Government stays

July 22, 2008

Its official, the UPA has survived the confidence motion. Congratulations.

Exactly how the multitude of deals behind the nuke deal and survival of the government were made is very suspect. The government, the political parties should all do some serious introspection and if we should continue to see such political immorality, the people are indeed doomed.

The left was probably right in saying that the UPA can win the vote but has lost the confidence.

Mr. Manish Tiwari says that the BJP has desecrated the parliament by bringing the notes to the house. The SP is saying that all the allegations of Mr. Advani are proven wrong.

Who do these people think they are fooling? The notes were brought to the house to expose the manner in which the horse trading was taking place. And by the same “desecration” logic, have the congress and SP and for that matter, all parties not desecrated the country by all the defection and buying of support.

I still think the whole thing reeks of a conspiracy, a coup by Manmohan Singh to dislodge the left from the ruling side.

About 3 months back, Manmohanji created an alliance with Amar Singh of SP. They confirmed their numbers and calculated the risk that they have to take for getting the extra support to replace the left’s support. He suddenly gets so eager on the deal that he pretends not to care about the left. And finally, with a ultimatum served to him, he has gotten rid of the left.

Of course by now the PM had already made arrangements to buy, entice etc. the other party members for the deal. The PM is for a long time extremely confident while all the other “deals” are being made.

Yesterday Pranab Mukherjee claims support of 276 people. And indeed, 275 votes are obtained by the government. Well orchestrated, good play of events actually, just that Mr. Amar Singh and Mr. Unclean Manmohan have given away the plot slightly before the actual turn of events. That apart a brilliant drama by the UPA.

Now, if it is said that BJP did not try hard enough, as is being alleged, I would actually be happy, because the parties which have tried hard have shown the limits that they can go to and it can only be a good thing that the BJP and the left have not tried in the same manner as Congress and SP and to some extent BSP have.

Left pulls the plug, finally. Amarsingh is singing ‘my dear Sonia’. Bush has suddenly become less harmful to Mulayam who won 2004 elections on anti-Bush campaign. Mehbooba Mufti, who pulled the carpet from under Ghulam Nabi is so fond of saving the government at the centre.

So whats the deal behind the deal?

1. J&K Govt?

2. Anil Ambani’s business?

3. Telangana state?

4. Reopening of Taj corridor case?

5. Keeping S M Krishna out of Karnataka politics?

6.

.

.

?

The latest changes in equations of Telangana politics have adversely hit one man for sure: K.Chandrasekhara Rao. With a complete fiasco at the by-election, TRS still suffers from constant changes of their partymen into either Congress or Devendra Gowd group. Now, he will have to either tie up back with Congress or with his alma-mater, TDP. Ofcourse, as was already apparent, KCR is more likely to go with his hunch rather than ideologies or agendas. But, whatever happens, it will be yet another interesting political drama.

Other important development recently in Andhra Pradesh is the cessation of Mr.Devendra Gowd from TDP. He has attracted the attention of not just people and media, but also the support of many dissatisfied MLAs and partymen from TRS, TDP and Congress. But, at this juncture, he would have to take a decision about his alliance for the coming General elections. It is clear that he wouldn’t probably go for TDP; after having quit it over telangana. The other options are Congress and BJP, the two national parties which might ‘get’ Telangana, if they come to power at the Centre. BJP has already promised for a separate state if they come at Centre. Their image of being strong and quick in decision making might be another factor which might make him to favour the Lotus party over Congress or Left parties.

To augment this, BJP is ‘stronger’ in Telangana than anywhere in Andhra Pradesh, with ex-MPs like Bandaru Dattatreya, Indrasena Reddy and MLAs like Kishan Reddy etc., and this also might help significantly in adding to the vote-count. BJP would also look forward to form an alliance with a strong regional party, since they would be looking to consolidate in another state in the south, after their recent success in Karnataka. Ofcourse, they still lack a strong leader like Yedyurappa in Karnataka, which is a challenge for the BJP think-tank. But, with Mr.Gowd coming in the picture, the alliance might definitely be a symbiotic relation, if they succeed in striking one.

Rahul Gandhi has been laying the hints for a while now, and if the sycophants really want to impress the yuvraj, they will have democracy within congress.

It would be mistaken to think that this will pose any challenge to the yuvraj’s or madam Sonia’s authority. The reason that they are at helm is not because she is simply the heir of the Nehru legacy and he the heir apparent, but more because the congress lacks leaders of stature and needs some dynasty to model in their posters for all the generations.

This could be an embarrassment to BJP in the making, the BJP will have to roll back its demand for any democracy to appear in the congress and if the congress uses it well the demand would rebound to hit the BJP as a damage to credibility.

But this has me thinking, whether the BJP demand itself is justified. First of all, BJP has partly the moral high ground because the party does not pin its hopes on a certain dynasty and does not promote people as leaders and picks emerging leaders instead. Of course, there is some misfit if some issues should arise at a high level and if a person would be a ideologue the democracy can be compromised and the leader elevated by virtue of their history with the party or because of their ideological maturity, like Arun Shourie. Still obviously there is no democracy in the party and it is pretty sad that the leader of a major party (claiming to be the largest) in the largest democracy uses the word democracy so loosely and irresponsibly without making any efforts to implement anything in his own party.

Although I have also said it otherwise in my previous post, it is debatable whether democracy in a party is relevant at all levels and good development or not. The deeper details need to looked into. Often the instance of democrats and republicans in US is used to say that democracy should come in at all levels. Definitely the party can not pick its leaders for the state or the office administrators etc. and democracy will only make the functioning of the party machinery slower. The party can pick its representatives, but that also is often done with some considerations in mind, like some political deals, caste equations etc. And as much as we resent it, these are realities in politics. Even otherwise, if all members of the party machinery and the party representatives are being elected, who is maintaining any seam of ideas which define a party? For a nation, democracy works because like the minds of people the country can undergo extreme regime changes and a nation should sustain that as the will of the people (unlike the “peoples republic of china”), but the parties can not be changing according to the wills of the people on some issues. And I realise that all the in the communist vote banks will remain communists and that the voting will not bring tendencies of capitalism or anything but the question is about the fine points. Like before internal polls, the congress may support the nuke deal and after the polls they may change their mind. That change goes away with out anyone left to take the accountability of the previous decisions and to account for the time and costs towards these changes.

This can be solved in two ways, i.e. two ways of defining democratic working in the party and country. The first would be the US model itself, where each cause is represented by a person and that person takes all blame and credit. Of course part of the blame and credit go to the persons who vote him in, but the person is responsible for what he decides. This system is not in place in the nation as such and will have to be confined to the parties which implement it, for now. The party democracy will remain restricted to the parts about nomination in polls etc.

The other system where this can work is like Switzerland, where all major decisions are elected for and the party machinery remaining as it is, the decisions of the people are taken up. Here the nominations can be made democratic in a different system which can be worked or not, because the decisions anyway are of the party vote base.

In both these systems, the application at a lower level seems less important than implementation at a higher level, because a lower level of political ground is not practically having a large enough vote base which is involved in politics, hence the difficulty of applying it, and because democracy at larger levels are more consequential and impacting. If you introduce a cog into the system at the lower levels it will not impact your party, most parties live with that. But if you bring a cog and make them the party president, then that has a huge imapct on the party and the nation.

The political reform of democracy will have impacts on the overall democratic system. Indian democratic system is quite retributive unlike the American or Swiss. In America, only bush is remembered as a war mongerer not the party which had a lot of people in support with the war as well. Somehow, Mccain says he wants to pull out troops from Iraq and he is on the same plane as Hillary and Obama w.r.t that Iraq issue. In switzerland, the parties do not decide anything, ruling or otherwise. The people decide everything major and obviously the responsibility also lies there. There is no question of retribution. These systems in India would probably make a lasting impact on the mainstay democracy as well and we could see some cleaning up being done.

In a breaking of tradition, will the parties will be a step ahead of the nation and be more democratic, it is left to be seen.

Presence of a minority worship place can force the entire projects to get changed. When it comes to Hindus’ worship place or beliefs, you know what happens.

….an ancient mosque on a tiny patch of 1,200 square feet of land right next to a runway has forced a redrawing of the entire Rs 2,000-crore map to upgrade Kolkata airport. An extra 25,000 square metres has to be acquired, crores have to be spent on building a detour and several high-rise buildings have to be compensated because they have to knock off their top floors in line with the new plan.

….this is exactly where the 117-year old Bankra mosque — where on an average 30 people offer prayers each day under tight security — lies, less than 100 feet from the north end of the shorter runway, Also, the walls of the mosque cannot withstand vibrations caused by aircraft landing or taking off.

Result: the Airports Authority of India has decided to extend the runway towards the southern side.

“This means we have to lease out more than 25,000 square metres of land to the state government for the diversion,” says another official of he AAI. The AAI will spend Rs 2 crore and the state government will provide Rs 3 crore. Also, an existing road, running from Kaikhali to Narayanpur (Rajarhat) will need to be diverted.

This, in all probability, …… will mean an extra Rs 20 crore, say officials.[link]

And we all know what is happening with the Rama Setu.

Here is where the majority fails to make its political presence felt and the parties are struggling to remain friendly to the minorities. And then within the minority this is a special minority because, all credit to them, they make enough noise that the government would listen, and they turn up to vote in large numbers too. None of the other minorities is as perturbed and perturbing, and none of the other minorities have a commission to alleviate poverty in their community.

Bottomline : If Hindus keep voting in the pathetically low numbers then they will remain a political minority with very little or no say in the governance. Even Hindu sympathising parties like the BJP will not be able to bring back balanced secularistic approach if the Hindus remain masochistic by design.

At last the BJP sees light at the end of the tunnel, hope it’s not that of an incoming train!

“Sangh Parivar outfits try to convert Karnataka into a Hindutva laboratory in the lines of Gujarat”, was the statement made by Deve Gowda, in October 2007, after the JD(S) turned down their promise of power-share with the BJP. After the JD (S) ‘betrayal’ and Governor’s rule, the result of the present Karnataka election seems more towards the dual-party BJP-Congress system, while BJP emerging as the single largest party and the JD(S) getting strongly rejected by the people. There are a number of reasons on the analysts’ minds which I will not discuss here.

Karnataka victory is something for the Lotus party to celebrate high. This is the first time, they cross the Vindhyas down to south with an complete majority, although they had coalitions previously. The BJP making forays in South, right at the Congress’s strongest state, is also pathbreaking. While it shall remove the previous images of BJP as a cow-belt party it establishes the party closer to the people South where RSS is as strong if not stronger. Moreover, this also reflects the increasing faith and credibility among the people about BJP, which might not be a good sign for the Congress.

Though the verdict brings joy in the heart of people who were bored of the same old Congress hypocrites and the whimsical Gowda and sons, the problems are far from over. Appeasing all has never been possible at any level of organizational activity. In such a process, new friends and foes are inevitable. When Kharge, the newly elected opposition leader was hinted at the possible rebellion within the BJP soon after the elections, TV channels and media sources have picked up the scent. Main stream leaders of the sorts of Shettar are unhappy for not being included in the cabinet. To top it even governor Thakur seems to be unsatisfied with his ruling term in the state. He seems to be doing all that’s possible to keep Mr. Yeddyurappa in agony. This could only be the tip of the Ice berg and more could be following in the first ever “right” term in the southern state of Karnataka. There is news that the Reddy brothers wouldn’t be getting forest and mining ministries. All this is only an indication of the political challenges that could prove to be a threat to the government.

While the Congress should get its act together, the task for BJP ahead is also tough. This time, its karo ya maro for the BJP. There are a lot of issues that people are looking up to the new party in power. It includes some of the most contentious issues such as the Cauvery water sharing, implementation of Sarojini Mahishi report, the border disputes with Kerala, TN, Maharashtra and Goa. Karnataka is the 2nd most drought prone state of our country and hence it’s important that the numerous irrigation projects be taken to a logical end. All this needs to be done oblivious of the fact that the government gives rice at Re. 2 or provide free electricity to farmers. The price rise is an easy issue to exploit; the BJP should strive even more so that they can keep it under control. The risk here is simply that they might give the incumbency advantage to the Congress in the union elections. The other challenge will be the farmer suicides. The state will have to make farmer friendly policies to address the issue suitably. Power shortage is a critical issue. With two ultra-mega power projects planned in the state and the locals opposing both, quite vehemently, Mr. Yeddy has a tight rope walk to do. Many fear that the government will be held for ransom by mining lobby and the first signs seem to prove it. The infrastructure crisis of Bangalore and equally or even more importantly, addressing the needs of North Karnataka are quite a challenge for the new government. Also, more critical is the naxalite problem; naxalites being mostly anti-BJP may intensify their operations in the state. Unfortunately, Karnataka has become a terror hub these days. Though the state government alone cannot do much, there is a need for proper coordination amongst the affected states. Hope, the government will take strong initiatives in this regard.

I only wish Mr.Yeddyurappa and his team overcome teething political problems and focus on solving the fundamental issues troubling the people of Karnataka.

May there be light!!

The election which is scheduled tomorrow for 4 Lok sabha seats and 18 Assembly seats is because of the en masse resignations of the TRS (Telangana Rastra Samiti) party representatives in March 2008, expressing the dissent with the attitude of UPA towards the new state of Telangana. As a result, the by-election forms a dress-rehearsel for the elections in 2009, a ‘semi final’ in the words of KCR, the chief of TRS. Ofcourse, some of the parties would like to see this by-election as a referendum for the concept of Telangana.

TRS has a definite edge over the other parties, since all these places were won by them in the previous election. It would be easier for them to win even without Congress, since the anti-government wave might help them. But, their deferral attitude towards an affirmative action might hurt them, since they have resigned just a few months before the elections, which left the people lose their faith in the party. TRS is also been branded as ‘opportunistic’, because of their decisions over the past 4 years. On the top of that, the performance index in terms of development initiatives by the party representatives in these regions, hasn’t been up to the mark, which meant to the Telanganites that it is yet another party with a change of color in the flag. But the stakes are high for TRS, as this is a great chance for them to establish their credibility and strengthen the Telangana movement.

Congress would have tough time, since it would have to fight the election with not just TDP (Telugu Desam Party), but also its previous allies: TRS and CPI(M). CPI(M) has a strong say in Telangana, and most of its seats in Andhra pradesh are generally from that region. Although they might not be key winners of the constituencies, they would play a crucial role in terms of votes-split. While, TDP, the only major party which still sticks to the ‘Samaikya Andhra’ (united Andhra) idea, is ‘rethinking’ about its strategy over the Telangana issue, owing to the increasing pressure from TDP Telangana leaders. However, the present stand of TDP in the election would still be the Samaikya Andhra.

On a whole, the election cannot be termed as a people say on ‘Telangana’, since it is not a complete election over the whole of region, but the constituencies where TRS has resigned. However, it would surely reflect upon the chances of Congress party and TRS in the coming general elections.

Shattered!

May 26, 2008

Sudhir Tailang of ‘The Asian Age’ depicts the plight of Gowda and son the best.

Pic courtesy: The Asian Age

After the terror strikes, Rajasthan is burning again. The positive again is the brave manner in which most people of Rajasthan have handled it. The reason this time is traceable to the Gujjar agitation, the representative of whom is a Bhainsala, demanding a ST status for the gujjars.

The retrogade group has been making such a demand for a very long time now. The Meenas who are also a backward group are against including the Gujjars also in their share of the quota pie. The Chopra committee set up to examine the issue has spoken against the acceptance of the reservation for Gujjars. Yet, the Gujjars are relentless in claiming their backwardness. This is the kind of retrograde race set off by the reservations.

It is rather shameful that Mr. Sachin Pilot is relentless in making a demand that goes against all morality. He is the one that has given the Gujjars the hope and it is at his behest that the community has abandoned any activity and resorted to protests that have stalled most of the state. The congress should ask Sachin Pilot to shut up and the political parties must condemn the Gujjar movement strongly for making a mockery of the reservation scheme and reducing the work done by the Mandal committee to a joke.

Ms. Raje who was quick to act well after the Jaipur blasts has called in the army.

Now, the unavoidable violence is done with and further violence is being avoided. Mr Raje called for peace talks with Mr. Bhainsala who rejected the offer until a letter was sent to the PM. Sadly, Ms. Raje has sent that letter and recommended a special status be awarded to the Gujjars. I do hope that what Sachin Pilot is saying is correct and that this is only a token gesture. It would be a mockery of backwardness and reservations if the demands are met and if Sachin pilot continues as an MP. This kind of social terrorism, which affects the normal functioning of the society causing heavy economic and social loses apart from inducing hatred amongst different communities and trying to fall backward, should be handled mercilessly. Let the people of Rajasthan live in peace. And the so called well-educated-youth-icon MP is perhaps on a political-suicide mode.

This boils down to the primary question of reservations. Well…!!

Nothing much to say about it — it is quite clear from the following news items reported in three major English dailies — The Indian Express, The Hindu and The Telegraph. See it for yourself, to know who really won the polls and which is the most biased daily.

The Indian Express [Published from New Delhi and Kolkata]  Link

The Hindu [Published from Chennai, recently started printing from Kolkata] Link 1 and Link 2

The Telegraph [Published from Kolkata] Link