Business, Economics and Jobs

India: Why some graft allegations spark swift investigations...

As usual, the biting wits at have summed up the meaning of the tit-for-tat corruption allegations against various Congress Party bigwigs and Bharatiya Janata Party President Nitin Gadkari:

"The investigative mills of the government grind slowly – but only when allegations of corruption are levelled against one of its own," writes Venky Vembu. "When the charges relate to a leader of the principal Opposition party, the same leaden-footed investigative agencies begin to show extraraordinary agility and earnestness of purpose."

So true.

When anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal leveled accusations at Robert Vadra--the husband of Sonia Gandhi's daughter--there was no question of a probe being launched by the Central Bureau of Investigation. And some Congress wallah or another had the nerve to argue that there was no need to bother about Vadra's affairs at all, since he's a "private citizen."  When Kejriwal accused Uttar Pradesh Congress Party leader Salman Khurshid of dipping into the funds intended for a charitable trust run by his wife, the politician's outrage was deemed proof enough that the strong smell of fish was purely a coincidence.

But when Nitin Gadkari comes under the lens -- initially due to some rather tepid claims from Kejriwal -- all of a sudden everybody is rifling through the bizarre network of tea boys and astrologists on his company's mysterious board of directors and uncovering apparent instances where the leader has "loaned" himself millions of dollars through a maze of alleged shell companies. And, of course, the government is suddenly keen to get in the act.

There's no real revelation here, of course. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has always been a vehicle for the acting government to settle scores. But in the midst of today's anti-corruption craze, it bears pointing out that little or no progress will be made as long as graft is only prosecuted to make political gains against the rival party.