Thursday, August 19, 2010

Did BHEL donate Rs.25 crore to Chautala’s party?

Sriman Cynic was surprised to read a news item that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing allegations that former Haryana chief minister Sri Om Prakash Chautala, his then chief secretary Sri L.M. Goyal and others had favoured state-owned power equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) in awarding a contract for setting up two power units in 2002 (CBI probes Chautala’s role in awarding contract to Bhel, Mint, August 18, 2010).
Is it a clear case of corruption or witch hunt?

The issue is whether BHEL donated Rs.25 crore to Sri Chautala’s party, the Indian National Lok Dal, and gave Rs.2 crore to Sri Goyal, who was Haryana chief secretary in 2000-02, to get the project?

While private players paying money to get contracts is old news, a PSU paying money to a political party to get orders is something which Sriman Cynic hasn't heard before.  Somehow he innocently thinks that the tender route which is adopted by government is to be followed only if private parties are involved and need not be followed if the contract is given to a PSU or government department.

Sriman Cynic wonders, maybe he is wrong.  It would have been better if the Haryana Government had floated a tender and placed the order with the lowest bidder.  But it is still beyond the understanding of Sriman Cynic that BHEL, a PSU, paid money to a political party for getting this contract.  With C & AG auditing the books of accounts, Sriman Cynic wonders how this would be possible?  Rs.27 crore is not a small amount of money and so cash payments are out of question.  Assuming they did pay, how did they adjust this money in books?  Possible course could be over invoicing / under invoicing with parties related to politicians.  Sriman Cynic is scratching his head as to what is the incentive to BHEL for getting this contract?

This has led Sriman Cynic to think if its a case of political witch hunt?  But in the process should the name of a reputed PSU like BHEL be tarnished, wonders Sriman Cynic. He also wonders, if the news is indeed true, what could be the implications for governance in public sector institutions?  Maybe it would result in further tightening of rules and stifle decision making.  Vigilance officials would be breathing down the necks of decision makers.  Overall, Sriman Cynic is sad.

What can I say..?  Did not Mahatma Gandhi say - "My faith is brightest in the midst of impenetrable darkness".  Well, I can only say, Cynicji, please don't be disheartened by any news.  Notwithstanding our corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen, we are still growing.  Like that, slowly but steadily, one day our governance standards would also improve and we won't be reading news of this variety.  If not in our generation, atleast in the next generation.

So, Sriman Cynicji, please keep your cool and let's wait and work for a better era.