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Millennium Post

What good is our corruption talk?

It is as if Indian national politics cannot do without a constant dose of self-defeating irony. Barely a few days after the anti-graft legislation, the much-hyped and much-awaited Lokpal Bill was passed in Lok Sabha, the Maharashtra government summarily dismissed the Adarsh Society scam probe report, which accused politicians, including some from union cabinet top brass, of blatant violation and manipulation of rules in order to facilitate family and friends get undue allotment in the Mumbai housing society. The Prithviraj Chavan government in Maharashtra actually orchestrated the farce of tabling the 670-page report, which had scathing comments on four former chief ministers of the state, including Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Shivajirao Nilangekar and the current union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, under whose patronage the massive scam unfolded away from public eye. The allegations of quid pro quo services and breach of regulations by bureaucrats and ministers, which, the report brands as actions reeking of ‘greed, nepotism and favouritism’, have been brushed under the carpet by the Congress government in Maharashtra, in bitter contrast to the anti-corruption rhetoric parroted by the UPA government representatives in the Centre and Rahul Gandhi, the party vice-president and possibly the PM nominee from this camp. It is this singular and gaping irony that the spokespersons in the Congress and UPA are either choosing to ignore or give a stupendous spin to, much to the consternation of the citizenry that has already made it clear that it wants a change in such unethical and unscrupulous mode of governance. That Rahul Gandhi, who spoke at length on the ‘issue of corruption’ and how it’s eating our systems from within’ at a FICCI convention in the national capital on Sunday, skirted the Adarsh committee report absolutely, preferring to air hollow, holier-than-thou jargons on the need for transparency instead of starting the cleansing action from his home turf, hides a bigger ugly reality.

That our political fraternity can be complicit in cheating even the Kargil war widows and war veterans of their due reimbursement is out in the open. But what is even more galling is that the political class has completely lost its sense of propriety, not even trying to hide its nefarious activities behind the fig leaf of bureaucratic red tape and technicalities. In fact, the brazen disregard of the public outrage against corruption and price rise has already cost the Congress four states in the recently-concluded assembly polls. The face of Congress, both regionally and nationally, has been tainted with incalculable scams and scandals, which no amount of smart political stratagems can obfuscate or airbrush from public memory.

By not accepting the Adarsh committee report, Prithviraj Chavan has of course shielded Ashok Chavan and Shushil Kumar Shinde, who in Congress’ twisted logic of self-preservation, still appear to be defensible. In fact, unlike the accusations against Manmohan Singh in coal scam, the report on Shinde and Chavan are direct and incriminating, since it is under their knowledge and complicity that the war widows were ripped off their legal claims. That even Devyani Khobragade, the 1999-batch IFS officer in the eye of the current storm and diplomatic standoff between the US and India, is also a beneficiary of the Adarsh scam, bespeaks the range of the elite circuit that is fused with the state machinery, mutually reaping benefits while systematically depriving the larger public of their rights and shares.
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