The Congress-led UPA government is criticised on many fronts; one of the most talked-about of these is the never-ending list of scams, corruption and bribery cases under its rule. The Indian National Congress was established to give educated Indians a greater share in government and to take active and consolidated part in the freedom struggle for the welfare of India. But when and how these objectives took back seat, and self-interest and scams became part of the Congress are the main areas of concern. This contributed to their historic defeat in the 16th Lok Sabha election.
The Congress-led UPA government completed two tenures but the party has always been in news for one or another scam. With each passing year the magnitude of scam got bigger. Here is a brief list of major scams under UPA government.
Major Scams under UPA Government
- Bofors Scam: The Bofors scam looks like a trademark of scams and corruption in India. This scam in 1980s involved the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Hindujas and many other powerful names. The scam was about winning a bid to provide India with 155 mm field howitzers. The scam was related to the Indian defense and security, so was of much concern.
- 2G Spectrum Scam (2008): One of the biggest scams in India was the 2G scam, in which telecom minister A. Raja was charged for issuing 2G licenses to private telecom players at very cheap rates in 2008. No rules and regulations were followed but only favoritism was preferred while issuing the license. The scam cost Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the government. The government kept the entry fee for spectrum license at 2001 prices. Licenses was also issued to the companies with no prior experience in telecom. The mobile subscriber base in India touched 350 million in 2008 from 4 million in 2001.
- Satyam Scam (2009): Indian investors and shareholders were badly affected by the scam involving Satyam Computer Services. The Satyam Scam involved Rs. 14,000 crore and was one of the biggest scams in the corporate world. Former Chairman Ramalinga Raju was involved in the scam, who kept everything under cover. He later confessed of falsifying the company’s accounts by US $1.47 billion. Later in the year, 46% share of Satyam was bought by Tech Mahindra, who absorbed and revived the company.
- Commonwealth Games Scam (2010): A huge amount of money for preparing and conducting the Commonwealth Games India was misused in the Commonwealth Games Scam. The total worth of Commonwealth Games Scam is estimated to be Rs. 70,000 crore. Again, many Indian politicians, bureaucrats and corporate bigwigs were involved in the scam. The face of the scam was Suresh Kalmadi, the Congress party representative to the 15th Lok Sabha from the Pune constituency. At that time, Kalmadi was the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Delhi Commonwealth Games. Other big-shots involved were Sheila Dikshit, the then chief minister of Delhi and Robert Vadra. The payments were made to non-existent parties and prices were inflated while purchasing equipment, execution was delayed, and so on.
- Coal Scam (2012): With the Coal Scam, the government bore a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore. The CAG presented a report and stated the irregularities involved in the auctioning of 194 coal blocks. The government decided not to auction coal blocks between 2004 and 2011. The coal blocks were then sold to different parties and private companies. This decision led to huge loss in terms of revenue.
- Chopper Scam (2012): This scam is an example of bribery and corruption in India which involved many politicians, senior officials in India like former Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, and helicopter manufacturer Augusta Westland. The company had given bribe to get a contract for supplying 12 helicopters worth USD 610 million. A note presented on March 15, 2008 in an Italian court indicates that the Congress President Sonia Gandhi was also involved in the scam.
- Tatra truck scam (2012): The case against Vectra Chairman Ravi Rishiformer and Army Chief Gen. V.K. Singh had been registered by the Enforecement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The scam involved a sum of Rs. 14 crore as bribe. The bribe was given to make way for purchasing 1,676 Tatra trucks for the Army.
- Adarsh Scam (2012): The Adarsh Housing Scam is related to the allocation of flats below market rates in a very posh 31-storey building, the Adarsh Housing Society in Colaba, Mumbai. The society was made for war widows and personnel of India’s Ministry of Defence. Over a period of time, rules and regulation were modified for the allocation of flats. Allegations have been made against three former chief ministers of Maharashtra – Sushilkumar Shinde, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan. Also, the land belonged to the defence and had been given for the society.
The list of scams under Congress UPA government is too long and looks never-ending. A few more in the list are Telgi scam, Insurance scam, Telecom scam (Sukh Ram), Fodder scam, Ketan Parekh scandal, Taj corridor case, Oil-for-food programme scam, Bombay Stock Exchange Fraud, Madhu Koda, and money laundering worth Rs. 4000 Cr.
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