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In the Delhi excise scam, the buck stops at Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (Photo: Twitter/@rose_k01)

“Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had forgotten this while he went on  accusing leading industrialists, politicians and others of corruption and demanded jail terms for them, not realising that he had built his house of fragile glass too. Now he is crying foul.

Kejriwal is using all possible means to build a narrative that he is  “honesty personified”, and  has done no wrong. The Delhi CM claims he has become a victim of nefarious designs of those who are afraid of his rising popularity! We live in a “Media Society” where spouting lies is  relentless, and perception is filtered according to the number of times the lies are repeated.

Currently, politics has been reduced to lying and befooling the public by setting a narrative which is totally devoid of  truth. Spreading false narratives has become the norm of new and old politicians alike, but Kejriwal and his ilk are leading the race, desperately trying to play the victim card. This certainly will backfire and cause immense damage to him and his party.

In the now infamous excise scam, which has rocked the Delhi government , finally CBI has taken some serious action by  arresting Delhi’s Excise Minister, Manish Sisodia.  It has become the template  in our country that in every scam, only the small fries are hounded and  the big sharks go scot free .

This happened in the multi  billion rupees mining scam in Uttar Pradesh recently, where the  CBI did not punish the top political executives of the time and just hounded the petty corrupt bureaucrats. The same fate befell bigwigs  in the scam involving sale of several  sugar mills and cement plants at throwaway prices in Uttar Pradesh, causing losses of thousands of crores of rupees to the public exchequer.

The UP Power Corporation Provident Fund scam was also worth thousands of crores , but the then chief ministers under whose tutelage these scams took place were not touched . History repeated itself in the 2G scam and the coal scam where the real culprits -the kingpins of these scams remained unscathed. This culture of letting off the real culprits in mega corruption cases has led to a situation where the top guns brazenly  indulge in wheeling dealing , secure in the belief that come what may, the “looters in chief” will keep enjoying the proceeds of crime unhindered.

The current Delhi excise scam took place after massive changes in the excise policy, duly approved by Delhi government’s cabinet, headed by Arvind Kejriwal. During my 38 years record  of working in the central and state government, I had never came across a case where the cabinet cleared a proposal without the direct approval and tacit consent of the chief minister.

As is the practice, the  chief minister approves the list of items to be presented in the cabinet . Every chief minister worth his salt  cannot absolve himself of his culpability in any scandal  -when the decision was approved in the cabinet that he headed. Hence, in this excise scam Kejriwal is directly responsible and culpable.

If any other person serving in the government is being held accountable for the alleged irregularities committed in this scam, it does not absolve Kejriwal.  In our democratic governance, in all such matters the buck stops at the Chief Minister. He will have to pay for his misadventures.

Many supporters  of Kejriwal are raising the illogical argument of non- recovery of any bribe money from Sisodia. They have forgotten that in this digital , benami and hawala culture, only fools keep money in their possession- more so when they are occupying high positions with the opposition ready to pounce upon them.

Another prominent AAP leader, known to use filthy and foul language and  always ready to brand others as corrupt, should know that corruption charges cannot be defended by diverting the issue to corruption committed by others. Only a person devoid of integrity will defend a blatant wrong, to just further his self-interest and please his boss. This kind of false political rhetoric will neither help him nor his party- which is now in deep trouble. All the spokesmen of AAP need to understand that loyalty to the party line and leaders should not subsume their supreme responsibility towards the public- whose interest will be served only when truth triumphs supreme.

They should look at the voluminous evidence available in the public domain which itself is enough to expose the bribery of thousands of crores of rupees in this excise scam.  AAP party members, supporters and leaders need to introspect and decide whether they will support unethicality. Tragically, for us, a party born out of an anti-corruption movement, is now mired deeply  in the cesspool of corruption, and is at the  crossroads. Their emperor is wearing no clothes. No amount of media blitz can cover him up.

Also Read: Explainer: Why the CBI has arrested Manish Sisodia

 (Vijay Shankar Pandey retired from the Indian Administrative Service. He has an established record of raising his voice against corruption in public life. Views expressed are personal and exclusive to India Narrative)