Legalised plunder? Under whom?

Legalised plunder? Under whom?

It was nice to hear former Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, leading a merciless attack on the Prime Minister, Dr Narendra Modi, the other day in the Rajya Sabha, on behalf of the Congress on the controversial demonetisation issue rocking the nation.

It was nice to hear former Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, leading a merciless attack on the Prime Minister, Dr Narendra Modi, the other day in the Rajya Sabha, on behalf of the Congress on the controversial demonetisation issue rocking the nation.

The opposition has seen a window of opportunity in the issue to trouble the government and has deftly come together burying all their differences to demand various solutions ranging from a rollback to Modi's resignation.

They are planning several things other than blocking the Parliamentary proceedings like activating various unions controlled by each of the players pitting against the government to launch protests across the countries.

Trade unions of various denominations, transport unions, bank unions, wholesale market managers, rickshaw, auto and taxi unions to, may be at some point of time, even the railway unions, in addition to those of the Central sector unions.

Every party says - except of course, Mamata and Arvind Kejriwal – that they are not against the fight against black money (unaccounted money), but refuse to join hands with the government in the same. This is acceptable as this is the Opposition, concerned as they are "worried about the commonman and concerned about his travails."

But, when it comes to Dr Manmohan Singh, it sounds a bit jarring to hear his sermon. He said "it is an organised loot and legalised plunder". Dr Singh is an honorable man. He has quite a reputation and was treated a 'Guru" by many world leaders during his regime who often sought his advise on issues of state craft.

Dr Singh would certainly have been heard more raptly and attentively and his suggestions well-taken had he been as zestful in tackling corruption during his stint at the helm of the nation.

As yet, we do not know whether the demonetisation is a scam, but the two things he said about it now - organized loot and legalised plunder" – were probably more appropriate to describe the state of affairs of his regime.

India has so far not witnessed such an organised crime and sanctioned plunder that we saw under his regime with the blessings of the Congress leaders' and Ministers under the benign dispensation of Sonia Gandhi.

The coal scam that surfaced in 2012 was one such. The CAG report on the irregularities in auctioning 194 coal blocks created a massive uproar in political circles with the government being heavily criticised for causing a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer.

The government's decision not to auction 194 coal blocks between 2004 and 2011 meant that the country lost a huge amount in revenue. The figure was initially believed to be more than Rs 10 lakh crore, but the CAG chose to keep PSUs out of its final report, bringing the figure down to Rs 1.86 lakh crore.

Then there was the 2G scam in 2008 when the country issued 122 new telecom licences to several domestic companies that had little or no experience in the telecom sector, and at a price set in 2001. An estimate stated that the spectrum scam led to a loss of Rs 1. 76 lakh crore to the government.

The third one came into being when a former Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi was allegedly paid bribes to swing a Rs 3, 600 crore deal for procuring 12 choppers from Italian firm Finmeccanica to ferry VVIPS.

The fourth one surfaced when the Enforcement Directorate registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in April, 2013 against Vectra Chairman Ravi Rishi and few other firms after former Army Chief Gen V K Singh had alleged that he was offered a Rs 14 crore bribe in September, 2010 to clear the purchase of a tranche of 1,676 Tatra trucks for the Army.

Former Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi and nine others were charged for allegedly cheating, conspiring and causing a loss of over Rs 90 crore to the exchequer in CWG-related corruption case.

On July 22, 2008, three BJP members - Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora - had flashed Rs1 crore cash in Lok Sabha alleging that the money had been given to them by floor managers of the UPA government to secure their support during the no-confidence motion after Left parties withdrew their support over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Amar Singh, the Rajya Sabha MP, was at the heart of the cash-for-votes exchange. His home was the place from where the money was allegedly disbursed to willing MPs.

The Adarsh controversy had erupted with reports which alleged that the land belonging to the defence had been given away by the state for the society where bureaucrats got themselves flats.

It was seen that even politicians and army personnel connived to grab apartments in this plush 31-storey Colaba building overlooking the defence area.

Though some others fall under individual cases such as that of B Ramalinga Raju, the prime accused in multi-crore Satyam Computers accounting scam case confessed that he had manipulated the accounts by $1.47-billion, these certainly are an example of systemic failure that affected the country.

This is why, let me say, one should take Dr Singh's speech with a pinch of salt. The instability of his position was so manifest that a gentleman like him could do little. His intellect and lifelong labours were ignored with positive contempt during his day and he played into his master's hands silently.

Who is a Triton among the Minnows? Who is forcing the wolf and the lamb to drink at the same fountain? How many of these speaking today on behalf of the common man have not been found guilty in one case of the other?

Is there someone handling them without gloves and with an impartial eye? Today if the government says that it could never discriminate against a man because he moved in such and such high circle or because he embraced a religion that comes to him with his mother's milk, should we say no.

What Modi is saying is that his aviary treats all birds caught in the net, whether it be the biggest eagle or the tiniest sparrow, with even treatment. The common man is ready to give him a chance.

Politicians like Nitish Kumar and Navin Patnaik have maintained a dignified distance from the clamour seeking groups. Modi will certainly face the music if he fails to sort out the problems in the implementation of the demonetisation programme as we are basically a cash-society and we are also largely status quoists.

For a change, the voter seems to be amenable to experimentation, for the time being. He is sailing with Modi in the strenuous, long enduring fight against lawlessness and ruffians might. Will the Opposition be able to lure him to its side?

Nature has given to man one tongue but two ears that he may hear from others twice as much as he speaks. Modi must keep abreast of all transgressions passing around him and he should see in the dark a light that is not there and take a tip from nature that man's ears are not made to shut but his mouth is.

Dr Singh allowed the most intricate web that fraud, conspiracy or corruption ever could weave around him and all his genius could not unravel the same. Will Modi be able to come trumps in his efforts? Success, they say, comes in cans and failures in cant's!

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