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.

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The departure of Devender Gowd from Telugu Desam Party, has not only weakened TDP, but has raised many other interesting questions. Undoubtfully, this move adds to the Telangana movement, and throws the major parties in the state: Congress and TDP into defence. The Chandrababu Naidu led Telugu Desam Party is still unclear about its agenda on Telangana issue. Although Mr.Naidu has given statements that they are not against the formation of a new state, but they are vague unlike the previous general elections, where they have contested with the ‘Samaikya-Andhra’ (United Andhra Pradesh) agenda.

But, what is more interesting would be the analysis of the previous two elections in the Telangana region in the last 4 years. Even in 2004 general election, TDP hasn’t performed badly (infact better than other regions) in this region, though the Congress-TRS (Telangana Rastra Samiti) has got the major stake, by the anti-government wave. The recent by-election, because of the en masse resignations of the TRS party representatives in March 2008, also turned out to be against TRS. Ofcourse, this cannot be considered as a referendum over the creation, rather we can view it as a gradual decline of people’s faith in Chandrasekhara Rao led TRS. This probably would have led Devender Gowd to go for a new party based on Telangana issue, since we have witnessed TRS being wronged inspite of growing strength of the Telangana issue.

Telugu Desam Party, ideally would love to stick to the same idea of united-andhra, but seems to be left with not much of options. This is because the very identity of TDP lies on one-ness based on the language and the division in the state would envitably leaves the party with more ‘leaders’. The second tier leaders in TDP: Devender Gowd, Kadiyam Sri Hari etc., had been expressing their dissent over the past few days, has left the Mr.Naidu helpless. He would probably have to voice the same Telangana song to win an alliance with one of the parties with this agenda.

One more group which might be adversely affected with the present chain of events is Chiranjeevi, the superstar of Andhra Pradesh. He has already declared that he is coming up with a new party by the end of August. CPI has already offered strong backing to him, while CPI (M) is probably trying to rope him into the party itself. The reason why his ambitions of CM might decline is because both the left partys are strong in the Telangana region. Moreover, he has a strong support from fans in the Nizam area, which means loss of atleast around 10-15 Assembly constituencies. On the top of this, he would also have to make his agenda clear on the issue, which is another challenge for the Chiru-campaigners. But, if he takes the decision of supporting Telangana movement; he would join the league of TRS, BJP and Devender Gowd, which means Telangana might be envitable atleast over the next 5 years.

Farmers have to change

June 25, 2008

The media here in Karnataka was all filled with a police firing which killed a farmer in North Karnataka till few days back. The incident was reported in a very much biased way by all the newspapers and news channels. It was obvious that they would take the farmer’s side. Agreeable, since the sole bread winner of the family was killed by the police. But the other side of the story was just brushed under the carpet.

The kind of violence indulged by the farmers is really worrisome. One wonders as to why the farmers have suddenly started protests and indulged in burning buses and pelting stones at police stations, agriculture offices and other state government properties. The reason being given is the shortage of fertilizers. Many questions intrigue me here. Why did the farmers suddenly start protests just after the new government assumed power in state? Did they not face any shortage of fertilizers till now? If so, they dont seem to have proper planning for the future. Why did any so called farmer-leader not go to the governor and make a representation of the shortage of essential farming supplies in the state? There was Central rule for more than six months in the state, and in case of any protests then or even any peaceful representations, farmers could have really got their problems solved long back. I seriously wonder if these protesters are all true farmers or farmers instigated by the opposition or just not farmers at all, but political cadres. If the case belongs to last two categories, then perpetrators of violence should be handled firmly. If they are genuine farmers, then there are more things to do, apart from just providing them fertilizers.

Indian farmers have come a long way in utilizing the chemical fertilizers so much so that they just cannot do farming without them. Stopping the use of fertilizers suddenly is definitely not possible, but gradual reduction is very much possible and essential. They can get together in small groups and manufacture organic manure and pesticides locally to suit their requirements. The kind of coordination seen in protests is actually needed in bringing a change in the farming methods. Better material management, better storage and processing and better marketing of the produce is needed. They must also look at improvised and customized tools for Indian farming conditions.

Farmers have to reduce their dependency on the government. Most of them still depend on the governments for things right from seeds, fertilizers to selling the produce. The latter one needs large network and huge investments. But other things can be managed by the farmers at their level itself – preparing seeds for the next crop or even procuring manure. Again, proper coordination amongst themselves will help them a lot.

I believe that for most of the farmers, corporate farming can be the key for their problems. Especially for the small and medium farmers, who generally have issues with finance, economy and business of their farming, corporate farming is a bless. Opposition to such initiatives saying that they harm farmers’ interests, that too by people who do not have any know-how of farming, is naive in deed and only has ulterior motives driven by a sick ideology of anti-all-corporate. Farmers should try their luck with corporate farming when the good old times of happy farming with the complete government support are gone.

The so-called farmer leaders have failed the community badly. Those self proclaimed leaders are only making money and fame in farmers’ name. They also do politics over farmer suicides. Many a times those leaders are themselves not true farmers! Farmers have to be cautious of such terrible leadership.

Farmers really need to stop ending lives, for that it gives no relief for their families, neither solves their problems. If they believe that by ending self the families can survive with the compensation by the government, is utter foolishness. Unfortunately many of them believe so strongly in getting compensation that they do end up in ending their lives. The administration and as a society we all need to do something to stop this suicide spree by those who provide food for us. These suicides are also a psychological issue apart from the financial failure of farmers. It is imperative to counsel the farmers in distress, motivate and orient them towards a self-confident and self-sustained entity. They are insecure — socially and financially.

Dirty politics around farmers’ death has to stop. I saw the opposition parties up in arms against the government protesting the killing of one farmer in police firing. While I do not deny the crime on the part of police and blood on the hands of the administration, the politicians should also shed a tear or two for those who are committing suicides. I see the Congress making a huge hue and cry on the issue. It should look into what it has done in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and what it did in Karnataka. They are hunting for the new chief minister’s head. When they can celebrate Sharad Pawar, they have zero morality to talk about farmers. Sharad Pawar is better off licking cricketers’ boot than serve the poor farmers. I also saw some communists coming out and protesting here and there on the issue. Believe me, I could not control laughing, for me having seen brutal killings of poor farmers in West Bengal and absolute ignorance of their plight by the state government.

I remember one Mr. R. Madhavans [not the ‘maddy’ guy, but a revolutionary farmer who despite being an IIT graduate, has taken up farming as a passion and finds peace of mind in his high-yielding farms] repeated quote that farming is not just an art, but also true science and a great engineering.

I know, these things are easily written as a blog and forgotten there after. But somehow, someone needs to bring revolutionary changes in fields or at least trigger them. The hands that feed the nation should never beg for their own bread.

Gujarat Drama

June 18, 2008

1. PM and Fm make referenced to take credit for Gujarat’s development saying that a lot of funds have been given to Gujarat. – in some speech.

2. Modi reacts saying only a meagre 5% of the tax paid by Gujarat’s people is given as funds from the centre and says that they are relying on falsehoods. He goes one more step ahead and says that the centre is more dependent on the state’s taxpayers. – in some rally

3. Issue blown over – The congress says that the data is not true as there was no data of taxes paid by states and calls for modi to be tried for treason (probably inspired by similar such calls from Nawaz Sharif recently), and says that Modi is questioning the very existance of the nation. They question the nationalism of the nationalist leader.

4. Modi asks them to go ahead with the absolutely ridiculous idea of the treason trial.

5. Congress says that Modi does not know the facts and produces facts to show that the Congress govt. did indeed give more funds to gujarat in their time than the NDA govt. did. The figures compare NDA contribution in 2002-03 and theirs in the last year showing about 25% increase over 4 years. This when the growth of Gujarat has been about 10% every year then. Also congress refutes the claim that the aid given to Gujarat is paltry, by discovering the amount taxes paid by the state to centre. One does not even know which taxes have been considered.

This is one of the better dramas unfolding in the recent past, the strong dialogues by Congress “leaders” (read sycophants like Manish Tiwari) like “trial for treason” have been interesting indeed. The congress have really given a good drama for a long time, its time they bowed out.

As for Modi, he should try and make sure he is quoted right and in correct context (he was only speaking at a rally). And he has a point, the state people work hard to produce some results in their neighbourhood. People work hard hoping that roads and infrastructure in their part of the world would improve and if any funds are going to the centre to put into sachar committees and to institute fudging experts and contract killers to maintain the sanctity of flagship pogroms oops sorry programs like NREGA.

The simple speech of Modi can shake the congress so much to call treason is testimony to the stature of Modi.

Pm in waiting Advani has been telling repeatedly to BJP that they should not get complacent. But the signals in place are quite the other way.

the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, has a tough task in Delhi: naming a potential chief minister in the absence of a natural choice, ahead of the assembly polls due later this year. [link]

The BJP might be well placed due to anti-incumbency and misgovernance of the central and state government, but the BJP holds a democratic ideal which makes people choose about them better, they take decisions, stances, and project leaders. The voter is better equipped to make a choice about BJP than about any other party. Even though other parties will try to cash on the fringe, the BJP still emerges on the top because it respects the voter. Delhi is a disturbing piece in the trend in the whole set, and absence of any natural leader is a very petty excuse.

Jagdish Mukti or VK Malhotra should hopefully take reins and start organising the party machinery and revives the democratic ideal of BJP so that a good fair election takes place.

Recently, two people were killed in isolated independent incidents, both very alarming and revealing of an underlying untruth.

  • Mr. Lalit Mehta, an activist of Vikas Sahyog Kendra, was trying to organise social audits to help the NREGA function better.
We are deeply disturbed by the recent murder of Lalit Kumar Mehta, member of Vikas Sahyog Kendra (Palamau District), who was brutally killed on 14 May 2008 as he was returning from Daltonganj to Chhattarpur on a motorcycle.
The circumstances of this murder are disturbing. Lalit (aged 36), an active member of the right to food campaign and Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, has been working in this area for more than 15 years on issues related to the right to food and the right to work. He was a very gentle person and his work was widely appreciated. However he was also fearless in exposing corruption and exploitation, and often came in the way of vested interests.
At the time of this incident, Lalit was helping a team of volunteers from Delhi and elsewhere to conduct a social audit of NREGA works in Chainpur and Chhattarpur Blocks of Palamau District. Attempts had already been made to dissuade the team from conducting this investigation, particularly in Chainpur Block. Is it a coincidence that Lalit was murdered just one day after the investigation began?
If this murder was an act of intimidation, it did not succeed. Friends and supporters from all over Jharkhand gathered at Vikas Sahyog Kendra on 17 May. They unanimously resolved to continue the campaign against corruption and exploitation in this area. [link]
  • Mr. Kameshwar Yadav tried to use RTI to get the NREGA details, he was another activist who wanted to verify the system to help it work better.

Giridih, June 8: In a rerun of the Lalit Mehta murder case, Kameshwar Yadav, an NREGA activist, was killed by unidentified gunmen near Gaadi village about nine last night.

Kameshwar was returning to his Khatori residence — about 75km from here — after taking part in a CPI-ML bandh over the fuel price rise in block headquarters Deori.

Rajkumar Yadav, a CPI-ML state committee member, said being a morally upright person, Kameshwar had questioned — under the Right to Information Act — the nexus flourishing among officers, leaders, contractors and middlemen regarding minor irrigation work in Deori.

Kameshwar was also a block committee member of the party. CPI-ML leaders, including MLA Vinod Singh, blocked the Jamua-Koderma road for around six hours today demanding the arrest of criminals. Giridih SP Murari Lal Meena said that the killers would be arrested within June 13. [link]

NREGA is a wonderful scheme, it is aimed at guaranteeing the constitutional right to work to rural people by providing employment to one person from each household in rural areas. It is a flagship of the congress government and was flouted very proudly at the congress 4 year anniversary. But there are many skeletons in the closet. Mr. Mihir Shah writes about the discrepancies in implementation.

But even after the enactment of NREGA, things have been slow to change at the grass-roots. Displaying remarkable ingenuity, the old order is already finding ways to sidestep the radical provisions of the Act. Contractors deploy machines with impunity, even as forged muster rolls are filled up with fictitious names and thumb-marks of workers, to show as if the work was done by labour. This is especially the case in States like Jharkhand, which still do not have elected Gram Panchayats. [link]

Even Mr. Shourie in his article has raised some objections about how ‘right’ data is filled after initial data is pencilled in so that the performance of the flagship program of Congress remains grande.

After citing what the PM, FM, etc. have been saying about ensuring outcomes and not being lulled by outlays, Saxena asks, and ‘How is outcome delivered in the states?’, and answers, ‘By falsifying records!’ He cites the tour observations of a person in a position to know, and unlikely to state things that would embarrass the Government:

‘We discovered that all data of children at the centre for the past five months, weight, vaccinations, health records etc, were filled in with pencils. On probing further, I found it was done so that in case of an official inspection, the figures could be erased and “correct” data inserted to make the centre’s performance look good!’

The writer? The Congress MP, Sachin Pilot. Recalling such accounts, Saxena observes, ‘The practice is so widely prevalent in all the states, presumably with the connivance of senior officers, that the data reaching GOI [according to a recent study by the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development] shows only 8% as the overall percentage of malnourished children in case of 0-3 years (with only one percent children severely malnourished), as against 46% reported by NFHS-3.

What is equally astonishing is the fact that records show a steep decline in the percentage of malnourished children from 29% to 8%, which is totally at variance with the findings of the various NFHS surveys. By sending bogus reports the field officials are thus able to escape from any sense of accountability for reducing malnutrition.’ [link]

Someone had felt constrained to exclaim at the state of affairs to describe it as ‘Loot for work program’, and after these killings, it is tending towards a ‘kill for work program’!

Lalit was killed on the 14th May, and the congress celebrated its four years on the 23rd May, touting NREGA as their proud achievement. Either the congress is cheeky enough to take us voters lightly or it is sure it wont return to power. Either way, we’ll show them.

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!!

I have always held that Raje is a much better role model to women than Ms. Pratibha Patil or Ms. Sonia Gandhi. Trying times are the real test of a person, and Raje has handled and is handling the trying times in Rajasthan exceptionally well.

She was quick to act when the terror strikes happened, she restored calm and asked action from the centre. She reassured the people and did not hinder the investigations. It was for having asked the centre for action that she was reprimanded, albeit wrongly. Misogynist Mr. Patil who tried to hit her by irony, saying, may be she was shaken, there were no such directions from the centre, must have faced immense embarrassment when the evidence about the home ministry’s order was made public by the media. She was relentless and she has been looking into her states interest all along.

Ms. Raje who handled the post terror strike situation very well, was posed another challenge. That of the Gujjar agitation. Mr. Bhainsala crossed all lines of decent protests and still compared his right to protest to that of Gandhiji’s satyagraha. And the centre was fueling the whole incident through Mr. Pilot instead of pacifying it. Instead of giving any directions on the issue the centre sought to play petty politics.

The allegations that she had promised the ST status to the Gujjars in order to come to power is actually not true, she had promised to look into the matter and take care of the welfare of the Gujjars. And in that aspect she has been more than fair to the Gujjar communinty. After coming to power she set up a commission to look into the matter of ST status – Chopra commission. The findings of the commission were that the status of the group were far from those necessary for ST status and that the status should not be awarded. In the report that was submitted in December 2007, the commission also observed that the Gujjars were indeed a backward caste and some relief packages should be given to them. The report was forwarded to the centre and Raje has alo set up a board under the leadership of Ramdas Agarwal and a relief package of Rs. 282 crores for their welfare. The recommendations of the commission were also carried out. The Gujjars were given their fair share.

Recently the media has been at its negative best. While some say that the move is only symbolic and time buying technique others have written whole articles saying that she is not committed to the issue because she wrote to the PM and not the tribal ministry! It would be hard to say what motivates such articles but they are definitely false. Even when Mr. Bhainsla called for a strike and after the strike, Ms. Raje has called him to have peace talks. Mr. Bhainsla has refused to talk until a letter was sent to the centre. Ms. Raje has done just that the very next day and asked for the centre to intervene. This was required as the state was pretty much burning. About 50 km of railway track has been uprooted, police was attacked with stones and an officer was beaten to death. At this point Raje did the right thing and took the immediate possible solution by asking the centre to intervene.

And it is not as if the ball was thrown in centre’s court, the ST status can be provided or refused by the centre alone. Moreover the matter concerns more than one state and in such a case the onus is on the centre to take a call on the issue. So as far as political commitment to the issue is concerned Raje has done well by doing her part completely.

Other problem is with the deaths, it would be interesting to pay attention to the reason why these deaths have happened. When you examine the articles you notice that the police had to open fire when people started beating up police and when a police officer was beaten to death. It is not as if Raje has been spearheading the violence on the Gujjars or a certain personal vendetta was being vented. If the movement is now peaceful then it is because of the number of forces that have been deployed.

It is left to be seen what Mr. Sachin Pilot would do at this time, with it apparent in front of him that the status can be awarded only unfairly. In either way the Congress stands to lose the trust of the people. By awarding the status they would be going against the principles of reservation and falling to unfair demands and if they do not, they should control the protesters. Mr. Sachin pilot or some one from the centre should put the protesters down and explain why it should not come up.

The caste based politics in the age of reservation can only be destructive.

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