Cabinet Reshuffle and Cover Up Will Not Do:

Intensify Resistance Against Corruption and Price Rise

Swamped by allegations of corruption of massive proportions on many fronts, the Congress and UPA Government has decided to brazen it out with a campaign of cover up and creating confusion to scuttle any credible and timely probe and punishment.
Defying repeated strictures by the Supreme Court against the wisdom of appointing the tainted P J Thomas as CVC, the UPA Government has arrogantly defended his appointment. This, in spite of the fact that the Supreme Court has now cleared the way for initiating proceedings against Thomas and others in the palmolein scandal.   
Most audacious of all has been the newly appointed telecom minister Kapil Sibal’s conjuring act where he has tried to rubbish the CAG’s estimation of the 2G scam amount and deny that there was any scam at all. Sibal’s glib arguments show that the UPA Government is committed to deceiving the public and defending the scamster companies and UPA Ministers. By denying the loot of the country’s spectrum resources, the UPA Government is insulting the intelligence of the common people.
Even as the scams of today were unfolding, the Bofors scam, long relegated to history, was resurrected by the findings of the IT appellate tribunal that kickbacks were in fact made to middlemen in the Bofors gun deal – something the Congress government of the day had vehemently denied. As in the case of the Bofors scam, the Congress would like that probes into the 2G, CWG and other super scams are so delayed and confused as to lose relevance and urgency. In the CWG case, the CBI has already shown signs that it is less than committed to nailing the guilty. Its failure to obtain relevant evidence to file charges within 60 days has already allowed  close aides of the CWG OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, to get bail. 
It has emerged that the Adarsh housing society scam was no aberration in Congress-ruled Maharashtra – other similar land scams involving top army officers have been indicated in both Mumbai and Pune. In the Adarsh case, it has emerged that crucial evidence relating to the Adarsh matter, such as documentation from the Urban Development Department has been destroyed so as to make it difficult to fix responsibility for the scam.   
In the Lavasa case, the Union Environment Ministry found that the project, in the name of developing a hill station close to Pune, had blithely violated environmental laws, indiscriminately cut the hillside and caused other environmental damage. The Ministry however avoided recommending any action against state government authorities who illegally gave clearance to the project. Instead of ensuring that Lavasa does not profit from its violation of the law, the Environment Ministry has instead said that given the massive investment in the project, it is prepared to allow Lavasa to stand in exchange for a penalty fine and contribution to an environment restoration fund. Such a decision makes a mockery of environmental laws, sending out the message that companies are free to violate laws and pay fines later. Those who have the power to pay, in other words, will have a license to violate the environment.       
Pulling up the government for failing to provide names of the offenders with black money in Swiss banks, in the name of honouring an international treaty, the Supreme Court correctly termed it a “plunder of the nation” and “pure and simple theft of the national money” and “mind-boggling crime.” Black money in Swiss banks is estimated to be a whopping Rs 1.5 trillion, nearly one-and-a-half times India’s GDP. The government’s refusal to confiscate this enormous stash and bring the tax evaders and money launderers to book is yet further proof of the government’s commitment to appeasing and protecting the loot of national resources by the super-wealthy.
With a slight shuffle in the Cabinet, the UPA Government hopes to send out a message that it has acted to ‘warn’ Ministers implicated in corruption like Kamal Nath, Murli Deora and Praful Patel by demoting them to less significant ministries. With price rise, especially food prices, reaching new heights, the Manmohan Singh Government has taken the food and consumer affairs portfolio from Sharad Pawar; however the Government persists with its agenda of further diluting and restricting the Food Security Bill. With former Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh getting the rural affairs portfolio, it is ironic that both agriculture and rural affairs rest with leaders from Maharashtra who have presided over the worst record of farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha.

Be it on corruption or price rise, the UPA’s cosmetic measures are nothing but eyewash, and popular anger and resentment is one the rise. In this backdrop, the All India Left Coordination (AILC) has given a call for a month-long countrywide mass campaign against rising prices, growing corruption, unemployment and state repression and assault on democracy, from 11 February to culminate in a Parliament March in Delhi on 11 March.

Onwards to Parliament March on 11 March

Against Price Rise, Corruption, Unemployment, State Repression!