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Winnability versus respectability

india Updated: Jan 16, 2010 23:25 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Hindustan Times
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After the many elections we have had, to choose our MPs and MLAs, we conclude that the ability to win elections has very little to do with winning respectability. The installation of Shibu Soren as chief minister of Jharkhand is the latest example. He has been charged with corruption and abetting murders. Yet he is back in the Assembly and, with the opportunist and immoral backing of the BJP, is chief minister of the state for the third time. The same could be said of his predecessor Madhu Koda.

He is in jail charged with amassing a huge fortune by misusing his powers when he was chief minister. Nevertheless, Koda’s wife has been elected for the simple reason she is his spouse. A more glaring example is that of Varun Gandhi.

He made an intemperate speech vilifying muslims and spent a few days in jail. Even so, he won his election by a handsome margin. I can cite innumerable examples from every state of the Union of men with bad reputations finding their way into the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas.

That is why today we have more crorepatis in Parliament and provincial assemblies than we have ever had since we became an independent country. We should hang our heads in shame.

There are skills required to garner votes. The pass-master at gathering votes is Sharad Pawar, our agricultural minister. He picks up key men in his constituencies, gets them beholden to him by helping them get petrol pumps, gas agencies, car-dealerships, permits to run cinemas, restaurants and anything else profitable, and they become staunch supporters. Religion, caste and clan also play an important role in the way people vote. Honesty and ability are of minor importance.

If none of my arguments convince you, then take the case of our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Everyone is agreed that he is the ablest and the most honest man in our political set up. Yet when he fought one election, he lost. He had to be elected to the Rajya Sabha from Assam.

If India had the presidential form of government, he would have been an outright winner. But I am not sure if he would be a sure winner in a municipal by-election.

Mockery of Justice

A very unhealthy trend noticeable in our country is that of the public and the media passing judgement on people still on trial. The latest example is of SPS Rathore, former Haryana Director General of Police, accused of abetting the suicide of 14-year-old Ruchika Girhotra 19 years ago.

Everyone from the chief minister down to the common man on the street wants his sentence of six months in jail enhanced to the maximum permissible.

He has been virtually lynched by mob hysteria. It should be evident that he was not solely responsible for the girl taking her own life. She felt abandoned by everyone and decided to call it a day.

We have yet to find who the others, who should have stood by her, are. It was the same in the case of R. K Sharma, DIG Police, now convicted for the murder of Shivani Bhatnagar. We should learn to hold our tongues till the courts pronounce their verdicts.

What alarms me most is the demand aired in some newspapers that police officers accused of misbehaviour be stripped of their police medals and other decorations conferred on them while they were in service. Among the names mentioned is that of KPS Gill found guilty of slapping a one-time woman friend’s buttocks at a cocktail party. It was a very minor offence in bad taste. Nothing more. All that Gill did in stamping our Khalistani terrorists who had played havoc in Punjab for about ten years was forgotten.

It was Ribiero and Gill who took on the challenge and gave them bullet for bullet. Gill master-minded ‘Operation Black Thunder’ which cleared the Golden Temple of criminal elements with the minimum loss of life.

He is about the bravest man I have ever met. With him I visited the most terrorist-ridden areas, Bhindrawale’s headquarters in Mehta Chowk and the Golden Temple when terrorism was at its height. We were without police escort. I was nervous; he did not show the slightest sign of fear. He deserves more praise, not censure.

Hurrah for Indian Police

In Delhi, crime is down, says the
Commissioner
One cheer, A Happy New Year;
Three terrorists escape recently
In this safe, safe city,
The biker gangs are all but gone,
robberies decline
Rapes are unheard of, women feel
fine
Bedecked with gold, they go out
and dine —
Well done, sir, A Happy New Year.
And the second cheer
Goes to Rathore the protector
Of a young girl’s life and honour —
Wonderful sir, A Happy New Year.
And the third cheer goes to a
Mumbai Deputy Commissioner of
Police and his junior
For dancing with Chhota Rajan’s gangster,
Thus ensuring that they keep awake
at night
And give the crime world a mortal
fright —
You are our saviour,
Great going, dear, A Happy New Year

(Contributed by Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

The views expressed by the author are personal