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Congress takes all wind out of Opposition sails

A YEAR ago, the Congress party appeared to be scraping the very bottom of the barrel, attempting to put a dolefully positive spin on what can only be described as capitulation.

After getting their noses bloodied through nine days of Parliament stalled over the FDI in retail decision -- with two UPA partners joining in the fray -- the party was forced into an ignominious retreat.

Fast forward to a year later, however, and the situation couldn't be more different. Picking up from reform moves that began in September, the Congress has started to put its foot on the accelerator, with elections on most people's minds. Significantly, the forward- thinking moves have been partnered with clever politicking -- an approach that was conspicuously absent earlier.

Hence, rather than open themselves up to danger and debate, Amir Ajmal Qasab's execution was carried out in complete secrecy, but can now be held up as a forceful talking point on the national security front. Rather than letting TMC chief Mamata Banerjee push them into a corner on FDI, the Congress isolated her to an extent that she has almost become irrelevant -- at least for the Winter Session.

But it is with the Opposition that the Congress' strategists have been most successful.

Already on the back foot because of internal wrangling, the BJP has now lost all the wind in its sails thanks to the dredging up of an old story -- involving PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi appearing to have pressured a CAG auditor -- that appears to turn the 2G spectrum scandal on them.

Significantly, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi -- who has maintained a stoic silence on the 2G issue -- publicly said that the BJP has been " exposed" by this story. Considering the lessons the Congress seems to have learnt from last year's Parliamentary debacle, it is hard to take issue with Ms Gandhi's conclusion, at least on the political front.

Failure of policing

YET ANOTHER pair of acquittals in a terrorism case probed by the Delhi Police reveals the dire state of policing from what is expected to be one of the nation's premier investigating units. The Delhi High Court let off two alleged Jammu Kashmir Islamic Front militants who had been awarded the death penalty by a trial court for what the police claimed was their involvement in the Lajpat Nagar bomb blast in 1996.

The High Court slammed the police for a " slipshod" and " casual" probe, evident from the prosecution lapses, which threw up numerous questions as to the " nature and truthfulness" of the evidence produced. The Delhi Police would do well to pay attention to the court's remark that the state often complains about " unrealistic" standards of proof, when in fact the evidence they had put forward didn't even come up to the " beyond reasonable doubt" bar.

The Delhi Police's inability to carry out a blemishless probe, as the court pointed out, cannot be an excuse to lower standards where lives are at stake. The authorities need to ensure that an agency entrusted with investigating and maintaining the security of the capital approaches important cases such as these without cutting corners, in such a manner that their ultimate conclusions are beyond reproach.

The Board that cried wolf

THE BOARD of Control for Cricket in India has acquired a reputation for being a bit of a bully.

Be it in its interactions with the Indian government or the way it get its way in the world of cricket, the consensus seems to be that it's all down to its financial clout -- after all, the amount of money the Board makes accounts for a majority of the cricket market.

Which is why it comes as a surprise when the BCCI shows kindness towards former cricketers, both international and domestic, and pays them bonuses as long- overdue ' thank yous'. To be fair, it is a welcome move since a lot of former cricketers drifted into anonymity and poverty in the past, and these bonuses can only help.

However, to the cynic, this seems more of a public relations exercise, since some of the cricketers who have been staunch critics of the Board might feel obliged to mellow down. It is unfortunate that a step that could be borne out of the goodness of heart could be looked at this way, but like the boy who cried wolf, the BCCI has brought it upon itself.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Nov 24, 2012

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