Rafale

New India beefs up Mahatma Gandhi in a formidable armour

(This piece is reproduced in NewsBred courtesy rt.com)

India is abuzz with Mahatma Gandhi in the year of his 150th birth anniversary but there is a new version to his message of “ahimsa” (non-violence) which its enemies are finding out at a great personal cost.

Gandhi was the “apostle” of peace and non-violence who offered the other cheek when slapped but India of today would rather leave a black eye on its aggressor as it did on Pakistan with retaliatory heavy shelling in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Sunday which left at least 6-10 Pakistani soldiers dead and blew up three terrorist camps into thin air.

It was a grim fresh reminder to Pakistan that India has the doctrine of an eye-for-an-eye in its new rulebook and the “surgical strikes” and “Balakot airstrikes” which followed the terrorist attacks in Uri (2016) and Pulwama (2019) was the new philosophy and not an exception.

India is still an adherent to “non-violence” and has an unbroken history of peaceful coexistence, never eyeing others’ territory but the painful lessons of past demand it puts a premium on the integrity of its Union.

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval often reminds his audience that India was overrun by invaders despite being arguably the most advanced civilization of its times. It never protected its seas even though they straddle three of its four corners. It led to the servitude of almost a thousand years. It faced wars imposed by Pakistan on three of four occasions: 1947-48, 1965 and 1999. It didn’t use 90,000 prisoners-of-war as a bargaining chip nor advanced deep inside Pakistan after winning a conclusive war in 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

India was seen as an epitome of a “soft” nation as terrorists kept crossing the Line of Control (LoC) through Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and cost tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers lives since 1990. The horrific attack in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, when terrorists from across the border sprayed machine guns on civilians on streets and five-star hotels, known as 26/11 in nation’s damaged psyche, evoked no retaliatory response from India. Worse, the very next year in 2009, the same United Progressive Alliance (UPA), returned to power without any retribution from its masses.

All this has changed for good. India today is driven in its bid to modernize its army: It has only recently ceded its top spot to Saudi Arabia as the biggest arms importer of the world—the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reckons India accounted for 12% of the total global arms imports for the 2013-2017 period. It has lapped up Russia’s S-400 advanced missile system defying the threat of sanctions from the United States. It has gone ahead with its purchase of France’s Rafale fighter jets even though the move threatened to derail Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s bid for a second term on the unfounded charges of corruption this year.

India today is literally taking the fight into enemy camp: It rakes up the issue of Balochistan and its independence from Pakistan; it has vowed to wrest back the control of PoK for a unified Kashmir and its defence minister Rajnath Singh has already debunked the “No-First-Use” nuclear doctrine. India stood up for its ally Bhutan and stared down China in a face-to-face standoff between the two armed forces in Doklam in 2017 which lasted months.

India is not only flexing its armed muscle but is also a crusader against global terrorism on international forums. India has successfully overturned China’s reluctance in having Masood Azhar of Pakistan blacklisted by the United Nations. It dissuaded South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan from joining the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Summit hosted by Islamabad in November 2016 after the Uri attack. It recently tried it’s very best to have Pakistan blacklisted by the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and has openly fallen out with Turkey and Malaysia for standing by Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

India loves and is proud of Mahatma Gandhi and the message of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam (The World Is One Family) which defined the great man’s extraordinary life. But it doesn’t want to ignore the lessons of history. It is prepared to lift arms to protect its people and boundaries which is different from being an aggressor. It’s a nuanced approach to Gandhi’s philosophy and it seems to be paying dividends.

(This is a reprint from Russia Today—rt.com— for whom the author has penned this piece).

Rafale: So they found “Shastra Puja” a Hindutva act

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

The first of 36 Rafale jets of the first batch was acquired on Tuesday. It was a seminal day, not just because India acquired a massive defence shield but also since it coincided with Vijaydashmi or Dusshera, the day which Indians have celebrated as the win of Good over Evil for centuries now.

Somehow, matters which warm the hearts of millions of Indians causes heart-burn amongst a few who are well-identified now. “The Hindu” mocked the celebrations with “Wait-Its-Due-Only-Next-Year” front page headline; the (Rajdeep) Sardesais and Ghoses (Sagarika) and Dutts (Barkha) were silent as if in a funeral and so were the Gandhis: Priyanka is showing off her Hindi skills on twitter and Rahul Gandhi, well, he is heard less these days than even his brother-in-law. Yet, one of Congress’ leaders, Sandeep Dikshit, couldn’t hold back and reflected the grumpiness of this brigade: “Why link the acquisition (Rafale) in a religious context,” he contended.

Dikshit was upset that defence minister Rajnath Singh had done a “shastra puja” of Rafale which involved putting lemons in front of its wheels, placing a coconut on its nose and drawing an “Om” on its side cheek. In Dikshit’s book, it was a religious assertion, an assertion of Hindutva, and a “secular” state indulging in communalism. (Err, Mr Dikshit, your thoughts on the then prime minister Manmohan Singh, choosing the day of Sonia Gandhi’s birthday–December 9, 2006—to declare that Muslims have the first right on the resources of the country. Was it secular?).

Understandably, it found echo amongst the young and impressionable. So here it is, an attempt for rationale to prevail over outbursts:

“Shastra Puja” is a routine marker with our armed forces on new inductions of weaponry. It happened when MiGs, Jaguars, Tejas, practically every new addition, was made to the Indian Air Force. Every ship which slides off keels is always launched with coconut-breaking ceremony. Even the Supreme Court has said that “Shastra Puja” doesn’t impinge on secularism.

The induction of Rafale happened on the 87th anniversary of Indian Air Force. “Vijaydashmi” might’ve been coincidental and not necessarily the reason for choice of date.

It’s a flawed approach to view “shastra puja” as an assertion of Hindu identity. As it would be to view the reading of “kalma”as Islamic when Tejas was inducted on July 2, 2016.  When soldiers are greeted with garlands and tilak on return to their villages, is it communal? Besides, placing of lemons in front of tyres, applying “Om” on its steering and breaking a coconut in front of the vehicle are common actions millions of us do before a newly bought vehicle reaches home.

But trust our spoilsports to keep taking the matter to absurd lengths. A twitterati argued thus: “But buying a car and doing all this is personal. Whereas in Rafale was an act by the ruling government. Don’t they know that India is secular and state and religion must not cross each other’s path?”

First thing first. India wasn’t a secular state to begin with. This happened when our Constitution was arbitrarily changed by a chaffed Indira Gandhi during the Emergency without the consent of the lawmakers of the Parliament. There are various articles in the Constitution—like freedom of propagation of own faith for monotheist religions like Islam and Christianity—which can’t be termed secular.

Now, if the Indian state indeed is “secular”why does it interfere and control Hindu temples? As writer and scientist Anand Ranganathan points out : Governments of five southern states control 90,700 temples; TN Temple Trusts own 478,000 acres of land. Tamil Nadu state government alone controls 36,425 mutts: It gives them billions of rupees. By a rough estimate, the total revenue earned from temples by state government till now would be somewhere between Rs 10-15 lakh crores.

Is this secularism? That Tamil Nadu government has a temple in its logo is secular? If you want religion should be out of bounds for the State then the State should also keep out of religion.

Famous Indologist David Frawley has posted a YouTube video where the “war-cry” of various battalions are mentioned.  For Gorkha Rifles it’s “Jai Maa Kaali.” Rajput Regiment exhort with “Bol Bajrangbali ki Jai”; Rajputana Rifles with “Raja Ram Chandra Ki Jai.” For Dogra regiment, the full-throated call of “Jwala Mata Ki Jai” is the motivator; Jammu & Kashmir infantry enjoin with “Durga Mata Ki Jai.” So it is with Naga regiment (Jai Durga Naga); Bihar regiment (Jai Bajrang bali) and Kumaon regiment (Kalika Mata Ki Jai). Yet these traditions would be communal in the eyes of pseudo-seculars.

On a different note, the in-your-face “Shastra Puja” hasn’t gone unnoticed to the discerners. A confident Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is no longer embarrassed in asserting the cultural identity of the nation. And to hell with those who portray it as tyranny of the majority, communal Hindutva and minority-in-crisis narrative.

 

Karnataka now, MP and Rajasthan tomorrow; Who saves Congress?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Critics are bemused; fans dismayed as Congress goes on a political ventilator. Vital organs (top leaders) and arteries (regional leaders) are giving up. Deep coma of a few decades, beckon. Can it survive?

When the patient is in ICU, it allows surgeons to do what is best. The trouble is these surgeons—Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra—can’t pick up the tools on the table.  All surgical tables have three types of instruments: (a) Cutting instruments like scissors, surgical blades, knives etc; (b) Grasping or holding instruments like forceps; and (c) Retractors, to hold the tissues and look at malaise which is beneath. Our surgeons, however, can’t feel a twitch in their frames.

One of the surgeons did make his move early. Rahul Gandhi resigned and resigned while an assortment of assistants wailed and vowed to prevail against his resolve. Priyanka Gandhi-Vandra was beholden to this virtuous man who was her brother. Mamma darling, meanwhile, pursed her lips and awaited for the inevitable offer to land on her shoulders which age and illness have slumped. What next?

Enter Congress Working Committee (CWC). This is the club of the comatose whose prime office-bearers are no other than our three surgeons. The rest are made up of walking corpses, ghosts too benign to affect a single voter and vultures who despite cleanest of clothes, trimmed beards and dyed pates, are only for interface with a servile media.

Thus our surgeons and this august club are interchangeable. The club would only do what the surgeons ask them to do. So this club could accept the resignations of Scindias and Deoras but would dither on Rahul Gandhi. It would never say no to flying resignations in the room from Telangana, Goa or Karnataka.  Maybe both the surgeons and the club should quit and replant a new setup.

Easier said than done. The precedent itself is sobering. It was once attempted in 1992, the first Congress’ organizational elections in two decades. Narasimha Rao emerged as the party president. A new CWC and All-India Congress Committee (AICC) were constituted in Tirupathi. New office-bearers and committees were constituted for two years. However, two years later in 1994, nobody quit. No fresh elections took place. The posts and its occupants were given an “indefinite extension.”

So fresh organizational elections within the Party would fool no-one. It might encourage factionalism and multiple splits to occur. Young Turks already have their hat in the ring and are smelling blood in the pool. Older ones—sample Ashok Gehlot who says Rajasthan wanted him as CM—are drawing whatever strength they could from the imbeciles like them. Nobody is losing sight that four assembly elections are slated within next few months.

Meanwhile there are practical issues too. In case both Rahul Gandhi and CWC go in a limbo, who strikes alliances and keeps regional dissidence in check? Kerala and Tamil Nadu might not be immediate issues; but what about 16 other states where they have been hammered like nails into the wall. Even the loyalists like Navjot Singh Sidhu are making public their resignations to the Congress president Rahul Gandhi: the same man who once promised to quit if Gandhi lost in Amethi.

The dark clouds of Karnataka are portending something far more sinister. This is model which would replicate itself in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan soon. MLAs would quit and the nebulous hold of the Party would be evident. The same routine of assembly Speaker holding firm, “sticking” to Constitutional values, Supreme Court nudging him to the inevitable collapse, would occur.

Another step and Congress is off the cliff. A few self-serving individuals have driven the Grand Old Party to its moment of truth. It’s a sitting duck to the winds of change. It lied on Rafale and economy and the poor didn’t buy their “Nyaya” lollipop. It ranted and railed against Narendra Modi and it didn’t work. It’s cry on “democracy”; “idea of India” and “secular values” only earned snides. That’s why the patient is left with its final few breaths. It could be born again but for that it has to die first. The point is who pulls the plug?

 

CJI alleged misconduct: Why is Lutyens Media afraid of Utsav Bains?

Try hard as you might Lutyens Media, you won’t be able to keep Utsav Bains (in the picture) in the locker in your campaign against the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in an alleged sexual misconduct case.

Before we come to Utsav Bains, let’s assume that the uncommon coverage you see in Lutyens Media, especially The Indian Express and The Hindu, about the alleged sexual misconduct on the part of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is borne out of disgust and concern for the institution of judiciary in this country.

Let’s also assume that these newspapers have reasons to ignore CJI’s plea to the media to show “restraint” since they believe the CJI has not followed the natural course of justice in including himself in the three-bench hearing of last Saturday against the allegations.

Indian Express has kind of swarmed around the story in today’s edition (April 24, 2019) like a bunch of bees. It’s not one but two edit pieces on the matter and the first and second lead on front page are more opinion pieces than factual reporting. Sample this (second lead): “Laxman Singh Negi, a senior assistant with the Rajya Sabha secretariat, said that his request was ignored and the woman was not given an opportunity to defend herself. THAT’S NOT ALL. A key Supreme Court official wasn’t even questioned.”

“That’s not all” hasn’t been said by any person involved with this case. This is by the Indian Express reporter. Clearly, the newspaper believes that the CJI is on the wrong. It’s not a case of neutral reporting.

If neutral, impartial reporting is the guiding principle of journalism, Lutyens Media has failed the test miserably. I haven’t read any report which mulls over CJI’s impassioned anguish: “It’s a political plot…an attempt to deactivate the CJI office since I am to hear important cases this week.” Imagine, CJI is hinting at a conspiracy and our “impartial” media doesn’t view it as a matter worth their time. No concern for the institution of judiciary being damaged.

A news report demands adequate representation of both sides. I can understand CJI is being ignored because he is an affected party. But what about lawyer Utsav Bains? His claim that this is a “larger conspiracy to make the CJI resign?” That Bains has filed an affidavit, claimed that he was offered Rs 50 lakhs to organize a press conference for the woman-staffer, and perceived a nexus between “SC fixers, corporate scamsters, a few corrupt politicians?” Doesn’t it deserve a closer attention?

So we have this curious case where four news web portals clearly seem hand in gloves; a few newspapers are working in unison, whipping up hysteria without giving the other side any opportunity or platform to present their side of the story.  Bains’ Facebook post on this matter is in public domain for four days—but none of our intrepid journalists have bothered to bring it to the notice of their readers. Bains has said that he has evidence on the conspiracy. Yet it is being glossed over. There is no worry if Bains’ public stance could virtually finish his legal career at the ripe young age of 32. His Facebook page is indicative of trauma and stress he is presently undergoing for taking the mask off what he believes is a conspiracy. Yet not even a yawn! This, when he is already a celebrity lawyer given high profile cases such as Bapu Asaram’s.

There is little doubt that this hysteria is being stirred up to ensure that CJI Ranjan Gogoi excuses himself from his high seat till the sexual misconduct allegation is settled. This nexus is also banking on the premise that under pressure CJI could resign from his position. Probably, the calculation is, if CJI Ranjan Gogoi goes then the important cases this week—among which a contempt notice against Rahul Gandhi and hearing on Rafale is due on April 30—could have a favourable bearing. However, given the combative stance of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, the plotters have caught themselves in a bind. The next few days, one way or the other, could settle the destiny of a few highly-placed individuals. Simply, we can’t wait.

 

 

Two issues which could bring Rahul Gandhi’s campaign to a grinding halt

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

In annals, April 22, 2019 could be remembered as the date when Rahul Gandhi’s lies finally caught up with him.

An early call in the day would be taken by Election Commission if Rahul Gandhi indeed could contest the 2019 General Elections after scrutinizing his nomination papers in Amethi. Separate complaints filed in this regard claim that Rahul Gandhi had declared himself a British citizen of a company registered in the United Kingdom in the past. As per the Representation of People’s Act 1951, an individual who is not an Indian citizen cannot contest elections in India.

The second issue concerns Rahul Gandhi’s reply on a contempt notice which must reach the Supreme Court before the day April 22 is out. Supreme Court is due to hear a petition next day on Tuesday, filed against Rahul Gandhi for claiming that even Supreme Court has said chowkidar ne chori karwai (PM Modi caused theft in the purchase of Rafale jets) when the SC said nothing of the sort.

That Congress president is nervous is no-brainer. One, his counsel had sought 48 hours to reply on Rahul Gandhi’s real citizenship!!! Seeking so many hours on a basic issue implies that some ingenuity would be pulled out from under the hat. Even if Rahul Gandhi gets past this sticky issue unharmed, he could be hard put to present his educational degrees for it is alleged it belongs to one Raul Vinci. Is Rahul Gandhi and Raul Vinci the same person???

(An in-depth account on this could be read from this report which says that BJP leader Dr. Subramaniam Swamy way back in 2017 had submitted all the relevant documents to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh regarding Rahul Gandhi’s dual citizenship).

The other issue of SC hearing a complaint petition against him is a time-bomb ticking. If Rahul Gandhi’s reply on April 22, which precedes the hearing next day, contain his apology, all his posturing on Rafale and “chor chowkidar” shrill cry would be busted. If he holds his ground and found to have made false assertions, the punishment could involve fine or jail or both, as per the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. In such a scenario, Rahul Gandhi would be left with no issue to dwell with in his campaign rallies, that is if he survives the Amethi scrutiny.

The developments of last Friday (April 19, 2019), when four Leftist news portals sent a similar questionnaire to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on a former woman-staffer’s allegation of molestation against the latter, followed by Justice Gogoi summoning an extraordinary bench hearing on Saturday, looks to have blocked all escape routes for Rahul Gandhi.

If CJI Ranjan Gogoi’s words are any indication –“It’s a plot planned to deactivate CJI office…as I would be hearing important cases this week,”—this coordinated, well-calibrated sharp attack against CJI Ranjan Gogoi has backfired. The sexual misconduct storm could have led to Justice Ranjan Gogoi excusing himself from hearing the contempt of court notice against Rahul Gandhi. Now Justice Ranjan Gogoi has already given hint to his position on the matter by stating that he wouldn’t buckle down under pressure.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi had also asked media to show restraint in covering the matter which clearly is not possible, at least with Indian Express and The Hindu newspapers. Both have penned editorials in their daily edition today (April 22, 2019), criticizing Justice Ranjan Gogoi for dealing with the sexual misconduct allegation in a ham-handed manner. Both have questioned the propriety of Justice Gogoi’s conduct though not once have they questioned the four online news portals—The Wire, The Scroll, Caravan, Leaflet—for publishing the name of accuser and accused which is defamatory in nature. It makes both the Indian Express and The Hindu appear in the same corner, as these four online news portals, accused of conspiracy by the CJI himself.

The reputation of Lutyens Media is also not helped by the fact that they have turned their gaze away from the developments in Amethi where Rahul Gandhi risks being debarred from contesting the 2019 General Elections. If it was to happen, it would be a political earthquake of a magnitude of unimaginable scale.

 

Rahul Gandhi has shut the door on being next Prime Minister

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda feels Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra would do better than Rahul Gandhi and that’s a serious indictment of Congress party chief who harbours the ambition of becoming Prime Minister after the 2019 General Elections.

“I think Priyanka Gandhi would do better than Rahul Gandhi,” said Gowda in an interview to The Hindu which almost implies that he views the scion of Gandhi dynasty as no challenge to BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gowda was unable to conceal his disappointment at the Congress for failing to build on alliance with regional forces after all of them came on stage at the swearing in ceremony of his son H.D. Kumaraswamy as chief minister of Karnataka eight months ago.

“The Congress could’ve taken forward the unity of the Opposition by organizing rallies with regional parties…It’s been eight months since the national leaders congregated for a show of strength in Bengaluru,” said a dejected Gowda.

Since the heady, though unholy, mix of Congress-JD(S) in Karnataka eight months ago, all Congress has done is to annoy the heavyweight regional satraps of the country. Kumaraswamy threatens to quit every single day; Mayawati loses no opportunity to take a swipe at Rahul Gandhi; Akhilesh Yadav has gone ahead and hugged BSP ignoring Congress completely in the vital state of Uttar Pradesh; Mamata Banerjee is angry that Rahul Gandhi didn’t respond to her calls in Tripura elections; and Arvind Kejriwal wouldn’t have anything to do with Congress in Delhi or Punjab.

“Mayawati sought 10 seats in the recent polls to the Madhya Pradesh assembly. The Congress could’ve conceded the demand. But it didn’t,” said a visibly dejected Gowda.

Such is the hubris of Congress that they stayed aloof and watched Shiv Sena and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan walk over to the BJP corner papering over a potential split.

Surely Rahul Gandhi is aware that a poorer showing than 44 seats in 2014 elections could imply a political oblivion for him. Not only his party but he too faces an uncertain future. Why then is he not tightening his belt and attempting to be in the driver’s seat?

Surely arrogance rather than common sense is getting the better of Rahul Gandhi. These are not the times when regional chiefs would make a beeline to him. Remember, Mamata Banerjee didn’t invite Congress in her mahagathbandhan rally recently. A party fighting for its very survival can’t be so smug. Maybe the wins in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh have caused hubris. The irony is Congress party’s slogan in 2014 elections was: Main nahin, hum (It’s not about me but us).

Let’s not forget the insecurity too which kind of freezes Mr. Gandhi. He doesn’t seem to have done much for the next-generation leaders of Congress. When was the last you heard Sachin Pilot or Jyotiraditya Scindia make a statement on national issues? Mud-slinging on Modi with trumped up issues of Rafale etc has been both a waste of energy and time.

All this indicates that the door on Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister, in case the opposition is able to muster enough seats, is as good as shut. Congress would’ve to do remarkably better and command at least 100 seats in the 2019 elections for regional heavyweights to make space for it. Probably Rahul Gandhi is banking on a similar dream. Possibly his Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) bluster could yield gains though the bad accounting would show up. With shut eyes, you see, one could only go so far.

 

 

Rahul Gandhi’s Minimum Income Guarantee is a scary bluster

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has promised a Minimum Guarantee Income (MIG) for “for every poor person” in the country and frankly he has bitten more than he or his party can chew without an upset stomach.  A few basic questions:

  • Does he mean “every poor person” or every “poor household”?

As per an expert committee report, under former Reserve Bank of India governor C. Rangarajan in June 2014, 363 million Indians were poor. But if we go by the number of poor households, given an official figure of 4.9 persons per household, the figure would come down to nearly 53 million poors.

  • Does he mean to raise funds by cutting down on various welfare schemes or would it come by raising taxes?

Cutting down on various welfare schemes would be disastrous. For what’s the point of providing minimum income when a poor has to make do with his own expense on the matters of food, healthcare or guaranteed employment? As per its own 2017 document on the Universal Basic Income (UBI) issue, the Congress has stated: “UBI is welcome, but not at the cost of existing welfare schemes like MGNREGA or through reduced spending on education and health.”

Raising taxes is again a no-no for it would mean fiscal deficit in double figures and a runaway inflation.

(c) What’s the minimum amount Rahul Gandhi has in mind to give to each poor?

According to Economic Survey report of 2016-2017, UBI (similar to MIG) of Rs 7,620 per year could cost as much as 5 per cent of the GDP. It would create a “While-Rome-Was-Burning-Nero-Was-Fiddling” syndrome. A benefit of Rs 600-700 per month to each poor, without raising taxes or cutting down on socialist schemes, is completely unfeasible.

By its own admission in the document mentioned above, the Congress party had declared in 2017: “What the minimum amount should be/could be controversial.”

But then we have P. Chidambaram, the Gandhi loyalist, being almost coy in declaring that the Congress party will find the resources to implement the scheme. He too, like Gandhi, hasn’t given the details. Unless both have plans to donate their own considerable funds and resources, not necessarily from scams, Rahul Gandhi’s MIG plan looks a bluster.

Remember, this is the very party whose defence minister A.K. Antony had declared that UPA 1 and 2 didn’t have the money to buy the Rafale aircrafts. (no misquoting here, watch the video).

Like before, the mainstream media has swallowed Rahul Gandhi’s bluster hook, line and sinker. There is no questioning of his words, no editorial columns, no analysis. (Just compare it with the reaction of mainstream media when the Modi government had promised 10 per cent quota to poor ONLY in public jobs and higher education). Indian Express hasn’t even covered Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s detailed reaction: “His party was in power for 58 years—if poll promises had been kept, the face of the country would’ve been different,” Prasad has said. (Again, contrast this when BJP makes an announcement: Ghluam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Abhishek Sanghvi, Kapil Sibal or Malikarjun Kharge are always available with readymade quotes).

Indeed, didn’t Rahul Gandhi’s granny, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had given the “Garibi Hatao” slogan in 1971?  (Does Mr Gandhi mean his granny had then lied or is his meant to be a similar lie?)

During his speech, Rahul Gandhi also said: “Whatever I say I do. Whether it’s loan waivers…I complete the promises I make.” (Even though his face-off with Union Minister Arun Jaitley’s in Parliament recently, where the latter said: He (Rahul) lies five times a day, has remained uncontested. The Rafale lies have already been busted by the Supreme Court. )

Let’s look at loan-waivers in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where Congress now is in power. Loans allegedly were waived for those who hadn’t taken loans or had died. In some cases, Rs. 50 loans were waived off. Prime Minister Narendra Modi exposed loan-waiver lies in a public rally recently.

Rahul Gandhi and his Congress party would now have to come out with MIG details—and it must in the party’s manifesto in March for the 2019 General Elections. If it doesn’t, then Rahul Gandhi’s latest bluster is a pre-emptive blank strike against the measures Modi government could announce in the annual budget session later this week.

 

What I won’t do if I was a Rahul Gandhi

It’s only for their own good that Indian National Congress stop shouting hollow the “corruption” charge against Narendra Modi and his ministers in the garb of Rafale. Such charges may get an echo from your very own drummer boys and girls in media but is self-defeating. Mercenaries can do a lot of things but don’t appeal to logic. First, you dream a self-image; then pay the pen-pushers to give words to it; and then read and believe it. How stupid could you get?

Only, if they were to ask average readers, three questions would be thrown back at them: (1) Who made the charge (2) Why’s the charge; (3) What’s the follow-up?

So (a) Congress and opposition has made the charge; (b) the charge is of inflated bills for Rafale jets; and (c) err…no follow-up!!!

No follow-up? You mean no cases filed against corrupt ministers? No CBI, ED, Income Tax inquiries? No request for midnight anticipatory bails?

You see what I am leading to? Just imagine the picture: Rahul Gandhi in a residential colony of Delhi, say Safdarjung, asking a housewife on Rafale and being shot back at with these three questions. How do you think he would reply???

Let’s say Gandhi is carrying the clippings from Lutyens Media, The (pants on) Fire, Hugpost, TheScowl, ThePint, TheSquint as his file of defence. He dramatically pulls them out and says: yeh dekho, yeh dekho aur yeh bhi dheko!!! All can’t be wrong!

Oh, so it’s going to the chambers of our very own defence minister? But then she’s only be around 10 months? Why 10 months, even in the entire four-plus years of NDA, we haven’t heard of any corruption charge against any Central minister? Be it Union, minister of state or Independents in the Centre. No mid-night bail dramas, no-anticipatory reliefs. And you mean we have a corrupt government in the Centre?

How do you think Rahul Gandhi would reply? When names such as Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Ravishankar Prasad, Prakash Javedkar, Jayant Sinha, Kirren Rijju, Nirmala Sitharaman, Manohar Parikkar, Rajyavardhan Rathore, Suresh Prabhu or Manoj Sinha are taken aloud in his face? How do you think he would react to this question: “Mr Gandhi, none of the above in the eyes of neutral citizens of this country are seen as corrupt. Not even by the media you quote. On the contrary, we know you and your mother are on a bail; your brother-in-law’s company is fighting 18 fraud cases; your pre-eminent minister Chidambaram and his son are anticipating arrests, etc. What makes you think we believe you?”

That’s the whole point: Corruption and this Modi government don’t connect. Insinuations are not charges. Claims are no evidence. Shouting is no logic. Especially when said by a voice which must end with a hug or a wink. A person who flies abroad while his party is bloodied on a political turf; a “young” leader whose’ voice on social media don’t seem to be his very own.

Let’s bring another relevant issue to the debate. Just google “Modi Arrogant.” You would have many of the above suspects voicing in unison: YES. That he is a dictator. He has reduced everybody to rubber-stump in the Cabinet etc.

Tell me frankly, do men like Gadkari, Rajnath, Goyal or Prasad look like errand-boys to you? Sushma, Nirmal and Smriti house-attendants? Rijju, Rathore, Parrikkar or Prabhus lawn-makers? Haven’t they carved out respect in the eyes of the people due to their hard work and integrity? Haven’t they survived because they are competent and not because they fear “Dictator Modi.”

Congress and its’ echo-chamber today is completely divorced from reality. Such antics are only good to fool yourself. That’s like you are spot-running, going nowhere. If I was Rahul Gandhi, I would take a sabbatical, withdraw from this heat of the battle, go on a personal, physical “Discovery of India.” Know real men, know real India, know real issues. That’s what the original Gandhi did. That’s what our present so-far-dummy Gandhi must do.

 

Lutyens Media is drummer boy for Rahul Gandhi

It’s without bitterness or rancour that I point out how the rotten media—both Indian and Western—keeps the “Dead Man Walking,” that is, Indian National Congress.

Vir Sanghvi, out from the edit pages of Hindustan Times for nearly a decade after the Radia Tapes leaks, is back strategically ahead of the 2019 Elections. On Friday, he warned BJP it has a “fight on its hands,” since “Rahul Gandhi has grown in confidence.” The first time Sanghvi’s political pen is unfrozen in a decade, it flows in obeisance. To take a hint from his own Brunch column, it’s in “rude taste.’

The last we saw of the child-boy Rahul on national screen was during the “hug debate” in Parliament last Friday. He had a dark visage, stung by the rebuke of generally mild Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, followed by BJP’s Anurag Thakur ripping open his Rafale lies in front of the nation.

Yet the same newspaper, only a couple of days before, was showcasing Shekhar Gupta almost celebrating the “Bofors moment” of BJP on Rafale. Now Shekhar isn’t shy on Congress or slinking type—remember how he made light of “pimping-for-Congress” remark of Arvind Kejriwal? So boldly Shekhar has gone ahead and penned another piece close on its heels—and you’ve guessed it right: “He (Rahul) has risen in stature as a pre-eminent leader of opposition.”

The next name which came almost instinctively to my mind was Barkha Dutt. Why? Because she links with Sanghvi as one who was badly stung by Radia Tapes leaks; and with Shekhar as a columnist in his venture to which once she briefly was a partner.

Barkha these days is usually found parked in Washington Post. She found Rahul Gandhi winner all over on “Hug Day” in front of the nation: “He won the headlines…he won the talking points.’

If Barkha is around can Sagarika Ghose be behind? She is used to being called a Gandhi loyalist. Her first sentence in Times of India on Rahul-hug is: “(it) has  stunned the government and left the Prime Minister looking thunderstruck.” Her husband, Rajdeep Sardesai, was far more nuanced but still couldn’t resist stating: “Pappu can hug saala.”

None of them realize that if there is one definitive moment which has sealed Rahul Gandhi’s fate in the eyes of the nation (as well in the eyes of other prospective allies) it is this “hug moment.” He looked kiddish, impulsive—first asking Modi to get up from his seat and when the wily Prime Minister didn’t oblige—throwing himself at him like a sack. He then allowed himself to be called back by PM; to be patted; and sent hurtling back to his seat. It was not a “winner” but a very “poor optics” beamed to millions. He became a laughing stock and sealed his fate with his own act.

And so have these court-jesters who masquerade as journalists. Remember the words most of them had to say about “Hugplomacy” of Modi: if you believed them or their Western ilks, Modi had made himself a laughing stock in front of world leaders.

Read BBC (“he has become a caricature of himself”); Washington Post (Modi an awkward hugger); Quartz (penchant for bear hugs) or news outlets closer home, unfailingly you’d find Modi plastered to the wall for offering warm hugs to fellow statesmen and leaders. But when Rahul Gandhi does so, all of these pen-pushers can’t stop gushing in admiration. The same Congress which ridiculed Modi and his hug on a youtube video, now has posters where Rahul’s hug has all but saved humanity. I mean how ludicrous could it get???