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Posts Tagged ‘Jyotiraditya Scindia

Septuagenarian Kamal Nath is close to fulfilling his long-cherished ambition of becoming Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. At least so think his fans and supporters of whom there are many – and not only in politics. On the occasion of his son’s marriage in the 1990s, I went to the telegraph office in Bhopal to send a telegram of good wishes. I picked up a phrase from the list of standard greetings phrases (then in vogue) and wrote the address ‘Kamal Nath, Chhindwara’. The clerk read the telegram a few times, looked at me and said hesitantly: ‘Sir, Kamal Nathji ke naam ke aage Shri likh dijiye. Bahut bade Aadmi hain. Paisa utna hi lagega.’ (Sir, you can write Shri before Kamal Nathji’s name. he is a big person. The charge for the telegram will be the same). During the 2008 Assembly elections a British journalist touring Madhya Pradesh to cover the elections for his news agency asked me if Kamal Nath had a chance of becoming the Chief Minister. He remarked that (then Union Commerce Minister) Kamal Nath had made many admirers in Geneva (in the course of his WTO interactions) and they all felt that he deserved to become the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

Lok Sabha member from Guna Jyotiraditya Scindia was considered the front-runner in the race for being declared chief ministerial candidate till about a month back when the Congress high command nominated Kamal Nath as the PCC president in place of Arun Yadav towards the end of last month. AICC general secretary and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh, who had acquired a new aura after  completing (in six months) the 3,300-km Narmada parikrama, was said to have convinced the high command that he would ensure Congress victory in the Assembly elections, due later this year, if Kamal Nath was made the PCC chief. Scindia was simultaneously appointed chairman of the campaign committee. It is not a secret that Digvijaya Singh does not like Jyotiraditya Scindia nor did he like his late father Madhavrao Scindia.

Kamal Nath’s ambition to occupy the Chief Minister’s chair in Madhya Pradesh goes back to 1980 when he had staked his claim along with Arjun Singh and Shivbhan Singh Solanki, a tribal leader from Jhabua. When the views of the party MLAs were ascertained, Solanki was the choice of the highest number of MLAs while Kamal Nath stood third. The AICC observers, deputed to conduct the election of the legislature party leader, contacted Sanjay Gandhi who was ruling the roost at the time. Gandhi’s choice was Arjun Singh. Kamal Nath, a Sanjay buff, then declared that his votes be added to Arjun Singh’s votes which became more than Solanki and Arjun Singh thus became the Chief Minister.

During the decade Digvijaya Singh was the Chief Minister, Kamal Nath told reporters a few times that he would soon replace Digvijaya Singh. The latter always retorted: ‘he is welcome but where are the MLAs with him.’ Once he called me up from Delhi and said that 55 MLAs had pledged their support to him. Asked about the names, at least of a dozen or so, he prevaricated. A week later he, however, got the story published from Delhi in a prominent paper. Every time the Assembly elections are near, he would descend on Bhopal with the hope (without declaring it openly) that he would somehow manage the Chief Minister’s position if the Congress got the majority. This time, though, he must be feeling a lot of confidence with his position as the PCC chief and Digvijaya Singh’s assurance to make him the Chief Minister.

A restless soul

Kamal Nath feels restless when without any position. Having taken the basic training of politics from the late Sanjay Gandhi (in the Youth Congress), he contested his first Lok Sabha election from Chhindwara in 1980 and he has since been keeping his lien on the constituency. He was denied the ticket in 1996 because of the Havana allegations. But he did not leave the Congress as Madhavrao Scindia had done. So he persuaded the party leadership to nominate his wife Alka Nath in his place. She had won with an impressive margin. However, Kamal Nath became restless within a few months and made Alka Nath resign so that he could himself contest. The word spread at the time was that Alka Nath was not feeling comfortable as a Member of Parliament.  The BJP, which had put forward former Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa against Kamal Nath in the by-election, gave a twist to the Kamal Nath-Alka Nath relationship and also exploited the confiscation of certain objects by the Customs from Kamal Nath’s luggage on his return from abroad. Few could match Sunderlal Patwa in slander mongering; the former BJP Chief Minister had turned it into a fine art.

Then Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, whom Kamal Nath had invited for campaigning for him, unwittingly helped the BJP cause. He was chatting with some journalists in a relaxed mood. Asked what he thought was the solution to the Kashmir problem, he said that he “personally” felt that the only solution to the problem was that India and Pakistan should be allowed to keep parts of Jammu and Kashmir now under their control and the line of control should be declared international border. What more did the BJP want? Kamal Nath lost to Patwa. That was the only time when the constituency went out of the Congress hands. Kamal Nath took his revenge on Patwa a year later, in 1998, winning the seat with over 58 per cent of the polled votes. He has since been representing Chhindwara in Lok Sabha continuously. 

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Union Minister of Law and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad does not favour linking Aadhaar with voter ID card. He said so in Bengaluru on April 1. He, though, added that it was his personal view.

Personal or official, this view makes little sense to the people at a time when the government is going all out to link Aadhaar with everything conceivable by projecting it as the panacea for all evils afflicting the society. In fact, the voter ID should have been the first to be linked with Aadhaar in order to eliminate the scourge of fake voters which have been vitiating electoral process.

The problem of fake voters has been there from the beginning but not on the large scale witnessed in the recent years. The BJP appears to be the biggest beneficiary of the fake voters. Could the fear of checking fake voters through Aadhaar linkage have made Prasad say that linking Aadhaar with voter ID is not necessary?

Narendra Modi had won from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency with a margin of over 3.7 lakh votes in 2014. During the revision of electoral rolls towards the end of the year, over six lakh fake voters were discovered in the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. It did not help Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal who was a runner-up in Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. But it made him wiser for the forthcoming Delhi Assembly elections.

Both AAP and Congress had detected bogus entries in voters’ lists for the Delhi Assembly elections. Leaders of the two parties approached the Election Commission but the Election Commission behaved shabbily and refused to take notice of their complaints. The matter was then taken to Delhi High Court which pulled up the Election Commission and asked it what action it had taken on the allegation about the presence of a large number of bogus voters in various Assembly constituencies of the national capital. ‘What is the cause of it? Obviously someone is not doing their job properly’, Justice Vibhu Bakhru said while directing the Chief Election Commissioner  and the Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi to file an affidavit ‘indicating the cause of error.’ The court said that there were ‘discrepancies’ in the electoral rolls as shown by the petitioner, Naresh Kumar. The court also said that the allegation that there were many persons in the city who had numerous voter cards in their names but with different addresses needed to be rectified if they were still existing.

Election Commission snubbed

In response to the complaints of Aam Aadmi Party and Congress that Delhi’s electoral rolls carried names of a large number of bogus voters, Election Commission wrote to the two parties on January 11, 2015 that 1,20,605 ‘duplications’ had been noticed in the electoral rolls (which have been deleted). Election Commission’s response came two days before it was scheduled to file an affidavit in the High Court. That AAP got 67 seats and BJP only three in the 70-seat Delhi assembly is history.

Madhya Pradesh had two Assembly by-elections in February this year. During the campaign, Congress activists detected discrepancies in voters’ lists. Photocopies showing the same voter registered in more than one locality started appearing in social media. As the complaints at local level did not have the desired effect, the party led by Lok Sabha member from Shivpuri Jyotiraditya Scindia approached the Election Commission. A summary re-check of voters’ lists was ordered. A week before the day of polling, the Ashoknagar district Collector’s office sent its report to the Chief Electoral Officer in Bhopal saying that 1800 fake voters had been detected in Mungaoli Assembly constituency (which falls in Ashoknagar district). Of these 1800, as many as 834 were dead, 312 were listed at more than one place, 245 voters were not traceable and 435 had been transferred to different places but had not got their names in Mungaoli constituency deleted. Similar was the case for Kolaras Assembly constituency (in Shivpuri district).

The BJP candidates were defeated in both the constituencies though Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had made it appear like a life and death question for himself by deputing all the party leaders including his cabinet colleagues to campaign there. The BJP campaign did not recognise the words like ethics and morality.

The Election Commission has ordered a full revision of voters’ lists in Madhya Pradesh in view of the Assembly elections due later this year. So far the Collectors have detected nearly seven lakh fake voters – three lakh of them dead and four lakh untraceable. Scrutiny is on. 


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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.

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