The real face of political corruption

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When political corruption got driver’s seat in Indian polity can’t be said exactly. It started perhaps with  first jeep scam by Punjab chief minister Pratap Singh Kairon. But the real faces of political corruption are many  that have come to the fore and provided spices for films on the issue. Pundit Sukhram from Himachal Pradesh was one such name. Sukhram died yesterday of old age at ninety five. But he has shown how corruption takes place in politics if you are minister of important portfolio. Before the arrival of mobile phones and private phone service operators, Sukhram was telecom minister in P V Narsimhrao cabinet. The allegations were that as a telecom minister, Sukhram provided benefits to many private companies in lieu of money due to which government had to bear huge losses. Sukhram accumulated lot of wealth by this way and when his home was raided by investigators, suitcases full of notes were found which tells how our politicians stooped to low level. It is said that, Congress was behind raids on his premises. Approximately four crores rupees were recovered from searches in his premises. This was real corruption that was being done in those days, because there was not the facility of online payment system. Former prime minister Narsimharao and Congress former president Sitaram Kesri told the court that the recovered wealth belonged to Sukhram. He could not explain how how the money came to his house. Sukhram was jailed and one chapter of corruption finished. Later he joined BJP and it is said that due to his influence, BJP could show magnificent performance in Himachal Pradesh elections. Whatever is being said about Sukhram, he is known for his corruption and suitcases full of notes recovered from his premises. His political clout was intact even after his name cropped up in corruption case. He again was elected from his Mandi constituency in Himachal Pradesh. In fact, his political journey is quite long and he is in electoral politics since 1963. But after the corruption episode, he was so defamed in 1996 that today also when his name is cropped up in discussion, his suitcase episode come to people’s mind. He was known for bringing revolution in Telecom sector in the country after India opened its doors to globalization. But his good name was overlapped by his corrupt image and his episode of raids and subsequent arrest. Sukhram was extremely corrupt, no doubt. But he was the pioneer of Mobile phones in India. Once he had told in an interview that he himself had brought mobile phone from Japan. It is an interesting story. Sukhram said that when he was on Japan’s tour, he saw a driver keeping mobile phone in his pocket. He thought that, if Japan can develop such technology , why not India. He used to give the credit of computer and mobile to Rajiv Gandhi who wanted these two objects should reach every household of India. In those days, politics was already defamed by corruption cases one of which was Harshad Mehta case. The whole atmosphere was blackened by doubts of corruption and Sukhram episode reached the suspicious atmosphere to its pinnacle. He  had to bear all the years after 1996 with the allegations of  corruption and an image of tainted minister. But he was a visionary and he had predicted the vast development of mobile industry. He had once talked in a public rally that people will keep mobiles in their pockets and their talks will be seen with suspicion. It was criticized that there are no enough landline phones and he is talking about mobiles. But today he has been proved to be absolutely correct and nobody can live without mobiles. The mobile industry has grown so vast that it has eaten out landline phones and every other medium of communication. In 2002, he was punished and imprisoned for three years. Three times he was proved to be guilty of corruption and allegations were made against  him about collecting more than four crores of rupees by giving contracts private companies. Sukhram was and will be known for corruption forever but he was real visionary in respect of telephone especially mobile industry.