Honouring taint

The induction of members of parliament, A Raja and Kanimozhi of the DMK and Suresh Kalmadi of the Congress, who are facing serious charges of corruption, in important parliamentary committees shows the utter disregard for norms of probity on the part of the UPA leadership. Parliamentary standing committees are forums where bills are studied and suggestions are made to ministries. Technically they are open to all members but the UPA should have avoided approving the selection of these tainted leaders for these bodies. Raja is a symbol of corruption and is facing trial for conspiracy and cheating, and the charges can lead to a life term in jail. Kanimozhi is also facing serious charges. Kalmadi faces charges related to corruption in the conduct of the Commonwealth Games. All of them have spent time in jail and are now out on bail. In public perception they are associated with graft, self-aggrandisement and misuse of power and should not have been considered for any office or position that carries some responsibility.

The argument that they have not been convicted in the cases against them does not wash. It is a strictly legal position and lacks moral support. The Congress has defended Kalmadi’s inclusion on the ground that the party has only endorsed his request and that in any case he has only been suspended, not expelled, from the party. The DMK never had any qualms about the involvement of its leaders in corruption cases and had even organised public receptions for them when they came out of jail.  There have been other instances also of parties showing scant respect for charges of corruption and misconduct. Virbhadra Singh, who had to resign as a Union minister a few months ago after a court framed corruption charges against him, was quietly made the party president in Himachal Pradesh later. If the Congress wins  the November Assembly elections he might become the chief minister of the state.

There are cases of other parties also ignoring charges of corruption and other crimes and giving responsible positions, including ministerial berths, to tainted leaders. When a leader has to quit his position because of an adverse court judgment or public pressure, he or she is allowed to take a temporary break but later fully reinstated. That is proof of the fact that all the expressed concern over corruption and readiness to take action against tainted leaders is all sham. No taint sticks to politicians.

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