Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back

Rahul Gandhi, more 'nonsense' that needs your urgent attention

Author: Minhaz Merchant
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 3, 2013
URL: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/headon/entry/rahul-gandhi-more-nonsense-that-needs-your-urgent-attention

I entirely agree with you – the ordinance (and underlying bill) amending the Supreme Court’s order on convicted MPs was “complete nonsense”. But that should have been clear to you during the Lok Sabha debate on the bill several weeks ago. The Congress core group and the UPA cabinet should never have adopted the bill in the first place. That would have made the ordinance redundant.

However, let's move on. Here are eight other pieces of legislative/institutional reforms which the Congress needs to urgently undertake:

1.RTI: The CIC, through its order on June 3, 2013, placed political parties under RTI. Nearly a year ago, on November 4, 2012, I wrote an article in The Times of India titled Open Politics To Scrutiny. The article argued why political parties should be placed under RTI.

The CIC’s subsequent order was challenged by your party and several others. The UPA government swiftly tabled a bill in parliament to exempt political parties from the purview of RTI.

Public opinion forced the government (again) to refer the bill to a standing committee where it now rests. The technical argument that political parties are not “public authorities” and hence exempt from RTI is complete nonsense.

Here’s why. First, political parties are tax exempt – no service tax, no income-tax, no corporation tax, no TDS. Second, political parties operate from land worth hundreds of crore rupees in Lutyens’ Delhi – subsidised by taxpayers. Third, political parties get free ads on Doordarshan worth tens of crores – again taxpayers’ money. Fourth, political parties perform a public function and must for that reason alone, buttressed by the previous three, be placed under RTI. 

You must immediately and publicly endorse the right, ethical and principled stand – that political parties must not be exempt from RTI – and make that view clear to the standing committee examining the bill. That bill must be scrapped before it reaches the stage of a putative ordinance.

2. Inner-party democracy: You have rightly democratised the Youth Congress but not the top echelons of the party. Sonia Gandhi has been Congress president since 1998. Elections for the post of party president are held infrequently and are largely a sham. This, in a democracy, is complete nonsense.                                                   

Ask your family to, for once, step aside and hold proper elections for party president among the several talented, non-Gandhi members of your party. By doing so you will promote both merit and inner-party democracy. That’s how modern, progressive political parties around the world are run.

3. Criminal MPs: According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 161 MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha face criminal charges. Of these, 72 MPs face serious court-framed charges including rape, murder, kidnapping and robbery. And of these 72 MPs, 14 belong to the Congress. You know their names. If you don’t, go here.

You must ensure that not one of these 14 Congress MPs is given a ticket in the next Lok Sabha election.

4. Corruption: A slew of corruption cases – 2G, CWG, Coalgate – have tarnished the reputation of the Congress and UPA since 2010. Many of these cases are moving through the legal labyrinth. The Shunglu Committee report on corruption in the CWG passed serious strictures against the Delhi Congress state government but none of its recommendations have been acted upon.

If you are serious about eliminating criminality and corruption in politics – as your intervention over the ordinance suggests you are – suspend from office those politicians/bureaucrats against whom prima facie evidence of wrongdoing has been established.

Our institutions – CAG, CVC, PAC, JPC, EC, PMO – have been systematically undermined by your ministers and MPs since 2010. This must stop. A government that subverts its constitutional pillars will sooner or later collapse when those pillars weaken sufficiently.

5. Lokpal You declared in a rare intervention more than a year ago in the Lok Sabha that the Lokpal should be given constitutional status. The Lokpal bill is in legislative limbo, ambushed at midnight by the speaker in the Rajya Sabha.

Revive it. Give it the constitutional status you promised. Parliament, and the people parliament serves, will back you.

Similarly, the Women’s Reservation bill has been hanging fire since 2010. With its main opponents – the Yadavs – in jail (Lalu) or on your side (Mulayam, Sharad), pass the Women’s Reservation bill in the winter session of parliament. You will have a two-thirds majority for the bill in both houses

6. CBI: Stop using the CBI to undermine political opponents or force reluctant allies like the BSP and SP to toe the UPA’s line. That’s dishonourable.

There is a way of making the CBI truly independent of the government without it becoming a law unto itself by placing it under both judicial and parliamentary – but not executive – oversight. 

Fear not: this will benefit all political parties. If the Congress sits in the opposition after May 2014, as appears likely, you too will be protected from motivated witch-hunts by a CBI under political control as opposition leaders today often are.

7. VIPism: Eliminate the government’s VIP lal batti culture. In November 2010, while campaigning in Bihar, you said you were our “naukar” and we were your “malik”. That’s an accepted truth which doesn’t even need to be publicly stated in evolved democracies globally where politicians serve – not rule  – their electorate.

Tell your ministers and MPs to practise what you preached in November 2010.

8. Power and accountability: The biggest infirmity in our politics is power without accountability in family-run parties like the Congress, Shiv Sena, DMK, NCP, SP, BSP, SAD, NC and many others. This is regressive. Power without constitutional accountability is undemocratic. It’s complete nonsense and you must metaphorically tear up this notion and throw it away before the 2014 general elections.
«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements