After Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in May 2014, a lot of people have bemoaned the lack of action against the corrupt and no convictions. But the Indian system is slow and Modi cannot singlehandedly change that overnight.
There are some things which Modi is directly doing and other things that people lower down the line are acting upon thanks to the new environment that has been created. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy is also very active and though he may complain of lack of support, the new regime is definitely not hostile to him like the previous one.
A lot of behind the scenes, frenetic activity is going on and bure din (bad days) have already come for the following as serious investigations have already begun against them.
- Sonia Gandhi: A case was filed against the Congress President in the National Herald case and regular hearings (virtually blacked out by the media) have been going on in the last one year plus. Importantly, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also looking into it, so Swamy is not alone. British consultant Christian Michel told AgustaWestland to target Sonia’s closest advisers in the Choppergate scam. Michel had gone missing but has recently been located in Dubai. An important development is that India is currently looking into the procedure to extradite him.
- Dawood Ibrahim: Modi is squeezing the don’s Dubai funds and going after his accomplices there. That way his visit to the UAE was a key development. Chhota Rajan is on Indian soil and ready to co-operate. The Pakistani authorities have finally shifted out Dawood from his plush house in central Karachi to the outskirts. Former top cop Neeraj Kumar is also spilling the beans on him.
- Robert Vadra: Vadra’s dealings encompass Haryana, Rajasthan and New Delhi. All the police forces of these States now come under BJP leadership. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has finally bitten the bullet and promised to send Vadra to jail within six months if found guilty. Importantly, investigations into Vadra’s dealings were made weeks before Khattar made the above statement.
- Rahul Gandhi: Sonia is not the only accused in the National Herald case and her son, Rahul Gandhi, affectionately known as “Pappu,” is named a co-accused. He is also in the eye of the storm for declaring himself a British citizen as revealed by Swamy. If this case goes into a court of law, he may not be able to get away on claims of a mere “typing error”. The ball is in Modi’s court now as he has all the investigating agencies with him now.
- Shahrukh Khan: Not many people know that Rose Valley Chairman Gautam Kundu, who had stakes in King Khan’s IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, was arrested some time back. The ED has also been sending notices to SRK regularly (the earlier ones SRK ignored) and finally brought him in for questioning regarding KKR shares.
- Lalit Modi: Here’s the thing: this former IPL head honcho was never accused of anything by UPA. However, now the ED is seeking Interpol’s help to extradite him and formally press charges. If he finally comes to India it may be Congress leaders who may find themselves squirming.
- Vijay Mallya: ED is looking into a money laundering case against this high flying industrialist and the State Bank of India has declared him a “wilful defaulter”. The endgame is upon Mallya.
- NDTV: There have been many whispers about this on Twitter for ages, but finally the ED has slapped a ₹ 2030 crore FEMA violation case against it. Those complaining that Modi is soft on the mainstream media should watch this with interest.
- P Chidambaram: ED has also sent notices to directors of a firm linked to the former Central Minister’s son Karti Chidambaram’s role in the 2G case. Karti’s name also came in Pappu’s UK companies’ scam and there are rumours of Chidambaram being scrutinized even further.
- Kalanithi Maran: Court appeals have managed to keep this DMK leader out of jail. He is accused of having an illegal telephone exchange in his home (the sheer audacity of it all!) and the CBI is breathing down his neck. The Supreme Court did not give him relief when it came to questioning though.
- Teesta Setalvad: She has been attacking Modi for more than a decade, but this agenda-driven activist finally finds herself at the centre of police investigations. Court appeals have kept her out of jail and her NGO is under scrutiny for financial irregularities. To make matters worse even her lawyer Indira Jaising has been linked with funds from the Ford Foundation.
- Peter Mukerjea: This powerful man (former CEO of Star TV India) with powerful friends (across all parties) has finally been arrested about three months after the Sheena Bora murder case broke out. A lot of people thought that the police would never have the guts to arrest him, but they have been proved wrong.
- Greenpeace: Greenpeace International is a powerful international lobbying group which has done many agitations against various Indian governments and been accused of being anti-development. It now finds its license cancelled though it is getting temporary relief from courts. Even if it comes back, it will find its wings severely clipped.
- Ford Foundation: It’s really under the scanner after it was found that several of its past donations have been dubious in nature. For decades thousands of NGOs operated in India with scant regard to law and financial paperwork. This was a raging problem that led to many problems. However, now, the accountability factor of all NGOs has gone up after Modi took charge of the nation.
- Mamata Banerjee: The Saradha scam has already seen the arrests of dozens of Trinamool leaders and party functionaries. Two MPs and a State Minister are already in the dock and fingers are being pointed at Mamata who has grown awfully quiet of late.
- Virbhadra Singh: The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister is in a soup and has been the target of regular raids in money laundering and disproportionate assets cases. The High Court has just about prevented him from going to jail, but he has to face interrogation nonetheless.
- Ashok Gehlot: After being out of power, this former Rajasthan Chief Minister finds his name in the CBI’s ambulance scam along with former Central Minister and rising star Sachin Pilot. Both the present and future of the Rajasthan Congress under cloud.
- Shashi Tharoor: The Sunanda Pushkar death case was virtually closed under UPA but is now a murder case with this former Central Minister under the scanner.
- Mayawati: The CBI questioned the BSP supremo in the Rs 5,000-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scandal. She may not get away as lightly as she did last time in the Taj corridor and disproportionate assets cases. The other big political figure in the State, Mulayam Singh Yadav is also on the tenterhooks because the CBI can still pursue his disproportionate assets case despite the earlier closure.
- Jayalalithaa: A case from the 1990s finally saw conviction in the Modi Raj. Co-incidence or not you decide. Either way the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister went to jail for a few weeks and had to vacate her chair briefly. And it’s not over yet. While the High Court has given her relief, the Supreme Court Damocles Sword still hangs over her.
Bonus: Some time back the sensational Swiss Leaks happened where a whistle blower alleged that HSBC was helping Indians with black money. And now HSBC has announced that it is shutting down its private banking India operations. You are free to draw your own conclusions.
As it is said, the Indian judicial system takes years and years and the first step is the most important. It is possible that we may see 20 more names in 2016-17 and convictions may start coming in 2018-19, perfect for Modi’s re-election campaign. Bure din has definitely come for the corrupt in India.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist. He has previously worked for organizations like the Hindustan Times, CyberMedia, the Centre for Science & Environment and IT market research firm IDC India.