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Diggi’s Naxal Barb Hints at Disquiet within Cong; Upper House for Big Egos; Kamal Nath’s Nemesis

Diggi’s Naxal Barb Hints at Disquiet within Cong

Merely days after the massacre of 76 CRPF men in a Maoist attack, parallel voices have started emerging in the Congress on ways to tackle Naxal insurgents. Operation Green Hunt, as an all out offensive against Naxalites propagated forcefully by Home Minister P Chidambaram, no longer has the backing of the entire party leadership.  Many in the Congress have come out openly against Chidamabaram’s treatment of Maoism as a mere law and order problem. Digivjay Singh, Congress general secretary and master tactician considered close to Rahul Gandhi, has attacked the Home Minister for his ‘intellectual arrogance’ and ‘narrow sectarian view’. ‘He (Chidambaram) is treating it (Maoist threat) purely as a law and order problem without taking into consideration the issues that affect the tribals. When I raised these issues with him, he said it was not his responsibility. I strongly believe in the collective responsibility of the cabinet, and as Home Minister, it is his responsibility to take a holistic view of the issue and put it up to the Cabinet rather than opt for a narrow sectarian view,’ he wrote in a leading business daily. Digvijay Singh’s outburst against Chidambaram’s way of handling the Maoist problem is by far the most explosive one, though some other Congress leaders have also been criticising Operation Green Hunt for quite some time. Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar was the first in the party to come out openly against the Government’s strategy on Maoists. As if the Government too is in a double mind on whether to continue with its strategy or mix the offensive with welfare measures for locals, Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar on 13 April held a meeting of the secretaries of concerned ministries to assess the performance of welfare schemes in 33 most affected districts. Congress insiders say the meeting of secretaries could be an indication of a rethink. 


Upper House for Big Egos

In the typical filmi style that characterises Tamil Nadu politics, the ruling DMK has revived the state legislature’s upper house. It managed to secure the resolution with two-thirds majority in the house to fulfill its poll promise of housing the upper house in the new Assembly complex. AIADMK-led J Jayalalithaa has been opposing the move for over two decades now. The DMK is in the midst of a power struggle now and seized with the question of Karunanidhi’s successor. It is of the opinion that an upper house would be the best way to share power in case the Chief Minister’s two sons, MK Stalin (heir apparent) and his elder brother MK Alagiri (union minister) decide to fight it out. Sources say increasing the size of the political pie is one way to keep everyone in the DMK family happy. Legislative councils are often seen as waiting rooms for politicians, rather than a place for eminent achievers. Among those states with bicameral legislatures are Karnataka, UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. 


Kamal Nath’s Nemesis

Justice or at least public attention seems to be catching up with Kamal Nath’s role in the massacre of Sikhs in 1984. After a trip to Canada that evoked demonstrations and protests by Sikhs as well as a boycott by some prominent Canadian politicians, he found himself in the embarrassing position of being served a summons by a US court for his role. His claim of innocence went largely unquestioned, “For the last 25 years I wasn’t involved... suddenly in 2010 I get involved... There was nobody who stood up and said that he was a victim or that I was in any way connected.” This is a lie. Part of an entire chapter in the book When a Tree Shook Delhi is devoted to his role. The Nanavati Commission’s clean chit was controversial to say the least. But thankfully, this amnesia, his and the media’s, now shows some signs of fading.