Prime Minister Narendra Modi often talks about rooting out the menace of corruption, terrorism and black money. He also pitches hard on reducing the pending cases in judiciary. But the actions taken by his government refuses to match his claims.
Let’s start with the issue of CORRUPTION.
Corruption was a key issue for Indians of all generations in 2014 general elections. Modi, during his poll campaign, promised to eliminate “cancer” of corruption. He promised to make Lokpal an efficient and independent anti-corruption body. He assured every citizen of India that he will change the image of CBI, which was described as a “caged parrot” by a serving chief of the agency, if voted to power.
Consequently, a huge number of voters expressed faith in his promises and voted him to power. What is he doing now to fight corruption? The answer is – NOTHING SUBSTANTIAL, only HEADLINES MANAGEMENT.
It is a well-known fact that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the foremost investigative police agency in India playing a pivotal role in probing major corruption cases.
The CBI is currently investigating high-profile corruption cases like 2G scam, coal block allocation scam, NRHM scam etc. And don’t forget, the CBI is a last ray of hope for victims in cases of heinous crimes.
But, what has Modi done to this agency?
After the completion of Anil Sinha’s two year term as CBI director on 2 December 2016, Modi appointed a ‘temporary’ director for the agency. A 1984 batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, Rakesh Asthana, has been appointed as ‘‘interim director’’ of CBI. He is considered to be close to Modi and the BJP president, Amit Shah.
Curiously, two days before Sinha’s superannuation, the second-in-command in the CBI, R K Dutta, Special Director, was unexpectedly moved to the Ministry of Home Affairs as Special Secretary, apparently to pave way for Mr. Ashthana’s appointment as officiating head of the body.
Now the question arises why Modi, in consultation with leader of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India (CJI), didn’t finalise the name of a full-fledged director for the CBI in advance? Is it because his government is not on good terms with CJI, Justice T S Thakur? Is it also because the largest opposition party, Congress, giving Modi government grief on the issue of demonetisation? Or does he want to test the ‘loyalty’ of Asthana before appointing him as full-fledged director?
The Lokpal saga
The anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare forced previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to enact Lokpal Bill. Forty five years after its first introduction, the Lokpal bill got finally enacted in India on 18 December 2013.
Modi led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) took over in May 2014, but it is yet to bring a minor change replacing the Leader of Opposition with the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha. This has stalled the law.
Recently, the Supreme Court pulled up the Modi government over delay in appointment of Lokpal, saying it should not allow the law to become a “dead letter”.
The government argues that the law was brought in a hurry and had several loopholes which need to be plugged for the law to be effective.
Now, one can guess Modi’s seriousness about fighting corruption.
Modi’s seriousness on terrorism
Let’s move on to examine Mr. Prime Minister’s seriousness in fighting TERRORISM. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was established after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as the need for a central agency to combat terrorism was realised.
Naturally, a special agency like NIA needs special attention. But it is unfortunate that this agency is getting a step-motherly treatment in Modi’s rule. It is interesting to note that Sharad Kumar, an IPS officer of 1979 batch of Haryana cadre, was appointed as Director General of NIA on 30th July 2013. After his retirement in October 2015, the government gave him one year extension and reappointed him on contract. Again, in October 2016, he has been reappointed for another year on contract.
Can you believe it? A government, which claims to fight terrorism tooth and nail, fails to find a serving IPS officer for the top job in NIA. Just imagine, the NIA chief is doing a contractual job. Isn’t it ridiculous? This is the proof of hollowness in Mr. Modi’s tall claims.
Arrogance hurting judiciary
Similarly, the Indian judiciary is also bearing the brunt of Modi government’s adamant, arrogant and lackluster attitude.
It is a well-known fact that the relationship between the Modi government and higher judiciary is very far from healthy. A tussle is going on between both sides over the procedure of appointment of judges in high courts and the Supreme Court.
Amid all the tension brewing between the government and judiciary, the Modi government has decided to appoint retired judges in high courts. Though the move of the government is well within the ambit of Indian Constitution, it raises a lot of questions.
If the Modi government is really serious about reducing the pendency of cases in high courts and the Supreme Court, why is it hesitating to take an initiative to make the relations normal between executive and judiciary? Why this temporary move of appointing retired judges? Is it a lasting solution for reducing the pendency of crores of cases? What steps are being taken by the BJP-ruled states for improving judicial infrastructure so that the pendency of cases could be reduced in lower courts?
Black money claims
As far as the issue of eliminating black money is concerned, Mr. Modi appeared a bit serious when he announced the withdrawal of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 denomination notes from circulation on 8 November this year. But gradually the entire move turned into a nightmare for common people and the vulnerable sections of society. Even renowned economists are criticising this decision. They are of the view that this decision will push the economy of India towards depression.
It’s evident that Modi and his government is high on propaganda and extremely low on concrete honest actions. This government is ruthlessly undermining the institutions, frustrating the morale of sincere officers. This government is continuously failing in combating the menace of corruption, terrorism and black money. It’s sincerity towards judiciary is also dubious.
(The author is a journalist. Views expressed here are the author’s own and Janta Ka Reporter doesn’t necessarily endorse them)