Uddhav Thackeray

President’s Rule: What’s stoking this buzz in Maharashtra

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

India is worried on count of Maharashtra. The Western state appears to be losing the battle against Corona Virus. There are three matters which suggest we haven’t seen the worst yet.

One is a measure by the Mumbai Police. While imposing Section 144 till June 8, it prohibits any attempt on social media to incite mistrust against the government officials. It’s a loosely worded order which empowers the state machinery to take punitive measure on what it doesn’t like and considers as creating “mistrust” in public against it. It’s censorship otherly-worded.

Second is Rahul Gandhi going public in distancing himself from the Maharashtra government of which his party Congress is a part. In a video message, Gandhi said his party doesn’t have a say in key matters in running of the state.

Third is an Indian Express report which claims that there is “resentment in the cabinet” over Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s reliance on the bureaucracy who virtually are running the state’s Corona strategy and are “keeping ministers in the dark.”

Further, the Indian Express claims that the three partners in coalition—NCP, Congress, Shiv Sena—differ over lockdown. While Thackeray prefers an extension of lockdown, Pawar (NCP) “is keen on granting some relaxations.”

In plain terms, Corona is like a mad dog on the leash which is taking its master, the Maharashtra government, all over the place.  There is no firm hand to keep the canine on its trajectory. The Maha Aghadi (The Great Development Front) is a grumpy house where a key partner has distanced itself, the cabinet is sore over the bureaucracy and there is bickering on the lockdown strategy.

A few side issues haven’t won Maharashtra government many friends. The harassment of media personality Arnab Goswami is viewed prejudiced. The Palghar Lynchings of Sadhus is hanging fire. Then we had a few barons in the Yes Bank scandal, sought by state agencies, moving without intervention in their caravans amidst the lockdown. We now have reports where Shiv Sainiks (Shiv Sena cadre) have vandalized shops of individuals who allegedly didn’t have complimentary words for Thackeray. A FIR against the owners, two individuals, has added insult to injury.

Predictably, BJP has mounted pressure. The Railways minister Piyush Goyal has run hourly tweets on how Maharashtra government is doing nothing to avail Shramik Trains for stranded migrants. Now there are reports that a few BJP functionaries have met the governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari raising speculation over the President’s Rule. Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, on his part, has stated that they don’t need to win over any sitting MLAs as “they (Maha Aghadi) would collapse under its own weight.”

Meanwhile Loksatta, a Marathi news outlet, ran a twitter poll on whether the state should have President’s Rule. Within five hours, the voters leaned in favour of dissolution of assembly. Though the regional newspaper promptly dropped the poll, the twitteratis went to town on the mood of the people in Maharashtra.

Politics and power is small price compared to the catastrophe which is unfolding in the state. Cynics would say that it perhaps is the reason why Corona is spiralling out of control. So far up to 40 per cent of India’s numbers and deaths to the pandemic are accounted by the state of Maharashtra. The prized city of Mumbai has been gripped by the curse. The commercial capital of the country is bleeding and no end is in sight. It’s not good for state, definitely not for India. Besides, there is this question: How long could you keep the people locked out. How long would they watch the rest of india limp back to life while they are sealed between their four walls?

The alliance of convenience in Maharashtra must show itself as an alliance of saviours. Or give way to those who could get the job done.

 

Hoping for another Kejriwal and AAP model? You must be a fool

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Those looking to have new Arvind Kejriwals and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) replicated all across India are living in a fools’ world.

Delhi is unique in the sense that a ruling party doesn’t have to worry about law and order nor has a jurisdiction over its land as is the case elsewhere.

All it needs to do is look after infrastructure, health, schools, education etc and offer freebies without a thought in the world since its revenue is always in surplus compared to its expenses.

Figures show that Kerjiwal’s government has surplus money of over Rs 5000 crores. It’s education budget is 25 per cent of its revenue. The subsidizing of electricity has gone up by 6 per cent.

This enables Kejriwal to stuff Delhi’s mainstream corrupt media with advertisements worth tens of crores which in turn ensures that not a line in criticism appears in public domain.

Kejriwal also has the unique advantage of practically having an urban political party which can’t be compared with any other local, state or national party in India.

It’s no secret that Urban India gives the nation its growth and economy compared to rural folks but India’s cities don’t control its own revenue. All the money earned through local bodies in urban areas goes to state governments who divert it in the hands of farmers, poor etc in order to secure its vote-bank and remain in power.

Just look at ministerial portfolio distribution in the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra: The urban ministry has been retained by Uddhav Thackeray and it gives him control on most of the revenue earned in Mumbai and elsewhere in the state.

As per data, 32 per cent of India is urban while the rest is rural and hence it makes sense to divert a significant portion of your revenue towards rural areas and reap the benefits in elections.

In contrast, a Delhi government retains control of its landscape and its revenue and doesn’t have to divert its money anywhere.

Sure there are other Union Territories (Delhi is neither UT nor state but has a special status and hence enjoys legislative assembly) but nobody has the scale and depth of Delhi. Just consider: Delhi National Capital region and Mumbai metropolitan region, alone between themselves account for 9% of India’s population.

So for other Kejriwal and AAPs to emerge, a hopeful must have the (a) size of Delhi; (b) No rural vote-bank obligation; (c) no law or land obligation; (d) no subservience to a state party.  No other place than Delhi in India can claim to have this advantage.

On a larger note, it’s also a sign that sooner or later tens of urban political parties would emerge in India’s growing cities who would seek independence from the yoke of state governments.

At the moment, India’s Constitution doesn’t support such a division between power and responsibility between state and local levels but a change can’t be stopped in coming decades.

For one, India is increasingly growing urban. Surveys show that nearly 70 per cent of India would be urban by 2050. Already, from sky above, larger part of India appears to be towns, mini-cities or cities but the “definition” of “Urban” vis a vis “Rural” limits its numbers to 32 per cent only.

The definition of “urban” as per Indian laws is that the area must have its own municipality, cantonment and corporation board and must have a minimum population of 5,000.

Sooner than later, the state governments would have to cede control of their big cities in the hands of “mayors” since a great deal of rural India is moving towards cities in any case. This migration is unstoppable due to the lure and opportunities in big cities.

These mayors would be like Presidents of their cities, looking after its infrastructure, water, electricity, health, education etc and managing its own budget.  Diversion of its funds would not be feasible for state governments as most of their vote-banks would’ve moved to the towns and cities anyway.

Besides, badly managed cities where health, water, electricity, policing is ignored could lead to large-scale riots which would burn up the remote controlling powers in its own flames.

Hence, there is one Arvind Kejriwal, one AAP and one Delhi. Hoping a duplication of this format elsewhere in India is plain day-dreaming.

And hence brace yourself for BJP don’t ceding control of India’s political landscape in 2024 and beyond.

 

 

Modi and his eerie silence: Rivals are digging up their own grave

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

I am a little intrigued by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s prolonged silence since protests and strikes filled our newspapers from headmast to imprint line even if on ground it occupied only a dozen maidans and gullies of our immense country.

I am also a little perplexed why BJP is dead-stone cold on the virulent Western protest and even on the staged marches which are being taken from Cape Town to Canada (yes, yes, Prakash Javedkar has whispered his displeasure).

Mamata is being typically outrageous in Bengal; Pinaryi Vijayan is comically taking referendum in Kerala assembly; Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra is picking every destitute child from the street and posing with a straight face, Uddhav Thackeray is comparing JNU to 26/11 and Kamalnath is commenting on prime minister Narendra Modi’s parentage. The sidekicks like Yogendra Yadav and Sitaram Yechury are only finding time for the Left students in their alma mater. The Shekhar Guptas of the netherworld are swooning over a mercenary Deepika Padukone. Bollywood, meanwhile, has come out of their ivory towers and are squatting on Mumbai’s grimy streets in their Gucchis and Armanis.

I can understand if you the readers are bewildered on what’s causing this outrage. Some days it’s police which is doing too much; On other days it’s police which is doing nothing. Some days students’ violence in campus (JNU) is being seen as India being overtaken by fascist forces: On other days, students in Bengal doing worse violence are being hailed for staking their lives to keep “democracy” and “secularism”alive. The swords on CAA, NPR and NRC have been sheathed for the moment. But be assured, it’s only the lull before the storm. It’s clear as crystal that anarchists, riding the two wheels of political lust and youths’ naivety, want to run over the Modi government.

In its’ nearly six years in power, the Modi government has done everything by the book (Constitution). Even on an issue as emotive as Ram Janmabhoomi. So far, the people it is in conflict with, was playing by the same rule. But now the matrix of the game has changed. Order is up against anarchy. We know the roadmap of Anarchists. How do you think Order should respond?

First, Order can’t abandon the governance it has been entrusted with by the majority of 1.3 billion people in this country. It can’t pass the CAA in the Parliament and then develop cold feet. Or abandon the NPR and NRC which is to distinguish between the real and fake citizens. It can’t be hostage to whim of a few.

What worse could happen? People would hit the streets, logjams, violence, bad press etc. (Police and para-military forces would do what they need to do).  Urban youth could be alienated. Communal divide could be stoked. But why not trust millions more who are unseen and unheard but support your move?

I suspect BJP has worked out its way forward. It won’t be frozen into inaction. Policies would be formulated, legislation made and implemented. Law and order issues would be handled by law and order agencies. Let the ideological battle be settled by the people of this country. A hands-off approach actually seems a very smart move.

Let’s look at political and propaganda mafia. Both clearly want to spew so much poison that people of this country turn against the ruling dispensation. So they could seize control of political levers of the nation. But both are living in fantasy. These political parties—let’s take Congress and Left for example—don’t constitute more than 4-5 dozen seats in the parliament. Newspapers such as Indian Express don’t count more than a lakh in readership. English readership is heavily outnumbered by Hindi and regional press. It might feel good to see yourself mentioned in Western press and US democrats boardrooms. But it doesn’t win you elections. It won’t win you elections. All you do is to get trapped in your own propaganda. If nothing then learn from Donald Trump and Boris Johnson who you had given up as dead and who won such an emphatic mandate from the nameless and faceless.

It’s these nameless and faceless who would make a choice. Not a perfumed elite. That’s why you see BJP is not worried. That’s why it would do what it has to do. Left-Liberals-Bollywood could sing and create its national anthem. They could hope on an organic students’ protest in a few campuses. But it’s a minuscule and doesn’t speak for the majority of youth. BJP would have its own version of Hum Dekhenge.

Most importantly, all this has brought the threat of break-India forces alive to the Hindus of the nation. It would keep Hindus on their toes—and united. By stepping back, Modi dispensation is actually asking the silent majority to be aware of the danger it faces. The majority now knows exactly whom it is up against. The majority always had the numbers. Now it is infused with a new will. It has come about because Modi, that political animal, has chosen to be silent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abki baar, 400 Paar: BJP shows up break-India forces

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Think of all the reasons you could in opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and you would’ve all of your answers in these two pieces (here and here). If you still want to get your man, Amit Shah, then the latter’s words in the Rajya Sabha would make you seek penance for the sins of your mind.

After you’ve done the hard work to cleanse yourself of your prejudice, try to make sense why stations are being burnt in Bengal; why Islamist Jihadists have given a call to put flame to Kerala and why chief ministers of at least five states—Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Punjab and Bengal—are defiant. And then ask yourself what kind of “secularism” and “democracy” these rogues have in mind without adhering to judiciary, parliament and the Constitution?

Now if you still try to bog me down in justifying your “anti-Muslim” slant of the Citizenship Act, I would still nudge you to the above references unless you could convince me that the Sun doesn’t always rises in the East.

There’s another clarity you must’ve before we proceed any further. Is this a popular “revolt” against the Citizenship Act or a “whipped” one? Assam is now seeing reason after being misguided on fear on its language and culture but everything else is “drama” and a dangerous one at that. Goons who are burning up the railway stations in Bengal aren’t doing it to save India’s “democracy”.

Let’s look at the two opposing sides—those in the pitched battle for and against the Citizenship Act. The five Chief Ministers are hell-bent they would slam the door shut on the Act. This is all bluster. There is no way they could block this Citizenship Act in their domains. Judiciary could come down heavily on them; Centre could dismiss them for trying to unravel the unitary structure of the nation; and people could make sure their political careers—and that of their parties—is buried deep on the floor of the oceans.

Let’s look closely at the affiliation of these five Chief Ministers. Three of them are run or controlled by the Congress—Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. The two others—Kerala and Bengal—are accused of treating Hindus as lesser citizens of their states, as critics would point out with the instances on Durga Visarjan and Sabrimala.  Maharashtra too might deny Citizenship Act as the strings of Uddhav Thackeray are pulled by Congress.

It is thus a “political”rage  and not one for secularism and democracy. Congress is fighting for its survival and so are Mamata Banerjee (Bengal) and Pinaryi Vijayan (Kerala) as the 2019 elections have shown. All these forces have ceded the political ground on Hindus to the BJP.  Their vote-bank of Muslims is all but lost: Triple Talaq, Ayodhya, Article 370 and Citizenship Act instantly come to mind. Shunned by Hindus and abandoned by Muslims, these forces are staring at political oblivion

So their best hope is anarchy. Judiciary exposes them at every given stage: Remember Rafale, Article 370 or Ayodhya as instances. People see them singing the same tune as arch enemies Pakistan. The ruling dispensation holds them up on corruption and convenient stands. The last throw of the dice appears to be their hope for agitations on streets, swelled by students of bastions of a select universities, and foreign intervention in the form of West and their stooge institutions, including the United Nations and a corrupt media. Lutyens Media in India is a drummer of such inimical forces against a strong India.  Why, the overseas wing of Congress has already given a call to hold demonstrations outside embassies around the world, against the Citizenship Act.

The biggest fear of these forces is political oblivion in case Indian Muslims pull the plug on them. The Muslim vote-bank no longer sees Congress and similar forces as dependable. It could lead to fundamentalist forces within Indian Muslims to assume leadership and dump Congress and their likes for good. It would amount to their political annihilation.

The other side, favouring Citizenship Act, have logic and reason with them. It gives them an ironclad moral shield at least in the eyes of the majority in this country. In raising the charge of divisiveness, the Opposition is only strengthening BJP’s hands. It’s getting the majority in this country behind Modi and Shah and exposing themselves as inimical forces working against the interest of India. How would Hindus see a Shiv Sena or Sikhs would view Shiromani Akali Dal if the inclusion of their brothers and sisters from across the border is opposed by these parties?

“Abki baar, 400 paar” could after all come true in 2024 elections, given how a stupid Opposition is squandering the last penny of their political capital.

Post Script: I end the piece as I began it: By referring a piece to your attention. It would give you a bigger picture and firm up your spine in the defence of your country and its people.

We can’t leave India to our politicians or professors

The smugness on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s face as if Messiah of peace between India and Pakistan, as he made way for Kartarpur across Wagah border, really got my goat up. Surely he knows Imran Khan is just a dummy; that terrorism both for Khalistan and Kashmir (or for Kabul) is our neighbour’s export, that for Vajpayee’s bus initiative we got Kargil. All this is not for India. This is to nurture his own constituency with an eye to be Punjab’s next chief minister. It would all suit Pakistan and Khalistan donors but not India.

But then why blame Sidhu? I read today Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that Mamata, Akhilesh, Mayawati and Left are ok but not Congress. Mamata, for whom Durga Puja is not a priority and who equates BJP with Taliban; Akhilesh who sees BJP as the biggest danger to democracy; Mayawati who terms Modi as anti-poor; Left’s Sitaram Yechury who calls Modi as the looter of India, are all okay now. All this might win Modi elections. But what about India? What about millions of Hindus who see a threat in these forces and view Modi as their saviour?

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are making overt gestures to be seen as essentially Hindus. They support the agitation against Supreme Court verdict on Sabrimala; have desisted in backing Sidhu on Kartarpur; Sonia sports a tilak (how ludicrous can it really get) in election rallies; and Rahul Gandhi shows his janau to everyone when none of his previous four generations ever wore it.  All this is for political dividends and certainly not India.

Shiv Sena are now agitated on Ram Mandir. Uddhav Thackeray and his army reached all the way to Ayodhya. Till recently, millions of workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, most of whom are Hindus, were anathema to them. Now they can go thousands of miles to support a long-cherished dream of Hindus. The idea is to cut the plank which could help BJP in 2019 elections. Did you really think it was for Hindus or India?

Once in a while we are suffused with hope. Arvind Kejriwal was once such in 2014. He evoked Gandhi; wore muffler and slippers and took on the high and mighty of this land. Now he cartwheels around Mamata and Mayawati. He has made sure if another Kejriwal emerges he would have no chance of gaining people’s affection.  

But then who thinks for India? The ones who bring their garbage in the name of newspapers to our verandahs; the police or judiciary who give a damn to our urgency; the bureaucracy who are nothing better than glorified clerks afraid to put signature to anything meaningful; the NGOs most of whom are forward soldiers of foreign funders or the academia who trade pen for cheques?

Do you think you and I care about India? We would crib about thousands of issues in our air-conditioned rooms but never take that one step towards an agency. What did you last do about the filth in your neighourhood? Or the menace of wild dogs who could mount a concerted attack if you step out in pitched darkness? What do we personally do to reduce pollution or energy-usage? The horror that our schools are for our children? Taught by teachers who equate education with their salary slips? When did we last visit a village where 80 per cent of India still lives?

Politicians, media, judiciary, policy, bureaucracy, civil society and we as individuals are all too many words and too little action. It can’t work; it won’t work. India is stretching itself thin. Almost 18 per cent of world’s humanity is sitting on a volcano of lies and manipulation. The righteous impotence of me right vs.you wrong; your religion vs. my religion; those charlatans who take past quotes out of context and plaster the edit pages; the newspapers who pass on socialites and film actresses as our new Plato and Socrates. Writers have a role if they are impartial and neutral and appeal to reason or logic. Not when it is sold to someone else’s good. As readers we must take the pen out of their hands and give them shovels to dig their own graves.

Indians now need to be real stakeholders if India is to survive. We need to look at issues both personal and impersonal though the line is often blurred.  Personal would involve making our politicians, judiciary, police, media, bureaucracy accountable. Impersonal would mean larger issues such as those of farmers, joblessness etc.. We need citizens’ charters who audit our institutions like accounting firms do to their clients. We need to force our way into decisions our politicians take or the decisions our judiciary delays—for all other reasons except to the benefit of a common man.  We need to show them our anger is no longer limited to our drawing rooms. Trust me, we the faceless would have the attention of thousands of eyes and cameras if we stop them at their gates and demand an answer. Our inertia is our weakness and the only strength they have.

India can go wrong any moment. It could be an ecological disaster or a hostile nuclear-armed neighbourhood. It could be the lava of a largely young nation which frustrated at lack of jobs or coma of our judiciary could bury us all under a thick carpet of violence and breakdown. We surely can’t leave it to our politicians and professors.