AgustaWestland scam: Are our politicians interested in going to the bottom of this scandal?

Why would the BJP decline the demand for a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the AgustaWestland issue? Its position that the CBI probe into the matter is in an advanced stage and thus it’s not the right time to disturb it, does not wash. It’s for the simple reason that the conclusions of the CBI probe would be open to question – once a caged parrot the agency is still not perceived to be a free bird yet. A Supreme Court-monitored probe would bring credibility to the investigation. But that does not serve a political purpose, does it? Perhaps the party needs the noise more than the truth.

Now that all that had to be said about the AgustaWestland deal has been said, let’s cut the noise out and focus on the core question: Who received the money? Amid several points of divergence over the controversial chopper deal, there was one critical point of convergence in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Both the Congress and the BJP agreed there was corruption in the deal and money had changed hands. If there are bribe-givers, there have to be bribe-takers too.

“It is proven beyond doubt that there is corruption. There is the Italy judgment....You have to act. Prosecute us if you have evidence... Take strong action but don’t threaten, don’t blackmail,” said former defence minister AK Antony. Ahmed Patel, allegedly the mysterious AP in the documents submitted by the Italian court, also said there was corruption and required a thorough probe. He said he would quit public life if there was an iota of truth in the charges against him. "The country wants to know who instigated, supported and benefited from corruption...We can't let this pass," said the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Almost all the speakers from non-BJP, non-Congress parties too accepted there has been corruption in the deal and it needs to be probed.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

So why not build on the point of convergence? Rest assured our leaders won’t. Going by the way we have been treating big ticket corruption cases, chances are this case will end nowhere. Finally there won’t be any culprits; only victims of negative perception created by the witch-hunting, agenda-driven media. There’s reason to believe that the political class is taking the country for a ride with such an approach.

It is not difficult to see through the BJP’s tactic. It would like to keep the heat going on the Congress so that they never finds themselves in a situation of comfort to strike back. But the real question is how does the Congress go about it now? Right now, it is clearly under a cloud of suspicion. Its claims of innocence and all evidence to support won’t make it win the game of perception. It can only hope that the bad news keeps circulating among the same set of news consumers and commentators and does not go out to the masses in general, the way Bofors did. Moreover, the elections are still far away; there’s still time to recover.

The solution could be to hit the streets demanding a probe against itself, or rather all the big players of the party mentioned in the Italian court’s order. The party’s ‘save democracy march’ on 6 May is likely to highlight the fact that it is being targeted by the BJP on the AgustaWestland issue besides focusing on the toppling of its governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It would not surprise observers if the party plays the victim and becomes vociferous on a probe into the chopper affair. Such a move would leave the ball in the BJP’s court.

Political games aside, the country needs to know whether our politicians are really serious about getting to the bottom of this scandal, or any scandal for that matter.


Published Date: May 05, 2016 03:04 pm | Updated Date: May 05, 2016 03:04 pm


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