BY ARUN AGRAWAL
“The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it”
“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play”
– Joseph Goebbels
Why is P Chidambaram the greatest opponent of the Jan Lokpal bill? Why has he become so desperate so as to attack peaceful fasting people in dead of the night? Why did he time his interview to justify the excesses of midnight swoop with that of the fast of Anna?
It is because if the Jan Lokpal comes into being Chidambaram’s political career will be over. As Finance Minister Chidambaram was responsible for generating the largest amount of black money. He was also responsible for the highest amount of corruption as the black money that was generated was through corruption. The loss to the exchequer during his tenure of would be over two lakh crores, divided equally between 2G Scam and the Iron Ore Scam.
It is for this reason that he is the greatest opponent of Jan Lokpal and will go to any extent to oppose it by means fair and foul. The civil society members of the drafting committee should demand his removal as he has a huge conflict of interest in eradication of corruption through an independent Lokpal as envisaged in the Jan Lokpal bill.
But first the charges against Chidambaram:
- Is it not true that Essar was paid Rs 1700 crores by Hutch for the purpose of getting the government clearance from FIPB (under Finance Ministry) for the Hutch-Vodafone deal by a particular date?
- Was it a coincidence that the government gave the clearance within the time stipulated by Hutch, despite Hutch violating the foreign investment ceiling norms, and forgot to collect Rs 10,000 crores of income tax before giving the clearance?
- Is it not true that Chidambaram as Finance Minister failed to ensure that the pricing of spectrum/license takes place at market related price through a cabinet decision and not be left to the corrupt ministers of the DMK? Can the polite letters written at the time absolve him of the guilt of loss of around Rs 80,000 crores (pan India spectrum price calculated at Rs 10,000 crores, the price at which they were sold) crores caused by Raja and Maran?
- How could he have allowed Maran and Raja to sell the pan India spectrum/license for Rs1600 crores in 2007 and 2008 when Vodafone bought Hutch shares for a valuation of Rs 75,000 crores in February 2007? Can he claim to be so ignorant of the law and valuation so as to allow the deal to take place? Did he protect public interest and public revenue?
- Did he not choose to look the other way knowing fully well that the black money will help DMK and the Congress win the election and bring them back to power. In fact the manner in which he won his own election, after losing it, tells its own story. The petition pending in the High Court challenging his election will probably not be decided till his tenure as a MP and Minister is over. Not surprising, he wants the judiciary out of the Lokpal ambit!
- Chidambaram’s accountability in the 2G scam would have been nailed by any independent investigator and more so by a Lokpal. He has gone scot free because of his influence over the CBI and the fact that Congress has a majority in the House. Chidambaram is as guilty as Maran and Raja. An independent Lokpal would end the political career of this so called elected representative of the people who has been threatening civil society. (He used to do it with the ultra left movement also till the author nailed his lie in a post published here at Canary Trap).
- Chidambaram was responsible for the generation of a two lakh crores of black money by the mining mafia due to illegal mining, low royalty and massive evasion of income tax. The mining royalty is to be revised every three years as per section 8 of MMDR Act. It came up for revision in October 2004. The royalty was deliberately kept low and fixed and not ad valorem. This despite soaring profits in the mining of iron ore. The royalty was deliberately kept at a token amount of Rs 15/tonne (average) when the industry was making windfall profits. He deliberately did not revise the royalty on 14/10/2007 when the rates of iron ore had doubled in three years and profit was 80 per cent. He did not revise the royalty in 2008 as long as he was finance minister.
- The sales record of the iron ore miners will show that they were grossly under invoicing the sale price and under reporting the profits. Huge amount of black money was generated and salted away. There were pay offs for not imposing export duty and when imposed the duty was negligible. Was Chidambaram ignorant of the stupendous profits being made by the mining industry? Had he not served on the Board of Vedanta and been a corporate lawyer and a tax expert? It is being alleged that the entire mining lobby was favoured financially by Chidambaram for extraneous reasons. Will Chidambaram like to have his role examined in the mining scam by an independent Lokpal?
- Chidambaram was the common factor in the leak of Justice Pathak Inquiry Committee report and Justice Liberhan report? Is he more honourable than the judges? Is he not the prime suspect as he is the common factor? Will he be willing to face an independent investigation on his role in the leak?
- We all remember how Natwar Singh was made to pay for his role in the Oil for Food Scam. But Mr Chidambaram deliberately did not refer the three contracts (M9/35, M10/17 and M11/25) of Reliance to Pathak Committee which were obtained by paying bribes. His speech in Parliament is a complete giveaway. Why did he shield Mukesh Ambani and what was the consideration for doing so? Would it bear the scrutiny of the Lokpal? What if it is alleged that Mr Chidambaram’s speech in Parliament shielding Ambani was for a bribe?
- Similarly the manner in which Anil Ambani has been shielded by CBI in the 2G scam by not naming him in the FIR for the Rs 990 crore investment made by Reliance Communication in Swan Telecom defies logic and the law. Ninety per cent of the money in Swan telecom was invested by a public limited company in which Anil Ambani is the CEO and yet it is the employees, who invested 10 per cent of the money, who are behind bars. Could Chidambaram be behind it?
- Then there are other vital issues like the killing of Azad, a naxalite and Pandey, an innocent journalist. Would Chidambaram like to be investigated for murder by an independent Lokpal?
His recent role in having fake CD certified as true, leaking the report and then not revealing the true report reminds one of Goebbels. That it concerned a former Law Minister and a Honourable member of the Bar (certainly more honourable than Chidambaram) and the co-chairman of the drafting committee does not surprise anyone. His role in the post midnight swoop on non violent protesters and the reported advisory issued to the electronic media not to cover the Anna’s fast at Rajghat also reminds one of the more famous German gentleman referred to above.
Chidambaram could barely win a disputed election held after the mother of all scams, the 2G scam. He has no right to lecture the nation on corruption and democracy.
He has much to fear from an independent Jan Lokpal. And that is why he will even do a Goebbels to oppose it.
In doing so he has already cost the Congress the next elections. Sonia Gandhi would do well to have him sacked.
Will he subject himself to the same test of fire that he subjected some of the members of the civil society to? There will never be a deal as long as he is there.
(Arun Agrawal is the author of the book Reliance: The Real Natwar. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)