Advani lashes out at UPA on Baalu episode (Lead)

April 29th, 2008 - 9:29 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) Lashing out at the government for the alleged misuse of office by Union Shipping and Transport Minister T.R. Baalu, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K.Advani Tuesday said its “silence” indicated how the ruling Congress had departed from the earlier existing “standards of probity and accountability”. Addressing the customary weekly meeting of the party’s Parliamentary Party at the Central Hall of Parliament House here, Advani said: “Their silence shows how much the Congress party and governments headed by it have departed from the standards of probity and accountability that prevailed in the early decades since Independence.”

He urged United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi to come clean on the Baalu affair.

Baalu admitted in parliament that he had put in a word to the petroleum minister and also pushed the Prime Minister’s Office to expedite gas allocation to Kings Chemical and Kings High Power - companies owned by his two sons.

Advani criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying: “Any prime minister who believes in the principle of accountability and respects the canons of parliamentary democracy would clarify his position in such a matter in the two houses of parliament.”

He also attacked Sonia Gandhi saying: “The silence of the UPA chairperson, who, as everyone knows, is the wielder of political power in the government, is also eloquent.”

Referring to the Baalu issue, he said: “For the past several days, the opposition in parliament has been articulating a sense of outrage over the revelation of a scandal involving a DMK minister in the UPA government. The minister has not only admitted to his role in the scandal seeking favours from the ministry of petroleum and natural gas for companies owned by his sons, but has brazenly adopted a ’so what? attitude.”

“What has added further stink to the scandal is the disclosure that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) wrote as many as eight letters to the ministry of petroleum and natural gas recommending the DMK minister’s case,” he said.

In this context, he recalled the infamous Haridas Mundhra scandal that rocked the Jawaharlal Nehru government in the late 1950s, and recalled that “It was none other than Feroze Gandhi, the least remembered member of the Nehru-Gandhi family and one who lent the ‘Gandhi’ name to the family, who, in spite of being a Congress MP, made an explosive disclosure in parliament about the Life Insurance Corporation putting in Rs.1.24 crore (Rs.12.4 million) in Mundhra’s sinking companies.”

Advani told his party MPs that “Feroze Gandhi forced Nehru’s government to appoint a commission of inquiry, headed by Justice Mohammed Currim Chagla. Justice Chagla’s report held finance minister T.T. Krishnamachari morally responsible for the episode and he was forced to resign in 1958.”

The Leader of Opposition said: “While Manmohan Singh’s personal integrity is beyond doubt, it is now equally beyond doubt that he is neither able nor trying to enforce probity in his government. In dealing with corruption in his government, and it is now common knowledge that the UPA government is by far the most corrupt in India’s history, he is exhibiting the same helplessness that he earlier did in acting against crime-tainted ministers.”

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