Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lies, deceit, chicanery...

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.
February 18 was particularly distressing day. Never before in the history of this country has a Bill that seeks to split a State been passed in the manner it was done on Tuesday. The utter contempt with which Sonia Gandhi-led UPA treats established procedures; the arrogance with which it pushes through legislation is unparalleled in the history of our country. The meek manner in which the Speaker merely follows the lead of the high command is distressing to note.
On Thursday last, Members of the House were not given an agenda that said the AP Re-organisation Bill was to be introduced in the Lok Sabha. None of them knew that the Bill will be introduced at 12 pm that day. Typically at 12 pm, papers are first laid on the table. Since there was a No-confidence Motion notice given, it was imperative of the Speaker to first close that action item out. She did not do it. She allowed the Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to introduce the Bill, and then adjourned the house till 2 pm. And then at 2 pm, the MP were given the agenda on which it was written that the Bill will be introduced at 12 pm that day! Opposition parties protested this transgression but that’s about it – because Sonia Gandhi would anyway not care two hoots about who protested. Right from the beginning, a strange secrecy surrounded every single important event. On the afternoon of October 3, 2013, Sushilkumar Shinde says he is yet to read the Ministry’s note on Andhra Pradesh bifurcation. Within a couple of hours, the note is presented as a table item before the Cabinet – which means MPs will not be given a chance to study it. It was later proclaimed as a “strategic” statement of the Home Minister.
It was leaked that the Group of Ministers (GoM) is considering Rayala-Telangana. Outrage followed – it was leaked that the proposal has been put on hold. Till the Bill was presented in the House, no one had a clue about it. MPs were used as bouncers, security personnel for Ministers in the House. MPs were used to protect the Government from their own party MPs. Lies, deceit, chicanery – all were allowed under the name of “strategising”. And then came the debate and discussion on the Bill, in which other democracy does such a Bill get passed amidst such din and acrimony? Ministers of this Government are themselves trooping into the well of the House protesting their own Cabinet’s decision. When the Congress Working Committee (CWC) resolution was announced on July 30, 2013, there was massive pressure on these Ministers to resign. They clung to their posts citing multiple reasons – only if we sit in this seat of power can we effectively put across our voice.
Only if we remain as Ministers, we can effectively ensure that justice is done to our regions. Only if we remain as Parliamentarians can we effectively make our voice heard when the Bill comes up for discussion. Then the Cabinet note was out – some of these Ministers resigned. Not a single demand of theirs was met in the last 7 months. One Minister, Chiranjeevi even sent his resignation letter to both the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi too. Till date, no one has a clue on the status of those resignations! After a while, these Ministers meekly started attending work – perhaps, it was too difficult to stay away from the lure of power. On February 18, 2014, some of them started this charade of “massive injustice” done and therefore their “conscience” doesn’t allow them to continue as Ministers! Whom are these people trying to fool? Ten days before the Code of Conduct comes into force, these people are trying to sound as if they are making a big sacrifice. This charade that Sonia Gandhi has orchestrated has no precedence and no will be capable of repeating this too.
The BJP had no choice, but their problem is that they made too much noise. No choice because, the BJP’s demand for carving out a separate State of Telangana precedes the chicanery of the Congress. However, the BJP started making a lot of noise about the need to ensure that this Bill gives justice to the people of Seemandhra. The BJP went to town saying that they are proposing 32 key Amendments to this Bill. In the Bill, we have no idea on how many of these Amendments have been accepted by the Government. Sushma Swaraj herself has said that there is a legal flaw in this Bill, because of which a Constitutional Amendment is needed. The concept of common capital, common Governor and special powers to the Governor definetely needs a Constitutional Amendment – yet the BJP did not insist on this and helped in passing of the constitutionally flawed provisions of the Bill. These are the BJP President’s own words from yesterday: The manner in which the Bill was pushed through by the Government was not transparent and utterly undemocratic.
After this statement, I don’t think there is any need to substantiate the argument on the trap BJP walked into. Helping pass an “utterly undemocratic” Bill in the worlds largest democracy is an event that is difficult to fathom. Perhaps, Sonia Gandhi-led UPA’s arrogance stems from this inherent contradiction of the BJP. It would have been much simpler if the BJP said, ” We have remained committed to the cause of Telangana for years. We find inherent flaws in the Bill; flaws on which we have no control to Amend, despite trying our best. We will fix this once we come to power”.
Instead, what do we get? “Utterly undemocratic”,  “Constitutionally flawed”. Sushma Swaraj even left it to the courts to decide whether this Bill can stand their scrutiny. Venkaih Naidu says that the party will insist on some Amendments in the Rajya Sabha – something they did not do in the Lok Sabha! As much as I am distressed by this sudden turn of events, the focus still needs to remain on the damage Sonia Gandhi’s UPA has done to the country. Maybe there is no institution left that has not been damaged or whose reputation has been sullied under this regime. Every known procedure was given a go-by to ensure one woman’s word goes through – when Sonia Gandhi has the will, she will find a way, however, damaging it is. It will perhaps take years to undo this damage – but perhaps this churn is important. We perhaps needed to see the damage before we know how to rebuild.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorg Bill now goes to the Rajya Sabha (perhaps on February 19, perhaps tomorrow. We don’t know). The Bill postpones every single contentious issue to be resolved after 3 or 5 or 10 years. Every single political party is not happy with the Bill, but doesn’t want to oppose it because of fear of losing votes. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh is all set to resign today. There is no option but to impose President’s Rule in the State – or perhaps Sonia Gandhi will find another way to appoint her Chief Minister. We don’t know. Once the Bill is passed in Rajya Sabha, the entire process will have to be overseen by Sushilkimar Shinde if there is President’s Rule. I wonder what it is that the people of the State have done to deserve to be bossed over by the likes of UPA.


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