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With Coalgate and Railgate, the Congress strategy of managing every crisis is falling apart at the seams

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 7, 2013
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/With-Coalgate-and-Railgate-the-Congress-strategy-of-managing-every-crisis-is-falling-apart-at-the-seams/articleshow/19917250.cms

The Congress' stand on two ministers presently mired in controversy — railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and law minister Ashwani Kumar — is true to form. It is part of a four-pronged strategy that the party has finessed — or so it reckons — to overcome every crisis that assails it. The first is to flatly deny that there is a crisis or when the denial cannot be sustained, to minimise its gravity. It then blames the sensation-mongering media and obstreperous opposition parties for blowing it out of proportion.

 As more and more damaging evidence comes to light, it resorts to procrastination with the moth-eaten argument that it will defend its flock to the hilt until the law has run its course. If this tactic of buying time fails to yield results, it vows to brave the storm in the knowledge that it is the party's tormentors who will end up beneath the debris. And when it is finally cornered, it fires the concerned minister to establish its lily-white credentials for probity: something it was expected to do in the first place.

 The party is on the third step in the Bansal case related to the shady deals of his nephew, Vijay Singla. It has taken heart from the preliminary findings of the CBI investigation which gave a clean chit to the railway minister. But he isn't quite out of the woods. Bansal will have to answer for the huge fortune that companies owned by his close relatives have acquired during his tenure. The only way the party can salvage this situation to some extent is to show him the door.

This is even more urgent in the case of Ashwani Kumar. He cocked a snook at the Supreme Court when, violating its directive, he summoned CBI director Ranjit Sinha to share the contents of the investigation agency's report on the Coalgate scam. The affidavit filed by the CBI yesterday admits that Kumar, along with officials of his ministry and those of the PMO, deleted parts of the report. The Congress is now left with the last point of its strategy: to fire the law minister in the hope that the stink of Coalgate does not reach the prime minister's door. This is what it should have done in the first place. It doesn't pay to be too clever by half.
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