The Government has claimed that over 200 files related to the Coalgate scam are missing. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has stated that some of the missing files seriously impede the agency’s investigation. Among such crucial files is the one related to AMR Iron & Steel Private Limited with its headquarters in Nagpur. This firm has close ties with Congress MP Mr. Vijay Darda whose close relative is a director of the firm. The opposition parties in parliament rightly criticized the government for the missing files and charged it with deliberately covering up the truth to protect important leaders.
One year ago London’s Daily Mail website circulated a photo downloaded from the AMR firm’s website and circulated it on the Internet. That photograph was also reproduced in India’s print media. The photograph showed the Congress President’s Political Secretary Mr. Ahmed Patel standing beside the AMR owner Mr. Manoj Jayaswal, an accused in the Coalgate scam, presenting a bouquet of flowers to a beaming Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. Beside Mrs. Gandhi stood Congress MP Mr. Vijay Darda. This occurred in Mrs. Gandhi’s study at 10 Janpath.
Questions were raised then about the circumstances that led Mrs. Gandhi to meet with an accused in the Coalgate scam. No explanation was forthcoming. Now it transpires that one of the missing files contains recommendation by Mr. Darda to allot the coal block in Bander, Maharashtra to the AMR firm.
Should not the questions posed earlier to Mrs. Gandhi be renewed since the file is missing? Did Mr. Darda misuse her name in his letter of recommendation to the government? It is well known that mere mention of her name can make Congress ministers perspire. Surely it is in Mrs. Gandhi’s own interest to check such possible misuse of her name if it exists. However, at this point of time the writer is not concerned with Mrs. Gandhi’s naiveté or her lack of concern.
What bothers this writer is the whereabouts of the opposition. Where is it? Does it exist? Surely for any genuine opposition party to demand clarification from the government about the Darda file in light of the photograph described above would be a primary objective. But astonishingly enough, the opposition is vociferous about demanding the resignation of the current Coal Minister but remains mute on the subject of the file or the photograph. This writer made sure that through mutual sources the photograph was circulated among the more important opposition leaders. But only deafening silence continued on the issue.
The explanation that BJP leaders have decided to avoid personal attacks during this campaign is irrelevant. This is not a personal issue. It relates to the possible misuse of the UPA Chairperson’s name to derive illegal advantage. As for personal attacks, the frequent stupid allusions and innuendos related to Mrs. Gandhi’s Italian origins are standard fare for the opposition. These attacks apart from being highly personal are particularly stupid because Mrs. Gandhi today is more Indian than many of the opposition leaders.
The question therefore arises. Why opposition leaders are struck dumb over such an obvious issue?
The popular explanation would be that they are themselves so compromised and vulnerable to investigation that they cannot genuinely pursue corruption cases. Therefore the first need now is not to question Mrs. Gandhi about her silence. Rather it is to question opposition leaders over their silence.