OPINION

Monthly Archives: JULY 2017


No one says this to Pardhanji. We have to.
30.07.17 - NISCHAY PAUL
No one says this to Pardhanji. We have to.



DEFEAT IS EXPECTED to spur any political party into some introspection. At worst, a defeated political force enacts a charade of introspection. Bussing the dejected comrades to a hill station or a five star hotel for chintan-meetings used to be the gold standard. A more robust form of introspection would often witness challenges to the established leadership that did not deliver results. 

In Punjab, nothing like this happened with the Akali Dal. The party faced its worst defeat, trailing at number three. Its alliance partner, roaring around the country, remains as silent as a mouse in the bigger brother's shadow. Not one leader in the third rung of Akali Dal leadership posed any question to the top father-son duo. (There is no second rung leader in the Akali Dal.) And not for one day did the party behave like a force that got defeated at the hustings. 

For some inexplicable reason, the senior leader has lost any wish to have a darshan of the sangat, a routine he would not give up even when the doctors used to advise him to get some well-earned rest. And no one has challenged the son to a leadership duel after this historic and humiliating defeat

Any core committee, working committee, political affairs committee or whatever committee meeting, whenever it will take place, will see each leader expressing full faith in the high command. The problem with the third rung comrades is that they are always busy pulling each other down. They do not have the gumption to question why The Leader is selected and not elected. Being seen with The Leader on a stage is peddled as their achievement. For such a photo-op, the minions obediently gather around The Leader. Now, The Leader utters some inanity about a new comer opposition party. The third-rung hordes waiting at the gates chirp in unison. The Leader remains plastered on hoardings across Punjab. 
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In reality, the stronger that The Leader and his circle appear, the weaker is the organisation. Power now flows solely from The Leader. Did he not tell you that even when out of power, top civil and police officers take his calls, kowtow to his diktats?
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The Leader stamps his authority by declaring that district commissioners and senior police officers still attend to his phone calls. The minions are awestruck by the omnipotence of their leader 
 
These minions have no ambition to matter in the scheme of things. They merely want to be able to pretend that they matter in the scheme of things. They are frequently reminded of their utter dependence for security and survival on The Leader. "Call me if anyone torments you," The Leader tells them. 
 
It is the same pattern that The Leader adopted during his years in power. He would pass the crumbs around, very carefully, making the minions first fight for it, and then be grateful when they get a morsel. For how else will the morsel look big if the minions do not fight for it? And the leader knows how to keep such fights going. Holding back the morsels is one way. Letting know that more morsels are on the way is another. 
 
Minion A becomes a halqa-incharge. Minion B is promised he will be made one if Minion A fails. Minion C hopes both pull each other down. All minions are also selected by The Leader. Lesser minions insert advertisements and put up flex hoardings to proclaim their direct link with Minion A or Minion B. 
 
The Leader, meanwhile, has many favours to bestow. Such as choosing to have a cup of tea with a wanna-be Minion C. This is projected by the house-trained media as a major political move. Dropping in on a marriage ceremony to bless the newlyweds is considered a hallmark of the humility of The Leader. 
 
The minions then emulate The Leader. Everyone has read the signal. Follow The Leader, follow The Leader's actions, follow his pretences, too. Follow his shams, his theatre, his Judy and Punch act through the maze of politics.
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Once you shun ideology, the movement becomes a party. Then it becomes a mere electoral machine. So it has to ‘adjust’.
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The Leader, meanwhile, is a chameleon. He is a survivor. He is hailed for being a survivor. But no one mentions that the survival is because of his immense capacity at being a chameleon. 
 
The Leader calls his political alliance a Fraternal Alliance. The desperateness earlier used to take him to sundry havans, yagyas, aartis, poojas. He was routinely spotted at the darbar of one or the other satguru. Satgurus have massive and captive vote banks. 
 
The politics of The Leader becomes a game of clever formulations. Earlier, he talked about higher MSP of crops, international airports, thermal plants. Now, it is about river waters, Chandigarh, attack on SGPC, zulm on his minions. If things do not work out, The Leader may be forced to pull out the 1980s card: the Azad Hasti of the Sikhs! 
 
When the party of history had come into power, it dumped the history. Forgot the legacy. Trashed its own struggle. Became the party of airports and Progressive Punjab summits and cheque distribution at SangatDarshans and managing administration through halqaincharges. Out of power, it merely wants to wait out.
 
Minions, too, wait. And as they wait, they hail The Leader. The Leader is now too big. He is a monolith. He is such a burden. He has to be propped up at all times. Because he cannot be allowed to fall. After all, he is the face and the body of the party. Down below and deep inside, there is nothing to the party. It is all hollow.
 
The Leader faces little threat because he believes in nothing. He has not taught the minions to believe in anything, so they, too, cannot threaten. When you believe in nothing, there is nothing that you need to desist from doing if there is some advantage that could be accrued. 
 
The Leader is helped by others. By those outside his party. They, too, are chips of the same block. They, too, are leaders in the same league. "Baki vee sab same ne,” goes the argument. So why change?
 
"Can one leader be any different from the other? Does any leader live by any ideals?” Then why blame The Leader? Why blame a particular leader? The flaw is systemic. So we can live with The Leader.

No one mentions the "shrinking universe of morals." The ideas and ideology for the attainment of which the party was founded no longer permeate or radiate into those who are outside the party or organisation, just as it no longer affects those who are inside it. 

Once you shun ideology, the movement becomes a party. Then it becomes a mere electoral machine. So it has to ‘adjust’. Adjustment means compromises. It becomes acceptable language. Even acceptable formulation. Soon, it is raised to the level of an ideology. 
 
But the transformation doesn’t stop there. Indeed, it has just begun. For the character of the one who has wrested the top office, stamps itself on the entire organisation, on every level of the organisation. His very success legitimises ambition, greed, and intrigue, double-dealing. 
 
It becomes imperative for The Leader that the only voices are the ones that hail him. So he ensures that all gatherings unanimously resolve to leave the choice of nominating all office-bearers to him. The party hierarchy comes to consist entirely of nominees of The Leader, and of those who, for the moment, have managed to insinuate themselves into the good books of The Leader.  
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Minions wait, and as they wait, they hail The Leader. The Leader is now too big. He is a monolith. He is such a burden. He has to be propped up at all times. Because he cannot be allowed to fall. After all, he is the face and the body of the party. Down below and deep inside, there is nothing to the party. It is all hollow.
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In reality, the stronger that The Leader and his circle appear, the weaker is the organisation. Power now flows solely from The Leader. Did he not tell you that even when out of power, top civil and police officers take his calls, kowtow to his diktats?
 
You have given The Leader a new job. Has he shown up for it? He is not even saying he is the new Opposition. He is saying he is the old ruler. ("DCs, SSPs take my calls!") So you need to do some of the job yourself. The Leader is missing in action. So please show up for some work.
 
And that involves understanding why things are the way they are, and what must be done to move forward. It starts by asking questions. We understand it is an onerous task. All we promise is that we will be with you in this one. Raising questions, pointing fingers, stating facts, calling out bluffs, and refusing to strike false equivalence when the choice is between stark truth and utter lies. Punjab Today will not be found missing in action. 
 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT






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Of President, Veep & Facts
Commander-in-chief Ram Nath Kovind, and humour
29.07.17 - KAMJAAT SINGH
Commander-in-chief Ram Nath Kovind, and humour



ONE OF BJP's top mission statements could not have been more pithy: the party wanted to ensure a Congress-mukt Bharat. It has now ensured that the superstructure ruling in Lutyen's Delhi is completely Congress-mukt. 

Ram Nath Kovind is now the commander-in-chief of India's armed forces. M Venkaiah Naidu will be India's vice-president in a week's time, and will lord over the Rajya Sabha as well as the influential Rajya Sabha TV. 

The question as to what will change in India's politics with these appointments was answered loudly in the Central Hall of Parliament the day Kovind swore that he will protect the Constitution. Its spirit was violated within minutes, with the entire political establishment watching.

Do not be fooled by the pomp and show that precedes a new resident of Raisina Hill moving in. The 21-gun salute, the horse driven carriage, the stately walk, the braided men surrounding the gravely serious looking, the maha-mahim blah-blah notwithstanding, something else made history that day. Minutes after a man said he will protect India's Constitution that has the principle of a secular nation state embedded in its preamble, his ascension was hailed by slogans of Jai Sri Ram in the Central Hall of Parliament. 
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Do not be fooled by Kovind's reference to India's diversity. True, he did say that "India's unity in diversity was the key to its success," but here is the exact sentence: "We are a country of great diversity, yet have shown that unity is the way forward." His ascension was hailed by slogans of Jai Sri Ram in the Central Hall of Parliament.

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This was a first for India's Constitutional and parliamentary history. The fact that neither the Congress nor the Left parties nor any of the sundry regional parties made an issue out of it underlines the powerlessness to which these players have been reduced in the Bhagwat-Modi-Amit Shah scheme of things.

Students of India's contemporary political history have no doubt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put an ally in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. India's 14th president, Ram Nath Kovind, may have come from a humble background, but he is a far cry from KR Narayanan. 

Those who got fooled by Kovind's reference to India's diversity need to go back and read his maiden speech again. True, he did say that "India's unity in diversity was the key to its success." But then Kovind's reference was merely to stress the RSS-BJP idea of unity, not the Nehruvian idea of diversity. Here is the exact sentence that he spoke: "We are a country of great diversity, yet have shown that unity is the way forward."
 
He did say that he has "come from a humble background (and that he) will stand by and represent all 125 crore fellow Indians," but those words still need to be tested. For Kovind, given NDA's numerical strength in the Lok Sabha, in several Assemblies and Modi's personal outreach to parties outside the pale of the NDA, moving into the Rashtrapati Bhawan was the easier part. 
The tougher part will come when Kovind faces a challenge in that mansion. Will he take the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed route? Will he be a mere Pratibha Patil? Or will he be a KR Narayanan, a fellow Dalit?

Kovind’s success or failure will be decided on the basis of whether he lets his saffron grounding to colour his decision making and conduct. Had he stopped for a moment in that Central Hall of Parliament and pointed a finger towards the sloganeering men and said, "Not here," it would have given him a new image makeover.

Political experts are near unanimous that the BJP's choice of Kovind was propelled by its anxiety to shed the anti-Dalit tag that it acquired following a number of ‘gau rakshak’ attacks on Dalits. The widening gulf between the Dalit community and the BJP started with Rohit Vemula’s suicide, and now threatens the party’s non-Jatav votes.
It is yet to be seen if Kovind will become a mere instrument for garnering Dalit votes for BJP, but that is still a minor question when compared to bigger fears: Will he speak his mind against acts of bigotry in society? Will he be able to ensure that the brute majority does not bulldoze constitutional parameters? Will he hesitate to send bills back for reconsideration in case of constitutional impropriety?

BJP leader Ram Madhav recently postulated that "Kovind and Modi represent the true India - Marx’s proletariat and Socrates’ philosopher rolled into one.” We leave a comment on Saffron Humour for another day. 

For the moment, a minor interjection will suffice, necessitated only by the insistence on the part of the BJP-RSS to project Kovind as the first president from the state of Uttar Pradesh, and the readiness of the rest of the Indian media to gulp that claim.
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For those arguing that Venkaiah Naidu's elevation as Veep will help the BJP in winning the South, here is a minor fact: Naidu will be defeating not only the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi from Gujarat but also the grandson of C. Rajagopalachari from Tamil Nadu. No wonder Modi remembers the corruption-tainted dead Amma when he goes to Tamil Nadu, even when he hails Nitish for fighting against corruption.
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Indian newspapers and television channels do not employ fact-checkers, a practice most western mastheads follow. But surely, editorial memories could not have been so limited?
Zakir Hussain was not born in Uttar Pradesh, but he was virtually brought up there. He studied at the Aligarh Muslim University where he was also a student leader. He founded the Jamia Milia Islamia. He was conferred a Bharat Ratna and was also, like Kovind, the Governor of Bihar. When he became the Vice President, and then the President of India, he was seen as someone from Uttar Pradesh. Today, Kovind is hailed as the first President from Uttar Pradesh, and even Zakir Hussain's grandson, Salman Khurshid, does not squeak to set the record straight. That, perhaps, can only be attributed to an attempt at Black Humour. 
 
Come August 5, and Venkaiah Naidu will defeat Gopal Krishna Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, in an RSS versus Gandhi Contest 2.0. Vir Savarkar lost round one at Independence. 

But for those arguing that Naidu's elevation as Veep can help the BJP in winning the South, here is a minor fact (since media has little time for fact checking): Naidu will be defeating not only the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi from Gujarat but also the grandson of C. Rajagopalachari from Tamil Nadu. 

Now you know why Modi remembers the corruption-tainted dead Amma so much when he goes to Tamil Nadu, even when he tweets ‘Hail Nitish’ for fighting against corruption. When Saffron and Black Humour mix, it produces a stink.

By the way, now that India has a president ushered in with Jai Sri Ram slogans, do you by any chance need a tank for your local school, college or university? Just drop a postcard addressed to Raisina Hill. And no joking this time. 
 
 

(Kamjaat Singh is an academic activist who also dabbles in journalism and writes under a pseudonym, with interests covering media, communications, academics, law, cinema and life. Kamjaat Singh, who will be regularly writing for Punjab Today, can be reached at kamjaatsingh@gmail.com.)
 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT




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Extrapolating the sin: "Roti-beti di saanjh na rakhi jaave"?
Is it time for Punjab to enact a new law on social boycott?
25.07.17 - Kamjaat Singh
Is it time for Punjab to enact a new law on social boycott?



What is the takeaway for Punjab, in general, and the Sikh community, in particular, from Pranab Mukherjee's last day in the Rashtrapati Niwas? Among the pieces of legislation Mukherjee inked in that house on the Raisina Hill was Maharashtra’s Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016.
 
This is one piece of legislation that should force us in Punjab to have a re-look at the concept and construct of religion-backed social boycotts of entire sects, communities and believers.
 
One can understand the bitterness of the late 70s when the Akal Takht passed an edict, asking the Sikh community to socially boycott the Nirankari sect. Decades later, the rage that the devout felt at the alleged blasphemy committed by the Sirsa-based self-styled holy man can also be understood by anyone associated with any sect, community or religion.
 
Followers of Nurmehal-based Ashutosh remain socially boycotted, even as the man remains comfortably ensconced in a freezer.

What is not so easy to understand is the idea of a call for a boycott of an entire community, even of the progeny still to come into this world? 

If you were a Sikh living in Maharashtra, you would be on the wrong side of the legislation President Pranab Mukherjee just signed into law since it makes social boycott a crime. The Maharashtra law disallows social boycott of any individual or group by caste panchayats or groups of individuals, and covers all kinds of reasons, including rituals of worship. It provides for 7 years of jail and fine of Rs 5 lakh or both. Imagine now the fate of a Sikh family telling someone that they are bound by a religious edict to socially boycott all Nirankaris living in their cooperative housing society, and that they cannot send their children to the houses of their Nirankari classmates for sleepovers on account of their religious beliefs.
 
By the way, th​ese​ boycott ​h​ukamnamas are always ​adhered to by ordinary ​Sikhs while their political leaders ​c​ontinue freely mingle with the so-called Panth-dokhis​, also seen as vote banks.​

During ​the ​last elections​,​ more than 40 Akali​ Dal​ candidates ​who ​visited the banned deras to seek blessings ​were later declared Tankhaias by the ​S​ikh clergy​. It took some washing of utensils and a little bit ​of ​money ​to make the sin go away and with that, they were back in the business of politics as Adarsh Sikh leaders.

Social boycotts in Punjab have not been the monopoly of any one community in Punjab. Calls for boycott of Dalits are now staple news. Media in Punjab was shocked at Dalits' boycott in Talhan at the turn of the millinium, a flashpoint which threw up a leader called Vijay Sampla, now a Union Minister and Punjab BJP President. 

Since then, we seem to have learnt to live with the abominable as the norm. 

*In March this year, the panchayat Dakoha village in Gurdaspur banned the entry of two of the village families after their sons married girls of the same village. Worse, it asked the Jathedar of the Akal Takht to issue an order to all gurudwaras not to perform marriages of boys and girls of same village. Worst, the clergy never rejected the request. 
* Not too long back, landlords of village Maha Singh Wala in Sangrur had decided to socially boycott the village Dalits over wages for paddy sowing. Villages paying more were fined. Milkmen were forced to stop milk supplies to Dalits. 
*In May this year, 'Sarbat Khalsa Jathedars' ordered a social boycott of Sikh leaders allegedly guilty of seeking support from Dera Sirsa cult.

Social boycotts and segregation remain a part and parcel of Punjab's politics.  

Every Sikh is under an edict to socially boycott Dhirmalias and Ram Raiyas, but is it time to rethink the entire construct of such boycotts? Law is catching up with normative discrimination, and the Sikhs will do well to maintain their position of being among the most progressive and liberal people.

Behind the new Maharashtra law is the decades-long work of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS). This was the platform founded by rationalist and conscience-keeper Dr. Narendra Dabholkar. Many Punjabis had raised their voice when Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi were killed in murderous attacks.
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Besides, there are other serious questions that the new generation of Sikhs, of Nirankaris, of followers of sundry other sects may well ask: How are the sins of a few extrapolated on to an entire community of people, and also on to the yet unborn?
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While the Maharashtra law will be welcomed by many progressive sections in India, since it underscores that human dignity is supreme, those asking for social boycotts from the supreme temporal seats of religion should understand that any form of social boycott is now a crime. 

Earlier laws had escape routes because social boycott was not clearly defined. Now, the new law categorically codifies what will amount to a social boycott and will attract a jail term.

Besides, there are other serious questions that the new generation of Sikhs, of Nirankaris, of followers of sundry other sects may well ask: How are the sins of a few extrapolated on to an entire community of people, and also on to the yet unborn? 

How is a 13-year-old child X of a Nirankari couple to understand why the parents of his classfellow Y have omitted his parents' name from the guestlist for Y's b'day celebrations? Were not the parents of child Y following the edict for a social boycott and thus being purely religious? Or were they being inhuman to child X, surely not a very religious thing to do on the b'day of one's child!

The piece of legislation Pranab Mukherjee signed on his last day needs to send some of us back to the religious drawing board on which we drew divisive lines, of course understandably at that time because such was the rage and revulsion at the acts of a few.

It is no one's case that the new Maharashtra law against social boycotts will turn out to be a panacea. The Devendra Fadnavis government's record in creating an egalitarian society is just as shameful as that of the rest, and the proof of the pudding will be in the implementation of the Act. 

Even without the clergy-sanctioned social boycotts, acts of discrimination abound in Punjab. Improved economic standing of Doaba's Dalits, who were once pushed into caste-enforced occupations such as scavenging and tanning, often does not translate into improved social status. Their counterparts in south Punjab are even less fortunate, and Dalit residential areas are marked by illiteracy, unemployment and landlessness. In such a scenario, routine calls of social boycott enforce a sense of caste-based superiority. 
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This is one piece of legislation that should force us in Punjab to have a re-look at the concept and construct of religion-backed social boycotts of entire sects, communities and believers.
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In Punjab, no major party is working on any radical agenda to ameliorate the lot of Dalits. Worse, the community remains largely leaderless. The Bahujan Samaj Party is almost non-existent, its leaders unknown to even most journalists. 

Still, some hope remains. In scores of villages, distribution of one-third of the shamlat (common) land to the landless lower castes is a sensitive issue. Similarly, the 5-marla plot promise remains an interface for agitation and clash. Leaders of an egalitarian religion like Sikhism should have joined this movement with enthusiasm. Instead, they are conspicuous by absence, often even seen as opponents. 

Is it time for Punjab to have an Act on the lines of Maharashtra? Or must we plot discrimination on religious drawing boards and commit clergy-sanctioned sins by calling these religious edicts? The unborn will want an answer someday, and the edict may fall short to cover our shame.
 
 
(Kamjaat Singh is an academic activist who also dabbles in journalism and writes under a pseudonym, with interests covering media, communications, academics, law, cinema and life. Kamjaat Singh, who will be regularly writing for Punjab Today, can be reached at kamjaatsingh@gmail.com.)
 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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BJP V/s SAFFRON
BJP V/s SAFFRON: Modi rides a tiger, but some saffron cubs are running amok
07.07.17 - PT POLITICAL BUREAU
BJP V/s SAFFRON: Modi rides a tiger, but some saffron cubs are running amok



EMBOLDENED BY Narendra Modi's silence and clear signals that the ruling dispensation in the country and in several BJP-run states is going to adopt a wink-wink approach to many Hindutva forces, some of the tiger's cubs are running amok.

If the BJP leadership thinks that it can ride the tiger and control it at all times, then the signs are not so good. Even the mother of all tigers, the RSS, is finding some of its offshoots going haywire and firing in all directions.

A still deeper and longer relationship with power – and, more importantly, with absolute power – is going to make these wayward children of the Sangh Parivar even stronger. But will one of these individuals or organisations someday emerge strong enough to look Nagpur in the eye and tell it to go, take a walk?
If the BJP leadership thinks that it can ride the tiger and control it at all times, then the signs are not so good. Even the mother of all tigers, the RSS, is finding some of its offshoots going haywire and firing in all directions.
 
From Narendra Modi's personal decision of demonetisation (since the RBI seems to have largely made it clear that it had nothing to do with it) to Arun Jaitley's favourite GST (well, it was a child of the UPA, too, but the incumbent finance minister has claimed full and exclusive custody with a mid-night Parliamentary delivery), almost all key decisions of the regime have drawn flak from friends.

Look at the doings of these Frenemies:

* RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh has raised serious concern about move to either dilute or scrap many cess-based welfare schemes, since the cess will be subsumed in the single tax
 
* Swadeshi Jagran Manch, whose purer Hindu credentials and working to Make India Great Again are stronger than Arun Jaitley, has said in no uncertain terms that the GST was loaded against India's small businesses, factories, small industries and mom & dad shops. It even hit Modi where it hurts most, and trained its guns on the Ambani-Adani premier league friends of Modi, claiming GST was aimed to favour big businesses.

* The VHP is hauling the Modi regime over coals for delaying the Ram temple construction, and for criticising the gau raksha hordes.

* Many saffron bodies have taken exception to the mandate and working of the Niti Aayog, a personal endeavour of Modi.

The trio of Modi, Shah and Jaitley will take a long time to win back Swadeshi and die-hard Hindutva friends.
 
Is Narendra Modi made of material tough enough not to care about the mass organisations affiliated to the Sangh Parivar? He has, afterall, moved ahead with the GST without even a cogent response to criticism from within the saffron fold. 
 
In a report in the Indian Express, Ashutosh Bharadwaj, one of the newspaper's more brilliant journalists, has recalled how even the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime had witnessed explicit and public opposition from RSS-affliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh. The then BMS leader, Dattopant Thengadi, had actually took out a large rally in Delhi "challenging the authority of the then PM," forcing him to shelve the planned labour reforms.
 
 
Clearly, while the Modi-Shah-Jaitley team will have to control some of the Sangh affiliates running amok and badgering the BJP government, one is not sure if even the RSS has the power to pull the cubs back. As they say in Hindutva times in NASA terminology: Nagpur, We Have A Problem! 
 
Modi, in fact, has dared to almost browbeat the RSS which was made to sack its Goa head, Subhash Velingkar, after the latter criticised the BJP's functioning last year.
 
But Swadeshi Jagran Manch is not just a wayward kid that can be disciplined. Some of its leaders have spent a lifetime in pursuing their agenda. 

The sharpest opposition to Modi's "Make in India" has come not from the Congress but from the SJM.

It was not Rahul Gandhi but SJM that slammed Modi for featuring in PayTM advertisements and raised questions as to why the Centre was batting for this e-wallet portal.

When Modi decided to scrap the Planning Commission, a lethargic institution from the Nehruvian years, most RSS affiliates were happy, but they aren't ecstatic about Modi's NITI Aayog either. 

The SJM leaders have accused the Niti Aayog of running a 'corporate agenda.'

Modi's claims are danger of falling flat in the face of criticism from within the RSS ranks with the SJM national council saying that the jobs are "growing only at 1%, a dismal state of affairs”. 

On FDI, too, it reminded that half of it is coming through shady routes like Mauritius and Singapore, notorious for round tripping of black money. With Modi projecting himself as the champion fighter to bring back black money into the country, this was not the route that even Nagpur had envisaged.

Some allegations hurt more than others, and this one has raised the ire of many in the PM's coterie, often described by rank dissenters like Arun Shourie as Three Men in a Boat – PM, Shah, Jaitley.

Earlier this year, the SJM made its opposition to Niti Aayog public and a matter of record. The SJM co-convener Ashwani Mahajan, reminds the newspaper report, wrote to Modi blaming the health ministry and Niti Aayog for colluding with pharmaceutical companies to sabotage the drug price control regime. 

"Your departments are acting against what you have promised the people of India,” he wrote. These were strong words, not expected from even a stray sympathiser. This was SJM, respected in Sangh circles as people who have the interests of indegnous India in mind.

Here are more instances of tiger's cubs biting the rider:

RSS-backed Bharatiya Kisan Sangh:  
 It is opposing the Vasundhra Raje government and siding with the protesting farmers. It also blasted the Centre on demonetisation, which it claimed hurt the farmers. The BKS also singled out Jaitley for his statement that the Centre will not co ntribute towards farm loan waivers by any state.

 
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh:
 It vociferously opposed demonetisation, said this was no  economic reform, and will only increase poverty, hurt common people. It called Niti Aayog a bunch of ignoramuses with not one member cued into people's problems. The Niti Aayog, it said, is the Special Body of the PM. BMS actually issued a 14-point statement against the Niti Aayog in May this year. Its synergy and congruence of views with all other trade unions was noted in the PMO with concern.
 
NITI Aayog's push for sweeping changes in labour laws and for privatisation of the public sector came in for some sharp attack from CK Saji Narayanan, BMS leader, who said labour laws and policies in the country should be guided by a tripartite mechanism, not NITI Aayog. 
 
The BMS was backed by all trade unions, such as AITUC, CITU, HMS and others in this tirade against the Modi government.
 
Vishwa Hindu Parishad:
 The most shrill among the Sangh's children, the VHP has criticised the Modi regime for going back on the Hindutva agenda. It continues to rile Modi on delay in building a Ram temple, and is taking special pleasure in reports from Ayodhya that truckloads of stones are being transported to the proposed temple site, a move likely to draw much national attention and create problems for Modi.
 
So much so, that the VHP is now accusing Modi of something that even the Congress had not raised: Snooping. VHP leader Pravin Togadia has said his organisation was facing the kind of onslaught that was launched by Sanjay Gandhi during Emergency. 
 
"We were saddened and shocked to hear and see the Central IB officers questioning VHP, India Health Line & Hindu Help Line volunteers at various places,” Togadia said recently, and asked the Modi regime to apologise.
 
At a time when Modi and coterie will be too keen to stem the lynching spree, something that has been giving the rule of law in India a very bad name in the world community and negating all efforts of the Prime Minister to raise India's profile with big time international jamborees from the US to Israel, men like Togadia may offer little help.
 
He has expressed "utmost dissatisfaction and agony” at the PM's statement that 80 per cent gau rakshaks are anti-social.
Clearly, while the Modi-Shah-Jaitley team will have to control some of the Sangh affiliates running amok and badgering the BJP government, one is not sure if even the RSS has the power to pull the cubs back.
 
As they say in Hindutva times in NASA terminology: Nagpur, We Have A Problem!
 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

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Comment by: Rupinder kaur

Interesting to see, left and right on the same page. Worth praising the democracy within.
As far as Mr. Modi is concerned, he is still in c.m. mode . Mr. Jaitly is not a mass leader, he has never won any election, and may not even in future.

reply


Comment by: Rupinder kaur

Interesting to see, left and right on the same page. Worth praising the democracy within.
As far as Mr. Modi is concerned, he is still in c.m. mode . Mr. Jaitly is not a mass leader, he has never won any election, and may not even in future.

reply


Comment by: Kanwaljeet

Good, digging deep. Keep up the effort. Journalism along with the democracy is under threat these days. But another apprehension, that too not baseless, given the conspiratorial nature of rss and its sangh brigade, is that all this may be finally giving the initiatives on both fronts, the attack and response, in the same hands.

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