Prime Minister Narendra Modi has different yardsticks while dealing with corruption charges against BJP leaders and those in opposition who are targeted and humiliated by investigation agencies, says former Union minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal.
“Our judiciary too is under attack. But the most worrisome aspect of this government’s disdain for democracy is the way it has ensured that central investigating agencies and enforcement agencies do the government’s bidding. By selecting pliable officers and granting them unprecedented extensions, they have used these agencies to besmirch reputations,” says Sibal in his book, “Shades of Truth — A Journey Derailed”.
“Opposition leaders are targeted and humiliated by having the agencies summon them. Chargesheets are not filed for years and investigations are kept pending only to tarnish images. When chargesheets are filed, they don’t result in any conviction,” he says.
Referring to the 2G scam case that came apart with all the accused acquitted and the Maran brothers required to face trial despite being acquitted of the charge by a CBI court of setting up a private exchange using the BSNL network, Sibal says investigations are put on pause, opened and re-opened depending on political designs and opportunistic alliances.
“No investigations are carried when diaries are seized containing names of those at the helm of affairs in the BJP, who are alleged to be recipients of monies not accounted for. The excuse is that diary entries are not evidence. True, but evidence can be collected to be corroborated by diary entries. That is inconvenient for those wielding power,” he says.
Sibal, a well-known lawyer, says that on this ground incriminating material found in the Birla and Sahara diaries are just not investigated because the agencies are caged, captive and capitulated to dictates of their masters.
This, he says, also explains the protection of named persons in the Vyapam scam in which those arrested are mostly parents and students with politicians let off the hook. The U-turns by both the CBI and NIA (in the 2008 Malegaon blast case) speak of volumes.
Listing the cases in which the BJP allegedly turned a blind eye, Sibal recalls the promise of Modi in the run up to the last Lok Sabha elections that he would deliver a scam-free India to the people.
“Even now Modi backs this eloquently; he repeatedly reminds India of how UPA was scam-tainted. However, Modi turns a blind eye to the endemic corruption symbolized by the Vyapam scam and the serious allegations made against Chief Ministers of states where the BJP is in power,” he says..
“Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje was alleged to have provided patronage to Lalit Modi; Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s name figured in the Vyapam as well as dental and medical admission test scams and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh was alleged to be part of the PDS scam,” he says in the 247-page book brought out by Rupa Publications.
Similarly, Sibal says scams involving the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Ltd, Adani’s over-invoicing of coal and electricity generation equipment, Vijay Mallya and most recently Union Minister Giriraj Singh alleged land grabbing case in Patna had all been kept under the lid.
“The Birla-Sahara bribery papers would have created a national furore in any other dispensation. Surprisingly, the Supreme Court buried the controversy. It held that such entries have no evidential value. However, an investigation could have unearthed the truth behind such entries. But we have no genuine attempts at investigating the matter,” he says.
Sibal also attacks the demonetisation decision of November 8, 2016, which was, according to him was an ill-thought decision merely to shock and awe instead of being a genuine effort for transformational change.