I just love this headline in The Times of India:
The article is about a gentleman named Deepak Bhardwaj of the Bahujan Samaj Party, who has a net worth of Rs 600 crore. Bhardwaj says:
It is good that political parties nominate rich candidates in elections. If you find a rich person as your candidate, he or she can help the poor better and look after development work. How can a poor candidate serve the poor? It only stands to reason and therefore richer candidates should be given more chance to contest elections
The reason I am amused by Bhardwaj’s defensive attitude towards his wealth is that he has no reason to be on the back foot to begin with. As TN Ninan points out, “virtually every member [of the Lok Sabha] is a crorepati.”
Ninan suggests that politics is “India’s most lucrative profession,” and there is no doubt in my mind that he is right. In India, we take it for granted that our governments are there to rule us, not serve us, and do not question the amount of power they wield over us. Politicians, like all other humans, are driven by self-interest, so obviously they will use this power to enrich themselves, and the interest groups that help them come to power. The problem is with the system that allows them so much power with so few safeguards. The problem is with all of us, for allowing ourselves to be milked like this. (For more, read: “A beast called government.”)
To go back to Bhardwaj, he seems to have made his money from his family’s real estate investments, not from politics. But his political career might just be the best investment he has made. If he uses his money to buy himself power, he can then use that power to make much more money. Such it is.