That there are criminals among politicians doesn’t surprise anyone, and it’s common knowledge how goondaism and politics go hand in hand in a system where muscle power and money power matter a lot. So it’s not the involvement of politicians and family members in a recent series of incidents of violence in Karnataka that’s shocking, it’s the fact that all those involved belonged to the ruling Congress—that too when Assembly elections are nearing.
The first one involved Congress MLA N A Haris’ son Mohammed Haris, himself a Youth Congress leader then. Though the Congress was quick to suspend Mohammed after he and his friends beat up an injured customer at a high-end café in Bengaluru, there’s no denying that the party’s image took a beating. Before it could recover from the episode, there came the second incident—a Congress leader associated with another Bengaluru MLA barged into a government office with a bottle of petrol and threatened to burn it down.
The Congress suspended him too. Now, in a third such case, a Congress leader and his men assaulted a bus conductor in Chamarajanagar for damaging his phone. They beat up the conductor black and blue, and then threatened him against filing a complaint. While these incidents have embarrassed the Congress and given strength to the Opposition’s claims that there was ‘goonda raj’ in Karnataka, it must be said there are criminal elements in every party.
It’s the VIP culture that emboldens those with political, money and muscle powers to indulge in brazen acts of goondaism. The fact that they almost always get away is the reason why such incidents will keep happening. The Congress must do some serious damage control quickly, unless it wants to hand the BJP a major election issue. Already there are allegations of bias in the handling of the Mohammed Haris case. The government will do well to let the law take its course in cases involving the partymen. Any sign of meddling with the process of law will not go unnoticed.