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Posts Tagged ‘BJP

India’s Nationalists vs Separatists

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In a rather peculiar demand, the opposition BJP on Wednesday sought the resignation of Home Minister P Chidambaram for Tuesday’s police action on its youth wing workers in Delhi. The party stalled Parliament on the issue, and sensing an opportunity to play the nationalist card, asserted that the UPA government had allowed separatist elements to congregate in the Capital while it “brutally” cracked down on those who raised the issue of corruption.

Though the main opposition party stalled both Houses – which drew criticism from the CPM with its leader Brinda Karat terming the stalling of Rajya Sabha as a “joint operation” of the BJP and the government – sources said the demand for the resignation or sacking of Chidambaram was mere posturing and the party would allow Parliament to function on Thursday.

Chidambaram wanted to give a statement in the House and he conveyed this to Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and his deputy S S Ahluwalia when Chairman Hamid Ansari met them in his chamber in the morning. But the BJP was not willing to listen to a statement “prepared by the Delhi Police”, and insisted Chidambaram offer his resignation.

From Calcutta to Kashmir

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By Avirook Sen

For a march that kicked off so close to my home in Calcutta’s Shyambazar, this thing has gotten somewhat out of hand, and more than somewhat ridiculous.

On January 12, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) youth wing flagged off what they called the ‘ekta yatra’ – a march for unity.

The plan was to converge on Lal Chowk in Srinagar, the arson-prone heart of Kashmir, from all over the country, to hoist the Indian tricolour on Republic Day. Assert a fundamental right, remind the fellow in the firan where it’s at, and so on. Alas, the plan lacked idiot-proofing from conception to execution.

A bunch of merry right-wing youth from Karnataka in the south, boarded a train bound for Kashmir. But sometime after midnight, when the train had barely gotten a fifth of the way there, the poor boys fell asleep, dreaming dreams of national unity.

Alert security forces grabbed their chance. At a station in Maharashtra, they detached the bogeys containing the future flag-hoisters from the mother train. They then attached the bogeys to a train headed back to Bangalore, where the volunteers had breakfast.

While the rest of us laughed our heads off, spokesmen for the BJP objected in the strongest possible terms: “Our workers had valid tickets!”

There is a sense of deja vu about these events. In late 1991, a year before they demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the BJP undertook almost the exact same march. The then president of the party, Murli Manohar Joshi, led the marchers.

Landslides (and a not a little Kashmiri outrage) prevented Joshi’s followers from reaching the spot. Joshi himself had to be flown in, amid what witnesses called the tightest security they had seen. Sympathetic commentators put the number of people getting to Lal Chowk at 40, including journalists. Curfew had been imposed on the town and announcements made that Lal Chowk had been handed over to the army.

There are varying reports of how the actual hoisting took place on January 26, 1992.

It is clear that security personnel helped Joshi with the flag, but when he was raising it to the pedestal of the clock tower on which it was supposed to fly, the rod broke and knocked the old man on the head. It has been reported that the flag was finally hoisted on a lamppost. Having raised the flag, a slightly dizzy Joshi left the scene and went off to plot the razing of a mosque.

Leading the marchers this time is a fellow called Anurag Thakur, MP, and the son of the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh. An official website lists his professions as “cricketer” and “industrialist”. Though what he really does is run an export house and make sure, with a little help from papa, that he’s in control of all cricket administration in his home state.

His own webpage has a picture of a cricket team with a trophy in front, he sits in the middle with a blue jacket, the boys are in white. The header reads: “If he can do this in sports, he can do better in politics. There is a need to bring young talent to the forefronts (sic) of politics.”

By the standards of Indian politics, this chap should visit the pediatrician if he catches a cold during his march, but at 36, he’s been pushed to the forefront all right.

Now all he has to do is find a suitable lamppost, and not injure himself, or cause injury to others. In Shyambazar, where it all began, Republic Day represents a peaceful holiday. That I have from the horse’s mouth.

Occupied Jammu Kashmir puppet government wants Azadi

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By: Rohit Kumar

More trouble for Corrupt Congress: Its minister wants azadi for Kashmir

“Freeing Kashmir would free a major chunk of central funds”; “If Kashmiris want azadi, give it to them”, Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma said

In an apparent nosedive for India’s moral high ground and unwavering stance on the Occupation of Kashmir, the JK government has itself – symbolically as well as politically – outshone the Kashmiri freedom fighters and civilian activists that Delhi calls ‘militants’ and terrorists. After Arundhati Roy, a sitting State Minister has also joined the azadi bandwagon – embarrassing his own government which faces precarious circumstances both at the Centre and in the volatile the state.

Sharma urged the Centre to divide the three regions of the state – give ‘azadi’ to Kashmir, make Jammu a separate state and give the Union Territory status to Ladakh. Sharma said: “If Kashmiris want ‘azadi’, give it to them.” Sharma holds the portfolio of State Health Minister along with the additional charge of Horticulture and Floriculture.

Other party leaders, including state president and MP Saifuddin Soz, could be seen squirming on the dais. Sharma went on: “While there are voices for ‘azadi’ in Kashmir, people in Jammu and Ladakh complain of discrimination in all spheres.”

Freeing Kashmir would free a major chunk of central funds that are sent for the state’s development, which ultimately end up in the Valley, State Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma said yesterday at a public rally in Bani, nearly 200 kilometres from Jammu. Sharma said: “Kashmiris take away a major share of funds allocated by the Centre and also show eyes at it. On the other hand, those who get discriminated against remain silent.” Such a situation cannot be tolerated for long, he pointed out.

He said it was time to end such regional discrimination within the state. He said those advocating unity and integrity of all the three regions in the state should be shunned.

Turning to Soz who, besides being the party’s state president, is also a Rajya Sabha member and a former Union minister, Sharma said: “I request that my proposal be implemented on ground.”

The minister’s remarks evoked sharp criticism from Opposition BJP and also colleagues in the Cabinet and party as well. While BJP leaders Nirmal Singh and Ashok Khajuria described the minister’s public statement as treason and demanded his immediate arrest and dismissal from the state Cabinet, state Congress vice president Abdul Gani Vakil said the comments were unfortnuate. He as a Cabinet minister should not have talked of ‘azadi’ to Kashmir and division of the state, he added.

A senior Congress minister from Jammu in the Omar Abdullah Cabinet who also happens to be in the camp of Saifuddin Soz, said that Sharma’s statement was against the policy of the Congress party which is committed to not only the unity and integrity of the state, but also its equitable development.

Though State Congress president Saifuddin Soz tried to counter the minister saying that unity and integrity of the state was of paramount importance and that the Congress was committed to maintaining and strengthening it, it did not satisfy many within the party. According to them, Soz was helpless to do anything in the matter as Sharma belonged to his camp in the already faction-ridden Congress unit in the state.

In a situation where he himself had been keeping a distance from those owing allegiance to Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Soz was not in a position to annoy people in his own camp, they pointed out. In typical damage-control mode, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi described Sharma’s remarks as his “personal view” and said the party’s stand “is very clear – autonomy within the framework of the Indian Constitution”.

“We are all answerable to AICC President Sonia Gandhi and what we say here will be considered as the Congress’ word and we must speak along the party line”, Soz said.

Seeking to downplay Sharma’s view, Singhvi told reporters in Delhi: “I can only describe it as a personal opinion. He was at a rally in his own home state and certainly this is his personal view.”

“Some of the words which I have heard, I can either describe it as a metaphorical speak which should not be taken literally,” he said adding, “In any case, we do not accept any such allegations.”

National Executive Member and former Pradesh President Nirmal Singh told reporters: “Sharma has taken oath under the Constitution and his statement tantamounts to treason and therefore an FIR should be registered against him and he should be arrested forthwith.”

Senior BJP leader of the state Chaman Lal Gupta said Congress should come out openly on what its minister in the coalition government has said.

Sharma alleges Jammu and Ladakh regions have been discriminated by “Kashmir-centric” leadership and “this has strengthened our view point”.

Gupta, who is BJP legislature party leader, said: “We want Congress to understand the hard fact that the government has been discriminating Jammu and Ladakh for decades and this has been rightly realised by Sharma who is a minister in the coalition government headed by the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.”

Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) chief Bhim Singh accused the Congress of playing the “most mischievous game to disintegrate Kashmir from the rest of the country.”

“This is clear by the statement made by the Congress Minister in presence of JKPCC President that Kashmir should be given a ‘azadi’,” he said.

Reservations: Dilemmas Galore

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By: Ram Puniyan

Heated debate has been generated around women’s reservation bill (WRB) with both sides having their inflexible positions. On one side there are those calling for its implementation and on the other those who are opposing it. This is a superficial view of debate. As such the debate is, on side are those saying that it should be implemented as it is and on the other side are those who say that there should be quota for OBC dalit, minorities within the quota. There are very few who are totally opposed to WRB, there are many willing to support it if quota within quota is accepted, so to paint them as being against Women’s reservation is unfair. The bill is hanging fire from last one and a half decade, and the rigidity of both sides is so obvious. In democracy it need not be just a brute majority which should work; a process of consensus should be tried before polarizing the issue.

One can very well say it is a bit of the reminder of Mandal days. Many of those opposing Mandal are the strongest champions of this bill while the supporters of Mandal are trying to argue that if implemented in the present form, it will increase the hegemony of upper castes, as the upper caste women are in a better position to compete, while the lower castes and Minorities will be left behind. The supporters of reservation as WRB is, rhetorically dismiss the concern of quota within quota by saying that if these parties are so concerned with that section of women, why have they not given them more seats so far? The same argument can be turned up side down to say that those who are strong proponents of the bill as it is; how much they have bothered to give the tickets to women. By present estimates the three major parties Congress, BJP and Communists, if they would have followed this in allotting more tickets to women, by now the composition of parliament would have been very different.

The point is that, precisely because parties give tickets on winnablity criterion, women are not given tickets in proportion to their percentage in population, and so the need for reservation. The opponents of quota within quota argue that this will divide the women! Question is, are all the women united? The upper caste women, do they supp comfortably with the lower caste? What type of unity of women prevails when a large section of Muslim women have been forced into ghettoes in the aftermath of massive carnage, which in turn has created fear amongst minorities and a situation where they are excluded from social space.

One recalls with pain and horror that during communal violence a section of the women from majority community have been bystanders, if not outright assisters, when the women from minority community were raped! What unity we are talking about? There are surely many concerns which are common to all the women, but in our society unfortunately the caste, class and religion divide has affected the concerns of different sections of women.

The empowerment of women is an absolute must for democratization process of society, so rather than polarizing the debate there is a need to pass the bill with some modifications with a consensus, brought in by taking the concerns of its opponents in present form seriously. Those who oppose the women’s reservations in toto can be bypassed but the opinion of quota within quota is a different terrain.

There is another glaring phenomenon taking place in the society since independence. The representation of Muslims in Parliament is on a constant decline. From last Lok Sabha to the present one there is a reduction, from 36 to current just 29 of them. The present number of Muslim MPs is close to half of what it was in the initial period of the republic. One welcomes the move to ensure the improvement of empowerment of women, but what about declining representation of Muslim minority? One is sure with present social dynamics it is going to slide down further. Is it a sign of health of democracy or does it indicate that democratic process is being subverted from deep within the system by the communalization of society.

At another level one can safely talk about the reservation for dalits, OBC’s and women, but when it comes to the question of Muslim minorities; all the antennas are up to sense that it is dividing the nation. What in fact is dividing the nation is the regular occurrence of violence against minorities, what is dividing the nation is the ghettoisation of minorities and the constant propaganda demonizing them on one pretext or the other.

It is in this context that the Judgment of Supreme Court restoring the Andhra Pradesh law for 4 percent quota for backward Muslims in Jobs and colleges is most welcome. We are going through delicate times when there is some superficial concern shown for minorities, Sachar Committee is appointed, Rangnath Mishra Commission is appointed, but the rulers get cold feet when their recommendation are to be implemented. Rangnath Mishra Commission recommends 15% reservation for Muslims, but not much is being heard on this front.

Most hypocritical stance on the issue of reservation has been that of BJP. It has been the constant opponent of reservations for dalits and OBCs on the ground that this is discriminatory, and due to this the meritorious candidates will be left behind. During the speech in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitly of BJP (March 09, 2010) while defending the WRB, stated that it is a myth that reservation creates privileged society. He also said that with WRB politics of tokenism will be replaced by that of representation. Sane words. Only thing is there are double standards in this. So far we heard something totally contrary from BJP worthies as far as reservations were concerned.

Unfortunately the reservation has to be resorted to in our democracy as the proper democratic process has failed to take care of the needs of deprived sections of society. A holistic approach to reservation to all sections of deprived communities is what we need and that’s what will ensure that the gross disparities are done away and justice reaches to all section of society.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

April 8, 2010 at 6:23 am

War against Naxal a failure: Indian Home Secretary

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THE DAWN

India: Bloody Naxal insurgency turns nasty ·Bharat (aka India) has been waging a fruitless war against the Naxals and the Maoists who control about 40% of the landmass of Bharat. The Security forces faced a huge defeat when 75 were killed in a Naxal counter attack. Now the Bharati Home Minister, Pillai has admitted that the disastrous operation has been a failure.

NEW DELHI: The government today ruled out use of air power in the fight against Naxalites and admitted obviously some element of failure in the operations led to the killing of 75 security personnel in Chhattisgarh today.

In a brief statement, the Home Secretary said that there were some element of failure in the operation.

“Preliminary reports indicate that the CPI(Maoists) had planted pressure bombs in surrounding areas where the security forces might take cover. As a result of this bulk of the casualties have taken place,” he said.

Pillai said all the 82 personnel who had participated in the operation have been accounted for and none has been captured by the Maoists. Times of India.

Tamils, Naxalites, Maoists, and the people of the Northeast soon started their struggle to throw the reins of New Delhi’s rule away and have their own independent countries under their own control. The Brahmin rulers in New Delhi, however, emerged with firm control on these rebellious states. Any voice of dissent was crushed with the help of a powerful and well-disciplined British-trained army. Indians also exploited some weak points of these rebellious populations. Tamils, for example, were misguided and lead to path that brought a lot of death and destruction of Tamils themselves. Indians started training and equipping Tamil youth under the name of LTTE and started an insurgency in Sri Lanka with a demand for an independent Tamil country. Indians got double advantage of that strategy. The civil war in Sri Lanka diverted the attention and focus of Tamils who originally wanted to get Tamil Nadu state out of Indian Union.
The government had launched an offensive called “Operation Green Hunt” against the Maoist militia in the hinterland of several states in east and central India where they have dug in and even control large tracts of territory inhabited by poor tribals that is beyond the pale of the administration.
“Something has gone very wrong,” a sombre Chidambaram told reporters outside his North Block office.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power in Chhattisgarh, called for an “all-out offensive” against the Maoists and said the government should embark on a “fight to finish” against the extremists. BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the party will support the government in its anti-Maoist battle.
The government on Tuesday reacted with shock and outrage at the brutal killing of 75 paramilitary troopers by Maoists in the dense forests of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh with Home Minister P Chidambaram admitting that “something has gone very wrong”.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke with Chidambaram and called for an immediate meeting of the National Security Council to take stock of what he once called the country’s “biggest internal security challenge”. Hindustan Times
The Dantewada killings may leave the Centre with no option but to hit back at the Maoists to try and regain the advantage in a battle that is as much political and about morale as it is about waging hard combat in hostile jungles ruled by the red ultras. Times of India

Elaborating on goverment stategy to take on the Naxals, the home secretary said, “I don’t think we need to use air power at the moment (in the anti-naxal operation). We can manage with what we have. Our strategy is unfolding and we should be able to manage without air power,” Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai told reporters here.

However, he made it clear that the air power will be used only for evacuation and for mobility of troops.

Pillai called the Maoists “murderers” and said the government’s resolve was strengthened and it would continue to tackle the Maoist menace as planned.

The home secretary said the CRPF personnel returning to its base camp after two days of operations when the early hours of this morning it came under fire from hill features just about four kilometres from its base camp.

“As of now 74 CRPF personnel, including a Deputy Commandant and an Assistant Commandant and a Head Constable of state police force have died. Seven injured have been brought to Jagdalpur,” he said.

He said those who have gone from the base camp – to rescue the attacked team, also came under fire.

“One of the helicopter which has been dispatched to bring in the injured personnel also came under fire from the Maoists,” he added. Times of India.

This massive failure has implications for the Indian Union alread wracked with insurrection in the West (Kashmir) and East (Assam). In fact almost every state has an insurgency raging-all under the radar of the international media-all hidden by India Inc’s Panglossian gloss, under the smoke and mirrors of “Incredible India” . The thin veneer of “Shining India” cannot hide the shallow structure underneath.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

April 8, 2010 at 5:20 am

First The Sorrow Now The Shame

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Fast track courts. 123 cases. 89 convictions and 303 acquittals. SANJANA travels to Kandhamal to find the wounds of an anti-Christian violence still festering


Debris The church at Beheraga village, which was destroyed in 2008, lies untouched

THE FIRST look is deceptive – Pira Digal seems unusually calm as she walks the dusty road, her bright blue sari primly tucked in place. There is no frown on her face despite the blazing sun. A second later, she offers to take us to her colony. In the colony, amid scattered rags and pitched plastic tents, she introduces herself as the widow of Kanteshwar Digal who was hacked to death in August 2008 during the communal violence that ravaged Orissa’s Kandhamal district.

“I am no longer angry because I lost my husband. I have come to terms with his death. But how can I forget that the court set the men who killed my husband free? Will someone tell me what the word ‘justice’ means?” asks Pira. As her composure crumbles, giving way to angry tears, Pira flings a file of papers to the ground. Among the papers that fall out are copies of the First Information Report (FIR) relating to Kanteshwar’s death, court affidavits and death certificates – clear indicators of Pira’s engagement with the courts and the police as she fought to bring her husband’s killers to book.


Solemn prayers Worshippers at Divya Jyothy’s chapel at K Nuagaon. The centre was burnt down in 2008

On March 2, 2010, when the news broke that fast track courts had acquitted 52 people accused of involvement in the Kandhamal anti-Christian violence, nobody was surprised. A quick glance at the figures explains why. The two fast track courts were set up in 2008 to look into 123 cases. Sixty-three cases have been disposed of since, with 89 people being convicted. As many as 303 people have been acquitted of charges like murder, rape and burning down houses. Against this figure, news of 52 people going home – cleared of all charges – understandably evoked little interest.


Moving on A volunteer cleans up at Jana Vikas head office 18 months after it was burnt down

Among those acquitted were key district BJP leaders, including Manoj Pradhan – Kandhamal’s elected representative to the Legislative Assembly. A first time MLA, Pradhan was the primary accused in eight cases with charges of murder, abetting murder and arson against him. But he was acquitted in all of them by the fast track court which pointed to the lack of conclusive evidence against him. Even if the extraordinarily high rate of acquittals triggers no alarm bells, the fact that nothing could be found to nail the district’s elected representative in eight cases makes one wonder if justice is coming undone in Kandhamal. TEHELKA travelled to the region to take a closer look at the judgements and to speak to the various stakeholders. The journey raised far more questions than expected.

Consider Pira’s account. Her husband Kanteshwar was found dead on September 16, 2008 – 14 days after he was dragged off the bus he and Pira were travelling in. The post-mortem report recorded grievous injuries to Kanteshwar’s body as well as severe internal bleeding – he had been hacked to death and strangled by a rope. Police registered a case of homicide and, during the course of investigations, recorded Pira’s statement where she said Pradhan and his associate, Mannu Ganda, had dragged her husband off the bus. The police chargesheet named Pradhan, Ganda and six others as prime accused in the case. Almost a year later, the fast track court acquitted Pradhan and Ganda of all charges by “extending the benefit of doubt”. It said there was no credible witness to the murder, and nothing to conclusively establish that the accused had committed the murder, since there was a 14-day delay between Kanteshwar’s disappearance and the discovery of his decomposed body.

Ask Pira about the judgement and why Pradhan and Ganda were released and she minces no words. “Right from the time the FIR was filed, I knew that Pradhan would get away scot free. Neither the police nor the courts are blind to the power he wields in this region. Not everyone can withstand the harassment,” she says.

Pira should know. For a year now, Pira and her family have been harassed and threatened with dire consequences by Pradhan’s associates if they proceeded with the case. She stood her ground – only to have the judge dismiss her testimony as questionable. Pira adds that the police investigation has been shoddy and incomplete. When she approached police, hours after Kanteshwar was dragged off the bus, Pira was packed off and told to return if her husband did not return home. Five days later, when her brotherin- law went to the police station, police recorded Kanteshwar as “missing”, even though Pira and others insisted that he had been dragged off the bus and killed. In his judgement, Judge CR Dash pointedly referred to this “change” in the witness’ statement. He also cast doubt over Pira’s ability to identify Pradhan in the crowd since she had never met him previously. Pira responds in a tone that barely conceals her anger: “Do I have to meet Rahul Gandhi to recognise him?”

Pira’s case is not an isolated one. Of the eight cases that TEHELKA tracked, the judgments in each cast doubt over the witnesses’ statements and the shoddy police investigation. In another case against Pradhan, the MLA was acquitted on charges of rioting and setting Butia Digal’s house ablaze after the judge, SK Dash, questioned the credibility of Butia’s testimonies and that of seven other witnesses. The judge found it incredible that the witnesses had recognised Pradhan, even though the incident took place “during the dark night and in an area without electricity”. The homes, in this case, were completely burnt down – they were doused with kerosene before being set alight. The fact that the witnesses could see the faces of the people because of the flames went unquestioned.’How can I forget that the court set my husband’s killers free,’ says Pira, a widow

ANOTHER FACT that Justice Dash brought up to cast doubt about the police investigation was Butia’s age. At the time of recording statements, the investigating officer at Raikia police station noted Butia’s age as 35 when he was actually 60. The judge added that the investigating officer did not mark the exact location of the bush behind which the witnesses hid and watched their homes being burnt down. These facts were sufficient for the judge to give Pradhan the benefit of doubt and acquit him of all charges.

These acquittals come amid several instances where witnesses filed affidavits before the same courts alleging threats to withdraw their cases or to give false testimonies during cross-examination. In the affidavits that TEHELKA accessed, the witnesses clearly name the case accused as the ones issuing the threats. In Bodimunda village that falls under Tikabali police station, the threats went a step further. Last month, Hindus attacked Christians who continued to attend court hearings, unmindful of the threats they had been issued. The plastic tents that the Christians had pitched just outside the village were torn apart and a series of cases filed against them. The police registered five cases – three against Christians and two against Hindus in the village. Fearing for their lives, the Christian residents of Bodimunda fled to Bhubaneswar.Witnesses have been threatened to withdraw their cases or to give false testimony

When TEHELKA approached Pradipta Panigrahy, the police inspector in charge of Tikabali police station, she admitted on record that the situation in the village had gotten out of hand since “there were four or five Hindus – members of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) – who paid no heed to the police or the district administration reconciliation efforts”. She added: “The police have no control over them and in any case, bail is accorded to them in all the cases we register against them.” (A month after the violence broke out, the case in which the Bodimunda villagers were appearing as witnesses was disposed of by the fast track court. All the accused were acquitted.)

In November 2009, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik filed a written admission in the Assembly where he said “85 persons of RSS, 321 persons of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and 118 persons of Bajrang Dal had been arrested for their involvement in the Kandhamal riots”. The question is: will the fast track courts set up by Patnaik’s government deliver the justice due to those affected by the violence? On last count, there were 71 cases waiting for that justice to be delivered.

WRITER’S EMAIL
sanjana@tehelka.com

‘It Is A Congress Conspiracy Against The Minorities’

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Akhilesh Yadav, chief of the SP’s Uttar Pradesh unit, tells NEHA DIXIT how the UPA is misleading the nation on the Women’s Reservation Bill

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad have called the Women’s Reservation Bill a political conspiracy.
The Samajwadi Party is not against the Bill. Of course, the Bill in its present form is a conspiracy to keep out the minorities. The BJP and the Congress are scared of the mettle of backward class leaders like Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh and Ram Vilas Paswan. Hence, they are hesitating to include reservation of backward classes in the women’s Bill. SP also wants the upliftment of women. We are only asking for the inclusion of Dalits, Muslims and minorities.

But by opposing the Bill, you are dismissing reservation for women altogether.
Reservation for women has to be party-based. Women should get 50 percent reservation in government jobs. Parties should take the initiative to reserve tickets for women from all strata of society. All parties issue tickets to those with money and muscle power. We are demanding this should change.

We don’t want to see wives of bureaucrats occupying seats in Parliament. The whole purpose will be defeated then. Hence, women’s empowerment is only possible if 33 percent of tickets in each party are reserved for women.

All major parties including the BJP, Congress and the Left are criticising the SP’s stand.
The Left’s opposition is totally political. The BJP and Congress support the Bill but they need to answer a question: till date, why has Parliament not seen a single Muslim MP elected from Orissa, Punjab, Uttaranchal or Madhya Pradesh? With this sort of non-representation of minorities, who will guarantee representation of women from the backward classes? Clearly, it is not possible.

The BJP was supporting the Bill but is now demanding a debate. I know several Congress MPs who have, off the record, told me that they too disagree with the Bill. They too demand reservation for Muslims and Dalits.

‘Several Congress MPs have, off the record, told me that they too disagree with the Bill’

Who are these Congress MPs?
I can’t name them as Congress is dictatorial. It has a system of firing dissenters.

But the first woman Lok Sabha Speaker, Meira Kumar, is also a Dalit.
Both Meira Kumar and President Pratibha Patil have been elected to their respective offices on merit. Meira Kumar has risen to that position through her efforts, not through reservation. Congress has a history of not giving tickets to women. They are merely misleading the nation.

Will SP’s withdrawal of support to UPA make any difference to the Bill?
If nothing else, it will at least expose them. All those in the Congress who are pompously sleeping and eating at Dalit homes must understand that this will not make any difference to their lives. The Dalits and minorities must be given adequate representation for their progress. We were supporting the Congress because we wanted the BJP to stay out of power. We were supporting it for secular values. However, there is no option but to withdraw if it chooses to ignore those values.