Double, double, toil and trouble…

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble

2018 is likely to be one long round of electioneering — besides the north-eastern states, assembly elections are due in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan where the BJP is incumbent, and in Karnataka that the BJP is trying to wrest from the ruling Congress party. And it is all shaping up into the sort of witches’ brew that Shakespeare provided the recipe for.

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Yes, Prime Minister

The Prime Minister is unhappy, and he has good reason to be. No one responds to my ‘good morning’ messages, he cribbed at a meeting of party lawmakers the other day.

That’s fair. It is not about sycophancy, or the social media analog of kids jumping up and going ‘good morning Miss’ when the teacher walks into the room. It is about common courtesy, about basic good behavior. And decency, good behavior, these are important, yes, in any civilized society, in any culture?

Right. Meanwhile, in Parliament, Mr Arun Jaitley made an important intervention:

On Wednesday, making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, leader of the house and finance minister Arun Jaitley said: “The PM in his speeches did not question, nor did he mean to question the commitment to this nation of either former PM Manmohan Singh or former VP Hamid Ansari. Any such perception is erroneous. We hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India.”

Any such perception that Modi was attacking both his predecessor and a former vice president of India was “erroneous”, Jaitley said.

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“Not proven”

In Scotland, courts have the option of picking from three possible verdicts: Guilty, Not Guilty, and Not Proven.

It is this third verdict that the CBI special court actually pronounced today at the conclusion of the prolonged hearings into the 2G scam, some seven years after a report by then Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai rocked Parliament, gave wings to the BJP’s anti-corruption plank, and led to the then UPA government fighting a losing battle at the polls.

Only, since it does not have the third option available to it, the court acquitted.

Special judge O.P. Saini said, “I have no hesitation in holding that record is not sufficient and the prosecution has miserably failed in proving charges. All accused are acquitted.”

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The U-turn sarkar

May 25, 2014: The then Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan says that the first issue he will take up with the prime minister, if his party won the Lok Sabha polls, was the cause of granting full statehood to the capital city. The move, he said, would solve the problem of multiple authorities; he said the NDA had earlier tabled a relevant bill in Parliament but the successor UPA government had not followed up.

Harsh Vardhan’s predecessor Madan Lal Khurana had made a similar demand in 2003, coincidentally, again, just ahead of assembly elections. “The BJP leadership at the Centre says it is drafting a new Delhi Statehood Bill,” the article points out. “This is something it had done in 1998 as well, a few months before the assembly elections in November that year.”

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Liars, Inc?

What was I saying just earlier today about the Somnath Temple and rabbitholes? Now, this:

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Amusing ourselves to death

For the two weeks that I have been away, I lived a pre-internet life. I consumed “news”, such as it is, through the morning papers and ignored the internet; I avoided calls except for a couple of absolutely urgent ones; I left messages unresponded to; I refrained from obsessively checking my mailbox, and limited mail time to 15 minutes at the end of each day.

 

In this time I went for long walks; I met a couple of friends for long conversations over breakfast/lunch; I caught up with my wife who, too, had put her phone away for the duration; I learned to breathe again.
Then, yesterday, I reverted to type. I scrolled through the main Twitter timeline and my curated news links; paged through the few dozen news websites I’ve bookmarked in my ‘dailies’ file; checked messages and DMs as they came in, and I realized just how much the internet shrinks the time and the mind-space available for everything else.

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Post-script to strategery

Well, what do you know?! In response to my post on the BJP’s wonky strategery, I get three different emails, in the space of under an hour, all essentially asking the same thing: Am I reading too much into one case being withdrawn and one warrant in another case being issued, both involving Hardik Patel?

Like I said at the outset, when I restarted my blog, I prefer to keep all discussions here, and not one-on-one in email — I’m fine voicing my opinions in public, no reason you need to be wary about voicing your questions to me. So. In response to the above question — I am, am I? Reading too much?

Headline #1: Govt to withdraw 90% cases against agitating Patidars

Headline #2: Eye on elections, Gujarat govt to drop most cases against Patidars

Where’s the catch? Headline #1 is dated August 1, 2016. Headline #2 is dated October 13, 2017

That is what I meant when I said the BJP uses, and withdraws, cases not because of its vaunted law and order credentials, but because of political expediency.

The case in which a non-bailable warrant has been issued against Hardik Patel relates to damage to property and related sections. In response to my comment, I got this on Twitter:

Yeah, some think. And remember. Like, so (Dated October 18, 2017):

Continuing its populist announcements, Gujarat government on Wednesday declared to withdraw criminal cases registered under the provisions of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and other relevant penal sections against 22 farmers of Sanand region in Ahmedabad district. Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja made the announcement in an official release.

While on which, you really can’t fool all the people all the time. As witness:

The announcement came barely a week after the Bharatiya Janata Party government promised to withdraw all “non-serious cases” filed against members of the Patidar community after their protest rally in August 2015 had led to rioting and violence across the state. The land-owning Patidar or Patel community, which accounts for 14% of Gujarat’s population, is fighting for reservation in jobs and education under the Other Backward Classes category.

However, neither the Sanand farmers nor the Patidar leaders are moved by the BJP’s attempts to placate them. Dismissing the announcements as pre-poll bait, they claimed the government had yet to address their main problems and demands.

Shailesh Thakkar, one of the 22 farmers from Upardal village in Sanand, doubts the government will keep its word. “We have been seeing in the media that the government has claimed it will withdraw the cases against us,” he said. “But will they actually withdraw the cases? I doubt it.” Thakkar spent 16 days in jail before he was released on bail in March.

If you still think the latest action against Hardik Patel has to do with law and order, can I interest you in a big bridge?