a strong handle to go about saying that the prime minister knew everything and he had informed Manmohan Singh the procedures he followed. Why did the PM not stop the telecom minister? His own Ministry of Finance has objected to the price and the procedure. The high-powered telecom commission was not consulted at all. Now, evidence of several officers having protested may surface but they were all within the knowledge of the people involved, and certainly in the knowledge of the prime minster.
Above all came the master stroke, PJ Thomas who has been facing corruption charges was appointed as the chief of the Central Vigilance Commission (The CVC) which is a watchdog agency. This yet again has attracted severe criticism from the Supreme Court. The Apex court has asked the Government to explain the procedures followed for appointment of the CVC.
All the above cited reasons will make every right thinking citizen of this country to contemplate the question “Does Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deserve the tag Mr. Honest?”
The Author blogs @ www.hari-bala.blogspot.com
As always, your comments and thoughts are welcome.