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'A Leadership Deficit'

The leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister in his reply to the debate on the President's address in the budget session.

'A Leadership Deficit'
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

Excerpts from the leader of the opposition's speech in Rajya Sabha

I must confess that I am deeply disappointed with the Address prepared by this Government and delivered by the Rashtrapatiji. I have serious doubts about the propriety as also the integrity of this Government. We are today seeing governance almost at its worst. It is leading to a very high level of cynical public opinion in India.

You have a government which cannot control prices. Today, in the Question Hour, the hon. Finance Minister has admitted that there are problems over the last two years. You have a government which is ineffective at decision-making. And you have a government which is failing to provide honest governance as far as this country is concerned. The Home Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram, had led an Indian delegation to Davos. In his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he said, “There is a governance deficit as far as India is concerned.” But this deficit that he spoke about was an incomplete statement. There is today a trust deficit between those who govern and the rest of the country. I would not be exaggerating if I say that there seems to be a trust deficit between the party in power and the government in power. There is today an integrity deficit. There is a leadership deficit. And if I deal with some of the individual Ministries of this Government, there is a serious competence deficit. When we look at the last one year and the tenure of this Government, and these are all areas which the President’s speech has reflected on, each one of us is today wondering that this country deserves much better than what we are getting in terms of governance.

When I say that there is a leadership deficit, I recollected the Prime Minister last week had an interaction with the television journalists of Delhi. One young journalist present in the midst of all those veterans towards the end of that interaction asked a very pertinent question and I thought that was the most important question in the whole media interaction. He asked, “Why have you called this Press Conference? And why have you called us?” This was actually the entire subject matter of discussion as to why this had happened. Some felt it was the Prime Minister trying to distance himself from his own Government, a Prime Minister who was trying to distance himself from the rot that has set into the system and then say, “At least, I have done nothing wrong or I am not as much culpable as some people may think I am.” That was the sum and substance of the answer if we read between the lines to this very question as to why the media people had been called.

If I translate the relevant replies into simple language, shorn of all diplomacy, yes, there was pointed reference to a former colleague who is no longer a part of this Government. He said, “Well, I had no role in appointing the colleague. There are compulsions of coalition politics why he got appointed. I had no role in allocating the portfolio. We consult the leader of the party which is an alliance partner. I had no role in formulating the policy. It is the Telecom Minister and the Finance Ministry which formulates the policy. I had no role in implementing the policy. I trusted what the others were doing.”

This was unprecedented. The relevant question was: Why was the head of the Government silent for three years when this was happening right under his nose? All you have to do is to distance yourself from the appointment of the gentleman as the Minister. You distance yourself from the policy formulation. You distance yourself from the implementation of that policy and all the unfortunate things that took place along with it and then ultimately say that he was not such a big culprit. This was a complete abandonment of not only the principle of collective leadership, it was also an abandonment of collective responsibility, it was an abandonment of leadership itself where the Prime Minister as the first amongst equals in the Government tries to distance himself from the rot that has set in the Government itself.

Each one of us present in this House on two issues has always had a great personal respect for the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Even his critics and some of us as his critics, at least, always concede two USPs in his favour. He is personally an honest man. He is a very distinguished economist and these are two aspects for which he rightly earns the credit. But, then the country is left bewildered. What use is that personal honesty and that personal trait if you lead one of the most dishonest Governments in the history? What use is your experience as a distinguished economist if you are unable to really save the common man from the entire gambit of inflation that has set in, in the last three years? Food inflation is sky-rocketing, inflation is sky-rocketing and all we have is just some subtle statements from the Government that by another six months or another five years, the inflation figures will moderate themselves. This hasn’t happened in the last three years.

Let’s look at what is happening to the economy. My friend, Mrs. Natarajan, just now said that this is a golden Indian story which is being told. Yes, in the last one decade or so, and this process started with 1991. We gradually moved and it looked like a great India story which Mrs. Natarajan just referred to. Please pause and think where we stand today. Have we reached the culmination of what we would have naturally achieved in that process? Your inflation figures for the last three years – I am talking of the Wholesale Price Index – hovers around the double figures. At times, it marginally comes down. The Consumer Price Index is even higher. Your food price index is as high as 17 to 18 per cent at times.

And this almost becomes a conspiracy against the aam admi. Post-liberalization India, Sir, has success stories. When we look at success stories, she was right when she said, “Look at it from a bipartisan point of view.” Telecom was a success story. Highways was a success story. These are all areas of great public-private partnership. But look at how, partly, UPA-I and, substantially, UPA-II brought discredit to these great success stories. Telecom was a great success story of the post-liberalization era. Ultimately, we find that we have outsourced it in those hands and in the selection of personnel, as a part of your Council of Ministers, you went in for selecting people where integrity quotient was lacking. Highways was another success story. You, again, went in for selecting people and you had to change them frequently; you suffered from the same problem. So, it is great to speak in terms of the Golden Story of India. You have an inflation which affects the common man; he is denied of his right to food. You can’t control it, and you are speaking of this ‘Great India’ story!

You have these two biggest success stories of the post-liberalization era, and you put these in such hands that these are the two sectors which have precisely got discredited the most, notwithstanding their success. What do you find now? Year after year, irrespective of whichever government was in power, whether it was the United Front Government or the NDA Government or the UPA Government, we told the rest of the world that this is the ‘Great India’ story; come and invest in India. We realise the virtues of attracting investment. We want direct investment here; we want international investment here. Sir, I concede -- and you know this subject better than any one of us -- it has its own virtues. Investment, if we make India into an attractive destination, has its own advantages. It will generate economic activity; this economic activity will lead to job creation, and if it leads to reasonable profitability, so much the better for India; people will be attracted to invest more; it will lead to more revenue in the pockets of the Government, and more revenue in the pockets of the Government means for social sector spending, you will have more money; for infrastructure creation, you will have more money, and all this will, then, attract further greater investment, and circle will go on. But if India ceases to be an attractive destination, in that event, your ability to attract the world apart, even your own corporates will say, “Is it better and more profitable for us to go and invest outside India?” Please seriously introspect, I beseech and urge the Prime Minister. Initially, all of us felt proud that our corporates are flexing their muscles; they have become very big; they are going and taking over corporations outside. Listen to the correct story of Davos this year. It was not our corporates going and inviting partners into India. It was looking for partners so that they could also move part of their investments outside India. You ask each major group, in India, today, whether it is safer to have part of their balance sheet assets outside the country now, and legitimately outside – I am not talking in terms of black money or Swiss accounts. And why is that happening? Sir, that is happening because in UPA-I, you said, it is the Left which hinders you; in UPA-II, you said, it is the BJP which does not support you on economic reforms. There is no effort at all to move a positive agenda forward.

The people are still complaining. When I referred to telecom and highways, you can add ports to it. For expanding our international trade you need wide quality ports. I am aware that you recently inaugurated the Vallarpadam Port in Kerala. But our capacity has to be far bigger than that. The kind of expenditure which has to go in and the kind of decisionmaking process which has to go in, we do not paralyse these infrastructure projects; we do not slow and stop their pace; and that is exactly what seems to be happening today. Our infrastructure creation is not at the pace at which it ought to be.

Our inflation is disproportionately high. We all welcome social sector spending. The economic activity at a very high growth rate has to generate resources in the pocket of the Government so that the poor can benefit from it. But today morning I found that my friend, Mr. Rajeev Shukla, asking a pertinent question: Is part of that spending leading to asset creation? Or, is it just converting itself into a political expenditure where you don’t combine the skill of social sector spending with nation building? Our corruption index is very high. This is not a partisan issue. Corruption adds to the costs; corruption acts as a disincentive to investment.

Then, all of us, I think, would be of one view in protecting our environment. But while maintaining the legitimate balance between ecology and economy, for months together we had a regime with the Prime Minister himself was constrained to discipline his Minister saying “Don’t convert it into a licence exercise”. Every time we find that when the inflation is high, we keep hiking our interest rates as the only possible solution. We hike them now to such an extent that doing business in India will eventually become non-competitive if we don’t moderate them at some stage. Then, Sir, if Mrs. Natarajan says that we must look at the economy and nation building as a non-partisan exercise, is your Government willing to do that? I can give you examples of State after State, not necessarily BJP-ruled States, where the Opposition is in power. How many projects in Orissa has this Government scuttled? If UP were ever an independent nation, it would have been the sixth largest nation in the world. You have airports being built everywhere, but UP does not deserve them. It does not deserve an international airport because the Congress has no hope of coming to power there. You had the biggest investment exercise in India in vibrant Gujarat. The total amount of the MoUs is Rs.20.53 lakh crores. Even half of them are implemented, it will be a great step forward. Ninety countries of the world were represented. The only Government not represented was your Government. The only Government not represented in vibrant Gujarat was the Government of India. No Minister, no Secretary, not even a Joint Secretary, not a single PSU was there. Your attitude was, “We will not participate in any developmental activity because we have a political problem with the State”.

If this is the state how you manage the economy, then you will naturally have a situation where the sole golden story of Mrs. Natarajan has led to a 35 per cent depletion in the FDI. If people don't invest dollars, then others wouldn't invest rupees also. Therefore, please understand that investors always have an option. If you want to implement the programmes of this Government, if you want to generate economic activity, then you have to create an environment for it. The environment can't be partisan; the environment can't be where you lack the courage to take decisions and where everything is seen from the narrow constraints of politics and nothing else. Sir, I referred to corruption as something which adds to the cost and is a great disincentive to investment; but, more important than that people will start losing confidence. Initially, we thought it was a very small section of society which resorted to electronic communication through the Internet or the Facebook or the Twitter. I was a part of the All-Party Delegation, so was Shri Yechury and other friends to Jammu and Kashmir. When we interacted with some of those youngsters -- I saw even in the Kashmir Valley -- I asked, "How do you collate and interact with each other?" Each one of those youngsters, I found them to be very intelligent and bright, were resorting to it. In Egypt, in the last few weeks, these became some of the most important instruments of opinion-making. The information from Libya slowly comes outside in the last few days. But these are all instruments which people are using. If you really want to interact with the youngsters in this country as to what they feel about all these acts of corruption, these are the mediums through which one must go and know what the public opinion is.

Let us look at the telecom story. Today the hon. Prime Minister made a statement. We make no secret of the fact that it disappointed us. In fact, when I was listening to the statement, I said to myself I would have been more relieved if I realized that the Prime Minister was reading the wrong statement. In the telecom sector, for some reason, the telecom portfolio is reserved only for one political party. Is this the kind of cost that the country has to pay? Within that one political party, and within the ruling family from that political party, it is meant for one section. Then policy formulation goes accordingly. Then corporates, middle persons, lobbyists, all plan their strategies accordingly. Then you find a situation when the crucial policy is being formulated. In the first instance, you find that the TRAI said, "You can't allot spectrum at the 2001 rates; the market mechanism must be used to determine the prices now". This is not done. The date is advanced. After that you change the goalpost after the match has already begun. Then you give it to some people on a first-come-first-serve policy at a fraction of the market cost. Let us see how this policy is framed. Was this Government alerted what was happening?

The question is: Who was doing all these acts? Was the Government unaware of what was happening? When this was happening, -- I am not referring to what the rival corporates were saying; we can even ignore what the media was saying -- on 25th October, 2007, two officials of the Ministry walked out saying, “This has to be done by an auction, and not by any other method.” Contemporaneously, it was being said. It is not that the Government was in the dark. On the 2nd of November, there were three letters exchanged. You have the first letter from Mr. Raja to the Prime Minister saying, “I advance the date... On the 2nd of November, the Telecom Minister writes to the Prime Minister, “I have advanced the date; I am informing you.” The Prime Minister cautions him on the 2nd of November. He again responds the same day, which indicates that he is not listening to the caution. So much so, it was for the Telecom Ministry and the Finance Ministry to decide. The Finance Secretary, on the 22nd of November, 2007 says -- and the present RBI Governor, Mr. Subbarao, was the Finance Secretary -- “This can’t be sold at 2001 price. This has to be sold at today’s price”. So, it is in November, 2007 when the Finance Ministry is saying so. And not only this, so much for the Finance Ministry having fixed it on the 15th January, 2008 while this was contemporaneously happening, the Opposition leader, Mr. Yechury, wrote a letter. Thereafter, we came into the picture much later. The media came into the picture much later. The Finance Minister, Mr. Chidambaram, sends a note to the Prime Minister. So much for the Finance Ministry having agreed! He says, “Spectrum is a scarce resource. The price of spectrum should be based on its scarcity value and efficiency of usage. The most transparent method of allocating spectrum would be through an auction – signed Mr. Chidambaram, 15.01.2008. And today, we are being told, “Well, I trusted that the Finance Ministry and the Telecom Ministry would have together fixed it up”. You now have a Government which very grudgingly, very reluctantly, in a statement today is saying, “All right. You disturbed the House. Therefore, under coercion we are appointing the JPC.” What is the objection? Today, the Parliament in India is being told that the CBI can look into it, the judges can look into it, but on a matter where there is a serious doubt as to how this gentleman was appointed a minister, how the policy was framed, how the policy was implemented, what is the role of the corporates, the lobbyists and the middlemen, when all these questions are being raised, we are told, Parliament should not discuss this.

We are being told that Parliament should not discuss it; let us leave it to the Judges; let us leave it to CBI officers. (Interruptions) SHRI TIRUCHI SIVA: Only you were not prepared to discuss it. We were ready to discuss it on the floor of the House. (Interruptions) SHRI ARUN JAITLEY: You have objection even to my raising it here on the ground, saying that let this be the domain of judges and not of Indian Parliament. India is to be governed by the Government. The Judges only come in in terms of judicial review or when Government does not do its job. The Government is accountable to the Parliament.

And what are we being told? Not only is the JPC being grudgingly appointed, but the first thing that the new Minister says is that it is a zero loss.

Look at the level at which a matter which has shaken the conscience of the entire nation; it just dismisses itself as a zero loss situation. Then, when asked to comment whether you agree with this, a comparison is drawn and said that it is almost at par with giving of subsidies to people, that also involves a loss!

About subsidies it is said; that is why it is said that it should be merit-based subsidy and that these are all unquantified amounts; at times it reaches unidentified sections of the people; some of them even non-deserving but some are certainly deserving because the deserving have to be the weaker sections of society for whom the State collects taxes and then subsidises them because otherwise they cannot afford it. And, here we are being told that all the domestic and international majors in the telecom needed to be subsidised in terms of spectrum allocation! That is the illustration and comparison which is given.

If it troubles you, let us come to the next issue. You had a global event in terms of the Commonwealth Games. Never have I witnessed, probably there would be no precedence. There is an environment of festivity when such events are held like Olympics, Asian Games, or Commonwealth Games. Never have the games been held under a shadow of so much pessimism and cynicism. The kind of people in whose hands the games were entrusted created an entirely negative environment around the organization of the games. The day the games are over, at times even before the games were over, skeletons started tumbling out of the cupboards. Today, so far as only the organizing committee is concerned, the cost of stadiums, the cost of infrastructure, the last minute contracts are the questions which are going to confront us as to how we organize these international events and then make the revenue pay for it which otherwise could have been utilised for much better things. I am dealing with only the extra amounts spent as far as these infrastructure are concerned. Today, Sir, even four months after the games are over, we are still at odds as to what do we do with these infrastructure which are created. Nobody really thought in terms of the fact that you have created the infrastructure facilities, you have a dozen beautiful stadiums as far as Delhi is concerned, what do we do with these infrastructure facilities? There is a complete absence of ideas as far as this issue is concerned. Much has been said about others and I will ignore them for a moment. But, then, there are several areas of corruption. I refer to the highways. For the last one year, the CBI has been investigating into those matters. It took them months. They wanted to interrogate the key officer. The CBI is not even allowed to interrogate that officer for months together, because the moment these people are interrogated, you reach its logical conclusion; then again embarrassing facts would come out.

I read the complete statement which the Prime Minister made at his media interaction on the S-band issue. The statement which he made entirely dealt with what happened after 2010, particularly after 2nd July, 2010, when a proposal was made to annul the contract, the preparation of the Cabinet Note, the fact whether there was or no discussion with the Prime Minister’s office. The issue is not how the contract was cancelled. The correct issue, Mr. Prime Minister, is how this contract was awarded in the first instance. How was it awarded with a fact which is not known? Our space organization has been one of the most respectable organizations in this country. Even when our satellites have failed, nobody whether in the Government or in the Opposition has made a partisan issue out of those. These things do happen. We stand behind our scientific community and that is how we treat all those in this research as some people who are contributing for a larger national good.

There are matters of serious concern, and they can’t be just explained away as to what the Prime Minister’s Office did in 2010 or did not do. The real issue is, what was happening when this entire contract was awarded. This is a Department which is directly under the Prime Minister’s Office; it is under his jurisdiction. You have a spectrum of a very high quality. In terms of its capacity, the 2G is rated as 800 to 900 Mhz, 3G is in the vicinity of 1800 Mhz, and this is 2500 Mhz. The quantum involved was far large. The start up spectrum given to the telecom companies in 2G was only 4.4 Mhz; in 3G, I understand, only 15 Mhz is being auctioned, and you got Rs.67,000 crores. Here it was 70 Mhz of the highest quality of spectrum, 2500 Mhz quality. And, 90 per cent of this satellite capacity, transponders and spectrum equivalent is to be used by a private party. Who is this private party? Forge Advisor is an American Corporation. Devas Multimedia is the Indian entity it has set up. And all we are told is, there was nobody else interested in this deal.

Did we advertise the deal? Did we have larger consultations? Overnight, an American Company forms an Indian front or an Indian subsidiary, and in 2005, you enter into with them, what appears to be the mother of all sweetheart deals. We are talking in terms of Rs.1.76 lakh crores; 3G auction for Rs.67,000 crores, and this is given for 300 million dollars, Rs.1,350 crores, some other cost! So, the first part is the satellite building. The second part is, the company will make its own infrastructure, and now the spectrum is to be allocated for 90 % of this 70 Mhz capacity, which is 63. Now, we are told that well, for this kind of users, these are the prices. Who determines it? Is there any market mechanism or is it merely a cabal which has been formed, where some former scientists were also involved, and an asset belonging to the public is privately transferred to an Indian front of an American company? I would urge the Prime Minister not to close the issue with merely saying that we have decided to annul the deal. When you cause wrongful loss to the Government of India, when you cause wrongful gain to a private party, the offence is committed. Merely, if 2G licenses are today cancelled, the criminality won’t be wiped out. Since this is an issue which involves a Department which the Prime Minister personally is answerable for, who was responsible behind this transaction? The Cabinet has approved this Agreement in December, 2005. There are senior officers, including the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Principal Secretary, the Cabinet Secretary, the National Security Adviser; they all sat in those meetings. How was this allowed to just get away? Somebody has to seriously answer this, and merely saying, we have now quietly cancelled it will not wipeout the real answer to how our public assets being given by such private negotiations. It is possible that you don’t give everything by auction. But, then, these things have to come out in public domain, and adequate answers have to be given. Sir, the lack of a pro-active Government in detecting black money and assets held by Indians abroad has been a disturbing issue. For once, there is a plea of secrecy behind the whole transactions, and now we are told that there is secrecy in relation to names and identities also.

Well, if monies may result out of tax evasion, these may also be crime monies. If these are crime monies, the fundamental principle is that no person can hold what is the profit of crime. Therefore, the people who hold these monies outside, there will be cases in which they have to be brought to book, they have to be prosecuted. Now, if you keep their names a 'secret', I do not know how the Indian legal system is going to allow a veil of secrecy on all these people who are otherwise guilty of such heinous offences. What I see in President Address in paragraph 16 is, "The Government is taking active steps to get monies back." I saw a very curious sentence, "These steps have led to additional collection of taxes of Rs.34,601 crore, detection of additional income of Rs.48,784 crores. My Government will spare no effort in bringing back to India what belongs to it and bring the guilty to book." So, on a first reading I thought that some Rs.48784 crore lying outside as illegal money has been brought back into this country only to realize that this has nothing to do with monies lying in Swiss accounts or black monies stored outside, these are monies where some assessments have been made, where shares of company 'A' are transferred to company 'B' outside as in the Vodafone-Hutch deal, the tax impact of which takes place in India and therefore, the Indian assessing authorities say, "We have a right to tax you on that." So, when you recover monies from those transactions, in the President's Address you pass it off as monies being brought back to India and guilty being brought to book. It is that amount which is passed off as if some great discovery has been made out of the Swiss Bank accounts and 48,784 crores of rupees have been brought back into India.

The issue of Jammu & Kashmir has been a matter of very serious concern. It is a serious issue which impinges on India's sovereignty. We have recently had a statement even from the Chief Minister of the State where he questioned the fact whether merger into the Union of India had taken place or not. "It was an accession. We have ceded to India but this was not a merger." Sir, if you look at the last 64 years of history the entire effort has been to weaken the political and constitutional relationship between the State and the rest of the country. We think it was a mistake thought in terms of a separate status as a possible solution. Please introspect honestly the journey of that separate status. Is it towards a fuller integration or is it towards separatism? Let us for a moment ignore it. You have mainstream parties there which now speak in terms, some say, 'give us pre-1953 status' where the Supreme Court of India and the Election Commission of India have also no jurisdiction over that State. You have another mainstream party which says, 'self-rule', 'dual currencies'. Now, introspect each of these steps. The effort is to weaken this relationship and keep it on to such a point that the problem remains. Then, of course, there are forces which want Azadi. I doubt if anyone of them really has considered whether such a concept is at all possible or even sustainable. This is a very serious issue. The Government must look at the larger picture rather than temporary solutions. What the Government did was that on the first visit of the hon. Prime Minister to the Valley or on one of the earlier visits to the Valley, he announced the Working Groups. Let me tell you that some of the crucial ones did not achieve any purpose, particularly the one which wanted to deal with the Constitutional relationship between the State and the country. You constituted another Working Group to look into the economy of the State headed by Dr. Ranagarajan. On your next visit to the State you again appointed a Committee headed by Dr. Rangarajan to look into 'how to create jobs'.

The first Committee in which Dr. Rangarajan has given a Report and the second Committee which was constituted almost overlapped. That won’t really resolve the issue. If jobs can be created and people can be helped, it will be always welcome. You have now appointed the interlocutors. For two years, Mr. Chidambaram as a Home Minister told us that, ‘I am having some silent dialogue’. Then he realized that it was a nondialogue and today you appointed three interlocutors. I wish them all the best. I also had an opportunity to meet them and very candidly expressed our view points to each other. But please lay down the parameters under which we have to move further and our suggestion to the Government would be, if there are any steps which help the people of the State, give them a certain comfort level, resolve their day-to-day problems and inconveniences. Please go ahead and do them. If there are any steps which remove the inter-regional imbalances in the State, please go ahead and take pro-active steps to remove. But, please don’t take any step which goes in the direction of weakening this political and Constitutional relationship. We have already suffered because of this thought and therefore, if there is any step taken in this direction, it will be disastrous as far as this country is concerned.

So, the challenge of the Maoist problem remains. We now have an unfortunate ordeal in Orissa where some civil servants have been captured by the Maoists and the State is virtually being blackmailed into conceding to their demands. Sir, ideally this was one issue on which most of us should have been speaking in the same voice. We were initially very impressed when Mr. Chidambaram became the Home Minister. He donned the mantle of a General in this battle against the Maoists. In fact, day-after-day he used to make comments against Chief Ministers in the States that ‘I as a Centre want to do all this but your States are not pro-active enough’. Then, came a little bit of a snub from within his own party. The Opposition was willing to stand by in his approach. A snub came from within his own party and his own allies and suddenly you have the General abandoning the battle field. The position he now adopts is and the Home Ministry adopts is: “law and order is a State subject. It is for the States to fight these people. If they want support from us, we will give them support in terms of security forces and other forces”. Please, honestly let the Home Ministry and the Government introspect that this is one battle where India needs to be together because this is a battle we cannot afford to lose and therefore, this problem has to be resolved. We have to speak in one voice and, therefore, we need a pro-active Central Government as far as this issue is concerned. Yesterday, some of your own party Members disrupted the speech of the President. I think, this is a historic first that the Congress Party achieved after accusing us day-in-and-day-out of disturbing Houses of Parliament, they achieved a unique distinction of disturbing a Joint Session of Parliament when the hon. President was speaking. The Telangana Report is with the Government. You have circulated it. Please don’t delay a decision on it. There are legitimate aspirations of the people of that area for the creation of a separate State and my Party strongly supports that demand and we would urge the Government to immediately complete the consultation process and move in that direction.

There is one area which has been of deep concern to us as to what is the state of the various institutions which are required to function independently in a democracy. We have maintained that this Government has been misusing the CBI. And, I am not only referring to the cases of Gujarat. You can see cases across the country where this is happening. I just now referred to the investigation for the last one year into the highway cases which have been put in limbo and it has been consciously put in limbo. You have cases relating to leaders of two parties and in those cases you find of and on the Affidavit and the approach of the Government keeps changing! On the Nuclear Agreement, you needed support in the Lok Sabha. So, the Government's Affidavit changed. In the Cut Motion you needed support of another party in the Lok Sabha, the Government's game was going on between the Sports Ministry and the Federations which are organizing the Games.

So, what happened in the Security Council can’t be passed of in a lighter moment. Is this the kind of articulation of India’s strategic policy and Foreign Policy, which we expect? Yesterday, in The Hindu newspaper, I read an article by Mr. Sainath, where he says that the Rural Development Minister is indicted by the Supreme Court for trying to protect moneylenders. He is a Rural Development Minister! He is protecting moneylenders from criminality. And, he gets a promotion and a kick up in terms of his portfolio.

There was a judgement of the Supreme Court and there is a change of portfolio, immediately following it. And, I am authenticating that judgement; I am also authenticating the change in his portfolio. Your entire defence preparedness is suffering because the Defence Ministry is not making decisions with regard to purchases and the kind of support it requires. The Prime Minister is here. Your Government needs to be even downsized. We don’t need a whole Ministry merely because a person has to be accommodated, which just deals with the department of sixty-six. There is a very serious competence deficit that has seeped in.

I am glad that the hon. Prime Minister is here, political leadership has to guide the Government. The Prime Minister is the Constitutional head of the Government. The power has to be vested in him. We kept warning this Government in UPA-I that there are parallel power interests. Today, I can legitimately see, and any political analyst can see, that there is a gap emerging between the rival political centres. The kind of unstinting support, which the Prime Minister and the Government must have, seems to be lacking.

The mirror is cracking today. The mirror seems to be cracking. It is very difficult to join it again when it cracks. And, there is a lot of expectation that a country has from the Government. You are a legitimately elected Government. You have to lead the country out of this situation and the negative environment that has been created. It is for the Prime Minister to decide how he would want eventually his own Government to be judged. Would he want it to be judged merely by the fact that how many years the Government has stayed in office? Or, would he want this Government to be judged by the kind of footprints by bold actions, which his Government leaves behind? And, if he does not take those bold actions and leave those footprints behind, I am afraid, such Governments, then, become only a footnote. They are not remembered for anything substantial that they do. That is the challenge, Mr. Prime Minister, before your Government. And, I do hope that what comes from us should not be taken as a criticism of the Government, but as a kind of challenge that faces you and your Government, which you must try to legitimately respond to.

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