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Release of Laxmikant Sharma from jail may mean trouble for Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. As one of the main accused in the Vyapam scam, he was kept in jail for over 18 months without trial. Probably it was feared that if he was allowed to be freed on bail, he might say something that might not be in the interest of the chief minister and his family members. That was till the Chouhan-appointed Special Task Force (STF) was in charge of the scam investigation.

Vyapam or Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal (Professional Examinations Board – PEB) is entrusted with the task of conducting technical/professional examinations. Manipulations to recruit undeserving candidates in place of meritorious ones started in the Vyapam at some stage. It was during Laxmikant Sharma’s tenure as Minister of Technical Education that Vyapam scam was fully ‘institutionalised’. Sharma was then considered close to the chief minister.

Recruitment to some other departments was also brought under the control of Vyapam. The scam had taken epidemic proportions. Thousands of intelligent and hardworking young boys and girls were denied their due and the relatives of those in power or whoever could pay hefty sums were declared successful, instead.

As stray complaints were made to the police at different places, Chouhan constituted STF under a senior IPS officer ostensibly to investigate the scam but actually to ensure that Chouhan, his family members and some other top leaders were protected.

Top officials of Vyapam, along with many others, were arrested and kept in jail without trial. Laxmikant Sharma, too, was booked in seven scam-related cases and arrested in June last year.

The things changed after the CBI took over the scam investigation from the STF on orders of the Supreme Court. It is not that the officers in the CBI are less dishonest than those manning the STF. But the CBI working is being supervised by the Supreme Court and that gives some hope.

Sharma was the last of the important Vyapam scam accused to come out of jail on bail  granted by the High Court on December 20. The only important BJP leader to hail his release was party’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya who also said that Sharma is innocent.

A former MP minister, Vijayvargiya had never been able reconcile to Chouhan’s being the chief minister. After coming out of jail, Sharma said that he would say in court whatever he has to say. What he is planning to say and what Chouhan would like him to say and how Vijayvargiya plays his politics might enormously affect the ruling party and government in the State.




Reproduced here is an editorial in The New York Times of November 10,2015 published under the heading ‘A Rebuke to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’


During a national election in India last year, Narendra Modi promised “development for all.” As prime minister, he has yet to deliver big economic improvements, but in the meantime, members of his government and political party have shredded his promise of inclusion by inflaming sectarian tensions. Now, voters in the country’s third most populous state have sent Mr. Modi a message: Put an end to the hatemongering.

Poisoning politics with religious hatred is bound to squander the country’s economic potential at a time when India should be playing a bigger and more constructive role in South Asia and the world. India’s history is filled with examples of religious and caste-based violence that set the country back. Those conflicts subsided during India’s rapid economic growth, but many Indians now fear a resurgence.

On Sunday, Mr. Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party lost a legislative election in the northern state of Bihar, which has a population of more than 100 million. A “grand alliance” of secular parties united by their antipathy to the Hindu nationalist B.J.P. won 178 constituencies in the 243-member legislative assembly to the B.J.P.’s 53. Many political analysts see the loss as a repudiation of Mr. Modi because he and his top aides campaigned vigorously in the state and many ads carried his image, rather than photos of local politicians.

In the months leading up to the Bihar election, hard-liners in the B.J.P. and organizations affiliated with the party stoked India’s long-simmering sectarian tensions. The party’s lawmakers pushed for beef bans around the country ostensibly to protect the cow, which many Hindus consider holy, but really as a ploy to divide Hindus and Muslims, some of whom eat beef.

Anti-beef crusade

Mobs riled by the anti-beef crusade have killed four Muslims suspected of slaughtering, stealing or smuggling cows in the last seven weeks. And in August, unidentified attackers shot and killed Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, a scholar and vocal critic of Hindu idolatry. Hundreds of writers, filmmakers and academics have protested the growing intolerance by returning awards they received from the government-supported bodies.

Mr. Modi has not forcefully condemned the beef-related killings, despite pleas by Muslims and other minorities. He has tolerated hateful and insensitive remarks by his ministers and by B.J.P. officials.

During a campaign stop in Bihar, Mr. Modi tried to exploit sectarian divisions by telling voters that the secular alliance would reduce affirmative action benefits for lower-caste Hindus and tribes in favor of “a particular community” — an apparent reference to Muslims. And the president of the B.J.P., Amit Shah, one of Mr. Modi’s closest advisers, told voters that a victory for the alliance would be celebrated in Pakistan, the Muslim-majority neighbor that has fought several wars with India since 1947.

Voters in Bihar saw through the B.J.P.’s attempts to divide them. They, like most Indians, are looking for leaders who will improve their standard of living. Bihar is one of the poorest states in India but has grown fast in the last 10 years under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is credited for cracking down on crime, building roads and increasing the enrollment of girls in schools.

Mr. Modi and the B.J.P. secured a majority in the lower house of Parliament last year with promises of economic reforms. Now, to push through those reforms, the party needs to win the control of the upper house, which is elected by state assemblies. It won’t win those elections unless Mr. Modi gets rid of the officials in his government and party who are fueling sectarian culture wars.

Meanwhile, there are things Mr. Modi could do administratively to improve the economy, like investing in education and health care and building infrastructure. Voters in Bihar have sent the B.J.P. a clear message. Mr. Modi should heed it.

February 2019
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No liberty, peace or justice!

When there are too many policemen, there can be no liberty;
When there are too many soldiers, there can be no peace;
When there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice.
— Lin Yutang


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