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On the Canmpaign Trail-5: Journey from Karnavati to Varanasi

After the Gujarat election concluded on April 23, where I had the privilege to campaign in Junagadh district and partly in Karnavati (Amdavad), my calling was for Uttar Pradesh.

I reached Varanasi almost at midnight on the 29th, flying to Lucknow early in the morning and then taking a train to Varanasi which took 10.5 hours instead of scheduled eight hours. Why I had to go though Lucknow is another story.

i had very warm welcome and assistance in Lucknow from Nishant Mishra, a young volunteer of Ekal Vidyalaya. He accompanied me from the airport to the railway stationed and stayed with me till I boarded the train (Ganga-Sutlej Express).

Lucknow Railway Station⬇️⬇️⬇️

30B49B9D-6AD5-45E3-B7E2-D738731FBA0DF6797641-3C16-4877-AEFB-B641113D6EBA

With Nishant Mishra at Lucknow railway station

My ticket was purchased at a very short notice by another Ekal Vidyalaya adhikari- Ramchandra Ji. Such is the power of bonding of selfless organizations that draw inspiration from Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sanmgh (RSS.)

NEXT: First Day of Campaigning in Varanasi

Sohrabuddin: Interrogating the media

S Gurumurthy

Last Updated : 11 Aug 2011 08:17:26 AM IST

The facts unfolded here reveal a conspiracy – a hostile political strategy to communalise, thus weaponise, an illegal encounter killing to demonise a selected State; to oust its leader, outside ballot process. That State is the least sinner in fake encounters, just one in a hundred. Yet, its leader is vilified as ‘Maut Ka Saudagar’ [merchant of death]. So, the selected State’s leader is the target, not fake encounters as evil.

The State selected? Needs no guess. It is Gujarat, certified as the best governed, most prosperous.

The leader targeted? Needs no mention. Narendra Modi, known as the cleanest, also the ablest.

The National Human Rights Commission’s list of 440 fake encounters from 2002 to 2007 under inquest shows the share of Gujarat as just 5, almost the lowest. Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 231, followed by Rajasthan 33, Maharashtra 31, Delhi 26, Andhra Pradesh 22, Uttaranchal 19, Assam 12, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka 10 each, Tamil Nadu 9, West Bengal 8, Bihar and Haryana 6 each. More. At 7.25 am, on 8.8.2011, the NewX channel reported a further 120 fake encounter deaths in UP after 2007!

Yet, from 2006, the ‘secular’ media has been obsessed with, not the most guilty in encounter sins, but the least — Gujarat; and with only one of the 440 encounters — of Syed Sohrabuddin in Gujarat, none from the rest. Baying for Modi’s scalp, the media relentlessly pursued Sohrabuddin’s case, charged Gujarat with killing him [and his wife, Kausar Bi] only because of his religion. It made Sohrabuddin the poster boy of secularism, insisted on CBI probe to cover Amit Shah, Gujarat Home Minister then, and Modi himself. The judiciary too chose for CBI probe only Sohrabuddin’s case out of the 440 encounters. Later when CBI misused the court mandate, resorted to patent illegalities to fix Shah and target Gujarat and Modi, the media even seemed relieved.

Interrogatories to ‘secular’ media on its role in the Sohrabuddin case are overdue. Here are some.

  • Did the media even hint that, like Sohrabuddin’s in Gujarat, there were 435 other encounters outside, being inquired into by NHRC? No.
  • And did it ever ask for CBI probe into them? No.
  • Did it ever tell the true facts about Sohrabuddin, other than about his religion, like that he was a dreaded criminal, a crony of Sharif Khan, Dawood Ibrahim’s Gujarat head; or that he was arms carrier for ISI; or that a huge cache of 24 AK-47s, 22 grenades, 5250 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, and 81 magazines, adequate for a 1993 Mumbai blast were recovered from his farm house; or that he served a 5-year jail term under terror law? Never.
  • Did it ever say that he had 21 big crime cases against him – two, under anti-terror law and nine, under Arms and Explosives law – in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan? No
  • Did it even remotely hint that he had had connections with LTTE’s drug peddlers or that he contract-murdered in broad day light in Chennai an advocate who had tipped off the Narcotic Control Bureau about LTTE or that he killed a gangster, Karim Lala, in Udaipur in December 2004 and took over his extortion business in Rajasthan – for which Rajasthan was after him? Never, ever.  In contrast, one magazine even profiled him as a ‘Muslim businessman’!
  • The media hid Sohrabuddin’s criminality and sanitised him as Modi’s victim. The Congress party improved it.  It made him the main issue in the 2007 Gujarat Assembly elections, thus adding communal poison to an illegal killing to make it deadly. Sonia Gandhi, adopting Sohrabuddin as the party’s poster boy, charged Narendra Modi as “Maut Ka Saudagar”. The media even saw the use of Sohrabuddin – an extortionist, arms-carrier, a murderer and the point man of Dawood – in the elections as strategic.

Now begins the sickening story of how the CBI subverted the Sohrabuddin probe to suit Congress party’s politics.

Not just BJP governments in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the Congress government in AP, headed by Sonia Gandhi’s pet YS Rajasekara Reddy then, too was deeply involved in the killing. Did the media ever highlight this fact? No.

If it had, the encounter would lose its all-BJP – read ‘communal’ – character; with the Congress-mix, the killing would become secular! The Gujarat police probe in the Sohrabuddin case led by Geeta Johri, an honest police officer, showed that seven AP police officials, including two drivers, were involved in the offence; that one Kalmuddin, had invited the Sohrabuddin couple to Hyderabad; that after their stay Sohrabuddin couple boarded a bus to Sangli; that the AP and Gujarat police officials, acting in concert, intercepted the bus, disembarked the couple, took them in their vehicles; the caravan which included two Tata Sumo vehicles used by AP police reached Ahmedabad where the couple were killed. The Gujarat CID probe on the encounter in Hyderabad was moving right, but slowly, when the CBI took over the case in January 2010. The CBI charge sheet of 23 July 2010 itself admits that AP police were party to the offence. But where did the Gujarat CID probe hit the roadblock in Hyderabad?

Geeta Johri, who uncovered the fake encounter, arrested her own colleagues, had sought the co-operation of Balwinder Singh, the Commissioner of Police at Hyderabad then, for three purposes: one, to question the AP police officials who had assisted the Gujarat police; two, to trace the missing Vehicle Entry Register of the AP IPS Officers Mess for the period August 2005 to May 2006 that would identify the two Tata Sumo vehicles, their drivers and also AP officials who went in them all the way to Ahmedabad; three, to track down Kalimuddin, who hosted Sohrabuddin at Hyderabad. But Balwinder Singh would not co-operate.

QED: the Congress was determined not to expose its role in the sin. See what it did instead. Who did it choose to head the CBI probe? Balwinder Singh! The very officer who shielded the AP police officials now heads the CBI to probe the role of the very AP – Congress? – Police! Shocked? It is just the beginning, with more shocks to come.

http://expressbuzz.com/nation/Sohrabuddin-Interrogating-the-media/303033.html#.TkQGgwGd-VZ.facebook

Why the Congress wooed and then shooed the Baba away

R Jagannathan Jun 6, 2011
When Baba Ramdev was bundled out of Delhi unceremoniously, it was a
forceful message from the Congress-led UPA government that it was not
going to vacate space for civil society to muscle in on its turf — unless
the civil society members happen to be Sonia Gandhi groupies.

It is also an indication that orders for the crackdown on the Baba came
from the political power centre – Sonia Gandhi herself. It marks a new
assertion of party over government in order to seize the political
initiative from a bumbling Manmohan Singh.

But it is worth understanding what really transpired these last few weeks,
when the government first started humouring the Baba, held detailed
discussions with him, and then hit him on the head – metaphorically – with
a club when he was least expecting it.

Who betrayed whom? Was it the government, which came out waving a paper
saying the Baba went back on his promise to call off the fast? Or was it
the Baba, who found the government closing in on him, and decided to back
away from a deal he knew was not good for his future?

I believe it was the government which decided to pull the plug on the Baba
deal. It flows from the answer to the question: why was the Congress
schmoozing with the Baba in the first place when it knew he had deep Sangh
Parivar connections?

The Congress has a problem in the north, where the BJP is a potent threat
everywhere, except Uttar Pradesh. This is where the Baba comes in handy.
Reuters
The answer: the Congress wined and dined him precisely because he was
close to the Sangh Parivar. It was not something they discovered later,
when Sadhvi Ritambara turned up at the Baba’s fast-fest.

In the Congress book of dirty tricks, this is old hat. Whenever the
Congress sees a looming political threat, it backs a rival in the same
camp to break away and undercut the original threat.

To deal with the Akalis in Punjab, Indira Gandhi backed Bhindranwale. To
destroy the Shiv Sena, it backed Raj Thackeray, and won the last elections
purely from this vote division. To undercut the National Conference, it
broke bread with Mufti Sayeed’s PDP in the last decade before it dumped
the PDP again for the National Conference.

Of course, the Congress also reaps the whirlwind when it sows the wind
(Indira was killed by Sikh extremists, and Rajiv fell to the LTTE’s
suicide bomber), but that’s another story.

It is also worth recalling that the Congress won the last elections in
Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu precisely because a third player (Praja
Rajyam in Andhra, and Vijayakanth’s DMDK in Tamil Nadu) ate  into
opposition votes and brought the Congress (or the Congress alliance)
victory. But for these spoilers, Chandrababu Naidu and AIADMK would have
won in 2009.

So who do you need to fix before 2014 in the same way? While there are
obviously a whole range of regional and sectarian parties who are local
threats to the Congress in various states, the only national threat is the
BJP, which, despite being rudderless over the last seven years, is the
only party capable of upsetting the Congress’ apple-cart.

Within the BJP, the biggest threat is Narendra Modi, who has shown that he
can get the measure of the Congress, and has the potential to galvanise
the party and the majority community to action — given the right political
circumstances, which, admittedly, don’t exist for now. But who knows what
will be the scenario in 2014?

It explains why the Congress is using activists like Teesta Setalvad and
the National Advisory Council (NAC) and other one-dimensional secularists
to fix him – whether in court or through a blatantly communal Bill to
tackle communal violence. The Bill is specifically targetted at Hindu
organisations, and no one else. It will never see the light of day, but
that does not stop undemocratic NAC members from trying to force it down
our throats.

But, at another level, the Congress has a problem in the north, where the
BJP is a potent threat everywhere, except Uttar Pradesh. This is where the
Baba comes in handy.

How? In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and also in the rest of the Hindi belt,
the Baba could cut into BJP votes if he floats a political party. He
doesn’t have to win any seats. If he merely takes away 4-5% of the BJP
vote, it is enough for the Congress to win.

This is the primary reason why the Congress has been humouring the Baba
and talking of doing a deal with him on corruption. Unfortunately, the
deal fell through, either because the Congress was trying to be too clever
with him, or was trying to fix him in other ways – and he balked at the
prospect. This is what forced the midnight swoop – something the Congress
had not planned for when it began talking with him.

The second reason why the Baba was useful to the Congress was his
unwillingness to let the Anna Hazare group run off with the
anti-corruption agenda. The Baba’s ego would not let him be a supporter of
the Hazare camp, which had eminent lawyers well-versed in the art of
drafting laws. It also had the support of the middle-class. The Congress
egged on Baba with his rural and small-town clout to stymie the Hazare
group.

The Congress had no reason to let Anna & Co dictate the new Lokpal bill,
and the Baba’s political ambitions proved useful to drive a wedge between
the two camps. While the midnight action has temporarily allowed the two
camps to kiss and make up, the two cannot ultimately work together.

Since the Anna group has lost vital momentum, it is now possible for the
Congress to impose its own Lokpal Bill with some minor concessions to
civil society and reclaim the agenda.

A perceptive comment by K Raman on Firstpost shows how the Baba has been
neutered, and Anna sidelined: “A man who owns a private island in
Scotland, has an annual turnover of Rs 1,000 crore and flies around in a
private jet would obviously have a few skeletons in his cupboard… In the
next 10 days, one after the other the skeletons will tumble down… The Baba
could be fixed in that way..”.

As for Anna & Co, Raman says: “..the government has clearly sent out the
message that if they mess around, then they too will meet the same fate as
the Baba. Shanti Bhushan’s statement that the Prime Minister and the
government has to resign is not helpful, to say the least…Now with what
face will this team go back and discuss with the same government on Lokpal
Bill?”

Clearly, the Congress used the Baba and discarded him when he did not toe
the line. The BJP need not be too unhappy, too. The Baba was meant to cut
it down to size. So while it may fulminate against the government for its
midnight “Jallianwala Bagh”, it should be secretly happy that one
potential rival for the Hindu vote is out of the way.

The Congress has won – for now. While the Baba did not serve its
short-term purpose, the party may still hold the high cards when it comes
to getting him to float a party to cut into the BJP vote.

But just as a week is a long time in politics, such political manoeuvres
are not enduring. The only question is whether, when it is politics as
usual, the ordinary citizen has lost out. The upsurge of grassroot support
when Anna Hazare began his fast has died down. Cynicism rules. Congress
gains.
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