Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Seven Demands by the Voters from the Candidates / Parties- Dr.Ishanand

Seven Demands by the Voters from the Candidates / Parties

            Anna Hazareji and a number of enlightened and concerned citizens have various anti-corruption plans for the coming national election (2014) to bring pressure on the political parties. Besides, opposition to corruption is the primary objective of the AAP (Am Aadmi Party) led by Arvind Kejriwal. Here I shall enumerate some of the anti-corruption measures suggested by different experts and wisemen. The substance of these measures, with minor variations of time and space, has to be placed before each candidate in particular and the political parties in general, as conditions for their legitimacy and eligibility.

(1)        No convicted criminals or goondas be candidates for election

The Supreme Court has advised the political parties not to choose any convicted criminals for contesting the election. The government with the connivance of other parties, had opposed this advice and had prepared an ordinance against it. But Rahul Gandhi, the Vice President of the Congress, had the good sense of going against it publicly (September 2013). The result is that soon the political leaders like Laloo Prasad Yadav found themselves in prison. The implementation of this Apex Court Advice can partly heal India’s corruption cancer. Rightly therefore, Rajeev Dhavan a constitutional expert wrote in TOI: “We know that our electoral democracy is, in part, a goonda-driven democracy. Criminals are candidates. The Supreme Court ripped apart overt protection to criminal legislators. All the political parties wanted to revive this protection by ordinance. Rahul Gandhi has had the courage to defy the Congress policy on this, which led ultimately to the overturning of the ordinance” (TOI, “Fixing A Flawed Democracy”, October 4, 2013, p.12).   

(2)        No ticket to politicians unwilling to support the anti-corruption structures

Lokpal–Jan-Lokpal–Lokayukta, “with teeth”, albeit with minor variations, do seem to be the widely accepted anti-corruption structures. In the main text I have pointed out how a number of democracies, both Western and Eastern, have adopted such structures with good results. But by and large, the powerful politicians of India, both on the regional and the national levels, are opposed to these structures “with-teeth”. A typical example is the opposition of a powerful politician like Shri Narendra Modi to the Lokayukta appointed by the Governor and the Gujarat High Court. His unwillingness to oppose corruption is very obvious in the Lokayukta Bill “without teeth” passed by the Gujarat Assembly, seemingly pressurized by Shri Modi. When the Lokpal and Lokayukta have executive powers, “teeth” (e.g. KPK of Indonesia), then only can they take us a long way in our fight against corruption. Regional leaders like Miss Mamata Banerjee are opposed to Lokayukta on flimsy grounds.

(3)        Tickets only to the supporters of pro-poor programmes

When the government undertakes any project for the development and progress of our country, it is vitally necessary to take seriously the following talisman-like norm given by Gandhiji:

“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny?... Then you will find your doubt and yourself melting away.” (Taken from a Gandhian card sold in Gandhi Ashrams)   

To realize how vitally necessary is this talisman, before planning any project for development and progress, the following Indian realities should be before the mind of the planners: (i) still the BPL people constitute almost 30% of Indian people (about 35 crores), (ii) for the quality of life, India is far below the majority of developing nations, (iii) the raging controversy in India about ‘growth with equity’, ‘inclusive growth’, ‘trickle down economy’ and the like.

(4)        Transparency with regard to the source and amount of election expenses

Already in the text I have pointed out that the problem of financing the election expenses is a delicate one and it persists even among the democracies of the developed world. On the one hand, it is enough to make MLAs and MPs corrupt even before winning the elections, if they have taken money from the goondas, mafia-dons, black marketers and the like criminals. It is easy to understand how these tainted candidates would become representatives of the criminals who financed their election campaigns. On the other hand, election is a very costly affair. If the government, the election commission, the political parties and the candidates come together and rationalize the expenses, we can save the Indian democracy from becoming ‘a republic of the corrupt, for the corrupt and by the corrupt’. The minimum demand from the MLAs and MPs should be that they should be transparent with regard to the source and amount of money spent for their election campaigns.  

(5)        Commitment to stop hate-campaigns

            Indulging in hate-campaigns against different linguistic groups (Shiv Sena like parties), religious groups and caste groups is against national unity and integrity which all the representatives of the people have to uphold.

(6)        Promise to seek first the welfare of the nation and then only the good of the party

‘Electoral politics’ and ‘vote-bank politics’ have been the bane of Indian Democracy. Parties are for the state and the state is not for the parties. The good of the party does not necessarily mean the good of the people or that of the nation. No party in India seems to be free from the corruption-breeding vote-bank politics. There are umpteen examples of rejecting excellent developmental projects and of introducing populistic programmes at great cost to national exchequer. 

(7)        Legislation to defend the honest whistle blowers

            Honest whistle blowers are the rarest and most precious gifts to our country. They are like light houses which send rays and rays of light far and wide into the dark areas of a port. There are a large number of politicians and bureaucratic officials who grow and multiply in the darkness of corruption. Such people fear the rays of light from these heroic persons. Hence in our country these honest whistle blowers are harassed, persecuted and often eliminated with impunity. In the draft for Lokpal prepared by the representatives of the government a whistle blower is not only not encouraged but also discouraged and victimized. Certainly false accusations with vicious intention have to be punished. In the Lokpal prepared by the government, instead of providing security to these whistle blowers, they are made to look criminals. But our contention is that an honest whistle blower should be protected, encouraged and even rewarded.

(Taken from Dr. Ishanand’s book, “CORRUPTION: A NATIONAL CANCER and Remedies by Scholars and Social Activists”, New Delhi: Indian Social Institute, 2014, pp.231-234)

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