In the Part 1, we covered Sonia Gandhi’s Journey to the Centre of Power. We roughly chronicled Sonia Gandhi’s lawbreaking journey since the time she got married to Rajiv Gandhi. We tried to understand that in her “hunger for power”, Sonia Gandhi didn’t shy from breaking laws in India with impunity, causes that forced her to take citizenship of India, and her complete comfort in the unceremonious dismissal of Sitaram Kesri, so that she could usurp his chair as the President of Congress Party.
Ideally, on FERA Violation charges in Maruti Scandal, Sonia Gandhi should have been prosecuted and sent to jail, however and instead of that Sonia Gandhi is seated at the NAC Office as its chairperson.
Now, lets look at this special office created “only” for Sonia Gandhi and understand how it is wreaking havoc on country’s governance. And pls note, “only” has been used with a certain sense of responsibility and not without facts.
NAC of Sonia Gandhi
Largely the organization is shrouded in mystery. Not much is known, understood and discussed in open about it, much like its Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. After all, the Chairperson’s personality is bound to reflect in the enterprise she commands.
As a matter of fact, the functioning of NAC can easily be taken as an example of how Sonia Gandhi and her Children wish to run Government in India. It’s a heady mix of Dictatorship, Communism, Democracy, Liberalism, Capitalism, Humanism…almost every known “ism” except Nationalism. In short, its chaotic. But there is a method to the madness. The madness seems to be for a reason.
Anyway, we shall deal with those parts some other time. Lets take our story further.
Sonia Gandhi reluctantly gave up her claim to Prime Minister’s post in May 2004. She did it of course in a manner that any seasoned politician would. She sugar-coated her decision to retract her claim to Prime Minister’s post, with the ideas of “sacrifice & detachment from Power”. In fact, you’ll see that she didn’t do it just once, she did it repeatedly, and interestingly, everytime when she was cornered, and then a little later she would bounce back in complete contradiction to her claim of “sacrifice and detachment from Power”
In 2004, after she announced Dr. Manmohan Singh as the Prime Ministerial candidate of Congress, all the allies issued their Letters of Support to Congress & Dr. Manmohan Singh. Accordingly, Dr. Manmohan Singh was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India on 22nd May 2004.
But out of some strange sense of Urgency, which had little to do with good governance, Cabinet Secretariat issued an Order on May 31, 2004. This was about Constitution of NAC. The header states that it was to “monitor the implementation of the Common Minimum Programme of the alliance Govt.” – the UPA – of which, Sonia Gandhi was the Chairperson.
You might think, what is wrong with that? I say, there was something totally wrong & entirely unnecessary.
Let me tell you why, during the rule of NDA Govt., in October 1999, a specific Ministry had been created by merging Dept. of Statistics & Dept. of Programme Implementation. We know this ministry as Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MOSPI). Amongst other activities, this Ministry tracked performance of the 20-Point Programme then in force.
So, a separate & additional team of people to “monitor the implementation of the Common Minimum Programme of the Govt” could have been done through an existing Ministry, i.e. the MOSPI.
Anyhow, when you’ll delve further into the order dated May 31, 2004 constituting the NAC, you’ll realize that the object of “monitoring the implementation of Common Minimum Programme” is only a farce. And when you go into the minutes of the meetings of NAC, you’ll find that monitoring the implementation of CMP is almost never the priority and constitutes less than 5% of the total work done by them.
It is important to go through this one-page, six-point order (numbered 7, though) that constituted the NAC. But while we do that, we’ll also append the later orders, which have only added to the full character of this Order, under which the NAC functions. We shall deal with it according to the subject.
- NAC’s Office
- Functions – Order of 31st May 2004 says –
- 3(a) To monitor the progress of the implementation of the Common Minimum Programme
- 3(b) To provide inputs for the “formulation of the policy by the Government” and “to provide support to Government in its Legislative Business”
- Office Space & Expenditure – will be provided by the Central Govt. & all expenses will be met through Prime Minister’s Office
- Who will Service the NAC – Clause 7 reads – The Council would be serviced by the Prime Minister’s Office
- Chairperson – Right from the onset, it was Chairperson and not Chairman. The gender of the person expected to occupy the chair was clearly pre-determined.
- Order of 31st May 2004 says – NAC would be headed by a Chairperson “with the rank & status of a Union Cabinet Minister” and consist of such number of Members, not exceeding 20, as may be nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Chairperson.
- Order of March 29, 2010 says - The term of the Office of the Chairperson is “Co-terminus with the term of the Council”.
- Salary & Allowances – As per Salaries & Allowances of Ministers Act 1952
- Members – They are appointed for a period of 1yr and thereafter renewed through a notification.
- Order of 3rd June 2004 says - Members of National Advisory Council were “appointed in Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation”.
- Salaries & Allowances – As per Central Govt notification from time to time.
Observation & Understanding from these Orders
- NAC’s Office –
- The Govt has clearly created a body that will step on shoes of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
- The Govt has empowered this body literally with the power to interfere in Executive’s functioning, through inputs for formulation of the policy by the Government
- The Govt then goes a step further, takes away the rights of individual ministries to draft Laws, as they deem fit, and gives it to NAC. Yes, NAC is empowered with rights to provide support to Government in its Legislative Business. In the later Parts of this Blogpost Series, when I list out Legislations made by NAC, you will see an interesting trend there. Dangerous, yet interesting.
- And then, as if handing over the Executive Power & Legislative Role of the Ministers was not enough, the Order says, nothing less than Prime Minister’s Office will “service” the NAC, whose Chairperson is Sonia Gandhi and whose term of office is “co-terminus with the term of the Council”.
- Chairperson –
- Office is clearly designed for Sonia Gandhi, she’s in fact not only parallel to the Constitutional Govt of India, but also set over & above it.
- Even though she is a Union Cabinet Minister, not once has she been held accountable even by the Parliament. NAC is not subjected to questioning by the Parliament. Not one question has been asked about the quality & quantity of inputs given by NAC to ministries on their policies and to Govt as a whole on their drafting of Laws.
- Term of Office of Sonia Gandhi as Chairperson & Term of Office of the NAC being co-terminus means, if there is no Sonia Gandhi, there is no NAC.
- Sonia Gandhi’s NAC’s members are part of MOSPI, then is she the Minister of MOSPI? Is she “reporting to the PM”? No. Nor is it clarified at any stage. Nor is any minute of the Meeting or report to the Govt indicating any such relationship.
- Members –
- Members are not representatives of the people. And they have been given the power to formulate policies and draft Laws for the people of India.
- Members are officially part of Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation. Are they reporting to Minister of MOSPI? No. Not at all.
- As members of MOSPI, can they have mandate to hobnob with the Policies and Drafting of Laws of the Govt of India? No. Not all.
This is not even the complete surface of the problem, leave alone the depth of it. National Advisory Council’s role as a body to monitor progress of implementation of CMP is not only a duplication of the MOSPI, but also another body, within the same Prime Minister’s Office, called Delivery Monitoring Unit.
To keep things simple and piecemeal, I will delve into the Chronology of certain events around NAC since 2004, in the following Parts of this series. We will also cover the Working Style of the NAC, why it undermines the Office of the Prime Minister and creates complete confusion and demolition of the Constitutional framework and in later parts with the Legislations being pushed by NAC.
All parts will be published with a gap of few days. All necessary material to support the narrative here is already in place.