New on my other blogs

"Gandhi is dead, Who is now Mahatmaji?"
Solar scam reveals decadent polity and sociery
A Dalit poet writing in English, based in Kerala
Foreword to Media Tides on Kerala Coast
Teacher seeks V.S. Achuthanandan's intervention to end harassment by partymen


27 November, 2013

Number of candidates with criminal records goes up from 14% to 16% in Delhi

Delhi Election Watch (DEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 796 candidates out of 810 candidates who are contesting in the Delhi State Assembly Elections. (Detailed reports in English are attached with this, for reports in Hindi please visit

·         Candidates with Criminal Cases: Out of the 796 candidates analysed, 129 candidates (or 16%) have declared criminal cases against them. In 2008 Delhi Assembly elections there were 111 (14%) candidates with declared criminal cases out of 790 candidates analysed.
·         Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases: Out of the 129 candidates who have declared criminal cases, 93 (12%) have declared serious criminal casesThese include attempt to murder, robbery, dacoity and crime against women.
·         Party wise Candidates with Criminal Cases: 15 (21%) of 70 candidates fielded by INC have declared criminal cases against them while 31 (46%) out of 68 candidates from BJP, 14 (21%) out of 67 candidates from BSP and 5 (7%) out of 70 candidates from AAP have declared criminal cases in their affidavits.
·         Party wise Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases: (11%) of 70 candidates fielded by INC have declared serious criminal cases against them while 22 (32%) out of 68 candidates from BJP, 12 (18%) out of 67 candidates fromBSP and 5 (7%) out of 70 candidates from AAP have declared serious criminal cases in their affidavits.
·         Party –wise Comparison of Candidates with Criminals Cases with 2008 Assembly ElectionsINC had 30% candidates with criminal cases in the 2008 Assembly Elections which has gone down to 21% in the 2013 Assembly Elections. BJP had 35% candidates with criminal cases in the 2008 Assembly Elections which has risen to 46% in 2013 Assembly Elections. BSP had 23% candidates with criminal cases in the 2008 Assembly Elections which has gone down to 21% in 2013.
·         Red Alert Constituencies*: 14 constituencies have at least 3 candidates from these political parties with declared criminal cases.*Red Alert Constituencies are those which have 3 or more candidates with criminal cases standing up for elections. This analysis excludes independent candidates with criminal cases.
·          Cases of Attempt to Murder and related charges: 1 candidate has declared charges relating to causing death by negligence (IPC 304A) and 3 candidates have declared charges related to attempt to commit culpable homicide (IPC 308)against themselves while 10 candidates declared attempt to murder charges.
·          Cases related to Robbery and Dacoity: 3 candidates have declared robbery or dacoity related charges against them.
·          Crimes against Women: 13 candidates have declared crimes against women9 of these 13 candidates have declared charges related to assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty (IPC Section-354). 1candidate has declared case related to husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty (IPC Section – 498A) and one candidate declared a case of causing miscarriage without woman's consent (IPC Section-313)

·         Crorepati Candidates: Out of the 796 candidates analysed, 265 (33%) are crorepatis. In 2008 Delhi Assembly elections there were 180 (23%) crorepati candidates out of 790 candidates analysed.
·         Average Assets: The average asset per candidate contesting in the 2013 Delhi Assembly Elections is Rs.3.43 Crores. Average asset per candidate in 2008 Delhi Assembly elections was Rs.1.77 crores.
·         Party-wise Average Assets: Among major parties, the average asset per candidate for INC is Rs 14.25 croresBJPcandidates have an average assets of Rs.8.16 crores while the average assets of AAP candidates is Rs. 2.51 crores.
·         High Asset Candidates: Manjinder Singh Sirsa of SAD from Rajouri Garden constituency has declared highest assets worth Rs.235.51 crores followed by Sushil Gupta of INC from Moti Nagar constituency with declared assets worthRs.164.44 crores and Ashok Kumar Jain of INC from Delhi Cantt constituency with declared assets worth Rs.143.69 crores.
· ·         Undeclared PAN: 117(15%) out of 796 candidates analysed have not declared their PAN details.

Summary of asset comparison of re-contesting MLAs
  • MLAs Contesting Again:  Delhi Election Watch (DEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have analyzed the affidavits of 66 outgoing MLAs who are contesting again in the 2013 Delhi Assembly Elections.
  • Average Assets in 2008 ElectionsThe average asset of these 66 re-contesting MLAs fielded by various parties including indpendents in 2008 was Rs 2.90 Crores.
  • Average Assets in 2013 ElectionsThe average asset of these 66 re-contesting MLAs in 2013 is Rs 10.43 Crores.
  • Average Asset growth in 5 years (2008-2013)The average asset growth for these 66 re- contesting MLAs, between the Delhi Elections of 2008 and 2013 is Rs 7.53 Crores.
  • Percentage growth in 5 years (2008-2013): Average percentage growth in assets for these 66 re-contesting MLAs is259%.

·         Highest growth In Assets in 5 years (2008-2013)Sat Prakash Rana of BJP from Bijwasan constituency has declared maximum increase in assets with an increase of Rs 105.51 Crores i.e from Rs 6.38 Crores in 2008 to Rs. 111.89 Crores in 2013 (Sat Prakash Rana has not declared the value of two vehicles in his 2008 affidavit) Assets of Ram Singh Netaji of INC from Badarpur constituency has increased by Rs 50.26 Crores, from Rs 8.44 Crores in 2008 to Rs 58.71 Crores in 2013. Assets of Tarvinder Singh Marwah of INC from Jangpura constituency have risen by Rs 27.99 Crores, from Rs 7.06 Crores in 2008 to Rs 35.05 Crores in 2013 (Insurance policy value and one vehicle value was not provided in his 2008 affidavit).

26 November, 2013

Sex, sting and videotapes

BRP Bhaskar
Sex crimes have emerged as a major challenge in India. Varied as the social landscape is, the nature of crimes against women and the attitudes of the authorities and the public also differ vastly. The death of a young paramedical student following gangrape in a moving bus in New Delhi last December made headlines around the world. The protests that followed in the capital and elsewhere in the country received extensive media coverage but that has not helped to reduce the crime rate. Against a total of 706 sex crimes in Delhi in the whole of 2012, as many as 806 were reported in the first six months of this year.

Currently public attention is focused on a complaint by a young journalist of Tehelka that her powerful editor-in-chief, Tarun Tejpal, had sexually assaulted her when they were both in Goa recently for an event hosted by the magazine. The case has raised questions about goings-on in the corporate world in general and the media in particular.

In the absence of a specific law to deal with sexual harassment at the workplace, the Supreme Court, in a 1997 judgment, had laid down certain guidelines based on the provisions of the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), an international document India had signed and ratified. These guidelines required all authorities, public and private, to set up committees, which include women and representatives of non-government organisations, to receive and investigate complaints of sexual harassment.

Early this year Parliament enacted a law incorporating the court’s guidelines. It defines sexual harassment so widely as to include any unwelcome act or behaviour towards a woman like physical contact or advance, seeking sexual favours, showing pornography and creating hostile work environment or posing a threat to her employment status.

When a young law intern, in a blog, revealed that a Supreme Court judge had sexually harassed her about a year ago, it came to light that the apex court itself had failed to set up a complaints committee.

Tehelka took the first step towards the formation of a complaints committee immediately after the Goa incident in an obvious attempt to settle the matter internally with Tejpal tendering an apology to the woman for his conduct and stepping down from the top post for six months. The Editors Guild of India frowned upon the move, saying Tejpal could not be his own judge.

The in-house settlement plan has collapsed with the Goa police launching an investigation, invoking the new law which makes sexual assault a cognisable offence, and dispatching a team to New Delhi to interrogate Tejpal and possibly arrest him. During the weekend it took the testimony of Managing Director Shoma Chaudhuri, to whom Tejpal had handed over charge of the magazine. The police is also said to be examining whether she attempted to cover up the scandal.

Since the cause of action took place in Goa, the state police is the competent authority to handle the case. However, since the Bharatiya Janata Party rules the state there is ground to suspect political motivation. The BJP was the target of two major sting operations conducted by Tehelka, which has a firm reputation for investigative journalism.

In 2001, soon after its launch as a portal, Tehelka came out with videotapes showing Bangaru Laxman, then BJP president, and Jaya Jaitley, president of Samata Party, the BJP’s partner in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government, accepting money from its reporters, who, posing as arms dealers, had offered them bribes to secure defence contracts. Laxman had to resign the party post. Last year a trial court sentenced him to four years in jail.

In 2007, Tehelka released secretly recorded conversations in which some leaders of the BJP and other Hindutva outfits spoke of their role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“Fallen Heroes: the Betrayal of a Nation” was the title under which Tehelka published its very first investigative story, which exposed a cricket match-fixing scandal. It led to then Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin’s lifetime ban from the game. In 2009, Azharuddin was elected to the Lok Sabha on the Congress ticket from Uttar Pradesh. Last year the Andhra Pradesh high court quashed the ban imposed on him.

Tejpal, whom The Guardian once identified as a member of India’s new elite, has now joined the ranks of fallen heroes. He had worked with India Today and Outlook before founding Tehelka, with Nobel laureate VS Naipaul, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and writer Khushwant Singh as non-executive members of the board of directors. Three years ago the India chapter of the International Press Institute presented him with an award for excellence in journalism.

The possibility of a just resolution of the matter appears to be slim. The complainant has already resigned her job. Some of her colleagues too have quit in protest against Tejpal’s conduct. Whether or not the scandal ruins the magazine and draws the curtain on Tejpal’s journalistic career, he may have a future as a writer. He is the author of three novels, one of which was nominated for the Literary Review’s Bad Sex Award given for “the worst description of sex scene”. --Gulf Today, Sharjah, November 26, 2013.

19 November, 2013

The Mujahideen story

BRP Bhaskar
The Indian Mujahideen story is getting curiouser and curiouser. Five years after its name surfaced and three years after the government banned it, the outfit remains somewhat enigmatic.

The name appeared first in e-mails which some media houses received in 2008 owning responsibility for serial blasts that had rocked Jaipur two days earlier. Across the country there were several more blasts that year, and similar e-mails followed. Investigating agencies now say the outfit came into being five years earlier.

According to Ashish Khetan, an investigative journalist with a creditable record, there is an overwhelming body of evidence in the records of official agencies to show that a group of Muslim extremists, who styled themselves as Indian Mujahideen, had bombed temples, trains and marketplaces in different places between 2003 and 2008 and that the police implicated innocent Muslims in the incidents.

Soon after the IM’s existence became known, official agencies identified its leaders as former cadres of the Students Islamic Movement of India, which had once attracted critical attention by raising the slogan “India’s liberation through Islam”. They were active in the protests against the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.

SIMI was among several organisations banned in the wake of the bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

Writing in 2008, Praveen Swami, a journalist who has extensively purveyed material furnished by intelligence agencies, said SIMI’s preparations for IM activities began with two jihad training camps, one in Kerala in December 2007 and the other in Gujarat in January 2008.

In a background paper prepared for the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in 2009, Namrata Goswami said the IM leadership was mainly traced to Abdul Subhan Usman Qureshi with the code name Kasim or Al Arbi, who had sent e-mails to the media about blasts. However, officials later identified Mohammad Ahmad Zarar Siddibapa alias Yasin Bhatkal as one of its founders and the mastermind behind its bombings.

Yasin Bhatkal was arrested last August as he arrived from Pakistan via Kathmandu. After his interrogation, official agencies fed to the media more material on the IM’s origin and activities.

Swami now pushed back the IM’s formation to the period immediately after the Gujarat riots and identified a building in Mumbai as its birthplace. He summed up the mood of its founders in these words: “They were all angry, very angry, about the 2002 communal violence — and swore vengeance.”

His report also said the IM members met for the first time at Jolly Beach at Bhatkal in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, hometown of Yasin Bhatkal, and conducted experiments with explosives. “Many of the men at Jolly Beach have since been arrested and some killed,” he added, but, all the top commanders, barring Muhammad Atif Amin, whom the Delhi police killed in the controversial 2008 Batla House encounter, are still at their stations.

According to Swami’s account, in the post-Gujarat period the group mobilised small communal flare-ups in and around Bhatkal, leading to the murder of Thimmappa Naik, Bharatiya Janata Party MLA, in 2004. Local reports of the period, however, had blamed the killing on the Congress. When the BJP was in power in the state, its members staged demonstrations demanding the arrest of Naik’s killers.

The contradictions in the published material about the IM point to lack of clarity in the assessments of official agencies. Information provided by them has given the IM a larger-than-life image. Many people have voiced doubts over their accounts and some have insinuated that the IM is a phantom created by intelligence agencies.

The blasts at the famed Buddha shrine at Gaya last July and at the venue of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s Patna meeting last month are the latest bombings attributed to the IM.

Last week the IM story took a queer turn with the arrest of half a dozen Hindu youths of Bihar and Jharkhand, some of whom allegedly maintained contacts with Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence through mobile phones. A Bihar police official suggested the IM may be using Hindu youths but the National Investigation Agency said the arrests were related to terror financing and not to the Patna blasts.

Reported confessions by arrested IM operatives that they organised the 2003 Mumbai train blasts and the 2010 German Bakery blast in Pune indicate that those who were or are being prosecuted in connection with them may have had only a minor role in them, if at all.--Gulf Today, Sharjah, November 19, 2013.

16 November, 2013

Supreme Court fails to follow the law it laid down

Sixteen years ago the Supreme Court of India, observing that it is necessary and expedient for employers in work places as well as other responsible persons or institutions to observe certain guidelines to ensure the prevention of sexual harassment of women, laid down certain norms and procedures in a landmark judgment.

The court said, “It shall be the duty of the employer or other responsible persons in work places or other institutions to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts, of sexual harassment by taking all steps required.”

It mentioned five acts – physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography, any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature – and added that where any of them is committed in circumstances whereunder the victim has a reasonable apprehension that in relation to her employment or work, whether she is drawing salary, or honorarium or voluntary, whether in government, public or private enterprise, such conduct can be humiliating and may constitute a health and safety problem.

It proposed the creation of an appropriate complaint mechanism in the organization for redress of the complaint made by the victim on a time-bound basis.   

Specifically, it suggested the formation of a Complaints Committee which will be headed by a woman and of which not less than half the members should be women. To prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence from senior levels, such Complaints Committee should also involve a third party, either NGO or other body who is familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.

The sexual harassment incident disclosed recently by a young woman in the Journal of Indian Law and Society shows that the Supreme Court itself has failed to establish a mechanism of the kind outlined in the celebrated judgment.

12 November, 2013

A hyped poll exercise

BRP Bhaskar
Gulf Today

Assembly elections in five states, which the media has described as a semi-final or dress rehearsal for the 2014 parliamentary polls, have just begun.

Figuring in the four-week poll calendar are the Hindi-speaking heartland states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi and the tribal northeastern state of Mizoram. Voting, which takes place in five phases, began on Monday and will end on December 4. Counting of votes in all the states is scheduled for December 8.

The four Hindi states have traditionally witnessed virtual direct fights between the Congress, which heads the present government at the centre, and the Bharatiya Janata Party, its main challenger in the coming parliamentary elections. However, the description of these elections as a semi-final or dress rehearsal for the Lok Sabha elections is far-fetched.

For one, only five of the 25 states are involved in the current exercise. Although on a few occasions — as, for instance, in the 1977 elections in which Indira Gandhi’s Emergency regime was ousted and the 1980 elections in which the first non-Congress government at the centre was thrown out — the people have voted like one man, the political landscape differs widely even among the Hindi states.

For another, voters often approach national and state elections differently. They take into account the fact that in the parliamentary elections they are deciding who should rule at the centre and in the assembly elections they are deciding who should rule the state.

The BJP had retained control of Chhattisgarh in 2008 with a convincing majority in the assembly. However, its vote share was only 40.39 per cent, and the Congress was close on its heels with 39.88 per cent. In MP, it had a comfortable lead with 38.09 per cent of the votes as against the Congress party’s 32.85 per cent.

The Congress was the winner in Delhi state and Rajasthan in 2008. In Delhi, the Congress polled 40.31 per cent of the votes and the BJP 36.84 per cent. In Rajasthan, they polled 36.92 per cent and 35.60 per cent respectively.

In all the four, the BSP was a small but significant factor, with its share of votes ranging from 6.12 per cent in Chhattisgarh to 14.05 per cent in Delhi. Whether that party has registered any growth in these states since then and, if so, at whose cost are questions for which answers are not readily available.

With corruption charges seriously denting the image of the central government, the Congress is finding the going tough in all the states. In Delhi state, where it has been in power continuously since 1998, and in Rajasthan, where it is completing a five-year term, it has also to contend with the anti-incumbency factor. The BJP expects the whirlwind campaign by its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, and the Congress party’s image problem to help it overcome the anti-incumbency factor in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where it has been in power for a decade.

Opinion polls have forecast BJP victory in all states except Delhi, where a hung assembly may give the fledgling Aam Admi Party of anti-corruption campaigner Arvind Kejriwal the opportunity to decide who should form the government. While this has raised the BJP’s morale, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s decision to contest from two constituencies indicates that the party is not as confident as is assumed.

Both the Congress and the BJP are facing dissensions with leaders dissatisfied with allocation of party tickets raising the banner of revolt. Judging by experience, rebels who win the elections may help the parent party if it falls short of a majority.

A good performance by the BJP in the four states is sure to give Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial candidature a boost. Yet, it will be foolhardy to assume that the outcome of these assembly elections is a reliable indicator of the shape of the next national government.

The four states together have only 62 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. The largest Hindi states, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which together command 120 seats in the house, present a totally different picture from these states. In UP, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party were way ahead of both the Congress and the BJP in the last parliamentary and state elections, and in Bihar the Janata Dal (United) led all the rest.-- Gulf Today, Sharjah, November 12, 2013.

05 November, 2013

CHOGM dilemma

BRP Bhaskar
Gulf Today

To go or not to go, that is the question before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo approaches. 

India has been an active participant in the Commonwealth of Nations, a grouping of Britain and its former colonies, since its formation in 1949. In fact, it was India’s readiness to be associated with the former colonial power which made the grouping possible.

Since 1971, CHOGM has become institutionalised as a summit held once in two years in the different member countries by turns. Beginning 1977 the host country has set a theme for each meeting.  The theme selected by Sri Lanka for this year’s meeting is “Growth with Equity; Inclusive Development,” a subject of great relevance to India.

Manmohan Singh’s dilemma arises from the vociferous opposition of the government and major political parties of Tamil Nadu to his visiting Sri Lanka when the island’s Sinhalese-dominated government pursues a discriminative policy towards the Tamil minority.

Last month the Tamil Nadu state assembly passed a resolution, moved by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, demanding that India boycott CHOGM and seek Sri Lanka’s suspension from the group until it grants equal status to the Tamils.  All parties, including the Congress, which heads the government at the Centre, voted for the resolution.

With parliamentary elections due early next year, the state’s parties are engaged in a competition to emerge as the greatest champions of Tamil interests. Jayalalithaa has been pursuing the issue with the Centre since March when she wrote to Manmohan Singh asking that he work for shifting the CHOGM venue.

State legislatures have no role in matters of foreign policy. Yet the Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed resolutions on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue on three occasions. Although the problem has not generated much interest outside the state successive central governments have taken note of Tamil sentiments and intervened on behalf of the island’s ethnic minority.

Video recordings which surfaced recently have yielded conclusive evidence of gross human rights violations by the Sri Lankan army during its successful campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which had posed a violent challenge for three decades. Apart from LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, his teenage son and several mediapersons, at least one of them, a woman, were murdered in cold blood after being caught alive.

In a report to the UN Human Rights Council five weeks ago, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noted that the Sri Lankan government was evading an international inquiry into the rights violations and stressed the need for an independent investigation of the alleged war crimes.

Several human rights groups and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in foreign lands have called upon Commonwealth members to boycott the Colombo CHOGM. So far only Canada has responded favourably. Its prime minister, Stephen Harper, has decided to stay away and send a representative instead.

Jayalalithaa has said it is unfortunate that India with 80 million Tamils has not acted with the same determination as Canada which has only a small Tamil population. She deliberately glosses over the fact that, unlike Canada, India has much at stake in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka received tactical support from India and weapons from China in the last stages of the war against LTTE. Coinciding with the cooling in the relations with India, which had been pressuring it since the end of the war to take political measures to meet Tamil aspirations, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expanded ties with China. 

So far China has committed about $4 billion for infrastructure development in Sri Lanka. Its contributions include a $500 million container terminal which was commissioned in August and a $292 million airport highway which was opened last week. Work on a $272 million railway project has just begun. 

After India voted against Sri Lanka on a US-sponsored resolution in the Human Rights Council, the Rajapaksa administration announced it would renegotiate the 2003 agreement with India with regard to the use of oil storage tanks.

Yielding to Indian pressure, Sri Lanka held elections in the Tamil regions, and a provincial government headed by CV Vigneswaran, a former judge, has taken office. He finds himself in the unenviable position of being disliked by both the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority. Manmohan Singh still has more than a week to make up his mind as the actual meeting of heads of government will begin only on November 15. Such influence as New Delhi has over Colombo will be in jeopardy if he stays away from CHOGM. -- Gulf Today, November 5, 2013.

01 November, 2013

Sardar Statue not for Unity but for Polity of Falsehood, says NAPM

The following is a statement issued by the National Alliance of People's Movements:

Mr. Narendra Modi’s speech at the Sardar Patel Statue, next to Sardar Sarovar Dam in the downstream today was a piece as much of fully false claims as there have always been over the Sardar Sarovar Project. Mr. Modi did not care to speak on Sardar Patel’s heritage and contribution to the freedom and farmers’ movements and this was obvious from the fact that he referred to this day, not as the birth but death anniversary of the Sardar! May one call it a lie or a lapse, it indicates how much important was and is Sardar Patel in Modi’s politics, based on opportunist strategy, illegally pushing the Dam ahead in an utterly filmy and heroic way.

  • Modi made a number of claims related to the Project, however, every one of it is false as is known to those following the history to the present, as also the anticipated future of this Project. First and foremost the claim that rehabilitation of all the affected families is completed and that the Grievance Redressal Authorities in all the three states headed by Retired Judges have given ‘clearance’ is an utter lie, since there are not less than 50,000 families yet to be rehabilitated, as anyone visiting the densely populated village communities, or even the resettlement sites in Maharashtra and M.P can realize.
  • Hundreds of families in Gujarat too are awaiting declaration as ‘oustees’ and allotment or change of allotted land. Without having visited the affected villages in the valley, he would not know about the illegal submergence of thousands of hecatres of land, standing crop and a few thousand houses, and 1,000 crore worth corruption in rehabilitation in his own party led state of Madhya Pradesh, which is under inquiry by a High Court appointed Justice Jha Commission, since 5 years.
  • Will the Gujarat Government have guts to pressurize the UPA Govt. to give ‘clearance’ by law and Supreme Court’s judgements and drowning not less than 2.5 lakh people in their houses, farms and villages, best of agriculture and horticulture, hundreds of temples, mosques, cultural monuments, schools, dispensaries, shops and markets, millions of trees etc. turning the Narmada Valley into another Uttarakhand ?
  • The people from the resettlement sites in Gujarat are more upright and honest, to ask, when they have given ‘lahu’ (blood), why should they give ‘loha’ (steel)? They almost boycotted the statue inauguration function and the reports indicate that free vehicles that were sent to get the villages had to return empty to the programme site! Mr. Modi’s claim that clearance has been granted by the R&R Sub Group (of Narmada Control Authority), which no one else but he and us would understand is also not true, as we are told by the concerned officials of the Central Ministry of Social Justice recently..The Gujarat - M.P. political nexus is no doubt trying to pressurize and cull out such a clearance, which no authority with a legal mandate can subject itself to. If they do, not Mr. Modi, but they would be liable to legal action, for committing an offence, which they very well know. The Centre has, in fact, both a duty and opportunity to initiate a comprehensive cost-benefit review by the Planning Commission and other stakeholders.
  • Modi’s claim for credit, for maximum investment into the Project during his 10 year tenure than any other Govt. is an attempt to conceal the fact that the Central Govt. gave, unfortunately, without the Ministries and Planning Commission playing their monitoring role, under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme, maximum assistance to SSP (almost Rs. 5700 crore rupees) between 1996 and 2008, amounting to almost 20% of the total country level release of funds. CAG’s Reports have also brought out diversion of central funds granted for drought prone areas to the canals, which were covered under not one, but different assistance projects, leading to double accounting and false reporting.
  • Mr. Modi boasted of Kutchis weighing him with silver, with a great hope that Kutch would get its share in Narmada waters. However, he did not reveal to the ignorant masses that the Kutchi’s who had to approach the Supreme Court for their rightful share in Narmada waters, which they haven’t got, in spite of the legal battle. Neither Saurashtra nor Rajasthan is satisfied with miniscule of water allocation, not satiating their thirst, but allocated to the industries with primacy. They are indeed being cheated, as the dam is being built in their name, while more than the allocated share of water is diverted to the corporates, along with land in Gujarat.
  • Mr. Modi is actually shedding crocodile tears, while claiming that more water is required for the parched earth, cattle and trees affected by drought in Gujarat and Rajasthan, since his government has de-notified any where upto 4 lakh hectares of the command area land that is excluded from irrigation and reserved for the corporates. Gujarat has also not built minor and sub-minor canal network and field channels beyond 30%, resulting in non-utilization of the available capacity, upto few lakh hecatres. It has, on the other hand, allocated to the industries, a much larger share that what is given for the rural area and townships, while the first preference is given to the non-drought prone cities of Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad and Vadodara. The Chief Ministers’ hollow sympathy to the cattle grazers in Gujarat does not get vindicated when one sees the intense agitation of the grazers community going on in Gujarat.
  • This time, changing his own earlier statement, Mr. Modi claimed that Maharashtra (not M.P. this time) is to get power from Sardar sarovar at a cheaper rate, which would save Rs. 400 crores. This too is untrue since both Maharashtra and M.P. are paying due share of capital investment and unit cost of power as decided by the Central Electricity Regulatory Authority. The tarrif as on date is Rs. 2.10 per unit and is likely to go anywhere upto Rs. 4 per unit. With 30,000 + hectares of land and Narmada river itself being sacrificed with the lives of and livelihoods of lakhs of adivasis, farmers and other oustees, a lie repeated cannot turn into truth.
  • While making a mockery of the legal procedure that everyone including the Modi Govt. is bound to follow, before claiming its right to build the dam from the present 122 mts to the final height of 138.68 mts or even to raise the pillars and erect the gates (17 mts high). Mr. Modi did not show any honesty that was the tradition of all the patriotic politicians he referred to, Sardar Patel, Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, in the same sequence.
  • The facts are dispersed in umpteen number of reports of various official Committees and Commissions that have assessed the Dam Project, concluding violation of conditions in the environmental clearance granted in the 1987, Planning Commission clearance granted in 1988, violation of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award and multiple Judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The ground reality confirms the same and hence, in spite of megalomaniac strategies of the Modi Government, the clearance cannot be granted unless every family is rehabilitated with alternative land or livelihood and every tree is compensated for.
  • Forgetting the adivasis in the 6 villages of Gujarat, whose land were grabbed for the Project and its colony, yet to be rehabilitated, Modi Govt. has tried to push in the Kevadia Area Development Authority, on the lands belonging to 70 villages, around the Dam for the sake of tourism and urbanization. It is the determination of the adivasi Panchayats, following the PESA Act, which his Government violated in toto that seems to have made the Modi Govt. submit or bow down and not bow down, as apparent from the fact that he did not refer to KADA, but rather declared the decision to form a new Tehsil, Garudeshwar, in the district of Narmada.
  • The CM, also announced few sops including water to the tribal areas around the Dam, as speaking orders that are baseless without change in the Plans and necessary clearances. However, by not permitting a peaceful fast by the representatives of adivasi villages, along with senior activists, Rohit Prajapati, Lakhan Musafir, Trupti Shah and others, with the local leaders, the Government has, do doubt, expressed its cowardice even in the face of a peaceful protest.
  • Sardar Patel’, if and when, it will be completed, will look beyond the Dam, as the statue is to be at least 80 metres higher than the Dam. No doubt, Sardar will see the destruction and devastation caused by the Dam and borne by the farmers, whom he loved and organized, against paying the unjust tax, during the British rule. The Project, to be pushed in the name of the farmer leader that could once abolish the princely states, only to benefit the present vote bank politics, supporting the new princely states of the Ambanis and Adanis will no doubt be historic, but not in support of either the destructive SSP or Modi-mode of development.
People of the valley, beyond party lines and truly united beyond caste and religious diversity who have fought the Dam and its destruction for 28 years will challenge the parties and their candidates in the upcoming elections and continue to struggle for their right to life and no unconstitutional push to the Dam, with the statue of Mr. Modi’s dream.

Medha Patkar,   Devram Kanera,   Meera

Ph: 09423965153 / 09179148973