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Congress alleges center for involvement in Rs. 20,000 crore ‘Ujala’ scam; also demands independent probe.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who claims that his government has distributed more than 21 crore LED bulbs, does not tell people that in the process, the government itself is making a mockery of its much-publicised 'Make in India' drive. "Crores of these LED bulbs, LED street lights, pumps and fans are made in China or in Taiwan"

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Representational image, courtesy: Wikimedia commons

New Delhi, March 27, 2017: The Congress party on Monday put the responsibility at the door of ruling NDA government accusing it for corruption in the process of procurement and distribution of ‘Ujala’ LED bulbs has given birth to a Rs 20,000-crore scam.

The party charged that the incumbent government was utilizing “dubious and questionable practices” for acquirement and dispersion of LED bulbs and requested an independent probe by a retired Supreme Court judge.

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“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who claims that his government has distributed more than 21 crore LED bulbs, does not tell people that in the process, the government itself is making a mockery of its much-publicised ‘Make in India’ drive. “Crores of these LED bulbs, LED street lights, pumps and fans are made in China or in Taiwan,” said Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil.

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Gohil asserted that there was no transparency in the allotment of tender and acquirement of these LED bulbs, street lights, pumps and fans, among others.

“Cost of one such LED street light is about Rs 2,000. If we take into account the irregularities and fraud in the tendering process, this turns out to be a scam of at least Rs 20,000 crore,” he said.

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“While the Vigilance Commission mandates that such procurement should be publicised for RFQ (request for quotation) on the basis of merit and should be put on a government website, the Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (the procuring agency) puts it on their own private platforms for a short period, thus manipulating the entire process of tendering,” said Gohil.

“Although there are four Power Ministry PSUs involved in this entire process, the companies neither manufacture nor procure any part, not even a diode of the LED bulb. Instead, they procure from Chinese and other foreign companies,” he included in his statement.

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The Congress also pointed out that the Vigilance Commission guidelines categorically state that a third party audit has to be done after such procurement.

-prepared by Ashish Srivastava of NewsGram Twitter @PhulRetard

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Will Congress Party be Able to Survive in Future in Face of Modi Onslaught?

It was India’s “Grand Old Party.” The Congress Party ruled the country for 55 out of 71 years since independence

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From left, Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi, her son and party President Rahul Gandhi, and former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attend a Congress Working Committee meeting in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

It was India’s “Grand Old Party.” The Congress Party ruled the country for 55 out of 71 years since independence. But following the party’s crushing electoral debacle for a second time, there are questions about its future as the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty at its helm is unable to counter the most powerful leader India has produced in decades: Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Contrary to expectations, India’s mammoth general election turned out to be virtually a no-contest between Modi and Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi as it became a presidential-style battle.

“It is not what went wrong with the Congress, it is more of a story of what went right for Prime Minister Modi. He stood as a tall leader, as an achiever, as somebody who understood people’s aspirations,” says political commentator Rasheed Kidwai, who has authored a biography of Rahul Gandhi’s mother, Sonia Gandhi. On the other hand, “Rahul Gandhi is temperamentally not a power wielder. He is a trustee of power.”

The sixth member of the Nehru Gandhi family to lead the party, Rahul is often seen as a “reluctant politician”, despite his spirited campaign to revive the party and challenge Modi after its rout in 2014.

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves toward his supporters during an election campaign rally in New Delhi, May 8, 2019. VOA

Gandhi’s rallies drew crowds, but his efforts to project Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party as a threat to India’s secular traditions or to highlight issues of economic distress failed to resonate. His attempts to nail him for corruption in a deal to buy Rafale French fighter jets fell flat. His promise of a minimum wage for India’s poorest families was met with skepticism, even among the poor.

On the other hand, Modi, successfully wooed voters with his message of strident nationalism and subtle appeal to the majority Hindu community. Along with it, there was another theme: he projected himself as the humble son of a tea seller, a self made man who fought all odds to reach the top post in contrast to what he called the “entitled” Gandhi who had inherited the mantle of leadership of the Congress Party. It drew cheers from the country’s emerging middle and lower-middle classes, exhausted with dynastic politics.

The Congress Party’s tally of 52 seats in parliament was only a notch higher than the 44 seats it won in 2014 in the 545-member parliament. The party’s candidates returned empty-handed in half the Indian states and in several others the party only mustered a single digit tally.Modi’s BJP won 303 seats.

The scale of its losses not just crushed hopes the Congress Party would either lead a credible challenge to Modi or return as invigorated opposition – it once again raised questions over the leadership of the Gandhi family.

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The sixth member of the Nehru Gandhi family to lead the party, Rahul is often seen as a “reluctant politician”, despite his spirited campaign to revive the party and challenge Modi after its rout in 2014. VOA

Rahul Gandhi has offered to resign, but expectedly the party that has no second rung of leadership has turned it down. “The party will fulfill its role as a strong opposition. We need Rahul Gandhi to lead us in these challenging times,” Congress Party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said after a meeting of the party’s senior leaders on the weekend.

Rahul Gandhi also lost the Amethi constituency the party had held for 50 years in Uttar Pradesh state. In another humiliating blow for the Gandhi family, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was appointed in a senior post to revive the party, failed to make an impact. Rahul’s mother, Sonia Gandhi, won her party’s only seat in the state.

Rahul Gandhi’s victory in another constituency in South India means he will continue to be a lawmaker. Dynastic politics is not limited to the Congress Party: lawmakers from political families are a routine feature of Indian politics. But political commentators say in an era showing a preference for strong, populist leaders, Modi was the clear victor.

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here are questions about its future as the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty at its helm is unable to counter the most powerful leader India has produced in decades: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia Commons

“There is a new sense of nationalism sweeping across many conventional democracies. There is a yearning for a strong leader that captures the public imagination,” according to political analyst Ajoy Bose. “I don’t really see the conventional Congress Party or the conventional leadership mounting a challenge to Modi. He has completely taken the country by storm.”

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Gandhi tried to give a positive message after the party’s rout. “We have a different vision of India [from Modi]”, said the head of the party that has long projected itself as a defender of India’s minorities, such as Muslims who worry about religious polarization and a rise in hate crimes since Modi came to power. “There is no need to be afraid. We will continue to work hard and we will eventually win.”

But it may be difficult to reinvent what analysts call a “fading party.” They say Modi’s BJP now occupies the dominant political space that the Congress party did for decades. “Congress is going to get reduced to, you know, like the Liberals did in Britain,” says Rasheed Kidwai. (VOA)