Millennium Post

Thankfully Buddha failed to smile

The result of the assembly polls in Haryana has warmed my heart. Not to be mistaken to be a Narendra Modi Bhakt, the results have nevertheless left me happy as several politicians who have courted corruption and committed other criminal acts without any feeling of culpability have fallen by the way. I was certainly worried the way Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), whose head and deputy head are both cooling heels after being convicted in a corruption case, was showcasing ‘confidence’ of its chief minister taking the oath from behind the bars and running the government from jail.

Well it’s unlikely that the Centre would have allowed anything of that kind even in the case of INLD getting majority but it would have certainly created a constitutional crisis and leading to a situation of uncertainty. Your reporter was shaken when the youngest member of Lok Sabha, Dushyant Chautala, who was worsted in the assembly polls, showed the gumption of telling a television reporter during the campaign that when George Fernandes could be sworn-in as a minister from behind the bars, why not his grand-father Om Prakash Chautala.

Poor socialist veteran George is not keeping good health and not in a position to answer the political novice. To put the record straight, Feranandes was never convicted the way and on the charges that Chautala patriarch Om Prakash and Dushyant’s father Ajay have been. George was charged of ‘anti-national activity’ during the Emergency and named in the infamous Baroda Dynamite case.

Those who know Indian history would recall that it was the way of then government at the Centre to get back at its political rivals and certainly it had nothing to do with taking money in the recruitment of teachers. The television reporter of course did not know history and nodded in approbation to what the Chautala scion had to say. Though two other members from the Chautala family have managed to win – Naina Singh from Dabhwali and Abhay Singh from Ellenabad, I am glad that several with not too glorious antecedents were made to bite dust.

Among them are Savitri Jindal, the chairperson of the OP Jindal group, whose companies owned by her son Naveen Jindal have been involved in coal scam cases and facing several CBI investigations into their dealings. On the day the results came out, the CBI slapped a fresh case on Jindal companies. The CBI filed the 36th FIR in connection with its probe into the coal blocks scam.

The fresh case was registered against Jindal Stripes Limited, Jindal Steel and Power Limited and unknown public officials for alleged criminal conspiracy and cheating under the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Soon after registering the new case, the CBI carried out searches at four locations in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh.

Similarly Gopal Kanda, a former minister in Bhupinder Singh Hooda government, too was made to bite dust from Sirsa seat. Kanda is accused in abetting suicide of one of his woman employee. Geetika Sharma, a former air hostess with MDLR, the airlines owned by Kanda, committed suicide on 5 August 2012. She left two suicide notes accusing Kanda of harassment. She also alleged that Kanda was having an illicit relationship with another woman, Ankita, with whom he has a child.

Allegations have been made that before her suicide Kanda sent a letter to Emirates saying that she had been a poor employee and had defaulted on a loan, and her family said that he had sent her threatening e-mails using several identities. Though Kanda denied the allegations and stated that he had encouraged Sharma by sponsoring her on an MBA course, he could never explain why she was also made the chairperson of the trust at Kanda’s behest which managed an international school at Sirsa.

Following the incident, Kanda resigned from the post of home minister in Haryana. Delhi Police took him in custody, with charges including abetting the suicide, criminal conspiracy and criminal intimidation, and sending false electronic messages. On 15 February 2013, Geetika’s mother, Anuradha Sharma also committed suicide. She chose the same method of suicide and left a suicide note at the same place as her daughter. On 4 March 2014, Kanda was granted bail when a charge of sexual exploitation was dropped by the Delhi High Court. Soon after his release Kanda immersed himself into poll campaign even floating a partyironically promising safety for woman. Thankfully, the voters did not get carried away by his promise and decided to show him the door.

Gladly another character called Chander Mohan too was waylaid by the voters. Son of former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal, this fellow was deputy chief minister of the state when he decided to elope with state’s additional advocate general and abdicate his political office. He even changed religion to overcome the need to divorce his wife. Later his affair went sour, with the lady in love committing suicide and Chander Mohan reconverting from Islam to Hinduism.

During the poll campaign, Chautala, who was out on bail on health grounds, had claimed their mission was to fulfil the dreams and vision of his father and former Haryana CM Devilal. Chautala had said that Devilal, who served as country’s Deputy Prime Minister, had ‘sacrificed the post of PM for the sake of (former PM) V P Singh. ‘History shows that all the greats -- be it Lord Ram, Krishna, Mahavira, Buddha...all of them made sacrifices,’ Chautala had said. I am grateful Buddha has refused to smile on Chautala family.

Post Script. After the nuclear test at Pokhran, nuclear scientist Homi Setha had called Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and said, ‘Madam, the Buddha has finally smiled.’ I am glad Buddha refused to smile on clans of Haryana in the polls held this autumn.

The author is with Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice, and is Consulting Editor, Millennium Post



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