Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Ideal Justice

The Ideal Justice
Complainant hanged, complaint in dustbin, accused honourably acquitted

By A. C. Vashishtha

One of the senior Congress General Secretaries, incharge Congress affairs in six politically important States, Mrs. Margret Alva alleges sale of Congress nominations in Karnataka. She wonders why her son and grandson of former minister C.K Jaffer Sharief were not given nominations while relatives of two dozen leaders were given tickets in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.
Prominent backward class Senior Congress leader, R. L. Jalappa says: "I endorse the views expressed by Margret Alva” There is "truth to some extent in what Alva has said" and adds, "It is true tickets were sold. Senior leaders also know that what had happened”.
AICC Scheduled Caste Cell chief Yogendra Makwana, a former Union Minister, supports Mrs. Alva and alleges that at least two women aspirants were asked to cough up huge money for party tickets. "It is not only the case of two women aspirants, I have also received complaints that the Alwar (rural) seat was given to
Karnataka leader Sidharamiah also supported Mrs. Alva's allegations.
Congress president Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Congress party sources said, was “very upset” over the outburst, would also talk to Alva. “Hopefully it is a one-time aberration...but AICC general secretary Prithviraj Chavan in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka dismissed her charges.
Congresse spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said. “It goes without saying such grievances should not to be aired in the public.....We do not agree with sweeping statements and… grievances ought not to be aired in public.”
Rejecting Margaret Alva's criticism, heir to the Congress throne Rahul Gandhi said: "I am not unhappy with the way tickets have been given" (in the assembly elections).
Another Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh termed her allegation as baseless and "not based on facts". As Chairman of the Congress screening committee for Karnataka assembly elections, he asserted that tickets were distributed only on the basis of merit and nothing else.
Party spokesman Veerappa Moily said: "There is a breach of discipline by senior Congress leader Alva. There is no doubt about it”. If she had any grievances, genuine or otherwise, she should have taken up the matter within the party fora and not in the open. "It's an internal matter. She is a central election committee member and she could have taken up the issue with the party president," he said.
What does it all mean? Do Alva’s allegations not constitute an offence under the law of the land? Can our law-enforcing agencies plead that nobody had made a formal complaint about the commitment of the crime? Can our law-dispensing agencies feign not to have read or heard anything like that, lest they have to act according to law?
Are our political parties are sovereign island in the ocean of our democracy where our law enforcing and justice dispensing authorities cannot peep into? Can such allegations be put under the carpet and not investigated taking the plea that it is an internal Party matter and it infringes only party discipline and not the law of the land? Does demanding or accepting money for granting party nomination to fight elections in assembly or Parliament constitute an internal (family) affair? Is public not involved?
Is the Congress not a political party whose membership is open to the public? If that is so, how is public not involved and has no right to know facts? Can the Congress deny people the right to know the facts?
Congress, as far people understand, is an institution of the people, of the public. It is not a private limited company. Even in a private limited company, such goings on attract the provisions of law. Corruption is not pardonable offence even in a private limited company and, least of all, in a political party registered with the Election Commission of India under the Peoples’ Representation Act. Does the EC have no role to play in the face of such allegations? Can the EC afford to shut its eyes and ears to such allegations?
Mrs. Margaret Alva is a very senior Congress leader and its General Secretary. If she makes an allegation, it must be with a sense of responsibility. Her allegations attract the provisions of the anti-grant law and Congress and the law-enforcing agencies are within their right to ask her to substantiate her allegations. If she fails, she exposes herself for action under the law as also under the Congress Party constitution. Who gave the power to one general secretary to make allegations and the other, even a junior one, to sit on judgement? From which law of the land do politicians, like those in Congress, derive the power to come out with summary verdict without inquiry and investigation?

If a proper inquiry under the law is held in the allegations levelled by Alva and others, and action taken it will have a salutary effect on our political parties. Either the person found guilty or the complainant making baselessly wild allegations will be punished. That will desist our politicians from indulging in the fun of hurling unsubstantiated allegations. Is it not a desirable aim?
If the provisions of law could be invoked in the Tehelka expose regarding alleged accepting of money (which he claims was a donation for Party) by the then BJP President Bangaru Laxman, how can a different yardstick be used in the case of allegations made by Mrs. Alva and corroborated by others?
Let us not allow the Indian democracy to be transformed into what some have come to regard as ‘hereditary democracy’ with ‘feudal loyalties’
And what is the final verdict? The Congress dispenses an ideal, model and instant justice. The complainant Alva is hanged before she was afforded the opportunity to present her case and prove her allegations were inquired into and proved wrong. She is made to resign under threat of disciplinary action. She is divested of all her positions in the party. So has Makwana been dealt with. And her complaint is consigned to the dustbin. And the accused has been honourably acquitted.
Politics is a serious business to promote people's welfare. Please, don't turn it into a fun. a laughing stock of the people and the world!

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