LAW RESOURCE INDIA

Should we not have a law to punish politicians for breach of trust?

Posted in CONSTITUTION by NNLRJ INDIA on March 22, 2010

DHANANJAY MAHAPATRA IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

The great Indian political factory has never failed to spring surprises on the common man. But the giant anaconda shaped garland made up of Rs 1,000 denomination currency notes has surely caught leaders by surprise. They are surprised not by the number of notes in the garland, for they have seen similar amounts being donated to their parties by industrialists, but by the ingenuity of the explanation about the source of the money — a token of love and affection to the “beloved leader” from dalits who are the poorest of the poor. A vast section of poor still live below the poverty line and survive on ration irregularly distributed through a system that stinks of corruption. He could hardly have seen a single note of Rs 1,000 denomination not to talk of possessing and then donating it. Did the wisecrack say the common man and his brethren donated these seemingly uncountable number of currency notes to their “beloved” leader? Political leaders getting elevated to the status of demi-god is nothing new in India, a practice abhorred by none other than the greatest dalit leader, B R Ambedkar. But, that is a little later. For, the common man deserves first mention. The common man, since independence, has been handing over the keys of governance to politicians thinking these merchants who sell dreams would one day make these a reality for him. Mired in those dreams, he continues to endure hardships which have become intrinsic to his life with unfathomable resilience. How else could one explain his silence when prices of food articles and sugar went up sharply? Why did he ignore an important politician’s teasing comment — no one would die if he did not consume sugar? But the moot question is: Should politicians be allowed to continue selling dreams to the gullible common man? Politicians have business interests in almost every kind of industrial activity — from slaughter houses to sugar factories, from mining to money lending. The contrast between wealth of the politicians and plight of the common man is starker than day and night. There is not yet a law or a legal machinery which would fasten liability on a politician who reneges on his election-eve promise. Defeat in the next election for non-performance is no punishment. It is just a consequence. Why should politicians who trick the common man to hand over the keys of governance on the promise of bringing them prosperity be not punished for breach of trust? Most politicians do not appear to even know the basic amenities which a state must provide to the common man? It was crystallised nicely by the Supreme Court in 1983 in the Bandhua Mukti Morcha case [1984 (3) SCC 161]. It had said every citizen was guaranteed under the Constitution to lead a dignified life, which included “protection of the health and strength of workers, men and women, and of the tender age of children against abuse; opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity; educational facilities; just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief”.

“These are the minimum requirements which must exist in order to enable a person to live with human dignity and no state — neither the central government nor any state government — has the right to take any action which will deprive a person of the enjoyment of these basic essentials,” the SC had said. There has been improvement but Jawaharlal Nehru’s `Tryst with Destiny’ speech in August 1947 still remains a reminder for politicians. He had said, “The service of India means the service of millions who suffer. It means ending of the poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.” After more than 60 years, millions still continue to suffer. Nehru probably forgot to put a deadline for achieving the goals. Now, a few words about growing culture of worshipping of political leaders by sycophants who react violently to criticism. Cautioning against it, Dr Ambedkar in November 1949 had prophetically said, “Bhakti in religion may be road to salvation of the soul, but in politics, bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and the eventual dictatorship.”

dhananjay.mahapatra@timesgroup.com

One Response

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  1. siddhartha shankar mishra said, on March 22, 2010 at 18:45

    Dhanjay you are very right. I agree with your statement.

    The most common target of any election is always around the ‘Aam Aadmi’. All the promises in every political party manifesto is to woo this soft target. Whether the governing party implements all those promises or not, the same old statements continue to appear term after term. For example, a major party which ruled our country for over 50 years since independence still goes by the campaign of ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makaan’ (English: Food, clothing, and shelter). I am not sure how many more decades or centuries they need to change their campaign slogan! So our hero – Aam aadmi continues to look out for the basic needs of their life through generations together. Do they ever get salvation from this state? Probably not! It would be tough to think of a new slogan next time if they get to fulfill the promises.

    It wouldn’t be fair if I don’t mention about another predominant party which exists in our great country. Whether they *think* of building a small and comfortable home for a common man to live or not, they surely want to build a world class temple for sure! This party never fails to make that issue an election charm every time. For this party, building a temple is a national agenda, no matter whether countrymen carve in hunger or die in the river of blood. Apart from these two, there are countless number of other parties which have their own agenda. To quote few examples, here on this soil lives a great leader who should celebrate elephant sized birthday bashes every year at the cost of Aam Aadmi’s extortion. Party men belonging to this leader are known for killing civil servants too if they don’t co-operate in celebrating birthdays. Nobody questions how this great leader became the highest tax payer in a matter of a decade though hails from an economically backward class.

    Certainly, it is not the fault of these leaders. They have mastered the art of deceiving the so called ‘Aam Aadmi’. Yes, this stupid voter elects a leader who promises to give away color television sets if he is voted to power. No matter whether that leader is healthy enough to sit in the hot seat for a term of 5 years or not, doesn’t even matter if he/she is able to work for at least 8 hrs per day. Another similar Aam Aadmi elects another leader who proposes to give *free* electricity, of course without knowing the fact that all these free offers come with a disclaimer of conditions apply! At times the same ‘Aam Aadmi’ thinks of a new blood to change their lives in the hope of achieving his longing need of Roti, Kapda aur Makaan. Accordingly, we get to see some new leaders jumping in to the bandwagon from cinema industry to bring in the change factor. However, this change halts when the new party includes many established leaders who hopped from other parties and the family members of the key person take up major roles in the party. This system goes back to the same old dynasty rulers and other hoppers make me recall a bunch of rotten tomatoes being sold in a new package (party in this context). Considering a very few samples mentioned here, we know what kind of leaders are ruling our country. This is the reason why it doesn’t surprise me at all when our predominant parties come with the same old repeating statements in every election manifesto.

    Ok, enough of it. I really feel humiliated to write further. Do we need these kind of leaders? Don’t we have alternatives to change our lives? What does it take to bring in the ‘CHANGE’ factor? Any thoughts from readers on some of the questions I have raised here before starting to think from a different angle in my upcoming posts?


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