Lt. Col. Purohit points finger at Sonia Gandhi – Sandhya Jain

Prasad Shrikant Purohit

Sandhya JainIt is incumbent upon the Government to give Lt. Col. Purohit back his honour and the accolades that are his legitimate due. – Sandhya Jain

Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, released after nearly nine years in jail when the Supreme Court granted him bail on August 21, hinted in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon after he assumed office, that the sitting president of a major political party was behind the conspiracy that saw him decoyed from his posting at Pachmarhi, MP, to Mumbai, where the Anti Terror Squad (ATS) made an illegal civilian arrest of a serving Army officer.

Purohit has hinted at having uncovered dark secrets while taking an 18-month Arabic course at Pachmarhi, MP, while continuing to gather intelligence as an officer of the Military Intelligence, and pleaded for an in-depth investigation of the same. Purohit is one of the country’s leading experts on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and renowned for his work in counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence in Kashmir and Maharashtra. In fact, his very success provoked his ruination at the hands of as yet unidentified forces.

Writing from judicial custody in Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai (PSP/55224/Official Corres/14, dated May 31, 2014), Purohit, an accused in the Malegaon 2008 bomb blast case, claims that the entire case against him was fabricated and stage-managed by the Maharashtra ATS, for reasons best known to them and their policy makers [read political masters]. His appeals in this regard to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Defence Minister A. K. Antony, and even the then President of India, fell on deaf ears.

Purohit suggests the conspiracy was masterminded by more powerful forces than the Maharashtra ATS, and states that he had drawn Dr. Manmohan Singh’s attention to “the attempts of politicising the case by the president incumbent of the National Congress Party”; the word Congress was subsequently cut and deleted for “Political” Party in pencil. The letter is written in ink. Purohit makes a dig at Singh’s “ventriloquism” in the matter!

Explaining the case, Purohit says a bomb blast took place in Malegaon town of Maharashtra on September 29, 2008, in which seven persons died and many were injured. At the time, Purohit was in distant Pachmarhi.

Informed sources claim Purohit had uncovered and aborted at least seven terror attacks in the country and had advance knowledge of the forthcoming attack on November 2008, which possibly led to his downfall.

On October 24, 2008,, Col. R.K. Srivastava arrived at Pachmarhi from Army Headquarters with instructions to facilitate Purohit’s interaction with ATS Maharashtra Police. Srivastava also had instructions to bring Purohit to Delhi to meet with Military Intelligence-20. Purohit says Srivastava did not convey any of these messages to him, and in fact treated him shabbily from the start.

On October 29, 2008, the Adjutant of the Army Education Corps and Training Centre (AEC) gave Purohit his movement order (without which he could not leave his duty station), which directed him to report to Director MI-20 at Army Hqrs. Srivastava asked him to leave his mobile phone with the Adjutant. Purohit’s family believed he was going to Delhi.

At the Bhopal Airport, however, Col. Srivastava forced him to board a flight to Mumbai, under a false movement order, and he had no means of communicating with his family. it is notable that an Army Court of Inquiry in 2009 upheld Purohit’s claim of abduction, kidnapping and illegal detention by Col. Srivastava. Various witnesses (Lt. Col. G.C. Mohanta, then Adjutant of AEC; Brigadier Rajkumar, then DDG MI, and others) confirmed that Purohit was moved on a false movement order.

On reaching Mumbai on the night of October 29, 2008, he was taken in a white Sumo to a civilian bungalow at Khandala, on the Mumbai-Pune highway. He remained here until November 4, 2008, in the illegal custody of ATS officers who subjected him to unspeakable mental and physical torture. Depraved threats were made against the women members of his family. The worst offenders included then ATS chief, Hemant Karkare (d. Mumbai 2008), then Addl. DG Police, Parambir Singh, inspector Arun Khanvilkar (since dismissed from service in another matter), and then Asst. CP, Mohan Kulkarni (since retd).

Aparna Purohit’s attempts to locate her husband in this period failed, as the AEC Adjutant, Lt. Col. G.C. Mohanta, was totally in the dark, having given a movement order for Delhi.

On November 5, 2008, Lt. Col. Purohit was handed over to the Mumbai ATS, an action that was illegal and based on this illegal series of events. He became Accused No. 9 in the Malegaon 2008 bomb blast case.

Tracing events prior to his taking the Arabic course at Pachmarhi, Lt. Col. Purohit served as an intelligence officer with the Southern Command Liaison Unit, Pune, at Devlali, Nasik. One of his registered intelligence sources, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, was made Accused No. 11 in the Malegaon case. The ATS claimed to have arrested him on November 20, 2008, and recorded that the house provided to him in the cantonment area was searched under panchanama on November 25, 2008, where traces of the RDX allegedly used in the Malegaon blast were recovered. The charge sheet stated that the bomb was assembled at Chaturvedi’s house.

This theory exploded during the Army’s Court of Inquiry, when two independent witnesses, Major Pravin Khanzade (Witness 1) and Subedar (then) Keshav K. Pawar (Witness 2) revealed that on November 3, 2008 (two days before Purohit’s arrest and 17 days before Chaturvedi’s arrest), the two of them had caught an ATS Asst. police inspector, Shekhar Bagade, planting evidence at Chaturvedi’s house. On being caught, he had pleaded with them not to report his presence there. But Major Khanzade reported the incident to all his seniors in Devlali and to Hqrs. Southern Command, Pune. The statements of Khanzade and Pawar figure on page 330 (July 8, 2009,) and page 426 (July 27, 2009,) of the official record of the Court of Inquiry.

Clearly, the ATS officers who fabricated the evidence against Chaturvedi prior to the arrest of Purohit and Chaturvedi could not have planned for the written testimony of Major Khanzade to his superiors! With this explosive evidence available to it in 2009, the Army authorities clearly realised they were sitting on a very deep-rooted conspiracy that went back to highly influential persons in Lutyens Delhi. They seem to have decided that their best course was to preserve the evidence for a better day—a wise move.

The ATS managed to compromise some of Purohit’s carefully crafted intelligence network. Three of his registered intelligence operators were made co-accused in the case and four were made witnesses against him.

It is fairly obvious that only a mole(s) inside the Pune Military Intelligence unit could leak the names of Purohit’s registered sources to the ATS. It seems likely that the registered assets of other serving military intelligence officers may also have been compromised in this period—not only in Maharashtra but other States as well. The Government of India and Hqrs. of all Services need to make subtle inquiries in this regard.

In March-April 2011, the case was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which too, failed to file a charge sheet (till date).

Purohit ends his missive urging the Prime Minister to ensure the release of all innocents in the case, not just himself. Calling himself an old war horse that responds to one call of the bugle, he prays for the “singular honor” of serving “my most revered and beloved motherland”.

This letter brought tears to the eyes of even veteran soldiers with whom it was shared. It is incumbent upon the Government to give the soldier back his honour and the accolades that are his legitimate due.

The investigations must begin with the first attack on Hindu sacred spaces outside Jammu and Kashmir—Akshardham, Ahmedabad, September 2002—and the creation of the “Hindu Terror” narrative under the auspices of the Sonia Gandhi led United Progressive Alliance.

Above all, statutory action must be taken against Col. R.K. Srivastava, and the surviving members of the Mumbai ATS—Addl. DG Police Parambir Singh, Inspector Arun Khanvilkar and Asst. CP Mohan Kulkarni. Hemant Karkare’s disgraceful conduct also needs to be put on record. – PGurus, 26 August 2017

» Sandhya Jain is an independent senior journalist in New Delhi. She is the editor of the opinion forum Vijayvaani.

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Sonia Gandhi and the toxicity of the Congress party – Minhaz Merchant

 

Sonia Gandhi & Rahul Gandhi

Minhaz MerchantIn 1998, when Sonia Gandhi took over the presidency of the Congress, the full toxicity of the party became evident. – Minhaz Merchant

Without quite realising it, the Congress under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi has become a toxic force in Indian politics.

The 1975-77 Emergency, during which more than one lakh journalists, Opposition leaders and civil society activists were jailed (including L. K. Advani and Arun Jaitley), exposed the first autocratic gene in the Congress. Indians’ fundamental rights were suspended for nearly two years. The Constitution was subverted.

The attempt by the Congress to censor Madhur Bhandarkar’s new film on the Emergency, Indu Sarkar, underscores how keenly aware the Congress is of the human rights violations it committed during the Emergency.

In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi—an essentially decent man whose career was impaled by bad advisors—planted the seed of communalism in mainstream politics by overturning through parliamentary legislation a 1985 Supreme Court order that had granted maintenance to an elderly divorced Muslim woman Shah Bano.

But it wasn’t till 1998, when Sonia Gandhi took over the presidency of the Congress, that the full toxicity of the party would become evident. The crude, thoughtless overnight eviction of then Congress president Sitaram Kesri was an early sign.

When the Congress took power at the Centre in 2004 after a hiatus of six years, it showed its true colours. While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the gentle, erudite face of the Congress-led UPA government for ten years, Sonia called the shots behind the scenes.

The party had four organisational layers. The first comprised senior lawyer-ministers P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Veerappa Moily. The second was made up of senior loyalists Jairam Ramesh, Kamal Nath and Anand Sharma.

The third layer was led by ground-level operators Ahmed Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad. The fouth layer comprised Rahul’s young turks – Jyotiraditya Scinda, Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora, Deepender Hooda and Jitin Prasada—all dynasts.

Working seamlessly, monitored closely by a stentorian Sonia, the four-tiered Congress team presided over the UPA’s two terms from 2004-14, widely regarded as India’s decade of scams and sectarian politics.

The communal seed planted after the Shah Bano case in 1985-86 had by now grown into a forest of trees with “saffron terror” carved on the bark of each tree trunk by the Congress’ slick four-layered operation.

The greatest disservice the Congress did was to set back by decades the cause of bona fide secularism. As I wrote in the article, “The Ayatollahs of Secularism”, in The Times of India: “The two real enemies of the Muslim—communal politicians masquerading as secular politicians to win votes and mullahs deliberately misinterpreting the holy book to retain power over their flock—form a natural alliance. Together they have enriched themselves but impoverished India’s Muslims, materially and intellectually, in the name of secularism. Influential sections of especially the electronic media, suffused with hearts bleeding from the wrong ventricle, are part of this great fraud played on India’s poor Muslims: communalism dressed up as secularism. The token Muslim is lionised—from business to literature—but the common Muslim languishes in his ghetto.”

Scams meanwhile profilerated. Three years after the Congress plunged from 206 MPs to 44 in May 2014, most though inexplicably remain unresolved—to the NDA government’s and the judicial system’s discredit. But each one—AgustaWestland, 2G, Scorpene, CWG, Coalgate—is a reminder of how corruption became the new normal in 2004-14.

Cut to the present. The Congress clearly hasn’t learnt its lesson. K. C. Tyagi, a Rajya Sabha MP from the JD(U), the party on whom rests the Opposition’s hope of stitching together a credible mahagathbandhan in 2019, had this to say of the Congress: “We are very upset at the behaviour of the Congress. The character assassination of our leader, Nitish Kumar, has also happened. The Congress today is not the Congress party of 1952, 1962 or 1984. It is not even a legitimate Congress party.”

When even a chronic Modi-baiter like Tyagi berates the Congress as not “legitimate”, Indian politics has clearly reached a point of inflection.

Borewell of toxicity

The Congress today is in real danger of immersing itself in a self-made borewell of toxicity. Its decision to boycott the special session of Parliament on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is only the latest in a series of self-destructive moves.

Note the other parties which joined the Congress’ GST boycott: RJD, DMK, TMC and the Left. What do they have in common? Serious charges of corruption.

1. The RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadav is looking at fresh jail time in the fodder scam. He is meanwhile battling charges of undeclared assets against his two sons, daughter and wife.

2. The DMK’s A. Raja, in and out of jail since the 2G scam broke, has implicated senior Congress ministers in the telecom license corruption case.

3. The TMC’s top leadership faces charges in the Saradha, Rose Valley and Narada scams which have singed Mamata Banerjee’s reputation for probity, quite apart from her inaction over communal riots in West Bengal.

4. The Left has been implicated in a slew of brutal communal killings in Kerala where its government is accused of complicity.

Virtually every other Opposition party, including the SP, BSP, JD(U), NCP and the JD(S), was represented at the special midnight GST parliamentary session. The four holdouts—RJD, DMK, TMC and the Left—who joined the Congress boycott spoke volumes for the party’s diminished reputation.

Sonia has over the 19 years of her presidency converted the Congress into a family business ruled with an iron fist. Rahul has been inheritor-in-waiting for three years. It is an indictment of Indian democracy that India’s second largest political party continues to operate like a feudal family firm.

India deserves better. – Daily-O, 7 July 2017

» Minhaz Merchant is an author and journalist in Mumbai.

UPA-2 Scams

The bribe-takers – M. D. Nalapat

Prof M.D. NalapatNarendra Modi has followed the same example he set in Gujarat, of not making changes in the composition of officials inherited from the previous regime. While overall this is a good idea, yet an exception needs to be made in the case of that small number of officials who were accomplices to corrupt ministers and politicians. Such individuals need to be investigated, and it needs to be ensured that they be removed from sensitive positions that are susceptible to misuse. – Prof M. D. Nalapat

Whether a politician is amassing wealth or not can often be gauged by the lifestyles of his or her family members. For those with access to the internet, it is no secret that this columnist is not an admirer of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, although he retains an open mind on her son and heir, Rahul Gandhi. The reason for the negativity is twofold: several of the closest political associates of the lady who dominated politics in India till the emergence of Narendra Modi to the centre stage of national politics in 2013 are individuals who may reasonably be termed as “fixers” and “dealers”. Their families have, without exception, progressed at speed up the income ladder, with expensive cars and luxurious residences replacing more modest transport and accommodation. Even in their income tax returns, they have shown incredible skill in increasing their net wealth, often setting up businesses that make huge profits. To cite a particular instance, a minister who was very powerful by being a confidante of the Congress Party leader has an offspring who has made money in incredible amounts.

Sonia GandhiIn the case of Sonia Gandhi, her two sisters live in luxury despite considerable ambiguity about their occupations. India’s incurious media has not regarded it as important to report on the lives and lifestyles of not only Sonia Gandhi’s sisters but the children and other relatives of others who are or were hyper-powerful. For example, it is unknown in India that an individual placed at the core of the security apparatus by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had as foreign citizens his wife and all his children. In the US, there are clear lines drawn between “No Forn” documents and briefings that are off limits to foreign nationals, and others that are allowed to be accessed by foreign nationals.

In the case of India, several key officials have progressed in their careers despite their close family members exchanging their Indian passports for that of a foreign country. Indeed, such a fact is regarded as too trivial to document. Another fact seen as outside the ambit of government is educating children in foreign countries, with few superiors curious about how an officer can educate his or her children abroad at a cost much above his or her salary.

Usually, some unknown institution steps up with a scholarship to the offspring of a senior official, and shuts down soon after the education of the lucky youngster concludes. And of course there is the fact that several international financial companies—who make fortunes out of insider information—hire the children of top decision-makers. Interestingly, the head of the Reserve Bank of India retains his lien on the University of Chicago job he temporarily took leave of to become the czar of monetary policy in India, as well as the option to become a US citizen at will. Similar is the case with the head of the erstwhile Planning Commission ( now renamed Nit Aayog) and the Economic Advisor to the Finance Ministry, each of whom appear to regard their current jobs as stopgap employment before returning to the US, a prospect they are reported to discuss with friends off and on. In the two years that he has devoted to his current job, Narendra Modi has followed the same example he set in Gujarat, of not making changes in the composition of officials inherited from the previous regime. While overall this is a good idea, yet an exception needs to be made in the case of that small number of officials who were accomplices to corrupt ministers and politicians. Such individuals need to be investigated, and it needs to be ensured that they be removed from sensitive positions that are susceptible to misuse. Such a spring cleaning has yet to take place.

AgustaWestland HelicopterHence, although corruption in Delhi has been dramatically reduced since Modi took over, the pace of investigation and accountability has been glacial in its pace. A few [weeks] ago, a higher court in Italy convicted some individuals of having paid bribes to Indians to purchase some helicopters for the Air Force in its VIP squadron. It would have been a simple matter to track the money flow from Europe to Mauritius to India, but this was apparently not done even after the new government took charge. Contrary to the charges being made by some that such inaction shows the “complicity” of the Modi government in such scams, the fact is that it reveals the opposite.

The Prime Minister has left the bureaucracy alone, and has ensured that his ministers follow the same discipline (of refusing to intervene). However, such a rule needs exceptions, especially in the case of those instances which involve corruption of a level of tens of millions of dollars. In the case of the helicopter deal, several senior officials were involved, and some are still in very high positions. These have clearly used their influence to ensure that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) slept at the wheel. Although two years have gone by since the BJP government took charge, neither the CBI nor the ED have bothered to uncover the money trail. So the public in India is witness to the shameful spectacle of an Italian court convicting Italian bribe-givers, but Indian agencies inactive against the Indian bribe-takers, many of whom have influential friends across the political spectrum.

The Italian court relied on 181 boxes of evidence about the bribes paid by AgustaWestland, the helicopter company, but thus far, no agency from India has shown any interest in examining the data revealed there, even though they relate to bribes paid in India to Indian citizens. Neither has any anti-corruption agency Narendra Modiin India sought to assist the Italian court with evidence that was relevant to the case, despite the desirability of doing so. Prime Minister Modi will need to revise his Hands Off policy towards the bureaucracy, for in some departments, freedom from political influence is leading to greater misuse of authority. The system of democracy mandates control by elected politicians over unelected officials, and the Prime Minister and his ministers need to exercise that control rather than refrain from it. Of course, concurrently there needs to be much greater transparency in government, so that online tracking takes place of decisions such that laggards get identified.

As also much more accountability. For a start, Modi needs to identify and punish each of those [politicians, officials and military] guilty in the AgustaWestland helicopter scandal, no matter how high the post held or which party the wrongdoer belongs to. Unless he does so, from now onwards, politically it will all be downhill for the BJP. – Pakistan Observer, 6 May 2016

» Prof M. D. Nalapat is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Karnataka State, India.

Why the BJP will never send Sonia Gandhi to jail – Syed Firdaus Ashraf

Chief of India's Congress party Sonia Gandhi, her daughter Priyanka Vadera, son-in-law Robert Vadera, and son Rahul Gandhi, walk at Rajiv Gandhi's memorial on the occasion of former Prime Minister's 18th death anniversary in New Delhi in this May 21, 2009.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf“The media trial against Sonia, Rahul Gandhi or for that matter against Sonia’s son-in-law Robert Vadra will yield no results. Two years have passed since the Modi government came to power, but the Gandhi family remains untouched.” – Syed Firdaus Ashraf

While watching the news last night, my phone kept buzzing.

Unable to ignore the constant buzzing, I checked my phone to find pro-Narendra Modi friends bombarding me about the revelations about Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s alleged role in the AgustaWestland chopper scam.

Message after message informed me of how finally achche din had arrived now that Sonia’s name had been mentioned in the Rs 3,600 crore (Rs 36 billion) VVIP chopper scam.

The messages were more or less identical: ‘AgustaWestland scam—Rs 250 crore paid as bribes to Sonia Gandhi and her aides to clinch deal.’

“Italian court convicts AugstaWestland Chief Guiseppe Orsi for paying bribes to top Congress leaders in India,” the messages read further, “Sonia Gandhi struck the deal and used her puppet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to loot public money.”

Initially, I felt the urge to ignore the messages, but later I responded that despite my friends’ delight, nothing would happen to Sonia and that she would not land up behind bars.

My phone went quiet. My Modi bhakt friends fell silent.

The media trial against Sonia, Rahul Gandhi or for that matter against Sonia’s son-in-law Robert Vadra will yield no results. Two years have passed since the Modi government came to power, but the Gandhi family remains untouched.

From 1998 to 2004, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was prime minister, the issue of Sonia’s foreign origin kept being raised by many in the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party. But the Vajpayee government did not do anything during those six years. Why?

Because if Sonia, the “Italian,” was at the helm of the Congress party, it would only serve the BJP well.

Today, the Modi government does the same thing. It keeps highlighting the alleged scams that the Congress is involved in. But the people of India did not elect Modi just to talk about scams and to let Congress leaders go scot-free.

If some Indians elected a prime minister with a self-professed 56-inch chest, they want to see some action against the Gandhis, which is not happening.

Check out the allegations against the Congress party and check what action the Modi government has taken. The answer? Zilch.

Sonia Gandhi & Rahul GandhiThe Adarsh scam. The 2G scam. The coal scam. The Delhi CNG fitness test scam. The Delhi Jal Board tanker scam. The Delhi power scam. The Uttarakhand liquor licence scam. The Tatra truck scam. And now AgustaWestland.

Newspapers and television channels report one scam or another, but there is little follow-up government action.

The sole exception is the National Herald case, undertaken by Subramanian Swamy who dragged the Gandhis to court and for which, it appears, Modi rewarded him with a nominated Rajya Sabha seat.

The BJP believes the Gandhis are a liability for the Congress party which is a huge advantage for Modi come the 2019 election. I believe none of the Gandhis will see a prison cell, at least till an election year.

Modi knows the Congress without the Gandhis is a more formidable and more dangerous adversary.

After the back and forth with the Modi bhakts on the phone last night, guess the answer from them.

“There is no person fit to be PM than Modi today. If you have any alternative leader, convince us—maybe we will vote for him in 2019.” – Rediff.com, 27 April 2016

» Syed Firdaus Ashraf reports for Rediff.com in Mumbai.

Robert Vadra

Congress attempts to takeover Kamakhya Temple – Jayant Chowdhury

Kamakhya Temple, Nilachal Hills, Assam

Journalist“This is a shameless attempt by the Tarun Gogoi government to run the temple through its chosen agents. The government has no business to run a temple or any place of worship, be it a mosque, church, gurdwara or synagogue. The Kamakhya Temple is being run perfectly well and the Tarun Gogoi government was trying to subvert last year’s Supreme Court verdict restoring the task of running the temple to the Dolois, as has been the age-old practice. We will strongly oppose any attempt by this government to resuscitate the bill,” said BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma. – Jayant Chowdhury

Tarun GogoiAn attempt by the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in Assam to take over the management of the ancient Kamakhya temple has been nixed, albeit temporarily.

The state government had introduced a bill (the Assam Sri Sri Maa Kamakhya Devalaya Management Bill, 2015) in the state assembly on Monday that would have led to the creation of a board, headed by a serving or retired IAS officer and comprising members nominated by the government, representatives from the temple management, and the district administration as well as the state revenue and finance departments, to look after the management and development of the temple.

After Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) members objected to the bill, the government withdrew it temporarily.

But to fully understand the sinister motive behind the Congress government’s attempt to take over the Kamakhya Temple, it is important to delve a bit into its history. The management and administration of the Kamakhya Temple, one of the most powerful Shakti peeths and an important religious site for Hindus, has been under two ‘Dolois’ who are elected by the ‘Bardeuris’ or priests of the principal Kamakhya Temple, since the time of the Ahom kings.

These Bardeuris are descendants of the famous Kanyakubja Brahmins of Kannauj and were brought over to run the Kamakhya temple by Maharaja Dharmapala of the Pal dynasty in mid-11th century. There are four clans of Bardeuris and each adult male of the four clans (there are around 450 of them) can stand for election to the post of the two Dolois .

The person getting the highest number of votes becomes the ‘Dangor Doloi’ and the one getting the second-highest votes become the ‘Xoru Doloi’ (‘Dangor’ means ‘elder’ in Assamese, and ‘Xoru’ is ‘younger’). The two Dolois have five-year tenures.

In 1992, Jnananda Prasad Sarma and Paran Chandra Sarma were elected as the ‘Dangor’ and ‘Xoru’ Dolois respectively. But when their terms were about to end in 1997, they constituted the Kamakhya Debutter Board to run the temple. Over time, this Board came to be packed with priests and pandas loyal to the Congress, which has been in power for most of the time in Assam since Independence.

The Kamakhya Bardeuri Samaj filed a case against the Debutter Board at the Gauhati High Court in 1998 and the High Court, in November 2011, ruled that the Board had no locus standi and the affairs of the temple should be handed over to the Bardeuris. But the Board challenged this verdict in the Supreme Court which, on July 7, 2015 upheld the High Court verdict. This was a big blow to the Congress government in Assam, which could no longer remote-control the affairs of the temple through the Debutter Board that was packed with its loyalists and lackeys.

Kamakhya DeviBut the state government did not honour a vital part of the SC order. “The Supreme Court had asked the district authorities to seize the premises, accounts and properties of the Kamakhya Devalaya from the Debutter Board and hand them over to the Bardeuri Samaj. But even six months after that order, we haven’t got the accounts of the temple and most of the properties. So we filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court last month,” said Bhaskar Sarma, the secretary of the Kamakhya Bardeuri Samaj.

The bill brought by the Tarun Gogoi government is, thus, a sinister attempt to subvert the Supreme Court order and take over the management of the temple. On getting to know of the state government’s plans to introduce the bill, members of the Bardeuri Samaj launched an indefinite hunger strike from January 30.

The state’s move attracted criticism and widespread condemnation from intellectuals and cultural personas of the state as well as the powerful All Assam Students’ Union and the opposition BJP and the AGP. When the bill was tabled, Opposition members questioned the motive behind the bill, especially since the Kamahya Temple was being run perfectly well by the two Dolois and the Bardeuri Samaj. They also said the age-old traditions of the historic shrine should not be interfered with, and pointed out that the Bardeuri Samaj had not been consulted. Facing flak within and outside the Assembly, the government kept the bill in abeyance. However, it has not dropped the bill and chances are that it would try again to introduce and pass the bill.

The Opposition, while questioning the Congress government’s motives, has also pointed out that governments have no business managing the affairs of religious places. “This is a shameless attempt by the Tarun Gogoi government to run the temple through its chosen agents. The government has no business to run a temple or any place of worship, be it a mosque, church, gurdwara or synagogue. The Kamakhya Temple is being run perfectly well and the Tarun Gogoi government was trying to subvert last year’s Supreme Court verdict restoring the task of running the temple to the Dolois, as has been the age-old practice. We will strongly oppose any attempt by this government to resuscitate the bill,” said BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma.

AGP leaders also spoke in the same vein and wondered why the Tarun Gogoi government is targeting the Kamakhya Temple. “In that case, the government should take over the management of all mosques and churches in the state. Can Tarun Gogoi dare do that?” wondered a senior AGP leader.

In Assam, a wide cross-section of the citizenry are dismayed by the Congress government’s attempts to interfere in the management of a Hindu place of worship and are asking if Tarun Gogoi can even think of taking over the management of any mosque or church in the state. – Swarajya, 4 February 2016

» Jayant Chowdhury is a commentator on politics and society in Bengal and eastern, including north-eastern, India.

Sonia Gandhi & Tarun Gogoi

Hatred for Narendra Modi by the Congress’ first family will intensify next year – Anirban Ganguly

Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Sumitra Mahajan

Dr Anirban Ganguly“In the coming year, one will see this intense hatred for Narendra Modi that the Congress’ first family spews only get more accentuated. The family lives in a delusional world and believes that demonising and publicly berating Modi will ensure that their depleted and confused flock survives.” – Dr Anirban Ganguly

It is an interesting phenomenon that a particular political party and its sustaining dynasty continues to be irreconcilable to the fact that it has lost the people’s mandate and has been designated to live without the power that comes with it, at least for five years. The year 2015 has continuously seen the expressions of its irresponsible behaviour that stems from an inability to come to terms with political defeat.

The Congress, especially its leading family, always takes defeat personally and it is in its tradition—if one is to recall the treatment meted out to Chandrashekhar—to create ruckus and act as street toughs and bullies, targeting those who have been the causes of its defeat. It consigns governance, delivery, stability and commitment to parliamentary systems and traditions to the dungeon, and its sole obsession is to try and create legislative and political disruptions in the country.

Congress LogoFor a party that has been in power for so long, such a denigration of the democratic and parliamentary traditions is lamentable. The deeper reason for such a wild behaviour is the intense disdain for a leader who has risen through ceaseless struggle from a railway platform to the high office of the prime minister, despite the Congress’ first family trying to stymie that rise. In the coming year, one will see this intense hatred for Narendra Modi that the Congress’ first family spews only get more accentuated. The family lives in a delusional world and believes that demonising and publicly berating Modi will ensure that their depleted and confused flock survives.

Meanwhile, the fumbling designated prince of Congress will forever remain unprepared, running around badly enacting the role of India’s saviour. The intemperance in political behaviour and articulation from the group of 44 will increase, also because we have a prime minister who strictly adheres to democratic traditions and never allows his personal insult to come in the way of decision-making.

Modi’s approach to the states, his assiduously demonstrated faith in India’s federal structure, which the Congress’ first family has always worked to weaken by trampling upon regional leaders and sentiments, has brought about a stability and faith that such a tradition will eventually strike deeper roots in India. Despite intemperate outbursts from some maverick regional leaders against him, Modi continues with dignity and perseverance to respect diversities of opinion and does not allow that insult to influence or shake his deeply embedded faith in the federal as well as united destiny and goal of India.

Meanwhile, Communists will continue floundering, disintegrate and end up becoming lackeys of various political forces, both external and internal. While paid intellectuals and card-carrying ideologues will keep crying “intolerance” from time to time, especially on foreign soil during junkets, the rise of India as a civilisational state shall continue. That irreversible march has begun; trivialities cannot arrest it in the long run. – The New Indian Express, 27 December 2015

» Anirban Ganguly is Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi.

Sonia & Rahul

BJP’s mistakes benefit Rahul Gandhi – M. D. Nalapat

Prof M.D. Nalapat“Rahul Gandhi’s clear mission is to ensure that the Modi government fail to deliver results, and thereby come to grief in 2019. Rahul’s ally has been the BJP, a party that has systematically destroyed the goodwill won by Narendra Modi for it in 2014 by filling the government with the same faces of the defeated past, and by refusing to enforce accountability for the sins of the Manmohan Singh government.” – Prof M. D. Nalapat

Manmohan SinghMore than anything done by an opposition party, it is the errors committed by the ruling party that ensure a smooth trajectory for the former. The Congress Party ought to have changed its Prime Minister latest by 2011, when it was obvious to all except the coterie around Sonia Gandhi that Manmohan Singh was discredited across the country for his unwillingness or inability to run an effective and clean government. Had Rahul Gandhi been appointed as his replacement and done away with the old team of ministers, choosing instead fresh talent untainted by association with the past government, the Congress Party would have given a much tougher fight to the BJP than proved the case in May 2014.

Although Sonia Gandhi was the object of considerable public anger because of the perception that her party was indulgent towards the corrupt, such a dislike did not percolate downwards to her two children Rahul and Priyanka, both of whom remained popular. Indeed, in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, it was the repeated presenting of Rahul and Priyanka on television during the campaign that ensured a promise of change, especially when compared to the 79-year old L. K. Advani, the BJP warhorse who was that party’s Prime Ministerial candidate. Had it been Narendra Modi instead, the BJP would have emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha during the 2009 polls, although the Congress-led alliance may still have won enough seats to rule for the next five years.

Narendra ModiThe mistake—of continuity rather than change—committed by the Congress leadership was capitalized on by the BJP in 2013, when the party ensured that Narendra Modi would be its standard-bearer for the 2014 polls. The Congress Party had tried through the government it controlled to send Modi to prison on a miscellany of charges, but failed due to lack of evidence. Of course, this did not stop the then ruling party from conducting a trial by media of Modi throughout its decade in office, in the process giving him a boost because of the incessant focus of the Congress Party on Modi, especially after he won a third term in Gujarat in 2012 and established his hold among voters.

Narendra Modi swept to power promising transparency in governance as well as accountability. It was expected that the processes of government would be made more open to the public, as that is the best way of reducing corruption. However, as yet the Right to Information Act still suffers from several infirmities in its implementation, including the appointment of retired civil servants as Information Commissioners and even as Chief Information Commissioners (CIC), despite their bias in favour of secrecy. The present CIC, for example, seems more determined to conceal than to reveal the details of the functioning of government.

Sonia GandhiAcross the board, including in such fields as Education where greater autonomy is vital for innovation, controls that were put in place under Manmohan Singh have largely been continued and in some cases, expanded. Taxes have gone up despite commodity prices going down to very low levels. As a consequence, both the middle class as well as the business community have begun to distance themselves from the BJP-led government, thereby weakening the party as it prepares for the 2019 polls. And as for accountability, this seems to have been forgotten in the case of those who were running the central government during 2004-2014 to a barrage of criticism from the BJP about their corrupt activities. Not a single First Information Report has been filed against any ex-minister at the central level by the Modi government, and even the few cases instituted under Manmohan Singh (as for example against former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran) seem to have lost steam. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has himself been given a clean chit by the Modi government, thereby raising the question: was the BJP wrong in calling Manmohan Singh the fount of corruption? A few small fry at the state level from the previous regime have been targeted, mainly because of rivalry with BJP office-bearers in their respective states. Overall, the new government has given a free pass to its predecessor, and because of this, the Congress Party in particular has bounced back to life. If in 1978 it was the (ineffectual, almost comic) prosecution of Indira Gandhi that gave her back her popularity, this time around it has been the lack of action by the BJP that has ensured that the mist of corruption surrounding Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her party has largely cleared.

Subramanian SwamyIronically, it has been an individual who has not even been made a Member of Parliament by the BJP (much less a minister), who has managed to throw a dart at the Congress leadership. Subramanian Swamy filed his case against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and three others in 2012, when Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister. He joined the BJP only in 2013, and once in power, the party has done nothing to assist him in pursuing the case against the ruling family of the Congress Party. However, Rahul Gandhi has used the fact of Swamy being a BJP National Executive (a toothless body) member to allege that the party is behind his efforts at indicting him and his mother for the takeover of a company through moneys received from the Congress Party. The Modi government has adopted the position that both the UPA leadership as well as its own key people are spotless (the BJP rejected very substantive allegations against key individuals as baseless without offering any reason why such a clean chit was justified).

Narendra Modi vs Rahul GandhiHowever, rather than ensure Congress cooperation in the passing of legislation, such a policy has boosted the party, especially now that it is under the control of Rahul Gandhi, whose clear mission is to ensure that the Modi government fail to deliver results, and thereby come to grief in 2019. Rahul’s ally has been the BJP, a party that has systematically destroyed the goodwill won by Narendra Modi for it in 2014 by filling the government with the same faces of the defeated past, and by refusing to enforce accountability for the sins of the Manmohan Singh government. Candidate Modi missed the benefit of the mistakes made by the Congress Party from 2009 onwards. Now Rahul Gandji is getting the benefit of the mistakes made by the BJP in his campaign to ensure that Narendra Modi will have only a single term in office. – Pakistan Observer, 11 December 2015

» Prof M. D. Nalapat is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Karnataka State, India.