Collusive politics

In their campaign against corruption in high places, India Against Corrupt (IAC) leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan have now targeted BJP president Nitin Gadkari for a land deal in Maharashtra, which is his home state. Their exposures till now had focussed on Congress ministers or persons who may be linked to the Congress party, like Robert Vadra, and this had given the impression that their campaign was only against the Congress. It led to the charge that they are a B team of the BJP. The impression would have been detrimental to the IAC team, which after its parting of ways with Anna Hazare, has announced its plan to launch a political party. The BJP, which had made the best use of the charges against the Congress, now finds that it also has to answer questions about the conduct of its leaders.

The IAC leaders have alleged that Gadkari had secured 100 acres of government land for his NGO. The land had been acquired for an irrigation dam and had to be used only for a public purpose. The allotment  was made by Ajith Pawar of the NCP, who was the irrigation minister of the state, against objections raised by the irrigation department. Gadkari has business interests in many areas and there have been charges in the past that he has used politics to promote his business and to help his friends. Gadkari and other BJP leaders have denied any impropriety or wrongdoing in the deal but the denials are not completely convincing. Even if, under the existing law, the acquired land could not be returned to the farmers, the fact that a politician could secure it raises questions, because public purpose would have been best served in other ways.

Another important aspect in the disclosure is the nexus revealed between adversaries in politics. The favour for the BJP leader was done by an NCP minister, who is the party leader’s nephew. There is a view that Gadkari’s 100 acres were the price of silence over other corruption scandals involving ministers in the state government. Flags and offices of parties may be different, but a collusion of interests is seen among leaders. The Lokpal bill was scuttled because of this. Personal and political quids pro quo between leaders are also not unknown. If politics becomes an interlinked business of personal interests, there is hardly a choice for the common man and little scope for change.

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