Friday, February 3rd, 2023 19:40:51

Sisodia in a Soup : Crime, Corruption and Crony Capitalism

By Prof. Tapan R. Mohanty
Updated: September 1, 2022 9:31 am

The recent CBI raids and ED actions on several opposition leaders can be viewed as a curtain raiser to the impending general elections in 2024 as well as elections in few states. In fact, if the politics of bulldozer is to bulldoze the economic backbone and communal zeal of unscrupulous elements then it seems now that the routine CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) raids and ED (Enforcement Directorate) investigations are intended to destroy the economic and ethical foundations of opposition political parties and its important leaders. The raids on Partho Chatterjee, Satender Jain and now on Manish Sisodia highlight the nexus again between politicians, bureaucrats and business mafia. The conviction and prosecution of former Secretary of Ministry of Coal, in illegal allocation of coal mine during UPA regime, the conviction of former Chief Secretary of Jharkhand in fodder scam and seizer of money in the house of a secretary to Jharkhand government establishes the truth beyond any reasonable doubt.

The question then is it a political vendetta or law taking its own course or both? The common allegation by opposition has been that the party in power at Union i.e., the BJP is misusing it power to browbeat, intimidate and topple non-BJP governments and destroying opposition across India. Thus, negating citizen’s choice and hence damaging democracy.The BJP counters this by highlighting the inherent contradictions in the opposition parties, their internal squabbling and follies including high level corruption. However, the truth lies between and beyond these two narratives though both narratives have some grains of truth. An independent observation and systematic analysis of the facts and chain of events will certainly help in unearthing the truth and put the facts before the public. However, before proceeding further, it would be pertinent to observe that there are essentially two dimensions to the drama, one that is played for public i.e. raids in houses, cars, etc., and the collection of evidence. What we see in television was drama but beyond the public gaze what the astute sleuths did was collection of substantiative evidence. Without any evidence mind you me, the central government and its agencies would not have dared to bare the strongest vault of AAP.

The impressive mandate and sustained entrenchment of BJP in power as single party has forced many regional satraps and local players to submit themselves to the dominance of BJP as a matter of facts. In fact, the tie up between BJP and JD (U) was based on this assumption but the failure of the marriage of convenience between the two especially after the fall of MVA (Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi) government has create a panic. The silence of BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) and the tacit understanding between BJP and BJD (Biju Janta Dal) shows two things, one the opposition parties are not harassed and their leaders are not persecuted. But the gradual weaning of power and influence of junior partners in a BJP coalition has created a fear of elimination among the smaller parties which is natural event in Matsyana (the big fish eating the small fishes in a pond). This has forced TMC (Trinamool Congress), DMK (Dravid Munetra Kazhagam) and TRS (Telangana Rastriya Samiti) to oppose tooth and nail. The matter becomes worse because these parties happen to be parivarvaad party (family-based organizations). The rising space of BJP and its organizational presence in West Bengal and Telangana has certainly emboldened it to take them head on while its relative organization weakness and lack of popular based in Tamil Nadu and Kerala meant it has to wait and watch. More often than not as in case of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra the opposition offers BJP a chance to beat them in their game because of their own insecurity, conflict and hunger for power. In this context, Kejriwal and Sisodia’s claim seems farfetched because first it comes after the incarceration of Sisodia and secondly, BJP won’t bite its own foot where the chance to form a government by weaning away a majority government and that is clear from the fiasco in Rajasthan.

The trouble for AAP is result of the over ambitiousness of Keriwal and its compulsion to retain Delhi by engaging BJP elsewhere. The failure of TMC in both Tripura and Goa in its fight against BJP and AAP in UP and Goa is result of this streak. It will be wrong to call its self inflicted injury because in their defeat and failure lies the success of their strategy, a sort of gorilla warfare in politics albeit with a heavy casualty. However, the AAP’s success in Punjab and its plan to use Sachin Pilot to plot a defeat for BJP has put the cat among pigeons in BJP even though its not out in open. The BJP was not a major player in Punjab for which it has to blame itself but the absolute victory of AAP meant that BJP has to trade cautiously in north India to checkmate AAP and limit its footprints.

Coming to the second issue regarding the culpability of AAP in corruption it is imperative to note that both are interrelated. Irrespective of the defense and counter arguments of AAP leaders the fact and public perception is that there is a prima facie case. The incarceration of Satender Jain and imprisonment of more than half a dozen of its MLAs highlight the deeper malaise in AAP. As we are finding to our horror a growing Congressization of BJP in terms of recruitment of turncoats, promotion of family line leadership, high command culture and appropriation of ill-gotten wealth, the vice has crept too to APP as well. In fact, it’s a shame to see that both BJP and AAP have started their journey calling for value based, corruption free and ethical government but have done the opposite.

The massive advertisement and growing individual cult only highlight the failure of internalization of democratic values and, consequent self-galvanization of cadres. To sustain these two there is immediate requirement of money, hence, the need to engage in nefarious practices. The soup where Sisodia in particular and AAP is general is because they have dug their own grave. It is just not that they shouted for good governance and corruption free government but they preferred to shout rather too frequently and too loudly against the government in power and forgotten that those who live in glass houses don’t pelt stone. The CBI and ED are not always tools of oppression but they too can be used as instruments of intimidation especially when you give them handle to latch on, the AAP despite seven years in power probably forgot that logic. Unfortunately, for them the Courts have not let them ride over the storm, if we read the apex Court’s PMLA judgment. If instead of SC, it was EC or CVC by now opposition parties have roasted them alive but they are trading with caution and here lies the public perception of they being in the wrong side of the law. In Pareto’s terms the AAP played the lion role too soon and too fast to torpedo its own house.

The BJP’s problem has been failure of its publishing, advertising and media blitz machinery to go for the kill else the favourable Pegasus judgement and loose tongued remark of Tejaswi Yadav would not have gone unnoticed. It is high time that BJP functionaries demand that the entire session that opposition made a washout should return the expenses, their fees and freebies returned to the state exchequer. This will be right step both in terms of deepening democracy, accountability and ensuring the active functioning of legislature for which they are paid and elected. Alas! Instead of looking at the bigger benefits we are chained to ED and CBI, which now needs both independence and regulation.


By Prof. Tapan R. Mohanty
(The author is a Professor of Sociology at National Law Institute University Bhopal.)

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