Enron & Political Corruption

Dabhol Power Project at Night

Deep inside one of today’s newspaper pages was a small report about the closure of corruption case of Enron’s Dabhol Power Project. As per the report the case has been closed on an application moved by the BJP-Shiv Sena led Maharashtra State Government. What an Irony!! https://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/300915/04120254190935/0/12042019/18/image/

I remember this controversy vividly as it was during that time I had moved to Mumbai in 1993 for my further studies. NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar who was then in the Congress had just been moved from the Defence Ministry  to take over as the Maharashtra CM to control volatile situation post the Babri Masjid demolition riots and the Mumbai bomb blasts.

Indian Economy was then just opening up and the Government had got a major FDI for a Power Project in Dabhol, Maharashtra which was to be set up by Enron Corporation. Reports started coming out about opacity and underhand dealings in this project. The opposition led by Shiv Sena Supremo Balasaheb Thackeray went hammer and tongs about this alleged corruption and his newspaper ‘SAAMNA’ was filled with stories about it. He went so far to say that if his party was elected to power he would throw the project in the Arabian Sea.

Balasaheb Thackeray with Enron’s Kenneth Lay and Rebecaa Mark at his residence ‘Matoshree’ in Mumbai.

Riding high on this above point besides the Hinduvta card the SS-BJP combined formed the government for the first time in the State and guess what nothing like promised ever happened to Enron’s Power project. Balasaheb went on the entertain Enron Chief Kenneth Lay and the alleged face of everything wrong with Enron deal – Ms. Rebecaa Mark at his residence. The controversy was soon put in the back burner and twenty years later it has died its natural death.

Our political discourse is filled with narratives like these that the political leaders use as a stepping stone to power. Hearsay, without sound legal backup, playing the emotional card, blaming the other side and playing holier than thou!!

From The 2G Scandal’s absurd loss figures that were dismissed by the Special Courts, to tall claims of putting the entire Congress Leadership in jail in 2014 election rallies the list is endless.

The current NDA government is once again asking for mandate on these very alleged cases without acting out on its claims in the last 5 years or managing to get even a single conviction by the courts. For they know it makes out for an excellent vote catcher but a really bad legal case.

Till we have people who are constantly fed on propaganda and are ready to lap it up, we shall have cases like ENRON whose initial wildfire quickly turns in cold ash and helping bring political gains without ever managing to jail a single alleged culprit.

UNDERMINING INSTITUTIONS

There is a famous Latin phrase “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” which means “Who will guard the guards themselves?”

The last few days are nothing but playing out of this above phrase in the premium investigation agency of India i.e. The CBI. As the CBI files FIR against its own and the head of the Bureau asked to go on leave. All this is as some leaders like to say ‘happening for the first time in 70 years’.

The moot question that needs to be asked is it just this one off case or there is a pattern in all of this. Is there a pattern to undermine Institutions, to scuttle divergent idea or for that matter to push an agenda through their own man??

Some examples over the tenure of the current dispensation of the BJP led Central Government happen to reinforce the above view:

  • 330px-Raghuram_Rajan,_IMF_69MS040421048l.jpgRBI – The post of RBI Governor is usually overboard and beyond politicking however in the case of Raghuram Rajan with an increase personal attack by the maverick BJP MP Subramanium Swamy, he choose to vacate the post rather than face the usual Mr. Swamy’s unsubstantiated charges. The Central Government didn’t come out in support of him or reign in their MP to undermine the office of the Governor of Reserve Bank India.
  • Niti Aayog – One of the most vociferous supporter of Shri Narendra Modi ji before he became the PM in 2014 download.jpgwas Mr. Arvind Pangaria – Economist and Professor at University of Colombia. He was well rewarded and aptly appointed as the Vice-Chairman of Niti Aayog in 2015. A tenure that is usually concurrent with the Central Government. However in just two years he chooses to resign from this post to go back to teaching. A person of his stature and knowledge could have been put to better use to drive the engine of Indian Economic Growth but the nation lost out on that due to as some reports are to be believed due to differences with the Finance Minister.
  • Supreme Court – Never before in the history of Independent India have the sitting senior most Judges of the download (1)Supreme Court of India has held a press conference to air their dissatisfaction with the functioning and interference in the working of the courts. To quote Justice Chelameswar “The administration of the Supreme Court is not in order. Many things that are less than desirable have happened in the last few months. Unless this institution is preserved, democracy will not survive in this country.”
  • FTII – download (2)The premier institute in India for film and Television was saddled with a Chairman whose minor claim to fame was being part of the Epic Mahabharat TV Serial and major claim was that he is card carrying member of BJP. The students went on strike, film fraternity objected to his appointment but again who can protest against a brute majoritanism?

These are just few examples for I am sure there are more that quietly die down never surfacing on the forefront. Are these the promised ‘अच्छे दिन’ that the people of India voted for in 2014 ?