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RAM JETHMALANI
ETHICS & POWER

Ram Jethmalani is a senior politician and eminent lawyer.

Open letter to Pranab Mukherjee

The present campaign is intended to prevent Mr Mukherjee from injuring the august office of President.

Pranab Mukherjee

his letter is being signed by a few like-minded citizens who know something about your political history and what part you have played in Indian politics so far.

The signatories believe that what they write is the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the people of India. However in the ensuing elections for electing a President, the electors are few, the right to vote being confined only to Members of Parliament and the State Legislatures.

The people will effectively vote in 2014. The present campaign is intended, of course, to prevent you from injuring the august office of President, but also to educate the voters of 2014 about your lack of qualifications for the job and your positive disqualifications for venturing to become the occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Limitations of space and time both necessarily compel only a truthful and accurate summary of the people's case against you. The present epistle is in the form of a charge sheet presented in the court of the Sovereign People of India, who will themselves speak after two years. Yet, we hope that the elected representative in the various legislatures will allow this duty to the nation to override and trump their loyalty to the political party to which they happen to belong or the leaders of those parties. People of India do hope that the Congress and some of its allies who have endorsed your candidature will pay heed to this document and gracefully withdraw you from the contest. We do realise this kind of good sense in the Congress is too much to hope for.

CHARGE NO. 1

During the scandalous Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975 and the resulting suspension of human rights of all citizens and the virtual demise of democracy, you were a very loyal, though a small time supporter of the Emergency. You fully supported it and participated in its misdeeds. You cannot honestly claim that at least in some small measure you expressed your disapproval of its evil or that you prevented a single atrocity inflicted upon some honest citizen. Citizens possessed of the highest intellectual, moral and spiritual qualifications were the victims. You saved none. Throughout the Emergency, you acted like a loyal servant of the Gandhi family and what is worse, you were a complete collaborator with the main criminal of the Emergency i.e., the late Sanjay Gandhi. You treated him as your boss.

Recently, sometime in 2010, you wrote a book on the 125th anniversary of the Congress party. In this book you openly indicted Sanjay Gandhi for being solely responsible for all the excesses of the government during that disgraceful period of 1975-1977. This statement of yours is a true and voluntary confession. You have pleaded guilty to the charge that the Emergency was an unconstitutional aberration, but you suggest that the person responsible was Sanjay Gandhi. You are trying to find a posthumous defence for his mother. What kind of Prime Minister was she to have abdicated her duty to the nation and allowed an uneducated automobile repairing son to lodge innocent people in jail and lunatic wards, to suppress the freedom of the press and cover up all his crimes with the slogan "India is Indira and Indira is India"? You are the originator of this slogan and we believe that Devkant Barua learnt it from you and not the other way round. During this period you were a Minister of State for Revenue and Expenditure. You have not been able to claim, even till today, that you gave any good advice to Sanjay and he desisted because of your good advice.

CHARGE NO. 2

You were a party to the inhuman and wholly illegal incarceration of two of India's great women, the late Gayatri Devi and the Rajmata Vijaya Raje of Gwalior, both cultivated and socially evolved souls, in the cell of prisons, condemned to death in Tihar jail.

For one of them, you had even recorded a note that she should be released. But under pressure, you superimposed on it a new note with a wholly opposite opinion. The Shah Commission recorded a finding that you committed a forgery and destroyed evidence of your own opinion on that rare occasion.

Your services rendered to Sanjay and his mother were obviously appreciated by the two major criminals. After the ignominious fall of the Janata government, you were duly rewarded for your Emergency services with a promotion as the full fledged Minister of Finance. This reward was obviously also for another great service which you rendered to both of them before the fall of the Janata government. This consisted of your conduct before the Shah Commission. The following finding of the Shah Commission in para 7.49 is worth quoting, "7.49 Although Shri Pranab Mukherjee assisted the Commission at the preliminary stage of the fact finding inquiry, he did not file any statement in the case, as was required to be done under Rule 5 (2) (a) of the Commission of Inquiry (Central) Rules 1972. He had responded to the summons u/s. 8B of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952. But he refused to take oath and tender evidence."

Your confession of 2010 shows your knowledge of excesses during Emergency. Why did you not speak of those excesses to the Shah Commission and help it to determine the truth? Of course you did show your loyalty to your erstwhile benefactors and conspirators, but you failed in your duty to truth and democracy. The Emergency was over and nobody had any fear from the new government. Even then, you did not summon courage to speak the truth.

CHARGE NO. 3

That thereafter you have been a member of every Cabinet in a Congress or Congress-led government. In the 1980s, as Commerce and Finance Minister, you were better known for tailoring policies to favour a particular corporate group to the extent that both in Parliament and press you were dubbed as a minister for that corporate group. Your ideological orientation towards crony capitalism has further been exposed in your present stint as Finance Minister by a former SEBI board member, K.M. Abraham, who has accused you and your powerful officer on special duty of being aligned with certain corporate groups, including your long time favourites. You have also been associated with the rice export scam. Nor did you distinguish yourself for integrity as Minister for Defence between 2004 and 2006, during which tenure both the Scorpene deal case and the Navy War Room Leak case surfaced.

CHARGE NO. 4

One of the signatories to this letter is Mr Ram Jethmalani. In an article published by him around the year 2000 on the "Role of the President under the Constitution of India" he writes: "Whatever be the President's legal powers, his real power rests son his moral stature and the public esteem he enjoys. With a nod of disapproval or a twinkle in his eye, a President can bring back to the straight track of probity and wisdom a derailed Council of Ministers. A threat from the President to resign, and take the people into confidence when he is advised to act against the law, Constitution or the Salus Populi, can make a Prime Minister retrace his steps. Unfortunately, at least one President disgraced the office by declaring a phoney Emergency. The President must act as the conscience of the nation and political parties should resist the temptation of looking for rubber stamps."

We don't think any sensible person will disagree about this supreme qualification of a President. We charge that you

do not possess this qualification in any shape or form. You are totally bereft of it. Your occupying the august position will be a disgrace to the Republic of India.

Bengal has given us stalwarts like Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Swami Vivekananda, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, Sri Aurobindo, Rash Behari Bose, Rabindranath Tagore and many others. You are a disgrace to each of them.

To be continued

 
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