Earlier, I had written a short piece l’affaire Reliance (If thy brother wrongs thee…). Like many other well-wishers of Indian economic progress, I am glad that this chapter of public acrimony is done with and the brothers can now compete on business results for the right to be called the true successor of Dhirubhai.
One aspect of this closure which is both tragic and hilarious is how our ministers are tripping over each other to issue a clean chit in respect to all alleged irregularities. Both Chidambaram (Finance) and Gupta (Company Affairs) are busy shouting from the rooftops that this settlement obviates the need for any other enquiry. Look at what Chidambaram says in respect to the allegations leveled by the two sides during the battle (see Times of India here): “I am happy that settlement has been reached. Where is the need for other issues? If there is any specific violation or complaint, we can look into it. [But] after this settlement, I don't think there is any need for an inquiry.” Gupta is quoted later and the sentiments are the same: “since the settlement is already there, I think all the issues are resolved”.
I stake no position on elements of guilt, if any, in the various allegations raised by (current or erstwhile) insiders at the Reliance group. And, same as with Chidambaram and Gupta, it is not my remit to pronounce verdict on the issue. I wish C&G would recognize this and allow the investigators to do their job, and the judiciary (should the investigators find cause to involve this organ of the state), its job.
But again, I am assuming that this is because they know not what they do. What if they do know what they’re doing? What if, like the press during the emergency (“the pressmen had been asked to bend and they began to crawl”), the ministers are just doing what they believe will endear them to the best connected business in town?