Corruption culture is a Congress-created mess

Amidst all the fuss over the wanton interference of the political executive in the framing of the CBI report to the Apex Court on Coalgate, a simple but vital fact seems to have been completely lost. Remember that the court had directed the CBI in simple but clear words that it should not share its report with the Government. By its own admission, it did. So, how is CBI Director Ranjit Sinha any the less guilty than Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and others in the Prime Minister’s Office? If the court were to haul up Sinha for contempt, it would be only just and proper. Politicians will be politicians. But must permanent functionaries of the State become craven factotums for the sake of plum postings and post-retirement sinecures?

Also, it is notable that neither Kumar nor, for that matter, Manmohan Singh is your average run-of-the-mill politician. One is a senior lawyer, even if lacking the stature and success in the bar that was deservedly enjoyed by a Kapil Sibal or an Arun Jaitley. The other was a lifelong economic bureaucrat who came to politics post-retirement, but even though he was all through known to be pliant there was never a whiff of financial corruption about him. Professional politicians or professionals in politics are all the same.

If such non-professional politicians can knowingly defy the letter and spirit of the Apex Court’s order, you can well imagine what hardened politicians like a Lalu Prasad Yadav or a Ram Vilas Paswan would do to ensure that the CBI kept a tight lid over their wrong-doing. The point is simple. A gentleman politician is an oxymoron in the Indian context. We make bold to say that gentleman Manmohan Singh has presided over more scams and skullduggery than any other Prime Minister in the history of free India. Give us, therefore, any day an Inder Gujaral or even a Deve Gowda but spare us the brazen loot and plunder of the Manmohan Singh regime.

Having said that, we must recall here that Ranjit Sinha is the same officer who, as in-charge of the investigations into the Rs 800-crore fodder scam, had given its main perpetrator Lalu Prasad Yadav a clean chit. Despite resistance from the Opposition, the Government had insisted on appointing him the head of the premier investigating agency. Now you know why. Again, for every Ashok Khemka who is set to go into the Limca Book of Records for having suffered the maximum number of transfers in his short career, there are tens of thousands of Ranjit Sinhas. As LK Advani had said in the context of the Emergency, officers like Sinha, when asked to bend, begin to crawl before their political masters.

However, the Government-CBI nexus in the Coalgate probe is only one of the several issues that have stalled the post-recess Budget session. Having pelted every democratic institution through sheer partisanship, the ruling party made the Joint Parliamentary Committee into the 2G scam into a public joke. Its leaked draft report was an attempt to exonerate everyone in the Congress Party and heap the entire blame on A Raja and on the previous NDA Government.

But even a dumb doormat can cause untold problems. For instance, take Ashwani Kumar. Or PC Chacko, the garrulous chairman of the JPC who held the NDA Government responsible for having caused a loss of Rs 42,000 crores by allowing the cellphone operators to switch from the licensing to the revenue-sharing mode. If that assertion is true, Chacko and Co. are guilty of exonerating the UPA Government which has persisted with the same revenue-sharing model these past nine years. Why couldn’t they have gone back to the licensing model? Clearly, in their anxiety to ensure equivalence in racketeering, Chaco blamed the NDA for the switch to the revenue-sharing model. Little did he realise that without that switch, there would not have been no telecom revolution as the call charges per minute would have been prohibitively high.

But when partisan politics informs the functioning of Parliamentary institutions truth goes out of the front door. It is a strange way to conduct a probe when the main suspect is willfully denied the opportunity to explain his conduct while the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister are issued clean chits without being asked to explain their own questionable conduct. As we said, institutional destruction began under Indira Gandhi; it has gathered speed under the Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi duo.

In the gathering darkness over the democratic India, if ordinary people are yet again looking for a saviour they can they be blamed? For over six decades their quest for a knight in the shining armour who will rescue them from the stupidity and venality of their rulers has invariably met with great disappointment and despair. Indira Gandhi rose as a colossal in the 1970s on the promise of removing poverty. Within months, she turned into an autocrat, bestowing favours on her favourite corporates while tormenting her critics.

Rajiv Gandhi, the new hope of a resurgent India, brought his entrepreneurial skills, which had recently found a mention in the WikiLeaks, to the Prime Minister’s office. The Bofors deal destroyed his credibility and capacity to do any good. VP Singh came next and failed to get better of the entrenched vested interests. Deve Gowda, Inder Kumar Gujaral, Chandra Shekhar, etc. were stopgap arrangements who could do precious little to set things right. Vajpayee, to be fair, did a lot and left his imprint on the administration. Of course, one does not need to spell out the rot that has been wrought by the UPA Governments.

Whether you like it or not, the people have now pinned their hopes on another messiah who might yet deliver them from a corrupt and non-performing dispensation. He is Narendra Modi. There is a buzz around his name throughout the country. Despite desperate attempts to trip him through extra-political means, it is hard to stop him. For, ordinary people are dying to seek deliverance from a rotten and corrupt regime but invariably feel let down when the new saviour too turns out to have the feet of clay. That is the biggest challenge for Modi in the coming days and weeks as the UPA cookie crumbles further due to its own self-goals and missteps.

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