Monday, April 19, 2010

A tale of two scandals

Gulf Today

Mark Twain prefaced one of his popular tales with these words: "It may have happened, it may not have happened but it could have happened." These words may be echoing in the minds of Keralites as the media bombards them with particulars of two scandals.

One of the scandals has embarrassed the Congress, which heads the government in New Delhi, and the other has caused discomfiture to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which heads the Left Democratic Front that rules the state.

At the centre of the first scandal is Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor. The central character of the second one is Tomin J Thachankary, an inspector general of police who is reputedly close to the state CPI-M leadership.

Tharoor got into trouble following the disclosure that Dubai-based Sunanda Pushkar, whom he reportedly plans to marry, obtained sweat equity in Rendezvous consortium, which won the Indian Premier League's Kochi cricket team for US$333 million in an auction last month.

Tharoor admitted to mentoring the consortium. However, he said his sole interest was to get an IPL team for his state. He asserted he had no financial stake in the consortium.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition in Parliament, and the CPI-M charged Tharoor with misusing his office. The BJP stalled the proceedings of Parliament last week and vowed to keep up pressure until the Prime Minister made a statement.

Thachankary's troubles began when it came to light that after seeking leave to go to Sikkim on holiday he visited some Gulf States. Janata Dal (S) leader M P Veerendrakumar linked his travel with that of CPI-M State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who is currently on a fund-raising tour of the Gulf region.

A former United Nations bureaucrat who failed in his bid for the post of Secretary General, Shashi Tharoor was nominated by the Congress to contest for the Lok Sabha from Thiruvananthapuram. A section of the party, viewing him as an outsider, took a hostile position, but the city's middle class voters, viewing him as a change from the conventional politician, plumped for him. Early in his ministerial career he encountered some tweeting troubles but the party leadership stood by him.

Thachankary, an Indian Police Service officer and a lyricist, is known to have helped the CPI-M in setting up the television channel it controls. He is facing some serious charges like illegal detention and torture and possession of wealth in excess of his known sources of income.

Did Tharoor misuse his position? Did Thachankary travel in aid of the party? The material on record is not enough to go beyond Mark Twain's words.

When Tharoor came under attack in Parliament, no colleague rose to defend him. However, the controversy has not affected his standing among the middle class. A survey by the New Indian Express showed that 57 per cent of the respondents considered Sunanda Pushkar his proxy but 58 per cent still regarded him as an honest man.

The Thachankary affair revived the sectarianism in the CPI-M which had subsided after VS Achuthanandan's demotion from the Politburo to the Central Committee in July last year. Asserting his authority as Chief Minister, he ordered the officer's suspension even as Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was seeking to close the matter with his transfer from the post of Inspector General, Kannur range.

Four years ago the anti-piracy cell of the state police had raided a recording studio owned by Thachankary's wife in connection with piracy allegations. The officer conducting the raid was recalled before he could complete the mission. Achuthanandan intervened on his behalf but the party thwarted him.

Lately the state party leadership had been ensuring Achuthanandan's compliance with its wishes on controversial issues by issuing directives to him ahead of Cabinet meetings. By acting against Thachankary while Pinarayi Vijayan and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan were away from the capital, he has presented them with a fait accompli.

While Achuthanandan has primacy in the government, as Politburo members, Vijayan and Balakrishnan now rank above him in the party.

The final episodes of the Tharoor and Thachankary serials are still awaited as these lines are being written. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who heard Tharoor's explanation and discussed the matter with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and senior party colleagues, will take a decision on whether or not to retain him in the council of ministers. The state CPI-M is expected to look into the Thachankary affair after Pinarayi Vijayan returns next week.--Gulf Today, Sharjah, April 19, 2010.


vineesh said...

BRP Sir,
You have yet again proved how cunning and polarized you are when it comes to such issues. I wonder how could you compare these two issues on the same platform. One being a case of unethical misuse of the power and position by a union minister, and his involvement in a deal of millions for "unknown" interests while the other being a case of personal misconduct of an IPS officer. Even after proper action has been taken against the officer just as any Government should do, You are still trying to use it against the party which you don't like.For this you are quoting things that are yet to be proved. With all respect, Sir, this is clever.. indeed.

radiomango said...

Yes Sir! Tharoor & Thanchankary ..both issues are not affecting the common people in Kerala .IPL is not affecting any BPL in kerala....Thanchankary's Suspension is not a remedy against the two Postmortem reports aiming to home minister.First report is custodial death of Babu in Kattakada police station and second Sampath in sheela murder case puthur ..a responsible chief minister in kerala should ask to resign homeminister in the light of these two murders..

B.R.P.Bhaskar said...

vineesh, you have proved how cunning and polarized YOU are by reducing the Thachankary affair to one of "personal misconduct" of an officer. In case you didnt get it, the allegation is that he was on a mission for the party. It may have happened, it may not have happened, but it could have happened. This officer may have been in jail or the doghouse by now but for the political patronage he enjoys.

B.R.P.Bhaskar said...

radiomango: Suspension is NOT punishment. It is only a preliminary step. This is supposed to be followed by an inquiry. Only if the inquiry shows he is guilty the question of punishment will come up. The present government had suspended him earlier in connection with the Vigilance probe but he was reinstated with promotion and the Vigilance probe put on backburner.

vineesh said...

I like the quote which you have used to defend yourself in the process of putting up allegations which you are not sure of. My point is you should have elaborated on what "HAVE" happened instead of assuming what "COULD HAVE" happened. Prima facie, Tharoor issue is a clear case of corruption and abuse of authority for hidden interest.
Please make it clear that apart from violating his service rules for personal reasons, what has it to do with CPM, or their trip. Do You have any valid point that equates an issue which has stalled the parliament, made reverberations which for sure involves billions of rupees and a personal trip by an IPS officer without permission. Except the crooked kerala medias, no one has taken that even as an issue here. you could have explained the context of IPl corruption more instead of making wild guesses regarding the "sectarianism in the CPI-M " and all.

B.R.P.Bhaskar said...

vineesh, you may think the biggest problem is that Kerala media is crooked. I think an even bigger problem is that our parties and the governments they run are dishonest. That is why inquiries into charges against the likes of Thachankary never get anywhere.

vineesh said...

I do not believe that this government is 100% perfect, nor I want Thachankary to be protected. He is not above any law. But the intention of the media should be to correct such practices and not to attack political opponents or create useless hype.
Thanks for your comments anyway

Sarkar said...

The high-ranking police officer Tomin Thachenkery is known to me as a music creator or composer, as I live abroad since 1973. There were some media coverage on the TV channels and news papers from Kerala. that Tomin Thachankery went abroad with out a proper permit from the government of Kerala.

What when Home Minister Kodiary Balakrishnan visits Los Angeles, Hollywood, and the gambling city of Las Vegas in the year 2009? There are more than 2000 Malayalee families in the Los Angeles area and the people like to meet him and hear him at least through an honorable reception given by any of the malayalee organizations. There was no media coverage of Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan visiting these southern California cities. There are some photos and video streams of his visit to prove his visit. Once when former speaker & minister M Vijay Kumar happen to travel through Los Angeles, we remember to have given him a small reception. He was the Speaker of Kerala Government at that time.