(L-r): External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at Parliament House in New Delhi; Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a function for the launch of a number of government schemes in Patna; and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in Jaipur. (Press Trust of India)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power with a bold election promise of a squeaky clean, scam-free government. The promise matched his personal integrity and body of work in Gujarat that in the first place had earned him the leading position in the Bharatiya Janta Party. But barely fourteen months after a thumping victory at the general elections when the citizenry voted with both their feet this promise appears to have become a remote possibility, Priyanka Bhardwaj.
The credibility of the Bharatiya Janata Party stands at risk as top central and provincial functionaries get implicated in scam after scam.
In the wrong news are Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, and Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Chouhan respectively.
Swaraj and Raje have been charged for assisting the much tainted ex-cricket honcho of the Indian Premier League fame, Lalit Modi obtain a passport in the UK at a time he was under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate for a purported graft case.
And Chouhan’s name has surfaced for his alleged involvement in a cover-up of the multi-billion-cash-for-jobs scam in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board.
So mysterious have been the deaths of 36 people, key accused and witnesses, in this case that the country’s apex court has ordered a federal investigation into it.
A few months back a furor surrounding the declared educational qualifications of Education Minister Smriti Irani had prompted the court to intervene.
It is not that Indians are new to corruption.
So widespread is this bane that a 2015 survey by industry chamber FICCI ranked corruption, bribery and corporate frauds as the top most risks faced by the country’s economic system, and which impact policy making and inflation rates.
This time the controversies have provided ample ammunition to a united opposition to place a demand for resignations of the top three BJP leaders.
The Congress is determined to shake the scandal-jittery BJP that till now had flaunted its PM’s rants at every forum, “My government has ushered in good governance and zero corruption.”
Crucial bills concerning long awaited reform legislations related to land, national sales tax, are awaiting passage in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
As deadlock continues with repeated adjournments in both Houses due to noisy disruptions and the question of bills has become uncertain.
In baffling contrast to what is expected of a “principled” government the ruling party has passed strict instructions to its party persons to retaliate against an “irresponsible opposition that is unfairly besmirching our leaders on unsubstantiated allegations.”
It has trained its guns on Congress leaders for any alleged wrongdoings.
Sources say that on the second business day of the House, Prime Minister Modi pitched for a parliamentary debate while also urging other Members to read (“Dhyan se padhiye”) two booklets — ‘Vyapam: Myths’ and ‘Reality and Saga of Scams in Congress-ruled States,’ and another one on various corruption scandals related to Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states and an observation on the law and order situation in Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal.
Furthermore, Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, was issued privileges notices for expressing his opinion on the functioning of Parliament in his Facebook post.
Swaraj, herself, took to Twitter to explain that she helped Lalit Modi only on humanitarian grounds and threatened to expose a senior Congress leader on the floor of the House for trying to influence her to give a diplomatic passport to coal scam accused former minister, Santosh Bagrodia, who has a special CBI court breathing down his neck.
Coming to her rescue, senior BJP leader and Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, shifted the blame on the Congress for replacing a lesser stringent Foreign Exchange Management Act that enabled Lalit Modi to escape.
However, from within the BJP there has also been some plain-speak.
Veteran BJP leader and lawmaker Shanta Kumar has called for instituting an ethics committee to look into some of the controversies embroiling the leaders.
A former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, he posted a letter of protest to party president, Amit Shah, on his Facebook wall, “News about the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh has made us hang our heads in shame. It’s natural for any Indian to feel disappointed and disheartened with the kind of news on the front pages of newspapers and TV channels.”
Though some analysts feel that these scandals are not too strong yet to impact the mindset of the public, it is of pertinence to the ruling party that investors from the world over are watching Indian legislators, their delivery on all parameters.
It was because of Modi that good governance had become the talking point of all conversations in the country.
Now as the buck stops at the Prime Minister’s desk, it falls upon his shoulders to safeguard it from brazen maneuvering or double-dealings.