Intoxicating political power
Even 66 years after the Constitution of India opted for a multiparty democratic system and adult franchise, the country is showing practically no signs of offering good governance to its people.
Instead, political parties, run mostly like family-owned businesses, are growing hungrier for power and money. And, elections – for both Assembly and Parliament – are exposing the worst of them, before and after the franchise.
The latest killings, lynching, hacking and heckling of political activists, innocent people and even journalists in the last few months, mostly at the instance of powerful political party satraps at various levels, point to the state of democracy in the country.
The events in states like Bihar in the last few days that witnessed the political killing of a senior journalist and presumably an innocent young motorist overtaking the vehicle of the son of a powerful political family in Patna are among the most horrifying. What will follow after the election results in the five states that are to be announced on May 19 looks rather scary considering the prevailing levels of crime and the mood of political criminals.
The political crime is increasingly vitiating the atmosphere in India and its pursuit for real democracy and good governance. Worse still, the political power is making a mockery of the investigating agencies at all levels – from the police and CID in states to ATS, NIA, CBI, ED, serious fraud office and economic offence wings and other enforcement bodies at the centre.
It is so much so that the findings of one enforcement agency of the centre under one political party rule are being overturned by another investigating agency under its political successor as “fake” or “rubbish”, be they in Gujarat, Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh. The people of the country are becoming increasingly confused about the truth. No one can be trusted. Not even a four-star General, Admiral or an Air Chief Marshal. The political system and politicians in power seem to have corrupted them all.
The administration is becoming increasingly spineless and politically pliable, sometimes even at the cost of the country’s national security. Questionable defence and economic deals spared few national leaders, starting from India’s Prime Ministers and their kin, including such prominent personalities as Pandit Nehru, VK Krishna Menon, TT Krishnamachari, Rajiv Gandhi and his wife, son and son-in-law.
Few are truly aware of how the country’s currently most condemned bank loan offender, Vijay Mallya, managed a prestigious Rajya Sabha membership from Karnataka, nearly unopposed by the state Assembly members, including Congress and BJP.
Mallya was given heroic ovation by Rajya Sabha members after he financially “rescued” some Mahatma Gandhi relics set for auction in the United States. No one bothered about the fact that such an act could have been performed by the government of India if it chose to. No one questioned Mallya’s actual source of funds. Like Mallya, another businessman member of Parliament, a Jindal scion, allegedly robbed the country of hundreds of crores of rupees in a coal block allotment scandal, but not before he managed to send in jail two senior TV journalists, exposing his role in the deal.
Mallyas and Jindals of India’s family-owned business could not prosper without support and backing of the power that be in the country’s political administration. Several state and national leaders at the levels of Chief Minister, Union Cabinet Minister, Ministers, MPs, MLAs, and elected municipality members have, in the past, gone to jail on charges of massive corruption across political parties and across the country, especially from the states such as Bihar, UP, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
But nothing seems to change the dirty and ruthless nature of politics in India, which is increasingly eating into the country’s bid to bring about an economic reform.Actually, India needs a strong political reform more than an economic reform. Without a meaningful political reform, economic reform will not deliver the desired goal. The presence of goons and corrupt businessmen in politics is a major concern to the society.
Corrupt business persons have mastered the art to embrace politicians in power, irrespective of their party affiliations while more and more musclemen like Pappu Yadav are finding their way to legislatures. It may be worth to recall what one of the country’s few former clean Prime Ministers, Inder Kumar Gujral, once remarked in Parliament that he had to look over his shoulders to find whether there was a criminal sitting in the benches behind him or not. Prime Ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Morarji Desai, and IK Gujral had been rare exceptions in Indian politics. Unfortunately, all of them had a brief stint as the country’s top political executive.
It is not surprising that the country’s print and television news media have, for long, remained nearly occupied with political crime and corruption. There is little development news in India’s daily media that attract the serious attention of the general public.
The news around political killings and corruption change in quick succession as new episodes of political crime and political corruption overtake the previous stories. Today’s news and debate on such saucy subjects soon become stale as new developments hit the headlines. How many TV news viewers and morning newspaper readers really remember the cases of disproportionate assets (DA) pending against some of the country’s top politicians for over a decade? Several of them held tops posts in the government and some are still holding.
The JD(U) leaders’ hi-profile, gun-toting son, who allegedly shot down a boy for overtaking his vehicle in Bihar a few days ago, is yet to be properly booked on charges of murder. Instead, a wall of defence is being built up around him to save him and his powerful parents belonging to the ruling party. The practice to shield political criminals and their corrupt ways to amass wealth goes on while they prepare for the next election to become the country’s most privileged people’s representatives and constitutional power.
(The views expressed
are strictly personal.)