Monday, September 24, 2012

No-we-Can't ... Power & Politics/The Sunday Standard/September 23, 2012


No-we-can’t (grow money on trees) Manmohan tune won't work




Crisis creates leaders. But there are few leaders who create crises and land themselves in it. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has acquired the unique distinction of creating many a crisis. When all was going well for the ruling party, his government was caught first in the Coalgate mess, and later in the wrongly timed tornado of economic reforms. Last week, he spoke from the heart about his agonising responsibility as the Prime Minister for about 20 minutes. Since it was his first address to the nation since 2009 (barring the routine Independence Day speech), the whole country was glued to TV screens. Manmohan’s admirers and global promoters were hoping he would reassert and rediscover himself. They expected him to say: “Yes, we can, we have and we shall deliver.” But when he finished his speech, more questions were raised about his political authority and future vision for change. His resolve to go down fighting was conspicuous by its absence. His tendency to take risks, however, was quite visible. Quite predictably, he won bouquets from Corporate India—his natural constituency—but brickbats from the alienated political constituency of middle and lower middle class India. He was expected to lead with prime ministerial elan. Instead, he ended up parroting the same palliatives and prescriptions which were earlier being trotted out by his erudite and articulate ministerial colleagues.


Manmohan’s economics was right but his equations were wrong. Since he spoke in Hindi, his speech was meant to score a political point. He justified the massive rise in diesel prices because “money doesn’t grow on trees”—a phrase normally used by mediocre politicians. Eyebrows were raised because public expenditure has grown due to the expansion of the government, massive concessions to India Inc, the allotment of natural resources to the private sector, runaway prices and the government’s reluctance to tax the rich and mighty. Manmohan’s political rivals have challenged his contention that diesel prices were raised to prevent users of luxury vehicles from taking advantage of the subsidy. They assert that the Prime Minister conveniently forgot that diesel is the major fuel for farmers to run water pumps, tractors and even power. Over 90 per cent of it is consumed by rural India, the public transport system and power generators so that smaller towns and villages can survive. In spite of the UPA regime adding a record 50,000 MW power generation capacity, more than three-fourths of India gets power for less than eight hours per day. Most of these moribund power plants are sick testimonies to the failure of the leadership to ensure proper coal and gas linkages for generation of electricity. As a result, banks have accumulated huge, dubious loans and the nation has been deprived of power, which could have been a source of massive income and employment for the country.

But the beauty of statistical narration is that it can tell two contradictory stories at the same time. Being an economist, the Prime Minister used numbers to numb his opponents. But they recovered to throw another set of figures back to prove his economics irrelevant. It was clear from the confrontationist political discourse that the Prime Minister and his advisers haven’t learnt the art of creating a consensus even on good economics. The government hasn’t treated its allies with the respect they deserve. The Trinamool Congress made it clear that it wasn’t consulted on any of the latest policy issues. The Coordination Committee was revived under pressure from Sharad Pawar to resolve contentious matters. Being a loner, the Prime Minister hardly meets political leaders—from other parties or his own—to discuss and get feedback on various subjects. The usual convention of meeting MPs in groups during Parliament sessions has become a rarity. Some senior Congress leaders feel that Manmohan could have taken the initiative to open a dialogue with all the stakeholders and convince them of his roadmap for economic recovery. He could have called meetings of all the chief ministers, leaders of all political parties and even prominent policy-makers to explain his compulsions. Such an exercise would have given powerful ammunition to be used against his opponents.

Unfortunately, even after more than eight years in office, the Prime Minister hasn’t evolved into a consensus builder, which is an essential condition to successfully lead a coalition government. With his hard stand on questionable reforms, not only has he lost an ally, it has also led to another round of deal-makings and concessions to “win over new friends”. The Congress can’t retain power until 2014 by following Manmohan’s economic agenda and retaining its allies at the same time. To ensure a semblance of stability, the party will have to compromise on policies or face the elections earlier. It is no longer in a position to have its cake and eat it, and that too alone.

prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com; Follow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Mulayam Singh Yadav on Teekhi Baat, IBN7/September 22, 2012

'Manmohan should not threaten the Opposition'



Interview with  Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav for Teekhi Baat on IBN 7.

video


PC: Is it true that your party men believe that you should be and are going to be future Prime Minister

MSY: I cannot speak on this issue because becoming a Prime Minister is not an ordinary thing. And if there is a feeling among party workers, some journalist friends, I respect those feelings.
PC: If you get a chance, you will keep in mind the feelings of party workers. You said it is difficult, but what if you get a chance?
MSY:  I don’t see any chance.
PC: Don’t your party men believe that your number of MP’s will increase
MSY: Lok Saba members would increase. But till now I have not thought whether I would become Prime Minister. And it is true that I have not even thought.
PC: Not you’ve started to think after sensing emotions of party workers
MSY: Not thought.
PC: You made Deve Gowda the Prime Minister
MSY: It is true that I supported Deve Gowda saab.
PC: You supported Gujral saab too
MSY: I did, and Comrade Surjeet was with me, he extended support.
PC: Surjeet also proposed your name
MSY: Surjeet also proposed my name. But when I took Deve Gowda’s name, then Surjeet saab supported me.
PC: Then why didn’t you become
MSY: Both of us together supported Deve Gowda
PC: When he took your name first, you should have become PM
MSY: Now there were some people
 PC: They opposed you

 MSY:  They opposed me
PC: You don’t want to take their names
MSY: There is no need to take their names
PC: One of them is no more
MSY: The whole country knows the name
PC: Nobody knows, only if you tell
MSY: The whole country knows
PC: I don’t know, I was around then
MSY: It is not the moment to tell now
PC: One of people who opposed is not around now
MSY: Leave that issue.
PC: Let me come to the current political scenario, you would have listened to Prime Minister’s speech yesterday. He said that we will not take back the decisions on FDI, hike in diesel prices and other works that we did, and will take more tough measures. Do you agree?
MSY: Prime Minister should not issue threats in this manner. He said that the decisions taken are in farmers interest, but they are against the interest of farmers. The whole decision is anti farmer. Farmers would be the worst affected due to this.
PC: But he threatened and said that the people who are misleading by opposing, now even you are opposing this policy. Hence, Mulayam Singh Yadav, or other parties who were opposing these things are really misleading people
MSY: We were not alone to oppose it, there were 8 parties. The whole opposition was opposing.
PC: Are you misleading
MSY: It is a democracy, in a democracy Prime Minister should have called opposition leaders to make them understand and explain what he wanted to say, that this is our policy. We could have also given our opinion regarding some changes needed. Then it would have been good and the Prime Minister’s respect would have increased. But Prime Minister is threatening now, that is why we are opposing.
PC: Will you reply to the threat
MSY: Being a Prime Minister and speaking in this manner with the opposition was not good
PC: He also said that money does not grow on trees,  the expenditure of the government has increased.
MSY: Don’t know if he was angry or what was the reason. But looking at the way he was speaking, he did not seemed normal. Prime Minister is Prime Minister, if he says, we will listen, to disagree with oppose policies if the job of the opposition. But he should have spoken in a good manner, and told the opposition that they should speak to him if they had any doubts. He should have explained them that he is taking bringing these policies in the interest of the country, farmers and poor people.  
PC: Watching the Prime Minister’s speech, you felt that not a Prime Minister, but an economist was speaking
MSY: Prime Minister was speaking
PC: But his language
MSY: The language of the Prime Minister should not be such. ]
PC: You don’t agree, nobody should be threatened
MSY: Take it as threat or their resolve to do it.
PC: He made it clear yesterday, you do any amount of dharna, protests, on the streets, we will further increase rates, keep the economic policies going, then Mulayam Singh Yadav, who will with poor and farmers
MSY: I am clear I will speak for the public. Will go among the people, tell them the decision is against the interest of the farmer, poor and labourers. If the government could have not done anything else, they should have said that they will give employment so many people by bringing this policy, who will they give employment, they should give employment to unemployed. If we talk about shop keepers and traders, the trader poor fellow will work for them. He has not business other than the trade he does.
PC: What pressure you would build on the government to take back these policies
MSY: Let them take back the policies or not, we will keep on saying that the policies are not in interest of the nation.
PC: Will you put no pressure for taking them back
MSY: They have refused to take them back.
PC: You can bring a proposal in the Parliament
MSY: We will oppose in parliament when the session is held.
PC: If you have 20-22 MP’s you can bring a proposal demanding that the government should go back on these steps
MSY: We will speak against their policies which are wrong. But we work to keep communal forces at bay, and if will pull out support now
PC: I am not talking of support, I am telling that the government will not fall if you bring a proposal to take back these policies
MSY: We will oppose
PC: But not brig a proposal
 MSY: When the Lok Sabha session is on, we will call a party meeting and take a decision on this. Then there are leaders of other parties, we will speak to them, it will not work if we are alone
PC: Mamta said she will bring a proposal that these policies need to be withdrawn, she is not communal, you don’t consider he to be communal?
MSY:  Mamta is not communal, she is secular. On many occasion, she has supported me against communal forces
PC: If she bring a proposal that FDI should be rolled back, diesel prices should lessened.
MSY: We will not oppose the proposal tabled by Mamtaji.
PC: Will you support it or not
MSY: What does it mean if I am saying I will not oppose
PC: No no, what if you abstain
MSY: No we will not oppose her proposal. We will also call a meeting of our parliamentary board. There is still time for that.
PC: You will not oppose, the party will decide whether you will support Mamtaji’s proposal or not
MSY: We will support, and it may be possible that our party tables the proposal
PC: This can happen
MSY: Can happen
PC: Because parliament has not vetted the decision that have been taken. Many times parliament does not vet such policies because government has powers to pass such orders
MSY: It is a straight thing, I we oppose, we will oppose it everywhere. May be if the government is enlightened, they will take back the policy before a proposal is tabled.  
PC: You are saying that you are supporting this government as communal forces may come to power. How can a BJP with 116 seats form a government Mulayam Singhji, you made an excuse?
MSY: Even other people are supporting them.
PC: Till you don’t support the government cannot be formed
MSY: Others are supporting them
PC: Even then the tally is 150
MSY: No, it is more than 150
PC: May be 160, 180, you have to make it clear to people and media that a government of communal forces cannot be formed in this Lok Sabha. You are not withdrawing support, when according to you all policies of Congress are anti people, anti aam aadmi,
MSY: We will vote against these policies, will speak against these policies. We will do all that
PC: But you will not withdraw from the government
MSY: It is not the time to withdraw support from the government. We will oppose the anti people proposals that they are bringing and will vote against them.
PC: You have given a letter of support to the President
MSY: We have given support to run the government, have we given it from them to bring what ever proposal they want and do whatever they want to do.
PC: Have you extended support to run the government or in the interest of the common people
MSY:  We will support whatever is in the interest of the common man and will oppose anti people policies.  
PC: Do you consider the incumbent government anti people or not, today’s policies
MSY: The policies that are being proposed are anti people, and we will oppose these policies
PC: In the house also
MSY: In the house and among the people.
PC: But will not go to the President to write a letter
MSY: No, that is a different thing.
PC: It is anti people you said
MSY: We will oppose in the Lok Sabha and outside.
PC: You said that you will support the proposal in the Lok Sabha (Mamta’s proposal)
MSY: We cannot oppose it, when her proposal is tabled, against the anti people policies, how can we oppose it. We ourselves are opposing it. When Samajwadi Party is opposing it, then how can we oppose the proposal?
PC: Whatever proposals a secular party tables, that you will support, but not others.
MSY: They will oppose, we will also oppose. Both of us together will oppose.
PC: As a proposal and otherwise too
MSY: Yes, even our party can bring a proposal. Now we will decide how we will oppose, they party will decide
PC: I feel that you are still not clear whether to trouble the government or not
MSY: I never go into confusion, we too have a party and a big party, the third largest, but the parliamentary board will decide. Now we will decide on the proposal that is to be tabled (by Mamta). But now we will not withdraw our support to the government.
 PC: You will not oppose the proposal that Mamta will bring
MSY: We will not oppose, may be our party may bring the proposal.
PC: To roll back the policies
MSY: Yes. And in the Lok Sabha we will tell the Prime Minister, the government to take back the policies. From your medium, we appeal to the Prime Minister, let this time not come in the Lok Sabha, before that take back the proposal.
PC: Otherwise you can bring a proposal in the Lok Sabha
MSY: To bring a proposal, not bring a proposal, or oppose it, is one and the same thing.
PC: But you appealed to the Prime Minister that withdraw before the Lok Sabha session, let that time not come
MSY: Yes, we will oppose.
PC: After that he will be responsible for what happens in the Lok Sabha
MSY: We will oppose, that is why we want them to take back earlier. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teekhi Baat with Yashwant Sinha/IBN7/September 15,2012


video

Interview with senior BJP leader and former union finance minister Yeshwant Sinha for Teekhi Baat on IBN7

PC: You do so much sweet talk, you must do some Teekhi Baat too. One does not whether BJP leaders are with the government or not. Who are you with?

YS: Don’t you know? You keep so much information about the BJP and are asking me?

PC: The BJP I knew, that BJP is over.

YS: You are being unfair to me

PC: When I read the standing committee, I felt that you want to help the government, unleash reforms, bring the insurance and other bills. When we follow speeches, we feel only Yeshwant Sinha wants the government to fall, all the others are hand in glove.

YS: You will have to see both the things in different light. The standing committee of parliament is an all party committee. In every standing committee, a member makes a point of view moving above the party and the political viewpoint. The whole committee felt that these decisions need to be taken to bring about an improvement in the economy. That report was made and presented before the parliament. And the political viewpoint that you are talking about, that differs from the committee’s point of view, in that I protest.

PC: You don’t do politics in committee, but outside you do

YS: This is a very good thing about the Indian democracy that commonly there is no politics in committees.

PC: The past session of parliament you did not let happen. But instead of constructive attitude, you attempt to cripple the government by opposing on every issue. Isn’t this is a result of shock that the party is in.

YS: I don’t know on what basis are you saying that what we decide in committee, we don’t support it in the house.

PC: When the parliament does not function, how would it happen?

YS: When parliament functions, it happens, this time it didn’t as 12-15 days the session did not happen

PC: The whole session was a washout

YS: No, even then, two bills were passed. I personally know that there was a consensus, and those two bills were passed.

PC: Those happened in the first two days

YS: No, not in the first two days, but amidst shouts and commotion. And we had no objections in those, hence we told the government that pass those

PC: The IIT one, AIIMS type institution, in which your states too were going to get benefit

YS: There were two. Regarding the working of the government, based on my knowledge I want to give two-three examples. This government brought direct access code bill, this was initiated when Chidambaram was finance minister, then it came to Pranab Mukherjee, he finalized it and presented it before the parliament, then it came to our committee, our committee gave a serious thought to it, gave its request to the house, and with satisfaction I want to tell that the requests, recommendations that we gave, were welcomed, that they were mature recommendations. After that it went to the government, the government put the GAAR chapter in the budget, which should not have been done, after that when Pranab Mukhrjee relinquished charge, Manmohan Singh came, formed Parsarthy Shome committee, that you look into the issue, then said to postpone it for three years. Now the incumbent finance minister saying that we will not implement the Direct Access Code bill from April 1, 2013, we postpone it. One example, when you presented the bill after putting thought to it, then what is the meaning of thinking two, three, four times. Second example is of land acquisition, it is very important, even that the government presented after putting a lot of thought to the issue, then it went to the standing committee, which gave its report, after that this government made GoM, the GoM’s request went to the cabinet, and five ministers of this government opposed the bill,

PC: What do you mean to say?

YS: I want to say that without thinking or understanding, as far as legislations are concerned, this government acts first, then starts thinking.

PC: Then it fails?

YS: Yes, that is why it is failing. In today’s time, there are 11 bills for which our standing committee has given its report, which are pending for eleven years, who is responsible?

PC: I understand what you are saying. The last session of budget did run, the one before that was a washout, every time it happens, like the prices of diesel was increased by Rs. 5, you party went behind them with a stick,

YS: Certainly

PC: But when you were the finance minister, you also increased the prices of fuel many times. 10-12 times you also increased. You are opposing everything but what would you have done in the current situation we are in

YS: I replied to such a question in the house too, because the Congressmen asked such a question. I said when we increased prices, did you welcome me on Vijay Chowk, garlanded me? What did you do? You used to with a garland of shoes on junctions,

PC: Tit for tat?

YS: Tit for tat will happen in today’s politics. Because even the Congress, the current Prime Minister is such a big economist, show me his one statement stating what Yeshwant Sinha did was right and we should not oppose.

PC: It shows behaviour revenge in you

YS: Then what behaviour are they showing, even today.

PC: They are running the government in today’s times

YS: No, they are running the government on the one side and attacking the Bharatiya Janta Party one the other. It seems as if we are in the government, and they are in opposition, and they are attacking, and we are less aggressive than them.

PC: Yeshwant Sinha, it is their job, they increased prices of diesel by Rs. 5, before that of petrol

YS: I will support today’s decision if Manmohan Singh stands up today and apologize to the nation that when NDA government had increased prices, and we opposed, then we had committed a mistake, today was request and apology for the same, let them do it

PC: You are opposing it politically

YS: Certainly. Politics will happen, what world do you live in? And I would like to tell you that in this country if you want consensus on issues of economic progress, then there should be one code of conduct for everybody. And not implemented for today, for the next two years, but for all the coming times. Let us sit down and work out that code of conduct.

PC: You are sitting and threatening the government, Yeshwant Sinha, who is listened to more these days than earlier times, that you will not let the government take any economic step, with a revengeful feeling

YS: No, I did not say this

PC: You said, politics, tit for tat?

YS: I said that they should look within, sir, out of the 65 years, we have been in government for only six years, all other times, these people were in power. Then they opposed us for six years. Today why do you expect that we will support them.

PC: In the country’s interest, you talk of nation’s interest

YS: Wasn’t it in the interest of the country then? When their time comes you will say let them go, when our times gives you will give us lessons in merit. I want the nation’s economic progress. I want to give you an example, their pension fund bill, which would not have been presented in the Lok Sabha, if the BJP would not have given immediate support. After that when Pranab Mukherjee was finance minister, he held discussions with us, we told them to accept some suggestions, he immediately agreed to those, even then who are holding those bills till today? These have been held by their own alliance partner Trinamool Congress, and then what should we do now?

PC: You are opposing FDI in retail

YS: We are opposing on grounds of principles.

PC: But it was tabled during your time

YS: Not in our time, during their time.

PC: You are opposing just to oppose

YS: FDI in retail is a big issue, hence cannot discuss it in full on Teekhi Baat

PC: I know it cannot be discussed in full

YS: FDI in retail is a big issue, and we have a principled opposition, that is why we are opposing.

PC: Prime Minister is an economist, why does he want to do FDI in retail, he is trying to build consensus for the past three years.

YS: This is the tragedy, that an economist Prime Minister cannot understand these simple things.

PC: You mean he didn’t study his economics right

YS: May be, he wouldn’t have

PC: What would you have done the kind of condition that is prevailing?

YS: This is not a hypothetical question for me, that what would I have done, if I had been.

PC: You should have an agenda to be one?

YS: We have an agenda and we have done it and shown. I have never said that what will I do when I will become finance minister, I was finance minister for five years of this country, and we have shown, and you have to remember that the current international situation that is prevailing, the situation was much more tougher when we had come to power.

PC: When you came for first time you came when Chandrashekhar was Prime Minister, you sold god

YS: We did not sell

PC: You mortgaged the country

YS: We saved the country, and proudly I want to tell, that people today realize that nation saving work that we did

PC: You don’t have any magic want, you yourself admitted that to doing political opposition, there is no merit based opposition.

YS: It is not so, you are putting words into my mouth. I want to make it clear, that when we took a step forward on the basis of merit. Then the Congress party, with Manmohan Singh, and other capable people, then used to continuously oppose us. If they accept their mistake, then we are ready to speak to them on merit.

PC: But it seems to me that you don’t want to debate because you don’t want to face the truth

YS: The debate that you are talking about

PC: Not only coal gate but everything.

YS: There has been a debate on every issue. I started a debate on inflation in Lok Sabha, not only discussion happened, but a proposal was passed, that the government would immediately take steps to control inflation. What happened to that? Sir, only the proposal was passed

PC: You have studied economics, also while preparing for IAS, have been finance minister, all over the world, the growth rate of inflation stops, but inflation keeps on happening. It is a natural process? 10 per cent, 9 per cent, 8 per cent, 6 per cent

YS: Sometimes 1, sometimes, 3,

PC: Yes

YS: It is essential .When you as what program do you have, if we want to improve the starting point of the economy, then the starting point should be inflation. If you cannot control inflation, you cannot control interest rate, if you cannot control interest rate, then there would be no investment, if investment will not happen, then there would be no goods coming to the market. If the good done come, then you again get stuck in a vicious cycle and the price of the goods would keep on increasing.

PC: The question is from 1991 to 1996, Narsimha Rao and Manmohan Singh started a reform process, not delving into whether it benefitted or not, but want to say that the Congress lost after that. You came to power, you kept continued, kept policies going. What happened in the country, from 1991 to 2012, the population of poor has increased. The rich population have become richer. The one with one aircraft has 20 now. The net worth of industrialist has risen from 1 billion dollars to 50 billion dollars. Dosen’t it seen that both the parties are responsible for making the rich, richer, and the poor, even poorer, policies of both the parties.

YS: We reject this charge,

PC: What happens in stock market, if it rises Yeshwant Sinha’s popularity rises, otherwise it comes down. Even P Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh see the stock market

YS: Stock market has to be seen and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana should also be started. Who started Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana? Who introduced Kisan Credit Card ? If today, twelve crore farmer families have Kisan Credit Card, sir that work of the NDA government. If today the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana is reaching every village, that is our work. If we started the water shed mission, we started it so that the irrigation should spread across farms. We started to make godowns, so that farmers should benefit. We have taken a lot of steps for the farmers benefit.

PC: Even after that more farmers are committing suicide, irrigation is still inadequate, there is no rainfall and people are in trouble,

YS: If in six years, we would have solved all the problems of the world, then it would have been the end of history. One needs time, the work that has not been done in 40-45 years, it takes time to do that. It is not an easy issue

PC: You said you did lot of good work. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was most successful, a lot of roads were made, which were not made later after that. But even then, you lost two elections, one after the other, somewhere there is something amiss

YS: You have asked a very good question, let me supplement it, during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee times, very good work did happen of building national highways.

PC: 11 km road per day average road was made

YS: Yes, after that start form West Bengal to Haryana, Punjab, I saw the figures, national highway number two, which is also known as Sher Shah Suri Marg, it had 14 such constituencies, in which Bharatiya Janta Party had won, in the 1998 elections, in the 2004 elections, we lost all those seats. Why? Road were made, it is not that the road wasn’t made, road was made, but the people did not link the road with the votes. This is a big question which you should think on that what you are saying is development, how much it affected voting during elections?

PC: Means development alone dosen’t work

YS: That has its own momentum,

PC: The slogan of development

YS: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

PC: Let me come to coal gate, does corruption work then? You did not let the parliament function on the issue of coal gate. Many of your chief ministers are involved in that.

YS: You are saying wrong, totally. But I want to say that it is very difficult to say what works in elections. I have fought many elections, I don’t know how many have you contested

PC: Not even one, barring teacher association of Delhi University

YS: I have fought many elections, lost and won. And let me tell you it is very difficult to say what issue would work in which elections. And what issue will work where. Let me give you an example of Chattisgarh and Jharkhand, In Chattisgarh, we won 10 out of 11 seats in one election. In Jharkhand we lost 13 out of 14 seats. Both states are neighbouring, what was the air which was different in Jharkhand and different in Chattisgarh. Why? Because issues are different.

PC: I am coming to coal gate because, you politics changed so much ,you became negative, why did you run away in coal gate, Yeshwant Sinha is so aggressive normally in Lok Sabha, it seems that the villain of the show is Yeshwant Sinha, but you people are hand in glove.

YS: I dismiss the assertion that people are hand in glove. The allegation that you are levelling time and again is not right. The whole Bharatiya Janta Party fought on the issue of coal gate.

PC: In New Indian Express, we published a letter of Munda saab, that give a certain coal block to certain company, it was allotted in two days

YS: You are doing a big mistake, it is a duty of the chief minister of a state to request, the decision is to happen in the central government. When did we say that if somebody made a request that means that every request is wrong, I am saying it is a matter of investigation that which request was wrong and which was right. And today a CBI investigation is on because of the appeal made by two BJP MP’s, Prakash Javdekar and Hansraj Ahir, they first wrote a letter to CVC, and then CVC told the CBI to investigate. The investigation is happening because we demanded. If we had something to hide, would our two MP’s come ahead and demand an investigation. And today in the CBI investigation, the facts that are coming forward, layer by layer, who is getting exposed in that?

PC: Many Congress people names are coming, your number will also come?

YS: Let it come, we will see

PC: In spectrum Pramod Mahajan’s name is going to come, you are the one who was creating the most coming in JPC of 2G

YS: No name of his is going to come , don’t go by the newspapers. I am a member of the JPC, I know what the facts are. But today I am not in a position to reveal them. But I will tell you that we fear no investigation. In 2g, the scam happened form 2007-08, they said that they will investigate from 1998, we said do it. They said that they will investigate, allocation of coal blocks during NDA tenure, do it

PC: but this negative approach, in coal gate

YS: We are not negative,

PC: Then why don’t you do discussion in parliament

YS:We are doing discussion in Janta Ki Panchayat

PC: Janta ki Panchayat, then what is the Parliament for? Is the parliament there for making laws or not? You are elected ,Yeshwant Sinha has been elected by the people.

YS: Remember 2G, the winter session of 2010 was consumed by it, because we told the parliament to form a JPC, the government said they will not form. And the whole session went by.

PC: After that JPC was formed

YS: After that JPC was formed. Then who is responsible,

PC: But this time you have not made demand for JPC

YS: We are not demanding, because there is no meaning of JPC.

PC: Even JPC is political now

YS: It has become political, PAC has become political. The way of working of the Congress party, that is to engage in corruption and then to keep on denying it. Then if anybody is involved, keep on denying that too. Make attempts to save people till the end. And then create form problem in the investigation,

PC: Then why people, allies, don’t stand with you. During earlier times, a lot of people used to be with you. Why nobody is ready to stand by you? Has the BJP’s credibility gone so low,

YS: There is no loss of credibility sir, in the coming days, as we come near the elections, the issues will come forth. Why are you getting excited from now?

PC: At you place the discussion is who will become Prime Minister, and your allies say he will become Prime Minister, we will not let Modi become Prime Minister

YS: This should happen, it is a democratic country, there should be discussions held on every issue. And it is a very important issue, that who will be the BJP’s Prime Minister. And if we get a chance, a discussion should be held on that, the more the discussion, the better

PC: Nitish Kumar says, you deputy chief minister there says.

YS: It is no decision, it is discussion. When the time comes, a decision would be taken.

PC: At your place the fight is over people, not ideological.

YS: Whatever is happening now, all is in the realm of discussion, when the right time comes, decision would be taken.

PC: What is the party ideology, should the party’s prime ministerial candidate be announced in time or not

YS: That would be decided when the time comes.

PC: Why do you feel

YS: I don’t feel anything.

PC: You name is not coming anywhere

YS: How would my name come, I am a ordinary party worker. Ordinary Member of Parliament, won only three times, and what experience do I have? Only of finance and external ministry, some of government service, then how somebody like me can become Prime Minister of this country

PC: You are very active these days, you have started doing press conferences, do you think session would run in future.

YS: Which

PC: The coming session

YS: When the next session comes, we will announce our strategy, at appropriate time

PC: Which means this strategy was limited to this session

YS: Daily strategy is decided.

PC: You said that your demand stands till the Prime Minister does not resign

YS: Please listen, our leader of opposition in Lok Sabha said, she tried to find a way out,

PC: To listen to two conditions

YS: But the government did not listen. Who is responsible then?

PC: The two conditions were to cancel allocation the other was to enquiry under Judge, till the next session many would be cancelled

YS: Let see what happens.

PC: Now Prime Minister’s resignation is no condition

YS: Certainly, it is a condition, we have never left it. But the discussion that the parliament should function, parliament should function in what condition; we said that do this, then the session would run. We will demand this to the Prime Minister

PC: Last question, you have been finance minister, the incumbent Prime Minister has been finance minister and Prime Minister, if you have to give a brief about the today’s economic policy and politics, what would that be?

YS: I will say that to run the economic policy, a leadership is needed, a strong leadership, which is lacking heavily in this government.

PC: And politics

YS: There is no politics, Prime Minister is not a politician.

PC: Do you have leaders as alternative

YS: Many are there.

PC:You have economic policy and leader

YS: Yes.

PC: Let see what in store in future. Thank you for coming to our studio.

YS: Thank you, Prabhuji !

A Good Report... /Power & Politics/The Sunday Standard/September 16, 2012

A good report in New York won’t necessarily ensure victory in New Delhi


Excess is bad. Excessive romance with reforms is turning out be worse. During the past two decades, money-minded market movers have not only defined the politics of economics, but also dictated the narrative of governance. For them, it is conspicuous consumption and visible economic power, and not eradication of poverty, that are real growth symbols. They feel that our elected representatives always abhor good economics because it is bad politics. It is only in India that bookworms-turned-economists decide the definition of good politics and pompously prescribe prescriptions for economic revival. They are determined to destroy the concept of a welfare state which strikes a balance between liberalisation and the equitable distribution of prosperity.

Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finally woke up from his deep slumber to prove his Cassandras wrong. Within 48 hours, he approved FDI in retail, foreign investment in aviation and disinvestment in profitable PSUs. This came immediately after a massive rise in diesel prices and the rationing of subsidised LPGs. All these proposals had been pending with him for the past two years. But he had refused to move. When he finally did, it was mainly to counter the foreign media’s acerbic attacks and to influence rating agencies. His brave words of wisdom were meant less to dispel the impression of an underperformer or a leader of a paralysed government and more to do with keeping his foreign, and not domestic, constituency in good humour. Unfortunately, unlike his many predecessors, including Indira Gandhi who treated motivated foreign opinion-makers with the contempt they deserved, Manmohan and his team start shivering when confronted with any scathing attack from the non-voting classes based in India and abroad. According to senior Congress leaders, many ministers believe that Team Manmohan is convinced that a successful flirtation with New York will ensure victory in New Delhi for him and the Congress.

But his emphasis was once again on good economics which was perceived as bad politics, not only by a large section of his own party but even by his powerful allies. Unlike in the past, the Congress party is totally isolated on an issue which should have been seen as a step in the right direction. It is another story that the Prime Minister was pushed by aggressive New Age reformers like Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to bite the bullet. But the packaging of the revived reforms also reignited the ongoing war between good economics and good politics. Big Bang Friday was yet another example of the Prime Minister taking the right decisions at the wrong time. Plagued with a rising fiscal deficit, the government is left with no other option but to tighten its belt and rationalise subsidies. Since the past few years, UPA II has been forced to announce various welfare schemes that take away over 20 per cent of its revenue. It has also been forced to be liberal with the corporate sector, which has hugely benefitted from massive tax concessions. The government has forgone revenue of over `5 lakh crore as dole to India Inc. This growing profligacy is eroding the government’s credibility. During the past eight years, the government hasn’t shown any serious concerns about the rising cost of governance. The nation is being governed by the largest-ever Cabinet since Independence. In addition, the Prime Minister has accommodated two dozen fellow travellers from the corporate sector and retired civil servants by giving them Cabinet status. In the name of protecting consumer interests, a large number of regulatory institutions have been established which have added more to the woes of the same people they are expected to protect. New departments, commissions, panels and expert groups have been created to advise the government on various issues which haven’t been resolved.

Unfortunately, huge monetary concessions to the corporate sector have been termed as good economics. Here lies the total disconnect between good politics and good economics. Our reform-minded politicians have failed to conceive a framework of good politics which leads to correct economic decisions. Since the only objective of our politicians is to retain power at any cost, they would also like to make their electoral constituency rich and educated. Investment in education, health, rural connectivity, drainage systems and agro-industry can turn good politics into better economics. It will spur demand, and also help the local political leader to encourage crony capitalism at the village level. Chief ministers like Narendra Modi, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Sheila Dikshit, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Oommen Chandy have resorted to the good politics of inclusive growth by encouraging domestic investment in core sectors to generate employment. They have invented schemes that make good economic sense and rewarding politics. They have won repeated mandates not because they were fighting for FIIs and endorsement from the Pink papers. They had devised an agenda, which included little for the rich and more for the poor and the middle class. All these states have registered high GDP growth in which the social and infrastructure sector has made huge contributions. Even the Congress leadership has realised that it can’t allow good economics to replace good politics. The Congress dilemma would be to find a Vishnugupta who can play both Chanakya and Kautilya to prove a good politician can also be a good economist and not vice-versa.

prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Teekhi Baat with Kareena Kapoor & Madhur Bhandarkar/IBN7/September 16, 2012


video

Interview with bollywood superstar Kareena Kapoor and director Madhur Bhandarkar on IBN 7
PC: Whom should I start questioning first?
MB: Ladies First
PC: Madhur, you seem to have the instincts of an investigative reporter
MB: If not an film-maker, I surely would have been a journalist. People have a perception that Madhur is an investigative journalists who tackles issues via films. I say I explore the issues, they say I expose it.
PC: You wanted Aishwarya Rai as a heroine, even she is a good heroine
MB: I and Kareena always wanted to work together. From many year we were meeting and talking on scripts
PC: You are speaking like a politician
MB: I am not speaking like a politician but you interview a lot of politicians hence you have more idea
PC: You first choice was Aishwarya Rai
MB: No, first we offered the movie to Kareena Kapoor , but dates were an issue.
PC: Hence it is wrong to say that your first choice was Aishwarya Rai
MB: First choice was Kareena Kapoor
PC: Your first choice was Kareena
MB: Yes, it was Kareena.
PC: Did he come to you
KK: That time, I was shooting for five films, Bodyguard, Ra One and other films.
PC: Were you getting something more in those films
KK: No, there was an issue with the dates
PC: The kind of publicity that you are doing for the movie Heroine, all that glitters is not gold. I saw you first movie Chandni Baar, you started with a heroine oriented film. There was a philosophy behind the film, in heroine, it is commercialization.
MB: No, Prabhuji, eleven years ago the budgets were different.
PC: I am talking about the theme
MB: Theme was surely different then, but as a filmmaker I have evolved since then. Even I want to have more audience. The budget of Chandni Baar was only 1.5 crore, which is the cost of Kareena’s clothes in this film, around 1.45 crore.
PC: I would not ask about the fees then
MB: Prabhuji, time has changed, Chandni Baar had released in 2001.
PC: But the theme does not change
MB: If you see Chandni Baar, Page three, Corporate, Traffic Signal, Jail. In any movie, I have not left the Madhur Bhandarkar’s touch of reality.
PC: Mahur Bhandakar has a certain scepticism, critical mind, which was seen in every film. In Chandni Bar you dealt with the women abuse issue.
MB: World are different, that was a bar world, Heroine is about film world.
PC: In fashion , you have shown the condition of the model after she trips from the ramp
MB: Prabhuji, that happens in every field, even in politics it happens. One politician is hovering, but when his downfall comes, you know how it is. What happens in film industry, it can happen in any field. Be it corporate world, film industry or politics. If there is a good patch, then there is a bad patch too.
PC: It is true, but Madhur Bhandarkar’s these of exploitation
MB: It is not exploitation sir. When you make a film, you look at all angles. A film is made from so many angles, so much of money goes into its making that it has to have a commercial element. Henc, I have not said that my films are preachy. I have not said that my movies are judgemental. My films are a mirror of society.
PC: How is the difference between the Madhur Bhandarkar of Chandni Baar and Bhandarkar who made Fashion years down the line
MB: The realism of a movie which you saw in Chandni Baar, you would also see it in Heroine. But time has changed, those movies were made 11 years ago, Chandni Baar, and today we are talking about 2011-12. Time is changing, if today I make Chandni Baar, it would take 5 or 6 crores, that time it was 1.5 crore.
PC: You are talking about money all the time
MB: No talking about money, sir, what I am saying that I have not left realism.
PC: When Chameli was released, I asked you a question of how Kapoor saab would feel seeing it, in repose you said that It is 2003. How do you feel to have evolved since then, from Chameli to Heroine? Was Chameli better or is heroine better, in both of the movie you have similar characters.
MB: The characters are not similar
PC: You are revealing in both the movies
MB: In that movie I was a prostitute, in this movie I am a heroine.
PC: But in this movie there is a seen for which It can be said that it is meant for audiences. What is the change in Kareena in the past eight years.
KK: I think have offered best in terms of roles I acted in. I have always concentrated on acting, after Jab We Met, not Chameli, I am looking forward to Heroine
PC: Jab we met was one of your best, now we will find out after seeing heroine. You said your role model was Madhuri Dikshit and Sridevi, whose songs you used to listen and dance. You films may be liked, but the films of that generation are still evergreen. Like Jab we met was good, to remember, but other films are like a bubble. Now talk is about movie released and money made, Rs. 175 crore made, but no talk about how many people will watch and remember the movie
KK: That is industry talk, whether is Rs. 200 crore or Rs. 300 crore. Movie is running, but people will remember it or not, that nobody can tell.
PC: Do you feel Kareena that today’s heroines are working film to film, not for acting
KK: Not me. I have always said that I have interest in acting. That is why I always try to balance, be it Bodyguard, Ra one, Three idiots, along with that, I have done many critically acclaimed films,
PC: Like
KK: Dev, Chamela, Omkara, Jab We Met. Even now Heroine or Talaash that is going to be released in that the character of the heroine would be remembered
PC: In Jab We Met, there was a degree of seriousness.
KK: Rest of the films, where do people remember them
PC: That is what I am saying, that today’s films, people remember for one week, then forget.
KK: But that is the biggest hit
PC: No, hit it is, but for three days.
KK: Not necessary
PC: If you see Madhuri Dikshit films of our time, even our kids see those films now. In the same way, they would not even miss watching your films, one has to watch a Kareena Kapoor film when it is released, but after two years, they would not watch it. Is it right for a film star like Kareena, who acts well, to act in such films which are like instant food.
KK: There are attempts, but one girl alone cannot change things
PC: But if that one girl is leading in the industry, on whom every year, Rs. 1000 crore is riding, why can’t she change things
KK: I have come into the industry to do acting, not to bring about change.
PC: You said that you would continue to work like Zohra Sehgal till 90 years
KK: But, that is my passion.
PC: In 2012, heroine is your only film or some other film too is releasing
KK: There is Talaash too
PC: Are there any other shootings starting as Miss Kareena Kapoor
KK: Kareena Kapoor will always be Kareena Kapoor
PC: I used the word Miss Kareena Kapoor
KK: Always
PC: It cannot be always
KK: When the time comes, you will know
PC: In your films, a female dominates always. Do you hate men
MB: Nothing as such Prabhuji,
PC: Tabu, Konkona, Ranawat, everywhere female strong characters
MB: It is not so, it did Dil to bachcha hain jee with Ajay, I had got very good equations with him too. This depends on the script. Like somebody asked, why not a Hero instead of Heroine, I replied that I thought the other day that telling the story from a heroine’s point of view will sound more good, now the amount of heroine oriented films I did are more, hence you are feeling so. As a film maker, what I like to make.
PC: It is not a co incidence, in seven out of election films, heroine dominates. It means you think that you have to promote females. But I want to ask, why in industry there are female leads.
MB: Prabhuji, this mentality is not from today, it is from many years, the male oriented movies are running. Definitely, there were many roles scripted for Nargisji, Rekhaji, Shrideviji, Madhuriji. Today, times have changed, business worth Rs. 100- 200 crore is done, or an opening in three days. People we move in the way the industry is moving. We also have to be in the industry, like you said why she does male oriented movies, but if an actor has to reach to many people, actor has to do a Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Amir Khan movie, which is essential. It cannot be that I will do one or two films in the year.
PC: You want to be commercially successful, become Tata, Ambani, that is why you want to do this
MB: No, why I am saying is that if you want to reach to a larger audience, every man grows, as a film maker even I will grow. The time of Chandni Baar was different, today it is different. During Chandni Bar’s time there were no multiplexes, so many people go to multiplexes to see movies, today the whole big game is of three days.
PC: With fashion, you had a big reach, not that much for Corporate, but now that you have got Kareena Kapoor for heroine, you will go much ahead. You are a different film maker, you makes movies with different themes in mind.
MB: It is not so, depends on what is the script.
PC: You are a writer even
MB: I am a writer but I have co writers with me, I have a comfort level and a comfort zone. I can finish a film fast, because I have contemporary subject.
PC: Be it male of female dominated, finish the movie fast is what you feel
MB: Yes.
PC: That is why you took time from Kareena fast before marriage.
MB: Laughs
PC: Earlier, item numbers were not necessary for heroine. In that time, women used to be seen more chin up, now it is chin down. Is it necessary for a film success? Like having a kind of exposure, like Sheila Ki Jawani you have one more jawani
MB: Halkat Jawani
PC: So, I mean are such kind of dialogues are necessary these days, is it necessary to establish Kareena Kapoor when she is already on number one.
MB: I don’t think so. In this movie we have shot halkat jawaani to show that an actress is doing stage performance. It is a part of the script.
PC: That script has been written. Imitating such kind of things, is it necessary
MB: It is not a question of imitating, Prabhuji, it is a different kind of song, it is an integral part of the film, the character of an actress is portrayed in the movie and she is going on the stage and performing in the movie. Hence, it is not that we have tried to fit in the song. Like, ok, let’s put the song halkat jawaani in this movie.
PC: I am talking about the theme, without halkat jawaani, can’t the movie be made
MB: It can be done but
PC: Even Kareena would have felt after you gave her the song that I am doing the same thing that has become successful
KK: When you see the film you will know, that it was important to do this song also because she is performing on her song on the stage and it is a popular item song.
PC: It is the story of rise and fall of a heroine
KK: No, People feel that is the story.
PC: That is what you said
KK: We did not say that.
PC: Has it become necessary to reveal these days, acting is about emoting but body show is what is happening instead. I have not come to see the movie to see whether you did halkat jawani well or was Sheila ki jawani better. I will come to see the acting.
KK: This is what you are seeing, go and see the world, you must ask the audiences, why do they want item songs in movies.
MB: Why do you want to see halkat jawani
KK: Halkat Jawani, Sheila ki Jawani, Chikni Chameli, why do they want to see.
PC: But Madhur Bhandarkar had done no voting to see whether people what to see this and that too on Kareena who is a successful actress
MB: She is successful that is why we are doing a song
PC: But a song which is imitation
MB: No, no Prabhuji, that you must be feeling ,then there are many songs on Jawani. Now Jalwa song has come so many times, I have used this world in fashion too, fashion.
PC: What are heroes of today, all are dancing with fifty people dancing behind them.
MB: But Prabhuji, if a person is making a movie for 65-70 crore, like you are speaking of Khans, why would not he dance if a commercial film is being made. Because he has to see the audience too, one will not make a serious film by putting in Rs. 60 crore.
PC: Mughal e azam, Naya daur, serious films like these used to do golden jubilee, your films don’t run for five weeks. Movies used to run for 25 – 50 weeks.
MB: That era has passed, earlier these was one channel, now there are 150.
PC: But there are shows which run for 10 years
MB: Times have changed now
PC: Earlier directors and producers used to be invisible, but now to sell a film, they come to the forefront to promote, while the heroine is left behind
MB: Not at all. Hero and heroine always promote a film, and if even a director does, like I have made myself a niche brand over the years, what is the problem if the ‘karta dharta’ of the films comes ahead and sells it.
PC: But people know Madhur Bhandarkar
MB: That they know because I come to the forefront.
PC: That we know because we see your photos in the newspaper
MB: But it is good to have direct communication with the media and consumer market, then you know that a director is talking about his film. He tells about the heroine, what is wrong in that
PC: Magazine is known by the editors name, but the content is important ultimately. Even if he writes a great story, but you don’t act well, the movie will flop, you feel that the movie will run if you do bad acting.
KK: These days films do not run on acting, you yourself have said that movies are running without acting.
PC: I have said, on dance, on revealing body,
MB: Prabhuji, it is overall, it is the overall movie I think. Not only that, is it revealing and dance has been done, so the movie will run. There are many movies in which revealing has been done, dance has been done, but he movie did not run.
PC: Don’t you feel that entertainment is like instant food, have it and out. No effect on health is seen, like have Pizza, Hamburger
MB: As far as my films are concerned, I feel that they have left an impact. My films have shown a mirror to society always, got national award too. Hence, I don’t feel that my movie is like instant coffee or instant pizza that people forget. Even today people compliment on Traffic Signal, Corporate. In IIM – Ahemdabad, Corporate is a case study. I like to go and interact with that MBA student.
PC: We will see heroine too, you would have tried to show truth too even in that movie
MB: What is the problem in showing the truth, why should not it be shown, we are telling the story of a super star, Kareena Kapoor’s character of Mahi Arora, her stardom, the people near her, her love affairs, her relationships, other actresses which are giving her competition, film makers, we have based a film on them all.
PC: These days many bad things are said about the film industry, which are said about other industries too. Have you tried to show the reality of casting couch
MB: No, that is a myth
PC: Then that is nothing of that sort
MB: Sir, then there are fifty things to show in film line, all I cannot show in a two hour film
PC: Like there are allegations of paid news, paid news, we talk on paid news
MB: No, no, in a 2.20 hour movie,
PC: You mean in that the casting couch issue is not there
MB: No, Prabhuji, I will not talk about it, you see the movie, why should I reveal all here.
PC: Keep on making such movies, thank you for coming to our studio
MB: Thank you, Prabhuji !
KK: Thank you, Prabhuji !

Monday, September 10, 2012

PM has everything to gain ...... Power & Politics/The Sunday Standard/September 09, 2012

PM has everything to gain and nothing to lose by taking a bold step


When corporates and political leaders speak in the same tone and tenor, it spells disaster for transparent governance and casts aspersions on the integrity of the system. For the past two weeks, industry giants and the powerful megaphones of the ruling alliance have chosen to hawk identical arguments on Coalgate. Normally, industry giants keep away from political fights. But last week, various industry forums were leading from the front in defending the government on the issue of the allotment of coal blocks. While the entire Opposition along with UPA supporters were demanding the cancellation of coal blocks, corporate bigwigs vehemently opposed the idea. Intervention by the industry in a fight between the Opposition and the ruling party symbolises the fast eroding credibility of the national leadership and its heavy dependence on extraneous forces for defending its questionable decisions.

Surprisingly, the language of the rich and mighty and the government leaders was almost the same, as if both had confabulated together before speaking. No doubt, some of the big industrial houses stand to suffer immensely if coal block licences are cancelled. Even some senior Congress leaders are worried about the damage caused to the ruling party’s image. The party is being accused of promoting and patronising crony capitalism by granting all government contracts and natural resources to a chosen few. The damning revelations about the political nature of the beneficiaries bolster the Opposition charge that there is nothing transparent in the manner and method by which the actual beneficiaries have been selected by the Screening Committee and later endorsed by the Prime Minister.

The strategy of one step backward and two steps forward ensures victory for a politician in the long run. But both the Prime Minister and the Congress party have been compelled by its foes to move a step forward to take many steps backwards later. While the combined Opposition was hauling the Prime Minister over the coals on the coal scam, even the most articulate Cabinet ministers were found wanting in offering a credible defence to the beleaguered Manmohan Singh. Never before has he been so majestically isolated as he was during the most vicious and poisonous personal tirade against him ever. For the first time, none of the leaders from UPA’s allies spoke or defended him as they would in the past. Even his most vocal and visible supporters like Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar have decided to keep silent and watch from the fences, the mauling of Manmohan. The Prime Minister’s silence is his only paralytic political companion. His sullen face reflects his agony. The man, once adored for wisdom and integrity, is being charged with presiding over India’s most corrupt government. Manmohan was UPA’s only credible and productive asset during the 2009 elections. He is now seen as a liability. So far, his past has been his most lethal weapon. Now his present is seen as the most serious threat to his and the Congress party’s future.

According to the Prime Minister’s advisers, the fault for the fall lies at the doorstep of the party, and not with him. For example, Manmohan appears to be willing to take the Opposition head on by cancelling, or putting in abeyance, the allotment of coal blocks. But the majority of ministers and Congress leaders are against it. They feel that it would amount to admitting to an error. It, however, defies all political logic and even expediency to sacrifice the image and the institution of the Prime Minister for the sake of protecting the financial interests of a few corporate houses. Those opposed to the idea of cancellation argue that such an extreme step would lead to disastrous economic consequences. They have conveniently forgotten that over 90 per cent of the mines remain unmined, with the coal still lying in the womb of Mother Earth. Moreover, such a move would also bring the Opposition-ruled states under judicial scrutiny and expose some BJP leaders. Above all, the question amounts to what is cheaper—the Prime Minister’s prestige or the notional loss, which a few companies would have to bear. The Congress made similar mistakes earlier when the Bofors scandal hit the headlines in the 1980s, and later last year when it refused to cancel 2G licences. Finally, the courts had to intervene and the Congress and its allies suffered politically. But the buck stops at the desk of the Prime Minister, who has everything to gain and nothing to lose by taking a bold stand as he did during the Indo-US civil nuclear deal in 2008. Not only did Manmohan win the election, he was hailed as the Prime Minister with a mission and clean methods. Does he realise that since Independence, none of his predecessors have kept the coal portfolio with themselves for as long a time as he had. Perhaps they were aware of how much the soot would soil their image.

With his inaction, he is taking the risk of joining the club of two former prime ministers—Rajiv Gandhi and P V Narsimha Rao—who started well and laid the foundations of modern India, but went down facing charges of leading tainted governments. Corporate India forgot them. If Manmohan fails, it will not give him even a footnote in its annual reports.

prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla