I had written on IndiaFacts earlier on how a lot of behind the scenes, frenetic activity is going on after Prime Minister Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014: And You Thought Modi Was Doing Nothing!
In that I had given a list of 20 personalities who were facing the heat in the new climate created by the Modi regime. If you go through the list, then you will realize that things have only got worse for most of them.
First on the list was Congress President Sonia Gandhi. The National Herald case is in an advanced stage and Sonia has knocked the doors of both the High Court and the Supreme Court and has had to face the sessions’ court like a common accused. While a lot of delaying tactics are going on, it is clear that this case will go to both the HC and SC, irrespective of the verdict. If BJP leader Subramanian Swamy can get a conviction in any one of the three courts, Sonia’s invincibility will be punctured forever.
Swamy is now in the Rajya Sabha and already has Congress MPs scratching their heads in dismay on how to handle him.
While the National Herald case is going on, the AugustaWestland blow was delivered to Sonia. An Italian court gave a verdict and actually named Sonia, her aide Ahmed Patel, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Oscar Fernandez. British consultant Christian Michel has further muddied the pitch by reports that he paid a whopping six million Euros to handle the media! It is just a matter of time before the names of all the journalists come out and we have a new Michelgate scandal to hit the Indian media.
The Enforcement Directorate is also marching ahead in the Choppergate case and that spells really bad news for Sonia and all those whose names have come up in the scam. How many days before a charge sheet will be filed? What all names will come in it? That itself will create a new storm.
The second name on the list was the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. A lot of rumours about him are being floated and none of them are good. For donkeys years Dawood had a home in Karachi and office in Dubai. Now he seems to have lost both. The grapevine has it that he is being shifted from location to location and has ended up with gangrene in Afghanistan and maybe even dead! Whatever be the truth of those rumours, Dawood’s wings have already been clipped.
Industrialist Vijay Mallya has had to flee India and is in danger of having his Rajya Sabha berth taken away from him. His passport has been cancelled and extradition proceedings have been initiated. For the first time it appears that some of his dues may be recovered. Even as the Mallya case is going on, the Reserve Bank of India has released its list of Top 10 corporate defaulters and the Kingfisher is just ninth on the list! The focus is now on the other defaulters.
Former Home Minister P Chidambaram’s name has already come up in the Ishrat Jahan revelations, where it has been confirmed that a massive cover-up took place. As this enquiry pans out, PC, Sonia, Ahmed Patel, and former Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde will all be under the scanner.
Then many new names have been added to the above list. While there was a lot of buzz around the doings of Sonia’s daughter Priyanka Vadra, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh has finally sent her a notice over a house she is constructing in Shimla.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also finds the cases piling up against him. There were a couple of Election Commission cases and also his midnight dharna. People have been approaching the courts over many alleged scams in his government. But the most high profile is the defamation suit filed by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and you can see Kejriwal is really squirming. Half a dozen AAP MLAs are out on bail over something or the other and there are dozens of cases against the party.
A photo was circulated in social media of a forlorn and defeated former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who is going through a tough time after his arrest. Another former Dy CM in the form of Ajit Pawar is also under the scanner.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is in the soup over the solar scam while investigations are also on against the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, the unofficial opposition leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader Veerappa Moily, former Haryana CM Bhoopinder Singh Hooda and former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan.
Even as I write this, a Special CBI court has filed criminal conspiracy charges against former Congress MP Naveen Jindal, former Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda in the Coalgate scam.
The Modi government has made the first step and that’s a good thing, though many things still are left to be desired. For one, the Central Bureau of Investigation has been under Modi for almost two years, but it still does not look strong enough in the eyes of common people. Modi should give a free hand to the CBI and we desperately need strong cases for convictions. Despite scams and scandals coming to light, very few people have gone to jail in the past. Unless concrete action is taken, scams like AugustaWestland may drift the way Bofors did.
The Enforcement Directorate has also become very active in the last few months. So a natural question to be asked is: Why was it so lethargic from 2014 to 2015? Finance Minister Jaitley has some explaining to do. The CBI-ED will now have to work overtime to catch up on all these cases and ensure convictions.
While the final verdict will be given in courts, the investigative agencies under Modi will have to make strong cases and make them fast. Lack of progress in acting on allegations on the perceived soft targets like Robert Vadra and Karti Chidambaram are hurting the government and the party badly.
Interestingly a lot of action has been initiated by Swamy who wasn’t even in the BJP when he did most of the work. Swamy and Arun Shourie have been prominent omissions in the Modi Cabinet.
The Modi government is doing really well in areas like foreign affairs, Railway reforms, road building, and power upgradation. But, its performance is not up to the mark in areas like economic and legal reforms, media management, and rural development. Defence upgradation and education reform is a mixed bag as of now and it is still “under construction” and it remains to be seen how these two areas pan out.
But as it is reaching the half-way mark of its term, there is still great opportunity to rectify all the shortcomings and secure another mandate in 2019.
Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
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.