but Indian MPs vow for change
December 25, 2005
By Liz Mathew, New Delhi: Fury, disappointment, humiliation
- Indian MPs have felt it all in the one-month-long
winter session of parliament that saw two sting operations
on TV tarnish their image more than ever.
While many of the MPs are now too ashamed to face
the public, especially after one Rajya Sabha and 10
Lok Sabha members being expelled for involvement in
the cash-for-queries scam, a cross-section of
MPs IANS spoke to are hopeful they will be able to
regain the public's faith with hard work.
"It was a complete disappointment. This is
my first term as an MP and I had to be part of this
shameful part of parliament's history," lamented
Madhu Goud Yaskhi, a first time lawmaker elected from
Nizamabad (Andhra Pradesh).
"Now I have to think
twice before telling anybody that I am an MP,"
said Yaskhi, who left his legal practice in New York
to join politics in India.
A second sting operation followed the cash-for-queries
scam, this time exposing seven MPs asking for bribes
to release their local area development funds.
Though none of his party MPs was involved in either
of the scandals, Communist Party of India-Marxist's
(CPI-M) Mohammed Salim agreed with Yeskhi.
"When I walk through the street, nobody will
identify me as a communist MP. They will say here
comes one of those who take money even for asking
a question for us," Salim asserted.
Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Sangeeta Singh Deo
also seemed embarrassed.
"Last week when I was sitting at the airport,
a group of young kids entered the VIP lounge. When
the security guards asked them to go out, I overheard
them saying: 'You need to be corrupt to sit here'.
I cringed to hear that," she said.
But Singh Deo's colleague and former central minister
Haren Pathak protested the sting operations, saying
politicians were being "targeted".
"The sting operation was done as if everybody
else was clean. Do you think that all the media people
are clean? A holier than thou attitude is not correct,"
Pathak said, arguing there should be an inquiry into
how the sting operation was conducted.
MPs like the Congress' Purandareswari Daggupati (Bapatla,
Andhra Pradesh) and CPI-M's P. Satheedevi (Badagara,
Kerala) were confident that their voters would still
be confident about them.
"They have full confidence in us. So this would
not affect us," Purandareswari said.
Satheedevi even said the new corruption exposés
had asserted the need for more women in politics.
"No women MPs were involved in the two scams,"
she pointed out.
Others have opted for damage control measures.
Immediately after the first corruption expose came
out Dec 12, the Congress' first timer Kuldeep Bishnoi
went to his Bhiwani constituency in Haryana for a
"I was there for four days and I took pains
to tell my voters that everyone is not like those
who were caught. It was quite a task," he said.
Many MPs felt that the tarnished MPs were "trapped".
"It (taking money for queries) has been happening.
It's no news at all. People have lost faith in the
political system because of its ineffectiveness, indecision
and corruption," said L. Rajagopal, an MP who
is also a successful industrialist. "We can change
the system. At least the new generations should take
the first step."
His colleague Sachin Pilot agreed: "There may
be flips. And it's not a deterrent for us and we will
not fail in our duties."
BJP's actor-politician Vinod Khanna also felt they
could easily change the tarnished image of MPs with
determination from the party leadership. "I think
political leadership should also take a firm stand