Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chhota Rajan runs out of luck, finally

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

■ Arrested in Indonesia following Australian police tip-off

Harish Gupta
New Delhi, 27 Oct : With the arrest of Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Chhota Rajan, in Bali (Indonesia) late last night, his honeymoon with the Indian intelligence agencies seems to have finally ended.

In all likelihood, he will be deported soon from Indonesia though India had signed an extradition treaty in 2011 itself and both countries have friendly relations. A team of the CBI may also be dispatched to Bali to ascertain his identity. CBI Director Anil Sinha told reporters on the sidelines of the ITBP annual Raising Day function that one Mohan Kumar (alias Chhota Rajan) had been arrested in Bali at the agency's request. "The CBI had been tracking him across the globe for years and Red Corner Notice had been sent to Australia as Chhota Rajan had been hiding there lately," he said. The Australian Police alerted Indonesia as soon as it noticed "Mohan Kumar traveling to Bali and he was detained there. His identify will be confirmed", he disclosed.

A beaming Union home minister Rajnath Singh held a special press briefing to express satisfaction over the arrest. When asked when will Dawood Ibrahim be arrested, Rajnath Singh smiled and said, " Aap Sab Dekhte Jayeeye, aage aage kya hota hai." (You wait and see what follows next). Highly placed sources in the intelligence agencies say that Chhota Rajan's utility in catching Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel and their aides has diminished over the years. Though he had been instrumental in some of the operations to catch the underworld don in the past, he had been unable to lend his helping hand to the agencies for several years. No doubt, he was part of a top secret operation in 2005 with the help of gangster Vicky Malhotra and former IB chief Ajit Doval who is currently the National Security Adviser in the Modi government. But the operation failed due to sabotaging by the Mumbai Police which arrested Vicky Malhotra in Delhi who was sitting with Ajit Doval and planning to arrest Dawood whose daughter's marriage was being planned to be held with Javed Miandad's son. Later it was found out that an encounter specialist of Mumbai Police was behind this sabotage.

Later Chhota Rajan's name surfaced in the murder of a Mumbai journalist J Dey a couple of years ago whom he suspected to be leaking information to the Dawood & company. Chhota Rajan who was part of Dawood Ibrahim's gang until 1993 and had fallen out later. But for the past few years he had been running for a cover to save his own life and his gang had weakened considerably unable to help the agencies. Therefore, the agencies must have reached a conclusion that he be brought to correct the perspective that the government was using a junior gangster to catch the Don.

Therefore, the arrest of Chhota Rajan has to be seen in this perspective.

Chhota Rajan's arrest is a clear signal of toughening of stance of the Modi government which seems to have decided to bring such criminals to justice. The statement made by the spokesperson for Australian Federal Police lifts the veil of mystery behind the arrest when he said, "The Interpol in Canberra had alerted Indonesian authorities "who apprehended Nikalje at the request of Indian authorities".

The Australian police further confirmed that Nikalje was living in Australia under another identity and it had been in discussions with Indian authorities on the issue. He refused to provide further details. It's a clear sign that Chhota Rajan's movements were known to the Indian agencies and arrest is no surprise either. Perhaps, he has been brought to safety. But with 15-20 murders in his name, he is unlikely to come of jail for the rest of his life.

Lessons from Bihar

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

With Bihar assembly poll halfway through, it is agreed that the Narendra Modi-led NDA has not played all its cards right, though it is nobody's case that the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav coalition holds all the aces. As of today, 162 of the 243 constituencies are waiting to go to poll, beginning from tomorrow, and punters can always gamble on which will prevail on the voters' mind—the suspicion that a conspiracy is afoot in Delhi to torpedo the caste-based reservation of jobs and college admissions, which is the bedrock of Bihar's politics for the last three decades; or a return of Lalu Prasad Yadav's "jungle raj", a term coined by none other Nitish Kumar, his current alliance partner and the mahagutbandhan's (mega-coalition) chief ministerial candidate. 

The outcome of the election is still shrouded in autumn mist, but BJP is queasy. After some of its leaders indulged in competitive hate speech, they suddenly buckled. Home Minister Rajnath Singh became custodian of secular values, pulling up, without naming, the likes of his party's assorted motor-mouths, from Ministers V K Singh, Mahesh Sharma down to Sakshi Maharaj and even Sadhvi Prachi. It seems the party has begun thinking that instances of communal conflagration at Dadri or Faridabad, despite being far away from Bihar, are impacting on its development agenda, promises of opportunities for the youth, and everything that Modi stands for. There are frenetic efforts now to either downplay the communal flashpoints or give them a new spin. So, as Sahitya Akademi-award winning authors began returning their awards in large numbers, the Joint Action Group of Nationalist Minded Artists and Thinkers (JANMAT) which is closely associated with the BJP, got suddenly busy dousing the fire. Prime Minister Office's call to award-winning Urdu poet Munnawar Ali, after his impassioned statement in a TV channel, was the beginning. Peace efforts in the background went several steps further, all in a wink, when the Akademi, in a seeming show of solidarity, adopted a resolution drawing attention of the government at the Centre and the states to atrocities on the minorities, and intolerance of free speech leading to liquidation of rationalists and non-conformists thinkers. The resolution, in the same breath, spoke of taking back the returned awards, however odd the proposition may sound. RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat was at his avuncular best when, at his Vijaya Dashami speech, he implored people not to attach "too much importance" to one "small event".

In reality, though, voting trend in Bihar is being influenced not so much by increasing atrocities on minorities but an opposition more consolidated than in the May 2014 Lok Sabha poll. It was after all Bhagawat himself who had made the first move on the caste debate now sweeping across Bihar, by saying that there should be public discussion to see whether the fruits of reservations have reached those for whom reservations were meant to be. Even if it is a fair suggestion, it was badly timed or twisted by BJP's rivals, as Bihar's politics has been driven since the 1990's by nothing but caste equations and caste-based quotas in jobs and educational institutions. Bhagawat's statement brought new momentum to Lalu Yadav's campaign. Though Bhagawat showered praises on Dr Ambedkar sending a clear signal that the RSS supported the reservations and upliftment of the down-trodden.

Another unwise move by NDA was to skip the mention of its chief ministerial candidate. It thought the Bihar election would sail smoothly on Modi's charisma alone, as it did in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana. But the party should have taken lessons from Delhi and realised that elections are but a snapshot of emotions which can alter at the snap of a finger. It is a mystery still as to why the BJP high command brought in an outsider Kiran Bedi instead of reposing faith in time-tested Dr Harsh Wardhan. Under Harsh Wardhan, Delhi BJP secured 32 seats while AAP was contained to 28 seats in 2013 Assembly polls. Similarly, it is a mystery why NDA did not name Sushil Modi as the CM candidate that it would support. Apart from having been the state's deputy chief minister for long years, he is regarded as an able administrator and his projection could give credibility to the BJP promise that it would improve governance in Bihar. Keeping the issue of leadership open, NDA has invited unwholesome speculation on some unexpected front. Such speculation has detrimental effect. BJP has also been too harsh on Lalu and has too frequently harped on his vulnerable point, the fodder scam. It has certainly led to consolidation of Yadav votes on a large scale. All this, combined with traditional Muslim apathy to BJP, has got NDA paint itself into a corner. Though Modi's Man-Friday Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asserted in Patna that the next three phases belong to the BJP.

But the BJP should remember that there is life after Bihar and, if at all it loses the poll, the defeat will still have valuable lessons to learn. It can help Modi encounter less headwind in the next three-and-a-half years. What he badly needs is a party that can keep its ideas on social and religious issues to itself, and its voices under control. A defeat in Bihar should have a shock effect powerful enough to silence its professional peddlers of hate. Modi is essentially a man of action and his to-do list bursting with items that range from sorting out the issues between government and the judiciary to finding state governments on his side on a variety of legislations including the Goods and Services Tax. His party must give him respite from unnecessary anxiety so that his 2014 victory looks purposeful and not just a fluke.

But the BJP should remember that there is life after Bihar and, if at all it loses the poll, the defeat will still have valuable lessons to learn.

I think it is necessary to say a word here about the growing obsession in the “Parivar” about going public with its ideas on Hidutva.  They should silently work as they were doing all these years. Historically, these saffron leaders neither sought nor commanded significant public attention but the 2014 victory of Modi has almost overnight put them in the prime time media. For these newly arrived politicians, so overpowering is the greed to be in limelight that they have a thing to say on anything, no matter how batty it is. A failure in Bihar may goad Modi, and Bhagawat, to get their big-mouths to stay quiet.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Centre dusting files on OBC reservation data

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

DoPT swings into action

Harish Gupta
New Delhi, Oct 26 : The Modi government has fast-tracked collating data with regard to representation of SCs, STs, OBCs and persons with disabilities in government jobs.

Sensing that the issue of reservations of these sections of the society has become controversial recently and may have a bearing on the outcome of Bihar elections, the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) directly under the Prime Minister has asked all ministries and department to furnish information in this regard by October 30.

A circular has been issued by the DoPT on October 20 asking the ministries and departments that they must furnish information with regard to representation of these sections within the next ten days. The information, however, was originally sought by the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). The commission told the Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Backward Classes that it had sought the information in connection with formulation of a report on creamy layer. 

The NCBC had requested all departments/ministries through Department of Personnel & Training to provide information in a format prescribed by them. However, no information was forthcoming.

But the DoPT swung into action and directed the ministries and departments to furnish information. The parliamentary committee expressed its dissatisfaction over low representation of OBCs in Central government services and directed DoP&T to collect data sought by NCBC and submit it to the committee urgently.

However, sources in the government say that representation of these sections may not have touched the required 50 percent-mark. But it was moving in the right direction and the figure is going up. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Centre issues stringent warning to 'lose cannons'

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Gen V K Singh on notice ■ PM to meet hurt writers

Harish Gupta
New Delhi, Oct 23 : With the BJP high command issuing a stern warning to what it calls "lose cannons" within the party and government of stern action, erring ministers and leaders are running for a cover. If Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh is offering one apology after the other for his "dog comment" on TV channels, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has vowed that he would never give a press interview.

So upset was BJP president Amit Shah with these developments that he took two days off from the hectic campaigning in Bihar and camped in Delhi. He may have used the occasion to celebrate Dussehra festival and his birthday as well. But he conveyed his annoyance in no uncertain terms to such "motor mouths" that they would be expelled forthwith if they did it again.

The Dadri incident has done the worst damage to the party's prospects in Bihar where it is trying hard to woo the Dalits and Maha-dalits. Since V K Singh was given the Lok Sabha ticket by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during his tenure as BJP chief, Amit Shah asked him to issue a public warning to the erring minister. V K Singh has embarrassed the party on three previous occasions.

It was only after the strong signal from Shah that Rajnath Singh issued a public warning to V K Singh. Rajnath Singh said on Friday, "Ministers must be careful while making statements. We cannot get away by saying that the statement was misinterpreted or twisted."

Incidentally, most of these 'lose cannons' belong to the Rajput community such as V K Singh or Sangeet Som, or those considered close to BJP's veteran leader L K Advani including Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha, Sakshi Maharaj or Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti etc.

It may be mentioned that General VK Singh had said yesterday: "If someone throws stones at a dog, the government is not responsible." The comment was seen as extraordinarily insensitive anas LJP leader Ram Vilas aswan and HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi have condemned Singh's statement in strongest terms.

The BJP is now running for a cover and it is likely that when the PM addresses rallies in Bihar during the next three days beginning October 25, he will send a strong signal at his level as well.

The Prime Minister's decision to meet the writers who have returned their Sahitya Academy awards is also a signal that Mr Modi will put a lid on the politics of intolerance. The PM's move has been widely welcomed and cooled tempers. The writers are likely to meet the PM during the next couple of days. Though they held a march in the Capital protesting against the killings of the innocents and hate politics, the PM's move has led to temperature subsiding. 

Meanwhile, a police case has been filed against General Singh at the instance of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes in UP.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Maximum hoarding in Maha

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

■ 36K-tonne pulses recovered in country; 23,340 tonnes in State

Harish Gupta
New Delhi, Oct. 21:

With the Centre cracking its whip on hoarders of pulses, the prices of arhar dal has come down to ` 145 per kg in a few states, tur dal is down to ` 120 per kg in Delhi through outlets of Safal and Kendriya Bhandar, urad dal is down to ` 30 per kg in Tamil Nadu and prices of red gram has come down to ` 50 per kg in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The Centre tonight asserted that more than 36,000 tonnes of pulses have been seized during the operations against hoarding in several states. Maharashtra tops the list of states where seized pulses account for 23,340 tonnes. In the remaining nine states, the seizure was 12,000 tonnes only. In all, more than 2,700 raids were conducted across the country.

The raids were conducted immediately after the Centre amended the Essential Commodities Act to enable States to impose stock limits on pulses sourced from imports and held by exporters of foodgrain products, large food processing units, large departmental retailers in the country. The states were exhorted to carry out surprise inspections and raids to prevent hoarding of pulses.

In a bid to increase the availability of pulses, in Haryana MD, HADED has been directed to procure pulses from the market and sell it through its outlets to bring down the prices. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley blamed the states for "doing nothing" to de-hoard pulses stock-piled by the hoarders in a big way. While the Centre had imported only 5,000 tonnes, another 3,000 tonnes are on the way. But globally, pulses are not available in other countries in large quantities.

He urged the states to take stern criminal action against hoarders. He was at pains to explain that it was the duty of the states to take action against hoarders. But it was the Centre that pushed them to act. Jaitley said the quantity of seized pulses has touched 36,000 tonnes and searches will continue and prices will come down further.

He said the PM had constituted a group of ministers (GoMs) which reviewed the situation and prices are coming down with the each passing day.

According to a release, maximum quantity of 23,340 tonnes was seized in Maharashtra, followed by 4,525.19 tonnes in Chhattisgarh, 2,546 tonnes in Telangana, 2,295 tonnes in Madhya Pradesh, 1,168 tonnes in Haryana, 859.80 tonnes in Andhra Pradesh, 479.60 tonnes in Karnataka, 68.47 tonnes in Rajasthan, 4.32 tonnes in Tamil Nadu and 2.44 tonnes in Himachal Pradesh.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

NJAC dead. What Next ?

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

A piquant situation has arisen following the Supreme Court of India turning down the government's move to have a say in the appointment of judges, rather than leaving it to a "collegium" of judges, something unique for India. It may not turn into a crisis straightaway, as there is little the executive can do in retaliation, its hands being tied by the Constitution and its doctrine of "separation of powers". But it will no doubt lead judges and politicians one step further down the warpath. It will no doubt cause bad blood that may have cascading effect in the future on growing unpredictability of court decisions on contentious governance issues, or a tendency of the court to cross the limit in interfering with executive matters. But, more than creating roadblocks for the administration, the dismissal of the government's case on NJAC points at a glaring structural defect that successive governments have failed to fix, last week's adverse judgment being the latest.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

RSS urges caution, wants Sena to stay in alliance

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Harish Gupta
New Delhi, Oct. 13 :

The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) has signalled that nothing should be done to escalate tensions between the BJP and Shiv Sena and the alliance should continue in Maharashtra.

The RSS intervention came after State BJP leadership upped the ante by declaring that Maharashtra is not a banana republic and Shiv Sena asserting not to allow any activity promoting Indo-Pak bonhomie; be it cricket, music, cultural relationship or otherwise. The major face off led to speculations that Shiv Sena may now walk out of the Fadnavis government and the alliance may go for a six.
It now transpires that RSS leadership conveyed to the top BJP leaders in Maharashtra and Delhi that nothing should be done to weaken the NDA and the state government should be sensitive to the issues of concerns.
Obviously, a large section in the RSS also feels that no useful purpose will be served by promoting public display of bonhomie between India and Pakistan particularly when the Modi government has insisted that Pakistan should follow the UFA resolution and commit to contain terrorism.
The RSS is also upset why the State government allowed the holding of such a function in the first place. The RSS per se is not inclined to interfere in the day-today functioning of the governments. But it would certainly like that governments supported by it should adhere to the basic philosophy. It was only after the RSS's intervention that BJP and Shiv Sena backed off and agreed to continue with their "uncomfortable co-existence"

Not enough to be secular

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

The Dadri incident may have dented the image of the Modi government. But it has also exposed the emptiness of the secular lobby's bluster. Of course Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited Bisada village in Greater Noida. But the visitors' list ends there.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Babus defy Modi sermons,

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Babus defy Modi sermons,
Deadline for property returns extended once again
Maharashtra IAS officers score

Harish Gupta
New Delhi, Oct 11
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may be exhorting the people to join in making his various schemes successful. But Modi government’s Public Servants are ignoring the directions regularly to file statements of their Assets & liabilities.

All serving bureaucrats belonging to IAS, IPS and other Central Services are expected to file statements of how much property, cash, jewelry owned by them and their family members and their liabilities as well. But these bureaucrats have been dithering and virtually defying the directions.

An indication of this came today when the Ministry issued a fresh order on a Sunday today extending the deadline to file their statements of Assets & liabilities straight for a period of six months. This is the third extension as the first expired in April 15 and the second deadline is expiring on October 2015. Now the Public Servants have been directed to file their statements of Assets and liabilities by 15th April 2016.

The public servants are to file their assets & liabilities return for the year 2014 including that of their family members and the first deadline was April 2015. This has caused a problem as the Modi government is determined to ensure transparency in its functioning. Though nearly 3000 returns have been filed. But more than one thousand have declared that they have no property. The only consolation is that of the 270 IAS officers belonging to Maharashtra, 268 have filed it while one has retired.
All ministries and departments have been directed by the Department of Personnel under the Prime Minister Modi to ensure compliance with the revised rules within the stipulated time frame.

Emergency brings Modi Advani together after long

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Exclusive report

Emergency brings Modi Advani together  after long

New Delhi, Oct 9
It seems Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former deputy Prime Minister L K Advani may be heading for some sort of a truce on Sunday next. This will be after a long time that Advani will not only share the stage with the Prime Minister but also speaking on the occasion as well. 
Though Advani had shared stage with Modi at party functions in the past. But he never got an opportunity to speak. Modi ensured that even if Advani shares the stage with him due to his seniority, he does not get a chance to speak. Both hardly had cordial relationship with each other and whenever Advani got an opportunity, he chose words unpalatable to Modi. Therefore, after coming to power in May last year, Modi completely sidelined Advani.
But come Sunday and both will be together at Vigyan Bhawan function to observe “Loktantra Raksha Diwas”. Essentially, the function is to honour all those volunteers and leaders of the RSS and its affiliate institutions who went to jail during the Emergency. This is the first time that a function of this scale is being organized to falicitate those who went to jails during the Emergency under MISA.  The function has been organized by Loknayak Jaiprakash Narayan Jayanti comprising of those who fought the Emergency with him and went to jail.

While Modi will be the Chief Guest at the function, L K Advani and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal are special guests. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkiah Naidu, former National President ABVP, Rajkumar Bhatia, Tourism Minister Dr Mahesh Sharma, Sushil Kumar Modi and advocate Satyapal  Jain.

While a couple of BJP ruled states have given freedom fighter status to all those who went to jail fighting the Emergency, there is no scheme at the Central level so far to honour them.
The function may provide an occasion to announce a scheme at the Central level.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Centre ayes Rs.1,577 cr for AIIMS in Nagpur

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

The Prime Minister was personally very keen to set up the AIIMS branches in three states and tweeted extensively today through his twitter handling account. 
■ 2 more AIIMS at Manglagiri in Andhra and Kalyani in West Bengal approved 

Harish Gupta
New Delhi, Oct. 7

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday formally approved the setting up of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AllMS) at Nagpur in Maharashtra. The AIIMS at Nagpur will cost `1,577 crore and will address issues concerning regional imbalances in availability of affordable and reliable tertiary health care services in the State. The large population in Vidarbha region in particular will benefit with the coming up of the AIIMS. 

The Cabinet also approved the setting up of two more AIIMS at Manglagiri in Andhra Pradesh and Kalyani in West Bengal. The three AIIMS together will cost the Centre collectively `4,949 crore. 

The institute of national importance for which Nagpur had been clamouring for long, will have a hospital with a capacity of 960 beds. It will not only provide quality medical education, nursing education, tertiary healthcare facilities but also have a nursing college. In addition, there will be a teaching block, administrative block, AYUSH block, auditorium, night shelter for those accompanying the patients, hostel and residential accommodation. The three new AIIMS are in addition to six already made functional in various State capitals and one coming up at Rae Bareli.

The three new AIIMS will augment the facilities of quality medical education and would also address the shortfall of health care professionals in these regions.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and surface transport and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari had been working for long for the Nagpur AIIMS and an in-principle decision had been taken as well long ago in this regard. But it was only today that the Union Cabinet cleared the setting up of three new AIIMS. Significantly, the other two AIIMS are in Andhra Pradesh ruled by NDA partner TDP and West Bengal ruled by Mamata Banerjee of the TMC. But this is in tune with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's philosophy of cooperative federalism.

The Prime Minister was personally very keen to set up the 
AIIMS branches in three states and tweeted extensively 
today through his twitter handling account. 

He said, "People of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra (Vidarbha) & West Bengal along with adjoining states and region will be beneficiary of this project."

In another tweet he further said, "New AIIMS will be established for providing quality medical education, nursing education and also to provide tertiary healthcare facilities."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Govt as a Shakha

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a man of remarkable communication skills. He proved it time and again, his latest feat being in California last month where he impressed not merely a bunch of senators and bureaucrats but a galaxy of techno - czars.