Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari should also resign alongwith Yeddy.....

The reason I am saying this is that we, the people of India want the same standards to apply to all political parties. It hardly helps us common people when the BJP accuses the Congress of high corruption and demands the resignation of the PM and the Finance Minister.....and then when it comes to itself, it prefers not to apply the same standards to its own conduct. From the point of view of equity of justice, the BJP central leadership also must resign - alongwith the erring CM of course.

After all, Sushma Swaraj has a special relationship with the Reddy brothers, the kingpin of the mining scam. It was she in 2009 who helped settle the internal squabbling between the Reddy brothers and Yeddy at a time when the BJP’s sole state in the South could have fallen. Now she is at pains to deny her special relationship with these two. Interestingly, as evidence of squabbling between the two seniormost leaders of the party, she’s pointing her fingers at Arun Jaitley – who was the state in-charge when these two brothers were made ministers. Fair enough. Arun Jaitley should also resign on moral grounds. What about Nitin Gadkari and Advani? Surely, they were aware of what was going on in Karnataka? Surely they had read the interim report of the Lok Ayukta a few years back? Surely they had approved of the “not illegal, but immoral” remark that let Yeddy off the hook the last time. So if they want the PM and FM to resign, then maybe they should start first by resigning themselves? Or would they insist on protocol here? That the PM and FM resign first and then they will resign? Unfortunately, in politics, its not protocol that matters – we common people don’t care for protocol. We care for real action.....

I am of course speaking in jest when it comes to these central leaders of the BJP resigning. There is no hope of any of them taking the flak for the state. That’s what happens in politics. Prakash Karat hardly took the flak for overseeing the Left’s total erosion in the country. He will survive and by usual turn of fortunes, when the Left will gain back some modicum of strength, he will claim success for the revival! That’s how politics works. The minions take the blame. The bosses are protected. We see that in the Congress. We’ve seen that in the Left. And we’ve seen that in the party with a difference, the BJP!

On a more serious note, Yeddy should have been sacked last week when the Lok Ayukta’s report was leaked. Instead, the party adopted a rather silly line. It’s first failure was that none of the central spokespersons (Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Seetharaman, Siddhant Nath Singh, Chandan Mitra) came on to take the bullets on their chests. They put up some local Karnataka minister to defend his ilk. Then they mouthed some silly things about protocol – let the report be tabled first. Last night, Ravi Shankar Prasad passed it onto Nitin Gadkari when he said that the party president had decided that the party will take a suitable call after reading the 10,000 page report. Nice! Why couldn’t Nitin Gadkari have made a statement that “I am promising the people of India that if the report is indeed true, then the CM will quit on the day the report is tabled”? That would have settled the matter. And even now, the party will go into its usual “chintan baithak” to think about what course of action should be taken. Everyone knows what chintan they will do in the meeting – how to protect their government! And while we are on this subject.....was this the reason that the BJP was happy to mouth pleasantries at Anna’s Lokpal draft bill.....but not ready to give its official response to it? Were they just trying to hitch a free ride to Anna’s chariot while in reality, they couldn’t care less?

But let me be fair. This same rule must apply to the Congress as well. It sacked Raja after a lot of time had elapsed......and only when public pressure forced it to. It sacked Kalmadi after the country couldn’t tolerate him for one more second. It sacked Ashok Chavan after the story had already scorched the Congress. So while the Congress did eventually sack its tainted ministers, it should have done it earlier......after all, there was more than a reasonable element of doubt against these men. In politics, its perception that matters and that’s why the Congress is perceived to be the most corrupt party. Well, if it’s any solace to them, the BJP isn’t too far behind!

One other point. I keep coming back to the 2G matter. I have written many times earlier that it wasn’t really a scam. At least not the way it has been portrayed by the CAG and in media. I think it was a great government policy to give 2G spectrum free. It showed the vision of the government (both NDA and UPA) when it treated mobile telephony on par with material goods like kerosene and LPG which also are subsidized. There was no loss to the exchequer in the real sense. There was only a gain to the public when it got mobile phones so cheap. Cheap telco prices started a real revolution within the they could do business without even having an address. Besides, no telco made illicit or abnormal profits as a result of this free spectrum. Even if we stretch and say that there was a loss to the government, that money went to the people only......(of course, there was corruption, but in process violations and Raja should be nailed for that). Out here in Karnataka, it’s totally different. No one except the mining companies appear to have benefitted. By not paying due royalties to the government, the state government (and hence the people of the state) lost Rs 16,000 crores in just 4 years. Unlike in 2G, there was no policy issue here. This was out and out, blatant corruption, which benefitted a few individuals and one party. Wasn’t it the BJP that had coined the catch-phrase that in the Congress Raj, there was corruption “above” (air waves) and below (mining)????? Now it appears that the same applies to the NDA and BJP also – after all, the 2G taint is smearing the BJP as well and now the mining scandal has blown all over its face.

Some people have said that corruption in mining exists in all states where mining is a big business. It is my suggestion that all these states should be investigated. It is fairly certain that similar scams will be unearthed in those states as well. So whether it’s AP or Jharkhand or Bihar or West Bengal, its time to start a probe into the mining industries there.

The real truth is that no political party can build its imagery and positioning on the subject of being clean or fighting corruption. All are equally corrupt. In their defence, I will only say that political parties need money to contest elections and run their huge machinery. A wise man once told me parties need Rs 5 crores per Lok Sabha seat. If there are just 5 candidates for each of the 542 seats, that comes to some Rs 25000 crores. Add state elections and we need Rs 1 lac crores every five years......that’s why wee need electoral reforms and state funding of elections. Currently, all this money is raised illegally.....from private corporates and the likes. Obviously, the favors need to be returned when the party comes to power. I have said this in the past that maybe the “education cess” the government collects (the 3% surcharge) should be replaced with a similar sized election cess. After all, if electoral corruption reduces, education will take care of itself.....

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