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. ***

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Will the Election Commission of India take notice? 1. The Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal in Panjab promised that if his party will be voted into power, it will transfer ₹1000 per month to the accounts of every woman, ₹5000 to the account of every unemployed. 2. Further he promised 300 units of power free to every household. 3. Akali Dal went ahead’ it promised ₹2000 every month. 4. In some States other freebies like the remission of agricultural loans etc. 5. Many other political parties followed and even went further ahead with more enticing offers. It must be noted that promising a welfare programme is much different than promising monetary gains to individuals. A welfare programme benefits collectively all people. But the above programmes are individual-centric. It amounts to bribing the voter. One offers a bribe to a person if the latter gets his work done. Therefore, it is an open offer of bribe to the voter. It is a case of openly bribing the individual voter. What a shame that political parties are putting our women voters on a bid, the highest bidder getting their votes. Therefore, it not only amounts to a criminal offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Representation of People’s Act. The Election Commission will certainly take cognizance of this criminal act committed during the elections. ***

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Narendra Modi is not an individual He occupies an Institution of the Constitution

Narendra Modi is not an individual He occupies an Institution of the Constitution His Security is Paramount By Amba Charan Vashishth There was something lacking in PM Narendra Modi’s security during his visit to Bhatinda in Panjab on January 05. It was the first of its kind incident that happened in India during the last 74 years of independence. Politics jumped in. The Congress government in the state tried to wash its hands of its responsibility for the lapse but others held it answerable for the PM having to get stuck on a flyover on the road for about 20 minutes. The Supreme Court of India took a serious note of this failure and constituted a 5-member committee headed by a retired SC judge to fix responsibility for what happened and suggest steps that such incidents do not occur in the future. In the first instance, it needs to be understood that Shri Narender Modi — and for that matter, every person in the past — was/is not an individual but an institution, the institution of the Constitution as Prime Minister of India. He may have come to occupy this exalted office by virtue of his party, Bhartiya Janata Party having won the people’s mandate in the election, yet he is the prime minister for one and all in the country. That is why his security is paramount for the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cavalcade was held up for about 20 minutes on a flyover on the road leading to Hussainiwala on that day. It was a situation the country had not witnessed since India won her independence in August 1947. As per the visuals shown on the electronic news channels, it was only the SGP that could be seen standing alert with weapons surrounding the car in which PM was sitting. The Panjab police was nowhere to be seen. There are reports that the Panjab Policemen there did not cordon off the PM's entourage. They were busy taking tea at that time as if no VVIP was to pass that way. The kissan agitators were just about 10 meters away from the PM's cavalcade. The belligerent border with Pakistan was just about 20 Kms. from that place. That made the PM's halt there all the more vulnerable to mischief from across the border. Further, PM's hold-up there made him all the more an easy target from below the flyover, Since the weather at Bhathinda was inhospitable, an alternative stand-by route by road should already have been kept in full readiness, as is the practice and requirement. The leader of the protesting farmers made a disclosure to the media persons that it was the Police officers who told them that PM is traveling by this road. On January 04, it was announced that the farmers' unions had agreed not to block the road following an agreement having been reached with the Panjab government. Panjab CM also said that the agreement was the result of a marathon meeting which went on till 03 AM (05 January). But the leader of farmers at that place denied that they had any negotiations with the CM. It is an essential routine that a police vehicle passes through the route of the PM about 5-7 minutes ahead to ensure that everything is in order for a peaceful passage. On seeing the crowd, the police officers should have made the PM entourage halt much earlier and diverted him by another route to avoid the agitators. Panjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi stated that he could not go to receive the PM because he had got infected with Covid-19. If he was, how could he have engaged himself for a marathon negotiation with agitating farmers till 3 AM, as he claimed? Further, there were reports in the electronic news channels two days earlier that Punjab CM would not be present to receive the PM at Bhathinda. The protocol makes it mandatory that the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police of the state concerned should be present when a PM visits their state. It remains a mystery why these two topmost officers were absent. Panjab government and the ruling party seem to be confused and inconsistent. On the one hand, Panjab CM washed his hands saying there was no lapse on the part of his government and, on the other, he suspended some police officers. After three days on January 08, Panjab government also registered a criminal case against about two hundred people. It was a good gesture on the part of Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to immediately speak to the CM after the incident and to direct that the lapse should be investigated and the guilty punished. Some senior Congress leaders have also come out in support of an inquiry and punishment for the guilty. On January 08 Panjab CM once again defended himself and the government on the issue. But the derogatory language he used against the PM has not gone well with the people of Panjab in particular and of the country, in general. His words do certainly not behove a person holding the constitutional office of the chief minister. The Supreme Court of India has now constituted a 5-committee committee headed by Justice Indu Malhotra, a retired SC judge to look into the whole matter to ascertain what went wrong and fix responsibility. The committee will also recommend measures to prevent such a happening in the future. This unfortunate occurring has its ramifications all over the world too. It will send a wrong message about the country's capability to ensure the safety and security of world leaders visiting India. The SC intervention will certainly infuse a sense of confidence among the people of India and the world that the January 05 incident was an aberration and not the rule. *** The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator.