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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 31 New Delhi July 25, 2015

Politicians can no longer ignore Vyapam’s point: That India is more than Congress and BJP

Sunday 26 July 2015, by T J S George


One of the misfortunes of our country is that everything is reduced to Congress vs BJP. This is because everything is political in nature, whether it is getting admission to a kindergarten, encashing a pension entitlement, getting into a sports team or getting out of a traffic accident you have caused. All activities revolve round recommendations, political interference, wire-pulling and bribes. If the Congress does not blame the BJP for this year’s erratic monsoon, it will be only because the channel shouters have not yet organised a “debate”.

It is no surprise therefore that the Madhya Pradesh Vyapam scandal follows the traditions set by scandals of the past; one party pretends to be snow-white pure and accuses the other of being jet-black evil, the other party returning the favour with equal fervour. India and its interests are nowhere in the picture. The Commonwealth Games scandal was a national disgrace. But it was made out as though it was the handiwork of Congressmen, not greedy men. Same was the story of the 2-G spectrum scam, the coal block auction scam, the Italian helicopter scam, the Tatra trucks scam. The BJP went into attack mode as though it was the epitome of moral uprightness; the Congress defended the indefensible with no sense of guilt.

In the Vyapam scam, the absence of any sense of guilt on the part of the State leaders was astonishing. Till the very last the Chief Minister refused to see anything wrong in the local police doing the investigation. The State Home Minister blandly said all the deaths that occurred were natural deaths. Cabinet Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya outdid all when he referred to the sudden death of a journalist and said: “Forget that journalist who died. Is he more important than me?” There was a designated BJP television spokesman who spoke like a robot, defending the indefensible.

Two things stand out in this kind of party games. First, putting the party’s interests above basic human decencies. When a man suddenly dies in the middle of an assignment, common courtesy demands a gesture of respect and sympathy. It takes an unusual measure of depravity to use the occasion to project one’s self-importance. Somebody must have told Vijayvargiya about the nastiness of his distasteful words. His response was, not to apologise, but to charge all and sundry for twisting his words. How low can politicians get?

The second reality brought to light by the Vyapam scam is that nothing, not even health and education, is safe when greedy politicians are around. Basically the scam centred round widespread manipulation of examinations for

professional courses. Fake students and fake answer papers were used to ensure seats for those who paid the required bribes. Medical college admissions were decided on this basis, as were the competitive examinations to recruit police constables, sub-inspectors and food inspectors. The system has been in place since 2003, so several “doctors” and “food inspectors“ must be out there manning hospitals and certifying food quality in restaurants. We can imagine the plight of patients under the care of such doctors and the standards of hygiene in eateries supervised by such inspectors. Everyday life of people is endangered for the sake of Ministers, officers and fixers who want to collect

easy money under the counter. This is what democracy and elections have come to mean in real life. It remains so irrespective of which party is in power.

The MP Government has issued its formal notification for examinations to be conducted in the first week of September 2015. It is a temptingly worded invitation to “talented candidates“ to seize the opportunity of a lifetime. Among the 1519 vacancies to be filled are forest guard, agricultural development officer, land survey officer, revenue inspector and staff nurse. It is a safe bet that the politician-babu-mafia axis will do its best to manipulate the examinations this year too, ignoring all the hullabaloo the scandal has kicked up. Evil continues in cycles in our country because when one cycle creates scandals that stink to high heavens, the authorities who should take immediate action do not take any action. All parties put their party interests above the nation’s interests. The MP Chief Minister yielded to CBI investigation only when it became clear that the Supreme Court was going to take up the case. The Prime Minister, as usual, has not said a word about a scandal that has scarred his party and his own anti-corruption image. His speeches made Narendra Modi. Will his silences unmake him?