The government should do better than insult the intelligence of the nation by saying parliament attack convict’s hanging had nothing to do with politics. Capital punishment per se is political — it’s the state’s reply to address a sore thumb and talk to its people
Shantanu Datta | February 9, 2013
Now that Afzal Guru has been hanged, buried, the press conferences addressed, and clarifications made and sought — respectively by the UPA government and the BJP — it’s time to get back to the core question: why now?
Read updates: Prez, Shinde spring surprise again: Afzal Guru hanged
The contention that Guru’s hanging, to borrow that widely used marketing-turned-media mantra, was an idea whose time might have come, and that the UPA is in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t quandary over such issues, does not really cut much ice. As BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, the supreme court had convicted parliament attack convict Afzal Guru back in August 2005, and a Delhi court had ordered him to be hanged about a year later. Why did it take over six years for the Manmohan Singh government to bite the bullet?
The government’s stock response on these issues came from information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari — the UPA government does not look at electoral considerations when it comes to national security (read more here) and minister of state for home RPN Singh — “This is not a time for politics but calm, restraint and sobriety," he wrote on Twitter.
The first could be termed balderdash and the second, well, balderdash, in the absence of a more profound word. It’s called an attempt to take the moral high ground when there’s physically little ground beneath the feet.
Both statements force an agonising turn back to the last bit of the first sentence of this piece: why now?
The Manmohan Singh government had very bright reasons to do it earlier — first, it had Pratibha Patil as the country’s president for the period immediately after the conviction and hanging order, and Patil was as rubber-stamp a resident of Rashtrapati Bhavan as rubber stamp residents of that estate go; second, it had the 2009 general elections; and third, it had half the world’s go-ahead in the aftermath of the US Navy Seals ‘encounter killing’ of Osama bin laden. The government also had other reasons and opportunities in these six years but the fact that it did not grab those means not that Manmohan-Sonia-Rahul and company were waiting for Christmas, or a divine clearance.
It merely meant indecisiveness.
And the fact that it has finally bit the bullet does not mean the government has suddenly become uber-decisive. It merely means there are few other cards left to play, let alone aces.
One of the last aces the Congress played came in January, when it anointed Rahul Gandhi as the party’s number two, and the de facto prime ministerial candidate for 2014. That the Gandhi scion did not raise a storm in a teacup even a fortnight after his anointment — he has said precious little since getting emotionally charged in Jaipur, and is still busy with his favourite pastime, organisation-strengthening exercises, the latest edition of which comes on February 15 — and Narendra Modi’s surge and success in grabbing the national psyche, along with the coming elections in Karnataka (most likely on May 20 and 23, as Governance Now reported earlier) could have prompted the ruling party to play another card and hope for it to deliver.
Do you think the defence equipment procurement process needs to be revamped?
Country’s largest steelmaker-- Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) on Thursday claimed of registering slump in standalone net loss at Rs 730.72 crore for the quarter ended September 30, helped by a strong marketing push and cost optimisation measures, reported Press Trust of India (PTI).
Pandit Birju Maharaj is a living legend and an institution in himself. He represents Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow. He has mesmerised artists and audiences in India and abroad with his Kathak skills. He is also an accomplished vocalist and musician. He can play all string instruments like Sitar, Sa
The ministry of railways has come up with National Rail Plan, 2030 to provide long term perspective to plan for augmenting the railway network. In order to give a platform to concerned stakeholders to have their suggestions on modernisation and rapid development of the railways, a website (
President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday emphasised on the need to avoid disruption of parliamentary proceedings. He said that while three Ds are essential in a parliamentary system of democracy i.e. Debate, Dissension and Decision, the fourth D i.e. Disruption is totally unacceptable. The pa
Who will own the properties of Jayalithaa, who served five terms as chief minister of Tamil Nadu and died on December 5? That is a question which is being asked by the people in Chennai. In the affidavit submitted by Jayalalithaa in her nomination paper for the 2016 assembly election from R