While most of India is still unaware of the finer details, there is no doubt that the 2G scam is Independent India’s biggest scam. The Rs 1.76 lakh crore figure ensured that it made it to the Top 2 of Time magazine’s all time abuse of power list.
There is also no doubt that former Telecom Minister A Raja is at the centre of this scam. And yet an extremely peculiar sight greeted the nation recently. Raja, after spending 15 months in Tihar jail, got a hero’s welcome in his home state of Tamil Nadu.
He was mobbed by crowds, people were chanting his name, a person tried to honour him by putting a shawl on him and so on and so forth. One could be forgiven for thinking that this person had won a world cup for his country.
What kind of an electorate rewards criminals? The Indian one of course!
This is the electorate of the same state which thinks nothing of taking freebies like TV sets from the government. No-one sees this as a form of bribe, which it actually is. Elsewhere people happily accept 500 and 1000-Rupee notes without thinking what a short-term gratification it is compared to year-long economic hardships that mis-governance is giving them.
Tamil Nadu also has the unique record of booting whichever party is in power in the Assembly elections from 1989 onwards. The ADMK-DMK pendulum is a chilling murder of democracy. Jayalalitha in her first term as chief minister in 1991 was a disaster and was booted out. When she returned in 2002, she focused on development and had roads and industries to show for her work. She was still shown the door.
The message is clear: Be good or bad, focus on development or corruption, we will throw you out all the same! There is absolutely no saving grace in such a policy.
Giving them a really long rope
Similar examples can be found all over India. Take West Bengal. When the CPM came to power in 1977, there was great hope and the Left actually delivered on many counts. But with each successive term, things got worse and soon West Bengal languished at the bottom of development index.
Despite that, in all the West Bengal electorate gave the CPM a really long rope of 34 years.
The case of Laloo Prasad Yadav and Bihar is even more curious. At least the CPM showed initial results. Laloo was a disaster from Day 1. Bihar was a case of zero development, zero law and order, zero vision and zero governance.
We had the fodder scam and Laloo was even jailed. In a bizarre move Laloo’s wife Rabri Devi became CM. The end result was that this mis-governance lasted for a whopping 15 years. Laloo being elected was a tragedy, but his being re-elected twice was nothing short of a major farce.
In Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati was a disaster when she became CM. The electorate still rewarded her with a majority in the future. Mulayam Singh Yadav also led a lawless UP when he led the state for the first time and he too was given a majority in the recent elections.
No-one even bothered to go anywhere near the other alternatives of BJP and Congress.
The NDA was mysteriously booted out in 2004 when there seemed to be no wave against them and they were doing a pretty decent job. Equally mysteriously the UPA was re-elected in 2009 despite being one of the shakiest central governments ever.
The nation is still paying for that mistake well into 2012. The economy is in a tailspin and the amount of scams being unearthed in the UPA regime is unparalleled.
Rewarding criminals, punishing development.
People keep talking of the fact that about a quarter of the Lok Sabha is full of chargesheeted MPs. But the larger question is how a quarter of the Indian electorate voted for them in the first place! Aren’t they really the guilty party?
It’s not that charges came to light at a later stage. Chargesheeted candidates fought elections and won them convincingly. What does this tell you about the electorate?
On the other hand, Chief Ministers with strong development credentials have been dropped like hot potatoes. Karnataka’s SM Krishna and Andhra Pradesh’s N Chandrababu Naidu come to mind. Both states are reeling today.
Luckily Gujarat’s Narendra Modi and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar have bucked this trend, but they are exceptions rather than being part of the general rule.
The Indian electorate is not selfish
Most electorates all over the world see which candidate will give them a better life and vote accordingly. Not so in India. Voters vote along caste and communal lines. They don’t even look at the candidate and simply vote for the party. They get swayed by sympathy waves and other meaningless trends.
After every election, there are TV debates, opinions and analyses that Indian democracy has matured and the electorate cannot be fooled.
The frightening truth is that India is probably the stupidest electorate in the world and that’s why we are suffering for it.
More by this author:
Congress: Getting it Left, Right and Centre
IPL diary: Of great chases and changing hairstyles
Coming soon: A 36-run over
India desperately requires electoral reforms
Who will be the next Prime Minister of India?
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/