The BJP, of late, has been raising too much of hue and cry against the parties opposed it and vaunts its own ‘purity’. A latest trend has been to engage central investigating agencies like CBI, ED, Income Tax department in probing alleged scams, corruption and money laundering of not only the opposition leaders but even the media houses which have been critical of the policies and measures of the ruling BJP and its governments, both at the Centre and in the states. But when it comes to corruption and crime its own record is really mindboggling. Take the infamous Vyapam scam that began to unfold by 2013 in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, shocking democratic minded people’s conscience throughout the country. Though this recruitment scam reportedly originated in the mid-90s under Congress rule, as it spread its tentacles wide and deep and fully flourished under the BJP rule from 2003 onwards it attained a dimension that is truly threatening and unprecedented demonstrating how hollow, or rather, hypocritical was the BJP’s much vaunted claim of corruption free rule.
Recap of Vyapam scam
The Vyapam scam involves all recruitments along with the professional examinations or eligibility tests for government jobs including police, bank officials, teachers as well as entrance examinations for medical and engineering colleges. In MP, these are being carried out since 1970 through examinations under the MP Professional Examination Board (MPPEB, Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal or Vyapam in vernacular). From 2009 onwards it came to light that these competitive examinations and appointments in various government services and professions including medical profession were and are being rigged in exchange of huge amount of money to favour candidates recommended by or known for their closeness to ministers, including the BJP Chief Minister and the ruling party leaders of the state or elsewhere, the RSS- BJP big-wig and pliant bureaucrats. Even the son of a former Governor featured among some of the accused. And what goes on in this rigging? Consisting of different means, it may include impersonation of examinees, issuing fake admit card, fake mark sheet, pushing in a different name in the appointment letter for one, or the printing of additional blank answer scripts to provide these to examinees all of whom paid hefty sums of money, to help them fill these up at home etc. etc. In other words, whatever little scope of government jobs and obtaining professional degrees is there, that was manipulated to tamper with the results in exchange for huge amount of money. Though originally it was told that the amount believed to have been exchanged as bribes in this scandal was around Rs 2000 crore, it is now revealed that the figure is as high as Rs 36,000 crore. All revelations indicated unambiguously that a scam of Vyapam’s nature and magnitude could not have taken place without the connivance of highest echelons in the political-administrative- bureaucratic hierarchy. But these appear as the tips of the ice-berg, when one comes to know about the horrible feature that earned this scam its particular notoriety, and raised it from the status of a high- ranking scam to a well-orchestrated, most ghastly crime perpetrated by a powerful nexus of persons in the corridors of power with the help of strong band of mafia and professional killers. During these few years of investigation, there have occurred at least 48 unnatural deaths (unofficially more than 100) of accused persons, witnesses, government approvers, probing officials-professors-deans or investigating journalists, media persons and whistle-blowers. All these deaths took place under suspicious circumstances. In its dimension, Vyapam scam which has been established in court surpasses all other scams, But, then it got lost from people’s memory, or got buried under other issues hyped up scandals. Till today, it has not come to the fore who were the chief offenders of the Vyapam scam.
Controversial Rafael deal
Questions were raised and rightly so about the highly controversial Rafael jet procurement case. After testing out a number of global options, the Indian Air Force back in 2012 intended to replace the ageing Russian fighter jet planes, put the 2-engine Rafael aircraft, built by France’s Dassault, and the Eurofighter Typhoon on its final list. The then Congress-led UPA government issued a tender for 126 fighter jets and, because of a lower bid offer, planned to buy 18 off the shelf Rafael jets in fly-away condition from Dassault Aviation of France, with the remaining 108 jets to be built in India by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a Public Sector company. But the said plan was abandoned after the BJP government came to power. In 2015, on a visit to France, Modi announced a completely new deal, in which India would be getting 36 Rafael jets from France. In September 2016, the Indian and French governments signed an inter-governmental agreement which is now known as the ‘‘Rafael deal’’. This deal stipulated that India would buy 36 off-the-shelf Dassault Rafael twin-engine fighters for a price estimated to be Rs. 59,000 crore or 7.8 billion Euros. Two aspects of the deal have first raised eye-brows, then precipitated murmur and finally created a commotion. First one is that the BJP government has been paying much higher price for the acquisition of the jets (Price of 126 jets as decided during the previous UPA government in 2012 is now being paid for buying only 36 jets i.e. over 300% increase in price). Secondly, soon after the agreement was completed, it came to be known that state-owned HAL which has a 60 year long experience of manufacturing aircrafts, including fighter jets, has been removed. Instead, the bulk of that Rs 30,000 crore that has to be invested in the Indian defence system as per the deal would be channelled through Dassault Reliance Aerospace, a 49:51 joint venture established between Dassault and industrial tycoon Anil Ambani’s Reliance Aerostructure which has no past experience and expertise of manufacturing aerospace and defence equipment and were burdened with hefty loans. How could then Dassault select such a heavily debt-burdened non-experienced Indian farm for such a maiden joint venture in defence? There is every reason to smell a rat in the whole episode that insinuates towards some kind of insistence as well as diplomatic pressure on the part of the Indian government. Further, through this joint venture Dassault Aviation is slated to inject about over 100 million euro, the largest Defence FDI in a single location in India. How would Anil Ambani fund his part in this project? In fact, a document released by two former NDA ministers cited a statement issued by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group which mentioned the new price working out to be Rs 1,660 crore per plane. Secondly, then Joint Secretary & Acquisition Manager (Air) in the Ministry of Defence who had been part of the Contract Negotiations Committee (CNC) is reported to have raised questions about the deal’s benchmark price and put his objections on record. Notwithstanding the fact that a Supreme Court headed by the then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who, immediately after retirement, was nominated to Rajya Sabha by the ruling BJP, had dismissed in 2018 a batch of PILs challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafael jets, questions and doubts are still galore.
Other alleged frauds
There are many other allegations of scams and scandals involving the BJP and its governments and satraps. The Karnataka mining scam involving the then BJP Chief Minister of Karnataka, 16 BJP Ministers accused of corruption in Maharashtra, Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) scam alleged to have involvement of former BJP Finance Minister late Arun Jaitley, IPL scam involving BJP ministers, Chhattisgarh ration scandal during the BJP rule, a disputed transaction of worth Rs 25,000 crore, which pointed to fiscal profligacy and a rising debt burden for Ports and Fisheries of Gujarat in which names of some of the BJP top brass of the state had featured—are some of the cases to mention.
Latest revelation of another money laundering case in Madhya Pradesh
Now, once again the BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government has come to the fore in connection with swindling of government money by manipulating data. A confidential 36-page report by the Madhya Pradesh Accountant General (MPAG) accessed by some media houses, has found large-scale fraud, irregularities in the identification of beneficiaries, production, distribution and quality control of the ambitious free food scheme for schoolchildren. Some of the more shocking findings of the report were based on an examination of around 24 per cent of beneficiaries of the Take Home Ration (THR) scheme for 2021, a programme tasked with providing much-needed nourishment to 49.58 lakh registered children and women. These included 34.69 lakh children aged between 6 months to 3 years, 14.25 lakh pregnant women and lactating mothers and 0.64 lakhs ‘Out of School Adolescent Girls’(OOSAGs) aged between 11-14 years. While the School Education Department had estimated the number of out-of-school girls at 9,000 in 2018-19, the Women and Child Development (WCD) Department under the supervision of the Madhya Pradesh BJP Chief Minister himself, estimated their number at 36.08 lakh without conducting any baseline survey. Knowing well that the figures were inflated, the WCD directorate adopted the figure of OOSAGs at 5.5 lakh. Audit verification revealed that at 49 Anganwadi centres in eight districts, just three OOSAGs were actually registered, while the MIS portal of the WCD department showed 63,748 registered OOSAGs and claimed THR distribution to 29,104 OOSAGs during 2018-2021.This clearly indicates the extent of data manipulation in OOSAGs estimation, ultimately leading to the fake distribution of THR worth Rs 110.83 crore.
One of the most startling irregularities was found in the transportation of the THR from the production plants. Six THR manufacturing plants located in different parts of the state, claimed to have transported 1125.64 MTs of THR costing Rs 6.94 crores. But the verification of the transport department’ database of respective states revealed that those trucks (which were claimed to have been used for THR transportation) were actually registered as motorcycles, cars, autos and tankers or the trucks didn’t exist at all in the database, meaning the THR was transported in ghost trucks. The BJP government of Madhya Pradesh is still tight-lipped on the issue.
Apparently, the leaders of the RSS-BJP, the ruling combination, are trying to suppress the scams and the usually eloquent rhetoric-savvy PM Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues have been maintaining an eerie and deafening silence on allegations of scams of their own party and governments. These provide enough indication of their attitude towards corruption and confirms their sinister attempt to shield the culprits.
As indicated in the beginning, the BJP has, of late, been overactive in unearthing scams of the opposition leaders and non-BJP governments by setting the central investigating agencies upon them. But nowhere such agencies are deployed to probe into the corruption of the BJP leaders and governments despite allegations from various quarters. As if, the BJP is soaked in purity and hence cannot do any wrong. This is nothing but a bunkum! Using the seat of power, the ruling BJP is shielding all its misdeeds with alacrity as if it is the sole claimant of cleanliness in vote-based bourgeois politics. What else can be further from the truth.
Corruption is bred by decadent moribund capitalist system
It needs to be understood that scam and corruption are not clutched out of thin air or are attributable only to some identified parties or persons. Corruption and crime are bred by the decadent, moribund, rotten, reactionary capitalist system. It is not confined to any national barrier, nor to any particular walk of life or field of social activities. The entire capitalist world is virtually suffocating from the fuming fire of corruption and crime; the human society from top to bottom is turning blue from the poison of the two. It ought to be noted that even when capitalism started its journey as a progressive force in human civilization, corruption and crime existed. But the society had put leashes upon those. Right from the start, capitalism hinged on profit making which is contingent upon deprivation and oppression of the toiling masses. But, at the initial stage, self-restraint was put on defining profit as reasonable. There was free competitions among the capitalist owners, in a laissez faire economic environment. As the system entered the imperialist stage, became moribund, imperialist powers began sucking colonies dry, clutching at their neck, while profit making turned into maximum profit hunt – anyhow, by any means, brushing aside any and every norms, values and ethics. Obviously in the capitalist society living upon discrimination born out of exploitation and oppression, the reign of corruption and crime started from the centres which weighed heavily with capital, the ‘omnipotent’ source of power is in the government and in the state machinery. The system thus breeds these two vices. So, people at the other end of discrimination, the have-nots, the powerless have become the real victims. Just like a drama, all this is being enacted in this or that country in different or in newer and newer forms. When the curtains are raised, people are aghast with the latest deadly form of the virus of corruption and crime. India under the new union government of the BJP has been witnessing the latest act of this relentless drama which eventually takes shape, on a scale and severity perhaps unprecedented in the world. Let there be no doubt about the fact that anyone, irrespective of hue, engaged in serving this obsolete rotting capitalist system or wedded to the task of protecting as well as sustaining it, cannot remain insulated from corruption. The BJP, the Congress, the regional bourgeois parties like the TMC, DMK, SP, TRS, the pseudo-Marxists and so forth are all subservient to capitalist system and working as its political managers. So, all of them are power-mongers and vulnerable to the lure of lucre.
Only those engaged in conscious fight against capitalism can remain insulated
Obviously, those who engage themselves steadfastly in conscious and continuous fight against capitalism, the root of the evils, stand the chance of keeping themselves away from corruption and crime. Be that as it may, however, can the right-thinking people afford to remain silent or simply sit tight in view of the spiralling virulent spate of frauds, scams and corruptions? Clearly, in this moribund capitalist set-up, no enquiry will find its desired end, until and unless people stand up unitedly, raise their voice of protest, and remain vigilant. So, any and every democratic minded person needs to take it into their heart that there must develop in the society an ambience which would stand resolutely against corruption and crime. Only such an ambience can act as the bulwark against these virulent enemies of mankind. And such an ambience can be generated only through a sustained organized democratic movement with a definite purpose and direction, based upon firm conviction of ideology, high ethics and morality taking shape in the personality and character of the band of innumerable volunteers across the country, magnetically attracting and holding together a vast periphery of common people to stand as benevolent active or passive supporters of movement. Such an anti-corruption movement must stand conducive to the movement against capitalism itself. Only with these conditions fulfilled and the desired movement picking up momentum, there can work a check on this all-powerful capitalist society and its subservient permanent nexus of the monopolists-industrialists- businessmen-tainted politicians-high handed bureaucracy-army and even a part of ‘sacrosanct’ judiciary and the henchmen of all of them.