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Posts Tagged ‘Rahul Gandhi

Barkha Dutt of NDTV interviewed P Chidambaram, who was Minister of Home and Finance in the Manmohan Singh government and a member of Cabinet Committee of Security. The interview was to be aired on NDTV in the evening of October 6 and extracts of the interview were played on the channel throughout the day. Suddenly, NDTV decided not to telecast the interview because Chidambaram was critical of the Modi government’s handling of the surgical strikes by the Indian army across the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir.

The same evening, NDTV’s editorial director Sonia Singh told NDTV’s journalists throughout the country about the channel’s ‘new editorial policy’ which, in nutshell, was that ‘we have decided we will not give space to the bizarre political bickering that has broken out on surgical strikes…’

In an elaborate article in ‘The Wire’, Siddharth Varadarajan says that according to the extracts played out by the channel, Chidambaram had only criticised statements of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made after the surgical strikes. Varadarajan says that dropping Chidambaram’s interview wasn’t the only act of censorship at the channel that day. Editors were instructed that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s statement in Uttar Pradesh about Modi trading in the blood of Indian soldiers was not to be run on the channel either.

The sorry state of the media under the Modi-Shah dispensation is fully explained by the questions ‘The Wire’ sent to Co-Founder and Chairperson of NDTV Radhika Roy and Sonia Singh. Varadarajan says that in her reply, Radhika Roy provided only a general explanation of NDTV’s policy, but did not answer specific questions, especially those on Chidambaram, Rahul Gandhi, Manohar Parrikar and Amit Shah. Some of the questions were:

*What prompted NDTV to announce a new editorial policy as mentioned in its message ‘India above Politics’?

*Was it true that the decision to not air Rahul Gandhi’s (statement) was taken pursuant to the new editorial policy?

*Extracts of P. Chidambaram’s interview to Barkha Dutt were played during the day on October 6 but the full interview was finally never broadcast. Is it true that the decision was taken in keeping with NDTV’s new editorial policy? Was Chidambaram saying things that compromise national security?

*Doesn’t NDTV’s refusal to telecast statements by a former home minister or by the leader of the main opposition party amount to censorship of the news on your part?

*Contrary to your stated policy of not encouraging politics and political debate to compromise national security, NDTV showed BJP leader Amit Shah’s press conference today live. Is this because, in your channel’s view, his remarks do not constitute a politicisation of the surgical strikes, and of national security?

*Raksha mantri Manohar Parrikar recently made a statement about how the Indian army realised its strength only after the current government came to power: “Indian troops were like Hanuman who did not quite know their prowess before the surgical strikes,” Parrikar said. In your view, is this an example of political debate that does not threaten to compromise national security?

*Will criticism of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or the use of pellet guns against civilians by the security forces in Kashmir, be allowed on NDTV in the future?

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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.


November 2017
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“Behind every great fortune there is a crime”, originally attributed to 19th-century French writer Honoré de Balzac.

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