NEW DELHI: The CAG’s assessment of “presumptive losses” in the allocation of 2G spectrum and coal blocks, followed by the 2011 anti-graft movement led by activist Anna Hazare, sealed the fate of the UPA government which lost the battle of perception as corruption charges against it were hurled by the Opposition, former Union minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal believes.
“The notion of presumptive losses, created by the then CAG, in the allocation of spectrum and coal blocks gave rise to allegations of scams of the highest order. Right decisions were portrayed as acts of vandalism by the Opposition; we were painted by the media as a corrupt lot, frittering away valuable national resources, benefiting specific entities and were charged with crony capitalism. I believe all this could have been defended,” Sibal says in his book Shades of Truth: A Journey Derailed, to be launched on Friday by former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
He goes on to say that the subsequent protests in Delhi by Hazare and his aides, who had political ambitions, backed by BJP-RSS, dealt further blows to the UPA. The government's nod to a joint committee of these activists towards framing the anti-graft watchdog Lokpal, was a big mistake in particular, says the Congress veteran.
"The government succumbed, which I believe was a mistake," says Sibal, adding that Hazare's subsequent fast, his arrest and later release from Tihar Jail under public pressure “portrayed the government as weak and unsure”.
Describing the anti-graft protests along with the widespread public anger over the brutal gang rape and murder of Nirbhaya in December 2012 as symptoms of Arab Spring in India, Sibal says candlelight marches and skirmishes with the police that followed again portrayed the government as unresponsive.
He attributes the Congress defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls as people's desire for a change.