The Congress finally decides to sacrifice its 2 ministers – still egg on its face ..

The leader of the Congress has long been a master of perceptions, starting from when she gave up the throne to Manmohan Singh and attained a saint like presence. So, the events of the past couple of days have been really confusing as to the intentions of the Congress. For the past couple of years, ever since the 2G scam blew up, the Government and the Congress have been under a lot of pressure about corruption in the Government, to the extent that it would seem like the entire need of the UPA – II Government was to bear the brunt of the scams that were committed in UPA – I and keep on facing public pressure for the same. But, it was the investigations into the Coal allocation scandal that have really shaken the Government. These point directly to the Prime Minister, since for 3 of those years which are being investigated, the Prime Minister was the coal minister, and from all the media investigation, it is quite clear that the allocations of coal were made in a manner that does not stand the scrutiny of honesty. But the investigation by the CBI has claimed a major victim who was not even the beneficiary of the coal allocation scam.
What sparked all this ? In March, the Additional Solicitor General provided an affidavit to the Supreme Court that the draft report of the CBI was not shown to the government, and for probably the first time, the Supreme Court hinted that the ASG was a liar, since they asked the CBI Director to file an affidavit certifying the same. Now, when you really want something done from the Government and you find that the Government is dragging its feet, the court can threaten the concerned Government babu with a jail sentence for contempt. And lying in a sworn affidavit to the Supreme Court ? That would be a no no. First of all, since it is the Supreme Court, there is no appeal possible, and the Government cannot be depended upon. It would just give you up and claim that you were doing on your own self.
So, the CBI Director decided that he was not going to get into trouble with the top court and decided to file an affidavit which accepted that the earlier statement was a lie, and further accepted that there were changes made by the Law Minister and by others such as the joint secretaries in the ministries of coal and in the PMO, and also by the Attorney General. This was a shocker, although expected. The CBI was investigating the coal allocations made by the coal ministry when the Prime Minister was the minister concerned. So, having officials from these ministries meant that the people who were being investigated were also the ones who were modifying the report – an absolute no no when it comes to a fair investigation. This came into a severe verbal thrashing from the court which promptly deepened the problems for the CBI Direction by asking him for more details, and with the unspoken part that any denials or lies would seal his fate. By now, the CBI Direction would be like poison for the Government, since the details he was revealing would cause it huge problems. The second affidavit files a few days back further caused more stinging remarks from the court and in a good sense, at least insulated the CBI for some days or weeks atleast; and also instructed the government to present details on how to make the CBI more independent. If this continues, it will be good for the country since the premiere investigating body can do good if it gets a free hand to operate. The Government continued to defend Ashwani Kumar for quite some time, since he is the last line of defense for the PM, but finally had to give up.
And the other case is more curious. Given that everybody knows that the CBI is totally beholden to the Government, it was mighty strange as to how the CBI has behaved in the Railgate scam. It seems to act as independent body, and in fact, the news about the bribery scandal involving the family members of the Railway Minister was broken to the media before it could be controlled. And this was the time period when the court was lecturing the Government about the actions of the CBI and the Government, so that ensured that the problems facing the Railway Minister were quickly highlighted, and the media took care of the rest. The CBI highlighted the bribes for jobs scandal, and the media took on Pawan Bansal in more aspects, including the very fast rise of his family finances, the impropriety of his family’s financial dealings, and so on. He was like facing a news hungry media that wanted his blood, and he had no chance. There was one report which stated that a lot of this was happening because the CBI Direction had some old score to settle with the Railway minister and the ministry, and the actions of the CBI, although correct, seem so much out of character that you wonder. And there is apparently a lot more to come, since there is news of tapes of telephone conversations that are very interesting and incriminating.
The Government knew that all this was coming, and yet tried to drag it out as much as it could. Their timing was totally off however, since these are not seen as the action of a Government that was looking for probity, but instead scalps of a determined media. There was no honor in the resignations of these ministers, which makes you wonder about how the political antenna of Sonia Gandhi was off. Further, more new stories about how Manmohan Singh was still refusing to sack them and how Sonia Gandhi had to force him to do the same even blew the lid off his veneer of honesty. The former honest reputation Manmohan Singh will go down as a disaster, the one whose regime committed so much corruption that they would name the era after him which lead to cleaning up of politics – the ‘Black era of Manmohan Singh’. Getting Digvijay Singh to defend them meant that they were a goner.
Only problem – the opposition parties are no better. I will recognize opposition parties as being better if they implement strong Lokayukta’s with the required infrastructure to ensure removal of corruption in the states that they control. The BJP has already faced an utter humiliation in Karnataka due to their equally corrupt regime; so what are the alternatives ?

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