Sonia

Barkha Dutt’s bizarre rant on P. Chidambaram in Tihar jail

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

On the two sides of political divide, India’s Right and Left-Liberals, only a handful enjoy a persona such as P. Chidambaram. He is an elite among elitists, second only to Gandhis, and his gravitas in public appearances suggests of a man bred in arrogance. He isn’t of a light-banter type, back-slapping his friends. Never a dhoti and a khadi shirt has been worn with a swagger which could put  rockstar in shade.

Chidambaram wears a smile which he could patent. It’s a benign, patronizing smile, never warm, only a favour which he is bestowing to his audience. When he speaks, there is this cocked eyebrow judging you on your incompetence. He is that Pope of politics who is used to reverence from his audience.

In a sense, it’s a classic cloak borrowed off from the Nehru-Gandhis: A benevolent knight, God’s chosen one for his people, who must have his cake while the masses must revel in the crumbs. A blue-blooded Congressman never questions the scions; and never lets down the coterie and sycophants who must do his bidding.

The morning after Tihar got arguably its most famous occupant, Lutyens Media who breed and multiply like mosquito do in sewers and gutters, were busy treating the moment as a victory of sorts. Hindustan Times lettered “Chidambaram, Karti get relief from arrest”;  Times of India made much of Supreme Court disapproving of High Court judge quoting Enforcement Directorate (ED) note; The Hindu didn’t forget to mention Chidambaram and son got anticipatory bail in Aircel-Maxis money laundering case;  and Indian Express, the daddy of them all, front-paged “Judge-slams-agencies”.

I mean a heavyweight-like-few-others is in notorious Tihar jail. Chidambaram is a thread which could showcase the entire gamut of alleged corruption in the decade (2004-2014) of UPA rule, reveal the arteries and veins which gutted body India, arguably institutionalized corruption; sterilized bureaucracy and defanged investigating agencies. It has a far bigger implication for the present and the future then a mere judicial custody. Yet our Lutyens Media has just taken a note of his arrest: There are no sermons, no digging up the dirt, no editorial – nothing.

The servile TV channels for once were not too keen on TRPs. None of them stationed their cameras in front of Tihar Jail for images which could have lasted them a week. No helicopters like they did once as Sanjay Dutt was being whisked to the Yerwada jail. These were the very channels who were aghast when CBI men were jumping the fence of Chidambaram’s residence. Yet the TV grabs of the year were not shot, nor archived for posterity. As if they wanted to erase people’s memory, sanitize history.

I scanned the timeline of Shekhar Gupta, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose etc on twitter and found nothing this morning. JUST NOTHING.  The one of Barkha Dutt though was outrageous. She may have changed media affiliations faster than actors change clothes in a song sequence but her crooked logic is unimpaired.

Ms Dutt is aghast as to why Congress is not taking to the streets on the matter of P. Chidambaram! Could you believe it! Ms Dutt is asking Congress to mobilize public opinion and come out in support of its two stalwarts (the other one being DK Shivakumar). She would rather have the party alienate the people than dump the allegedly corrupt. She is exhorting Congress to defend the two infamous.  She views DK Shivakumar as a fire-fighter for Congress; and can’t get over the fact that the Party has done no better than depute its legal luminaries or arrange just a press conference for P. Chidambaram. She is asking Sonia and Rahul to sit outside PC’s residence and court arrest alongside him. She is asking if Priyanka Gandhi could accompany Robert Vadra, why not here? Barkha sure is a queen of the bizarre.

It is no different to how Lutyens Media treated the Sunanda Pushkar murder (yes, murder now that it has been established she was poisoned). There was no journalism of courage, no intense gaze which could penetrate the layers of deception. Or how they treated the Sonia-Rahul bail in National Herald case, AgustaWestland and many other scams: just in passing. It’s different from the anniversary they run on an Akhlaq and a Pehlu Khan; a Gauri Lankesh or an Asifa Bano.

There is no escaping the fact that a few luminaries and media houses are part of this “eco-system.” This eco-system is willing to ignore corruption, blood stains, violence, seditious conduct and harm to this country as long as it serves their agenda. Their sense of democracy and secularism has a skewed prism. Never lose an opportunity to hang them out to dry.

Manmohan Singh and the winter of public life

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

The winter of public life is setting upon Dr. Manmohan Singh.  By all accounts, it is doing no good to his feeble frame. Or self-esteem, never mind it wasn’t on rack under the canopy of the Gandhis in the first place.

The 87-year-old former Prime Minister, twice over, is battling on many fronts and it isn’t just the aftereffects of multiple cardiac bypass surgeries he has had to endure on self. He seems to have been let down by his own women and men, or mother-son duo if you may, though the news doing public rounds is his anger the ruling dispensation of BJP at the Centre.

The latest bit is Dr. Singh’s refusal to accept the trimmed numbers of his personal staff to five—two each personal assistants and peons and one lower-division clerk—against the 14 he perceives is his right. Dr. Singh has been pretty dogged in pursuing the matter and given the number of letters he has shot across to PMO, one could only say that his one lower-division clerk is worth every single penny.

It’s a cry in wilderness for nothing. A man who was used to 500 persons crowding PMO for a decade, is now left with just five. It’s a cut as drastic as the surgical strike he did on state-command economy in the 90s. The setback is as much functional as psychological. You need translators and stenographers; Photostat operators and dispatch riders, drivers, carpenters and even cook!  There are weekly offs, one or two on leave due to marriage in neighbourhood, and who pays for overtime in case the assistant is asked to stay back for second shift?

There are bound to be letters and invitations to a man who once presided over the destiny of 1.30 billion people, even if by remote.  Phones must be ringing incessantly. Door bells being pressed all so often. A posse of doctors and nurses pacing up and down the hall. Rent-a-quote journalists from The Indian Express and The Hindu spread on the couches of the living room. It’s a fair bit of nuisance.

A prime minister leaving his office is still worth the rank of a cabinet minister, says the rulebook. But it’s only for five years after he demits his office. It’s Modi’s second term now. Privileges aren’t for life, you see.

Can’t Dr Singh engage his own staff? But then he is no longer a Prime Minister drawing a salary of Rs 1.6 lakhs. He is no longer a Member of Parliament from Rajya Sabha too which is worth a lakh of rupees every month. (How he must be cursing the mother-son duo of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi who moved heavens to get an Ahmed Patel elected to Rajya Sabha but didn’t twitch an eyebrow in dumping Dr. Singh’s candidature).

Don’t you believe that only because he presided over a scam-ridden UPA regime, Dr. Singh is cash rich. For many a years, he drove Maruti 800. If Khushwant Singh’s book, “Absolute Khuswant” isn’t as fake as his Sikh history, and he wasn’t under the influence of wine or women or both, Dr. Singh once borrowed Rs 2 lakhs from him to fight the 1991 Lok Sabha elections. Dr. Singh’s progenies are academicians like him. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are saving for the rainy days. Besides, what could you expect from a man who publicly tore your policy papers in front of whirring cameras? Or a Congress who saw him fit for no role during the 2019 General Elections even though the party was fighting for its’ life?

Modi doesn’t look a man who would junk the rulebook. On his person too, Modi has a cash of only Rs 38,750 even though the fixed deposit is Rs 1.27 crores (as per the details in his 2019 Poll affidavit).  How could the present PM help an ex-PM? Could Dr. Singh appeal to former vice-president Hamid Ansari and his Muslim brethren given how charitable he was in declaring Muslims to have the first right on India’s resources? Could Capt. Amrinder Singh listen to the wails of a fellow Sikh  and override his seething anger against the High Command who have unleashed a barking Navjot Singh Sidhu on his coattails?

Dr Singh has practically come to an end to his public life. Neither his own men and women want him, nor does the ruling dispensation have any affinity for him. Public base for Dr. Singh in any case was flimsy.  He flourished on the benign grants of Congress’ aristocracy. The plank has now been pulled from under his feet. And he doesn’t even have a straw to clutch on to. But then when Lutyens Delhi has been kind to even its own deities?

 

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.

Congress is over in our lifetime

The other day, having a conversation with a senior Congress leader, I smelled the smoke of a pyre that has burnt itself out. Skin, veins, eyes, organs, blood all reduced to ashes; dying embers long dead. Yet here was this man, almost a ghost, preening on his party’s excellent future.

The recent assembly elections had just been out. Congress had met the fate which once was Pompeii’s—buried under the fire, pumice, debris and rocks of Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption. Wiped out of history’s consciousness. One day, Congress like Pompeii could be rediscovered—for the time being it’s irrelevant in India’s scheme of things.

This idiot couldn’t comprehend the significance. That Congress was still around in 11 states in the 2014 election debacle; that it’s tally now is left only to seven—only one state of consequence in Karnataka. Bihar lost since 1990; UP since 1989; MP since 2003; booted out of Tamil Nadu since 1967; the same as in West Bengal; a spent force in Andhra Pradesh and the newbie Telengana. Gujarat? You said it. Maharashtra, Karantaka, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan is a disaster hidden from this joker’s view.

It didn’t register with him that Congress’ alliance is bad news for unsuspecting regional satraps these days. Ask Left who has been left singed in West Bengal; or DMK in Tamil Nadu which is in the midst of self-flagellation. It also escaped him that BJP rules in 16 of 29 states and has approval of 45% of population—contrast to Congress’ 6-7% share.

Yet this imbecile chose to fly in the face of logic. He pointed out Congress return from the disaster of Emergency-hit 1977; on how it came back to bite its critics from the hopelessness of 1989 and 1996.  Under the leadership of Rahul Baba, Congress could only look up.

The fact is Rahul Gandhi has brought Congress closer to extinction. He still believes in such sycophants ignoring the verdict of nation’s electorates. It’s lost on him that Rahul Gandhi’s presence in Bihar in 2010 was worth no better than three seats; that similar was the case in Uttar Pradesh in 2012. Frankly, Congress can’t be guaranteed a double-digit Lok Sabha seats in 2019. This is extinction, a Pompeii-fate nothing less.

I see a certainty in this prediction. Outside the ambit of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, there have been stalwarts from time to time who redeemed the struggling party. Sardar Vallabhai Patel unifed India; Lal Bahadur Shastri blazed the Green Revolution and PV Narasimha Rao introduced a liberalized vision to a largely socialist India.  But these were exceptions. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty never allowed a credible second line of command to grow within the party. Starting with Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru—in the manner John Mathai and C. Rajagopalachari were cast aside—to Indira Gandhi to Sonia Gandhi, credible voices were never allowed to grow. Manmohan Singh…P. Chidambaram even didn’t fight the elections. AK Antony was disgraced; Pranab Mukherjee moved to Rashtrapati Bhawan. The next round of leaders are Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid who already have lost face in elections.  

The arrogance of dynasty, like a Banyan tree, stunts the growth of everyone under its’ shadow. There’s hardly a credible leader left with the party. Those with any respect or vision long left the premises to take roots in their regions. And lo and behold, it’s Congress which is seeking them out far and wide in India.

Sonia wanted authority without responsibility; so is the case with Rahul Gandhi. They aren’t too keen to get their hands dirty and prefer to surround themselves with dim-wits like the one I ran into the other day.

With 20 state elections due in next four years, Congress’ use-by-date is over. BJP has reclaimed Chhatisgarh and Madhya Pradesh; grabbed Rajasthan and Goa and has a first-time government in Maharashtra and Haryana.  The “Congress-Mukt Bharat”  is for real.