OFFICES OF PROFIT: WHY TOO MANY FOR OUR MPs?

Professor Arun D Ahluwalia


 

Is it not enough for a person to be elected to these august bodies, be housed in spacious bungalows and get fat traveling, phoning and eating at public expense? Is there not enough unemployment and frustration among these politicians to give several additional offices to MPs? Are there no worthy non-politicians viz academics, social workers, statesmen, artists of repute here among 1000 million Indians to occupy these offices and discharge their duties full-time more competently and wholeheartedly, rather than have these biggies as decorative useless part- time figureheads? Our MPs not only occupy several positions illegally but also make those bodies useless and redundant by ignoring their functions. - Dr. Arun Ahluwalia


Parliament has legalized office of profit for MPs whose greed seems to be unlimted. No one is asking why the framers of the constitution of India had made this provision that no Member of Parliament (MP) should hold any office of profit under any government or government-aided body. The reason was simple. MPs were supposed to be watchdogs for the public over the government. If indeed they were sharing profits at the mercy of that very government, then how would one expect them to be impartial and fair in their duties towards the public they represented?

Would a Jawahar Lal Nehru or Rajendra Prasad or Gulzari Lal Nanda or Lal Bahadur Shastri have condoned today's blind and dishonest effort by our Parliamentarians to legalize their illegal offices of profit by collective collusion - ignoring the Supreme Court verdict in the Jaya Bacchan case? If indeed we believe in public morality and probity, all these do-gooders should immediately resign their seats from all legislative bodies as well as refund all the expenses to the public exchequer incurred on their upkeep in their multiple illegal profit positions as MPs or MLAs.

Is it not enough for a person to be elected to these august bodies, be housed in spacious bungalows and get fat traveling, phoning and eating at public expense? Is there not enough unemployment and frustration among these politicians to give several additional offices to MPs? Are there no worthy non-politicians viz academics, social workers, statesmen, artists of repute here among 1000 million Indians to occupy these offices and discharge their duties full-time more competently and wholeheartedly, rather than have these biggies as decorative useless part- time figureheads? Our MPs not only occupy several positions illegally but also make those bodies useless and redundant by ignoring their functions.

It would be worthwhile conducting technical audit of assets of all such bodies and commissions put in disuse through the greed of indispensable-looking oldies never willing to be done with their unwelcome presence. The original provision of the constituion must be kept as it was, and all those who held any additional office should be declared retrospectively unseated from their seats and asked to pay back all they got in cash or kind in their illegal positions. In a high profile legal battle, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was unseated from her position in Parliament on a mere technicality, though her intention to be careful was abundantly clear. Today MPs who went hoarse decrying her emergency days, want to sink their differences and join hands in their enlightened selfishness across political parties to legalize a grossly illegal and unethical situation.

The Hon'ble Dr Kalam and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India as well as the media at large should do everything possible to undo any thoughtless, hurried legislation on the issue. If it is allowed as being proposed, the day is not far when accepting gratification for asking questions or voting in a particlar fashion would also be made legal. After all, no one ever thought our Parliament would stoop so low as to allow overpampering of already overfed MPs.

Democracy functions on some basic rules of public ethics and propriety, which is about to be sacrificed at the altar of political and administrative expediency through a co-operative loot of Indian polity and public life. Jinhen naaz tha Hind par woh kahan hai? I hope there would be some MPs who will speak to expose the hypocrisy behind this proposed legislation of allowing fat portfolios of extra offices to MPs &MLAs. If Mrs. Sonia Gandhi opts for retaining the original spirit of the constitution, she would be really remembered for a principled stand. So far, all her 'sacrifices' could be dismissed by skeptics, but not this one. If all the MPs and MLAs are forced to resign and choose between their office of profit or seeking fresh election, it will set permanent standards of public morality for MPs. Will she or will she not opt for unadulterated honesty of MPs and MLAs is the question! If she went with principles, her place is made for all times in Indian parliamentary history. All the so called giants may soon look like dwarfs before an Indianised Italian lady.