Monday, March 31, 2014

Narendra Modi’s Question to Sonia Gandhi on Italian Marines- Some Implications

Election campaigns are where the rhetoric rules. It is not necessary to take a critical view of campaign speeches of politicians. They exaggerate many things, to take the audience into their hands. However, when the person who speaks is as high as principal opposition party’s declared prime ministerial candidate, and involves country’s highest judiciary, it requires a closer look.

One of the speeches from Mr. Narendra Modi that calls for a deeper look is his question to Congress President Ms. Sonia Gandhi asking her to explain as to “who was it at whose behest the government in Delhi gave the marines a chance to go back to Italy” (Times of India).

Under Indian judicial system, it is not the political leadership but the jurisdictional court that decides the manner in which a trial is conducted.  The decision of respective courts in matter relating to custody, bail, and other terms that govern the trial and the accused individuals is final subject only to any appeal to higher courts. In the Italian marines’ case, the matter is pending before the Supreme Court of India. Being the highest court of the country, its decision are final and binding on all. It was the Supreme Court that decided to allow the Italian Marines to go home, to cast their votes in their general elections. Any concerned citizen can question the merits of that decision, but the decision is final and binding on all.

I am sure Narendra Modi must be knowing this basic feature of Indian judicial process. More so since, he has been facing legal proceedings involving some most gruesome accusations, for over a decade. Therefore, can we ignore this as a mere rhetoric of a politician? I am afraid, we cannot!

What Mr. Narendra Modi has done through this accusation is blaming the Supreme Court judges who arrived at this decision, of extraneous motives. If we take his insinuations at face value, then those judges have succumbed to the pressure or request of Ms. Sonia Gandhi! Attributing motives to judges while they are passing judgments is a serious charge and the person making it must be willing to substantiate his charges.

Attributing motives to Ms. Sonia Gandhi in this case may amount to a defamatory statement. Accusing Ms. Sonia Gandhi of interfering in a murder trial, to save two mariners who are from the country of her birth can also go against fair practices of election.  However, these are matters for Ms. Gandhi and Congress Party to look into.

Much more sinister is yet another implication of Mr. Modi’s statement. Does our future Prime Minister consider India’s judicial process to be amenable to political leaders’ interference?  Does he think political leaders (even if it is Sonia Gandhi) can make judges of Supreme Court pass orders, as per their wishes? There were many allegations in the past where Mr. Modi and his government were accused of doing precisely the same in matters involving 2002 riot cases and lower judiciary. This has even led to shifting of the trial of some cases, out of the state of Gujarat, on orders of the apex court. Can Mr. Modi’s statement be seen as an admission of such incidences of interference?

Last but not the least, can we argue that Mr. Modi did not mean any of these things when he spoke? Then the question arises, whether we want a person who doesn't consider the implications before saying something, as our Prime Minister? How will it impact our polity and our relationship with other countries?

I will be very much concerned if the Prime Minister of my country (current or probable) thinks he, or another political leader, or even a government can influence decisions of the Supreme Court. Is it an indication of what to expect, if and when Mr. Modi becomes Prime Minister of India?  I leave it the voters of this country, to ponder!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Some Questions to Modi Supporters!

Congress’ Spokesperson Ms. Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) put forth certain questions to the voters who have decided to vote in support of Mr. Narendra Modi. I am using those tweets, with minor modifications, with her permission. I have also added couple of questions from my end.

I agree, if you have already made up your mind these questions does not matter.  I also agree, some of these questions may be applicable to Congress Party, as well. However, I see Mr. Narendra Modi as a clear and bigger threat to the idea of India and, therefore, if your reason to consider supporting him in the coming elections is any one of the following, I request you to reconsider.

1.            So you are a social liberal. How can you then support a party that supports criminalisation of gay sex?  
2.            So you are pro-economic reforms. How can you then support a party which opposes FDI in retail and insurance?
3.            So you are pro-economic reforms. How can you then support a party which stalls GST and opposes market pricing of diesel & LPG?
4.            So you are for targeted subsidies. How can you then support a party which opposes Aadhar and Direct Benefits Transfer?
5.            So you are for India's energy security. How can you then support a party which opposed India-US Nuclear Deal?
6.            So you are against dynastic politics. How can you then support a party which has Raman-Abhishek, Raje-Dushyant, Dhumal-Anurag etc?
7.            So you are against dynastic politics. How can you then support a party which allies with Badals, Thackerays, Paswans, Bishnois etc?
8.            So you abhor criminals in politics. How can you then support a party which leads % list of MPs with criminal records?
9.            So you abhor criminals in politics. How can you then support a party which has 32% candidates with criminal records?
10.          So you are against casteism. How can you then support a party which allies with casteist parties and highlights its PM candidate's caste?
11.          So you detest corruption. How can you then support a party which has Yeddyurappa, Sriramalu and Anurag Thakur as candidates?
12.          So you are for punishing rioters. How can you then support a party which felicitates rioter MLAs and gives them tickets?
13.          So you for no compromises with terror. How can you then support a party which released terrorists in Kandahar?
14.          So you admire Gujarat model. How can you then support a party under which 3610 farmers committed suicide between 2005 and 2012, in Gujarat?
15.          So you believe in decorum in politics. How can you then support a party whose PM candidate calls his opponents Pakistani agents?
16.          So you want an intelligent PM. How can you then support a party whose PM candidate makes gaffes on most basic issues and subjects?
17.          So you want a communicative PM. How can you then support a party whose PM candidate holds no pressers and runs away from interviews?
18.          So you want accountability from political leadership. How can you then support a party whose PM candidate didn't resign after the 2002 Gujarat riots?
19.          So you want to fight corruption in government. How can you support a PM candidate who is perhaps the only current CM to have a person convicted for corruption as a minister in his cabinet?
20.           So you want strong anticorruption steps. How can you support a person who stalled appointment of a Lokayukta for so long and effectively prevented any inquiry into many allegations of corruption raised against his government?
21.          So you want probity from political leaders. How can you support a PM candidate whose government is accused of conducting fake encounters and stalking a young lady?
22.          So you want prosperity to our people through economic growth. How about the Gujarat model that failed to improve the lives of people on all aspects of human development, despite all the tall claims of economic growth?
22.          So you think UPA government was pro-rich. How come most of the richest businessmen in the country are endorsing Modi’s candidature? If UPA allowed them to profit, is it not in their interest that the same UPA government continues?

As Ms. Priyanka rightly pointed out if a person’s answer to the above questions is only a counter question “but what about this party or that party?”, then that person’s choice is not driven by any of these principles. Perhaps, that person may have other not so honorable reasons that s/he would like to admit in public, for supporting the candidature of Mr. Modi.

If you have the best interests of the Nation in your mind and have not yet pondered over these questions, and yet have decided to support Mr. Modi, perhaps you may have fallen victim to the hyped propaganda. If that is the case, you may please reconsider your choice, even now.