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P C Punnen
P C Punnen
In My View

It’s a mug’s game whether we like or not

P.C. Punnen

More than a year has passed since Rahul Gandhi raised the issue of Rafael deal. Narendra Modi was the prime suspect in the deal, he said. Narendra Modi cares two hoots for the charge, he did not reply. Attempts were made by Modi's cronies in the party to obfuscate the charge, and they were successful to a certain level. To top the issue came the Supreme Court ruling giving the party a clean chit in the Rafael deal. It slowly melted down and people started thinking of other subjects.

But not all opponents of Modi gave up. Yashwant Sinha, once a prominent member in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet, Arun Shourie, a noted journalist and former member of Vajpayee 's government, SC advocate Prashant Bhushan and some others did not treat it as an end. The Congressmen, including noted leader AK Anthony who was in charge of the defense ministry for long and widely respected as an honest man - did not say anything against Modi. But Rahul didn't give up. He continued his game of calling Modi a chowkidar and a dishonest man.

Then came a big blow to the BJP, delivered by The Hindu. It carried 3 articles in it alleging there was some hanky-panky in Rafael deal. The government reaction to this came as a threat to file a criminal case against N. Ram of The Hindu saying that the articles were based on documents which were copied or stolen from the defense ministry. N.Ram dismissed the charge, and the government later withdrew its remarks. Too bad for Venugopal, the Attorney General.

Then came a bigger blow to the BJP. Last week the Supreme Court said it will hear the review petition filed by Yashwant Sinha and others. It also said that the press was justified in reporting on stolen papers. It quoted a famous case in the US defending journalism. It was hailed by the media of all sorts. Needless to say it was a big boost for Rahul. The court will decide when it will hear the petitions. It puts the BJP in dire trouble.

Since the petitions relate to all matters about Rafael deal. The SC's verdict against Modi government will make a history of sorts, the kind India hasn't seen or heard yet.

The grapevine has it that the Congress is not likely to cross 100 seats in the Lok Sabha poll. The 100 seats it wins will have to be given to other opposition parties of the BJP to form a government, which is quite unlikely.

That means that Narendra Modi will be the next PM. However that doesn't mean Modi will have a clear say in parliament and if the SC judgement comes against him he will be in dire trouble. That will be good for the Congress or Rahul. Modi will not have the gumption to lead a government sans clear majority. In short, there will be a trouble India hasn't yet seen.

The reasons why it will happen, or may not, is not for a journalist like me to say. But one thing I can say ; this is remindful of the Bofors scandal which gave Rajiv Gandhi a big defeat after a big win. The Hinduja's who were allegedly involved in the deal got away after years. Till then the media including Express kept on highlighting the issue. To no avail. N. Ram tried to run it in The Hindu but did not get the support of the ruling group of relatives. Chithra Subramaniam had to seek Indian Express as the paper.

Why Anil Ambani was chosen his background being what it is in the Rafael deal-- he was saved from imprisonment by a donation of millions of rupees by his brother Mukesh Ambani who is India's biggest businessman.

Why did parallel negotiations take place outside the preview of the defense ministry in Rafael deal. Manohar Parrikar, former defense minister now dead and gone could have said a lot. Why Hindustan Aeronautics Limited which had a say in all our defense deals was ignored. Why Anil who has hardly any experience in Aeronautics was chosen. That begs a question.

The US, Russian and EU companies were the contenders in the aircraft purchase. Why was Rafael picked up in 2012? These are good questions. No answers from the media or from the ruling party or opposition.

Whatever be the outcome of the scandal we have to accept it just as the outcome of the elections. We depend not on one's education, caste or creed but on the mass turnout. The Uttar Pradhesh, Maharashtra , Bengal and Bihar voters will decide India's future.

Kerala's votes or Tamil Nadu's votes do not matter much. Whether we like it or not that is the position as far as India as a nation is concerned. And we have to accept that. It's a mug's game in politics. The Rafael deal, will it be like the Bofors deal on which we all agitated and read newspapers.