Tuesday, August 28, 2012
A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The 2 G Spectrum scan is still hanging like a cloud around the Congress led UPA Government and it has already claimed the heads of 2 central minister--Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja--both of whom belonged to a regional political party, the DMK. In Indian politics there is no such thing as a single author scam. It is very obvious that the highest summits of the political system which includes Sonia Gandhi and Man Mohan Singh had a hand in the scam but were clever enough to ensure that lesser mortal took the rap for it. Th coal scam is almost identical in its modus operandi, and the Congress Government is trying its best to wriggles out of the ever tightening noose around its neck. With 2 scandals with a net loss of nearly 20% of the GDP of the country, there will be a lot of froth flying thick everywhere. The problem with the UPA Government like the Bourbons of France is that they forget nothing and they learn nothing. From the 2 G Spectrum Scandal they must have learn that the auction route is the best way of allocating scare resources and ensure a hefty return to the state exchequer. However since political gratification is the objective, the UPA allocated 57 coal blocks in an arbitrary and non transparent. In the 2G Specrum Scam, A Raja could be sent to jail as he was a minister from a regional party and a dalit to boot. In the case of the Coal Scam the ministry was headed by the Prime Minister himself who retained the ministry under his direct charge. Now that the scandal has surfaced the Congress Party is trying its best to protect the Prime Minister and others who were involved in the decision making process. India has large reserves of coal and the state exchequer would have got nearly 15 billion US dollars had the auction route been taken. Instead prime coal mines were allocated to private parties which included Tata Power, Tata Steel,Essar Power Generation,Jindal Steel and many other power generating companies or steel plants. The criteria on which this allocation was made has not been spelled out. In the case of the 2 G Spectrum at least there was a fig leaf of objectivity in that the allocation was done on the basis of the first come first served basis. Even this lame defence is not available for the coal scam. As per the norms and procedure of the Government of India, the file for such major decisions has to be signed by the cabinet minister and only then it becomes operational. In the case of the Coal Scam the files were all signed by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Coal Minister and hence he cannot now evade responsibility or accountability. The mines which were allotted to private parties are the most lucrative ones since they are all open mines and do not require too heavy an investment in infrastructure. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in his Report submitted to Parliament has clearly stated that gross irregularities in procedure had taken plce causing a net loss of 1.86 lakh crores ruppees to the treasury of the people of INdia. The kind of Governance we have in India under the uPA aims at enriching the private players at the cost of the Government and obviously huge kick backs play a role in the formulation of such skewered policies. The principle opposition party the BJP has raised the issue in the highest democratic forum of the country, the LOK SABHA. Instead of answering the questions raised, the Prime Minster is indulg ing in cheap gimmicks when he stated in his defence that this was done to favor the opposition ruled states. It is only an accident that the coal rich states are presently under the BJP and the Congress is not known to have concern for anyone or institution except its "royal" dynasty. The coal ministry bureaucrats suggested public auction as the best method for pricing the coal blocks but it was blocked by the Prime Minster, just as was done in the case of the 2G Spectrum pricing. The effort now currently underway to amde the NDA responsible for the policy is untenable because the policy change was initiated only after the UPA GOvernment was formed in 2004. The Scandals which have undermined the present government will have their impact in the next election. The anti corruption movement led by Baba Ramdev is likely to create enough impact to tilt the balance in favor of the bJP in the next election. The 2014 elections can only be lost by the BJP due to political mismanagement and factionalism.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Parliamentary Democracy is predicated upon a very delicate balance between public perception and the illusion of permanent power. Since the tenure of a President is fixed for a certain period of time by the Constitution, there cannot be too many question marks over the legitimacy of a President. This is not the case in a Parliamentary form of Government and more so in the case of India where the fist past the winning post system is in place. In the electoral battlefield, candidate resort to violence, intimidation,bribery, impersonation and other mal practices are employed in spite of the best efforts of the Election Commission. Ultimately candidates sit in the LOK SABHA with less than 15% of the valid votes polled. In the case of Mr P Chidambaram, the present Finance Minister of the Government of India, he was actually defeated and got the certificate of election by fraud and in all probability his election will be struck down. The legitimacy of the parliamentary process is already in doubt and so there is no harm in speaking of "illegitimacy" of the Government. In the Lok Sabha debate on the violence in Assam, Shri L K Advani a stems frosenior leader of the Opposition referred to the UPA-II as an "illegitimate government" and the sustained outrage of the Congress benches aided and instigated by Sonia Gandhi led to Advani withdrawing the remarks. While it was gracious of Shri L K Advani to withdraw the remarks, I would like to ask if his remarks were actually true and if there is truth in his remark why did he withdraw the remark. I think Shri L K Advani is making noises which may get his headlines but he is not helping in the gigantic task of getting rid of the two headed hydra--Sonia and Singh--who are ruling the country. The increase in the level of terrorism in India itself raises doubts the ability of the two headed hydra to govern. The ruthless Mumbai Attack of 26th November 2009 took place during the watch of the present government and India has made no progress in getting cooperation from Pakistan. Though Kasaab has been sentenced to death, a soft state like India is unlikely to have the political will to carry out the sentence. The Government has had no success in controlling domestic terrorism. Naxalite violence has only increased and CRPF soldiers are being killed by the dozens. In Dantewada incident alone 80 soldiers were killed. The main reason for the doubts on the legitimcy of the Government stems from the large scale corruption indulged in by the present regime. In the allocation of spectrun scandal, popularly known as the 2G scandal more than 8 to 10 billion US dollars were lost to the country and to make matters worse a senior minister Kapil Sibal even justified the loss saying that it was a zero loss to government.THis matter is pending before the Supreme Court of INdia. In the allocation of coal blocks for mining huge bribe were paid and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has documented the loss to the exchequer. Then there are a host of smaller scams like the Adrash Scandal. The involvement of Congress politicians in serious crimes is another cause for concern. And the dynstic obsession of the Congress party which projects the higly inexperience and volatile Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Minister of India raise question about the legitimacy of the regime in power. L K Advani was certainly right in condemning the regime as illegitimate.