Skip to main content

How Modi government in Gujarat used to give primacy to politics of vendetta over corruption

By RK Misra*
Vendetta politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, and applying the wrong remedy, or so goes an oft repeated saying.
Cold Delhi was sizzled on December 15 as the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) sought to ‘marinate’ the Delhi Chief Minister’s Office in a controversial raid that saw temperatures soaring in Parliament and fingers pointed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for resorting to such a practice.
After Himachal Pradesh, this is the second Chief Minister or his office to be targeted by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government in it’s less than two year long tenure.
Interestingly, just around the time that the CBI was pursuing the raid on the Delhi chief minister’s office, far away in Gujarat’s capital of Gandhinagar, a court was issuing a bailable warrant against minister Purshottam Solanki in an alleged Rs 400 crore fisheries scam during the time when he was a minister in the government headed by chief minister Narendra Modi. In fact, two of his ministers figure in this case, the other being Dilip Sanghani who was then agriculture minister.
Solanki, the then minister of state for fisheries is currently state minister for animal husbandry and cow protection in the Anandiben Patel government in Gujarat. The Court had ruled that there was sufficient ground for proceeding, and therefore a criminal case be registered against seven people, including the ministers and a senior secretary of the government.
The case involved giving fishing contracts for 58 state reservoirs without the mandatory auctioning process. In September 2008, the Gujarat High Court ordered scrapping of the contracts. When tendered, this time it fetched the government Rs 45 crore as against Rs 2.4 crore for the contracts granted by the minister. The complainant had then moved the court seeking prosecution of the minister.
The case erupted in a major political controversy in 2012 when the then Governor Kamala Beniwal sanctioned prosecution of the minister. Rather than taking a stern stand on an issue involving corruption, the Modi government in Gujarat challenged the decision of the Governor in the High Court and faced the ignominy of it’s arguments being rejected.
To cut a long story short, the Modi government in Gujarat sought to give primacy to politics over corruption when it best suited it, so the past record does not show up the present acts in more charitable light. For good of 13 years that he ruled the state ,journalists heard him fulminate against the UPA-ruled centre, the state governor and what he would disparagingly call the Congress Bureau of Investigations(CBI).
The outpourings of the time sound so very hollow as he and his government puts the very same instruments of state power to use, albeit more ruthlessly. Numerous judicial commissions of inquiry were instituted when public sentiments ran high but their reports continue to gather dust with many yet to be tabled on the floor of the House though the preliminary reports were milked to political advantage.
To cite an example, the Nanavaty-Mehta Judicial Inquiry Commission report on the Godhra carnage and the statewide communal riots that followed thereafter.
Without going into the merits or demerits of the National Herald case, the fact remains that Himanshu Kumar Lal, a 2003 batch IPS officer of the Orissa cadre who was on deputation as joint director of the Enforcement Department had recommended closure of the case. He was summarily shunted out to the UIDAI for the remaining part of his deputation. RS Katoch, who was holding additional charge of the ED and had only days earlier received a three month extension, was suddenly divested of it and Karnal Singh brought in as special director to take charge.
This was done after Subramanian Swamy sought the Prime Minister’s intervention in the matter. The Centre had only last month backtracked on its stand endorsing prosecution of Swamy for allegedly making hate speeches .It stated that the affidavit filed by the union Home Ministry in the Supreme Court does not reflect its stand.
Lal is not the first officer to be shunted out. Nor will he be the last. When Modi took over in Gujarat five IAS officers were summarily sent into ‘wilderness’ for the perceived sin of being seen to be close to his own party patriarch and predecessor, Keshubhai Patel. Three of them subsequently quit service.
Even in the period thereafter those who have dared to oppose, even differ have faced a similar fate. The list is long. It begins with DGPs (now retired) Kuldip Sharma and RB Sreekumar. Sharma had recommended prosecution of his minister (home) Amit Shah, now BJP chief while Sreekumar was sidelined and superseded for opposing Assembly elections after the 2002 riots before the chief election commissioner JM Lyngdoh.
He had stated that the atmosphere was too communally surcharged for polls, the precise reason why Modi wanted it to romp home on polarized sentiment. He was superseded but sought judicial intervention to get his position and pay. Two serving IGPs, Satish Verma and Rajnish Rai, were shunted out of the state on ‘penal’ postings immediately after the change of guard in Delhi.
Verma had under High Court directions assisted investigation in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case while Rai probing the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case under apex court directions had arrested three IPS officers including DIG Vanzara. It finally led to the arrest of Home minister Amit Shah who spent extended time in prison before being bailed out and was finally taken off the hook after the BJP government came to power in Delhi.
Sharma’s brother Pradip Sharma, an IAS officer, has been in and out of prison with fresh charges being filed every time he travels up to the apex court and manages bail.
These are just to name a few. Similarly there is a long list of officers who have been rewarded for services to ’king’ and ‘crown’. By last count there are about 28 of them doing duty in Delhi with at least three more to add to the numbers soon.
Hell hath no fury than a Modi scorned .It is common knowledge that during his tenure in Gujarat, in the aftermath of the 2002 communal riots that followed the Godhra carnage, the then chief minister had to face maximum problems at the hands of the judiciary and certain NGOs.
Most of the litigational forays which were turned into ‘prestige’ issues by the state government, reportedly on account of his defiant stand came a cropper whether it was in the matter of the Lokayukta case, sharing of lions with MP or the lax investigations into the 2002 communal riots cases.
Those who have followed him closely over the years know that Modi does not forgive and forget easily. For him a friend can do no wrong and an enemy can do no right. And also that he does not duck a fight nor hesitate to change things to suit his requirements come what may. It is therefore not farfetched to see the changes sought to be brought in the higher judiciary through the NJAC legislation or the retributive onslaught of the administration that Teesta Setalvad and her likes are facing.
By the same yardstick those who opposed her and Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar, to name a few, have been rewarded for their efforts. Shahrukh Khan gets badgered for a mere statement that the country is becoming a tad too intolerant and soon finds himself staring at the wrong end of the official barrel.
Again Leela Samson is set to face an enquiry for the period she was the director of the renowned bharatnatyam centre, Kalashetra for ‘unfruitful expenditure’ at the hands of the Mahesh Sharma-led union culture ministry. The right honourable minister is credited with the famous line that ‘Despite being a Muslim President Kalam was a nationalist’ and gets rewarded with the bungalow occupied by the former President.
It would be in order for those in high places to pause and ponder for the politics of vendetta is the only scrip that guarantees manifold ‘returns’. What goes around, eventually comes around.
---
*Senior Gandhinagar-based journalist. Blog: http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Modi's PRO, who served previous Congress, BJP CMs in Gujarat with "equal" competence

By Rajiv Shah
A public relations officer (PRO), even as maintaining anonymity, is supposed to “manage” reputation of his or her client, reflecting the client’s views in order to influence opinion and behaviour. A PRO is also known to use, the world over, media and communication to build, maintain, manage and plan publicity strategies and campaigns, even as dealing with enquiries from the public, particularly media, organising promotional events such as press conferences, open days, exhibitions, tours and visits. A PRO is also supposed to final touches to press statements for his or client.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Proposed expansion of Karnataka N-plant "ignores" worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima

Counterview Desk
EAS Sarma, former secretary, Government of India (GoI), in a letter addressed to secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, with copies to chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and chairman Karnataka Pollution Control Board, has said that radiation and environmental risks have been ignored in DAE’s proposal to set up Units 5 & 6 (2X700MWe) at Kaiga Nuclear Power Station in Karnataka.