Possibly there is a huge gap between the public and media analysts regarding their respective perceptions about corruption. Newspaper editorials and columnists waxed eloquent about the recent fates of Ms Jayalalithaa and Mr. Om Prakash Chautala who are both battling corruption cases. Media showered praise on governments and judges for their roles in dealing with both cases. Undoubtedly the Judge who delivered his sentence on the case of Ms Jayalalithaa acquitted himself with courage and integrity which invited media’s well deserved praise. This led commentators to gush that the cause of justice had been served. Similar sentiments are expressed about the arrest of Mr. Om Prakash Chautala. However the public does not see things quite the same way.
The media is impressed by single events and concludes that justice is being served. The public views the overall context and concludes that politically motivated ends are being served. The public is aware that compared to Ms. Jayalalithaa there would be over fifty leaders with corruption and criminal charges as or more damaging against them who continue to bask in comfort. Nothing is being done against them. The Judge refused Ms. Jayalithaa bail although the prosecution did not oppose it. The Judge said that corruption was a serious issue and granting bail would send the wrong message. Mr. Amit Shah’s murder charge is not serious while he continues to successfully extend his bail?
The public is aware that of all leaders in Haryana Mr. Om Prakash Chautala may be the least corrupt. The mega corrupt land deals in Haryana involve political leaders including a member of the Congress party’s ruling dynasty. These are not being adequately probed. Instead a government official attempting to pursue the cases in the line of duty was harassed and victimized.
During the poll campaign the PM lashed out at the Haryana government for finalizing Mr. Vadra’s land deals before the poll. But why is the central government paralyzed to act against Mr. Vadra’s land deal in Delhi on Rashtrapati Bhawan land which imperils national security? Mr. Modi’s government has failed to act even though the Rashtrapati Bhawan authorities raised objections against the deal! The public is not blind to these events. The media therefore is bowled over by a micro view. The public is disgusted by its macro view.
Whether this surmise is correct will be tested when the two leaders facing corruption cases next face voters. It may take time before Ms. Jayalalithaa’s standing among voters is tested in elections. But whether Mr. Chautala will be decimated by his electoral protagonists, including Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi who is vigorously campaigning against him will be known within this month. The results need to be watched. Only after that should media analysts finally decide whether the cause of justice has been served. If corruption of one or two politically inconvenient leaders is exposed while that of many others is deliberately overlooked has the cause of justice been served? The public may not think so.