Category: Politics


The Band of Bullies

In my living memory, this is an unprecedented time in Indian politics. 100 million more Indians have registered themselves for 2014 elections than the corresponding 2009 figure and my facebook news feed is constantly cluttered with different news items covering the political atmosphere in the country. One thing stands out; on second thought, it is the only thing I have been seeing on my news feed these days: AAP vs BJP troll-war and I have a big issue over the rampant attempt to criticize, defame and eliminate AAP. I will get to it but I want to digress for a moment now.

BJP launched a campaign to get 272+ seats in the general elections some time back in September, I think, last year. Modi had been recently made the campaign chief and further upgraded to PM candidate. And then came the elections in 5 states, where AAP made  a stellar debut in Delhi elections. They chose to form the government but the performance was far from satisfactory. Worse, it ran into controversies with Somnath Bharti trying to do the work of police but being labelled as vigilante and racist; then Kejriwal trying to do a dharna to get a couple of policemen suspended and being labelled as anarchist and a man of gimmicks than substance. I don’t know what worked out for AAP with 49 days in power, but it sure worked out for BJP because they got the ammunition which they needed to tackle the problems generated by Arvind Kejriwal.

You see, politics is a playground of bullies. The one with the strongest arm will outwit and displace the others and there is nothing bigger than the muscle power in Indian politics. How do you win against these bullies? By knowing secret things about the other and becoming a bigger bully. Congress was the biggest one till 2009 until the scams broke out and prices started to skyrocket. It was caught red handed by the middle class and the poor in the rural parts alike as the symbol of corruption. Congress being the bully in ground, twisted SP, BSP many times and managed to complete its complete terms. And then there was the rival in the same ground, BJP. Strong in a few states, but lacked the punch to fight the grand old bully.

But things changed in 2011/12 when Anna Hazare and his team came into the same ground and suddenly there was a bull attacking all the players. It was opening all closets and putting the skeletons out in front of the people. People, who were used to being bullied by lies and with “lets try these guys out this time” attitude were suddenly talking about national issues. The 10 crore new registration has a very large contribution from these people who had started to talk and discuss politics actively with the Anna movement. News programs became more interesting than comedy nights with Kapil and IIFA awards. AAP came to party without any skeletons in its closet giving it enormous conviction to attack everyone else. Worse, there was little to attack AAP with and it was a movement that was scaring the shit out of politicians. BJP switched to Harshvardhan to counter the clean-guy image of Kejriwal, they aped AAP campaign and sold the same lollipop to Delhi-wallahs as AAP. Finally, they figured out that AAP was more of a movement and less of a one time election headache.

And so began the smear campaign with the sting operation that was covered all over the media for hours and not a squeak when EC rejected it as nothing but useless propaganda. AAP won the elections, and for three days, they became the poster boys of media till the question came of forming the government. BJP was seething because despite thrashing Congress in 3 states, it was AAP who got all the plaudits and they went back to the smear campaign.

AAP was pretty much free of skeletons in its closet. Although that sting operation was proven a waste of space, it did sow doubts in the minds of public and BJP IT-cell has done a remarkable job in amplifying it. They invented skeletons to show that AAP wasn’t a ray of hope, but yet another bully. They forgot that it was in their tradition to forget their promises made during campaign and they told us that AK has made a U-turn and taken a 4 bedroom flat after denying official residence. Suddenly how could we trust a leader who made U-turns! It was Anna and AK who woke up the sleeping masses in India and made them talk and discuss corruption and price-rise in country. Suddenly all they wanted to discuss what was the next food item AK will eat which he had never eaten in his life. Congress, its scams, its backward ass policies which has slowed the economic growth, price rise were the subjects which AK and team Anna raised. I believe that if the atmosphere wasn’t as charged as it was, the cry for proper development so loud, Narendra Modi would never have been selected as PM candidate. That environment gave Modi with his development credentials the perfect boost to pitch himself in the fray and win over many different aspiring leaders in the party to become the PM candiate. And in the Modi success story of Gujrat, BJP marked all the real issues of elections as tackled and resolved and changed the topic of discussion of social media from real issues to “which hand AK used to wipe his ass this day.”

This is what we think, don’t we? We think Modi will come to power and all issues of economy will get covered. Or, we can simply trust is the government and sleep off. If this was not the case, why is there little talk over development issues, or the agrarian crisis which is crippling farmers, or the corporate hijack of media, agriculture, politics alike. Why are so many of my friends so hell bent on proving day in and day out that AK is a U-turn specialist, an anarchist, a leftist, or a B-agent of Congress? I ask you people, how much did you tweet and post over the misuse of govt funds in Saifai mahotsav? If I ignore Parliament as the stage, why is their no discussion over the influence of Ambani and other corporates on the Indian policy making on the social media at least? How many have you got a view point on the agrarian crisis that is gripping the country? How much have you studied and posted about the kinds of economic policies which are needed to tackle the inequality in the country?

AAP came as a hope to change politics. It has made its mistakes, but why is everyone so hell bent on exterminating it? Why is losing 20-40 seats to SP or BSP acceptable and losing maybe 10 seats to AAP unbearable? It won’t take a PHD in Maths to know which one will hurt the mission 272 more. But I don’t seen a single goddamn attack on SP or BSP or other regional parties. I guess that is because BJP knows that they are bullies from the same ground and the lust of power will get them in fold eventually. But at the same time why is AAP attacked left right and centre for trivial issues? BJP and Congress and others have shared the rule and have had their share of limelight of making a mess of law and order. State wide bandhs, vandalism of public property have been their forte, but AAP blocking a few stations becomes the only law and order problem that India has ever had? How is not discussing the real issues and spending hours bashing AAP and AK nationalistic?

Finally the bullies have succeeded, haven’t they? There was a craze in minds of people for the betterment of this country. Indians used the right to express their will and realized how such discussions empowered them politically. For once, cricket was rivaled in this country with some other zeal. And today major part of it has changed its focus. Known corrupt and thugs (Yeddyurappa, Shiv Sena) have joined hands with BJP and there is not one discussion or criticism on that. But the movement which gave people a voice isn’t being spared at all. I can understand why people look up to Modi and BJP and if I were voting, I will vote for BJP as well. There is simply no other alternative to escape the bane called Congress. What flummoxed me was how did the ray of hope, became enemy number 1 in the eyes of those zealous to see BJP coming to power.

I have concluded one answer. I sense a desperation in the millions of trolls in facebook that nothing short of a 250 seats for BJP will assuage them. Many had married to the idea of AAP coming to power in Delhi and BJP coming to power after general elections. This has been bedrock of their political understanding and wish in the eyes of many. Having lost at the former, it has now become critical to the survival of that bedrock, that a complete victory is obtained in the latter. AAP tried to turn the population and its anger towards system into a movement. But, in the end, I found and I feel that living under the rule of bullies had, ultimately, changed us into bullies as well. The ridiculous posts, the AAPtards and Moditards genres in an evidence of that. Movement isn’t important anymore, the victory and seat of power, irrespective of its means or collateral damage (AAP), is important.

If we don’t engage our leaders to discuss the issues which grip our nation, they will focus on throwing stones at each other and in turn keep us occupied with same activity. It is not just the political parties which alone makes that band of bullies, in the end, it is actually us who make that band real. It is very essential to protect that movement, and appreciate everything that AAP has done for it. In that everyday attack, in my eyes, we are delivering body blows to the movement as well. All the best.

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Changes 2014: Just Modi?

What does the upcoming general elections in 2014 mean for India as a nation and for Indians as nationals? Sadly, there is no short answer to this because of a multitude of aspirations of different parts of the society. However, there is one section of the Indian community for which the answer is predictable: the political class. Those out of power, want to come into power and those in the seat of power want to hold on to that seat of power. Among the common people, some are jingoists of a political clan, some are religious fundamentalists, some are optimists of a radical change and many don’t care. There can be more detailed classification of the society but I am not interested in knowing every line of difference in the society but rather focus on the dangerous undercurrent which can plague every dream of every section of society: What are the changes we need? I will focus on only two things here, politics and Indian culture.

I would like to ask the population who want to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister: Say, BJP wins the elections and he does become the PM, what are you going to do after that? This question has extreme relevance to the development of India as a nation. For one small reason, Modi is developing into a brand (apparels, mobile phones, mobile apps etc.) and in the long run, brands make people blinds. So it is imperative to realize that letting BJP and Modi run the show isn’t enough. The population of India which is aching to see a change must not wait on the changes to come to surface; they should seek it. It must remember that when it votes for BJP, they are looking for development and they should seek it instead of being doled out to them. With RTIs and protests, the movement must continue to make the political class more and more accountable and their election manifestos rigorously evaluated by the public. To many, voting for Modi is their contribution to the nation. I think we cannot call it anything other than a start. How many of us have that fervor to participate in the development of Republic of India under Modi? On the other hand, if BJP isn’t able to form a government at the center, what do we do then?

The point that I want to highlight is simple, are we really looking forward to participate in democracy to contribute in nation building? Or we think that Narendra Modi and BJP are magic wands to change the fortunes of the nation and society? Or is the word circulating in media “the anti-incumbency effect” going to be a factor in our minds when we vote? The voting is a right and choice of an individual. But it must be done for the right reasons and after thorough analysis of the ground reality. It is the first step to building a healthy democracy. If the mindset stops at voting BJP or Congress into power, we have only chosen a possible benefactor with no benefits guaranteed.

That was my first observation. Out of no disrespect to the Muslim community, I have a direct question to them: how does the Muslim community allow these media assholes and politicians to label them as votes? Even though I was born in a Hindu family, but I don’t give a fuck about that, I find this phrase “Muslim votes” derogatory. In fact I find the connotations of Yadav votes, Hindu votes, Sikh votes and many such created currencies a spit on the customs and traditions with which we identify a community. In my eyes, such labels reduce sentinel human beings to a herd of senile animals which can be manipulated with ease every 5 years. Isn’t that is what Lalu did for his entire period of rule? Isn’t it the same what Congress has been doing for more than 40 years after the slogan “Garibi Hatao” was launched? Isn’t it what BJP did when it led a mindless Mandir Nirman initiative?

People have lost their lives, livings and loved ones. How did we get so blinded by religious affiliations that we cannot see shit for shit? When did the culture and faith and practices that made us a community became hard lines of segregation which have cauterized our human connection with each other? Did it happen when we rioted? Or when we stopped trusting on our neighbours just because they had different ways of dressing? Or was it when in 1909, the Britishers coined the appeasement policies in Morley Minto reforms to communalise the electoral representation? If a person of a certain caste or religion sits in the legislature, it doesn’t mean that the entire community is represented. Nor does it mean that the aspirations are represented, and the culture and traditions guarded. It needs to be guarded by us. Otherwise we are actually an unguarded bank, waiting to be betrayed every 5 years and then robbed over the course of next 5 years. Politicians have used our culture as a weapon to betray the populace at multiple times. And their selective actions have instilled hatred in us for other cultures. Our country is a multicolored and thus there is just too much discontent among people. Were we wrong to stick to our cultures? Or our culture sucks that it didn’t teach us a way to protect us from manipulations?

Our culture isn’t inherently a system which sucks. It sucks on many fronts today because we have held on to the wrong things. Sticking to the love of a particular God made us animals to kill each other. If we had stuck ourselves to what those Gods said about brotherhood and humanity, our culture wouldn’t have become a base for manipulation of individuals. We wouldn’t have required to ask for equal rights for women or need Satyamev Jayates to highlight the plights of the lower sections of society. Our culture gave us the colorful festivals of joy and celebrations and they would have given us an evolving understanding of each other as well. But we stuck to a God and tried to be God by assuming power. But Gods have a major side-effect that he/she inspires lust for power and lordship in corruptible species called human beings. It is only natural that we are in such a situation where distrust among us is rampant: Where you cannot shave your head fully as that is a practice of a different religion; where you wonder, quoting from A Wednesday, what the name of a shop should be. The questions in the in the last lines of the last paragraph have an easy answer: Accepting that love towards mankind is a greater ideal than its enforcement director, the God.

The politics of a our country is inspired and divided by the religious and social divides. It should rather be united and forward thinking in the wake of the problems of the society and not its divisions. We neither have an administration which can promote the development of a civilized society nor we have a culture where we allow dignity to everyone. The upcoming general elections is just a point in time, these changes have been necessary since a very long time. When we look at 2014 as a new hope, how broad is our horizon?

The Modi Debate: Modi as PM

Narendra Modi is the biggest topic in Indian political landscape. Althrough not formally christened, in the eyes of many politicians and citizens alike, he is the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP. I remember 1999 elections of India when people around me had the wish to see Atal Bihari Vajpayee to emerge as the Prime Minister of India. It happened and the government had its share of highs and lows. Kargil war, hijacking of IC 814, Godhra riots, booming economy, inflation and cost of fuel being low, golden quadrilateral project, IRCTC vision etc. My surrounding gives me a similar feel as in 1999 with the hope that Narendra Modi led BJP may establish a government at the Centre.

However, he comes with his own set of burning questions. Can he be trusted? Will he take care of the minorities? Is he a monster? Can he be impartial? As much as I know, there is nothing to be scared of him. He has been investigated by SIT appointed by Supreme Court of India and has been found innocent of any wrongdoing. The claims of rioters carrying ballot paper information with precise details of Muslims gives a very thick plot to write a Satan Bourne story on him but every tragedy has a set of conspiracy theories. Now, investigations into political offices are often toothless, so I cannot really comment on the credibitlity of the SIT report. However, a team appointed by court has to report directly to the court and given the fact the Modi’s biggest haters, Congress, have held the government for last 10 years and the SIT hasn’t been able to prove anything incriminating about Modi, makes him the head that must be sacked after a disaster. As the history goes, Modi did resign from the post of CM, and he came back to power in the elections that ensued.

The only significant thing from the above paragraph to the topic in hand is that there are a lot of assumptions about Modi. I want to digress for a moment and clarify that I am not belittling the deaths of people in Gujarat and its really sad that people in 21st century want to be dumb enough to consider religion as a reason for fighting. Religion as a philosophy can provide a meaning and ideals to living a life. But it doesn’t give any meaning to life to every normal human being, but even the underprivileged ones get a reason to feel fundamentally different from someone of other religion to take up arms against each other. But then, that debate is for some other day. There were a lot of innocents who lost their lives in those riots. I hope that such a tragedy never happens because God knows that with insurgents inside the country and terrorists on the borders, we have enough ways of dying as innocents. Coming back to Modi’s situation, there are a large number of assumptions around Modi and one should try to look at the facts. Opposition parties potray him nothing short of harbinger of death, some people inside BJP probably hate him for scaling the ranks so quick and eliminating so many other aspirants of the top job. Nitish Kumar might have severed the ties with BJP over ego instead of claims over Modi’s secular credentials which Modi lost in the midst of all the investigations. Most of it is the result of slow and gradual building of stories about him. The veracity can be doubted and I hope that Modi haters would agree to me that there is no conclusive proof to show that he is a harbinger of death. Many politicians inside a major party would agree to policies made by someone at the top, and some would disagree, but that wouldn’t make the policy a divisive one. In politics, politicians strive only to remain in power, and policies may or may not help that goal, but in the name of greater good, things must move on.

Is Narendra Modi the name for India and BJP to move on? Now, this one is a real question. I think to obtain an answer here one must look to answer various subquestions which can be answered with FACTS instead of assumptions. Can he lead a government? I say, yes he can. He has done that for more than 3500 days in Gujarat and it has delivered a success story better than many other states. There have been numerous reports in the media about RSS calling the shots in the BJP, but he did work against the RSS mandate of anti globalisation policies. He has been a proponent of Gujarat’s development more than making ties with RSS or VHP to the point that he had 200 illegal temples in Gujarat demolished.  The irrigation development in Gujarat which increased the agricultural productivity also answers the question if he can lead development. The growth rate in 2001-2010 decade was 10.97% compounded annually which mathematically yields to an increase of almost 283% from 2001 levels. He embraces technology, he promotes technology oriented projects (solar power, wind power) and that has reflected in the growth of cities in Gujarat leading to Ahmedabad becoming one of the most sought after destinations in India.

Can he be trusted as benefactor to all? This question has a sketchy answer. He carried out the Sadbhavna Mission but refused to be presented with a scarf around his shoulders by a Muslim leader. He took his own team to Uttarakhand recently to rescue the stranded Gujaratis. Some Bengalis too were rescued by him as I have heard. He is part of BJP where RSS is allegedly the glue, and RSS is into development of Hinduism primarily. So, there is no clear answer in facts that he can be a benefactor to all. In Uttarakhand, it is alleged that he saw a political opportunity to rescue the people of his state and come out as benefactor. Or he had a noble heart as BJP would claim. Either way, he was decisive and quick enough to see an opportunity to do something good. Just the way he was been decisive about developing Gujarat, he showed his quick decision making skills and the alacrity in his organisation to make things happen. I wouldn’t hazard on saying anything more as the issue is contentious, but apart from the lives saved, I see his quick decision making ability as the only genuine silver lining in the attempt to rescue them.

If he comes to power, can he be trusted to replicate the same success story of Gujarat to rest of India? I say no. In fact nobody can do it in the coalition setup. It will need a group of extremely dedicated and loyal base for his policies to take effect. Apart from that, one cannot clean up the huge economic problems of India overnight. Mamta Banerjee, however reckless in her words, is ruling a state which is practically an economical disaster. Economic problems do not go away in a short frame of time and it will be a lot of years before the levels of prices etc. similar to 2000-04 would be seen in Indian economy. But I think he will try, and I say that because I think he is passionate about development led politics. His success or failure would depend upon how the policies are executed and the underlying machinery (bureaucracy/ corruption) but that is the story of almost every government. So, in case you want to vote BJP into power, I think Naredra Modi is a good enough reason because of his work in Gujarat.

Last question is very easy to answer. Does India need a break from UPA? With economy in shambles and the string of scams, I guess this question is a no brainer. I would prefer AAP to be a very important part of the government but BJP is the largest party to be able to take on Congress and I don’t see any harm in most successful leader of BJP leading the party from the front.

The Mamta Problem

Recently, Mamta hit a new low by branding a political science student from Presidency College as Maoist or someone from CPM cadre. It appears, she had just asked questions about the performance of her government. I am not totally aware of the magnitude of problems that CPM has landed on Mamta’s hands, but we can all agree that the current Honorable CM of West Bengal, Ms Mamta Banerjee has no love lost for the CPM. When I read that Trinamool Congress (TMC) has won the election after a lot of years and Mamta “didi”, as many call her, will be leading the debt ridden, poverty ridden, almost entirely rural lands of West Bengal for the next five years, I could appreciate the burden she had. A tinge of empathy maybe, made me feel sorry for her.

But then, she is a Bengali person, or colloquially, a Bong. Someone, who will always crib rather than solve, and crib on matters that are irrelevant. Exceptions are always there, and lot of Bengali people are really good people. But a majority, one will always find, have strange notions. Just as an example, there is an awesome daily train from Dhanbad (Jharkhand) to Kolkata, Black Diamond Express/ Coal field express. A few bogies have been marked as a new railway class: “DP (for Daily Passengers)”. Just for once, take a seat in that public compartment of Indian railways and you will have an interaction with a horde of Bongs that will make you feel as if standing in a Bong Compartment of Bong railways. It will be less comfortable than the idea of a DP. (only a select will understand this :P). But then, railways are abused in Bihar as well where it has been heard of people who flag a train with their hands to stop it. Or, by students in Bihar who can claim right to Sleeper coach berths during their examination while travelling without a general ticket.

But right now, the focus is on Ms Mamta. I shall call her Mamta, for two reasons: first, I am not a fan of long names, and second, I am not sure if I can call her “didi” as many of her followers do. She has scuttled a lot of operations in West Bengal. Probably, it started when TATA decided to build a car assembly factory for their ambitious plan of $2500 car for Indian market. I cannot comment if the land acquisition was fair, but Mamta spearheaded the protests. Imagine this, if a Bong can take you to a war or words for a fucking seat in a train, how much difficult would it have been for TMC bandwagons to rile the peasants up when their lands were acquired for a project? A ray of light of industrialization in West Bengal, first of its kind (barring railway factories at some spots in West Bengal), was nipped in the bud. TATA motors left West Bengal for a different state.

I am not a fan of UPA government at the centre. But, some of their initiatives do make sense. The Indian Government mooted towards the introduction of National Counter Terrorism Centre which gives the officials to conduct investigation into state affairs without permission from state (1. Read footnote for more). Mamta leads a political party which has a lot of clout in New Delhi in deciding the fate of a bill. On paper, the idea is good to have a centralized agency for all intelligence and state governments pooling their information. I don’t want to judge if the bill that was tabled would have really destroyed the so called “STATE RIGHTS”, but Mamta didn’t do anything to help the government. Even if it was curbing some rights or something, did she propose any solution? Not to my knowledge. Fine, the powers of NCTC can be abused greatly to make the state government look like a whore of the Centre, but is the State intelligence anywhere near to prevent attacks like those of Mumbai and Naxalite ambush in Dantewara? It was pointed out by Mr. Arnab Goswami in his news program that she has become the biggest headache for the government and is bending the UPA rule on her whims. She castrated the railway price hike plan which would have generated sufficient capital for managing such a huge network. All in name of the “common man”.

The Bongs who vote for the rule in Bengal aren’t the middle class or the rich. The actual vote bank, like entire India, is the poor population. There is a reason why Mumbai hasn’t been able to get rid of slums. Poor have no dreams, and no education to imagine about dreaming something better. They can be manipulated at the behest of tiniest of personal possessions. Look at the train example and decide if it is an issue to fight? The British raped the destitute across the entire nation and they have accepted the fact that cloth, food and shelter is all that matters. The American government go to wars to make their parent corporations richer, while the Indian counterparts maintain the poverty to keep the vote bank. Mamta goes and ties herself to the rural Bengal population through amazing gestures. She carried a jute bag for her railway budget in stark contrast to Lalu’s shiny brown briefcase which looked to have been magically carved out of a MS XP icon. Mamta understands the Bong aspirations very well and knits her political moves according to them. The federal structure of Indian government isn’t about power distributed to Union and State governments for public welfare, its about their rights which they can wield and agendas they want to pursue, to keep themselves in power. Mamta got her independent tantrum license with the CM’s chair, she will hold on to it more for her ego than for any other interest.

In the interview, Mamta’s paribartan movement was being examined. I want to ask what has been done by her government for the common man. It is very easy for her to rule the Bongs as they are typically viewed as the most gullible kind of Indians. Just tell them that officials from New Delhi can raid your house in name of NCTC, or tell them about a fare hike in railway prices, and use the same idea of the seat grabbing to predict the rallying force that would be behind “didi”. She has no Mamta. She only has paranoid tantrums. Coming back to questions to be asked to her, well, I haven’t got any, because apparently she has woken up from a 1980s or 1990s Bollywood political drama to brand anyone pointing at her work as work of anti social rebels (Maoists) or “sab opposition ki chaal hai”.

Mamta is hopeless; people of West Bengal, open your eyes!

Footnotes:

1. The UPA government on Feb 6 said it would set up on March 1 a powerful anti-terror agency that will integrate and analyse inputs on terror threats in India and will have legal authority to make arrests and conduct search operations. The NCTC will have a Standing Council comprising chiefs of counter-terror outfits in states and others as its lynchpin.

It will have powers to requisition ‘elite’ forces like NSG and marine commandos to carry out operations against terrorists.The Standing Council will comprise members of anti-terror agencies in states, in what is being seen as a step to encourage the states to develop a stake in the pooling of information and intelligence inputs.

This coupled with the powers under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to make arrests and carry out search operations across the country are designed to get around the problem of law and order being a state subject: a constitutional scheme that is seen as essential for country’s federal polity but which has hampered cooperation between the Centre and the state as well as among states themselves.

Find more information here http://www.ipcs.org/pdf_file/issue/IB181-Chari-NCTC.pdfhttp://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-faq-whats-nctc-why-centre-and-states-are-fighting/20120223.htm and judge the relevance yourself.

2. This is beta version of post, this maybe refined later. I am not claiming any authority over the validity of the information here. This is based on two things: my limited knowledge over many issues, and well documented arm twisting moves of Mamta Banerjee. If I ever have better understanding of things, I shall update it.