Until few days back, talk of the town was Rahul Gandhi. He was almost on all major debates, discussions across all print & media channels, for he was on his padyatra in UP. He was trying to get a sense of the situation on the ground. His motive seemed, well better known to himself, that he was trying to do all this in the wake of upcoming elections in UP. All parties, BJP & BSP in general, criticised the whole padyatra vociferously, on the above mentioned pretext.
For me, it was a case of prima facie conflict rather than a matter of critique. He is not part of the government currently & hence has limited powers but that would demean given his powers in the party & government affairs, to say the least. His acts were looking as if he wanted to salvage the situation on the ground while on the other hand, it seemed his party's government at the centre had different thoughts. Central government recently had a cold shoulder to Anna & his team on the Jan lokpal bill. It will be difficult to say who is correct & who not. It is not, as usual, just the government or some politicians who want the PM & higher judiciary out of the Lokpal bill rather there are some serious & most transparent earlier Chief Justices who have come in favor of not including these two entities within the ambit of the Lokpal. One of the them being Justice Verma who openly says, contradicting the much hyped version of Arvind Kejriwal & Prashant Bhushan, that it was not the higher judiciary that didn't act against the tainted former justices. Justice Verma's argument is that essentially, in most of the cases if not all, it was the political executive that didn't sanction the prosecution of the tainted judges, even after the recommendation was sent by the Supreme Court. Anyways, that debate is a life long one & unless all facets are opened which to me seems little impractical in this life time unless someone pens his memoirs, it will be difficult to believe any one of them. Similarly, in the case where team Anna says that there isn't any need of any constitutional amendment before implementing the Lokpal, Justice Verma gives clause by clause account as to why constitutional amendment would be required for the Lokpal to be made & keep the PM, Judiciary & the "within parliament" activities under its ambit.
Going back to our initial topic of Rahul's padyatra, there were few conflicts that I see brewing openly without any requirement to open the lid. Lets go thru them:
1/ Rahul wants to understand people & their concerns, specially in cases of unlawful land acquisitions, however Congress is facing the same issue in almost all states where it is in the government. Haryana may have a success story to tell but one must remember that the controversies around are alike in Haryana's case too where the policy provides that the land would be released after one year of reward. This is in clear contradiction to the Clause 48 of the policy itself. In another case, the government has acquired a lot of fertile land across the state for government projects but, in turn, gave it to private builders at the acquisitioned prices, the prices at which the government had bought the land. This has resulted in a loss to both the state exchequer as well as to the people who sold their land, for they could have got better prices.
2/ Rahul went & talked about the misrule of Mayawati, daily Rapes & violence in Bhatta Parsaul. This is the same thing that Rahul had mentioned, on a different pretext though, about Nitish Kumar, prior to Bihar state elections late last year but unfortunately congress bagged only 4 seats. Question arises does this pep talk, of few hours across 200 kms, help? People don't want someone to just come to them & talk about issues rather work it out specially when the person is so powerful & is projected to be the next PM. If not he, then who, is the question people would ask themselves when situation doesn't get better. Mayawati may still not be able to win many seats again in the upcoming UP elections in 2011 but I am sure it won't be because of Rahul's visit rather a growing concern amongst the people, from all classes & creed, against Mayawati's own inaction & inefficiency. Indeed, the maximum oppressed during her current tenure are the dalits themselves given the numbers of dalit girls raped in the last one year. This can be taken to the story of the caste system within dalits as well as only Jatav dalits, sub caste that Mayawati belongs to, have tremendously grown in power & money across all other castes. Best example be to look though the current state secretariat where Jatav caste babu bhaiyyas have grown in number, through years, in her rule. Even Jatavs see themselves as uppercaste dalits - "?" is when every want to be seen as upper-subcaste within his own caste, what's the point of keeping reservations? Ambedkar wanted to uplift the economic & social status of Dalits through reservation, Mayawati wants it but only for Jatav's, at least that's the impression she gives.
3/ Rahul went to Bhatta Parsaul & gave a hard hitting, seemingly fact laden speech, upon his return to New Delhi, of how people had been tortured & killed in those villages. Ironically the NHRC did mention that gross human rights violation have happened but at the same time brushed aside Rahul's story of heap of caracass & dead bodies that were burned in Bhatta Parsual. Hope he was not trying Digvijay Singh's gimmicks of throwing loaded unproven, fact ridden worded statements every now & then, which typically is in Congress's genes. Not sure if Congress leaders eat the same food a little differently that makes them like this. Also remember Digvijay Singh had accompanied Rahul Gandhi to Bhatta Parsaul. Do you remember the story when Digvijay SIngh & Congress had claimed that Ramdev's right hand aid Balkrishna is a criminal from Nepal. Unfortunately, Congress had to bump itself here also with Nepal giving a clean chit to Balkrishna couple of days back.
For whatever worth Rahul is, he is definitely talking the same language as that of congress but in a different way. His style is that of participation, mingling with people, like his father, Rajiv Gandhi who was famous amongst the people. Both carry a charisma, different than most of the other political leaders, in the contemporary policitics but it is the Congress's crony internal management that will lead these people to downfall. Ironically, they could have created a niche for themselves by being a little more bold & taking their governments head on but they are choosing the other way around, which may not help them. Atleast it never helped Rajiv Gandhi. Lets see what fate has, for Rahul Gandhi.
Categories: Politics, Critique & Activism