The CBI and investigators linked to the income-tax department and Enforcement Directorate, charged with unearthing financial crimes and irregularities, conducted extensive raids Tuesday on the premises of former finance minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti, as well as RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, a former railway minister and former Bihar CM. Hundreds of personnel were involved as dozens of properties were raided in Delhi and its neighbourhood, Patna, Chennai and Mumbai. This is the narrow truth, which emerges from the filing of FIRs in a string of cases against all those concerned.
We can safely assume, looking at the record of cases in India, that these can go on years, and the media will be exploited by those in power to reinforce the impression of corruption by spreading the word that “incriminating documents” — pretty much the standard lexicon even when enquiries and investigations are going nowhere — were found. The larger truth is that leading Opposition politicians were targeted with a rare single-mindedness by the BJP government and, it appears, with a strong sense of coordination of a political nature.
Besides Mr Chidambaram and Mr Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik, Mayawati, Virbhadra Singh in Himachal Pradesh and Arvind Kejriwal are also sought to be dragged into various cases, as are Sonia and Rahul Gandhi over the so-called National Herald case.
In Andhra Pradesh, therefore, the YSR Congress has acted with uncommon insight in making it plain that it will go with the BJP in the presidential election, and not with the Opposition.
There is no one from the BJP or NDA stables accused of any financial irregularities, leave alone wrongdoing. The “day of reckoning” that finance minister Arun Jaitley has spoken of with customary eloquence seems to apply to the BJP’s opponents alone.
In this, the campaign to sweep up corruption from the nation’s politics differs from the Jain hawala scandal that briefly emerged during the tenure of former PM P.V. Narasimha Rao. The then PM had committed a practical error. He brought in his own partymen, including a top Cabinet minister, into the ambit of the probe. He paid dearly for this as even the friendly media turned hostile. The BJP seems determined not to go that way.
The perpetrators of the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, that is like a never-ending television serial, the rice irregularities in Chhattisgarh, the politics over Lalit Modi that involved Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, appear to have gone off the radar. And there’s nothing more to be heard on the Birla-Sahara diaries front.
It’ll be worthwhile if all wrongdoers — all — go to jail after a transparent, clean and fair investigation and trial. Pick and choose is inimical to the temper and the spirit of democracy.