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Going to be an interesting election

B.L. Vohra IPS (Retd.)

The election season has arrived. And politicians, like birds in winter, are flocking to warmer places. They are present everywhere, moving crisscross many in the sky, and there is lot of activity all over the country. There is a race among them to be visible all the time and thanks to the TV which is helping them. Of course each channel has its own agenda. And then there is social media adding to the excitement of elections. The scene is unlike earlier elections and keeping the common man also busy with the talk of elections everywhere. The pack, at the national level, is mainly led by Modi of BJP and Rahul of Congress. There is also a little bird flying behind them, by the name of Kejriwal, leading AAP. Of course there are regional flocks also like SP, BSP, JD (U), TMC, AIADMK, BJD, TRS, YRS Congress flying in their own territories. But the real star is the common man and woman of the country whose time for getting seasonal importance and freebies has come.

Those who never even looked at them during the past five years are at their door and they can afford to be nasty till he or she casts his/her ballot. The voter has also become smarter. In Delhi Assembly elections many did not leave money or liquor given by some parties but yet voted for AAP. Youth are the flavor of the season as they are an important factor due to their sheer numbers and being wooed by all. Bets are on as who would form the next government at the centre. Most of the people are putting their money on Modi. We wish him success.
But there are ifs and buts for Modi. How would others perform? And how the third front or by whatever name you can call such attempts will have enough numbers to make a King among themselves or be king makers? One thing however is certain. It is going to be a hung Parliament. Of course if the NDA led by BJP reaches about 240 mark, as some poll surveys are projecting, it should cross the finishing line with little help from some other power seekers. Modi is working hard – even Karunanidhi of DMK has acknowledged. LJP of Ram Bilas Paswan has joined NDA apart from few other smaller groups. Former Army Chief V.K.Singh has also joined swelling its ranks.

Congress is going to get less than 100 seats – thanks to many self goals managed by it over the years. Non-governance, corruption, bowing to Rahul always – the king in waiting – has dented its creditability. The worst sufferer is the Prime Minister who believed in the golden principle of three monkeys who would neither see, nor speak nor even listen evil. Populism, criticizing Modi as main agenda, in fighting- latest being between Rahul brigade and the old timers and sycophants would doom the Congress to its lowest depth in its history. The beauty is that the most corrupt are projecting themselves as the champions of anti-corruption in their last moments still hoping that they may get some oxygen by bills and ordinances against corruption. ‘Sau chuhe kha ke billi Haj ko chali’ i.e. after eating 100 rats the cat is going to the holiest of mosques!

U.P. is going to be the key state. If BJP can get more than 40 seats here, it will stand a good chance at the central level. But there are spoilers for it like SP and BSP. And AAP now, the new start on the horizon, whose leader Kejriwal has recently started his road show from Ghaziabad to Kanpur. Many feel that with its recent ‘fiascos’ AAP’s support has dwindled. But that is a misconception. Though some middle class has stepped back, the others below it are supporting it in big numbers and many more have come forward. This crowd doesn’t understand the nuances of law, constitution, rules and procedures. They know that Kejriwal had the physical and mental courage to sleep on the road side in the cold winter of Delhi within the seat of the central government. Besides he did fulfill many of his promises. They acknowledge his inexperience but do not consider this as a big minus point. I was in Mumbai and Pune recently and everybody I met said unequivocally that he/she will vote for AAP. He is shrewd person and works a lot on symbolism – see his election symbol of broom, his wearing of clothes of common man, his speaking in Hindi always even though he can speak good English having been an officer, and all this endears him to the common man. The presence of large number of people wearing AAP caps during his road show in Mordabad on way to Kanpur shows that his support has not dwindled rather increased. And it is certainly hugely popular in the urban areas.

AAP may not field more than 200 candidates at best. For a first timer and only one year old, this is an audacious beginning. And people no longer underestimate it as they did in Delhi Assembly elections. After all he did form the government there and worked at break neck speed. Most of the people are willing to give him about 50 Lok Sabha seats and some say that it may even equal Congress or even surpass it by becoming the main opposition party. That may be too optimistic. My take is about 30 seats which will still be a spectacular performance. But this assessment is as of today. It is attracting big names now like Raj Mohan Gandhi and others from different fields and many more will follow. This seems to be the only chance for many well meaning persons who want to serve the country through politics. They could not get entry into well established parties as these are being lorded by dynasties and others for ages.

Kejriwal’s connect directly with the people has sent across an emotional chord and his support is increasing though that may not result in many seats. Many countries of the world are studying this phenomenon. Some doomsayers have already buried it but they are making a mistake. Politics is a long race. Who could imagine that the BJP which had just two MPs in 1984 elections would one day be the ruling party in about 14 years from that point? And today it has established itself as the largest second party in the country. Same could happen with AAP. It may even cross the 30 seat mark this time and become a formidable force in the times to come. Of course these are early days yet and anything can happen. The remaining days up to the election will hold the key.

Incidentally AAP also had a great effect on other parties who are now trying to come closer to the people. Some other state governments led by Congress and BJP have taken steps like reduction in power tariff, providing buses for night shelters, improving conditions of schools, shedding of red beacons on the cars, reducing personal security etc. This has proved one thing at least. The government was always far away from the people and once elected the politicians never bothered for them behaving like Kings with no concern for the masses. AAP has changed this. It has also broken many unwritten rules, even taking on the likes of Mukesh Ambani, Robert Vadra, Moily the Union Petroleum Minister and former CM Delhi Sheila Dixit and this is being lapped up by the common man. The aspirations of the common man have gone up tremendously consequently. AAP has also demonstrated that even without money power elections can be won. Thus it has drastically changed the course of politics in the country. Though symbolic BJP workers have started wearing caps now following the example of AAP workers! If AAP remains in contention, this discourse will change further and if not, politics will go back to its older ways which will be a tragedy. My take is that AAP and its effect will grow.

The emergence of AAP is leading to the emergence of many more AAPs in India. Slowly and steadily we will know their names. Some who were already there like in Andhra Pradesh and U.P. but not doing well may do better this time. I think even Shri Anna Hazare has committed a mistake by not full backing Kejriwal. His supporting TMC is going to be a non-starter as he has no following in West Bengal and Didi has no following anywhere else in the country.

Congress will also get a beating in the northeast due to the racial attacks in Delhi on the youth of the northeast. There is quite a bit of anger which will manifest itself in the lesser number of votes being cast for the Congress in this region. With each seat being important in any hung Parliament for the formation of a government at the centre, this factor will reduce the strength of Congress and brighten the chances of Modi. The guess that AGP from Assam may join the NDA may come true.

However let us not underestimate the power of the Congress which is the ruling party. It bowed to Anna Hazare as a tactics and then finished him. Then it bowed to Baba Ram Dev and finished him. They know this art. Even BJP will do the same once in power. Same with the power of media. It can build and demolish people, reputations and parties. It was a big support to Kejriwal in building a big support for AAP. Of late due to the criticism of media by Kejriwal his space in the media is already diminishing. This trend will harm AAP and so it has to be careful while dealing with the media. Besides it should soon finalise and announce its policies in other important areas like economy, foreign affairs, security apart from its well known agenda of anti-corruption that gave it the platform for politics and success. It will be the tenacity and hard work for a very long time of AAP which will keep it in the game. And it should be good for all of us in the country if that happens.

The BJP will emerge stronger after the elections. The Congress will be weakened. The Left parties will not perform better. Of course some of the regional parties will do very well.

All said and done it is going to be an interesting election. The youth, the social media, AAP, the greater expectations of people, the reduction though marginally of the caste and creed influence on elections, the emphasis on development, the anxiety of the corrupt and the big are going to make a big block buster of elections with new actors and situations. How many stars rating it gets will be known a few months down the lane for which we are all eagerly waiting. But there is no doubt that it is going to be a big entertainer. 2014
The author has served as DGP Manipur and Tripura
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'Rehabilitation of Muzaffarnagar violence survivors is State's responsibility'

Bobby Ramakant

Rehabilitating communal violence survivors is State's responsibility, was echoed by the members of Socialist Party (India) in their procession and demonstration in UP state capital of Lucknow on January 8 2014. Since permission was not granted to Socialist Party (India) to hold the demonstration at Gandhi Pratima in Lucknow city­centre (Hazratganj), the administration received the memorandum from them, after which this demonstration converted into a procession that marched to Lakshman Mela grounds where it continued the protest till the evening.

Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and Vice President of Socialist Party (India) told Citizen News Service (CNS): "Muzaffarnagar communal violence was the most painful incidence since independence. What triggered communal riots is disputed but there is no doubt in the fact that minority Muslims suffered the most. Jat community is relatively well­off in this region and Muslim community usually forms the labour force. Many more Muslim people were forced to leave behind their homes, died or their women folk raped in this violent pogrom. In many incidents cases are yet to be filed and hardly any action has been taken where cases were filed. Police is also not challenging the might of the local powerful Jat community.

When government or local administration tries to help those in­need (many of whom come from Muslim community) then they get blamed for favouring the minorities. Perhaps this is the reason why state government has not come out openly to help those in need. Most relief camps were those of Muslim people which is an indicator that worst affected were the Muslims in this communal riot. The longer the people are staying in relief camps, more is the embarrassment to the state government. That is why the government is now intimidating victims of communal violence to leave these relief camps. It is important to realize that most relief camps were not even being managed by the government. These camps were being coordinated by organizations such as Jamayat­Ulema­Hind where government supplied relief materials."

Girish Kumar Pandey, State President of Socialist Party (India) added: "Most Muslim families who were forced to abandon their homes after extreme humiliation and violence, are reluctant to go back to their native villages. The challenge that confronts us is where should they go now? It is government’s responsibility to rehabilitate them. Jamayat­Ulema­Hind is building homes for some families at a place. This is government’s responsibility which it should uphold. Government cannot backtrack from its primary responsibility towards its citizens.

If government is not able to give justice to these Muslim families then at least should try to fullfil their daily needs. This is indeed a matter of huge shame that on one hand children are dying of cold in relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, and on another hand those in power are busy in celebrating Saifai festival. Socialist Party (India) strongly condemns this irony. Socialist Party (India) believes that one indicator of a strong democracy is how secure are its minority communities."

Bobby Ramakant, Citizen News Service - CNS January 2014 Shared under Creative Commons (CC) Attribution License

Sustaining Peace in NE India: Changing Dimensions

Former Union Home Secretary Mr GK Pillai said that the Maoist rebellion in the country needs a wake-up call for the Indian democracy. “Not enough action has been undertaken to improve the lot of the poorer segment and it is this gap that the Maoists are trying to capitalise on, rather than ideology”, Pillai said.

Read more: Sustaining Peace in NE India: Changing Dimensions

'Thakurs' - the nobles of Tripura

Dr Jaya Debbarma

As a historical background of the nobility of Tripura in India's northeast, the concept of nobility owes its origin in its tradition and precinct as well as in the socio economic and administrative need of the state. The nobility of Tripura Observed Abul -I -Fazl in his Ain -I- Akbari, were known by the title of “Narayanas''.

In its traditional framework the institution of chantai (priest of 14 gods) as a nobility was very important which was primarily to worship the chaturdash Devatas on the sukla Ashtami in the month of asarhh. These goddesses were known as “kula devata”of the kings of Tripura.The Chantai used to narrate the chronicles to the king. The books like “Raj Ratnakar” , Shrenimala were written by the different authors on the basis of the narration of the Chantai .

Later on the status of Chantai emerged as to be equivalent to the Raj Guru and on some occasions they were found struggling for power and privilege .At the time of King Dev Manikya (1520- 1535 A.D), the chantai suggested the king to kill eight senapati in order to please his Kul Devata and the king did so. Later on, having a cordial relation with the queen, the Chantai remained successful to kill King Deva Manikya and placed his liked king, Indra Manikya on the throne. The Chantai started ruling the state as the de-facto ruler with the help of minor king.

The nobles of Tripura were called Thakurs .According to writer Kailas Chandra Singha in his book Rajmala it was King Kalyan Manikya (1625-1659). Who for the first time declared his eldest son Govinda manikya as Govinda thakur. King Ram Dev Manikya for the first time appointed his brother in law Bali Bhim narayan to the post of Juvaraj along with his eldest son.

There were three kinds of Thakurs one through blood relation (Karta) secondly through marriage relation and thirdly through adoration of tittles. Another group of nobility included the relation of the Raja as well as the high official of the state. They were known as Ujir, Dewan, Senapati, Mantris, Pradhan Mantris etc.

Maharaja Ramdev Manikya also created new post of Barathakur and appointed his second son, Durjoy Dev Thakur for the same. The appointment of brother-in-law on such a post of nobility is a unique
example and further shown the seeds of dissent and quarrel in the coming days. This clearly indicates that the nobilities in different forms are coming closer to the power at the cost of violation of the natural rules of succession.

During Maharaja Birchandra's reign Birchandra was in dire need of the services of thakurs to run the administration in 1871, the thakurs decided to distribute the administrative work among them. Gaur Chandra thakur was assigned the work of judicial appeal adalat and Prabhu Charan Thakur was appointed to the post of magistrate and the chief of the store house.

Charan Thakur and Jaga Mohan Thakur were appointed to impart the legal proceedings for the hill people camp bell was deputed to the post of manager of chakla Roshanabad zamindari of Maharaja of Tripura (now in Bangladesh ). Braja Mohan thakur was appointed to the post of judge of Kailasahar sub division. A.W.B power the first political agent of Tripura suggested Maharaja Bir Chandra Manikya for the appointment of able and efficient administrator.

Socio economic condition and nobility

The sources of income of the nobles were based on their position and privileges with them. They received a regular monthly grant from the Maharaja. The rate of this grant during Maharaja's Bir Chandra's time
is not definitely known though according to the reports of political agents the rate was very small .The karta's obviously received grant at higher rate. In addition to the monthly grant extra grants were
generally allowed on such occasions as a marriage or a performance of funeral allowances.

There were another 40 -50 Thakurs at Agartala who drew separate allowances. The economic condition of the nobilities was not sound because most of the nobilities depend on monthly grant but they were proud of their social status. The quantity of cultivate land was very small and Maharaja was the only large land holder in the the state. The nobles after 1862 were mostly educated.

The educational department of the state of Tripura though more widened within Thakurs, Rajkumars and princess and less widened among the masses reflect the patron client concept and the early revolts like Jamatia revolt may be analyzed in the background of one class by another. Some excellent literary and historical works during Maharaja Bir Chandra Manikya's by the thakurs

(1) Kok-borak-ma in 1900 A.D (This book was written by thakur Radha Mohan debbarma )
(2) Tripur kathmala , Tripur bhasha bidhan ( a dictionary of kokborak -English -Sanskrit )
(3) For shadow graph sketch in the exhibition held in 1897 Praddut Kumar thakur won gold medal
(4) Thakur Dhananjoy debbarma raj mantri wrote a book account of Unakoti
(5) Thakur piyari Mohan debbarma (1902-1912) was also wrote Unakoti tirtha in Bengali
(6) Bara Thakur Samarendra Chandra debbarma wrote Tripurar smriti in Bengali 1927.
(7) Bahadur shah's “Abu jafar” in Bengali in 1930
(8) “Wakayate Tripura” (in Urdu)
(9) Jabunisha Begum in Bengali (in 1929)
(10) Agrar chithi in Bengali (1928).
(11) Thakur Nabadeep Chandra debbarma “Awarjanar jhuri” in (1324 B.E)
(12) Bangla bhasar chari jug 1931
(13) deshiya rajya written by cononel Mahim chandra thakur cv
(14) etc

The existing development of various educational institutions certainly owes its legacy from the role of those nobilities of Tripura under the period of study .Thus the role of nobilities can be observed in the
development of Bengali literature and music in the present day society of Tripura .The Thakurs of Tripura was different from the Thakurs of Rajasthan.

Excerpts from research paper of Dr .

October 2012

FDI in Retail will be Suicidal

Dr Rahul Pandey
A lot of well off and educated sections of our society are rooting for FDI in retail. There seems to be a disappointment among the middle / upper middle class consumers and the corporate world that the Government of India has put this policy on hold.

Read more: FDI in Retail will be Suicidal