Mumbai:Building on forest land stayed


       No Constructions Will Be Allowed On The Plots, Advocate-General Informs High Court  

      TIMES NEWS NETWORK  Mumbai: The government on Wednesday informed the high court that it will not act on the issue of private forest land for 12 weeks. 
  

       Allaying fears of an immediate fallout of the high court judgment upholding the state government’s claim over huge swathes of private forest land in the city, the advocate-general on Wednesday informed the HC that it will “not act for 12 weeks’’ on the changed entries or notices that declared the land as private forest. But he also said no new constructions will be permitted on any of the said plots that are vested with the state.
          The builders and resident welfare associations, whose petitions were dismissed by the HC, have three months to move the Supreme Court in appeal. The developers had sought a stay on the HC order.
          Declining a stay, the bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice S C Dharmadhikari recorded the advocate-general’s statement that no action would be taken in the next three months.
         Though unspecified, this means that there will be no initiation of demolition proceedings, but no construction will be permitted either. So, projects that have been partially sanctioned by the BMC will also not be allowed to get off the ground.
         Senior counsel Janak Dwarakadas, who represented a builder, asked the court to allow construction to commence on projects where the BMC had given commencement certificates (CC). Not accepting the plea, the court said all CCs have been rendered void after the judgment.
   The HC order has declared nearly 900 acres of land in and around Mumbai as private forest land. As these are reserved forests, no construction can be carried out on them.
            All existing structures on the forest land have been declared “encroachments’’ by the HC order.
         While passing its landmark judgment on Monday, the court had significantly held that the “state cannot be prevented from taking further steps to safeguard and protect private forests.’’
         The court further said, “If the state desires not to allow any encroachment on reserve forests, then we cannot, in any manner, prevent it from doing so. As held by the Supreme Court, these are matters of larger public interest. If larger public interest is going to be subserved by protecting and safeguarding forest wealth, greenery and (the) environment, then the petitioner cannot complain.’’
         In its 155-page judgment, the court found no merit in the petitioners’ stand that the land, for which a showcause notice was served 50 years ago to declare them as private forests, can no longer be treated as forest land as the plots were subsequently declared fit for residential/industrial or commercial use.
         In a warning, the court also said, “The lapses, omissions or commissions on (the) part of government officers’’ would not affect the legal status of the private forests.

Andher Nagari : Mumbai Police & Judiciary


100 court hearings & 14 years later, man walks free in 1 hour  

      Rukmini Shrinivasan | TNN  Mumbai:

       The much-hyped but much-delayed special courts, which the government set up last year to try 1992-93 riots cases, disposed of the first case on Tuesday—a man accused of stealing two cans of groundnut oil 14 years ago was acquitted. Metropolitan magistrate R C Bapat Sarkar took a little over an hour to acquit Abdul Ghaffar, whose case was one of the “priority’’ cases especially chosen by the government to be tried in the new courts.
           Ghaffar (45), a sherbet seller on Mohammed Ali Road, was arrested by the Pydhonie police in May 1993 for “breaking into’’ and “stealing’’ two cans of oil from a godown near his house in December 1992, an offence registered by the Dongri police.
   

        “Dozens of us were rounded up during those days and charged with offences ranging from theft to murder depending on our ‘look’,’’ Ghaffar said during a break from work at his house near Suleman Usman Bakery. “I was in custody for two-and-a-half months. They beat me up and tortured me in ways that I cannot tell you,’’ he added.
         

       Charged under Sections 380 (robbery) and 454 (trespass) of the IPC, Ghaffar’s trial began at the Mazgaon magistrate’s court and has seen 100 hearings. “My date would come up every two weeks. I’d go to court, sign my name, and then be told that the case was adjourned. I’d return home by evening, a day’s earnings lost,’’ said Ghaffar. 
   

       For the last two years, there was no hearing and Ghaffar was told by the police that his case had been put in the dormant file. Then, a few days ago, he got summons asking him to appear in a new magistrate’s court at Fort, he said.

Cops had no proof to link Ghaffar with theft

       Mumbai: With no lawyer, sherbet seller Abdul Ghaffar, who has been acquitted of the charge of stealing two cans of groundnut oil 14 years ago, sat in the courtroom all of Tuesday morning.
          Human rights activist and lawyer Shakil Ahmed of Nirbhay Bano Andolan, which seeks justice for riots victims, had dropped in at the courtroom to see which of the specially selected cases was going on.
          “While the real culprits—politicians and policemen—escape prosecution, ordinary people like Ghaffar have been made to do the rounds of courts for 14 years for minor offences and with no evidence,’’ said Ahmed.
          The lawyer then read the case papers and argued Ghaffar’s case before magistrate Bapat Sarkar.
          Of the three witnesses on record, two were cops and the third—the pancha—said in his statement that he did not know why the police had caught him and that he knew nothing about the case.
          The police had no evidence to link Ghaffar to the two cans they claimed to have recovered. The magistrate acquitted him.
          “I’m just glad that it’s all over. We never wanted to get mixed up with the police. We are only concerned about our family and giving our four children a good education,’’ said Naseem, Ghaffar’s wife
rukmini.shrinivasan@timesgroup.com  

Gujarat: Provident Fund Office:Man strips to get PF money


Man strips to get PF money


       VADODARA: A 41-year-old man, tired of running from pillar to post for his provident fund (PF), took Gandhigiri to new heights on Wednesday morning. Just like a character in Lage Raho Munnabhai, he stripped in the PF office at Akota to register his protest. The ploy worked. Senior officials have also suspended a clerk for delays and promised him the money before April 15.

       Indravadan Patel had been coming from Atali village to the PF office since January for his Rs 50,000. But officials would ask him to come back another day with one document or another. Patel claimed that an employee had asked for Rs 1,000 bribe which he paid after borrowing from a friend.

      “When I came to submit a form to redeem the money on January 1, I was asked to submit birth certificates of my sons. I submitted them on January 3 and was assured that I would get the money on February 2,” said an agitated Patel, who worked for nine years in a private firm in Karjan that shut down last year.

      “On February 22, my application was rejected. It was sent back to the company which revised the form and returned it to the PF office again. I was then asked to submit my wife’s birth certificate, bank statement and experience certificate.” On Tuesday evening he was told to come on April 10. By then, Patel had lost his patience. He came to the PF office on Wednesday and stripped down to his underwear.

       “I had to sell my wife’s jewellery and borrow money to sustain my family. These people have no heart.” He admitted that he was not only inspired by Munnabhai but also Pooja Chauhan, the woman in Rajkot who had stripped and walked the streets in Rajkot to protest.

      The police have booked him for indecency in public but Patel has filed a police complaint against PF officials for mental harassment.

       Regional PF officer MP Sinha immediately suspended clerk Nagendra Kumar. “His claim is due for settlement before April 15. I will ensure that he gets his dues,” he said.

RTI: Delhi Police reluctant to give information


          RTI: Delhi Police must realise times are changing.

Ed

        Delhi Police demands Rs 24,500 for answering RTI question

          The Right to Information ( RTI) Act, enforced in 2005 to ensure transparency in the government’s functioning, is now being “ misused” by the Delhi Police as a way of making quick money.

      Reena Banerjee, director of Nav Shrishti, a Delhi- based NGO working for child and women’s rights, was in for a rude shock when she filed an RTI application with the Delhi Police asking for details of children who went missing or were kidnapped in the Capital last December.

         The NGO received a letter from Delhi West and South West district police, which stated that she could get the relevant information if she coughed up Rs 12,224 for each district. According to RTI rules, an applicant needs to shell out no more than Rs 2 per page — if at all the applicant has asked for photocopies of certain documents.

       Banerjee said, “ Why should the police demand an unreasonable amount to part with information, which the Centre is supposed to provide free of cost to its citizens?”

        According to the Delhi Police’s reply to Banerjee’s RTI application, “ A sub- inspector at Rs 773 per day for a day, a head constable at Rs 451 per day for a day and 13 constables at Rs 425 per day for two days would be needed for the information to be gathered.”

        The total amounted to Rs 12, 224 for each of the two districts. She has now complained to the Central Information Commission ( CIC), the supreme authority looking after the RTI, and is waiting for a response. Deputy commissioner of police ( South West District) Shalini Singh said: “ The information the applicant had asked for is not readily available with us and will require many policemen to work in tandem. We had to ask for extra charges, and a breakup of the cost was given to the applicant in writing.”

        She said the department had no problem giving out information that are “ readily available” at respective police stations without extra charge. Santosh Jha, an RTI activist of Parivartan, an organisation working to ensure just, transparent and accountable governance, said demanding money to provide information under the RTI was “ unlawful”.

        “ We have come across several cases in other states as well where the Public Information Officer ( PIO) has demanded money to give information.

        It is illegal. According to the RTI Act, all information is to be provided free of cost to the citizens, regardless of how much staff is required to collect the data and how much time it takes,” Jha said.

       rohit. wadhwaney@ mailtoday. in

Pl also see

2008-02-05
9:04:44 pm
RTI: Harassment of Activists Andher Nagari, Bad Governance
2008-02-05
8:12:19 pm
RTI:Department of Personnel abets denial of info Andher Nagari, Bad Governance,
2008-01-12
8:15:33 am
Top RTI defaulter MCD to pay Rs 2 lakh fine
2007-12-27
6:12:20 pm
RTI : Delhi Police Attempts to Scuttle Bad Governance,

Andher Nagari: Mumbai: BMC misleads flat owners


What is happening in Mumbai?

       Government and land sharks rule the roost.

        Citizens mislead regarding legality of possession.Can they be evicted and lose their flats? 

      Mumbai HC blow to 1.75L owners of flats built on forest land

 Prafulla Marpakwar | TNN   Mumbai:

       The Bombay high court on Monday dismissed some leading developers’ petitions challenging the stop-work notice issued to them by the BMC for constructing flats on private forest land in blatant violation of the Forest Conservation Act. 
   

         The immediate impact of the court order will be felt by an estimated 1 lakh flat owners as well as people who have paid for approximately 75,000 flats under construction on private forest land in the Bhandup-Mulund-Thane and Borivli-Kandivli belts.
  

         The stringent Forest Conservation Act bans nonforest activity on private forest land. ‘‘The fate of people who own these flats or have bought under-construction flats now hangs in the balance.

       The only option they now have is to approach the Supreme Court. We, on our part, plan to submit a remedial plan to the apex court to protect innocent persons who may have bought flats being constructed on this land,’’ a senior forest official told TOI.
  

       The issue of private forest land was first taken up by the Bombay Environmental Action Group, which filed a petition, prompting the high court to ask the government to submit revenue records of private forest land. The forest department told the BMC and all district collectors to take action according to Forest Conservation Act provisions after the exercise was over.
   

        Stop-work notices were soon served on people indulging in non-forest activity (construction) on private forest land. This, in turn, prompted a section of leading builders to move the high court, which stayed the BMC order.
   

       The forest department subsequently filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court. But the apex court sent back the SLP to the high court, saying it should be disposed of within a specific deadline

Mobile Phone Company: Customers say Poor Service


From: Shiv Lal Watwani
Dated: 24 March 08,15-40Hrs
Dear Sir/Madam,

I bought  a Prepaid mobile connection   ( Phone No. 9958046738 ) with a FM  Mobile set  of Heier about 4-5 months back. On Box supplied to me, boldly reads/says that Prepaid connection has validity of Two years & Customer will be given FREE Airtel to Airtel talk time of Rs1699/- for two years. No other terms & conditions  which i narrate below are listed on the Box.

I feel hardly I used this  FREE Airtel to Airtel service for about Rs100/- to  Rs 150/-   & about a fortnight back the balance was still reading in this category for about Rs300/- at my credit & all of a sudden this also vanished. I was expecting more talktime balance from Rs1699/- will be shortly added but its going to be a fortnight & not a Penny has been added by Airtel from their promised/mentioned Rs 1699/- Package.

Customer service is another Useless service of Airtel. Despite requesting for talkking to Customer service officer, The Helpline will pretend that my request for Customer Service has not been understood. I think more than a Dozen time I hv  dialled Customer Service but same fate.

Seems airtel feels that its easy way to make bucks by cheating customer. I feel ultimately due to this poor Service & not honouring the promised things, Airtel will loose Customer  business/network.

While I was at the shop from where I bought the connection &  Mobile set box, another customer by name Dr J L Azad, aged about 85 years also came complaining that without his using the Mobile phone number 9971383973, balance is getting reduced daily.

Today at that shop, ultimately yr customer service number 121 worked  & both of us could talk to Customer Service officer but his reply was that system is down & he can not confirm to the requested answers. Our requesting him to note down our numbers & confirm the reasons, he even did not take this request. Yr this service also need improvements.

On my phone I keep on receiving unwanted SMS & promotional phone calls throughout day from Airtel & its franchisees & disturbing we old Sr citizen. Such SMS/Phone calls be stopped immediately from number.

You can well understand the plight of Customer. Put yourself  in the position/shoes  of a Customer & tell me what will be yr reaction.

Please reply to the my & Dr Azad’s problems on my mail Id or phone numbers  Immediately.

If nothing satisfactory is heard in 48 hours, I will forward my complaint to TRAI, Ministry of Telecommunication, My E-mail Id network of 500 friends/ relatives, Newspapers/Press, legal agencies etc to apprise them how AIRTEL is cheating  & harassing its customers.

Regards.
Shiv Lal Watwani
Ohones: 9958046738 / 9818932131/26171135

Holi Week end: Thirteen lives lost in accidents


new-picture.pngExtracts fro TOI

Two Accidents On DND Claim 6 Lives  

TIMES NEWS NETWORK  New Delhi: In a tragic aftermath of Holi revelry, a series of accidents across the city on the weekend left 13 people dead and many injured. The scene of the largest number of deaths was the DND flyway, where a deadly cocktail of alcohol and speed snuffed out six lives and left 10 people injured in two accidents. 

   In other major accidents, an tempo overturned near Punjabi Bagh, killing four people and an accident involving a top PSU official’s car at Moti Bagh left two people injured.
  

        In the first of the two accidents that took place on DND in a span of an hour, a minitruck loaded with CNG cylinders rammed the railing and overturned. The gas cylinders immediately caught fire leading to three deaths and severe burns to six people. The driver of the truck, who police officers say was drunk, is absconding.
        

       The occupants were young joyriders and all of them were drunk, police said. 

        According to police, after the Holi celebrations, the driver of the minitruck had offered a ride to the youngsters.

Tragic mix of alcohol & speed on Holi

2pm:
Minitruck overturns; 3 killed, 6 injured on DND

2.55pm:
Autorickshaw collides with Maruti Swift; 3 dead, 4 injured on DND

10pm:
Woman dies after being hit by a scooter at Nand Nagri

11.30pm:
Biker killed as he hits divider at Shakarpur

3am (March 23):

Motorcycle with three riders hits divider at Kalyanpuri; one rider dies

4am:

4 killed and 4 injured when a minitruck overturns on Punjabi Bagh flyover

8am:
Two injured as a PSU CMD’s Baleno hits a Honda City car at Moti Bagh
Car occupants were drunk, suggests medical report


       Two of the youths, who had hitched a ride on a truck that overturned on DND flyway on Saturday, as well as its driver were sitting in front while the rest were sitting on the 35-odd CNG cylinders stacked at the back of the truck. 
  

        As the loop joining Sarai Kale Khan to Maharani Bagh was closed after the accident, an autorickshaw which entered the wrong lane collided head on with a car which was going towards Noida. Three occupants of the autorickshaw died, while three people who were inside the Maruti Swift were injured. 
 

         The auto driver Shailendra (34); Raghubir Singh (32), of Sarai Kale Khan; and Raghubir’s brother, Azad Singh (30), died in the accident. Ravindra, who was also in the auto, was injured. ‘‘We had planned Holi celebrations and my brothers were going to buy meat,’’ said Mukesh, another brother of Raghubir who worked as an MCD sweeper.

 

         According to police, the car had three occupants

         All three are engineers working with an MNC in Noida and were returning after playing Holi with friends in Delhi. All three have been admitted to Kailash Hospital in Noida. ‘‘They are still unfit for statement but their medico-legal report suggests they were drunk,’’ said the police. 

      According to police officers, the autopsy of Raghubir and Azad shows they were not drunk.
   Of the first accident on DND, police said, ‘‘While negotiating the loop on the Ashram side, the minitruck hit the railings and overturned. The CNG caught fire. Santosh and Vipin’s uncle Bharat Thakur said, ‘‘We will demand compensation from the minitruck owner.’’

      

      Despite repeated efforts, the Noida Toll Bridge Company, which runs DND flyway, could not be reached for comments.
   toireporter@timesgroup.com

Need to keep eye on overloaded trucks


        In Delhi city alone there is an average of five deaths due to accidents every day.

       Trucks and Private Buses are responsible for most of the fatal accidents.

        Breaching of traffic rules, and non observation of signals is the norm for trucks and buses.  

There Need to keep eye on overloaded trucks  New Delhi:

        Most accidents caused by trucks in the recent past have been a result of overloaded truck overturning on city roads.

       The traffic police perhaps needs to take some strict action to check the weight carried by  trucks as about 90 per cent of the trucks in the city are overloaded. Such trucks are more at risk as extra weight causes the braking time to increase. 

    All the vehicles are tested at the time of manufacturing for safety with a particular amount of weight and when the load exceeds the prescribed safe weight, the vehicle becomes more prone to losing balance and overturning.

Moreover, overloaded trucks cause more air pollution as they use more horsepower to carry all the extra weight and they also decrease the average life of a road by from 10 to 3.5 years. 
   

       According to traffic officials, measures to check drivers for over speeding, rash and negligent driving, drunken driving etc are already on in full swing and monitoring the load on each truck may soon follow.

        However, steps like installing weighbridges at all the 13 entry points into the city and streamlining the process of assigning goods to trucks through loading agents are still nowhere close to being implemented.
   toireporter@timesgroup.com

Andher Nagari : Gurgaon Water Crisis: result of miscreant action


The water channel  was breached last year also but The miscreants were let off. (This has happened three times already)

They have done it again and 20 lakh residents are facing water shortage.

15 miscreants arrested from village Bhupania. Are they the real culprits?

Why did the government not take adequate precautions?

Regret no hope of water till Wednesday.

Tankers make hay. Charge up to Rs 500/.

 Gurgaon hit by water crisis  No Supply For Two More Days  

Extracts from TNN  

         Gurgaon: Gurgaon’s acute water shortage since Friday is unlikely to improve in the next two days, though district administration claimed on Sunday that it would push more water tankers to increase water supply. The water crisis has been caused due to the breach in water supply channel twice at Bupania village in Jhajjar district in last few days, reportedly by farmers to irrigate their fields. 
   

      The worst affected areas are the colonies which completely depend on canal water whereas the situation is little better in private colonies where residents are overdependent on ground water. 

     The first breach was reported on March 17 and water was supplied to the city from the reservoirs of HUDA. Another breach has occurred at the same site, which has aggravated the crisis.
   

         30 percent of the area of Gurgaon city receives water from tube well and 70 percent area depended on canal water. The worst affected areas are the western part of the city, including sector 4, 7, 22, 23, 10A, and adjoining areas. To meet the demand, the district administration has requisitioned nearly 700 water tankers in the district to reach Gurgaon, including tankers from the army. 

         Meanwhile, public health chief secretary Dharam Vir told Times City, ‘‘The repair work has been going on. The exact cause of the breach is being investigated. We are taking all possible steps to prevent such incidents by putting a dedicated police post at this site and police patrolling on this stretch will be intensified.’’

   Highly placed sources said that in all probability the repair work will be complete by Tuesday and only 12 hours later would the water supply start. Residents could get piped water only by Wednesday morning.
 

   HUDA administrator Srikant Walgad said that drinking water in HUDA areas was supplied from 71 tube wells and that the minimum requirement of water would be met in the entire city.

Acute water shortage has been reported from G block of DLF-I, DLF-III. In areas such as sector-23, each house got about 300 litres of water on Sunday. ‘‘We hope to get more tankers to supply water until the canal supply is restored. It’s difficult to manage life with such little water,’’ said B S Tripathy, a resident.

Future Plan

A 20 MGD water treatment plant to be completed by mid 2009 600 cusec per day from 65.6 km NCR channel to be built at Rs 225 crore to meet future water demand
Four new water treatment plants as per 2021 Master Plan

Dipak Kumar Dash | TNN  

Rahul Gandhi: Congress Party Needs an Icon



Rahul Gandhi

       

New Delhi, Nov 5:Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh on Friday gave clear indication that  Rahul Gandhi may be asked to take over the reins of the party soon as working president.

“Rahul has to come in the mainstream. Right now he is looking only after Youth Congress and the student wing of the party. I feel now he has to look after us all,” Digvijay Singh told reporters

ON BOARD PM’s AIRCRAFT: With expectation mounting that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will soon take up more active responsibilities in the party, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that he will welcome any new responsibility given to Rahul.

Reacting to questions about reports that Gandhi’s responsibilities might be enhanced and he could be designated “working president”, the PM said “This is a party matter and I can’t say about it…But if Rahul Gandhi is given any new responsibility, I will certainly welcome it.”

Rahul Gandhi (1970), son of Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi made his entry into politics by announcing that he would contest the May 2004 elections, standing for his father’s former constituency of Amehti in UP . Earlier Sanjay Gandhi had had been elected from that constituency. Subsequently the seat had been held by his mother until she transferred to the neighboring constituency of Rae Bareilly.

         “At the time, this move generated surprise among political commentators, who had regarded his sister Priyanka as being the more charismatic and likely to succeed. Party officials did not have a CV ready for the media; such was the surprise of his move. He won with a landslide majority, retaining the family stronghold with a margin of over 100,000 as the Congress unexpectedly defeated the ruling BJP.” 

        Later Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Vadra Gandhi managed their mother’s campaign for reelection in 2006, which was won with a margin of over 400,000 votesRahul was in the high profile Congress campaign for the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections; Congress, however, won only 22 seats with 8.53% of votes 

        Congress Party Needs an Icon  Sonia Gandhi  literally lifted congress by its boot straps and with an astuteness (which was not expected from her) managed coalitions across the board and ensured that BJP which was crowing from the roof tops about a ’shining India’ was left biting the dust. She managed to reinvigorate the party which had seen better days, through intensive campaigning. She had shown that she was one tough customer. 

       Her popularity graph soared beyond the chart when she refused to accept the post of prime minister. Congress literally had its cake and could eat it too. It had a leader who could win elections for it and still be not power hungry. An unprecedented occurrence in the arena of Indian party politics.

       With all the positive traits Sonia has shown in inducing life in to the party  Congress would still like its icon to be an ‘Indian” who cannot be sniped at continuously as  being of foreign origin. It wants to live down its image of being  an aggregate of ageing power hungry satraps constantly at each other’s throats who need an ‘outsider’ to sort out their problems.

       The satraps themselves would like a figure on the top who is not awesome in terms s of experience, have an independent public face with ability to reach directly to the masses , or worse still  ability to out maneuver them and  function independently.

          An inexperienced Rahul naïve and simple would be more approachable and amenable. Remember the case of his father Rajiv who came in equally inexperienced and naïve with great ideas of what India should be, and how congress should function as a benefactor of the people. He was keen to alleviate the misery of the common man and take the administration even to the door of the poorest villager rotting far away from the capital.

       Rajiv was blocked and stymied at every positive step that he took by the old guard and ultimately paid the price. He was virtually hounded out. Congress went out of office and had he not been martyred Congress would never have made it back to form a government albeit a coalition one under Narasimha Rao. 

         Younger elements in the party see in Rahul an opportunity to grow beyond the shadows of an ageing set of leaders who for long have enjoyed the fruits of office. The young men and women would like some power to trickle down to them for their own work at the grass roots. An odd Pilot or Scindia who has made it to the middle level of hierarchy has done so in the name of their parents.

       To quote a senior Congress office bearer and member of the coterie working for Sonia as told to rediff.com, “Rahul Gandhi is talking sense, as there are a large number of leaders in Congress who have money, muscle and political power owing to their closeness to 10, Jan path (Congress chief’s residence). But, if these senior and powerful leaders stand in an election, their win is uncertain because Congress does not have cadre working round the year. Congress cadre works only when the party is in power.”

          The senior Congressman explained further, “The opposite is also true. Even if you have loyal following at the block level and are popular in your district but if you can’t get a ticket to fight an election, you are nobody in the party. Rahul Gandhi is trying to build the cadre of Congress as the BJP and Left parties have.”

        [1]Congress has closed around him protectively. He is the recipient of adulation and given all possible encouragement. His actions are proclaimed and woe betides any one who dares to say a word against him. Heavy handed measures have been taken to prevent damage to his image. Handling of the Newsweek article in 2006 is an example.  

      Priyanka Vadra Gandhi was a relentless canvasser for her mother and was expected to take the mantle of her formidable grandmother. She appears to have gone into temporary hibernation. For family reasons we are told. She has experience of party politics and canvassing and could  advice Rahul from time to time. May be she will come out of the closet one day and stand beside her mother and brother.

        Other Political Parties see in Rahul, an opponent who with time and experience may well flower in to the icon Congress is looking for. Under his mother’s tutelage, Rahul has already tasted blood in the election campaigns in 2004, 06, and 07.

        He has committed  his share of gaffes and errors but none that are remembered by voters. His poor grades in the UP election have been have been put down to inexperience and absence of an effective middle level leadership in UP, coupled with fading away of grass roots workers. BSP’s victory is attributed to casteist politics, a level to which Congress will not descend. Gujarat was a foregone case.

        The last few months have seen the young scion of Gandhi family, actively moving from location to location entering the huts of the most wretched, playing with children of the poor and also talking of democracy in his own party. PR is being handled by media professionals and the splash of photo op sessions are there, staring in your face every day. This is considered to be a threat (which it is) to their propaganda of Rahul being loose, ineffective, wishy washy, and being in the limelight solely on account of his birth in the Gandhi family.

       So broadsides have been turned on him. He is being projected as the leading architect of failure of Congress in the UP elections (Of course the dismal performance of their on parties is not mentioned at all).

       Much worse is expected to follow in course of time, as the election scenario heats up. One would wish that a young man on whom responsibilities have been thrust would be given some quarter, but alas that simply cannot be expected in the rough world of politics. 

        The Public in India is fully aware of dynasty politics. With few exceptions they accept it. Meritocracy, is not the norm. The case of BJP, the communist parties, where dynasty politics has not entered in a big way are seen but not treated examples to be followed. 

        The media is happy with the news and photo ops. They are happy giving front page coverage and include articles both for and against. Journalists and ‘opinion makers’ (mostly paid) are busy penning articles. Even some editors have entered the fray. 

          Rahul himself appears to have realized or has been made to realize that being born a Gandhi is not a bed of roses worse a load of responsibility is placed on your shoulders. He has little choice but to come out and lead the party from the front or be called a failure or worse. It is good that the young man is waking up to his responsibilities.

         Life is going to be one of constant struggles in the rough and tumble of Indian politics. He needs to beware of the powerbrokers who flood 10 Jan path, and gather around him some good persons who will give him balanced advice on various issues. Such persons are rare and hard to come by, especially in the political circles. But then he has his mother who has seen good and really bad times and come out stronger, by his side. 

        Knowing the history of the Nehru Family one cannot but wish him success in his endeavors.   


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