In politics, it is easy to become a victim of traps laid by our own convictions. We then cease to distinguish between political analysis and political endorsement. We cease to pay attention to trends. The Delhi election is indeed deeply important. It is shaping up to be a closer contest than anyone imagined six months ago. Much will depend on the AAP’s political campaign. But there is little doubt that there is space for it to re-emerge as a potent political force. On the evidence of their campaign so far, the BJP seems to be struggling to understand the nature of this challenge. It would do well to heed the warning signs.
The general election was a product of the twin narratives of fear of paralysis and fear of plutocracy. It was the anti-corruption movement, which morphed into the AAP, that took a battering ram to the legitimacy of the UPA. Modi walked into the breach. He seemed, with good reason, the best candidate, to overcome paralysis and restore a sense of possibility. Even if we argue that the jury is still out on where the NDA government is headed, other narratives are now opening up once again.
The fear of plutocracy has not gone away. It may have been overshadowed by the fear of paralysis. But corruption and unseemly conflicts of interest are still challenges. The government at the Centre may not have been rocked yet by a scandal. But it has done little to restore confidence in accountability institutions. The investigative arms of government remain mired in suspicion of extensive partisanship..
Parliament seems unlikely to exercise an oversight function and fears of the undue influence of capitalists are not entirely misplaced. The private sector’s fear about the legitimacy of PPPs is a backhanded acknowledgment of this reality. Except for dissimulation on black money, the government has no reform proposals to show. The problem with the AAP’s traditional approach was its overinvestment in top-down institutions like the Lokpal. But the presence of the AAP itself generates accountability, by inducing a different fear. It was a small party with disproportionate effect. The power of its own example is not inconsiderable. For the most part, its method of financing elections seems the most transparent that any political party has ever seen, setting a new trend. The AAP’s institutional promise rested on a new paradigm of citizen participation. Government by SMS or continual referendum is not a sustainable idea. But the idea that, in some crucial areas, we might need more participatory modes of government is powerful. Whatever the internal story with the AAP, it still takes the model of governance as a friendly, inclusive, neighbourly chat seriously. – See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/bjp-and-the-aaposition/#comments
Article on Amit Shah by Rana Ayub pulled down by DNA
This article, published by DNA newspaper group, on Amit Shah has been pulled down by DNA: check http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/standpoint-a-new-low-in-indian-politics-2000913… Looks like a new low for media self-censorship!! Now that Amit Shah is BJP National President, and even his lawyer a Supreme Court judge, even the not so wise should get a glimpse of whats in store next.. Rana Ayub has tweeted “Feel terrible, disillusioned with the state of media. Will not be writing for @dna henceforth. Had great respect for them. Alas !” an hour ago.
The article is as follows, without any modification……
Late last week, a special CBI court adjourned the bail application of Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati fake encounter cases, accepting his excuse that he was engaged in political work in New Delhi. Shah, 49, the first serving Home minister of a state to have gone behind bars in a criminal case of murder and conspiracy had a legitimate reason to skip court hearings. He was presiding and taking part in day-long meetings in Delhi with senior RSS leaders and BJP functionaries who were all set to seal his fate as the next BJP President
There is a significant back story to his exemption which did find its way as a small snippet in the media but needs to be brought to light as Shah, the man who waved the magic wand for BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the PM’s confidante and the number two in the government now takes over the reins of the party. Amit Shah had twice in the past sought exemption from personal appearance citing political work, but the then CBI judge JT Utpat had found his excuse inadequate for the court to grant him relief. On June 20, while hearing the application, Utpat allowed the same but made a scathing remark “Everytime you are giving this exemption application without assigning any reason,” he told Shahs counsel. In less than a week, Utpat was transferred to a Pune court before he could preside over Shahs discharge application. Shah managed his way out with a tried and tested formula of transferring judges, practiced brazenly in his home state of Gujarat through his tenure as Home Minister.
As a journalist covering Gujarat extensively since 2005, as someone who exposed Shah’s role in the fake encounters in the state and who can claim to have knowledge of his political trajectory, I would not mince my words in suggesting that by appointing Amit Shah as the president of the party, the BJP has hugely disrespected the law of the land and signalled an all time low for the criminal justice system of India. For the cases against Shah are for crimes so gruesome that the cloak of political astuteness will be too short to cover it.
In its chargesheet filed in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, the CBI which had been investigating the case under the watchful eye of the Supreme Court of India had not just named Shah as one of the key accused and conspirators but also named him as the head of an extortion racket which involved underworld thugs, politicians and businessmen. In its submission before the apex court bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice BS Chauhan, the CBI stated that the minister was in cahoots with senior cops from Gujarat including the likes of DG Vanzara and Abhay Chudasama who had been sentenced for cold-blooded murder – concluding that Shah was a hardcore criminal. Shah was also chargesheeted in the murder of Kauser Bi, the wife of Sohrabuddin who according to the official papers was raped, sedated, killed and her body burnt and thrown in a river.
One could have well debated the merits of the CBI chargesheet and read political motives but for the fact that the Supreme court itself gave CBI the sanction to arrest Shah at the same time, coming down harshly on the Gujarat state police investigation led by the then top cop Geeta Johri for going slow and misleading the courts. If the SIT verdict on Narendra Modi’s role in the Gujarat encounters is to be held as the final word, by virtue of it being monitored by the apex court, it is baffling then that Narendra Modi who promised clean and transparent governance to this country and setting up fast track courts to look into cases of criminal charges against politicians has turned a blind eye to Shah’s criminal past.
Shah has been Modi’s confidante since his days as a pracharak in Gujarat and Maharashtra. With Shah’s induction on the national scene first as the General Secretary of the BJP and now as the BJP President, Modi has risked his own political image for the sake of his ally and friend who has put to shame the best political pundits and strategists from North India with his shrewd manoeuvring. In the coming days, the party will have to prove its popularity not just in the by-elections of Uttar Pradesh but also in the forthcoming Assembly Elections in three states, the most significant being the battle for Maharashtra. Party insiders have stressed on Maharashtra being a prestige battle for Modi whose party swept the Lok Sabha elections a couple of months ago. Going by the minutes of the internal meetings held between Modi, Shah and senior heads in the BJP and the RSS, the Prime Minister has silenced his detractors in the party who were against Shah’s elevation citing his ability to churn out big numbers.
Many in the Gujarat BJP believe that Modi has been under tremendous pressure by Shah to return the favours he has allegedly bestowed on his mentor in the last two decades of their association. It’s a well known fact that during Modi’s rebellion against former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and in his fight with the ex-Home Minister of Gujarat Haren Pandya, it was Shah who stood firmly by Modi’s side galvanizing the cadres and leaders in favour of his boss.
As the second in command in the Modi dispensation, the youngest minister in his cabinet who held charge of twelve ministries including the powerful Minister of State for Home, Shah single-handedly thwarted all trouble that came in the way of Modi with his office getting the infamous tag of the “dirty tricks department of the CM”. It was under his tenure as Home Minister that the Gujarat police went on a spree of fake encounters in the state – holding regular press conferences for the media with the bodies of the alleged assassins on display. The officers would claim that the Gujarat CM was under threat from jihadists who were out to assassinate the man who brought back Hindu asmita in Gujarat.
While the chief minister managed to leave unscathed during the investigations of most of the encounters which were later pronounced as fake, Shah found himself listed as the prime accused in three encounters, his role in the other two being probed by the CBI with investigations in the case still on.
Another major dent in Shah’s image came with his alleged involvement in the Snoopgate scandal, in which he is heard instructing one of his key lieutenants – IPS officer GL Singhal who was then incharge of the ATS, to carry on surveillance on a young woman. The tapes which were released late last year created a furore after it became obvious that Shah as the Home Minister of the state was using state machinery to snoop on innocent civilians, monitoring their moves. In this particular case, a young woman whose movements, including aspects of her personal life were being reported to the CM on a daily basis.
With such serious criminal charges against him, has Modi denigrated the position of the party president by handing over Shah the reins of the party. Would it now be safe to assume that Prime Minister Narendra Modi acted against the interests of the judiciary by rejecting the nomination of Gopal Subramaniam as a Supreme court judge as he was also the amicus curiae in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. Ever since the Prime Minister assumed office, ex-CBI directors including Ashwini Kumar and AP Singh who were at the helm of affairs in the CBI during the investigation of the encounters, find themselves being at the receiving end of Shah’s wrath. While Kumar has stepped down as governor of Nagaland, AP Singh is reportedly under pressure to step down as member of the UPSC after the Income Tax department served notices to him and his family members in an investigation into alleged tax evasion by meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
These could all well be coincidences if one were to take a larger liberal view of the developments including the transfer of 89-year-old ailing governor of Gujarat Kamla Beniwal, who under her tenure locked horns with Modi and Shah over the appointment of Lokayukta in the state. But even if one were to dismiss these actions against officials, lawyers, judges who played significant roles in the criminal justice process involving Amit Shah as conjectures, will it not be pertinent to suggest that by appointing Shah as the BJP President, Modi has acted in contradiction to his promise of a free and fair government, which will have no space for vindictiveness. Hasn’t Modi and the BJP under the guidance of the RSS just made the first attack on the principle of clean governance on the basis of which the party came to power? Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to answer this one.
Rana Ayyub is a journalist and a writer. She tweets at @RanaAyyub
In the recent past, someone had remarked- Modi is probably the last gamble by Indian public. And the citizens left no stone unturned in order not to have any regret left for not giving a majority to Modi sarkar. Riding on a Modi wave, full support from media and a whirlwind of expectations, BJP got a thumping majority and NaMo became the PM, to the delight of millions.
But there lies the glitch. The lured public clearly wants results as the wait for good days or ‘Achhe Din’ has been in suspension for more than 60 years. It was visible through daily scrutiny of the Aam Aadmi Party government at Delhi. Continuing with the same, the public would keep the NaMo sarkar under scanner till it is relieved of its daily tensions, from workplace to home, from social development to economic strengthening. The public is, but losing its patience in an exasperated hope of reviving the situation.
In such a situation, every move of the government would be introspected as per merit and it won’t be easy for the new government which already knows that governing India during the present situation is the crown of thorns marred by acute inflation, chronic poverty, mounting unemployment, snail pace development, fractured economy and beleaguered finances. Hence massive reforms are needed to counter the problems. The honeymoon period with media already seems to be jolted with hash tags of ‘achhe din delayed’ and ‘bitter rail pill”. Price regulation for petroleum is not my forte but the government will have to bear the brunt with every increment. Though minor hiccups were felt during Iraq problem and the ‘Hindi circular’, the first tremor has come with the rail fare and freight hike. There seems to be huge disappointment among people, especially the daily and regular commuters of railways. The cost of Mumbai sub-urban passes have gone up with 200-300% increase, not to mention the first and second AC fare is already giving stiff competition to the low-cost airlines. No doubt many people will prefer to spend a few bucks more to save 10-20 hours, through air journey. However, the sleeper and general class passengers have a compulsion to remain loyal to their railways, even though it means shelling out extra bucks from their savings. Finance Minister asks if we want a world class railway or the present dilapidated one. Well, Jaitleyji, the rail makeover to world class can’t be achieved through fare hike. There is a limit to it. Price hike could be a necessity with the continuing inflation and that may be a reason good enough. Is there a need to issue such statements?
No doubt it is difficult to stand up to the public expectations as it has almost lost all the hopes on the traditional politicians, most of them christened with murder/rape and baptized with criminal cases. The level of saturation is dangerously close as was evident during Anna’s India against corruption movement with mass participation of public, swarming to the call against the prevailing issues. It was in full public glare when huge protests erupted against the heinously barbaric Nirbhaya incident. It has been clearly visible among the angry Delhi people since Arvind Kejriwal resigned. The frustration that has been building up since 60 years is something which shouldn’t be exploited otherwise. This is the time to perform or perish, in a reasonable time, without unreasonable arguments and statements. Because, Janata maaf nahi karegi!!