Chandrababu Naidu

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.

 

Arvind Kejriwal and the political philosophy behind his lies

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Politicians and criminals have one thing in common: Both believe they would never be caught.

We now know Arvind Kejriwal announced free ride for women in metro and bus even before he had made proposal either to his cabinet or to Centre or to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). We also know it wouldn’t have any sobering effect on the man. I mean somebody who has made a roaring career out of lies, why fix something which ain’t broken.

Kejriwal and his dozens of lies are known.  And boy, did they work.  Delhi saw him as a crusader against corruption. He said he had evidence of corruption against Sheila Dikshit, Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley.  That he would never be seen in the same frame with the corrupt political classes of the country. That as income-tax commissioner, he was straight as an arrow. That he was against VIP culture of big bungalows and security cover.  That he would never take support from the Congress. And once elected, he would have hundreds of schools and buses; free water and electricity etc.  The muffler-man, who coughed between his sentences, was the pin-up politician not just on auto-rickshaws.

We later learnt that he was never an income-tax commissioner.  That a five-room bungalow and Z security cover were his first candies. Corruption? Well he apologized to Sheila and Dikshit and Arun Jaitley and everyone else in the town. The guy who helped Robert Vadra in his alleged land deals found his way in the AAP land acquisition committee.  Another with a 300-crore scam on farmers’ money became a member of the AAP agriculture reform committee and got a Lok Sabha ticket;  the activist who stood by the Muslim juvenile brutal rapist who inserted and took the intestines of Nirbhaya out became his party AAP’s face for Bengaluru Lok Sabha seat;  from Mamata to Sonia to Lalu Yadav to Chandrababu Naidu, he never missed any photo-op and stood shoulder to shoulder on the podium of the corrupt.

So what do you make of a man who vowed never to seek Congress’ support and then begged for it in 2019 General Polls. Who would swear by the safety of women but would neither utilize the quota of 11,000 buses nor install CCTVs in it; who sheds copious tears on the poor and the vulnerable but won’t utilize Centre’s fund for Ayushman Bharat and Swachh India campaigns;  who wouldn’t  regularize colonies, provide free water and electricity and move on to his next set of lies.

This is the man who once called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “coward and a psychopath.” Who is accused of choosing between Hindu and Muslim crimes.  Who blames Centre for all his failures including the Jan Lokpal bill which in reality is pending with his own AAP government;  who used Anna Hazare and his crusade against corruption and dumped him at the first opportunity; all those who stood by him—Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Shazia Ilmi, Kumar Vishwas, Kapil Mishra and Alka Lamba—were cast aside either by design or conduct.

All politicians lie. But all lies are not equal. The difference in Kejriwal and others is that he uses them as  his political philosophy. He replaces actual facts with alternate facts to manipulate the emotions and feelings of the masses.  This is what we call Post-Truth: Oxford English dictionary defines it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. “ In short, make-belief prevails over reality.

Most call Arvind Kejriwal an anarchist. I call him a fascist. As philosopher Jason Stanley says: “The key thing is that fascist politics is about identifying enemies, appealing to the in-group and smashing truth and replacing it with power.”

When a politician is caught in his lies, he pays for it either with apology or punishment or both.  There is both shame and consequences involved. In Arvind Kejriwal’s case, it’s neither.  Hopefully, the cost of it would be known in Delhi elections in six months’ time.

 

In Australia’s crackdown, a warning to Indian media

Politicians and criminals have one thing in common: Both believe they would never be caught.

We now know Arvind Kejriwal announced free ride for women in metro and bus even before he had made proposal either to his cabinet or to Centre or to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). We also know it wouldn’t have any sobering effect on the man. I mean somebody who has made a roaring career out of lies, why fix something which ain’t broken.

Kejriwal and his dozens of lies are known.  And boy, did they work.  Delhi saw him as a crusader against corruption. He said he had evidence of corruption against Sheila Dikshit, Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley.  That he would never be seen in the same frame with the corrupt political classes of the country. That as income-tax commissioner, he was straight as an arrow. That he was against VIP culture of big bungalows and security cover.  That he would never take support from the Congress. And once elected, he would have hundreds of schools and buses; free water and electricity etc.  The muffler-man, who coughed between his sentences, was the pin-up politician not just on auto-rickshaws.

We later learnt that he was never an income-tax commissioner.  That a five-room bungalow and Z security cover were his first candies. Corruption? Well he apologized to Sheila and Dikshit and Arun Jaitley and everyone else in the town. The guy who helped Robert Vadra in his alleged land deals found his way in the AAP land acquisition committee.  Another with a 300-crore scam on farmers’ money became a member of the AAP agriculture reform committee and got a Lok Sabha ticket;  the activist who stood by the Muslim juvenile brutal rapist who inserted and took the intestines of Nirbhaya out became his party AAP’s face for Bengaluru Lok Sabha seat;  from Mamata to Sonia to Lalu Yadav to Chandrababu Naidu, he never missed any photo-op and stood shoulder to shoulder on the podium of the corrupt.

So what do you make of a man who vowed never to seek Congress’ support and then begged for it in 2019 General Polls. Who would swear by the safety of women but would neither utilize the quota of 11,000 buses nor install CCTVs in it; who sheds copious tears on the poor and the vulnerable but won’t utilize Centre’s fund for Ayushman Bharat and Swachh India campaigns;  who wouldn’t  regularize colonies, provide free water and electricity and move on to his next set of lies.

This is the man who once called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “coward and a psychopath.” Who is accused of choosing between Hindu and Muslim crimes.  Who blames Centre for all his failures including the Jan Lokpal bill which in reality is pending with his own AAP government;  who used Anna Hazare and his crusade against corruption and dumped him at the first opportunity; all those who stood by him—Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Shazia Ilmi, Kumar Vishwas, Kapil Mishra and Alka Lamba—were cast aside either by design or conduct.

All politicians lie. But all lies are not equal. The difference in Kejriwal and others is that he uses them as  his political philosophy. He replaces actual facts with alternate facts to manipulate the emotions and feelings of the masses.  This is what we call Post-Truth: Oxford English dictionary defines it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. “ In short, make-belief prevails over reality.

Most call Arvind Kejriwal an anarchist. I call him a fascist. As philosopher Jason Stanley says: “The key thing is that fascist politics is about identifying enemies, appealing to the in-group and smashing truth and replacing it with power.”

When a politician is caught in his lies, he pays for it either with apology or punishment or both.  There is both shame and consequences involved. In Arvind Kejriwal’s case, it’s neither.  Hopefully, the cost of it would be known in Delhi elections in six months’ time.

Opposition that Naidu wanted to lead is now for Jagan Reddy

(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.

 

Oath-ceremony: It seems Modi’s NARA has fallen on deaf ears

(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).

 

 

A fly on the wall of Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati

(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.

 

 

Arrest over photo-shopped image: A curse has befallen on Mamata’s Bengal

(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.

Amen.

 

Why Indians have short memory and how it puts their lives at risk

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Brahma Chellaney, a trusted voice, laments in Hindustan Times today that Indians suffer from a short memory.

He cites three instances around the macabre 26/11 attacks in Mumbai which lasted four days.

One, that nobody remembers Tukaram Omble, a junior police officer who held the barrel of Kasab’s AK-47 on to his chest to make sure it hits only him and his other colleagues could swoop on the Pakistani terrorists unharmed.

Two, that all the 10 Pakistani terrorists were wearing red string wristbands for Hindus that Pakistan-American David Headley got for them from Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple. But for Kasab’s confession, the narrative of “saffron terror”, peddled so in Manmohan Singh’s government as witnessed in 2006-2007 blasts in Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express, would’ve received another heavy coat.

Three, that the Kartarpur Corridor had its cornerstone laid on the 10th anniversary of 26/11. One could imagine Pakistan’s generals and politicians doubling up in mirth at Indians’ absence of memory.

I bring all this up to drive home a larger point. People don’t remember because in-your-face newspapers decide that for you. They decide what you remember and what you don’t. Often what they hide is more relevant than what they choose to reveal.

So they ensure you remember “Karkare” because Pragya Sadhvi has taken his name—and never Tukaram Omble.

That you remember Modi, Shah, Yogi Adityanad as divisive and not Omar Abdullah who has given call for two Prime Ministers in the country. Or that Mehbooba Mufti has warned “Hindustanis” they would be wiped out from the history books.

That Rahul Gandhi could lie  on the shoulders of Supreme Court for his “Chowkidar Chor Hai” agenda but you wouldn’t know a thing why Rahul Gandhi himself is on bail in the National Herald case. That Rahul Gandhi’s shady deals with evidence is in public domain; India’s finance minister (Arun Jaitley) subsequently held a press conference on the matter but not a line is to be seen in any mainstream English daily of the country.

 

That Supreme Court could induce “mediation” on the matter of Ayodhya but not in equally contentious “Sabrimala” issue.

That the settlement of Rohingyas is a human rights issue but not 5 lakh Hindus displaced from Kashmir.

Not  a word on same Rohingyas, at least a lakh of them, and how they are settled in Jammu when under Article 35A other Indians can’t buy property in J&K.

That stopping Bangladeshi infiltrators is a human rights issue but allowing persecuted Hindus from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan is an attempt to erode the cultural compass of a state.

That even after helping a Muslim and a Dalit to become the President of India, BJP is an anti-Dalit party and not Abdullahs and Muftis who have refused voting rights to lakhs of  “Valmikis”, brought from Punjab on that explicit promise in 1957 to fill the post of “safai karamcharis (sweepers)” on strike.

That why RSS is a communal organization and not SDPI or PFI, identified as a terrorist network by National Intelligence Agency (NIA), and who are in alliance with Congress in Wayanad where Rahul Gandhi is contesting.

That BJP is a threat to institutions such as judiciary, RBI and CBI but not Mamata Banerjee who allows investigating CBI officers to be manhandled and forcibly kept in a police station. Or Congress who invokes impeachment of the Chief Justice of India and called the army chief a “goonda.” Or when Mamata doesn’t allow opponents to hold public rallies in Bengal.

That a police officer killed in Uttar Pradesh points to the deteriorating law and order situation in the state but spate of murders in states like West Bengal and Kerala is par for the course.

That EVMs, VVPATs or Aadhaar are a threat to people’s rights and democracy but not the lies of Congress and AAP leaders who refuse to take up the challenge of Election Commission and yet indulge in an event in London to show how “EVMs” are hackable—and fail miserably in that.

That Amit Shah’s son has made “millions” in crooked deals but the three-year-old Devansh, grandson of Chandrababu Naidu, somehow has assets of nearly Rs 20 crores and still not worth readers’ attention.

That Congress could promise “nyay” and Rs 72,000 in poor’s pockets without a single reader being told that it’s not feasible, that Congress hasn’t delivered on most of their promises in 70 years; and that Rs 72k annually to poor would be pick-pocketed from the middle class and would easily put our inflation into double figures.

Why there is no credible book on the macabre tales of The Partition?  Why the mention of Subhas Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar, Lal Bahadur Shastri or Sardar Patel wouldn’t produce more than 50 words from majority of us? Why the torture suffered by Veer Savarkar in “kaala paani” in Andamans is no memory while Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in “home-like” prisons was such a sacrifice? Why Nathuram Godse and his book on his trial subsequent to Mahatma Gandhi’s murder why banned for more than 20 years? Why not a single copy of Niyogi Commission’s report on the menace of “conversion” by Christians is available anywhere?  How come Kashmir Valley, which had only 3 districts to Jammu’s 6 districts, were brought on par to the extent it has 46 seats to Jammu’s 37?

One could go on endlessly. But the narrative is the same: Lutyens Media and Leftist websites work on an agenda, brainwash readers and do it with impunity because the counter-narrative—run primarily by Swarajyamag, OpIndia and NewsBred—is only recent. Unless more such forums mushroom; unless readers are questioning, until the laws of the land haul these newspapers up for their lies and manipulation, unafraid of the so-called “Freedom of Press”refuge to these miserables, Indians would continue to have short memory and the repercussions would be grave.