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From Crow To Hawk

From Crow To Hawk

My earlier piece on the State elections was titled “”The Dove and the Crow”. This corollary is “From Crow to Hawk”. I had also thought of calling it “A Mandate Betrayed”, or “The Butchering of Democracy”. All three would fit the bill.

I received an unprecedented response to my previous article under reference. Most respondents berated the Congress for its “no show”, thereby gifting victory on a platter to the BJP. I reiterate that I am not concerned about the Congress. My concern is to have a viable alternative to the rampaging BJP. Hence I again say, for whatever it is worth, that the sooner Rahul Baba quits the leadership of the Congress, the better for the country. A recent cartoon in a leading daily had the tagline “Where is PK? The Congress is looking for a scapegoat”! This is pathetic. The guy has to go. If we wait till he is defeated in his home turf of Amethi in 2019, it will be just too late.

Congress spokespersons are still shying away from the truth. What is not so obvious is how the victorious BJP has cleverly covered up the “truth” about its tsuNAMO. It is a can of worms, conveniently overlooked by a fawning media, especially the electronic variety. For the good of the nation the truth must be out.

I shall begin with my home State – UP. Yogi Adityanath, an MP, was appointed as the Chief Minister (CM). One of his deputies, Keshav Prasad Maurya, is also an MP. The other deputy CM, Dinesh Sharma, was the Mayor of Lucknow. So none of them won this election to the State Assembly. This is why I call it a betrayal of the people’s mandate. Two others who have been made ministers, Swatantradev Singh and Mohsin Raja, are also not members of either house.

Right across the board the BJP has poached from other parties (ideology be damned) to pick up winning candidates. It has not fought shy of saying that “winnability” was its major criterion for the selection of its candidates. Besides defectors, several with criminal antecedents have also been inducted as ministers in Yogi’s cabinet. Among the turncoats who have been rewarded with ministerial berths are Dr Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Nandgopal Gupta Nandi from the Congress, Swami Prasad Maurya, Brajesh Pathak, Dara Singh Chauhan, Laxminarayan Choudhury and Dhani Singh Saini from the BSP (the biggest loser), and S.P. Singh Baghel and Anil Rajbhar from the SP. The most high profile defector was Rita Joshi, daughter of former Congress Chief Minister of UP, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna. She was till recently the State President of the Congress. At that time she had even spoken to me on the phone about the importance of supporting the Congress and fighting the “communal BJP”. Hypocrisy and opportunism at its worst.

Her brother, Vijay Bahuguna, in neighbouring Uttarakhand (UK), was also its Congress CM, until he was eased out in the aftermath of his inept handling of the Kedarnath floods. He then chose to switch loyalties to the BJP. Satpal Maharaj, who has been made a minister in UK, is another ex-Congressman among others. Across States the BJP, the “party with a difference” has rewarded defectors, old and new, with ministerial berths.

What of criminals? Yogi himself is facing several criminal charges. Among other newly inducted ministers with heinous criminal charges against them are Nand Gopal Nandi, Brajesh Pathak and Suresh Rana. The last was allegedly involved in the Muzzafarnagar riots.

The “party with a difference” has always mocked the Congress and the SP for their dynastic rule. They are no different. Dynastic ministers include Ashutosh Tandon (son of veteran Lalji Tandon), Sandeep Singh (the 20+ grandson of Kalyan Singh) and Atul Garg (son of former Mayor of Ghaziabad, Dinesh Chandra Garg).

It has now been touted that the firebrand Yogi has mellowed after becoming the CM. It reminds me of the adage “Can a leopard change its spots”? The Hindustan Times spotted some of Yogi’s recent statements in parliament. He had reportedly opposed women’s reservation as the role of women was precisely to raise great men. He apparently supported Trump’s ban on Muslims, wanted a ban on religious conversions by inducement or fraud (though this doesn’t seem to apply to BJP ministry formation), a ban on cow slaughter, the enforcement of a Uniform Civil Code, the creation of a separate Purvanchal State, and the changing of the country’s name to Hindustan. He is hoist on his own petard.

He has been in office for scarcely a week and public discourse has already shifted from “development” to other developments like Ram Mandir and the forcible closure of “illegal” slaughter houses; butcherkhanas in Hindi. That is why I referred to it as a butchering of democracy. Incidentally there is no Govt Order on this but overzealous bureaucrats and police officers, eager to curry favour with the new regime, are going overboard to do so.

Yogi is playing with fire, and all of us are in danger of being engulfed in it. There is already a ban on cow slaughter in UP. So is he now trying to stop the slaughter of buffaloes for both meat and hides? This will alienate not just the Muslims, but all those in related trades like tanneries, leather exports, bone crushing (used for calcium tablets), glue works etc. Is he not behaving like a bull in a china shop? The pun is intended.

Let us now unmask the truth about Manipur. Obsessed as the media has been with UP, it paid scant regard to the machinations in this tiny north eastern State. The Congress won 28 of the 60 seats, just 3 short of a clear majority. The BJP was way behind with 21 seats. Yet it clinched the numbers game. Here again there was no ideology or lofty nationalism involved. It was just another game of allurements, compromise and rank opportunism. The BJP CM, N Biren Singh, is an ex Congressman. His son is convicted in the murder of a student leader. The deputy CM, Y Joykumar, a former Director General of Police, was denied a BJP ticket, and won on a Naga People’s Front (NPF) one. In the game of thrones he probably bargained hard to get the Deputy CM’s post.

The NPF was already in alliance with the BJP in Nagaland and had a secret pact called the Naga Framework. Incidentally these Naga groups are vociferous proponents of Nagalim, or Greater Nagaland, that includes parts of Myanmar. Their loyalty to the nation is suspect. But the fiercely “nationalist” BJP has no qualms of conscience in aligning with them in its desperate quest for power. Winnability counts, nothing else. The loaves of office are evident from the fact that only one BJP MLA has been made a minister. All the others are from the coalition partners.

Even a Congress MLA who crossed over after the elections, Shyam Kumar, a Metei Catholic, was made a minister, even though he knows that he will be disqualified under the anti-defection law. He cares a damn because he is so sure of being re-elected. He too has alleged criminal antecedents, having served time in Tihar jail. It is also widely reported that in Naga controlled areas the NSC(IM), with militant leanings, prevented bonafide voters from exercising their franchise, and manipulated the polling booths. If this is not a murder of democracy, masquerading as pseudo nationalism, then what is?

Now to the idyllic State of Goa, where the elections were far from idyllic! Here too the Congress emerged as the single largest party with 17 out of 40 seats, just 4 short of a majority. The BJP was way behind with just 13 in its kitty. Even their sitting CM, Laxmikant Parsekar, lost. Here too the BJP was fast out of the blocks enlisting the support of the MGP (its natural ally) and the Goa Forward (its bitter enemy). Before analysing the results let us run through some data.

The BJP is largely perceived as a Hindu party. But 7 of the party’s 13 MLAs are Catholics (even more than the Hindus). 17 of the 40 MLAs are Catholic (43%).The Census 2001 reported that Catholics constitute 27% of the population, down from 36% in 1961 when Goa was liberated. In 2017 that figure could be hovering around 23%. Hence the number of Catholic MLAs is twice their actual numbers – an indication that they enjoy greater trust and respect in public life.

What of ministry formation? Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, (no 3 in the Union Cabinet) plummeted down to being the CM of a State whose population could be less than the strength of the defence forces that he commanded. The media claimed that the Congress was caught with its pants down, while the BJP had its army boots on (read powerful Defence Minister). His “popularity” resulted in his being chosen CM. Now for the facts.

The Forward Goans party led by Vijai Sardesai (another ex Congressman) was an arch critic of Parrikar in the election campaign; so obviously they were allured into Govt formation, as all three of their MLAs became ministers, as did those of the MGP. Of the 7 Catholic BJP MLAs only one, Francis D’souza, was made a minister. Was the BJP taking the Catholics for granted because of their docility or lack of ambition? At least one of them was tamed; Maurin Goudinho, against whom criminal charges had earlier been filed by none other than Parrikar himself!

Parrikar belongs to the influential Gaud Saraswat Brahmins that dominates commerce, industry and even the judiciary in Goa. They relish meat and fish and reportedly even enjoy beef and pork. There are reports doing the rounds that Parrikar was not comfortable in Delhi (wonder if the defence establishment was comfortable with him) and was itching to return to his comfort zone of Goa. So he contrived to ensure the defeat of the incumbent CM, Parsekar, a non-Brahmin.

Unfortunately, for all its idyllic tourist posters, casteism runs as deep in Goa as in the rest of the country. Even the so-called egalitarian Catholic Church has not been able to shake off the shackles of caste.

So be it UP, UK, Manipur or Goa, the BJP has scripted the same narrative – caste, religion, defections, criminals and allurements. It is no different from the rest. The only difference is the sheer numbers that it has attracted to itself, and the pliant media that sings its tune. Therein lies the danger that brooks no diffidence. Citizens of India need to awaken to the reality that now the hawks are firmly in power, and threaten to be there for some time to come, even though it is nothing to crow about.

 (Due to the sensitive nature of the information contained herein I have had to protect my primary sources.)

#(Published on 27th March 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 13)