Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Centre must enact strict legislation to curb vandalism by kanwariyas, rioters

AKBWith reports coming in of Kanwariyas indulging in hooliganism at different places, the Supreme Court on Friday came down hard on what it called “gave incidents of vandalism” and said it would not wait for the Centre to enact a law to curb such acts of violence, and would soon issue guidelines. The judges gave specific instances of how kanwariyas blocked off half of the national highway between Varanasi and Allahabad and there were random road blockades.

Kanwar Yatra is a pilgrimage undertaken every year during the monsoon month of Sawan, when devotees march to Haridwar, Gangotri and other places to fetch Ganga water in pots and then walk to their respective temples to pour holy water on Shiva lingams.

During this period, they are supposed to practise austerity and walk barefooted. Because of their austerity, people and authorities en route pay respects to these devotees, and erect tents to provide them food and water. But, in recent years, most of the kanwariyas have been found consuming liquor, smoking hashish and cigarettes, and vandalizing properties.

Even police officials admit that many of the local criminals join these kanwariyas to save themselves from arrest. It was in this context the Supreme Court took a hard view of the situation. Of course, there were other issues of arson and violence by protesters and rioters, which were linked to this. The Attorney General of India K K Venugopal told the court that every week, there was rioting in some parts of the country, sometimes in the name of Maratha reservation, or in the name of unrest over SC/ST order.

In view of the Supreme Court’s observations, the Centre should now seriously think about enacting a stringent law to prevent such acts of vandalism by rioters, in whatever garb they may be.

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Opposition lost the RS Deputy Chairman poll due to lack of seriousness

AKBThe BJP-led National Democratic Alliance scored a clear victory over opposition parties led by Congress in Rajya Sabha on Thursday, when their candidate, renowned journalist and Janata Dal(United) member Harivansh defeated Congress rival B K Hariprasad in a straight contest by a good margin (125-101).

Theoretically, non-BJP parties led by Congress were in a majority inside the House, but party chief Amit Shah turned the tables on them, first by mollifying close allies like Shiromani Akali Dal and Shiv Sena, and then pitching for vital support from Biju Janata Dal, AIADMK, Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Indian National Lok Dal and some independents.

On the other hand, from the Opposition camp, YSR Congress abstained, and members of Aam Aadmi Party and PDP were absent. Clearly the Opposition’s strategy failed, because there was lack of seriousness on the part of their leaders.

Let me elaborate. The Leader of House in Rajya Sabha, Union Minister Arun Jaitley was in medical isolation at his home on the advice of AIIMS doctors for the last four months due to kidney transplant, but on Thusrday, he came to Parliament to cast his vote after taking permission from doctors.

This is a clear example of how the NDA took the election seriously, whereas those in the Opposition camp, despite being hale and hearty, were absent from voting. At least 12 of them were absent. Had they voted for the Congress candidate, the margin would have been close. Had Congress President Rahul Gandhi phoned Arvind Kejriwal, his candidate could have got all the three votes from AAP.

On the other hand, JD(U) supremo Nitish Kumar personally rang up his BJD counterpart Naveen Patnaik to seek his party’s support. Rahul Gandhi could have done the same. On the whole, the NDA won because its leaders took the election seriously and there was good floor management.

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How R K Dhawan cleared his name in Indira Gandhi assassination case

akb_frame_20703Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s close confidante R. K. Dhawan passed away at the age of 81, mourned by his admirers and relatives. He worked as Special Assistant to the then PM Indira Gandhi for 19 years. During those years, R K Dhawan was a power centre, who wielded enormous clout. He was then considered the second most powerful person in India after Indira Gandhi, but Dhawan never misused his clout. His strength lay in the fact that he used to help needy persons, and because of this, he had a large number of admirers.

The biggest tragedy that took place in his career was when fingers were pointed at him in the 1984 Indira Gandhi assassination case. I was at that time the Editor of Onlooker magazine and had exposed the manner in which Justice Thakkar Commission report was prepared in order to nail him.

At that time, R K Dhawan cautioned me that there were some powerful people behind this report and they could harm me. Undaunted, I exposed the entire game plan hatched by Arun Nehru, who was then wielding enormous clout during Rajiv Gandhi’s rule. R K Dhawan later returned to the centre stage of politics. He became a Union Minister. He used to publicly tell people how a magazine cover story washed off the darkest blot on his career.

Dhawan was penning his autobiography during the last days of his life. He had discussed some of the chapters with me before he fell ill. This autobiography may never be completed in the near future.

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Karunanidhi’s passing away will impact politics both in TN and at the Centre

aaj-kibaat_frame_32380 (002)The passing away of the DMK patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi will not only have a big impact on Tamil Nadu politics, but will also affect national politics. The 94-year-old politician was adept in maintaining a fine balance, both in his personal life and in the realpolitik space. He was at times closer to the Congress and at other times, he came close to the BJP.

Politics in Tamil Nadu has witnessed the passing away of two giants – J. Jayalalithaa and M. Karunanidhi – within a short span of one year. Jayalalithaa’s passing away immediately caused a big split in the AIADMK, it resulted in the purge of Jayalalithaa’s close confidante Sasikala, and the party is now being run by a mix of both EPS and OPS factions.

There are differences in Karunanidhi’s extended family too. His sons – M K Stalin and M K Azhagiri were at loggerheads. But the old patriarch, in the autumn of his life, stood like a giant banyan tree giving shade to both the factions. The party stood as one and the old man anointed his son Stalin as his political successor. He sent Azhagiri to the Centre as minister, but his son was unhappy and he protested. Karunanidhi sent him out of the party. The patriarch then sent his daughter Kanimozhi to the Centre as MP, and thus paved the way for his favourite son Stalin to take over the party’s reins. But now, with the passing away of the titan, it will become a big challenge for Stalin to keep the party united. This is bound to impact Tamil Nadu politics in the near future.

Karunanidhi stood like a colossus in Tamil Nadu politics for several decades. At the Centre, he was the oldest living politician in the front ranks, who had witnessed the freedom movement right up to the alliance politics at the Centre, rivalled only by Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal.

Karunanidhi was a writer, orator and leader par excellence. He fought against casteism all through his life – first through his writings, his plays, his oratory and then through agitations. He was chief minister of Tamil Nadu for five terms. In his 62 years of legislative career, he never lost an election. To lead a political party for 50 years and still keep his popularity intact, was no mean achievement. It is because of this, that he was affectionately called ‘Kalaignar’ (artist, scholar) by the people of Tamil Nadu.

The artiste has now taken his last bow, and his memory will remain through his creations, his writings, and his work among the downtrodden as their chief minister. On behalf of India TV family, I offer my sincere condolences to his family and pay my tributes to the departed leader.

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Why 17 Opposition parties are demanding replacement of EVMs with ballots

Aaj-Ki-baat_frame_62779 (003)A concerted move has begun among 17 Opposition parties, as disparate as Congress and Aam Aadmi Party, Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress and Left Front, Samajwadi Party and BSP, to press for the demand for replacing EVMs (electronic voting machines) with ballot papers in next year’s Lok Sabha elections. A joint meeting will be held on Monday, which will be followed by a debate in Parliament, and then a joint delegation will meet the Election Commission. AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal and Telangana Rashtra Samithi have chosen not to support this demand.

It is not a fact that use of EVMs have always resulted in victories for ruling BJP. Congress had been in power at the Centre for ten years when EVMs were in use, it won the assembly polls in Punjab, the Congress-JD(S) came to power in Karnataka, the anti-BJP Mahagathbandhan defeated the BJP in Bihar on the strength of EVMs. At that point of time, none of these parties raised issues over EVMs, but when they lost the assembly polls in UP, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Assam and Manipur, they have started questioning the reliability of these electronic machines.

Detection of technical flaws in a few EVMs does not mean that all the EVMs are faulty. Last year, after the UP assembly polls, the Election Commission had thrown an open challenge to any party which can prove that EVMs can be tampered with. The EC even conducted a demo in front of political parties to show that these machines cannot be tampered with. And yet, questions are being raised.

The world in the 21st century is moving fast with the use of latest technology. It is , therefore, surprising that the opposition parties are trying to put the clock back to the 20th century, by demanding that EVMs be scrapped and paper ballots be used.

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How Mamata’s WB govt failed to verify documents of Bengalis based in Assam

AKBTrinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has made the National Register of Citizens (NRC) a big issue in national politics, but few people know that it is her government in West Bengal, which failed in verifying the legacy documents of Bengalis settled in Assam.

Most of these Bengalis had given their ancestral addresses in Bengal. Five months ago, during the NRC exercise, 1,14,000 documents were sent to Bengal government for verificationm out of which only 6,800 documents were sent back as verified. Those whose documents were not verified found their names missing in the NRC. These documents are still lying with the WB government. Unless these are verified, these names cannot be included in NRC. Mamata Banerjee has a lot of explaining to do.

On the other hand, one should praise the Assam policewomen who showed presence of mind in detaining six TMC MPs when they landed in Silchar, Assam, and created a drama. They were not allowed to enter the city as it could have caused linguistic tensions.

Mamata Banerjee may not trust the Centre’s Narendra Modi government, she may not trust the BJP government in Assam, but her own Assam state unit chief, who resigned on Thursday, nailed her lies. Mamata may allege that BJP might have ‘bought off’ the TMC leader, but this politician has himself said that Mamata’s remarks can cause unnecessary tension in Assam.

The same Mamata Banerjee during the Left Front rule in West Bengal had raise a hue and cry over illegal Bangladeshis staying in her state. She had torn papers inside the Lok Sabha and had then created a drama. Today she has taken a complete U-turn. During Left Front rule, she had demanded that the illegal Bangladeshis should be thrown out of the state, and now she is speaking the opposite.

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Instead of politicizing, Opposition should trust SC and wait for final NRC draft

akbA raging debate is on between BJP and Opposition over the detection of more than 4 million foreigners after the second and final draft of National Register of Citizens was made public on Monday in Assam. The opposition parties, particularly Congress and Trinamool Congress, are alleging that people belonging to a particular religion have been deliberately left out from NRC.

India TV on Tuesday telecast soundbites of local people in Dhubri, Assam, whose names are missing from NRC. Most of them are Hindus. This negates the allegation that only Muslims in Assam have been targeted. The reality is that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are being identified in Assam, and that too, on the direction of Supreme Court, which has prepared guidelines for detection. So, there is very little scope of politicizing the issue.

As far as lacunae in NRC are concerned, manual verification of an estimated 3.30 crore people in Assam is a gigantic task, and we should understand that those trying to verify documents are human beings too, and they can commit errors. The government has clarified several times that two months’ time will be given for people to file claims. The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the government to prepare SOPs (standard operating procedures) to dispose of these claims, so that the final draft can be published by 31st December this year. Opposition parties may not trust the government, they may not trust the BJP, but they should at least trust the apex court, and instead of politicizing the issue, they should wait for the final publication.

There are no two opinions among major political parties that illegal migrants and foreigners should be detected and sent back, and yet there are no two opinions that almost all political parties are trying to gain political advantage from this issue.

The Congress and TMC believe that those whose names are missing are their supporters, and they are trying to project the entire exercise as anti-Muslim. The BJP, on the other hand, is raising the issues of national security and national resources. Since this is an emotional issue, the BJP believes that this will benefit the party in electoral terms. But to say that people from other states settled in Assam are being identified and will be thrown out, or to say that similar demands for preparing NRC in other states may arise, is not correct. This is not an issue between states. This issue relates to the detection of foreigners staying illegally in India. BJP President Amit Shah is right in alleging that efforts are being made to divert public opinion from the main issue, and some parties are trying to create an atmosphere of fear.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been warning of ‘bloodbath’ and ‘civil war’. She is alleging that efforts are being made to divide the people in the name of NRC. This is politically incorrect, and untenable from the point of view of national security and peace. Mamata Banerjee should understand that if violence does take place, who will be held accountable for making such statements. She is an experienced leader and knows how intemperate remarks can cause harm to the nation.

There is no denying the fact that there are large number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants staying in her home state, West Bengal. Many of these illegal migrants have spread to Bihar, UP, Maharashtra and Delhi. There have been incidents in some states, where some of these illegal migrants carried out crimes and fled to Bangladesh.

Illegal migrants from Bangladesh can cause a big problem in future, and this has to be addressed soon. The Supreme Court has taken a hard decision, and all political parties should sit together and find out viable solutions for sending these foreigners back to their homeland, so that our own citizens get their rights over our national resources.

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