|Tuesday, January 18, 2000,
slides into dark
& THE TIBETAN QUESTION
diplomat with a difference
polls: dual battle of allies
January 18, 1925
UP slides into dark
NOT all of India has marched into the new knowledge and technology-driven millennium. One big part, UP, has instead slid back to an earlier age when there was no electricity and piped water supply was a distant dream. The long-suffering people of the state have to thank the government and the trade unions of the power plants for their plight of cold days and dark shivering nights. The provocation for the strike is difficult to understand. The engineers and workers say they are opposed to the three-way division of the state electricity board to manage hydel and thermal generation and distribution. They fear that there would be loss of jobs and this can be the first step towards privatisation. A hidden factor is the perception that their Minister, Mr Naresh Agarwal, leader of the Loktantrik Congress, is authoritarian in outlook and is needlessly impatient and brusque. While their stated objections are too ridiculous to merit even a minutes consideration, their assessment of the political master has a large grain of truth. He did not consult them, nor did he send for them to talk things over even after they threatened direct action. Logic and the experience of neighbouring Haryana are on his side and he could be open-minded and accommodating. He could well have sent a small delegation of engineers and employees to both Haryana and Andhra Pradesh to see for themselves how safe and painless is corporatisation. But then that is not his style and the employees had to carry out their ill-thoughtout threat and plunge a major part of the state in darkness. UP has a long tradition of stretched-out strikes and government crackdown as was the case with school teachers last year. It is living that nightmare all over again in the coldest month of the year.
Having begun the work
stoppage, the employees are behaving like a fighting
army. Daily bulletins are issued to claim victory and
disclose casualties on the other side. On Sunday the
people were told that five of the six power plants had
been successfully captured or shut down,
generation pushed down to a miserable 450 MW, which is a
fraction of the daily demand, large parts brought under
the powerless shroud, and nearly 6000 strikers have been
arrested. A pretty good showing on the very second day of
the war! The government is not lagging behind
either. It has sent for reinforcements from the Army and
central electricity organisations. It runs one plant with
the help of the NTPC, which built it only recently. It
has threatened to transfer the plant on a permanent
basis. It has also issued an ultimatum surrender
by Tuesday or else. Both sides are parading a mindset
that rightly belongs to the dark age. Economic reforms,
globalisation and all the rest of the dramatic changes
have passed them by. Electricity is a basic necessity
these days like food or air. And two mighty forces
the nearly one lakh strong engineers and other workers
and the state government have joined hand to deny
this energy to helpless people. When will a commitment to
the welfare of the people guide them, instead of both
getting lost in shapeless fears and ego hassles? Even
those fiercely opposed to the invocation of Article 356
will fervently hope that the only exception will be to
dismiss a government that cannot provide electricity and
water to its people for whatever reason. The reality of
the new century demands a drastically reformed approach
to work and administration.
Links in a dubious chain
PAKISTAN has stepped up its anti-India activity in several ways. One would like to convey to Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah a word of genuine appreciation for stating in anguish and anger in Chandigarh the other day: We show a lack of guts in dealing firmly with the hostile neighbour... We can begin with the latest instance of unfriendliness and cowardice of Islamabad. Mr P. Moses, an officer at the Indian High Commission, was assaulted on Monday (January 17) and falsely accused of trying to deliver an explosive device and some money "to unknown persons". The imaginary items were, according to Pakistani officials, to be used for a blast in the busy Raja Bazar market in Rawalpindi. Mr Moses was shown with his bruised face on the state-run Pakistan Television. The Indian High Commission was not informed about the concocted incident. Electronic media bulletins with self-falsifying commentaries were the sole source of intimation of the torture of his staff member for the acting High Commissioner, Mr Sudhir Vyas. The crude act does not lose its inhuman and impolitic sting just because the victim has been now released. It is needless to invoke the Vienna Convention and the acknowledged bilateral code of conduct for the treatment of diplomatic or consular personnel. That this incident was a reaction to the timely detection of a 500-rupee fake currency note sent to a school in New Delhi by a Pakistani official as part of the fee of his ward is a well-known fact. The scale and extent of the large-scale printing and distribution of Indian currency notes of high denomination by Pakistan were noticed in Kathmandu causing much embarrassment to the mountain kingdom which has, unfortunately, become a major transit point for drug, currency and arms smuggling.
The facts are known.
There is a counterfeit Indian note-printing factory in
Peshawar which operates under the supervision of the
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) set-up. Fake notes have
flooded the Indian market and posed a grave threat to the
economy, besides giving a financial boost to terrorism.
This racket has to be ended by printing high-quality
currency bills which, like the dollar bills, cannot be
technologically forged with ease. The Reserve Bank of
India can find alternative non-metal-currency modes and
withdraw the deceitfully photocopiable or duplicated
notes from circulation. But this step will not cure the
mindset malady. What about the black deeds of ISI agents
detected earlier in the Model Town area of Delhi? What
about the assault on a senior diplomat in a busy
marketplace in Islamabad? Have we forgotten the treatment
meted out to Mr Rajesh Mittal and Mr D.P. Shrivastava,
also senior diplomats, on earlier occasions? There is no
difference in the bizarre and undiplomatic conduct of
Pakistan during the rule of Mrs Benazir Bhutto and Mr
Nawaz Sharif, and in that of General Musharraf. Pakistani
rulers have made diplomatic courtesy a one-way street
which begins and ends in India. We must not allow our
economy to be sabotaged after witnessing unending
terrorist acts and intelligence failures from Kargil to
Amritsar. It would be better to prove that we have guts
and gumption by using these in time. Pakistan has widened
the scope of its proxy war through terrorist and fiscal
"jehads", a word the meaning of which it does
not understand. We must hit back decisively on the
terrorist front and expose Pakistan in the financial and
diplomatic fields. The supply line of the enemies within
and without should be cut off.
Cops as killers
ON Friday a posse of policemen in Meerut killed in cold blood a college girl, Smita Bhaduri, and seriously injured her friend Mohit Tyagi. The policemen later claimed that they mistook the well-dressed college students, in their teens, to be wanted gangsters and, therefore, opened fire. The Meerut killing is a re-run of a similar incident in which two businessmen were shot dead in the car by trigger-happy policemen in Connaught Place in Delhi in March, 1997. The explanation for the killing of Smita is as unconvincing as the one which was offered in the case of the killing of two businessmen. The Station House Officer who led the attack on the innocent college students and later went into hiding before being arrested from a hospital, should be tried for murder and not culpable homicide. There is evidently more to the case than meets the eye. Even a novice fiction-writer would not buy the story the Meerut police is trying to sell on the circumstances leading to the killing of the girl. Had her boyfriend not had the presence of mind to get out of the car and raise his hands, as shown in films, Meerut may have reported a case of double murder involving policemen with normal eyesight who mistook the young pair to be the Indian version of Bonnie and Clyde on the run. The explanation that it was a case of mistaken identity has several holes. For making their version of the incident plausible the police would first have to manufacture evidence of teenaged girls having taken to a life of heinous crimes in Meerut and its neighbourhood. If they are unable to do so, their superior officers would have to explain why blind men are given jobs in the police force and also the licence to kill on sound without giving the so-called gangsters an opportunity to surrender. Or, has it become an acceptable procedure for the police to shoot at sight without trying other less violent methods for nabbing suspected gangsters?
In a broader context,
incidents of police highhandedness in investigating
crimes and arresting suspected criminals have made
ordinary law-abiding citizens lose faith in the integrity
of the men in uniform. Senior serving and retired
officers and the commissions set up for suggesting
reforms in the police force have recommended from time to
time the need for giving each of its personnel the image
of a people-friendly cop, on the pattern of the loveable
British Bobby. But the lack of political will to act is
holding up the process of giving Indian policemen lessons
in how not to behave like they used to during the
colonial era. It must be understood that the consequences
of the loss of faith of ordinary citizens in the
integrity of the police force are as dangerous as the
highhandedness of policemen in discharging their duty.
Both cause serious damage to the principle which
recognises the rule of law as an integral part of civil
society. For instance, at about the time the police
killed Smita in Meerut on suspicion of being a gangster a
more bizarre incident of mass killing was reported from
South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. It is almost
unbelievable that an angry mob took the law in its hands
and stoned to death 10 alleged robbers in broad daylight
and in full view of a large number of people who egged
them on to dispense instant justice. Why? Because they
had lost faith in the ability of the police to provide
them protection against robbers and other criminals. The
common factor between the killing in Meerut and the act
of lynching in 24 Parganas is that both lacked legal
sanction. If the political class is unwilling to take
such steps as are necessary for effectively combating all
forms of lawlessness, why not disband the police force
which in its present form has become adept only in
breeding criminals in uniform who end up providing
valuable service to the organised underworld?
CHINA & THE TIBETAN
THE flight of Tibets third living Buddha to India presents Chinas President Jiang Zemin, who once said that peace in Tibet is crucial to the success of reforms, development and stability throughout the country, with the opportunity to reconsider whether the late Deng Xiaopings astute one-nation-two-systems formula does not also hold the key to Chinas vexed Tibetan question.
The 14-year-old Karmapa Lamas dramatic eight-day trek in deep winter through 900 miles of high mountains and icy blizzards could have serious implications for six million Tibetans under Chinese rule, the 100,000 Tibetans in exile, mainly in India, and for slowly improving Sino-Indian relations. But if Mr Jiang can rise to his predecessors stature and seize on the scope for constructive diplomacy, he would probably find an ally in the 14th Dalai Lama. The latter responded 11 years ago to Dengs other statement that except for the independence of Tibet, all other questions can be negotiated by dropping the long-standing demand for independence and saying that he would be content with a self-governing, democratic, political entity in association with the Peoples Republic of China. That moderate stand has alienated many younger Tibetans, including his own youngest brother, Tenzin Choegyal, a former Indian Army paratrooper, and a hawk among the exiles.
China only understands the language of violence, declared Mr Choegyal when he learned that Ugyen Trinley Dorje, 17th incarnate head of the Kargyu Black Hat sect, which is the majority religion in Bhutan, and the third highest leader in Tibets Mahayana Buddhist hierarchy, had abandoned his Tsurpu monastery near Lhasa and reached Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lamas government-in-exile is based, on January 5. I definitely think that its time that the Tibetan movement took a military approach, and that India took an active interest in it, he said. Mr Choegyal sees Tibet as an essential buffer for Indias defence.
The Karmapa Lamas defection represents Chinas third major setback in Tibet. He was something of a showpiece for the Communist regime which had presided over his enthronement and no doubt hoped that his great spiritual influence and authority would help it to win over the restive population of what Beijing calls the Tibet Autonomous Region.
The first failure that struck a shocked world in 1959 was the Dalai Lamas escape from the Potala when he found that the Chinese were reneging on all the promises of regional autonomy and religious and cultural freedom that they had made when they overran his country in 1950.
Buddhisms second-highest figure, the 10th Panchen Lama, whom Beijing tried to use against the Dalai Lama, suffered jail and re-education before he died in 1989. The continuing wrangle over his successor exposes the weakness of Chinas control of Tibet.
For, as soon as the Dalai Lama recognised Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the six-year-old boy who headed Beijings list of 28 candidates, the Chinese spirited him away and installed another child, Gyaincain Norbu, the son of registered members of the Communist Party, as the Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lamas nominee has been kept closeted since then for security reasons. Tibetans boycott the ceremonies when the Chinese parade him at the Tashilhunpo monastery, the Panchen Lamas official seat since the 17th century.
Ironically, Beijing and the Dalai Lama agreed in 1992 that seven-year-old Tibet-born Ugyen Trinley Dorje was the incarnation of the 16th Karmapa Lama. That also made him heir to the handsomely endowed Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, where his predecessor had lived since he, too, fled Tibet, as well as to a rich international network of Kargyu establishments. However, the boy lama must be 21 before he can be enthroned. The sponsors of a rival candidate, an India-born Tibetan called Thinley Thai Dorjee, created quite a disturbance at the time and are now accusing Beijing of stage-managing the flight to enable the youth to plunder Rumtek. Its most prized possession is the black hat that the head of the Kargyu sect wears on special occasions.
Playing down the flight, the Chinese say that the Karmapa Lama is only visiting India to collect ceremonial hats and drums. He himself has given no reason for leaving Tsurpu surreptitiously with only his 24-year-old sister and five attendants, all in only the clothes they stood up in. The Dalai Lamas establishment is being close-mouthed. So are the Indian authorities. Between them, the Indians and Tibetans escorted the boy from the Dharamsala guesthouse to another destination, possibly a nearby monastery, four days after he reached Dharamsala. The stakes, spiritual as well as material, are extremely high, and the boy lamas security is bound to be of the utmost concern to millions of devout Buddhists as well as to New Delhi.
India finds itself in a particularly sensitive position. On humanitarian grounds alone, it cannot refuse asylum to such a high incarnate lama, certainly not if the request comes from the Dalai Lama himself. At the same time, the government must be acutely aware of the political implications of harbouring yet another nationalist leader of the Tibetan people who has, by his implicit action, defied and opposed the Chinese authorities. With Sino-Indian relations on the mend and India-Pakistan ties at an all-time low, no one in India save hotheads like Mr Choegyal and some militant young Tibetans wants to provoke Beijing.
Whether the Chinese will admit this circumspection and Indias desire for continued good relations is another matter. For, if the Karmapa Lamas successful journey exposed lax security and intelligence, his decision to defect was itself an indictment of Chinese rule. It reflected on the patriotic education campaign which two years ago swept through 1,780 Tibetan monasteries considered hotbeds of revolt, brought coercive pressure to bear on 46,000 monks and nuns, and forced people to remove portraits of the Dalai Lama from their walls.
Since then, Beijing has expanded the range of targets to include civil institutions, minority groups, independent trade unions, artists, singers and even software developers. Religious sects are being singled out for savage attention, as evident from the Falun Gong cults suppression and the defiant ordination of Catholic bishops without papal approval. But the Karmapa Lamas flight should remind the Chinese that he, like the Panchen Lama, refused to turn against the Dalai Lama, just as ordinary Tibetans cannot be forced to ignore their god-king. These failures indicate that even if Beijing is able one day to abolish the living Buddhas who are foci of nationalist sentiment, abolition may not yield political dividend. For, if an official puppet is appointed the Dalai Lama, the 500-year-old institution, which is today the most poignant symbol of Tibets identity, will forfeit public respect. Tibetans will then look for and probably find other totems to which to rally.
Rather than risk the
emergence of populist leaders like Mr Choegyal and other
young extremists and potential guerrilla resistance, a
China that has absorbed Hong Kong and Macau relatively
harmoniously should be confident enough to handle
Tibetans on the same basis. As the Dalai Lama says, he is
waiting for positive signals from Mr Jiang to
whom he sent a reasonable nine-point proposal for talks
as long ago as 1988.
A diplomat with a difference
T.N. KAUL, whose death was sadly announced on Sunday, was an important figure in the shaping of the present Indian Foreign Service. He was among the earliest crop of ICS officers inducted into the new IFS, a service in which Nehru took particular interest. But T.N. Kaul universally known as Tikki was unlike the normal, heaven-born ICS officer. He did not labour to be clubbable or to adopt the style and manner of the English rulers. Unlike many others of the breed, he was not born to privilege. He was one of the very few of the Kashmiris who have adorned the highest ranks of the civil service to have been born and bred in the vale and to have spoken the language.
At some stage in his early training he acquired a marked radicalism in his intellectual sympathies. This was not to be a mere passing youthful phase in his life; till the end he retained his empathy with the causes of the political left. It was not a narrow, doctrinaire alignment but nevertheless strongly felt. It brought him into line with the nationalist ethos of the time and made for an easy transition from imperial service to the service of free India.
In the heady early days of the External Affairs Ministry, everything had to be built from scratch, for there was no useful precedent from the previous era quite the reverse, in fact. A more indigenous diplomatic style had to be established, new relationships had to be fashioned, in keeping with our freshly redefined vision and interests. Kaul was close to the core of this process. He pushed for the use of Hindi in our international dealings. The 1954 Agreement with China on Trade with Tibet, negotiated by Kaul in Beijing, was a landmark in many respects. It was the first time that an international agreement was framed in the national language. It is now a standard practice to have a Hindi text of any international agreement, but that was the start. Some years later when I joined the IFS I recall that unlike many other senior officers, Kaul tended to address meetings in Hindi, which he was perhaps more capable of doing than many of his colleagues. The same 1954 Agreement set out the Panchsheel principles, which still remain valid, and in it was also embodied Indias position on the status of Tibet as a region of China.
Tikki Kaul was most closely identified with our emerging relations with Russia. In the Cold War context, this was a sometimes deceptive area but Kaul handled it with aplomb. Unlike many of his compatriots, who shrank from the austerities of Moscow and the harshness of its winters, he seemed to relish life in Russia. He created a personal following at both ends of the relationship, in Moscow as well as in New Delhi, which served the country well.
Early in his career Tikki Kaul was identified as a doer, a live wire personality who never sat on his hands. He got away with disregarding Talleyrands famous dictum that a diplomat above all should not suffer from the excess of zeal. He was irrepressible and unstoppable, overflowing with self-confidence. No wonder, he usually got his way and his virtues commended themselves to the countrys leaders. Jawaharlal Nehru gave him several prize appointments as did Indira Gandhi. His official career reached a climax with his appointment as Foreign Secretary late in the 1960s. This was particularly a momentous time for the country. It was during Tikki Kauls tenure that the Bangladesh war took place, to be followed by the Simla Agreement with Pakistan. By this time the Prime Ministers Secretariat under P.N. Haksar had assumed a dominant role in the formulation of foreign policy, but even so Kaul was a vital part of the team that guided the country through those dangerous times.
Unlike most civil servants, Tikki Kaul did not just fade away after he retired. He continued in the diplomatic front rank, with ambassadorial assignments to Moscow and to Washington. And when these were done, he remained a strong activist in his chosen field. The high reputation he had built for himself made him a valued adviser even when he was not holding any formal position. He also enriched public discourse by writing a stream of books on foreign policy-related subjects, in his characteristic, forceful and outspoken style. A further volume was due to be launched in the coming week. But now, alas, the function will have to be posthumous.
Greatly to his credit was the unwavering friendship and support he offered to those who had become close to him. He would help them find occupation and help sustain them once they were appointed. But he went well beyond; he gave of his time and disregarded personal convenience in looking after his friends. This was done not for effect but out of his natural inclination and human warmth.
Age did not slow Tikki or rob him of his elan. In his last years he took a good deal of interest in the Chandigarh-based Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID). Indeed, he was at CRRID the day before he returned to his home in Rajgarh on what was to prove to be his last journey. He will be deeply mourned by his many friends and admirers. The loss of his imposing personality is not replaceable.
State polls: dual battle of
ELECTIONS to the four State assemblies next month may not have a direct bearing on the BJP government at the Centre. Even in the unlikely event of the NDA partners losing all the three major states, the Vajpayee dispensation can continue without any fear of losing majority. At the worst, it could be viewed as a political setback to the ruling NDA.
This is because the ensuing elections in Bihar, Orissa and Haryana are being fought in an entirely different context. The issues at election widely differ and the personalities involved are so dissimilar. Therefore, if Om Prakash Chautala manages to retain Haryana or the BJD or Samata Party wrest Orissa and Bihar from the Congress and RJD, respectively, it should not be trumpeted as a popular endorsement of the Vajpayee Governments actions. Its most rational explanation can be the failures of the local NDA adversaries like the Congress and the RJD.
One only has to look at the complexities of the factors at work in the three states. Unlike Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and UP the BJP does not enjoy political superiority in these states. In Haryana, it is a marginal party subservient to the domineering Om Prakash Chautala. In Orissa, its ally Biju Janata Dal admittedly enjoys a bigger support base. Even if the BJP seeks half of the seats for itself in Bihar, it will find itself highly handicapped by the multi-dimensional factional pulls among its own allies. Nowhere is the BJP in a position to dictate terms with the allies or go it alone against the rival Congress or Laloo Prasad Yadav.
Local animosity has become the sole foundation of contemporary Indian politics. Each of the regional outfits that have joined the NDA bandwagon did so to settle score with its main local political adversary. Since they do not nurse any prime ministerial ambitions, they could support any arrangement at the Centre that helps them counter their sworn foes. If the National Front and United Front were the first beneficiaries of this local animosity syndrome, the BJP has now been able to do so with better sophistry.
The local animosity syndrome, that helped the BJP earn the support of the regional outfits, often works against itself in States. Compulsively, regional parties are highly possessive and zealously guard against any political poaching, including those by the allies. On this, they cannot compromise. In States where the regional parties have conclusively established their domineering position Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, West Bengal, etc the BJPs option is limited to appealing to their generosity. The real tussles for control crop up in the course of the assembly elections in marginal states like Bihar and to an extent Orissa. That which motivates Nitish Kumar to fight Laloo Prasad Yadav and for which he sought the BJP support, might force him to do so to a Susheel Modi or Kailashpati.
If the regional constituents of the NDA support Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister, they expect similar kind of reciprocation in states. This is the message Chautala, Navin Patnaik and Nitish Kumar have sent to the BJP leadership. Even before the talks on seat sharing began, these local satraps have made it clear that there will be no compromise on the chief ministership. Thus the whole attention has been on grabbing the maximum number of seats. Political bargainers no more raise a veneer of policies and programmes to justify the alliances or their breakup.
This politics of power has landed us in a few paradoxes. For every one, Laloo is a political devil, an usurper and a mindless dictator. But each of his NDA adversaries in Bihar tries to be a Laloo by resorting to the same treacherous methods he had used to perpetuate his rule. Nitish Kumar, Ramvilas Paswan and George Fernandes seek to emerge as megalomaniac and dictatorial as Laloo Prasad Yadav. In Orissa, J.B. Patnaik was described as a ruthless Chief Minister who had crudely suppressed his party rivals. Now Navin Patnaiks BJD adversaries charge him with indulging in the same kind of authoritarian methods. Last year, the BJD had been on the verge of a split over Navin Patnaiks high and mighty methods.
The birthplace of many political experiments, Bihar is experiencing the worse kind of power conflicts and ugly bargaining. Bitter factional war on so many controversial issues dog the NDA parties. Acute tussles for chief ministership is the root cause of the troubles. Samata Party boss Nitish Kumar, by far the most popular NDA leader, considers himself as the sole claimant to the Magadha throne as much as he endorses Vajpayees position in the Delhi sultanate. With this is entwined Ramvilas Paswans chief ministerial ambitions, Samata Partys refusal to endorse the merger, JD(U)s fears of Sharad Yadavs replacement as president by George Fernandes and the BJPs arms twisting on the issue of seats sharing.
Paswan was the first to begin the groundwork with his dalit rallies. Smelling a rat, the Samata Party suddenly decided to suspend the merger with the JD(U) and Lokshakti. They feared that in a merged party Paswan could easily grab more tickets. If the Samata remained a separate entity, it could also tightly keep its flock after the polls. Earlier, it had also opposed the continuance of Sharad Yadav as President of the unified party as he could have influenced the distribution of tickets. This week, it led to a fierce war of words between Ramakrishna Hegde and Digvijay Singh over the nasty role of Fernandes in breaking the unity efforts.
The Samata Partys position is that it would alone contest a bottomline of 130 out of the 324 Assembly seats in Bihar. If the BJP wants to allot seats to JD(U) or Anand Mohans party, they could do so from the rest of the seats. Since the BJP has staked the claim for half of the total seats, i.e. 262, it will be left with about 30 seats for the two minor partners as against the JD(U)s demand for 80 seats. The BJP argues that when it alone had fought the polls, it had got 41 seats against the Samata Partys seven. But the Samata claims that it had increased its percentage of votes from eight to 24 in the last Lok Sabha elections.
The Samata Party counters the BJPs argument by citing the latters dwindling support when it failed to retain its own Lok Sabha seats in the last leg of the election. The BJP, on its part, says it had lost only due to the betrayal by the Samata-JD(U) groups. The BJP had originally tried to scuttle Nitish Kumars moves by suggesting that the issue could be taken up only after the elections. The BJP thought that since it is contesting more seats than the Samata, it could claim chief ministership on the basis of the majority view. The Samata Party would not buy this theory.
BJP Vice-President J.P. Mathur added fuel to the fire by propounding a new theory under which no central Minister could contest for the chief ministership. It was a ploy to thwart the chances of Nitish Kumar and Paswan. The Samata retorted by asking the BJP to enforce the same rule in Orissa where the Chief Minister aspirant Navin Patnaik is also a serving Union Minister. The Samata Party has also reasons to suspect a secret design by the BJP to hoist Paswan as Chief Minister. It will be easier for the BJP to tackle a pliable Paswan than a Nitish Kumar with a firm support base. Some central leaders in the BJP even hope to eventually assimilate Paswan in the party as was done in the case of Yashwant Sinha.
With all such acrimony and bitterness, even a last-minute understanding might lead to the Karnataka syndrome in Bihar. The BJP alliances poor performance in that state was attributed to the non-cooperation by the angry partners. In Bihar, the Samata fears that a determined Paswan group might selectively sabotage the chances of the Samata candidates so that a weakened Nitish Kumar could be eased out. Rebel candidates under a multi-party alliance could prove more deadly as they could expect the support of an entire constituent. In Bihar, Laloo Prasad Yadav is still a force. In case the NDA parties fail to conduct a harmonious campaign, it is bound to give new hopes for the RJD.
In Orissa, the BJD is sharply divided on the issue of allotting half of the seats to the BJP which had only ten out of the 147 seats in 1995. A big section in the party had insisted on the BJP contesting 107 seats even if it meant a break in the alliance. Some even see a secret understanding between the BJP and party chief Navin Patnaik under which the former would get half the seats in exchange of the chief ministership for the latter. Partymen have warned Patnaik that once the BJP wrests a majority within the alliance, it would ditch him.
In Haryana, the BJP finds Om Prakash Chautala a harder nut to crack. A past master in realpolitik, Chautalas game plan is to get his own majority and have a one-party rule. He has thus offered only 20-25 seats to the BJP out of 90. At one stage, the infuriated BJP leaders were even threatening to fight the polls on their own.
For the NDA, the issue
at stake is the success or failure of a complex political
experiment. Unlike in the Lok Sabha elections, the allies
are now forced to simultaneously fight dual battles
both against the respective anti-NDA adversary and
among their own allies. This marks the early facet of
non-stabilised political alliances. The durable Left
Fronts survived this problem by honestly sticking to the
originally allotted seats. With its accute
contradictions, the NDA partners will find it difficult
to adopt this norm.
"WE are being treated to the usual misrepresentations of the Indian National Congress, writes our London correspondent, by the gentlemen in India, who act as correspondents of the London newspapers. Why cannot they give the British public a fair and reasonable summary of the proceedings instead of cabling a lot of rubbish designed to convey the impression that Indian politicians are all either knaves or fools?
The reason is obvious. By transmitting misleading and not unoften fabricated accounts of happenings in India these gentlemen not only pander to the taste of reactionaries in England but also help to create an atmosphere which helps them in perpetuating bureaucratic rule in India.
The need of
counteracting this campaign of mendacity cannot be too
strongly emphasised. Some of our leaders may not care
what the outside world thinks about us, but the
systematic propaganda on the other side has already done
grave injury to the national cause and, if left
unchecked, will do incalculable harm to the cause of
|| Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
| Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | In Spotlight |
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
| 119 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |