Narain Kataria, the way I knew him
By Gaurang Vaishnav
Vice President, Global Indians for Bharat Vikas (GIBV)
As I sit to write a few words about Sri Narain Kataria, who passed away on November 3rd, memories rush in like a torrent of floods. 40 years is a long time to be friends with someone, who also is a mentor. It is hard to write in the past tense for a giant Hindu leader who was with us till yesterday. I came to know Katariaji, as we affectionately called him in 1975-1977 when some of us NRIs were fighting Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s emergency rule. That intense struggle of 18 months brought us quite close. Later on Katariaji joined Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) as a member of its Governing Council. He also became a Life Member of VHPA.
Working with him, I realized that here was a man who was totally fearless, unwavering in his commitment to protecting Hindus and not caring to be politically correct. Katariaji had amazing ability to connect with one and all. He built strong relations with the Jewish leadership, Progressive Christians, Hindus from the Caribbean, Hindus from Afghanistan, Hindus from Bangladesh, Hindus from Pakistan, and the list goes on.
Narain Kataria (extreme left in striped shirt at a planning meeting of the year 2000 UNO Millennium Peace Summit)
Sometimes, some of us would get upset with a person who might not play the game by the rules but Katariaji’s standard response was, “he is also doing something for Hindus, he is our brother.” In that sense, he was an अजातशत्रु (Ajatshatru, a man without enemies.) But that doesn’t mean that he was all goody-goody and naïve. He had no doubts about the danger that the Islamic Jehad, terrorism sponsored by it and Christian conversion paused to the very existence of the Hindus and Bharat, i.e., India. He minced no words to articulate his views on every forum. He spoke at rallies and demonstrations, he gave dozens of interviews on TV and he wrote his views in incessant emails that reached 100,000+ readers. He fought enemies of the Hindu society tooth and nail without respite.
There is a phrase, अत्र, तत्र, सर्वत्र (Atra, Tatra, Sarvatra, i.e., Here, there and everywhere) that aptly described Katariaji. If it was a cause of Hindus, he was there; if it was a program or event that would further Hindu cause, he would be there. He would not mind driving from Queens, New York to the farthest end of New Jersey, Washington DC or Boston if he felt that he should be there to provide moral support. Katariaji was accompanied most of the time by three persons- Arish Sahani, Nand Ramsinghani, and Subhash Arora. It was as if they were peas of a pod. At times, one or two of this quartet might be missing, but not Katariaji. He was a person of limited means, but he never shirked from giving. 100 dollars here, 500 dollars there, 1000 dollars somewhere else; there was no end to it. Only a few days back I was talking with him and the subject veered to finances. I asked him how he did it because I knew that only recently he had given assistance to a couple of Hindu activists from Bharat and Bangladesh. He said that it was getting difficult, but his children were well placed and didn’t need his money. His social security took care of his basic needs and his investment income went to support Hindu causes. He ended it saying, अरे भाई देना पड़ता है, कैसे चलेगा ? (Are Bhai, Dena padata hai, kaise chalega?, i.e., Brother, we have to give, how would I not, when someone asks?)
Katariaji was a master organizer, yet he was not a man of an organization. He told me, अरे भाई, मैं काम कर लेता हूँ , पर मुझे और झंझट पसंद नहीं । (Are Bhai, main kaam kar leta hun, par muze aur zanzat pasand nahi.” i.e., I accomplish all the work but I cannot stand all the rules and constraints of an organization.) Thus he had excellent relations with some of the premier organizations, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), Global Indians for Bharat Vikas (GIBV), Paramshakti Peeth (of Sadhwi Ritambharaji), Ekal Vidyalaya, etc., but he was not bound by any of them.
In mid 90’s Katariaji founded Indian Americans Intellectual Forum (IAIF) to bring thinkers and writers on one platform and facilitate dissemination of ideas to protect and strengthen the Hindu society. He started with the celebration of the Hindus as an annual Hindu Sangathan Divas in 1996, which morphed into Hindu Unity Day. I am a witness of 20 years journey of Hindu Unity Day. I might have missed only one or two programs in the two decades. It started as a very much disorganized function. There would be so many cultural items and then speeches that the program would drag on and on. It was as if there was a start time but no end time! The program used to be in a squalid, old school building. Over a period of time the program became very professional, drawing best minds to articulate Hindu issues; it became completely disciplined and moved to the modern facility of the auditorium at New York’s famous Ganesh Mandir. Katariaji’s intense efforts resulted in having the 700 seat capacity auditorium being “houseful” year after year. It became a much sought after and “in demand” program. At the Hindu Unity Day, people were treated to thought-provoking talks by luminaries like Dr. Subramanian Swamy (a regular speaker over the years), Sadhwi Ritambhara, Rajiv Malhotra, Suresh Chavahnke (Owner of Sudarshan TV) and dozens of others. Hindu Unity Day also became a venue for networking of several Hindu organizations.
Narain Kataria at Hindu Unity Day, 2015 (at microphone)
Katariaji excelled in the art of demonstration and rallies. I stood with him at countless demonstrations in front of the Bharatiya or Pakistani Consulate offices. Sometimes we would have 100 participants and sometimes only 10. But it didn’t matter to him. He was just focused on giving publicity to an issue at hand. At times, it was a march. It was mindboggling to see Katariaji whipping up a frenzy with a bullhorn. He never tired of slogan shouting. Katariaji was in such a robust health that at that time I didn’t know his age and assumed him to be my contemporary. It was much later that I found out that when we were protesting against 26/11 massacre in Mumbai on a cold November day in 2008, he was already 78! That was a demonstration where a big contingent of Jewish people joined us, again, thanks to Katariaji’s efforts and connections.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited New York in 2014 September, Katariaji was assigned the task to bring busloads of people to the Time square where the organizers were planning to have live coverage of Modiji’s speech inside the Madison Square Garden for the overflow crowds. About two weeks before the event, Katariaji’s wife who had some ailments suddenly passed away. He didn’t inform any of us. Only a few very close people knew about it and we came to know about it only a few days after the fact. When we asked him, he said that this was bound to happen and he kept doing assiduously the task of bus management for Modiji’s program.
Katariaji had one distinct achievement. In 2007, he was sued by Overseas Congress on behalf of Sonia Gandhi for “defaming” her in a New York Times full-page advertisement. He was one of the four persons, thus sued. The advertisement costing upward of $30,000 was placed on behalf of all the NRI activists of USA to expose misdeeds of Sonia Gandhi just when she was going to address UNO on non-violence Day. The multimillion dollar suit was designed to break activists like Katariaji. The case was dismissed by the court since Sonia Gandhi and not Overseas Congress was the aggrieved party. A second case was filed then in a New Jersey court which met the same fate. This was a huge victory for NRIs who had been fighting Sonia Gandhi’s regime in Bharat by proxy. It cost upward of $50,000 in legal fees, but such was Katariaji’s standing in the society that all us activists came together to take care of the legal fees.
Narain Kataria at Sonia Gandhi protest- in black jacket with megaphone
Narain Kataria at Global Dharma Conference, September 12, 2015 (extreme right)
Last I worked together with Katariaji in September of this year. We were asked at a very short notice by the organizers to get banners and placards prepared and get volunteers to greet Modiji when he was to arrive at his New York hotel. Katariaji asked me to raise the funds and he took care of getting the banners and placards made. We stood together on September 23rd to greet Modiji and on 25th in front of the United Nations Building. Katariaji played a very important role to diffuse the threatened anti-Modi demonstration by some misguided Patidars from Gujarat. Though Katariaji was a known and respected figure, he never hankered for publicity or being on the stage.
There is only one regret. The organizers for Modiji’s program in New York both in 2014 and 2015 took advantage of Katariaji’s sincerity and nobility. While many a questionable characters were invited to a dinner with Modiji in 2014, Katariaji, who had worked very hard despite losing his wife during this time, was ignored and not invited. In 2015, he was asked to do all the running around, but when it came to having an audience with Modiji, he was not invited; of course many former Congress supporters and people who had not done anything for Modiji were given an opportunity to meet Modiji. I had brought up this subject with Katariaji and for the first time, I saw that he was pained. Not that he expected anything, but it was painful to him that many less deserving people were getting to meet Modi and him, who at the advanced age of 85 was standing with placards in the cold was overlooked. He asked me to take it up with powers that be so that in future sincere workers wouldn’t be taken advantage of by so-called “leaders.” I am writing this because society should know what kind of leaders it has, that surround Modiji when he comes to the USA. With all that, Katariaji told me, we have to keep working; we are not working for Modiji or BJP. We are working for the Hindus and for Bharat.
Very few people would know that Katariaji was fond of music and played the banjo very well. As a matter of fact, he gave me an audio cassette of his recording long time back.
It will be very hard to replace or replicate Katariaji, one of the tallest Hindu leaders in the USA. We will miss his can-do attitude, unbridled enthusiasm, and boundless energy. We will miss his sharp pen, accurate sense of the history and resounding voice. New York and the tri-state area will never be the same again.
Last I talked with Katariaji was on October 21st, I asked the usual question: “How are you, how is your health?” And his stock answer as always was: “Vaishnavji, I am not going any place. I think I will be OK for another 20 years, there is so much to do.”
Dear Katariaji, yes, there is so much to do and we will take up from where you left off. I will say goodbye to you with your special greeting, “Jay Ho!”
Saturday, November 7, 2015,
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Park Funeral Chapels
2175 Jericho Turnpike
Garden City Park, NY 11040
Tel.: (516) 747-4300
Lok Sabha speaker, Sumitra Mahajan suspended 25 Congress MPs for five sessions for unruly behavior on August 3, 2015. Congress President, Sonia Gandhi called it a “Black Day.”
No Sonia Ji, Black Day was:
- When Congress party decided to support Khilafat movement in 1920
- When Congress party remained silent when thousands of Hindus were massacred, converted, their women raped and thrown in wells with children by Moplah Muslims of Malabar in 1921, thanks to Gandhiji *
- When Gandhiji tried half heartedly with viceroy Irwin for commutation of Bhagat singh’s sentence who was sentenced to death 1931
- When Congress decided to consider only first two stanzas of Vande Mataram as the national Song to appease Muslims who opposed stanzas comparing Bharatmata with Goddess Durga 1937
- When Gandhiji tried to have Subhas Chandra Bose defeated in election for Congress President (and failed) 1938
- When Gandhiji forced out Subhas Chandra Bose from Indian national Congress 1939
- When Gandhiji offered Mohmmad Ali Jinha Prime Ministership of Free Bharat with a fee hand to choose his cabinet (i.e., Muslims) 1946
- When Congress decided not to make Vande Mataram the national anthem 1947
- When Nehru tried to prevent Sardar Patel from leading the project to rebuild Somanath Mandir, as he considered it a communal act 1947
- When Congress allowed partition in 1948
- When Gandhiji foisted Jawaharlal Nehru as the Prime Minster, even though out of 14 votes in AICC, Sardar Patel had 12 votes and Nehru one. 1948
- When Nehru stopped Sardar Patel from completing operation to free occupied Kashmir from Pakistan’s attack and took the case to UNO 1948
- When your party agreed to include article 370 to give special status to Jammu & Kashmir
- When Nehru didn’t want the President, Rajendra Prasad to inaugurate restored Somanath Mandir 1951
- When Nehru made a statement in Pakistan that “not a blade of grass grows there” in a debate about Bharatiya territory occupied by China 1962
- When Nehru lost the war to China 1962
- When Nehru asked President Radhakrishnan not to attend funeral of ex President Rajendra Prasad because he was miffed with independence of Rajendrababu and his clear stand on Hindu issues 1963
- When Congress government signed Tashkent agreement and gave away the conquered region in Pakistan occupied national boundary of India and the 1949 ceasefire line in Kashmir. January 1966
- When Indira Gandhi nationalized all banks 1967
- When Indira Gandhi signed Simla agreement accepting LOC as de facto International border July 1972
- When Indira Gandhi declared Emergency and imprisoned more than 100,000 people including political leaders of all opposition parties (June 26, 1975)
- When Sanjay Gandhi forcibly sterilized several thousand villagers and slum dwellers 1976
- When Sanjay Gandhi bulldozed slums around Turkman Gate in Delhi leaving those people out in open without any means of survival 1976
- When Indira Gandhi inserted the words “Socialist Republic” and “Secular” in preamble of the constitution of Bharat 1975-1976
- When Congress packed all education and research institutes with leftist and communist people and distorted history
- When Congress decided to name every entity, be it an airport or a park, a dam or a building, a government scheme or a road, to name after one of Nehru Gandhi family members
- When Congress government awarded Bharat Ratna to biggest fraud, converting thousands of Hindus to Christianity, “Mother” Teresa 1980
- When you became a director of Maruti Cars and an Insurance company while not being a citizen of Bharat in contravention of law
- When your name appeared in voters list of New Delhi even when you were not a citizen of Bharat (1980-1982)
- When Rajiv Gandhi was appointed Prime Minister in haste, superseding experienced home minister, Pranab Mukherjee 1984
- When Congress goons mercilessly murdered thousands of Sikhs after Indira Gandhi was assassinated 1984
- When Rajiv Gandhi said about massacre of Sikhs When a mighty tree falls, the whole ground shakes 1984
- When Rajiv Gandhi’ government nulled Supreme Court’s judgement in Shah Bano’s alimony case by amending the constitution to appease Mullahs 1986
- When Mulayam Singh’s government fired on Karsevaks in Ayodhya and killed several dozens of them 1989
- When your favorite sons, the Muslims of Kashmir killed thousands of Hindus, dishonored Hindu women, and forced close to 400,000 Hindus out of Kashmir
- When you made a request to not hang your husband’s killers
- When Muslims, pampered by your party since 1920, burned to death 59 innocent passengers of Sabarmati Express at Godhra station in Gujarat 2002
- When you called a sitting Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, “Maut Ka Sodagar” 2007
- When your government awarded Padma Shri to Teesta Setalvad, who should have been in jail longtime ago
- When your party went to bat for a known terrorist, Shahbuddin
- When your party defended terrorist, Isharat Jahan
- When your party coined the word “Hindu Terrorism”
- When Rahul Gandhi said that Hindu terrorism was more worrisome than the Jehadi one
- When you thrust a puppet Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh on the nation and ruled from behind for 10 years
- When you formed National advisory Council (NAC) to supersede powers of the parliament and packed it with known Hindu baiters and communists
- When you supported Evangelist in their bid to Christianize Bharat
- When MPs of Congress joined other MPs to write a letter to President of USA, not to grant a visa to Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi
- When Your government turned a blind eye to all the mega scams- Commonwealth games, Coalgate, Telecom Scam, etc.
- When your party man, Mani Shankar Iyer called a sitting Chief Minister and Prime ministerial candidate of a major political party, Narendra Modi, a Chaiwala 2013
- When you didn’t have decency to congratulate Narendra Modi and BJP for their clear victory in 2014 election
- When you and your family ran out of the country to avoid attending International Yoga Day
- When your MPs, under your leadership held up working of Lok Sabha for nine consecutive sessions and refused to debate the points you had raised July 2015
- When office bearers of Congress party glorified an executed terrorist, Yakub Memon July 2015
So, Edvige Antonia Albina Màino, aka Sonia Gandhi, the root cause of all Black Days of Bharat is your Congress party, going back to as far as 1920! If anything, suspension of 25 of your chamchas, is a Golden day in history of Bharat.
“That the conference views with indignation and sorrow the attempts made at various quarters by interested parties to ignore or minimise the crimes committed by the rebels such as: brutally dishonouring women, flaying people alive, wholesale slaughter of men, women and children, burning alive entire families, forcibly converting people in thousands and slaying those who refused to get converted, throwing half dead people into wells and leaving the victims to struggle for escape till finally released from their suffering by death, burning a great many and looting practically all Hindu and Christian houses in the disturbed areas in which even Moplah women and children took part and robbed women of even the garments on their bodies, in short reducing the whole non-Muslim population to abject destitution, cruelly insulting the religious sentiments of the Hindus by desecrating and destroying numerous temples in the disturbed areas, killing cows within the temple precincts putting their entrails on the holy image and hanging skulls on the walls and the roofs.”
EDITS | Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | 2:03:11 AM
A Surya Prakash
The Congress’s fascist reaction to the anti-corruption movement shows the party still remains unchanged. Its misdeeds remind us of the 1975-77 Emergency.
The Congress-led UPA Government is sadly mistaken if it thinks that its ruthless Gaddafi-style midnight operation to evict Baba Ramdev and his supporters from Ramlila Maidan in the early hours of June 5 will crush the movement against corruption in the country. The Government’s action, which is reminiscent of the response of Mrs Indira Gandhi to charges of corruption in the mid-1970s, only goes to show that nothing much has changed within the Congress. It continues to function like a family-owned private limited company whose promoters have fascist tendencies and remain extremely vulnerable to charges of corruption.
Apart from ending the mass satyagraha at the venue in Delhi, the Congress has launched a vituperative attack on Baba Ramdev, calling him a “thug” and a “fraud” and raising questions about the funding of his organisation. There is nothing new in this. These very tactics were deployed against Anna Hazare and his team members in April. An identical operation is now on to paint Baba Ramdev in ugly colours.
The Government is rattled by Baba Ramdev’s movement because it strikes at the root of the problem — money stashed away in Swiss banks by politicians and businessmen. The Anna Hazare movement got confined to the limited issue of establishing a national ombudsman (Lok Pal) to deal with corruption at the highest level. But, the creation of such an institution is just one of the many initiatives that need to be taken. Since corruption is a hydra-headed monster that has affected all aspects of politics, governance and life, what is needed is a comprehensive anti-corruption agenda that seeks to tackle the problem at the root and throw up permanent remedies.
For example, money power has vitiated the entire electoral process since the beginning and the humongous amounts spent by candidates in State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections has made a mockery of the spending limits imposed by the Election Commission. Over the last two decades, the permissible spending in a Lok Sabha constituency in a large State has more than trebled.
Just three monmths ago, the Conduct of Election Rules were amended yet again to enhance the maximum election expenditure in Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies to Rs 40 lakh and Rs 16 lakh respectively. However, those who track election-spending are aware that even this revised limit will be observed more in the breach than than in the observance because in recent years the average spending by serious candidates in Lok Sabha constituencies is between Rs 3 crore and Rs 5 crore.
All of this is black money — some generated within the country and the rest brought back fromSwitzerlandand tax havens likeLiechtenstein. Therefore, any anti-corruption initiative must first deal with the issue of black money vitiating the electoral process and making a mockery of the democratic system. We need to accord high priority to this problem.
The second most important source of corruption is Government contracts. It is long established that those who run the Government and the ruling party get kickbacks on every deal. In the early decades after independence when the licence-permit-quota raj held sway, bribes and commissions were paid in Indian rupees. Later, after Mrs Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980, the Congress chose a new route for political funding — kickbacks from international deals which are paid into secret accounts in Switzerland and other tax havens.
Those who have worked in Government at senior levels — for instance, Mr BG Deshmukh who was Cabinet Secretary during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as Prime Minister — have noted that since the 1980s, the Congress has found it more convenient to take commissions from foreign companies in international deals rather than pass the hat around among Indian businessmen and industrialists to collect party funds. This way, huge sums can be collected to fund the party without any obligation to industrial houses within the country. It was presumed that there would be no whiff of corruption if discreet payments were made to Swiss bank accounts.
This grand plan, however, went for a toss when the Swedish Audit Bureau reported that arms manufacturer AB Bofors had paid ‘commission’ to certain individuals in connection with the sale of field guns to India in 1986. Despite that embarrassment, there is no indication of any change in the attitude of the Congress towards collecting funds. This is also the reason why the party is dragging its feet on the black money issue.
When the pressure from the Supreme Court became unbearable, the Government cleverly announced the setting up of a “high-powered committee” to keep the court at bay. This committee is supposed to examine the problem and outline a plan of action to bring back the loot. The Government offered a similar bait to Baba Ramdev the other day, offering to set up “a committee” to draft a law to bring back black money.
After making this offer, the Government claimed that it had met “all the demands” of Baba Ramdev and wanted him to end his satyagraha. When he failed to oblige, the Government responded with police brutality. The use of brute force to end a peaceful agitation is reminiscent of the Emergency days. This was exactly how Mrs Indira Gandhi responded to Jayaprakash Narayan’s campaign against corruption 36 years ago.
In fact, the parallels between 1974-75 and 2010-11 are striking. Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement began with the campaign against corruption in Gujarat and with the demand that then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi probe the allegations against LN Mishra, a senior Minister in her Cabinet. Mrs Indira Gandhi did none of this. Instead, she used brute force to crush the movement.
Mr Manmohan Singh, too, has resorted to an Emergency-style operation to crush the satyagraha at Ramlila Maidan. Also, in typical Mrs Indira Gandhi fashion, he has defended the midnight police raid and said the Government had no option but to resort to such action. There are other eerie coincidences. It should be remembered that Mrs Indira Gandhi imposed her dreaded Emergency in 1975 after a massive Opposition rally which, incidentally, was held at Ramlila Maidan and in June.
This only shows that more things change, the more the Congress remains the same. The party continues to be extremely vulnerable when corruption is discussed and the party’s fascist tendencies come to the fore whenever its Government is cornered on this issue. That is why all those who believe in democracy need to be on high alert after Mr Singh’s Ramlila Maidan operation. Needless to say, eternal vigilance is the price of democracy.
G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, LensOnNews
In the life cycle of elected governments, a time comes when the public support decisively swings from one of enjoying inherent trust to one in which people have lost implicit trust. In case of some governments, this happens very rapidly and in some others, it takes a very long time as was the case with the Left Front in West Bengal which had an uninterrupted reign of 34 years.
Usually, a major decision or action precipitates this dramatic shift of public perceptions about an elected government. In Left ruled West Bengal, the agitation in Singur provided the stimulus. In the case of the UPA government, the midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s supporters – after meekly acquiescing to him and rolling out the red carpet at Delhi airport – has provided that spark.
I have been keeping tabs on public opinion for several months now and the extensive ground level feedback that we have gathered shows that the midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s fast was the turning point and turned the supporting masses against the Congress led government at the Centre. Admittedly, it has taken many years in office and many scams in its wake to pierce the credibility of the Congress led government at the Centre. And, once the credibility of a regime is eroded, it is impossible to regain it. Rajiv Gandhi government never recovered from the Bofors scandal that broke out just two years after he won a landslide victory in 1984 and faced a humiliating defeat in 1989. Similarly, P.V. Narasimha Rao’s government never recovered from a series of scandals – securities scam, JMM scandal, Sukhram’s telecom scam, Urea scam, etc. –that led to its devastating poll defeat in 1996.
It is instructive to study how the governments in the past tried to recover ground when they were confronted with extremely adverse situations. Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975 following Allahabad High Court’s verdict declaring her election to Lok Sabha as void; Rajiv Gandhi’s associates forged documents purporting to show that his principal challenger V.P. Singh had a secret bank account in a foreign bank in St. Kitts; V.P. Singh himself unleashed the anti-quota stir by implementing the Mandal Commission recommendations in 1990; P.V. Narasimha Rao raked up years old Hawala scandal to fix political rivals in 1995 etc.
Circa 2011, the Congress party facing an unprecedented crisis over corruption charges can be expected to do all that the past governments have done and much more to survive politically. But the UPA presently has a serious problem at hand.
First, it faces a multitude of scams and myriad issues like black money, corruption, price rise etc. With every passing week, new scams are coming out of the closet. Undoubtedly, 2G is one scam that has damaged the UPA government the most. The scale of the loot and its brazen manner has had a devastating impact on the public. Curiously, the 2G scam which has claimed many top leaders of the DMK hasn’t yet reached the Congress’s doorstep. The manner in which the Congress party stymied the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) probe led by the BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi and the tardy functioning of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probing the 2G scam have aroused suspicions about the Congress party’s motives and involvement.
Second, unlike in the past when governments faced one major scam and a clearly identified political rival, the Congress party is faced with a barrage of attacks from an active judiciary, a demanding civil society led by popular Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, a rejuvenated opposition, vigilant media and statutory institutions like the CAG. Despite the Sonia Gandhi led Congress party’s best attempts to emasculate high offices of the Prime Minister, President by appointing pliable individuals to these venerable institutions, the Congress party has not been able to avoid public scrutiny as other institutions of the government have turned their heat on the government.
True to its habit, the Congress party will attempt some drastic actions to regain its lost credibility. It will unleash vendetta against opposition leaders and attempt to show that all those arraigned against the Congress are corrupt. It will create and exploit every opportunity to rake up non-issues to divert public attention.
It may even resort to dividing the electorate on caste, communal or some other lines to minimize the electoral damage. This may actually backfire on the Congress party that traditionally has had a wide appeal across various caste and other groups. Yet, a desperate Congress party may make some cynical moves to get out of the corruption rut. Attempts to link activists like Anna Hazare with the RSS are a part of this cynical strategy.
Take my word: nothing will help restore the present government’s credibility. Let me explain this from my experience as a poll analyst for two decades. When a government enjoys public trust, all its actions are generally seen from a positive perspective. And, when a government is seen to be inherently untrustworthy, all its actions become suspect. All actions of the Manmohan Singh government will henceforth be viewed from a negative perspective due to the credibility crisis that envelopes it.
The Manmohan Singh government, despite enjoying a parliamentary majority is a lame duck government. Whether it lasts the full term or dies a premature death will depend on its political survival strategies. For sure, in the public mind, it has already lost its mandate. Its defeat at polls, whenever they are held, is an inevitability that stares it in its face.
GVL Narasimha Rao is a noted poll analyst
This article from the Pioneer is one of the best articles that I have seen; it is precise, objective and thought provoking. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Gaurang G. Vaishnav
AGENDA | Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Email | Print | | Back
June 13, 2011 11:21:30 AM
The vengeance with which the UPA has gone after Baba Ramdev shows its Emergency-like streak. However, it must understand that Ramdev and Anna Hazare are legitimate representatives of a society disgusted with corruption in high places. The authorities can suppress their voices, but the vacuum it will create will be filled by more violent and assertive forces, warns Utpal Kumar
Indiais on the brink of a ‘revolution’. In fact, two revolutions. One unleashed by an ‘austere’ man in a white cap not many would prefer to wear today. And, the other by a saffron-clad yoga guru, who doesn’t believe sannyasis can’t indulge in politics. One is a Gandhian who can sit cross-legged for hours, and is the darling of the metropolitan literati and chatterati. The other teaches indigenous ways to keep oneself healthy and has an unassailable hold over the masses of what is romantically called ‘Middle India’. The two complement each other. But that’s not the way the political establishment and the mainstream English media see it.
This disconnect was evident on a train from Bihar toDelhia day after the midnight drama was enacted at Ramlila Maidan. “How can police beat up people, most of them women and children, who have come from faraway places to participate in a satyagraha? They were not at all violent, were they? Imagine their plight in an unknown city in the middle of the night,” said a co-passenger, aDelhiUniversitystudent whose father worked on a farmland inBihar. “This Government can allow a Hurriyat hardliner led by a pro-Maoist writer-cum-activist to script a separatist agenda in the Capital, but it can’t endure a peaceful protest against growing corruption in the country,” he added.
Soon, others joined the debate. One was an Army jawan, another a salesman, and yet another a bank employee — all truly representatives of what Mahatma Gandhi called the realIndia. The number increased, but the sentiment remained more or less the same: That the UPA has acted in a most undemocratic manner to quell the protest; that the Government wouldn’t have dared to come down highhandedly had the protesters been fromDelhi’s upper classes, as was the case with Anna Hazare’s agitation at Jantar Mantar not very long ago.
InDelhi, however, one witnessed an altogether different political discourse, with focus not much on the issue of corruption and the Government’s crackdown on innocent people, but on whether the Baba was at all the right person to hold any such agitation. The central-peripheral divide never looked sharper. The media, too, wasn’t spared: While the English news channels — either cut-off from the realities of sub-urban India or owing to their compulsions to cater to their elite and upper middle class audience for whom the Baba and his followers were just another “funny characters” — toed the Government line, focussing on the alleged misdeeds of Ramdev and his colleagues. It seemed they blindly followed Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s Baba’s-a-thug line. In the process, they forgot to ask a few tough questions: How could the Government suddenly stumble upon so much evidence against the yoga guru? Does it mean that it keeps such evidences as an arm-twisting tool against its opponents for more opportune times? If so, doesn’t it implicate the Government for being hypocritical on the issue of corruption? If the UPA was so sure about the Baba’s ill practices, why did it dispatch four ministers to receive him at theDelhiairport? And, if it was so uneasy about his saffron links, why did it entertain him for hours at a five-star hotel inDelhi?
The Hindi news channels, in contrast, showcased a slightly more realistic picture of how the country was reacting to the Government’s midnight crackdown at Ramlila Maidan. Perhaps, because their TRPs are determined by the masses in small towns and villages!
ANNA VERSUS RAMDEV
Hazare may have inspired a large section of the metropolitan population into expressing concern over the culture of corruption, but the burgeoning small towns and villages remained mostly untouched by the Anna phenomenon. That is where Ramdev’s role comes into play, as any fight against corruption can’t succeed without the support of Middle India.
Ironically, those who welcomed Hazare’s call to clean the system are today circumspect about Ramdev. Not very long ago, it was a field day for celebrities — from Aamir Khan to Kabir Bedi — to show their solidarity with the Gandhian movement at Jantar Mantar. On Ramdev, however, the response has been plain disdainful. Salman Khan quipped, “Why is he going on a hunger strike? Isn’t he a yogi teaching yoga?” As for Shah Rukh Khan, he discovered “an agenda” in the Baba’s agitation!
The literati’s love for Hazare is both understandable and enigmatic. It’s understandable because this class detests everything mass-oriented and accepts anything coming from the media. And, Hazare is largely a media construct. If a magazine report is to be believed, about 15 years ago, when Hazare went on a fast to protest against corruption in the then Maharashtra Government, a group of reporters from the vernacular press virtually became his publicity agents. Facts were twisted, and numbers inflated to provide legitimacy to his movement. A week into the fast, when these fellow reporters told Hazare that they couldn’t sustain the movement any longer, the Gandhian wilfully relented to call it off on a Sunday. Here, again, there was a problem: On the proposed day, local elections were to be held in the State, an event that would obviously hog all the limelight. Hazare right away shifted his programme to Monday!
It’s enigmatic because there’s more about Hazare that should disorient the educated, elite class. Going by the way he runs a village in Maharashtra, he cannot be called ‘democratic’ by any means: He prefers the hands of a thief to be chopped off; he wants anyone found drinking to be tied to a pole and publicly flogged; he believes in rigid implementation of family planning, including forced vasectomies; and, he advocates the corrupt be hanged to death!
Maybe Hazare is acceptable because he doesn’t seem to threaten the status quoist upper middle class dreams. He just wants cosmetic changes at the top — bring the Lok Pal Bill and all’s well! It must be understood that while the upper middle class has the right to be disgusted with corruption, it is also a major beneficiary of the malaise. After all, despite it raising this issue, it is primarily this class that gets the maximum benefits from the bribes MNCs pay to politicians to create a hurdle-free economic milieu. Bribes, in a way, are needed for ‘swift’ economic development in the country where governance isn’t truly efficient. It is a way of buying efficiency, as a bureaucrat working in the Finance Ministry said.
Today’sBiharis the best example of this trend. People in the State complain that with development, bureaucratic corruption has touched new heights. “Pahle jo kaam pachas rupaye mein hota tha, ab 5,000 mein bhi nahin hota (Earlier a work could be done in Rs 50, but today even Rs 5,000 is not enough),” said a schoolteacher in a northeastern district of Bihar. Yet, people seem content as the State has never witnessed such unprecedented flow of money. “Everyone is getting richer here. Lifestyle has improved. So, people doesn’t mind paying bribes to get their work done in the State,” said a Patna-based businessman. Some, including a Patna Women’s College professor, however, believe the Nitish Government should curb this malaise before it actually gets institutionalised.
The upper middle class, therefore, isn’t quite the victim of corruption as it pretends to be. Instead, it is the beneficiary of the system, however corrupt it may be. The real victims are the ones that have been left out or are on the fringes of the emerging economy. The Baba represents this section of Indian society. And, it’s for this reason that his movement needs to be welcomed, and not derided.
What’s further bolstering Ramdev’s case is that unlike other gurus, he is not “foreign-imported”, as one of his ardent followers says. He first strengthened his network in the country, and it was only in 2006 that he made his first trip abroad. No wonder, his worldview is rural-oriented, and he wants technical courses to be taught in the mother language. It’s, therefore, hardly a surprise that his politico-economic ideas became an instant hit among rural Indians, left behind in the race for economic prosperity by the English-speaking elite. What helped him strike a chord was a daily TV show being aired on the Aastha channel since 2005.
BLAME THE GOVERNMENT
Ramdev is as much the product of skewed globalisation as he is of the failure of our political leadership to deliver. After all, today we face the possibility of a political movement led by a yoga guru simply because our political leadership has failed us. Had Suresh Kalmadi been forced to resign when the Commonwealth shames first surfaced, the scandal would have died a natural death! Had A Raja been removed from his office the moment bad press appeared against him, the 2G scandal would have lost much of its sting! Nothing of the sort happened, hence the full-throated demand for a ‘systemic change’. Hence the emergence of a Baba and a Gandhian!
Well into its second term, the UPA seems both rudderless and directionless. So is Manmohan Singh. This was a man who gave his Government “six on 10” in a report card in 2005, one year after he became Prime Minister. People then thought he was being modest. Six years down the line, post several mind-boggling financial irregularities, Singh is neither modest, nor he pretends to be the one; he arbitrarily gives his Government “seven out of 10”. He puts the entire blame on coalition politics. For him, the DMK should be solely blamed for the 2G scam! And, Sharad Pawar’s NCP should be responsible for food inflation!
Such excuses would have worked well during the UPA-I regime when the Congress had 145 seats, but not in 2009, when the party is just 66 seats short of an absolute majority of 272. No ruling party has been so ‘secure’ in the Lok Sabha since 1991. But then the humility of 2005 has given way to the arrogance of 2011. And, it was this arrogance that was seen at Ramlila Maidan early this month.
The vengeance with which the Government is going after the Baba shows its Emergency-like streak. The powers-that-be must understand that Ramdev and Hazare are two sides of the same coin. Inventing cases of corruption against those who are asking tough questions would make people cynical and force them to take recourse to more extreme measures. Look what’s happening inWest Asia! Who would have imagined six months ago that the Arab world would be in such a state of turmoil, as it is now? Hazare and Ramdev are for the good of the Government: They are its safety valve.
COMMENTS BOARD ::
Truth about India’s flaky economy.
By K P Ganesh on 6/12/2011 8:40:42 PM
I wish readers of this article to google for DEBATE ON GATT a wonderful speech given way back in 1994 by Sri. S Gurumurthy on how India’s quest for globalization has resulted in this kind of catastrophic effect, marginalizing the so called middle India who are working thrice as hard to keep India afloat, compared to their urban dwelling brothers and sisters.
By Ramesh on 6/12/2011 3:57:47 PM
UPA is waiting for a West Asia-like situation to happen in this country.
literarti and Hazare
By SM Singh on 6/12/2011 3:32:10 PM
Really loved this line of yours: “The literati’s love for Hazare is both understandable and enigmatic. It’s understandable because this class detests everything mass-oriented and accepts anything coming from the media. And, Hazare is largely a media construct.” Great piece.
By Raj on 6/12/2011 12:14:49 PM
Good that swamiji today ended his fast. However, this has exposed how insensitive the rulers are.
By abhinav kumar on 6/12/2011 10:57:46 AM
A true and an excellent peice of an article!!! well done u have presented the true picture.
THE BABA POLITICS
By Hare Ram on 6/12/2011 9:21:59 AM
Very well written. This is a first positive article ever read on media about Baba. Seems like all other medias joined Congress. I don’t care how much money Baba made but all the issues he raised are legitimate. I don’t think he cheated any one.
More leaders needed
By Rahul on 6/12/2011 8:15:32 AM
Lessons from the freedom movement is (particularly after Gandhiji’s 1915 India arrival), do not allow the rulers to highlight only one or two netas with whom they are comfortable with and undermine other Leaders of the movement. Bapu and hon J Nehru were the two netas overshadowing others during the transfer of power in 1947 and the bloody partition of the Country. A similar pattern of Hazare undermining all other leaders of the anti corruption movement must be prevented from developing.
A Million Revolutions In a Wounded Civilization
By Maheswar inKathmanduon 6/12/2011 7:14:26 AM
V S Naipaul astutely foresaw the million revolutions bubbling, all overIndia, having first viewed it as a wounded civilization. All these revolts and wounds are now surfacing as the voice of the ‘real’India, the vast new middle class that barely earn $2-4 per day, who are vulnerable to the downswings of globalization, its inequities and immoralities. They want modernity with their traditional identities in place; not be caricatures of the West as are the upper middle classes.
The truth few in India Know.
By sadia on 6/12/2011 4:12:22 AM
Indialost its independent status the day an illiterate but KGB trained honey trap appeared in Rajiv’s life. Then she lined up a job for being an interpreter of RAW with Italian secret service. She had already converted Rajiv from Muslim to Roberto to marry her.She brought Italian Mafia in form of Quotrocchi. Rajiv already had started receving money from Soviet government in swiss Bank. When Rajiv threatened to divorce her Quotrocchi met Prabhakaran to sort problem out.
The BABA politics
By panchali on 6/12/2011 12:59:36 AM
Very well commented. I totally agree with you that the UPA’s mistreatment of Baba Ramdev is going to backfire on the Government big time. I also liked you Anna versus Baba comparision. But the best was the safety valve theory.
Thank God for this article
By Soumya Dutta on 6/12/2011 12:45:25 AM
I was losing belief completely and truly in the Indian print media when the involuntary death of MF Hussain was being given greater preference to the well meaning and fully voluntary fast undertaken by Ramdev. It is a shame that the media derides the yoga guru who has today undertaken a fast to cleanse the system of its 60 years-old evil by petty journalism. Having said and that and then having read this article, I firmly believe not everything has been lost.
Revolution – Final Goal of Baba’s Fast and How can that be achieved:
By Nimesh Dikshit
Recent news is Sri Sri is in Hardwar, asking Baba and his followers to break the fast. I also heard that he even announced from England that Baba should not do fasting. Well I do agree with Sri Sri in that too – that only Baba’s fast is not going to change the heart or break the knees of Congress Party. Instead Congress Party will help purchase ticket to heaven for Baba at tax payer’s money. Now its too late in the game to retreat. The War has been declared and Hindus will have to fight it to save Mother India. The Swayamsevaks of Mother India must retaliate peacefully against the state power unleashed by an Italian Congress and Sonia Sevaks.
But now the war has been declared. Baba went on peaceful fast and police brutality that followed, was a clear Jihad started by Italian Congress Party. Now they are not going to go back foot. Their only agenda will be to destroy Baba completely, by hook or by crook. The person who has such a big empire – its very easy for IT guys to find problems. Each problem will be magnified by the Media which is on the payroll of congress party. That is their job – and they will do it well. The fact that they could change the mind of a Yogi like Sri Sri Ravishankar is good enough to understand the power of Media. Any retreat at this point is a death of any future agitation against this government and that can not be allowed. Its too late.
What someone should advice Sri Sri instead ? What should Sri Sri really do? How this movement can be made long lasting movement? Its true that this movement is premature in the sense that next Lok Sabha election is in 2014 and Congress knows very well that people will forget the police brutality on the innocent, peaceful, Hindus who were fasting for the whole day. Congress also knows that neither Baba nor his followers can sustain 3 year long campaign by fasting. So then how can this movement drag on for next 2-3 years and gather force and awaken Hindus? To answer that, I would like to put forward a little observation of the problem of Hindu Society.The reason I use the word Hindu is only Hindus care for Hindustan others have their affiliation somewhere else.
Problem of Hindu Society lies in the multi sect philosophy all of which ultimately concur to Vedic Principles. This is a Strength of Hindu Society but at the same time that divides the society many folds. Coupled with that the greed and possessive nature of Human Being from which these Sadhus and Sants are not liberated. They suffer with the attachment to their capital, both financial and human. They will not like to have joint programs with other Sadhus or allow their followers’ kids to mingle with the children of other Sadhus’ followers. I have personal experience of this weird behavior of Sadhus. Any follower goes to other Sadhu or Teacher is looked upon as a blow to his/her bottom line. Most religio-spritual organizations suffer with this human nature. That’s why Guru ji of Sangh, started an organization called VHP – whose sole work is to unite these separate sects and bring them on one platform. Sangh is a non religo-spiritual organization so it does not have direct competition with them and with its large following of sincere swayamsevaks makes the best organization for facilitating this platform. Despite that non competing nature of VHP, it still has this uphill battle for last 46 years, and has found some success, which is of help only for particular occasions – and then they go their merry way without caring for each other’s organization.
Here I feel Baba’s agitation can unite these separate sects if the heads of these sects remove their possessive nature out of their soul and mind. Sri Sri who I know for sure is not the one who possess this nature, must be made aware of this grand possibility of Hindu Revival by creating unstoppable Chain Reaction. How? Sri Sri who is so well accepted across the society and who has following worldwide – instead of asking Baba to stop the fast, should have joined the fast when Baba is in Hospital. He should have asked Baba and his followers to stop fast and started fast of his own, replacing Baba, on the same platform where Baba was doing the fast Not only that he should have asked his followers worldwide to go on token fasts. All black, white, brown and yellow skinned people would have observed fast worldwide and at 24 hour notice. I know personally, and have visited Sri Sri’s camps many times, to say confidently that just like Baba’s followers thousands of followers of Sri Sri would have joined another week long fast. Baba would have been out of the fast, but Congress would not feel the victory – since other 100,000 plus people would be fasting for the following week. In meantime some other guru, shankaracharyas or teachers would go to Patanjali Vidyapeeth and join the fast and Sri Sri and his Followers would break the fast. These could have created a chain reaction. And followers of all Hindu sects, gurus, swamis, acharyas would have united under one cause to free Mother India from the shackles of the falsehood. This does not have to all happen in onlyHardwar, such fasting should go on in all temples, maths and other spiritual places. While motherIndiais an abode of 1000s of gurus and swamis – only 108 swamis are needed to continue this agitation for two years. Once the mala, whose beads are each of these gurus – who went on a weeklong fast is completed, these gurus should go all out on road and Congress would lose its sleep for the next election. They will not be able to bring back the black money – otherwise Sonia would have no other option but to RUN and Run fast, so that they will have to choose a defeat instead. Or they have to declare the emergency like in seventies – there by creating the ultimate blow to Congress Party and its 60 years old regime. And this will not be a civil agitation without any spirituality as in 1970s but the one guided and lead by spiritual and traditionally Hindu Sanskriti. After two years a modest, honest, visionary leader who does not have any ties that can spoil his image or make him to hesitate from taking the harsh decision should be declared as a next PM candidate from any party of their choice. And all gurus, sadhus and swamis should put their force behind that person. That way all the Hindus will unite. If 25% of the block Hindu vote bank can be created – there is no stopping for a Hindu Party to win the next election. And the goal to bring back black money, making of laws that put the politicians, businessmen and media moghuls behind bars can be achieved by a stroke of a pen.
But alas, we at this point do not have any sadhu who would join Baba in his fight against Corruption. Since they will feel following the leadership of Baba Ramdev. Instead they would want to look wiser then Baba by asking Baba to stop fast, without thinking how can he do that? And that is the Irony of Sadhu Society that there is no neutral group that can accept this as a solution and bring Baba out of his fast without letting Congress celebrate their victory over Baba’s crusade against Corruption. Also another bright side of this is – it will not require Baba to prepare a protective force. But who will take the lead to tell Sri Sri to go on fast and relieve Baba from his Dharana and still feel victorious. So that Mother India can be ushered back into Her Past Glory. That is the Need of the Hour.
June 7, 2011
Vivek Deshpande Posted online: Tue Jun 07 2011, 02:34 hrs
Nagpur : Addressing cadres at the conclusion of the month-long third year Officers’ Training Camp here today, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat said that the RSS didn’t start the current anti-corruption agitation “but it also can’t remain a mute spectator”.
Criticising the government for blaming the RSS whenever “it feels the heat”, Bhagwat questioned the constitutional validity of the National Advisory Council and the Bill it had drafted to ostensibly tackle communal violence.
Said Bhagwat: ‘It’s an unwritten mandate for swayamsevaks to join any such cause that is in the national interest. Whenever the powers-that-be feel the heat, they put all their blame on the RSS.” “When so much is happening in the country, can swayamsevaks remain mute spectators? The swayamsevaks need not be told to join such causes. They do it as a matter of habit,” Bhagwat said. On the Centre’s “barbaric” crackdown on Ramdev’s agitation, Bhagwat said: “It’s the duty of the government to reach out to people like Ramdev and Hazare but it’s behaving with brutality with its own subjects. This is reminiscent of the Emergency and the Jallianwala massacre.”
Questioning the NAC, Bhagwat said: “If Ramdev and Hazare are outsiders, under which clause of the Constitution has the NAC been constituted? Does it not comprise outsiders?”
Referring to the Bill against communal violence drafted by the NAC, Bhagwat said: “It is aimed at keeping the country divided along communal lines and keep various communities engaged in mutual fight. It has been designed to suppress the Hindus.”
“What’s wrong in demanding that black money should be brought back and corruption should be stifled?” Bhagwat asked.
June 6, 2011:
Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad, says an ancient proverb. This is what comes to mind in the context of the Government’s unprovoked resort to Operation No-Holds-Barred in the early hours of June 5 against Baba Ramdev and his followers at the Ramlila maidan.
While creating an impression of responding to the call of the Baba against corruption and black money, the Government had already drawn up a full-fledged Orbat for neutralising the Baba. For the meticulous planning, stealthy preparations and thorough-going execution, even the colonial, Imperial British can learn a lesson or two from Independent, democratic India’s present-day powers-that-be.
Coming to think of it, there are many uncanny similarities between the crushing of the Quit Corruption movement by the Manmohan Singh Government and two other defining moments of modern Indian history: The Quit India movement of 1942 and the infamous Internal Emergency of 1975.
The Quit India gathering at Bombay on the fateful night of August 9 was also peaceful. Mahatma Gandhi had, no doubt, called upon the British to Quit India, warning them of a ‘mass struggle on non violent lines on the widest possible scale’. But, at the same time, he had expressed his intention to first meet the Viceroy to explore a decent way out of the impasse.
As in the case of the Quit Corruption movement of Baba Ramdev, well past midnight a huge contingent of Imperial police force swooped on the Congress leaders and dragged them post-haste to railway trains standing at the ready on the platform and spirited them away to unknown destinations. One white Inspector of Police had the barbarity to bodily pull and shake the 73-year old Gandhiji so as to wake him up, and directed the blinding blaze of a five-cell torch on his face from close quarters.
The Internal Emergency too was similarly sprung on an unsuspecting Jayaprakash Narayan, Acharya Kripalini and other noble heroes who fought the British, putting up with unbearable privations, suffering and sacrifice.
A thousand leaders — outstanding patriots all who had served the country with distinction for far longer periods than Indira Gandhi — were ruthlessly rounded up well past midnight and lodged in jails at places far away from their home States, keeping their kith and kin in the dark about their fate. Even after the names of their prisons were made public, their close relations were made to undergo the mental, physical and financial torture of having to travel long distances at heavy expense to unfamiliar places if they wanted to exercise their right of meeting the detenus at prescribed intervals.
Thus, in all the three revolting cases, the fact that saintly figures (Gandhiji, Jayaprakash Narayan and Baba Ramdev) were leading the movements was of no consequence to the cruel rulers.
In all the three cases, the common ruse employed was to strike well past midnight so that the media did not get wind of the loathsome repression, and the rulers had a respite from public outrage for at least 30 hours.
In all the three cases, the rulers tried to stamp out movements demanding purity in public life and protesting peacefully against monstrous evils (slavery, authoritarian suppression of civil rights, and corruption-cum-black money) which were making a farce of the Constitution and democratic institutions.
In all the three cases, the rulers justified their indefensible excesses by resorting to calumny and vilifications against those speaking for the people.
In the case of Quit India, the British painted it as a ‘deliberate fifth columnist conspiracy’, for strengthening the Axis powers; in the case of Quit Murdering Democracy, Jayaprakash Narain was almost physically eliminated; and a sustained character-assassination of the Baba followed his launch of the Quit Corruption campaign.
What an atrocious irony that those fighting corruption are sought to be traduced and evicted from their legitimate spaces, whereas those who should have been stripped of all their unmerited positions and ill-gotten possessions and thrown into prison for good are indulging in loot and plunder with impunity, right under the noses of the UPA Government!
June 06, 2011 9:54:59 AM
Pioneer news service | New Delhi
The midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s supporters at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, has galvanised the civil society movement against corruption with Gandhian Anna Hazare deciding to boycott the Lokpal Bill joint drafting committee meeting on Monday and undertake fast on June 8 to protest the “inhuman brutality unleashed on the Yoga Guru and his supporters.
The development is a big set back for the Government, which had resorted to a divide and rule strategy in dealing with Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare. Ramdev on Sunday himself disclosed that Kapil Sibal wanted that Anna Hazare should not be present on his dais at Ramlila Maidan or the Government would back down on the black money issue.
Anna Hazare group was also uncomfortable with the presence of Sadhvi Ritambara at Ramlila Maidan on Saturday. Hazare had said he would decide on joining Ramdev’s agitation after coming to Delhi. But shocked by the Government brutality, Hazare camp has decided to rally around Baba.
“We condemn this action. This is a blot on humanity… This is like throttling democracy,” Hazare said.
Asking the Prime Minister to explain the reasons which provoked his Government to issue orders for this police action, Hazare said, “Sunday morning’s brutal assault of the Government reminds one of 1975 Emergency. It is almost an emergency like situation. Today is June 5, the Sampoorn Kranti Diwas. People of this country rose against Government injustice 35 years back. Time has come for the people to similarly rise against corruption.”
Eminent lawyer and member of the Lokpal Bill draft committee Shanti Bhushan said that Sunday morning’s incident, clearly showed the Government’s intent on crushing corruption. “Hence, we have decided not to attend the joint meeting on Lokpal Bill on Monday,” he said.
Comparing the Government’s action to that of Emergency in 1975, Bhushan said it shows to what extent the Government can go to protect black money offenders.
Accusing the Government of not being serious about dealing with corruption, Hazare announced a day-long fast at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on June 8. “Wherever you may be, you may stage a fast. And pray to God to give wisdom to this Government”, Hazare said.
Hazare’s hardening stand will add to the Government’s woes. Hazare had led an immensely successful five-day fast against corruption at the same venue in April, forcing the Government to finally accede to the demand of inclusion of civil society representatives in framing of a Jan Lokpal Bill.
Accusing the Government of being insincere in dealing with corruption, Hazare said the civil society would defy prohibitory orders on Wednesday at Jantar Mantar to protest the police action against Baba Ramdev’s movement.
“We have been interacting with this Government in the Joint Committee for the last one and a half months. The police action on peaceful protestors and the proceedings of earlier meetings clearly make government’s intentions in dealing with corruption suspect.
“The Government has been trying to crush anti-corruption movement. We have therefore decided not to attend Joint Committee meetings,” he told a press conference.
Hazare said his side was writing a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is the chairman of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, asking the government to make its stand public on some of the key issues related to the anti-corruption legislation.
“We have already made our stand clear on these issues. After we receive government’s response, we will decide whether any useful public purpose would be served in attending joint committee meetings,” he said.
On Ramdev, the Gandhian said he has to “sort out” the issues with the yoga guru before sharing the same platform. However, he was quick to add that he supported the issue of black money raised by Ramdev.
Another activist and Anna Hazare camp follower, Arvind Kejriwal said the action showed that this government was drunk with power and the whole country would raise their voices.
He said they would like the Prime Minister to explain what was the provocation for such a brutal action.