Dear Mr Reddy
I am certain that you had followed the discourse in the national media during the past week and particularly the issues raised over your exit as minister of petroleum and natural gases. Being someone who knows you, reasonably well, I do have strong reasons to believe that you were moved out because you refused to bow down to one Mr Mukesh. Let me add that you are not the only one to have met this fate in our short history.
You know, as much as I do, that this man’s father, who is no more, found the late VP Singh’s actions as union finance minister a hurdle in his path and did manage to rake up a storm. His reach and clout in the corridors of power, were such that Singh as finance minister was forced to engage Fairfax, a private investigating agency in the US, to probe into the affairs of the company that he held. You were a stormy petrel member in the opposition benches then and will recall how this Mukesh’s late father had managed to attack VP Singh and his band of honest officers for having done that.
The fact is that the step to engage a private agency from the US was forced upon them to ensure that the late Dhirubhai did not get to scuttle the probe; the officers were certain that the Enforcement Directorate could not be entrusted with the investigation because the agency was in the pockets of that industrialist. You are aware of all these and had, along with the late Madhu Dandavate, spoken up for VP Singh in the Lok Sabha when he was attacked by such people as Dinesh Singh and KK Tewari.
You were also a key player in the Janata Dal, a party that the late Dhirubhai hated from the bottom of his heart. It is unnecessary to dwell into all the details about how you old party was decimated and some of us have known the role played by that industrial house even in that process.
The fallout of the death of the Janata Dal was that you returned to the Congress party; you followed your leader, the late Brahmananda Reddy in this regard. I must hasten to add that I do not equate you with him in many ways. Unlike him, you remained in opposition to the Congress during the 1980s when the Janata Party was a pale shadow of what it was and those were times when four out of five MPs in the Lok Sabha belonged to the Congress. You returned to the Congress only when it appeared to be the only force against the BJP in the electoral sense and after the TDP too had teamed up with the BJP.
You may have followed the path that Madhu Limaye had chosen in similar conditions and indulged in reading and writing. But when you decided to join the Congress, the party was still in the opposition and you cannot be accused of shifting parties for ministerial positions and the trappings that come with it. And even as a union minister since 2004, you have stayed clear of any charge of making money and in that sense refused to join the company of such others in the cabinet as A Raja, Dayanidhi Maran, Subodh Kant Sahay or Salman Khurshid. And more importantly, one hears from all over the place that you stood up to an influential Mukesh and refused to pander to his interest.
As someone who has known you for a reasonable length of time and as someone who counts you as an exception to the general rule – that those wielding power in our democracy are invariably there to make money for themselves, their children and grand children – and thus a ray of hope, however bleak that ray is, I want to know if there is any truth in all this. To be honest, I expect an answer in the affirmative. In other words, please make it clear as to what exactly did Mukesh want from you and whether you refused to please him; and in that event, why you did that?
And sir, you know the best way to state the truth without violating the oath you took before becoming a minister: If you resign from the cabinet, you have the right to make a statement where you can elaborate the reasons as to why you resigned when Parliament meets next for the Winter session.
V Krishna Ananth
The writer is an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Sikkim University