Corruption is taken for granted in India, notwithstanding the new avatar of anti-corruption movement led by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Of late it has been the Congress, which ruled the country for the past 10 years, admitting corruption in the government. Rahul Gandhi is on the forefront of an ‘anti-corruption crusade’ in the party credited for scandals that are blots in the country’s history of past six decades. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh obediently echoes Rahul while Sonia Gandhi always flaunts an anti-corruption baton, which beats none. Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma had no other option but to toe the party (or Rahul) line. He, who has been blamed for guarding the ‘tainted’ cabinet minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, admitted that corruption is a major issue before the public in this Lok Sabha election. Ampareen was named in a CBI report to have allegedly directed education department officials in 2010 to tamper with score-sheets of candidates for several hundred posts of lower primary school teachers. The then education minister, Ampareen, along with over a dozen politicians also recommended unreasonably high number of candidates– one of them recommended as many as 37 names – for the jobs.
Mukul Sangma’s candid admission about corruption with a rider that the problem is ‘inherent’ for decades implies the Congress’ desperation in the face of the Narendra Modi wave sweeping the country. The chief minister, however, did not dare point out the areas of corruption, which he would have done had he been in the Opposition. Nevertheless, anti-corruption voices are heard everywhere in this election. It is too early to say if the credit goes entirely to the new wave created by Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP. But, for sure, AAP has given a new dimension to politics by resorting to unconventional ways of winning the hearts of people. While BJP has allotted the AAP Brahmastra a prime place in its poll armoury the Congress has shed its arrogance and trying to be honest by admitting to corruption taken place during its 10-year rule. The country will have to wait till May 16 to know if such kind of last-minute ‘honesty’ will do any damage control for the Congress or is it already too late.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on March 8)