Getting worse, not better
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Coalgate affair like much else has got worse, not better. Even as the Prime Minister was in Russia and China on important missions, vicious personal attacks were mounted on him by the BJP and others. These followed the CBI’s wanting to question Dr Singh as he was holding charge of the Coal Ministry in 2005. Further, the then Coal Secretary, P.C. Parakh, had written a letter to the Cabinet Secretary alleging mischief in coal allocations by a powerful political “mafia” within the Ministry. Parakh had thereafter met the PM who had prevailed on him not to resign, hinting at coalition compulsions (probably in reappointing the tainted JMM leader, Shibu Soren, to the ministry).Questions arise. Who leaked the letter? Everything leaks and, while obsessive secrecy and cover up are undesirable, confidentiality has simply ceased to exist. This is a dangerous trend as governance and diplomacy cannot be conducted in the market place. That is the road to anarchy. Brash politicians and sections of irresponsible media simply have no time for such niceties whatever the cost to standards and values. Further, instead of awaiting due process, immediate pronouncement of presumptive guilt is to conduct kangaroo courts and indulge in trial by the press. This is not to deny blemishes in conduct on the part of anybody or to condone fraud but to protect the system from incoherence and collapse. The PM has said he is open to interrogation. Let investigations proceed under Supreme Court supervision in the current Coalgate matter.
Incidentally, the loud-mouthed sceptics and critics who had scoffed at a “lame duck” prime minister’s ability to negotiate on equal terms with his Russian and Chinese hosts were once again proved wrong, as they were on the PM’s earlier meetings with Obama and Nawaz Sharif. And to attribute Dr Singh’s steadfast efforts to negotiate India’s position in a fast changing international scenario to a vain striving to fine-tune his “legacy” is poppycock. The new agreement with China is a step forward and something to build on. If China persists with stapled visas for Arunachalis, we have referred to the South China Sea as the West Philippines Sea in a recent joint communiqué issued in Manila.
Meanwhile, at home, the slanging match between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi and their raucous cheer leaders has touched a new low in tone and vulgarity. Both are probably losing votes and scoring own-goals. Rahul certainly did so by citing unnamed intelligence sources as telling him that the ISI is seeking out Muslim youth affected by the Muzaffarnagar riots thus suggestively targeting the wider Muslim Indian community as potential fifth-columnists. This was followed up with the sob-story of his readiness to face martyrdom from terrorist attack in the Gandhi family tradition. This is great Bollywood stuff!
In underlining the BJP/Sangh Parivar’s scarcely disguised effort to induce communal polarisation as a poll stratagem in all his harangues, Rahul needs to realise that he is guilty of reducing the 2014 election campaign to an unhealthy dharam yudh . If the BJP’s saffron shows, Congress secularism is a crude vote-banking sham as witnessed by its backing the utterly ridiculous Unnao gold digging at the behest of a so-called sant selling superstition for salvation, a campaign now backed by a UPA minister asking for diggings at two more sites at the Sant has had more dreams!
The BJP, driven by the elements of the Parivar, is not merely practising muscular communalism but also theorising sectarianism. Dattatreya Hosabale, the RSS joint secretary used the occasion of the organisation’s executive meeting in Kochi last week to call on Hindus to breed more children in order to correct the demographic shift in favour of Muslims that has been occurring over the years. He urged Hindus to review their stance on family planning norm and shift from a one-child to a three-child norm so that there is a sufficiency of Hindu youth to join the armed forces to ensure border security and counter Muslim extremism, a menace that the executive condemned in a special resolution.
How does the BJP associate itself with such arrant nonsense that is both statistically misleading in terms of trends and politically retrograde? This is a blatantly communal message and an anti-development theorem. Someone must explain how this fits into Modi’s “Gujarat development model”. But communal divisiveness is built into the Parivar’s ideology. Hence the over-zealous drive to prevent conversion, real or imagined and the totally perverse fight against what the zealots call “love jihad”. The continuing caste oppression of dalits is a huge social blot that the Parivar, BJP and Dharam Sansad have done little to ameliorate.
Recently all 60 dalit families in Hadmatiya village near Junagadh in Modi’s Gujarat converted to Buddhism as they were denied temple-entry, their children were made to eat separately at school and they could not get barbers to give them a hair-cut and shave. In the neighbouring Kodinar taluka of Gir Somnath district about 200 dalit families converted to Buddhism on October 13.
This has attracted an inquiry by the District Collector as “mass conversion” is deemed illegal without due permission of the administration under the Freedom of Religion Act, 2008. Modi’s Gujarat is marching backwards. Is this development?
All sorts of other strange things are happening around us. In response to Mulayam Singh’s edict that SP ministers/leaders must ensure electoral victories for party candidates in the upcoming elections, Geeta Singh , a high party functionary has complained that, unlike in Mulayam’s time, officials “do not give us weightage” in getting their work done. “Fear of the authorities among officials is missing”. What is this but a plea for subversion of governance by political freebooters.
On a petition among others by that habitual busybody, the Press Council Chairman, Markandy Katju, the Central Government is examining whether Sanjay Dutt should be granted a remission in his jail term for his role in the 1993 Mumbai rail blasts. The man has already been treated with consideration by the Court but simply cannot earn remission merely because he is a good chap and did some foolish things as a callow youth. This trivialisation of justice by people who should know better is deplorable and it is disturbing that the Government should give ear to such special pleading.
Then, short shrift should be given to the AIDMK-Tamil Nadu Assembly plea that India boycott the forthcoming CHOGM in Colombo and seek Sri Lanka’s expulsion from the Commonwealth for atrocities against Tamils. Fair elections have been held in the Northern Province and were won hands down by the Tamil National Alliance. This has created the basis for forward movement on other Tamil demands for autonomy. Meanwhile Tamil Nadu “sentiment” is one sided and misplaced. It is forgetful of the enormous damage the LTTE has inflicted on India and on the Tamils in Sri Lanka as a ruthless, stop-at-nothing, terrorist organisation. This is not to defend violations of human rights or atrocities but to base judgements on balanced perspectives. The Centre should not yield to Tamil Nadu pressure on the basis of anti-Sinhala chauvinism. Matters in Sri Lanka are moving towards a resolution. Let us not tip the apple cart.
The writer can be contacted