Friday, February 28, 2014

Ordinance route for Bills may embarrass Rahul

Ordinance route for Bills may embarrass Rahul

By Amba Charan Vashishth

 Media is agog with reports that under intense pressure from Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, the UPA government is likely to approach the President of India for his assent for the promulgation of ordinances on anti-corruption Bills which government failed to get through in Parliament during the just concluded extended winter session. The matter is likely to be taken up with the President shortly.
An indication to this effect was given by Rahul Gandhi himself. "These bills were in national interest and we felt the opposition would help pass them. I would request the prime minister to bring ordinance on these laws, if possible," he told reporters on February 21. Everybody knows that Rahul's "request" amounts to a diktat for the party and government. Therefore, it is not wrong to presume that the government machinery must have been set in motion to realize his wish sooner than later, particularly in view of the fact that the schedule for Lok Sabha elections is likely to be announced by the Election Commission in a week or ten days. Needless to say that motivation is only the electoral interest of Congress.
Rahul is now, as BJP leaders Mrs. Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley put it, a "late entrant" to jump into anti-corruption crusade. The number two in Congress hierarchy Rahul Gandhi hit a record by maintaining a stoic silence and proving himself a deliberate idler during the last four years when UPA government made history in scoring scam after scam. Whether it was 2G spectrum, Commonwealth Games, Coalgate, Railgate and the like, Rahul Gandhi never gave vent to his views and feelings on these corruption cases which brought shame to the country. There have been a spate of corruption allegations against Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley twice challenged both Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi to open their mouth on these charges. Both preferred silence. His new-found love for honesty and probity in public life seems to have been ignited not by his conviction but by the fact that Congress suffered the worst electoral defeats in last December elections to five State assemblies and there are reports that it may have to pay heavily in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Blaming the opposition for the failure to get these bills through is ironical. This time it was more the Congress party itself than anybody else responsible for the daily disruptions in the two houses of Parliament. The fact that it was even Congress ministers and MPs who swelled to the well of the house to disrupt proceedings is an indication of the loosening of the hold of Congress supremo over her party.
Whatever it may be, Rahul attempt at the ordinance route is sure to boomerang both on him and the UPA. It may yet again meet the fate the ordinance that Dr. Manmohan Singh sent to nullify the Supreme Court judgement which had ruled that public representatives should cease to hold their posts once they were convicted in a court of law. But then Rahul jumped to save Manmohan government of embarrassment by jumping with the "nonsense" tag to the ordinance. But this time it is Rahul himself who is the hand and brain behind these ordinances. But the Constitution, tradition, past precedents and morality are not this time on the side of Rahul-inspired UPA.
Article 123 (2)(a) of the Constitution provides that an Ordinance so promulgated " shall be laid before both House of Parliament and shall cease to operate at the expiration of six weeks from the reassemble of Parliament…" Since the present House of Parliament is not going to reassemble and a new one will come into being in May this year, it is ethically wrong for an outgoing government to bind both the successor government and Parliament to approve an enactment in the framing of which both had no role.

Secondly, there has been no precedent or tradition to promulgate an ordinance on the eve of demitting office and a few days before the schedule for Lok Sabha elections is announced and the Model Code of Conduct for Political Parties comes into force.

Thirdly, the President too is not bound by such an advice by the outgoing Council of Ministers whose mandate is about to expire and the enactments are going to tie the hands of future governments for a law whose only merit is the electoral interests of the outgoing ruling party. Further, UPA-II is a minority government subsisting on the support of political parties like the BSP and SP from outside. Neither the government nor the President can presume their support for these measures because at different occasions they have taken a stand not supportive of the government.


It is interesting to recall that in a similar situation the then Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao in 1996 had sent two ordinances to the President for his assent — one to grant reservation to Christian Dalits and the other, to shorten the poll process. The then President Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma had returned the two ordinances politely refusing to approve.

Going by these instances, the fate of any endeavour to rush through the Ordinance route for pending bills can be no different. It will just prove a new discomfiture for the beleaguered UPA.                                                      ***


Sunday, February 23, 2014

KEJRIWAL — The Villain of an Electoral Tragedy

KEJRIWAL — The Villain of an Electoral Tragedy

If politics is the art of sowing the seeds of false promises —  promises beyond fulfillment  in the world of reality — to reap a harvest of political and electoral dividends, there can be no match to the expertise of the AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal who resigned as Delhi chief minister on February 14. He was acting word by word, step by step as per a well-written script with a pre-determined finale. Since taking over he was feeling uneasy in  fulfilling the promises made to the people at the time of elections. Since AAP itself did not hope to get a majority, Kejriwal promised the moon and the stars to the people.  People were taken in by his glibe talk. He had even promised a separate manifesto for each assembly constituency — a promise that remained a prisoner of his words and never appeared on paper even. He seemed sure that Party will not get a majority and, therefore, it will provide him a chance to make people realise their mistake by telling that had they voted for AAP he would have fetched heaven right at their doors in Delhi.

A vagabond of street agitations and 'hero' of Jantar Mantar, Kejriwal fell victim to his own inflated ego and untamed tongue. He  was each day feeling uncomfortable in the CM's chair. Being high on rehetorics and low on performance people were getting impatient with Kejriwal. He now came to realise that his world of promises was turning into a hell of reality for him.

Kejriwal once claimed that he had done so much in so short a time that no government in the past had been able to accomplish even in a decade. But the words of his language  are not a reality on the ground. He did announce a 50 percent reduction in power tarriff but had yet to be reflected in the bills the consumers received. The same is true about free 700 litres of water per day.  On the contrary, complaints of people about erratic water and power supply increased with the dawn of AAP government. Further, the day he quit office, he got a ` 372 crore subsidty approved from the Vidhan Sabha to benefit not the consumer but the power supply company he condemned.

Kejriwal had, surprisingly, been speaking ill of the Ambani owned power company and praising the one owned by TATA. The TATA company on January 29 wrote to the Government that should there be increase in the prices of gas in March (which Oil Minister Veerappa Moily was sure it will happen) the power supply rates be increased by 28 paisa per unit from April. Kejriwal withheld this vital information deliberately from the people.
He had won the election on the plank of eradicating corruption. All that he achieved in his 49 day rule was catching hold of 3 police constables for graft. It speaks volumes for his war against this malady.  

That the highly moralist AAP does not mind making utterly false claims became apparent when addressing a CII conference Kajriwal himself claimed — and his crony Ms Sazia Ilmi repeated —that a survey conducted by the Transparency International India (TII) had revealed that after Kejriwal government took over the extent of corruption in Delhi had come down. But AAP had to lick the bitter taste the truth of its own falsehood when TII nailed the lie by calling it "factually incorrect"  and that they had "not undertaken any study on corruption in Delhi" adding that "there is no question of any such published or unpublished report". Veteran journalist Kanchan Gupta has described it as a "moral corruption". Ultimately, AAP had to apologise to TII.

On the eve of Kejriwal government taking over, the Union Government had increased the rates of CNG and LPG.  Kejriwal had declared that he would give relief both to the housewives and the auto-rickshaws who had both been AAP's staunch supporters.
After the Rail Bhawan dharna natak fiasco, Kejriwal saw the writing on the wall. He felt convinced that he would no longer be able to take the people for a ride and indefinitely blackmail the helplessness of Congress to support him to keep the BJP out of power at every cost. Since then he was on the look out for a safe passage to come out as a martyr to the cause for which he had made no sacrifice.

As a CM Kejriwal is expected to be fully conversant with the Constitution and laws of the land.   Instead he tried to turn it a virtue of his.  Replying to a debate in the Delhi assembly he valiantly declared that to honour and protect the Constitution he was ready to make any sacrifice, his life even.  He flaunted a copy of the Constitution to claim that nowhere did it provide that the consent of the Lt. Governor/Union Government was necessary before placing a bill like the Delhi Lokpal for consideration of the Vidhan Sabha. This he said after on the insistence of the Opposition the Speaker had read out Lt. Governor's message to him saying that as "the Janlokpal Bill is being introduced in the Legislative Assembly without following the procedure ……, I hereby send the "message" under section 9(2) of the Government of NCT Delhi Act, 1991 to the Legislative Assembly not to consider the Bill unless it is introduced with the recommendations of the Lt. Governor".

As per section 22(3) of the Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991, the LG said, it being a "Financial Bill" is to be sent to the Lt. Governor for recommendations and as per rule 55(1) of Transaction of Business of Government of National Capital Territory Rules, 1993, the Lt. Governor is required to make a prior reference to the Central government before being introduced in Legislative Assembly. The said Bill has yet not been duly placed before me by the Government of NCT of Delhi", the LG added.

Thus both Kejriwal and the Speaker violated the law and the Lt. Governor's "message" by introducing the Bill. He duped the people by falsely telling that both BJP and Congress opposed the Janlokpal Bill. What the opposition did was to frustrate the attempt of Kejriwal government to defy law. The opposition could not be privy to the "anarchist" Kejriwal bypassing the law and the Constitution.

Kejriwal had another reason too. He wanted to free himself from the chains of running a government during the run-up to Parliament elections. In one breath he says he will fight Lok Sabha pitted against BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narinder Modi from wherever he contests to Parliament except from Gujarat. In another breath, he says he will not contest Parliament election.

It is interesting to recall that when Kejriwal formed his party, he had declared that there will be no high command in his party. It is the people who will decide the candidates and its policies. But it is not so now. The party has already announced 20 candidates for Parliament election without consulting even the party workers, not to speak of the aam aadmi.
A party which failed to deliver goods, come up to the expectations of the people and failed to live up to the promises, is seeking a mandate to run the country. A person who could not run a small union territory government of Delhi having just 7 MPs for 50 days is hoping that the people will not go by his performance but by tall promises and claims to give a strong and stable government at the Centre.

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, on the other hand, is seeking people's mandate on the strength of 14 years of giving a clean and efficient government which set new norms of good governance and set model of development.  He has a vision and determination to do what he says and say what he does.                                                                                    *** 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

शुभ विवाह का उद्घाटन

शुभ विवाह का उद्घाटन

एक मन्‍त्री महोदय को किसी स्‍मर्थक ने अपनी बेटी की शादी पर बुलाया। जब मन्‍त्रीजी पहुंचे तो उन्‍होंने देखा कि वहां न तो कोई मंच है और न ही कोई लाउड स्‍पीकर जहां से वह अपना भाषण दे सकें। फिर उन्‍होंने सोचा कि उन्‍हें कोई उद्घाटन करवाने के लिये आमन्त्रि‍त किया गया होगा। पर वह कुछ भी उन्‍हें न लगा। इतनी देर में वर-वधू सात फेरे के लिये उठे। दोनों के कंधे पर दो चुन्नियां बांध कर एक वस्‍त्र टंगा हुआ था। उन्‍होंने साथ खड़े व्‍यक्ति को पूछा, ''कैंची कहां है\''

अब वह मन्‍त्री महोदय की बात कैसे टाल सकता था। वह जल्‍दी से एक कैंची लाया और उनके हाथ थमा दी। मन्‍त्री जी ने भी आव देखा न ताव झट से वर-वधू के कंधे के पीछे लटकी चुन्नियों की माला को कैंची से काट डाला और वापस लौटते हुये बोले, ''चलो, जिस उद्घाटन के लिये हम आये थे वह तो पूरा हो गया। अब चलते हैं''।

(एक कार्टून पर आधारित)

KEJRIWAL — A Freak Crusader Against Corrrupton

KEJRIWAL — A Freak Crusader Against Corrrupton

Addressing a meeting of his party's national executive on January 31st the Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal released a list of 27 politicians belonging to different political organisations whom he dubbed as "corrupt". The list does not include any name from his own outfit because AAP leaders, in his view, are all icons of honesty notwithstanding the fact that a number of allegations have appeared in the media against one of his favourite minister. An AAP MLA has also been accused of sexual molestation of a woman.

There is nothing new in Kejriwal's rhetoric. He is used to this kind of language and conduct. During the last one year of his life as a politician he has charged as "corrupt" numerous politicians spanning almost every political hue.  To him, it looks, the only way to trumpet to the world that he — and his AAP — is the only 'honest' politician in the country is to drum up all others as 'corrupt'.

 Against certain politicians Kejriwal had been very specific and concrete in his accusations.  He had levelled serious charges against his predecessor Delhi chief minister Mrs. Sheila Dikshit and declared that within a few days of his taking over, she and most of her ministers would be behind bars. The Delhi people gave him the chance to come out true to his words but  45 days after his taking over, nothing seems to have moved decisively in the right direction. So far, the only achievement is having nabbed about three police constables and one junior official on charges of graft. It is, as yet, too much to believe that Delhi administration stands sanitized of corruption with Kejriwal taking over the reins of office.
Lacks the spark
It is now clear that Kejriwal lacks the spark and the spirit of a genuine crusader against corruption. He seems to be failing in his conviction and commitment to the pious cause of cleansing politics, public life and governance. His verbiage is more directed to appeal to the gallery than doing anything great when he himself is at the helm of affairs in Delhi government.  On the basis of documents and evidence in his possession against his targets he would have, if he were sincere to the cause, lost no time in knocking the door of courts to seek orders for registration of criminal cases against those he accuses of graft. On the contrary, he preferred to get fascinated only to the glamour of media glare. His leaving the matter at that after his own media exposure shows he, like any other politician, wanted just to reap a harvest of electoral gains for which he had not undertaken the toil of sowing the seeds. During election campaign every political party — Congress too did do that in 2004 and 2009 — promises a clean government only to forget its words after mounting the high pedestal of power.

Lost opportunity

During elections to Delhi assembly in November last year, a CD was released containing serious charges of corruption and misdoings against persons contesting elections on his AAP's symbol. One of the CD showed Kejriwal having himself sent an SMS to his party man saying that he had allegedly sold his party's nomination to a person for ` 2 crores. After first denying the allegations Kejriwal then constituted a committee composed of his own men of confidence to look into the allegations. AAP absolved everybody of any wrongdoing. He did lose the opportunity to rise morally high by failing to set a model for others to follow by ordering a probe into the CD. He just treaded on the path beaten by every other political party in such a situation in the past — a conduct he had been criticizing with a sharp tongue. The ugly stains of the kind of allegations contained in the CD cannot so easily be removed with the detergent of an inner party investigation by interested individuals. It cannot infuse confidence. The truth could only be known if there was a free, fair and impartial inquiry.

What would be Kejriwal's reaction if following his example every political party, like him, ordered an in-house inquiry by its own men into allegations made by him and gave a certificate of innocence and honesty to those he accuses them of having indulged in corruption? He has now lost his moral authority to question their conduct and motives.
 Double standards
If a political party or a leader receives funds from an organization based within or outside the country, for people like Kejriwal it is rank corruption.  But if the latter is/are the recipient(s), he/they claim it an innocent and honest donation for a genuine aam aadmi cause. This hypocrisy needs to end.

A PIL had been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking registration of a criminal case against AAP leaders for receiving foreign funds. According a statement filed by Ministry of Home Affairs, the AAP has not supplied information sought by the Ministry.  AAP claims transparency in all its functioning. Then why should it prevaricate in supplying the information when its hands are clean?

The grandiloquence and conduct of Kejriwal party boils down to a simple conclusion: His fight against graft is not aimed at eradicating corruption but confined to earning political mileage and deriving electoral dividends, nothing less than that. AAP suffers from the same fallings and failings every other political party suffers from and he speaks against. By his words and actions he has only exposed himself and failed to prove different from others of his clan.                                                                                           ***