(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
If you were to ask the majority of this country if they want “One Nation, One Poll” the answer would be an overwhelming yes.
People might not have the figures–Rs 6,000 crores on exchequer alone in recent Lok Sabha Polls and many times more by parties and candidates; Or the numbers on manpower—one assembly seat in Lucknow alone has over 300 polling booths and engages 2000 men on polling day; Or the imagination to guess how many lakhs of police, para-military forces, bureaucracy are pressed into service. Yet, they can sense a gap in their daily lives like a drawn tooth.
The erudites amongst us offer debating points we exhale in the musty air of a bar amidst gathered gentry. So Akhilesh Mishra tells us in Indian Express how it affects Rajya Sabha; how parties can make outlandish promises (Like Arvind Kejriwal on free Metro for women); how at least 15 state elections anyway fall more within a year either side of a Lok Sabha poll.
So what’s the problem?
The likes of Congress, TMC, BSP, SP, AAP, DMK, RJD, AIMIM etc sure have a problem for they stayed away from the all-party meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon on Wednesday. They saw it as an attack on the Constitution, the “federal” character of our set-up; and blurring the local and national issues which could affect a voter’s judgment.
All this is humbug. Indian voters know how to choose in a state or in a Lok Sabha elections. Constitution is for people of India and any measure which is good for them, must come into force. Such Constitutional changes could be made between ad breaks on television. IT TAKES NOTHING. As for the scaremongering on President’s Rule by stealth; what-if-government-in-Centre falls, these are easily fixable issues: E.g get the no-confidence-motion out of the way at the start of a new Parliament. And if I may ask how it has helped democracy when sworn enemies—Congress and JD (S)—joined hands only to usurp Karnataka last year?
The reason likes of BSP or SP, Congress or RJD, TMC or DMK or AIMIM don’t want “One Nation, One Poll” is caste and religion. With national issues delinked, the ones of dalits vs suvarans (upper caste); Muslims vs Hindus; Tamil or Bengali asmita easily gain currency. Narrow parochial issues keep these parties relevant. The faces of Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and Asaduddin Owaisi remain in circulation. The nation loses its steam on the tracks of targeted growth.
Just recall the incidents or speeches which happen around state polls. In Delhi, it was fake attack on churches in 2015, Una incident in Gujarat, Bheema Koregaon in Maharashtra: All were intended to sharpen the caste and religious divide. “Ramzaade” vs “haraamzaade” speeches surface. Quota politics come into play. What room is there left to discuss developmental issues threadbare?
In a paper to Niti Aayog last year, Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai offered an easy way out to the cacophony of whether state assemblies could be dramatically reduced or enlarged so as it coincides with the Lok Sabha polls. They pointed out that 15 state elections anyway fall in and around Lok Sabha dates. The remaining states could be bunched together around the mid-way mark of a Lok Sabha term. So, one Lok Sabha elections and two for state assemblies in a span of five years, is the way forward.
It’s not to say the road ahead is easy. For, there is also this matter of panchayat elections and its 30 lakh representatives. The matter of getting all political parties aboard.
But then so was the issue with GST. It’s a reality now. There are examples galore around the world where simultaneous elections are held, including in US where a voter not only chooses his President but also 20 different representatives on a single ballot. Sweden has one election and so is the case with South Africa.
The fact is, in early years of Republic of India, elections were held simultaneously in 1951, 1957, 1962 and 1967. It fell into abeyance because assemblies began getting dissolved due to Centre’s interference. The dissolution of Lok Sabha in 1970 was the final nail which broke up the elections in India.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Millions of Indians today would term West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is arrogant. Or why she wouldn’t pick up the phone calls from Prime Minister Narendra Modi or returns call to state governor Keshari Nath Tripathi when crisis is as grave as Cyclone Fani or the state is sitting on a time-bomb on doctors’ agitation?
Tens and thousands of us would also call “Didi” a fascist. Or why she would jump out of her caravan and confront people who are merely chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, a matter of greeting among India’s masses? Or why she would tell the agitating doctors to return to work within four hours or face the consequences?
Lakhs of Indians won’t deny either that she is communal in her approach, favouring Muslims and running down Hindus. Or why she would change “ramdhenu” with “rangdhenu” in textbooks? Pass the stricture that idol immersion in Durga Puja must be postponed on Muharram day?
An overwhelming numbers of us would also term Mamata Banerjee as an autocrat. Or why she would deny prominent opposition leaders, from Amit Shah to Yogi Adityanath, from landing on her turf for election rallies? Tear up the posters of BJP’s rallies? Pull up custom officials who have the temerity to stop her relatives at the airport?
A still bigger number of us would’ve no doubt that the only news emerging from West Bengal for so many days is violence. Mamata Banerjee and her TMC must take the blame for violent politics. So rampant is the politics of blood that 34% of seats in Panchayat elections go uncontested. Or the lynchings which takes place regularly on Bengal’s streets.
None of us would also deny that Mamata Banerjee is undemocractic and unconstitutional. People (Priyanka Sharma) are jailed for posting memes on whatsapp; professors (Rakesh Sinha) is booked for inciting violence when all he has done is to visit a temple with his mother.
Millions would nod in affirmative that Mamata Banerjee resembles a dictator in Bengal. The bureaucracy is under her thumbs; police is an extension for her coercive politics and is shielded from investigations by Central agencies. She even resists interventions of Supreme Court.
Millions would’ve also heard about the ongoing Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley scams and the charges that Mamata Banerjee is corrupt. The corruption charges have engulfed her TMC party.
All too often we hear that terror network and jihadi forces are rampant in West Bengal. That terror-network Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen has taken roots in the state. The news that radicalization has taken place in madarsas in districts such as Bardhaman. That the dreaded Islamic State (IS) has named a new “emir” in West Bengal. How would Mamata Banerjee deny the allegation that she is a “secessionist” and one of India’s “tukde-tukde”gang?
Now please put all these adjectives together: arrogant, fascist, communal, autocrat, violent, undemocratic, unconstitutional, dictator, corrupt etc together. Name one person who has been called all this by India’s ecosystem in the last five years: Yes, you are right—Narendra Modi. And I challenge you to show one instance in our mainstream English media—Lutyens Media—who has ever accused Mamata Banerjee of such traits.
What is an ecosystem? Ecosystem isn’t the government in power. Ecoystem is a network of politicians, media, academicians, lawyers, bureaucrats, institutional heads, cultural czars etc who work in unison to push a particular agenda.
So think about the politicians (such as Rahul Gandhi, Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati etc), journalists (Shekhar Gupta, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Barkha Dutt etc), laywers (Prashant Bhushan etc), academicians (Prof. Ram Chandra Guha, Faizan Mustafa, Rajmohan Gandhi etc) institutional heads (former Election Commissioners, Police Commissioners, Ex Chief Justices of India who occupy the edit pages), cultural czars (Javed Akhtar, Kamal Haasan etc) etc. Look at their twitter timelines to show me if they’ve ever accused Mamata Banerjee of being communal, autocrat, corrupt or instigating lynchings etc. How is that when rest of India has almost a similar opinion on Mamata Banerjee, these biggies who occupy our ears, eyes and minds have a completely different opinion?
It is easy for India’s ecosystem to do whataboutery. So when violence happens in Bengal, it’s both TMC and BJP who are guilty. If provocation happens, both TMC and BJP are at fault. If communal issues are flaring up, both TMC and BJP must take the blame.
But now the eco-system is in a bind. The doctors’ agitation can’t be blamed on BJP. It’s people who are rising up against Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in the state of Bengal. You can resort to propaganda against RSS and BJP, weave themes on lynchings and communalism but how do you face up to the wrath of millions. It’s the people of India who stood up to the ecosystem and showed it the mirror in the 2019 General Polls. It’s the people who are again exposing this network in rapidly deteriorating West Bengal.
As they say, you can fool some of the people all the time. But you can’t fool all the people all the time.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised “sabka vishwas(everyone’s trust)”in his oath ceremony. Within a fortnight his government has announced 5-crore scholarships—50% reserved for girl students—over the next five years. There are “bridge courses” for drop-outs. Madarsa teachers are to be imparted modern, scientific training.
It’s the most significant decision taken in favour of Muslims—who are main minority–in independent India. Yet Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Asaduddin Owaisi, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti—whose lifeline is Muslim votes—aren’t taking note. Our English mainstream media only took perfunctory note. The Hindu ignored the news completely.
The basic primary education of Muslims in India is distributed between madarsas, maktabs (religious schools of mosques) and Urdu-medium schools, the last one accounting for a whopping 50% of Muslim students. The drop-outs are alarming in higher education: It’s ratio was only 4-5 per cent in 2017-2018, that too largely due to Muslim-dominated institutions such as Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). There are only 4.9% teachers from the community in higher education.
When education doesn’t enter from the front door, jobs fly out of windows. Government jobs, public sector banks, public sector undertakings, corporate India all become out of bounds. Without jobs, living standards, health, control-on-population suffer. The downward spiral continues generation after generation.
What have the governments done to alleviate the educational malaise of Muslims in India? Under the Congress regime various exercises were taken: Gopal Singh Minority Panel Report (1983), National Sample Survey report, Programme of Action under the New Education Policy (1986), revised NEP (1992), Sachar Committee Report (2006) etc. But all these remained on files only: Nothing happened; the stock of Muslims remained in a free fall.
Congress isn’t alone. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is no better. In his nearly five-years of term in Delhi, nothing has materially changed for Muslims. No growth in jobs in Delhi Metro, Delhi Police, fire department etc. All these parties do is to sell hope and fear to Muslims: a bait which nearly always worked.
Let’s look at Sachar Committee Report. In 2004 General Polls, Congress had 141 seats to BJP’s 138—an advantage of a mere three seats. The coalition politics seated Congress in the Centre. An important input wasn’t lost on Congress: Muslim voters had played a major role in its victory. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh didn’t mind making a shocking communal statement: Muslims have the first right on India’s resources. Sachar Committee was formed within months to pin down the reasons and draw a roadmap for socio-economic growth of Muslims. Again, all on paper with little intent.
These are the same forces who stoked Muslims’ fears on Modi’s arrival at the helm. Can’t you see there is no Muslim candidates in polls? Don’t you remember Gujarat riots? What about Babri Masjid? Why there are no Iftar parties thrown by BJP? Every stray lynching, every stray remark was woven into the narrative.
Against this optics, the substantive proof of work on the ground was ignored. One isn’t even talking the obvious of gas, toilets, houses, health, loan benefits etc. Or the raised Haj subsidy. That hike in aids to educational institutions is meaty. Former Chancellor Zafar Sareshwala of Maulana Azad Urdu National University says that Modi government even released the withheld aid of UPA government with a substantial hike of its own. The ramped up budget of Minority Affairs ministry is eye-popping. That jobs for Muslims in Central government have doubled in last five years. No Hindu-Muslim riot has happened in Modi era. Why, even RSS is hosting Eid-Milan parties.
Triple Talaq Bill is a symbolic, if not a seminal measure in freeing one half of Muslims into shaping the growth of their family, society and nation. The corollary of lower population is an obvious benefit of an educated, empowered women force. Modi government is seeking the three Es (Education, Employment, Empowerment) for millions of Muslims in India.
This is a good moment for Muslims in India to take stock of reality on ground: (a) There is no protest from so-called Hindutva hardliners on Modi government’s latest measure in favour of Muslims; (b) On the other hand, none of their so-called “saviours” have applauded this boon to their community. A hard-look would show them who stand for Progress and who for Propaganda.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Forgive me Chandrababu Naidu. The supremo of Telugu Desam Party. I am laughing. I mean the Modi-Opposition which you cultivated with such photo-ops in Lutyens Media is toying with the idea of inviting your sworn enemy YSR Jaganmohan Reddy in the “opposition conclave” on Friday.
The hobnobbing of Opposition is aimed at how to maximize the combined strength of 121 MPs from the 2019 polls and create roadblocks for Modi in the parliament. There is DMK of course, and TMC of Mamata’s backyard, and Congress with its grand tally of 52 MPs. Naidu too has been invited along with his three MPs. But so shredded is his reputation that hissing is on for Jagan Reddy even if Naidu is “uncomfortable” in sharing the space with his arch rival.
Jagan Reddy, like his father, is a nightmare for Naidu. Reddy wasn’t even born when Naidu was dabbling in politics. First his father, Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy decimated Naidu in 2004 and 2009 General Elections, winning 29 and 33 seats out of 42 in undivided Andhra Pradesh, leaving only the crumbs of five and six seats for the TDP. Reddy Sr. died in a helicopter accident and his removal did help Naidu. But not for long. In the 2019 General Elections, Reddy Jr. drove TDP into ground by winning 22 out of 25 seats. The simultaneous Assembly elections were no better and Reddy’s party, YSRCP, were equally merciless. It bagged 151 seats in the 175-member house. TDP took the leftover of 23 seats. No wonder, Naidu couldn’t bring himself to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Jagan Reddy this afternoon.
But Naidu has nobody but himself to blame. He allied himself with Congress which is seen in Andhra Pradesh as the party that broke up their state into two parts, Telangana being the other. Naidu didn’t learn from the lessons of Telangana Assembly elections last year where he butted in, in alliance with Congress when the need was to recover the lost ground in his home state. The results were a nightmare for him and his party: K. Chandrashekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) bagged 88 out of 119 seats in the assembly. TDP’s tally? Just two.
But Naidu was unrepentant. He went ahead for a national alliance with Congress though for the state polls, he fought on his own. The results have been similarly disastrous. The personal setback was best manifested in the defeat of Nara Lokesh, his son, from the Mangalagiri assembly constituency.
In the national consciousness, Chandrababu Naidu was seen as a tech-savy leader who gave Andhra Pradesh a global image in the Silicon Valley he helped create in Hyderabad; never mind the local whisper of him being most corrupt and arrogant.
Then he began hogging space on front pages of national English mainstream media in the run-up to 2019 Elections. One day he was in Delhi visiting Kejriwal at the latter’s residence; other day he was in Kolkata in successfully persuading Mamata Banerjee to break her sham fast. There were rallies in Vizag with the two leaders. One day Naidu was offering help on Fani cyclone to Naveen Patnaik in Odisha; other day he was in UP, paying courtesy visits to Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati. Those numerous trips to Rashtrapati Bhavan with his petitions. Catching up with Rahul Gandhi all too often.
PR machinery was in full swing. Naidu, Naidu everywhere. His trademark safari suit, the wiry frame of an Abraham Lincoln, trimmed salt and pepper beard, no wonder Naidu saw a Moses in himself who would have the entire opposition wading into a sea behind him. He would lead India into a vision of his own, Modi would be driven out in the Bay of Bengal, history would remember him as a saviour.
Unfortunately, all of it was a bluff. We knew it from the day he threw a tantrum against BJP/NDA for not giving Andhra Pradesh the “special status.” The welfare of his state was never on his mind: after all BJP was giving the state much more than AP would’ve got with the “special status.” But Naidu was a clever fox, wasn’t he. He wanted to take the steam out of Jagan Reddy’s campaign for “special status.” Hijack his rival’s agenda. Turn his medicine into a poison. Ready to rule Andhra, and the country, till the sun sets on him.
There is little that differentiates delusion from senility. Cultivating an image is one thing, but believing in it is tragic. (yes, yes, yes, I also have Navjot Singh Sidhu in mind as I write this). Naidu’s ego must have been fed by the opponents around him. Wasn’t 2014 too recent when he won 117 seats in the assembly; there were as many as 17 members of his party in the Parliament. He saw himself as a kingmaker. One who could make Narendra Modi dance to his tune.
We all know how the cookie crumbled. Modi didn’t fall for Naidu’s blackmail. No concession on “special status.” You want to leave NDA, please go ahead. Naidu was caught in his own trap. Ominously Amit Shah declared two months before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls: Naidu would be a fool if he believed he would be welcomed back in the fold.
Now Naidu has been hung out to dry. He is about to turn 70. Life and energy are in its final phase. Humiliations are piling in. It looks a sorry end for him; like he inflicted on his father-in-law NT Rama Rao who had trusted him with his daughter and the reins of his party. (In his last interview, NT Rama Rao compared himself to Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who had been imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb, in this case Chandrababu Naidu).
History often has a tragic way of repeating itself.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s very disturbing that a number of chief ministers are skipping the oath-taking ceremony of Narendra Modi’s second tenure at Rashtrapati Bhavan this evening (May 30, 2019).
Out of 29 states in the Indian Union, the chief ministers of West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Odisha have decided to skip the events. That’s combined representatives of 32 crores in India’s total population of 1.3 billion people, or quarter of Indian citizens.
Some have cited prior engagements (Kamal Nath, Bhupesh Baghel), some have forwarded no reason (Ashok Gehlot, Capt. Amrinder Singh) while one, Mamata Banerjee, typically is her churlish self. (Pinaryi Vijayan of Kerala is no longer CM of Kerala but he too is abstaining).
Mamata first agreed and then declined at the last minute to be in the ceremony in protest to the invitations being sent to kin of 54 murdered BJP workers in her state. That’s how her reasoning went in a tweet:
“I am seeing media reports that BJP are claiming 54 people have been murdered in political violence in Bengal. This is completely untrue…an opportunity (for BJP) to settle political scores. Please excuse me.”
Let’s first get this out of the way before we ponder the larger issue involved in opposition leaders boycotting the oath ceremony. Short that her memory is, Mamata Banerjee doesn’t remember May 20, 2011 when she first took the oath as chief minister of Bengal with the families of Nandigram and Singur victims in tow in Kolkata. She had then accused the outgoing Left Front of letting loose a reign of terror. It’s also worth reminding her—all liars deserve be shown the mirror—that outgoing chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who she had accused of ordering the killings, attended Banerjee’s oath-taking ceremony along with Left Front’s chairman, Biman Bose.
Now to the larger issue. We all remember how Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed the Central Hall of Parliament after his stunning sweep in the 17th Lok Sabha last week. He had spoken about NARA (National Ambition Regional Aspirations). It was a commitment to nurture regional aspirations. It was a commitment to India’s Constitution.
India’s Constitution has laid out a federal structure for the Indian government. It’s a “Union of States.” Part XI of the Indian Constitution defines the distribution of legislative, administrative and executive powers between the Union/Federal/Central governments and the states of India. The legislative powers come under a Union List, a State List and a Concurrent list.
Scan the list of powers distributed between the Union an States and you would’ve an idea of the powers—and responsibility–that Constitution bestows on Indian states. From law and order, police force, healthcare, land policy, electricity, transport, village administration etc, the States are powerful to the extent that they could be only over-ruled by two-third majority vote in Rajya Sabha. But for issues of national importance, of the integrity and unity of India—defence, foreign affairs, railways and communication etc—states are almost autonomous.
There is no prize for second-guessing why the reigning/outgoing chief ministers are boycotting the oath-taking ceremony. Mamata is wobbling (23 in 42 Bengal); Kamal Nath (1 in 29 in Madhya Pradesh), Ashok Gehlot (0 in 25 of Rajasthan), Baghel (3 in 11 in Chattisgarh) lay mangled as is Pinaryi Vijayan of CPIM (1 out of 19 in Kerala). Capt. Amrinder Singh couldn’t have fallen out of his party Congress’ line. Naveen Patnaik (BJD) in Odisha has just reaped the rewards of staying aloof and becoming the chief minister for the fifth time.
While Modi could rise about the ephemeral matter of electoral politics and give a call for national unity, where different states of different caste and colour; majority and minority; rub shoulders together and look at the larger goal of India’s growth, the actions of recalcitrant opposition speaks of the personal nature of their politics, self-serving where their state and the nation is never a priority. This after the country has moved in the new direction of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The fractious nature of India’s opposition isn’t good for its people. We all know how schemes such as Swachh Bharat, Ayushman Bharat, Ujjwala Yojana, Awas Yojana etc were impeded by these state satraps. It didn’t help the last man in the queue of poor. The masses, in turn, exacted their revenge in the 2019 General Elections. But then these anti-people chief ministers clearly are beyond repairs. It’s not good for the people, state or the nation.
(P.S: We are glad that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are attending the oath-ceremony. So is Arvind Kejriwal. I am curious on the likes of Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Asaduddin Owaisi or Chandrababu Naidu. Have then been invited? Perhaps no for they don’t have the locus standi to appear in the august gathering).
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Congress has made a big mistake by trying to swim ashore for 2024 on the shoulders of Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi stays as Congress president when his party lost 170 out of 180 seats it was in a direct contest against the BJP in 2019 General Elections.
In the Hindi heartland where it has state governments, it bagged none in Rajasthan, one in Madhya Pradesh and two in Chattisgarh.
Flushed down the drain in 18 states.
A sorry two in Uttar Pradesh.
Most of its biggies—Jyotiraditya Scindia, Salman Khurshid, Shiela Dikshit, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Harish Rawat, Digvijay Singh, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Veerapan Moily, Mallikarjun Kharge—cast aside as garbage.
Even Gandhi himself locked out of doors of Amethi.
On Saturday, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) prostrated at the feet of Rahul Gandhi and vowed rather the dust gathers over them than Gandhi scion walk s out of the room. A.K. Antony didn’t “agree that it was a disastrous performance! P. Chidambaram became emotional that his Tamil Nadu and South in general could feel betrayed; and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who history would remember less as an economist and more as a boot-licker (sorry I can’t find any other apt adjective), urged Gandhi not to make a hasty decision.
Today, you ask people of India, even those within the Congress fold, and 9 out of 10 would say Rahul Gandhi must go. We don’t even need to bother—the 2019 verdict says it. Only 54 lakh votes in Uttar Pradesh which Gandhis call their home, say it (damn, they couldn’t beat even Apna Dal). Allies like Jignesh Mewani and Chandrashekhar Azad and not Mamata, Akhilesh or Mayawati say it. But the CWC is the presiding deity. They alone can blow the conch. They alone distribute the prasada (prayer-sweets).
Think about it. Why would Rahul Gandhi and all the President’s Men (read CWC) act as a coterie? I mean quite a few of them have been defence, finance or home ministers of this country. They know they are an object of derision in the country. Know that the party is on reed sticks in the high tide of times. Know that it’s on way to becoming irrelevant in Indian politics. Why then stick to the man who symbolizes everything which is bad for the Congress?
The answer is simple. Survival. Not of the Congress or the Country but self. Quite a few are on bail. Sons and son-in-laws are a call away from lockups. Together they could at least be heard. The Congress ecosystem would at least give them space in compromised Lutyens Media. Without Rahul or Priyanka or Sonia, who do you think would reserve front page for Anand Sharma or Ghulam Nabi Azad? How would P. Chidambaram have his column in Indian Express? Who would hear to their swagger on “saving democracy” or “freedom of speech”? Where would they find favourable judges or bureaucrats? Who would rustle up mombati-gangs or award-vapsi brigade?
Let’s look at the CWC composition. It has 25 members, three being Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul himself. Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Ambika Soni etc are hardly credible. You wouldn’t have heard of Avinash Pande or Dipak Babaria. Have you? Ok so what about Gaikhangam or Tamradhwaj Sahu? Congress could call it CWC, India views it as rubber-stamp.
The only people rejoicing in Rahul Gandhi staying put must be Lutyens Media. They need Gandhis for survival. Some of you would jump on the names of Shekhar Gupta or Sagarika Ghose; Rajdeep Sardesai or Barkha Dutt; Ravish Kumar or Vir Sanghvi etc. But singling them out is unfair. It’s the ecosystem, the filth which breeds fleas, pests and cockroaches.
That’s why I feel we would only get more of 2014-2019 in the next five years. A floating Rahul Gandhi is good for vermins and bugs. Be prepared to read the same muck in your newspapers. As long as you buy the newspaper which has Rahul Gandhi on its front page every day, this fraud would survive. When you call them out, Rahul Gandhi would lose his spell over his men. India can then attend to its business.
Think about it.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, “bua” and “babua”, haven’t found their voice since Exit Polls. Mayawati hasn’t tweeted once; Akhilesh has tweeted only twice – that too no words only photo-ops with AAP and BSP leaders.
That’s unusual silence from two biggies of Uttar Pradesh. I mean for nearly two decades, it was baton-passing between SP and BSP. Voters elected one and ditched for the other every alternate elections. Both protected their vote-banks fiercely and it always paid dividends, what if it meant contrasting each other as black and white. Sworn enemies.
Then 2017 assembly elections happened. BJP wrested 325 seats. Both BSP and SP decimated; the latter despite holding on to coat-tails of Congress. A new arithmetic was needed. Survival was at stake. What if SP and BSP got together and Congress became cheerleaders? The experiment was pushed through a few bypolls. Gorakhpur, Kairana and Phulpur gave thumbs up. Eureka, the formula to halt BJP juggernaut had been found.
Much of the run-up to 2019 General Elections was SP-BSP projected as polestar to scattered universe of “Mahagathbandhan.” Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, Rahul Gandhi all were in picture but Mayawati-Akhilesh were seen as king-makers, the catalysts. UP gives 80 seats, it was the reason BJP came to power in 2014. If it goes so does Modi. The gang would be back in business.
It was a theory which couldn’t be disputed. Neither by the projection nor by the samples of Kairana, Phulpur etc. The data analyst put the committed voters of SP-BSP in a jar, gave it a good shake, and the numbers appeared twice as many to BJP. Game, set and match over.
This did put fear in the heart of BJP backers. The defeats in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan didn’t help. A storm was gathering. Mayawati and Akhilesh were on Cloud Nine. Everyone else appeared so small. Who needs Congress? The Grand Old Party was willing for pre-poll and post-poll patch up. Wasn’t their desperation a sign that SP-BSP was the fastest gun in the town?
It’s not a postmortem. The results are yet to be out. But the silence in SP, BSP camps are deafening. Political parties don’t need to wait for results. They know the ground reality. They know the truth. SP, BSP know their game is up. The Grand-Idea was a stillborn child. Instead, anger is becoming manifest for close aides –et tu Brutus—are being held out to dry. When that happens, we know Caesar is gone.
If the corollary is right, it means Yadavs votes didn’t get transferred to Mayawati; nor the Dalits went to Akhilesh. Muslims, as per experts’ view, have also voted in a bigger number for BJP. If that’s true, it’s a mirror to the future. If development can override caste-equations, SP and BSP have run out of fuel. Stranded on the highway, far from the decorated platforms and garlands in wait.
Mamata Banerjee perhaps would be subjected to a similar analysis. I have noted she has “Vidyasagar” photo on her twitter homepage. That issue was only trending for 12-16 hours. The moment Narendra Modi announced a bigger, costlier, better bust as a replacement, the matter lost its sting. Its’ now rotting what Mamata is adorning it as her necklace.
That’s why I say all the opposition—SP, BSP, Congress, TMC etc—are so out of touch with reality. So is Lutyens Media. Propaganda have won you elections in the past. Not any longer. Rafale, demonetization, jobs – nothing worked. Photo-ops are treadmill running, rooted to the spot. Get your hand dirty in the soil. Or be ready to be buried underneath it.
(It’s a reprint from NewsBred).
This is a poser for you, readers. Please tell us what’s common amongst Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Chandrababu Naidu, Lalu Yadav, Rabri Devi, Tejaswi Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, Ashutosh, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Barkha Dutt, Shekhar Gupta, Naseeruddin Shah, Aamir Khan, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Swara Bhaskar, Pritish Nandy, Vir Sanghvi, Karan Thapar, Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Raveesh Kumar, Rana Ayoob, Saba Naqvi, Ramachandra Guha, Harsh Mander, Apoorvanand, Faizan Mustafa, Siddharth Vardharajan, Sadanand Dhume, Christophe Jaffrelot etc. Stumped?
Ok, let me try to suggest a few alternatives to you: (a) They all are anti-Modi; (b) They all stand for “freedom of speech”; (c) They all are for democratic, secular values; (d) they all are against totalitarianism; (e) They all are for feminism and stand for equality and dignity of women; (f) for freedom of press; (g) they are all of the above.
One option which you all must have missed and I would name now is that they all are SILENT on arrest of BJP’s young leader Priyanka Sharma by the totalitarian government of Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. Like they were silent when CBI officers were held as hostages; police officers under probe being shielded; violence in elections; opposition candidates unable to file their nomination papers; TMC goons forcing voters favourably in polling booths; arrests on mere chants of “Jai Shri Ram”; scuttling of Ayushman Bharat only because it’s BJP’s scheme; Refusing to pick up Modi’s phone on Fani cyclone because she doesn’t consider PM a PM; refusing to let BJP land helicopters for scheduled rally; preferring Ramzan over Durga Puja; custom officials harassed only because they found 2kg gold in the bags of wife of Mamata’s nephew; number of alleged scams etc.
I cite these instances to show how fake are these forces and the ethical and moral cloak they use to hide their agenda. But at a more urgent level, this has probably encouraged Mamata Banerjee to go berserk. Look at the issue of Priyanka Sharma. She circulates a photo-shopped image of Mamata Banerjee, imposed over a latest picture of actress Priyanka Chopra. A complaint is filed and she is sent to 14-day judicial remedy. Mind you, Priyanka Sharma hasn’t created the image, only shared it. Yet amongst thousands of such shares, she alone has been made to bear the brunt of suppression. The clear corollary is that she is made to suffer because of her political affiliation which Mamata can’t stand.
Yet these forces are silent. Even as the hashtag #ISupportPriyankaSharma on twitter is building up a considerable steam. Twitteratis are so upset that they are changing profile picture with the one which has landed Priyanka Sharma in trouble. “Arrest me, if you must,” is an assertion by many twitter-users under the above hashtag. Yet none of these forces are taking note. A BJP worker is jailed for sharing photo yet it’s Modi who’s a “Hitler.”
Newspapers are wrongly defined as a bridge between people and the government. In Lutyens Media, people don’t matter. Or only a certain kind matter. A Modi is hauled for uttering “Bhrashtachari No.1” while a Mamata Banerjee can get away literally with murder. Remember, she recently said she would put pebbles in soil and present it as rasogoolas so it breaks Modi’s teeth? How did these forces react? Silence.
I remember an instance when RSS ideologue Prof. Rakesh Sinha had a non-bailable warrant issued against him by West Bengal police for posting a picture of his with his mother in Mahakal temple in Ujjain. The West Bengal police acted on the complaint of an individual who felt Sinha’s “provocative” picture spoilt the communal harmony in the state! An aghast Sinha didn’t know what hit him. “I haven’t even visited West Bengal in the last two years,” a baffled Prof. Sinha had said. Where was the outrage from these soldiers of “democracy”?
The sixth phase of 2019 General Elections would be over on Sunday. Election Commission, worried over history of violence in West Bengal during elections, spread the one in the state to all seven phases. Yet, even the cover of central armed forces haven’t been much of a help. In each of the six phases so far, violence has happened; cases of rigging have been reported. Yet the names mentioned above haven’t bat even an eyelid. Shekhar Gupta, head of Editors’ Guild, instead is drooling over Mamata “fighting fire with fire, venom with venom.” A Rajdeep Sardesai is gushing and asking Mamata Banerjee the secret of her energy. (Boost, of course, you terrible).
A real Mamata Banerjee is very different from the Mother Teresa-like sari she wears. Her autobiography conveys the image of a woman who likes to play the victim card. She is deeply insecure about losing control. She is also extremely star-struck. Just look at the number of MPs, MLAs and ministers who are stars and starlets in West Bengal. A whole lot of them were recruited in 2014 General Elections. Many more have been made candidates for the 2019 General Polls. Why, she even got a few from across the border to do her bidding.
This piece is just not about naming game. The most troubling is the intimidation which any Indian citizen in any state could be subjected to by the longest arm of law in West Bengal. Judiciary hasn’t been much of a help. Nor the Centre who many believe should’ve imposed President’s Rule in West Bengal seasons ago. Even Islamic State declaring they have an emir in West Bengal hasn’t brought home the horrible truth that West Bengal could be a beehive of Islamic/Jihadists designs today.
West Bengal is slipping out of Union. All the ideals enshrined in our holy book, the Constitution, are being butchered today. The worry is, we are all being reduced to spectators. Some by design, some by helplessness. Time for a saviour. Maybe, May 23 could throw up light.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda feels Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra would do better than Rahul Gandhi and that’s a serious indictment of Congress party chief who harbours the ambition of becoming Prime Minister after the 2019 General Elections.
“I think Priyanka Gandhi would do better than Rahul Gandhi,” said Gowda in an interview to The Hindu which almost implies that he views the scion of Gandhi dynasty as no challenge to BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gowda was unable to conceal his disappointment at the Congress for failing to build on alliance with regional forces after all of them came on stage at the swearing in ceremony of his son H.D. Kumaraswamy as chief minister of Karnataka eight months ago.
“The Congress could’ve taken forward the unity of the Opposition by organizing rallies with regional parties…It’s been eight months since the national leaders congregated for a show of strength in Bengaluru,” said a dejected Gowda.
Since the heady, though unholy, mix of Congress-JD(S) in Karnataka eight months ago, all Congress has done is to annoy the heavyweight regional satraps of the country. Kumaraswamy threatens to quit every single day; Mayawati loses no opportunity to take a swipe at Rahul Gandhi; Akhilesh Yadav has gone ahead and hugged BSP ignoring Congress completely in the vital state of Uttar Pradesh; Mamata Banerjee is angry that Rahul Gandhi didn’t respond to her calls in Tripura elections; and Arvind Kejriwal wouldn’t have anything to do with Congress in Delhi or Punjab.
“Mayawati sought 10 seats in the recent polls to the Madhya Pradesh assembly. The Congress could’ve conceded the demand. But it didn’t,” said a visibly dejected Gowda.
Such is the hubris of Congress that they stayed aloof and watched Shiv Sena and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan walk over to the BJP corner papering over a potential split.
Surely Rahul Gandhi is aware that a poorer showing than 44 seats in 2014 elections could imply a political oblivion for him. Not only his party but he too faces an uncertain future. Why then is he not tightening his belt and attempting to be in the driver’s seat?
Surely arrogance rather than common sense is getting the better of Rahul Gandhi. These are not the times when regional chiefs would make a beeline to him. Remember, Mamata Banerjee didn’t invite Congress in her mahagathbandhan rally recently. A party fighting for its very survival can’t be so smug. Maybe the wins in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh have caused hubris. The irony is Congress party’s slogan in 2014 elections was: Main nahin, hum (It’s not about me but us).
Let’s not forget the insecurity too which kind of freezes Mr. Gandhi. He doesn’t seem to have done much for the next-generation leaders of Congress. When was the last you heard Sachin Pilot or Jyotiraditya Scindia make a statement on national issues? Mud-slinging on Modi with trumped up issues of Rafale etc has been both a waste of energy and time.
All this indicates that the door on Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister, in case the opposition is able to muster enough seats, is as good as shut. Congress would’ve to do remarkably better and command at least 100 seats in the 2019 elections for regional heavyweights to make space for it. Probably Rahul Gandhi is banking on a similar dream. Possibly his Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) bluster could yield gains though the bad accounting would show up. With shut eyes, you see, one could only go so far.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred)
We are all wary of politicians. Deep in our hearts we know they are populists. All they want is to win elections. They could lie endlessly and shamelessly, as Rahul Gandhi often does, and be sure that their darbaris, such as Lutyens Media, would turn a blind eye. Or if you are a BJP, the issues of corruption and Ram Janmabhoomi temple is only limited to manifestoes. My Hindus vs Your Muslims is only a trap to ensnare us in. Politicians are for polls, not people.
Once in a while, we the people swoon over a Arvind Kejriwal before the unblushing chameleon is found out. These days, it is K. Chandrashekhar Rao of Telangana who is trying to seduce us with the talks of a non-BJP, non-Congress “Federal Front.” His words – “the country needs a new economic and agricultural model” – is meant for us suckers. Don’t we know he is another one perpetuating a dynasty—his son is the next in line to take over Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRP) party; his daughter Kavitha is the only woman minister in the state cabinet. Or that it could be a ploy to split the non-BJP votes in the 2019 General Elections as his detracting neighbour, K. Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh has remonstrated? What does it tell us about TRS when it bonds with a clearly communal AIMIM?
Politicians would splinter and regroup if there is a bigger pie visible in the near horizon. Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav are at each other’s throat one moment and a bua-bhatija the next; Yadavs in Bihar would draw close and apart like recalcitrant lovers who can’t make up their minds; Shiv Sena and BJP would stick under one roof even as they sleep in separate bedrooms; Mamata Banerjee could hold aloft Sonia Gandhi’s arm for photo-op one instant and be disdainful the next; Congress and JD (S) in Karnataka would clasp their daggers even as they plant kisses on the cheeks. It’s difficult to believe BJP and PDP were once allies. Such machinations leave them with little time for people.
Congress is perceived as a pro-Muslim and BJP as pro-Hindu party. It’s a chimera. Congress has realized Muslims would no longer win her elections. Out come the tilaks and janaus –the Shiv bhakts and tomes on why one is a Hindu. BJP is forever repositioning itself as a centre-rightist party. It knows HIndutva could only fetch it 100 seats. The rest of 172 could come, alone or in alliance, from a secularist position only. So no dramatic overtures towards Hindus. Not on Ram Janmabhoomi temple. The end of their term is near but not a line has changed in our outrageous, preposterous academic History textbooks. Leftists wrote them from the pen dipped in poison. The hugely communal governments of Bengal and Kerala ought to have been dismissed a long time ago. All these parties do is to evoke our deepest religious, cultural inclinations and antipathies while maintaining a status quo in terms of action. People are no better than pawns, lifeless objects at their mercy.
Congress is gung-ho about wins in Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It has lost no time in announcing loan-waivers for farmers. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, and now Gujarat, has seen BJP in a similar populism. In some states, the loan waiver amounts to over 30 per cent of the entire state’s budget. Some promises are never meant to be fulfilled —like Punjab on its farmers’ loan-waivers — but they serve the purpose in polls. No thought is given to fiscal prudence. That the banks might be wary of lending loans in future if there is no recovery possible. That even solvent farmers could dip their hands in the loan jar and be unaccountable.
And how do you think Congress is planning to tackle the issue of unemployment? By insisting that locals get the jobs at the cost of migrant UP or Bihar workers. That’s what Kamal Nath has done in Madhya Pradesh even as he himself is an outsider on the Chief Minister’s chair to a local Jyotiraditya Scindia. And that only those industries which employ upwards of 70 per cent of locals would get state assistance. Such juvenile conducts give a damn to what happens to Madhya Pradesh youths when they go out searching for jobs in other provinces. How is it a United India when migrating to other states has the disapproval of ruling politicians?
I have no doubt that India’s politics and politicians aren’t going to change in next 100 years. Part of the reason is Indian constitution’s federated character. States are autonomous to a large extent but for some key matters resting in the hands of the Centre. This is logical given India’s diversity in language, customs and culture. It also gives rise to regional forces who are eyeing a bigger bite at the Centre. Friction is thus ever-present. One-upmanship is never far. Propagandists, faking as journalists, are paid and work overtime to brainwash the people. They are all part of the anti-people, pro-Powers mosaic. You could include academicians and power blocs which come in the garb of NGOs and Human Rights bodies.
Is there anything we the people could do? Are we only meant to wring our hands in despair? Could we take on these behemoths and succeed? I guess we could do a lot. We could support individuals who through their own initiatives are doing good to India and its culture. There are some who are digitizing our Sanskrit scrolls; those who are bringing back our stolen idols and sculptural marvels; those who are immersed in reviving our heritage through articles, magazines, websites, books, lectures, seminars, festivals by highlighting our exceptional dance, music, drama, architectural, handicrafts, sculptural, literature, painting, astronomy, scientific heritage etc.
Minorities are no demons either. Their politicians and religious leaders sure are looking to lead them astray. But most, by and large, want to get on with their lives and survival. Well-meaning groups within minorities could do a lot to win the trust and affection of majority. Just imagine if Muslims as one give way to Hindus’ demand for a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Or take up the task of learning and disseminating information on Sanskrit. Speak and act with affection and sensitivity on cows and beef.
Politicians and propagandists are no good. People are and could be good for the country we call India. We can’t really change our politicians, given their heft, deep roots and deep pockets. But we could show them a united face. Force them to attend to the pressing issues of this country and not resort to cheap and damaging populism. As long as we remain dormant, such politicians would remain our fate.