Punjab Minister for Revenue and veteran politician, Mian Ata Muhammad Maneka, has announced that he would not be contesting the upcoming election as he feels “totally misfit in the existing system” which he insists serves the interests of the rulers, not the voters. After a colourful career spanning five decades in politics and containing stints with different political parties, declaring himself a “total misfit” would a understatement to say the least. Mr Maneka is in his element – he is merely out of favor with the provincial government.
Having resigned his post in July, the decision to quit politics does not make any unexpected waves in the Punjab government setup. However, it does free Mr Mankea from the directives of the party leadership and allows his to speak his mind – something the former minister claims he was never allowed to do.
The “big reveal” however falls way short of that. What could have been the veteran politician’s defining moment – naming, shaming and exposing the elements that had turned the government a client for “investors and money interests” – turned out to be the standard fare doled out by seasoned politicians. Mr Maneka bemoaned corruption, and subversion of the voter’s mandate, all without taking any names or providing any specifics. With his political career at its end, the former minister could have taken bolder steps, and in the process affirm his convictions and his dedication to the people after five decades of service.
What we did hear however was an extensive list of suggestion on how the electoral law could be fixed. He suggested that as system to monitor performance of all the Ministers should be established. At present, he said, there was no such system in place and expertise in sycophancy was the major consideration for induction in Cabinet.
His biggest criticism however, was reserved for independent candidates; arguing for a complete ban on them. According to Mr Maneka, independent candidates, after getting elected, join various parties, mostly the ones that offer them more financial and other incentives as such people are not loyal to anyone except themselves.
These are valid criticisms, one that must be looked at coming from a foreign government member. However, this strong rejection was followed by an equally strong contradiction. After railing against politics at length, the former minister indicated that his son would be joining the same ranks in his stead – and ironically, he will “be free to join any party”.
This final revelation certainly puts much of his previous commentary in perspective.