BY ARUN AGRAWAL
Mr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, your press conference on this historic day, 8th of April, was a relentless attack on the entire civil society. You asked the oft repeated question that the corrupt want to ask, viz: “Who represents the civil society?”
You went on to ask whether it is two or 200 people who, when they assemble, represent civil society.
You questioned the common sense of the civil society.
You said that sloganeering does not lead to governance.
You taunted civil society with not understanding the difference between substance and procedure.
You called them obdurate and inflexible.
And you went on and on. And on.
But let me ask you something first: Whom do you represent?
I think the civil society, howsoever defined, has a right to know.
Do you represent the people of the country?
I am aware that you are a member of the Rajya Sabha but it is a paradox that while being a member of Rajya Sabha, you do not represent the people of the country.
Let me explain.
Is it not true that you voluntarily chose to bunk Parliament on 27th of August 2010, when the Rajya Sabha was in session, in order to argue a case before the Chief Justice of Karnataka?
I am an eyewitness because I was in Court that day. The Chief Justice of Karnataka is also a witness. He also agreed to hear your case on Saturday, a holiday.
And what was the fee? Reportedly rupees one crore. One does not know what component of that one crore was in cheque and how much was in cash, but let me not dwell on rumours.
Let me stick to facts.
How much would you have got by attending Parliament? An additional allowance of Rs 1000?
Do you consider it an act of honesty?
To refuse to represent the people because you would only get Rs 1000/- and not the reported figure of one crore (or whatever amount, do correct me) that you earned?
More important whom were you representing and who was paying you the reported obscene fees?
None other than Vedanta group which owns Sesa Goa.
The dominant shareholder of the company is one Mr Anil Agarwal, who is the very symbol of crony capitalism, having cornered the mineral wealth of the country worth lakhs of crores belonging to the people of the country.
That Mr Chidambaram was on his Board may be some consolation to you..
The iron ore mines of Sesa Goa are worth Rs 1.75 lakh crores. Hindustan Zinc, acquired for Rs 400 crores, has a profit of 5000 crores per annum and the bauxite mines of BALCO are worth lakhs of crores.
I accuse people like you for being responsible for this crony capitalism as being ever eager to betray the people and change sides for a crore or two — or whatever obscene amount you charge.
Is that your price as a so called representative of the people?
Yes Mr Singhvi, you chose — and choose — to represent the foremost crony capitalist of the country and not the people of the country.
You cannot win a single election — which is why you are in Rajya Sabha and not the Lok Sabha — where people of India vote directly, but have lost lakhs of votes with your diatribe against civil society.
People of the country pay you good money as monthly salary, allowances and life long pension. But your greed for money seems to be insatiable. Even a non- literate person having common sense will understand that a person drawing salary cannot undertake alternate employment while being on official duty.
As for your question as to who and how many people or factions represent civil society, let me remind you that it is the same question that the British asked of one Mahatma Gandhi. It was answered then and it is being answered now.
In spite of your bifocals why are you so wilfully blind —or stupid? — so as to not see the overwhelming support enjoyed by this national anti-corruption movement for which you and your party are responsible?
Please do not try and divide the civil society. You may be able to speak English but please do not behave like the British!
There are many who, even though they do not speak English, know what Divide and Rule is.
Your leader Sonia Gandhi understands the power of civil society because she has to fight an election. It is for this reason that she has directed you all to put up and shut up.
As for democracy, Parliament and procedure: Do you want to have a referendum on corruption and the Jan Lokpal bill? For the record, a complaint has been filed against you with the Chairman of the Ethics Committee for violation of various clauses of code of conduct, in particular clause 4 which states:
- (iv) Members should always see that their private financial interests and those of the members of their immediate family do not come in conflict with the public interest and if any such conflict ever arises, they should try to resolve such a conflict in a manner that the public interest is not jeopardised.
Did you violate this provision on 27/8/2010?
You need not be a member of the House to answer the question. Ask any member of the civil society and he will tell you.
Mr Singhvi you would do well to stop abusing the civil society. If you do not, it will teach you the lesson of your life.
Like Mr Sibal learnt the other night.
(Arun Agrawal is the author of the book Reliance: The Real Natwar)