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Ban(s)alisation of politics

BAN(S)ALISATION OF POLITICS By Prem Chandran Someone takes a crore or two of slush money, and all hell is let .....




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05-05-2013
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Ban(s)alisation of politics


BAN(S)ALISATION OF POLITICS

By Prem Chandran

Someone takes a crore or two of slush money, and all hell is let loose. What a joke! Worse, almost everyone is asking for the resignation of a Union minister because the man who took the penny happens to be his nephew! Phew! Can there be more of a comic relief than this? What is a crore or two, or even 20 crore, for a Union minister or for his kin? Congressmen in the capital are possibly laughing their hearts out. Some joke this!

However, the irony of it all is so stark that one is left breathless. Pavan Kumar Bansal was widely projected to be one of the laidback, less corrupt among the political class, a gentleman of sorts, and one who was hand-picked by the Prime Minister himself to run the show at Rail Bhavan, so as to set things ‘right’ in a slot where a lot of ‘wrongs’ have happened over the years. Now, he is in the centre of a scandal which, by normal stretch of imagination, would mean nothing less than a wholesale loot of the already ailing Indian Railways. The two crore, or the promised total of 10 or 20 crore, was just a ‘lubricant’ for the long haul.

Shockingly too, the man who is seen to have tried to bribe his way into a top slot in the Railway Board was to be heading the vigilance cell at Rail Bhavan, the main task of which is to check corruption. That’s how ‘right’ men are put into the ‘right’ slots in our country’s governance process.

The shock, though, is minimized by the fact that the Railways is already a byword for corruption and inefficiency. It is among the many government-run entities that are neck-deep in loot from time immemorial, a reason why it has over years been turned from a largely profit-making entity to a major burden on the government exchequer, and its services turning from bad to worse. The railway board itself is known to be spiriting away large sums meant for rail development -- through multiple means -- and much of the ill-gotten money ends up in the hands of politicians who preside over its destiny, large amounts also going directly into the pockets of non-political performers – top officials included. The present expose involving the Bansals -- with CBI busting a major racket -- only reconfirms our worst concerns in this respect.

Bansal, by now, has bared his fangs. Look at the trapeze act he is performing to remain in saddle. No human being with any sense of shame would speak or act the way he did once the bribe issue involving his nephew came into public domain. That this nephew was among the main campaign managers for his last electoral battle from Chandigarh to the Parliament is no secret; rather, the association between the two is common knowledge. Which, however, does not prevent the thick-skinned politician that Bansal is to outrightly reject any possibility of a link between the two. Rather, Bansal is trying to downplay things by seeking to establish before us that there had been no “business deal” between him and his nephew, and between the “two” families, and to that extent there was no reason why he should feel any sense of guilt whatsoever. Really?

And who comes to Bansal’s defence other than the Congress stalwarts in Delhi? Who, other than Sharad Yadav, the right-hand man of none other than Bihar’s milk-and-honey chief minister Nitish Kumar? Sharad Yadav has a valid reason, or reasons, to back the dirty deed, be it of the Bansals or of the Kumars, and there’s no mystery involved in it. Politicians of his profile are here to serve a purpose or two; and there’s so much filth down the political drain. His arguments can sell, and sell well, in select areas, and also in the voiceless world of Bihar’s poor – comprising men and women who line up before polling stations periodically and dutifully and help the politicians of his ilk survive and prosper; but not beyond. Which is also why the party he kind of leads is having a reach only in the dark alleys of Bihar, where there are captive crowds, and in a few slots of a similar nature elsewhere too.

Sharad Yadav’s mistake, however, is that he fails to understand that there is a world beyond him and beyond the indefensible men whom he seeks to defend – one of whose action of allegedly bribing his way into the Railway Board has come to us now as a bolt from the blue. This official had been with the establishment for ages. And, what would he not have done until he was caught red-handed is anybody’s guess. And, aren’t we as a nation putting up with the acts and abuse of authority of the large army of bureaucrats on a daily basis, because we have no other go, and there is no one, not even the media, to expose their dirty deeds other than when, on the rarest of the rare occasions, a CBI lays a trap?

One need not have to be a financial wizard to gauge the extent of loot that was possibly in the making. Someone who is ready to pay a bribe of 20 crore to get into a slot would not be satisfied, by conservative estimates, with anything less than 20 to 100 times the amount he gave as bribe. This would mean the bureaucrat apparently aimed at making billions in due course. And, if one individual functionary hopes to spirit away as much from a single entity called the Railways, electrification or no electrification, how much would the rest of the dramatis personae in India’s corrupt establishment be content with, including the political bosses at the top level who preside over the destiny of both the Indian Railways and the nation itself, through multiple deals?

It is understandable why the Congress party found, prima facie, that no serious wrong has happened. As steel minister Beni Prasad Verma said, these are “small amounts for a central minister.” When billions and billions are going down the drain by multiple ways, under a sweet, artificially propped up leadership, does this small amount matter? Or, does anything matter in a country that’s up for grabs; a country that has, in the past over 10 years, turned into a paradise for outright loot of the public exchequer?

Yet, for the Congress, why worry when slums decide the fate of India, and minorities can tilt the balance in its favour, and money can buy votes and get party candidates elected? And, today, starkly, money buys votes even in the politically hyperactive states like Bengal and Kerala, what is still thought to be bastions of the Communists. And, the news for you is that, when elections come, even Communists are paying through their nose to buy votes and win seats! They can do it because they too carry with them the spoils of power, though in a smaller way as compared to the Congress or the BJP for that matter.

So much for the joke that Indian democracy is turning out to be! --premcee@gmail.com

Last edited by Premchandran; 05-07-2013 at 10:27 PM
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