Millennium Post

Buying berths at your convenience

It is a truth, universally acknowledged at least in India, that corruption and nepotism are the most effective ways of making it big in the world. In fact, our political leaders take this self-declared axiom so seriously that none of them want to come under the purview of the revolutionary Right to Information (RTI) Act, despite the chief information commissioner (CIC) advising at least six of the major parties to do exactly that.

Given the revelations, that are, by the way, hardly surprising, from a Congress MP that the berths at the upper house in Parliament could be purchased if one had financial muscle to the tune of hundreds of crores, the parties’ stance remains no longer an exercise in self-contradiction, but, becomes, instead, a reiteration of the ‘known known’ that is the fact of the politicians and their parties using and abusing their monetary clout to curry favours from all and sundry.

There is certainly more than what meets the eye in the reshuffles and rearrangements of the cabinets at both the central and state levels, with vested interests and corporate lobbies having a massive hold over the assignments and allocations, as evident in the number of scams under which the country is reeling. Study after study has shown that bigger and graver the criminal charge against the political figure, the greater are the chances of his or her being re-elected, apart from the obvious corollary of heavier being the person’s wallet.

Reports have demonstrated that average assets of 62,847 candidates who have contested MP and MLA elections since 2004 come at Rs 1.37 crores, while the riches of the victorious candidates exceed Rs 3.8 crores. Moreover, those legislators facing serious charges such as rape, murder or larceny, have assets worth over Rs 4.38 crores, despite doing full time politics.

In the light of the appalling statistics, the Supreme Court’s earlier recommendation that candidates with criminal conviction or chargesheet should be barred from elections did look like a step in the right direction, although murky details now emerging clearly indicate that the parties would do everything in their capacity to stall the development. As candidates increasingly combine the cocktail of politics, criminality and monetary muscle to carry out their election contests, sustain campaign or run errands for business interest groups that bank on political bodies to curry favours from. Despite the provision laid down by the Election Commission that candidates must declare their criminal backgrounds on affidavits, not much has been achieved to prevent the tainted from contesting polls or parading themselves as the messiah of common people.

It is extremely deplorable and unfortunate that India still is in the clutches of those who openly connive with the moneyed lobbies to bring out wide-scale disasters, as evident in the Uttarakhand catastrophe, wherein the misguided mixture of thoughtless construction spree, deforestation, erecting dams to redirect rivers’ courses and setting up of power plants, unleashed unspeakable cataclysm on the region and its residents. As politicians stoop to such low levels of public conduct and use politics as a front or platform to carry out their nefarious under the table deals, it is the ordinary people of India and its eco-politics that bear the brunt.          

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