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Art of scam management

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Corruption and plutocracy were major issues in the 2014 election. Those issues helped delegitimise the UPA government. It is now worth asking how they are going to play out in the near future in the wake of the so-called Nirav Modi scam, and what ramifications they might have for India’s political and institutional life. One of the ironical consequences of the scam may be to subtly take corruption off the political agenda.

The Narendra Modi government is taking a political hit on this scam. It has deeply punctured its bombast and claims to providing a corruption-free India. The image of the wealthy allegedly scooting off to foreign lands with their loot while the poor were made to stand in line for their own money, is a damaging one. But there are significant political differences that make it unlikely that this scam will lead to a political crescendo against corruption in the near future.

The UPA was accused of direct looting of state assets, with many ministers running individual fiefdoms. In this case, the charge is more weakness, incompetence and inability to eradicate scams. It will take more to translate this into an allegation of corruption. The charges of looting by government have yet to stick. In the case of the UPA, the political charge was more potent because it was, at least at that time, made by new actors on the scene — an anti-corruption movement, an institution like the CAG, both of which at that time were not associated with political baggage. The anti-corruption movement has fizzled out and the AAP is now too caught up in its own complications to be a credible new face of anti-corruption. The former CAG, Vinod Rai, by so closely working with the BJP government, has retrospectively damaged the credibility of independent institutions. The Opposition still has too many skeletons in its cupboards. The bearers of the charges of corruption no longer carry much moral imprimatur themselves.

So, politically, what this means is this: The BJP thought it had a huge rhetorical advantage on corruption but it now increasingly looks like this issue will be a draw. The draw will be a kind of victory for the Congress because it takes away the BJP’s trump card, even if it does not lead to an anti-BJP crescendo. But a political draw on the corruption issue will mean the issue will get taken off the institutional agenda. There will be no pressure point for the regeneration of institutions, even as the eternal political pantomime on corruption gets played out.

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this is like anti congress in india.....anti obama in USA...this is how democracy works?....
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