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Misleading Parliament

Misleading Parliament

Author: Editorial
Publication: Free Press Journal
Date: December 10, 2004
URL: http://www.samachar.com/features/101004-editorial.html

We are back to the incorrigible Laloo Prasad Yadav again. The Railway Minister in the Government of gentleman Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, seeks attention in ways which cannot but reflect poorly on the ragtag ruling UPA. Yet, neither Singh nor his controller-cum- boss, Sonia Gandhi, seems to have either the courage or the inclination to discipline him.

Yadav sets his own boorish standards and expects that his colleagues in the ruling coalition and everyone else outside will applaud him. The latest episode in the ongoing Laloo Chalisa pertains to the plain untruth mouthed by him on the floor of the House on Wednesday. Pressed by the Opposition to either confirm or deny his charge against the Steel Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, Yadav did the unthinkable. He lied with a straight face.

He had said on more than one occasion that Paswan as the Railway Minister in the Deve Gowda Government was involved in the Rs 800 crore scam. It was his case that money had changed hands in the purchase of defective cranes by the railways when Paswan was the minister in- charge.

He, in fact, had gone on to assert that he would conclusively establish that Paswan was corrupt as he had gathered all the facts in the crane scam. Most newspapers and television news channels duly had recorded Yadav's charge against his ministerial colleague.

Paswan, on his part, had called Yadav "chara chor" and had vowed to ensure his defeat in the forthcoming elections to the Bihar Assembly due early next year. The two Bihar leaders had been trading charges in public, a fact duly noted by the print and television media.

Now, on Wednesday when opposition members raised the question about the charge and counter-charge between the two Cabinet ministers, Yadav with a straight face denied he had said what he had been widely quoted as having said. He told the Lok Sabha that all these reports are untrue.'

Newspaper after newspaper had reported that Yadav had called Paswan "chieftain of criminals." He had gone on to say that " Paswan claims to be honest but no force on earth can save him the moment I make some files public." Another leading paper reported that "Yadav repeated that Paswan was involved in irregularities in the Rs 800 crore purchase of cranes from a foreign country."

Now, so many news media outfits cannot be wrong and only Yadav right? Clearly, caught in an embarrassing position in Parliament, Yadav did what comes naturally to crooked politicians, that is, lie. Without mincing words, let us say that Parliament was misled, nay, lied to by a senior minister in the Government of gentleman Prime Minister.

Yet, as is his wont, the good doctor would carry on as if nothing had happened. What about the principle of collective responsibility of the Cabinet? And about the image of the Government which has, on the authority of its own senior ministers, a corrupt minister involved in the Rs 800- crores scam and another involved in the Rs. 800 crore fodder scam?

Or is it that even gentlemen can discover uses for power and make terrible compromises to retain it by hook or crook? Slowly but surely, the mask of his gentlemanliness will be ripped apart unless the good doctor tames his tainted colleagues and insists that they behave within the outer- most boundaries of acceptable ministerial conduct.

We hope the gentleman PM wouldn't allow his ministers to cross the Lakshmanrekha of orderly ministerial conduct.

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