`We shall overcome’



Someone asked me the other day: do you think any action will be initiated against the ministers named in the land scam in Maharashtra by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)?

At that point of time the report was merely in the nature of a `leak’ and not yet tabled in the Maharashtra legislature. Already some of the bureaucrats mentioned in the `leaks’ had vehemently denied their involvement in any land/property scam and those airing those leaks were quickly apologising and withdrawing those claims.

When the report was finally laid on the table, it turned out that no names were mentioned – except of the trusts run by these ministers (though some of these are not directly in their control, many of the trustees on those bodies are close relatives of the men in power). Then two ministers – Narayan Rane of the Congress and Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP – went combative, setting about to prove how they had not broken any rules and how various departments had given hem clearances in full accordance with the law. There was no case against them, they said. They went unchallenged.

But to answer that friend’s question, even before the report became public, I had told her that if both the allies in government set about taking action against those said to be named in the CAG report, the state would be left with no ministers at all because there are no understudies to those currently in government and neither party can escape the responsibility for bending the rules.

What the leaks did not foretell was that the CAG also roundly indicted Sharad Pawar’s pet project – Lavasa city — for violating rules. That project has nothing to do with public interest, unlike the claims of those in government, it said. It is all about public gratification, it roundly stated.

When the leaks happened, we believed the source of the leaks had been Pawar’s nephew, Ajit, the state’s deputy chief minister, who is out to finish all rivals who might lay claim to the job of chief minister in the future – a dream he cannot realise without ending the domination of these stalwarts. But, after the naming of Lavasa by the CAG, I instinctively knew no action would be taken and the report would be talked of no more because Pawar cannot afford to have attention focused on his dream city and create more stumbling blocks in the way of its completion.

Now, whatever might be the culpability of those named (or, more correctly, not) in the report, I could sympathise with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan when he told the assembly that unsubstantiated reports (in this case naming people who were not rally, er, `named’ by CAG) and the mob mentality in the media these days goes about destroying reputations and careers and by the time the truth emerges, it is often too late for any resurrections.

This is particularly rue of the Adarsh scam. The interim report of the judicial committee set up to probe ownership of the land clearly states that the Army and the Navy absolutely failed to prove that the plot belonged to them. On the other hand, papers clearly indicate that the land is the property of the state government and was never allotted to Kargil widows. Hence, the government was well within its rights to put the land to any kind of use they might have wished.

While that has come as vindication to Vilasrao Deshmukh who started the clearances for the project and his successor, Sushil Kumar Shinde, who unambiguously stated in Court that he had only followed his predecessor’s footsteps, that particular misconception has, of course, damaged and, perhaps, destroyed then presiding chief minister Ashok Chavan’s career — or at least marred it forever. Ashok Chavan was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time – he was merely revenue minister when flats in the Adarsh society were allotted to his mother-in-law and sister-in-law. The greater offence was to deny that these two ladies were his `family’. “Family only means wife and children,’’ he had said then, adding insult to his own injury – who would have thought that a chief minister of any state would be so foolish as to think he could fool the people through a dumb statement like that which does not even amount to sophistry?

While that interim report vindicates Deshmukh and Shinde, it by no means lets them off the hook for it has yet to be proved if there was a quid pro quo in sanctioning the project (i.e. did they similarly benefit through allotments of flats to themselves) or if it was simply administrative misjudgment and political expedience that made them bend the rules.

Whatever the outcome of the CBI probe into that aspect, it is not going to be an easy task for the chief minister of Maharashtra who is being damned if he does and damned f he doesn’t, too. What he has `done’ in the past is to instruct the police not to make file notings if they receive calls from high political office over any or whichever case. That instruction came soon after Deshmukh received a rap on the knuckles for, inexplicably, asking the cops to go slow on the arrest of the father of an MLA whose family were money lenders and involved in the killing of a farmer who could not return the loans on time. But, I am told, that happened because the CBI had made it clear to him and many other leaders that in these days of Right to Information, political interference was costing them their credibility and if they wanted the Bureau to behave in particular fashion, they should “put that down in writing’’.

So the sincere chief minister took that rather, well, sincerely as he is on instruction by his party high command that he must clean up the Congress’s image in the state and allow no breath of scam or scandal to get through any more. That now simply means that no files move in Mantralaya as the CM insists he will read every last word before he signs any papers – and the papers pile up faster than he can read them. The bureaucrats will not help him either for they do not want to be blamed for anything that might go wrong – the arrests of retired and serving bureaucrats and army officers in the Adarsh scam has scorched their fingers and they are now absolutely against taking risks.

So even as corporates, builders, party workers and many others hate the Maharashtra government for not working, this current regime is an ideal one for Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare to hold up, as they come together for another fast in June this year, as their dream government and show people how things may be (not) achieved in a corruption-free regime in India.

Meanwhile, with stalwarts like Sharad Pawar around, what is a small thing like a CAG report that names “names’’ even while not really naming them? Meanwhile, people should look at the Information Commissioner’s office these days: officials have retired and petitions are piling up sky high even as no new people have been `named’ to fill up the vacant posts. That’s the best way to kill the RTI act, methinks. Lets see Ramdev and Hazare get the better of this one – and then our politicians, I am sure, will find another way to overcome and get round the duo, again!

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  • Anonymous

    Who gives a F***K about adarsh and what not.Folks MANU SANGHVI married with two sons , 27 and 24 starts with ******** with a Lawyer and then full blown F***K by Singhvi. My prediction Mamata will pull the plug , mid term election , A COUNTRY FULL OF RAPIST , mamata will at least assure a CLEAN goverment

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Shan,

    Why have you stopped visiting Mr. Sharma’s blog? We all are missing you
    there.

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  • Tanu Mittal

    Skyfall was really the fall of James Bond and the bond movies.A lot was expected from this movie and of all i was eagerly waiting for it.phew!!it was terrible , horrible and worse till the end.The bond movies are idealistic & the expectation arose more with this year release.Though reviews were ok but the general view shared by the public was not good.It was a total bore movie ,actions were lacking in the whole movie & our James bond Daniel Craig seemed to be tired & old .This movie seemed to be a liitle old fashioned with no techno savvy Bond as if its a 18th century movie.Where was the heroine in the whole movie ..definitely we must say all the glamour ,bold & beautiful were lacking and in all it was a heroine less movie!!This movie did not match the standard of legendary bond movies!!!

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    Kushal Reply:

    Yay! So I’m not the only disappointed one, Tanu. Thanks for the validation.

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    Kushal Reply:

    Yay! So I’m not the only disappointed one, Tanu. Thanks for the validation.

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  • Abhiroop

    We have the History of English in the B.A. syllabus? I totally want to do it then.

    I saw Skyfall last week and it was the first time I’d been inside a theatre since early 2009 when I watched Dilli 6. I remember fondly the first Bond film I saw, the Pierce Brosnan starrer Tomorrow Never Dies, when I was 10, a few days before my 6th standard final exams were to start and oh what a high it was to have watched what I later found out was an A rated film!

    And eh. Men read porn?

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    Kushal Reply:

    We HAD it in Calcutta University in the late 80s, Abhiroop. I can recommend some books if you’re interested.

    And sorry, I made a mistake. Men don’t READ porn, they watch it.

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    Kushal Reply:

    We HAD it in Calcutta University in the late 80s, Abhiroop. I can recommend some books if you’re interested.

    And sorry, I made a mistake. Men don’t READ porn, they watch it.

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  • Deb

    Me too (to your last sentence). And this movie contributes to what you say in the title of your post i.e. ‘Breaking the Bond’ (with the quintessential Bond fan, that is).

    It’s so refreshing to get an honest opinion from you, when all the reviews (and comments/articles) are going all ga-ga about the so called ‘humanization’ and ‘layering’ and other sorts of blah-blah of Bond. Well, who wants a more ‘humane’ Bond!! (perhaps the kind of people who don’t watch Bond movies in the first place?). I think it all started with the first film with Craig as Bond, ‘Casino Royale, with Bond beaten to a pulp. Something unthinkable in Bond movies of yore, even as he took his fair share on the chin, but always had the last laugh in any encounter.

    Bond movies are perhaps the last bastion of escapism, away from all the realism, like a good ol’ ‘dishum-dishum’ Amitabh movie of the 70s/early 80s, with rather more technical wizardry. And great one liners, the swagger, martinis,… (even if you discount the hot bods). So to deprive Bond fans of all this (in a spurious quest to cater to the tastes of so called ‘politically correct’ viewers) is sacrilege, no less. It somehow… enervates Bond, robs him of the very charm which drew most viewers.

    Me, I’d rather watch an ‘Agent Vinod’ (or, on a bad day, ‘Ek Tha Tiger’), who seems to be an able successor to the original Bond.

    PS: The “unnamed operative” with Bond in Istanbul later metamorphoses into Ms. Moneypenny, M’s assistant, at the end of this movie.

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    Kushal Reply:

    Hooray! Another dissident! Thanks Deb. BIG grin.

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  • h.mani

    He was a unmatigated disaster for India,to put somebody who came from former Pakistan as P.M.,he single handedly dismantaled RAW, We as People will even appoint Musaruff as P.M. if he somehow become Indian Citizen,haven’t we already appointed KGB Ex as most powerful politician in India?

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  • jay

    Frigging shameless fellow who was the cause of thousands of deaths in India and indirectly led to Kargil War and Mumbai massacre amongst other things. This fellow should have been eliminated long ago for the harm he did to mother India.

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  • Anonymous

    “Good guy of politics”? I guess the Radia-Sanghvi brand of “good” – I guess. That was the man who sat firmly in Russia during emergency and supported Indira Gandhi and cultivated and supported the Gandhi brand of politics to the nadir of Indian history. Right you are Vir Sanghvi, in your world.

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  • Star Canopus

    Mr Gujral was a principled and urbane intellectual as well as a generous, large-hearted Punjabi.

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  • Ramesh Kumar

    GUJRAL HAS NOT LEFT ANY POSITIVE IMPACT ON INDIAN POLITICS.BUT SURELY HIS ERA WAS AN ERA OF KITCHEN CABINETS ,WHEN PEOPLE CHOSE TO BE QUIET OR COMPROMISING FOR GAIN.
    IAM SURE CONGRESS WILL MAKE A SAMADHI FOR HIM. .ARE WE DIFFERENT TODAY? MAY GOD HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE.

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  • Sumit Bose

    Ponder over this; this (journo) Dalal waxes eloquent over another Dalal of Mrs Gandhi, but he drew the line for his dalali and he would not do dalali for her son! And wonder of wonders, this dalal terms this departed soul as a “good man”. This person was one more misguided pseudo-secularist and was an unrepentant “candle-light holder”. I wonder if he chose to be a candle-light holder just for protection against Islamic terrorism unleashed upon India and wonder if he would yet be holding impotent candle-light vigils, if his near and dear ones were victims of Islamic terrorism?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rahul.diddi Rahul Diddi

    IK Gujral was a friendly, urbane ambassador to the Soviet Union when I was a student there. He loved life and adapted to Moscow’s conditions by being the only Indian ambassador who enjoyed skiing in Moscow’s cold winters. He was very friendly to us students. I have very fond memories of the few meetings I enjoyed with him in Moscow.

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  • Sad sad sad

    It is truly sad, and an evil portent for my beloved country, that a self acknowledged goonda like Bal Thakeray is mourned publicly and in the press, but the passing of a true gentleman like Mr Gujral is hardly even in the news.

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  • Suparna Salahuddin

    suave, intellectual, well-spoken and a think -tank, no doubt. Had more potential in foreign policy diplomatic areas. His potential could have been well-utilized if he stayed back in adviser’s team of Prime-minister. His decision for taking up prime-minister ship was a wrong step.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/selman.khan.3 Selman Khan

    He Was indeed a Good Guy.When the anouncement of his becoming the PM was made I happened to be in Okhla just near his house in Maharani Bagh in G block.I went to congratulate him and found I could cooly go to his house with no Bheed around his sardarji secretary made me comfortable in a room where where Gujaral saheb came offered Barfi. Perhaps the crowd was waiting at his official residence.

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  • Anonymous

    ” was Mrs Gandhi’s thug-like younger son, Sanjay”
    Should not section 66 A of the IT act 2000 be invoked.

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  • Guest

    Anyone who stood up to Sanjay Gandhi at the height of his extra constitutional authority must have been a brave and honorable man.

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  • vijay !

    Ik Gujral was a big disappointment as a PM. Just when narasimha Rao had managed to match ISI with RAW, Dawood with Chotta Rajan, Syed Gilani with Altaf hussain…. IK gujral surrendered everything for eating Kababs with Nawz Sharif.

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  • s subramanyan

    We
    should strive to get the headquarters of the Brics Bank to India. Mumbai could
    be an ideal candidate. We have here one of the globally acclaimed central bank
    which had given us several experts in development banking functions too. Let us
    proudly tell the global nations of our stellar
    achievement viz. we score over China, we have a parliamentary democracy,
    conducted periodical elections in the
    last 60 years not with a small population,
    but with huge one covering different religions and communities and classes;
    our experienced institutions like the Election Commission, Lok Sabha and Rajya
    Sabha can help African nations to imbibe truly effective democratic processes
    and institutions like conducting fair and free elections and operate ; we have far
    excelled even Britain which claims to have the mother of parliament. Recall
    what Thomas Pakenham wrote in his monumental work of 1992 the Scramble for Africa: “…Britain launched a crash programme in nation-building. Constitutions
    were borrowed from elsewhere, hammered out overnight, parliaments were thrown
    up like theatre-props(designed to the westminster model including the Speaker’s wig), elections held, prime ministers lectured
    on the intricacies of British democracy.” We had under difficult and widely differing conditions
    in every facet, religion,caste and class etc -such as those obtaining in many
    African nations, conducted fair and free elections and built
    our own parliament with two houses and legislative assemblies in our states
    an experience which is nearer African environment. Lastly, our PM has had vast experience
    in this field. He is eminently qualified to pursue and achieve this goal of
    getting Brics bank to India and thus hep us serve Bric nations.

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  • vip- mop mop sweep sweeps

    I am just assuming if it sfact on foreigners then citizens of INDIA should thank Foreigners can at end of day can think, All you have been doing over decades afeter the independence in SOUTH EAST CONTINENT is bully bicker, act lazy and act nothing but fight and mud sling oneach other. Most of the politicians have failed in performing or delivering on right moral duties to serve citizens. Corruption, lack of vision how to run show, align priorties how to mange right population control and take robust moves to educate warn and alert people on their obligations towards the state and force feed in their conditioned braions by Babas that rights come with full responsibilty under citizens charter. Takers kahin ke and all in the name of Bhagwan by divering foolish ignorant mans attentions from all the right tasks.

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  • Babu Khan

    Shut up hey ****

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  • KP

    As usual,a very interesting view on BRICS bank by Mr.Pramit.The Soft power trumpcard could prove to be a game changer for both India and china

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  • Reader

    What a horrible, unsubstantiated piece of opinion. The argument is so shallow.

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  • balaji

    india should go forward more and more in all financial sectors of world like world bank/bricks banks , as it is unavoidable for progress/devlopment of country/world in future world …..

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  • Javed

    his advice to indian congress politicians doesnt work at all, so he thinks he should try obama

    what BS

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    Anonymous Reply:

    That’s really good one. I doubt whether anyone takes this writer seriously.

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    engricn Reply:

    i agree mohan

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  • vijay !

    Taliban in Afghanistan would be the same Taliban of IC 814 period. America in Afghanistan meant thAt evil jehadis from afghanistan were spent and killed in fighting USA.

    SO if you wish well fro India you should pray that US sticks out in Afghanistan as it also periodically bombs Pakistan our enemy with drones. If this is doen for another 10 years, the concept of Jehad and Islamic superiority over minorities and other religions will die out. After all how many je3hadis will keep beleiving that they are going to janat…

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  • Anonymous

    “Obama: What a let-down he’s been?”

    Says ZIa Haq…Why? Because Obama did not spare Zia’s hero Osama.

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  • Faulitics

    Haha..Vali Nasr is a Muslim originally from Iran. Of course he is stabbing his own country in the back and supporting openly radical and Islamist regimes like Iran and the Taliban. Valid Nasir is to the US what Zia is to India. These communal types have only one loyalty and that is to their religion. Obama did one really good thing. He took the war to the home turf of zia’s “brothers”, the Islamists. He is droning them to hell as they richly deserve it.

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    engricn Reply:

    but there is no hope to win.

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    Abhi Reply:

    Let us do an HT poll on “Am I a Muslim or an Indian First’ on Zia!

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    co Reply:

    why so much hate? why!!

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  • momn doter

    I was waiting for his next post, for I thought it would be about row over vande matram walkout. Instead he goes to US, for which I dont give a rat ***.

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  • Anonymous

    White House got lessons from Indian Politicians ruling and opposition. Now both ruling and opposition parties are silent on corrpution issues once China introduced human rights case on corruption cases. To stop the mentality of indian politicians approaching other nations for various instances is that, Politicians like Mr. Palani Chidambaram have the facility of viewing public places and reading public thoughts and so on … and waits for appropriate time to make presentation in the parliament, before that, many common public are killed and even professional like news readers heads are done. Which is day to day professional work from chennai. Which i have written to our hounarable president of india to take appropriate action action against criminal who possess illegal technology development. Without stopping this it is difficult to monitor social networking sites even after bringing data handling data storage rules and regulation. Present scenerio, China introduced human rights against corrpution, tamil nadu politicians who were in corrpution list came out, human rights is open for sri lankan issue and all of them will seek US Government for support. Atlast China will be left over nothing.

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  • Anonymous

    Zia shows why muslims will remain laggard for foreseable future. It is the ostrich burying its head in the sand scenario.Rather than see things for what they are worth , No turn your head or eyes from uncomfortable truths and turn to , yes you guessed it the OBSCURANTIST REGRESSIVE MEDIEVAL DOCTRINE.Rather than advice Iran to junk religion become a secular republic WITH FULL FREEDOM ie, RIGHT TO PASS LAWS THAT IS ACCORDANCE WITH MODERN REALITY AND SHOWS TWO FINGERS TO THE BOOK. Rather than advice TO SQUEEZE PAKISTAN DRY so that it will realise that to survive IT HAS TO JUNK ARMY AND ALLAH and by extension the vicous virus that is Taliban.
    Next Zia will advocate SIMI be exonerated and allowed to spread terror Dawood Ibrahim allowed to return to india and no terrorist charges against him

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  • engrich
  • engricn

    Bankim Chatterjee’s provocative books gave birth to extremist Hindu
    groups who translated his thoughts into reality. Anadamath written by
    Chatterjee in 1882 was the first manifestation of militant spirit of
    Hinduism against Muslims. Abominable Vande Matram, the hymn of Mother
    India was part of this book which became the national anthem of Bengali
    Hindu nationalists. Later it became the national anthem of India.
    Chatterjee’s book preached hatred against Muslims of India and
    instigated the religious sentiments of Hindus to rise against them,
    terrorize them into submission and merge them in Hinduism or annihilate
    them. He portrayed them as interlopers in the land of Hindus

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    Abhi Reply:

    “Chatterjee’s book preached hatred against Muslims of India”
    Which do you think came first? Muslim’s hatred of ALL other religions or Hindu’s hatred against moslims? Even to day, Modi will wear a scull cap gladly if the moslim who asked him to wear it will wear a tilak.

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  • Anonymous

    Mr Zia

    Time you started realising that Obama has been good for INdia. he bombed the Pakistnais, killed a few thousand jehadis, bottled up the jehaids and Taliban in Afghanistan.

    If you are an Indian look at the world thru the prism on what is good for India and NOT what is good for Muslim Brotherhood.

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Zia can not think anything beyond Islam. His kind of people are great threat to secular society.

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Very sad. I wish he develops a pro India vision rathr than seeing what is good for Muslims in Serbia and karachi.

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