Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Consensus and democracy

It is time for Presidential election and some people talk of consensus. Democracy is about elections. There is no place for consensus in a democracy.
BJP and Congress have not declared their candidates. BJP candidate can be anybody from Amit Shah Draupadi Murmu to Kalyan Singh to Mohan Bhagwat to Nitin Gadkari to Ram Naik to Sumitra Mahajan to Sushma Swaraj. I don’t expect Lal Krishna Advani or Murli Manohar Joshi or Parkash Singh Badal to be BJP candidate. Congress candidate is likely to be Gopalkrishna Gandhi. Mamata Banerjee is said to be opposed to Meira Kumar. Sharad Pawar has refused to contest. It seems Congress wanted Pranab Mukherjee to contest but he refused.
BJP leads NDA. Congress leads a coalition of like-minded parties. All opposition parties are not with Congress. AAP, AIADMK, BJD, TRS and YSR Congress are not with Congress. YSR Congress leader Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy is enemy of Sonia Gandhi for not allowing him to become Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister after his father’s death and later for putting him in jail. He has declared support to BJP candidate.
There was a time when any Indian citizen who is 35 years old and is qualified to become Member of Parliament could contest to become President. Changes were made to law to prevent frivolous candidates from contesting. Now it is not possible to contest without the support of 100 electors.
Some say the office of the President should be by consensus and above contest. They are wrong. The Constitution provides for election and it should be election.
Congress and allies could have declared their candidate but they claim in favour of consensus and want BJP to mention their candidate. BJP President Amit Shah appointed a committee comprising Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, and Venkaiah Naidu. These members have not come up with any name. They are in touch with opposition leaders. BJP also wants to show they are in favour of consensus. There is no need for such farce. Narendra Modi has decided on the name and it will be revealed in due course.
The office of President has been contested since 1952 and only in 1977 was Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was unopposed him because 36 other candidates were disqualified. In 1997 there was an attempt to get K. R. Narayanan elected unopposed. T. N. Seshan got the support of Shiv Sena and contested. In 2002 BJP, Congress and many other parties agreed on A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Left Front put up Lakshmi Sahgal as candidate.
Indian political parties do not have internal democracy. There are no primaries for selection of candidates. High command decides. Consensus disappoints losers and leads to splits. Parties multiply.

Major Gogoi deserves medal

Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi should be given Wisdom Medal. India should institute that medal to give to Major Gogoi and others who act wisely under hostile conditions. The motto of Indian Military Academy is Valour and Wisdom (Veerata aur Vivek). Army has many medals for wartime and peacetime. Punjab CM Capt. Amarinder Singh has said Major Gogoi be given distinguished service medal. I suppose he means Vishisht Seva Medal.
On 9/4/2017 Major Gogoi tied a ringleader of stone-pelters to a jeep and that enabled him and others to get away peacefully. The incident happened near a polling booth at Utligam. Major Gogoi went there with a Quick Reaction Team after a distress call from an ITBP officer. Stone-pelting was going on. The criminals were trying to burn down the polling station by hurling bombs. He made repeated announcements on a megaphone that they were there just to rescue the polling staff and ITBP personnel stuck in the polling station. The mob was not listening. He saw Farooq Ahmad Dar, ringleader of stone-pelters, at a distance of 30 metres. Major Gogoi told QRT boys to catch the ringleader and they caught him despite intense stone-pelting and getting hurt.
Major Gogoi and QRT rescued four civil polling staff, seven ITBP personnel and one J&K Police constable. They started moving towards the road. The mine protected vehicle got stuck in the mud. Stone-pelting started again. A petrol bomb was thrown at them which did not blast. Major Gogoi ordered his boys to tie Dar to the vehicle. Stone-pelting stopped. Major Gogoi and others moved out safely. Major Gogoi’s action saved lives because had he fired there would have been casualties. There were women and children.
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat awarded a commendation certificate to Major Gogoi for sustained efforts on counter-insurgency.
Most Indians, including most former army men, are happy about commendation certificate to Major Gogoi. Some are unhappy. Some of them are former army men.
Some are politicians who criticise for the sake of criticism. If something happens under BJP government they should criticise it. Digvijaya Singh is one of them. On the issue of cow vigilantism he is with BJP.
Some are opportunistic politicians who say one thing when they are in power, another thing when they are out of power. Omar Abdullah is one of them. Soldiers, ITBP personnel and J&K Police constable have fundamental rights and right of self-defence. Omar Abdulla forgets that when he is out of power. Major Gogoi did not violate the Constitution of India. He could have shot dead all stone-pelters.
J. S. Bandukwala wrote “After Operation Bluestar, Indira Gandhi insisted on keeping her Sikh guards. Today, Kashmir demands similar maturity and empathy.” Indira Gandhi showed stupidity, not maturity. She was killed. Thousands of Sikhs were massacred in Delhi and other cities. India does not need such stupidity.
Praveen Swami wrote “The applause for Major Gogoi’s act needs to be examined, and the notion that savage force will solve the problem unpicked.” Major Gogoi did not use savage force.
Karan Thapar wrote “Not the Indian Army I know.” “It has cast a cloud over millions of army sons and daughters.” His father Pran Nath Thapar was General when China defeated India in war and had to quit. Is Karan Thapar proud of that? Karan Thapar further wrote “Finally, the major’s surprise appearance on television only added to the problem.” There is no problem. Major Gogoi has the right to respond to his critics.
Retired Lt. Gen. H. S. Panag said “Whatever the provocation, the Indian army cannot take recourse to illegal acts.” Major Gogoi did nothing illegal. He defended himself and others.
Army should file cases against Dar for stone-pelting, instigation, obstruction of government servants, attempted arson, attempted murder, destruction of public property.
We have seen videos of criminals attacking, beating, kicking and slapping CRPF jawans. One Kashmiri army officer had gone to attend a wedding in his family. He was abducted, tortured and murdered. Those who speak against Major Gogoi have not spoken against those criminals.
Some have spoken of Geneva Conventions. Geneva Conventions have nothing to do with Major Gogoi’s action.
Election Commission should be even handed in its dealings. In R. K. Puram it countermanded the election because a candidate gave 4,000 rupees each to voters. In Srinagar it did not countermand the election though it was clear, free and fair election was not possible due to intimidation and violence. In Anantnag it postponed the election and later countermanded it.
Army is for the defence of the country. Soldiers are trained to shoot to kill. Law and order is a state subject and is a responsibility of states. Army is called when the situation is out of control. Our soldiers are not for getting beaten by criminals. Those who throw stones on soldiers should be shot dead.
Army is taken for granted. Using it during natural calamities like cyclones, earthquakes and floods is justified. Using soldiers as manual labourers for The Art of Living programme was unjustified. An amount of 1,02,000 crore rupees was spent for Commonwealth Games 2010. When army sent a bill for the work it had done Commonwealth Games Organising Committee refused to pay.
In November 2016 BJP members boasted that demonetisation has put an end to stone-pelting in Kashmir and Naxal activities. Stone-pelting is back with a vengeance in Kashmir and Naxals killed CRPF jawans in Chhattisgarh.

End of AAP dream

It is the end of AAP dream. AAP began with great expectations. It talked about ending corruption. There was hope. During first AAP government there was talk of policemen not taking bribes. That government ended in 49 days. AAP returned to power with majority. AAP won 67 out of 70 seats in Delhi. However all was not well. There were questions about some MLAs.
Expulsion of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav showed Arvind Kejriwal as autocratic. Many leaders left the party.
AAP became one man party. It became property of Arvind Kejriwal. Grass roots democracy did not last long. Primaries to elect candidates to fight elections disappeared. It was high command culture.
Jitendra Singh Tomar case damaged AAP. He was made a minister. AAP defended him against accusations of forged certificates. AAP was proved wrong. AAP’s reputation was damaged.
There was allegation that in Punjab, women who wanted to contest as AAP candidates were asked to have sex. On India Today, Yogendra Yadav told Rajdeep Sardesai he can find out by talking to people there.
Arvind Kejriwal and some AAP leaders blamed EVMs for their defeats. Some AAP leaders did not agree with that. They said AAP did not communicate well the good work it has done, losing touch with people, and wrong ticket distribution. Those who were members for a long time did not get tickets. Those who newly joined from other parties got tickets. That disappointed AAP volunteers and they stopped working for the party.
Kumar Vishwas made statements against AAP leadership. Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia met and pacified him. He was made Rajasthan in-charge.
On 6/5/2017 Arvind Kejriwal removed Kapil Mishra as Water Resources and Tourism Minister. On 7/5/2017 Kapil Mishra accused Arvind Kejriwal of taking 2 crore rupees of bribe money from Satyendra Jain. That was the last straw that broke camel’s back or the last nail on the coffin.
AAP had limited success outside Delhi. In Punjab it won four Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and 20 Legislative Assembly seats in 2017.
Any attempt by anyone who claims to have corruption-free politics will be met with cynicism. One may be a good person before joining politics. After joining politics there is no guarantee that person will remain good.

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