Imagine if those who make the most important decisions regarding national security, worked in cahoots to undermine it. Imagine if they made the entire government machinery work towards compromising national security, in order to make a quick buck. Imagine if they did business with those who were an existential threat to the very country that they were entrusted to look after, and that they manipulated the ground realities to advance political agendas. Obviously one wouldn’t consider them the guardian angels that they were meant to be. Turns out, National Security was something that UPA government played with not once, not twice but on numerable occasions.
Some disturbing revelations which have come to light recently indicate that this was exactly what happened in India between 2004 and 2014. Sub-par military equipment was purchased. Some terrorists were allowed to go while innocent people were framed, some terrorists were freed, and some terrorists were acquitted and made martyrs of. Furthermore, the military was systematically weakened. In some cases, there is enough ground to believe that beyond the illegal monetary benefits, there existed some kind of quid-pro-quo between the erstwhile dispensation and those who pulled the strings in Pakistan.
The latest defense-related scam to emerge is the Ficantieri ship scam. The Congress Party with its Bofors Scam legacy has been quite adept at the game of receiving kickbacks in exchange for providing the military with sub-standard equipment. The Agusta Westland Scam, of which much has come to haunt the party once again, dealt with choppers used by VVIPs. Had these choppers been sub-standard and affected those using them adversely, the country would have probably been better off. But the ship scam was in the domain of naval tankers, those ships which provide frontline warships with fuel and other supplies. The UPA government ordered two of these ships in 2009, and not surprisingly the shipbuilding firm was Italian. Almost every shady defense deal during the UPA regime was conducted with an Italian company, and people wonder if they have anything to do with the UPA chairwoman’s origin. But that aside, what roused suspicion about the deal was how the then government allowed this firm to use commercial grade steel instead of weapon grade steel to manufacture these ships. On its maiden voyage, one of the ships ran into rough seas and its brand new hull developed cracks. Why did the then government accept a lower quality of steel for these ships? Was the then government at peace with the fact that this would put our navy in grave danger? Was it oblivious of the fact that this would weaken the country in a war? Or were some people bribed to such an extent that they couldn’t care less?
A few days back, the saffron-clad brigade languishing in jail was given a clean chit. Under the UPA government, some men and women with right wing and Hindutva affiliations were implicated for the Samjhauta and the Malegaon blasts. Now, it has emerged that both the blasts were carried out by Pakistani terror groups. It has also emerged that this intelligence was passed on to the then Indian government by no less than the United Nations and the United States of America. Why it is that this was systematically ignored and not acted upon, is quite clear. The then government was seeking to legitimize the term ‘Saffron Terror’ and take it right up to the RSS’s doorstep. This would provide them a huge political one-upmanship. They detained some of the accused without a charge sheet for eight years, and had their officers torture them to get a favorable response. Now, the truth has emerged and those who were framed are beginning to walk free. But the larger question here is, did the then government let the Pakistani terrorists go scot free so that they could carry out their domestic political maneuvers? At least this looks to be the case, and unfortunately the possibility of these Pakistani terrorists working for the then Indian establishment or having some quid-pro-quo with them cannot be ruled out.
We know now that the UPA government freed the terrorist who functioned as the chief handler during the Pathankot Airbase attack earlier this year. Twenty-five such Pakistani terrorists were freed in 2010, as a goodwill gesture to our neighbor. Why so much goodwill two years after the gruesome attacks in Mumbai, especially when the other side’s inaction and refusal to cooperate wasn’t lost on anybody, is mind-boggling. Were our decision makers on Pakistan’s payroll? Or were they simply nincompoops? The terrorist in question was earlier sought by his colleagues when they infamously hijacked the Indian Airlines flight. This was one man that India refused to part with, knowing fully well what he was capable of. Vajpayee was at the helm of affairs back then. What changed?
In 2004, some terrorists who wanted to murder the then Gujarat chief minster Narendra Modi, were bumped off by the local police. Contrary to what the country’s foremost forensic labs concluded, the then UPA government chose to term the encounter between the terrorists and the cops as ‘fake’. Further, there was a systematic attempt to take the ‘terrorist’ tag off one of the terrorists, Ishrat Jahan, and project her as some sort of a martyr. This was evident when the second affidavit filed in court by the UPA government left out all the references to Ishrat’s links to the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which were explicitly stated in the first affidavit. Several senior officials of the home ministry, and now photographic evidence of the affidavit in question, indicate that the then home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram was responsible for this modification. On what grounds did this modification take place? Did the erstwhile establishment stand to benefit politically, especially in regard to one community, by changing the entire complexion of the case? Did this result in a Pakistani terror group going scot free after attempting to assassinate an Indian chief minister?
Perhaps, the UPA government’s attitude towards national security was best on display when it came to light that during the A K Antony era, India had a huge shortage of arms and ammunitions.
Had we been forced to fight a war back then, our supplies would have been exhausted in twenty days. This was nothing short of a joke, considering how vulnerably the country’s positioned and the massive population that needs to be guarded. The man responsible for the upkeep of the military watched it get run down under his nose, while he sanctioned expensive purchases of third grade equipment which in turn enriched others. His motives and obligations, as well as his so-called integrity now seem highly questionable.
Enough is enough. India cannot afford to look at its political class with impartiality. It cannot afford to look at each player through the same prism. It needs to get used to the fact that the Congress Party isn’t a conventional political party, that it is indeed a sort of mafia. Corrupt individuals exist in every political organization, but this extent to which the Congress Party has taken this spectacle is despicable. Their game was at a whole new level. They were willing to sell the country, to compromise on national security, to promote elements which were detrimental, as long as it benefitted them personally. Under no circumstance do backstabbers of this order deserve to rule the country. The country needs to come together and systematically annihilate this organization, for it is India’s biggest existential threat.