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Why NDA govt will not pursue AgustaWestland deal

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While defense minister Manohar Parrikar said in the Parliament that Agusta case will not go the same way Bofors case did, I have serious doubt that NDA govt will be interested in extensive investigation and quick trial. In fact, while I do believe that current government will not let any big scam happen under its watch, there is very less chance of getting convictions in any big scam happened earlier.

There are two major reasons for my doubt:
1. There is no strong correlation between corruption allegations/conviction and receding popularity. Recent Bihar assembly election is shining example of this assertion. In fact during Lok Sabha election, while Congress managed to get only two seats in Maharashtra, one of them is prime accused in Adarsh scam.

In fact, there is a chance that corruption accused will play victim and gain more sympathy, which is last thing any political opponent will want.

So, as long as popular support is not inversely related with accusations, no government will be interested in prosecuting its opponents even for a legitimate case. And I believe that it will take at least 10-15 years till our society matures to that state.

2. Inefficient investigation institution and slow judiciary: Investigation machinery has been deeply infested with corruption and political biases. So, even if government wants to build a strong case, there is no assurance that all investigating officers will be equally serious about it.

Even if one completes investigation and builds a strong case, judicial procedural delays and loopholes give all the time to accused to stand in next election, play victim card and garner sympathy. If tide turns and opposition is elected in next election, then case automatically dissolves; evidence, witness disappear, and officers involved in investigation are persecuted.

While not much can be done about first problem, it is certainly possible to bring reforms to address second problem. As Supreme court itself suggested, completing trial within a year for all cased related to elected representatives, and barring any charge-sheeted candidate from contesting elections would have been a positive step in that direction. But as we know, SC changed its mind later, and govt too after initial push seems to be inactive about it. While some reforms are being suggested to improve judicial system, the intensity is far less when compared to economy and business related reforms.

So, while individuals like Dr. Swamy will try their best to get conviction in these cases, assurance by government certainly rings hollow.

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