India: Neera Radia Tapes Expose the Farce of Democracy to the Hilt

- Rajesh Tyagi/ 18.12.2010

With leakage of Neera Radia tapes, not only a new turn has come to the infamous 2G spectrum scam, running into 1.76 lakh crores ($40 billion) but, the whole edifice of bourgeois democracy stands exposed to the hilt.

The whole farce of democracy turned to ground as the transcript of audio tapes of the conversation between Neera Radia on one side and top businessmen, bureaucrats, politicians and above all media-men came to the fore, one after the other.

Finance Ministry had got sanctioned the tapping of phone lines of Neera Radia in 2007, acting on a tip off, to the effect that she was involved in nefarious activities which may have an anti-national edge, and has thereby accumulated wealth of more than Rs. 300 crore in less than nine years.

The tapes were subsequently leaked to media by government officials who always remain on the payrolls of media-men, and got telecast on the channels.

The transcription was explosive. It showed how power brokers like Radia who though apparently have no official positions at their disposal, get access to top echelons of power structures and play important, rather crucial role in decision making process. They exposed how the ministers and top bureaucrats, holding public offices, had acted as cronies of the corporate and moulded the acts and policies of the government to their interests.

With Neera Radia episode, the issue has gone beyond the orbit of ‘corruption’ simpliciter. We see, for the first time, a whole class of brokers, the ‘lobbyists’ as they call it, emerging on the horizon of the society controlled by the rich, making invisible bridges not only between its ‘corporate’ and ‘political’ organs, but its ‘free press’ too. Side by side with Industrialist Ratan Tata and Cabinet Minister A. Raja, the pernicious role of journos Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi has also surfaced.

Ratan Tata, the top industrialist in India, hitherto celebrated in business world for his ‘honest’ dealings, took assistance of Radia, to bend the spectrum allotment in his favour. Radia is recorded on tapes talking directly to the then communication minister A. Raja, on policy issues.

On top of all, the tapes show the role of this Radia in influencing even the selection for the cabinet berths.

How democracy becomes a farce under the rule of capital and turns into an agency in the hands of the rich, is evident from this exposure. The impotence of the representative institutions of bourgeois democracy and their nothingness in the face of real interest of the rich, was also exposed as the opposition in parliament utterly failed in realising its demand for a probe into the scam by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). Issue is ultimately handed over to the CBI, the political police of the centre, to whitewash the scenario.

Radia episode makes it crystal clear that the real power centres in democracies under capitalism exist outside the formal and legal structures of the state, while the elected organs are rendered more and more powerless and corrupted by the money, with each passing day.

The Stalinist parties, CPI & CPI(M) reacted to the issue in casual manner, from a nationalist and reformative perspective. Addressing the students at Indian Institute of Management at Calcutta, Sitaram Yechury of CPI (M) said that “several scams in which huge sums of public money were siphoned off amounted to a compromise on the country's growth and development”.

The interest of the working people, however, does not lie in cleansing the system of capitalist democracies, as Stalinists propagate, of corruption and manipulations, which are integral parts of capitalism, but it lies in forcible overthrow of capitalism, and its democracy, the democracy of the rich and its substitution by the dictatorship of working class.

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