Hours after the arrest of former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, the Congress alleged that the Modi Government had indulged in political vendetta. The Congress is only partially right. The BJP-led regime is certainly looking to politically gain, but the accusation of vendetta does not hold water in light of the material that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have in their possession and which will be placed before the courts in time to come.
Whether it was the 2G case, the National Herald issue (in which both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are out on bail) or Karti Chidambaram’s alleged involvement in the case at hand, it was Swamy more than the Government who battled for justice.
There is no reason why the BJP should pull its punches. It came to power on the promise of ending corruption in high places. It assured a crackdown on illegalities that had been committed during the Congress-helmed UPA era. Issues such as the 2G Spectrum scam, the Commonwealth Games scam, the coal block allocation scam etc had angered the people of the country, and they gave a befitting reply to the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Implicit in the verdict was the belief that the new Government would act swiftly.
Unfortunately for the Modi regime, things began to go somewhat wrong. High-profile accused such as Vijay Mallya escaped from the country. More recently, another businessman, Nirav Modi, too managed to leave the country just when the noose had begun to tighten around his neck. Opposition parties accused the Government of facilitating their departures, though they conveniently side-stepped the fact that the scams these people had indulged in had taken place right under the nose of the UPA Government. Still, it was a perception problem the BJP regime had to face.
Karti Chidambaram’s arrest gives the Modi regime a chance to demonstrate not just intent but also action on cracking down on the corrupt. If it can build on the present momentum and follow it through to a logical end, there is every possibility that bigger fish will come into the net. There is already talk that P Chidambaram himself could now face the heat — he, at any rate, ought to be questioned on the basis of damning statements that one of the co-accused, Indrani Mukherjea, in the case at hand, has made before a judicial magistrate, which makes the statements admissible evidence in a court of law.
The junior Chidambaram’s arrest (and aggressive follow-up action that ought to happen) should, politically, offset some of the embarrassment that the Union Government faced after a court recently declared all the accused in the 2G Spectrum case, including former Union Minister for Telecommunications and DMK leader A Raja, as innocent. After the verdict was out, the Congress and its apologists had gone to town ridiculing the Modi regime and terming the judgment as a vindication of their position that the entire case was politically driven.
Now that the BJP-led Government has set the ball rolling, after having faced questions on its seeming paralysis in acting against wrongdoers of the previous regime for over three years that it has been power, it needs to move further. There has been enough foot-dragging on cases relating to former Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. This is another issue that the Modi regime has faced flak over. During the 2014 election campaign, various senior BJP leaders had assured the people that the likes of Vadra would be made to face the law. That has not happened until now, despite various probes and voluminous material unearthed in connection with Vadra’s land dealings in various States.
The Government must address the negative perception attached herein. Let us not forget that private individuals such as Subramanian Swamy have relentlessly worked to bring these matters in the legal domain. Whether it was the 2G case, the National Herald issue (in which both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are out on bail) or Karti Chidambaram’s alleged involvement in the case at hand, it was Swamy more than the Government who battled for justice. It is, therefore, now heartening that official agencies have decided to get into real action mode, no doubt backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The political implications are clear. In about a year’s time, the country will vote for a new Government at the Centre. Before that, there is a slew of important State elections. Riding on some level of discontent in rural India, which has been reflected in the results of recent by-elections in the northern belt, the Congress is sensing an opportunity to bounce back. Besides, it is seeking to puncture the Modi Government’s claim on checking corruption by repeatedly raising the escapes of Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya, as mentioned earlier. The BJP has to burnish its image of a fighter against graft. The Government’s image has so far been clean by and large, notwithstanding the Nirav and Mallya episodes. This is primarily because of two reasons: The first is Prime Minister Modi’s stature, and the second is that the people still believe that the Government’s intentions have not been suspect. Now, if action gets added to intent, the BJP has something really credible to offer the people.
In 2014, the BJP won over the voters by convincing them that the Manmohan Singh Government was steeped in corruption. It cannot repeat the charge in 2019 and hope to sell it. People would have expected tangible and considerable action by then. A crackdown on the Chidambaram family’s illegalities (alleged for now) and on those such as Vadra would provide a good talking point for the party in the coming electoral campaigns. There is just one way for the Modi Government to dilute the shrill cries of political vendetta: The probe agencies and the prosecution must conduct themselves commendably to ensure judicial verdicts that vindicate their position.
 Was PC behind the 25-fold procurement of Banking Software in PNBScam? Feb 19, 2018, PGurus.com
 A bad judgment delivered by the 2G Special Court, totally ignoring the findings of the Supreme Court – Dec 22, 2017, PGurus.com