So, finally the PM came out in the open, but did he come clean? And has he emerged clean? The much hyped media interaction was MSingh’s scripted soliloquy really with the otherwise ebullient editors strangely soft, probably by pre-arrangement. The PM could very well have read out a statement. Whatever, but the meet which raised more questions while answering none, actually confirmed our worst doubts about the country’s cleaner-than-thou CEO, who only ended up indicting himself.
Most of his averments were apalling to the core. To a suspiciously cosy and downright indulgent personal query on whether ‘as an honest person surrounded by dishonest people, he ever thought of calling it quits’ the PM pompously declared that he was not a quitter! But by his own admission, that’s exactly what he had done on 2G: Abdicate! Listen to him:‘Raja assured me that he has been transparent in all his dealings … that he had done nothing inconsistent with that promise…’ That was it. So, this supremely and scrupulously honest man, an economist of repute with a meticulous eye for numbers and notes in fine print, actually refused to play by the ear and was instead led by the nose. So, all his well-honed academic acumen and bureacratic skill, not to speak of Prime Ministerial obligations, were superceded by some simple assurances given by a rank novice Raja. The trustworthiness and track record of this minister, not to speak of the party he belonged to, were foolproof and beyond reproach, or so thought the Sardar!
So what prompted such child-like naivete in a super-smart man? He repeatedly asserts that ‘at that time there was no reason to suspect’. An honest lie, that! The 2G scam was not an expose post facto, unlike the latest S-band scam in Singh’s own bandwidth which has taken time to unravel. On the contrary, the 2G scam unfolded as it happened, in real time. The possibility of a scam was very obvious, the shenanigans between the corporates and the tele minister were in the open, the impending scam and its modus operandi was predicted, the run up to the scam was documented not just by the media but on official stationery too, the sham of an auction, the fifteen-minute first-come-first-served fiasco of ’07, was reported live, then ever since that second, the scent of the scam spread spread itself out liberally in the public domain and the stink rages till date. MSingh himself was officially in the loop during the entire drama. Yet, the man says, ‘at that time’ he entertained no suspicions. And no word from him yet on what he thinks ‘at this time, now’!
The familiar discourse that the law will take its own course was parotted again. Singh has now assured the nation that ‘he is dead serious about bringing the wrong-doers to book’. In fact, he sounded so solemn, sure and sincere that it was almost surreal. Where does the original sin lie in this case? By all standards, the guilt of Raja & Co is presumed, in public opinion, media trials and even by initial judicial intent. But what has been Singh’s standard? Who actually prevented the law from taking its own course? Indeed, but for our clean man’s consistent clean chits, Raja would have been in the dock long back. And Singh’s ultimate commitment to ‘punishing’ the guilty was displayed when he made Raja the tele minister in the post-scam UPA-2 too! Well, well, it is possible that ‘at that time’ Singh thought the guilty need not be punished and has since changed his mind! By the way, should not guilt be shared by those who shielded the guilty? Those four fingers are damning!
The PM’s invocation of coalition dharma for that decision is another perennial fraud on the nation, an excuse to escape obligations and a ruse to sacrifice prerogatives. He touts the logic that if he does not compromise with (corrupt) allies the country will have to face polls every six months. Even if that exaggerated schedule were true, why not, we ask, for, a saving of Rs 1.76 lakh crs, (excluding S Band, that is) could have funded many elections, as many as is required to erase this scourge called coalition karma. Also, I can’t recall any ally, not Indian at least, urging Rajiv’s Cong regime of ‘80s vintage to buy Bofors guns by paying bribes. But here is also a candid admission by the clean MSingh that he winked at corruption, the 2G brand, just to stay in power (which, incidentally, contradicts his stated stand that he suspected nothing foul). Not surprising for a man who who did not flinch at open horse-trading during the N-deal trust vote! So that’s honest Singh’s sterling signal to those running the country along with him as also to the countrymen: Even mega sleaze is chalta hai if it can save some inconvenience besides salvaging your own perch in power! Now how can anyone holding public office under the Constitution make such flippant claims on a public platform? Really, we know our Rajas and Kalmadis quite well! But God save us from honest persons!
MSingh scaled a peak of sorts when he elaborated on the scam quantum. On this subject, he seemed more in Sibal territory playing almost the same zero-sum game. Only that he excelled Sibal, who is no financial whizguy, with his own wizardy. So we have it on the authority of the great global economist MSingh that giving away precious 2G spectrum to chosen crony corporates through a dubious process is the same as providing subsidies on account of food, fertilizer, fuel etc to the poor and downtrodden of Bharath! And on that sound economic logic he went on to argue how any loss can only be notional and even that, only for the people’s benefit … like those subsidies, stupid! Thus in one stroke, 2G spectrum turned thin air again! Quite an enlightening economic lesson on Budget eve! And what a boost for Raja’s case! But the ultimate punch came at the start itself. The constant scamming by the media needs to be stopped because it is sapping the citizens’ self-confidence, bemoaned Singh. Here was an open call by our PM for cover-up!
So, the morals of the story, to sum up: No sign of scam; if there was, Singh didn’t know; even if he did, he didn’t suspect anything foul; when found foul, didn’t act; because Raja said no scam; but if there was a scam, then only officials and Raja dealt with scamsters; Singh met none personally; so Singh is clean; since Singh is clean, he is not responsible; and even if held responsible, then scam must be silenced, since not only Singh, but the nation’s reputation must also be clean! Now, that is a very weird Sardar joke on the country. Indeed, it is time to call off the hounds and the hunt; thanks to the media meet, we are now pretty sure where the bucks lie!
Unquote: The author of those quotes is Adolf Hitler. Congrats to the very few who got it right and to the many hundreds who tried. More of, and from, history’s vintage villain in the weeks to come. Reading him had been a revelation and real fun. But it surely could not have been so, ‘at that time’!
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|Corrigendum : Many readers have pointed out the wrong reference to the CEC in last week’s Pointblank. I had meant only Navin Chawla, but failed to refer to him in the past tense, as I had done with the ex-CJI. I apologise for the error and thank the diligent readers.
-T R Jawahar