(In the Know Your Candidate series, tfipost.com will profile interesting candidates in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections.)
The Congress has released a second list of its candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, which includes 21 candidates. The list contains some important names such as Raj Babbar and Priya Dutt. The list also includes former Union Coal Minister, Sriprakash Jaiswal. He is going to be fielded from Kanpur.
Sriprakash Jaiswal had made headlines towards the fag end of the UPA’s tenure for an embarrassing reason. His name had cropped up in association with the Coalgate scam. The Coal Allocation scam which had rocked the UPA government, came to light in 2012 when the CAG revealed that the then governing body had allocated 216 coal blocks to public and private enterprises between 1993 and 2006. The Congress faced widespread criticism over this scam, among several others and the Grand Old party was never really able to recover politically.
The Coalgate scam came to light during Jaiswal’s tenure. The BJP had come down heavily on the then union Coal Minister and the Congress. At that time BJP spokesperson, Ravi Shankar Prasad had said, “It is truly amazing that the entrepreneurial skills of the kith and kin of UPA ministers shine only when the brothers are ministers.” BJP had then targeted Jaiswal and one of his predecessors, Santosh Bagrodia. Reports had stated that Bagrodia’s brother got a coal block allocation worth Rs. 23,000 crore and Jaiswal had also helped a company in getting a similarly lucrative deal. In a stinging attack, Prasad had said, “Sriprakash Jaiswal had recently said all Jaiswals are his relatives. I won’t say anything on this but some Jaiswals are definitely close to him. Was he an arbitrator in the dispute of one Manoj Jaiswal in 2008? In what capacity was he an arbitrator? Manoj is involved with Abhijeet group, with which the Darda brothers are also connected.” The coal issue had proved too hot to handle for Jaiswal even in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. BJP veteran leader, Murli Manohar Joshi defeated him by 2,22,946 votes in the Kanpur Lok Sabha constituency.
However, coal block allocation is not the only controversy that has brought him into the limelight. In October 2012, he had recieved angry reactions after a sexist and misogynistic remark. He had said “Nayi nayi jeet aur nayi nayi shaadi, iska apna alag mahatva hota hai … jaise jaise samay beetega … jeet ki yaadein purani hoti jayegi ; jaise jaise samay beet ta hai , patni purani hoti chali jati hai , wo maza nahi rehta hai (A new victory and a new marriage have their own importance. But as times passes, the memories of a victory go old and as time passes, a wife gets old, the same charm is not there).” This obviously invited widespread criticism from several quarters. Even the NCW had demanded an apology from the former minister.
The Congress might have committed a big mistake by fielding him from Kanpur once again. The ghosts of the Coalgate might just come back to haunt the grand old party.