Friday, October 31, 2008

Terrorism all the way

The lull before the storm has never been so apt before. It was just few month back that Delhi witnessed serial bombings. Before every possible words and thoughts condemning the blast could see the light of day, another serial bomb blast rocked the nation. This time it was Assam.

The familiar words expressing sympathy for the victims from the PM and the habitual statements from the intelligence department was handed out to the media.

Nothing was different. Same words, same people, same response. The intelligence agency though came out with a ‘revelation’ that they had the prior knowledge of a possibility of such destructive activity being undertaken in Assam.

The only saving grace was that the intelligence guys did not blame the terrorist for not informing them about the exact spot where the bombs were planted.

I can well imagine their helplessness as the alleged perpetrators had already crossed over to Bangladesh well before news of the dead and injured poured in.

It’s time to be honestly blunt here. It fails my mind that why India which prides itself being called as a regional ‘super-nuclear-economic’ power fails to reign in the lesser-insignificant neighbors like Bangladesh and Nepal.

Nepal and Bangladesh have now established themselves as a safe heaven and a launching pad for carrying out anti-Indian activities. Illegal immigrants continue to enter India and in due time they are converted into ‘Indians’ for obvious vote bank.

Diplomats and seasoned foreign experts say that acting tough against these two countries would alienate them and pave a way for China to come closer to these ‘traditional friends’ of India. This argument defies every logic. How can one to continue to overlook something such blatant nefarious designs of our well-wishing neighbors?

Still, despite all the appeasing measures adopted by India, it’s no secret that in recent years Nepal and Bangladesh have takes long strides that goes to Beijing and not towards New Delhi.

Some years ago The Times of India carried a front page picture in which a BSF jawan who was killed by personnel of Bangladeshi rifles was shown being carried on a bamboo stick just like the old days when the hunters would proudly carry their kill exhibiting their strength.

The jawans were killed by the BDR personnel after they resisted their attempt to help cattle thieves from stealing cattle and taking it to Bangladesh from the Indian side.

I had expected at least an economic embargo on Bangladesh for a limited period from our government for such a daring misadventure by them. Sadly I was proved wrong. If I remember correctly India could only manage a diplomatic rebuke. That was the price we paid for being a ‘responsible- South Asian- giant’.

Now I have no hesitation in saying that the Indian nationalist freedom movement was perhaps the last magnificent show of India’s political will. Will to stand against anarchy and tyranny.

The one thing that the arrest of Malegaon accused has done is that now the supporter of tougher anti-terrorism law will not be called ‘anti-minority’. Terrorism has no religion. It never had.

Life has never been so cheap and vulnerable before. And the sad fact is that we have been blinded by the bright light of a ‘resurgent economy’ and a nuclear deal that has brought us international acclamation. Unfortunately that same very light has made us falsely believe that everything is vibrant and functioning.

The present government has repeatedly said that it is against taking a knee-jerk action. But for how long? And is it correct to term a legitimate action important for national security as knee jerk action?

Bring in a law which will stop the terrorists from killing children, men and women, suspend talks with the militant groups wherever they are, arrest the separatists be it the Kashmiri or the Assamese. Do something that goes beyond words on mike and on paper.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A not so difficult choice

The issue of Marathi-manus that has been revived by Raj Thackrey has brought back the memories the early Shiv Sena days, when Bal Thackrey successfully used the same sociological-demographic theory to gain a foothold in the political bazaar of Maharashtra.

Although the BJP alongwith the other national parties did criticize the MNS for the recent violence that it carried out against the North Indians yet it chose to keep mum over the involvement of its ally the Shiv Sena.

Bal Thackrey in the party’s mouth piece was in no mood of being modest as he lauded the way his party workers taught the Biharis a lesson that they will never forget.

With the emergence of MNS, the spotlight that Bal Thackeray was once accustomed too has now shifted to his former protégée Raj Thackrey.

This has prompted Shiv Sena to try out new things or more appropriately they have now been forced to narrow down their focus which earlier was ‘anti-Islam’ to a more local issue of empowering the Marathi- manus.The dwindling power of Shiv Sena is not something that can be hidden. It never had a pan India following. The self appointed protector of Hinduism from god knows what, has now seen its ‘best’ days.

BJP is a national party with a set of agenda that it follows which is arrived upon after keeping the whole country in mind. But the same cannot be said about Shiv Sena. It has ambitions and methods that will rarely be appreciated out side Maharashtra. Even in Hindi speaking belt of Central and North India, Shiv Sena does not have any following.

It will be very difficult for the Sena to remould its political objectives now because that would amount to asking the party to shed its core issue. So it will be a long while until the Shiv Sena decides to abandon its policy of keeping Maharathra for Marathi.

An alliance with Shiv Sena may go wrong for the BJP if the opposition ‘politicize’ this issue properly. It will be a million dollar question that how will the BJP justify the protest against MNS on the one hand and the cake-talk with the Shiv sena on the other. Surprisingly none of the political parties have put this seemingly ‘uncomfortable’ question before the BJP.

On the face of it, the coming general elections are tilted in favour of the BJP. Call it anti-incumbency, call it inflation or call it the effects of terrorism. As of now the road for Congress is far steeper than it is for BJP.

The general elections are just round the corner. The recent violence by the MNS and the Shiv Sena has posed serious questions for the BJP to ponder upon. The think tank of BJP will now have to work out the pros and cons of allying with the Shiv Sena.

It will be in for a rude surprise if it thinks that its association with Shiv sena will go un-noticed If it continues to walk with them for reasons varied, it will surely lose out not only in the north-eastern states but in the others parts of India as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The death of an Indian

There was nothing extra-ordinary about Pawan Mahto, a resident of Bara- Khurd village in Nalanda district of Bihar.

The son of a poor farmer, Pawan was one of the hundreds of students from Bihar who were appearing for a railway recruitment exam in Maharashtra on Sunday.

He had hoped to pull himself and his family out of the vicious poverty cycle by getting into the railways. But his hopes were shattered and he died a tragic death after being beaten by the MNS activist for appearing in the recruitment exam.

He failed himself and his family. Or Perhaps he did not. May be he did his bit by seeing to it that at least his dead body brings in some financial help. As the news of his death came in , the Bihar Chief Minister announced a compensation of Rs.150,000 to Pawan's family. Maybe the compensation amount will weigh down the emotions of his old father and his wife.

The theory of Marathimanoos being preached by the goon turned politician called Raj Thackrey, just became more stronger. That too, at the expense of death of a youth who was poor,unemployed and someone who did not have big aspirations.

The death of a poor man will hardly make a news for more than a day or two. In this country hundreds die a non-deserving death. Pawan was just one of them.

Maybe thousands of words about Pawans death will appear on blogs, edit pages and newsite but still they will fall short of bringing out the true extent of what has occurred.

Pawans family do not access the internet. And even if they could, they would have surely searched in the vain hope of finding a better reason explaining their son's death.

The truth remains that he died because he was a North-East Indian. Also true is that he was a human being who must have felt pain when he died. Which of the two must have been more painful, the physical pain or the pain of being a north Indian, we will never know.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Congress losing ground

The more I see the double standards and the weak governance that is being practiced by the present Congress led government at the Center the more dismayed I feel at the levels to which the leaders fall for political gains.

After its ally, the DMK issued threat to the Manmohan Singh led UPA of pulling out of the alliance to express its concern with the Tamil issue in Srilanka, the Indian PM interfered in Srilanka’s internal issue and asked his counterpart to adopt a more humane way while dealing with a terrorist organization.

In another words, Manmohan Singh asked Rajapakse to show a bit more compassion while fighting the LTTE.

Political compulsion has forced the Gandhi family to conveniently forget that it was LTTE which was responsible for the death of hundreds of Indian peace keeping force and it was LTTE which made sure that Rajiv Gandhi paid with his life for sending IPKF to Srilanka.

Today in Maharashtra, a group of so called political activist led by a Bombay Scottish studied hoodlum, embarked on their mission to yet again project themselves as protector of ‘Marathimanus’, as a result of which north-eastern unemployed youths were brutally assaulted for appearing in railway recruitment board exams that were held in different part of the state

The same home minister, Shivraj Patil, who was earlier on forefront threatening the BJP government in Orissa and Karnataka with imposition of president rule for their failure to stop violence against the minority Christians has now chose to keep silence on the activity of MNS.

No ‘direct’ or even a ‘veiled’ threat or instructions was issued by the home minister to the Maharashtra CM to stop the repeated mockery of law and order.

Congress spokespersons appear on talk shows and say that the state government always takes necessary action against the MNS goons and its just that their party does not believe in announcing everything before the media.

Fifteen days later, the same violence is repeated, and again the same standard reply is forwarded by the party.

Perhaps they have forgotten the age old aphorism - "Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done."

What MNS in doing is not politics, not even by the farthest stretch of imagination. It can be called vandalism, a show of mob-strength. As of now MNS is not a political entity, but with the encouragement that it is receiving from the obvious political quarters it will soon turn into one, as did Shiv Sena.

This is not the first such incident and yet none of the senior leaders of the Congress have come in fore and called for taking action against Raj Thackery who is right now successfully enjoying the fruits of might is right.

It’s Vilas Rao Deshmukh who heads the Congress government in Maharashtra, and still the 10 Janpath people have not done anything concrete to stop the repeated assaults on the poor weak people apart from the regular titbit formality of arresting petty MNS workers and releasing them later.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this can be attributed to the fact that the Congress is virtually defunct in Bihar and despite its best claims; it is still miles away from making a serious impact in the neighboring Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. This might well be the reason for its decision to go slow on MNS in Maharashtra as taking stricter actions may alienate its Marathi vote bank. But it should not forget that ignoring MNSs antics will harm both the country and the Congress itself in the long run. History has more than enough examples to prove this point

Whatever good work that was achieved by the RTI and the NREGA now stands negated by the politically motivated steps that Congress has been treading these days.

When a strong political will was the need of the hour the country witnessed show of weakness.

Be it the nuclear deal or be it the current Srilankan issue, Congress has always gone for an embarrassing political compromise rather than face the public mandate. And I guess that this fear is not dumb founded. More and more voters are now witnessing everything that happens around them due to the ever penetrating media. Now Media is not merely a news giver but has donned the role of an opinion maker.

General elections are inevitable; it will happen, and someone will lose, others will not. Forecasting has never been my forte, but then you don’t need to be an astrologer to see the obvious.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The myth of a tolerant civilized India

We regularly talk and discuss about how we are moving away from a "tolerant civil society’' that has been termed as the ‘hallmark’ of Indian society.

Are we really moving away? An honest introspection would give us the answer. To move away we should have first achieved it completely. Its been more than 60 years since India achieved independence and during these 60 years there have been numerous incident that if looked into honestly enough would give us the answer that we have never been ‘ a civilized tolerant society’. Albeit the converse is more true.

We were intolerant when Kandhmal happened, we were uncivilized when MNS activist beat poor and weak people in full public view and we were brutal when Gujarat riots occurred.

The above incidents are just three of the many numerous pages of a book that is based on our society. A book whose theme is violence.

Look around you and we will find many such instances which will suggest that how far we are from being civilized. Road rage, mob violence, quarrels over sharing of seats in trains, violent incidents in educational organizations and not to forget the state assemblies paint a very painful picture. Even issues of religion are decided after scores of lives are lost.

The notion that we are a civilized and tolerant society is too sweeping and general in nature too be true, infact it’s an exception.

The country with the most religions and even more practitioners of these religions, we are always on look out for issues to show our inflated ego and might. The truth that religion preaches peace, not violence is conveniently forgotten as and when the situation arises.

A word of insult, sign of dissent and even a slight raise in voice invite violent repercussions. ‘Might is right’ continues to grow day by day- hour by hour.

As we become more independent psychologically and materialistically, the need for friends and allies is steadily disappearing. This has resulted is a thought process that forces us to acquire more of everything; power and wealth to counter the aggressive world. A world that owes its aggressiveness to us, the individuals , its we who constitute it.

What is needed from each individual is a small participation of not more than one minute. Politeness, compassion is words that should not just be written or preached but practiced in spirit. Letting go off ego, once if not twice will make huge difference. Taking initiatives to build new ties and strengthen old will make us more human if not humane.

Perhaps the dream of being a 'just' society is not that difficult to attain. Only if we could be just a little bit more humane...

Friday, October 03, 2008

Media and Politics hand in hand

With every new day our media is increasingly transgressing the boundaries that has been allotted to it for functioning as a ‘liberal media’. Every 9 out of 10 write-ups on terrorism that appear in a daily or a magazine is based on the basic premise that the terrorists that were shot or apprehended are innocent and the investigative agencies had concocted something false, a false story, a false investigation and more importantly a false encounter.

In the recent shoot out almost every national newspaper expressed that they were skeptical about the whole ‘setup’ that surrounded the Jamia Nagar encounter. Soon the electronic media followed suit

They came out with a series of questionnaire which were put before the public and security agencies. Though it’s another thing that the verdict to the questions was a foregone conclusion. “Police is guilty”.

The investigative agencies are always first to be blamed; for not investigating properly- for not following leads that could have stopped a blast and ultimately blamed for indulging in a false shootout.

With this increased pressure from the media political parties specially the Congress, are also feeling the heat. Congress leaders have gone on the records to say that they also feel that something was not right in the Delhi shout out.

The media has conveniently linked Islam and terrorism. In most of the terrorism related stories they say that Islam and terrorism should not be linked. Later in the same article they write that since the police are targeting terrorists the Muslim community is feeling insecure. Why give birth to this notion of fear in the Muslim community? What happened to the earlier stand of keeping Islam separate from the whole story?

Earlier the Congress was going soft on terror and now it’s the medias turn to tow their line. I may sound someone from the "low strata-not-so-educated" but still I take the liberty and ask the ‘Softist’ that how will they react if one of their kin becomes a victim of such blasts?

A terrorist whose participation in the parliament attack has been proved beyond doubt by the highest judiciary of the land is still enjoying the state treatment. Reason? The Congress doesn’t want to alienate the Muslim vote bank. Why this assumption? Has someone made any representation to them on behalf of the Muslims that they will feel alienated if Afzal is hanged?

Home minister Shivraj Patil says that the existing laws are enough to tackle terrorism. I guess he wants to send a message to us that we should be thankful to him and to the existing law and its ‘effective’ implementation for if it was not for the effective law and Patil himself , we would have been witness to more such incidents. Maybe every alternate day! Thank you sir, we feel honored.

Rajinder Puri in his column in Outlook has rightly and refreshingly lambasted the Political setup of this country. I guess if the ‘well read’ leaders of our country go though that piece they would be forced to introspect on what they said in the past and what they did in the present. But then some one told me that that ‘introspection’ for them is a word that translates into how to rectify their past errors and maximize their votes. Ah!! More hatred- more fiery speeches- more blasts.

In the end he suggests a ‘very very far fetched idea’ that the UPA and the NDA must get together to form a national government. The noblest of suggestion that I have come across but as the saying goes ‘the two shall never meet’. And I will be happier that they never meet for it will be hard to imagine what will emerge when their minds work collectively.

Whether it’s he Congress or the BJP everyone is on the proverbial ‘same plate’, though they look different even act different yet they are the same. Fraternal twins would be the appropriate word to describe them.

There the terrorists strike at will and here we are at our wits end on whom to select in the forthcoming polls. The dilemma is summed up in the following words

“The wave was with the Congress all this years
now they’ll find a solace in the saffron wear;
to again return to the Gandhi cap five here hence
for the path to salvation is still not ‘Left’.”

Kosi enters 'politics'

The Kosi river has changed its course in North Bihar. It appears, the flood caused by the river will change the political course too. A senior Janata Dal(U) leader and four times chief minister of Bihar, Jagannath Mishra may change the post-flood political course of the state too.

Agitated over the mismanagement and inadequate relief works in the flood-hit areas, an anguished Mishra resigned from the office of the chairman of the Kisan Cell of the party alongwith hundreds of his supporters and announced his decision to relinquish politics and devote the entire life for the Kosi sufferers.Mishra repeatedly alleged relief and rescue management was awfully bad.

His son, Nitish Mishra who is disaster management minister is too unhappy with JD (U) as he has been ignored in the flood relief management. Nitish invited the wrath of the chief minister, Nitish Kumar after eh allegedly leaked out a confidential letter of the then DM of Saharsa, Narmadeshwar Lal, warning the state secretariat of an imminent danger to Kosi embankment. The chief ministers suspects junior Mishra’s hand in the leak.

Mishra is trying to get reentry to the Congress through the good offices of Pranab Mukherjee. He is also being wooed by he BSP chief, Mayawati, who wants him to lead BSP in Bihar. With Dalit voters going to Mayawai, she hopes, Jagannath Mishra’s induction into the BSP may help party consolidate Brahmin votes to the Bahujan Samaj Party.

With the general election on anvil, the political picture in Bihar in the month of September, like in the previous month, was centered on the recent flood that has affected more than 25 lakh people.

With both Lalu Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan refusing to let go this opportunity of using the natural calamity to extract political mileage, the CM Nitish Kumar too was forced to jump into the bandwagon. The CM decided to celebrate the holy festival of Id in one of the many relief camps that have come up in the flood affected areas.

Earlier it was Lalu Yadav who was camping in and around the minority dominated camps so as to send out a friendly message to the community that had deserted him in the previous elections.

Similarly Ram Vilas Paswan too was not far behind as he gave every opportunity to the snap seekers to photograph him while he was distributing medicines in the various camps that were organized by SAIL. In case of Lalu it was Railways who was used as a messenger, and in the case of Paswan it was the PSU, SAIL that was deployed as a medium to seek political attention.

In between all this, the brick batting and the allegations and the counter allegations between the spokespersons of various parties continued to hog the limelight.

With Lalu Yadav announcing that flood will be the major issue in the next elections, another union minister, Paswan, too has decided to make poor flood management by the BJP-Janata Dal(U) government the main poll issue. Advertisements are appearing daily in the local television channels and the newspapers from various government departments highlighting the achievements of Nitish Government in flood management. The chief minister spent the entire Eid day among the flood hit Muslims in Araria. Paswan, too joined them in the relief camps .Lalu Prasad Yadav is visiting the relief camps almost every week.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, preferred to donate Rs one crores to a separate relief fund set up by Lalu instead of sending the cheque to the PM or CM relief fund. This development too leads to the belief that the flood in Kosi will definitely change in the political course in Bihar during the elections.

Madhya Pradesh analysis

Except in Madhya Pradesh where the Congress is still to decide on the candidate’s name for CM it can be safely said that in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the two other states that go to poll, a consensus on the names of Ashok Gehlot and Ajit Jogi has been arrived upon.

In Madhya Pradesh, unlike in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, there are too many names that are doing the rounds for the chair of CM and it can be termed a wise decision by the Congress high command to not to declare any name as that may have fuelled the already simmering inner discontent in the state Congress.

Sources within the party say that Union Commerce minister Kamalnath and Jyotiraditya Scindia have emerged as the chief contender for the chair. They also cite the ‘Pratibha Patil’ incident and say they will not be too surprised if someone else emerges from the oblivion in case the Congress wins.

Experts feel that the BJP will be successful in hoisting the saffron flag in the Central state albeit with a lower margin. Shivraj Singh Chauhan has focused more on developing the rural areas as compared to the urban regions and it with be the electorates from these regions that will make sure that Chauhan emerges winner.

This was visible when in one of the biggest political mass gatherings in history of MP thousands of BJP workers and supporters gathered in Bhopal for the launching of the campaigning for assembly polls.

The huge number made both the PM aspirant Lal Krishna Advani and party president Rajnath Singh overjoyed and they will be hoping to get a sizable number of seats from Madhya Pradesh in the Lok Sabha polls which are due next year.

Those who follow Madhya Pradesh closely will say that Chauhan has acted very prudently in run-up to the elections. During the previous government most of the development related works, inaugurations, announcement etc were done when the polls were in sight but this time Chauhan has focused on development issues all through out his tenure which will be more politically more effective than the huge poll bonanzas and the mass stone laying functions that the electorate are accustomed to witness in wake of the elections.

The almost written off Uma Bharti sprang a surprise when she successfully hoisted a massive public rally in the heart of the capital which was more than enough to cause lose of sleep for both the BJP and Congress. This has diminished the hopes of Congress forming the next government more because if Uma manages to win a good number of seat she will be more comfortable in forming an alliance with the BJP rather than with the Congress.

Enormous pressure forced the Congress to announce the first list of candidates who will be contesting in the elections. All the 39 sitting MLAs of the Party have been given the tickets. But the BJP is still to announce its list and if reports are to be believed, more than 40 of the sitting MLAs who have been rated as non-performers by the electorate in various surveys will be denied tickets.

But the problem in such case will be more with the BJP rather than with the ‘denied MLAs’, for the Uma Bharti’s BJS and the BSP who have nothing to lose will be more than ready to lure the dissidents.

Also in the previous elections many of the BJP MLAs won with a very slender margin that too because of the dissatisfaction on part of the electorate with Digvijay Singh coupled with the BJP wave which was strengthened by Uma Bharti. The same may not happen this time.

Internal dilemma abounds for the BJP. Through out his tenure Chauhan has done good work but the MLAs who are seen as the visible face of the party do not have an image that they would like to go out with among the voters.


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