By Vivekanand Jha*
“I can clearly see that we are entering a crucial period against corruption. Even the big ones will not be able to escape. With this spirit, India is now stepping into a decisive period against corruption. And I am saying this with great responsibility from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Brothers and sisters, the corrupt are eating away the country like termites. I have to fight against it, intensify the fight and have to take it to a decisive point,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort today.
In 2014 when Narendra Modi came to power, his promises included an uncompromising stand against corruption. ‘Bhrastachar Mukta Bharat‘ was also one of the profound visions of the Prime Minister. Significantly, the ongoing Enforcement Directorate’s investigation into the affairs of scores of politicians is already giving nightmare of its worst degree, especially to the Trinamool Congress leaders like Partha Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee.
Willy nilly whether the Prime Minister, his government and his party, go in tandem, with a sense of schadenfreude, gloating over this nightmare of various opposition leaders in different states, the people by and large do not appear to buy the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm on corruption being the prerogatives of opposition ruled states whereas the Bharatiya Janata Party is a holy cow, with no remotest of involvement in corruption anywhere, is nothing short of a chimaera; a myth sought to be masqueraded as the reality which none can countenance in contemporary times without a sense of scepticism embedded in such a belief.
During Atal Behari Vajpayee’s regime, the petrol pumps were allotted to the kith and kin of the BJP leaders. Unequivocally, this favouritism in allocating the licences instantly caught the attention of the then prime minister who, forthwith taking cognizance of the whole scam, immediately cancelled the licences of petrol pumps.
On the contrary, today joining the BJP has become a guarantee from any investigation of one’s misdeeds and myriad omissions and commissions. Even the most tainted joins BJP today from any political party, for instance, even from Trinamool, (s)he will be insulated from the prying eyes of the investigative agency.
How come the Prime Minister ensures the corruption-free rule if this type of double standard has come to be institutionalised in the polity?
Worse still, there are scores of BJP leaders who led an almost hand-to-mouth existence, barely decades ago, who have turned into millionaires. Are their disproportionate income subject to investigation by Enforcement Directorate, the Prime Minister should respond to this suspicion of the people of India towards the Modi government’s dual approach towards corruption –while going hammer and tongs against the opposition leaders, shutting the eyes towards the BJP leaders. How India, in such discriminatory situations brought about by the institutionalisation of double standards can think of waging a genuine war against corruption?
If the genuine crusade against corruption and Bhai- Bhatijavaad is to gain credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of 1.30 billion fellow citizens of India, the process of national cleansing should begin with the BJP itself, for it is impossible for the people of India to believe that, while the Opposition is full of corruption and Bhai- Bhatijavaad, the BJP, notwithstanding the higher pedestal which it reserves for itself, is the paragon of virtue, where corruption is foreign to its lexicon.
Narendra Modi’s speech against ‘Parivarvaad‘( dynasty) had unequivocally struck an immediate chord with his fellow compatriots. Whereas there is no doubt that India is afflicted by dynastic syndrome almost everywhere.
Whereas the political dynasties are proliferating everywhere, the dynasties almost everywhere are proliferating which, if not arrested forthwith, has the potential to throw the social equilibrium haywire. Significantly, the regional political parties’ very raison d’etre and summum bonum is ‘ dynasty’ as its foundational principle, which of course has been extrapolated from the institutionalised trend of the first family of the Congress Party, even the BJP is not an exception here: both at the state and the national leadership, the senior political leaders of the BJP, are accompanying their sons to different places for promoting them. No wonder, if the Laloo family has its family members in Vidhan Sabha, Rajya Sabha–everywhere, BJP too has the cluster of family members adorning the political positions. Anurag Thakur, Jyotiraditya Scindia, and Pankaj Singh are some of the examples of sons being elevated to the party hierarchy. Unequivocally, this dangerous mushrooming of dynasties everywhere, virtually in every walk of life, engenders a new scenario where the scopes and opportunities for common men and women have been virtually shrinking, with little scope and opportunities left for them.
With the benefits of hindsight, the different issues harped upon by the Prime Minister in his speech from Red Fort, one of which was emphasising the worshipful adoration for women were laudable. Indeed fifty per cent of the nation’s population should no longer be subjugated to the whims and fancy of their male counterpart. Besides, the Prime Minister’s absolute emphasis on ‘ the glorious legacy’ of erstwhile civilisational Bharat to gain prominence in Constitutional India too deserves attention.
It was a holistic speech which could make every Indian proud of his or her Prime Minister. However, the apparent gap between his words and action needs to be bridged. The people of India must see that their Prime Minister does not discriminate between his own party and the Opposition as Vajpayee did.
Let the reforms start from home; let the searchlight for a comprehensive investigation into corruption begin from the BJP; let those BJP leaders who became millionaires in no time, too face the music of the ED and other investigative agency, which then will prove Modi means what he says, otherwise, it would be considered as an intimidating tactic to browbeat the Opposition into submission, where the fight against the corruption is the genuine fight, not the ruse to unleash the investigative agency to silence the opposition.
*Vivekanand Jha is an author, academician and public intellectual. He is the author of Yes, I can Achieve (Wisdom Publication), Yes, I am Bihari (Peacock Publication), Delhi Beckons: RaGa for NaMo (Virtuous Publication), The Living Legends of Mithila (Virtuous Publication), The Making of Narendra Modi, Unmaking of Jawaharlal (Novelty), and The People’s Leader (Prabhat Publication). His upcoming book is A Journey From Rajneeti to Lokneeti. The views expressed are personal.