It may be an interesting coincidence. The work of corporate-political nexus is a common factor among all the high profile cases that are being investigated now. By attacking its fundamental structure, Modi government deserves credit for sending all the right signals to the cronies operating the corporate-political nexus.
Take, for example, the ongoing raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation at the residences of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. It wasn't long ago when similar raids happened at the homes of Congress leader P Chidambaram and his son Karti. Then, there is the dramatic chase to recover money (for different reasons) from one of India's most celebrated, politically-connected businessman Vijay Mallya, who flew to London in March last year. This is probably the first time in recent years that these many high profile corruption/ financial irregularity cases have been simultaneously pursued in India.
That's a good sign for both, the nation and its economy, and a significant step to shake off the image of being a nation prone to corruption at high-level.
Corruption is the cancer that negates the gains a country achieves in terms of governance and goodwill. By giving the investigators a free-hand to chase the corrupt, Narendra Modi's government is sending out a strong signal to the political-corporate nexus, which has played a significant role in damaging the economy. The work of this nexus can be felt in most of the ills that the economy is facing now — high bank bad loans, the consequential reluctance of banks to take fresh investment commitments and in the cases of missing government funds intended for public projects.
Currently, in all the current high profile cases that are being investigated, the presence of corporate-political nexus is palpable.
Take the Lalu raids. The case pertains to awarding of contracts to a private company — Sujata Hotels for development for the maintenance and operation of BNR hotels at Ranchi and Puri, when Lalu was the Railways minister. These hotels are Railways' heritage hotels which IRCTC took over from the public transporter earlier in the same year, according to a report in The Indian Express. The CBI has booked former managing director, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) P K Goel, Sujata, wife of Yadav's confidante Prem Chand Gupta, two directors of a private company, the report has said. If the charges are true, Lalu misused his position at the government to build his family fortunes.
In the Chidambaram raids too, if there is truth in the allegations, the corporate-political nexus has worked in full swing. The case was based on the clearances given to INX Media. Karti allegedly facilitated the clearances for kickbacks in 2008 when Chidambaram was a Union minister in the UPA government. But this wasn't the first time sleuths targeteed the Chidambarams. The father-son duo were also facing probe in the Aircel-Maxis case in which Karti allegedly made a killing through a company he owns — Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited. Could this have happened with active use of the union minister's office? Let the investigations speak for itself.
As far as the Mallya episode is concerned, there were allegations that powerful industrialists and politicians influenced to help secure bank loans or to facilitate other ways to build his empire in a mutually-benefitting relationship. These are matters which need to be investigated thoroughly.
One of the angles which is being investigated in the Kingfisher-Mallya case is how Mallya managed to secure loans for his failing airline (Kingfisher never made any profit in its eight-year-long life) from public sector banks, which knew well that the airline is facing grave risks. Often the loans were given on weak securities such as Kingfisher brand and logo. Banks accepted the personal guarantee of Mallya to a huge loan that is now around Rs 9,000 crore, including the accrued interest amount. Could these have been done without political directive to state-run bank offices? The findings of a CNN-News18 report in January raises questions. The report cites correspondence between Vijay Mallya and the UPA top brass to bail out the failing airline.
The unholy nexus between deep-pocketed corporates and bribe-hungry politicians has been the root cause of corruption in the economy. The country has paid a heavy price for this evil. As this report in The Times of India points out, India had the highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia Pacific countries surveyed by Transparency International with around seven in 10 Indians accessing public services had paid a bribe. Unless the evil of corporate-political nexus is dealt with at the highest level, positive change will not reflect in other sections.
In this backdrop, Modi government is sending all the right signals to India's infamous corporate-political lobby. There is a method in the madness.
Updated Date: Sep 24, 2017 12:21 PM