Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Stung by Sting Operation

Eleven (yes 11) MPs were expelled from the Lok Sabha as an outcome of the sting operation. Welcome step indeed. Time for our democracy to sit back and think for a while.

A strong Deterrent
If the tainted MPs were counting on short public memory to negotiate through the aftermath of the sting operations – they were in for a surprise. Parliament showed an uncanny swiftness in acting against them. The punishment meted out was also quite stiff – for tainted MPs it will be difficult to get selected again specially after having been expelled. For the first time (to the best of my memory) justice seems to have been delivered with the alacrity that it deserves.

Already, MPs are wary of even meeting strangers. Doomsayers are already predicting the start of the end of connectivity between the elected and those whom they represent. This is obviously too strong a reaction. Politicians who considered themselves above law were obviously shocked with the speed at which things unfolded. For the first time they are feeling responsible. The extreme caution is a part of that process. It will make every corrupt sit & think before we act.

Lest I be considered an optimist dreaming of utopia – this effect is going to be short lived as I pointed out in an earlier post here. Our MPs learn fast and soon there will be fool proof channels to ensure that palms are kept greased unnoticed. However – there is an opportunity for law makers to act and bring in some measures that can arrest the increasingly corrupt governance. Dare I say this first step was effective? Will the onslaught continue?

Divided House
What was disappointing in the whole episode was that this action of parliament was not unanimous. After the initial unanimous reaction of suspending the MPs from the party – some political calculation seem to have taken over. The BJP for whom the sting was arguably the most poisonous opposed expulsion tooth & nail. First they tried to bring in procedural delays by asking to refer the Bansal committee report to privileges committee of the parliament. Then they staged walkout against the motion. Excerpt from this report of TOI

Leader of Opposition L K Advani termed the expulsion as the parliamentary equivalent of "capital punishment"and "not commensurate with the act, definitely of corruption, but more of stupidity".

Now, now aren’t we hearing one of the great leaders of our time saying that the MPs were stupid to have been so indiscreet as accepting money in their own hands, specially after what happened to our own bangaru Laxman. So the people of India, be lenient to these stupid people as they are not expert at being corrupt. One would expect a leader of advani’s stature to stand up to the call of the times and make a big difference to the posterity.

No Mr. Advani – don’t for a moment think that I miss your point. I understand that you are just suggesting that the punishment is too strong. But sir we must NOT tolerate corruption in any form – even if it is stupidity. By doing what you suggest we will encourage future generations of corrupt leaders to portray themselves as mere stupid whose corrupt practices should be looked at sympathetically. You also owe it to your country to create precedence by which the scoundrels in this country do not consider politics as their ultimate resort to dodge accountability.

And yes do not think that this helps your party’s political fortunes. I am told that the BJP’s vote bank has a major chunk of middle class educated youth. If they are watching your words your party might soon be staring them in opposition disenchanted from the promises of the Ram Rajya your party always promised.

Post Script
One wonders, why did other parties (read the congress) kept their reactions moderate on Advani’s stupid statement. It would be a great time to take some sweet revenge for the way the BJP has targeted Sonia Gandhi. May be because everybody has some skeletons in their cupboards too. These are fluid times – no one knows what these channels might have up their sleeves next.