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Seventeen months in saddle, riding astride an overwhelming mandate, Modi government "loses" its way

By RK Misra*
India today is a sitting duck. Like a turkey voting for an early Christmas. Let’s sample a recent day’s national headlines.
It no longer informs. It screams. Hatred in Mumbai. Violence in New Delhi. Fanaticism in Bengaluru. Punjab on the boil. Protests in Kashmir. Trucker killed in Udhampur over rumours of cow slaughter...
The reference is to the storming of the Cricket Control Board meeting discussing an Indo-Pak cricket series by the Shiv Sainiks in Mumbai, Hindu Sena workers smearing black paint on the face of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) legislator Abdul Rashid for ‘disrespecting’ the cow, in Delhi and BJP activists harassing an Australian couple for sporting a tattoo of a goddess in Bengaluru. For Rashid this is his second experience of violence. The first time over he was assaulted within the august J&K Assembly by ruling BJP legislators themselves. The Shiv Sainiks have already done the smearing act with former LK Advani aide, Sudheendra Kulkarni.
Re-wind by two days and you have the right honourable BJP chief minister of Haryana, Manoharlal Khattar graciously decreeing that the muslims ‘could’ live in India but will have to give up eating beef. As if the Indian Constitution has decreed him the right to decide. However, V Murlidharan, Kerala BJP chief is ‘magnanimous’. He states that they won’t oppose beef eating in their state. But then, there is the RSS mouthpiece, Panchjanya which virtually justifies killing of Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri over beef consumption rumours and states that the holy scriptures, the Vedas, mandate killing of those who slaughter cows.
The RSS promptly disowns its organ while the editor parrots the standard line ‘views are personal’. The Hindu Sena chief says he is ex-RSS and the RSS prachar pramukh, Manmohan Vaidya demurs. ‘Blackened’ Rashid wants to meet the Prime Minister but gets no response.
Elsewhere in Bengaluru, leader of the BJP opposition KS Eshwarappa pleads helplessness if the questioning lady journalist were to be dragged and raped. Or so he tells her. In Delhi they have already accomplished the feat earlier and recently with a girl child as well. Next door neighbour Haryana’s Faridabad has already set a house ablaze with two dalit children in revenge attacks by upper castes.
In far-off Bihar in the throes of a turmoil-filled election, the country’s prime minister Narendra Modi and its one-time railway minister Lalu Yadav are exchanging filth without remorse or rancor. All over the country over 30 distinguished authors and poets have returned their Sahitya Akademi awards over the killing of three rationalists by suspected hardline hindu elements and the uncultured reaction from India’s culture minister Mahesh Sharma is “let the writers stop writing then we will see”. Of course, he has now been rewarded with a bigger official residence for his shenanigans.
It finally takes an anguished President Pranab Mukherjee’s critical refrain at the dismaying drama to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak. "What the President said is right”, he says mouthing pious platitudes after an overdrawn bout of selective silence. No response. The President cautions again on the pitfalls of rising intolerance.
This time Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley disapproves of vandalism. "Streets can’t decide ties with neighbours”, he says even as the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) member, after a fact finding visit, terms the Dadri killing as involving precision planning. BJP national chief, Amit Shah, has already brushed aside his party government’s responsibility, terming law and order a state subject.
Was it not so when Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat and Shah his Home minister. Both blamed the UPA ruled Centre for everything from rise in vegetable prices to fall in cotton support ones. The self-righteous finance minister of India, Jaitley now sermonizes everyone from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and the Rajya Sabha to trade, business and even the Supreme Court. He counsels the constitutional authority, CAG, not to ‘sensationalise’ it’s findings, questions the constitutional sanctity of the Rajya Sabha, terms authors' protests as a ‘paper rebellion’ and the Supreme Court verdict on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) as the ‘the tyranny of the un-elected’.
He seems to be playing God almighty looking down on his subjects on earth! One needs to remind him, that though elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, he once represented scamster Ketan Parekh in 2005 against the interests of thousands who had lost their all when the Madhavpura Mercantile Cooperative Bank (MMCB) of Ahmedabad went bust.
NDA fellow traveler Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has already gone on record to state that BJP motormouths are denting the image of the government eroding it’s net worth.
Phew...
Seventeen months in the saddle (May26,2014), riding astride an overwhelming mandate for growth and development, by the aspiring young, and the crestfallen old, Modi’s is a government that has lost its way. The Prime Minister talks decentralization and concentrates power in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) through 28 hand picked and selected officers from Gujarat. GC Murmu is the latest from his CMO days to move over to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and there should be new developments in the "National Herald" case soon.
ED head for Gujarat and Maharashtra JP Singh was raided by the CBI at the behest of the PMO. And who were feeling the heat? The bulk of the hawala operators, many of them already behind bars. It was they who had complained against Singh who had tightened the nuts on them.
The media mileage is all very fine but it will be interesting to follow the case with the CBI’s track record being what it is and Modi himself leading a diatribe against it during his chief ministerial days. With Modi in the driver’s seat, what has changed in the CBI except that cases pursued with vigour during the previous government are now falling like nine pins?
Another high profile case for which snide reports let it be known that the PMO provided the inputs is that of Ashok Singhvi, IAS 1983 batch, the principal secretary, mines, Rajasthan government. The charge was that money had been collected on his behalf from a Chittorgarh mine owner for re-starting the mine. The mine owner did not tattle. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) processed information on it’s own. Interestingly, the operation was carried out by IGP, Dinesh MN, a Rajasthan cadre IPS officer of the 1995 batch. Dinesh spent seven years in jail in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case. Perusal of documents of the case point to suspected involvement of a clutch of Gujarat and Rajasthan police officers at the behest of the Rajasthan marble lobby to liquidate Sohrabuddin Sheikh and later his wife as well as friend Tulsiram Prajapati.
Co-accused in the case included the then Gujarat home minister and now BJP president Amit Shah, DIG Vanzara and then SP Rajkumar Pandian besides a host of others. The then Rajasthan home minister, Gulabchand Katara, was also named by the CBI in its chargesheet. Both the ministers were subsequently discharged. All spent extended time behind bars though Shah was the first one to come out. Both Singhvi and his deputy, additional director, mining, Pankaj Gehlot had joined issues with the Centre on it’s mining guidelines issued on October 30,2014. Both found themselves arrested on September 17,2015.
As for Dinesh MN, the change of government at the Centre did him a world of good. An SP when arrested, he was promoted DIG and then IGP with retrospective effect from May 9, 2014.The notification for this was released on January 23 this year and he was released on bail four days before being re-instated.
Transparency should be the norm, the Prime Minister states and turns his administration stone opaque. The press is barred and officers threatened with the worst if they speak to the media.
The government of the day is in a terrible hurry to re-write history. Not by scripting it’s promised new agenda for development but by expending colossal energy to erase the old. And that includes the Mahatma. The Hindu Mahasabha has announced nationwide plans to celebrate November 15, the day Nathuram Godse, the killer of Mahatma Gandhi was hanged as ‘balidan diwas’ (martyrdom day) and not a single BJP/RSS leader has anything to say, not even the great gujarati pride.
On the other hand, the might of the BJP-led Anandiben Patel government in Gujarat slaps sedition charges on Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader, Hardik Patel twice and for waving the national flag upside down. Interestingly the Gujarat and Delhi governments were both hauled before the Delhi High Court in May 2013 for wrongly depicting the national flag in their advertisements.
Punjab minister Bikram Majithia unfurled the national flag upside down at an official flag hoisting ceremony this independence day and deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat and Amritsar police chief Jatinder Singh saluted the upside down flag as well. Never heard of any action against them. Earlier on September 23, in Gujarat charges of sedition had similarly been slapped on a relatively unknown PAAS leader Nilesh Ervadia for circulating ‘abusive’ messages on social media about prime minister Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and chief minister Patel.
Still earlier on October 29, 2008, the Modi government in Gujarat had picked up VHP secretary Ashwin Patel on sedition charges for sending defamatory SMSs against the chief minister, among other things.
If the sedition stick can be flashed to protect the image of lesser minions seeking to bring disrepute to national pride, why the stone dead silence on an organization trying to celebrate the Father of the Nation’s killer as ‘balidan diwas’. Let alone sedition, this is treachery to the nation. It is an issue of national honour worthy of each one of India’s 1,282,390,303 citizens and calls for action by authority. Regardless of the price!
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*Senior Gandhinagar-based journalist. RK Misra's blogs can be accessed at http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/

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