The opposition with characteristic stupidity has jumped into the fray and demanded the Prime Minister’s resignation after the CBI filed a charge-sheet of criminal conspiracy and extending undue favours under the Prevention of Corruption Act. against Mr. Kumaramangalam Birla and Mr. PC Parakh, former Coal Secretary, for corruption in the allocation of coal blocks.
One hopes the media will be more sensible.
Mr. Parakh rubbished the charge of conspiracy to abet corruption. He said that if there was such a conspiracy then the PM was as much involved as he was. This remark was seized by the opposition to go to town with their resignation demand of the PM.
Without going into the details of the charge-sheet the case appears to be thin. CBI Director Mr. Ranjit Sinha justified the agency’s action. He said: “Nobody should doubt our intention or credibility or timing… The coal scam investigation is a Supreme Court-monitored probe and we are not answerable to anybody except the apex court in this matter.” However it is precisely the timing and the bold action that are questionable.
Even if the allegations are true the crime is miniscule compared to mega corruption cases that continue to languish without suitable action by the CBI. Mr. Sinha further raised suspicion of motivated timing by stating:
“The probe is in its initial stages. The accused persons named in it — Mr. Birla and Mr. Parakh — may turn out to be innocent at the end of the probe. We promise them a fair and thorough investigation.”
Dear me, when there are yet lingering doubts about guilt the CBI charge-sheets such a high profile individual?
If the timing is motivated what could be the reason for the CBI’s uncharacteristic action?
In the eyes of the government Mr. Birla’s guilt may in fact lie far away from the allocation of coal blocks. Not too long ago Mr. Birla bought ownership of a major media firm strong in both electronic and print media outlets. Unfortunately for the government the TV channel owned by the firm has been unusually critical about several of the government’s pet policies such as the Food Security Bill, the economy and other issues. Analysts cannot help but wonder if the charge-sheet filed against Mr. Birla is a dire warning for him to better behave.
If this suspicion is correct the lesson for industrialists should be clear. If they want to own media outlets they should either give up other businesses or be prepared to totally toe the government’s line. If they do own media outlets they must not allow journalists operating them to work independently and professionally but always breathe down their necks to make them toe the government line. Media persons too should take note of this charge-sheet and draw the right conclusions before rushing judgment as some opposition politicians have done.