Much as it was expected and true to their worth, politicians of all shades and opinions (barring the minuscule minority) have finally capped a two-month row of endless debate and media spin-off to finally succumb to the tempting offer provided by the plethora of offices of profit. That holding of such posts in principle is barred by the constitution does not seem to be of much concern to the wily politicians. And as much as lawmakers are responsible for framing the law, it seems that they are likewise accountable to break the law as and when it suits their vested interests.
It therefore comes as no surprise that the Lok Sabha finally passed the much sought after bill providing for exempting 56 posts from being considered as offices of profit. The NDA may have managed to project a united face in deciding to oppose the office of profit (OoP) Bill but there were voices of dissent there as well with the allies apprehensive that the stand could create trouble for their governments in the states and would be widely perceived as “double standard”.
Nonetheless, it appears that a majority of the parties in Parliament irrespective of their innumerable differences accomplished a rare feat for a day. That is, they shed their political color to stand together for a cause that remained dear to them; support the exemption bill and protect their offices and the profit accrued from it. ‘Office saved and profit kept’ everyone went home happy and satisfied. It will be interesting to know as to how the two Member of Parliament from Nagaland Wangyuh Konyak and T.R Zeliang voted or rather what directive the NPF high command issued to the two honorable MPs.
That the exemptions of posts are politically motivated is seen by the selective methodology applied to protect specific individuals and their offices. In fact ten posts were included at the last hour for exemption, including chiefs of Dalit Sena and Bahujan Samaj Foundation held by Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan and Mayawati respectively. Likewise, the bill exempts Sriniketan-Santiniketan Development Authority held by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.
Now that Parliament has shown the way, the only direction that the MLAs in different states may take is to acquiesce in the standard set by the highest law of the land! With several Congress MLAs facing Election Commission notices, the Delhi Assembly likewise passed a Bill exempting 14 posts held by some of the legislators. As such, the Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) may also have to meet to pass a similar exemption bill. And to escape legal punishment, it is only expected that the post of Chairman for both the State Sports Council and the Nagaland Bamboo Mission held by the Chief Minister may find its way into the exemption list.
It is most unfortunate that the office of profit issue has made a mockery of democracy itself and the bane of a majority government has in more ways than one been fully exposed. The apprehension that democracy breeds corruption, nepotism and favoritism and that votes are purchased with the sole motive of capturing power, has been once again attested to by those who practice it. And once political parties capture seats of power, the distribution of offices is duly recognized as the first law of motion.