Those were the years when the people in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar thought that now the change was about to come. The crowd at his gathering was increasing regularly. The speeches were laced with new adjectives of ‘future of India’.
Rajiv’s clean image had taken a beating. The exposé had jolted his government. As the Finance Minister, he ordered that the corruption charges against prominent industrialists be probed. Many of them had to go to jail. He selected his officers on the basis of their probity and personal strength. They gave him results. Soon, the ‘best Finance Minister’ was shunted out of the Ministry to ‘defend’ the country. The industrialists wanted him out. He ordered an inquiry against corrupt politicians too and they also wanted his exit. No industrial house in India can survive without corruption. Tax evasions were rampant and he was trying to find out the big fishes without understanding that these sharks would connive together and throw him out.
He was sent to the Defence Ministry ignoring the big public opinion against his ouster. The govern-ment of that the day was habitual of such things. Rajiv was surrounded by the coterie and completely ignored saner advices. As he moved to the Defence Ministry, he found that there was a commission paid in the HDW Howitzer deal ordered from Germany. The Bofors report also came out and it became difficult for the Congress to hide its face. This ‘he’ that time was V.P. Singh whom we all love to hate despite his personal integrity and honesty in political life.
Yes, V.P. Singh was dismissed from the primary membership of the Congress Party for his fight against corruption. Yet, the successful thing was that he became the symbol of the fight against corruption in India in the late eighties. The students, middle classes jumped up and joined hands. His personal image remained clean all the time. The government of the day started a personal vendetta and fictitious reports were planted. Editors were hired to write in papers. Some of the biggest names of the Indian media jumped into the fray and allowed themselves to be used in a vicious propaganda against Singh. A fake account was opened under his son Ajeya Singh’s name in St. Kitts Island which later turned out to be fictitious. His ancestral property issue also cropped up. Yet, V.P. Singh could survive because he was simply a man of integrity and his life was open for probe.
The upper-caste middle classes were first to jump on his bandwagon when they realise that he was now ready to overthrow the government. The Brahmins of Varanasi anointed him with title ‘Rajarshi’ and he developed tremendous goodwill of the people, that is, the upper castes.
V.P. Singh came to power in 1989. He ensured that people with integrity take charge of the Ministry. The government was functioning well. It started allowing freedom to Doordarshan and All India Radio. It was refreshing to see news that time. It was working on labour and election reforms. A lot of other issues, including the Lokpal, was under consideration then. That apart, the Janata Dal as a political party had promised to fulfil 27 per cent quota for the OBCs.
On August 7, 1990, V.P. Singh announced the acceptance of the Mandal Commission recommen-dations in Parliament. For one month nothing happened and slowly the upper castes realised that their control over power is slipping and unless a slanderous campaign is started, they will be completely out of power. So, not only slander but everything that was available in the dictionary was used to defame the Dalits and OBCs. The middle class Hindus were in the streets against the OBC quota. V.P. Singh became one of the most hated politicians of our time. So much that none of the Hindu journalists ever want to say good things about him. Today, when we are fighting against corruption, none of these leaders bother to even mention his name. Why?
The answer lies in the upper-caste hatred against anything that provides connection of power to the Dalits and marginalised. V.P. Singh was the greatest person as long as he was talking about corruption and but he became the worst man once he started talking about the Dalits and OBCs. His government not only ensured the OBC quota but it also provided reservation for neo-Buddhists at the centenary celebrations of Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and honoured him with Bharat Ratna. Similarly, Mayawati is not corrupt as long as she placates the upper castes but as soon as she erected those monuments of the Dalit Bahujan icons in the city of Lucknow, we are angry because we feel that the natural inheritor of our roundabouts in the city centre are the Gandhis, Nehrus, and our so many gods and goddesses. The upper caste-middle class feeling is that the Dalit Bahujan icons should remain in the bastis and dalitwadas.
WHEN we talk about corruption, how can we ignore the illicit land deals in our country? How can Anna and his team just feel that corruption is only in terms of money? The biggest corruption in today’s India is the sale of our natural resources, our land, forest and water. What is their stand on it? What will they do that powerful and well-connected people do not buy land just because they have money? Will we put a ceiling on land in India despite the people’s purchasing power? When the civil society wants to judge everyone, who will judge the civil society? What is this civil society? Did Anna and his team follow any principle of democracy in forming his team? How does democracy survive with such black-mailing tactics of Gandhi who used it to foil the separate electorate of Dalits?’
The issue of corruption is not a minor one but then those who want to fight against it should also remain clean. Yes, for people like us, they should not only be clean but also have faith in our secular pluralistic values and cannot be hate-preachers. How are these multi-billionaires, who have acquired their property in each State and even outside India, interested in the fight against corruption? Doesn’t Anna and his team know about the Baba and his games, his property and money? Is it a fight among those who say you have grabbed over one hundred million rupees and it is now our term to do so? How are we going to talk about individuals? Democracy will have to come out of such individualism and work. Yes, corruption affects us all. So why not we start to work developing a movement from the ground involving those whose lands have been grabbed by the local elites who may be donating huge sums to these anti-corruption crusaders? Should we not see who these forces we want to project as alternative are?
Just because there is a crowd does not mean that it has the right to do anything. Crowd does not provide legitimacy. Many of our friends actually feel that anyone who brings out the crowd is great. Yes, the Baba’s crowd was not a crowd for social justice. Anna’s crowd is similar. The stupidity of the Sangh’s propaganda is that the Ramlila Ground incident is being portrayed as Jalianwalla Bagh massacre. And see their gleeful faces at Rajghat. Sushma was dancing while Advani was comparing this incident to Jalianwalla Bagh. None ever questioned about the fictitious land deals of Ram Dev and other Babas. If we ignore the vital corruption in terms of land in the name of mutts, temples, gurudwaras and mosques, we cannot fight against corruption. In fact, we provide legitimacy. We cannot start a movement in which a majority of the population feels isolated, and fearful. The concern of 20 per cent Indian Muslims and other minorities are important and cannot be ignored. It is not just corruption but also their place in India and partnership in decision-making. How do we allow Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and others partnership in our movement if we allow the entire reactionary forces in our decision-making? Just because you want to eliminate the Congress Party does not mean you can ally with anyone.
Yes, if the government and those who claim to work for us, are serious, then they must talk about corruption of all kinds, in all forms, anywhere. And not talk what is suitable to the middle classes who started corruption and want to lead the movement against it too. We want the government to release all the land papers of temples, mutts, gurudwaras, churches and mosques. Let the people know how much money is lying there and who is using that for what purpose. Anna Hazare and his team would do great harm if they do not consider this as corruption. Will they speak on it? Will they take on the religious thugs sitting on our land and water and preaching of austerity to us?
The Hindutva forces are working overnight on their agenda. They will use all the platforms which bring back power to the bramanical social order. After Ramdev, they want to bring back Uma Bharati to fight against Mayawati. While the Congress is shamelessly sticking to the Brahmin elite in Uttar Pradesh, the Hindutva forces are busy experimenting and who else can they use better than the Shudras? It is time we understand the dangers of such a fight against corruption and expose them tooth and nail. None can be a bigger threat to India than the ascendancy of the Hindutva forces to power. Let us fight against corruption and expose the very source of it.