So It IS All About Money, Honey

That India’s democracy is the largest in the world is not unknown. We could even add ‘rowdiest’ and maybe ‘uncouth’; perhaps even illiterate, aggressive, and so on. Where else do you see the disrespect for the Speaker’s chair as in India? Where else do MPs stand and protest when there is nothing to shout your lungs out for? Where else does the Speaker almost beg the MPs to “please take your seats?”

An important day for Indian democracy, July 22, witnessed a lot of action, reactions and immense agitation. But then again, which Parliament session in independent India’s history has not been exposed to one of those?

But there was something different that happened yesterday – something quickly termed as the “Money for Vote Scam” as we don’t take much time to come up with innovative names to describe events, for the sake of our History books. For starters, let me just run you through this. Three BJP Members of Parliament – two from Madhya Pradesh and one from Rajasthan – threw in stacks of notes, amounting to a crore, into the Parliament’s well, alleging that they were bribed by Amar Singh of the Samajwadi Party and Ahmed Patel of the Indian National Congress.

And, even though a lot happened over the day, with Parliament having being adjourned twice before it, this scene takes the award for the ‘most horrible scene in the history of Indian democracy’. To add to its importance, it also caused two further adjournments within a span of 4 hours!

Now, we really don’t now how credible the allegation of the BJP MPs is – that time will tell. But there are some questions and observations, which I assume valid to raise right now:

For one, Mr. L.K. Advani – who was not in Parliament till 5.10 pm – walked in precisely when this event happened. I am not too sure if I would term this as merely a coincidence or part of a well-planned strategy. According to Mr. Advani’s statement, the MPs had told him about the event before the session began. How was it that Advani, a seasoned politician with 50 years of experience, didn’t advise them to inform the Speaker of this event?

Next, Mr. Amar Singh made an extremely valid point at a press conference soon after the ‘exposé’. He termed the three MPs as “political prostitutes” and wondered if they came to him to sell themselves. He added that he wasn’t naive to get into bed with them, saying “main kachcha khiladi nahin hoon.” (I am not a weak player)

The television News channel CNN IBN of the TV 18 group has access to the tapes of this ‘sting operation’. Now this sure was fodder for news channels – why then has the channel not aired it yet?

And now, the point that has left me perplexed. I have visited Parliament once, and I can swear the security is as much as it can get. It surprises me then that these MPs got into the house with all the money! Weren’t they checked? Or did every BJP MP carry a stack of notes each?

Another question. Why did the MPs begin throwing in the money just forty minutes prior to the Prime Minister’s speech? Perhaps, they were too busy protesting earlier, or maybe nervous. After all, it takes great guts for even a seasoned actor to perform live in front of an audience, doesn’t it?

Whatever the outcome of this event is, whether the BJP is proven right or the SP is found guilty, the truth is that it is a big blot on our so-called democracy.

For political reasons, the UPA government, I believe, should put in a resignation, even if it isn’t guilty. The government scored a point first when Mrs. Gandhi sacrificed the post of the PM, which almost everyone assumed was already occupied by her; then again, when she resigned due to the ‘Office of Profit’ controversy, only to return by a huger-margin-win! But then, I don’t know if this sacrifice will guarantee the Congress a victory. Maybe it is the BSP that wins, and Mayawati becomes PM and we have only God to ask for help. But that comes a little later.

The Left calls the UPA’s Trust Vote victory tainted. Well, that is just a small aspect of the whole event. The larger effect however is that Indian democracy has been stained, irrespective of the outcome of the investigations. We often cited our democracy as a factor that us over China.
Following this event, do we still have the right to do that? Definitely not. We should just hang our heads in shame, and disgust at the leaders we elect to Parliament!

Rohan Sandhu

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