‘If tainted leaders come to power, they may tamper with the files and weaken the cases against them,’ says former Lokayukta of Karnataka Santosh Hegde
The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party -- the biggest political parties in the fray for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls -- have both granted tickets to tainted candidates.
While the Congress has granted a ticket to former Union railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, the BJP has given one to B Sriramulu. Both leaders are facing serious charges of corruption.
Winning an election, evidently, is more important than morality and clean governance, rues Justice Santosh Hegde, the former Lokayukta of Karnataka
In a candid chat with Rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa, Justice Hegde, whose report on illegal mining had named several prominent politicians in Karnataka, says that every political party is willing to compromise on their values to win an election.
“All political parties are after power. Every alleged act of corruption carried out by Sriramulu and Bansal has been ignored with the intention of winning elections. If these people come to power, there is a good chance they will tamper with files and weaken the case, including the one on illegal mining.
“When political parties speak of values, it is just a figure of speech.
“The practice of political parties fielding so many criminal candidates is a disappointing phenomenon. It sends a message to the youth of the country -- become rich in any manner and do not worry about it. But it is heartening to learn that the Supreme Court has ordered the completion of the trial in corruption cases against legislators within a year. It will ensure that the percentage of conviction goes up and the chances of witnesses turning hostile become less.
“The average time taken to complete a case against a legislator is seven years. Then they seek recourse in appellate courts and that increases the delay. Quick convictions and the completion of a trial will instil fear in such candidates.
“Investigations and convictions should happen at a quick pace. If these tainted candidates come to power, the cases against them will suffer.
“I was shocked to see the statement by the Central Bureau of Investigation -- that some cases against Lalu Prasad should be dropped. I would like to know why the agency is saying this about a 16-year-old case. It is clear that this is nothing but an election tactic as the ruling party is in an alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
“What has the Aam Aadmi Party proved? They have proved that when there is a will there is a way. But they missed out on a crucial factor called governance in Delhi.
“The AAP is only an indicator for change, but I doubt whether they can bring about that change. There appears to be a lot of disappointment in the manner in which this party has functioned. Chaos at railway stations and a dharna by their chief minister in a prohibited area are unwanted acts which have not gone down too well with the public”.
Image: A political rally in Kolkata