Spoken at will, words return to haunt at leisure.
There is a familiar ring around chief minister Mamata Bannerjee’s blistering attack on the BJP-led NDA government at the centre on misuse of CBI against the interests of West Bengal. Also, there is the instance of finance minister Arun Jaitley slamming the West Bengal government for its harsh criticism of the centre. And, again, there's the BJP president Amit Shah’s frontal assault, saying Saradha scam money funded Burdwan blasts and that Mamata was blocking the NIA probe. And then, yet again, the BJP, on December 7, attacked the lady for keeping away from the CMs’ meet convened by the Prime Minister.
And, so it goes on…
Was it very long ago that our three honourable worthies—Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah—were mouthing from Gujarat what’s today ‘Mamataspeak’ from West Bengal?.
For over a decade, the then Chief Minister Modi, his Rajya Sabha MP from the state, Arun Jaitley, and the minister of state for home, Amit Shah, were blasting Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh and their Congress- led UPA government at the centre for conspiring against Gujarat and for the use of the CBI to fulfil their nefarious designs. Right from the point Modi took charge as CM in 2001, it was the ‘asmita’ of Gujarat and its five crore Gujaratis, that he alleged, was under attack from a Congress-led centre. A first time CM, he even found historical parallels for it. The mythical Nehru-Patel rivalry was linked to the injustice done on Gujarat, a la Sardar Patel missing the bus as far as becoming the prime minister was concerned. The Nehru lineage was opposed to Gujarat, so implied the thesis propounded by the Modi government.
Every demand turned down by the centre was attributed to this lone reason. The Congress- ruled centre could do no right and the Modi- ruled Gujarat no wrong. That was until India elected Modi as the Prime Minister. It is now the turn of non-BJP ruled states to yell ‘bloody murder’, and the turn of the Modi- led centre to castigate them for crying ‘wolf’. How things change and yet remain the same! But for the role reversal, even the sentences being mouthed by the various central characters—whether in the states or at the centre—remain the same!
Familiarity may breed contempt, but similarity ‘seeds’ comparisons. The cleanliness drive and the Prime Minister’s call to MPs to adopt villages has received a tremendous response. And rightly so. The first person to initiate such a programme, however, was the first BJP chief minister of Gujarat, Keshubhai Patel. The scheme undertaken in right earnest was termed ‘Gokul gram yojna’. This scheme for all-round village development, was however, shelved after Modi took over as CM. Instead, it was replaced by a “samras” gram scheme. The scheme was so planned that the village which chose to unanimously elect its governing body was marked out for incentives. Goes without saying, that it was the saffron-fold they veered round for the slew of incentives that awaited them, thereafter paving the way for the saffron consolidation in the state. That was the politics underlying the presumptive generosity. Thus the village adoption scheme propounded by the Prime Minister has its seeds sown here. Aren’t many UPA flagship programmes undergoing similar metamorphosis under the present NDA government?
Was it not in similar vein that Gujarat, under Modi, refused to part with its lions for neighbouring Madhya Pradesh?. Several national authorities had recommended an alternative home for the Asiatic lions housed in Sasan Gir in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The plea for an alternative abode for this lone sub-specie in the globe was based on the premise that the possibility of it being wiped out by an epidemic cannot be ruled out. Modi, however, was adamant. He fought all the way to the Supreme Court and lost and continued to lose all manner of appeals before the apex court even thereafter.
Now what? The law has ruled in favour of Gujarat parting with a few of their lions in national interest. Will Modi, now the country’s Prime Minister, respect and comply or will personal pique get the better of him?
Another example. Chief minister Modi’s government piloted the Gujarat Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Laws (Amendment) Bill 2011 through the state legislature but the then Governor Kamala Beniwal rejected it on grounds of constitutional validity. For this—as for others—she faced the music from the then chief minister. Now the shoe is on the other foot and the wearer’s reaction is the same as the previous one. Prime Minister Modi’s government on November 20, 2014 has also sent back Chief Minister Modi’s land bill, which seeks to ease restrictions on conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural for projects of public interest seeking clarifications! As in these cases so in lot many others, justice largely emerged from the judicial system with invariably every perceived state misdemeanour ending up in the lap of the Supreme Court.
The 2002 communal riot cases, almost all of them, were shoddily investigated and buried until the Supreme Court set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT). The fake encounter cases and there were piles of them—Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Ishrat Jahan, Tulsiram Prajapati, Jamal Mehtar— and many more, all of them investigated by the CBI under court orders led to a DGP, DIGs, SPs, even two ministers including Amit Shah landing up behind bars. Modi had then launched a high decibel campaign charging the ‘Sonia’ government with targeting Gujarat through the CBI (the ‘Congress Bureau of Investigations’ he called it ). Now? Is it a mere coincidence that after a change in the ruling party at the centre, almost all the tops cops who were behind bars in fake encounter cases are out on bail and back on job. And almost all in better positions than they previously held! The CBI, however, remains the same. Was it being manipulated then or is it being manipulated now/ Or, of course, both? If so, then what is the promised change for clean, good governance? Maybe time will tell, for truth emerges more readily from error than from confusion.