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Millennium Post

Gassing the masses, gagging the leaders

The eerie silence on the part of the political collective, with a sole exception of AAP, over the quagmire of gas pricing exposes the rot that has been chipping away at the system for the longest time. Despite the FIR lodged by the former AAP-led Delhi government, not a single voice has come out against the corrupt and deeply compromised gas and energy giant Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), owned by the richest corporate tycoon in India, Mukesh Ambani. Laying bare a crony capitalism of the worst kind, the union cabinet’s approving the entirely arbitrary and unfair decision to double gas price from 1 April – despite RIL partner NIKO selling gas at one-quarter the price in our eastern neighbour Bangladesh – reeks of the well-known but hardly resented complicity between the political and corporate bodies. While one cannot expect even a single voice of brave commitment from the Congress-led UPA camp, which itself is responsible for spreading and intensifying the culture of nepotism with the political-corporate nexus, the disappointment really emanates from the principal opposition at the national level, whose mum response on this indispensable question is more than disconcerting. Narendra Modi, for all his economic visions of turning Indian cities into Shanghais and 21st century world cities sporting state-of-the-art roads, best of modern infrastructure and massive mega malls, has chosen to observe a studied silence on the issue of Mukesh Ambani’s countless instances of corruption and his relentless tweaking of public policies to bag deals at unimaginably lowered rates, effect cartelisation of utility prices and causing losses to the tune of lakhs of crores to the government exchequer. For all his rhetoric on bringing back black money from Swiss banks, why can’t Modi begin at home and bring to book one of the biggest corporate sharks in the country who has singlehandedly promoted the culture political bankruptcy and tinkered with fair economic growth?

It is obvious that the biggest corporate in India has influenced both the ruling regime and the chief opposition, the UPA and the NDA, to such an extent that not only has their compliance been bought off, but also, the ministers and candidates for legislature are actively furthering the cause of Mukesh Ambani, his brother Anil Ambani and the string of industries that they own. Be it the discoms or the energy companies, the Ambanis owe public sector banks and state-owned companies enormous sums of money. Yet, the union oil ministry doubles the gas price without batting an eyelid, without giving even the tiniest consideration to the criminal complaint lodged by the former Delhi government, the content of which clearly spells out the link between the gas pricing and poll funding, of both political camps. It is not clear what is to be the fate of the slew of other corruption cases that were under scanner of the Anti-Corruption Bureau of the former Delhi government, including the CWG streetlight scam and the Delhi Jal Board water meter discrepancies. Lamentably, the gag over gas has got no tongue wagging.
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