Probe More, Ac­cuse Less on Chop­per Deal

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

The Agus­taWest­land chop­per deal is cost­ing the na­tion far more than peo­ple seem to ap­pre­ci­ate. It is hold­ing up pre­cious Par­lia­ment time. Worse, it is vi­ti­at­ing the at­mos­phere and spoil­ing the chances of any co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the rul­ing and Op­po­si­tion sides to make progress on se­ri­ous leg­isla­tive busi­ness. It falls to the gov­ern­ment of the day to take the ini­tia­tive to cre­ate con­sen­sus within the House on its agenda and get things mov­ing. In­stead of fo­cus­ing on try­ing to make tran­si­tion to a goods and ser­vices tax regime a re­al­ity and get­ting the bank­ruptcy Bill passed, the gov­ern­ment seems to be pri­ori­tis­ing po­lit­i­cal at­tacks on the Op­po­si­tion. The re­al­ity is that the chop­per deal had been scrapped by the UPA gov­ern­ment af­ter al­le­ga­tions of pay­offs sur­faced, a probe or­dered and Agusta black­listed. Af­ter the new gov­ern­ment came to of­fice, the probe failed to make progress and the com­pany has been al­lowed, once again, to take part in sup­ply­ing gear to the In­dian armed forces. This does not show a se­ri­ous ap­proach to in­ves­ti­gat­ing charges of malfea­sance in the deal. The sen­si­ble thing for the gov­ern­ment to do is to fo­cus on pros­e­cut­ing the in­quiry into the bribery charges and get­ting to the bot­tom of things. Pick­ing on ref­er­ences to Congress lead­ers, par­tic­u­larly the Gand­his, as in­flu­en­tial peo­ple who should be ap­proached to swing the deal by a lob­by­ist to claim that an Ital­ian court or­der had im­pli­cated the Gand­his is not only to play pol­i­tics but also to show scant re­spect to the in­tel­li­gence of the public. Press ahead with the probe, make it time-bound and find out who took money. Fo­cus en­er­gies on es­tab­lish­ing the iden­tity of the guilty, rather than on tar­get­ing Op­po­si­tion lead­ers. Avoid­able con­fronta­tion only serves to abort leg­is­la­tion that the econ­omy des­per­ately needs.

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