Month: June 2012

Sarabjit and Surjeet

On 26/6/2012 around 7 p.m. news broke out that Sarabjit Singh was to be released as Asif Ali Zardari was to commute his death sentence to life which he had already completed as he was in prison for over 14 years he had spent 22 years in jail. Sarabjit Singh was in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. The news was too good to be true. The decision would have been unpopular in Pakistan.

Ansar Burney, Asma Jehangir and Awaiz Sheikh had tried for Sarabjit’s release. After the news broke out some Maulvis demonstrated outside Lahore Press Club against the release.

There were celebrations in Sarabjit Singh’s family. Markandey Katju, who was out of news for a long time, wrote a letter to Asif Ali Zardari thanking him for the pardon.

Something changed during the night. Around 1 a.m. came the news that Surjeet Singh will be released and not Sarabjit Singh. There was miscommunication. Sarabjit Singh’s family members felt it was a cruel joke. Some said it was a diversionary tactic meant to divert attention from the arrest of Abu Jundal wanted in 26/11 case. Surjeet Singh’s family celebrated at unexpected good news.

This is a lesson for TV channels who get into Breaking News quoting sources. Some channels cancel their regular programmes to run such reports without official word from government.

Khalil Chisti got bail and went to Pakistan. Some hoped Pakistan will release Sarabjit. Pakistan released Surjeet. Previously Pakistan had released Gopal Dass and Kashmir Singh. We do not know how many Indians are in Pakistani jails with no one pleading for their release.

Sania Mirza and humiliation

On 26/6/2012 Sania Mirza and Rushmi Chakrabarty got wild card entry for women’s doubles in London Olympics and Somdev Devvarman in men’s singles. Soon Sania issued a statement. Some excerpts:

“For Leander to consider partnering with Vishnu only if he has a written assurance from me to play mixed is, I think, demeaning for me, Vishnu and Leander. What is even more shocking is the manner in which facts have been misrepresented to justify the breaking up of a team that won a second Grand Slam. Leander and I are not the only combination likely to get a direct entry in the mixed doubles.

As an Indian woman belonging to the 21st century, what I find disillusioning is the humiliating manner in which I was put up as a bait to try and pacify one of the disgruntled stalwarts of Indian tennis… the manner and timing of the announcement reeks of male chauvinism where a two-time Grand Slam champion and No. 1 player in women’s singles and doubles is offered in compensation to partner one of the feuding champions purely in order to lure him into accepting to play with a men’s player he does not wish to play with!

This kind of blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood needs to be condemned even if it comes from the highest controlling body of tennis in our country.”

Anil Khanna, president of AITA, spoke of selection of players on 21/6/2012. Sania should have spoken soon after that. Waiting for wild card and speaking after that is opportunism. Sania has mentioned male chauvinism and blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood. One does not have to put up with humiliation. If Sania felt it was not just her humiliation but humiliation of Indian womanhood she should have refused to play. If she finds it demeaning to play with Leander she should refuse to play with him. She will do a great service to Indian womanhood.

Sania said Mahesh Bhupati had promised to be her partner in London Olympics and broke his promise to her. Krishna Bhupati had said Mahesh is a role model and had promised to partner Rohan Bopanna in Olympics and could not break his promise by agreeing to partner Leander. What about breaking promise to Sania? Is he not a role model then?

Sania mentioned she and Vishnu Vardhan had won silver medal in mixed doubles in Asian Games 2010 and the three stalwarts, Leander, Mahesh and Rohan, had refused to take part. She said she is ready to partner anyone in mixed doubles in Olympics. She has not received wild card for mixed doubles.

There was doubt about Somdev’s fitness when doubles players were considered. Now that he has got wild card for singles he seems to be fit. If Somdev did not want to play doubles Anil Khanna should have said that.

Rohit Rajpal should not have been sent to London to talk to Leander. They could have talked on phone.

Self-respect is greater than playing for country in Olympics. Respect of Indian womanhood is important. Sania can avoid blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood by refusing to be a bait to pacify a male player. She can say she will not play mixed doubles to uphold the dignity of Indian womanhood.

Pranab versus Purno

Pranab Mukherjee and Purno Albert Sangma are the two candidates for president of India. When UPA announced Pranab as its candidate some journalists said he will get 82% of votes, Purno will get 6%. NDA and Left Front had not decided on candidates, CPI had said it will oppose Congress candidate, many other parties had not declared their support to any candidate. The journalists added NDA and Left Front votes to Pranab. Instead of being objective they behaved like Pranab’s cheerleaders.

TMC wanted A. P. J. Abdul Kalam to contest. JD(U) was in favour of Pranab. When NDA’s meeting ended inclusive Kalam did not want to contest. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat spoke in favour of Kalam but that was too late. Ram Jethmalani said if BJP did not put up a candidate he will contest.

There was talk that Purno will be offered the post of high commissioner to Mauritius and he will not contest. That infuriated Purno. NCP did not want Purno to contest. Purno quit NCP. Along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar he was a founder of NCP.

On 21/6/2012 BJP and SAD decided to support Purno. JD(U) and Shiv Sena were on Pranab’s side.

There was no Breaking News when many meetings happened. After Mamata and Mulayam rejected the names of Pranab and Hamid Ansari and suggested the names of Manmohan Singh, Abdul Kalam and Somnath Chatterjee, Mulayam met Sonia Gandhi. There was no Breaking News. Next day Mulayam met A. K. Antony and Ahmed Patel. There was no Breaking News. After that Mulayam met Sonia Gandhi. There was no Breaking News. When Pranab came to Bombay he met Bal Thackeray. There was no Breaking News. It is not good when TV channels suppress news.

In a democracy elections should be contested. Two candidates are ideal. More candidates means someone gets elected with less than half the votes. Something is wrong when there is no contest and someone is declared elected unopposed. Consensus is not democracy.

Pranab as minister has held various portfolios except that of home and did not become prime minister. Purno was labour minister and speaker of Lok Sabha.