Finally, the Opposition in its new avatar as Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A.) seems to have got a stick to beat with the ruling dispensation led by Narendra Modi on graft charges. That the recent Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) report flagged some discrepancies in the database of a centrally sponsored health scheme and the high cost of Dwarka Expressway. The total amount is said to be to the tune of Rs. 7.5 lakh crore. Armed with the report, Congress party’s chief spokesperson Jairam Ramesh and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pointed accusing fingers at the Prime Minister and sought his response. They look jubilant to nail Modi in the public domain as he announced his government’s determination to come after all those guilty of graft before the 2024 polls. He made this abundantly clear in the Lok Sabha while replying to the Opposition moved no confidence motion and later from the ramparts of the Red Fort, from where he addressed the nation on the 76th anniversary of Independence.
The CAG always finds some financial discrepancies either against the state or the Centre in its annual reports and, most of the time, it goes unnoticed although some reports are carried in the media. Yet, the ruling dispensation always dismisses them as ‘discrepancies’ as the CAG cites only misutilization of the allocated funds and certainly not tantamount to any serious financial irregularity. Thus far, the CAG report enjoys no scientific evidence to prove otherwise. Such observation was available in the public domain to the senior Congress leader, who held the Home and Finance ministries in the past, dismissing a similar CAG report on Rafale fighter jets deal. This was when the Rafale controversy broke out and the same Opposition tried to pounce on the Modi-led government in 2019, finding fault for its decision to buy 120 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault, a French company.
In a bid to expose its predecessor’s decision to drag on buying the advanced Rafale jets, which were badly required by the Indian Air Force, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government chose to table the CAG report, to unmask the face of the Congress, which was levelling allegations against it. This is what P Chidambaram said: “The CAG has meekly submitted to the unprecedented demand of the government and presented a report that contains no useful information, analysis or conclusions”. On the contrary, the Modi government and the BJP have hailed the report. Still, Chidambaram called it useless and reiterated Congress’ demand for a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). He further alleged: “The report, besides being silent on crucial issues, is yet to be examined by the PAC.” But, what happened later in the Supreme Court is now known to all. The apex court dismissed the Opposition’s charges of kickbacks and gave a clean chit to the Modi-led government.
Against that backdrop, that too when the present dispensation looks more than determined to go after those who are accused of rampant wrongdoings and looted the taxpayers’ money, including the AAP, undoubtedly appears to send shivers down the spines of the entire members of I.N.D.I.A. And, the new bloc’s only biding ‘factor’ was to defend themselves against the aggressive NDA government. It is no secret that the Central agencies are given a free hand to go after all and sundry, who are accused of corruption. Although, the Opposition’s frequent knocks on the apex court’s doors over the Central agencies ‘selective’ targets, none of them got as much as a reprieve from the courts. This was evident from those who were pushed behind the bars of either of the AAP or Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) or Nationalist Congress Party and Congress too. They are languishing in prisons as their frequent bail applications were effectively opposed by the same agencies, This unusual thing is happening ever since the Modi-led NDA stormed to power in 2014. Does that mean the Central agencies are no more caged parrots as described by the apex court? Though, it is too early to jump to that conclusion, yet Modi government’s determination not to harass none, but to get prosecuted all on solid evidence, should not go unseen. It simply means, no false cases, but framing cases with solid evidence, which cannot stand judicial scrutiny. That may be the reason why, the Central agencies are speeding up cases, unlike in the past, when the prosecution rate was dismal, when compared to now, opts to go slow on high-profile cases like Robert Vadra’s and K Kavitha’s, besides others. Yet, the agencies succeeded in framing charges against Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, in the National Herald newspaper case, who are now on bail. Even the so-called legal luminary like Chidambaram and his son Karti, who also belongs to the Congress, too have spent considerable time in Tihar prison against the allegations of their loot in the 2G scam involving crores of rupees and they too are on bail.
Similarly, the RJD president and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav too is in and out of several cases and is also now on bail. Even, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress members too were arrested and pushed behind bars in several major money laundering cases and they too are not getting bail for quite some time. And, the list of the Opposition over such money laundering cases remains endless and that forced them to come together and form I.N.D.I.A. bloc hoping against hopes to defeat the strong NDA in 2024 polls. And, the recent CAG report has given some hope to counter their arch-rivals NDA arguing ‘your corruption’ against ‘ours’ to score only some brownie points. How far, they will succeed only time will tell. And, the Modi government which claims to root out corruption from the country to make India an economic power, ensuring to occupy the economically No.3 spot in the world, needs to be more fair and convincing, by not sparing their party men, who too are accused of, in that fight!