Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Immorality Writ Large in Politics and Public Life

SC, EC take a call; Masses Drowned Deep in Illusionary Mode
Syyed Mansoor Agha
Only two days after our Prime Minister Narendra Modi enumerated ‘success stories’ of his government in his Independence Day speech and quoted questionable data to impress upon the public, the honorable Supreme Court passed oral strictures on re-appointment of tainted officers by the state government of BJP in Gujarat, a legacy of Mr. NaMo. On the same day Hon. Election Commissioner O P Rawat spoke out against the “creeping new normal of political morality”.  Since 2002, hundreds articles and several books have documented injecting and infusing illegality and immorality systematically in the public life, the Police and State Administration as well as in the politics. I need not to name the master mind behind the application of strategies advised by Chanakya and narrated in various episodes of epic Mahabharata.  
Mr. Rawat said, “Democracy thrives when elections are free, fair and transparent. However, it appears to a cynical common man that we have been scripting a narrative that places maximum premium on winning at all costs — to the exclusion of ethical considerations.” His observation came on 17th August, in his keynote address delivered at the ‘Consultation on Electoral and Political Reforms’ organised by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).
He said so just after 10 days of RS elections from Gujarat where ruling party aimed to snatch a seat beyond her quota. Mr. Rawat indicated the episode enacted by the ruling party in the State and said, “In this narrative, poaching of legislators is extolled as smart political management; strategic introduction of money for allurement, tough-minded use of state machinery for intimidation etc. are all commended as resourcefulness.”
 “The winner can commit no sin; a defector crossing over to the ruling camp stands cleansed of all the guilt as also possible criminality. It is this creeping ‘new normal’ of political morality that should be the target for exemplary action by all political parties, politicians, media, civil society organisations, constitutional authorities and all those having faith in democratic polity for better election, a better tomorrow,” he added.
Ritika Chopra commented (Election Commissioner speaks out: ‘Winning at all cost, without ethics, is new normal in politics’ IE 18 August) “Rawat’s remarks are significant against the backdrop of the political storm that raged at the time of Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat. Congress lost six MLAs in the state to BJP ahead of the August 8 elections, leaving its candidate Ahmed Patel with very little leeway in the final count. The Congress then herded its remaining 44 legislators to a luxury resort in Karnataka to prevent any further defections. Within days, the Income Tax department searched 60 premises linked to Karnataka Energy Minister D K Shivakumar who was overseeing the stay of these MLAs. Questioning the timing of the raid, the Congress accused BJP of misusing its resources and sought the Election Commission’s protection.”
The whole narrative is speaking of wide spread immorality in the public life. The representatives of the people are purchasable and their integrity to the party and electorate is not trustworthy. You can allure the whole heard with a leader, as happened in Haryana in 1980 when a CM switched his loyalty with all 40 MLAs and he was welcomed with open hands by the party he fought against. He was retained in his post dumping the call of conscience and morality. But then it was a rare case, now it has become common. Recently at least three former C. M. all from Congress have changed their party. (N.D. Tiwari, SMKirhsna and Mr. Vijaya Bahuguna). Same happened in Mizoram. Case of Mr. Rita Bahuguna may also be cited. She was till recently Chief of Congress party in UP and was in direct fight with “communal forces”. But joined the same party before the elections and swallowed the sour pill to become a Minister in under Yogi.
Greatly alarming aspect of this tendency is that the voters do not care to take cognizance of the grave immorality and do not hesitate to vote and elect the turn coats. The acceptance of immoral acts is the death of public conscience. The root cause of corruption also lies in this lethargic leaning. Corrupt practices become ‘wisdom’ for even little favors or some gain.
Corrupt administrative practices
The morality levels in administrative practices have also dived down.  Some glaring examples came under focus from Gujarat. The State Government awarded post-retirement postings to the tainted IPS Officers. Two cases of such postings were challenged in the court. The officers in question were jailed and charge-sheeted for “fake encounters” happened during Mr. Modi’s tenure as C.M. They had to put their papers (18 August) after the SC took a stern stand on the improper postings.
A bench of Hon. Justice J S Khehar, CJ and Justice D Y Chandrachud questioned the Gujarat government’s decision to re-induct IPS officer N K Amin as S.P. of Tapi, and Tarun Barot, as DSP, Western Railways in Vadodara, following their release from custody. Mr. Amin and Mr. Barot were arrested; charge-sheeted and jailed in ‘fake-encounter’ and other criminal cases. Mr. Amin spent eight years in jail, faced trial in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Ishrat Jahan fake encounter cases, while Barot was accused in the Sadiq Jamal and Ishrat Jahan cases. It is believed that a series of encounters was carried out under the eye of high authorities for political ends and to win the elections on Hindutva plank. Many police officers, who did not fall in line were punished and who acted favorably without caring ethics of their official duty, were rewarded by promoting out of turn and giving lucrative postings and post-retirement extensions as extensively documented by Mr. R B Sreekumar, former DGP of Gujarat in his book “Gujarat Behind the Curtain”.  
Mr. Amin’s affidavit in SC has evidence to Mr. Sreekumar’s observations. It said, “There are several other police officers who were allegedly involved in aforesaid cases of alleged fake encounters. Out of several officers against whom allegations of false counter (sic) have been made, most of them enjoy the privilege of being in service of state.”
Amin listed the names of former Gujarat police chief (in-charge) PP Pandey, who was also forced to resign following a petition in the apex court in April this year, G L Singhal, Vipul Agarwal, current police chief (in-charge) DGP Geetha Johri, Raj Kumar Pandian, Abhay Chudasama among others. Amin also named three Intelligence Bureau officers who are “still working even though, they are accused in the charge-sheet (in the Ishrat Jahan case)”. Amin’s affidavit stressed that the roles of officers who were still serving “are greater than him” and “some of them are continuing to hold the posts, despite their alleged role in the case”.
Mr. Barot mentioned in his affidavit that he received “445 prizes and medals … and in 2003 he got presidential award for meritorious service”. This mention shows how the then State Government has been generous in honoring such officers. When encountered by a National Daily with his dreaded acts, Mr. Barot said “I did everything in the interest of the nation.”
While hearing the petition filed by Mr. Rahul Sharma, a straight forward retired IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, the court directed the State Government, “either you take a call by tomorrow or we will deal with the issue. There were two serious allegations against Amin. He has been in jail for eight years”. Mr. Amin had been charge sheeted by the CBI in two encounter cases. Mr. Tarun Barot is also a charge-sheeted accused in two different cases of abduction and murder of various persons. He too was arrested in the aforementioned cases and spent close to three years in judicial custody.
As the case against the two was in advance stage, N K Amin tweeted on Independence day: “… the concerns and cares 4 us by Govt is unique in the Indian history. THx MY GOVT.”
 With the tweet he attached an SMS, purportedly sent from ‘MyGov’ on that day, which is quoted as: “… PM Modi salutes your bravery, velour & sacrifices. Thanks you for keeping 125 crore Indians safe.” Amin’s Twitter page has a picture of him shaking hands with Mr. Narendra Modi.
Consider the ‘services of the officer’ that came out on bail after spending about eight years in jail on murder charges. On August 31 last year, the day he was to retire, the state government extended Amin’s service. Same is with Dy SP Tarun Barot who was reposted on contract for one year.
The court also referred to the case of former Gujarat DGP P P Pandey, who was given a promotion and three-month extension despite being out on bail in the Ishrat Jahan case. He had also to go.
Last word

These cases indicate the top of the iceberg of administrative impropriatory and immorality levels, a dreaded web for India, Indians and Indian-ness. As mentioned in the opening lines, the data given by Mr. NaMo in his 15 August speech also has so many holes. I mention only one issue. He mentioned that an additional 56 lac people filed personal income tax returns from April 1 to August 5 in 2017, as compared to 22 lac people in the same period last year. It means a rise of 34 lacs. While the Economic Survey mentioned that around 5 lac 40 thousand new taxpayers were added post-demonetisation. Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian on Friday, 11 August had also said that about 5.4 lakh new tax payers have been added post demonetisation. It is found that information and data given by Mr. Modi in his public speeches is beyond factual and paints a wrong picture. A wise man said, “Morality and authenticity go side by side.” We wish reforms in the country, stared by so many sufi, saints and pious souls.(E)  20 August, 2017

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