Supreme Court

Who’s afraid of “Lobby of Six”? questions Gogoi; Puts nation on alert

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

It’s the last time readers you would hear about it. So I want you to be serious. Ranjan Gogoi, former Chief Justice of India and now a member of the Rajya Sabha, has said that there is a “Lobby of Six” which controls our judiciary by maligning them.  You could make it a fun exercise. Or if you are serious, reflect how our system is compromised.

Three names immediately spring to my mind as suspects: Prashant Bhushan, Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Singhvi.  They opposed tooth and nail matters of national importance, such as Rafale, Ram Temple, Article 370, EVM, Loya judge case etc in varying degrees, individually or collectively.  Remember the names who wanted an “impeachment” motion against then CJI Deepak Misra? A few judges too cross my mind for some strange verdicts. But I better not spell out my hunch.

( Or it could be that Gogoi might be hinting at a completely different set who work behind the scenes. So folks, send in your choice of “Lobby of Six” on my twitter or facebook handle.  Let this issue hang in our public discourse. For your newspapers are unlikely to give it wind. They have already dug up trenches to bury Gogoi’s views. I would follow up this pieces with due credit to your credible hunches).  

Gogoi says that this “Lobby of Six” took recourse to “maligning” to control judiciary.  You only “malign” through propaganda. And propaganda is best managed by media. This is rather easy. I remember a piece I wrote when a “sexual harassment” case was popped up against Gogoi last year.  Three websites with Leftist bent–The Wire, Scroll and Caravan—made a coordinated attack. They appeared hand-in-gloves with the forces who wanted to malign our judiciary. My piece then had tried to connect the dots. Read it and see if you agree with my deductions.

The Indian Express and The Hindu are two other national dailies which are more than suspects, in my humble opinion.  The judges and advocates they have in their rosters as guest columnists/rent-a-byte individuals, all have a bent towards a particular ideology.  Refer to the pages of these two newspapers when a “sexual impropriety” charge was made against Gogoi last April. Or the recent spate of articles they have had against Gogoi’s nomination in Rajya Sabha.  That Gogoi has now chosen to speak to Times of India, and not Express and The Hindu, carries its own message. Or it could be that Express and the Hindu didn’t approach Gogoi in the first place. The latter is worse: for the gold-standard in journalism is to hear both sides of story. Don’t pronounce someone guilty unless you’ve heard him.

Be that as it may, do read Gogoi’s interview in Times of India. He makes some pertinent points which deserve to be a part of the collective memory of we the citizens who unfortunately are also readers of a few disgraceful newspapers. As per the supposed perks on being a Rajya Sabha member, Gogoi puts forth the same arguments I had questioned Left-Liberals on in recent days.

Gogoi says that Ayodhya was a unanimous verdict by a bench of five judges. So all other were compromised? Rafale too was a unanimous verdict. So the other sitting judges were also compromised? Isn’t it a slur on their integrity? Gogoi also took on his critics who said he practiced “sealed cover” jurisprudence. “Should I have made public details on Rafale”? Pakistan would’ve laughed its guts out. Why was this bunch silent when the judiciary asked for sealed cover report on “2G scam”. Or when now the Supreme Court has asked for “sealed cover” report on Shaheen Bagh?

Strong words. And a bit of humour from his ex-Lordship: “I never was, never am and never will be afraid of anyone’s opinion, except my wife.”

Hopefully, Gogoi’s interview would give teeth to “independent” voices within the judiciary.  There is no reason to buckle down to this “Lobby of Six” or anyone else. You have nobody but your conscience to be answerable to.

(Post script: As to how our judiciary functions, listen to the voice of a fearless amongst us, legal hawk Vibhor Anand, who had penned for us a few pieces in the past).

Why history won’t forgive Modi if he buckles under now

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi could sense a long road ahead. He is under attack from all corners, both at home and abroad. From civil rights activists to media; from foreign parliaments to Congress; Presidents to Islamic leaders. All are baying for his blood. And have declared him enemy of Indian Muslims.

It of course is not true. There is nothing in Citizenship Act which is anti-Muslim. There is nothing in NPR which wasn’t there in its’ previous exercise in 2010. NRC, if it happens, is too far out. But what does Modi do? Should he allow the events to overtake him? Or should he follow the time-table his government has set for the exercise? Should he compromise or should he stay firm?

Let’s evaluate what Modi gains if he softens his stance. Let’s say he scraps Citizenship Act or puts it in abeyance. Would he gain the support of Indian Muslims? Would shameless Indian media applaud him on his statesmanship? Won’t we read headlines in Western press such as “Power of people foil a bigot dictator’s pogrom”? Would Iran and Turkey; Pakistan and Malaysia hail him? The answer is NO.

Let’s also evaluate the fallout at his own side of the fence. He could appear weak to his millions of his supporters and lose their support. He could hurt his “raj dharma” by which he professes all too often. He has often said powers would come and go but India remains. Should he be true to his oath to the “Constitution” to do what he believes is best for the Republic? For which he has been chosen by 1.30 billion people of this land?

Now let’s consider the eventuality in case Modi decides to stay firm on his decision.  Let’s take the domestic and foreign fallout separately; though both in reality feed on each other. If Modi stays firm and presses ahead in the muddied waters, there could be: (a) More riots across the country; (b) Indian and Western Media would only intensify their anti-Modi coverage; (c) A few state governments could refuse to implement CAA; (d) Kashmir would burn now that winter is in retreat; (e) And even judiciary could buckle under and pass a stricture against him.

Again, what do you think Modi should do? Compromise or stay firm?

From above synopsis, it’s apparent that Compromise wouldn’t help him a wee bit. Or his government. Or India. Or Future governments. A weak Modi now would give a template to anti-India forces to pursue in years to come. Future leaders may also not have the energy, vision or selflessness of a Narendra Modi.

It would be a severe blow to Hindus who are in dire need to be in touch and in sync with their heritage of language (Sanskrit), culture and religion. A Hindu revival is what the world doesn’t want. A revival of Hindu ethos is what could save this world. A blow to it would only embolden the Islamist powers. Besides, history won’t judge Modi kindly if he succumbs to pressure. And what he would say as explanation???

Further, suppose the CAA and NPR throw up unaccounted for illegal migrants/infiltrators on our land. Could they be sleeper cells? Jihadists? Terrorists? Putting your and my life at risk? Would those who are championing “human rights” and “democracy” and “constitution” come to our help? In such an eventuality, who would we all end up blaming for?—Modi of course.

There is simply no going back, Mr Modi. People have given you mandate to run this country on their behalf for five years. Parliament has given you sanction. Supreme Court would judge you by the Constitution. Nothing else matters. States powers which put populism ahead of India, dismiss them. Jihadi Islamists, political leaders and their organizations who whip up Indian Muslims into arson and violence, book them. Media, which is unbridled and peddles fake news, suspend them. Western Media could take a walk. Don’t give a hoot to what a few foreign powers say. Ignore the garbage of a European Parliament or a United Nations Human Rights Council.

What would happen at the most? There might be a dozen more calibrated riots. A United States could slap you with sanctions (though it won’t as long as Trump is in power, hopefully till 2024). Military intervention is out of question against a serious nuclear power like us. Are you worrying about your reputation Mr Modi? Playing ball to anti-India forces wouldn’t spruce up your reputation. Indeed, it would break into splinters the hearts of millions of your followers.

You have four-plus years remaining in your second term. Use it with full conviction. Without fear of consequences. That’s what Bhagwad Gita says too. A weak Modi would lose all he has gained so far. It would hurt him, country and billion-plus Hindus. It won’t be the right homage to our suffering souls of a thousand years.

Ironically, a weak Modi at this stage won’t help the cause of Indian Muslims either. The anger of Hindus would bubble forth. The society at large could be prejudiced against Muslims. Muslims could be further ghettoized. They could also be expecting more entitlements. They could be further radicalized. It could be ripe for a ISIS or a Hizbul Mujahideen to make further inroads.  Remove their fear by actions. Withdrawing CAA would only confirm their worst fears about you. 

Supreme Court could leave the dissenters red-faced on Citizenship Act

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

India’s Supreme Court is likely to crack the whip on Wednesday on a few dissenting states who have raised the banner of revolt against the Centre and are looking to bend the Constitutional norms which have served the country so well for over seven decades now.

The bone of contention is the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which has met the mandate of the Parliament and strictly comes under Centre’s domain yet a few opposition states have struck it down in home assemblies and added fuel to the fire of protestors, out on India’s streets for over a month now.

India of dozens of states, hundreds of languages, thousands of castes, millions of gods and a billion plus people was envisaged as a federal structure by its founding fathers where states could run most of its affairs independently as long as they don’t interfere with the core of the Union which has restricted itself largely to defence, foreign affairs, communications, citizenship etc.

Such a division was enshrined in India’s Constitution which took four years of intense making and where legislature, executive and judiciary were so finely balanced that each knew of its roles and limitations. India also boldly trusted its millions of citizens, largely illiterate at the time of independence, to choose its representatives at the local, regional and national levels at periodic intervals, never more than five years apart.

A rare Constitutional success in Asia

If my founding fathers were venture capitalists, and if India was a start-up, it would have been a wildly successful investment.  India’s Constitution has survived when none have in Asia among the countries freed from the yoke of colonialism after World War II, barring Taiwan and South Korea. It’s a still bigger feat if one is told that Constitutions around the world have lasted a mere 17 years on an average since the French Revolution of 1789. It might have taken 15-lakh words but nearly 300 men who shaped the Constitution gave India the priceless gift of life.

India presently is in churn because a New Order has emerged which is threatening the entrenched class of political and academic elites. It’s a classic masses vs classes situation. Never has the embedded ecosystem been rattled so badly. It’s losing election after general elections as masses overwhelmingly are voting in favour of prime minister Narendra Modi who is a complete antithesis to a typical political elite: A tea-seller once, carrying no baggage of dynasty and an existential threat to cronyism.

It’s been only six months since Modi’s re-election but the speed with which a new India was changing its contours, be it on matters of Kashmir or Lord Rama’s temple, issues which had been frozen in a time warp for decades, has made the entrenched ecosystem sense a quaking, slipping earth below their feet. The new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) gave them an opportunity to spread the misinformation and stoke the fears of Muslims which has led to protests and riots on India’s streets. People are being openly incited to slam the door shut on Centre if it comes asking for their verifiable identity.

Thus a few opposition-ruled Indian states have been defiant and a few more have professed to do so in coming days. The protests have been sensationalized by India’s deplorable media which has long been part of ecosystem and thus not prepared to lose its entitlements. Western media, as ever, is fishing in troubled waters.

Global implications

So is India coming off the wheels? Does the rebellion by a few of its people and states portend an approaching disaster? Has the historical and cultural animosity between Hindus and Muslims been unsheathed and won’t return till it has devoured its share of lives? Would a few states go ahead and declare themselves independent? Would India’s established institutions strike back and change India’s cherished Constitution forever? Would it make the Western sharks smell the blood in the waters and move in in the name of protecting “democracy” and “human rights”? And if that happens would a nuclear-armed South Asia became a flashpoint which could be humanity’s worst hour?

History often is a good guide in troubled times. It’s not the first time when states in India have rebelled against the Union. It’s also not the first time when people have indulged in anarchy or large-scale violence on India’s streets. It’s also not the first time when feelings have run high between Hindus and Muslims. But sooner than later, the order returns. And that’s because the two sides of the divide, political or religious, realize that they are better off with existing order than in trying to finish each other off. That in essence is the reason why India’s Constitution endures. That’s exactly the message Supreme Court is likely to declare on Wednesday. And that’s when the warring camps would return to their trenches.

 

Anti-Army Face? Our Opposition has no qualms

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

A father turns out a son who tries to destabilize the family. A criminal is sanitized if his presence is a threat to a society. A terrorist is neutralized if he has common people in his gun’s range.  Individuals or groups who are hazards are brought to book by those who have the assigned role to protect society or a nation.

Thus we are looking at two ends of the spectrum. One end has the authority which has a job to keep a home or a nation safe.  At the other end are the suckers who won’t let it happen. At one end is the welfare of the millions. At the other end is the good of the few.  It’s a no-brainer that individuals have constitutional rights only till they start imperilling a society.

Two such individuals are presently in public eye: One, a high-profile politician; the other a fringe player.  Both face serious allegations. Both are under probe. Both claim vendetta. Both are relying on hidden support from within society.

Let’s presume that both P. Chidambaram and Shehla Rashid are not guilty. One has been named “kingpin” in massive financial scandals by no less than judiciary.  The other has been refuted by Indian army and hauled to court for inciting communal discord. The next logical corollary is: Who would decide they are innocents? When a criminal has ever admitted to his crimes?

That’s why society sets a mechanism which can arbitrate, punish or pronounce not-guilty.  This mechanism could be judiciary or law-enforcing agencies such as police, CBI or ED.  Irrespective of how one or thousands or millions feel, it’s this mechanism which we have entrusted to carry out justice. Everything else is gasbag—including you or me.

But try telling this to our politicians and media.  Both feed on each other.  When it’s convenient, they hail judiciary like they did on pronouncements on Ahmed Patel’s Rajya Sabha elections or favouring HD Kumaraswamy in Karnataka’s unholy tie-up. When it doesn’t suit them, they don’ t bat an eyelid in trying to impeach even the chief justice. CBI is “caged parrot” when it pursues cases against Mamata Banerjee or P. Chidambaram. But when the agency was in hot pursuit of Amit Shah, for instance, it was hailed for setting high standards of probity.

Just follow the headlines and editorials in our newspapers on P. Chidambaram. Indian Express in its editorial finds it revolting that P. Chidambaram was pursued in the manner he was done by the investigating agencies. It doesn’t question Chidambaram once on his reprehensible  conduct in not submitting himself to law and thus subverting the course of justice. No newspaper has given a headline that Chidambaram was deemed “kingpin” of grave financial misdeeds.  Just look at this headline in Hindustan Times: “Please sit, judge asked Chidambaram…He declines.” (As standing is a conduct of a morally upright person!).  Be it media or politicians, both are aghast that Chidambaram was not given urgent hearing by the Supreme Court. We even have a letter from a group of Supreme Court lawyers protesting against denial of urgent hearing to Chidambaram. Pray, god, when a matter is presented on Wednesday and the hearing is fixed on Friday, is it not urgent hearing?

Shehla Rashid has been hauled to court in a criminal complaint against her claim that torture and excessive force is being applied by Indian forces on Kashmiris. Indian Army was quick to make a strong rebuttal: “Allegations levelled by Shehla Rashid are baseless and rejected. Such unverified and fake news are spread by inimical elements and organizations to incite the unsuspecting population.”

Did you find anyone in Lutyens Media question Rashid to either provide evidence or shut up. When she was cornered by journalists in an Opposition protest drama in the Capital on Thursday, she, instead of offering evidence, threatened to call police.

Has Lutyens Media questioned Shehla Rashid on fake allegations? Has it questioned the politicians of CPI or CPM, SP or BSP, Congress or TMC etc on what a fake news peddler who spreads lies on our Indian Army was doing on their platform of protest? Are we wrong to presume that these politicians, political activists and Lutyens Media have no regard for institutions and integrity of the nation and instead, could be hand in gloves?

This of course is not the first instance of transgressions by Shehla Rashid.  She posts old videos and pass them off as recent; an FIR was filed against her for spreading rumours after the Pulwama attack; she had once tweeted that Nitin Gadkari was plotting to assassinate PM Modi on which the former had threatened her with legal action; despite a video evidence of abusing the police, she termed Jignesh Mewani as victim; Delhi Police has filed a chargesheet against her in the infamous JNU sedition case;  She wanted United Nations to intervene on EVM issue as Modi seemed set to return to power in 2019 polls;  and she termed Modi a “mass murderer” after his first win in 2014 polls.

All of Rashid’s allegations of course are unsubstantiated. She is encouraged into vomiting more of such diatribe as Lutyens Media lends a helping hand and investigating agencies dither in view of the entrenched break-India forces within the system. As Chidambaram was encouraged to be allegedly more corrupt even as his bête noire Dr Subramanian Swamy asserted that former’s crimes are fit for a 500-year-long sentence. Why, Indian Express reserves top of his editorial page for Chidambaram every Sunday. Like Times of India is nonchalant about allegations of paid write-ups from across the border against one of its’ regulars, Shobhaa De.

All of this of course is unlikely to stop. Faced with an existential threat, these forces inimical to India’s interest would continue to spew venom in a concerted manner.  You would have letters from films, legal and writers’ corners tearing into Modi government for its violations of “democratic” principles. We, the stunned citizenry, must take note of these virulent rats which are a plague to India’s sovereignty.

 

RTI Amendment Bill 2019 & the fake charade of Tharoor

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Andimuthu Raja of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) calls it “a dark day for democracy.” Shashi Tharoor of the Congress sees  it a bid to remove “the two greatest armours of institutional independence” and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, views it as an attack on “our democratic right to information.”

Serious isn’t it. Who doesn’t know Raja or Tharoor or Chowdhury.  I mean we all have heard of 2G licenses,  Sunanda Pushkar and “gandi naali (drainage)” slur. They are our much-in-news parliamentarians who today have hogged our newspapers for faking their concern on the amendments to the Right To Information (RTI) Act 2019.

On Monday, Lok Sabha trembled to their din on the amendment to the RTI Act, 2005. As per the amendment, the Information Commissioners (ICs) will have terms and salaries decided by the Centre, instead of being on par with those of Election Commissioners. Tharoor bristled with rage: “Are you bringing this amendment because an IC asked the PMO to reveal the PM’s educational details?” Chowdhary found it an attempt to “keep tab on the Commission and kill its freedom.” NK Premachandran of Revolutionary Socialist Party (never mind if you haven’t heard of him) is convinced the amendment is an attempt to benefit the Central government.

All this for defining the terms and salaries of Information Commissioners?

So, here are the facts. The RTI Amendment Bill 2019 in no way compromises the autonomy or independence of RTI Act 2005. The amendment leaves Section 12(4) of the Act, which ensures autonomy and independence of the Act, untouched.  The appointment of Information Commissioners (Section 12.3) is also not tampered with.

Now to the terms and salaries of Information Commissioners.  The present amendment bill seeks to amend section 27 of RTI Act 2005 which DOESN’T define the tenure and terms of conditions for the ICs in its present form!!! Does clearing “ambiguity” on RTI Act sound like a “dark day for Indian democracy” to you?

As per the RTI Act 2005, chief information commissioner is equal to Chief Election Commissioner and there by equal to a Supreme Court judge. Similarly, the state Chief Commissioner is equal to election commissioner and thereby equal to Supreme Court judge.

This itself is an anomaly, considering the fact that Election Commission is a statuary body while Supreme Court and Election Commission are constitutional bodies.

The other contradiction is that CIC and state information commissioners enjoy the status of Supreme Court judge but the verdict passed is liable to be challenged in the High Court.  The present bill seeks to correct this anomaly.  Besides this amendment hasn’t originated from the government alone but also held by several sections of society and judiciary.

For example, the Rajiv Garg vs UOI Supreme Court judgment of 2013 directed that decision be taken on uniformity of service condition of various tribunals. Similarly, the Second Reform Commission in its 13th report of April 2009 also recommended that there is need for greater uniformity in service conditions. The recent judgment of high court of Kerala states that the Chairman and member of the CAT do no occupy the exalted position of the judge of high court merely because they are given the same benefits.

The present amendment merely is enabling legislation which will authorize the government to frame the rules by amending Section 27 and to deliberate upon the tenures and terms of Central and State Information Commission through Section 13 and Section 16 of the RTI Act 2005. The amendment would further streamline and institutionalize the RTI Act and further facilitate its delivery.

BJP sources say that the commitment of Modi government to strengthen the RTI Act is manifest in the fact that it has introduced the 24-hour portal and a mobile App for convenience of filing RTI anytime, 24 hours, 365 days in a year.

The present government has also implemented Section 4 of RTI Act whereby suo motto (on its own) information is now available on all the government websites even without having to file an RTI to seek information.

The leader of the largest opposition party (read Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of Congress) is also a member of the selection committee when there is no recognized member of opposition in Lok Sabha.

And for all this good, Shashi Tharoor calls it a RTI Elimination Bill.

Said a BJP source: “Those who have vested interest in using RTI as a tool of blackmail are making motivated allegations against the RTI Amendment Bill 2019 which are totally unfounded and unsubstantiated.”

Oh is it? RTI as a tool of blackmail? So next time you read screaming headlines in the Indian Express or The Hindu or Times of India or Hindustan Times or any other Indian daily curse the mugger who might have gained behind this charade of “scrutiny” for public good.

Meanwhile, the RTI Amendment Bill was passed with 218 “yes” and 79 “no” in Lok Sabha on Monday.

 

 

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?

 

Citizenship row: A nightmare still awaits Rahul Gandhi

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

 

Please don’t move on only because theSupreme Court has dismissed a “fake” petition stating that Rahul Gandhi has been a British citizen in the past. The matter is hot as coal.

Why do I call it a “fake petition”? Use your brains. The Supreme Court order states “we cannot rely on a paper note to call Rahul a British citizen.” Why would anyone go to court with just a few lines scribbled on a “paper note”? I mean no backgrounder, no facts, no arguments put forth? Petitioners Jai Bhagwan Goyal and CP Tyagi might have been driven by nationalist spirit but like poor surgeons picked up cucumber instead of a scalpel to dissect their object.

But let’s not waste our energy on this sideshow. Let’s look at the ground reality and why I say it’s hot as coal. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has to reply to a letter of Ministry of Human Affairs (MHA) by next week (May 16) on his alleged British citizenship in the past. The MHA is acting on the basis of a letter by Dr. Subramanian Swamy in this regard. Dr. Swamy, the bete noire of  Gandhi dynasts, has done more than just scrawl a letter—he has a petition pending in the Supreme Court on the matter.

So what should Rahul Gandhi say in his reply to MHA?

Assuming he says YES, he indeed was a British citizen in the past. It would open up a can of worms. How could he then have been an Indian citizen, a Member of Parliament and at a cruder level, does it imply that he was staying in India without a valid visa? And does for violations of visa regulations, a jail-term looms?

Assuming he says NO in reply, did he seek FCRA (Foreign Contributions Regulations Act, 2010) clearance from the relevant authorities? If not, isn’t it a misrepresentation/hiding facts in his election affidavit? Can’t it be termed as money-laundering done through a foreign company?

No wonder Dr. Swamy chuckles at the prospects of Rahul Gandhi’s impending reply. He has tweeted: “Buddhu is in a classic Catch 22 situation and between a rock and a hard place.”

So please don’t be lulled into believing that the Supreme Court, in dismissing the “fake” petition, has also given a verdict on MHA and Dr. Swamy’s efforts to get to the bottom of the truth.

Typical of Lutyens Media though in drooling on the verdict in favour of their patrons. Shreya Dhoundial, an anchor with CNN News 18, pressed the buzzer in no time in declaring that SC has junked Dr Swamy’s petition on Rahul Gandhi’s nationality. But the CNN News18 anchor and her fraternity in Lutyens Media in their eagerness—most had the news on their front pages today—missed a very critical point in their coverage.

And the point is that neither Congress nor Rahul Gandhi nor for that matter his master’s voices in Randeep Surjewala and Sanjay Jha have made a single tweet in celebration of Supreme Court ruling. I mean, come on, the Congress camp had a very good opportunity of rubbing BJP’s nose on the ground. Why let go of the moment? Doesn’t their silence speak of the tremors under their feet?

Yes, Rahul Gandhi’s British citizenship issue isn’t dying any soon. You can read the entire background to his alleged association with a British company here. I am not a clairvoyant but my guess is he would miss the deadline of MHA letter or submit a blank page in response. By then, the 2019 General Elections would have only one phase (May 19) of polling left. As they say: A drowning man would clasp even at a straw.

 

 

 

Ignoring Bengal now would be promoting secession

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

This is an appeal to all Indians to leave aside their political, ideological or religious affiliations and look closely at ALL THE ACTORS in the ongoing West Bengal saga with hands on their hearts. Anything less could be an approval to anarchy, civil war and even partition of the land we call India.

Actor No. 1:

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee says that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officers descended on controversial state police chief Rajeev Kumar’s residence without a search warrant in Kolkata. It contradicts the CBI claim that they had the necessary papers. Even Kolkata police says that the CBI officers had documents and they were taken to police station for its’ verification. Paper or no paper, Section 165 of the Code of Criminal Procedure permits CBI to go for a search without warrant. CBI also doesn’t need permission from the police in case of serving summons. Further section 41 of the CRPC empowers CBI to make arrests even without warrant.

CBI has made claims before the Supreme Court that the West Bengal government “arrested our officers and kept (them) in alleged custody.” They also claim the CBI officers were manhandled (above picture, courtesy Times of India, appears a proof). The CBI offices at Salt Lake and Nizam Palace, as well as residence of joint director Pankaj Srivastava was surrounded is also a fact.

Mamata Banerjee may have decided that CBI wouldn’t be allowed in West Bengal three months ago but in case of ongoing investigations, CBI can’t be stopped. On the face of it, its’ stopping a government official from discharging his duty. Detaining and arresting them, if anything, is far more grave matter.

Mamata Banerjee would be hard put to explain (a) why the CBI officers were stopped and detained; (b) why she herself had to descend on the police chief’s residence in the middle of the drama; (c) What has Modi government to do with the orders of the SC to CBI to investigate the scams; (d) why her police chief Rajeev Kumar wasn’t responding to CBI’s more than one summons in recent past; (e) why her actions it is which is damaging the “Constitution and institutions such as CBI and Judiciary” and not the other way around.

Actor No. 2:

Police commissioner in question Rajeev Kumar as well as several senior police officials and bureaucrats then sat with Mamata Banerjee in dharna as a mark of protest. It is flagrant violation of All India Service rules. They can’t be seen assuming a political role. Since they are employed by the Centre, it can, and must, come down hard on this gross misconduct. It’s an open invitation to anarchy when serving officers ally themselves to political prejudices.

Action might also be deemed pertinent against the police officials, including the ordering authority, who obstructed CBI officers from discharging their duty and wrongful confinement. It’s a gross obstruction to investigation as it amounts to shielding crime or criminals.

Actor No. 3

The Supreme Court would have to give its ruling on the matter on Wednesday. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has said: “If the CBI lays a single piece of evidence or any material to show that any authority in West Bengal or any police officer is engaged in tampering with chit fund scam, we will come down so heavily on them that they will regret it.” In my humble opinion, SC not only should rule in favour of CBI but also pass stricture against the West Bengal government for the ugly drama which unfolded in Kolkata on Sunday night. The citizens of this country would be watching closely.

Actor No. 4:

West Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi has summoned chief secretary and director general of police for discussions. All the evidence suggests that the state government not only defied the SC whip and held up CBI officers from discharging their duty, obstructing investigations but have also floated a dangerous precedent where state governments, police and bureaucrats could similarly defy the Constitutional structure promoting anarchy, civil war and secessionist tendencies in India. For when did you last see Police vs Central Reserve Police Force against each other on the streets?

Tripathi would’ve to forward his report on the matter to the Centre which could include recommending the President’s Rule. If the governor does so, the Centre would’ve no option but to dismiss the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal. In all probability, Tripathi would’ve had to wait for SC’s fresh directive on the matter which is likely on Wednesday. If West Bengal still defy the diktat, it would be a fit case to recommend President’s Rule in West Bengal.

Actor No. 5:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP government would keep a close eye on the developments. As things appear, Mamata Banerjee is spoiling for a fight. May be she believes that if  her TMC government is dismissed, she could ride the sympathy wave and with opposition behind her, project herself as Prime Ministerial candidate in General Elections. She is eyeing a bigger prize. Should Modi oblige her or let her continue to rule West Bengal? The first option would be just for the integrity of the nation; the second could only be political prudence. Once Modi had said: Sarkarein aati jaati rahengein; desh bacha rehna chahiye (Governments would come and go; the nation should remain). It’s time to walk the talk. Or, every state government could hold Centre and thus India to ransom. India broken up in parts could be the outcome. That the CBI has claimed the investigations could lead to far more grave findings than just chit fund scam (Do they imply the hold of Jihadi forces?) is scary.

Actor No. 6:

Keep an eye on all the opposition leaders—barring Left and possibly Mayawati, the former looking to regain its lost turf in West Bengal and the latter, for fear of being upstaged in the race to be Prime Minister—who are throat-ing their support to Mamata Banerjee. Only yesterday they were accusing Narendra Modi for killing India’s institutions. The autonomy of CBI is not important to them now. The sanctity of the Supreme Court matters little to them. The anarchy, possible engineered riots or civil war isn’t the top concern. Bewoe the fate of the nation in case they happen to be at its helm anytime soon.

Actor No. 7:

The media. Read your newspapers closely. You won’t find retired solicitor-generals, judges, erudite columnists penning their pieces. They have no qualms in twisting the facts and make it appear a TMC vs Modi fight even when the latter had little to do with the SC directive. Read your Shekhar Gupta, Sagarika Ghose, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt etc to know what’s their stand on the matter. Know all who you think stand for the unity of this country and the law of the land—and those who don’t. This is as good a time as ever to mark them out.

 

 

Why India can’t ignore Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has had her way since the “rath yatra” planned by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is struck down by the Supreme Court.

Predictably there is no outrage in Lutyens’ Media which is par for course since they had similarly ignored Ms. Banerjee postponing the Vijay Dashmi celebrations after Muharram fell on the same day.

Media never devoted columns and editorials when Supreme Court had to step in even for nominations in Panchayat elections last year. There was no outrage in newspapers when 13 people were killed on the voting day itself; in all 50 lives were lost.

All too often Ms. Banerjee cites law and order problem to throw up her hands in despair and media sees no oddity in it since law and order is state subject and TMC owns West Bengal in its iron fist, having won 211 of the 295-seat assembly in 2016.

Media, which cries itself hoarse on the autonomy of Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) being under threat sees nothing wrong in Ms. Banerjee barring the central agency from operating in her state. They have no problem when Ms. Banerjee pulls out of the Ayushman Health insurance scheme only because all the credit was going to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Ms. Banerjee could raise the demons of a “civil war” (on the issue of settlers in Assam) and still be spared a critique. An FIR to arrest RSS’ Rakesh Sinha on his social media posts is nothing alarming in the prejudiced eyes of the media who swear by the freedom of speech as its gospel.

So deathly is the silence of media on affairs in West Bengal that you wouldn’t even remember Jihadi forces rained violence in Bashirat district against Hindus last year. That BJP leaders fled the state by dozens in the wake of the violence.

Media sees nothing communal when “ramdhenu” is replaced with “rongdhenu” in school text books in West Bengal; when a fatwa-issuing Islamic cleric (Maulana Nurur Barkati) against Narendra Modi is emboldened enough to use “lal-batti” atop his car even as the practice is banned; when Rs 2500 and Rs 1000 is given as monthly stipend to 56,000 imams and muezzins of the state (no such windfall to Hindu priests).

Ms Banerjee seems to provoke Hindus no end up like when she appointed Firhad Hakim — a TMC MLA who once referred to Kolkata’s Garden Reach area as “mini-Pakistan”– the chief of the famous 300-years-old Tarakeshwar Temple. One of TMC’s Rajya Sabha member (Ahmed Hussain) is a founding member of the banned outfit, Students Islamic Movement of India; There is Rs. 1.5 lakh worth of state scholarship to those Muslim students who get less than 50 per cent marks at the school level (even as other students, including Hindus, can only secure it at over 50 per cent overall marks). “Those dead during Haj are compensated with Rs 10 lakhs while the Hindu families of those killed in riots get Rs 35,000,” said Tapan Ghosh, then a leader of the Hindu Samhiti.

Even as media has criminally turned its back on these dangerous trends, Hindus seem to be getting their act together in the state. Presently there are 1500 odd RSS shakhas in the state—as against 800 in 2013. BJP is now the main opposition party in West Bengal. A true glimpse of this renaissance would be visible over next couple of weeks when BJP/RSS plan to hold multiple rallies in Bengal.

Hindus, pushed against the wall, might strike back against the present dispensation in Bengal. They are 70 per cent in numbers to 27 per cent Muslims. However, an entitled Muslim population—also bloated by illegal Bangladeshi Muslims in the sate—won’t concede the acquired ground readily. Bengal is sitting on a volcano about to burst even as media wouldn’t let you know.