There have been several controversies world wide over books, and usually, they relate to the facts published in the books. But it has happened for the first time in India that questions are being raised about the timing of a book rather than its contents. Actually, two recent books which highlight Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s helpless powerlessness and his image of someone dancing to the Gandhi family’s tune have embarrassed and made the Congress very uncomfortable. These books coming into the market at the time of the Lok Sabha elections have become a matter and source of problems for the Congress. Manmohan, Sonia, Rahul and their loyal functionaries are quite rattled by the truth that has emerged through these books. But they must understand that over the last ten years, people of the country have been watching such a person in the form of a Prime Minister who did not have the capacity to take independent decisions. These books give documentary shape to this helpless powerlessness of the Prime Minister.
Two recently published books have created problems for the Congress party. The first book, ‘The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh’ is by Sanjay Baru, who was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Media Advisor in the first stint of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) Government, commonly known as UPA-1. The second book, ‘Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths’ is by PC Parakh, was Coal Secretary in the UPA-1 Government and retired as Coal Secretary in December 2005. In their respective books, Sanjay Baru and PC Parakh have portrayed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as someone who was utterly helpless, unable to take serious decisions and who worked according to Sonia Gandhi’s signals. These books provide factual information of the UPA Government time scams, especially in respect of the coal scam, also known as Coalgate. Of course, the 120 crore people in the country already know very well all the things that Sanjay Baru and PC Parakh have disclosed about Prime Minister Manmohan. They know that their Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who resides at New Delhi’s 7 Race Course ( the Prime Minister’s official residence) was subservient to and a virtual slave to orders from Sonia Gandhi who resides at 10 Janpath (official residence of the Congress President Sonia Gandhi).
These books are important also because they break the myth of Sonia Gandhi being an ‘Idol of Sacrifice’ (‘Tyag Murti’), as these books prove that even without being the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi took all the major decisions which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should have taken. Even though the country’s people were already aware of Manmohan Singh’s subservience, nobody had surmised that the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy could be so weak and confused, as revealed in the books. Actually, in this country whenever a Congress Government was formed and the Prime Minister was someone who was not from the Gandhi family, he was subjected to the same set of conditions. I think it is pertinent here to mention an incident that happened four years ago. At that time, from Parliament to the roads, there was an uproar over the 2G scam. Days later Prime Minister Manmohan Singh broke his silence before the media and startled everyone by saying that he was an ignorant, doltish high school student. However, even at that time the Prime Minister’s public confession came as no surprise to anyone. This statement by a powerless Prime Minister reminds one of President Giani Zail Singh who had been appointed by the grace of Indira Gandhi and had said, ‘If Indira says so, I am ready to even sweep the floor’. Many kinds of things are said even about former President Pratibha Patil. However, Manmohan Singh has broken all records in his sycophancy of the Gandhi family. This is the reason that he was unable to establish himself as a capable Prime Minister.
The talk about the so called ‘Idol of Sacrifice’, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, does not end here. The present President, Pranab Mukherjee, was in 2004, the strongest contender for the Prime Minister’s post from the side of the Congress. Even the Opposition parties did not have any doubts about his abilities and political understanding, but Sonia Gandhi and her sycophant functionaries did not want Pranab Mukherjee to become Prime Minister because Pranab Mukherjee is like an institution in himself. Along with Congress leaders, Sonia Gandhi too knew this. Therefore, both times instead of an able statesman being made the Prime Minister, a person was appointed to the post who did not consider himself a Prime Minister, but a ‘sevak’ (somebody who serves) of Sonia and the Gandhi family.
As a result, it seemed that during the ten years of his tenure, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh worked like an employee in the Prime Minister’s post. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s helplessness can be judged from the incident when the Cabinet issued an Ordinance and Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi publicly called the Ordinance ‘complete nonsense which should be should be torn up and thrown away’. Here Manmohan Singh bowed before Rahul and after returning from abroad he decided to withdraw the Ordinance. All these many incidents that happened in the last ten years underline the fact that even though Manmohan Singh may have occupied the Prime Minister’s chair, he never exercised his own thinking or took any independent decision. In fact, Manmohan Singh himself is responsible for his condition, because in the last ten years he could not gauge or appreciate the dignity attached to the post of the Prime Minister.
You must have seen Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi together at some function or the other that was televised. If you can recall some visuals, they will be of seeing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh like a docile innocent being in the presence of Sonia and Rahul. While speaking before Sonia his voice often falters. The same invisible fear prevented Manmohan Singh from becoming an influential Prime Minister and neither could his persona be maintained. Sanjay Baru’s book also confirms that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not take any decision on his own, and instead they were all taken in accordance with Sonia Gandhi’s wishes. This means that for the Prime Minister, keeping Sonia and Rahul happy was more important than the welfare of the country. In fact, Sanjay Baru and PC Parakh’s recent books prove not only how blurred the dignity of the post of Prime Minister became, but also how much interference there was from 10 Janpath in the functioning of the Prime Minister’s Office – for instance many appointments in the Prime Minister’s Office were not made according to Manmohan’s wishes but according to Sonia Gandhi’s wishes.
In his book PC Parakh has written quite emphatically that the former Union Minister for Coal, Shibu Soren and Minister of State for Coal, Dasari Narayana Rao put up many blockages in the improvement processes in the Ministry of Coal. They opposed the proposals of open auction of coal blocks. According to Parakh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was amenable to making the auctioning and bidding process of coal blocks transparent, but due to interference from his favourite Ministers and MPs he was unable to do so. Parakh’s book also relates how the CAG’s report on the coal block allocations had put the UPA Government in the dock. According to the report, it had been wrong to ignore recommendations for coal block allocations made by the Coal Secretary PC Parakh in 2004. At the time the CAG had made this observation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the Coal Minister. Former Coal Secretary PC Parakh has accepted that there was pressure on him from particular companies in the matter of coal block allocations. According to Parakh, if the Prime Minister had exercised his will power in this issue, then perhaps a coal scam of crores of rupees would not have happened. The surprising thing is that instead of taking steps to initiate proceedings against the scamsters, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh advised the Coal Secretary to get on with his job.
Parakh has also made serious allegations against the CBI in his book. According to him, the CBI has registered a case against Hindalco in the Talabira coal block allocation in Odisha, but no FIR has been registered against the Prime Minister, even though the decision on the Talabira coal block allocation had been taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself. In his book Parakh has also made an allegation of misuing her post when Mamata Banerjee was Coal Minister in the NDA Government. According to the Parakh, at the behest of the Trinamool Congress chief, 50 party workers were given jobs in the North Eastern Coal Fields, throwing the rules to the winds. Many senior journalists and intellectuals have said that both Sanjay Baru and PC Parakh’s books been published at such a time when the Lok Sabha elections are on in the country. As a result those political parties opposed to the Congress may benefit from them. However, one cannot agree with people who are giving this argument, because when such serious issues are involved, what better time than this can there be to bring such issues before the public?
Today, the country is in the process of choosing a new Government, therefore the people should know what went on in the outgoing Government. This is right for democracy, otherwise the country may again move towards some dark tunnel. One pities those people who are raising questions about the timing of these books, because when these books are based on concrete facts, questioning their publication and timing is beyond one’s understanding. Had these books been published after the Lok Sabha elections, would the facts and information in them have changed? Also, had these books been published after the elections, what is the guarantee that they would then not be treated as being politically motivated? Would the question not have arisen then that when the books were printed and ready, why were they stopped from reaching readers before a new Government was formed? The other point is that India is the world’s largest democratic country and every year in some State or the other, State assembly elections are on. For instance, in October- November this year, assembly elections are to be held in the State of Maharashtra, where a Congress-NCP coalition Government is currently in power. If these books had been published in October, even then the question would have arisen that the decision on timing was biased.
Excerpts from an Interview with former Coal Secretary PC Parakh
Former Coal Secretary PC Parakh’s book ‘Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths’ has generated considerable and often fierce political discussions in the country. The book discloses that had Prime Minister Manmohan Singh exercised his will power instead of remaining weak and helpless, perhaps the coal scam amounting to crores or rupees could have been avoided. Chauthi Duniya correspondent Abhishek Ranjan Singh spoke to PC Parakh about his book and the issues in it. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Parakh Sahib, in your book you have held Prime Minister Manmohan Singh responsible for the coal scam. What is the truth in these allegations you have made?
In my book I have held the Prime Minister responsible for the coal scam because due to what can be called his helplessness or lethargy, despite knowing everything he did not prevent loot of the coal. As Coal Secretary in the Ministry of Coal I informed the Prime Minister’s Office through a letter. So much so that I myself met the Prime Minister and apprised him of what was what, but all my attempts proved to be futile. As far as the truth of my allegations is concerned, my book is full of new facts and information.
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh has raised serious questions about your book. According to him, this book has been written to help the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. What do you have to say about these charges made by the Congress?
Will writers now have to take permission from political parties on when to write a book? Writing is a long and continuous process. No book can be published overnight. It takes considerable time. Writing this book took me about three years. It is wrong to see books through political spectacles. If a person has to raise questions, they should be about the facts published in the book.
Will it be called just a sheer coincidence that at the time of the Lok Sabha elections, not only did your book come into the market, but also that of former Media Advisor to the Prime Minister, Sanjay Baru, because in both these books questions have been raised on the role of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh?
You can say it is an absolute coincidence that both these books have been published at such a time when the country is in the process of holding the Lok Sabha elections. Had these books come into the market after the elections, would it have changed the things written in these books? I think questions are being raised about their timing without any reason.
In your book you have written about the reform process in the Ministry of Coal. Alongside, you have also made allegations against the then Minister of Coal, Shibu Soren. What was this matter all about?
Indeed, while I was the Coal Secretary I apprised the Prime Minister about a number or proposals for improvements. The Prime Minister was in agreement with my suggestions, but he appeared to be powerless before his Ministers and MPs. In the Ministry of Coal, interference had started to increase not only from the departmental Minister, but also from other Ministers and MPs. I told the Prime Minister about all these things, but instead of doing anything about it, he advised me instead to continue doing my job peacefully.
In the allocation of coal blocks, gross irregularities were being practised, but despite this you did not do anything at that time. What is the meaning of revealing it in a book after retirement?
Today the whole country is ashamed of the coal scam, but the UPA Government has no regrets about it. In this regard I gave written and oral information to the Government, but they did not take it with any sincerity. If the Central Government had shown activeness in this matter, perhaps the loot of coal could have been prevented, but the Government, especially the Prime Minister, did not abide by duty and responsibility.
Chauthi Duniya Report Proved True
Chauthi Duniya had exposed the coal scam in April 2011 itself. At that time neither had the CAG report come in nor had anybody imagined that there could be such a big scam. At that time nobody even believed there was such a scam. Those who did believe, did so only partially. Even today, Chauthi Duniya firmly stands by the points it raised and brought to light in April 2011. According to our investigations, this coal scam was of at least rupees 26 lakh crores and it is the biggest scam in the history of the country. At that time, nobody showed any seriousness about our report, but before it could be presented in Parliament, the CAG report was leaked and in March 2012 the ‘Times of India’ published this emphatic CAG report, which then created an uproar in Parliament. The CAG report talks about the scam, but it is has understated the amount involved in the scam. The CAG report placed this scam at rupees ten lakh seventy thousand crores, but the Government said the CAG itself was not persistent about the report and the news that had been published was not correct, it was a lie. The Prime Minister’s Office spread this response, citing a letter from the CAG. The very next day the truth came out that the CAG had not denied the scam report. Actually, it needs to be understand that all the parties knew about this scam beforehand but still they kept silent. The moment the CAG report was published in a newspaper it picked up momentum and an uproar started in Parliament. Coal is called black gold, it is called black diamond, but the Government recklessly divided this precious diamond like a monkey would and gave it for free to its beloved, favourite capitalists and brokers.