Opinion » Lead

Updated: March 19, 2011 06:18 IST

Bribery charge must now be investigated

Siddharth Varadarajan
Comment (59)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

The Embassy cable suggests a serious crime was committed on Indian soil to which U.S. diplomats were privy. The Prime Minister cannot cite lame arguments to justify inaction.

Since politics is a distraction, consider the following retelling of the WikiLeaks tale. An activist dies in a traffic accident. CCTV footage from a bank nearby suggests he might have been murdered but the case is never investigated properly. Three years later, a newspaper publishes what it says is an American Embassy cable sent a few days before that suspicious accident. In the cable, a U.S. diplomat quotes a multinational company executive talking loosely about how he paid money to some criminals to convince the activist to get out of his way.

How would a civilised country which values the rule of law react to such a disclosure? Would the government cite technicalities about the “unverified and unverifiable” nature of the “purported” cable and the executive's protestation of innocence and not even bother to ask the police to look into the matter? Or would it reassure the nation that even though the information is unverified, it will do its best to find out the truth?

In the face of the political firestorm that The Hindu's publication of a secret U.S. Embassy cable about payoffs to MPs has generated, all that the people of India needed was an assurance from the UPA government that the serious crime of bribery, if established by a proper investigation, would not go unpunished. What they got instead was cynical obfuscation.

Speaking in Parliament on the subject, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have mounted a ‘technical' and wholly ineffective defence of the government.

The July 17, 2008 cable sent by U.S. Charge d'Affaires Steven White stated that a Congress politician named Nachiketa Kapur — described as a “political aide” to Captain Satish Sharma, M.P. — showed an Embassy staff member “two chests containing cash and said that around Rupees 50crore-60 crore (about $25 million) was lying around the house for use as pay-offs” to MPs to ensure that the Manmohan Singh government won the confidence vote that was set for July 22. The cable, which was accessed by The Hindu from WikiLeaks, also quotes Mr. Kapur saying Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal was paid Rs.10 crore for each of its MPs.

That the RLD was actively being wooed can be seen from the Union Cabinet's July 17, 2008 decision to rename Lucknow airport ‘Chaudhry Charan Singh Airport' after Mr. Ajit Singh's father. Other inducements were also on offer but in the end, the RLD voted against the government. Here Nachiketa Kapur turned out to have been remarkably prescient. After claiming the RLD MPs had been paid off, the Embassy cable notes: “Kapur mentioned that money was not an issue at all, but the crucial thing was to ensure that those who took the money would vote for the government.”

In the face of this damaging information which is contained in a secret cable that was never meant to be publicly circulated (that too in a redacted form) till at least 2018, Mr. Mukherjee and Dr. Singh made five lame points.

First, the Finance Minister told Parliament on Thursday that since the allegation of bribery applies to the 14th Lok Sabha which has since been dissolved, the 15th Lok Sabha had no locus standi to discuss the issue.

Second, he said the cable was a sovereign communication between different branches of the U.S. government, was covered by diplomatic immunity and that the information it contained could neither be confirmed nor denied by India. Despite the U.S. State Department saying publicly last year that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had spoken to External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to warn him of the impending publication of confidential cables by WikiLeaks, Dr. Singh told Parliament: “The Government of India cannot confirm the veracity, contents or even the existence of such communications.”

Third, the Finance Minister said the information about bribery in the cable would not be considered admissible evidence in any court of law. The Prime Minister added that “many of the persons referred to in those reports have stoutly denied the veracity of the contents,” as if the country ought to be satisfied by mere protestations of innocence by the accused.

The government's fourth argument was that a Parliamentary committee had probed the matter and concluded that there was “insufficient evidence.” Finally, the Prime Minister took refuge behind the “court of the people,” declaring that since the Congress got re-elected in 2009 the charge of bribery had been “rejected by the people.” By this logic, the Congress has no right to accuse Narendra Modi of complicity in the 2002 massacres since this allegation has been “rejected by the people” not once but twice.

Instead of hiding behind technicalities and dubious political arguments, government managers could have defused the crisis by promising that the information contained in the cable would be probed. It is nobody's claim that the contents of a U.S. Embassy cable should be treated as gospel truth. Of course, the reason the cable struck a wider chord is because there is corroborating evidence of bribery having taken place in the run-up to the confidence vote. There are video recordings from a sting operation conducted by CNN-IBN and a Parliamentary committee tasked with probing the matter in 2008 felt there was enough material for the appropriate investigative agencies to conduct a probe. That said, the Embassy cable's contents still need to be verified.

Captain Satish Sharma, Nachiketa Kapur and Ajit Singh have all said the allegations against them are false. Captain Sharma has denied Mr. Kapur was ever his political aide and the latter has said he had only passing contact with the Congress MP and with U.S. Embassy officials. Are they lying? Or was the U.S. Embassy staff member being economical with the truth when he told the Charge d'Affaires he had been shown the cash?

A proper police investigation conducted by an agency like the CBI under the supervision of the Supreme Court can certainly make a fair attempt to establish where the burden of truth lies.

Mr. Mukherjee is right that the cable is sovereign diplomatic communication but India can surely request its “strategic partner” to help probe an allegation that has diminished the country's democratic institutions in the eyes of its people and the world. For starters, the U.S. can be asked to identify the unnamed Embassy staff member. If he was an Indian employee or an American without diplomatic status, there would be absolutely no problem in the CBI recording his statement and asking him to join a criminal investigation. He could tell us, for example, where his conversation with Mr. Kapur took place. The staffer reported back to Mr. White that he was told Rs.50 crore or Rs.60 crore was “lying around the house.” Which house was he referring to? Even if the Embassy “staff member” was a diplomat — one theory is that it was the Political Counsellor himself who dropped his descriptor because he had inadvertently become party to a criminal act — diplomatic immunity would not come in the way of him informally helping the police in their investigation. India can also ask the U.S. to waive his immunity. Moreover, the call records of Captain Sharma and Mr. Kapur can be examined to fix their physical locations and ascertain the nature of their relationship, especially on the day the meetings mentioned in the cable took place. This can then be triangulated with the telephone number of the U.S. Political Counsellor, whose number is known to the Indian authorities. These are the minimum steps that any self-respecting democracy would want to take in the face of such a serious charge.

On the eve of the July 22, 2008 vote of confidence, I wrote an op-ed in The Hindu where I said: “Even if the government wins the trust vote on Tuesday, the Prime Minister and the Congress will not be able to live down the taint of impropriety surrounding their victory.” The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the listlessness, drift and corruption that so many commentators have indicted the Manmohan Singh government for in its second innings have their origins in the manner in which that trust vote was won. The UPA lost its moral centre that day, and with it, its political bearings.

In a hideous coincidence, the taint of bribery has come back to haunt the government at a time when the nuclear dream which was supposed to make it all worth it is slowly evaporating in plumes of deadly radioactive steam above Japan. “If implemented in the way it is promised, [the nuclear deal] would increase the country's energy options in the long-run,” I wrote in the same op-ed. “But no deal is so good that it merits the short-circuiting of democratic propriety through horse-trading or worse.”

The Opposition is wrong to insist that the Prime Minister must resign because of the leaked cable. But he has a moral obligation to ensure the cable's contents are investigated properly. Refusing to do so would be an act of immense political folly, especially in the light of all the scam allegations that have buffeted his government.

Thanks for the clarity. It is amazing how many times the 'honest' prime minister has refused to investigate. Right from Chawla, chawal etc to this bribery. He is 'honest' indeed!

from:  Ragu Kattinakere
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 00:56 IST

I'm glad that Hindu is living up to the journalistic standards that it has set for itself. With all the news of corruption and inefficiency on the part of a government meant for the billions in India, the time is ripe for change. An India which grows steadily younger cannot let this go unnoticed as it has let so many other things go unanswered. It is high time that everyone takes a stand. Not against a person or a party, but against bigger evils such as corruption that are rampant across parties. And Hindu will be the torch bearer in this.

from:  Anju
Posted on: Mar 25, 2011 at 01:39 IST

Democracy is the best example of the illusion of people power. We have only two choices to vote for (the regional parties align one way or the other anyway) and both are corrupt. Once they are in, we can't do anything for five years and then vote the other in. Pathetic state of affairs. No point in paying taxes if it is just being thrown away like this.

from:  Kiran
Posted on: Mar 22, 2011 at 01:31 IST

An excellent write up. It brings out the weak stand of the Govt.But it is India and expecting any worthwhile action from Govt is a big Question

from:  K.V.Namboodiri
Posted on: Mar 21, 2011 at 20:54 IST

We all know what is happening in Delhi, the parliament and what our politicians are doing. A news paper of you're standing should spell out what need to be done to overcome the current situation rather then publishing cheeky and mundane content of WikiLeaks in small doses every day. Stop this stunt and stand up as an Indian and tell us what need to be done.

from:  Anand G
Posted on: Mar 21, 2011 at 19:16 IST

In all the leaked cables one thing is striking. Why is it that our (great) Netas just spill the beans to any US consulate member. Looks like they do not even have to offer booze (a green card!) to these people to tell them.What shameless people we have as Netas!

from:  SriKa
Posted on: Mar 21, 2011 at 15:05 IST

The current political atmosphere is being vitiated by the trio,PM,FM and Kapil Sibal,IT minister by making lame and nonsense statements in the Parliament. These statements hardly befit them as they are holding the highest offices and there is a breach of privileges according to the oaths sworn by them. They are misleading the nation as well as the aam aadmi.

from:  J.P.Barthwal
Posted on: Mar 21, 2011 at 14:04 IST

The author has asked very pertinent questions to Congress. I feel that Manmohan Singh has bartered his integity to sustain the post of prime minister. Is this not corruption? So called intellectuals in India are still saying that Manmohan Singh is has a clean character which I don't accept. He is as greedy as any one else in congress. If he had integrity and impeccable charecter he would not have facilitated corruption under his supervision. MMS will go in the history as the most corrupt and greedy Prime Minister of India.

from:  Chandrakant Marathe
Posted on: Mar 21, 2011 at 13:08 IST

I feel we should not attach importance to these Wikileaks cable messages. Firstly, it is some staff member making some casual comments. Come to New Delhi and just converse with any chaprasi in Secretariat, he will unload tons of news! These are prevalent in every administration. Secondly, today it is US embassy. We can reasonably imagine that similar reports might be being sent by every country. Are we going to attach similar importance to them also? Don't we know that each country has some axe to grind against India on some issue or the other? Do we expect honest reporting by all, including USA? Let us attach the minimum importance it deserves and beyond that we should simply ignore. Otherwise, such hacking of cables of every embassy will be made and we will be a laughing stock!

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Mar 21, 2011 at 10:15 IST

An excellent and moderate dissection by Siddharth. Congress and the government are sitting pretty, smug in the knowledge that (a) CBI investigations will meander and go nowhere (b) public memory is short (c) next elections are eons away in the political calendar (d) the average person is too concerned with daily living to comprehend corruption and scandals that take place far away in secrecy, however huge they may be (e) democracy in India of today is equated to winning elections by distributing money and favors to the small and the big ahead of the elections and once in power, indulge in bigger and more outlandish schemes to defraud the treasury (f) the President and the Governors will do the bidding of the executive and the party as they owe their positions to the same ruling coterie and (g) the long-suffering and fatalistic Indian psyche will forgive and forget all transgressors and atrocities with a shrug and nod to the long history and march of its civilization, with a near total surrender to authority. All the current fury and noise will subside and life will go on as before.

from:  Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Mar 21, 2011 at 07:40 IST

I wonder how many people in rural India know how the Nehru's got the Gandhi tag. I guess scores of people still think that Indira, Rajiv, Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka etc. are some way or the other related to Gandhi. Gandhi is given a god like admiration in India. His photo features in the currency, all goverment offices portray his picture etc. Is there a legal way to get the Nehru family to shed the Gandhi tag? In spite of mistakes, errors, sins of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi our goverment schemes are named after them. Could we discuss legal options?

from:  Mahesh
Posted on: Mar 21, 2011 at 00:40 IST

I have become a fan of Hindu after what you have done with the Wikileaks. I was hoping since the Wikeleaks started publishing damming details late last year, that let's know what is being said about India in these leaks. I am more than happy to see these things coming out not because I like to see these humiliating details about my country, but wanted the truth to come out. These leaks should be taken more seriously for 2 reasons 1) many of these leaks are not surprises but are only confirmation of things we already know 2) US communication to their counterparts would not have any bias towards one or other Indian party, so can be viewed neutral. Please keep the focus on this subject and do a national service.

from:  Shrinivas
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 23:16 IST

If USA knew of the bribery at the time why it did not inform the media or the authorities. It is clear that USA saw the nuclear deal crucial for its own interests and not India's interests and therefore closed its eyes. There is a common thread to the dealings with the West when it comes to their interests, bribery, corruption, torture, killings is all acceptable. When West wants to protect its own interests then it can operate Guantanamo Bay and justify torture. 2nd lesson from the bribery scandal that Indian democracy is a sham because most of the representatives are criminals with low moral values. How can one system be justified when it consistently props up people with criminal backgrounds and low morality? 3rd lesson is that both major parties of India are useless and they do not represent the interests of the people of India. Investigation will never be ordered and will reveal nothing.

from:  Naveed Khan
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 22:54 IST

I am shocked to see the logic put up by Dr. Singh in the Parliament for not investigating the cash for vote scam. This is a scam which has happened, and the more Congress and its PM refuse to investigate , the more it will hurt them. Dr. Singh will do well, and will go well in history, and be able to wash the dirt of the UPA 2 , if , even at this stage, he stands up and says sorry and puts in his paper. He is trying to defend what cannot be defended, and surely not in the court of the citizens of India. People of India will not respect Dr. Singh, if he fails to own up now.

from:  P B Ramanujam
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 22:45 IST

I don't understand as to how 'this' is different from the hoards of cash received by MLA's for sending the rich industrialists to the Upper house to get elected as their representatives.Just like the 'assumed' transaction to vote here ,so the MLA's are assumed to vote accordingly.These are the additional perks of democracy,ethical or otherwise.

from:  Arun Mehta
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 20:10 IST

The government is responsible for any misdeed done or any credible information hidden from the people for the benefit of a few. The Common man has no forum to get information regarding the crucial government decision. It has to rely on media and press for the relevant information. RTI acts have failed to deliver such information. Hats off to the Wikileaks India cables and people behind the scenes, who dared to bring hidden information to the surface. Surely the government is in the back foot and it should be. Dr MMS has to come up with credible clarification against the misdeed lodged against the UPA government.

from:  soumen
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 18:06 IST

When a cricket captain was asked why his team failed in the match, he said I don't know because nobody shared with me nor did I authorise anybody to perform badly.How convincing is the reply? Our PM is no better than that captain. Does he not know at least that nobody expects him to authorise bribery? When he wants all the credit for the win in the match, should not hold himself responsible for all the losses due to 2G,CWG,Adarsh,CVC,and Hasan Ali case etc?

from:  Shanthanu
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 17:15 IST

It is a case of 'vinasha kaale vipareetha buddhi' that is being demonstrated by the government. Otherwise why would they be scared of conducting a probe into this matter? It is indefensible for the PM to continue if these allegations are true. There ought to be a fair and impartial probe into this matter. I think India ought to seriously consider limiting the terms of its MPs to 3-4 terms so that the damage done by these so-called public servants is limited. there is also a need for us citizens to use our votes effectively to punish the guilty. This Lok Sabha is fast becoming a Loot Sabha!!!

from:  Arun Radhakrishnan
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 15:26 IST

The Indian politics is going from bad to worse to nowhere.It is an irony that the whole world looks upon us for the principles of democracy.We are surely epitomizing tarnished polity.There is no gainsaying the fact that the system is rotten deep within.If veteran and credible politicians are going to commit such henious crimes then the so called largest democracy is surely in jeopardy.

from:  Anurag
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 14:25 IST

We are nearly there, with our version of democracy. We need to strengthen the legal arm which treats everyone alike and expedite justice. We need to remind politicians that their position of power is derived from public opinion and that they have to acknowledge their power coming from people and not misuse it. Increase checks and balances. Reduce the power of government and privatise everything. We have come to a stage that every career politician has to hand over his finances to a third party (like managed superannuation) disclosing every paisa of his assets and income including those of every relative and family members. During his tenure he lives off the state and when relinquishing power he gets his assets handed over, with no further perks. When he/she quits it should be like checking out of a hotel room. He should get a no objection certificate just like the rest of society members to claim his assets back. They have to be reminded that they are 'elected public servants' as against 'recruited public servants' of the community.I am sure if disclosed some of our politicians will have personal wealth in excess of the wealthiest individual on earth. Election must be held with all politicians off their portfolios and only a caretaker govt with bureacrats who follow clearly laid out procedures.

from:  Madhusudan Giri
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 13:15 IST

Excellent article. Of course, I would not expect anything less from Siddharth. Given the scandals in the recent past, I believe the GOI, in its usual denial mode, has effectively lost the moral authority to rule. It matters not that this alleged act of blatant criminal conspiracy to circumvent the checks and balances of the democratic process may have taken place in a previous era. The people are not holding Dr. Manmohan Singh and his cohorts responsible for Hitler's crimes, but for their own crimes. The Opposition's demand that the PM should step down is probably based on a cumulative effect of the massive scandals of late rather than any one in particular. As far as I am concerned, regardless of whether the GOI probes the case, as they no doubt must, my confidence in the government is at an all time low. I doubt I am the only one to express such sentiments. The GOI ignores public perception and continues to deny all allegations of inappropriate activity at its own risk. If the Opposition plays its cards right, without too much of its usual baseless, over-the-top rhetoric, the incumbent government is likely to be tried, convicted and executed by the electorate. Let the GOI be under no illusions about the fact that it has most certainly been charged with gross inappropriate behaviour by the people of India.

from:  Samir Mody
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 11:44 IST

Kudos to 'The Hindu' for calling a spade a spade! However I would like to register my disappointment that that author chooses to support Mr. Singh's continuance as the PM; if he has shame and if he is really honest and clean, he would have done the right thing by resigning with all these scams. Please call the PM for what he is, a non-performing captain, guilty by complicity and omission - he has to go!

from:  P.S. Swaminathan
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 11:35 IST

The past few months with scams all around .I belive the goverment should have atleast taken some positive action in this regard but I guess UPA has forgotten to take action in any matter.The only thing they do is to make excuses.People of India are waiting for action not excuses. Kudos to 'The Hindu' for raising a question that directly attacks the roots of our democratic society.The insight presented in this article is truly great and enlighting. I also request Mr Subramanium swamy and other like minded people and our supreme court to take this matter up and let the truth prevail.

from:  Aditya Kothari
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 11:33 IST

I agree with the contents except on the point of Vardharajan not agreeing with the opposition that the PM should resign. His view goes against his main theme that the matter be investigated. Does he not realise that all these chamchas of the Congress President would be declared not guilty by the CBI if the Congress is in power? Then they would ask for an apology from all those who wanted the investigation and for putting them through mental torture/ Does he need additional evidence to substantiate this point?

from:  Sudhir Jatar
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 10:42 IST

Cogent, stunningly crisp and methodical in argument - this article is as clear as a crystal even for a no-brainer ! Kudos to the author - it really strikes all the right chords of the common citizens.

from:  Shakthi Varman
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 10:39 IST

Under the criminal procedure code- the US embassy staff who was aware of the alleged bribe to be given to the members of Parliament was guilty of a conspiracy to murder the democratic system of India and the USA, the greatest champion of democracy in the world was duty bound to inform the speaker of the Lok Sabha about the impending danger. If the present Lok Sabha values our democratic system, they must pass an unanimous resolution condemning the attitude of then US government and send a Protest note to the US Govt.

from:  P N V Krishnan
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 10:37 IST

Very nicely drafted.Shameful government, people have to wake up and thrash congress government in next elections. We will definitely start seeing the impact from the upcoming state elections.

from:  Sathish
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 08:46 IST

It is increasing clear that the Hindu is probably the best newspaper in India. It is hard to disagree with your thoughtful,concerned and balanced coverage of this subject. It is surprising that the PM and the Finance Minister would believe that their explanations are sufficient or satisfactory. I do believe they are more intelligent and analytical than that. However, with charges of corruption/ malfesance in so many spheres of public life, one can't help feeling discouraged and wonder how this plague is going to be removed from the land of Mahatama Gandhi.

from:  Virendra Gupta
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 07:34 IST

Excellent article. Definitey agree with you, this matter at least needs some invesigation. Thinking about all the scams that has been unfolding, I seriously think Dr. MMS must at least take moral responsibility and hand over his resignation. We need someone who can think and act independently, not merely obeying orders from Gandhi family. I think a person like P.Chidambaram must take over as Prime minister.

from:  Viswanathan Vaidyanathan
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 07:10 IST

Hats off 'The Hindu'. Every party in India has sold his soul to money. Nobody cares about the country. Indeed, a sad state of affairs.

from:  Moyeen
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 02:16 IST

Siddharth, this is a great article and great job publishing the wikileaks cables. I agree with your entire article, but have one concrete suggestion that I have felt is lacking in Indian democracy. The way an MP votes in Parliament on an issue should be public knowledge. If we make this transparent, then we could have known how Ajit Singhs party MPs voted. This would make it very clear if he is speaking the truth. Of course we might not be able to do this in retrospect, but hopefully in the future this would help. I see no reason why such things should be a secret ballot.

from:  Seshadri Rajagopal
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 01:29 IST

Never in the recent history had our country or the state displayed the ability to convincingly investigate and solve a political crime. In the absence of this we tend to go back to the polls, which our politicians call 'people's verdict'. After the so called liberalization, capability to investigate even economic offences has seriously diminished or realized so. We do not have independent institutions anymore. In some sense they were not created in the first place after independence. The bureaucracy has been overwhelming all along. Now most people at the helm have no political moorings, they have come from bureaucracy via Rajya Sabha. So change of guard through elections doesn't bring any meaningful change in policy. The machine of governance has become self-serving.

from:  S.Sistla
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 01:24 IST

This is Siddharth at his best! I have not seen a better case made for Dr. Singh to set records straight. It is truly a national tragedy that Indian Politicians stoop to these levels in order to achive results. The unfortunate tragedy in Japan may help to restore debate on this matter to its right place!

from:  Gita Sridhar
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 23:58 IST

Election Commission should intervene in this regard and stop the concerned political parties of UPA from contesting in the elections till the time all these attrocious charges are proven or disproven. Prime Minister's brushing aside of the charges with lamest, dumbest and calous of excuses like the 15th Lok Sabha can't question the 14th Lok Sabha further vehemently reinforces that there is something really fishy and needs to be investigated thoroughly whole heatedly with the support of 'Stragegic Partner' without any bias. Until then citizens of India along with the opposition parties have a few things to do.1) Vote the 'Desh Dhrohis' down in the upcoming election ,2) Promptly track them down with scientific investigations and establish truth, 3) Bring in tighter control over formation of political alliances for forming governments post election.All the best India, we can do it!

from:  Vinod Patel
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 23:50 IST

This event again brings to the fore the prevalence of corruption in the Indian democratic setup.This might have been the first time when such a heinous act has come out in the public domain but it in no way guarantees that exchange of cash for votes didn't occur before this UPA government. What it does is it increases the credibility of Wikileaks and Julian Assange, for they have managed to bring the egregiousness of the the various ruling governments out in the open.So instead of defaming and maligning Wikileaks what is required is that the Indian government allows the CBI to conduct an independent investigation in the matter under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

from:  Shashank
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 23:13 IST

Very well said. The tragedy is that we are still living with it. It seems that this is happening for years by many people in power (political and monetary). The corruption and illegalities are widespread in our country. However, the good news is that at least someone is exposing it. The next step will certainly be to take it through which is the only way to discourage it in future.

from:  Mukul Agrawal
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 21:13 IST

Congress and BJP both are big horns of the devil,they are not addressing core issues of our country like bribery and corruption.On the contrary only aggravating the situation steering the Republic of India into complete Utopia.

from:  Laxman
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 19:52 IST

The defence by the PM and the FM are so weak that the defence is fit to be rejected outright and the fact that this UPA is destroying the institutions and the democracy itself is a greater danger and it is therefore necessary that this government is dismissed without any further delay so as ensure denying any chance to throttle the system further for nefarious ends to continue to remain in power.

from:  V.Padmanabhan
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 19:33 IST

Excellent article. Instead of being pessimistic, let us generate ideas to counter corruption at all levels. Please publish articles about mechanisms or practices that have helped in highlight corruption, making it easier to trace the culprits and creating legal framework to punish the guilty.

from:  Ajay
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 19:00 IST

An excellent article. Congrats to 'The Hindu' team for their work. Deeds like this have placed in the frontline of the media. Hope they continue this tradition in future. An enquiry by the CBI monitored by the Supreme Court is the least the Indian public deserves in this case. Mr. Clean(MMS) must tell us the truth and not hide behind mere technicalities. The country has immense respect for him and he should remember that he is an academic first and then a politician. An academic is supposed to tell the truth and nothing else.

from:  Avishek Deb
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 18:41 IST

The expectation that wikileaks on trust vote bribing shared with the public deserve some investigative action, is fair and logical. However, demanding the PM to resign on this far exceeds the expectation. It was not a crime committed for gain, it was a political move for saving the government. The expenditure of Rs 50-60 crore to save a government is technically justified. Having said that, it is confirmed from other scams though that the Govt under Dr Singh, after winning the trust vote in 2008, has indulged in unprecedented financial corruption and the PM appears well-in-the-know and involved. This situation definitely deserves corrective action. But our constitution does not help here. Does the nation wait for 3 more years to remove this dispensation under the PM, who chooses to be a weak wife (Caesar's?!) continuing to stab its poor husband (the nation) and his family members (the citizen) with shady practices in governance? The answer is an emphatic NO. But seeking a divorce from this wife using the 'cash for vote' wikileaks will appear puerile.

from:  VMN Sharma
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 17:14 IST

I like Prime Minister Singh, but given common sense, I can probably sense that he is not as corruption-free as the Party would like us to believe. Firstly, the Raja affair was corruption in the billions, when amounts exceed the billion factor, very important people at very influential people are involved and given Dr. Singh appoints his cabinet, I have strong convictions that he was involved. And then this bribery scandel - I will have to believe Arun Shourie that the PMO ignored his red flags. India is cursed, neither the Congress Party or the BJP are the right party for India.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 17:05 IST

Congress govt is surviving because opposition parties in India are weak. BJP should have asked for probe into the leaked cables instead of Prime Minister's resignation. Not only PM but whole UPA is responsible for the case.

from:  Ankush Reothia
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 13:31 IST

...This article make quite pertinent point about bankruptcy of the present day dispensation. I would have been fine if this cable would have been independent thing...But we can't ignore the happenings during July 2008 vote. Above all parliamentary body has looked into it and found sufficient scope to investigate this matter.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 12:46 IST

The Prime Minister should resign because, as he has himself said recently, Caesar's wife must be above suspicion. Until he clears his name in the matter of 'cash for votes' accusation, a very major accusation in a democracy, the opposition is right in asking for his resignation. Major accusations can 'taint' not only the Rajas and Thomases of this world, but can 'taint' others in high office too.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 12:44 IST

A very well written and balanced article, Siddharth Varadarajan deserves congratulations! However, if this Govt does not take note of the interference of a foreign power in our afffairs and come clean in the whole issue, then they would be comiting a political suicide . . or may be they just do not bother.

from:  Suvasish De
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 11:56 IST

In this issue, at stake are the very credibility of our nation's democratic institutions and the integrity of the political leadership of UPA. Nation can't be satisfied with the unconvincing excuses offered by the PM and FM. The issue needs to be thoroughly investigated, its criminal and political angles separately. It involves grave issues like the subversion and manipulation of democratic processes using money power and state power by the ruling party. Nation expects PM to be decisive in such situations. Else President of India, in her capacity as the custodian of the constitution must advice government to take appropriate action unequivocally. Now UPA leadership is under suspicion, and it is their duty to clear the blemishes. They must not forget that there is a political price to be given at the end.

from:  Yathy Pattali
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 11:38 IST

Just fixing a probe on it will help, Really? Are we not probing so many matters for years.. There is no accountability. Sad democracy

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 10:59 IST

This article merits deep and careful consideration by the Government of India. The issue at hand is of such magnitude that it cannot be swept under the carpet by mere technicalities or confusing statements about the people's verdict (which incidentally seems to have been bought with money-power !) The real question is whether the government wants to maintain high ethical standards in governance or not. Any attempt to thwart an honest investigation of this shameful affair will only add to the disillusionment and further alienation of the youth of this country who already have too much to bear ! The people of India will be left wondering about whether it is worth their while to vote at all or may choose to cast a negative vote indicating their lack of trust in any of the current political dispensations !

from:  Dr M S Seshadri
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 10:42 IST

Very lucid way of exposing the weak logic of PM wishing away the exposure on Cash for Votes scam! The concluding para would be agreed by all: The Opposition is wrong to insist that the Prime Minister must resign because of the leaked cable. But he has a moral obligation to ensure the cable's contents are investigated properly. Refusing to do so would be an act of immense political folly, especially in the light of all the scam allegations that have buffeted his government.

from:  Badri, Poondi
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 09:35 IST

Hats off to 'The Hindu' and its journalists. The speeches of FM and PM were just pathetically poor. That there are ministers and Congress minions who are motor-mouths especially in the presence of American consular officials is a great shock to the nation and its people. Worse still, even when the Wikileak messages have hit the press and are now in the public domain, none of our ministers have found it necessary in national interest to condemn the crude interference in our internal affairs by the overenthusiastic US diplomats. US is an ultimate loser as it will find that these crude interferences by US diplomats in our internal affairs have steeply increased anti-American sentiment among Indian people.

from:  S Subramanyan
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 09:01 IST

Excellent.There is no doubt that the Govt of UPA has a moral obligation to give a clarification regarding the Cash for VOTE revelations which have resurfaced after the publication of India Cables by 'THE HINDU'. Unfortunate that the Govt has lost the confidence of the people in winning the Vote of Confidence. Thank God at least a section media is there which is not the part of the corrupt system and protecting the values of Democracy...kudos to 'The Hindu' and its team and particularly its leadership who chose to swim against the current.

from:  Mahendra M Hegde
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 08:57 IST

Devils have two horns. like that we have BJP and Congress. They both tear apart the public hard work and squander their money. They don't want to solve the core issue but blindly demand resignation. BJP stayed blind when these incidents really happened and did not bother bring things into light. How good or competent they are to stand as opponents? The public who are the victims and who get the brunt of this are just spectators. Some might react for this mess but not the mass required which can bring in the changes. Large population, poor people and language barriers have favored these politicians and sheltered them to carry on with their scams and bribery. Egyptians are learning to build a robust democracy. Even though Gandhi has set an example for them to win freedom without violence. Our political system has set an example of failure.

from:  Marudha
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 08:55 IST

Since Dr.Manmohan Singh , always likes to quote the example of Caesar's wife, he should not have any hesitation in getting the matters straight and the public should be cleared of any lingering doubt. But, at the same time, the Opposition should be willing to face any any inquiry and should answer various hints made to them in other leaks messages. Every day, the leaks which we do not know whether they are doctored or appear verbatim ,contain many damaging remarks on all and sundry. Gossips between any two persons totally unconnected cannot be given much weightage. It is a little odd that a person organising a bribery attempt will discuss the matter with anyone , more so with a diplomat of another country. Further, all the persons names in the message, seem to be completely denying the matter.

from:  Lakshmi Ratnam
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 08:54 IST

The UPA govt has lost morality to be in power. If Mr Clean (MMS) is so confident than he should order an fresh enquiry and let it find out criminal offence angle. PM was denying about being unaware of corruption case against Mr Thomas and later he accepted his error. Same was the case in 2 G scam till last moment he was denying any wrongdoing by Raja and now Mr Raja is behind bars . I think keeping all these things in mind if this govt is worth of its salt than they should put up a brave face and order a fresh enquiry else people will see them as murderer of democracy.

from:  R N Jangid
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 08:54 IST

This is the state of India: an archaic corrupt feudalism which operates in the guise of democracy. Our so called leaders along with their business friends set the law. The only way forward is to vote this venal band of thugs out of power forever.

from:  R.Thunghabadra
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 07:46 IST

This article by Siddharth is one of the finest i have read in recent times. It brings out very clearly the proper course of action for the beleagured MMS govt. to take , if at all, it is interested in a healthy course correction for the better. But if my cynicism with present dispensation led by Dr.MMS after closely seeing the pattern of his behviour in responding to serious charges of impropriety is right, this will never move beyond the ceremonial denials from the accused persons and the PM. I have strong suspicion that Dr.MMS is now more concerned on sticking to his chair for another good 2+years for which the Govt. is mandated to rule. I am just amused at the responses of Mr.Mukerjee these days; he has become more of a 'comedy piece' in the UPA formation, as MJ Akbar's article stated the other day on the Cong.-DMk stnd-off.MJ very rightly stated in that article that the farcial drama enacted on that had Mr.Mukerjee in a nice 'cameo role'. I hope the Media keeps this activism and vigilance alive till the elections due in 2014 so that the people dont 'forget and forgive' the damages that the present dispensation has already brought on several instituitions in this country and lowered its image not only in the 'eyes of its own people' as you have rightly pointed out , but also in the estimate of other nations as well. Looks like Ratan Tata was right afer all, when he arrongantly remarked in his interview to Shekar Gupta about some months back, that India may be heading towards becoming a 'banana republic'.I wish Dr.Swamy or Prashant Bhusan files a PIL or something on this in the Supreme Court so that there is a possibility of an investigation into this 'murky deal ' or if there was something already established to probe this , which seems to be the case, have the Supreme Court pull up that Parliament Commitee on what they have been able to unearth so far.But looks like for an average man, these are only wishes that will add up to his unfufilled list.

from:  K.S.Ranganathan
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 07:34 IST

Never even in my wildest dream did I think of Dr. M.M. Singh will betray the trust placed on by millions of Indians. We all had great hope that he will lead the country out of morass pf poverty and backwardness. He did start with a bang by initiating liberating the country of permit license -raj. But he has lost his way and has become a prisoner in the corrupt hands of Congress. Now he is left with holding the Congress tiger by tail. Honourable option, of course, is to let the go of the tail does not matter if he is consumed by the tiger in the process. At least his act of Kamikaze will endear him millions of countryman and history will be kind to him.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 07:28 IST

Great piece. Very well said. Wonderful, cogent, sensible, article.

from:  shila verma
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 07:23 IST
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