Only after the 2G scam did I learn how many zeroes there are to numbers aptly called “lakh-crores”. The impact of the fiasco didn’t really drive home until I listened to my grandfather’s woes last night. Its one thing to worry about the country’s future in the telecommunications sector when frequencies are allotted and licenses sold for such massive, albeit insufficient, amounts are all canceled, but it’s another to know that a parliamentarian (of A. Raja’s calibre) who is paid Rs. 56,000 per month finds it insufficient. That’s the bottom line at the end of the day.
I don’t know what Kapil Sibal or Manmohan Singh are doing either. For being a more progressive lot, they seem to be forgetting their basics, only making it easier for the BJP to hem them in. Of course, the Auditor General (AG) and Dr. Subramaniam Swamy are achieving that by themselves, the latter with added political gains. First, the scam: fine, it’s happened, now hand over A. Raja to the CBI’s custody so the matter can be sorted out. But no, Sibal is instituted as the interim telecom minister – a move that immediately inculpates Raja in the public eye. Next, Sibal announces a press meet and claims that Raja did nothing wrong, that there was no loss to the govt. India. That’s mistake #2: defying the comptroller and auditor general of India (CAG) so blatantly without providing any proof in his defense. As if this wasn’t enough, Manmohan Singh, who I used to think was smart, appoints P. J. Thomas as the CVC. Was that defiance of the BJP’s disapproval in light of his culpability in the Palmolein oil scam? If so, bad move. Or was that a matter of taking the law into his own hands – again a defiance of the Supreme Court’s pending judgment on the same case? Again, if so, bad move.
And now, Dr. Singh releases a statement claiming he and P. Chidambaram (who, together with Sushma Swaraj, constituted the committee that decided to appoint Thomas as the CVC in September, 2010) agreed on the appointment while Ms. Swaraj, from the BJP, disagreed. Agreement or disagreement is not the prerogative of the commonwealth; if there was a case pending judgment against the name of the CVC – of all the people – then its ineffectiveness in influencing the decision of his promotion reflects poorly on the Prime Minister, the ruling party and, ultimately, the state of the nation.