People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Insidious Hinduja Influence
On Vajpayee Regime
THE close links of the Vajpayee regime with the Hinduja brothers is well known. The arms dealers, who initially made their fortune out of commissions from brokering arms deals for the Shah of Iran, have tremendous clout with the Prime Ministers Office and of those who matter in the BJP.
So far it was assumed that this was primarily a linkage which benefited the Hindujas business interests in return for financial favours. Even when it became known that the Hindujas were directly involved in receiving kickbacks for the Bofors gun deal, it did not hamper their access to the corridors of power. In fact, the proximity of the Hindujas to Atal Behari Vajpayee, even before he became the prime minister, is well known.
If the Hindujas insidious influence on the Vajpayee regime was bad enough, what is now being revealed about their role as political middlemen, interfering in state to state affairs, is more damning. In Britain, the money used by the Hindujas to buy favours led to the resignation of a senior minister in the Blair government, Peter Mandelson. The Hindujas had promptly got British citizenship after donating a million pounds for the Millennium Dome project. Since then, the activities of the Hindujas have been under public scrutiny there.
The revelation that it was the Hindujas who arranged the meeting with the British prime minister for Brajesh Mishra, principal secretary to the prime minister, has now exposed another more sinister aspect of their link with the BJP ruling circles. The British media have published the letter from the Hindujas to the chief of staff to the British prime minister. It is not just a simple letter seeking an appointment for Brajesh Mishra. It dwells on the stand of Madeleine Albright, the US secretary of state, and the need to ask the British foreign secretary Robin Cook to persuade Albright to soften her stand. It goes on to talk about "a China-Islamic access pivoting on Pakistan." Not only was the appointment granted courtesy the Hindujas, but two of the brothers also accompanied Brajesh Mishra to 10, Downing Street. The British prime ministers spokesperson has confirmed that the Hindujas were present at the instance of Brajesh Mishra.
This extraordinary incident shows how the Vajpayee government conducts its diplomacy and state to state affairs. Not only are the countrys economic assets being parcelled out to big business houses and MNCs, foreign policy and matters of national security are now the province of dubious business lobbies. The privatisation of the government itself has become a characteristic of the BJP-led regime.
The apologists for the government cite the fact that the Hindujas were not chargesheeted in the Bofors case at that time. It was well known in June 1998 that the Hindujas were deeply involved in the Bofors kickbacks. At that time, they were fighting a legal battle in the Swiss courts to block the transfer to the CBI in India of the confidential bank papers naming them as beneficiaries. The principal secretary approaching the British prime minister through such people, speaks volumes about the probity of the present government. It makes a mockery of their own professed commitment to punish those guilty of taking bribes in the Bofors gun deal. It is this prevalent immorality and cynicism which is shown in its worst light in the Tehelka exposures.
The ministry of external affairs has trotted out a ridiculous defence of the use of the Hindujas for this high level diplomacy. It says it was done in the "national interest." For the Vajpayee government, there seems to be no distinction between the interests of the Hindujas and the national interests.
It now seems from the media reports that the Hindujas performed a similar service for Brajesh Mishra with the French president, Chirac. At this rate, we might as well contract out Indias diplomatic service to some influential business houses like the Hindujas. This sordid episode confirms the dire necessity to get rid of this government in the national interest.