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A land of impunity

A land of impunity

Author: V Sundaram
Publication: Newstoday

What we urgently need in India today is a rebirth of satire, of dissent, of irreverence, of an uncompromising insistence that phoniness is phony and platitudes are platitudinous. Amongst all Indian politicians the esteem of religion is profitable; the principles of it are troublesome both 'secular' and 'saffron' included.

India today is a land of impunity Legislative Impunity, Judicial Impunity, and Executive Impunity. The Congress Party holds the national patent for the revolutionary method and technology of unabashed impunity. I am not joking. I am amused by the solemnity displayed by the UPA government in its concern to order a CBI probe into the allegations regarding the targeting of minorities in Gujarat during the communal riots aided and abetted by the political leadership. Stripped of ethical rationalisations and philosophical pretensions, a crime is anything that a group in power chooses to prohibit or promote. Lalu Prasad Yadav who is in the run for Bharat Ratna(!) in the next year's Republic Day Honours for his outstanding services to the nation has brought his spectacularly 'secular' pressure upon the UPA government to use the sledge hammer of the CBI against Narendra Modi, popularly elected Chief Minister of Gujarat. Lalu hopes that regardless of what happens to the CBI probe, he would at least retrieve his lost support base among the Muslims in Bihar. Justice Nanavati Commission, already appointed by the Gujarat government, has not completed its enquiry. The way in which UPA Government is functioning today convinces me that Rule of Law in India means Rule of Lawless Lalu. It means Rule of Ram Vilas Paswan also. It means Rule of Mayavati. It means Rule of Mulayam Singh Yadav and so we can go on with unabated breath in interminable succession.

The whole matter relating to the communal riots in Gujarat is before the Supreme Court for adjudication. Against this background, the proposal of the UPA government to order a multi-parallel enquiry into the communal riots in Gujarat only shows how politics in India is 'an arse upon which every one has sat excepting a Man'. The rate at which the UPA government is ordering probes clearly shows that a separate Ministry may have to be created by Dr Manmohan Singh to deal with the increasing number of politically motivated, politically guided and politically directed Commissions of Enquiry being ordered every day in keeping with the letter and spirit of Non-Saffron Coalition Adharma.

The CBI in India had an outstanding record of public service till the death of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in May 1964. By and large, it was a non-partisan, non-political organisation, which functioned in a fair manner to deal with men guilty of various types of offences requiring intervention by the State. After 1966, it became a political handle in the hands of Indira Gandhi and successive Prime Ministers to be used against their political opponents for settling political scores after each general election. Electoral defeat of one politician (who had used the CBI against his predecessor who had lost the previous election) meant that the CBI would spring into action against him at the behest of the victorious politician following his electoral success.

For every failure of the government and for every breach of faith by a political party, there is always an explanation ready with our leaders. Each justifies his party's misdeeds by quoting the past misdeeds of his adversary. There was a time when Congress in the opposition used to stall the proceedings of Parliament; now it is the turn of the BJP. The people have continuously watched on the TV Hon'ble Members of Parliament leaving their seats to enter the well of the House, shouting slogans and forcing the Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha to adjourn the House repeatedly. It appears that our Parliament is now a wrestling ground where points are scored by shouting and unruly behaviour instead of meaningful debate and discussion.

Earnest public appeals, letters and fax messages to the Prime Minister and other Union Ministers for proceeding with Lok Pal Legislation have never been acknowledged. The Congress has established only one culture in post-independent India; the government responds only to militant demonstrations on the streets by large numbers, rallies to block the traffic or burn the buses and public property. Appeals by citizens, however patriotic and selfless they may be, are consigned to the waste paper basket.

The citizens of this country have watched with dismay the corruption cases going on in courts against a former Prime Minister, a few Chief Ministers, Union Ministers and MPs. Skillful lawyers with no qualms of conscience are defending them and, having regard to the speed with which criminal justice is administered in our country, there is no prospect of any of them being punished according to law. Meanwhile, they are all out on bail and very much active in politics as if they have been honourably acquitted. The citizens have witnessed helplessly the unprecedented criminalisation of politics and the politicisation of crime. The concerned citizens, and the freedom fighters and Sarvodaya workers still alive, the concerned jurists and journalists, the like-minded NGOs, have a duty to perform when government, political parties and Parliament have failed to act. Mahatma Gandhi, father of our nation, had taught us that those who tolerate evil and do nothing about it, are also guilty of participating in it. We shall, therefore, do our duty in all humility and with prayer for our country.

To put India in order, we must first put the government in order; to put the government in order, we must first put the UPA family in order; to put the UPA family in order, we must first make the UPA leaders cultivate their personal lives properly for which they must first set their hearts right. I derive my moral courage and moral authority from the beautiful words of George Orwell: In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

(The writer is a retired IAS officer)

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