The Supreme Court has given a significant ruling. It has sought a ban on convicted legislators, both at the states and Centre, from the office. The middle class will welcome the move, saying it will clean up the system. But there lies the big question. How will the system be cleaned up?
There is no denying that the health of the Indian polity has declined over the years and politics has essentially become a profession of the criminals. But there is, at the same time, a big irony that rules our politics. It is seen as a dirty profession by qualified minds who choose to pursue more lucrative career options and when this creates a vacuum in our political structure which is subsequently filled up by all kinds of evil elements, the rest of the society cries for help.
The judiciary enters the scene like a Bollywood hero does towards the end of the drama to teach the villains a lesson or two and then all becomes fine. Unfortunately, the real and harsh socio-political life of a country doesn't run well just with the help of a few cosmetic changes. It doesn't work like that.
The intervention of the apex court of the country to fix the problem in administration shows the steady deterioration our democratic system has undergone. It has reached a point where the judiciary has to push the legislature to ensure the executive functions well. The system is bound to sink if one pillar of the polity has to support another. But this is precisely what's happening.
The problem with the Indian psyche is that we expect to flourish like the developed world, whether it is economically or politically, without actually having an infrastructure compatible to theirs. The Indian system doesn't reward individuals. It is always a group or community identity which is prominent in the public life.
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Indian politics survives on votebanks
Our democracy survives on votebanks, which is basically a form of group loyalty. And in such a system, expecting parties to voluntarily opt for clean candidates with little 'loyalty' over those who are tainted but effective is nothing more than daydreaming.
We have grown our politics as a means to polarise communities and influential men have made use of the situation by shaping the political preference of communities and groups that they belong to or appeal to. And it is facilitated more by localised compulsion. Whether it is on lines of religion, caste or any other divisive criteria, parties know that ultimately it is the vote that matters and whoever draws the most number of ballots for them will be rewarded. This is realpolitik. Morality doesn't hold much ground in politics. It actually never did anywhere in human history. It is just because we live in an age of massive media coverage that a sense of morality is being marketed for attractive but unproductive debates tailor-made for the pseudo-morality of the middle class.
Parties like AAP will be equally vulnerable to this disease once they are tested
The opposition parties are exposed more by such rulings. Take for example, the Aam Aadmi Party. At this moment, it is establishing noble claims of keeping itself above all sorts of criminal allegations. But that was something which greats like Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel might also have thought. But still we can see the condition of the Congress today.
The AAP should thank its stars if it never wins any election and remain in the opposition, targetting the rulers of the day. For once this still-to-be-tested party finds itself amid the game, some 'foetus party' will expose it to the hilt.
Court cases take years to be settled
Moreover, as actor Raveena Tandon rightly feels, the dragging-on of cases in the courts for years will ultimately lead to nothing concrete. So before raising the legislature's degree of accountability, it is important that the judiciary is also reformed and justice be made a speedy affair.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet blockquote"><p>Only worry being,cases take 15 to 20 years for judgement,till then criminal allowed in office,flawed,fasttrack courts needed</p>— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) <a href="https://twitter.com/TandonRaveena/statuses/355179140795736064">July 11, 2013</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Parties, which never agree on any issue, will readily agree on this
And moreover, what about the implementation of such orders? We see parties flouting even lesser orders of the court. This is a major issue and ironically, parties which fail to arrive at a consensus even when there is a natural disaster or terror attack, they will readily join hands to oppose the apex court's verdict on convicted politicians.
We don't want elections become a chair-filling game
It won't be an easy task to prove a huge number of legislators (the entire country included) guilty and disqualify them. What the country doesn't want a new crisis in governance by seats falling vacant and elections becoming a game of filling up slots.