Saturday, April 23, 2016

Uttarakhand politico-legal battle: And media's very own Crisis of Credibility

The World in Photos This Week
Photo: Foreign Policy website
      What is journalism, what does it mean in our lives? Why should it mean anything?

On this backdrop let us take a closer view at Uttarakhand development, the fierce legal battle and the media coverage.

The over enthusiasm among sickular brigade has yet again led us to sub-standard journalism. The question is immaterial as the enthusiasm is linked to Narendra Modi bashing.
That Uttarakhand High Court verdict was harsh on Narendra Modi made all and sundry happy...especially Namo baiters. And hence the excitement prevailed ---- for them high court verdict was equivalent to sending Modi to gallows.
Even the likes of Subramanian Swamy got an opportunity and lashed out at Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, no friend of Swamy obviously!
So immature reporting surfaced – almost in the manner 19-year-old Kanhaiya Kumar became a threat to India’s incumbent prime minister! Harish Rawat became instantly a chief minister. Even popular media organizations, supposed to thrive on credibility the vital C of A,B,C of journalism started addressing Harish Rawat as chief minister.

That Rawat has been a good host to the union meet of a news organization workers is another issue to ponder over.

My perception is that the quick conclusion that Harish Rawat 'returns' as CM interpretation itself was wrong. My logic is not based on any scholarly knowledge on legal matters. It was only logical. Rawat could return in official sense only after revokation of President’s Rule by President and there should have been a Governor's order. 
The argument is again logical. Court is only a judiciary, a key pillar of democracy and executive powers are with President and Governor – and a popular government in office – incidentally that’s headed by Narendra Modi.
Rawat himself walked into a trap of media hype and ill-advice by master in that art – Kapil Sibal. To refresh memories, Sibal as the union minister had threatened “we can rein in” Baba Ramdev theory and poor P Chidambaram implemented it. The result is 2014 electoral drubbing – in the ultimate.

But artful self-obsessed intellectuals of national capital do not learn any lesson. Sibal is one of them who even takes credit for losing a battle. So his advice along with Ambika Soni to otherwise innocuous Harish Rawat, the "hill man", was to preside over the reins of power. It is altogether the Governor should not have allowed such a "cabinet meeting". It remains to be found whether Chief Secretary took an approval from the Raj Bhavan before rolling out the red carpet for Rawat's "cabinet meetings". Incidentally, the Congress enthusiasm was so much that they took two cabinet sittings.
A perfect bus!

Worse part is Rawat presided cabinet meetings even without written order from the court. Should not the chief secretary attract disciplinary actions?
By interpretation that high court order was good enough to take charge – my case is, if I win a case against my brother--- the land becomes not absurd” ....The court order actually only PAVES MY WAY TO GET THE LAND.

So correct reporting would have been: HC order paves the way for return of Rawat.
But the game was elsewhere -- that was in excitement that Modi has been thrashed by the court orders. Hence, secular intellectuals went ballistic. We forgot courts only have recommendation power. Executives have the liberty to challenge it in higher court or abide without resisting.
Poor standard of English journalism prevailed. Even a former MP Kuldip Nayyar was wrong, I am afraid.
 I spoke to him and filed a story, wherein he told me:
"The ruling makes it clear that Harish Rawat was wrongly removed as chief minister. His position as the leader of the house and the chief minister has been restored now," Nayyar said.

But some other experts I spoke to were reasonable. They were modest guys -- unlike Somnath Chatterjee variety self-righteous intellectuals or Arvind Kejriwal's wisdom school.
Especially those inclined towards the Bharatiya Janata Party and the central government had disagreed on Rawat's status on Thursday (Aprril 21) "pending revocation" of the President's Rule.

 So, that Rawat called midnight cabinet meetings and took several decisions does not mean he had the right. Governor did not act. Actually he remained passively inactive --- this raises bonafide questions about his intentions. K K Paul, is a Congress appointee and so that means he too could be wrong. Why Modi government is soft pedling on replacing Paul, a former Delhi police commissioner, is another puzzle.

The observation made during the hearing in the Supreme Court, by Justice Shiva Kirti Singh: “If I were the High Court judge, I would have made my judgment operational only after three or four days when it is signed and ready. It is more on propriety than legality. Governance of a state cannot be left in the lurch” – is actually a very powerful message. 

This should not be ignored.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Why BJP faces uphill task in "pro-communists" Bengal?

For Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its right wing politics of neo-nationalism, liberal economic policies and even pro-Hindutva religious slant, poll-bound West Bengal offers more than a Herculean challenge and jigsaw puzzle.

Even as the saffron party's electoral fortune surged ahead in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, slowly the party leaders are realising that at several quarters in the on-going assembly polls, more than the organisational weaknesses, the saffron party faces "basic ideological barriers".

Culturally and intellectually, Bengali voters are "essentially pro-Left", say those in the know of things. "The fact that Bengali voters and even other citizens in the state remained pro-Left ideologically, culturally and intellectually it  make things difficult for BJP in West Bengal unlike neighbouring Assam where the pro-Hindutva slant actually always had acceptance among upper caste Assamese voters," says one leader.

                               Tough for rightist party like BJP in largely Left-leaning Bengal

Thus the saffron party poll managers believe that while the party is near the striking distance in Assam, despite all efforts to woo the voters as against the non-performance of the Left and even Mamata Banerjee-headed Trinamool Congress, BJP finds the going tough in terms of winning over seats. In Assam, upper caste Hindus could relate to Brahminical appeal of the RSS and the BJP unlike in West Bengal where "ironically upper caste Bhadrolok" have been associated with the Marxist politics for decades now.

In fact, other than BJP leaders, even Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav, a former associate of BJP and onetime convener of NDA, says, "Indian leftists cold not make much headway in northern states as they could not appeal to backward and lower caste groups. Thus these lesser privileged communities flocked to the socialists block".

In the Bengal context, even the state Governor K.N. Tripathi told a seminar in February this year in Kolkata that while higher educational institutions are becoming hubs of politics, "the role of the students organisations should be changed. It is to inform and to make the students aware through lawful means. This is a factor which needs to be taken care for the larger interest of the society". 

Many see Governor's remarks this as commentary on violence-oriented political culture in West Bengal -- which again largely draws inspiration from communists way of looking at things. Trinamool MP and former union Minister Sishir Adhikari has merits in his analysis: "Under Marxists misrule and when Singur and Nandigram happened, people of Bengal saw us as the genuine followers of communists ideology. That was the turning point of Bengal.
Being New Left: Advantage Mamata

This was when, he pointed out, Trinamool leaders started mocking CPI-M leaders as "pseudo followers" of Karl Marx.
Still lacking mass appeal
"This actually helped the Trinamool to get votes. Slowly people in Maoist-hit areas developed courage and faith in democracy," he said.Thus, when Mamata Banerjee played to the hilt her pro-farmers card against the failed industrialisation attempts of the Left, she appeared to the people as a more genuine political leader than the Marxists.

The result was Maoism almost came to end by 2011-12 especially after Maoist leader Mallojula Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji died," says Adhikari.

A section of Trinamool leaders also maintain that the Naxal movement had survived on a very weak footing in Bengal's Junglemahal region the then Left government did not allow “any political opposition".
"That was a dangerous trend for a democracy. As a result people’s faith in democracy eroded," said another leader.

This perhaps also made Leftists cadres task easier when enmasse they decided to opt for Didi and her party Trinamool Congress to abandon Marxism.

"Didi's (Mamata Banerjee's) image as a pro-poor leader with a rubber chappal and cotton sari actually challenged Leftits' image of 'sarba-hara (all for sacrifices). But today people know it well while Didi (Mamata) moves around in chappals, her party colleagues are no less than crorepatis (rich)," says BJP's Asansol MP and union minister Babul Supriyo.  

By its inherent contradictions both in economic and social contexts, BJP lacks the leftists slant. Thus though campaigning aggressively, the general apprehension inBengal BJP leaders and poll managers is they may not win many seats as such.

Higher vote share for BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha polls actually helped CPI(M) candidates in many constituencies.

For instance in Raiganj parliamentary seat, CPI(M) nominee Mohammed Salim defeated Deepa Dasmunshi of Congress by a margin of merely 1634  votes, where in BJP candidate Nimu Bhowmick had polled over 2 lakh votes.