December 18, 2005


Convenient moral standards

When a sting operation reveled Member of Parliaments accepting bribes for asking questions, the political parties lost no time to suspend the MPs involved. Cutting across multiple ideologies, the suspension gives us a false feeling that all the political parties have a zero-tolerance policy to corruption.

Last time all the parties agreed on a single matter was some three years back. Honourable Supreme Court made it mandatory for candidates contesting Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and assembly election to disclose their criminal, financial background and educational qualifications. Respecting the judgment Election Commission gave powers to returning officers to reject applications not complying these terms. NDA govt came up with a bill to nullify this directive. The bill also sought to reject applications of the candidates only if the person has committed TWO "heinous" crimes. Earlier cap of one was too low, it seems. And, what is a "heinous crime"? Murder, rape, treason, kidnapping for ransom, dacoity, dacoity with murder, drug-smuggling and "causing death by terrorist acts"!

So the MPs can commit a "heinous crime" and still need not worry about being debarred from electoral process. But once they make it to LS or RS, political parties want them to observe highest standards ethics in public life.

A recent study showed a large number of MLAs in Bihar, again, spanning all the parties, have fearful criminal records. But that does not prevent BJP and the likes to show such fake sense of morality.

On a related note, I believe the entire sting operation was a useless exercise. When so much data about the past background of MPs, MLAs is in the public domain, it hardly makes sense to spend "eight months and lakhs of rupees" to add a footnote in their already tainted careers.

Remember Ajit Jogi? He was expelled from the party for much graver crime. But Congress has magnanimously absolved him of all the wrongdoings. He is among the higher echelons of the party. Remember Judeo? He is enjoying the inertia of law enforcing agencies. The shelf life of this sting operation would be less than a month which, I think, is two weeks more than it actually deserves.

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