Follow by Email

Monday, December 11, 2017


Though, the Gujarat Assembly election are like any other elections but with every passing day many twists and turns have made it rather too interesting. There is no talk of 2002 riots, the issues of demonetisation and GST are also taking a backseat and in Gujarat after a long time ‘caste’ is made into a central issue to break the BJP’s stronghold.  Rahul Gandhi has made it virtually a battle for his survival as a credible leader for which he is openly allying with the contradictory caste leaders, even at the cost of upsetting the Congress workers. On the other hand, Prime Minister Nerendra Modi and the organisational machinery under the leadership of Amit Shah are not keeping any stone unturned to keep hold over the bastion.
The BJP is trying its best to keep the elections to Development Vs Dynastic Politics, while the Congress besides caste factor, has been trying to be a soft-Hindutva party with unprecedented temple visits by the President in waiting. While everyone was thinking Gujarat to be a battle of nerves, Prime Minister Modi hitting the ground zero has suddenly changed the mood. The self-goals by Congress are coming handy in this regard.

Playing with the Fire 
The picture is getting clear with the filing of nominations and the uneasiness between Congress and the Hardik Patel led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PASS) is getting sharper. Congress by agreeing to 20 percent reservation formula of PAAS may affect some voters but whether it is feasible on Constitutional parametres, experts have doubts. Interstingly, Hardik Patel himself declared support to the Congress for accepting his reservation formula but when he announced this no Congress leader was accompaning him.
Even electorally this tacit turned open alliance is not going very smooth. The Congress gave tickets to some PAAS conveners without prior approval of PAAS’s top leadership, so PAAS leaders like Dinesh Bambhaniya had to rush to the Congress state president. At the same time, PAAS workers were attacking Congress’s candidate Prafull Togadia. Due to opposition from PAAS, the Congress had to change not only Prafull Togadia (Varachha road, Surat) but also other three seats including that of Nilesh Kumbhani (Kamrej, Surat) and Amit Thummar (Junagadh).
The aggression of PAAS workers further increased the discomfort among the Congress Cadre.
 Patidars are asking questions to PAAS leaders why they want to support only the Congress? Patidars have been reminded of so-called atrocities of police in 2015 by Hardik but the community had not forgotten that more than 100 persons were killed in riots during the Madhavsinh Solanki led Congress rule. So they are questnioning Hardik’s intent now.
The Congress has also offered a free way to Jignesh Mewani, a Dalit leader who has a goal to defeat BJP not only in this election but in coming Lok Sabha elections too. Jignesh is contesting from Congress’s safe seat Vadgam as an independent candidate.
Now that Hardik, Alpesh and Jignesh are with Congress publically, voters are rethinking supporting these three leaders. Alpesh Thakor’s candidature from Radhanpur is being opposed by none other than Congress local workers. Congress has allied with tribal leader Chhotu Vasava who helped Ahmed Patel winning Rajya Sabha election and gave five seats to him but local leaders of Congress are opposing this.
The Congress State president Bharatsinh Solanki is also reportedly upset with the high command as his his supporters were not given tickets. All in all, this circus of riding on many horses by Rahul Gandhi is turning out to be a storm in a teacup.

Subtle Communalism
Though Rahul Gandhi is visiting every possible prominent temple in Gujarat, may be taking a clue from A K Antony report after 2014 Lok Sabha elections that clearly stated that Congress is perceived to be inclined towards minorities and therefore against Hindus. Still, subtle communal card is being played from the backdoor.
There are two controversial letters circulating in social media. One is from Sikandarkhan U. Pathan in the name of ‘Jagrut Laghumati Yuvak Mandal’. The letter says that our community has been always loyal to the nation. Despite this, the BJP runs a vicious campaign against us. We are being considered as terrorists, anti-national and Pakistani.
The second letter is from Archbishop Thomas Mackwan. The letter is written in the name of ‘Archdiocese of Gandhinagar’ giving a call to defeat the ‘nationalist’ forces. Congress has not taken any stand on this.
The Archbishop has not clearly appealed against BJP but his indication is clearly against BJP and by using nationalist forces for BJP he has put his community in the anti-national bracket. Not only that, he proved once again churches have been never apolitical.
To add to this, the Congress has given instructions to the Muslim voters not to appear with beard, skull cap and burqa! Congress minority cell meeting was organised in the presence of National President Khurshid Saeed and State President Gulabkhan Raoma instructed thus. This has irked the Muslims too! Some Muslims, including an ex-president, opposed this, demanding more seats for Muslim candidates.

Rahul a Hindu?
Already a controversial visit of Rahul Gandhi to Somnath Temple, which was opposed by his great-grandfather Jawahar Lal Nehru, further created a discomfort in the congress camp. At a register kept at Somnath Temple meant exclusively for non-Hindus to register their names while entering inside temple premises, Rahul Gandhi's name was entered, along with the name of Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel. This may be an inadvertent or deliberate error by the state media coordinator, as the Congress Vice President himself did not sign the register as per the temple trust version, it is good enough to bring back his identity issue in elections.
While the Congress has been trying to raise a storm as if it is do-or-die for it in the Gujarat elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the campaign trail with full vigour from November 27 with four rallies in a day.

Modi Mania Continues 
He launched carpet bombing by exposing Congress’s anti-Gujarat and anti-Gujaratis stand. He alleged Congress had done injustice not only to Sardar Patel, but one of the finest finance minister Morarji Desai too. Congress is all about one family saga. While Doklam issue was burning, Rahul Gandhi was hugging China ambassador. Even after the surgical strike, the Congress and other opponents had asked for evidence. He said demonetisation and GST were for benefit of country and will continue to pursue black money holders. Raising the questions on Congress’s development rack record, he contrasted dams and drinkable water to all with the hand pump politics of the grand old party.
Reminding the opposition of what the then Prime Minister Nehru did to the Somnath Temple, Prime Minister exposed the intent of Rahul Gandhi visiting the revered temple. His rallies, especially at Patidar stronghold Morbi, were with electrifying effect. His excellent communication in Gujarati and connect with the local issues is still has the same current. Prime Minister is complemented by other BJP leaders including the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

‘Tea-Seller Jibe’

In 2014, the ‘Chaiwala’ remark by senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar that was turned into a popular interactive programme ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ by Modi and his team. It seems, the youth Congress completely forgotten this boomerang and revived the ‘tea-seller’ jibe with a derogatory remark against The resurgence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image as a "tea-seller", thanks to the Congress, has come in handy to the BJP.  It received a further boost when US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka also echoed it in Hyderabad saying “from your childhood selling tea to becoming prime minister, you've proven that transformational change is possible.”
“Yes, I sold tea, but (I) did not sell the nation” was the Modi’s reply to the tea-seller jibe.
People in Gujarat have seen the real transformation in last few decades. Prior to 2002, Gujarat saw widespread rioting every now then. The entreprenurial community of Gujaratis has found peaceful atmosphere under BJP rule and the party is conveying this very effectively. Whether in terms of providing drinking water or taking 24X7 electricity supply to the household, Gujarat is a stand alone example. On the parametres of business friendly atmosphere also it is doing really well. Therefore, against the ‘Development has gone mad’ of Congress, BJP’s ‘I am Gujarat, I am Development’ campaign is touching the positive cord with the people.
If the pre-poll predictions and the indicators in the betting market are to be believed, BJP clearly has an edge in this election despite 22 years interrupted rule. Whether Gujarat chooses for ‘Fakir Gandhi’ or dynastic Gandhi, as remarked by the PM, will be clear on the counting Day of December 18 but as of now it looks that the continued Modi mania and efficient organisational structure that is going to be the differentiating factor in favour of BJP.   
    (with Organiser Bureau)

Gujarat Model of Development

 With only 6 per cent of India's land mass and barely 5 per cent of its population, Gujarat has managed to account for 7.6 per cent of the country's GDP and 22 per cent of its exports.
Its annual Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) growth from 2001 to 2013 (growth has slowed down since) averaged nearly 10 per cent, which is faster than the national growth.
In the last two decdes, Gujarat grew at an average rate of 5.1 per cent. If Gujarat were a country with a 10 million-plus population, this would be the third-fastest growth rate in the world, after China and South Korea.
Gujarat has been among the fastest growing states even in the past. Despite poor rainfall, it has made strides in agriculture. Unlike Punjab and Haryana, states which launched the first Green Revolution with government support, Gujarat's agricultural transformation came via the market route.
A milk revolution and largescale exports of fish accompanied the growth in horticulture and sharp increase in agricultural productivity. The agricultural turnaround-with growth rates as high as 11.1 per cent between 2000 and 2013-was accomplished despite water scarcity.

In his brisk campaign in Saurashtra region he reminded people of the transformation brought out by the BJP. “Whatever Gujarat has today is all due to BJP. The result of development brought in by Modi Ji, when he was CM, can be seen today. Bhuj was destroyed in earthquake & is flourishing. Narmada’s water is now available everywhere in the state. Congress and Rahul must see this,” said Adityanath.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

गुजरात विधानसभा चुनाव - २०१७ -हारेगा जातिवाद जीतेगा राष्ट्रवाद

(मेरा यह लेख पांचजन्य के २६-११-१७ के अंक में प्रकाशित हुआ)

कर्णावती से जयवंत पंड्या,  साथ में दिल्ली ब्यूरो
गुजरात में चुनावी सरगर्मी जोरों पर है। दोनों ही मुख्य दलों (भाजपा और कांग्रेस) के दिग्गज चुनाव प्रचार में लगे हैं। जहां भाजपा अपनी सरकार के विकास कार्यों और गुजराती अस्मिता के  नाम पर वोट मांग रही है, वहीं कांगे्रस जाति के नाम पर लोगोें को अपने साथ जोड़ने की कोशिश कर रही है और हिंदुओं को यह संदेश देने की कोशिश कर रही है कि अब वह मुस्लिम तुष्टीकरण की राह पर नहीं है। इस सोच को पुख्ता करने के लिए राहुल गांधी आश्रमों, मठों और मंदिरों के चक्कर लगा रहे हैं। लेकिन गुजरात के लोगों का मानना है कि इन सबसे कांग्रेस के पाप नहीं धुलेंगे। उसने पूरे देश में तुष्टीकरण की राजनीति करके अनगिनत पाप किए हैं। गुजरात के लोग कांग्रेस के इन पापों से कई दशक तक परेशान रहे हैं। कर्णावती के मयंक व्यास कहते हैं, ‘‘एक समय कांग्रेस ने तुष्टीकरण की राजनीति करके गुजरात को कर्फ्यू प्रदेश बना दिया था। आए दिन कहीं न कहीं कर्फ्यू लगता था। भाजपा ने इस प्रदेश को कर्फ्यू से बाहर निकालकर विकास के पथ पर आगे बढ़ाया है।’’ 

ऐसी सोच रखने वालों की कोई कमी नहीं है। गांधीनगर के सुरेश पटेल कहते हैं, ‘‘कांग्रेस ने गुजरात को पीछे धकेलने में कोई कसर नहीं छोड़ी थी। यही नहीं, जब नरेंद्र मोदी मुख्यमंत्री थे तब कांग्रेस ने गुजरात के विकास में रोड़ा अटकाने में कोई हिचक नहीं दिखाई थी। उसने बड़ी बेशर्मी के साथ विकास योजनाओं को रोकने का काम  किया था। इसका ज्वलंत उदाहरण है नर्मदा योजना।’’ उल्लेखनीय है कि तत्कालीन केंद्रीय जल संसाधन मंत्री सैफुद्दीन सोज ने अनुचित हस्तक्षेप कर नर्मदा नदी पर बनने वाले सरदार सरोवर बांध की ऊंचाई बढ़ाने का काम अटका दिया था। इस मामले में कांग्रेस के नेता अभी भी झूठ बोल रहे हैं। अभी कुछ दिन पहले पूर्व प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह गुजरात में थे। उन्होंने खुलेआम कहा कि तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी नर्मदा के मुद्दे पर कभी उनसे मिले ही नहीं। इस झूठ से भी गुजरात के लोग नाराज हैं, क्योंकि इस बात के साक्ष्य हैं कि मोदी ने 2006 और 2013 में नर्मदा मुद्दे पर मनमोहन सिंह से बातचीत की थी। लेकिन केंद्र सरकार ने उनकी एक नहीं सुनी। जब मोदी खुद प्रधानमंत्री बने तब उन्होंने नर्मदा बांध की ऊंचाई को बढ़ाने की अनुमति दी थी। आज उस बांध के पानी से गुजरात में विकास के नए अध्याय लिखे जा रहे हैं। मोदी ने महाराष्टÑ और दिल्ली के बराबर गुजरात को गैस के दाम न देने के लिए भी मनमोहन सिंह के समक्ष अपना विरोध जताया था। उस समय महाराष्ट्र और दिल्ली दोनों जगहों पर कॉंग्रेस की सरकारें थीं। 

तत्कालीन केंद्र सरकार के विरोध और बाधाओं के बावजूद गुजरात सरकार ने राज्य के विकास के लिए अनेक काम किए हैं। जनता भी इस बात को महसूस करती है। सौराष्ट्र-कच्छ में नर्मदा का पानी पहुंचाया गया, दाहोद में एशिया का सबसे बड़ा पेट्रोकेमिकल्स संयंत्र लगाया गया, भरुच के पास भारत का सबसे बड़ा केबल ब्रिज बना, घोघा-दाहोद के बीच रॉ-रॉ फेरी सेवा शुरू की गई, लोगों को 24 घंटे बिजली मिल रही है, गांवों से लेकर शहर तक अच्छी सड़कें बनी हैं, और सबसे बड़ी बात है गुजरात में कानून-व्यवस्था का अच्छा होना। अपराधी तत्वों और आतंकवादियों के विरुद्ध सख्त कार्रवाई की गई है। वडोदरा में रहने वाले 60 वर्षीय जीतू भाई कहते हैं, ‘‘कांग्रेस के काल में माफिया और तस्कर पुलिस पर भारी पड़ते थे। उन तत्वों की पहुंच मुख्यमंत्री आवास तक होती थी। ये तत्व व्यापारियों को निशाना बनाते थे। इसलिए उन दिनों सैकड़ों व्यापारी गुजरात छोड़कर मुंबई चले गए थे। भाजपा सरकार ने इन तत्वों को खत्म किया है। इसलिए गुजरात में शांति है।’’ 

गुजरात के लोगों को 2002 के दंगों से पहले के दंगे भी अच्छी तरह याद हैं। कांग्रेस के मुस्लिम तुष्टीकरण ने राज्य को पूरी तरह अशांत बना दिया था। साल के 365 दिन में से लगभग 200 दिन कहीं न कहीं कर्फ्यू लगा रहता था। यह भी कहा जाता था कि गुजरात के बच्चे ‘मां’ बोलना सीखने से पहले ‘कर्फ्यू’ बोलना सीख जाते थे। यहां छबीलदास महेता की सरकार (जो कि गुजरात में कांग्रेस की अंतिम सरकार थी) के समय की एक घटना का उल्लेख करना जरूरी है। चर्चित पुलिस अधिकारी डी. जी. वणझारा ने उस समय के कुख्यात तस्कर इभला शेठ को पकड़ा था। लेकिन गांधीनगर के आदेश के बाद उसे छोड़ दिया गया था और बतौर सजा वणझारा का स्थानांतरण कर दिया गया था। महेता सरकार के तत्कालीन गृह मंत्री नरेश रावल ने सार्वजनिक रूप से कहा था, ‘‘यह सरकार असामाजिक तत्वों द्वारा चलाई जा रही है।’’

गुजरात की जनता काफी चतुर और समाधानवादी मानी जाती है। लेकिन अगर कोई उसे छेड़ता है तो वह उसे छोड़ती भी नहीं है। 2002 में गोधरा नरसंहार के बाद भड़के दंगों को लेकर गुजरातियों को पूरी दुनिया में बदनाम कर दिया गया। ऐसा कहा गया कि दंगों में केवल और केवल मुसलमान मारे गए, जबकि मरने वालों में हिंदू भी थे। कुछ तथाकथित समाजसेवियों ने दुनिया के अनेक देशों में घूम-घूमकर गुजरात के हिंदुओं को ‘मानवभक्षी’ तक कहा था। गोधरा में जिंदा जलाए गए हिंदुओं के बारे में तो पूरी तरह चुप्पी साध ली गई थी। उसी तरह 2007 में अपराधी सोहराबुद्दीन की मुठभेड़ में हुई हत्या को लेकर भी गुजरात को बदनाम किया गया। उसे ‘बेचारा’ बताकर सर्वोच्च न्यायालय तक लड़ाई लड़ी गई। किसी ने उसके आतंक को जानने की कोशिश नहीं की। आतंकी इशरत जहां के मामले में भी गुजरात को बदनाम किया गया। खुफिया एजेंसियों की रपटों को दरकिनार कर उसे ‘निर्दोष’ बताया गया। 

इन सबसे गुजरात के लोगों में गुस्सा बढ़ा और उन्होंने बदनाम करने वालों को पंचायत से लेकर विधानसभा चुनावों तक में पटखनी दी। गुजरातियों की एकता को तोड़ने के लिए ही कांग्रेस ने इस बार जातिवाद की राजनीति शुरू की है। इसी के तहत उसने पाटीदार नेता हार्दिक पटेल, पिछड़े वर्ग के नेता अल्पेश ठाकोर और वंचित समाज से आने वाले और सोच से वामपंथी जिग्नेश मेवाणी को अपने साथ लिया है। लोगों का मानना है कि ये तीनों कांगे्रस की शह पर ही पिछले कुछ साल से गुजरात की भाजपा सरकार के विरुद्ध आंदोलन कर रहे हैं। अब यह स्पष्ट दिखने भी लगा है। इसलिए गुजरातियों को सब कुछ समझ में आने लगा है। तूफानी चुनावी प्रचार के साथ ही गुजरातियों की यह समझ और परिपक्व होती जा रही है। इसलिए लोग कहने लगे हैं कि जातिवाद हारेगा और राष्टÑवाद जीतेगा।    

Gujarat tourism: Spread culture with tourism

(This article was published in Organiser Magazine dt. 03 December 2017).

Gujarat and Gujarati loves tourism. I mean to say Gujarat is great center of tourism and Gujaratis are great tourists who visit from Char Dham to Kanyakumari and from US to Thailand. But until Narendra Modi became chief minister and he decided to promote Gujarat tourism in big way, Gujarat was lesser known for tourism. People from out of Gujarat used to visit Dwarika, Ambaji, Somnath and Palitana temples. Who had imagined that dry desert can be also a great spot for tourism? It can be only visionary person like Narendrabhai who can imagine and develop Kutch desert as tourism place.

Actually Kutch was devastated after major earth quake of 2001. But due to BJP government’s pro active efforts and religious NGOs help Kutch was developed like never before. At this time, Narendra Modi was doing great work overall in Gujarat regarding road connectivity. And Kutch was also included. In 2005 Narendrabhai decided to host Rann Utsav. He knows importance of marketing and promoting. So his government promoted this festival in a big way. This festival provides glimpses of Kutch as well as Gujarat culture. Be it paintings or dance, dresses, handicraft things or any other culture programme hosted during the festival, everything echoes Gujarati culture.

Narendrabhai also ropped mega star Amitabh in to promoting Gujarat tourism. Well written slogans like Gujarat naheen dekha to kutch naheen dekha, Kuchh din to guzariye Gujarat mein and Khushboo Gujarat Kee, script,  locations, direction and presence of Amitabh Bachchan made ads very popular. It helped in promoting Gujarat tourism very well. Even seven years after this campaign, state still manages to hold on to impressive growth rates in tourist footfalls. It has accomplished a 16.94 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in FY17 over the previous year.

Moreover, Narendra Modi promoted Navratri festival in big way by hosting Vibrant Navratri programme since 2004. This programme projects not only Gujarati culture but national and international culture too. Many national and international stars come here for performing arts. This festival also helped to promote Gujarat tourism.

This year present chief minister Vijay Rupani government took it to next level by promoting ‘Selfie With Cow’! Seculars only love chicken and hate cows. Due to constant vicious propaganda, new generation also start to love chicken and hate cows. But in this Vibrant Navratri, four month old calf Saraswati was key attraction. Saraswati adorned in green Navratri dress wearing silver anklets and earings. BJP leader and chairman of state Gauseva Ayog and Gauchar Vikas Board Vallabh Kathiria said, “Selfie with Saraswati' is the cow board's initiative to attract youth towards cow and inculcate love and respect towards gaumata”.

International Kite festival is also big opportunity to attract not only national tourists but international tourists in a big way.

Efforts started by Narendrabhai way back in 2010 to get Ahmedabad declared as world heritage city saw result this year when UNESCO made this announcement. This will help to boost Gujarat tourism and Gujarat culture.

CM Vijaybhai Rupani also launched Seema Darshan programme at zero point of Nadabet border in Banaskantha district. It is a concept of border tourism which helps tourists to realize how our Jawans live and fight at border and boosts not only tourism but patriotism in our countrymen too. Exhibition of arms, border view, film about BSF, retreat of Jawans, BSF fusion band, camel show and bird show are main attractions of this border tourism. Added attraction is darshan of Nadeshwari Mata.

And now Gujarat Tourism Corporation has added a new tourism package! It is named ‘Modi tourism’! Tourists taking this package will get visit of Vadnagar and places around it. It is well known fact that Vadnagar is birth place of Narendra Modi. Gujarat can launch this type of tourism because Vadnagar is well developed during Modi government period and then afterwards Anandiben-Vijaybhai governments. Can there be Amethi or Raibareli tourism?

Today Sabarmati River front has become one of major tourist point. Before Narendra Modi took over as CM, Sabarmati used to be dry bed and youth used to play cricket there. But Modi government brought Narmada water into Sabarmati. And he also developed River front. Now there is water sports adventure in Sabarmati. Even, when Rahul Gandhi, vice president of Indian National Congress decided to hold Samvaad programme to raise unemployment and non development issues in Gujarat recently, he choose Sabarmati River front as location!

Last month Vijaybhai inaugurated lion safari park at Ambardi in Amreli district.  The park has been developed by carving out around 400 hectare or four square Km area out of Ambardi reserved forest.

Recently Gujarat tourism baged ‘Hall Of Fame’ award for being the Best State in comprehensive development of tourism category at the National Tourism Awards.

But there are more things that can be done to attract more tourists in Gujarat. There are many places that can be developed and promoted through advertise campaigns. Here are some:
1.       Kranti Teerth
Mandavi is a city based in Kachchh district. It has beautiful seashore. There is Vijay Vilas Palace which is historic. Many films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam are shot here. And more over there is Kranti Teerth a memorical of Shyamji Krushna Varma who was great freedom fighter. Nobody thought to bring back his ashes from Geneva but Narendrabhai and then birth place was developed as Kranti Teerth where one can know about freedom fighters. 

2.       Gopnath
Located 70 km away from Bhavnagar, the beach is on the Gulf of Khambat. It is rich in biodiversity and natural beauty. This beach is famous for the Gopinath Temple where famous Krushna Bhakta and ‘Adya Kavi’ Narsimha Mehta pleased Bhagwan Shiv. Shiv gave him Darshan. There are many beach places in this strip like Hathab, Kuda and Mahuva.

3.   Nishkalank Mahadev
Nishkalank Mahadev temple is located in Koliyak village at Bhavnagar District. This temple is unique in a way. Bhagvan Shiv here is well-known as Nishkalan Mahadev. There an idol of Shivjee was situated in an island, over the sea about 2 km to the east part of Koliyak village. That is very holly place. Sea itself performs Jalabhishek on Shiv Ling. It is said that Pandavs got all sins washed away here as they established Nishkalank Mahadev.

4.  Blackbuck National Park
 One remember well black buck as it is alleged that Salman Khan killed blackbuck in Rajasthan. But this blackbuck national park is situated in the Bhavnagar district. It was established in 1976. Population of the park mainly includes blackbucks, wolves, Macqueen's bustards, hyenas and lesser floricans, with foxes, jackals and jungle cats as the main carnivores. Other species include wild pigs, hares and rodents typical of the savannah type grasslands and thorn scrubs.

5.   Pirotan Island
Pirotan Island is an Arabian Sea island. It is known for Marine National Park, Jamnagar District of Gujarat state, India. It is located 12 nautical miles (22 km) off the coast (Bedi Port), consists of mangroves and low-tide beaches. Here tourist can see various marine life forms that include various types of Crabs,  Neptune, hermit crab, sea scorpion, wiper iscoceles, sea horse, octopus etc.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Gujarat Elections: Impregnable

(This article is published in Organiser magazine 12-11-17 issue)

Finally election commission set ball rolling on last 25th October. Gujarat is going to have elections in two phases. First phase on 9th December will see Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat voting on 89 seats. It will cover 19 out of 33 districts. Second phase on 14th December will be for North Gujarat and Central Gujarat voting on 93 seats in remaining 14 districts. Results will be out on 18th December 2017.

While it was seen one sided game till Rajya Sabha elections. Congress was facing revolt by its opposition leader in assembly, Shankarsinh Vaghela. His supporters were demanding to declare him CM candidate. Shankarsinhjee was also demanding to declare candidates early so that they could get enough time for campaigning. He sought to implement report prepared by ex defense minister A. K. Antony on wake of debacle in Lok Sabha elections. Posters war began in Congress. Some posters were saying: Bapu aave chhe. (Shankarsinh Vaghela a.k.a. Bapu will be next CM) Some were saying: Bharatsinh Solanki aave chhe.  But Congress high command didn’t succumb to Shankarsinh Vaghela group’s demand. And after one meeting of his supporters on 24th June, Shankarsinhjee announced he would quit congress on his birthday 21st July.

Congress mlas who were seemed to be Shankarsinhjee supporter began to defect one by one. 14 mlas resigned from Congress before rajyasabha elections. BJP gave Balwantsinh Rajput, congress mla who defected to BJP ticket of Rajya sabha. He was seen candidate against Congress stalwart Ahmed Patel. Suddenly Congress woke up and hijacked their mlas to Bengaluru five star resort. Agnet of Ahmed Patel and veteran Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil allegedly played tactics in which Shankarsinh Vaghela group mla Raghavjee Patel and Bholabhai Gohil got trapped. Their two votes were cancelled after a long suspense that continued till mid night involving election commission at Delhi and Gandhinagar. And finally result was out with Ahmed Patel victory by just half vote which is challenged in court by Balwantsinh Rajput.

Dubious Victory
This victory has boosted up Congress moral. North Gujarat was facing flood and heavy rain. While Gujarat CM Vijaybhai Rupani and health minister Shankarbhai Chaudhary were in North Gujarat for five days to help flood victims, while Congress’s 44 mlas were enjoying in Bengaluru hi fi resort. Even though, after victory ‘Vikas Gando thayo chhe’ (Development has gone mad) messages got circulated and anti BJP campaign was peaking up. Rise in Petrol-Diesel prices, loan for Bullet train, very poor condition of roads, GST were being opposed and many people also joined in this campaign allegedly run by Congress I.T. Cell.

Even though, roads are subject of municipalities (which are BJP controlled), BJP national president Amitbhai Shah had to promise roads would be fine till October which showed Congress campaign success. Picture was good for Congress till 21st October. But it has started changing from the same day. On this day, Alpesh Thakor, who agitated for OBC and SC-ST went to meet Rahul Gandhi at Delhi and declared he would join Congress. Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani also declared he would support Congress. Hardik Patel also gave indications of supporting Congress on same day.

Split support
Thus it was clear that all three agitations were supporting Congress. Hardik Patel who fought for reservation to Patel community in OBC quota suddenly changed his stand and publically told: “No problem, if Congress doesn’t give reservation to Patel, but we will see BJP would not come to power.” He also talked he was ready to see any Dalit or Muslim leader becoming CM but BJP mustn’t come to power.

Similarly, Alpesh Thakor fought for strict implementation of liquor prohibition. But Mohansinh Rathva who became opposition leader in assembly after Shankarsinh Vaghela quit Congress appealed thakor community members to drink liquor if offered by BJP and vote to Congress. It was in presence of Rahul Gandhi and Alpesh Thakor! It was clearly violation of law. Alpesh Thakor didn’t oppose this at that time and even after that rally.

Media showed Hardik Patel secretly meeting allegedly Rahul Gandhi and coming out with begs. BJP alleged that Hardik Patel had secret deal with Congress. Two big PAAS (Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti) leader Varun Patel and Reshma Patel also changed their hearts and joined BJP!

After this sudden change, it seems these agitation have divided Patel and OBC community, specifically Patel community. Before agitation there were two sub castes- Leuva and Kadva. But after Hardik Patel support to Congress, it seems there are two more divisions- PAAS (Pro PAAS) and NaaPAAS (Naapaas means failed but in this case it is anti PASS). Opposition to Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor by their respective communities show that wise members have realized that these leaders, be it Hardik, Varun, Reshma, Alpesh or Jignesh have befooled them on name of communities.

Flimsy Ploys
Allegations by Narendra Patel, PAAS leader that BJP tried to buy him with one crore rupee and after then one audio clip telecasted by media heard Narendra Patel speaking to unknown person about entry of Rs. 25 lakh in his name though he didn’t receive any money. He was telling that Rs25 lakh was described in a diary as a part of the grant received by Mehsana District Panchayat, which was given to PAAS Committee of Mehsana and North Gujarat. He quoted one Pahlaj bhai who told him that he had given the money to three people on receiving a call from the State Congress. Patel was even heard saying that he would speak with state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki and ask him about who was given the money. Later in the clip, Patel said that he received a call from Patel reservation stir leader Hardik Patel, who asked him not to talk about the matter to anyone, and also asked him not to make an issue of the same.

These events have created bad image for agitators and Congress. Congress is again alleged to play same caste politics. In 1980s, Congress leader Madhavsinh Solanki played KHAM (Kshatriy, Harijan i.e. dalit, Adivasi i.e. tribal and muslim) theory successfully. This time Congress is applying POD theory where P stands for Patidar, O for OBC and D for Dalit.

Chinks In Congress
But taking support of these three young leaders will not be easy task for Congress. After Alpesh Thakor joined Congress, it is said that Congress had to rethink for candidate on 60-70 seats. It was said that Alpesh had a meeting with BJP president Amitbhai Shah where he demanded deputy CM post for his father and 16-18 seats but Amitbhai rejected his offer. So it is clear if Alpesh has joined Congress, Congress must have accepted his demands. And it will create dissatisfaction among Congress leaders. Congress is known for factionalism at times of election and it is one big reason behind its successive four defeats. Two suspected ISIS terrorists were arrested from Surat. BJP alleged that one of the terrorist, Kasim Stimberwala was working as laboratory technician at Sardar Hospital In Ankleshwar. Ahmed Patel was trustee in this hospital. BJP demanding Ahmedbhai’s resignation.

BJP's game

On other hand BJP is also highlighting development work done at center in leadership of PM Narendra Modi and at Gujarat in leadership of ex CM Anandiben Patel and current CM Vijaybhai Rupani. This includes completion of Narmada yojana, Sauni Yojana, Mukhyamantri Yuva Svavalamban Yojana, electricity, irrigation, actions in favour of farmers and tribals, better road connectivity, R0-Ro ferry service between Ghogha-Dahej, bullet train etc.

Election rallies have just started. Model code of conduct is in force since 25th. Rallies may change whole campaign. Congress is raising same issues like past four elections- i.e. unemployment, poor education facilities, injustice to farmers-dalits-tribals-women, undue favour to 4-5 industrialists. However Rahul Gandhi is adopting new strategy. In past, he/Sonia Gandhi used to come, address rally and then leave. Now Rahul is staying here for three days. He is travelling to villages, talking to farmers, tribals, women, youths. He has accepted he is not good speaker as Narendra Modi is. So he has adopted this strategy.

As this article is being written, Rahul has arrived in south Gujarat. He has visited Saurashtra region and central Gujarat. Narendra Modi has been visiting Gujarat since last one year. He has been here for all development work inauguration or commencement.

It will have to be seen which strategy wins. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hamid Ansari: Thy name is controversy

Hamid Ansari defamed nation while ending his term as vice president by saying that muslims in Bharat feeling sense of insecurity. His qualification which made him Vice President was that he was Sonia Gandhi's favourite. If Sonia Gandhi's wish could be fullfilled, his statement about muslims insecurity in this country could be as president. Yes, he was first choice of Sonia Gandhi as president candidate. But it was Pranav Mukherjee, then finance minister who played brilliant game. He made Mulayam Singh Yadav to lobby for APJ Abdul Kalam. On this, Mamata Banerjee also came forward in suppprt of Kalam. BJP which made Dr. Kalam president in year 2002 would also have supported Kalam again.

This made Sonia rethink on making Hamid Ansari as president candidate as it would have brought embarassing defeat for UPA. This brough Pranavda in picture. Pranavda convinced Sonia that he would be able to bring majority parties support in his favour. And Pranavda had and has good acceptance acrooss all parties. He won president election. And it was good fortune of our country that she didnt get such communal and biased person as president.

In December 2011 on last day of rajya sabha session, Anna Hazare's agitation had forced to bring and pass lokpal bill but Congress was not willing to pass it. Atleast not at that time. Rajdeep Sardesai headed CNNIBN broke news that Congress had plan. Under this plan, Congress's ally RJD's mp Rajneeti Prasad stood up and as per fixing, he tore bill around mid night. Congress started disruption.  Opposition leader Arun Jaitley requested to extend session as they were ready to sit all night for lokpal. President Pratibha Patil was kept in loop for continuation of session and Times Now channel had president's office SMS confirming this. President was also agree to let continue session post mid night. But Hamid Ansari played as puppet of Sonia Gandhi's puppet UPA govt. He adjourned session sine die. The day 30th December 2011 was registered as major black spot in Bharatiya democracy's history, specially in history of vice president who is also Rajya Sabha chairman.

It didn't stop there. Hamid Ansari is known for his gross communal stand. He (and Sonia-Rahul Gandhi also) used to remain absent in Yod day events. Not only that, he didnt allow yog day event to be telecasted on RSTv i.e. Rajya Sabha tv channel run on public tax money.

He was also not seen saluting on republic day when national anthem was being played on flag hoisting. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Regulation for affordable education

(My article on regulation brought by Gujarat government on school fee in Organiser, dt. 25 June, 2017)

Schooling is necessary but schools have become a luxury, especially the private schools. It is welcome to have one’s child education at a private school but school fee is matter of big worry.  According to one Mumbai- based tabloid, seventy students of a school were expelled by the management. Reason?  Due to parents’ opposition to school fee hike.

According to national sample survey in 2015, education cost from Primary education to Post-Graduation has soared by 175 per cent.  In Mumbai, as per one estimate, pre schooling fee is higher than MBA fee! As per a report, one school charged Rs. 4.55 lakh as fee till last year, which was raised to Rs. 7 lakh this year! On the other hand, middle class person’s salary or SME’s revenue gets increased generally from 5 to 10 percent yearly with which he has to run household. MBA fee in private college is Rs.5-7 lakhs per year. Fee of one Nursery School in Mumbai was Rs 45,000 in year 2009. This was raised to Rs 93,000 this year. Parents also have started a missed call and WhatsApp campaign to gain support for agitation against the school fee hike.

According to the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2011, a private school can propose a fee hike six months before the academic year and must seek nod from the Parents Teachers Association’s (PTA) executive body before implementing it. According to parents, one of the major drawbacks is that even though the act prohibits schools from hiking fees more than once in two years, it does not put any cap on the hike. They want the act to define upper limits for the hikes.
But this problem is not limited to Maharashtra only. It is pan Bharat problem. Privatisation of education gives more option to parents, but in the name of facilities, schools demand sky-touching fees. Let’s talk about Karnawati. Private schools here charge fees ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 5.5 Lakh! Issue is not only fee, but schools demand donation/capitation fee. They force students to buy uniform, books and other things from certain specified shops/show rooms. Recently a school ordered students to wear only Adidas brand shoes!

Even after this scenario, according to Legatum Prosperity Index, Bharat is nowhere near top ten countries in education field. Bharat ranks at 92 which is far behind the other developing countries such as Phillipines (76), Malaysia (51), Sri Lanka (59).

If school education is such costly, how can we expect students to have higher education? There is RTE act for poor children. But its implementation is very poor. Schools don’t obey this rule. As per report of last year, parents complained that eight schools of Rajkot denied admission to 26 children. In Karnawati, parents strongly protested against admission given in schools which are at long distance from home. According to this law, children applicable under RTE must be given admission in the school which is 6 KM away from their homes. But 7,000 children were given admission in schools which were more than 6 km away from their homes. One resident of Asarwa, Karnawati has his child’s admission in school 25 KM away from home!

But Gujarat Government has made a bold initiative regarding school fee. It passed Gujarat Self Financed Schools (Regulation Of Fees) Bill, 2017 on March 30. Under this law, all Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary schools affiliated under CBSE, International Board, ICSE Board and State Board will be covered. The State Government decided maximum ceiling fee that schools can charge. For primary it is Rs. 15,000, for Secondary it is Rs 25,000 and for Higher Secondary i.e. std 11 and 12, it is Rs 27,000.

While tabling bill, education minister Shree Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said, “Donations are being forced beyond imagination. Schools decide which brand of shoes to buy and from which shop. The sale outlets of these brands are set up within the school compound and the parents are forced to buy uniforms, water bags, shoes, school bags, etc. If rules under this new law are not followed ,there is a provision for fines ranging from Rs 5-10 lakh and cancellation of affiliation.

When contacted on phone, Education Minister Shree Chudasama said, “This bill is not against private schools, but at the same time, any system can’t be run uncontrolled. How can a parent having Rs. 5,000 to 10 ,000 monthly income afford paying fee of Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh?”

Under this legislation, a Fee Regulatory Committees will also be formed in four zones of Gujarat that will keep a tab on the school fees. Committee will be headed by retired District Judge. Gujarat Government is firm to implement this new Law from this academic session itself.

However, school administrators are opposing this law. Some of them have challenged this law in Gujarat High court. They argue that fee decided by the government is very low. The Government has not considered the education given with quality and facilities, salaries paid to teachers and other staffers. But those who are aware of education sector know better that teachers in private schools have one salary on paper and other given actually.  Apparently, they want to pressure the government as well as parents as academic session has been started from June. Under this law, there is a prohibition on charging any donation or capitation fee. If any parent pays donation voluntarily, he/she has to inform Fee Regulation Committee.

Shree Bhaskarbhai Patel, spokesman of Gujarat State School Management Association says, “It is very clear. Education is in concurrent list in constitution. What type of education should be there, rules regarding teachers, school fee are subject to Government decision. Private schools have crossed limits regarding fees. Education has become business instead of service or mission. So restrictions are necessary.” Bhaskarbhai thinks that this law is applicable to schools falling under CBSE also.

Dr Akshay Aggarwal has his broad opinion on education. Talking from Canada, former Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Technical University (GTU) says, “Education  has been commercialized all over the country. 90 percent education is in hands of private managers. Education has become very costly for poor and middle class children. Very few children come forward for getting education in good schools but they go abroad for better prospects. Many children have to strive for good education. In present situation, government regulation was  the only solution. We have our dress torn and we wear it with darn. This will not lead to better production of citizens. We have to think about education system from very roots. We have to make policies which reflect our country’s ancient heritage and culture instead of coping foreign policies.”

Good thing is that Central Government is mulling over Gujarat model to slash school fees across India. According to a report of CNBC Awaaz, Union HRD  Minister Prakash Javadekar has asked for the details of the Gujarat Self-Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Bill 2017.   

Donating for soldiers

(My article on Janardanbhai Bhatt and Rakshaben Dave from Bhavnagar donating for soldier hefty amount for soldiers published in Organiser on 28th May 2017)

Really, our nation is changing. There is lot of talk and care being expressed for soldiers nowadays. But opponent views are also being expressed against nationalists. They say - nationalists are doing just lip service. Actually they are nothing doing for soldiers. Anti nationalists are not right.

Generally at war time, many charitable organizations or NGOs start collecting donations for soldiers. We had witnessed such events at time of Kargil (1999) war. But right now, no war is declared officially. Even then, people have come forward for donating for soldiers.

Bhavnagar is known for social service works. It is railway terminus. So many times mental patients travelling in train are dropped here and many persons and organization work for them including giving bath them. Bhavnagar is called ‘Ganda nun Gaam’ (city of mental persons) in lighter vein but real reason is care being taken of mental persons done here. Shishuvihar and late Maanbhai Bhatt are also known for such works. But at present three persons have come forward for cause of soldiers. They are Janardanbhai Bhatt, Rakshaben Dave and Nimeshbhai Trivedi. They all belong to Bhavnagar.

Among them, Janardanbhai Bhatt is highest donator. He has donated whooping Rs. 1.02 crore for soldiers! And that is too when he is living on pension! How could he afford for such huge amount? How can he have such big amount for donation?

Generally, when one have such whooping amount of Rs. 1.02 crore, what he/she may think to spend this money? Answers will be according to sex, age and hobby of person. One may think to buy a flat. Other may think to buy luxurious car like BMW. One may think to go on foreign tour. Person like Mukeshbhai may think how to convert this crore amount into Abaj (billion). If person is lady, she may think to buy costly sarees or dresses or she may think to have beauty treatment or surgery to look more beautiful.

But Janardanbhai Bhatt who is 85 years old has donated such big amount without hesitation.  He says on telephone, “When our country is passing through severe crisis, it is our duty to do whatever we can do at our level.” Janardanbhai Bhatt is retired SBS (State Bank Of Saurashtra, founded by Bhavnagar maharaja which was merged in SBI) clerk. He joined this bank in 1954. In year 1962, Janardanbhai established an employees’ union. According to him, his union is non political. In 1970 bank G.M. late B. K. Chatterjee suggested, “Janardanbhai! You are doing lot for union. Why don’t you start contributing for society also?”

This suggestion made Janardanbhai thinking for society. Actually Janardanbhai is also a swayamsevak of RSS. He used to go in Neelkanth Shakha which was being held at Ruvapari Darwaja, Bhavnagar. For study, he discontinued going in shakhas, “But,” he says, “My all society service work is due to “Samskar” of RSS which I learnt in shakha- honesty, sincerity, integrity, devotion and dedication.” He has worked with Chandabhai Dave in union who is among pioneer swayamsewaks.

So from 1970 Janardanbhai started doing social work like gifting sweets, fire crackers to orphanage children. (Liberal-leftists bombard messages on Diwali/hindu festivals for not celebrating festivals and donating needy children but they don’t know there are many persons like Janardanbhai who are doing social service anonymously.) Janardanbhai’s union donated Rs. 1 lac to electrification of hindu cremation center. He inspired his union members to do relief work at time of Junagadh flood or Machhchhu dam disaster.

Janardanbhai has done this work and is doing because he has great support from his better half Padmabahen who is Swadhyay Pariwar worker. Both got married in 1955 and since their marriage life has become inspiration model for many couple. Janardanbhai says, “She has never demanded to go on tour of Mahabaleshwar of Panchagini. She has always stood firmly with my decisions.”
Janardanbhai had donated Rs. 6 lac for dialysis to Bajarangdasbapa Hospital, Bhavnagar. Her wife gave Rs. 16 lac to same hospital next year in memory of her parents. Janardanbhai says, “Samsar rath (chariot) can run smooth only if both wheels are good and equal. We have no such desires for worldly pleasure. We never went to have dinner or lunch at hotels. We never went on picnic. Yes, when I retired from bank service, I visited Shree Somanath temple to pray.”

Janardanbhai has no siblings. He has no child even. So, there was no opposition from family for his huge donation for soldiers. Instead, family members also pledged to donate as per their capacity. Janardanbhai could donate such big amount because his friend’s father advised him to invest in stock market long ago. This investment is now giving good returns. Janardanbhai had decided to run household on just pension income. He had prepared a will paper in which he decided to contribute for society and nation but sudden situation after Kashmir and Sukama attacks demanded him to implement his will partially.  He has proposed to SBI for opening a bank account in which minimum Rs.5 will be cut from salary of bank employees and deposited per month. Many employees have shown their wish to contribute Rs. 100, 500 or 1,000 per month! Janardanbhai was of view to donate online but friends and colleagues suggested donating publically so that many would get inspiration.

After his initiative, significantly two persons came forward for donation. One is Rakshaben Dave. She is also retired professor. She has donated Rs. 1 lac! One Nimeshbhai Trivedi donated Rs. 25,000.

Rakshaben says on telephone, “When news of video of soldier complaining about food served to them broke out, she could not take her meal. I thought what could be done for them? Then I heard news that soldier was detained.” Rakshaben thought to do something for soldiers but didn’t know how to do. She is very spiritual person. She is unmarried. She was HOD of Gujarati at Mahila College, Bhavnagar. She has written more than 70 books on Hindu dharma. So she thought, “When there is will, she will found way also.” And then news came from Ashokbhai Pandya, a colleague of Janardanbhai Bhatt about donation. So, Rakshaben donated Rs. 1 lac with help of Ashokbhai Pandya. She is now thinking to donate Rs. 1 lac more on Raksha Bandhan.

In year 2013, I had read a golden thought behind a public bus. It can be loosely translated as: If you can give up from hand, it is called ‘Tyaga’ (Sacrifice), but if you can give up from your heart, it is called ‘vairagya’ (ascetism). These people have done both things. Vandan to such souls