December 10, 2019
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'Don't Expect Any Miracles'

A.K. Antony the key architect of the 19-point code of conduct for Congressmen, says he had to resist cynics within the party while preparing the much-talked-about report. But the bigger challenge, he tells Outlook, is to implement the code. Excerpts:

'Don't Expect Any Miracles'
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Do you think everything will be all right with the Congress once you implement the code of conduct?

Don't expect a miracle in a day. We have a Herculean task before us. If only one per cent improvement is there, we will think we are successful. If we could arrest further deterioration (in the party) it will be a success.

Don't you think the 19 points are a trifle too tough for the average Congressman to abide by?

Yes, there was cynicism. They said 'what will happen; it (the corruption) is a universal phenomenon; it has become part of life'. But now we have formulated the code and it's a major step. There were several attempts earlier also to formulate a code of conduct. But it could never take off. As a party we were receiving complaints. Every day there was some complaint. Gradually it became horrible, and we thought public confidence will be destroyed unless we did something. I know we cannot be Gandhi but we should apply at least some of the values evolved by him.

How are you planning to implement the code?

The implementation is the most difficult task. Over the years, the standard of politics has gone down considerably. The people have no respect for politicians. During Nehru's time there was a written code of conduct. But after that politics became a profession, a practical thing. Everybody wants results. If you are in power you want to retain power; and if you are in the Opposition you want to come to power at any cost.

Who do you thing is responsible for this pathetic state of the Congress party?

The system, in general, and politics in particular have degenerated. But after the liberalisation process, money became more important in politics.

Are you saying that Manmohan Singh, the champion of the liberalisation process, is responsible for the downslide?

I am not blaming any individual. There was degeneration earlier too. With the advent of parliamentary democracy, money and muscle-power have become all important.

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