A measure of political morality in India was coined by Lal Bahadur Shastri. There was an accident while he was the Railway Minister and he resigned from the post. Although resigning as such did not become a mainstream political trend thereafter, it remained a high standard of morality. Leaders took responsibility for right and wrong. Although no one has resigned on accidents, but the practice of resigning on allegations was till recently.
But the standards of ethics have changed in the last eight years. The practice of resigning after being accused stopped a little earlier and now the practice of not resigning even after being arrested has started. Remember, after the formation of Narendra Modi’s government at the center, one of his ministers was accused of rape. But his resignation was not made. He was later removed but did not resign on the charges. After that many such occasions came and BJP made a message that there are no resignations on allegations in BJP governments.
This was the beginning of a departure from the established and accepted standard of political morality. Till a few days before that, there were resignations because of the allegations. After all, Manmohan Singh’s government had led to the resignation of Union Minister A Raja in the communication scam, it is a different matter that A Raja was acquitted of all charges during the present government. Congress had forced the resignation of then Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh scam. The BJP itself had at one time also got the then Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yediyurappa to resign after being accused of corruption. Several ministers of Mayawati’s government had resigned after their names appeared in the Lokayukta report. But a major change in the last eight years is that the practice of resigning on allegations has stopped. All the parties have taken a public stand that our leader is not corrupt, the one who is corrupt is in another party. In this way everyone got the facility to tell the accused leaders of other party as corrupt and openly defend the accused of his own party.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is the trend setter in this matter. He showed the way by moving ahead and other parties of the country have followed that path. It was Mamta who started the practice of showing unconditional support to her leaders who were targeted by central agencies. She didn’t just show support but even went to its state office to fight the CBI. He got party workers and state officials to oppose the CBI. The incident is from last year, when the CBI arrested his government minister Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra etc. Then Mamta was sitting in the CBI office for six hours and despite being arrested and jailed, she did not remove the ministers from the post. Earlier this was not the case.
Mamta Banerjee showed the way to the rest of the parties of the country by retaining her arrested ministers last year and now many parties are following that path. Delhi’s ‘hardcore honest’ government minister Satyendar Jain has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate. He is accused of transacting money through hawala and has been arrested under very strict money laundering law. But Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has refused to remove him from the post of minister. Following the path shown by Mamta, Kejriwal has kept her as a minister and has also openly supported her. He gave a clean chit to Jain by holding a press conference and said that he is such a capable and honest leader that he should be honored with Padma Vibhushan. Don’t know why Kejriwal asked for the country’s second highest honor for Jain, he could have asked for the highest honor i.e. Bharat Ratna also. After all, Satyendra Jain is a great ‘patriot’ in his eyes.
However, before Kejriwal, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has also set an example by following the path shown by Mamta. His government minister Nawab Malik is arrested and jailed for months, but Uddhav has not removed him from the post of minister. Although the charge of his portfolios has been given to another minister, Malik is in jail as a minister without a portfolio. Earlier, Uddhav Thackeray had not shown such an attitude for Anil Deshmukh. Deshmukh was the Home Minister of his government. There were many allegations against him and he too is in jail after being arrested, but Uddhav removed him from the post of minister. Probably after that he got attention of Mamta Banerjee’s formula.
Think, how many ministers and chief ministers had resigned earlier after being implicated or arrested on corruption charges! From Lalu Prasad to Ashok Chavan and BS Yediyurappa to Madanlal Khurana, there are examples of many chief ministers who had to step down after being accused. The names of Lal Krishna Advani and Madan Lal Khurana were found written in the Jain Hawala diary and on this basis Advani resigned from the Lok Sabha and Khurana from the post of Chief Minister of Delhi. But according to the new standards of political morality being created, it has become acceptable not to resign from the post even after being arrested.
It is not just a matter of confrontation between the parties of the party and the opposition. It is also a matter of credibility of all the agencies and constitutional institutions related to the country’s political system and criminal justice process. This should be a matter of serious concern to all the three state police, central investigative agencies and judiciary. If the opposition parties are not getting their leaders to resign despite the action of the central agencies, then its basis is that the agencies are harassing the opposition leaders at the behest of the ruling party. This is hurting both the reputation and credibility of the agencies. This is creating a perception that on one hand the leaders of opposition parties are corrupt, so central agencies are taking action against them, and on the other hand, the perception is also being created that central agencies have become a toy in the hands of the ruling party and are being used for political vendetta. To be taken out. If this perception is not changed, soon the parties as well as the agencies and constitutional institutions will be seen soaked in the huge quagmire of politics.