Reservation in corruption counterproductive

Once, politics used to be live and let live, to die another day: vindictiveness, not vindication, defined the brotherhood of corruption.

Published: 12th March 2023 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th March 2023 01:05 PM   |  A+A-

Anti Corruption, Anti-corruption

Image used for illustrative purposes only

It is no longer safe to be an Opposition politician. They joke that the ED and CBI are the real double-engine sarkar. Two weeks ago, AAP’s enchilada, Manish Sisodia, found himself enjoying the dubious hospitality of the Indian prison system. Once, politics used to be live and let live, to die another day: vindictiveness, not vindication, defined the brotherhood of corruption.

Unless the straits were dire, a nudge and a wink settled the matter. Then the media used to be on steroids and all politicians faced Trial by TV, irrespective of identity or ideology. The incarceration of Suresh Kalmadi, A Raja, Kanimozhi et al when UPA II was assailed by a string of scams was political PR. Likewise, AR Antulay and Sukhram were jettisoned when they became image-imperiling inconveniences.

Bangaru Laxman went behind bars for pocketing Rs 1 lakh, though Yeddyurappa’s prison stay was short. Shahabuddin was a thug. Nobody had ever heard of Pappu Kalani or Mohammed Surti, so they don’t matter in history’s roll call of knavery. Such was Indian politics until Narendra Modi came along and upended the cosy cabals.

Modi is a solitary traveller on the path of power. He has few friends in politics; only allies, assistants and acquaintances. He has an agenda for greatness—for himself and his country. In this definitive narration, he usually ignores stuff like “chowkidar chor hai” because the baloney wouldn’t stick; letting his minions deal with Rahul’s twaddle. When the Adani scandal broke and markets plummeted, the Opposition went into overdrive, clubbing Modi with corruption. Now, the Prime Minister is a patient man, but not a forgiving one. Pawan Khera barely made bail for his rather tasteless remark on the PM’s father.

Arvind Kejriwal, Modi’s vituperative bête noire, perhaps needs to watch his back—hawala, bribes for seats, snooping, a sex scandal and booze blowback dog his  credibility. BJP politicians have hinted that after Sisodia, Telangana Chief Minister KCR’s daughter K Kavitha too will face the liquor scam fallout. Opposition politicians have been raided, arrested or jailed ahead of elections—for money-laundering, job scams and land deals. NCP ministers were arrested for doing dodgy deals. P Chidambaram spent jailtime and so did his son Karti. Mamata Banerjee’s nephew was grilled in a coal scam case.

Last week, it was the turn of Rabri Devi, the notorious jailbird Lalu Yadav’s wife, and his brood, to face CBI tormentors—their son Tejaswi is Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister in serial side-swapper Nitish Kumar’s Cabinet. Though oneupmanship among Opposition leaders is blocking unity, they are after all united by the equality of corruption.

Corruption is misuse of power, and absolute corruption is absolute misuse of power. It would only be fair if BJP lawbreakers face the same treatment Opposition delinquents get. Heavy-hitters like Himanta Biswa Sarma, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ face graft allegations, but haven’t been caged or even investigated by the parrot. Although the Karnataka Police booked BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa, whose son was caught taking a bribe of Rs 40 lakh, the politician had enough absconding time to get bail and even a media gag order. The state elections are around the corner, and a bribery scandal, a missing MLA and a seemingly clueless police aren’t good news for the BJP. Protecting him only makes it worse. Voters don’t approve of reservation in corruption.

Ravi Shankar



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