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VOL 2<ISSUE 12<FEBRUARY, 2013

INSIDE

Can Rahul be a game-changer ? SHREE MAA PRAKASHAN PVT. LTD.

Group Editor M.K. Tiwari Editor Vinod Varshney Executive Editor Dr. Bhagya Rajeshwari Ratna Assistant Editor Anjalika Rajlakshmi Campus Editor Adithi Sonali Cine Editor Meera Singh Special Correspondent A.K. Chaturvedi

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Regional Editor M.P. Aaditya Tewari Regional Editor C.G. Gopal Thawait

12 Quarterly Survey-I : Change of Time Demands Change of Guard! 22 North East : Meghalaya: Will Sangma Kiss Another Defeat?

Senior Graphic Designer Ashi Sinha

Tripura : CPM and its last bastion Nagaland : Wanted result of peace process 27 Madhya Pradesh : Local bodies poll makes BJP sit up & think 32 Uttar Pradesh : Mahakumbh without Shankaracharyas! 35 Himachal : Internal war increases in BJP

Regional Office Incharge Tamanna Faridi U.P.: B-121, 1st Floor, Prince Complex, Hazratganj, Lucknow-226001 Ph.: 0522-4003911 E-mail: lokayatlucknow@gmail.com M.P. : Paraspar Colony, Chunabhatti, Kolar Road, Bhopal-462003 Ph.: 0755-4030162 E-mail : lokayat01@gmail.com

36 Punjab : Generational Change in Akali Dal too 38 Jharkhand : A decade lost & still counting 42 Tamilnadu : Jyalalithaa shoots from her hip

18 Syria: No end to the strife in sight

46 Kerala : No end to Congress squabbles 48 Karnataka : Time for Congress to strike 48 Kerala : CPM--back to the basics 51 Andhra Pradesh: Congress again ignores T-sentiments 53 Odisha : Naveen adopts old winning formula 56 Campus : Delhi University to ape American system

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Rajnath Singh on hot seat again by default

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LETTERS

Form IV (Vide Rule 8) Lokayat (English Monthly) 1. Place of publication 2. Periodicity of its Publication 3. Printer's Name Whether Indian Resident (If foreign national mention Then write name of your country) Address

CHEMICAL CASTRATION Chemical castration of rapist is a good idea. When there is an over-shoot of sexuality then naturally they need medical treatment. But who would go to doctor for this on oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own. Moreover, this treatment should be given at an early stage, not after rape has taken place. There should be a medical system to figure out who needs this chemical castration. Balbir Rana, Shimla

SCIENTISTS HAVE NO SELF-RESPECT Scientistsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; bodies should be controlled, run and headed by scientists only. In this particular case of prime minister heading the Indian Science Congress Association as its general president is only an example that even professional bodies of scientists are losing their self respect. Just as entire country runs after politicians seeking favour small and big, scientists too think that they should not be an exception. Dr Y.C. Chatterjee, Kolkata

WHY QUOTA FOR JATS? What is this strange madness in the country! Even socially advanced people are

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4. Publisher's Name Whether Indian Resident (If foreign national mention Then write name of your country) Address

5. Editor's Name Whether Indian Resident (If foreign national mention Then write name of your country) Address

6. Names and addresses of individuals Who own the newspaper and partners Or shareholders holding more than one Percent of the total capital

: Delhi : Monthly : M.K. Tiwari : Yes : Not applicable : A-124, Pocket B Mayur Vihar, Phase II Delhi-110 091 : M.K. Tiwari : Yes : Not applicable : A-124, Pocket B Mayur Vihar, Phase II Delhi-110 091 : M.K. Tiwari : Yes : Not applicable : A-124, Pocket B Mayur Vihar, Phase II Delhi-110 091 : M.K. Tiwari (owner) Shree Maa Publication A-124, Pocket B Mayur Vihar, Phase II Delhi-110 091

I, M.K. Tiwari, hereby declare that the particulars given above are true to the best of my knowledge and belief. Sd. M.K. Tiwari Date: 1 February, 2013 (Editor, Printer & Publisher) demanding reservation. It seems the people have no respect for some laudable universal qualities like hard work and efficiency which should be the pre-condition for any job and position and not caste. But our politicians who are not true leaders but only power-seekers misguide the society. They cannot enlighten the society so that they raise reasonable demands. Alok Gaur, Lucknow

tters at E-mail your le ail.com, lokayat01@gm ail.com ho y@ tm vinodvarshne


WITH CANDOUR

NIELSEN’S SURVEY---AN ATTEMPT TO CONFUSE! ample just one single grain of rice from the cooker, and you can judge its entire lot whether fully cooked or not—so goes the proverb in Hindi. But this adage cannot be applied by electronic news media for judging the mood of people but they continue to do so just to increase their TRP. How can one assess the mood of electorate by talking to one individual or a limited section of people out of the 123 crore people of the country!

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It essentially seems a gimmick to increase the electoral temperature. Such TV gimmicks create a mirage which can send people and parties in delusion and illusion. Anna Hazare became victim of this--so also Baba Ramdev and Arvind Kejriwal. Anna was made to believe that Ralegaon Siddhi is the entire country. Surveys are used as patent ploy to run the propaganda mill. Sometimes they are so bereft of basic rationale of politics that their motive gets exposed. So no wonder, questions are being raised about the credibility of the latest AC Nielsen Survey on the mood of people. It is a fallacy to assume that media campaign can increase or decrease the number of seats of any party. The one-sided propaganda of the media taking cue from market research surveys ultimately sounds hollow and dubious. The fact of Indian politics, contrary to what surveys may say, is that both Congress and BJP could face strong political head-winds. By remaining one-sided, media simply compromises its credibility. It is ridiculous to predict that BJP would be the only beneficiary no matter what turn the political situation may take. This propaganda in fact can be suicidal to the BJP as it may descend its leaders and workers into complacence. The way NDA’s bright future is being linked to Narendra Modi reflects utter shortsightedness. The factors that are needed to keep NDA united are being ignored. Modi may be Messiah of Gujarat but he never came out of there. Then JD-U, an ally of the NDA, wants Nitish Kumar to be projected as the prime ministerial candidate. There is also lack of coordination between BJP and RSS. It has lost elections in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and lost government in Jharkhand also. The same may happen in Karnataka. Will it not impact the outcome of the next parliamentary elections? By making Rajnath Singh the party president, UP may become better for BJP--from 10 seats in 2009, it may score 20 out of the total 80. That’s all. BJP knows well the ground realities and therefore doesn’t want immediate elections no matter what AC Nielsen projected on TV channels. The statistics of Nielsen is like the crowd at JantarMantar, which dispersed without effecting any real change on the ground. A gathering of 8,000 people at Jantar-Mantar doesn’t represent the mood of 123 crore people. Moreover, the fundamental problem of Nielsen is that it can’t fathom the minds of poor of India that comprise 52 percent. Media’s habit of comparing Rahul with Modi is also fallacious. The great advantage of making Rahul Gandhi the vice president of the party is to ensure that it is not left rudderless. So far as changing the mood of youth is concerned it may not be such an easy task for him. To be successful in coming days in discharging responsibilities entrusted to him, he would need the support of people or advisors who have solid understanding of stark realities of politics. He would need a person who can urge him to respond to provocative issues in sober language. He may need the witty articulations of Digvijay Singh and Manish Tiwari who have proved their abilities to douse damagingly raging controversies.<

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PUB-TALK

‘Slap’ stick Mamata aving remained in the opposition and fought numerous street battles against the Left Front for years, the Trinamool Congress chief is still not reconciled to her new role as the ruling party leader and chief minister of West Bengal. Mamata Bannerjee seems to enjoy her aggressive postures—she revels in them-- and assiduously cultivates them. She gets immense pleasure in pulling down public icons, even the prime minister. She respects neither any Lakshman rekha nor does she have common niceties. In fact Mamata is a law unto herself, a separate, radical class. She may be frustrated at things not moving according to her perception-- she forgets that reality can often be far removed from irrational perceptions. She thinks railway fares need not be increased even after decades, even if it (railways) is starved of funds for development. She is against generating

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resources to run her government but wants fairly substantial assistance from the Centre as loan or grant for her state, though the Centre itself is struggling with fiscal constraints. If the prime minister does not respond or finds no merit in her logic ‘even after holding ten meetings with him’, she wonders about using rudeness. This is what she revealed in one of her public speeches: ‘I met the prime minister ten times on the issue of special assistance to West Bengal without any result. What am I to do now? Resort to beating? I’m ready to go to the bitter end for the sake of my people. But if I do, they’d call me a goonda’. At least she knows that it is improper for a chief minister to be known as a goonda. The chief minister has a reputation of playing to the gallery and a record of mimicking the

prime minister on television and using a language unfit even for guttersnipes. Perhaps she thinks these tantrums increase her TRP among her main constituency--menial log in Kolkata.<

BJP mein ‘Mard ka Dard’

o mard hota hai, use dard nahin hota (one who is a Man does not feel pain)--a hugely macho dialogue from Amitabh Bachchan movie ‘Mard’ which the erstwhile BJP president Nitin Gadkari quoted to sound a hero rather than a vanquished person hounded by income tax officials . Gadkari donned

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the role of Mard (man) and challenged the income tax officials who were out to find the sources of funding in his Purti group of companies. It is common for politicians to imitate populist dialogue delivery to regale flunkeys of society and look a manly hero. At a public meeting Gadkari held out the not so veiled threat that ‘these IT officials would not be spared when BJP came to power’. Was it a symptomatic despair, the kind expressed by Salman Khurshid not long ago when he challenged Arvind Kejriwal to visit his constituency and come back (alive)? To think that a man of Gadkari’s ranking who was deemed fit to lead as big a national party as the BJP for the second consecutive term (for which even the constitution of the party was forcechanged by the RSS,) should be speaking such gutter language! It dismays people who expect scrupulous

decency and decorum from their leaders. India needs leaders who would allow officials to do their bounden duty according to the law of the land rather than threaten them with dire consequences. But Gadkari swanked: Mard hoon, dekh loonga. I-T department yaad rakhe, BJP ki sarkar ayegi tab kahan jaoge...na Sonia rahegi na Chidambaram, bachane ke liye. He may be right in his assumption that he was being hounded by the UPA government as part of a political conspiracy to sullen his reputation and block his career but even then, very few decent people would agree, that he was right to speak the language he used. He should have remembered that he had been the president of a big national party which had once ruled in the country. One random thought : are BJP leaders suddenly losing their cool?<


PUB-TALK

Netaji ka Drama Chaloo Aahe amajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is a politician of fivestar shrewdness who can beat the lowly chameleon in speed of changing colour and perception on any issue convenient to him and do so with the aplomb of performing a great national service! One can recall his mastery of the art in its full finesse when he reversed his stand suddenly and declared that IndoUS nuclear treaty was perfectly in national interest, leaving all his political allies flabbergasted. Another example was his about-turn during voting in Parliament on FDI in multibrand retail when he led a clever walkout of his party members. This is not the only dubious merit in his character; recently he displayed another side of his multi-faceted personality—as an ace theatrical performer, a nautankibaaz. What else can one say of Netaji’s repeated expression of

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unhappiness over the functioning of his son’s government? By admonishing ministers and bureaucrats that they

must focus on ‘public interest’ rather than ‘self interest’, he was trying to leave the impression that all was not lost even if the Akhilesh government was not functioning well as there was ‘hum hoon na’! However, coldblooded political analysts think that he says so out of the worry that his son’s misgovernance would mar his lastever chance of becoming the prime minister totally. He expects a good number of seats for his party during the next elections. And if he gets 60 seats which he feels fairly sure of from UP, then according to his calculation nobody in the world can stop him from becoming the prime minister. So it is prudent to indulge in frequent cathartic utterances so that the public is not badly upset with his party. Whatever the motives, Netaji only sounds funny every time he speaks so.<

Sushma Ko Hua Kya, Re! ndian political circus has not one just one clown of the Mamata type. The new aspirant to the cap is Sushma Swaraj of the BJP. She left Mamata yaaards behind by that ‘ten Pakistanis’ heads for one Hemraj’ demand that rocked the gallery that is India with shame and abhorrence. In fact it was a stumping demand! One is inclined to ask if there was a competition for sounding macho among women politicians. Sushma supporters say she represented Durga of Indian mythology when she sought that capital revenge. No Sushma, no! Even our simple jawans, let alone starred generals, will not relish this bravado. We cannot forget our culture, our tradition even in face of extreme provocation. Beheading of soldiers is a heinous act which we can leave to the Nadir Shahs of history. It is against international code of ethics and conventions. But some BJP leaders

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have a penchant to utter any nonsense no matter how ridiculous and damaging it is to the country’s image. One remembers late Delhi politician Madan Lal Khurana challenging Pakistan to a single combat any time anywhere after India and subsequently Pakistan publicly flexed their nuclear muscle as though nuclear nations should indulge in wrestling matches like in a local akhara. One also remembers Sushma’s famous vow to shave off her head and eat parched chana throughout the rest of her life if Sonia ever sat on the prime minister’s gaddi. No Sushma, we have high expectations of you, and we do not anticipate unbecoming and utterly foolish remarks like these from a potential prime ministerial candidate. We do not want you to compete with Mamata at any level; we do want you to maintain dignity and decorum for which you were always known.<

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

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COVER STORY

Rahul doesn’t have a magic wand and it would be foolish and unrealistic to expect miracles from him. The road is fraught ahead with challenges.

CAN RAHUL BE A GAMECHANGER? By Abha Sharma

he inordinately long suspense about Rahul Gandhi’s coronation is finally over. The Congress party’s Chintan Shivir in Jaipur in midJanuary made the final curtain-call and delegates returned home feeling extremely happy. The hitherto reluctant but wannabe prime ministerial candidate of the 127year-old party at last gave in to the persistent demands of admirers, sycophants and opportunists who looked to him to save the country (and party) from an inexorable slide down to decay and disaster. No wonder what hogged the limelight at the Shivir was not the Jaipur Declaration touching on vital national issues, but Rahul’s maiden address to the party gracefully accepting the crown. It was in fact a momentous ceremony anointing him as the next prime minister, if the UPA returned to power in 2014.

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As it turned out, the event had a perfect photo finish. As soon as the resolution making Rahul vice president of the Congress was passed, he rose like a valiant knight in shining armour and delivered the prepared speech that stirred and thrilled the jam-packed congregation. He seemed to light a beacon that illuminated the road ahead for the beleaguered party. It did not matter that part of his address was critical and even searing about the functioning of the party! The overall effect was, however, mesmerising and euphoric. Naturally there were cheers, tears and ecstatic ovation from the audience… Rahul’s elevation to No 2 position in the Congress, however, was no surprise. For a party running on Nehru-Gandhi aura, it was almost a foregone conclusion. It only needed to be proclaimed with great fanfare at an event like the Chintan Shivir, to enthuse the party workers. What is perhaps crucial is how it will play out in 2014 (or even

PHOTO: PTI


COVER STORY

Jaipur Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi at the inaugural session of the partys three-day Chintan Shivir in Jaipur

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COVER STORY

Chintan or Chinta: Congress has a Tough Road Ahead

hat was the purpose of the Congress Party’s Chintan Shivir? Was it really ‘introspection over the strengths and weaknesses of the party’ as UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said in her inaugural address? Or was it less Chintan and more Chinta (concerns) over the ‘threats’ the party faces -- threat of waning popularity, of sinking vote bank, of unfulfilled middle class dreams and the hurt and anger of the youth-- and the need to grab opportunities. While more than 300 leaders discussed political, social and economic issues rounding off with the Jaipur Declaration, there was absolutely no mistake that the main intent behind the big show was to install Rahul on the throne. The real purpose became loud and clear when Sonia in her clipped speech said: ‘We cannot allow our growing educated youths and middle classes to be disillusioned and alienated from the political process.’ The party which used to proudly proclaim that ‘Congress ka hath, aam admi ke sath’, for the first time sounded wary of the middle class, obviously due to the rising anger among them against the government. Jaipur Declaration indicated a clear tilt towards the vote bank, considered to be a traditional supporter of the BJP. Rahul Gandhi’s opening remarks were also a candid reminder of the fierce challenge the party might face in the electoral battle in 2014 from the youth and urban India. The Jaipur Chintan was different in at least two respects from the previous two conclaves the party had in Shimla in 1998 and Pachmarhi in 2003. The Congress was out of power on both occasions. The Jaipur Chintan was held at a time when the UPA had been in power for almost nine years. Given that assembly elections are due in nine states this year and the 2014 Lok Sabha polls are not very far off either, it was perhaps the most opportune time for a serious political review. For the first time, the Chintan had participation of the younger generation and the young brigade felt obliged to Rahul for the initiative. UPA chairperson asked all the delegates to ‘speak their mind’. She said the speakers should be ‘free and frank’ in their opinion.<

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Congress needs better social networking any participants, preferring anonymity said social networking was a major concern for the party. It was not as ‘assertive’ as the Opposition in this respect and efforts were needed to improve the score. Even prime minister Man Mohan Singh admitted that the UPA’s ‘communication strategies’ were not that effective. It was a candid admission. But who is to blame as top leaders maintained a calculated silence on major issues at all times. Sonia Gandhi hardly spoke to the media; Rahul had always been reticent and the media loved to call the prime minister as Dr ‘Maun’ Mohan Singh.<

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before) and Rahul lives up to the great expectations of his party men, particularly the youth. Will the fortunes of the Congress and the country really change with Rahul Gandhi taking charge as the party’s vice-president? For the road ahead is fraught with serious challenges. He has little time before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and even lesser time for the assembly elections in nine states, scheduled this year. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is the unchallenged leader of the Congress party; so what is of consequence is not the position Rahul holds but the role he is expected to play in the future politics of India. He does not have a magic wand and it would be unrealistic, even foolish to expect miracles from him. That is, if one goes by his lacklustre record so far, despite his sincere effort. Though his speech apparently impressed the young and old alike, it stated plain truths and pointed out weaknesses of the Congress party, one cannot resist from making a dispassionate analysis of his speech. He spoke about lack of accountability in public life, about bane of centralisation and about voiceless people suffering in deafening silence. He showed concern that youths were alienated from the political class. While mediocrity worried him, he was also pained by the pervasive hypocrisy. He said answer to current problems lay not in running down but transforming the system. He was overly optimistic about the country’s future because the necessary building blocks are in place. He highlighted the achievements of the UPA government and mentioned Aadhar as a revolutionary step. It was a beautiful speech well delivered with right pauses and emphases and perfect modulation of voice. It also had ample emotional appeal. The result was spontaneous cheers and sobs. Acknowledging the gravity of illness existing in the system, he spoke about the tendency to overlook block committees’ views while distributing tickets and ‘airdropping’ of candidates from outside. But he did not reveal a roadmap, if any, for ‘transforming’ the system. He said that ‘performers should be moved forward’. Is he


COVER STORY really in a position to ensure that performance or merit would override caste, region and other factors? He assured that he would be a ‘judge’ not a ‘lawyer’ and see one and all equally. So the youngsters need not expect him to plead their case. He, however, would carry forward their ‘voice’. One thing is certain. Now that he is No 2, Rahul cannot continue to be reticent on the multitude of problems. He will have to come out of his silent mode and speak his mind. He has already missed two great opportunities to relate to the people, especially the young, who mobilised against corruption during the Anna Hazare campaign and during the Delhi gang rape incident when there were angry protests all over the country. He could have ensured a fine niche for himself if he had stood up on these occasions. As representative of a mass party, and expected to run the country if the UPA returned to power in 2014, he should be able to inspire people. Other than delivering welldrafted speeches and moving the audience to tears, he has to show his calibre in dealing with the harsh realities of politics. Rahul may be well-meaning and sincere but he must also introspect on the contents of his speech, or the paradoxes, so to speak. He is very much part of the system he disparaged so much in his speech. Delivering a critique alone is not enough: he has to have clear vision and direction. ‘Power is pure poison’, the only antidote is don’t chase it. His mother has shown by example that she is not attached to it. Will he too toe the line? Or would he prove to be the legend’s Neelkanth for the sake of his party and acquire abilities to strike alliances with regional political parties and deal with all shrewd, crooked and demanding elements in the Indian polity?<

he young participants in the Jaipur Shivir were enthusiastic but many of them refrained from being quoted. They could not afford to be ‘free and frank’. Some better placed young leaders like Priya Dutt thought there was need to work on gender sensitisation and better social networking. She also felt that the Congress needed to have a better regional connection since difPriya Dutt ferent regions had different sets of problems. Many youngsters felt that the biggest challenge today was to regain people’s trust in politicians and political parties in general and the Congress party in particular. All young leaders (NSUI heads or former university presidents) felt obliged to Rahul for giving them a chance to attend the Chintan Shivir. Rahul Rai, head of the Bundelkhand Youth Congress in UP, told Lokayat that the credit for mobilising the youngsters indeed went to Rahul Gandhi.<

Young Voices not as free and frank!

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hanging times and growing voices on the streets forced Mrs Gandhi and Manmohan Singh to focus on issues like safety and security of women, corruption and social media in their respective addresses. One big controversial issue was, however, left to union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde. His well calculated ‘Hindu terror’ remark on the RSS and BJP was obviously to provoke the saffron party to defend its credentials. While it is widely believed that the fight in the next elections would Sushilkumar Shinde be Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi, the Congress would love to divert BJP’s energy in its own defence so that it (Congress) would be able to concentrate on minority votes. Shinde, however, sowed wind and reaped whirlwind. His remark attracted widespread criticism especially in the light of the Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s demand to declare India a ‘terrorist state’. Even moderate Hindus felt it too crude a statement which perhaps forced the party to dissociate itself from it.<

Shinde’s Remark

eepa Das Munshi was straightforward in asking the UPA not to go for alliances with regional parties. She said coalition compulsions need to be taken care of but that did not mean that the Congress party should get riff-raff as allies. She said the experience in West Bengal, Bihar, Tamilnadu and Maharashtra proved her point. She specifically urged Mrs Gandhi not to seek alliance with the Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerji in 2014. Her word of advice for the party supremo was ‘Ekla Chalo Re’, not to surrender the party’s identity in the name of coalition compulsions.<

Ekla Chalo Re

Deepa Das Munshi

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t is indeed a tough road ahead for the Congress party, though it is not any easy for the BJP either. Both have severe internal problems and important poll strategies to sort out. The Congress is hoping that schemes like MGNREGA and direct cash transfer of entitlements will turn the tide in its favour. Pre-poll coalition and post-poll adjustments can also be troublesome. So if the Congress goes by Rahul Rahul Gandhi Gandhi’s views, it needs to focus on long-term strategies instead of shortterm gains. He said there was need to ‘transform’ the system. Even when people are continuing street protests, corruption remains unabated, there is no let up in price rise and women feel insecure. There is, thus, a lot to be done. An optimistic Rahul has vowed to devote all his time for the party. Possessing ‘the DNA of Hindustan’, he hopes he will be able to make a difference soon. Unfortunately tangible success in any sector has eluded him so far. For the Congress, it is a long and bumpy road ahead. His party expects from him a viable political strategy to help the party romp home in 2014 and find solutions to the country’s numerous, complex problems. The people of India are waiting…..<

Strategies for 2014

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QUARTERLY SURVEY-I

CHANGING TIMES DEMAND CHANGE OF GUARDS? The political atmosphere in the country is abuzz with gossip and speculation as both people and parties have started discussing the possible outcome of the next Lok Sabha elections. Everyone is asking the million dollar question— who will be the toast of the year 2014 —Modi, Rahul or someone else? Lokayat tried to gauge the mood of the people at the grassroots level by its roaming team through the quarterly survey. The conclusion of the team which visited Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh between October 15, 2012 and January 15, 2013 are presented here. By Lokayat Team

he New Year wish of politicians in Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh is fragrant with the desire for electoral success. They do not want any scope for defeat. Stakes are evenly divided for the two major national

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parties— the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party-- as Delhi and Rajasthan have Congress governments, while Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are ruled by the BJP. When we look back we find that 2008 had witnessed a change of government only in Rajasthan, not in any of the others. What will happen this time?

On the eve of the 2014 parliamentary poll, assembly election results in these four states assume special significance as neither the BJP, nor the Congress appears to be in a position to form a government at the Centre on its own, but even to attract parties for post-poll alliance, the number should come to a take-off level. After Rajiv Gandhi each government at the Centre has been a coalition one, surviving on the support of many smaller parties. Hindi speaking states are of paramount importance in the formation of the government at the Centre. But both the Congress and BJP are not in good shape in UP and Bihar, which send very large contingents of MPs. In the last assembly elections the Samajwadi Party (SP) captured UP, and the Bihar state was taken over by the JD-U. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was, however, not far behind in proving its mettle in UP. Just as political parties and their activities among the people have proliferated, the exercise to read the mood of rural and urban voters by psephologists have also improved. The Lokayat team examined electoral strategies of various parties to mobilise people below the poverty line and also the line-up of various caste configurations, who add up to almost 35 percent of the total vote share. Votes of ideologically distinct parties make up just 20 percent; and 15 percent comes from relatives of people enjoying various political and government patronages due to posts and positions they occupy, especially at the lower level. Another totally new factor this time is the emergence of the restive and vocal middle class that constitutes rest of the 30 percent voters comprising businessmen, service class and professionals. The complex calculations indicate that the electoral benefits of parties ultimately seem to come from effective implementation of various development plans and projects.<


QUARTERLY SURVEY-I

DELHI: WILL IT BE SHEILAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S WATERLOO THIS TIME?

2013 FIGURES ARE ESTIMATES ON THE BASIS OF LOKAYAT SURVEY

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2008: 43 2013: 37

BJP

2008: 23 2013: 28

BSP

2008: 02 2013: 03

OTHER

2008: 02 2013: 02 Total seats : 70

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit

elhi where elections may be held in November has 70 Assembly seats. The Congress party under Sheila Dikshit has been winning every election in the last 15 years. But it is going to be tough for her to repeat the performance for the fourth time as numerous hurdles appear on her victory march. In the last one year the Union Territory has seen several wellorganised protests reminding the Spring revolution in the Middle East. Wideranging issues from mega-corruption at high places, bringing back black money stashed abroad, demand for Janlokpal bill, gang-rape of a medical student who died in Singapore, bringing FDI in multibrand retail, price rise of essential food items and diesel, increase in electricity tariff etc., given 24 x 7 TV coverage and watched by an absorbent people who normally remained confined to their drawing room, certainly must have agitated their moral psyche. Besides, Arvind Kejriwal has formed the Aam Aadmi Party, Anna Hazare has set up the Jantantra Morcha and Baba Ramdev is in the process of floating yet another organisation. These new icons of protest have had profound appeal to the people who normally would not

INC

(General seats: 58; Reserved for SCs 12)

care. All this would impact the forthcoming elections in Delhi. How much impact the high voltage protests at Ramleela Maidan, Jantar Mantar and India Gate had on the electorates of Delhi and other parts of the country will be tested first in the forthcoming four assembly elections. So far as Delhi is concerned the BJP is the second-most powerful political force. It was ruling Delhi before the Congress came to power 15 years ago. The BJP currently is running all three municipal corporations of the capital city. No doubt there is a world of difference between municipal and assembly elections; purely local issues predominate civic poll, while a lot of other, more serious matters are raised during assembly elections. In 2008, the sealing of commercial establishments in residential areas the city launched by the MCD after getting Supreme Court directive and temporary regularisation of illegal colonies by the Sheila government helped the Congress to return to power for the third time, but now inflation, corruption, inflated electricity bills and other local issues are powerful enough issues to dent the electoral prospects of the Congress. Though the wily chief minister has

again played the trick of regularisation of illegal colonies and also decided to sanction 12 LPG cylinders to BPL card holders (while the Centre has capped it at six) to win back voters. According to the survey done by the Lokayat team, the Congress and the BJP are neck to neck so far as points measuring popular support are concerned. There is no doubt that the popularity graph of the party has come down somewhat during the last few years. There are, of course, innumerable imponderables which can change the scenario. The final picture as to whether Sheila Dixit would bounce back to power or not, therefore, would be clear only by June-July. Out of 41 Assembly seats that went to the Congress in 2008, it won 15 with margin of just 1,0005,000 votes. Similarly, out of 23 seats that the BJP won last time, it snatched nine from the Congress by similar margins. Thus a shift of tiny percentage of votes can dramatically change the electoral outcome. Last year in civic elections, the BJP improved its performance. But past performance cannot be a true indicator for the next elections as things have changed a lot and fast. Even a small incident can make or mar the overall electoral performance of either party. <

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

13


QUARTERLY SURVEY-I

RAJASTHAN: BJP CAN INCREASE SEATS, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO CAPTURE POWER

2013 FIGURES ARE ESTIMATES ON THE BASIS OF LOKAYAT SURVEY

INC

2008: 96 2013: 92

BJP

2008: 78 2013: 84

BSP

2008: 06 2013: 09

CPM

2008: 03 2013: 04

OTHER

2008: 17 2013: 11 Total seats : 200

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot

(General seats-141; Reserved for SCs-34, ST-25)

fierce electoral battle appears to be on the card between the Congress and the BJP for the 200seat Rajasthan Assembly. According to Lokayat survey, the saffron party may increase its tally but not enough to take it to the magic number. The Congress will thus score over, and form the government again if the current mood of voters continues till the polls. The ruling Congress may win 94 seats, while the Opposition BJP may get 86. And the BSP may bag eight. But the way politicking is gaining momentum and charges and countercharges are flying thick and fast, the situation may change substantially in coming nine months. Much will, however, depend on what success the government achieves in controlling food prices. The Congress, desirous of retaining power at the Centre would need to do a lot to ensure victory in a big state like Rajasthan. The BJP is pushing hard to take advantage of the

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anti-incumbency and to put up the same performance it had shown in 2003 when it won 120 seats, while the Congress had to contend with just 56 seats. The survey reveals that the CPM and the BSP too are slated to show better results. The humiliating defeat in 2008 still haunts the BJP. Stern decisions taken by former chief minister Vasundhara Raje and frayed tempers on caste-based reservation cost the BJP dearly then. Those memories have not faded fully from peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mind. This time around, the saffron party has crafted its strategy well, though the party is still plagued by the tussle between Raje and the RSS. This may ultimately prove disastrous for the party. The RSS is trying hard to stop Raje from coming back at the helm. In spite of this tension, the party is doing comfortably well in a number of seats. The survey team came back with the impression that in 27 seats the Congress was vulnerable, while the BJP appeared to be clearly trailing in 18. On the

remaining seats there would be a tough fight. The fate of the incumbent chief minister Ashok Gehlot will basically be decided not by his own acts of commission and omission but by the political tremors the tussle between the BJP and RSS may create in the state. The Congress is being viewed favourably among scheduled castes and Jats. The recent Chintan Shivir in Jaipur has resuscitated the Gehlot government which had been smarting under the snipes from his own partymen on several counts. The Jaipur Shivir has suggested measures to bridge the gap between the party and the disenchanted, angry and restless middle class. The Congress discussed in detail organisational issues, required policy changes, some new economic incentives needed to be given to people and the need to maintain relations with allies. How much of the Jaipur Declaration is implemented may definitely have a bearing on the performance of the party.<


QUARTERLY SURVEY-I he battlefield looks awesome for the Congress and the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. The BJP is facing anti-incumbency apart from the fact that 52 legislators are viewed negatively in their constituencies. The Congress too has 37 legislators who look a liability to the party. The 2003 election was a landmark fight in that the Congress was suddenly overwhelmed by the BJP. Congressmen had not anticipated that the saffron party under Uma Bharati would score such a thumping victory in that election. But in 2008, the Congress improved its tally by winning 71 seats. The election was fought after delimitation of constituencies which made caste configurations more balanced. But the BJP lost 11 seats with a margin of less than 1,000 votes and won 11 seats by a margin of less than 2, 000 votes; another 11 seats were won by less than 4,000 votes. Lokayat representatives travelling across Mahakoshal, Vindhya and Madhya-Bharat, covering 170 Assembly segments between December 25 and January 25, found that the scenario was changing fast. It looks the BJP may win 110 seats this time and the Congress 102 if the current mood persists till polling. Independents, rebel candidates of the Congress and the BJP and the feverish activities of the SP and BSP may also bring about changes in the electoral scene. Madhya Pradesh has around 20 lakh new voters who are mostly youth. The Congress continues to lose its traditional votes. The process started when the Samyukta Vidhayak Dal government came into being 45 years ago, which was the result of dissensions within the party. Then owing to new caste combinations, the BSP and Gondwana Party successfully ate into the traditional vote banks of the Congress. A large chunk of voters belonging to SC and ST switched their preference in favour of these small political groups.

T

MADHYA PRADESH: BJP WILL HAVE TO WORK HARD TO RETAIN POWER 2013 FIGURES ARE ESTIMATES ON THE BASIS OF LOKAYAT SURVEY

BJP

2008: 143 2013: 111

INC

2008: 71 2013: 103

BSP

2008: 07 2013: 09

OTHER

2008: 09 2013: 07 Total seats : 230

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan

(Reserved seats for SC--35; Reserved seats for ST—47)

The weak spots in the party, which were the result of groupism in Vindhya, Mahakoshal and Madhya-Bharat, are showing disturbing trends now. Central minister Kamalnath’s influence is mostly confined to his parliamentary constituency. Jyotiraditya Scindia has huge following in Madhya-Bharat while Suresh Pachauri and Kamalnath have good standing in Mahakoshal and Srinivas Tiwari has good support in Vindhya region. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is popular in rural areas though issues relating to water and roads demand his urgent attention. He runs a good publicity machine at ground level. Only 10 percent projects, announced by the state government, have been taken up for execution. The chief minister is distracted by some

disgruntled elements within the party. The BSP and SP have divided the SC and Muslim votes in Vindhya and Madhya-Bharat regions. The Gondwana Party is active in Mahakoshal. The survey says, if the Congress gets united under the leadership of Digvijay Singh, the party can snatch power again just as it did in Himachal Pradesh. The two-time chief minister Digvijaya Singh has good following in all the three regions--Vindhya, Madhya-Bharat and Mahakoshal. In 2008, the BJP got just 5.24 percent more votes than the Congress, its nearest rival. Lokayat’s survey reveals that the Congress is well-placed to make up this gap. It has good following especially in tribal areas while the BJP and the BSP maintain their support base intact among SCs.<

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

15


QUARTERLY SURVEY-I

CHHATTISGARH: DR RAMAN SINGH’S CHARISMA WILL BE ON TEST 2013 FIGURES ARE ESTIMATES ON THE BASIS OF LOKAYAT SURVEY

BJP

2008: 50 2013: 45

INC

2008: 38 2013: 42

BSP

2008: 02 2013: 03 Total seats : 90

(Reserved seats for SC--35; Reserved seats for ST—47) Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh

hhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000 and at that time MP had a Congress government. After formation of the new state, Chhattisgarh also got a Congress government. But the first election after the division held in 2003 proved disastrous for the Congress with the BJP coming to power with no strong opposition from the oldest party of the country. Ajit Jogi, then chief minister of the state started sidelining top leaders of the Congress in the state. To remain the sole Congress authority in the state, he used to complain to the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi causing many committed workers either to leave the party or become inactive. But sycophants hovered around in droves. During the period from 2003 to 2008, thanks to Jogi’s destructive strategy, the party disintegrated further. No wonder the BJP got the opportunity to seize

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power. Dr Raman Singh’s sagacity and maturity contributed immensely in putting the party firmly in the driver’s seat. On the other hand, Jogi continued doggedly in his perceptions. He has no hold worth the name in tribalpredominant areas though he does have some following among the SCs. There is an incumbency factor against the BJP government but several remedial measures like creation of nine new districts and implementing of the Food Security Act have improved the position at the ground level. Dr Raman Singh has deployed NGOs to execute projects in rural areas and these have generated much goodwill for him. In fact Dr Singh has been taking many steps for the electorates’ benefits during the last eight months. Block-level manthan shivirs have generated some electoral enthusiasm in the Congress too. Ajit Jogi, who claims to be a member of Sonia Gandhi’s kitchen

cabinet, is still found involved in creating confusion and disorientation among party workers. The issue of verifying the alleged fake caste certificate of Jogi is pending with the government. The Supreme Court had ordered a high powered committee to inquire into the issue in October 2011, but no action has been taken by the state government yet. The indifference shown by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research Department in the matter has raised serious doubts in people’s mind. Chhattisgarh has 90 Assembly seats. The Lokayat Survey Team visited 70 which fall in rural areas. Conclusion of the Team is that at least 32 BJP MLAs have lost confidence of the electorate, while 22 Congress MLAs are patently unpopular in their respective constituencies. Presently the Congress has 39 and the BJP has 49 MLAs, while the BSP has just two. Tribal dominated areas in the Bastar and North Sarguja regions show some changes at the grassroots level. The Congress is vigorously campaigning in five out of 12 seats in Bastar region. The efficient leadership of Raman Singh and his cordial relationship with the party high command have curbed dissidence and the demand for tribal chief minister in the state. In 2003 the BJP was able to secure just 2.55 percent more votes than the Congress. In 2008, this margin got reduced to just 0.51 percent. The BJP contested all 90 seats whereas the Congress put up candidates only in 87. In January 2013, over 880,000 new voters have been added to the electoral roll and they will be crucial in deciding the destiny of either party.<


WORLD

CARE-TAKER GOVT TO OVERSEE PAK POLLS This is a rare political development in Pakistan: a civilian government for the first time will complete its full term. It augurs well and shows that democracy is taking roots in Pakistan. To make general elections fair and credible they will be held under an interim government.

Interim government, a novel move

By Shailbala

ith the all-powerful Supreme Court ordering 14th general elections as planned in May, decks appear clear to hold parliamentary elections in Pakistan, where rumours were abuzz that the army with the active support of the judiciary wanted to force the seemingly corrupt and inefficient civilian government out first and then take over the reins. But it seems, by sticking to the schedule an elected civilian government in Pakistan will be completing its full term for the first time since independence in 1947. The intense fight between the Supreme Court and the civilian government, first under the former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and now under the present PM Raja Parvez Ashraf, had almost made it tough for the government to go ahead with the election. The religious fire-brand leader Muhammad Tahirul Qadri’s fierce political movement only added to the woes of the Asif Ali Zardari’s government. Assassination of politician Bashir Bilour and disagreement among regional and national political forces had added to uncertainty about elections. Besides, the Taliban and AlQaeda-affiliated groups have made their presence felt in several regions,

W

Muhammad Tahirul Qadri’s street protests ensured that elections are held in time in Pakistan

creating a fear psychosis among political establishments. Despite all these troubles, elections if held as announced, augur well for the tenuous democratic process in the country. The new government may prove to be more mature in nature, unlike the present one which came into power riding the sympathy wave following the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and controlled by Asif Ali Zardari, who is facing several grave corruption charges.

To ensure free and fair elections all electoral work will be undertaken by an interim government which will take charge from the incumbent government. The ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has decided in principle to have non-political personalities as caretaker prime minister and four provincial chief ministers, rather than have retired military officers or retired judge for these jobs. Earlier, Ishaq Dar was in line to be announced as caretaker PM following a deal between the PPP and the PML-N of Nawaz Sharif. But things are not yet clear. The government has decided to dissolve the state assemblies by midFebruary for holding elections in May. The impartial role of the army is being hailed by politicians and people alike, as Gen Ashfaq Kayani has made his stand clear that he wants to strengthen democracy in the country and act as a pressure group to make the corrupt political class more accountable to the people. However, when it comes to the role of the Army, nothing can be predicted. The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half of its 66 years as an independent nation, has not hidden its disdain for the government of President Asif Ali Zardari, but has said it does not wish to seize power this time round.<

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

17


WORLD

SYRIA: NO END TO THE STRIFE IN SIGHT

Syria has been facing armed conflict for the last 22 months in which more than 60,000 citizens have been killed and over 600,000 have fled the country. While the rest of the world gets to know little of Syria’s fiercest civil war, western powers maintain that they will not interfere directly in the strife-torn country to normalise the situation.

President of Syria Bashar al-Assad

An estmated 60,000 civilians were killed in the oust Bashar al- Assad movement in Syria. The government warplanes bombed the Alleppo

By Prof M.R. Dua

mong the numerous regions in the world today where there is armed conflict, Syria is perhaps one of the most serious. Hardly a day passes without killings because of bombs, murders, terrorist strikes and firing on protesters and insurgents by state security agencies. Variously termed as an

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uprising, civil war, insurgency and rebellion, Syria’s fiercest civil war has unfortunately not received so far the international attention that it deserves. According to sources in the United Nations, in the 22-month-long violence and strife, more than 60,000 Syrians have been killed, over 600,000 have fled the country and some 10 million have lost their homes and are now living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries like Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and

Yemen. Syrian forces are not letting go of the situation and continue to target rebels. Warplanes, reportedly belonging to Ba’ath Party chief and President Bashar al-Assad’s government, are destroying civilian markets and offices almost daily. In retaliation, the ‘Oust Bashar alAssad Movement’, which took a cue from Tunisia’s famous ‘Arab Spring’ of 2010 is reported to be gaining


WORLD

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university killings 82 and injuring 162 students

momentum but the international community has done nothing concrete to extend any solid support to this popular movement. Tunisiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Arab Springâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; of 2010 is said to have originally fired and inspired Syrian youthsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; opposition to the 44-year-old family regime of Bashar alAssad (Bashar al-Assadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s father Hafiz al-Assad had seized power in 1970. Since then the Assad family has ruled Syria uninterruptedly). Ironically, even reliable reports

about this movementâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s progress are not available outside the country as accredited media persons are not allowed to enter Syria. Whatever scanty information is available comes via social networks, blogs, cell phones and videos uploaded on the internet. Stray efforts made by the Arab League, the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and countries from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation too have yielded no results so far.

The trigger for protest The trigger for the protest came from an unusually ugly incident in Damascus on January 26, 2011, in which one youngster, Hasan Ali Akleh, immolated himself. He was protesting against the government for some unknown grievances. This was followed by a massive public protest and in an attempt to quell this protest the military lost two of its soldiers, thus heightening tensions and increasing the governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rigidness. Several violent events took place in quick succession: on March 6, government forces arrested two young boys who had painted slogans on walls saying â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;people want to overthrow the Assad regimeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. On March 15, many big towns, such as Aleppo, Daraya and Homs, witnessed widespread protests.

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181 1 14  5 4. On March 20, protesters burned down the Baâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ath Partyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s headquarters. The Assad government cracked down on the insurgents. Amidst growing protests the president did promise some political reforms, but he did not talk to the protesters. Meanwhile, the uprising continued to grow as serious shortages of essential food items further fuelled public anger.

Today, even fuel is not available easily. The opposition has been steadfast in its single demand of Assadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exit. May and June witnessed stiff resistance though military operations widened further. According to western media, shelling and machine gun fire are commonplace; children no longer reactâ&#x20AC;ŚHardened rebel fighters are increasingly coming under the influence of extremist Islamist groups and Damascusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s streets have been â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;reduced to rubbleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Assadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commanders â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;have long acknowledged that they find it difficult to hold the cities. In deadly attacks on January 15 last, at least 82 students were killed and 162 people wounded in two bombings by government warplanes on Aleppo University, north of the capital Damascusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;.

International reactions Many world leaders including US President Barrack Obama feel that the Syrian imbroglio can be sorted out only when Basar al-Assad steps down. However, Russia and China have firmly opposed this view. Russia â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;insists that Assadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exit cannot not be a pre-condition for a deal to end the conflictâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Russia, which has been Assadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;most powerful international supporterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, has joined hands with China â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;to block the three western and Arabbacked UN Security Council resolution intended to pressure him (Assad) to relinquish powerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. According to analysts, Russian President Vladimir Putin â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;wants to prevent the US from using military force to oust the Assad regimeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Most western governments insist that they will not intervene directly in the country while the US is adamant on Assadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exit, but will â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;intervene militarily if the Syrian regime resorts to chemical weaponsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. On their part, France and Britain have suggested to the 63member Revolutionary Opposition Coalition to form a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;government in exileâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, organise itself better, and then it can receive recognition and support from other governments. <

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

19


NATION

RAJNATH SINGH IN HOT SEAT By denying Nitin Gadkari’s re-election for the second term and accepting Rajnath Singh as the new party chief, the BJP has just managed to wriggle out of a politically difficult situation at the last minute. With greater foresight things could have been managed better had Gadkari himself opted out of the contest much earlier. By Anjalika Rajlakshmi

ajnath Singh’s compromise elevation to the top party post caps a period of big political turbulence within the BJP, which was badly divided on the issue of Gadkari’s re-election as president for the second time. To facilitate Gadkari’s re-election the RSS had even forced the BJP to amend the party constitution. But by not going through the treacherous process the BJP saved itself from a suicidal situation before the next Lok Sabha elections. Rajnath Singh is an experienced leader--had a stint as chief minister of UP, a union minister in Vajpayee’s cabinet and the national party president once before. He had handed over the baton to Gadkari in December 2009. But in a sudden and dramatic lastminute twist Gadkari, facing allegations of dubious funding of his Purti group, was forced out of the race and he gave the baton back to Rajnath who emerged as the consensus candidate. Advani, along with many other leaders, was strongly against giving Gadkari a second chance and had floated the name of Sushma Swaraj for

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Newly elected BJP President Rajnath Singh is offered sweets by his predecessor Nitin Gadkari after the election process at party headquarters in New Delhi

Who Convinced Bhagwat? ho convinced adamant Mohan Bhagwat, Sarsanghchalak of RSS, to drop the idea of giving Nitin Gadkari a second chance? The general impression is that it was because of pressure from Delhi group under the guidance of patriarch Lal Krishna Advani who from the very beginning had opposed the idea and wanted a seasoned political person to head the party when crucial elections were ahead. An

W

equally strong view is that the Income Tax Department’s raid on the premises of Gadkari’s business associates played the critical role in changing Bhagwat’s mind. There are a number of young RSS leaders like D Hosabale, Manmohan Vaidya, Krishna Gopal

the post, but she declined to enter a contest. She wanted a unanimous choice. Then Yashwant Sinha came forward to contest against Gadkari. Arun Jaitley wanted Venkaiah Naidu but he was vetoed by Sushma Swaraj. The RSS’s second choice was Rajnath Singh, who initially did not find favour

with Advani. But Sushma finally convinced him. Thus Rajnath happens to be the BJP chief for the second time. How Rajnath Singh will reshape the BJP to counter the Congress’ charm offensive remains to be seen. The Thakur from Chandauli has a tough task cut out for him. The 61-year-old veteran


NATION

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and R Balashankar etc who can convince Bhagwat how Gadkari could harm the party which has taken up corruption at high places as a major electoral issue. Many people feel that the UPA government through its Income Tax raids just before his nomination saved both Gadkari and the BJP from a sticky situation.<

is known to be a dynamic leader and his previous stint as party president had several successes but the defeat in UP in 2007 and later in the Lok Sabha poll in 2009 shore off his sheen. Many a time, with RSS blessings, he adopted hardline approaches, but political analysts know how this attitude gave rise to

factionalism in the party, the main reason why the BJP lost the 2009 elections. Rajnath Singh now has an uphill task of making himself electorally relevant. Political analysts believe that he will have to strike a balance between the ambitions of Narendra Modi on the one hand and pressure from the Delhi group comprising Advani, Sushma, Yashwant Sinha and Jaitley on the other. It is well known that he could not get along well during his first term either with Narendra Modi or with Kalyan Singh who has recently rejoined the BJP.

Power struggle within BJP One thing that comes out loud and clear amidst this power struggle within the BJP is that on some issues at least the party can assert itself against the dictates of the RSS. This is a healthy sign for a party which is criticised for being micro-managed by the RSS through Gadkari. Though the RSS had Gadkari again as its first choice for a second term, his tenure just ended remained more controversial and lacklustre than that of Rajnath Singh’s. The BJP lost elections in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. He botched up party affairs in Jharkhand and Karnataka. Jharkhand is already lost and soon Karnataka may

also follow suit. In UP the party’s show last year was shabby. His decision to induct the tainted BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha exposed him as a poor strategist. After taking over BJP’s reins from LK Advani in December 2005, Rajnath Singh sought to rebuild the party’s fortunes by focusing on basic Hindutva ideology. His stint at the party’s helm saw the BJP scoring some high points -it captured power in several states and also installed its first-ever government in Karnataka creating history by hoisting the saffron flag in the South as the ruling party. However, he not only failed to steer the party to power in the 2009 general elections, the BJP’s poll tally dropped by 22 seats compared to the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

Rajnath versus Kalyan Singh again In the faction-ridden UP unit of the party, Rajnath’s rivalry with many senior leaders including BJP vicepresident Kalraj Mishra is well known. Kalyan Singh, who merged his Jan Kranti Party with the BJP a few days ago, does not enjoy cordial relationship with Rajnath Singh. UP is most important for the BJP to regain power in Delhi in 2014. With Kalyan Singh back in the BJP, he could pose problems for Rajnath though some in the state BJP feel that he (Kalyan) is now ‘too weak to take on Rajnath or for that matter any one.’ Rajnath Singh’s past record in UP, however, is not very bright. Under his leadership, the BJP fought the 2007 Assembly polls and lost heavily. Rajnath Singh's new innings will go on till 2015. But before anything else he has to lead the party in crucial assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi this year itself. He would also have to pilot the party during the next Lok Sabha elections.<

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

21


NORTH-EAST

MEGHALAYA: WILL SANGMA KISS ANOTHER DEFEAT IN HIS OWN STATE? Three north-eastern states have just come into political spotlight with Tripura going to the poll on 14 February and Nagaland and Meghalaya later on 23rd. Counting will take place on 28 February. With immensely complex and conflicting ethnic interests in full play out here, the outcome is unpredictable even by seasoned political pundits. The Congress may claim to have an upper hand in all three states but evidently it has a bumpy road ahead.

PA Sangma quit the NCP when it refused to support his candidature for the presidency. He has now formed the National Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Party to take on the Congress in the Meghalaya Assembly elections.

By Umanath

mong the three northeastern states that will witness a fresh trial of strength and popularity of various political parties, the evocative rolling hills state of Meghalaya is the cynosure of all eyes. Here, Purno Agitok Sangma, former Lok Sabha Speaker who made an unsuccessful bid to reach the Rashtrapati Bhawan, has created a political ripple by floating a new outfit named â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;National Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Partyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; which will be a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). After NCP refused to back his presidential ambitions, he along with his sons and daughter had left it a while ago. Arguably the tallest leader of the entire north-east, PA Sangmaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision to form an alliance with the NDA has created an alarm among Congress poll managers and

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5 5 $54 6 + 9  9 1, -- 9 5g811 1 14 -/ 9 1g114. candidates in Meghalaya. It may be recalled that he had been the Congress chief minister of the state for about 2 years between 1988 and 1990. To be frank, the Congress prospects look dim. In 2008 too,

though it did emerge as the largest single party, it could not form a government though its leader DD Lapang was invited by the Governor. He had to quit within 16 days because he did not want to seek a vote of


NORTH-EAST confidence. Later the government formed by Donkupur Roy of UDP lost its majority in 365 days. After 55 days of Presidentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rule Lapang again was called by the governor to form a government and this time he succeeded, but in less than a year the deputy chief minister Dr Mukul Sangma of his own party displaced him. The trouble facing the Congress now is not the redoubtable PA Sangma, but its own dissidents. There are allegations of manipulation in the distribution of tickets. In the process some well-known Congress aspirants have been denied tickets, and they have become rebels. It is alleged that most of the tickets have been given to protĂŠgĂŠs of chief minister Mukul Sangma, Meghalaya Pradesh Congress president DD Lapang and former union minister for state Vincent H Pala. The recommendations of the Block Congress Committees have been neglected with impunity, resulting in several strong aspirants jumping into the fray as independent candidates. Former State Mahila Congress general secretary Pelcy Snaitang has also been denied ticket, forcing her also to contest as a rebel candidate. Presidents and general secretaries of various local units resigned enmasse in many constituencies including Shella, Rambrai-Jyrngam, Mawthadraishan, Umroi, Gambegre, Baghmara, Bajengdoba and Kharkutta, where many ignored Congressmen threw in their hats as independents. Sources privy to developments within the Congress told Lokayat that the largest party of the state was facing the biggest internecine war and this was being choreographed by central leaders of the party in charge of the state. The state perennially faces the problem of being devoid of any credible and strong opposition party, as small political groups have always chosen to play second fiddle to the

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Performance of Parties

Meghal aya 2008

INC

25 32.90%

NCP

15 20.76%

UDP

11 18.37%

HSPDP

2 3.83%

KHNAM

1 4.43%

BJP

1 2.67%

IND

5 13.23%

Congress, rather than reinventing and re-invigorating by aligning among themselves. The NPP may make a difference this time. The woes of the Congress this time got deeper when deputy chief minister and working president of the United Democratic Party (UDP) Bindo M Lanong made sexist remarks against women members of the party. He said they always danced to the tune of party supremos. The UDP is the major partner of the Congress-led ruling â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Meghalaya United Allianceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in the state. If the voting percentage of the 2008 assembly elections is any guide, the Congress is the biggest political force. It had got 32.90 percent votes whereas the NCP (with PA Sangma in it) was at the second place with a voting percent of 20.76. The UDP got 18.32. The combined force of the UDP and the Congress is, therefore, formidable. The NCP may virtually be eliminated by the NPP of Sangma. It will be interesting to see what electoral inroad PA Sangma makes in this predominantly tribal state. Out of the 60 seats 55 are reserved for tribals. It may be remembered that PA Sangma had contested the presidential election by raising an emotional sectarian pitch of how long the tribal could be denied the presidency when Muslims and Dalits already had this honour. This old warrior is in a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;do or dieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; mode as after this political innings he is likely to pass on the baton to his sons and daughter. Sangma with his new political entity is making all kinds of tall claims. Since he is pitted against the formidable Congress-UDP front, he may fall short of a majority. But there is no doubt he has made the electoral scene exciting. The party at the moment appears set to contest at least 40 of the 60 seats. The newly floated party got a shot in the arm when 12 NCP legislators switched allegiance and joined the NPP. Its state president W Kharlukhi is ecstatic about the development.<

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

23


NORTH-EAST

32 top tribal leaders quit the Congress hirty-two top leaders of the Congress’ ST Cell left the party ostensibly angered by its electoral understanding with the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT). They include the party's tribal department chairman Phani Bhusan Bhowmik and general secretary Debabrata Koloi. Koloi, a former MLA of the Congress, claimed that the party’s tribal leaders like Pradyot Kishore Debbarman, Nirupama Chakma, Sanjit Reang and Rati Mohan Jamatia were denied tickets to contest the 2013 Assembly elections. These dissident tribal Congress leaders have fielded candidates in 21 assembly segments, including 18 reserved for the tribals. It may be noted that out of 60 Assembly seats, 20 are reserved for tribals.

T

Performance of Parties

T r i pur a 2008

CPI(M) INC

46 48.01 10 36.38%

INPT

1 6.21%

RSP

2 1.69%

CPI

1 1.48%

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| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013

TRIPURA: WILL CPM BE ABLE TO DEFEND ITS LAST BASTION?

Tripura CM Manik Sarkar arrives in Agartala along with supporters to file nomination papers as CPI(M) candidate for the forthcoming Assembly elections

he CPM-ruled state of Tripura, the third smallest state of the country, is drawing political analysts’ keen attention as the fate of left ideology in the country is going to be tested here after its historical defeat in West Bengal and cyclic eclipse in Kerala. With the CPM-led Left ruling the state, first time from 1978 to 1988 and again from 1993 till date, winning 49 seats out of 60 in the last assembly elections (held on 23 February 2008), everyone is asking whether this last remnant of the red citadel would survive the raging anti-left sentiments across the country. Tripura has strong Congress presence at the grass-roots level.

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Though it could win only 10 seats last time; its vote share was reasonably sound at 36.38 percent. Moreover the Congress had been in power in the state four times. The CPM overwhelmed the electoral outcome with 48.01 percent votes in 2008, but this time the task of romping home has become tough as the Trinamool Congress, ruling the neighbouring West Bengal, has chosen to opt out of the contest to facilitate Left Front’s rout even though the TMC and the Congress are sworn enemies now. Arun Chandra Bhowmick, the state unit chief of the Trinamool Congress, publicly announced that the party's decision not to contest the election was intended to ensure exit of the Left from Tripura also. The


NORTH-EAST Congress had already stitched a pre-poll alliance with its old partner Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT). The INPT has only one member in the assembly, but it has some following in the state. So this time the junior partner in the alliance has been allotted 11 seats. The Congress as usual is witnessing some protest from workers in certain seats; this has delayed its campaign a bit. Yet it appears to be out to do a repeat of 1988 when it along with its ally Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti had succeeded in toppling the Left Front. The Left Front is aiming for the third consecutive win and the fifth in the state. It had participated twice in the governments formed by the Congress for Democracy, as well as the Janata Party. Bijon Dhar, state secretary of the CPM which won 46 seats in 2008, claims to have learnt a lesson in maintaining healthy relationship with the people after the party’s crushing defeat in West Bengal, but Tripura State Congress Committee president Sudip Roy Barman brushes aside this optimism saying the people now want a political change in the state, as the Manik Sarkar government has miserably failed to live up to their expectations. The Congress, which has fielded as many as 20 new candidates, promises to give the party a fresh façade which it needs most at this juncture. The Left Front had secured 51.34 percent votes in 2008 and it would be a challenging task for the Congress to seek at least a 7.5 percent vote shift in its favour. But people know that Tripura normally follows developments in West Bengal, which means a change on the cards. Conscious of the threat, the CPM’s top leaders are actively campaigning, claiming that Tripura is the bestgoverned state in the country which ‘created history’ by launching a programme of giving rice to the poor at Rs 2 a kilo. It targeted the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for favouring corporates at the cost of the aam admi and said its policies would ruin Tripura if it came to power.<

NAGALAND: NAGAS HAD HOPED FOR CONCRETE RESULT FROM THE PEACE PROCESS BEFORE POLL

Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio, having made a path-breaking effort to solve the Naga problem, is looking for a decisive victory in the forthcoming elections

he political scene in Nagaland, the worst insurgency-affected state of the northeast region, wears a gloomy outlook. The reason is the incomplete Naga peace process which had acquired a sudden momentum a few months ago with the union government holding out hopes of solution of at least major issues before the assembly elections. Since this did not happen, there is a sense of deep dismay. The Naga sentiments can be understood from the demand Naga Hoho, apex body of Naga traditional organisations made to

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the Election Commission and the Governor Nikhil Kumar to defer the poll. Naga Hoho president Keviletuo Kiewhuo put Naga sentiments succinctly when he said that solution to Naga problem is more important than elections. Interestingly two days after the Naga Hoho demanded deferment, various national parties including the BJP reportedly told the prime minister to find a solution before elections if it was at all possible. This made the situation in Nagaland different from all previous election times when a lot of intense campaigning used

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

25


NORTH-EAST

Performance of Parties

The six-decade-old Naga insurgency agaland is the worst insurgency-hit state in the northeast. The two National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) groups--National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) --have been fighting for an independent Nagaland since the 1980s. The NSCN-IM and the Centre entered into a ceasefire agreement in August 1997, and more than 50 rounds of talks held to end one of South Asia's longest-running insurgencies that have taken a toll of more than 25,000 people since 1947. The peace process found some progress when the most vocal group, National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah, which was not willing to accept anything less than Greater Nagaland comprising several contiguous districts of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh merged in Nagaland, agreed to drop this impractical demand. Union home minister SK Shinde took active interest in seeking a solution before the assembly elections. He talked to chief ministers Ibobi Singh of Manipur, Nabam Tuki of Arunachal Pradesh and Tarun Gogoi of Assam, the stake-holders in the issue. The problem is, there are two more Naga insurgent groups—the rival Khaplang faction of the NSCN and Naga National Council-- which are opposed to the settlement being worked out with the Muivah group. Though the literacy level of Nagaland is 80.11 percent, it being a hilly state, road communication and overall development is tardy. It has no industries to generate jobs outside agricultural fields. The issue of development has been dangled before the intransigent Naga groups to drop their secessionist demands.<

N

26

| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013

Nagaland 2008

NPF

26 33.62%

INC

23 36.28%

BJP

2 5.35%

NCP

2 4.01%

IND

7 13.09%

participated with enthusiasm in past elections. To discuss issues with the centre they even formed a Joint Legislative Forum. But now these very leaders, of both the Congress and the Naga People’s Front, face inconvenient questions from voters. The Congress is again asking for votes saying it wants to move more seriously ahead on the issues. It is also making promises to bring prosperity to the state. S C Jamir, former chief minister is leading the Congress campaign, sparing no effort to showcase the efforts central leaders had made to convince neighbouring states to grant special category status to Nagas living there. The contest will be fierce in the state which has a very high literacy rate and where voter turnout is usually very high—86.19 percent in 2008 and 87.85 percent in 2003. Fifty nine seats are reserved for tribals in the 60member Assembly leaving just one seat for general category. The NPF had

By-elections in several states esides three state elections, the Election Commission will conduct byelections to nine assembly constituencies---Chalfilh (Mizoram), Bhatpar Rani (Uttar Pradesh), Nalhati Birbhum, English Bazar and Rejinagar (West Bengal) and Moga (Punjab) on 23 February and a day later in Algapur (Assam), Kalyanpur (Bihar) and Chandgad (Maharashtra).The results of these byelections will also be announced simultaneously with those of Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland on 28 February.<

B

to take place even amidst calls of boycott by insurgent groups. This time the campaigning is done in a subtle way as Nagas in many areas do not relish the idea of elections without the announcement of special rights to their people in neighbouring states. Continuous turbulence has been the fate of democracy in this state; so it was with great hope of finding permanent solution to the long lacerating issues that politicians of all hues who, in spite of boycott calls

35 members in the outgoing assembly while the opposition Congress' strength was just 18 although the Congress had an edge over NPF in terms of voting percentage: the Congress 36.63 and the NPF 36.05. Since the Congress contested in more number of seats its total vote share was 36.28 percent against NPF’s 33.62. Of the seven independent MLAs, six were supporting the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of the Nagaland Government.<


MADHYA PRADESH

LOCAL BODIES’ ELECTIONS HAVE MADE BJP SIT UP AND THINK IN MP

With an eye on young voters MP government announced a slew of schemes

Chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan has found the shortest route to popularity by legalisation of all illegal colonies throughout the state. Indore itself has 419 such colonies and the entire state has 1922. With this announcement the prices of properties have sky-rocketed in illegal colonies with realty mafia minting crores of rupees in no time. BJP, like Congress, has no qualms in allowing this even if it meant harming cities and people by shrinking their amenities....

Chandrakant Naidu

he BJP‘s hat-trick of electoral victories in Gujarat has understandably aroused expectations about the party’s performance in Madhya Pradesh. The party is looking for a third consecutive win in Madhya Pradesh despite the chief minister’s anti-charismatic disposition. The new president of the state BJP, Narendra Singh Tomar, has even projected chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as a potential prime ministerial candidate. The infighting in the state Congress was a bonus. But the results of the elections to the local bodies have forced the party to sit up and think. The Congress, which has largely been at the receiving end through most by-elections, sprang a surprise in some areas seen as BJP stronghold. While the ruling party has scored good points on agriculture front, its performance on law and order, power supply, healthcare and anti-corruption measures has been far from flattering. Madhya Pradesh has recorded the highest number of rape cases in the country. So, with the elections just a few months away, it chose the shortest route to popularity. The chief minister recently announced in Indore that all the illegal colonies in the state would be legalised soon and the departments concerned were already working in this direction. Indore, which is the commercial hub of the state, itself, has 419 illegal colonies mostly in the constituencies of industries minister Kailash Vijayavargiya, who has often been accused of patronising construction Mafia. Legalisation of these colonies has been held up due to the strict rules. Now the latest move shows that the ruling party has no qualms about establishing synergy with the realtors’ mafia. The Congress, which had forced the government on the backfoot for having caused heavy losses to state exchequer by handing construction giant Gammon India huge tracts of land in Bhopal, has accused the chief minister of playing a fraud on the public. The Congress can’t queer the pitch on the issue because it had resorted to

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FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

27


MADHYA PRADESH

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Most of Indoreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s illegal colonies fall in the constituency of Madhya Pradesh industry minister Kailash Vijayvargiya

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| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013

RAHUL GANDHIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S SUGGESTIONS

The MP Congress president Kantilal Bhuria in fresh trouble after the Chintan Shivir in Jaipur

By Lokayat Correspondent

adhya Pradesh is one of the nine states where assembly elections will put to test the political acumen of the newlyanointed vice-president of the Congress party, Rahul Gandhi. The partyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s track record in the state over the last nine years has been less than satisfactory. A few attempts to

M

similar tactics for electoral and financial gains in the past. The BJP only lowered the barrier to allow more and more colonisers to harm the cities and their surroundings. The government move saves the colonisers from litigations and forces the public to live with shrinking amenities. Interestingly, the Congress is not criticising the government for the demerits of the decision. It is lamenting that the ruling party has not been acting on its â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;promisesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, thereby defrauding the public. The BJP government had made similar announcement before the elections in 2007 but had not legalised

The dissent is brewing in Congress on the guideline that state or district unit presidents should not contest elections. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Who will work for the party if tickets will be denied to themâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, ask a few leaders working in the organisation.

galvanise it have only fragmented the organisation further. Less than six months before the candidates are finalised for the Vidhan Sabha elections in Madhya Pradesh members of the Congress are interpreting the signals from the Jaipur â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Chintanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; session to suit their convenience. Now that the new guidelines have been circulated the reactions have started trickling in from different quarters.

many colonies. Interestingly all such unabashed announcements have come only during the election years. The state has 1922 such illegal colonies. Several encroachments have been razed over the past few years. The action was often prompted by political expediency though. The fallout of such populism is that the state gets more and more illegal colonies regularised every five years. The resultant corruption and distortion of master plan leaves lasting scars on the state. Chouhan has also assured the slum-dwellers that they would not be displaced until alternate housing


MADHYA PRADESH

ARE REVOLUTIONARY: AJAY SINGH Rahul Gandhi’s suggestions are: the state and district unit presidents of the party should focus on strengthening the party organisation instead of contesting election; candidates who lost two successive elections for Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha should not be considered for nomination again; party nominations should be finalised three months before Vidhan Sabha election and one year before the Lok Sabha elections and lastly, one union minister should be assigned the charge of a state and one state minister should be assigned a district. Since Madhya Pradesh is not ruled by Congress the last suggestion is only partly applicable. The PCC chief Kantilal Bhuria was quick to respond to the Jaipur declaration. ‘I left the union ministry at the directives of the party leadership to strengthen the organisation in the state. I will not contest the elections as per the wishes of the leadership,’ he said. However, Bhuria faces considerable opposition within the state unit. Supporters of Jyotiraditya Scindia want him replaced. Whether the central leadership could choose to gamble with

arrangement is done. This is also bound to encourage encroachments.

Youth is the other constituency The other constituency the chief minister has tried to cultivate during the election year is the youth. A youth ‘panchayat’ was organised in the state capital to announce that the state government would stand guarantee to young entrepreneurs drawing loans up to Rs 25 lakh. Similar guarantee would be extended to the students seeking loans for higher education. The students would just have to pay back the

a new president just over six months before the announcement of candidates is another matter. If the Jaipur declaration were to be adhered to in letter and spirit the candidates for the Lok Sabha should also be finalised before the assembly elections are over. The general elections are due next year. The leader of the opposition in the state assembly, Ajay Singh says Rahul Gandhi’s suggestions are revolutionary. There could be some exceptions to the rule about the party office-bearers contesting the elections. If a district unit president is a potential winner he could be asked to contest. If the candidates are announced three months ahead of the elections the results could be very positive, says Singh. Even before he was appointed the vice-president, Rahul Gandhi has been hands on with the selection of the party’s office bearers and electoral nominees in the state. Whether he goes in for a complete restructure of the organisation to give a key role to younger leaders is the question. The party is keen to reach out to the youth who are angry over the government’s failure to check corruption. Younger

principal amount. The government would take care of the interest. The government has already launched several populist schemes for girls’ education. A pilgrimage scheme was launched for senior citizens. Now the other scheme called ‘Maa Tujhe Salaam’ promises youth to be taken to border areas of the country to instil a sense of belonging among them. The state government has, however, missed an opportunity to project its ‘achievements’ during the election year in Delhi. For the second year running Madhya Pradesh tableau missed the Republic Day parade in Delhi. The state

leaders within the state unit have also been vocal about greater responsibility being assigned to them. The AICC member from Indore, Shobha Ojha who lost two successive elections in the past and may be ineligible to contest, feels the party must look into the reasons for the candidates’ defeat. It could be caused by sabotage by the vested interests within the party. ‘Who would work for the party if tickets are denied?’ she asks. Another young aspirant, Shyam Holani who heads the Dewas district unit of the party says the party must retire older candidates and infuse young blood. The senior leaders must get out of their comfort zone to face ground realities. Holani may not contest if the party sticks to the guidelines. Some leaders who were keen to accept the organisational positions just to catch the eye of the central leadership are ruing their decision. Bhopal district party president P C Sharma says he was appointed only at the instance of senior leader Digvijay Singh. The party is likely to see a lot of churning over the next few months.<

bureaucracy just chose to sit on the files and sent no proposal to the Defence Ministry which selects the tableaux. No reasons were offered as the proposal apparently got caught in the red tape. (a winner of several prizes for its floats) also failed to participate in the show for different reasons. States often use the ceremony to make a political statement. The state Congress President Kantilal Bhuria said it was ‘shameful’ that the state did not send its tableau for the Republic Day for the second consecutive year. The BJP government should explain the reasons for it, he said.<

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

29


HARYANA

THE CHAUTALAS AND AFTER! The court ruling against Chautala senior and his son in the junior basic teachers scam is likely to have a huge political fallout for their party Indian National Lok Dal. Waiting to cash in on a split in the Jat votes are the ruling Congress party and also the HJC-BJP combine.

Former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala being taken to jail.

By Lokayat Correspondent

he violent clashes that Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) supporters had with police outside a Delhi court that sentenced former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay to ten years imprisonment in the junior basic teacher (JBT) scam, was an indication of the significance that the judgement had for the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main opposition party. INLD and its supporters, who allegedly hurled stones and petrol bombs in the court premises, were hoping for a much shorter sentence and further relaxation for the 78-year-old INLD supremo so that he could lead the

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30

| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013

party in the 2014 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. But as Chautala senior and his son were sentenced to ten years imprisonment, the electoral prospects of the family-controlled party suffered a severe jolt because for the Jat-dominated Haryana politics, four times former chief minister OP Chautala and his sons Ajay and Abhay Chautala are key figures. Chautala senior and his 51-year-old son Ajay, both sitting MLAs can stand disqualified from contesting elections next year if their conviction is not stayed by a higher court. The verdict will, therefore, have far reaching implications not just for INLD but also on the political scene in the state. All is not well for the Chautalas

even otherwise as they have faced criticism over their style of functioning within INLD. Many leaders associated with the party during the era of late deputy prime minister and former Haryana chief minister Devi Lal (O.P. Chautalaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s father) have left the party. INLD lacks second-rung leaders outside the Chautala family and there are doubts that Chautala seniorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second son, MLA Abhay, has the charisma to keep the party cadres and the traditional Jat vote-bank intact. Even arranging finances for the elections could be a big problem if the Chautalas remain behind bars. What is even more disheartening for the INLD is that another case of disproportionate assets against the Chautalas is in an advanced stage in a Delhi CBI court. The court is likely to


HARYANA give its verdict in three months. In another case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the CBI has recommended to the Supreme Court that a case be registered against Chautala senior.

Gains for Congress and HJC-BJP combine? The ruling Congress and the third alternative in the state, the Haryana

shifts loyalties from INLD. Much will therefore depend on the outcome of the appeal filed by the Chautalas. The HJC-BJP alliance is likely to gain the most. Despite the reluctance of its state unit, INLD, which was earlier a part of the BJP-led NDA, was hoping for an alliance with the BJP again by using its equation with the saffron partyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s senior leaders in Delhi. But after the courtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision the BJP is likely to

the court verdict held at Jind on 25 January. The INLD is planning to portray its president and his sonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s conviction as a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Congress conspiracy against regional partiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Moreover, the party wants to get sympathy votes for a jailed Chautala as the INLD leaders see nothing wrong in giving jobs to the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;poorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. If providing jobs to the poor is a crime, then the

PHOTO: PTI

7 9 85 *  95 6 78 1 * 6 9 59   5145 1 5 25894 21 9 9 6135 31 5 6 3 9 1g19 

5 6 9 5145 14 45  81$5 1 534 g 5145 89   945 85 81 11 619 . Janhit Congress (HJC)-BJP combine, are already eyeing gains in the form of defections from INLD ranks. Chautalasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; sentence comes as a big boost to the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government as the main opposition which has been turning the heat on the ruling party over various issues, will now be on the back foot with its key leaders behind bars. Moreover, Hooda, a Jat leader, is also hoping to gain if the community

stay with HJC in the 2014 elections. The HJC-BJP combine wants to use the elections to grab a major share of the opposition space in the state. HJC supremo, Kuldeep Bishnoi, claimed that the biggest gainer of INLDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s collapse would be the HJC-BJP alliance.

INLDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s course of action Not that the INLD is likely to give up easily. This was indicated by an impressive turnout at the first rally post

INLD will commit it repeatedly, was the general refrain at the rally, adding that O.P. Chautala and Ajay were not behind bars for a heinous crime. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;They have been made scapegoats for being the voice of the downtrodden.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; He also described the JBT teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; recruitment scam as a conspiracy hatched by the Congress and the CBI. They asked how it is possible that, from Punjab, Haryana to Tamil Nadu, all corruption cases are against regional party leaders only, while all Congress leaders have been spared by the CBI. According to Abhay, his father was targeted for starting a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;relentless campaign against the involvement of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of UPA president Sonia Gandhi, in land scams in Haryanaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;.<

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

31


UTTAR PRADESH

KUMBH MELA WITHOUT

By Ratan Mani Lal

he Prayag Kumbh, the world’s largest gathering of humanity, started in Allahabad on January 14 on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti. While about 80 lakh people took the holy dip at Sangam from sunrise till dusk, the four Shankaracharyas – highest Hindu religious leaders – kept away from the event. They were miffed at the failure of the Mela administration to allot them a common place and not four different areas for Chatuspath. Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Maharaj said that the water of the Ganga had become so dirty that the people were getting put off, and

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| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013

added to it was the administration’s failure to give the seers a common place. He said that when they have not got the land, then there is no point in attending the Maha Kumbh, which takes place once in 12 years and this year it is considered to be very auspicious due to a planetary alignment that takes once every 147 years.

This year’s Kumbh is in the 12yearly cycle and this year it is considered to be very auspicious due to a planetary alignment that takes place once every 147 years. The four Shankaracharyas are from Jyotirmath Badrika Ashram (Badrinath), Sharda Peeth (Dwarka, Gujarat), Jagannath Puri (Orissa) and Shringeri


UTTAR PRADESH

THE SHANKARACHARYAS

Peeth, Karnataka. However, the Mela administration echoed what the chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had said during a visit to the Kumbh area a few days before the Mela started. While the state government has made elaborate arrangements for the big event, having spent crores of rupees on creating an entire township comprising

tents and cottages, visitors on January 14 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the first major bathing day â&#x20AC;&#x201C; found a lot of work still lying incomplete, especially related to the tents and cottages erected to accommodate the visitors. There were many complaints regarding water supply, toilets and urinals. Whiles scores of journalists descended upon the venue, many of

them had not received the passes despite having applied weeks ago. However, it is the police and security arrangements that have been widely appreciated. As many as 20,000 police personnel have been deployed for the Mela and people are generally welcoming the attitude of the policemen posted on the Mela premises. Indian Air Force helicopters keep flying over the Mela area, which falls in the vicinity of a vast tract of defence land. Nearly 5,000 voluntary organisations are rendering services and over 11,000 shops are catering to the needs of those taking part in the congregation. The concerns over the quality of water in Ganga and at the Sangam are real, since a report quoted that the biological oxygen demand (BOD) level still much above the permissible limit of 3 mg/litre. However, more water is being discharged in the Ganga every few days from dams upstream to improve the water quality.

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

33


UTTAR PRADESH On the other hand, the spectacle at the Kumbh has been one of faith, as expressed by the Naga sadhus and seers perched atop decked up chariots, moving in colourful processions towards the Sangam. While there are naked sadhus and poor pilgrims on one hand, there are high-flying saints and preachers who are moving around in big luxury cars. Foreign tourists have also descended upon the venue in huge numbers, with many of them having made arrangements as much as one year in advance to witness this spectacle. Ten crore people expected to visit It is expected that this year’s Kumbh might witness the turn-out of as many as 10 crore people during the 55-day event. Significantly, the last Kumbh in 2001 had seen about 7 crore people having visited the Mela. Incidentally, the Kumbh Mela has been described by urban development minister Mohd Azam Khan and state’s chief secretary Jawed Usmani as the ‘biggest event’ for the state, the ground reports suggest that various departments lagged behind in meeting targets. Clearing of garbage at regular and frequent intervals, creation of temporary toilets and pathways were left with a lot to be desired. Allahabad commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi, however, claimed that all preparations for the mega event had been completed on time and maintenance, cleaning work will have to be done continuously in view of the huge scale of the Mela and the gathering that was expected. However, journalists and pilgrims who visited the Kumbh Mela site on and before January 14 say that while crowd and traffic control have been managed excellently, a lot has been left incomplete in the tented township. The event has come as a boon to all sorts of business and commercial activity in Allahabad. It is well-near impossible to get a private taxi or a hotel room if one has an unplanned visit to Kumbh in mind. Almost all the hotels in the city have hiked their tariffs by 100 to 300 per cent because of heavy influx of people. As for the tourism department, it has set up luxurious cottages in the Mela area itself in which a night’s stay costs between Rs 6,000 and Rs 12,000, according to department officials. Some private organisations have also set up Swiss cottages outside the Mela area where a night’s stay costs over Rs 8,000. Interestingly, a few days before the Mela began, the veteran Samajwadi Party leader from Allahabad, Reoti Raman Singh, who is also the party’s national general secretary and MP from Allahabad, criticised the Mela administration in very strong terms, alleging that the authorities were least interested in providing facilities to the pilgrims but were proceeding with their own agenda. He said that Kumbh Mela was a picture of neglect and chaos in the wake of the negligent attitude of authorities .He made a special mention of lack of medical facilities for pilgrims and saints, saying that there was not a single hospital equipped with modern facilities, whereas the need was for having a hospital or dispensary at every sector so that pilgrims could be saved from the ordeal of taking patients to the main hospital situated at quite a distance. He also came down heavily on the Mela authorities for their ‘arrogant’ attitude.<

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| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013


HIMACHAL

INTERNAL WAR INCREASES IN BJP IN ITS MOMENTS OF SHOCK The internal war has aggravated in the BJP after the humiliating defeat which shocked all and sundry in the party. Congress is also facing similar problem even after the glorious victory…..

By Lokayat Correspondent

he BJP is in a state of shock over loss of power in Himachal Pradesh and still pondering over ‘what could have been the outcome’ had the party shown unity and discretion in selection of candidates. The unexpected result after trumpeting the prospects of creating history by retaining power in two consecutive terms continues to haunt the BJP, especially Prem Kumar Dhumal, who found it hard to accept the defeat inflicted by the Congress led by Virbhadra Singh. It was the ‘self-goal’ that doomed the prospects of a win. The defeat has driven the state BJP now in a fiercer ‘in-fighting’ mode which had been the main reason for party’s defeat at the hands of the Congress in the

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November 4 Assembly elections. The BJP won 26 seats as compared to 36 of the Congress in 68 member house, six seats went to others. Sources said the senior national vice president Shanta Kumar got the blame for the defeat as he was alleged to have fanned defection from the party to the Himachal Lokhit Party. Those belonging to the Dhumal camp held Kumar responsible for giving ticket to some lightweights instead of winnable candidates in Kangra where the party won just three of the 15 seats.

Internal war in Congress too Being in opposition, the BJP has enough reason to continue this internal war, but there seems to be no end to infighting in the Congress either. Rival factions in the ruling party are now getting engaged in tussle over recent appointments of chairmen of various

boards and corporations by chief minister Singh. The party high command had to step in to sort the issue out after Singh’s detractors complained that he was ignoring genuine party workers to accommodate his loyalists many of whom either lost elections or didn’t contest at all. The disgruntled legislators include Asha Kumari, Brij Bihari Butail, Rakesh Kalia, Sohan Lal and Kishori Lal, most of whom owe allegiance to health minister Kaul Singh who was also in the race for chief ministership. After they met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to complain against his style of functioning, the chief minister had visited Delhi to ‘sort out’ the conflicting issues in meetings with Congress general secretary Birender Singh and Gandhi's political secretary Ahmad Patel. Singh’s rivals appeared to have achieved a moral victory with chief minister’s announcement that ‘Whatever appointments have been done is done. But in future, all the appointments will be made in consultations with party leaders (in Delhi)’. Apart from putting on hold the appointment of his loyalists to seats of power, Singh under pressure also had to agree for Palampur MLA and former minister Brij Bihari Butail’s appointment as the Speaker despite having already tipped former industries minister Kuldeep Kumar for the post. Cautioning his detractors against trying to create political instability, Singh has warned that they were not ‘damaging’ him but the Congress party in the state. But the 78-year-old, who began on December 25 his record stint as chief minister, knows he will continue to face this in the time to come.<

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PUNJAB

GENERATIONAL CHANGE IN AKALI DAL TOO! After Omar Abdullah and Akhilesh Yadav, Sukhbir Badal may soon be yet one more son in the country to take mantle from his father chief minister in his life time. Sukhbir’s camp has been campaigning for his ‘coronation’ for more than three years ever since he was appointed president of the SAD. Now recently Parkash Singh Badal gave a clear hint when he said, ‘he would succeed me not because he is my son but because he is a capable leader and manager.’ Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal (left) and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. There are indications that the baton of authority may shift from left to right.

By Jyoti Thakur

he 85-year-old Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal is known to say much in a few words. So his public announcement that his son and deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal is competent and ready for the chief ministerial assignment has created a buzz in state’s political circles. While some observers see the statement as an indication of the likely generational change of leadership in ruling Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD),

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others dismiss the same as an attempt to test the direction of political winds rather than declaring a change of guard from the senior to the junior Badal who heads the SAD at present. In any case, there is no denying the fact that Badal’s assertions point towards chief minister’s intention of passing on the baton to his son and political successor Sukhbir. This is for the first time that senior Badal has publicly acknowledged that his son deputy chief minister Sukhbir would succeed him. Addressing a public gathering at Maghi Mela in Muktsar on January

13, the chief minister made the politically loaded statement, ‘I have been gradually burdening Sukhbir with responsibility and he has lived up to the expectations. Now, the time has come that I entrust him with all the responsibility and relieve myself of the job. Sukhbir will succeed me not because he is my son but because he is capable leader and a good manager’. The chief minster appreciated Sukhbir, the president of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), for his ‘meticulous planning’ and ‘ensuring a historic win’ for the SAD- BJP alliance in the last assembly elections.


PUNJAB

Dependence on the BJP to end The SAD is close to getting majority as a single party in the Punjab assembly and end its dependence on its coalition partner BJP in the state following a Congress MLAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resignation who is contesting by-election as Akali Dal candidate now. The senior Badal appears to have timed his announcement at a suitable time since in the present political scenario there is no challenge from within the party to Sukhbirâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s promotion. Those close to Sukhbir have been making case for the 50-year-oldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s elevation to the top post for some time now on the lines of the Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh where the party heads handed over the leadership to their sons---Omar Abdullah and Akhilesh Yadav respectively. Despite Sukhbirâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reported opposition to an early elevation and his fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s immediate retirement, his camp has been campaigning for his â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;coronationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; for more than three years now, ever since he was appointed president of the SAD. In 2010, all attempts to elevate Sukhbir came to a naught due to rebellion by his cousin and the then finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal who formed his own party Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Party of Punjab (PPP). As the PPP was feared to divide Akali votes and there was increased realisation that Badal senior was the most acceptable face of the party, the SAD was forced to announce Prakash Singh Badal as its chief ministerial candidate in the run-up to the 2012 Assembly elections. Refuting allegations by the opposition that this was only a temporary arrangement, Badal announced that if elected to power, he would continue in office for the full five-year term. But, of late some of those keen to see Sukhbir as CM have been losing patience as battle of supremacy already appears to be raising its head in the party between the younger guard close to Sukhbir and the old guard loyal to Badal senior.

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Bikram Singh Majithia who organised the NRI meet in Punjab is seen as the man behind the demand to promote Sukhbir Singh Badal as the chief minister of Punjab

In the present set-up, Sukhbir and his brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia, who is the Youth Akali Dal president and also a minister, appear all-powerful in the party and the government. As Badal is increasingly receding into the background, leaders like Balwinder Singh Bhundur, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Ranjit Singh Brahmpura have been marginalised.

An open demand by NRIs Badal recently faced an awkward situation during a summit of nonresident Indians (NRIs) in Jalandhar on 5 January when the representatives appealed to the chief minister to step down in favour of his son. As this NRI summit was organised by Majithia, Badal is believed to have got the feeling that the former might have orchestrated this campaign in order to pressurise him. As expected Badal senior didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hesitate to show the 36-year-old second time MLA from Amritsar (Majithia) who was the boss by saying on live TV â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Have you ever been to jail? You have got the ministerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s post on a platter. Now, you want to dislodge me too.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Badal also went on to say that he would continue to lead the government. He also stressed that veteran party leaders, who had made sacrifices for the party, were relevant still and should be given â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;priorityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. The senior Badalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s barbs were also indirectly aimed at son Sukhbir, underlining that he should pay due respect to the senior leadership of the party. This was followed up by some administrative decisions also which indicated that the senior Badal had started asserting more and more. Then came the surprise statement on 13 December indicating that the old guard was preparing to pass on the baton to his son. But not before ensuring that the seniors are given due weight and respect in the SAD so that old and new continue to strengthen the party as and when Sukhbir gets the reins.<

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

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JHARKHAND

JHARKHAND: A DECADE LOST, AND STILL COUNTING

Arjun Munda, chief minister of Jharkhand recommended dissolution of the assembly rather than handing over power to the JMM as per agreement with it

By Santosh H K Narayan

ne had felt a whiff of optimism for the Jharkhand region when a new state was carved out of Bihar in 2000. The proponents of smaller states had advocated that such a surgical separation was essential for unleashing people creative energy and utilizing the opportunities that remained caged under the arrogant, corrupt and discriminatory politics of the erstwhile state of Bihar. But all that optimism evaporated during the last 12 years of its existence. What was actually created as a result of the operation was instability and political opportunism that show no

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The promiscuous politics of Jharkhand has once more left people of the state dry and naked as the eighth government in the last 12 years collapsed on account of the distrust and disruption of alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). Ironically, either the BJP or the Congress had always been in the government in one form or other, but neither could ensure political stability in the state. The idea of creating a new state for the sake of better development and administration has thus been callously mauled; and total neglect of the region continues unabated. When will political parties bury their hatchets in the interests of people and give stability to the state! The next elections when they happen would be watched from this angle.

sign of any abatement. Short-lived governments of various hues, all suffering from myopia, made formulation of long-range policies and their execution impossible. The beginning itself was ominous. Babulal Marandi of the BJP was the first chief minister of this ‘tribal-dominant’ state and he failed to keep his party men together. His government survived only for about two and a half years. Marandi’s divisive politics on the issue of domicile did not endear him to tribals; and it also distanced the BJP from its traditional vote bank, the nontribals. The party has not been able to arrest its downslide since then. The last twelve years’ turbulent political history of Jharkhand has seen

eight governments and three spells of President’s rule. The latest episode of Central rule started on January 8 when Arjun Munda put in his papers after the coalition partner JMM withdrew support on BJP’s refusal to hand over the baton of power to it on the agreed rotational basis. The BJP denies there was any such deal, but the peeved JMM decided to call it a day. Political observers differ, however, on the real reasons behind the collapse of the government. According to sources, the Congress egged the JMM to withdraw support by raising a hope that Hemant Soren might be given a chance to become the chief minister with outside support of the Congress. Initially the Congress did not want


JHARKHAND

Former deputy chief minister Hemant Soren wanted to be chief minister on the agreed rotation basis, but the BJP did not give in saying there was no such understanding

to help him; just as in 2010 the high command refused to engage in any unrewarding venture. The Congress was especially against supporting people who were facing charges of corruption. A few independents had reached Delhi to convince the high command of their support if the Congress wanted to help form an alternative government. Astute strategists in the BJP were, however, sure the Congress would not help JMM for obvious reasons. They calculated that it was better to go for elections. Hence Munda recommended dissolution of the assembly. On the other hand, JMM was wary of Munda’s statewide ‘johar yatra’ in the name of overseeing development. This was seen as a ploy to project himself as a pan-

CM / President Rule

Term in the Office

Babulal Marandi

15 November, 2000—17 March, 2003

Arjun Munda

18 March, 2003—2 March, 2005

Shibu Soren

2 March, 2005—12 March, 2005

Arjun Munda

12 March, 2005—14 September, 2006

Madhu Koda

14 September, 2006—27 August, 2008

Shibu Soren

27 August, 2008—18 January, 2009

President’s Rule

19 January, 2009—29 December, 2009

Shibu Soren

30 December, 2009—31 May, 2010

President’s Rule

1 June, 2010—11 September, 2010

Arjun Munda

12 September, 2010 — 18 January, 2013

President’s Rule

19 January, 2013 ---

Jharkhand leader eliminating the influence of JMM. Congressmen think that after the president’s rule it may get a chance to remote-control the state. But its immediate objective was to see one more BJP government out. Already the BJP governments in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are gone and it may soon lose Karnataka also. Besides, the Congress is looking at Jharkhand from the point of view of the next Lok Sabha elections that may happen this year itself. Jharkhand has 14 MPs in the Lok Sabha. The way JMM voted recently in Parliament in favour of FDI in multibrand retail has given hopes to the Congress about the much-needed alliance with the JMM before the LS

polls. The Congress on its own cannot do well and its former ally, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha has shown no inclination to return to the fold. Thus, while the political chicanery goes on, people continue to suffer. The state has high incidence of rural poverty— 46.2 per cent—second only to Orissa, while massive loot of its abundant natural resources continues. Facts show that not a single unit of power generation capacity has been added after Jharkhand came into existence even though the state sits on 72.2 billion tonnes of coal of all categories and ranks among the largest producers. In other mineral resources the state accounts for two-thirds in the entire country!<

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

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JHARKHAND By Bodhi Sri

aoists have by design been cruel and barbaric towards their perceived enemies whom they call as police informers. The irony is that they do it in the garb of their ideological fight to seek justice for helpless tribals. The brutality acquired a new dimension last month when Maoists implanted bomb in the belly of killed security personnels in Latehar (Jharkhand) supposing it would blast those who would come to recover the dead bodies. The investigations revealed that they had planned to blast the helicopter that might be used to lift the body from the forest area. To put bombs beneath the dead bodies had been an old method with Maoists, but to surgically cut open the belly, put bomb inside and close the opening by sutures is too cold blooded for any human society. Vital organs like intestines and spleen had to be removed to fit the bomb inside. Irony is there are many intellectuals in the country who claim that everything is OK in a war. Pranab Mukherjee, the president of India, had warned in a seminar a few years ago. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;It is wrong to assume they are seeking justice for anybody, they belong to a political party with an ideology and they are fighting for that.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; One can imagine what kind of government these people can give if ever they capture power. Security experts have described the latest barbarity as an act of desperation and a proof that they now find it difficult to defend their stronghold. A few Maoists who have surrendered recently told security agencies that the government scheme of development along with offensive is working. Maoists are now desperate as they fail to find new recruits as tribal youth is attracted in development schemes. Since the time when prime minister Manmohan Singh had echoed the widespread sentiment that Maoists

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BRUTALITY IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE were the biggest internal security threat to the country, the union home ministry has coordinated its activities with various states. Security forces have started using UAV and other sophisticated equipments. But the most important thing which is lacking is the effective intelligence. The way CRPF was caught off guard in Latehar is a proof of intelligence failure which resulted into getting security personnel ambushed and killed. It is also felt that the CRPF

had become complacent as the previous year remained comparatively calm. The start of the new year indicated that Maoists only consolidating their position and this year they want to come back with a vengeful bang. On 7th January the CRPF had launched a drive to flush out Maoists from the area but in the process they got ambushed. When they reached at the base of a hill firing from the Maoist side started. Some 300 Maoists


JHARKHAND

Maoists secure their arms from Pak and China ot only the brutality of the Maoists seems to be imported from anti-India forces active in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and China; the arms are also secured from there. Not only the rejected ideology is imported from China, which has already discarded it, but also the arms. For the first time grenades and ammunition made in Pakistan were discovered from the site of the Maoist attack in Latehar. The markings show that they were manufactured in Pakistan. Sources say that it was suspected for last few months that Maoists were getting ammunition from Pak and China. This is yet to be ascertained if the Maoists are in touch with certain state agencies of these countries. Pakistan is known to resort to this type of low cost war against India as some internal enemies are ready to act on their behest.<

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A CRPF official pays his respects at coffins containing bodies of CRPF jawans, who were killed in an encounter with Maoists

had surrounded CRPF and villagers in L-shaped formation. They were firing from a height on the hill and from treetops. The firing went on for more than five hours. In all, nine CRPF personnel, one personnel from the state's special antiNaxal force 'Jharkhand Jaguars' and four civilians were killed in the encounter. More than seven Maoists are also been reportedly killed. According to CRPF officials the Maoists had mutilated the bodies of

two personnel â&#x20AC;&#x201D; one had his eye gouged out while the other had been hacked. One bomb exploded when a villager touched the stitches but the second bomb was detected by doctors at Ranchiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences during x-ray and defused with the help of experts. The bodies of five jawans could be recovered only after two nights and during that time medical teams of the Maoists surgically planted pressure

bombs inside the abdomen of two CRPF jawans Baidyanath Kisku and Babulal Patel bellies. Three villagers who went with CRPF jawans to retrieve the bodies were killed when they stepped on the landmines. The body of one of the CRPF men was blown to pieces in the explosion. The security established had no clue that there could be such an attack. For intelligence the CRPF depends on local police. Intelligence wing is not even aware of who are the top ten leaders among Maoists. They even do not know how they continue to get best of weapons like AK 47 rifles, Insas, light machine guns and grenades. A new intelligence wing for the force has been started but has not yet started functioning independently. Sources revealed that the strategy of planting bombs in the bodies was being tested in animals for some time. This new brutality may have some demoralising effect on the security forces. To restore the morale, the CRPF will now have to act fast. This may even result into punishing the over-ground sympathisers who are supposed to have helped them to undertake such an encounter of this scale.<

FEBRUARY, 2013 LOKAYAT |

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TAMIL NADU

JAYALALITHAA SHOOTS By VSP Kurup

he North Indians never understood her ways. And it irritates her. She is used to being received with aarati on arrival, and people queuing up to touch her feet; being listened to with rapt attention and no interruption until she rises. None of these protocol formalities were observed when she made a rare appearance in Delhi recently for the National Development Council meeting. Jayalalithaa was pleased when she was given precedence over other speakers by chairman Manmohan Singh. She was in a mood to expand and expound the numerous needs of the neglected Tamilians; but no. By the time she finished introduction and started on the 28-page substantive part, the bell rang cutting her short. It was far more than she could endure. All her efforts of preparing and going all the way up were wasted. Naturally she was incensed beyond control. So she did what she could do in the circumstances. She exploded and stormed out! She returned to her Fort in Chennai in disgust. Her temper subsided only after sending out a firm general message. No alliance with either the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections! She would go it alone. The BJP was shocked. After Jayalalithaa travelled to Ahmedabad recently to personally congratulate Narendra Modi on his portentous election success, there were strong speculations in political circles that she was inclined to align with it. The BJP also, despite its unpleasant

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No doubt, she congratulated Narendra Modi at his resounding victory in the recently held elections, raising hopes in the BJP that she may go for a pre-election tie-up with it for the Lok Sabha. Many kept fingers crossed in the Congress, if she consumed by the desire to finish off the DMK of Karunanidhi, would have a tie-up with the Congress. No, any tie-up would reduce her room for manoeuvre in the Centre. So no tie-up with either.


TAMIL NADU

FROM HER HIP

experience with Jaya earlier, had wanted an ally in Tamilnadu badly and the AIADMK was the only worthy choice. Now Jaya scotched that hope with a finality. The reason cited was that Karnataka, ruled by the BJP was not allotting enough water to Tamilnadu. After Jaya walked out of UPA-I, the Congress was wary of dealing with her. But since its relations with M Karunanidhi were having a

bumpy ride in recent months – the DMK had threatened to vote against the government on Foreign Direct Investment in Retail—the Congress was entertaining a thought , just a thought , of sounding out Jaya. In fact Jaya too wanted to ally with the Congress if it was necessary to finish off Karunanidhi and Co. But, for the same reason for which she rebuffed the BJP— denial of Water--Jaya seems to have rejected that possibility now. She calculated that since she was sure of AIADMK sweeping the parliamentary election in Tamilnadu, there was nothing to gain from an alliance with any party; it would only reduce her room for manoeuvre and bargain in Delhi in the post-election situation. ‘After winning all the seats, we have to create a situation when we go to the Centre and take decisions’, recently she is reported to have told partymen pregnantly. After pouring cold water on the political puddings of both the BJP and the Congress, Jaya then directed her attention to the hot topic of the season—the wave of rapes and the way to rein in the hyperactive libido of young men. Jaya seems to have spent some time on the subject, yet she was the first among the chief ministers to come out with a set of proposals. ‘Harshest punishment and speedier conviction’ of rapists constitute the key features of her 13-point plan of action. She has already decided to set up fasttrack mahila courts in each district. Women investigating officers and prosecutors should make the police probe and trial more gender-sensitive. Some of her other measures in the pipeline are : bringing sexual offenders under the Goondas Act, making the cases non-bailable, installation of CCTV cameras in public buildings, launch of a helpline for women in distress and additional security in malls

and women’s colleges. All medical expenses of victims of sexual violence will be borne by the government. Seeing rape cases through until the ends of justice are met, will be the responsibility of a high official. As for punishment she agrees that it should either be castration or hanging. Meanwhile some trouble is brewing between Tamilnadu and Kerala again, not about the tortuous Mullaperiyar waters which is in the Supreme Court, but about waters from the Parambikulam-Aliyar-Project (PAP) in Palghat district. Both the rivers — Mullaperiyar in Idukki district and Aliyar in Palghat-- and the watersheds feeding them are in Kerala. While the Mullaperiyar dam site is under the upkeep and custody of Tamilnadu under an old treaty, the PAP is situated in Tamilnadu, again by an agreement. Long ago when Kerala’s need was much less and the surplus could be spared, there was no problem and the arrangement worked smoothly. But the situation has changed radically. With substantial new areas under the plough there is gross deficit of irrigation water and this results in a running tussle between the neighbours. With both the monsoons failing badly this year and about 45,000 acres of standing paddy in Palghat district facing destruction, Kerala demanded immediate release of its share of 1.750 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water from PAP. But Jayalalithaa’s government would not oblige. When pressure mounted and Kerala threatened to go to court, TN agreed to release 6.00 mcft, but actually gave just 2.00. When protested it gave an additional 1.50 mcft. Losing patience by such tactics, Kerala has now decided to approach the apex court for ensuring release of its full share of 1.750 tmcft.<

FEBRUARY 2013, LOKAYAT |

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TAMIL NADU

AFTER KARUNA WHO? Karunanidhi has taken a decision in favour of Stalin but his second son Alagiri didn’t take kindly to his father’s partiality. It would be watched with interest as to how things unfold in coming months on the issue of his successor…

Two sons of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi---MK Stalin and MK Alagiri at loggerheads on the issue of succession

By Lokayat Correspondent

nding all uncertainties and speculations, the 89-yearold DMK patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi has anointed younger son MK Stalin as his political successor. Not that there was any doubt in the public mind about the matter: Karuna had made his choice clear in 2009 when he nominated Stalin as the deputy chief minister forestalling any possible claim of his elder son MK Alagiri. Long before that, Stalin was helped to gain popular acclaim and

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administrative experience when he was elected Mayor of Madras City Corporation. In fact, Karuna had settled the succession question well in advance to eliminate any future challenge from outside the family too. Most of his friends who were with him from early days are no more. Only one, K Anbazhagan, general secretary of the party is still politically active, but he is too old to be of any threat. There was a possibility of V Gopalsamy (better known as Vaiko), the stormy petrel of Tamil politics and once the right-hand man of Karunanidhi, resisting Stalin’s

elevation, but Karunanidhi saw to it and expelled him from the party under some pretext. Alagiri has not taken kindly to his father’s partiality. He said the DMK was not a religious order to announce succession in this manner. And, he is bound to challenge Stalin after Karunanidhi is gone. Be that as it may, Karunanidhi cannot be faulted in his decision: there is no comparison in the intellectual equipment or organisational abilities of the two sons. To keep Alagiri engaged and away from Chennai so as to avoid any ugly confrontation between the two sons, at the time of last elections Karuna had put Alagiri in charge of party affairs in the southern districts of Tamilnadu. But with his strong-arm methods against farmers, made worse by his rowdy cohorts, Alagiri made a mess there causing substantial erosion of votes. Even with this record Karunanidhi could get him a Union cabinet berth under DMK quota, though nobody had any illusion about his administrative capacity. A story, though apocryphal, that goes round the central secretariat says that Alagiri can neither read nor write his name in English! Recently Alagiri’s name was mentioned in dispatches in connection with the exploits and arrest of his son Durai Dayanidhi Alagiri. According to the report this worthy offspring was a partner in the multi-crore illegal mining company Olympus Granites. He was evading arrest for several months, but at last the law caught up with him. He is the latest of the Karuna clan to enjoy the government hospitality!<

FEBRUARY 2013, LOKAYAT |

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KERALA

NO END TO CONGRESS SQUABBLES By Lokayat Correspondent

Congress is finally revamped in Kerala after a long and tedious exercise of ironing out differences between the two prominent factions. Yet, it has not ended the dissension at the lower level even as the new mode of dividing offices between groups is being criticised by several well-meaning leaders of the party. Rahul Gandhi is said to be a votary of election system in filling up posts in the party in the true democratic spirit, but his idea was given the go by and people were nominated satisfying various conflicting interests. There is no end to top down approach in the Congress….

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fter more than two years’ sickening squabbles with various cliques clamouring for the ‘loaves and fishes’ of power, and scores of visits to Delhi beseeching the High Command’s indulgence, guidance and approval, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) and its 14 constituent District Congress Committees (DCCs) were revamped to revive and re-shape the organisational structure. But that did not put an end to the strife between the two main factions, one led by the KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala (I-group) and the other headed by chief minister Oommen Chandy (Agroup). According to the compromise formula carried to Delhi, the 14 DCCs were equally divided between the two, to be adjusted further among the satraps under each, but a Kerala MP present in Delhi did a mischief. He managed to get the names of two DCC presidents changed to give advantage to the A-group. This raised hackles in the I-camp which wanted the status quo ante restored. But how could it be? Nobody dares change a list blessed by Sonia Gandhi. Despite the fact that it was Ramesh’s followers that suffered the loss of face, the KPCC president swallowed the perfidy and ruled out any change. Not so the ranks; they continue vigorous efforts, including threats of resignations to undo the

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‘outrage’. So the tussle continues….. Already an unconscionably large amount of time and energy had been invested in ironing out differences and apportioning various offices to people on the basis of their factional alliance, caste or religious inclination, record of party work, regional claim, and considerations of seniority, sex and age. For the district-level offices there was a general guidance that as far as possible youngsters should be chosen in place of too old and inactive people. Given these parameters, the ordeal of filling the posts of 4 vice-presidents (Ramesh Chennithala to continue as president), 21 general secretaries, 42 secretaries and one treasurer—all for KPCC—is understandable. And this, for a small state like Kerala! Not that there is so much work for this horde— hardly. Largely they are ornamental badges to wear and strut about. In fact the Congress leaders had to enlarge the list to accommodate all interests. After these labours they had to select candidates for an equally long list for DCC offices. Naturally there will be complaints. Not just complaints. A lot of criticisms too! VM Sudheeran, a veteran Congress leader who commands great respect across all sections of people, disapproved the new mode of dividing the offices between the factions. KM Roy, a political commentator, said that the system of ‘appointing’ men to so many offices of responsibility in a democratic party was unthinkable anywhere else in the world. Therampil


KERALA

KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala

Ramakrishnan, a Congress legislator, said apportioning party officers should not be left to the whims of MLAs and MPs. They should be chosen democratically on the basis of Congress workersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; support; that is , through election. If that is done, there will not be any room for disputes.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy

constitute the electorate for the next level of offices. From among them comes the next level up to the top. It is a system of filtering based on popularity, ability and approval. The unsuitable gets weeded out. There is little room for exerting oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s influence. But even then dissension occurs. The

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In this matter, the Congress can learn one or two things from the communists. Revamping process begins at the bottom, the lowest party constituency. These elected members

CPI (M) in recent years is seldom without it. But that is the essence of vibrant democracy. The top-down approach prevailing in the Congress is the antithesis of democracy.<

FEBRUARY 2013, LOKAYAT |

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KARNATAKA

KARNATAKA: TIME FOR CONGRESS

Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shettar addresses a press conference in Hubli

The founder of Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa looking confident to spring a surprise in coming election

Congress can pull it off this time; better the 80 seats it managed in 2008. The situation is tailor made for its comeback if only it can put its act together. If not the majority, it could certainly get enough to make the KJP or the BRS Congress want to join hands with it as a minority partner. By Lokayat Correspondent

he on-going crisis in the ruling BJP is set to change political equations in Karnataka with barely a few months to go for the assembly elections---especially with the entry of Yeddyurappa-led Karnataka Janatha Party (KJP) and BRS Congress, formed by former tourism minister in the BJP government and a confidant of the Bellary mining baron Janardan Reddy. Both the parties are determined to upset the calculations of the BJP, Congress and the JDS. While the KJP is banking on the charisma and support

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| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013

base that Yeddyurappa enjoys within his dominant Lingayat community, BSR Congress is confident of Sriramuluâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clout with Dalits and backwards. The ambitious leaders of the fledgling parties feel assured of making inroads into the vote-bank of their competitors, even if they fail to beat them in the race finally. More so, if one goes by the huge support that Lingayat community provided Yeddyurappa in the 2008 elections on the basis of which he was able to take the BJP to power in Karnataka. The party won 110 seats in a 224-member assembly, in the process pipping Congress with 80 and JDS at 28 to the post.

Significantly, out of the 110 seats, as many as 30 were accounted for by the votes polled by Janardan Reddy and Sriramulu combine for BJP in north Karnataka. Now, bereft of Yeddyurappa and Sriramuluâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s presence, BJP finds itself poorer, a factor which could have a bearing on its poll prospects this year. Strategically, therefore, it is now projecting chief minister Jagdish Shettar, a Lingayat himself, as its next leader. Even though he does not command much influence beyond north Karnataka, BJP feels that the Lingayat mutts and their powerful seers would do anything to back a Shettar-led party than Yeddyurappa


KARNATAKA

TO STRIKE

Ex-chief minister of Karnataka S.M. Krishna appears to be a claimant for the top Job

with his tainted image.

Nobody is taking Yeddyurappa’s claim seriously This apart, nobody is taking Yeddyurappa’s claim that his KJP would form the next government, seriously. This is on two counts. First, he would find it virtually impossible to field 224 candidates considering that his party has just been launched. Secondly, he needs to get winnable candidates. This appears to be near impossible for now. Yet, the threat from the two parties is not being dismissed or taken lightly. Accordingly, as BJP insiders admit, the possibility of a hung assembly post elections cannot be ruled out, with KJP and BRS Congress together getting about 30 to 40 seats leaving BJP, Congress and JDS to share the rest.

Numbers apart, the two parties are expected to inflict enough damage by splitting the votes of the main players. While Sriramulu’s party could hit the dalit, backward and the minority votes of the Congress, the KJP could affect the Lingayat votes of the BJP; even the Congress, to a large extent. Consequently, while the three major parties could muster up enough numbers, they could still fall short of the magical figure of 113, required to form a government on their own. In fact, in the ensuing race, the BJP could be the worst sufferer as it is expected to fall short of the 110 that it managed in 2008. The JDS, which got 28 seats in the last elections, could also suffer with the emergence of the BRS Congress in particular. It is, however, relevant to note that JDS influence is limited to the Mysore belt. Till the time of writing, the BRS Congress had not

made any visible dent in that belt, leaving Kumaraswamy and his father and former prime minister Deve Gowda who lead the JDS, a little relieved. That leaves the field open for the Congress. Despite common expectations of a hung assembly, it is the only party on which the people are still pinning their hopes, thanks largely to the BJP. This is because the latter squandered the opportunity to provide a corruption free government with emphasis on good governance and transparency. Instead, it earned such a bad name that corruption became synonymous with the party.. It is in this backdrop that the Congress is preparing to fight the assembly elections. Having said that the fact is the state unit remains a divided house. It has seen as much factionalism as the BJP. Therefore, to regain power, it would need to ensure that the leadership struggle within the party is neutralised at the earliest. At present, Lingayat leader Shamanur Shivshankarappa wants to head the state unit for which he is seeking the ouster of Dr Parameshawara. His argument is that he is the only known and respected Lingayat face of the Congress, something that the party needs to counter the Shettar and Yeddyurappa threats. Congress also has too many aspirants for the chief minister’s post including former chief ministers Moily, S M Krishna and Dharam Singh. Besides, there is Kuruba leader Siddaramaiah. The party could, however, spring a surprise by romping home if only it is able to fight as one unit, especially as it has a lot working for it including the good governance given by former chief minister S M Krishna between 1999 and 2004.<

FEBRUARY 2013, LOKAYAT |

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50

| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013


ANDHRA PRADESH

CONGRESS AGAIN IGNORES T-SENTIMENTS The Centre’s indecisiveness has divided political parties, sparked strikes, boycotts and street violence

By S Santhanam

he Congress party at the Centre has not handled the Telangana issue properly and has been unable to seek a consensus among its own leaders from the three regions in Andhra Pradesh. The Congress has only displayed penchant of making a promise and then putting it off at the last moment, fuelling the resentment in the region. The Centre has, after evoking a renewed hope through a statement by home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, once again poured cold water on the Telangana hopefuls by deferring the

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decision indefinitely. The Congress's flip-flop on Telangana has only strengthened its political opponents in the state at a time when it needs badly to manage affairs properly before the next Lok Sabha elections. A statement three years ago on the formation of Telangana, by the then home minister P Chidambaram aimed at ending TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao's fast unto death virtually opened a pandora's box. In a shocking move just a few days later the Centre went back on its word by appointing a committee headed by Justice BN Srikrishna to decide on Telangana as a separate state. It led to massive violence and vandalism across Andhra Pradesh catapulting TRS chief Chandrasekhara Rao to the political forefront. Three years on, the Congress which is staring at bleak prospects in the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections once

again revived Telangana hopes to retain its hold in the state. The party imprudently appears to weigh the question of separate state exclusively in terms of its immediate interests, its electoral calculations in Andhra Pradesh. The Centre’s indecisiveness has divided political parties, sparked strikes, boycotts and street violence to the extent that it will be very difficult to bring back normalcy and calm in the state if and when a final decision is taken, one way or the other. Some of the senior party leaders are of the opinion that giving into the Telangana demand will trigger similar demands elsewhere. The four-decade-old demand for Telangana, which is to be carved out of the economically less developed part of Andhra Pradesh, gathered momentum after the Congress party ruled government accepted the demand in principle in 2009. Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on December 28 had set a onemonth deadline to resolve the complex problem though he had not specified that a separate statehood would be granted to Telangana. The UPA government has now said that it ‘needed some more time to come to a final decision on Telangana.’ Given the contentious nature of the issue, any solution would have to involve compromises by both sides and retraction from their maximal positions. In fact, the Centre did nothing to build a consensus on the basis of the proposals outlined in the Srikrishna report. By breaking its own promises, year after year, the Centre has to pay a price in terms of its own credibility and authority. Delaying tactics are not going to yield political dividends.

FEBRUARY 2013, LOKAYAT |

51


ANDHRA PRADESH

 45 695 6

 158

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!51 g1 1 5g9 15 1"9 g 49#5g5  1 4 859 65 3 5 6 139 Meanwhile, the Telangana Movement has become intensified once again. Osmania University campus turned into a battle field. A youth is struggling between life and death after he set himself ablaze. A group of proTelangana students forced their way into the chamber of Vice-Chancellor of Kakatiya University in Warangal and threatened to set themselves on fire even as protests at Indira Park in Hyderabad continued. Under fire from pro-statehood forces, Congress leaders from Telangana region are taking divergent stands on their future course of action for forcing the Centreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hand on the contentious issue. Party MPs from the region decided to adopt wait-and-watch approach. They indicated that they were in no mood to resign and this will ensure survival of government and conduct of budget session of assembly and council. The Centreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s indecisiveness has forced seven Congress MPs from the region to resign from the Lok Sabha. Ministers from the region, however, asked their â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;friends from Andhraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to cooperate with the state's division in an amicable way before things go out of hand. The seven Congress Lok Sabha MPs from Telangana, who had earlier announced their decisions to quit, decided to go to New Delhi and keep their resignations in abeyance. (At the time of writing this story, the MPs had gone to New Delhi to speak to Sonia Gandhi on the urgency of the issue). The seven MPs who have sent in their resignations are: G. Vivek (Pedapalli), Ponnam Prabhakar (Karimnagar), Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy (Bhongir), Gutta Sukhender Reddy (Nalgonda), Manda Jagannadham (Nagarkurnool), S. Rajaiah (Warangal) and Madhu Yashki Goud (Nizamabad).<

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| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013

T-cheating case against PC and Shinde n a major embarrassment to the Congress government at the centre, a court in Andhra Pradesh directed the state police to register a case against two UPA ministers for giving false assurances to the people of Telangana on the issue of its statehood. The order was passed by the Rangareddy District Court in response to a petition filed by Andhra Pradesh Junior Advocates Association against former Home Minister P Chidambaram and incumbent Sushilkumar Shinde for delaying a decision on Telangana. The court then allowed the police to file a case against the two senior UPA ministers and congress party leaders under Section 420 of the IPC for false commitment over Telangana state declaration. The court's order is big jolt for the ruling Congress government both in the state and at the Centre, which has repeatedly assured a quick fix on the Telangana issue.<

I


ODISHA

NAVEEN ADOPTS WINNING FORMULA OF 2009 ONCE MORE

Odisha is badly afflicted with malnutritionâ&#x20AC;Ś Naveenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s latest decision to give rice at Re 1 a kg to below poverty line people may help improve the situation along with fetching votes to his party in the next elections. : Courtesy--Livingfarms.org

By Ashok B Sharma

s a last resort for regaining lost political ground, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is offering rice at Re 1 a kg to all BPL families and to certain other vulnerable categories in the state. Patnaik had been facing flak for reducing the BPL quota to 25 kg while the Centre has been giving 35 kg of rice to each poor family. It may be recalled that cheap rice had helped Patnaik win a thumping majority with 103 Assembly seats in 2009 while the Congress got only 27 seats. Political analysts believe that his announcement then of giving rice at Rs 2 per kg to BPL families was the main reason for his electoral success though the state government had to spend Rs

A

Will the chief ministerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s newest gamble of providing rice at Re 1 per kg to BPL families and certain other vulnerable categories in the state help him in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections next year?

979 crore on subsidy for this scheme. With Patnaikâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s latest announcement, this subsidy amount is expected to rise substantially. The Centre gives 35 kg rice for each BPL family at Rs 5.65 a kg. Thus the Odisha government will

$1 19" 554  9  53

85 595 6 31  1 4 31 41 1 1 9 3519 g 9 3945 35 6 15,

519  1 4 12439  9 85 15. have to give a subsidy of Rs 4.65 per kg of rice to some 58 lakh beneficiaries. This apart, Patnaik has begun chanting the â&#x20AC;&#x153;development mantraâ&#x20AC;? a year ahead of polls. He kicked off a campaign in his native district Ganjam in the middle of January by flagging off as many as a dozen projects.

But the Chief Minister needs to introspect on the legacy that he is leaving behind which has ended not only in a series of scams and scandals but also in increasing incidences of rapes, molestations and abductions, thus exposing the fragile law and order situation in the state. Congress Partyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s game plan The Congress meanwhile is trying to come out of its slumber and is not losing any opportunity to mount an attack on Patnaik either in the assembly or on the streets. It made a huge ruckus to raise farmersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; issues on the concluding day of the winter session of the assembly by virtually capturing the speaker's podium, breaking his mike and calling Patnaik a â&#x20AC;&#x153;dictatorâ&#x20AC;?. This--when Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat rejected an adjournment notice on the farmersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; issue. Both the Congress and the BJP also demanded a special debate on various irregularities detected by CAG in its report on the general and social sectors for the financial year ended March 2012. Congress demanded the cancellation of all MoUs signed with private developers for setting up ports in Odisha. The CAG has pointed out losses of Rs 10,000 in just two ports. Apart from this, the previous year witnessed sluggish industrial activity, shuttingdown of units and a neglected farm sector amidst charges of distress sale of paddy by farmers. The Congress organised a number of successful rallies in order to prime up its party machinery to take on Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the next assembly as well as Lok Sabha polls in 2014. However, political observers feel that Congress has miles to go and the BJP, which has remained marginalised ever since the BJD severed ties with it, has been hit even more by infighting as the race for the state unit chief has warmed up.<

FEBRUARY 2013, LOKAYAT |

53


CAMPUS

RTE PROVING A CURSE TO If more than half of all children in class 5 possess the learning level of class 2 only, then it indicates a big failure of our education system. This is the shocking revelation of Pratham, an NGO. A comprehensive study by the organisation says that quality of education is declining since certain provisions of the Right to Education Act, which include â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;no detention of students up to class eight,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; have been implemented. This has, no doubt, freed students from the class-room rigours, but for sure this reform has lead to a national crisis in the grave form of a steep decline in educational standards. This fall in standard is more pronounced in government schools which will forceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; already forcing-- most parents to send their wards to private schools at high fees or to spend huge amounts in providing private tuitions at the primary level. Is this what the Union government wants to achieve by its socalled ambitious Right to Education Act? 54

| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013

By Dr Bhagya Rajeshwari Ratna

he noble goal to impart primary education to every child of the country becomes a perverted exercise if it only ensures enrolment of children in schools but no learning at all. This exactly is happening after certain provisions of the Act have already been implemented. There is general recognition that the

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initiatives of the Union HRD ministry have ruined the already poor teaching and learning culture of the country. But the government is not willing to recognise this grim fact. It is also true that most decisions were taken without the ground realities in mind. Since all the exams and assessments have been scrapped and no child is allowed to be detained, the class room teaching has become a big casualty. The decline in educational standards will tell what kind of poor human resource ultimately we would have. Figures brought out by Pratham, a non-governmental organisation, are horrifying enough. The Annual Status of Education Report--2012 for rural India by the organisation shows that in

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CAMPUS

PRIMARY EDUCATION Rural children more and more in private schools erala, Tamilnadu, Puducherry and Goa have already more than 60 percent enrollment in private primary schools, while it is 40 percent in Andhra, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In UP, private players have acquired 50 percent educational space. Ironically, the highest private sector enrollment is in Kerala, where successive governments have claimed deeper commitment to education. Since 2009, private school enrollment in rural areas has been rising at an annual rate of about 10 percent. Within two or three years this figure will reach 50 percent!<

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2010, 46.3 percent children of class 5 could not read class 2 texts or solve simple mathematical calculations of much lower standard. Sadly this figure shot up to 53.2 percent in 2012. As we already know, the dip in the ability of children is sharp especially in government schools. But the scene is not edifying in private schools either. They score only slightly better over government schools in reading. When it comes to solving questions of mathematics private schools are as bad as government schools.

Quality not uniform across India The poor quality of education and rate of decline are not uniform across the country. The quality is slightly better in southern states like Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. In states like Himachal Pradesh and

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Punjab the quality of education is neither improving nor deteriorating. Barring Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, nearly every state showed a decline in learning mathematics while reading levels went down in Haryana, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala. And this bad news comes at a time when the government is increasing its outlay on education, particularly school education with more focus on rural areas. Now the RTE Act is going to be implemented shortly making education a fundamental right for every child between the age of 6 and 14. The estimate in 2010 for implementation of the RTE Act was pegged at about Rs 210,000 crore with the Centre shouldering 68 percent of the burden. Cleary, the expenditure would be far more in 2013. But if this landmark

legislation with such an increased outlay contributes to reducing the standard of education, then it should worry everybody. On the primary education front thus the country is in a serious crisis. It is clear that the populist and insincere political measures do more harm than good to the education system. The quality of education in both government and private schools has to improve drastically. But if the government does not change its attitude the result would be to drive more and more children to private schools. Higher education has long been sold out to private players. The malady is spreading at primary level now and will soon become all pervasive. No wonder half of the school-going age children would be forced to join private schools at high fees. Is this what the government wants to achieve by its RTE Act?<

FEBRUARY 2013, LOKAYAT |

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CAMPUS

DELHI UNIVERSITY TO APE STARTS A FOUR-YEAR DEGREE PROGRAMME

By Smita

elhi University (DU) is all set to introduce the 4year degree programme from the 2013-14 academic session despite serious doubts about its capability to handle the situation properly. Come July, there will be no admissions for the old-style BA, BSc or BCom programmes there. These courses are being discarded as an out-dated British legacy. The university officials maintain that this is what students and parents want. Under the new system the aspirants at the undergraduate level will be free to pick from a bouquet of courses combining science, arts and commerce for a 4-year degree. The new

D

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| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013

The American system of four-year degree course being introduced in Delhi University is touted as one that would dramatically revolutionise the structure of higher education for the first time in this part of the world. Many teachers, however, say it would only make Delhi University a feeder institution for foreign universities. The step may not be as student-friendly as authorities want to claim.... experiment will bring the university to global standards so far as the flexibility in course designing is concerned, DU officials claim. The 4-year degree programme was initially mooted a few years ago by Prof Deepak Pental, a former VC. However, seeing the fierce resistance to the semester system, the proposal was shelved. The statutory bodies of DU-Academic and Executive Councils--in December 2012 dusted up and approved

the old proposal---to replace the existing three-year degree programme by a fouryear one---by an overwhelming majority. But many teachers alleged that this was being done in undue haste: due processes and deliberations had been given the go by and the voice of dissent totally discounted. Earlier, DU had introduced the concept of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;meta college systemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and Meta University in a similar fashion. A 61-member taskforce has been appointed by the university now to look


CAMPUS

AMERICAN SYSTEM Hire in one semester, fire in another ronically, after imposing the semester system, regular appointments have been stopped by DU. Instead of filling up the teaching posts on a temporary/ permanent basis through duly constituted selection committees, DU authorities are banking on ad hoc teachers. At present, about 4, 000 teaching posts in DU are lying vacant. Against these posts either ad hoc teachers or guest lecturers are used. With uneven and lopsided workload following semesterisation, ad hoc teachers are often hired in one semester and fired in the next. They become hapless victims of this â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;hire and fireâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; policy. Some of them have been working for years in this manner. They are denied all normal benefits including LTC, medical and maternity leave.

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into the intricacies and modalities of the proposed 4-year degree programme. The taskforce is yet to finalise its detailed and final recommendations. Some teachers feel the new programme may have serious implications for the present university structure in myriad ways. Before delving into the issues, it will be instructive to have a cursory view of the functioning and ramifications of the present semester system. It was introduced amidst stiff opposition from teachers, in July 2010.To start with only eleven courses came within the semesterisation scheme. From July 2011, DU enforced semesterisation for all courses. It is alleged by some teachers that framing of syllabi for the semester mode was done in a hurry, without discussions among staff and students. These syllabi,

This is what many teachers in Delhi University wanted to say against the semester system. (Courtesy: DUbeat.com)

therefore, did not correspond with the number of calendar-days in each semester. This resulted in difficulties for teachers to complete the syllabi in the stipulated time. It also presented some problems for the students. The teachinglearning process badly suffered as a consequence. The laboratories in various science streams, which were already under enormous stress on account of the expanded intake following OBC quota, suddenly proved inadequate to cater to the additional demands. The acute shortage of laboratory equipments further compounded the problem. The grim situation persists in most colleges in spite of repeated assurances of quick remedy. The lecture rooms also fall

There was already a shortage of lab facilities in Delhi university colleges due to OBC reservation; the semester system aggravated the situation even more. What would be the condition when the 4-year degree course is started?

short, in both size and number, to accommodate students.

The problem of workload The workload of teachers also became uneven in the wake of semesterisation. The new guidelines on the issue left much room for arbitrary interpretation. For instance, in most science courses, four lectures plus one interactive period for the whole class have been provided in each paper. However, in some colleges, the workload has been inflated by throwing all the norms to the winds. Deshbandhu College, Kalkaji, a university-maintained institution, is a case in point. Here the interactive period per paper for the whole of the class has been interpreted to mean interactive period for a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;group of 15 students.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; In other words, if a class has 75 odd students then going by this interpretation there will be 5 interactive periods for the whole class, whereas the DU guidelines only allow for one interactive period. Presumably, many such â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;localâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; interpretations prevail in different colleges. Thus, semesterisation has given way to uneven, unstable and arbitrary distribution of workload.

  439 6 5 55 5 98   5 4939 54  491  3 55 35 6  45  1 4 85 51389 g51 9 g  35. !85 5#199 g 8 1g5 6 12 DU to prepare feedstock for foreign universities 6139995 g  685 One may wonder when even the 3

  454 2 89 5. semester system, whose introduction FEBRUARY 2013, LOKAYAT |

57


CAMPUS

 931, 165 9  9 g 85 5 55 5 85  9#59  54 5g1 1 9  5  18 g8 12  -,/// 51389 g   15 9 g #131 . 8 995 15 21 "9 g 14 8 3 51385.   439 6 85 -51 45g55  g1

5 1  5 85 919 . saw a series of protests from the teaching community, did not firmly take roots, what was the exigency of replacing it with yet another complex one--the 4-year degree programme. The new one aims to align with the system in foreign universities, claim DU authorities. In keeping with the international practice, it will have creditbased and credit transfer facility. The students will be provided opportunities to choose from a bouquet of disciplines and streams with application courses. The new undergraduate programme will also have two exit options. A student can exit after the second year with an associate baccalaureate degree or after the third year with a baccalaureate degree. On completion of four years of study, a student will be awarded a baccalaureate honours degree. While DU is all set to implement the new programme from July 2013, a section of teachers is vehemently opposed to it. They allege that since the government is in a hurry to attract investment, domestic and foreign, to higher education, moves are afoot to put in place new â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;academic reformsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; that are conducive to this objective. Apart from such (apparent) politically-motivated resistance, there are other objections too. While exits after second and third years have been allowed, it will not be possible to know in advance how many students will leave after the second or

Teachers protesting against hasty introduction of the semester system without proper discussion and preparation.

Structure of the 4-year degree programme he 4-year degree structure approved by DU comprises Discipline-I and II course papers, 11 foundation course papers and 5 application course papers. In addition, there is provision for value-added education. To this end, there will be two papers on â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;mind-body-heartâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and six papers on cultural (or co-curricular) activities like NCC, NSS or sports. However, there will be no exams for these eight papers. Discipline-I will have, in all, 20 papers out of which two will be project-based research papers. Discipline-I papers will start right from the first semester while Discipline-II papers will start from the third semester. A student will be given the option to choose two subjects, say, physics in Discipline-I and chemistry in Discipline-II. On completion of four years of study, he will get an Honours degree in physics. However, he will also become eligible to pursue masters in chemistry, the subject of Discipline-II.

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third year. As a result, the workload, which has already been made unstable by semesterisation, will fluctuate and become even worse. The present infrastructure situation across the university departments, as also various colleges, would not allow any more lectures, tutorials and practicals. The 4-year structure has not specified the tutorial group size and the frequency of tutorials. Nor has the number of practicals for the science disciplines been made clear. It is also feared by a section of teachers that in the 4-year programme, the ratio of discipline papers to the total number of papers is most likely to decrease. That is the basis of the allegation that DU authorities are maintaining a conspiracy of silence on lecture-class size and

frequency of tutorials and practicals. Apparently modelled on US community colleges, the new programme, it is alleged, aims at continually shunting out students and making higher education exclusive---it does not seem to be student friendly. A section of left-leaning teachers also allege that the new programme is designed to appoint teachers on contract basis in line with the governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s thrust on commercialisation of higher education through FDI, etc. These teachers also voiced their protest against the manner in which the new programme had been approved. There seems to be some substance in this as the 61-member taskforce is a mere nominated body and not a statutory body of the university.<

FEBRUARY 2013, LOKAYAT |

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HEALTH IS WEALTH

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES DO NOT By Neeta Jain

he B-vitamins have multiple functions including increasing the rate of metabolism. This results into healthy skin, hair and muscle tone. They also enhance immunity thus increase capacity to fight diseases and improves functioning of the nervous system. By promoting cell growth and division, including that of the red blood cells, they help prevent anemia. They also reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer â&#x20AC;&#x201C; one of the most lethal forms of cancerâ&#x20AC;&#x201C; but when consumed in food rather than in tablet form. The B-vitamins were once thought to be a single vitamin, referred to as vitamin B. Later research showed that they are a group of chemically distinct vitamins that often coexist in the same foods. In general, supplements containing all eight are referred to as vitamin B-complex. Individual B vitamin supplements are referred to by the specific name of each vitamin like Thiamine (B1) Riboflavin (B2) Niacin (B3), Pentothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Biotin (B7), Inositol (B8), Folic Acid (B9) & Cyanocobalamin (B12).

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This is wrong to assume that eating fruits and vegetables can give you all the necessary B-vitamins. This is especially true for vitamin B-12 so necessary to keep you energetic, agile and away from anaemia. The deficiency results in irreversible nerve and brain damage.

All B-vitamins are water-soluble, and are dispersed throughout the body. Most of them must be replenished regularly since any excess is excreted in the urine. This can result in the urine produced being a bright green-yellow colour. Nutritionists maintain that a balanced diet that includes 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, as well as grains, gives most people with all

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| LOKAYAT FEBRUARY, 2013


HEALTH IS WEALTH

GIVE SUFFICIENT VITAMIN B-12 the B-vitamins they need. But many people do not eat enough fruits, vegetables, or other healthy foods to get the recommended amounts. The National Academies of Science (NAS) recommends that adults over the age of 50 take B vitamin supplements, or eat foods enriched with these vitamins, in order to prevent deficiency. Smokers can reduce their risk of lung and pancreatic cancer by getting sufficient B-vitamins. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need more folic acid than others. Women of childbearing age who can become pregnant should consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily through dietary supplements and fortified foods, in addition to a diet containing folate-rich foods, to help prevent certain birth defects in their children. Niacin (nicotinic acid) displays potent effect of reducing bad cholesterol â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;LDLâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and triglyceride and elevating good cholesterol known as HDL. Niacin has also been shown to help reverse hardening of the arteries and decrease incidence of heart disease and its associated deaths. In contrast to other water-soluble B vitamins, Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) it is not excreted quickly in the urine, but rather gets stored in the liver, kidney and other body tissues. Vitamin B12 is crucial for the proper formation of red blood cells, as well as the health of nerve tissue. The classical vitamin B12 deficiency disease is pernicious anaemia, a serious disease characterised by large, immature red blood cells. Also the deficiency results in irreversible nerve and brain damage. A deficiency often manifests itself first in the development of neurological dysfunction that is almost

indistinguishable from senile dementia (deterioration of intellectual faculties, such as memory, concentration, and judgment) and Alzheimer's disease (a disease marked by the loss of cognitive ability). Many patients of Alzheimer's actually suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency. Their symptoms are reversible through effective supplementation. A low level of vitamin B12 has also been associated with asthma, depression, multiple sclerosis, tinnitus, diabetic neuropathy and low sperm counts. Clearly, it is very important to maintain adequate body stores of this crucial vitamin. Apart from creating red blood cells and keeping our nervous system healthy, we also need vitamin B12 in order to be able to absorb folic acid. Vitamin B12 also helps to release energy. The amount of vitamin B12 actually needed by the body is very small, probably only about 2 micrograms per day. Unfortunately, vitamin B12 is not absorbed very well therefore large amounts need to be supplied through diet or

supplementation. The richest dietary sources of vitamin B12 are liver, especially lamb's liver, and kidneys. Eggs, cheese and some species of fish

also supply small amounts, but vegetables and fruits are very poor sources. Several surveys have shown that most strict, long-term vegetarians are vitamin B12 deficient. Fortunately, oral supplementation with vitamin B12 is safe, efficient and inexpensive. Most multi-vitamin pills contain 100-200 microgram of B-12. The actual absorption of B12 is also a problem with supplements. Some physicians recommend monthly injections of vitamin B12 to maintain adequate levels in the elderly and in patients with a diagnosed deficiency. Researchers from the Nutrition and Food Research Institute in Zeist, Netherlands, found that lack of vitamin B12 during the formative first six years of life could result in long-term reduced cognitive function. Some drugs including those given to treat diabetes can also lead to serious vitamin-B12 deficiency.<

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SCIENCE

THE FIRST EVER MAPPING OF THE GENOME OF CHANA A landmark breakthrough has been achieved by sequencing the genome of Chickpea (चना) by a team of 49 scientists of 10 labs across the world thanks to the dynamic leadership of Dr Rajeev Varshney. The significance of the research is immense as it would be possible in future to develop new varieties of chana which would be able to grow faster with more yields taking care of diseases, global warming and drought conditions. The research has not been patented but has been kept in open domain so that farmers in chickpea growing regions of India and rest of the world can be benefitted. improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers in African countries and is crucial to the food security in India.

By Dr P K Mukherjee

Chickpea–a nutritious and agro-ecological legume crop

global agricultural research team of 49 scientists successfully mapped the genome sequence of chickpea (चना ) which is the world’s second most widely grown legume crop after soyabean. There are two main types of chickpeas: small-seeded desi and largerseeded Kabuli.While the consumption of desi is restricted primarily to Middle East and Southeast Asia, Kabuli is a popular and valuable global commodity. The highly nutritious chickpea contributes to income generation and

Domesticated in the ancient Mediterranean region over 700 years ago, chickpea is a major legume crop grown globally on 11.5 million hectares with India being the largest producer (70 percent of global production) and consumer. It is a highly nutritious, rich in protein, energy, vitamins and minerals. Its protein content is between 20-30 percent which is two to three times more than cereals like wheat and rice. Moreover, chickpea is the highest source of dietary fibre, a vital part of healthy diet, as it facilitates digestion. Chickpea is cooked in many ways including chana dal (desi variety) and

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India is the largest producer of chana (chickpea) in the world. The new research would help immensely to take care of nutritional needs of India in future

curries and its flour (besan) is used in making pakoras and many cuisines. It is also crucial for the nutrition of the poor. In India, roasted chickpea flour, called sattu, is the main meal for the poor, hard-working manual labourers because it is energising, nutritious and affordable. In fact, the World Food Program is currently exploring chickpea paste in a ready-to-use food to address malnutrition.

Genome mapping of chickpea The global team succeeded in identifying an estimated 28,259 genes of chickpea after sequencing a Canadian Kabuli chickpea variety, called CDC Frontier. The team also carried out resequencing of additional 90 cultivated and wild varieties from ten different countries.


SCIENCE The chickpea genome sequencing project was undertaken by the International Chickpea Genome Sequencing Consortium (ICGSC) led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), a member of the CGIAR Consortium. This was made possible, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Rajeev Varshney, who is the coordinator of ICGSC and Director of Centre of Excellence in Genomics at ICRISAT, and his 48 colleagues spread across the world. In all, 23 organisations from 10 countries have been involved in this global research. The collaborating countries are India, USA, Germany, Canada, Australia, China, Czech Republic, Denmark and Mexico. The

This is the second time (after sequencing the pigeon pea genome in 2011, see December, 2011 issue of Lokayat) that an Indian scientist (Dr Rajeev Varshney, both the times) led genome sequencing of a crop species and published findings in the highest respected scientific journal. What are the potential benefits of the genome sequencing of chickpea? India, being the largest producer and consumer of chickpea, will directly benefit from this research. The farming of this legume crop in India covers around 8 million hectares of land. It is the most dominating legume crop of India and is widely cultivated in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

Most climate scenarios foresee a 2 degrees warmer world. Against this backdrop of climate change, the genome mapping will help chickpea breeders developing more resilient varieties that are essential to adapt to a drier and warmer climate. An important prerequisite for crop improvement is genetic diversity. However, chickpea has a narrow genetic diversity which means that the cultivated varieties have very similar genes. This has basically resulted from domestication of the crop because, over the years, breeders and growers have continually chosen only a handful of chickpea varieties for breeding and cultivation. According to Rajeev Varshney, genome sequencing of 90 chickpea lines will help bringing lost

What are genome and genome sequencing? enome represents the entire genetic information of an organism which, for plants and animals, is encoded in their deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Through genome sequencing, the scientists identify the genes responsible for various functions within the body of the organism. However, the genome sequence doesn’t immediately lay open the genetic secrets of an organism. Even when a draft of the genome sequence is in hand, much work still remains to be done. The scientists have to figure out how a genome works; what genes, making up the genome, are responsible for a characteristic trait; how different genes are related; and how various parts of the genome are coordinated.<

G Dr Rajeev Varshney, Director, Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG), ICRISAT and the leader of the consortium, which made a historical breakthrough by sequencing the genome of chickpea, which had been an ignored crop at international level

team could successfully assemble 74 percent of the chickpea genome within record two years. This time span is relatively fast compared to the other grain genome sequencing like maize, rice and wheat attempted earlier. Also, by analysing the genome, scientists have identified candidate genes for disease resistance, drought and heat tolerance and early maturity. The latter types have the advantage that the plants growing more quickly can be harvested earlier before the dry spells. This research was published in the highly ranked scientific journal, Nature Biotechnology on Jan 27, 2013.

Chickpea is also an important component of the pulse industry in Australia, Canada and USA and so these countries are also expected to reap benefit from the chickpea mapping. According to scientists, genome sequencing of chickpea would facilitate the development of improved varieties with higher yields. The chickpea genome sequencing is also expected to help development of superior varieties with enhanced drought tolerance and more resistance to damaging pests and diseases, such as the pod borer insects which cause nearly 20-30 percent annual yield losses in India alone.

genetic diversity from wild species to the varieties being cultivated. Thus, the new study can prove valuable for enhancing the genetic diversity of cultivated chickpea gene pool. ‘It may take 4-8 years to breed a new chickpea variety. Armed with genome sequencing this time could be almost halved’, said Rajeev Varshney. The chickpea genome sequencing is publicly accessible with no intellectual property rights (IPR) involved. Thus, with open access to the chickpea genome, the breeders can develop improved crop varieties with marketpreferred traits.<

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COOKERY

By Anaamika

It is Basant Panchmi on February 14. Considered as most auspicious day, it marks the beginning of spring. In India, while we celebrate the day by worshipping goddess Saraswati, the deity of learning, Kesaria Bhat is almost synonymous with the festivities.

KESARIA BHAT

Ingredients: • Basmati rice: one bowl • Sugar: one bowl • Pure Ghee: One tablespoon • Almonds (5-10), • Pistachio (5-10), • Raisins (as per taste) • Saffron (a few threads), • Cardamom (half tea spoon), • Edible Yellow Colour • Bay Leaves, Cinnamon sticks, Cloves (two-three pieces to sauté) • Mishri (sugar crystals) one spoon

Preparation:

Method:

Wash well and soak rice in adequate water for ten minutes. Also soak almonds and pistachio and peel off the outer skin. Cut into long shreds. Wash the raisins. Coarse grind the cardamom. Boil rice in open vessel by adding sixeight bowls of water. Don’t let it fully cook. Remove from heat well before it is done fully. Quickly transfer in a colander to drain water. Let it cool. Dissolve saffron in little warm water if you don’t want to add edible colour. The combination of both adds to the richness.

Take a flat pan. Heat ghee and sauté bay leaves, cinnamon sticks (break into small pieces) and cloves. Lower flame and put sugar and let it melt properly. Add a pinch of edible colour or the dissolved saffron. As soon as the sugar melts, add the boiled rice. Make sure all the water has been drained properly. Mix well. Garnish it with almonds, pistachio, raisins, cardamom, mishri and additional saffron threads if you like. Cover it for five minutes on slow heat. Serve hot.

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BOLLYWOOD INTERVIEW

I cannot evaluate myself as an ow would you describe your latest film MATRU KI BIJLEE KA MANDOLA? Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola is a comedy-drama set in rustic surroundings of a village in Haryana about Harphool Singh alias Harry Mandola (played by me), a wealthy industrialist who loves his drink, his daughter Bijlee (Anushka Sharma) and the unusual bond they both share with Harry's man Friday, Matru (Imran Khan). Much to her father's delight, Bijlee is all set to marry Baadal (Arya Babbar), the son of a powerful politician Chaudhari Devi (Shabana Azmi). This alliance which is far from just being a simple union of two young people becomes the seed for a story that brings twists and turns in the lives of Matru, Bijlee and Mandola.

H

ell us more about your role in the film!?

T

The role of Harphool Singh Mandola that I play in the film is a rich, flamboyant, gregarious and ambitious alcoholic, who flirts with politics literally too unabashedly with a lady politician. I am also bent upon converting poor farmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lands into malls by conniving with the politicians. I am an â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;in the faceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; character whose two weaknesses are his daughter Bijlee and alcohol. ow would you rate your son Shahid Kapur as an actor?

H

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PANKAJ KAPOOR tells Jyoti Venkatesh 1 519g, 4  1 1  81  591 9 1 1 13. 1 199g 6  5 69 1

. Shahid has always been in the loop about the subject. The idea behind Mausam was to present Shahid in a new light. Till then, the body of work that Shahid had done has largely been limited to similar roles â&#x20AC;&#x201D; that of a young lover boy. Shikhar, Kaminey and Fida apart, the characters he has played were pretty much similar to his real life persona. He is capable of handling greater responsibilities as an actor. If given a chance, he can do so much more to prove his acting prowess. Shahid follows what is close to his heart, just the way I do. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m very proud of him as a father. hat is the reason that you have not been seen in any film as an actor for quite a long time?

W

I have not been seen in any film for the last three years because I was totally involved in the making of my own film Mausam. There has been a gap also because I try to choose the best out of the offers that land in my lap. Ideally Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d

love to be part of even four different films with different kinds of directors. I reject a film not just because I do not like the script. I may reject it because I do not feel comfortable with the director or the producer. At times I select one out of the 50 offers that I get and at times I may end up selecting one of the three that I get. If you care to remember, I did films like Dharam, Blue Umbrella, Sehar and Dus in just a span of a year and a half. o you think your potential as an actor has been fully exploited by filmmakers?

D

Frankly speaking, I do not at all know what my potential is as an actor. I am waiting for my next film Happy. I would love to do a film with my son Shahid if we get the right script but till date we have not been approached by anyone with the right script. I do not have any other film on my hands. I want to explore a variety of roles as an actor to allow myself to discover what my


BOLLYWOOD INTERVIEW

actor and talk about my growth range as an actor is and enhance my personality as an actor. I cannot evaluate myself as an actor and talk about my growth from the time I had made my debut as an actor in a small role in Richard Attenboroughâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gandhi as Mahatma Gandhiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s secretary Pyarelal to Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. I do not want to judge myself, because I feel that it is my producers and directors who should tell me about my growth. hat have you learnt from the film industry all these years?

W

I would not hesitate to state that I have learnt from whatever experience I have had as an actor to improve myself and have tried to be as honest as possible with every project that has come my way, because it helps an actor to mature properly or else there is the danger of him becoming repetitive or predictable . It is the way my mind has been trained for the last 30 years and this kind of conditioning has certainly helped me as an actor and prevented me from becoming complacent at any stage.<

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REGIONAL FILMS

GANESH TEAMS UP WITH VIKRAM PRABHU

DULQUER SALMAAN IN THEEVRAM ulquer Salmaan is one of the fastest rising young stars in Malayalam cinema. He believes in taking calculated risks, which has paid off handsomely in his first two films, Second Show and Ustad Hotel. Dulquer is now starting the shoot of his new film Theevram, a crime thriller written and directed by debutant Roopesh Peethambaran. Roopesh’s one-line script is said to have excited Dulquer, who also heard the music of another newcomer Roby Abraham, which was peppy. Sreenivasan is going to play a pivotal role in the film. Riya Saira of 22 Female Kottayam fame will play the heroine. In supporting roles are Vinay Forrt, Anu Mohan and popular TV show anchor Vishnu Raghav.<

D

BASKETBALL VS CRICKET or Eeram fame Arivazhagan’s sports film Vallinam, producer Aascar Ravichandran has erected the set of a basketball court at a whopping price. The film has Nakul playing the lead and Mridula Bhaskar as heroine. Arivazhagan’s film is said to be a promotion for basketball, one of the fastest games in the world. In the film, Nakul is a basketball player and the villain is a cricketer! The climax of the film was shot on the expensive basketball court. Vallinam is also a romantic film which has music by Thaman. It has Atul Kulkarni playing a basketball coach and Siddharth Jonnalagadda who acted in the Telugu film Love Before Wedding playing the stylish villain.<

F

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fter the success of Nagarjuna’s Damurakam, Ganesh Venkatram has become busy. He played a pivotal role in the Telugu fantasy film. Filmmakers now want to cast him because he has star appeal in both Tamil and Telugu film industry. Sundar C had signed him to play one of the leads in the Tamil-Telugu bilingual Theeya Velai Seiyanum Kumaru. Now the Mumbaibased Ganesh has been roped in by none other than leading producer and director N Lingusamy. Ganesh has been roped in by Lingusamy to play a hardhitting cop in Vikram Prabhu second film Ivan Vera Madhiri directed by critically acclaimed director Saravanan who gave the big hit Engeyum Eppodhum . For Ganesh it is another big break.<

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BOLLYWOOD

YASH RAJ FILMS’ FIRST 2013 RELEASE WILL BE MERE DAD KI MARUTI fter Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma in Band Baaja Baaraat followed by Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra in Ishaqzaade, YRF is now all set to launch new faces like Saqib Saleem and Rhea Chakraborty with Mere Dad Ki Maruti, Yash Raj Films’ next venture under the Y-Films banner, to be released on 15th March 2013. Saqib had earlier made his debut with Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge under the same banner. Mere Dad Ki Maruti also stars Ram Kapoor, as the khadoos dad in his first full-fledged comedy role. The film is an outrageous comedy set against the backdrop of a loud Punjabi wedding in Chandigarh. MDKM tells the story of a boy who sneaks his dad’s fancy new car out to impress the college hottie and how all hell breaks loose when he loses it as the poster captures the storyline, ‘A wedding, a lost car and one really angry dad’. MDKM also marks the directorial debut of Ashima Chibber who had begun as Shimit Amin’s first AD on Ab Tak Chappan and Chak De India. Ashima’s last project was as first assistant director to Imtiaz Ali on Rockstar.<

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ACTOR ADITYA OM TURNS DIRECTOR WITH BANDOOK

ditya Om, who has to his credit as many as 30 films in Telugu, is making his debut as a director in Hindi with Bandook. The film has Aditya himself playing the lead with Manisha Kelkar, the daughter of the late writer Ram Kelkar as his heroine. ‘The title Bandook implies that the revolver is the passport to wield power. I have set out to drive home the message that between picking a gun and pulling the trigger, there lies a civil world where the gun is the climbing ladder to success, power, women etc’, quips Aditya who has succeeded in convincing minister Kapil Sibal to write the song Tu Jaldi Bata which has been composed by Nikhil Kamat and picturised by Aditya on Manisha Kelkar in his film. Aditya says that he is happy that today when no distributor is willing to trust on a new comer, PVR has gone out of the way to release his film, because content is the king today. He is happy as he has come up with his film with new faces including him because he is of the opinion that today a director will nosedive if he delivers a flop with a super star.<

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SPORT

INDIAN FOOTBALL:

NOSTALGIA AND ALL THAT Leonard Messi... the word’s best

How is it while cricket could have its Lalit Modis and Dalmias, football does not have any such visionaries? It seems ironic that while the cricket controlling body was till recently headed by the Nationalist Congress Party’s president and Union minister Sharad Pawar, the All-India Football Federation is headed by another minister belonging to Pawar’s own party, Praful Patel, a dynamic leader bristling with ideas. Can he bring some of his ingenuity to the game?

By Ramu Sharma

n the day the newspapers splashed selection of Leonard Messi for Ballon d’Or, the world’s best footballer of the year honour, devoting more than half a page, with pictures, statistics and even a debate whether he is the all-time great, like Pele, there were two small items buried elsewhere on the same page which almost escaped notice. One was of the crucial I League match between ONGC and East Bengal that was played at Delhi’s Ambedkar stadium that caused a major upset. The Kolkata team, had been upset by this new entrant, a public-sector sponsored team. The other item was about the Santosh Trophy fixtures for the year. The good news is that the tournament is still being held. The baffling part, though, is the scheduling itself. It is being held in two phases and in two states, separated by about 2,000 km. Four teams have been granted direct entry to the Q/F league stage that would be played in two centres in Kerala, Kollam and Kochi, from February 21 to 26, and the final would be on March 3. The qualifying rounds would be in UP, and again in two cities, Lucknow and Varanasi. There would be two cluster matches comprising minor teams. The 18 teams would be in four clusters and only the winners from these clusters would be playing with the straight entries in the two Kerala venues. Driving through Delhi’s heavy traffic that was diverted via the Raj Ghat from the ITO side the other day, when one saw the ghostlike Ambedkar stadium, my colleague could not help wondering if this was

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SPORT the place where once great teams used to play and where during the year-end there would a buzz of activity. There were two great tournaments, the DCM and the century-old Durand, and there would be long queues before the ticket counters and there would be gongs and bugles and dolaks and cheerleaders in Bhangra attire to keep the beat of the deft passes in the middle of the ground and the VIPs, the President for the final, top army officials, envoys and expatriate communities of visiting teams from Iran and South Korea and Malaysia present there. All that was before the stadium was spruced up and pillars came inside the stands to obstruct the view, the floodlights, and walls and metal frames and sand bags came up and the crowds scattered.

Footballâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s moment was snatched by cricket The EPL itself, a clever marketing strategy, has seized the opportunity that the round-the-clock news channels opened up in the last decade of the last century. In India, right in the Mecca of Indian football, one quick-witted stockbroker, Jagmohan Dalmia, was not caught napping. He seized the moment to launch the Indian Premier League for another game. My colleague recalled the time he had taken a train from Calicut in Kerala to go south and in that unreserved third class compartment at around midnight was the popular Punjab team, JCT Mills, Phagwara, who were going towards Trichur, after winning the Sait Nagjee Cup. He could not but help ask the manager of the team, Nishi, where they were going. Nishi said that they had lined up a series of tournaments in the state and from Trichur they would travel to Cochin and then to Kottayam. Asked if they felt homesick after such a month-long stay in this state, far away from Punjab, Nishi said they never got such a reception, they were feted, they were escorted, and they were showered with gifts across the state. That was in the late seventies. Kerala has also

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Brazilian legend Pele

A match inprogress at Ambedkar stadium

changed, perhaps, and they too have been exposed to the round-the-clock TV invasion and have seen the level of the game that the 32 cameras and the latest in technology have highlighted, in contrast to the sepia-coloured live fare

that would seem too dull. And it is just not of the 32 cameras alone. We too have imported players and we too have foreign coaches and we too have the marketing wizards and talking heads. How is it while cricket

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Scrapping local tournaments not a good idea Houghton was also the one to advice that for the development of Indian football they should cut down on the numerous tournaments and concentrate on playing more international matches (to improve the world rankings). Even before Houghtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s suggestion many tournaments across the country have already become extinct. There were so many of them, some even a century old like the Rovers, like the Nizam Gold

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Cup, the Stafford cup, the Sait Nagji Cup and the Chakola and Godevermaraja Cups, the Nehru and Sri Narayana trophies, the Bordolai Cup, all these have vanished. The JCT team has been disbanded, as was the other popular team Mahindra of Mumbai. That great votary of the game, Rusi Modi, who started the excellent Tata Football Academy at Jamshedpur, could not avert the closure of the Tata Football Club in Mumbai.

It seems ironic that while the cricket controlling body is headed by the Nationalist Congress Partyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s president and Union minister Sharad Pawar, the All-India Football Federation is headed by another minister belonging to Pawarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own party, Praful Patel, a dynamic leader bristling with ideas. If only he could bring some of his ingenuity to the game the country he would be doing a great national service.<


BUSINESS & ECONOMY

THROUGH ‘VIBRANT GUJARAT’ MODI WANTS A DREAM FULFILLED

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi raises hands with industrialist Mukesh Ambani, Vajubhai Vala, Japanese TC director Takeshi Yagi, Canadian High Commissoner Stewart Beck and Ratan Tata

By Aaditya Tewari

ne of the many dreams of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is to take on China and let China emulate the Gujarat model. ‘Vibrant Gujarat’, conceived by Modi, is supposed to be India’s answer to Davos, a coming together of the country’s biggest business leaders who commit lakhs of crores of rupees of investments to the state. Modi wants his state to emerge as a nodal centre in Asia to serve as a common platform for countries such as China, Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka. ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ provided Gujarat with a rare sheen that enables it to compare itself with Singapore and China. The summit, organised every two years, is aimed at investment promotion and creating investor-friendly climate. Modi pitched his state as the best destination in India for forging business partnerships with the world.

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No wonder, Modi came in for high praise from several business tycoons who attended the sixth edition of the summit in Gandhinagar. RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani hailed him as a leader with ‘grand vision’ while his younger brother Anil Ambani put him in the league of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. Modi, who scored a hat-trick of wins to remain chief minister for the fourth time, brought the who-is-who of industry to his latest Vibrant Gujarat summit, showcasing why Gujarat is a top destination for big business. Gujarat opened doors far and wide to embrace multinational companies and foreign investors with the implementation of various development schemes. Gujarat’s strong political will and business expertise of the leaders of the state have shaped investment-friendly policies to unleash the potentialities of Gujarat. The three-day grand event was the biggest so far with the summit seeing

Narendra Modi pitches his state as the best destination for forging business partnerships with the world. In the three-day ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ came 17,719 business proposals and promised investments worth Rs 40 lakh crore. Government claimed that around 3.75 lakh jobs would be created in the state through these investment proposals.

17,719 business proposals and promised investments worth Rs 40 lakh crore, which is double the figure promised at the last summit. Government has claimed that around 3.75 lakh jobs would be created in the state through these investment proposals. Delegates from over 120 countries attended it. However, only 15 per cent of the total investment proposed in the first four summits has materialised so far. If the summit in 2011 is also taken into account, the figure is even lower. Thus, Modi government's track record of converting pledged investments into reality has been less than impressive, with even Modi choosing to downplay the numbers during the summit. During the summit, as many 145 universities from the world over came under one roof to explore the possibility of setting up universities in the state. Knowledge sharing and innovation was the focus of the summit.<

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BOOK

GANDHI EFFECT ON CINEMA By Suresh Uniyal

harlie Chaplin met Mahatma Gandhi in London in 1931. He was already known as an ardent supporter of India’s freedom struggle. Chaplin conveyed his views in this regard and best wishes to Gandhiji during the meeting, even as he also expressed his strong reservations on the Indian leader’s anti-machine stance. However, by the time the meeting ended Chaplin seemed to have been completely won over by Gandhiji. This is borne out by the fact that not long after the meeting Chaplin made the classical film ‘Modern Times’ which poignantly portrayed the inhuman aspect of over-mechanisation. No further illustration is needed to show the fantastic impression Gandhiji made on Chaplin in just one meeting. Gandhiji had no fascination at all for cinema, and he frankly admitted that in all his life he had seen just one film--Vijay Bhatt’s ‘Ram Rajya’. On the other hand, Gandhiji and Gandhism had profound influence not only on Indian cinema but also on world cinema, to some extent. Jaiprakash Chokse discusses the Gandhian sway on this art form in his latest book ‘Mahatma Gandhi aur Cinema’.

C

‘Gandhi effect’ Gandhiji returned to India from South Africa in 1915. That was the time when the ‘grand old man of Indian cinema’ Dadasaheb Phalke, and others, started making films. In 1918 Dwarkadas Sampat made the film ‘Mahatma Vidur’, based on the legendary figure of

Title Author Publisher Price

: Mahatma Gandhi aur cinema : Jaiprakash Chokse : Morya Arts Pvt. Ltd. 16, Dattatreya Road, Santacruz (West), Mumbai-400054 : Rs 295

Mahabharata. The interesting point is that the dress and body language of Vidur in the film matched that of Gandhiji! In 1920 a young and restless Debaki Bose left school and joined Gandhiji’s non-cooperation movement. Later he partnered with Dhirendra

Ganguli and wrote many film-scripts for him. After a while Bose returned to Calcutta and produced ‘Chandidas’ (1932) highlighting the caste discrimination prevailing in Indian society. The film was about the love between a Brahmin singer and a washer woman and the trials and tribulations

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BOOK the couple had to face from the upper caste. A film of similar genre, in Ashok Kumar’s ‘Achoot Kanya’ (1936) Devika Rani played a dalit girl in love with an upper caste boy. Both these films reflected Gandhi’s perception on the curse of caste and untouchability. Well-known film lyricist Pradeep has penned many a song on Gandhiji. One composition in his film ‘Jagriti’ became an all time hit: De dee hamen azadi bina khadga bina dhal, Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamaal (O saint of Sabarmati, it is a miracle that you did in getting us freedom without the use of sword and armour).

CONCURRENT HISTORY BY A WITNESS

Faces of Gandhiji Richard Attenborough’s classic production ‘Gandhi’ was released in India on November 30, 1982. It was nominated for Academy Awards in eleven categories, winning eight, including the best picture of the year. Ben Kingsley who played the title role won the best-actor award. Fourteen years later Shyam Benegal produced ‘The Making of Mahatma’ on the South African chapter of Gandhiji’s life. Rajit Kapoor played Gandhiji in the film. One sees ‘Gandhiji’ in very many other films too. In Ketan Mehta’s ‘Sardar Patel’ (1993) Gandhiji was played by Annu Kapur. In Kamal Hasan’s ‘Hey Raam’ Naseeruddin Shah depicted Gandhiji’s role. Anil Kapoor produced one feature film ‘Gandhi, My Father’ (2007) on the failures of Gandhiji. Darshan Jareewala played Gandhiji’s role while his son Hiralal Gandhi was played by Akshay Khanna. Here the son accuses the father for his many commissions and omissions. In Raju Hirani’s ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’ (2006) we see a goon pursuing ‘gandhigiri’ in un-Gandhian times. Marathi actor Dilip Prabhavalkar played Gandhiji in this film. Jhanu Barua made ‘Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara’ in 2005. It is the story of one Prof. Uttam Chaudhry (played by Anupam Kher), a Gandhiadherent who suffers from dementia and fantasises that he killed Gandhiji. The same year in Deepa Mehta’s ‘Water’ Gandhiji was portrayed by Mohan Jhangiyani. Apart from feature films a few documentaries were also made on the life of Gandhiji. Soon after independence Patel India Company made one titled ‘Gandhiji’. Thereafter the Films Division made one on Dandi March. Some documentaries were made on Gandhiji’s non-cooperation movement as well. Gandhiji’s picture on the title page of the book has been done by the well-known Hindi author and painter Prabhu Joshi.<

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etween the covers of a 420page volume, meant as his autobiography Kuldip Nayar has managed to give a concise history of Independent India without leaving out anything of importance. It is not the narration of a disinterested, independent historian that we get to read, but that of one who lived it with all the excitements of an active participant. He begins with the traumatic aftermath of the Partition and ends with another equally convulsive days of the UPA II when exposures of one big corruption is followed by several more fraud cases of far bigger dimensions. Starting with the euphoric years of Nehru when Nayar

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chanced to enter his long and colourful journalistic career, he takes us through his eventful period with two great leaders--Govind Ballabh Pant and Lal Bahadur Shastri—and the latter’s mysterious death at Tashkent , the bustling Indira era covering Bangladesh war, Shimla Conference, Emergency and the Operation Bluestar with its tragic aftermath, the coalition years of Rajiv Gandhi, VP Singh, Morarji Desai, IK Gujral, Narasimha Rao, AB Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. Nayar worked closely with Pant and Shastri as their Press Information Officer and hence was privy to all that was going on, but in most others’ cases he had only a peeping view of the proceedings. Even then he was at an advantageous position: as the


BOOK

Title Author 110048 Price

: Beyond The Lines : Kuldip Nayar Roli Books New Delhi: Rs 595.00

Managing Editor of UNI, a premier news service, and later as the Resident Editor of The Statesman he was seldom away from the centre of gravity. In fact, Nayar has had a

distinguished career which took him to the pinnacle of journalism, to a short stint in diplomacy (High Commissioner in London) and to Parliament (a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha).What stands out in

all these spheres is his uncanny ability to manipulate the flow of events to his advantage. With his affable yet nosey manners and unstinting efforts he had no difficulty in reaching vantage positions where others of his station were not very successful. Probably much can be attributed to the propitious accident of his flight from Sialkot (now in Pakistan) in a hurry and arrival in Delhi in September 1947 when it was in a mess. The adversity brought out the best in him. With all its value as a compendium of events which throw light on many bits of interesting facts, the book is entirely Nayarcentric. Being an autobiographical volume this slant cannot be faulted. To be fair in the Preface he says he wished to avoid being accused ‘of projecting myself’, but he does exactly that all over. The point is that this aspect is a bit too jarring and gives the impression that but for Kuldip Nayar recent Indian history would not have been what it is. Comparisons are always odious, but one has to point out that this is the third autobiography by eminent Indian scribes to come out in the last one year, and neither of the other suffers from this blot. There is a more serious problem that mars the value of the book. It is true that these days when SMSs and Facebook jargons are accepted as samples of Queen’s English, nobody cares about grammar, syntax, spellings and so on. But when an editor writes, especially when one has been the chief of a respected national daily which used to be accepted as the final word in these matters, people sit up and take note. One is pained to say that nobody seems to have edited or proof-read the book, though it is claimed that some eminent personality had been entrusted with the work. The most charitable construction is that he forgot to do the job. (By VSP Kurup)<

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EARTHY DREAMS

Don’t misuse gang-rape case! he simple Delhi gang-rape case is being converted into a cause célèbre by different interest groups to suit their assorted needs and purposes. Thus social groups, feminist bodies, political parties etc. are out to extract maximum milage out of it or promote their hobby horse. Media is also using the issue to increase its TRP. In this free-for- all the fear is that the central idea of cutting rape incidents and ensuring justice to victims might get mangled. May be, there is a spurt in rape cases in recent years, but in fact rape incidents in India are 20 times less than in developed countries. Basically, it is a patent menace in the west. Compared to India’s 1.8 rapes per lakh of population there were 27.3 in the US, 28.8 in the UK, 63 in Sweden and 79.5 in Australia in 2010, according to UN statistics. This fact, however, should not detract us from fighting this crime and shame tooth and nail. But how do we go about it? We do not agree on many points. For instance, feminists demand complete autonomy of female body devoid of all moral and social control. But the next step is dreadful commoditisation of sex! Commoditisation of beauty has already become the norm in globalised society. It leads to free use of beauty (female body) in ads and direct sales. Let us look at another point. Deep in the shadow of the glittery world of pubs and discos, is a class of people who struggle hard to eke out a living. Hundreds of millions thus work in inhuman conditions for a pittance. In the Delhi gang-rape case the accused teenager had left his parental home at the age of eleven to earn his livelihood in dhabas and ghettoes. The brutally abusive environment prepared him (we create him) for nothing but a criminal future. No wonder he did not understand the finer divisions of morality, ethics, culture and law. To correct him and his kind, our feminists’ suggestion is to change the mindset of men! Not reforming the system, because that is not easy. We always look for the easy way out. The focus of debate, therefore, must shift to making punishment more stringent. There also we see no consensus. The Verma panel on the basis of memos received from the public suggested certain concrete measures. But the government always knows best. So, throwing out all inconvenient suggestions of the panel the government hastily prepared an ordinance and asked the President to sign which he obligingly did. The feminists (and many others) had to reject the ordinance because what they sought was not there. The feminists particularly wanted to outlaw rape within marriage. Many do not agree; inclusion of marital rape in the proposed Bill, they argue, is devoid of even the basic rationale. If there is rape in marriage, where does marriage fit in? The demand is dangerous to the institution of marriage and will destroy family life as we know. Unfortunately feminist approach is influenced by dangerous western thinking. It is bound to make more single women crave for male company and cause more divorces! The idea of consent for sex in the name of autonomy of female body is preposterous as it is an exercise in commoditisation of sex and an effort to get a tool for blackmailing. The feminists should rather shift their attention to positive values of social development. The attempt to use the gang-rape to distort society norms needs to be condemned by all.<

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