Editorial

If there's nothing to hide...

Magnanimous though it may seem to Congress partisans, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's offer to appear before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament to answer questions relating to the allocation of 2G spectrum the question of why his government is so keen to avoid the setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee. Dr. Singh said that, like Caesar's wife, the Prime Minister should be above suspicion and hence his willingness to be questioned by a committee whose chairman is the formidable Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart, Murli Manohar Joshi. Sticking with Roman references, however, many will say that having crossed the inquisitorial Rubicon, the Prime Minister ought to have no reservations about appearing before a JPC either. This newspaper has argued before that the scale and dimensions of the spectrum scam give rise to questions that are well beyond the remit of a PAC whose job, normally, is confined to examining audit reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General, and that a comprehensive enquiry by a JPC was a political imperative. There has been some talk in government circles of expanding the mandate of the PAC in the 2G spectrum matter but the onus really is on the Prime Minister and his advisers to sit down with the Opposition to ensure an agreement that will allow the spectrum scam to be probed and the Budget session of Parliament to take place unhindered.

Apart from spectrum, the themes of corruption and communalism figured prominently in the 83rd plenary session of the Congress that concluded in Burari near the Capital on Monday. Party president Sonia Gandhi spoke of a five-point agenda to root out corruption. Missing from these five points, however, was an undertaking to push out of Cabinet any Minister against whom a court made an adverse finding. Today, Union Heavy Industries minister Vilasarao Deshmukh continues in government despite the Supreme Court fining Maharashtra Rs. 10 lakh in a case in which he, as Chief Minister, had abused his authority by getting the police to go easy on a moneylender. Similarly, Union Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh is functioning undisturbed despite a Himachal court charge-sheeting him in a corruption case. And then there are other Ministers against whom no direct evidence of wrongdoing has surfaced yet but under whose watch money is undoubtedly being made. “The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power,” Shakespeare tells us in Julius Caesar. What we see in government today is no remorse or introspection despite the steady accumulation of evidence of corruption on a staggering scale.


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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 3:09:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/If-theres-nothing-to-hide.../article15601964.ece

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