A lame duck government and a law(less) minister

The Indian government has turned itself into the theatre of the absurd when Robert Vadra, Salman Khurshid and Beni Prasad Verma made startling remarks

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (which became UPA-2) government when it returned to power in 2009, not only gave a shock to BJP and its associates, but even surprised itself with the election results. However, the last three years have seen more smoke and fire and when the shove came to the push, that perennial fighter Mamata Banerjee walked out of UPA-2 coalition, putting the very survival of the central government at stake. The doomsayers had field day predicting the imminent fall of the government for want of numbers.


On the other hand, the more experienced political hands were clear that parties like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) were in no hurry to destabilise the government as they were not keen to face elections at this stage. Though the UPA-2 has lost majority in Lok Sabha, it continues to be in power with temporary props. Today the country has a true lame duck government, surviving at the mercy of disparate parties who will keep on supporting the government till they are ready for general elections.


Post-election of Pranab Mukherjee, as President of India, and separation of Mamata Banerjee from the UPA-2, the Manmohan Singh government has been trying to display new vigour on the economic front. The government’s effort to impress the investors, particularly of the foreign variety, gives the feeling of a person who is sinking fast but is making a last ditch attempt to fight before drowning. Suddenly, the Government of India (GoI), that was comatose for a long time, has started to show signs of life, albeit slowly.


Hardly had the brouhaha over Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy subsided that the Congress party was hit by a tornado in the form of an expose, by Arvind Kejriwal and his India Against Corruption (IAC) movement, over alleged wrong doings by Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of the First Family of the Congress leader.


Few days back Kejriwal accused Vadra of getting an interest-free loan of Rs65 crore, along with substantial bargains on property, from DLF. The allegation is that there was a quid pro quo between Vadra and DLF. Even the Haryana government had shown him favours. Congress leaders, who know only one way of protecting their supreme leader, came out in full strength in defence of Vadra and rubbished the claims made by IAC. Minister after minister made statements in defence of Vadra, while official spokespersons of the Congress party were busy defending Vadra on various TV channels. It seemed as if the entire Cabinet had descended on the media to protect him. Perhaps, the son-in-law was seeking his share of dowry, not from the in-laws but from the country itself.


Then, as if on a cue, the very next day, Congress leaders started singing a different tune; this time they claimed that Vadra was a “private citizen” and it was totally unfair of the media and IAC to target him. Surprisingly, neither the media nor Kejriwal’s team grilled these leaders that if Vadra was a private person then how come minister after minister were out in the open to defend him, on various media outlets, even if Vadra was not a member of the Congress party.


The shenanigans of Vadra are now in public. He has no respect for the common man of India when he cheekily stated “Mango people in a banana republic”. This was rightly condemned by the citizens throughout the country. The biggest indictment of Vadra is the open statement of senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka, the then Director General, Consolidation of Holdings – Haryana. Since then the officer had been transferred out of the department to minimise further damage to Vadra. Today, Khemka and his family are living in fear. Thus, it is our duty to ensure that such a courageous person is not gobbled up by the system. The media should keep him in the limelight to ensure that he is duly protected against the threats.


Amongst the several ministers who came to the defence of Vadra included Salman Khurshid, Union law minister and grandson of late Zakir Hussain, the highly respected former President of India. In a curious turn of events, few days later, Salman Khurshid himself had to face charges from Kejriwal in respect of a trust managed by him and his wife, which supposedly served the cause of handicapped persons. When the charges were first levelled against him, he was abroad. After returning to India he vehemently denied all the charges. However, at the press conference called by him to clarify his position, he lost his usual cool demeanour and started shouting at the journalists who were asking him tough questions about his trust.


However, the things did not stop there; it is the tragedy of the times in which we live that Khurshid virtually came down to a street fight with Kejriwal. In the language befitting a ‘Don’ or a local goon, he gave a veiled threat to Kejriwal, who had announced to shift the venue of protest against Khurshid to his Lok Sabha constituency in Farukhabad. The nation was aghast that a sane person holding such an important position in the GoI had stooped so low and brought the government and the country into disrepute. But then Congressmen are made of sterner stuff and they know one thing—when faced with a difficult situation—just deny everything. Although what Khurshid spoke was very clear, the Congress party remained in denial in public.


As if all this was not enough, another cabinet minister by the name Beni Prasad Varma had the cheek to mock and claim that Rs71 lakh was too small an amount for a cabinet minister to indulge in. If it had been more than Rs71 crore, perhaps he would have taken the issue seriously.


The question that begs an answer is what will happen to the future of the country if its law minister himself becomes ‘lawless’ and resorts to street language? What will happen when a cabinet minister mocks at the corruption charge and dismisses the same as of no consequence? The first thing the government should have done was to remove such ministers from the Cabinet. But then it would be too much to expect Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi to do this; one is too weak to do anything while the other is the direct benefactor of these ministers. So we, the seemingly hapless citizens of India, continue to be subjected to the shenanigans of the lame duck government and its lawless ministers, all this is nothing less than the theatre of the absurd, but alas it is the country that is paying the price and we are the unwilling audience awaiting our turn to vote.


(Dr SD Israni, advocate & partner, SD Israni Law Chambers, is one of India’s leading authority on corporate, commercial and securities laws. He was a member of the Naresh Chandra Committee for simplification of Company Law relating to private and small companies. He has been on SEBI’s committee on disclosures (called the Malegam Committee) and the one on buy-back of shares. Dr Israni has been a member of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Indian Merchants’ Chamber and Indian Council of Arbitration. Dr Israni is an active member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India and was on its Central Council for four terms and headed the Capital Markets Committee of the ICSI.)

Deepak Mehta
10 years ago
Salman Khushid: Oxford Don turns Mafia Don!
10 years ago
Such an Eminent gentleman - it is Better if he Expands the Article by Explaing Leagal Positions / Oppotunities for any Indian to get Motivated to get (1) Furthur Required Details required to Proceed Legally (2)Govt.Departments to whom Complaints to be Lodged Pointing what &(3)Punishment stipulated under which Section ,so that Any Indian gets Motivated to file PIL.As Sonia Gandhi & PM states only that RTI Act is brought by them to end Corruption,suggestins to get all required Data and file PILs,instead of leaving the Subject with Allegations.
Replied to NSriramamurty comment 10 years ago
Thanks for your response and kind words. I appreciate your sentiments. The prevailing scenario has motivated many of us to take some action. Moneylife has carried articles / conducted lectures indicating how to obtain information and file complaints. Kindly refer to them.
Replied to shivkumar comment 10 years ago
Many Thanks Mr.ShivKumar.
Sudhir Jatar
10 years ago
The Congress has gone one step forward towards bringing this country to utter doom.
The Great Chamcha of soniaG, DJS say, "Congress has enough masala about Vajpayee's foster son-in-law but won't come out with the details because it is unethical(!).
The new mantra of soniaG is "illegal is ethical and and legal is unethical"!!
Free Helpline
Legal Credit