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Turn the heat on corruption

Barely had Air Force One left the Indian skies, the Congress struck swiftly to remove Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi from their party posts. This was not unexpected and clearly calculated to blunt the Opposition attack on corruption in high places as Parliament began.

india Updated: Nov 09, 2010 22:38 IST

Barely had Air Force One left the Indian skies, the Congress struck swiftly to remove Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi from their party posts. This was not unexpected and clearly calculated to blunt the Opposition attack on corruption in high places as Parliament began.

The Congress had signalled that it meant business when it appointed Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony to look into allegations of gross violations in the Adarsh housing society in Mumbai in which Mr Chavan, among many others, has been implicated. Unlike similar probes in the past, this one has been acted upon with alacrity.

Now, the Opposition may argue that many more people are involved in the scam and more heads must roll. That is likely after a wider probe, probably by the CBI which Mr Antony has sought. As for Mr Kalmadi, the writing was on the wall despite the fact that the Commonwealth Games went off splendidly.

The depths of alleged corruption were enough to shock a public inured to scams. Once again the needle of suspicion points at many others also, but it would be difficult for any political party to undertake a sort of night of the long knives at this juncture.

The next on the Opposition radar will be telecom minister A Raja for his alleged role in the 2G spectrum scam. While coalition politics may have held the Congress back from removing him, his own party the DMK has a more compelling reason to act against him.

In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK that faced a near rout in the last election is in resurgent mode and has decided to make the Raja issue the focus of its attack against the DMK. Ms Jayalalithaa, after a period of hibernation, has come out all guns blazing on this issue putting the DMK on the mat. It would be in the enlightened self-interest of the DMK to be seen to be impartial on this and respect the findings of the inquiry that is on into the issue at the moment.

For the UPA government, it is vital that it gets to the bottom of the Adarsh scam and the CWG irregularities. The first has become an emotive issue since the flats were originally meant for the kin of the Kargil martyrs. The second involves such enormous sums of money that there has been unprecedented outrage at what has been seen as theft of the exchequer.

The Congress may find the going uncomfortable as unpleasant truths tumble out into the public. But it is better that not just these, but other improprieties are dealt with in a transparent manner so that the UPA does not blot its copybook any further.