Sunday, July 29, 2012


No crime if life is "private and personal"?

On July 27, 2012 a Delhi court announced the DNA test report on the paternity dispute filed by Rohit Shekhar: "Tiwari is reported to be the biological father of Rohit Shekhar and Ujjwala Sharma is reported to be the biological mother".
This has put at rest the long battle Rohit Shekhar waged to establish his paternity. After the verdict Shekhar said: "I am not the illegitimate son, he is my illegitimate father".
But the most interesting has been the reaction of both the 87-year old Congress veteran and the Congress Party itself. Within 15 minutes of the DNA test report being out in Delhi, Mr. Tiwari reiterated his "full faith in the judiciary".  In a written statement issued at Dehradun the same day he said: "I would like to clarify that this is a fight of egos and selfishness of both parties". One party is the mother-sun duo, who is the second party?
"I have always avoided controversies", Mr. Tiwari went on. "Due to my simplicity, people close to me have victimized me through a conspiracy in my advanced age". Mind the words "simplicity" and "victimized".
Expressing his "sympathy for Rohit Shekhar" saying he has "no complaint against him", he deliberately avoided speaking about his mother Ujjwala.
Reiterating his "every right to live my private life according to my rules", he has a piece of advice to the media: "Please do not hype this issue unnecessarily…it is not right to interfere in the personal life of a person". He concludes with a sacred promise: "Till my last breath, I'll be committed to India's development".
In his reaction Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said: "We should not talk about somebody's personal issue like this. The party has nothing to do with it". (
There is a grain of truth – and irony – in Mr. Shekhar's statement that "I am not the illegitimate son, he is my illegitimate father".  Every individual – Mr. Tiwari included – has a right to his "private and personal life" as long as it does not infringe the social, cultural and legal ethos of the caste, community, region and the country one belongs.  He is not an ordinary individual; he is a Congress veteran who had been chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and later of Uttarakhand five times, besides holding constitutional posts like that of governor and a union minister for pretty long. He enjoyed physical relations and conjugal rights with a woman not his legally-wedded wife even while his legally wedded spouse was alive alive. That does violate the law of the land and, therefore, the matter becomes public.
Surprisingly, for political considerations neither the Human Rights Commission nor the National Commission for Women thought it fit to interfere in Ujjwala Sharma's case which they knew was highly combustible inferno.
To expect moral values from today's politicians is like running after catching hold of a golden goose. Yet, even if it is somebody's "private and personal life" he wishes to lead "according to my rules", it does impact the life of the people around him, those who vote for him, who make him occupy high public offices at public cost and, above all, the society he is part of .
Whatever right or wrong Mr. Tiwari may have committed if taken to its logical conclusion, then any wrong or crime, including corruption, a politician or even a bureaucrat commits is a part of his "private and personal life" because any material benefit he derives is for his personal self and not for the public. Every murder has a motive and the one committed by a minister or bureaucrat has a "private and personal" angle and, therefore, even if directly or indirectly connected with his public and official duty, the motive is only "private and personal".
Mr. A. Raja, Mr. Kalmadi and the like are facing charges of corruption. Any money they may have changed hands did not go to the public exchequer but to the private pockets. Therefore, how are they officially responsible? By the corollary of Mr. Tiwari's stand, the media should refrain from creating an unnecessary "hype" and "it is not right to interfere in the personal life of a person".
We Indians boast of being morally very high. But when we are caught in a compromising position, we shout from our housetop: It's our private and personal life in which the people have no right to pierce through.
The "private and personal life" theory could also be further stretched to claim innocence if a father kills his son and vice versa or one of the spouses kills the other because that too is a "private and personal life" of the individuals. The French embassy official who has recently been hauled up for rape of his 3-year daughter too could claim it his "private and personal life".
On the other hand, in western countries politicians and public men whom we consider morally and culturally very inferior, do not invoke the shield of "private and personal life" to conceal or justify their misconduct.
When Profumo scandal burst out in UK about three decades back, he simply resigned. When US President Bill Clinton got involved in Monica Lewinski scandal, he faced the impeachment proceedings but did not cry hoarse: It's my private and personal life.
Recently, as a Republican candidate for 2012 elections Sarah Palin was emerging a serious challenge to US President President Obama, but some scandals came to light of her sexual escapades.  She finally withdrew herself from the contest but did not raise her voice to say: It's my private and personal life.
It also remains a mystery: how many lives do our politicians and bureaucrats have?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The best prime ministerial material

The best prime ministerial material

Everyone in the Congress, including the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, sings only one chorus: Rahul Gandhi is the best prime ministerial material with great ability and capability to deliver the best. Dr. Singh is on record having volunteered a resignation if Mrs. Sonia Gandhi desired him to do so to pave the way for Rahul’s incarnation.
He remains, no doubt, the “most eligible bachelor”. But nobody is able to enumerate the rare “qualities” and parameters on which the rank and file of Congressmen discover in him all the wherewithals that would make him a “good” prime minister.
Rahul’s likely coronation as PM has been in the air since the country went in for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. But nobody says when. Though expected to be projected as the prime ministerial candidate then, it was not done. The Tehelka weekly even published an interview with Rahul in which he claimed that if he wanted, he could have been the Prime Minister at the age of 25.  Tehelka made history when it later denied that it was an interview.
In 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Congress increased its tally of wins from earlier 9 to 20 in Uttar Pradesh. The credit for the same was entirely given to Rahul’s campaign.
When UPA returned to power, there was speculation again. PM Manmohan Singh even offered him a ministerial berth but the Gandhi scion rejected it saying he wanted to gain more experience. He was made one of the general secretaries of the party though he appeared the most important next only to his mother. He was made incharge of the NSUI and Youth Congress.
Though never assigned any special assignment, yet Rahul assumed one he liked to make his mark as a matter of right. He took upon himself the Herculean task of taking to the shore the drowning boat of Congress in Bihar. As result of his strenuous and aggressive campaign, Congress score of earlier 8 seats went down to just 4. But nobody blamed him for the fiasco.
Rahul’s spirits were not down, not to speak of his being out. This time he shouldered the daunting task of reviving the lost glory of Congress in Uttar Pradesh from where he is an MP alongwith his mother. For about two years, he undertook a whirlwind solo election campaign with other leaders just dancing to his tunes. He became a champion of Bundelkhand region. On his demand the Prime Minster on May 22, 2011 doled out a special package of `7,266 crores with another `200 crore to solve the drinking problem of Bundelkhand. He credited Rahul for this bounty. Yet the Congress hope to reap a bumper crop of votes was dashed to the ground. He was able to get money for Bundelkhand but not votes from the people.  
He employed all the tricks of the trade to gain public support: gimmicks, histrionics and drama. He surprised everyone, including the then Mayawati government, by undertaking a tour of Bhatta Parsaul defying prohibitory orders riding on the pillion of a motorcycle followed by a gang of supporters. But the gimmick failed to earn the cash of votes. Congress failed badly here too.
In the end, Congress could just gain marginally, increasing its success tally to 28, a gain of six seats. In his own parliamentary constituency of Amethi, he could get only 2 seats out of 6, while his mother drew a blank in her Rae Bareily constituency. Same is the story in the local body elections held last month. Everybody else was responsible for this fiasco, but not the mother and son.
Rahul’s experiment with youth Congress and student bodies and zeal for injecting young blood in elections failed miserably in Kerala and Tamilnadu. Most of the ‘Amul babies’, as Kerala ex-chief minister Achutanandan called them, failed to make it to win. Similar was the fate in Punjab.
He has in his parliamentary career made, albeit read, only two speeches in Lok Sabha. The maiden one, much hyped on education and employment was watched by his doting mother by shifting from front row to the back one to have a glimpse of his performance. The second one was on the Lokpal Bill in 2011 at the height of Anna’s movement against corruption. He claimed it as a “game changer”. At the most it can only be called a game spoiler because nothing has happened since then and the stalemate continues as before.
His performance has rightly been described as cameo by none other than one of the Gandhi family loyalist, Union Minister Salman Khurshid, like an obscure batsman hitting 40 runs with just 15 balls being hailed as the greatest achiever, only to be seen being out for a duck in subsequent innings consecutively. He does make ‘cameo’ appearances and performances just to slide into the background soon afterwards.
Whenever the party or government is in crisis, the great leader is nowhere to be seen or heard. Recall the recent NCP-Congress standoff at the Centre and in Maharashtra and the effort of the party to rope in the support of Mamta’s TC and others. He was visible at the time of farewell to President Pratibha Patil and swearing-in of new President but not audible with his views on anything.
He is hardly seen open his mouth on vital issues, problems and crisis tormenting the country – terror, crime against women and senior citizens, price rise, inflation, corruption, aam aadmi’s plight and the like. He is yet to be seen or heard on the Assam riots plaguing the State. In Andhra the Congress is facing an existential crisis. But his expertise and acumen is not being put to douse the flames there. He has as yet to give his attention to revive the falling fortunes of Congress in Gujarat where elections are due in another three months. He himself and his Party, it appears, doesn’t want to foray into lands that are not safe for him and the party.
On July 18 Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi did break her silence when she said, "Rahul has to take a decision" himself on assuming greater responsibility in the organization and government. ( But the next day Rahul came out in the typical Lakhnavi style of pehle aap, pehle aap saying, "I will play a more proactive role in the party and the government. The decision has been taken, the timing is up to my two bosses -- the Congress President and the Prime Minister."  (
So the mystery remains: Who will bell the cat and when?
In spite of all that, he remains the best bet for the Congress. His only qualification and merit at the moment seems: he is the Gandhi family scion.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

हास्‍य-व्‍यंग : 'हाय' – किसी की कराहट, किसी की मुस्‍काहट

हाय – किसी की कराहट, किसी की मुस्‍काहट

बेटा:   पिताजी, हाय।
पिता:  बेटा, क्‍या तकलीफ है?
बेटा:   नहीं पिताजी। मुझे कोई तकलीफ नहीं। मैं तो बस आपका अभिवादन कर रहा हूं।
पिता:  अभिवादन, कराह कर, हाय–हाय कर?
बेटा:   पिताजी, आजकल नमस्‍ते, नमस्‍कार , प्रणाम का चलन नहीं रहा। अब तो हाय-हाय ही       ससम्‍मान अभिवादन है।
पिता:  ओह। अब मैं समझा कि उस दिन सड़क पर एक घायल क्‍यों परेशान था? मुझे बताया कि एक पैदल चल रहे व्‍यक्ति को एक गाड़ी ने टक्‍कर मारी और वह भाग गया। घायल अवस्‍था में वह व्‍यक्ति फुटपाथ पर लेटा-लेटा कराहता रहा। वह पास से गुज़रते पैदल या स्‍कूटर सवार को कराहते हुये 'हाय' कर सहायता की आशा करता तो सब उसकी 'हाय-हाय' के जवाब में हाथ हिला कर मुस्‍कराते हुये 'हाय-हाय' कर आगे निकल जायें। वह काफी समय पीड़ा में 'हाय-हाय' करता रह गया।
बेटा:   तब पिताजी यह तो एक समस्‍या है। आदमी जब आहत होता है तो उसके मुंह से तो 'हाय' अपने-आप ही निकल जाती है।
पिता:  यह तो है।
बेटा:   फिर ऐसे आपात समय में व्‍यक्ति 'हाय' न करे तो क्‍या करे?
पिता:  यह तो बेटा शिष्‍टाचार का पाठ पढ़ाने वाले उन आधुनिक सम्‍भ्रान्‍त महानुभावों से ही पूछ। 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

President’s election stands vitiated beyond redemption

President’s election stands vitiated beyond redemption
EC can’t shirk responsibility

Whatever may be the final result, but one thing is clear: The present election to the country’s top office of the President of India stands vitiated beyond redemption. It will go down in the history as, so far, the most controversial one after, perhaps, the 1972 election which returned Mr. V. V. Giri as the President. It was Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s call for ‘conscience vote’ that tilted the scales in favour of independent candidate and tilted tables against her own party’s official candidate Mr. Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy of whom she herself was one of the proposers when he filed his nomination papers.

‘Conscience vote’

The present election has a different story, a different angle and a different dimension. AS everybody knows, the choice of the presidential candidate by the Congress Party was dictated more by political expediency than by merit or the free will of the people who mattered in the party. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi had to take a final call because of the attitude of supporting parties and not by her wish to see Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in the Rashtrapati Bhawan. But now that he is the candidate, it is equally her responsibility and that of her government to ensure that he wins and wins comfortably. But for a ny last minute rethinking or calls for “conscience vote”, the election of Mr. Mukherjee is a foregone conclusion.

Yet, as everybody knows, there are many a slip between the cup and the lip. That is why the Congress is not taking chances. Its ally, WB chief minister’s TMC remains as elusive as ever. Nobody knows whom her party will vote on July 19. That is why the Congress and its government are not taking chances. They are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that all their allies and those from outside the alliance who have committed their support to Mr. Mukherjee are kept in good humour.

Special economic packages

That is why after Mr. Mukherjee had filed his nominations, Manmohan Singh government has sanctioned special economic packages to two of its just-won friends to support Congress candidate: Bihar ruled by JD(U) given ` twenty thousand crores and Uttar Pradesh ruled by Samajwadi Party ` fifty thousand crores as special economic packages, from the public exchequer, not from the Congress Party funds.

What is more surprising is the fact that the Election Commission (EC) of India which has the constitutional duty to supervise and superintend the elections is failing to discharge its obligations to ensure a “free and fair” presidential poll and that no candidate/political party is able to fight the election from a better position of strength and advantage. Further, it has also to ensure that every candidate has access to the public resources on equal footing.

Election to the office of the President of India is in no way different from that of a general election to Parliament and State assemblies. Agreed that in this election the common elector is not the voter but for all intents and purposes the common voter takes part in an indirect way through the exercise of votes by his/her elected representatives. Under the election law, the collegium of MPs, MLAs and MLCs are in no way different from the common voter in a general election. Even the value of an MP/MLA’s vote is determined by the number of electors in his constituency in the State. Therefore, just as it is the duty of the EC to prevent the government and political parties in a general election from doing anything that puts an unhealthy allurement/inducement or pressure or influence on the voter in a particular manner, so is it duty bound  in the present election. Had it been a general election to Parliament or a State assembly, the Union government stood barred from  announcing any special package to any State, as the Manmohan government has done for Bihar and UP. This act of the Union government put an ‘unhealthy and undue’ influence and amounts to an ‘allurement/inducement’ to the voters (in this case MPs and MLAs belonging to Bihar and UP and belonging to JD(U) and Samajwadi Party) to vote in a particular manner.

Why no code of conduct?

As soon as the EC announces the election schedule for a State assembly or Parliament it instantly enforces the Model Code of Conduct for Political Parties that prohibits from doing what the Manmohan government has recently done after the announcement of elections to the office of President and filing of nominations by the respective candidates. Why did EC not do it in the case of the current elections and kept its eyes and ears shut to what the Union government has done to cast unhealthy influence on ‘voters’ remains unexplained.

ATimes of India report on July 13 stated that from now onwards all HP government decisions to remain under EC lens in spite of the fact that the term of the present HP government and State assembly expires in January 2013, about six months away. EC has not as yet announced the poll schedule. Yet, HP government decisions have been put under “EC lens”. But what wrongs are being done when the election process for President is right under way, the “EC lens” has stopped working. Does it not mean that EC is employing double standards? Does it also not put question mark on the EC profession of impartiality, fairness and freedom?

So whatever it is, whoever is at fault and guilty of dereliction of its duty and responsibility to ensure a free and fair election, the current election of the President of India in addition to the unresolved controversy of Mr. Mukherjee holding office(s) of profit, stands vitiated beyond redemption.                                                                  ***

Friday, July 6, 2012

ELECTION OF PRESIDENT – A Post-poll legal Battle Appears Imminent

A Post-poll legal Battle Appears Imminent

By Amba Charan Vashishth

The court of the people will make its verdict public through its elected representatives in State assemblies and Parliament on July 19. But that may not be final verdict. The people's court verdict may ultimately be challenged in the courts of law. It may put a question mark on the result itself. An indication to this effect has already been given by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Mr. P. A. Sangma, the only opponent of Congress candidate Mr. Pranab Mukherjee.

This ugly situation seems to be developing not on account of the manipulations of his only rival but by the overwhelming overconfidence generated by the numbers that seemed to be favouring the Congress nominee. His poll managers failed to be vigilant to ensure that he did not hold any office of profit the day he filed his nomination papers. Perhaps they erred into believing that the Office of Profit Act 2006 had exempted the office of the Chairman of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata from being so. They seem to have forgotten that exemption provided in this Act applied only to the MPs and MLAs and not to the office of President.

Mr.  P. A. Sangma had urged rejection of the nomination papers of his only rival Mr. Pranab Mukherjee on the ground that the latter continued to hold an 'office of profit' as ISI chairman.  Congress Party was quick to dismiss the contention as "factually incorrect" and claimed that Mr. Mukherjee had resigned this post on June 20 "well before filing the nomination".

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P. K. Bansal who alongwith Home Minister P. Chidambaram argued the case on behalf of Mr. Mukherjee said they told the Returning Officer that Mr. Mukherjee had resigned as ISI Chairman and the same had been forwarded to the President of the Institute. The Returning Officer accepted the argument as also Mr. Mukherjee's papers, they said.

No speaking order

The stage for the constitutional wrangling has been set by the decision of the returning officer for Presidential election V. K. Agnihotri. He did not make public copy of any speaking order issued by him. All that he told reporters was that he ”overruled the objections raised " by Mr. Sangma after "making summary inquiries, as required under the relevant provisions of the presidential and vice-presidential Election Act regarding conduct of scrutiny of nomination papers and after hearing both the parties in both the cases" on July 3,  "as they were untenable and lacked merit."

Article 58(2) of the Constitution provides that a ”person shall not be eligible for election as President if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Governments". Therefore, as per requirements of law Mr. Mukherjee should not have been holding "any office of profit" at the time of filing his nomination papers.

Acceptance of resignation vital

On the directions of the Election Commission, the Returning Officer has supplied a copy of his order to Mr. Sangma. Although the text has so far not been made public, but BJP has claimed that it is not a "speaking order" and it only mentions the 'fact' of Mr. Mukherjee having resigned. The mandatory requirement is not just his resignation but the fact that he did not hold "any office of profit" on the day and the time he filed his nomination papers. By mere resigning or his resignation having been forwarded to any authority does not imply that he ceases to hold his post. This he does only after his resignation had been accepted.

Merely by resigning one does not cease to hold the office. An individual who resigns as a minister, an MP or MLA does  get relieved of his office not on the time and date he resigned but from the time and date his resignation is accepted by the President or Governor, or Speaker, as the case may be. Therefore, Mr. Mukherjee's resignation does not mean that he ceased to hold his office of profit mere by the fact of his resigning.

The government or Mr. Mukherjee have so far failed to make public a notification to the effect that Mr. Mukherjee's resignation from the office (of profit) of ISI Chairman has been accepted on  a date prior to his filing of nomination papers. The President of the ISI has so far not opened his mouth. Any post-dated notification declaring an ante-dated acceptance of his resignation would only be an after-thought, bad in law and will substantiate Mr. Sangma's charge. This fact has vitiated the very atmosphere of the election process.

Signatures 'forged'?

BJP has even challenged that Mr. Mukherjee's signatures on the resignation are forged. It has released two different signatures. Reacting to the charge, Mr. Mukherjee wondered whether he would himself forge his own signatures.  But this reaction does not clear the cloud of doubt. A minister cannot have two different sets of signatures. Moreover, whenever a minister takes office, his specimen signatures are sent to various agencies. These are the signatures he has to use in all his official communications. No person can afford to have two sets of signatures using one today and the other tomorrow.

The new development has only vitiated the whole election process. It has opened floodgates of suspicion. Anybody going in for an election petition has a strong case. There are numerous instances where elections to parliament and state assemblies have been set aside or in a case of direct election, the loser having been declared the winner because of wrong acceptance or rejection of nomination papers of a candidate.                                                                               ***