Election Commission

Lavasa’s rant and the facts readers must know

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Facts are facts. They are the referee, the guiding principle, in a dispute. When both sides are represented, it’s called ethical journalism. When only selective facts are published, that is yellow journalism.

Once it became clear that BJP-NDA would romp home in 2019 General Elections, Indian Express has made much of dissent of one of the three Election Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa.  On a few occasions when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was examined if he had violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), Lavasa was the dissenting voice in the house which cleared Modi of such charges.

After keeping Lavasa’s dissent alive on its front pages, Indian Express has published a long interview with Lavasa today. The lame headline: “Sought prompt action after Supreme Court frowned on delays: Lavasa” was a giveaway on spun charges – a kind of propping up a dead man behind wheels. The story just doesn’t move.

Lavasa laments that his dissents haven’t been recorded. But then Election Commission never does it.  A majority takes a call which in this case decided in favour of Modi. So what’s this fuss about?

Lavasa thus decided to stay away from the last MCC meeting (Lavasa/Express projection is as if he recused himself midway) . By May 16, 2019 General Elections were more or less over. If he had felt stifled, he should’ve done so much before. Even now Lavasa can resign and ignite a serious debate in public and help an Election Commission which he could be heading in 2021.

If he stays put in Election Commission, Lavasa must respond to public scrutiny as he expects his own institution to be. A few facts are in public domain and are grossly unsavoury.  People have a piece on him which Lavasa needs to respond as quickly as he could. It says that his wife, Novel Singhal Lavasa,became a board director in 12 big companies after he became secretary in environment and finance ministry from 2015 onwards.  It questions whether he dealt with the files of these 12 companies during his tenures? The article then digs up instances which are construed as his closeness to various important ministers, including P. Chidambaram.  Now that Lavasa could be our next Chief Election Commissioner, he must submit himself to public probity and upholds the dignity of EC which he has lowered, perhaps unintentionally, in present case.

Personally, I am for recording dissenting voices. Like they do in judiciary.  But I certainly abhor when I suspect agenda. To me this looks like tainting a historic repeat for BJP in 2019 General Elections, if it comes true on May 23. When the projection is that institutions are muzzled, the next corollary is democracy is in danger.  That’s what they do with Russia, China or even Iran. All of them are straining under economic and tariff sanctions.

The game is much bigger than a mere dissent. First, drum up instances. Two, feed global network. Three, ratchet up public opinion. Four, the “custodians” of free world intervene (never mind they don’t bat an eyelid on Pakistan or Saudi Arabia).  Five, crippling economy sanctions follow.

A nation is thus destroyed like it happened in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Remember the “Arab Spring” which was unleashed in Middle East this decade? It’s no longer talked about for it has served its purpose—replace many regimes such as ones in Egypt, Tunisia etc.

I conclude by drawing the attention of readers to this piece in OpIndia. It mentions a former Election Commissioner Navin Chawla against whom once  his chief wrote to President of India, asking for his removal for allegedly taking instructions from the ruling party, in this case Congress. This is the same Chawla who was indicted for his excesses during the Emergency. Yet, the 2009 General Elections were conducted under him.

In this article instances are quoted how despite their miserable showings in 1999 and 2014 elections, parties such as SP, BSP and Left were allowed to remain “national parties” by the benevolence of Election Commission. How despite 100 plus seats, BJP was nearly banned in 2007.

It’s important readers take a call and question their newspapers. Treat it as a matter of life and death. Have complete and not just selective facts. Only responsible readers can make their newspapers accountable. Else, your own nation could be in ruins and your future generations exposed to resultant horrors.

 

Mamata and her interview: If not fixed then what else?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Mamata Banerjee has an interview in Indian Express today.  I left everything and went for it. I mean there is such a dire need for the rest of the country to know about the intimidating TMC leader.  I often think if I could write as freely if I was in Bengal of today. She has disdain for Centre; resistance to Supreme Court or Election Commission; contempt for institutions such as CBI; indifference to blood on the streets and incarceration for any individual who goes public with anything not to her liking. I mean do you remember how she stopped her vehicle, got out and confronted the crowd who were chanting “Jai Shri Ram”? We have not even come to Priyanka Sharma put in 14-day custody for sharing a photo-shopped image.

Frankly, I was extremely disturbed when CBI officials were held “hostage” in a police station for descending on Kolkata police commissioner Rajiv Kumar’s residence. That central forces were brought out to ensure the families of CBI officials were not put to harm. That Mamata Banerjee was physically present as the sordid drama rolled out. She then sitting on a dharna, serving bureaucrats and police officials taking their seats alongside her, in complete violation of service rules. Supreme Court later finding the allegations against Kolkata police chief as “very, very serious.”

There was dismay when Durga idols were vandalized in Hooghly; that despite High Court ruling, she restricted Durga visarjan on Muharram day; that threat of Islamic jihadists is so real that Islamic State (IS) has announced it has an “emir” in West Bengal. And should we also talk about the alleged scams which probably is genesis for her angst against Modi and BJP?

When the issue of India’s unity is at stake; whether Bengal could break away one day, whether it could harbour terrorists who would unleash their fury on the rest of the mainland – aren’t these grave enough questions on Indians’ mind? That EC was compelled to spread elections in Bengal to all seven phases; remove a few police officers from election duties; send an observer and finally asked central armed forces to be present in almost the entire Bengal which still hasn’t been able to stop violence and killings, doesn’t it tell you of a state sitting on a time-bomb? That even media is facing the brunt of violence?

But what do we get in the Indian Express interview? How you walk so much? How you eat so little? How she would take up the role of a Prime Minister after the elections (not once but thrice in the interview)? The interview began promisingly enough with questions on Muslim appeasement. But Mamata never replied to it and the question was never pressed again. When political violence is mentioned, Mamata says scattered incidents and the interviewer lets it pass. All we get is how Hindu she is in her beliefs (sic). None of the questions I have mentioned above were even remotely thrown at her. Is this how you define “Journalism of Courage?”

Only if our media wasn’t pliant enough, if it had trained its lens on Mamata Banerjee and the complete anarchy in the state of West Bengal, things wouldn’t have come to this pass. Even as I write this piece, the news has come that BJP president Amit Shah has been denied permission to hold his rally in Jadavpur. State administration has also denied Shah from landing his helicopter in the constituency. Nine remaining constituencies go to poll on Sunday. How do you think Supreme Court or Election Commission is reacting to this “murder of democracy?”

Why do you think our media and edit-writers are not even pointing fingers at Mamata Banerjee on all the issues they profess to champion about? What do we make out of Shekhar Gupta (“She is meeting fire with fire”) and Rajdeep Sardesai (“What’s the secret of your energy?”), the chasm between their stature and their ethics? Is the media afraid of “Didi” (the very word which affection and respect now has acquired a completely sinister meaning)? And if yes, why? What do we attribute this to? Fear, greed, hatred for Modi or all of it? And who speaks for an individual who dissents?

 

Two issues which could bring Rahul Gandhi’s campaign to a grinding halt

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

In annals, April 22, 2019 could be remembered as the date when Rahul Gandhi’s lies finally caught up with him.

An early call in the day would be taken by Election Commission if Rahul Gandhi indeed could contest the 2019 General Elections after scrutinizing his nomination papers in Amethi. Separate complaints filed in this regard claim that Rahul Gandhi had declared himself a British citizen of a company registered in the United Kingdom in the past. As per the Representation of People’s Act 1951, an individual who is not an Indian citizen cannot contest elections in India.

The second issue concerns Rahul Gandhi’s reply on a contempt notice which must reach the Supreme Court before the day April 22 is out. Supreme Court is due to hear a petition next day on Tuesday, filed against Rahul Gandhi for claiming that even Supreme Court has said chowkidar ne chori karwai (PM Modi caused theft in the purchase of Rafale jets) when the SC said nothing of the sort.

That Congress president is nervous is no-brainer. One, his counsel had sought 48 hours to reply on Rahul Gandhi’s real citizenship!!! Seeking so many hours on a basic issue implies that some ingenuity would be pulled out from under the hat. Even if Rahul Gandhi gets past this sticky issue unharmed, he could be hard put to present his educational degrees for it is alleged it belongs to one Raul Vinci. Is Rahul Gandhi and Raul Vinci the same person???

(An in-depth account on this could be read from this report which says that BJP leader Dr. Subramaniam Swamy way back in 2017 had submitted all the relevant documents to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh regarding Rahul Gandhi’s dual citizenship).

The other issue of SC hearing a complaint petition against him is a time-bomb ticking. If Rahul Gandhi’s reply on April 22, which precedes the hearing next day, contain his apology, all his posturing on Rafale and “chor chowkidar” shrill cry would be busted. If he holds his ground and found to have made false assertions, the punishment could involve fine or jail or both, as per the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. In such a scenario, Rahul Gandhi would be left with no issue to dwell with in his campaign rallies, that is if he survives the Amethi scrutiny.

The developments of last Friday (April 19, 2019), when four Leftist news portals sent a similar questionnaire to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on a former woman-staffer’s allegation of molestation against the latter, followed by Justice Gogoi summoning an extraordinary bench hearing on Saturday, looks to have blocked all escape routes for Rahul Gandhi.

If CJI Ranjan Gogoi’s words are any indication –“It’s a plot planned to deactivate CJI office…as I would be hearing important cases this week,”—this coordinated, well-calibrated sharp attack against CJI Ranjan Gogoi has backfired. The sexual misconduct storm could have led to Justice Ranjan Gogoi excusing himself from hearing the contempt of court notice against Rahul Gandhi. Now Justice Ranjan Gogoi has already given hint to his position on the matter by stating that he wouldn’t buckle down under pressure.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi had also asked media to show restraint in covering the matter which clearly is not possible, at least with Indian Express and The Hindu newspapers. Both have penned editorials in their daily edition today (April 22, 2019), criticizing Justice Ranjan Gogoi for dealing with the sexual misconduct allegation in a ham-handed manner. Both have questioned the propriety of Justice Gogoi’s conduct though not once have they questioned the four online news portals—The Wire, The Scroll, Caravan, Leaflet—for publishing the name of accuser and accused which is defamatory in nature. It makes both the Indian Express and The Hindu appear in the same corner, as these four online news portals, accused of conspiracy by the CJI himself.

The reputation of Lutyens Media is also not helped by the fact that they have turned their gaze away from the developments in Amethi where Rahul Gandhi risks being debarred from contesting the 2019 General Elections. If it was to happen, it would be a political earthquake of a magnitude of unimaginable scale.