Modi’s Credibility at Stake on Corruption!

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in conversation, on the second day of BJP's national executive meeting in Delhi on Saturday. PTI Photo (PTI1_7_2017_000034B)

(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

Contra opinion of pollsters and pundits, people overwhelmingly voted in favor of Modi-led BJP in the 2014 elections in the hope of redemption from gargantuan envelopment of corruption.

Even after Modi’s three years rule, not a single “Corruption Tiger”  has been sent behind bars. Naturally, Modi’s credibility is at stake despite his demonetization and GST Act initiatives.

Never too late it is to learn from the wisdom of past luminaries. Some credit George Bernard Shaw for his reflection: “Politics is the last resort for the scoundrels”. The question to ponder over is simple.

Surely, it is unfair to expect ‘scoundrels’ to turn into angels overnight on being elected to represent people through murky electoral processes in the name of democracy. Such is the grim reality.

The only to explain such an absurd situation enveloping our nation is to extrapolate G B Shaw reflection with the quote that “there are no morals in politics; but only expedience.”

Be that as it may, India’s national security continues to reel under the gravest threat from a wide range of scoundrels with known criminal credentials elected to represent various constituents at all levels. No need for external adversaries to spell doom to the nation.

To the above brand of corrupt political class belong Lalu Prasad (RJD Supremo) former Chief Minister, his wife Rabri Devi, also former Chief Minister, Tejaswi Yadav, current Deputy Chief Minister, Misa Bharti, Member of Parliament and her husband Shailesh Kumar belong.

All of them have been under investigation in separate cases registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the income tax (I-T) department.

On 7 July 2017, the CBI registered a case against Prasad, Rabri Devi and Tejaswi Yadav for alleged irregularities in a deal dating back to 2006, when Prasad was the railway minister.

Tejaswi Yadav has drubbed the charges of corruption leveled against him as “conspiracy and political vendetta” hatched by Modi-Amit Shah duo.

Absurd and bizarre are the justification given by Tejaswi to prove his innocence: “did not even have a moustache. How can boy of 13 or 14 years old-boy do all this”. Of course, Tejaswi  became the Deputy Chief Minister at the young age of 26; but feigns ignorance of the murky deals that were carried out in his name after he became eligible to exercise his vote.

Misa Bharti, daughter of Laloo Prasad Yadav,  and her  husband Shailesh Kumar are under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a Rs 8,000 crore money laundering case.

Look for one leader or family for alleged involvement in corruption around the corner, one can find many of their political colleagues/crooks in the same bandwagon.

For example, courts have determined and established a prima face case against Sonia and Rahul Ghandy’s culpability in the alleged criminal misappropriation in the National Herald scam.

And, the trial of A Raja, Ms Kanimozhi, MP, (both DMK) and 15 others including bureaucrats and businessmen in the 2G spectrum scandal has reached the last stage after five years, with the special CBI court likely to give its verdict in the next three more months or so.

Add to the “Big League”, names of Suresh Kalmadi and Sheila Dikshit of CWG Scam, Vijaya Mallya, Subrato of Sahara, Lalit Modi of IPL scam and those who colluded among others with them. Even religious places have been turned into ‘dens’ of corruption; and they harbor criminals and terrorists.

Sashikala Jail bribery scam and Blind X-Ray Machines at the airports under Aviation Ministry are currently making headlines.

Suffice to highlight that the list of accused in corruption cases is a long one. If one takes into account the number of scams at the local States, Districts and even Panchayat levels, its cumulative onslaught on India’s national security will be horrendous.

What is important to note is that the “Laws of the Land” permit ‘scamsters’ to delay final verdicts beyond their lifetime’s. For example, the final verdict of Bofors accused is yet to be delivered.

As per the laws of the land, the accused are bound to appeal against the CBI Courts verdicts in higher courts of the land as per the so called “due processes of laws of the land” – a judicial mockery.

N Ram, former editor-in-chief of The Hindu and Frontline, drawing on the experience of investigating Bofors Scam, for a change has highlighted the hopelessness and the helplessness of the current impasse: intractability of corruption – in its pervasiveness, omnipresence and multifariousness – under the prevailing circumstances in India.  Never too late that N Ram at least has now recognized  “combating corruption is decidedly a challenge of the here and now”.

Ipso facto, foundation of corruption was laid immediately after the country gained independence in 1947.  Dumped in the dust bin of history are “Jeep Scandal” involving late V K Krishna Menon in 1948, Mundhra Scandal and Cycle Import scandal in 1951, BHU funds misappropriation in 1956, Teja loan scandal in 1960, Pratap Singh Kairon scandal in 1964, Kalinga Tube scandal in 1965, Nagarwala scandal in 1971 and Maruti scandal in 1974 and so on.

Either Nehru or Indira Ghandy can claim to be paragons of ethics, morals, values and virtue having presided over laying the foundations for political corruption at the highest levels.

Experts highlighted that “command economy and License Raj” heralded or set the rapid pace of corruption. And, the post-1991 era of economic liberalization only accelerated its spread exponentially.

The Tehelka expose showed nexus between politicians, civilian bureaucrats and senior military officers accepting substantial sums of money to influence a fictitious arms deal. While this took place during the tenure of the BJP-led government, the nation still awaits closure on the corruption scandal in the purchase of the Bofors howitzers from Sweden during Rajiv Ghandy rule.

It is common knowledge that the UPA regime after 2004 allowed corruption to explode.  2G Scam, Satyam Scam, Commonwealth Games Scam, Coal Scam, Chopper Scam, Tatra Truck Scam,  Adarsh Housing Scam, and so on are some of the ‘big ticket’ ones.

Add to them, a long list of others to include: Bihar Fodder Scam; Kerala Solar Scam; Vyapam Scam Details; Food Adulteration in India; Barak Missile Scam; BSNL Telephone Line Scam; Iron Ore Mining Scam; sand mining scam; and so on.

N Ram, anti BJP or left leaning editor, is too late in addressing the absurd realities that are the result of the most “Corrupt Congress and Communist Party” regimes of the past.

Starting from the days of I K Gujral, almost every single Prime Minister has been sermonizing from the “Ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day Celebrations” that “Corruption is national security threat”.  And, what more, many among them invoked “Zero Tolerance of Corruption”.

Under their veil or cloak, corruption has engulfed the entire Indian society at break-neck speed.  “Loot, Loot ……… by all alike” became the norm.  By 1980s, even the “paid news” afflicted media.

Yet, there were no effective institutions and mechanisms created and empowered to quell the menace of corruption. CBI is viewed as “Caged Parrot”. So also, Anti Corruption Bureau’s in the States.

During the Congress Party regimes, the CBI was derisively called the Congress Bureau of Investigation by the BJP with tables turned now.

And, less said the better it is for the phenomenal delays of the Judiciary in delivering judgments despite the rule “Justice delayed is justice denied”.

Anna Hazare wanted not only the country to be cleaned from corruption at the ‘Higher Levels” but also target simultaneously at lower level petty corruption at clerical levels of administration. Even now, people are forced to pay bribes for securing virtually any service connected with the government, even that which is theirs by right and law.

After the 7th Pay Commission largesse to the government employees, there is no justification whatsoever to anymore justify lower level corruption.

Of course, the pace and level of corruption has gone exponential due to globalization and liberalization at all levels. With the political leaders throwing open the flood gates of corruption, everyone has joined the race of corruption from “Panchayats to Parliament”.

Scarce resources are on auction on the “corruption platforms”. Even river bed sand, human hair and animal bones are on sale on auction platforms purportedly for the lowest bidder.

In reality in most cases, whoever offers best underhand deals becomes the winner to loot scarce resources in the name of promoting development and growth with utter regard to the interests of future generations.

At international level, two initiatives are worth mentioning. One, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a historic treaty on October 31, 2003 – the U.N. Convention against Corruption –  to fight global corruption.

Two, at the recently concluded G 20 Summit, corruption finds a prominent para (albeit at the end) in the Joint Statement issued: “Fighting Corruption: We remain committed to fighting corruption, including through practical international cooperation and technical assistance, and will continue to fully implement the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2017-18. We endorse four sets of High Level Principles aimed at fostering integrity in the public and private sector……………………………………………”.

Finally, there are thousands of pearls wisdom on “Corruption”. Let me recount what I believe are the top five: 1) “Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency” – Unknown“; 2) “Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power – George Bernard Shaw”; 3) “Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today – Mohandas Gandhi”; 4) “Power does not corrupt people. People corrupt power” – William Gaddis”; and 5) Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts, perhaps the fear of a loss of power – John Steinbeck”.

In sum, it is no “Eureka” that pervasive corruption not only threatens democracy but also undermines the war on international terrorism. Terrorists, like drug traffickers, gunrunners and people smugglers, are playing havoc with the help of poorly paid, ill-disciplined and corrupt border officials who are open to bribery.

Earlier Modi realizes his rapidly eroding credibility in the eyes of the common people of India, it is better for his survival at the 2019 polls. Modi can no longer remain on the back foot. No takers for mere repetitive sermonizing. Not only Modi must take bold decisions, but also ensure effective implementation in sending the culprits behind bars.

The Adarsh Housing Scam investigation report has named all the personnel responsible for the scam. Surely, Modi can act decisively against at least declaring administratively to take over the building for providing married accommodation for serving armed forces personnel, it its demolition is considered wasteful. And, Modi must also be seen distancing from those still holding key positions as post retirement rehabilitation bonanza.  Stoppage of pension and withdrawal of all awards should be administratively feasible. At least, they would send right signals to others.

Is fear of loss of power the reason for Modi’s indecisiveness to send the culprits to jails? Having got elected on the basis of rooting out corruption, if Modi dithers on taking bold decisions, people will also throw him out of power in 2019 just as they ejected the Congress Party in 2014. Modi too would go down in the pages of history as a hypocrite (Mahatma Gandhi) – a product of democracy.