About two decades back the Telegraph of Calcutta had published a longish interview with me. I was B.J.P. President at the time. The interviewer was its Special Correspondent, Manini Chatterji. Today, she is Editor, Current Affairs, in the same paper.
An unusual question Manini had posed to me in that interview was “What is the one word that appeals to you most in your life?” My reply was: “Credibility”. Whatever I am, and whatever I have been able to do for my country and for my party is because of the credibility I have earned in my life. Then, it is not only my personal credibility, but also my party’s.
In an article for the Indian Express published in two parts on December 27 and 28, 1992 I had described the genesis and evolution of the Ayodhya movement, and had gone on to describe in that article that Dec. 6, 1992, the day the disputed structure at Ayodhya had been pulled down was “the saddest day in my life”.
Some colleagues had criticized me for the above statement saying: “Why are you being apologetic about the development?.” My reaction was: “I am not at all apologetic. Indeed, I am proud of my association with the Ayodhya movement. But I am extremely sad that our party’s credibility has been badly dented by the happenings of December 6.
I wrote in my article: “I felt sad that a meticulously drawn up plan of action, whereunder the U.P. Government was steadily marching forward towards discharging its mandate regarding temple construction without violating any law or disregarding any court order has gone awry (because of the demolition). If the exercise contemplated had now been short-circuited in a totally unforeseen manner the organizations involved in the movement can be faulted for not being able to judge the impatience of the people participating in the movement, but they were certainly not responsible for what happened that day.”
Last Thursday, Rashtrapati Pratibha Patil officially cancelled the order appointing P.J. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner. The President had perhaps to go through this motion because even after the Supreme Court quashed the CVC’s appointment and in its order declared Thomas’ appointment as ‘non-est’ in law, the officer had not relinquished charge.
Having identified ‘credibility’ as the most important attribute of an individual or an organization. I would like to affirm that today, the Manmohan Singh Government’s credibility is in a shambles.
In the latest issue of India Today there is a piece written by Bhavna Vij Aurora under caption “Credibility Crash”. In her article, Bhavna writes :
The Supreme Court order on March 3, striking down the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) P.J. Thomas as “official arbitrariness”, was more an indictment of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram than the man himself. The order is the biggest setback for the Government, which continued defending Thomas despite repeated censures and probing questions from the Supreme Court during the course of the hearing. Appearing completely helpless in getting rid of the tainted CVC, the corridors of power were abuzz that Thomas drew his strength from 10, Janpath, and nobody could touch him. Finally, the Supreme Court had to do what the Government should have done.
The Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, put the onus directly at the door of the prime minister, who chaired the three member High Powered Committee, which included Chidambaram and leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj. Chidambaram kept defending Thomas on flimsy grounds, even taking swipes at Swaraj, who opposed the appointment. She had repeatedly pointed to the incongruity of appointment of a man who was an accused in a corruption case being made the head of the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, which oversees the work of investigation agencies including the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.
India Today is very correct when it says that in respect of the C.V.C. the Supreme Court had to do what Government should have done. The bigger tragedy however is that in the matter of pre-empting wrongdoing by scamsters Government has totally abdicated its responsibility.
So, whether it is the case of Thomas or Raja, or Hasan Ali, or Commonwealth Games officials, it is repeatedly the Supreme Court that has had to take action, rather than Government. It is this that highlights the fact that with the U.P.A. Government far more serious than its governance deficit is its ethical deficit.
On Saturday last week (March 12) I was invited to a Conclave organised by IIT Delhi Alumni Association. The Theme chosen for the Conclave was “Governing India –the Right Way”.
The invitation sent to me by Shri Shashi Munjal, President of the Association read :
“The year 2010 has been crowned with the dubious distinction as being the ‘Year of the Scam’. From Commonwealth Games, to 2G licensing, to the revelation of money belonging to Indians in Swiss accounts equivalent to the GNP of the country, the enormity of the anomalies has fazed one and all. The one line answer to all the above is improved Government.”
I complimented the Association for its initiative and told them: “All of you are well settled in successful businesses and professions. In ordinary circumstances people like you are not known to be too much interested in matters of politics and Governance. But this conclave demonstrates that you are. I see this as an indication of a larger phenomenon of educated Indians getting concerned about the direction in which the country is going and wanting to do something to correct its course.” Referring to the reference the invitation had made to corruption, I urged them : “If the year 2010 was the Year of Scams, let us all exert to make 2011 as the Year of Accountability.”
13 March, 2011