The acquittal by a special Delhi court of all the accused in the notorious 2G scam that eroded the credibility of the UPA government in 2011, leading to its fall three years later, has raised questions which could prove extremely embarrassing for the present dispensation. The exoneration evidently was necessitated by poor investigation conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the equally appalling presentation of evidences by the prosecution, reflective of the overall gross incompetence of those in power.
The discharge also raises serious questions regarding the ability and professional conduct of Vinod Rai, the then Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), who came out with the sensational disclosure which put the presumptive loss borne by the exchequer to a colossal Rs 1.76 lakh crore. The entire allegations and the deficit projected by Rai could not stand the test of law and the special court had no hesitation in throwing out the charges against politicians, corporate houses, industrialists and bureaucrats, all of whom bore the extensive brunt due to the stigma of being accused of wrong-doing in the mother of all scams.
It is obvious that the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, which both have ended up with egg on their faces, would go all out and appeal against the detailed 1,500 pages-plus order of O.P. Saini as the two organisations find their reputations absolutely undermined by the judgement. Legal luminaries have been quick to point out that the suffering of the accused persons including former Union Minister A. Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi, who served time in jail can in no manner be compensated. Similarly, the setback received to the telecom industry by the scam is virtually irreparable.
The Congress and its UPA allies, too, were viewed as totally tainted in the light of Rai’s notings and after the Apex Court ordered the cancellation of licences, the writing was on the wall that the grand old party’s fate in the 2014 elections was sealed beyond any doubt. The defensive Congress, with lame duck excuses, put forth by its attorneys and leaders, was unable to counter the serious allegations made by Gandhian Anna Hazare’s well-conceived crusade against corruption; and could not handle the combative campaign unleashed by politically savvy Narendra Modi, who succeeded in inflicting on the party its worst ever defeat in history.
Curiously, the Anna movement fizzled out, though its off-shoot, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), rose from its ashes to challenge the Congress and BJP in Delhi to begin with and subsequently in Punjab and other places. In fact, the perceived corruption by the Congress had singularly demolished the party in the eyes of the people and anchors eager to conduct a trial on TV stations pronounced its leaders guilty even before any court of law came to any finding. A commencement of a dangerous trend that continues on some channels where disregard for both propriety and legal values has come to stay at the cost of rule of law.
It is not for the first time that TV has attempted to sway and influence public discourse. It has been regularly doing so for many years, regardless of what the truth of the matter was, by merely spinning out half-baked facts which bear no resemblance to the entirety of the situation. It is semi-acceptable, so far as entertainment goes, but once it transgresses the boundaries of legality and ethics, it is an extremely alarming occurrence.
Fortunately, the judgement was delivered post the polling in Gujarat. Otherwise it certainly would have impacted the elections as well as the BJP’s prospects. The entire narrative of one party being thoroughly corrupt and the other being squeaky clean has fallen on its face. The BJP and the NDA have been in power for more than three and half years and they cannot defend the failure of their agencies. Its ministers and functionaries were expected to monitor the investigations to thereby ensure that admissible evidences were furnished in the court to build an air-tight case.
Firebrand BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has questioned the legal team of the government and has accused former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi of connivance and complicity in hushing up the matter, while maintaining that the 2G accused would not be allowed to go scot free when the issue comes up before a higher court. On his part, Rohatgi has described Swamy as an obsessive, litigious person who has the propensity of maligning people by making baseless and malicious contentions. In other words, an internal war has broken out in the BJP camp following the startling acquittal.
The BJP, which has been on the front foot, has suddenly gone on the defensive and is unable to plausibly provide an acceptable explanation of how all this has come to happen. WhatsApp jokes, alluding to the saffron brigade’s claims and assurances, are doing the rounds which state that “No black money has been unearthed, No 2G scam happened, Ganga still unclean, Vadra still free and it appears that we voted only to get our Aadhaar Card linked to our mobiles.” This is an issue, which the party’s leadership in the near future will have to address.
The BJP has been bruised in the recent Assembly polls. It was unable to reach a three-figure mark in Gujarat, its strongest state, and in the Himachal elections, its CM face Prem Kumar Dhumal was vanquished. Needless to say, it is time for introspection. Between us.