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Raja and rahul as heroes of our times

By PREM CHANDRAN WE, THE CROOKS AND clowns straddling the Indian media, are in a make-believe world. We are convinced .....




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12-22-2017
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Thumbs up Raja and rahul as heroes of our times


By PREM CHANDRAN

WE, THE CROOKS AND clowns straddling the Indian media, are in a make-believe world. We are convinced that the BJP did not really win the elections in Gujarat; we are certain that the Congress was led to glory by Rahul Gandhi in the state hustings; and we are led to believe that a single judge CBI court order in the 2G Scam is Gospel Truth and hence A Raja, Kanimozhi, and the so-called "gang of thieves" are lillywhite and did no wrong. In other words, we are here to mislead the public into believing what we want them to. Truth can be crucified at the altar of sanctity in public life.

The conclusion of CBI Special Court Judge OP Saini was crystal-clear: “The CBI has miserably failed to prove corruption and money laundering charges.” He has also stated, “Some people artfully arranged a few selected facts and created a scam when there was none.”Really? If there is no evidence, there is no case. Agreed. But, who on earth can be sure that, since there is no supporting evidence, there was no scam? Who failed whom? It’s a big question, and it’s a window to the state of affairs in Independent India that is up for open loot by all and sundry!

Courts, in their best times, go by the evidence provided to them. A murder charge will not be acceptable to a court unless and until the weapon used for the murder is produced before it by way of evidence. If the police fail to do this, or fail to convincingly prove the produced weapon was used in the murder, the accused will escape punishment. The case is thrown out. So did the 2G Scam case. The CBI failed to provide proof. It could be intentional, it could be a proof of its lack of drive when it comes to exposing politicos. The case emerged in 2011 when the UPA II was running the government and the CBI. The CBI court was set up by the UPA II. Much of the investigations were done during the time the UPA II was in power. The BJP-led NDA government that came to power could not alter the course of investigations or the court proceedings. Now, a course open to the present Modi government, or the CBI or the Enforcement Directorate for that matter, is to go in appeal. That appeal might not be of much help. The appeal court too will have to go by the material evidence collected –or failed to collect – by the CBI investigation team since 2011. In other words, influential people –read politicians—in this country can smile their way out of any situation. And, so with influential bureaucrats as well. Governance, per se, is weak; its mechanisms are archaic and below par. It fails to give reassurance to the people.

We, by now, know how courts in India function. The old halo around the judicial system is gone for good. A CBI court judge in laidback Patiala Court in the capital is no God to give the last word. He at best gave his view, which was based – we presume – on the material evidence placed before him. But, even as we know this, we are in a hurry to exonerate the Rajas, the Kanimozhis and the bunch of crooks including officials and three telecom companies that faced the probe and court’s scrutiny. We are in a hurry to give them a clean chit. The Times of India, though, was cautious. It went to towns with a headline: “No proof of scam: court. A scam of lies: Congress.’ Fine. For, the finding, namely the CBI “failed to prove” the charges, does not necessarily mean the charges had no substance to it. It, if anything, raises question marks on how India’s chief investigating agency, the “caged parrot”, conducts itself.

In sum, there are serious problems in the way India is governed. The guilty is often not punished and the loopholes for escape are one too many. A collective of crooks comprising politicians and bureaucrats are having a gala time looting public money, and yet hardly anyone gets caught. Even those who end up in jail live there in air-conditioned comfort and get out with the ease with which a fish gets out of a child’s hands. (The Supreme Court now wants convicts treated in a more humane way!) And we are here to shout from roof-tops that Raja is innocent and UPA was much sinned against than sinning. We as a collective are convinced Manmohan Singh did no wrong and the Congress was unjustifiably attacked and maimed. All these as “there is no proof”. Is it easy to prove charges of bribe-taking unless and until spy cameras are beamed on a politician or bureaucrat, as was done once in a case of corruption involving George Fernandes? Yet, what has happened to the Narada tapes expose of Trinamool politicians taking bribes?

Those who hail the CBI Special Court’s order now forget what the Supreme Court had observed some time ago in relation to the 2G Scam: “The (spectrum allocation) exercise ... under the leadership of (Raja) was arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to public interest, apart from being violative of the doctrine of equality.” What were unalloyed facts were these: Raja manipulated the allotments; he did not go by the original offer of First Come First Served basis on which airwave allocations were to be made to telecom companies; he favoured some and ignored many others without justifiable grounds; and an open auction would have fetched the exchequer loads and loads more of money – but, may not be as high as the presumptive figure cited by Comptroller of Auditor General Vinod Rai, of Rs 1.76lakh crore, it being a PRESUMPTIVE figure.

The lack of transparency with which the allocations were made, but with full knowledge of then PM Manmohan Singh and the DMK and Congress party leaderships, was legion. Raja was a small fry. No one believes he, even as Telecom and IT minister, had that big a profile to do things the way he wanted. No one can be made to believe that he did a favour without any benefit to him or his party or to the UPA bigwigs. Perceptions are that he was simply a pawn in the hands of the many at top political levels. Now, Raja and Kanimozhi are lilywhite. Chances are that they will not end up in jail and will not pay a price for their actions, as the CBI is seen to have virtually sabotaged the case – now, it happened right under the nose of Narendra Modi. That’s how India is governed. The guilty can escape as they are resourceful; the innocent can languish in jails because they are poor.

The 2G Scam case is just one among the many scams that the UPA II government led by Manmohan Singh and controlled from behind by Sonia Gandhi had set in motion. Notably, it is the same judge – Saini – who also handled the CWG scam (misappropriation of Commonwealth Games funds). What has come of it?

While the accused in the 2G Scam have reason to smile ear to ear, and shout from rooftops that they were vindicated, the people who energise this nation have reason to feel let down – at the hands of the CBI. This investigation agency, as also the vigilance departments in state after state – needs to be reformed first and foremost if justice is our ultimate aim. But, is Prime Minister Narendra Modi keen on belling the cat? Not really. His over three years of governance was on the same lines as of the Congress that led the nation up the garden path and protected India’s elitist interests; he did not shake the system steeped in corruption and nepotism; he didn’t move an inch against India’s corrupt bureaucracy and politicians. To say that Modi didn’t eat on looted money is small comfort. What of his trusted aide and BJP chief Amit Shah, whose family’s business empire grew by leaps and bounds – miraculously – in the past three years? It goes to show that, if not Modi, then those who stood by him were at it.

Narendra Modi squandered his three years in the Congress style; by speaking for the poor in a style perfected by Indira Gandhi, and failing to change India for the better. An appreciable exception was the introduction, nay steamrolling, of the GST which hopefully should fetch the exchequer a whole lot of funds by way of taxes that were so far evaded by all and sundry across the country. GST is a revolutionary step forward, and the hiccups are but natural when such a great change is brought about. Despite the stonewalling by the Congress in Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Modi brought the bill to fruition. Modi did well in Kashmir. Hats off to him for the way he effected a turnaround through actions starting with the extermination of Burhan Wani and the crop of terrorists, one by one. Kashmir will sooner than later breathe easy. And he did relatively well in Doklam by moving forces at the right time. Question is, what more did he do?

The Gujarat assembly polls, rightly, is a wake-up call to Modi. Rahul Gandhi has not proven to be a success in Gujarat. He didn’t win after all. But, for the first time, he has demonstrated that he has fire in his belly. He – or the likes of Ahmed Patel – crafted an alliance that helped the Congress race forward even as the party remained organisationally weak. With Dalits being killed like dogs in the street by the Hindutva brigade in the name of cow protection, they took refuge in the Congress this time. Modi spoke up for the uplift of the backward and deprived sections of the people, and did little for them. He bluffed his way forward in true Congress style. They turned to the Congress. Affluent Patels, who were the main support base of the BJP in Gujarat, united under Hardik Patel’s leadership against the saffron party for the first time. Faced with all these odds, notably, the Modi Magic worked once more in Gujarat in the form of winning the polls with a clear majority in the state assembly.

The timing was perfect for Rahul Gandhi; and the situation tailor-made for a success for the Congress. Yet, the scion of the Nehru family proved yet again that he lacked the killer instinct. And, faced up to the wall, the BJP exploited a weak link in the Congress offensive machinery, namely, its failure to say who would be its chief minister if elected to form government. Crafty Shah and Modi spread word that Ahmed Patel will be the Congress nominee for CM, and thus effected a communal polarisation at the last minute. The rest is history.

Nothing yet goes to show the BJP will taste defeat in 2019. Chances still are that Modi will get a second term. But, Gujarat proves that the Congress is down but not out. It is still capable of putting up a stiff fight especially in places where the BJP erred. Another round of state assembly polls will unfold in the next two or three months – in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh etc. The Congress might win Karnataka as there is no perceptible anti-incumbency sway there yet. Rajasthan can go either way.

But, overall, Congress is still not fighting fit; not yet. Turn to Himachal Pradesh. There was no Rahul Halo. The Congress government headed by Virbhadra Singh was rooted out with remarkable ease this time. It will not do to say Congress and BJP alternate in governance there every five years. What did Rahul and Co do to change the scenario to their advantage? Beyond Gujarat, Himachal offers hope to BJP that the Congress might not necessarily be in a fighting mode. Can Rahul as Congress president reinvigorate the party? We will wait and see. premcee@gmail.com

--A senior journalist and former Editor, the writer is an activist with India Against Corruption.

Last edited by Premchandran; 12-30-2017 at 07:14 PM
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