Internal chaos

Sachin Tendulkar has achieved the impossible by scoring his 50th Test century. For the public, Sachin has earned the Bharat Ratna many times over and yet the best of his career is far from over. We may just witness another century before the year is over.

Sachin and his exploits banished all other news to the middle pages as it was quite a welcome diversion from the 2G spectrum mess, the affairs of former telecom minister A. Raja and the Niira Radia tapes.
But politics, we know, never takes a vacation. And this issue will continue to attract attention and damage many. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi have taken positive steps to curb corruption and communalism. Mrs Sonia Gandhi slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying that while the Congress had asked their ministers to resign after allegations of corruption, the BJP lacked the courage to do so.
Mrs Sonia Gandhi has read the situation correctly and has rightly warned party bosses on “discretionary” powers. No interference from anyone in these matter will be entertained.
We all want “instant” justice in every case, but this is not possible as investigations are necessary. Also, getting evidence from hundred different sources is difficult and time-consuming. The Supreme Court is now monitoring the Spectrum investigation and this, without any doubt, is the best way for truth to emerge. No one can really predict the course of events in the 2G scam as asset details are yet to surface. Clearly, Mr Raja and his family could not be the sole beneficiaries and apart from the known political connections, other business tycoons may also be involved.
Dr Singh’s personal integrity has not been questioned, but there are serious questions on the delay in taking action against Mr Raja. This was partly due to coalition pressure. In all fairness, Dr Singh and others had objected and initiated action (ordering the Central Bureau of Investigation probe), but Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M. Karunanidhi bogged down with internal conflicts and a “gold mine” under his control, did not respond to reason. Instead he played the numbers game to his advantage. But nothing lasts forever. The DMK is already in serious trouble and the Congress has to protect its reputation. The only way to do this is to recover lost revenue. In practical terms you cannot punish the entire system for the acts of a few and pressure rarely works in these situations.
We are in the political game and it is a fact that the telecom policy over the years has provided funds for many parties and caused a great deal of internal chaos.
There are few secrets in this game and we can expect political missiles to fly in many directions.
There is a lot of talk of `300 crore made by Niira Radia in nine years but I wonder how many political families have made more than this in less than nine years? Can anyone explain the assets of the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and his family that could run into thousands of crores? Also, there are detailed media reports on the number of private limited companies owned by YSR’s family. Can Dr Singh or anyone else do anything about this? In Karnataka, can the BJP high command do anything about Reddy brothers and their illegal mining interests? Could the BJP remove Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa after his family and their real estate adventures became an issue?
When it comes to corruption, regional parties fare no better. People’s verdict and trust are often treated as licence for asset accumulation rather than effective governance.
There are a few exceptions to the rule but they can’t fight the system on their own. Unless we bring transparency into political funding we will continue to be held hostage by vested interests.
 WE HAVE several Assembly elections due in 2011 and I would be very surprised if the Trinamul Congress, under Mamata Banerjee’s leadership, does not sweep the West Bengal elections by a two-third margin. In Uttar Pradesh, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will win by a wider margin than before and the decline of the Samajwadi Party will continue. The Congress can be hit by the BSP “upside” as votes consolidate. In Kerala and Assam, the Congress should win comfortably.
Punjab will witness a tough battle between the Congress and the Akali Dal-BJP combine that will suffer from anti-incumbency trend. The Congress, led by Capt. Amarinder Singh, should do well if its internal dissent is kept under control. For Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu one would need the services of an eminent astrologer to predict the outcome but “change” is in the air.
Governance is never easy and I think that the anti-incumbency factor will take a heavy toll on politicians.
With general elections due in 2014 it would be premature to determine winners and losers but it would be fair to state that in 2010, the Congress lost some momentum, the BJP arrested its downward spiral, while the Left continued to slide. Regional parties with strong charismatic leaders grew in stature, as we witnessed in Bihar and will see soon in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Arun Nehru is a former Union minister

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