The last ten years of the Congress-led UPA has been disastrous for the country. Every passing year has been more catastrophic than the previous one. 2013 has witnessed newer scams tumbling out of the government’s corrupt cupboard, barefaced misuse of constitutional institutions to target political adversaries, mindless squandering of public money leading to complete ruin of the economy, grave compromises on internal and external security, and grim challenges to the sovereignty and integrity of the nation. The result: the present atmosphere of gloom, cynicism and despair.
The only ray of hope in this dull and dismal atmosphere has been the steady rise of Narendra Modi seen as the one man who can turn the fortunes of the nation for the better.
It is therefore pertinent as we enter 2014, to recap an incomplete list of Congress crimes in 2013.
The country entered 2013 in an angry, dejected and depressed mood. The gang rape of the 23 year old student in New Delhi in December 2012 was a testimony to the complete failure of the State to provide adequate security for its citizens, even in the capital city of the country. Other than issuing mindless statements, the Governments–both at Delhi and the Centre—did not do much to overhaul the law and order system.
On the external security front, Pakistan’s attack and brutal decapitation of two of India’s soldiers at Poonch in Jammu & Kashmir, exposed the unpreparedness of the Government to meet threats from Pakistan.
In spite of a mountain of evidence pointing at Pakistan for planting Jehadi forces within the country, Union Home Minister Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde while addressing a Congress Party conclave, made unsubstantiated allegations against the BJP and the RSS, saying they were conducting ‘terror training camps’ to spread Hindu Terror in the country. This showed, yet again, that the Congress Party prefers playing cheap vote-bank politics over the security and integrity of the nation.
Even as the country was coming to terms with the brutal Delhi gang rape, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien’s involvement in the gruesome 17-year old Suryanelli rape case was questioned by the victim’s mother in a private complaint. The mother’s painful letter to Congress Chief Ms. Sonia Gandhi asking her to act against Mr. P.J. Kurien made no impact.
On the corruption front, Congress again didn’t disappoint. The Rs. 3600 crore Augusta Westland VVIP chopper scam tumbled out, leading to strong speculations that the political executive, the civilian bureaucracy and the military administration were all hand in glove in the scam. And even as the Central Bureau of Investigation began an inquiry into allegations of bribery in the deal, India sought to scrap the pact that has been marred by charges that kickbacks worth Rs. 362 crore were paid by Italian parent company Finmeccanica to bag the contract, signaling that the Italian connection with India’s defence scams have continued unabated.
If the Italian company Finmeccanica was in news in February, it was Italian Marines who were in news in March. Two Italian marines who killed Indian fishermen fishing in Indian waters and happily went back home to vote in their country’s general elections. Italy then declared that the accused marines won’t return to India to stand trial, causing great embarrassment to India. The Union Government’s soft stand on the issue was shocking, though not surprising. It took the intervention of the Supreme Court to pressurize Italy to send the accused Marines back to India to stand trial.
It was the country’s most influential son-in-law, Robert Vadra who basked in the scam limelight of this month. Robert Vadra’s real-estate deals in Congress ruled states of Rajasthan and Haryana raised grave concerns on gross financial and legal irregularities. As usual, like most of its earlier scams, the government thought it fit to assign the investigation to its pet investigation agency, the CBI.
April heralded Rahul Gandhi who hogged all the limelight. Rahul Gandhi’s epic speech at the CII conference made news throughout the month. People preferred watching it over even popular TV shows like ‘Comedy nights with Kapil’. Thankfully, the folks on social media who critiqued Rahul Gandhi’s speech proved to the rest of the world that not all Indians are fools.
May was by far one of the most disastrous months of the year. It also showed the all-round failure of the Congress Party in ruling the country. On the internal security front, the brutal Naxal attack on a convoy of Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh killing almost the entire state Congress leadership exposed the Central Government’s total failure in tackling the Maoist menace.
On the external security front, it was the turn of the Chinese to play the role of the aggressor. Chinese troops intruded 19 kms into Indian territory and set up tents in the Daulat Beg Oldie sector. After much diplomatic efforts, the Chinese finally retreated. As if this was not enough of an embarrassment, Sarabjit’s ghastly death in a Pakistani jail, and the Union government’s causal approach towards the issue further angered the people.
But none of these incidents distracted the Congress Government from looting the country. The coal scam, which was bigger in magnitude than the 2G spectrum scam, shocked the nation by breaking all previous records of corruption scandals. As a result, Parliament did not function thanks to the furore over the scam.
And the Supreme Court, upset over the interference of the Union Government in the functioning of its pet investigating agency, the CBI, wanted to know whether a law could be enacted to insulate it from extraneous influence and make the agency an independent organization. The misuse of the CBI to protect its own interests and to target the Opposition has been only one of the many cases of blatant misuse of constitutional institutions by the Union Government in the last decade.
June was a month when the country mourned the death of thousands of pilgrims in the devastating flash floods in Uttarakhand.
But what caused more anguish to the people was the Congress Party’s attitude of making use of even a disaster of this proportion, to gain cheap publicity for its first family. Hundreds of trucks carrying relief material left New Delhi only after waiting for a few days for flag off by Rahul Gandhi, who was not in the country during the floods.
But this clear display of Rahul Gandhi’s carelessness and inability to lead did not dissuade the country’s Prime Minister from offering his post to Rahul Gandhi. While Dr. Manmohan Singh may have scored a point on the dynasty’s loyalty index, the dynasty’s credibility in the eyes of the public hit a new low.
Bodh Gaya was rocked by blasts that killed many, which again exposed the weakness and carelessness of the Government in managing the internal security of the country. But Congress Party seemed to be busy playing vote-bank politics. In a callous statement, senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed tweeted that the Indian Mujahideen was a result of the Gujarat riots clearly showing the Congress’s desperation to cling to power at all costs. And all the lies of the secular brigade politicians, tom-tommed over the Batla House encounter were laid rest after the accused were convicted for life by the court.
Even when the government accepted that over 65% of Indians are poor even after six decades of independence, Congress leaders Raj Babbar and Union Minister for New and Renewable energy, Farooq Abdullah, claimed that the poor could eat a good meal for Rs.5 and Re.1 respectively, showcasing how disconnected–apart from being heartless–they were from the ground realities.
The latest scam to join the mega-buck scandal list was the 2,058 crore Jet-Etihad deal. Amidst all these, the Postal department decided to close the century old telegram services. The dynasty was faithfully remembered even then. The last telegram was sent to Mr. Rahul Gandhi just before the service closed at 11.45 p.m. at the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) in New Delhi. The Gandhi family scion was wished “success and happiness in life” and “glories of great men of the past.”
Pakistan’s attacks on India continued with the same consistency and frequency. And the Union government maintained its calm and composure at every attack and did nothing more than mouthing homilies condemning attacks. Perhaps, even the Pakistani forces were bored listening to the same kind of condemnation statements from Indian Prime Minister. This time around, five Indian jawans of the Bihar regiment were ambushed and killed at Poonch. What was more shocking than the attack was the statement given by our Defence Minister A.K. Anthony, who told the Parliament that the attack was the handiwork of armed terrorists dressed in Pakistani Army uniform.
Within days of these attacks, there was widespread communal violence at Kishtwar in Jammu & Kashmir. What was more discomforting was the detention and prevention of Leader of Opposition Mr. Arun Jaitley from visiting the affected areas.
Meanwhile, on the corruption front, the Congress party improved its track record by doing the unthinkable— the files related to the coal block allocations went missing! The PMO frantically searched for the coal files, but only in vain.
The hero of the month was however, IAS Officer Ashok Khemka, who despite being ousted by the Haryana Government for exposing the corrupt dealings of Robert Vadra , kept digging deeper leading to more questions about Robert Vadra’s fortunes.
In September, the Congress Government decided to further weaken the already paralyzed economy by bringing in two blatantly populist legislations – one that proposed to give subsidized food to 67% of the population and the other that would make acquiring land for any projects next to impossible. Both these bills, the Food Security Bill and the Land Acquisition Bill, received Presidential assent.
With the petroleum import bill touching the sky, Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily came up with an ingenious idea to cut down on the consumption of petroleum—by closing down petrol pumps at night. Thankfully, the idea died an instant death.
The Congress party has a reputation for protecting its friends in times of need, more so when elections are around the corner. With the Supreme Court disqualifying convicted persons from contesting elections, and with Lalu Prasad’s conviction in the fodder scam seeming imminent, the government tried to reverse the Supreme Court order by bringing in an ordinance. The move led to immense outrage and disapproval by the public. At a Press conference where Congress spokesperson Mr. Ajay Maken was with great difficulty defending this indefensible move, Rahul Gandhi stormed in and took his own government to task. Saying that the ordinance idea was complete nonsense, he said that it must be ‘torn up and thrown away.’ But even this commendable act of Rahul Gandhi led to many questions – why did he not oppose the ordinance before it was passed by the cabinet? Contrary to what the Congress spin masters believed, Rahul Gandhi’s theatrics only contributed to lessening his standing in the eyes of the people.
Unmindful of this, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated his loyalty to the Gandhi dynasty declaring that he was ready to work under Rahul Gandhi. BJP leader Narendra Modi reminded the Prime Minister that in effect, he was already working under Rahul Gandhi.
Keeping Rahul Gandhi company in the plummeting of his reputation and integrity was the Indian mainstream media, with the Election Commission detecting over 1,400 cases of paid news during elections.
The High court found Lalu Prasad guilty in the fodder scam and sentenced him for 5 years. But Congress leader Digvijay Singh believed otherwise: he thought Lalu Prasad was wrongly framed by his political adversaries as he was a long and trusted friend of the Congress.
Statistics from the latest Census report made the country aware of the mind numbing effect of the callous rule of the Congress Party over the last decade: the slum population in the country had shot up from 52 million to 65 million in ten years.
But these grave economic issues didn’t seem to trouble our economist Prime Minister. He seemed to be busy stitching together an alliance of secular forces to counter Narendra Modi, even as Pakistan continued its ceasefire violations with renewed vigour: eight violations in four days.
What shook the country more was the serial bomb blasts at the Narendra Modi rally in Patna, which killed five and injured many. It proved that forces inimical to Modi’s rise would resort to any means to stop him in his tracks.
And in other news, Rahul Gandhi made headlines saying that he was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and his ideas.
Despite serious security concerns, the Union government ruled out providing SPG security to Narendra Modi. In an attempt to score a quick political point, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr. RPN Singh blamed the BJP for not having provided adequate security for former PM Rajiv Gandhi who was assassinated by the LTTE in 1991, not realizing that the BJP’s first stint at power at the Centre was only in 1996.
With the Narendra Modi juggernaut gaining more momentum and opinion polls indicating a BJP sweep in all the four states that were going for elections in December, the Congress Party favoured seeking a ban on opinion polls. This further proved that the Congress Party, like most of the self-fashioned liberals, believes in free expression only as long as it is favourable to its interests.
Integrity of the mainstream media plummeted further this month, with the eruption of the Tarun Tejpal–who has known links to powerful Congressmen–rape controversy. The shameless attempts at cover-up, many journalists coming in defence of Tejpal, and the complete silence of the who-is-who of the secular-liberal world proved that those who dish out lessons of self-righteousness and piety are not all virtuous themselves.
Another instance of callous display of insensitivity and carelessness was in the case of Capt. Saurabh Kalia—the first Indian officer who disclosed Pakistani incursion into Kargil before being taken captive and severely tortured and killed by the Pakistani forces— where the Union government said that torture inflicted upon him by the Pakistan Army cannot be termed as a war crime. All attempts by the father of the martyr seeking government intervention in raising the matter at the International Court of Justice has fallen on deaf ears.
Earlier in the year, the Supreme Court had wondered if there could be measures taken to increase the functional autonomy of the CBI. Again this month, the CBI pleaded before the Supreme Court to free it from the clutches of the government, saying it was a ‘caged parrot’. Over the last ten years, the UPA has severely undermined the authority of not only the CBI but also the CAG, CVC, the JPC and many other constitutional institutions.
December was a mixed bag for the country. On the diplomatic front it was a complete disaster with Pakistan asking India to move out of Siachen Glacier and then the United States of America which arrested Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade on charges of visa fraud. The fact that a senior diplomat of the country was handcuffed, subjected to body cavity search and then put into prison with ordinary criminals was highly insulting for the country. The lame and pusillanimous response by the Union government was even more loathsome.
Post the Delhi Assembly polls, the great betrayal came in the form of the Aam Admi Party—which had built its entire campaign by positioning itself against the Congress— joining hands with the selfsame Congress to form the government in Delhi.
Also, the monthly Hail-Rahul Gandhi quota was filled by Minister for Petroleum Mr. Veerappa Moily who certified that Rahul Gandhi was fit to be the Prime Minister, even as Rahul at another event said that no other government had done as much as his to combat corruption.
The Congress led UPA government has failed on all fronts. With every passing month, it is pushing the country into a deeper mess. People seem to have realized that the Congress Party’s dynasty-centric vote bank politics coupled with its myopic populist economics has kept the country divided and poor. The continuation of this government in office for every additional day is a burden on the exchequer, dead weight on the country’s progress and a hindrance for the nation’s advancement. Entering the New Year, it is clear that the people of the country are yearning for a change.
Perhaps, the Congress Party has itself, by its words and deeds, been the biggest contributor for Narendra Modi’s Congress-Mukt-Bharat campaign.
An alumnus of IndiaFacts, Tejasvi Surya is an Advocate practicing at the High Court of Karnataka, at Bangalore. He is also the co-founder of Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence, an organization running projects in the spheres of education, employment and entrepreneurship. Tejasvi is currently the State Secretary for Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Karnataka.