Tread With Caution, Kejriwalji by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (FEBRUARY 04, 2014)

The Aap and its chief Arvind Kejriwal continue to be an enigma wrapped in mystery. Nobody can really know what are the implications of his announcing a list of corrupt politicians. On one hand his crusade against official corruption is a great service as our public life has become excruciatingly corrupt and any move that looks like helping us fight this menace is welcome. On the other his strategy to fight it creates more problems than solving it.

His list includes leaders from the Congress Party, BJP, BSP, NCP, DMK, SP, NC and YSRC. The people in Kejriwal’s dock are: P. Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Kapil Sibal, Kamal Nath, Shriprakash Jaiswal, Tarun Gogoi, GK Vasan and Naveen Jindal. Rahul Gandhi has been added to the list as an afterthought, not for any precise act of corruption, but for spending too much money on building his own image.

In this honour list the BJP leaders included are: Nitin Gadkari, B S Yedurappa, Anurag Thakur and Narendra Modi, the last one for the same reason as Rahul Gandhi–spending too much on image building. The BJP has hit back by saying that Kejriwal’s name, too, should be included in the list.

Nitin Gadkari has threatened to sue him, and Farooq Abdullah has said he would reply to the charge in a court of law. Vasan has issued an ultimatum that if Kejriwal does not retract within a stipulated time he will be dragged to court. And, we have not heard the last on this issue.

The question to ask is whether this is the best way to deal with corruption. The clear answer is that corruption cannot be eliminated by making allegations and counter-allegations as in this case. A corruption-free society is built on institutions that ensure accountability, integrity, transparency and rule of law. As long as these are missing from public life, corruption is going to remain very much among us.

From the experience of developed countries it is clear that a corruption-free society becomes viable only after a country reaches a per capita GDP level of about $6,000 a year. Below that level it is rare to find a corruption-free society. That means such a society is still a few years away.

Countries that have achieved a high level of integrity in public life have done so only after a long struggle. Transparency, good governance, accountability and rule of law do not come as a result of sloganeering and with allegations-counter allegations.

Long years of social, political and legal work go into making a fair, graft-free order. Kejriwalji’s ideas have a great potential for changing this country for the better, but he needs patient work, not counter-productive short-cuts.


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