Chidambaram Scores Self Goal!
Apart from being the country’s Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram is also a distinguished lawyer. Due to the vagaries of pronunciation, we Punjabis, when speaking in English often blur the distinction between lawyers and liars. Could we without intention be reflecting some truth? Speaking to the media on the subject of the government’s claim to the Supreme Court (SC) that the selection committee to decide the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner Mr PJ Thomas was unaware about his pending court case, Mr Chidambaram said: “We did discuss the names of the panel (of three short listed names for the post). In fact, the bulk of the time was regarding PJ Thomas and Palmolein case.”
This acknowledgment rubbishes the Attorney general’s claim to the SC that the government “was not informed” about Thomas being accused in the Palmolein case. Now the government is trying to justify its claim of the selection committee “not being informed” by drawing a distinction between the Palmolein case being discussed by the selection committee and the papers related to it not being circulated among its members.
So, what should be made about the government’s logic? Did the government indulge in a half truth, a cover up, or an outright lie by stating to the SC that the selection committee had “not been informed” about the Palmolein case? One must wait to see how the SC interprets the Attorney General’s remarks. Mr Chidambaram is too astute not to have realized the implications of his unsolicited admission about the PJ Thomas affair. It will undoubtedly cheer those elements within the Congress that seek to weaken the Prime Minister amidst the silent inner war going on within the government. After all, the PM chaired the 3-member selection committee!
The PM is further weakened by the unusual alacrity with which former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Mr VK Shunglu, who heads the committee monitoring the Commonwealth Games scam, has submitted to the cabinet secretary and the PMO the interim report on just one segment of the corruption case. The interim report in question indicts former Prasar Bharati CEO Mr BS Lalli for alleged corruption. This will no doubt embarrass the PM whose family has very cordial relations with Mr Lalli. Should the PM be embarrassed into resigning from his post there is no dearth of aspirants within the Congress seeking to occupy it.
However all these warriors of the inner war of the UPA government could be making a grievous miscalculation. Some assume that if the PM quits the Congress would elect a new PM. Others plot that if the government falls there could be cross-party political realignment to further their individual ambitions. Both groups assume that in the event of change the nations’ political future would be determined by members of the present parliament. In fact they underestimate public anger with the present corrupt regime. This anger would certainly encourage all non-UPA, and some UPA, sections of the government to welcome a mid-term poll that might improve their prospects. There is a mood spreading worldwide. The air in Tunisia and Egypt may prove infectious.
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Dr. Rajinder Puri
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