We, the corrupt…

Published: November 1, 2010 - 15:00

As darkness settled on an October sky illuminated by laser beams and fire crackers bringing about a colorful and noisy end to a controversial Commonwealth Games (CWG), it became apparent that the festivity and levity of the 12-day sporting event would be quickly forgotten. 

Expectedly, next morning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced his resolve to find out why the CWG came close to be scuppered. He also promised to find out those who bilked the system to make big profits in these games. 

Run up to the games gave ample evidence of the large scale corruption in procurement and project execution. This loot was not confined to the Organising Committee headed by the much reviled Suresh Kalmadi, but revealed itself at every level and in every contract. 

Once the PM had expressed his intent about going after the crooks, all the agencies swooped down on departments involved with the execution of CWG. Auditors at CAG, Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate, CBI, CVC, Competition Commission all converged to take a bite on the investigation. 

At the same time, the PM also appointed former CAG VK Shunglu, to establish accountability of those who were responsible for the botch up. 

By all reckoning, the line up of agencies to find the crooks behind the pillage and chase their money should be easy. After all money leaves a footprint, which is easy for smart sleuths to follow. However, going by the atmosphere of venality prevailing in the country nothing much is likely to come out of these probes. 

It is not cynicism that is rubbishing this resolve, but an understanding of what has been the outcome to many a serious investigation. Take for example the sale of spectrum for 2G services in the telecom sector. The manner in which cronies were helped by the Telecom Minister A Raja and an estimated Rs1 lakh crore was notionally lost as the spectrum was not auctioned. 

As DMK is an ally of the ruling Congress party, the display of courage to chase the looters was obviously missing. Stability of the UPA government was given precedence over fixing scamsters who had made the country poorer and leavened impression of being a nation where corrupt went unpunished. 

In fact state government of Tamil Nadu presents an unedifying spectacle of organised corruption in practically every walk of life. In trying to earn legitimacy for their actions they are pursuing populist policies like distributing free televisions and giving subsidies for low cost houses. 

These Robin Hood policies do not conceal the brazen corruption in the state, which was recently exposed by the AIADMK leader Jayalalitha. So tight is the control of the ruling party in Tamil Nadu over the media that her speech was largely blacked out. 

Similar helplessness of the corruption ridden State is visible in Karnataka where gargantuan money from mining mafia is being used to buy stability for the BJP government. Horror stories corroborated by a sting operation have shown MLAs resolve to change loyalties being facilitated by promise of Rs 25-30 crore. 

Such blatant subversion of politics and constitutional process has been allowed to carry on merrily without being restrained by law enforcement agencies at the Centre or the state. 

It is possible to draw serious inferences about who will run the state government after it attains its stability - obviously the mining mafia. Governor HR Bhardwaj was criticised by the BJP for recommending the dismissal of the Karnataka government, but surely the happenings in the state seriously warrant such a move. No self respecting Governor can tolerate this blatant dance of perversity where assemblies turn into cattle markets.

In such an environment it would need great resolve by the PM to nail the guilty. Shunglu has to submit his report in three months and similarly the investigating agencies, too, would take some time to complete their investigation.

The total amount of money involved is so much that some of the major beneficiaries, if they indeed are found- it is not Kalmadi alone - then they would go to any extent to remain beyond the pale of law. 

And that could include using the time tested route of using either the UPA allies or some leaders of the main opposition party to make the government see reason with the implicit threat that if it acts tough then it could undermine the stability of the government or making it look inadequate in the Parliament. History bears testimony that the UPA government has backed off from such prospects.

Editor of Delhi's Hardnews magazine and author of Bad Money Bad Politics- the untold story of Hawala scandal.

Read more stories by Sanjay Kapoor

This story is from print issue of HardNews