Corruption is corrosive. It not only nibbles at the root of honest economic enterprise but also erodes the moral fibre of the people. The will to combat the ill ebbs slowly but surely, in the end leaving only the vanguard of protesters tilting at the windmills or members of the palace guard the — too clever by the half — trying to swagger their way out of the messy siege.
“These are complex issues”. We are told, “There are constitutional provisions that are sacrosanct, even a schoolboy knows that only Parliament can legislate, then there are courts that must remain independent.”
Kapil Sibal has the unique genius to reduce serious issues to a puerile school debate in which scoring points takes precedence over everything else. Scornfully and smirking he warns the much less intelligent compatriots that what Anna and his team are trying is to set up a parallel government and why this can’t be allowed without violating the basic structure. He is obviously ignorant of the existence of NCERT textbooks. For a generation these have unravelled the ‘complexities’ of our constitution to adolescents and young adults. The doctrine of its basic structure, scheme of fundamental rights and directive principles of state are part of the syllabus at Class X. Most adult Indians know that it is not exactly rocket science that is being debated at the moment.
At times the poor media is blamed for exaggerating differences and queering the pitch of negotiation, on other occasions it is the bogey of communal forces lurking in the shadows that is raised hopefully to unite the nation behind ‘the most honest prime minister in the world’ and the Congress president who has renounced the throne of India but not stopped showering khairat or baksheesh on her people — the RTI and the NAC. Encounters with the press have ceased to be even entertaining.
No one disputes that it’s the prerogative of the legislature to enact laws. What the bone of contention is the inability or unwillingness of Parliament to do so. Not only in the matter of Lokpal but the Women’s Reservation Bill too have met with resistance. It is pernicious to suggest that a government in power that survives only through a shamelessly cobbled majority has the irrevocable mandate of the people to rule undisturbed and without any legal fetters for full five years. Any one protesting peacefully and under the protective regime of fundamental rights can’t simply be branded an enemy of the people or accused of treason.
Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Punjab are ruled by non-Congress parties or parties in the opposition to the Congress-led coalition in New Delhi. In Kerala, the Congress hangs on by the skin of its teeth. When Congress spokespersons go on a rampage (in damage control mode) and assault the irresponsible Opposition, they seem to forget that they are not the representatives of majority of Indians.
The bullying stance of some senior central ministers is certainly not indicative of their confidence but only exposes a bad case of freight (staged or real it doesn’t matter) resulting in frayed tempers and recklessly loose tongue. They paint with tainted brush — bloody shades of saffron — anyone who dares open his mouth about corruption in high places.
Sibal raises the spectre of ‘parallel government’ at the drop of the Gandhi cap. The legal eagle soaring high on his flight of fancy forgets conveniently that the real problem in the UPA II raj is lack of governance (at the Centre) or bad governance. Corruption is rampant and has assumed such virulently malignant form because the machinery to combat it — CVC, CAG, CBI etc — has been all but wrecked by those in power. The overzealous defence lawyer never tires of ‘checks and balances’ in our constitutional scheme glossing over how his party has tried to subvert institutions like the PAC, the CAG and to ride roughshod over dissent regarding the appointment of the CVC. Parliament, he says is supreme; why not, then let Parliament debate this issue? What is the need to postpone the monsoon session by a month? No one is going to be fooled by citation of ‘precedents’ in this matter.
Forget the canards about ‘parallel government’. The UPA government supposedly in place is hardly visible. Food grains are rotting as millions go to bed hungry every night with starvation death staring them in the face. The NAC, blessed by Soniaji, is content to present a draft of the food security bill with no place. No Congressmen can be expected to have the courage to even whisper in this context that lawmaking is Parliament’s prerogative. Guwahati burns as squatters are evicted from forestland, and large tracts of land in several states are virtually controlled by Maoists who demonstrate the impotence of the government routinely by blowing up railway lines and abducting and killing police and paramilitary personnel by impunity.
There was a time, when the Union home minister was constrained to offer his resignation owning moral responsibility for the failure to cope with, what the prime minister had called, the most serious threat for the nation’s security. But that shining moment has passed without leaving behind even a fading afterglow. Barely a day passes without a fresh scam breaking out. The CAG report on the RIL gas deal can’t be brushed aside as brusquely as Jaipal Reddy has tried to do by blaming ‘sensation mongering opposition leaders’. Allegation of bugging the Union finance minister’s office by someone in government — maybe a Cabinet colleague — or a corporate entity are much too serious to be dismissed out of hand as ‘diversionary disinformation by BJP’. The Queen’s Gambit appears to have misfired grandly much before the 1914 trial of strength, wit and nerves.
This hasn’t stopped a worthy courtier from indulging in the not so royal but exciting sport of kite flying suggesting that the crown prince is ready to take over from Singh who is King.
Do we take it that the End Game has begun?