Indian corruption: CPM-CPI ties in Kerala strained over transport minister Chandy ouster!

 

Indian corruption: CPM-CPI ties in Kerala strained over transport minister Chandy ouster!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

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It appears that the Communist factions in the ruling Left collation government are looking for opportunities to fight over them, washing dirty linen in public. This presents the leftism and their government in a shabby manner.

CPI (Communist Party of India) and CPM (Communist Party of India -Marxist) are major components of the ruling coalition in Kerala State in South India are still in conflict over their  self importance in Indian politics though their presence is now reduced to just two states: Kerala and Tripura.

CPM broke away from CPI along Soviet-China lines of conflict over leadership of Communist International. After the death of Stalin, Chinese communist party demanded the leadership but Soviet leader President Khrushchev denied that, leading to severe strains in Russo-China relations. CPI followed the footsteps of Soviet Russia while China became the icon of CPM. Although both Russia and China have discarded communism in favor of mixed capitalism, Indian communist wings still toe the same old lines of attachments.

That is the real cause of continued tension among communist factions in India, though many local issues further complicate the discord. CPI blames CPM of showcasing its ‘big brotherly attitude’ and wanted the leader CPM with more MLAs and MPs to consider CPI as equals.

The non-ideological divide between the CPM and CPI in Kerala over former transport minister Thomas Chandy’s resignation over his partial occupation of a lake in his home town with his own construction activities, deepened last week with senior leaders of both parties publicly criticising each other over the fiasco, affect the strength and unity of the LDF.

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CPI was demanding the ouster of a corrupt minister in the Left government while CPM, the leader of the coalition indirectly sought to shield him. Then the court judgment found Chandy culprit forcing him to give in after presenting a bold stand of defiance, refusing to resign. For the minister, perhaps, the strong people have the right cum privilege of looting the public resources. As a minister he only tried to protect his ‘private interests’.

The minister Chandy belonging to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – an LDF coalition partner – resigned but the communists, instead of putting an end to the issue, continued to fight over the issue. Possibly they think this way they can catch the attention of the public. CPI did not attend a crucial meeting of the left parties held in the capital, Thiruvanathapuram.

The blame-game began with CPI mouth-piece Janayugom publishing an editorial on its front page with a string of arguments in support of the CPI ministers’ decision to boycott Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

 

Sources in both parties said the reactions by state leaders were with the knowledge and approval of their respective central leaderships who have also joined the issue. Though criticism levelled by both parties was sharp, both parties said the crisis won’t blow up to affect the strength and unity of the LDF.

 

CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan then convened a news conference to counter CPI’s arguments and CPI deputed its assistant secretary K Prakash Babuto pick holes in Kodiyeri’s arguments. Kodiyeri, it is learnt, convened the news conference as directed by the party’s central leadership. In the morning, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who attended the party’s available politburo meeting in New Delhi, appraised the leadership about CPI’s extraordinary mode of protest. The chief minister also told the leadership about past incidents too in which the CPI tried to score a point by playing to the gallery. “If someone thinks that by boycotting the cabinet meeting, he had tried to take the credit behind transport minister Thomas Chandy’s resignation, he can’t be blamed,” said Kodiyeri who termed the boycott as an ‘immature step’, ‘improper act’ and a ‘breach of coalition ethics’. He said CPI’s act only helped the UDF, under fire over the solar scam commission’s findings, save its face.

The cabinet meeting had started after making sure that Chandy resigned. “We cannot find fault with anyone who might think that the CPI tried to take the credit at the last minute. A government might get both plaudits and brickbats. Taking the credit for praiseworthy acts and accusing the allies for criticisms amount to breach of all coalition ethics,” said Kodiyeri.

This argument was refuted by Prakash Babu who said the CPI never received any communication regarding the resignation of Chandy till 9am on Wednesday. “Neither the party leadership nor the parliamentary party leadership were informed about the understanding on Chandy’s resignation. Our stand was clear and it was not to sit in the cabinet meeting along with a minister who had approached the high court against the same cabinet in which he is a member. Our ministers decided to boycott the cabinet when Chandy claimed after holding talks with the CM in the morning that he would attend the cabinet meeting,” Babu said. He said the CPI didn’t want any credit regarding Chandy’s resignation. “The positions taken by CPI would only strengthen the LDF,” he said. Replying to Kodiyeri’s criticism that CPI’s act helped the opposition, he said if Chandy quit as soon as the legal advice on collector’s report came, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala would have to stop ‘Padayorukkam’ (his yatra across the state) mid-way.

The CPM-CPI ties in Kerala are passing through a rough patch after four ministers of the CPI boycotted Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting as they wanted Minister Thomas Chandy to be sacked. The boycott caused embarrassment to the CPM and the government. Another issue that had strained the relationship was the decision of the revenue department to cancel the title deed of CPM-backed Joice George, MP, whose father had illegally acquired reserved land from Tamil laborers in Kottakamboor in Devikulam taluk in Idukki.

The revenue department went after encroachers in Munnar which included CPM legislator S Rajendran. This had led to transfer of daring Sub-Collector Sriram Venkataraman. But the new person in his place, VR Premkumar, was given instructions by the Revenue Minister to go after the encroachers. This resulted in the issuing of summons to Joice after failing to appear before officials.

The revenue department cancelled the ownership right of 20 acres of Joice and his family members. An inquiry found that his father had made fake documents in the name of six Tamil laborers to ‘acquire’ the land distributed by the government to landless Scheduled Tribes.

Kerala High Court, emphasizing the need for protection of the fragile ecology of Devikulam, provided the much needed vigor to the revenue department. Former Principal Secretary Nivedita P Haran in her inquiry report had indicted Joice for encroaching in five villages through fake documents.

The CPM has set up a body to fight eviction of people from encroached land, keeping the CPI out.

The unnecessary rift

The rift between the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), which leads the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), and the Communist party of India (CPI), the second-largest constituent of the front, has widened after it has come to power in Kerala 11 months ago. Even though the bickering between the two parties has been quite common with the CPI charging the CPM with ‘big brotherly attitude’, this time, it is all over the functioning of the government headed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The differences of opinion between the two parties that cropped up after the killing of two Maoists in the Nilambur forests in Malappuram district in November last year have now become more acute with the CPI coming out openly against the state government’s stand on key issues.

The CPI party has been most critical about the handling of the police by the chief minister, who controls the home portfolio. The party trained its guns against Vijayan after he consistently justified alleged police excesses. He had backed the police in the Maoist killing case by endorsing police chief Loknath Behera’s version that the Thunderbolt men had fired at the Left rebels — Kuppuswamy Devaraj and Ajitha — after they had attacked his men during an encounter.

The CPI, which refused to buy the argument, however, stopped pursuing the case after the state government ordered a magisterial inquiry into it. However, the party raked up the case after the government termed Naxal Varghese, who was killed in police custody 40 years ago, as a hardcore criminal and dacoit.

The home department took this stand in an affidavit filed in the high court in response to a petition filed by the relatives of Varghese seeking compensation for his murder in the wake of the conviction of the police officer responsible for the murder.

CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran viewed the affidavit as contrary to the position taken by the Left in the sensational case. But what has dismayed Kanam was a series of instances, in which home department departed from the Left’s stated positions.

They include the arrest of several people, including writers and social activists, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in various cases. The CPI leader wondered how the Left government could use this law which they had described as draconian while they were in the opposition. The police action against the family of engineering college student Vishnu Pranoy, who died in suspicious circumstances in his college hostel on 5 January, and the subsequent arrest of four social activists, angered the CPI further.

The CPI secretary, who took the initiative to end the fast launched by the mother and sister of the deceased student in the wake of the police action at the police headquarters, has viewed the action as one of the most glaring instances of the government’s departure from the Left’s positions. The party has seen this deviation not only in the handling of the police but also in several other issues, which include the government’s refusal to reveal information under the Rights to Information Act (RTI) and the move to revive various projects opposed by the LDF while in opposition on environmental grounds.

Rajendran felt that the judicial intervention sought by the government to back its decision not to reveal certain Cabinet decisions was contrary to the Left stand on the RTI Act. He felt that the step would erode Left’s credibility as it had worked tirelessly to get the Act passed.

The CPI is also unhappy with the lack of support from home department to the drive launched by the revenue ministry headed by a party minister against encroachments in the state’s tourist hotspot of Munnar. The issue reached the boiling point when the local CPM activists physically blocked Revenue officials from evicting the encroachers, that too in front of police officials.

Though the Revenue department launched the drive as per a collective decision of the LDF, the Idukki leadership of the CPM opposed it, saying that it could affect the poor, who were given land in the picturesque hill town to build houses.  Revenue Minister E Chandrashekharan clarified that the action was against the resort mafia, who have grabbed huge tracts of land and erected multi-storey buildings in violation of the rules, but the CPM continued to obstruct the drive.

Curiously, the police remained a mute spectator when activists manhandled the Revenue officials who tried to demolish a shed built on an encroached land in the heart of the town. Though sub-collector Sreeram Venkatarman directed the police to stop the activists, the police acted only after he asked them to give in writing if they did not wish to act.

Unhappy

The CPI plea to the chief minister to take action against the police officials and to restrain the party men from obstructing the anti-encroachment drive has fell on deaf years. The CPI is apparently unhappy with the silence maintained by Vijayan.

On the contrary, the CPM has tried to put the CPI in the dock. While CPM former general secretary and politburo member Prakash Karat accused the CPI of behaving like an opposition, senior leaders of the party in Idukki, including Power Minister MM Mani have been firing barbs at the Revenue Minister and the CPI secretary. While Mani asked the party not to take the revenue department as their fiefdom, local MLA S Rajendran threatened the officials involved in the anti-encroachment drive. “The officials should not remain under the impression that they would be able to continue with the drive by targeting the common man. Don’t blame the government if people start dealing with you directly,” he warned.

Rajendran also attacked the Revenue Minister saying that he was intervening in needless issues. He has asked the minister to restrain the sub-collector, who, he said, was trying to become a hero with the help of media.

The CPI state executive that met at Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday came down heavily on the CPM for the attack on the party. Party secretary Kanam Rajendran pointed out that the CPI has been pointing out the wrong-doings of the government in order to strengthen the LDF and the government. “We have been speaking as a Left entity and not as a party in the opposition. We have only stated the positions taken by the LDF at the national level on various issues. Any attempt to deviate from these positions will weaken the government,” he said. He said that his party’s attempt was to thwart attempts by certain quarters to weaken the government. However, political analysts feel that the open spat between the two parties would affect governance, which is already hit by a standoff between the IAS and IPS lobby.

 

Charges against notorious Chandy

 

The problem began when the CPM leadership, including CM Pinarayi Vijayan, has made it clear that the minister will be protected at any cost even as many in the ruling alliance want Thomas Chandy’s ouster. It has been alleged that Vijayan’s rapport with Chandy goes beyond immediate political considerations. A section in the CPM thinks of Chandy as a reliable source for party fund-raising.

Kerala transport minister and businessman Thomas Chandy is caught in a firestorm of allegations —he has encroached upon lakeside land to build a resort and allotted Rs 28.5 lakh of government fund to improve its approach road. But Chandy, the nominee of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the ministry, is not new to such scandals. What’s new is the response of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government. Given their history, who would have ever guessed that the LDF or the Communist Party of India (Marxist) would try to protect Chandy?

Sixteen years ago, Chandy was the subject of a hot political debate allegedly initiated by the CPM. In 2001, Kairali TV, the Malayalam television channel launched by the party, sent its then New Delhi bureau chief John Brittas to Kuwait to work on a two-part investigation story titled Neru Thedal (In search of the truth). The investigation accused KP Mohanan, then head of rival Asianet News television channel in the state, of embezzling Rs 420 million from the Indian School at Salmia in Kuwait and named Chandy as the co-accused. Kairali claimed Chandy could evade arrest because he paid a huge fine to authorities.

Today, Chandy is the richest MLA in Kerala with over Rs 920-million investments. Brittas is now an official advisor to the Kerala government and Kairali TV is a fierce defender of Chandy, who is embroiled in a series of allegations, including land encroachment, violation of wetland protection laws and corruption.

Kairali TV is now claiming all allegations against Chandy are false and are part of a political conspiracy to destabilize Kerala’s Left government.

The main allegation is that Chandy’s Lake Palace Resort encroached upon Marthandam Lake and that its parking area was constructed illegally. Further, in the case of Vembanad Lake (of which Marthandam Lake is a part), Chandy is also accused of using buoys to shut off direct access to his resort. This means the often-poor residents of tiny islands in the backwaters can’t use their country boats to get anywhere near the resort. After the allegations surfaced, the buoys have been removed but cases are pending. Chandy is also accused of constructing a road to it by illegally reclaiming paddy land. And that tarring was done in August by Harbour Development department after Chandy allegedly diverted Rs 28.5 lakh worth of development fund of two Rajya Sabha members.

The allegations began doing the rounds since July first week, a few months after Chandy became transport minister. By September, the district collector TU Anupama was asked by revenue minister E Chandrasekharan to conduct an inquiry. On September 22, Anupama submitted the report. Sources in the revenue department say Anupama compared satellite images of the area prior to construction with present images. The collector’s public report says, “Reclamation of land without permission is an offence according to the third section of Wetland Conservation Act. Thomas Chandy has flouted this rule. The approach road to the resort was also built illegally. The direction of the stream near the resort has been redirected without permission. Examination of satellite images proves reclamation of land.”

Since the allegations became public, the NCP has been deeply divided over Chandy retaining his ministerial position. A sizeable section led by the NCP’s national general secretary TP Peethambaran wants him to stay on, a rival group led by AK Saseendran (the former transport minister who had to resign because of a sex scandal) has demanded his immediate ouster. The student and youth wings of the party have already adopted resolutions seeking his resignation. Saseendran and Chandy are the only NCP members in the state assembly.

Also working against Chandy is a clear paper trail. The current DC’s report says that a previous DC, Veena N Madhavan, had instructed the revenue divisional officer to restore the paddy field, after learning about the encroachment. Though the collector sent the instruction on November 12, 2014, it was not executed. As the land encroachment scandal was heating up in August, further documents surfaced in the media accusing Chandy of hiding significant investments — Rs 150 crore in Lake Palace Resort — in his affidavit to the Election Commission.

Meanwhile, the tax rebate granted to the resort by the municipality has been withdrawn. And on September 15, the Alappuzha municipality suspended four of its officials (pending inquiry) in connection with the disappearance of files pertaining to the resort. This had come into focus when the district collector asked the municipality to submit all the rebate-related documents granted to the resort and permission given for the construction of several structures.

Opposition anger

The opposition has been continuously demanding Chandy’s resignation — it had strong reservations against him being made minister because of his alleged dubious record. The Congress has approached the Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau demanding a case against Chandy. “He has no moral right to continue in office. The CM fears Chandy and his money power. So he is ignoring voices even within his party to sack Chandy,’’ said leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala at a press conference.

Naturally, there is discontent in both the CPM and the LDF. What makes matters more complicated is the fact that the revenue department is controlled by CPI’s E Chandrasekharan who has taken a clear position on the scandal. “We have ordered for a detailed probe after the collector’s initial report indicated that there were violations. The government requires more facts to know who did the violations. What I can say now is that the investigations are impartial and are progressing fast. We will not tolerate any encroachment on government land and natural resources,’’ Chandrasekharan said.

Earlier, the Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said that transport minister Thomas Chandy should be expelled from the Cabinet in the wake of the Vigilance Court order for quick verification against him in the land encroachment case. The report of the district collector has confirmed that there is land encroachment in the resort of the minister, and hence he has no right to continue as minister, he told reporters at Sreekandapuram, after a reception to the campaign, Padayorukkam, on Saturday. If Chandy is not ready to resign, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan should expel him from the Cabinet, he said, adding that the minister is clenching to power with the support of the chief minister. Alleging that there is a nexus between the CPM and the BJP, the Opposition leader also said that the CBI’s decision not to move appeal against the High Court verdict in Lavalin case is the result of the secret pact between both the parties. The stand of the Kerala faction of the CPM that the party should keep away from the national alliance led by the Congress against the BJP is also the result of this pact, he said.

Repeating the stand that the UDF will be forced to take up the protest against the GAIL pipeline project if there is no effort to solve it through talks, the Opposition leader also alleged that Pinarayi Vijayan is trying to make another Nandigram out of Mukkam in Kozhikode, where the people are protesting against the GAIL pipeline project.

The BJP state leadership has demanded a probe into the allegations that Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD) funds of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman and Congress leader PJ Kurien and CPI Rajya Sabha member KE Ismail were used for constructing the road. “Chandy wanted to construct an illegal road to his resort. He gets MPLAD funds for the private road from none other than top Congress leader Kurian. Ismail is a top leader of the same CPI that claims probity and accountability. It is ironic that both Congress and CPI are now turning against Chandy,’’ said BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan at a press conference.

Rise of Kuwait Chandy

Chandy began his political career as an activist of the Congress’s student wing, the Kerala Students Union (KSU) in Kuttanad in Alappuzha district in the 1970s. He suddenly vanished from the scene to re-emerge as Kuwait’s most influential entrepreneur with high stakes in hospitality and education sectors. Better known as ‘Kuwait Chandy’ in NRI circles, in the 1980s, he limited his political enthusiasm to Pravasi Congress (its NRI wing), as a highly influential powerbroker in Kerala for the Malayali community in Kuwait. He enjoyed a warm rapport with then chief minister K Karunakaran. Chandy’s adversaries allege that it was his association with Karunakaran that helped him expand his business empire in Kuwait and Kerala.

The evolution of Chandy as a politician with significant clout since his relatively recent electoral debut is quite evident in the strong support he enjoys from Vijayan. Chandy became active in politics during the 2006 assembly elections, when he filed a nomination on behalf of Karunakaran’s now defunct breakaway Congress outfit, the Democratic Indira Congress Karunakaran (DICK). Though DICK had the support of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in the election, only Chandy was able to win. He was then re-elected from the same Kuttanad constituency in 2011 as the NCP candidate after the DICK merged with the Pawar’s party. This brought him into the LDF fold and he became the transport minister in April.

All through Chandy has denied allegations. The minister told HT that he had neither encroached on government land nor the lake. He also alleged a high-level political conspiracy. “All these allegations are politically motivated. If they can prove any of these allegations, I am ready to quit. Vested interests are plotting against me and my party. Nobody would believe that I am an encroacher on government land or lake. The road was constructed using funds from MPs only to help those poor families living close to the resort,’’ he said.

When asked about the recent findings of the revenue department, Chandy claimed that the collector filed the report without hearing his arguments.

Like many other stakeholders in this scandal, Kerala’s environmentalists want action again Chandy. But at the same time they want the government to not stop with Chandy. “The allegations against Chandy are just the tip of the iceberg. A whopping 40 percent of the lake was encroached upon by private parties and most encroachments happened in the past 15 years,’’ points out social worker Jacob Lazer, quoting from a study conducted by the People’s Commission on Vembanad Ecosystem (PCVE), constituted by the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad. “If the government acts tough on Chandy, other encroachers would feel the heat too. The backwaters of Kuttanad are vital to the fragile local ecosystem,’’ he said.

Fellow environmentalist Purushan Eloor says they are “waiting and watching the government’s move over the issue. Since the area around Vembanad lake was declared as a Ramsar site [wetland of international importance], even minor encroachments would invite strict action.” “The defence put up by Chandy about the allegations levelled against him for land encroachment has fallen flat with the preliminary report submitted by the district collector indicating that land has been usurped,” says Kochi-based environmental activist and lawyer Harish Vasudevan. “By defending Chandy and ignoring the evidence piling up against him, the CPM leadership is creating a bad precedent. The CM, who asked two of his former ministers to resign in the face of allegations, is now afraid of the money power and influence of Chandy,’’ says Vasudevan.

On September 9, the administrators of the Mathoor temple in Kuttanad have approached the government accusing Chandy of encroaching upon land belonging to the temple, located close to Chandy’s resort. On September 21, after the TV channel Asianet did a 20-part series on how Chandy used his money, power and influence to escape legal hurdles after his involvement in the land encroachment, its Alappuzha office was attacked. According to a petition that Asianet filed with Alappuzha police, the goons were hired by the minister. The police is investigating the attack.

Observation: Can corruption be ended in India?

Kerala as well as India is infested with many Chandys that first use the government to make and increase their wealth and then become a part of the government to loot the public resources and to decide the fate the state and nation.

Rise of an ordinary Chandy to become a top neo-capitalist of Kerala is phenomenon but not exclusive. Unfortunately, India system provides for all loopholes for the strong people to manipulate and swindle the state cum alien resources. There is an apparent steady helping hand from the government to those that seek illegal wealth. Many rich and corporate lords are the beneficiaries of this process and they use their media to divert the attention of the people from their corrupt practices. Many people share the corrupt booty. Obviously this arrangement has promoted mafias in all fields around.

Chandy’s troubles are not exclusive but prevalent across the state of in Kerala and India s a whole and it does not look like going away any time soon.

Corruption and nepotism are rampant and all pervasive in India in all states and only by degree and level they differ from one another. It is very difficult to root out corruption from Indian society as politicians and officials work for bribes and without greasing the dirty palms in offices – top to bottom – nothing gets done in India.

Bribery seems to be the birth right of greedy Indian politicians and so Indian Parliament should consider making bribery-corruption, public cheating, stealing, etc by political class non-punishable offense.

Under the circumstances when corruption has become a part of Indian system, as the political class is the main culprit in making corruption rampant state wise and nationally it is worthwhile to  consider making corruption a permissible crime and no punishment could be awarded to the registered politicians.

Politicians pay bribes to the people during the poll and spend huge resources to get elected and once they win and become the ruling party or in the opposition they demand to be given the right to loot the nation or state as the case maybe In fact that is reason why the politicians are engaged in wholesale corruption activities. The regime tries to trouble only those politicians who pose problem to their misrule of the regime/government.  .

Without politicians the governments, assemblies and parliament cannot be run and without extra earning by bribes, politicians won’t be interested in entering politics at all. .

If, however, officals and other mafias are engaged corrupt operations they must be dealt with the worst possible punishments.

If political and officals cannot punished for their crimes, the law must be amended suitably to provide them the necessary relief.

Hide and seek principle won’t work.

 

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India: Rahul Gandhi set to become Congress President!

 

India: Rahul Gandhi set to become Congress President!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

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Putting to rest all speculation and debate, Rahul Gandhi, MP, now the youngest member of Nehru dynasty that ruled India for years since its independence in 1947, is all set to take over as the president of Indian National Congress party from his mother Sonia Gandhi. The high powered Congress working Committee in its meeting on November 20 has decided to make Rahul the new president of the party.

Sources said Sonia Gandhi would remain a figurehead and could continue as chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party. Sonia has held the post of Congress chief since 1998, and is now the longest-serving president of the party. The delay in convening the CWC and the suspense over Rahul’s elevation has been the subject of much debate in the party. It was in November last year that the CWC unanimously asked Rahul to take over, but he wanted to follow the election route.

 

But while the election process began months ago and went largely as per schedule, the last leg — the election of the party chief — had been delayed. Though this was attributed to the leadership’s preoccupation with the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat elections, most senior leaders were of the view that Rahul should be elevated before the Gujarat polls.

 

The announcement followed months of speculation that the 47-year-old scion of the Gandhi dynasty would soon take over from his mother.  Party chief Sonia Gandhi has convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Monday to approve the schedule for election of the Congress president. The process of election — from the date of notification to nomination, withdrawal, scrutiny and actual election — will take 12 to 14 days.

Rahul Gandhi, whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather all served as prime minister, was the party’s front man in the last general election. But his 70-year-old mother Sonia remains its president. She has not publicly announced a decision to stand down as Congress president, but party official Mullappally Ramachandran said after a meeting of senior leaders on Monday that an election would be held next month for the purpose of elevating Rahul to the new top post. .

On Monday, the party set a December 4 deadline for nominations for president and said any vote would be held on December 16. It held its last leadership election in 2010, when Sonia Gandhi stood unopposed.

Rahul, who entered politics in 2004, was appointed the vice-president of the party in 2013. He has been virtually running the party for some time since ill-health forced Sonia to take a back seat. Lately, he has also led the Congress campaign in Gujarat from the front, and has been strident in his attacks on the Narendra Modi government.

Rahul Gandhi was elected vice-president of the Congress party in 2013 and has long been his mother’s presumed successor. He was strongly criticised for a lacklustre campaign that led to a defeat by Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2014 general election. But few inside the party, which has since suffered a series of state election defeats, have been willing to publicly criticise the family that has been at its helm for generations.

Rahul has long had the reputation of a reluctant leader, although some analysts say he has displayed greater political acumen since the 2014 election defeat. “Earlier, he was too young and didn’t have a lot of experience, so he used to make mistakes sometimes. But now, he has become more seasoned,” veteran party leader Virbhadra Singh told AFP ahead of Monday’s announcement.

Congress has ruled India for most of the period since independence in 1947 and has almost always been led by the Nehru-Gandhi clan, beginning with the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

It is up to the working committee to decide the time frame, but sources in the party said Rahul is expected to take over before the first phase of polling in Gujarat, on December 9. A senior leader said he could take over by the end of November itself.

Sonia Gandhi took over as Congress president in 1998 after the dramatic ouster of two successive party chiefs – PV Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri. She inherited a weakened party that was in power only in four states and had been reduced to 114 seats in the Lok Sabha. She guided the Congress to power in 14 states within a year of taking over and subsequently steered it to victory in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls after successfully stitching up alliances with a group of disparate political parties.

Rahul Gandhi is taking charge of the Congress when its numbers in the Lok Sabha have dwindled to 44, its organisation is in poor shape and its footprint across the country has shrunk to a couple of states. Clearly, the new Congress president has a tough task at hand, faced with the challenge of strengthening the organisation, re-establishing the party’s credibility and reversing its electoral fortunes.

Unlike her son, who has had the luxury of a 13-year apprenticeship, Sonia Gandhi was a novice when she entered politics. But she proved an adept learner and soon emerged as a leader in her own right. She was well aware of her limitations in managing a complex party like the Congress and was equally conscious of the growing Opposition campaign against her because of her foreign origin. Instead of taking unilateral decisions, Sonia Gandhi adopted a system of extensive consultations with the senior leadership to the extent that she was branded a status quoist. She was so conscious of her inexperience that she hesitated in taking decisions in case she upset anyone. Sonia Gandhi deliberately kept a low profile, never veered from the written script and avoided making any off-the-cuff remarks either in public or in private conversations with party workers. She converted her handicap to her advantage by presenting a carefully cultivated image of an enigma.

Congress led government became  an insensitive dispensation that promoted rampant corruption and nepotism as state cum party policy. That ruin the party and nation.

On the flip side, Sonia Gandhi allowed the party organisation to slide in the decade that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power. Instead of using this opportunity to strengthen the Congress organisation and build a second rung of state leadership, she chose to overlook the drift in the party. The Congress Working Committee was rendered virtually redundant as it met infrequently and never held any honest brainstorming sessions that could have enabled the leadership to get inputs from the ground. The upshot was that the gap between the party and the people widened as Congressmen were busy running after power and positions during the United Progressive Alliance regime. Rahul Gandhi admitted as much on his trip to the United States in September, when he pointed out, “Around 2012, arrogance crept into the Congress party and we stopped having conversations with people.”

Currently, Rahul is busy canvassing for the general poll in Gujarat, the home state of PM Modi and there is a report that BJP might lose the poll there which would be a disaster for the federal government run by Modi. .

As Rahul Gandhi gets ready to take over as Congress president in the coming weeks – with Sonia Gandhi having promoted her son to that post feels elated. The Nehru-Gandhi scion’s elevation has been so long in the coming that now that it is round the corner, the enthusiasm among the cadre is outweighed by growing uncertainty about how the party will shape up under his leadership.

Congress party is a weak structure now one unable to stand even when the ruling BJP is gradually falling following wrong steps through disastrous demonetization and GST. Whether Rahul taking over the party would make any difference to the fortunes of the Congress in the next general poll s remains to be seen.

Rahul Gandhi will be inheriting a party organisation that is in far worse shape than it was when Sonia Gandhi took charge as Congress president. He is not weighed down by any major corruption charges (except the National Herald case, in which he and Sonia Gandhi are accused of conspiracy and cheating with the aim of acquiring properties and assets owned by the National Herald newspaper) As in the case of Narendra Modi, nobody can charge him of promoting his dynasty… he has a family and, at the same time, he does not.”So far there are no reports that his family runs the government.

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are also temperamentally different. She was a hard worker, a consensus builder and known to be accommodative as she gave party workers a patient hearing and never took hurried decisions. Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, is impulsive, believes he knows it all and is inaccessible to party workers. Another difference between the two is that while Sonia Gandhi was happy to continue with the party’s old and established style of functioning, Rahul Gandhi has made it clear he is not impressed with it and that he wants to change the existing set-up and usher in greater inner-party democracy. In fact, he made no effort to hide his disdain and distrust of established party leaders and workers, convinced they had a vested interest in maintaining status quo in the party.

Despite misgivings about Rahul Gandhi’s leadership capabilities and his style of functioning, news about his imminent elevation has come as a relief to Congress workers as it will provide greater clarity about the chain of command in the party. Congress leaders hope now that the uncertainty over his elevation is over, Rahul Gandhi will become more accessible to the party rank and file to enable him to get feedback from grassroots workers. They also expect faster decision-making and a revamp of the party organisation.

Rahul Gandhi is in dire need of a credible and effective political apparatus, which the Congress is sorely lacking at present. Rahul has surrounded himself with inexperienced and non-political players who have little or no grassroots knowledge.

Importantly, Rahul Gandhi has to start winning elections. So far, his track record on this front has not been encouraging. The party’s win in the last Punjab Assembly elections earlier this year after a string of defeats over the past two years was a morale booster for the Congress vice-president, even though it was widely acknowledged that it was Amarinder Singh who led the party to victory.

All eyes are now on the Gujarat elections, the next battleground that will see a face-off between Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. While the Modi-Shah duo cannot afford to lose their home state, the Congress is putting up a spirited fight, encouraged by growing public anger over the poor implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, the economic slowdown, the agrarian crisis and atrocities against Dalits. The BJP is fighting with its back to the wall as it has far more at stake in Gujarat than the Congress.

Recently, Rahul Gandhi has shown the signs of maturity as a senior leader of the party and he is no longer considered a ‘reluctant leader’ and many find him a lot more dynamic now. He has apparently made BJP a little bit nervous on the ‘poor condition of the economy’, lack of sufficient job creation, and ‘faulty rollout of goods and services tax (GST)’ and demonetization. Rahul Gandhi and his team members have managed to use social media effectively to create a discussion around these issues.

Rahul Gandhi needs to pick issues that he can drum up right now and create enough buzz to dethrone NDA during the general election. But, neither the Congress party nor its leader Rahul Gandhi has really picked up such an issue.

Voters want to hear how Congress party plans to change the scenario. Now, this is going to be difficult as any statement by Rahul Gandhi would invite BJP’s wrath questioning what steps Congress party took when it was in power.

Rahul Gandhi is fully aware of the infighting Congress party is battling in many states. Rahul faces the uphill task of energising the organisation and making the members go out and meet people, and sustain their efforts till Lok Sabha elections 2019.

Rahul’s future journey requires him to negotiate and enter into agreements with other political parties to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Lok Sabha Elections 2019.

If Congress hopes to come to power at the Centre, the party has to do make serious efforts to improve its performance in Uttar Pradesh

Rahul can learn from BJP on this front. While Narendra Modi is the face of the government, there is Amit Shah who is leading the show from behind and providing all kind of organisation support. Amit Shah is constantly meeting party workers and party leaders to keep them motivated and plug the loopholes that could cost them dearly during the polls. BJP has consciously made efforts to nurture the second line of leadership knowing fully well that one tall leader can pull crowds but winning elections is beyond being a mass leader. He must choose and promote those leaders who have mass appeal and shown strong leadership qualities. Rahul needs to invest his time and energy with young leaders and that should start immediately.

Since he as the leader at the helm of affairs would be held responsible for all the wins and losses, Rahul has to not only steer clear of unnecessary controversies but provide a vision to the party that would enthuse its supporters to rally behind him.

Congress must evolve a strategy to get the party people rid of corrupt mindset that has collectively caused serious setback to the party’s image. Also, more importantly, he must   ensure that his party people do not nourish Hindutva ideology in any manner, thereby helping the BJP and governments. Tolerance for Hindutva promotion is not good for the Congress party that claims to be secular Democratic Party. Already, wrong policies being pursued by Congress party ostensibly to defeat the BJP have alienated Muslims and other minority communities.

Not many people now trust Congress party.

The end of a fascinating day of two innings 5 days test cricket between guest Lankans and host Indians in India as from a winning position Sri lanka moved on to an almost defeated one but for  poor light  it would have lost to India. Lankan decision to offer a quick 100 to Indian leader Kolhi indeed cost the win of the Lankans. The game was meant to be a draw but Lankans almost helped India win it. India tried tooth and nail in the final session to win this but could not. In the end, the light dipped pretty quickly and India did not have enough time to wrap it up.

Already in a happy mood to violently celibate the victory, Indians are totally disappointed with the shocking lose towards the end.  Rahul is among those top Congress leaders who promoted a school dropout and fake sportboy Sachin tendulkar to the position of Bharatratna. He insulted the honor of India’s highest civilian honor by recommending for a cricketer in order to appease the corporate mafia.

Saudi approach toward Rohingya Muslims!

Saudi approach toward Rohingya Muslims!

–           Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

________

 

As the most important Islamic nation, Saudi Arabian policy towards  problems being faced by Islamic world merits attention.

Generally, Saudi Arabia does not intervene if a Muslim nation faces any imperialist or fascist threat from any non-Muslim country. Similarly, if Muslim minority populations are attacked in a non-Muslim nation by the regime, or its military or police or by the majority population as a sign of hatred towards Islam, Saudi Arabia does not make m any comments, let alone criticize that inhuman act.

This kind of insensitive Saudi attitude has not only disillusioned the affected Muslim populations across the globe but also emboldened the foes of Islam  However, Saudi Arabia has  accepted the Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled their mother land Myanmar.

Riyadh has adopted the same approach towards the genocides of Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar regime and it’s military. Today, the hapless and unfortunate people known as Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar live at the mercy of Bangladeshis.

However, Saudi Arabia is already home to around a quarter-million Burmese Muslims who took refuge in the kingdom under the late King Faisal in the 1960s. The kingdom pledged $15 million in aid to the Rohingya last month.

Myanmar, formerly Burma, is as much a criminal state as Israel has been and as a criminal state it has been fully engaged in killing people. Muslims have been its favorite target for decades and centuries and when Burma became Myanmar the new constitutional extra fittings made the state persecution of Muslims fairly easier.

The pipeline became operational in April following years of delays. It allows tankers to bypass the Strait of Malacca, cutting typical voyages by about seven days. A natural gas pipeline from Burma’s Shwe gas field runs alongside it.

As the world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia competes with Russia to be China’s top crude supplier, expanding its footprint there requires Burma’s help.

 

Myanmar Muslims

Every human has national identity eve if one does not claim it. But Myanmar has imposed the fate of nationahoodlessness on its own Rohingya Muslims, kills them, torture and chases them out of their homes and nation.

The story of pathetic existence of Muslims in Myanmar and their ill treatment by Burmese military, police and criminalized Buddhist monks has been narrated by many world writers. Since USA and other world powers back the military regime in Myanmar the crimes continue unabated. USA and Israel sell terror goods to Myanmar so that the military could “deal” with Muslims.

Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar today are a people without a state and targeted by the state and its military and thus prone to worst kinds of state terrorism. The state terrorizes the Muslims and forces them to run for life and cover and they go to the neighboring nations for protection. More and more of them are being driven out of their nation-Myanmar. How can that be?

When Rohingya Muslims fled persecution and slaughter in Burma in past decades, tens of thousands found refuge in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites. This time around, Muslim leaders from the Persian Gulf to Pakistan have offered little more than condemnation and urgently needed humanitarian aid.

More than 500,000 people — roughly half the Rohingya Muslim population in Myanmar (Burma) — have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh over the past year, mostly in the last month. The United Nations human rights chief has described Burma’s military crackdown and allied Buddhist mob attacks as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

The lack of a stronger response by Muslim-majority countries partly comes down to their lucrative business interests in South East Asia, experts say. Much of the Middle East is also buckling under its own refugee crisis sparked by years of upheaval in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan.

What has been happening to Rohingya Muslims for decades of persecution by the Myanmari military regime is nothing short of holocaust. That the UNSC does not take any steps to end persecution of and genocides of Muslims makes the situation explosive and worst. Burmese regime does not want any Muslim to be alive.

Continued genocides and attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is an international shame- a shame for international community. .

In 1992, 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape the persecution, while more than 100,000 are living in the Gulf States, Pakistan, Malaysia and Thailand. Due to fear of extreme repression, Rohingya Muslims left the northern Arakan region, especially Buthidaung and Maungdaw.

World’s most persecuted humans

Rohingya Muslims  have been called one of the world’s most persecuted people….in addition to their almost total lack of legal rights, many have been regularly beaten by police, forced to do slave labor and jailed for little or no reason. Military bullets target only Muslims.

Continued violence against minority and their ill-treatment by the Myanmar government has annoyed the entire world, especially the Islamic world. Even as Muslims are targeted by the colonialist regimes in New Delhi and Tel Aviv, the perpetual crimes being committed against the Rohingya Muslims try to overtake them.

Like people from war ravaged Syria who throng European nations as refugees, exodus of Rohingya Muslims takes shelter in Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The pictures on social media and migrated persons verify “the rivers of blood, beheading of children and burning people alive—you do not have to be a Muslim to protest this or discern the truth, any person with even a tiniest bit of humanity, as to their hearts will quiver with pain.

Even going by the UN estimates, over 1,000 people may have been killed in the crackdown launched by Myanmar army in Rakhine state. Approximately 500 Muslims were slain during the military operations, while it continues unabated. But media of some Islamic countries pointed out that more that 3000 Muslims have been killed since August 25, 2017 and more than 100,000 civilians have been displaced in Rakhine.

Rakhine State or Arakan is one of the poorest provinces of Myanmar. Among the 3 million Rakhines, there are about 1.3 million Rohingyas in Rakhine State, who have been living there for centuries, and others are Buddhists who are in majority. In 1942, the criminal sections of majority Buddhists carried out massive genocide of Muslims and at least 150, 000 Muslims were massacred. During the military rule (1962-88) in Burma, Rohingyas were treated as foreigners and gradually their nationality was taken away. During that era, more than 200,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh. Only 32600 were given formal protection as refugees.

Historically, Rohingya Muslims arrived in Myanmar in early seventh century. The military junta always is allowed to play the pivotal role in targeting the minority Muslims. It embarked on a systematic program of religious cleansing of the Burmese Muslims who are denied their basic rights, i.e. the right to freedom of movement, marriage, faith, identity, ownership, language, culture, citizenship, education etc. They have also been barred from government employment

State crimes and crisis of refugees

In 2012, thousands of Burmese Muslims were butchered, while brutal methods of torturing, killing, inflicting physical and causing mental harm on them were employed by the extremist Buddhists. Instead of resolving the problem by protecting the minority Muslims, the Burmese military regime was being backed by the US clandestinely and supported the Buddhist rioters. Eye witnesses had revealed that Buddhist extremists have torched several mosques, shops and houses of Muslims. Even Burmese military and police have been found involved in massacre, targeted killings, disappearances and rape of Muslim women.

About 270,000 refugees, mostly Rohingya Muslims, have fled to Bangladesh in the last two weeks. During the crackdowns, security forces committed deliberate human rights violations such as mass gang rapes, merciless killings, brutal beatings, beheadings of babies and children, arson and looting the houses of the Rohingya Muslims. They razed several villages to the ground.

Since August 25, this year, brutal military operations against the Rohingya Muslims across the Rakhine State accelerated in Myanmar, which forced thousands of the Muslims to migrate to Bangladesh. Some of them have gone to India too but the  BJP regime was eager to  throw them out by calling them terrorists. The Burmese regime has launched the Zionist type onslaught on Rohingya Muslims but the UNSC and world powers do not raise their otherwise loud voice against the military controlled regime in Myanmar.

Oil

A recently opened pipeline running through Myanmar, also known as Burma, carries oil from Arab countries and the Caucuses to China’s landlocked Yunnan Province. The 771-kilometre (479-mile) pipeline starts at the Bay of Bengal in western Burma’s Rakhine state, from where most of the Rohingya have been forced out.

 

In 2011, a subsidiary of state oil giant Saudi Aramco and PetroChina, an arm of China’s state-owned CNPC, signed a deal to supply China’s southwestern Yunnan Province with up to 200,000 barrels per day of crude oil, just under half of the pipeline’s capacity.

Saudi Aramco did not immediately respond to a request for comment on shipments through the pipeline. “One could argue that Saudi Arabia is less likely to be outspoken on this (Rohingya) issue because it actually relies on the Burmese government to protect the physical security of the pipeline,” said Bo Kong, a senior associate at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies who has written about China’s global petroleum policy.

State brutalities

Images of burnt Muslim villages in Burma and of traumatized and often barefoot Rohingya women, children and elderly crossing into Bangladesh sparked protests in several Muslim countries. A large rally was held to denounce the crisis in Indonesia, which is working to boost bilateral trade with Burma to $1 billion a year.

In 1992, 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape the persecution, while more than 100,000 are living in the Gulf States, Pakistan, Malaysia and Thailand. Due to fear of extreme repression, Rohingya Muslims left the northern Arakan region, especially Buthidaung and Maungdaw.

Human rights groups raised the pressure on Aung San suu Kyi, the de facto head of Myanmar’s government and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who once embodied her country’s fight for democracy and human rights, has drawn international condemnation for failing to address ongoing rights’ abuses of the Muslim minority.

US-Israel duo accelerates Burmese state crimes

US-Israel terror twins have been aiming to end the Palestinian race once for all and the genocides and military expansionism inside Palestinian territories. They also support the Burmese Buddhist criminals to murder Muslims so that populations of Islam are reduced sharply. Already US led NATO and other rogue states are ransacking energy rich Islamic nations, destabilizing them, killing Muslims in millions.

Israel continues to arm Burma military amid ongoing violence against Rohingya Muslims. Following the hoax known as 9/11 tragedy, the Zionist-Israeli-led America has been taking unjustified revenge of the Holocaust from the Muslims in particular.

Owing to collaboration of the US-led Israel and India with the past and present regimes of Myanmar that general masses, belonging to Buddhism have been incited against Rohingya Muslims, which has, now, resulted into humanitarian catastrophe.

Because of inaction by the US-led international community, this crisis can destabilize the whole region by jeopardizing political and economic interests of America and other Western countries.

Aid

Saudi Arabia is moving ahead with its economic and political agenda in Burma and Southeast Asia, yet can still “claim to have stood the moral high-ground” by previously taking in refugees and providing financial aid. “The important point is that natural gas and oil flows through Rakhine state,” he said.

Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, has also sent at least 40 tonnes of aid. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently took a swipe at other Muslim countries with business interests in Burma, urging them to ramp up pressure on the government there. “There are tens of Muslim countries and governments, some of whom have financial and economic transactions with them,” he said. “If we sit somewhere and engage in condemnations, what is the use of this?”

Protests

Muslim-majority countries have been increasingly promising aid as the number of refugees swells in Bangladesh. Azerbaijan, which also appears to be exporting crude to China through the pipeline, has ordered 100 tonnes of humanitarian aid to be dispatched. Turkey, which like Iran jostles with Saudi Arabia to be the Islamic world’s centre of influence, has mobilized millions of meals for refugees in Bangladesh and vowed to maintain a refugee camp there. It has also provided clothing, part of more than 150 tonnes of humanitarian aid supplied overall.

 

In Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi, tens of thousands protested. Lawmaker Farhatullah Babar of the Pakistan People’s Party has pushed his government to suspend or at least slow the implementation of defence agreements worth hundreds of millions of dollars with Myanmar. He told the Associated Press that an official responded to his request by saying Pakistan is pressing Burma through diplomatic channels to stop the violence. “Pakistan should not be seen as strengthening a regime that is using weapons against its own people,” Babar said. He declined to elaborate on the details of the defence agreements.

A report by IHS Jane’s in February said Burma two years ago bought 16 JF-17 Thunder aircraft, co-developed by Pakistan and China. The defence weekly said Burma is now in advanced negotiations with Pakistan for licensed production of the fighter jet’s advanced third-generation variant.

The 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation held an emergency session on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York to discuss the crisis. The organisation, headquartered in Saudi Arabia, issued a lengthy statement earlier this month expressing “grave concern” over the exodus of Rohingya. But unless its member states take tougher action on their own, there is little the OIC can do to pressure Burma’s government. Jason von Meding, a specialist in disaster response at the University of Newcastle in Australia, said religious differences are not the only reason Rohingya are being forced out.

Human rights groups raised the pressure on Aung San suu Kyi, the de facto head of Myanmar’s government and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who once embodied her country’s fight for democracy and human rights, has drawn international condemnation for failing to address ongoing rights’ abuses of the Muslim minority.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states should speedily step in to end the deadly crisis in Myanmar foisted deliberately by the government that is endorsed by the Nobel Peace prize holder on Aung San suu Kyi to make the Rohingya Muslims  safe, secure and in peace.

In fact entire Islamic world must come out openly to defend the tragic concerns of Rohingya Muslims who continue to live in Myanmar against the fascist tactics of the regime as well as those who are now in other nations as refugees.

School text books generally provide moral stories to stress the need for unity in adversity and the global Muslim nations must learn that principle now so the anti-Islamic forces and their corporatist media lords would not unnecessarily try to defame Islam.  .

Obviously, leaders of Islamic world like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran have to lead such Islamic humanitarian project. .

Islamophobia by core global media is hitting Islam and Muslims!

Crown Prince Mohammad reform: Saudi Arabia attacks high level corruption!

Crown Prince Mohammad reform: Saudi Arabia attacks high level corruption!

–       Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

_______

 

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace as well as spiritual home of Islam, has been in news in recent years as it makes strenuous efforts to enhance its global profile as a leader of (Sunni) Islamic world. It managed the Arab Spring so well that though the phenomenon had struck entire Arab world, starting from Tunisia, just passed by that nation without making any real impact on the Saudi life and politics. However, Saudi government and the king himself were in anxiety and despair until the “spring” died down.

The fact that Saudi Arabians and royal families are corrupt like other materialistic countries has shocked the world as they thought Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of holy Prophet of Islam, was free from bribery and corruption and Saudi kingdom is a nation of honest people.

Corruption is rampant in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. The ruling classes and their allies, close relatives are engaged in wealth creation activities by engaging themselves in corrupt practices.

As the first ever Arab leader Saudi king Salman bins Abdulaziz Al Saud, through his son Crown Prince Mohammad, is now seen taking bold steps to cleanse the Saudi system off corruption and give Islamic laws due place in the system that would g a long way streamlining the Islamic governance in Islamic world beyond Arab nations. . .

All of a sudden Saudi government under Crown Prince Mohammad decided to check growth of corruption in the Islamic nation, found even many of the royal families within the government corrupt, arrested and put them in jail.  According to initial report, at least 11 princes, four current ministers and several former ministers had been detained in the anti-corruption probe.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman has dismissed a number of senior ministers and detained nearly a dozen princes in an investigation by a new anti-corruption committee on Saturday. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire businessman who owns investment firm Kingdom Holding, was among those held. The senior ministers who were sacked include Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, the head of the National Guard.

Those involved in  the historic corruption scandal of Saudi kingdom include: Alwaleed bin Talal, owner of Kingdom Holding group; Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, minister of the National Guard; Prince Turki bin Abdullah, former governor of Riyadh ; Prince Turki bin Nasser, former head of meteorology, environment; Waleed al-Ibrahim, chairman of MBC media group; Khaled al-Tuwaijri, former president of the Royal Court; Adel Faqih, minister of economy and planning; Amr al-Dabbagh, former president of the General Investment Authority; Saleh Abdullah Kamel, chairman of Dallah al Baraka Group; Saud al-Tobaishi, head of Royal ceremonies and protocols; Ibrahim al-Assaf, state minister and executive of Saudi Aramco; Bakr Binladin, owner of construction company Saudi Binladin Group; Saud al-Dawish, former CEO of Saudi Telecom Company; Khaled al-Mulhem, former director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines.

In a statement Salman alluded to the “exploitation by some of the weak souls” who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money” for the creation of the anti-graft committee.

The detentions follow a crackdown in September on political opponents of Saudi Arabia’s rulers that saw some 30 clerics, intellectuals and activists detained. Prince Alwaleed, a flamboyant character, has sometimes used his prominence as an investor to aim barbs at the kingdom’s rulers. In December 2015, he called then-US presidential candidate Donald Trump a “disgrace to all America” and demanded on Twitter that he withdraw from the election.

The arrested officials are believed to be being housed in the five-star Ritz Carlton Hotel, which two weeks ago held a high-profile investment summit under the auspices of Prince Mohammed. The convention centre next door was used to receive Donald Trump in May, when the US president travelled to Saudi Arabia to reset relations with his country’s long-term ally, which had deteriorated under the Obama administration that had pivoted to Iran.

Saudis really are on the brink of dramatic changes.  In 2015, Mohammed bin Salman became minster of defence. Just a few months ago, he became the head of all the internal security forces because they got rid of the Mohammed bin Nayef, then crown prince. Now he’s taken control of the third most important security apparatus within the country, so he has defence, he is in control of interior and now he is in control of the guards.

Clearly he has the stage set. Clearly all the heads of all the major media networks, newspapers, and commentators were all already groomed, set in motion in order to defend the crown prince and his policies. There are already new songs for the crown prince and his glory, so internally they are definitely setting the stage in terms of the three security apparatuses, the media and so on.

President Trump has given his blessings and support to the crown prince Mohammad with the hundreds of billions of dollars of promised contracts, so he’s certainly supporting his various ambitions in the region, most importantly that of the confrontation with Iran in the region. This is something that Trump really wants as well as apparently a promised rapprochement with Israel.

 

Rise of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia houses the holiest Mosques of Islam. As the motherland of Islam, Saudi Arabia was a poor nation until oil was discovered last century.

Saudi Arabia is geographically the fifth-largest state in Asia and second-largest state in the Arab world after Algeria. Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south. It is separated from Israel and Egypt by the Gulf of Aqaba. It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast and most of its terrain consists of arid desert and mountains.

Discovery of oil greatly enhanced the economic and financial prowess of Saudi kingdom. Petroleum was discovered on 3 March 1938 and followed up by several other finds in the Eastern Province. Saudi Arabia has since become the world’s largest oil producer and exporter, controlling the world’s second largest oil reserves and the sixth largest gas reserves. The kingdom is categorized as a World Bank high-income economy with a high Human Development Index and is the only Arab country to be part of the G-20 major economies. However, the economy of Saudi Arabia is the least diversified in the Gulf Cooperation Council, lacking any significant service or production sector, apart from the extraction of resources.

Saudi Arabia is heavily dependent on oil for income and has been suffering since oil prices crashed from more than $100 a barrel in 2014. The kingdom has been desperately trying to diversify its economy away from the commodity, but is still focused on trying to raise oil values and restore its main income source. Saudi Arabia’s risky plot to raise oil prices to save its economy has failed sending the country into crisis. The kingdom tried to manipulate prices by slashing output to increase demand, but the plan backfired as US shale producers continued to pump more oil. Prices have fallen as low as $43 a barrel and remained well below $50 since the end of May when OPEC announced its plans to tackle oversupply. OPEC members Libya and Nigeria were previously exempt from the cap announced in May, but desperate OPEC and Saudi could now pressure the two countries to comply in the hope of denting supply. Russia has already called on OPEC to cap output from Nigeria and Libya in the near future and it will be interesting to see if any new agreements are proposed for both nations to join the oil production cut agreement.

Among the challenges to Saudi economy include halting or reversing the decline in per capita income, improving education to prepare youth for the workforce and providing them with employment, diversifying the economy, stimulating the private sector and housing construction, diminishing corruption and inequality.

In addition to petroleum and gas, Saudi also has a small gold mining sector in the Mahd adh Dhahab region and other mineral industries, an agricultural sector, especially in the southwest, based on dates and livestock, and large number of temporary jobs created by the roughly two million annual Hajj pilgrims. Virtually all Saudi citizens are Muslim (officially, all are), and almost all Saudi residents are Muslim. Estimates of the Sunni population of Saudi Arabia range between 75% and 90%, with the remaining 10–25% being Shia Muslim. The official and dominant form of Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia is commonly known as Wahhabism.

According to estimates there are about 1,500,000 Christians in Saudi Arabia, almost all foreign workers. Saudi Arabia allows Christians to enter the country as foreign workers for temporary work. Americans enjoy special status in Saudi as they are not punished there for their crimes and there could be some CIA agents too among them who promote corruption and create challenges for Islam as part of their mission. In 1980, Saudi Arabia bought out the American interests in Aramco.

Saudi Arabia’s command economy is petroleum-based; roughly 75% of budget revenues and 90% of export earnings come from the oil industry. Saudi Arabia officially has about 260 billion barrels of oil reserves, comprising about one-fifth of the world’s proven total petroleum reserves It is strongly dependent on foreign workers with about 80% of those employed in the private sector being non-Saudi.

Saudi Arabia is called in the West as a monarchical autocracy.  Saudi Arabia is considered a regional and middle power.  Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer in 2010–2014. By 1976, Saudi Arabia had become the largest oil producer in the world. King Khalid’s reign saw economic and social development progress at an extremely rapid rate, transforming the infrastructure and educational system of the country; in foreign policy, close ties with the USA were developed.

In 1979, two events occurred which greatly concerned the government, and had a long-term influence on Saudi foreign and domestic policy. The first was the Iranian Islamic Revolution. It was feared that the country’s Shi’ite minority in the Eastern Province which is also the location of the oil fields might rebel under the influence of their Iranian co-religionists. There were several anti-government uprisings in the region such as the 1979 Qatif Uprising. The second event was the Grand Mosque Seizure in Mecca by Islamist extremists. The militants involved were in part angered by what they considered to be the corruption and un-Islamic nature of the Saudi government. The government regained control of the mosque after 10 days and those captured were executed. Part of the response of the royal family was to enforce a much stricter observance of traditional religious and social norms in the country (for example, the closure of cinemas) and to give the Ulema a greater role in government. Neither entirely succeeded as Islamism continued to grow in strength.

This partly explains why Saudi kingdom is touchy of Sunni branch of Islam and opposes Iran, accusing it of fomenting troubles in Sunni nations. .

King Khalid died of a heart attack in June 1982. He was succeeded by his brother, King Fahd, who added the title “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” to his name in 1986 in response to considerable fundamentalist pressure to avoid use of “majesty” in association with anything except God. Fahd continued to develop close relations with the USA and increased the purchase of American and British military equipment. Saudi used a good part of its income from oil sales on terror goods from USA, UK and other western countries.

As the USA began pushing its own religious and capitalist agenda in the nation of Islam, many Saudis opposed Washington and Saudi Arabia’s relations with the West began to cause growing concern among some of the ulema and students of sharia law and was one of the issues that led to an increase in Islamist terrorism in Saudi Arabia, as well as Islamist terrorist attacks in Western countries

The vast wealth generated by oil revenues was beginning to have an even greater impact on Saudi society. It led to rapid technological modernisation, urbanization, mass public education and the creation of new media. This and the presence of increasingly large numbers of foreign workers greatly affected traditional Saudi norms and values. Although there was dramatic change in the social and economic life of the country, political power continued to be monopolized by the royal family leading to discontent among many Saudis who began to look for wider participation in government

In the 1980s, Saudi Arabia spent $25 billion in support of Saddam Hussein in the Iran–Iraq War. However, Saudi Arabia condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and asked the US to intervene.[55] King Fahd allowed American and coalition troops to be stationed in Saudi Arabia.

 

Hidden economy and rampant corruption

Oil made many poor Arabs rich and billionaires in a few years and they also began looting the nation’s resources by all possible means. In fact, Saudi is  no difference from other corrupt nations like India, Pakistan or USA or UK.

Arabs make huge sums and wealth, both legitimate and illegal. The line between public funds and royal money is not always clear in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy ruled by an Islamic system in which most law is not systematically codified and no elected parliament exists. WikiLeaks cables have detailed the huge monthly stipends that every Saudi royal receives as well as various money-making schemes some have used to finance lavish lifestyles.

Most of rich Arabs keep their wealth in USA and UK. Trump responded in typically combative terms accusing the prince of wanting to control “our politicians with daddy’s money”. Trump tweeted: “Dopey Prince Alwaleed_ Talal wants to control our US politicians with daddy’s money. His father, Prince Talal, is considered one of the most vocal supporters of reform in the ruling Al Saud family, having pressed for a constitutional monarchy decades ago”. Al-Waleed had in fact recently promised to donate all his wealth to charity – although he had years earlier purchased a yacht from Trump, and according to Forbes’s profiles, shares the president’s predilection for mocked-up Time magazine covers apparently featuring his exploits.

Prince Al-Waleed a grandson of Saudi’s first ruler and son of a Saudi finance minister, has an estimated net worth of $17bn (£13bn), although he has used them for underestimating his own wealth. He came to prominence internationally as a major backer of Citigroup in the 1990s, and more so when continuing to back the firm as its value evaporated during the financial crisis. His investments extended into major media groups, with substantial stakes in Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp, Apple, Time Warner, Twitter, and owning Rotana, whose TV channels broadcast widely across the Arab-speaking world.  He has reduced his share in NewsCorp, but his clout was such that an intervention in 2011 in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal was seen as the coup de grace for News International’s Rebekah Brooks, telling the Murdochs from his superyacht in Cannes that “she has to go”.

The investment group he set up in 1980, rebranded as the Kingdom Holding Company in 1996, also owns several global luxury hotel chains, as well as landmark properties such as London’s Savoy Hotel and the George V in Paris. More recently it has backed Uber’s rival ride-hailing firm Lyft. On Twitter in 2015 he called Donald Trump a “disgrace to America” after the Republican candidate floated the idea of a ban on Muslims, and he urged Trump to quit the campaign.

Prince Al-Waleed was an early advocate of women’s employment in Saudi Arabia – hiring a female pilot for his jets, at a time when there was no prospect of women driving on the ground, and speaking out against the driving ban before the regime agreed this year to lift it. His wife, Ameera, who he divorced in 2013, usually appeared unveiled.

Al-Waleed’s international profile was extraordinary – frequently seen with top politicians, Wall Street executives and British royals. But he was an unofficial public face of the Saudi kingdom rather than a key part of the ruling elite – a status underlined by his arrest in King Salman’s crackdown.

In a 2013 court case in London, a judge said that Prince Al-Waleed’s evidence in the witness box was “confusing and too unreliable” as he was forced to pay out in a business dispute. And while the prince already owns a Boeing 747 for his personal use, complete with throne, his ambition to have the world’s biggest superjumbo, the A380, refitted with a concert hall, Turkish baths, luxury suites and a parking bay for his Rolls Royce, remains unfulfilled. Despite placing an order with manufacturer Airbus in 2007 at the Dubai airshow, the plane remains on the tarmac in Toulouse to this day.

Hidden economies promote corruption more than the open ones. Transparency deficit automatically causes corruption on a large scale as it had happened in Russia and now happening in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan etc are ordinary third world countries without any definition of good governance and so corruption is the order of the system in these countries.

The regime and system promote and encourage corruption as a state policy.

Now Arab government seriously considers multi-pronged approach to diversify its economy from oil into other fields of economy, including industries, agriculture, services, military equipment production, modernization, etc.

The highest profile arrest in Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption purge is Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a multibillionaire with huge investments in western firms.  Prince Al-Waleed, 62 and one of the world’s richest men, has become one of the most familiar – and progressive – faces of Saudi in western media. While he has the lifestyle, jets, yacht and palace of a stereotypical Saudi billionaire, he has burnished a different image with interventions such as backing rights for Saudi women and denouncing President Trump on Twitter.

Arab leaders do not distinguish between their wealth and state wealth as they loot national resources  for private use.

Anti-corruption probe and purge for accelerated change

Earlier, former British PM Tony Blaire had to resign for serious charges, including ones related to bribery scandals involving top Saudi officals and ministers. But the issue was never raised in Saudi Arabia or Arab world. Saudi government and king himself were keen not to publicize the corruption sandals of their ministers or officals because that would bring bad name for the nation with Holy sites. But the king or government did  not purse anti-corruption drive to cleanse the system and  present a positive image of  Saudi Arabia.

Now for the first time in modern Arabian history a King, namely Salman has ventured to contain corruption prevalent in Saudi life by his launch of the anti-corruption drive and catching the top culprits in the royal dynasty itself red handed. Well done.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has tightened his grip on power through an anti-corruption purge by arresting royals, ministers and investors including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal who is one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen. Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of the king and owner of investment firm Kingdom Holding, invests in firms such as Citigroup and Twitter. He was among 11 princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers detained.

The purge against the kingdom’s political and business elite also targeted the head of the National Guard Prince Miteb bin Abdullah who was detained and replaced as minister of the powerful National Guard by Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf. News of the purge came after King Salman decreed the creation of an anti-corruption committee chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his 32-year-old favourite son who has amassed power since rising from obscurity three years ago.

The new anti-corruption body was given broad powers to investigate cases, issue arrest warrants and travel restrictions, and seize assets. “The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable,” the royal decree said.

King Salman issued a statement saying that the committee shall “identify offences, crimes and persons and entities involved in cases of public corruption”. The committee has the power to issue arrest warrants, travel bans, disclose and freeze accounts and portfolios, track funds and assets, and “prevent their remittance or transfer by persons and entities, whatever they might be”, according to the statement.

The shake-up of the Saudi government comes just months after King Salman replaced his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef with his son Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom’s crown prince. Mohammed bin Salman has been responsible for pushing through a number of changes both at home and abroad since he became first in line to the Saudi crown. Ian Black of the London School of Economics said the move fit a “pattern of accelerated change” since Mohammed bin Salman became heir. “We’ve seen since June this year, very far-reaching changes,” he said, adding: “That was when Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman, was appointed crown prince.”Since Mohammed bin Salman became the crown prince in June, we’ve seen a lot of upheaval. We’ve seen the announcement of this very ambitious Saudi plan to transform the country the Saudi economy, Vision 2030.”

The dismissal of Mitaab bin Abdullah as National Guard minister came shortly after a missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport. However, Black said the two were probably not related as the sacking came bundled with changes to other ministerial portfolios.

In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia has announced an end to its long-standing ban on allowing women to drive, and Mohammed bin Salman has also promised to return the country to a “moderate” form of Islam. Since 2015 Saudi Arabia has been at war against Houthi rebels, who control much of northern Yemen on the kingdom’s southern border.

It is not clear if the Trump visit emboldened the kingdom, which has been locked in a decades-long tussle with Iran for power and influence across the region. Since then, a swath of economic policies has been launched, along with cultural reforms unprecedented in Saudi history. By mid next year, women are expected to be allowed to drive, to enter sports stadiums and travel abroad without the endorsement of their male guardians.

It is also said the arrests were another pre-emptive measure by the crown prince to remove powerful figures as he exerts control over the world’s leading oil exporter. The round-up recalls the palace coup in June through which he ousted his elder cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, as heir to the throne and interior minister. MbS, as he is known, was expected to follow at least by removing Prince Miteb from leadership of the National Guard, a pivotal power-base rooted in the kingdom’s tribes. Over the past year MbS has become the ultimate decision-maker for the kingdom’s military, foreign, economic and social policies, causing resentment among parts of the Al Saud dynasty frustrated by his meteoric rise.

Saudi Arabia’s stock index was dragged down briefly but recovered to close higher as some investors bet the crackdown could bolster reforms in the long run. The royal decree said the arrests were in response to “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money.”

Many ordinary Saudis praised the crackdown as long-awaited.

 

Reforms

King Salman’s purge should be seen as a part of his reform policy.

In September, the king announced that a ban on women driving would be lifted, while Prince Mohammed is trying to break decades of conservative tradition by promoting public entertainment and visits by foreign tourists.

The crown prince has also slashed state spending in some areas and plans a big sale of state assets, including floating part of state oil giant Saudi Aramco (IPO-ARMO.SE) on international markets. Prince Mohammed also led Saudi Arabia into a two-year-old war in Yemen, where the government says it is fighting Iran-aligned militants, and a row with neighbouring Qatar, which it accuses of backing terrorists, a charge Doha denies. Detractors of the crown prince say both moves are dangerous adventurism.

The most recent crackdown breaks with the tradition of consensus within the ruling family. Prince Mohammed, rather than forging alliances as the usual strategy, is extending his iron grip to the ruling family, the military, and the National Guard to counter what appears to be more widespread opposition within the family as well as the military to his reforms and the Yemen war.

In September, Prince Mohammed authorised the detention of some of the country’s most powerful clerics, fearing they may not be loyal to his agenda and supportive of his boycott of Qatar, which Saudi leaders accuse of destablising the region. The state moves on the home front followed a striking foreign policy stance earlier in the day that appeared to put the kingdom on a political collision course with Iran. Under Saudi pressure, the Lebanese prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, unexpectedly quit his job, citing Iranian interference across the Middle East. Hariri made his statement in Riyadh after twice being summoned to the Saudi capital during the week.

The attorney general, Saud al-Mojeb, said the newly mandated corruption commission had started multiple investigations. The decree establishing the commission said: “The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable.”  “The suspects are being granted the same rights and treatment as any other Saudi citizen,” he said. “During the investigation, all parties retain full legal privileges relating to their personal and private property, including funds.”

Prince Mohammed will oversee the corruption commission, adding to his already formidable list of responsibilities, including his role as defence minister and champion of the economic transformation, dubbed Vision 2030, that aims to revolutionize most aspects of Saudi life within 12 years. Prince Mohammed told the Guardian last month that the kingdom had been “not normal” for the past 30 years and pledged to return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam.

According to Al Arabiya, the new committee, which is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is looking into the 2009 floods that devastated parts of Jeddah, as well as the government’s response to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus outbreak.

The interests of the Al Saud would remain protected. Both King Salman and heir apparent Mohammed bin Salman are fully committed to them. What they wish to instill, and seem determined to execute, is to modernize the ruling establishment, not just for the 2030 horizon but beyond it too.

 

Observation: A step in the right direction

Corruption is alien to Islam. The action against corruption shocked the world- not just the Arab nations or Islamic world alone. The world is under the impression, rather illusion that as the Islamic nation Saudi Arabia would not at all allow corruption in any meaner and that Saudis as the decedents of the first ever Muslims of the world would care for projecting a positive way of thinking and living.

The evil of corruption is deep in Saudi Arabia but without any state efforts to contain and reduce corruption the malice has become large scale corrupt practices. The kingdom’s top council of clerics tweeted that anti-corruption efforts were “as important as the fight against terrorism”, essentially giving religious backing to the crackdown.

The state attack on Saudi corrupt machinery at the top level is a well thought out step to root out corruption from the land of birth of Islam and of Holy Prophet of Islam and His infallible companions.

Nearly six months into his tenure as crown prince, which will eventually see him succeed his father as monarch, Prince Mohammed has launched a dizzying series of reforms designed to transform the kingdom’s moribund economy and put the relationship between the state and its citizens on a new footing.

Saudi arrests show crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is a risk-taker with a zeal for reform but the move would enormously strengthen his place in the governance. The move strengthens Prince Mohammed’s control of the kingdom’s security institutions, which had long been headed by separate powerful branches of the ruling family.

Crown Prince is raising the leverage of power in Saudi Arabia. He certainly has the blessings of his father King Salman and he’s determined to make all kinds of changes in Saudi Arabia itself and in Saudi foreign policy, which led to the war in Yemen and the Gulf crisis. But on domestic front, this is new. Not only do we have a new chapter opening up in Saudi Arabia, we have a whole new book: it’s still all done in secrecy. Why those 11 princes, why those four standing ministers? Is it really just to consolidate power or is there more to it?

In the tradition of Saudi Arabia, revolting against the royals is not a good idea. It’s never been recommended. But does it all end with this or will it lead to more?  There have been signs over the last two and a half years that more of this is coming.

Corruption has been rampant in recent generations in Saudi Arabia and Prince Mohammed had vowed to make business dealings more transparent. The spectacle of royal family members being arrested would add weight to claims of a crackdown on graft. However, such is the manner in which business is done in the kingdom, there would be few senior figures not connected to contract deals that would be considered corrupt in many other parts of the world.

Saudi Arabia’s leadership has pulled off its boldest move yet to consolidate power around its young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, arresting 11 senior princes, one of the country’s richest men and scores of former ministers in what it billed as a corruption purge. The move aimed to reshape public behavior in a kingdom where patronage networks often determine business deals and prominent families secure substantial cuts from lucrative contracts.

However, some in the Saudi capital describe the move as a naked attempt to weed out dissent, and political rivals, as the ambitious heir to the throne continues to stamp his authority across most aspects of public life in Saudi Arabia.

The purge aimed to go beyond corruption and aimed to remove potential opposition to Prince Mohammed’s ambitious reform agenda which is widely popular with Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning youth population but faces resistance from some of the old guard more comfortable with the kingdom’s traditions of incremental change and rule by consensus.

Saudi Arabia, if it becomes a totally corruption free, can positively influence not only Arab world or Islamic world but even entire world of capitalism and imperialism to change for the better providing  genuine scope for redistribution of nation’s wealth on a possible perfect  principle without corruption and inflation.

The world then will definitely be much better than what it is today. In fact, that is the real message of Islam. Faith cannot be  sustained in a vacuum.

 

 

 

Saudi king Salman to relinquish power in favor of son prince Mohammed next week!

Saudi king Salman to relinquish power in favor of son prince Mohammed next week!

– Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

_____

 

Saudi King Salman plans to relinquish power next week in favor of his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who earned a special niche in international area with his  anti-corruption  move,  targeting princes, royal families and top officals with links with royal corridors of power.  Unless something dramatic happens, which is quite unlikely, King Salman will announce the appointment of MBS as King of Saudi Arabia next week, now it is official.

King Salman will not let himself into oblivion but will play the role of the queen of England. He will only keep the title ‘Custodian of the Holy Mosques’. Speculation of King Salman’s possible abdication surfaced in late June, when the monarch deposed his nephew, then deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef as the heir to the throne and offered the position to his favorite son, in what analysts described as a “political earthquake” back then.

The consolidation of power into the hands of one strong man will have little trickledown effect to them. The selling off the ARAMCO shares was going to fund the economic diversification plan anyway, to get the country off its oil dependency.

The development is considered as the final stage in Mohammed bin Salman’s push for power grab, which intensified earlier this month after the mass arrest of over 40 princes and government ministers in a so-called anti-graft probe.  The number of the arrestees in the recent purge reportedly stood at more than 500, and twice that number had been questioned.

Many observers consider the crackdown as a self-promotion campaign launched by the crown prince aimed at consolidating his power. Since the establishment of Saudi Arabia as an absolute monarchy in 1932, the system has been effectively known as a hereditary dictatorship and monarchy.

Prince Salman has yet to present his plan on how to make Saudis take pride in working, historically considered to be a slave occupation.

After ascending to the throne, Mohammed bin Salman will shift his focus to Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement possibly by seeking assistance from Israel, the main enemy of Arabs and aggressor on Palestine, killing the besieged Palestinians, including children. According to a report, the Saudi crown prince has already promised Israel billions of dollars in direct financial aid if they agree.

Islam should not seek help from the Satan sworn to destroy Palestinians and other Arabs and confiscate their lands for expansionist purposes. .

Meanwhile, MBS is convinced that he has to hit Iran and Hezbollah,” an insider said. “Contrary to the advice of the royal family elders, that’s MBS’s next target.”

It was a pleasant surprise, and possibly a big mistake for the Saudis to come out of the closet over their covert relationship with the Israeli Zionists all of this time. The downside is the backlash from the Palestinians for having been played by the Royal Family all of these years, funding them, but in the bad with Israel the whole time.

Riyadh has taken on more aggressive policies since bin Salman’s elevation to the position of defense minister and deputy crown prince in 2015, and later to the position of crown prince.

 

While the Royals run the country like a mafia in religious robe costumes, the kingdom is currently struggling with plummeting oil prices. The Al Saud regime also faces criticism over its deadly military campaign against neighboring Yemen, which it launched on March 26, 2015. Many also see Riyadh’s policies as a major cause of the crises unfolding in the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.

The country used to be a big garbage dump because no Saudi would ever handle garbage. This allowed the first major wave of US company non oil contractors to create the first garbage collection service, with foreign slave workers of course. Thus began the US first inroads of the plan to balance the oil imports balance of trade with development contracts and of course military equipment.

And, of course, the USA and especially Trump will have no problem working with another strong man – be a dictator or democrat or US agent. All that Americans want is the king and allies serve exclusive US interests.

Russia’s strongman Putin consistently polling higher than any democratic leader in history, and our media and government organs propagandize us with stories about how Russia is suffering under a despotic leader, that any suffering is really due to our sanctions and anti-Russian jihad which is only serving some multinational interests.

Political observers consider the recent mysterious resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia as a prelude to Mohammed bin Salman’s push to confront Hezbollah. Lebanon says Hariri, who led a coalition government including Hezbollah, has been forced by the Saudi regime to resign and is currently being held there, with President Michel Aoun calling the detention an act of aggression against his nation.

Senior Lebanese officials and other world leaders have been trying to figure out what is going on behind the scenes in the Hariri case, with many of them pressuring the Saudi regime to secure the safe return of Hariri to his homeland. A source close to Hariri said he is expected to leave Saudi Arabia for France before flying home to Beirut to officially submit his resignation.

The various former colonialists all had their weapons sales inroad with the former colonies, who just happened to be NATO countries so the US was happy to share as it kept those countries arms industry in production all during the cold war.

Higher production runs brought down the “per unit” cost for domestic use, and hence stirring up foreign conflicts became an ongoing dirty business for Western democracies. Even the effective strength of the Soviets was puffed up by the CIA to keep our armaments up.

Western supremacy game today is different than from the Cold War days, but the goal has never been to win or lose, but to keep the game going. And we are seeing that going on now at the most sophisticated level in its history.

Here USA and Russia in their usual ways while China plays a bit differently, while countries like India and Pakistan, controlling alien Jammu Kashmir by illegal and immoral means, is unable find its place in the game.

People just play their usual fiddle….

Options limited on Kashmir:  Returning of sovereignty to Kashmiris best option for India!

 

Options limited on Kashmir:  Returning of sovereignty to Kashmiris best option for India!

(A Sovereign Kashmir: Random Thoughts-315)

Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

________

 

One day every nation would be free from occupation and colonialism would have its natural death as well. Everything including  in the world would end. This is what every oppressed people hope for. Kashmiris and Palestinians top that category of people with maximum optimism. When the Modi government, after rejecting the idea of talks with Kashmiris to end the impasse and find a lasting solution, sent interlocutor to Kashmir to talk to all stake holders, naturally many Kashmiris seeking peace and prosperity as a soverign nation, believe that the day is not far off when they will live in their nation without fear of military attacks. They even hope India would help them become a UN member and help them economically as well.

However in reality India does not have any such big ideas for peace and it always wanted to solve the Kashmir issue militarily. Indian PM Modi has departed from his previous stand and said military cannot solve the problem of Kashmir but dialogues would.  This could be taken as a turning point of Indian foreign policy.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim entire Kashmir and hence the tensions, crossfires at the LOC, mutual murders. Regular murder of Kashmiri Muslims is the most painful act of Indian state violence against the defenseless Kashmiris. Only recently the Kashmiri youth have found stones as their weapons to fight the Indian aggressors. There is the thirds part of Kashmir now under Chinese occupation. Not only Jammu Kashmir has been invaded and divided among the two plus one nations, but even the Kashmiris are being murdered by India.

Kashmiris have been facing difficulties since post 70 years for demanding the right to self-determination. Their kin and kith have been killed in thousands by Indian forces, their properties destroyed, they are jailed, maimed and blinded but now the Peoples’ Movement against an illegal occupation and genocides of Kashmiris changed the scenario in Kashmir.

The recent visit of an Israeli delegation led by Major General Yakov (Kobi) Barak to an Indian Army base in Udhampur on Tuesday, once again, exposes a deep-rooted anti-Muslim nexus between the Indian idolaters and the Israeli Zionists. The meeting between the Israeli delegation and the Indian army personnel in Udhampur is yet another proof of the anti-Muslim nexus and the policies they against the Muslims

Kashmiris must bear this in mind that they are being forcibly ruled by an extremist Hindu right-wing BJP. India led by Hindu fascist forces under Hindutva slogan and their puppets in Kashmir were trying to give an impression to the world that everything is normal and under its control in Jammu and Kashmir. “These attempts are being made to divert the world attention from the Kashmir issue which has witnessed a rejuvenated phase since the martyrdom of Shaheed Burhan Wani

 

Black Day of Kashmiris

 

Frankly, each day Kashmiris have passed through after their nation had been invaded in 1947 upon their own independence by Indo-Pakistani brothers according to their joint plan encouraged by the then British rulers has been a black day for them, the entire humanity as well. Later China, a veto member also joined the party along with Pakistan and India by taking a part of Kashmir for its own use.

That is an international shame, shame on UNSC’s veto members.

India used deceptive method in coercing the JK king Hari Singh to hurriedly agreeing, without any consent by the people, especially in Kashmir, for making JK a part of India and hence Pakistan fought to take Kashmir.

However, India’s ugly colonization on October 27, 1947 is a cold Black Day of Kashmiris, both Muslims and non-Muslims belonging there.  October 27 has been a cruel reminder of subjugation and slavery of Muslims in Jammu Kashmir.  That day has forever scarred in the collective minds of the Kashmiri people as their nation is being occupied by neighboring militaries.

 

Determination for sovereignty

Kashmiris have been waging their historic struggle of the self- determination for sovereignty; their now unified struggle is taking a new phase of peaceful movement for sovereignty and the needed attention of world community. .

People of Kashmir with poise, confidence and unity are taking their inalienable struggle in a new direction of non violence and peaceful agitation.

At long last the Hurriyet leaders have  made a joint forum Joint Resistance to  chart their future action.

The Joint Resistance leadership of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik has condemned and ridiculed the outrageous and dictatorial ordinance passed by the State Government  which calls for  imprisonment for those who call and observe  shutdown as a form of protest .Joint Resistance Leadership stated that observing shutdown is a universally accepted  democratic and peaceful right of protest and resistance and fixing a punishment for it reflects the totalitarian and repressive mindset  of the anti-people  ruling regime.

 

PDP aids BJP in its agenda for suffronization of Kashmir

The JR leadership said that tall claims of  “healing touch” and “battle of ideas” by Mehbooba Mufti and her party before coming to power, have all come to naught and instead she with her partners BJP have broken all records of committing atrocities and inflicting miseries upon the people of Kashmir. They said that during her regime killing, blinding of people, arrests, imprisonment and detention of masses and leadership, arson, canalization of people’s properties, harassment, propaganda onslaught and other forms of repression have touched a new low.

On the other hand Mehbooba along with her coterie of opportunists have further eroded whatever was left of the safeguards of the people of the state by eroding the economic autonomy of the state through implementation of GST. As her tenure progresses so do her compromises with regard to the interests of the people of Kashmir who are under assaults from all fronts.

The situation has come to such a pass now that even the basic right to protest through shutdowns against these moves and constant assaults is now being denied and made punishable. JRL said issuing ordinance calling for imprisonment for shutdowns is with a view to instilling fear of retribution and punishment among the resistance leadership and people of Kashmir in order to discourage them from raising their voice against oppression and for demanding their right to self-determination. But like all such previous repressive measures it is bound to fail.

The JRL said that shutdown is an accepted and acknowledged way of resisting oppression and injustice across the world and that it should stand clear that resistance leadership will continue with this right no matter how much government would try to choke our voice.

The outreach, which indicates a shift in the central government’s approach to handle the Kashmir issue from the prism of security operations without a matching political outreach, has been welcomed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. “Dialogue is a necessity of the hour and the only way to go forward,” she said.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, however, said he would “keep an open mind and wait to see results of the dialogue process”.  Abdullah said the dialogue process started by the centre “a resounding defeat of those who could only see use of force as a solution”, a swipe at BJP leaders seen as loud advocates of a hardline policy on disturbances in the Kashmir valley.

In the last few months the centre has been focusing on cracking down on foreign funding for separatists and in Srinagar, police and army teams have taken out dozens of local commanders of freedom groups active in the Kashmir Valley. Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti welcomed the move. “Dialogue is a necessity of the hour and the only way to go forward,” she said.  Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, however, said he would “keep an open mind and wait to see results of the dialogue process.”

India realized that genocides and terrorization of Kashmiris cannot make them “pure Indians” as per the RSS description and appointed a sort of fact finding committee to talk to various sections of Kashmir to know their minds. Thus a journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, NN Vora, academician Radha Kumar and former Information Commissioner MM Ansari were appointed as India’s interlocutors to Kashmir. But India regime led by Congress party, the cause of all problems Kashmiris face today, refused to implement the recommendations of the commission

The BJP government of India had been maintaining a tough Kashmir policy and had ruled out talks with separatists in recent months. The Home Minister said after completing the exercise, Sharma, a 1979 batch IPS officer with intimate knowledge of the security situation and Kashmir affairs, will give a report to the government of India. Sharma was director of IB from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016.

Earlier, he was the joint director of the IB’s “Islamist Terrorism Desk” from 2003 to 2005. He headed the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Jammu and Kashmir and was the director of the BSF Academy, and additional director and special director in the IB.

Now as a representative of the government of India, interlocutor Sharma has been appointed by the Modi government to initiate a sustained interaction and dialogue to understand legitimate aspirations of the people, especially its youth, in Jammu and Kashmir regions. He meets “elected representatives, political parties, different organisations and individuals he wants to,” Home minister Rajnath said. “Now what we will do for Jammu and Kashmir will do with clean intention,” he said. Sharma has a mandate to hold a dialogue “with anyone he wants.” The JRL must take the full advantage of the move and talk to him. They will not lose anything in debates but might gain a lot. Positive mindset is required.

The Home Minister made it clear that Sharma would have complete independence in deciding who to hold talks with. Asked about the failure of similar initiatives undertaken earlier, Singh said: “Please take it from me that whatever we do, we will do with saafneeyataurneeti (good intentions and clear policy).”

In a supplementary question on previous reports of interlocutors gathering dust in the Home Ministry, he said: “You cannot pre-judge that this initiative will not be successful. Our announcement shows how serious we are about initiating dialogue.”

When asked whether a police officer was capable for holding talks on such a sensitive issue, Singh shot back: “What’s wrong in that. He is an apolitical person having no political affiliation which is his greatest advantage. Besides he is well aware about the internal security situation of the country.”

The minister said that no time limit could be set whether it is three months or six months or more. Rajnath said that PM Narendra Modi had talked to all political parties as to what could be done to find a solution to Kashmir problems. He recalled the Prime Minister’s August 15 speech saying “neither by bullet, nor by abuses but by embracing the people we can solve the problems in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Asked about the status of the resignation reportedly given by Governor NN Vohra and whether it would be accepted in the new context, Rajnath Singh merely replied that the elected government is there and the Governor is there.

Fate of Kashmiris

In the slaughterhouse of the Kashmir valley, even the grievously injured – with pellet-scarred eyes or broken limbs – have remained defiant. Over two-and-a-half decades of rebellion in Kashmir have hardened the indifference of India’s political and intellectual classes to the human cost of the country’s repressive tactics in the valley. The hostility now appears to be total, unbridgeable, and for those on the receiving end, unbearable.

The puppet government in Kashmir – a collection of local elites comprising career politicians, technocrats, and chancers loyal to bosses in New Delhi – considers pellet guns a “necessary evil”, might make us feel grateful. At least they acknowledge the “evil” part – perhaps to address their own guilty consciences.

 

Kashmiris are languishing in jails across India for the past 20 years. “The youth who are jailed were pursuing degrees and were bright students. Mirza Nisar Hussain, Abdul Lateef Waza . Mohammad Ali Bhat and Abdul Gani Goni are in Rajasthan jails since past 21 years while as Javiad Ahmad Khan and Mahmood Topiwala are in Tihar since the same number of years. Similarly,  Bashir Ahmad Baba is in Gujarat jails for the past 13 years, Bilal Ahmad Kota in Bangalore jails since 10 years, Muzaffar Ahmad in Kolkata jail since past 11 years and in Srinagar Central Jail, Feroz Ahmad Bhat, Parvaiz Ahmad Mir and Muhammad Imran Shiekh are few names who are being held for the past 14 years.

it seems that we may have to be ready for bigger challenges and there is an utter need to remain steadfast against the occupation and against the ploys it makes in connivance with the anti-Muslim force.

It is a matter of pride for Kashmiris that despite facing so much hardship our brothers are standing tall against the oppression and the occupation.

Sovereignty calls keep ringing but India pretends not hearing that noisy urge of Kashmiris.  Indian regime can easily give a 100 to any needy foreign batboys on mutual consent, but surrendering sovereignty after killing so many Kashmiris is difficult proposition and hence India hesitates to take the call. .

Possibly, New Delhi still thinks it can prolong the occupation at least so long as Israel does that in Palestine. After all, they are now the strategic terror partners, though it knows too well that it cannot silence the Kashmir youth.

 

State terrorism and unrest

Kashmiris continue to face both Indian attacks and atrocities being inflicted upon them by their own JK government of BJP-PDP. They don surrender themselves before the state terror forces.

India uses Zionist pellets on Kashmiri children.  It turns out that there exist different kinds of pellets, and in 2016, some Indian forces were using the jagged variety – which inflict greater damage to flesh and eyes alike, and which doctors say is far more difficult to remove.

The PDP-BJP government in Kashmir had deployed a fleet of brand new ambulances to securely ferry visiting VIPs from New Delhi, Israel and elsewhere to picnic spots in the valley. This was while protesters were being killed, maimed and blinded – and while the ambulances carrying them to hospitals were coming under fire from security forces.

The paramilitaries and the police have been deliberately firing into faces of Kashmir youth and children.  Some suffer limited loss of vision, some will lose one eye, some both, and some will be impaired for life, but the pitiless assault on protesting adolescents’ forces us to ask one question: is the Indian state happy to blind a generation?

It is inconceivable that policy makers in New Delhi or their advisers in Kashmir could be unaware of the destructive power of “non-lethal weapons”. Earlier this year, the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations and Physicians for Human Rights published a report titled “Lethal in Disguise” at close range.  Medics and parents were desperate to save vision in at least one eye for those who had been shot, attempting to extract the jagged and irregular pellets.  Indian core media speak calmly of the need for “harsh love” toward civilian protesters to rationalize the state’s ruthless response.

With a hubris derived from its might and military dominion over Kashmir, the state convinces itself that it has the power to inflict blindness. In no time, then, it blinds itself too – to the character of democracy that is its central founding principle. The harsh repression of Kashmiri protests, the Nobel prize-winning Indian economist Amartya Sen declared in July, is “the biggest blot on India’s democracy”.

It appears that the Indian BJP government, clouded by a newfound chauvinism and a hunger for Hindu votes, is in no mood to listen to the nation’s voices of sanity. In August, only a few days after Indian forces in Srinagar murdered a 21-year-old cash-machine watchman by firing 300 pellets into his body from close range, the Indian prime minister used a speech on Kashmir to taunt Pakistan over its own atrocities against separatists in the province of Balochistan, where the Pakistani army has inflicted forced disappearances and summary executions on the Baloch people.

Indians need to interrogate the circumstances that have led to the deliberate blinding of hundreds of young people at the hands of armed forces in Kashmir, before this too is forgotten.

True, Kashmiris have become accustomed to the violence inflicted on them  when pellets were first sprayed at protesters in the heated summer of 2010, and most people processed this as nothing more than a new misfortune; just another element of the war in Kashmir. If one were to draw a diagram of the assaults inflicted on Kashmiri bodies over the decades, hardly a single part would remain unmarked: in the 1990s, when the violence was at its worst, the eyes were spared; now they seem to have become a favourite target.

Many Indians have condemned Indian military arrogance in Kashmir. There has been some dissent in India in favor of Kashmiris. Journalists, activists, even some politicians, have written elegiac columns and essays on the savage response to the rebellion in Kashmir. They have implored their government to cease the brutality, to be kind, and to talk to Kashmiris. But it appears that the Indian government, clouded by a newfound chauvinism and a hunger for votes, is in no mood to listen to the nation’s voices of sanity.

A new generation of freedom-seekers grows up into blinded, maimed, adulthood, and they will carry our guilt-ridden consciences for the world.

How sad that India has become a criminal state at par with Zionist Israel! How is it all right for a constitutionally democratic and secular, modern nation to blind scores of civilians in a region it controls?

India officially is not an authoritarian state, not a crackpot dictatorship, not a rogue nation or terrocracy or warlord outside of legal and ethical commitments to international statutes, but a known outside as a democratic country, a member of the comity of nations. How are India’s leaders, thinkers and its thundering televised custodians of public and private morality, all untroubled by the sight of a child whose heart has been penetrated by metal pellets?

This is the kind of cruelty we expect from Assad’s Syria, not the world’s largest democracy.

 

Observation: Kashmiris must not miss the bus!

 

To recap, over 1000,000 people have been killed by Indian occupation forces during the last two decades alone in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

India maintains a huge chunk of indefinite thousands of soldiers in the JK territory and the military bosses enjoy immunity or all its crimes against humanity in Kashmir.

State murders and terrorization fueled anti-India sentiment in Kashmir that runs deep among Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population and most support rebels against Indian rule despite a decades-long military crackdown to fight the armed rebellion.

Kashmiris hate Indian forces so much that they in protest against continued aggression and oppressive measures to silence Kashmiris unfurl Pakistani flags and shout pro-Islamabad slogans. India’s core Hindu media lords harp on this aspect to threaten the lives of Kashmiris. They want the military forces to kill every Kashmiri Muslims if possible with Zionist guns.

As usual, in order to not accept the reality of popular non-violent uprising for sovereignty, India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, allegations that Pakistan denies. Now is clear that Pakistan has no role in the popular unrest which is a natural response to Indian military yoke.

Now India knows that even if Pakistan asks them to stop agitations they are not going to stop it unless India agrees to free Jammu Kashmir from its constitution.

That is their own struggle which is obviously supported by many countries mainly Pakistan. Rebel groups have largely been suppressed by Indian security forces in recent years, killing them as if they are birds, and public opposition to Indian rule is now principally expressed through street protests.

Indo-Zionist terror goods are not matched by stones of Kashmiris.

Notwithstanding the “exploiters and opportunists” who work as Indian agents and informers, the integrity and tremendous resilience of Kashmiri people that despite being no match for India in terms of population and resources, are giving such a stiff resistance to achieve the fundamental political rights.

 Kashmiris should get back their nation: Jammu Kashmir. Only a peaceful solution could be reliable. For any peaceful solution dialogs and talks are a must. It is only through talks Palestinians cold get their nation back as Indian state violence through Isreali terror goods, cannot be defeated by Kashmiri stones. No regional peace can be achieved and even if some stop gap arrangement is made by a truce, etc, achieved it won’t be stable.

Hurriyat leaders particularly Syed Geelani must seize the opportunity made available by New Delhi by deputing an interlocutor with a Cabinet Secretary rank and Z category personal protection shield,  the Modi government seems to have shown interest, if not determination, to find a durable solution to the explosive situation in Kashmir like unrest and sovereignty  question.

Obviously, India would offer to return sovereignty to Kashmiris or let Kashmir be a part of Pakistan which now has been totally destabilized and economically ruined. Currently what India wants is to create an atmosphere for Kashmir to return to ‘normalcy’. India seeks to end the unrest and agitations for whatever causes and resume occupational crimes in Kashmir and let the UN know that everything is quite normal in Kashmir. Thus India would get their legitimacy to misgovern Kashmir as before.

But the freedom groups must put forward their views and demands very clearly to the interlocutor who perhaps has been chosen to find a permanent solution. They should not insist on joining weak Pakistan but instead must argue for a soverign Kashmir.  Pakistan cold be put forwards only as an alternative option but in mild manner. India should taken into confidence that once it becomes a free nation, Kashmir would maintain good neighborly relations with India as well Pakistan and would pursue a neutral foreign policy without any confrontation with India or Pakistan.

By refusing to talk to Indian interlocutor, the Hurriyat leaders only lose the opportunity to be heard officially. Kashmiris have lost buses before but this bus is very special one and missing it for whatever reason would not be in the genuine interests of Kashmiris. Geelani and friends must give up their petrified mindset molded due to Indian military arrogance and genocides in Kashmir valley, and talk to Indian official representatives and find a genuine resolution.

At long last, the Human Rights Commission has gathered courage to order India for a probe into one of the world’s strangest crimes – secret graveyards of Kashmir. Hopefully, the probe would bring out the truth about secret graveyards and Indian agenda for Kashmir.

Human rights abuses in Jammu Kashmir by occupation forces from India are too high that even UN had to condemn that. The military and governments have terrorized Kashmiris so much that they don’t want to be a part of India

Today, the situation in unrest Kashmir is so explosive and complicated that India has just two options-  one positive and sensible:  grant sovereignty to Kashmirs for a peaceful and settled  life or two, kill every Kashmiri and confiscate their lands as the criminal Jews are doing in Palestine as part of their expansionist agenda in West Asia and now  they are trying to get a piece of land from Syria as well as a selfish leader Assad is determined to get  the nation of Sunni Syrians divided.

Yes, Indian options are strictly limited and whether it wants to be a genuine secular democracy or a criminal state like Israel, the Modi government must decide, quickly.

India and Pakistan have better things to do than fighting over an illegal entity called Jammu Kashmir.

India: Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit draws fire for meeting district officials!

India: Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit draws fire for meeting district officials!

– Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

_____

 

 

 

Tamil Nadu governor’s action of talking directly to the officals has been criticized by political leaders in the state who argue Governor cannot do that as there is an elected government, MLAs, MPs, ministers, who would do that job and Governor should not have assumed the role assigned for the state government

 

Tamil Nadu’s newly appointed Governor Banwarilal Purohit seems to have departed from the usual practices of governors in India who just enjoy life at the high bungalows, attend important meetings, inaugurate conferences, etc,  and sign the necessary documents.

 

Governor Purohit on November 14 held review meetings with top district officials in Coimbatore. However, this did not go down well with the opposition, with some politicians objecting to it.  The Governor had arrived in Coimbatore to attend the convocation ceremony of Bharathiar University.

 

Later, in the day, he held meetings with the district officials, including the collector, city police commissioner and corporation commissioner and other senior officials. This has set off a debate over whether the Governor overstepped his Constitutional remit and was interfering in the affairs of the district administration.

 

Informal meeting

 

The informal meeting of government officials convened by Tamil Nadu’s new Governor, Banwarilal Purohit, in Coimbatore raised eyebrows, as the meeting was ostensibly meant to get a briefing on activities and governance in the district, usually not part of the Governor’s role. The meeting reportedly included Powerpoint presentations by Coimbatore District Collector T N Hariharan and about a dozen senior officials, inviting criticism from several opposition parties in the state.

 

Besides the collector, among the top officials in Tuesday’s meeting with Purohit were the Superintendent of Police, city police commissioner, senior Revenue, PWD, Highways and Health officials and the Coimbatore corporation commissioner, sources said.

 

 

A secretary in the government said that usually the collector and the SP meet the Governor during his/her visit to districts. “Such meetings may also include informal conversations about the district. But a Governor meeting officials and formally demanding a briefing or presentation is unusual,” the officer said.

 

While former Governors confined most of their meetings to the Raj Bhavan in Chennai, Purohit’s office said he will attend more programmes in Coimbatore on Wednesday, overseeing progress of Swachh Bharat scheme in the district, among others.

 

Collector Hariharan said, “It was not a review meeting. He is a new Governor. Unless he knows about the district, he cannot contribute in development.” Hariharan added that Purohit had worked in a similar manner during his earlier stints at Governors of Assam and Meghalaya. Asked whether the meeting was part of usual protocol and briefings formal, Hariharan said, “It was an official but informal meeting.”

 

Reaction

 

Politicians and officials in Tamil Nadu are mindful of the fact that Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi neighbouring Puducherry has already challenged the elected government on several policy and administrative decisions.

 

 

State Congress chief S Thirunavukkarasar said, “When we have an elected government, with a Chief Minister and ministers, the Governor need not to go to districts and meet officials.” The CPI (M) and Dalit party VCK were among other parties that criticised Purohit’s decision to reportedly demand briefing from officials.

Asked about Purohit’s approach, a senior jurist said that there is “nothing unusual” in a Governor meeting officials, as he is the head of the state.

 

Fringe political outfits like Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam, led by its chief K Ramakrishnan, tried to hold a black flag demonstration and were removed by the police.

 

All opposition leaders have condemned the Governor’s action as ‘silly’. Objecting to Governor Purohit’s meetings in Coimbatore, CPI (M) G Ramakrishnan said, “This only proves, yet again, that the government here is under the control of the BJP and is acting as its handmaiden”.

 

VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan said: “It is unconventional and unnecessary for the governor to intervene in administration. In Delhi and Puducherry, at least there is a justification for governors intervening in government administration since they are Union territories.”  Congress functionary A Gopanna said: “As far as our constitutional scheme of things is concerned, the Governor, when he or she has any issue to take up with the State government, can get it done through the council of Ministers. It would not be healthy for him to interfere in the functioning of the administration.”

 

But a senior IAS officer recalled that when he was the collector of Tindivanam, he received specific directions to ignore the visit of then Governor M Chenna Reddy, whose power tussles with the then J Jayalalithaa government were infamous. “We used to get directions from the government  not to meet or listen to his (Chenna Reddy’s) instructions. I have never seen such a crisis after the tenure of Governor Reddy,” the IAS officer recalled.

 

 

A bureaucrat TNM spoke to said that it was an abnormal move. Another said, “In the last few decades, TN Governors and Chief Ministers have had an amicable relationship. But I wonder if a CM like Karunanidhi or Jayalalithaa would have allowed this?”. Another bureaucrat however disagreed. “The Governor is not familiar with the scenario in TN. Also, it is important that he is familiar with the bureaucracy. As long as he didn’t give them instructions on what to do, such a meeting is well within his rights,” the bureaucrat said.

 

DMK MP and organizing Secretary RS Bharati alleged that the BJP was trying to repeat in Tamil Nadu what it has done in other states while saying, “It is completely unacceptable.”

 

Meanwhile, BJP state president Tamilisai Sounderajan defended the governor and said, “We should look at the meetings in a positive manner. Just because there is no precedent, it doesn’t stop a governor from meeting officials for the welfare of the state.”

 

Unusual Governor

 

Banwarilal Purohit is a public personality inseparably involved in social, political, educational and industrial fields of Vidarbha in Maharashtra.Purohit entered the field of politics in 1977. He had won Maharashtra Assembly election for the first time in 1978 from Nagpur east seat. Soon after, he was re—elected in 1980 from Nagpur south and became a minister in 1982. In 1984 and 1989, Purohit was elected to the Lok Sabha from Nagpur-Kamptee seat and was a member of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of Defence Ministry. He was re-elected from the Lok Sabha seat in 1996 and served as a member of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Home Affairs, Member of Standing Committee on Defence and Member of Public Sector Undertaking Committee. Switching between BJP and Congress, he was under criticism and had a difficult time, especially after 2000. He was appointed as the Governor of Assam in 2016, along with the additional charge of Meghalaya. Purohit is also credited with revival of ‘The Hitavada’, an English daily founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the mentor of Mahatma Gandhi. Under him ‘The Hitavada’ became a leading newspaper of central India and apart from its headquarters edition at Nagpur the daily also launched editions from Jabalpur, Raipur, and Bhopal.

 

As a full-time Governor, Banwarilal Purohit, who was appointed as TN governor when he was Governor of Assam, was expected to face the challenge of handling the volatile political situation in the state following the unexpected death of CM Jayalalithaa. .

 

Divisions in the ruling AIADMK created problems for the former Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao but he handled well the delicate issue of putting a new government in office. He very tactfully denied Sasikala’s strenuous efforts to become the chief minister after managing the show of taking over the party. Many Party leaders have close financial links with her and hence they supported her. Rao waited for the judgment of Supreme Court on the s disproportionate assets case and his decision has been validated as Sasikala was sent to jail, instead of Madras Fort about which she possibly had been dreaming for years as Jayalalithaa was ill.

 

Later after Palanisamy was sworn to power as CM of Tamil Nadu, O. Pannerselvam also joined his government; there has been a demand from the opposition DMK and Dinakaran, a AIADMK rebel leader and nephew of jailed Sasikala to ask the Palanisamy to prove  hi s majority n the assembly, but Governor Rao did not oblige them as he did not think   Dinakaran and his supporting MLAs oppose the AIADMK government and  that he is angry maybe because  EPS had not made him a minister.

Dinakaran himself told reporters in Chennai he still believed that the Governor would take a “good” decision on the demand of the 19 MLAs owing allegiance to him on the removal of the Chief Minister. He said he was giving time for Palaniswamy to step down on his own.

 

Following the development, the DMK and other Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu accused the Governor of playing a “partisan” role and “passing the buck” by refusing to convene a meeting of the Assembly for the AIADMK government to prove its majority. They demanded a full time Governor for the state.  Indian Home minister Rajnath Singh is believed to have told them that the issue was now within the ambit of “internal affairs” of the AIADMK and the Governor had nothing to do with it.

Reacting to the reported remarks of the Governor, DMK leader MK Stalin alleged that Rao was behind the coming together of the two factions of the AIADMK as he was acting at the behest of the Modi government which was using agencies like the Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate to threaten AIADMK leaders. Stalin said the Governor was playing politics.

 

The BJP in Tamil Nadu strongly defended the role of the Governor, saying opposition parties were trying to politicize the issue.

 

Tamil Nadu politicians should think beyond vote bank politics and consider the problems people face in the state and think about how to help the people. They must sympathetically consider the d efforts of the Governor Purohit for the state and support him all through.

 

Clearly, TN Governor Purohit is an unusual governor who is eager to play his role in streamlining the state politics and policies of Tamil Nadu government. Possibly he aims at speed up administrative works and attack corruption as Tamil Nadu is one of leading corrupt states in the country with a lot of poverty and illiteracy.

 

Hopefully Tamil Nadu and India as a whole would benefit from Governor Purohit’s earnest efforts to help the Tamils.