New Delhi
Prime accused in the Geetika Sharma suicide case, former Haryana minister Gopal Kanda’s growing clout before the assembly polls reflects a sad state of affairs

Undeterred by the controversy over Geetika Sharma’s suicide for which Gopal Kanda was behind bars for more than a year and has got out on bail only in March, the former Haryana minister has floated his own party. Such is his confidence that Kanda has proudly declared that Sharma’s death wouldn’t affect his poll prospects in the assembly elections in which his newly formed Haryana Lokhit party would contest in all the 90 seats. Riding high on the alleged support of 12 lakh members, his is a classic case of how tainted politicians muscle their way into the corridors of power, regardless of the gravity of their crimes. It’s a new low for Indian politics in general, and the state in particular where the incumbent Congress government led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda is grappling with land scams and charges of corruption.

In August 2012 when the 23-year-old Sharma ended her life and accused Kanda of harassment in her suicide note, the deafening public outcry had forced the Delhi police to arrest him. Now that the outrage has petered out and Hooda’s government is battling a strong anti-incumbency wave, Kanda has intensified efforts to shore up his political ratings.

The existing framework of Indian politics will continue to give people like Kanda opportunities to stage a comeback, even if that entails bending the rules and compromising the ethics of politics and governance. On the one hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urges the Supreme Court to fast-track criminal cases against politicians, and on the other, his government continues to harbour ministers with dubious reputation. The Association for Democratic Reforms’ report reveals that seven of his colleagues face serious charges such as attempt to murder, creating communal disharmony and violating election code.

The BJP should refrain from making tall claims that it is cleaning up the system by removing Congress-appointed governors and taking on the judiciary on the grounds that it is corrupt and insular. Modi’s spectacular rise to power, garnering absolute majority for the BJP, was based on the promise of achhe din. The electorate tired of corruption, inflation and lack of governance, had looked up to Modi in the belief that he can make all the difference. But good days cannot just be about economic prosperity for a chosen few when, for the entire country to flourish, the key centres of power need to be made more transparent and accountable. For that to happen, Modi should set an example by pushing for reforms that strips tainted politicos of power and prevents them from seeking re-election. It is a tough battle — one that will turn loyalists into enemies. Given that his party has virtually demolished political rivals in the Lok Sabha, Modi can afford to take the risk. By cracking the whip in his own party, he can push the opposition to follow suit. Purged of criminal and corrupt elements, a democratic system that thrives on the principle of collective well being will finally start delivering the goods.

It is not in BJP’s and Modi’s best interest to maintain the status quo when it has promised the people that the dark days of UPA wouldn’t return to haunt their lives. He cannot squander away an opportunity that could very well trigger a permanent change in the murky world of politics.

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