Wednesday, May 3, 2017

BJP’s Lost Opportunity in Jammu and Kashmir




Let the dust of media frenzy, hyperbole and jingoism settle down in TV studios. Let our electronic media get free after mindlessly indulging in meaningless debates after every Indian soldier dies. Let the hyper nationalistic (read: pseudo nationalistic) slogan shouting end. Wake me up when all this ends. We all will be woken up once either the ruling party or the opposition announces its candidate for that could be our next President of India. Snap! The news cycle will change. All the deaths of soldiers and the turmoil of Jammu and Kashmir will be forgotten and the screams and cries of the families of martyrs will cease to echo in our hearts and minds.

I am not writing this blog to again talk about media vitiating the atmosphere or the ruling party endangering our National Security paradigm. I have written enough of the latter, in my previous write-ups and any level headed thinking individual will agree with my assessment. I am not a strategic expert or a foreign policy pundit who would give you ten pointers on “How-India-should-deal-with-terrorism” and so on. I follow as much news and events from the very same sources as the readers who are reading this blog. (Or may be less) I am certainly going to ask some tough questions to the establishment.

In my humble opinion, RSS and the BJP are deliberately ruining the state of Jammu and Kashmir – the only minority dominated state of India, in order to win votes in the rest of the country. They are deliberately creating conditions in the state, especially in the valley, so that they are able to show to the rest of India- how “tough” they are in dealing with a certain religious identity. The BJP which is born, brought up, nurtured and rests on the edifice of religious fissures is using all means to make a point to the rest of majority dominated India, that it can ruin the happiness of a minority dominated state.

The political fortunes of BJP have always risen when it creates conditions of division between communities- we have seen that in the past with the Babri Masjid demolition and in Gujarat 2002. We are now witnessing this in Jammu and Kashmir. This time the politics is not so overt. It is more nuanced and more subtle- dipped in ‘nationalism’.


The earlier incidents of the unrest in Jawaharlal Nehru University and the recent unrest in Delhi University which leverages its germination to Kashmiri separatism, gives credence to this kind of propaganda politics.

The BJP will never take to task the real Pakistani backed separatists in Jammu and Kashmir, will never prosecute them, will never jail them (no superficial house arrests please) because they want the flame of Kashmiri separatism to burn and show to the rest of India two politically important aspects.

First, the Jammu and Kashmir problem is a baggage of the Congress party and is a legacy issue which they are inheriting. They forget that, Jammu and Kashmir during the Congress led UPA regime has been the most peaceful in the past 70 years.

Secondly, they want to project, that the problem of Jammu and Kashmir is a religious one- not a political one. That is why no eyebrows are raised when the valley sees ISIS or Pakistani flags being openly displayed in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk.

There is no doubt that since last July, Jammu and Kashmir has seen lot. Be it chaos and violence after the killing of terrorist Burhan Wani, or the raising of ISIS flags in the heart of Srinagar. Be it the burning of schools or be it the spate of bank robberies. Be it the abysmal percentage of voting in the Srinagar by poll or the cancellation of Anantnag bypoll, from where the Chief Minister’s brother was fighting elections. Be it the radicalization of young stone pelters and luring them by anti-national separatists or be it the visuals of school girls throwing stones at security forces.

Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed the worst of the times, alienation is increasing. And the only National Force, which could have saved the situation in the state was the Bharatiya Janata Party, is using the state as a bait to attract more majority votes from the Hindi heartland. I may be completely wrong in my assessment, and may be trashed for jumping to such a conclusion. But even my baiters cannot deny that the situation is grim and the BJP is solely responsible for such a sad and terrible state of affairs.

Jammu and Kashmir is an inseparable part of India, and I have no two doubts about that. May be people will question my limited knowledge about the state, and may be they will be correct to do that- But I strongly feel that the Narendra Modi Government has miserably lost the trust of people of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Indictment from own

Jammu and Kashmir CM, Mehbooba Mufti met the Prime Minister recently, and urged to follow the footsteps of Vajpayee  with respect to dialogue in the state Her statement is a strong indictment of PM’s Kashmir Policy and shows that the BJP-PDP has miserably failed in the last 2 years. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are bearing the brunt of the policy paralysis of the BJP-PDP Government in the past 2 years.

His “Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat and Kashmiriyat” is only an empty slogan and nothing concrete has happened in terms of development and peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

BJP’s In-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav in a recent interview accepted that the BJP-PDP Government has failed in its responsibility to maintain peace in the state.

Lip service through delegations

A year ago, an All Party Parliamentary delegation went to Jammu and Kashmir to talk to citizens, but the Centre has not followed it up with any concrete action.

The much hyped Yashwant Sinha report which was prepared by meeting separatist leader Syed Shah Geelani has been again put in cold storage, with the Centre distancing itself from the same.

Alliance continues to dither and speak in contradictory voices

Purely opportunistic alliance between BJP-PDP has neither an ideological foundation nor a purpose other than a pure lust for power. Leaders from both sides give contradictory statements to divert attention and befool and then share the power together.

Senior PDP members recently accused the BJP of acting against the Agenda of Alliance following the national party’s leaders justifying use of force to control violence.

While referring to the controversy over CRPF jawans using a human shield, BJP leader Ram Madhav had said, “everything is fair in love and war.” Chander Prakash Ganga, Minister in the Mehabooba Mufti Government, had justified use of bullets against stone-pelters. “If Kashmiris are perceived as enemies and anti-nationals, why did BJP agree in principle for an Agenda of Alliance?

BJP unfortunately seems shying away from its responsibility as coalition partner on the ground,” Minister for Education Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari asked. He alleged that Madhav’s remarks were aimed at legitimising human right violations.

Earlier, when terrorist Burhan Wani was killed, Deputy CM , Nirmal Singh, had said that the incident was an accident, which was in direct contraction to what happened.

Congress ensured peace

When the Congress Government came to power in Jammu and Kashmir – during UPA- It inherited a legacy of massive unrest, violence and a culture of stone pelting- During those 10 years, the Congress ensured a new paradigm of democracy and dialogue upto the Gram Panchayat level as also job opportunities for the youth by launching Skill Development programmes like Udaan. Congress Vice President,  Rahul Gandhi had taken a delegation of India Inc to Jammu and Kashmir and several schemes were started. Therefore, the Congress could ensure lasting peace and harmony in Jammu and Kashmir.

BJP- the national party has failed us

Since May, 2014, India has lost more than 200 Jawans and 91 civilians in terror incidents in the state. This is almost double the count when Congress-UPA was in power. 1343 ceasefire violations have taken place and 12 direct attacks on our Army, Air Force and security establishment have taken place. The people of India elected the BJP because it was perceived as a stronger deterrent to such mayhem, but unfortunately, due to its political thirst of power, it has failed the people’s mandate and endangered National Security.

It is an unwritten convention in Jammu and Kashmir politics, that a national party plays an important role in the formation of the Government, so that India’s core interests remain intact. BJP has miserably faltered on that count.



Saturday, April 29, 2017

Reimagining Liberal Values of India



There is an urgent need to present a set of pragmatic, doable and understandable liberal ideas to the people of India, otherwise ‘We, the Liberals’, will fail the makers of Modern India.


I am an Architect by qualification, practiced for 5 years in one of the best-known architectural firms of India. Was good in what I did. Later, moved to Political Communications. Although, no one in my family is remotely associated with active politics, but I was always interested in politics- Congress party in particular, because the one person, which inspired me the most at the time of my ideological baptism, was Sonia Gandhi. My understanding of socio-political events began when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, and the Congress was out of power. Every event which unfolded in front of me, be it the ‘India Shining’ campaign or the Tehelka Scandal or be it the 2002 Gujarat Riots- all had an indelible impact on my political conscience. I studied Architecture in Gujarat, and have lived there for 5 years, so I have some idea of the state, which was engulfed in extreme right wing Hindutva propaganda, following the 2002 Gujarat carnage.


This year, Sonia Gandhi, completes 20 years in active politics and I complete 20 years of constantly following her journey. Without any political biases, I can say that- in 10 years during UPA, her contribution along with the then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh was immense in the field of social empowerment, removing poverty and hunger and economic growth.


In that period, we did not have vigilante groups telling us what to eat and what not to eat, the fringe did not become the mainstream then, we did not have government funded ‘Anti-Romeo’ squads creating ruckus whenever they found a girl and a boy moving in public together. During that very period, we did not have innocent people lynched if they were transporting cattle or Dalit students committing suicide because the university management boycotted them on caste basis.


We did not have influencers dance to the tune of the incumbent and neither did we have the mainstream media shamelessly following the instructions of the ruling party.


The main issues which captured the imagination of the people and the discourse in general were issues ranging from the National Advisory Council to Special Economic Zone, from the Nuclear Deal, on which the UPA -1 Government almost gave up power to Lokpal and perceived corruption on which UPA-2 was voted out.


The mainstream discourse was hardly about Gaumata, Beef, Mandir, Romeos, Love Jihad or Azaan. These issues were at the best left to the already sidelined Sangh Parivar and the fringe on both the sides of the spectrum. During those 10 years, we never heard, people getting lynched by vigilante groups in the name of cow protection, neither did we hear about leaders of the ruling party calling Godse, a patriot.


We all know, that during that period, the sidelined and fragmented elements of Sangh Parivar, indulged into suspected and proven activities of terrorism, symptoms of which were first discovered by a now martyred police officer named Hemant Karkare.


The moot point for invoking that decade (2004-14) was that even though it was not a perfect time for India, the mainstream agenda was not at all bigotry and sectarianism.


The ‘Argumentative Indian’ discussed, deliberated and debated about issues which mattered us- Right to Information, Space odysseys like Chandrayaan & Mangalyaan, Petrol deregulation, Inflation, Lokpal, SEZ’s, Global Financial Meltdown and how India is dealing with it, GDP Growth, Forest Rights Act, Food Security, AADHAAR, FDI in Retail, Nirbhaya and so on. Criticism was part of our discourse and the political commentators, civil society and the media left no stone unturned in actively taking on the Government of the day on these issues.


In the last three years, the so called ‘Argumentative Indian’ is talking more about Jingoism, Beef, Cow Slaughter, Raamzaada and Haraamzaada (sic), Love Jihad, Religious Demographics, Mandir-Masjid, Azaan, Invoking ‘Soldiers at the border’ at the drop of a hat, Intolerance and so on.


One can blame the media and the commentators for not questioning the Government on the real issues which face the country- of jobs, of rampant unemployment, of fudging GDP numbers, of agrarian crises, of a flawed Pakistan policy, of endangering India’s National Security, of destroying our forests in the name of mindless development, of benefiting its crony friends in every which way possible, of denigrating almost all Institutions, of massive failures in economic policies and on the Foreign Policy and so on. These things are being conveniently brushed under the carpet by a suave media management and public relations strategy of the Government that keeps the media on its leash.


I personally feel that, although the media and other ‘independent’ institutions can be given a fair share of blame for brazenly and almost shamelessly batting for the ruling dispensation, the blame should be shared by us – Liberals also.


The Congress party has raised various issues on the public forum- almost on all important issues. Be it the scams indulged by the BJP ruled states or be it the assault of institutions (including the judiciary) or be it on the economic policy front or on the front of securing our borders and fighting Naxalism. Be it on Pakistan or on the mismanagement of the railways. Be it on the Land Acquisition Act or on the non appointment of Lokpal. Be it the NIA going soft on Sanghi Terror cases or on the question of atrocities on Dalits. But somehow, it has not been able to join the liberal voices in cohesion to take on the Government.


‘We, the Liberal’ voices of India, have somehow failed to set a liberal idea in the discourse, that could capture the imagination of the ordinary Indian.


A set of ideas which might be able to influence the citizens of India, more than the ideas which are right now presented by the Right Wing BJP.


A set of ideas which influence the powerful young electorate so much so that they reject the ideas of bigotry, fundamentalism or the idea of India as a theocratic nation.


A set of ideas, which repackage the ideals on which the bedrock of Modern India is built upon by our founding fathers.
A set of liberal ideas, so strong enough to influence the hearts and minds of people, that they realize that sectarianism can never be an answer to economic progress and real jobs.


The amplification of such ideas is a pre requisite to save the foundation of India. The Congress, which under Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh brought the golden age of Rights based paradigm in this country during UPA, can be the only vehicle on which these ideas can be mounted. We, in the Congress party need to present powerful solutions, alternatives, a solid vision, a fresh agenda in front of the people. 


This new manifesto should be a workable, pragmatic, doable, concrete and robust, so as to replace the present crass bigotry which has crept into our society. Liberals have to take the lead in reimagining a new agenda. If we do not contemporize the ideals on which India’s Constitution is built and present it as an alternative, we might fail the makers of Modern India.


As Tagore would say,


“Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls……”


“Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit….”

My Father, Let My Country Awake.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How Demonetisation has Abetted the Fake Currency Racket


On November 8, 2016, when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of the legal tender of currency notes of denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000- he claimed that this exercise would prevent the funding of terrorism by the use of fake notes. Substantial part of his speech emphasized that the aim of this decision was to end the circulation of fake notes and thereby curb terror funding.  Barely two months down the line, it has now emerged that this bogey of Shri Modi, which the common man believed and stood in long queues for is a big fat lie. As per various media reports and recent arrests, it has now surfaced that Pakistan-based counterfeiters have come out with fake Rs 2000 notes which were pushed by smugglers through the porous India-Bangladesh border.


The latest seizures were made on February 8 in Murshidabad from one Azizur Rahman (26), who belongs to Malda in West Bengal. Rahman, who was carrying 40 fake notes of Rs 2,000 denomination, told investigators that they had been printed in Pakistan, allegedly with the help of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and had been smuggled across the border from Bangladesh.

Even as the 125 crore people of India were queuing up in lines infront of banks, facing every hardship possible, believing the solemn words of Modi, who promised to ‘fight terrorism and fake notes’, the ISI was printing fake notes and smuggling it to India.

Even as more than 120 plus people died because of the unending chaos and distress unleashed by demonetisation, the deep state in Pakistan which is inimical to India was planning their next move by copying 11 out of 17 features of the new notes and readying the counterfeit currency to be circulated for abetting terror.

Even as the common man struggled to withdraw his/her own hard earned money from the banks in Rs 2000 denomination, Pakistan’s ISI only required half the quantity and half the speed to counterfeit the same amount of notes to fund terror in India.

While announcing the unwitting decision of demonetisation, Modi had stressed “Terrorism is a frightening threat. So many have lost their lives because of it. But have you ever thought about how these terrorists get their money? Enemies from across the border run their operations using fake currency notes. This has been going on for years. Many times, those using fake 500 and 1,000 rupee notes have been caught and many such notes have been seized.” But the recent arrests of in Murshidabad and Malda have busted this bubble of Shri Modi.

In his 4205 word 'Address to the Nation' announcing Demonetisation, atleast 250 words were solely dedicated to fighting fake currency and terrorism

Shockingly, the seized notes have showed that at least 11 of the 17 security features in the new Rs 2,000 notes had been replicated. They included the transparent area, watermark, Ashoka Pillar emblem, the letters ‘Rs 2000’ on the left, the guarantee clause with the RBI governor’s signature and the denomination number in Devanagari on the front, the report says. According to experts, the motif of Mangalayan, the Swachh Bharat logo and the year of printing had been copied on the reverse side. Although the print and paper quality of the seized counterfeits was poor, they resembled genuine notes, it says. Besides, the seized notes had the water mark and a crackling sound, similar to genuine currency, various media reports say.

It is important to note that the Union Finance Ministry had informed a Parliamentary Committee that smuggling of fake currency has totally stopped post demonetisation and the tax department has seized Rs 515 crore in cash, including Rs 114 crore of new currency notes, up to January 10. Tall claims of Modi and his Ministers that ‘fake currency circulation is an issue of the past’ have however evaporated in thin air.

A grave National Security threat has now emerged and a serious situation has precipitated due to this arbitrary step of demonetisation. Terrorists and the ISI who was printing a certain amount of Rs 1000 currency notes now have to print just half the quantity of Rs 2000 notes of the same amount.  

The largest share of the Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) that circulates in India is believed to be originating not from nondescript local presses inside the country, but from high-grade, state-owned minting factories in Pakistan. There is a mountain  of evidence, made public by international agencies including the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and Interpol have pointed fingers at the Government of Pakistan for creating and sustaining a transnational FICN racket that spans from West Asia to Southeast Asia. A day after the demonetisation policy was made public, Kiren Rijiju, the Union minister of state for Home Affairs, boastfully stated that the “the printing press in Karachi and Peshawar will now be jobless” as a result of demonetisation” 

However, RBI officials on record had confirmed earlier that the new notes do not carry any new security features.

In addition, till date, the Government of India through the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL), imports a bulk of the paper used in minting currency notes from European companies like Louisenthal (Germany), De la Rue (United Kingdom), Crane (Sweden,) and Arjo Wiggins (France and Netherlands). So does Pakistan. India imports the OVI Intaglio security ink — a distinctive security component of every currency note — from SICPA, a Swiss company that manufactures high-performance security ink; and it is a known fact that SICPA also deals with Pakistan.

Therefore, it is fair to say that the Modi Government by its demonetisation decision has effectively abetted the circulation of fake notes, instead of preventing it. Now the counterfeit currency printing presses in Pakistan can print the same amount of money in lesser numbers which is much easier to smuggle, thereby cheating the people of India.  


It is important to draw the attention of the people of India to this humongous blunder committed by PM Modi and his Government. Let Narendra Modi voice another ‘address to the nation’ and publically apologize to the people of India for endangering India’s National Security apparatus and inflicting such misery and pain to the 125 cr people of India. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Nationalism Charade

"Jingoism, racism, fear, religious fundamentalism: these are the ways of appealing to people if you’re trying to organize a mass base of support for policies that are really intended to crush them."

- Noam Chomsky





When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. At the end of its half term, the Narendra Modi Government may be still cruising steadily in perception, but in reality the people of India have lost faith in this Government. Rapid signs of disillusionment are being witnessed on ground, in conversations with people and in the nature of the discourse. To its credit (or discredit), the Bharatiya Janata Party is aggressively fighting this perception battle with 3 M’s – the management of the media, the management of events and the management of opinion. The economy is in crises, foreign policy is confusing, reforms are stagnant and governance is diminishing. Devoid of any ideas, to keep the momentum of perception, the BJP has now adopted ‘Nationalism’ as the primary tool to set the agenda of the discourse.


The Bharatiya Janata Party has embarked on a nationwide Tiranga Yatra. Union Ministers and MP's have criss-crossed the entire country, with party workers riding on bikes, many a time seriously violating road safety rules. These party workers, mostly RSS cadre who are accustomed to fly a Bhagva Jhanda (saffron flag) are flaunting large Tricolours shouting slogans of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai". These workers might not have ever imagined that this day would ever come in their lives when the BJP flag or the Sangh flag will be replaced by the National flag. After all their political ancestors always taught them that this was the India's flag was the 'Congress flag' which the Indian National Congress cunningly (sic) imposed on India. This is the reason why the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) never raised the National flag at its headquarters till 2002- precisely for 52 years after independence.

The Hindumahasabha (the original avatar of the RSS) despised the National Flag. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is on record that any challenge to the National Flag by the Hindutva Right wing elements will not be tolerated.

The RSS want to somehow impose its boxed bigoted ideology of Majoritarianism into the circular ideology of India and its people who believe in Inclusiveness. 

When the regressive statements of Hindutvavaadis didn’t cut any ice, when the RSS got encircled in the tolerance debate by majority of right thinking people of this country, when the likes of ‘Love Jihad’ failed, when attempts to foil a ‘National’ vs ‘Anti-National’ debate surrounding JNU and other universities failed, the Sangh Parivar is now latching on to this debate of Nationalism. 

Narendra Modi in his recent speech to party workers thundered that "No political party in India has sacrificed as much as the BJP"(sic) . He said that "Nationalists are with the BJP" and BJP stands for Nationalism. Nationalism is the political card which the BJP seems to be waiving these days. In reality, it is not Nationalism, but Jingoism. BJP wants to create a disquisition, wherein it is seen as the most strident political force on nation state issues. The PM’s uncalculated Baluchistan gambit is also an element to bind this discourse. All this is being planned and managed in order to escape the real questions of governance. 

However, the people of India are unperturbed. The common man on ground is more concerned about whether he will be able to earn for his family, provide them with basic daily needs and fight the daily battles of sustenance. Who cares about ‘Nationalism’? They worry about the Rs 200/kg Daal and the soaring prices of vegetables. They worry about the education of their children and whether they would be able to afford the medical bills of their parents. Their spirit of nationalism ends there. 

The BJP’s game plan does not end here. The Hindu Right has always been devoid of credible icons. In the past 30 years, no political party in India has been able to form a single party government at the centre. 2014 elections have provided this golden opportunity of a brute majority to the BJP. The BJP is exploiting this chance like no other. It is virtually robbing the Congress (known for its exemplary role in the Freedom Struggle) of its icons and of its legacy.

First they came for Sardar Patel, when they announced building of that mammoth statue in Gujarat. Then they came for Mahatma Gandhi. The way Gandhi ji is being potrayed in the Swachh Bharat campaign is for the world to see. 100 years of Gandhi ji's Champaran Satyagraha is being observed by the Government next year. Then they came for Babasaheb Ambedkar. The Dalit plank of the BJP might not be working because of the upper caste Hindutva hegemony prevalent in their rank and file, but the BJP is trying hard to appropriate Babasaheb and play the backwards card. Now they are even coming for Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. They officially celebrated 125 birth anniversary of Nehru and the Tiranga Yatra even has banners carrying his portraits. In fact, the Government is also celebrating the 125 year Birth Anniversary of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (known as the frontier Gandhi) this year. History records all of them as Congressmen. Period. 

Jingoism is only one part of the reality. The other one is to instil fear at local level. Vigilantism has become the order of the day. It is not just limited to the menace of Gaurakshaks and the Bajrang Dal activists or the beef controversy; it has now reincarnated itself into every aspect of our lives. The nanny state is trying hard with its official and unofficial dictates’ – what should we eat, what should we wear, what should we see and even what should we speak. Those who do not conform to the state or its vigilantes are branded as ‘Anti-Nationals’. The recent cases of actress turned politician Divya Spandana, the proclamation by the Culture Minister on skirts and the Sanskari Censor Board’s antics are few of the hundreds of examples in which fear of the nanny state has entered in our lives. 

Two decades ago, the BJP adopted Religious Fundamentalism as its core ideology in the form of Ram Janmabhoomi Andolan; now when it has reaped the political benefits of the same; it has adopted Jingoism in the form of Nationalism and Fear to rule the masses. 

This is the unfortunate truth. 





Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why BJP is digging its own grave by raking up the Agusta Westland Deal




A heated debate took place in the Rajya Sabha on the alleged corruption and irregularities in the VVIP Chopper Deal (Agusta Westland Deal) between the treasury benches and the opposition.

Many important points were made in the Parliament by various members, especially from the opposition benches. Congress leaders laid out authenticated facts, while the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar read out a 45 minute long written statement which looked as if it was a monologue with no concrete answers to the ‘Short Duration Debate’ at hand where various members across party lines had raised concerns ranging from National Security to Defence Procurement Policy to the inability of the present Modi Government to nail down any one in the bribery deal.

Many opposition parties and BJP allies cautioned the Government and the BJP to exercise restraint and take action against the culprits in the scam rather than just ranting against the Congress party. Sharad Yadav from the JD (U) used a very earthy term “BJP Ke Log Sirf Gaal Baja Rahe Hai” (BJP is only shouting) and urged the Government to ‘act more and talk less’. Ram Gopal Yadav from the SP, Mayawati from the BSP and even Sanjay Raut from the Shiv Sena echoed the same sentiment.
It is the Modi Government which is in power since the past two years, and instead of bringing the culprits to the book, they are just shouting from all forums and telling the Congress leaders to come clean on the issue.

BJP President Amit Shah goes on repeating “Ulta Chor Kotwal Ko Daate”- The “Kotwal” from 2004-2014 was the UPA Government- and it took every action necessary in order to bring the culprits to the book. Now since the ‘Kotwal’ has changed – It is Shri Modi’s NDA Government since the past two years, we want to ask what steps they have done to punish the ‘culprits’ of this deal.

Does Shri Amit Shah, go against his masters ‘Saheb’ in bringing Former Air Chief Marshall, Shri S.P. Tyagi to book- who is the main accused in this scam? What is the connection between Air Chief Marshall, Shri S.P. Tyagi and Shri Ajit Doval (present NSA & Director of Foundation) as also Shri Nripendra Mishra, PS to Prime Minister?
Did Vivekananda Foundation take any bribes or kickbacks on the pretext of Shri Tyagi being its board member? Did Shri Ajit Doval also help the Vivekananda Foundation through these funds? Why doesn’t Shri Modi – who is ‘Kotwal’ now, order a CBI enquiry into the funds of Vivekananda Foundation?

Infact, the Defence Minister mislead the August House when he parroted incorrect information on the floor of the House regarding the deal.

Lets look at some of the hard facts in the entire saga surrounding the Agusta Deal

STATEMENT OF FACTS OF AUGUSTA WESTLAND CASE

1(i)    August, 1999

          Indian Air Force (IAF) proposed replacement of MI-8 VIP Helicopters on account of severe operational constraints and completion of total technical life.

 (ii)    March, 2002

Global Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued. Four vendors responded. Many helicopter manufacturers including Russian Helicopter MI-172 and Augusta Westland etc. could not bid as they did not complete the mandatory Operational Requirements (ORs).

 (iii)   19.11.2003

Principal Secretary to then Prime Minister, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee took a meeting. In the meeting, it was decided to keep the Operational Requirements (ORs) at an altitude of 4,500 metres against the original 6,000 metres.

 (iv)   22.12.2003        

Principal Secretary to then Prime Minister, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee wrote a letter dated 22.12.2003 to Air Chief pointing out that PMO and SPG should have been consulted while framing mandatory Operational Requirement (ORs). He suggested that Chief of Air Staff and Defence Secretary should review and draw up realistic mandatory requirements.

  (v)   March, 2005 to September, 2006

Operational Requirements (ORs) were deliberated at length between IAF, NSA, SPG, PMO and Ministry of Defence. Consequently, an operational altitude of 4,500 metres as also other configurations were arrived at as earlier decided.

For reference to 1(i) to (v) above, please see paras 1 to 6 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Defence Ministry (Source: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237 )

2.       27.09.2006

Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued for 12 Helicopters to six vendors.Three vendors namely (a) M/s Sikorsky, USA; (b) M/s Augusta Westland, UK and (c) M/s Rosboroneexport, Russia responded to the RFP. Rosboroneexport, Russia did not submit earnest money deposit or sign the Integrity Pact leaving the other two i.e. Sikorsky, USA and Augusta Westland, UK.

3.       08.02.2010

After negotiations and approval from Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), Contract for 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters was awarded to Augusta Westland, UK. Contract with Augusta Westland categorically envisaged as follows:-

(i)      It included specific contractual provisions against ‘bribery’ and use of ‘undue influence’. Article 22 of the Contract dealt with penalty for use of ‘undue influence’. Article 23 of the Contract contained a complete prohibition on the seller regarding dealings through an agent or payment of any agency commission to any individual or firm.

(ii)     In addition to the above provision, Augusta Westland had also signed ‘Integrity Pact’ with the Government of India. Under the ‘Integrity Pact’, bidder committed itself to take all measures necessary to prevent corrupt practices, unfair means and illegal activities during any stage of the bid or during any pre or post contract stage. Any breach thereof would result in forfeiture of earnest money, performance bond, cancellation of contract etc.

This was done to ensure complete transparency and integrity of the process.

(Please see para-18 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Ministry of Defence - http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237)

4.       February, 2012 and 16.07.2012

News reports of unethical dealings surfaced in February, 2012. Defence Ministry of the then UPA government directed its Embassy to seek relevant information. As no information was forthcoming, Embassy in Italy was asked and it made a formal request on 16.07.2012 to Naples (Italy) Prosecutor’s Office.

(Please see PIB press release dated 12.12.2012 of Ministry of Defence(http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=90429) and para-26 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Ministry of Defence (http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237)




5.       19.04.2012 and July, 2012

On 19.04.2012, Ministry of Defence wrote to CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) for examining the issue as news reports were suggesting allegations of corruption against various persons. In July, 2012; Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed Ministry of Defence that it was enquiring into the allegations.
(Please see para-31 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 -http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237)

6.       November, 2012 and January, 2013

In November, 2012; Director, Income Tax (Investigation) wrote to Defence Ministry seeking information on allegations against possible middlemen. In January, 2013; Ministry of Defence conveyed the entire facts to Income Tax authorities.

(Please see para-32 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Ministry of Defence - http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237)

7.       12.02.2013 and 25.02.2013

News was reported with regard to arrest of Mr. G. Orsi, CEO of Finmecanica/Augusta Westland for financial malpractices in procurement of 12 helicopters for Indian Air Force.

On receipt of news reports, Defence Ministry asked CBI to register a case. CBI registered a case on 12.02.2013 against six companies i.e. M/s Finmecanica, Italy; Augusta Westland, UK; IDS, Tunisia; Infotech Design System, Mauritius; IDS Infotech Limited, Chandigarh and Aeromatrix Infotech Solution, India.

Finally on 25.02.2013, CBI registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) in the matter.

(Please refer to reply dated 06.03.2013 to Parliament Question No. 961 as also reply dated 11.12.2013 to Parliament Question No.669)



On 13.02.2013, Defence Ministry also asked the Embassy in Rome to send a factual report qua arrest of Mr. G. Orsi as also nature of charges framed and other relevant details besides taking up the matter with the Judge for the Preliminary investigation. On 15.02.2013, Indian Embassy in Rome forwarded a response from the Judge pointing out that as investigations are at a preliminary stage, same are covered by ‘Secrecy’ in terms of Article 329 of Code of Penal Procedure in Italy. It was also added that as Secrecy obligations are over, they would examine a new request from India.

(Please refer to reply dated 11.03.2013 to Parliament Question No. 2147)


              
8.       15.02.2013

Show Cause Notice was given to Augusta Westland qua cancellation of the Contract.

It was also decided to (a) put on hold the operation of the Contract relating to procurement of helicopters; and (b) stop further payment to Augusta Westland.

It was further decided that no contract negotiation was to be held with Augusta Westland in any capital procurement case.

(Please refer to reply dated 11.03.2013 to Parliament Question No. 2259)



9.       20.02.2013 to 11.12.2013

Pursuant to Show Cause dated 15.02.2013 by GoI to Augusta Westland for cancellation of Contract, multiple correspondence and replies dated 20.02.2013, 04.03.2013, 11.03.2013, 18.03.2013, 10.04.2013, 16.04.2013, 04.10.2013, 20.11.2013, 25.11.2013 and 11.12.2013 were exchanged between the two parties i.e. GoI and Augusta Westland vis-à-vis cancellation of the Contract. In course thereof, even personal hearing was granted by GoI to Augusta Westland on 20.11.2013.

10.    27.02.2013

The then Defence Minister, Shri A.K. Antony proposed to set up a JPC to examine Augusta Westland case by moving a motion in Rajya Sabha. BJP as also the then Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Shri Arun Jaitley refused the offer by saying that it is an exercise in futility. BJP demanded a Supreme Court-monitored investigation.

11.    May, 2013

Government of India received the first set of papers from Italy regarding Augusta Westland including copy of search and seizure order issued by the Judge for the preliminary investigation, copies of certain contracts entered by a shareholder of Augusta with various entities in Tunisia, India etc.

(Please refer to reply dated 08.05.2013 to Parliament Question No. 4540)



12.    July to December, 2013

‘Letter Rogatory’ was issued to various countries including Mauritius, Tunisia, Italy etc. by ED and CBI.

(Please refer to reply dated 19.08.2013 to Parliament Question No. 1977)



This fact of issuance of ‘Letter Rogatory’ in July, 2013 and December, 2013 by CBI and ED has been admitted by Government of India also as recently as on 29.04.2016 in a PIB press release (http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=142592 )

13.    01.01.2014

The then UPA government terminated the Contract with Augusta Westland.

Consequent thereto, the then UPA government proceeded to encash two Indian bank guarantees amounting to Rs.240 crore approximately.

Further, a demand was made on Deutsche Bank, Milan, Italy for encashment of advance bank guarantee. Augusta Westland obtained an interim stay from the Ordinary Tribunal of Milan, Italy. Government of India initiated legal proceeded against Augusta Westland in Milan, Italy for encashment of bank guarantee.

(Please refer to reply dated 05.02.2014 to Parliament Question No. 1579)


Reference may also be made to PIB press release dated 18.03.2014 issued by Ministry of Defence qua filing of an appeal in Italian court by Government of India for encashment of bank guarantee

14.    23.05.2014

Government of India won the case on 23.05.2014 for encashment of bank guarantee worth Euro 2,28,00,00,00 (228 million) in the court at Italy.

(Please refer to PIB press release dated 25.05.2014 of Ministry of Defence- http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=105151 A copy of the news report of Business Standard specifically mentioning the amount of Euro 228 million corroborates the same)

15.    26.05.2016

Shri Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister.     

Now let us look at what action did Congress led UPA took in the case

CONCRETE ACTION TAKEN BY UPA IN AUGUSTA CASE.

1.       UPA government ensured complete transparency, accountability and integrity of the process of global tendering leading to award of contract for 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters to Augusta Westland.

Contract with Augusta Westland categorically envisaged as follows:-

(i)      It included specific contractual provisions against ‘bribery’ and use of ‘undue influence’. Article 22 of the Contract dealt with penalty for use of ‘undue influence’. Article 23 of the Contract contained a complete prohibition on the seller regarding dealings through an agent or payment of any agency commission to any individual or firm.

(ii)     In addition to the above provision, Augusta Westland had also signed ‘Integrity Pact’ with the Government of India. Under the ‘Integrity Pact’, bidder committed itself to take all measures necessary to prevent corrupt practices, unfair means and illegal activities during any stage of the bid or during any pre or post contract stage. Any breach thereof would result in forfeiture of earnest money, performance bond, cancellation of contract etc.

          (Please see para-18 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Ministry of Defence http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237 )

2.       UPA government asked for an investigation into allegations of corruption by CBI, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax. UPA government also made a request to Naples (Italy) Prosecutor’s Office for information and documents into the allegations against officials of Augusta Westland.

            On 19.04.2012, Ministry of Defence wrote to CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) for examining the allegations of corruption.
In July 2012, Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed Ministry of Defence that it was enquiring into the allegations.

            In January 2013, Ministry of Defence also conveyed the facts of the case to the then Director, Income Tax (Investigation).

          (Please see paras-31 and 32 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Ministry of Defence http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237 )

On 16.07.2012, Indian Embassy in Italy made a formal request to Naples (Italy) Prosecutor’s Office for information on unethical dealings in Augusta Westland sale of helicopters to Indian Air Force.

            (Please see PIB press release dated 12.12.2012 and 14.02.2013 (para-26) of Ministry of Defence http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237 )

3.       UPA directed registration of CBI case.

As news came with regard to arrest of Mr. G. Orsi, CEO of Finmecanica/Augusta Westland; Defence Ministry asked CBI to register a case on 12.02.2013 against six companies. On 25.02.2013, CBI registered a preliminary enquiry.

            (Please refer to reply dated 06.03.2013 to Parliament Question No. 961 as also reply dated 11.12.2013 to Parliament Question No.669)

4.       UPA government issued a Show Cause Notice dated 15.02.2013 and cancelled the contract with Augusta Westland on 01.01.2014.

          

         In March 2013 itself, UPA also decided that no contract negotiation was to be held with Augusta Westland in any capital procurement case.

          (Please refer to reply dated 11.03.2013 to Parliament Question No. 2259)

5.       UPA government sent ‘Letter Rogatory’ to various countries including Mauritius, Tunisia and Italy in July, 2013 and December, 2013 after receipt of first set of papers from Italy in May, 2013.    

          (Please refer to reply dated 08.05.2013 to Parliament Question No. 4540 and reply dated 19.08.2013 to Parliament Question No. 1977, Issuance of ‘Letter Rogatory’ in July and December, 2013 has also been admitted by GoI in their PIB press release dated 29.04.2016)

6.       UPA government had even proposed to set up a JPC to examine Augusta Westland case by moving a motion in Rajya Sabha on 27.02.2013. BJP refused the offer by demanding a Supreme Court-monitored investigation.

7.     UPA government encashed the two Indian bank guarantees        amounting to Rs.240 crore approximately at the time of termination of contract.

         (Please refer to reply dated 05.02.2014 to Parliament Question No.1579)

          UPA government also demanded encashment of bank guarantee from Deutsche Bank, Milan, Italy and finally won the appeal in Italian court on 23.05.2014 for encashment of bank guarantee worth Euro 2,28,00,00,00 (228 million).

            UPA government, thus, recovered nearly Rs.2,068 crore from Augusta Westland (Rs.240 crore bank guarantee with Indian banks + Euro 228 million from Deutsche Bank, Milan, Italy), besides confiscating three helicopters as against a payment of  Rs.1,586.66 crore made to Augusta Westland. Hence, UPA government recovered more money and not a rupee of loss was caused to public exchequer.

(Please see reply dated 16.12.2014 to Parliament Question No. 2559)

(B)     DID UPA GOVERNMENT CHANGE THE OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS (ORs) FOR HELICOPTERS BY REDUCING IT TO 4,500 METRES FROM THE ORIGINAL 6,000 METRES?

1.       Please see para-1(i) to (v) of Statement of Facts.

2.       On 19.11.2003, Principal Secretary to the then Prime Minister, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee took a meeting. In the meeting, it was decided to keep the ‘Operational Requirements’ (ORs) at an altitude of 4,500 metres against original 6,000 metres.

          Principal Secretary to the then Prime Minister - Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee also wrote a letter dated 22.12.2003 to the Air Chief pointing out that PMO and SPG should have been consulted while framing ‘Operational Requirements’ (ORs) besides suggesting that Chief of Air Staff and Defence Secretary should review and draw up realistic mandatory requirements.

          Between March, 2015 and September, 2016; ‘Operational Requirements’ (ORs) for VVIP helicopters were deliberated at length between IAF, NSA, SPG, PMO and Ministry of Defence. Consequently, an operational altitude ceiling of 4,500 metres and other configurations were arrived at.

          (Please see paras-1 to 6 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Defence Ministry http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237 )

(C)     WHY WERE ‘FIELD EVALUATION TRIALS’ (FET) OF HELICOPTERS HELD ABROAD? DID IT VIOLATE THE ‘DEFENCE PROCUREMENT PROCEDURE’ (DPP)?

1.       Field trials for Augusta Westland helicopters were held in UK and for Sikorsky helicopters were held in USA.

2.       During last NDA government (1999-2004), ‘Defence Procurement Procedure - 2002’ envisaged field evaluation trials ‘abroad’. (Please refer to para-27 of DPP – 2002



 ‘Defence Procurement Procedure, 2006’ applicable to Augusta Westland contract also envisaged trials to be conducted ‘abroad’ in vendor’s premises. (Please refer to para-38 of DPP-2006)


Even during the current Modi government, ‘Defence Procurement Procedure, 2016’ envisages conduct of field evaluation trials ‘abroad’ in vendor’s premises. (Paras-65 and 66 of DPP -2016)



It is, thus, clear that there is no bar to conduct field evaluation trials ‘abroad’ either in the previous NDA government or the Congress government or the current Modi government.      


Now let us see what the Modi Sarkar did in the last two years


HOW DID MODI SARKAR PROTECT AUGUSTA WESTLAND?

1.       Investigation by CBI/ED/Income Tax has not been concluded in two years of Modi government establishing laxity and an intent to help Augusta Westland surruptitiously.

In fact, conclusion of CBI investigation appears to be nowhere close. This is clear from a recent Parliament reply dated 04.03.2016 to Question No. 1359 given by Defence Minister, Shri Manohar Parrikar, wherein he has clearly admitted that, “Finalisation of investigation by CBI is dependant upon execution report of the pending letter rogatory from eight different countries”.

 2.      Modi government undid the process of banning Augusta Westland within a short span of 48 days for completely unexplainable reasons.
On 10.02.2014, UPA government initiated the process for banning/ blacklisting Augusta Westland.

On 03.07.2014, process got completed and Modi government proceeded to ban Augusta Westland, its parent company – Finmecanica and other group companies.

Immediately thereafter, Modi government took opinion of Attorney General of India. On 22.08.2014, Modi government proceeded to undo its own order by permitting Finmecanica/Augusta Westland and their group companies to participate in defence contracts as (a) sub-contractor; and (b) supplier to the contracting party. A copy of the order dated 22.08.2014

3.       Modi government has not blacklisted Augusta Westland or its group companies. Order dated 03.07.2014 only imposes a ban on Augusta Westland and group companies during the pendency of ongoing CBI investigation dated 25.02.2013.

          This is apparent from Parliament reply dated 18.07.2014 to Question No. 1417 given by the then Minister for Defence, Shri Arun Jaitley

          What is important to note is that Parliament do not reply dated 18.07.2014 clearly establishes that is Augusta Westland or its group companies debarred nor have they been suspended indefinitely.

4.       BJP President, Shri Amit Shah described Augusta Westland a ‘bogus company’. Modi government granted Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval on 08.10.2015 to the same company i.e. Augusta Westland.

          What is the reason for granting FIPB approval for joint venture to a tainted company like Augusta Westland, which is under CBI scanner on charges of bribery? This fact has not been explained till today.

5.       Modi government has also permitted Augusta Westland to be part of ‘Make-in-India’ programme and participate in ‘Aero India Exhibition’.

          (Please see PIB press release dated 03.03.2015)

          Modi government needs to explain the reasons for its benevolence towards Augusta Westland and acting as its benefactor.