Why NAC Fails

Finally Laloo Prasad Yadav is in jail. But it is simply absurd to think that courts will be able to control this malaise in the society. What appears almost daily in the media is only the tip of the iceberg. People of this biggest showpiece of democray got the idea of scale and depth of corruption in high places when the Nagarwala case came into limelight during the Indira regime, thanks to stubborn parliamentarian late Jotirmoy Bosu. Laloo Yadav has been found guilty of fraudulently withdrawing monies for three or four district treasuries. Much more would be withdrawn in other districts as well. Then there are numerous other departments where similar withdrawals would be made. There are other Ministers to reckon with too. Thus while congratulating the judiciary one should realize that the problem has much bigger dimension. Even in case of Laloo Yadav it took 17 long years to deliver justice.

A ruler of a country being corrupt is nothing new. Ben Ali in Tunisia and Zardari in Pakistan are living examples of widespread indulgence in corruption by head of the state. Likewise there is a natural tendency for Indian Ministers to become corrupt. Money in such large amounts is floating around them that even a minute fraction of the state revenue provides a grand attraction. The Ministers swim in a tank full of money.

Gandhi had an inkling of such things unfolding in Independent India. He started getting complaints about corruption among ministers soon after Independence. Two days before his death he had drafted a new constitution for the Congress. His proposal was like this: The Congress Party would be disbanded and a Lok Sevak Sangh would be constituted in place of it. Workers of the Sangh would live among people. They would educate the voter to send the right person into the government. Most importantly, Gandhiji wrote, Workers of the Lok Sevak Singh could be influenced by corrupt practices if they joined the government. Thus he suggested that workers of the Sangh would stay out of power and work with the voters. Main point is that power corrupts. The way to secure a corruption-free society, therefore, is to create an institution that remains away from power yet is politically active from outside and exercises check on corruption by the Ministers. Needless to say this proposal was not even seriously considered, let alone adopted by the Congress after his death.

Lenin thought similarly. He was afraid that the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution may degenerate. He called upon the revolutionaries to join the Communist Party instead of the government. They would remain outside power. They would give direction to the government while remaining outside. They could even force a change in the Government by creating grassroots political pressure if the leaders failed to implement correct policies. Stalin, however, did not agree. He had himself appointed both as the Secretary of the Communist Party and head of the State. Result was that the check of the Party on the State was eliminated. And Soviet Union was dismembered few decades after his death.

A National Advisory Council (NAC) has been formed under the Chair of Mrs Sonia Gandhi. The NAC has given certain suggestions which have benefited the Congress immensely. These include Right to Information Act and MNREGA. But the NAC lacs the grit to push the Government in a particular direction. The NAC derives its authority through Mrs Gandhi, who is also the effective head of the Government besides being a Member of Parliament. The responsibility of giving direction to the Government, therefore, falls wholly on the shoulders of Mrs Gandhi. Here the same problem arises as that created by Stalin. Mrs Gandhi is head of Government as well as NAC. She is not in a position to allow friction between the two to play itself out in a situation of confrontation. She is unable to discharge both responsibilities simultaneously. Indeed the two cannot be discharged together. The police and the thief cannot be the same person.

It appears Mrs Gandhi has given more importance to her role as head of the Government rather than as head of NAC. Persons of doubtful integrity who have had to relinquish important posts because of charges of corruption have been appointed as Chief Ministers, it appears, solely because they are perceived as being loyal to the Gandhi family. More importantly, she is not beyond reproach. The Bofors matter was closed not because there was no corruption; but because there was no evidence available to link the corruption with persons close to the Gandhi family. No wonder Mrs Gandhi is an utter failure where controlling corruption of the Ministers is concerned.

Vol. 46, No. 18, Nov 10 - 16, 2013

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