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Act of impropriety

Act of impropriety
Highlights

The stink of corruption and official impropriety is back on the political centre-stage, and not because the government is lambasting its predecessor. It is its own doing. The initial defence, howsoever strong, even if polemical, is not convincing. Unless Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself speaks, he may be opening the proverbial Pandora’s Box of scams and scandals that had bedevilled UPA-II and worked to NDA’s advantage last year.

The stink of corruption and official impropriety is back on the political centre-stage, and not because the government is lambasting its predecessor. It is its own doing. The initial defence, howsoever strong, even if polemical, is not convincing. Unless Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself speaks, he may be opening the proverbial Pandora’s Box of scams and scandals that had bedevilled UPA-II and worked to NDA’s advantage last year.


Your honeymoon, Mr Modi, is over. The opposition has a strong issue on hand. There is a sense of déjà vu. The government that tried to censure President Pranab Mukherjee by seeking deletion of his observations on Bofors controversy, made to a Swedish newspaper, must now explain its dealings with the British and the Portuguese governments regarding alleged favour shown to controversial cricket administrator Lalit Modi.


The expose comes from a British newspaper – no marks to the Indian media that is left recycling, the way it had done on the Bofors deal. In the eye of the storm is External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Her conduct reminds us of her blessing Karnataka’s Reddy Brothers. She is too seasoned and experienced to commit a faux pas in writing to the British government to facilitate Lalit’s travel papers to enable him to visit his ailing wife in Portugal.


The lady has been cancer-struck for 17 years and why Lalit, who has been living in London, among the best places for cancer treatment, sent her to Portugal remains unexplained. Whether he is personally required to be present is disputed. But Swaraj has cited “humanitarian grounds” to defend her action. Waiting to get his papers from a ‘friendly’ government, Lalit is the gainer.

Herself being a trained lawyer and with lawyer-husband Kaushal to help, Swaraj rightly attracts the conflict of interest (COI) charge. Her lawyer-daughter is part of Lalit’s defence team. The COI issue remains unregulated in the legal arena as an escape route meant to help the legal fraternity that exercises overweening influence on each government. It needs to be defined and regulated.


The NDA leaders, who targeted Kapil Sibals and Chidambarams of the UPA, should do that, now that they are in power. rinciples cannot be different and so does the issue of morality practised, more in violation, by the lawyer-politician class. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) may be well within its rights to pursue Lalit who is wanted for alleged foreign exchange violations. But if the trail leads to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, it lends credence to speculation that part of the government wants to ensure Sushma in trouble.


The Sangh, despite its eagerness to fight ‘Italian’ Sonia Gandhi, has never really fancied the BJP’s most prominent female face, Bindi and all. Lalit, the man behind the storm, says it is his turn to hit back. He is actually fighting powerful cricket interests who are ensconced in both NDA and UPA. They want Lalit out, but silenced. That doesn’t seem possible. In taking sides, Swaraj and her government may burn their hands.

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