By B.G. Verghese
There are lessons to be learnt from the two terror blasts in Hyderabad and Bangalore. The first lesson is that no lessons have been learnt. The same partisan rhetoric has disgraced the discourse with a Congressspokesperson falling so low as to say that the Bangalore incident, in close proximity to the BJP office there, was masterminded by that party for electoral gain. The Congress has “distanced” itself from this claptrap,but the man,typically, goes unpunished like AjitPawar, Beni Prasad Verma and others for whom an apology is like water off a duck’s back. Obama, speaking soon after the Boston blast, said that at that moment there were no Democrats or Republicans but only Americans united in their determination to crush terror.
Commentators on the Boston marathon terror attack, the firstafter 9/11, noted that unlike the confusion and finger-pointing that that prevails here, the Boston police immediately cordoned off the area, bystanders rushed to assist the wounded and traumatised, while disaster relief personnel were at their stations immediately, attending to their assigned tasks. Here we have not as yet been able to agree on a modified national counter-terrorism centre while the power unilaterally to deploy Union forces recommenced by the Administrative Reforms Commission was opposed by several states as violative of the basic federal structure at a very poorly attended meetingof chief ministers.
The contrast shows the petty nonsense to which our politics and preparedness has been reduced by, shallow, self-seeking, loud-mouthed politicians. Nothing illustrates this more than the furious though fatuous debate about NarendraModi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for 2014.Apart from the BJP being badly divided on this, Nitish Kumar has made it clear that the JD(U) will not have a communalist leading the NDA. The JD(U) rejects the BJP’s emphasis on a uniform civil code, abrogation of Article 370 and building a Ram mandir on the site of the Babri Masjid.
As far as the UCC is concerned, neither party knows what it is prattling about. The JD(U) like the Congress and others believes that legislating a UCC entails abrogating personal laws guaranteed by the Constitution and would therefore deliver a body blow to secularism. This betrays constitutional and legal illiteracy of a very high order. Part of a UCC, such as the Special Marriage Act, is already extant and has never been challenged as ultra vires as no challenge lies whatsoever. So why is the JD(U) tilting with windmills? Likewise, the Constitution places marriage and divorce,adoption, succession, wills and partitions in the Concurrent List on which States have full powers to legislate. Goa has a long had a full- fledged UCC. That being so, why has NarendraModi or any other BJP state never ever attempted to legislate a UCC? Quite clearly because UCC primarily concerns property relationships and male-chauvinist politicians do not wish to bestow property rights on women. So both the BJP and Congress speak po
werfully about gender justice but will be damned if they grant women equal property rights.
BJP spokespersons promoting Modi for PM are finding the going more difficult by the day as investigations into the Gujarat 2002 increasingly rend his cover up. After having faced every kind of stone-walling, ZakiaJafri, has at last been given the SIT’s closure report to the Supreme Court giving Modi, then both CM and Home Minister, a clean chit. Zakia is the widow of EhsanJafri who was savaged and barbarically burnt alive in Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Society with a few score other innocents, after his frantic calls for succour went unheeded. With the SIT report are records of police control room wireless messages that were for long deliberately withheld by the Gujarat authorities in order to suppress the truth. What they reveal is that the police was well aware of brewing communal violence by VHP-RSS-BJP cadres and acted professionally in sounding urgent alerts and calling for reinforcements and imposition of curfew, only to be countermanded by their superiors who were clearly acting under theorders of their political superiors.
These reports will be dynamite in any re-investigation and subsequent court proceedings. Knowing that, the Modi administration is now seeks to pass the buck by calling for enhanced death sentences for Maya Kodani and BabuBajrangi, currently serving long sentences in prison for their part in the NarodaPatiya massacres. Some lackeys were murdered earlier and others are now being thrown to the wolves to save the grandmaster as the thieves fall out.
The Babri demolition case against L.K. Advani, Kalyan Singh, UmaBharti, VinayKatiyar, MurliManohar Joshi and othershas also taken an odd twistwith the CBI filing a special leave petition before the Supreme Court against its order to drop delayed conspiracy charges against these persons in the interests of justice. But why did the CBI delay this matter in the first place? This kind of laid back functioning shows a lack of urgency on the part of all concerned, the Government included, in pursuing justice in a matter that occurred 21 years ago.
The Supreme Court has also courted controversy in granting Sanjay Dutt an extension of four weeks before he surrenders to complete his remaining three and a half year sentence in jail in the 1993 Mumbai blast case. The actor had sought a six month extension on parole in order to complete several film commitments on which some Rs250crores or more of investments and considerable employment are riding. The leniency shown to Dutton so-called humanitarian conditions was however not initially available to other petitioners one of whom, a woman cancer patient, sought a reprieve from jail until her mercy petition was disposed of one way or the other. This caused a public uproar and was remedied the next day.
The Court’s order on Dutt has stirred avoidable controversy as others convicted are bound to seek similar indulgence. Dutt is not seeking or getting any remission. He is however being given the opportunity for the second time to choose when he wishes to commence or continue his sentence. Many are asking whether a lesser known or poorer person would be shown the consideration Dutt has received?