Thursday, July 8, 2021
For Kejriwal a bouquet of freebie of power is enough to capture the heart of Punjab voter By Amba Charan Vashishth Delhi CM and AAP supremo threw his hat in the Punjab assembly elections just about six months away with announcing a 300 units of power to every household free. Here he will understand that the same promise and slogan does not hold good in every election. He will also come to understand, to his dismay, that Panjab is not Delhi and vice versa. There is no gainsaying the fact that once a prosperous state in the country is today Panjab is a poor state inhabited by rich people. They are the people wh0 dine, dance and lead a life of janoon and joviality. And above all, they are the people who derive a great sense of pleasure in being a perfect host to their relations, friends, acquaintances and others to the best of their heart. They are the people who never wish to leave their homes and hearths on the international borders to ensure that no one can cast an evil eye on their sacred motherland. Whenever there have been wars between India and Pakistan with borders lit with enemy fire, it is these very people who politely defy government wish to move them to safer places. In the midst of volley of enemy fire they feel pleased and proud to reach with sumptuous and tasty home-made food for their soldier brethrens who have staked their life to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. Now that elections in Punjab are just about six months away, the atmosphere in the state seems to be warming up for the great battle of the ballet to decide who and which party should determine their fate for the next five years. It was in this situation that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the State in the last week of June to throw the same gauntlet in Punjab with which it came to power in Delhi — the promise of providing 300 units of electricity free to every household every month. The political and administrative elites who have the experience of watching the trend of elections in the country are aware of the fact that no party can win every election in every state with the same old, stale slogans and promises. In Punjab —and elsewhere too — a common prayer to god om jai jagdish hare is sung in numerous houses every day saying that whatever they offer to god is whatever god had bestowed on them. The same is true of what Kejriwal has promised; he or his party is not going to give anything from their pocket. Whatever the cost of implementing this promise, every single paisa has to come from the state exchequer contributed by the people of Punjab in the form of taxes. It is just perfecting mastery on the art of jugglery of facts and words. During the last assembly election campaign Kejriwal had raised a great cry over rising drug addiction, painting a scene as if every youth in the state was a drug addict. AAP and Congress were on the same wavelength on this issue. Kejriwal had held an Akali minister of being responsible for the situation and boldly declared that after the elections he would catch hold of the Akali minister by the collar and drag him to jail. But neither Congress nor the main opposition AAP joined hands to eradicate this malaise from the state during the last five years. Kejriwal’s freebie of providing 300 units of electricity to every household of Punjab every month will further harm the state’s economy already reeling under the impact of annual power subsidy bill. The promise is likely to further push up the burden to more than ₹15,000 crores from the existing ₹10,668 crores (of which ₹6,735 crore is in free electricity for farmers) as all consumers will stand to benefit from this largesse. Kejriwal went further. He has asked the people not to pay their power bills, promising that all the pending arrears of electric consumption will be waived off. This is an instigation to power consumers not to pay their current bills and wait for the AAP government to take over. This will further derail the power budget of the state. But what if people do not usher in an AAP government in Punjab? It is a pity that once a prosperous state, Panjab has fallen into bad days because the successive governments played ducks and drakes with finances of the state. Terrorism in the state for about a decade had also depleted state’s revenues and adversely affected state’s industries. State’s per capita income is ₹1,15,882 as against the national income of ₹41,16,067. Its per capita expenditure stands at ₹869 while the national average is ₹3,509. In social sector expenditure the state lags behind the national average of ₹8,981 with its figure being just ₹6,981. In per capita farm household indebtedness, according to 2009-10 budget, Panjab with ₹41,576 stands at the top while the all-India average is ₹12,585. In the decade since then it must have risen further. In view of the hard facts, if AAP was voted to power it will need to strike a miracle to live up to its promise. It could either do it by burdening the people with more taxes or abandoning certain developmental projects. People will, thus, gain here at the cost of what they will lose elsewhere. In Delhi it has survived by charging the Modi government at the Centre of starving it of funds which it cannot do in Punjab. Sooner or later, Kejriwal will come to realize that Punjab is not Delhi and vice versa. *** The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator.
Sunday, June 27, 2021
अद्भुत आदर्श राम और रामायण के रामायण एक अति उत्तम पावन ग्रन्थ है | यह भारत की संस्कृति और मान्यताओं का प्रतिबिम्ब प्रस्तुत करता है | यह ग्रन्थ रामायण काल में परिवार, माता-पिता, भाई-भाई, भाई-बहन, पति-पत्नी, मित्रता, राजा और प्रजा के बीच परस्पर संबंधों का एक आदर्श प्रस्तुत करता है | यही कारण है कि जो व्यक्ति जितनी बार भी रामायण पढता है उसके मन में इसे और बार भी पढने, सुनने और सुनाने की प्रबल इच्छा जागृत हो जाती है | इस महान ग्रन्थ में से एक प्रसंग निकाल कर एक मित्र ने भेजा है | मेरे विचार में इसे जितने और भी महानुभाव पढेंगे उतना ही और आनंद आएगा और जनमानस का भला होगा| इससे सबको और भी शिक्षा और प्रेरणा प्राप्त होगी| हाँ, इतना अवश्य है कि जो भी इसे पढेंगे, यह प्रसंग उनके दिल को छू जाएगा और उन्हें अपनी भावनाओं और आंसुओं पर अवश्य संयम बरतना होगा| रामायण का यह एक छोटा सा वृतांत आपके लिए प्रस्तुत है| एक रात की बात हैं| माता कौशल्याजी को सोते हुए अपने महल की छत पर किसी के चलने की आहट सुनाई दी। नींद खुल गई, पूछा कौन हैं ? मालूम पड़ा कि श्रुतकीर्ति जी (सबसे छोटी बहु, शत्रुघ्न जी की पत्नी) हैं। माता कौशल्याजी ने उन्हें नीचे बुलाया| श्रुतकीर्तिजी आईं, चरणों में प्रणाम कर खड़ी रह गईं | माता कौशिल्याजी ने पूछा, श्रुति ! इतनी रात को अकेली छत पर क्या कर रही हो, बेटी? क्या नींद नहीं आ रही ? शत्रुघ्न कहाँ है ? श्रुतिकीर्ति की आँखें भर आईं, माँ की छाती से चिपटी, गोद में सिमट गईं| बोलीं, माँ उन्हें देखे हुए तो तेरह वर्ष हो गए हैं । उफ ! कौशल्याजी का ह्रदय काँप कर छटपटा गया । तुरंत आवाज लगाई, सेवक दौड़े आए । आधी रात ही पालकी तैयार हुई| आज शत्रुघ्नजी की खोज होगी, माँ चली । पूछा, आपको मालूम है कि शत्रुघ्नजी कहाँ मिलेंगे ? अयोध्याजी के जिस दरवाजे के बाहर भरतजी नंदिग्राम में तपस्वी होकर रहते हैं, उसी दरवाजे के भीतर एक पत्थर की शिला हैं, उसी शिला पर, अपनी बाँह का तकिया बनाकर लौटे मिले शत्रुघ्नजी !! माँ सिराहने बैठ गईं | बालों में हाथ फिराया तो शत्रुघ्नजी ने आँखें खोलीं, उठे, चरणों में गिरे | बोले, माँ ! आपने क्यों कष्ट किया ? मुझे बुलवा लिया होता । माँ ने पूछा , शत्रुघ्न ! यहाँ क्यों ?" शत्रुघ्नजी की रुलाई फूट पड़ी, बोले- माँ ! भैया रामजी पिताजी की आज्ञा से वन चले गए| भैया लक्ष्मणजी उनके पीछे चले गए, भैया भरतजी भी नंदिग्राम में हैं| क्या ये महल, ये रथ, ये राजसी वस्त्र, विधाता ने मेरे लिए ही बनाए हैं ? माता कौशल्याजी निरुत्तर रह गईं । देखो क्या है ये रामकथा...यह भोग की नहीं....त्याग की कथा हैं..!! यहाँ त्याग की ही प्रतियोगिता चल रही हैं और सभी प्रथम हैं, कोई पीछे नहीं रहा... चारो भाइयों का प्रेम और त्याग एक दूसरे के प्रति अद्भुत-अभिनव और अलौकिक हैं । "रामायण" जीवन जीने की सबसे उत्तम शिक्षा देती हैं । भगवान राम को 14 वर्ष का वनवास हुआ तो उनकी पत्नी सीता माईया ने भी सहर्ष वनवास स्वीकार कर लिया..!! बचपन से ही बड़े भाई की सेवा मे रहने वाले लक्ष्मणजी कैसे रामजी से दूर हो जाते? माता सुमित्रा से तो उन्होंने आज्ञा ले ली थी, वन जाने की | परन्तु जब पत्नी उर्मिला के कक्ष की ओर बढ़ रहे थे तो सोच रहे थे कि माँ ने तो आज्ञा दे दी, पर उर्मिला को कैसे समझाऊंगा.?? क्या बोलूँगा उनसे.? यहीं सोच विचार करके लक्ष्मणजी जैसे ही अपने कक्ष में पहुंचे तो देखा कि उर्मिलाजी आरती का थाल लेकर खड़ी थीं और बोलीं- "आप मेरी चिंता छोड़ प्रभु श्रीराम की सेवा में वन को जाओ...मैं आपको नहीं रोकूँगीं। मेरे कारण आपकी सेवा में कोई बाधा न आये, इसलिये साथ जाने की जिद्द भी नहीं करूंगी।" लक्ष्मणजी को कहने में संकोच हो रहा था.!! परन्तु उनके कुछ कहने से पहले ही उर्मिलाजी ने उनको संकोच से बाहर निकाल दिया..!! वास्तव में यहीं पत्नी का धर्म है..पति संकोच में पड़े, उससे पहले ही पत्नी उसके मन की बात जानकर उसे संकोच से बाहर कर दे.!! लक्षमणजी चले गये परन्तु 14 वर्ष तक उर्मिला ने एक तपस्विनी की भांति कठोर तप किया.!! वन में प्रभु श्रीराम व माता सीता की सेवा में लक्ष्मणजी कभी सोये नहीं , परन्तु उर्मिला ने भी अपने महलों के द्वार कभी बंद नहीं किये और सारी रात जाग-जागकर उस दीपक की लौ को बुझने नहीं दिया.!! मेघनाथ से युद्ध करते हुए जब लक्ष्मणजी को “शक्ति” लग जाती है और हनुमानजी उनके लिये संजीवनी का पर्वत उठाकर लौट रहे थे | बीच में जब हनुमानजी अयोध्या के ऊपर से गुजर रहे थे तो भरतजी ने उन्हें राक्षस समझकर हनुमानजी पर बाण मार देते हैं और वह पृथ्वी पर गिर जाते हैं.!! तब हनुमानजी सारा वृत्तांत सुनाते हैं कि सीताजी को रावण हर ले गया, लक्ष्मणजी युद्ध में मूर्छित हो गए हैं। यह सुनते ही कौशल्याजी कहती हैं कि राम को कहना कि “लक्ष्मण” के बिना अयोध्या में पैर भी मत रखना। राम वन में ही रहे.!! इस पर लक्ष्मणजी की माता सुमित्रा कहती हैं कि राम से कहना कि कोई बात नहीं..अभी शत्रुघ्न है.!! मैं उसे भेज दूंगी..मेरे दोनों पुत्र “राम सेवा” के लिये ही तो जन्मे हैं.!! माताओं का प्रेम देखकर हनुमानजी की आँखों से अश्रुधारा बहने लगी । परन्तु जब उन्होंने उर्मिलाजी को देखा तो सोचने लगे कि यह क्यों एकदम शांत और प्रसन्न खड़ी हैं? क्या इन्हें अपनी पति के प्राणों की कोई चिंता नहीं है ? हनुमान जी पूछते हैं -- देवी! आपकी प्रसन्नता का कारण क्या है? आपके पति के प्राण संकट में हैं...सूर्य उदित होते ही सूर्य कुल का दीपक बुझ जायेगा। उर्मिलाजी का उत्तर सुनकर तीनों लोकों का कोई भी प्राणी उनकी वंदना किये बिना नहीं रह पाएगा.!! उर्मिलाजी बोलीं- "मेरा दीपक संकट में नहीं है, वह बुझ ही नहीं सकता.!! रही सूर्योदय की बात तो आप चाहें तो कछ दिन अयोध्या में विश्राम कर लीजिये, क्योंकि आपके वहां पहुंचने से पूर्व सूर्य उदित हो ही नहीं सकता.!! आपने कहा कि प्रभु श्रीराम मेरे पति को अपनी गोद में लेकर बैठे हैं..! जो “योगेश्वर प्रभु श्रीराम” की गोदी में लेटा हो, उसे काल भी छू नहीं सकता..!! यह तो वह दोनों लीला कर रहे हैं | मेरे पति जब से वन गये हैं, तबसे सोये नहीं हैं..उन्होंने न सोने का प्रण लिया था..इसलिए वे थोड़ी देर विश्राम कर रहे हैं..और जब भगवान् की गोद मिल गयी तो थोड़ा विश्राम ज्यादा हो गया...वे उठ जायेंगे..!! और “शक्ति” मेरे पति को नही प्रभु श्री रामजी को लगी है.!! मेरे पति की हर श्वास में राम हैं, हर धड़कन में राम, उनके रोम-रोम में राम हैं, उनके खून की बूंद बूंद में राम हैं और जब उनके शरीर और आत्मा में सिर्फ राम ही हैं, तो शक्ति रामजी को ही लगी, दर्द रामजी को ही हो रहा है.!! इसलिये हनुमानजी आप निश्चिन्त होकर जाएँ..सूर्य आपके वहां पहुँचने से पहले उदित ही नहीं होगा।" राम राज्य की नींव जनकजी की बेटियां ने ही की थीं... कभी “सीता” तो कभी “उर्मिला”..!! भगवान् राम ने तो केवल राम राज्य का कलश स्थापित किया .. वास्तव में राम राज्य की संरचना ही इन सबके प्रेम, त्याग, समर्पण और बलिदान से ही हो पाई थी .!! जिस मनुष्य में प्रेम, त्याग, समर्पण की भावना हो उस मनुष्य में राम ही बसते है... कभी समय मिले तो अपने वेद, पुराण, गीता, रामायण को पढ़ने और समझने का प्रयास कीजिएगा | जीवन को एक अलग नज़रिए से देखने और जीने का सुअवसर मिलेगा .!! "लक्ष्मण सा भाई हो, कौशल्या माई हो, स्वामी तुम जैसा, मेरा रघुराइ हो.. नगरी हो अयोध्या सी, रघुकुल सा घराना हो, चरण हो राघव के, जहाँ मेरा ठिकाना हो.. हो त्याग भरत जैसा, सीता सी नारी हो, लव कुश के जैसी, संतान हमारी हो.. श्रद्धा हो श्रवण जैसी, सबरी सी भक्ति हो, हनुमत के जैसी निष्ठा और शक्ति हो... " ये रामायण है, पुण्य कथा श्री राम की। ***
Thursday, June 10, 2021
After six months of blocking roads to Delhi Farmer Agitation On Road to Nowhere By Amba Charan Vashishth Since the end of 2019 a new phenomenon of agitations has emerged to demand outright rejection of laws passed by the Parliament. A few hundred people in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh laid seize of roads leading to Delhi demanding scrapping of CAA and NRC acts alleging that these were intended to deprive the Muslim community of its Indian citizenship. Later, a section of farmers also rose against the three agriculture laws and sat dharna blocking the roads leading to Delhi. When challenged to name the particular sections of law which were against the Muslim community or were intended to harm the interests farming community in the three laws. The agitators failed to identify any section of law. Yet they did not relent and continued to press for outright burial of these laws not on the strength of logic and truth but to satisfy with the whims of a minor section of people. It means that no law passed by the Parliament will be a law unless ‘ratified’ by a an unruly mob of agitators harassing the people by jamming traffic at national highways. The crowd of farmers blocking national highways leading to the national capital Delhi is getting thinner and thinner day by day. Some farmer unions earlier part of the agitation have since parted company with Rakesh Tikait. Many farmers had to go back to their villages to reap the harvest they had sown. Many of them, according to media reports, felt elated when the sale money of their crop, to their surprise, was instantly transferred to their account. This had never happened before. The farmers’ agitation has been there for the past over six months with no immediate solution in sight. The leaders now seem to be looking for an honourable and safe exit. That is why on May 22, 2021 the farm leaders wrote to PM Narender Modi “to remind” him that, as the head of the government of the largest democracy in the world, “the onus of resuming a serious and sincere dialogue with the farmers lies with you.” They seem to want to end the agitation yet remain steadfast on their demand to scrap the three Acts: the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. Government has expressed its willingness to once again enter into dialogue if farm leaders with a logical proposal. The NDA Government did not stand on prestige. It immediately entered into a dialogue process with the agitation leaders mainly from Punjab, Rajasthan, and some parts of Haryana and UP to iron out the differences over provisions which, farmers’ unions claimed, pinched the farmers. During the eleven rounds of talks, farmer leaders could not put their finger on a single such a provision in these Acts. Their apprehensions about their lands being usurped by big companies were allayed. Yet, they continued with their chorus for outright scrapping of the Acts. In other words, the agitators wanted to make the democratic process bow before the whims of a mob, something not in tune with the spirit of democracy. Democracy runs with the fuel of truth and logic, not with the rod of whims. Difference of opinion is the very bane of a democracy. Unanimity is not the rule, but an exception. Differences should dissolve into acceptance once an Act appears on the statute book. MAJORITY RULE IN JUDICIARY The rule by majority pervades in the judiciary too. There are instances when judgements in High Courts (HC) and the Supreme Court (SC) are not unanimous —three or four judges for and two or one against. Verdict by majority reigns supreme as the final order of the court. The minority judgements just cater to academic interest and nothing more. No judge in minority has ever claimed the superiority of his opinion over that of the majority. The government had offered to freeze the three laws for 18 months during which time some agreement could be thrashed out. It was also ready to give in writing that the system of Minimum Support Price (MSP) would continue. It was introduced in the country in 1966-67. Since then, while the hue of the governments at the Centre and the states underwent changes many times, yet no government or political party has ever demanded doing away with it. On the other hand, MSP has only seen a rise throughout. SC ORDER In the meantime, the SC too stayed implementation of these laws for the time being. It constituted a four-member committee (one member withdrew) to hear both the government and the farmers on controversial sections of the law. Many farmer leaders from different states have appeared before this committee. The committee is to submit its report to the SC which will pronounce its judgement after that. The farmer leaders have decided not to appear before the SC appointed committee. They also remain uncommitted whether they will respect the verdict of the highest court of the country. Their silence seems to indicate that they will abide by SC judgement only if it is in conformity with their demands. At the end of the last meeting the NDA government put the ball in the court of the agitators saying the government is just a phone call away to resume the dialogue if they come out with a concrete proposal. Farm leaders even now look to be groping in the dark without any proposal to break the empasse. It is interesting to note that the new letter signed by leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha does not bear the signatures of Rakesh Tikait who had so far been the main person leading the agitation. What it signifies is anybody’s guess. Of late, a new tendency — extra-constitutional, of course — has raised its head refusing to respect the will of parliament, the embodiment of the will of the people. This attempt started with the demand for scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens Act (NRC) in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh where a few hundred local citizens blocked roads for a few weeks. In a way it looks the farmers’ agitation has taken a cue from the Shaheen Bagh tactics. The Shaheen Bagh agitation raised the bogey of the CAA and NRC having been enacted to deprive the citizenship of Indian Muslims. Similarly, farmer agitators allege that the 3 Acts were against the interests of farmers. Both were adamant to demand scrapping of the Acts. Government challenged opponents in both cases to pinpoint the sections in these laws which were against the Muslims and farmers. Both failed to accept the challenge, yet they continued to insist on removing these Acts. The Supreme Court in one of its judgements opined that though people had the right to protest yet they had no right to deny the right of free passage to the commuters. The Delhi police did well not to use force to evict the squatters. With the passage of time Shaheen Bagh agitation withered away of its own. In the beginning, the farmer’s unions vehemently affirmed that their agitation had nothing to do with politics. For some time they did keep political leaders at bay from their stage. Yet, most political parties in the opposition made a beeline to assure their full support to the farmers’ agitation. The kisan leaders also want a statutory assurance that the minimum support price (MSP) would never be done away with. Grant of MSP had its origin in 1966-67 and since then it has remained in force despite change in the hue of the governments in power at the Centre and states. The NDA Government expressed its willingness to give a commitment in writing. On June 09 NDA government has announced increase in MSP of certain kharif and paddy crops including pulses. Rakesh Tikait and other kisan leaders wanted to observe the Republic Day on January 26 by taking out a tractor parade. They assured the administration that the march with national flags fluttering on their vehicles will be the most disciplined and peaceful. But what happened was the reverse of it. A section of the protesting farmers digressed towards the Red Fort which area they had never said they planned to go. What they did at the Red Fort was a disgrace, a well-planned operation executed with precision. On the one hand, the farmer leaders disowned their role in the Red Fort shame and, on the other, the person whose tractor overturned while performing tricks and died on the spot is being eulogised as a martyr to their cause. Tikait is on record having said before the media why did the police not open fire. That is what they wanted. Firing by police would have generated sympathy and legitimacy to their cause. The role of the Delhi Police on duty at the Red Fort was praiseworthy for keeping their cool despite grave provocation. Had a single person died in police action the ‘secular-liberal’ intelligentsia and a section of media would have shouted from their housetops that innocent people have been slaughtered on Republic Day. The agitation from the very beginning sufferred from lack of inner strength of unity of thought and action. Whenever they went to have discussions with the Government of India, it was not led by a single leader or a delegation of three-four persons but by a crowd of about 40 persons. It was also an indication of absence of trust between various unions. The siege of the national capital with dharnas held a mirror to a display of an affluence of the participants. They were seen travelling in the costliest of luxury cars. The breakfast, lunch and dinner served at the agitation sites did not present the picture of the plight of the common farmer who cannot make both ends meet with his small holdings and meager returns from the produce, some even resorting to suicides. On the other hand, it sent the viewers’ mouth watering, wishing they too should have been there to enjoy those tasty and sumptuous meals. The opulence of the agitators on display at the sites failed to attract the sympathy of the common man. Adoption of unconstitutional, extra-constitutional and undemocratic methods to achieve political objectives which some people and political parties failed to achieve through democratic means can never stand the test of law and the constitution. Adoption of such techniques seems to have boomeranged on the agitators. VIRUS SPREADERS While many in opposition and some in the media raised a great hue and cry over the Kumbh mela having acted as a spreader of the Covid-19, they maintained a stoic silence on the sit-in by farmers who deliberately defied the virus protocol for the last over six months. They even refused to get vaccinated. The spurt in Covid cases in Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan could be attributed to the agitators. Now it looks the agitation is running out of steam. It has almost disappeared from the print and electronic media. In frustration they have started gheraoing local leaders who are not with them. West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee is reported to have invited kisan leader Rakesh Tikait to Kolkata. This should be read with the report that she is now toying with the idea to spread her TMC’s wings to other states. She may try to exploit the farmer agitation for her party’s political ends. To what extent the interests of the farmers will these leaders be able to promote by playing into the hands of political parties remains anybody’s guess. *** The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator.
Monday, May 24, 2021
Who Caused Spurt in Covid-19 cases Elections, Kumbh, and Kisan Agitation? By Amba Charan Vashishth Of late, a new tirade has been launched to make the present NDA government led by Shri Narender Modi responsible for the latest spurt in the number of Covid-19 patients in the country. They are advancing three main reasonss: general elections to five State assemblies whose five-year term was expiring in May this year, elections to panchayats in some states, and the Kumbh mela. Modi baiters now advance the argument that in view of the Covid-19 pandemic general elections to four states and one union territory should have been avoided. They seem to ignore the provision of Article 172 of the Constitution which provides that “(1) Every Legislative Assembly of every State, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting and no longer and the expiration of the said period of five years shall operate as a dissolution of the Assembly”. Article 324 vests in the Election Commission (EC) the responsibility of “superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice President held under this Constitution”. Clause (4) of the same Article further stipulates: “Before each general election to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of each State,…….the President may also appoint after consultation with the Election Commission such Regional Commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the Election Commission in the performance of the functions conferred on the Commission by clause (1). NO ROLE FOR UNION GOVERNMENT Provisions of the Constitution make it clear that the Central Government has nothing to do with the way, when and how the elections should be conducted. It is the prerogative of the EC alone. For performing its duty to ensure a free and fair election the EC, election commissioners and its officials make a number of visits to the state(s) where elections are due. Meetings with the political parties in the state are also held to have their views in the matter. The Central government comes into picture only if and when EC thinks the deployment of central forces is vital for the conduct of free, fair and peaceful election without a sense of fear among the electorate. The Covid protocol was already in force in the states going to the poll when EC announced the election schedule and enforcement of Model Code of Conduct for political parties. The political parties and the general public were expected to comply with the protocol during this time too. Neither the EC nor the ruling party at that time held the protocol — wearing of mask, maintaining a six feet distance with others and frequently washing hands — in abeyance during the period of elections. PANDEMIC PROTOCOL To raise a finger at the elections for the spurt in corona cases amounts to excusing the failure of the political parties of their simultaneous duty towards fighting the virus. Does the election time make the citizens oblivious of their duty towards the family, the society and the nation? In fact some political leaders are trying to compensate their failure to win the support of the electorate with mud-slinging on the issue of spread of corona virus. Since the term of the five state assemblies was nearing the end, the EC was bound by the Constitution to hold elections to ensure that the new assemblies were constituted in time. In the absence of any political party demanding postponement of elections, how could the EC or the Union government move on their own to postpone the elections. If this had to be done, it could only have been done either by dissolving the state assemblies and imposing Presidents’ Rule or by extending the term of the present assemblies. In every option consent of other parties was needed in Parliament. How could the support of political parties be taken for granted? In that case the Modi government would have been accused of partiality and helping one or the other parties in power at that time. Had the people on their part performed their duty to religiously abide by the Covid protocol, there would have been no need for the state governments to re-impose lockdown or curfew, as they had to do at present. There were leaders who first condemned the lockdown and when it was withdrawn, they shouted why was it done. Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi is on record having opposed the demand for lockdown on May 5 and demanded its imposition the very next day. On our part, we are derelict in the performance of our duty towards the society and the nation. In fact, we take pride in defying the law. More than3 lakhs of our fellow citizens have fallen victim to this virus. Yet we are not faithfully abiding by the Corona protocol. According to a latest report released in the third week of May, 50 percent of Indians do not wear mask at all. Of these 50 percent who wear it, 64 percent of them do not wear it properly, meaning they hang it over their chin and do not cover their nose which they should. That means only 18 percent of Indian citizens wear it properly. And then we have the cheek to hold the government responsible for the misery the nation is passing through. KUMBH MELA Much is also being made of the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar. First, it needs to be understood that no Mela — and for that matter, the Kumbh Mela — is organized by any social or religious organization, and least of all, any government. This is being held since times immemorial. What the government does is only to take steps needed for a smooth and orderly holding of these melas. Last time it was held in Allahabad when in UP the ‘secular’ government of Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav was in power. Azam Khan, the then Minister in Yadav ministry was incharge of the arrangements. One could see advertisement in newspapers and big hoardings with photographs of the then CM and the Minister welcoming the people. An anecdote in this connection is relevant. Seeing lakhs of people gathered to take a dip in the holy Ganga during the Kumbh, the then Viceroy of India said to Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya: You must be having to spend enormous money to gather so many people for the Kumbh. Panditi told the Viceroy: Sir, only an aanna (six paisa today). Amazed, the Viceroy asked: What do you mean? Panditi explained calmly: That is the cost of the Jantri today. It is mentioned there when will the Kumbh be celebrated and people assemble at their own will. Kumbh is much more different from other melas and celebrations like the Navratras, Shri Amarnath Yatra, Chardham Yatra and Kailash-Mansrovar Yatra, Ganesh Utsav, Durga Puja etc. Except for Navratras which are held twice a year, all are annual events. Kumbh comes after 12 years and Ardh-Kumbh after six years. Our elders tell us that in olden times when means of communication, roads, trains and buses were scarce, people who wished to go to Kumbh or Chardham yatra would meet all their relatives and friends before launching upon their mission saying they may or may not return alive as it took 2 to 5-6 months to return back. Some really did not return because if they fell ill there was none to look after and give medicines they needed to cure them. Yet, it was their religious sentiment to have a dip in the holy Ganga that the trials and travails that lay in the journey did not deter them from this arduous mission. If a person as old as 70 or more wishes to take a dip in Ganga during Kumbh he will not deter from doing so because of Covid as by the next Kumbh he would be more than 82 and there is no guarantee that he would live till that time. His sentiment to go now will further strengthen his determination. So, we need to appreciate the strength of his wish. KISAN AGITATION It is about six months that many kisan organizations, mainly from the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and UP, are sitting on dharna on the national highways leading to the national capital, New Delhi. They have never observed the Covid protocol of wearing mask and maintaining two yards social distancing. They have even refused to get vaccinated. A few days of the Kumbh makes our ‘secular-liberal’ intelligentsia, some in the media and political parties cried hoarse that the Mela has spread Covid-19 in the country. But chained by political and electoral considerations these gentlemen have turned blind, deaf and dumb to the role of kisan dharnas contributing to the spike in Corona pandemic. The states of Punjab, Haryana. Rajasthan and UP, in fact, owe the spurt in the virus to farmers who keep returning to their villages and then going back to the dharna sites. That speaks volumes for the hypocrisy of our intelligentsia and a section of the media. *** The writer is a Delhi based political analyst and commentator.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
In West Bengal Didi’s Changing Face Before, During and After Polling By Amba Charan Vashishth Political power, generally believed, is a great elixir of life. The latest living example is that of the West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Ms Mamata Banerjee. Because of an injury she received on her leg on April 01 she declared that she will campaign for the party sitting on a wheelchair. She did so till the last day of polling on April 29. This gave the impression that she was not medically fit to stand on her legs. The news of her party returning to power with a mandate greater than the last assembly elections instantly gave her a jerk powerful enough to make her stand on her legs to meet the media. Her recovery was a great matter of relief and satisfaction to one and all. As the Election Commission (EC) of India announced an 8-phase polling schedule for the West Bengal, Ms. Mamata Banerjee came out with hammer and tongs against both the NDA government at the Centre and an institution of the Constitution, the EC. She went to the extent of demeaning the EC, by calling it a ‘BJP Commission’. She shot more than five letters to the EC highlighting her doubts over free and fair election in the State. She even opposed the deployment of Central armed forces to the State for the conduct of free and fair elections. The extent of violence that was unleashed before, during, and after the polling and declaration of results has only applauded the farsightedness of the EC decision to order an 8-phase polling and deployment of central forces. What would have been the situation had these two steps not been taken, it is anybody’s guess. No other State in the country has witnessed a violence of that magnitude and deaths in recent times as the West Bengal. It was bad and sad that Mamata Didi was injured in an accident in her own vehicle on March 10, 2021 when she was on an election tour of Nandigram from where she had decided to contest the Vidhan Sabha election against her one-time top confidante and minister Suvendu Adhikari who had changed sides and joined the BJP. Initially, Ms. Banerjee alleged that some five-six outsiders had pushed her when she was alighting from her vehicle. A complaint was lodged with the EC who sought a report from the WB State Election Commission. On consideration of the State EC report and the videos of the incident the EC came to the conclusion that the Mamata injury was “accidental” and that at the time of incident she was surrounded by a heavy posse of police personnel providing security to her. Ms Mamata’s decision to undertake party’s election campaign sitting in a wheelchair was a well thought-out electoral strategy to garner f sympathy of voters. This seems to have, to an extent, stood her in good stead. Her example recalls of a similar game plan adopted by the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi during the general elections held simultaneously to Parliament and State assemblies in 1967, as was the practice till then. During the election campaign somebody threw a stone at her which injured her nose. Mrs. Gandhi conducted her party’s election campaign with a dressing on her injured nose attracting every voter’s attention. It looks this strategy also, to an extent, paid her adequately well. She was able to secure a majority for her Congress in Lok Sabha, though less than the Party’s performance in 1962. Congress lost power in many States giving birth, for the first time, to a new phenomenon of coalition governments in some States of the country. In the new scenario that emerged in India’s politics the socialist and communist parties joined hands with the then ‘communal’ Jana Sangh to form non-Congress governments. For them, then, Congress was their ‘enemy’ No.1. Ms Mamata Banerjee is, perhaps, the first chief minister of the country who led her party to a remarkable victory with a greater majority than the last Vidhan Sabha election (2016) but was him/herself defeated in that very election. But she also is the only person rejected by the people of her constituency, yet becoming a chief minister. There are a number of instances in the country where a non-MLA sworn in as chief minister failed to get elected within six months. In such cases, people’s verdict was respected and another individual was made the chief minister. But in the West Bengal case, peoples’ verdict was not honoured. On April 01 Ms. Banerjee had filed a complaint with the EC where polling was held in Nandigram alleging irregularities in the polling process and presence of outsiders at a polling booth in the constituency. On receiving a report from the State Chief Secretary and State Election Commissioner, on April 04 the EC rejected her complaint as “factually incorrect” and “devoid of substance”. Not only this, earlier in March Ms Banerjee had dashed 5 letters expressing apprehension of no fair and free elections in the State. She had called EC as “BJP EC” playing into the hands of the ruling party. She even objected to the deployment of Central forces which had been put on duty to inspire confidence amongst the voters. The commission said it is a matter of deep regret that a “media narrative was sought to be weaved hour after hour to misguide the biggest stakeholders, which is the voters, by a candidate who also happens to be CM of the state”. Before the final result of the Nandigram had been officially declared, Ms Banerjee tried to project herself as a great democrat expressing full faith in the electorate, by accepting what the people decided. "Don't worry about Nandigram”, she declared. “I struggled for Nandigram because I fought a movement. It's ok. Let the Nandigram people give whatever verdict they want, I accept that. I don't mind." "We have won so big in Bengal,” Ms Banerjee told reporters on May 02 evening. ”I respect the verdict of the people of Nandigram. Whatever their verdict is, I accept that.” She went on, "Whatever happened is for the best. I will not have to go that far regularly now, I am saved in that way.” At the same time, she added, "But, I also feel there was some mischief as after the news of my victory came things changed….. I will later move court on this issue.” In the same breath, she changed the track when she said, “but I will go to the court because I have heard there were some malpractices." One of her confidantes and TMC MP Derek O'Brien lost no time in calling the Nandigram election results "fishy". Advancing a strange logic he wondered that a party wins nearly three-fourths of all the seats in the state and the Chief Minister loses her seat. ”Expressing “utmost respect for the chair of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of India,” he said, “I am sorry to say that they have come here to Bengal and acted as thugs and cheapshots, who have come here and made catcalls.” He expressed respect for the constitutional institution of the Election Commission but “not for the current people at the helm of affairs”. The (conduct of the) Election Commissioner, he said, “has been disgraceful and devious”. His opinion is analogous to a person expressing highest regards for a chief minister but saying that the chief minister’s office (CMO) is as bad and corrupt as it can be. TMC won 206 seats under the supervision and superintendence of the same members of the EC whom Ms Mamata called “BJP EC” and whom O’Brien after the election results called as having acted “as thugs and cheapshots, …….and made catcalls.” He also found their conduct “disgraceful and devious”. Members of the EC would have perhaps been angels for both of them if they had ensured that TMC romps home with all the 292 seats. It is the wont of the opposition parties to use the EVMs as the whipping boy for their rejection in elections. But surprisingly, this time, this element was missing though some of them before and during poll did air their apprehensions. In case the peoples’ vote went not in their way, they could say they had warned of it much earlier. But Ms Banerjee did not miss the opportunity to allege that “EVMs were tampered with in Nandigram” where she was defeated at the hands of her former protégé. She alleged that the returning officer rejected her request for recounting of votes “fearing threat to his life”. Yet it was not on the directions CM Mamata Banerjee but that of the EC that security was provided to him. After taking oath a prime minister or chief minister has never addressed the invitees to the swearing-in function. But Ms Banerjee broke this tradition and made a brief address after the oath. This prompted the Governor also to make an address. The BJP alleged that violence had been directed against BJP leaders/workers by the TMC workers. BJP National President JP Nadda rushed to the affected areas to express party’s solidarity and sympathy with the affected families. But, surprisingly, neither CM Bannerjee nor any of her party leaders found time to visit the bereaved families. That sends a clear signal as to who and which party was behind the orgy of violence after the results. Post-results it is expected of a winning party to show magnanimity, but it was missing in West Bengal. The Governor, as head and first citizen of the State, did find time to rub balm on the physical and psychological injuries inflicted on a section of the people. The scene of bewailing men and women who fell on Governor’s feet to seek justice and protection was so heart-rending that he couldn’t help using his handkerchief to wash his tears. But for TMC this action of the Governor was an “unconstitutional” conduct. But it looks, for the CM and her party, it is not their ‘constitutional’ duty to condemn violence or to fetch justice to the bereaved families. *** The writer is a political analyst and commentator
Monday, May 3, 2021
‘Time’ has to wait for a woman CJI by Amba Charan Vashishth A woman Chief Justice of India (CJI) is certainly an excellent idea with no noticeable oppositiont from any section of the people. We felt proud to have women as the President of India, Prime Minister, Governor and holding other high offices. Time and tide, it is said, wait for no one. But as things stand today, it looks, “time” has to wait for us to see that auspicious day when India will have a woman as CJI. No authority, as at present, is empowered to appoint a woman as CJI with the stroke of a pen. The time-honoured rule and tradition of respecting the merit and seniority binds the hands of the highest authority to do so. Therefore, the country has to wait for that happy “ time”. Women too would like to have a woman CJI on the strength of merit and not as a measure benefaction to them. On April 15, 2021 a special bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant observed, “Why higher judiciary? We think the time has come when a woman should be Chief Justice of India" (CJI). The bench added, “We have the interest of women in mind. There is no attitudinal change in it. Hopefully, they (women) will be appointed”. It certainly is a noble thought. Nobody can dispute it. No one can differ with it. The Supreme Court (SC) of India came into existence on January 26, 1950. Not a single woman’s name figures in the list of 48 CJIs the country had since then. It is not a commentary on the merit, efficiency and efficacy of women to hold the prestigious position. Whenever and wherever women got an opportunity they had acquitted themselves admirably well. At the same time, there seems hardly an instance where a woman has been denied opportunity only because she was a woman. There is also no dearth of women in the country who can be as fine a judge as male one to head the top court of the country. It is also a fact that although many eligible women in the bar had been found fit for being a judge yet many of them declined to shoulder the responsibility as they put their duty towards their family and children paramount. To a great extent they seem to be right too. They themselves are their family’s ‘present’ while their children are their ‘future’. They, it looks, preferred not to spoil their own — and, to a great extent, of the country’s — “future”. In the absence of the vital motherly love and care, many promising ’futures’ have seen to have gone astray smashing the dreams of parents’ ‘future’. The oldest democracy of the world, USA, has not been able to have a single woman to be President of the country for the last 245 years of its independence. It is not that US people are anti-women or US women do not have the merit and capacity to hold the exalted office. The people of the country, women included, want the situation to evolve itself into the country electing a woman President. Nobody wants a woman to be imposed on them as President. In the 2016 election, Mrs. Hillary Clinton did emerge the first woman to win Democratic Party candidature for election to the office of President, though she lost the election by a blinker. In the 2020 election USA did elect Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden as its President with Mrs. Kamla Harris as his running mate as the first woman Vice-President. Yet it still remains a question as to when USA would elect a woman as the President. Why has come the “time” to have a woman CJI? Thankfully, the demand has not emanated from any political party with an eye for votes of women. Simultaneously, by no stretch of imagination can it be construed to mean that in the absence of a woman CJI justice was/ is not being administered to the people of the country, particularly women. But what the SC bench meant by saying “We have the interest of women in mind” is anybody’s guess. In the three pillars of democracy — executive, legislative and judiciary — the Constitution of India prohibits any discrimination in any matter on grounds of sex, caste, creed and region. Every institution of the Constitution — the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, the council of ministers, the Supreme Court/High Court, Governors, MPs, MLAs, MLCs and others, whether elected or nominated — and the bureaucracy function for all the people of India as a whole. They do not promote the interests of the political party, sex, creed and region they may belong. For some people India is not a living example of unity in diversity but just of diversity in the form of castes, creeds, men and women, regions and languages. They want this diversity never to end, but always cherished and preserved. They always look at every action of the government through the prism of these dividing factors. These gentlemen always support their cause and want preferential treatment to these sections to grind their axe in politics and elections. As per the spirit of the Constitution a person once elected he/she represents all the people of the constituency — men and women of all castes and creeds — in the Parliament of India, irrespective of the fact whether a section of them had voted for or against him. He is expected to serve the interests and promote development of the constituency as a whole. The same is true of members of the State legislative assemblies. They are not expected to be partial in their conduct. If anybody does, he is guilty of violating the oath he takes on assumption of office to discharge his/her duties without fear and favour towards every person and every group as per the law and the constitution. When we speak of giving representation to this or that section of society in the three pillars of government, it implies that the people in government, legislative bodies and judiciary do not discharge their duties in a fair and impartial manner to dispense justice to all. On the contrary, they discriminate between one section and the other. Therefore, there is need to give representation to left-out sections so that they could promote the interests of those castes and creeds to which they belong. Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India for more than 16 years. Does it mean that during her reign she promoted the interests and welfare of only women and the caste to which she belonged neglecting all others? Rajiv Gandhi was the youngest prime minister of the country. Does it imply that he was concerned only with the welfare of the youth to the exclusion of all others? Our prime ministers came off from different castes and regions. Did they further only the interests of their castes, creeds and regions? That certainly is not true. If that is the reality, then it is a shameless and grave defiance of the provisions of our constitution which provides for justice to all. So far, we did not have a woman CJI in the country. We had — and are having — some women judges who dispensed justice to one and all and were never weighted in favour of women and against men .The voice being raised for a woman CJI seems to imply as if without this the women in India had — and can — never get justice. Not many would, perhaps, subscribe to this notion. It is time we stop crying for giving representation to sexes, castes, creeds, regions to give a semblance of protecting everyone’s rights and dispensing justice to all. One wonders how is it possible to usher in “the time” to have “a woman CJI” right now. At present there is no woman judge at the top judiciary sufficiently senior to occupy the exalted office. This objective of the “time” to have “a woman CJI” just now can be realised only by disregarding the so far time- honoured rule of respecting an individual’s merit and seniority. Nobody would, perhaps, like to say goodbye to this principle. Perhaps women too would not like to occupy this office as a favour. They would want it as a matter of right on the basis of their merit. *** The writer is a Delh- based political analyst and commentator.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Uttarakhand CM on “ripped jeans” Hypocrisy of ‘Secular-Liberal’ intelligentsia — Amba Charan Vashishth The ‘secular-liberal’ individuals, groups and intelligentsia has instantly run after the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat for committing the ‘crime’ of criticizing women for wearing ripped jeans and wondering what values they will impart to their children. Political parties and some organizations have run riots against these words of the chief minister. Speaking at an event on March 16, 2021 Mr. Rawat is reported to have said that due to a lack of values, youngsters today are following strange fashion trends and consider themselves to be big shots after wearing jeans ripped at the knees. Women also follow such trends. These’ ‘holy’ critics cry hoarse when some individual or organization is condemned or hauled up under the law for shouting slogans like “India murdabad”, “Pakistan zindabad” and “India ho barbad” slogans. This, they claim, is the ‘constitutional’ right to opinion and expression of these people and organizations in the democracy we have in the country. They also deride the rising sense of “intolerance” in the country, particular since the people of India returned the present BJP-led NDA under Mr. Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister with a comfortable majority. These men of great conscience also need to explain whether this is their display of sense of ‘tolerance’? These howlers also owe a duty to enlighten the people of India whether an individual, like Mr. Tirath Singh Rawat, who also happens to be a chief minister of a State in India, have no “constitutional right” to their opinion and to express it? Is this “constitutional right” the exclusive domain of terrorists and tuked-tukde gang to the exclusion of all others who love their country and abide by law of the land? It also needs to be noted that Mr. Rawat had just expressed his opinion. He had neither issued any diktat to ban wearing of “ripped jeans” nor declared that his government will ban it. It is time the “secular-liberal” people inculcate a sense patience to understand the words and meaning of such utterances before pouncing upon condemning such opinion of others. ***
Saturday, October 3, 2020
प्रेरक-प्रसंग विज्ञान एवं अध्यात्म में समन्वय अति आवश्यक एक सुप्रासिद्ध वैज्ञानिक विदेश से भारत पधारे| उन्होंने किसी भारतीय सन्त से भेंट की हार्दिक इच्छा प्रकट की| दर्शनार्थ प्रबन्ध किया गया| वैज्ञानिक महोदयने सन्तसे पूछा — ‘आधुनिक विज्ञानं के बारे में आपकी क्या राय है?’ सन्त ने कहा — ‘मेरी राय में इसका कोई मूल्य नहीं है’| चकित एवं व्यथित वैज्ञानिक ने कहा — ‘जिस विज्ञान ने मनुष्य को इतनी सुख-सुविधाएं प्रदान कीं उसे आप निरर्थक बता रहे हैं?’ महात्मा ने कहा — ‘आपकी इस वर्णित उपलब्धि से मैं सह्मत हूँ, परन्तु विज्ञान की सब से बड़ी हार है कि वह मानव को मानव की भान्ति जीना न सिखा सका, परस्पर प्रेम करना, दूसरों के काम आना. उन्हें सुख बांटना न सिखा सका| मानव में मानवता प्रकट करने की योग्यता सांसारिक विद्याओं में नहीं है, यह महान कार्य परा-विद्या ही कर सकती है|’ चूंकि हमें इनसान की भान्ति, एक नेक इनसान की भान्ति, एक नेक इनसान की भान्ति रहकर जीवन-यापन की उत्कट इच्छा है, अतैव दोनों विद्याओं का समन्वय अति आवश्यक है| प्रायः कहते सुना जाता है, ‘अमुक व्यक्ति डाक्टर तो बहुत अच्छा है, पर इनसान किसी काम का नहीं, चरित्रहीन है, क्रोधी है, लोभी है| गुणवान बनना तथा दुर्गुणहीन मनुष्य बनना परा-विद्या ही सिखाती है| मानवता अनमोल है| — डा० विश्वामित्रजी (हिंदी कल्याण मासिक से साभार)
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Unbecoming conduct on PM Modi’s birthday In Politics Congress can Stoop to any Low By Amba Charan Vashishth Politics may be translated as rajniti in Hindi and other Indian languages. But what is in vogue in India is not rajniti but the western form called politics. In play is politics the country inherited from Muslim and British invaders which is the rajniti minus the high ideals and principles core to what rajniti stands for. In India raja-maharajas followed the principles of rajniti. Even when the two rajas came in conflict with each other, women in both principalities were treated with respect and never harmed. It was only after Muslim rule that women came to be humiliated, physically assaulted and killed if they did not submit. On the contrary, the politics that ruled the country during Muslim and British period, the conduct of the State was run on the famous principle that “everything was right in war and politics”. The rajniti was given a go bye. Politicians in India seem to have inherited the politics that was the very heart and soul of the alien rulers. Even after India became independent the politics came into play at the hands of Gandhi-Nehru families and others with niceties and courtesies lost forever. Politicians may have had differences between themselves but they never hit below the belt. Women, daughters and sons of the opponents were always spared. Political differences apart, family members of each remained common and therefore, loveable and respectable. Politics was never allowed to stand in between their social and family relations. They continued to join in marriages and every other family functions. But, of late, political rivalry has come to vitiate these relations. Now if a political rival joins in his opponent’s social relations, this conduct is frowned upon by leadership of each party. Till the other day, it had been a great tradition with political leaders to exchange birthday greetings, even with their political foes. They went to the smadhi sthal to pay their respects even if at daggers drawn with the departed soul. They may not join an auspicious ceremony uninvited but made it a point not to miss the opportunity to pay their condolences to their opponents uninvited. But a new trend, this time, was set in motion, primarily, by the country’s oldest political party, the Indian National Congress (INC), run by the Nehru-Gandhi family trio of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. In one breath, they now greet their political rivals on birthdays and, in the next breath, hurl choicest abuses. Till now, it is confined to the Congress party but, in due course, it will be no surprise if the unhealthy malaise infects other political parties too. On PM Narender Modi’s birthday Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi joined other opposition leaders in greeting him and sending their good wishes. World leaders including US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others too wished PM Modi well. But Congress party could not help hide its bitterness towards the PM on this solemn occasion even. It burst out in the open in the words of its chief party spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala who ended his good wishes with the malice of words: Áb ki baar bander ke haath mein ustra sarkar’. This is not the first time that Congress has made derogatory statements against PM Modi. Congress leader Arjun Modwadia has also compared Modi to a monkey. (https://www.magzter.com/news/1060/3325/092020/t2joe) To celebrate the occasion in its own style BJP launched from PM’s birthday a weeklong sewa saptah (service week) throughout the country. . Congress has, as a leading national daily put it, descended to a new low in Indian politics. Earlier, politicians used to show decency and avoided attacking leaders on personal occasions such as birthdays. However, Congress breached that barrier and showed utter lack of decency through negative and devious political discourse, by trying to ‘celebrate’ the day as National Unemployment Day and continuing with other vicious and malafide attacks as well. Home / India News / ‘Wish you would advise trolls who threaten in your name’: Surjewala on PM Modi’s tweet Whether it is the birth or death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, Shmt. Indira Gandhi, Sardar Ballabhbhai Patel and others, in spite of the fact that some political parties and leaders have reservations about these leaders, they still celebrate the occasion solemnly with a great sense of unanimity recalling their great qualities of head and heart. It is for the first time that politics has stooped to such a low level. The Congress should have made a choice between greeting PM Modi on his birthday or condemning him for his ‘failures’. Its conduct amounts to standing true to the old saying: bagal mein chhuri munh par raam-raam (shouting Ram-Ram aloud with a dagger concealed in the armpit). The Congress celebrated this day as Unemployment Day. Nobody can deny this right to Congress but the day and timing is obnoxious. This curse is perennial. It was there when the British left and it continued after that too. Out of the 73 years of India’s freedom, for more than 50 years Congress had been in power. Never during this period did unemployment become extinct. On the contrary, successive Congress governments had been calling the unemployment, poverty and corruption as the global problem. In 1971 general elections the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi raised the “gharibi hatao” slogan that caught the imagination of the electorate. She won a landslide victory. In 1984, Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi promised to provide “a government that works’. Congress in another election promised to do away with unemployment. Successive Congress governments failed to live up to their promises made to the electorate. Gharibi still is not a thing of the past. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections when Congress-led UPA was defeated at the hustings and BJP-led NDA government came into power, UPA government did not have a zero percent unemployment rate. The latest percentage of unemployment in Canada is 7.5, in France 8.1, China 5.9, Italy 7.8 and in India 8.5. Unemployment Rate in the United States averaged 5.76 percent from 1948 until 2020, reaching an all time high of 14.70 percent in April of 2020 and a record low of 2.50 percent in May of 1953. It must also be kept in mind that as a result of Covid-19 pandemic the situation all over the world has worsened because of closure of many large, medium and small, even cottage, industrial and commercial units. This is a situation in which the priority of governments all over the world at present, is to contain the spread of Corona pandemic, treatment of those infected and reduce the number of casualties as much as it is keep the economy moving. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has praised India’s efforts in containing the deadly corona virus. It said that PM Modi is himself monitoring the situation and the government made sure that there were equipment and supplies to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. India has supplied anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which is believed to be helpful in control of the covid-19 pandemic, to more than 55 corona virus-hit countries as grants as well as on commercial basis. All the beneficiary countries have praised India for this timely humanitarian help at this time of need. (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-sending-hydroxychloroquine-to-55-coronavirus-hit-countries/articleshow/75186938.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst) Had the Modi government not risen to the occasion in time and taken concrete preventive steps like lockdown followed by unleashing the unlock process in various phases, India with about 70% of its 135 crore population living in rural areas, India would have topped the world in corona infected cases, recovery and casualty figures. But the deliberately closed eyes of the opposition do not open up to the blaze of these stark realities. When Modi government enforced the lock-down to meet the challenge of the Covid-19, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi hit it with a borrowed intelligence quoting legendary physicist Albert Einstein, “The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.” How relevant is this quote relevant to the corona pandemic is anybody’s guess When government launched the unlock process, Rahulji was again not impressed. His policy seems to be to criticize the government in every situation — Lockdown was wrong and unlock process too. Strange logic, Rahul style! That is the Congress politics going down day by day. ***