Lost in the noise over the Prime Minister asserting that nobody was above the law and that he was open to being questioned by the CBI ~ dared he have said anything drastically different ~ was an observation that revealed his distinct contempt for various agencies, the apex court among them, seeking to rid this nation of the scourge of corruption. Manmohan Singh&’s contention that despite scams perpetrated in his first prime ministerial term, the UPA was returned to power indicates that in his political manual votes serve to obliterate the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General, parliamentary committees, investigative agencies like the CBI and a host of judicial actions. In his conversation with the media on the return flight from Beijing ~ he ducks press meets when on the ground ~ he rejected suggestions that his government was losing out because of several high-profile scams. And proceeded to point out that the 2G and CWG swindles related to the UPA-I days but the 2009 verdict was favourable, adding that “I am confident when the results of 2014 are known the country will once again be surprised.” This dubious line of thinking is not an aberration ~ he has previously argued that the same verdict was the authentic public response to the cash-for-votes scam. To be fair to Mr Singh there was a precedent to a government purchasing votes ~ Narasimha Rao had been convicted for buying up the support of Jharkand Mukti Morcha members of the Lok Sabha.
It might be asking too much of the Election Commission to evaluate the influence such prime ministerial comments would have on the purity of the poll process, does it not point to a perverse mindset? Maybe the Supreme Court could take note, it does help explain the thinking behind the former law minister trying to condition a CBI report, the manner in which sensitive files pertaining to coal block allocations went missing, the political muscle used to destroy a joint parliamentary probe… This is taking “winnability” to an entirely new level, “up” or “down” being a matter of interpretation. It also offers some insight into why parties indulge in the shenanigans that brazenly violate the model code of conduct. After all, Mr Singh&’s theory that votes suffice to give criminals a clean chit makes a mockery of the recently-enforced law that requires convicted legislators quitting the House. No wonder the UPA was so keen on the ordinance and substantive legislation to undo the judicial directive. Of course there is no likelihood of Rahul Gandhi junking this theory as “complete nonsense”, his own bids at vote-catching are becoming increasingly “sick”. Mr Clean may have kept his hands unsullied, his thinking is putrid ~ a vote is not a licence to loot.
Where&’s the power?
Coinciding with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh&’s visit to Moscow and on a direction to Atomstroyexport, supplier of two Voda Voda Energo Reactors (pressurrised light water reactors) to the Koodankulam nuclear power plant being set up by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, the KKNNP authorities announced that on the night of 21 October, the 1,000 MWe Unit 1 produced 160 MWe power and this was successfully transmitted to the southern grid at Abhishekapatti in Tamil Nadu. Production of power ceased before daybreak. Though the reactor, which achieved criticality on the night of 11 July, continues to generate steam, the turbine is not producing any power. Authoritative sources say the reactor is not able to build sufficient pressure to turn the turbine to generate power. The plant was scheduled to be commissioned in 2007. Mr Singh announced in Moscow on 15 December 2011 that it would be commissioned in two weeks’ time. In April this year, he announced at the BRICS conference in Durban that the plant would start generating power within a fortnight. Like Shakespeare&’s “tomorrow and tomorrow,” the PM&’s fortnight never came. V Narayanasamy, minister of state in the PMO has, in the last two years, given 89 deadlines for the commissioning of the plant and on 6 October, he told a Tamil TV station that KKNPP had supplied 400MW power from Koodankulam to Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGDCO). On 22 October, he said the power output would be raised to 350 MW by the 25th and to 500 MW before the end of this month. Contradicting Narayanasamy, Sudarsana Nachiappan, another Union minister, said that several parts of the plant were found defective and the government was awaiting replacement from Russia. In the mean time, KKNPP announced another synchronising with the Southern Grid on 25 October, the quantum of power touching 180 MW. After many a false start, TANGDCO has given up taking into account any power from KKNPP. A status report on power supply in the State presented by Chief Minister Jayalalitha in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on the same day did not take into account any power from Koodankulam.
The government should be honest and transparent about its nuclear power projects and take people into confidence instead of hiding behind a veil of secrecy. India and the Soviet Union signed an Inter-governmental Agreement in 1988 for the setting up of Units 1 and 2 of the KKNPP. There is no sign of the plant producing any electricity even in the silver jubilee year of the agreement. That Russia had supplied shoddy, substandard equipment for the KKNPP is an open secret. Men responsible for it from ZiO-Podolsk and Informtekh, suppliers of equipment, are in Russian jails for corruption. The government is playing with lives and livelihoods.