The Railway Budget was presented Thursday, it has no great schemes or concession or additional rise in fares etc, because it was basically a carry-on-business budget. Of course, some gestures are there for reserving seats for elderly people, ladies, etc., which are welcomed. It will not solve any problem because the railway as a body is run very inefficiently; it needs strictest supervision, maybe through additional management, schemes or outsourcing certain activities – for instance cleanliness. You are talking about ‘Swachh Bharat’ but our railways are always dirty. Whenever we travel by railway one thing we see is it is not clean, forget other efficiency parameters or getting bullet trains etc., just ensuring cleanliness in railway is so not difficult. You can hire contractors, you can pay them and you can find ways. But when we travel Europe, their railway of course is bit different, their number of course are less. Here people travelling by railway are million every day. Two years of this government has passed and Swachh Aharat Abhiyan was unleashed by the Prime Minister in 2014 itself, but something should be done to make railways more pleasant.
Rest of the budget is ok. Suresh Prabhu is a very businesslike person. He does not have the charisma of Lalu Prasad to give a budget speech. He just read out his speech in a normal manner which is ok. The other thing that happens is the President’s speech. Again the president speech only reflects the views of the government. The problem with this government is that they say one thing and do another. All Modi’s speeches are in favour of treating all religion at par, constitution is the only book the country should follow. Unlike some minister suggested that the Geeta should be the national book, Prime minister said nothing to it. He stuck to the constitutional words and norms. The problem is there are too many other bodies affiliated to the RSS, like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajarang Dal, Shri Ram Sena which is not directly connected to them but work as Hindu point of view. They are creating an atmosphere in the country where Hindu should dominate. As it is Hindus are 85 percent of population so they are and will be the dominant religion. But there is an inferiority complex, they want to make Hindus aggressive and that will not help the country. It will not help Hindus certainly but it will not help the country at all. How do we curb that? That is the serious issue, which President cannot addressed, because obviously the president is talking what is on record, what government is doing. Other organizations do something it is a law and order matter. So president speeches, ok.
Now coming to what they think is a big coup. Smriti Irani, the HRD minister, made a big speech in the Lok Sabha. I watched most of the speech. I have to say that she is a good speaker. Her English as well as Hindi is good, her facts as she marshal them are good, in fact not as a minister but as an MP she could have been a very good debater for the BJP. Of course that could have only been in Rajya Sabha because she is a Rajya Sabha member. Now in her present responsibility I do not share the perception that she does not have the degree, she should not be the HRD minister that is against the constitution. Anybody body is of sound mind and over a certain age can become an MP and anybody who can become an MP can become a minister. So that logic does not stand. Problem is not that. Two or three things in her speeches are important. One of course she tried to marshal all the arguments in favor of whatever the government or the police have done in JNU. What the police of Delhi have done in JNU is unpardonable, it is definitively excessive and totally uncalled for it has been done to help the ABVP which made a doctored tape in advance and then circulated it. Later they found it is a doctored tape and the fact is they release it so quickly that obviously prepare this and some policemen were also taken into confidence. It is a serious matter, last time JNU student’s Union President was arrested it was during the emergency when D.P. Tripathi was the JNUSU president. Of course they first arrested a wrong man, Parveen Pukastha, thinking he was D.P. Tripathi that is another matter. The fact remains JNU has been one of the premier institution in the country for all sorts of thoughts. Now this action shows the real intention; they wanted a stifled dissent. Dissent cannot be equated with crime that is the most dangerous thing. The Supreme Court and the high courts have held in various cases that sedition is an act of inciting violence to bring down the government or is against the Nation. Merely expressing my views by slogan shouting means nothing. As Fali Nariman rightly put in his article in the Indian Express all that is required is if really the students are saying Bharat ki Barbadi etc. all that is required is tell the parents of the students get their heads examine. Nobody wants bharat ki barbadi , no bharatiya will like bharat ki barbadi.
The other fine distinction is Afzal Guru. Whole of Kashmir was against his execution, the Supreme Court judgement itself does not give much credit to the Supreme Court, and they have talked of the collective consciousness of the people. The Supreme Court is not a place where public view or voting is required; it is judicial, circumstantial evidence you have hanged a person; you could have given him lighter sentence. PDP with whom BJP is having an alliance, till recently PDP’s official stand is Afzal Guru hanging was wrong. So BJP does not mind doing business with PDP, sitting in the government and getting all the advantages of the office. But once students saying Afzal Guru arrested and given a very bad treatment what kind of logic is that. You think people of India are blind, deaf, they are not. Everybody is watching all these. Earlier the correct their mistakes the better it is. And I hope the Delhi judiciary releases Kanhaiya and this matter should be forgotten as soon as possible. And this government in rest of its tenure should be very careful when dealing with students.
The other case of Rohit Vemula; it reeks of casteism and worse. The Vice-Chancellor of that university should be sacked. Sushil kumar, who is President of the ABVP there, in cahoots of in the police some enquiry committee was put by some Srivastava. He has taken only the version of Sushil Kumar. What kind of justice or enquiry or objectivity is that? That is the very sad case. Now he is dead nothing can be done, but we should be careful when dealing with sensitive matters in universities. It is alright to talk of Ambedkar, the same BJP which talk against Ambedkar is now talking of Ambedkar. They are blaming Congress and other parties of vote bank politics; they are indulging in vote bank politics. But the Dalits are impressed they are not going to vote for BJP. Overall parliament is still on, overall the situation is not good; of course the budget is coming on Monday. Let’s hope that gives some cheers on common man. Let us see.