If we trace popular fury with the perceived corruption of the present Indian federal government, we might say it started with the Commonwealth Games. It did not really start then as there was a popular sense that corruption and graft were growing endemic among the powerful and monied, but it was the embarrassment and incompetence of the games organisation that drew international attention to India and its quavering infrastructure and the nepotism of its political classes and provided incontrovertible evidence to middle class India that something was seriously wrong in Delhi, Since that moment there have been a trail of cases that have displayed the invidious nexus of power and money that is stultifying development and success.
The arrest of Anna Hazare yesterday by the police recalls Indira Gandhi’s similar arrest of opponents in the 1970s and whilst the government claims it is to forestall any inconvenience from demonstrations in the capital poor Ambika Soni for being wheeled out as the representative of the government), for most Indians it is evidence of the arrogance of the present Congress government, mired as it is in allegations of corruption. It does not help the government cause that Hazare is described as “Gandhian” which stirs powerful feelings among Indian citizens.
Kerala citizens have been demonstrating in support of Hazare in typical Kerala style: student non-attendance at college classes and surely there will be a hartal or two. Keralites are painfully aware of how corruption and various black money schemes exist with the Apple a Day property scam that was written about previously on the blog.
The photo-finish race between UDF and the LDF in the recent assembly polls was quite like a 20-20 IPL match going right down the wire! Kerala has not witnessed many instances of a political suspense thriller as the one unveiled on the 13th of May, when the counting for 140 assembly seats were taken up.
The UDF leaders were complacent and overconfident about their victory that even the exit poll results and the poll pundits’ prediction of a tight contest failed to bring them to reality . The swerving fortunes and the ups and downs as results came tumbling in from constituencies kept everyone on tenterhooks as the leaders were left wondering at the unexpected turn of events. Kerala, has a history of never returning the ruling party to power a second term. However, during this poll, it appeared for a moment that the Kerala electorate might have decided to break the 30 year old recurrent pattern of sending the UDF and the LDF alternatively to power, which made it a nail biting thriller right up to the last lap!
After a neck and neck contest, which at one time looked like an imminent tie with both parties heading to 70 seats each, took a faint decisive turn only in the last leg of counting. It took the votes of a few panchayats like Piravom and Thrithala , which placed UDF ahead by just 2 seats, one of the lowest in Kerala poll history. The fact that Congress on its own could muster just 38 seats of the 82 it contested will remain a topic of discussion in the days to come and the UDF leaders will be pondering on the factors responsible for its poor performance.
On the other hand, the LDF camp is in a jovial mood as the poll results have clearly indicated that people have endorsed the anti corruption movement taken up by the Chief Minister, Achuthanandan. The poll results will indeed be a wake up poll for politicians who take the electorate for granted. The message on the wall reads clearly that the people expect nothing short of good governance . Gone are the days when politicians could create a smoke screen by diverting the attention of the electorate to the opposition camp’s internal squabbles and scams;these would not wash with the voters anymore and only hard work pays off at the end of the day.
Congress was indeed caught off the guard when it ended up winning the elections by the skin of the teeth. The absence of a clear verdict will make it more challenging for the ruling front and to stay firmly on the road in their five year travel time, they need to come up with a stellar performance!
Blogging from Kerala one of the least corrupt states of India, where law and order is also one of the best, on the Commonwealth Games fiasco and the corruption at the highest echelons of power in Delhi is deeply saddening.
At the risk of sounding unpatriotic but being totally the opposite I say I want the Commonwealth Games 2010 to fail!
Simply because I’ve had enough with corruption, the buck stops here for me. Also because, if they pull it off, somehow, the public will forget yet again lulled into complacency with a bullish market and a fabulous growth trajectory. This cannot happen again period!
Even the rain gods concur as it continues to pour in Delhi seriously worrying the Games organisers. The CWG horror has brought out into the open our deepest shame – that of Corruption! As citizens we all know about it but to actually go through it at this mega scale is a different experience altogether.
“We’re like that only”, the old guard say, but in states like Kerala we cannot agree, being a tourist paradise our state needs to catch up with the world and this has to stop.
With more news coming in on CWG and child labour issues all we can think of are a few questions no one asked when this whole thing began.
- Why did we bid for the game, again?
- Why wasn’t the private sector involved in it? Can’t imagine the difference a Ratan Tata or Vijay Mallya, Azim Premji or Infosys could have done!
- Why isn’t transparency in deals not enforced?
- How did we successfully host the Asian Games in 1982?
We also need to be asked before such huge events are taken up by the Indian government for it is our collective reputation that is at stake. I want change! Do you want the Games to fail?