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

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.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”