On My Radar: When Kovind met an ex-president

On My Radar: When Kovind met an ex-president

By Man Mohan | 8 July, 2017
Narendra Modi, Ram Nath Kovind, R. Venkataraman,  Aadhaar card, Meira Kumar, Yogi Adityanath, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton
(L-R). Venkataraman & Ram Nath Kovind

WHEN KOVIND MET AN EX-PRESIDENT

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chosen Presidential candidate, Ram Nath Kovind did not know that one day he himself would be a “Mahamahim”, when he met former President R. Venkataraman long ago.

A Karanataka Congress leader, Syed Ashraf (55), recalled this moment while talking to The Sunday Guardian. Ashraf was once the political secretary to the powerful “rebel” party leader V.P. Singh, who later became the Prime Minister. Ashraf parted company with “the Raja of Manda” after witnessing some “shocking things”. Maybe, someday the real story will come out.

Ashraf vividly remembers the day when he met Kovind, who was then the chairman of the Rajya Sabha House Committee. Kovind was a BJP member in the House of Elders for two terms, from 1994 to 2006. He was also the president of the BJP’s Dalit Morcha. Earlier, he had practised as an advocate in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court.

“I telephoned Kovind in the morning that former President R. Venkataraman might have spoken to him about the allotment of an accommodation for the Gandhi Forum in the Vithalbhai Patel House on Rafi Marg,” says Ashraf. Venkataraman, the eighth President of India (July 1987-July 1992), was the Forum’s president and Ashraf its general secretary.

The soft-spoken Kovind asked whether a courtesy call with Venkataraman could be arranged.

“Kovind asked me to come immediately to his South Avenue House. When I reached there, the allotment letter was ready. The Gandhi Forum was allotted Room Number 418 in the Vithalbhai Patel House,” says Ashraf, adding that as he was about to leave after thanking him, the soft-spoken Kovind requested whether a courtesy call with Venkataraman could be arranged. “I said sure, Sir.”

Immediately, Ashraf spoke to Venkataraman about Kovind’s desire to meet him. An evening meeting was fixed on the same day at Venkatraman’s 5, Safdarjung Road bungalow. “Kovind was so thrilled to meet the former President of India that he touched his feet, sought his blessings and profusely thanked him for giving him audience. When Kovind stepped out of the room after discussing various political issues for an hour, he told me that it was a good and satisfying interaction,” Ashraf remembers.

Ashraf recalls that Kovind told him that “One does not meet such great personalities every day, after all he is a former Mahamahim.” As things are expected to go well, Kovind himself will be a Mahamahim in less than a fortnight. Talk about destiny!

AADHAAR WEDDING CARDS IN FUTURE?

The Aadhaar card is the new god for Indians. It may stop your marriage, if you don’t possess this most important personal identity document. Time is not far when a marriage invitation will be made mandatory to carry Aadhaar numbers of the bridegroom, bride and their parents.

A clear glimpse of such a future scenario is available with the Law Commission recently recommending a Central Bill to amend the law for making registration of marriages compulsory, along with births and deaths, and saying that marriage registration should be linked with Aadhaar to prevent fraudulent marriages and denial of subsistence to deserted women. Linking the registration of marriages to Aadhaar would make it possible to achieve the universal tracing of records, points out the Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge B.S. Chauhan, in its 270th report submitted to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

In fact, a popular WhatsApp forward predicts that by 2025 weddings cards will no longer carry the names of the bridegroom, bride and their parents, but ony their Aadhaar numbers.

LOK SABHA TV MADE SIX DOCUMENTARIES ON MEIRA’S FATHER

The Lok Sabha TV had produced six documentaries on the late Dalit icon, Babu Jagjivan Ram. Was it a mere coincidence that it happened only when his daughter Meira Kumar took charge as the Lok Sabha’s first woman Speaker?

A Congress leader, Meira is, at present, the Presidential candidate of the “united Opposition”. With all her clout, Meira has tirelessly promoted her father, Babuji. She has not let go his huge official Type 8 bungalow, 6, Krishna Menon Marg, in the Lutyens’ Zone, out of her control even today. Babuji, who was the Deputy Prime Minister in the Janata government, died in July 1986. Today, the prime government property stands converted into a Babu Jagjivan Ram Smriti against all norms.

During her tenure at the helm of affairs in the Lok Sabha, it is now being claimed by the NDA Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind’s campaigners, based on Right to Information (RTI) replies, that the LSTV made six documentaries on Babu Jagjivan Ram. “The channel did not make more than one documentary on any other legendary personality ever since the channel was set up by her predecessor Somnath Chatterjee,” they point out.

U.P. BUREAUCRACY turns SAFFRON

Whenever a new government comes to power in Lucknow, the bureaucracy behaves like a chameleon. Babus change all “colour schemes” to show unwarranted support to the ruling party’s official colours.

Since the day of BJP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s ascension to the throne, the bureaucracy has gone all out to display the colour saffron at official events and in interior decorations. Officially, there are no such instructions from the Chief Minister, who is a simple man. But the bureaucracy believes that the visibility of saffron must be pleasing him.  The state administration officials, it seems, are being inspired by Yogi’s saffron robes. He has been wearing them all his life. So, wherever he attends a function, the shamianas (tents) turn saffron. The ribbon cutting ceremonies, flower pots, table cloths and mats, towels on car and office seat covers and plastic flowers and binding tapes on seats are all turning saffron. Even flower bouquets are being presented with saffron gift wrappers.

It was not like this earlier. Things started changing when Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati became the state Chief Minister for the first time. Then everything turned blue, the colour of her party flag. During the Samajwadi Party CM Akhilesh Yadav’s regime, it was the turn of red and green to rule the roost, as they represented his party’s flag. Interestingly, no Chief Minister, including the current one, ever issued instructions to display their party colours in their public functions.

Officially, there are no such instructions from the Chief Minister, who is a simple man. But the bureaucracy believes that the visibility of saffron must be pleasing him.  So, wherever he attends a function, the shamianas (tents) turn saffron. The ribbon cutting ceremonies, flower pots, table cloths, towels, plastic flowers are all turning saffron.

“These are gimmicks by the bureaucracy,” says an upright IAS officer, who hates the display of such sycophancy by his colleagues. “Do you think Yogi Adityanath cares for such display all around him?” he asks, pointing out that the CM uses only two rooms in his vast official residence. Yogi has created a fine example for other political rulers, by turning down the proposal
to purchase new super-expensive cars worth several crores of rupees for his convoy. Instead, he has decided to go for a five-year old car purchased by his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav.

TECHNOLOGY IS NEW-AGE VILLAIN IN MARRIAGES

“Forget Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, tell us about what Delhi woman judge Poonam A. Bamba’s book talks about today’s marriage.” This request has come from some valuable readers. In this column on 18 July, we had written that her book recently interested a trusted American-Indian from the Trump camp, who had organised the purchase of a good number of copies of her book as it referred to Hillary in the second chapter dealing with “Abusive Wives.”

So, we spoke to Bamba, district and sessions judge, Patiala House Courts, Delhi, about her interesting book, Temple of Justice: A School of Life. She wrote this book when she was the principal judge in the Family Courts, Saket.

Her book is an eye-opener on how and why the institution of marriage is crumbling and new social values are taking birth. Cutting edge communication technology is fast emerging as “the new-age villain in today’s marriage institution.” Internet, smartphone sex and virtual sex are increasingly forcing the separation of couples.

Bamba says that many married people indulge in virtual sex believing that it does not amount to cheating. But the moment either partner is caught in the act, most such couples end up in divorce pleas.

Demand for “unnatural sex” by men, many of them highly educated and professionals, is also emerging as a frequent reason for their wives to seek the dissolution of their marriage.

“Youngsters are using smartphones to access dirty pictures. School boys and girls are also getting hooked to this dangerous trend,” says Bamba, adding that net addiction and “sexting” are also causing problems.

Her book is in the form of a collection of diary entries inspired by her daily experience in family court rooms.

Bamba has witnessed high drama. Once, the judge recalls, a Muslim woman started crying in the open court room, complaining that her husband had given her the talaq on the staircase outside during lunch break. She was in court to demand maintenance from her husband as he had deserted her.

Then there was a “prince” from an erstwhile royal family of North India, who appeared in her family court on the plea of his estranged wife. He was sitting straight, stiff, as if everyone in the court was his subject. The prince answered a few questions while sitting in his chair in the courtroom, before his lawyer nudged him to stand up and approach the judge’s bench, says Bamba.

The book carries stories of matrimonial violence, abuse and greed. Earlier, divorce used to be the last resort. Now, it is an immediate decision, points out Bamba. “Men fear the demand for heavy maintenance and getting involved in all kinds of civil and criminal cases, thanks to lawyers who insist on making the issue complicated as it is all linked to their fee. Women are also on tenterhooks. It is all due to the rising aggression among the youth because of a hectic career oriented life. The stigma of living together as unmarried couples is fast vanishing. In some cases, marriages are breaking up in less than six months.”

Talking about her cases, Bamba mentions a merchant navy captain, who suspected his wife of being unfaithful. So he installed a spy camera in the bedroom and fixed tracking software in her laptop and mobile phone to read her emails and listen to her calls remotely. He succeeded in getting the “evidence” to get a divorce. Bamba also recalls another fiercely fought divorce case: “When it was all over, and her maintenance demands were settled, she suddenly demanded that her separating spouse should foot the bill for the surgery to remove a tattoo in the shape of his name’s initials as she wouldn’t like her next man to know about it!”

Man Mohan can be contacted at rovingeditor@gmail.com

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