Instead of feeling ashamed because of the V.K. Shunglu Committee report or taking corrective actions as follow-up action, the Aam Aadmi Party has decided to brazen it out. Which is actually quite typical of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal & co: having come thus far in politics in a short time by using the tactics of accusations and slander, and having indulged in dirty politics all along, the party seems to have developed immense faith in mendacity and shenanigans. Evidently, it believes that lies, if spoken with conviction, can always eclipse the truth. But, unfortunately for them, this is not how the events are unfolding.
Constituted by former Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, the Shunglu Committee was mandated to examine the decisions taken by the AAP government. The panel reviewed 404 files of the Delhi government. It has, among other things, raised questions about several appointments including that of Health Minister Satyendar Jain’s daughter Soumya Jain in the Mohalla Clinic project.
“Soumya, who is an architect, was made an adviser to Mission Director, Delhi State Health Mission. However, she asserted her expertise with regard to Mohalla Clinics even though her CV does not support her claim. Second, the memorandum of Association of State Health Society (Delhi) and rules and bylaws do not support such appointment,” the committee said, adding that the file contained no evidence of who approved her appointment.
“These events can only be explained by the fact that Soumya Jain is the daughter of Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain,” the committee’s report concluded.
The Shunglu panel has made it evident that nepotism is as rampant in AAP rule as it is in a government run by any other party. Nepotism was not restricted to Soumya’s case. The panel also questioned the appointment of Nikunj Agarwal, a relative of Kejriwal’s wife, as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Health Minister. “The appointment of Nikunj Agarwal as OSD to the health minister on co-terminus basis is a case of violation of recruitment procedure and lack of authority. Co-terminus appointment can be only made with the approval of the lieutenant-governor but the matter is not placed before the lieutenant-governor. The case does not seem fit for ex-post facto approval.”
There are several other observations made by the Shunglu Committee that expose the AAP government’s irregularities and improprieties, if not corruption. The Committee’s report is a serious indictment of the party that had begun with the stated objectives of cleaning up politics and representing the common man. It has shocked Kejriwal’s guru and social crusader Anna Hazare. The Gandhian has minced no words to slam his erstwhile disciple: “I am pained by the Shunglu committee report because Arvind was with me in the fight against corruption. I had great hopes from the young and educated Kejriwal and felt that young people like him will create a corruption-free nation. But he has dashed all my hopes.” Hazare went on to say that “Kejriwal has forgotten everything in the pursuit of power.”
Very true indeed, but it is doubtful if Kejriwal could be reformed by his own teacher’s censure. He and his party are beyond redemption; they have gone too far on the path of political cynicism to be in touch with morality or even enlightened self-interest. They have already taken recourse to sanctimoniousness and prevarication. AAP leaders have thundered that they were ready to be “hanged or sent to jail” if anything could be proved against them. “Before polls, opposition parties come out with such allegations to show the party in poor light,” said AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha, alluding to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s and the Congress’ hand in the Shunglu Committee report.
While the BJP and the Congress, like other parties, do employ dirty tricks, they can’t highlight a non-existent impropriety. They can’t create a Soumya or a Nikunj Agarwal to settle scores with the AAP. It is obvious from the report that relatives of important leaders were given high offices.
Apparently, AAP leaders believe that they can bury any sin of theirs in a heap of lies, vituperation, and decibels. They have done that many a time in the past, but an encore may not be very easy. The 404 files reviewed by the Shunglu Committee have revealed considerable rot in the AAP government.
P.S.: BBC describes error 404 as “the error message given when a browser cannot find a webpage. [It] has come to mean “clueless’.”