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Archive for May, 2011

Is Dayanidhi Maran in deep trouble?

May 31, 2011 By: Gemini Category: Uncategorized

Once a trouble shooter for his grand-uncle DMK chief M Karunanidhi and a friend of the Gandhi family, Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran is beginning to look he is in deep trouble like his former Cabinet and party colleague, A Raja.
Though he is tightly lipped, Maran’s sudden meetings with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently are leading to speculation about his staying as a minister. The buzz in Delhi’s corridors of power is whether another 2G scam is brewing and Maran is in the dock.
Stories are doing rounds that companies that backed jailed Raja are out to “fix” Maran so that he “pays” the price for troubling them during his tenure as Telecom Minister.
Last week, Maran moved the Madras High Court for a direction to the printer, publisher and editor and others of Economic Times of Bennet Coleman & Co Limited to pay Rs 1 crore towards damages for publishing articles that are allegedly defamatory.
He submitted that the daily carried news items in its Delhi edition of the issue dated May 21 last under the headlines “CBI May Name Dayanidhi, Maxis in Aircel Ownership Probe” and “FIR Likely Against Maran, Maxis in Aircel Case”, which were totally defamatory, false and derogatory. It had been written and published with the mala fide intention of defaming the plaintiff and causing disrepute to him, he said.
This week, Maran sent a legal notice to Tehelka magazine, calling its cover story on him a “blatant and concocted lie”. The notice said, “The reports published in the magazine are totally false, defamatory, derogatory and has been published with a malafide intention and ulterior motive.” Tehelka had claimed Maran in 2006 deliberately delayed clearing license to certain companies. and “the delay” pressurised Aircel to strike a deal with Maxis, which invested in the Maran family-owned Sun TV.
Reacting to Maran sending notices to the media houses, the BJP has hit out at him, seeking his explanation if there was conflict of interest. The Congress, however, did not comment on the issue. “If Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran has been asked a few questions, he’s in the best position to answer them. But I must mention here that the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is doing its job. It will examine all issues including the telecom policy through the years,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said. But Union ministers P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal refused to comment on Maran.
Maran and his industrialist brother, Kalanidhi Maran, are known for their influence in the government and industry. Maran is also known to be very close to the young Gandhis too. In fact, he was credited with saving the alliance between the DMK and the Congress when they were about to part ways over contesting elections together in Tamil Nadu three months ago.
Maran’s first brush with Karunanidhi and his family was in 2007 and it cost his job as Telecom Minister. Raja took over his job. Karunanidhi’s family was upset with him and his industrialist-brother Kalanidhi because their newspaper, Dinakaran, published what the patriarch called was a “mischevious” survey in May 2007.
The survey said Karunanidhi’s younger son M K Stalin and Dayanidhi Maran were rated high (in that order) as among the readers’ choice for becoming the chief minister after the DMK patriarch. Alagiri, Karunaidhi’s elder son, finished a poor third. Livid Alagiri and Stalin, and their father thought that the Marans were triggering a fight between the brothers over the succession issue.
It was then the family of Karunanidhi decided they must have their own media group to outmatch Sun TV run by the Marans. In June 2007, after Maran was forced to quit as telecom minister, Raja went about his task of setting up Kalaignar TV from scratch, organizing official clearance for a quick launch. Kanimozhi backed him to the hilt and the first family including her step-mother Dayalu Ammal took shares. Karunanidhi inaugurated the channel named after him on September 15, 2007, the birthday of DMK founder C N Annadurai.
Now, DMK leaders say Maran has again upset Karunanidhi and his family following WikiLeaks disclosure about what he had told an American diplomat in Chennai a year after he lost his portfolio in the DMK’s internal war. In the cable dated Feb 23, 2008, the estranged DMK leader was quoted as saying that party “would lose about half of their [Lok Sabha] seats if things continue as they are,” hinting that there was a general impression that the DMK was especially corrupt.
“When people get into power they lose concentration and start focusing on making money,” he had said, in what seems to be a dig at Raja, The Hindu reported quoting the cables. Maran also rapped the DMK for its policy of gifting freebies to voters as he said, “The problem when you come to power by promising people free TVs is that people soon forget the TVs you gave them and then ask ‘what are you doing for me now?’” U.S. Consul General David T Hopper in the communique to Washington also wrote that Maran was “very downbeat” about the prospects of the ruling United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) in the 15th Lok Sabha election, observing that “the UPA is in tough shape, especially after Gujarat.”
But Maran’s praise for Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was also noted by the diplomat, as the DMK leader went as far as calling him the “only chance” the UPA had of returning to power in the 2009 elections. By December 1, 2008, Maran was, however, back in the DMK fold after saying sorry to his grand-uncle Karunanidhi. The Maran brothers also patched up with Karunanidhi’s two sons, M K Stalin and M K Alagiri.

Why the Lokpal Bill is off the government’s agenda?

May 30, 2011 By: Gemini Category: Uncategorized

After appearing to be earnest, when it succeeded in persuading Anna Hazare to call off  his fast, the government’s mask has come off.  An account of what transpired at the Lokpal Bill drafting committee on Monday, given by the civil society members, clear shows senior Congress Ministers, particulary Home Minister P Chidambaram, clearly in no mood to accommodate any demand of Hazre and his team. 
No wonder, they are again talking of hitting the streets. At Monday’s meeting, the proceeding went on thus: 
1. Government said – “Prime Minister should not be covered under Lokpal.” We were shocked to hear that because in the draft bill prepared by the government in January this year, PM was covered, though with some exceptions. Today, they wanted PM to be completely out of Lokpal’s investigations. This was shocking for us. They said that if any enquiry starts against the PM, the PM would lose all authority to govern and take decisions. Prashant Bhushan reminded that in Bofors case also, the then PM was under scanner. But that did not deter him from taking decisions. Mr Chidambaram said that the PM’s position would be weakened if there were allegations against him every other day. He was reminded that
an unsubstantiated complaint would not be entertained. A seven member bench of Lokpal would first hear that complaint and decide whether there was an adequate prima facie evidence against the PM. If there were none, the complaint would be dismissed. However, the government did not agree.
Government said – “Judiciary would be out of Lokpal.” We reminded them that all that we were asking for was power to a seven member bench of Lokpal to decide whether an FIR should be registered against a judge or not. Today, only Chief Justice of India has the power to give that permission. And despite so much evidence against so many judges in public domain, permission had been given only in one case in the last 20 years.
In the meeting held on 7th May, Prashant Bhushan had even told Mr Chidambaram how Chidambaram himself had sought permission to register FIR against Justice Sen Gupta of Kolkatta High Court. Permission was sought from the then Chief Justice of India, Justice Venkatachaliah, who is very well known for his integrity. However, even Justice Venkatachaliah did not give permission. Was the evidence against Justice Sen Gupta strong enough? The strength of the evidence can be gauged from the fact that Justice Sen Gupta was raided and arrested soon after he retired because after retirement, permission of CJI was not required.
2. . However, the government did not agree saying it would compromise the independence of judiciary. We said that the independence of judiciary was compromised under the present system which was encouraging corruption. Government said that judiciary should be dealtunder Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, which was pending in Parliament. We told them that the said Bill was very bad and would end up protecting corrupt judges rather than punishing them. Also, interestingly, the said Bill does not even talk of punishing and prosecuting “corruption” of judges. It only talks of enquiring against their “misbehaviour.”
The government said that they would include corruption also in the said bill. Then we said, if you want to include judiciary’s corruption in that bill, let this committee decide on drafting that Bill also. To that they refused. They said – you give your suggestions and we will recommend them to the Standing committee. This means that the government wants to include judiciary in a weak and ineffective Bill and does not want their corruption to be dealt through a strong and effective mechanism.
3. MPs bribery inside Parliament will not be covered – If a MP takes bribe to vote or ask questions in Parliament, which would not be covered under Lokpal. Only his conduct outside will be covered. What does an MP do outside Parliament? Just recommend projects out of his Constituency fund. There too, he merely recommends and the project is executed by the officers. Therefore, effectively, all MPs would be outside the purview of Lokpal.
Purchase and sale of MPs is endangering the very foundations of our democracy. They may be purchased not just by other parties but could be purchased by other countries or corporates. Therefore, in order to save our democracy, it is extremely important that this is covered under Lokpal. However, the Government said that the Parliament should be allowed to do “self regulation”. We told them that this self regulation had not worked and their corruption should be investigated by some independent body. They simply refused.
4. All officers will not be covered under Lokpal : Only Joint Secretary and above will be covered. Who will deal with corruption at levels below that? They said that the existing system would continue. But the existing system was not working. They had no answers. We said that the common man wants an answer to corruption in his day to day life – bad roads, corruption in PDS etc. Who will deal with it? We said that the whole country had risen against corruption to seek solutions to corruption at all levels.
5. CBI, CVC and departmental vigilance will not be merged in Lokpal: Government said that let all these agencies continue. Let Lokpal have its own machinery. But why does the government want to keep a CBI under its own control? It appears that the Prime Ministerdoes not want to be investigated by an independent body but will get himself investigated by CBI, which is directly under his own control. Also, CBI has been misused by every successive government to arm twist politically inconvenient opponents. Government perhaps wants to continue doing that.
6. Public Grievances: Government agreed to the concept of citizens charter and that violation of citizens charter would be deemed to be corruption at some stage of upscaling of a grievance.
Justice Santosh Hegde asked the government – “Then who is covered under Lokpal? And what is the purpose of creating such a Lokpal?”
Effectively, the Lokpal would have jurisdiction only on Joint Secretary and above officers but not on PM. There would be around 2000 such odd officers in Government of India. Are we creating Lokpal for investigating corruption of such a few officers? Was this the purpose of such a big anti-corruption movement in India?
Definitely the government’s intentions are suspect. Please prepare yourself for the next huge movement in the country. We will go to government meetings in the next few meetings. We will try our best, till the last moment, to persuade the government to agree to a strong and effective Lokpal Bill. But if the government disagrees, we should be ready for taking to streets.

BJP’s internal war begins early? Sushma blames Jaitley for Bellary brothers’ rise!

May 27, 2011 By: Gemini Category: Uncategorized

A serious fighting has broken out among senior BJP leaders for
projection as Prime Minister candidate ahead of 2014 polls. In fact, it has
begun quite early this time!

 

Stunning her party leaders, Sushma Swaraj has hit out at Arun
Jaitley, Venkiah Naidu, Anant Kumar and Karnataka chief minister B S
Yeddyurappa for the rise of the Bellary brothers.

 

She has said in an interview to Outlook magazine that “I
have had no hand in giving encouragement to the Bellary brothers. I have not
helped them politically, or to increase their clout.”

 

She is heard speaking in Hindi in a tape released by Outlook
magazine to TV channels.

 

She claimed there were too many allegations linking her with the
Reddy brothers when she has had absolutely nothing to do with the two Karnataka
ministers.

 

Interestingly, her attack on BJP leaders has come after her
complete silence on almost all issues raised by her party against the UPA
government for the last two months.

 

The buzz in BJP circles has been whether Swaraj had come under
pressure from the government and the Congress to go silent in her criticism
because they held “something” against her.

 

Earlier, she had gone out to stop the BJP from attacking Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue of appointment of chief election
commissioner P J Thomas after his appointment was quashed.

 

She had also opposed the BJP from raising the issue of the rise of
Robert Vadra as a realty player. Questions have been asked by some BJP leaders
whether she had “compromised” with the Congress and the government
because of her proximity with the Reddy brothers.

 

But Jaitley had taken a different line, and attacked the PM on
many issues, which was followed suit by other BJP leaders.

 

In the interview, Swaraj said it was the Congress government in
Karnataka that made the brothers rich, while the BJP did play a role in making
them politically important as well. But she had no links whatsoever and other
BJP leaders were behind the Bellary brothers.

 

“When they were made ministers, it was Yeddyurappa who was the
chief minister and Arun Jaitley was the convener. All that I did was that when
it looked like the government was about to fall, I was told to speak to them,
to save our first government in the South,” she said.

 

Asked about Reddy brothers being frequently blamed for Karnataka’s
corruption, Swaraj said, “I haven’t contributed even 0% to their political
making… I haven’t made even a naya-paisa of it.” 

 

It is open secret that Swaraj is in a race with Jaitley for
projection as BJP Prime Minister candidate. But the party leaders and RSS had
decided a few months ago against projecting anyone in this regard because of
the disastrous experience of 2004 and 2009.

 

Despite L K Advani’s projection as PM candidate in 2009, other BJP
leaders had fought among one another, jeopardizing the party’s chances in the
polls.

 

For past few days, Swaraj had been sulking at the role given to
her in the state elections. She was assigned Tamil Nadu and Kerala where the
BJP drew nil.

 

Swaraj’s bid to blame Jaitley for the BJP’s trouble in Karnataka
has no takers because everyone knows that she was the one who was championing their
cause.  (end)

 

 

Will Congress apply balmy touch on Karunanidhi?

May 23, 2011 By: Gemini Category: Uncategorized

The Congress may not be ready to jettison the DMK as yet. It has begin to realize that it would not be prudent to push the second largest alliance partner out just because it has lost the Tamil Nadu elections.

Hitherto, the Congress managers used to say they weren’t bothered about the DMK because it was engulfed in the 2G spectrum scandal and needed the UPA government’s blessings to stay out of further trouble.

They used to count on the Bahujan Samajwadi Party’s 22 MPs and the Samajwadi Party’s 21 MPs to bail out the UPA if the numbers fell short in Parliament in the event of the DMK walking out of the coalition.

But with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi adopting an aggressive course against Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati on the farmers agitation issue, Congress strategists are changing their approach.

As a balmy touch, Home Minister P Chidambaram paid a courtesy call on the DMK patriarch on Monday after his very emotional meeting with his jailed daughter Kanimozhi.

Being the first senior Congress leader to call on Karunanidhi, Chidambaram’s meeting with him was seen as a signal from the Congress to the DMK family to convey that it was with him at this juncture.

Many DMK MPs had been very upset with the Congress since the arrest of Kanimozhi and Karunanidhi had himself felt very angry with the turn of events.

Karunanidhi’s visit this time to Delhi was in sharp contrast to his earlier visits to Delhi, which were packed with appointments with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders.

But after losing the Tamil Nadu assembly polls and with his family embroiled in the 2G spectrum scam, Karunanidhi never looked so helpless.

Taj Mahal Hotel on Delhi’s Mansingh Road, which has played host for Karunanidhi in 2004 when the UPA-1 was formed, had seen Congress chief Sonia Gandhi call on him. Even Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who came to the hotel, did not think of saying hi to him.

But the arrival of Chidambaram, who is also senior Congress leader from Tamil Nadu, to meet Karunandhi changed the mood of DMK leaders, who were upset with the government and the Congress over the CBI investigation.

Earlier, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh celebrated the anniversary of UPA-2 with a dinner at his house, the Congress had sought to mend the sulking mood of its second largest ally.

Though DMK ministers skipped the dinner, DMK’s representative, T R Baalu, was made to sit next to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the stage when the PM released a report card and later at the dinner table. Baalu was seen exchanging notes with Sonia Gandhi. (end)

PM and Congress refuse to back Bhardwaj again? Will he quit?

May 16, 2011 By: Gemini Category: Uncategorized

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress have again refused to accept Karnataka governor H R Bhardwaj’s recommendation to dismiss the B S Yeddyurappa government. 
They have conveyed to senior BJP leaders that they don’t buy his argument that Karnataka is a fit case for imposition of President’s rule. 
Though Bhardwaj sought to convey the impression that he had the backing of the PM (because he had a meeting with him) in sending the recommendation, senior Congress leaders who went into a huddle concluded that any political adventure would end benefitting the BJP and BSY.
“We are not going to fall into the trap,” said a senior aide to External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who also hails from Karnataka. Krishna conveyed to other Congress leaders that it would be foolish to give a fresh lease of life to BSY when his government was bound to lose ground by June 2013 when the next assembly polls were due. “Instead, preparing ourselves to fight the BJP politically on the ground, we would be committing a political blunder, ” Krishna is said to have opined. His view was shared by other senior leaders including Sonia Gandhi Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony, and the PM.
Last October, when the rebel BJP MLAs had rebelled against BSY, Bhardwaj had sent a similar recommendation on the advice of Home Minister P Chidambaram. But the PM and other Congress leaders refused to play ball.
This time, Bhardwaj’s motive appears to be more than just please the Congress high command. He wants to return as a Union minister back in New Delhi. Bhardwaj is “sick” of “rusting” in Bangalore’s Raj Bhavan. Those close to Bhardwaj claim that the PM is ready to make him the law minister again. But Sonia Gandhi is not keen. She had denied him a renewal of his Rajya Sabha term, and sent him as governor after his private claims about having saved the Gandhi family from the Bofors saga reached her ears.
But, having created a fresh furore, Bhardwaj might even put in his papers if the Centre rejects his recommendation, say his former aides. 

Jayalalithaa gets jitters after DMK’s goes on overdrive?

May 11, 2011 By: Gemini Category: Uncategorized

Contradictory exit polls projections, coupled with an active DMK propaganda machine asserting that it was coming to power have given last-minute jitters to AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa, who suspects M Karunanidhi’s team is out to create “mischief.”
For the last few days, goes the buzz, some Union ministers belonging to the DMK have been impressing upon Congress’ top managers that they will see a win for the DMK-led alliance, of which the Congress is part. A DMK functionary is said to have conveyed to a Congress counterpart that the alliance could bag at least 140 seats.
The DMK’s claim has led to suspicion among the AIADMK leaders that Karunanidhi’s sons, M K Alagiri and M K Stalin, are working on a “secret” mission as the ground reports had favoured their leader, Jayalalitha. The big question is when the DMK contested only 119 seats as against the AIADMK’s 160. If the DMK is supposed to win, then the party must have a 90 per cent strike rate!
But, what is interesting is that the DMK’s claims of victory have unnerved even top AIADMK leaders.
Jayalalithaa has wasted no time in asking the Election Commission to appoint data entry operators of “integrity” for the counting of votes for the Tamil Nadu elections on Friday, alleging they had facilitated the “fraudulent victory” of Home Minister P.Chidambaram from Sivaganga in 2009.
“During the counting of votes for the Sivaganga Parliamentary Constituency, the votes polled in favour of the AIADMK candidate R.S. Raja Kannappan were entered in favour of Chidambaram and the votes polled in favour of Chidambaram were entered in favour of Raja Kannappan,” she claimed in a complaint to Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi.
“The votes that were physically entered by the counting agents/counting officers of Raja Kannappan (AIADMK candidate) were deliberately changed by the Data Entry Operators at the time of making entries in Form 20,” she alleged.
Jayalalitha wrote that “a comparison of the hand written entries made by the Counting Agents of Kannappan and entries made by the Data Entry Operators in Form 20 Sheet clearly reveal that the votes polled in favour of Kannappan were entered with mala fide intention to favour the Congress candidate Chidambaram and facilitate his fraudulent victory.” she said.
She also urged the ECI to instruct the Returning Officers and Observers to ensure votes recorded by Officers at the time of counting as well as the entries made by the Operators tallied with each other.
Exit polls have indicated that the DMK and its allies will lose a six per cent of its vote share in Tamil Nadu while the AIADMK and its allies stand to gain over four per cent of the vote share. Exit polls conducted by CVB News-C-Voter say the AIADMK is expected to win between168 and 176 seats while the DMK and its allies will get between 54 and 62. Headlines Today-ORG leaned towards a DMK victory. The survey predicts that the DMK-led alliance would bag between 115 and 130 seats in the 234-seat assembly, while the opposition AIADMK-led alliance may get between 105 and 120 seats.The CNN-IBN-The Week-CSDS poll, however, says AIADMK to oust the ruling DMK government. The survey says AIADMK would bag between 120 and 132 seats while DMK would get between 102 and 114.

Jayalalitha gets jitters after DMK’s overdrive?

May 11, 2011 By: Gemini Category: Uncategorized

Contradictory exit polls projections, coupled with an active DMK propaganda machine asserting that it was coming to power have given last-minute jitters to AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa, who suspects M Karunanidhi’s team is out to create “mischief.”
For the last few days, goes the buzz, some Union ministers belonging to the DMK have been impressing upon Congress’ top managers that they will see a win for the DMK-led alliance, of which the Congress is part. A DMK functionary is said to have conveyed to a Congress counterpart that the alliance could bag at least 140 seats.
The DMK’s claim has led to suspicion among the AIADMK leaders that Karunanidhi’s sons, M K Alagiri and M K Stalin, are working on a “secret” mission as the ground reports had favoured their leader, Jayalalitha. The big question is when the DMK contested only 119 seats as against the AIADMK’s 160. If the DMK is supposed to win, then the party must have a 90 per cent strike rate!
But, what is interesting is that the DMK’s claims of victory have unnerved even top AIADMK leaders.
Jayalalithaa has wasted no time in asking the Election Commission to appoint data entry operators of “integrity” for the counting of votes for the Tamil Nadu elections on Friday, alleging they had facilitated the “fraudulent victory” of Home Minister P.Chidambaram from Sivaganga in 2009.
“During the counting of votes for the Sivaganga Parliamentary Constituency, the votes polled in favour of the AIADMK candidate R.S. Raja Kannappan were entered in favour of Chidambaram and the votes polled in favour of Chidambaram were entered in favour of Raja Kannappan,” she claimed in a complaint to Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi.
“The votes that were physically entered by the counting agents/counting officers of Raja Kannappan (AIADMK candidate) were deliberately changed by the Data Entry Operators at the time of making entries in Form 20,” she alleged.
Jayalalitha wrote that “a comparison of the hand written entries made by the Counting Agents of Kannappan and entries made by the Data Entry Operators in Form 20 Sheet clearly reveal that the votes polled in favour of Kannappan were entered with mala fide intention to favour the Congress candidate Chidambaram and facilitate his fraudulent victory.” she said.
She also urged the ECI to instruct the Returning Officers and Observers to ensure votes recorded by Officers at the time of counting as well as the entries made by the Operators tallied with each other.
Exit polls have indicated that the DMK and its allies will lose a six per cent of its vote share in Tamil Nadu while the AIADMK and its allies stand to gain over four per cent of the vote share. Exit polls conducted by CVB News-C-Voter say the AIADMK is expected to win between168 and 176 seats while the DMK and its allies will get between 54 and 62. Headlines Today-ORG leaned towards a DMK victory. The survey predicts that the DMK-led alliance would bag between 115 and 130 seats in the 234-seat assembly, while the opposition AIADMK-led alliance may get between 105 and 120 seats.The CNN-IBN-The Week-CSDS poll, however, says AIADMK to oust the ruling DMK government. The survey says AIADMK would bag between 120 and 132 seats while DMK would get between 102 and 114.

Osama’s death leaves PM’s aman ki asha with Pakistan in tatters?

May 04, 2011 By: Gemini Category: Uncategorized

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s aman ki asha with Pakistan appears to have taken a serious knock with the US hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden near Islamabad.

Congress sources say it will be difficult for Singh to pursue his objective of a breakthrough in dialogue with Pakistan so easily now.

So much so he may have to wait until the situation following Osama’s death has crystallized in the neighbouring country, and would be well advised to avoid any unilateral moves to prove his leadership.

The Prime Minister has always considered his Pakistan policy as the highpoint of the UPA II’s performance. He would like to demit office with a record that he brought a political solution to the troubles with Pakistan.

Also, the Prime Minister was driven by Washington’s pressure to improve ties with Islamabad. That pressure may ease now because the Americans will have to figure it out themselves first their equations with that country– in the wake of their discovery of how Osama was nurtured by the military establishment.

More than the Americans, Congress president Sonia Gandhi is less likely to allow a free hand to the PM than hitherto. With a number of state elections including UP due next year and thereafter, she may prefer caution to  any bold move with Pakistan to prevent adverse political fallout, party sources said.

In fact, the PM was taken by surprise by the developments. His reaction to the killing didn’t reach the media for many hours.On the other hand, Home Minister P Chidambaram responded early– by reminding all concerned that India’s case for handing over those behind Mumbai’s 26/11 attack had been strengthened.  

The first casualty of Osama’s killing already is the Prime Minister’s trip to Afghanistan, which was to take place around May 6. It may be deferred by at least a few weeks.

 The buzz is that Washington had warned that the Prime Minister should not travel to Kabul even before the al Qaida chief was hunted down.

Top BJP leaders have reviewed the situation and urged Singh to review his decision to restore peace talks with Pakistan when Osama’s death proved it had harbored the world’s most wanted terrorist.

A BJP statement after a meeting of the party’s core group on Wednesday said: “The BJP considers the elimination of Osama Bin Laden – the global face of terrorism as a high point of the global war on terror. The fact that Osama was housed in a mansion close to a Pakistani Military academy establishes that Pakistan is the epicenter of global terrorism, which was harboring the most wanted global terrorist.

“India’s legitimate concern that those who have perpetrated terror in India are also housed comfortably in Pakistan is no longer in doubt. Pakistan can no longer claim that it is a victim of terror. Those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy will always suffer due to their duplicity.

 “The Prime Minister and the UPA government need to introspect upon their policy towards Pakistan. Talks and Terror cannot co-exist. Pakistan is a sponsor and user of terror and not its victim. Pakistan has not been honest in its commitment that its territory will not be/ is not being used for terror. The world has realized this reality. We urge the government of India also sees reason in it,” the BJP statement said.

But Siddharth Varadarajan, Associate Editor of The Hindu, who supports the PM’s olive branch approach towards Pakistan, says, “The fact that Osama bin Laden found refuge in a Pakistani cantonment town may add more rhetorical punch to India’s charge that Pakistan has become a safe haven for violent extremism but the first-order effect of his killing on bilateral relationship is likely to be negligible.”

 After all, he said, India’s recent decision to rekindle the dialogue process was taken in full knowledge of the fact that Islamabad remains unwilling or unable to act decisively against the different jihad groups that form part of the “syndicate of terror.”

These include, of course, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its leadership, who were responsible for the November 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

For two years, the Manmohan Singh government kept the dialogue process suspended in the hope that this would help force Pakistan to act.

Varadarajan thinks that the strategy worked at first but turned out to be a weak instrument the longer India persisted with it. Worse, the blanket refusal to talk meant India was unable to push for gains in other areas such as trade and commerce and confidence-building measures.

Even though the Prime Minister and some of his advisers understood that a change of tack was needed, they remained wary of how the Opposition and the wider body of public opinion would react.

Varadaraj writes that “The contrived outcry which followed the abortive Sharm el-Sheikh initiative of July 2009 delayed the much-needed reset for another year.”

Ironically, when Dr. Singh’s government finally indicated — after the Thimphu meetings this February — that it was ready to move forward on the full spectrum of issues, there was hardly any political criticism.

Perhaps the Opposition had better issues to target the Prime Minister on, like the 2G scam, or realised, in the wake of Governor Salman Taseer’s assassination, that the dysfunctionality of the Pakistani state was not necessarily India-specific.

Either way, Varadarajan is sure that “the dialogue is back and there is hardly any public controversy about this despite Pakistan not fulfilling all of India’s oft-repeated pre-conditions on 26/11 and terrorism.”


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