Weak defence rings hollow
People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones is an idiom which means that one should not criticise others if you have similar weaknesses yourself. This is the idiom which instantly springs to mind when Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj asserted that a senior Congress leader was pressing her hard to give a diplomatic passport to coal scam-accused Santosh Bagrodia. The problem is that BJP is making this case against the unknown Congress leader to be one of corruption. If that is what the BJP top brass thinks, then surely what Swaraj did was also corruption. By resorting to mudslinging, the BJP has inexorably weakened their own argument. At the same time, it is perplexing that the Congress is resorting to the sort of politics it had condemned when the BJP was in the opposition. In the eyes of the discerning general public, the more this Mexican standoff continues on the floor, the more ridiculous the oppositions obstructionist tendencies will appear to be. If what Sushma Swaraj really intends to do is clear her name in front of the general public, then she needs to answer some critical questions.
Assuming that Swaraj was moved by some deep humanistic impulse which lay ensconced in the fabric of her humanity, did the Ministry of External Affairs do due diligence before it issued the go-ahead to Lalit Modi. A few faxes and phone calls would have quickly established the nature of the procedure Lalit Modi’s wife was to undergo in the hospital and why her husband’s physical presence was required. At any rate, the Government of India had substantial resources at its disposal to quickly verify this aspect of Lalit Modi’s claim but it chose not to do so. Why? Does Prime Minister Modi believe that it is highly improper for Sushma Swaraj to have contacted Lalit Modi in 2013 for help in securing her nephew’s admission to a British university, when she held the constitutional position of Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha at the time? If he does, then why has he not addressed this issue. He has many avenues for this, including his Mann Ki Baat radio program. Swaraj’s daughter, Bansuri Swaraj, represented Lalit Modi before the Delhi High Court when the allegedly corrupt and definitely scandal-tainted mastermind behind the circus that the IPL is challenged the revocation of his passport by the government of India. Is this not a conflict of interest as well?
While the opposition benches go hammer and tongs browbeating the Minister of External Affairs, it is important to remember that there is a lot at stake in this current monsoon session of Parliament. Amongst others, key legislative reforms are being held up because the Modi government has decided to storm the weather inside the Parliament. Meanwhile, Sushma Swaraj has removed ‘Foreign Minister’ from her Twitter bio. Is it a sign of things to come? Will more heads roll? Only time will tell. Meanwhile post this experience the Narendra Modi government could think about formulating a conflict of interest ordinance, a functioning Lokpal, a non-pliant Central Vigilance Commission, and an effective code of conduct for ministers and public servants. Given that it is so gung-ho about a corruption free India, shouldn’t these be policy decisions it should contemplate at the earliest? This monsoon session will be an overcast one it seems.