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PLAY FOR MONEY

It is both farcical and sad to see members of the ‘split Team Anna’ squabbling over which lot has the jurisdiction over the raised ‘cash’. So much for decency, dignity, integrity and good practice! The team appears to be no different from the rest of the political parties, large non-government organizations and suchlike, except for the ‘scale’ of the money in dispute that each side seems to be laying claim on. With this new ditty, the ‘clean alternative’, asking for transparency and good governance, has fallen into pieces, as one lot of the members restructure themselves to become a political party and the other reassert themselves as ‘cultural, nationalist activists’ — much like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which appears to be their natural partners.

Ironically, it is the comptroller and auditor general, as an independent ‘arm’ of the government of India, that has been exposing malpractices in decision-making and governance, forcing the correctives. It has proved that the mechanisms for checks and balances are embedded within the prevailing structure of governance and need to be respected. An active CAG, doing its legitimate task, has sent errant government representatives running for cover as irregularities and nepotism are exposed. It is being alleged that ‘other sister departments’ are being used to discredit the image of the CAG by initiating inquiries, using pressure tactics and by making insinuations about the political affiliations of those at the helm of the department. This is the appropriate moment for the government to take the reports of ‘its’ CAG seriously and begin the correction in a systematic manner. If the government is seen as acting on the good advice and empirical evidence of its internal department then the right signal will be sent to the people of India.

Same faces

Celebrate the CAG for being non-partisan instead of passing unsubstantiated judgment on its credibility. India will forgive the ‘error’ of malfunction if the government accepts that some things went wrong. But this country will not forget the ‘cover-up’ machinations of bureaucrats and politicians.

The incumbent government needs to strengthen the departments and constitutional bodies that are empowered to audit its activities. The prime minister needs to address India and explain that the systems to ensure good governance and integrity are enshrined in the manual, although they are dormant at present. They need to be revived, re-activated, restored and some need to be rewritten. If Manmohan Singh makes this his mudda for the next and last phase of his administration, he will go down in history as a man who restored izzat to governance along with having the distinction of liberalizing the economy of this fledgling nation state.

On the other side of the coin, we have an Opposition, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, that refuses to let parliamentary democracy operate. It has used an unforgivable tactic of boycott to disrupt debate, discussion and fresh action. It has revealed its inherent, dangerous weaknesses. Other regional parties in the states that were showing a strength of will to deliver and a determination to be state-centric, have suddenly been drawn into a dream sequence of possible ‘power sharing’ at the Centre under a catalyst like Mulayam Singh Yadav. Do they not recall the short-lived dispensations that began to jockey for position and power within moments of being sworn in?

This time around too, there are the same old tired and predictable characters in search of an author, and power. Quick-buck politics has destroyed the democratic framework our founding fathers bequeathed to us. Our leadership has failed that tryst with destiny in its pursuit of power and wealth. This can change. It is in the hands of those in power today to force a radical overhaul of the operating system.