This piece was also published on IndiaOpines (Feb 2, 2014)
Mrs. Kiran Bedi ,
With hardly 3 months to go for Lok Sabha, there is no time for exchanging pleasantries.So, let me get right to the matter: it is your personal right to endorse Mr. Narendra Modi for prime minister candidate but you are absolutely wrong in justifying the same using the so-called logic of putting ‘nation first’. By doing this, you have put a big question mark around your last three years of social life as an anti-corruption proponent, who advocated for strong anti-corruption law to hold all people in public life accountable. Let me be clear, you have a clean track record in your public service as police officer and am not questioning that. You have shown courage in standing up to the power centers of Delhi then and I only wish you had same courage now to stand up for right thing. You certainly have all right to endorse person of your choice but I, like many others, have a problem when you do as an anti-corruption activist who was part of the erstwhile social movement: ‘India Against Corruption’ and use that legacy to push the agenda of one particular party.
India Against Corruption was against Cong in power not BJP in Opposition.Hence how can one be with Pol-Party the Whole Movement was against?
— Kiran Bedi (@thekiranbedi) January 13, 2014
Firstly, it is utterly shocking when you implied that you always thought IAC stood for ‘India Against Congress’ and not overall corruption, that movement was only targeting the present ruling party and not against the equally corrupt opposition parties. I wonder how you missed the speeches and debates of many others fellow leaders of the movement, who were criticizing all political parties equally, their hand-in-glove relationship and their ‘you-scratch-my-back-and-I-will-scratch-yours’ attitude. Yes, there were several right-leaning supporters, masked as ‘gurus’ and businessmen, jumped on the bandwagon mistaking this anti-establishment movement as anti-congress movement and hoping to ride the wave to power but only to be pushed or nudged out eventually. However, I didn’t expect you to fall in that same bracket. Many normal citizens who joined it genuinely wanted to keep all the established parties – be it congress, BJP or left – at arm’s length and hold the feet of all the ruling class to fire but it is shocking to know that you were playing favorites all this while.
You made this grand announcement with your tweet:
For me it’s India First! Stable,Well Governed, Administered, Accountable and Inclusive. As a an independent voter, my vote is for NaMo
— Kiran Bedi (@thekiranbedi) January 9, 2014
This statement has extremely contradictory points and let me break it down:
Accountable: IAC movement’s prime objective was to fix the accountability of elected leaders by appointing independent and transparent Lokpal in the centre and Lokayuktha in the states and there by making all public officials, including prime minister and chief ministers, accountable to these institutions. We all know congress government rebuffed this idea but isn’t Gujarat chief minister Modi guilty of the same crime? Didn’t he block the appointment of Lokayukt in his state for last 7 years? What about the CAG indictment of Modi’s government for favoring industrialists, causing loss of Rs. 5, 000 crore to state exchequer? What made you, the ‘champion’ of accountability, endorse a public official who refuses to make oneself accountable to public?
Inclusive: I really hope this is a typo and you meant to say something else because Mr. Modi may be known for many things but ‘inclusiveness’ is not his strong suit, to say the least. A basic tenet of inclusiveness is to ensure proper representation of all sections of society. Muslim community in Gujarat constitutes close to ten percent of total electorate but not even one token representation was given out of the 182 total candidate put up by the party in 2012 assembly elections. As a matter of fact, Modi hasn’t fielded one Muslim candidate for state assembly during his three time chief-ministership. So, please enlighten me: what ‘inclusiveness’ are we talking about here? At national level, minorities form little over 20% of total population. Are things going to be any different now or are we going to see all candidates from one community again?
You backed your endorsement tweet with more reasoning: ”Any one of us who wants a scam free country cannot vote back Congress! India needs stability and experienced hands to provide for all!”
It is true that successive congress governments should own major blame for pathetic and corrupt governance for decades but you know very well that oppositions have been no better. In states where opposition got a chance to rule, things weren’t any better. Gujarat model of development has been debated ad nauseam on whether infrastructure is more important than human development and also the serious charges of crony capitalism. BJP government in Karnataka, only government it formed in South India, was mired in deep corruption scandals, amounting to hundred thousand crores of which mining scam being the prime example, got routed in recent elections. Yeddyurappa, the face of that government, quit the party temporarily only to back a stellar comeback. Top BJP leaders in Delhi patronized Reddy brothers who were behind the mining scam. So, how is it that now we can expect a scam-free government from the same party? Aren’t you selling us a phony dream of corruption-free & good governance by endorsing prime ministerial candidate of the same party?
There are several other things that can be pointed but you get my drift. Delhi’s Aam Aadmi wave has only one lesson for everyone – people are fed up with the overall system and not with a single party. They don’t want to simply change the names and faces of governance but to change the way governance happens in our country. We need overall reforms of our political system and not short-term solutions. We can’t vote out the ruling party and bring opposition to power, only to do the same 5 years later. It is not too late to change your mind and I appeal you to at the least make your support conditional to the BJP. Please give your support only in return for some basic demands:
1. Ensure full implementation of Right to Information act and complete financial transparency in the party. All donations and spending are published and open to public scrutiny.
2. No tickets to tainted / criminal candidates in upcoming and future elections, neither for candidates from political dynasties. Maintain a transparent and clean candidate selection process.
3. Promise to provide independent Lokpal, investigative agencies like CBI, police and judicial reforms if elected to power.
I hope you consider this letter with open mind and review your position. Unfortunately, your blanket endorsement of one party makes the overall battle for systemic changes weaker. Most importantly, you are certainly not putting the ‘nation first’, rather your eagerness to see particular party lose and make another win is harming us. Be assured, our nation is not going to win irrespective of who wins the election unless we make the system stronger there by whoever governs will be accountable to people and will have to provide good governance.