Manmohan and Sonia long on rhetoric, short on delivery

Their assurances on good governance and fighting corruption doesn’t match by facts on ground

prasanna

Prasanna Mohanty | May 23, 2011



Presenting his government’s report card on completion of two years of its second term on Sunday the prime minister said, referring to the spate of scams, that his government was “determined to take corrective action”.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to echoed the sentiment by adding that “transparency, accountability and probity are at the very heart of our governance, our actions and we demonstrate this”.

These are reassuring words, except that there is little substance in what is being said.
If both the prime minister and the UPA chairperson were referring to actions against A Raja, Suresh Kalmadi, Hassan Ali, Kanimozhi and others, it may be pointed out that in each of these cases it was the supreme court which pressed for action, not the government.

For example, Raja was removed from office only after the supreme court demanded to know why he was continuing in office long after the 2G spectrum scam had blown in the face of the government. Similarly, in the case of the Hassan Ali, accused of stashing money in tax havens abroad and a tax defaulter, the government acted after the apex court asked “what the hell is going on in this country”.

Had the government been sincere, it would have acted much earlier when the scams came to notice. Raja was reappointed telecom minister in 2009 and Kalmadi continued to be CWG organising committee chairman long after their wrongdoings had come to light.
Investigations into the 2G spectrum scam have also thrown up names of some top corporate honchos and other personalities, who are yet to be proceeded against.

Even on the Lokpal bill, which envisages setting up an anti-corruption watchdog, the government showed little interest until Anna Hazare forced its hand by sitting on a fast unto death. The government’s lack of sincerity in battling corruption was exposed in the way P J Thomas, a bureaucrat against whom a criminal charge sheet was pending for 20 years, was appointed the central vigilance commissioner in spite of the protest from the leader of opposition, Sushma Swaraj, who was a member of the selection panel. The government continued to defend Thomas’ appointment even in the supreme court when a PIL was filed. It was the court which sent Thomas packing.

There is little on the ground to suggest that the government has done anything to improve governance or check corruption. Or bring back the black money stashed abroad.
 

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