Saving Minister Taj

Story of NC and Congress’ successful campaign to protect their colleague from probe



It was an engaging spectacle witnessing the House Committee formed by the Legislative Council chairman Amrit Malhotra against the senior cabinet minister Taj Mohiudin fall apart. The process played out much like the way a cement and brick house is brought to the ground by disassembling its roof, tearing down its walls and unhinging its doors and windows.
The Committee since its constitution on October 11 was subject to an incremental onslaught by coalition partners National Conference and Congress to cause its collapse. First, it was Taj himself who did everything within his means to halt the committee's work. He was helped by eight other Congress legislators who urged Malhotra to wind up the committee. This was followed by NC leader and the minister for medical education R S Chib who shot a letter to LC chairman questioning his locus standi to institute a probe against a senior cabinet minister. When this didn't work, Taj, as this paper reported, circulated to media the resignation letter of the Congress legislator Bashir Ahmad Magray, a member of the committee. Magray, however, denied he had resigned.
And when all these assaults failed to sufficiently hobble the committee, NC stepped in to deliver the coup de grace: the party pulled out its two members - Bashir Ahmad Veeri and Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy - from the  panel. Deprived thus of three of its five members, the committee lost its reason to exist. Three days after this Malhotra dissolved the committee.
 There are two ways in which political corruption has come to be recognized in our society in recent years. One is the routine course of public allegations followed by an unending official investigation. And another is the more dramatic way of a media sting operation that has claimed many a high profile reputations over the years. But what does one make of a case in which the government winds up the probe itself set up by no less than the chairman of Legislative Council, a constitutional body, against a minister following serious allegations of land grab against him by a member. Here government in full public view and with no sense of shame presides over the unravelling of the House Committee itself: ministers, legislators, Chief Minister included, tenaciously strive to save from accountability one of their own. Remember, no effort was made to shepherd the probe to a favourable outcome for Taj as is the normal practice in our kind of dysfunctional democracies but the probe itself was pulled apart.
What is more, Taj held a press conference and uttered profanities against the LC chairman. He threatened Malhotra, a Congressman himself, of impeachment. Not once did government make a mention of the need to conduct probe into the minister's alleged land grab outside the committee.
Message was thus sent across loud and clear: no messing with a minister in India's second most corrupt state. And if some rebellious colleague within the system dares do so, he will  be met with a united front against any attempt at investigation, let alone enforcing accoutability. 
What this case has highlighted is a certain perverted operation of the democracy in the state. Here politicians can collaborate with all their might to safeguard one of their own alleged to be mired in corruption. The support does not come in the form of media statements as is the practice in the rest of the country but as a concrete help, involving even the otherwise unheard of collaboration to prevent the probe itself. One wonders how they can do it and expect to get away with it. There is no urgency of a political party's constant need to protect its image, no fear of elections. Neither NC nor Congress has thought it worthwhile to sufficiently explain their conduct vis-a-vis the house committee. The truth is that they needn't. For democracy in this state has hardly ever been a normal electoral operation where parties compete for voters' attention and do everything to look holier than thou. New Delhi remains very much a factor in who rules the state. So politicians and their parties give a damn about what a JK voter likes or does not like. It is thus natural that neither Taj, nor his party Congress or National Conference need be defensive about either Taj's corruption or what they did to the House committee probing charges of land grab against him.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 21 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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