|Who’s to blame now?|
|Friday, 04 March 2011 00:00|
There’s this story of a king who gives a thief a choice of 50 lashes or eating 50 onions. The thief chooses the onions as the less painful option, eats five, feels sick and opts for the lashes instead, gets five lashes and thinks the onions may be less painful … eventually he ends up eating 50 onions and getting 50 lashes. This, in a nutshell, is the story of how the government botched up its handling of the A Raja scam. It arrested Raja but got a bad name since it kept defending him; it looked guilty by opposing a JPC but finally agreed to one; it not just failed to get CVC PJ Thomas to resign, it even defended him. By saying his processing of the file telling the CAG it had no locus standi to examine the Raja scam was merely “processing of a file in a normal routine manner”, the government opened itself to the charge it was covering up the Raja scam. It looked even more ridiculous when the Attorney General told the Supreme Court the selection committee (which had the PM, the home minister and the leader of the Opposition) that cleared Thomas for CVC didn’t know of the palmolein case against him and Sushma Swaraj threatened to file an affidavit on the matter saying she had brought up the case in the meeting. The ironic part is that while the Congress party was quick to blame Raja for keeping it in the dark while he perpetuated his scam, it has no such defence in the CVC’s appointment since the Department of Personnel and Training, which is in charge of the paperwork for the appointment, was under the Prime Minister.
The CVC case also casts a huge shadow over the entire recruitment process since the docket given to the committee had just 3 CVs with nothing in them on how each candidate had done in his previous assignments, leading you to conclude such selection committees are really a sham—Thomas’s CV, for instance, was not just quiet on the palmolein case, it never spoke of his role as the telecom secretary. The fact that the judiciary has been allowed to come in and examine executive appointments only because of the government’s brazen behaviour in the Thomas case has to be a matter of serious concern.
For Thomas, the future looks cloudy as, apart from the palmolein case, the CBI is now sure to question him on his role as telecom secretary—why did he process the original paperwork to keep the CAG from investigating the scam and why didn’t he impose penalties and recommend cancelling of those licences that did not roll out their networks as per the licence? Now that the JPC has been constituted and Thomas is out of the way, hopefully the government won’t commit more hara-kiri.