The Tatra deal investigations are getting more and more curious! Consider this strange sequence of events. In 2011 Trinamul Congress MP Mr. Ambica Banerjee wrote a letter addressed to the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister with a copy sent to the Army Chief, General VK Singh, regarding army procurement scams related to the purchase of Tatra all-terrain trucks. He wanted the officer dealing with the purchase, Lt-General Dalbir Singh Suhag, to be investigated. The Army Chief very recently registered a case with the CBI related to an alleged bribe offer made to him and also to the Tatra truck allegations. He enclosed the copy of Mr. Ambica Banerjee’s letter along with his complaint. Meanwhile, apart from an acknowledgment of his letter being received Mr. Banerjee was conveyed no further information about his complaint from any government department during all this time. He was naturally disappointed.
Defence Minister Mr. AK Antony said he did not act on the General’s complaint about the alleged offer of bribe related to the Tatra deal made in 2011 because the General did not make a written complaint. Meanwhile the CBI acting on General VK Singh’s complaint has started its probe on the Tatra deal. Businessmen are being raided and interrogated. However the CBI has refused to probe General Dalbitr Singh Suhag because it now transpires that the Cabinet Secretariat had probed allegations on the Tatra deal and given him a clean chit. Why did the Cabinet Secretariat probe the Tatra deal earlier? The probe was ordered because of a letter on the same deal making similar allegations sent in 2009 by former Congress MP Mr. Hanumanthappa.
Mr. Hanumanthappa sent his letter to the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, President Pratibha Patil and UPA Chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. Mr. Hanumanthappa advised in his letter to Mrs. Gandhi that she should forward it to Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad who could pursue the matter with the Cabinet. Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad wrote to the Defence Minister and conveyed Mrs. Gandhi’s request for a probe. This clears Mrs. Gandhi for having discharged her responsibility. Mr. Hanumanthappa explained to media that he had earlier remained silent about his letter but chose now to speak because the General had revived the issue.
Several questions naturally arise. Why did not the government inform Mr. Ambica Banerjee that his allegations had already been probed by the Cabinet Secretariat which found no substance in them? Why did not the Defence Minister inform Parliament that before Mr. Banerjee’s letter and before the General went public with his complaint the Tatra deal had been probed by the Cabinet Secretariat? Why is the CBI on the Army Chief’s complaint probing the Tatra deal but refusing to probe General Dalbir Singh’s role in it? Is it that the rest of the deal was dubious and only General Dalbir Singh’s role was clean? When the government itself is being accused of colluding with corruption should the CBI place credence on the findings of the Cabinet Secretariat? Most important of all, should not the name of General Dalbir Singh be cleared through a credible probe by the CBI instead of an unbelieving public having to rely on a certificate given by the Cabinet Secretariat? While there should be no difficulty in believing that General Dalbir Singh himself is clean, might he not throw valuable light on the rest of the deal being probed by the CBI? Might not General Dalbir Singh be in a position to assist Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s request to uncover the whole truth? And finally, to allay suspicions of a sceptical public can some proof be provided that letters sent by Mr. Hanumanthappa and Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad have not been pre-dated? It is a pity that Mr. Hanumanthappa after sending his letter to the rest failed to send it to the Army Chief.
These questions are relevant. The government should know that like justice investigation too must not only be done but seen to be done. It is a question of transparency and credibility.