PDP – BJP Alliance On the Verge of Collapse

With a lot of fanfare, BJP had formed a historic alliance with PDP. The alliance is on the verge of collapse. After Mufti Mohammad Sayid passed away recently, his daughter Ms. Mehbooba Mufti is unwilling to take charge of leadership of the government. It is important for BJP to stay in power in the state of J&K because the party has never won power in the state. 

Who is to blame if PDP decides not to continue its alliance with BJP? It can be argued that BJP at state level have stood by PDP after Mufti Sahab passed away. BJP did not may any loose statement. BJP even announced that the party will have no problem with Mehbooba Mufti becoming chief minister. Is it a ploy to pass the blame on PDP for breaking the alliance? 

Given the political scenario in India, many states have a strong regional party and leader. The regional party may agree to share seat with a central party and become part of the alliance that governs India at the centre. Local party may have no existence beyond the state. For the regional party state becomes the point of focus and they would not like to lose their stronghold in the state by compromising states interest. On the other hand central party has to cater to national audience by sticking to a standard of governance that is pan Indian. A central party like BJP has to alter its policy or break the alliance with regional party. 

If the BJP – PDP alliance gets undone, BJP will be as much to blame as PDP for not being able to manage contradictions, let alone delivering goods to the people of J&K the chief reason for forming the alliance. It appears central BJP wanted to take all the credit for delivering package to the state, at the expense to slighting the chief minister and regional party. In the process BJP forgot that in the Kashmir valley, BJP will unlikely to get a foot hold no matter whatever it does. Kashmiris will most likely vote for PDP, national conference or even worst case congress but not BJP. The situation may be different in Jammu and Ladakh. For situation to change in the valley, BJP has to work at reconciliation for a long time to win trust of people of Kashmir valley, even at the expense of altering it national policy. That means giving up on article 371, J&K flag, beef ban etc. If this does not happen, there is not a chance of BJP – PDP alliance continuing. Even if a second election happens, BJP will not win in Kashmir valley, it may lose risking vote share in Jammu. So BJP should try as hard as possible to retain the alliance with PDP. This gesture may encourage other regional parties to form alliance with BJP.


Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Second Phase of Declassified Documents

True to its promise, Modi government at the centre has declassified 100 files on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The files included 16000 pages mostly correspondence. Government promised to release more files gradually, around 25 files per month. 

I have not read the files. Listening to Television channels and gleaning through news paper reports, I came to understand that nothing really incriminating has emerged that can crucify past governments. If anything, congress party was supporting daughter of Subhash Chandra Bose with a monthly stipend of Rs. 500. Earlier declassification has revealed that congress government was also tracking correspondence of family members of  Bose family.

Listening to discourses on Television, four points became apparent. 

  • First, one set of family members lead by Ms Anita Pfaff, Prof. Sugato Bose and Mr. Ashish Ray claimed their view was confirmed that Netaji died in plane crash.

  • Rest of the family members, lead by Mrs. Chitra Bose, believed nothing actually has come out about Netaji’s death. Though the family welcomed Prime Ministers move, they wanted more information from intelligence file to come out. Historian Anuj Dhar also supported the view.
  • Congress party came out all guns blazing.  Party spokes person Mr. Anand Sharma threatened to sue central government, RSS and BJP. According to Mr. Sharma, revelations are politically motivated and intended to destroy reputation and legacy of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, first prime minister of India. After some brainstorming about aggressive stance of congress party, it became apparent, that Mr. Sharma was in all likelihood alluding to a letter circulating in social media which suggest that Pandit Nehru wrote a letter to Clemont Atlee about Subhash Bose. However, no information came out about this letter being part of documents revealed.
  • Another theory that is going around is slow and sustained release of information is likely to be timed for Bengal election. With most damaging bit coming out closest to the election. I find this argument strange. If anyone to be damaged by revealation, it will be congress that has marginal presence in Bengal. Mamata Banerjee will emerge unscathed from any such revelation. On the other hand, BJP will be living in a dream land if they think they will become a player in Bengal piggybacking on Netaji documents declassification. Bengal is generally pro left. Political space is likely to be changed between left and TMC. BJP has a long way to go to carve a niche for them in the state.

I had always felt and wrote that Subhash Chandra Bose was an extraordinary leader. He had managed to sell a vision of nationhood to diverse set of people of Indian origin  coming from diverse background and belief. So much so many had contributed their lives savings to the formation of Indian National Army. It is probably academic after so many years, if he really died in air plane crash or he managed to survive. A worthy son of India who sacrificed everything for the nation, must be given his due.

Abhimanyu Gaur and Rohith Vemula : Two Deaths, Different Reactions

In the new year India has seen two murders that needs to draw peoples attention. One is mowing down of Abhimanyu Gaur, an airman, who was participating in republic day parade rehearsal. Culprit was son of an alleged Trina Mool Congress party (TMC) member. Police apparently had advised the accused how to get out of the city and evade arrest and when to surrender. After a lot o noise, the main accused and his friends were arrested nearly 4 – 7 days after actual incident. 

Can anyone remember how much news paper space and TV time the incidence grabbed? How many secular politicians – Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kehriwal, Nitish Kumar, Laluji Yadav, Sitaram Yechury et al. demanded ouster of West Bengal home minister and chief minister? None. Because in this day and and age of likely third front alliance, Mamata didi can be a powerful ally and a game changer. 

Rohith Vemula committed suicide at the University of Hyderabad. Rohith was a brilliant student a PhD scholar. Rohith was a member of Ambedkar Students Association. Given the support Rohith is getting from AISA and left parties, there is every possibility that Rohith and his friends were associated with extreme left ideology as well. Telangana is a hot bed of naxalite movement now. I have no dispute with Rohith’s politics. He can abuse Swami Vivekananda. He can glorify Yakub Memon. I can understand Rohith was free to say anything in the name of freedom of speech. 

I am more interested in knowing why a tough boy like Rohith killed himself. His suicide letter did not mention anyone to be responsible. People who decide to fight against the establishment, are usually tough people and they usually do not break. They take it for granted that their fight is going to be long and hard. So why did  Rohith commit suicide? Was he getting disillusioned by politics of ultra left, that uses people like Rohith as pawn in their bigger class war? His suicide letter certainly suggest so. Rohith who was fighting a political battle, why did he not get any assistance from his organisation? Is this the cause of his depression and eventual suicide? I think an investigation will only reveal. 

One must look at beeline of politicians like Arvind Kejrwal, Rahul Gandhi, Asaduddin Owaisi at Hyderabad University. I am curious, when Abimanyu Gaur passed away, did Derek O’Brien of TMC cry murder? Did he ask for justice and sacking of home minister? By the way, home ministry in Bengal is headed by Mamata Banerjee, and Derek loves his job. 

When Akhlaq was lynched, media accused BJP of communalising the event. Now Rohith passed away. Absence of BJP members is seen as anti-dalit. By the way, ABVP leader who Rohith fought with belongs to backward caste so does the minister Bandaru Dattatreya, whose head opposition is gunning for. While everyone is highlighting anti-dalit bias of BJP, what can be more ironical!

Toilet Training Must Be Enforced

In India a large number of people still defecate in the open. Conservative estimate suggest that the number of people in India that defecate in the open can be as high as 500 million. As one enters any major city by train in the morning, one can see people attending natures call in the open by railway track. Such a sight is not only an eye sore, it is unhygineic and gives a bad impression of the country.

As Indian economy grows, more and more people are migrating to cities in search of livelihood. Many of these people do not have access to or afford basic facilities that citizens in other countries take for granted. In the rural India on the other hand many people are forced by habit and preference chose to defecate in the open, despite having a toilet at home. So there is a need to change mindset of Indians so more and more of them use toilets.

Government of India has started aggressively to build toilets and engage in advertisement campaign to extol the virtues of using toilets. Some state governments have enacted law that unless one has a toilet at home and have a basic education (class X for men and class V for women and backward), they will not be eligible for contesting village level election. I think, given the high rate of illiteracy (India has a very high number of adult illiteracy) and a very large number of people not using toilet, a government effort will be applauded.

Many groups have protested, outlook magazine devoted an issue and New York Times published an article, claiming the move to be undemocratic and will very likely put many poor people and women at a disadvantage. I find such an argument facetious. Sometime when people do not listen, there has to be a mechanism to force them to adhere to it. Otherwise why penalize people who do not wear seat belt? It is difficult to understand in this day and age how would a person lead development projects and teach villagers importance of sanitation and education if the person himself defecates in the open and remains uneducated. It is true, education and a latrine does not make a person a perfect panchayat. So does a medical degree does not make a person a good doctor. But a medical degree is the basic qualification society has accepted before we discuss our problem with a physician.

Malda Violence and Main Stream Media

Is main stream media in India is selective and biased when reporting lunatic fringe elements of majority Hindu community? I was reading an article by Rajdeep Sardesai celebrity anchor of TV Today evening prime time show. Mr. Sardesai certainly thinks media is impartial. But consider this, following abominable lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq main stream media went berserk and wanted answer from the prime minister of India. Many renowned authors, cinestars, artists and politicians from secular parties declared India has become intolerant for minorities. Many wanted prime minister to answer. Many of us moderate Hindus agreed that killing of Akhlaq was the most unfortunate thing that could have happened in Mr Modi’s rule. Coupled with ban of beef eating, ghar wapsi, love jihad, killing of intellectual etc all represented a state of India where only majority ideas dominated.
Then recently happened another incident in Malda, West Bengal. A mob of muslim men, some say 20000 some say 1.5 lac, were intimated to gather in Malda. Pamphlets were circulated in advance to call people. Idea was to protest prophanity uttered against prophet Mohammad by a Hindu extremist leader. The incident had happened in another state, it had happened nearly a month before. The perpetrator of blasphemy was in jail. Yet the mob gathered, destroyed public property, torched police thana and burnt BSF truck.
Strangely, all voices that claimed India has become intolerant remained quiet. Some people, including chief minister of Bengal, claimed since this was not a fight between Hindus and Muslims, and since not one had died, the incidence does not qualify to be a communal event. Nevertheless it was a show of strength by a group to force their way. 
Such minority violence is not new to West Bengal. Remember Park Street riot to protest against Tasleema Nasrin’s book? How many were arrested, how many prosecuted? Probably none. Secular CPM was ruling in state and UPA II was in centre. Secular UPA government did not even grant resident status of Ms. Nasreen.
Did media, celebrities, writers and artists worry about intolerance of minority groups? The same set of people that jumped on BJP after horrible rape of an elderly nun, did not even bother to apologise after the actual perpetrator was arrested. Now same set of people want us to believe that Dadri violence and Malda violence cannot be equated.
In the name of justice and secularism main stream media projects a blinkered view, at the expense of maintaining neutrality. Deafening silence of the civil society on minority violence further reinforces the view that protest that manifested itself all through the year, was a manufactured one aimed at stopping BJP from coming to power. Such acts result in emboldening of majority fringe elements.

Pathankot Attack : Mirzafars Are Alive and Kicking

More information about terrorist attack on Pathankot airport base, more intrigued I become. Narcotic smugglers routinely cross international border at Bamiyal town in Indian Punjab. This same route was used by terrorists six months before by terrorists that attacked Gurdaspur. Yet there was no alertness on part of Border Security Force or Punjab Police. One superintendent of police was loitering around the place in his beaconed vehicle without his armed security guard. So far no answer has come that explains why this person was in the area. He claimed to be have been abducted by terrorists. Yet he was allowed to live to see another day. I am not unhappy that superintendent of police was spared his life, I think it is very unusual.

Terrorists drove from Kolian, a village near Bamiyal, in a police vehicle upto Tajpur village near Pathankot airbase. It has emerged that terrorists were carrying a lot of arms and ammunition, nearly 50 kg per person, along with food and medicine. So the questions emerge,

1. how did terrorists entered high security Pathankot airport? 

2.    Did terrorists scale the wall? If they did, why walls were not fenced with barbed wire and glass pieces?

3.   How did the terrorists haul up 50 kg armaments that included bullets, guns, rocket launchers, grenades etc? I have not included food and water, whatever limited amount they had carried. 

4.   Where were these terrorists hiding after they entered the base? 

5.   I learnt that Pathankot air base has village inside. Gujjars graze their cattle in the grass land. Did terrorists walk in with gujjar villagers? Is there no system of identity card of who is going out and who is coming in? 

6. I do not think the terrorists could bring their heavy load and themselves without support from inside the base. They entered India with the help of BSF, reached unto air base using Punjab Police and entered base using either air men or villagers. 

It appears India is being eaten alive from inside by people who consider personal gain more than collective loss of country. Mirzafar, general in Nawab Sirajadullah’s army, stood like a bystander and let Robert Clive of East India company defeat Nawab of Bengal in 1757. First victory of the British that started India’s domination by British. Mirzafar was suitably rewarded by the East India Company. In 2016, Mirzafars are still alive and ready to sell Indian interest to the highest bidder.

Odd Even Plan Must Continue

Government of Delhi initiated Odd – Even plan from 1st Jan, 2016. It is likely to last till 15th of Jan, 2016. The program means, cars ending with odd numbers will ply on odd dates, while cars ending with even number will be allowed to come out on even dates. The objective of the move was to bring down pollution level in Delhi. However, the plan was criticized because bikes were allowed to ply, single women and women with children were allowed ply. Not to mention, emergency vehicles and VIP cavalcade etc.

Many had prophesied that the move will fail. Delhi wallahs love their car. They may never accept the proposal. Strangely, majority followed the directions, coupled with efficient implementation and heavy fine by police. But strangely, pollution did not come down significantly after five days. So what should we call the move – a success or a failure? The following is my take.

  • After the odd even car rule started, I drove for the first time. Honestly, I was happy with my experience. There was less number of cars on the street. Several vulnerable points still had jams. But these were less acute than before. 

  • Getting people used to public transport will go a long way toward national fuel bill and public health. Citizens will spend less money on fuel, so will the nation. This may lead to greater savings. 

  • Cities will become more livable. With less number of car plying daily, eventually there will be less pollution. So it will be good for health. 

  • Pollution results from a complex set of factors which include  vehicular emission, dust from construction sites, digging up of roads, buring of waste and farmlands from around NCR. All these factors couples with heaviness in the atmosphere in winter months make dust particles settle down. I think coupled with Odd – Even plan, government must try to address other contributing factors of pollution as well. Though actual pollution level did not come down significantly, and this was the primary goal of odd – even experiment, I think government must continue with odd – even experiment.

Government must provide alternative transport facility – Metro, Tram, Electric bus, better cabs, bicycle tracks etc. Simply making odd – even rule will fail, if government does not work on providing better public transport options. People of Delhi have supported the scheme of Odd and Even. Now government has to support zeal of citizens by providing facility. Delhi police has acted commendably by enforcing government policy. Let us hope not only Delhi other Indian cities also adopt similar strategy. Let us hope for a clean, green and healthy India.

Happy New Year, Really!

New Year started with a sombre note. When rest of the country was welcoming New Year, terrorists attacked Pathankot Air Force base. Government claimed, unlike similar attack in Pakistan,  we were able to protect our strategic assets worth billions of dollars. I has also come to public domain that terrorists had instructions to inflict maximum and spectacular casualty on man and machine. It is important to remind the nation that six precious lives were also lost. There could not have been a worst start to a New Year for families of soldiers who lost their lives. 

Now that all terrorists have been neutralised, it is important to ask, how could six unidentified people get inside a strategic air base? Is there no identity check carried out by alert personnel? If terrorists got entry by scaling the wall, how come a strategic airbase has scalable wall? Should such walls not be continuously monitored using human surveillance and using technology like laser ray? It even came in public knowledge that thermal imagers of BSF was not functional. In a sensitive border area, where an attack has happened not less than 6 months before, BSF did not have functional thermal imager!  

For long, it is believed that there are trails used by smugglers to bring in heroin into Punjab from Pakistan. Gurdaspur attackers and Pathankot attackers used the same route. Why was the route not manned, specially so because state had prior intimation of an imminent attack. Was there vested interests at play that would sell country for personal gain? 

The conduct of SP is also very suspicious. Why was he roaming around at 3 in the morning using his official car along with his cook and a friend? It is strange the ruthless jehadis let the SP go scotfree. It is highly unusual. Unless Jehadis were convinced of some kind of quid pro quo, they cannot risk their mission by letting go of three people. Id does not matter, if the Jehadis knew of identity of SP or not. Something really fishy out here. The SP should be thoroughly investigated.

Recently, prime minister of India had staked a lot of personal and political capital by extending hand of friendship to prime minister of Pakistan. There was a general feeling of happiness in both nations. In one stroke, terrorists have attempted to change the situation and bring in a scenario of tension and violence. Talks with Pakistan hanging in balance, a very happy beginning to New Year, indeed!