By MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN
It was supposed to be virtual political expected to put the Karnataka political rivers on fire. But it proved to be damp squib.
This is how one could describe the impact of an unexpected disclosure of damning observations made by the former Chief Minister and No.2 man in the JDS hierarchy Kumaraswamy at powvow with party workers on the eve of the election to the Karnataka Legislative Council recorded in a CD which mysteriously found its way into the media and got widely circulated through the electronic media.
According to Kumaraswamy, the going rate for eliciting support for a candidature in the election to the Legislative Council was anyway between Rs.40 crores to Rs.10 crores.
The initial impression was that it was a sting operations conducted to trap Kumaraswamy. But it later transpired that the private conversation Kumaraswamy had with his party workers, was recorded and released by his own party workers, present at a meeting in which the party men were pressing for the candidature of a local party leader in Bijapur district.
Kumaraswamy who apparently was surprised over the release of the CD, however, appeared totally unfazed and came out in strong defence of whatever he has said at that particular meeting. He immediately dispelled the notion that it was not a doctored CD.
While its release at this juncture and the purpose of the same remains a matter of mystery, it has unexpectedly triggered off chain of reactions to pillory Kumaraswamy for his reported remarks for the observations he admits he has made. There has been a chorus of demand for taking legal action against him. There are also reports that BJP led Central Government has sought a report on CD and its contents.
A careful listening of the CD makes it clear that there is hardly any ground to take action against Kumaraswamy. There is no reference in the talk that money having been received or paid. He has simply referred to the situation in political market, as normal as discussions about the prevailing rate about any commodity in the present market. The only admission implicit in the observations is a candid confession that the legislators’ vote has turned out to be marketable commodity in the present circumstances, which is openly debated and the purchases are made without any iota of compunction. The only other inference has been has been the high rate being quoted.
This is nothing surprising in the present political milieu, with corruption ruling roost covering practical all facets of public life, with the mushrooming of NGOs to claim a share of the booty.
Of more particular interest has been the election to upper houses in parliament and state legislature, where, it is simply a matter of money in case the parties are short of the required minimum of votes for getting through and are forced to scout for support from outside. And the money bags also enter the market for getting a berth and the national parties in search of lucre, are not averse to get “sell” their support. And the minority governments are prone to explore the market for sheer survival during discussions of no confidence motions.
Kumaraswamy, under circumstances was simply focusing on in the new market of politics, where legislator as a commodity is on sale. The leader has voiced something, which is generally talked in hush hush manner, which is something well-known already. Besides he was talking to a group of his own party men during closed door discussions. Had he known that the content would be released for public consumptions, perhaps he would have been more circumspect.
Whatever it is, now that the story has been spilled, Kumaraswamy is no way feels embarrassed. He remains totally unfazed. In a newspaper interview he has defended his observations about the interplay of money.
In a developing permissive society as ours, one cannot lose sight of the fact that corruption is no longer a dirty word as for the political lexicon is concerned in the country. Barring the unseating of Rajiv Gandhi at hustings in the wake of Bofors scandal, no party or the politician has been punished by the voters on grounds of corruption (In this case, while the northern states went against Rajiv Gandhi led Congress, the southern states turned in his favour. Should one say that southern states are in favour of corruption?.
People known to be corrupt to the core and persons with impeccable record in criminal activities get elected to the legislatures and the parliament.
The pain staking efforts made to study the situation during every election made by the Association of Democratic Research (ADR) has focused attention on the phenomenon. The reports of ADR make good reading but seldom influence voting, which is based on a complex caste and communal considerations. The 2014 loksabha election has been a rarity where the people crossed the Rubicon to give a Modi led BJP a decisive mandate towards the promised march for progress.
Under circumstances, one is amused crocodile tears spread by the political detractors of Kumaraswamy calling for action him and the feverish attempts made by the news channels braying for the blood of Kumaraswamy keeping the TRP ratings in view.
For none of the political parties has reputation which is untainted. Take the case of Congress. Its Prime Minister Narasimharao saved his minority government in a vote of no confidence by reportedly buying the support of the opposition MPs. Vajpayee refused to play the game and lost the government by one votes. But that did not prevent his own party leader in Karnataka, by opening a shop as it were to firm up the majority in the state assembly without batting an eyelid. Karnataka has the dubious reputation of sending the money bags to Rajyasabha in a quid pro quo arrangement. Devegowda also find a mention in this list of illustrious personalities. It is well known in Karnataka that every election to upper house of parliament or state legislature brought an opportunity to unattached MLAs to make a fast buck. Four to five legislators from the Maharashrtra Ekikarna Samiti of Belgaum who used to get elected to the state assembly (now it is not there) were known to publicly abhor anything pertaining to Karnataka and Kannada and were not averse to extend support for consideration.
Everybody has been living in glass house and none can afford to pelt a stone at Kumaraswamy for whatever he has said. A debate on the issue especially on insulating the system from the money power would have been useful in the long run. But he would like to give up a milching cow?
However one interesting disclosure contained in the observations cannot be ignored. This is about the big money and return that the legislators as a rule expect from their career in state legislature. One they have spent huge money in the election, whatever may be the statement of expenditure filed before the Election Commission. And they have to not only recover the same in as shortest time as possible and also to earn enough to spend for the next election. Most of the times, they would have borrowed money from others and the corrupt officials fund them and they have no option to return the same in one or other form. And the plight of the opposition parties, like the JDS is more pitiable since there are no prospects of the party returning to power in one or the form. And it is difficult to keep the flock together. And from this point of view, Kumaraswamy deserves sympathy for the financial straits in which his party members have fallen.
It has been very difficult to keep flocks together, without the vitamin M.
(Posted on July 22 , 2014 @ 11:00am)
(Author is a Senior Journalist and Columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com and his Mobile no is +91 94480-74872 )
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