Defenders of the faith,
refresh your memory
The Times of
India, August 29, 2012
This article is
addressed to all defenders of the faith who are constantly
haranguing BJP to stop disrupting Parliament and save Indian
democracy. Public memory is short, media's shorter. A section of
the media also suffers from selective amnesia.The Vajpayee-Ied
government was the first non-Congress government which governed
India for over six years. It won an election in 1999, to return
to power. It did suffer the fate of all earlier non-Congress
governments in 1998, but acquired stability in its next term.
Its success led many
to believe that Congress was not going to return to power any
time soon. The resulting frustration in the Congress led to a
complete change in its parliamentary behaviour. One has merely
to look at the record of the thirteenth Lok Sabha to realise how
often the Congress resorted to disruption and how flimsy were
the grounds of those disruptions. Let me chronicle a few just to
set the record straight and refresh the memory of the defenders
of the faith.
adjournment of the Lok Sabha due to interruptions and disorderly
scenes resulted in the loss of time of 10.66% during the Twelfth
Lok Sabha, it increased to 19% during the Thirteenth Lok Sabha.
In February 2000, a
circular issued by the Gujarat government, allowing its
employees to take part in the activities of the RSS paralysed
the business of Lok Sabha for at least 10 days. In December
2000, the House was paralysed once again for eight days when CBI
filed a chargesheet against three Union ministers in the Babri
A major part of the
budget session of 2001 was lost because of the Tehelka sting
operation. The same thing happened when the Comptroller and
Auditor-General report on the purchase of coffins for the armed
forces was presented to Parliament. Parliament was disrupted and
George Fernandes was boycotted by the Congress in Parliament. He
was described as a Kafan Chor.
When the US forces
invaded Iraq in early 2003, despite the fact that the prime
minister himself made a statement expressing strong opposition
to any military action in Iraq, the Congress insisted on
Parliament passing a resolution condemning the US action. They
disrupted the proceedings of Parliament again for many days
until finally the great democrat Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee
instructed us to work out a compromise which we did.
Only then was
Parliament allowed to function. Compare Sonia Gandhi's
belligerence today to the statesmanship of Vajpayee then. The
examples of unprecedented corruption in recent years have been
brought in the public domain by none other than a constitutional
body like CAG. This has made the prime minister depart from
established practice and make a statement in Parliament on
August 27, 2012, criticising CAG. An extraordinary statement
indeed by a person who has spent all his life as an economic
administrator and should know more than anyone else about the
role and responsibility of CAG.
The defenders of the
faith are quiet on this point. They never tire of reminding us
that according to our parliamentary procedure reports of CAG are
automatically referred to the PAC and are examined by the PAC.
This is absolutely correct. So, the report of the CAG on the 2G
scam came to the PAC. Indeed, this was exactly the argument
given by the government to reject our demand for a JPC.
The prime minister
repeatedly expressed his faith in the PAC and its chairman. He
even offered to appear before the PAC personally, knowing fully
well that the PAC cannot call ministers; an offer which he has
not found fit to repeat for JPC.
In fact, JPC is
stalemated on the issue of summoning the prime minister and the
finance minister as witnesses which BJP members are demanding
and the ruling party members are opposing stoutly. But let us
return to the theme of the PAC. PAC spent eight months
deliberating on the 2G scam.
It examined 22
witnesses during this period but when the time came to examine
the Cabinet Secretary, the Principal Secretary to the PM and the
then Solicitor-General, Attorney General Vahanvati, the ruling
party members disrupted the proceedings and did not allow the
examination of these witnesses. The defenders of the faith kept
quiet. Subsequently, the secretariat of the PAC prepared the
report as is the practice in all Parliamentary Committees.
When the report was
presented to the committee, the ruling party members indulged in
rowdy behaviour to disrupt the meeting of the PAC. In my long
parliamentary career, I have never seen such behaviour in any
committee. When the chairman of the PAC adjourned the meeting
because of this disruption, a ruling party member even occupied
his chair and conducted mock proceedings to reject the report.
They even conducted a press conference and abused the chairman.
All this was done
under the direction of the senior-most ministers of the
government. The defenders of the faith kept quiet. Parliament of
India let it pass. The draft report of the JPC was effectively
buried. An attempt is being made to repeat the same thing even
in the JPC. The message is loud and clear, "we shall indulge in
corruption with impunity".
The fact of the
matter is that anyone who dares to enquire into the misdeeds of
this government, whether it be CAG, PAC, JPC, or any other
constitutional body, will be rubbished by the UPA government on
the strength of its numbers. Truth will be suppressed, their
sins will be swept under the carpet and the stale excuse on
every occasion will be that they were only following NDA
policies or that BJP is also equally guilty.
The tragedy is that
with the help of a section of the media, they sometimes succeed
in their propaganda. When Congress disrupts Parliament, it is
performing a sacred national duty. When we do so, we are
committing a grave crime. When Sonia Gandhi beckons her members
to attack LK Advani, it is an act of courage and leadership.
When the prime minister criticises CAG, he is being bold. My
appeal to the defenders of the faith is to refresh your memory,
go back a little into the past, do a little research and then
defend the faith.
This news can also be viewed at: