THE scandal avalanche of the UPA won’t stop. Even before one can take stock of one scam, another appears.
The latest is, of course, the VVIP chopper deal. And this time again there is a direct Italian connection. It is now even impossible to calculate the cumulative loss the UPA governance of nine years has caused to the public. What is even more scary is that the administrative checks and auditing systems seem to have been completely abandoned by the hungry politicians and the pliant bureaucracy in their greed for more.
With the result that it is the foreign investigative agencies and the media that are breaking the story. India’s premier investigative agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is looking foolish, having lost credibility and forfeiting the trust of the people of India. It has earned a ill-reputation that is so deplorable. It has not solved a single case involving politicians and defence deals in the last 30 years!
The image of the CBI has been eroding for some time now. But under the UPA and Manmohan Singh it has lost all sense of propriety and uprightness. Two recent incidents of bribe being taken by CBI counsels to pass on information for benefiting the accused have totally demoralised its reputation in the public eye.
The UPA government has been using the CBI for settling political scores and winning support. Following political diktats the investigative agency has gone flip-flop and flop-flip over several politicians, notably Sonia Gandhi, Robert Vadra, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Chidambaram, Kalmadi, Amar Singh, JMM leaders, to name just a few.
The CBI’s pathetic performance in the Bofors bribery case is too well known to be recounted here. It spent crores of rupees on the investigation. Even in that it lied. In the court it pleaded for a closure of the case saying Rs 250 crore had been spent and there was nothing more it could do. But in response to a RTI by a lawyer Ajay Agarwal, it claimed to have spent less than Rs five crore on it. Most of the CBI expenditure in case investigation is spent on multiple trips abroad in a royal wild goose chase.
As soon as the Westland helicopter scam broke out, the first thing the CBI did was to book a few air tickets to Milan and other destinations in Italy to investigate. It is entirely another matter that the Italian court has refused to share details and whatever information could be obtained have been scraped out by the media. So the CBI officials will have an all-expenses paid holiday and return empty-handed and give a clean chit to all the politicians involved.
Right below its nose, Abhishek Verma and his foreign wife, considered one of the most important kingpins in defence deals in India, have been carrying on business without either the CBI or the enforcement ever intercepting them. Their deep Congress connections are well-known. This despite some TV channels breaking the story over a year ago.
It is in the background of all these that a demand to unshackle the CBI has emerged. Removing it from the control of either the Home Ministry or the PMO and making it an independent watchdog was one of the demands of the Lok Pal movement. The government has persistently baulked at the idea.
No one expects better from the UPA. Most of the appointment of senior officials in the CBI including its chief have been on the basis of their pliability and proximity to the present dispensation. The CBI which should have been at the vanguard of fighting corruption by fixing responsibility is today mired in those very charges. It would take long for credibility to be restored to the CBI. It cannot happen under the UPA.