It is a question of academic interest. What would make Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh resign from office? We know that mammoth corruption cases simultaneously rocked his government – 2G scam, Commonwealth Games (CWG) scam, Adarsh Housing scam, Hasan Ali money laundering scam, and several other scams. The PM did not consider himself to be responsible for heading India ’s most corrupt government ever. Telecom Minister A Raja resigned and was jailed. CWG head Suresh Kalmadi was jailed. Officials were jailed. But the PM did not resign.
Then there occurred the controversial Antrix-Devas deal under the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) which is directly overseen by the PM. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) ordered a "preliminary enquiry" into the financial transactions that took place in connection with the Antrix-Devas deal to discover if any foreign exchange or anti-money laundering laws in the deal were violated. No irregularity has been found yet. Therefore no case could be registered. But four top scientists were sacked and debarred from future employment. ISRO is directly under the PM. The PM did not even remotely contemplate resignation.
The PM approved the Railway Budget. He endorsed policies of former Railway Minister Mr. Dinesh Trivedi. He approved the hike in rail fares. But Miss Mamata Banerjee objected. She demanded a reversal of policy, the sacking of the minister and a rollback of price hikes. Miss Banerjee is a Chief Minister. Dr. Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister. Nevertheless Mr. Trivedi had to resign and the rail fare hikes were rolled back. The PM did not resign.
Now the Controller Auditor-General (CAG) has prepared a report that uncovers corruption potentially five times bigger than in India’s biggest scam, the 2G Spectrum scam. The Coal portfolio is under the direct charge of the PM himself with a Minister of State assisting him. The PM’s office first tried to falsely claim that it was an old report which stated nothing new. Whether old or new, did not the questions raised by the report merit answers? In any event the government’s brazen attempt to lie that it was an old report got thoroughly exposed. There was a reference in the report to a very recent Supreme Court observation regarding the 2G Spectrum scam. So much for the government’s lies!
The report merits high level investigation. Can any such investigation be conducted while the main suspect responsible for allowing the scam to occur continues to occupy India’s highest political office? Regardless, the PM shows neither embarrassment nor the slightest inclination to assume responsibility and resign. Instead he is lobbying with opposition leaders to ensure that his government’s support in parliament is not dented. Most likely he will succeed. Several key opposition leaders face CBI cases of disproportionate assets and are vulnerable to political blackmail.
So, the question arises. In India’s democracy what would impel a PM to resign? Perhaps if a photograph were obtained showing the PM, not merely allowing corruption to occur, but actually receiving a bribe himself, then it might, just might persuade the PM to assume responsibility and offer to resign. But even that may not work! The law can always be changed with retrospective effect.