March 07, 2006

Another Leaf from the UPA Book of Dirty Politics

Political Gain by any means ?

When Lalu Yadav, the Minister for Railways, appointed the U.C.Banerjee Committee to look into the so-called technical aspects of fire in the bogie of Sabarmati Express at Godhra, it was clear that the smoke screen of the ‘technical inquiry’ was hiding a sinister objective of impairing, if not altogether sabotaging, the due process of law.

That this was indeed the purpose of the inquiry, was evident because of the fact that when it was set up, investigations were already being conducted by the law enforcing agencies whose job it was to do so in order to establish facts and take actions according to law as warranted. The Railway Administration itself had conducted its own investigations. The Justice Nanavati Commission was already conducting an inquiry into the overall situation of riots in Gujarat and the events leading up to the riots including the fire in Sabarmati Express.

In the light of these, no other conclusion could be reached about the objective of the Inquiry other than that presented before. A case was already filed in the Gujarat High Court questioning the appointment of the Committee and an interim order was passed by the Gujarat High Court at that time in this regard.

However, the U.C.Banerjee Committee proceeded with its work and had earlier made public its interim findings that were contrary to the findings of other investigations conducted in accordance with the due process of law. The timing of the announcement of the interim findings appeared to be politically opportune for the UPA partners.

But what clearly reveals the dirty tricks mind-set of the UPA is the timing of the final findings of the Report of the Banerjee Committee. Mr. Justice Banerjee went on record to say that he was asked to submit the final Report by 7th March, which he did, by submitting the same on 3rd March 2006. The date March 7 is significant as it coincides with the date of the hearing in the Gujarat High Court and is conveniently close to the forthcoming elections in certain States.

The Gujarat High Court rightly showed its displeasure that Mr. Justice Banerjee made the findings public even as the entire matter was being pursued as per legal process. The Gujarat High Court was also right in prohibiting any action on the Report, till the judgment in the matter before it.

It is, perhaps, just as well that Mr. Justice Banerjee chose to make his findings public on the 4th March prior to its tabling in the Parliament by the Railway Minister. Had the Report been tabled in Parliament, events would have taken another course. Perhaps, Mr. Justice Banerjee partly realized this and at the cost of attracting unfavorable comments from the Gujarat High Court, made the findings public, enabling the interim orders from the Court to prevent the tabling of the Report.

The UPA Government has consistently shown a liking for stooping low for cheap and temporary political gains. Unfortunately, the Left parties who are normally cautious, have, in this instance, fallen prey and jumped onto the Lalu wagon by supporting this patently mischievous action to derail the due process of law, for doubtful political gains. History will judge all those who play the politics of appeasement without realizing the consequences. As for Lalu, whatever praise he has earned due to his handling of his Ministry is likely to be lost because of his mindless action in handling of this issue. He is likely to cause his own wagon to derail.