Back to old ways?
Who in the Union government ordered the hacking of the iPhones of prominent persons? It is difficult to believe that after the Pegasus controversy the government would have been foolish enough to hack into phones especially in view of the fact that Apple’s own internal threat intelligence unit will come to know of it first. It is true that Apple itself has diluted its warning by saying that it could be a “false alarm”. The alacrity with which the Modi government agreed to a probe and its invitation to Apple to join the investigation shows that the regime has done its homework. In any case, it will be interesting to know the outcome of the probe. Will the opposition have egg on its face?
P Velrasu, additional municipal commissioner (projects) in the BMC, has an FIR filed against him by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai crime branch in the body bags case. Yet the state government has not found it necessary to move him out. Instead, he continues to deal with multi-crore contracts given out by the civic body. In the absence of elected corporators, the babus are having a free run of the richest civic body in India. When he was the chief of the KalyanDombivali Municipal Corporation, Velrasu was shunted out in one year. However, he has established himself in the BMC. So who is shielding him? According to sources, it is learnt that two leaders of the Shiv Sena (Shinde) and the BJP are shielding him from prosecution in the case filed by the EOW. Velrasu himself pleads innocence and says he is open to any probe.
Beat the bond
Even though the Attorney General R Venkataramani told the Supreme Court recently that citizens do not have a right to information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution about donations received by political parties, many companies are now rethinking about buying electoral bonds from State Bank of India, which alone is authorised to receive any amount of cash towards the purchase of these bonds. It is a sure way to launder black money. Now, the problem is that potential donors fear that if the SC verdict in response to a clutch of petitions goes against the Centre, their identities will become public; a situation they would rather avoid fiercely. The apex court’s judgement is expected to be out before the Lok Sabha elections. So will black money be back in business as far as political parties are concerned?
Making use of enemies
Maharashtra MLA Rais Shaikh has written to Maharashtra governor Ramesh Bais, drawing his attention to an X (formerly Twitter) handle called @mumbai71, which has made extremely serious allegations of corruption against three officials of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation. Shaikh has alleged that there is a deep nexus between these officials and certain contractors executing projects for the corporation. The letter has sent a shiver down the spines of not only these three officials but also others against whom there is a needle of suspicion, especially because the @mumbai71 handle has several hardcore pro-BJP followers; hence it’s also surprising that Shaikh, who belongs to the Samajwadi Party, has taken up the cause. It is learnt that Governor Bais has forwarded the letter to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, but the matter has not moved further. It is said the government is totally busy with the Maratha agitation and hasn’t found time to probe the alleged scam that is said to be running into a few thousand crore rupees.
Asenior IAS officer of Maharashtra has offered to resign fearing a probe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau. But then the ACB can probe even a retired babu.
Compiled by S Balakrishnan