Well begun is Half Done by MOHD. ZEYAUL HAQUE (JUNE 20, 2007)

A few days earlier in this column we took note of a positive development in the political culture of Uttar Pradesh. Chief Minister Mayawati had created a record of sorts by allowing one of her party MPs to be dragged to jail from her premises. It was for the first time that a Bahubali politician had got the treatment he deserved.

The latest move on Ms Mayawati’s part seems even better. Recently she called a meeting of her MLAs, state, district and lower-level leaders of her party and gave them a piece of her mind. No party leader, zilla parishad chief or head of a public corporation would have the right to use a red light on his/her car.

Also, party leaders, MLAs and other functionaries must never hinder the work of government officers or try to take the law into their hands. In cases of complaints of corruption or official dilly-dallying they must complain to her directly instead of quarrelling with the babus concerned.

These are very important steps. Firstly, too many people are using the red light on their cars. Their only purpose is to show their importance and intimidate common people. It is time such practices are stopped once and for all.

Secondly, official corruption is a fact of life. Nothing moves without a bribe. The bribe has to be given at so many places that the common man, or the aam aadmi, is bewildered and rendered helpless. However, the other side of the coin is that the complex neta-babu relationship itself is a matter of concern. Netas take bribe from the bribe-taking government officials. If they fail to oblige the netas they create a hullabaloo. Instead of making matters worse by muscling into officers’ domain the politicos have been asked to report to the CM directly.

Ms. Mayawati warned her party functionaries and MLAs never to indulge in goondagardi and hope that they would go unpunished. This, one must admit, is a very pro-people stance. After all, it is the public which becomes the victim of such goondagardi.

To show that what she has said are not mere words, she has opened the cases against one of the feudal dons of Uttar Pradesh whose alleged atrocities against the poor are the stuff of legend. The man in question is Raja Bhaiyya, the scion of a small fiefdom in UP.

The best part was her warning to MLAs and functionaries never to rush for obtaining "gunners" (armed policemen to protect them). People trying to get gunners would be punished severely. This is one of the most welcome steps of the new government, because politicians have made it a status symbol to move around with three and even four gunners -- the more the merrier. Who are they afraid of? The voters? The same voters whose feet they had been licking at the time of elections?

Gunners are nothing but a symbol of the politicians’ wish to show their importance. It is good that they have been shown their place in stead. Ms. Mayawati must be thanked for all that. This is a good way to begin ruling an unruly state. Well begun is half done. She has already begun well. If she keeps the tempo she should do well, hopefully.

Mohd. Zeyaul Haque


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