Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Rishi Sunak sparks majority Vs minority debate in India

Rishi Sunak sparks majority Vs minority debate in India Amba Charan Vashishth Intro The taking over of Rishi Sunak, a person of Indian origin, as the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK) is certainly a matter of rejoicing for every Indian. The event has injected a sense of pride and honour for everyone in the country. The ruling BJP-led NDA is going gung-ho at the development. Yet many politicians have jumped in to play politics in the country and are explaining and exploiting the event in their own peculiar style to hammer out the ruling alliance and derive political-electoral benefits. It is only by chance that the new UK PM happens to belong to a minority community in the UK. For the British people, the Conservative Party to which he belongs, and the British Parliament, Sunak’s caste and religion had nothing to do with their choice. Thus, politicians in India are belittling his achievement by underlining only his caste and religion as if he had no other merit. This has exposed their narrowmindedness. The same champions of the rights of minorities in India did not press for a minority PM when their party won a majority in alliance with other parties. What can it be called now? It is — and should be — a matter of pride for India that Rishi Sunak, a person of Indian origin, has risen to hold the high office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK). It is rightly said that politics is too much with us in India. That is why dirty — to an extent, mean — politics has come to play from the moment it became certain that Sunak enjoys majority support in UK Parliament. This news became handy for the non-NDA politicians in the country to stoop so low as to use this incident in the UK to make the waters of Indian politics still muddier with their narrow politics. It is a matter of regret that in their anxiety to extract political advantage out of this happening in the UK, the politicians in the country have tried to paint the event to look as if Rishi Sunak possessed no other merit except that he belongs to a minority community. Their shortsightedness stands exposed before the world community. The former J&K; chief minister Ms. Mehbooba Mufti of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who had shared power with BJP, was quick to welcome that “India rightly celebrates this event” but, at the same time, she exhorted the politicians “to remember that while the UK has accepted an ethnic minority member as its PM, we are all still shackled by divisive and discriminatory laws like NRC and CAA”. The BJP’s former ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Ravi Shankar Prasad were quick to retort asking her to tell whether she would accept a Hindu as J&K;’s chief minister. That was sufficient to render her silent. Similarly, the erudite former home and finance minister P. Chidambaran slammed the “majoritarianism” in the country. Shashi Tharoor went to the extent of asking whether “Sunak-type appointment could be possible for Muslims and Christians in India”. The Congress party was quick to “snub” both for their comments. Their utterances look very funny. In India, a person is “appointed” as the prime minister by the President — and in the UK by the King — not arbitrarily but only when he/she has been elected by the party which holds a majority in Parliament. Not going much earlier, both these senior Congress leaders should have made their party elect a Muslim or a Christian as leader of their parliamentary party by virtue of which he could be “appointed” as PM by the President of India when the Congress Party won a majority in alliance with other parties in 2004 and 2009. Why did they not do it then, they owe an explanation to the nation. In the just-concluded elections for the post of the President of the Indian National Congress, why did both these gentlemen not demand that the party should shun “majoritarianism” and that a Muslim or a Christian should head the party? Needless to remind the Congress party that since independence in 1947 the Party has not “selected, elected or appointed” a single Muslim or Christian as head of the party. Why? Chidambaram’s condemnation of “majoritarianism” too appears ludicrous. Democracy means rule by the majority. No leader can run a government unless he commands a majority in parliament. Does he mean to say that in his concept of democracy, the country should be ruled not by the majority but by the minority? And then why did his party not go by the rule of the majority during elections to the post of President of the Party? Why was Mr Mallikarjun Kharge who polled the majority of votes declared the winner and Mr Shashi Tharoor who got a minority of votes declared the loser? It all looks hypocritical. This UK example has generated hope in the mind of the AIMIM (All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) chief Asaduddin Owaisi that one day a Hijab-clad woman would be the prime minister of India. It is interesting to note that while people like Owaisi are fighting for Hijab in India, Muslim women in Iran have risen up against Hijab. At this moment, it is relevant to recall the comment of the then British PM Winston M. Churchill: “If Independence is granted to India, power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.” Today, not only has India proved Churchill wrong by keeping democracy alive during the last 75 years but has shown that India has the wisdom, strength, and vision to guide the destiny of the British empire which once ruled the country. India has every hope that Rishi will do the very best for the UK and bring more laurels for it . At the same time, India hopes that the relations between the two countries would be more friendly and helpful for each other to usher in peace and prosperity in India and the world. *** (The writer is a political analyst and commentator)

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

A Sad Saga of Political Untruths and Judicial Truths

A Sad Saga of Political Untruths and Judicial Truths Politicians Crave for laws to be immobilized to let the Piles of Corruption lie Hidden under the Debris of Filth of Protection and Promotion By Amba Charan Vashishth Intro The Modi government’s resolve in letting the anti-corruption agencies do their job without fear and favour is not going well with those politicians who thrived at the hands of power and political protection. The results of the proactiveness of many of the government agencies have sent shivers to some who have been caught recently. They want these institutions to be immobilised so that the illegal activities of certain politicians, their relations, friends, and supporters continue to move on without hindrance at a great cost to the nation. For the last some years, it is true that the Central agencies — like the Income Tax (IT) Department, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), and, the National Investigating Agency (NIA) —have become more active than ever before, for the realisation of the objectives for which these were created. The CBI seems to have come out of its “caged parrot” stage, as it was once branded by the Supreme Court (SC) of India. It needs to be noted that none of these agencies were created by the present ruling NDA. Can performing their duties in accordance with the law be something against the spirit of democracy? If it has, the non-NDA opposition needs to apologise for having given birth to these institutions and hold out a commitment that if it ever came to power, it will lose no time in atoning its guilt by giving these agencies a model burial. “CAGED CARROT” FREED? It has become a ‘sacred’ practice with the opposition parties to instantly give him/her a verdict of “not guilty” the moment the long hands of law reach a political leader, his relations, or his supporters. it is customary for the party to which he/she may belong, the moment allegations see the light of the day and before the same were investigated and the matter was taken to the court for its judicial verdict. It is also a common practice with the political parties to hurl the charge that the ruling party is using these agencies as an instrument of oppression against those who do not see eye to eye with it. Some of them have gone to the extent of saying that the ruling party contests the elections in an “alliance” with CBI, IT, ED, and NCB. From the proactive conduct of these agencies, for some, even democracy does not seem to exist in the country. Whatever the politicians may say or claim, the people are certainly the best judge. In Maharashtra, the situation worsened when every other day there was an unchecked exchange of arrows of corruption and other charges between many politicians. The ED and the NCB authorities went into action when allegations between Maharashtra Police high-ups and the Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, belonging to NCP in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government headed by Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray flowed down freely. The ED and the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) authorities swung into action when allegations of money laundering and drug trafficking started emerging during the course of the CBI investigation into these cases. INSTANT JUDGEMENT BY POLITICIANS When demands for a CBI probe against the then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh started gaining ground the Maharashtra strongman and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar took stock of the allegations of corruption made by the then DGP Param Bir Singh against the Home Minister Deshmukh. Pawarji instantly dismissed the allegations as false and frivolous and declared that there was no ground for Deshmukh’s resignation. He went further, saying that these agencies were being used to promote the electoral interests of the ruling NDA alliance at the Centre. A few weeks later Deshmukh had to resign. Soon afterwards, another too-vocal NCP Minister Nawab Malik who, almost every day, was churning out allegations against his opponents, was also found involved in various acts of alleged crimes and arrested. Both these ministers are now rubbing their heels in jail. Similarly, Delhi Minister Satyendra Jain had all along been asserting that he is innocent and honest. When CBI and ED laid their hands on Jain, AAP supremo and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal instantly jumped in to issue a character certificate of innocence and honesty to Jain. He said he and the party were solidly behind Jain. But for the last 4-6 months Jain continues to be in jail. CERTIFICATES OF INNOCENCE When the West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee, a very close aide of CM Banerjee, was summoned by the ED to appear before it, she in her characteristic style, alleged that the BJP-led NDA was exploiting the central agencies to harass its opponents. A few hundred crores of money and gold in kilograms were recovered. Later, he and his colleague were arrested. He is now in jail. Viewing on TV screens the high heaps of ₹500 currency notes was a rare spectacle for the countrymen. Counting the notes became such an arduous job that the agencies had to procure note-counting machines. As the revelations against Chatterjee turned murky, WB CM changed her stand and started telling people that let the law prevail. As another setback to CM Mamta Banerjee, a senior TMC leader Anubrata Mondal was arrested by the CBI on August 11, 2022 in a cattle smuggling case. He is also behind bars. More than a year back, the senior Congress leader and former UPA Home Minister P. Chidambaram too was found to be involved in some criminal wrongdoings and arrested. The senior advocate as he himself is, he used every trick of the game and erudition at his command to keep the long hands of the law away from him. Ultimately, he was arrested. He went to the highest court of the country but to no avail. He had to remain in jail for about two months. His son too has been accused of defying certain laws. The situation was no different in the case of Associated Journals Limited which published the National Herald daily. Both Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, among others, are allegedly involved. They knocked at various courts requesting for cancellation of the case against them. The courts refused. They are now on bail for their involvement in the alleged crimes. The too-vocal Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut, too, has been hauled up for various offences. For the last more than a month, he too is sulking behind bars. It needs to be kept in mind that all the gentlemen mentioned above are in jai not on orders of any government but various courts of the country. SAD COMMENTARY Who is right, honest, and innocent or guilty, will one day manifest with the verdicts of the judiciary? This could not have happened if the “caged parrot” had not been wriggled out free. If this could not happen a decade before the present NDA regime came in, it is a sad and bad commentary on the working of the earlier regimes. It is because of their failure that such huge money, gold in kilograms, drugs costing hundreds of crores, lands, and flats could be acquired by some people and the same have now been unearthed. The opposition charge against the present NDA governments is that it is exploiting these agencies to settle scores with its political adversaries. It now boomerangs on the accusers that when UPA was in power for a decade it provided cover to the nefarious activities of those who had now been brought to justice. Similarly, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has done an excellent job. Narcotics of various categories valuing hundreds of crores of rupees in the international market have been seized. Fingers have been raised on the activities of NCB too. No sane person can say that this has been done with ulterior motives. The money raised with these narcotics is used for funding anti-national and terrorist activities in the country. HON’BLE CONVICTED LEADERS Every political leader — former Haryana CM O.P. Chautala and RJD supremo and former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad Yadav included — had claimed that they were honest and innocent and that the criminal cases against them were the outcome of political animosity. Yet, they have been found guilty of the crime by the courts and have/are undergoing jail terms for their wrongdoings. Those creating so much noise on IT raids now against certain individuals or industrial units need to recall how during the UPA regime on January 13, 2013, IT authorities had conducted raids at eight units connected to the then BJP National president Nitin Gadkari. This was done on the eve of filing of nomination papers by him for re-election as President for the second time. Following this, Shri Gadkari refused to file his nomination. The UPA’s political purpose was served. It is common for the political parties to declare that their party leaders hauled up by the Central agencies for violation of the law are innocent. By their behaviour, the opposition is putting a question mark on the impartiality and fairness of the institutions of investigating agencies created under the law. Simultaneously, by doing so they are also lowering the prestige and questioning the impartiality of the judicial system of the country. This conduct also, in a way, criminalises politics and vice versa. WHAT IS AAP DOING IN PUNJAB? The non-NDA political parties, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) included, are raising a great hue and cry over what the IT, CBI, ED, and NCB are doing in various parts of the country. They call it political witch-hunting and political vendetta. But the same political parties are keeping mum over what the AAP government is doing in Punjab against its political opponents. Is it not an instance of hypocrisy? NO SENSE OF SHAME When an ordinary criminal(s) is arrested for any crime and photographers try to click their photographs for print and electronic media, he covers his faces with a sense of shame. But it is the opposite with our high-profile leaders in politics. They not only wish to be seen smiling and waving to the crowds as if they are proud of what they have done. They have no sense of regret or shame. The likes of O. P. Chautala and Lalu Prasad Yadav never confessed that they had committed any crime. They too claimed that they are honest and have been the victims of political vendetta. But courts found it otherwise. After some months, more or less, when these great leaders are granted bail — note, not honourably acquitted — they are accorded a hero’s welcome by their relations, friends, and supporters as if they are returning home from a battlefront with bounties of victories for the nation. By such a conduct our political parties are providing a halo of glamour and respect to those charged with or convicted of crimes, like corruption, money laundering, etc. When they return home after completing their term of imprisonment, they are back, guiding the politics and destiny of the country. It certainly is the true face of Indian politics. It is time the politicians who, for political considerations, side with the people who are, later, convicted of crimes, need to be made answerable and brought to book for the crime of promoting, protecting, and helping the criminals. *** The writer is a political analyst and commentator.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

No one can prevent a Palturam to Dream to be a PM

No one can prevent a Palturam to Dream to be a PM By Amba Charan Vashishth “Nitish Kumar is the Paltu Ram of Bihar politics. He has again proved that he can do anything for power. He has neither principles nor ideology but only greed for power”. These are the words not of the BJP or the NDA leaders whom Nitish Kumar jilted in August 2022. These are the sentiments of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav when Nitish Kumar walked out of the Mahagathbandhan in 2017 to come into the NDA fold. Laluji’s words have come out true. Whatever else it may be, the beneficiary each time has only been the ‘sushasan babu’Nitish Kumar. Each time he has saved his chief ministership. It is another form of defection. This very reaction could, perhaps, fit into the mouth of the NDA on the new palta (about-turn) CM Nitish Kumar has taken this time again. It is something peculiar to him, a patent for his style of functioning. Each time he parts company with Lalu Prasad’s RJD he discovers ‘corruption’ and ‘jungle raj’ in the latter. The ‘sushasan babu’ also reminds people of his resolve for zero tolerance to corruption. Numerous times he has hugged-embraced the same Lalu who then turns ‘honest’ for him in his resolve to collectively fight the ‘communal’ forces represented by the BJP-led NDA. Lalu’s conviction and jail terms for the fodder scam do not pollute his pious kind of ‘honesty’. UNKIND TO GEORGE Nitishji did not spare even the veteran socialist leader George Fernandes who prodded him to the Centre stage of politics. In 1994 the former formed Samata Party “to give a solid political forum” to Nitishji when he walked out of Laluji’s company. Later, he merged his Samata Party with JD(U). When late Fernandes joined hands with NDA, he was able to oust the Lalu regime in 2005 projecting Nitish as the chief ministerial candidate in Bihar. Together, both George and Nitish with the help of the NDA were able to end Lalu’s ‘jungle raj’ installing Shri Nitish as the chief minister of Bihar. But soon his differences began to emerge with Georgeji. The matter worsened to such an extent that in the 2009 elections to Parliament he denied nomination to his mentor and protector Fernandes from the latter’s home constituency Nalanda from where Nitishji fought the election himself. The treatment meted out to a veteran socialist leader George Fernandes by Nitish did not go well with the people who held the former in great esteem. Ultimately, he had to nominate the former to the Rajya Sabha. Shri Nitish Kumar has also earned the distinction of never completing his five-year term in one alliance; he is in the habit of jilting one party or alliance and embracing the other. He does speak of “zero tolerance to corruption” and secularism but his love for every now and then changing loyalties with alliances bitterly opposed to each other is a record of sorts. At one time he disdains Lalu Yadav for his involvement in fodder scams and consequent conviction. He severs his association with the ‘corrupt’ RJD and embraces the BJP-led NDA forgetting its ‘communal tag’. SLEEPING WITH ENEMY At other times, the association and dependence on ‘communal’ NDA becomes extremely intolerable to the otherwise ‘tolerant’ Nitish Kumar that he ends his links with it to fall in the embrace of Lalu faction who then ceases to look corrupt and the chief of the jungleraj. But each time he does ensure that his chief ministership is safe. Each time he feels too happy to sleep with his enemies as long as his bed of power remains safe. He had, in the past, done so a number of times. The ayaram-gayaram type of politics was first established in Haryana in the late sixties of the last century. Shri Nitish Kumar can rightly claim to have pioneered the palturam politics in Bihar. In 2013 BJP announced that the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi would be the NDA candidate for Prime Ministership. This was not acceptable to him. At that time, he had started nurturing ambitions to be the prime ministerial candidate himself. ENRAGED AT MODI The NDA had planned a rally at Ludhiana (Panjab) to be jointly addressed by both the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The BJP displayed a number of hoardings showing both holding each other’s hand as a display of solidarity. This enraged Nitish Kumar so much that he cancelled his Ludhiana programme to address a joint NDA rally. The NDA had planned a meeting in Patna. Nitish Kumar had decided to throw an official dinner in honour of the NDA leaders. He cancelled the dinner. He even went to the extent of returning to the Gujarat CM the sum of ₹5 crores which the latter had contributed for relief to the people of the State who had been subjected to unprecedented damage caused by the Kosi river floods. In a fit of anger, Shri Nitish Kumar failed to understand that whatever financial help Shri Modi had sent to him was meant for the people of Bihar. By this action, the losers were only the Bihar people and none else. In 2019 elections to Parliament, JD(U) was again part of NDA which swept the polls winning 39 (BJP 17, JD(U) 16, and Ram Bilas’s LJP 6) and Congress got just 1. In 2020 elections to Bihar assembly, the JD(U) was a constituent of NDA. It won just 43 seats and BJP 74. RJD came out as the single largest party with 75 seats. In spite of having a strength of 74, the big brother BJP was generous to let Shri Nitish Kumar continue as CM. SELFISHNESS TO THE CORE Shri Nitish Kumar claims himself to be a sushasan babu with a clean image of honesty, and a sushaasan (good governance) babu. But by ditching BJP for whatever genuine reasons, he has emerged as an opportunist politician who has little regard for the spirit of democracy. The people of Bihar had given a clear mandate to the pre-poll alliance of BJP and JD(U) to govern the State. Yet the act of Shri Nitish Kumar joining hands with RJD, Congress, and the left — against whom BJP-JD(U) combine had fought the election) is highly immoral by every political standard. He has lost his credibility. For him ‘secularism’, ‘communalism’, corruption, and principles of democracy mean nothing. What guides his conscience is just the lust for power. There are reports of his toying with the dream of emerging as the prime ministerial candidate of the non-NDA combine. In a democracy, everyone has a right to project himself as the chief or prime ministerial candidate. But it looks quite funny that a person who has never been able to win a majority in his home State to be the chief minister is daydreaming to be the prime minister of the country. The only reason prompting the Bihar chief minister to sever ties with NDA, it looks, was that as long as he was with NDA, he could not even think of it. He possesses another unique quality to change his stand and association at will any time. Nobody can challenge him on this count. ASPIRANTS GALORE The Bihar CM also needs not to ignore the aspirations of West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Bannerjee, Telangana CM K. Chandrashekhar Rao, Congress scions Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadara and, of course, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Like Shri Nitish Kumar, they too have the right to put their foot forward to claim. Will Shri Nitish be able to realise his daydream to be the prime ministerial candidate of the mahagathbandhan? Our constitution does give the right to everyone to daydream but cannot stand a guarantee of success to all the candidates in the fray. *** The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

‘Opposition for Opposition’ shouldn’t be the Opposition Dharma

‘Opposition for Opposition’ shouldn’t be the Opposition Dharma By Amba Charan Vashishth Intro The opposition is as much a vital element of a democracy as is the ruling party. A democracy without a strong and effective opposition is no democracy. Both are elected by the people. Both are not inimical to each other; they are complementary to each other. The opposition role needs to be constructive, positive, and honest in the realisation of the common goal of both: the welfare and prosperity of the country. But in India, the situation seems to be different. Putting hurdles in every plan and policy of the ruling party seems to be the main objective opposition. That, perhaps, is the main malady of the Indian democracy. Prices of essential commodities and some other things of daily common use are rising. So are the prices of petrol, diesel, and cooking gas going up every other day. Who can deny this fact? Nobody. But our opposition parties and critics do not wish to appreciate the reasons behind all this. They only criticise and don’t cooperate in pursuing the common goals for India. Even on the issue of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, some in the opposition have their ifs, buts, and whys when it comes to dealing with China and Pakistan. COVID-19, THE MAIN REASON Covid-19 is recognised as the main cause of economic downtrend all over the world. The way the Modi government handled the epidemic has won the appreciation from numerous countries and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Otherwise, the number of fatalities in the country would have been the highest, perhaps a little less than those in China. India became the first country to produce the anti-Covid vaccine to fight this menace. She also helped many countries and earned their gratitude. But the role of opposition had been anything but constructive. First, they cried hoarse that the government was not coming out with any medicine to combat Covid-19. When it did, they started finding fault with it. Some injected politics and called it Modi and BJP vaccine. They refused to get themselves vaccinated and exhorted people not to do so. Time has proved who was right. PRICE RISE UNHEARD OF? The opposition holds the present government in power at the Centre solely responsible for the misery of the people because of the rocketing prices. The States, too, have a major role because many subjects which affect the prices are State subjects, as per provisions in the Constitution. Before laying the blame on the Centre, the States should do what they should. They cannot be a silent spectator to the misery of the people. They also try to give the impression as if the phenomenon of price rise dawned with the dawn of the present NDA government at the Centre in 2014. Before that, the price rise was something people had never felt, seen, or heard of. If ever it was, it was only like the prick of an injection that sucked all the pain of the patient. WORLDWIDE MALADY It is also worth recalling that in 1973 the prices went beyond the control of the then Indira Gandhi government. Hard-pressed, she declared that this malady was not afflicting India alone; it had engulfed the whole world; it was a worldwide scenario. Needless to mention that the present rate of inflation in the USA is 8.5 percent while in India it is 7.00 percent. NO UNEMPLOYMENT BEFORE 2014? The same is true of unemployment. But is the unemployment rise a spectacle that also rose only with the rise of the BJP-led NDA government with Shri Narender Modi as the Prime Minister in May 2014? Did the Congress-led UPA government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, when voted out of power, left behind a legacy of zero unemployment among every youth, man or woman, educated or illiterate, living in a village, a town, or a city? No. It was not. It cannot also be possible when a country was taking great leaps forward in development. UPA government had left behind a trail of 5.44% unemployment in the country. The employment rate for persons aged 15 years and above in urban areas, as per the report of the National Statistics Organisation (NSO), dipped to 8.2 percent in January-March 2022 from 9.3 percent in the quarter last year. Similarly, the unemployment rate among females in the same age group in urban areas declined to 10.1 percent in January-March, 2022 from 11.8 percent a year ago. Among the males too, it dipped to 7.7 percent in January-March 2022 compared to 8.6 percent a year ago. Joblessness was high in January-March in 2021 mainly due to the lockdown restrictions in the country imposed to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. No country, not even the advanced ones, is free from the malady of unemployment. For example, in the USA the percentage of unemployment is 3.6%, in Russia 3.9 percent, and in China 5.9 percent. POVERTY Poverty too continues to give sleepless nights to those who are at the helm of affairs, not only in India but the world over with some countries worried less and some more. The late Prime Minister Mrs. India Gandhi in 1971 elections promised to the people to eradicate poverty from India. But the promise went topsy-turvy. It only resulted in inflating the number of poor people. Later, the government promised to vanish unemployment. One is reminded of a cartoon in an English newspaper at that time where a young unemployed asks a beggar, do you think the government will be able to exterminate unemployment from the country? The beggar replies, “Hundred percent. I am waiting for my poverty to be obliterated for the last over a decade”. FASTEST GROWING ECONOMY SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT On the other hand, as per the World Bank (WB) report, India is the fastest growing economy in the world. In response to the COVID-19 shock, it says, the government and the Reserve Bank of India took several monetary and fiscal policy measures to support vulnerable firms and households to expand service delivery (with increased spending on health and social protection) and cushion the impact of the crisis on the economy. Thanks, in part, to these proactive measures, India’s economy is expected to rebound — with a strong base effect materializing in Financial Year 22 — and growth is expected to stabilize at around 7 percent thereafter. Yet, for unexplained reasons, all these positive developments do not spread a ray of smile on the faces of the opposition. CONSTRUCTIVE OPPOSITION In a democracy, the opposition party is as vital as the ruling party. Both are representatives of the people, voted by the people. Both are complementary to each other. Opposition is not opposition for the sake of opposition. It must be positive and constructive. It has every right to be critical of the government but, at the same time, it must come out with positive and constructive suggestions to make any measure more useful to the country. ED & IT For the past some years, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax (IT) Department had not been as active as they should have been to realise the objective for which these institutions were created. If the earlier governments turned the institutions like CBI to be a “caged parrot” and hampered ED and IT to perform their duty to unearth the black money stashed by individuals, companies, and firms, some of whom have turned out to be ministers, officials, and others, some with political connections too, NDA cannot be blamed. There are cases of Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Delhi ministers from whom hundreds of crores of rupees, gold in kilograms, and silver in tens of kilograms, houses, flats, plots of land etc., have been recovered. These are, perhaps, the highest-ever hauls of moveable and immoveable properties which have come to the hands of these agencies. Two ministers of Maharashtra, one of Delhi, two West Bengal, some bureaucrats, etc. are rubbing their heels in jails for the last many months. Last year, former Congress Union Minister P. Chidambaram had also to spend some months in jail. Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi are also under investigation in connection with the alleged National Herald case. All of them went to the highest court of the country for quashing the cases against them but of no avail. Much hue and cry is being raised because some politicians themselves or their relations, friends, and supporters have been found to be involved. They are terming the ED and IT action as a political vendetta against political opponents by the ruling party. They have held protest marches, bandhs, etc. in protest against the legal action against their leaders, colleagues, and supporters. Their conduct amounts to generating a lack of faith in the law of the land and the judiciary which amounts to the commission of the crime of sedition. The chief ministers and ministers condemning this action by the judiciary are working against the oath of office they took at the time of their swearing-in. LACKING WILL TO ACT The governments in the past did frame laws against violation of Income Tax laws, money laundering, and black money, but these remained on the statute books, never executed and implemented. Under the present dispensation, the ED and IT agencies have been given a free hand to act, it has put in trouble the individuals and units who thrived under political patronage and protection. A most surprising aspect is emerging in the present political scenario in the country. Jail terms for corruption to some leaders are proving to be a great glaring glue for political alliances while traits of nationalism and honesty are emerging as untouchables for the ‘secular and liberal’ political parties and leaders. Birds of the same feather flock together, it is also said. Any person or a group proceeded against under the law of the land, as a natural course, are a man or a woman, belonging to a certain caste, some faith, be a bureaucrat, a businessman, a politician owing allegiance to the ruling or the opposition party, from one or the other state of the country. In that case, can the action taken by any legal agency be called a vendetta against one of the sections of society and, therefore, not a crime? RAID ON TRUMP Just two days back, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) laid a raid on US former President Donald Trump’s home. What can India say? It is an internal matter of USA. But can we say that USA has taken a cue from India? *** The writer is a political analyst and commentator.

Monday, August 15, 2022


ELECTION SCENE IN HIMACHAL Congress in Disarray, AAP Day-Dreaming RULING BJP SITTING PRETTY By Amba Charan Vashishth Till the 1972 assembly elections, it was only the Congress party which was repeatedly voted into power in Himachal Pradesh. Till that time if a person was able to get Congress party nomination, he/she was destined to win the next 3-4 elections. It was for the first time that in 1977 the invincible Congress was dethroned and the post-emergency newly formed Janata Party swept the State scoring 53 seats in the 68-member assembly. Congress strength was reduced to just 9. Earlier, in March 1977 elections to Parliament Congress Party lost in all the four seats to Janta Party. In the 1982 assembly elections, Congress fell short of the majority but was still able to form a government with the help of defectors and independents. After that, an electoral game of see-saw came into play. It has become a tradition in Himachal’s elections that if Congress is ruling this time, the next term was surely reserved for the BJP and vice versa. No ruling party has, so far, been able to bounce back to power for a successive second term in a row. This situation has made the work of psephologists much easier. In other words, it means that whichever may be the ruling party and whatever good or bad it may have done during its reign, it is destined to lose the next election. This also implies that in the State anti-incumbency rules the roost and nothing else matters. The electorate votes for the defeat of the incumbent ruling party which results in the opposition getting a chance to form the next government. If the incumbent ruling party, come what may, has to lose power, why should it work at all to serve the people who, it knows fully well, will dethrone it in the next election? It also means that the electorate doesn’t weigh and evaluate the performance of the ruling party government and of the individual MLAs/ministers. This situation, in a way, is not conducive to the evolution of a healthy democracy. The hunch of a sure defeat in the next election also generates a feeling of insecurity in the mind of the elected people. This inspires them to go by the well-known saying: Make hay while the sun shines. Many do follow this dictum. Following this example has also a political and electoral advantage. If the next government lays its hands on the wrongs committed by its predecessor, it provides them an opportunity to raise a hue and cry of “political vendetta”, an attempt at character assassination with false charges. Such acts by the ruling party also stand in good stead to the individual in the next election. A win in the election is interpreted as an honourable acquittal of the charges by the highest court of the people. The electoral scenario in Himachal Pradesh continues to be foggy at this time. The polling in the state is most likely to be conducted in the last week of October or the first week of November before the three tribal constituencies of Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Pangi-Bharmaur get covered with a thick blanket of snow. With elections just about 3 months away, the main opposition party, the Congress, is in disarray, because of deaths in recent months of three of its stalwarts and contenders for chief ministership. On the top is the passing away of six-time chief minister Shri Virbhadra Singh who had proved to be the unchallenged leader of the State in Congress Party since 1983. The party has yet to come out of a vacuum of leadership left by his death. In an effort to cash in the sympathy for the Congress generated by Virbhadra’s death, the party high command has nominated his widow and two-time MP Mrs. Pratibha Singh as the Himachal Congress President. Their son, Vikramaditya Singh MLA, 33, is too young to slip into his father’s shoes. The other veteran Congress leader worth reckoning is Mrs. Vidya Stokes, 94, belying her age, is blessed with a good health. She is a former minister and a former speaker of Vidhan Sabha. Though she had a good rapport with Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, yet Shri Virbhadra Singh proved a great stumbler in their plans to make her CM. Another loss to the Congress has been the demise of a veteran Congress leader and a former Union minister Pandit Sukh Ram who commanded a great following in Mandi and Kullu districts. The untimely death of former Minister Shri G. S. Bali about six months back is another setback to the party, in particular to the lower regions of the State, like Kangra, Hamirpur, Kullu, Una, Bilaspur etc. where he could command a good support. He also had a fair amount of clout in the central leadership of Congress too. Had he been alive he would have emerged as a great challenger for leadership of the Congress for the Vidhan Sabha elections. In these circumstances, projecting a chief ministerial candidate of the Congress party for the coming state assembly elections is not going to be an easy task. There was no love lost between Pandit Sukh Ram and Raja Virbhadra Singh, both Congress stalwarts since the Raja returned to state politics in 1983 and became the chief minister. In 1993, former Prime Minister PV Narashimha Rao made Sukh Ram minister of state (independent charge) for Communications. During this period, he worked so much in this field for the country, notably for Himachal, that he became invincible in elections in Mandi and Kullu districts. In 1997, Pandit Sukh Ram fell out with Virbhadra Singh and floated his own political party Himachal Vikas Congress. In 1998, his party contested the Himachal assembly elections as a third force and became the instrument of Congress defeat. His party held the balance of power winning 5 seats. Although late Virbhadra Singh managed to take oath as CM, yet he had to resign before proving his majority in the house. BJP under the leadership of Shri Prem Kumar Dhumal formed a government in alliance with Pandikt Sukh Ram’s party. Later, Pandit Sukh Ram again went back to the Congress fold. Himachal Pradesh has a very different electoral history. No political party, other than Congress and BJP, has been able to find its feet in this state. In the 2012 elections, the Trinamul Congress (TMC) of Ms Mamta Bannerjee did try to make a big thrust in this hilly state. She failed bitterly; all of her nominees lost their security deposits even. The same was the fate of the late Ram Vilas’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Ms Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Because of multi-party contests — Congress, Congress rebel, BJP and BJP rebel, and independents — one person won the Kangra seat as a BSP candidate and one of LJP from Nahan. But soon both joined the ruling BJP obliterating their existence in the State. Because of BJP helping Janta Dal (JD) in its government headed by late VP Singh at the Centre, BJP and JD entered into an electoral alliance to contest elections to the 68-member state assembly in 1990. As a result, BJP won 46 seats, JD 11, and the then ruling Congress just 9 seats. Having won Panjab, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal is toying with the idea to spread the party’s wings in the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh too. But Himachal is not Panjab. During the last five years, it has failed to bring up a formidable party structure in the state. It has swung into action only recently. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal tried to present a good show with AAP Punjab CM Bhagwant Singh Mann in their rally at Mandi. But it proved to be a damp squib. No sooner had the CM duo left Himachal for their states, most of its senior office-holders left the AAP and joined BJP. An embarrassed Kejriwal dissolved its Himachal State unit. The party’s hope lies only in those who are denied tickets by Congress or BJP. It will be too willing to embrace them as its candidates. These tactics are hardly likely to prop it up into a party with an absolute majority, as is it dreaming. Its oft-repeated freebies of power and water and promise of doles to women and unemployed youth are hardly likely to cut much ice in the state. These failed to shower good luck to it in the recent Uttarakhand, Goa, and UP elections. AAP nominees are also not likely to cut much ice. Whatever votes they get are not likely to harm BJP in a significant manner. On the contrary, it may end up harming only the Congress because it will result only in dividing the anti-BJP vote which, otherwise, was to go to Congress alone. As the situation stands today, the BJP government does not look to have generated an anti-incumbency vote as much as to cost it power. Yet, it has to tread very cautiously. With not much chance, both Congress and AAP may compete in offering many freebies and other promises which may be as easy to make but as difficult to implement. BJP has already declared that it will go to the polls with Jai Ram Thakur as its chief ministerial candidate. To take on the Congress and BJP, AAP has, so far, not been able to have a political biggie of weightier stature who could take on the incumbent BJP CM Thakur or any Congress nominee as its chief ministerial candidate. For a party, like AAP, dreaming to strike big in elections just about three months away, a robust organisational unit is a must. It will not be easy for it to challenge the two well-established ruling BJP and the main opposition Congress without its own organisational unit. Planning to fight the election pinning on the hope of roping in those denied tickets by the BJP and the Congress may not work wonders to realize its dreams. Himachal may repeat the fate AAP met in Uttarakhand where it drew a blank with even its chief ministerial candidate failing to make it to the state assembly. Whatever it may be, as the situation stands today, the ruling BJP does not face much threat from any side. But that should not make it complacent. It is not a good strategy to take one’s rival as weak and humble. ***

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Now the billion-dollar question Shiv Sena Whose — Uddhav’s or Shindes’? By Amba Charan Vashishth As the curtains were raised for the enactment of a political drama by the main characters Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray and his Shiv Sena (SS) cabinet colleague Eknath Shinde, the former claimed that he had offered to step down as the CM and Shiv Sena chief. Declaring that the party has neither moved away from his father’s ideology nor has it strayed away from Hindutva, in a Facebook message he said, “If my own people don’t want me as Chief Minister, he (Shinde) should walk up to me and say so... I’m ready to resign… I am Balasaheb’s son, I am not after a post.” How ironic and hypocritic! The facts are otherwise. Uddhav tried every trick of the game to grab the CM’s post although the electorate had not given a mandate to him for this purpose. The Shiv Sena (SS) in a pre-election alliance with BJP had collectively waged an electoral war against both the Congress and NCP. The alliance won a clear mandate to form a government, getting161 seats in a house of 288. BJP had contested 164 seats and won 105 with 36% vote share. Shiv Sena contested 126 seats winning 56 with 19% vote share. SS leader Uddhav Thackeray claimed that an agreement had been struck with BJP that if the alliance won, both will work on a 50-50 formula to share the post of CM. Therefore, he wanted himself to be the CM first. This claim was denied by the then BJP President Amit Shah. The SS supremo was so obsessed with the thought of being crowned as a chief minister that he broke the alliance with its oldest ally BJP and formed a post-election alliance Maha Vikas Agadhi (MVA) with Congress and NCP with himself as the chief minister. For the Congress and NCP rejected by the electorate, coming into power at the cost of the CM’s post was a daydream come true. They had everything to gain and nothing to lose. TREMORS IN SHIV SENA The first inkling of some kind of a revolt brewing within the SS ranks was the day BJP won one seat more in the Rajya Sabha than it could on its own strength in the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha. It was followed by the revolt of 16 SS MLAs shaking the very foundation of the (MVA) coalition. The trickle continued till the number swelled to 39 under the leadership of SS dissident minister Eknath Shinde. He was also successful in roping in some independent and others with the count of his supporters in Vidhan Sabha mounting to 49-50. The too-vocal SS spokesman Sanjay Raut tried to paint the revolt lightly and claimed that MVA government under SS supremo Udhav was strong and united and it would bounce back at the appropriate time. He continued to assert that many MLAs with Shinde herded in Goa/Assam were in touch with them and will vote for CM Thackeray when they are free to express their loyalty to the Sena on the floor of the house. This over-confidence proved to be its undoing as the trickle of SS MLAs towards Shinde continued till the last moment. Not a single MLA retracted his steps back to the Uddhav camp. Neither was any serious attempt made to smoothen the ruffled feathers of the rebels. The party moved the Deputy Speaker (Speaker’s post then lay vacant) to proceed in terms of anti-defection law against the 16 MLAs who were the first to raise their voice of revolt. The rebels approached the Supreme Court (SC) which restrained the Deputy Speaker from taking any action against them till July 11. (Later, the Speaker was elected and on July 11 the SC extended this bar further.) UDDHAV STUCK TO THE CHAIR CM Thackeray stuck to the chair as long as he could although he knew very well that he had lost a majority in the house. He did resign but not till he was left with no other option. His last hope of the SC staying the Governor’s direction for a confidence vote on June 30 was smashed to the ground when it decided not to interfere in the matter at that moment. On the evening of June 29, the ‘fighter-hero’ in Thackeray surrendered without even feigning to shoot a single arrow at his political foes. Uddhav went down without a fight, unsung with no tears shed, not even crocodile ones. This saved him from the ignominy of a sure defeat in a floor test. When Eknath Shinde revolted, in a tweet Uddhav said, “I became Chief Minister unexpectedly. When this responsibility came to me, if I had run away from it, I would have been called Balasaheb Thackeray's 'nalayak' son”. But the facts are otherwise. It is on record that he ditched the BJP with whom his party had more than 25 years of close association — just for grabbing the office of chief minister for himself (or his first-time MLA son, Aaditya Thackeray. The number of his party MLAs was almost half the strength of the BJP. He seemed to have been smitten by the “Now, or never” syndrome. He hobnobbed with his party’s perennial political enemies Congress and NCP. Their only meeting point with the so-far untouchable SS was to grab power denied by the electorate while Uddhav Thackeray was impatient to be the chief minister at any cost. His claim that the party has not strayed away from his father’s ideology was to hoodwink the Sena men who found it hard to gloat over their party joining hands with Congress and NCP. Thackeray further boasted that if “my own people don’t want me as Chief Minister…..I am ready to resign…I am Balasaheb’s son, I am not after a post.” UDDHAV COMPROMISED As Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray had to compromise on many important issues — like Hindutva, stand on Vir Savarkar, Article 370, and so on — which were dear to both the BJP and the SS. He inducted his son, Aaditya Thackeray, as a minister in his cabinet, obviously to groom him as his successor. Eknath Shinde won his vote of confidence on the floor of the house. He had throughout been insisting that he and those supporting him continue to be the real Shiv Sena as they have not left it. 12 out of the 19 SS MPs wrote to Uddhav that the party should support the NDA candidate for President of India, Mrs. Droupadi Murmu. This made Uddhav acquiesce to extending SS support to her. When Shinde visited Thane, 66 of the 67 SS members of the Corporation expressed their loyalty to him. Shinde has filed a claim with the Election Commission that his faction is the real Shiv Sena. The EC has directed both Shinde and Uddhav to submit their claims supported by documents by August 08. But Uddhav has sought SC direction to withhold the EC steps in this direction. That shows his weakness. Now the ball is in the court of EC and SC. If Shinde succeeds, will Uddhav be able to bounce back any time? That remains a billion-dollar question. *** The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator.

Monday, July 18, 2022

अग्निपथ पर अग्नि -- बेरोज़गार युवकों को नहीं चाहिए रोज़गार?

अग्निपथ पर अग्नि बेरोज़गार युवकों को नहीं चाहिए रोज़गार? — अम्बा चरण वशिष्ठ अग्निपथ योजना पर भड़की अग्नि का औचित्य समझ नहीं आ रहा । एक ओर तो हमारे बेरोज़गार नवयुवक नौकरी के लिए बेताब है। उन्हें दर-दर की ठोकरें खानी पड़ती है । बहुतों के हाथ मायूसी ही लगती है। समय-समय पर प्रदर्शन कर वह सरकार को चेताते भी रहते हैं कि वह उनके लिए कुछ कर दिखाए। विरोधी दल भी इस विषय पर सरकार के कान खींचते रहते हैं, मानों कि जब केंद्र व राज्यों में उनकी सरकारें थीं तब देश और प्रदेशों में न बेरोज़गारी थी और न निर्धनता | उनके कार्यकाल में महंगाई नाम की कोई चीज़ थी ही नहीं । 1971 के चुनाव में तत्कालीन प्रधान मंत्री श्रीमती इंदिरा गाँधी ने देश में "गरीबी हटाओ" का नारा दिया था। इस नारे पर उन्हें केंद्र और प्रदेशों के चुनाव में भारी जीत मिली . उसके बाद 13 वर्ष तक सत्ता में रहीं पर इस दौरान ग़रीब और ग़रीब होते गए और अमीर और अमीर होते गए। कई बार ऐसे समाचार भी छपते रहते हैं कि एक चपड़ासी की नौकरी पाने केलिए एम् ए तक की डिग्री प्राप्त युवक भी इस पद को पाने के लिए मारे फिरते है। उन्हें अपनी डिग्री की परवाह नहीं। उन्हें तो बस कोई भी नौकरी मिलनी चाहिए ताकि उनको बेरोज़गारी के अभिशाप से मुक्ति मिल सके। उन्हें तो सब कुछ कबूल है जिस से कि वह अपना जीवन यापन कर सकें और अपने माता-पिता पर से अपनी बेरोज़गारी का बोझ उतार सकें चाहे कुछ समय केलिए ही हो। दूसरी ओर, सबने पिछले कुछ दिनों में अजीब घटनाएं देखी होंगी । सरकार ने एक अग्निपथ योजना की घोषणा की जिसके अनुसार बेरोज़गार युुवाओं को भारत की सेना के तीनों अंगों में चार वर्ष के लिए रोज़गार का प्रावधान किया गया है । यही नहीं, चार वर्ष के बाद सेना के तीनों अंगों में उनके लिए रोज़गार उपलब्ध करवाने के लिए आरक्षण का प्रावधान भी रखा गया है। इतना सब कुछ होने के बावजूद ये कौन से बेरोज़गार थे जिन्हें अपनी नौकरी नहीं, सड़कों पर वाहनों, रेल गाड़ियों तथा अन्य सरकारी और ग़ैर-सरकारी संपत्ति को अग्नि को समर्पित करने का काम मिल गय जिसमें उन्हें कोई पगार नहीं मिली। ये कौनसे बेरोज़गार प्राणी थे जिन्हें रोज़गार का अवसर नहीं, हुड़दंग मचाने का काम चाहिए था। इसका मतलब तो यह निकला है कि हमारे इन युवकों को अपने हाथों केलिए काम नहीं आग फैलाने केलिए साधन चाहिए। रोज़गार तो उनके लिए एक हॉबी होगी। प्रश्न तो यह भी उठता है कि क्या सरकारी व निजी संपत्ति की होली जलाकर उपद्रवियों केलिए रोज़गार उत्पन्न हो गए? ऐसे काम से उन्हें क्या मिला? मिला तो उन राजनीतिक दलों को भी कुछ नहीं जो इस विषय पर भड़की आग को हवा दे रहे हैं। तीनों सेनाओं के प्रमुखों ने तो अब साफ़ कर दिया है कि जो भी लोग भर्ती के लिए अपने प्रार्थनापत्र भेजेंगे उन्हें साथ में एक शपथपत्र भी संलग्न करना होगा कि उन्होंने इन उपद्रवी घटनाओं में किसी प्रकार से भी भाग नहीं लिया था। उन युवाओं केलिए तो अब 'घर फूँक तमाशा देखने" वाली स्तिथि बन गयी है । ऐसी अवस्था में नुक्सान किसका हुआ — न उन्हें उकसाने वाले किसी व्यक्ति का, न किसी राजनीतिक दल का और न किसी समाजविरोधी संगठन का। यदि नुक्सान में कोई रहा तो बेचारा वह युवक जिसकी भावनाओं को भड़काकर इन अनैतिक लोगों ने बेरोज़गारों के कंधे पर निशाना रख कर आग के शोले भड़का कर अपने स्वार्थ का उल्लू सीधा करने का प्रयास किया। सब से बड़ा नुक्सान तो देश का हुआ जब सरकारी और निजी संपत्ति को आग के हवाले कर दिया गया . एक और बात समझ ने नहीं आ रही है। जहाँ तक आम व्यक्ति की सोच है, यथार्थ तो यह है कि बेरोज़गार जिसको चार क्या, एक-दो मॉस केलिए भी काम मिल जाये तो वह न नहीं करता। कई बार अल्पसमय का रोज़ग़ार भी जीवन में उनके भविष्य केलिए वरदान बन जाता है। यही नही, बेरोज़गार रहने के स्थान पर कुछ समय केलिए रोज़गार किसको कड़वा लगता है ? कहते हैं कि ज़बरदस्ती किसी के मुंह में डाला मीठा पताशा किसीको कैसे कड़वा लग सकता है ? यदि यह अग्निपथ योजना किसी को नहीं भाति तो यह योजना किसी पर ज़बरदस्ती तो थोपी जा नहीं रही है . किसी को अच्छी नहीं लगती तो वह इसमें भर्ती न हो . हिंसक विरोध प्रदर्शन की क्या आवश्यकता है? जो कुछ आगज़नी के मामले सामने आये, उसके सूत्रधार बेरोज़गार नहीं, उनको भड़काने वाले लोग हैं जो बेरोज़गारों की हथेलियों पर अपनी राजनीतिक व चुनावी रोटियां सेक रहे हैं । अग्निपथ पर उठा विवाद सरकार और बेरोज़गार युवाओं के बीच है। वह सुलझा लेंगे। इस में राजनीति कहाँ से आ टपकी ? यही नहीं, अब तो नरेश टिकैत के नेतृत्व वाले किसान संगठन भी अग्निपथ योजना के विरुद्ध खड़े हो गए हैं। क्यूँ, कैसे ? यह स्पष्ट करना मुश्किल है। उन्हें तो सरकार का विरोध करना है . और जो कुछ भी हो, एक ही बात सच्च है। विरोधी दलों का स्टैंड बड़ा स्वार्थी है । उन्हें तो सत्ताधारी सरकार के हर अच्छे और बुरे काम की भर्त्स्ना ही करनी है। सरकार के किसी कार्यक्रम और योजना पर सकारात्मक टिप्पणी करना उनके राजनितिक धर्म के अनुसार एक घोर पाप है। वह ऐसा कर किसी का भला नहीं कर रहे — न अपना, न बेरोज़गारों का और न ही देश का। और जो कुछ भी हो, सच्ची बात तो एक ही है। विरोधी दलों का स्टैंड बड़ा स्वार्थी है । उन्हें तो सत्ताधारी सरकार के हर अच्छे और बुरे काम की भर्त्स्ना ही करनी है। सरकार के किसी कार्यक्रम और योजना पर सकारात्मक टिप्पणी करना उनके राजनितिक धर्म के अनुसार एक घोर पाप है। वह ऐसा कर किसी का भी भला नहीं कर रहे — न अपना, न बेरोज़गारों का और न ही देश का। जो ठन्डे मस्तिष्क से विचार करेंगे उन्हें अग्निपथ योजना में थोड़ा-बहुत भला ही दिखेगा, किसी का बुरा बिलकुल नहीं। ***

Saturday, July 16, 2022


POLITICIANS’ DIVINE RIGHT TO CRIME AND IMMUNITY TO PUNISHMENT By Amba Charan Vashishth Intro From the hue and cry raised by political leaders over the raids by the Income Tax (IT) Department, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), National Investigation Agency (NIA), and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), it looks, they and their near and dear ones have come to acquire a kind of ‘divine’ right to commit a crime and ‘constitutional’ immunity to punishment from the law of the land. By nature, they dismiss the allegations against them as ‘false, fabricated and unsubstantiated, aimed at character assassination, political vendetta aimed at tarnishing the image of individual leaders and their political organisations’. The current political scene in the country is passing through a very strange phase of churning. The moment government agencies — the State police or the central agencies, like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), and National Investigation Agency (NIA), come into action against a political person in the opposition for the crime allegedly suspected/alleged to have committed a crime, the parties instantly come out with the same age-old, oft-repeated, stale and stock phrases to declare the action as “vindictive, politically motivated”, aimed at “character assassination”, ‘totally false’”, “unsubstantiated” and what not? With the speed of the light and sound, they come out giving their party functionaries a verdict of ‘innocence and not guilty’. With the same speed, they declare their opponents in power ‘guilty’ of the crimes alleged against them. POLITICS, THEIR SAVIOUR There are numerous instances of political leaders trooping out to defend the crime of a leader and relative of their party leader. How can they say so, remains a mystery? A political party has nothing to do with the business or other dealings of the kins of their leaders and, consequently, no locus standi to say anything of what right or wrong they have allegedly committed. In other words, the business of the party leaders or their relations is not the business of the party and vice versa. DO THEY SHARE BED? Some time back a woman came out against a chief minister alleging that he had sexually assaulted her. She gave the date and the time when this crime was committed. She even mentioned the registration number of the vehicle in which the CM had brought her to his house. Strangely, it was not the chief minister but his ministers who came out with a statement declaring that the allegations were false and malicious. At this, a person quipped: How do they know that the allegations are false? Do they share the bed with him every day? MAHARASHTRA MINISTERS IN DOCK The present Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Government was very kind to bring Sachin Waze back to police service 17 years after he had been dismissed. Soon a controversy loudly blasted in police and political circles over the conduct. of this blue-eyed Mumbai Police officer. Everything was going on smoothly till an unknown vehicle with explosives was found in February 2021 near the house of well-known industrialist Mukesh Ambani Later, Mumbai Commissioner of Police Parambir Singh made very serious allegations of corruption against NCP leader and the then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. The opposition demanded Deshmukh’s resignation. The NCP supremo, Shri Sharad Pawar was quick to act as the investigating officer, the prosecutor, and the judge — all in one — to declare that the charges against Deshmukh were “false”. He reiterated that they will back the minister and not seek his resignation over the allegations. CHARGES ALWAYS ‘FALSE’ The ‘good character’ certificate issued by Shri Pawar to Shri Anil Deshmukh did not stand in good stead with the CBI, to whom the investigation was later transferred by the Bombay High Court. Deshmukh had ultimately to resign. He is now rubbing his heels in jail for the last many months under court orders. Another NCP leader and Minister in the MVA government, Shri Nawab Malik, had for the past many months been functioning as the government and party’s main sharpshooter hurling serious charges against persons who stood in opposition to the MVA government. Now, Nawab Malik is behind bars facing numerous charges, including money laundering, under orders of the courts. But the flashpoint came when on April 28, 2022 Shri Pawar called for the repeal of the sedition law, saying that Section 124(A) of the Indian Penal Code is “misused against people who criticise the government”. DUPLICITY Whether the sedition law should be abolished or not, is a different issue. What is relevant, surprising, and, to an extent, intriguing is, it looks, Shri Sharad Pawar’s left hand doesn’t know what his right hand is doing. Only a week back the MVA government, of which NCP is a vital constituent, had slapped independent MP Mrs. Navneet Rana and her MLA husband with sedition charges on their plan to recite Hanuman Chalisa on a public road before the CM’s residence. The plan was foiled by a heavy deployment of Police force. First, reciting Hanjuman Chalisa on a public road cannot be a crime and more so, attract sedition charges. Two, the Chalisa was not recited even. Then how come, the sedition charge was slapped? UPA TOO DID Those shedding crocodile tears over IT/ CBI/NIA/NCB raids on politicians these days seem to have forgotten that it was done during UPA rule too. Just one instance. On the eve of BJP National President Shri Nitin Gadkari’s plan to file his nomination for the second term, on January 23, 2013 IT raided Purti firms linked to him. UPA’s political purpose was served when he decided not to file his nomination papers on moral grounds. Nothing happened afterward. More than a year back when a section of Congress MLAs and ministers revolted against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, he slapped sedition charges against his own Congress rebels, Later, the same were withdrawn after his political purpose had been served. The BJP President J. P. Nadda was perfectly right when he said that no culprit, not even a political one, ever confesses his crime yet, later, he is declared guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for various terms by the courts. Whether it is the former chief minister of Haryana, Om Prakash Chautala, former chief minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav, former chief minister of Tamil Nadu Ms. Jayalalitha and her friend Shashikala, and many others, they had all declared the cases against them as “false, politically motivated, an attempt at character assassination” and what not. The only saving grace is that they expressed their faith in the country’s judiciary. All of them had to face the ignominy of being sentenced to jail terms for as long as 10 years. YASEEN MALIK, THE ONLY EXCEPTION It goes to the credit of the chairman of the JKLF chief Yaseen Malik that he did have the grace to confess his guilt in the charges brought out by NIA against him. He has been awarded two sentences for life. *** The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Men of Action Bhagwant Mann and Navjot Singh Sidhu By Amba Charan Vashishth AAP and its Punjab CM nominee Bhagwant Mann seem either to be unaware of some of the healthy traditions or bent upon smashing these in the matter of installing a new CM. As per the tradition, when a political party was voted into power on its own strength, it convened a meeting of the newly-elected MLAs to elect its leader to be the CM. The person so elected accompanied by a few party MLAs called on the Governor with the claim to form a government. When a person whose party had not been blessed with an absolute majority, he was first elected leader of that party and with a copy of a number of MLAs belonging to other party/parties signing support for his/her meets the governor seeking his invitation to form a government. But AAP went forward defying the tradition. Mann was not elected the leader of the AAP legislature party but went to the governor with a letter signed by all the AAP MLAs expressing support for Bhagwant Singh Mann to form a new government. Mann has committed, deliberately or otherwise, an impropriety by ordering the police to withdraw the security from about 122 individuals, who include Panjab politicians, ex-ministers, and others. When a State Police Additional Director-General (ADGP) paid a courtesy call to Mann, the latter is reported to have directed him to do so. The ADG was over-smart and he issued directions the very next day. It needs to be kept in mind that Mann was not the CM at that time. It is still Charanjit Singh Channi who, though has resigned, as is the tradition, has been asked by the Governor to continue as acting CM till alternative arrangements are made. He will cease to be the acting CM the moment the Governor administers the oath to Mann. It is worthwhile to recall the great tradition in the USA. A new President is elected on the first Tuesday of November. The person elected continues to be President-elect till 21st January next year when an oath is administered to him. George Bush was the President of the USA completing his second term. His party’s candidate had lost the election to Bill Clinton. In the meantime, President Bush continued to pound bombs on Iraq. A press reporter went to Clinton and said you are the President-elect and Bush’s party candidate had been defeated. How can Bush continue to do that? Clinton’s response was marvelous in keeping with the tradition. He said, look, George Bush is my (and nation’s) President till January 21 and I support him for whatever he does till my oath-taking. Mann has also withdrawn the security of the incumbent Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. Perhaps Mann is not aware of the Constitutional position that a Speaker of the Assembly continues to function till a new person is elected by the new assembly. Even when the state assembly has been dissolved and it is under President’s rule, the office of the Speaker continues to function till a new person is elected after fresh elections. That can be because of a lack of knowledge and experience. SIDHU, TO WHERE? There is one and the only Sidhu in the country, maybe in the world even: Navjot Singh Sidhu. Don’t confuse him with his wife whose name is also Navjot Kaur Sidhu. They make a lovely couple, made for each other. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Amritsar (Panjab) as a BJP nominee in 2004 and again in 2009. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from where he resigned shortly afterward. Later, he joined the Congress and was elected as MLA from Amritsar in 2017. He was made a cabinet minister in Capt, Amrinder Singh’s ministry. He fell out with the CM and resigned. He secured a meteoric rise in Congress and became the State Congress President in less than five years in the party. But his eyes were always at the post of CM. When Imran Khan won elections in Pakistan he invited many Indian cricketers, including Sidhu for his oath ceremony as Pak PM. It was only Sidhu who took part in the ceremony. Besides hurling praises on PM Imran, he also hugged Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa who, in India is seen as the perpetrator of proxy war against India and responsible for many killings of innocent citizens in Kashmir as also Indian soldiers and paramilitary men. Sidhu continued to take pride in his friendship with Pak PM. This cost him heavily in his image in India. Since his resigning from BJP and joining Congress Sidhu continued to stress very boldly and proudly that you will find Sidhu where there is the interest of Punjab. Sidhu lost the Amritsar seat as a Congress nominee and the Panjab Congress President to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) nominee. With the Panjab electorate having given a massive majority to AAP, they have clearly given their verdict that Panjab’s interests lie safely in the hands of AAP. What will Sidhu do now? His vociferous declarations that people will find him standing where lay the interests of Punjab, i.e. with AAP. Where will now he be found standing? ***

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Personal Right to Wear Hijab Can’t be Gate-crashed into Public Institutions

Personal Right to Wear Hijab Can’t be Gate-crashed into Public Institutions By Amba Charan Vashishth Joining issue with the controversy raised about the right of women to wear Hijab in schools and colleges, Gandhi family scion and Congress General Secretary Mrs. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted: “Whether it is a bikini, a ghoonghat (veil), a pair of jeans or a hijab, it is a woman’s right to decide what she wants to wear. This right is GUARANTEED by the Indian constitution. Stop harassing women”. Her comment implies that, if they wish and like, women can go to a school or college in a swimsuit, a burqa, or any other dress they wish to. We also speak of gender equality in every sphere of life. As a corollary to this rightful opinion, it means that liberal leaders, like her, would also respect a man’s “right to decide what” he “wants to wear” as this “right is guaranteed by the Indian constitution”. Tinkering with this right would not only amount to “harassing” men but also be an act of discrimination against them and a flagrant violation of the provisions of the constitution. Thus, the school and college boys have the freedom to go to their alma mater wearing just a langot, underwear, a pair of bunyan, nicker, and even a half-pant. If this freedom of both the sexes was respected, the present turmoil in the student community would evaporate altogether, instantly. It will add up to parity and generate a greater sense of amity and camaraderie between both the sexes More, why should this freedom be restricted to school and college students only? This should also extend to the right of men and women working in other vocations and avocations, like the courts, lawyers, doctors, staff working in health services, drivers and conductors, police, security forces, hotel staff, airlines, and the like. How can the right guaranteed by the constitution to decide what one wants to wear be denied to other sections of Indian citizens? Some people are citing the instance of the Sikhs who are allowed to wear turbans everywhere. It needs to be understood that the turban (pagdi} worn by the Sikh community as per the religious edicts is not its exclusive headgear; it is worn by choice by almost every section of society. It is proudly put on by a bridegroom and his relatives on the occasion of a marriage ceremony in most of the castes and communities in almost every part of the country. But the burqa and hijab have just a communal tinge as these are donned by Muslim women only. The current controversy was initially generated by Muslim students of various schools and colleges in Karnataka, asserting their right to come to school in hijab defying the dress code prescribed by their educational institutions definitely strikes a communal chord, particularly in view of the ongoing assembly elections in five states of the country. These students had been putting on the school and college dress decided by these institutions. Why has the insistence of Muslim women to don it surfaced at this time? This virus has now spread to other states too. When a student seeks and gets admission, he/she agrees to abide by the dress code and other disciplines prescribed by the institution. If any restriction is not acceptable to the student or the family, they are free to try their luck elsewhere where the conditions are conducive to their liking. No student and his family have a right to impose their caste or community edicts on any institution. Every school has its own morning prayer. Will that institute have to change it only because a minuscule minority of students objects to it and wants a prayer it wishes to sing? The country has many educational institutions run by various religious bodies — public schools by Christian organisations, Sanatan Dharma Sabhas, Arya Samaj, Muslim, social establishments, and others. All these educational establishments are open to admission to one and all irrespective of their caste and creed. The same is true of the schools and colleges run by state governments. Every institute has its own dress code. This provides their students with a distinct identity of its own. It also eliminates any caste, creed, social and economic disparities among the students that do become prominent in the absence of a dress regulation. It would be a heterogeneously awkward scene in a class of a school or college where every student — boy or girl — is there in a dress of his/her own individual choice. The situation is analogous to a person getting his child admitted to a public school with English as the medium of instruction but insisting his ward’s constitutional right to be taught in a language of his choice — Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, or any other language of the country. Or a devout Hindu visiting the Vatican City wishing to conduct his puja and perform a havan in a church demanding protection of his human and minority rights. It needs to be understood that the personal law may be the ultimate for the followers and faithfuls within the four walls of the person or the contours of the society but it remains and remains personal to them. It cannot be imposed on others and the public institutions which are open for all. Outside one’s family and society, it is the Constitution that is supreme and the superior law of all, no questions raised and asked. The present squabble makes one wonder whether the students go to their school or college to learn or to promote attires signifying their religious identity of differences. It also looks that at the time of taking admission the students and the parents were not careful enough to see that the institution caters to their religious, linguistic and regional susceptibilities. Instead of creating scenes now, the best course for them remains to leave the institution that does not conform to their tastes and requirements and join the one that does. This will eliminate the type of turmoil that is now being raised with political and electoral objectives in view. Further, we have to respect what the Hon'ble High Court ultimately directs on the issue. ***