As one sees the sight of the thoroughly immoral Shibu Soren insisting that he should be made chief minister of Jharkhand, the only thought that comes to mind is - perhaps states also need to be born under auspicious stars. What else can one think when one sees the tragedy of Jharkhand. When it was carved out of Bihar, it had a bright future. After all, it was undivided Bihar’s industrial powerhouse, it was immensely rich in mineral and forest resources, it had the benefit of a vision document for economic development prepared by the Confederation of Indian Industry (something the two other states created at the same time, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal, which is now Uttarkhand, did not have). But the state is sinking deeper and deeper into an abyss because of political instability and a thoroughly corrupt political class.
Now we will all sit and lament about the political system, the quality of public life and how corrupt politicians go scot free. But who is allowing them to go scot free? Why do corrupt politicians and those with criminal backgrounds keep getting elected? Because we vote for them.
Earlier it was attributed to lack of knowledge about politicians. But that is no longer the case. Ever since the Association of Democratic Reforms, through it public interest litigation, succeeded in making it compulsory for those contesting elections to declare their assets, educational background and involvement in criminal cases, people can’t claim to be ignorant any more. And yet we keep electing criminals and corrupt politicians. I quote from an earlier post, The Four Cs:
I have always held that the Indian voters may love to carp about corruption in plush drawing rooms as well as DTC buses, but that is hardly an issue in elections. Yes, it became an issue in 1989, when the Bofors scandal shook the nation. But that was probably because of the scale of corruption involved and that the Prime Minister himself was under a cloud. But has it ever been an issue after that? Why, Rajiv Gandhi was all set to return to power n 1991 when he was assassinated. Sukh Ram, the telecom minister in whose house currency notes were found stashed in mattresses, had no problem getting elected. The DMK and the AIADMK keep getting voted in and out alternately even though they are known to be corrupt. Similar examples abound. So if anyone thinks voters are going to rise in anger against corruption and throw bribe-seeking politicians out, they would be well advised to perish the thought.
Clearly, we are not willing to do much more than rant in our living rooms about corruption, as I had argued in Morality of Middle Class Politics. Till we are willing to do that, we have to suffer the Shibu Sorens of the world.