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Congress and scams: The jeep scandal 1948 and Nehru’s ignorance

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In the post-independence period, only seven out of the 15 Prime Ministers had a term of five years or more. Out of these seven Prime Ministers who really matter, five were from the Congress, accounting for 53 years of Congress-led governments. Out of these 53 years, 38 years belonged to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and 10 years belonged to the puppet government under Manmohan Singh. From time to time, Congress has been strongly accused of being involved in major scams. They are accused of doing self-development in the name of public development. Indian National Congress as a result of scams are convicted against loss of Rs 48,20,69,00,00,000 as updated by the Zee Media on Aug 22, 2019, 23:59 PM IST. The party and its allies, has been accused of a host of scams including the 2G, Bofors, AgustaWestland Helicopter, Scorpene submarine, Maharashtra irrigation and Commonwealth Games which are considered to be major ones.

The list of scams is a long one but the Jeep Scandal is infamous as the first major scam of Independent India. The main allegations were against V K Krishna Menon who was serving as the Indian High Commissioner to Britain. While the inquiries went on for round six years, without even considering the suggestions by the Inquiry Committee Govind Ballabh Pant, the former Home Minister, out of sheer ignorance announced in 1955 that the case shall be closed. When the opposition insisted on the demand for an inquiry Pant said that the opposition parties can make it an election issue if they are not satisfied by the Government’s decision. This was the official statement issued by a Congress leader which brought the discussion of scams in elections into existence.

Since the Indo-Pak War of 1948 was on, our Army was in an urgent need of jeeps against the Pakistani forces. Arguing that delivery would be done immediately done along with spare parts Vengalil K Krishna Menon placed an order for 2,000 refurbished Jeeps. The controversy lies in the fact that for the same price of new Jeeps could be purchased from the rising super-power USA.

M/s Anti-Mistantes which had to deliver the jeeps had a capital of round £600 so Krishna Menon agreed to pay $172,000, with 65% of the total payment upfront without any inspection certificate, only 10% of the Jeeps would be inspected was also clarified by him. However of the 155 Jeeps that arrived, none had the credibility to be placed into service. As a result the Ministry of Defence refused to accept them, and Anti-Mistantes suspended delivery of the Jeeps.

The earlier contract stipulated that 65% of the payment would be made upon inspection, 20% on delivery and the rest a month after delivery. Menon, unable to contact it, singned a contract with S.C.K. Agencies for 1,007 jeeps, with 68 being delivered monthly and the Indian government to be compensated for its loss from the older contract. Each jeep cost £458.10 while Anti-Mistantes sold a jeep for £300. Krishna Menon agreed to change the contract and asked for the 12 jeeps to be delivered monthly for six months following 120 jeeps shall be delivered monthly. The company, however, supplied only 49 jeeps in two years and refused to compensate the government. (Source: Wikipedia)

Apparently, Menon misused his influence in the deal. When the information about the deal reached India, there was a big uproar in the country including the Parliament here. The country had just got independence, people were unaware, media wasn’t popular enough, Gandhi-Nehru duo was considered as angel from heaven and the constitution was yet in preparation phase so not much was discussed by the common men about the scam.

Menon bypassed protocol to sign a deal worth Rs. 80 lakh to the foreign firm for the purchase of the jeeps. While most of the money was paid upfront, only 155 jeeps were delivered. While the protocol should have been to ask Menon to resign and come back to India Nehru forced the government to accept the jeeps.

After much hue and cry, Ayyangar Sub-Committee investigated the case and came with the data mentioned above in its report submitted to Nehru on 9th April 1951. The Public Account Committee took the cognizance and advised formal investigation in the matter by Two High-Court Judges. On 18th December 1954, Government asked the Committee to reconsider its decision. When the PAC refused to agree, Government informed the committee on 30th September 1955, that the case was officially closed by clearly ignoring the stats given by the Ayyangar Committee. The shutting down of the Committee midway puts Nehru, his ministers and VK Krishna Menon has always put his government under questions.

Menon himself entered into written agreements with the controversial companies of Britain. He did this by ignoring government procedures. No High Commissioner had the right to make such agreements. The relevant officials of this country had to sign on the paper of the purchase agreement. Despite allegations against Menon Nehru clearly ignored the Ayyangar Commitee reports and made Menon his closest Advisor. Later, on 3rd February 1956, Menon was introduced into the Nehru cabinet as a minister without portfolio and as a trusted ally to the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s he even rose to be the Defence Minister in his Cabinet in 1959.

“It is pertinent to mention here that Nehru made corrupt colleagues like Krishna Menon, who was involved in the infamous ‘jeep scam’ while he was the Defence Minister”.

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After this if people like Atal ji tell Nehru, “Your personality is a divided personality. It’s a split personality of both Churchill and Chamberlain.” people like Pt. Nehru shouldn’t get offended.

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While Rahul ji is still estimating the price of the Rafale, someone should educate him on the Jeep Scam too. deal He keeps on harping about Rafale, only the figures involved in the corruption keeps changing based on his memory and mood. The liberals from Bollywood should also be educated on this topic and asked to keep quiet as the Modi Government proceeds with the deal. When the opposition is slamming the NDA led government for selling the nation just for the sake of few votes here and there they must be enlightened on why the public chose Modi over RaGa. The current situation is that the liberals want the Nehruvian Dynasty can again rise to power in India.

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