Thursday, March 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



A people’s verdict

Apropos the page-one edit A people’s verdict by Hari Jaisingh (March 2), the modus operandi adopted by the BJP in Gujarat in its gameplan for an election win cannot be blindly replicated in other states as the HP results have clearly shown. As the BJP top brass is conducting a post-mortem and attempting to find out the causes for its defeat in the recently held HP poll, it continues to view the election results with a two-thirds majority for the Congress with a blinkered vision. Narendra Modi’s magic wand worked in Gujarat, thanks to the riot affected polarised electorate which was not the situation in HP.

The writer is correct in stating that the BJP basks more on people’s emotional responses and Hindutva than on corruption, unemployment, drinking water etc. Furthermore, an insensitive government not listening to sane and sobering voices such as those of Union Minister Shanta Kumar or HP Congress chief Vidya Stokes, who struggled tooth and nail to highlight corruption and highhandedness of the HP CM. Had the defeated HP Government made any attempt to cleanse itself and address the real issues, it would most likely have been re-elected.

Those in charge of the BJP’s election strategy in the hill state are squarely placing all the blame on two factors, namely, anti-incumbency and the rebel candidates getting into the fray. Only partly true. Anti-incumbency itself came about due to misgovernance and corruption. Similarly, rebellion stemmed from a wrong analysis and a gross mismanagement by the BJP’s central and state cadre who could not assess the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates they fielded.


It is a tragedy a state with a tremendous potential in areas such as tourism, horticulture, hydel power and the like cannot exploit its resources due to corruption and misgovernance.

V.B.N. RAM, New Delhi

BJP base shrinking

The defeat of the BJP in the Himachal elections must have shaken its leaders. After tasting victory in Gujarat by inciting communal hatred and the caste factor, they were sure of their victory. The party expected a revolt in the Congress in the event of a Congress defeat in Himachal. In such circumstances the BJP might have chosen a time for going in for a snap poll to the Lok Sabha. This was evident from the election speeches of the Prime Minister that the elections of Himachal might have nationwide repercussions. The voters of Himachal have made the BJP lick the dust.

The BJP has never taken its partners at the Centre into its confidence while taking major decisions. Still they are clinging to the ministries, forgetting that they are shrinking their bases. They should come out of the government and make a third front of all secular parties so that the country is run by a government which has national interests in mind.

Major NARINDER SINGH JALLO (retd.), Kapurthala

Basic issues ignored

This refers to “A people’s verdict”. Though anti-establishment sentiment is a great factor, yet the main cause of the BJP’s disaster is that the Dhumal government remained casual, callous to development and basic issues like generation of jobs, protection of environment by taking strict action against forest mafia dons and exploitation of tourism potentials. So the failure on this front has disappointed even its close loyalists.

K.L. BATRA, Yamunanagar

Himachal is not Gujarat

You have rightly emphasised that “Himachal is not Gujarat”. Notwithstanding the malicious and unethical war of propaganda initiated by the Congress, the people have punished the BJP mainly for non-performance and attempting to exploit the religious sentiments of the masses. Now people are waking up to the need of a transparent, corruption-free and accountable administration and would not allow any gimmicks and false promises or high rhetoric to hoodwink them. Every region has its own ethos, problems and sensitivities, apart from a pressing need for fast industrial growth resulting in employment opportunities. Hence the measures and solutions that work at one place may completely fail at another.


Sharafat Ali ko sharafat ne mara

A sum of Rs 9,000 crore has reportedly remained unspent out of the defence budget for the financial year ending March 31 due to bureaucratic bungling, while the defence forces are crying for modernisation. This is a criminal lapse amounting to treachery as it would further weaken the security of the country. Why we could not force Pakistan to deliver anything substantial in a year-long stand-off was because we were not as strong as we should have been in conventional forces.

Our procedures of defence spending, dominated by a callous and clueless bureaucracy, are so tedious and complex that they defeat the very purpose of earmarking the amount. Some time back the Defence Minister was constrained to send chair-borne babus from Delhi to Ladakh to force them for the procurement of snow scooters, so critical for movement in the glaciated terrain of Siachen.

One of the root causes of bureaucratic highhandedness and highheadedness is that far too much emphasis is laid on “courteous behaviour” on the part of defence personnel. The moment boys enter the Indian Military Academy (IMA), they are named as Gentlemen Cadets (GCs). They are expected to be gentlemen first and officer later. This excessive gentlemanliness inhibits them from demanding what should be rightfully theirs. In fact they never demand,” they only “beg to submit”. The bureaucrats, being officers first and gentlemen never, naturally do not take their submissions seriously. And hence the continued neglect of the defence forces along with national security. The defence forces are far too well groomed and “gentlemen” are not only to their own disadvantage but also to that of national security. It is a typical case of “Sharafat Ali ko sharafat ne mara”. It is high time that the defence services assert themselves in the national interest, if not in their own, and start “demanding”, rather than “begging to submit”.

Brig HARWANT SINGH (Retd), Mohali

Rani defeated

A Sikh commoner has defeated a big gun of the Congress and a close relation of Capt Amarinder Singh. Sonia Gandhi specially went to Nalagarh to get elected Rani Sukriti Kumari and Capt Amarinder Singh also remained in this constituency for several days to get her elected, but she was defeated by Mr Hari Narain Singh Saini.


One year in office

Capt Amarinder Singh has done some good work during his one year rule such as the removal of VC J.S. Ahluwalia, exposing a scandal of job sale by Ravi Sidhu, dismissal of about 4,000 appointees who purchased jobs by paying bribes, arrest of some allegedly corrupt ex-ministers and action against kidney selling doctors.

But the Amarinder Singh government has failed to implement its own election manifesto: (1) Six additional police districts created during the height of terrorism have not been abolished yet as promised.

(2) Pension and gratuity have not been given to the aided non-government college teachers as per the notification dated 18.12.1996 issued by the Bhattal government and the Act to this effect passed by the Badal government. The Congress manifesto had promisedto pay the non-government college teachers pension and gratuity with effect from 1.4.1992. The promise is still to be met.

(3) All properties and assets of ministers and MLAs were to be declared publicly soon after the formation of the Congress government. This has not been done even after a year.

(4) The undue expenditure on the top brass of the administration has not lessened. Nearly half of the IPS and IAS officers must be sent to the Centre on long deputation. The strength of and expenditure on the police has increased manifold. A large army of 93 law officers is eating up the already limited resources of the state.


Corruption continues

After completing one year in office the Congress government is inserting ads in newspapers boasting corruption-free governance. But according to my knowledge, corruption is still prevalent and a common man has still to pay for getting his work done. I am giving some examples to prove it.

A sum of Rs 15 is charged for a Rs 10 ashtam (government paper) in tehsil towns. Five per cent of the total value of a land is charged for registering the land deed.

Again, Rs 50 is charged for a passport verification by the police; Rs 100 is charged for giving a temporary number for a new two-wheeler instead of Rs 10; Rs 50 to 100 is charged for repairing an electricity fault; Rs 100 to 500 entry fee is charged by the traffic police of each district from each commercial vehicle owner. No FIR is registered in a police station without money. A sum of Rs 100 is charged for the attestation of a document by a Tehsildar.


Water resources

In the Punjab Government advertisement one of the achievements listed is the "judicious use of water resources". As far as ground water is concerned, almost nothing has been done. Rather a promise has been made to install 50,000 more tubewells soon.

Regarding the surface water resource, work on the UBDC scheme has come to a halt due to a scam and suspending top officials including a Chief Engineer. In the case of the Bist Doab canal’s command, the tabs received are tragic. There is, no water in many branches and distributaries.

G.S. DHILLON, Chandigarh


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