Shaming the House

Shaming the HouseBabubhai Katara, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of the Lok Sabha elected from the reserved constituency of Dahod in Gujarat has confirmed that the BJP’s high moral ground, its professed championing of cultural nationalism and its service to the cause of Hindutva were merely a façade for him to carry out illegal activities. He attempted to take two persons, a 30-year-old woman from Punjab who was eager to join her husband in New York and a 14-year-old boy, also from Punjab, by posing them as his wife and son. He was confident that his label as Member of Parliament and the diplomatic passports issued to him and his family would be sufficient to drop them off at Toronto. And it almost worked, had it not been for an alert Air India flight attendant who spotted the discrepancy. According to Delhi Police, this was not the first time Katara was involved in human smuggling. He had done this at least twice in the last two years. Katara has been elected from the Dahod constituency twice in a row. He also functioned as head of the Dharma Pracharak Samiti of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Gujarat and was active in the tribal belt of central Gujarat. There have been cases of malpractice involving MPs in the past. Members have been known to have accepted cash payments for asking questions in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. Or there have been cases of members who sold their recommendations for gas and phone connections. The BJP has now suspended Katara from membership of the party and further action would be considered later. Since Katara was arrested by Delhi Police and brought to the court, parties are indulging in a blame game with the BJP at the receiving end. Merely assigning blame on someone would, however, serve no purpose as Katara has brought a bad name to the entire Parliament and the political system. The cursory glance at the readers’ columns at major dailies would prove that the middle classes have been rudely shaken by the Katara episode, and that this only confirmed their general perception that politicians are dishonest and corrupt.The Katara episode calls for a deeper introspection on issues such as a definite criterion for selection of nominees and maintaining vigil on their activities not only inside the House but outside as well. No party can be excluded since every one has been affected badly and deeply. In any case, however, citizens have stopped looking up at the Parliament as a place where their issues and problems are debated and     solutions devised. The perception is rife that   parliamentarians indulge in theatrics rather than in serious analysis of issues that confront the nation.