Go a step further

The sacking of the third minister in a matter of 14 months for reasons of corruption brings no credit to the government of the day in Karnataka or, for that matter, the political establishment in the state. The roll of dishonour headed by Es En Krishnaiah Setty (misuse of office for financial gain), Hartal Halappa (rape) and now Ramachandra Gowda (violation of recruitment rules) could yet have more additions.

Another minister, D Sudhakar, who is facing a welter of charges ranging from cheating to breaking rules in sanctioning funds in programmes has barely survived but may be eased out soon. It could just be a coincidence that the first muzrai minister in the cabinet, and the current incumbent, Sudhakar have ongoing CBI cases against them. The doings of the other jewels in Yeddyurappa’s crown, Janardhana Reddy, B Sreeramulu and Renukacharya are too well known to bear repetition.

Given the contemporary moral standards, it was not Ramachandra Gowda’s actions in breaking rules to appoint people to jobs in medical colleges that has raised eyebrows, but the nonchalance with which norms made by a government of which he was a minister were flouted. So blatant were the actions, that the chief minister was forced to distance himself from his loyalist. The rather quick action of the chief minister in asking Gowda to resign may be designed to take the wind out of the Opposition sails, but it also indicates that Gowda’s actions may be more serious than reported so far.

The government may have tried to put l’affaire Gowda behind it by seeing him off, but Yeddyurappa would do well to use the opportunity to send a signal to his colleagues that corruption, misconduct or moral turpitude would not be tolerated. It is hoped that the government would take the unsavoury episode to its logical conclusion by prosecuting Gowda and others involved in the scam, if only at least to burnish its own credentials.

A 2007 survey by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said that the central government in Beijing is the most trusted by the majority of Chinese people who believe that it still largely remains clean in a country where official corruption is running rampant. The Chinese government is so ruthlessly set against venality that it executed four of its ministers for corruption between 2003 and 2007. That may be extreme, but it should give Yeddyurappa, now on a visit to China, some food for thought.

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