The secular colours of corruption



Now this is one rath yatra I would really like to see – the last time that Lal Krishna Advani sailed through my part of the country on his chariot, he left behind a trail of blood and gore and the kind of communal carnage that was repeated only in Gujarat again, nearly a decade later, without even the benefit of a rath.

But I can await this one with glee because corruption is as secular an issue as it comes and the BJP, particularly, never mind it’s bluster, has had a bad week of it, if not a bad month, altogether. Never mind that their chief minister in Karnataka BS Yedyurappa went kicking and screaming, I was rather amused to see Yeddy and his friends make tracks to Nagpur to complain to their party president Nitin Gadkari about the ‘Congress Bureau of Corruption’ taking in the mining Reddy brothers for arbitrary looting of the nation’s resources through the years.

Then, while former Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh did seem to get his just desserts, in went two ex-BJP MPs too to keep Raja and Suresh Kalmadi company in Tihar Jail.

Now Advani’s dare to the government to arrest him in the cash for vote scam reminds me of what a professor of sociology at the Bombay University had told me during the peak of the Anna Hazare movement.

“it’s all just a question of your corruption versus my corruption. The policemen waves flags for Anna because he is angry at having to bribe the rationing officer. The Income Tax officer joins the movement because he is upset at having to pay that very traffic cop. And the builder expresses solidarity because all that fighting against corruption means to him is that he should be allowed to grab land without having to pay the municipal officer!”

So I would like to see how well Advani’s chariot is received through Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and other saffron territory where corruption is an equal issue. I could almost admire the audacity of the BJP in petitioning the President of India to recall the Gujarat governor from a state described as the “most corrupt” by the very icon of the anti-corruption movement Anna Hazare, for having appointed a Lokayukta while at the same time justifying the taking of cash for votes in Parliament as an expose and not indulgence in bribery.

I think the saffron parties should realise this sword cuts both ways and gone are those days when things like Bofors and Babri had touched only the Congress and ceded high moral ground to Advani and his innumerous chariots.

Now everyone is tainted with the same brush and this kind of justification of corruption in his own party is fraught with the danger of reducing the strength of party in Parliament back to just two or four.

As for himself, he need not be too afraid – I do not think the government has the gumption to pick up his gauntlet and slam him into Tihar for the role he played in the cash for vote scam. For the UPA would not like the scandal to come too close to it’s own doors and so long as Advani can live with his conscience, outside Tihar, of course, then, well, so can the UPA!

And, perhaps, two tyres of his newest chariot could this time be sponsored by the union government!

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