Param Bir letter against Anil Deshmukh stirs Maharashtra politics

Param Bir Singh’s letter to CM Thackeray against Deshmukh has exposed Maharashtra government to serious charges of corruption

Rajesh Dikshit |

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Politics stinks

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has become the focus of not just state politics but national politics. Quite apart from dividing the state’s ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi alliance, the recently removed Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh’s letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has also exposed the Maharashtra government to serious charges of corruption. Most commentators will use the opportunity to express moral indignation and analyze the emerging political situation; it is, however, time to study the source that regularly generates such miasmas.

Even by the pathetic standards of Indian politics, the recent developments are shocking. A tainted police officer, inducted into the force after 16 years in suspension and given an important responsibility, is accused of placing a vehicle outside the residence of the country’s biggest industrialist, Mukesh Ambani; the owner of the vehicle dies in mysterious circumstances; his widow blaming the officer Sachin Waze for “murder”; the police commissioner is removed and given a less importance charge; the sidelined commissioner writes a letter to the Chief Minister, alleging that Home Minister Deshmukh was running an extortion racket with the help of Waze; the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis demanding Deshmukh’s resignation; murky intra-alliance politicking—this is surely an unedifying spectacle.

While there are demands within the ruling alliance for Deshmukh’s ouster, NDTV reported that Jayant Patil, a state minister and state unit chief of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, to which Desmukh belongs, supports the beleaguered Minister. “The letter [which Param Bir Singh wrote to the Chief Minister] is a reaction after Maharashtra Chief Minister and Home Minister decided to take a tough stand. There is no question of replacing Maharashtra Home Minister” (https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/anil-deshmukh-may-have-to-quit-as-maharashtra-home-minister-alliance-leader-to-ndtv-after-sacked-top-cops-explosive-claim-2395560).

Politicking continues, will continue.

The need of the hour, however, is a serious effort on the part of the political class to delink crime from politics. This can happen only with comprehensive betterment in governance. The general law-and-order situation has to be improved; the fear of and respect for law has to be instilled in the hearts and minds of the wayward. Those who get away with crime, and those who think that they can get away, can be made to behave themselves only when the cost of wrongdoing is steeply raised. And this is not possible without administrative, police, and judicial reforms.

But who will do that? When was the last time that you heard political parties fighting elections, or even discussing, the ways and means of improving the justice system? You can’t remember, because it never happened in the past. So, unsurprisingly, few remember the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily, that prepared 15 reports, the last of which came out in April 2009. Newspersons reported about these reports; editorialists wrote scholarly edits and articles on the subject; and that was the end of it.

Unless comprehensive reforms are carried out, improvement in the situation is unlikely. Unfortunately, our political masters are least interested in any reforms. So, we must be ready for more shocking revelations.

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