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Posts Tagged ‘Digvijaya Singh

Atal Behari Vajpayee and Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had always had a very cordial relationship based on mutual respect. The latter, though, would not hesitate in injecting some mischief in his politics if he thought it would benefit him. His hand was believed in the campaign of calumny against then Prime Minister Vajpayee during the Assembly election campaign of 2003 which saw the end of Digvijaya Singh’s ten-year rule in Madhya Pradesh.

Digvijaya Singh was continuously talking that the BJP would resort to communal riots while the BJP leaders, Kailash Joshi and Uma Bharti included, were trying to confine their campaign to the Digvijaya Singh government’s failures in the past nine years and were feeling shy of using the language of Narendra Modi and Pravin Togadia.

Though communal flare up in Ganj Basoda was controlled by the police promptly, Digvijaya Singh had blown it up out of proportion with the refrain ‘didn’t I say’. While parroting ‘didn’t I say’, he continued to ignore the nitty-gritty of administration (his own expression). When the situation in Dhar and the adjoining areas took a turn for the worse, his administration was found wanting in preparedness. The result: he had the blood of some tribals and Muslims on his hands.

He had definitely succeeded, at least for the time being, in diverting the attention of the BJP from the people-oriented issues to the Mandir-Masjid problem and the cow. These are, however,  the issues, which the BJP and other Sangh Parivar outfits know better how to exploit to their advantage. A circular issued by Madhya Pradesh Youth Congress President Meenakshi Natarajan had directed the Youth Congress units in the State to propagate the following slogans at every panchayat, ward, city and block: Atal Sarkar ki kya upalabdhi, go-maans niryat mein vriddhi (what is the achievement of Atal government, increase in beef export); go-maans ka kaun vyapari, Atal Behari Atal Behari (who is the trader in beef, Atal Behari Atal Behari); pahale Ram naam becha satta pai, ab gaiya teri vari aai (first they sold Ram’s name to acquire power, now is the turn of cow); go-Mata ki jaan Bachao, Atal ki Sarkar hatao ( save the life of cow and remove Atal government); gai hamari Mata hai, Atal Behari khata hai, videsh bhej khilwata hai (cow is our mother, Atal Behari eats it, and sends it to other countries for eating).

The copies of the circular were also endorsed to Mukul Vasnik (AICC general secretary in charge of Youth Congress), Digvijaya Singh, and Radhakishan Malaviya (PCC chief), among others.

Not unnaturally, the Prime Minister took umbrage at the slogans, directed against him, at the BJP parliamentary party meeting. Full 24 hours after the Prime Minister had given vent to his anger, Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh was denying any such absurdity having been committed by the Madhya Pradesh Youth Congress.    

Digvijaya Singh’s bluff was called by Uma Bharti the following morning when she distributed to pressmen photocopies of Natarajan’s circular. Cornered, ‘the radical-secular’ Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh then stated that the posters distributed by the Madhya Pradesh Youth Congress were not good. The enormous damage had already been done – not to Atal Behari Vajpayee but to Digvijaya Singh and his party. The Prime Minister, for his own reasons, chose Himachal Pradesh to declare a few days later his commitment to cow protection. He also took the opportunity to announce that he would prefer dying to eating beef. 

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Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan suffers from chronic verborrhea. He shoots off jumlas with greater rapidity than in even Narendra Modi. If the rape of a child is highlighted in the media, he takes no time in announcing that child rapists will be given death sentence and his government will bring in the next session of the Assembly the bill to amend the relevant section of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). If a rape is highlighted in the media, he promises death sentence for the rapist by amending the law. If a gang-rape is highlighted in the media, he shouts with full force the death sentence for all the rapists by amending the law in the next session of the Assembly. At present the IPC stipulates from seven years’ rigorous imprisonment to life term for rape, depending on the circumstances.

One thing, he has never moved to introduce a bill to amend the IPC. Secondly, his jumlas come out only when the crime is highlighted in the media. Scores of incidents of molestation and rape take place regularly in Madhya Pradesh outside the big cities and away from the media glare but Chouhan was never heard saying that he could not sleep because of that incident or that he will ensure that the rapist will be awarded the death sentence. Madhya Pradesh, incidentally records the highest molestation/rape incidents in the country. The State Assembly was told earlier this year that on an average, 11 women were raped every day and six women were gang-raped every week in the State during 2016, over half of the victims being minor. Between February 2016 and mid-February 2017, as many as 4279 women were raped and 248 were gang-raped in the State. Of the 4279 rape victims, 2260 were minors. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the State had 5076 such cases in 2014 and 4391 cases in 2015.

The short-lived BJP government of Uma Bharti had addressed itself to the problem of humiliation of women in public and moved a bill in the Assembly to provide harsher punishment to the offenders. She, though, could not see it through. Babulal Gaur had replaced her as the chief minister by the time the bill was passed. It became part of the statute book in December 2004.

The bill added Subsection-A to Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of woman) and provided that the offender ‘shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.’ The main Section provides for a maximum punishment of up to two years. Besides, the Madhya Pradesh amendment also provides for the same punishment to whoever abets or conspires in the act, which is not there in the main Section.

Difficult to say how the amended Section would have been enforced had Uma Bharti remained at the helm of affairs. Her successors (Babulal Gaur and then Shivraj Singh Chouhan), however, did not show any interest in this. The amended law was consigned to the archives once the gazette notification was made. Today most of those concerned – the politicians, the police officers and, of course, those for whose benefit the Act was amended — are not even aware that such a law exists.

Crime, particularly the crimes against women, has been steadily going up in Madhya Pradesh for quite some time. It was during the BJP government of Sunderlal Patwa that Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of heinous crimes including murder, rape and dacoity. The trend continued almost unabated during the ten-year Congress regime of Digvijaya Singh. Bad law and order, with emphasis on crimes against women, formed part of Uma Bharti’s vigorous campaign for the November 2003 Assembly elections, along with what was then described as BSP (bijli, sadak, pani). Being a woman, she had shown particular sensitivity towards the plight of women. Under her leadership, the BJP captured power with an overwhelming majority.

It would be interesting to note that Chouhan, when he replaced Babulal Gaur as Chief Minister in November 2005, believed there was no rule of law in the State. This he put as his top priority. The Governor’s customary address to the Assembly at the beginning of Chouhan’s first budget session had specifically stated: ‘Meri Sarkar ki prathamikata kanoon ka raaj sthapit karana hai’ (the priority of my government is to establish the rule of law). The Governor’s address is always approved by the cabinet. Unfortunately, the law and order in the State has since been steadily deteriorating.

A major reason for this state of affairs is the total personalisation, not politicisation but personalisation, of the police force (once described by Madhya Pradesh High Court judge as ‘criminals in uniform’). Secondly, there are too many IPS officers and an acute shortage of the lower staff who do the field work. To top it all, there is the pathetic insensitivity of the police almost at every level. by the


September 2018
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