Tuesday, November 16, 2021

 No-holds-barredin run-up to Stateassembly elections  By AmbaCharan Vashishth                   As the elections to theassemblies in five states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur — in February-March next year are drawing nearer, almost everypolitical party seems to be trying to do everything that can appeal to theconstituency of its voters to support it.Gone are the days whenindividuals and political parties did not openly appeal to castes and creedsalthough discreetly they did. Caste and religion did matter as parties gavetickets to their candidates based on the majority of the caste and religion inthe constituency. But this time it is all open. Political parties areorganizing caste sammelans and appealing on community lines too..Is this notbanned under the provisions of the Representation of the Peoples’ Act? But theywill claim that the Election Commission (EC) of India has, so far, notannounced the election schedule and, therefore, this Act cannot be invoked. JINNAH’S GIN Everythingis fair in love and war. Now it is being extended to the sphere of politicalelections too. In the run-up to the elections to five State Assemblies leaders of differentpolitical parties are desperately trying every tool for the game. The former UPchief minister, Akhilesh Yadav has equated Mohammad Ali Jinnah with MahatmaGandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, He said all of them studiedlaw at the same institute and worked as barristers. He credited Jinnah withhelping India get freedom. One fails to understand Akhilesh’s logic and facts. Jinnah’s only achievementis the division of India which resulted in the killing of lakhs of people andworld’s first such a great migration of population from one country to theother. The people of India can never pardon Jinnah for this treachery. IfAkhilesh thinks that by praising Jinnah he can win the heart of Muslims inIndia, he is under a wrong impression. If the Muslims of India were soenamoured of him, they would not have continued to stay in the partitioned India,but migrated to Pakistan.   Almostevery political party is trying to lure the Muslim votes, particularly in UP wherethey command 19 percent of the voter strength. It is also believed that thiscommunity exercises its right to franchise almost collectively in favour of oneparty. They also, at times, decide to favour a person or party which can causethe defeat of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The AllIndia Majlis-e-ittehadi (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi has already argued thatif Yadav’s with a vote value of just 9 percent can form a government, why can’tMuslims with a chunk of 19 percent strength of voters can't.  

Monday, October 25, 2021

JIO silent on its promise

It was more than four years.back when tJIO launched a mobile for Rs 1500 with a promise to get back the instrument for the same amount, I.e.Rs 1500 after 3 years. The three years period was over last year but JIO remains silent on its promise. This amounts to cheating the consumer/buyer. Wll the JIO wake up to its unfulfilled promise? Nonfulfilling of its.promise puts a question mark on its credibility too.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

आओ सब चलें पालिटिक्स के नए तीर्थस्थल लखीमपुर खेडी व हनुमानगढ़ के दर्शन करने

हास्य-व्यंग आओ सब चलें पालिटिक्स के नए तीर्थस्थल लखीमपुर खेडी व हनुमानगढ़ के दर्शन करने बेटा: पिताजी| पिता: हाँ, बेटा| बेटा: पिताजी, आप उत्तर प्रदेश के लखीमपुर खेडी नहीं जा रहे? पिता: क्यों? बेटा: अनेकों नेता व कार्यकर्त्ता वहां जा रहे हैं और आप कह रहे हैं कि मैं क्यों जाऊं? राहुलजी और प्रियांकाजी ने तो वहां जाने केलिए धरने तक दे दिये | पिता: अगर वह जा रहे हैं तो इसका मतलब यह नहीं कि मैं भी जाऊं? सब जाएँ? बेटा: पिताजी, ऐसा ही हो रहा हैं| सब नेता-कार्यकर्ता वहां पहले पहुँचने की होड़ में हैं| पिता: अच्छा? बेटा: पिताजी, पहले तो उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार और किसानों के बीच समझौता हो गया कि सरकार सभी 8 मृतकों को ₹45-45 लाख का मुआवजा देगी| उनके परिवार के एक सदस्य को सरकारी नौकरी भी मिलेगी| इनमें 4 किसान हैं, 3 पार्टी कार्यकर्ता और एक पत्रकार| घायलों को ₹10-10 लाख दिया जायेगा| दोषियों पर मुकद्दमा चलेगा और उन्हें सजा दिलाई जाएगी| इसके फलस्वरूप किसानों ने वहां अपना आन्दोलन समाप्त कर दिया| पिता: तो फिर झगडा क्या रह गया? बेटा: पिताजी, यह घटना स्थानीय थी और गाँव वालों ने आपस में बैठकर एक समझौता कर लिया जिसमें प्रदेश प्रशासन और किसान संगठन के नेता राकेश टिकैतजी भी उपस्थित थे| अब पोलिटिक्स वालों ने अपनी चाल चला दी| कह दिया कि इस समझौते से मृतकों के साथ न्याय नहीं हुआ| पिता: तेरा मतलब कि पीड़ित परिवार और किसान नेता राकेश टिकैत ने जो सुलह-सफाई कर ली वह गाँव के बाहर के लोगों को मंज़ूर नहीं है| तो उन्होंने क्या किया? बेटा: कमाल हो गया| पंजाब और छत्तीसगढ़ के मुख्य मंत्री अपने सरकारी जहाजों में उड़ कर आये और उन्होंने चारों मृत किसानों व पत्रकार के परिवारों को ₹50-50 लाख अलग-अलग से दे दिए| पिता: मतलब उन सबको एक-एक करोड़ रुपये और मिल गए? ₹45 लाख देने का इलान तो प्रदेश सरकार ने पहले ही कर दिया है| बेटा: बिलकुल| पिता: पार्टी के लोगो को भी? बेटा: उन्हें नहीं| शायद वह दूसरी पार्टी के थे| पिता: पर बेटा यह तो अन्याय और भेदभाव की मिसाल है| आखिर सब थे तो एक ही गाँव के जो मरे एक ही घटना में और एक ही कारण से| बेटा: मेरे को तो पिताजी इसमें पालिटिक्स की सुगंध आती लगती है| पिता: सुगंध नहीं बू| बेटा: पंजाब और छत्तीसगढ़ सरकार ने घायलों को भी अपनी ओर से कुछ दिया? पिता: नहीं| तब तो घायलों के मन में रह-रह कर यही अफ़सोस कचोट रहा होगा कि काश वह भी शहीद हो जाते और छप्पड़ फाड़ कर जो सहायता अन्य को मिली वह उनके परिवारवालों के भाग्य में भी आ जाती| बेटा: पिताजी, यही नहीं| पंजाब के प्रदेश कांग्रेस अध्यक्ष नवजोत सिंह सिद्धू दस हज़ार ट्रैक्टरों के लावलश्कर के साथ पंजाब के लोगों की ओर से उन चार किसानों की शहादत पर अपनी संवेदना प्रकट करने गए थे| पिता: और मैंने अखबार में पढ़ा कि पंजाब कांग्रेस प्रभारी और उत्तराखंड के पूर्व मुख्य मंत्री हरीश रावत तो 20 हज़ार ट्रैक्टरों के साथ इसी उद्देश्य से लखीमपुर खेडी पहुंचेगे| क्या वह भी अपनी ओर से और सहायता राशि देंगे? बेटा: नहीं| अगर वहां भी उनकी कांग्रेस सरकार होती तो वह भी अवश्य देते| पिता: कांग्रेस की सरकार तो राजस्थान में भी है| वहां के मुख्या मंत्री क्यों नहीं आये? उन्हें इस घटना पर दुःख नहीं हुआ? बेटा: वहां चुनाव अभी दूर हैं| दूसरे राजस्थान में दो दलित युवकों की मार-मार कर हत्या भी तो कर दी गयी है| पिता: महाराष्ट्र के मुख्य मंत्री भी नहीं आये| वहां भी कांग्रेस गठबंधन सरकार का अभिन्न अंग है| बेटा: वहां भी वही बात है| चुनाव अभी काफी दूर हैं| पिता: तेरा मतलब जनता के खजाने को सत्ताधारी दल के चुनावी हित केलिए उपयोग में लाया जा रहा है| लखीमपुर राजनीतिक धर्मस्थल केवल उन राज्यों व पार्टियों केलिए तीर्थस्थल बन गया है जहाँ चुनाव हैं, अन्य केलिए नहीं| बेटा: कुछ भी हो पर अभी तक तो ऐसा ही लग रहा है| पिता: जब अलग-अलग प्रदेशों से इतने ट्रेक्टर व कारें आ-जा रहीं हैं उससे तो ऐसा लग रहा है कि पंजाब और उत्तराखंड में पेट्रोल और डीज़ल सस्ता हो गया हैं| पिता: सस्ता तो कहीं नहीं हुआ है| मुझे तो ऐसा भी लग रहा है कि यह सारा शोर है राजनीतिक| एक ओर तो पेट्रोल और डीज़ल के दामों की बढौतरी पर बड़ी चीख-पुकार हो रही है और दूसरी ओर ट्रेक्टर-कारें अनेक प्रदर्शनों केलिए हजारों में लाई जा रही हैं| हाल ही में जारी आंकड़ों के अनुसार मोटर गाड़ियों की बिक्री भी बढती जार रही है| बेटा: तो फिर इन गरीब किसानों या कांग्रेस कार्यकर्ताओं के पास इतना धन कहाँ से आ गया कि वह लखीमपुर जाने-आने का खर्च बर्दाश्त कर सकें? तो इन किसानों को अमीर समझें या गरीब? पिता: जाने को तो उत्तर प्रदेश के अंदर से और अन्य प्रदेशों से भी बहुत सारे नेता अपनी पूरी शक्ति का प्रदर्शन करने वहां पहुँच रहे हैं| तो क्या वह भी ₹50-50 लाख और दे आयेंगे? बेटा: मुझे तो आशा नहीं लगती क्योंकि उत्तराखंड में तो कांग्रेस सत्ता में नहीं है| यह दरियादिली तो अपनी जेव के पैसे से नहीं सरकारी खजाने से ही दिखाई जाती है| पिता: पर बेटा मुझे ऐसा लगता है कि वह शहीद परिवारों से वादा कर आयेंगे कि यदि जनताजनार्दन ने उनकी सरकार बना दी तो वह ₹50 लाख तो क्या उससे भी ज़्यादा की मदद कर देंगे| बेटा: इस में क्या नया है? हम सब मंदिर जाकर देवी-देवताओं से याचना करते है कि यदि हमारी कामना पूरी हो जायेगी तो यह करदेंगे/वह कर देंगे| पिता: बिलकुल सही| यह पालिटिक्स के लोग जनता के दरबार में यही तो दावा करते हैं कि यदि हम जीत जायेंगे तो ऐसा कर देंगे/वैसा करदेंगे| यह अलग बात है कि जीतने के बाद वह बहुत कुछ भूल जाते हैं| बेटा: अच्छा! अब समझा| तभी पालिटिक्स में व्यस्त लोग नवरात्रों में मंदिर जाने के स्थान पर लखीमपुर जा कर अपने आप को धन्य क्यों कर रहे हैं| पिता: अच्छा? यह बात तो ठीक लगती है| बेटा: एक कारण यह भी तो है कि तीनों राज्यों पंजाब, उत्तर प्रदेश और उत्तराखंड में चुनाव होने वाले हैं| इसलिए यदि नवरात्रों में मतदाता की पूजा-अर्चना की जाये तो इससे बड़ा शुभ लाभ प्राप्त हो सकता है| पिता: बेटा, एक ओर तो नेता शोर मचा रहे हैं कि पट्रोल व डीज़ल के भाव बढ़ रहे हैं और सब इस महंगाई के नीचे दबते जा रहे हैं| किसान के ग़रीब होने और ऋण न चुका पाने के कारण आत्महत्या तक करने पर मजबूर हो रहे है| किसान आन्दोलन के कारण जनता शशोपंज में पड़ गई है| यदि यह नेता इस पट्रोल-डीज़ल को बचा लेते तो इस बचत से हज़ारों-सैंकड़ों किसानो का भला कर सकते थे| मेरे मन में तो एक विचार और आ रहा है| बेटा: क्या? पिता: लखीमपुर की पंचायत को उनके गाँव में प्रवेश करने वाले सभी श्रद्धालुओं पर प्रति व्यक्ति ₹100 और प्रति ट्रेक्टर-कार आदि पर ₹500 प्रवेश शुल्क लगा देना चाहिए| सभी खुश हो कर दे देंगे और इस धन से गाँव का भला भी हो जाता| बेटा: आपका विचार तो पिताजी बहुत बढ़िया है, पर देर हो गई| इतने में तो वहां जाने वालों का जमघट कम हो जायेगा| पिता: तुमने एक और बात सुनी? बेटा: कोलकाता में इस नवरात्री में दुर्गा माँ के पंडालों में पश्चिमी बंगाल की मुख्य मंत्री सुश्री ममता बनर्जी के भी बड़े-बड़े पोस्टर लगा दिए हैं जिनमें उनको दुर्गा मां के रूप में प्रस्तुत किया गया है| जब लोग ऐसे पंडालों में जायेंगे तो उनको ममता दीदी के इस रूप के दर्शन भी हों जायेंगे| पिता: मतलब टू-इन-वन| दुर्गा माता के साथ ममता दीदी के भी दर्शन| ऐसे ही कांग्रेस की महामंत्री श्रीमती प्रियंका गाँधी वडरा के साथ वाराणसी में हुआ| वहां भी उनके प्रशंसकों ने दुर्गा माँ के चित्र में मुखड़ा प्रियांकाजी का लगा दिया है| बेटा: इस बार कुछ अलग ही घट रहा है| पिता: बेटा भारत की पालिटिक्स में व्यक्ति-पूजा का चलन तो सदा ही रहा है| यह सब मामला व्यक्तिगत है| व्यक्ति की अपनी आस्था और मान्यता का प्रश्न है| हमें तो उसका सम्मान करना ही पड़ेगा| बेटा: पर पिताजी यह सिलसिला तो थमने का नाम नहीं ले रहा| अब तो लखीमपुर खेडी की तर्ज़ पर एक और प्रार्थना स्थल उभरने जा रहा है| राजस्थान के हनुमानगढ़ में एक दलित युवक की कुछ लोगों ने बुरी तरह लाठियों से पीट-पीट कर निर्मम हत्या कर दी है| पिता: यह घटना तो बेटा और भी निंदनीय और अमानवीय है| बेटा: अब इस पर भी यूपी के लखीमपुर की तरह ही बखेड़ा खड़ा हो जायेगा| फर्क केवल इतना है कि राजस्थान में कांग्रेस की सरकार है जबकि लखीमपुर में भाजपा की| पिता: इस पर भी पालिटिक्स सक्रिय हो गई है| कांग्रेस विरोधी तो अब पूछ रहे हैं कि क्या प्रियंका व राहुलजी वही ड्रामा राजस्थान में करेंगे जो उन्होंने यूपी में किया? क्या पंजाब और छत्तीसगढ़ के मुख्य मंत्री भी वहां जाकर उस दलित के परिवार को अलग-अलग से ₹50-50 लाख की राशि देकर आएंगे? बेटा: बहुजन समाज पार्टी की सुप्रीमो सुश्री मायावती जी ने तो यह प्रश्न कांग्रेस पर कर ही दिया है| पिता: मैं तो नहीं समझता कि इसमें ये दोनों मुख्य मंत्री ऐसा करने से हिचकिचाएंगे ही| उन्होंने पैसे कौनसे अपनी जेब से देने हैं? जनता के ही खजाने से देने हैं, दे देंगे| बेटा: सिद्धूजी आदि नेता भी पालिटिक्स के इस नए तीर्थस्थल के दर्शन कर आये हैं| दो साल बाद उन्होंने राजस्थान से भी तो वोट मांगने हैं| पिता: पर बेटा यह क्रम रुकता तो लगता नहीं| ऐसी घटनाएं तो आये दिन होती ही रहेंगी| चलो जो भी होगा, ठीक ही होगा| ***

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Are the Ugly Scenes in Parliament Mandated by the Electorate and Sanctioned by the Constitution?

Are the Ugly Scenes in Parliament Mandated by the Electorate and Sanctioned by the Constitution? Unruly and ugly scenes in parliament and state assemblies have become an order of the day. It is wisely said that when a person runs bankrupt of arguments and logic, he comes to yelling, abusing and, finally resorts to blows. This may or may not be true of the frequent happenings in the temple of democracy, the Parliament. Yet the sanctity of this temple needs to be maintained. Ours is a ‘secular’ country. That is why, it looks, ‘secular’ people do not find any obnoxious in playing politics in the precincts of this temple at the cost of the common man Why should the rebellious individual not be held responsible for the loss and made to compensate the state exchequer. The Chief Justice of India has also expressed his dismay at the goings-on in Parliament. The Supreme Court should ipso facto take cognizance of the happenings and consider whether the MPs have the mandate of the people for such acts in the Parliament and whether such acts violate or not the letter and spirit of the Constitution. By Amba Charan Vashishth In ancient times in India, there was hardly an instance of raja-maharajas having been an autocrat and cruel to his subjects. If there was any, he was dethroned sooner than later. The parliamentary institutions and elections, like the ones in the present times, were something unknown, unheard of then. The institution of village panchayats did exist much earlier. People had great faith and respect for this institution and its members who were hailed as panch parmeshwar. The raja-maharajas discussed every matter concerning their state in an open court where the wazirs (ministers), the saintly aacharyas, heads of the army and elders were always there for advice. The holy gurus commanded great respect as their advice was in accordance with the tenets of morality and ethics. The rulers too held them in high esteem. At times, they even overruled the king who accepted their opinion without protest. They were there not just as courtiers shaking their heads always in agreement with whatever the king thought and wanted. Though not elected by the people, yet they always had their fingers at the pulse of the people. They enjoyed people’s faith and respect. The rulers were always one with the joys and sorrows of the people. In times of natural calamities, like drought, famine etc., they suffered as much as did their subjects. That is why the erstwhile rulers and their dynasties, though not in power now for the last over 75 years, still continue to be held in high esteem by their people. In elections to state assemblies and parliament they, in a majority of cases proved their sway among the people. On the other hand, those who begged for peoples’ votes with folded hands during election campaigns become masters (with very few exceptions) of the people once they get elected. They luxuriate at the cost of the people. The erstwhile princely states surrendered their properties and lands running into ₹tens of crores to integrate with the Union of India. In return, the then government at the Centre promised to pay them privy purses in token of nation’s gratitude to them. The amount of privy purses to them ranged from ₹5000 to ₹one and two lakhs annually. Only 5-6 erstwhile rulers, like Hyderabad and Patiala, were given a privy purse of about ₹42 lakhs, later reduced to ₹ 20 lakhs. The late PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi abolished this constitutional obligation altogether. According to reports, the Parliamentarians are given ₹ 50,000 (increased to ₹one lakh, but reduced by 30% for a year because of Covid-19 pandemic) as monthly salary, electorate allowance of ₹ 40,000, ₹15,000 as office expenses and ₹30,000 as Secretarial assistance expenses, which works out to a total of ₹1,40,000 per month to each person. In addition, they are also provided with 34 free journeys by air and unlimited rail and road journeys across a year. Above all this is ₹5 crore placed at their disposal every year as Local Area Development Fund. India adopted the UK’s Westminster style of parliamentary democracy. The main functions of the UK — and Indian — Parliament are (1) to check and challenge the work of the Government (scrutiny); (2) to make and change laws (legislation); (3) to debate the important issues of the day (debating); and to check and approve Government spending (budget/taxes). The way the two houses of Parliament — the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha — functioned during the just concluded Monsoon session — and earlier sessions too —leaves no one in doubt that parliamentarians in India have just the rights to pay, perks, privileges and other facilities but no duties at all either towards the country and the people who voted for them. The conduct of a section of parliamentarians in the temple of democracy, the parliament, has not made the people of the country to raise their heads with pride. Before the session commenced a section of members had left no one in doubt that they were determined not to let both the houses of parliament to function. The meetings the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman held with the opposition leaders on the eve of the session for a peaceful going proved of no consequence. The Prime Minister and other ministers in the house and outside declared that they were ready to discuss and debate any issue in the house. As the session commenced the opposition looked united not to let the parliament function and discharge its obligation towards the people. The question arises: Did the people give their mandate to their representatives for the conduct they exhibited in the house? Outside the house, the leaders alleged that the ruling party was denying them their right to speak but in the house it was just uproar and nothing else. A section of the parliamentarians demanded repeal of the CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the three agricultural laws. A minority of parliamentarians seems to be trying to impose their will on the majority, a negation of the spirit of democracy. They accuse the ruling party of being fascist. But the boot seems to be in the other leg. They don’t have with them the strength of majority or logic but only the road-roller weight of shouting, unruly and rowdy behavior on their side. Further, the house of parliament is not the place where political parties should promote their political agenda at public cost. What was the signal the parliamentarians sent out to children, young, adults and the elders of the country and other democracies of the world? It seems, they think that it is their divine political right to create ugly and rowdy scenes not to let parliament function. The disruptions in parliament have left the public exchequer bleed from two sides. One, the public representatives hold a tamasha at the cost of the people as they continue to draw full pay, allowances and perks. Two, by not allowing the house to conduct its legislative business the state exchequer, this time, was put to a further loss of ₹144 crores, i.e. ₹2.5 lakhs per minute. This situation also raises the question whether what they do in the house has the mandate of the people who elected them? Has it also the sanction of the Constitution? Or does this unruly conduct in the house forms a part of their parliamentary privileges? However, there has been an exception too. A public representative from Biju Janta Dal, Shri Jai Panda, did declare that he will not accept the salary for two months since parliament has not been able to work for the welfare of the people during this period. Amidst the ugly scenes and sloganeering some bills were passed by the parliament. This has attracted the ire of the Chief Justice of India Justice NV Ramana over bills hurriedly passed without debate and discussion. This raises another question: Can a minority in a house hold the majority to ransom preventing the parliament from performing its constitutional functions? If it can, then it will mean minority sitting lord over the majority, a negation of the spirit of democracy. It is time to remedy the situation lest we are rendered a laughing stock of all. The honour and prestige of the country and the future of democracy is at stake. *** The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator

Friday, August 6, 2021

Constitution and Law Subject to ‘Secular-Liberal’ Nod? Some more innocent than others

Constitution and Law Subject to ‘Secular-Liberal’ Nod? Some more innocent than others By Amba Charan Vashishth It is unfortunate that for political mileage people in politics can go to any length. They can dance to the tunes death even. It is immaterial whether the cause of death of a person is an accident, enmity between two individuals or groups, and even rape. It is natural that the victim or the accused must belong to some caste, religion, sex, political party or region, and be rich or poor. That makes it easier for them to make it a case of conflict between individuals and a section of society. The country is replete with such instances. The latest is the death of Jesuit Father Stan Swamy. To an extent this has also resulted in politicalisation of crime and vice versa. Death loves every human being on earth. It is an unrequited love, one sided affair. No person in this universe, on the other hand, loves death. Everybody loves to live; none to die. Demise of any person is a matter of sorrow and grief. It is the greatness of India’s culture and traditions that people do not go uninvited to their closest of friends and nearest of relatives to join them in any celebration of a happy occasion — a marriage, a birthday, a promotion and the like. At the same time, they do not miss to hasten to join, uninvited, to share the grief and sorrow of the family of their fiercest enemy on the loss of their dear and near one. THE DEPARTED SOUL Further, a person’s faults, shortcomings and, even his crimes and sins, get consigned to oblivion with his cremation. Only positive qualities of head and heart are left behind to be narrated and recollected time and again. It is this great tradition that makes us all stand together to condole the death of Jesuit Father Stan Swamy. There are exceptions too. Some of the 84-year old frail Father’s friends and admirers — the ‘liberal-secular’ intelligentsia and a section of the electronic and print media — as is their wont, have gone to the extent of declaring that he, in the words of the prominent writer Nayantara Sahgal, in her article “DEATH OF A PRIEST” in the Indian Express (July 12, 2021) did not die in the normal course, but was “killed”. This, she tries to make everyone believe, she witnessed from Dehradun what happened to him in the far away Mumbai. Although the investigating agency found “No evidence of any wrongdoing” yet, she goes on, he was “arrested and put behind bars” for “sedition and subversion” in the Bhima Koregaon case. It is worth recalling that Mrs. Nayantara Sahgal is the same veteran novelist and writer whose conscience had once earlier in 2015 felt so severely hurt that she launched the ‘award wapsi’ campaign in protest against increasing ‘intolerance’ towards right to dissent in the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence" on the “reign of terror". She added, “The ruling ideology today is a fascist ideology and that is what is worrying me now. We did not have a fascist government until now... I am doing whatever I believe in." In this way Mrs. Sahgal wishes the Indian people to believe that the state of Emergency declared by her aunt, the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1975 imposing draconian laws, censorship on media, gagging freedom of speech, putting thousands of leaders and workers of political parties in jails, was not a “reign of terror” and not “a fascist ideology”. It implies that the Emergency was an instance of an ideal democracy in letter and spirit because, she adds, “We did not have a fascist government until now”. 1975 EMERGENCY WAS ‘NO FASCIST’ Mrs. Sahgal usurped the functions both of the investigating agency and the court to add that Father Swamy’s house was raided and “No evidence of any wrongdoing is found”. She goes further: “Indian jails are filled with men and women, known and unknown, who have dared to fight for them (Adivasis)”. A letter signed by some eminent members of the ‘liberal-secular’ intelligentsia and politics including the Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, some sitting and former chief ministers, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, and others, was sent to the President of India expressing “deep outrage” and demanding of him to direct “your government” to act against those responsible for “foisting false cases” against Father Stan and his continuous detention in jail on “trumped up charges“. It, in effect, amounts to expression of their lack of faith in one of the strong pillars of the constitution and democracy — the judiciary. The signatories are, thus, guilty of generating, deliberately or otherwise, lack of trust in the rule of law and the Constitution in the minds of the general public. BY COURTS, NOT GOVERNMENT One wonders what made these elite persons to forget that bail to an accused (Father Stan in the present case) is not granted or refused by a government but by courts of law on merits. According to charges, Stan Swamy not only subscribed to Maoist ideology but was also connected to Maoists who used that ideology as a weapon in their war against the state. Further, after considering his medical report about his illness it was the court which had ordered that the Jesuit preacher be admitted in a private hospital (which was not an ordinary medical institution). Furthermore, Father Stan was only technically in jail at that time; actually he was in the hospital as much a free person as were other patients there. The jail or police officials were there outside his room just for his security. One of Father’s disciples has said that he “spoke everyday to Swamy for a month”. An ordinary prisoner in a jail is not extended such a liberty. THEY PREFER HOSPITAL TO JAIL It is a well-known fact that wealthy and resourceful people when denied pre-arrest bail and are arrested, they complain of chest pain, difficulty in breathing etc., in an effort to get shifted to a hospital from jail. The moment they get bail, they do not continue to stay in hospital but get instantly alright in the company of their family in the comforts of their homes. It is very common and normal to say that had the Jesuit preacher been admitted to this or that hospital, his precious life could have been saved. Just to quote a recent instance. Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee was admitted in the country’s premier Military Hospital at New Delhi. Unfortunately, despite best medical treatment, attention and efforts, his precious life could not be saved. One cannot say that he did not receive proper treatment he deserved as a former First Citizen of the country. No hospital, however prominent it may be in the country or the world, can claim that it had no history of deaths of patients. GUARANTEE HUNDRED PERCENT In this connection a joke is very relevant to this controversy. A patient went to a doctor and asked whether he would be fully cured of his ailment. The doctor forcefully assured: “Hundred percent”. To stress his point further he added, “Only one out of ten persons suffering from this disease is cured and nine of my patients suffering from this very ailment have since died”. NO HUMAN RIGHTS OF INNOCENTS Naxalite and Maoist organizations are guilty of killing thousands of innocent civilians — men, women, children and senior citizens —, police, military and paramilitary personnel performing their official duties towards the nation. Yet these diehard criminals and those acting as go-betweens get the protection of their Human Rights (HR). What an irony? Our HR activists and organizations burn midnight oil and shed tears for protection of HRs of those guilty of brutally violating the HRs of innocent people to their right to life and live peacefully. These HR organizations lack any record of having worked for protection of the rights of innocents and having done anything for them. The innocent people, in their view, seem to have been born to be slaughtered, like animals, at the hands of Naxalite-Maoists and other criminals. But even animal rights are recognized and protected. Torturing and slaughtering of animals is a crime, punishable. There are organizations for protection of animal rights and these rightly do. A few years back, to cite a single instance, Dr. Vinayak Sen was found guilty of sedition for helping Maoists and sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Chhattisgarh. Presently, he is on bail granted by the Supreme Court. He is hailed by Indian and international human rights organizations as a “renowned civil rights activist”. The court had found him guilty of carrying letters with seditious content between dreaded Naxal prisoner Narayan Sanyal and Kolkata-based businessman Piyush Guha, an alleged Maoist sympathiser. In the police diaries, Sanyal is the mastermind behind the attack on former Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu and the Jehananabad jailbreak in Bihar that facilitated escape of 340 prisoners including Maoists. Dr. Sen’s appeal against conviction is pending with the SC. Yet, within days of his being released on bail by the SC, he was appointed by the UPA government of Dr. Manmohan Singh to a prestigious health committee of the then Planning Commission. This single case of Father Stan who died in a hospital has made the ‘liberal-secular’ society cry aghast but they have always remained blind, dumb and deaf to other cases, to quote just the recent ones, of dozens of people killed, women raped and property destroyed in the aftermath of West Bengal elections, The HR commission has castigated the TMC government. Palghar lynching of Hindu priests, Kashmiri Pandits who were made to leave their homes and hearths to live a miserable life as refugees in their own country. But in these cases the HR activists and organizations remain silent. THEY FORGET DR MOOKERJEE DEATH Former J&K chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah were very sporting to sign a letter to President about the death of Father Stan. They forgot that it was in the custody of J&K police under the then CM Sheikh Abdullah that All-India Jana Sangh President Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee died in mysterious circumstances without any medical aid. He was not charged of any heinous crime. He was a political leader who had just entered J&K without a permit to show that it was just like other States of the country where a citizen India did not need a permit to enter. Why did their father and grandfather or PM Jawaharlal Nehru not hold an independent and impartial inquiry into Mukherjea’s death? Was Dr. Mookerjee less innocent and his life less precious than others? It is interesting to recall the way another signatory to the letter to President, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar too sat on judgement on the conduct of his party leader and Maharashtra Home Minister (HM) Anil Deshmukh against whom allegations of bribery had been made in writing by no less a person than his former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. Shri Pawar on March 22, 2021 declared that the charges against HM Deshmukh were false and reiterated that they will back the minister and not seek his resignation over the allegations. But later Deshmukh not only resigned but is also at pains to save his skin. It is a travesty of the politics and the right to freedom of opinion and expression that whenever people in politics, media, intelligentsia are hauled up for an alleged crime, there is a chorus of voices to counter allege that people in opposition to the government are being denied their right to criticize and oppose the government. HABITUAL CRIMINALS, HABITUALLY INNOCENT From the nature of commotion that is raised when police, CBI, Enforcement Directorate or any other agency acts against a politician, a newspaper magnate, a journalist, a non-Hindu seer, anybody from the film world, it looks, there is need for the Constitution to be amended. During the British rule, some castes and tribes had been identified as “habitual criminals”. On that analogy the Constitution needs to identify all these individuals, groups and institutions as “habitually innocent” who cannot, directly or indirectly, under any circumstances commit a crime and, therefore, these sections should be declared touch-me-nots for the government agencies for violation of any law of the land so that the controversies, the like of which arose in the aftermath of action taken against Father Stan Swamy and Dr. Vinayak Sen, do not arise. *** The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst and commentator.

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

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