Protest

Has India’s collective conscience risen against criminality in politics?

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The suspension of IAS Officer Durga Shakti Nagpal has seen unprecedented support from various sections of society. Spurred by the huge outcry from people, the media has been forced to take up the issue in a big way – every publication worth its salt is using “investigative journalism” to dig up more and more facts and conspiracy behind the suspension. It is obvious that she was acting against sand mining mafia and she had to be contained.

One Hindi news channel (Aaj Tak) has even gone ahead and done a sting operation on how the real story is shaping up behind the scenes. Narendra Bhati has claimed that it took him 40 minutes to get the suspension order. Why did he do it? Because IAS Officer Nagpal had filed a FIR against his close aide Omendra Khari in a sand mining case.

In view of these revelations, the Uttar Pradesh government stands naked but undeterred. The sting operation shows Bhati’s aide saying that the issue will help mobilize votes of Muslims and if they play their card right then the Samajwadi Party (SP) can get 36 Lok Sabha seats.

So far, no corrective action from the centre or the state government is expected. The most powerful person in the country, Sonia Gandhi, has indulged in political gimmickry by writing a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to look into the case.

She was much more proactive for her son-in-law Robert Vadra when another IAS officer Ashok Khemka took action against Vadra’s illegal deals- a superficial inquiry was conducted to get the case closed fast. Nobody could answer why no action was taken against Robert Vadra for making money through unscrupulous means.

The protests against Robert Vadra’s misuse of being a relative of Sonia Gandhi did not sustain long enough despite the agitations against corruption in India by the likes of Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and many more leaders and groups of people.

Now, with much larger support for Durga Shakti Nagpal, may we expect the citizens of the country to get bolder? As reported here, a retired civil servant, says the case has triggered the “collective conscience of the country to rise against criminality in politics”.

The DNA report quotes Surinder S. Jodhka, professor and chair at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems in Jawaharlal Nehru University:

“This is the whole thing about the arrival of the middle class. Five years back the middle class would have looked away, but we have seen the way they are now voicing concern over large number of issues, like the anti-corruption movement, or women’s safety issues, and the growing criminalisation of politics. It certainly indicates a change for the better.”

The outcry has been massive on Social Media but very few protests on the streets – some by activists of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and few more smaller groups. At the moment, it appears that the UP government is going to let the issue linger on till the protests fizzle out. They have 90 days to confirm or withdraw the suspension of Nagpal which is a long time for any protest to sustain.

Will the protests fizzle out or shall the people’s will prevail? Do we have it in us to make sure that the UP government is pressured long enough to get the suspension of IAS Durga Shakti Nagpal revoked?

At the Citizens For Action Forum, we will keep the heat up!

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