The year of Scams

A very informative article....

The year 2010 has been an unusual year of scams and corruption. Despite having a clean Prime Minsiter, the nation was rocked, looted and plundered. From Raja to Kalmadi and Yeddyurappa to Ashok Chavan, the nation witnessed a saga of `official robbery' making the common man feel that every one is a thief.


The 47-year-old politician of the DMK, who represents the cool and lush-green hill town of Niligiris in Tamil Nadu in the Lok Sabha, has had a torrid year and could be crowned the Raja of Corruption of 2010.

He is accused of causing a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer in the allocation of 2G Spectrum, thumbing his nose at a helpless Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ticking off the Law Ministry and asking Cabinet colleagues to keep off the Spectrum turf.

The UPA government had been protective about Raja for over 400 days considering the delicate equation that the Congress has with an unpredictable and pushy K Karunanidhi, the patriarch of DMK. The CBI, India's premier investigative agency, kept silent even as piles of incriminating documents poured out to public domain.

It needed a hard knock by the Supreme Court for the CBI to wake up and act. By then, almost 400 days had lapsed since the scam hit the headlines. That was enough and more time for Raja to tweak, alter, fudge or destroy evidence. Little wonder that the CBI did not find incriminating documents after the high profile raid of December 8, 2010.

But the question still remains: where has all the money gone? Raja may not have actually caused a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. That was notional. But there is incriminating evidence to suggest that he made money - a huge pile of it. His wife and relatives had massive stakes in telecom companies.

The Congress-led UPA government has been opposing the constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to look into the scam. Opposition members have stonewalled proceedings in both Houses for 19 days.

But why a JPC? The JPC will comprise Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum. Now with the Supreme Court calling for details of telecom licensing dating back to 2002 and probably beyond, the whole issue has taken a new turn. With almost all parties finding that their members have had some role or the other in the telecom pie, can the JPC be effective?

The best is to leave the probe to the CBI under the supervision of the Supreme Court. The CBI by itself is not trustworthy; hence the need for a supervisory role for the Supreme Court.

SURESH KALMADI (Now known as CWG. S (S for Scam) KALMADI)

The 66-year-old Congress politician from Maharashtra's culturally rich city of Pune has had a chequered career in more than one way. He was an Indian Air Force officer and found that he could touch dizzier heights from the ground. He `flew' out of the IAF to open a fast food joint in Pune. It was here that the mercurial Sanjay Gandhi spotted him and roped him into politics. From a hanger-on, Kalmadi graduated to becoming the head of a `sports mafia' where he played poker with cronies, contractors and the corrupt.

His `crowning' moment came when he pitched for the Commonwealth Games. Some say that Kalmadi pitched for the Games because he saw the word `wealth' in between. And this is what he reportedly did; forgot the Games and made wealth. He caused a huge embarrassment of India and is alleged to have milked the exchequer to the tune of Rs 8000 crore.

Kalmadi caused a loss of Rs 5,000-8,000 crore through fraudulent means by alleged financial and administrative irregularities. And look how: In 2003, the Indian Olympic Association had pegged the costs of the games at Rs 16.2 billion. In 2010, it went up to Rs 115 billion. When other expenditures are added, the bill goes up to a whopping Rs 300 billion, making the 2010 Commonwealth Games by far the most expensive gaming event ever. All tax payers' money that went to corrupt contractors, relatives, cronies and, probably, politicians. And yet, he is an honourable man for the CBI.

And look at the irony - Kalmadi's misdeeds are being probed by the Central Vigilance Commission whose head, P J Thomas, is himself embroiled in a controversy.

Kalmadi is lucky in one way. He would have been on the centrestage of corruption, but Raja outwitted him. So the sports chief is planning his next move: hosting the Olympics!

Like in Raja's case, nobody knows where Kalmadi has hidden all the wealth. By the time the CBI knocks at his doors, all the money, papers and public memory would have vanished.

(BSY for short, though some add a U in between -- BUSY -- making money)

The 67-year-old war horse of the BJP led the saffron party to power for the first time below the Vindhyas. A religious person, Yeddyurappa got his name after the presiding deity of a Shaivite temple built by the saint Siddalingeshwara at Yediyur in Tumkur district of Karnataka. He worked as a clerk at a rice mill and later set up a hardware shop in Shimoga. He rose the hard way to become the Chief Minister of Karnataka in May 2008.

Promising a different government, Yeddyurappa lived up to his words -- his government worked only for his sons, relatives and friends. A highly superstitious and arrogant person, BSY has very few friends; that's probably why he ran out of names after favouring his sons and a son-in-law.

What did BSY do? Simple: he denotified prime land in and around Bangalore in favour of his sons B Y Raghavendra, an MP, and B Y Vijayendra and daughter Umadevi.

BSY is the only CM of India who has the ability to cry in public - just as his rival and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda can sleep on a public platform. To be fair, BSY followed the Gowda doctrine in favouring sons and daughters.

In Karnataka, nobody know who is a bigger thief as the Janata Dal (Secular - some say Sons) releases one set of documents that show large tracts of land in BSY's kitty and a day later, the CM releases a different set showing how Deve Gowda and Co, oops Sons, virtually have a kingdom in their possession.

Unlike other scams, in Karnataka there are multiple probes into BSY's land scams - one by the Lokayukta (Ombudsman) and the other by Justice Padmaraj. The CM wants a probe into all the land deals dating back to the Gowda era (in which case all the former CMs will be in a land soup), the JD(S) wants just a probe into BSY's controversial denotifications in favour of his sons.

Hush-hush: Even journalists (like the Niira Radia tape) are reportedly involved in the land scam and the CM has dusted that old file to bring the names out in the open if needed.


The height of corruption in the case of the Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society is represented by the flats piled one above the other in Mumbai's Cuffe Parade, one of Asia's most expensive patches of real estate. It was supposed to be a building for widows of the Kargil war heroes, but the real occupants were ex-chief of the Army, senior officers of the defence forces and relatives of politicians and senior bureaucrats.

And unlike Raja or Kalmadi, many are involved in this murky deal that has been cooking for a long long time - from former chief minister Ashok Chavan to former Army chief Deepak Kapoor, defence officials, bureaucrats, politicians, their relatives and, hold your breath, a driver employed in a Nagpur-based infrastructure company, whose Managing Director is a Special Invitee to the BJP's National Executive Committee!

In the case of the Adarsh scam, almost all the former CMs of Maharashtra were involved, but Ashok Chavan was the most visible face. Fifteen minutes after US President Barack Obama left India after his first visit, the Congress booted out Chavan. With senior Congressmen, top defence officials and powerful bureaucrats involved, the Adarsh probe is going on in a sluggish pace.

The Army Chief General V K Singh, in an interview on CNN-IBN, had said: "I am extremely saddened and I think, as an institution, we have taken a beating. In a 1.3 million Army, this would be a very miniscule percentage but any incident which affects the hierarchy in the Army, it is a sad thing because it also tries to break a bonding that we have with our men. It is painful to say the least."

"I think so because nobody knows what the truth is but when it is played out this way obviously people will start saying there is something wrong. Here is a man whom we trusted, here is a person on whose order we were ready to go to battle... I think it will hurt deeply," he added.

The 31-storey building, the symbol of corruption and nepotism, now stands as a sore thumb. The water supply has been cut, power has been snapped and the structure may be demolished.

The Maharashtra government under another Chavan -- Prithviraj - has ordered a judicial probe. The defence ministry has also launched a probe.

But with so many senior officials and politicians involved, the Adarsh probe is likely to only name the guilty, but the money that changed hands may never be recorded.

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