Amba Charan Vashishth
It is said that when a person turns bankrupt of arguments and logic, he comes to blows. That exactly looks true in the present electoral situation. During the last UP assembly elections, the environment looked almost the same as it is present. It was the Congress leaders who were in vociferous defiance of the Election Commission (EC). And who gained? At least not those who were the most vocal.
Union Minister Salman Khurshid who was in his defiance best while campaigning for his wife could not escape the ignominy of her being pushed to the fifth position by the electorate. His equally recalcitrant colleague in Manmohan cabinet Beni Persad Verma had no better luck.
More than a decade back, the elections were marred by an orgy of violence. The EC succeeded, to a great measure, in curbing the violence during electioneering and on the polling day. But now it looks the physical violence has been overtaken by the violence of the tongue.
In the past such instances were only few and far between. But now it looks it is the order of the day and elections. Sometimes it was slip of the tongue. But now it has now assumed the proportion of being a desperately deliberate act.
This time the situation has been uglier and more indecent than ever before, even coming within the ambit of violation of criminal and election law.
It first started with the old hand in this dubious game, the External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid calling Modi as Napunsak (impotent). Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi deprecated it saying: “I do not appreciate this kind of comment… the kind of language.” Then came the news of Khurshid venting the ire against the EC and the Supreme Court on the foreign soil of London — a case of a minister who has taken oath to ‘bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution.’ He violates his oath and yet remains a minister under the Constitution.
In this war of attrition and abuse jumps the Congress candidate from Saharanpur (UP) parliamentary constituency, Imran Masood who said chop Modi him into tiny pieces. Later, he refused to tender an apology. A case was registered against him and he was remanded to 14 days” judicial custody. After two days he was granted bail.
It is interesting to contrast the stand of the Congress and other parties as also the EC on the so-called ‘hate speech’ Varun Gandhi is alleged to have given. (He has since been acquitted of the charge.) Note that on the day he spoke, the EC had not announced the election schedule for 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the Model Code of Conduct (MCoC) had not yet come into force. Shri Gandhi had to remain in jail for two-three months. Further, EC immediately took cognizance of the speech and two days before the announcement of the schedule, advised — an unusual and unprecedented action — the BJP not to put up Varun as its candidate from Pilibhit. BJP did not accede because EC was overstepping its steps. But, surprisingly, this time EC remains unmoved by Masood”s crime.
Further, the political parties, including Congress, which wanted Varun Gandhi to be deprived of his right to contest the election for that ‘hate speech’ are silent. Congress, so far, has not been able to dare to withdraw Masood”s candidature obviously for fear of losing Muslim votes. That lays utterly bare the precept and practice of “secularism” by Congress. Congress need to explain whether Masood’s speech smacked of secularism?
The condemnation of such ugly voices by political parties is just a ploy. Had they honestly been against and condemned their act, they would have acted swiftly and cut their umbilical chord with such ignoble sons of which they felt ashamed to be their mother. But it is like haathi ke daant khaane ke aur, dikhaane ke aur. They wish to have the cake and eat it too. They continue to wish to thrive on the illicit earnings of electoral bounty by such acts of brave braying. But people are not fools. They are much wiser than politicians. The latter must not ignore this fact. n?
Congress Communal Secularism
Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey from Lucknow
Anticipating the impending rout at the hustings, UPA Chairperson and Congress president Smt Sonia Gandhi resorted to her final lowly tact of appealing to the Muslims to vote in favour of Congress. Sonia’s meeting with Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari raked up a controversy, and the democratic civil society organisations all over the country took strong exception to it. Politicians hit at Gandhi’s move of meeting the Head cleric of the Jama Masjid ahead of upcoming polls.
Immediately, BJP spokesperson and noted journalist MJ Akbar lashed out at the Congress saying, “You can’t sell votes. This is an insult to politics and democracy, where you seek votes in the name of religion.” Meanwhile, even the former SP leader Shahid Siddiqui, criticised Bukhari saying that he was an opportunist and was not bothered for the welfare of Muslim community. The BJP has now approached the Election Commission to take cognisance of Sonia”s reported appeal to Muslims that they should not let their votes split in Lok Sabha elections.
Sonia made a strong appeal to minorities pitching to help nurture the cause of ‘secularism’ during a meeting with the Muslim delegation led by Delhi”s Jama Masjid Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari recently. Delhi Jama Masjid’s mercurial Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari led a delegation of Muslim Maulanas to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who told them that she joined politics only in order to protect ‘secularism’. Bukhari quoted Sonia Gandhi as saying: “One of the main reasons I entered politics was to safeguard and promote secularism.” Sonia Gandhi however appealed to the Muslim clerics not to divide the Muslim vote and stop the ‘secular vote’ from splitting.
Sonia Gandhi, sources said, also told the delegation of Maulanas that Muslims may be having lots of grievances relating to their welfare schemes, but the secular credentials of Congress cannot be questioned. “Our jurisdiction towards helping Muslims stops at the states where the state governments implement these schemes.”
Syed Ahmed Bukhari has announced support for the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha election. Bukhari”s spokesperson said Sonia Gandhi promised to improve the conditions of Muslims if the UPA comes to power, hence the Shahi Imam decided to support the Congress. “During the meeting, issues like innocent Muslim youths being arrested in terror cases, reservation in education, communal riots and security, implementation of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Misra Commission recommendations and Communal Violence Bill were discussed,” Jama Masjid spokesperson said. The spokesperson said that an endorsement from Bukhari can be a major boost for Congress which faces a stiff opposition in the Narendra Modi-led BJP campaign in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, especially in Uttar Pradesh where a number of seats have sizeable Muslim population.
However, within less than 24 hours after Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with Shahi Imam Bukhari to convince him that the “secular vote” must not split, powerful dissenting voices are coming out. n??