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Politics and the art of making money

Politics and the art of making money

Author: MV Kamath
Publication: The Organiser
Date: December 13, 2009
URL: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=321&page=10

Andhra Pradesh has been liberally spending government money for construction of churches and mosques and subsidies to Christian and Muslim pilgrimages and grants for marriages among the 'minority communities. Reddy, it is necessary to say, was a Christian. Some Rs 10.8 lakh were given to 12 churches in Chittoor district, Rs 20 lakh to 20 churches in Kurnool district, Rs 29 lakh to 27 churches in Guntur district and in all over Rs one crore to 188 churches in the state. Is that secularism?

Lawlessness at the highest political circles seems to be the order of the day for some years now with no questions asked. It has become a way of life that is taken for granted. If fortunes are not to be amassed in politics, what is politics for, is the prevalent sentiment. So much has been written about Madhu Koda. As Chief Minister of Jharkhand, a predominantly tribal state, he apparently made over Rs 4,000 crore which sounds unbelievable considering that Koda is a tribal, lacking financial sophistication and high education. How did he make his fortune? He reportedly siphoned off state funds without anyone being aware of it. Could he have done that without the knowledge, if not the tacit content, of top government servants and civil service officials? What is more shocking is that he used half his assets to fund business deals in such far-off places like Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Dubai and even in investing in a mine, in of all places, Liberia!

Could a simple tribal have done that all on his own? One requires highly knowledgeable mentors to advise on how to make massive and worldwide financial commitments. Who are these mentors who guided Koda in indulging in questionable deals around the world? If a mere tribal who was once dismissed as a simpleton could amass over Rs 4,000 crores, one must take a fresh look at tribal leaders in all their professed innocence.

But Koda is not an exception. What comes as a shock-and a vastly greater shock-is the amount amassed by the late YS Rajasekhar Reddy during his five-year rule in Andhra Pradesh. The total value of his assets comes to nearly Rs 10,000 crore which makes Koda's assets chicken feed. Details, one understands, are available in a journal edited by George Fernandes entitled The other side: Journal of Socialist Thought and Action. A list of Reddy's alleged assets can also be accessed at an Internet address. One has to read the easily available material to appreciate the extent of wealth accumulation. The list is long and among other items include: Rs 3,500 crore investment in a six million ton cement factory at Kamalapuram in Cuddapah district, another Rs 6,000 crore investment in a hydro-electric project (of which the CM's son has a 50 per cent stake), 1000 acres of land bought in and around Bangalore (land cost Rs 3 crore an acre), Sakshi, a newspaper with the CM's son as chairman, with investment of Rs 600 crore etc.

Listed in the report are the assets of the CM's son, the CM's brother YS Vivekananda Reddy, of his cousin B Yuvaraj Reddy, of his brother-in-law Ravindranath Reddy and a couple of other relatives. These are today's nawabs in Hyderabad. Has the Congress Party ever taken the trouble to go through the entire list to verify its contents? If it has, what has been its conclusion? That what is reported is true? That it is a wholesome lie? That it is a concoction put together by Reddy's enemies? Shouldn't the public know? So much land has been bought, so much investment has been made in various companies and what is just as relevant so much investment has been made in benami subsidiaries.

Names are named. Should the Congress Party takes all this lightly? If the reports are invented the least that the Congress can do is to expose those who compiled them. Otherwise no one can blame us if we believe that we have accessed truth. Then there is yet another damning report published by Bharatiya Pragna, a monthly edited by a distinguished scientist cum concerned citizen, Dr T H Chowdary. It would seem that Mr Reddy's government in Andhra Pradesh has been liberally spending government money for construction of churches and mosques and subsidies to Christian and Muslim pilgrimages and grants for marriages among the 'minority communities. Reddy, it is necessary to say, was a Christian. Some Rs 10.8 lakh were given to 12 churches in Chittoor district, Rs 20 lakh to 20 churches in Kurnool district, Rs 29 lakh to 27 churches in Guntur district and in all over Rs one crore to 188 churches in the state. Is that secularism?

According to Chowdary, the Government of Andhra Pradesh has been managing and administering temples and other places of Hindu worship, but not mosques and churches. Why this discrimination? A temple is a private institution. If its authorities misuse funds it is for the public to take action. Even more annoying is the fact that many of the government-appointed temple administrators are non-Hindus, as if Hindus cannot be trusted. According to Chowdary-and there is no reason to question his credibility-"some of the non-Hindus are colluding with the predators of Hindus, namely evangelists and missionaries, to alienated the properties of temples to facilitate evangelism in and around Hindu temples".

The attempt to set up a missionary centre not far from the famous temple in Tirupati is a case in point. It roused a public outcry. Monies collected from temples (such as the famous TTD in Tirupati) cannot and should not be utilised for purposes other than agreed upon by the temple authorities. It is not the function or enjoined duty of any government to distribute funds raised from temple offerings to build or repair churches without the blessings of those who collected the funds in the first place. Reddy's indifference to Hindu feelings has been notorious. But his concept of 'secularism' won him Muslim votes. Reddy was turned into an icon. Following his untimely death a paid media went to the extent of saying that several people committed suicide unable to bear the shock of his death. Such planted stories were later found to have no basis in reality. The truth is that money power is as much in practice in Andhra Pradesh as it is in Karnataka and elsewhere.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayavati's assets run into crores and no questions are raised because, as the saying goes, dog does not eat dog. Making money illegally through politics has now come to be treated as commonplace to be shrugged off and ignored. It no longer comes as a shock to learn that some one like the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha has been named in a list of people who owe crores of rupees to a cooperative bank.

The Indian Express (November 25) carried a story of "How bigwigs defrauded co-op bank of crores". Their names were reportedly not released for the past ten years because of "pressure from above". The fraud was to the extent of Rs 159 crore. Politics without principles is now the accepted creed. Politics was once the home of patriots; today it is a field exploited by businessmen, to make their fortunes and to dictate terms to ruling parties, sometimes subtly and more often openly. The Reddys of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are open examples.


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