Petition urging Chief Justices not to share a platform with Narendra Modi

Dear all,

Please consider signing the following petition urging Chief Justices K.G. Balakrishnan and Ahmed Musa Ebrahim not to share a platform with Chief Minister Narendra Modi in a function at a Law College in Ahmedabad this Sunday, March 28, 2010:

On a related note, here is the latest (today’s) info on summons to Narendra Modi to appear in front of the 2002 riots panel.
For a background info on this issue, here is an article by Teesta Setalvad: Villain of the Piece


Petition urging Chief Justices K.G. Balakrishnan and Ahmed Musa Ebrahim not to share a platform with Chief Minister Narendra Modi

To:  Supreme Court of India and Zimbabwe EmbassyJustice K.G. Balakrishnan
Supreme Court of India,
Tilak Marg,
New Delhi-110 001 (India)

Justice Ahmed Musa Ebrahim
c/o Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe
Zimbabwe Embassy
New Delhi – 110066, India

Honorable Justices K.G. Balakrishnan and Ahmed Musa Ebrahim:

As you may be aware that we are at an important threshold of the justice process in Gujarat against the Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in the case for conspiracy into mass murder (Zakia Ahsan Jafri and Citizens for Justice and Peace). For the first time in the history of this country the chief minister will be questioned by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into direct allegations of his complicit role in the 2002 violence. You have been a staunch supporter of this struggle.

A disturbing piece of information has reached us (an invitation card for a function at a Law College in Ahmedabad this Sunday, March 28, 2010) where Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan will Preside, Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be the Chief Guest, and Justice Ahmed Musa Ebrahim, Former Judge of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe, will be the Guest of Honour.

An association of the Chief Justices of India and Zimbabwe with a person who is being examined for his role in the killing of innocent people, under the directives of the Supreme Court will send out wrong signals and undermine the process of justice in Gujarat. Not long ago, Supreme Court of India had called the Chief Minister Narendra Modi a modern day �Nero�.

Your eminence, we the undersigned urge you not to share a platform with Chief Minister Narendra Modi, pending criminal investigations against him per the directives of your own institution � the Supreme Court. We sincerely hope that you will decline the offer of the Gujarat National Law University, or ask them not to invite Mr. Narendra Modi as the Chief Guest on their first annual convocation.

Respectfully yours,

Nishrin Hussain (
Zuber Jafri (
Najid Hussain (


Reservation for women

Reservation for women

B G Verghese
First Published : 25 Mar 2010 11:48:00 PM ISTLast Updated : 25 Mar
2010 12:31:01 AM IST

The Women’s Reservation Bill got rough passage through the Rajya Sabha
before it was finally adopted by 187 votes to one, after sundry
obstructionists had been suspended and physically removed from the
House for hooliganism and other recalcitrant elements had withdrawn.
The BJP and the Left voted with the UPA. Floor management on the first
day was remarkably clumsy with nothing anticipated despite clear
intimations of possible disruption. Three Yadavs, Mulayam, Lalu and
Sharad, demanded reservations within reservation for Backward and
Muslim women. Their supporters violated every rule and parliamentary
decorum by not merely defying the Chair but by attempting to humiliate
and physically assault the chairperson, Hamid Ansari, the
Vice-President of India, and refusing to allow the House to function.

Why the Leader of the House did not seek their suspension and
expulsion on the first day itself is surprising. It is also strange
that the Opposition, including supporters of the Bill, should deplore
the use of marshals to evict the rowdies and seek to annul their
suspension with pathetic and insincere apologies.

The damage has been done, a dreadful precedent established and the bar
of good conduct knowingly lowered. Thus do some parliamentarians
destroy Parliament to cultivate vote banks. This is precisely how the
Shiv Sena and other fascist elements like Haryana’s khap (gotra)
panchayats have won immunity and impunity despite flagrant violation
of the law.

The Bill, which is yet to negotiate the Lok Sabha, provides for 33 per
cent women’s representation in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies by
reserving as many seats for them on a rotational basis. These
reservations are to come to a natural end after 15 years by when, in
theory, women will be sufficiently empowered to contest and win seats
on their own. Hopefully, this will not continue indefinitely like
general SC and ST reservations as any government/party seeking to
implement the law will be (falsely) accused of discriminating against
women, patent humbug of a kind that is plausibly and piously marketed
all the time.

It is true that Muslims have not got their due and that their
representation in most walks of life is abysmally low. This is
deplorable and is very properly being sought to be corrected through
affirmative action. Yet it does not do for conservative Muslims, and
others, to sit back and assume that there is little onus on them to
exert themselves and that the state owes them a living. Wakf Boards
for example have not done enough to utilise their lands and wealth to
set up educational, health and training facilities that would
enormously benefit the community and others.

The Women’s Bill will now not be taken up in the Lok Sabha until
financial business is concluded and the vote on account if not the
entire Budget adopted for fear of embarrassment and truant  voting if
cut-motions are  moved.

Many MPs across the board appear unhappy with the rotational principle
and fear that they might be the ones to lose their seats through
reservation. The hypocrisy lies in the fact that, despite lip sympathy
for the cause, women are simply not nominated in adequate numbers by
any political party. The Yadav trio’s record has been far from
spectacular and that of the Congress, BJP and Left no better.

Two alternatives have been mooted. Both are premised on a one-third
expansion of all legislatures, with the additional 33 per cent seats
being mandatorily filled by women. One option would be to permit two
members, one female, to be returned from 33 per cent of all seats over
a two-term cycle, rotating the double-seat constituencies every third
election over six elections. By then women would be sufficiently
empowered to stand and be returned on their own. The other would be to
mandate that the additional 33 per cent seats be indirectly filled by
women by proportional representation through the list system. In
either case, women could be directly elected but their 33 per cent
women’s quota would have to be made good through the List. In any
event, the present Bill need not be further delayed by such

The matter is urgent because women will assuredly bring greater
commitment and integrity to the unfinished and increasingly urgent
task of implementing rights based legislation – to food, education,
health, sanitation and water supply, clean energy, demographic change,
and employment. Those nominated are not all going to be wives,
daughters and sisters of powerful political families.

This could happen up to a point but not for long and women will
increasingly come into their own. Parties that wish to see more OBC
and Muslim representation are free to nominate more candidates from
these categories. It is also likely that corruption and misbehaviour
in the House may also come down with a proportionate increase in women

Conservative and fundamentalist forces are not favourable to women.
Witness female infanticide and declining sex ratios in the relatively
prosperous NW states. Worse, witness the ferocious objections to a
uniform civil code, so necessary to promote fraternity and equal
citizenship, by persons determined to misinterpret the law and suggest
that a UCC can only be enacted by abrogating personal law, which is
simply not the case. Similar influences were at work over the ban and
threats to M.F. Husain and again when there was rioting recently in
Shimoga and Hassan in Karnataka over publication of a supposedly
erroneous translation of an old article of Taslima Nasreen, the exiled
Bangladeshi writer, that was allegedly offensive to Muslim religious
sentiment. The law was not allowed to take its course. Some perversely
asserted a freedom or “right to offend” as in the case of the Danish
cartoonists or Taslima. A person has a right to be offended and to
seek recourse to law. But there is no right to offend, which would
entail a right to murder, rape, forgery and similar acts.

The caste-based parties opposing the Bill have threatened to withdraw
support for the UPA coalition. The Congress has refused to be
blackmailed thus far and must stand firm. There has been no OBC census
for decades and accurate figures are not available. Nor does an OBC in
one state get recorded as an OBC in another. In such circumstances,
any across the board OBC reservation could create confusion. The
Government does not propose to include caste among the questions to be
asked in the 2011 census. It is time to rise above such absurd
throwbacks and root to become and be just Indian.

About the author:

B G Verghese is a columnist

BJP against convert Dalit quota

BJP against convert Dalit quota
India Blooms News Service

New Delhi, Mar 26 (IBNS): With the National Religious and Linguistic
Minorities Commission’s recommendations receiving a thrust forward
with the Supreme Court Thursday lending its support for Muslim
reservation in Andhra Pradesh, the BJP on Friday built a strong case
against reservation based on religion, citing the opposition to such a
move by even the builders of the nation.

The Commission’s recommendations, if accepted, will force Scheduled
Castes (SCs) to share their reservation in government jobs and
political fields with convert Christians and Muslims, which the
government wants in their vested interests, BJP national spokesperson
Ramnath Kovind said.

The National Religious and Linguistic Minorities Commission was
constituted by the Central government on October 29, 2004, and its
report was placed on the floor of both houses of the Parliament on
December 18, 2009.

Justice Rangnath Mishra was the Chairman of the Commission so the
Commission is known by his name as Rangnath Mishra Commission.

Kovind pointed that the report of the Commission is not unanimous.

The Commission, inter alia, made recommendations to give 15 per cent
reservation to minorities under Backward Class quota in education,
government employment and social welfare schemes. Out of this 15
percent reservation, 10 percent reservation has been recommended to
Muslim Community and remaining 5 percent to other minority

The Commission had further recommended to include convert Dalit
Christian and Dalit Muslims in the list of Scheduled Castes. At
present convert Christians and Muslims are getting reservation in
government jobs under Backward Class categories.

“Their special interest is not in getting reservation in government
jobs, they want SC category reservation for contesting elections from
village Panchayats to the Lok Sabha,” Kovind said.

The BJP spokesperson maintained that the demand for including convert
Christians in SC list was rejected several times since it was first
raised in 1936 after the Poona Pact.

“All senior leaders including Ambedkar, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar
Patel, C Rajagopalachari had rejected the demand saying that no
religious follower other than a Hindu can be granted any reservation
as so-called SC have been suffering from untouchability and social
discrimination for centuries,” Kovind said, referring to the leaders’
reaction when a similar demand was placed before the Constituent

“Moreover the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru had out rightly
rejected the demand of religion-based reservation in his letter
addressed to all the Chief Ministers on June 27, 1961,” he added.

Governments in the post-Independence era have also failed to muster
support for such a reservation, with the National Scheduled Castes and
Tribes Commission under the Chairmanship of Karnataka Congress Leader
Hanumanthappa also rejecting the demand of including convert
Christians and Muslims in the list of SCs, Kovind said.

“The Supreme Court had clearly opined through its various decisions
that convert Dalit Christians and Muslims cannot be equated with SCs,”
he added.

The BJP leader also maintained that Convert Dalit Chirstians and
Muslims are better educated than SCs and hence, reservation in the
same quota will also eat into the other SCs prospects.

Give credit to Mayawati for her Candour

Give credit to Mayawati for her Candour

M J Akbar,

How much anger can one provoke on a lazy Sunday morning by offering a single cheer to Mayawati, whose latest version of jewellery is cash garlands? Judging by the vehemence of cartoons, quite a lot. Mayawati never fails to irritate the English Indian, being the antithesis of its political, behavioural and psychological preferences. But pause, rewind, and reconsider: surely Mayawati deserves at least a ‘C’ (following the new grading system of examinations) for candour. She is doing in sunlight what her peers do in the privacy of the drawing room. Moreover, this money is from party faithful, not lobbyists handing out black money in return for favours taken or due.

We cannot upgrade Mayawati to two or three cheers, since she is probably not averse to drawing-room deals either, but there is something to be said for this undisguised pot-shot at the hypocrisy that sprinkles weak perfume over the pervasive stink at the heart of Indian democracy. Politics has become expensive, and politicians spoilt. Those shocked by the thought of Rs 5 crore should order some wake-up pills: that kind of money buys you a few packets of peanuts in conventional party politics.

Mayawati never provokes her antagonists by accident. It is conscious and deliberate. She represents the third stage of Dalit empowerment, a process that began before independence under the charismatic leadership of that true intellectual giant, B R Ambedkar. Ambedkar’s rage against untouchability led him to seek separate political space in British India. However, he realized that his best option, at that stage of history, was accommodation: his Pune pact with Mahatma Gandhi in 1932 ensured Dalits the reservations that became a springboard for political evolution.

Kanshi Ram took the next quantum leap forward when he ripped apart the Gandhian dialectic as patronizing, and initiated the rescue of Dalits from the comatose embrace of Congress. It is quite astonishing that we can no longer legally use the term that Gandhi coined for Dalits. Kanshi Ram confronted the establishment and transformed Indian politics. His heir Mayawati has built on that transformation to seize power without allies through the electoral system, a prospect that would have been dismissed as fantasy even in the 1990s. She has done so by diluting confrontation to provocation.

Challenge is the noun and verb of the rhetoric of anger. When Mayawati flaunts her public or personal riches, she is sending a message to her own constituency, that wealth is a source of power, and power is no longer the monopoly of a traditional elite that has brutalized Dalits for thousands of years. She displays contempt for the “legality” that has kept her community socially enslaved and economically impoverished; and scorn for a system in which dominant parties can be flush with hidden cash while she must become answerable for each rupee. She is levelling the playing field with a brazen display, because brazen is as good for her as secrecy is for others. If the CBI were honest enough to probe just how much all political leaders — all, across the spectrum, including Mayawati — spent on private jets, we would get some very revealing facts and figures.

Her dilemma is the familiar balancing act; the demographics of every constituency ensure that she needs the support of others for victory. She has a potential ally in Muslims, but there are many claimants to the Muslim vote. She needs some working relationship with UP’s Brahmins, and there is always the danger that her provocations will be perceived as confrontation. A government is not re-elected on the basis of a rally; it is measured by the quality of governance. A rally merely reassures the faithful. Sensible rule encourages the expansion of faith.

Do not underestimate, however, a notable point: not a rupee from the Mayawati garland lost its way along the journey from collection to knit to neck and then her safe. Cash garlands are a familiar form of tribute in India, whether to bridegroom or politician, but that does not make them foolproof. Last week, Ejaz Ali, former JD (U) MP who became famous beyond his hometown, Patna, after his protests against the women’s bill, was welcomed with a cash garland at Patna airport. They were not, admittedly, 1,000-rupee notes, but a hundred rupees buys more than a meal in Bihar. Alas, by the time the garland reached the recipient it was no longer a cash garland. The cash had been ripped off. Mark this down to the ideological purity of Biharis. This was an instinctive display of Marxist-Leninist principles: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need, without interference from any intermediary. The money had come from those willing to pay, and gone to the needy, leaving the politician laden with honour and light of cash. Perfect.

Brahmin politics stock takes a hit

Brahmin politics stock takes a hit

LUCKNOW: Brahmin politics, which dominated UP between 2007 and 2009, has taken a backseat now with major political parties in the state desperate to catch hold of Dalits, Muslims and Backwards, keeping the 2012 assembly elections in mind. If BSP supremo and chief minister Mayawati harped on her Dalit agenda in the March 15 rally, the SP, sans Amar Singh, is using the Women’s Reservation Bill to win back Muslims and strengthen its grip on Other Backward Classes (OBC), whereas the Congress has gone all out to woo both Dalits and Muslims. After nightouts in Dalit households, the Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is all set to roll out a Rath Yatra from April 14 on the birth anniversary of Dalit icon, B R Ambedkar, even as his lieutenants are busy appeasing Muslims by reviving the memories of Batla House encounter. But things were different between 2007 assembly elections and 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Mayawati came to power by wooing a section of Brahmins in 2007 by fielding a large number of Brahmin candidates. Stunned by Mayawati’s success, BJP appointed Ramapati Ram Tripathi as its state president and Kalraj Mishra as UP in charge to win back Brahmins. The Congress made Rita Bahugana Joshi its state chief. Even SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose politics has always centred around OBC and Muslims, roped in Kripa Shankar Mishra of Brahmin Mahasabha to balance the equations. Traditionally, Brahmins have voted for the Congress but after Ram Temple Movement in 90s they shifted to BJP. A section voted for BSP in 2007. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Brahmin votes were scattered among the Congress, BJP and BSP. The Congress revived by winning 21 seats with Dalits and Muslims also voting for it. But Mulayam paid heavily for his friendship with Kalyan Singh. SP’s tally came down to 24. While BJP remained static at 10 seats and BSP got only 20, much less than expectations. The 2009 results forced parties to go back to basics. While Dalits and OBCs constitute 64% of UP’s population, Muslims are 20% and other castes 16%. Brahmins are 8%-15% of voters in various constituencies and play a key role in 60 assembly seats. So, can parties afford to overlook Brahmins? “No”, said Ashok Bajpai, SP national general secretary. “Brahmins always vote in the nation’s interest and not as a vote bank but the community has been cheated — first by the Congress, then BJP and now BSP. Brahmins will play a crucial role in 2012 assembly elections and this time they would vote for SP,” he claimed. Kalraj Mishra, senior BJP leader, said, “BSP today is worried about losing its Dalit vote base. It has dumped Brahmins and is creating a communal situation to polarise votes like it happened recently in Bareilly.” The Congress, he said, has taken Brahmin support for granted, hence is busy appeasing Muslims and Dalits. SP, he added, is also trying to win over Muslims. “But, BJP is raising issues like price rise, which are directly related to masses. Now people are more aware and parties cannot take them for a ride through hollow slogans,” he said. Rita Bahugana Joshi, UP Congress chief, denied playing caste and communal cards. “We are reaching out to people with development issues like employment and food guarantee schemes, right to education, law and order among other things,” she said. Parties, she claimed, playing caste and communal politics would suffer in elections as it happened in 2009 Lok Sabha elections. While nobody from BSP was ready to go on record, a Brahmin MP said, “Behenji wants development of all sections of the society. Brahmins are very much on her agenda.”

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