Pak attack, cover for ops in Afghanistan?

The attack in Pakistan has India worried. Official sources travelling with the Prime Minister said at Addis Ababa that the attack looks very coordinated and it appears that it was done to provide a cover for something bigger at Afghanistan. We are monitoring the situation and obviously concerned with the developments over there.
Although this attack does not indicate a higher level threat to us, we are still concerned and the bigger worry is the risk that the Pakistani nuclear establishments. The attack in Pakistan is a sophisticated one and heavy machinery has been used. The attack has been on very major instalments and it looks like a highly sophisticated and planned attack. It appears that it has been carried out to provide cover for some elements in Afghanistan and this phenomenon has been seen in the past as well.
We are definitely concerned about the nuclear programme of Pakistan and the recent developments have only put the threat perception at a high. For India the nuclear weapons are not fighting weapons and we will continue to have the policy of no first use. However any nuclear on us will be retaliate strongly, the source also added.
India will sit and analyse the events in Pakistan and we need to see what lessons we need to learn and draw from this attack.
Considering that this was an attack on the naval base in Pakistan, it once again brings back memories of the 26/11 attack which was a maritime attack at first. The source said that we have improved a great deal over the past couple of years in terms of coastal security. It would not correct to say that we are satisfied since it dangerous to be content. However in terms of coastal security we have done a great deal and as of today we are in a much better position when compared to what we were last year. The coast guard has done its bit to enhance security. This issue has a lot to do with the individual state governments too and some of them are yet to set up coastal police stations to ensure that coastal security is intact.
On India’s position in Afghanistan, the source said that it is not right for anyone to tell what another country ought to do. There are certain power tussles and issues in Afghanistan and they are being sorted out. Afghanistan has changed a lot since the year 2000 and currently there is a whole new generation over there. It for the Afghans to chose who they would like to work with.
On the claims of the United States of America about a pull out from Afghanistan post Osama Bin Laden, the source said that the US may not pull out completely. There will be a draw down of forces and the search team of 30000 will be drawn down for the moment. The US sure wants a change of role in Afghanistan and in the months to come the policing by US forces on the streets of Afghanistan is likely to stop. They do not want to be protecting the streets and the nature of what they will be doing in Afghanistan will change. A clear picture will emerge once Hamid Karzai visits the United States of America probably next month.
On doing business in Africa, the official said that India has a smaller presence when compared to China. The nature of the business being done by us is different when compared to China. For us Africa is an opportunity and there is enough space for us to do what we are good at over here. Although the Chinese have a larger presence here, we cannot say that they have outdone us. It is in our interest to be in Africa. We need to understand the African sensitivities and we as Indians need to be sensitive. We have done well here in the past two years and the time has now come to accelerate.
However we in the Government will not be in a position to tell the businessmen what is to be done. It is their decision and what we could do is provide advisories and also give able assistance. We cannot take a call as what we want the businessmen to be doing.

Kar speaker may be sacrificial goat

Photo courtesy: The Hindu
The crisis in Karnataka appears to have blown over and the BJP government in the state appears to be happy that the report of the Governor has been rejected. However the Union government will be sending in an advisory to the Karnataka government with certain points.
Sources disclosed that the most important point in the advisory would be action against the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, K G Bopaiah. Sources in the Karnataka BJP however indicated that they would be ready to make that change so as to bring about a quietus to the issue. Moreover making this change as per the directive in the advisory would also mean that the BJP can step up the ante for the recall of the Governor, H R Bharadwaj.
The centre has sought this change following the recent verdict of the Supreme Court of India. The speaker had seven months back disqualified 16 MLAs of which 11 were BJP rebels and 5 independents. The timing of the disqualification was in question since it was done a couple of hours before the crucial trust vote that the BJP was seeking on the floor of the house. The matter was challenged before the High Court and when the MLAs failed to get relief they approached the Supreme Court which two weeks back reversed the order of the speaker. The rebels however made their peace with the BJP.
However the Governor immediaty shot off a reccomendation to the Government of India in which he proposed imposition of Presidents rule in Karnataka. The report was however rejected by the Government of India.
The Government now will be issuing an advisory with certain guidelines and also observations regarding the recent events in Karnataka. While most points would be advise and observations the main recommendation would be the change of the speaker.
Meanwhile the Governor who has been under immense pressure to conveve a session of the legislative assembly is likely to issue an order to that effect. Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa had sought for the convening of the session on June 2 but the governor had said that he would decide only once the government of India acted on his report. The BJP had launched a state wide protest pressurising the governor to conveve a session of the legislative assembly. The BJP has also decided to keep up the heat demanding the recall of Bharadwaj and hence will go ahead with a change of the speaker in order to strenghthen their case.

PM’s six-day African nations tour begins today

Photo courtesy: Money control
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will commence his five day tour of Africa from today onwards. In a statement issued at New Delhi the said that he will attend the Second Africa-India Forum Summit in Ethiopia and then pay a bilateral visit to Tanzania.
The first India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in 2008 opened a new chapter in the history of India-Africa partnership and laid the framework for our revitalised engagement with the African continent.
The India-Africa partnership rests on three pillars of capacity building and skill transfer, trade and infrastructure development. It is designed to respond to the needs and priorities of Africa and for India to learn from Africa’s rich experience. It is based on equality, mutual trust and a consultative and transparent approach. It is a living embodiment of South-South cooperation, the PM also said.
The Second Africa-India Forum Summit will be a landmark event that will for the first time bring together a large gathering of African leaders to meet with India on African soil. The theme of the Summit is ‘ South-South cooperation”.
Today, both Africa and India are on the move. Africa is emerging as a new growth pole of the world, while India is on a path of sustained and rapid economic development. Relations between India and Africa are marked by strong people-to-people interaction and a deep sense of solidarity and goodwill. Both Africa and India have the advantage of a youthful population, commitment to democracy, pluralism and spirit of entrepreneurship. The large population of people of Indian origin in all parts of Africa is a living testimony to our historical links.
These are compelling factors for a strong and purposeful partnership between India and Africa that responds to the realities of the 21st Century.
During his stay in Ethiopia, he will also hold a bilateral summit with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Most (un) wanted goof up

It was truly a case of egg on the face for India when it goofed up with the terror list sent to Pakistan. Lack of coordination, professional jealousy and lethargy are the root causes for such issues to crop up.

The primary cause being pointed out in this entire case is that the list was sent out mechanically and in the euphoria of trying to do an America on the Osama Bin Laden issue every agency including the government acted in haste.

Today the attitude of every agency is that of a defensive one. The police say that the list was sent out in the year 2010 and it had not been updated at New Delhi. The man at the Arthur Road jail was arrested in the year 2010 and the list was sent before that. Hence the people in New Delhi ought to have asked for an updated list. However this debate is countered by the Intelligence Bureau who say that the police could have sent an updated list as when there was a change in the status. The police department meanwhile is looking into the matter and at the moment there is no indication of any action, but the police chief would be looking to make some of these people accountable for the lethargy.

This issue has always been there says the Intelligence Bureau. Looking at the Interpol records put out by India, there has been a problem with that too. In most cases, the proof that has been supplied is just not enough for India to seek an extradition. Moreover there is also an issue that a person needs to be booked at least twice before one could seek his extradition.

A senior police official points out that the system acts in a horrific manner. There is a cell in the Central Bureau of Investigation at New Delhi which needs to update this list and for them to do so the local police need to keep them updated. This job is most of the time assigned to a constable who on most occasions fails to understand the seriousness of the matter. The police official also points out that for many officers the case of terrorism has become a prestigious issue and they always try and be one up on their counterparts. An IB official seconds this and says that the mentality of the police continues to remain local despite such a looming threat of terrorism which is a completely national issue. We know of cases where two officers in the same department and same state do not cooperate with each other. They have undertaken operations without each other’s knowledge and have even planted moles in each others departments to get the better of each other. Hence it is obvious that when one officer has information he is bound not to share with his colleague.

Such things must work systematically and the seriousness of the matter has to be realised at the local police station level itself. Each time there is an alert issued or a person has been nabbed the list has to updated immediately and an intimation sent to New Delhi. At New Delhi these persons must religiously update the list and not dangle on for even a day.

While the police tend to blame the IB for this goof up, the IB on the other hand say that their job is restricted to providing information and picking up intercepts. It is the police which has to update records and sometimes we do wish that they would treat this issue as a national problem. However the police counter this argument and point out that even the IB has a list with itself and it would do well too to keep gathering information and updating the list.

C D Sahay, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing says, “ I can only blame the system for this mess. There are certain things which every department is supposed to do and unfortunately these are things which no one does. On most occasions, a red corner alert is issued. Intimations trickle in and no one updates the latest information. Don’t speak only about the CBI, the local police stations too are to be blamed and trust me there cannot be any excuse for incompetence. The police should first stop treating such cases as routine. These are not routine petty theft cases and matters of routine criminal investigation and prosecution. These issues need to be monitored and dealt with in an aggressive manner and security of the state should be of paramount concern since these determine the main strategic approach in determining foreign policy.

Looking at this case, what I fail to understand is why we did not go through the list. We had an original most wanted list of 20. Those should have been revisited and the additions to the list should have been carefully weighed. Re-weighed and assessed. There cannot be a luxury of margin of error in such cases and especially not while dealing with Pakistan and that too on the issue of terror.

I would like to ask the government of India as to what the rush was. The government appears to have been driven by this intense desire to push an element of its agenda in the event of Osama’s death. There was a debate whether India could do an Osama and in this bid to do something similar India put out this list.

What have we got? We have come up a cropper and look like a bunch of nincompoops at the end of it. What makes matters worse is that instead of getting into damage control mode, the debate today has become fractured on political lines. Political entities have seen this as an opportunity to seek resignations. We have no other explanation or response other than seeking resignation.I don’t expect that the cabinet should resign but heads must roll and people must be made accountable in at least such matters.

Kanimozhi- the road ahead

For the Central Bureau of Investigation, the first hurdle has been crossed today in the Kanimozhi case. With the Special CBI court rejecting her bail plea, the interrogation of Kanimozhi will now commence in full swing and the CBI will be inching towards a closure of the chargesheet.

A CBI source said that they are aware that she will explore all other legal options, but the CBI is prepared with a strong case on hand. She has been named as a co-conspirator in the 2G scam case and after the rejection of her bail plea, she has been taken into custody by the CBI.

For the CBI it will now have certain key facts to establish through her interrogation. The bribe of Rs 200 crore, her association with Raja in this case and also the death of Sadiq Batcha in connection with this case. The CBI has not given out any specific time they would need to interrogate her. Taking into consideration the gravity and the magnitude of the case, it is important that there are at least 20 to 25 sittings. More importantly considering the profile of these accused persons, it is important that such people stay behind bars. Their reach is far and could tamper with evidence or even scare the witnesses which could prove fatal to the case.

The road ahead for Kanimozhi is not going to be easy. She has two sets of appeals in her kitty and it is up to her legal team to explore these options. First and foremost she could move the High Court and seek bail. However in the case of such high profile accused, they normally go up to the Supreme Court of India directly, another option which is available after the High Court option is exhausted. However in all likelihood, she may approach the High Court since she would not want to exhaust a legal option without even exploring it.

The judgments in such cases is also something that will not go in her favour. Since the foundation of this case lies on the Prevention of Corruption Act, it is highly unlikely that any of the courts would not go along with the order of the Special CBI court. The accused will apart from seeking bail will also seek a stay on the proceedings against her. However there are judgments which clearly state that no interference shall be there on part of the judicial system when a matter is under investigation. Take a look at Section 19(3) of the prevention of corruption act which has been upheld by the Supreme Court of India. It makes it clear that there shall be no stay on proceedings during investigation unless there are extraneous circumstances. Bail could be a possibility if she is able to prove that she is being wrongly harassed. Even if bail would be granted it would be based on heavy conditions such as not tampering with witnesses and also not to leave the jurisdictional police station limits.

However the argument that will be advanced by the CBI is that they have not acted in haste and with no case. There was ample time given before the arrest was carried out. The case has been built up step by step and only once they were sure did they reveal the name of the accused or even connect her with the case. In addition to this, the CBI will also argue that it is very important that she remains in custody since they would need her for interrogation. In addition to this, there is a chance of her absconding/tampering with evidence or even destroying it if she is let out on bail considering that she is a high profile accused in the case.

Governor Hatao, Karnataka Bachao

The Bharatiya Janata Party has set yet another deadline and this time they have given the Union Government five days time to recall the Governor of Karnataka, H R Bharadwaj. Launching a state wide campaign against the Governor, the BJP have termed this campaign as Governor Hatao, Karnataka Bachao.

Today Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa launched the agitation at the Mahathma Gandhi statue in Bangalore. He had said that the Governor ought to have decided on convening a session of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly by 5 PM on Thursday. However the Governor remained non committal and stated that he would act only once he gets a response from the President of India on his report recommending President’s rule in Karnataka.

The BJP has now constituted two teams to take forward this protest. The protest demanding the recall of the Governor will take place in 11 districts. The two teams have been constituted under the leadership of B S Yeddyurappa and state BJP chief, K S Eshwarappa. While Yeddyurappa will tour Raichur, Tumkur, Mangalore, Kolar, Eshwarappa will tour Mysore, Chitradurga, Bellary, Koppal, Bidar and Gulbarga.

During the agitation that was launched today, the BJP said that the Governor had triggered an unwanted political crisis in the state. He acts are constitutional, the BJP also alleged. He has not been acting on his own. His script is written in New Delhi and also has the blessings of the Janata Dal (S), the BJP further alleged.

Meanwhile the Congress from Karnataka will be meeting with the Prime Minister and submitting a memorandum to him seeking implementation of the Governor’s report.

Women MLAs- just 9 per cent

Looks like all political parties have thrown caution to the winds where 33 per cent reservation for women is concerned. Take cases of Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal which recently went to polls.
In spite of every party’s stated goal of 33% representation/reservation for women, the total number of women MLAs in the 5 new Assemblies has gone down from 80 in 2006 to 72 (i.e. 9% of all MLAs) in 2011, which is even below the total percentage of women MPs in the Lok Sabha (11%).
Out of the 824 newly elected MLAs, only 72 (9%) women MLAs in the 5 new Assemblies of Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.• Overall, the total number of women MLAs in these 5 Assemblies has reduced from 80 in 2006 to 72 in 2011.• Among all Assemblies, West Bengal has the highest number of women MLAs – 34 (12% of the Assembly). It is followed by Assam with 14 (11%) women MLAs, Tamil Nadu with 17 (7%) and Kerala with only 7 (5%) women MLAs• Puducherry Assembly does not have a single woman as MLA.•
Party-wise the highest number of women MLAs are from AITC – 24 (13%) followed by INC – 17 (10%) and AIADMK – 12 (8%).• A total of 19 (26%) women MLAs out of the total of 72 women MLAs are crorepatis.
The maximum number of crorepati women MLAs is from Tamil Nadu (9) followed by Assam (6) and West Bengal (4).• The top two highest asset women MLAs are Jayalalitha (AIADMK) from Tamil Nadu (51.4 crores) followed by Kasturi Das (AITC) from West Bengal (7.2 crores).•
13 women MLAs out of 72 (i.e. 18%) have pending criminal cases against them. Comparatively, 244 men MLAs out of a total of 752 (32%) have pending criminal cases against them.

Cong gets into the act now

The political situation in Karnataka is expected to be action packed tomorrow with the state Congress deciding to lead a delegation to the Prime Minister at New Delhi urging him to act on the report recommending President’s rule in Karnataka.
While the Congress would lead a delegation to New Delhi, the BJP on the other hand will launch a state wide agitation against the Governor of Karnataka, H R Bharadwaj. On Wednesday, the state Congress had blocked all highways in the state for one hour demanding that action be taken on the Governor’s report. The Governor had cited a constitutional break down in the state and sent a report to the centre recommending imposition of President’s rule.
While the centre appears to be dragging its feet on the report, the BJP met with the Governor, paraded their MLAs and also urged him to convene a legislative session on June 2. The governor had however stated that he would await a decision on his report before convening a session. The BJP had however set a deadline for the Governor to act and when he failed to convey any message, the BJP decided to agitate all through the state starting Friday.
The Congress meanwhile has demanded that the report of the Governor be implemented. All their MLAs would be in New Delhi tomorrow and meet with the Prime Minister and urge him to implement the report of the Governor.

Yeddi takes fight to the streets

With the Governor refusing to take any decision on the convening of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly Session, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has decided to up the ante. The first of the statewide agitations will commence atBangalorewith the Chief Minister leading a mammoth rally from the Gandhi statue near MG road.

The BJP has also conveyed this decision to all its cells in all districts of the state where similar rallies will be held.

Yeddyurappa who had met with the Governor on Wednesday had requested him to convene the session on June 2. However the Governor remained non responsive on the issue and only said that he would take a decision only once the President of India gives her opinion on his report in which he had recommended President’s rule in the state of Karanataka.

The BJP however was not in any mood to wait and said that the Governor will need to take a decision before 5 AM on Thursday failing which they would launch a major agitation against him all over the state.

Despite this announcement, the governor refused to take any decision and he continues to stick to his stand that he would await the decision of the President of India. In addition to this the Governor as of now has also decided to await the report of the Union Cabinet which is seized of his report recommending President’s rule in Karnataka.

The move to counter Jagan Mohan Reddy

Jagan vs Sonia- pic by

The Congress is not take the drubbing they got in the recent Kadapa by-polls at the hands of Jagan Mohan Reddy lying down. This in fact has acted as a blessing in disguise to all those who have been demanding a Telangana state and the indications are clear that come June and the Union Government may finally announce the formation of a separate state.

Recently at the meeting of the Congress MLAs and Ghulam Nabi Azad, this issue had come up for discussion and the MLAs appeared to be unanimous in their decision of granting a separate state. One of the MLAs who attended that meeting disclosed that Azad had taken a lot of interest in this movement and had asked more questions that one expected. The meeting which lasted a couple of hours first took stock of the Jagan victory and Azad was clearly told that his victories were going to spread considerably to the other parts of Andhra Pradesh.

The meeting also took note of the fact that Jagan’s chances in the Telangana are almost as good as nothing and hence the only option would be to counter him over there by granting a separate state. However Azad continued to ask several questions regarding the formation of Telangana. He asked what the implications of such a decision would be and what the reactions of the public would be. The MLAs told him clearly that it would be better to save one region than lose out on both since the future in the rest of Andhra Pradesh does not look too good for the time being. However the MLAs indicated that if Telangana was granted then the Congress would be credited for this and the chances in the forthcoming elections in that region would help the Congress a great deal. The MLAs also said that this was the only available option and the Congress could be in dire straits if it did not act.

Azad was also told that nothing could be done to prevent many MLAs from joining the Jagan camp and this would only mean that the situation would look bad in the coming days. They however told him that none of the MLAs from the Telangana region would ever join Jagan since they are well aware of his thoughts on Telangana. Jagan has remained non-committal and political experts point out that for all his clout and power the Telangana issue continues to remain his biggest draw back.The MLAs further said that no other experiment would be possible, but to hand over a separate state. During the meeting a tie up with the Telangana Rastriya Samithi was also discussed and the leaders indicated that it would be better if such an option is worked out since that is the only other party which can pose a threat to the Congress in Telangana.

Following this discussion came the crucial point and that was the fate of Kiran Kumar Reddy as Chief Minister. There is a dissidence against him within his party and many have already complained against him. Moreover the Chief Minister has never supported the movement for a separate state and neither has he done much to safeguard the Rayalseema and Andhra belts for the Congress.

Although Azad was non-committal about a change in the leadership, indications are clear that Reddy will not be able to continue once the Congress agrees for the formation of a separate state. Sources say that the high command may act against Reddy and appoint a more neutral candidate in his place. The name of B Sathyanarayana, a supporter of the Telangana movement is now doing the rounds to replace Reddy.

The Kadapa poll verdict has had its effects on almost all other parties. Even the Telegu Desam Party now realizes that it is time to play the Telangana card. The TDP however finds itself at a disadvantage when compared to the Congress since it does not have the power to make a decision. They will now up the ante for the movement and on 23rd its MLAs will take out a padayatra betweenHyderabad and Nalgunda in support of the movement.