Published: 13th August 2018
Should Netas be stripped of state assets? The history of asset stripping explained
The Public Works Department has submitted a report to the Uttar Pradesh government over the damage at the government bungalow vacated by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav
Wall Street has turned the economy into a giant asset-stripping scheme, one whose purpose is to suck the last bits of meat from the carcass of the middle class
— Matt Taibbi, American author and journalist
Stripping has ancient roots as even those having a nodding acquaintance with our ancient tome of Mahabharata will know about Draupadi being stripped of her sari in public as she was offered as gambling bait, and lost, by one of her husbands, Yudhistira, and was saved from public nakedness by divine intervention. Those who take the kindergarten route to their education and miss Mahabharata in its complete glory can make up by keying in 'Draupadi' on Wikipedia.
That is ancient history or lore. But current history has a different kind of stripping off the State, a different subject beyond corruption which no longer bothers or surprises us. But first, the facts as reported and excerpted here.
The Public Works Department has submitted a report to the Uttar Pradesh government over the damage at the government bungalow vacated by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. In the report, the PWD estimated that damage worth Rs 10 lakh was done to the bungalow.
The report was filed after Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik instructed Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to take action against Akhilesh for reportedly leaving the government bungalow in a poor state, with broken tiles, missing water taps, decorative plants, lights, bathroom fittings, electrical fittings and a damaged swimming pool, cycle track and kitchen.
The incident came to light after the former CM vacated the bungalow on June 2 after the Supreme Court struck down an amendment in a state legislation allowing former chief ministers to retain government accommodation even after demitting office. “A chief minister is at par with a common man once his or her term ends,” a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said.
However, after Akhilesh vacated the bungalow, reports began to tumble out about how the bungalow was left in dire straits, leading to a war of words between the SP Chief and the BJP. The former CM had cited ‘hate and jealousy’ and said it was an attempt to malign his image. Akhilesh claimed he had purchased the fittings that the officials accused him of taking away from the bungalow. “I am being targeted as the BJP has a problem that the SP and the BSP are now in a coalition,” Yadav had said. Subsequently, the estimate of damage has been down-scaled by about 50% and it would be interesting to see how the recovery process progresses.
Meanwhile, down south, stripping of another type took place, not involving degrading of the property, but carting away furniture from the bungalow allotted to K B Koliwad as Speaker of the Assembly in Karnataka. He took away many pieces of furniture with antique value when he vacated the government bungalow allotted to him – once he ceased being the speaker. Caught on the wrong foot, Koliwad offered to pay for the items that were stolen rather than return the state treasure of antique value. Now they will find an exit route of depreciation of assets and written down value and the stately furniture will go to the usurper for a song.
We can go on and cite the instance of a retiring President taking away very expensive gifts presented to the Head of State by visiting dignitaries or while visiting countries as head of State. The details are spared for lack of space and as the point is already made.