Congress, and the Culture of Corruption
The spate of corruption cases coming to light against Congressmen is an indicator of how deep the party has sunk into its own morass, but its violent rejection of the PAC report indicates that the Congress refuses to mend its ways even as its cancerous decent into disgrace continues unabated.
It would make for an arresting visual, pun intended, if we were to put all those implicated in the series of scams that have unfolded over the last fiscal, in a serial queue. It would be counted as a historic purging, for when else in India’s history were so many culprits been paraded before the nation, nay, the world, to expose just how deep the rot of corruption has set in, in our country.
But if only it were enough! After Mahendroo, Darbari, Ashok Chavan, A. Raja, Kani Mozi, and corporate honchos like Chandra and Balwa, more names are spilling out of the closet like falling dominoes. The Shunglu committee has since implied wrongdoing by the Congress CM in Delhi; now the Mumbai High Court has asked for investigations into the roles of former Congress CMs Shinde and Deshmukh in the Adarsh scam; Kalmadi has sought to implicate the then Congress Sports Minister M.S.Gill; Shahid Balwa has asked for the PM to be made witness and finally now that the PAC has categorically indicated the culpability of the PMO in Raja’s largesse. The resultant grid of corruption and the complex web of deceit and interdependent graft between Congress functionaries, allies and cronies makes it look like there is no place to hide.
Ironically, the Congress instead of entering into a phase of self abnegation, or at least a period of pretended penance, is baring its fangs at everything in its sight and the brunt of their fury is now being faced by a motley group of do-gooders who had set out to on a noble mission of bringing probity back to the centre of governance, and indeed politics. The manner in which party henchmen have selectively targeted not only the hapless activists but tried to discredit the entire civil society universe with their perverse logic – that civil society must stand up to similar scrutiny as they demand their targets – is downright dimwitted; clearly somebody forgot to say that they don’t run the country, occupy high positions and raid the treasury. On the other hand, even if the trumped up charges against the activists were to be true, it does not in anyway blight their rights to demand from those who claim to represent people in the houses of parliament or in other positions of relative power the probity that public office demands. It is particularly astounding when some of the party’s mouthpieces are actually a line of lawyers who should have at least been well up in the doctrine of rights and duties, or at least logic and law.
The churlish responses of the Congress mandarins, in an attempt to dent the opposition’s bravura have only showed them to be poor losers and addicted to the defence of graft. For instance, nobody understands why the Finance Minister is so panic stricken every time he has to talk about black money or its flight out of the country or bringing the culprits to book. Even Julian Assange looks far more self assured about bringing the guilty to book than him. The somnolent PM looks like wringing his hands behind his back even as it has become open season. The congress is in turmoil, the state elections are casting a long shadow over its attempts to find a plausible position or to reposition itself and it is left with ad-hoc reactions and knee jerk bellicosity even as the nations struggles with what is fast becoming a game changer.
This carcinogenic growth of corruption, whether due to the hubris that the Congress brings to governance each time it is in power or due to its traditional foundations of political usury, not only threatens to eat away at the innards of our institutions, it brings us dangerously close to a general collapse of governance that we are already seeing resulting in insurgencies across the country if we do not immediately bring it under control. But as the saying goes, if you want to get to the bottom of things, sometimes you have to start at the top.
This week we were treated to fuller reports of how the Prime Minister was made well aware that his minister of telecommunications was preparing to particulary ignore him and proceed with his villainous plan. Now the PAC has verified that. What more do we need to proceed impartially in the matter? A CEO of a BPO in Bangalorewas implicated merely because a sub-contracted cab driver raped one of their employees. No prior knowledge, no culpability, no motive, no involvement, not even dialogue between the two. But a PM who knows, who is in charge, who attempts to rein in, who fails, who is advised by his colleagues, who expresses helplessness, blames coalition politics, shows regret but remains untouched by the crime! This blinkered view of justice is all pervading aided by an investigatory agency that looks more and more like a mopping up operation each time someone spills the beans on this government. Kalmadi is guilty, Shiela Dixit is not. Kani Mozi is guilty, Dayalu Ammal is not. A. Raja is guilty, the PM is not. We are not only shaming ourselves once again, we are establishing new benchmarks in double standards and institutionalizing feudal justice. The general consensus is already out and much like a fixed match, the internet is ablaze with the results of the game: Kalmadi and Raja are scapegoats to protect the big fish and they will turn hostile the moment the elections results are out.
But there are greater dangers ahead. The desperation of the Congress, squeezed into a hole it dug for itself, its dichotomous dalliances with civil society, its insistence on seeing development through the prism of sectoral advantages to caste, community and creed are all breeding a new monster of demonic proportions that threatens to infect the body politic with such pervasiveness that it would take decades to turn back the clock on it.
With its natural contempt for institutions, the Congress has continued to indulge in haute politics until the end refusing the see the writing on the wall and putting a price on the outcomes of the elections in the states. It augurs poorly for a country when justice becomes a pawn in electoral gamesmanship. After a point the argument of winning elections does not hold to justify the existence of a government. There is a law of morality, of ethical rights too and once that is breached no amount of political gerrymandering can ever justify the continuation in power, universal suffrage be damned.
In that context, the charges thrown at the opposition of attempting to destabilize the government are ludicrous. For a government in this amount of muck, it is the duty of the opposition to not just destabilize, but to dethrone it. The Congress has exposed its weak underbelly to the world and we don’t need to see more to declare the party delinquent. The verdict is clear. The Congress has lost the right to lead this nation. And that is that.
An edited version of this post has appeared in The Pioneer, Delhi edition on Saturday 30th April, 2011 under a different headline.
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