A few days back, Lalit Modi, a name synonymous with IPL, tweeted about the shareholders of Rendezvous and Shashi Tharoor’s alleged involvement in influencing its stake. What followed was very surprising for both, Indian politics and cricket. The controversy became so huge that it led to an intervention by our Prime Minister. The result is for all to see. Infact, more is yet to come after the government probe into IPL funding.
The nation is divided over the issue of Tharoor’s resignation. Some think that the government was justified in ousting him to prevent the UPA from any further embarrassment. On the other hand, many people, especially his Twitter fans, believe that it was unfair to ask Tharoor to resign when there has been no or little action against people with bigger charges like A Raja, Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Jayalalitha, etc. Whatever be the debate, one thing is for sure - like there is an opportunity in every crisis, there is one in this crisis too.
Now that most of the ministers, irrespective of their political affiliations and background, are supporting the cause of strict action against politicians who have misused their powers; this is an opportune moment for the government to frame a policy for future course of action under such circumstances.
Some of the issues that can be addressed through this policy are as follows. First, what are the types of charges that should be considered by the government for action? Second, what are the sources of information that should be relied upon? Third, what action should be taken when there are charges levied against some minister(s)? This includes short-term and long-term actions. Should the ministers continue to be in office till they are proven guilty by the court of law? Should some of their powers be clipped in the interim? Should there be a council of ministers overseeing them in the meanwhile?
Most importantly, the government should communicate to the public at large. The citizens of our country have the right to know what action is being taken and why? If this was done for Tharoor, then there would have been no room for speculation or debate. It is very important for the public to know what evidences led to such a strict action against him. This shall help his supporters and opponents re-frame their opinions about him.
This policy should be framed in consultation with all parties so that there is no scope for dissent later. Moreover, it should be legally enforceable. Right now, there is no written framework to follow. If there is one, then it is not in public knowledge and is not being followed that makes it as good as not being there. Such events depend on the judgement of the ruling party, which is subjective, leading to discontent for many.
If successful, then this policy shall go a long way in cleaning our political system of bad elements. It is only then that the ‘New India’, that the media is often seen talking about, shall become a reality.
(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer and an LSR(DU) and IIM Lucknow, Noida Campus alumna)