ARTICLES
Corruption non-practicing allowance

THE jailed netas were livid over the lack of basic amenities in prison. They first raised slogans in support of their demand for ATMs of Swiss banks on the jail premises, and then decided to go on a relay hunger strike for three hours every day after lunch.

A veteran of many mega scams advised them to shun the agitational path and instead use their forced leisure period – free from the worries of running the country – to mull over the reasons for their changed circumstances. So, the proposed fast was converted into a closed-door chintan baithak.

 

Speaker after speaker stressed the point that politicians had been treated as mere mortals only because of internal dissension. If all of them had stood together, nobody would have dared to question corruption by them. Only their fratricidal tendencies had emboldened the hoi-polloi to demand an end to their hereditary right. Even now it was not too late to restore their past glory. All that was needed was unity among politicians of ruling parties and the Opposition.

They pledged to close ranks in this hour of crisis and fight “one for all, and all for one”. A “Neta Bachao Front” was formed there and then.

 

It was pointed out that the demand for an end to corruption was a subversive move that could sound the death-knell of politics as a profession. Talented persons would not join the professtion in the absence of adequate returns. Who would want to be a neta if he could not make good the investment made during elections at least a 100 times over?

One pesky leader even went to the extent of suggesting that they should file a PIL (politician interest litigation) that perks and perquisites given to them since time immemorial could not be withdrawn arbitrarily. When a lawyer-turned politician-turned-undertrial corrected him that speed money could not be claimed as a fundamental right, the former defiantly declared that there was no harm in trying. If courts objected, the leaders could always turn around and say that the advocate had exceeded his brief.

But the suggestion on which there was near unanimity was that if politicians were to be deprived of regular avenues of corruption, they must get non-practising allowance. It could range from Rs 500 crore to Rs 5,000 crore per year depending on their seniority and the position they hold.

The amount would be over and above the 10 per cent commission which must be legally granted to them for every project that they sanction, be it the construction of a bridge, road or railway line or the purchase of an aircraft or a ship.

If necessary, the Constitution must be suitably amended.

When it was pointed out that this may cause heart-burn among those who were heading less lucrative departments, it was proposed that there should be a Neta Relief Fund for economically weaker politicians. Each member should be given a subsistence allowance of Rs 10 crore per annum from it.

The Neta Bachao Front issued a warning to newspapers and TV channels that anyone devoting more than 5 per cent of its space/ time to the coverage of protests against corruption in the country would be treated as an enemy of the state. The licences of habitual offenders would be cancelled — to be restored only on under-the-table payment of Rs 200 crore each.


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