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Journalist A. Surya Prakash petitioned the Chief Election Commissioner in March 2009 pointing out that Congress Party's obsession with three members of the Nehru-Gandhi family has meant that even the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi has been virtually forgotten:
Over the last 18 years, on a rough estimate about 450 Central and State Government programmes, projects and national and state level institutions involving public expenditure of hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees have been named after these three individuals-- Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru...
Among the big ticket programmes that have been cleverly named after members of this family by the Union Government to extract unjust electoral mileage is the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (rural electrification programme)... The drinking water mission ... is also named after him and is called the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission. Other schemes, touching millions of people, which bear his name are the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme for Children of Working Mothers; the Rajiv Gandhi Udyami Mitra Yojana ( to promote small enterprises); the Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana and the Rajiv Gandhi Shilpi Swasthya Bima Yojana ( both insurance schemes).
This trend is even more apparent in the states, which have vied with each other to name programmes and schemes after these three members of the Nehru-Gandhi Family whenever the Congress Party was in power. Here is a sample: Rajiv Gandhi Breakfast Scheme, Pondicherry; Rajiv Ratna Awas Yojana, Delhi; Rajiv Arogyasri Health Insurance scheme, Andhra Pradesh; Rajiv Gandhi Computer Literacy Mission, Assam; Rajiv Gandhi Bridges and Roads Infrastructure Development Programme, Haryana; Rajiv Gandhi Vidyarthi Suraksha Yojana, Maharastra; Rajiv Gandhi Tourism Development Mission, Rajasthan
...The most glaring example, which raises a question is regard to free and fair election is the blatant advertisement of the Congress Party on the ambulances that provide emergency medical help all over Andhra Pradesh. These ambulances, which reach every village in the state in quick time, provide efficient integrated emergency services that cover medical emergencies, police and fire. The capital expenditure on each ambulance is Rs 10 lakh to Rs 16 lakhs and the running cost per ambulance is Rs 1.25 lakh per month. All this expenditure is borne out of public funds drawn from the Union and State accounts. Yet, it is made out as if these ambulances are a gift from the Congress Party to the people of the State because every ambulance carries a portrait of Rajiv Gandhi on both sides of the vehicle with the legend “Rajiv Arogyasri”.
HT: TJS George via churumuri
The Mayawati government in UP seems to have used this very complaint to counter the EC notice on statues of elephants and Mayawati.
There is simply no excuse for UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi's vicious words:
“The Dalit women [victims of rape] should throw the money [offered as financial aid by UP government] back at Mayawati’s face and she should be told, 'May you be raped and I too would give you one crore rupees'"
The newsclips showing Ms Mayawati using similar language in the past, such as the above, are no justification or rationalisation. Nor do they mitigate Ms Joshi's totally unacceptable and indefensible choice of words, even though they show this whole fracas for what it is: a highly charged political drama. Ms Mayawati taking umbrage would have carried more credibility and not sounded so rich had she apologised for her words.
But, the violence of Ms Joshi's words wreaks indescribable damage to the very cause she avowedly claims to have been espousing. While the "vendetta violence" unleashed by Ms Mayawati's party is not to be condoned, and, far from being justified, needs to be condemned, the Congress party would carry more conviction if it unequivocally condemned the remarks, dismissed Ms Joshi from her party post and then talked abou the legalities or otherwise of her arrest.
Much has been made of AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi's statement:
“whatever has happened in UP is very unfortunate. The Congress president has expressed her deep pain and anguish over the events that have taken place in UP.”
It is eerily reminiscent of the Varun Gandhi episode to be told,
“In any political organisation, decisions are taken only after considering all aspects of the problem, and not in a hurry. She is in jail right now. Any decision will be taken only hearing her version and explanation. The same thing could have been said without using those words.”
Besides, Ms Joshi has already offered her version:
“My intention was to expose a chief minister who has no sympathy for women... to remind Mayawati that being a woman she should realise that a paltry monetary compensation cannot make up for what a woman loses on account of rape.”
While that sentiment by itself is unexceptionable, and while one would agree with her that a dole of Rs 25,000 to every Dalit rape victim “was quite ironical as the state police chief was spending lakhs on the helicopter ride that he undertakes to hand over that paltry amount to the victim,” she and her supporters would do well to realise, as Ms Mayawati pointed out, the act under which she was giving financial aid to the Dalit rape victims has been enacted by the Centre and it can be nobody's case that it is meant to be a "compensation" for rape.
The policy is adopted by almost all state governments, including those ruled by the Congress, particularly in case of victims from deprived sections who are in dire need of rehabilitation. Apart from their tragedy being used as yet another occasion for politicking, in this case, instead of being offered any practical help, the victims are being further brutalised with the stigma of receiving money, paltry as it is, from the state, and are being exhorted to return it.
Much can be said against Ms Mayawati and her ways, but for now Ms Joshi would serve her and her party's cause better by offering an unequivocal and unconditional apology and not the likes of the following:
"I regret what I said in a fit of anger. If it is being misconstrued, if it's being misinterpreted, it is being taken out of context, then I regret it... I am myself a woman and I should not have spoken these words ... I really apologise."
The top leaders of her party too need to rise above cynical political calculations. Perhaps they are waiting for Ms Joshi to help them find their inner-voice -- and the higher moral ground -- by resigning herself?
Ms Mayawati too needs to ensure that those behind the arson and attack on Ms Joshi's residence are brought to justice. While Ms Joshi's choice of words was particularly unfortunate and have no place in our public discourse, no words can be cited as "provocation" for unleashing anarchy and mayhem.
One would have thought it would be obvious to all, but given what we keep hearing when discussing the seminal dates in our violent history, perhaps it is worth repeating over and over and over again like a mantra that two wrongs do not make a right.
Ms Joshi has been booked under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity between two groups on ground of religion or caste) and 509 (word or gesture aimed at outraging the modesty of a woman) of the IPC, the Scheduled Castes, Tribes (prevention of atrocities) Act, 1989 and Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. While fighting this detention legally and politically, the Congress would do well to send out a message that it stands for decency in public discourse.
In the Indian Express, Vinay Sitapati has some useful advice for Naxalite chief, CPI-Maoist General Secretary Ganapati, who "vows to capture state power by planting the red flag on the red fort":
Mayawati on the other hand, might well capture state power by sticking with the tricolour atop the red fort, but by standing below it on August 15th — and all without ever firing from the barrel of a gun. In her autobiography, My Life of Struggle and the Path of the Bahujan Movement, Mayawati praises the Constitution for empowering “weaker sections”, and suggests its use as a tool to capture power. In between re-reading Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book in the forests of Dandakaranya, Ganapati could perhaps find the time to read Behenji.More here
Jeremy Kahn in the Newsweek:
...unlike Obama, who promised a new politics that would transcend not only race but traditional ideology and corrupt Washington ways, Mayawati has built her power on demagogic class warfare. As her national ambitions have grown, she recently began reaching out to upper-caste voters—but by playing on their fears of the upwardly mobile middle castes, not by appealing to their better, caste-free angels. She has accumulated a suspiciously ostentatious fortune, and is dogged by corruption charges. She is admired by many Dalits, but often more for her power and jewels than for her limited accomplishments on their behalf. Her victory, if it comes, may be seen as a great leap forward for India's oppressed—but, ironically, will end up bolstering the caste system that has kept them in chains.Mayawati would likely be a highly divisive national leader—an anti-Obama—and not only domestically.
Mukul Kesavan in the Telegraph:
If someone were to say that Mayawati would be a dreadful prime minister because she’s tyrannical in a paranoid, thin-skinned, temperamental way, I would assume (I think reasonably) that the comment was gendered. Think of contemporaries of Mayawati like Mamata Banerjee or Jayalalithaa or Uma Bharti — every woman in Indian politics who chooses to lead a political party without being beholden to a male patron is typecast as difficult, irrational and unpredictable.
This is not to say that they aren’t all of these bad things: it is simply to point out that a) their male counterparts don’t excite the same sort of criticism and comment, and b) to remind ourselves of how difficult it is to be a female political leader in a systematically male world
Read the full article: Virago in Diamonds
In the Indian Express, Kanchan Chandra on what a Mayawati prime-ministership would be like:
Those who have limited access to education are also those who are least likely to be competitive in this economy. The population with restricted access to education consists disproportionately of caste and religious minorities — exactly the constituency that the BSP aims to speak for.
Surely, a prime minister who is a champion of minority groups should be a prime minister who champions education. There is little in the BSP’s history, and in the history of Mayawati’s own initiatives, to suggest that she will be that prime minister.
Read the full article: If Maywati is PM
Vir Sanghvi says he would. And explains why:
It is no secret that I harbour grave misgivings about the BJP and the next generation of its leadership. But I have to say that I would rather take L.K. Advani and five years of BJP rule over this motley collection of power-hungry regional leaders.
There are many things wrong with the Third Front but here’s the one that worries me the most: these people have no unifying ideology, they have no vision of India, and in many cases, they don’t even have a sense of India outside of their own states. How in God’s name, are they going to steer the country out of this economic crisis? How will they give future generations the direction they deserve?