Monday, July 18, 2011

Race Course Road/The Sunday Standard/July 17, 2011

Playing politics over blood and death has become a political pastime. It has acquired such frightening dimensions that politicians see votes in each drop of blood of innocent terror victims. As investigative agencies grope in the dark after Mumbai’s latest round of blasts, politicians are busy blaming each other. While the BJP and the allies slammed the Congress, Digvijaya Singh, the party’s incorrigible motormouth, hinted at the possibility of RSS involvement. The ruling establishment’s secular megaphones were unwilling to even indirectly blame Pakistan. BJP honcho L K Advani was the first national leader to descend on bleeding Mumbai. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh followed, with condolences and promises of strictest possible action. Meanwhile, bureaucrats and intelligence officials were scurrying to collect information for their political masters to use. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan blamed the mobile networks for the horrific 15-minute delay in reaching senior cops. According to credible Mumbaikars, the city police’s top brass were informed of the blasts through non-police sources. It is unbelievable that all communication—cellphones, MTNL, the wireless, satellites phones—were inactive for 15 minutes. Whether the police commissioner, Anti-Terror Squad chief Rakesh Maria and other senior police officers were able to communicate with other between 6.45 pm and 7.15 pm—when three bomb blasts killed 20 and injured over 125 people—remains unknown to the public. The Maharashtra Police have antiquated weapons and infrastructure, but it is scary that its communication network can also be paralysed. While Afzal Guru and Kasab enjoy government hospitality, Mumbaikers seem fated to live with terror. Since 1992, Mumbai has suffered over 50 terror incidents, but the colour of politics over dead bodies hasn’t changed.

Mumbai’s finest just aren’t up to it

Is it mere coincidence that Rakesh Maria, who now heads Maharasthra’s current Anti-Terror squad (ATS), directed police action during 26/11? Maria, Joint Commissioner (Crime), was specially chosen by the then police commissioner Hasan Gafoor to manage the police control room. Barring Ajmal Kasab’s conviction, the Mumbai Police is a flop as a terror hunter. The Ram Pradhan Committee that probed 26/11 passed strictures against the “inefficient control and command system” that failed to follow standard operational procedures. Ignoring these, the state government mysteriously decided to hand over ATS to Maria. His current job is not only to investigate pending cases, but also to track suspected terrorists and bust sleeper terror modules. Home Minister P Chidambaram and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan admit to the absence of actionable intelligence predicting the July 13 blasts. Questions are being asked why the ATS failed to warn the government. A reason for the bombings is this information failure and placing potential terrorists hiding in Maharasthra in preventive custody. The faction-ridden top brass of the Mumbai Police is divided between the NCP and the Congress. Since the home department is with NCP’s R R Patil, it suits the Congress to pass the buck and save its pet officers who serve its interests.

Maneka-Varun eclipsed in UP

While Rahul Gandhi is roaming and roaring in Uttar Pradesh, the other Gandhi and his mother have slipped into mourning. Both Maneka and Varun Gandhi won elections with huge margins from Uttar Pradesh on BJP tickets. While the state is heading for the mother of all Assembly polls, mom and son are are conspicuously absent from all agitational politics, letting Rahul grab the headlines. Varun is a party secretary, and his mother an important member of the National Executive. They have a massive following in certain parts of the state. Varun was even in charge of Assam, which went to the polls recently. Following his decision to marry during the elections, he was denied much of a role. Since then, the BJP hasn’t given its Gandhis the importance they expect, or deserve. Varun hoped he would be projected as the party’s future leader in Uttar Pradesh. Maneka had chosen to withdraw from active politics for Varun’s sake. She has spoken little on any political subject at party forums and other platforms. She is, more or less, being kept out of the state Assembly elections. With Uma Bharti’s re-induction and Rajnath Singh’s appointment as BJP in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, the saffron Gandhis are likely to be ignored. Party insiders are convinced that Varun is hugely popular among the youth and hardcore Hindutva forces in the state who feel that only Varun can neutralise Rahul. The BJP’s central leadership, however, wants him to wait and mature. Since he is also the Sangh Parivar’s darling, the BJP may wait till after the Assembly polls and launch him as its mascot against his cousin in the 2014 general elections. For now, Uttar Pradesh will not see much of Gandhi vs Gandhi.

The Big Brother boycott tactics

The Congress leadership has decided to firmly take on all “unfriendly media”. After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remark that the media is now playing the role of “an accuser, prosecutor and judge”, instructions have gone to all spokespersons and senior ministers to boycott TV channels which take an extreme view against the Government. The Congress high command feels that some of them behave like political adversaries and never lets the Government’s point of view to be projected. It’s clear that the Congress is taking advantage of media proliferation. The party’s motto—ignore some, promote some

No comments: