Baba Ramdev Effect: Govt tells Team Anna we can draft Lokpal Bill without you

7 Jun

 After evicting Baba Ramdev from Delhi, the government today asserted itself against Anna Hazare and his colleagues, sternly telling them that it would go ahead with the drafting of the Lokpal Bill “even in their absence” if civil society representatives continued with their boycott of the joint committee meetings.

It also underlined to the Hazare camp that its involvement in the drafting exercise was being seen as undermining of the “supremacy of the Constitution” by other political parties. The government, however, invited them for the next meeting of the joint committee on June 15.

The government’s curt message was delivered shortly after the Congress bracketed both Anna Hazare and yoga guru Ramdev together calling them “mukhautas (masks)” of the BJP and asserting that there was “no bigger sanyasi” in contemporary politics than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

This sudden assertion of authority was a clear attempt by the UPA government, and the ruling party, to regain some of the significant ground it had yielded ever since it notified the joint drafting committee in April under pressure from Hazare who had launched an indefinite fast against corruption at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. The committee has met thrice.

Yesterday, the Hazare camp expressed its solidarity with Ramdev — who was forced out of Delhi on Saturday night — and announced that it would not attend today’s scheduled meeting in protest. The co-chair of the joint committee, Shanti Bhushan, even demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet over the police action on Ramdev, who had organised a fast on the issue of black money.

The five ministers in the joint committee went ahead with today’s meeting in the absence of civil society representatives. One of them, a combative Kapil Sibal, told reporters that Hazare and his colleagues were not “serious” about drafting the Lokpal Bill and criticised the language he said they used against the government.

“I reject in the strongest possible terms the language used by Anna Hazare and others which I must say was not the language of civil society. They have called the government cheats, liars, conspirators. I can only hope such kind of language will not be used in the future,” he said. “Letter writing, asking us to participate in public debates or raising the issue of Ramdev or televised discussions at the meeting are all extraneous to the proceedings of the joint drafting committee. Its mandate is to draft a Lokpal Bill. The government has always cooperated with the demands raised by the civil society.

Sibal made it clear that the government would go ahead with the drafting of the Lokpal Bill even if the civil society representatives refused to participate in future meetings. He read out the responses sent by some of the political parties on the questionnaire circulated by the government inviting suggestions on the Lokpal Bill.

Sibal said the BJP’s view was that law-making was the prerogative of the Parliament and cannot be done by a select group of civil society. Similarly, BSP had said that procedure adopted for drafting of Lokpal bill “was not consistent with Parliament processes”. The CPM and the CPI have also echoed this.

Addressing a press conference earlier, Congress media department chairman Janardan Dwivedi, in a clear reference to Ramdev, said, “A satyagrahi does not run away stealthily wearing women’s dresses. Satyagrahi is always ready to sacrifice his life. Such a person is being compared to Mahatma Gandhi and Vivekananda. Gandhiji never said he feared for his life from the state.”

He also took a dig at the BJP which had organised a day long fast at Rajghat in protest against police action on Ramdev. “Who are these people – those whose ideology led to the creation of Rajghat before time? Gandhiji wanted to live for 125 years. How serious is their fast that the Leader of the Opposition is dancing with her friends at Gandhi’s Samadhi? What is it that they are celebrating – by putting forward the mukhautas of Anna Hazare and Ramdev?” said Dwivedi.

Hazare’s group had also decided to boycott today’s meeting because they wanted the government to make its stand public on certain contentious provisions in the proposed legislation, like whether the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary needed to be brought under the purview of the Lokpal.

Reacting to the government’s remarks, Hazare’s colleague Arvind Kejriwal, one of the members of the committee, denied the use of “unparliamentary” language. “We have always been very proper and correct in our communication with the government. After what the government has said today, we have decided to call a meeting tomorrow to discuss what our future course of action should be,” he said.

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Team Anna doubts govt’s intention on Jan Lokpal Bill

6 Jun

Civil society activists led by Anna Hazare Monday boycotted the meeting of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal bill saying government’s intentions raised serious doubts about having a strong anti-corruption watchdog and protesting against the police crackdown on Ramdev. 

The activists have also sought rescheduling of the next meeting of the JDC on June 10 to some other date because of some prior engagements of Hazare. 

After a meeting of the activists, Prashant Bhushan, one of the non-official members wrote a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Chairman of JDC, saying the government desires to practically leave everyone out of Lokpal’s ambit–Prime Minister, horse trading of MPs, middle and lower bureaucracy judiciary. 

He said there was divergence even on the vision of Lokpal and if the government’s stand is accepted, Lokpal would be left to investigate the corruption of only 300-odd officers and ministers. 

“This is government’s vision for Lokpal,” the letter said. 

The letter criticised the “casual and frivolous” manner in which the government had prepared the questionnaire to the chief ministers and the political parties which has been commented upon by them also. 

Referring to the mid-night crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his followers and other issues, Bhushan said “all these developments have raised doubts in our mind whether the government was at all interested in containing corruption and having a strong Lokpal bill. 

“However, what happened on Saturday night in Ramlila Maidan have strengthened our doubts. All these developments have raised doubts about government’s intention and so we are not attending today’s meeting.” 

The next meeting is scheduled on June 10. Hazare has prior engagements from June 9-11. “So we request rescheduling of that meeting,” Bhushan said. 

While waiting for government’s response, he cautioned that time was running out and the committee was yet to finalise the basic principles behind the bill.

Bhushan said developments so far do not inspire confidence that this law would be drafted by June 30. 

In the letter, he said the civil society was told that the manner in which views of political parties and state governments would be sought would be decided in consultation with them but it did not happen. 

“We wonder whether in the history of parliamentary democracy, such an objective type questionnaire (to tick mark the right answer from the choices of a, b, c) was ever sent to the Chief Ministers and political parties before drafting any law,” he said. 

He said they were insisting from the first meeting to have serious consultations with various stakeholders, not to seek their opinion in the form of a survey questionnaire, but to do collective brainstorming with them to seek more ideas and opinions. 

“The government seems to be shying away from any kind of public debate,” he said. 

“Recent events since our last meeting don’t inspire any confidence that the government is serious enough about the Lokpal bill. Further, what happened in the Ramlila ground strengthened our doubts,” Bhushan told reporters. 

Another panel member Arvind Kejriwal alleged that the government appeared not serious on the issue and were giving “frivolous” reasons when issues were raised. 

“When we asked why they were against including judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal panel, the government side told us that two former Chief Justices J S Verma and M Venkitachellaih had written articles saying it should not be done, so we will not do,” he said. 

Asked whether there could be a middle-path to resolve the stalemate, Kejriwal said many people were asking whether the civil society would compromise. 

“We will compromise if the public says so. If the public does not want the Lokpal to investigate charges of a Prime Minister’s corruption, we are ready to drop it. If the public does not want an investigation by Lokpal the charge of a bribe given to judge, then we are ready for a compromise,” he said. 

Queried whether it was proper for the ministers of the joint panel to go ahead with the meeting when they were boycotting it, Kejriwal did not find fault with it saying the ministers can go ahead with the meeting. 

“They can go ahead with the meeting. There is nothing wrong in it. We also have sent a letter today only. They can meet,” he said. 

Fast hasn’t ended, they wanted to kill me: Baba Ramdev

6 Jun

Hours after being bundled out ofDelhi, Baba Ramdev targeted Congress presidentSonia Gandhi and government, alleging that his peaceful agitation was treated with unprecedented ‘barbarism’ and vowed to continue his ‘satyagraha’ against corruption

Reaching his ashram here after the midnight crackdown at his protest site in Ramlila ground in the national capital, a visibly shaken yoga guru alleged that there was a conspiracy to kill him and a “threat” was given to him during a meeting with senior ministers. 

Wearing a white ladies suit instead of his trademark saffron robes , Ramdev accused the government of not being serious about discussing issues of corruption and black money stashed abroad and alleged that government negotiator Kapil Sibal had cheated him through “scheming and cunning” attitude. 

“The barbarism and atrocities inflicted by police on one lakh people crossed all limits and even women and children were not spared…They dragged and beat them up,” he said. 

Attacking Sonia while talking about last night’s developments, Ramdev said “She is running the government by remote-control. She is daughter-in-law of this country… she does not love the mothers and sisters of this country.” 

“If anything happens to me, Sonia and Congress government will be responsible…The government, especially the Congress, do not want to see me alive as my movement can expose their black deeds,” he said. 

However, asked if he feels Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was responsible for the incident, he merely said “the ministers said they are coming on behalf of the PM”. 

Ramdev rejected the government’s charge that he misused the permission given to him for a yoga camp at the ground, saying his agitation was also part of yogic elements. 
Narrating to his followers how he tried to escape the “brutalities” at Ramlila by wearing a women’s attire after the midnight swoop by police, Ramdev at times seemed nearing tears as he alleged that he was nearly strangulated with his scarf by the policemen. “I asked them, do you want to kill me?”

He claimed there was firing during the crackdown and several workers are in ICU. Ramdev said he has not called off his agitation but did not specify where he would continue it. 

Ramdev said “black day” will be observed peacefully across the country today and tomorrow against the police action which he termed as a “blot on democracy”. 

He also alleged that there was a conspiracy to arrest him and “eliminate” him in an encounter. 

“They were ready to unleash another Jallianwala Bagh. We were pressurised to give the letter (about ending the fast by June 6). We were told the otherwise we will have to suffer the consequences,” the yoga guru claimed. 

Asked about allegations raised against him by Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh, he termed them as “baseless and irresponsible”. 

“I am serving the people for 20 years. If people give donation to me that is the fruit of their labour, not black money,” he said. 

On accusations of RSS remote-controlling his agitation, he said his campaign had got support from various quarters including TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu. 

“What is the problem if someone supports us? They (government) should rather answer why all these happened,” he said when persistently asked about Sangh Parivar backing.

Headley was in touch with Pakistan officials, terrorists

25 May

The revelation by prosecution’s star witness on the second day of the trial of his one time friend, Pakistan-born Canadian Tahawwur Rana in a Chicago court, has put Islamabad squarely in the dock, adding fuel to demands for stopping US aid to an unreliable ally in the fight against terrorism.

The issue has further strained US relationship with Pakistan amid mounting pressure from Congress to reduce foreign aid since the May 2 US raid on Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, just outside the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

Federal prosecutors Tuesday also established Rana and Headley’s long-time friendship with the consul general for Pakistan in Chicago. All three men attended the same top military school in Pakistan.

US-born son of a Pakistani father and an American mother, Headley had changed his given name of Daood Gilani in 2006 to scout targets for the Mumbai attack without arousing suspicion.

Giving vivid details of the terror plot he enlisted Rana to help carry out, Headley said he was recruited by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed to take part in the plot to attack Mumbai.

Describing his last several months in Mumbai, Headley said he received the final orders from his handler from Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), a man known only as Major Iqbal — which he said provided help to the terrorists.

Major Iqbal was apparently upset that the Mumbai airport was not being considered as a possible target by the attackers, according to Headley’s testimony.

Iqbal wanted Headley to scout the Indian Naval Air Station in Mumbai as well. “He was really keen on that,” Headley testified.

Headley said he was asked to conduct surveillance and mark on his GPS the location of the Chabad house, a Jewish community centre in Mumbai.

Headley said that Major Iqbal was interested in attacking the Chabad House since Iqbal believed it was allegedly a front for the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service.

Headley said that the Chabad house was difficult to locate since it was at the end of a narrow alley, where his GPS could not receive a signal.

He described how he received instructions to shoot surveillance films for the attackers to help them plan their routes.

Headley also testified that he purchased traditional colourful bracelets worn by young boys and men in Mumbai so that the attackers would blend in.

In September 2008, Headley said that the planners for the attacks decided they would use what Headley called a “stronghold option” to barricade themselves in the hotels and fight to the death instead of trying to escape from Mumbai.

Headley testified about Abu Qahafa, one of the planners of the attack: “Abu Qahafa said if they knew they would leave, they would not fight as well.”

It was during this time that it was decided the terrorist gunmen would use Indian cell phones to communicate with each other and their handlers.

(Sources – http://www.deccanherald.com/content/163917/headley-touch-pakistan-officials-terrorists.html)

Barack Obama discusses Osama operation with PM Manmohan Singh

10 May

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama spoke over the phone on Monday night and discussed the American operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan and also talked about the situation in the region.

A PMO spokesman said Singh and Obama also discussed further growth and development of Indo-US relations. “It was a warm conversation which covered wide-ranging subjects,” he said.

A statement issued by White House in Washington said Obama spoke to Singh to discuss the “successful American action against Osama bin Laden.” However, it did not give further details.

This is the first conversation between the two leaders since the killing of Osama on May 2 in a raid by US Special Forces in the garrison city of Abbottabad.

The White House statement said the two leaders also reviewed progress in implementing the initiatives launched during Obama’s November 2010 visit to India.

“The two leaders re-affirmed their commitment to building a global, strategic partnership, including defence cooperation, and looked forward to the upcoming meetings of the Strategic Dialogue, the Homeland Security Dialogue, the Joint Space Working Group and the High-Technology Cooperation Group,” the statement said.

The two leaders also discussed global and regional issues of mutual concern.

Singh had termed bin Laden’s killing as “a significant step forward” and asked the international community and Pakistan in particular to work comprehensively to end the activities of all terror groups.

The Prime Minister had hoped that bin Laden’s elimination would deal a “decisive blow” to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups”.

Mumbai Terror Attack Watch NSG Successful In Mission Against Mumbai Attackers

6 May

Osama protected by ISI elements: report

5 May

An influential American daily today claimed that there are signs that slain Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden was being protected by some elements of the Pakistan’s notorious spy agency ISI.

“There’s no doubt he (Bin Laden) was protected by some in the ISI,” an unnamed European official was quoted as saying by The Wall Street Journal.

It said US and European intelligence officials believe active or retired Pakistani military or intelligence officials provided some measure of aid to Al Qaeda leader Bin Laden, allowing him to stay hidden in a large compound just a mile from an elite military academy in Abbottabad.

Helping the effort will be the cache of computers, storage drives and other materials taken from Bin Laden’s residence, the daily said.

It said two senior US officials and a high-level European military-intelligence official, who have direct working knowledge of Pakistan’s military intelligence agency ISI, say similar elements linked to the ISI have aided other Pakistan-based terror groups, the Haqqani militant network and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

However, according to one intelligence official, who has extensive experience in Pakistan, the ISI would have responded immediately when the compound came under attack if it had been his protector.

According to the Journal, US officials say they have evidence that the Haqqani network, a militant group based in Pakistan’s mountainous North Waziristan region, receives material support from the ISI in executing attacks against US and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out a deadly 2008 assault in Mumbai.

A similar statement was made by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an interview to the Dawn newspaper last month.

Bin Laden was shot dead in a pre-dawn helicopter-borne secret US operation in Abbottabad near Islamabad, raising questions whether the establishment knowingly harboured him.

Both the White House and the CIA have said that they are looking into the possibility of support infrastructure that Bin Laden enjoyed from the establishment at his hideout.

In classified briefings with top lawmakers, senior national security officials, said they were looking for evidence that elements within the ISI and the army played a direct or indirect role in protecting the Al Qaeda leader.

(Sources – http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/osama-protected-by-isi-elements-report/134087/on)

Don’t malign our mission, rein in colleagues: Anna Hazare to Sonia Gandhi

19 Apr

Social activist Anna Hazare on Monday wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the “smear” campaign launched against civil society members of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill and asked her to advise her “colleagues” not to try to derail the process of drafting of law.

 In a two-page letter to Gandhi, he complained against a party General Secretary, apparently Digvijay Singh who has been attacking his campaign, of making many statements which were “factually wrong” and asked her whether she approved them.

 He also refereed to an unnamed minister, who is part of the the ten-member joint committee on the bill, and charged him with making false statements that the civil society representatives have “succumbed” to government’s pressure and “diluted” the law.

 As the war over the alleged fake CD involving eminent lawyer and panel co-chair Shanti Bhushan intensified, he said “the developments of the last few days have been a cause for concern.

“It seems that the corrupt forces in the country have united to derail the process of drafting an effective anti-corruption law through the joint committee. Together we have to defeat their designs,” Hazare said.

 He said one of their strategies is to “smear the reputations” of civil society members in the committee.

 “Whereas I am of the view that the people working for public must be subjected to public scrutiny, however, when blatantly false accusations are made, fabricated CDs are planted, then one feels that the purpose is not an honest public scrutiny but to tarnish reputations.

“They have not even spared me, even though I have lived a simple life following on the path of truth. However, I am happy that despite all their efforts, the vested interests could not dig out anything of substance. This has only raised the reputations of civil society members in the eyes of public,” he said.

 The Gandhian said smear campaign of vested interests seemed to be back firing and people could see through what was happening.

 He warned that the country was in “no mood” to wait any longer to have a strong anti-corruption law and expressed fears about the consequences if the process was “derailed” as people were “very agitated”.

 Hazare wondered what would be the outcome if the government nominees in the committee were subjected to “similar scrutiny or witch hunt”.


Rahul working towards ending corruption: Anna Hazare

17 Apr

Social activist Anna Hazare on Sunday (April 16) reacted to Rahul Gandhi’s comment on how the AICC General Secretary was silently and continuously working to rid the system of corruption. 

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi Anna said, “I feel that the youth should work towards the progress of our country. I do not feel that Rahul would have pointed towards me while making that statement. It is good that he is working towards ending corruption.” 

Acknowledging the menace of corruption, the Gandhi scion had said that he has continuously been working against corruption. Rahul said that he has been trying to improve the rotten system rather than just complaining about it and shifting the onus on officials. 

Rahul Gandhi said, “I spend a lot of my waking hours thinking and working to improve what I see as a rotten system. The difference is that I cannot get away simply with writing letters and complaining as you can. I am faced with reality of changing things which requires much more than the periodic release of emotion.

Inspirational Story Of APJ Abdul Kalam

17 Apr

There were about 70 scientists working on a very hectic project. All of them were really frustrated due to the pressure of work and the demands of their boss but everyone was loyal to him and did not think of quitting the job.

One day, one scientist came to his boss and told him – Sir, I have promised to my children that I will take them to the exhibition going on in our township. So I want to leave the office at 5 30 pm. His boss replied “OK, You’re permitted to leave the office early today”. The Scientist started working. He continued his work after lunch. As usual he got involved to such an extent that he looked at his watch when he felt he was close to completion. The time was 8.30 PM. Suddenly he remembered of the promise he had given to his children.

He looked for his boss, He was not there. Having told him in the morning itself, he closed everything and left for home.

Deep within himself, he was feeling guilty for having disappointed his children. He reached home. Children were not there. His wife alone was sitting in the hall and reading magazines.

The situation was explosive, any talk would boomerang on him. His wife asked him “Would you like to have coffee or shall I straight away serve dinner if you are hungry.

The man replied “If you would like to have coffee, I too will have but what about Children ??” .Wife replied “You don’t know?? , Your manager came here at 5.15 PM and has taken the children to the exhibition “.

What had really happened was …. The boss who granted him permission was observing him working seriously at 5.00 PM. He thought to himself, this person will not leave the work, but if he has promised his children they should enjoy the visit to exhibition. So he took the lead in taking them to exhibition The boss does not have to do it every time. But once it is done, loyalty is established.

That is why all the scientists at Thumba continued to work under their boss even though the stress was tremendous.

By the way, can you hazard a guess as to who the boss was ?

He was none other than Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam . 

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