The former Chief Whip of the ruling coalition in Kerala, Mr. P. C. George, has released a letter to the media, which he has sent to the Chief Minister of the State, Mr. Oomen Chandy. In the letter, among other accusations, George alleges that the Finance Minister of the State, Mr. K. M. Mani, had “sold” the state finance budget to private companies. George has made the accusation that Mani demanded fifty million rupees as bribe and was paid the same. The letter also levels several detailed charges of corruption and nepotism rife within the ruling coalition in the state.
To what extent are the allegations true is a question to be investigated by the police and adjudicated by the court. Unfortunately, such an investigation and – if it reveals crimes – prosecution, will never occur in Kerala. The Chief Minister of the state has already said that he “will leave the accusations aside and move on.”
It is not news when Indian politicians accuse each other of corruption and nepotism. It has happened countless times before and will continue. However, instances where accusations have led to investigations are rare, convictions near non-existent. This is not because Indian politics is devoid of corruption and that such accusations are baseless. It is the result of the culture of impunity politicians in the country have carefully built and take care to maintain.
The justice process in India is built and nurtured around this culture: one that favours the rich and the powerful. It is a process with which the influential can persecute the less privileged. “Justice” is a process that selectively caters to those who can afford to invoke it, either exploiting the ambivalence of the process or its ferocity. Either way the process is misused.
The country’s investigation agencies will only investigate crimes committed by politicians, if they are under exceptional pressure. Besides they are neither expected nor equipped to undertake scientific crime investigation. All large-scale corruption scams in the country usually has both politicians and high-ranking police officers deeply involved.
So, today, corruption in Indian politics is not news. An observation like 60% of the Indian legislators in the Parliament and the state legislative houses are criminals is passé.
This is the reason why complaints made to the police are never taken seriously by the agency. So much so, people who can afford to do so resort to private justice, where they think justice is served upon their complaints. Police offering service only to those who can pay is hence the norm in the country.
What all this has led to is a broken republic. Its foundational promise of democratic values and that of justice have long eroded, leaving a deep chasm. Fundamentalism and other forms of extremism are gradually filling this void.
The Indian media, which has also suffered from this rapid value erosion, has learned to play with the tide. So, for the media, the letter sent by George is mere opportunity to sell a few extra copies or to increase their viewership ratings. Tomorrow they will be fed with another piece of news, which will also be carried for but a few days, until it is time to move on like the Chief Minister Oomen Chandey.
What is left behind in the wake is a population that is deeply defeated, insulted, and disorientated. This is ripe ground for fundamentalist and extremist forces to exploit.