Every once in a while, a blogger gets a whiff of scandal and just lays into it. E.g. supremo (my Latin fails me): Prem Panicker, and his exhaustive, excellently-linked post on the Shashi Tharoor debacle. He repeats the points I made here, but does so much better and clearly reads more than I do. As they say in India, this stuff is “too good”:
Buzz says Pranab Mukherjee had a falling out with the MoS [that is, Shashi Tharoor], and the latter, feeling pilloried, bit back hard. Miffed that a junior talked back to him [a bigger crime than corruption, in Pranab-da’s scheme of things — he is used to hectoring his colleagues unchallenged], the FM is understood to have put his foot down and demanded Tharoor’s head on a platter. The MoS is expendable; at a time of rising prices and with various finance related bills due in Parliament, the FM was not.
[In a case of supreme irony, CNN-IBN is as I write this quoting the Finance Ministry as saying Tharoor did not benefit from the Kochi deal. True — he could not have, since there is as yet nothing to benefit from. The damn franchise has to get up and running for there to be any monetary benefits. At a larger level, it is faintly ridiculous for Mukherjee to take the lead in getting Tharoor out, and then have his ministry give him a clean chit].
Panicker also sounds the right notes on media criticism, noting that so far, articles have focused on Tharoor but not the bigger questions surrounding the IPL and the BCCI administration (e.g., why does Maharasthra waive the entertainment tax for the IPL? Why does it receive subsidies when it purportedly makes so much money?). Here in the United States, the newspapers pay enormous amounts of attention to new stadium deals; they almost always involve shady developers, questionable contracts and tax breaks and few tangible benefits for host communities (the same can be said for the Olympics). But in India, Panicker writes, people just aren’t paying attention.
NEW DELHI: ‘Mr Lalit Modi has had a trail of failed ventures and defaults till four years back but has a lifestyle now that includes a private jet, a luxury yacht and a fleet of Mercedes S class and BMW cars all acquired in the last three years.’
Thus opens a highly confidential and explosive report by the income-tax department that has been in the possession of the government for six months now but formed the basis of any action only on Thursday evening after a raging controversy over secret ownerships and sweetheart deals in the Indian Premier League, or IPL, stalled both houses of Parliament.