Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: India

Anna and Arvind part ways

Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal have parted ways. The issue was political formation. Many in IAC wanted to form a political party to fight corruption. Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and some others were opposed to it. The meeting on 19/9/2012 lasted nine hours. Yogendra Yadav was the moderator. Anna Hazare said those who want to form a political party can go ahead with it but should not use his name or photograph. Arvind Kejriwal said Anna Hazare’s decision was shocking, unbelievable and sad.

Baba Ramdev and some other people wanted a split between Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal was opposed to all political parties. Kiran Bedi was in favour of BJP. Arvind Kejriwal did not want to join with Baba Ramdev as there were tax evasion cases against him. RSS people wanted to use IAC against Congress. Industrialist Sitaram Jindal had a role in arranging meetings of Anna Hazare with people opposed to Arvind Kejriwal.

IAC had made corruption an issue and had raised hopes of corruption-free India. Jan Lokpal Bill was its demand. Congress came with a Lopkpal Bill that was not acceptable to IAC but was passed in Lok Sabha. Anna Hazare’s fast at MMRDA Grounds did not have expected crowds. The fast was to last three days. He called off his fast on second day. Congress managed to disrupt Rajya Sabha and the Lokpal Bill was not passed. Chairman Hamid Ansari played a role in allowing discussion till midnight and sabotaging the bill.

IAC demanded resignation of 15 ministers for corruption. The ministers did not oblige. Anna Hazare had a secret meeting with Salman Khurshid. IAC members were surprised when they came to know about it. Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai held fast at Jantar Mantar. Anna Hazare joined a few days later. The fast was called off on appeal by 22 persons. On the last day there was a decision to go political based on an SMS poll. Anna Hazare did not oppose it then.

Corruption is an issue. Congress is doing its best to divert attention from corruption. Coalgate became too hot to handle. Congress came with “reforms”. Soon coalgate was forgotten. TMC issued 72 hours deadline for rollback. Many parties opposed Congress and called for Bharat Bandh. After the deadline expired TMC announced withdrawal of support to UPA.

Fight against corruption is continuous process. Sometimes new challenges develop. Arvind Kejriwal was an RTI activist. RTI was instrumental in exposing corruption. Now two judges of the Supreme Court have made a mess of RTI by their verdict that only retired or serving justices of Supreme Court or chief justices of High Courts can head information commissions and half of the information commissioners should be judicial members. This verdict will create problems in fight against corruption.

Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal may fight against corruption separately but it is not clear how effective they will be. It is time for Kumar Vishwas, Shazia Ilmi, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and other prominent IAC members to take sides. Shanti Bhushan is optimistic that they can win 2014 election. Yogendra Yadav thinks first election is to be lost, second election is to defeat, third election is to form government. In 2009 many people like Gopinath and Meera Sanyal contested as independents and lost.

To form government at centre, Arvind Kejriwal and others need to field 543 candidates and win 272 seats. Without 272 seats they will have to depend on others and make compromises. They should beware of moles who will pass on information and scuttle programmes. They should form a shadow cabinet and decide who will hold which portfolio if elected. Legislative Assembly elections are due in Gujarat and some other states before 2014. IAC members can test their strength during those elections. They need to take a stand against corporate debt restructuring. They need not take a stand against any issue unless it has something to do with corruption. They may take a stand against reservations in legislatures, government jobs and government-run educational institutions or avoid it.

Six medals in London Olympics

I expected five medals in London Olympics; one each in archery, badminton, boxing, shooting, and wrestling. We got six. In archery we did not get a medal. In badminton we got one. In boxing we got one. I expected a medal from one of the seven men; we got from a woman, Mary Kom, the only woman boxer. In shooting we got two. I expected one from Abhinav Bindra, we got silver medal from Vijay Kumar and bronze medal from Gagan Narang. In wrestling we got bronze medal from Yogeshwar Dutt and silver medal from Sushil Kumar. Sushil Kumar became the first Indian to win two individual Olympic medals. In Beijing we got one gold and two bronze. In London we got two silver and four bronze.

I did not expect any medal in hockey and tennis. In hockey India did not get a penalty corner against Holland in its first match and lost the match 2-3, a difference of one goal. Next match India lost by two goals, third, fourth, and fifth matches by three goals each. They lost to New Zealand 1-3, to Germany 2-5, to South Korea 1-4, and to Belgium 0-3. In the classification match to decide 11th and 12th places out of 12 teams India lost to South Africa 2-3 and finished 12th.

In tennis India did not go beyond second round. Some said sending two doubles teams will double the chances of medals. Zero multiplied by two is zero. There was lot of acrimony during selection. Mahesh Bhupati and Rohan Bopanna should not be selected to play for India in Olympics, Davis Cup, Asian Games or any other tournament.

There were controversies in boxing. Sumit Sangwan should have gone to the next round. One commentator said the decision of judges was daylight robbery. India’s appeal against that decision was said to have been thrown out because it was not filed within the stipulated time of 30 minutes. In Vikas Krishnan’s case, judges declared him winner. The Americans appealed against that decision. The jury reversed the decision and Vikas Krishnan was declared loser. India’s re-appeal was dismissed. There was a report that India appealed to Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and CAS said we do not decide on on-field decisions. Later another report said CAS denied having any appeal from India. Manoj Kumar lost to Thomas Stalker in pre-quarter finals. Devendro Singh lost to Paddy Barnes in quarter finals. Manoj Kumar and Devendro Singh claimed they were unfairly deprived of victory.

Indians reached finals in men’s discus throw, women’s discus throw, and semi-final in women’s 800m race. In men’s triple jump Renjith Maheshwari committed three fouls and did not qualify for final.

This Olympics had some strange decisions. Eight badminton players were disqualified for not trying to win. One Tunisian was disqualified for not trying to win 800m race heats. He produced a medical certificate. He was reinstated and won gold medal in 1500m race. South Africans were allowed to compete in men’s 4 x 400m relay without completing the relay in semi-final.

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.

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