Dec 19, 2006

UPA's Dual Power Center Exposed

When the UPA government was sworn in with Congress President Mrs. Gandhi’s personal choice Manmohan Singh as the PM, it was speculated that there would be two power centers. But the spin-doctors – both in the govt and the press - of the UPA govt dismissed such speculation and even pointed out some decisions of Manmohan Singh as proof of non-interference from the Congress President in the working of the UPA government and thus not influencing the government policies.

Some of Sonia Gandhi’s pet projects like NREGA, RTI, etc have been zealously implemented by the UPA govt. Now using the RTI Act - with which the UPA govt wanted to empower the citizen - a journalist has unearthed how Sonia Gandhi interferes in the working of the UPA govt. In a series of three articles DK Singh ‘exposes’ the dual power center in the UPA govt. Whether these interference by Mrs. Gandhi has done good to the common man or not is still open to debate.

Midway through the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance regime, ministers and officials in the Manmohan Singh government have come around to accepting the concept of dual power.


…. The Congress president forwarded his [social activist Suvalal Chhaganmal Bafna] case for a Padma Shri to Home Minister Shivraj Patil in November 2005. A few weeks later, Bafna was nominated for the award.

In another letter to Health Minister Anbumani R.amadoss last May, Gandhi sought action against Diclofenac, a non-inflammatory drug for veterinary use, as it was a “killer agent”. Two days later, the ministry wrote to state drug controllers to withdraw the licences of all manufacturers of Diclofenac formulations and to phase out its marketing.

[Mrs.]Gandhi… has written at least 36 more letters to different ministers in the last two-and-a-half years.

At least 16 letters were written on her behalf by her staff to different government officials…

These letters offered advice and recommendations on a variety of subjects from a cautionary note on free trade agreements, proposing changes in draft legislation, seeking two reserve battalions for Assam as requested to her by the chief minister and forwarding suggestions of Narmada dam activists to even an inquiry about the alleged denial of promotion to an accountant in a public sector undertaking in Dhanbad.

Though her letters to ministers are unfailingly polite in tone. …those to whom they have been written have sometimes gone beyond the call of duty to satisfy her.

For instance, a simple query about progress on the proposal to set up a national petroleum training school in Rae Bareilly in April 2005 was enough for the then Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar to go to the proposed sites and then to Lucknow to hold consultations with the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

In some cases, Gandhi wrote to the prime minister making some suggestions and informing him that she was sending a copy of the letter to a particular minister.

Last December, she wrote to the prime minister suggesting some changes in the draft Gram Nyayalaya Bill and informing him that she was sending a copy of the letter to Law Minister HR Bharadwaj.

On the same day, she forwarded her letter to the prime minister to Bharadwaj stating, “You may like to consider incorporating the suggested changes in the Bill before taking it to the Cabinet.”[Business Standard]

…. Congress President Sonia Gandhi has nevertheless evinced keen interest in the management of the country’s economy in the last two-and-a-half years.


On September 21 she wrote a letter each to Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, Small Scale Industries Minister Mahavir Prasad and Food Processing Minister Subodh Kant Sahay, exhorting them to lay more emphasis on the leather and footwear industry, small and medium industries, and the food and agro-processing industry, respectively.

The three got the same performance appraisal from her in identical letters: “I am aware that some progress has been made by your ministry in this sector. However, there is much more to be done if we have to show visible results….”

Last March Gandhi, then the National Advisory Council chairperson, wrote to Nath conveying the feeling that India was, perhaps, signing too many free trade agreements, “which made our own manufacturing sector more vulnerable”.

The need is to ensure that a labour-intensive manufacturing industry is not hampered by trade liberalisation and a spate of free trade and other agreements. “The government may like to consider taking special care before the Early Harvest Programme is included in any future agreement…to ensure that the sensitive list of items in the existing agreements is not diluted or reduced any further through future negotiations,” suggested Gandhi’s letter.

Her clout, as perceived by the ministers in the Manmohan Singh government, is reflected in a letter written to her by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in September. He sought her intervention to ensure that co-operative banks were provided 2 per cent interest subvention by the Centre on farm credit at 7 per cent interest rate, stating that the government was “hesitant” to do it. The UPA regime announced this decision shortly afterwards.

There are numerous other instances when Sonia Gandhi has sought to intervene in affairs that are the exclusive preserve of the executive. Following a letter from a Congress member of parliament about alleged irregularities in the Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (Balco) deal with Sterlite last September, her staff at 10, Janpath wrote to the finance minister’s office seeking a status report.

Another letter from her staff at the NAC office to the finance minister this year related to the demand of Kashmiri migrants for a tax waiver. In a letter last August, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, however, wrote back to Gandhi politely explaining there was no provision under the Income Tax Act to waive tax dues of a class of persons.[Business Standard]

Until Congress President Sonia Gandhi quit the post of National Advisory Council chairperson in March, she would personally clear some of the draft Bills of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime before they went to Cabinet for approval.

Gandhi has been instrumental in the incorporation of a host of changes in the drafts of several Bills, including the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, the Scheduled Tribes and Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, the Gram Nyayalaya Bill, and the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Bill, among others.

Copies of around two dozen letters exchanged between her and the ministers concerned show how the latter took pains to incorporate her suggestions, in some cases after reminders from her.

Of all UPA ministers, only Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar could say “no” to her. On October 5, 2005, she wrote to him about “a growing perception” that the Seeds Bill, 2004, (which is yet to be passed), was anti-farmer and favoured the seed industry and large seed breeders, including multinational corporations.

She made several suggestions that “would go a long way in removing this perception” and advised that the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act, 2001, be enforced before the passage of the Seeds Bill.


Pawar stuck to his guns, though. A month after he received her letter, he wrote back asserting that the Seeds Bill and the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act were “two entirely different issues,” and postponing the enactment of the Seeds Bill, which proposed to regulate the sale, import and export of seeds and facilitate their production and supply, “will not serve the interest of farmers”.


On the Communal Violence Bill (yet to be passed), Gandhi and Home Minister Shivraj Patil exchanged about a dozen letters between May and September 2005. Finally, on September 26, Patil wrote to her, listing how her suggestions were incorporated in the Bill and thanked her for “guidance and encouragement”.

It is the same story with other Bills. On the Tribal Bill, Gandhi’s suggestions to include only tribals in the purview of the Bill (excluding Scheduled Castes) and fixing 1980 as the cut-off date were incorporated in the draft Bill.
The Cabinet had to change these two provisions last week following an outcry from Left leaders.[Business Standard]

1 comment:

hyderabadi guy said...

Asaduddin Owaisi Discussion regarding Communal Violence in different Parts of the Country in Parliament

ASADUDDIN OWAISI Mp (HYDERABAD) : Sir, at the outset I would like to compliment the hon. BJP Member for being the devil’s advocate. I happened to go to Vadodara on the 8th of this month. I have even gone to the place where this Dargah stood once. If the municipal authorities were doing a work, why was there a need for the Mayor and the concerned MLA to be there? Why was there a need that all of them had to clap, all of them had to raise religious slogans when this Dargah was demolished? I fail to understand that.I went to the Government SSG hospital to see the 24 injured patients. Out of them, 23 belonged to the minority community. All of them had bullet injuries above the waist. I even went to the houses of the deceased. I do not know whether any of the hon. BJP Members had gone or not. What crime did Mohammad Rafiq Vohra had committed that in front of his house he was first attacked by swords, killed and then burnt? When his family telephoned the local police, the police asked them to go to Pakistan. It is there on record on NDTV. What crime had Ashfaq Ahamed committed that he was shot in the head? He used to work in a night showroom. What crime did Mohammad Ayaz - a boy of 17 years, a brother of three sisters - had committed? All this clearly shows the complicity, connivance, conspiracy, and open support by the Gujarat Government. But for their active support, this incident would not have happened. In the name of development, minorities have been destroyed.Under the Central Wakf Act of 1995, all Muslim places of worship, mosques, dargahs and graveyards are protected. How can any Government go and eliminate a wakf property? Has the concerned State Government conducted any proceedings? Has any order been issued? Nothing has been issued.We are talking about Gujarat only here. At the same time, on April 14, a bomb blast took place in Jama Masjid. I have a complaint here with the Government also. So far, not even a single person has been caught. A bomb blast took place in Benaras. Within 48 hours two youths were killed in an encounter in Delhi and one person was killed in Uttar Pradesh. After 25-30 days’ time, Maulana Waliullah and his associates were caught. Whenever a majority place of worship is attacked, immediately within 48 hours or even ten days five to six Muslim youths are killed in encounters. It happens as if you have a buffer stock of Muslim youths who can be killed any time. When Jama Masjid bomb blast took place, why was this not done? Who is responsible for the bomb blast in Jama Masjid? Why did Delhi Police have to say that it was not a terrorist act when it was a terrorist act? It is not found out as to who was behind that act.The next point is about Uttar Pradesh. We are talking so much about secularism over here. Fifty Muslim youths were hit above the waist in Aligarh. The National Minorities Commission has demanded a judicial inquiry. What action is the Government going to take?I was hearing the hon. Member from Shiv Sena. The hon. Home Minister represents that area, Nanded area. On 6th of April, 2006, a bomb blast took place in the house of Laxman Rajpodwar. They are known Bajrang Dal activists. It was a single bomb blast. Later on, Surya Pratap Gupta the Inspector General of Police of that area said that they were manufacturing bombs. The police confiscated a live IED bomb with a timer attached to it. It was a timer similar to the one that is used in the Jama Masjid bomb. So, who is responsible? Those people are known Bajrang Dal activists. Why is the Maharashtra Government not imposing the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act? What is stopping the Maharashtra Government from imposing that Act on them? Why is the Government of Maharashtra not requesting for a CBI inquiry so that the truth comes out? I am very surprised. Who is going to pay the price? In Ghatkopar bomb blast, Gateway of India bomb blast, all the people have been exoneratedI am really surprised that some upper caste chocolate boys do the demonstration in Mumbai; police do lathi charge; and an inspector is suspended.What about Ghatgopar bomb blast incident? Accused were exonerated. What about Nanded bomb blast incident? How many police people have been suspended? It shows that there is no value for a Muslim life over here.The UPA Government was formed to stop the obscurantist forces. It was a verdict against the communal forces. My main grievance and grudge is with this Government. We know what RSS stands for? Maybe, the Sangh Parivar is celebrating the centenary celebrations of Golwarkar and to pay huge tribute to him, they are indulging in all these activities.In Mahasamud district of Chhattisgarh, on April 23, 2006, a mosque was demolished. In fact, burnt. Koran scriptures were burnt over there. Who is responsible? But for the Sikh community, nearly 20 families would have been killed over there.Not only that, in Rajasthan, in Pali Town, Saint Milad-Un-Nabi procession was attacked. On 11th of April, in Kandura in Madhya Pradesh, Milad-Un-Nabi procession was attaked. There is an end to it.I would like to bring it to the notice of the hon. Minister that in Karnataka, in Budkal, Jagannath Shetty Commission has come out with its Report. There is a huge tension over there. I am bringing this to the notice of the hon. Minister that the Government should take immediate steps to ensure that this tension does not lead to communal riots.I would demand from the Central Government that it should pay compensation to the victims of Baroda. This Government should immediately come to the rescue. I know that it is a State subject. But people are asking that when Sikhs were killed, three lakh rupees were given as compensation, why not to Muslims. What is stopping the Central Government in giving monetary compensation to the people? I think, it is a very important issue.Justice Srikrishna Report is there. Secular Government is there in Maharashtra. The same person who used to say that if Justice Srikrishna Commission Report is implemented, Mumbai would burn. That man is in your Congress Party. Why do you not implement the Justice Srikrishna Commission Report. Nanded incident led this Government to pressurise the State Government there. Let them ask for a CBI inquiry in the Nanded incident. Bajrang Dal activitists were involved. These same people have committed crimes in Parbani and Jalna. I had been to the mosque over there. Unless and until the lives and liberty of minorities are safeguarded, this country cannot progress. If the feeling of insecurity is there, Sir, it is very bad for the nation. I hope the Government will take some corrective action.