The threat posed to this nation by the continuance of the UPA government reached a new high after the most recent disclosure. It has been reported that Defence Minister Mr. AK Antony’s office was suspected of being bugged. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the Defence Ministry suspects Military Intelligence (MI) of being used for the bugging by whosoever ordered the spying. MI regularly checked the Minister’s office for bugging. But after an accidental bleep it was suspected that there was a bugging device in the office. Significantly the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was called in to probe the bugging. Regardless of what follows the mere fact that MI could not be trusted and IB was called in to check security in the Defence Minister’s office is mind boggling.
This comes in the wake of an earlier episode. Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee had confirmed media reports to state that he suspected his finance ministry offices of being bugged. Significantly, after he had informed the Prime Minister both leaders did not seek the IB under the Home Ministry to make a check. Instead a private detective agency was hired to inquire into the alleged bugging. Subsequently the Home Secretary who had just retired from service claimed that there had been no bugging. He did not explain why a private agency instead of IB had been deployed. Nor did he give any convincing explanation of why pieces of chewing gum were found scattered under table tops all over the office.
These incidents raise very disturbing questions that cannot be brushed aside. Whether the bugging in either case was inspired by a foreign or a domestic agency the collapse of national security becomes evident. Foreign inspiration cannot be ruled out given the many lucrative defence deals waiting to be cleared quite shortly. Secondly, whether the bugging occurred or not the fact that government officials at the highest level are displaying paranoid mistrust of colleagues has also become evident. When a virtual civil war rages within the cabinet itself what happens to national security?
The President cannot proclaim an Emergency under Article 352 which has to be proposed by the Union Cabinet which itself in this case is the cause of a breach in national security. However Article 75 (2) of the Constitution states: “The Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.” If the present trend within the highest echelons of the government continues, how long should the President continue to express pleasure with Ministers of the Union Cabinet?