Office of Profit

Another strange week. The Congress (I) makes a poor show at assembly elections and yet the Prime Minister courageously calls its a victory of the 'secular' forces. There is also news that the present government is looking at introducing a bill that eliminates some of the confusion over offices of profit.

This leads me to question whether Jaya Bachchan held an office of profit? Should she have been allowed to continue as a member of the Rajya Sabha? The courts definitely believe that there was enough evidence to disqualify her. In true family Raj, the electorate of Rae Bareilly continue to think that the Gandhis should run the country, and they have voiced their opinion loud and clear.

Frankly who cares? Does it make a difference? No. Examine both the Houses of Parliament. The members, who are 'honorable' representatives of the one billion Indians, have such impeccable records that they would put any petty criminal rotting in Delhi's Tihar jail to shame.

According to the Citizen's Report on Governance and Development - 2006, prepared by the National Social Watch Coalition, at last count 16.28 per cent of candidates in Parliament have criminal antecedents. In the Lok Sabha 25% MPs have criminal cases against them. Needless to mention that ALL our honorable Members of Parliament are innocent and ALL these cases have been filed against them with malicious intent by their political opponents. According to an estimate, 40% of the candidates in the last general elections had criminal records. Please note that those who have been convicted are barred from standing for elections. Otherwise this figure could have been a lot higher!

Further let's understand what our intrepid legislatures are continually engaged in. Representing us of course; making laws for our welfare and passing bills for our development and upliftment. No? The Citizen's Report on Governance and Development - 2006 points out that the 14th Lok Sabha lost 26% of its time. And Rajya Sabha lost 29% of its time! Doing what, if we might have the courage ask? With our MPs staging walk-outs, interrupting proceedings to protest a wide variety of political controversies it was rather difficult getting much work done.

Now we know why even after 59 years of independence Bharat Mata still a nation that is "developing". After all where is the time for development - too many controversies to be protested against. All the think tanks, political heavy-weights, regional big-wigs, celebrities and wannabes are too busy staging dharnas at Janter-Manter. The last time I tried to book that place to stage my own, I was asked to come back in 2026.

Moving on, ponder over this: The famous dacoit Phoolan Devi was an elected representative and she had against her 48 criminal cases, including 22 murder charges. Shibu Soren, a minister in the Manmohan Singh government, was accused of accepting a bribe for casting his vote in favor of the P.V. Narasimha Rao government which faced a no-trust motion. He was also an accused in the murder of his secretary Shashi Nath Jha. Vinay Katiyar, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Dr. Sanjay Singh, HKL Bhagat... Yawn! The list could go on but I do not wish to turn this into the Parliamentary directory.

So if all these people can continue to lead the country, why can't Jaya Bachchan continue to be a member of the Rajya Sabha. Granted that she has no apparent qualification to represent you and me and she is there courtesy her husband's buddy Mr. Amar Singh. But then what qualifications did Rabri Devi have to be the Chef Minister of Bihar? She was the wife of Shri Laloo Prasad Yadav and that was more than enough for her to lead a state of over 8.5 crore populace. Similarly what qualification does Mrs. Sonia Gandhi have to be the de-facto power behind the scenes? If being a wife or widow of someone is the criteria, I am sure there are many more women out there who could be in seats of political power.

If we still have any sanity left as citizens of India, lets ask ourselves why we continue to vote for people who have criminal antecedents? Why don't we protest when people with no perceptible qualifications ask us for our valuable franchise? And finally why don't we question their finances as vociferously as we debate the increase in domestic gas and oil prices? Why doesn't someone question Mrs. Sonia Gandhi where she gets the money to run her sprawling household? How does her son afford four years at Harvard when others can't even afford to go to IIT?     


More by :  Usha Kakkar

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