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Madhya Pradesh finance and liquor minister Jayant Malaiya is one of the richest politicians of the State. He was travelling to Delhi along with his politician wife Sudha Malaiya, who is also a consummate danseuse and noted historian. They were travelling in the coupe of a First AC coach of the Jabalpur-Hazrat Nizamuddin Express.
In the wee hours of March 19, as the train was passing along Mathura district in Uttar Pradesh, a group of armed robbers entered their compartment and deprived them of their valuables including a diamond ring. Sudha Malaiya was later quoted by the media as having stated that the robbers had threatened to chop off her finger if she did not remove the costly ring and gave it to them. The Malaiyas lodged a complaint with the Railway Police on reaching Hazrat Nizamuddin.
Now there are always rumours galore when something unusual happens to some big person. Jayant Malaiya surely is a big person as is his wife Sudha Malaiya. And it is not usual for the Malaiyas to be robbed or even cheated, collectively or separately. So it was a perfect subject for the gossip mongers in Bhopal, and may be elsewhere also.
Some were wondering (that is a subtle way of spreading rumours) why one of the seniormost ministers of Madhya Pradesh was travelling by train; even lesser luminaries are known to fly. Since the query was made to start a discussion, soon the gossips were talking that the Minister was carrying a huge amount of money which could have been detected during scanning of baggage at the airport. In a train there was no such fear.
Once it was ‘established’ that the Minister was transporting money, the natural supplementary queries were how much and for whom. One felt that it was the regular money that the ruling party in Madhya Pradesh gives to BJP President Amit Shah for the party fund. An enterprising gossip ventured that it was a ‘special amount’ sent by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to keep Prime Minister Narendra Modi in good humour after the Prime Minister gave a patient hearing to the Congress leaders who were reported to have submitted ‘evidence’ of the involvement of Chouhan and his wife Sadhna Singh Chouhan in the stinking VYAPAM scam. The amount of the money that the Minister was carrying ranged between Rs one crore and five crore.
The most bizarre rumour doing the rounds in Bhopal is that the robbery was planned by the Minister himself. According to this set of cynics, the Minister was not sure that some one in Arvind Kejriwal’s Delhi would not do a sting operation when the Minister was seen carrying suitcase/s with so much money. So he conspired with a trusted courier service to ostensibly rob the train somewhere in Uttar Pradesh and carry his money-filled suitcase/s safely to Delhi by road.
A stroke of genius. Isn’t it? I mean on the part of the rumour monger.

Never heard before that criminal proceedings can be started against a serving Governor but it has happened in Madhya Pradesh. Governor Ram Naresh Yadav is now on the run following institution of criminal proceedings against him for his alleged involvement in what has come to be known as the Professional Examinations Board (PEB) scam. Curiously, the Congress party, too, has turned against Yadav, himself a Congress leader and appointed to Bhopal Raj Bhavan by the Congress-led UPA government — and the BJP is defending him. When the Governor rose to read his customary address at the start of the budget session of the State Assembly on February 18, the Congress members walked out seeking resignation of the Governor (as well as that of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan). The Governor read out the first and last para of the address to the treasury benches and sat down.
Yadav had forfeited the confidence of the State Congress leaders when he adroitly scuttled a discussion on the Congress-sponsored motion of no-confidence in the Chouhan government on the eve of the November 2013 Assembly elections. The distraught Congress, however, could not decide how to react to the Governor’s unexpected move. When the name of a trusted lieutenant of the Governor appeared a year later in connection with what has come to be known as the PEB (Professional Examinations Board) recruitment scam, a feeble appeal was made by some Congress leaders to Yadav to resign on moral grounds.
The alleged involvement of Yadav’s son, Shailesh Yadav, seems to have landed the Governor in a real soup and also emboldened and united the disparate Congress in the State. The Special Task Force (STF) which is probing the PEB scam has made Shailesh Yadav an accused in the teachers’ recruitment scam. The summons issued by the STF were returned by the Raj Bhavan with the remark that Shailesh did not reside there. An STF team was headed for Uttar Pradesh to apprehend Shailesh. Now the Special Task Force (STF) constituted to probe the PEB scam must have found some clinching evidence to proceed against the Governor himself.
At the same time, chief minister Chouhan is also finding himself in greater trouble. His position has been made untenable by a sworn affidavit submitted by AICC general secretary and former Congress chief minister Digvijaya Singh to High Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by a former judge, alleging tampering of evidence by the STF to save the chief minister. Singh later released at a press conference the copy of his affidavit along with the documents he had submitted to the SIT.
In a rare show of unity in the Madhya Pradesh Congress, Digvijaya Singh was accompanied at the press conference by former Union ministers Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, PCC president Arun Yadav and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Satyadev Katare. Eminent advocate K T S Tulsi was also present. The affidavit says at the end: “vetted and settled by Sh. Kapil Sibal, Senior Advocate”.
According to Digvijaya Singh’s affidavit, the “CM” was deleted and other names were typed 47 times in the computer to show that the illegalities were committed not on instructions of the chief minister but on the instructions of others. At a few places “CM” was replaced by “Uma Bharti” also. He says: “as per law it is mandatory to maintain a record of ‘chain of custody’ of electronic evidence, which encapsulates the persons who handled the specimen/evidence at time of seizure, what was collected, why it was collected, at what time it was handed over to next person for safe custody, to whom it was handed over, and for how long it remained in custody of various officials. The charge-sheet is silent on handling of records from local police, Indore, to Crime Branch, Indore and STF”.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was on January 13 sentenced to one year’s imprisonment by Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) of Rampur (Uttar Pradesh) for violation of Model Code of Conduct promulgated by the Election Commission of India. He, along with others, was found guilty under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 7 of Criminal Law Amendment Act. The case pertained to 2009. All were granted bail immediately.
Naqvi is Minister of State for Minority Affairs at the Centre. Now that he has been found guilty of defying Election Commission’s diktat, he deserves to be promoted as the Cabinet Minister. There are reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not satisfied with the working of Union Minister of Minority Affairs Najma Heptullah. Naqvi can be considered as her replacement.
The BJP has a glorious tradition of promoting those, including bureaucrats, who have been defying Election Commission in the interest of the party. At the scrutiny of nomination papers during the 2008 Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, Minister of State Tukojirao Puar created ruckus in the office of Dewas Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Sanjana Jain who was Returning Officer for the Sonkutch (SC) constituency. Phoolchand Verma was the BJP candidate from Sonkutch. Puar had accompanied Verma at the time of the scrutiny.
On a direction of the Election Commission, a criminal case was registered against Puar under Sections 186, 353 and 506 of IPC. As the Sections make it a cognisable offence, Puar was subsequently arrested by the police and lodged in police lock-up till he got bail a few days later. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan later told an election meeting at Dewas (Puar’s constituency) that he was proud of Tukojirao Puar. Not only that, Chouhan elevated Puar to the cabinet rank after the elections.
Chouhan was a member of Lok Sabha when he became chief minister in 2005. S K Mishra was the Collector of Sehore and Returning Officer for Budhni constituency from where Chouhan contested and was elected to the Assembly. Mishra became perhaps the first Returning Officer in the country for being summarily removed by the Election Commission a few days before polling for openly kowtowing to the ruling party candidate, viz. Chouhan.
Once the code of conduct period was over, Chouhan made S K Mishra Collector of much more important Bhopal district and then secretary to the chief minister, sending an unmistakable message to the bureaucracy that he would take care of the officers defying the Election Commission to protect his interests.

March 2015
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Secularism nurtures India’s unity

Throughout her long history, India's unity is nurtured by an ethos of secularism that teaches all her people not only to tolerate each other's customs, traditions and beliefs, but also to respect them. Mutual tolerance and understanding leads to goodwill and cooperation, which in turn strengthens the silken bond of our national unity. Secularism is not an alien concept that we imported out of compulsion after Independence. Rather, it is an integral and natural feature of our national culture and ethos.

----- ATAL BEHARI VAJPAYEE in his 'Musings from Kumarakom

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