Arvind Kejriwal

Gadkari has shown a mirror to We-the-Dodgers of traffic rules

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

A typical day when I hit roads in my car in the Capital. The roads themselves have three types of variations.

One is in the neighbourhood which teems with shops, cows, pedestrians, vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Here you could find our Virat Kohlis and Saina Nahiwals of future under the benign doting glances of their parents on the balcony.  Schools-buses come every afternoon in the weekdays; alien cars make a stop in front of floors which rent young lives that celebrate weekends with booze, music and dance.  Navigation requires yogic-contortions. Baring smiles on ladies who occupy a patch of lane for their daily round of gossip is a daily act. Here are no traffic lights.

Out of my sector are the big, bad roads. Traffic here is always slow, a bane of our municipal corporations who hadn’t accounted for a future of burgeoning cars, lakhs of flats and millions of residents. Now there is a scramble to collect the daily waste, roads dug to wire our homes with competing WiFis, multiple gaps in dividers for vehicles to switch over from left to right and vice-versa.  Not that it matters to we the citizens: We simply opt for wrong side of traffic flow, braving ugly glances, gesticulating hands and showers of curse. How does it matter when a second of time and an ounce of fuel has been successfully saved?

All this before you hit your first traffic lights of the day. They usually take offs half a week. You can’t blame them either: We the traffic are colour-blind to their signals. It’s indiscreet to press on accelerators when it’s Green; It’s too idealistic to stop on Reds unless and until shrivelled beggars and their acrobat sons and daughters fulfil your idea of charity; or desperate men with fake editions of Sidney Sheldon and Irving Stone in your face reflect your educated background.

The next hour is a tribute to your ever-growing vocabulary on abuses. English swear-words are too polite. They are no match to our Punjabi and Hindi lexicons. The worst ones are reserved for the two-wheelers who swarm around your vehicle; darting from left and write, brushing your bumpers, navigating a gap you thought didn’t exist between two cars. Invariably you are forced to move out of right-most lane where the slowest of vehicle is lording over the lane meant for the fastest. There are three-wheelers who couldn’t care less if their iron frames scratch your newly-painted car or goods carriers who move slower than a bicycle and make you swerve wildly to the hail of abuses in the background.

The irony is, all of these troubles could actually be your work to the others. You too jump traffic lights; you too speak on your mobile as you drive; you too drive against the traffic once in a while and it’s been ages since you submitted your car for a pollution check. You too subdue the traffic police with your rank and position if a folded 100-rupee note isn’t a good-enough grease to his palms.

So you too are part of the problem. Other traffic violators have turned you into one. Or it could be you who has turned others into traffic violators. Daily we hit the roads, daily we come back cursing the jungle that is out there on the roads. We are not wrong too when we curse the rogue mobike-rider who you nearly killed or one who ran a scratch across the length of your car. You also swear at the governance which leaves huge potholes and unmanned traffic lights out there. Submerged roads could test out the lungs of your car; or worse you could’ve an idea how a submarine floats under the water.

So, on the terrifying jungle out there which could maim or kill you and your dear ones, all the stakeholders- people, traffic planners and regulators—are guilty. Planners don’t have a vision for future; Enforcers are corrupt and we the people have turned monsters on the road. Like millions of gods we have on different aspects of our lives, we need to invent a traffic Ganesha too for our wellbeing.

Let’s now view the new whip which has angered most in this country. Most of us are either dipping deep into our pockets or crowding the Pollution Control centres on gas stations. We find the measures too draconian what if our registration, insurance and pollution papers are not in order. We aren’t counting the benefits which discipline would bring on our roads and provides umbrella against pelting hefty medical bills.

At the outset there is every reason to applaud the transport minister Nitin Gadkari. He has been vocal on the Motor Vehicles Amendment bill for more than two years. He spent months in consultations with the states before finalizing and winning the ascent from the Parliament. He has shown a bloody-mindedness ignoring populism and discomfiture within his own ranks.

Three states go for elections in next three months and are all headed by BJP—Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. But for Haryana, the other two aren’t willing to face people’s wrath. Gujarat has brought down the fines by almost 90 per cent; Karnataka and Uttarakhand would implement the Act but reduce the fines to just a slap on the wrist. Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura haven’t even implemented it.

Non-BJP states have only poured scorn on the new Motor Vehicles Act. Congress, which runs Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Punjab have put the new Act on hold. Rajasthan would implement it but the fines would be reduced to a minimum.

There is no second-guessing the “non-BJP” states of West Bengal, Kerala and Odisha. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is vocal that she wouldn’t implement the Act and burden her people. Kerala initially implemented the bill but now has put it on hold. The Odisha government of Naveen Patnaik has announced a three-month moratorium on the new Act. Interestingly, the Delhi government of Arvind Kejriwal is all in support of the Act.

It’s clear populism and politics would finally prevail over prudence. Our dharnas, noise and cribs matter to politicians. Asking us to wear seat belts, ride with helmets, follow zebra-crossing is too much of an ask. As it is to the tilted-heads on mobikes, using shoulders to attend calls on their mobile-phones.

Is this the entire truth? Doesn’t a couple with two small children, an old mobike and a few thousand rupees for a salary have a compulsion of their own on roads? Don’t we have faulty traffic signals? Don’t poor people buy a spluttering vehicle for a pittance only because it’s without papers? Don’t we have bus-stops right after the traffic-lights? Does the new Act take into account the last man on the road?

Good governance is one thing; populism is another. One leaves us with standardized conduct out on the streets; the other leaves us with chaos and anarchy. Good governance is never a zero-sum game: A few would always suffer in a society of extreme disparity. We have always longed for a government which governs for the good of the people. Now that we have it, we should strengthen and not weaken it.

 

A chameleon changes less colour than our own Kejriwal

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Let’s take a call on how you define Arvind Kejriwal: Principled or Opportunist? Is he for power or people?

The man who changes more colours than a chameleon does has opted for deep silence on the recent drama surrounding P Chidambaram, former Union minister.  He doesn’t want to be seen supporting an allegedly corrupt politician nor does he want to oppose the Centre which he senses has people’s support.  With Delhi assembly elections less than six months away, Kejriwal has simply ducked.

Kapil Mishra, his former colleague but now with BJP, wasn’t the one to let go the moment.  He tweeted: “Why there is such a deep silence @Arvind Kejriwal.  Are you in a spell of mourning? During Anna (Hazare) agitation, (our own) people had braved batons in front of Chidambaram home…”

But Kejriwal isn’t falling for the bait. He has shown skin as thick as an armour on taunts that he is rebuked almost daily by Congress—be it on gimmicks of buses, electricity waivers, women safety or CCTVs—which also had spurned his advances most disdainfully during the 2019 General Polls. Yet he is not rubbing salt into Congress’ wounds. Interesting!

On Friday, Kejriwal was raving about the Modi government on a public platform in the Capital.  “I hope and I have full faith that in the coming time, Centre will take concrete measures to deal with the (economy) issue…We want to assure that the Delhi government will support and help the Centre in whatever steps they take to fix the economy,” he said.

This is the same Kejriwal who had termed Modi illiterate and questioned if the prime minister understands economy at all!

Kejriwal  and his AAP was one of those Opposition flanks which supported Modi government when it tore down the contentious Article 370 and 35A  and announced the plan to turn Jammu and Kashmir into a Union territory. He probably has the votes of tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits in mind who are settled in his territory. The Janus-faced Kejriwal, at the same time, doesn’t allow police to persecute members of the “Tukde-Tukde gang” like Kanhaiya Kumar and others.

It doesn’t mean that he couldn’t care less about Muslim votes. His analysis of drubbing in the 2019 Polls was that Muslims had ditched the Opposition.  That’s why he didn’t say a word when a Hindu temple was desecrated right under his nose in the Capital. He didn’t say a word in condemnation nor did he visit the vandalized Durga temple in Chandni Chowk (Delhi).  He similarly didn’t vote in favour of Triple Talaq Bill in the Parliament.  Like a clever bania (trader), he must have worked out that less Muslims are bound to feel outraged about decisions on Jammu and Kashmir than the majority who would be hostile if he was to oppose abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.

Kejriwal, side by side, isn’t turning his back on Hindu votes too. He is sponsoring “religious tours” for elderly in the Capital and a willing media, fattened on his advertisements, is completely smitten.

A good gambler never spreads himself thin. You can’t hedge your bets beyond a point. You can’t bet on all blocks on the board and hope to earn profit.  Kejriwal seems unaware of this time-tested logic.

History tells us that good or bad, a leader can’t afford to be neutral on matters which concern people.  Masses aren’t ignorant that this man once opposed corruption and is now seen in embrace with those very forces.  He hauls people to court on corruption and then apologizes to them.  He is one day supporting Congress and venting venom the very next day.  He once chose vilest of terms for prime minister Narendra Modi but now doesn’t throw even a flower in his direction.

More so, all his trusted lieutenants have deserted him. NONE is seen in his corner. You could begin with Shazia Ilmi, Prashant, Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav and peer through the ever expanding list of Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Alka Lamba and now Kapil Mishra.

Kejriwal feels only those who’ve deserted him know his true face. The succession of debacles in elections after elections has probably not made him wiser that people too have seen through his mask. Or maybe he knows it already and hence his zipped mouth.

 

 

Ravish Kumar, Magsaysay award and connecting the dots

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Ravish Kumar has won Magsaysay Awards as once did Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Admiral Ramdas. The common thread is community service and any inference to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is incidental.

The award was established by New York-based Rockfeller Brothers Fund in the memory of Philippines president Ramon Magsaysay who died in a plane crash in 1957.  In 2000, Ford Foundation did its bid by constituting the Ramon Magsaysay Emergent Leadership Award.

It is in interest of Indian citizens to know the background of Rockfeller and Ford Foundations.

In the early 20th century, United States legalized endowed foundations. What was once a missionary activity was now called corporate philanthropy. They were the new lifeguards of Imperialism, or call it Capitalism, under threat from Communism.  Among the first to be set up was Carnegie Corporation, endowed in 1911 by profits from Carnegie Steel Company. The Rockfeller Foundation was endowed in 1914 by JD Rockfeller, founder of Standard Oil Company.

Rockfeller Foundation was the early patron which gave seed money to the United Nations, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  These Foundations had massive resources, all tax-free, with an unrestrained brief:  to turn economic muscle into political, cultural and social capital. Massive funds were not there to raise wages of its workers. It was to turn money into power—to run the world. (So we have Bill Gates controlling health, education and agricultural policies all over the world from seemingly dull occupation of selling software).

By the 1920s, US had begun to swoop on overseas markets and its raw materials. In 1924, the Rockfeller and Carnegie Foundations had created the most powerful foreign policy pressure group—the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), later funded by the Ford Foundation as well.  So far CFR has had two dozen US secretaries of state on its roll. No less than 5 CFR members were in the 1943 steering committee that planned the UN. JD Rockfeller bought the land for UN’s New York headquarters at $8.5 million grant.

Then came the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement to set up a new international monetary system. Now all other currencies were pegged to the value of the US dollar, which, in turn, was pegged to the price of gold. World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) became the checkposts of world’s financial roadways. They demanded Good Governance (as long as they held the strings), Rule of Law (as long as they helped make the laws) and transparent institutions. Ironically, these rules were mandated by two of the most opaque, unaccountable and non-transparent global organizations.  Country after country were cracked open by World Bank for global finance. (A fact:  All dozen presidents of the World Bank since 1946, which has its foot on the throats of Third World governments, have been members of the CFR, barring one.)

The Ford Foundation came into being in 1936. It works in lockstep with US State Department. It is in complete harmony with Bretton Woods philosophy of standardizing business practices and promoting free market.  The Capitalist Order is dressed up in liberal ethos.

It’s with these lenses you need to view the activity of Ford Foundation which has invested tens of millions of dollars in India. Generous aids are given to specific university courses and scholarships. A lot of these funds go to writers, artists, film-makers and activists.  (Again any inference to Award Wapsi gang, List of 49 “eminents”, MeToo movement, dalit scholars and research foundations taking over the edit pages of Lutyens Media is incidental).

These Foundations have made it an art to put their pieces on the chessboard of a society. Elite clubs and think-tanks are formed. Ford Foundation makes no secret of intervening in grassroots political movements as its avowed “goals for the future of mankind.” If your mind is going to Anna Hazare and his sudden centrestage occupation in Indian politics, along with the likes of Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, the inference again is incidental. It would do us no harm though to remember that Kejriwal-Sisodia have publicly conceded of generous grants by Ford Foundation to their NGO in the past.

By the 1950s, the Rockfeller and Ford Foundations were in an overdrive in funding NGOs and educational institutions around the world. They were quasi-extension of the US government to topple democratically-elected governments in Latin America, Iran and Indoensia. The Indonesian students, trained in counter-insurgency by US army, played a critical role in effecting CIA-backed coup in Indonesia in 1965 that brought General Suharto to power. Similarly, eight years later, young Chilean students were trained at the University of Chicago (endowed by JD Rockfeller) to do their bit in the CIA-backed coup that killed Salvador Allende and brought General Pinochet and his reign of murders that lasted 17 years.

Please reflect why Anna Hazare, who calls himself a Gandhian, never said a word against corporate power or privatization. Why India’s corporate media proclaimed him to be the “voice of the people.” Whether the rage against scams was intended to wither away the powers of government and give levers to privatization? It’s worth reminding readers that Anna Hazare in 2008 received a World Bank award for outstanding public service (Any conjuring up image of Ravish Kumar and his Magsaysay Award, again, is incidental).

Or for example how come urban Gender champions and their feminist movements never have a word to say for a lakh-strong Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Saghathan (Revolutionary Adivasi Women’s Association)? Are they afraid of standing up to mining corporations in the Dandakaranya forest? Is this Capitalism and its ugly face which is covered under Liberal ethos, pushed by these Foundations?

These Foundations core philosophy is to prepare an international cadre which could extend Capitalism and the hegemony of the United States. Find natives who once served colonialism and would now do  them. Take over the fields of education, arts and entertainment; extend hold on the minds of masses. What if its costs millions of dollars? Money is useless if it can’t buy global power.

Magsaysay Award to Ravish Kumar is another piece in this chessboard. A brand has been created as a bulwark against India’s cultural resurgence. Watch how Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra are swooning in praise.  The enemy is making moves on all fronts. It is for us to connect the dots and keep fists in front of face.

 

History could remember Modi as one who freed up Indian Muslims

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

What do I tell which all of you already don’t know?

Maybe to my Muslim brethren who fault the Triple Talaq Bill—still not an Act till President Ram Nath Kovind puts his pen to paper– on its (a) criminal; (b) maintenance; (c) interference; and (d) whataboutery aspects that  (i) cruelty against wife is a criminal offence; (ii) maintenance provided for by erring husbands is statutory; (iii) interference citing Islam is neither borne out by Quran nor by practice since most Muslim states, including Pakistan, have outlawed it;  nor (iv)  Hindus or other minorities could escape punishment for cruelty against wife.

Maybe to those who are still smarting at the betrayal of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), along with those avowed champions of “minorities” and “secular values” such as JD(U), TRS, RJD, TDP and NCP that when push came to shove, these parties didn’t want to be seen in the Muslim corner and stand against the overwhelming tide. Parties such as SP and BSP still have nightmares about BJP leading in 385 out of 403 assembly seats and why Muslims are no longer the vote-bank they espoused! Their personal brief honeymoon is over too.

Maybe to those who see Mehbooba Mufti as champion of Islam, a baffling fact that her two PDP members in the Rajya Sabha stayed away from the vote-count even as she kept scare-mongering that BJP was “entering into our (Muslim) homes” using the legislation. Her rival for favours in the Kashmir Valley, Omar Abdullah didn’t miss out in pointing out her double standards even as he himself kept his counsel to himself.

And then you have Arvind Kejriwal who bemoaned the loss of Muslim votes after the 2019 Polls but is now frozen to his spot on the matter of Triple Talaq Bill. This is the man who wants a survey done on government jobs to ascertain the percentage of Muslim employees and whether the low number is evidence of a deep-rooted prejudice by the system.

Maybe to those who know or don’t know the names of the Congressmen who absented themselves (namely, Vivek Tankha, Ranjib Biswal, Mukut Mithi, Pratap Bajwa and Sanjay Sinh), it may come as a surprise that they did so against the express whip of their party to be present in the Rajya Sabha proceedings. Sonia Gandhi and the two apples of her eye: Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra have cloaked themselves from the public scrutiny on Triple Talaq Bill and their writ probably doesn’t run large as it used to.

Today, the husband-wife duo of Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose; Shekhar Gupta and Barkha Dutt are like frogs in the well of silence. Gupta has donned the persona of a Sherlock Holmes as he delves into every grain of coffee that its founder, now unfortunately dead, VG Siddhartha ever managed for his enterprise, Café Coffee Day. Barkha Dutt has worked herself into a lather on the Unnao rape victim.  Sagarika Ghose is just a cryptic “I-don’t-support-Triple-Talaq” while her husband is just an anchor on the subject with no personal opinion. And you thought their calling was upholding “freedom” and “gender justice.”

All of them have been caught in a bind. You stand up for Triple Talaq Bill and you alienate the Muslim community which number over 9 crores. You rail against the Bill and earn the wrath of fair gender and not just of Muslim women.

It’s the larger picture which has left them shaken to the core. An empowered BJP would now find it easier to push for the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.  The hoax of scare-mongering is exposed. BJP, in one stroke, has created millions of extra votes for itself. The Opposition has nothing better than a fig leaf to hide their shame. The injustice of Shah Bano has been righted after a generation’s gap.

Above all, empowering Muslim women could transform the community. It frees them up to express opinion and seek financial security, gain education and pass on the good word to their kids. It loosens the control of Mullahs and Owaisis who exert it through the boardroom of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) or the platforms of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM).

As for Modi, history could judge him as the leader who took the first steps towards emancipation of a community which were led up the garden path by Nehru-Gandhis; Muftis and Abdullahs; Bukharis and Owaisis without deliverance.  This would be the irony of the sweetest kind.

 

Besieged Hindus need a George Soros to break free

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Should we start with the message or the messenger?

Let’s begin with the messenger first. I bet none of you know who are 49 signatories who have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on minority lynchings. It’s not in your newspapers nor in established magazines such as Outlook and India Today.

Just a coincidence? Or a plot?

I somehow dug up the list of 49 eminent personalities. Over 40 are from the state of West Bengal, including Aparna Sen and Goutam Ghose who have been questioned by CBI on Ponzi schemes. The rest, such as Shobha Mudgal, Ramachandra Guha, Adoori Gopalakrishnan, Anurag Kashyap and Mani Ratnam are known Leftists. Madam Mamata Banerjee has come out in support of this letter though your newspaper wouldn’t have mentioned it. Telegraph India? The known Leftist rag from Kolkata? Oh, you must look for its Epaper today. Or curl up your lips by looking at this image of their front page below.

I am not “rubbishing” the messenger to “kill” the message. Human lives are above ideology. Blood has no religion. Not for these worthies though. They could only see Muslim blood. Or they would have followed Anand Ranganathan or Swati Goel Sharma and known of hundreds of cases against Hindus and Dalits; or educated themselves on the pieces from OpIndia which lists 50 hate-crimes by Muslims in recent times; and a dozen “incidents” against Muslims which turned out to be fake.

Yet, they are quoting factcheker.in as their source when the website is epitome of lies, mischief and propaganda. They have a problem with the word “urban naxals” (made famous by Vivek Ranjan Aghinotri) who they view as “dissenter” but the nation  as “subversive” and a threat to India’s sovereignty. They view “Jai Shri Ram” as a “war cry” but Islamic terrorists blowing themselves up with “Allah O Akbar” on the lips is our sheer imagination.

Yet, these worthies deserve our time. Just to exhibit how the “Deep State” works. Let me list 10 questions which must prod the conscience of neutral Indian citizens:

  • Why we don’t have the list of 49 in public domain?
  • Why the headlines have tried to give it a Pan-Indian intellectual “uprising” hiding its essentially Bengali flavour?
  • Why this discourse omits crimes against the Hindus?
  • Why known Hindu intellectuals—Rajiv Malhotra, Subhash Kak, David Frawley, Dr Koenrad Elst, Francois Gautier–are never invited in Express Adda or TV debates?
  • Could you remember anyone of them reacting to vandalizing of Durga Maa Temple in the heart of Capital recently?
  • Why politicians such as Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury, Mamata Banerjee or Yadavs are never outraged at the crimes against the Hindus
  • Are NGOs a part of this nexus? At 31 lakhs, the NGOs in our counry are double the number of schools; 250 times the number of government hospitals. We have one NGO for 400 people as against one policeman for 709 persons.
  • Where were these intellectuals, newspapers and politicians and NGOs when crimes against Muslims and Dalits were far worse in UPA’s 10 years than it has been in Modi’s five-plus?
  • And if these intellectuals, newspapers, politicians and NGOs are working in complete sync, ensuring what we read and what we don’t; what stops us from terming them as a “Deep State” within India?
  • And if this “Deep State” exists, it just can’t be ideology. (More so when Left is as good as politically over in India). Who does this “Deep State” belong to? CIA? Saudi money? Commie funds? Or all of them put together? Or deep pockets of imperialism masquerading as Liberal Order?

 

The dangers are obvious. As the divide between Hindus and Muslims grow deeper; the spin-off could begin with lives lost or India divided, 1947 revisited. With people at war, India would get terminally weak. Those plotting it would be happy beyond words. Those who want Hinduism crushed would be over the moon.

Hindus of course can’t match them in propaganda. They are deep-rooted: The “Deep State: have their artistes, intellectuals, historians and media planted everywhere around us. They have a ready audience at home and abroad. The narrative would stay with them in foreseeable future. This has been a project of decades. The monster can’t be slayed overnight.

Sure it needs response. An organized response. Democracy is one tool which has rolled these worthies into the ground. But we are putting too many eggs in one basket. Democracy can be subverted (Why do you think they cry so much on EVMs?). We have also seen how technological giants, such as Google, Twitter, Amazon etc promote such Break-India forces. Our culture is still a binding force but when “Jai Shri Ram” is turned into an abuse, it’s only a matter of time before it implodes. India is young and they are easily brain-washed (All those with teenagers at home would identify with this issue).

Frankly, Hindus need a George Soros to combat these forces. Those who don’t know him, should do it now. He fronts Liberal Order; Hindus need one of their own. It’s unlikely BJP or RSS would be of much help in terms of funds or a commitment for decades. But Hindus would be increasingly under siege and only an organized structure, and not stray organic counter-voices, could set them free.

Is Indian media hand in gloves with Arvind Kejriwal?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Since our newspapers don’t ask a few simple questions to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, could we the readers pose a few and then judge if the two could be acting in concert? Accomplices hidden in plain sight?

Indian Express is gushing today how effusive are 1000 pilgrims in praise of their CM for “sponsoring” a trip to Amritsar under the Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana (Chief Minister’s Pilgrimage Plan); the second one is planned for Delhi-Vaishno Devi-Jammu route on July 20-24. The massive lead story on “The City” page also has a three-column photo, bettered only by a four-column image in The Hindu. These newspapers of course haven’t written a single line in a fortnight on the silence of Kejriwal since a 100-year-old Durga Temple was vandalized in the very Capital which mandated for his party. Couldn’t they see this man is protecting Muslim votebank on one hand and pandering to Hindu votes with the other? Anyone communal please?

(See this classic image with the piece, courtesy The Hindu. Red carpet welcome at the railway platform, images of “Kejriwal” (mask) carrying elders like Shravan Kumar did to his parents in a basket on a pilgrimage).

In the wake of 2019 Lok Sabha disaster where AAP won only one seat, a panicky Kejriwal mooted free rides to Delhi women on metro and buses. Our newspapers, page after page, had full-page advertisements on one side and screaming reports and interviews on the other, lauding the move. The bubble was first pricked by Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs (Hardeep Puri) and then by everyone’s metro man (E. Sreedharan). Kejri had apparently announced the scheme even without submitting the proposal to its partner, the Union government!

Without as much as batting an eyelid, Kejriwal’s revised pitch restricted itself to free ride for women in only Delhi buses before it too was deflated: But sir, what’s to your promise of CCTVs in buses to help women’s security? This litany of lies were exposed by government ministers/officials but elicited not a single comment from our newspapers.

AAP is gung-ho about what it has done to improve schools and education in the Capital. No newspaper has questioned: But sir what’s happened to your election manifesto of hundreds of schools in the Capital? How many have been built?

Have the newspapers questioned: Kejri sir, it’s alright you were making new friends with Lallu Yadav, Chandrababu Naidu; Akhilesh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee to save “freedom” and “democracy” but what do we make out of your tattered credentials as a credible friend when Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Ashutosh, Ashish Khaitan, Shazia Ilmi, CD Gopinath, Kumar Vishwas, Medha Patkar etc parted ways? We are not even talking of Anna Hazare.

Are you the same Kejriwal who once dumped his government because the people didn’t want an association with Congress and, now, was seen begging for an alliance for the 2019 Polls? The same man whose crusade against the “corrupt” ended in apologies to Gadkaris and Jaitleys? The same man who didn’t want the perks of VVIPs and is now deep into it?

Have our newspapers questioned: When your friends are distrustful of you what makes you think the nation would trust you? Isn’t it evident in results of assembly elections in Punjab, Haryana, Goa where a majority of your candidates lost deposits? Shouldn’t you be sent to a desolate island for such wholesome betrayal of people who gave Delhi on a plate to your AAP within two years of its formation?

But no, our newspapers are gushing. Readers can’t see the “deep state” which nurtures both but the telltale evidence of Kejriwal’s “dole” to newspapers in the form of government advertisements—around Rs 1000 crores on publicity in five years—is in plain sight. It has fallen foul of CAG but our newspapers are deaf to the uproar.

AAP had taken hold of everyone’s imagination because it catered to primarily urban voters who were disenchanted with the chicanery of political parties. It was seen as creating a parallel political paradigm. Parallel democracy, if you may. We now know better that it was a ruse to fuel the personal ambition of one man. But read our newspapers and you would get no sniff of such betrayal of masses.

 

Prashant Kishor: Why this man has India’s political class in thrall

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has put Prashant Kishor on her burning deck. Everyone connected with the Trinamool Congress (TMC)—EVERYONE—would listen to the master poll strategist behind closed doors of Kolkata’s Nazrul Mancha auditorium on Thursday.

Just imagine: “Didi”, that giant slayer of Left in Bengal, would be all ears to a man who has lived fewer years than she has spent in politics. Not just she but all her generals—young or old, fair or dark, rural or urban—would look to know about their own Bengal from a man who wouldn’t move in Kolkata without a GPS. None of them is mindful that he, being a member of JD(U), is part of NDA-2 and thus from the enemy’s ranks. Who said politicians are cynical?

Mamata, like all of us, is beholden to Kishor’s track record. He drew Narendra Modi’s 2014 poll strategy and within six months had helped Nitish Kumar beat back the new Prime Minister from the gates of Bihar. He turned around Congress’ fortunes in Punjab as he has now done with YS Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, taking care of upstarts (Arvind Kejriwal) and seasoned (Chandrababu Naidu) as hounds do, completely impartial to their prey. There of course is Congress and Shame of UP in 2017 but this can wait.

We are all beholden to this spectacle where politicians, with all their hubris and enmity, treachery and ruthlessness, sit on stools like lions do to the crack of this ringmaster’s whip, tail between their legs. This ringmaster had never walked into a (political) circus before, was pathetic as a student, a poor reader of books, a self-confessed black sheep of the family, never stuck to a job yet now has these political animals on a leash.

And he does it on his own terms. He would only deal with the bosses—not even Amit Shah—and everyone must submit to his charter, no questions asked. He is least enamoured of any politician and could walk out of a room without as much as even a goodbye.  He calls out his own party head Nitish Kumar for not seeking a fresh mandate after dumping Lallu Yadav. He helped Capt Amrinder Singh only because he didn’t like Arvind Kejriwal mocking him in press. He would help Uddhav Thackeray and his Shiv Sena only if he is assured the security of migrant north Indians in the state of Maharashtra. He once didn’t answer the calls of DMK as he didn’t of political parties in Kerala.

It would surprise many to know that Prashant Kishor is almost disdainful of our governing class which includes both politicians and bureaucrats. It interests him little that he is snapped with high and mighty; that he is entrusted with hundreds of crores to put his plan in motion; that unlimited power could be his mistress.

What then drives this man?

We would have to go back to 2011 when a paper of his on malnutrition caught the eye of Modi’s government in Gujarat. He was invited to visit the state and correct his impression. One day, he contributed to a speech of Modi; another day he drew a sense of a data and soon he was drawn into the inner circle. 2014 polls beckoned, he drew up a charter, and if you have heard of “Chai pe Charcha,” credit our man for it.

He left Modi because he wanted his dream of CAG (Citizens for Accountable Governance) to happen overnight. This CAG has now metamorphosed into I-PAC (Indian Political Action Committee). It’s this I-PAC which is key to understanding our man.

Prashant Kishor is troubled by the fact that only 7-odd per cent in India’s parliament are below 40. Almost 70 per cent of this small percentage belongs to political dynasties. This leaves only 2-3 per cent of bold and beautiful to chart their own cut. He is upset that a health secretary, previously in transport and due to be a telecom secretary tomorrow, could decide on technical matters and overrule professionals who have spent a lifetime in mastering the issue. He credits five biggest reforms of independent India–  food (M.S.Swaminathan), milk (Verghese Kurien), telecom (Sam Pitroda), space (Vikram Sarabhai) and atomic energy (APJ Abdul Kalam)—to the men who were not part of governance or bureaucracy.

I-PAC is one that dream where Prashant Kishor wants to draw tens of thousands of India’s young and competent , train them to take over panchayats, parishads, mahapalikas of the country,  practically draw a parallel political ecosystem and transform India. It made him impatient with Modi; it makes him dismissive of coterie—“Can’t be mindful of what the ecosystem thinks about me”—and it made him reject Rahul Gandhi post-2017 UP debacle.

The UP debacle still singes Kishor. He had drawn up a 14-point charter for Congress but only two were implemented—Sonia Gandhi launching the campaign from Varanasi; and Rahul Gandhi’s yatra from Deoria to Delhi on farmers’ loan-waiver issue. “I have no option but to accept the blame since I didn’t quit on not being followed,” remembered Kishor in an interview. He feels let down when politicians use his charter but don’t implement them when in power.

There are all telltale signs that Kishor wouldn’t do politicians’ bidding any longer. He would remain with JD (U) because he wants Bihar to be a top state on all indicators of progress.  Personally, Nitish Kumar has afforded him the freedom to nurture his I-PAC and make Bihar his political laboratory. So what accounts for his present engagement with Mamata Banerjee?

In all likelihood, Kishor might have been “loaned” by Nitish Kumar so as to send a not-so-veiled a message to Modi on denial of ministerial berths in the Union Cabinet. If Kishor could stop BJP’s juggernaut, it could lead to new alignments in Indian politics. It might allow Nitish Kumar to project himself as an alternative to Modi in 2024 polls.

In the last month or so, West Bengal has thrown up two rising political stars. New MP Nusrat Jahan, with her oath in the Parliament and participation in Jagannath rathyatra, has caught the eye even of Hindus. Then there is rabid Mahua Moitra who is lip-syncing Mamata Banerjee and appealing to Muslim and “pseudo-sickulars” of the country. Both, without doubt, are acting on Prashant Kishor’s script.

How BJP would love to eavesdrop on the closed-door auditorium on Thursday.

 

Vandalized temple: Has it been stage-managed?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

The vandalizing of a Hindu temple in the Walled City of the Capital on Sunday night is being watched closely, and not by the local police alone.

The site is teeming with iconic religious buildings, no better than Jama Masjid, built in 1650 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan though Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib is no less holy for the Sikhs, built  in the memory of Guru Tegh Bahadur, their ninth guru, whose head was severed by Aurangzeb, a quarter century later.

With elections due in the Capital in over six months’ time, political mis-adventurism is as much feared as the simmering anger of local Hindus for the Durga temple vandalized was over 100 years old and a daily fixture for hundreds of devotees.

There is already evidence that emotions were fuelled by spreading the fake news of a Muslim’s death through mass WhatsApp forwards which led to the violence and broken idols in the vandalized temple.  OpIndia has run a story where it has alleged that AAP MLA Imran Hussain had joined the mob which attacked the temple.

Indeed a trend has emerged where a Muslim mob gather within no time in the name of a stray incident and the violence spreads beyond the local limits.

The matter would not be helped by the mainstream media who would keep a lid on the incident as they usually do when Hindus are at the receiving end. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal would hold his silence as would Rajiv Gandhi or Mehbooba Mufti or Omar Abdullah and we haven’t come to Mamata Banerjee or Asaduddin Owaisi yet.

Cine celebrities – the husband-wife duo of Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi, Aamir Khan or Kamal Haasan, Swara Bhaskar or Prakash Raj, Naseeruddin Shah or Anurag Kashyap—would have their timelines in twitter under the gaze of millions who are convinced their heart beats only for Muslims.

Nobody expects a Romilla Thapar or a Nayantara Sehgal to educate us on the combustible historical confluence of religious identities of the area which is overlooked by the iconic Red Fort (Lal Qila). There is also little chance that the erudition of a William Dalrymple—who has written more than one book on Delhi—or sophistry of a Ramachandra Guha making even a passing reference.

Millions of Hindus are unlikely to hit the streets across the country since their faith is intensely a personal quest and outward symbols at best are worth reverence but never violence.

This claim is not made in a flourish, as writers are wont to do, but by the evidence of hundreds of such incidents which have happened in the country in the last 30 years.

Yes, Hindu temples have been vandalized or destroyed in varying degrees around the country and if it’s a news to you, you have to blame your newspapers.

No less than Jammu & Kashmir government, much before the imposition of President’s Rule, admitted in the state assembly that “of the 438 temples in the Valley, 208 have been damaged over the years.”

Muslims have ransacked Hindu temples in Bengal; Sabrimala in Kerala doesn’t need a recount here and if you really want a lowdown, it’s easily available on world wide web.

In the past, during its years under the yoke of Muslim rulers, many of the historic Hindu holy sites in Ayodhya, Kannauj, Mathura, Multan, Vrindavan, Varanasi, Thanesar and Prayag were destroyed. Somnath Temple in Gujarat was sacked many a times. Kashi Vishwanath Temple was demolished on Auragzeb’s orders in 1669 and a mosque built in its place.

The ruling dispensation at the Centre is unlikely to inflame the passion even though Union Minister and Chandni Chowk MP Dr. Harsh Vardhan has paid a visit to the venue. The law would take its’ course which could even secure life imprisonment for the guilty under the prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.  The accused could also be charged under Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for inciting communal violence.

Three have been arrested; more would soon be nabbed as the CCTV footage clearly establishes their profiles. But as said, the incident is extremely combustible and politicians, as we know, are unlikely to let go of such an opportunity.

One Nation, One Poll: Why Maya, Akhilesh or Owaisi dread it

(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.

 

Biggest push for Muslims in independent India: Pay attention

(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.