With Lokpal, has Congress really changed ? Well, what about Laloo and Adarsh ?

After the disastrous state elections (with the results coming out on the 8th of December, 2013), the Congress seemed to atleast get into introspection. For a party that was seemingly seeing itself as invincible, the shock imparted by the electorate which put BJP Governments back into power and removed 2 Congress Governments must have counted as an mega-quake. For a party that was using its 2 weapons – populism and Rahul Gandhi, to find that they suffered dramatic losses and reached low counts in multiple states, must have been over-whelming. And to find that a new party that had been dismissed by everybody had taken a huge chunk of the Congress vote share in an urban setting such as Delhi must have been unsettling. For quite some time, the Congress had not been listening to the concerns of people – corruption, price rice, arrogance, and so on; and it was quite apparent that there was a lot of anger in people about all this, especially when you heard some of the politicians of the Congress speak (especially when somebody such as Kapil Sibal refused to accept any responsibility of the Government for price rise).
And then suddenly things seemed to change; I am not saying that the Congress suddenly reverted to become honest. But Rahul Gandhi (or maybe one of his advisors) realized that the Congress needed to show that it had learned its lessons and try to wear a cover of fighting corruption. And how to do this – by taking over command of something that a lot of people had perceived as a weapon against corruption. So, at a time when Anna Hazare was sitting on another fast for implementation of Lokpal, the Congress vice-president decided to take ownership of the Lokpal Bill and pushed the Congress to get it through Parliament (even though a number of people in the Congress would have been uncomfortable since having an independent investigator to go after politicians is always a bad idea for politicians). And so the Bill was passed in Parliament in double quick time, Anna Hazare also incredibly credited Rahul Gandhi with this passage of the Bill, and so the Congress could make it seem that they are leaders in anti-corruption.

But it would seem that even without the ink being dry on the legislation, the Congress reverted back to style, not worried about whether the public will again link the Congress to corruption. There have many major corruption scandals in the past few years, and notable among them are the Adarsh housing society (in Mumbai) and the fodder scam (in Bihar). Both caused a great deal of revulsion in the minds of the public, helped along by detailed media investigation, and claimed multiple scalps, chiefly Ashok Chavan and Laloo Prasad Yadav (both of whom had to resign as Chief Ministers of their respective states due to these controversies).
And yet, here is the Congress again seemingly disregarding public opinion – in the case of Adarsh, it was a dual step. First the Governor denied sanction to the CBI to prosecute Ashok Chavan even though it was widely reported in the media that his relatives got houses in the society, and then the Maharashtra Congress-NCP Government refused to accept the Adarsh report. And of course, both the opposition parties and the media are starting to latch onto these twin issues and one can be sure that the Congress will be pilloried on these counts. What can happen in the worst case scenario is that any flow over the Lokpal Bill passing will be washed away by the controversy over Adarsh.
The other major even to happen were the public statements by Laloo Prasad Yadav talking about an alliance with the Congress and media reports about how Sonia Gandhi is close to Laloo. Now, Laloo has not been exonerated by any court and is innocent, in fact, he is out on bail after being convicted for corruption by a CBI court in the fodder scam and also lost his Lok Sabha seat. For the Congress, to make public moves towards aligning with him as opposed to aligning with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) means that the Congress is getting ready to be criticized on this front also, and again the opponents are going to have a field day.
It would almost seem like that the Congress believes in one step forward, 2 steps back.

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