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Mainstream, VOL L No 44, October 20, 2012

Heightening Anti-Graft Movement

EDITORIAL

Wednesday 24 October 2012, by SC

After the exposure of Robert Vadra’s land deals, concrete charges against Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid have come to the fore.

India Against Corruption (IAC) levelled serious allegations against Khurshid who was accused of having received Rs 71 lakhs from the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2009-10 for the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust run by his family (for helping disabled persons) on the basis of forged letters.

Subsequently it was reported that a letter purportedly signed by a UP Government official led the same Union Ministry to release Rs 68 lakhs for the Trust in March 2011; but on close inquiries it was found that the concerned official had retired in January 2011 and he himself asserted that his signature was actually forged.

IAC leaders, notably its head Arvind Kejriwal, have charged Khurshid with not just forging signatures but also embezzlement of funds. Khurshid and his wife refuted the allegations at a press meet on October 14—but their efforts eventually went in vain. Kejriwal held a counter-press meet to substantively answer all their points.
In the midst of this drama Khurshid has further complicated matters for himself and his party by openly threatening Kejriwal—he indicated that even if the latter goes to Farrukhabad (the Minister’s constituency) to campaign against Khurshid there, he may not be able to return; the Minister also rhetorically announced that the time had come to replace ink with blood. Even The Times of India unequivocally declared:

Such language is unbecoming of the country’s Law Minister. By using such terms, Khurshid has scripted a public relations disaster for the Congress. He should be sharply pulled up by the party leadership, if not asked to quit the Cabinet post.
Meanwhile returning to the Vadra episode, an IAS officer in Haryana was transferred soon after he took steps to probe the alleged irregularities in Vadra’s land deals—he ordered an inquiry into the alleged undervaluation of some properties regis-tered by Vadra or his companies; he is learnt to have also ordered the cancellation of the sale of a plot of land in Manesar-Shikohpur to the DLF.
This transfer of the officer by the Haryana Government clearly brings out the latter’s undue haste to prevent any inquiry into Vadra’s deals.

IAC leaders have now come out with a series of charges against BJP President Nitin Gadkari. Yesterday he was accused of having accepted favours from the Congress-NCP Government in Maharashtra. As Arvind Kejriwal noted,
This is a classic case of collusion among politicians. Land is acquired for public purpose but is gifted to the BJP leader at the cost of farmers. In return, Gadkari remains silent about the loot of Rs 70,000 crores meant for irrigation projects in the Vidarbha region.

Incidentally only a few days ago Congress leader Digvijay Singh had complained that the BJP, along with IAC, was targeting Vadra while the Congress when it was in Opposition never targeted the relatives of BJP leaders despite having full knowledge of the goings-on. Thus the Congress and BJP in effect scratch one another’s back.

It is indeed a bizarre situation in which public intervention, like the one initiated by IAC, needs to be intensified so that all the misdeeds of the powers that be are not only exposed but brought to a decisive end. That alone will heighten the countrywide anti-graft movement and completely isolate the guilty wherever they reside and which-ever offices they hold.

October 18 S.C.

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