What AAP’s historic mandate means for Indian politics

The Delhi wave confirms lessons the Lok Sabha elections had offered. In a limited setting, Arvind Kejriwal has done precisely what Narendra Modi and the BJP had done to beat them at their game.

Here are five big takeaways.

Indian democracy is alive and kicking

Modi won the general elections with a resounding 282 seats using the vibrancy of Indian democracy, the disillusionment with the establishment, and every conceivable technique of reaching out to the electorate. But the overwhelming verdict left many worried. Was India heading towards political hegemony?

The impact of the Aam Aadmi Party victory in a city state like Delhi should not be over-estimated, but it shows both the impermanence of politics and resilience of Indian democracy. The AAP used precisely the open nature of Indian polity to mount a similar campaign. Voters like having checks – and anecdotal evidence suggests many were uncomfortable with the concentration of power in one man, one party.

No substitute for organisational resilience

In 2014, Modi’s success was in galvanising the cadre and bringing back energy to the organisation. Last May also spelt an almost existential crisis for the AAP. Kejriwal had walked out of the Delhi government; the AAP had over-reached in the general polls and 96% of their candidates lost their deposits.

But they stayed the course. Kejriwal kept his flock together; stayed away from other states, including Haryana; kept nibbling away at BJP’s claims; exposed the Lieutenant-Governor’s willingness to toe the Centre’s line; urged his party MLAs to remain connected with their constituencies.

In a recent piece, Ajaz Ashraf highlighted how 11 men and a woman constituted their Delhi Election Campaign Committee and made several innovations like jansabhas and Delhi dialogue. The AAP’s organisation remained resilient.

Creating a multi-class, multi-caste alliance is the future

Before 2014, many predicted while the BJP may win the elites, they had little traction among the disadvantaged. Modi proved them wrong. In the run-up to the Delhi polls, many had billed it as a battle of classes, where the underclass would prefer the AAP while the middle class and upper middle classes would stick to the BJP. This view missed the larger trend of Indian politics. Parties which are able to bridge the class, caste, regional divide will flourish; those who are not able to do so may remain significant but will not cross the threshold.

Modi won urban and rural India; he won the middle class and upper castes of north India but also won the lower middle class, sections of the poor and backward castes and Dalits. Kejriwal’s success was being able to carve out a wide social alliance. The AAP focused on the slum clusters, Muslims, workers and marginalised groups. They also spent time in middle-class localities, fought in TV newsrooms, and drew out specific campaigns for the diverse communities. The future is in adding to your core vote.

Personality and leadership issue are critical

Modi filled in the yearning for leadership in the 2014 polls. And the Delhi verdict is a clear vote not as much for the 60-plus AAP MLA candidates as it is for Kejriwal. This was a personalised campaign; the “paanch saal Kejriwal” song became as much of a buzz as “Modiji aanewaale hain” was last year.

The appeal of a Jawaharlal Nehru or an Indira Gandhi, or even an Atal Bihari Vajpayee, drove voters to particular formations in the past. But the need for a strong leader as the face of the campaign is now becoming an almost key ingredient of electoral campaigns. In Delhi, the toss-up was between Kejriwal and the Modi-Bedi combine. People decided to go with the former. This has lessons for future elections – in Bihar, the JD(U)-RJD alliance is all set to project Nitish Kumar as the face, while the BJP is not yet clear who will lead the party. That could well be risky, for people want to know who will lead them before they vote.

The electorate prefers decisive verdicts

One other pattern that is increasingly apparent is the desire of the electorate to have clean verdicts. Modi waged the Lok Sabha campaign on a 272-plus pitch; the voters responded. In Delhi, Kejriwal claimed the last time around, he could not deliver because he did not have a full majority.

There appears to be increasing disenchantment with politically fragmented setups. Bihar in 2005 and 2010; UP, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in 2007 and 2012; Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in 2008 and 2013; Andhra Pradesh in 2004, 2009 and 2014; Telangana in 2014; Gujarat ever since 2002; Odisha in 2009 and 2014; Tamil Nadu in 2011; West Bengal in 2011 have a clear message – either a party on its own or a pre-poll alliance has won a majority. Delhi has confirmed the trend.

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Election Data

Party Won
Bharatiya Janata Party 282
Communist Party of India 1
Communist Party of India (Marxist) 9
Indian National Congress 44
Nationalist Congress Party 6
Aam Aadmi Party 4
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 37
All India N.R. Congress 1
All India Trinamool Congress 34
All India United Democratic Front 3
Biju Janata Dal 20
Indian National Lok Dal 2
Indian Union Muslim League 2
Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party 3
Janata Dal (Secular) 2
Janata Dal (United) 2
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 2
Kerala Congress (M) 1
Lok Jan Shakti Party 6
Naga Peoples Front 1
National Peoples Party 1
Pattali Makkal Katchi 1
Rashtriya Janata Dal 4
Revolutionary Socialist Party 1
Samajwadi Party 5
Shiromani Akali Dal 4
Shivsena 18
Sikkim Democratic Front 1
Telangana Rashtra Samithi 11
Telugu Desam 16
All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen 1
Apna Dal 2
Rashtriya Lok Samta Party 3
Swabhimani Paksha 1
Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party 9
Independent 3
Total 543

Indian General Election 2014

India gained its independence and a democratic status in 1947 and the general elections coming ahead in 2014 will mark 67 years of its status. The minds behind the thought of India as a sovereign nation were excellent and had no personal motives while participating in the establishment of a democratic set up.

Corruption was far from their noble thoughts and deeds. The political situation has become highly corrupted and there are flaws in the election process that are beyond estimate. The electoral process is still followed while staging elections in the country so that the government at the Center can be established and can function to run the country.

India has parliamentary constituencies where in Members of Parliament for the Lok Sabha are chosen through voting/election which is done every 5 years. May 31, 2014 marks the end of present constitutional term of the Lok Sabha.

Indian General Election

tres-in.jpg

ECI (Election Commission of India) is the authority responsible for holding the election while the President is the one who dissolves the Parliament. These elections will decide the next government that shall hold the power with its members elected by the country. The present government is led by UPA coalition with Indian National Congress leading it. It is speculated that after Dr. Manmohan Singh, the current Prime Minister of India having led the government for two consecutive terms, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, may be appointed as the next prime ministerial candidate for 2014 elections.

In opposition, BJP’s proposed candidate is Mr. Narendra Modi who is also the present Chief Minister of Gujarat. There may be changes to the candidate decisions and time will decide the real leaders who come ahead to fight for the position of Prime Minister. It is believed that so far the two biggest parties have been banking on urban and rural India for their vote bank. While Congress continues to cash upon rural India’s penchant for them, BJP tries to win the confidence of Urban Indians by devising policies that favor them.

Narendra Modi is popular amongst the young and educated citizens who live in the world of internet and expect technological advancement in the country. His electoral ideas and campaigning ways have capitalized social networking and captured audiences online for supporting his ideology and actions. His active presence on Twitter and use of Google hangouts to reach people and have a direct word with them mark his people friendliness approach in politics. He is a leader of present generation and is capable of mobilizing large numbers through his vocal skills and his firm resolutions. He has also managed to stand out of all criticism and controversies that he has faced in the past.

Congress is also actively following the web audiences and Rahul Gandhi is trying to reach the countrymen by showing active participation as a future Prime Ministerial candidate. Vocal presence on internet and social media has become the need of the hour with the middle class and their issues considered playing a deciding role in upcoming general elections. Rahul Gandhi has been reaching out the villagers and countrymen in many situations of crisis and also to embark upon some significant projects. He has however failed to express opinions in matters of political and economic concerns where a leader should showcase active interest and involvement.

Inflation and related problems of unemployment, increased taxes on all commodities, heightened rates of criminal acts and rapes, series of corruption scandals are key issues which have displeased Urban India to a great extent and can be a challenge before the Congress in upcoming elections of 2014. BJP’s internal issues and lack of unity and consensus over pity leadership issues within the party may create problems for it when contesting elections against Congress in many states. If both the parties due to their loopholes fail to win the elections, a Third front formed by small political parties may come in power in coalition. Pranab Mukherjee who was competent as a candidate for Prime minister has been ruled out by giving him post of President of India. Gandhis due to their political background have taken a strong hold in the position as leaders always and this is the reason that Rahul Gandhi is ready to start his active political career with this opportunity.

Many states in India have been able to establish monarchial rule with consistent presence as ruling parties in the region. Jammu and Kashmir has Kashmir National Conference in ruling while DMK rules the politics of Tamil Nadu. Other big states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi too have big leaders who compete by gathering votes of minority to oust others from coming to power.

Even as true democracy fails to exist, even when religious and regional issues continue to be used for political gimmicks and even when criminalization of politics has become the modus operandi, the country continues to foresee the upcoming elections as a time of political upturn.

The future of the nation in hands of such leaders who rule for money and power for their own family and relatives and where selfish interests overweigh country’s interest is not anywhere bright. While parties like Aam Aadmi party hope to change the country’s present scenario, bring about law and order for the common man and work for the interests of everyone eliminating corruption from all political machineries, the dream may not be practically realizable at least by upcoming elections in India with the strong hold of corrupt and devilish politicians befooling the uneducated and poor people to get the vote bank. The vulnerability of Kejriwal and his team make them weak as favorable options for Parliamentary elections in 2014. “United we stand, Divided we fall” is the mantra of coalition that continues to rule with support from small parties that find their own selfish interests met by coming to power. If India is in need of real leaders who can transform the current system and make it truly democratic and free from corruption, a drastic change in the political set up and parties in power is needed.

 

Rise of aam aadmi party in Indian Politics

The Aam Aadmi Party is on a high. And it has reasons to be. On December 08, 2013, the party with broom as its election symbol literally swept the Congress party in the Delhi Assembly elections and stunned the BJP by winning 28 seats in the 70-member House. Its convener, the 45-year-old Arvind Kejriwal defeated the three-time chief minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, and became the seventh CM of Delhi in just over a year after launching the AAP.

It cannot be denied that the new party captured the imagination of the people of Delhi with its innovative style of campaigning, with its anti-corruption plank and with its promise of changing the way politics is done in India. They talked of people’s participation and clean governance, and when offered outside support by the Congress which won eight seats in Delhi, they went to the people and sought their opinion on government formation.

It’s almost been a fairy-tale launch for the AAP. No wonder buoyed by the success in 2013, they have now set their eyes on 2014. Notwithstanding the fact that the BJP is hoping to come back to power at the Centre after a decade and notwithstanding the fact that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity has been growing in the country, they sincerely feel that there is an unprecedented excitement and buzz about the AAP.

Thus the decision by them to take the national plunge and fight in almost 300 seats in the upcoming General Elections this year. As they say – make hay while the sun shines. Which brings us to the question – can AAP make an impact in Lok Sabha polls and can it repeat its good showing in Delhi at the national level? After what happened in Delhi where the Congress, BJP and the opinion makers did not give them much of a chance, not many would want to hazard a comment about their prospects at this juncture. But one thing can be said for sure – it’s going to be an uphill task.

For a start, how are they going to take on regional leaders and players? How is it going to tackle Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP in Uttar Pradesh, Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, Naveen Patnaik’s BJD in Odisha, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) in Bihar or for that matter Narendra Modi’s BJP in Gujarat. And how is it going to deal with caste, religion, linguistic and region factors at the state level, which still exist, even though we may not like it? For instance, the Marathi manoos factor which all political parties in Mumbai play upto. Plus the humongous task of finding 543 people with clean image and impeccable integrity.

While one can never say for sure, but what worked in Delhi may not necessarily work at the national level. AAP launched its campaign in Delhi in the backdrop of Jan Lokpal movement. Delhi was the venue for the anti-corruption agitation in 2011 and it helped AAP that it chose to fight its first election from the national capital. The fact that Congress was facing double incumbency in Delhi – of Sheila’s government and that of the UPA – went in their favour. The support from the media, especially electronic, who captured their every move helped. Would AAP have had the same success in Delhi if the venue of the anti-graft movement had been in some other state? It’s a point to ponder upon.

The AAP knows that to succeed at the all-India level a political party needs to have a strong cadre, strong leaders in the state and a strong organisational structure, all of which requires time and money. And at the national level it will not be enough to portray themselves as anti-establishment and committed to root out corruption. The AAP will have to spell out its views on handling the economy of the country, inflation and price rise; its take on foreign policy, how it proposes to deal with Pakistan and the United States; how it will address the issue of Naxalism, terrorism and separatism; what does it think of Centre-state relations and creation of states like Telangana; its plan regarding agriculture, farmers and rural India; its vision on education and job creation and its ideas on women’s safety among other things.

And before that it has to deliver in Delhi first and show the people of this country that it is capable of governing. It is one thing to come to power and completely another to rule successfully. Pure rhetoric and a press conference a day will not help. A case in point – to the credit of the AAP, it delivered on two of its poll promises of giving free water and cutting power tariffs after assuming office. But questions are also being raised as to whether they are compromising on good economics for populist schemes and how good is subsidy for economic growth.

When Arvind Kejriwal spoke in the Delhi Assembly just before the trust vote, he sidestepped these questions raised by members of Congress and BJP and instead delivered an emotional speech. But a party who harbours national ambitions has to eventually take up hard questions and cannot play on the emotional quotient for long. Also, AAP leaders like Prashant Bhushan saying that a referendum should be held in J&K on the issue of the removal of Army from the state for internal security does not help their cause.

Though Kejriwal said on record that Kashmir is an integral part of India, it raises questions as to whether some of AAP leaders hold separatist views. Bhushan has made similar comments in the past too. He had once said in Varanasi that a plebiscite should be held in J&K to determine whether the people want to stay with India or not. They will also have to give convincing answers to assertions by certain quarters that they are ‘communists’ in disguise.

It cannot be denied that the AAP needs to develop an ideology, and now, and go beyond mere rhetoric. They still have a long way to go and to travel that distance they have to tread carefully. They have to clear the air about the accusations that are being levelled against them that they are being used by the Congress to spoil the chances of the BJP. Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar did say that his party sees AAP as an ally.

AAP formed the government in Delhi after Kejriwal said that they would never take the support of either the Congress of the BJP. But they went ahead with government formation saying that the people had wanted them to do so. That’s all very well but didn’t the AAP centre their campaign around the ‘corrupt’ Congress? They have to accept the fact that as long as they are running the government with Congress, they’ll always be under the scanner. Questions like what’s happening to the probe regarding corruption charges against Sheila Dikshit will be thrown at them.

Also, they want to fight in all the seats in Haryana in the Lok Sabha polls but will they raise the issue of land deals of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra in the state, a matter that they have raked up in the past? And if they do, what happens to their government in Delhi? Going into the election mode they have to counter these questions head on.

At the same time, it cannot be denied that the AAP has generated a lot of interest and they have given BJP a scare of sorts. Even if they do not win enough seats to form the government at Centre or be kingmaker for that matter, they may end up cutting into BJP votes, something that one suspects the Congress would be hoping for.

The common man, reeling under price rise and inflation and increasingly disgusted with corruption voted for the AAP in large numbers in Delhi, in spite of the fact that they were a rookie party without any experience. Will the joyride continue and will the AAP bridge the gap from state Assembly to Parliament – just a couple of months and we will have the answer to this question.

Issue of Afzal Guru

Mohammad Afzal Guru (died 9 February 2013) was convicted in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, and was sentenced to death by a special Prevention of Terrorism Act Court in 2002. The Delhi High Court confirmed the judgment in 2003 and his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court of India in 2005.[2] The sentence was scheduled to be carried out on 20 October 2006, but Afzal was given a stay of execution and remained on death row. On 3 February 2013, his mercy petition was rejected by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee. He was hanged at Delhi’s Tihar Jail around 08:00 A.M. on February 9, 2013.

Early life

Guru was born in Aabgah village near Sopore town in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir in 1969 to the family of Habibullah. [4][5] He completed his schooling from Government School, Sopore. He passed the Matriculation exam in 1986 and completed his higher secondary education in Sopore. He subsequently got enrolled in medical college. He had completed the first year of his MBBS course and was preparing for competitive exams.[6]

Training

His native place is Sopore and he was doing a commission agency business. It was during this business venture that he came into contact with Tariq of Anantnag , who motivated him to join Jihad for liberation of Kashmir and assured him of financial assistance. He crossed the Line of Control and proceeded to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. He became a member of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front where he received terrorist training in Pakistan.[6] After learning how to handle arms and ammunition, he returned to Sopore and led a group of nearly 300 militant terrorists. On a visit to Kashmir in 1998, he married a Baramulla native Tabassum. Unhappy with the situation in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, he moved back to Kashmir. He did odd jobs and completed his graduation from Delhi University in the year 1993-94. While studying he met Abdul Rehman Gilani, who was pursuing his post graduation course. In the summer of 1993-94 on the advice of his family, he surrendered to the Border Security Force and returned to Delhi where he worked till 1996.[4][6] He took up a job with a pharmaceuticals firm and served as its area manager. Simultaneously, he worked as a commission agent for medical and surgical goods in the year 1996. During this period, he used to shuttle between Srinagar and Delhi. It was his business that led to a meeting with one Tariq, who claimed to be a doctor. This resident of Anantnag convinced Afzal to aid some Pakistan-trained terrorists in their deadly mission.[5] Tariq introduced him to Ghazi Baba, who was equipped with wireless set and satellite phone. Even Ghazi Baba motivated him and gave him literature containing speeches of Maulana Masood Azhar. He agreed to work for them and was assigned the task of providing a safe hideout for the Fidayeens in Delhi.[4] He was apprised of the mission to carry out attacks on important institutions in India, like the Parliament and embassies, and asked to find a safe hideout for the terrorists in Delhi.[7] He has himself confirmed these in his own interviews with various newspapers.[8]

In an interview to news agencies, he had confessed to the same and said:[9]

“Yes, I first took training in Pakistan. I went to PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) in 1990. I stayed there for 15 days and took training from a Pakistan’s Army retired officer. I stayed in Kashmir for 20 days. There I saw the entire business. There was no freedom fight. There was no logic. There was lot of bloodshed. They were trying to earn money over there.”

The case

The attack was conducted jointly by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). Seven members of the security forces were killed, as were the five still incompletely identified men who carried out the attack.

Following were the charges against Afzal Guru:[4][2]

  • Waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India and Conspiracy to commit the same – Section 121 and 121A of the Indian Penal Code
  • Collecting arms, etc., with intention of waging war against the Government of India – Section 122 of the Indian Penal Code.
  • Criminal conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder – Section 120B read with Sections 302 & 307 of the Indian Penal Code
  • Conspiring to commit and knowingly facilitating the commission of a terrorist act or acts preparatory to terrorist act and also voluntarily harbouring and concealing the deceased terrorists knowing that such persons were terrorists and were the members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, a banned terrorist organisation, which is involved in acts of terrorism; and hence committing an offence punishable under Section 3(3) (4) and (5) of Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002.
  • Possession of INR 10 Lakhs given to him by the terrorists who were killed by the police when they attacked the Parliament of India.

On 15 December 2001, Afzal was arrested by Delhi Police from from Jammu and Kashmir. SAR Geelani was picked up for questioning and was later arrested from Delhi. Two others – Afsan Guru and her husband Shaukat Hussain Guru — were picked up later. On 29 December 2001, Afzal was sent to 10-day police remand. In June 2002, charges were framed against all four of them.[10]. Eighty witnesses were examined for the prosecution and ten were examined for defense.

Conviction

On 18 December 2002, a death sentence was given to Afzal Guru, S A R Geelani and Shaukat Hussain Guru, while Afsan Guru was let off. In August 2003, Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Ghazi Baba, who was a prime accused in the attack was killed in an encounter with the Border Security Force (BSF) in Srinagar. Three other militants, along with him were also killed in the 10-hour encounter. In October 2003, on an appeal, Delhi High Court upheld the order.

The judgment mentions:

“The gravity of the crime conceived by the conspirators with the potential of causing enormous casualties and dislocating the functioning of the Government as well as disrupting normal life of the people of India is something which cannot be described in words. The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, has shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender.”[11]

On December 19 2001 he made a confession of the offenses, which was recorded and signed by him. He also confirmed having made the confessional statement without any threat or pressure.[12]

He was convicted for the offenses under Sections 121, 121A, 122, Section 120B read with Sections 302 & 307 read with Section 120B IPC, sub-Sections (2), (3) & (5) of Section 1, 3(4), 4(b)of POTA and Sections 3 & 4 of Explosive Substances Act. He was also sentenced to life imprisonment on as many as eight counts under the provisions of IPC, POTA and Explosive Substances Act in addition to varying amounts of fine.[13]

An appeal was made to the Delhi High Court, but after going through the case and taking into consideration various authorities and precedents, the Court found that the conviction of Afzal Guru was correct and hence his appeal was dismissed.[4] The co-accused in the case, S.A.R Geelani, was acquitted by the high court.[14][15]. Hence, although initially, the death penalty was meted out to S.A.R Geelani (who was presented as the mastermind behind the attack), Afzal Guru and Shaukat Hussain Guru, only Afzal Guru’s death penalty was upheld by the Supreme Court.[15]

In August 2005, Supreme Court, while confirming the death sentence of Afzal Guru, commuted Shaukat Hussain Guru’s death sentence to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment.[7] [10].

In October 2006, Afzal Guru’s wife Tabasum Guru filed a mercy petition with then President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. In June 2007, Supreme Court dismissed Afzal’s plea seeking review of his death sentence, saying “there is no merit” in it. In December 2010, Shaukat Hussain Guru was released from Delhi’s Tihar Jail due to her good conduct.[10]

In its judgement, the Supreme Court observed:

“As criminal acts took place pursuant to the conspiracy, the appellant, as a party to the conspiracy, shall be deemed to have abetted the offence. In fact, he took active part in a series of steps taken to pursue the objective of conspiracy.”

Supreme Court of India, Judgement on Appeal by Afzal Guru on August 5 2005.[7][16]

The Supreme Court held that the circumstances detailed in the judgment clearly established that Afzal was associated with the deceased terrorists in almost every act done by them in order to achieve the objective of attacking the Parliament House. It also observed that there was sufficient and satisfactory circumstantial evidence to establish that Afzal was a partner in this conspired crime of enormous gravity. It has to be noted, that in its judgement of August 5, 2005, the supreme court admitted that the evidence against Afzal was only circumstantial, and that there was no evidence that he belonged to any terrorist group or organisation. He was subsequently meted out three life sentences and a double death sentence.[16]

Confession

The evidence against Afzal also included his confessional statement, which was recorded by the DCP, Special Cell. It was recorded in the preamble of the confession that DCP had asked the policemen present there to leave the room. After that he had warned and explained to Afzal that he was not bound to make the confessional statement and that if he did so, it could be used against him as evidence. Thereupon, it was recorded that Afzal was not under any duress and he was ready to give the confessional statement. The signature of Afzal was found beneath that endorsement.[16] The Supreme Court was angered by the act of police officials, who, in their over-zealousness, had arranged for a media interview.[16] However, after seven months, Afzal disowned this confession and the Supreme Court did not accept the earlier confession as an evidence against him.[16]

In the interview given to several media houses, he openly confessed that he was the person who brought the other four people involved in Parliament attack. He also said that he was asked to motivate Mohammad to achieve the target as soon as possible.But later it was revealed that these confessions were made under duress. This was the opinion of the senior Lawyer of the Supreme Court Ms Kamini Jaiswal who was representing him in the Supreme Court of India.[9]

Clemency pleas

There was an appeal to issue clemency to Afzal from various human rights groups including political groups in Kashmir, who believe that Afzal Guru did not receive a fair trial and was subjected to a frame up of corrupt and inefficient police work.[17] Human rights activists in various parts of India and the world have demanded reprieve as they believe that the trial was flawed. Arundhati Roy and Praful Bidwai castigated the trial and argued that Afzal has been denied natural justice.[18] Accusations of human rights violations have been made by many.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and local political groups voiced their support of clemency for Afzal. It was alleged many have done so to appease Muslim voters in India.[19] However there were protests (with instances of stone pelting at Indian security forces) in Kashmir against the planned execution of Afzal Guru in 2006.[20][21]

Communist Party of India (Marxist) was critical of both the Congress as well as of the BJP, and claimed it was delaying the legal procedure in the case accusing it of trying to whip up enmity between communities in the name of a crime done by a group of criminals. The party wants the law of the land to take its course without any interference.[22]

Ram Jethmalani held that it is completely within the President’s power to commute the Death sentence and is not a mercy plea. He said, “It’s a misnomer to call it a mercy petition. It leads to total misunderstanding of the constitutional power. The constitutional power is that the President has the power to disagree with the Supreme Court both with its findings of fact and law.”[23] The case became political and it was not carried out because of fear of revenge attacks. The Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party president and MP, Mehbooba Mufti commented that the Centre should pardon Afzal if Pakistan accepted the clemency appeal for Sarabjit Singh.[24] Mehbooba said that if clemency appeals were made for Sarabjit citing his Indian nationality, voices should also be raised for Afzal for “he too is an Indian citizen”. “Two citizens of India cannot be treated with different yardsticks” she had said.

However, the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front Chairman Maninderjeet Singh Bitta urged the President of India not to accept any clemency pleas on Afzal’s behalf. He warned that his organisation would launch agitations if Afzal was pardoned. He also criticised statements of various political leaders and blamed them for “encouraging activities of terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir”.[25]

An India Today poll in late October showed that 78% of Indians supported the death penalty for Afzal.[19]

On 12 November 2006, the former Deputy Prime Minister of India, Lal Krishna Advani criticized the delay in carrying out the death sentence on Guru for the Parliament terror attack, saying, “I fail to understand the delay. They have increased my security. But what needs to be done immediately is to carry out the court’s orders”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) severely criticized Arundhati Roy. BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said:

“Those who are supporting Afzal by demanding that he should not be hanged are not only acting against public sentiment in the country but are giving a fillip to terrorist morale”[26]

On 23 June 2010, the Ministry of Home Affairs recommended the President’s office to reject the mercy petition. On 7 January 2011, a whistle-blowing site indianleaks.in leaked a document which stated that the mercy petition file was not with President of India. This was rubbished by Kapil Sibal in a interview with NDTV.[27] This was confirmed by Home Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi on 23 Feb 2011. With the death penalty handed to Ajmal Kasab, the speculation was that Afzal Guru was next in line.[28]

On 10 August 2011, the home ministry of India rejected the mercy petition, and sent a letter to the President of India recommending the death penalty .[29]

On 7 September 2011, a high intensity bomb blast outside Delhi high court killed 11 people and left 76 others injured.[30] In an e-mail sent to a media house Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, an Islamic fundamentalist organization, owned responsibility for the attack and claimed the blast was carried out in retaliation to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s death sentence.

“We own the responsibility for today’s blasts at Delhi high court. Our demand is that Mohammed Afzal Guru’s death sentence should be repealed immediately else we would target major high courts and the Supreme Court of India.”[31]

On 16 November 2012, the President had sent back to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) seven cases, including the one on Afzal Guru. The President wanted home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to take a relook at the MHA opinion given during his predecessor P. Chidambaram’s tenure. On 10 December, Shinde said he will look at the file after the winter session of the Parliament concludes on December 20. [32] [33] On 3rd February 2013, his mercy petition was rejected by the President Of India.[3] Afzal Guru was hanged till death on 9th February 2013.[34]

Afzal Guru’s family was informed of his execution by a speed post letter which was delivered to their home in Sopore, two days after the execution. Postal officials in Srinagar stated that the letter was received on the evening of February 9 (Saturday), but could be delivered only on February 11 (Monday), because February 10 (Sunday) was a public holiday.[35]

Aftermath of Execution

Most political parties[36] with exception of Kashmiri politicians welcomed the move by the Government of India. The BJP stated that it was a correct move albeit very late. It also stated that the public opinion forced Afzal Guru’s hanging.[37] The Chief Minister of Jammu and kashmir had severely criticized government action and stated that ,it is for the first time in free India a person has been hanged on circumstancial evidence and his family members were not informed.

PDP (a Kashmiri political party) spokesman Naeem Akhtar also criticised Guru’s burial inside the prison complex in New Delhi, saying the body should have been given to his family in Kashmir. The All Parties Hurriyat Conference announced a four-day mourning on the death of Guru.The Tihar Jail authority had earlier said that his family members were informed about the hanging by Speed Post. The letter reached his widow two days after his death.

A curfew was imposed in Kashmir to prevent any kind of protests in support of Afzal Guru. However protests flared up in parts of the Valley and groups of young men defied curfew and stoned security forces in Sopore, Guru’s hometown, Baramulla in North Kashmir and Pulwama in South Kashmir and certain other areas.[38] Thirty-six people including 23 policemen were injured in protests, said police spokesman Manoj Sheeri, with most of the violence in Guru’s home district. Authorities shut down internet services to try to stop news of the hanging and unrest spreading. The chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state, Omar Abdullah, made a televised appeal for calm.[39][20]

S.A.R. Geelani, a co-accused in the attacks on the Indian parliament, who was later acquitted by the Supreme Court in the absence of sufficient evidence[40] was taken into preventive custody by the Delhi Police.[41] He told media persons, that Afzal Guru’s hanging was a politically motivated gimmick and an example of vote bank politics.[42][42]. Justice SN Dhinga, the Judge who sentenced Guru and co-accused Shaukat Guru and SAR Geelani to death in 2002, termed the execution a political move stating that the judiciary took just three years to decide the matter while the executive took eight years to implement the same[43]

Omar Abdullah’s father, Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Union minister Farooq Abdullah said: “Afzal Guru’s mercy petition was put before the President. He rejected it. The matter is over.”[44]

Reaction of the Press

Although the Press in India has been supportive of Afzal Guru’s hanging, a section of the press raised apprehension on the manner in which the execution was carried out. In particular, the Times of India pointed out that since assumption of office as President Pranab Mukherjee turned down three clemency petitions – Ajmal Amir Kasab, Afzal Guru and Saibanna Ningappa Natekar.[45] According to Zee News website when Pranab Mukherjee on January 4, 2013 rejected the clemency of Saibanna Ningappa Natekar, sentenced to death for murdering his two wives and a daughter, the latter moved to Karnataka High Court praying that his mercy petition which was pending with the President April 29, 2005 as “the avoidable delay in deciding mercy petition is extra punishment and is not mandatory as there is a delay of seven years, eight months and six days in deciding the plea. Execution of death sentence, after a delay of seven years is whimsical, arbitrary, capricious and violation of Article 14.” He also termed it as violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. Karnataka High Court initially granted one week stay on the execution of Saibanna on January 22, 2012 which was subsequently extended to February 11, 2012 [46] It may be noted that article 14 of the Indian constitution grants equality before law to all citizens [47] while Article 21 grants Protection of life and Personal Liberty.[48] Further, according to Times of India,after Kehar Singh‘s execution in the Indira Gandhi case, Guru was the only conspirator to have ever been hanged in connection with any high-profile crime. The three conspirators in the Rajiv Gandhi case, although awarded death penalty earlier than Guru, have so far been spared the noose because of a stay from the Madras High Court on their execution. The stay came in 2011 on their plea that the death penalty be commuted to life sentence as the President had rejected their mercy petitions after an “inordinate and unexplained” delay. A major point highlighted by Times of India is the dilution of the due process evident from the government’s failure to comply with the stipulation of the jail manual to inform Guru’s family about the date of the execution. The compromise is more evident in Guru’s case because, unlike Kasab, his family members are Indians, who live in Kashmir. The rationale behind this stipulation is to provide the convict a chance to meet his family members for the last time.[45]

Home Minister’s Statement

Indian Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that Afzal Guru’s family was informed about the hanging decision on time. He defended the secrecy government maintained in the execution saying that it would not have happened had the decision been made public in advance.[49] He also deniend the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s charge that he was kept in the dark about the Centre’s decision to hang him. He said: ““I personally informed Omar about the execution. Also, the family of Afzal Guru was informed on the night of February 07.”. Asserting the need to maintain secrecy, Shinde said, “This, as Ajmal Kasab’s case, was extremely sensitive, government had to be very careful. Secrecy has to be maintained in such cases.”[50] He also picked holes in Omar Abdullah’s assertion that Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging was “out of turn.”[44]

Roll of CAG Comptroller and Auditor General of India

Audit Jurisdiction

The organisations subject to the audit of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India are:-

 

  • All the Union and State Government departments and offices including the Indian Railways and Posts and Telecommunications.
  • About 1500 public commercial enterprises controlled by the Union and State governments, i.e. government companies and corporations.
  • Around 400 non-commercial autonomous bodies and authorities owned or controlled by the Union or the States.
  • Over 4400 authorities and bodies substantially financed from Union or State revenues

Audit of Government Companies (Commercial Audit)

There is a special arrangement for the audit of companies where the equity participation by Government is 51 percent or more. The primary auditors of these companies are Chartered Accountants, appointed by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, who gives the directions to the auditors on the manner in which the audit should be conducted by them. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India is also empowered to comment upon the audit reports of the primary auditors. In addition, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India conducts a test audit of the accounts of such companies and reports the results of his audit to Parliament and State Legislatures.

Audit Board Setup in Commercial Audit

A unique feature of the audit conducted by the Indian Audit and Accounts Department is the constitution of Audit Boards for conducting comprehensive audit appraisals of the working of Public Sector Enterprises engaged in diverse sectors of the economy. 

These Audit Boards associate with them experts in disciplines relevant to the appraisals. They discuss their findings and conclusions with the managements of the enterprises and their controlling ministries and departments of government to ascertain their view points before finalisation. 

The results of such comprehensive appraisals are incorporated by the Comptroller and Auditor General in his reports

Nature of Audit

While fulfilling his Constitutional obligations, the Comptroller & Auditor General examines various aspects of Government expenditure. The audit done by C&A G is broadly classified into Regularity Audit and Performance Audit.

Regularity Audit (Compliance)

  • Audit against provision of funds to ascertain whether the moneys shown as expenditure in the Accounts were authorised for the purpose for which they were spent.
  • Audit against rules and regulation to see that the expenditure incurred was in conformity with the laws, rules and regulations framed to regulate the procedure for expending public money.
  • Audit of sanctions to expenditure to see that every item of expenditure was done with the approval of the competent authority in the Government for expending the public money.
  • Propriety Audit which extends beyond scrutinising the mere formality of expenditure to it wisdom and economy and to bring to light cases of improper expenditure or waste of public money.
  • While conducting the audit of receipts of the Central and State Governments, the Comptroller & Auditor General satisfies himself that the rules and procedures ensure that assessment, collection and allocation of revenue are done in accordance with the law and there is no leakage of revenue which legally should come to Government.

Performance Audit

Performance audit to see that Government programmes have achieved the desired objectives at lowest cost and given the intended benefits. For a complete list of Performance Appraisals since 1983 

Regularity Audit (Financial)

In regularity (financial) audit and in other types of audit when applicable, auditors should  analyse the financial statements to establish whether acceptable accounting    standards for financial reporting and disclosure are complied with. Analysis of financial statements should be performed to such a degree that a rational basis is obtained to express an opinion on financial statements.

Action on Audit Reports

 The scrutiny of the Annual Accounts and the Audit Reports thereon by the Parliament as a whole would be an arduous task, considering their diverse and specialised nature, besides imposing excessive demands on the limited time available to the Parliament for discussion of issues of national importance. Therefore the Parliament and the State Legislatures have, for this purpose, constituted specialized Committees like the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU), to which these audit Reports and Annual Accounts automatically stand referred.

Public Accounts Committee

The Public Accounts Committee satisfies itself:-

 a.that the moneys (shown in the accounts) were disbursed legally on the service or     purpose to which they were applied.

 b.that the expenditure was authorised.

 c.that re-appropriation (i.e. distribution of funds.

It is also the duty of the PAC to examine the statement of accounts of autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, the audit of which is conducted by the Comptroller & Auditor General either under the directions of the President or by a Statute of Parliament.

Committee on Public Undertakings

The Committee on Public Undertakings exercises the same financial control on the public sector undertakings as the Public Accounts Committee exercises over the functioning of the Government Departments. The functions of the Committee are:-

 a.to examine the reports and accounts of public undertakings.

 b.to examine the reports of the Comptroller & Auditor General on public undertakings.

 c.to examine the efficiency of public undertakings and to see whether they are being     managed in accordance with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices. 

The examination of public enterprises by the Committee takes the form of comprehensive appraisal or evaluation of performance of the undertaking. It involves a thorough examination,including evaluation of the policies, programmes and financial working of the undertaking.

The objective of the Financial Committees, in doing so, is not to focus only on the individual irregularity, but on the defects in the system which led to such irregularity, and the need for correction of such systems and procedures.

CAG’s Role

The Comptroller & Auditor General of India plays a key role in the functioning of the financial committees of Parliament and the State Legislatures. He has come to be recognised as a ‘friend, philosopher and guide’ of the Committee. His Reports generally form the basis of the Committees’ working, although they are not precluded from examining issues not brought out in his Reports. He scrutinises the notes which the Ministries submit to the Committees and helps the Committees to check the correctness submit to the Committees and helps the Committees to check the correctness of facts and figures in their draft reports.

The Financial Committees present their Report to the Parliament/ State Legislature with their observations and recommendations. The various Ministries / Department of the Government are required to inform the Committees of the action taken by them on the recommendations of the Committees (which are generally accepted) and the Committees present Action Taken Reports to Parliament / Legislature.

In respect of those cases in Audit Reports, which could not be discussed in detail by the Committees, written answers are obtained from the Department / Ministry concerned and are sometimes incorporated in the Reports presented to the Parliament / State Legislature. This ensures that the audit Reports are not taken lightly by the Government, even if the entire report is not deliberated upon by the Committee.

UNION AUDIT REPORTS

The Union Audit Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, contain the findings of transaction audit and performance audit in the areas of:

  • Civil Audit
  • Audit of Autonomous Bodies
  • Defense Services
  • Railways
  • Receipts of the Government
  • Central Commercial

The Audit of the CAG is bifurcated into two streams namely Performance Audit and Regularity (Compliance) Audit.

 

While audit of the Civil Departments, Railways and Defense are conducted as per the direct mandate in the constitution and relevant provisions of the DPC Act, the Commercial Audit is conducted under the provisions of Company Act. Autonomous Bodies are audited as per the mandate in the act establishing the body.

 

The reports of the CAG are deliberated upon by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the parliament, save the commercial reports which are examined by the Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU).

What is National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)

About the National Counterterrorism Center

Liberty Crossing The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was established by Presidential Executive Order 13354 in August 2004, and codified by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA). NCTC implements a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission: “Breaking the older mold of national government organizations, this NCTC should be a center for joint operational planning and joint intelligence, staffed by personnel from the various agencies.”1 See Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, at p. 403.

The Director of NCTC is a Deputy Secretary-equivalent with a unique, dual line of reporting: (1) to the President regarding Executive branch-wide counterterrorism planning, and (2) to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) regarding intelligence matters. NCTC follows the policy direction of the President, and National and Homeland Security Councils.

NCTC is staffed by more than 500 personnel from more than 16 departments and agencies (approximately 60 percent of whom are detailed to NCTC). NCTC is organizationally part of the ODNI.

NCTC’s core missions are derived primarily from IRTPA, as supplemented by other statutes, Executive Orders, and Intelligence Community Directives.2 NCTC’s mission statement succinctly summarizes its key responsibilities and value-added contributions: “Lead our nation’s effort to combat terrorism at home and abroad by analyzing the threat, sharing that information with our partners, and integrating all instruments of national power to ensure unity of effort.”

“Analyzing the Threat”
By law, NCTC serves as the primary organization in the United States Government (USG) for integrating and analyzing all intelligence pertaining to counterterrorism (except for information pertaining exclusively to domestic terrorism).

NCTC integrates foreign and domestic analysis from across the Intelligence Community (IC) and produces a wide-range of detailed assessments designed to support senior policymakers and other members of the policy, intelligence, law enforcement, defense, homeland security, and foreign affairs communities. Prime examples of NCTC analytic products include items for the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) and the daily National Terrorism Bulletin (NTB). NCTC is also the central player in the ODNI’s Homeland Threat Task Force, which orchestrates interagency collaboration and keeps senior policymakers informed about threats to the Homeland via a weekly update.

NCTC leads the IC in providing expertise and analysis of key terrorism-related issues, with immediate and far-reaching impact. For example, NCTC’s Radicalization and Extremist Messaging Group leads the IC’s efforts on radicalization issues. NCTC’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Counterterrorism Group pools scarce analytical, subject matter, and scientific expertise from NCTC and CIA on these critical issues.

NCTC also evaluates the quality of CT analytic production, the training of analysts working CT, and the strengths and weaknesses of the CT analytic workforce. NCTC created the Analytic Framework for Counterterrorism, aimed at reducing redundancy of effort by delineating the roles of the IC’s various CT analytic components. NCTC also created a working group for alternative analysis to help improve the overall rigor and quality of CT analysis.

“Sharing that Information”
By law, NCTC serves as the USG’s central and shared knowledge bank on known and suspected terrorists and international terror groups. NCTC also provides USG agencies with the terrorism intelligence analysis and other information they need to fulfill their missions. NCTC collocates more than 30 intelligence, military, law enforcement and homeland security networks under one roof to facilitate robust information sharing. NCTC is a model of interagency information sharing.

Through the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), NCTC maintains a consolidated repository of information on international terrorist identities and provides the authoritative database supporting the Terrorist Screening Center and the USG’s watchlisting system. The Center also produces NCTC Online (NOL) and NCTC Online CURRENT, classified websites that make CT products and articles available to users across approximately 75 USG agencies, departments, military services and major commands. NCTC’s Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG) facilitates information sharing between the IC and State, Local, Tribal, and Private partners – in coordination with DHS, FBI, and other members of the ITACG Advisory Council.

NCTC also provides the CT community with 24/7 situational awareness, terrorism threat reporting, and incident information tracking. NCTC hosts three daily secure video teleconferences (SVTC) and maintains constant voice and electronic contact with major Intelligence and CT Community players and foreign partners.

“Integrating All Instruments of National Power”
By law, NCTC conducts strategic operational planning for CT activities across the USG, integrating all instruments of national power, including diplomatic, financial, military, intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement to ensure unity of effort. NCTC ensures effective integration of CT plans and synchronization of operations across more than 20 government departments and agencies engaged in the War on Terror, through a single and truly joint planning process.

NCTC’s planning efforts include broad, strategic plans such as the landmark National Implementation Plan for the War on Terror (NIP). First approved by the President in June 2006 and then again in September 2008, the NIP is the USG’s comprehensive and evolving strategic plan to implement national CT priorities into concerted interagency action.

NCTC also prepares far more granular, targeted action plans to ensure integration, coordination, and synchronization on key issues, such as countering violent extremism, terrorist use of the internet, terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction, and counter-options (after an attack). NCTC also leads Interagency Task Forces designed to analyze, monitor, and disrupt potential terrorist attacks.

NCTC assigns roles and responsibilities to departments and agencies as part of its strategic planning duties, but NCTC does not direct the execution of any resulting operations.

NCTC monitors the alignment of all CT resources against the NIP and provides advice and recommendations to policy officials to enhance mission success.

The Director of NCTC is also the CT Mission Manager for the IC, per DNI directive3. Thus implementing a key recommendation of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. In that role, NCTC leads the CT community in identifying critical intelligence problems, key knowledge gaps, and major resource constraints. NCTC also created the CT Intelligence Plan (CTIP) to translate the NIP and the National Intelligence Strategy into a common set of priority activities for the IC, and to establish procedures for assessing how the IC is performing against those objectives.

NCTC, in partnership with NSC and HSC, is leading reform of CT policy architecture to streamline policymaking and clarify missions.