The catchwords of our politics

The catchwords of our politics

If there are famous expressions in Indian politics, “keeping communal forces out" and “the law will take its course" surely merit a place among them. When Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati decided to support the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on Tuesday, she invoked the first line.

But why blame only her? The Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal aren’t blameless either.

This is not the first time a political party has made a mockery of secularism. Two years ago, when the UPA was in trouble over the nuclear deal, there were similar noises that were made. It is another matter that just before secularism finds mention in such situations, some political quid pro quo has been executed days (and at times, even hours) before this foundational principle is trotted out. The correlation between such deals and a change of winds in Parliament is so tight that a statistician would find it embarrassing.

Were it not for the sorry state of the Bharatiya Janata Party— the “communal force" in such formulations—one could even feel sorry at the way secularism as a principle was being devalued. But that time is long past.

Then consider the expression “law will take its course". Whenever some politician says so, one can be sure that all evidence is gone and the law probably lacks the teeth to do anything. Maybe that’s too cynical. But what else does one say when one reads headlines about income-tax authorities probing malfeasance in the Indian Premier League? When was the last time a big fish was indicted in a tax case?

The problem is not that income-tax authorities can’t find evidence. The issue is that there is gross politicization of the investigative wings of the government. Whether it be the Central Bureau of Investigation, the directorate of investigation in the income-tax department or other investigative or enforcement arms, all have been blunted by frequent, if not pervasive, political interference.

So the price the country has to pay for saving the government from cut motions in Parliament is the emboldening of all manner of crooks elsewhere in the country. But this is well known . It is time to enjoy the political catchwords show.

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