By Dr Pentapati Pullarao
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat is common among Andhra Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje? They are all suffering from the same illness “business-stroke”. They are surrounded by businessmen, not by politicians.
Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara’s careers might be finished if further revelations were to come out from businessman Lalit Modi. Their weakness for his money and associated hospitality is taking its toll on them.Back in Hyderabad, Chandra Babu Naidu is neck-deep in cash-for-vote controversy, which is the making of businessmen-friends around him, who are generally bad political advisers.
[pullquote position=”left”] “They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical we are trustful… They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensation and refuses of life for ourselves.”[/pullquote]
There is nothing wrong in being surrounded by businessmen. But Babu should not listen to their advice and make them his closest aides. The problem with businessmen is that they do not understand politics. They simply feel that everything has a price. But when you are dealing with people, price cannot be fixed in terms of money alone.
The allegations against Chandra Babu Naidu about vote-buying would never have happened had he kept recently rich businessmen at a little distance. Sure, give them tickets to Parliament or the Assembly. But keep them at a comfortable distance.
Sushma Swaraj, Chandra Babu and Vasundhara Raje have definitely not read one of the stories by greatest English novelists F. Scott Fitzgerald “ the Rich Boy”. In the short story Fitzgerald famously wrote about the rich-
“They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical we are trustful… They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensation and refuses of life for ourselves.”
Lalit Modi is wealthy and he spends money. Naturally, Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje were dazzled by the money he spent. They enjoyed every bit of it. Lalit Modi did not spend money on them because he was a charitable person. He had his own objectives.
Similarly, Chandra Babu Naidu is surrounded by the rich unlike Andhra politicians earlier. They love the feel of wealth and when near wealth, they felt terrific. Remember that most politicians come from very humble backgrounds and when they see ‘Lakshmi’, they get transported to another world.
How did the businessmen earn their wealth? The question does not arise when you are in their company. The simple justification is that he is rich and so must be intelligent. Since he is so generous, he is a nice person. Politicians in India lose office or go to jail because of businessman’s money or commission. Take any scandal that rocked this nation in the past ten or fifteen years, you would know about nexus between the politician and businessman.
By having taken money or favors, the politicians cannot reject the rich donor….or he will be exposed. That is what is happening to Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje.
They enjoyed the charity of Lalit Modi in one form or the other and now facing the consequences..
Chandra Babu Naidu has forgotten some basic principles of politics. Elected representatives should serve as a bridge between people and government. But business tycoons, once elected, feel they need not associate with the public because they spent much money and won office. They realize that they will have to spend money again to re-elect and why waste time when the voters have to be bought again?
Amongst Andhra and Telengana MPs, there are at least 20 MPs from all parties who got tickets only because of their money. There is a political gap between these MP and the people since they are not connected to people. This political gap eventually leads to scandals and disgrace ultimately. What is the cash-for-vote scam in Telangana? It is the foolishness of a rich businessman who thought he could buy MLAs with his money and become MLC that forced Naidu to find himself in a pitiable condition. No wise-politician would have resorted to buying votes just to become an MLC.
Savithri Jindal was one of the richest people and was a minister in Haryana. In her constituency, at least 35,000 people worked for her. Yet Jindal lost and came third in the election. People eventually get fed up and defeat the rich and their money.
Chandra Babu should realize that most scandals start with business people turned politicians. Love them but keep them far off. That way you get their money but they will not destroy you.
(The author is an alumnus of Chicago University. He is a noted economist and political commentator who resides in Delhi).