I had read somewhere that every afternoon about 7 members of the Congress media department meet to discuss the day’s issues and plan a media response. That would normally be a healthy practice in any political party. On February 1 the same group would have had an extended meeting discussing their response to the much-awaited SC verdict on 2G that was slated for February 2. What if P.Chidambaram was indicted? What if an SIT was set up to monitor investigations into the scam? And maybe a few more questions. But not in their worst nightmare would they have expected that the SC would quash the 122 licenses issued by the govt. Now that was something they hadn’t planned for probably. So once the verdict came out at around 10.30am the Congress spinners went into a huddle and not until 3pm did they come out with a response. That’s Okay! It takes time to come out with the worst spin; especially when most of them claimed they hadn’t read the full judgement.
So it was left to Zero specialist Kapil Sibal to break the good news to the media. And true to his established tradition of stupid utterances Sibal stated the SC endorsed the govt policies, blamed the previous NDA govt, led by BJP, for the whole mess. Why? It’s because the UPA followed the same ‘first come, first serve’ (FCFS) policy established by the BJP. So according to Sibal, the indictment of his govt was basically an indictment of the NDA which should apologise to the nation. Oh well! Let’s just say the BJP invented the Hammer and the UPA used that Hammer to commit murder so the BJP is culpable. True, the SC had faulted the FCFS policy but the clever spin by Sibal takes away from the real issue: That the cause for the reported 1.76 lakh crores was because 2001 prices were used for issuing licenses in 2008. The UPA had not just abused the FCFS policy but also used the wrong pricing. But that is all that the faithful poodles in the media needed to brighten their day, a spin from Sibal.
The second aspect of Sibal’s nonsense is that only A. Raja was responsible for the 2G scam and neither the PM nor P.Chidambaram were responsible. Imagine, the sales manager of a company concludes an extra-ordinarily huge transaction and neither the Finance manager nor the MD is aware of such a transaction. Normally, even a Chairman who doesn’t involve himself in day to day operations would know of such a transaction. But to expect our PM, then FM or UPA head Sonia Gandhi to be aware of the 2G skulduggery is supposedly far-fetched.
So, from 3pm onward the MSM on TV, online media and elsewhere kept playing the allegation of Sibal against the NDA and happily buried the issue of the loss of 1.76 lakh crores somewhere in their dustbins. Where the question of responsibility came up, the discussions focused on Raja. And the usual suspects who defend the govt even on the indefensible were on the panels all evening. Here are some interesting observations:
On the question why PM, PC or Sonia (or High Command) were unaware of what Raja was up to Vinod Sharma of Hindustan Times had this to offer (on NDTV): Raja’s High Command is in Chennai and not in Delhi. That’s a reference to DMK bosses and inference is that Raja, as a minister, did not have any accountability to the PM or the Cabinet. That’s how stupid media morons like Vinod Sharma can get.
Okay, the next one is from K.Tulsi, a lawyer with Congress sympathies, who suggested (again on NDTV) the PM and FM cannot be aware of everything. Everything? Haha! This is not some small-change we are talking about, this is a Himalayan transaction. To this nonsense Arun Shourie responded by asking Tulsi if the PM and FM don’t even read newspapers. That’s true, since 2009 the 2G scam has been in the news and some newspapers, particularly The Pioneer, were reporting it and yet PM and FM were unaware? Any idiot who reads newspapers would be aware of something brewing as a scam in the 2G licenses, yet the head of the Indian govt. was ignorant. Brilliant! This, when every man’s wife, children, relatives and dogs and cats knew about the scam.
Now, the best spin and deflection comes from none other than Rajdeep Sardesai, the devil on TV and preacher by night kind of journalist. He cleverly asks a panelist: So the NDA is not to blame and Raja has to be blamed for the whole scam? Journalism? Nope, Latinos might call this 'Whorenalism'! This little question would normally be missed by a viewer but if you read carefully he gives you a choice in deciding who’s guilty, its either NDA or Raja. The Congress, UPA, PM, Chidambaram are all exonerated in one single stroke. This is the same Rajdeep whose channel tried to tar and poke holes in the CAG report and claimed internal squabbles. That the loss in 2G was a mere 2645 Cr. and not the CAG figure of 1.76 lakh Cr. Motivation for the “Whatever it takes” channel!
Alright, notwithstanding all of that there is one important question that nobody is asking. What could be the motive for such a scam? Surely, behind every crime there has to be a motive. If Sibal feels the SC verdict finds fault with the NDA policy why is it that the govt chose to go for an auction of 3G licenses instead of continuing the FCFS route? Obviously, by early 2010 the govt was aware that the FCFS was misused and could have taken remedial action. It did not. Quite simply, the govt, as in many other scams, believed they could get away with it. They did not expect such a severe dressing down from the SC. The words the court used would shame any govt: “Illegal, arbitrary, unconstitutional and capricious”, but not the Congress. Which is why Sibal brazenly accuses NDA and defends PC, PM and by implication Sonia Gandhi too. And the media parrots that line.
Subramanian Swamy who fought the 2G case all along has stated many times over that there were kickbacks to the tune of 60000 crores and some of it has gone to Sonia Gandhi and family and some to DMK. But it is hard to believe that people who already have huge wealth would want to amass such further draconian amounts for personal gains. And there seems to be only one probable answer: Elections! The 2G licenses were given out in early 2008 with the general elections just over a year away. This was also a time when the Congress was in constant conflict with the Communists over the nuclear deal. Hanging on to alliances and allowing crimes to stay in power is not new in India. Elections are an expensive affair. Come general elections in May 2009 and both, the Congress and the DMK, return with a good number of seats. The Congress even manages to score higher than in the previous election. That is amazing considering the elections came in the backdrop of the worst terrorist attack on India in November 2008. Swamy’s allegations about the kickbacks have been around for quite some time yet not one single media outlet has talked about it, much less willing to investigate and report on it. Given the turn of events Swamy naturally commands a higher trust than any media house.
Narendra Modi during his Sadbhavna mission in September 2011 made an important statement: That some political parties come to power and their main agenda is not governance or development but has always been how to win the next election. In the last parliament session Ram Jethmalani quoted the improvised version of “Power corrupts..” as “Power corrupts, but the prospect of losing power corrupts even more”. That should explain the whole 2G scam. While political parties can battle over the value of 1.76 lakh crores of loss there cannot be any doubt that some of that would have been bribes and kickbacks to political outfits from the ruling coalition. Does the media have a stake in it? Maybe not directly but the Radiatapes exposed the media-politician-2G nexus so dirty secrets still abound. Also elections are a big bonanza for the media and consider all the Nehru, Indira, Rajiv, anniversaries and all the ‘Gandhi-Nehru’ schemes that get advertised. No other govt formation would benefit the media in such huge amounts. So why investigate a scam of this proportion and where the kickbacks went and bite the hands that feed them? The media’s sympathies for PM or Chidambaram apart, their motivation for trying to cover up the misdeeds of Congress is not very hard to see.
Any govt that takes a decision leading to the cancellation of 122 licenses by a court in a major policy issue should resign. The Congress and UPA have been brutally exposed over and over again for abuse of power and major scams and yet go around pretending they are fighting corruption. This is also a welcome blow to the corrupt corporate-political nexus which is slowly poisoning the nation. This is not an issue for mindless debates which the media indulges in. This is time for honest journalists to tell the UPA that it’s not about 122 licenses, these are 122 reasons why the UPA must die. For the nation these are 122 reasons to cheer.