SPE­CIAL: 2G And fod­der SCAMS: A TALE of two ver­dicts

Be it a con­vic­tion or even an ac­quit­tal, the op­po­si­tion is ha­bit­u­ated to look­ing for Modi’s hand ev­ery­where

Governance Now - - FRONT PAGE - Ajay Singh ajay@gov­er­nan­cenow.com This com­ment has ap­peared on First­post.com in a slightly dif­fer­ent ver­sion.

The story of the ex­on­er­a­tion of A raja and the con­vic­tion of a metaphor­i­cal raja (Lalu Prasad used to call him­self the raja of Bihar) re­veals a com­plex web of gov­er­nance in in­dia. raja’s ex­on­er­a­tion in the 2g scam was quickly fol­lowed by Lalu’s con­vic­tion in the fod­der scam. in both cases, the re­spec­tive cbi courts de­liv­ered ver­dicts that the ac­cused have in­ter­preted to their con­ve­nience.

But look at the man­ner in which raja, Kan­i­mozhi and their col­leagues in the DMK are ju­bi­lat­ing over the court’s ver­dict and de­scrib­ing it as “tri­umph of truth”. Quot­ing the ver­dict, they call the 2G scam noth­ing but a fig­ment of the imag­i­na­tion of some con­spir­a­tors out to de­stroy the “im­pec­ca­ble” im­age of the UPA gov­ern­ment. of course, the con­spir­a­tor-in-chief is prime min­is­ter naren­dra Modi!

now turn the story to­wards ranchi, where Lalu, af­ter be­ing con­victed, dis­cov­ered that he is in the league of “nel­son Man­dela, Martin Luther King and Br Ambed­kar”. He claimed him­self to be on the side of truth and blamed the BJP and the PM for pur­vey­ing false­hoods lead­ing to his con­vic­tion. He also hinted at a con­spir­acy of up­per castes to cor­ner him. And the lead player in this con­spir­acy is, again, Modi.

in the 2g case, the judge clearly blames the cbi and the en­force­ment direc­torate of car­ry­ing out “shoddy in­ves­ti­ga­tions” and their in­abil­ity to prove ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. ob­vi­ously, the cbi’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion and its pros­e­cu­tion an­noyed the court to the ex­tent that it found no merit in the claims of wrong­do­ing in 2g spec­trum al­lo­ca­tions.

Con­trast this with the fod­der scam case and one will find that the cbi has in­ves­ti­gated metic­u­lously and con­vinced the court to con­vict prime ac­cused Lalu. in both, there is one con­sis­tency in the ar­gu­ments that the BJP in gen­eral and Modi in par­tic­u­lar are out to de­stroy the rep­u­ta­tion of their po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­saries. Along with this runs the theme of the cbi and the ed be­ing used by the gov­ern­ment to tar­get the op­po­si­tion. if one goes by the state­ments of Lalu, raja and cer­tain congress lead­ers, it would ap­pear that all in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing the ju­di­ciary, are mere pup­pets in the gov­ern­ment’s hand.

is there any iota of truth in these al­le­ga­tions? Ap­par­ently, in both cases facts are stranger than fic­tion. Right from the word go, both cases were strictly mon­i­tored by the supreme court. in the 2g case, much be­fore the BJP came to power, the supreme court clearly in­dicted the gov­ern­ment and found fault with raja for tweak­ing poli­cies to favour cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als. The scam was in­ves­ti­gated suc­ces­sively by two cbi chiefs – AP singh and ran­jit sinha – both con­sid­ered close to the congress. While singh’s prox­im­ity to Ahmed Pa­tel was quite ev­i­dent dur­ing the upa’s ten­ure, sinha was ini­tially too close to the UPA regime but switched sides be­fore the 2014 Lok sabha polls in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a change.

Par­tic­u­larly in­trigu­ing was the man­ner in which the supreme court en­forced its de­ci­sion on the cbi and the ed to re­tain a par­tic­u­lar set of in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cers (some with du­bi­ous cre­den­tials) and pros­e­cu­tors to pur­sue the 2g case. Ap­par­ently nei­ther the cbi nor the ed was given any lat­i­tude to choose in­ves­ti­ga­tors and de­ter­mine the course of pros­e­cu­tion as ev­ery­thing came un­der the sc’s man­date. The re­al­ity is that the gov­ern­ment has let the agen­cies func­tion as per the di­rec­tion of the SC. In ef­fect, the CBI court’s judg­ment reads like an in­dict­ment of the sc which as­sumed for it­self a role be­yond the con­sti­tu­tional man­date and in­fringed on the ex­ec­u­tive’s do­main.

sim­i­larly in the fod­der scam case, the metic­u­lous in­ves­ti­ga­tion car­ried out by the cbi estab­lished Lalu’s cul­pa­bil­ity be­yond doubt and led to his con­vic­tion. it is no se­cret that in upa’s ten­ure, Lalu des­per­ately tried to get rid of the fod­der scam by em­ploy­ing all means, fair and foul. He ap­proached the sc with a re­quest to club to­gether all cases re­lated to the fod­der scam in or­der to ma­nip­u­late the sit­u­a­tion in his favour. How­ever, the other side in the court was vig­i­lant enough to foil all his at­tempts. given the history of the fod­der case, it is quite ev­i­dent that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion were hardly ever tin­kered with by the Modi gov­ern­ment.

Then how does one in­ter­pret the al­le­ga­tion of over-cen­tral­i­sa­tion of power in PMO or in Modi? Per­haps, the tale of pros­e­cu­tion of raja and Lalu is quite re­veal­ing about Modi’s style of func­tion­ing. The man­ner in which Raja was let off the hook was a re­flec­tion of pro­fes­sional in­com­pe­tence of the ed and the cbi. sim­i­larly, Lalu’s con­vic­tion is in­dica­tive of pro­fes­sional hard work and com­pe­tence of another set of of­fi­cers from the same CBI. The PMO’S in­flu­ence is com­pletely ab­sent in both the cases. This goes quite con­trary to Modi’s im­age of be­ing a con­trol freak. Far from it, he ap­pears to be guided by mo­ti­va­tion far greater than im­pli­cat­ing petty po­lit­i­cal crim­i­nals who would, in any case, meet their neme­sis sooner than later.

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