Friday, October 30, 2015

When ‘anti-Dadri hero’ Pranab da found ‘JP Movement’ directionless !

“It is not the critics who count…..”  

Pranab Mukherjee does count ! We have also heard, every sinner or a saint has a past! So do I, so does President of India. 
Modesty- An Art too !!


In a previous blog I dealt a lot about respected President, Pranab Mukherjee. The call of natural justice demands that he should be given a chance to speak. So I thought of reading his mind vis-à-vis statesmanship. The best way would have been an interview; and which President will like to be interviewed by a blogger? So, one presumed it could be also okay to read President Pranab Mukherjee’s mind about state of affairs in the country -- through his latest book ‘The Dramatic Decade- The Indira Gandhi Years’ (published 2014).
 
I have been, however, selective in taking out the extracts. Obviously I would like to analyse them in the context of free speech, liberalism etc as Pranabda himself has lately tried to champion these causes.
Here’s a gem from Pranab da on the anti-Indira Gandhi – ‘JP Movement’ – which ultimately was responsible for imposition of Emergency -- if that's a yardstick of free speech is!
“…rationally speaking I could not support the movement. To me it appeared to be directionless. It was contradictory in that it was a movement fighting against corruption yet composed of people and parties whose integrity was not above board," wrote Pranab da, whom the media unhesitatingly called “the man for all seasons”. Here’s another statement of innocence from a man, who in later years in national polity emerged as permanent number 2 to Indira Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. The wily wizard had this to say about his political understanding or the understanding about Emergency.
“…at that time (I was a junior Minister) did not then understand its (Emergency’s) deep and far-reaching impact”.
But look at the manner in the same breadth, a President in circa 2015 gets disturbed about Dadri and writers returning not so important awards/certificates, he also talks about  ‘positivity’ of Emergency.
“While there is no doubt that it brought with it some major positive changes – discipline in public life, a growing economy, controlled inflation, a reversed trade deficit for the first time…..,” Pranab Mukherjee writes in the chapter ‘Jayaprakash Narayan’s offensive’.

He admits on one hand both Indira Gandhi and Congress party had to cough out a “heavy price” for the “misadventure” called Emergency, on the other playing a risk-free Congressman, he terms suspension of fundamental rights, press censorship, large scale arrest of political leaders and extending the life of legislature by not conducting elections as “some instances of Emergency”. 

On this backdrop, he says, Emergency was “perhaps an avoidable event”.

So what was Dadri and some media-bytes by BJP leaders? Were these also not avoidable too? 
Next comes his assertion of loyalty to Indira Gandhi after her defeat in 1977 elections; - not that this blogger had any doubt about it. 
“There were many prophets of sanity and sobriety after the defeat (for Congress and Indira), but where were they earlier? The seeds of split (of Congress party) were sown….I made up my mind to remain with Indira Gandhi, come what may. I knew that I had no skeleton in my closet though mud was slung at me by media…”.
A renowned loyalist to the Congress dynasty especially to Indira Gandhi that he was, Pranab da also writes, “…I was then working with A P Sharma, C M Stephen, R Gundu Rao and Vasant Sathe, and we took an active role against Barooah (D K). We usually moved in a group and took direction from Kamlapathi Tripathi and Indira Gandhi herself”.
Now let me come to the operative part – how to draw a conclusion to this blog.
Madam and Man Friday
Certainly, the issue was never a dispute whether he has been a family loyalist or not. But he has also differed with the ‘family interest’ in 1984 after Indira Gandhi’s death – when perhaps the inexperienced ‘prince crown’ Rajiv Gandhi took Pranab Mukherjee as a potential threat! Mukherjee had to move out of the party but his regional outfit Rashtroya Samajwadi Congress (1986 to 1989) did not cut ice with the people of West Bengal and was folded sooner than the later. 

It was perhaps only a matter of time that Pranab returned to the party fold and when Rajiv Gandhi died, he held one of the first press conferences where he was asked whether he was in the race to succeed Late Rajiv. 
Personal ambition could not be hidden yet again as Pranabda had said, “I will cross the bridge when I get there”. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Paper Tiger !! And His Moral Force in a Democracy

Once upon a time there was an intellectual. He hailed from the state of West Bengal. A former average and perhaps even below average politician, he longed to be a statesman.  That is the protagonist of this blog.


There was also a man called Hamish McDonald. He was a writer. He also authored a very controversial book. Once Hamish said in an interview, “He (our protagonist) was a friend of Dhirubhai way back when he was a minister for commerce, giving all the export-import licences (to Reliance). And then as finance minister (FM) in the Indira Gandhi government — it goes back to the time of those Isle of Man companies (1979-82), the dummy companies and the mysterious churning of Reliance shares.” (google out The Outlook website)
But that’s a different story. Hamish also wrote in his famous and controversial book, “The Polyester Prince – The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani’ : “According to New Delhi’s grapevine, the old P-D-A axis (short form is mine and D stood for R K Dhawan and A for Ambani axis) responsible for Reliance’s booming fortunes is currently reorganizing its scattered forces with V P Singh, the Finance Minister (under Rajiv Gandhi – blogger), as its principal target”.

The book also speaks about “first casualties” under Rajiv and they were “key friends of Dhirubhai”. “Rajiv sacked R K Dhawan from the Prime Minister’s Office within hours of his appointment. And in his first cabinet he replaced P (or other ‘PM’ or my protagonist) as Finance Minister with V P Singh, a choice that was eventually to bring down the heavens on both Dhirubhai and then Rajiv himself”. Well, neither Rajiv Gandhi nor Dhirubhai or even R K Dhawan is my protagonist. My protagonist is an ‘intelligent’ man and now waiting in the wings to go down the memory lane as a ‘statesman’.
He probably also wants to make bigger news in 2017. Perhaps he thinks he is the country’s most deserving person ! Intellectualism is an inherent virtue in every son and - my wife insists - even daughter of Bengal and Bengalis. So do the blogger, and obviously the PROTAGONIST too.
But in between comes a man called Narendra Modi. He is a phenomenon and a mixed bag. Thousands hate him. Bue he also inspires enormous trust as a man of action in a country where gossip and rumour mongering is the favourite past time and work shirking a born quality.

Now this man had made a few promises. Interestingly, he is trying to fulfill a few – at least those which can make people re-write history about a particular family and also about a few ‘top individuals’ who benefited and have been basking in the reflected glory of the particular dynasty. Thus, suddenly, here we come with a discovery of statesmanship. Dadri becomes an image of intolerance!

What was 1984, Bhagalpur and even Nandigram and Singur – remains a question – our intellectual protagonist may not answer. He ensured Left’s support system to MMS regime continue despite Nandigram.

There have been occasions the protagonist has displayed his anger publicly during Parliament debate and also during interactions with journos. He may do so again, if he at all reads my blog. This is also a Bengali virtue – comes to us with alu-sheddo (alu chokha – boiled potato) rice and fish. So, what’s bothering the intellectual’s mind?
“January 2016” ! Why? Because Modi says he would reveal some of the old files related to another Bengali son – Netaji Subhas Bose !

Tail Piece:
(Following extract is from website Rediff.com
Link - http://www.rediff.com/news/special/did-pranab-mukherjee-play-a-role-in-the-netaji-mystery/20120702.htm)
“In 1995, in deference to the advice of the Intelligence Bureau, the Union Cabinet decided not to bring the so-called ashes of Bose to India from Japan. But Mukherjee flew to Germany, and according to unverifiable claim of a former MEA official, says Anuj Dhar in his book, tried to bribe Bose's Austrian wife to certify his death by giving a written approval to take the ashes to India as that of Netaji's.
Netajis' octogenarian wife Emilie Shenkel was enraged at Pranab's proposal and asked him to leave her house as she, like most of her family members, believed that Bose was in Russia after his death -- a fact glossed over by a recent book by Sugata Bose, son of former Congress MLA and Mukherjee's friend the late Sisir Bose, says Dhar.
Later, when a report misquoted Mukherjee saying that Emilie had given the permission to bring the ashes to India, she lashed out saying, 'Pranab Mukherjee was propagating an untruth for reasons best known to him and the government of India', the new book says. 'A decade later, Pranab Mukherjee was described in the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry report as one of the seven witnesses who had testified before it in favour of the story on Bose's death.”

Saturday, October 24, 2015

What made Khushwant Singh demand abolition of Sahitya Akademi?


(In 1999, there was neither Dadri nor Narendra Modi phenomenon. But a man like Khushwant Singh truly served as a mirror to the development of Indian English literature.)

Sahitya Akademy is in news for all obvious reasons for about a month now. But amid a thirst for publicity in the garb of protecting India's liberal culture, many writers have returned their awards. BJP president Amit Shah has virtually dismissed the protest saying, "All the writers returning their awards are protesting against Congress and Samajwadi Party governments". His argument being Dadri happened in Samajwadi-ruled Uttar Pradesh and perhaps most awards were given during Congress regime. 
For reasons best known to the patrons of Sahitya Akademy, a body formed in 1954 is run by government money, does not pass the test of critical and clinical objectivity. 

In an interview given to me (blogger, then a Reporter with Press Trust of India (PTI) in 1999, Khushwant Singh had demanded for abolition of Sahitya Akademi sparking off editorial comments.
Of course, Khushwant Singh is known for his unconventional mannerism. Marxist Ashok Mitra once called him a ‘pretender’ of a writer. 

(Excerpts of an interview given by Khushwant Singh to Nirendra Dev, Courtesy PTI Golden Jubilee Souvenir, 1999) 

# Tell us about your impression on Indian writing in English in the 20th century?

Khushwant: Well for the first time I think India has emerged on the world writing map. The tremendous contribution made by our writers in English has made it possible for writers outside English speaking countries to earn a niche for themselves. We have produced a stream of first rate writers. They are not only Indian writers but also writers in their own right. Two-three names I can take are Raja Rao, R K Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand and of course Nirad babu (Nirad C Chaudhury)..then comes Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Ruskin Bond…another name Amitava Ghosh.  

# Do works of Indian writers in English really reflect the realities of Indian societies? Are they alive to social awakening?

Khushwant Singh: Usually this is the complaint against English writers. But this is never true. Such criticism stems from jealousy than anything else. Because, generally themes of all their works are based in India. And they handle both the plot and the theme with greater sensitivity and skill than the writers in other Indian languages – like Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali, of which I mostly read translation works. 
I will also say that English writers display a sharper eye and taste for depth and details. They also cover a wider landscape than other Indian languages. ‘Arey yaar’ in Indian languages there is no equivalent for many English phrases and words. To Indian writers birds can only fly in neela asmaan (blue sky). English writers put a lot of research and specify the wide-ranging varieties of birds and animals. Have you seen that ‘Everest Hotel’ by Allen Sealy.

# Tell us something about the success story of Indian writers in English, especially vis-à-vis the flow of money.

Khushwant Singh: Well that is the cause of maximum jealousy. Who is that fellow from Sahitya Akademi who often comes out with a crusade against English writing? I don’t understand what’s really wrong if some writers through their works make crores of rupees or works from humble people like me run into publications worth lakhs of rupees. The fact of the matter is that it is the survival of the fittest.  
That is why I oppose any kind of patronage. The Sahitya Akademi really does not serve anything purposeful other than ‘thoda paisa de diya..udhar award de diya’...The Akademi should be abolished. Those writers who don’t find publishers let them die. Let us not publish anything just for the sake of it. That is why some publishing houses have come up who charge writers themselves to publish their materials. May be even they consider the stuff bad to be marketed.

# Then how do you visualize the future of Indian writing in future?

Khushwant Singh: There is a bright prospect. Most of the writers who have made a mark in this century (20th century) are young. They can go on for 20 to 30 years more….The positive thing is that none of them played to the audience, which creative people should never do. They have not restricted themselves to or concentrated on a singular theme of joint family and so on. They have shown flexibility to move with time and handled their subjects with great skill and craftsmanship. 
# What direction would Indian writing in English take? Will we have more of best sellers?

Khushwant Singh: Why not? It is a good trend. I don’t understand why anybody should object to writers like Arundhati Roy, Shobha De and Vikram Seth making large sums of money. By writing best sellers they have not diluted their quality. Arundhati, I think, writes near classical with a good command over language. Amitava Ghosh and Vikram Seth also handle the language very well and display sensitivity.

# Do you think emergence of digital technology, data system or internet culture could be harmful to a creative art like writing?

Khushwant Singh: I really don’t understand all these. I still (1999) write in long hand. I cannot even type, not to speak about these gadgets. But what’s the problem if some people use laptops.

# As a veteran, what is your advice to young writers…your fans?

Khushwant: That’s something very dangerous. Good writers should never try to emulate anybody. Oh Fans! I also have a large number of detractors. I have the best of friends who tell me on my face that I write absolute filth. There was an editor friend who once said I make an art of bullshit. I said I take it as a compliment.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Arun Jaitley's SELF-GOALS on Rajya Sabbha? Or The Second Chamber remains a belligerent House?


Arun Jaitley is easily described in the media as a suave. The synonymous check suggests equivalent words could be – sophisticated and charming. But somehow, he is no longer the ‘charming’ guy despite his media-management charms vis-à-vis senior journalists and a select team of writers in Lutyen’s city. In fact, many are puzzled over his actual role – in the Narendra Modi cabinet – as in recent weeks more than the 'Finance Minister' trying to guide country’s economy at a tough time, he is more busy as chief spokesman of the government. But his sound bytes and lengthy blogs and Facebook postings have also sparked a minor debate whether Jaitley is no longer the “balanced” member of his government.

His “self-goals”, as goes an editorial in The Statesman, were more about his statements on the relevance of Rajya Sabha on the backdrop of the powers of an “elected Lok Sabha”. 
Jaitley nevertheless is Leader of the Rajya Sabha. 
Namo and his 'best' spokesman!

Some of his admirers say Jaitley has perhaps also barked the wrong tree by blasting at the literary figures and lately also joining a debate with the Supreme Court when the latter turned out government’s new National Judicial Appointment Commission.
But when Jaitley makes a statement or write something, he does his homework pretty well.
Taking the debate further on the relevance of Rajya Sabha, one ought to say that Jaitley’s remarks are less of adventurism and more of frustration. The continuous legislative deadlock in the Rajya Sabha has angered and left the Modi government frustrated. But with the limitations of numbers, Jaitley as Leader of the Rajya Sabha and a key floor manager is helpless. 
So he is turning to the Salisbury Convention of the United Kingdom, which says, the House of Lords (on which Indian Rajya Sabha is modeled) do not reject any legislation that has been supported by the electorate that is the lower House of Parliament. 
 Apni Marzi se kahan apni safar ke hum hain
Rukh hawaaon ka jidhar ka hai udhar ke hum hain

When Jaitley's expertise cost Modi-Shah duo dearly
(This journey is not of our making,
We go in whichever direction the wind blows)
 The above passage from a popular Ghazal would sum up the manner politicians have tried to use arguments on bicameralism in their favour. Arun Jaitley has been no exception himself as it’s he who as LoP Rajya Sabha had justified ‘pandemonium’ as a key parliamentary tool. Now let us see how political class has handled legislative councils (state-level version of Rajya Sabha or Second Chamber).
In Odisha, Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal wants creation of a Vidhan Parishad (legislative council) while opposition Congress, which is determined to safeguard the honour of Rajya Sabha, hardly finds justification in creating another forum when the state Assembly “is not allowed” to meet for the mandated 60 days every year.

These are nothing new as states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu under powerful chieftains have had their respective rounds of tales. In Tamil Nadu, the Council was abolished by the M. G. Ramachandran on 1 Nov. 1986. In 2010 the DMK regime headed by M. Karunanidhi tried to revive the Council. Andhra Pradesh has a second chamber now but the CM Chandrababu Naidu wants to do away with it. The Vidhan Parishad has been in existence in two spells - from 1958 and was abolished in 1985 and again brought in from 2007.

Seven states -
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jammu and Kashmir have bicameral legislature, but in no state perhaps there’s a case of ‘good performance’ by legislative council members in terms of law making and debate.
Powers of Rajya Sabha

Besides Odisha, Assam and West Bengal have lately favoured second chambers.

# More recently, Rajya Sabha’s amendments were crucial to the formation of three states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand in 2000.

# It is not that the Congress has only used the powers of Rajya Sabha to embarrass the Modi government. In 1989, Rajiv Gandhi government too faced the music. The Constitution 64th Amendment Bill and 65th Amendment Bill – relating to Panchayati Raj institutions and municipal bodies – though passed by Lok Sabha “could not be passed by Rajya Sabha” as the motion could not be carried in accordance with the provisions of Art. 368.
# Rajya Sabha had defeated the Constitution 24th Amendment Bill, 1970 which intended to abolish privy purses. In Constitution 45th Amendment Bill, 1978, the Rajya Sabha had deleted five important clauses as passed by Lok Sabha. This Act provided safeguards against the misuse of Emergency provisions and guaranteed the right to media to report freely the proceedings of Parliament and State Legislatures.

Today, everyone seems to agree that the chambers in Indian parliament – the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha – are in conflict with each other, at least this is what Arun Jaitley, a suave Finance Minister and Leader of the upper House has tried to imply. “The wisdom of a directly elected House (that is Lok Sabha) is questioned repeatedly by the indirectly elected House (Rajya Sabha),” he had said almost tongue-in-cheek sparking off a national debate on the relevance of bicameral system itself. 
Search for Wheels within Wheels

The Congress member Madhusudhan Mistry has moved a privilege motion against Jaitley saying the Minister’s statement “creates an impression in the minds of the people in public, also in media that Rajya Sabha has no authority….It reflects as if Rajya Sabha must abide by whatever transpires in the Lok Sabha and has to just put a seal on it”
Jaitley for his part as a lawyer argued eloquently taking the shelter of freedom of speech and said, “…the legislation approval is becoming extremely challenging …this (obstructionism) has slowed down the process of legislation approval”.

But Jaitley’s exuberance is neither for the first time in the history of Parliament democracy nor in isolation. Jaitley’s party chief Amit Shah endorsed him recently.
In a media interview Shah has said, “In a democratic republic, the House of the People should have supremacy. Every law for development of the country — and its people endorsed the House of People — gets stuck in the Upper House".

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Is BJP losing plot in Bihar? Have things gone wrong for Narendra Modi?


Have things gone wrong for Narendra Modi in Bihar? Is RSS not very keen for BJP victory under the Modi-Amit Shah duo? Have people of Bihar forgotten Lalu Prasad’s Jungle Raj? Or it's Nitish Kumar’s personal image that’s the real game-changer?

Amid these questions, the answers for most if not all these questions revolve around the political-journalism’s guessing game. But there are certain issues – and ear-on-ground feedback based on first two rounds of polls and those need closer scrutiny.
The first two rounds of polls in Bihar on October 12 and 16 have left BJP-led NDA in certain doubtful situations as there's no clear trend emerging in their favour and at the same time there's large scale apprehension that Maha Dalit votes in the name of Jitan Ram Manjhi is not getting transferred to the NDA kitty.
Muslim Women: Can they trust Lalu?
"The polling of first two phases gives us confidence but no surety," summed up a BJP source admitting the perceived division among smaller caste groups (non Yadavs and
non Paswans) have thrown up new challenges before the leadership.
BJP's own analysis is while Manjhi and his party candidates have themselves done well in the seats they are contesting, the smaller caste groups vote share is not quite getting transferred to other NDA candidates. Moreover, there has been a latent one-upmanship battle on the ground between Maha Dalit (Manjhi) and Dalit (Paswan) party workers. 

Thus, the BJP’s internal take is at best from the first two phases of polls – the NDA may bag 41 to 45 seats out of 81. This, according to BJP strategists, is much less than what was expected based on their assessment about two months back.

Results and Methods
This resulted in a sort of knee-jerk reaction typical of Narendra Modi’s style of functioning. Like most hard task masters, he looks for results more than the methods. 
Three member panel was set up comprising Ananth Kumar, Dharmendra Yadav and Bhupinder Yadav. 
The unconfirmed reports say they had a dressing down from the Prime Minister himself.
However, acting quickly the party’s leadership took feedback from the panel and decided to bring about certain changes in its electoral strategy in Bihar campaign with the general focus now shifting to local state leaders, caste factors on ground and also banking on the goodies. While the media has already tried to lay emphasis on cancellation of rallies, the BJP’s thought process is if Modi’s mega rallies despite attracting crowd is not ensuring turn them into voters, they should focus on state leaders.
“What’s more important, a mere prestige issue of mega rallies or winning votes,” remarks a state BJP leader.

In effect the emphasis is not on state leaders as experts in TV studios and 'sickular journalism' feel; its on caste management. Therefore, where Brahmin voters matter – the party has now lately come with posters of Ashwini Chaubey and if Yadavs matter, its Nand Kishore Yadav and Hukumdev Narayan Yadav.


To break things into simpler forms, BJP’s take away from first two phases of elections are the following:
-   Muslim consolidation and smaller caste groups division can prove nightmare for NDA.
- Huge women turnout -- the fair sex want to have say in government formation and peace/law and order situation being their principal focus.

But BJP sees a catch in Muslim consolidation and larger turnout. “The women Muslim voters may not like to get back to Lalu Prasad raj as they too were victims during that period,” a Muslim BJP leader says adding large turnout of women thus can be interpreted as going in “favour of NDA and even JD(U) candidates but Lalu Prasad’s RJD may have to pay price”.

BJP sources, importantly, claim that "the fear of Yadav-Raj in Bihar (alias Jungle Raj and lawlessness)" - will help BJP-led NDA. The Yadavs are divided on the ground and Lalu factor has brought in an undercurrent of "non-Yadavs" consolidation". The Yadav division is attributed to Pappu Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav's presence though marginally. 
That BJP wants to make a big issue of Lalu Prasad vis-à-vis jungle-raj allegation can be understood from Ravi Shankar Prasad’s remarks, "Only the NDA can give peace, stability and development”. BJP has also dug out an old letter of Nitish Kumar lampooning at Lalu regime.

With elections in 32 assembly seats in the second phase today and 49 seats in the first phase earlier, all eyes will now be on the remaining 162 constituencies.
The people of Bihar, mostly mocked outside their state for one reason or the other', holds the trump card to decide next course of national politics.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Narendra Modi and Sanjiv Bhatt: Backtrack to Future Tense


The Supreme Court has nailed Sanjiv Bhatt, but probably he does deserve sympathy.

This blog is about two people. One politician and the Prime Minister of India and the other a Gujarat cop - now dismissed. From a reader’s perspective there are always different ways of looking at a blogger. On the other hand, bloggers too preserve their rights and prejudices too.
Narendra Modi has been a politician, a chief protagonist of my three books on his state and him – 'Godhra – A Journey to Mayhem' (published 2004), ‘Modi to Moditva – An Uncensored Truth’ (2012) and ‘CM to PM - Narendra Modi' (a joint work with a Delhi-based publisher in 2013). But Modi was never a friend though I had always admired him for certain traits as an administrator in Gujarat and as a 'grounded' leader who looked decisive on many matters chiefly working on developmental projects. 

On the other hand, Sanjiv Bhatt was a good friend and more a 'good source' in Gujarat police when I was deputed by Press Trust of India (PTI) there to cover the year’s toughest assignment the post-Godhra mayhem of 2002.


I always believed Sanjiv or our 'Sanjiv Sahab' never lied to me. I will continue to cherish this belief. 

But on October 13, 2015, none other than the Supreme Court of India had choicest of words and phrases for him.
“We are not impressed by aforesaid submissions. It cannot be said that the petitioner (Sanjiv Bhatt) has come to this Court with clean hands,” the court of Chief Justice of India H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra ruled.

I continued to be in a mystified stage as the reports of the court proceedings came in. Of course, I knew from 2009-10 that Sanjiv Bhatt was perhaps erroneous in his handling of the entire episode wherein he had filed an affidavit claiming Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat told select few senior police officials (on February 27, 2002) that the Hindu rioters should be allowed to avenge the injustice of Godhra train inferno.
Other police officials, including the then DGP K Chakravarthy had denied that Sanjiv Bhatt had attended such a meeting. There was no police record to substantiate Sanjiv's claims too. The official version being – he was too junior to be summoned for such a high-level meeting. 
Godhra's charred train and Modi: Feb 27, 2002
Despite regarding him a friend and ‘reliable source’ – to use a journalistic cliche – I was somehow not convinced about Sanjiv Bhatt’s version. I was often ridiculed in the established-secular lobby of New Delhi and Ahmedabad journalism for my ‘not trusting’ a friend and backing a Hinduva leader, Namo.

I probably went by my instincts and thought Sanjiv Bhatt must have fallen into some wrong hands. The official claim that Sanjiv Bhatt was too junior to attend such a meeting somehow worked in me. One reason for the same being, only ‘trusted’ senior cops would be convened for a high-level meeting with a Chief Minister. I knew from my experience in Nagaland, mere seniority does not make you win a Chief Minister’s trust. S C Jamir, the former Nagaland Chief Minister and the present Odisha Governor, had tutored me a few tricks of running an administration!

So my argument was: even if Sanjiv Bhatt was authorized to go to such a meeting (in the absence of his senior), there was no surety the Chief Minister would trust a junior fellow. To say that Sanjiv Bhatt did not know this would be wrong again!
Nevertheless, the detailed ruling from the apex court of the land and that too telling in as many words that  Sanjiv Bhatt has used ‘media card’ and was only a tool to Modi’s political detractors was a sad affair overall.

The court had ruled, “He (Sanjiv) had exchanged  e-mails with rival political party leaders and was being tutored by the  lawyer of NGO and its activist. Ghost questions and answers were also prepared as to what the petitioner was required to speak before Justice Nanavati Commission. Petitioner has used the media card, has even sent the e-mails to influence the judicial proceedings of a  3-Judge Bench of this Court (Supreme Court) and has tried to influence the amicus  curiae. The e-mails also indicate that he tried pressure groups and  tried to invoke media pressure”.

I felt let down. 
Did Sanjiv use some of his media friends too and needless to add as basking in the ‘glory’ of being one-man against Modi – Sanjiv’s friend circles in media had changed by then. His onetime ‘babu moshai from Mumbai’ (this blogger) was hardly in the inner circle! And thus during December 2012 election campaign for the state assembly, my interaction with Sanjiv Bhatt – when his wife Shweta was contesting against Modi from Maninagar assembly segment - was minimum and more of a courtesy meeting.

Sanjiv’s friends now were high flying journos, TV anchors and Padmasri awardees!
On October 14, a day after the apex court ruling, I confided in my wife and few close friends in Delhi and Mumbai and also with one special friend on Facebook that overall it was a ‘sad’ affair. Sanjiv has been slammed – this time not by BJP’s battery of spokespersons but by the Supreme Court itself. And if Sanjiv sahab had any ‘media card’ – our profession has been misused.

I have stated earlier of the apprehension I had about him falling into ‘wrong hands’ – for essentially I thought and many journalists who have served in Ahmedabad would believe that he was a sharp cop.
In my book ‘Modi to Moditva – An Uncensored Truth’, I traced a few fond memories of his genuine friendship and helping me in discharge of my duties as a journalist for a highly demanding wire agency Press Trust of India (PTI).
A Derailed bus!
But, I am afraid, one cannot sympathise with him further. So, rather one is convinced to take the harsh but candid line of a noisy TV anchor that ‘the credibility of Sanjiv Bhatt is over’. This is perhaps a big casualty of the 2002 Godhra train inferno and the subsequent politics perpetrated from either side.

On a broader larger scale, what angers me most is the gross abuse of police force, IPS cadre and a brilliant police officer – despite his temperamental and other issues – by Modi detractors. This judgement of the Supreme Court, according to me, has made our friend Sanjiv Bhatt the Man-of-the-year 2015 – of course with the sad elements attached to it.

Is Sanjiv Bhatt it a case of abuse of a ‘weakest’ link by Congress party and the NGO brigade?

We know in contest of un-equals or unbalanced confrontation, like the story of David and Goliath; the weakest has to outsmart the strongest. My friend just could not. Who can outsmart the political class as a group? 
We might see a morrow, wherein Narendra Modi and Sonia Gandhi would join hands – solve national problems and share power and the limelight together; where will be my helpless friend then? He will not approve of what I am stating. My friend, Sanjiv sahab is still active in social networking. He has the right to do so. But he needs to pull himself back for a while. And I sincerely feel so, more in my personal capacity.
(ends)

Tail Piece:

Sanjiv Bhatt would still sit in some corner and probably tell himself and his wife – “the cause I am fighting is bigger than me”, as he had told TV journalists in 2011 after he was released from prison for being arrested in a related case. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Subhas Bose Mystery: Between ‘Past lies’ and ‘Future Truth’ remains an ‘Uncomfortable Present’


In the dirty world of politics it seems, Narendra Modi’s single most important quality is to remain methodical in unnerving the Congress party and shake their hitherto untouched ‘dynasty’. 
The return of ‘Subhas Bose mystery’ in the national debate – at least for next few months – till January 23, 2016 actually endorses the theory that contemporary Indian history was badly rigged. It was manipulated in favour of one particular family, one particular political party and one particular political thinking – Left of Centre – if someone wants to call it. 

In Gulzar’s famous film ‘Machis’, based on Punjab terrorism, one key protagonist attributes his reason of joining terrorism or violent cult of politics to a question he had faced many a times during his school days, “tell the class, who brought Indian independence”. That’s precisely the way post-Indian independence history has been written and taught. The sole goal being: glorifying one family and give entire credit to one ‘surname’ Gandhi! It’s ironical the dynastic power transferred to Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as a strategic master stroke and there by my Class IV daughter needs to be told, who is Rajmohan Gandhi; but knows the likes of Rahul and Priyanka!

Extract from Anuj Dhar's book
Let’s face another facet of country’s struggle for independence. It’s the glorification of a half-hearted episode called Quit India movement. “Many Indians still do not want to accept and perhaps never will that, that the ‘failed’ INA military onslaught and the Red Fort trials of 1945-46 , and not Quit India movement, majorly impacted the British decision to quit India,” writes Anuj Dhar, a die-hard Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose admirer, in his highly appreciable book ‘India’s Biggest Cover Up’.

Taking the discussions further, we need to examine, how was Pt Jawaharlal Nehru’s basic treatment to Subhas Bose episode? He time and again rejected demand for a probe and repeatedly accepted the well-run theory that “Subhas Bose’s death is correct”. But there were certain facets and traits that made others comment not so favourably on Nehru. Sri Chinmony, an India-born spiritual leader who passed away in 2007 in the US, had said, “even regarding Netaji’s plane crash and death, Nehru’s own public pronouncement contradicted each other."
Namo with Bose kin: Oct 14, 2015
Even Nehru suffered from uncertainty nights or perhaps he deliberately wished to mould reality-day in his own way! …God only knows if Nehru deliberately misrepresented the truth or if he himself was a captive of uncertainty”, he had said further.
While Congress-dynasty retainer-variety politicians P R Dasmunshi (now ailing) and Shivraj Patil quickly dumped Mukherjee Commission report on the Netaji’s death mystery and sought to glorify Nehru’s defence of INA personnel during Red Fort trial; Nehru had categorically rejected demand by West Bengal assembly for a probe into Netaji mystery in 1952. 
“The state government should be informed that we have taken all steps that was possible for us…” he had responded after Dr Atindranath Bose on 6 Aug, 1952, told west Bengal assembly the demand for a probe into Netaji’s death was “a very faint echo of a national desire which is surging in the heart of Bengal”. 

Bose Kin called Oct 14 'an Independence Day'
There’s another major contradictions and albeit hypocrisy in the manner post-independent India behaved with Netaji and his followers.
“The ‘free’ India government remained hostile to Subhas Bose,” says Dhar in his book. In 1948, Nehru told Parliament that the INA men would have no place in the Indian army. (To reinstate them would lead to many complications….--- was the official version).
Worse in 1949, Army Headquarters issued a circular against displaying the picture of Subhas Bose at permanent places in canteens, quarters etc”.
The Defence ministry also maintained that the history of INA should not be published lest it should affect the moral of the soldiers.

As late as 2005, the Home Minister Shivraj Patil said Mukherjee Commission probing Netaji mystery was wasting government money; -- the Congress desperation is a story to be looked into.
So, have I tried to raise a few right questions? 
In Congress parlance up to this day, ironically despite the worst defeat in Congress history in 2014 and the party routed to ‘zero’ or near zero in many states including the national capital, the Nehru-Indira-Sonia family is sadly the only master after God. 
Even Jinnah was victimised!
The Congressmen and women and their secular (read SICKULAR) ‘Cahoots’ tend to believe in their sheer self justification that, - If we believe in the Family and show loyalty we cannot be guilty. But the spirit of salvation is linked to a desperation.  
Thus, the desperation against Narendra Modi is understandable and this can be linked to fantastically orchestrated writers’ protest as none of these supposed intellectuals had in the past questioned or lamented over the wrong doings/happenings during the Congress regime in last 60 years. My understanding is Netaji kin meeting with PM Modi was announced well in advance and thus in a manner the Congress gameplan was ‘attack’ is a way of defence.
Beneficiary: But how long?
"The new strategy of anti-Modi, anti-BJP sections appears to be to resort to 'politics by other means'," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wrote in his blog piece very aptly. 
In one of my blogs last year, I had said, by focusing on Nehru's brighter spots and virtues - including knowledge of English, good rapport with Britons like Lord Mountbatten to Sir Stafford Cripps and later his role in stewarding free India, scholars have only judged him softly with kids gloves. On the other hand, circumstances have compelled two others Subhas Bose and Mohammed Ali Jinnah to be judged rather harshly. Time for course correction has come, may be.

But the noisy television media has a point this time. "If Netaji was alive after air crash and if Nehru knew about it....Nehru would stand guilty".
(ends)

Tail Piece:

Courtesy: Dhar's book 'India's Best Cover Up'