My Perspective: Futile Use of Political Power: Vijay Sanghvi
Sages have said for ages that political power and morality cannot walk together. Similarly history tells from its experience that economy and morality cannot coexist. Systems collapse only with entry of dishonesty in corruption of either. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be flexing his political muscle to cause an impression of using political power to introduce morality in economy. It is inculcating character in child with a cane. With drastic step of demonetisation in November 2016, his entire attention has been focused on the campaign to eliminate use of black money in business world without touching the corrupt elements within the administration. Futility of his approach has driven the second known Indian economist settled in America to run away from him. The chief Economic Adviser, Arvind Subramaniam to the Modi government resigned last week. Earlier Raghuram Rajan preferred to go away rather than contribute his abilities to moving the economy forward. Both were apparently exasperated by his dictums and came to conclusion that he had no use of their expertise.
The Prime Minister focused his efforts to eliminate menace of black money from the Indian system with demonetisation. Does he really want or can be really end the menace without corrective reforms in political arena? From where can political parties get funds for expenditures in elections that they cannot put down in their account books without inviting risks of disqualifications? To circumvent the election law on ceiling of expenditure by candidates on election and thus eliminate risk of revocation of election, the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi amended the election law to exxclude the party expenditure from expenditure by the candidate though both expenses are essentially by the party.
In last few elections expenditures in each constituency have run over several crore rupees, far beyond the prescribed ceilings. Limits cannot be enhanced without causing disenchantment in masses about the election system. If the party and candidates mobilise only accounted money as resources, then they have to put every kind of expenditure that they cannot. Given the needs, at least in thinking of parties and candidates for kind of expenditures needs, full scale purification is not possible. It would mean the ruling party can and will continue to use unaccounted resources but opponents cannot as they will be barred by law. Morality in politics cannot be introduced in such truncated form. It is not equality but partiality though money does not ensure victory in any election. Political leaders in general and in power in particular suffer from false sense of their ability to influence voters through money power, muscle pressure or caste consideration though it has been proved in every landslide mandate to be mirage. Factors that constitute voters’ political minds are beyond comprehension of political entities.
NaMo ought to know it. He fought state elections in 2002, 2007 and 2012 as well as the Lok Sabha polls in 2014. A hired plane was attending to his needs for 46 days during the intense and stormy campaign for the Lok Sabha polls. Hire charge for each hour was Rs 4.50 lakh for the plane. It amounted to be Rs.1.08 Crore a day. He addressed 108 meetings and each cost heavily for arrangements so that he can be seen and heard by everyone in the audience. Even his campaigns in the state assembly polls cost the party, if the party paid for, heavily. In addition the extensive usage of social media to catch young could not have been possible without heavy costs.
The format of his fight against corruption or for instilling morality in politics and economic world leaves enough scope to suspect his intents. Fight against corruption cannot and will not succeed if goose is killed and gander is allowed to escape unhurt. Without attributing the authority, it was claimed that two and half lakh licenses to industrial and business units were cancelled by the government on suspicions of corruption involved obtaining them. But it was not followed up with information as to how many officials involved in granting those licenses were punished or even questioned. Corruption cannot be one ended business. There have to be takers of undue advantages as givers in cash or kind.
It leaves an uncanny feeling that fight against corruption is one ended for punishing business class and that happens to have overwhelming numbers as traditional supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party. No leader would indulge in harassing his party’s traditional vote banks. Political compulsions obviously forced him to adopt economic stances adverse to interests of the middle class. International image of Indian wealthy was already sullied. The sustained campaign over the black money by the Prime Minister further confirmed that they are dishonest and tax evades. No people were condemned by their own elected Prime Minister as they were in India. Political science student would easily see a threat in the stance to indicate he was ready with alternatives o overcome any hindrance to his seeking the second term. He will not be seeking approval but forcing the decision. His advantage is in reading by others that no alternate merged inside our outside the ruling campus to challenge him.
His selective campaign against corruption clearly indicates that it was not to end corruption but equip the self with a political bludgeon to beat opponents. He has a strong reason to be weary of big wigs in his camp who forced him to abandon his original plans of establishing as the shining star of Indian youth with rapid economic transformation of India. He will force not only his selection for the second term but also usurp authority to select candidates of his choice to gain a personal majority in the next parliamentary party. He would not like anymore to make his survival in office to dictates of forces outside his band. He paid price for allowing the centre of power to go out of his hands in the current terms He may be product of democratic process but he has no pretense to be democratic by nature He firmly believes in sole personal rule. It alone can deliver results. That is his motto. He proved it by reducing stature and political power of his colleagues in the Cabinet and the party soon after he took over.