Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said that the Congress and its ministers were “not vigilant enough” to keep a check on corruption, but maintained it would be “illogical” to blame his party for the menace simply because it was in power.
“Corruption cases have been there in every government and I am not denying that. Corruption cases were registered in the 10 years when the UPA was in office. The Congress has been in office earlier also, when Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were prime ministers,” Chidambaram said.
“The government of the day the Congress or any other party...let me take the Congress party. The Congress party and party ministers were not vigilant enough to put down corruption. Anyone who abetted corruption, punish him. Nobody said that you should not punish a Congress minister just because he belongs to the Congress,” he added.
The Rahya Sabha MP from Maharashtra also said it might appear that Congress has declined, but that does not mean it cannot rise again.
He was responding to a question after his keynote address in a session ‘India@70’ at the Delhi Literature Festival.
Chidambaram said there is corruption at the lowest level and pointed out cases where government officials were caught taking bribe with Rs 2000 notes.
“Only the other day a Military Engineering Services engineer was caught red-handed with Rs 2,000 notes and two officials of the Kandla port were caught red-handed with Rs 2,000 notes. Corruption is there. All you can point out that government is being not vigilant.
“The point is if you say because the Congress party was in power you see all this corruption, then it is mixing up cause and effect relationship. That is illogical.
“There is corruption in contracts, auctioning, services that are being rendered everyday, police thanas and municipal offices,” he added.
Several “scams” rocked the UPA-2 government and it was also one of the reasons for Congress’ defeat in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and the party was reduced to its lowest tally of 44. He, however, denied the party is facing any leadership crisis.
“If two (BJP’s tally in 1984 Lok Sabha polls) can become 282 (BJP’s tally in 2014). Don’t think 44 cannot become 244. I recognise the challenges we face. I also recognise the limitations we have in terms of organisation. I don’t agree with the assessment that Mr Modi won an election and therefore he will win every election.”
“It is a view that the Congress has still not regained or regrouped itself. In 1977, we lost every seat but one in North India from Gujarat to Assam. The South gave us significant seat. The Congress party bounced back. It might appear that we have declined, but that does not mean we cannot rise again,” Chidambaram said.