Wasnik asked to explain Bihar poll debacle

Sonia Gandhi and Mukul Wasnik. Photo courtesy: The Tribune

Congress president Sonia Gandhi summoned party general secretary in charge of Bih

Wasnik asked to explain Bihar poll debacle

ar Mukul Wasnik and asked him to explain his position on the allegation that he had sough financial favours to allot seats in the Bihar elections where the congress got a drubbing.
This comes in the wake of the Bihar Congress members stepping up the attack against Wasnik who was Congress in charge of Bihar during the recent elections. The trouble for Wasnik began yesterday when BPCC members raised slogans when he took the dais.
The members who shouted slogans such as Wasnik chor hai today distributed thousand’s of pamphelts alleging that Wasnik had taken Rs 10 to Rs 30 lakhs to allot seats during the Bihar elections. They alleged that 142 of the 243 seats were sold to unfit candidates from outside and anti social elements. Though Wasnik was the main person in the eye of the storm the pampheltes todat named Ashok Kumar, Sagar Raitha and Imran Kidwai of also having ruining the parties chances in the elections.
Now the agitating leaders are planning to meet the top leadership under the banner of Bihar Congress Bachao Sangharsh Morcha. The PCC and AICC members from Bihar will also meet Sonia Gandhi and raise this issue. They will demand for action against these leaders apart from seeking a CBI probe against these leaders.

The Congress leaders from Bihar present at the plenary wondered if factionalism had a role to play in the release of the pamphlets and said that these persons mentioned above ruined the name of Rahul Gandhi in the state.

TMC to review alliance after Cong remarks

Photo courtesy: http://rahulgandhirajivsoniagandhi.blogspot.com

The statements of Deepa Dashmunshi, wife of Priyaranjan Dasnunshi have not gone down too well with the TMC and the party leadership will meet at 4 PM today to look into her comments regarding the alliance.

Sources said that the TMC will look into the statements and may reconsider allying with the congress for the forthcoming West Bengal elections. The party leaders have expressed hope of a comprehensive victory in the state elections without the Congress. Some of the leaders say that they are not the junior ally in West Bengal like in the UPA and they are capable of going it alone and sweeping the polls. The leaders felt that Deepas comments were unwarranted. They wonder if Deepas statements were her own or did it have the sanction of the leadership.

Deepa had said yesterday that TMC is part of the UPA government and yet it issues statements against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and government policies and Mamata Bannerjee puts no photos of PM or Sonia Gandhi when she inaugurates projects in West Bengal.

She added that the Congress should not have a tie-up in which there is no faith or confidence and in any case not give TMC the seats where the Congress is strong or has a sitting MLA. Her comments came soon after Manic Tagore’s comments on which he sought a review of the alliance with the DMK.

Meanwhile the Congress leaders at the plenary are reviewing whether such statements are warranted ahead of crucial assembly elections. They say that the party leadership should not blindly threaten the allies and important forces such as the TMC can be done away with.

‘The Prime Minister should be above suspicion’

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at AICC. Photo courtesy: Indian Express

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said that a Prime Minister should be above suspicion and he is ready to appear before the PAC even though there is no precedent to do so. Speaking at the AICC plenary, Dr Singh said that this plenary is being held in the midst of several scams and fingers being pointed at the government.

My government is committed to wiping out corruption. Pointing to the 2G scam he said that he is ready to write to the PAC and tell them that he would be ready to appear before it if the need be.
The PM assured that his government will take seriously the five point agenda laid down by Sonia Gandhi to eradicate corruption.
Explaining that there is no need for a JPC, he rubbished the allegations by the BJP that the UPA was avoiding this as a cover up measure. He said that the moment the CAG submitted the report on the 2G scam the minister concerned stepped down. The report has now been sent to the PAC. All aspects of the 2g scam are being probed and the PAC has all the powers of a JPC. The CBI is also looking into the issue ubnder the supervision of the supreme court.
The government is obligated to act on the PAC report and let the country be rest assured that we will act.

I have nothing to hide from the public and no person be it a minister, officer will be spared if found guilty. If there are short comings we will act and I seek your support for the same.
We wanted to discuss these issues in Parliament and were open to debate but the same opposition which cannot remove its own corrupt CMs did not allow parliament to function. On the other hand the Congress has removed leaders who have allegations of coRruption against them when charges were not proven.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh speaking at the AICC plenary said that despite tensions with Pakistan India wishes them well. We are committed to hacing better relations with Pakistan, but that could happen only if Pakistan didn’t allow its borders for terrorism against India.
The PM said that the South Asian countries should not fight against each other but work together to eradicate poverty, unemployment and other issues.
After the 26/11 attacks we have taken a lot of steps to enhance security. Our security apparatus has improved and our intelliegence gatjering and sharing has improved. However the blasts ay Varanasi and Pune have shown us that terrorism is a long drawn battle and we need to be vigilant at all times.

On the naxal issue the PM said that we need to rise above politics anbd work with state governments. Let the country be assured that my government is giving all support to the state governments to combat this problem. We need to look deep into this issue and I am confident that the problem will be solved. We will suceed on this issue he also said.
Our relations with the international community is growing. India is a very important country and in the days to come the importance of our country will only grow further. We share a great relation with Russia and this alliance will continue. Our relations with the United Tstaes is also growing and this is a very important relationship. On China the PM said that the relations are good, but there are certain issues and I am hopeful of sorting these issues.

Will the Cong-DMK alliance survive 2G scam?

Nothing to laugh anymore. Photo courtesy: Business Line

Cracks in the Congress-DMK alliance were evident at the AICC plenary session in New Delhi with a series of back door meetings being held in this regard.
An emergency meeting comprising Sonia Gandhi, P Chidambaram and PCC chief Tangabalu was held back stage where the DMK issue was discussed. In addition to this some of the Tamil Nadu leaders sought clarity on the issue and said that there is a need to distance themselves from the DMK since they felt that the association was tarnishing the image of the party. They also complained that questions were being asked and some of them found themselves in an embarassing position.
The ball was however set rolling when  Manicka Tagore, MP from Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu warned that it would not be right to blindly accept the DMK alliance.
Sources said that during the meeting last night in Delhi it was said that some Congress leaders were apprehensive about continuing an alliance with the DMK in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam which specifically had the names of DMK leaders A Raja and kanimozhi. The Congress feels that the people have started asking questions about the alliance and the image of the party should not be allowed to suffer due to one alliance from one state.
The meeting also discussed the recent observations by the Supreme court of India on the 2G scam. The leaders said that there is a need to protect the image of the Prime Minister and hence the party should distance itself from the DMK. However some leaders including Tangabalu were not in favour of immediately snapping ties with the DMK and said that there was already a move within the DMK to drop Kanimozhi and Raja. They felt that it would be better to wait for the DMK to act on its own rather than the Congress acting on its own.
However the DMK is a divided house over this issue. While a section of the DMK feels that they should drop the two scam tainted leaders, there is resistence from the supremo Karunanidhi over this issue.

The Congress resolution

Photo courtesy: Reuters

Seeking to defend the comments made by Rahul Gandhi on saffron terror, the Congres at its plenary session in New Delhi resolved to call upon the government to tackle this menace in the strongest possible manner and investigate links between terrorists and the RSS and its sister organizations that have been uncovered in recent cases.

Slamming the Left parties, the Congress in its resolution passed in the party’s 83rd plenary, said that “in states like West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, the Congress emphatically rejects all attempts to perpetrate a cycle of violence for political or electoral advantage.”

“The party is alarmed by the increased attempts to control and capture areas and zones by violent means and intimidation. Politics based on ‘capture’ and ‘recapture’ of areas and attempts to create safe zones by violence and intimidation must be defeated,” the party said in its resolution.

Then, turning its attention to the BJP, the Congress said the party has been brazen in its attitude towards corruption, both at the centre and state.

“After the shameful findings of the KArgil scam and taped revelations of murky purchases, putting national security at risk and bringing shame to the country, the BJP refused to act and in fact rehabilitated the then defence minister before even te completion of inquiry,” it said.

It said the BJP had a history of double standards on corruption involving “senior most leadership and occupants of highest offices including chief minister and ministers.”

In protecting the Karnataka chief minister and others accused of plundering national resources, the BJP and the CPI-M have “demonstrated their moral bankruptcy and political hypocrisy,” the party said.

“The BJP has unleashed a flood of corruption in the political arena just to grab power,” the resolution said, slamming the opposition party for giving an “open call to other parties’ MLAs to cross the floor. “Various methods have been adopted to defeat the very purpose of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution on anti-defection,” it said.

The Congress also slammed BJP’s parent organization, the RSS.

“The very basis of secularism is threatened by the ideology of the BJP and its affiliate organizations like the RSS, which spreads hatred and violence. The RSS and VHP are insidious in their efforts to break India.

Taking a dig at the Congress biggest nemesis Narendra Modi, the resolution said: “The BJP, RSS and the VHP continue to hide their prejudice and atrocities committed by them behind the rhetoric of economic progress and pseudo-nationalism. WE cannot be indifferent to the plight of our fellow citizens in Gujarat who have suffered untold misery. The Congress urges the government to relentlessly prosecute all those responsible for the unforgiveable genocide that occurred in large parts of Gujarat in 2002.”

It also Continued its attack on the BJP and said that the Ayodhya verdict in no way condoned the demotion of the Babri Masjid which was “shameful” and called for the perpertaros of the crime to be brought to justice.

Asking workers and leaders to identify and address regional issues, the party said: “We have been in the opposition in certain states for a very long time. And this has meant a shift in power dynamics on the ground where our party workers are demoralized.”

The reseloution of the Congress passed at the plenary deals with
several points ranging from the Ayodhya verdict Internal security,
Jammu and Kashmir and combating communcal forces among others.

Internal Security: Terrorism, insurgency and left wing extremism are
grave threats and the Prime Minister has spelt out the government’s
policy. Though law and order is a state subject it is necessary to
ensure sustained coordination between the centre and the states both
in matters of overall strategy.
In dealing with left wing extremism we must combine firm action to
restore civilian administration with a surge in people oriented and
environment friendly development activity. Developmental work at the
grass root level should fall within the domain of the tribal
communities and a special legislation needs to be enacted on this
behalf.
The role of religious fundamentalist organizations in challenging the security of the nation can no longer be ignored. The congres call upon
the government to tackle this menace in the strongest possible manner
and investigate links between terrorists and the RSS and its sister
organizations that have been uncovered in recent cases. Terrorism from
wherever it comes and whatever form it takes must be dealt with
firmly.
Since police and law and order are state subjects, state police forces
need to be strengthened. Police reforms are imperative and there is
already a blue print for such reforms.
Ayodhya:

We must await the final verdict of the Supreme Court and all
members of the party should strain every nerve to heal the wounds
caused by communal disturbances and promote the values of secularism.
The Liberhan commission report is now in the hands of the people and
the party urges the government to act expeditiously on the findings of
the commission.

Political mandate:

The BJP has led the disruption of the 6th session
of the Lok Sabha in complete disregard of their duty under the
constitution. This does not speak well of our mature democracy. The
congress urges the people to understand the malicious designs of the
opposition parties.
Vested political interests seek to malign our institutions and the
office of the Prime Minister will not allow them to be denigrated by
anyone. In states like West Bengal,. Kerala and Tripura the Congress
emphatically rejects all attempts to perpertrate a cycle of violence
for political or electoral advantage by political parties.

Congress resurgence:

We have been in opposition in certain states for a
long period and this has meant a shift in the power dynamics on the
ground where our party workers are demoralized. Every Congres worker
and state party unit has a responsibility to strenghthen the
organizational base of the party.

Securing minority rights: The party is committed to discharging its
responsibilities towards the welfare of the minorities. We are happy
that the recommendations of the Justice Sachar Commission are under
implementation.

The party also passed reseloutions in respect to women’s empowerment,
Panchayat Raj, Youth and education.


Rahul doesnt leak anything at plenary

Out from her shadow? Photo courtesy: The Hindu

The much awaited Rahul Gandhi speech passed off without a single line being mentioned about his saffron terror remark to the United States or the scams the UPA government has been accused of.
Sidestepping the corruption issue, he said that the Congress president Sonia Gandhi has spoken in detail about it and something needs to be done about it. The only highlight of his speech was his definitoon of the aam admi or common man. ‘ Aam admi in India is someone who does not have a connection with the system irrespective of his religion, whether he is poor or rich and educated or not. He said it could be a tribal in Niyamgiri, dalit boy in Jharkhand who is made to sit in the last bench, a widow in Vidharbha, a farmer in Aligarh who does not get the right price for his crop, a professional in Bangalore who doesn’t get admission in a good school and a professor in the North East who does not get a job as he doesn’t have the right connections. He said that thus instead of being just common he is actually unique.
However Rahul was clearly the favourite and drew loud applause from the crowd. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who had left the dais returned just in time for Rahul’ speech. His mother Sonia Gandhi watched on proudly as her son spoke. She smiled and applauded quite often as Rahul spoke.

Yeddi takes over Modi

B S Yeddyurappa. Photo courtesy: Topnews

The Congress has moved from Modi bashing to Yeddi bashing. B S Yeddyurappa was the most chanted name at the ongoing Congress plenary session at New Delhi. Digs were taken against the Karnataka Chief Minister by every speaker at the plenary accusing him of being the most corrupt chief minister in India.
The attack started with Congress supermo Sonia Gandhi who accused the BJP of not having the guts of removing him despite so many charges of corruption against him. The earlier sessions of the Congress saw a series of attacks against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. However day one of the plenary was surprisingly silent about Modi and decided to target Yeddi.
The attack against Yeddi was consistent. Members from West Bengal, Tripura, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat all targetted the Karnataka CM. They quoted their parties decision which removed Ashok Chavan and asked Raja to step down when charges were not established. However when it comes to Yeddyurappa the BJP refuses to act. They said that the BJP had no right to hurl allegations of corruption against the Congress when they themselves refused to act. In addition to this they also attacked the Reddy brothers of Karnataka for large scale illegal mining.

Sonia puts onus on BJP

Congress President Sonia Gandhi at AICC meet. Photo courtesy: The Hindu

Congress supermo Sonia Gandhi speaking at the plenary session of the AICC dared the BJP to take actoon against its leaders involved in corruption. Attacking the BJP for not acting against Karnataka 0chief Minister B S yeddyurappa who is facing corruption charges she dared the BJP to act against him.
Sonia who spoke for nearly an hour being interupted by applause from her party workers said that her party was committed to eradicating corruption. The congress is the only party which has removed 0chief Ministers and ministers facing allegation of corruption even when the charge has not been proved as yet. She said that the BJP must follow the same instead of accusing the congress of inaction.
Corruption is a disease and needs to be wiped out. The party will give precedence to wiping out corruption. Whistle blowers must be protected and encouraged since these are the people who help ending this menace. Let no one think that the congress will shield the coRrupt and the opposition should not live under that illusion. She said that her party has made a statement on corruption by acting on it unlike the others who just talk about it.
Sonia however did not make any specific referrences to either the 2g or adarsh scam and kept the topic of corruption general.
On the Bihar fiasco, sonia said that this was a wake up call. There is work needed from the grass root levels and there is no short cut to success. All party workers should bear this in mind.
On the issue of terrorism she said that there is a need to understand the problem. Apart from giving support to the forces there is also a need for political will to counter this problem. We need to introspect what is happening in Jammu and kashmir and see why the youth are being misguided. There is a need to find a saolutuion here and the government is committed to it.
She also made brief remarks about the varanasi blasts and the naxal problem and said that going into the root of the problem will help sort this issue out.

Indian Mujahideen-the hunt continues

 

Varanasi blast site. Photo courtesy: BBC

The Varanasi blast was a rude wake up call for the country as a whole and security agencies in particular. The belief that the dirty Indian Mujahideen was dead was proven wrong and this blast proved to all of us that this outfit is very much alive and is trying to breathe more life into it.

Reviewing the investigations more than a week after the incident took place, it becomes clear that all agencies have with them is the names of the mastermind. After ascertaining that it was the Indian Mujahideen that in fact carried out the attack, the police were on the trail of the men who planted the bombs. Sources tell rediff.com that the men or the foot soldiers who planted the bombs were migrant workers and they have managed to flee the country. We have alerted our counterparts in Bangladesh who are on the look out for these men. Investigating agencies suspect that in all there may have been three men on the ground who carried out the job. After planting the bomb, they have managed to flee the place and could have crossed over to Bangladesh. There is also a suspicion that one of these men could be in West Bengal and the police over there have been alerted about the same.

Meanwhile the Indian agencies have drawn out a list of 31 men of which 19 still form part of the Indian Mujahideen. The issue however is that these men are not in the country and most of them are in Sharjah, Dubai while some of them are in Pakistan. The names of Dr Shahnawaz, Asadullah Akthar, Mohammad Sajid, Khalid, the Bhatkal brothers among others figure in this list. However the names that have been mentioned are the men who India need to worry about. These men are constantly working out plans to re-organise the Indian Mujahideen and nabbing them becomes a priority.

Indian Intelligence agencies say that getting the Bhatkal brothers out of Pakistan is a hard job, but the rest of them who are in places such as Sharjah, Dubai and Oman could be extradited due to friendly ties with these nations.

Meanwhile the radar of the Intelligence Bureau has increased on places such as Azamgarh and Bhatkal. The big names of the IM originally hailed from these places and the agencies are looking to pick up some of the men who are closely associated with these persons. The IB says that there has been a lot of movement in these places and there are plenty of disgruntled youth who are ready to take up arms at any time. They feel wronged by certain incidents and they feel that they should take revenge. The top bosses of the IM are well aware of this and will look to tap these men to fight for them and cause destruction in India.

In addition to this the cops are also on the money trail which helped carry out these blasts.The IM was worried that due to its falling strength it may find it difficult to coax financers and sympathisers to cough up money for their operations. Investigations have revealed that the IM did make a few extortion calls to businessmen in Kolkata to extort money from them. This part of the probe will be handled by the NIA and based on the inputs they have received from the police they will go ahead and probe and also question the businessmen who have been complaining of extortion calls.

In the past the IM had demanded from businessmen money to the tune of Rs 30 crores. Some have complained about this, but there may be many who have given in, the police say. The police say that these extortion calls have mainly been made from Pakistan. The police suspect that the calls may have been made by Amir Raza Khan and his aide Khaiyam who are both operatives of the IM and are based in Pakistan. The NIA will look into this aspect and the investigations in this regard will be extremely crucial since to bust any terror network it is important to know the money trail.

Terror funding from the Gulf

 

The revealations by WikiLeaks regarding funding for terrorism by Gulf nations is something that has been often discussed by security agencies and this factor has also figured in the interrogation reports of various terror suspects who have been nabbed in India. This revelation yet again gains prominence in the wake of the Varanasi blast which investigating agencies have managed to establish was launched from the Gulf. Today they are also studying the manner in which prime suspects Dr. Shahnawaz and Asadullah Akthar based in Sharjah had raised funds for the attack.

Intelligence bureau officials have constantly pointed out several times in the past regarding the nexus between terrorist groups and financing from Gulf nations. Post 9/11, there were several reports that indicated that a majority of the funding for that operation came from the Gulf and one of the main conspirators of that attack, Yusuf Ramzi had managed to extract money from sympathisers in the gulf for that operation.

The real big funding from the Gulf for terror operations in India came to light in the aftermath of the train bombings of 2006. During the course of the investigation an subsequent raids that were conducted the police managed to seize 37000 Saudi riyals from Faizal At-a-ur Rehman who ran a major cell for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba in Mumbai.

A major part of the terror financing for operations in India were either covered by the drug mafia being run by Dawood Ibrahim or the money raised through fake currency. However the ISI felt that they needed to make good use of the money that was available in Saudi Arabia for terror operations since it was easier to raise money through this channel.

If one looks at all the operations carried out by the Indian Mujahideen and the investigations that have followed, it becomes clear that all their operations were funded by businessmen from the Gulf. The Intelligence Bureau says that there is no real check for money transfer in those countries and it is easy for them to raise funds and transfer it through a hawala network into India. Members of the IM such as the Bhatkal brothers were posted in the Gulf for a considerable period of time to raise money for terror operations. They have managed to set up a full-fledged base in these countries and there are persons specifically to carry out the funding operations.

According to intelligence reports, these operatives relied heavily on an already existing network of the Lashkar. They contacted businessmen who were sympathetic towards their cause who in turn readily agreed to fund them. When the ISI instructed the Indian Mujahideen to operate out of the Gulf, they were also specifically told to move funds into Kerala since there was a lot of movement of people between these two places. If one looks at the manner in which the funds have been transferred in the recent years it becomes clear that all the funds have been moved into Kerala and then moved to the rest of the country. Normally these operatives use the migrating working class to transfer money. HOwever they are not afraid to carry out a bank transaction since it is very difficult to trace since it looks like a legitimate transaction. The IB says that there is not too much monitoring in the Gulf and this is the exact concern that even the US had raised post 9/11. The money is collected in the name of charity under the banner of a fake organization. Unless there is stringent policing it would become very difficult to monitor such a transaction.

Going deeper into the financial transactions from the Gulf, Indian investigators have zeroed on three crucial persons who have made this job look so easy. Shameem, Basheer and Haroon are the three men who have made a difference to the terror groups in setting up the financial network in the Gulf.

Shameem is the man who acted as a bridge between the Lashkar and the IM in the Gulf. He is the one who in the first place taught the IM operatives the art of collecting funds for terror operations apart from introducing these operatives to prospective businessmen in the Gulf from whom money could be collected. Basheer also a Pakistani based in Muscat was also in charge of coordinating with the cadres in raising funds. Haroon who was a travel agent played a very important role in transferring the money. He legalized the money and transacted through valid accounts to ensure that the money reached India.

The network set up by these men and the money raised through the businessmen in the Gulf was used by the Indian Mujahideen for the first time when they carried out blasts in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Surat.

It was the Mumbai police which first got whiff of this link and traced the funds back to the Gulf. The police had then said that the money was raised in the Gulf and then transferred to Ernakulam in Kerala. It also became clear that these groups had used the banner Gujarat Muslim Revenge Force to raise this money. The Gujarat issue is a pretty emotive one like the Babri Masjid issue and they manage to collect funds with ease while quoting these two incidents.

Indian security agencies say that it has been rightly pointed out that the Gulf continues to be a happy hunting ground for terrorists at least in terms of finance. The laws over there to counter a hawala transaction of money laundering for so called charity continues not to be up to the mark. The IB points out that even the recent Varanasi bombing was funded through Gulf money and this goes on to show that the network is still active and financing continues unabated.

Stephen Tankel, author of the book, Lashkar-e-Taiba, From 9/11 to Mumbai also pointed out in a recent interview that the Lashkar which is the richest Pakistani militant group raises significant amounts of money from the Gulf.