Delhi: If you are a student and a criminal case has been filed against you, you will be rusticated. You can actually be rusticated for much less. If you are employed and arrested in a criminal case, you will be automatically suspended and might even lose your job (almost instantly if you are in the private sector, which most of us are).
And yet, Lalu Prasad Yadav has been a legislator without interruption for 17 years even after being arrested and arraigned for the most heartless of crimes: embezzling crores of public funds by robbing the poor man and his cattle! Yesterday a trial court finally found him guilty and convicted him. He would have continued to be an honourable member of Parliament but for one man: Rahul Gandhi.
That is worthy of commendation, but all Rahul has got in the last few days is only condemnation for humiliating a prime minister who has shown no interest in saving his honour when his ministers were emptying the coffers in scam after scam. It is instructive to note the media’s reaction to Rahul’s public outburst against the ordinance to save convicted criminal-legislators.
It is difficult to come across any news report, opinion piece (but for Vinod Mehta in the Times of India) or editorial that has commended him for showing the courage of conviction to stand against the entire self-serving political mafia that does not allow any discomfiture to come upon itself. It has largely been contemptuous of Rahul’s late and admittedly intemperate intervention, limiting its analysis to his style and timing rather than substance.
For any political or electoral reforms, we need to co-opt the politicians. We cannot change one punctuation mark without the support of politicians and political parties. And we can be sure we will never get that. Rahul has been an honourable exception. He is the only politician who is repeatedly giving us a helping hand, taking our side. Stupidly, instead of grabbing the lifeline he is giving us, we have been rejecting and ridiculing him.
Look at his track record since he came into prominence in the party. He has made no bones of the fact that he is where he is only because of his bloodline. He has repeatedly said that political parties have become closed, incestuous, family and criminal-dominated enterprises that brook no challenge and stamp out all fresh sprouts. He has said that democracy cannot be run by parties that have no internal democracy. He has largely walked the talk by introducing electoral reforms within NSUI and Youth Congress. He has actively sought to and made it possible for more youngsters without political crutches to enter politics than another individual or party has ever cared to in recent memory.
Yet, each time he steps out of line to bat on behalf of political reform, on behalf of the citizen, he is ridiculed in the media and blogosphere. Much is made of the timing of his coming out party on the ordinance. He is accused of riding the wave of public anger for personal glory. Maybe that’s true. But I have just two questions for all those who are piling on to Rahul for aborting the ordinance: Did the nation benefit by the (expected) killing of the ordinance or has it suffered because of it? And, if indeed the prime minister’s honour has been undermined in the process, had he sent his sense of propriety and shame on a holiday when he presided over the cabinet meeting that okayed a brazenly third rate, anti-people, pro-criminals and anti-nation ordinance? All of us know the answers to these questions. If then, the prime minister has to have a bloody nose for having to undo something that he shouldn’t have done in the first place, what goes of my father?