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Criticism of Ajit Kumar Doval's appointment as National Security Advisor has led to a dangerous new propaganda initiated by Modi supporters. They claim that Doval had to create Chhota Rajan to counter Dawood Ibrahim creating some kind of romantic fiction of the flawed hero who steps over to the dark side for a good cause. Sells his soul so that yours may remain in tact, etc. This couldn't be further from the truth. Chhota Rajan isn't a creation of India's intelligence agencies, he's a gangster and a one time crony of Dawood Ibrahim who became a rival. Dawood Ibrahim became untouchable after the Mumbai blasts, but had merry patronage of politicians as well, including the oh-so-patriotic Shiv Sena (remember the others who got guns from the same source, though Sanjay Dutt alone got arrested for it?).

Gang rivalry led to intel on rivals to security agencies, not patriotism. Chhota Rajan wasn't exactly going to volunteer and die when Dawood's men attacked him if Dawood had been a patriotic gangster. Nor did IB exploiting the rivalry for law enforcement mean that the side that got used was somehow noble. We are talking extortion rackets, bloody gun battles, smuggling, extortion, drug trade, kidnapping, murders and more signature characteristics of Mumbai's underworld, not a Hindi film script, though those too are known to be sponsored by gangsters. Perhaps film producers are patriotic in accepting black money too.

Here is a quick reminder of what is getting glamorized and whitewashed into BJP's invented war of good gangster and evil gangster - it is as fake as "good Taliban and bad Taliban".

There is no such thing.

The Dark Face of Mumbai

By Prabhat Sharan

25 October, 2010
The Verdict Weekly

Blood stained brown gold and mean streets of Mumbai housing mafia and Mumbai underworld

It was business as usual in the infamous Kamathipura lane - prostitutes were busy preparing for the long night that laid ahead, the pimps were luring customers to the buildings, and the lanes thronged with people on sundry errands. On that June evening Kamathipura had an unusual visitor: Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Prem Kumar Sharma and his family, who had come to celebrate his daughter’s success at the intermediate examination with a dinner at the famous Delhi Durbar restaurant.

Scarcely had Sharma got down from the car that the waiting assailants pumped bullets into him. The din of the street drowned out the pistol shots, and it was only after his wife and daughter started screaming hysterically that the passers-by came to the rescue of the family. By then it was already too late: the BJP MLA was dead and the assailants had escaped in the ensuing confusion. Subsequent police investigations traced the cause of the murder to dubious land deals in south-central Mumbai. The murder shook the city, even as the police after the serial bomb blasts had claimed to have broken the spine of the criminal syndicates. This was in 1993.

Three years later in April, the picture of respectability that the Kukrejas had created for themselves was suddenly torn apart, much to the dismay and bewilderment of the real estate developers in Mumbai. On that hot sultry afternoon the tinted glass walls of the Kukrejas’ Chembur office in north-east Mumbai was spattered with blood as three visitors took out their guns and sprayed a sleeping Om Prakash Kukreja with bullets.

Om Prakash had only joined the elite circle of real estate developers and builders, men who fashion their dreams in steel and cement, raising skyscrapers to accommodate a growing population and pocketing millions in the process. The killing of Om Prakash Kukreja did indeed send a ripple of shock in the city.

Eight years later: Land developer and builder - Suresh Wadhwa in the rain drenched satellite town Navi Mumbai was sitting in his office and three persons sauntered in his office and saturated his plush office walls with bullet holes. Wadhwa escaped by ducking under his mahogany table. After a long respite, the builders lobby has once again been shocked out of its stupor. The down in the dumps real estate business, is once more looking up optimistically and the organised criminal syndicates ever on a lookout has slowly started uncoiling its tentacles once more in the city. But despite the shock waves unleashed by a series of attacks on developers in the city coupled with a grim realisation that very soon they are going to be the main targets the business goes on as usual for the developers. And why not?

Mumbai is a city where the land is scarce, the resources unlimited, the greed simply insatiable - a few dead bodies is considered worth the money raked in by those involved in land grabbing and illegal constructions - both in and around the city.

However, transgressions of laws means the network must be spread far and wide. Unscrupulous real estate developers could only work in the shadow of the gun, and the link with the underworld was gradually formed. Soon the dividing line between the two became blurred. They needed protection from the police and politicians were drafted in, obviously in exchange for a substantial cut.

It was sooner or later bound to blow up in the face of the politician. And it did with the alleged murder of Ramesh Kini whose dead body was left behind in an empty cinema hall. A wailing widow’s allegation of foul play saw the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) pick up Bal Thackeray’s nephew, Raj Thackeray, for questioning. The show in the city of dreams had truly begun.

The one worrisome question perpetually dogging those sloshed with slush funds is: Where and how to launder the ill-gotten wealth so as to convert black into white? Export-import businesses and films are the obvious avenues. The films with their overseas rights, during the late nineties and early 21st century cleaned a substantial chunk of tainted money, which saw the film stars and film producers grabbing headlines not for their celluloid impact but for their links with criminal syndicates.

However, both films as well as import-export businesses simply lack the one unique property real estate in Mumbai boasts of - the losses are rare and minimum, and the initial investment multiplies at an astonishing rate, every year, even during the economic crashes.

This factor saw the convergence of interests of both the criminal syndicates and the real estate developers, and the connection forged between the two in the Fifties and Sixties gradually tilted in favour of the city’s dreaded gangsters. In the Eighties, the new generation of criminals began to use their formidable muscle power to grab prime plots of land for themselves. This had two distinct advantages: Not could they launder money profitably but also sport the veneer of ‘respectable’ land developers.

Earlier, in the Fifties and Sixties, smugglers like Walcott, Gawandi Ram, Gafoor Supariwalla, Ibrahim Patel, Haji Mastan, and Sukur Narain Bakhia had a profile and lifestyle completely different from their ambitious successors of today. They were swashbuckling adventurers who lived their lives, as if there was no tomorrow. Their dreams had limits, their desire for wealth a certain proportion.

But soon the situation changed rapidly: The world of crime became more organised, the technology of killing more sophisticated and modern, the structure of the underworld decidedly more corporate and the inter-gang relationship chillingly more interpersonal. They were now eager to compete and, as it is true of the corporate world, each perceived the other as potential rival. More significantly, the crime syndicates were prowling about the bustling city in search of new and profitable ventures.

Paucity of land goaded the syndicates into eyeing the Congress Government’s decision to reclaim Backbay, and the nexus between gang leaders and the political class soon came to the fore. The then Opposition leader Mrinal Gore moved the court against the VP Naik Government’s proposal to sell plots in Backbay at a price in excess of the prevailing market rates. Gore won the case, but lost the war, the politicians and gangsters were now willing to strike a deal.

The hegemony of the Congress obviously meant the Congressmen had the largest share of the booty. But the Shiv Sena, hitherto lagging behind was taking a different route: it decided to exploit the grassroots terrorism and fight the civic elections to control the bureaucracy. And it did this with enviable success.

The nexus between the political class and the criminal syndicates changed the profile of land developers and builders. The pipe-smoking real estate speculators and developers were replaced by a new crop of builders like Lokhandwala, Raheja, Dr Maker and Rizvi. To this list could be added the names of dreaded smugglers like Umar Malbari, Manu Narang, Gafoor and Ibrahim Supariwalla.

These men had only one thing in common - political patronage. If Dr Maker had the support of the Congress, then Yusuf Patel, Manu Narang, Gafoor Supariwalla could bank on Rajni Patel. Thus, both the political class and the underworld were neatly split, every camp attempting to carve out its own turf and guard it zealously against poaching. This laid the foundation for a gang war that was to shake the city more than a decade later.

The syndicate entered the arena dramatically. On a wintry December night of 1979, the congested Belassis road was suddenly engulfed in fire; high flames leapt out of the stables that lined the road: hundreds of horses neighed to death, and the fire brigade mysteriously failed to reach the spot in time.
Yusuf Patel later erected buildings on the ashes.

He was not alone. Smuggler Manu Narang was already going haywire with constructing buildings and hotels. The message had gone home loud and clear, and scores of small-time builders and contractors were making a beeline for the offices of smugglers like Manu Narang, Vardrajan Mudaliar—seeking investment as well as help for grabbing land and evicting legitimate tenants.

Vardrajan Mudaliar, though a wharf king, taught the embryonic world of criminal syndicates the importance of grabbing the land, housing the mushrooming slums. Even though his reign period was small, he also drove home the importance of developing contacts with influential men and use of the police force through tipping them on the whereabouts of small-time lackeys of the crime world as well as the use of the media.

One of these small-timers learnt the lesson well and soon emerged as the most dreaded person in the construction business. He was Arvind Dholakia, a scrap cloth dealer and errand boy for smuggler Supariwalla. The latter helped his disciple to parachute into the building industry. Arvind Dholakia emerged as the city’s most sought after builder.

But Arvind and his bother Mahesh went a step further: They moved into the hotel business and effectively used the cover to start pick-up joints. Slip Disc, Hotel Ceasar’s Palace and Fishermen’s Wharf entitled the Dholakias to establish their monopoly over the flesh trade and develop contacts among the city’s bigwigs hungry for exciting night outs on the sly.

In the early Eighties, with Vardarajan Mudaliar’s power on wane, the Dholakias were no doubt firmly entrenched, but were gradually feeling the heat in the underworld rivalry. Dawood Ibrahim had arrived; he was the new contender who wanted the mantle of the undisputed Godfather.

In the political arena a fresh alignment was being worked out between the then Chief Minister AR Antulay and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray who was soon to realise that charismatic power could match, or even be deadlier than the formidable clout of the underworld.

The new phase in the war was inaugurated with Chief Minister Sharad Pawar’s decision to de-reserve land in the western suburbs of the city. A mad rush ensued, but the first to establish his sway over the new turf was Sharad Shetty alias Anna. Once, a ‘stockist,’ of Dawood’s contraband, Shetty was receiving huge amounts from builders, wishing to enter the construction business there.

This only escalated the rivalry between the Dholakias and Dawood, and blood spill was inevitable. Mahesh Dholakia was the first victim of the war; he was shot dead on the neon-lit swanky Peddar Road. There could now be no hope of truce.

But so strong is the lure of land in Mumbai that is has the potential of driving a wedge in even the powerful and tightly knit gang empire. Thus, Dawood’s most trusted hit man Rama Naik, who controlled the eastern side of Central Mumbai, staked his claim to a plot in the far-flung Jogeshwari area. His problem was that Sharad Shetty too had similar designs. The Jogeshwari slums were cleared off in just 12 hours, but the gunmen of neither of the dons were willing to back out.

This war was a classic case for the intervention of the Godfather. Dawood interceded on behalf of Sharad Shetty, and his monolith empire split vertically. The subsequent gunning down of Rama Naik in a police ‘encounter,’ saw Arvind Dholakia who had started developing Mahakali, Andheri and Jogeshwari change his allegiance; he began financing the Arun Gawli mob to keep Dawood at bay.

The first big blow in this new round was delivered by Gawli; his trusted aide Ashok Joshi intercepted Satish Raje’s car in the busy Byculla crossing, smashed his head with a hammer mowing him down with bullets.

The murder of Raje infuriated most members of the Dawood gang for an important reason: He was their finance man who kept the account of benami transactions as well as investments in the real estate and other lucrative ventures for laundering black money.

The reaction of Raje’s murder drew the battle lines afresh - Amar Naik and Arun Gawli struck a deal, promised not poach on each other’s territories, and joined hands to strike at Dawood’s empire. The builders as well as the small fries of the organized crime world thought it prudent to jump on the Dawood’s bandwagon.

What about the political class? Changing political equations saw the political parties revise their strategies. A major chunk of Shiv Sena took the side of Dawood Ibrahim. But in the underworld, allegiance to money and turf predominates, and Shiv Sena MLA Vithal Chavan was gunned down precisely for this reason - he fell out with Dawood’s mobster, Guru Satam (who later left the folds of Dawood), over the issue of sharing the spoils of the protection racket that they were running together in eastern-central Mumbai.

The Dawood-Sena link, firmly established in the early Nineties, came under the increasing strain of Hindutva politics of Bal Thackeray. His diatribes against the Muslims needed a visible symbol and Dawood, who had fled to the safer confines of Dubai, was one easy target he could easily exploit. Indeed, charisma could be pitted against gun-power and capture of the State machinery could provide a clout sufficient enough to match the arsenal of the dreaded underworld don as well as challenge the hegemony of the Congress.

Thackeray could be reckless, never mind the fact that a substantial chunk of Sena corporators owed allegiance to Dawood. For one, the Amar Naik-Gawli pact had weakened Dawood, who found that ruling the crime world through remote control was not quite the same as being there on the scene. And then came the serial bomb blasts, the disclosure of Dawood’s role the planning of it, overnight changed the scenario for the mafia king dramatically. The Dubai-based don was now a liability whom only a foolhardy politician would court.

It was probably the new political equation that saw some of the Sena corporators assert their independence---and pay dearly for it. So BJP MLA Prem Kumar Sharma was bumped off because he allegedly tried to take a lion’s share in the spoils of illegal constructions. Soon Shiv Sena MLC Ramesh More was killed by Chhota Rajan’s (a long-time Dawood’s crony who later branched out into a formidable independent branch) men who wanted to establish their own protection racket in the discos and pubs located in the western suburbs of the city.

The Shiv Sena, once the wind started blowing in its favour, openly patronized Amar Naik and even gave tickets to its relatives to fight the municipal corporation elections. It probably had little option. For, with Gawli leaving the Shiv Sena fold after Chhagan Bhujbal joined the Congress, the Shiv Sena had to woo Amar Naik lest it was deprived of firepower and support of the lumpen elements who ruled the roost in the central Mumbai.

It was due to this nexus that the Shiv Sena-BJP Government maintained a deafening silence over the killing of industrialist Sumit Khatau, which was linked to the controversy over the multi-crore Khatau mill land. Nothing could be more eloquent testimony to the political patronage extended to the underworld - and all for a land in a city teeming with millions.

The collapse of the smuggling rackets, due to the liberalization policies juxtaposed with the crunch in the real estate business and serial bomb blasts, brought the chinks in the monolithic empire to fore and gangsters desperately seeking legitimacy by hobnobbing with film stars, doling out interviews to the media to keep their clout alive.
Notwithstanding the oft-repeated claims of the Mumbai police of destroying the mafia through encounters of small-time hoodlums, the organized criminal syndicates itself had gone into hibernation. The law-enforcing agencies know this fact very well, and several of them used this as a cover to their own nefarious activities.

And the wheel continues to rotate. Wherever and whenever elections are round the corner and political parties need campaign funds, builders, developers and land grabbers all poise themselves to extract concessions from the political parties.

The result: A boom in the real estate. With substantial tainted money floating in the city needing to be cleaned, the hydra-headed organized criminal syndicates, rear its head spitting blood and fire. And since in the organized crime chessboard, names and personalities do not matter, the turf-war clashes continue. No peace, no lasting truce for the players. And Mumbai continues to grope in the darkness of an endless night.

The author is a senior journalist, writing on environment, issues, labour and human rights, politics and crime. He may be contacted at theverdict@sify.com

22

Here is how I see the Lok Sabha Elections unfolding. If you want a TL;DR version, we'll be going for this circus all over again, soon. This is merely about where we are headed right now.

If you follow me on Twitter, I've said most of this there already. I was requested to write this post for some reason I can't fathom, but obliging the readers.

Indian National Congress

Not much to say here. They may get seats out of sheer inertia, but they have shown themselves incapable of thinking enough out of their patterns to expect much out of what has royally failed.

After 10 years of a notoriously private leadership, people have no idea what the country's leaders are all about. They do not want more of that, and that is the problem. Rahul Gandhi is trying valiantly to fix this, but it is too little, too late.

The musical chairs with the buck prevents it from stopping anywhere, and while the UPA2 government definitely pulled it off successfully, leaving the citizen too impotent to nail them and get answers, the voiceless people have an unerring instinct to use their voice in the one place it does damage - the polls. They do not want another round of looking foolish for being wronged, because no one has done wrong.

The final nail in the coffin will be the Frankenstein's monster they have unleashed on the country. They HAVE profited by pointing out to the Hindutva extremists and projecting themselves as the only available sane alternative for the country. The monster they were riding has now bucked them off and trampled them and is devouring them alive as they are held immobile.

Bharatiya Janata Party

Yep. The Frankenstein's Monster is growing even as it rots from within. BJP is not going to make an independent government. At best (and extremely unlikely) is an NDA government. I doubt this government will be of adequate strength to impose Modi on the country.

Chances are, Modi may never become an MP. His clinging to his Chief  Minister's chair even at this late date indicates that being Chief Minister of Gujarat and not going into the Parliament is still an option. I imagine Modi will not become an MP if he cannot be PM. He needs the power that comes with the Prime Minister's position (let's forget about Dr. Manmohan Singh for a moment) for major ass covering that is coming his way. When his cases in the Gujarat riots hit the Supreme Court, he is going to need an act (all puns intended) of God that a mere Minister cannot conjure up.

So, for Modi, this is a make or break gig, which currently looks more break than make. If Modi does win, it will be a blow to democracy, but a tribute to his advertizing skills.

The successful winning over of the corporations that formed cartels with UPA has worked well. Whether it is cheap lands, or opaque handshakes, Modi has got the top 1% of corporations in India controlling most of the power to put their eggs in the BJP basket instead of UPA. Where he once had to reach to a foreign firm to make himself look good in spite of relentless Indian media scrutiny, he can count on Indian media to cover up for him now.

That said, the psychological brute force wielded to make this possible has alienated him to many within BJP - particularly the seniors - left allies unsure of where they stand (witness allying with Shiv Sena while rejecting MNS, but getting Raj Thackeray to do a Rakhi Sawant tour of Indian media - where his party has no particular say with regard to National Elections). The sheer amount of stretching of truth that has been needed crumbles on scrutiny, and the development myth shakes at every communal message. The rest is a downhill of tu-tu-main-main, veiled communal threats and massive exhibitions of disregard for Indian constitution and laws. It doesn't help that most things they accuse others of turn out to be true about themselves.

The carpet bombing of the country is based on the new "education products" of adveritzing and management, where you believe that pushing your brand in everyone's face is what gets people to buy it. Unfortunately, for this theory, Parle G is the world's largest selling biscuit, so try guess how much it gets pushed in people's faces. The failure of education that divorces it from observable reality is ironically what will save India this election.

I disagree with Arvind Kejriwal that Modi losing Varanasi will mean that he cannot be PM. If Modi can win Ahmedabad, he will merely use spin doctors and still be PM if NDA can form the government. On the other hand, if NDA cannot form a government, or the Modi lobby cannot convince all allies to make Modi the PM, then even if Modi wins both his seats, he will abdicate both to continue as Chief Minister in Gujarat and opt for a PM whom he can dictate (Rajnath Singh seems to be promoted these days). He entered politics as CM and he will exit it rather than being a part of a team led by someone else.

Even if BJP wins, once this rush of money fades away, the party is going to splinter and bring down the government. The writing is on the wall - which is one of the reasons BJP is opting to install Modi puppets in as many seats as possible, even at the cost of dislodging senior leaders with mass bases - to survive when the fallout starts. Kirron Kher saying that Chandigarh was a seat to win for Modi isn't an accident, this is her highest attraction for the Modi lobby.

Togadia is a supporter of Modi. Ignore the spin doctors. I'll believe Togadia is not a Modi supporter the day he tells people not to vote for Modi or BJP under Modi. Don't hold your breath. Togadia is thrilled at the success of Gujarat riots under Modi and knows well that Modi is now completely dependent on the nuisance value of zealots to stay out of prison. Modi doesn't have to like Togadia to be useful. Witness his complete silence on the communal messages from his party. At best distancing himself and continuing to work to present a development smokescreen. Why in the world would Togadia have a problem with that? He's already said that Gujarat will be a completely Hindu state and Modi pretended not to hear it a week after Modi called for wooing Muslims. Modi calls Togadia's threat against minorities in majority areas as "irresponsible" - not a wrong view to have. Merely a wrong thing to say.

It is the classic good cop, bad cop routine, where both cops are herding you to the same destination. You are disgusted by Togadia? He is Modi's enemy. Voting for Modi is the best way to hit at him. You adore Togadia? Have patience. Gujarat model is growing.

This is basically the complete reinvention of India on the cards and will not happen easily. Unfortunately, with the kind of deals with the devil BJP has done to make it possible, it won't die easily either. One way or the other, India is destined to suffer from the choices already made.

The good news is that parts of the corporate consensus on Modi are hedging their bets. This indicates a possibility that they may not support him beyond the election if he fails - but work with whoever wins. The others remain devoted to Modi. This faction will leverage nuisance value against any non-Modi-led government that forms. A comprehensive defeat of BJP will end this farce. It is unlikely given the kind of money poured in and the sheer diversity of manipulations employed.

A third front

This is possibly the best thing that could happen to India in this stage. A third front with or without a decimated Congress (not with Congress as largest party). It is not looking very concrete at the moment, but given the sheer political splintering in the country, if it doesn't happen now, we might as well forget it.

Aam Aadmi Party

Aam Aadmi Party is the wildcard this elections. It has in its wake a swathe of broken stereotypes and naysayer predictions. It remains to be seen if the skepticism of a media that doesn't even have an entry in its surveys for a party with 450+ candidates joins the debris of the AAP rise.

Given the distortion of news on the Aam Aadmi Party, it is difficult to make an estimation of their impact on the ground, which is probably a good thing, since a poll showing AAP getting very few seats in Delhi (probably doctored) saw a massive wave of media negativity against it in Delhi Assembly Elections. Regardless, news about AAP could be accurate, distorted or reported by AAP themselves resulting in wild fluctuations in terms of its ability to represent what is going on. So cannot get a sense of what their prospects are.

Going by poll surveys, they get between zero to five seats. Others say double digits, which is as disparate as 19 and 99.

If we are to go by the amount of resources BJP has invested in discrediting AAP as a viable option for people (far more than that for discrediting the Congress, which is in theory the real contender and the largest party in country), one would imagine that they are serious competition for BJP - which would put it between 160 seats by my guess and 250 seats by BJP supporter claims. This, of course assumes that BJP spending on hate campaigns is determined by data from campaigning that identifies threat and not random fixation (which is also possible - BJP is not very sane these days - in which case, this source of behavioral data would be useless).

The other part of the AAP threat to BJP of course is that AAP will have ready support from several parties if it chooses to form a government, and it will be out of "cartel control" so to say, since on a National level, AAP will hardly have no alternative except the BJP mirror Congress. Entities that have traditionally allied with BJP have appreciated AAP, including Raj Thackeray and Mamata Banerjee - who had also endorsed their calls for RTI for political parties through ALL MPs from their party. They may not support AAP now, but they have made their appreciation clear in the past, and if AAP is in a position better than those holding their support strings? Who knows? Navin Patnaik, Nitish Kumar, Mayawati have been seen as vaguely hopeful, even. CPI-ML is actually endorsing Kejriwal in Varanasi to aid in defeating Modi. If AAP is in a position to form a government with support, there is going to be no dearth of support, because smaller parties, like the people of India had no real choice beyond BJP-NDA and Congress-UPA either so far. So far AAP claims to be independent, and it genuinely is, when it comes to chasing their manifesto. But this doesn't mean that it won't pull off a Delhi surprise again, particularly if it means keeping both Congress and BJP out of power.

THIS IS THE REAL THREAT OF AAP TO THE POLITICAL CARTELS.

Of course, this is dependent on how many seats AAP gets. It could indeed get five. But the risk is there, because at this stage, no one knows.

But the cartels are taking no risks. In Varanasi at least, it appears as though BJP, Congress and SP are leaving each other alone to target Kejriwal.

Regardless, AAP is unlikely to form a government with a clean majority, and anything less is going to collapse under the nuisance value of cartels who do NOT want AAP to reform their cash cows into oblivion.

AAP should also consider the possibility of supporting a third front if it forms, if it results in Congress and BJP being in opposition. This will create space for reforms that allow more action against political cartels.

It will also provide some stability aganst the combined nuisance value of the two biggest parties and their owners

This is basically stuff I've said on Twitter over time. No idea why people want me to put it all in one place. I'm neither an "expert" nor using real statistics. Merely observing nuances that indicate what may really be happening.

Might be interesting to check back in a month, though 😀

7

The BJP funding seems to be an economic miracle. Perhaps it follows the Gujarat model.

Hindustan Times reports that the BJP advertising budget for this election could touch 5000 crores.

“Planned spends on all media, including print, television, outdoor, internet and radio would be close to Rs. 4,500 crore. The party has set aside an additional Rs. 500 crore, which will be used, based on need, to beef up the campaign in critical constituencies and states in the last few days of campaigning.”

After his Record of 53 rallies using 3D projection technology beamed real time using satellites during his Assembly election campaign; the Lok Sabha Elections are set to see Modi break his own record with 1000 such 3D projection rallies planned in 10-12 batches with each event happening in 100 locations at a time. Depending on which source you read cost between 5 crore per event to ten million dollars (little over 60 crores) for all the rallies (coming to a little more than 1.13 crore per rally). That would be a mind boggling 5000 crore on just one category of election campaigning by a party that declared TOTAL INCOME between 2004-05 and 2011-12 accounts as 890.65 crore rupees and assets worth 1221.57 crore rupees. While there is no way of knowing how much donations they are getting now, I'm going by the assumption that two general elections falling into that time period, the total income of 7 years wouldn't exceed the income in this one year.

Assuming lower cost to be true, it would be 1.13 crore per event bringing it to a whopping 1132 crore still.

This is apart from the 185 rallies Modi is to address in person, traveling by air each time. Independent estimates peg the cost of each Modi rally at 50 to 55 crores per event including event arrangements, travel by air, hoardings and other advertisements, live broadcast feed, paid audiences and more. We can dismiss them as motivated and consider a tenth of that cost (5 crore) to be true, and the rest politically motivated considering that estimating the extent of paid audiences is impossible. I regret that we have to use such wild estimations, but since BJP is a staunch opponent of RTI providing accurate information about their party expenses, this is the best I can do for now. I have tried to be fair. Even a low budget wedding decorator would charge 150 rupees per head or more per guest for the event arrangements (not counting food and such). That would put the cost of 185 rallies alone at 925 crore (35 crore more than the total declared income for 7 years between 2004-05 and 2011-12). That is leaving out rallies such as the Hunkar where even conservative estimates peg it to cost over 10 crore.

This is in addition to prime time television advertisements, full page ads in newspapers and such, which someone tracking (but not yet ready with his report) estimates to be in the hundreds of crores already.

This is in addition to the ads staring into your face all over the internet.

This is in addition to the hired PR firms for social media trolling and more.

This is apart from the regular running expenses of hundreds of offices, lakhs of supporters campaiging on the ground and on the internet and phones.

It is apart from the printing and distribution expenses for both party propaganda and slander of opponents.

This is apart from the reports of payment for votes, payment for attending rallies, payment for buying off party supporters/members/candidates, media, etc - stuff not easy to prove or estimate, but estabished that it happens.

This is in addition to the expenses of other leaders who are also not exactly pinching their wallet. There are hundreds of candidates with their own expenses likely spending funds from state units or other sources. For example Gopinath Munde's supporters recently thrashed their helicopter pilot in Beed when he wouldn't take him to an additional location than what he had been booked for, citing Election Commission restrictions.

And there are a thousand other things, but I think it is quite clear that BJP's visible expense dramatically exceeds their stated income. I can easily outline estimates for other expenses if anyone has any evidence that BJP legally has more money than I am assuming here.

So where is this money coming from? Clearly part of it is coming in kind, like the free air travel and the now done to death names of the evil Ambani and Adani.

That still doesn't explain the rest of the bonanza. The advertising, rallies and the 3D rallies both independently blow the declared income estimate out of the water.

Some of the expense is clearly looted from the people of Gujarat when state funds are used to employ PR firms for showcasing Gujarat before the upcoming General Elections. Why would a state government need a PR firm for the General Elections? It wouldn't. The argument would be the state is showcasing itself, and Modi will just "happen to" peddle the well publicized Gujarat model till everyone wants to puke - and it isn't just skeptics like me, but even a staunch bhakt like Raj Thackeray lashed at Modi when he flaunted Gujarat in Maharashtra asking him to resign as Chief Minister of one state if he was planning to be the Prime Minister.

But BJP supporters would rather believe that a state that has tripled its debt under Modi needs to spend more money making Gujarat smell sweet. So we have:

The chosen agency will have to ensure at least half a dozen stories each in national, regional and vernacular newspapers based on the inputs provided by Gujarat government, officials said. Gujarat government is also seeking at least one story each in national magazines and television based on its inputs every month.

[...]

The amount for retaining Mutual PR is not known. Last week, four agencies including Dilip Cherian's Perfect Relations, Acti Media, Kamnath Mudralaya and Mutual PR attended half an hour long pre-bid conference called by the government of Gujarat in Delhi.

More firms are expected to submit bids as the Gujarat government reduced a threshold to 1 crore each in turnover for past three years from 1.5 crore in 2011 for bidders while most tenders seek much higher revenues.

[...]

Many of the state ventures of Gujarat have also hired separate public relations firms. For instance, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City has roped in Adfactors PR; Metro Express Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad project has signed Perfect Relations and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation has tied up with Simulations.

And this publicity wasn't even listed in the ones already unable to fit BJP's stated income.

Paisa kidhar se aa raha hain, bhai?

Note: There is a big bait in this article. If BJP takes it, there will be a follow up article. Stay tuned.

Cobrapost brings to light the conspiracy and exposes the conspirators behind the events of December 6, 1992, which rewrote the history of modern India on communal lines

In a long undercover investigation, Cobrapost has unearthed the conspiracy behind the fall of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, exposing the actors who pulled the strings from behind the scene, weaving about a complex cobweb of intrigue and deceit that even the CBI could not unravel after years of investigation. Working at different levels, these actors kept the whole plan a highly guarded secret with its details never coming out. The plan was given a codename, ‘Operation Janmabhoomi’, which Cobrapost found apt to use for its undercover operation, as well, and was executed with precision of a military operation, from conducting training to putting all logistics in place and finally launching the assault, using multitudes of crowds as cover.

Posing as an author-to-be researching for his book on the Ayodhya movement, Cobrapost Associate Editor K. Ashish interviewed 23 of these actors, namely, B.L. Sharma Prem, Dharmendra Singh Gurjar, Jai Bhagwan Goyal, Pawan Pandey, Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya, Santosh Dubey, Swami Sachidanand Sakshi Maharaj, Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Ramji Gupta, Ramesh Pratap Singh, Sadhavi Ritambhara, Sadhavi Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Kalyan Singh, Prakash Sharma, Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Mahant Avaidyanath, Acharya Dharmendra, Moreshwar Save, Lallu Singh, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and Swami Nritya Gopal Das.

Of these, while the Liberhan Commission has indicted 15, the CBI has named 19 accused in its chargesheet, strangely enough leaving out B. L. Sharma, Mahant Avaidyanath, Nritya Gopal Das and Ram Vilas Vedanti. In all, 40 are facing trial in a CBI court, of which 32 have been made accused in FIR No. 92/197 as executors, while the remaining eight have been made accused in FIR No. 92/198 as conspirators.

The investigation took Associate Editor Ashish to Ayodhya, Faizabad, Tanda, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Mathura and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh; Jaipur in Rajasthan, Aurangabad and Mumbai in Maharashtra and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.

The Conspiracy and Preparations for the Assault

Role of the Bajrang Dal: As the Cobrapost investigation reveals, the conspiracy to demolish the Babri Masjid was hatched at the top level and those who were recruited for training did not know it till the countdown for mosque’s fall began a month before in November. In June 1992, Bajrang Dal, for instance, conducted a month-long military style training for 38 of its cadre chosen from various regions in Sarkhej, Gujarat. The training was given by retired high-ranking military officers. Ideological teachings were imparted to the cadres by the likes of Acharya Giriraj Kishore, Acharya Dharmendra, Dr. Praveen Togadia, Jaibhan Pawaiya and Ashok Singhal.

The drills conducted at the Neela Teela in Ayodhya by Bajrang Dal cadres took the training they had received in Gujarat a step further. But how and when such skills -- like climbing taller structures with the help of grappling hooks and ropes -- would be put to use was not revealed till the day when the top VHP office bearers asked them to form Laxman Sena with the specific purpose of dismantling the disputed structure in a top secret meeting that was held in the basement of Ram Katha Manch. According to Ramesh Pratap Singh: “Uss baithak mein hum paanch jo humari prashikshit logon mein se paanch the paanch ke baad chatha Ramji Gupta aur Durg Singh Chauhan. Humare adhikari ne humse milne ke baadunka samark wahi unka adesh tha baithak lenge Durg Singh Chauhan aur karravai jo bhi aapko karna ho aap kya karoge rachna kya karoge theek hai wo parde se huth gaye (There were five persons from among those who had received training in this meeting. The sixth person was Ramji Gupta and then there was Durg Singh Chauhan. After meeting with us this office bearer told us Durg Singh Chauhan would be our contact point and he would coordinate all the meetings. Decide whatever you want, how you will form it. After that this office bearer disappeared from the scene).” This VHP office bearer was none other than Champat Rai Bansal.

Bajrang Dal’s War Cry ‘Jai Sheshavatar’: Apart from Ramesh Pratap Singh, this secret meeting was attended by Dharmendra Singh Gurjar from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, Hariya Lal Parikh from Rajasthan, Arun Khanna from Punjab, K. Nagarajan from Tamil Nadu and Arun Kumar Tiger from Jharkhand. Ramji Gupta was put in charge of this band of 1,200 RSS workers secreted from various regions. Gupta supplied them with all the logistics such as chisels, heavy-duty hammers, pickaxes, spades, grappling hooks and sturdy ropes in good numbers. The army was divided into smaller groups of 10 each with a leader and each group had its job cut out. All these groups had the instructions to merge with the crowds when they would surge toward the Babri Masjid for karseva and finish the tasks assigned to them. They would not listen to any leader, however senior and respected he might be, till the task was accomplished. ‘Jai Sheshavatar’ was the signal for the groups to begin work on their brief, which according to Ramji Gupta, had to be raised thrice.

According to Dharmendra Singh Gurjar of Bajrang Dal from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, from among this band of Laxman Sena, even a suicide squad was formed, which they calledBalidani Jatthaa la the fidayeen Islamic terrorist organisations use. This squad was supposed to lead the assault on the Babri Masjid from the front.

When the Babri Masjid was razed to dust on December 6, it was Shiv Sena chief Balasheb Thackeray who proudly claimed before the world that it was the Shiv Sena which did the job, as BJP leaders like L. K. Advani went about town offering apologies. Thackeray’s claim was not hollow as the Cobrapost investigation establishes.

Role of the Shiv Sena: Like the VHP, the Shiv Sena too had its own plan to demolish the Babri Masjid  and conducted a secret training camp in Bhind–Morena in Madhya Pradesh, bordering Uttar Pradesh, where necessary skills were imparted to its cadres. Says Vinay Pandey of this training: “Usmein Jai Bhagwal Goyal the Delhi ke aur ek Madan Lal Chadda Ghaziabad jinhone wahan vayavastha diya tha, Mahesh Ahuja the aur Anand Digheji uss samay Maharashtra se aaye the training dilwane ke liye (There was Jai Bhagwal Goyal from Delhi, there was Madan Lal Chadda from Ghaziabad who had made arrangements for the training, there was Mahesh Ahuja and Anand Dighe had come down from Maharashtra to impart training).”

The top Shiv Sena leadership including Balasheb Thackeray, Raj Thackeray, Satish Pradhan and Moreshwar Save were keeping a tab on all these activities. Moreshwar Save is also learnt to have provided financial support for the training. A co-accused in the case, Save helped with money to run the training camps. “Save ne kuch madad nahi ki sirf political aur arhtik madad ki. Uss samay khane-peene ke liye hum 65–70 hazar rupaya humko diya gaya tha wo logon ki khane peene ki vyavastha karne ke liye (Save didn’t help much. He helped us politically and financially. He gave us Rs. 65,000–70,000 to arrange food for the trainees),” claims Pawan Pandey, a Shiv Sena leader who has been chargesheeted by the CBI in the case.

The Relic of Mir Baqi on Sale: In the thick of action on December 6, Pandey saw the domes of the mosque crumbling and saw the heavy stone plaque erected by Mir Baqi declaring the establishment of the Babri Masjid, fall apart in three pieces. He took away two pieces of the antique relic as memento. which are still in his possession. Pandey proudly says: “Wo toh abhi humare paas hi hai. Do hissa humare paas hai ek hissa jama hai (This is still with me. Two pieces are with me while the other is with the authorities).” Pandey now wants to auction these relics to make some quick bucks.

Arsenal Used:While the VHP and its youth wing the Bajrang Dal were holding secret meetings at Ayodhya to plan the final assault on the Babri Masjid, the Shiv Sena leadership too was confabulating on the fate of the Babri from New Delhi’s North Avenue, which was attended by Save and Pradhan, among others. If all methods failed, Shiv Sena had an explosive Plan B: dynamite the mosque. Claims Goyal: “Humare paas dynamite bhi tha hum dynamite bhi lekar gaye the wahan par agar zaroorat padti usko bhi chala dete iss taiyari se gaye the hum (We were carrying dynamite there. If need arose, we had gone fully prepared to use it).” In 1990 too, Shiv Sena had tried this option, which was foiled as the police arrested Suresh Baghel who was carrying 28 dynamite sticks.

Imagine the mayhem it could have caused had such zealots succeeded in their diabolical designs.

If not dynamite, petrol bombs were definitely used by these saboteurs to dismantle the structure. This dangerous act was committed by the Bihar team of Bajrang Dal. Former BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was also seen planting a petrol bomb there by none other than his fellow karsevak Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya. Look at the claim Pawaiya makes: “Ek petrol bomb do baje koi lekar aaya jo eent mein lagane ke baad dhuan nikal kar reh gaya uske baad hila bhi nahi … Brij Bhushan laya tha arre petrol bomb (Somebody brought a petrol bomb at about 2 pm. After it was planted between the bricks, it did not work, releasing some smoke only. Oh, it was Brij Bhushan who had brought the petrol bomb).”

Apart from petrol bombs, the forward squad of Bajrang Dal used traditional tools like chisels, heavy-duty hammers, pick axes, spades and grappling ropes were also used in good numbers to bring down the mosque.

Sankalp to Demolish Babri: Sensing the do-or-die mood of Ram bhakts (devotees) who had descended on Ayodhya in lakhs to settle the issue once and for all, a Sankalp (or oath), was administered. The onerous task of initiating the vow fell on Ram Vilas Vedanti. The Sankalp said: “Sankalp mein likha tha aaj dinank 6 December ko hum sabhi Ram Bhakt Ram Lala ke prangan mein yeh pratigya karte hain ki jahan par khandahar khada hai uss jageh bhavya mandir banane ke liye iss Ram Janmabhoomi ke mandir ke khandahar ko hatana avashyak hai isliye isko hatake bhavya mandir ka nirman karaya jaaye iska sankalp hum log Ram Lala ko samarpit karte hain iss dhang se tha (There was written in the oath that on this day of December 6 we all Ram bhakts take this oath on the premises of Ram Lala that it is necessary to remove the structure from where it stands to make a grand temple there. It is necessary to remove the structure to make a Ram Janmabhoomi Temple. We all take this oath for Ram Lala).” No sooner had the oath been administered, began the assault on Babri.

Dubious Role of VHP Chief Ashok Singhal: As it is already known and as it has come to light in the Cobrapost investigation as well, there were two determined attempts to demolish the Babri first in October 1990 and then in December 1992. However, the first attempt ended in police firing in which karsevaks were killed. Recounting the horror of October 30, Sakshi Maharaj says that if there is anybody to be blamed for the killing of karvsevaks, it has to be Ashok Singhal, none else: “Toh mere saamne Ashok Singhal ji ne kaha Maharaj kuch log nahi marenge toh andolan upar nahi uthega toh aap agya do jaane ki … toh Ashok Singhal ji ne kaha ... Vamdev ji ne kaha bache marenge toh bahut kaam kharab ho jayega ... Bole  Maharaj jab tak nahi marenge tab tak kuch hoga nahi andolan, tabhi barhega (Before me, Ashok Singhal said ‘Maharaj (to Vamdev), the movement would not gain momentum unless some people die’. This is what Ashok Singhal said. Maharaj Vamdev said it will be disastrous if children die. Ashok Singhal again said the movement will not get a fillip until they die).” Sakshi avers that well-known karsevaks like the Kothari brothers from West Bengal and Mahendra Singh from Rajastan were deliberately targeted by the police at the behest of some vested interests spearheading the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

Adding credence to Sakshi’s averments, then BJP leader and MP Uma Bharti also blames Bajrang Dal leader Vinay Katiyar, her compatriot in the movement, for the killing of the Kothari brothers: “Jo log mare the wo Vinay ki galti se. Galti bhi nahi wo bhagdar machi wo gali chhoti thi. Galti matlab wo bhag gaya chhodkar bhag gaya (They got killed because of Vinay’s mistake. Actually, there was a stampede and the byelane was narrow. By mistake he fled the scene abandoning his group).”

These revelations add a new dimension to the Ayodhya conspiracy and raise a pertinent question with regard to the intent of its leaders: Were they using the youth as sacrificial goats?

Like Sakshi Maharaj and Uma Bharti, Dharmendra Singh Gurjar, another frontline leader of Bajrang Dal at that time, is critical of the manner the leaders used the youth of the country for furthering the movement, only to dump them later: “Ye sab bewaqoof banane wali baatein hain isiliye toh humara desh bewaqoof banta aa raha hai … pehle hum jawani ke josh mein the … junoon mein the ek junoon tha guzar gaya … logon ne upyog kiya aur chhod diya use karke (All this talk is an exercise in making a fool of people … this is why our countrymen are made a fool every now and then  (by such leaders) … in those days I was being driven by the enthusiasm of youth … I was driven by plain madness … it was plain madness which has passed … people used us and threw us out after using us).” Drawing an analogy, he says “leaders use us in the same manner as we use tobacco”. What he says shows his complete disenchantment with proponents of Hindutva: “Aise logon ke sath kiya bees saal baad logon ki zaroorat nahi ya jo bees saal baad naye yuva honge unka upyog karenge (This is what they did. After 20 years (of the Ayodhya movement), they don’t need people like us … or they will use the new generation of youth after 20 years).”

Another interesting fact that Cobrapost investigation has thrown up is that disenchantment against the BJP leadership runs deep also among the more hardliners of Ram Janmabhoomi movement leadership.

Hindu Zealot Cursing Fellow Hindu Zealot: If leaders like Gurjar feel cheated, Acharya Dharmendra too feels slighted at the compromising stand of leaders like L. K. Advani: “Sachai ye hai ki Advani ji karm fod rahe hain abhi tak karm fod rahe hain ki mere jeevan ki abhi tak ki sabse badi durghatna thi. Sachai ye hai. Toh fir kis ko kya fayada hona hai? Atalji ne kaha mere jeevan ka sabse sharmnak din hai toh aur kya sachai hai? Sachai ye hai Arun Jaitley ne kaha ki Hindutva humare liye ek loklubhavan nara hai anyatha hum Gandhivadi samajvadi dharmnirpeksh loktantra mein vishwash rakhte hain. Satya ye hai ki Sushma Swaraj ne 1992 mein ye kaha ki Ram Janmabhoomi ek baar hi cash hota hai aur wo humne cash karwa liya wo karva chuke aur kya satya hai? (The truth is Advani is still cursing his karma going about saying that it (Ayodhya demolition) was the saddest event of his life. This is the truth. Then, who is going to benefit? Atal (Behari Vajpayee) said it was the most shameful event of his life. What more truth you want to know? The truth is (BJP leader) Arun Jaitley said that Hindutva is a populist slogan for us. Otherwise we believe in the Gandhian, Socialist and secular democracy. The truth is Sushma Swaraj said in 1992 that you can encash Ram Janmabhoomi movement only once and we have done that).”

Mahant Avaidyanath too spews venom against Advani: “Advani bahut … unko toh zinda nahi rehna chahiye (Advani … he should not stay alive).” He says the rest of the leadership: “Nahi sab swarthi log hain jo iss tareh se kehte hain kyonki aapko Hindutva ki avashayakta nahi hai jab zaroorat hoti hai istemaal karte hain (No, all these leaders are selfish who say such things because they don’t need Hindutva at all. When they need it, they just use it).”

Another leader who has only disdain for leaders like L. K. Advani is Santosh Dubey. He says bluntly: “Jisko iss desh ka Hindu bhagwan maan raha ho jab wo hi jhooth bolne lag jayega toh log usko shaitan manane mein bhi der nahi karenge. Advani jhoothe aadmi hain unhone Jinna ko Brahmin aadmi bataya. Ganda aadmi hai kul milakar. Dhancha tudwane mein unki poori sahmati hai kaise jageh jageh unhone jaloos nikala sabhayein ki har jageh bolte the. Aapne toda hai ya nahi toda hai lekin aapne lalkara toh, todne wale toh taiyar kiye(If someone who the Hindus revere as God begins to tell a lie, it will not take long for them to trash him as a Satan. Advani is a liar who said Jinnah was a Brahmin. He is a dirty fellow in all. He had agreed on the idea of felling the structure. It was he who led the processions, addressed the meetings and talked about it everywhere he went. You broke it or not, but you gave a call and prepared people for the job).”

Role of Kalyan Singh, the Nero:A fallout of the events that followed the failed attempt on Babri and killing of karsevaks in October 1990 was that BJP came to power in four states, and Uttar Pradesh was one of them, with Kalyan Singh at the helms. Now, the approach was diametrically different from the approach that the local administration had in the 1990 karseva. Although Kalyan Singh had the foreknowledge of what going to happen on December 6, he chose to look the other way round. Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, another leader of the movement, claims to have informed Kalyan Singh about it a day before: “Paanch December ki raat ko hi Kalyan Singh ke paas samachar bhej diya gaya tha aur usmein ye kaha gaya tha ki yadi awashayakta padti hai toh dhancha bhi tod diya jayega aapko kya bhoomika nirwah karni hai vichar kar lijye (On the night of December 5 itself Kalyan Singh was informed of it and he was told that if need be the structure would be felled. Now, you decide what you have to do).” Sakshi Maharaj also claims to be in constant touch with the then chief minister. It is learned that at one point, Kalyan Singh had made up his mind to resign in the morning on December 6 when he came to know an assault on the disputed structure has begun, but senior leaders of the RSS like H. V. Sheshadri and Murli Manohar Joshi dissuaded him, while BJP leaders in Lucknow made him captive the whole day until a clean job of the mosque had been made at Ayodhya.

What made the job easier for these zealots was a sympathetic administration and police force, which instead of discharging their constitutional obligations were goading the karsevaks to remove the “headache” the Babri had become for them. Pawaiya makes another interesting observation about the role the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) played on December 6, 1992: “Wahan nirman kayra ka jo stall tha, uss stall ko todkar ke saaman nikala. Usmein jo rasse the aur jo PAC tha jo Uttar Pradesh ka usne chhaini aur ye saari cheezein logon ke haath mein di ki isko saale ko sirdard ko khatma karo to wo sahyog mein lekar usase toota tha. Matlab PAC favour mein thi poora sainya bal ye keh raha tha kya-kya chahye tumhein tod daalo tum ye tha wahan par (There was this stall for construction work. That stall was broken apart and the ropes and other stuff were taken out. The PAC of Uttar Pradesh gave the people chisels and other implements saying they should remove this headache forever. This is how they cooperated in the demolition. I mean, the PAC was in absolute favour. The constabulary was saying tell us what you want. You break it down. This is how it happened).”

There is no surprise if the then District Magistrate Ravindra Nath Srivastava and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Devendar Bahadur Roy find themselves among the accused in the CBI chargesheet.

Role of Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao: After the Babri Masjid demolition, there were allegations flying thick and fast that then Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao had given his tacit support to the demolition. Cobrapost investigation finds these allegations true as some leaders at the forefront of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement like Vinay Katiyar, B. L. Sharma, Santosh Dubey, Sakshi Maharaj and Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti openly acknowledge Rao’s supportive role.

An Elephant and Four Blind Men: Interestingly, on the surface, the interviews all these proponents of Ram Janmabhoomi movement had with Cobrapost’s Associate Editor Ashish remind us of the story we read in our school days in which four visually challenged persons get hold of an elephant and describe it the way they perceive the different body parts they are holding. But in the end, they serve the same purpose. Similarly, all the major leaders interviewed describe the various aspects of the movement, and between their claims and counterclaims one has to read the subtext to ascertain their involvement in the larger conspiracy and execution, so subtle are their answers at times to pinpointed questions.

For instance, Champat Rai Bansal would draw an analogy when he describes his role in the demolition of Babri Masjid. Bansal asks the reporter who killed Rawan? When the reporter says it was Ram who killed Rawan, Bansal in turn asks: “Vibhishan ki bhoomika nahi hai (Didn’t Vibhishan have a role in it)?” Bansal is no minion to make such statements that would not carry weight, for the high-ranking functionary of VHP and a close aide of Ashok Singhal was one of the architects of Laxman Sena which was entrusted with the task of razing Babri to the ground on December 6, taking advantage of the sea of restive karsevaks gathered there at Ayodhya. His understatement suffices to make it clear that the whole ‘Operation Janmabhoomi’ was conducted with utmost secrecy, with even some senior most leaders of the movement never coming to know of such audacious plan.

Callous Face of Hindutva: However, a very callous and indifferent face of this movement and its leadership comes in full glare when the Cobrapost reporter reminds Mahant Avaidyanth of the sacrifices numerous karsevaks such as Vinod Vats, whose old parents now have nothing to fall back upon. Avaidyanath nonchalantly makes light of such a sacrifice: “Sabko marna hai tumko bhi hai mujhe bhi marna hai. Mrityu ko kaun rok sakta hai(All have to die, both you and me. Death is inevitable).” He has the same philosophy for his old, helpless parents: “Wo bhi marenge unko bhi marna hai (They will also die. They also have to die).”

A Witness to the Fraud: The Cobrapost investigation brings to the fore one more fact: the appearance of Ram Lala at the Babri Mosque was not the result of some divine intervention but the handiwork of a petty priest and two senior government officials who became willing conspirators in this fraud. A witness to this deceit was none other than Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem, two-time BJP MP from East Delhi. It all happened before his eyes in 1949, Sharma claims, when he was posted in Ayodhya with Military Police as a Warrant Officer. Priest Ram Chandra Das, a regular visitor to their unit, informed them how on a particular day Ram Lala would appear. Debunking the theory of Ram Lala’s ‘divine appearance’, Sharma avers: “Arre ji kahe ke prakat hone wale … prakat kiya hai … wo toh maharaji ka kaam tha na Ram Chandra Paramhans (How would He (Ram Lala) appear? He was made to appear … It was the handiwork of Maharaj Ram Chandra Paramhans).” At some other point in the course of his interview, this Hindu-zealot-turned-Khalsa claims: “Ayodhya ki baat sun le main 15 December 1949 ko Military Police mein tha, Ayodhya mein hi tha mere 13 logon ka main warrant officer tha. Hum logon ko jab moortiyan sthapit hui main wahin tha … Thakur Guru Dutt Singh ji the aur Nayyar sahib the theek hai inhone sahyog diya humara jab kabhi hum Faizabad mein humari unit thi bacche Muktar Ghat par (Now, listen to what happened in Ayodhya on December 15, 1949. I was then with Military Police and was posted at Ayodhya. I was Warrant Officer of a unit of 13 military personnel there. Posted there was Thakur Guru Dutt Singh and Nayyar. They helped install the statues. Our unit was stationed at the Muktar Ghat in Ayodhya).”

Although the chronology of events Sharma claims to have been witness to is not accurate (there is a difference of only one week), what he says is irrefutable, for the two officials K. K. Nayyar and Guru Dutt Singh were, respectively, the district magistrate and city magistrate of Faizabad, who wrote the script of this fraud, collaborating with priests Ram Chandra Das, born Chandreshwar Tiwari in Bihar, and Dharam Das. In 1952, Nayyar took voluntary retirement to join Jan Sangh, the political front floated by the RSS, and became an MP in 1967.

Priest Ram Chandra also grew in stature to attain the title of Paramhans in the Hindu religious order as lakhs of Hindus were mobilized by the RSS and its extension VHP and other Hindu outfits in the 1980s with the opening of the gates of Ram Janmabhoomi in 1986 by the Congress government of the day, with the movement reaching a crescendo in 1990 and finally culminating in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, irreconcilably polarizing the country on communal lines.

This is a copy of the Cobrapost expose. Backed up here just because BJP is busy invoking the Election Commission and what not to silence this.

2

Raj Thackeray is making news with the toll plazas again with 4 road toll booths vandalized. Earlier this month it was Shiv Sena that torched 3 road toll collection booths. The objective is to disrupt toll collection. They see toll booths as economic crimes by overcharging people, faking accounts to show less profits and continue collecting toll for a longer period. Their actions are violent. To put it bluntly, they are wrecking toll booths. People are getting Pavlovian frowns. Violent is bad, right?

I agree that violence is bad. But I disagree that in this case the only violence is by Thackeray & Co. In Maharashtra, the collusion of powerful people is such that large profits are being made by those in power and their affiliates. It is not a new story. These are known illegal practices by an established mafia that aren't even dented by repeated exposes. MNS have a point. If the cost of a road is 5 crores, why is 45 crores collected? If vehicle owners pay road tax, why should they also have to pay toll tax for making that road?

Livemint had this to point out earlier this month: Wanted: A transparent road policy in Maharashtra

Many are not against the tolls per se but they feel there is no transparency in the manner in which the contracts for tolled roads are given out and that the government is literally taking them for a ride for the benefit of a few contractors.

For example, the National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI’s) norms say the distance between two toll plazas should be at least 80km but the Maharashtra government’s policy uses a vague terminology and fixes the distance between two toll plazas at 35-40km. It has never explained why the distance between two plazas should be brought down by half.

Besides, on toll roads, BOT contractors are supposed to provide facilities such as ambulances, toilets and eateries, but except for a few roads like the Mumbai-Pune expressway and the Mumbai-Nashik highway, hardly any other toll road has these facilities.

Contractors are also supposed to maintain the roads during the so-called concession period, when they enjoy the right to collect the toll; but, except in a few major highways, the contractors don’t seem to be interested in taking care of damages caused by usual wear and tear. Officials from the public works department are rarely seen being pro-active and compelling contractors to do their job.

Then there are questions on the manner in which the tendering process is carried out. No one knows who, how and when the traffic surveys are carried out, how the toll fee is fixed, how the period for which a contract is given is calculated, or what formula is used for increasing the fee every year.

Here is an excerpt Chauthiduniya's June 2012 coverage of the toll tax scam frustration

The illegal exaction of toll tax in Maharashtra has snowballed into a major controversy after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) cadre resorted to vandalism... In many cases toll is still being charged even after the period of exaction has expired. It is for this reason that none of the political parties of the state condemned the actions of MNS. Instead, many a political heavyweight came out in open support of the protest. Even anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare was seen condoning the protests. The Public Works Minister Chagan Bhujbal was left in a spot of bother as even his cabinet colleagues raised their voice against the malpractice. As a matter of fact, as per a court order, an FIR has been lodged against many senior officials of Bhujbal’s department in connection with the Shiroor toll picket case. The protests against this malpractice later spread from Nasik to Mumbai, Nagpur, Wardha, Amraoti and Bhandara districts.

... The period of toll exaction had ended way back in 2011 but charging of toll has continued unabated even to this day. The 30 kilometer stretch has become the hub of illegal toll collection.Interestingly, even if the toll collection period had ended in 2011, the state government has extended the period by another year and the contract has been given to three contractors. People started a protest movement over this and vandalised the toll picket...

Another interesting facet of the story is that Nasik, from where the entire movement against illegal exaction of toll started, is the home district of Chhagan Bhujbal. He is, perhaps, the only person who has denied any illegality in the issue and is justifying the toll collection. Anna Hazare had earlier raised this issue, and this time state Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Patil too has pointed fingers at the misplaced toll policy which he wants reviewed so as to prevent any untoward incident happening over the matter.

Patil questioned the wisdom behind the current toll policy and said that it was just filling the coffers of the contractors. MNS says that once the road tax is included at the time of the registration of the vehicles there is no merit in again collecting toll tax. If the cost of the road is just five crores, why does the government authorise a toll tax collection of 45 crores? Toll collection is entirely illegal if we look at some facts. The Nasik-Yewala road was built at a cost of 174 crores yet the government authorised the collection of 1550 crores as toll over a period of 28 years. Similarly, the Aurabgabad-Vadala road incurred an investment of 190 crores, but the government authorised the collection of 1330 crores over 25 years; Shiroor-Ahmadnagar highway was built at a cost 162 crores but collection of 713 crores was authorised for 19 years; Jalan-Watur highway was built at a cost 100 crores but collection of 915 crore was authorised for 30 years; Pune-Shiroor highway built at a cost 105 crores but collection of thrice the amount was authorised. The list is not exhaustive and many more examples can be cited.

Another example of how the poor are suffering at the hands of this draconian taxation is the Dewali village toll picket on the Wardha-Yavatmal highway. As per the law, there should be no toll picket within a kilometer of a village or a town but this one is just 200 metres from the village and for getting to the filling station, the villagers have to pay toll tax. Actually, there is no system for regulating the collection of toll. Though computer-generated slips are given at various places, there is no cross checking of whether the total receipts have broken even with the cost or not. Consequently, the officials take the amount reported by contractors at face value and turn a blind eye to the primary question.

...The leader of Opposition in Maharashtra, Eknath Khadse, has alledged that illegal toll collection is a scam worth at least 10,000 crore for which Chhagan Bhujbal is responsible.

- See more at: http://www.eng.chauthiduniya.com/toll-takes-a-heavy-toll-in-maharashtra/#sthash.tlibsLmd.dpuf

Two years ago, there was a virtual flurry of exposes related with the toll booths. Today, there is no change. This seems set to go the irrigation scam way, and there is little people can do about it.

We see the visible violence - that of a vandalized booth, but we fail to notice the constant violence of exploitation of state resources for the profit of a few powerful entities.

Is the Shiv Sena or MNS wrong in vandalizing the toll booths? Sure. But the fact remains that these cartels entrenched in the system are not going to go away with petitions and candles. I am not all that bothered as long as people are not hurt. Particularly when it comes to property that belongs to the target of the protest (as opposed to breaking random windows and burning cars) and can be easily replaced in a fraction of the ill gotten wealth that is being protested... if it shows results.

But the other fact also remains that vandalizing the toll booths for several years now also has not resulted in any change either. It remains a method of grabbing attention for the cause that lacks teeth to do anything beyond that. Today toll booths all over Maharashtra are being vandalized. It is pointless to tell them to stop, because it is deliberate, and political and long running enough to have a lot of fed up people backing it. If this merely achieves the lack of toll collection till they are repaired, then it does not mean much. If it forces transparency and accountability, perhaps the anarchy will have achieved something.

There is a need for clear and transparent process of tenders, accounts, toll collection, traffic measurement and more. There is no getting around that.