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iling political corruption

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 July 2017 12:00 AM GMT

It is difficult enough to il a corrupt bureaucrat, but bringing a corrupt politician to book in our country seems well nigh impossible. The tainted babu can run to his political masters for reprieve, activate his network within the administration to stymie investigation, and game the system by using all legal weapons at his disposal. The politician can do all this and much more; his biggest defence is that he is being ‘victimised’ for political reasons. This is followed by the pious resolve to ‘go to the people’s court and seek their verdict’. Not infrequently, the people end up giving their mandate to such leaders, for corruption in public life does not figure high in the average voter’s view of things. RJD supremo Lalu Prasad is the latest political leader to cry foul against the ruling dispensation with the CBI hot on his trail. The case relates to a hotel maintence contract Lalu Prasad awarded when he was the Railway Minister in 2006. The CBI has alleged that the tender was rigged through the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in favour of a hotel group, in exchange for 10 plots in Pat transferred at very low cost to a firm owned by Lalu Prasad’s family. The RJD boss has countered CBI’s allegation by claiming that he had never dealt with any file relating to IRCTC which is an autonomous body, and that the hotel party was selected ‘through open tender to the highest bidder’. As CBI sleuths fanned out from Gurugram to Delhi to Pat to raid over 12 locations, Lalu Prasad went on the offensive — alleging that the BJP is out to break the ‘mahagathbandhan’ between RJD, JD(U) and Congress, the grand alliance that he hopes to expand by roping in parties like BSP, Samajwadi Party and DMK to take on the NDA in 2019. The Congress has already come out in support of Lalu Prasad, decrying the CBI raids as ‘political vendetta in which law enforcement agencies are being used as puppets’. JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is meanwhile keeping his own counsel, even as Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate sleuths are keeping the heat on Lalu Prasad’s family by continuing raids over a bemi (proxy) land deal and tax evasion case worth over Rs 1,000-crore.
Convicted in the fodder scam case, Lalu Prasad is presently disqualified from contesting elections. But he controls politics in Bihar with his party having 80 seats to JD(U)’s 71 seats in the Assembly, while son Tejaswi is the deputy CM. Earlier in May this year, CBI raided 14 properties connected to former Union Fince minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram in Cheni. This was in connection to a case involving INX Media, formerly owned by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, which is being probed for receiving foreign direct investments beyond the approved limit. CBI has alleged that after the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) sought an explation from INX Media, it paid kickbacks to Karti Chidambaram, who then prevailed upon the Fince ministry to overlook the irregularities. P Chidambaram then alleged that the NDA government is trying to “silence” his voice by going after his son, and that this tactic is being used against other opposition leaders as well. In fact, there are investigations ongoing against Himachal CM and Congress leader Virbhadra Singh for acquisition of assets disproportiote to known sources of income during his tenure as Union Steel Minister, former Harya CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda for allotting huge plots to private builders in Gurugram, chit fund scam cases against some Trimool MPs, corruption cases against some AAP leaders, NRHM scam case against BSP supremo Mayawati, and many others in a pretty long list. The CBI itself registered a corruption case against its former Director Ranjit Sinha on allegations of abusing his authority to scuttle investigations and prosecutions in the coal block allocation cases. Sinha in fact happens to be the second CBI chief to have been booked by the investigative agency. The rendra Modi-led government is taking pride in its claim of giving scam-free rule in the three years it has been in power. But when the investigation mechanism itself gets compromised by graft and hobbled by political interference, it gives political opponents the opportunity to claim they are being subjected to motivated witch hunts. There will be no end to smear campaigns against investigation agencies, unless these are revamped and given sufficient autonomy. And unless the investigation process is cleaned up and linked effectively to the court process, political corruption can never be iled.

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