Do the people matter?
Posted July 4, 2009on:
Lal Krishna Advani was the BJP’s declared prime ministerial candidate. Rahul Gandhi is being groomed by her mother Sonia Gandhi (who is The Congress) to become Prime Minister, though not immediately. Both Advani and Rahul Gandhi share at least one trait: both consider the people of this country as dolts and treat them as such.
When Rahul Gandhi said at Balaghat that not even five paise of the one rupee allocated by the Centre for the welfare of the poor reached the beneficiaries, he was only censuring the ten years of the Congress governments at the Centre — five years of P.V.Narasimha Rao and another five years of Manmohan Singh — as well as the ten years of the Digvijay Singh regime in Madhya Pradesh.
Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi had stated in the late eighties that when the Centre spent one rupee on the welfare of the poor, only 15 paise were reaching the beneficiaries and the rest was pocketed by the intermediaries. Forget the V.P.Singhs and the Devegowdas. What has the Congress governments, in power at the Centre for two full terms during this period, have done to arrest this nefarious trend?
It’s not that those who held the strings were not made aware of the plight of the poor. The Centrally-sponsored National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in Madhya Pradesh is in a mess. When it was started in Badwani district, those entitled and deserving were denied enrolment and the relatively well-off people recommended by influential leaders of both the BJP and the Congress were given the benefits. The NGO working among the poor in Badwani district approached the officials concerned and sent detailed memoranda listing the instances of the bungling to union minister of rural development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, among others. The minister announced that he would order an inquiry. What happened to that? The Central ministers, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh included, have, instead, been issuing certificates of good implementation of the Central schemes to the State government.
It is a vicious circle. The schemes are implemented through bureaucrats who are the real plunderers in all the welfare schemes. The bureaucrats have their own well-knit network, immune to the hue of the political party in power. The Central ministers form their opinion only on the reports of the bureaucrats. If Shivraj Singh Chauhan is citing the good performance certificates given by the Central ministers today, Digvijay Singh was also citing such certificates even though his government was as insensitive to the plight of the poor as Chauhan’s government is today.
If Rahul Gandhi is being callow, Advani is a consummate demagogue. When did he learn that the Indians are keeping lakhs of crores of rupees in foreign banks clandestinely? That the idea is noble does not mean that it should be practicable also. The foreign banks have their own laws and it will not be easy, even with the best of intentions, to force them to reveal the particulars of the deposits. Advani’s promise to start bringing back the money from foreign banks within 100 days of coming to power (if the BJP does come to power) is humbug. Had not he and the others in his party joined V.P.Singh’s chorus in 1989 to expose and punish the culprits of the Bofors pay-off within a month? The Bofors case was virtually brushed aside a decade later when Advani was the Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Incidentally, it would be interesting to find out if Advani, as Home Minister of the country, had taken even a single initiative in the interest of the people and the country. He had completely forgotten his pet subjects like the electoral reforms and amendment of the Police Act, about which he had been talking ad nauseam while in the Opposition.
Advani is talking of the Indians’ money in the foreign banks which is not easy to get back. He is not talking of the lakhs of crores of rupees which the industrialists of the country have borrowed from the public sector banks and financial institutions and have refused to repay. That huge amount is now treated as the bad debt. Recovering that money, with the firm support of the government, is POSSIBLE. Maybe, Advani is deliberately avoiding this subject because he is himself a beneficiary of this loot. Advani has not so far made public the source of the Rs 250 crore he is reportedly spending on his personal publicity and the huge amounts his party is spending on chartered planes for him and other party leaders.