Juggernaut of Corruption
The present scenario of rampant corruption, scandals, non-implementation of Supreme Court judgment about distribution of food to the poor, the politics of price rise during UPA-II remind us of the prophecy, rather doubts of Poet Rabindranath Tagore that the wheels of fate will some day compel the English to give up their Indian Empire. He had certain doubts when he further remarked that what kind of India will they leave behind, what stark misery? Jawaharlal Nehru was apprehensive of the working of parliamentary democracy only after seven years of Indians Independence—though corruption was there even during the period of Jawaharlal Nehru. Many academicians including Feroze Gandhi exposed it, yet it was not of high level. Many chief ministers and ministers had to leave office because of rampant corruption and irresponsible behaviour. Lal Bahadur Shashtri sacrificed his ministry as Finance Minister. Gulzarilal Nanda could not become a Prime Minister, since he was most honest. Mrs Gandhi approved that corruption is a worldwide phenomenon. The Jharkhand case added new dimension to corruption; the Bofors case was wider than the Nagarwala Case. Bengaru Laxman allegedly taking Rs one lakh, that too on camera, was justified by BJP as party donation, which was even shown in the accounts of the party.
The parliamentary democracy has now taken a different shape. No Prime Minister takes the responsibility of asking a minister to resign, charged with corruption. However, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee did not abdicate his responsibility and asked Buta Singh to resign. He even asked Prem Kumar Dhumal to get the resignation of Sukh Ram and did not give him any appointment for three days. Dhumal government, which was in minority, was put in the dock.
The coalition politics has become troublesome for the UPA government. Manmohan Singh had contested only one Lok Sabha election (South Delhi), and lost. It seems he does not have the confidence to win a Lok Sabha election. His position is based on the mercy of Sonia Gandhi. The present scenario shows scams after scam. There is no end to corruption. During UPA-I there was a big DDA scandal. Neither the minister concerned nor any other officer was held responsible. Besides this, there have been many irresponsible acts of the ministers and acts of corruption. In the short span of UPA-II, we have seen Adarsh Housing Society scam. Even the political bosses have not shown a scant respect for war widows. Rather attention was tried to be diverted against saffron organisations—even in 26/11. The government has not taken any action against Rahul Gandhi or Digvijay Singh for blaming RSS rather than Pakistan, against which the evidence has been provided. Instead of taking a proper action against them, the Congress has tried to shift blame. Whatever action the Congress-led UPA government took it was because of the pressure exerted by BJP/NDA—the entire Opposition and the media. However, the action had only been confined to removing Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, asking A Raja to resign, if DMK approves, and only a few raids on the premises of Radia and Kalmadi. These are the small actions taken by a weak Prime Minister. The role of the Opposition is to oppose wrong and immoral actions and to propose alternative actions, which it has given in the shape of JPC. But the government is indifferent to the Opposition’s demand.
In this background, I am reminded of 1970 when the former Congress Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh YS Parmar proposed pension scheme for Himachal Pradesh’s MLAs. Jan Sangh had only seven MLAs and Shanta Kumar was the general secretary of the party. He convened a meeting of his party MLAs and all the MLAs in one voice rejected this scheme, which was considered to be the first step towards corruption and against public service. He also denounced chief ministership in 1982 when there were 29 MLAs of BJP, and 31 of Congress. If he had tried it was not difficult for him to win over 6 MLAs but he was clean and never wanted to win them to his side by bribing them. He increased the BJP tally in Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir by his hard work but did not encourage them to increase tally through bribe. Madan Lal Khurana resigned from chief ministership of Delhi, though there was practically no charge against him. LK Advani voluntarily did not contest 1996 Lok Sabha elections on the Congress accusation of LK Advani being involved in Hawala case.
How can a weak PM, who cannot contest Lok Sabha elections, sacrifice his membership for his lapses? The Congress especially Manmohan Singh should prove that he is not after the post since he is a former teacher.
By Prof RN Pal