Congress in troubled waters- Finding the way out
Friday was the day of awakening for the ruling United Progressive Alliance led by Congress. Bowing to public pressure its two ministers who were embroiled in corruption charges had to make way. Railway minister, Pawan Kumar Bansal and law minister Ashwani Kumar were shown the door. Interestingly, both the ministers are from North India and their departure is set to create a vacuum in the ministry, when it comes to inducting ministers from North India.
Rumours were also building that Manmohan Singh was initially hesitant to remove the minsters as both of them were considered to be close to him. However, Sonia Gandhi was adamant on removing the tainted ministers and after a hectic discussion with the Prime Minister for over 45 minutes, it was decided that both Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar will have to resign.
It is also worth mentioning here that for the first time in Indian political history has such circumstances built up that two central ministers had to resign in a single day and that too for corruption related charges. The ruling Congress will like to derive political mileage from the episode as it was under pressure to act against the ministers.
The principle opposition party, the BJP that had to bow out of power in Karnataka only two days ago on corruption charges too finds itself in a tight spot. Congress can now go around boasting that it is a party that works on principles and does not tolerate corruption in any form.
On their parts both the ministers had issued clarifications too. While Pawan Kumar Bansal pointed out that he was resigning due to the misconduct of his nephew, Ashwani Kumar cited that he would not want to create a political problem for the party, especially when the Lok Sabha polls are fast approaching.
Both the ministers reached the residence of Prime Minister around 9 pm and shortly the resignations were announced. While it is not clear as to who will hold the charge in the railway ministry, the name of Kapil Sibal is doing the rounds for the post of law minister.
Congress spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das was quick to offer the comments on the emerging scenario. The spokesperson pointed out that while the Congress party was quick to act on matters related to corruption and has given marching orders to its ministers in one day, the BJP needs to explain as to why it did not take remedial action in time in states like Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh where its Chief Minsters were facing such allegations of corruption.
This war of words is set to escalate in coming times and both parties seem to be prepared for the same. However, in this war of scoring points over the political rivals, one at times forgets the real issues. The need of the hour to look for the root cause of this corruption and merely seeking the resignation of minsters will not solve the problem in longer perspective. Congress and BJP know this very well but choose to shun away the menace of corruption and seek short term remedial measures, which sadly are not too good for a thriving democracy like India.