Showing posts with label EC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EC. Show all posts

Thursday, April 10, 2014

POINT TO PONDER Present election re-defining secularism?

Present election re-defining secularism?

It is difficult to determine who is secular and who not. Actually, 'secularism' is a notion and conception which is self-assessed and self-proclaimed. What a political party or individual claims is something opposite that looks to their opponent.

It is no secret or surprise that even the Indian Union Muslim League and other political organizations whose membership is restricted only to Muslims proclaim themselves to 'secular'. They exhort other political parties not to do anything that divides the 'secular' vote, a synonym for Muslim vote.

When the 'secular' Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi called on Abdullah Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid a few days back, Bukhari too spoke of the need for unity of the 'secular' vote and to ensure that it is not divided.  Bukhari claims to be the leader of Muslims and, at the same time, 'secular. He later obliged Mrs. Gandhi by calling Muslims to vote for Congress.

Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party is another political organization that professes itself to be the 'secular' icon and, at the same time, the only protagonist of Muslims. That is why Mulayam Singh also attracts the epithet of 'Mian" Mulayam. One of the leading lights of this 'secular' hoard is its prominent leader Azam Khan and presently a Minister in UP's Akhilesh government.  On April 8, 2014 he declared that it was not Hindu but Muslim soldiers who should be credited for the Kargil victory against Pakistan in 1999 war.

In the last Bihar Vidhan Sabha elections another 'secular' conglomerate in the State declared that it would ally with the party which promises to make Muslim  the State's chief minister. To corner 'secular' votes the leader took an Osama bin Laden look-alike during campaigning in the hope that Indian Muslims would be humoured with this gesture of his to vote for his party.

Another self-acclaimed die-hard 'secular' is the Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav of Bihar who has been sentenced to five years of jail in the fodder scam, presently on bail. He too pretends openly that Muslims are with him.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar does not wish to lag behind in this 'secular' marathon. He derides other parties' professions on this score. There are many other 'secular' groups who openly appeal for Muslim community vote during  the ongoing elections and previous ones too.

In the present election to the 16th Lok Sabha and some State assemblies there is free for all, everybody scouting for Muslim votes in the open. This appeal is being vociferously made despite the fact that under the Representation of the People Act 1951 imploring for votes in the name of religion is a crime. Anybody doing so can not only be tried for violation of law but if such a person gets elected, his election can as well be set aside on this count.

Further, all this is going on under the prying eye of the too vigilant and alert Election Commission of India.

What does all this boil down to — appealing to the Muslim community for votes in the name of religion is an act of secularism and doing so in the name of non-Muslims an unpardonable crime of 'communalism'?                                   *** 

Also published in the May 2014 issue of SOUTH ASIA POLITICS monthly.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

'Secular' Congress subservient to Muslim fundamentalism

'Secular' Congress subservient to Muslim fundamentalism

By Amba Charan Vashishth

As the election to Parliament draws near, the tone and tenor of election speeches is getting dirtier. The speakers may find it delectable but it certainly is detestable to the common man, the voter. The contestants may lose their cool but the voter remains cool in his head.

One of the reasons for the contestants getting lousy and abusive is because of the electoral atmosphere in the country and in their own constituencies. It is also said that when a person turns bankrupt of arguments and logic, he comes to blows. That exactly looks true in the present electoral situation.
During the last UP assembly elections, the environment looked almost the same as it is present. It was the Congress leaders who were in vociferous defiance of the Election Commission (EC). And who gained? At least not those who were the most vocal.

Union Minister Salman Khurshid who was in his defiance best while campaigning for his wife could not escape the ignominy of her being pushed to the fifth position by the electorate. His equally recalcitrant colleague in Manmohan cabinet Beni Persad Verma had no better luck.

More than a decade back, the elections were marred by an orgy of violence. The EC succeeded, to a great measure, in curbing the violence during electioneering and on the polling day. But now it looks the physical violence has been overtaken by the violence of the tongue.

In the past such instances were only few and far between. But now it looks it is the order of the day and elections.  Sometimes it was slip of the tongue. But now it has now assumed the proportion of being a desperately deliberate act.
This time the situation has been uglier and more indecent than ever before, even coming within the ambit of violation of criminal and election law.
It first started with the old hand in this dubious game, the External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid calling Modi as Napunsak (impotent).  Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi deprecated it saying: “I do not appreciate this kind of comment... the kind of language.” Then came the news of Khurshid venting the ire against the EC and the Supreme Court on the foreign soil of London — a case of a minister who has taken oath to "bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution". He violates his oath and yet remains a minister under the Constitution.

In this war of attrition and abuse jumps the Congress candidate from Saharanpur (UP) parliamentary constituency, Mr. Imran Masood who was caught on camera saying: "If Modi tries to make Uttar Pradesh into Gujarat, then we will chop him into tiny pieces... I am not scared of getting killed or attacking someone. I will fight against Modi. He thinks UP is Gujarat. Only 4% Muslims are there in Gujarat while there are 42% Muslims in UP."  

Later, he refused to tender an apology. A case was registered against him and he was remanded to 14 days' judicial custody. After two days he was granted bail.
Although the Congress said it did not approve such language yet the next day it jumped into his defence saying that the CD was one year old when Masood was in Samajwadi Party (SP). But the media which recorded the speech says it was very much recent while campaigning in his constituency. Let us take for a moment that the speech was made a year back when Masood was in SP. Does that absolve him of the crime he committed? And does his crime in SP turn into an act of piety because he has now joined Congress?

It is interesting to contrast the stand of the Congress and other parties as also the EC on the so-called "hate speech" Mr. Varun Gandhi is alleged to have given. (He has since been acquitted of the charge.) Note that on the day he spoke, the EC had not announced the election schedule for 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the Model Code of Conduct (MCoC) had not yet come into force. Mr. Gandhi had to remain in jail for two-three months. Further, EC immediately took cognizance of the speech and two days before the announcement of the schedule, advised — an unusual and unprecedented action — the BJP not to put up Mr. Varun as its candidate from Pilibhit. BJP did not accede because EC was overstepping its steps. But, surprisingly, this time EC remains unmoved by the Mr. Masood's crime.
Further, the political parties, including Congress, which wanted Mr. Varun Gandhi to be deprived of his right to contest the election for that "hate speech" are silent. Congress, so far, has not been able to dare to withdraw Mr. Masood's candidature obviously for fear of losing Muslim community votes. That lays utterly bare the precept and practice of 'secularism' by Congress. Congress need to explain whether Mr. Masood's speech smacked of secularism?

Again, Mr. Nahid Hasan SP candidate from Kairana was on March 30 quoted as telling SP workers: “Mayawati sat in the lap of Modi thrice, both are unmarried.”  The police registered a case against him.

The condemnation of such ugly voices by political parties is just a ploy. Had they honestly been against and condemned their act, they would have acted swiftly and cut their umbilical chord with such ignoble sons of which they felt ashamed to be their mother. But it is like haathi ke daant khaane ke aur, dikhaane ke aur.  They wish to have the cake and eat it too. They continue to wish to thrive on the illicit earnings of electoral bounty by such acts of brave braying. But people are not fools. They are much wiser than politicians. The latter must not ignore this fact.                                                                 ***   
Published in the Weekly ORGANISER in its April 13, 2014 issue.