Ashok Gehlot emerges stronger after trust vote - The Daily Guardian
Connect with us

Opinion

Ashok Gehlot emerges stronger after trust vote

Pankaj Vohra

Published

on

It goes without saying that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has emerged stronger after winning the trust vote in the state Assembly, thus establishing his supremacy in the Congress, and also providing a lesson to the BJP on what power politics was all about. In sharp contrast, Sachin Pilot, who raised a banner of revolt to challenge his leadership, appeared reconciled with the outcome, following weeks of turmoil that had resulted in instability. He had apparently chewed more than what he could digest, and his attempt to replicate Jyotiraditya Scindia did not succeed, primarily because he did not have the required numbers, and second, he negotiated with the wrong people in the BJP, to topple the Gehlot government. In addition, Jyotiraditya’s aunt, Vasundhara Raje, who is the most effective BJP functionary in the state, was not enthusiastic in unseating the Congress government , since she would not have been the beneficiary, if such an act took place. As a mature and perceptive politician, she figured that if someone was installed as the CM with the BJP’s backing, her chances for the next round of Assembly elections would stand totally diminished. Her reluctance to come on board also became a contributory factor in saving the Gehlot government.

However, the Rajasthan Chief Minister deserves full marks in ensuring that none of the MLAs loyal to him during this crisis, drifted towards the other camp. In fact, there were reports that some MLAs who had sworn allegiance to Pilot, were eager to return to the Congress, given their proposed defection was not making any difference to the government. No MLA is prepared to risk his permanent estrangement from the establishment, as it would amount to negligible help to his Assembly constituency.

Gehlot is aware of the pivotal issues in the state and did not allow his adversaries to checkmate him. The reality is that it was not the intervention by the Congress high command that came to the CM’s rescue, but his own astuteness and resolve to fight it out. Both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra merely came into the scene for optics. If they indeed would have had a say in the matter, they would never have permitted Pilot to be so publicly humiliated; he was assigned the second-row seat in the Assembly, in close proximity to the benches occupied by the BJP. It is also not certain that the MLAs who momentarily deserted the party to be with Pilot, would be accommodated in key positions in the government.

 Gehlot would first like to reward those who stood by him, instead of bowing down before legislators whose loyalty is questionable. For the sake of form and propriety, he may include one or two in his Cabinet, but shall keep the cabinet expansion exercise in abeyance. After all, Gehlot has been around for nearly 50 years in the Congress. Pilot must never repeat the same mistakes after losing the power struggle. Redemption is not easy in politics, even for the young.

The Daily Guardian is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@thedailyguardian) and stay updated with the latest headlines.

For the latest news Download The Daily Guardian App.

Opinion

STAY OUT OF KASHMIR, SUPERMAN AND WONDER WOMAN

Renowned Justice League icon Superman apparently destroying Indian Air Force F/A-18D Hornets over Kashmir. India does not have any such aircraft. (Screengrab from Injustice)

Joyeeta Basu

Published

on

Something bizarre has happened in the DC Universe—for the uninitiated, DC Comic Universe where fictional characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Aquaman dwell. Suddenly, out of the blue, in an animated movie by DC, Injustice, Superman and Wonder Woman are seen to be fighting the Indian military in Kashmir and disabling their aircraft and missiles to make the place an “arms free zone”. Moreover, Kashmir is mentioned as a “disputed region” in the film. Curiously, while the animated movie shows the superheroes fighting for peace in different fictional places, a real name has been inserted in between, that of Kashmir. In another clip, an Israeli flag has been used to show an Israeli leader signing a peace deal with someone behind whom there is a green flag. If the film has to be believed, the Indian military bombs civilians in Kashmir—an outrageous fiction. In fact, it is Pakistan, which regularly bombs its own people in the name of countering insurgents. Since we do not know how geopolitical experts such as Superman and Wonder Woman have come to the conclusion that Kashmir is a “disputed” area and the Indian military bombs its own civilians, we can only speculate about the invisible hands at work here. It could be a case of a direct Pakistani or Chinese intervention, or both, and/or could be the handiwork of some very woke pseudo-liberal-types who derive their knowledge about India from the very-woke Western legacy media, which takes a rather Orientalist view of this country. While some will say it’s better to ignore such drivel, the problem is, some very malign forces seem to have been able to introduce an anti India element in a medium that is highly popular and thus also influential. The matter cannot be ignored, for it may get bigger in future.

However, when it comes to China, Hollywood takes a problematic stand. It whitewashes all PRC crimes, including turning a blind eye to the oppressive and authoritarian rule of the Communists in Tibet and Xinjiang. Not too long ago, one of the big studios faced immense international anger after filming certain parts of Mulan—an ancient China story—almost next door to the concentration camps that PRC has built for the Uyghur population in Xinjiang. The studio also actively engaged with the publicity department of the Communist Party during the filming. China is a big market for Hollywood. Much Chinese money is floating in Hollywood, with the Chinese funding films, buying up theatre chains, and with Chinese production companies teaming up with their Hollywood counterparts. As a result, concerns are being raised about Chinese propaganda and censorship making their way even into Hollywood blockbusters. US soft power adds to its superpower status, and it is this soft power that the Chinese are using to their own benefit as they conduct their political warfare at a very subliminal level. Amid this, it is but natural that in the DC Comic case, the finger of suspicion will be raised at China and its “iron brother” Pakistan.

The Kashmir insertion in the DC film is insidious and dangerous because anti-India propaganda is thus sought to be normalized and influence young minds. Around three years ago, a Hollywood series, Quantico, starring Priyanka Chopra had shown Hindu nationalists planning to carry out a nuclear attack in Manhattan and frame Pakistan for it, to scuttle US-Pakistan talks. The plotline was so outrageous that it led to a huge hue and cry, forcing the television studio ABC to apologise to Indian viewers. All this has to be seen in the context of the huge campaign going on in the West by the left-pseudo-liberal section to paint India as an electoral autocracy, an authoritarian country, because it is headed by a right of centre government. As a result, people unaware of the ground reality in India are falling for this fake narrative. This has to be countered. Public pressure needs to build up on DC Comics to remove the mention of Kashmir from the film. India has a lot of economic muscle and a market, which Pakistan does not. If a campaign builds up, Superman and Wonder Woman will lose many more fans and business here than in a broken and bankrupt country such as Pakistan. Hence, DC needs to drop the offending reference and let superheroes do their super-jobs, without meddling in world affairs about which they do not have any clue.

Continue Reading

Opinion

What ails Uttarakhand’s governance?

Uttarakhand region had never been well governed. Till 2000 it was part of Uttar Pradesh where the predatory leadership sucked its wealth and labour. After being carved as a separate state it was expected to progress and many things improved such as schools, colleges, universities, technical institutions, roads and hospitals.

Amita Singh

Published

on

It is a known fact that quality of governance indicates capacity to be resilient against disasters. The hurricane Katrina of USA that caused over 2000 deaths and US$ 125 billion in damage in late August 2005 exposed the pathetic governance of Louisiana. People had bad health, houses were weak, high rate of drug addiction, unsterilized city animals, uninsured citizens, unemployed youth and all this because of a highly corrupt leadership and unresponsive state administration. Uttarakhand’s unstoppable exposure to some of the most heart-rending disasters every year from floods to earthquakes to glacial lake outbursts and to landslides bring provoking questions about its governance. As data reveals decisions have been taken in defiance of limits that nature sets in the form of carrying capacity of any terrain. As causes of disasters, Corruption comes first and climate change later.

Uttarakhand region had never been well governed. Till 2000 it was part of Uttar Pradesh where the predatory leadership sucked its wealth and labour. After being carved as a separate state it was expected to progress and many things improved such as schools, colleges, universities, technical institutions, roads and hospitals. The villagers basked in the new found Panchayat power after the 73rd Amendment in 1992 which brought many silent communities into focus as repositories of power. It brought power but not the right to govern. From Sundarlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt the early Gandhian environmentalists till late Prof. G.D.Agarwal and woman seer of Haridwar Padmavati the Ganga crusaders have only asked for a share in governance. While the memory of Uttarakhand’s disaster victims begging for food and clothes in big cities of Uttar Pradesh like Lucknow and Bareilly still remains, it is not yet a thing of past. Local village communities are still seen begging with unattended medical conditions and little hope for sustainable livelihood. As per Census of India (2011) Uttarakhand has a population of 101 million with a pathetic sex ratio of 886 women per thousand men and a much higher infant mortality rate (IMR) at 38 in 2020 which is higher than the India average IMR of 29.07. With female literacy at 70 and the male literacy at 88 the state has nothing to rejoice about. What ails Uttarakhand’s governance?

The Uttarakhand government could rarely defend itself after Dhauliganga disaster that washed away the Rishi Ganga hydropower project at Raini village after a glacier broke off in Joshimath. The massive floods caused by glacial outburst in the Dhauli Ganga river in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand washed away houses and many people. The village Panchayats of this area had been an alert group against environmental injuries as the legendary Gaura Devi, leader of Chipko Movement hails from here and had kickstarted action in March 1973 from this village. These villagers had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Uttarakhand High Court in summer 2019 which issued directions to the state government to check what was going on in Raini village of Chamoli concerning the construction of the hydel project. The government was not concerned till the dam broke off. Similarly, Naveen Chandra Pant and many others residents of village Ganwa Sirmoli, District Bageshwar raised voice through a PIL against illegal mining in village Panchayats of Ganwa Sirmoli, Tehsil kanda in District Bageshwar, the court issued directives to the state government but instead of introspection to protect mountain topograpgy for survival of people’s habitat, many decisions were taken in contravention of the judicial directives. Some of them are as discussed here.

In Feb 2020, the district magistrate was authorized to issue permits for commercial mining on private land and permission for River Bed Mineral (RBM) Mining. This brought havoc to the terrain as gravels, boulders and sand excavation for construction work started in full speed. In a Cabinet meeting headed by the Chief Minister in the same year, more than 10 such projects were approved which not only deepened mining into river bed but also changed boundaries of eco-sensitive zones around national parks. To deepen this process of mining the Uttarakhand Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2001 were changed to allow digging as deep as 3 meters. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change only participated to facilitate this process. None of the political executives found anything wrong into it despite the Judicials warnings from the Nainital Court and the National Green Tribunal. Same year, the state government brought in a new Stone crushing policy which endangered a large part of pristine national reserves. If this was not enough, the state government also attempted to remove Radio Frequency Identification Chips (RFID) on vehicles engaged in regulated mining as per court orders so that this could become a free for any vehicle coming to mining area. The brutal breaking down of hills which balance each other and the felling of trees that are water recharge-shed for land has already disturbed the equilibrium beyond repair. The greed for land and minerals has devastated rivers of Uttarakhand and made them flood prone. The increasing temperatures are related to the activities being promoted by government over the hills.

Is the state government prepared for managing disasters? The Policy and the Plan for disaster management has not been updated since 2016. The Policy and the Plan document repeatedly refer to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, need for an evacuation plan, organizational structure of disaster management(only posts not names),hazards and vulnerabilities of India and the state per se but nothing in particular to offer to an administrator who has to look back and take action in a calamitous situation. Interestingly, these documents look like a student’s examination answer sheet where he fills up as many sheets writing the same irrelevant answers with the hope that more pages would earn him better marks. The key points that enable pre-emptive action for an administrator, key collaborators and friends or partners in need and with rural population being thrice the urban there is an intensive need to identify trained and willing panchayats to come on call for disaster prevention. Uttarakhand loses roughly 20 thousand crores to disasters every year. Does it invest this amount in development that gets washed away due to disasters? Therefore the argument of refining quality of governance led by educated and sensitive people who are grassroot connected and speak the language of their land, is the only alternative to the current chaos and sorrow.

The author is president, NDRG, and former Professor of Administrative Reforms and Emergency Governance at JNU. The views expressed are personal.

In Feb 2020, the district magistrate was authorized to issue permits for commercial mining on private land and permission for River Bed Mineral (RBM) Mining. This brought havoc to the terrain as gravels, boulders and sand excavation for construction work started in full speed.

Continue Reading

Opinion

WHY IS RAHUL GANDHI RELUCTANT TO TAKE THE ACTUAL JOB?

Priya Sahgal

Published

on

Hours before the Congress Working Committee met there was a hashtag trending on Twitter clamming, #YehDilMangeRahul. And true to the script, the usual suspects (AK Antony and Ashok Gehlot) raised the question of leadership, asking Rahul Gandhi to take over as party president. Rahul replied: “I will consider it.” No one asked the obvious follow-up— What is there to think about and consider? It’s not as if it came as a `Breaking News’ for him that his party wanted him to step up. Despite Sonia Gandhi claiming that she is not an interim arrangement but a full-time, hands-on working president the fact of the matter is that she has been stepping back for a while now and letting her children, especially Rahul take all the crucial decisions. The theatre in Punjab was scripted by Rahul and Priyanka as was the rather successful show of opposition strength in Lakhimpur Kheri. Again it was Rahul Gandhi who met and admitted Kanhaiya Kumar to the party; when Navjyot Singh Sidhu threw on his sulks, it was Rahul who met him before the CWC meet and placated him. Again during the meeting, while Sonia handled the discipline issues by sending a stern message to the G 23, it was Rahul who laid out the party’s agenda i.e we are a party for the downtrodden and so we should reiterate the message by promoting backward caste leaders like Charanjit Singh Channi, that we should not let media dictate our narrative, etc (am paraphrasing the gist of his comments as told to me by sources).

So, if Rahul is taking all the important decisions, why is he still reluctant to take the actual job?

One reason for this could be that he is still wary that catapulting him to the post of the party chief will put him in direct confrontation with the Prime Minister in the next Lok Sabha polls. As the leader of the largest national party in opposition, he cannot fight the polls under the leadership of another opposition leader even someone like Mamata Bannerjee who may be feisty but she is still a regional leader (and yes I know her party is national but she still has to extend her appeal outside West Bengal).

The opposition fight will have to be spearheaded by Congress with the support of Mamata, Sharad Pawar, etc. Rahul Gandhi has done a lot to improve his image but his real test will be the next round of assembly polls to establish his credibility. Uttar Pradesh is not the only state going to the polls and if Congress shifts its focus to the low-hanging fruit of Uttarakhand, Punjab, and Goa then it could win 3 of the 5 states in the next round. That will blunt the edge of losing Uttar Pradesh (despite Priyanka’s Lakhimpur Kheri intervention I still think the UP fight is between the BJP and SP while the Congress will at best improve its tally). Some Congress leaders claim that this is the plan and the Lakhimpur Kheri was as much as sending a message to the farmers of Punjab, as it was about Uttar Pradesh.

Well, let’s watch this space over the next few months. Because the main problem with the Gandhi siblings has always been consistency.

Continue Reading

Opinion

Lok Sabha without the Deputy Speaker

A petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court alleging inaction in filling the constitutional post of the Dy Speaker, Lok Sabha. Obviously, the petitioner is, arguably, well concerned as there has been an unconscionable delay of over 28 months in the election of the Deputy Speaker.

Published

on

The Vedic literature refers to ‘Sabha’, ‘Samiti’, and ‘Sabhapati’. A hymn of Yajurveda says, ‘Salutations to the Assembled and salutations to the President’. An Assembly cannot transact business without electing its Sabhapati or the President. The makers of our Constitution, therefore, made specific provision for the election of the Speaker and Dy Speaker. Article 93 of the Constitution casts an obligation that “the House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two members of the House to be respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker thereof, and so often as the office of Speaker and Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the House shall choose another member” to fill the vacancy.

The expression used is ‘shall’ and not ‘may’ which, as per the cardinal principle of statutory interpretation, leaves no shred of discretion left with the House. The posts are considered so important that the makers of the Constitution provided not only for choosing the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker as early as possible but made it mandatory for the House to choose another Speaker or Deputy Speaker, as the case may, if any of the post becomes vacant.

The expression, ‘as soon as may be’, cannot be construed that these constitutional posts remain vacant for years indefinitely. The House consists of members and it is for the Government, commanding majority in the House, to hold election to these constitutional posts so as to avoid any constitutional void.

It is in this backdrop that a petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court alleging inaction in filling the constitutional post of the Dy Speaker, Lok Sabha. Obviously, the petitioner is, arguably, well concerned as there has been an unconscionable delay of over 28 months in the election of the Dy Speaker. It may take still longer as the Winter Session of Parliament is yet to convene.

The post of Deputy Speaker, as per well-established parliamentary convention, goes to the opposition. The foundation of this convention was laid way back in 1956 when Sardar Hukum Singh of the Akaali Dal was elected unapposed as Dy Speaker. The Deputy Speakers like G.G. Swell, Shivraj Patil, Mallikarjuaiah, Suraj Bhan, P. M. Syed, Charanjit Singh Atwal, Karia Munda, and Thambidurai too, did not belong to the ruling party.

During the Monsoon session, 2021, when the issue about prolonged delay in the election of the Dy Speaker was raised, the Speaker observed that it was not in his power. Let’s see what the Rule says. Under Rule 8 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, ‘the election of the Deputy Speaker shall be held on such date as the Speaker may fix’. However, the fact of the matter is the date for holding election to the post of Dy Speaker is fixed at the initiative of the Government. As a parliamentary convention, the post, though elective, goes to the opposition. The Government plays a decisive role as it commands majority in the House. Government may have behind the curtain consultation and help in the election of a candidate who may be, though from the opposition but not from the principal opposition party. So, Government has the leeway by virtue of its numerical majority to contrive a situation in which the post of Dy Speaker may go to a mellowed-in-tuned-opposition rather than the dominant opposition.

The Deputy Speaker discharges the functions of the Speaker in his absence. He is not subordinate to the Speaker. He holds an independent constitutional post and is answerable to the House and can be removed by the House only. He has the same powers as of the Speaker when presiding over the sitting of the House and no appeal lies against his rulings given in the House and cannot be reopened by anyone. He is, like the Speaker, as the Speaker of the British House of Commons pleaded with King Charles who had stormed the House in 1642 thus, ‘Your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak in this place, but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here..’

In the absence of the Speaker or due to vacancy in the office of the Speaker, Dy Speaker performs the duties of the office of the Speaker. In 1956, when Speaker G. V. Mavalankar died, Dy Speaker, M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar filled the void, and later he was elected as Speaker. In 2002 due to the demise of G. M. C. Balayogi, P.M. Syed, Dy Speaker discharged the functions of the Speaker. It was P. M. Syed, the Dy Speaker belonging to the Congress party who presided over the joint sitting of Parliament convened to pass The Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2002 by the Vajpayee Government. When G. S. Dhillon resigned from the post of Speaker in December, 1975 on being sworn as Minister, Dy Speaker discharged the functions of the office of the Speaker. Similarly, when Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy contested in two different terms the election of the President of the republic, he resigned from the post of Speaker and the Dy Speaker discharged the functions of the Speaker.

Since the matter is sub-judice, the moot question is whether the High Court can direct the Lok Sabha to elect the Dy Speaker. The High Court is empowered to issue appropriate direction to do complete justice in a matter before them. In any case, the Speaker Lok Sabha is on record that it is not his job to appoint the Dy Speaker but of the House to choose one. However, the well-established parliamentary practice is that a motion is moved by the parliamentary affairs minister and duly seconded by the treasury benches or by the opposition, which is carried by the House. With the unanimous election of Sardar Hukum Singh of the Akaali Dal as Dy Speaker in 1956, it has become a sound convention that the ruling party, despite its majority, offers the post to the opposition. When the Dy Speaker is elected, he is duly conducted to his seat by the parliamentary affairs minister and the leader of the opposition. There are instances when prime ministers, namely, Deve Gowda, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Dr Man Mohan Singh personally conducted the newly elected Dy Speaker to his seat. Notably, Atal Bihari Vajpayee conducted the Dy Speaker to his seat during the 12th and the 13th Lok Sabha.

Another fascinating aspect is that the post of Deputy Speaker never remained vacant. Even the Britishers, when the central bicameral legislature was set up in 1921 under the GoI Act,1919, the post of Vice President was held by Sachidanand Sinha with Sir Frederick Whyte as the President of the Central Legislative Assembly. The Constituent Assembly, tasked with the responsibility of framing the Constitution, had two Vice Presidents- H.C. Mookherjee and T.T. Krishnamachari. The Provisional Parliament too had a Dy Speaker- Ananthasayanam Ayangar. The Constitution makers therefore rightly made a mandatory provision to have the posts of Speaker and the Dy Speaker filled without any delay, when the new House is constituted and as and when any one of these posts fall vacant. It is the fundamental duty of every citizen and constitutional body to abide by the Consitution and respect its ideals and institutions. The Constitution, more than the citizens, binds the State and, more so, the constitutional bodies, must be exemplar in discharging their constitutional obligation. Minimum government and maximum governance cannot obliterate in its sweep a constitutional provision. If gold rusts, what shall iron do?

The author is ex Addl Secretary, Lok Sabha, and member Delhi Bar Council. Views expressed are personal.

The Deputy Speaker discharges the functions of the Speaker in his absence. He is not subordinate to the Speaker. He holds an independent constitutional post and is answerable to the House and can be removed by the House only. He has the same powers as of the Speaker when presiding over the sitting of the House, and no appeal lies against his rulings given in the House, and cannot be reopened by anyone.

Continue Reading

Opinion

SHEIKH HASINA MUST STOP ANTI HINDU VIOLENCE WITH AN IRON HAND

Joyeeta Basu

Published

on

Bangladesh is burning. Violence is sweeping through the land, with several members of the minority Hindu community being butchered to death by Islamist radicals. Hindu homes, temples, businesses and even villages have been burnt down. News is coming of murder, rape and plunder. There is major conflagration in places like Comilla, Noakhali, Rangpur and Feni. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is categorical that “nobody will be spared. It doesn’t matter which religion they belong to. They will be hunted down and punished.” Forces have been deployed to control the violence. In spite of that, violence continues—for five days now. Eyewitnesses talk about inadequate police presence on the ground, especially in remote areas. The whole pogrom seems to have been pre-planned and timed to coincide with the Bengali Hindu’s biggest festival, Durga Puja. Trouble started from a village in a remote area where Islam’s Holy Book was deliberately placed at the foot of the Durga idol in the middle of the night when no one was present at the puja pandal, and a photo was clicked and spread on social media. Apparently, the next day, a live streaming was done of the Holy Book being “rescued” by the police, leading to the outbreak of the violence. It needs to be found out who placed the Holy Book in the pandal and why the police allowed the streaming to take place, thus inciting the people. The police is also being accused of inaction in many areas. A quick look through the Bangladesh media shows that questions are being raised even about the role played by some politicians in turning a blind eye to the violence, if not abetting it actively. Consensus is building that the anger is anything but spontaneous, and much of it is meant to scare the Hindus out of the country and grab their assets, apart from spoiling India-Bangladesh ties.

It is being alleged that the pro Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami is behind the violence. The Jamaat, which is a radical extremist organisation, was part of the ruling coalition of Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) between 2001 and 2006. When Bangladesh was under Pakistani occupation, the Jamaat formed the Razakar paramilitary force, which worked with Pakistani soldiers to commit genocide. While the Hasina government has been coming down heavily on the Jamaat, including sending Razakars to the gallows, the radical group has always had a major presence on the ground, with their influence extending to at least 10% of the population. This may not be enough to bring them to power, except in coalition with the BNP, but is more than enough for fomenting violence. It was to counter the Jamaat’s hold on the underprivileged that the Hasina government had started courting another Islamist group, the Hefazat-e-Islam (HIM), but it turned out of a similar shade as the Jamaat and started flexing its muscles from as far back 2013, when they came up with a 13-point charter demanding the enactment of a blasphemy law with provision for death penalty. Their opposition to statues led to the removal of a Goddess of Justice statue from the Supreme Court in 2017, and under pressure, the Hasina government even recognised a madrasa degree as equivalent to a postgraduate degree. It is only recently that her Awami League government has started realising its mistakes and has reopened the terror cases against HIM. It was the HIM that was responsible for the protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh earlier this year, and the subsequent violence against the Hindu community. History shows that Bangladesh’s radical clerics can unleash mayhem on the streets and bring life to a standstill whenever they want to. By appeasing groups such as HIM, the Awami League government has been seen to be buying peace with them, thus making Islamist radicals in general think that they can get away with murder.

Sheikh Hasina should not forget the period of 2013 to 2016 when the worst kind of radical Islamist violence took place in her country, with bloggers being hacked to death, and well off youngsters turning terrorists and going on a killing spree at a café in the heart of Dhaka. Whatever be its claims to a syncretic culture, Bangladesh has always had a major problem of Islamist fundamentalism, one of the reasons why its minority population has started dwindling over the decades. Unless this problem is tackled with an iron hand, it will deal a death blow to Bangladesh and its fledgling economic achievements—apart from becoming a major security headache for India. For the sake of Bangladesh and its people, it is imperative on the Hasina government’s part not to come across as soft towards the perpetrators of the heinous crimes against Hindus.

Continue Reading

Opinion

FIGHT RADICALISATION, SAVE INDIA

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s assertion tries to find the middle ground while ignoring differences. The way to fighting radicalisation is to find common ground between the followers of two faiths and emphasise that rather than the differences.

Published

on

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement on fighting radicalisation deserves the full attention of every Indian since it is basic to the survival of India as a secular democracy where people of various denominations co-exist peacefully with an inclusive mindset. Recognising and identifying the problem is crucial to finding a solution to it. If we keep our eyes closed imagining that the storm of irrationality would subside with time, we would do so at our own peril. This would drown us and devour the rich culture and civilisation that India prides itself on.

If there was a Ravan who was blinded by lust, there was a Purushottam Ram to counter him and establish dharma. If there was Duryodhan and Dhritrashtra of the Kauravas blinded by the lure of wealth and pride, there were the Pandavs and Krishn to establish dharma. It is this dharma that forced Chankaya to strengthen the mighty Magadha empire under Chandragupta and intimidate Sikander who was intoxicated by the dream of winning the world.

History has always found a hero who has demolished evil and established dharma and a just society. That is why we Indians celebrate most festivals as a victory of good over evil. But this process was somehow stopped when India was invaded by the Turks and the Mughals. The raiders from the North West frontiers in the 11th century and till the establishment of the Mughal Empire were lured by wealth, something about which Indians did not bother much and thought temples to be repositories of wealth and faith.

But invaders and raiders had other motives too. This was to spread Islam and subjugate the local population. Lakhs of temples containing idols were destroyed and mosques were built over many of them. Hindus were asked to accept Islam or face persecution. Lakhs were killed for not accepting the new faith. Absence of a Chanakya who could unite Indian Rajas under one banner and launch a counterattack was absent. These Rajas were happy demonstrating personal glories in fighting against the invaders or compromising with them in search of safety and security. It was Shivaji and the Marathas who later gave stiff resistance and prevented the Mughals from becoming an all-India phenomenon. 

Persecutions and humiliations of Hindus did not deter them from following their faiths. The Mughals imposed Jazia on the non-Islamic population. Depending on their understanding of the Indian reality, the Mughal rulers were either benevolent or tolerant or despotic. But all of them sought legitimacy of their rule from scriptures and their interpreters and no problems relegating Hindus to the position of second-class citizens.

The British used all their guiles to keep Hindus and Muslims divided. When the two communities came together to fight the common enemy the British, the mighty Empire crumbled. But discrimination and favouritism by the British solidified the compartments and consolidated the Hindu-Muslim divide. Introduction of democracy where there would be Rule by numbers created fear among Muslims who thought they would be outnumbered by Hindus. The British were too keen to divide India into Hindu and Muslim nations and our leaders were too keen to accept.

The partition was an acceptance by our leaders that Hindus and Muslims are two nations and could not live together. Had they tried a little harder, partition could have been avoided. Pakistan that became a hotbed of terrorism in the name of Islam could have been saved from going this way if the monster was killed in the foetus. If Pakistan is the villain today, those who created Pakistan must share the blame for disturbing world peace. Islamic brotherhood and rule by Sharia with sanctions from the Quran have created a new wave of radicalisation of Islamic society. 

Intolerance of adherence to others’ faiths and the feeling of Islamic supremacy has created a wedge as never before. Killing people in the name of religion by terrorists has made Islam the target of hate by other communities. Although apologists of Islam say Islam is a religion of peace, the much talked about peace is elusive even in Islamic countries. Studies say that close to 85% of victims of Islamic radicalisation have been Muslims.

India, which has the second-largest Muslim population in the world, has to find out its own way to fight this radicalism. Aggressive Islam driven by Puritanism is leading to the radicalisation of youths and it is producing a counter-radicalisation of Hindus. For Hindus, it is a matter of survival since it is the land of their origin. The issue is whether the culture would vanish like many others in the world before the onslaught from Islam. A disproportionate increase in the Muslim population opens up the issue of demographic change and the theoretical possibility of Rule by the Sharia. This is likely to produce a counter polarisation of Hindus. 

Closing one’s eyes to the impending danger would not lead to the resolution of the crisis. The bull must be taken by the horn. If one does not agree, just visit the clubhouse or any other forum of discussion on social media. The favourite topic is Hindu Rashtra or Islamic radicalisation. So many of our youngsters are engaged in the discussion and they are not ready to take things lying down. They challenge the verses of the Quran that promote enmity between believers and non-believers. All India Shia Board member Wasim Rizvi has opened Pandora’s Box by questioning some of the verses of the Quran and people are discussing it threadbare. Why should hate verse be not analysed and removed, is the common argument.

Quran is infallible and it cannot be changed since these are words of God. But people ask how can God be contradicting Himself in the verses. God should be clear and consistent in what He is saying. Asking followers of Islam to question the faith is blasphemy. Hindus are supposed to be seekers and salvation is individual and can be achieved through various means including knowledge, bhakti, meditation and work. So, there are many Hindus who may question unabashed adherence to a faith. Can there be an open discussion on hate verses of religious texts?

Mohan Bhagwat’s assertion tries to find the middle ground while ignoring differences. The way to fighting radicalisation is to find common ground between the followers of two faiths and emphasise that rather than differences. And one way is to assert the Indianness of their identity at a time when a proliferation of communication is trying to create global Islam. Both Hindus and Muslims belong to the same ancestors and the same motherland. Hence their interest can’t be different.

It is not once but many times in the past the RSS chief has spoken about the DNA of both communities being the same. This means there should be no hatred based on religion. Two people can have different faiths and can live with unity and brotherhood. Nobody can be differentiated based on their ways of worship, he said during a book launch a few days back. His reference to extolling historical figures such as Akbar and Dara Shikoh and not Aurangzeb is born out of this understanding that while the former represents the Indian culture of peaceful co-existence, the latter represents the culture of the Turks and the Mongols who would use the sword to spread the faith.

Those Islamic leaders who did not believe in hate or Islamic supremacy and sacrificed their lives for the motherland need to be idolised. India has many such heroes who need to be extolled to make Muslim youths aware of them. This would also help Hindu youths to appreciate that all Muslims should not be put in one basket. Freedom fighter Ashfaqullah Khan of the Kakori fame had dreamt of a free India where the poor would live happily and fully satisfied. Every Indian irrespective of the faiths respect Dr APJ Abdul Kalam because of his contributions to strengthen the country.

But while mere stress on oneness and common grounds would be good optics, the Government would need to identify the ideology of radicalism and take steps to tackle them. It is time to have a common syllabus for imparting education irrespective of the institutions. Indians must have a common value system that stresses on dharma and righteousness. Radicalisation, as well as de-radicalisation, is a slow process and we must have the patience to make rationality win over hot-headedness. 

And there should be no premium on hatred and terror. The arm of the law should be long and strong enough to punish the guilty irrespective of his faith or power in society. The NIA is doing a great job in nabbing terrorist modules and preventing terrorist activities that can polarise society. Society needs to be more vigilant and the State ruthless in suppressing violence of any kind.

The writer is the author of ‘Narendra Modi: the GameChanger’. A former journalist, he is a member of BJP’s media relations department and represents the party as spokesperson while participating in television debates.

India, which has the second-largest Muslim population in the world, has to find out its own way to fight this radicalism. Aggressive Islam driven by Puritanism is leading to the radicalisation of youths and it is producing a counter-radicalisation of Hindus. For Hindus, it is a matter of survival since it is the land of their origin. The issue is whether the culture would vanish like many others in the world before the onslaught from Islam. A disproportionate increase in the Muslim population opens up the issue of demographic change and the theoretical possibility of Rule by the Sharia. This is likely to produce a counter polarisation of Hindus.

Continue Reading

Trending