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Political degeneration
Taj affair brings out many a skeletons out of the ruling coalition’s cupboard
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The winding up of the House Committee of the State Legislative Council by its Chairman Amrit Malhotra to look into the allegations of grabbing government land against Taj Mohiuudin, PHE minister in the NC-Congress coalition government as abruptly as it was constituted not only exposes the inherent weaknesses in our system of so-called parliamentary democracy, which is neither democratic nor adheres to the norms and procedures of such a system but also utter degeneration of our polity. While keeping the real issue under the lid the dissolution of the House Committee raises several issues of political morality, behaviour and propriety apart from a more important question of the impartiality, objectivity and independence of the presiding officers of the legislatures. While challenging the LC chairman’s authority to constitute a panel to probe into the allegations made against a minister, Taj Mohiuddin has leveled even more serious allegations against Malhotra which cast serious reflection even on the functioning of the legislature and the role of the presiding officers. He has gone to the extent of asking the Congress leadership, the party to which both he and the LC chairman belong, and the National Conference to remove the Chairman by moving a no-confidence motion against him. He accused Malhotra of being biased, partisan, acting at the behest of one faction of the Congress as also trying to weaken the coalition. The entire episode speaks of a polluted polity, political immorality and the institutional failure.

First and foremost is the very credibility of the legislature as an important pillar of democracy and the impartiality and independence of the presiding officers of its two houses. In this case the allegations of impropriety and partisanship of the LC chairman has been made none other than by a minister belonging to the very party to which Malhotra also belongs. Earlier on a number of occasions similar allegations of acting in a partisan manner to suit the interests of his own party-National Conference – were made inside and outside the House against the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Mohammed Akbar Lone by the main opposition People’s Democratic Party. Undoubtedly, while the standards of parliamentary debates and their functioning have degenerated fast in the country, the role of the presiding officers too has by and large ceased to be non-partisan. The very fact that even after their election to these offices the presiding officers continue to work for their respective parties, follow the commands of their party leadership and act at their behest violate the very essence of their being objective and non-partisan. This is bound to erode the very system of parliamentary democracy in the country.

The Taj episode also brings out many a chinks out of the cupboards of the coalition as well as the Congress party and their functioning. It clearly reflects the uneasy nature of the coalition as fortified by Mustafa Kamal’s utterances and the Congress rejoinders, of the ruling coalition, unquestionably a marriage of political convenience. On almost every issue the two coalition partners speak with different voices. That is obviously due to their different perceptions, ideologies and stances as also due to their strained relations in the past. The factionalism in the Congress is indeed not a new phenomenon, it has been there for the past several decades and is the result of its undemocratic functioning, lack of ideological clarity and absence of any political commitment by its leaders and rank and file for whom power is the be end and end all. The real fight both within the coalition and the two parties constituting it is for the loaves and fishes of office.

The basic issue of land grabbing or amassing of wealth by politicians of various hues by misusing their power and authority has been sidelined by bringing in two other questions, which are no doubt equally important. One need not single out Taj Mohiuddin alone in this regard. For accusing fingers have been pointed out at a large number of politicians including ministers and even the chief minister and his family on this account. It was in this context that PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti had suggested setting up of a high level commission to look into the assets – both movable and immovable- of all the politicians since 1975. Let them atleast come out with a declaration of their assets, particularly the manner in which they have been able to possess large tracts of land and raised palatial buildings. The process should begin from the top.
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News Updated at : Thursday, November 15, 2012
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