Monday, February 21, 2011

gurumurthy: task force stands by its findings on swiss accounts of dynasty

feb 21st, 2011 CE

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Subramaniam 

Not often do I initiate a mail. But this time I thought the issue is deserving of my indulgence.

That the Indian media, particularly the English News Channels, lack character, finesse, etiquette is something we have experienced.   Here is a glaring case in the point:

On Saturday and Sunday, news channels were full of 'Advani's apology' to Sonia Ghandhi on the swiss bank account issue. They went to town proclaiming, a large majorirty of BJP was 'unhappy' with Advani's 'apology'.

The case is simple: a think tank sponsored by BJP came out wih a report on black money, that said Rajiv and Sonia held swiss bank accounts. (Nothing new or path breaking here.) By the way the report was published on Feb 1 - obviously no news channel thought it fit, at that time, to comment. Sonia wrote a 'private and confidential' letter to Advani saying she was 'distressed' by the publication. Advani responded and offered her his 'regret' on her 'distress'. Not a 'regret' on the publication or its veracity!

What did the media do? They made it appear as if Advani apologized for naming Rajiv and Sonia as holders of swiss accounts! They made it appear as if the think tank report had erred, and Advani was apologizing for the error of the report itself!!

Not a single channel cared to share what exactly Advani said. Neither did they point out that Advani was responding to a 'Private and Confidential' letter from SG, and expressed his 'regret' at SG's 'distess' which any cultured gentleman would do. Obviously such niceties are unknown among the lumpen Congressmen!

It is now clear what Advani said in his letter was most gracious, and becoming a statesman - words, unfortunately,  wasted on a family of uneducated scoundrels - after all Sonia went to England to be a au-pair and to a hole-in-the-wall school to learn spoken english. And Rahul, lesser said the better. The rest, starting from Jayanti N, Kapil S, A Manu S, Pranab M(unfortunately), PC, et al are just self serving scavengers with no principles. PC, must exemplify the character of this gang - waiting for an opportune time to fall upon the dyeing (Manmohan, his mentor?), so that he can feast on the carcass - in wild  animals like Hyenas, Jackals exhibit such behavior.  I am referring to the interview PC gave a US rag (WSJ), self-righteously proclaiming that the Government he is part of, has "indeed" , 'governance deficit' and 'ethical deficit'! The magazine rewarded him by calling him future PM!

Please read the op-ed in todays Indian Express, excerpted below.

'Distress' and 'regret'

First Published : 20 Feb 2011 10:36:00 PM IST

Last Updated : 21 Feb 2011 12:56:04 AM IST

That leaks make news is well known. More sensitive the leaks more shocking the news. The alleged 'apology' of L K Advani to Sonia Gandhi to the Bharatiya Janata Party task force on black money abroad saying that she held secret Swiss bank accounts was indeed a stunner. The leak shocked the BJP to grief, surprised the Congress to joy, and bewildered the media to splits. A plain reading of Advani's letter shows that he has not regretted for the task force report mentioning Sonia's name at all. Yet, thanks to the media spin, the whole country believes he has.

Here is the story of the 'regret'. The task force of the BJP consisting of four specialists — Ajit Doval, a  security expert, Prof Vaidyanathan, a  financial expert, Mahesh Jethmalani, a  senior lawyer and myself, an experienced chartered accountant — had submitted a meticulous report, running to almost 100 pages, on the black money stashed away abroad. Citing two unbiased sources, the task force report had said that Sonia Gandhi family reportedly held huge funds in Swiss banks. This should have made big national news; but it did not. Why?

The Delhi media in strength had attended the release of the task force report by the tall leaders of the BJP and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on February 1; but it hardly reported either the news or the contents of the report. That the task force had mentioned the name of Sonia Gandhi was presumed to be the reason for the self-censorship of the Delhi media. But, ironically, what the release of the task force report could not achieve, the leak of the 'apology' letter seems to be achieving. The clever leak of Advani's letter, intended to abort any discussion on Sonia Gandhi family's alleged Swiss bank accounts, has inevitably drawn her into it. Because, as the Delhi media discusses what the 'apology' is for, it is forced to refer to the Swiss account of Sonia Gandhi family mentioned in the task force report.

The report cited two independent, credible sources for the alleged secret Swiss accounts and other secret funds of the Sonia Gandhi family. The first was an exposure in the most popular news magazine of Switzerland, Schweizer Illustrierte (November 11, 1991). The Swiss magazine had alleged that some 14 leaders of third world countries had stashed away their bribes in Swiss banks; the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with $2.2 billions in secret accounts was one of them. The next was a research book, based on the declassified KGB documents, written by Yuvegina Albats, a Russian journalist. The KGB documents cited by Albats said that, in the year 1985, when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, he had expressed gratefulness to the KGB for financial favours shown to the Gandhi family. The task force report had also pointed out that A G Noorani, well-known columnist, first wrote about these exposes in The Statesman newspaper in 1988; later, Subramanian Swamy put out the photocopies of the Swiss magazine and the extracts of Albats' book in the Janata Party website from 2001; subsequently, well-known columnist Rajinder Puri wrote about Albats' expose in his column in 2005; afterwards, I wrote about it in detail in the year 2009 and again in January this year in The New Indian Express; finally, Ram Jethmalani wrote on it in India Today. The task force pointed out that the Gandhi family did not contest nor dare sue any of the writers or publishers in or outside India. It had also contrasted their silence with how Morarji Desai, when he was 87, filed a $50 million damages suit in US when Seymour Hersh wrote in his book that Desai was a CIA agent, disproved the charge and saved his and the nation's honour. The task force asked why the Gandhi family did not emulate Desai to establish the honour of Rajiv Gandhi and the nation. The task force had also pointed out that to make the matters worse, when an advertisement containing the alleged Swiss accounts in Sonia family name was issued in The New York Times issued by some NRIs at the time of Sonia Gandhi's visit to US in 2008, the Indian National Overseas Congress sued for $100 millions in damages to defend the honour of Sonia Gandhi but did not contest the allegation about Swiss money; and it also withdrew the suit!

After the task force report was released, on February 15, Sonia Gandhi wrote a secret, not open, letter to Advani expressing her disappointment at a person of his stature releasing the task force report of the BJP endorsing what she called as "scurrilous allegations" against her family, which she had treated with "contempt". Are the exposes Schweizer Illustrierte and Albats scurrilous? On February 16, expressing happiness at her denial of the allegations, Advani said that had she denied it earlier the task force would have factored it in its report. He concluded, "Even so, I deeply regret the distress caused to you", which made the Congress to gloat over. Explicitly, it is no regret for the report mentioning her family's alleged Swiss accounts. A dignified regret for the personal distress has been turned into a political apology.

The task force has asserted that it is the author of the report. The BJP or NDA could accept or reject its report. But, they considered the report, accepted and released it. The task force members have reiterated that they stand by every word of their report including about the alleged secret funds of the Sonia Gandhi family based on the sources cited. The task force is an independent body of domain specialists. It has castigated all political parties and all political leaders as lacking in credibility, thus not sparing the BJP, which had sought its views. The leak has only helped to confirm the independence of the task force. And more, it has also helped to lift the self-censorship of the Delhi media and open the alleged Sonia Gandhi family Swiss accounts for public debate

S Gurumurthy is awell-known commentator on political and
economic issues



Uddharet said...

Advani's letter is indeed "A dignified regret for the personal distress..." The mistake Mr Advani committed was to assume that the recipient of the letter was a civilized, cultured person. Also, he probably wrote the letter because the intended recipient is the widow of a former PRIME MINISTER of India, whatever be the personal traits of the said PRIME MINISTER.
Any ordinary, educated person in India and other civilized countries of the world should contrast Mr Advani's cultured behaviour with that of the person who used the vile vituperative words, "Merchant of Death" etc., against a highly respected leader of Mr Advani's own party, Mr Narendra Modi.

Prakash Narayanan said...

Hi Rajeev,
I agree to the comment of Gurumurthy. But there lies the big question then. If Advani or BJP feels now that Advani was "mis interpreted" why cant they openly say it to the media once again?