Sayings and adages often turn out to be right, because sayings evolve and emerge after thousands of years of experience, in two or three lines in the form of a principle. One such saying is about to be proved true again. The saying, translated from Hindi, reads ‘getting a black hand in coal brokering’(koyele ki dalali mein hath kala, meaning you cannot get away without getting your hands black in any coal deal). No saying has been coined for someone who sells coal. This saying is about the person who indulges in brokerage of coal.
Till now the Supreme Court had been talking of an inquiry into the coal scam and somewhere or the other the direction of inquiry could be seen leading towards Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence. But it was not known clearly if that direction would indeed go all the way till his residence. However, files from the Ministry of Coal went missing, on which the first statement from the Prime Minister came that he was not a custodian of files. This statement is not the statement of a responsible person. The Prime Minister is the custodian of the nation and when files disappear – files which have a relationship with the Supreme Court inquiry, with the CBI inquiry and with the concern and worry of the Supreme Court, then the Prime Minister should have said that he too is concerned and worried about how the files disappeared from the Ministry. But he said the exact opposite – that he was not a custodian of the files!, whether the files are missing or are not missing is not his responsibility! This statement of the Prime Minister jarred and many people perhaps felt that ‘chor ki dari mein kanhi tinka hai’ ( somewhere in the thief’s beard there is a blade of grass, meaning suspicion needs no proof, it becomes obvious). But that the Prime Minister of a country of almost 120 crore people should continuously change statement after statement was beyond belief. But this is precisely what seems to be happening in India.
The Supreme Court’s concerns and worries and the Supreme Court’s directions for a CBI inquiry are matters which cannot be ignored and those concerns and worries can be understood. Now a new statement has come and that is the statement of P C Parakh, the former Coal Secretary. He said that if an FIR has been filed against me, an FIR should be filed against the Prime Minister as well. I did not make any final decision. The final call was the Prime Minister’s. This statement of the former Coal Secretary is stating directly that the coal deal was deliberate and was done with the knowledge of the then Minister of Coal, Shri Manmohan Singh. Former Coal Secretary Shri Parakh also said that Shibu Soren, a Minister of Coal in the Union Ministry at one time, had been against this kind of transaction and did not want the allocation of coal blocks to be carried out in this manner. It is generally believed that Shibu Soren was mired to a considerable extent in the quagmire of corruption. He had to face several types of inquiries. He was also accused of taking money to save the Government. Many kinds of cases were slapped on him and are still going on. It can perhaps be presumed that Shibu Soren was somewhere at the root of the coal scam, but Shri Parakh has clearly stated that on this issue Shibu Soren is totally clean and the Prime Minister, after setting aside many objections permitted the existing policy of coal block allocation to keep running. This policy was passed neither in Parliament nor was this policy passed in the Cabinet.
On behalf of the Government of India, it was untruthfully stated in the Supreme Court that this policy was decided in
the Cabinet, at which the Supreme Court said that proceedings of the meeting of the Cabinet with records should be presented before the Supreme Court. Why doesn’t the Government of India understand that if something wrong was done, then the responsibility for it should be accepted and it should make efforts to correct the lapse? Instead of which there is a statement on everything — which is proved wrong in the next few days and there is abhorrence for the Government. The irritation and the language with which the Supreme Court judges are addressing Attorney General G E Vahanvati tells us that the Supreme Court does not have much faith on the statements of Vahanvati.
In fact, Vahanvati has been continuously telling a lie. At first he said in the Supreme Court that nobody had seen the CBI report. After that while filing an affidavit he said that four people had seen the CBI report and out of those four persons one was
Vahanvati himself. Vahanvati has not apologised till yet in his statement to the Supreme Court and this perhaps is also irksome to the Supreme Court. Shri Parakh, who was the Secretary in the Ministry of Coal at the time of the coal block allocations had opposed the existing policy — the Prime Minister had asked him to continue with the policy. His statement that if I am responsible, then the Prime Minister is equally responsible points in actuality towards a very major crisis. It means that the Prime Minister deliberately allowed this scam to take place.
The Supreme Court is monitoring the inquiry and if the scam is proved correct, it is obvious and clear that permission for it was given by the Prime Minister himself. It is not a coincidence that when today’s Prime Minister was the Finance Minister in Narsimha Rao’s Government from 1992 to 1996, then the first big scam involving foreign banks took place, in which foreign banks gobbled up Rs. 5000 crores. The then Finance Minister had confirmed the scam, but no step was taken to bring back the rupees which had been gobbled up. Instead the Government of India compensated for the money from its own side and public money was used to hide a scam. After this there was a virtual deluge of scams and advancing from rupees ten thousand, twenty thousand, forty thousand, scams upto one lakh crore of rupees were exposed.
Those who want to defend and shield Manmohan Singh say that he merely signed, the money went elsewhere. Will the country or the Supreme Court get any relief from knowing that Manmohan Singh merely signed and the money went elsewhere? Was this money spent during the elections of 2009? Did this money go to foreign banks? Will it ever be known what happened to this money? Whether there was a scam or not – on this too the people who defend and shield the Prime Minister raise questions. It is a matter of great regret that the Government never takes any steps on every issue on which rests the faith and expectations of the people, the Supreme Court has to take the steps. Even if it is a relatively small issue like the Right to Reject, on which our Election Commission could easily have taken a decision if it so desired.
The direction towards which Parakh was hinting when he said that if am responsible the Prime Minister is equally responsible is a scam of rupees twenty six lakh crores. Rupees twenty six lakh crores is the biggest scam so far after Independence and the man directly involved in it very clearly – his name is Manmohan Singh. Those who want to defend and shield Manmohan Singh say that he merely signed, the money went elsewhere. Will the country or the Supreme Court get any relief from knowing that Manmohan Singh merely signed and the money went elsewhere? Was this money spent during the elections of 2009? Did this money go to foreign banks? Will it ever be known what happened to this money?
Whether there was a scam or not – on this too the people who defend and shield the Prime Minister raise questions. It is a matter of great regret that the Government never takes any steps on every issue on which rests the faith and expectations of the people, the Supreme Court has to take the steps. Even if it is a relatively small issue like the Right to Reject, on which our Election Commission could easily have taken a decision if it so desired. Our Election Commission is more responsible when compared to the Election Commission of Pakistan. But Pakistan’s Election Commission took the decision on the Right to Reject, and that too without any direction from the courts, without any Government pressure. Here in our country, the Supreme Court had to intervene. Now the Supreme Court is monitoring the coal block allocations investigations in detail and it has said that the investigations must be completed by December. These are the Supreme Court’s directions to the CBI. If this inquiry is completed by December, its direct meaning is that some decision could come in January.
We are not feeling the slightest bit of joy when writing all this. We are not feeling good about it at all because the question is not merely about the coal allocations. The question is bigger than that. The big question is, what has happened to the letters which the former Army Chief wrote to the Prime Minister, out of which some letters were leaked by the Ministry of Defense or the Prime Minister’s office itself, whereupon the guns of Congress leaders had been trained and fired against the former Army Chief. Who made the leakage – that is not important. It is what has been said in those letters that is important and whether the Government of India has taken any steps to ameliorate the condition of the Army? This question is in the minds of the people of the country. And we fear saying that if a situation of war arises, then we should not get defeated by an enemy far weaker than us simply because of our own foolishness. So foolish! Not moving in step with the times. So foolish! Not making the correct weapons purchases. So foolish! The bold interference by brokers in purchasing weapons and letting the transactions involved to get affected.
These are issues to which attention will be given, but perhaps only when the Supreme Court will pose these questions and place the issues before the Government in the form of a reprimand. The coal block allocation investigation will be completed by December, but the questions which the former Army Chief had raised in connection with the security of the country, when will the Supreme Court make those questions its own questions? These questions point to a bigger scam than the coal scam. Can we hope that the Supreme Court opens its eyes and ears a bit more, so that this country can get rid of the possible danger which can be seen standing in the form of a war with China and Pakistan?