Monday, June 22, 2009

Who are our brothers’ keepers?

It’s been many years since I’ve lost faith in investigative journalism. What sells for news today, is a representation of politicized, hackneyed, misinformed, manipulated piece of garbage. Sadly, what we end up seeing is only the glam-packaging and the label.

There has been no exception in the context of the recent plight of the hapless people in Lalgarh. Who are these people who have been mercilessly gunned down by the ruling Communist party of West Bengal?

Ans: They are the poorest of poor, living in barren, dry lands of Midnapore which can produce only single harvest each year. Yet, those people have no other means of sustenance than to cultivate these unsuited lands (that they don’t even own) or survive by selling leaves and wood from the forest. For decades our Left, liberal, people’s party (CPIM) was involved in extortion and crime in the areas like this to strip the local people of their basic rights and dignity.

Now, that they have finally voiced their opinion and protested against the vicious political regime, they are suddenly being branded as "ultras" and crushed by bullets from the face of the earth. The locals might have joined forces with the Maoist group but what choice did they have?

Not to forget, CPIM very conveniently used Maoists to crush Trinamool Congress in Keshpur and Trinamool to combat CPIM in Nandigram. Moreover, UPA govt had also been instrumental in bringing Prachanda, the Maoist leader into power in Nepal.

None of the leading media houses or the newspaper publications reported the sorry state of affairs in Lalgarh till CPI-M zonal committee secretary of Lalgarh Anuj Pandey's palatial building was dismantled by the Maoists. It came out in open that almost 40 per cent of the money earmarked for rural development was “looted” by CPI-M functionaries, bureaucrats and contractors. Then all hell broke loose.

And what is media’s take on this? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the mundane attempt to generalize the situation in WB with the rest of India in this editorial of the latest issue of Organiser:
Maoists are enemies of the nation.Crush them.

The recent spurt of Maoist violence in Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal is a matter of great alarm. This violence has taken a heavy toll on the lives and morale of the security forces operating in these areas. With counter-insurgency measures taken by Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh governments inflicting a severe blow on the underground insurgents, they seem to have shifted their concentration to softer terrains where the state administration appears to be addressing this challenge as a simple law and order problem. And the Maoists are stepping up their mindless killings to demoralise and make ineffective the local administration. Although Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has repeatedly said that the Maoist insurgency is the greatest threat before the nation, the centre is yet to put in place a strategy to fight these criminal barbarians who have taken control of large swathes of tribal belt across the country. India’s political establishment does not give the impression that it has fully grasped the danger to the country’s sovereignty and integrity the Maoists are posing. Viswa Rangan, DGP, Chhattisgarh, who has an excellent track record as a thinking police officer, has made an incisive study of the Maoist strategy in India. Intercepting their underground literature, interrogating the arrested top Maoists and studying their intelligence reports, he has come to the conclusion that the ultimate goal of the Maoists is to overthrow the democratically elected government in the country and create anarchy. He says, “The aim of Maoist supporters is simple. Demoralise the state machinery to such an extent that its will to fight the Maoists is completely shattered and the road to Maoist expansion is facilitated.” The Maoists have succeeded in establishing a multi-layered network through their open and clandestine channels to deflect attention from their real motives. There are Gandhians, civil liberty operators, media personalities, writers and artists who are linked to the Maoist network and they try to camouflage the sinister designs of the Maoists. There is no premium on the lives of thousands of innocent policemen who get killed every year in Maoist violence. The collateral damage to civilian life, industrial growth and development has never been factored into these calculations. Often the big Maoist attacks pass off as isolated incidents in scattered remote terrains. Reports say that the Maoists have joined hands with the jehadi groups, Church outfits and even the ISI to subvert the Indian State. The response of the State is, however, weak, dodged and inadequate. The security forces are not equipped with necessary resources or sophisticated weapons. The experts say that the Maoist army in the country has all the modern weaponry in its possession. Its extortion budget, according to these sources, is in the range of Rs 3000 to Rs 5000 crore. It buys thousands of rupees worth weapons every year other than the arms, ammunition and uniform looted from the security forces and arms depots at various places. Its macabre activities and gruesome killings are not correctly reported and even if they come to light they are glossed over by the friendly intelligentsia as just isolated cases. These groups magnify any retaliatory action of the police and government and try to rationalise the Maoist mayhem as a social problem needing sympathetic consideration. The civil groups supporting the Maoists in the open society justify the Maoist crimes as the result of poverty and underdevelopment in the adivasi areas but they conceal the fact that in areas where they are entrenched, they do not allow any development work, schools, hospitals or even roads to be built. It is high time the government woke up to the Maoist threat as the one that is out to destroy the country’s democracy. One only has to scan the pages of the Maoist Bible, Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution, published by the Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist), to realise how deep and dangerous their ideas are. It states, “The central task of the revolution is seizure of political power through protracted people’s war.” With a quote from Mao who said, “The seizure of power through armed force , the settlement of the issue by war is the central task and highest form of revolution.” The book further elaborates saying, “To accomplish this central task, the Indian people will have to be organised in people’s army, and will have to wipe out the armed forces of the counter revolutionary Indian state through war and will have to establish in its place their own state.” The centre cannot afford to leave the fight against Maoists to individual states but it has to evolve an over-all national strategy with a central command and if necessary assistance from the military before it becomes too late.

An introspective letter from Anil Chawla to Sudheendra Kulkarni, aide to L.K.Advani

Dear friend,
Sudheendra Kulkarni, who currently works as an aide to Mr. LK Advani, is an old friend. In 1975, both of us joined IIT Bombay for B.Tech. A couple of days back Sudheendra wrote an article "Hindu Divided Family", which you may read at Hindu divided family Link:
Sudheendra's article has drawn considerable attention in media. I am replying to Sudheendra in an open letter discussing the role of Mr. Advani in BJP and also the defeat of BJP in recent elections.
The enclosed open letter to Sudheendra is about 2000 words. Please read it and send me your comments.
With Best Wishes and Regards,
Anil Chawla
Dear Sudheendra,
I have just read your "deeply introspective essay" on about BJP's defeat in recent elections. The article is described asintrospective, but I failed to find anything that could be called introspection by any stretch of imagination. True, you say that "I toocarry my share of responsibility", but that is more courteous than introspective.
All through the essay, you look upon BJP as a patient lying on an operating table and your role as that of an outsider trying to see allthat has gone wrong. The patient is being blamed for all that has gone wrong, without in any way blaming either the virus or the team of doctors who have brought the patient to the present critical state.
Please pardon me for being direct and on the face. I guess as a former classmate I can take this freedom. I campaigned for Janata Party in 1977 elections. Ever since then I have been in and around the party (JP/BJP) working at various levels. Sure enough, I have not been an aide to Mr. LK Advani (LK) like you have been. Both of us began dabbling in public life together at IIT Bombay. I have spent more than three decades in close proximity with BJP and RSS without ever being offered a post. I am not alone. There are thousands like me who have served in their own humble way. What has always surprised me is that someone like you who was a committed fulltime communist for almost two decades, suddenly did an ideological somersault and landed up straight in the top rungs of BJP. When you are in mood for some introspection, please do think about this. Probably, the roots to the present malaise in BJP can be traced to your own personal journey.
When a communist suddenly becomes an ideologue for a party like BJP, there is bound to be skepticism and even some ridicule. It becomes imperative on the neo-convert to prove that there has been a genuine transformation of the soul and not just a change of coat. Even if the neo-convert does manage to prove his credentials, there is no way that he should ever be allowed to rule over the heads of people who have devoted their life to the cause. In your case, (a) you have never proved that you have really changed and (b) you actually landed up on top of the ranks in a manner that is most inexplicable. I say that you have not been able to prove your credentials because I have read some of your articles and I can say with a fair level of confidence that you remain at heart a communist who is trying to put on the camouflage of a Hindu.
Dear Sudheendra, I have nothing against you personally. Your appointment as National Executive member of BJP, at the time of your joining BJP, and later as Prime Minister's key aide had pleased me enormously. One always likes to see old friends in positions of power.The problem is that your case is not an isolated one, but a representative one. There are many in Delhi and Mumbai who have been able to gain access to LK's coterie by hook or by crook and it is these who now rule over BJP.
When you analyze BJP and RSS with a cold surgeon like approach, you ignore the role that LK's family and coterie has come to play in the party. Elections of 2009 were not fought by BJP against Congress, but were reduced by LK and his gang to a war by LK against one and all. The party has been systematically hijacked and decimated over the past decade and a half by LK's coterie. You just need to look at the campaign material prepared by the party for the recent elections. There is only one face LK's. Even Atal ji was not considered worthy of being put on the hoardings and posters. Congress gained mileage from photographs of Gandhi and Nehru decades after their deaths. Communists continue to revere Lenin and Stalin till today. Contrast this with the way LK and his war team dumped Atal ji most discourteously even though he is alive and continues to be revered by millions in the country.
You say that the BJP leadership is in disarray. If it is true, the only person who is responsible for the mess in the party is LK and noone else. He has ruled over the party with an iron hand for more than two decades. In fact, the words "Majboot Neta" (Strong Leader) that were used to describe LK during the recent election, apply only in respect of the way LK behaves in the matter of crushing his critics and opponents within the party. He is ruthless in demolishing anyone who as much as raises an eyebrow against him. He has no patience for anyone who even dreams of being his equal within the party. Can you please name for me two people who are LK's equals within BJP, in LK's vision? LK's desire to stand as a tallest leader made him choose only pygmies for all critical positions in the party. The only way that one could rise up in BJP with LK at helm was to act as a subservient spineless dwarf.
The problem with dwarfs is that while they are very good for boosting one's ego, they have limited use when one faces a war-like situation. In the recent elections, LK decided to fight it all alone. LK and his family and coterie thought that their rag-tag army of laptop professionals could substitute for the well-oiled and tested machinery of BJP, ABVP and RSS. The irony is that the blame for the defeat is now being put on the doors of the organizations that were treated most shabbily when LK and his team were dreaming of victory. LK and his team are now complaining that no one from BJP top leadership stood up to defend him when he was under attack. The fact is that among BJP leadership, the ones who command any stature were always ignored,attacked and pushed to the sideline by LK and his gang. So when LK came under attack he looked around for support and found none. Of course, there were many rats who were raising their feeble voices in his support. Unfortunately, the voices of rats do not count. This is something that LK should have thought before he appointed rats in all the key positions.
You talk about the party's social base. Did LK do anything in this regard during the past five years? The answer is an emphatic NO. When LK did his last `yatra' before 2004 elections, a photograph of his starting point was circulated. It showed LK standing with his daughter and wife. There were no BJP leaders on the dais. LK defended the presence of his family by saying that he drew strength from them. This is the root of the problem. In the past decade or so, LK stopped drawing strength from the party or Sangh parivar, and started leaning on his personal family ignoring the larger family to which small humble persons like me belong and from where we draw our strength. LK saw the party and Sangh pariwar as a tool to achieve his personal ambition at all costs. In the past decade, LK's focus was on building his personal image, his family strengths, his mafia-like grip on the party. The thought of getting or building leaders who command or could potentially command respect in various social groups seems to have been far removed from LK's mind.
I attended the function at Bhopal of LK's unveiling of his autobiography in Hindi. What an unabashed projection by a person whohas no achievements worth mentioning even in one paragraph! Future historians will mention LK as a classic example of a person who had illusions of grandeur. They will write that he was a manipulator who was ruthless to independent thought within his party and rose by methods that ruined the party. Having said that they would probably add - he saw films and wrote two eminently forgettable autobiographies. What else is there to mention about LK's lifetime achievements? Are there any articles / books written by him on social-political issues? At least I am not aware of any. He is a self-centered person who cannot see beyond himself and his interests. If he puts pen on paper it is to describe his own self because that is all that he can ever see. If he talks about Hinduism / Hindutwa or any political ideology or national issues, it sounds hollow because he has never applied his mind to anything except his own interests, his family, his career, his ambitions, his dreams etc.
You might respond by saying that all politicians today are like that. You would probably be right on that. But then they know that they are run-of-the-mill politicians with no illusions of being grand strong leaders. If LK had realized his own limitations, he would not have tried to fashion 2009 elections as an exercise to elect him as the prime minister. The worst thing that happened in 2004 and 2009 elections is that the BJP, under the influence of LK, did not use the elections as an exercise to take party's ideology forward. In days of Jansangh, when it used to be absolutely clear that there was no possibility of winning, the party would still fight. In those days, it used to be clear that fighting an election was an opportunity to propagate our ideology and thoughts to a bigger audience. In the 2009 election, the campaign was focused only on the persona of LK ignoring even the party's manifesto.
As an old hand of the broad ideological historical process that I call as Hindu nationalistic movement, I have no serious regrets about BJP losing 2004 or 2009 elections. But I do regret that the party which was making an attempt in its initial years to define a new vision for Ekatm Manavwad (translated by me as Monistic Humanism) lost way. I regret that instead of focusing on issues and ideas the party focused on an individual. I regret that the party for whom thousands shed blood and lives became a tool in the hands of some who want to live a seven-star lifestyle. I regret that personal ambitions and aspirations of one man became the focus of many organizations that are known for the sacrifices of their leaders.
Dear Sudheendra, I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say, "The BJP can indeed bounce back. But it can do so only if it first renews and empowers itself comprehensively in its ideology, its geographical-social spread, its own political strength, its massactivity, its alliance-building, its cadre-based organizational network, and its leadership". The difference is in approach. While youwould like to probably do it with LK and his cronies at the helm, I shall like Sangh pariwar to put the dark days of LK and his croniesbehind.
Sangh leadership must act to decisively purge BJP of LK and his individual-centered style of working. Competence and not loyalty to this or that individual must be the criterion for all appointments. Ideology must take centre-stage once again and those who can help with defining and clarifying ideological issues should be in key positions and not sycophants or moneybags.
I am making this letter public because I think that the issues that are discussed here are very important and need a wider debate. Ofcourse, I know that this will put me at the risk of harsh retaliatory action by LK and his coterie. I guess that I have to take this risk inwider national interest. I hope I can count on you as an old friend if the action turns nasty.
With Best Wishes and Regards,
Anil Chawla Hindustan Studies & Services Ltd.MF-104, Ajay Tower, E5/1 (Commercial),Arera Colony, BHOPAL - 462 016 INDIATel.- 91-755-2427535, 2427536 Fax - 91-755-2467485 Mobile - 09425009280