A cable from the American embassy in New Delhi to the Secretary of State of the USA in 1976 published on WikiLeaks is expected to send shock-waves across the country as it reveals the extent of corruption prevailing in the country during the Congress regime. The cable reveals that the corruption files were kept in the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s office and no major figure could be charged without her approval. It also says that bribery that involved contributions to the Congress party were considered acceptable.
The cable also reveals that Sanjay Gandhi, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, offered his assistance to the British Aircraft Corporation through the Maruti company, which is addressed as a firm “controlled” by Sanjay Gandhi. The cable also mentions one Civil Aviation Minister who was paid a bribe by an Indian manufacturer for a particular contract.
The cable mentions that the bribe collected mostly went to the party funds minus a commission for the collector. The Congress party is referred to as the ‘United Givers Fund’. The cable also touches upon the havoc wreaked by the ‘License Raj’. It says, “For every document which requires three signatures when one would have been sufficient there are three bribes instead of one.” It also mentions the prevalence of corruption across all spheres of life, from booking a train ticket to securing a seat at the hospital. The author also makes a pertinent observation, “One could easily come to the cynical conclusion that there is a direct and positive relationship between laws against corruption and the extent of corruption itself, i.e., each such law only means that there are more people to bribe.”
The cable also mentions a World Bank Official telling an Embassy Official that he had never seen a case where the original low bidder was awarded a contract. “The World Bank requires the award of contracts to the low bidder but repeated tenderings combined with specification changes are instituted by the GOI until the appropriate bidder becomes low bidder as well,” says the cable. It is also mentioned that punishments for those who take bribes for the Congress are “rare” but should the bribery involve a politician from the opposition camp, then it usually involves strict punishment.
The now unclassified cable reveals that the American official observed that the massive corruption perpetrated by the then Congress government benefited the rich while the poor suffered as a consequence. Reading the communication, one gets the impression that the huge corruption underway in the country during the second term of the UPA government was hardly anything new but merely a continuation of the decades-old legacy of the Indian National Congress.
The cable was recently brought to light by rebel Congress leader, Shehzad Poonawalla on Twitter.