Friday, July 23, 2010

Amit Shah: Who’s this ??

Amit Shah's fall has dented his boss Narendra Modi's eligibility to some day lead non-Congress centrist parties at the Centre. The Ahmedabad based leader has been handling senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani's elections year after year in Gandhinagar constituency. He is an important member of Chief Minister Narendra Modi's core group. He is one of the important people who helped Narendra Modi build his image as a strong politician after he became chief minister in 2001. He has been given credit for the prevention of any major bomb blasts in Gujarat. He is, obviously, a shrewd politician. But his ability to read the intractable Indian voter's mind successfully is what has made the difference for his and his party's political fortunes in Ahmedabad. He is a 24/7 politician. Other than talking for ten minutes or so everyday to his recently deceased mother whom he revered passionately, he played politics -- sometimes dangerously -- round the clock. Grassroots politician and ace manipulator of people and events, Shah, 46, is now disgraced. With the Central Bureau of Investigation filing a chargesheet against him, he will now have to defend himself for a lifetime, both inside and outside the court.

There is not an iota of doubt in the minds of political observers that the Congress party has orchestrated the event from behind the scenes. No doubt the CBI is under the shadow of the central government. Despite this, Shah and the BJP do not have any convincing argument to claim that the case, now known as the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, is a political humbug. But, the most shocking thing for his supporters is that today it is not Hindutva or his so-called communal action that is under the scanner. Shah is branded as a murderer and extortionist today. There are some 20 evidences against him in the chargesheet and some are likely to stand in a court of law. There are some businessmen who have given evidence that Shah demanded money from them after the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin. Some businessmen have alleged that Shah told them that during the police inquiry into Sohrabuddin's activities, their names were linked with his operations. They allege that they paid Shah to remain out of the investigation. Also, how the police murdered Sohrabuddin's wife Kausarbi with the help of poisonous injection is shocking, if true. Details ranging from the medical shop where the poison was bought to how her body was disposed is now documented in the chargesheet. The weakest link in the BJP's arguments is that a large part of the investigation of the Sohrabuddin case was conducted by Gujarat cadre police officer Geeta Johari, who was sidelined by Shah. Shah had been accused of transferring police officers who were not conducive to him. He was also micro-managing the ministry. People have often seen him talking to junior police officers.

In 2006, Johri, on the instructions of the then director general of police P C Pande, formed a team and sent it to Hyderabad and other places to investigate how Sohrabuddin was killed. The Supreme Court had ordered the DGP to conduct an inquiry. She build the case and before Shah could influence the probe she sent it directly to Supreme Court. Till then, Shah was not within the ambit of the investigation. Later, activists alleged that Shah favoured Johri and she allegedly tried to change the track of the investigation. Only then was the case given to the CBI. Johri was made the commissioner of Rajkot.

The turning point came for Shah when, under legal advice from senior lawyers, the Gujarat government accepted before the Supreme Court that the Sohrabuddin encounter was fake. It was unprecedented. From that day, none of Modi's and Shah's political strategy seems to work. Some believe that Shah and Modi might have thought that the matter would end with the acceptance of 'guilt' and the Sohrabuddin chapter would be closed after the arrest of few officers. Shah's calculation must have been that he had absolute power under Modi's rule. He found all the organs of democracy in New Delhi biased and anti-Modi. His arrogance due to political success and his miscalculation about the functioning of bureaucracy and the police force during a crisis has proved to be wrong.

He underestimated the power of men and women in khaki and his total lack of judgment about the Supreme Court's influence over the cases before it has led him to his fall. Unfortunately, this case will neither deter the men in khaki from misbehaving nor make people like Shah understand that there is nothing above upholding constitutional propriety in independent India. This case doesn't seem to send a correct signal because today's India is divided. There are a large number of Indians today who oppose the cruel and totally unacceptable murders of Sohrabuddin, Kausarbi and Tulsi Prajapati but don't want to question the killing of Maoists in a suspicious manner by the security forces.

In the end, the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case has turned into an ugly war between the Congress and the BJP. At the end of the day, with Shah's fall, his boss Modi's eligibility to some day lead non-Congress centrist parties at the Centre has shrunk. Here lies the real win for the Congress, as this will play as an advantage for its future leadership. It is the saddest moment for the country that the proven fake encounter case will remain more political and less about the principles of upholding the ethos of the Indian Constitution, which doesn't give men in khaki any power to kidnap and kill a good, bad or ugly Indian.


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