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Posts Tagged ‘Kamal Nath

PDS scam
Kamal Nath, Congress Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, constituted his cabinet on December 25. Ten days later, new Food Minister Pradyuman Singh Tomar inspected a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop in Bhopal city and found mud and stones in wheat and rice, in addition to detecting other irregularities. The PDS scam had grown into gigantic proportions in the BJP government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan with his blessing. It was by accident, or call it by a little carelessness of his officers, that the enormity of the scam had come to light.
Bhopal witnessed heavy rains in July 2016 when it rained cats and dogs without a glimpse of sun for days together. The low-lying colonies were flooded, houses collapsed, people died and thousands had to be evacuated to hastily put up camps. It was then revealed – once again – that these colonies had been allowed to be built on sewage drains and there was no outlet for the rain water to flow out.
But the flood-victims, belonging mostly to the lower strata of society, had to be fed. Chouhan directed the Civil Supplies Department to disburse grains among them and the Department promptly sent some bags of wheat to these people. In the hurry they sent them the wrong bags which were not meant to be opened in cities but in remote villages. Because, when the people opened the bags they found a substantial quantity of mud cakes and stones along with the wheat. They cried foul inviting the media persons and activists. Mud cakes and stones were separated in presence of the media and activists and weighed. In a 50-kg bag, mud cakes and stones weighed 15 to 20 kgs.
This accidental exposure led to the revelation that mud cakes and stones were mixed in certain number of wheat bags at warehouses where the grain is kept. These ‘mixed’ bags were meant to be sent to remote areas to be distributed through fair price shops in villages. As the individual consumer got a certain quantity of wheat at a time, all that he complained of was that the wheat was dirty or had some mud and stones in it but he never came to know of the actual quantity of the adulteration. Sometimes some people did create ruckus but they were taken care of by the police or the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of the area. The reason was simple: Chouhan’s most trusted officers were put at the helm of affairs in both the departments; Civil Supplies and Warehousing Corporation. Some close relatives of Chouhan were said to be having interest in the working of the two departments.

Chouhan’s criminal intent
What the Congress and other opposition parties could not do was done by a member of Chouhan’s cabinet to make the Chief Minister and his RSS mentor (late) Anil Madhav Dave aware of their criminal intent in trying to rob the poor of their land fraudulently. Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Akhand Pratap Singh vehemently opposed at a cabinet meeting the proposal to allot 13.766 hectares of land in the Chief Minister’s Budhni Assembly constituency by overruling the objections of the revenue and finance departments to Narmada Samagra Trust floated by Anil Madhav Dave. The land near Uma Bharti’s favourite Bandrabhan Ashram was the pastureland belonging to the poor people of Ramnagar village on the bank of river Narmada. Under the rules, this land could not be converted into the land for construction of houses. Dave’s Trust was to be allotted the land at throwaway prices. The Chief Minister’s criminal intent became clear in giving the khasra number of some other land in the newspaper advertisements inviting objections. Narmada Samagra Trust was registered with the Registrar of Public Trusts only a few months earlier, its movable property amounting to only Rs 11,000 and no immovable property. Anil Madhav Dave, as secretary, was the only person authorised in the Trust deed to enter into legal proceedings. The required application fee was not deposited while applying for allotment of land to the Trust. The move to allot land to Dave’s Trust was dropped after the fraud was exposed by Akhand Pratap Singh.

Murder of IPS officer
Chouhan and his wife Sadhna Singh were celebrating Holi at the Chief Minister’s sprawling residence in Bhopal when the news of IPS officer Narendra Kumar Singh’s murder by the mining mafia at Morena was conveyed to them. If they were affected, they did not show it and the revelry continued unabated with full gusto. Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) of Chambal range D P Gupta had told media persons after the incident that Singh had tried to stop a tractor carrying illegally mined stones but the driver ran over him. “We won’t call it an accident. Even after he was stopped, the driver crushed the officer with his tractor. It’s a clear case of murder. The tractor driver (identified as Manoj Gurjar) has been arrested and a case (under Section 302 IPC) has been registered against him and we are trying to ascertain whom he was working with”, the DIG was quoted as having stated.
Home Minister Uma Shankar Gupta and Director General of Police (DGP) Nandan Dubey rushed to Gwalior on the way to Morena and with that the murder became accident. The police also spread the word that no mining mafia was behind the incident, that the driver was carrying the stones to his village for his own use and that he had become nervous on seeing the police officer and lost control of the vehicle resulting in the “accident”.
IPS officer’s wife Madhurani Tewatia, an IAS officer posted in Gwalior (who later got herself transferred to UP cadre), said: “One day you say it is a murder and the other day you say it is not – this is not acceptable… If someone has done something good for the country, you can’t just get hold of the driver and feel that it is enough. You need to start from the roots to eradicate this mafiasm.” Madhurani Tewatia asked if a poor driver dare trample an IPS officer, or even a constable, under the wheels of his vehicle unless he was assured of full protection – legal, monetary and otherwise – by those in control of the illegal operations?

Another murder
Constable Dharmendra Singh Chauhan, an ex-army man, was posted at the Noorabad police station in Morena district. One night he was part of a patrolling party when they saw sand-laden truck parked under suspicious circumstances. As the police party challenged the vehicle, its driver started the engine and tried to flee the scene. Chauhan ran forward to stop the truck. He had almost reached the engine when the driver abruptly turned the truck trampling the constable under its wheels. The driver ran away from the scene. Chauhan’s colleagues in the patrolling party took their own time to reach the scene of the ghastly murder.
Note: Illegal mining in Madhya Pradesh was directly supervised by Chouhan’s wife Sadhna Singh through a promotee IAS officer with a dubious record S K Mishra.

Jhabua blast
A blast in a store in the small town of Petlawad in Jhabua district killed 90 persons and injured over 100 others. The law does not permit storage of explosives in a residential area but here the explosives were kept in a house at the centre of Petlawad town. Moreover, the owner of the explosives store Rajendra Kasawa did not even have a licence to store or sell the explosives. The licence for explosives is issued by the Petroleum and Safety Organisation (PESO). Deputy Chief Controller of PESO M K Jhala, based in Bhopal, said a day after the blast that no licence had been issued in the name of Rajendra Kasawa. Jhala said: ‘it is a serious matter. I have checked records and no licences were issued from our side. Our officials will be visiting Petlawad and submit a report’, he added. The residents of Petlawad had been complaining to the district administration about the storage of the explosives in the residential areas but the district administration always ignored the complaints. Chouhan’s close associates were said to be the beneficiaries of the racket.

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Cabinet formation in Madhya Pradesh has renewed infighting not only in the ruling Congress party but in former chief minister Digvijaya Singh’s family also. With Chhindwara MP Kamal Nath appointed as the PCC president and Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia as the chairman of the Campaign Committee, the party had displayed a semblance of unity during the Assembly election campaign after a long time. The selection of candidates was without much hassle, unlike in 2008 and 2013. It appeared that it would sail smoothly if it got majority and formed the government. Voters of the State, though, did not trust the party fully and gave it 114 seats, two short of a clear majority, in a House of 230. The BJP won 109 seats. With the support of four independents, two BSP members and one SP member (total 121), the Congress staked the claim and was invited by Governor Anandiben Patel to form the government.
The unity which was visible during the campaign started dissolving. After an exercise lasting several days and with the intervention of party president Rahul Gandhi, Kamal Nath was declared to be the Leader of Congress Legislature Party (CLP). He was sworn in as Chief Minister. Selection of members of the Council of Ministers proved to be a tortuous task. The week-long efforts by Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal and Delhi failed to produce an agreed list. The intervention of Rahul Gandhi was of not much help. The only point of agreement was that those who had won for the first time would not be inducted into the Council of Ministers.
The problem, it was said, arose because of Digvijaya Singh’s insistence that his son Jaivardhan Singh (who has won from Raghogarh constituency for the second time) should be given the cabinet rank. This prompted Scindia to push some names of his own supporters. Ultimately, the three agreed on 28 names — 22 of them first entrants to the Council of Ministers and only six old hands who had served as ministers in the past. Exasperated by claims and counter-claims of Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath then announced cabinet rank for all the 28 ministers.
This was followed by public protests including chakka jam (road-block) by some senior members of the party who were hopeful of getting berths in the cabinet but were ignored. A former minister said that he was told to get ready for swearing in and he had organised a celebration meal at his residence for his workers but at the last moment his name was dropped causing so much embarrassment to him. One of the four independents was made a minister, leaving the other three sulking. Public dissatisfaction was displayed by the lone SP MLA and two BSP MLAs.
Raghogarh family
When it came to the allotment of portfolios to the ministers, the Congress was jolly well at its old game of full blown infighting. While Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia fought for important departments for their supporters, Chief Minister Kamal Nath appeared a helpless spectator. No other Congress leader has as much grip over State’s politics as Digvijaya Singh. This gives him immense power of manipulation. Kamal Nath has to mainly depend on him. The problem with Kamal Nath is that he has never been active in State politics, keeping himself confined to Chhindwara which he has been representing in Lok Sabha since 1980 except for one term. While he gets along well with Scindia also, his relationship with Digvijaya Singh is much deeper as both of them were protégés of the late Arjun Singh.
Among the senior party leaders left out of the cabinet is Lakshman Singh, younger brother of Digvijaya Singh. Lakshman Singh has been elected to the State Assembly for the third time and was also a member of Lok Sabha for five terms. He was a claimant to a berth in the cabinet but Digvijaya Singh was said to have insisted only on his son’s inclusion. This appeared to have renewed the bitterness in the Raghogarh household which Digvijaya Singh was able to adroitly paper over in the past few months.
The tension in the Raghogarh family had started when Digvijaya Singh married Amrita Rai in 2015, not long after the death of his first wife Asha Singh. His marriage was opposed by his son and daughters, but more bitterly by Lakshman Singh and his wife Rubina Sharma Singh. Rubina is Lakshman Singh’s second wife. The major cause of Rubina’s bitterness was that Digvijaya Singh had opposed tooth and nail Lakshman’s marriage to Rubina on the ground that she was not of their Thakur caste; and now Digvijaya Singh was marrying Amrita Rai who was also not a Thakur. Property, too, was said to be behind the family feud. Digvijaya Singh has not yet been able to visit Raghogarh after his marriage to Amrita Rai.
Master of manipulation as he is, Digvijaya Singh had managed to appease Lakshman Singh and Rubina and a semi-normal relationship was re-established in the family. Digvijaya Singh and Amrita were said to have invited Lakshman Singh and Rubina over lunch in their Delhi residence.
Digvijaya Singh’s “refusal” to get his younger brother included in the cabinet has rekindled the old bitterness. In her comment on a post in Facebook, Rubina Sharma Singh observed: Digvijaya Singh “has a serious insecurity problem. Can’t stand it that Lakshman wins elections. You should have seen what all was done to try and to make him lose. Absolutely pathetic!” She also scotched the rumours that Lakshman Singh would contest for Lok Sabha.


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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