The UPA government’s over-worked Union Cabinet Minister Kapil Sibal, who is handling Ministry of HRD and Ministry of Telecom, shares his views on zero loss in 2G scam, corruption, and Pakistan with Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi on her chat show Kahiye Janab.
Here are the excerpts:
Swati: You have been a very good lawyer. In the defense of former Telecom Minister, A Raja, you said that there was ‘zero loss’ in 2G spectrum case. Why did you say that?
Sibal: When there was a press conference in the Parliament, I read the verbatim transcript and what I said was that if a policy is based on ‘First come, First serve’ basis, then there can be no auction. The loss which is calculated is on the basis of auction and therefore we would have got the money. So, if auction didn’t happen because of the policy, then there is no point of loss of this much allocation.
Swati: In PAC Report, Home Minister, P Chidambaram said that even the person of average intelligence would not reach to those conclusions. When A Raja is in jail, Kanimozhi is appearing before CBI…
Sibal: I want to ask you that did such things ever happen in the history of India. There have been numerous cases of corruption including Tehelka scandal, petrol pump, land scam; cash for questions but did any minister ever go to jail.
In our government, many ministers have been charged without any evidence. Like Shashi Tharoor was sacked from Cabinet, Ashok Chavan was dismissed from the post of Chief Minister, Raja has been chargesheeted and Kalmadi is in jail. On the other hand, in Karnataka, BJP is saving its minister from back to back accusations.
Swati: Corruption has been on an epic scale. According to public perception, UPA is the most corrupt government since independence. It’s been seven and half years since UPA government is in the Centre. But during coalition with Left government, the party was facing no such allegations…
Sibal: Corruption is a societal problem. It is there in politics, bureaucracy, judiciary, civil society including journalists. This menace is not linked with the government alone; the whole society is absorbed in corruption. This needs to be fought everywhere. In the next session, we will introduce new law to deal with corruption strictly.
Swati: You, yourself are a lawyer. In our country, there are various laws and lawyers. But, unfortunately, you know, there is no rule of law for implementation. What do you say?
Sibal: I totally agree on this. That’s why there should be a fear of law against corruption that should be governed by independent people and the guilty should be sent to jail.
Swati: In the 2G spectrum case, already six investigations are going on. The Supreme Court itself is supervising this case. Many corporate honchos have been jailed and there were even rumours that if corporate guys are jailed, then FDI will head out from India. Why have you not cancelled their licences yet?
Sibal: Many big honchos including Unitech people, A Raja, Telecom Secretary are inside. Unless the rule of law is not supreme, message will not be conveyed to common people. I assumed office as Telecom Minister on 14th November, 2010 and since then there has been no misconduct in my Ministry.
Swati: Once the Prime Minister in a conference said that I am not the biggest ‘accused’. Why did he say consequently?
Sibal: The Prime Minister was absolutely correct in saying this statement. He cannot micro- manage any Ministry. PM talked to A Raja regarding this but he assured him that he will work with transparency and fairness. But later, Dr. Singh came to know the way the ‘First come, First serve’ policy was implemented was erroneous. So, it hasn’t been proved yet, but it’s an allegation. The probe is going on in this case and Prime Minister rightly said that he is not involved in the matter.
Swati: Is it a coalition-compulsion? Examples of Sharad Pawar and A Raja are in front of the PM. Does he know that what is happening in the country is not right?
Sibal: I know that people are thinking what has happened to the government.That’s why, PM and Soniaji are concerned and they are taking stern actions against the corrupt. Did any party ever take such steps? In India, media is the biggest opposition.
Swati: In UPA-I, there was a principled support with Congress but in just two years, UPA-II has seen too much anti-incumbency.
Sibal: In 2014, you will get to know about incumbency.
Swati: When we talk about democracy, do you think that coalition with Left was much more principled support and what your party did to them was not right?
Sibal: We had a policy of agreement on nuclear deal which we did. We had an objective but Left was opposed to it. That’s why they parted ways from us. There is nothing wrong in it.
Swati: Where do you see UPA after three years in these situations? Is it a transitional phase of Congress party till Rahul Gandhi takes over?
Sibal: For that, you have to wait till 2014. Politics is a constantly emerging situation. But, I am confident that Congress will remain strong and it will again come to power again. For that, it needs to strengthen the common man as well.
Swati: After US-led Osama operation in Pakistan, the Prime Minister said that he wants peace with Pakistan. Do you think it is possible considering the present mood of the people?
Sibal: Everybody including BJP and other parties want peace with neighbouring countries. One thing is sure that Pakistan is harboring terrorism. Osama was living in the garrison city of Abottabad near Army Headquarters for the last 5-6 years. So, it is clear that they must be harboring 26/11 terrorists also. Internationally, there should be intense pressure on Pakistan so that they hand over Mumbai attack terrorists to India.
Adapted by: Preeti Panwar
First Published: Saturday, May 14, 2011, 23:13