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Posts Tagged ‘Lal Krishna Advani

 

The BJP swept the February-March, 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The instant reaction of BSP supremo Mayawati to her party’s miserable performance  in Uttar Pradesh was that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were manipulated. Soon the Samajwadi Party and AAP leaders joined Mayawati’s outcry. Even some Congress leaders in Uttarakhand also started talking about EVM manipulation. Meanwhile, a discussion on the fragmentation of non-BJP votes in Uttar Pradesh had also started (the BJP got so many seats with a vote share of less than 40 per cent while the combined vote share of BSP and SP was over 44 per cent plus six per cent of the Congress share).

The subject of EVM manipulation has been cropping up almost from the time EVMs were introduced.  A sort of campaign on this issue was launched by then Madhya Pradesh Congress President Suresh Pachouri after the 2008 Assembly elections which had returned BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan for the second term. A distraught Pachouri had threatened to expose EVM manipulations with the help of his “friends in the UK and the US”.

Before Pachouri could carry out his threat, Lal Krishna Advani jumped in the fray after the BJP lost the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and his dream of becoming the Prime Minister was shattered. He demanded discontinuation of EVMs and going back to the printed ballot papers. Advani’s demand was supported by the leaders of various parties like the AIADMK, CPI (M), Janata Dal (S) and the Lok Janshakti Party. Advani had the support of a bureaucrat also. Former Delhi chief secretary Omesh Saigal had surfaced to claim that he knew a secret code in the EVM, through which the machine could be programmed to transfer every fifth vote to a particular candidate. Petitions were filed in courts on the fallibility of EVMs, one of the most vocal petitioners being BJP’s Kirit Somaiya.

There was so much noise in the country that the Election Commission felt it had to do something. In August 2009, the Commission randomly obtained 100 EVMs from 10 States (Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh). The Commission invited political leaders, petitioners and other critics of EVMs and also made the media announcement that the EVMs would be kept in the Commission office for a specified period and anyone could come and show how these machines could be manipulated. No one did. The EVM bogey, though, has one merit. It keeps occupied the politicians who have been defeated in the elections and have nothing else to do at the moment.

 

‘Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up’ gives a succinct account of the Machiavellian ways of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in the words of top IPS and IAS officers who were at the helm of affairs during the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. Amit Shah, as Minister of State for Home, comes out as more of a bully. The 204-page book is authored by Rana Ayyub, then with Tehelka magazine but now working independently.

These officers spoke more or less candidly about the riots and fake encounters as they were under the impression that they were not talking to a journalist but to a young lady who was making a film on Gujarat for some American company. Rana had donned the identity of a film maker from America in 2010 with the help of a former colleague who had joined the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles. She spent some time studying the work of the Conservatory, changed her persona to the extent possible and assumed the name of Maithili Tyagi from Kanpur, and equipped herself with spy cameras — one fitted in her watch, another in her notebook and a third one in one of her kurtas. With the approval of her editors in Tehelka, she was now ready to descend on the unsuspecting bureaucrats in Gujarat.

Some of these officers willingly did what Chief Minister Modi expected them to do – eliminate those pointed out by Modi and Shah and/or turn a blind eye to the mayhem of Muslims by VHP activists. They were duly rewarded. Those who had suffered pangs of conscience and displayed reservations about carrying out the wishes of Modi and Shah had to suffer one way or the other.

Rana says Narendra Modi and Pravin Togadia were once synonymous with the growth of Hindutva in Gujarat. They used to attend RSS shakhas together in the same state. Togadia was a cancer surgeon who joined the VHP in 1983 and Modi, a full time Pracharak, was inducted into the BJP in 1984. When Keshubhai Patel was Chief Minister, both were in the core committee which took important decisions for the government.

From 1995 to 2001 when Modi was almost exiled from the state, he would spend most of his time in the VHP office as opposed to the BJP office where he was no longer welcome. Rana quotes reports to say that it was Lal Krishna Advani who convinced Togadia to bring Modi to Gujarat as Chief Minister in October 2001. Togadia agreed to the change and got his right-hand man Gordhan Zadaphia inducted as Minister of State for Home. Togadia had substantial say in postings of officers, many of whom played a dubious role in the post-Godhra riots in February-march 2002 when the VHP and Bajrang Dal cadres unleashed a wave of terror in the state. Modi later freed himself from the Togadia stranglehold. He brought Amit Shah in place of Gordhan Zadaphia as Minister of State for Home.

Modi would ensure that he was not directly connected with any criminal activity. As Ashok Narayan, who was Home Secretary at the time of the riots, told Rana, Modi would never say ‘go slow’ on controlling the riots. He would also never write anything on paper. He had his people and through them the VHP and then through them it would trickle down through informal channels to the lower rung police inspectors.

Amit Shah, for that matter, was less circumspect. That could be the reason that he got arrested for ordering fake encounters.

In the eight months that it took Rana Ayyub to complete her task, something had changed in Tehelka and it refused to publish her story. Hence this book.


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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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