ndsharma's blog

Posts Tagged ‘Amit Shah

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is in jitters. The cause of his distress is not the opposition Congress, which is yet to put its house in order, but his own party’s leadership. First, the appointment of Anandiben Patel as Governor. From the day one, she started acting like an additional Chief Minister, visiting places, attending functions, interacting with people, calling reports from bureaucrats and, at least on one occasion, she even told the bureaucrats what to do to ensure votes for the BJP, forgetting that she was holding a Constitutional position and was not an errand lady of Amit Shah. All along, Anandiben has been keeping Chouhan aside.

Then came a bigger shock to Chouhan when Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan was replaced by Rakesh Singh as the State BJP president. Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan was to Shivraj Singh Chouhan what jesters used to be to nawabs in the mediaeval India. Rakesh Singh is a low profile Member of Lok Sabha from Jabalpur. That he was never known to be confidant of Chouhan is one thing. What is more, BJP president Amit Shah flew to Bhopal for a couple of hours in the midst of his do or die election campaign in Karnataka just to introduce Rakesh Singh to senior party functionaries who were summoned from across the State for this special occasion. If Chouhan still had a flicker of hope in his heart, it was mercilessly shattered by Shah by announcing that the party would contest the Assembly elections later this year under collective leadership which was interpreted to mean that Chouhan may not be the chief ministerial candidate.

In the light of these unsavoury developments for Chouhan, it is anybody’s guess if it was a Freudian slip or an expression of his dying hope that at an official function he indicated towards the chair kept for him and remarked that the Chief Minister’s chair was vacant, anyone could sit on it. Later on he did say that he had made the remark in jest but that explanation was irrelevant. The newly nominated PCC chief Kamal Nath was quick to interpret that the reality was slowly dawning on Chouhan that the BJP would be routed out in MP (in the forthcoming elections).

It is being argued in BJP circles that the party leadership is planning to keep Chouhan on the sides and deny ticket to a large number of ministers and MLAs with a view to countering the incumbency of the 15-year BJP rule. Another theory, which looks bizarre by its nature, being discussed is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may hold the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh not later this year when these are due but hold them along with Lok Sabha elections in May next year, so that there is greater focus on Lok Sabha elections which the BJP hopes to win because of Modi’s oratorical skills. Elections to an Assembly have to be held within a stipulated period from the day the term of the present Assembly expires and there is no precedence of the President’s Rule in a State after the term of the Assembly has ended. But the BJP circles feel that Modi may find a way out.

The State Congress leaders are, on the other hand, euphoric as they have started seeing the end of the 15-year rule of the BJP. PCC chief Kamal Nath is said to be planning a two-pronged strategy to make the Congress formidable enough to take on the BJP. For one, he plans to ask party leaders to submit panels out of which to pick up a specified number of names for inclusion in the PCC working committee so that there is a wide representation in the State party’s decision making body. Secondly, the only criterion for giving party ticket to a person will be his/her winning chances and the candidates will thus be selected after a strict scrutiny. Sounds good. The problem comes when implementing such ideas. The Congress in Madhya Pradesh has a long history of sordid factionalism. 

Advertisements

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.


July 2018
M T W T F S S
« May    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Outright Perilous!

An egoist as the head of the government is bad enough. An egotist is a nuisance as his constant chant of I…, I…., I….. jars on the listeners’ years. But when he loses touch with the reality and starts believing his imaginary achievements to be his real achievements, that’s outright perilous.

Twitter Updates

Archives

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

Join 47 other followers

Share this blog


Subscribe

Blog Stats

  • 149,731 hits
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: