Deadly duo

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“Politics and crime, they’re the same thing”. This remains the famous dialogue of aging mafia kingpin Michael Corleone, who is seeking a route to ‘legitimize’ his family business, in the final movie sequel of the trilogy The Godfather: Part III (1990). Inspired by actual events as well as fictional subject, the movie revolved around the theme of organized crime and individual story of a don who is gradually aging and evolving unlike other characters that are always scheming and simultaneously growing older. At the core of the trilogy, is a discourse that puts forth the power of criminality augmented by a system that is equally notorious. Nearly three decades down the final series of this movie, things in real world have become more nasty and grisly. Today, dons don different attire. They come as politicians. More precisely, as criminal politicians! Crime makes the most of their politicking. In fact, they make inroads in politics only through crime. They get elected as so-called ‘public representatives’ and devour the very essence of public welfare. Criminalization of politics, as such, is their new forte. In a third-world country like India, the criminal elements are gradually getting engaged in politics of the state through their accumulation of wealth and means of violence. They have developed a collaborative clout with the state that has helped these organizations to garner considerable political authority. This in a way has thwarted the import of democratic institutions critically. The insightful Vohra Committee report, which was formed way back in 1993 in the backdrop of perception regarding criminalization of politics, had exactly located this menace by observing that “the various crime Syndicates/Mafia organizations have developed significant muscle and money power and established linkages with governmental functionaries, political leaders and others to be able to operate with impunity” (p 10; 10.1- ii). It further, inter alia, revealed “the nexus between the criminal gangs, police, bureaucracy and politicians” in various parts of India. Since 1993, things have taken an abysmal downslide. Politics and crime have actually turned synonymous. The combination is turning brutal and brazen: a deadly duo! It is also becoming an economic necessity now. From regions brimming with violent conflicts to communally polarized areas, criminal mayhem and rumpus is a survival call for such elements. The book by political scientist and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, Milan Vaishnav, ‘When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics’ (2017) is a research-based disclosure about the frantic criminality that has plagued politics in India. It brings forth the methodical co-existence between politics and crime, which is atrociously consuming the egalitarian structures in India. “Where government is unable to fulfil its basic responsibilities and social divisions are rife, voters seek refuge in strongmen who can deliver what the state cannot”, wrote Vaishnav. Perhaps, the ‘inability’ of state to deliver is something quite manufactured. The fact that those facing numerous criminal charges (intriguingly, 34% of winning candidates in 2014 Lok Sabha elections had criminal cases filed against them!) are easily allowed by the state to enter into the political domain, serves as an indication towards the nexus that is forged with a calculated decision, and even betrayed with sudden antagonism as and when situation arises. Coming to Nagaland, the scenario is not any different. Except for the prevalence of political conflict, which of course gives a more of leverage in wreaking criminal acts, politics here is also witnessing organized criminal violence that has reached unprecedented levels as of now. The way gruesome acts of crime are ‘defended’ explains the tenacious network that is virtually running a parallel government pushing the so-called state apparatus into irrelevance. The convergence of various groups/parties, drawn from politicians to police to public servants, under a particular patronage, has rendered our State into a den of dread and desolation.