June 16, 2011

What is Sonia Gandhi hiding?

http://thestatesman.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=373111&catid=39&Itemid=53

rajinder puri

This is not the first time that the UPA chairperson has quietly gone abroad in a manner best described as being furtive. Why the secrecy? Why create the illusion in the public mind that she is in India when she is not, asks rajinder puri

On Monday, Tamil Nadu chief minister Miss Jayalalithaa visited Delhi. She met her Delhi counterpart Mrs Sheila Dikshit. India’s biggest TV channel blared: “Will Jaya also meet Sonia?” Was the channel unprofessionally ignorant or was it colluding with the exercise to hide the furtive movements of Mrs Sonia Gandhi? Earlier on the same day, there was a statement issued by Mrs Gandhi deploring the murder of a prominent journalist in Mumbai. Was all this being done to create the illusion in the public mind that Mrs Gandhi was in India while she was not? This is not the first time that Mrs Gandhi has silently gone abroad in a manner best described as being furtive. Why the secrecy? What is the purpose of Mrs Gandhi’s undisclosed visits abroad?
An RTI applicant, Mr Ramesh Verma, had sought from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) details of the foreign visits of the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC) and Congress president Mrs Sonia Gandhi. The Central Information Commission (CIC) forwarded the application to the PMO. “It seems the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry had informed that the Central government had incurred no expenditure on the foreign visits Sonia Gandhi during the last 10 years,” CIC commissioner Mr Satyananda Mishra has stated. The application to the PMO was received on 26 February, 2010, transferred to the external affairs ministry on 16 March, 2010 and then forwarded to the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry on 26 March, 2010. However, it was not known by the Cabinet secretariat whether the RTI applicant had been provided with the information that was sought. The CIC commissioner criticised the PMO for its casual approach. The PMO did not obtain the information from the appropriate ministry after the query was specifically directed to it.

Congress leaders are frothing at the mouth demanding total transparency from members of civil society. Probes have been launched against some of them. Should not the government display equal transparency pertaining to India’s most powerful politician who is the chairperson of the ruling UPA coalition as well as the chairperson of the government’s NAC? They need to answer the following questions:
Did Mrs Gandhi travel abroad on an airline or by a private jet? If the latter, whose jet was it?

What was the purpose of the foreign visit made by the Chairperson of the NAC and the UPA?
What is the itinerary of the NAC Chairperson? Which countries and cities did she, or will she, visit?
And while they are at it, our worthy Congress leaders may as well also address these ancient and perennial questions:
Why does not the government refute the allegation made by a former member of the Soviet government’s official KGB Commission, confirmed by the official spokesman of the Russian government addressing the media, that the KGB had been donating funds to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s family, including her mother, since 1971? Why does the government not demand an apology from the author of the allegation and failing its receipt launch a defamation case against the author and the Russian government?
Why do the government and the Congress party not explain the purpose of the meeting between accused money launderer Hasan Ali and the political secretary of the Congress president, Mr Ahmed Patel, that was investigated and confirmed by Maharashtra police?
The public awaits from Congress leaders Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Digvijay Singh, Mr Kapil Sibal, Mr Chidambaram and the rest, answers to these questions. Transparency, like charity, should begin at home.

The writer is a veteran journalist
and cartoonist

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