Matang’s clout brings governance under cloud

How former union minister from Congress threw his weight around before and after his arrest in Saradha scam

GN Bureau | February 3, 2015


Matang Sinh
Matang Sinh

Former union minister Matang Sinh, a Congress leader from Assam, created a ruckus at the CBI’s Kolkata office before his arrest on January 31, exposing stinking skeletons in the government’s cupboard. He tried to throw his weight around, and called senior government functionaries including home minister Rajnath Singh names as he was politely told about his arrest.

“I will get you bashed up by CRPF,” Sinh told the CBI official and tried to call his security staff to act on his behalf. CRPF personnel provided security to Sinh, because he has been given Z-plus cover by the union home ministry for inexplicable reasons. Given his shady past and involvement in criminal cases, his VVIP status in the home ministry is nothing short of a mystery. At Kolkata airport, he was given a welcome by the CISF officials on his arrival before he went to the CBI office to be interrogated for his involvement in the Saradha Ponzi scheme scam.

In fact, the manner in which senior officials of the home ministry and central police organisations (CPOs) tried to protect him speaks volumes about the rot that has set in governance. After nearly nine months in the office, the Modi government has proved to be as ineffectual in reducing the clout of such dubious characters as the past governments.

The CBI, investigating the Saradha case, has named several senior politicians and bureaucrats of West Bengal, Odisha, and the northeast, and Sinh’s name also figures as an accused. Unlike others, he evaded CBI interrogation simply because of his overweening clout in the home ministry. The impression that he was instrumental in getting Anil Goswami the post of union home secretary during the Manmohan Singh government is firmly entrenched among the top echelons of the bureaucracy. Curiously, his clout has not reduced even after the change of guard at the centre.

This was reflected when the CBI summoned Sinh for questioning. Sources in the government admit that top officials from the home ministry and one particular officer from the CISF persistently lobbied in favour of Singh and tried to influence the course of investigation. There was an attempt to shift his interrogation to Delhi from Kolkata, but the CBI officials put their foot down. Even at Kolkata, Sinh reached the CBI office with all the trappings of a VVIP: in a bullet-proof car bearing a red beacon light followed by a posse of CRPF personnel.

Though the CBI has formally registered a case against Sinh for disrupting and threatening its officials on duty, the whole episode is seen as a reflection of something seriously rotten in the union home ministry where top mandarins are playing the game of favourites at the expense of governance.
 

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