Scams, scandals and slanders stalk the land of Rama, Krishna, Gandhi and Nehru. Corruption reigns supreme everywhere and it had assumed gigantic and dreadful dimensions. Honesty appears to have record into the background and is no longer conspicuous. Lust for power, self and prestige ruled our minds and they have completely captured us. Morality has plummeted to the lowest ebb, and there is an awful crisis of moral values.
The year 1996 will go down in the history as the murky phase of India’s history, when the nation was rocked by scams galore the brought ethical standards and the credibility of the so-called leaders to an all-time low. The country saw the march of several trained leaders that include the former Prime Minster Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, the former Telecommunication Minister Mr. Sukh Ram. There were many who figured in the list of allegedly; corrupt that includes Mr. Satish Sharma, Mrs. Sheila Kaul, Mr. K.K. Tiwari, Mrs. Jaiyalalitha, the former Industries Minister Mr. K.K. Karunakaran and several other politicians of different political ranking.
Together with the politicians in the band wagon were officials of different ranks and even the top-notch executives jailed or on bail for offenses pertaining to violation of FERA and other laws of the land.
The people of India are now all too familiar with not only Hawala, but new avatars like JMM case, St. Kitts case, Bihar Fodder scam, Urea Scam, Medical Equipment Scam, Land Scam, and Housing Scam and so on and so forth.
A brief account of some of these is given below.
Hawala trade is a system of by passing the official foreign exchange channel. The trade runs through a network of agents. Thus it is a method of laundering money. In 1990 CBI interrogated the operators and through them furnished information about S.K. Jain. In 1991 it raided and recovered Rs. 90 lakh cash and a dairy revealing the identity of politicians from Jain’s farm house. In 1996 CBI sought: Presidential sanction to prosecute 3 Union Cabinet Ministers – Mr. Balram Jakhar, Mr. M.R. Scindia and V.C. Shukla and filed charge sheets against several politicians viz. L.K. Advani, Mr. Arif Mohammad Khan. Mr. P.V. Narsimha Rao and Mr. Kalpanath Rai etc.
JMM Pay-off Allegations
Close on the heels of the filling of charge sheets in the Hawala case, came the allegations of pay off to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MPs during 1993 No-confidence Motion against Narasimha Rao government. A writ petition was filed in one Delhi high Court by a social organization, the Rashtriya Mukti Morcha (RMM), highlighting the sudden affluence of JMM leader and Lok Sabha MP Suraj Mandal. Payment totaling Rs. 3.5 crore was made to the JMM leaders on instruction of Mr. Narasimha Rao. The petition alleged that Mr. Mandal along with three others- Shibu Soren, Shailendra Mahato and Simon Mirandi- suddenly changed sides and voted in favor of Narasimha Rao Government.
Bihar Fodder Scam
In Bihar, an enormous amount of public money was embezzled by the Animal Husbandry department officials over a period of 15 years. The amount is said to be above Rs. 500 crore.
The officials allegedly drew crore of rupees from the treasury against bills from factious suppliers of fodder and medicine. Since 1991-92, Rs. 568 crore was withdrawn from different district treasuries through fake bills.
The Himachal Pradesh Governor Mrs. Sheila Kaul, resigned on April 21 1996 after the President indicated that she should not continue in office having been implicated in the government housing scam.
Mrs. Kaul’s involvement in the multi-crore housing scam embarrassed the Congress Party. The CBI told the Supreme Court that Mrs. Kaul had allotted 43 shops and stall in prime areas in the capital to their close relatives and friends, when she was Union Urban Development Minister. Mrs. Kaul granted the shops violating a policy which she herself had approved. She allotted without issuing any public inviting application from eligible persons.
The government’s bid to provide “Telephone on Demand” by privatizing the basic telephone service got stuck in the controversies. CBI accused Communication Minister Mr. Sukh Ram of conniving to help a company in getting the contracts.
The Pandora’s Box may yield more shady deals with the passage of time.