SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
O P I N I O N S

Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped

EDITORIALS

Vote for growth
PM now can look ahead and move on
The 2009 general election outcome has taken many people by surprise. Proving psephologists and pundits wrong once again, the Indian electorate has voted decisively for political stability and continuity of policies. Economic troubles might have deepened had the elections resulted in political uncertainty. A weak government, cobbled together by self-seeking politicians of varying hues, would have failed to take bold decisions required to reverse the downtrend.

Maya’s illusion
She was out of sync with real UP
One of the surprises that the Lok Sabha elections have thrown up is the re-emergence of the Congress as a force to be reckoned with in UP. The party has won 21 of the 80 seats in the state, a major gain compared to its performance in 2004 when it got only nine seats. In 1998, it had drawn a blank. But what is more interesting is that it fought the elections alone with development as its main poll plank, keeping caste and community factors aside.





EARLIER STORIES



After Prabhakaran
Sri Lanka now needs a healing touch
A day after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam conceded defeat, proclaiming that its 26-year battle against the Sri Lankan armed forces had reached its ‘bitter end’, comes the army’s claim that they have gunned down its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and his top commanders. Though die-hard supporters of the eelam (freedom) cause are bound to rue the fall of Prabhakaran whose commitment to it was unswerving, there is understandable jubilation in Sri Lanka which bore the brunt of a civil war that took 70,000 lives, including those of several top national leaders, and shattered the economy of the beleaguered country.

ARTICLE

Breach in Marxist citadel
Will they go in for true introspection?
by S. Nihal Singh
A
part from Mr L.K. Advani’s tragedy in losing his last chance to be Prime Minister, the most grievously hurt in the surprising outcome of the general election are the Communist and allied parties led by the Marxists and their general secretary, Mr Prakash Karat. Their loss in Kerala, subject to alternating ruling coalitions every five years, was predictable, although not the size of their losses. The CPM’s biggest loss was in its bastion of West Bengal, breached by Ms Mamata Banerjee with the Congress as her ally.

MIDDLE

Bye, bye Mr Advani
by Uttam Sengupta
I
t was a hot afternoon in Faizabad ( Ayodhya) in 1997-98 and the choice was between driving back to Lucknow and waiting for Lal Krishna Advani to arrive and address an election meeting. My companion, a minor BJP leader, was insistent on returning. Advani, he said to my surprise, was an over-rated public speaker and was unlikely to say anything of any substance. I decided to stay, curious to hear what the BJP leader had to say on the Ram temple he wanted built at Ayodhya and for which he had got the Babri mosque demolished.

OPED

Violence in Pakistan
Jihadis are more dangerous than Taliban
by Ayesha Siddiqa
T
here is a general understanding that Pakistan is under the threat of Talibanisation. Nothing could be far from truth. Islamabad remains secure despite the fact that it had seen violence and tension in the past. To contextualise things, there is an increase in the number of radical elements and there is actually a war going on in a number of areas in the country. These radical forces and radicalisation are actually a byproduct of years of poor governance, lack of justice and political growth.

Inside story of Tiananmen
by lifford Coonan
T
he secret memoirs of Zhao Ziyang, the Communist Party leader ousted for opposing the military crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square, exploded into the open last, four years after his death.

Delhi Durbar
Friends and foes face to face at reception
The marriage reception of Sudhanshu Trivedi, political secretary to BJP president Rajnath Singh, on May 14, just two days before the Lok Sabha results, was naturally an important occasion for the ‘Sangh Parivar’ with Rajnath himself playing a perfect host at the Constitution Club.

  • Political appointees

  • New economic adviser


Top








EDITORIALS

Vote for growth
PM now can look ahead and move on

The 2009 general election outcome has taken many people by surprise. Proving psephologists and pundits wrong once again, the Indian electorate has voted decisively for political stability and continuity of policies. Economic troubles might have deepened had the elections resulted in political uncertainty. A weak government, cobbled together by self-seeking politicians of varying hues, would have failed to take bold decisions required to reverse the downtrend. By reposing faith in the UPA in general and in Dr Manmohan Singh in particular, the electorate has shown remarkable maturity and put a stamp of approval on the economic reforms initiated in the 1990s.

The reforms that had accelerated the GDP growth rate to 9 per cent for four of the five-year term of the UPA had got almost stalled as the Left had played a spoilsport. The voters have inflicted a crushing defeat on the Left leaders for scuttling reforms, wasting Parliament’s time through meaningless protests, reducing themselves to a nuisance and being out of sync with the times and the country’s mood. The BJP, too, has suffered for politicking and placing its own narrow interests above those of the nation. Their being pushed out of the centre-stage gives the UPA a free hand to pursue policies that it wants and leaves them with no excuse for dithering on reforms that could lead to speedy revival of the economy after the recent slowdown.

The poll verdict has enthused India Inc no end and sent a cheerful signal to foreign and domestic investors. There can be no better indication of this than the way the BSE Sensex made history by hitting the upper circuit twice in a day. This was partly in the hope that foreign capital will start flowing in. The rupee too gained significantly. It is for Dr Manmohan Singh’s new government now to channel foreign investment into infrastructure rather than just let it feed the stock markets. Dr Manmohan Singh knows what bold decisions the country needs at this juncture and, he, of all the people, knows that the country will back him if he takes rapid strides forward. He doesn’t have to look over his shoulder now to ensure that there is no one trying to sabotage his policies.

Top

Maya’s illusion
She was out of sync with real UP

One of the surprises that the Lok Sabha elections have thrown up is the re-emergence of the Congress as a force to be reckoned with in UP. The party has won 21 of the 80 seats in the state, a major gain compared to its performance in 2004 when it got only nine seats. In 1998, it had drawn a blank. But what is more interesting is that it fought the elections alone with development as its main poll plank, keeping caste and community factors aside. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s monthly visits to various parts of the state infused a new life into an otherwise moribund organisation.

The voters in UP appear to be sick of appeals made on the basis of caste and community affiliations. That is why the BSP and the SP, which laid stress mainly on caste and community factors, suffered major reverses. Though Ms Mayawati’s BSP has improved its tally with 20 seats in its bag against 19 in 2004, the poll outcome reflects a considerable decline in the party’s popularity if we look at its performance during the 2007 assembly elections. The BSP, known for its reverse social engineering, was returned to power on the promise that it would improve law and order and concentrate on the development of the state. But the performance of the BSP government has disillusioned the people. The Chief Minister, who had started dreaming of becoming Prime Minister, concentrated more on installing statues of the BSP’s icons than on wooing investors for creating jobs in her state with the highest number of jobless.

The caste and community factors have, in fact, worked against the BSP and the SP. Many of the Muslim voters, who earlier preferred either of these two parties, are now more inclined towards the Congress. They have provided proof of it as many constituencies with a predominantly Muslim concentration have returned the Congress candidates. The SP suffered a major dent in its Muslim vote bank because of Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav’s decision to contest the elections in the company of Mr Kalyan Singh, who headed the BJP government in UP when the Babri Masjid was demolished by the Sangh Parivars’ karsevaks on December 6, 1992. The SP could win only 23 seats against 35 in 2004. It is good that the voters in UP have shown that they can no longer be fooled by raising emotional issues. That is one reason why the BSP could not get more than 20 seats and the BJP more than 10 seats, which it had won in 2004. After a long time UP has begun to come out of its recent past and look ahead.

Top

After Prabhakaran
Sri Lanka now needs a healing touch

A day after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam conceded defeat, proclaiming that its 26-year battle against the Sri Lankan armed forces had reached its ‘bitter end’, comes the army’s claim that they have gunned down its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and his top commanders. Though die-hard supporters of the eelam (freedom) cause are bound to rue the fall of Prabhakaran whose commitment to it was unswerving, there is understandable jubilation in Sri Lanka which bore the brunt of a civil war that took 70,000 lives, including those of several top national leaders, and shattered the economy of the beleaguered country. Successive heads of state and government had been promising to defeat the LTTE but had failed. President Rajapakse has succeeded by resorting to unalloyed military solution.

Prabhakaran lived by the gun, operating from underground hideouts since 1972 in his fight over the discrimination against ethnic Tamils by the Sinhalese-majority Sri Lankan state. He chose violence to achieve his aim. In the early years of his struggle, he set about eliminating the top leaders of Tamil groups that did not see eye to eye with him. In due course he assumed dictatorial sway over the LTTE, motivating the cadres to do or actually die for the cause. At its peak, the LTTE controlled one-third of the land area in the country and managed to acquire its own fleet of aircraft and some naval ships. It was the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and Sri Lankan President Premadasa two years later who set the international community against the Tamil Tigers and led 32 countries to place the outfit on the terrorist list. This was a reflection of the LTTE’s transformation from an organization of freedom fighters to a dangerous organisation that motivated mostly young, impressionable minds to plant bombs and kill indiscriminately anyone who stood in its way.

The decimation of the LTTE is virtually total. But if serious resentment is not to build up again among the Tamils, it is imperative that President Rajapakse’s regime shows statesmanship. It must begin a process for a meaningful dialogue with saner representatives of Tamils in the north and the east. The impoverished, displaced Tamil masses need to be duly rehabilitated. Tamils in general would need to be absorbed in the country’s mainstream and made to feel emotionally one with the rest of the country. This is not a time for euphoria. It is a time to re-build the nation and to heal old wounds. A spirit of reconciliation after the victory can over a period of time lead to harmony and peace in the nation that it has not seen for years.

Top

 

Thought for the Day

Anger is never without an argument, but seldom with a good one. — Halifax

Top

Corrections and clarifications

n On Page 4 ( May 17) in the photo gallery of winning candidates from Punjab, Sher Singh Ghubaya has been wrongly identified. As a SAD candidate , he has won from Ferozepur.

n On page 5 the same day, in the report related to victory margins, Simranjit Singh Mann has been credited with winning the Sangrur seat in 1989. It should have been Taran Tarn.

n On Page 24 of the May 17 edition, the Infographic wrongly attributes one seat to the BJP in Jammu & Kashmir. The Ladakh seat was won by a NC rebel candidate who contested as an Independent but rejoined National Conference this week .

n In the front page report on Nitish Kumar, it should read ‘ BJP flaunting Hindutva icon…’ and not ‘flouting’.

Despite our earnest endeavour to keep The Tribune error-free, some errors do creep in at times. We are always eager to correct them.

We request our readers to write or e-mail to us whenever they find any error. We will carry corrections and clarifications, wherever necessary, every Tuesday & Friday.

Readers in such cases can write to Mr Uttam Sengupta, Associate Editor, The Tribune, Chandigarh, with the word “Corrections” on the envelope. His e-mail ID is uttamsengupta@tribunemail.com.

H.K. Dua
Editor-in-Chief

Top

ARTICLE

Breach in Marxist citadel
Will they go in for true introspection?
by S. Nihal Singh

Apart from Mr L.K. Advani’s tragedy in losing his last chance to be Prime Minister, the most grievously hurt in the surprising outcome of the general election are the Communist and allied parties led by the Marxists and their general secretary, Mr Prakash Karat. Their loss in Kerala, subject to alternating ruling coalitions every five years, was predictable, although not the size of their losses. The CPM’s biggest loss was in its bastion of West Bengal, breached by Ms Mamata Banerjee with the Congress as her ally.

Despite these losses, it is by no means clear that the Marxists and their colleagues in the Communist Party of India (CPI) will undertake genuine introspection beyond seeking to nail down tactical errors. There have been murmurs of dissent in the CPM, but differences are papered over, until the next party crisis is tackled.

It is, of course, unnatural for one political party to rule a state for 30-odd years in a system of parliamentary democracy. Initially, the CPM carried out path-breaking land distribution, building up in the process party strongholds policed by veteran cadres. But soon crushing dissent as and when it occurred, employing party thugs to knock sense into dissidents, debased this exercise. Those given land were naturally grateful and were willing to put up with Communist methods for close to two decades.

The West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, made the first breach in the party’s thinking by seeking to industrialise the state on the premise that only industrialisation could solve the state’s unemployment problem and hence conditions should be made hospitable for domestic and foreign investors to invest in industrial ventures. Traditionally, there has often been tension between the West Bengal CPM and those sitting in the party headquarters in Delhi, but Mr Bhattacharjee was able to convince the party about the soundness of his policy.

Where Mr Bhattacharjee went wrong was in the methods he adopted in acquiring scarce, often fertile, land. Steeped as he and his colleagues are in the traditional Communist methods of silencing dissent, farmers who did not want to part with their land were set upon by party goons. And Ms Mamata Banerjee, anxiously waiting for an opportunity to take on the Communists, pounced on the farmers’ dissatisfaction with compulsory land acquisition in Singur to give the Communists a taste of their own medicine. Two sets of thugs now fought each other.

The West Bengal Government’s move to acquire land at Nandigram for a chemical hub met a similar fate, with police firings exacerbating tensions. Ms Banerjee won her point in both these instances because Tatas pulled out the Nano project and farmers saved their land in Nandigram. After the decline of the Congress, this was the first serious challenge faced by the Marxists in the state, and Ms Banerjee and her organisation, the Trinamool Congress, successfully tested the political waters in local elections. But her strength was truly demonstrated in the general election in which the Congress-Trinamool combine pipped the CPM in the race.

Inevitably, the first serious breach in the Marxist citadel has set off a debate in Marxist circles. Kerala Marxists had already breached the sanctity of not washing dirty linen in public, with their state chief minister and party chief fighting a very public battle. After the general election results, Mr Somnath Chatterjee, thrown out of the party for rejecting the party diktat by remaining in his post as Lok Sabha Speaker, has set the cat among pigeons by asking Mr Karat to own up responsibility for the poor election results and resign. Further, he charged the CPM leadership with losing touch with the people of West Bengal.

The problems with the CPM and the CPI run deeper. With the Communist movement in the world having changed, except in such states as North Korea, Indian Communists continue to live in a time warp. The Marxists still honour Stalin in their pantheon of heroes and have not changed their vocabulary since the founding of the Soviet Union.

Despite the astounding changes in the world, with the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union gone, and European Communists having switched to different brands of democratic socialism, the United States remains the imperialist for the CPM and the imperatives of old ideology in the 21st century remain relevant. Nor have Indian comrades seen the virtues of the Chinese model of an ostensibly Communist one-party state embracing capitalism with unbounded enthusiasm while following very pragmatic policies with the United States to serve the country’s interest.

The irony is that Mr Karat sets aside his ideological blinkers in wooing the likes of Ms Jayalalithaa, Ms Mayawati and Mr Deve Gowda to form an imaginary Third Front — used by others as a parking lot until the results shattered their castles in the air — but otherwise remains mired in world of at least half a century ago.

The Marxists in particular face many problems. Even if some of their leaders feel that they must revise their dated concepts of the State, they would have a hard task in educating their cadres steeped in the clichés of bygone days. Historically, Marxism acquired the patina of Russian characteristics and customs because it was the first Communist state, acknowledged in the slogan of Marxism-Leninism. In West Bengal, Marxists have acquired the Bengali street culture of settling disputes through goon squads.

With Mr Jyoti Basu in no position to start an Indian perestroika movement after the fashion of Mikhail Gorbachev, given his physical condition, Mr Bhattacharjee remains among the few in the Marxist camp who can begin a real dissent movement in the party. But for the most part, the Marxist leadership seems incapable of true introspection leading to changes in policies and doctrines. Perhaps the assembly elections in West Bengal, due in 2011, will spur dissidents in the CPM to make their voices heard loud and clear.

Top

MIDDLE

Bye, bye Mr Advani
by Uttam Sengupta

It was a hot afternoon in Faizabad (Ayodhya) in 1997-98 and the choice was between driving back to Lucknow and waiting for Lal Krishna Advani to arrive and address an election meeting. My companion, a minor BJP leader, was insistent on returning. Advani, he said to my surprise, was an over-rated public speaker and was unlikely to say anything of any substance. I decided to stay, curious to hear what the BJP leader had to say on the Ram temple he wanted built at Ayodhya and for which he had got the Babri mosque demolished.

But when the helmsman arrived, finally, he appeared completely lost. Indeed, he seemed to think he was addressing a poll meeting in Bihar as he went on rambling about Lalu Yadav and poor governance. The motley crowd listened stoically but his old and well-circulated jokes about Lalu fell flat. I actually felt sorry for him.

But the very next year the NDA bounced back to power and Advani became the Home Minister and later, the Deputy Prime Minister. Two or three years later I was having lunch in the national capital with a former DIB ( Director, Intelligence Bureau) who was believed to have been close to Mr Advani. “ How do you rate him as a person and an administrator,” I remember asking him. He seemed to have been caught off-guard by the question and the smile vanished from his lips.

He took his time to reply, fiddling with his fork and , like many Intelligence Bureau officers, rehearsing in his mind what he wanted to say. But his reply was astonishing. He began by saying: “Mr Advani is a thorough gentleman, a very well-read person, a warm host and a great friend to have”. After a pause and another prodding from me, he thoughtfully added: “He is a simple person, goes out of his way to help…” and his voice trailed off.

Impatient, I asked: “I sense there is a ‘but’ coming; what is it ?”

“Well,” the former DIB and soon-to-be-made-Governor sighed: “he is a poor judge of men and, unfortunately, he has no clue about administration”.

I was stunned. “ Are you suggesting that the Home Minister of the country is a poor administrator ,” I blurted out but the gentleman, who I had known for 20 years, merely shrugged.

His words came rushing back to mind when, several years later and after Mr Advani’s autobiography came out, another bureaucrat who had worked with him in the ministry, claimed that throughout his tenure he had not come across a single file on which the HM ( Home Minister) had noted his opinion. “ Every file we sent to him, even those where possible options were specified, returned with his signature and nothing else,” he claimed.

There must be more to Mr Advani than what these stray comments suggest. He certainly inspires both loyalty and affection among people close to him.

But to me he always appeared somewhat unreal, an epic character riding a rath, waving a sword and tilting at windmills. The wrong man for the wrong party and profession , perhaps ? And somehow I feel very relieved that he is not going to be the Prime Minister, after all.

Top

OPED

Violence in Pakistan
Jihadis are more dangerous than Taliban
by Ayesha Siddiqa

There is a general understanding that Pakistan is under the threat of Talibanisation. Nothing could be far from truth. Islamabad remains secure despite the fact that it had seen violence and tension in the past. To contextualise things, there is an increase in the number of radical elements and there is actually a war going on in a number of areas in the country. These radical forces and radicalisation are actually a byproduct of years of poor governance, lack of justice and political growth.

Young men who get recruited to fight strange battles in the name of religion get co-opted due to lack of an alternative. They believe that by imposing Sharia they would be able to bring about a system that would be more just and would guarantee better development than the systems they had tried before.

The system proposed by the Taliban and its militant partners would only bring greater injustice, intolerance and poverty. So, there is a threat of greater radicalisation not because the people who subscribe to it really understand the logic but because they see it as something that will bring social mobility, if not in this life then certainly in the life hereafter.

But then faith and religion are tools that the powerful have always used to manipulate the dispossessed to retain or gain power. The people that follow Sufi Mohammad or Baitullah Mehsud or Masood Azhar have no as deep understanding of religion as the group of people that bought into the CIA’s and the ISI’s jihad project in the 1980s to fight the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan might not have necessarily followed this path only if the leadership was mindful of service delivery to the people and the US jihad had not happened.

The American CIA and Pakistan’s ISI jointly outsourced security but then never managed to turn the clock back. The 1980s essentially was a watershed in South Asian history because this was a time when the virus of radicalisation was bread in the incubator of national security to be unleashed on Pakistan and subsequently the entire region.

At one level, the communication and relationship between the older partners continues and will sustain. Pakistan’s security establishment and Washington were not too unhappy to see the Taliban establish control over Afghanistan. After 9/11, the international community had begun to show interest in the Taliban that were demonstrating some capacity to run a state.

It is also likely that now that Afghanistan has been bombarded sufficiently, the US might again consider talking to the Taliban. After all, the categorisation of the good Taliban versus the bad Taliban doesn’t come from nowhere.

The reason for giving these details is basically to underscore a point that people are not naturally bad or violent but are often driven by some altruistic desires of the ruling elite or become victims of the insecurities of their leadership.

Pakistan must be helped and supported, and not merely run down as a problem child of the region that could only be dealt with through forces. In fact, the use of force is bound to prove counter-productive.

All those elements that are unfriendly to Pakistan and India will draw greater inspiration if India were to ever consider the use of force. More war will be like creating an ET in our midst that we wouldn’t know how to control.

The threat of radicalisation is that it has a capacity to eventually silence people. This is what happened in Swat and could happen in other parts as well as long as a strategy is not activated more forcefully to curb these elements.

One has to be careful in distinguishing between the Taliban and the jihadi elements. These are two different elements but with a similar ideology. The Taliban have a different historical context than the jihadis.

In my opinion, the jihadis are more dangerous than the Taliban as they have greater links across the border and are much more meltable across the South Asian region.

But fighting them is not just the responsibility of the state but of civil society as well. Today, the greater danger is that civil society doesn’t strategise well to fight radicalism.

The educated do not have the intellectual capacity to begin a dialogue with the rest of the population and convince them that religion does not condemn anyone to death or propagate a polity which the militants want to bring to the country (Pakistan).

In fact, the liberal forces tend to hide away from an open discussion on religious issues which is not anyone’s forte. There is no concept in Islam of a select group having the power and authority to interpret issues of religion and faith.

The particular brand of Islam that Zia-ul-Haq had craftily introduced in the country was meant to enhance his personal power and that of his organisation rather than bring about peace and prosperity.

Since the application of Zia’s Nizam-e-Islam, violence and crime have increased in the country. Unfortunately, the weak civil society is not ready to challenge the Taliban-type forces intellectually, forcing the rest of the population to be silent and struggle for survival.

The civil society that has been crying murder must stand up and own its responsibility to fight these violent elements instead of slowly making the way out of the country.

It is essential to fight the battle because the educated people are also the most capable to fight the battle, else the region could run into a major problem.

This is also the movement that India must understand and adopt a more sympathetic attitude and cooperate in fighting this battle. Cooperation is necessary because the accidental weakening of any state is bad news for the entire region.

Also, because radicalism in one state is bound to proliferate across the border and spread in a region that already has the germs of radicalism and xenophobia.

We can’t afford to antagonise our own population and make an enemy out of them through unthoughtful stereotyping. Dividing people into “us” versus “them”, which is getting fashionable in South Asia, is not likely to prove advantageous.

We have had enough of cynicism regarding peace, stability and cooperation. But let me assure you that we cannot win our battles or wars alone. Any nation that does not believe in coordinated effort will lose to greater violence. We need coordination among the countries of the region to fight the menace of terrorism, poverty and underdevelopment that we all suffer from.

The writer is an eminent scholar and author of Pakistan. The article has been excerpted from the Prem Bhatia memorial lecture she delivered in New Delhi on May 8.

Top

Inside story of Tiananmen
by lifford Coonan

The secret memoirs of Zhao Ziyang, the Communist Party leader ousted for opposing the military crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square, exploded into the open last, four years after his death.

Dictated during his years of house arrest and smuggled out on cassettes disguised as children’s music or Peking opera, the book will be pored over for clues about the workings of the secretive group of men who make up the inner core of China’s Communist Party. The decisions made in Beijing’s Zhongnanhai compound have global impact as China is an emerging superpower, but little is known about how it functions. Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang may change all that.

The publishers, Simon and Schuster, were so worried about news of the Zhao book leaking that they listed it as Untitled by Anonymous in their catalogue. It was not supposed to go on sale until next Tuesday but several stores in Hong Kong broke the embargo and put it on the shelves. And the clamour — just ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 4 June Tiananmen Square massacre, when tensions are high about political dissent in China — was intense.

Mr Zhao was a powerful figure within China’s opaque apparatus of power, but his decision to back the student protesters in Tiananmen Square cost him his career, and earned him 16 years under arrest in his Beijing home.

His last public appearance was on 19 May, 1989, when he visited the young demonstrators in front of the Forbidden City and urged them to leave Tiananmen Square, warning that police would use force if they did not. Standing beside him was his aide, Wen Jiabao, who escaped the taint of his allegiance to Mr Zhao to become the current premier.

As the tanks rolled into central Beijing on 3 June Mr Zhao writes: “While sitting in the courtyard with my family, I heard intense gunfire. A tragedy to shock the world had not been averted, and was happening after all.”

The current Chinese leadership says the crackdown was a “disturbance” by “hooligans” and says crushing the revolt was essential to ensure a stable foundation for the country’s economic growth. Mr Zhao takes the opposite view. “I had said at the time that most people were only asking us to correct our flaws, not attempting to overthrow our political system,” he wrote.

There are lively examples of his rivalry with the veteran revolutionary and former supreme leader Deng Xiaoping. Mr Deng is hailed in China as the architect of the last 30 years of reform and economic liberalisation. However, Mr Zhao paints a very different picture, one of a double-crossing and cunning political leader at odds with the official hagiography.

Mr Zhao — who was the general secretary of the Communist Party from 1987 to 1989 — says by removing him from power, Mr Deng and others had simply ignored their own rules meant to prevent a return to the cult of personality that characterised the Mao years. The decision was made without a vote in the Politburo and the memoir describes in gripping detail how Mr Deng summoned the Standing Committee to his house to purge Mr Zhao.

“Reading Zhao’s unadorned and unboastful account of his stewardship, it becomes apparent that it was he rather than Deng who was the actual architect of reform,” writes Roderick MacFarquhar, professor of Chinese history at Harvard University.

Mr Zhao — the son of wealthy landowner who was purged as a capitalist sympathiser during the Cultural Revolution before being rehabilitated — believed the cure for China’s problems lay in gradual but unceasing movement towards Western-style democracy, something the current leadership has ruled out.

The book is being published in Chinese by New Century Press, which is run by Bao Pu, the son of Mr Zhao’s most trusted aide Bao Tong who remains under police surveillance. Bao Tong yesterday shrugged off suggestions that the leaked memoirs could split the Communist Party but said senior leaders were likely to read the book. “It will give them a lot to think about, and cause them to think about the Party’s basic survival,” he told Reuters.

In a review of the book, Perry Link, a leading commentator on Chinese politics, noted how incarceration had given Mr Zhao time to reflect on China’s place in history. “At the end, we see Zhao arrive at positions more radical than any he had taken before — positions that the Chinese government had long been calling ‘dissident’... The Communist Party will have to release its monopoly on power. Ultimately, China will need parliamentary democracy,” Mr Link writes.

Mr Zhao died a lonely old man in his Beijing house in 2005. “The entrance to my home is a cold, desolate place.” But his astonishing memoir may mean his life takes on a whole new significance.

— By arrangement with The Independent

Top

Delhi Durbar
Friends and foes face to face at reception

The marriage reception of Sudhanshu Trivedi, political secretary to BJP president Rajnath Singh, on May 14, just two days before the Lok Sabha results, was naturally an important occasion for the ‘Sangh Parivar’ with Rajnath himself playing a perfect host at the Constitution Club.

There was L K Advani, who left early. Arun Jaitley was there to dispel the impression that he and Rajnath are still at loggerheads. And there was Jaitley’s bete noire, Sudhanshu Mittal, seen all over. Jaitley sat surrounded by his Parivar comrades quietly partaking his meals.

There was, of course, old friend and fellow Sahara ‘parivar’ Thakur leader of the Samajwadi Party, Amar Singh.

Janata Dal (U) secretary general K C Tyagi looked visibly annoyed with the day’s news reports of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi arriving to help Advani achieve his prime ministerial ambition.

Tyagi’s actions clearly indicate that the bonhomie between the BJP and the JD-U may not last long. And the election results may speed up the process.

Political appointees

The other day the Chief Secretary of Punjab filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, admitting that public prosecutors are appointed on political considerations. Whenever a government changes, all officers, including the Advocate General and the Law Officers, tender their resignations and new ones in whom the government of the day has confidence are appointed, according to RI Singh.

He made the deposition in the corruption case against PS Badal and his family members. Both Capt Amarinder Singh and Badal undertook the exercise when they came to power in 2002 and 2007, respectively, he said. Punjab ‘s counsel who argued in the case endorsed the view.

The apex court also accepted the argument. “As rightly highlighted by learned senior counsel for Punjab, there is no reason to disregard the information furnished by the Chief Secretary,” the Chief Justice’s Bench said. “In those circumstances, the allegation relating to the removal of Special Public Prosecutors and about Mr Pradeep Mehta (PP) cannot be sustained,” it ruled.

New economic adviser

A search for the new chief economic adviser (CEA) has started in the Finance Ministry. The term of Mr Arvind Virmani, the present CEA, expires on 1st July. Sources say nine names have been short-listed. The search and selection process is headed by Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla.

The choice will largely depend on the new Finance Minister. But who will be the Finance Minister is also a subject of discussion in official circles.

Contributed by Faraz Ahmad, R Sedhuraman and Bhagyshree Pande

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |