Posts Tagged ‘Ram Jethmalani’

POLL: Has RSS shown Narendra Modi his place?

12 November 2012

The RSS ideologue M.G. Vaidya has kicked off a big storm in the BJP teacup ahead of the Gujarat elections, by alleging that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was behind the recent campaign of vilification against the party president Nitin Gadkari, which culminated in a demand for Gadkari’s removal from the post by the renowned lawyer and BJP member of Parliament, Ram Jethmalani, and his lawyer-son Mahesh Jethmalani.

On his blog, Vaidya writes:

“Needle of suspicion in the campaign against BJP president Nitin Gadkari points to Gujarat BJP and Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Ram Jethmalani had in one breath said he is seeking the resignation of Gadkari and that he also wanted to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister in 2014.”

In many ways, what Vaidya says is not particularly new; Modi’s alleged involvement (and of his lackeys) in hurling allegations at Gadkari over his business dealings through the media has been gossip in the political corridors and television studios in Delhi for days now. After all, Jethmalani senior (who represents the former minister of state for home, Amit Shah, in the encounter cases) was given a Rajya Sabha seat at the behest of Modi.

But the backroom buzz has been given a certificate of authenticity with Vaidya putting it on record and then reiterating it, although the BJP has been at pains to reject the insinuation. However, since nothing in the RSS happens without a pattern, Vaidya going public with his allegation at this juncture poses several questions:

Is the RSS conveying its displeasure of Modi’s tactics and his overweening ambition to occupy the national stage? Was Gadkari retained as BJP chief last week (after another RSS ideologue S. Gurumurthy gave a clean chit) largely to show Modi his place? Did Modi mount a subversive attack on Gadkari in the full knowledge that if Gadkari finished his first term or got a second term (as the party’s consitution now allows), he could prove a hurdle in his path given the backing he enjoys from the RSS?

More importantly, does Modi’s ascension look less assured even if he wins a third term, as he is slated to? And, if he is rebuffed in his prime ministerial ambitions should NDA get a majority, could Modi (as B.S. Yediyurappa aide and the president of his soon-to-be-formed party, Dhananjay Kumar, has said on TV) break away and form his own party as Yediyurappa is threatening to do?

And, does the recent turn of events indicate the kind of polarising figure Narendra Modi will be if he graduates to Delhi?


Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

‘Ram, a bad husband; Lakshman, a worse brother’

9 November 2012

The Ramayana, reinterpreted by the renowned criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani, in The Hindu:

Ram was a bad husband. I don’t like him at all. Just because some fisherman said something, he sent that poor woman [Sita] to exile.

Lakshman was even worse.

“When Sita was abducted, Ram asked him to go and find her as she was abducted during his watch. Lakshman simply excused himself saying she was his sister-in-law and he never looked at her face, so he wouldn’t be able to identify her.”

Image: courtesy India Forums

Also read: Rama, Krishna, Shiva and political correctness

Ramayana, Mahabharatha, and the women’s bill

Should gods, godesses have caste identities?

In Ayodhya, Dasaratha‘s wives gorged on idlis

If Lord Rama was here, there, everywhere…

CHURUMURI POLL: Lord Rama, man or myth?

CHURUMURI POLL: Spare 2G scam-tainted Kani?

7 May 2011

The order of the special court hearing the 2G spectrum allocation scam on the bail application of the former Hindu sub-editor turned poet turned parliamentarian, M.K. Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum allocation scam has been reserved (tellingly) till next Saturday, May 14, the day after the assembly elections come out.

However, the bail plea has been remarkable on three counts. One, the DMK, which was “backing” A. Raja, the disgraced former telecom minister, who is a Dalit and close friend of Kanimozhi, when the Tamil Nadu elections were in the air, seems to have abandoned him completely after the DMK’s fate has been sealed in the EVMs.

Two, there is the weird but not unwelcome spectacle of Ram Jethmalani, a BJP member of Parliament of the Rajya Sabha, representing Kanimozhi, who belongs to the DMK, which is a constituent of the Congress-led UPA. There is yet, a third dimension to the bail plea, which is Jethmalani’s handiwork.

The maverick lawyer has said Kanimozhi should be granted bail because she is a woman, although the CBI had called her a co-conspirator in the scam, and an “active brain” who was “controlling everything” in Kalaignar TV, which received a Rs 200 crore bribe from one of the beneficiaries of the Rs 173,000 crore scam presided over by A. Raja.

“Bail is a right and should be treated as reward for my sex, motherhood and my clean record,” Jethmalani said, speaking for his client, even as Kanimozhi was accompanied to the court by her Singapore-based husband and their 11-year-old son, neither of whom were in the picture .

“I hope we have not lost the Victorian sense of chivalry.”

Questions: Should the sex of an accused person be a condition for bail? Are all mothers naturally entitled to bail, regardless of the extent of the scam? And with the NGO with which she is connected having received donations worth crores from the telecom majors, does Kanimozhi really have a “clean record”?

postscript: for eyes which were moistened by Jethmalani’s argument to miss this real gem, let the record state that poet Kanimozhi’s husband was reading Islam and Muslim History in South Asia in court.

Also read: How many poems can fetch a poet Rs 8.5 crore?

CHURUMURI POLL: Will you vote for Hema Malini?

27 February 2011

The BJP’s decision to nominate the former dancer-actor Hema Malini as the party’s nominee for the Rajya Sabha polls from Karnataka is now a fait accompli. In itself, appointing an “outsider” is neither unprecedented, unconstitutional nor unwelcome. Parties and politicians have their own requirements (seemingly political, but usually financial) and there are other institutional and individual dynamics at play.

The lawyer Ram Jethmalani has represented the Janata Dal, Shiv Sena and BJP from three different States, because his legal eye was required by parties and personalities in them. Moneybags like the stud farm owner M.A. M. Ramaswamy and the mobile phone operator turned media baron Rajeev Chandrasekhar get in because, well, they can afford to. The Kannadiga owner of Garuda mall (Uday Garudachar) tried Bihar but failed.

Another reason is that many politicians stand no hope in hell of being elected given the role cash, caste, community and other imponderables play in our politics. Prime minister Manmohan Singh represents Assam because South Delhi, a prime beneficiary of his reforms, didn’t think the great reformer was worthy of their vote. The Kannadiga Jairam Ramesh represents Andhra Pradesh; Venkaiah Naidu, a Telugu, represents Karnataka.

However, Hema Malini’s candidature doesn’t sit so easily in such silos. Au contraire, it raises some fundamental questions about the kind of candidates parties push through the back door; about the track record of candidates and their ability or lack thereof to shoulder the expectations of the people they represent; about how the hands of legislators are tied by the whip in what is supposed to be a democratic setup. Etcetera.

For starters, is a rich dancer-actor, who has previously represented the party in the RS, the only “artiste” the BJP could think of for the State? The playwright Girish Karnad says the ‘Dream Girlhadn’t asked a single question in her earlier term. Words like “dud, daddi, buddi illa, inefficient” have been freely used by Kannada “buddhijeevis” to describe the BJP candidate. Plus there are murmurs that her candidature doesn’t have the backing of all BJP legislators and that has she been imposed on them to quell the dissidence.

To be sure, Karnataka has been through this debate before, when businessman Rajeev Chandrasekhar was pitted against the literatteur U.R. Anantha Murthy. Then, too, similar questions had flowed forth. But it tells us something about the worldview of Basanti of Sholay when she promises to take special interest to develop Ramanagaram. Was the BJP incapable of finding a writer, dancer, intellectual who could earn the legislators’ vote other than Ayesha Bi?

It’s easy to blame our woes our legislators, the party whip, and the system, for these infirmities.

Here’s a straightforward, counterfactual question: If you could take part in a Rajya Sabha election, if you weren’t bound by the party whip, would you vote for an outsider, “dud, daddi, buddi illa, inefficient” celebrity like Hema Malini, party affiliation notwithstanding? Or would you back a home-grown intellectual, a drama and theatre expert with his ear to the ground like Dr K. Maralusiddappa, party affiliation notwithstanding?

6 + 1 questions after the return of Santosh Hegde

4 July 2010

The Karnataka Lok Ayukta, Justice N. Santosh Hegde‘s decision to withdraw his resignation will surprise a few and not surprise those whose literature major was drama.

But his invocation of the “former future prime minister of India”, L.K. Advani—“he is like my father” just two days after he had stated that “he will not influence me“—as justification for his move is sure to spark a few questions:

1) Like, despite his public protestations, is chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa entirely happy with Justice Hegde’s decision to stay back? After all, it was he who had thanked Justice Hegde for his services without even going through the courtesy of requesting him to continue in office for fear of embarrassing him, and wasn’t even inclined to meet him?

2) Like, despite its contempt for the high command-driven politics of the Congress, is the BJP too firmly in its grip? After all, it took the persuasive powers of Sushma Swaraj to put an end to the last rebellion of the Reddy brothers last November after every other method had failed. And now, the “former future prime minister of India” has had to step in to resolve a State issue.

3) Like, despite his decision to quit as BJP president, is L.K. Advani still running the party, be it in putting up Ram Jethmalani as a party candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls, wooing back Jaswant Singh, cosying up to Uma Bharti, and now in intervening in l’affaire Hegde? And is the RSS entirely happy with his enhanced role, or is this an admission that its candidate Nitin Gadkari has  flopped?

4) Like, given Justice Hegde’s earlier resolve to quit come hell or high water, are we to assume from the trajectory of his return that the “former future prime minister of India” is more powerful than the chief minister and his colleagues, former chief minister S.M. Krishna, governor H.R. Bharadwaj and Union home minister P. Chidambaram, all of whom tried to woo him back but in vain?

5) Will Justice Hegde get another term as Lok Ayukta or will he remit office as scheduled later this year? Either way, will he share the dais with politicians after saying that he did not trust them, and that there were only three-and-a-half honest ministers in Yediyurappa’s team?

6) Who will emerge stronger from this episode? Justice Hegde or Yediyurappa or the Reddy brothers? Will Justice Hegde getting the backing and cooperation he is seeking, or will he find that he will be found dispensable after the storm subsides? Will the Reddy brothers raise a fresh banner of revolt if the heat gets to them?

Bonus question: Like, where do all those who insinuated that Justice Santosh Hegde was acting at the behest of the Congress in resigning on the eve of the BJP government’s’ sadhana samavesha and making charges of corruption, stand now that he is back at the behest of the “former future prime minister of India”?

Photograph: Karnataka Lok Ayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde along with BJP national president Nitin Gadkari and chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa at his residence in Bangalore on Saturday. ( Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: ‘In Ram Rajya, hamaam mein sab nange hain

Getaway of the Louts in the Gateway to the South

CHURUMURI POLL: Dismiss BJP govt in Karnataka?

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: A Kannadiga MP for Bihar?

14 June 2010

Should an “outsider” represent us, is a question that dogs linguistically resurgent Karnataka whenever a Rajya Sabha election is round the corner. Should a Telugu (Venkaiah Naidu) represent Karnataka? Should a Malayalee (Rajeev Chandrasekhar) represent Karnataka? Should a Sindhi (Ram Jethmalani) represent Karnataka?

But should a Kannadiga represent Bihar?

That’s exactly what the promoter of Bangalore’s Garuda Mall, B.G. Uday alias Uday Garudachar, is seeking to do by throwing his hat into the Rajya Sabha ring from the State. Bihar has five vacant seats and Uday, son of former Bangalore police chief B.N. Garudachar, has entered the fray as an “independent” candidate.

“Bihar is a part of my great country. I thought the state apt for making my political debut in electoral politics,” Uday has said in an interview. He says he he was swayed by the fact that Bihar was a state badly in need of investment and that his election would helps its cause. “Even Gandhiji started his struggle from here.”

Uday’s nomination was proposed by ten MLAs, including three Congress MLAs, and the independent MLA man who pushed his nomination has been quoted as saying the “great entrepreneur” will bring investments to his State. Already there are reports indicate that independent and BSP MLAs may have fallen “prey” to the lure of the “behind the scene promise of lucre” from the rich trader.

Uday, who counts the filmstar politician Ambarish among his partners, declared assets of Rs 20 crore at the time of filing nominations, which was accompanied by considerable drama. He flew to Patna in a chartered plane and two SUVs were used to block his entry into the Bihar Assembly to file his nomintion papers which were delivered to him at the last minute by a scooter.

Question: If it is not OK for “outsiders” to stand from Karnataka, is it OK for an “outsider” to stand from Bihar? And is Bihar’s development really the reason for Uday Garudachar to stand fromthat State?

CHURUMURI POLL: Has Jethmalani exposed BJP?

8 June 2010

Nothing serves to show up the hypocrisy of politicians and political parties better than an election. And so it is with the nomination by god’s own party, the BJP, of the veteran jurist Ram Jethmalani as a party’s candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections from Rajasthan.

On the one hand, Jethmalani, law minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee‘s cabinet, stood against Vajpayee from Lucknow after falling out with him. Yet, today, he claims that he has joined the party with the blessings of the former prime minister who, with all due respect, is in no physical shape to offer them.

On the other hand, there is Afzal Guru.

Hanging the parliament attack convict has been the BJP’s single-point agenda for years. It has demanded his hanging from every pulpit and podium. Yet, it nominates Jethmalani, whose position till yesterday was that Afzal Guru did not get a fair trial and should not be hanged.

There is also the additional irony of news reports which suggest that Jethmalani’s nomination was pushed by the “former future prime minister of India“, Loh Purush L.K. Advani, and—pinch yourself—Narendra Damodardas Modi, both of whom have exploited the Afzal Guru issue to deride the Congress’s “minority appeasement”.

One report even suggests that Jethmalani’s nomination at the behest of Narendra Damodardas Modi is a tacit quid pro quo for his support to Modi in his legal wrangles in the post-Godhra pogrom.

Questions: Has the BJP’s—and Advani’s and Narendra Damodardas Modi’s—doublespeak on Afzal Guru been exposed? Is the “party with a difference” which rolls up its sleeve and slaps its thigh the moment Afzal Guru’s name is mentioned been caught with its pants down? Or has the demands of realpolitik caught up with the BJP?

Also read: If death penalty doesn’t work, why thirst for it?

CHURUMURI POLL: Will Afzal Guru be hanged?

CHURUMURI POLL: A pardon for Afzal Guru?

Jessica Lal verdict, proof that Indian media works

27 April 2010

The Supreme Court of India has upheld the life sentence awarded by the Delhi high court to Manu Sharma, the son of Congress leader and former Union minister Vinod Sharma, for killing Jessica Lal, who had declined to serve him a drink after the bar had closed in Delhi, in 1999.

Manu Sharma’s counsel, the noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani, had argued that his client had been specifically targetted and maligned before and during the proceedings by the media, which proclaimed him guilty even after the acquittal by the trial court.

Rejecting this argument, the SC bench said:

“Certain articles and news items appearing in the newspapers immediately after the date of occurrence did cause certain confusion in the mind of the public as to the description and number of the actual assailants/suspects. It is unfortunate that trial by the media did, though to a very limited extent, affect the accused, but [was] not tantamount to a prejudice which should weigh with the court in taking any different view.”

The veteran editor T.J. S. George writes that in his “misplaced protestations against the media”, Jethmalani lost sight of the fact that, for once, “trial by media” achieved something good, beyond anything he could have achieved.

“The media in India today is not exactly a clean entity. It has become, generally speaking, dubious in its motivations, mischievous in its pretensions, and plainly guilty in many of its practices.

“Large sections of it are corrupt.

“Amoral ideas have been institutionalised by the biggest players with fancy labels like “private treaties” and “paid news.” The guilty in the media too should one day be brought to justice.

“It is a bit of a miracle that a media that has abdicated its responsibility is still able to do some public good. It is the nature of its work that makes this possible.

“Malpractices, misdeeds and criminalities dot the activities of our governments, our politicians, our businessmen, our film stars and even our sports bodies. A great deal of this is brought to public attention only because the media, by default or otherwise, dare publish information the guilty try to suppress. We only have to recall the numerous scandals of recent times to appreciate the value of this service done by the media.

“The Jessica Lal case shows how the media, warts and all, and public spirited citizens and alert judicial authorities can work in tandem to keep at least a few of our influential criminals out of harm’s way. Justice is higher than a lawyer’s interest in his client. “

Read the full article: ‘Media is amoral, but it works’

Infographic: courtesy The Telegraph, Calcutta

View: Karan Thapar‘s award winning interview with Jethmalani

‘BJP’s brand of Hindutva is counterfeit Hindutva’

12 April 2010

The noted jurist Ram Jethmalani in The Sunday Guardian:

“My complaint against the BJP has been that the Hindutva projected by it for electoral purposes is a counterfeit Hindutva. Its core has no resemblance to the real philosophy. Hindutva, properly understood, is neither the product nor the property of any political party, not even the Jana Sangh of old and the BJP of today. It was not manufactured at the Shiv Sena home in Bombay or at the RSS offices in Delhi….

“Hindutva is the core of the Indian Constitution to which all citizens of India swear allegiance and complete loyalty. ‘Hindutva,’ said the Supreme Court in a decision, ‘is a way of life or a state of mind and cannot be equated with or understood as religious Hindu fundamentalism’ (paragraph 40 of JT 1995 (8) SC 407 p.637).” What is distinctive about this way of life is what Hindutva has imbibed from its root—the Hindu religion.

“Hindu thinkers realised almost from the very beginning of human thought that truth is many sided, that different views contain different aspects of truth, but which no one can express fully. They took it for granted that there is more than one valid approach to truth and salvation and that these are not only compatible but also complementary.

“This conviction inevitably bred a spirit of tolerance and willingness to understand and appreciate every rival point of view. No wonder the Hindu religion did not and does not claim any one doctrine; it does not worship any one God; it does not adhere to one prophet; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophical concept; and it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances…

Mahatma Gandhi was the greatest exponent of Hindutva. He practised it in thought, word and deed. He found no conflict or obstacle in reading and reciting the religious scriptures of all diverse and supposedly discordant religions in his prayer meetings. To respect Gandhiji is to respect Hindutva….

“It is a pity that the BJP has not been able to explain to people that Hindutva and Indian secularism are practically synonyms.”

Also read: ‘BJP’s Hindutva has a pathetic inferiority complex’

‘Hindutva’s patriarchal attitude evident in Mangalore’

L.K. Advani‘s Hindutva vs Narendra Modi‘s Hindutva

Is Karnataka becoming a Hindutva laboratory?

Kannada nationalism = Hindutva + fascism?

At last, Advani’s quest for a debate is realised

7 April 2009

Lalchand Kishinchand Advani wants a debate, and he is getting one. Not from the man he wants to take on, but from the woman who is taking him on in Gandhinagar: Mallika Sarabhai. And, given how busy the BJP’s prime minister hopeful is, at a place and time of his choice.

Mallika, who has declared she will fight a model election without the name-calling, dirt-throwing that has become emblematic of our democracy, has thrown down an extra gauntlet: a set of five questions which she says she will ask every Monday, like Ram Jethmalani used to ask of Rajiv Gandhi during the Bofors row.

1) How many and what kind of questions has Advani raised in the Lok Sabha about Gandhinagar in the past five years?

2) Why did he not speak against the violence and atrocities against women in Gujarat and specifically in Gandhinagar?

3) What did he do towards creating educational and livelihood opportunities in rural areas of the Gandhinagar constituency?

4) Why did he not show any concern towards local issues as well as Gujarat despite being an MP from here for the last 20 years?

5) How much funds did he use under MPLADS scheme to benefit the deprived and underprivileged in his constituency?

The genesis of the great Hegde-Gowda rivalry

26 April 2008

The Congress’ move to put up Mamata Nichani against H.D. Kumaraswamy in Ramanagara/m has attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. But as Johnson T.A. writes in the Indian Express, the coming contest recaptures a bitter rivalry between two of Karnataka’s foremost non-Congress leaders: Mamata’s father Ramakrishna Hegde and Kumaraswamy’s father H.D. Deve Gowda.

Hegde’s ascension to the chief minister’s gaddi in 1983 sowed the seeds of the rivalry between Hegde and Gowda but three specific incidents during the Janata rule are believed to have blown away the semblance of civility between the two.

# The first was when Hegde chose to nominate his then family lawyer Ram Jethmalani to the Rajya Sabha in 1986. Gowda and his supporters within the Janata Party resented the choice of ‘an outsider’ and threatened to boycott voting on the day of the elections.

# The second incident — the proverbial one that broke the camel’s back — came soon after when Hegde ordered a Corps of Detectives inquiry into allegations that Gowda as a minister allotted over 50 government sites to members of his family on the basis of allegations made by a BJP leader from Gowda’s home district of Hassan.

# The third incident is believed to be Hegde’s decision to nominate S.R. Bommai as his successor over Gowda in 1988 when Hegde decided to step down as chief minister accepting moral responsibility for tapping the phones of senior leaders in the state.

Read the full article: Play it again, Karnataka

Also read: Puppets in the hands of ultra-greasy slimeballs