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'Misuse' of PSUs: Ministers' dismissal sought

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI NOV. 21. The Congress today demanded a probe by a Parliamentary panel into allegations of `misuse' of Public Sector Undertakings by six Union Ministers and their dismissal from the Council of Ministers.

While the party demanded a parliamentary probe through a memorandum to the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, it added the issue of dismissal of the Ministers at a regular party briefing in the wake of ``fresh evidence gathered.''

However, the Bharatiya Janata Party dismissed the Congress charge, saying that even the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary had clarified on the issue.

The party general secretary, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, criticised the Congress move to petition the President based on a newspaper report and said it reflected the party's ``bankruptcy''.

In its memorandum, the Congress conveyed its ``deep distress at the cavalier manner'' in which the Union Government was treating media reports that the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) has uncovered a ``most disturbing story of moral turpitude reaching into the highest echelons of the Government.''

The President told the delegation that he would look into the matter.

Instead of pro-actively ascertaining the spread and range of corruption in his Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister had chosen to hide behind `obfuscation', the Congress said. Whether the CVC did or did not name the Ministers involved was not the issue, the party said, and argued it was the duty of the Prime Minister to ascertain who were the Ministers and drop them from the Cabinet.

Expressing astonishment that while the BJP-led NDA Government tried to ``discredit'' the PSUs as the baseline of their disinvestment policy, Ministers of the same Government should be treating them as ``source of money making for their personal and party purposes,'' the memorandum said.

``This scam has come at the climax of a series of other scams which have not only smudged the reputation of the Government at present in office but have seriously discredited our democracy and thrown into question probity in public life,'' it said.

Elaborating on the reasons for seeking a Parliamentary probe into the allegations, it said that past experience showed that only parliamentary committees were endowed with the authority to ferret out wrong-doing and asserted there was no contradiction between its demand and investigation by the agencies concerned.

Referring to the recent exposure of the Union Minister, Dilip Singh Judev, allegedly accepting money from an agent of a foreign company, the Congress charged that the manner in which the whole matter had been dealt with showed that the Government was not at all concerned with corruption in high places.

Briefing presspersons, the party chief spokesperson, S. Jaipal Reddy said the delegation also informed the President about a news report carried by a Telugu daily naming the six Ministers.

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