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Back to dark days of 1970s

The Pioneer

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.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/345653/Back-to-dark-days-of-1970s.html

Sign the Petition: Open letter to Pres., India- Police Brutality at Ramlila Grounds

Date: Sat, Jun 11, 2011 at 5:25 PM
Subject: [BSTUSA} Open Letter to the President of India – Sign Up Campaign against Delhi Police’s brutalities on hundreds of thousands peaceful Satyagrathies on June 4th Night at Ram Lila Ground

Dear All,


OM!

Please click the link below for Sign Up Campaign against Delhi Police’s brutalities on hundreds of thousands peaceful Satyagrathies on June 4th Night at Ram Lila Ground and please forward it to as many people as possible.

Letter To President Of India

Smt. Pratibha Patil
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi,
India.

Honorable Smt. Pratibha Patil:

This is to express our vehement condemnation of the merciless use of force on more than a hundred thousand Indian citizens including women and children who were unarmed, sleeping, fasting and exercising only their constitutional democratic rights to draw attention of Government of India by peaceful means to skyrocketing plundering and widespread corruption, during the “Satyagraha” against corruption on Ram Lila grounds in New Delhi on June 4th 2011.

The brutality of the police revisited the atrocities committed by British colonial rulers and emergency rule of Mrs. Indira Gandhi during 1975, which many of us have personally experienced and heard from our parents. Innocent, peaceful Satyagrahis assembled were tear-gassed, beaten up in lathi-charge and trampled by thousands of violent policemen under order from the UPA government.

The state-sponsored violence in a closed compound could have even led to an uncontrollable  stampede resulting in the loss of an enormous numbers of innocent lives. This cannot be Democratic India; this cannot be Mahatma Gandhi’s India; this is not India governed by rule of law and a democratic constitution, ensuring the fundamental rights of all citizens for assembly and peaceful protest and demonstration.

These events have left the people of Indian origin around the globe, particularly here in the USA, shocked and horror-stricken. We are thoroughly embarrassed for our native land, asking in disbelief what indeed is the difference between Indian democracy under UPA leadership and the Chinese dictatorial system, where no peaceful demonstration is allowed and any legitimate criticism against the ruling Communist Party is crushed with brutal violence as in Tiananmen Square.

The irresponsible, callous, fascist and totalitarian attitude of the UPA government is evident from the fact that neither the UPA Chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi nor Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh considers it necessary to provide an explanation and extend an apology to the nation. The prime minister even made a ridiculous statement that there was no other way except use of violence, near the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi himself – a global beacon of non-violence.

This display of naked power clearly appears to be yet another attempt to crush the ever-increasing strength of anti-corruption movements by the masses all over India, unfortunately implying UPA government intense desire to preserve the culture of corruption among their own political ranks and within the thoroughly corrupt bureaucracy they control. These were the actions of people who do not believe in either human rights for their citizens, freedom of speech guaranteed by the Indian Constitution or Indian values.

This is a serious threat to the fundamental rights of our brothers and sisters in India. The entire Diaspora around the globe as NRI, PIO and responsible Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) unequivocally condemn this act by the Government of India. We are convinced now more than ever as to why the UPA government is trying to brutally crush any and all peaceful anti-corruption movements. Irrespective of our political affiliation, we are totally united in expressing our disgust and anger against unconstitutional violation of democracy and human rights.

Sreemati Patil, as the President of India you have the constitutional duty to uphold democratic norms guaranteeing the freedom and inalienable right of all Indian citizens for peaceful assembly and protest, and also to dismiss a corrupt government which has clearly exhibited no desire to curb rampant corruption and hence lost all moral authority to govern the country. We fervently hope that you will restore freedom, human rights and democratic rights of the citizens by dismissing the corrupt UPA government.  People of India deserve a chance to democratically elect new leaders who will root out corruption.

Thank you for your consideration and thoughtfulness.

Sincerely,


Vulgar display of power- Congress descends to foul-mouthed abuse

The Pioneer

June 09, 2011   10:26:44 AM

The Congress showed its fascist streak last Sunday night when it ordered Delhi Police to brutalise thousands of men, women and children who had gathered at Ramlila Ground to peacefully protest against the most venal cash-and-carry Government India has ever had and which is led by the party. Since then, the Congress has also demonstrated how low it can stoop by taking recourse to coarse bazaar language while defending the morally and legally indefensible police crackdown it ordered on sleeping protesters and then attacking the Opposition for taking up cudgels on behalf of the victims of Sunday night’s atrocity. High on the conviction that nothing or nobody can stop it from abusing power and misusing authority, the Congress has sought to tar the reputation of the RSS and the BJP, launching a scurrilous attack on both organisations and their leaders. The tone and tenor of those speaking on behalf of the party are not dissimilar to that of hoodlums who seek to scare people into submission; their loutish language makes the most scurrilous reportage of cheap yellow rags that made Page 3 popular among the under-classes appear sanitised and clean. The lexicon of political discourse, it would appear, in the case of the Congress has suddenly shrunk to terms of abuse as foul-mouthed spokespersons compete with each other, with more than a little help from ‘friendly’ media, to prove who is more boorish. Is this the new loyalty test set by the party president? For nothing else explains why Ms Sonia Gandhi has chosen to remain silent as her foot soldiers unleash volley after volley of uncouth verbal assault on the Congress’s political opponents. The political commentary, if at all this expression can be used given the low level of discourse, that emanated from the Congress on Tuesday when party leaders made shockingly disparaging remarks that can be construed to be repulsively sexist against the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Ms Sushma Swaraj, has left many people wondering whether Ms Gandhi endorses such vulgarity. It is a sad reflection of the state of affairs that prevails in India’s Grand Old Party that its president should maintain a stunning silence as her colleagues betray their true character and class.

Political debate can be acrimonious, but it should never descend to abuse and character assassination. Nor should parties seek to score political points by directing their ire at individuals, unless the issue merits such attack. The issue that agitates India at the moment is not about individuals but an institution, namely the Congress and the rampant corruption it has spawned in high places. Linked to this is the Congress’s arrogance, its criminally callous indifference to popular disquiet simply because it wields power and believes it can ride roughshod over the people of this country. The Congress forgets that it has been humbled by the people on more than one occasion in the past, that too when the party was led by stalwarts. Tragically, its current leaders have not learned any lessons from the party’s post-1975 history; worse, they have elected to become one with the hooligans who populate the Congress’s ranks. It’s a shame and a pity. The shame is entirely that of the Congress; it’s a pity that India should be saddled with a Government that has to depend on goons masquerading as Gandhi’s political heirs.


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