WHO WILL BE NEXT PRESIDENT?
In the sanctum of the saffron parivar, a view is emerging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may pick one of his top ministers—Home Minister Rajnath Singh (66), Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley (64), External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (65) or Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari (60)—either for the post of President or Vice-President, for which the elections are due in July and August, respectively.
It is said that Modi may go for this with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. A wise man in the parivar has analysed this possible scenario. The wise man says that Swaraj is not in a good shape of health. Though Jaitley is also not keeping good health, he is a highly trusted man of the PM since long. So, he must be looked after. Only minus point against him is that he had lost his first Lok Sabha poll from Amritsar. Still, Modi adjusted him in the Rajya Sabha.
Gadkari is the youngest of the lot. Age is on his side. And some in the RSS have reportedly told him to wait for the future and till then “karma karte raho”, as the Bhagwad Gita advises. Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu (68)—the master of one-line jokes—who is also not maintaining a perfect health, is on the periphery.
In this entire scenario, this wise man points out that Amit Shah must reach such a level that his “top number” status—in the party and the government—stays protected. He is already number one in the party as the BJP chief and “unofficially”, he is number two in the government. We would soon hear from Modi about his, alias NDA, choice of candidates for the posts of the President and the Vice-President. As far as the numbers game is concerned, be assured that Modi is not worried at all; he goes to sleep with no worry. We would also know how wise our wise man was.
SOUND, LIGHT, ACTION, THE GADKARI WAY
Union Highways and Shipping Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has certainly emerged as the “top asset” in PM Modi’s Cabinet. A little bird sitting in the Prime Minister’s Office tells us that they are keeping a regular track of Gadkari’s projects nearing completion. Encouraged, Gadkari’s ministry is also sharing the minute details of these projects, spread across the country, with the South Block so that PM Modi can choose to inaugurate them as per his convenience. This will add significant value to the Modi government’s “a project a day” plan till the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. As many as 205 highway projects are ready for inauguration before April 2019. The number of highway projects ready for foundation stone laying is 118. About 150 port projects are ready for inauguration and foundation stone laying. The total cost of all the projects under Gadkari’s belt is believed to be Rs 1.8 lakh crore. The PMO seems to be convinced that if “action” is really happening, it is in Gadkari’s ministry, across Parliament House. At the same time, nearly 12 ministers have been identified as a “liability”.
COWS’ MOO SILENCES ARMY GUNS
In the Kashmir Valley, the Army is facing stone-throwers. Surprisingly, in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur area, two American long range artillery guns have been silenced by cows. India signed a Rs 5,000 crore deal for 145 ultra-light guns in December 2016. With a 24-to-40 km range, the M777 Howitzer guns are virtually battling for a firing range for their field trials, since their arrival in Pokhran (known for nuclear bomb trials) on 24 May. Reason: the Jagdamba Seva Samiti (JSS) has protested to the Army, saying that the gun trials could not be conducted on the 45,000 acres of land, which belongs to the Bhadariya Mandir Seva Samiti (BMSS). After the objection, the Army decided to remove a concrete foundation made to place the guns at “Bayanadi Talai” for the trials. “We are not able to understand why the trials were planned in the BMSS area, where 26,000 cattle head are kept for conservation and breeding at a gaushala (cow shelter),” says an office-bearer of the JSS. He points out that the Army has got a firing range from Ramdeora to Mohangarh in Pokhran. The guns’ three-month long trials have been postponed for a month. Incidentally, Bhadariya, a township of 1,500 people, has one of the oldest libraries, with 4,000 seats and over one lakh books.
A ‘SENTIMENTAL’ MESSAGE FROM CANADA HINDUS TO TRUDEAU
Hindus are “rising” everywhere, in India and abroad, thanks to their dynamic and inspiring beacon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On 1 July, a large number of Hindus living in Canada, for the first time, will participate in an important sentimental people’s parade to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation near Toronto. They wish to make it an annual event.
The idea is “to convey a message” to the political leaders that in that country there are 700,000 peace-loving Hindus, who keep a low profile. The parade will take place in the City of Markham, which is in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Although the capital of Canada is Ottawa, a majority of Indians, including Hindus, live and work in the GTA.
When contacted by The Sunday Guardian, Yash Kapur, the parade’s coordinator, said that “this is just a baby step and Hindus from various temples and organisations in Canada have been invited to join. Since Canada is our adopted homeland, we refrain from using the word Indian, although we are proud to be more Indian than many Indians in India.”
One was intrigued by this distinction.
The mystery was solved after a few telephone calls to Toronto and Vancouver. In October 2015, the Punjabi community in Canada made history when four Canadian Indians, including two turbaned and one clean-shaved Sikhs, were made Cabinet ministers by the second youngest 23rd Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. They included the Lt Colonel Harjit Sajjan (42), who was appointed as Defence Minister. Sajjan recently visited India, but Punjab’s newly elected Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh refused to meet him, describing him as a “Khalistan movement sympathiser”. As many as 18 Punjabis had been elected as Members of the House of Commons (Parliament) of Canada. The number exceeds the figure of those elected from Punjab for the Lok Sabha (13). The 17 Indo-Canadians belong to Trudeau’s Liberal Party. So, the meeting is a subtle message of the “United Hindus of Canada” to Trudeau that he should not ignore them. A brochure says that a Hindu is a Hindu regardless of his country, caste and profession. It lists 21famous Hindus worldwide. They include Swami Vivekananda, Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chaitanya, Sachin Tendulkar, Christopher Isherwood, Sri Ramakrishna, John McLaughlin, Parmahansa Yogananda, Satyajit Ray, Mahatma Gandhi, Ravi Shankar, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Amitabh Bachhan, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Asha Bhosle, A.C. Bhaktivedanta, Lata Mangeshkar, Swami Prabhupada, and Narendrabhai Modi, who figures in the end, but one before the last—Indira Gandhi.
ARE YOU A JAT?
A Lok Sabha member narrated an interesting tale of a recent meeting of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on “offices of profit”. The committee met under the chairmanship of the BJP’s Lok Sabha Member, Dr Satya Pal Singh (62), a former cop. The committee comprises members from both Houses of Parliament. When a senior official from the Ministry of Law and Justice introduced himself, Satya Pal smiled and asked him, “Are you a Jat?”
The official, along with a straight face, mentioned his district in western Uttar Pradesh, but without disclosing his exact native place. He added, “Yes sir, by caste, I am a Jat, but I am here as a Government of India public servant to give my expert opinion on offices of profit.”
With a comforting smile, Satya Pal asked the official, known as a straightforward competent legal brain, to give his “expert opinion”. Satya Pal is known in political circles as a pleasant personality. He had earned the image of being a “giant killer” in the 2014 general elections, when he defeated the tallest Jat leader of western UP, Chaudhary Ajit Singh, son of the late Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh. Satya Pal, perhaps, could not control his excitement of meeting an official at the committee meeting, thinking that he might be from his constituency, which, to his dismay, was not the case.
As an Indian Police Service officer from the Maharashtra cadre, Satya Pal had resigned from the prestigious post of Mumbai Police Commissioner to jump into politics. He had earlier served as commissioner in Nagpur and Pune, and also in the Central Bureau of Investigation in Delhi. His IPS colleges were baffled about how he had managed to get the ticket from the saffron party.
Besides being a highly decorated cop, Satya Pal has an impressive academic background: MSc, MPhil (Chemistry); MA, PhD (Public Administration); MBA (Strategic Management). He has been educated at Meerut, Delhi and Wollongong (Australia) Universities.
Maybe, his first book in Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and Urdu (2001) Talaash Insan Kee explains his curiosity about the official’s caste. He has also written on science and spirituality and on tackling Naxalism. Currently, he is working on four books: Encounters with Politicians: Before Joining Politics; The Challenges before Indian Police; The Timeless Time; and The Communal Harmony: the Roots We have Ignored.
His special interests include study of comparative religions, culture and history and spiritualism.
Satya Pal is a God-fearing man. You have to look into the context of his personality to analyse the “invitation” that he threw to everyone when the Parliamentary Committee on “Offices of Profit” concluded its meeting, followed by a standard lunch. With a broad smile, he said, “Get rid of your paap (sins) by taking a bath in the Ganga at Garhmukteshwar.” The holy town is not far from his parliamentary constituency, Baghpat. There were no takers, as the acceptance would have amounted to being dubbed as a man with sins and, that too, before an ex-cop.