NDA=UPA+a Cow: Opposition Needs to Unite Against the BJP
NEW DELHI: It is not just about a “Congress-mukt Bharat”, it's actually an “opposition-mukt Bharat”. The way they have been going after the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi , you would hardly find any parallel. You know we are a very new party. The party itself has come out after a movement of resistance, so I relate to it because all my life I've followed a journalism of resistance.
I remember when the Arunachal Pradesh episode first began. We discussed it amongst ourselves internally in the party and we all felt that this won't stop with Arunachal Pradesh -- what we have been experiencing in the last one year. Unfortunately, except for JD(U) and Mamata Banerjee on occasion, no other party actually spoke against what was happening in Delhi . We said look, whatever the Congress may have done, we should speak up about what is happening in Arunachal and the Chief Minister decided to make it the theme of his speech on Republic Day.
I also rang up a couple of friends in the Congress party, because of the massive work that I have done on Gujarat and PM Modi -- so I have some friends in the Congress party who have common concerns. So I rang them up and said that look, tomorrow the Chief Minister is going to speak at length in his Republic Day speech about what is happening in Arunachal Pradesh and we are with you and we are going to speak against this. And the next day the Congress did take a delegation to the President and they cited four or five instances in the press conference, after meeting the President, about how the Modi regime has been striking against the very roots of federalism and constitutional democracy and so on.
But, they didn't mention Delhi. So there was no reciprocity about what we did. And for the last one year every time the Lt Governor has interfered in the affairs of the Delhi government, the Congress party from the sidelines has actually cheered on the LG, that whatever is happening is quite good.
But, I won't restrict this entire discussion to BJP vs. Congress or Congress vs. AAP and so on. The politics of resistance is far greater than the electoral politics of resistance. I can say it categorically because I was as a journalist, an eyewitness for the 10 years of UPA -- things were not very different. I can cite four or five instances and produce the evidence how things were not very different. Now, let's talk about this whole discussion of how these intelligence agencies and the investigating agencies have been biased, prejudiced, against the minorities. There was always an automatic assumption that every time there was a blast, there has to be some Muslim organisation involved. You can't find anybody, put some senior guys behind the bars and the blast case is solved. Congress was the biggest culprit of it.
It began with Malegaon in 2006. Who was in power in Maharashtra- Congress. Who was in power at the centre - Congress. What happened in Malegaon when the blast happened in 2006, all the journalists, all the civil society activists kept saying that blasts have happened in homes of Muslims, blasts happened to kill Muslims, blasts have been intentionally done on the day of Shab-e-Baraat so that only Muslims would die. And the ATS chief was saying that the Muslims have done the blast giving a theory that Hindu-Muslim riot was planned by them. There are fifty other ways too for inciting Hindu-Muslim riots. Why would Muslims kill Muslims themselves -- if they are so radical?
The day the case was supposed to be transferred to CBI, on the day itself an announcement was made by RR Patil, then Home Minister of Maharashtra, that" I am transferring the case to the CBI on the floor of the Maharashtra Assembly at 5 PM" , and 4PM the ATS Maharashtra goes and files a chargesheet against the nine muslim youth. So, the deal is done. You can take your bloody case to the CBI, we have put them behind bars.
That's instance number one, let's see the cases one year later in 2007, when blasts happened in Ajmer and then in Hyderabad near Mecca Masjid. Both of these places were having a Congress government and in the centre also, there was a Congress government. More than a dozen Muslim youth were picked up, they were tortured, they were given third degree treatment and when one case came to the CBI -- and the CBI somehow was not playing the ball -- they put them in false cases. They spent a good part of their life, at least three-four years, in jail. Four years later a state human rights commission report prepared by some very competent lawyers from the state of Andhra Pradesh -- they came out with the report and they said that this report has been written by tears of those innocent Muslims. The report was so painful. So who was behind it all---it was the Congress party. That's one part of it.
Now let's go on about the struggle of the farmers, to get equitable compensation, to get a fair deal from governments. The whole resistance against forcible acquisition, from Chhattisgarh -- though for 15 years there has been BJP government but in other parts, and wherever the Congress was in opposition -- the Congress never actually stood up for the rise of the farmers. So, the entire struggle of the farmers for 10 years under the UPA regime was of, almost of the same nature what we are seeing today. Though towards the fag end of the UPA regime, you got the land acquisition act. But for nine years what happened under UPA was in state after state, in region after region farmers were deprived of their livelihood, land was taken against their wishes; they were given just peanuts. While the likes of the Ambanis and the others, they walked away with big SEZs.
Who brought forth the SEZ policy? Do you all know who was the Prime Minister at that point of time? What happened under the SEZ policy? All what was happening under the SEZ policy initially when it first came in, I remember it was in 2006, was land grab. In Haryana, we saw land grab, in Maharashtra, we saw land grab, in the name of SEZ, everywhere land grabbing was happening and who was at the receiving end of this -- the farmers were at the receiving end of it.
So when recently, Arun Shourie said that Modi government is UPA plus a cow, I think, he was not off the mark, he was actually right. If you look at any of the economic policies of this government today, what they are saying UPA used to say. When they wanted to bring GST, then BJP opposed it and now when the BJP wants to bring it, Congress says we are against it. Most of the economic policies, FDI in retail, then Congress wanted to bring, now BJP wants to bring it, and Congress opposes it. “Make in India”... all these things, I think they have been just the reincarnation of most of what was happening under UPA. An economist may be better equipped to deal with all these policies. But I don't see any difference between the policies of the UPA and the NDA in economic realms.
Take institutional integrity. NIA, for the first time I have been told by senior police officers that you have an investigating agency which is headed by an officer who is retired but is on extension, on a contract for one year. The Police Act doesn't allow that, the IPS Service Rules I've been told do not allow that, you cannot be in any executive rule once you are retired as a police officer; you cannot supervise or monitor any police investigation once you are retired. But the premier investigating agency of the country is being headed by a person who is retired and is on contract. What is happening in NIA- they have taken a contract. The contract is that every big RSS leader will be let off the hook, evidence will be weakened, witnesses will be turned hostile and somehow we will ensure that the top grass of the RSS gets off the hook.
What happened in the 1984 riot cases- something similar used to happen, this is how CBI was used, this is how the police machinery was used to ensure that justice was subverted. This is exactly what happened in Gujarat; the whole system was in cohoots with the accused and they were subverting the criminal justice system.
So, the educational institutions -- may be they are more brazen today, when they want to take away the minority status of Aligarh University or, of the Jamia Milia and when they appoint people of their choice who are not competent at FTII. Yes, this government is far more brazen and one of the reasons for their brazenness, again is lack of unity in the ranks of the opposition.
We all know that deals happen. Today we get to know that some deal is going on and tomorrow in Rajya Sabha, stand of certain parties get changed. They deal on certain issues, that you don't send CBI after me and we'll get your bills happened, and this happens on a daily basis.
I couldn't agree with you more, when you say that this fight and this movement of resistance has to be carried out primarily by non politicians, by non-political people. This was so even under UPA and this is even more required under NDA. Yes, they have come down like a ton of bricks against civil society. I know, I have many friends, some of them are also advocates, some of them also run NGOs, they have opened FCRI cases. They blackmail them using those FCRI cases, that you don't appear against me in a certain case, that we'll do this, we'll do that. There is an atmosphere of tyranny, and the only way we can defeat these tyrannical forces is if we join hands and come together. Regardless of our immediate political affiliation, whether we are inclined towards Congress, or we are inclined towards JD(U) or against any other party -- I think most of us are against right wing fundamentalism.
We should all join our ranks and on some of these fundamental issues we should not make any compromise and we should not strike any deals. And Congress, I know is in disarray -- the politics of struggle had only led to harm of the UPA. People say that there is a contribution of UPA in bringing Modi, but I think that there was a great contribution of the Anna Aandolan in bringing down the UPA, and the right wing forces always get the benefits of that.
I think civil society is very powerful; the only problem with civil society is that they at times, fail to connect to the masses. The day we start speaking in an idiom which the common man, the masses can relate to, I think there will be a force multiplier. And I think, we need to change our idiom, change our language. The ultimate power in democracy is the power of the common man and we all need to start harnessing that power. It is just a phase, many Modi’s in this country came and went. Eventually, I think the social fabric and basic values of this country are far more stronger than these episodic phases of tyranny and authoritarianism. And eventually, I think the founding values of these countries will prevail.
(This is the text of a presentation made by ASHISH KHETAN at the “Idea of India” conclave on “Two Years Of PM Modi: State Of The Nation.” It has been transcribed by MITHIL KUMAR).