ED saves Gandhis in the Congress power game
Not every hero is a martyr, but every martyr is a hero. The family at the centre of the Congress party must be hoping for their martyrdom at the hands of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), as it questions its key members on various alleged malfeasances, giving it hero status.
The Gandhi family's history has shown that setting agencies of the state upon any one of them usually unleashes their inner martyr. It did so when Indira Gandhi was targeted by the Janata Party government for her misdemeanours during the Emergency. Could the same happen with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren? As the Congress party closes ranks on its first family, could it return the Gandhis to the centre stage of this nation's politics, as they court arrest, jump barricades, and wag fingers at those in power? And for once, all this is getting disproportionately high visibility on prime-time TV and on front pages of newspapers all over the country.
The higher the octave, the greater the echo. The live coverage of the Gandhis visiting the ED office for hours has once again enhanced the recall value of Congress as the principal opposition party. For political leaders, no news is bad news. And for Congress, the bad news is turning out to be the best news in more ways than one, reviving its dysfunctional rank and file to participate in protests taking place in any parts of the country; waking up its almost dormant organisation and enthusing committed Congress workers who were in the wilderness for lack of any constructive or agitational programmes.
As the result, the Gandhis, who appeared to be in imminent decline, have turned out to be beneficiaries of the current probe. Sonia Gandhi continues to be its Interim President. There is total silence on the part of those expecting change and democratic elections.
With Gandhis under ED's scanner, the possibility of holding elections in the near future looks almost impossible. It was a mere few months ago that Congress had charted a four-phase election schedule to elect new office bearers from the district level to the AICC president. The party hasn't even completed the first phase of enrolling new members by March 31, 2022. By the end of last month, all the office bearers of the states and AICC members should have been elected.
The electoral college was expected to elect the AICC president and CWC members by September-October. While the Rahul faction wanted him to take over as AICC president, he has so far stuck to his position of not taking over any formal responsibility in the party. But it is more because of disputes over his eligibility, desirability and capacity to lead the party, which has been delaying the elections as well. The old guard wants Sonia to continue as the President as they feel that she would be in a better position to deal with the non-BJP opposition than her temperamental son.
If she retains the post by default, Rahul would be calling the shots anyway, as he did in the recently concluded Rajya Sabha elections. Holding genuinely democratically conducted organisational elections isn't the virtue of the Gandhis.
As Salman Khurshid said so wisely: "I'll come to save my leader, my leader saves me." It's another way of saying they are the Congress and the Congress is them, with apologies to Louis XIV. For now, it seems unlikely there will be either Congress-must Bharat or Gandhi-mukt Congress. They may have been out of the mind of the voters for many years. But they are back in sight, at least for now. Brand Gandhi has captured valuable market space. The question is, will it sell?
Fake Rating corruption face agency Karma
The Congress and the other opposition parties aren't the only targets of the investigation agencies and regulators like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Nudged by the ED and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the RBI has recently served another warning to over a dozen credit rating agencies (CRAs) to mend their system of arbitrary ratings of corporates, banks and other financial instruments.
According to the inputs from the revenue intelligence agencies, some members of the rating agencies are applying arbitrary parameters to artificially improve the ratings of their favoured clients. The probe started a couple of years ago when blue chip companies such as IL&FS and Yes Bank collapsed despite high ratings given to them by the agencies. Cross holding off many of these agencies has raised doubts about their professional conduct and integrity.
The government feels ever since well-connected promoters of CRAs grabbed the role of the final jury, the number of NPAs has gone up massively during the past two decades. Credit Rating Information Services India Limited (CRISIL) was the first to set up its shop. It became the sole agency to certify the credit worthiness of any entity.
Later many more like CARE, ICRA, SME Rating Agency of India, Brickwork Ratings, India Ratings and Research Pvt. Ltd (IR&R) and Infomerics Valuation and Rating Private Limited were set up either by the banks or those who were connected with the corporate world and retired civil servants. They are now analysing it to find out if any one of them were active beneficiaries of artificially inflated ratings by any one of these agencies.
Even the business connections of all board members are under the scanner. Many icons are likely to fall if the probe is taken to its logical end. The eminence grise of the financial sector,
Omission in commission awaiting Modi's permission
For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reform and transformation are a mission. All his slogans and actions are not disruptive but are aimed at a participative narrative. One of his favourite objectives has been to ensure the speedy delivery of justice.
He promised that his government would repeal obsolete laws and acts which were causing distress. In the process, over 200 laws were either repealed or are in the process of vanishing from the statute books. One of the institutions which have been advising the Ministry of Law and Justice is the Law Commission. So far, 21 Law Commissions have been constituted for three years each. All of them have given 262 reports which led to not only the repeal of numerous ancient laws but also making new ones keeping in view the needs of the changing times.
The term of the 21st Commission under Justice B.S. Chauhan ended in August 2018. Since then, the government hasn't made public the names of the 22nd Law Commission, though it was notified in February 2020. As the Commission has a fixed tenure of only three years, it would end without an official member or a Chairman member by the end of the year.
During the past two years, over 30 Supreme Court Judges have retired, and most of them are well qualified to lead the Commission. The Law Ministry is flooded with the resumes of potential full-time and part-time members. But the otherwise hyperactive and uber-fit Law Minister Kiren Rijiju hasn't given top priority to filling the vacancies.
Perhaps, insiders feel that the reason for delaying the appointments is perhaps the leadership is not yet clear about the nature of reforms it expects the Commission to deal with. Once Prime Minister Modi's legal mission is defined, the jobs will be handed over to suitable candidates.
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