Posts Tagged ‘ Breaking News ’

RSS & Tricolour


Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, who was part of Indian National Congress (INC) till 1923, started Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925 with the initial impetus to provide character training through Hindu discipline and to unite the Hindu community to form a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation). He was deeply influenced by the writings of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. From the time of its inception, RSS positioned itself as a cultural organisation and carefully avoided any political activity that could be construed as being anti-British.

Dr. Hedgewar, the first Sarsanchalak, instructed all RSS members to participate in political activities [independence movement] only in an “individual capacity”. The formation of the RSS, further increased the Hindu-Muslim divide, as the RSS rejected Mahatma Gandhi’s willingness to cooperate with the Muslims. M S Golwalkar, who became the Sarsanchalak of the RSS in 1940, continued and further strengthened the isolation from the independence movement. In his view, the RSS had pledged to achieve freedom through “defending religion and culture” and not by fighting the British. Thus the nationalistic political base behind Gandhiji during the Non-Cooperation Movement was broken into factions.

The RSS leaders through their shakhas (branches) convinced Hindus that Muslims were despots and religious invaders. This narative worked perfectly for the British, who wanted to be seen as a rectifier of the historical harm inflicted by the Muslims, the invaders. The British had already completed the deeply resented partition of Bengal, in 1905, along religious lines – a Muslim majority state of East Bengal and a Hindu majority state of West Bengal. This Hindu-Muslim divide kind of strengthened the British hands to do the same with British India.

When INC called upon all Indians to celebrate January 26, 1930 as Independence Day, the RSS and its Sarsanchalak Dr. Hedgewar issued a circular asking all the RSS shakhas to observe the occasion through hoisting and worship of its own Bhagva Janda (Saffron Flag), rather than the Tricolour. The RSS continued the practice till 2002 except for a once in 1950 when the RSS hoisted the Tricolour in their HQ at Reshambaugh, Nagpur.

The second RSS Sarsanchalak and the most reviered till date, Golwalkar, published in his book ”Bunch of Thoughts”. He lamented that “our leaders (freedom fighters) have set up a new flag for the country. Why did they do so? It is just a case of drifting and imitating… Ours is an ancient and great nation with a glorious past… Then, had we no flag of our own? Had we no national emblem at all these thousands of years? Undoubtedly we had. Then why this utter void, this utter vacuum in our minds?”

On January 26, 2001, three Rashtrapremi Yuwa Dal activists Baba Mendhe, Ramesh Kalambe and Dilip Chatwani, entered the RSS premises in Reshimbagh and hoisted the national tricolour amid patriotic slogans. The RSS filed a case (FIR No. 176 at Kotwali Police Station, Nagpur) against them. The case file reads that Sunil Kathle the incharge of the premises first tried to stop intruders from entering the premises and later tried to prevent them from hoisting the tricolour. The 3 activists were later were acquitted and were released.

The last time RSS Sarsanchalak Golwalkar had hoisted the Tricolur in RSS HQ was on January 26, 1950. In the wake of Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948, the new Government banned the RSS and the then Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Patel, wrote to Nehru on February 27, 1948 ”It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that [hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through”. However personal conviction would not compromise Patel’s commitment to due legal process. After investigations were completed, Patel declared quite unequivocally that though “the RSS was not involved… his assassination was welcomed by those of the RSS and the [Hindu] Mahasabha who were strongly opposed to his way of thinking and to his policy”.

Golwalkar repeatedly pleaded with Patel, but he remained firm. Sardar Patel finally lifted the ban on July 11, 1949, only after the RSS pledged to “stay away from politics, not be secretive and abjure violence”. More important, it had to profess “loyalty to the Constitution of India and the National Flag”. But post the death of Patel on December 15, 1950, the RSS went back to their old ways till the 2001 Rashtrapremi Yuwa Dal shocker.

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Alibi

Just wanted everyone to learn meaning of the word ‘alibi’. An alibi is a Latin word and is ”a form of defense used in criminal procedure wherein the accused attempts to prove that he or she was in some other place at the time the alleged offense was committed”.

Gujarat Minister of State for Women and Child Development, Maya Kodnani was send to jail, in August 2012, for 28 years in the Naroda Patiya riots of February 2002. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) Court called her ‘kingpin’ and decided she would serve the jail term under different Sections of the IPC; 10 years under Section 326 and 18 years under Sections 120(B) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder). Witnesses had told investigators that Maya Kodnani, a gynaecologist, played a leading role in the massacre of 95 people – 30 men, 32 women and 33 children – in , an area falling under her Assembly constituency.

Maya

She was granted bail in July 2014 by Gujarat High Court who suspended her sentence on grounds of her sickness and possible delay in trial. In April 2017, she first requested the Special Sessions Court in Ahmedabad to summon Amit Shah and 13 others as defense witness.  After much dilly dallying in the case. Maya Kodnani claimed that she had failed to reach Amit Shah, because he was constantly travelling outside Gujarat. Finally on September 17, 2017 Amit Shah appeared and told the court that Maya Kodnani was present in Gujarat Assembly during the Naroda Gam riot. Amit Shah backs Kodnani’s alibi

Maya Kodnani just establish her alibi.  

NaMo’s Lok Pal

Finally the Indian Parliament has passed the Lok Pal Bill and we saw a lot of grand standing and credit posturing by all the political leaders of the Congress and the BJP.

Something surreal and sublime was happening in the country. For we Indians, used to seeing all political parties dispatching newly elected MLAs and MPs to some impregnable forts, blatant horse trading to cobble together majority, and parliament/ state assemblies being stalled for the silliest of reasons, this was a welcome change. The only time we saw our parliamentarians display unity was when it comes to their pay cheque.

Suddenly our leaders became goody two shoes. Post the Delhi elections we saw the victor and the vanquished, begging, prodding, and cajoling their biggest opponent Aam Aadmi Party to form the government. Parliament was ‘debating’, yes you read it right, debating on the need for an ombudsman organization, state funding of elections, electoral reforms, food security, price rise etc. Leaders were making ‘astounding discoveries regarding engaging people’. Basic principles of participative democracy is presented as ‘a bold new idea’. Our political class was displaying a new sense of exalted virtue and political morality. And India sure looked close to becoming a ‘paradise’.

Suddenly the leaders from Congress and BJP were graciously congratulating Anna Hazare for his contribution to ‘enact the Lok Pal Bill’. This was the same leaders who shooed away Anna and his India Against Corruption Movement, the last time around, ie., 2011, saying they were duty bound ‘to protect against outsiders trespassing into the law-making prerogatives of an elected Parliament’.

This time around, Anna, on his part, graciously accepted the ‘compromise Lok Pal’ offered by the government and called off his fast at Ralegan Siddhi. But, the most curious part was that all the leaders who spoke, conveniently forgot the contribution made by Arvind Kejriwal. But lost in the din was yet another important news – ‘Gujarat got its Lokayuktha’. And that brings me to the reason for writing this article.

ModiBut before we start I would like to take the legal meaning of ‘Ombudsman’ from which the concept of Lok Pal was born. In Government/Politics and Diplomacy, ‘ombudsman’ is a commissioner who acts as independent referee between individual citizens and their government or its administration.

Gujarat passed Gujarat Lokayukta Act in 1986, but almost from the time Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the Gujarat Lokayukta, has not been functional.

In 2001, when Modi came to power in Gujarat, Justice RM Soni’s was the Lokayukta. Justice Soni was appointed during Keshubhai Patel’s rule in 1998 and his term expired in December 2003 and the post has been lying vacant since then. From then on Modi scuttled every move to appoint a Lokayukta and make the Gujarat Lokayukta, functional.

Finally on 25 August 2011, the Gujarat Governor, Dr. Kamla Beniwal, appointed Justice R. A. Mehta to the post of Lokayukta of Gujarat. Justice Mehta was recommended for the post by the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court S.J. Mukhopadhaya in June 2011.  A miffed Modi accused the Governor of running a parallel government in the state supported by the Congress and demanded that she be recalled.

The Gujarat government then challenged the appointment in the Gujarat High Court, arguing that the Governor could not make the appointment without the State government’s advice. On 10 October 2011, the two-member High Court bench gave a split verdict and in January 2012, a third member upheld Beniwal’s decision. This was a major blow to Modi.

The Gujarat government then approached the Supreme Court, however lost the case. The SC upheld the Gujarat High Court’s verdict that though the decision on Lokayukta appointment was made without consultation with or approval from Modi, it was as per the letter and spirit of the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986.

The Gujarat government appealed against the SC verdict twice, but lost. Even after the SC upheld his appointment, Justice Mehta however desisted from charge of the office, citing 23 reasons. The controversy over his appointment, he said, had ‘denigrated the office of the Lokayukta and it had lost all the grace and dignity.’ (Read full text of his resignation letter here)

This was Modi’s chance. As is the norm in Gujarat, Modi wanted to appoint his man-friday for the role of Lokayukta, but he knew that this would not stand the scrutiny of law. So he now framed a new bill – Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, 2013.

The new Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, was passed by the state assembly in April, 2013, but, unfortunately, on 2 September 2013, the bill was returned by Gujarat Governor. On 1 October 2013, the state assembly passed the bill for the second time. But this time Governor Dr. Beniwal was constitutionally bound to accept the bill. Thus finally Modi had his way and succeeded in subverting the Supreme Court decision on the appointment of Lokayukta.

Unlike the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986 the new bill provided primacy to the Chief Minister, over the Gujarat High Court Chief Justice, in appointing the ‘ombudsman’. The new Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, 2013 empowers a selection committee chaired by the Chief Minister appoints the Lokayukta. The panel comprises the Speaker of the Assembly, a Minister, the Leader of Opposition, the State Vigilance Commissioner and a High Court Judge, ‘to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the HC in consultation with the collegium of five senior judges’.

The new Bill also proposes a special provision which gives pivotal power to the state government in excluding any ‘public functionaries’ from the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta.

Then we saw Jayaram Ramesh capturing headlines saying ‘Modi talking on lokayukta is like Asaram talking on rape’. Jayaram was spot on, but then you know that these politicians only put on a public show to deride each other in varying degrees restraining themselves only to varying degrees of their innate civility or belligerence as is their habit. But they go ahead and do what they want anyway – even change a law or bring in a new one to suit their whim and fancy.

Lokayukta is an ombudsman body which is supposed to look into irregularities brought to its notice against the decisions taken by the state cabinet and the administration. Then how can the Chief Minister who is the head of the state cabinet have supremacy in deciding who should be the ombudsman?

This not only belies fundamental logic and intelligence. To me, it is a travesty of the institution of the ombudsman, but also provides an indication of authoritarian incoherence and double speaks by the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Damodardas Modi.

Heads up – the politicians win. Tails up – the people lose !!!

Cartoon : Courtesy Satish Acharya