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Promises unkept - The Observer

Dina Nath Mishra ()
12 December 1996

Title : Promises unkept
Author : Dina Nath Mishra
Publication : The Observer
Date : December 12, 1996

When the United Front government had come into being more
than six months back, members of the steering committee
had trumpeted the common minimum programme as the blue-
print of achievable time-bound programmes. But practi-
cally nothing happened in the right direction barring on
two fronts - CTBT and J&K elections. CMP has virtually
remained an actionless 25-page document gathering dust.

CMP says that "the United Front is committed to a corrup-
tion-free and clean administration. A bill to set up the
Lok Pal will be introduced in the first Budget session
Sabha. The Bill will cover the office of the Prime Min-
ister as well". The budget session came and went, but the
draft of the Lok Pal Bill remained where it was - in cold
storage. It was never the intention of the UF to pass the
Bill for which there is a unanimity on mass level.
Congress had vested interest in not passing it for obvi-
ous reasons. Himself belonging to the true Congress
culture, Deve Gowda government could not have piloted it.
Contrary to the spirit of the CMP, the Prime Minister has
engineered a move to exclude MPs and MLAs from the defi-
nition of public servant, in the Prevention of Corruption
Act so that literally hundreds of politicians may escape
from the ongoing cases relating to numerous seams.

CMP has committed that the "Official Secrets Act will be
reviewed and amended keeping in tune with the need for
openness and transparency of governance. A Bill for
Freedom of Information will be introduced within six
months to give the people access to information to all
levels." Now six months have passed, and amnesia has
overtaken that promise, too.

Further, the CMP had assured that "a Bill on electoral
reform will be introduced in the first Budget session of
the 11th Lok Sabha. A Bill on judicial reforms will be
introduced within six months in order to expedite &W of
cases and to eliminate delay. In consultation with chief
justice of India and justice and chief justice of high
courts steps will be taken to dispose all pending cases
within a period of three years". These time bound pro-
grammes of the CMP could also not be achieved by the UF
government, despite consensus. This exhibits lack of will
and insincerity of the new rulers. Many of UF partners
have vested interest in not passing the reforms.

The CMP refers that "the people of the country are great-
ly exercised by growing emergence of the nexus between
politicians, civil servants, businessmen and criminal
elements, which has been eloquently illustrated by the
report of Vohra Committee. The United Front government
will disclose to Parliament relevant facts and materials
which formed the basis of the report of the Vohra Commit-
tee. It will also set up a statutory authority with
adequate powers to go into these facts and circumstances
and make suitable recommendation to identify and punish
the guilty with a view to eliminate the role of parallel
government." Home minister Inderjit Gupta concedes the
existing nexus between politicians, criminals and bureau-
crats etc. But he thinks that the government cannot do
anything about it. By thus washing his hands off, Mr

Gupta is signalling surrender to the nexus and the hidden
parallel government.

The UF government had given top most priority to stabili-
ty and federalism' and had committed that it would
"immediately appoint a high level committee to review and
update the recommendations of Sarkaria Commission." It
had promised to take immediate action "legislative and/or
administrative for decentralisation of power." It had
promised that "Article 356 will be amended to prevent the
misuse of the Article." Here the performance of UF gov-
ernment is not that of non-performance but of negative
performance. What has happened in Gujarat and UP was not
just the misuse of the Article, but perversion of democ-
racy and derailment of constitution.

The CMP talked of reserving one third elected, membership
of the Parliament and state legislatures for women. It
also said that one third of government jobs will go to
women. For last two sessions, the Bill is pending with
the Parliament. The brave commitment has given way to
dilly dallying. Same is the story about the inclusion of
dalit Christian in SC/ST list. The government has sud-
denly developed cold feet as the UF partners apprehend
that it would erode their base among the dalits.

The promises that the UF document made to the minorities
fall under the same category. Only the other day Muslim
leaders criticised the government for forgetting the
promises. The CMP also promised that the contentious
Babri Masjid-Ramjanmaboomi issue would be referred to
Supreme Court under Article 138(2). Nothing of that sort
has happened yet.

The CMP proudly announced that "the UF government will
within six months bring out a detailed document that will
articulate the priorities and programmes of the 9th plan.
" No action has taken place. Further it says that "a
special plan for infrastructure development will be taken
up in 100 most poor districts in the country." No action,
again. "A programme for guaranteeing 100 days employment
for every unemployed Person will be implemented". No
plan, no action yet again.

The document visualised that nation has the capacity to
absorb $10 billion a year as. foreign direct investment.
Performance? In six months the actual arrival of FDI is
not even two per cent i e $200 million. "Entry of multi-
nationals into low priority areas will be discouraged."
Proof? McDonald and Pizza Hut and their likes have alrea-
dy entered the country. An independent tariff commission
will be appointed within three months to hear and deter-
mine tariff disputes etc. Three months have passed two
times, but no action.

But the most telling negative performance is on the price
front. CMP says, "the public distribution system will be
strengthened to meet the twin objective of price stabili-
ty and making available essential articles to the poor.
Special cards would be given to families below poverty
line and essential articles under the PDS will be sold to
them at one half of the normal issue price." Has anybody
in the country got this special card? Leave alone essen-
tial articles at half price. Despite bumper crops and
Tore than adequate stock of cereals at the disposal of
FCI, the price of wheat has given shivers to the poor

everywhere in the country.

The CMP talks of transparency. Does anybody know how much
money the PM paid for the entourage of his family members
to Harare? What is that Gowda wants to hide by browbeat-
ing Prof Venkatagiri Gowda an economist who has written
the book, "The King of Corruption and the Unmaking of
India." The writer has concluded that H D Deve Gowda is
super Sukh Ram. This is what PM, wants to hide, while the
CMP enshrines his government's commitment to transparen-
cy, probity and accountability.

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