Category Archives: Editorial

Security breach during the PM’s Punjab visit amounts to breakdown of constitutional machinery in a Congress ruled State

During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Punjab, his security breach in the knowledge of the Punjab Government is unprecedented and a very serious matter that raises a question mark on the system of federal structure of the country. The Congress government of Punjab should apologize to the people of the country for this unconstitutional act. Even the Punjab Chief Minister should own up responsibility and resign.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: The towering statesman

Lalit Shastri

Remembering the great statesman, Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji, on his birth Anniversary. He had launched my book “The Political Mirage – 50 years after India became Republic” at his official residence when he was Prime Minister on 16 June 2000.

There’s a story behind the book launch ceremony. When my book was ready and I had received a rush copy from the printer, I sent it to the PMO with a covering note requesting the Prime Minister to release it. After a few days, I received a response from Kanchan Gupta, a journalist who was at that time the Press Advisor to the PM. He returned the book with the message that the PM is very busy and has no time to release my book. This did not deter me and immediately I picked up the phone and dialled the national BJP President late Kushabhau Thakreji’s office in Delhi. His PA told me that he had just left office and was about to get into his car. I asked him to rush and tell him that Lalit Shastri is on phone and wants to talk something urgent. After a short while Thakreji was at the other end saying: “Bolo Lalit (tell me Lalit). When I told him about my book, which was a collection of my articles published in The Hindu (during the decade of 90s) on transparency, corruption and poor governance during Digvijay rule in MP and the shabby response I had got from Kanchan Gupta, he said I had called at the right time as he was leaving for a meeting with the PM at his official residence. He told me that he would be taking up the matter with Shri Atalji. After a few days, I got a call from the head of Intelligence Bureau in Bhopal telling me that Vajpayeeji would be releasing my book at a special function to be organised at the Bhopal airport during his official visit to the State capital two days later. On the D-day, when the stage was set and people had started gethering at the airport to receive the Pime Minister, news came that Atalji had not taken off from Delhi as he was not well and his programmes for that day had been cancelled. Later when I contacted the IB, they told me that the PM’s programmes, once they get cancelled, automatically do not get rescheduled. For that a fresh request has to be made. I was left wondering, should I start all over again but to my pleasant surprise, only a few days later, I received a message, this time directly from the PMO, telling me that Vajpayeeji would be releasing my book at a special function at his residence on 16 June, 2000. I salute the great statesman.

“There’s always a decision involved in not taking a decision”

Lalit Shastri

Today is former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao’s Death Anniversary.
I recall, once Rao had c ome to attend a function at the stadium at Bhopal’s imposing Lal Parade ground. When he was about to leave, the journalists who were there to cover the event sought a brief question answer session with the Prime Minister. Something that was not on his agenda. But since we were determined, the PM allowed just one question that was shot by me – the man on the spot for The Hindu.
On being asked what he had to say about the charge that he doesn’t take decisions, Rao was quick to respond. He said: “there’s always a decision involved in not taking a decision”. With these words, he made a U-turn, got into his car and sped away but not before I had got my news of the day. It was breaking news with a definite punch.

COVID pandemic: For how long the deprived can stay at home?

Lalit Shastri

Notwithstanding the losses being suffered by Industry, trade and commerce, let’s not turn a blind eye to the fact that all cannot earn their bread staying at home. What about the daily wage earners….what about the marginalised and the deprived who work in the unorganised sector…what about those who lack even the basic modicum of economic security and have never had the saving capacity for the rainy day -forget the prolonged lockdowns… I am talking especially in terms of those who dream of upward mobility and do not figure in the BPL or the below absolute poverty list and do not qualify for ration or other state sponsored welfare subsidies….who will come to their rescue while the COVID tsunami continues to ravage and devour.

Vaccination of all will consume time, in the interim, if the prevailing situation drags on and on and those who have the constitutional authority to prevent chaos, abdicate their responsibility and allow things to drift or come up with nothing more than a knee-jerk response to the evolving situation, that’s already so much out of hand, we will be dealing not only with the ongoing COVID related medical emergency but also a socio-economic crisis and an unprecedented law and order scenario – Watch Out!