Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni has defended the Prime Minister in the face of a series of corruption scams that have rocked his government, saying that in a big country like India it was not possible for Dr Manmohan Singh to keep a watch on every one.
Speaking exclusively to Swati Chaturvedi of zeenews.com on her chat show Kahiye Janab, Soni said the Congress party has taken action whenever it got hint of any form of corruption in the various wings of government.
She compared the Congress with the opposition and asked what action has been taken against corruption in states like Karnataka (Bellary mines), Orissa, Bihar and Punjab?
On a question whether people have lost faith in governance as well as the Congress party in the wake of big scams like 2G, CWG, Adarsh etc, Soni said, “I don’t believe so.” She noted that in the first five years of the UPA-I rule, the Right to Information Act (RTI) came into being which brought transparency in the system and empowered citizens.
Asked to react on Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh’s controversial remarks on Osama bin Laden’s burial, the I&B Minister merely said there was no discord within the party. She said Congress is a democratic party and its members are entitled to speak their mind. However, she added, if the party feels someone’s remarks don’t gel with the party’s ideology and its stand, then that person can always retract his/her statements.
When enquired whether there are three power poles within the party – Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh – Soni said there’s no such thing, adding both Sonia and Rahul have reposed faith in Dr Manmohan Singh’s leadership a number of times.
Responding to a question whether it was time for Rahul Gandhi to take up bigger role in the party as well as the government, the minister said Rahul has concentrated on his constituency, worked there and sent across a message. He has also worked for the downtrodden and tried to bring them into the mainstream, she added.
Soni said Rahul has charted his own path despite criticism from all quarters. She added that the young leader has his own blueprint in mind regarding his career growth.
In response to a question whether television news channels have become a way for some to make money, Soni nodded in the affirmative and said the practice was more prevalent at regional and district level.
People sometimes launch a news channel just to get some work done or blackmail others and when the objective is fulfilled, they shut down the channel, Soni said.
She added that her ministry was in touch with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to ensure only serious players enter the TV news business.
Also, according to the minister, paid news has become a matter of serious concern and the Election Commission is working to curb the malpractice.
Adaptation: Deepak Nagpal