|Yeddy, steady, go|
|Monday, 24 January 2011 00:00|
Though the scams are hugely disparate in size, there is a stunning similarity between the 2G one and the BS Yeddyurappa one. The 2G one is reckoned to be Rs 1,76,000 crore if you go by the recommendations of Trai last year, and around Rs 60,000-70,000 crore if you go by the value two of the favoured firms got when they diluted their equity within months of getting the licences from A Raja. Yeddyurappa’s allocation of land to his relatives would, at best, add up to a few hundreds of crores of rupees, pocket change in comparison. But what is ironical is how both the BJP and the Congress are using much the same excuses to defend themselves.
Yeddyurappa says he didn’t do any wrong since he allotted the land from the discretionary quota a chief minister has, something his predecessors had done as well. Kapil Sibal, A Raja’s successor, has much the same argument as Yeddyurappa—Raja’s predecessors had allotted licences in much the same way as Raja, at the 2001 prices instead of auctioning them, so where’s the problem? You could argue that there wasn’t any rush to get licences at the time Arun Shourie and Dayanidhi Maran handed out the licences at the 2001 price, but there’s little doubt Sibal is right that they too violated the law—after all, in 2003 itself, the Cabinet had agreed to the regulator’s recommendations that all future licences would be auctioned. The BJP is taking umbrage at the governor HR Bharadwaj’s decision to sanction Yeddyurappa’s prosecution based on a complaint by a group of lawyers, and is arguing that there is an investigation going on into all land allotments since 1994 anyway, and the Lokayukta is also examining the issue—so what was the hurry in sanctioning prosecution? That’s precisely Sibal’s argument—the matter is being investigated by the CBI which is being monitored by the Supreme Court, there’s a one-man investigation into all telecom decisions since 2000 (why not 1994?!), and there’s the PAC as well. So why disrupt Parliament? The BJP hasn’t formally said the Lokayukta can’t examine ‘policy decisions’ in the manner the UPA has told the CAG and even the Supreme Court (the Court rejected the argument when the matter came up in the STel case), but it’s early days yet.
HR Bharadwaj is certainly guilty of playing politics, but in doing so, he’s brought out the similarities in the hypocrisy of both parties in dealing with their scams. He has to be thanked for that.