Conflict of interest

Scam in religious affairs ministry


One would have thought that if there was one ministry that one could bet on being the cleanest it would be the ministry of religious affairs. But a news item yesterday put that assumption to rest. The incumbent religious affairs minister has been alleged to have facilitated his business partner to secure an auction of a building that until a little while ago was under the ministry’s use. The auction reportedly was split to avoid catching the attention of the big bidders. The report also points out that the process of bidding was so finely arranged so that none other but the minister’s business partner could secure the deal. One of the prospective bidders who was systematically kept out of the bidding on technical grounds has launched a formal complaint as well. And it is hoped that a fair investigation into the whole deal shall be held.

The minister, according to the same report, has reluctantly admitted to having business relationship with the bid winner. It is a clear case of conflict of interest and as the honourable prime minister has been profusely quoting examples from the western countries of ministers resigning when any allegation was leveled agasint them in order for a fair investigation to take place. This is their time. The minister concerned should be asked to resign and let the inquiry go ahead in the matter. If he was found clean, he should be allowed to resume his work.  

Before this another resignation was due in the railways when a fire broke out on a train that claimed lives of 73 people. An investigation into the matter has belied the claims made by the railways minister but there is no headway. Even when the railways operations have gone from bad to worse and the apex court has shown its dissatisfaction with the minister’s performance, he stays put. For the PTI, it is time put to action all their lofty talk.