A recent survey had predicted that the Left Democratic Front Government in Kerala would surmount the trend of change of government every five years in the State, and it might come back to power after the elections slated for next year. Within a week, the scenario and the mood in the State changed dramatically thanks to the confiscation of 30 kilograms of gold smuggled from United Arab Emirates under the guise of diplomatic baggage to the Gulf country’s Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. Some of the key accused in the case like Swapna Suresh had personal ties with one of the top bureaucrats in the State, M. Sivasankar, who was Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, besides being IT Secretary. Names of the Speaker of the Assembly and a Minister are also being drawn into the controversy. The previous United Democratic Front Government led by Oommen Chandy too had met with a similar situation. When things were going in favour of the UDF Government, a few months before the Assembly elections in 2016, an issue involving Saritha Nair and her alleged closeness to the Chief Minister’s Office wreaked havoc, unseating the government in the elections.
There are innumerable instances in every State and at the Centre wherein ‘meritless’ individuals have sneaked into power corridors, thereby weakening the system. In the neighbouring Tamil Nadu, we have the story of Sasikala who, from being a home maker, became the trusted friend of Jayalalithaa, the most powerful woman in the State politics. She became a permanent fixture in Jayalalithaa’s life, leading to the downfall of the Chief Minister. State after State, one can cite innumerable instances of siblings, relatives, friends and acquaintances entering the corridors of power and destabilizing elected governments.
It is not difficult to locate some of the fault lines in the present governance system. First, those at the top echelons of power allow individuals, without any merit, to get closer to them and pull the strings in decision-making process. Once the rot gets in, it gnaws into the very vitals of governance and will leave only after bringing discredit to the government. Second, meritless individuals who get into the system will extract their pound of flesh in lieu of some benefits extended to the powers-that-be. This quid pro quo arrangement of granting a favour, in return for something, will lay the axe to the root of good governance. Third, non-transparency in the working of the government brings it under the shadow of doubt. Opaqueness is antithesis of democratic governance. Fourth, when threats and intimidation replace rule of law, good governance collapses. Fifth, direct or indirect involvement of people with no locus standi in the running of the government does not go down well with people. They see it as an affront to democracy as governments are run on public money. It is not only Caesar but his wife should also be above suspicion.
The architect of Indian Constitution, Babasaheb Ambedkar, seems to have foreseen such aberrations and anomalies in the working of governments when he said: “However good Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot.” Instances are galore to show that there is no dearth of ‘bad lot’ of people who derail the Constitution and governments.(Published on 20th July 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 30)