Thursday, May 7, 2009

KASAB - Naam to Suna Hoga!!

Ajmal Aamir Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the 26/11 attacks, refuses to give up his share of media space yet again. Even with the general elections going on and with no dearth of news material, a sizable chunk of the airtime of the news channels are being eaten up by this wonderkid. The recent issue being a dispute over his age ! Now can it get more Bizarre than this?
After much ado, Kasab finally received a defence counsel in the form of Abbas Kazmi. Fair enough. India, as a nation, earned much appreciation for granting Kasabhis legal right to have a fair trial. There were some talks of Kasab being a non-Indian national and hence the constitutional right to have a fair trial does not applying in his case, but these were nipped in the bud. The trial proceedings were on in a pace unprecedented in the recent past. Rightfully so. This case is special indeed.
But a close scrutiny of the unfolding events would reveal that while the Government of India is doing everything(well! almost) to ensure that the case is settled in a proper manner, the defendant is creating a mockery of the proceedings. Anybody following the events sequentially would remember the hoopla over the language of the chargesheet. Apart from that, Kasab has made audacious demands for a veranda in front of his cell,newspapers to read et al. He has also made demand for a Pakistani lawyer for himself albeit in the recent past he had said that the lawyer defending him on the first day of trial would do, seemingly unaware of the fact that there was no lawyer at all initially. This shows that initially he was indifferent to the whole process as is substantiated by news reports of his unrepentant and unperturbed attitude in his cell . But as time is passing he is getting amused at the treatment meted out to him by the Government since he comes from a country where this would be out of the question! Hence he plans to seize the opportunity and make the most of it.
The most recent of Kasab's fanciful claims is that he is a juvenile and shud be tried in a juvenile court. Instead of outright rejection of the plea, the court ordered medical tests for the sake of justice. Now that the reports are out in favour of the special prosecutor Ujjal Nikam and it has also been made public that there were two witnesses to whom Kasab had confessed his age to be 21 on the day of the attacks, the issue has stopped being a cause for worry. But the fact that if Kasab would have been able to prove that he was 17 years old he would have , at the max, faced just 3 years of imprisonment despite being accused of conspiracy for murder of 166 individuals gives me goosebumps!
I have immense respect and confidence in my country's judicial system and I'm sure that the perpetrators would be brought to justice in the most befitting manner. But Ajmal Aamir Kasab seems to be in a bid to create a farce of the system which is utterly unacceptable. With passing time the judiciary is bound to fall prey to Kasab's whims all the more. The best thing to do will be to wrap up the proceedings as fast as possible. India has done what it could have to grant Kasab a fair trial - now that it has been done there seems to be no point in dragging this for long and succumbing to the man's caprice every now and then! Pack up!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The great Indian election tamasha!!

Well, the 15th loksabha elections are into its 3rd phase. There has been a lot of hullabaloo over whether this election really is one without "issues"? Apparently there seems to be no reason for believing that given the host of serious issues like the global financial downturn, the increasing threat posed by the Talibans who are breathing over our neck, the security and counter terrorism policies(especially after 26/11) and the foreign policy issues that require immediate attention from the government. But this election, strangely enough, is not being fought on these grounds. Unimportant Issues like Varun gandhi's alleged hate speech, withdrawal of the red corner notice against Ottavio Quattrochi and preposterous populist measures are the order of the day. While the congress is dwelling in the past five years and is busy citing their achievements instead of carting out a concrete action plan for the future, the BJP is obsessed with Dr. Manmohan Singh . The left, on the other hand, has formed a coalition with some parties with whom they have the least ideological commonality, and is fighting the elections under a banner of a Third front whose most important objective is to form a non-congress and non-BJP government at the centre rather than real issues that challenge the country today. Anybody following the Indian political theatre closely would know that party manifestos are just dustbin-fillers. Populist measures like providing rice at incredible prices and waiving loans irrespective of the fiscal burden it will produce flood the manifestos of the two central parties. The BJP manifesto expectedly contains the abolition of cow slaughter and removal of article 370 of the constitution in addition. The left manifesto imparts the credit of the partial successes of the NREGS and the relatively lower impact of the global financial downturn on India to the 41/2 years of the left as a part of the UPA government. Championing the cause for anti-liberalisation of economy the left promises to strengthen PSUs and PSBs while severely restricting the inflow of foreign funds via FDI, FII, ECB,FCCB etc whereas they were the instruments which propelled India into the dizzying heights of near double digit economic growth at the first place. They also claim that they will follow an independent foreign policy which essentially means scrapping of the 123 agreement, weakened ties with America and leanings towards China. Question is....will the left be able to retain these policies if, by a remote chance, the Third front comes to power?
The case for congress is strong but if it loses some of its seat-tally of 2004 it has only itself to blame for. After doing a fairly good job at the centre for the last five years the congress has missed its opportunity to strike a chord with the people by leveraging its accomplishments in a big way. BJP's urban elite vote bank will remain more or less intact due to this. Repeated attacks from the BJP on mishandling of the dismal financial scenario and on the "weak PM" issue have failed to elicit a strong response. The biggest spoiler for the party may be its decision to go to polls alone and not as a part of UPA. One gets a feeling that this is a long term strategy aimed at consolidating the party and increase its reach throughout India even at the cost of losing the elections and having to sit at the opposition. This fact alone shows a little lack of drive on the congress' part which will not go unnoticed by a section of voters. Congress' vote bank politics have long been an issue of criticism and the PM's statement on the right of minorities on natural resources has the potential to create trouble for the party.
After the parting of ways with the BJD in orissa on the issue of the Kandhamal riots, the BJP Looks a little jittery. The Varun Gandhi controversy and the party's stand of not taking any action on him in contrast to the prompt response of the Congress in the Tytler- Sajjan Kumar case will also create problems. The apprehension of saffron terror and the memories of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Col. Purohit is still fresh in minds of voters. Whether these will be trifled by the Developmental track record of the A.B.Vajpayee government will only be known on the 16th.
The emergence of the Fourth front have created some ruckus but in all probability it will also line up with the majority of third front parties in a bid to play kingmaker post May-16th. The post poll equations have the potential to be mind-bogglers and any predictions on those will be a thorough insult on the opportunistic regional parties who are an indispensable part of the Indian polity. The real tamasha, thus, will begin once the polls are over!!