National

Congress hopes to change the narrative on corruption

Plans protest outside Parliament

Former UPA Minister Manish Tewari said on Thursday that the Gujarat poll results would have been different had the 2G verdict come out earlier.

On the defensive over allegations of corruption and crony capitalism since 2010 when the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report claimed that the UPA’s telecom policy had resulted in a loss of ₹1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer, the Congress now wants to use the verdict politically.

A section of the party is keen that the issue is debated in the current session of Parliament, especially in the Rajya Sabha, where the party not only has more MPs than the BJP but also sharp legal minds like P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal among others.

“The biggest beneficiary [of the alleged 2G scam] is Mr. Narendra Modi as he became the Prime Minister and lots of people believed the allegations,” said Anand Sharma, Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha.

On Friday, the Delhi unit of the Congress, led by Ajay Maken, plans a protest outside Parliament, demanding an apology from BJP leaders who disrupted Parliament as Opposition leaders. But the real aim is to change the political narrative on corruption and remove the corrupt tag that the Congress-led UPA acquired because of the alleged 2G scam.

In November 2010, the winter session of Parliament was washed out as the BJP had stalled proceedings demanding a joint parliamentary probe into the 2G scam after details of the CAG report came out.

Now, the Congress is accusing the former CAG Vinod Rai of deliberately authoring a report that helped the BJP.

“Mr. Vinod Rai, the former CAG must apologise to the nation for throwing presumptive sensational corrosive numbers into public discourse.

“He was author of the imbecile 1,76,000 crore loss theory that I had destroyed during my cross-examination of Rai in the JPC. The court has affirmed the JPC report,” said Mr. Tewari.

‘Monitored by SC’

The crux of the Congress argument is that the CBI investigations were monitored by the Supreme Court every month and even the special prosecutor who argued the case was appointed by the top court.

The party countered Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s contention that the Supreme Court had called the policy “corrupt and dishonest” while quashing the 2G allocations.

“The cancellation of allocation is not [implying] a crime in itself. It’s the procedure that was challenged. Sometimes courts can strike down procedures. Whether the court judgment is reviewed at a different point of time is a different question,” said Vivek Tankha, senior lawyer and Congress lawmaker in the Rajya Sabha who claimed that the Supreme Court had later diluted its own order.

The party wants to aggressively use the 2G verdict in the next round of crucial elections in States like Karnataka and link the CAG report to the economic slowdown.

“This won them an election, but hurt India’s competitiveness & saddled banks with ₹4 lakh crore of debt resulting from licence cancellations & auctions,” tweeted Milind Deora, who was the junior Telecom Minister in the UPA.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 7:13:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-hopes-to-change-the-narrative-on-corruption/article22216586.ece

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