JAMMU: Either they are politicians or they are dacoits– like ‘benevolent’ Maan Singh. When many of the politicians tend to be both, they make mess of the both.Most of the modern day politicians in the Indian polity are fashioned to be very liberal in making promises and benevolent in announcing funds for projects during their visits to various areas. When in the government, they consider the exchequer as their fiefdom to use it the way it suits them or their interests. When in the opposition they become extravagant in making the promises to woo voters. In both the cases they are playing with the sacred trust of the taxpayers, who pay for the country’s growth and progress, welfare and national security and so on and so forth.Unlike Maan Singh, most of the politicians adopt novel means in fleecing the masses by utilizing taxed money of the people on their personal comforts. Politicians seldom pay taxes. In 2017, the then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was compelled to observe sarcastically in his budget speech, “We can conclude that we are largely a tax non-compliant society”. May be he was constrained to say so because 75 per cent of MPs and MLAs nationwide had declared annual incomes less than Rs 10 lakh, the analysis found. Around 35 per cent of lawmakers said their annual income is less than Rs 2.5 lakh while 40 per cent have declared annual income between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh. As many as 1,141 (24 per cent) MPs and MLAs claimed exemption from income tax or have no income at all.While pretending to be working for the public good, their vested interest remains in every deal and project. India has desperately seen the scams and scandals involving politicians, who have emptied the coffers of the country through their conduits. Some do it on a larger scale and some like petty thieves. Who doesn’t know the truth of the Constituency Development Fund, allotted to every parliamentarian and legislator? True, the whopping funds available are released for developmental purpose but the costs are known to everyone. These generally go to schemes through agents or supporters for obvious reasons. It is not that every chosen representative indulges in loot and plunder but many do. This is true about every scheme and project. Even defense deals have not been spared. And, height of all this is that none of the politicians ever spend even a penny for the public welfare out of their personal accounts. Indian politicians don’t inspire but they conspire. Their promises fall frail before their middling performances. Their elation causes nothing but frustration. They have brought the nation to such a passé where from retrieval appears to be a distant dream. They have been vindicating the prophecy, day in and day out, made by Churchill even before India got the freedom. He had observed, ‘”…Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air and water would be taxed in India.”On the contrary, some of the dacoits like Daku Maan Singh are wrapped in the annals of history as most benevolent, who tirelessly worked for the poor. Once upon a time, Chambal ravines had a dreaded dacoit, called Daku Maan Singh. There are so many stories attributed to his acts, one of which portrays him a good and benevolent frame. The legend goes that he used to loot the rich to help the poor. This had made him very popular among the majority-the poor. His tales are still being recalled in the form of books and on the celluloid. And, several dacoits in thirties to fifties were so inspired by Daku Maan that they virtually worked like philanthropists.A renowned Gandhian, S. N. Subba Rao wrote about Maan Singh that he heard him speak on stage in 1953 at a public function in Chambal. He wrote that he was totally unlike what he had read about him in the papers. The government wanted him dead with a big Inaam (reward) on his head and here he was, standing before the adoring public. A Robin Hood figure who once performed essential social services in hard times and adjudicated local issues. Now a pagoda is dedicated to Maan Singh in his village Khera Rathore where some people regularly go to worship at Maan Singh MandirActor Amitabh Bachchan also quotes “In my younger days, we were in awe of Daaku Maan Singh, whose escapades and adventures were common conversation in and around every possible gathering”.Ridiculous it may be, but one feels tempted to make a comparison between dacoits and some Indian politicians.
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