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Archive for the tag “Politics”

A midsummer night’s dream – Advani for President and others

In a move that surprised many, invited all knowing “I told you so” looks from Political Pundits Vinod Mehta and Shekhar Gupta alike and sparked off furious debates about what, who and how much.. Mr Lal Krishna Advani announced that he will be leading a yatra of RedLine Buses to Raisina Hill.

In a press conference called in the cool confines of the RedLine Bus doubling as his campaign office, Mr Advani talked of his anguish at the plight of the marginalised and dispossessed, who he said were crying for leadership. Explaining further, he said that he and his party were dispossessed of power for a long time; and to run salt into personal injury, he lost the presidentship of his party too- making him the natural leader of the dispossessed. Mr Advani also said, those of his venerable age, instead of being venerated are being marginalised. “The meek shall inherit the earth”, said Mr Advani, quoting from the Bible, which Manish Tewari was quick to dismiss as token minority-ism.

Mr Advani refused to answer whether this will launch his candidature for President of India. But, he did say that he will never say no to national duty.

As an immediate fallout, supporters of Messrs Modi, Jaitley, Jaswant Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Gadkari were seen hugging each other and distributing sweets.

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Meanwhile, in Scooping News TV, I heard this:

We have Netaji, Bapuji (also called Father of the Nation), Panditji.. etc. What about a Mother of the Nation status- to Mataji? And, Baby of the Nation to RahulG? It is reliably learnt, a bill to this effect should be introduced in the next session of Parliament. BJP will stall parliament. Congress will quote that as an example of obstructionist opposition that does not allow business to be conducted in the house. Arnab, Rajdeep, Sonia, Barkha will froth in the mouth and Vinod Sharma will snicker.

In another major move, dripping with religious symbolism, Congress will decide to rename Youth Congress as Vanar Sena; immediately drawing protests from BJP who will claim they have patents on Ram, Ramayana and all “Ram-ic” things. “This is patent vote bank politics”, Ravi Shankar Prasad will say, who will promise to enfranchise monkeys (above the age of 18) if BJP came to power.

SP supporters immediately went on a rampage- claiming Akhilesh Yadav’s claim to the title of Baby of the Nation was being ignored.


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.

The partyless wonders: where Shekhar Gupta loses the plot

The partyless wonders.: The Indian Express, 2nd May

Shekhar Gupta has argued the case against Independents in our political system. For the full article, published in the Indian Express, follow the link above.
To start with, I am a little perplexed why Shekhar is so excercised by the sight of independents like Sanyal and Gopinath. Hasn’t he seen independents contest before? I remember ballot papers bigger than newspapers and even now, most constituencies have more than 10 to 20 candidates contesting. So, what gets Shekhar’s goat, this time? Could it be that some of these independents could queer the pitch, while not winning themselves, for some of Shekhar’s friends?
Let us look at the arguments made by Mr. Gupta. The basis of parliamentary democracy is the party system. To quote:  “…fundamentally, the notion that you can invent a new politics where independents displace parties is not only fanciful, it is also undemocratic. The essence of parliamentary democracy is the party system. All democracies are built around competing parties, ideologies, mass leaders, manifestos. Imagine a Parliament of 543 individuals, or where even 10 per cent of the members have no party affiliation. Imagine the incoherence, the sheer anarchy.”
At least Shekhar does not call this unconstitutional. Because it certainly is not. The constitution gives us the right to contest elections upon reaching the age of 25. So, Shekhar’s point is that our constitution is permitting undemocratic things. Good lord!
Why bother imagining a parliament where 10% or more members have no party affiiliations, Shekhar? Are you saying that the current Lok Sabha, split as it was along party lines (in how many parts, Shekhar?) was orderly, conducted itself with decorum and above all, was a model of behaviour that the incoming Lok Sabha should aspire to follow? A certain Mr. Somnath Chatterjee would certainly disagree!
In this Lok Sabha, we have parties with fewer than 5 MPs; quite a few have less than ten seats. We have parties with 1 member. Not so long ago, Mr Chidambaram was one such MP. How different is a  “single MP-party” from an independent?

 Shekhar goes on to say: “The other fallacious notion is that the world of politics is filled with stupid, uneducated, lazy and corrupt people, usually of a criminal bent. That comes from an unquestioning acceptance of the Bollywood caricature of the neta.”
No Shekhar, Bollywood has not even scratched the surface. Here is a slightly old story, datelined 13th Feb, 2006 in TOI headlined 115 MPs have criminal backgrounds. This was not the fertile imagination of some “bollywood type”. This was the then CEC, Mr. BB Tandon speaking. In his opinion, published in the newspaper, “the existing laws were inadequate to stop criminalization of politics”.

More vitriol from Shekhar: “This argument won’t go much further than Malabar Hill living rooms, and not merely because most of these angry “we the people” were most likely not seen among the 40-odd per cent who turned out to vote in South Bombay, preferring to escape to Alibaug, Madh Island or Goa: who wastes a four-day weekend for a mere vote?”
Read your own newspaper, Shekhar. In today’s Indian Express, in a story headlined : Day After, how low and why , the area-wise voting percentages in all Mumbai constituencies are published. In Mumbai-South, the highest voting percentage of 43.28 was recorded from Malabar Hills. In Mumbai South Central, it is Dharavi which records the lowest percentage. Who is guilty of generalizing/ caricature now?

Drawing a parallel with the corporate world, ranting against the entry of independents into politics seems like arguing against startups and saying the only people qualified to do business are Tata, Birla, Singhania, Mafatlal and Modi. We are glad, 40 years ago, one Dhirubhai Ambani said, “to hell with status quo”. Also, is there just place and space for the professional politicians in the system? All those so called highly educated MPs: Sachin Pilot, Deora, Rahul Gandhi, Jitin Prasada, Hooda.. would they have managed to get anywhere in the Congress hierarchy unless their fathers were well connected? Let us say Meera Sanyal wanted to join the Congress. What would you have her do? Fight the elections in her apartment blocks first, as a means of gaining experience?
BJP does not, unlike the Congress, treat entry to politics as a birthright. However, what if Sanyal or Gopinath did not wish to join BJP for whatever reason?
Meera Sanyal and Gopinath, like many others could have sat at home or gone out to light candles. That they chose to do something which I did not have the courage to do, has my admiration. Whether you should vote for them or not (I unfortunately vote in East Delhi), is your call based on whether you think they can deliver for you, dear voter.

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