What about Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s daughters?

Transparency is the hallmark of the government

That’s the first message you read when you go to the Chief Minister’s website and click on “Disclosure of Personal Assets“.

The website states:

As part of the 100-day programme of the Government of Kerala, Ministers of the State and their personal staff, together with their families, and higher officials including IAS officers, department heads, Advocate-General and law officers, along with their family members are disclosing their assets and liabilities through this portal.

The Chief Minister’s “disclosure” is only a page. Although it states “…together with their families” the Chief Minister has left out his two daughters. Why is that? Arn’t they family too?

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's disclosure of personal assets
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s disclosure of personal assets

At this point, we would like to make it clear that failure of the Chief Minister to voluntarily disclosing the assets of his daughters is by no means is an indication of corruption. The absence of this information however does raise questions – why disclose for the sake of disclosing? Why not disclose fully? Especially if his son-in-laws are described as “businessmen” should there be a more detailed financial disclosure?

Why does this matter?

Today, the CBI arrested Railway Minister’s youngest sister’s son (nephew) for taking a bribe to make an appointment to the Railway Board. The Congress President, Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law have developed this real-estate business at a speed that can put Warren Buffet to shame. Remember the Radia tapes, AB Vajpayee’s foster daughter’s husband and his role?

Is there an unwritten rule somewhere that daughters’ assets must be left out? PC George’s disclosure doesn’t even mention his son, Shawn George’s assets. In fact most disclosures mention no one in the family other than wife.

This exercise seems to be aimed at making an announcement and scoring brownies. It will make good headlines, “Government believes in transparency, releases assets information” – most people will not read beyond the headlines. Sadly, without full and detailed disclosure there is no point to this.

Not just assets, where children are employed are also important. If children of the Chief Minister, Ministers and other officials do work, shouldn’t the right thing be to disclose where and who they work for? Are they working aboard for a business group that regularly does business with the government? Maybe not. Maybe.

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