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Posts Tagged ‘Digvijaya Singh

The first Naxalite presence in the Bastar region was noticed a quarter century ago. Chhattisgarh had not yet been carved out of Madhya Pradesh and Bastar was not yet divided into several districts. Bastar was the biggest district in the country, bigger than the State of Kerala in area, covered by thick forests and almost exclusively inhabited by tribals.

The BJP government of Sunderlal Patwa instituted a one-man inquiry committee headed by then Bastar Commissioner Sudeep Banerjee to find out the reasons behind illicit felling of trees in the forest lands of Bastar between April 1989 and May 15, 1990 and the emergence of Naxalism. The finding of the committee was that the Naxalism had grown out of the endless exploitation of the tribals by the police and forest department personnel and the tribals in the Bastar district had greater confidence in the Naxalites than in the government officials. The report gave credit to the Naxalites for generating new self-confidence among the tribals of Bastar district.

The Commissioner’s report said that a total of 81,877 trees were illicitly felled in Bastar district in 1989-90 while as many as 15,716 trees were illicitly felled between April 1 and May 15, 1990. The total number of trees illicitly felled during the period of inquiry thus came to 97,593.

‘The tribals have for ages been depending on the forests. The figures show that the forests have continuously been depleting and the laws enacted for management of forests have only been abridging the rights of the tribals over the forests. Though the tribals are the best friends of the forests even today, a feeling has been growing among them that the forest resources are being utilised by the administration or the non-tribals like traders and contractors. The tribals have been seeing the traders, contractors and government officials prosper by the forest resources while their own condition has been deteriorating’, the report pointed out.

The report said that the political parties had always adopted an equivocal attitude to the tribals’ act of ‘encroaching’ upon the forestland. Only the Naxalites had been openly supporting the tribals on this issue. The Commissioner emphasised that it would be wrong to blame the Naxalites for the encroachments on the forestland. The Naxalites had only adopted a “more realistic approach” to the prevailing social and economic situation. The report, of course, mentioned that a feeling had grown among the people because of the support of the Naxalites that the forest officers or the police could do no harm to them.

Around the same time, two female workers belonging to an NGO in Dhar district were declared as Naxalites by the District administration and ordered to leave the district, simply because they had told the villagers, employed in the plantation work, that they were being grossly underpaid by the contractor. Vijay Singh, then Commissioner of Indore, had shown the guts and (ignoring the scowl on Patwa’s face) rescinded the order of externment against the two girls.

Misuse of TADA

A journalist based in Kanker (then part of Bastar but now a separate district) wrote about the reprobate behaviour of the police in the Naxalite areas and the Superintendent of Police of Bastar booked him under TADA for “harbouring and helping” the Naxalites. Many senior journalists who knew the Kanker man closely vouchsafed for his integrity and even Congress leader Motilal Vora (who knew the Kanker journalist intimately) spoke in his favour but Patwa remained adamant. After the dismissal of the Patwa government in December 1992, the Bastar district police chief submitted to the designated court an affidavit saying that he had falsely booked the Kanker journalist to please the Chief Minister. The IPS officer continued to flourish in the Congress regime of Digvijaya Singh and continued to indulge in excesses against the people (so much so that he was indicted by a committee of the State Assembly). If Patwa could make use of him in an attempt to silence his adversaries and critics, why shouldn’t Digvijaya Singh do the same? The officer retired as Additional Director General of Police.

The mother-son duo may now consider leasing out State Congress units to the highest bidders for specified periods, with the understandable clauses incorporated in the agreement, such as, no criticism, in any form, of mother and son will be permitted, full weightage will be given to the advice of the ‘controlling authority’ (meaning high command in Delhi) in the selection of candidates for Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, certain quotas will be fixed for the high command in the selection of candidates for Assemblies, and so on. This will bring, on a regular basis, good amounts of funds to the coffers in AICC. More importantly, it will check waywardness presently witnessed in State Congress units all over the country. In any case, the State party bosses are running the organisation as if it has been leased out to them with the minus point that others in the State do not accept it.

It’s now ages that one has seen a State unit of the grand old party working in cohesion anywhere in the country, or the high command taking any firm steps to ensure at least a semblance of unity in the party. Not infrequently, the high command has shown utter unconcern for the workings in the State units. Take, for instance, the matter of Leader of Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. The rules prescribe that a meeting of the party MLAs will be convened specifically for the election of the Leader. A formal resolution will be adopted for the purpose. Election may be unanimously or by a majority vote. The copy of the resolution will be communicated to the Speaker of the Assembly in a prescribed manner. The Speaker announces his approval in the Assembly. Then only he/she becomes Leader of Opposition.

In Madhya Pradesh, an observer of AICC or the AICC general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh gets signatures of party MLAs on a single-line resolution authorising Sonia Gandhi to name the Leader. The general secretary in-charge then gets the signature of Sonia Gandhi and a copy of that is sent to the Speaker somehow and the Speaker promptly gives his approval. This happened in the last Assembly when Ajay Singh (Rahul Bhaiya) was the ‘Leader of Opposition’ and this happened in the present Assembly when Satyadev Katare is the ‘Leader of Opposition’. On both the occasions, even after getting Sonia Gandhi’s approval, it was not felt necessary to convene a meeting of MLAs to fulfil the formality of adopting the required resolution. If the Speaker did not point out the irregularities in election of the Leader and in communication to the Speaker, it was because it suited the ruling BJP.

The MLAs do not give due regard to the Leader because they feel they were not directly involved even in the so-called election, with the result that the Leader keeps gets his substantial perks as Leader of Opposition, hobnobs with the ruling bosses who are always eager to please him and his small coterie. MLAs work almost independently in the Assembly, sometimes even working at cross purposes. Occasionally meetings of Legislature Party are convened to discuss ‘party strategy’ in the House but only rarely a concerted effort of the party was seen to corner the government.

In Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh has been made the PCC chief, not for his life-long dedication to the Congress or that he enjoys support and confidence of all party activists. He has been hopping between Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal and had been a votary of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution seeking ultimately a separate Khalistan and later was signatory to the succession document known as Amritsar Declaration after the 1984 storming of the Golden Temple to flush out the Bhindrawale gang of terrorists. A scion of the powerful erstwhile kingdom of Patiala, he is a dashing politician, has money and knows how to use that. But he would not allow other party chiefs to function and when he is the party chief he wants total loyalty like a former Maharaj of Patiala which all Congress leaders cannot do. Those who have been removed from positions because of him feel particularly piqued at his style of functioning.

The Captain’s clout

His clout can be gauged from the facts that the Congress party lost Assembly elections twice under his stewardship,  held, in an interview to The Indian Express, Rahul Gandhi’s ‘divisive policies’ within the party for the debacle of the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The paper quoted him as having said, ‘I told him pre-2012 that ‘You will divide each village, which will have its own Youth Congress, and that means it will get divided right to the top; even parents take sides in such a situation, we will have problem’. He didn’t listen and that is exactly what happened’.

Anyone else, if he had said such things about Rahul Gandhi, would have been shown his place. But not the Captain. He has been made the PCC chief to run not the Congress party but his own faction as he is doing now on the eve of the Assembly elections.

With a similar mindset, Digvijaya Singh, too, does not allow anyone to run the party smoothly. When Arun Yadav was made PCC chief he started his job with apparent enthusiasm. At the first meeting of PCC, Jagdish Yadav, PCC secretary and a friend of Arun Yadav, described as inauspicious the name of Digvijaya Singh. He was promptly suspended, which gave a clear message to the party workers that new PCC chief Arun Yadav would not tolerate ‘indiscipline’ by any party leader or worker, even though he may be his personal fried. However, before the day was out, Digvijaya Singh called Arun Yadav (and also made it public) that suspension of Jagdish Yadav should be revoked as he (Jagdish Yadav) was a dedicated Congressman. Many Congressmen were surprised to know Digvijaya Singh’s latest views about Jagdish Yadav because he was never known to have liked Jagdish Yadav or any Yadav leader for that matter. Thus snubbed publicly even for working in the party interest, Arun Yadav lost whatever zeal he had and started on the safe path of running his own faction in the party and, in the process, inviting unsavoury allegations. The party high command was not concerned.

When Suresh Pachauri was PCC chief in Madhya Pradesh, (the late) Jamuna Devi was the Leader of Opposition. A rival Congress leader of Jamuna Devi from her Dhar district brought 200 persons to Bhopal. They held a demonstration against Jamuna Devi and presented a memorandum to Pachauri seeking removal of Jamuna Devi. Pachauri entertained them properly, gladly accepted the memorandum and assured them that he would take it to the Congress president. Irrespective of whether he took it to the Congress president, the party high command never tried to stem the rot. The two continued in their separate ways, often working against each other. However, Jamuna Devi never betrayed the party interests. Pachauri did with impunity.

Uttarakhand and Assam are recent history. The Congress high command never tried to stem the rot which had long been going on in the two States. If the Congress government was saved in Uttarakhand, it was because of judicial intervention for which Arun Jaitley (read Modi government) is seething with anger and must be thinking of some ways to show the Judiciary its place. Assam has slipped away from the hands of Congress. Now it fears the crisis of existence in the entire North-East as well as in the South Indian States where high command has never stepped in to bring the warring groups within the party together.


June 2017
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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')

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