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When a criminal can sit in the Union Cabinet

In his front-page editorial When a criminal can sit in the Union Cabinet (Nov 30), H.K. Dua has rightly expressed concern on the deteriorating condition of the political system. The political power is slowly slipping into the hands of criminals. They brazenly contest and win the elections. This provides them protection from various legal troubles and opportunities to misuse the civil and police administration. They amass wealth and terrify the law-abiding people. So, the issues pertaining to Ms Mayawati, Mr Shibu Soren or Mr Lalu Yadav are just tips of an iceberg.

Sadly, once the people elect their leader, he forgets them and start behaving like a feudal lord. In name of secularism, people belonging to different religions, castes and communities are dealt in such a way that they remain usually at loggerheads with each other. Economically, the phenomenon of “free market” has eroded the value-system because everything is evaluated in terms of “profit”. Poor quality of governance, education, health services and paucity of employment opportunities have all made the common man unproductive and useless. Poor quality of leadership has failed the people on all fronts.

The solution lies with those silent or slumbering potential leaders who are watching the situation from a distance. Let us see when they break their silence and lead the masses in the right direction. Media, intelligentsia, NGOs and other social organisations should do their best to wake up the conscience of these leaders. They must dare to contest elections through political parties or independently.

SUDESH KUMAR SHARMA, Kapurthala



 

II

Gone are the days of Gandhi, Nehru and Patel when values and morality ruled the roost. Over the years, quality and commitment have taken a beating. Deterioration in leadership and governance has led to crime and corruption. This has adversely affected the common man.

Mr Dua has candidly focused on the political pollution and crime, but we must find ways and means to get rid of it. Those with tainted credentials should be barred from contesting the elections. The younger generation leadership should eradicate this cancer from the body politic with renewed resolve and honest values.

B.M. SINGH, Amritsar

III

Mr Shibu Soren’s conviction is a blot on the world’s largest democracy. Nehru once said that if people were not vigilant, our democracy would pass into the hands of strong-muscled and loud-throated criminals. This seems to have come true.

Under the Representation of People Act, 1951, convicted MPs and MLAs face no immediate threat to their membership. It says, a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.

According to sub-section (4) of the Act, the disqualification will not take effect in case of a person who on the date of the conviction is a MP or MLA till three months have elapsed from the date or, if within that period an appeal or application for revision is brought in respect of the conviction or the sentence, until that appeal or application is disposed of by the court.

The Act should be amended in a manner that once a criminal case is registered against any person, he/she should be banned to contest election till acquitted. Simultaneously, casting of vote should be made compulsory. The people should also be vigilant.

S.K. KHOSLA, Chandigarh

IV

Criminals have become so deeply entrenched in the governments at the Centre and in the states that they have begun to treat their departments as  personal fiefdoms. They are a threat to the fabric of democracy. A high office and a criminal make a terrible mismatch.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s political compulsion is no excuse for  including tainted politicians in his Cabinet. This does not salvage the image  of the government he is heading. If permission for going abroad or appearing in any interview cannot be granted to a person against whom a case is pending in the court, how unfair and unethical it is to allow tainted politicians to run the affairs of the state.

The voters should be squarely blamed for the present mess in Parliament  and State Assemblies. They do not realise the value of their vote.

 Dr SOSHIL RATTAN, Amritsar

Theatre of the absurd

Watching the classic Gone with the Wind recently, I was struck by an expression used to describe a proud community in distress: “Head is high but heart is heavy”. This expression can well be used to describe the masses in Punjab.

The Green Revolution having gone awry, the stream of economic policies having strayed into sands of populism and a sham democracy reduced to an absurd theatre of the Raja-Badal plays has become the destiny of Punjabis.

Dr KANWAL SOHAL, Bathinda

 

India’s super power mania

According to a report in The International Herald Tribune (Nov 22), “India is consumed by superpower mania”. Mercifully, the report added that top politicians like Dr Manmohan Singh and Mrs Sonia Gandhi are the ones with a cautionary tone.

At a seminar, “India: The next Global Superpower”, recently Mrs Sonia Gandhi expressed her unease with the very word saying, “it evokes images of hegemony, of aggression, of power politics, of military might, of division and conflict. Let us not get too obsessed with acquiring that status”.The drumbeat of super power mania must not go on. Otherwise, we will fall prey to another phase of ‘India Shining’. It may be a strange coincidence but the late Indira Gandhi too was “allergic” to that word and government departments were advised not to refer to the US and the USSR as super powers — calling them just ‘Big Powers” would suffice!

MUKUND B. KUNTE, IAS (retd), New Delhi


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