Friday, March 20, 2009
"When a big tree falls, the earth is bound to shake". This was Rajiv Gandhi's reaction as Prime Minister when asked why nothing is being done to control the anti-Sikh riots in 1984. A lot of fanatic people took to the streets of Delhi and mercilessly killed any Sikh they came across. Two Sikhs killed Indira Gandhi and 3000 Sikhs were killed later in these riots. And nothing was done to stop the riots.
Does the whole situation sound familiar?? Godhra right? This is exactly what happened in Godhra. Instead of Sikhs, 2000 Muslims were mercilessly killed. Narendra Modi is justifiably vilified for inaction during those days.
Now, here's my question... How is Rajiv Gandhi's inaction a lesser crime compared to Modi's?
Consider this. Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi won 445 seats in 1984 elections. The sympathy wave after Indira's death translated into so many seats. In the 1989 elections, the Congress party won 198 seats !! The fall has been massive. In the 1991 elections, Congress won 223 seats. The second phase of polling was conducted after Rajiv Gandhi was killed. And yet Congress party could not win a majority in the Parliament.
Now, the only benchmark of success in a Parliamentary democracy is the Lok Sabha elections. If a Prime Minister can oversee such a massive fall in the vote share, how can we treat him to be a successful politician or the visionary India never had?
P.V. Narasimha Rao oversaw the worst phase in Indian governance, and bought the country back to track. Why is he never ever mentioned in any of the party conclave? Why are his efforts never recognized at all by the Congress Party? They say that during P.V. Narasimha Rao's time, the PM's office was dragged into corruption charges.
Now, here's my question. What about Bofors scandal then? How is that a lesser crime compared to P.V.'s?
Rajiv Gandhi undoubtedly bought with him youthful energy. Unfortunately that was just not enough to run the country. Indira Gandhi groomed Sanjay Gandhi to be her successor, but his untimely death forced Rajiv to jump into politics. He was clearly not ready to lead India, but he had no choice either. To glorify Rajiv Gandhi to some cult status despite him suffering so many setbacks is something that beats any logic.
The bigger myth that is Rahul Gandhi
He is just a joke. Forgive me for my language, but that's what he is. A big joke. Clearly bereft of any historical understanding ( evident from "my family won bangladesh" statement), he comes across as a reluctant son trying to take over the mantle of his father. The hype around him is getting to him, and it is very clear in the way he talks.
He was made responsible for 6 elections so far, and Congress lost all of them. Why then is he still being touted as the future PM by the sycophants in the party? Why should only he be groomed, when there are so many others who are showing much more promise?
The reality of Sonia Gandhi
Her slow and steady rise in the Indian political scenario would have been a remarkable story, if she was not a member of the family. Ever since she took over the reins of the party in 1998 ( by the way, she had to resort to a coup to unseat Sitaram Kesri as the President ), Congress party has seen a lot of defeats. Anybody else in her position would have just been shown the door.
That's when 2004 happened, and she has been exalted to a demi-god status. Post 2004 too, the party received umpteen set backs, but never once did Sonia Gandhi come out and tell "I take responsibility for the defeat". The sycophants in the party are quick to absorb her of any role in any mis-calculation the party does, but are quicker to glorify her when the party wins. Any other person in that post, and they would have had to resign for the kind of defeats the party had to face.
Either way, she oversaw the 2004 victory for Congress which came as a fresh breather to the party and has also slowly increased her acceptability in the country. Her presence at the helm is what makes the party stronger, and if that is the way they want it to be, we cannot dispute that. However, my problem is that the leader is never blamed for defeats; she is only glorified for the victories.
Arrest Varun Gandhi
Just arrest him. Better yet, ban him from contesting. He seems to be very good at spreading hatred, just like his father.
I don't have a fundamental objection to family members being asked to take over the mantle. They have to be eligible though. They have to be intelligent and sensitive enough to represent people. They should have the strength to stand up and fight for issues they believe in, and grow up the ladder. And if it is for the post of the Prime Minister, then the expectation surely will change. It should not become the birth right of the person born into a political family to get into politics. That just is nasty, opening the doors for Dy"nasty" politics.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
2008-2009 was just a year of unlimited promises that will put any socialist regime to shame too!! Practically making every section of the population dependent on the government for assistance has been his USP and there has been no stopping since. Agriculture gets everything under the sun, small scale business get everything they want and more, students get unexpected favours, women will now be exalted to a new level, elders can live a better and happier life, government employees will no longer be subjected to surprise checks, you name it, you have it ! Is he so desperate to come back to power? Yes, of course! Are people desperate to see him back in power? That is still the million dollar question!
The recently released draft manifesto and agricultural document led me to question again and again – Is this the same man who wanted people to join the government in developing their villages through Janmabhoomi? Is this the same man, who said “neeru-meeru” and invested a lot in rain water harvesting, thus ensuring a better power supply in state during drought seasons? Is the same man who said “Dare to dream, care to achieve?” Is this the same politician who presented to us Vision 2020? Is this the same man who wanted people to build self sufficiency? Is this the same man who encouraged DWCRA, making it the only successful model in the entire country? Is this the same man who gave the term administration a whole new meaning? Is this the same man who introduced Rythu Bazaars thereby removing middlemen from the scene? Is this is the same man who ushered in IT revolution in the state? Is this the same man who said “Prajala vaddaku palana (Government to the people)?
Whilst in power, he was the darling of the media. His first few years were phenomenal in themselves, with the IT revolution, Janmabhoomi, and other such innovative programs driving the government. Almost hailed as the Czar of efficient administration, his victory in 1999 reinforced the point that he is leading the state in the right direction. The astute politician that he is, he was instrumental in the making of three Prime Ministers and one President. It was all like a fairy tale for Naidu, until the axe finally fell.
In 2004, I don’t think people hated him to a huge extent. The facts say otherwise. Congress won 185 seats with 1 crore and 37 lakh votes in its kitty. TDP won 45 seats with 1 crore 34 lakh seats in its kitty!! Just 3 lakh votes separated the two parties. This goes on to prove that people did not out rightly hate him or reject him. The dynamics of different regions plunged the party to defeat.
Also, contrary to what his opponents blame him, he did not backstab NTR! What happened at that time was historical necessity. Lakshmi Parvati was clearly acting as the de facto Chief Minister, and NTR just refused to budge. The coup did not happen all of a sudden, and a lot of MLA’s gave their full fledged support to Chandrababu Naidu at that time. And again, the victory of 1999 gave him the much needed legitimacy from the people.
The thing is that he has a lot of matter in him. He is articulate, and that quality stems from the fact that he is meticulous in everything he does. His role as the deputy leader of opposition during 1989-1994 catapulted him to fame and increased NTR’s dependence on his son-in-law. His stupidity in contesting against TDP in 1983 not withstanding, he played a very key role in the party during its first term in power too. The Naidu we see today is not the same who entered politics with a vision in 1978.
Either way, he is going to be doomed, or should I say Nai“doom”ed. If he wins, then there is not way he can sustain all his promises over the next 5 years. He will have to filter out many beneficiaries and many such things to keep the schemes intact. He will find it extremely hard to sustain them, and therefore he is Nai”doom”ed in 2014. If he loses, well, needless to say, he is Nai”doom”ed in 2009 itself!
With power comes responsibility. Maybe with loss of power comes irresponsibility. What else explains the Curious Case of Chandrababu Naidu?
PS: Small Trivia - In the movie, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", Brad Pitt is born as an old man and his story is traced back till his birth. I made an attempt to do something similar here, the main part of the blog starts in 2009 and ends at 1978 :)
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Anonymous 1 - Your idea seems good, but I know for a fact that Chiranjeevi will not like the article I wrote nor is he willing to drastically change his style of functioning... so i guess we have to be content with expressing our opinion :D
Anonymous 2 - I am not sure how prudent it will be to equate his mindset while in film industry to while he is in politics. Blood bank and eye bank do establish that he wanted to give back in his own way to the society, but my complaint is more with the fact that he promised a lot of change and he has so far failed to live up to it.
Anonymous 3 - When Chirankeevi announced Tupakula Munnema's candidature a few months back, I was very glad that this was a pre-cursor of things to come. Alas, Chiru did not live up to that expectations. Everyone knows that even if Chiru contests from Jubilee Hills, he will lose. So giving ticket to an unknown and then boasting of giving ticket to a fresher is no sign of brave leadership.
I did mention in my blog that the only thing left where Chiru can live up to his promise is the candidate selection. I am also still hopeful that he will atleast take some bold decisions here. The reason we all liked it when Obama said "change" was that he actually followed the slogan and bought in a new style of campaigning. If Chiru lived up to the slogan, then we all would have embraced the slogan too. Taking in all and sundry from any party is surely no sign of ushering in change. And hence I detailed what he said and what he did to make my point in the blog.
Anantha Mohan - I totally agree with you that Lok Satta can work better as an organisation :-) In the given circumstances, if JP goes to the assembly it will be very interesting to watch how the ruling party will handle his questions.
Anonymous 4 - I never claimed that my blogs will be different.
Anonymous 5 - Politicians joining PRP are not an exception to the rule, but are the rule!! Obviously politics invovles compromises, but in this case all that Chiru has been doing is welcoming all and sundry into the party. If he can bring change in the leaders, then why did Pawan Kalyan and Sobha Rani resort to such indecent language? Name to me 3 new fresh faces you see on TV on behalf of PRP? We will definitely welcome and accept change, but when that is non-existent where does he want us to look at?
Anonymous 6 - No, this content is not from SAKSHI newspaper. Sakshi right now is devoting all his space to TDP :D
Anonymous 7 - Is Aruna Tara the lady he promised to make a "public representative"? I think that was meant to be a diplomatic statement... if not MLA, then atleast parishad membership! Correct me if I am wrong ....
Anonymous 8 - What does social justice have to do with Chiru not accepting his second daughter's marriage?? Are you saying that if she eloped with a man of the same caste, he would have accepted the marriage?? I think any father in his position would have gone through the same feelings and equating social justice plank to this is something I find difficult to accept
SysErr - :D we will talk about what we felt during 2004 shortly in another blog :-)
Friday, March 13, 2009
Change. An oft repeated word these days the world over. With it's resounding success recently, it gave hope around the world that with hard work, conviction and passion, anything was possible. Megastar Chiranjeevi was no different. So much that he is even using Obama’s picture equating himself with Obama!
The promise he held at the time of jumping into politics was immense. At that time, people expected the whole party to have a refreshing look and feel. We knew that a couple of family members will hold central power, but that was ok considering the fact that there will be multiple leaders born with the aim of actually transforming the society. At that time, people expected history to be made, and wanted not just to be a witness, but to be a part of it. At that time, people were ready to give him the power, give him the “one chance” he is asking for right now. The day he announced his arrival, the promise still held good. He promised a new culture, a new look, a new initiative and a bright future.
And then the defections started. Not in small measure that too. Tall leaders from other parties were randomly being accepted into the party. It became an everyday spectacle on TV to see old and torn leaders announcing that they will usher in change with Chiranjeevi.
And then the tour started. A full 1 ½ month after he announced his arrival, he began touring the state. And that’s when we fully realised the extent of his knowledge and preparation that went into the speeches. Either they lacked content or they were just insipid in nature. If both oratory and content is lacking in a speech, how good is the speech then? This surprised a lot of people again. For there was unbelievable hype before his entry into politics; that he is getting fully acquainted with all problems; that he is now ready with answers for 1200 questions; that they have all infrastructure ready etc. And we all know he can speak good in front of an audience. The first leg of the tour killed all these myths!
And then his brother, Pawan Kalyan came into the picture. One of the first things he did was to name all the Congress leaders he could see on a poster near the ground he was talking, and ridicule them to the fullest. Chiranjeevi promised us that there will be no personal attacks, because that culture is what has pushed AP politics into an abyss. That day, Chiranjeevi jumped into that Abyss too. I guess he was not contended with just jumping into the Abyss. He wanted to dig into it further.
And then his women’s wing President, Sobha Rani, came. She used language against the President of TDP’s women wing that was cheap, derogatory and inflammatory at the same time. She directly questioned the character of Roja prompting an equally disgusting response from Roja. But Roja never promised us that she will remain decent. So Chiranjeevi successfully dug further, and ushered in a much worse culture into the politics of the state.
And then the draft manifesto was released. And with it, the final promise of a new initiative died too. There were new schemes, but no new initiatives. The schemes all centered on again providing free stuff to people (we’ll talk about this topic in another blog!), and were only populist in nature. It was clear that Chiranjeevi had no clue as to how to implement these policies and more importantly how to sustain them.
Chiranjeevi can surely not become the Chief Minister now. Listen to him speak, and you will realise the same. He doesn’t have the grey matter to run a state. With the hope of a new culture and the expectation of a new generation of politics gone, the only hope he has now is to be in a position to decide who will become the CM. For that he should atleast hold the promise of ushering in fresh candidates. If he is bold enough to give fresh candidates’ atleast half the assembly tickets, he will surely be in a position to dictate who governs the state.
All along, Chiranjeevi’s speeches have transformed from rhetoric to ritualistic; from cultured to wayward; and from promise to ridicule!
Change he can, did we think? Oops !!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The legend of Lal Krishna Advani is replete with many such critical decisions that were extremely crucial in the meteoric rise of the BJP from a party holding merely two seats in Parliament to ruling the country for a full 6 years. Soon after he took over the mantle of party Presidentship from Vajpayee in the mid- 80’s, he realised that the moderate image is not helping the party. In his efforts to rebuild the party, he began the transformation to a more hard core approach and that’s when Hindutva was born. The Ram Temple issue aroused many passions around the country, and most of it did transform into a lot of votes. The result – BJP won 86 seats all over the country in 1989! From 2 in 1984 to 86 in 1989, a force to counter the Congress nation wide was finally born.
Wistful of the past as he may be, the mistake Advani is making now is raking up the issue again! 2009 is no 1989. For one thing, people are tired of the same issue. It really does not matter to a lot of voters now if Ram Temple came up at Ayodhya or not. Hindutva surely isn’t arousing the same passion that can transform into votes. Supporters argue that there is nothing wrong in going back to the basics, but when they don’t hold ground anymore what is the point?
The root problem is that Advani has become a prisoner of his own convictions. When he proposed Vajpayee’s name, he entirely knew that only a moderate face can win it wider acceptability. Vajpayee did not have to change himself, or pretend to be a moderate face. He was the moderate face of the BJP. And voters trusted that fact too. Advani could see it coming. Though both he and Vajpayee had the stuff in them to become PM, he knew only Vajpayee is acceptable to a larger section. He had to change his convictions to become more acceptable, and that was not acceptable to his conscience at that point of time.
With Vajpayee gone (retired from active politics), he had no other option but to show transformation. Whether he transformed or not is a different issue, but he had to show it. The result – hailing Jinnah in 2006! It backfired. And how! He was even asked to step down as President of the party. No one in their wildest dreams even imagined that such a day would come where Advani would be forced to give up the post of President. If you watched the euphoria in the cadre when he was elected President for the 3rd time in 2005, it would have been even harder to believe. If cadre found it difficult to accept the change, imagine the common man. I also looked at it from another angle. The party did not hesitate to take action against its own icon, which is truly remarkable in nature. It’s hard to imagine such things happening in other parties (we’ll talk about this issue too in the future :D ).
When in power, it took Vajpayee a full 4 years to make him the Deputy Prime Minister. Not that he didn’t want to appoint him to the post, but it took so long to convince the allies. That was the only time he came closest to becoming the Prime Minister.
The BJP might have put up impressive performances in many states in the last couple of years. But in country wide election, it is hard to see how Advani can win a majority for the NDA. As of today, the party has neglible presence in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orrisa, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. I am mentioning only the big states now because these states were the ones that mattered when the NDA was in power. The party has bright and possibly sure shot chances in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. The North-east does not hold too much of a promise though.
The party also has some of the best election strategists, all of them relentlessy working to make Advani the PM. His website is being marketed very extensively. I am pretty much sure everyone around is missing Pramod Mahajan sorely. The story would have been totally different if he was around too. Such is the impact of this man.
L.K.Advani was the man behind one of the finest Prime Ministers India had. He came very close to becoming PM once. His other and only chance is now. Maybe, he is closer than ever before though. But I think his dream will remain unfulfilled, largely because of the acceptability factor. May 16th, 2009 will again prove that Advani’s case is an excellent example of “so near, yet so far”.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Will Advani's long cherished dream of becoming Prime Minister turn into reality? Will Jayalalitha return back to power in Tamil Nadu, thus mainting the trend of alternatingly ruling the state? :D Will Chiranjeevi even come close to becoming the CM? What will happen to Chandrababu Naidu if he loses? These and many other questions will find their answers on May 16th !
Starting tomorrow, I will start documenting my thoughts on many such issues till the election results are declared. Let's see how much we predict is going to turn into reality :D
Stay tuned ...