ndsharma's blog

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Election Commissioner O P Rawat surprised his admirers and detractors alike by his outburst at the blatant use of money and misuse of government machinery in the elections.  This was not the Rawat I had known from his days in Madhya Pradesh, where he served in various important positions in the government; he was never known to speak publicly, and that too, in a harsh language, about what he was thinking on an issue. His detractors had, in fact, dubbed him as a ‘ghunna’ (one who keeps his strong feelings about something or somebody within himself).

That even Rawat should have lost his calm can only mean that the electoral process has reached such a low as to require immediate drastic measures to keep the people’s faith intact in the elections. Democracy thrives, Rawat observed, ‘when elections are free, fair and transparent’. Rawat shared his distress in his keynote address at the consultation on electoral and political reforms organised by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in New Delhi in August.

He said, ‘it has come to the notice of the (Election) Commission that paid operators run by PR firms are being actively deployed to shape public opinion online. It appears to a cynical common man that we have been scripting a narrative that places maximum premium on winning at all costs to the total exclusion of ethical considerations. In this narrative, poaching of legislators is extolled as small political management; strategic introduction of money for allurement, tough-minded use of State machinery for intimidation, etc, are all commended as resourcefulness’.

He said, ‘the winner can commit no sin; a defector crossing over to the ruling camp stands cleansed of all the guilt as also possible criminality. It is this creeping new normal of political morality that should be the target for exemplary action by all political parties, politicians, media, civil society organisations, constitutional authorities and all those having faith in democratic polity for better election, a better tomorrow’.

Rawat pointed out that ‘although money was necessary for political parties and candidates, experience has shown that there is a real and present risk that some parties and candidates, once in office, will be more responsive to the interests of a particular group of donors rather than to wider public interest. Policy capture occurs when the interests of a narrow group dominate those of other stakeholders to the benefit of that narrow group’.

Referring to the Election Commission’s objection to the Electoral Bonds introduced by the government, he observed that it might lead to the use of black money in electoral politics. Rawat said, ‘the recent amendments in the election and income tax laws make it clear that any donation received by a political party through an Electoral Bond has been taken out of ambit of reporting in the Contribution Report which political parties have to submit to the EC. Implications of this step can be retrograde as far as transparency is concerned. Furthermore, where contributions received through Electoral Bonds are not reported, a perusal of contribution reports will not make it clear whether the party in question has taken any donations in violation of Section 29B of the Representation of the People Act, which prohibits political parties from taking donations from government companies and foreign sources’.

Amit Shah reacts

The Election Commission had, he said, expressed apprehension that the abolition of relevant provisions of the Companies Act of removing a cap of 7.5 per cent of profit for political donations can lead to money laundering ‘by setting up of shell companies for diverting funds for donations to political parties.

Rawat’s plain speaking came apparently in the light of the developments during the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections in which blatant use of money, government machinery and intimidation was witnessed. BJP president Amit Shah was hailed as the ‘manager’ of the election strategy.

Shah did not take note of Rawat’s speech at ADR event directly. But he reacted to Rawat’s observations in his own way. During his three-day visit to Bhopal a few days later, he opted to have his lunch at the house of Narottam Mishra to the exclusion of all other party leaders. Narottam Mishra, Minister of Public Relations, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, is on a stay after he was found guilty of ‘paid news’ by the Election Commission in June and disqualified as well as barred from contesting elections for three years. The stay against the Election Commission’s order did not come to him easily. His prayer for a stay was rejected by the Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court, by a single bench of Delhi High Court (where the matter was transferred by the Supreme Court), by a division bench of Delhi High Court where he had appealed against the single bench order. He then went to the Supreme Court which returned his appeal to the Delhi High Court. Eventually a division bench of Delhi High Court granted him stay.

Shah was later reported to have told party men that the BJP had to win all the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh anyhow in 2019. He was said to have particularly named Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia who, he said, had to be defeated ‘at any cost’. His reported advice to the members of the cabinet: Never do any work of Congressmen, make them uncomfortable and lure them to the BJP.

Advertisements

The Chandigarh stalking incident has once again focussed attention on the working of the police which is still governed by a law enacted by the British more than 156 years ago. The daring of the victim and her family background (her father being an IAS officer) have made the incident a talking point all over the country, forcing the police to give up their intention to dismiss it as a minor incident.
The 29-year-old woman was going in her car when two persons in a car blocked her way, banged on her windows and even tried to force the door open. Finally, a police patrol team came, responding to her SOS. She duly lodged a complaint of attempt to abduct her with the criminal intention. One of the accused happened to be Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP president’s son.
As the son of a high profile ruling party leader was involved, the police diluted the charges with the result that Barala and his friend were granted bail within hours whereas the attempt to abduct is a more serious crime. The police also said that the CCTV cameras on the route were not functioning. That was till the victim, Varnika Kundu, created a ruckus. Following this, the police promptly ‘retrieved’ the CCTV cameras and even confirmed Varnika’s version of the incident.
Talks of reforming the police and making the force accountable to the society have been going on at various levels for decades but no one has made an honest attempt in this respect. The British rulers had enacted the Police Act of 1861 after the mutiny of 1857 to establish a police force which could be used to consolidate and perpetuate their rule in this country, by terrorising, oppressing and suppressing the natives if necessary. The tragedy was that the British, when they left the country, handed over the power not to the people of this country but to a bunch of politicians who soon saw the advantage of keeping the British-constituted police force intact for their own use. Little wonder that the Police Act of 1861 must be the only one, out of thousands of acts inherited by us from the colonial regime, which has not been amended even once so far.
The Congress was in power at the Centre and in the States most of the time after independence. That may be the reason why the Congress leaders scarcely felt the need for changing the Police Act. Opposition leaders occasionally raised their voice against the continuation of the Act, Ram Manohar Lohia being the most vocal of them. But the voice of the Opposition was much too feeble to make the ruling party to take notice.
In the 1980s, BJP president Lal Krishna Advani scarcely opened his mouth without demanding repeal or amendment of the Police Act of 1861. When he became Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government, this hypocrite not only did not remember his oft-repeated demand but used the police force like the British had used it. Of all the persons, even Congress Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijaya Singh had started harping on the need to change the Police Act of 1861, but only when he had foreseen the rout of Congress at the close of his second term. He had himself used the police arbitrarily against his opponents. Narration of macabre rape of a hapless tribal woman or a grisly murder of a poor farmer never appeared to affect Digvijaya Singh who continued to smile or indulge in frolics, as those attending the Assembly sessions had observed all those years. Criticism of the working of the police had, however, been a different matter. The former raja of Raghogarh would promptly be on his feet urging the Speaker to expunge the remarks against the police. The chemistry of his complexion would change as he tried to defend the police.
The BJP’s Sunderlal Patwa made the same nefarious use of the police as his Congressi successor did later. Four persons were arrested by the Indore police for possessing heroin in 1991. The case against them was registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPSA), which makes the offence non-bailable. As it came to be known that one of the arrested persons was Ehsan, younger brother of Patwa’s smuggler-friend Mohd Shafi, the police tore ten pages of the Roznamcha and made fresh entries about the case in order to enable the four criminals to get bail. Patwa, instead of booking the police officers under Section 204 IPC, patted them on the back.


September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Value of propaganda

Adolf Hitler believed in the use of propaganda as an integral element to seizing and holding on to political power. His maxim was 'the bigger the lie, the more easily it will be believed, provided it is repeated vigorously and often enough'. (Sean Murphy in his book 'Letting the Side Down')

Twitter Updates

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 43 other followers

Share this blog


Subscribe

Blog Stats

  • 135,694 hits
%d bloggers like this: