Meteorologists say this year might see Delhi ’s hottest summer in the last 100 years. Delhi might also see the hottest political season during the past many decades. Corruption is so rampant that even the elite have started to speculate whether the system can survive.
But there is a big snag. Corruption in the Spectrum scam, the Koda mining scam and in various other scams is plain for all to see. But the proof to nail the guilty is never forthcoming.
The CBI is crippled. For example in the Spectrum scam the G2 allocations were made without inviting tenders. This was gross impropriety. Cash rich companies floated wireless subsidiaries that got the license and spectrum and sold them to foreign operators at huge profit. The Mumbai based Realty Major Dynamix Balwas subsidiary of Swan Company was one such subsidiary. Unitech was the other company to float a subsidiary that pocketed the license.
Why did Telecom Minister A. Raja give licenses to these newly floated subsidiaries without inviting tenders? Was political corruption involved?
To nail the guilty the real powers behind the subsidiaries would have to be unmasked. That’s a lengthy process involving tedious interrogations and searches for hidden bank accounts. The CBI can take its time. But now a shortcut to expose political corruption may have been found. That could fatally rock the political boat.
On May 5 The Statesman published an article alleging that the Finance Ministry was protecting Hassan Ali Khan who is being investigated for huge illegally owned Swiss bank accounts because he had links with powerful ruling politicians. On May 6 the Commissioner for Income-Tax and the official spokesperson for the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Mr Shishir Jha, wrote a letter to the newspaper refuting this allegation.
“The Income-Tax department, Mumbai, has also moved necessary application before the Metropolitan Magistrate, Mumbai, after obtaining due approvals from the Ministry of Home Affairs, for issue of Letter Rogatory to enable further conduct of investigations abroad. The order of the MM is awaited. It is, therefore, evident that all possible steps have been taken to pursue the tax investigations against Hassan Ali and his associates.”
Never mind if CBDT swung into action after the media outcry on the Hassan Ali case erupted. Since 2007 the government had ignored the Swiss government’s requests that authentic papers be provided for authorities to take action. The crucial fact is that the Letter Rogatory was being chased. True to the CBDT spokesperson’s word the Income-Tax authorities obtained the Letter Rogatory from the Mumbai Court on May 12.
As the Letter Rogatory gets forwarded to Swiss authorities the Hassan Ali probe will proceed in meaningful fashion. It is very likely that within the next few months the names of those who used the services of Hassan Ali to stash their illegal money abroad would be known. If that happens the exposure would originate abroad, as it did in the Bofors Case. That could result in big political and business heads rolling. That has set the cat among the pigeons.
While one set of ruling politicians under pressure of public opinion is impelled to expose the names involved in the Hassan Ali case, there is another set of politicians who are aware that their heads are on the chopping block. The second set that feels threatened cuts across political parties. For survival these politicians and big businessmen are being forced to pre-empt their exposure. They can do this only by toppling the government and seizing power.
According to the political grapevine they are already on the job. There is hectic activity under the surface. The conspiracy to change the government within the next few months is under way.
It remains to be seen whether a clash between the two groups is ignited to create a major political realignment. In his press conference yesterday the PM said he would not retire. Has anyone asked him to retire? Before winter we should know.