The Game Is Up for Team Manmohan - It’s the PM who Must Go Now!

Recent revelations have once again confirmed the extent to which the UPA Government is mired in corruption and cover-ups, from a series of Ministers right up to the Prime Minister.

The UPA Government, which had brazenly denied the coal scam in which the PM was directly implicated, has now been caught red-handed trying to ‘fix’ the probe into the scam by ‘editing’ the CBI’s status report submitted to the apex court. Now, the Supreme Court has delivered a scathing indictment of the role of the Government and the CBI, calling the CBI a “caged parrot speaking in master’s voice”, and finding that the “heart of the report had been tampered with”.

The CBI’s own affidavit testifies to the fact that the Government lied to the Court when it assured that the report had not been amended. Not only the Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, but the Joint Secretaries of the PMO and the Coal Ministry (the very same institutions directly being probed for their role in the coal scam!) perused the CBI’s status report and dictated strategic deletions and amendments. Eventually the Government, which had defiantly refused to sack the Law Minister, was forced to get the Law Minister to belatedly resign as a last-ditch attempt at damage control. But if Ashwani Kumar had to lose his job as Law Minister, why should not Manmohan Singh lose his job as Prime Minister, since the PMO too was equally implicated in the same offence of influencing the CBI report?

Another instance of blatant corruption directly implicating the UPA Government came to light with the CBI’s arrest of the nephew of the Union Rail Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, on charges of taking a Rs 90 lakh bribe from a member of the Railway Board, allegedly to secure a new post within the Railway Board. In the Rail Scam as well, the UPA Government first tried to brazen it out, until eventually forced to go for the belated resignation of Pawan Kumar Bansal.

The Railway Board is a very powerful body, directly answerable to the Rail Minister. The open support of JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav for Pawan Bansal, and the silence, if not open defence of the tainted minister, of various former Rail Ministers across parties (including Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar and Laloo Yadav), is clearly because the cash-for-posts scam is a long-entrenched practice that goes back a long way. A thorough probe that investigates the tenures of former Rail Ministers as well is called for to expose the extent of the scam.

The Congress party is trying to hide behind the Karnataka results, claiming that Karnataka proves that Congress’ electoral fortunes will not be affected by the spate of scams and cover-ups. The opposite is true. Karnataka proves that the people are waiting to punish governments for corruption: in Karnataka, the BJP paid the price of defeat for its Government which presided over the worst corporate plunder and loot of land and minerals. Karnataka exposes the BJP’s bluff of being a ‘clean’ alternative to the corrupt Congress, and it is also a stern reminder that the corrupt UPA Government will undoubtedly be taught a lesson by the people, as the BJP was taught a lesson in Karnataka.

The PM cannot hide behind the resignations of Ashwani Kumar and Bansal. As the PM who presided over the Coal Ministry at the time of the Coal Scam, and is directly implicated in the PMO’s manipulation of the CBI’s status report, and is moreover leading the pack of a series of corrupt Ministers, Manmohan Singh must quit! With one tainted minister after another being exposed and forced to make an ignominious exit, the game is up for Team Manmohan. The captain must now quit and let the people express their mandate.

For the people of the country, it is completely unacceptable that the CBI remain a parrot of the Government, in a cage where the ruling party holds the key. But it is also equally important to assert that the country can no longer afford a Government which is the parrot of corporations, and which keeps the people shackled by neoliberal policies and repressive measures. Ridding the country of pro-corporate policies and guaranteeing the rights of the people with pro-people policies and institutional arrangements is the urgent need of the hour.

Liberation Archive