Showing posts with label Indira Gandhi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indira Gandhi. Show all posts

Friday, December 18, 2015

नाम में कुच्‍छ नहीं

नाम में कुच्‍छ नहीं

  अम्‍बा चरण वशिष्‍ठ

किसी भवन, किसी सड़क, किसी संस्‍था का नाम किसी राजनेता या अन्‍य के नाम से रखने या न रखने या वर्तमान नाम बदल कर कोई और नाम रख देने का कोई महत्‍व ही नहीं बचा है। आजकल हर नाम को संक्षिप्‍त (abreviate) करने की होड़ लगी रहती है।

अब व्‍यक्ति के नाम की ही बात लीजिये। किसी का नाम बुद्धू राम है। तो वह बिना नाम बदले बी0 आर0 शर्मा बन कर गर्व करने लगता है।

सड़कों का नाम लीजिये। अनेक बड़े शहरों में महात्‍मा गांधी रोड हैं पर सब जगह यह एम0 जी0 रोड बनकर रह गई हैं। दिल्‍ली में एक सड़क का नाम बदल कर अन्तिम मुग़ल बादशाह बहादुर शाह ज़फर मार्ग कर दिया गया। पर हुआ क्‍या? अब वह बीऐसज़ैड मार्ग बन कर रह गया।

दिल्‍ली का इन्दिरा गांधी इन्‍टरनैशल एयरपोर्ट अब केवल आईजीआईए ही हो गया है। शिमला में मैडिकल कालिज का नाम बदल कर इन्दिरा गांधी मैडिकल कालिज कर उनकी याद को सम्‍मानित किया गया था। पर आज वह आईजीएमसी ही रह गया है। इन्दिरा गांधी नैशनल ओपन यूनिवर्सिटी इगनू बन कर मशहूर हो गई है। कहां हैं इन्दिरा गांधी?

दिल्‍ली की जवाहरलाल नैहरू यूनिवर्सिटी अपने असली नाम से नहीं जेएनयू के नाम से विश्‍वविख्‍यात हो गई है। पंजाब सरकार ने चण्‍डीगढ़ से सटे शहर मोहाली का नाम बदल 'साहिबज़ादा अजीत सिंह नगर' रख दिया कोई 20 साल पहले। पर लोग इस शहर को अभी भी मोहाली के नाम से पहचानते हैं और वैसे भी यह ऐसएऐस नगर ही बन कर रह गया है।

मनरेगा में महात्‍मा गांधी का नाम किस को दिखता है?

तो फिर हमारे नाम रखने या बदलने पर झगड़े का क्‍या तुक रह गया है?                                                                  ***                      

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Of Fuss & Controversy Unwarranted

Of Fuss & Controversy Unwarranted
One fails to understand the fuss over counsel for NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) Prashant Bhushan being pressed for disclosing the name of the whistleblower who provided him a copy of the entry register maintained at CBI Director Ranjit Sinnha's residence containing the names of persons who met him at his official residence.
To an extent, Prashant Bhushan is right in refusing to divulge the whistleblower's identity in the interest of the latter's personal safety claiming that "it would expose him to serious risks of bodily harm, harassment and victimisation besides setting a bad precedent". Among those who waited upon the CBI Director at his house are very influential and resourceful people who felt as much embarrassed by the disclosures as did the CBI Director. Question naturally arises Why did they prefer Sinha's residence over his office and why did he condescend to entertain them at his residence and not in his office?
Disclosure by such daredevils of information has embarrassed high-ups, landed them in trouble in criminal investigations and some found guilty by courts. There is also no dearth of instances where numerous people who dared to make incriminating information public had to face the wrath of government functionaries and others. Some of them had to lose their right to life even. So their security of life remains of paramount concern.
In these circumstances, what is vital is not the identity of the whistleblower who lifted the veil of secrecy but the veracity of the disclosures.  As long as the facts brought out by them are not disputed, their identity is immaterial. They need to be identified and named the moment they are discovered to have played havoc with facts causing unwarranted hurt to the image of the persons harmed by their disclosures which they knew were not genuine. In such an eventuality, they not only need to be fully exposed but severely punished too.
In the meantime, the Supreme Court on September 22 decided to review its order directing Prashant Bhushan to disclose the identity of the person who provided him the information.
Politics in the country seems to be touching a new low each day. The latest is the instance of the former Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh who whipped up public sentiments on the petty issue of his being asked to vacate his official residence in Delhi after the people of his area rejected him in the June elections to Parliament and he ceased to be a minister. On the one hand he announced that he is going to vacate the official residence and, on the other, he whipped up people's sentiments by organising a violent protest in his area where his supporters even threatened to cut-off water supply to Delhi.
He had been occupying this very house which was the residence of his late father Chaudhary Charan Singh who became prime minister of the country courtesy not a majority in Lok Sabha but of an intrigue hatched by late Mrs. Indira Gandhi who was not fascinated by him to see him a prime minister of the country but smarting at the loss of power and yearning for revenge to overthrow by hook or crook the then Janta Party government headed by  Morarjee Desai. Charan Singh fell into Indira's trap. After parting company with Morarjee and his Janta Party, he was able to be sworn in as PM on July 28, 1979 but had to resign on August 24 when Mrs. Gandhi refused to honour her promise of support. Instead of going to Parliament waiting for him to seek a vote of confidence Chaudhary Charan Singh went to the President to resign. He earned the distinction of being a Prime Minister just for 24 days without having faced the Parliament. Ajit Singh inherited the political legacy of his father by representing the latter's Baghpat parliamentary constituency unhindered. In the process he made history by his party RLD enter into a marriage of convenience with friends and foes alike. Thus he made the proverbial term of "sleeping with the enemy" a reality in his political career. In 2009 Lok Sabha elections his party contested as an NDA constituent but when BJP led NDA failed to make the mark the magnet of power was strong enough to lure Ajit Singh to part company with NDA and land into the Congress lap against whom his party had fought elections.

Ajit Singh's demand to convert the house he was occupying as a memorial  for his late father and former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh was a ploy to retain this house on one pretext or the other. On the vey face of it, his belated demand now looks funny. Charan Singh died on May 29, 1987. In VP Singh's Janta Dal government in 1989 and later in UPA government Ajit Singh was the Industry Minister amd Civil Aviation Minister, respectively. During the last 27 years never did it occur to him that his father deserved a memorial and that too the house he was occupying. No further comment needed.                                                    ***

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Not a nominee of political dictators

By Amba Charan Vashishth

BJP has announced its prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The ruling Congress continues to maintain the suspense as it toys with various options. 
It is a travesty of India's parliamentary democracy that after Mr. P. V. Narasimha Rao (1996) with the exception of NDA (1998-2004), the post of prime minister (PM) has been reduced to an accident of maneuvers and manipulations. For the first time in independent India's history the country is carrying the baggage of a prime minister for over nine years the party has foisted on the people.
The very fact that elections are held only after every five years on the expiry of the term of House of the People, i.e. the Lok Sabha (LS), or earlier on its dissolution, is a clear indication that in the letter and spirit of the Constitution and the tradition formation of a government at the Centre (or in States) depends upon the verdict of the people given out through the exercise of their right to franchise. Since we follow the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy, it clearly means that the person who is duly and democratically elected by the elected LS members as their leader is the Prime Minister of the country and should be one of the LS members. This had been the tradition since the dawn of parliamentary democracy in India till the United Front government of Mr. H. D. Deve Gowda in 1996. He was not a LS member but he maintained the tradition availed himself of the first opportunity to enter Lok Sabha after becoming PM.
There have been only two instances of exception to the rule and tradition – that of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral. Mrs. Gandhi was a RS member when she succeeded Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri in late January 1966 following his unfortunate death. In between the Election Commission, for reasons best known to it, did not hold by-election to Allahabad Mr. Shastri represented or any other constituency. She did contest the LS elections next year in 1967 and won.
Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral became United Front's PM after the incumbent Mr. Deve Gowda was eased out on Congress Party's insistence on whose ventilator support from outside the Government was breathing. Before he could think of finding a seat to contest for LS, he was dethroned.
Now it looks as if our great erudite framers of the Constitution failed to visualize that in about fifty years our political parties will turn so bankrupt of mass leaders that though they would like to nominate a person as prime minister yet dare not expose him to the people dreading the vagaries of an uncertain electoral climate. That is why our political parties, particularly those in power, have turned the Constitution into just a wax which can be moulded to give any shape and form to promote their political goals.
They now exploit the absence of any specific provision in the Constitution stipulating in so many unambiguous words that a prime minister shall always be a LS member. They quote Article 75 which provides: (1)" The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President……", (2) that the "ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President" and (3) that the "Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People" (LS)".  It would be too simplistic and naïve to construe the wording of this Article as if it gives the President dictatorial powers to "appoint" anybody as a PM who need not be an MP at all.
Another shelter they seek behind is the provision in Article 75(5) that a "Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of either House of Parliament shall, at the expiration of that period, cease to be a Minister". This, again, is an attempt at arm twisting of the Constitution to make it subserve a party's or individual's purpose. This provision was inserted, as the debates in the Constituent Assembly indicate, with the purpose just to utilize the services and talent as ministers in the government of technocrats and specialists in their own fields because they otherwise shy away from the arena of elections. This Article was not meant to induct into the council of ministers, through the back door, persons rejected by the people during elections.
If the intention of the Constitution makers had been to stipulate that a prime minister could be from either House of Parliament, they were free to add the words "Prime Minister" too alongside "Minister" in Article 75(5). To infer that a "Minister" includes the prime minister is stretching a misnomer too far without logic.  Whether a prime minister is considered as "first among equals" or "the moon among the stars", the fact remains that a prime minister is a prime minister and a minister is just a minister. Even our Constitution makes a clear-cut distinction between the two and puts the position of the prime minister superior: "The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister". Further, a prime minister is the leader of the majority party elected by its members; ministers are just MPs hand-picked by the prime minister or the party bosses. Therefore, trying to read prime minister in the word "Minister" is nothing short of denying the reality of the day.
There is an unambiguous distinction between a member of Rajya Sabha and that of Lok Sabha. The former is indirectly elected; the latter democratically elected directly by the people through the exercise of their right to franchise. The former has a tenure of six years, the latter's – and that of the council of ministers, even of those who are RS members – is only five years. After every five years, the latter has to go to the people for a fresh bout of elections; the latter has just to seek another round of maneuvers and manipulations of favour from the party bosses.
Further, if the intention of the Constitution had been that a prime minister need not necessarily be a LS member but could also be a RS member, then why is it that the life of the Council of Ministers coincides with that of the tenure of LS and not with that of RS?
It is customary for the incumbent prime minister to resign following the declaration of LS election results even if the party in power has won another mandate to rule the country. This is done because tenure of the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers is coterminous with that of LS. They have to take oath as MPs afresh. If it is not mandatory that a prime minister should be a LS member, in that case if his party is voted to power again the PM need not resign at all because he continues to be RS member for which he has not to take a fresh oath. He needs just to get himself elected again as leader and reconstitute his ministry.
If PM is not a LS member, how can he and his "Council of Ministers be "collectively responsible" to the LS (Article 75(3)? If one is not a shareholder or stakeholder of a company, how can one be a director or CEO of that company and responsible to it?
In the alternative, one could go on stretching the argument to any length. No Article of the Constitution makes it mandatory that a prime minister must compulsorily be a member of either House of Parliament. As per Article 75(1) he is just "appointed by the President"; it doesn't say he must be an MP at all. While the Constitution stipulates as to who can and who cannot be a member of Parliament, no such condition has been prescribed for a person to be "appointed" as prime minister for six months without being a member of either House of Parliament {Article 75(5)). In that case a person needs only to manipulate to get himself "appointed" as the prime minister and command a majority in the LS to which he as head of the Council of Ministers "is collectively responsible" {Article 75(3)}.
Further, a prime minister could continue indefinitely, with a one or two day's break, to hold his office without being a member of the either House. In that case, a prime minister can resign a day before completion of his six months period without being a member of either House. The President, as per the tradition, will ask him to continue in office till alternative arrangements are made. After two days he can again get himself elected as leader and lay claim to majority in Parliament and seek to be invited to form government again. This exercise he can repeat a number of times and complete his tenure of five years as prime minister without being a member of either House of Parliament and without infringing a single word of the Constitution.  
Now that elections to the Lok Sabha are just about six months away, it is time all those eyeing the post of prime minister after elections respect both the letter and spirit of the Constitution "We, the people of India" gave unto ourselves." We need to make democracy truly a government of the people, by the people and for the people of India.
The writer is a Delhi based political analyst.

(Published in the SOUTH ASIA POLITICS November 2013 issue.