Not many will now remember Mohan Lal Sukhadia. The veteran Congressman was the Chief Minister of Rajasthan for 17 years, beginning 1954. When Indira Gandhi split the Congress in 1969, Sukhadia was all set to throw his lot in with her Syndicate rivals. That is until the backroom managers of Indira Gandhi resorted to blackmail - and neutralised the strongman of the Rajasthan Congress.
What helped Indira Gandhi achieve her objective was the blatant misuse of the intelligence agencies. The Ram Nath Kao-led RAW too bolstered Indira Gandhi’s cause - as the Opposition leaders said at the time the ‘Kashmiri Pandit mafia’ was active behind the scenes on her behalf.
Apparently, it was her Principal Secretary P N Haksar who had word sent to Sukhadia about the Sadri gold case. In 1965, over 240 kilograms of gold was found buried in a haveli in Chhotti Sadri in the Mewar region. Suspicion was that a good part of the treasure belonged to Sukhadia. The matter was still under dispute in courts when Indira Gandhi’s operatives used the Sadri threat to tame Sukhadia.
Once the Syndicate was vanquished, the story goes Haksar felt anguished at the continuing misuse of intelligence agencies, income tax authorities, etc.. Little did he realise when he sanctioned Sukhadia’s capitulation that his own bitter medicine would be administered to him as well - the Haksar family-owned Pandit Brothers outlet of the then popular Bombay Dyeing in Connaught Place was raided on Sanjay Gandhi’s orders. Apparently, the heir apparent had taken an intense dislike to the intellectually-minded family retainer.
Now, return to circa 2017. Having poisoned the political system, ridding it of all concerns about scruples and propriety, the Congress cannot complain about what is happening to it. What is happening to it in Bengaluru, in Gandhinagar is that it is being paid back in its own coin. Only the naïve will believe that the raids on the money-collecting Karnataka minister have nothing to do with the Rajya Sabha poll from Gujarat, scheduled for August 8.
Or that the high-voltage action is not meant to thwart the bid of Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel for yet another RS term. Ahmad is a resourceful man with friends across the political spectrum. Importantly, he enjoys the trust of a corporate biggie whose phenomenal reach can accomplish the un-accomplishable. Yet, even Ahmed will find it hard to counter the charge that for ten years under the UPA he choreographed every move by the central agencies to target the Modi-Shah duo. Shah in particular had to spend time in prison, was exiled out of Gujarat, and in general had a very, very harrowing time all through the UPA decade.
For sure, no one in his right mind would condone the abuse of coercive instruments of the State to intimidate citizens. But the dramatic events attendant upon the August 8th RS poll are foregrounded in the travails and troubles of the Modi-Shah duo in the UPA decade. Not a stone was spared to cow them down. It is to their credit that not only did they survive the ordeal but lived to thrash their tormentors and then shout the old and reliable truth: As you sow, so shall you reap. Meanwhile, should Ahmed still win, his stock is certain to rise in a party which has been starved of good news for a long time.
Law and order: Yogi seems to be clueless
It is early days yet but news from UP cannot be music to the ears of those who chose to put the saffron-clad Yogi Adityanath in the chief ministerial ‘gaddi’. Poor man, it seems, is out of his depth getting a grip on the administration. It may be so because running a State is quite different from running a ‘math’. And UP, mind you, is no ordinary state. So unwieldy and so populous, so poor and so backward is UP that it can test the talents and the resolve of the most experienced of administrators.
And our dear Yogi Maharaj, you know, is supposed to begin learning the A, B, C of governance on the job, not having headed even a small municipality thus far. Given the mess in which the police and civil services were thanks to the sway of one caste and one family on UP till very recently, it requires a thoroughly clued-up chief executive to set things right. Granted, years of abuse and misrule cannot be undone overnight.
But early signs are far from encouraging. This is also the impression of a number of BJP leaders from the State. The BJP leaders were not very enthusiastic when the Yogi showed up in the Central Hall of Parliament the other day. Hardly anyone from the ruling party rushed to greet him. Apparently, he was here to meet the Prime Minister and other senior ministers. Some ruling party members believed that he had been summoned by the PM to be administered a gentle but firm warning to get his act together.
It is undeniable that Yogi means well, but he is hamstrung by his own lack of experience, especially when confronted by entrenchedvested interests all around. Of course, members of the police force and the lower administrative ranks who had thrived under the Yadav Raj could be relied upon to make things difficult for the new government but the onus to overcome these inbuilt obstacles was on the Yogi and his ministers. No purpose can be served by blaming the previous regime for the continuing mess in the police and civil administration.
Of course, there are those who argue that there has already been an incremental improvement on the law and order front. But the change is yet not felt by the ordinary people. BJP Chief Amit Shah is said to be personally monitoring the UP situation. On his recent visit to Lucknow he is said to have done a bit of plain-speaking, putting the ministers on notice about the urgency to rid UP of the trademark rotten and corrupt governance.
For sure, the well-entrenched crooks and criminals, who had had a field day under the Yadav and Mayawati regimes, would try and fight back, making things difficult for the BJP. But the onus is on the new rulers to neutralise these elements so that there is a palpable improvement in the law and order situation and the same is felt by the ordinary people. Unfortunately, of this there is not much evidence as yet. UP still cries for an end to the lawlessness that was the leitmotif of the Yadav Raj till very recently.
Whither secular pretence
A circular issued by the administration of Daman and Diu has enjoined upon all government servants to “ celebrate the festival of Raksha Bandhan on 7th August 2017 in all offices/departments which shall remain open and celebrate the festival collectively at a suitable time wherein all the lady staff shall tie Rakhis to their colleagues.” Issued by Deputy Secretary Gurpreet Singh of the Department of Personnel on August 1, the circular further adds that “ attendance report should be furnished by 5.00 pm on 8th August.”
(Virendra Kapoor is a senior journalist and columnist. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect that of Asianet Newsable.)