ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Caste in the Play of Corruption

Why does a Bangaru Laxman suffer prosecution for corruption but a Nitin Gadkari generally go scot-free? What of the part of caste in the play of corruption?

A spate of exposés of corrupt deals of Robert Vadra, Salman Khurshid, and Nitin Gadkari by Arvind Kejriwal and other activists of “India Against Corruption” has symbolically revealed what is experientially already known to Indians – how debau­ched our political class is. When Vadra, a non-descript trader, emerged as notable business tycoon – thanks to his entry into the Nehru family by marriage – with a series of shady land grab deals, and got a clean chit, nobody was surprised. When Salman Khurshid could not stomach allegations of financial irregularities against a non-governmental organisation run by his wife and chaired by his mother, he behaved like none other than “a mafia don”. He was captured by television channels indulging in stupid falsifications and issuing an unbecoming threat of death to Kejriwal, who made the claims. Yet, soon thereafter, he got a promotion in a cabinet reshuffle, but no one was surprised.

Nitin Gadkari’s exposé – obviously meant to be a balancing act to appear that Kejriwal and his fellow activists were targeting both Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – did not have much of an initial sting. But, upon further probing by the media, it snowballed into a mega misdemeanour. Those who were surprised expected him to at least tender his resignation as president of the BJP, at least in keeping with the precedence set by Bangaru Laxman, a Madiga dalit who was also president of the BJP but was forced to resign upon being implicated in corruption in a dramatic sting operation by Tehelka.com. But Gadkari would not follow in Laxman’s footsteps, and thus the part of caste in the play of corruption came to the fore.

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