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The game of scams

The game of scams
The fate of politicians blanketed in scams and conspiracies has taken radically different turns, with the two CBI special court verdicts that were announced last week. While the more newsworthy 2G scam hearing witnessed the acquittal of all involved, the more innocuous fodder scam that had all fingers pointing at Lalu Prasad Yadav met a more disdainful end, with Yadav along with15 others being convicted for unlawful laundering of money from the Deoghar treasury, amounting to Rs 89.27 lakh, during the period of 1991-1994, when he served as the Chief Minister of the state of undivided Bihar. Lalu has been accused of being involved in six fodder scam related cases, of which he has so far been convicted in two. The earlier conviction was met out in the year 2013, for the laundering of money from the Chaibasa treasury, amounting to Rs 37.5 crore. He had been addressed a sentence of five years of imprisonment on which he had received a bail from the Supreme Court in December 2013. After the hearing of the second fodder scam related case, Lalu was immediately taken to the Birsa Munda jail in Ranchi as convict number 3351; the final sentence is scheduled to be announced on January 3, 2018 after the CBI special court resumes its functioning post its winter break. Hoping against tide that his scam story would replicate the ending that the much-hyped 2G scam hearing witnessed, Lalu's reaction to his conviction was consequently less of acceptance and more of blame towards open propaganda. While there is no doubt that Lalu has been involved in several cases of money laundering, endless properties across the country, a fleet of cars and glamorous wedding celebrations for his children—he isn't the only politician who has afforded such a living after beginning from zilch. The common perception in our country has always been of politicians being regular corrupt scammers. The educated, unless belonging to a political heritage, do not join politics because of this blemish that has been associated with the profession that should instead be deemed respectful in light of the service that it is expected to extend towards building our country. A propelling reason underlying India's continued poverty and stalled pace of development has been the pocketing of unlawful revenue by politicians who should instead be utilising that amount for the development of our country. Take Lalu's case for instance, in the six scams he has been involved in, the laundered money is valued to be over Rs 260 crore. It is an astounding amount of money that could have been utilised to uplift the face of rural Bihar that continues to be plagued by rampant poverty, contiguity to endless diseases and inaccessibility to resources. Lalu is only a little speck on this large sea of corruption that continues to unfurl across every corner of our country. Coming back to the 2G scam, a total of Rs 1.76 lakh crore was laundered in the implementation of one scheme. Though the CBI special court did not find any defaulters, the CAG and the Supreme Court had said, without hesitation, that an enormous loss to the national exchequer was witnessed as the 2G allocation was rolled out during the UPA-II regime. In a country that still hosts over 23 per cent people living below the poverty line, these amounts of money make a greater difference than they would in a developed nation. Thought the BJP had greatly emphasised on this aspect of corruption before coming to power in 2014, they remain quite silent about how the absence of defaulters makes little sense when such damage to exchequer has been assured and telecommunications in India continues to suffer to this day. Jayalalithaa was a famed mass leader and even then, she was not exempt from corruption and money laundering. Sasikala still sits in jail for her conviction in a case of disproportionate assets. The Narada scam unearthed how mid-level leaders in Bengal were providing undue favours in exchange of large amounts of money. Corruption is endemic to our country, particularly to the politicians and bureaucracy. No work progresses in government offices unless a few notes are slipped in amid piles of paperwork. The idea of doing justice to the country or feeling pride in benefitting the country without scavenging for means to only further one's bank balance has been swept under bright red carpets, ornate with gold embroidery, all afforded at the cost of public exchequer. Even if the citizens pay their due taxes, rarely are those returned in services for the public. Politicians today accrue the least faith from citizens. A pick-pocket is better trusted than a politician—with his lack of pretence and limited conniving knowledge he will evidently steal what is in your immediate possession; unlike the politician who makes policies, legally takes your salary and pockets all of it while wearing the mask of a messiah.

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