Manmohan admits to 'pervasive' graft

Manmohan admits to 'pervasive' graft

Following a high-level meeting of the DMK, the party leadership decided to send T R Baalu to attend the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh whose government has six ministers from the southern party. No representative from either the Samajwadi Party or the BSP, which were invited to the dinner, attended the party.

Incidentally, Mamata Banerjee, chief of another key UPA ally Trinamool Congress, was also absent. The Trinamool Congress was represented by its chief whip in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay as the new West Bengal chief minister busied herself with government work in Kolkata.

In the backdrop of DMK leader M Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi’s arrest in the 2G spectrum allocation scandal case, the Prime Minister ack­nowledged the “pervasiven­ess of corruption” in government while releasing the second progress report of UPA II at the dinner whose lustre was obviously missing because of the absence of DMK leaders.

“The developments have caused many concerned citizens to worry about the state of governance and the pervasiveness of corruption. These are legitimate concerns and the UPA government is determined to take corrective action,” Singh, who has been faci­ng public anger over co­­­rruption scandals and the la­gging performance of his government, said. The UPA-II second anniversary party took place amidst speculations on the ailing DMK patriarch’s possible visit to Delhi to discuss the alliance and to explore the opp­ortunities to bail out his daughter whom he supported so far.

Singh assured that the due processes of law were already in motion to punish the high and mighty who are facing criminal charges in various corruption charges. “We are taking steps to prevent such developments in future and reduce discretionary and arbitrary use of power by public officials,” he said.

In the past, the Congress high command had suggested shedding discretionary powers by CMs. But it did not find favour with many CMs who felt that doi­ng away with their discreti­onary powers would be counter-productive.

But Singh’s statement coupled with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's call to keep high standards of probity and transparency indicates that the government still considers giving up the discretionary power as one of the key instruments to fight corruption.

While Singh did not attack the opposition, Sonia did not spare the the BJP without naming the party. “Some Opposition parties do not share the same high standard of probity when it comes to their own,” she said referring to various corruption charges against the B S Yeddyruppa government in Karnataka.

Singh and Sonia promised that the much-awaited legislation on the Right to Food would be introduced in the Parliament soon.

Also a bill on the new land acquisition policy and the Lok Pal bill would be introduced in the monsoon session, Gandhi said.

The government has worked out a national livelihood mission which will eventually allow almost half of the country’s womenfolk to become members of various self-help groups, through which they can get cheap bank loans, she added.

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