THE government is finally forced to have a short duration discussion in both houses of the parliament on the WikiLeaks exposure. This column last week had carried details that showed both the breadth and depth of US administration's penetration into our system. This parliamentary discussion, however, was only limited to the cash-for-votes episode that saw the UPA-I government winning the vote of confidence in 2008 after the Left parties had withdrawn their support when the then government decided to unilaterally go ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal. This was so because, the BJP has moved a privilege motion against the prime minister on the ground that he misled the parliament by saying that there was no corruption involved, according to report of the cash-for-vote probe committee constituted by the 14th Lok Sabha. We shall return to the facts of this matter later.
In the process, it became clear that both the Congress and the BJP were avoiding a discussion on the larger issue of how India was trying to cement the Indo-US strategic relationship and the consequent direct US interference into the internal affairs of India as exposed by the WikiLeaks. They are thus deliberately missing the woods for the trees. This is, however, not surprising. The foundations for a strategic alliance with the USA were laid by the Vajpayee government through the by now infamous, Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbott secret meeting. The WikiLeaks exposures in fact confirm this and go further to show that the BJP leadership has on record said that they would neither rescind nor review the Indo-US nuclear deal if they come to power. Therefore on the issue of converting India into a subordinate ally of the USA, both the BJP and the Congress are in the same boat.
Given this, the focus of the parliamentary discussion was limited to report on the cash-for-vote probe committee. A legalistic battle took place in the floor of the house with the BJP suggesting that the committees' recommendation for further investigation meant that corruption was not conclusively disproven. The Congress on the other hand argued that this recommendation for further investigation showed that corruption has not been conclusively proven.
The fact of the matter is that the whole country, indeed the world, saw the naked display of wads of currency notes in Lok Sabha. These monies ostensibly changed hands in order to ensure that the government survived. On that occasion, the BJP had to take action against some of its MPs for voting in defiance of the party whip and on some others for simply abstaining. Notwithstanding this, the BJP's main accusation is that the Congress led UPA indulged in horse trading for surviving by paying huge sums of money to engineer a majority. The moot point here is that the bribe-taker is as equally culpable as the bribe-giver.
Such instances of corruption that undermines the very foundations of our parliamentary democracy is not only a moral question. Of course, it is immorality of the worst type. The more important fact is that such measures were resorted to make sure that the UPA government continues to stay in office, which was absolutely imperative for the successful conclusion of the nuclear deal. This in turn is the lynchpin to cement the strategic alliance with India acting as the subordinate ally of the US.
It is this larger issue of how unscrupulous corruption was resorted to in order to ensure that this objective is achieved even if it meant the corrosion of the foundations of our parliamentary democracy. In order to safeguard and strengthen our parliamentary democracy, it therefore becomes very important that all aspects of this cash-for-vote must be thoroughly examined and the guilty be brought to book. It is precisely this that the government is seeking to avoid with the active support of the BJP that only wants the investigation to be confined to the cash-for-vote episode.
It would be living in denial, if such an investigation is not conducted into all aspects that led to this scandalous display of money in the parliament. The government however, has only promised to allow the Delhi police to proceed on this investigation and that too specifically into charges of corruption against three individuals named in the cash-for-vote probe report. Neither will this suffice, nor will it act as a deterrent against those who actively seek to pursue a pro-US approach and agenda which would be very detrimental to the future interests of India.
This UPA government, thus, therefore should be forced to probe into all aspects exposed by the WikiLeaks which point towards an active US effort to influence India's policy framework direction to consolidate neo-liberal economic policies. The government must be forced to do this in order to safeguard and strengthen our parliamentary democracy.