Nitish Kumar

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.

 

Now that Hindu-Dalit divide is closing, a few are having loose motions

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

We are at a seminal moment in India’s history. The divide between Hindus and Dalits is closing. Once Muslims also join the flank, the pincer attack of Break-India forces would finally meet its wall.

These forces face existential danger.  Hence, their attacks have grown sharper. I would place two articles in the Indian Express and The Hindu for readers’ attention. One is from the known-baiters Christophe Jaffrelot and Gilles Verniers. The other is a survey by The Hindu. Both articles work on the caste equations, fudging data to show only if Dalits had closed the ranks, BJP would’ve met its fate in 2019 General Elections.  In essence, it’s a roadmap how to polarize Indian society in preparation for 2024 elections and beyond. Both articles have taken refuge under the umbrella of scientific surveys and peddled their agenda.

Jaffrelot-Verniers combine in Indian Express fire from the shoulders of SPINNER (Social Profile of the Indian National and Provincial Election Representatives) Project, undertaken by Trivedi Center for Political Data- Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI). It concentrates on the “cow belt” or Hindi-belt which makes up nearly half of the MPs in our Parliament.

Jaffrelot and Verniers bemoan the erosion of Other Backward Classes (OBC) and consolidation of “suvaran” (Upper) caste. That the religious mobilization (read Hindus) has swamped OBC (read Dalits). The thrust of the article is:  BJP and its upper caste are weighing down heavily and that Dalits are being divided into “jaatis (sub-castes).”  The message: Dalits, watch out or you would be swallowed by Upper Castes. The agenda is the twain – Upper castes and Dalits—should never meet. INDIA MUST SINK.

The two sides are described thus: Upper caste (Brahmins, Rajputs) vs lower castes (Yadavs, Kurmis, Koeris, Jatavs).  BJP has upper caste in its fold. Jatavs are with Mayawati and Yadavs with Akhilesh-Tejaswi fold in UP-Bihar.  BJP has prevailed because it has worked on the layers of “jaatis” among the BSP-SP-RJD votebanks.

So BJP divided the Jatavs by working on the non-jatavs. It countered Yadavs by giving seats to “other OBCs”—non-Yadavs, non-Kurmis, non-Koeris, non-Lodhis, non-Gujjars–and still smaller OBC jaatis.  I mean is it some kind of video game?

Let me explain the absurdity of Jaffrelot-Verniers agenda. I mean all politicial parties, including Left, have upper caste leaders. Haven’t they heard of Namboodripad and Jyoti Basu? Don’t they know that Narendra Modi himself is OBC? That Mamata Banerjee casts herself as a “Bengali-brahmin”? That Rahul Gandhi is a “Shiv-bhakt” what if he ran away to Wayanad in Kerala and sought a sanctuary among Muslim votes? Is BJP more communal than SP, BSP, RJD etc who harvest on the communal and casteist fields, hopefully no longer fertile? That Modi has been overwhelmingly voted for by Scheduled Castes (SC)  and Scheduled Tribes (ST) -46 out of 84 SC seats; 31 out of 47 ST seats.

Not a word on Modi’s connect with the masses, cutting across caste and communal lines (why, even Muslims voted in larger number for BJP than in 2014). Not a word if GST, Demonetization, jobs and agrarian distress could have been drummed up issues. Not a word that Ujjawala, Ayushman, toilets, houses, loans, Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) etc might have been massive factors. So much so that no less than 91 per cent of Jat votes went to BJP and not to Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), for instance.  But Jaffrelot-Verniers must stick to the agenda of looking at things from the Upper Caste vs Dalits prism.

The Hindu piece is termed as CSDS-Lok Niti-Post Poll Survey. It repeats more or less the same agenda. Their initial survey had highlighted the dissatisfaction with the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh. That people are unhappy with its MPs and MLAs, that the stray-cattle issue is epidemic. Now the upper caste-“jaati” social engineering has worked for the BJP. Easy isn’t it.

The fact is these forces wouldn’t like the country to go back to pro-Mandal days or pre-1990s era. Mandal Commission brought job reservations into vogue in 1990. It shifted the power equations, a new crop of backward class netas—Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kanshi Ram etc—spawned all over the Hindi belt. Hindu-Dalit rift was put on steroids, Bhimrao Ambedkar was dusted off the shelf, and these leaders and parties held the country on ransom.

Now Modi Magic is threatening to bridge the divide. A young and “New India”—most of them in their 20s—couldn’t care less on caste and communal lines. The mandate is as big as Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s (364 out of 489 seats) in the first General Elections in 1952! It should tell us all about the enormity and possibility of 2019 results.  Modi himself has given a new definition of caste identity: “There are only two castes: One of the poor and the other of those who want to alleviate poverty.”

That’s why it’s an existential crisis to a few. The Hindu gives its game away when it states in the last sentence: “The two parties (BSP-SP) need to rework their understanding of caste equations.” Shame that they are putting castes above the country.

(Post script: In the same edition, in its’ editorial page, The Hindu has a piece which berates Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad for concentrating on Yadav-centric politics which allowed lesser OBCs to fall in BJP’s lap. I mean these guys are something).

Rahul-Kejriwal saga: What Lutyens Media didn’t tell you

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

I bet most of you wouldn’t know it. For most of you read Indian Express, Times of India and Hindustan Times. And none of them carried the news that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chose to abstain from voting on Rajya Sabha deputy chair on Thursday because Rahul Gandhi didn’t made a CALL to Arvind Kejriwal.

Indian Express, as usual, was the master of obfuscation. Buried deep down in their long story was one line:“AAP did a volte-face Thursday declaring it would support the Congress if Rahul Gandhi requested Arvind Kejriwal.” Indian Express never tells it readers that Rahul Gandhi never called!!! Instead, the newspaper terms it as “volte-face” on the part of AAP. Bravo.

First, the facts. AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, to all and sundry, spoke words which must have been acid to the ears of our Lutyens Media. Why did Sanjay Singh say? He said to the media an evening before on Wednesday that if Congress needed AAP’s support, its’ president Rahul Gandhi himself should make a call to Kejriwal.

But Rahul didn’t. And Sanjay wasn’t holding back his venom a day later on Thursday: “Congress is the biggest hurdle to Opposition unity. How will he (Rahul Gandhi) ensure the victory of his candidate if he cannot ask for votes?” It hurt AAP all the more that JDU chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar didn’t think it below his dignity to personally call up Kejriwal and seek support for NDA candidate,Harivansh Narayan Singh. “If Nitish could ask for support for his candidate, why not Rahul,” Singh said “When he (Rahul) can hug PM Modi, why can’t he ask Arvind Kejriwal to support his party’s candidate?” None of these damaging words, I can assure, you would find in these mentioned three English dailies.

Explosive, isn’t it? The news betrays a horde of staggering facts: (a) Opposition unity is going nowhere and Congress could be its biggest stumbling block; (b) Rahul Gandhi is arrogant; (c) BJP could’ve a cake-walk, come 2019 General Elections. And we are not even talking of the cascading effect it could’ve had on the forthcoming elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh in the remaining four months of 2018.

And yet it isn’t important to Lutyens Media? It writes reams and reams of columns on how BSP-SP combine would turn the tables on BJP; splashes pictures of opposition leaders holding aloft hands in Karnataka; berates HD Kumaraswamy on art of managing ally such as Congress; tears its lungs out on how Nitish and Modi are drifting apart; yet it finds Congress-AAP fall out no big deal. Strange, isn’t it. I mean Modi’s arrogance to allies is causing splits such as with TDP;  but Rahul Gandhi’s nonchalance to Arvind Kejriwal is no arrogance and still good news for “mahagathbandhan”. See how dumb these newspapers think we are?

To be sure, these hacks of Lutyens Media know how to cover their tracks. So you search hard on internet, and you would find link to these stories, howsoever vague they are in description. Times of India, Hindustan Times and Indian Express do have taken note on internet. But it’s only a technical and legal defense; they have blanked it on their newsprint where their real audience is. I would be happy and ready to apologize if readers or these newspapers itself could point to any such coverage of Sanjay Singh’s reactions in their Delhi/Noida editions. I, for myself, found no such news in their newspapers.

There is a still bigger question which must trouble the sensibility of all readers. It couldn’t be the news never reached the teleprinter rooms of these newspapers. I mean the news was covered by Press Trust of India (PTI). Logically, any news desk would dread missing out on such an important story. I mean ask any journalist, he is taken to cleaners by his editor or served a show-cause notice for such a miss. But here not one, all three newspapers collectively spiked the story. It could be a coincidence; or someone takes decisions on behalf of these newspapers—your guess is as good as mine.

The pretence of “mahagathbandhan” must persist. The act of fooling paying-readers must go on. Meanwhile, you can count on Press Council of India (PCI) and Editors’ Guild to look the other way. And these guys want to “Save the Democracy” in India even while striking with hammers and axes at its fourth pillar, called Media.

DALALS make Governors the Fall Guys

There is a new narrative by the DALALS (Devious Left and Lutyens Scribes). It’s not about the fresh round of communal violence against Hindus in West Bengal where the Mamta government is seen overtly as pro-Muslim. It’s not even about the Facebook post which was used as a handle to beat Hindus with. It’s about the constitutional propriety of Governors who are accused of acting at the Centre’s behest.

The usual suspects such as Indian Express (their edit today, see image) and Rajdeep Sardesai  have dumbed down the reprehensible Bengal violence to a debate about how BJP-appointed Governors are causing mischief. They have dragged down the Tripura and Puducherry Governors to connect dots and conclude that India’s democracy is in peril.

This is not as much ingenuity as the brazen, brash conviction that their echo chambers would drown out any voice of reason. That nobody would question them, like how come Governor Ram Nath Kovind earned so unabashed a praise from Modi-baiter Nitish Kumar in Bihar?

Said Nitish: “Kovind has discharged his duties in an unbiased manner as the Bihar Governor. He has worked as per the Constitution and upheld the dignity of the Governor’s post.”

This from a Chief Minister of a state which handed over a humiliating defeat to Modi in 2015 Bihar assembly elections, just a year after the BJP’s euphoric triumph in 2014 General Elections.

These DALALS have also swept under the carpet the unequivocal support which West Bengal Congress state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has offered to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi.

As per Chowdhury, he had no “valid reason” to demand Tripathi’s recall and said he had found the Governor to be a “thorough gentleman and affable person.”

Yet, these inconvenient truths don’t suit the DALALS. That these voices of conscience have come from bitter Modi foes matter least to them.

A few questions, which hopefully would drill a hole through their echo chambers and if nothing else alert citizens about these devious forces at work, are thus;

(a) What’s the exact nature of this conversation between Tripathi-Mamta? And if the DALALS are not privy to this private telephonic talk, what makes them pitch for Mamta and not Tripathi?

(b) While accusing BJP Governors for undermining democratically elected state governments, what makes DALALS give clean chits to Mamta, Arvind Kejriwal or Akhilesh Yadav governments who are under scanner from investigating agencies of the land? What makes them believe these leaders are upholder of democratic traditions?

(c )  Why these DALALS have no stance at all on this communal violence in West Bengal? Why they never call Mamta by name? Why this studious stand to avoid word “Mamta” all through their writings?

(d) Why no question has yet been asked to Mamta about her silence on the “triple talaq’ issue? Come on you champions of feminist causes. Don’t show your menstrual cramps.

(d ) With the known Jihadi presence in neighbouring Bangladesh, why these DALALS have not stopped to question the threat of Jihadis turning West Bengal as their base for further attacks on India’s sovereignty? Why this studious silence?

(e) Failing this, do they want a story similar to Kashmiri Pundits be repeated in Bengal? Have they paused and dreaded the consequence of such a migration? And its devastating effect on the India we know?

Instead of addressing these grave issues and questioning Mamta’s role through all this, these DALALS have trained their guns on Tripathi, an octogenarian without a whiff of controversy during his long career in public eye. An esteemed poet and writer, Tripathi’s commentary on The Representation of People Act, 1951 is still held in high regard.

The obfuscation by DALALS could have been comic if it was not this tragic. There could be no Ramchandra Guha or Pawan Verma invited on TV debates since the matter itself has been given a quite burial.

Shame.

Express on JNU: Where’s video?

If you are an Indian Express reader you have just been told: you are the dumbest, stupidest, bumpkin, buffoon, idiot, thick-headed, retarded, imbecile reader on this earth.

It’s your choice to live with this tag, readers.

Or why would their lead story of today (February 28, 2016) “VIDEO IS OUT: Kanhaiya assaulted, breaks down, police duck for cover” has no relation at all with the real report, smug as they are with the pig that they believe you are, readers?

Now what this headline tells you: It is that there is video which shows Kanhaiya assaulted, breaks down, police duck for cover, isn’t it?

And what does the actual report tells you?: The report tells you that this video is a deposition of Kanhaiya before the Supreme Court panel.

Spotted the difference? (don’t tell me you are really what Express thinks you are).

So,

The Headline tells you there is a video of “Kanhaiya assaulted.’

The report tells you the video is of “Kanhaiya’s disposition” and not of assault.

In other words, Express believes that you stupid readers wouldn’t go beyond their headline (they actually know their worth, folks). Even if it is the lead story!

Now the next question which crossed my mind was how did they get hold of the video? A smart piece of journalism? That made me look for the SC panelists. One was Kapil Sibal (a multiple minister in the previous Congress government); another lawyer Vrinda Grover who is a board member of GreenPeace whose license to collect foreign funds has been cancelled by the Modi government. Actually Sibal has also been in the programme board of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has been hauled over to Supreme Court by a writ petition.

I might be suggesting a NGOs+Congress+Marxists+Media collusion here but so dumb are you readers that I am confident I could get away with it without you suspecting anything.

There are usual suspects littered in this edition of Indian Express: Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Admiral Ramdass, Sharad Pawar, Chidambaram, Nitish Kumar, our revered academic institutions voices (this time it’s missionary college St. Stephen’s principal), going after government on JNU issue. (Actually you must admire Mulayam, Jayalalitha, Mamata, Lalu, Shiv Sena to hold their tongues so far). Central minister Uma Bharti is actually lucky to get two paras in support of Modi, buried many pages deep inside the newspaper.

It’s a rogues’ gallery with Express passing the board-room bulletin as news for us asinine readers.

And don’t you believe anyone loves cricket in this country. On a Sunday edition, there is no front page mention of India beating Pakistan on a cricket field. Never mind this was India’s only seventh T20 match against arch rivals this millennium and that Virat Kohli played a knock which Sachin Tendulkar would’ve been proud to own up. (May be, showing Pakistan in a losing, poor light would’nt suit the agenda).

Fortunately, inside there is a full page interview of about-to-retire Delhi police commissioner, BS Bassi. He has replied on relevant issues but newspaper won’t put a word of it on the front page.

Bassi puts it as it is: without any spin, full of logic and reason. All those reporters and editors who have been baying for his blood, beat a hasty retreat. All that posturing went out of the first window. So here’s what Bassi said on key issues (it’s an abridged version of his quotes):

On The Actual Sedition Case: It’s an open-and-shut case (wow). Under section 124A of the IPC it’s a grave offence. It’s been declared valid by the Constitution. (For police) It’s an extremely easy case.

The law says: “bringing in hatred or contempt or exciting disaffection towards state by words or signs or visible representations.”

I am going to crack this case because I know these are the guys who have done it.

Please read the Kedar Nath judgment of 1962.

Country has to deal with issues in Northeast, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and J and K. We have to have a law to deal with anti-national activities.

Debate happens within constitutional norms. But if it’s an anti-national activity, then it doesn’t remain a debate. Society survives because we respect our Constitution. If all of us start disrespecting our Constitution, the country will be destroyed.

Nobody is letting police do the job. Society as a whole should’ve cooperated with us.

On Kanhaiya, Journalists Beaten Inside Court:

Patiala House is a confined place. Use of teargas, lathi etc would have turned Patiala House into another Jallianwalla Bagh.  It’s a prudent practice which police followed. My prudent policing practices also tell me I should have some space to chase away trouble- creators…If I have no such place, it will turn into nothing but Jallianwalla Bagh.

No footage is available of Kanhaiya being beaten. Journalists were still able to cover the event.

I would call it a technical riot because a real riot means arson and people’s heads being broken.

On Journalists Being Questioned:

It’s our job to ask involved persons and seek their reactions (as part of investigations). The thing has been made bigger than the actual event.

There, you have it.

The thing has been made bigger than the actual event. A case under trial has been considered bigger than over two dozen lives lost in the Jat stir. The Jat Stir case that has an aide of ex-Haryana Congress Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, in an audio, apparently egging on a Jat community leader to escalate the violence.  But that apparently doesn’t deserve any space in our beloved newspaper.

Don’t you think the front page deserved this headline (or even in inside pages):

JNU: It’s an Open-and-Shut Case, says Bassi

So we now know the devil who has been quoting from the scriptures. Who thinks bark is bigger than the bite. Who doesn’t know that it’s truth which can set it free.

So Shakespeare wrote:

The devil can cite scripture for his purpose;

An evil soul producing holy witness

Is like a villain with a smiling cheek

A goodly apple rotten at the heart.

In today’s world of deception and lies, truth is a revolutionary act. It’s up to us readers to hold the flag of truth high. And don’t be the fools that our newspapers think we are.