Mainstream Weekly

Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2013 > Where Are We Heading?

Mainstream, VOL LI, No 9, February 16, 2013

Where Are We Heading?


Monday 18 February 2013, by SC


Several disturbing developments over the last few days have cast further shadow on the credibility of the ruling coalition at the Centre.

First came the allegation that the CBI’s special prosecutor in the 2G scam had advised the accused Unitech’s MD how to weaken the CBI’s case against the company; this was based on a conversation between the two taped on CD. The CBI had to remove the special prosecutor from the trial and preliminary inquiry was registered to probe the matter.

Thereafter it was reportedly revealed that the CBI probe into Coalgate has been stalled as the agency has yet to receive hundreds of files from the Union Coal Ministry that could throw light on charges of criminality in the allocation of coal blocks to private players causing a loss of Rs 1.88 lakh crore to the government.

However, the most serious charge of kickbacks has now been levelled by Italian investigators in Rome. In February 2010 the Defence Ministry signed a Rs 3546-crore contract for the purchase of 12 VVIP Agusta Westland (AW-101) helicopters from the Italian aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica to facilitate the travel of the President, PM and other dignitaries. On February 12 following the arrest of the Finmeccanica CEO and the issue of arrest warrants for two Switzerland-based Italian nationals as also the naming of a British-based consultant in the charge-sheet on the suspicion of their role in arranging bribes to bag the contract, the Defence Ministry was forced to order a CBI probe into the corruption allegations (the kickbacks, according to Italian investigators, could be of the order of 51 million euros or about Rs 350 crores). The gravity of the allegations has been heightened by the Italian investigators insisting that Finmec-canica bribed no less a person than the then Air Chief to swing the deal in its favour (through three of his businessmen cousins), a charge that the latter has denied without equivocation. Meanwhile the Defence Minister has taken a strong line and assured stringent against anyone found guilty no matter whatever the “consequences”; the govern-ment has also put on hold payments to the VVIP helicopter firm.

These constitute yet another grievous blow to the prestige of the already beleaguered UPA 2 dispensation.

At the same time the execution of Afzal Guru, the surrendered Kashmiri militant disillusioned with Pakistan who was sentenced to death in the 2001 Parliament House attack case, has complicated the political situation in the Kashmir Valley having further alienated the already aggrieved population there. The verdict of the Apex Court giving Afzal the death penalty (when he was not directly involved in the attack) “in order to satisfy the collective conscience of the people” was in itself questionable. But the hanging of Afzal in complete secrecy has been decried by all sections of democratic opinion across the country and they include the non-BJP Opposition. J&K CM Omar Abdullah has come out deprecating the decision while PDP patron and former Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed has raised a pertinent query in the backdrop of the manner in which the execution was carried out—as to whether India was a “banana republic”.

Where are we heading? A legitimate question as we step into an uncertain future in 2013.

February 14 S.C.

ISSN (Mainstream Online) : 2582-7316 | Privacy Policy
Notice: Mainstream Weekly appears online only.