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February 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.    Wishing You All a Happy New Year.       February 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:January' 2018

FRANKLY SPEAKING

Why politics of confrontation ?

Just let CBI be independent!

Mamata Banerjee at her dharna in Kolkata

Hari Jaisingh

CBI officials being detained after they attempted to raid Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s home In the last chapter of my book “Pitfalls of Indian Democracy: Bapu to Anna” (UBS Publications), my focus is on Young India’s Power wherein I have reminded the country’s powers-that-be:
“We are a great nation, inheriting an ancient civilization. We cannot settle for a second place in the comity of nations. Look into the eyes of our youngsters. They have a lot to convey about their hopes and aspirations. We cannot throttle their revolutionary impulses for change and reforms for a corruption-free, transparent and accountable system of governance for improving the life of all citizens and ensuring safety and honour of women and children”.

I was then impressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s thundering declaration on Change India and hoped that he would translate his words uttered during and after the 2014 election campaign into a concrete plan of action for Change India, taking all sections of people along with him to build a better tomorrow. But , towards the end of his five-year term in office, I feel disappointed. His overall performance track record speaks for itself.

It is a pity that PM Modi has thrived mainly on his rhetoric and promises.

Narendra Modi seems to have lost the track of his promise for jobs for young Indians, even to educated professionals. He never admitted the failure of his “dream plan of demonetization” which played havoc with the employment prospects of both rural and urban youth. As for the education system, the less said the better. Equally, what has bothered me is the way he has played with our democratic institutions and related areas of the federal system.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sitting on her 'Save the Constitution' dharna after the CBI raids Kolkata Police Commissioner's residence in Kolkata. Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar (L) is also seen. Like Indira Gandhi of the preEmergency years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to throw the old institutional order out of gear. At the same time, he has not been able to replace it by a futuristic structure. In fact, he has virtually overlooked institutional traditions as well as functional political norms by his increasingly personalised politics. What a pity!
My idea of the Indian model for good governance is to create a unified functional and responsive system which has to be sensitive to the existing social and economic realities of our highly dispersed and decentralized society.
My idea is to build a sustainable model of good governance which would strengthen the concept of “Cooperative Federalism”. PM Modi had once talked about it passionately. Unfortunately, much stress has been placed on personalized leadership and too little on institutions and their integrity, credibility and functional autonomy. Small wonder that this has led to a sharp erosion of the state apparatus.

My idea of the Indian model for good governance is to create a unified functional and responsive system sensitive to the existing social and economic realities of our highly dispersed and decentralized societ.

Jobless youth march to protest Indian 'unemployment crisis'

This has also given rise to arbitrariness and highly partisan and reckless interventions by the Sangh Parivar’s political upstarts. I don’t have to repeat instances in this regard. Knowledgeable persons understand what is what and who has treated power as a means of personal aggrandizement and as an instrument of patronage. In this setting, the polity, understandably, gets petrified.

So, any claim to the loyalty and commitment to the vital instruments of governance only invites indignation from those in power!

This institutional erosion in the face of massive challenges facing the authorities and rising expectations of the people has thrown up the basic crisis that the country is faced with today. It is a different matter that those in power won’t admit it.

I have nothing personally against Narendra Modi. In fact, I have always wished him well and success in his endeavours. My professional job as a journalist and author is to look at men, matters and issues objectively and in a larger national perspective.

I do not propose to go into nittygritty of what Narendra Modi had promised and what he has achieved. He surely has some plus and minus points in achievements.

However, my major point of concern is of saving democratic institutions and our secular tradition that has always permitted considerable ideological fluidity.

Regrettably, what has of late disturbed me is the politics of confrontation being played by the central government vis-à-vis non-BJP states, with an eye on the 2019 poll. PM Modi and his colleague from Gujarat Amit Shah are playing games to outmanoeuvre opposition parties and their leaders to win the 2019 poll by hook or by crook even if this goes against the spirit of federalism.

Take the case of popular firebrand grassroots West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. I am not going into the merit or demerit of the CBI operation since the chit fund matter is before the Supreme Court. It has given its verdict and Mamata Banerjee has said that she would honour the apex court’s words and that the State Police Commissioner would meet the CBI team in Shillong for an “investigation”. Mamata calls the court’s verdict as her “moral victory”. Even the Central government sees this as its “moral victory”. So far so good.

We know who is corrupt and who is not, both in the Opposition as well as in the present establishment. The air of secrecy has to end. Secretiveness is the antithesis of democracy. The tendency today is to talk big and do little. Political and social leaders today do not practise what they preach. On the contrary, they do precisely the opposite of what they preach.

However, I wish to make one simple point that PM Modi has gone back on his words that he would create an edifice of “Cooperative Federalism”. Today, he seems to be going against the very spirit of India’s federal system as enshrined in the Constitution.

It may be recalled that the Supreme Court on 8 May 2013 had slammed the country’s premier investigative agency (CBI) for being a “caged parrot” and “his master’s voice”, thereby failing to show spine. It also ticked off the UPA government then for “changing the heart” of the CBI’s status report on Coalgate.

It added that the CBI had ceased to be a professional and nonpartisan outfit. The apex court then wanted it to be made an independent organization with its “functional autonomy”. But then, who cares?

Has the CBI undergone any change in its functioning ? Certainly not. A series of recent developments show that India’s top investigative agency continues to be a “caged parrot” and “his master’s voice”!

In the CBI’s move against the West Bengal Police Commissioner, the agency could have acted differently, keeping in view the sensitivities of the state-run organisations.

The Saradha chit fund and Rose Valley scams must be probed thoroughly and guilty persons punished since the poor investors have suffered most.

However, the whole episode acquired political twists. The BJP establishment apparently wanted to “fix up” the Mamata Banerjee government for showing extra guts to stand up to it. Before the CBI team landed in Kolkata, PM Modi and BJP Chief Amit Shah hand stepped up their political activities in West Bengal. On February 2 PM Modi addressed a big crowd in Thakurnagar of North 24 Pargana district. Their target is to throw out the Mamata government. I know this is an election time where political etiquettes are not followed. No wonder, the entire game in Kolkata goings-on has acquired political overtones of the chit fund scam and what not.

Well, we know who is corrupt and who is not, both in the Opposition as well as in the present establishment in the on-going air of secrecy which has to end. Secretiveness is the antithesis of democracy.

Regrettably, the tendency today is to talk big and do little. Political and social leaders today do not practise what they preach. On the contrary, they do precisely the opposite of what they preach. Herein lies the tragedy of Democratic India!

Mercifully, the Kolkata standoff has ended, thanks to the sensible handling of a highly sensitive Centre-State explosive issue concerning the working of India’s federal norms as enshrined in the Constitution. But it does not seem to be the end of it all. The evolving scenario needs to be watched closely.