Recent State elections are a tribute to our electorate. Voters turned out in large numbers and voted according to their own shrewd assessment of the party and the candidates. In UP,the voters did not fall for the bait of reservation for the Muslims nor to Mayawatis rhetoric about her concern for the Dalits. An interesting feature was the style and performance of two young men,Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi,potential national leaders. Rahul dealt with virtues of development and the bane of corruption and carried away by his rhetoric,dramatically tore up the manifesto of the Samajwadi Party. This smacked of insolence and was quite uncharacteristic of him. Rahuls visit to Dalit homes,eloquent support for the farmers cause and the photo-ops about talking to children during the campaign did not click with the electorate who perceived him essentially as an outsider and not one of their own. On the other hand,Akhilesh endeared himself to the people because of his unassuming amiable personality,touring the heartland of UP on a cycle,not helicopters,and his emphasis on development of the State rather than dwelling on the scams of the Mayawati regime and the shortcomings of other political parties. Akhilesh style struck a chord in the heart of the voters in UP who regarded him as one of their own,who understands their needs and problems and can best address them. At the end of the day,gher no ghoro (horse from ones own stable) matters most and home bred indigenous Akhilesh won the race.
Two Indian fishermen were shot dead from aboard an Italian oil tanker off the Kerala coast. Two Italian marines have been arrested in this connection in keeping with the law of the land. According to some media reports,the Prime Minister of Italy spoke to our Prime Minister and hinted about the likely adverse repercussions on the relations between the two countries if the Italian marines were tried in a criminal court in Kerala. The Prime Minister of Italy needs to be reminded that India is not a banana republic. Rule of law prevails in India and no person,however high or whatever his nationality,is above the law. The accused marines will have full opportunity to defend themselves in the trial which will be in the open court. Italian lawyers can certainly assist competent Indian lawyers who may be briefed to defend the accused. No doubt the accused whilst in police custody should not be subject to inhuman treatment. But they cannot be treated as a pampered lot. Actually,the Court has directed the prison authorities to provide the marines with special medical facilities,not to lodge them along with other prisoners and to allow them interaction with one Italian visitor a day for an hour and moreover they should be given Italian food,possibly from some star hotel in the State capital. I do not grudge this preferential treatment but doubt whether the same treatment would be accorded to a non-white accused from an African or Asiatic country. We have not rid ourselves of the gora complex.
Pakistans Supreme Court and PM Gilani
Pakistans Supreme Court is no longer prepared to countenance disobedience by Prime Minister Gilani of its orders to write to the Swiss authorities to revive the corruption cases against President Zardari which were closed pursuant to legislation passed by the Pakistan Parliament which was struck down by the Supreme Court. The Courts orders manifest its seriousness in tacking corruption in high places. If orders of the apex Court are flouted,rule of law is the inevitable casualty. It is hoped that good sense prevails and Prime Minister Gilani complies with the Supreme Courts directions thereby maintaining the majesty of law and authority of the Supreme Court and thereby also preclude the unpleasant consequences of fine or imprisonment for contempt of court. What is required is statesmanship. The Pakistan legal fraternity owes it to the nation to prevent the two institutions of the State on embarking on a collision course.