I believe that both as a party and as a government we must confront corruption head-on. State funding of elections has been talked about in different forums from time to time. We should now consider how best to take this proposal forward decisively. Beyond this, here is how I believe we can intensify our battle against corruption.
First, there is merit in instituting a new system of fast-tracking all cases that concern corruption by public servants, including politicians. Such cases drag on interminably and undermine public confidence and trust. Why can't we put in place systems that bring corruption cases to closure in a defined time-frame? This would bring the guilty to book quickly and clear those unfairly charged.
Second, we must ensure, through legislation and clear procedures, full transparency in public procurement and contracts. It is the duty of the administration to ensure that there is no subversion of due process. And should it come to pass, whistle blowers must be protected.
Third, we have ample evidence that all discretionary powers, particularly in land allocation breed corruption. I would like all Congress chief ministers and Ministers at both the Centre and states, to set an example by reviewing and relinquishing such powers.
Fourth, we need an open, competitive system of exploiting natural resources. This is something we promised in our 2009 election manifesto and it has now assumed much greater urgency.
Congressmen and women holding office must not allow any doubt about their probity and integrity. It ill becomes representatives of a Party claiming to speak for the poor to indulge in greed, extravagance and luxury. Simplicity, restraint and austerity must be our chosen way. We cannot make this a law. But in a country where poverty is still widespread, let us at least have the moral sensibility to avoid vulgar displays of wealth and waste.