Monday, May 20, 2013

Ex-BSP member Kushwaha indicted for corruption; but spotlight should be on the BJP….

It was in Jan 2012, just a few months before the UP state elections, that the BJP had “recruited” Babu Singh Kushwaha from the BSP. Kushwaha was accused of corruption in several cases, but the BJP had had no qualms in making this “opportunistic acquisition”. They would have fielded him for the elections, hoping that his candidature would get the party some extra support, except that there was an all-around furore about this issue. Don’t forget that at about the same time, the BJP’s central unit was “solidly” supporting Anna’s movement to cleanse public life of corruption!

Sensing trouble, Kushwaha had put his BJP membership in “abeyance”. Interestingly, it was not the BJP that had rejected Kushwaha’s membership, it was he who had stepped aside. Looks like there indeed is honor amongst thieves!

Well, the same Babu Singh Kushwaha has now been indicted by the UP Lok Ayukta in a Rs 1400 crore scam. Incidentally, this figure of Rs 1400 crores is the Lok Ayukta’s figure. Had the CAG investigated this scam, the figure would have publicized (through a press conference, even!) as being a Rs 4500 crore scam; because that was the scale of the overall spending. The CAG has often forgotten that corruption figures are usually a % of the total spend figures! But returning back to Kushwaha, the former mining minister of the BSP government (along with another senior ex-minister) skimmed off Rs 1400 crores from a public project. The man didn’t even spare the project so valuable to his party (the erection of five dalit memorials in Lucknow and Noida). In fact, he showed that anything – and I mean, anything – is gair ground for corruption!

The focus of this piece however is not on Babu Singh Kushwaha. It is on the BJP and its “extreme comfort” with corruption and corrupt leaders. At the time the BJP inducted Kushwaha into its cadre, the UP Lok Ayukta’s report was not out. Yet, what was known about him was damning enough. This is what Wikipedia reports about him “On April 7, 2011, he was forced to resign after being implicated in the murder of two Chief Medical officers BP Singh and VK Arya. It was alleged that their honesty was coming in the way of a political mafia who were skimming off large sums from the Health services.” So corruption escalating into murder is something that the BJP is comfortable with. That’s not reason enough to remove a member from the party; nor to stop the “acquisition” of new members!

The focus of this post is also on the comfort of the party with political double speak. I wrote a few days back about how the party had no qualms in first inducting gun-toting Gujarat MP Vitthal Radadiya into the party, and then nominating him for the Porbandar bypoll. It was the same MP that the BJP had derided (BJP spokespeople speak very forcefully!) a few months back when he was caught on camera threatening a poor toll-booth ticketing clerk…..because Radadiya then was with the Congress. Yet, when an election opportunity beckoned, the party welcomed him with open arms.

My complaint is not that the BJP is ok tolerating corruption. Every party has its share of the corrupt and the criminal. But only the BJP makes a big deal about corruption and pretends that it is a party with a difference. If it really was so different,  then what compelled it to induct Kushwaha in the first place? And what compelled Advani and Sushma Swaraj and co. to tolerate, and in fact encourage, Yeddy and Reddy and co. in Karnataka? And what action will they take against Chouhan in MP who appears to have doled out large parcels of land at cheap rates to his “parivar”?

What really irks me is that on issues of corruption, the BJP stalls Parliament. Worse, it claims that stalling Parliament is a legitimate way of running a democracy. It holds the government responsible for the policy paralysis that follows. There are more than 100 bills awaiting Parliament’s approval. What can the government do if these bills are not discussed and passed in Parliament because it is stalled? The BJP forgets that while these bills reflect the political ideology of the ruling party (and hence it feels compelled to skuttle them), they also reflect the desperate needs of the people. Food security may not be something that the BJP’s affluent and well fed members understand, but surely – if they stepped out of TV studios and air conditioned offices – they would see the poor wanting these measures?

Besides, some of the actions of the BJP are absolutely brazen. It assumes a “do what you can” attitude. Take an example. The BJP appointed Modi’s trusted man Amit Shah in charge of UP. Now Amit Shah is an under-trial, for the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. This is what Wiki says “He is currently under judicial bail as one of the accused for kidnapping and encounter killing by the State Police of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kauserbi and their friend Tulsiram Prajapati. The Supreme Court has directed that while his bail is under challenge, he is not permitted to enter his home state of Gujarat where he may influence the investigations as he was the Home Minister during the encounter killing”. The BJP claims to respect the SC. At least that’s what it publicly states. Then did it not understand the real intent of the SC’s words? If Amit Shah cannot be trusted not to tamper with evidence, can he be trusted with leading a clean campaign in UP? Isn’t the SC’s directive fairly clear – that this man should “rest” until the charges against him are proved one way or the other? But Amit Shah is Modi’s personal favorite. Amit Shah is capable of turning UP into a cauldron of communal hatred, the way he has made Gujarat one. Amit Shah is invaluable in BJP’s politics; the SC can be ignored for a bit.

The real truth is that the Kushwaha indictment by the UP Lok Ayukta stings the BJP as much as it does the BSP. By admitting the man into its party – as also Radadiya in Gujarat – it showed just how comfortable it was with corruption and double speak….

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