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Two Cheers for Satya Pal Malik. He Says It Like It Is, Even If It Shows Up Modi


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Source: The Wire

I like Satya Pal Malik.

I may wish, along with many others, that he had acted differently as lieutenant governor (LG) of Jammu & Kashmir, but I recognise that what he did was a forthright expression of his centre-right politics. Of course, how much of that squares up with his ‘socialist’ background remains a question, both for him and for us.

‘Socialist’ thinking, after all, cannot remain limited merely to a pious aversion to governmental corruption, can it?

Nonetheless, for many of us, he has great value as a man of some integrity – from what of him is in the public consciousness at least.

Being in power, he seems not to covet power if it demands that he participate in venality. Moreover, even from his seat of power, he says it like it is, regardless of the consequence to his prospects.

In our day, this is an inspiring trait. Had his politics been conducive to my understanding of the imbroglio in Kashmir, I would have given him all three cheers.

Speaking to the media, Malik recently broke his silence on some key issues, as detailed below. His plain-speak on all is admirable, given the world in which we live.

On the farmer’s agitation

Malik, speaking from his seat of power as governor of Meghalaya, minced no words while picking sides in the contentious, ongoing battle between some 60% of Indian citizens (namely, the farmers) and the state.

Is it not uplifting to hear him say that the farmers have a good case? That only those who have little understanding of farming fault them for opposing the three contested farm laws? That the first step to resolving this impasse must be for the government to concede to their demand for the Minimum Support Price regime to be given a legal status? That, given a choice, he would rather be with the farmers than be in office?

Would it not be heartening if, consistent with his felt position, he were to demit office and go strengthen the farmer’s movement?

On corruption

While in Kashmir, Malik said he was approached to clear two shady files which, if he had, would have fetched him the handsome sum of Rs 300 crore.

He did not hesitate to name the names that were ostensibly behind the alleged offer: an Anil Ambani-related Reliance firm which had sought to make a killing by floating an insurance scheme for government employees, and a gentleman affiliated with the RSS. Of the latter, he said that everybody knows who was in charge of that organisation in Jammu & Kashmir.

The fact that Ram Madhav has felt the need to publicly demand a probe into all deals made during Malik’s tenure tells its own tale.

On Goa

Malik went on to reveal how the chief minister of Goa had been embroiled in corruption vis-a-vis mining projects; indeed, that corruption was/is pretty much a way of life in that state.

Some inferences for the citizen

Malik also detailed how he referred the matter of the J&K deals to the prime minister who, he said, advised him to reject the impugned files.

Well done Modi ji.

But herein lies the question: where is the investigative follow-up on the names cited by Malik? Can it be said that the mere cancellation of these deals brings the matter to an end?

Are all the dramatis personae in Malik’s tale from Kashmir going to get a free pass? Will there not even be an ED raid for them?

Likewise, Modi ji, what is the citizen to conclude from the fact that – notwithstanding Malik’s averments about corruption within the Goa administration – the merry-making chief minister there continues in office while Malik was shifted from there to Meghalaya?

Malik says that his complaint about corruption in Goa was referred, by the Union government, to the allegedly corrupt Goa administration itself which, unsurprisingly, denied that there was any truth to his allegations. Can there be a more homely way of settling the issue of corruption?

And why, it may also be asked, was Malik not offended enough to reject his removal to Meghalaya and demit his office rather than continue to be a functionary of a Union government which chose to rebuff his reports of corruption?

Do these instances tell us the real meaning of  “Na khavaonga, na khane doonga”? Should we add to his promise a third element: ‘Na Pakdoonga’ (I won’t take bribes and won’t let anyone else take them but I will not catch them either)?

The citizen may be excused for wanting to know if some enquiries at least, even if they are wrapped in protective secrecy, are underway into these matters. Or is this too much to hope for at a time when questions related to the electoral bonds and the PM Cares fund –and many more that we may not know of – remain opaquely blocked out?

Will Sanjay Patil, boasting about how the ED will not come after him because he is a BJP MP, have the final word? Isn’t that exactly what we have seen happen for seven years; that the law pursues only those who aren’t affiliated with the ruling political and governmental establishment?

Has the Sangh, then, truly become the state? Is it, after all, the Maoists in China that Amit Shah and Narendra Modi seek to emulate?

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