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Modi era, when anything goes


The nascent slogan of Narendra Modi fans 'namumkin ab mumkin hai,  Modi he tho mumkin hai' meaning 'what is not possible is possible if there is Modi',  has now been taken up wide across   social media as an ill-fated troll.   After having stripped the institutions of governance like Election Commission, Information Commissionn and CBI of their sanctity and credibility,  when Modi has now started pulling down the roof of the very institution called government,  the slogan of his votaries seem to be coming true literally – nothing is impossible in Modi era.  

Before the disappearance of the waves of his boasts that he will stand as the guard of national security and the country is safe in his hands,  his central government was heard crying out in the Supreme Court that the Rafale documents were stolen.  When the entire inside story of Rafale was authentically revealed by the Hindu newspaper before the world,  the panic-stricken Centre, was seen trying to wriggle out of the case in the supreme court.

The allegation raised by  Congress president Rahul Gandhi was that the deal for Rafale fighter aircraft was not transparent,  and that the transactions that should have gone through the procedures of defence and law ministries with national interest in view,  were overturned by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).  And he went on asserting that his oft-repeated jibe 'chowkidar chor hai'  ('the guard is a thief')  was based on solid evidence.  And this is in a way being corroborated by the Rafale documents released by the Hindu daily.  The most recent revelation says  that by the waiver of bank guarantee,  French firm Dassault made a profit of 57.4 Cr Euro (Rs 4,554.52 Cr).  For 36 aircraft, the price fixed by Modi government was higher by Rs 1,951 Cr than in the UPA government deal.   This report contradicts the Centre's – and the BJP's – claim that Modi government made the new contract with a lower price than that of UPA government by Rs 32.79 Cr.   When it was demanded in the court that the government should reveael details of the deal,  the Centre's take was that price details,  as a matter of national security,  were outside the court's jursidiction. 

The case for examining the reports  - that the Rafale deal was concluded in deviation from the procedural parameters of the defence minister -  was raised before the Supreme Court by former union ministers Yeshwant  Sinha and Arun Shourie and eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan.   Pushed to the backfoot with such a demand,  the Centre was trying to hang on to the fig leaf of 'stolen documents'.  But what was seen in the apex court  through  hours of arguments, was the plea itself boomeranging at the government.

When it transpired that the government would be in a trap,  the Centre's counsel  Advocate General KK Venugopal alleged that the documents which came to the public domain  were marked secret and classified,  and action should be taken under the Official Secrets Act against those who stole and published them,  and the lawyer who came to the court with them.   But the court took the stance that,  whether they were stolen or not,  the court could not fail to look into the facts in the documents.  In the process, the government side which was in a hurry to convince the court of the seriousness of the leakage of documents,  however did not deny any of their content.   A counter contention raised in the court was that the plea for not considering illegally obtained documents would not stand,  which was supported by the precedents in the 2G and coal mines cases.   The court's question whether the government was trying to counter coruption allegation with the cover of national security,  was one that came up in the minds of anyone following the Rafale case.    If it was that grave a subject of national security,  the questions would arise why then PMO and National Security Adviser intervened in the matter, thereby superseding the proposals of defence and law ministries and facilitated this much of concessions to the French company.   But it has become clear in the court that the Centre does not have answers to the questions around the Rafale purchase deal.  

Finally, the threats raised against the Hindu newspaper, which made the revelations,  are an effort to gag it,  in the pertubation about truth coming out.  In all the cases of corruption in high places that ended in rolling of rulers' heads,   the triggers were whistle blowers or the media.   The time-tested way of the world to handle them has been to examine the truth and untruth in such reports and reach conclusions.    On the other hand,  the attempt to chop off the finger of the one pointing it  and to muzzle him,  belongs to dictators.  In a democratic milieu where the right to information is  extensively invoked, some still make threats citing the colonial-era Official Ssecrets Act.  And the chronology of Rafale case clearly shows us whether they are taking the country forward or backward,  to progress or destruction.

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