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