Wednesday, February 8th, 2023 15:45:17

“India Against Corruption” Must Not Mean Large-Scale Corruption

By Dr Suresh Kumar Agrawal
Updated: September 1, 2022 8:48 am

The Aam Aadami Party which succeeded in capturing the throne of the Capital of the World’s largest Democracy- Delhi-on the basis of the mission ‘India Against Corruption’ seems to have corroded the image of a clean party when Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided more than 20 locations including the Residence of the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia over the allegations of corruption in the implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy2021-22 and with Court’s issuing orders to Sisodia to present himself in the Court. The now scrapped liquor Policy of the Delhi Government was originally proposed in 2020. After coming into effect in 2021, it changed the manner in which alcohol was sold in Delhi. Until then, only Government-owned liquor Vendors were permitted to sell alcohol. The New Excise Policy has introduced private players in the market.

The change marked the complete exit of the Delhi Government from the liquor business with 27% hike in Government revenue reaching almost 8900 crore rupees. However, the change came under fire when the Chief Secretary of Delhi Naresh Kumar found irregularities and procedural lapses in the new liquor policy. Under the garb of Coronavirus Pandemic, Rs 144.36 crores to be paid by the private liquor vendors were waived off. The deputy Chief minister who happens to be the excise minister also caused loss to the Excise Department and benefitted liquor licensees by waiving the import pass fee of Rs 50/ per beer case. All these changes were made arbitrarily and final approval from the Lieutenant Governor was not procured for the fear that he might reject the changes, considered illegal under the Delhi Excise Rules of 2010 and Transaction of Business Rules of 1993.

It is the fear of CBI probe that has compelled Kejriwal and Sisodia to link the CBI raids to their works in the education sector. The flipside of the scene is that even rightful actions of CBI have been questioned. Besides, AAP’s the so- called Corporate Culture has benefitted the private liquor barons and individuals at the highest echelons of the government leading up to Manish Sisodia. The CBI has brought to the front that the government of Delhi had proposed a rollback of the policy when the probe was initiated by the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing. The AAP’s claim that all scandals that have surfaced in the country over the past few years involve expropriation of common resources by corporations on a massive scale and that the plunder of resources, akin to what Karl Marx had characterized as “the primitive accumulation of capital” was made possible through the collusion of a number of corporates, politicians and bureaucrats has been found untrue in their own case.

AAP leaders’ rhetoric is that the popular revulsion against the co-option of all the mainstream political parties into a systematic loot of resources has propelled the anti-corruption movement and led to the emergence of Aam Aadami Party. The recent corruption charges, however, have eroded the party’s credibility. AAP’s political Pundits are enamored by the economic model of the US or the China. The fact is that both these economies are ridden with corruption and cronyism. It is for this reason also that the Government of India came out with the model “Atmanirbhar Bharat”. What is needed in India today is a political force that canchallenge the corrupt, undemocratic and deeply iniquitous status quo. Drastic reforms, both political and economic are necessary to make it happen.

AAP has divorced from its social contents of civil society activists, women, youngsters and well-meaning progressive people. Now, by and large the urban middle class people are the vanguard of this party. AAP’s terribly casteist, patriarchal and plutocratic inequality still remain to acquire the socio-cultural capital and institutional presence which allow a class of intellectuals from them. The Party has also failed to position itself as a post-Mandal Party which sees socialism as a means of ending caste discrimination, for corruption has eroded to its roots. If the Indian left’s traditional weakness was theoretical insistence operating like dogma, AAP suffers from a vacuum for its existence theoretically. This absent and pronounced theoretical frame causes AAP to sound arbitrary and resemble a front that is failing to ask important political questions.

The populism has eroded the very base of the AAP Government. AAP’s attempt to create a pragmatic ‘corporate culture’ has given rise to corruption. The AAP government that considers itself a movement for transparency has miserably failed even in adopting the legal procedure to enact laws- in the AAP’s diction“reforms”. Almost allthesereforms have been questioned and quashed by the Court of Law, and the Government of Delhi found guilty. In the Delhi liquor policy scam case also with the alleged corruption charges,the Enforcement Directorate is likely to file a money laundering case against Delhi deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. The CBI’s FIR states that Maish Sisodia and other accused in the case took decisions pertaining to the excise policy 2021-22 without the approval of the competent authority with “an intention to extend undue favors to the licensees post tenders”. Further it says that two payments of crores were made to the close associates of Sisodia by Sameer Mahendru, the owner of Indospirit, one of the liquor traders involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation of excise policy. AAP’s realization must now be to get itself out from its proclaimed “Corporate Culture” which has bred corruption.

 


By Dr Suresh Kumar Agrawal

(The writer is Professor & Head, Department of English, Maharaja Ganga Singh University, Bikaner.)

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