(It’s a reprint from NewsBred).
There is a reason for prime minister Narendra Modi to have an extra cup of tea which he loves so much in the morning. There are breakthroughs in Telangana and Manipur; a reaffirmation in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh; and Madhya Pradesh sealed for years to come. And then there is Bihar.
And he could afford to smell roses too in his garden now that the foul air of Covid-19, migrants trek, China-at-gate, economic tsunami, engineered anti-CAA etc harnessed by the devil siblings of Opposition and prepaid media has blown back on their faces. Even Hathras didn’t work.
This morning though the tea won’t be the same for regional satraps of Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Tamil Nadu who have an assembly election to defend in next few months. A couple of them are allies who suspect they would be soon out of breath in keeping pace with such a driven partner. They don’t have to speak to Uddhav Thackeray or Nitish Kumar. They know it in heart.
It brings us to two existential questions in India’s political landscape: Are BJP and allies actually enemies sleeping in the same bed?
The basic premise of this puzzle of course is whether the two need each other. BJP didn’t concede to Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and I am sure there must be second thoughts within if it was judicious. Hindu vote is divided in any case, if not stupid. Why fragment it further? It has allowed the Pawars and Gandhis a stroll in the power corridors. Shiromani Akal Dal (SAD) was better to be without since it was cohabiting with farmer mafia while BJP is committed to rid India of weeds on the ground.
Politics is vision. But it’s also about staying in the present. BJP need to be both pragmatic and principled with allies. Only a fool can’t see that the Rest are coming together en masse: It doesn’t matter if they were enemies (BSP-SP; NCP-Congress, JD (S)-Congress, PDP-NC) only till recently. They are sinking and would hold on to any straw. They would get wiser—if not by 2017 UP then surely by 2020 Bihar–that caste piper isn’t quite belting out the chartbusters. They would band aid the pockmarks of corruption. They would woo the masses which so far were not even worthy of their contempt. They would rely less on media and friends-in-courtrooms now that it no longer is cutting the ice.
They of course are on the pitch of anarchy for some time. To their minds, they have already dispensed with umpires, third umpires and DRS etc. It has helped them in paralyzing the Centre, bound as it is by its Constitutional vows. What voters can’t deliver, villains might.
All those who stand with you, matter
It ought to be BJP’s goal to be in power, state after state. It can’t do without allies. It would have to allay their reasonable fears. Like it can’t afford to let go both Chirag Paswan and Nitish Kumar in Bihar. BJP might have a vision for India and its friends might suffer from cataract but then who said it’s an ideal world. You need every that voice, every that whiff, every that ray which could brighten your cause. Most have baser instincts, shallow interests, malleable emotions. But even those who just stand with you, matter.
So instead of a mere blinkered vision, BJP needs to look around and greet those who could say hello in return. It must account for inadequacies of others. It’s too straight-jacket and regimented with its friends. It can’t be that BJP is afraid of criticisms. If it was so, Yogi Adityanath wouldn’t have become CM of Uttar Pradesh; Article 370 would still have been a thorn, CAA-NRC would have gone into files by now. But BJP only harps on development. It doesn’t on discourse. They need to cultivate allies; they need to empower voices rooting for them to do good to Mother India.
It’s a seminal moment in India’s history. In millenniums. BJP can’t let it go only because its rulebook is cast in stone. It has to take every single voice along. And it has to stamp the hood of serpent into ground. It would be a Prithviraj Chauhan if it lets go the moment against Muhammad Ghori. It would be a mistake to think that chorus is not contributing to the melody. Keep them in the background but keep them on the dais. Rise to their defence even if it’s unsavoury to your style. Men like Arnab Goswami, for instance, need you now. Niceties could wait.
So take your time as you finish your tea, Mr Modi. But open your gates a little wider, your drawing room a little more spacious, and summon extra chairs in the garden. There are more hues in the painting than just winning elections on the plank of bettering masses. There are independent voices, perhaps too stray and too disparate to matter to you or BJP. But they are helping the wider discourse. It would matter to you and India in longer run. Embrace them as you go forward.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Most prospective allies dread Congress as a partner in the approaching 2019 General Elections. They know of the mauling of HD Kumaraswamy (JDS) by its partner Congress in Karnataka even though the faithful Lutyens’ Media are doing their best to keep the sensational news under the wraps.
None of the English mainstream media has taken note of a News 18 story which mentions Kumaraswamy almost “cried” while listing the ills of partner Congress recently. Only if this news was in “The Wire” or even little-known “Caravan” magazine, the English MSM would’ve fallen over each other in reserving the columns.
The report says Kumaraswamy has dropped enough hint that his Karnataka government may not last beyond the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Addressing his party’s MLAs and MLCs, Kumaraswamy was virtually in tears, alleging that he was functioning like a clerk and not like a chief minister because Congress is interfering in everything.
“He is sad. He almost cried. Told us that the Congress was behaving like a big brother. Forcing him to sign all kinds of orders. They forced him to expand the Cabinet and even appointed chairpersons to government run boards and corporations without his approval. He feels that it is getting tougher with each passing day,” said an MLA who was present in the meeting.
Kumaraswamy apparently told his partymen that Congress leaders always expect him to behave like their subordinate. The JDS supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda was present in the meeting.
The JDS is looking for 12 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections while Congress is offering them just six which has led to serious friction in recent weeks.
JDS and Congress bitterly fought against each other in the Karnataka assembly elections of last year but joined hands in an opportunistic manner to keep BJP out of power. BJP had won 104 out of the 228 seats but Congress (80) and JDS (37) buried their hostility to form the government with Kumaraswamy as chief minister.
But no sooner had Kumaraswamy assumed his post, Congress began humiliating him in no uncertain manner. The English mainstream media meanwhile kept admonishing Kumaraswamy instead of questioning Congress on their arrogance.
All big players have watched the unfolding saga of betrayal in Karnataka and are hedging their bets against an alliance with the Congress.
Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) have decided to go together in the critical Uttar Pradesh and have turned their back on the old national party, now creaking under its own sloth and arrogance.
Mamata Banerjee didn’t even deign to congratulate Congress after its win in three assembly elections recently. She is carrying a personal hurt against Rahul Gandhi for ignoring her offer to contest the Tripura state assembly elections together. “I don’t know who advised him and influenced him,” Mamata had then said curtly.
Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) is already firming up Federal Front which he plans to field in 2019 general elections. He is doing the rounds of the county, knocking at the doors of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal but apparently can’t stand Congress.
The arrogance of the Congress is sickening. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Sanghvi warns SP-BSP alliance that they ignore his party at their own risk in Uttar Pradesh. Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi chuckled at the “sleepless nights” of Mamata’s leaders in the wake of his party’s win in recent assembly elections.
There are cautionary voices within Congress, like the one of AK Antony, twice defence minister and thrice Kerala chief minister, who has openly stated that Congress is not strong enough to take on BJP in 2019 general elections. But the hubris of Congress knows no limits and it’s in-your-face arrogance is becoming difficult to ignore for the potential allies.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred)
We are all wary of politicians. Deep in our hearts we know they are populists. All they want is to win elections. They could lie endlessly and shamelessly, as Rahul Gandhi often does, and be sure that their darbaris, such as Lutyens Media, would turn a blind eye. Or if you are a BJP, the issues of corruption and Ram Janmabhoomi temple is only limited to manifestoes. My Hindus vs Your Muslims is only a trap to ensnare us in. Politicians are for polls, not people.
Once in a while, we the people swoon over a Arvind Kejriwal before the unblushing chameleon is found out. These days, it is K. Chandrashekhar Rao of Telangana who is trying to seduce us with the talks of a non-BJP, non-Congress “Federal Front.” His words – “the country needs a new economic and agricultural model” – is meant for us suckers. Don’t we know he is another one perpetuating a dynasty—his son is the next in line to take over Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRP) party; his daughter Kavitha is the only woman minister in the state cabinet. Or that it could be a ploy to split the non-BJP votes in the 2019 General Elections as his detracting neighbour, K. Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh has remonstrated? What does it tell us about TRS when it bonds with a clearly communal AIMIM?
Politicians would splinter and regroup if there is a bigger pie visible in the near horizon. Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav are at each other’s throat one moment and a bua-bhatija the next; Yadavs in Bihar would draw close and apart like recalcitrant lovers who can’t make up their minds; Shiv Sena and BJP would stick under one roof even as they sleep in separate bedrooms; Mamata Banerjee could hold aloft Sonia Gandhi’s arm for photo-op one instant and be disdainful the next; Congress and JD (S) in Karnataka would clasp their daggers even as they plant kisses on the cheeks. It’s difficult to believe BJP and PDP were once allies. Such machinations leave them with little time for people.
Congress is perceived as a pro-Muslim and BJP as pro-Hindu party. It’s a chimera. Congress has realized Muslims would no longer win her elections. Out come the tilaks and janaus –the Shiv bhakts and tomes on why one is a Hindu. BJP is forever repositioning itself as a centre-rightist party. It knows HIndutva could only fetch it 100 seats. The rest of 172 could come, alone or in alliance, from a secularist position only. So no dramatic overtures towards Hindus. Not on Ram Janmabhoomi temple. The end of their term is near but not a line has changed in our outrageous, preposterous academic History textbooks. Leftists wrote them from the pen dipped in poison. The hugely communal governments of Bengal and Kerala ought to have been dismissed a long time ago. All these parties do is to evoke our deepest religious, cultural inclinations and antipathies while maintaining a status quo in terms of action. People are no better than pawns, lifeless objects at their mercy.
Congress is gung-ho about wins in Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It has lost no time in announcing loan-waivers for farmers. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, and now Gujarat, has seen BJP in a similar populism. In some states, the loan waiver amounts to over 30 per cent of the entire state’s budget. Some promises are never meant to be fulfilled —like Punjab on its farmers’ loan-waivers — but they serve the purpose in polls. No thought is given to fiscal prudence. That the banks might be wary of lending loans in future if there is no recovery possible. That even solvent farmers could dip their hands in the loan jar and be unaccountable.
And how do you think Congress is planning to tackle the issue of unemployment? By insisting that locals get the jobs at the cost of migrant UP or Bihar workers. That’s what Kamal Nath has done in Madhya Pradesh even as he himself is an outsider on the Chief Minister’s chair to a local Jyotiraditya Scindia. And that only those industries which employ upwards of 70 per cent of locals would get state assistance. Such juvenile conducts give a damn to what happens to Madhya Pradesh youths when they go out searching for jobs in other provinces. How is it a United India when migrating to other states has the disapproval of ruling politicians?
I have no doubt that India’s politics and politicians aren’t going to change in next 100 years. Part of the reason is Indian constitution’s federated character. States are autonomous to a large extent but for some key matters resting in the hands of the Centre. This is logical given India’s diversity in language, customs and culture. It also gives rise to regional forces who are eyeing a bigger bite at the Centre. Friction is thus ever-present. One-upmanship is never far. Propagandists, faking as journalists, are paid and work overtime to brainwash the people. They are all part of the anti-people, pro-Powers mosaic. You could include academicians and power blocs which come in the garb of NGOs and Human Rights bodies.
Is there anything we the people could do? Are we only meant to wring our hands in despair? Could we take on these behemoths and succeed? I guess we could do a lot. We could support individuals who through their own initiatives are doing good to India and its culture. There are some who are digitizing our Sanskrit scrolls; those who are bringing back our stolen idols and sculptural marvels; those who are immersed in reviving our heritage through articles, magazines, websites, books, lectures, seminars, festivals by highlighting our exceptional dance, music, drama, architectural, handicrafts, sculptural, literature, painting, astronomy, scientific heritage etc.
Minorities are no demons either. Their politicians and religious leaders sure are looking to lead them astray. But most, by and large, want to get on with their lives and survival. Well-meaning groups within minorities could do a lot to win the trust and affection of majority. Just imagine if Muslims as one give way to Hindus’ demand for a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Or take up the task of learning and disseminating information on Sanskrit. Speak and act with affection and sensitivity on cows and beef.
Politicians and propagandists are no good. People are and could be good for the country we call India. We can’t really change our politicians, given their heft, deep roots and deep pockets. But we could show them a united face. Force them to attend to the pressing issues of this country and not resort to cheap and damaging populism. As long as we remain dormant, such politicians would remain our fate.
Coincidences do happen. Both Times of India and Hindustan Times took the editorial route to chide HD Kumaraswamy on Tuesday. Next day, an Indian Express edit scolded the Karnataka chief minister. All three hags from the Lutyens’ Media were fuming. All three were lecturing HDK to understand the “reality” of coalition. To understand that as a senior party, Congress has a right to be a bull in the china shop. All coincidences, isn’t it.
Hindustan Times felt it’s nothing but drama from Kumaraswamy. Strange, for Arvind Kejriwal has been doing his “drama” for four years and yet escaped HT’s attention. The newspaper cited roads, power supply, garbage as issues dogging Bangalore. All these happen at a grander scale in Delhi. Right under its nose. But the stench never reaches the nostrils of these pen-pushers. Meanwhile, Congress has all its support: “It’s natural it (Congress) wishes itself to be taken into account before a major decision.” Wah, when it’s matter of allies of BJP, it’s the latter which is being “autocratic” and riding roughshod over its juniors. But in the matter of Congress, it’s juniors who must hide their tails between the legs. Pathetic, I say.
Times of India, says almost the same thing, the same day, the same lead on its edit page. Only coincidences, I understand. It wants Kumaraswamy “must accept this reality and soldier on” for in a situation of collapse, the “prime beneficiary would be BJP.” It warns HDK that his public lament would “not be music to voters.” Bravo.
And that must not happen, isn’t it. BJP must not benefit. Innocent, gullible voting cattles must not see this wrong connection which has made a mockery of democracy. Kumaraswamy has been given the chief minister’s chair and he must act like Manmohan Singh (yes, that’s the exact advice Times of India gives to HDK!). Sealed lips, zero conscience.
Indian Express wants Kumaraswamy to understand “asserting his control over the coalition would be difficult.” The “journalism of courage” doesn’t explain how the Chief Minister could run when the dogs are tugging at his dhoti. Or, without his allies behind him, how he could push through legislation in the state assembly. It also gives HDK a lecture in statecraft: “people hate tears.” Ask Pushpa (yes, it draws analogy from movie Amar Prem-that’s the seriousness it accords to the matter).
The newspaper terms it “idle tears” for if Kumaraswamy is serious he must give way to a colleague of his to run the government. I wish Indian Express had the courage to offer the same advice to Congress. Likes Gandhis, JD(S) is also all about Gowdas. They are dynasts no less. Would Rahul Gandhi step aside only because Congress is in a coma?
None of these three newspapers steel their spine and address a simple logic: If Kumaraswamy is distraught, if he is crying in public, could it be because Congress MLAs have made his life hell in Bangalore. And if it’s so why Congress is not reining them in? Is it because Congress simply can’t for the MLAs would then run under the BJP’s banyan tree? Why blame one opportunist when the other has turned it into an art form in last 70 years?
But then Congress is a different matter. It’s a holy cow with hind legs of a horse which can kick you in your teeth. The milky diet that you are fed on would be withdrawn. Hello Lutyens Media, why do the sham of being worried about democracy and a billion-plus people of this country? Why not concede you are lackeys and little else?
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
The joke is on Siddaramaiah.
The former Karnataka chief minister had dubbed Janata Dal (Secular) as the B team of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run-up to the Karnataka elections last month.
It would appear that he and his supporting MLAs and ministers today snugly fit the inscription as BJP’s B team themselves!!!
Siddaramaiah was hung out to dry by Congress leadership after the party lost the Karnataka elections and 17 of his ministers were made to bite the dust. Siddaramaiah contested from two seats and barely won from one.
Since then, the downturn in his fortunes has only gathered pace. HD Kumaraswamy, the usurper of his CM seat, ignores him as car drivers do beggars at street lights. Every time there is an issue, Kumaraswamy rushes to Rahul Gandhi in the Capital. When he went public against the Kumaraswamy-drafted State budget, Siddaramaiah was asked to mind his own business by the high command. And now there is a crimiinal FIR against Siddaramaiah in a Land Notification’s case by Kumaraswamy’s police!
Siddaramaiah is not alone. His loyalists include many present and former legislators are miffed at being ignored in the present state cabinet. These include MLAs Byrati Basavaraj, ST Somashekhar and Muniratna. Even Ramesh Jarkholi, who has been given a Cabinet berth after his supporters burnt tyres in front of the Raj Bhavan, had come out in support of Siddaramaiah. Important Congress leaders like HC Balakrishna, N. Cheluvaraya Swamy and former minister PM Narendraswamy are holding meetings in his support.
Siddaramaiah, that old fox, certainly knows a trick or two. As head of the coordination committee between Congress and JD(S), he is now driving hard for a bargain for his supporters. The prize in front of them are Cabinet berths in the next expansion. Most critically, they have set their eyes upon 30 posts of Chairman for various boards and corporations. As a sop, Siddaramaiah is being offered a Cabinet berth.
You readers are only being logical if you question why Congress central command is not being able to rein in Siddaramaiah? Further, why Siddaramaiah is not being able to stop the disquiet among his supporters for perks and posts? The answer is obvious: there is such a groovy train which has run on their tracks for the last five years in Karnataka that everyone knows each other’s dirty secrets, hoarded jewellery or stashed-away millions.
In normal times, such ambitions could easily have been accommodated. Innovative portfolios, like the Pooh Ministry, could have been floated. But this is now a coalition government—the one with their sworn enemy JD(S) being the face of power. JD(S) themselves have been parched for powers for years and are eager to dip into the pond of gratification. Egos and insecurity are the two other chlorines in the water.
And BJP? They are in no hurry to bring down the government. Indeed, the longer this alliance stays in saddle, the better it is for them. Thus the BJP might miss out on Karnataka, but they could showcase this mirror in run-up to the 2019 General Elections. The Karnataka analogy would make “mahagathbandhan” look some kind of joke on the voters. BJP could also question media (and judiciary) for being on testosterone steroids around the Karnataka Elections—only to go limp and flaccid once the Congress-JD(S) bonhomie began shedding its clothes. All those photo-ops of holding hands aloft at swearing-in in Bengaluru; Mamata and Mayawati; Akhilesh and Tejaswi Yadav; Kejriwal and Yechury; Chandrababu Naidu and Ajit Singh, calling it “victory for Democracy” appearing such a scam to people.
Just think about it: such lumpen and unscrupulous elements of Indian politics are being glorified in our newspapers every day. Lutyens Media may bury their heads in the sand stupidly unmindful that it leaves their butts in the air.