UPA (2004 – 2014): Ten Years of Sleaze, Scandals and Squandering


The NDA government, under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power from 1998 to 2004. A lot of progress was made during these 6 years, ranging from the National Highway Development Project, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, privatization of government owned corporations, extra funding and support to information technology, improvements in infrastructure etc. Although the NDA was widely expected to retain power during the 2004 General Elections with the ‘India Shining’ slogan, the Indian National Congress led by Sonia Gandhi became the single largest party and formed the UPA government with the support of other smaller parties. After much drama, Dr. Manmohan Singh became the prime minister of the country. Dr Singh is a renowned economist and widely considered the architect of India’s economic reforms in 1991.

The UPA government retained power during the 2009 General Elections and ruled the country till 2014 May before it was decimated by the Narendra Modi led-NDA government.

The 10-year UPA rule was marked with various scams involving huge amounts of public money and sinful compromise on national security to tarnish the image of their arch-enemy Narendra Modi. We take a brief look at the top 5 ‘contributions’ and ‘achievement’ of the UPA government, some of which are making the headlines to this day.

2G Scam
This scam has been rated by TIME as the second biggest scam in the ‘Top 10 Abuses of Power’ list behind the Watergate scandal. Ministers in the Congress-led UPA government undercharged mobile operators for spectrum allocation licenses. The difference between money collected and that mandated to be collected was estimated by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to be around 1.76 Lakh crores. The Supreme Court of India has declared the allotment of spectrum ‘unconstitutional and arbitrary’ and cancelled the 122 licenses issues in 2008 under DMK’s A Raja. Although the policy for awarding the licenses was supposed to be first-come first-serve, Raja has been instrumental in moving the cut-off date for spectrum allocation forward, thereby eliminating many applicants and enabling him to favour a few applicants (for a hefty sum, of course).

Commonwealth Scam
The Commonweath Games were held in India in 2010. Out of the 70,000 crore rupees spent on the games, it is estimated that only half the said amount was spent on the sportspersons. The Central Vigilance Committee (CVC), involved in the probing the scandal, has found discrepancies in tenders, payment to non-existent parties, willful delays in execution of contract, over inflated prices, misappropriation of funds and irregularities in imported equipment for street-lighting the city during the games. The key players in the scam were the CWG Organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi and the then CM of New Delhi Sheila Dixit.

The CAG has accused the government of allocating coal blocks in an efficient manner during the period 2004 to 2009. The CAG argues that the government had the authority to allocate the blocks by a process of competitive bidding, but chose not to. As a result, both Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) and the private firms paid far less than they might have otherwise. As per CAG, the loss to the ex-chequer as a result of this is to the tune of 1.8 Lakh crores. It must be noted that Dr Manmohan Singh, who has an otherwise clean image, was the coal minister during the time this scandal broke out.

Chopper Scam 
India signed a contract to purchase 12 AugustaWestland AW101 helicopters in February 2010 for the Communication Aquadron of the Indian Air Force, to carry the various VVIPs . Several Indian politicians and military officials have been paid a bribe by AugustaWestland in order to win the $36 billion deal. Ahmed Patel, the political secretary of Sonia Gandhi, has been alleged by Italian prosecutors to have received kickbacks from the deal. Various rules and norms were changed by the government to ensure that there is no competition to AugustaWestland from any other bidders.

Ishrat Jahan fake encounter 
As if looting the nation was not enough, the UPA government was willing to compromise national security by favoring a Lashkar operative to malign the image of the then CM of Gujrat Narendra Modi. A first affidavit filed contained the fact that Ishrat Jahan was an LeT operative who was involved in a mission to assassinate Modi. This fact was deleted in a second affidavit that was filed. The then Home Minister P Chidambaram and Ahmed Patel were the key players in getting this deleted. The investigation saw the caged parrot CBI and the IB pitted against each other, thereby having implications on the national security. All of this was done to prove that the encounter was a fake one and Modi was anti-Muslims.

The 10 years of UPA rule from 2004 to 2014 must be considered as a dark chapter in the history of independent India. Although a lot was expected from the master economist Dr Manmohan Singh, his tenure was filled with large scams and unethical practices. Dr Singh, in spite of knowing everything that was happening under his nose chose to remain silent. That was his way of showing his loyalty to his mistress. He once commented that history will be kinder to him than the media, but that would not happen. History will remember Manmohan Singh as a loyal servant of the Gandhi family and for all the misgovernance that happened during this tenure more than the economic reforms that he brought in.
The need of the hour for the country is a Congress-mukth Bharat. The BJP has played a master stroke in nominating Dr Subramanian Swamy to the Rajya Sabha. They must corner the Congress on the three issues making the headlines today viz Ishrat encounter, Choppergate and Samjhauta Express blasts and slowly but surely ensure the downfall of the Congress party, which has proven to be a curse to independent India.


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