THE CITIZEN EDITORIAL | 30 JULY, 2017
Is Corruption Only Financial?
THE CITIZEN EDITORIAL
A great deal is being made out by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the Bharatiya Janata Party about the financial corruption of the Rashtriya Janata Dal Yadavs. And how in a bid to preserve his image, his commitment to a honest government, and of course to development that both he had the BJP have claimed as their own preserve, he had no choice but to resign. And to be re-elected by the BJP, thereby keeping his position as CM intact, of course with his image of probity and his dedication to clean governance.
Financial corruption has taken a heavy toll on Indian democracy, and development. The politicians ---of all hues-- have milked the system along with corporate partners, to varying degrees. It is also true that depending on the government in power, this pervasive corruption takes the form of my honesty versus your corruption, with the CBI and other tools used to chase and harangue those who were protected by previous regimes. A great deal depends on whether the corrupt are prepared to support the ruling dispensation of the day. If yes, their corruption becomes invisible as does that of the ruling party members. If no, their corruption is made stark with the CBI providing the backdrop.
This has been the practise of the Indian political system for a long while now. Corruption ebbs and wanes as per power, with the administration, the law enforcing agencies and at some levels even the courts in cahoots with the government of the day. So frankly, while corruption is always an exciting story to report on it does not sway the masses who have become fairly cynical over the decades about the political approach to this real malaise, that had corroded the foundations of this parliamentary democracy.
But corruption is not only financial. This is more easily seen, recognised and targeted. It is also in a strange sense benign, as even the corrupt speak out against corruption with considerable ease. Those who look away from the lynching of helpless individuals, beaten to death by mobs on allegations of beef, find it very easy to come together with all on financial improprieties, clucking their tongues and shaking their heads against those who steal from the public. Of course many of them don’t want to admit, even on this, that the list is far longer and more encompassing and covers even those who at any given time claim to be fighting corruption.
Perhaps the most insidious corruption is of political opportunism that we have seen over and over again in this country. Here too, as in financial corruption, the worst sufferers are the masses. In the one instance what is for their development finds its way into private coffers. In the other what they believe and vote for is snatched away by unscrupulous politicians citing ---usually reasons of probity--for their decision to dismiss duly elected governments or to shift political parties midstream and present a fait accompli to the voters who now no longer matter.
This is deep corruption, as it plays with the future of the people and the state. It makes a mockery of their will, it attacks the very tenets of the Indian Constitution where the people are placed at the top, it interferes with the mandate that is given full sanctity in this democracy, and it destroys trust between the people and the institutions of democracy. A government is elected, and another dismisses it. A government comes to power on the basis of a campaign, and after being elected moves to join those the people had rejected.
Nitish Kumar might of might not have collected undeclared monies, but he has certainly taken a morally and politically corrupt position today. Just a year ago he was in the villages of Bihar, hitting out at the divisive politics of the BJP, assuring the electorate that he would bring unity and security into the villages through the mahagathbandhan that included even then the same Yadav clan against whom cases of corruption were well known. In fact as Tejaswi Yadav has now asked him, why did he ally with them then, and why has he left them now.
In fact his is the invisible corruption, as if not more devastating and dangerous than financial bunglings. As the support comes at a time when Indian democracy is struggling to survive against a wave of dangerous falsehoods, lynchings, attacks and an increasingly authoritarian centre. Federalism that was curtailed under Congress governments is now tolerated only if regional parties are allies with the BJP or at least silent, and not confrontationist. The BJP has toppled Goa, Manipur, and now of course Bihar despite the peoples verdict for a different government.
Nitish Kumar cannot use the fig leaf of Lalu Yadav and his family’s corruption to justify a corruption that hits at the very tenets of the Constitution of India and weakens the edifice of democracy.
The tenets of the Constitution Indira Gandhi dismissed the elected governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karanataka, and even Jammu and Kashmir despite the peoples mandate. And never really recovered in any of these states from this draconian move. The BJP today has brought down three governments in quick succession--Goa, Manipur and now Bihar---