Storm warning

Two years after an estimated loss of `1,76,000 crore to the exchequer from former Union telecom minister A. Raja’s allocation of 2G spectrum, he has finally been ousted from the Cabinet. The 2G scam is like a theatre owner buying the entire lot of tickets available for a Bollywood blockbuster like Dabangg on the first day and then selling the tickets in black, on a “first come first serve” basis to the public.

“Spectrum Raja” may have left but the issues persist, foremost among them the question of “coalition blackmail”. While all initial steps are positive, the fact is that it took more than 15 months for action to be initiated. Few, if any, are confident of a fair probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is very much in control of the United Progressive Alliance-2 government.
The Supreme Court has sought an explanation from the government as to why the Prime Minister did not act on the letter written by former law minister Subramanian Swamy seeking sanction to prosecute Mr Raja.
We will now witness a flurry of activity on the alleged corruption in Commonwealth Games-related projects. Recently, two key aides of Commonwealth Games organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi — T.S. Darbari and Sanjay Mohindroo — were arrested by the CBI for their alleged involvement in the Queen’s Baton Relay scam and Mr Kalmadi, along with many others, may soon follow.
We could have a similar situation in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam. I wonder if all this will put the 2G-spectrum scam in the background? It remains to be seen whether the Congress will try to deal with this through the usual procedures and technicalities or will it act firmly against fraud and corruption.
The Congress would make a serious error of judgment in opposing a free and fair probe into this scam. The nation has been robbed and this issue will not fade away soon. It will take little effort to reveal the details — the intelligence agencies, along with the enforcement directorate (ED) and the income-tax department, have all the audio tapes. Few things will remain secret in this investigation.
I think there is little alternative but for the Supreme Court to monitor this investigation as the CBI has little credibility. If cases in Gujarat can be monitored by the Supreme Court then should it be any different in the case of the 2G spectrum scam?

MR RAJA is sure to drag down the entire Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) family, their associates and many industry stalwarts along with a host of politicians cutting across party lines.
As we have seen in the Indian Premier League controversy, besides cash there is also a system of “sweat equity” (people who have contributed their time and effort), minority share holdings and offshore investors in Mauritius and other countries.
The payouts on hundreds of thousands of crores are very difficult to hide and all concerned will fight a ferocious battle for survival and create diversions. But one should not forget that besides the interests of the ruling party and the Opposition, an impartial media exists, most of which, fortunately, is not in control of anyone.
There is little point in talking of high personal standards of integrity unless these are reflected in governance. Clearly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has much to do in the next few days.
The financial mafia is destroying political authority. Unless all political parties get together and find a way to establish a transparent system of political funds, this cancer will continue to grow.
The Opposition is united in its approach and if there is even the slightest hint of any delay or a cover-up, the scam will hit Dr Singh and UPA-2.
We do not live in a perfect world and in politics, over the years, things have changed, both for the better and the worse. Coalitions, by nature, are fragile, but since we cannot form a new government every year, compromises are necessary. And this is what we have seen in the case of the 2G scam.
In Tamil Nadu, it promises to be an interesting battle between the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the Congress and the DMK, with a few fringe groups who are in touch with everyone. Much will depend on the progress of the probe in the 2G-spectrum scam.
The DMK family is immersed in a succession war and DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s silence has added to the family feud where the political interests of his two wives, sons, daughters and nephews and others have lost all proportion of political reality.
The DMK and the AIADMK are both strong parties but have been weakened by “asset creation” while the Congress has the vote share but lacks the will to test its strength. I would not be surprised if the DMK lags behind the AIADMK and the Congress in a straight fight.
In its alliance with the DMK, the old guard in the Congress has secured its interest and is now reluctant to allow any change. But the younger lot, with a stake in the future, has the will to go alone. In politics, the ground reality is often far more important than loyalty and sentiment.
It is time for all concerned to think hard as the 2G crisis evolves and spills into several areas. Dr Singh is an honest man and so is L.K. Advani and so are all the Left leaders. Everyone is aware of the problems and it is time that every party took the initiative to start the process of change.
As I write this there is news coming in of Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa allocating land to his sons and son-in-law. How is he any different from former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan? The allotted plots must be returned and the Congress will not be alone in asking for Mr Yeddyurappa’s resignation. The BJP high command, if any such thing exists, has limited options.

Arun Nehru is a former Union minister

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