One against five

Ahmed Patel’s election for a fifth term in the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat proves a few things:

First of course, is the neutrality of the Election Commission which finally upheld the objections of the Congress team about two MLAs showing their votes to Amit Shah which was a flagrant violation of the election regulations.

This is a brave act because the EC had to put up with objections from five BJP Ministers, including the minister for Law Ravi Shankar Prasad. That their arguments failed to cut ice with the EC proved once again what well-wishers of Modi have been saying all along. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi may be given the benefit of doubt about his priorities and thrust to take India forward but his team of ministers is definitely incompetent-some minister being first-timers.

That P Chidambaram, former minister for Home and Finance, Ranjit Singh Surjewala and R P N Singh were able to turn the tables on Arun Jaitley, Nirmala Sitaraman and Ravi Shankar Prasad says a lot about calibre.

Chidambaram’s logic was unbeatable. Quoting last year’s election in Haryana where Surjewala’s vote was declared invalid on the same ground, he argued, “The law is very clear. If the ballot is seen by a person other than the authorised person then it is liable to be rejected. BJP was beneficiary of this law on June 11, 2016. How has the law changed in one year?”

After this logic, one must admit, the BJP stalwarts had already conceded defeat even though they kept on harping on just one ground “why did the Congress not object while the election was on.?”

Another point that this election highlighted, if there was need for it , is that the Modi-Shah pair may come from the land of Gandhi (I mean Mahatma Gandhi) but for them means justify the ends and for this they could get meaner than anyone can imagine.

That the National Congress Party (NCP) has already started reminding the Congress about the great favour they have done to the party is no surprise. In an election where the BJP tried every dirty trick available Sam, Dam, Dand and Bhed as they say in Hindi, encouraging former chief minister Shankar Singh Vaghela to break the party , buying six MLAs of the Congress, income-tax raids on the Minister from Karnataka who was in Bengaluru at that time but the last minute googly by the NCP saved the most loyal follower of Sonia Gandhi from dying in political ignominy.

But come to think of it what really tilted the balance was the greed of the two MLAs who displayed their votes to Amit Shah to prove that they had obeyed his dictat.

What goes without saying now is that the new Shah of Gujarat would, like the Chatur Baniya Mahatma Gandhi, reward those who fell for the bait he offered.

For the Congress too, the deal is not unconditional. The NCP which backed Ahmed Patel by casting its vote for him, in fact the decider, has already reminded the party that it would take its pound of flesh when the time came.

Mamata the lone street-fighter

Whatever the faults of Mamata Banerjee, her excesses (arresting those mocking her on facebook included, her callous attitude towards the cases of molestation included) she does carry that revolutionary streak that had catapulted her to dizzying heights after she defeated the well-entrenched CPM led government form West Bengal.

Those of us who had seen her agitating on the streets of Delhi, wearing her trade-mark slippers cannot forget her fierce fighting spirit which she continues to hold even today, whatever her party affiliations.

The way she utilised the anniversary of ‘Quit India’ on August 9 to give a clarion call for what she called ‘BJP Quit India in 2019’ must be the lone voice of an adversary of the ruling BJP who is still capable of catching votes.

She has called for a united opposition before the elections in 2019 to put in a tough fight against the Modi-Shah combine which appears invincible as of now in its victory march in state after state. In states where they have won elections they are crowing but they have managed to capture those also where they had lost by open horse-trading.

Lalu Prasad Yadav was another doughy fighter but after Nitish left him to form a government in Bihar with the BJP may not help the image of Nitish but it certainly left this eternal foe of the BJP in doldrums. Coupled with income- tax raids and sundry other raids on his family members the image of Lalu is at its nadir which it had not reached even after the fodder scam.

The way Lalu has started digging out old cases against his ally for two years Nitish Kumar and the language he is using gives out his frustration for all to see.

Talking of Quit India it was refreshing to hear Sonia Gandhi take on the NDA government head-on in her speech in parliament. She had not been keeping well for some time, giving rise to all kinds of speculations but her fire and brim-stone speech addressing a disinterested Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed that she had not lost her fire.

Even those who hated late Indira Gandhi when she was alive are not tired of saying that it was her fighting spirit and instant connect with people that was missing in the Congress and Rahul (projected to replace Sonia because of her deteriorating health) was not the person who could be put in that position in adverse circumstances.

Yet another street-fighter is Arvind Kejriwal who always took on Narendra Modi and no less, in his political discourse. But continuous raids and even arrests of his party MLAs in Delhi and talk of corruption especially after one of his ministers became a loose cannon, seem to have silenced this new kid on the block, as they say.

A very large section of people which is not exactly enamoured by the slogans or the electoral victories of Modi, and the number is growing every day, wish that Mamata could indeed create such a platform.

But this burden rests entirely with the Uttar Pradesh leaders Mulayam, Akhilesh and Mayawati. Will they come together on a single platform? Looks very unlikely,unfortunately. Nitish Kumar, who was being assiduously being built up as an alternative to Modi, has of course ditched his own supporters in the country.

Fight for credit in Chandigarh

Now that Arnika’s stalker Vikas Barala and his friend Ashish have been arrested by the police under heavy public pressure, there will be many who will try to take credit for this.

First of course is Tejinder Luthra, the DGP a known figure in Delhi Police who now says there never was any political pressure to dilute the case of attempt to abduct and kidnap. It was just that the CCTV footage of the incident was not available. And people believed him that CCTVs put up by the Traffic Police were not working.

Had it not been for the upfront Arnika Kundu and her equally strong father who came on TV channels to describe the horrific chase and her escape because the police reached on time, there was hardly any chance of the high-profile boys being arrested on those charges.

The father being an IAS himself is not very enthused as yet. Because ultimately what matters is whether they would get justice as the case could drag on for years.

Meanwhile, the list of political leaders seeking credit for getting the case registered is getting longer. It starts with Kirron Kher MP from Chandigarh, who on the first day itself was interviewed by TV anchors and came out strongly against diluting the case and said that she would not allow this.

Whether she spoke to the DGP or not is not known because Tejinder Singh himself is quite clear that this was his own initiative and he was just waiting for the evidence of CCTV cameras.

But before anyone could take credit for this Dr.Subramanian Swamy has gone boom-boom on Twitter that the case was registered because he was preparing to file a case in court. He even mocks the leftist women that they had gone into hiding whereas he had taken the initiative to fight it out.

However what came out as a total surprise for outsiders was a program of NDTV where they interviewed students in the Chandigarh University.

A majority of them said that it was a wrong notion that Chandigarh was safe for women. They remember the case of Ruchika the young tennis player who had to commit suicide because her family was tortured for years for complaining against molestation.

One student went on to state that not many cases were reported from Chandigarh because the people here were very influential!