So, the CAG will “save” Rafale-hit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Monday, the CAG’s report on Rafale was handed to
President Ramnath Kovind. It was to be tabled in Parliament Tuesday. Without
doubt it will give hunky-dory status to the Rafale deal. Congress President
Rahul Gandhi, producing an email that “identifies Modi as Anil Ambani’s
middleman”, calls the report “Chowkidar’s Auditor-General report”, his party
expressing “no-confidence” in the report.
The perception battle ahead of general
elections is building up in real earnest. The Congress party is building it
around the Rafale deal, turning it into an election issue, attempting to make
‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ ring all around, in constituencies across the country.
Till Tuesday morning, only the PMO and President Kovind got to read the
contents of the CAG report. Tabled in Parliament it will be in public domain.
This CAG will not go against the Supreme Court ruling on Rafale.
And whether it “saves” Prime Minister
Modi or not, the Opposition will not relent on its attacks on Modi vis a vis
Rafale. To put it in perspective, Rahul Gandhi leads the Rafale charge against
Modi but a consortium of sorts, including opposition parties and sections of
the media, is giving heft to the onslaught on Modi’s alleged Rafale lies.
Do Presidents read CAG reports? Maybe
not in their entirety, but definitely in snatches, skim over highlighted
sections or better still a summary. The Prime Minister has the PMO to give him
the gist of the report. So, Narendra Modi must know if the CAG has “saved” him
as alleged by Rahul Gandhi. As far as the Congress is concerned, Rafale is
election issue and “Chowkidar Chor Hai” is slogan to win GE 2019.
At Rahul Gandhi’s rallies there is a
special way it’s done: Rahul stands at the podium and shouts “Chowkidar” and
the crowd finishes it with the earsplitting “…Chor Hai.” The audience loves it
and Rahul Gandhi is thespian! The big difference between 2014 and 2019 is that
Rahul Gandhi became party President from being party Vice President. And the
difference made all the difference!
The transition from half-baked to
full-time politician; the confidence that comes with looking the audience in
the eye and delivering punch dialogues, Rahul Gandhi traversed the full course
and today can deliver punchline for punchline. And if a sly wink drops eyelid
and raises eyebrows, it’s Viola!
That said, CAGs have a soft corner for
the NDA. The one during the UPA regime added zeros by the tens to give the
impression and perception that the Manmohan Singh regime was corrupt beyond
redemption. It helped Narendra Modi turn the zeros into a simple majority in
the Lok Sabha. A Delhi court later ruled the CAG report on 2G was pure bunkum.
If the CAG “saves” Modi, then it will
be kaput for Constitution and Democracy as we know it, says the Congress. Four
and half years of Modi rule has dented confidence in constitutional
institutions: The CBI and Enforcement Directorate are caged parakeet; and the
CAG is for all purposes tame watchdog.
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok
Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has expressed “no-confidence” in the CAG report. The
first Hindu expose said the PMO was guilty of holding “parallel parleys” in the
deal. “Stop flogging a dead horse,” retorted Raksha Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman
in atrocious Hindi. But a couple of days later, The Hindu raised the dead horse
to life with another ladling of oats!
This time, it was about the Modi
government waiving anti-corruption penalties in the deal and deciding against
payments through escrow accounts. The second “expose” deepened belief that the
Modi government has a lot to hide. “The Euro 87-billion deal between India and
France involved major and unprecedented concessions from the Indian
government,” said The Hindu report. The Congress is now asking the PMO “who are
you trying to shield?” Monday, Rahul Gandhi tweeted “Prime Minister Narendra Modi
facilitated loot.” Tuesday, he called Modi “Anil Ambani’s Middleman.” (IPA Service)