Elections are round the corner. This is the first government that after four years in power has pushed transparency into limbo. Earlier it was customary for a prime minister to take press with his delegation to foreign trips, but Modi has put an end to that long-established tradition. Well and good! It’s his prerogative. But he is unwilling to tell whether any industrialist was part of his delegation or not. It means transparency can take a back seat. Yet, a work that does not warrant secrecy in itself is a crime. Take for example the Rafale deal.
Let's assume that the French government had asked the Indian government to name an Indian industrialist with whom they could finalize the deal. The Indian government pushed ahead Anil Ambani’s name. Now one may ask what's wrong in it. The answer is unscrupulousness which allowed the government to issue licenses to six private players, ignoring the fact that defence sector comes under public sector. When France asked Indian government to choose anyone of the six the choice was obvious. Anyway, if the government were insistent upon choosing an industrialist, it should have chosen the one who has resources, expertise and capabilities. Now it is being said that Ambani’s name was proposed by France, which according to the news is untrue. On this, the Government of India started telling a tale. Why? Because the shadiness in the deal and lack of confidence in government is quiet evident. They think that they can spin things and come back to power again, but people silently watch everything.
As of now, there is no direct evidence of kickbacks in the deal. But their behavior suggests something fishy about it. Modi and Amit Shah are unable to comprehend that if a cat closes its eyes, it does not mean the world is dark. The bubble has been burst. The money spend by the BJP is visible everywhere. BJP spent unprecedented amount of money after the 2014 elections. The party could not have spent such a sumptuous amount of money in last four years without adopting “unfair means”.
If you are saying that the Rafale deal is fair, then tell us where the money came from. I am against the personal allegations and counter-allegations. At the time of Bofors expose, I was in the opposition. I never said that Rajiv Gandhi took the money. Interestingly, at that time opposition was shouting of scam in Bofors deal and the Congress called it a conspiracy to weaken the country, because for them “Bofors was the best gun in the world”. Today, the BJP blames the opposition of helping Pakistan. I am not of the view that fighter jets should not be bought. The question is not of procurement, the question is of bribery. The BJP now diverts attention as the Congress used to do in the past. The process of purchasing Rafale was started in the UPA government, which continued until the BJP rule. Then where is the problem? The problem lies in the money. The Congress says that the UPA government had finalized the deal on much lesser price than what the BJP is paying now. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says that it is a matter of National Security.
The BJP has gone awry. Its ministers say that Rahul Gandhi is helping Pakistan. What on earth are they talking about? There should be a limit to everything. Who will help Pakistan in India? Nirmala Sitharaman says that there are some forces in JNU who want to break the country. If you are so weak, then resign and let somebody else replace you. You are unable to control things in the country. If the country is threatened by slogan shouting of the students, then you do not understand the country. Anyway, the government has to come clean on money they have spent. If the same amount of money is spent by the BJP in the forthcoming elections, then democracy will be finished.
I am not against spending of money on elections but that should be under permissible limit. If man's honesty is put up for sale, then it is worse than capitalism. In no time the society will plunge into feudalism. This is democracy. Those in power should realize that they are not the kings, they are the subjects; people are the kings. The pompousness in prime minister calling himself pradhan sevak is evident; I prefer calling him prime minister. People have chosen him for five years. It is time for him to enunciate what he has done so far for them. But everything here is wrapped under extreme secrecy. RTI queries are being denied on the pretext of security issue. What’s wrong in revealing expenses of the PMO? I was part of a government. I believe that the government should maintain its dignity.
Today they criticize the Congress for being undemocratic, but as a matter of fact their own tactics are brazenly undemocratic. Their heads-I-win-tails-you-lose tactics will not work. Even the Congress never maintained as much secrecy as they are maintaining. During Indira Gandhi's rule, a Congress MP Mohan Ram made a recommendation for liquor license. The opposition burst into uproar, demanding the government to show the file in the house. Indira Gandhi rejected that demand citing procedural constraints. The opposition agreed to her: the opposition did not want to set a wrong precedent. It was decided that the concerned minister will show the file to a few opposition leaders in the Speaker’s chamber. This is what democracy is all about. What is the definition of your democracy? “We’ll do whatever we like to do” is not democracy. It is a ridiculous joke played on the public.
I used to think that Arun Jaitley is a learned man. But he made a mess of the Finance Ministry. Some people say that the PMO controls the finance minister. The country's economy has been pushed to the brink. The United States is happy that India has taken a step in Ease of Doing Business. But Ease of Doing Business and ease of closing business cannot go hand in hand. In our country closure of one factory will leave ten-thousand jobless.
On the other hand, the process of breaking the country is continuously on. Nothing could be more obnoxious than the disturbing pictures on TV where Muslim boys were being shot dead by hundred of cops. But the government turned a blind-eye to that. Another alarming fact is that since the Yogi government has taken over, the UP police have killed at least 86 people in encounters. Had guns been the remedy, the crime would have stopped since long. In fact to abate crime a serious deliberation is needed. Since I have been associated with media, I have great respect for the free press. After this election, the press has to endure the most scathing attack on it. This is because in the four and a half years the press has shown that it is not only up for sale but at a very low price. Not even a single newspaper stood up to occasion and write against the government. At a time when the newspapers stooped so low, the alternative comes in the form of online news portals like the Wires, the Prints, etc., which have shown some courage. Television news channel NDTV was being hounded by the ED and CBI ostensibly for showing items not liked by the government. Is this what Gandhi-ji served jail for or is it freedom we longed for so long? If it is the case then the British were not bad, they too were doing the same thing: muzzling the people’s voice. You have breached the boundary of democratic values. The apex court pronounced its Aadhar judgment. Although the judgment is not favorable for those who were opposing it, the solace is the dissenting note of Justice Chandrachud, who said that this is totally illegal. Nonetheless, all the steps this government has taken come under suspicion. Although the government is still in power, its sanctity is not the same.