When political parties and politicians start spending billions of rupees to win elections, their proximity to money bags is the obvious outcome of this greatest sin in democracy. Hence scandals after scandals become the norm to expeditiously milk the public exchequer- with industry and businesses supporting one political party or the other and dictating terms, writes former IAS officer V.S.Pandey
Democracy is solely about accountability towards the people because they are the sovereign power behind the ruler. Rulers in democracy need to remember one thing always- that they have been voted to power by the people so they are always answerable to the people. Who is asking the questions is not material, what is material is that those occupying positions have to be accountable and come clean on every issue. In a democracy, there is no place to hide and whoever tries to evade questions and fails to answer them satisfactorily and honestly does this at his own peril.
History has always consigned such charlatans to the dustbins of history. Our country is replete with such examples but unfortunately the ruling class forgets this cardinal truth over and over again. Not long ago, the people in power tried to brush under the carpet the ill famous “Bofors” scandal. Similarly the defence scandals of all the ruling dispensations were dismissed without arriving at the truth, with disastrous consequences for all those involved. Can we forget the 2G scam, coal scams etc which were similarly brushed aside by the ruling party then. What happened to those who were befooling the people? They have been indicted and remain embroiled and are yet to clear their tainted names for nearly a decade.
Now the Adani scam is in the public domain with some grave unanswered questions. Even as the Hindenburg controversy erupted nearly eight months ago about alleged large-scale stock manipulations in the Adani Group – it is yet to settle down. The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has claimed that Gautam Adani family had invested millions of dollars in its own companies via “opaque” Mauritius funds. The report has claimed that exclusive documents obtained by OCCRP including files from multiple tax havens, bank records, and internal Adani Group emails — shed voluminous light on the matter conclusively. The report claimed that these documents, which have been corroborated by people with direct knowledge of the Adani Group’s business and public records from multiple countries, show how hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in publicly traded Adani stock through opaque investment funds based in the island nation of Mauritius.
The report has accused the group of using complex offshore operations in Mauritius, to prop up group stocks from 2013 to 2018. Surely such serious allegations against a group, known to be close to the top bosses of the country, deserves serious enquiry into the whole matter. But who will order this enquiry is the million dollar question.
This ill famed Mauritius route for bringing black money into our stock markets is an old trick, adopted by many, if not all, to reroute the ill gotten wealth of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, industrialists etc. The author himself, along with other public spirited individuals, had in the year 2010 brought these facts to the notice of Supreme Court through a Public Interest Litigation in which it was pointed out that thousands of companies have been registered in just one building in Mauritius -just for the purpose of laundering the black money of the looters of this country. The Supreme Court, on 4th July 2011, had passed an order setting up an all powerful Special Investigation Team headed by a Retired Supreme Court Judge to not only enquire into this whole black money business being run clandestinely but also gave this SIT the authority to file fresh FIRs itself, enquire into them and act as prosecutors also so that the menace of black money could be nailed and ended. However, that did not happen- for reasons beyond the comprehension of the powers that be.
Now the selfsame Mauritius route has raised its hydra head in the current Adani issue. The unfortunate part of this dirty saga is that all those who are raising this issue today were in power when the PIL was filed in SC on this very issue- but at that time they did everything possible to bury quietly this massive scandal going on for decades. One does not even have to search for data to understand what has been going on unabashedly to launder the ill gotten wealth of looters using the Mauritius route but one has only to look at the Reserve Bank of India’s published data which is shocking! Between the years 2000 to 2014 nearly forty percent of our Foreign Direct Investment , running into billions and billions of dollars, came from Mauritius, a country with a population of less than fifteen lacs.
Why are such humungous scandals allowed to happen in our country with no body held to account -barring a few exceptions? The answer is simple. When political parties and politicians start spending billions of rupees to win elections, their proximity to money bags is the obvious outcome of this greatest sin in democracy. Hence scandals after scandals become the norm to expeditiously milk the public exchequer- with industry and businesses supporting one political party or the other and dictating terms.
That is why Bofors took place – no defence purchase is feasible without commission , fodder scams, Mining scams across states involving governments of every color , Fertilizer scam, Cement mills sale scandal in UP, UP Sugar mill sale scam, Janta Sari scandal of TN and the Delhi excise scam , the list is so long that it will weary the readers, that’s why only a few have been named. One reason underlies and binds these scams only – politics is totally venal and corrupt politics means corrupt politicians will be wheeling dealing only. When those in power are busy looting -who will order enquiry , who will prosecute whom ? The people have to understand this dirty game being played by our political class brazenly for decades and shun them. Otherwise one thug will be replaced by another and this game of musical chair will carry on with the looted janta watching silently and helplessly. Whither democracy? “Hamam mein sabhi nange hain.” When will they be clothed with honesty and ethicality?
Note: This article is based on the opinions of the author, Vijay Shankar Pandey, a former Secretary of the Government of India.