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.
In a major policy shift on counter terrorism strategy in Kashmir, the Narendra Modi government has asked Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to go after the over ground workers [OWGs] of insurgent groups in Kashmir, to dismantle their support network. According to sources, the in
Scaling up village water safety and security (VWSS) can help improve access to quality drinking water and condition of household toilets. It can also help face floods and drought situations, NGO said during conference organised by the ministry of drinking water and sanitation and Plan India on Wednesday.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has sought a report from the Indian Navy chief following the leak of secret data on the combat capability of the Scorpene-class submarines. The classified information of the 3.5-billion-dollar project handled by the French shipbuilder DCNS to build submar
Globally, almost a billion people defecate in the open. There has been a 31 percent reduction in open defecation in India from 1990 to 2015, which alone represents 394 million people, said a UNICEF and WHO report ‘Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDG Asse
Many parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are suffering from floods as river Ganga and its tributaries are flowing above the danger mark. So far, at least 40 people are reportedly dead and many have been displaced and forced to evacuate their homes as water continues to rise in the rivers.
The recently released ninth edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII) co-published by the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD, shows that India ranks 66th out of 128 countries in terms of its innovative capabilities while Switzerland remains the