Modi, Jaitley and black money:
Corruption is in the eye of the beholder
Way back in 1987 V P Singh launched his campaign against Rajiv Gandhi describing the Rajiv regime most corrupt and charged Rajiv with having compromised the security of the nation by buying inferior quality Bofors guns from Sweden in return for kickbacks worth millions of dollars.
One of the earliest public meetings he held was at the Maurice Nagar intersection right in the middle of Delhi University campus. It is there he took out a piece of paper from his Kurta pocket, because soon as he launched his campaign against the Congress government he changed his attire, abandoning his sherwanis and Karakul caps and instead moved around in the typical Allahabadi short kurtas and broad pyjamas, to convey the image of a common man, inspiring the slogan, “Raja nahin fakeer hai, Desh ki taqdeer hai.”
But we are digressing. He flourished a piece of paper and announced “I have the number of Swiss account here in which all the ill-gotten wealth has been deposited and when I become the Prime Minister within no time I would get back all the money and punish all those looting the public.”
The organizer and the moving spirit of that meeting was none other than our present day Finance Minister, an alumnus of Delhi University Law Facultyand the Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), stone’s throw from Maurice Nagar intersection, Arun Jaitley. V P Singh ruled for 11 months and left, and after him several governments came and left including the six year rule of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) wherein Jaitely held some very important portfolios including that of the nation’s Law and Justice Minister. For 24 years the Bofors case went on right upto 2011 but nothing came of it. Not because there was no substance in the allegations. Perhaps there was. But because there was a clear attempt to target selectively only the Gandhis and not expose all those who received kickbacks in the Bofors deal, evident right in the beginning.
The irony is that the political opponents of the Gandhi family, or rather the BJP and precisely speaking Jaitely kept beating the Gandhis with the stick of a Swedish Police constable Sten Lindstorm who leaked the information of kickbacks in the purchase of Bofors guns and even decades after he retired and demitted office, he continued implicating Sonia Gandhi in the Bofors gun deal. This campaign to malign and embarrass the Gandhis carried on, till they found a new stick the “Black money” to beat the Gandhis with. The initiators of that campaign included others too like Ram Jethmalani who later pleaded in the Rajya Sabha for closure of the case, but of him some other time.
Black money issue was first formulated by a task force constituted by LK Advani just before the 2009 general elections comprising of Advani’s think tank S Gurumurthy, AJit Doval, Mahesh Jethmalani and R Vaidyanathan a retired professor of IIM, Bangalore. In the runup to the 2009 general elections Advani released the “report” of this task force to the media at a well-attended press conference at his Prithviraj Road residence which named the Gandhi family as one of the defaulters who had stashed their wealth abroad and promised to get it back. He put this wealth at Rs 24 lakh crore.Advani, made this as the main plank for the 2009 general elections and even after losing the elections he made these claims in his speech in Parliament in 2011. Soon enough Sonia Gandhi challenged Advani to prove and substantiate his allegations and Advani backed out, apologizing to Sonia.
Burt the apology was just a ruse for the Sangh/BJP threw up a fresh face for the gullible electorate Narendra Modi widely publicised for his fabled development of his state Gujarat and with Congress/UPA having lost credibility because of widespread allegations of corruption, Modi carried on with the same campaign and succeeded in giving new impetus to the issue of black money, duly aided by the likes of Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev, even Arvind Kejriwal, and of course Ram Jethmalani.
Modi became the new knight in shining armour, incorruptible like V P Singh, the apostle of hope for the credulous youth. Curiously he too began his electoral journey for the 2014 general elections from Maurice Nagar and this time from the hallowed portals of SRCC. Jaitely smartly avoided attending it to prevent analysts from making the connection. Modi kept harping on the Black money theme throughout his campaign making the following public statements:
“People say that if the black money stashed in foreign bank accounts is brought back and distributed amongst the poor in India, then each poor man will pocket Rs 3 lakh each.” I am waiting for mine. In his eagerness at one point he promised to put Rs 15 lakhs in the account of each Indian, after recovering all the black money stashed abroad. Forget about 15, I’d be content with even three lakh. More from Modi:
“I have decided if you bless me and give me the opportunity I will bring back all the black money.”
“When we bring back the black money, we will give it to regular salary holders. We must honour their patriotism. Till the time we don’t bring black money, such thefts will continue. So to stop new thefts and such cases, all black money should be brought home to teach one and all a lesson.”
“I will bring back every rupee that is stored away in foreign banks, any which way, and ensure that it is used for the rehabilitation of the poor in the country.”
“LK Advani carried out a yatra at such an old age to bring about awareness about black money stashed away in foreign banks. Baba Ramdev has also taken up the issue, even the BJP is fighting this battle but the Congress is afraid of this fight.”
Till he assumed office he knew how much of Indian wealth was hidden in foreign banks and who all had it. His fellow traveller Baba Ramdev knew how much wealth was stashed away and where all. Advani did his last Rath Yatra from Sitabdara only to promise the return of black money, once the BJP returned to power.
The BJP and its trumpet blowers started hooting down the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee (now the country’s President) when he said he could not disclose the names of foreign account holders lest it jeopardise the diplomatic relations with important foreign nations. BJP leaders and their propagandists booed and jeered the UPA government as corrupt who had something to hide. On behalf of the BJP Jaitely and Modi led the charge. Even as recently as last week the Sanghis were circulating a SMS which gave out the names of some half a dozen people including that of Lalu Yadav saying he had billions stashed abroad in Swiss banks.
They bank on people’s short memory and mostly get away with it. Who remembers that the CBI hounded Lalu Yadav since 1997 jailed him, instituted a whole lot of cases against him alleging that he had amassed wealth to the tune of Rs 1000 crore. The chief legal campaigner against him was none other than the present day Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and the then Patna High Court bench comprising of Jha and Mukhopadhyaya directed the CBI to go and probe foreign banks to unearth Lalu’s “ill gotten wealth.” After years of hunting all over the world under a BJP government with Ravi Prasad himself a Central minister, the CBI submitted a charge sheet against Lalu during the NDA regime in the year 2000 which lists all his assets, movable and immovable at close to Rs 40 lakh. That’s it. But such is the destructive power of Sanghi propaganda that the entire Aryavrat believes that the most corrupt people in this country are only two Lalu Yadav and Sonia Gandhi.
Returning to the subject of black money, after all the brouhaha raised by Modi, Jaitley and other brethren of Sangh parivar, Jaitley now says that disclosure of names of those with black money stashed in foreign bank accounts is not only unauthorized but will violate the tax treaties and hamper investigations. Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram said the same thing but they were corrupt and anti-national because their leader was an Italian Sonia Gandhi.
Modi says I will bring back every pie. UPA said the same but then Modi said, “There is so much of wealth stored in foreign banks. But, the government at the Centre has done nothing to bring back the money. Hence, there are suspicions that the central government too has something to hide. People are going hungry but the government doesn’t care.”
Surely Modi must be right for he has already banished hunger from the country! After all Modi is a good man and means what he says and Jaitely is an honest man who never tells a lie.