Choices Before India

In last several months in public perception images of major political parties have been going through a roller coaster ride. In continuity with 2G, CWG and many other scams, came coal gate scam. Despite government plea to debate the issue, the main opposition party did not let the parliament function. Many people felt this was grossly unfair. It was also believed that if a discussion had happened, stench of corruption would have touched the door steps of the principal opposition party. Already rumor was circulating about the president of BJP and his friend’s involvement in coal gate scam. Hence, this obstructionist strategy was adopted. In the midst of all these, prime minister risked his government and initiated reform measures to boost the economy. People felt, at last may be government is on track. Then came Kejriwal bomb. That son in law of Sonia Gandhi was making windfall gain through land deals with assistance from congress government in Haryana and in collaboration with DLF, the real estate major. Angry citizens had hardly had a chance to come to any conclusion, another bombshell exploded. This time, Kejrwal and company had exposed national president of BJP. His business interest,  his annonymous and manya times nonexistent share holders, illegal funding, causing benefit to companies when in a position of power, everything came into light. 

Initially, top political leaders from congress and BJP rejected charges. Minister, after congress minister, wanted to lay down their lives for Mr. Gandhi and defended Robert Vadra. May be rightly so, because if Vadra fell, Sonia Gandhi gets exposed. However, in the middle of all this storm, Robert Vadra never made a statement to public, other than deriding them through facebook. Nor was he asked to make one. Haryana government has already given a clean chit to Robert Vadra. However, it is strange why law minister who is so prompt in investigating BJP mess, is not even willing to do any enquiry into the matter. Why DLF is not being investigated on the matter of unsecured loan? 

BJP was no different from Congress. Top BJP leaders also defended Nitin Gadkari, the BJP president, whole heartedly and derided Arvind Kejriwal. However, as more and more people started doing independent enquiry. charges started to stick, and anomalies started appearing. Now it appears that Gadkari’s industry engages his drivers, peons, some astrologer as directors. Many of these people do not even know that they were occupying such a high post. I saw on NDTV that in many cases names and addresses of company provided were incorrect. What does this imply? Firstly, people may bring in black money through these companies and make it white. Gadkari himeself by virtue of his position as minister in Maharashtra government, as well as BJP president, may bring business to his company. He may get government fund for the work done by these companies. With this person as chief of BJP, can the party really take a holier than thou attitude against corruption? 
Question now comes, what are our choices as Indian voters and what are the choices for political parties? Now that Kejriwal and his people from India Against Corruption have shown that all parties, that have occupied a position of power, have been involved in some irregularity or other. Justice Santhosh Hegde, lokayukata of Karnataka, had also suggested in Karnataka mining scam, every political party had their hand in the till. 

In such a scenario, ideally political parties, atleast the major formations, must work towards bringing systemic reforms. If our politicians have any vision, they should try to make systemic reforms. Make business dealing transparent and above board. Reduce the scope of bribing. Make bribing a criminal offence with hefty punishment. 
However, I doubt if our leaders will act. They know, as bad as they are, voters still have to come back to them. Kejriwal’s party is its infancy and without any name and form. Other than corruption and decentralisation, Kejriwal’s policies on economy and other matters of national interest remain unknown. Even if, Kejriwal wins votes and translates vote into seat, they are unlikely to have nation wide presence by 2014.  Both congress and BJP are tainted but they know no government can be formed without their support. Regional parties like SP, BSP, DMK, TDP are no better. One party against whom no scam has come up yet, is All India Trinamool Congress. However, this party’s economic agenda revolves around taxing rich and subsidising poor. No development is happening in their state. So there is no scope of corruption. Acid test for the party will be if it opens up to big development projects and still stays clean. Thus, even if a non congress and non BJP formation is propped up, India’s experience with such alliances have not been good. So Cong and BJP may sit pretty and let the storm pass, knowing that nothing can be done excluding them, at least till 2014.
Should India forsake economic liberalisation and go back to old socialist economy. Almost all political parties will favor such option. It is much easier to give dole to people, than explaining them hard decisions needed for economic reform. However, I think this will be a wrong decision. India needs development, India needs growth to pull people out of poverty. We have seen socialist economic model till 1992. Result was disasterous. So India has no choice but to liberalise. In the process it must create good transparent governance, facilitate good administrative reform, where people’s voices are heard and benefit of economic growth comes to people.

1.Nitin Gadkari’s Purti, and media’s culture of silence

2.  Will a new order emerge from these ruins?

It may be early days to say what kind of space Arvind Kejriwal has made for himself and his proposed party in the

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