Amongst all the allegations made by the civil society activists against corruption, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, the searchlight they held on Wednesday on the unholy alliance between the ruling Congress Party and Reliance Industries Ltd. falls into a special category. First, it is a pre-emptive move by the activists — partly, at least. We owe them a word of gratitude. Of course, millions of Indians will now be keenly watching the government’s pending decision on any hike in the price for Reliance’s gas from the KG Basin gas fields.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jaswant Singh has demanded that the government must come clean on the issue. Surprisingly, however, L K Advani who would be the senior most official of the NDA government available today hasn’t yet spoken. Of course, the party president Gadkari lacks the moral courage to speak anymore on the issue of corruption.
As for the Left, unsurprisingly, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has taken an unequivocal stand on the issue. The CPM has been waging a robust campaign on this issue single-handedly. But again, this is a subject that truly deserves a joint statement by the Left parties.
Congress Party has kept mum. Funnily, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chose today of all days to exhort the nation to narrow the budget deficit. After presiding over a corrupt government that squandered away hundreds of thousands of crores worth national resources, he must be a cynic with capital ‘C’ to speak of budget deficits!
The RIL scam has wide ramifications. Apart from throwing light on the nexus between the political parties and the corporate houses, it also raises an important question about this leviathan called Reliance. The impression one gets from the controversy is that RIL has become a hydra-headed monster which poses threat to Indian democracy.
Any functioning democracy cannot allow that to happen. Just work out what Congress party might have got in return for all those thousands of crores worth loot it helped RIL to carry away from the nation’s kitty.
A tragic question also arises. We have just elected a new president who also happens to be the cabinet minister in Manmohan Singh’s government who took some of those big decisions favoring Reliance. What do we do now? A nation feels rudderless in such appalling moments.
Equally, there is a foreign policy angle. The RIL has become the gateway for Big Oil to enter the Indian domestic market. First it was Chevron, now it is BP.
And in a major move to favor Reliance, the government has allowed this to happen. There is nothing wrong if BP operates in India. But there is something wrong if RIL exercises its political clout to keep out other players from abroad from entering into partnerships with other Indian companies, which may compete with the Big Oil. The story of Big Oil, wherever it goes in the developing countries, is blood-soaked. Watch out, Mother India!
Russia, for instance, has been knocking at the door and it is an energy superpower. Why is the door shut on its face from entering the lucrative Indian market?
Again, we may never know what influence RIL has exerted on the government to shelve the Iran gas pipeline project. Those in the know of things in Delhi always smelled a rat. After all, RIL’s vice-like grip on India’s gas market wouldn’t be sustainable and its ability to hold the energy market to ransom by slyly cutting back on production if the country has other reliable alternate sources like Iran, which is indeed capable of meeting India’s needs for almost the entire 21st century.
Posted in Politics.
– November 1, 2012