Switch on an Indian news channel today and it will be flooded with just 1 news item – the sentencing and subsequent disqualification of Congress MP Rasheed Masood, who was till today afternoon a sitting Member of the Upper House of the Indian Parliament. Many news channels are hailing it as historic and calling it the “start of the revolution” we need to ‘cleanse’ Indian politics, which should have probably been done 3 decades back. Lets just take a quick look at Rasheed Masood’s background and the case which got him disqualified.
Rasheed Masood is a 66 year old leader of the Congress Party and unfortunately, shares his birthday with the birthday of India- our Independence day celebrated on 15th August. He is an 8 time Parliamentarian and has been associated with nearly every big political party in the national sphere- the Samajwadi Party, the Indian National Congress and the Janata Party. On September 19, 2013, a Special CBI court held Rasheed Masood guilty in a case of corruption and other offences. He was held guilty of fraudulently nominating undeserving candidates to MBBS seats allotted to Tripura in medical colleges across the country from the central pool. Today, on October 1, 2013, Rasheed has been sentenced to four years in jail, for his role in the MBBS scam. He is the first MP to have ever been disqualified after the Historic Supreme Court verdict of July 10th, 2013.
However, is it really a game changing verdict and the start of something revolutionary in Indian politics?
According to the judgement given today:
- Rasheed Masood has been sentenced to four years in jail and will be imprisoned for four years, unless he is acquitted of his charger by a higher court.
- Rasheed Masood will be disqualified from the Parliament by the Law Ministry in consideration with the advice given the Election Commission of India.
- Rasheed Masood will be barred from contesting elections for the next 6 years.
Now lets get to the main part. Yes, this judgement is historic. After 6 long decades of corruption and inadequate governance and the unfortunate mix of politics with crime, there is finally some ray of hope that the system will change and criminals will not be allowed to hold seats in the Parliament. Even though these judgments come quite late, probably a decade after they should have actually come, we can finally see some efforts taken by the people in the top posts to save India from going into a complete damage mode.
Now lets look at the other side… the darker side. Rasheed Masood has been convicted for 4 years and the sentence can be extended (by the Higher Courts) to a max to max of 7 years. This would mean that after 6-8 years, Mr. Masood will still be able to contest elections. Mr. Masood is currrently 66 years old, and in India, the country where the Prime Minister is 81 years old and the oldest member is 86 years old, it seems highly unlikely that if Mr. Masood is in good health conditions after 8 years, he will not contest elections.
Even in the case of Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav. He was found guilty yesterday in a big fodder scam of more than 950 crore rupees. He faces a maximum sentence of 7 years and is highly likely to receive a sentence between 4-7 years, the same time period as Mr. Masood. He is also of the same age as Mr. Masood and even the doors for him do not look shut. Same is the case with almost all the MPs who have cases against them. So, instead of cleansing politics, we may just have an even older group of parliamentarians 6-9 years down the line.
The verdict may be historic… but it certainly will not change the dirt in the game.
Thank you for reading.