THE REAL CULPRIT
Witness to an unending parade of crises, ordinary people can be excused if they begin to wonder whether the government is really working, or, if it exists at all. At least in Haryana last week the government seemed to have completely vanished even as groups of drunken louts vandalised large parts of the state. Blood curdles at the horrific things they are alleged to have done to poor women and children who happened to be transiting through the state.
Conscience of our parliamentarians felt no pain as the Jats ran riot and wreaked havoc on all and sundry. Aping the three monkeys in the famous fable, our netas pretended not to have seen or heard anything and, therefore, did not feel the need to do anything. This is the surest way to erode whatever little faith people might still have in the system, nay, democracy.
No, we do not intend to dwell any longer on the sheer inhumanity of the marauding mobs, especially towards hapless women unfortunate to have been trapped in vehicles in Murthal on the National Highway. Suffice it to say the stunning silence of Rahul Gandhi’s Congress and the ruling BJP says it all. Because the former played the chief provocateur, while the latter’s paralysis allowed the Jats to rape, plunder and pillage at will. Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda enacted a charade, sitting on fast, while his trusted aide fuelled the mayhem, taunting fellow caste men to spread the fires further afield.
A word about Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. They call him the Manmohan Singh of Haryana because he is personally squeaky clean. But, as Singh’s ten years in PMO showed, honesty is a poor recompense for a complete lack of administrative and political leadership. Support of the central leadership might have got the first ever Punjabi to get that plum post, but success as Chief Minister would depend on his own intrinsic worth. Unfortunately, thus far Khhatar has provided no indication that he can grow into a good and strong administrator. People in Haryana expect better from the BJP. Ignoring his many failings, Haryanvis still fondly remember Bansi Lal as a strong Chief Minister.
Meanwhile, no one need be surprised that the Congress was the real culprit behind the Jat goondaism in Haryana. There is plenty of evidence to prove that the party does everything in its power to destabilise non-Congress governments, be it the transformation of an unknown Bhindranwale into a monster or the plane hijackings during the time of the first non-Congress regime at the Centre. Or, now, providing moral and political support to those seeking the vivisection of India into many parts.
The Congress knows only one dharma—dharma of power. Since the Family decides what the party does, the Congress is always ready to betray national interest if that can get it back into power.
Witness how they have returned to the disruption mode in Parliament. Need we say more?
ANOTHER EDUCATED HOAX
We have always found P. Chidambaram a bit of a hoax, a great hypocrite, in fact. As the man who first came up with a draconian legislation to put clamps on the media back in the mid-1980s, Chidambaram speaking eloquently about press freedom and civil liberties sounds unreal. He may have the lawyerly skill to dress up his case but his track record invariably betrays him.
He now wants you to believe that he had fervently wanted to withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Kashmir. But you did not lift your little finger, Sir, as a senior member of the government for ten long years, did you? Why rake it up now? Because you want to create trouble for the successor regime, that is why?
His latest, of course, takes the cake. He claims that the hanging of Afzal Guru might have been a case of miscarriage of justice. That is an affront to both common sense and national interest. As a leading lawyer and a former Home Minister of the country, who had first rejected the clemency plea of Guru, it does not lie in the mouth of Chidambaram to say that his hanging was unjust and uncalled for. We thought he was an intelligent man who would know better than to completely delete his own record from memory while penning those weekly columns which bear no relation to his time in government.
Public memory is not so fickle that it would allow a leading light of the old regime to make bogus claims every other day. His remarks about Afzal Guru were particularly odious and must be condemned by all sensible people.
Indeed, it is hard to believe that such an intelligent man would be such a hypocrite and, besides, invariably fail to keep his close family members away from the whiff of one scandal or the other.
THE CASE OF THE ‘MISSING’ MPS
Yet another session of Parliament is underway but two prominent MPs are hard to find. Congress veteran Kamal Nath, who has held the Chhindwara seat in Madhya Pradesh without a break since the time he first won it way back in 1977, has not been seen much in this Lok Sabha. Whether he is busy putting to good use the millions he has made is hard to say, but stories about his rule-bending as a minister are dime a dozen in the political circles.
Whether the reason for Nath’s absence lay in his unhappiness with the new party boss, who wouldn’t recognise his seniority as an MP, or had something to do with the new pecking order in Madhya Pradesh Congress, is also hard to tell. But Nath’s absence from the Lok Sabha no longer goes unnoticed.
On the BJP benches, Vinod Khanna, a gentleman-film star, seems to be giving the Lok Sabha a miss, session after session. He too may have his own reasons for such a long absence from the capital but his electors in Gurdaspur are certainly not amused.
Having won the seat against all odds, Khanna should at least mark himself present in the Central Hall a couple of times each session.
* Following HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s thundering reply to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the JNU-Hyderabad University controversies, the ruling party members haven’t stopped hailing her as their saviour. Several senior ministers and MPs congratulated her on her smashing performance. Indeed, a minister from Bihar told her, “Aap ney sab ko dho diya, Durga Ma.”
* Following the rather steep increase in prices by the canteen in Parliament—which, mind you, still does not fully cover the subsidy component—there is a noticeable drop in the number of people eating in the Central Hall. Since even before the increase, few “netas” used to eat in Parliament, maybe it is the parliamentary staff and journalists who have cut down on using the canteen.