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Gandhi wasn't a man of jumlas, or Union Home Minister Amit Shah's electoral promise

By Rosamma Thomas* 
In November 2023, in a speech at Bucharest, Romania, Belgian clinical psychologist Dr Mattias Desmet alluded to the power of Mahatma Gandhi, and his weapon of non-violent resistance. He explained that Gandhi considered “sincere speech” to be the core and essence of non-violent resistance. 
Desmet explains that in Gandhi’s autobiography, he mentions that he was not a man of talent – he was not handsome or physically strong, not intelligent at school, not a good writer, not a good speaker – but he had a passion for sincere speech, and his autobiography is titled “My Experiments with Truth” (Desmet’s full speech can be accessed in the video embedded here). 
Union Home Minister Amit Shah stands in sharp contrast to that ideal; explaining away a promise Narendra Modi made in November 2013 to fetch back all the black money stashed abroad so that Rs 15 lakh could be transferred to the accounts of all Indians, Shah said it was mere “jumla” – just an election promise that the speaker and his audience, both know, cannot be. For Shah, making such statements was the normal thing to do while seeking votes.
“Ram Nam Satya Hai” is chanted during the last rites among Hindus – the name of Ram is truth; and it comforts and endures, remaining unchanging and permanent. Gandhi, taking the assassin’s bullets, had the name of Ram on his lips. The Union Home Minister, however, finds clever ways to justify misleading words. 
When Opposition members in Lok Sabha pointed out, during the debate on the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill and the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill that abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution had not put an end to terrorism as earlier stated, the Home Minister said he had never claimed any such thing – "The Hindu" reported that he said only that a “zero-terror” plan had been formulated and would be implemented. Plans do not always work as anticipated, and the people of India better understand that, was what Shah appeared to state in the news report carried on page 1 of the newspaper on December 7, 2023.
That very day, another news item on the inside pages of the paper was noteworthy – the Union government told Parliament that the Char Dham project of which the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand was a part, did not require Environment Impact Assessment. 
A notification of August 22, 2013 from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had stated that an expansion of National Highways by more than 100 km involving right of way or land acquisition of more than 40 metres on existing alignments and 60 metres on realignments required prior environmental clearance. 
The Char Dham project totals 825 km in length, but was being developed in parcels of 53 projects, each measuring less than 100 km. There was thus no need for a clearance, according to the response in the Rajya Sabha from Nitish Gadkari, Union road transport minister.
It appears not to matter to the Union government that such brazen distortion of the provisions of law puts lives at risk. The 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel when a section gave way were rescued after 17 harrowing days, but about 130 visitors at Morbi bridge in Gujarat in October 2022, which collapsed soon after a problematic “renovation” was completed, were not fortunate enough to survive.
In 2022, journalist Niranjan Takle published his account of an investigation that in any democracy would have ended political careers. "Who Killed Judge Loya?" is the title of the book, but readers will not be left with any doubt once they turn the last page of the book. 
From Niranjan Takle's book
On December 1, 2014, Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, presiding judge of the CBI special court hearing the case of the alleged involvement of Amit Shah in the 2005 murders of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausarbi, died mysteriously. Shah had been jailed in connection with these murders in 2010. 
By December 30, 2014, the new judge, MB Gosavi, discharged Shah and ruled that the allegations were politically motivated. “When a trial that involves over a hundred witnesses, a charge-sheet greater than 10,000 pages, and hundreds of call data records concludes within 48 hours, then even toddlers can foresee the upcoming verdict…” writes Niranjan Takle.
But then, what are such foibles, when compared to the lack of ethics of former MP Mahua Moitra?  
---
*Freelance journalist

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