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HVK Archives: Leaders turn graft crusaders to outdo BJP

Leaders turn graft crusaders to outdo BJP - The Telegraph

Posted By Krishnakant Udavant (kkant@bom2.vsnl.net.in)
19 August 1997

Title: Leaders turn graft crusaders to outdo BJP
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: August 19, 1997

Crusade against corruption is the new mantra every leader is swearing by.

After the President and the Prime Minister called for a national movement
and a satyagraha against corruption, Mr Sitaram Kesri, Mr V.P. Singh and Mr
Jyoti Basu have woken up to the issue and flayed the corrupt.

Today, it was the turn of the Tamil Maanila Congress chief, Mr G.K.
Moopanar, to echo the Prime Minister, Mr I.K. Gujral.

It is apparent that once the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, and Mr Gujral
have taken the lead in launching a crusade, other politicians do not want
to be left behind.

With the survival of the coalition government always in doubt, leaders have
to be sensitive towards any flagrant issue that might figure prominently in
a midterm poll.

In Tamil Nadu today, Mr G.K. Moopanar said the "cancer of corruption" had
spread from politicians to the administrative system, and a cure could only
be found if the society as a whole participated in a movement. The tenor
of the speech and even its contents are almost identical to what the Prime
Minister and the President said.

The way politicians are lapping up the corruption issue, it is clear that
for once, despite his political naivete, Mr Gujral has hit the bull's eye.

The issue finds a ready audience in the urban middle class and the Prime
Minister's main objective would be to ensure that even the rural masses
lend their ears to his war cries.

Observers point out Mr Gujral would have been outwitted by seasoned
politicians had he chosen to harp on social justice and communalism.

Besides, the political scenario at present is such that neither issue merit
undivided attention immediately. Even the BJP has toned down on Hindutva.
Parties like the Janata Dal or its breakaway outfit, the Rashtriya Janata
Dal, have been unable to cash in on the social justice plank. In the event
of an early election, corruption would definitely be one of the foremost
issues and Mr Gujral's advisors have been preparing the ground in this

But, observers feel, Mr Gujral must be perceived to act against corruption
and a few tangible measures initiated by his government in this direction
would give him the image of an achiever as against one merely adopting

These steps will also enable him to hijack what has till now remained a
largely BJP issue. The BJP has been unfortunate in not receiving much
media attention despite its systematic attempt to hammer home the
corruption factor over the past several months.

Yesterday, the former Prime Minster, Mr V.P. Singh, told a private
television channel that if ministers and legislators failed to account for
their assets, they should be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment. In
Calcutta, the chief minister, Mr Jyoti Basu, said he was in complete
agreement with the jihad against corruption.

Mr. Basu's and Mr Singh's reactions show that Mr Gujral has stumbled on an
issue which will help him against the array of politicians within the
United Front, who are out to belittle him.

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