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Archive for the tag “Advani”

We the unpatriotic

In the first signs of the “professionalization” of the PR and media management of Congress, Hindustan Times today signaled that it has all but been appointed the official PR mouthpiece of the party. With this, HT wins the race over such worthies like Shekhar Gupta of Indian Express and Vinod Mehta of Outlook, who have both tried very hard in the past ten days to push their candidature.

The first signal that HT was ahead in the race came when it got access to a carefully orchestrated exclusive leaks into the supposed dossier that Pakistan shared with India. How such documents are allowed to pass on to public domain, before being shared with Parliament with no need for anyone to even whisper RTI, beats me.

After all, the headline in today’s print edition: “India fights itself over Balochistan” is as good a piece of spin as any produced by top-notch PR agencies with their soul sold to the highest retainership. The headline attempts the oldest trick of all people of a certain description, to take refuge behind patriotism. Let’s speak with one voice, in foreign policy. Doing anything else is unpatriotic; Pakistanis will find us a house divided.

Says HT: “Unable to quarrel with the philosophy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Pakistan policy of ‘trust but verify’, the Opposition on Thursday focused its criticism on the inclusion of Balochistan in the Indo-Pak joint statement of July 16.” See the words? Opposition has a “quarrel” with the Prime Minister’s “philosophy”.

And, it gets better. The article, written by the “HT political Bureau”, then says: “The government strained to explain its position on Balochistan on a day it found oblique support from US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who refused to endorse the Pakistani position, and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani lauded Singh’s “statesmanship”……” Wah Janaab! So what if our PM is isolated domestically with even the Foreign Secretary conceding the “poor drafting” of the joint-statement? The Prime Minister of Pakistan is lauding his statesmanship. And we are such sticks-in-the mud.

Funnily, you get the feeling as if the entire “political bureau” of the HT sat down and wrote the article; one paragraph per person. In the middle of the article, there are references to the government “straining” to explain its position, a reference to Sushma Swaraj asking “how could a reference to Balochistan advance our national interest?” and Advani’s question on how a unilateral perception of Pakistan get into a joint statement without any mention of India’s position? Maybe there is a BJP mole (or two) in the HT edit team!

It ends with a coverage of Sonia Gandhi’s “carefully worded statement” who “stopped short of defending the (joint) statement“.

Could Lieberhan finally liberate BJP?

But, the Congress is in no mood to oblige, for now.

After countless extensions and 17 full years after the event, M S Lieberhan, retired Judge of Punjab and Haryana HC, finally has submitted his findings on the Ayodhya episode of 1992 where frenzied Kar Sevaks, allegedly demolished a centuries old structure called  the Babri Masjid, which was, by some accounts built by demolishing an old Hindu temple purportedly standing at the very birthplace of Lord Rama.
Notice how careful I am with words. Hedging my bets; steering out of trouble and certainly not taking sides in a case reeking of the word “sub-judice”. This is because, I do not wish to be meander into a line of debate/ reasoning which is not the main point of this blog at all.

The point is that I sense an opportunity in this, for BJP.  Could it be, that, Liebarhan will do for the party, what even the voters could not do? Get the BJP rid of the albatrosses around its neck, namely Advani and Joshi? Not to mention, a pre-occupation with 10th centrury issues like Ram Mandir and Ram Setu?

And, is this why, the Congress Government is weighing its options carefully? Perhaps, making the report public and taking action on its basis might actually work in BJP’s favour.

Advani and Joshi are like Gavaskar and Boycott; useful for playing  marathon innings. Not when, you have to chase down a huge score in a tearing hurry.

Gavaskar and Boycott retired and took to commentating. Advani and Joshi show no signs of wanting to retire. Perhaps Lieberhan report will help them make up their minds. Perversely, the Congress government, will probably want them to continue “batting” without ever getting out. For in their presence at the crease lies the best chance for the Congress.

The lessons: if only BJP will learn the right ones!

Why Advani and Rajnath should “spend more time with grandchildren”

Confession time! I voted BJP. And, I may not like it, but the electorate in its collective wisdom has voted. And, obviously BJP has failed to extend its appeal among those states where it is not in power.
The time to rebuild the party was in 2004; where Advani should have followed Vajpayee into political sanyas. It did not happen. Now, BJP is paying for it.
The next best time? Now. Get rid of Rajnath and get rid of Advani and for heaven’s sake, do not get back Joshi or Shekhawat.
Sadly, the lessons have not been learnt. Advani, for form’s sake has offered to resign but the party refused to accept it; demonstrating total clueless-ness and showing every signs of a party that has no sense on how to move forward.
If there is one lesson from these elections, it is that the electorate will reward good governance. And, roti, kapda, makaan remain the basic concerns. Frankly Hindutva is not a concern. My 80 year old grandmother, told me more than 10 years back (in half wonderment and half dismissiveness): “why does Ram need protection?”.
The lessons from Bihar, Orissa, Gujarat, Delhi, Chhattisgarh and  Madhya Pradesh are the same. Perform, provide the basics and show us improvement.. we will vote for you.
The real sad part of this election for BJP was its refusal to project younger leadership, take credit for providing good governance in all the states they were ruling and use that as a proof point for bringing about faster pace of reforms.
The real measure of the greatness of Vajpayee should be apparent now. For those with short memory, including those in BJP; here’s what Vajpayee achieved.
1. Fiscal responsibilty act: made it mandatory for the fiscal deficit to be mainatined below a certain level. This is law; Congress flouted it with impunity, BJP did nothing to point it out. Because Advani simply does not get it.
2. Limited the size of the union cabinet to 10% of the Lok Sabha size. Huge, huge deal. Remember cabinets with 114 members?
3. The Golden quadrilateral: the massive countrywide roadways project. The Congress stopped it. BJP sayed not a word.

Congress twiddled its thumbs for the last 5 years. It built zero infrastructure (e.g. no addition to power generation capacity in the last 5 years.. stopped the golden quadrilateral projects..) and freely spent money.
It frittered away all the savings in grand consumption schemes and ensured it had no savings to invest. This with the smart surds duopoly at the top. The tragedy again, was that BJP never raised a voice against this, did not offer a policy perspective or create communications to counter this.
Instead, the energies are frittered away on Ram Mandir, Afzal Gurtu, Ram Setu, beating up pub-going women, Varun Gandhi..
When you have nothing substantive to offer, offer Swabhimaan. It’s free! It worked in 1999; ten years later, it did not. I can assure you, unless Advani, Rajnath etc are all pensioned off right now and new younger and visionary leadership established, the BJP will get an even worse drubbing. Because, it will be up against a “Chikna” Rahul Baba.

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