Ramlila Maidan

 

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he Congress-led UPA government lost both honour and legitimacy when, in the dead of night of 4–5 June, it sent armed policemen to invade and assault unarmed, sleeping, anti-corruption protestors at Ramlila Maidan in the capital, led by the celebrated Yogi, Swami Ramdev.

The action is reminiscent of the manner in which the Communist Party of India–Marxist lost its reputation when goons raped two women protesting against State land grab for a crony capitalist in Singur, West Bengal. Hindu tradition looks poorly upon those who assault unarmed citizenry, something the Italian-born Roman Catholic does not understand.

Petticoat politicians like Digvijay Singh may exult in the false empowerment wrought by misuse of power, but there should be no doubt that there will be a severe public backlash, with no quarter or mercy for supremo Sonia Maino Gandhi, widely perceived as the architect and beneficiary of this Nazi Gestapo–Sicilian style operation.

Tasks before the nation

There is an immediate need to disband the National Advisory Council and its illegal role in law-making and setting the national agenda, overriding Parliament and Government. This body of intellectual charlatans has been created only to give the Congress president a Cabinet rank at public expense, and to host a bunch of unelectable cronies who help her undermine and destabilize the Prime Minister and the Government.

Under Sonia Gandhi, the UPA has been forced to outsource all thinking and law-making to these darbaris. As Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta argued, the “idea of putting a non-governmental watch over your own government undermines the very idea of elected, constitutional democracy.” So it is time to dismantle the NAC. And with this will end Sonia Gandhi’s illegitimate status as super-PM, thus restoring power and authority to the legitimate constitutional position-holders and institutions. Indeed, the Congress party may be privately amenable to such a move as it realises that neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi are credible vote-catchers and that new leaders will have to be built at all levels.

The Supreme Court, whose judges surely witnessed the atrocity on their television screens along with the rest of the nation, is morally on trial at this critical juncture. To uphold its prestige, the Hon’ble judges must suo moto take notice of the unprovoked violence unleashed upon the citizenry and order an immediate ban on the political culture of surreptitious and illegal midnight arrests/ detention of unarmed persons, without warrant, and particularly the bashing up of sleeping men, women and children in the darkness of night.

No matter how irked persons in authority may feel about peaceful protestors, a civilized society claiming to be a democracy cannot allow its citizens to be hounded and assaulted like animals selected for culling in a jungle. There is no legitimate reason why the police did not ask citizens to leave the venue in the daytime, or why it could not wait for them to vacate as per schedule on June 6th.

The Supreme Court must make the Government apologise for this atrocity and pay punitive damages for the physical violence and loss of human dignity suffered by Swami Ramdev and the thousands of men, women, and children, whose peaceful gathering was illegally disrupted with police brutalities.

Swami Ramdev and the public should give a wide berth to the National Human Rights Commission headed by Sonia acolyte K.G. Balakrishnan, who remained a mute spectator to this scandal and failed to take cognizance of this massive outrage enacted in the capital itself. In fact, we should demand disbanding this useless and motivated body, which is merely a perch for cronies of the powers-that-be.

The National Commission for Women is another useless organisation could be shut down. As expected, it was missing throughout the action, though eye witnesses appeared national television to say that policemen stepped on the bellies of unarmed women and tore off their clothes; female constables were deployed much later. NCW is a drain on the national exchequer and a sinecure for unemployed retainers of the regime. Naturally, it is notorious for selective concerns regarding women’s rights.

To their credit, Anna Hazare and his colleagues have realized that the police atrocity – which Government ministers like Kapil Sibal and Subodh Kant Sahay are shamelessly defending (while Pranab Mukherjee has slipped away, surfacing only to call it a ‘sad event’, while Home Minister P. Chidambaram claims he was away and did not give permission for action!) – has made their position in the Joint Drafting Committee for the Lokpal Bill invidious.

This writer is among the early critics of the Joint Drafting Committee and Lokpal Bill, and it would be worthwhile for the ‘civil society’ representatives to resign and facilitate the early demise of the committee (which anyway is going nowhere). The writer opposes the Lokpal Bill because it usurps the powers of the legislature, executive, judiciary and police, CBI, et al, and assumes excessive powers for itself.

While the ‘civil society’ representatives on the Committee were savvy enough to support Baba Ramdev in his fast at Ramlila Maidan, and to condemn the barbarous attack sponsored by the State, they surely realize that if they continue on the Committee, they will be perceived as ‘poodles’ of Sonia Gandhi by the general public. As such, their work, if it does conclude to their satisfaction, will lack credibility. Wisdom demands a retreat from the Committee. Maybe they will choose this course during their public fast on June 8.

Need to rethink Civil Society methods of agitation

Both Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev would do well to ponder over the methods they used to force Government action against corruption, and to admit that these were counter-productive. While raising public awareness about the scandalous proportions assumed by corruption in the political class is one thing, neither was authorised or capable (in the end) of forcing the Government to submit to their demands. Both were manipulated by other forces, which is why the goalposts shifted in their respective agitations.

During the build up to the Anna Hazare fast in Jantar Mantar, RSS think tank Vivekananda International Foundation organised a two-day seminar to galvanise cadres for the Jantar Mantar movement, probably without understanding the issues associated with it. Swami Ramdev came for the valedictory function and stated that an organisation to lead the anti-corruption battle would be formed by RSS thinker K.N. Govindacharya, who would also lead it. Swami Ramdev made it clear that the Bharat Swabhiman Trust would remain separate and continue public awareness work.

Obviously, the sudden decision for Swami Ramdev to lead a fast-unto-death at Ramlila Maidan and issue ultimatums to the Government on the issue of return of black money from abroad (and assorted other demands, some laughable) was the result of manipulation of a decent man. Throughout the day of June 4, Govindacharya had a prominent role at Ramlila Maidan.

The question legitimately arises why he was missing at night – when everyone in the city knew that the Government was planning some action that night, and messages to this effect had started going out from 2 p.m. onwards. Officially, the talks collapsed only around 7 p.m., but clearly Government was preparing the crackdown prior to the breakdown. Where were all the cadres of the BJP and the RSS, which had clearly used the Baba for a proxy political fight with ruling party?

Why politics behind purdah?

It bears recalling that the first major scandal involving political leadership in our times was the Bofors payoff scam which engulfed the reputation of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, all on account of his wife, Sonia Maino Gandhi, and her personal associations.

This scandal was opposed politically by all the non-Congress opposition parties, individually and collectively, and there was no culture of proxy wars using non-political eminent persons to shadow-box on behalf of some party or other. I particularly recall an all-party rally (perhaps Jantar Mantar) attended, among others, by National Conference MP Akbar Jehan (mother of Dr Farooq Abdullah), Akali Dal MPs, and MPs of the then new Telugu Desam Party who flaunted bright yellow scarves.

The point is why did BJP not fight ruling party corruption openly? And once it was known that Baba Ramdev would fast on June 4, why did the BJP President call a national executive meeting and take party stalwarts away from Delhi at the very same time?

Worse is the wimpish approach of satyagraha at Rajghat (give me a break), rather than confronting the regime frontally, and helping battered citizens. The party uses Baba Ramdev to lure innocent villagers into an inhospitable environment, and leaves them to fend for themselves while its leaders sleep in the comfort of 5-star hotels (no more tents, mind you).

This brings us to the most pertinent question - why did Advani and co sneakily join hands with the Government and agree to covertly pass the Budget without discussion in April, on the very day Parliament was to break for the one month recess in which the Budget would be studied by MPs, before being passed in May? Given the huge corruption, crushing price rise, and excessive favours to the corporate sector, why did BJP not consider a cut motion to bring the Government down or wrest some tax concessions for the middle class?

And why did Advani promise to pass the Lokpal Bill (still not drafted) without it being brought to Parliament and seen by the party? Is a political party supposed to give blind support to laws introduced by Government at the instance of an extra-constitutional body?

Last words

  • -The UPA government instead of cracking down on crooks, hawala operators, and illegal foreign bank account holders, has instead swooped on an unarmed Swamiji and world renowned Yoga teacher who had wanted effective action against the corruption, making India look like a tin pot dictatorship in a Banana Republic – Dr Subramanian Swami
  • -Supreme Court must order a probe as justice cannot be expected from the Centre - Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati

This article also published at: http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1820

*The author Ms. Sandhya Jain, is a columnist with The Pioneer, a leading newspaper of Delhi and Editor, www.vijayvaani.com.

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