alaniappa Chidambaram is cooling his heels in Tihar Jail. The high-profile Union minister for many years and Congress politician for most part, Chidambaram’s present fate is a warning to all those who indulge in corruption. An argument that this is a quid pro quo from home minister Amit Shah to the jailing he underwent while Chidambaram was Union home minister is not lost sight of. Chidambaram’s jailing followed CBI and ED investigations into the INX Media case. While all these might be seen by political rivals as an act of vendetta, there is more to it.
Chidambaram, now 73, hailed from a wealthy family in Tamil Nadu but all the wealth that his family possesses today is not inherited wealth. His own capacity to make big bucks as a professional lawyer and of his wife in a similar capacity are not lost sight of. Still, questions would arise as to how Chidambaram, his son Karti and wife Nalini all are facing serious corruption charges today. Karti got involved in several cases while Nalini was famously linked to the Calcutta-based Saradha chit fund scam of epic proportions. To argue that she only tendered legal advice is to ignore the other aspects of the case.
In Madhya Pradesh, chief minister Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri is facing ED interrogation in relation to the AgustaWestland helicopter scam of the UPA II period. Kamal Nath as a politician built a huge business empire for the family in central India. A “percentage man” slur against him persists. Over and above this, and links related to the helicopter scam, he is likely being framed in the Delhi riots cases. His detractors and political opponents feel the goose is being cooked against him in Delhi. Another power centre in the Madhya Pradesh Congress, Jyotiraditya Scindia is upping the ante and raising demands for a larger role for him in the state party. His target is the CM post, sooner or later. Though he could, for now, be content with the PCC chief post that Nath retains alongside the CM post.
All these apart, the Congress party faced more embarrassment this past week when senior party functionary and former Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar was held by the ED for interrogation in a money laundering case. By contrast, BJP chief minister BS Yediyurappa himself did not have a clean image, but this did not deter the Saffron leadership from putting him in the saddle after the Congress-JDS government fell there. BJP’s own huge funds spend in election after election would lead one to assume that it has access to, and is making liberal use of, slush money. But all that would be another interesting story once the present dispensation goes out of power. Hilariously, this party or that, it is always and inevitably the people or the tax payers of India who are getting the rough deals continually.
There will be all-round cheer if corrupt politicians and bureaucrats across the board are brought to book. The first five-year-term of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government did not make any serious attempt at checking corruption or booking the corrupt. On the other hand, scams like Rafale erupted. Even today, it would appear that only Congress politicians are targeted. Here and there, some senior officials have been laid off too or suspended from the taxation and similar departments. Put together, these do not amount to meeting a fraction of the requirement, namely to rein in corruption. Theatrics by itself will not help. Solid action is called for.