What connects '2G' Raja and 'skirt-chaser' Berlusconi?
Former Telecom Minister A Raja, at the centre of the 2G spectrum allocation scam, has earned the dubious distinction of figuring in the list of Time Magazine's "an ignominious club of privileged leaders who stepped too far".
The 2G scam is ranked no 2 in the list of scandals and scams in the all-time Top 10 Abuses of Power, only next to ex-American President Richard Nixon's 'Plumbers', a secret unit tasked with digging up dirt on Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.
Raja, who is cooling his heels in New Delhi's Tihar jail, has beaten some tough contenders to be ranked second and be ahead of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, North Korean autocratic leader Kim Jong-II and skirt-chasing Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Raja's lawyer when contacted said he did not want to comment on the report. The Time write-up on the India's telecoms scandal says, "In recent months, India's ruling coalition government has been rocked by an epic corruption scandal that has challenged its once unbreakable grip on power."
The magazine further said, "But, according to allegations that led to Raja resigning late last year, he presided over the underpricing of bandwidth to mobile companies apparently in return for bribes which some estimate may have cost the Indian government around $7 billion.
"That figure makes it hands down the largest episode of graft in Indian history, and played a part in the withering defeats Raja's party sustained in local elections in early May. Raja himself now languishes in jail as the snail-paced Indian judicial system inches the case forward."
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Image: Former Telecom minister A Raja
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
Muammar Gaddafi: Libya
Since 1969, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is the longest-serving leader in both the Arab world and Africa. At the age of 27, Gaddafi led a bloodless coup, toppling king Idris, and has ever since maintained an iron fist over his oil-rich country by pounding on any dissident voices.
The current ongoing rebellion crisis has proven to be the most serious domestic challenge to his regime. According to Human Rights Watch, the regime imprisoned hundreds of people for violating the law and sentenced some to death.
In the 70's, there were even reports of publicly hanging students who were demonstrating, demanding rights in Benghazi and Tripoli. Among his many eccentricities, Gaddafi is rumoured to sleep in a Bedouin tent guarded by dozens of female bodyguards on trips abroad.
Gaddaffi is on number 4 in the list.
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Image: Muammar Gaddafi
Kim Jong II: North Korea
He is heard about, revered and feared in equal measure, but the ruler of the world's most secretive regime is rarely seen in public. Foreign media often speculates that the heavily diabetic dictator has died or is terminally ill; reports strongly refuted by the state-owned media.
The man in charge of the world's fourth largest army reportedly has a penchant for alcohol, attractive women and luxurious villas. Meanwhile, millions of North Koreans live in abject poverty, thanks to his unrealistic visions of a 'self-dependant' economy.
The Time article says, "He has used his power to coerce women into being his personal concubines. The 'Dear Leader' is believed to have fathered nine children with mistresses, not including the five offspring who he has supposedly acknowledged as being the result of multiple marriages."
The man is on no 7 in the list.
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Image: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visits the Pyongyang Cornstarch Factory in this undated picture
Silvio Berlusconi: Italy
He is Italy's longest-serving post-war prime minister, as well as one of Italy's richest men. Berlusconi owns Italy's most successful football clubs, AC Milan, and the three biggest TV stations in Italy, along with other properties.
Of late, Berlusconi has been fending off a series of political, sex, and corruption scandals. Last year, his former political allies called upon him to resign, as revelations emerged that he had paid for sex with a teenaged Moroccan dancer, for which, he was formally charged.
He was also charged for abuse of power in the same case. Previously, he has been accused of tax fraud, embezzlement and false accounting, and also attempting to bribe to the list too.
According to Time magazine, "In May 2010, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy called a police station in Milan and demanded the release of an underage Moroccan girl nicknamed Ruby, who was being held on suspicion of theft.
"To hasten her release, Berlusconi reportedly indicated that she was a relative of then Egyptian President Mubarak. (She is not.) Ruby, whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, has since recounted stories of sexually explicit so-called "bunga bunga" parties at the Prime Minister's private villa in Milan," it says.
Berlusconi is number 6 on the list.
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Image: Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Richard Nixon: United States
Nixon was the only United States President to be impeached. In a career spanning over 40 years, and long before he resigned from the presidency in disgrace, he earned a reputation as a campaigner who would stop at nothing, and a fierce anti-communist.
Time says, "In September 1952, vice presidential candidate Nixon was accused of taking money from a reelection fund. In a live television address, Nixon painted himself as a humble family man who had only accepted a single gift Checkers, the family dog. The "Checkers Speech" saved his candidacy and helped propel Dwight Eisenhower to the presidency.
"President Nixon's staffers formed the "White House Plumbers," a secret unit tasked with digging up dirt on Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg. The Plumbers went on to commit crimes for the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, including the Watergate burglaries," says Time.
"Although Nixon denied knowledge of the Plumbers activities, tapes subpoenaed during the Watergate investigation revealed years of political espionage and illegal surveillance. The "Smoking Gun" tape revealed that Nixon was involved in the cover up. On August 8, 1974, Nixon became the only American president to resign the office," it says.Nixon, of course, tops the list.
Image: Nixon gives his farewell speech to members of his cabinet and staff in the East Room of the White House, following his resignation on August 9, 1974