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PRIME MINISTER’S POOR DEFENCE OF ‘COALGATE’

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The deadlock in Parliament on coal allocation has continued for over a week now.  The NDA has offered to resolve the deadlock if all the allotments made are cancelled and the process whereby the screening committee has decided these allocations is subjected to a judicial probe. The Government is not yet prepared for this.

 

manmohanLast week the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh came to the Lok Sabha and laid on the Table a lengthy statement on the scandal which today has come to be known as Coalgate (after Watergate). And I was intrigued to find that Federalism, rightly described by our Supreme Court as one of the basic features of the Indian Constitution and so one which cannot be amended by Parliament, was sought to be blamed by the Prime Minister in his totally unconvincing explanation. 

 

Repeated reference was also made to reservations supposed to have been voiced by some BJP Chief Ministers as if the decision to reject the Law Ministry’s recommendation that there should be competitive bidding for the coal blocks was taken because of BJP Chief Ministers – more prominently Dr. Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh.

 

It is these two references in the Prime Minister’s statement – to Federalism, and to Chief Ministers – that made me revert to the emergency period and scan for similarities.

 

A news report from Raipur quotes verbatim Dr. Raman Singh’s letter of May 2, 2005 addressed to then Minister of State for Coal, Dasari Narayan Rao in which Dr. Raman Singh says :

 

In case the Central Government finally decides in favour of adopting the bidding route for allocation of coal blocks for captive mining, a part of the coal produced from such blocks will flow to the government. States being the owner of minerals within their respective territories, it would be in the fitness of things that the coal offer by the successful bidders to the government is shared between the concerned State Government and Central Government. It may be mentioned that similar demands of State Governments for the sharing of “profit petroleum” in the oil sector with the state governments is already under consideration of the Central Government.”

 

Dr. Raman Singh is fully justified in demanding a share in the revenues earned by the State as a result of competitive bidding. How can this letter be cited as opposing auction?

 

It is now universally acknowledged that allowing discretionary allocation of precious resources like spectrum, oil, gas and minerals gives ample scope to people harbouring corrupt and collateral intentions.

 

The 2G spectrum scam has been a recent instance to prove this. The price of Rs.1658 crores fixed for an all-India license in 2008 was not the market value then. No wonder, under adverse market conditions, in 2012 the government itself has fixed the base price for 2G auction at Rs.14000 crores.

 

If NDA’s demand that the discretionary allotment of coal already made should be scrapped and the coal blocks be auctioned is accepted and implemented, the truth would surface as to what is really the fair price presently.

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When in June 1975, following the Allahabad High Court verdict on the election petition against Smt. Indira Gandhi, her election to the Lok Sabha was annulled and she was disqualified from being a Member of Parliament for a period of six years, the Congress Government imposed an Emergency on the country.

 

Vajpayeeji and I had gone to Bangalore that month to attend a meeting of a Parliamentary Committee considering legislation against defections.

 

The Emergency Proclamation was signed by Rashtrapati Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed late night on June 25, 1975. The Government machinery went into action. Loknayak Jaiprakash Narain, Shri Morarji Bhai Desai and many other senior leaders of the Opposition were arrested immediately thereafter. Early morning on June 26, 1975, the Union Cabinet was summoned and informed about all these developments and the Cabinet’s post-facto approval taken for the extraordinary operation. Also, on the morning of June 26, Vajpayeeji and I were arrested and taken to Bangalore Central Jail.

 

william-shirerWhile in detention at Bangalore I had occasion to write a series of pamphlets for party activists waging war against the Emergency while working underground. In two of these pamphlets titled A Tale of Two Emergencies and An Anatomy of Fascism, based very much on William Shirer’s famous book about Nazi Germany titled “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, I drew a striking comparison between Hitler’s Emergency of 1933 and Mrs. Gandhi’s Emergency of 1975. Interestingly, Mrs. Gandhi herself once spoke in the Lok Sabha during the Emergency period about Fascism.  She said on July 22, 1975 :

 

“Yesterday, another member of the opposition wanted to know what fascism was. Fascism does not mean merely repression. Over and above every thing, it is the propagation of the big lie. It is the use of whispering campaigns, the search for scapegoats.”

 

Under Nazi propaganda tactics, the theory of the Big Lie occupied a cardinal place.  Adolf Hitler has expounded this theory thus :

 

“The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed…The primitive simplicity of the peoples’ minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than the small one for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones.”

 

Curiously, Mrs. Gandhi accused western critics of India’s Emergency with indulging in this characteristic Nazi tactic of the ‘big lie’ when she had this exchange with Dr. Kronzucker and Dr. Scharlav of North German T.V. She spoke bitterly about writings in the German, British and American Press, and said: “What they write is absolutely a figment of somebody’s imagination. One cannot even say that things are exaggerated; many of them have no foundation whatsoever”.

 

Pressed by the interviewers to give some concrete instance of such baseless reporting, this is what the PM replied :

 

For instance, one very big lie that is propagated is that the whole Emergency and so on is run by a some small group including my son, which is absolutely false.

The decision was taken by the Chief Ministers of this country and they were the ones who have to manage the states.

You see this is more like a federal set-up…So the decision was taken by the Chief Ministers, with our senior colleagues, and so on.

(P. 166, ‘Democracy and Discipline, Speeches of Indira Gandhi’, GOI Publication.)

 

Is it not bizarre that Smt. Gandhi who did not consult even the Union Cabinet before making the President sign the atrocious Emergency Proclamation should have had no qualms attributing its authorship to Chief Ministers?

 

TAILPIECE

 

n-vittalShri N. Vittal, after retirement from the Indian Administrative Service in 1996 became Chief Vigilance Commissioner in 1998, and held that office until 2002.

 

Shri Vittal has been an official highly reputed for his ability as well as integrity. I have received from him a copy of his book just written with the title: “Ending Corruption? How to Clean Up India”.

 

In his introduction to the book Shri Vittal speaks about the “general perception, especially in the media that bodies like the CVC went only after the small fish – the big fish always escaped.”

 

He adds:

I coined a new version of an old shloka which says in Sanskrit that even God favours the stronger ones:

 

Ashwam naiva, gajam naiva,

Vyagram naiva cha naiva cha

Ajaputram balim dadyat

Devan durbala ghatakaha

 

In our pujas, we make offerings to gods.  In the case of vegetarian gods, there is no problem. But in the case of non-vegetarian gods, which animals can we sacrifice? We cannot offer a horse because only chakravartis (emperors) can perform the Ashwamedha Yagya, the horse sacrifice. Not an elephant. Nor a tiger. In fact, the tiger may make a sacrifice of us! Naturally all that is sacrificed is the weak goat. Even the English word ‘scapegoat’ refers to that animal. My parody was as follows:

 

Secretary naiva, chairman naiva

Minister naiva cha, naiva cha

LDC balim dadhatu

CVC durbala ghatakaha!

 

(It is not the Secretary to the Government or the chairman of an organization who is sacrificed. The minister is like the tiger; never is he punished. The CVC punishes only the poor lower division clerk (LDC)!’)

 

As already mentioned, the perception was that the CVC only acted against the lower rungs in the government. In fact, the CVC’s jurisdiction relates to senior levels, Group A or Class I officers, while public servants of Groups B, C and D are handled by the respective department themselves.

 

 

L.K. Advani

New Delhi

2 September, 2012

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2 Responses to “PRIME MINISTER’S POOR DEFENCE OF ‘COALGATE’”

  1. muslimbhagawat Says:

    Respected Advanijee,We are highly obliged to you for your sane advice to UPA govt on Coalgate scandal.It is a Scam cum Scandal as it proved that oath taken at the time of swearing in ceremony of the Cabint Including PM and all ministers swear in the name of our constitution or god not to suppress any facts nor work in favour of any body and nepotism.But in the case of Coal allocation oath sworn by Coal minister is broken by him as he had allowed claol blocks to his relatives brothers and nephews.But PM is silent and SG is blind.It is a criminla breach of trust by the said minister to PM.Now PM must order cancellation of all coal blocks and remove the minister concerned SKSAHAY and SHRIPRAKASH Jaiswal for breaking oath of Office.

  2. muslimbhagawat Says:

    BJP must not surrender before sonia

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