Coalitions are No Good at Governance

Our Life, Our Times:34

These are election times and hence perhaps it is opportune to recall what happened only less than a decade ago. The erstwhile Comptroller and Auditor General of India wrote a book “Not Just an Accountant – Diary of the Nation’s Conscience Keeper”. A revelatory book that was also described by the media as a “Brickbat Book”. The book describes how the political system was exploited to violate laws in 2G spectrum case, Krishna-Godavari gas basin contract, Commonwealth Games scam, Indian Coal Allocation Scam and the controversial purchase of aircraft for Air India putting the exchequer to a loss of several billion rupees.

All this is recent history and everyone knows that scams and controversies that accompanied the last government out of the Central Secretariat were the nemesis for the second-term Congress-led UPA Government led by Dr Manmohan Singh, a famed Economist. The voters were so overwhelmed by the unmitigated scams and loot of public money by politicians of various shades co-opted to run the coalition government that Narendra Modi, an alleged chaiwalla, romped home with a handsome majority.

In the bitter fight being fought between the two major parties for the forthcoming elections name-calling of the opposition candidate has been a common factor. While the Congress Chief calls Modi a “chor” (thief), the compliment is returned by Modi in equal measure. In almost every election rally Rahul Gandhi contrives to get to an occasion to brand Modi a thief. Likewise, Modi attacks the “family” – meaning thereby the Gandhi family and recalls all the alleged cases of corruption (and there are many of them) in which the Family was involved one way or the other.

While there is no apparent reason to treat the integrity of the prime minister as suspect, there is enough number of papers which have linked Gandhi Family in corruption cases and the consequential money trail leading to the Family. Rahul Gandhi himself was allegedly involved in a foreign exchange case when he was found to have had in unauthorised possession $160000 at Boston Airport. Reports say it was the intervention of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister that saved him, otherwise he could have gone behind the bars for an estimated 78 years. Then, of course, there are the Mitrokhin diaries that discuss the wheeling and dealing by the Family.

In this connection, it seems to be worthwhile to recall the interview of Vinod Rai, former Comptroller & Auditor General of India by Ritu Sarin of Indian Express wherein Rai was literally grilled. When told that the reasons for writing the book was to defend the attacks on CAG for being partisan and for delivering a blow to a  slowing  economy, Rai countered by saying he would have in that case written the book soon after retirement. He wrote the book to remove the misgivings from the minds of younger auditors who were getting demoralized by the way their reports were being treated.

When told that his attacks on Manmohan Singh were direct and that the Congress was calling it motivated he replied that as for the Prime Minister he said all the “information and papers” did reach his desk and in the 2G and Coal Mining case the ministers in-charge kept him informed then how could he say he wanted transparency?

Further Vinod Rai blamed the Prime Minister for taking a “distanced” view of subjects like spectrum distribution and coal allocation which are matters needing “deliberation”. Whether it was the matter of the conduct of Commonwealth Games or coal mines allocation “it was necessary for the leader to speak out”. He should have “guided the decision making process in a certain direction but he did not. He was completely overpowered by the compulsions of co-alition politics”.

While voting at elections people,therefore, need to be warned that coalitions do not perform for the welfare of the people. It has been consistently noticed that men with their parties operating in the fringes get into coalitions only to make money for themselves, their parties. It is a process of wealth creation for the parties and that is why they demand lucrative portfolios. One can recall that DMK of Tamilnadu specifically insisted on Telecom Ministry which is considered a lucrative part of the government that can be milked. I remember the minister A Raja once saying in his defense that he had a party to take care of – as if the political parties should be taken care of by siphoning off government funds for the purpose. Another instance is of Madhu Koda, former chief minister of Jharkhand who made millions out of the state’s mining operations while running a multi-party co-alition. He kept the mining portfolio even when he became the chief minister and made unconscionably excessive amounts of money. No wonder the wheel of justice turned and he was later jailed. There are other instances also all of which cannot be mentioned due to constraints of space.

Hence, voting by people desirably needs to be for the parties considered to be established and those that have a history. The small parties with riff raffs should not be favoured with the valued votes of the people. If necessary, it should be either Congress or the BJP that should be voted for in order to obtain better results at governance when a government is formed post-elections.


More by :  Proloy Bagchi

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Views: 3426      Comments: 2

Comment I entirely agree

22-Apr-2019 04:42 AM

Comment One solution for run away corrupt practices is to avoid coalition politics. Once avoided the main stream nationalist parties can do the same with the power granted. This can be prevented to some extent by the checks and balances provided by the judiciary, legislature (mainly opposition), and media. Currently these institutions seem to be less than rigorous in doing their job independently. It is the coalition (collusion) of these with the executive that should be avoided.

P. Rao
16-Apr-2019 08:12 AM

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