Narendra Modi

Hindi, Hindu or Hinduism, Congress always fluffs its lines

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury looks funny in the video. I mean buttoned sleeves of a tightly-fitted white shirt with matching trousers tucked under a jeans belt near his navel, dyed remnants of what were once hair, he looks every inch a babu (clerk) we meet in dusty government offices. Very few prefer such an appearance at 63, certainly very few politicians. He could learn from the likes of Digvijay Singh, Abhishek Sanghvi, Kamal Nath or MJ Akbar who reserve their flamboyance within private walls.

But Chowdhury is no one’s Keshto Mukherjee, the drunk-comic in yesteryears’ Bollywood. He has been of invaluable use to Congress since 1991 when he cut his teeth in politics under Rajiv Gandhi’s regime. In just one generation of Gandhi dynasty, he has risen to be the leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha. There must be something about the man who could question “Why Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are sitting in the parliament and are not behind jail” or abuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi and still earn no rebuke from his Congress high command. All within a few hours of being asked to be the leader of his party in the Lok Sabha.

Chowdhury is in the news for he has blamed his Hindi for the abuse hurled at Modi. So did Sam PitrodaMani Shankar Aiyer or for that matter Congress president Rahul Gandhi himself who kept fiddling with his mobile while President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the Parliament recently. Gandhi’s ingenuous darbari (courtier), Anand Sharma guessed Rahul baba was looking at the English translation of Kovind’s difficult Hindi words. So be it.

I now bring Shashi Tharoor into my theme which is different from offering my shoulder to a tearful man who has been overlooked as Congress leader in Lok Sabha. If I needed to lend a helping shoulder, I would’ve gone for Manish Tewari. Both Tharoor and Tewari must be sheepish around their 10-12 or whosoever is left among lackeys. But then when has talent been rewarded in Congress? They could’ve learnt from the fate of a Sachin Pilot or Jyotiraditya Scindia who are answering to old fogeys such as Ashok Gehlot or Kamal Nath with a straight face. The drubbings in Rajasthan and MP have mattered little; they are still in the groove.

I bring Shashi Tharoor on the matter of Hindi which happens to be the one issue holding this piece together. The man under a cloud on his wife’s death once confronted Sushma Swaraj in Parliament when Hindi was being pushed to be an official language in the United Nations. There are six official languages in UN—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Hindi, despite being the fourth most spoken in the world, is ignored. Nations such as Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana who could support Hindi, are fighting shy of expenses involved (The procedure, translations of files, letters, drafts etc would cost a few hundred crores). Tharoor objected to Hindi being pushed as a national language in the UN when it’s only an official language in India. (Talk of tomfoolery!).

Tharoor would’ve none of it even as Swaraj pointed out at least two prime ministers, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi, for having addressed the UN in Hindi. That, when visiting dignitaries speak in their local language (other than English), Indian representatives too prefer speaking in Hindi. Tharoor was to argue: “Why should we put our future foreign ministers and Prime Ministers who may be from Tamil Nadu put in a (awkward) position?”

It’s only incidental that all the names who have had faux pas on Hindi are from Congress party. No, no, I am not trying to drive home the point that they have something against Hindi, Hindu and Hinduism. I am not a (Randeep) Soorjewala who would take a shot even if it is below the belt. Mine is a larger point: Why speak Hindi and later apologize if you are not good at it? Or even a Hindi translator around you would be a discredit to your “secular” pretensions?

The fact is you can’t avoid Hindi and hope to rule India. One/third of the country is Hindi-speaking. Over 45 crores in a population of 1.30 billion. Most Indians, even if they are from north east, south, east or west understand Hindi. Would the same be said about Tamil, what say Mr Tharoor?

So speaking Hindi is a compulsion for politicians, even the reluctant ones of Congress. It’s another matter they speak in haste and repent at leisure. Till they get better at Hindi, expect such gaffes and the entertainment that follows.

 

 

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.

 

How Mamata is spared of allegations they level on Modi

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Millions of Indians today would term West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is arrogant. Or why she wouldn’t pick up the phone calls from Prime Minister Narendra Modi or returns call to state governor Keshari Nath Tripathi when crisis is as grave as Cyclone Fani or the state is sitting on a time-bomb on doctors’ agitation?

Tens and thousands of us would also call “Didi” a fascist. Or why she would jump out of her caravan and confront people who are merely chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, a matter of greeting among India’s masses?  Or why she would tell the agitating doctors to return to work within four hours or face the consequences?

Lakhs of Indians won’t deny either that she is communal in her approach, favouring Muslims and running down Hindus. Or why she would change “ramdhenu” with “rangdhenu” in textbooks? Pass the stricture that idol immersion in Durga Puja must be postponed on Muharram day?

An overwhelming numbers of us would also term Mamata Banerjee as an autocrat. Or why she would deny prominent opposition leaders, from Amit Shah to Yogi Adityanath, from landing on her turf for election rallies? Tear up the posters of BJP’s rallies? Pull up custom officials who have the temerity to stop her relatives at the airport?

A still bigger number of us would’ve no doubt that the only news emerging from West Bengal for so many days is violence.  Mamata Banerjee and her TMC must take the blame for violent politics. So rampant is the politics of blood that 34% of seats in Panchayat elections go uncontested. Or the lynchings which takes place regularly on Bengal’s streets.

None of us would also deny that Mamata Banerjee is undemocractic and unconstitutional. People (Priyanka Sharma) are jailed for posting memes on whatsapp; professors (Rakesh Sinha) is booked for inciting violence when all he has done is to visit a temple with his mother.

Millions would nod in affirmative that Mamata Banerjee resembles a dictator in Bengal. The bureaucracy is under her thumbs; police is an extension for her coercive politics and is shielded from investigations by Central agencies. She even resists interventions of Supreme Court.

Millions would’ve also heard about the ongoing Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley scams and the charges that Mamata Banerjee is corrupt. The corruption charges have engulfed her TMC party.

All too often we hear that terror network and jihadi forces are rampant in West Bengal. That terror-network Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen has taken roots in the state. The news that radicalization has taken place in madarsas in districts such as Bardhaman. That the dreaded Islamic State (IS) has named a new “emir” in West Bengal. How would Mamata Banerjee deny the allegation that she is a “secessionist” and one of India’s “tukde-tukde”gang?

Now please put all these adjectives together: arrogant, fascist, communal, autocrat, violent, undemocratic, unconstitutional, dictator, corrupt etc together. Name one person who has been called all this by India’s ecosystem in the last five years: Yes, you are right—Narendra Modi. And I challenge you to show one instance in our mainstream English media—Lutyens Media—who has ever accused Mamata Banerjee of such traits.

What is an ecosystem? Ecosystem isn’t the government in power. Ecoystem is a network of politicians, media, academicians, lawyers, bureaucrats, institutional heads, cultural czars etc who work in unison to push a particular agenda.

So think about the politicians (such as Rahul Gandhi, Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati etc), journalists (Shekhar Gupta, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Barkha Dutt etc), laywers (Prashant Bhushan etc), academicians (Prof. Ram Chandra Guha, Faizan Mustafa, Rajmohan Gandhi etc) institutional heads (former Election Commissioners, Police Commissioners, Ex Chief Justices of India who occupy the edit pages), cultural czars (Javed Akhtar, Kamal Haasan etc) etc. Look at their twitter timelines to show me if they’ve ever accused Mamata Banerjee of being communal, autocrat, corrupt or instigating lynchings etc. How is that when rest of India has almost a similar opinion on Mamata Banerjee, these biggies who occupy our ears, eyes and minds have a completely different opinion?

It is easy for India’s ecosystem to do whataboutery. So when violence happens in Bengal, it’s both TMC and BJP who are guilty. If provocation happens, both TMC and BJP are at fault. If communal issues are flaring up, both TMC and BJP must take the blame.

But now the eco-system is in a bind. The doctors’ agitation can’t be blamed on BJP. It’s people who are rising up against Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in the state of Bengal. You can resort to propaganda against RSS and BJP, weave themes on lynchings and communalism but how do you face up to the wrath of millions. It’s the people of India who stood up to the ecosystem and showed it the mirror in the 2019 General Polls. It’s the people who are again exposing this network in rapidly deteriorating West Bengal.

As they say, you can fool some of the people all the time. But you can’t fool all the people all the time.

 

 

Modi-Imran in SCO: Be ready for some tough pictures

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

It would be a hectic two days for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (June 13-14). The flight detour through Oman and Iran too wouldn’t have helped. Then there is this little matter of bilateral talks with at least five heads of states:  Xi Jinping (China), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Hassan Rouhani (Iran), Ashraf Ghani (Afghanistan) and Sooronbay Jeenbekov (Kyrgyzstan) besides the actual SCO Summit.

Modi’s diplomacy in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) isn’t just about his time. It’s also about the long shadow of United States which would follow his every move and not just with China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran—all in US crosshair for one reason or the other.  Modi has the image of a tough leader, engaging the world but never aligned to any particular bloc. Much of it would be tested by Friday.

Modi, of course, can’t overlook the probing audience of a billion and a half people in India and Pakistan. There would be photo-ops with Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan. Every nuance of arched eyebrows, warm or cold smile, firm or limp handshake, would be dissected in reams of papers. A hug though is as good as ruled out.

In many ways SCO would be about optics. Its’ stated goal is to fight against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism. But Pakistan would be spared this embarrassment. Our troublesome neighbour is making its debut in SCO since its formal induction in 2017—as is the case with India. This  powerful  Group of the East has had always China behind the wheels. Modi can enjoy the ride but can’t change the course.  China is friends with Pakistan for nothing.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan have chosen to embarrass each other on the eve of the 19th SCO Summit. India first sought a free airspace for Modi’s passage to Bishkek. However once it was granted, wisdom prevailed and Modi opted to decline the offer. Pakistan, or its propped-up separatists in Jammu & Kashmir, then killed 5 CRPF jawans in Anantnag on Wednesday. Be ready for some tough pictures from Bishkek.

It isn’t to say that SCO is without merit for India. US needs India for its Asia strategy and by appearing shoulder-to-shoulder with Putin and Xi, Modi would keep Donald Trump sober when the two meet in a fortnight’s time in Osaka for G20 Summit (June 28-29).  Modi’s bilateral with Rouhani in Bishkek would further force Trump’s hands. That the host in Osaka would be Japan’s Shinzo Abe, who is outreaching to Iran later this week, is no little matter.

India also needs to have the right thermostat to keep matters with China from running too hot or too cold. Modi’s recent visit to Maldives must have prodded the wounds of China. Bishkek would be a good place to straighten out the ruffled feathers since the two leaders, Modi and XI, are slated for a summit in October, a la Wuhan style.

There is no gain denying India sees a friend in Russia. It was Russia which facilitated the entry of India into SCO which, to begin with, was primarily a Central Asia lobby that needed an axis after Soviet Union exploded in 1991. Modi and Putin aren’t taking any steps back on S400 missiles or their growing defence cooperation and Bishkek would afford the two leaders a moment to align themselves against the evil eye of US.

SCO is as good a moment as any to keep Afghanistan in India’s good books. The mountainous country could be fuming for having been not invited for Modi’s oath ceremony last month.  Kabul is insecure for more than one reason—Taliban, fostered by Pakistan, is gaining international currency; and US is vowing a retreat of its armed forces. India has always been an all-weather friend and Bishkek couldn’t have come at a better time.

India also needs access to information and intelligence from the Tashkent-based RATS (Regional Anti Terror Structure). China’s push for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) also can’t be allowed a free goal. India also  can’t afford to be hemmed in by Pakistan and China on its two flanks. A global economy can’t be known as only a South Asian behemoth. India needs physical access over and above its northern borders into Eurasia and SCO affords an excellent opportunity.  A rising India is critical to all big powers and it must keep all its suitors on tenterhooks. A stronger and more empowered Modi by his people would only help.

 

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.

 

 

How has Sadhvi Pragya replied to letter served on her?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

This was Friday. Hostages, a web-series thriller on Hotstar, is disrupting my home. I keep running to the door whenever the bell is pressed because my wife is glued to the screen, watching one after another of the eight-episode series of five hours. “What if in the end you are told it was only a dream of the protagonist and nothing of the sort happened. What if she wakes up in a sweat and says, sorry guys and gals, it was just a dream,” I blurted to my wife at the end of my patience.

“What if” in entertainment is the password for $100 million business. A viewer is hooked: “What if” the villain succeeds; “What if” the girl chooses her boyfriend over her husband; “What if” the panchayat forces the girl to marry her rapist; “What If” our hero is unable to save his family as tsunami hits his town.

Rarely are we disappointed with outcome. The end never betrays our expectations: Girl does remain with her husband; the villain never succeeds, rapist meets justice and our hero miraculously survives tsunami with his family. Even though movies are predictable, we spend money and hours and watch it again and again.

Politics in a way is also entertainment. More so in the Season of Polls. Politicians and Media are like its’ producers and script-writers. Events are created, star-cast assembled, emotions are heightened and the suckers again are the consumers—in this case readers and TV watchers.

Star-cast choose themselves on their own.  With Rafale issue on the edge, and The Hindu turbo-charged by god knows who, country was on the edge. Heroes are villains and villains are heroes.  Those for Modi know he is clean. Those not for Modi know he is corrupt.  How the end would play out in Supreme Court?  On its judgment—“What if”– rests the fate of 2019 General Elections.

Rafale, The Hindu, Supreme Court,

Then comes the sexual assault charge against the Chief Justice of India.  Again hero is villain and villain is hero.  Those for Gogoi, know it’s fabricated. Those against Gogoi, know he is framed.  The country is hooked: “What if” the CJI’s office is deactivated? Won’t it affect Rafale?

For years, the matter of Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship issue is in public domain. “What if” he indeed was a British citizen?  The matter acquired political tones when Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sought an official explanation from the Gandhi scion.  He was given a fortnight to reply—months have passed on since then.  The nation again had its heroes and villains: but it was a joke.

Or Sadhvi Pragya. She utters words in praise for Nathuram Godse. The secular forces give a lesson in ferocity to Islamic State (IS):  To hell with her. Bury her. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visibly hurt on national television. “I would never be able to forgive her,” says the anguished Prime Minister. The party seeks an explanation from the firebrand leader.  Heroes and villains play out again.

Nathuram Godse, Islamic State, Mediation,  Ayodhya, Ram Mandir, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Balakot,

I am sure you haven’t forgotten the “mediation” team on Ayodhya. Would this team be able to succeed or thwart the attempt on Ram Mandir? Media and secular forces see one of the mediators, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar , as potentially dangerous.  Those in favour of Ram Mandir see hope in him. Again, cardboards of heroes and villains are cut.

Think about 100s of scientists and cinestars coming out in support of one or other political ideology; the debate on whether 300 terrorists were killed in Balakot or not; whether Supreme Court would favourably rule on the re-petition on Sabrimala – all had the nation divided in its heroes and villains. Pure entertainment, wasnt it.

Now the elections are over. Why bother if Rafale was corruption or not; if Rahul Gandhi has replied on his British citizenship issue or not;  if Sadhvi Pragya has explained satisfactorily to the letter served on her. Ayodhya can wait till 2024. Sabrimala? On the backburner till 2024.

I tell this all to emphasize what the sucker they make us out to be. All this looks so stage-managed. Outrage. Anger. Despair. Democracy in danger. The secular fabric of India torn to shreds. Elections over, everything over.  Wait till the next elections. Again, the recorded events are played out.

So relax. Make friends and not enemies for that’s exactly what politicians and media want us to be: at each other’s throat. Have a laugh on the concocted issues. They mean nothing to them so why lose your sleep? Wait till the bugle of Delhi assembly elections start blowing in February next year.  A few seasonal new issues would emerge and fade with the same monotony. Democracy you said?  I call it entertainment. Okay, black entertainment.

 

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.

Importance of being Jaishankar: Only behind Modi-Shah duo

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Not Rajnath Singh. No Nitin Gadkari. India’s third most powerful minister in the present dispensation—besides the obvious duo of Modi-Shah—is Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, a career-diplomat turned foreign minister.

When the troublesome duo of China-Pakistan are breathing down India’s neck on its two flanks and Donald Trump is baring his fangs in United States, India is hot under its collar and Jaishankar has been put on the burning deck.

On the face of it, everything looks cool: India has had a serious of significant ticks in international arena, be it tacit approval on its Balakot strike or getting the world behind to outlaw dreaded terrorist Masood Azhar. Significant alliances have emerged in the Muslim world even as Israel is now a very strategic critical ally. Respect for Modi could only grow now that he has been re-elected with a stunning majority in 2019 General Elections.

But trouble is at the door with Donald Trump’s United States determined to punish India over its buying of S400 missiles defence system from Russia. Already, India has lost the tariff benefits which US accords to less-developed countries under the Generalised  System of Preferences (GSP). The Trump administration had held off only because the 2019 General Polls were on in India. But now that it’s over, the $5.6 billion export that India enjoyed against the United States in 2017, would no longer be possible.

Trump is equally determined against India’s buying of S400 missile-defence system from Russia and a spokesman for the US administration has made no bones about it. India was warned on Friday that if it bought $5 billion worth of S400 missiles from Russia, it would have serious repercussions in terms of defence deals with United States.

United States has a policy for the world where countries, howsoever friendly, would be slapped with sanctions if they fostered ties with their adversaries, in this case Russia. The policy is called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Iran is another prickly issue. Trump had given a waiver to India from November to May to buy crude oil from Iran despite the sanctions it has in place against the orthodox Shia nation. But any further extension is completely ruled out.

As reports emerged that India was looking at ways to beat around the sanctions and continue its oil imports from Iran, US has made its position clear: “There will be no more oil waivers granted.” This would push up India’s oil import bills as  Iran used to supply 10 per cent of India’s needs. If US withdraws from Afghanistan, Pakistan would acquire further muscle in its intervention in Kashmir.

India’s troubled borders on its east and west make both China and Pakistan as perpetual adversary and frictions are never far off.

Modi didn’t invite Pakistan in his oath ceremony this week and the latter responded by firing a nuclear-capable Chinese-designed intermediate-range ballistic missile to serve a warning. India too flexed its muscle when just before the 2019 polls, it launched a missile to “destruct” one of its own satellites, becoming only the fourth power after United States, Russia and China to shoot down an object in space.

It’s clear that Jaishankar would’ve his hands full but if there is one person more competent with a better track record than the former foreign secretary, he or she is yet to be seen in India’s diplomatic circles. Over his long tenure, and significant stints in Russia, United States and China, among others, he has acquired a formidable network, his phonebook being the envy of most diplomats.

He was India’s foreign secretary till the last year and his understanding of India’s personnel or policy is unlikely to catch him unawares. He knows the system pretty well.

Jaishankar has worked around different governments but it’s under Modi that his stock has risen up. As India’s envoy to China, he first impressed the present Prime Minister when the latter was visiting China as Gujarat chief minister in 2011. He was there when Modi made his first “rockstar” visit to United States on his election to PM’s office in 2014. Modi promoted him as foreign secretary in 2015. His framework on foreign policy greatly helped his successor Vijay Gokhale as Doklam and Balakot occurred.

Jaishankar is known to be a very hard negotiator. Together with Modi and Amit Shah, he can cut through the government flab. The near future is tough for India but the nation can’t have better men than Modi-Shah-Jaishankar to steer its course. In Hindu pantheon of Gods the trinity of Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver) and Mahesh (destroyer) reign supreme. In Modi, Jaishankar and Amit Shah these are today’s political equivalent.

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.