It is surprising that Opposition leaders are not jumping with joy and doing miscellaneous dances, for after strenuous efforts they have obliged the prime minister to break the strict rules of propriety that he imposes upon himself. It is not as if he was fulsome or unduly forthcoming; he said so little that it hardly constitutes a defence. But he promised to defend himself at the appropriate time in a forum he deems appropriate. So in a sense, he has only confirmed how properly he behaves in his judgment. Essentially, he believes that the bedlam organized by the Opposition on the report of the comptroller and auditor general is wrong in its ambience as well as its timing. The correct procedure is for the CAG to submit the report to the estimates committee of Parliament. The committee would deliberate and transmit its conclusions upon the report to Parliament. Parliament would at last debate the report of its estimates committee. After the rest of his fellow members exhaust themselves, the prime minister would, in the end, reply to their impassioned sentiments.
His reluctance to express himself immaturely is understandable. Many a politician has spoken on this matter in recent days; many a speech of such politicians has been drowned in the noise, making it necessary for them to start spouting all over again. Everyone may not agree with the prime minister that his silence is better than a thousand answers. But it is no worse than them if they are going to be just so many words lost in the pandemonium. His sparse words have left no one wiser; but clearly, the verbal violence unleashed by some leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party is not conducive to a reasoned debate. In fact, it is difficult to see what purpose it serves other than the undisciplined expression of the relevant politicians’ feelings.
Beyond this, the prime minister was forthcoming enough to say that the CAG was mistaken. This is not surprising; if, at some unspecified time in the future, he is going to defend the government’s allocation of coal blocks, he would have to contest the CAG’s judgment. But it would not be too daring to say even at this stage that the prime minister is unlikely to contest it on entirely rational grounds. He has implicitly made other politicians and authorities share the blame, if any; he has pointed out that political decisions are based more on what the men and women who share power can agree upon, and do not necessarily rest on rational or moral principles. Many in this country have been sold on auctions since the Supreme Court favoured them. The prime minister would have to explain why he chose another method which was susceptible to corruption and favouritism. And his defence is now predictable: that both are a part of the way politicians reach decisions.