|Source: News Bharati|
New Delhi, February 24: A question of denial of information about Sonia Gandhi and Gandhi family has come up.
This history is being repeated as the Nation is asking a question that what does Sonia Gandhi have in her income tax returns that she doesn’t reveal. This question arises when Ms Gandhi flippantly showed a dust bin to a Right to Information application. Isn’t this a betrayal of Nation?
Given are some representative reactions about the secrecy that has maintained by not only Congress Party but also the otherwise hyper and over-smart media of India. The Rajdeeps, the Burkha’s The Thapars, the Roys, the Arnavs and who not, all had kept a fatal silence on the issue of Cong chief Sonia Gandhi’s surgery abroad which had triggered many unanswered questions in the minds of entire nation and also in the minds of much suppressed Congress workers who are crouching under the dynastic rule of the Gandhi Family.
Secrecy continues to shroud Sonia's illness (expressbuzz.com, 8 Aug 2011)
Dynastic secrecy protected by India’s tame media (independent.co.uk/, 3 Oct 2011)
Sonia goes under scalpel in US as secrecy surrounds her ailment (deccanherald.com, 4 Aug 2011)
The Hindu Article Questions Secrecy about Sonia Gandhi's Health (IndiaTV, 22 Sept 2011)
Dynasty wrapped in needless secrecy (The Pioneer, 7 Sept 2011)
Sonia Gandhi’s health can’t be a state secret, it’s not about privacy (Asian Window, 5 Aug 2011)
India's media accused of omertà over Sonia Gandhi's health (Guardian, UK, 22 Sept 2011)
The omertà on Sonia Gandhi's illness (The Hindu, 22 Sept 2011)
This issue has again jumped up when, V Gopalakrishnan, a Chennai-based RTI activist, filed an RTI application with the Income Tax Department seeking details of Sonia Gandhi’s tax returns from 2000-01 to 2010-11. The Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, New Delhi, who is also the chief public information officer (CPIO) wrote to Sonia Gandhi in January to seek her response to the request for release of information pertaining to her tax records.
Sonia Gandhi declined permission for the release of the information, saying that disclosure of such private information to a third party, even if ostensibly made under the guise of transparency in public life, amounted to unwarranted invasion in the privacy of the individual. She took support of Section 138 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 that the information that an assessee submits to the Income Tax department was confidential and private in nature and could not be disclosed.
The report notes that Sonia Gandhi also cited “security risk” as a consideration behind her reluctance to disclose the information – and added that there was “no public interest” involved in disclosing such information.
Importantly, on an earlier occasion, a similar application had been rejected even without seeking Sonia Gandhi’s response. The Times of India, which is following this issue, has reported that that this was the second time that the CPIO had rejected such a petition from Gopalakrishnan for information on Sonia Gandhi’s income tax returns. After Gopalakrishnan went in appeal, the appellate authority said that by not seeking out a response from Sonia Gandhi, the CPIO had ignored the possibility that she might be willing to disclose her personal income-tax information.
There comes the question, when even the Prime Minister discloses his assets every year, why Sonia Gandhi, an MP is reluctant to disclose her income tax information. This clearly demonstrates Sonia Gandhi’s Italian bloodline and her Papal beliefs which inspire her to keep secrecy about herself and her acts.
In normal circumstances and in case of any politician, such details come under the realm of confidential information. But in a democracy the transparency of government is at the stake.
In her article ‘The omertà on Sonia Gandhi's illnesses’ published in The Hindu, Nirupama Subramaniam states, “It is not surprising that the Congress should be secretive about its leader's health. What is surprising though is the news media's submission to the secrecy on an issue that is of public concern.” She further comments, “…the media are clearly not in the mood to extend their kid-glove treatment of Ms Gandhi's illness to some other politicians: it has been open season with BJP president Nitin Gadkari's health problems arising from his weight. Clearly, it's different strokes for different folks.”
Swapan Dasgupta has commented that to some extent, concern over Sonia’s health can never remain a matter concerning the Gandhi family alone. The personal well-being of someone who is the acknowledged ‘leader’ of the Government—one who rules but does not rule—is a matter of public concern in all democracies.
Swapan Dasgupta mentions in his article ‘Dynasty wrapped in needless secrecy’ published in The Pioneer expresses surprise saying that that when it comes to the ‘first family’, the media’s thirst for investigative journalism evaporates into handout journalism. He Says, “This is despite the fact that the country has been routinely misled on many occasions. When Sonia failed to be present in the opening sessions of Parliament, it was put out (by unnamed sources) that she was suffering from ‘viral fever’—an explanation that was believable in the context of the epidemic doing the rounds of Delhi. When, last year, she abruptly cancelled her meeting with the visiting British Prime Minister it was again put out that the family had to rush overseas because Sonia’s mother wasn’t keeping too well.
Dasgupta says that no one ever claimed ownership of these doubtful explanations of the Gandhi family’s movements. For year after year, even as fawning courtiers celebrated Rahul Gandhi’s birthday, the birthday boy never happened to be in the country. However, for the media the Congress General Secretary’s travel itinerary was never the subject of any inquiry. Even the Right to Information Act has failed to yield any information on the subjects—presumably because they have ‘security’ implications.
In 2007, a stunning exposure on Sonia Gandhi’s secret billions in Swiss banks came, surprisingly, from Switzerland itself. In its issue of November 19, 1991, Schweizer Illustrierte, the most popular magazine of Switzerland, did an exposé of over a dozen politicians of the third world. The magazine included Rajiv Gandhi, who had stashed away their bribe monies in Swiss banks. Schweizer Illustrierte is not an ordinary magazine. It has a wide distribution of some 2,15,000 copies and has a readership of 9,17,000 — almost a sixth of Swiss adult population.
Citing the then newly opened KGB records, the magazine had reported, “Sonia Gandhi the widow of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was controlling secret account with 2.5 billion Swiss Francs (equal to $2.2 billion) in her minor son’s name’. The $2.2 billion account must have existed from before June 1988 when Rahul Gandhi attained majority. The loot in today’s rupee value equals almost Rs 10,000 crore.
Swiss banks invest and multiply the clients’ monies, not keep them buried. Had it been invested in safe long-term securities, the $.2.2 billion bribe would have multiplied to $9.41 billion (Rs 42,345 crore) by 2009. If it had been put in US stocks, it would have swelled to $12.97 billion (Rs 58,365 crore). If, as most likely, it were invested in long-term bonds and stocks as 50:50, it would have grown to $11.19 billion (Rs 50,355 crore).
Similarly the archives of the Russian spy outfit KGB, is far more serious. It says that the Gandhi family has accepted political pay-offs from the KGB — a clear case of disloyalty besides bribe. In her book The State Within a State: The KGB and its Hold on Russia-Past, Present, and Future, Yevgenia Albats, an acclaimed investigative journalist, says: “A letter signed by Victor Chebrikov, who replaced Andropov as the KGB head in 1982 noted: ‘the USSR KGB maintains contact with the son of the Premier Minister Rajiv Gandhi (of India). R Gandhi reports confidentially that a substantial portion of the funds obtained through this channel are used to support the party of R Gandhi’.” (p.223). Albats has also disclosed that, in December 2005, KGB chief Victor Chebrikov had asked for authorisation from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, “to make payments in US dollars to the family members of Rajiv Gandhi, namely Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ms Paola Maino, mother of Sonia Gandhi.”
And even before Albats’ book came out the Russian media had leaked out the details of the pay-offs. Based on the leaks, on July 4, 1992, The Hindu had reported, “the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service admits the possibility that the KGB could have been involved in arranging profitable Soviet contract for the company controlled by Rajiv Gandhi family”.
All this shows that the ‘Secrecy saga’ about Sonia Maino-Gandhi is endless. The Gandhi family has been awarded an iron wall to keep their secrets intact which has a cloud of mystery around them by both Congress Party and Indian Media. This is definitely a betrayal of Aam Aadami, the common man of India is only a distant spectator who has no right even to ask about.
The Nation should realise that it is not a mere question of secrecy of any one ‘person’, but a string of sincerity, transparency, loyalty and more importantly national Security is involved in this.
Time to Think!
(Sources for Reference: The Independent.co.uk/, 3 Oct 2011, deccanherald.com, 4 Aug 2011, IndiaTV, 22 Sept 2011, The Pioneer, 7 Sept 2011, Asian Window, 5 Aug 2011, Guardian, UK, 22 Sept 2011, The Hindu, 22 Sept 2011, expressbuzz.com, 24 Feb 12, iretireearly.com, 7 Jan, swapan55.com, Schweizer Illustrierte 19 Nov 1991)