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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Murder Of Gauri Lankesh And The Meltdown Of The Liberal Ecosystem

Team Being Cynical
Yesterday evening a journalist named Gauri Lankesh was shot dead by two bike borne assailants in front of her house in a posh locality of Bangalore. Seven bullets were fired of which three hit the departed journo thereby inflicting fatal injuries. She died on the spot. This was the gory tale that unfolded on TV when I switched on to some news channel for my routine prime time consumption. Crimes like these when carried out in such impunity, it throws a very dark picture around our law and order apparatus, not just in Bangalore but across the nation. I am sure this is not the first crime of such nature and neither would it be the last. With every passing hour, our law and order situation is reaching a new low. Lack of accountability in public safety still remains a talking point which in itself shows how badly we are positioned with the basics of any civilized society. While we are at it, I must say this before I forget – my condolences are with the family and near ones.  

Are you still wondering who this Gauri Lankesh is? Yes? Not your fault. She wasn’t that prominent a journalist for an average ‘Haroon Bhai’ to recognize her at once. I myself can't remember reading any of her works which I am told were mostly in Kannada language. What were the context and content of her writings; well I couldn't care less. That said for the benefit of the readers I must take the pain in elaborating the phenomenon called Gauri Lankesh, else writing lengthy biographies isn’t my cup of tea. And as is, she isn't even worth my valuable time, nor even anyone else's. So couple of introductory paragraphs on her first, just to make you aware.

Barring couple of instances she was on TV to weep inconsolably for the Maoists or the ‘Azaadi’ gang of JNU, she pretty much limited her work of journalism to the domain of print media. It was the print media she inherited from her father, who too was a journalist of yesteryear. She was a beloved soul among the liberal circuit as well and she had reasons to her credit to be among the good books of our ‘liberal-secular’ authorization syndicate. As mentioned earlier, her father was a journalist too. He used to run a small Kannada tabloid named ‘Lankesh Patrike’ in the early-mid eighties. He was an anti-establishment journo who had strong detest for Hindus and Hindutwa. After his death his daughter Gauri Lankesh inherited the press/tabloid and since then she is running the same tabloid with a new name – ‘Gauri Lankesh Patrike’. More on this name change thing later.

Like her father she too had strong detest for anything and everything Hindu. Along with that, she added few more characteristics of her own. She too was a great supporter of the Maoists and the ‘azaadi’ thugs of the Kashmir valley. All through her career she simply vitrioled against Hindus, Hindutwa, RSS and BJP. She was also a great abhorrer of Narendra Modi as well. But this isn’t at all a surprise. Castigating Modi is expected of a true liberal anyway. In nutshell – she built a career purely on her hate for Hindus, its festivals and practices, political parties that support Hindu cause among many. Good enough to turn her a darling of our ‘fiberal’ commies.

She was a darling of our liberals hence when the news of her murder started flashing in, it resulted in a complete meltdown of our liberal ecosystem. "Press Freedom Under Attack", came the wolf cry, almost immediately; much like the "Muslim/Christians Under Attack" nonsense of the recent times. Almost all of them went up in some episodic outrage. Not more than five minutes were spent before concluding the crime to be a handiwork of the Hindutwa modules though they strongly advocate for a restraint in the Sunanda Pushkar murder trial till the investigations are over. And here the investigation is yet to start but the conclusion is already drawn. The last time I saw this gang shouting/whining prematurely in one voice; it was when the lift man Tarun Tejpal was arrested on charges of raping an employee. Gauri Lankesh was one among many who certified the holy cow in Tarun Tejpal. She even called the charges of the poor girl as vindictive. In fact Gauri Lankesh had strong similarities with Tarun Tejpal in more ways than one, not just the outrage of the liberal footsies. Both used to run some junk dead periodicals that had no other story to run except bashing Modi, BJP, Hindus and Hindutwa 24/7. Both were irrelevant and agenda manufacturers, even during their prime. While one went on to rape a woman of his daughter’s age inside a lift, GL went ahead churning spleen after spleen against Hindus without any base or proof. But more on this later.

Traditionally GL was anti-establishment, or so as what her liberal ecosystem claims, as long as the establishment was not of her choice i.e any non-commie party. In her 40 long years of journalistic career, if at all you want to call her unethical work of abhorrence as journalism, she never was critical about anything other than Hindutwa and BJP. This doesn’t go well with someone who advocates equality for all and calls herself a feminist, whatever that means. Never one would find her commenting anything other than BJP and Hindus. Her tryst with equality vanishes the moment one pricks about the inequality in other religions. Ditto were her extravagances vis-à-vis the massive corruption of the Congress regime. She was never seen questioning the gigantic national loot that her party of choice was engaged with for decades. From Kanheiya Lal to the Maoists, she was very friendly and accommodative to all kind of anti-India elements. She was the one who supported the festive atmosphere in JNU after each successful ambush of the Maoists. She was a huge supporter of the Kashmiri Azaadi gang too. Her hatred towards Narendra Modi was legendary in no uncertain terms. In fact her hate was absolute. Case-in-point, the tweet attached here. A rogue like Sanjeev Bhatt tweets something uncivilized about an elected PM and look who has re-tweeted it. This is the kind of hatred GL carried for an elected PM. And she is the kind of uncouth entities that our liberal brethren shout for. Irony dies further when such charlatan characters come on TV screens and preach us about tolerance and inclusive society. They teach the so called ‘Right-Wing’ on civility too. GL may have died yesterday but for me, with so much poison and hatred in her without any reason she probably was dead a long time back.

And how the liberals hail this uncouth and uncivilized moron? They call her courageous, free thinking (what the hell does this mean even?), secularist, brave and truth oriented. Really? Truth oriented? Since when? She was a liar of highest degree and it was proven by none other than our courts.  Not long back the courts had found her lying against a BJP lawmaker and quite blatantly at that. She was convicted in a defamation case and sent behind the bars for six months. Not only that, even the press council had restrained/warned this so called 'free thinking' journalist for peddling untruth. Basically this moron of a woman was in a bad habit of lying to show people who she doesn’t like in bad light and that too without any base. When she was murdered, the so called ‘truth oriented’ journalist was out on bail. A seasoned liar and agenda pusher who was legally convicted for her lies is an epitome of brave journalism for our clownish liberal brigade. Yet they wonder why their reputation is at all-time low in public discourse. Just because her hatred for Modi and BJP knew no bounds our entire secular-liberal brigade ran around praising this uncivilized liar. This is where the quality of journalism in India has landed at. A convicted liar is praised for her lies and hailed as a feisty journalist. No wonder I stand vindicated when I call these jokers as ‘Mediacrooks’. That said, for our liberals, terrorists are martyrs and convicted criminals are luminaries. 

There is another part to the phoney outrage that these secularities are exhibiting post the murder. What is so special with GL that every crook worth his/her salt in our media is shouting his/her lungs out? I don’t want to buy that hilarious ‘one of our own’ nonsense. Where were these morons when a journalist was burnt alive in UP couple of years back? Wasn't he one of their own? May be not since he wasn't an abject Narendra Modi hater. He didn't belong to their Lutyens Scotch circuit freeloader gang either. He probably was a non-English speaking lowlife journalist doing exactly what journalists were supposed to do. That is perhaps why I didn’t find a single joker even whispering, much less outraging on the gruesome murder. Why that horrible act never enticed these clowns to go on a protest? Same was the case when Lalu was accused of murdering a journalist who exposed Sahabuddhin. In fact the same clowns were seen taking affectionate selfies with Lalu after that. Coming back to the topic. Was it because the poor journalist named an MLA of their favourite party in his dying statement our liberal outlet simply shut their doors on it? Or was Bareilly far from Delhi than what Bangalore is? Where were these opportunist rats hiding back then? Few even were shameless enough to dismiss it by saying – the matter is under investigation and we won’t comment till the investigation is over. But look at the agility today. The same clowns never did wait for the investigation to even start on this case. This is how these morons fail their own cause. They become so pathetically predictable that they end up exposing themselves. Didn't I always say, our media chaps aren't very bright people?

That said I must give one thing to these secularities. They never fail to disappoint me. They may be morons but they certainly aren’t fools. GL wasn’t a fool either. She was well aware when, where and why she is lying under the burqua of journalism. Most of the current clownish lot are liars too. Most of them know their area of interest and how to push their master's agenda. Agitating on the UP journalist murder would have exposed their masters. There was no direct association where BJP-RSS could be blamed unlike GL murder where the agenda could be pushed through. Law & Order is a state subject but I am yet to hear a single soul in the agitating lot questioning the state government for it. This is much like the Dadri intolerance farce. The practice helps in two ways. First it covers the incompetence of the state government which is run by their beloved party/ies and second, they have readily available platform to blame the BJP-RSS and get away with it. They shout for similar incidents of the past but never would tell you that all such incidents happened during Congress ruling; be it state or the centre. This is how they payback their masters in kind. They did it in Dadri and safeguarded Akhilesh Yadav government from genuine law-and-order questions. Few even returned their worthless awards in protest. All because – RSS and BJP could be blamed. Murder of a journalist in UP becomes trivial and irrelevant because it can’t be picked up to bash BJP and Modi. 

But facts never excite the liberal clowns, agenda does. This is precisely why they were quite quick to pronounce their judgment without waiting for the investigations to even start. As I said, it barely took five minutes for them to start blaming BJP-RSS accompanied with their phoney ‘intolerance’ narrative. No ‘inclusive society’ characteristics were lost when a journalist was murdered in UP or Bihar but it does today. It does today because another freeloader is killed, not just any journalist. In the process of agenda manufacturing these selfsame morons are forgetting that the said crime happened in Karnataka. Little did they remember how there was a feud between GL and her brother on who should inherit the press after their father’s demise. After a long tussel she inherited it by half and started her own tabloid with a modified name : 'Gauri Lankesh Patrike'. As per the Bangalore police, GL once even filed a police complaint against her own brother for threatening her with a gun. No one even spares a second to ask himself/herself – could there be a family feud that resulted in the crime? No moron does it because that is where the interest isn’t. Digressing from facts does help in shouting and organizing phoney protest marches afterwards. Even candle light marches too. They did the same when Kalburghi was murdered and I vaguely remember the investigation ultimately led to some family feud at the end. They too won’t want to discuss how murders where ideology is involved could never reveal the culprits. Each of the similar murders happened in Congress ruled states and none of it could bring out the culprits. It is all about agenda and lie peddling which GL was master at and now when she is dead, the liberal ecosystem is doing pretty much the same in remembrance – lie peddling.

By the way, I haven’t kept track of the latest development in our liberal discourse whole through the day. Did any irrelevant soul returned his/her award today crying intolerance? Or all worthless awards are returned already? But remember guys – Karma is a bitch. It makes you pay.

May the convicted criminal rests in peace. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

India At 70 - Article 370

Team Being Cynical
This is second in the series – “India At 70”. It is about article 370 in our constitution that has given autonomous authority to the state of J&K. It is another self-created problem that we shouldn’t have continued with for so long. For a prolonged time it has remained the talking point in both our political/democratic as well as public discourse. Some time back one of my readers asked – what is my opinion on article 370? I am no constitutional expert, I replied. For me, article 370 is a glaring example (among many) of yet another democratic mismanagement by our forefathers. Much like the ‘Muslim personal law’, our forefathers left the guideline of the accession of J&K to India with lots of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, that unfortunately has come to hound us of late. I blame the lack of foresight back then that resulted in a never ending (so as it appears) mess like article 370. A mistake born out of thoughtlessness has left generations after generations to pay through their noses to just maintain the status-quo, much less bringing about the desired changes to get rid of it. We all are aware how big an evil it has turned out to be in terms of our national integration and we will only fool ourselves if we still claim that it doesn’t affect us as a state directly or indirectly.

Now the question arises; why did we tolerate this mess for long seventy years? Why no political party ever tried to fix this problem proactively? And I blame every political party that assumed office after independence. As I said, the clear and present danger vis-à-vis article 370 is too glaring for one to fringe ignorance. There has to be reasons why no government tried constructively to get rid of this menace. Beyond shouting to garner few political brownie points, there were no sincere efforts put forward to fix the problem that our forefathers left us to fix.

BJP did made article 370 a talking point again when they added it to their 2014 manifesto. And as gullible as we common populace could be, we thought it to be at par with 'Triple Talaq' as far as a problem statement is concerned. But is it as easy (or as difficult) as ‘Triple Talaq’ to fix? People may question BJP on the steps they have taken to fulfil this vital poll promise, but I, as an individual, never gave pre-poll political promises too much weight. These are routine gimmicks that political parties throw at us because they believe the voters are genetically and to even some extent pathologically stupid. Had we been so serious about what we were promising to the voters before election, we would already have been a superpower a long time back. Even the ‘Left’ chaps promised to make Kolkata another New York and we all know where the state of West Bengal has ended up at. Well, what BJP did or didn’t do after assuming power on their promise of abrogating article 370, we will discuss in the due course of the post. But before that, is repealing article 370 that easy; or at least to the easiness level that we all think it to be? Let’s see.
In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the representatives to the Constituent Assembly requested that only those provisions of the Indian Constitution that corresponded to the original Instrument of Accession should be applied to the State. Accordingly, the Article 370 was incorporated into the Indian Constitution, which stipulated that the other articles of the Constitution that gave powers to the Central Government would be applied to Jammu and Kashmir only with the concurrence of the State's constituent assembly. This was a "temporary provision" in that its applicability was intended to last till the formulation and adoption of the State's constitution.  – Wiki
This is a short history of the article 370. The above paragraph talks about the ‘why & how’ this mindless legislation was brought in at the first place. In which form it was brought in, we would see little later. Now here the matter of interest is the time period that this legislation was suggested to exist. It says the said legislation is for a temporary period. Now the question arises; how it then managed to survive so long. The answer to which is there in the legislation itself. Here the ‘constituent assembly’ of the state has the authority to call the shots. Ironically the constituent assembly of J&K was dissolved in 1957 without recommending either abrogation or amendment of article 370 in our constitution. This resulted in the article becoming a permanent feature in our constitution. This also has been confirmed by various court orders that cited the nonexistence of a ‘constituent assembly’ as the reason for no solution but to continue carrying the bogey as is. Could I guess a foul play here in the manner the constituent assembly was dissolved without taking this vital issue to any kind of conclusion? A little throwback on the history of 1957 and the kind of people that were governing J&K back then, I can only smell sabotage by choice. I don’t want to believe that such an important legislation could miss the discussion table before dissolving the sole authority who could take a call on this. So I can safely say, and I stick my neck out to say so; by design the article 370 was shoved down our throat by the nefarious design of the state in conduit with the centre of that era.

That said, what has been done is done. Can we fix it, if at all? The answer is both yes and no. At the same time it isn’t as helpless as it looks on its face value. The solution could be found in the article itself if we try to read between the lines. So as the starting point, let’s see what the article looks like in its entirety.
  • Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution,—
  • The provisions of article 238 shall not apply now in relation to the state of Jammu and Kashmir
  • The power of Parliament to make laws for the said state shall be limited to—
  • Those matters in the Union List and the Concurrent List which, in consultation with the Government of the State, are declared by the President to correspond to matters specified in the Instrument of Accession governing the accession of the State to the Dominion of India as the matters with respect to which the Dominion Legislature may make laws for that State; and
  • Such other matters in the said Lists as, with the concurrence of the Government of the State, the President may by order specify.
  • Explanation: For the purpose of this article, the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognized by the President on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly of the State as the Sadr-i-Riyasat (now Governor) of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers of the State for the time being in office.[1][11][b]
  • The provisions of article 1 and of this article shall apply in relation to that State;
  • Such of the other provisions of this Constitution shall apply in relation to that State subject to such exceptions and modifications as the President may by order specify: Provided that no such order which relates to the matters specified in the Instrument of Accession of the State referred to in paragraph (i) of sub-clause (b) shall be issued except in consultation with the Government of the State: Provided further that no such order which relates to matters other than those referred to in the last preceding proviso shall be issued except with the concurrence of that Government.
  • If the concurrence of the Government of the State referred to in paragraph (ii) of sub-clause (b) of clause (1) or in the second provision to sub-clause (d) of that clause be given before the Constituent Assembly for the purpose of framing the Constitution of the State is convened, it shall be placed before such Assembly for such decision as it may take thereon.
  • Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this article, the President may, by public notification, declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify: Provided that the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State referred to in clause (2) shall be necessary before the President issues such a notification.
If one looks at the article in detail the first thing that would strike you is the overwhelming capabilities of the ‘constituent assembly’, which now is non-existent, that could play a spoilsport in any attempt of the central government to take over. It talks about article 238 too. Could this be the door that we could sneak in? Unfortunately no. And why it is a NO? Because article 238 is already repealed a long time back. But yes, the amended/removed article 238 still plays a vital role and could give us a way forward. This very article was enacted for all princely held states who wanted to join India. But surprisingly 238 wasn’t made applicable to the state of J&K. Even more surprising, article 238 was repealed exactly a year before the constituent assembly of the state was dissolved. To our utter despair, now we don’t even have article 238 with us to amend and add J&K to it before taking article 370 head-on. Here too I suspect foul play as the very article which could have given straight forward ways to fix article 370 is gone too. But is it the end of the road? What else we are left with to fix the problem? Let’s see.

LEGAL AVENUES:

Could we just go to the courts and get this horrendous segregation in our constitution out as we did in case of ‘Triple Talaq’? We could but it won’t yield in much. Honestly, if we look at our court orders over the years on article 370 it won’t encourage us much either. It is not that the matter hasn’t gone to the courts yet. It has gone multiple times and each time the courts have refused to partake in legislation and rightfully so. As early as 2015, the J&K high court threw the petition out citing their inabilities to preside over our constitution. The change should be made in accordance with the legitimate procedures of democracy as subscribed by our constitution, the learned judges pronounced in their judgment. But they added a caveat in their judgment – there is no amendment possible to article 370 since the other party to the claim, i.e the constituent assembly cease to exist. Frankly the way through our legal system seems a farfetched idea to give us any kind of results here. It has to be the legislative way as the courts suggested.

LEGISLATIVE AVENUES:

President can repeal article 370 if he/she deemed it fit democratically. But can the president act on his own; without the consent of the constituent assembly of the state, which no more exists? Yes and no again. President can act without the consent but no president would do that fearing the backlash he/she would receive for jumping the outlined procedure, though it is very much within his democratic rights. President would only act if both lower and upper house pass a law. But as the J&K high court judgment goes, no amendments to article 370 is possible. What the central legislative assembly could do when the amendment option is already taken off the table? Not much except may be passing an amendment to sidestep the J&K high court ruling as was done against the Saha Banoo judgment of the Allahabad high court. But would that set a wrong precedence, both with our legislation and judiciary? Of course it will and someone at the top need to bite the bullet, though it won’t be that easy convincing people, both inside and outside of his/her party.

WAY FORWARD:

The way forward to get rid of this mess isn’t that simple as we think it to be. Individually, both our judiciary and our legislation can’t get rid of this on their own. It has to be a joint effort. Judicially the government must approach the Apex court to overturn the 2015 ruling of the J&K high court. That should be the first step. If there is a favourable judgment from the Apex court, the road ahead would be little easier. In event of our Apex court over ruling the earlier judgment, our legislative assembly should be convened to get rid of the clauses in article 370 that gives unobstructed decision making power to the J&K constituent assembly. They may not get rid of the state’s involvement totally but they can very well replace ‘constituent assembly’ with the now functioning ‘legislative assembly’ of the state. Making these minor changes won’t be that difficult as many constitutional experts believe. Third step in this endeavour should be to take the state assembly in confidence and I don’t think there would be any more favourable environment to take the state government on your side than what it is today. When there is a partnership that is ruling the state with BJP (who support abolition of article 370) at least half of the consent required from the state representatives is achieved. Knowing PDP and NC and the way they have built up their politics on article 370 over the decades, it won’t be that easy to make them agree to come on board but it is worth of an effort nonetheless. I even won't mind if PDP is arm-twisted somewhere in-between to tow the lines, and I am sure, there are enough avenues to arm-twist PDP.

Bigger problem would be if our Apex court agrees to the lines of J&K high court. It would almost shut down every door. It would immediately be a case where no more judicial solution/help possible. It has to be legislative approach all through. There could be review petitions filed but that hardly would change the decision in favour. In event of a rejection at the hands of our Apex court, the only way possible is to repeat a Saha Banoo and set aside the judgment as I mentioned above. Criticism would be plenty but that is the minimum one should be ready to take to get rid of a bigger malice. We can’t afford a state within a state. It has huge financial burdening as well. Lest we forget the democratic and legislative implications that we are managing since last seventy years. If this menace has to go, it should go. And no wonder it would require immense political will to act decisively here. But is the present BJP government ready to bite the bullet?

BJP’S INVOLVMENT:

As part of their manifesto BJP has tried to take the judicial route post their win in 2014. They had some political support across party lines on this as well. In September 2014 BJP along with RSS filed a petition with the J&K high court to look at their plea. But that effort as I told fell flat. In a ruling that I consider as a huge setback to the whole movement, J&K high court not only did refuse to arbitrarily supersede the constitutional framework but also ordered that there could not be the existence of a chance where article 370 could even be amended. It could not be abrogated, repealed or even amended, said the honourable high court in its judgment. Since the Constituent Assembly did not make such a recommendation before its dissolution in 1957, the Article 370 has taken on the features of a "permanent provision" despite being titled a temporary provision in the Constitution, the court added. And after this setback I haven't heard anything from BJP quarters vis-a-vis article 370.

CONCLUSION:

So let’s not mix the success of ‘Triple Talaq’ with abrogation of article 370. Both are two different things in their own way. Repealing article 370 isn’t that straightforward and it never was. It has to be a joint effort of many institutions that may just make it possible but it would be a huge effort. Someone has to do the heavy lifting and certainly courts wouldn't come to our rescue here. The effort required should be consistently spread over a period of time. As I said, the path ahead isn’t easy and even then, it is no guarantee that we would be successful in getting rid of this malevolence after all our efforts.  

Honestly, I would be greatly surprised if this is achieved within the tenure of the present dispensation. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Abolition Of Triple Talaq – What Took Us So Long?

Team Being Cynical
Personal laws in India were always been a sensitive issue. When it comes to Muslim personal law, it is even double sensitive. Other personal laws have seen changes, amendments and restructuring over the years, either by the respective practicing societies or the courts but Muslim personal laws never could see any such changes. But this is just part of the story. The other part is why it has remained sensitive over the decades. In fact the issue isn’t actually sensitive on its own. This has been made sensitive by design. It was kept sensitive by will because it has very strong and vital political fallout. Both Congress and BJP, the two major political parties of India, kept the issue burning for their respective political benefits. The most contentious issue in Muslim personal law is the instant Talaq, better known as 'Triple Talaq'. For a prolonged time there has been multiple demands to relook at this insensitive practice. Most even wanted this practice to be abolished completely. But public demands seldom encourage our political class to get back to their work. Since last forty years no political party showed much agility in closing this long pending demand from many quarters, important being the Muslim women.

No one knows why 'Triple Talaq' never got a holistic look that it deserves. So many, both reformers and the sufferers alike, had (and still doing) raised their voices on this unethical and in all likelihood unconstitutional practice but nothing could move our powers that be to take the corrective measures. No, not even our courts who otherwise should have taken suo-motu cognizance of this social malice. One could only feel the apathy from the fact that our judiciary was also sleeping over this important issue until yesterday, without much of a concern. Even yesterday’s verdict in favour of banning this inhuman practice came after a lot of proverbial ‘dragging the feet’ in recent times. How silly it sounds? Let’s see if we have a history that backs our complete disinterest in addressing this particular social reform.

I have said this earlier – our forefathers did a grave mistake in blurring, both the social and constitutional outline of our nation. They were quite proud in assuring us that we are not a ‘Hindu’ nation but they never told what we are then. In not only words, even their actions post a bloodied partition was far from being convincing. Pundit Nehru with all honesty wanted a uniform civil code across the territory of India. Instead we were handed over with is Article – 44, that makes no sense and even lesser practical value today. Nehru could modify the Hindu laws but conveniently sidestepped when it came to reform the Muslim personal law. Parochial and downright inhuman practices, which even hard-core Islamic countries could abolish, but for us it became a tough nut to crack. It was even a tough nut for the astute Pundit Nehru too. Why Pundit Nehru never acted decisively? Was it Muslim appeasement or fear of losing the vote bank or both? There has to be some reason/s. Though we may never know the exact compulsions of Nehru to look the other way and here I want to give him the benefit of doubt since he may as well have valid reasons to go numb on it; but what the subsequent Congress governments did or didn’t is beyond any comprehension.  No one can exonerate Congress of their crimes in neglecting/forgetting this all important social reform government after government. They had a straight run till 1977 and most/all of the times they had more than sufficient numbers in both houses to address this issue.  But no Congress government did take this malice head-on. They simply abandoned the cause and so as the outcry for change. It can’t be anything except political callousness.  ‘Congress’s abdication of personal law reforms was a colossal, historical and moral blunder’, as Pratap Bhanu Mehta puts it.

Not only did they ignored to act on the reform, they also made sure that the issue gets dragged for donkeys years. In their pursuit to remain unaccountable, they thought of putting article-44 to a slow cooker, one of the safest political options for any escapist politician. When the guideline of the constitution was specific on what is expected of the government, Congress in other hand left it too late for a possible and amicable solution. Not only Congress let the issue wrongly get stuck in the muddied religious waters it also made sure that it becomes a political pawn too. And how did they manage to give it a thick political colour? Yes, by exploiting it for petty political gains. Saha Banoo case is one such instance out of many where Congress adversely crippled the road to UCC by fifty years at least. Had that insensitive blow from the Congress party not came around in Saha Banoo case, we would have the nefarious practice got banned much earlier than 2017. When the court ordered in favour of Saha Banoo, it was a golden opportunity on a platter. The then government should have taken advantage of the situation to roll out the UCC on the floor of the house; had there been any gill in bringing article-44 into practice. But it seems, not only the gill was missing in its totality, the government of that era rather had sinister plots in their minds to act adversely. Just to appease the ‘Mullhas’ and the ‘Maulabis’ Rajiv Gandhi government denied the justice to the woman, more so when she had already got the relief from the high-court. Rajiv Gandhi government used their brute power to amend the law and made the high court ruling null and void whereas they should have taken advantage of the situation and used their power to push through UCC mercilessly.

In contrast BJP was consistent with their demand for UCC in general and ‘Triple Talaq’ in particular. It always was a big political point in BJP’s scheme of things. They had their eyes on it since 1989. In fact BJP offered their support to the then National Front government in 1989 with a condition that the government would address their demand of enacting a common civil law. Unfortunately the said government couldn’t manage to survive long. Over the decades BJP and its members were seen debating on these issues, both inside as well as outside of the parliament. In the past they had put their political weight behind anyone who was fighting for a common civil law. Be it Shyra Banoo as an individual or ‘Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andoolan’ as a group, BJP always stood behind them firm. RSS in fact was a major party in the case that our apex court was hearing since May 2017. RSS too used its strong carder base to collect millions of signatures across India in supporting the ban of this bad practice. Narendra Modi too was quite vocal about his government’s preferences. In fact he was the first politician and PM who talked about ‘Triple Talaq’ from the ‘Red Fort’. As early as his 2017 Independence Day speech, Modi requested the courts to work towards a coherent and socially justifiable verdict. Uphold the constitutional values, he urged, exactly what the courts finally said while dumping this malicious practice to the dustbin. Though not in their national manifesto, ‘Triple Talaq’ was always an unwritten poll promise of BJP. To let know their seriousness, BJP in fact put the ‘Triple Talaq’ in their manifesto for the UP legislative elections.

Many would say BJP was just clever in managing the show to their advantage. Few even ask – why didn’t BJP make the legislation through parliament when they are enjoying majority in the lower house. Why go to the courts, asked one of my friends. I must say BJP did play it beautifully. A lower number in the upper house had made the option of legislation through parliament almost redundant. A solution through parliament would for sure have scaled the Secularism Vs Communalism debate to unimaginable idiocy level. Instead they choose to travel the judiciary route where there were cases already been filed before the court. All they need to do was to put their political power behind it. Couldn't have come any easier for BJP. They too agreed before the court under oath that they will pursue to bring in the required legislation once the courts confirm the constitutional viability of such a practice. No wonder BJP turned out clever here. Now that the court was severe in dismissing this uncultured practice, I am sure the secularities wouldn’t dare to question the wisdom of the apex court in fear of public and political humiliation. Of course BJP was clever in fighting for their poll promise covertly but what made other political parties to not act as cleverly as BJP did? What made them miss the bus? Where were the SP, BSP, Congress, TMC et. all? Why these parties didn’t act equally smart or clever? What were they busy at?

Not sure about other parties but Congress was busy defending ‘Triple Talaq’ as they traditional did over the years. While earlier the attempts were covert or at best ignorance, this time it was quite open. This time they pressed their in-house lawyers to do the damage directly. They deployed both Salman Khurshid and Kapil Sibal to destroy whatever minimal credibility they had vis-à-vis UCC. Even more bizarre is the kind of argument these lawyers furnished in the court. One gem of the many was - Since it is a practice for thousand of years one must continue with the filth. Perfect!! Perfect in a way that exposes what Congress always thought about UCC and ‘Triple Talaq’. Every religion has practices that not only are vicious but also are far from fitting into the prevalent times. Do the likes of Sibal and his party suggest all of us to continue carrying the rot to the next generation and beyond? What kind of logic that Congress wanted to bring through their leader-cum-lawyers? This is how the inherent and sinister idea of pseudo secularism fails you at the end. There were dozens of survivors of this pathetic practice that were fighting it out in the court while million other survivors were anxiously waiting to know what the nation gives them in return and Congress as a party decided to fail them, one and all. No reason, no substantive argument and abject disrespect to basic human respect are all that Congress could offer to the aspirations of millions of Muslim women. All that Congress could furnish to counter the debate were hilarious whataboutery which again were far from being the truth.

I equally blame the foot soldiers of the ecosystem for the misery that the Muslim women of this country had to suffer for this long. Like their masters, the footsies too survive purely on whataboutery; border line with absolute shamelessness. On a day the landmark judgment was delivered what these footsies found more relevant to discuss? Yes, when the rot in the Hinduism would be cleared up. Seriously? Does it even make any sense, much less any argument? Are these guys ended up being so jobless? Few even went ahead proclaiming and lecturing on the wrongs in Hinduism without a shred of knowledge on the facts and the developments in Hindu personal laws. Is this bimbo so dumb? Isn’t she aware that the point she is crying hoarse for the heck of it was already addressed way back in 2005? The guidelines of inheritance in Hindu laws has already been modified and equal rights were already issued a long time back. Did she get up just today or was she busy swimming in her pool when the courts did the required changes to the Hindu inheritance law? Not sure who got motivated by whom, street thug too had an advice or two for the PMO. I wonder when these guys would learn journalism. These are not the only distorted souls who had everything on fire. Scavenging wrong in Hinduism is what they could think of doing through the day. There were other useful idiots too. More than the verdict and the veracity of it, most of them were busy concluding how BJP shouldn’t be a party to the credit for this social success. Totally blind by hate, so much so that they conveniently forgot, the point here isn’t who is getting the credit but a section that now onwards would have their dignity restored. Hate has blind them to such an extent that they don’t know what real journalists do for a living.

To say the least, it is a massive, massive day in the history of our judiciary. It was equally massive and a huge boost to our fight for social equality as well. One of the longest fought nonsense is settled for good finally. Let’s congratulate the brave women who took the male chauvinism and historical parochialism head-on. Let’s congratulate all those who stood by these women in every thick-and-thin.  Let’s congratulate our courts too. They are the man of the match. One major social issue that looked impossible to fix is dealt swiftly by our apex court. In fact they did the heavy lifting. It is now up to the central government to formulate the desired legislation at the earliest and make it a law. A long fought war should have a satisfying ending. 

Over to you the ministry of Law, PMO, Narendra Modi and Ravishankar Prasad. Catch you at the other side.                   

Monday, August 21, 2017

2019 General Elections - How It's Panning Out For BJP?

Team Being Cynical
Yesterday one of my close friends shared his views in our engineering group’s Whats App board on why he thinks Narendra Modi would do an Atal Bihari Vajpayee and hold the general elections earlier than 2019. Though I don’t entirely agree with his reasoning, he still had some valid points. They were politically viable and possible too. In nutshell what his argument was, to cover the shortcomings of the government, Modi may want to hold the election earlier which otherwise would give time for the voters to realize the shortcomings and vote against his party. In cricketing parlance, stay a couple of feets ahead of the popping crease while batting to negate the swing. Don’t give the ball time for the lateral swing to take effect. I see the logic in what he said. But at the same time I have my own beliefs that in all likelihood the election may not get preponed. If at all it does get, it won’t be more than by 3-4 months at the maximum. So, how about analysing how 2019 shapes out for BJP purely in terms of numbers to see if the aspersions of my friend really fit in?

A good starting point of the analysis would be 2014 election results. The figure in the right lists BJP’s numbers across all states and union territories. The rows highlighted in red are the states/UTs where BJP has either maxed out or almost maxed out. The sheer percentage of red shade in the table suggests that BJP had its best in many states in 2014, more so the politically important states. In fact states like Rajasthan, Goa, Himachal, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Delhi and few other UTs had a 100/100 result. So when it comes to 2019 these states can only add to the deficit in BJP’s numbers. And anyone would agree, getting 100/100 results in these states in 2019 won’t be easy, if not impossible. A conservative estimate would put the deficit somewhere around 10-15% at the minimum. That is 12-15 lost seats in these states alone. And remember, most of these deficit seats would be those of its own, not the allies. There are other states like Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh where the party seems to have almost maxed out. If there is an absence of miracle, I see BJP numbers only going down in these states as well.

I mean cracking 71 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh is almost impossible. Though both vote share as well as the seats won by BJP in recently concluded legislative election in UP still points to the intact popularity and numbers but we all know how state and general elections have their own way of interpretation as far as the voters are concerned. I would be utterly surprised if BJP manages to even stick to the number they won in UP, come the 2019 elections. Same could be said about MP, Rajasthan, Haryana and Jharkhand. Again if one wants to be conservative, he still wouldn’t stack the deficit in these states for BJP anything less than 30 seats. In total, in these states where they either have maxed out or almost there, BJP could end up losing close to 65-70 seats. That is a big chunk of numbers. And no one better than Modi understands this mathematics. To even match his party’s success of 2014, Modi has to find that extra 40-50 seats somehow. But the big question is – from where and how he would manage those seats which he most likely would lose in other states.

Now from here, my friend’s arguments starts to shake a bit and I will tell you how. But first the analysis, then we would counter my friend’s opinion.

Let’s start zone wise. South part of India was always a nightmare for BJP. Winning south could be the last bastion for Modi and his party. Momentarily they could assume office in Karnataka but promptly gave it away on a platter to their opponents. Karnataka has another interesting trend in national politics. Over the years, any party which went on to form the government at the centre has done badly in Karnataka, exception being 2014 elections. But then, these are just statistics and they hold not much significance than plain superstition. Breaking this superstition, BJP did fairly well in Karnataka and even better across India last time. After losing the state barely a year back to Congress, BJP could still manage to win 17 of the 28 seats in the state and I consider it as some short of achievement. And knowing the performance and popularity of the present Siddaramaiah government, I can foresee the tally increasing from 17 in the seats column. If I be safe in my prediction, I would account for 5 more seats at least from Karnataka. A person/government that can’t even defend the seats which they won in the state elections a year back may not be that effective in the defence after completing their tenure. As is, the Karnataka elections next year would make the picture little clear – first reason why Modi may not be even be thinking about an early election at present; not only because of Karnataka but also for other important states that would be going to poll in next eight months.

Second important state in the south region, that has of late emerged as an important state for BJP is Tamil Nadu. BJP as a party is a non-starter there. Not only they are a non-starter but also look like a non-starter for some years to come, might be even a decade and half. Only way forward for BJP here is their allies. DMK is in shambles, both in internal party management and corruption charges. AIADMK is no better but they have a slight advantage since they have hardly governed in their present tenure. They were busy managing their in-fight. So the fence sitters in the state would still be wondering where to go. And let me assure you, BJP has high hopes from this political mess of the state. If the partnership between Paneerselvam and Palanisami works out, minus Shashikala N, it is a win-win situation for both AIADMK and BJP. Rajanikanth as a political player with all possibility of supporting BJP if required can’t be ruled out either. If all goes well, BJP could easily expect 25 seats from the state. But for this to happen, the partnership must gel well between the two big ‘P’ of the state till the general elections. Second reason why Modi would want to wait and watch before deciding on the early elections – a fractured leadership at AIADMK would act negatively and benefit Modi’s opponents than helping him. He would make sure the equations are intact before deciding on an early election. 

But as all know, every partnership requires some time to mature and solidify. Modi would definitely want to give the upcoming TN partnership that much time before taking a call. Or else Rajanikanth getting deployed as a destroyer of every political punditry is inevitable.

So if all goes well, 30 seats of the deficit numbers are recovered from the south zone itself. Now let’s move on to the East Zone.

Odisha plays a key role here to my delight, simply being from the same state. Save this line of mine – I won’t be surprised if Modi fights one of his seats in 2019 from Bhubaneswar. It has both political and sentimental values. It is no doubt that the present BJD government in the state has turned little unpopular. After three terms at a stretch, political incumbency is bound to play a role and BJD seems to be learning this to their utter despair. The recently concluded Panchayat elections, BJP made sound inroads to typical BJD vote base. Emergence of a known and well accepted BJP leader in the state and potential CM candidate has added to BJP’s benefits. In all likelihood BJP would take their tally in the state to 10 from 1, if not more. And hence the third reason why Modi won’t want the elections early – he would prefer the dissatisfaction of the voters for BJD to grow.  Second, he would want his party to work more at grassroots and consolidate further, which definitely warrants time. Quick election would negate both. And Odisha is extremely vital for BJP.

The joint state-centre election in Odisha also would play to BJP’s advantage. A notable dissatisfaction may even push the fence sitters to go with BJP and we all know how public sentiments play a vital role in helping the indecisive to make up their mind. I don’t see a reason why Modi would want to part away with this advantage. And looking at the way BJD as a party carrying itself and not learning from their mistakes, more the time given to them more they would implode within.

So till now 40 seats seems to be recovered from the deficit. Next important state in the eastern part is Bihar.

I don’t have words to elaborate how knitting in Nitish Kumar is the political masterstroke of last few decades. More than bringing him into their side, the manner the alliance broke with Lalu has a bigger role to play, not just in state but also central politics. In one stroke BJP did manage to cull many upcoming impediments; vital being the destruction of a possible ‘Mahagathbandhan’ of the opponents in 2019. The manner Nitish Kumar went away citing the corruption as his point of concern; it too killed the notion of secularism totally. In other words, he almost challenged people of Bihar to choose either secularism or corruption, and I must say; he is winning the mind game. So here comes the fourth reason why Modi won’t want an early election – he definitely would want to give Bihar voters’ adequate time to realize that the decision of Nitish Kumar was for their own benefit only. And for people to believe so, JD(U) as a party, need to go door-to-door in convincing people, the reasons of the fallout and no wonder, the said effort would take some time. Certainly close to a year at least. 

Talking about numbers, I won’t be surprised if BJP+ even makes it 40/40 in the state and many would agree with me.

So, 55 seats are recovered already. This leaves two other states in Maharashtra and Assam to pitch in with their numbers.

Assam for sure would see big gains for BJP. From my side I would add at least five more seats from the state. Sonwal government is extremely popular and it is on the rise. And it generally takes at least two years for any political assimilation to change. Maharashtra is another state that would see a positive swing. I see 15 seats more at least getting added to BJP’s kitty. The all likelihood of NCP coming to NDA folds may even see a clean sweep for BJP+. And I am sure; a cunning politician like Sharad Powar won’t be in a hurry to take a decision on joining NDA though he being a power hungry politician is not in doubt any more. So, the fifth reason why Modi may not want an early election – just to have a lengthier time to gamble and possibly arm-twist Sharad Powar to come by his side. He would want to do it swiftly without making it too obvious. And such political manoeuvres take time and I don’t know why Modi won’t give the required time when he has it with him. 

There you go another 25 seats to the tally.

So, 80 seats added to the deficit which makes it even surplus; a surplus by good 12-15 seats.

Now coming to the point of unemployment and other concerns around which my friend built his debate – to counter these every government in power, not just BJP and Modi, have a powerful tool in their hands. And that is called relief in direct taxation. All these concerns on employment and other related anomalies deal with the vast middle class of the country. And even the staunch supporter of Modi and BJP would admit that they have done little or nothing for the middle class. All the more reason why we can expect pleasant surprises in 2018. Knowing Modi, he won’t let go this huge vote bank of his unattended. As is, nothing impresses the middle class more than the relief in direct taxation. GST is through which has fixed the indirect taxation to some extent and people would realize the benefits in the long run as argued by many pro-government economists. What Modi can do in next budget is to give huge tax relief to the struggling middle class and I am sure, much of these media created worries would be forgotten by those who matter. We may argue on this in whichever way we want but this is basic politics. Address the most burning concern at the last and be a hero till they queue in front to cast their votes. Hence the 2018-19 budget would be vital and no one better than Modi who understands it. I can foresee good measures to make the middle class feel happy, at least to the tune that they don’t forget it till they vote next.

In nutshell, I predict another massive win for BJP in 2019, of course without any prepone in the election schedule. In 2014, much before the elections, I predicted majority for BJP on their own and I was bang on the target to the last number of seats the party won. So sticking my neck out again, below is what one can expect, come the counting day in 2019.

BJP – 294
NDA – 351
Congress – Does it really matter?  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

India At 70 - No One's Children

Team Being Cynical
60 innocent kids lost their lives in a shoddy Gorakhpur medical college. Surprising, no one seems to care two hoots for it though in all likelihood the disaster was well within avoidable range. What an achievement on the eve of our 71st independence day. So much noise for the ‘Vibrant India’ sloganeering that can’t even protect its children from such catastrophes. Which vibrant India are we touting about one wonders when we as a nation have failed our next generation yet again. Where are the claimants for the so called 'Super Power' tag when we are still struggling in dealing with the basic parameters of governance and public healthcare? Shame on us. Much less being ashamed of the notorious feat that we somehow have managed to achieve over decades long callousness, we now have agents of supremacists clan that are busy shaking their responsibilities one way the other. While the talking point should have been the kids that had to die for no apparent reason, we rather are busy blaming one another in a desperate attempt to come out clean. Where is the accountability? From Sidharthnath Singh to the opposition, with our media tucked somewhere in-between, it is all about blame-game. It is five days since the tragedy happened and I am yet to see a constructive comment coming from either of the quarters. If anything, the whole Gorakhpur saga depicts a sordid picture and throws much light into the reasons why we are so bad at managing the basics. But are human lives in India so cheap?

Beyond the blame game there is a sorry tale that leads to the death of sixty children. It is nothing new that befall on the Gorakhpur region. It is almost a regular phenomenon with that region. From the day it was first detected in 1978, for at least four decades, the region of Gorakhpur; Deoria, Maharajganj and Kushinagar included, are at the receiving end of this deadly epidemic called Japanese Encephalitis (JE). Casualties out of this disease are quite staggering too. Every year hundreds of children die due to this one alone. But no successive state governments seem to have invested their time, money or political will to tackle this menace. A figurative number since 2012 would suggest how this repetitive killer cycle never could manage to sneak into the priority list of any state government. Had it been otherwise we would have seen improvement in numbers which is not the case. Beyond their lip service none seems too interested in acting proactively to counter this death cycle. Now one wonders what the central government was doing all this while. In 2005 the central government launched a vaccination scheme for JE. How far it got implemented across, more so in UP, still remains a big question to be answered. As early as 2013 a medical survey exposed that as many as 56% children of the Gorakhpur region never could get the desired vaccination. In a press conference the then CM Akhilesh Yadav was quick enough to lay the blame on the previous BSP government for the failure. What he as the CM did to fix the mess that the BSP government created? Well, we never could here that. Public healthcare system went down the drain during BSP government was a fact which no one can deny. How abysmal it was gets amply described by the murder of three successive state’s chief medical officers in broad daylight during BSP rule. Nothing yet has come out of the investigations of those murders but one could easily guess, the murders could be and in all probability are an attempt to cover up the awful public healthcare of the state.

Moving on to the present; nothing much seems to have changed. The latest death due to JE has two folds to it. First one that exposes the mismanagement of the whole medical system that yet again raised its ugly head.  The second one is the Oxygen supply that was cut by the supplier because of non-payment of dues. Both need a debate at every possible level and the responsible individuals and/or organizations must be punished. Mere blame games and complete disinterest in shouldering the responsibilities won’t help in finding the truth.

While browsing through the internet on this topic I chanced upon an interesting fact. This is where the whole problem starts with our effective JE management. I am sure many may not be aware of it. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) is an umbrella term for all symptoms which cause inflammatory brain diseases. JE is a variant of the same. They could be caused by bacteria, fungi or virus of different strains which are difficult to identify individually. As a result, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2006, coined the term AES to signify a group of diseases which seem similar to one another but are difficult to differentiate in the chaotic environment of an outbreak. In India the chaos only gets quadrupled for various reasons, primary being incompetency and callousness. Here in India we only have an effective mechanism to diagnose JE virus. Since the cause of other diseases with similar symptoms couldn’t be established and ascertained they are conveniently relegated to AES category. This is as vague as it can get. Roughly 80% of the patients that get admitted couldn’t be diagnosed properly. That is quite a staggering number. And these are the confessions of Ms. Mahima Mittal, the head of the Paediatrics department, BRD hospital and medical college. This also explains how the AES numbers is significantly higher than the JE numbers if one looks at last five years statistics. This also explains why the JE numbers have dropped a little after the vaccination drive while the AES number is on the rise. It is on the rise because it has become a catch-all bracket for any disease whose cause couldn’t be diagnosed. 

Here starts the incompetency. Incompetency is a milder explanation and I am using the word only in want of a better option. All this while the government was only interested in managing JE while gave no effort in better diagnosis of other AES related diseases. An effective diagnosis would lead to better prediction and treatment and you need not be a rocket scientist to realize this. A common mistake of wrong/absent diagnosis results in confusing between Encephalitis and Encephalopathy, as admitted by a resident doctor of the medical college himself. In his own words he admitted to have carried out treatment on the basis of plain guess work that is bound to backfire more-often-than-not. While Encephalitis affects the neural system Encephalopathy has completely different effect. Wrong treatment leads to adverse results in both the cases. And imagine, we subject hundreds and thousands of our children at the mercy of a doctor’s judgment skill. Luck favours, you survive; it doesn’t, you die. Nothing can be more horrendous than this. When the same epidemic broke out in Malkangiri of Odisha, many kids died even before the doctors could diagnose the root cause. This is how we are failing our children for decades together. Later on it became clear that a proper diagnosis could have saved many lives in Malkanagiri. Now who stands accountable for this? Who should have made sure that the least the kids should be subjected to is the correct diagnosis of the disease that they are suffering from?

Now comes the vital question which everyone today wants to ask – what was Yogi Adityanath and his four month old government doing? How I wish we had shown similar agility in questioning the previous governments. Anyway, let’s see what Yogi was up to other than his ‘Romeo squad’ and ‘Beef Ban’, both after he became the CM and when he was the MP from the same region. In May 2017 Yogi launched a mega state wide JE vaccination drive. Plan was to cover as many as 88 Lakh kids in about six months’ time. Our overzealous media may had their priorities on the ‘Romeo Squad’ but the first decision Yogi took after assuming office is the pending and much needed JE vaccination drive. Not only that, the state launched a toll-free helpdesk number for any kind of help regarding JE. The medical machinery on this could be reached at 1800-180-5544. Just to check I tried this number myself and got a prompt response on the critical symptoms of the disease. This is not the only instance that Yogi has acted on JE. Since 1998, he was very vocal about JE and the prevailing situation in Gorakhpur. A simple Google search would give you many videos where Yogi is seen vociferously asking the government, both the state and center, to address this repetitive disaster. He was persistent with this issue both inside and outside the parliament. Not to forget, it his efforts that brought the AIIMS to his constituency.

Let’s see now see what were the governments that preceded Yogi were busy at. While addressing a public gathering in 2008 Ms. Mayawati in fact accused Yogi of only picturing the dark side of the state in the parliament for personal gain. The same sentiments were repeated by Akhilesh Yadav in another rally during 2013. Seriously? Does shying away really fixes the problem? Why can’t these two leaders see the reality rather? The powers that be who mattered the most thought addressing the plight of innocent kids is picturing the state in bad light. This is how the real cause gets lost in the political slugfest while innocent suffer their way to the grave. Had the preceding governments took it in a responsible way, rather being jittery for no reason, we may have avoided the loss of 60 kids today. Not that there were no deaths due to JE during Akhilesh and Mayawati period. The situation was even grimmer. In a traditional nonchalant 'Samajwadi Party' way Mr. Siva Kant Ojha, the then health minister in Akhilesh Yadav government, termed the death of 640 children almost a non-issue. He blamed the mosquitoes and the dirty surroundings of Gorakhpur as the main culprit and evaded the real issue. “Yogi ji ko agar itni fikar hai to who khud kuch kyun nehin karte” were the precise words of Mr. Jha while having a giggling Azam Khan by his side. This is how serious we are for a real and present danger that visits us every year without fail. And these are our leaders who are under oath to protect the interest of the citizens and ensure their safety in every way possible. And for those who ask what Yogi was doing as a MP; out of his 15 crore MP fund, he used to invest 10 crores on JE in an average. The government of India MP Website of Yogi would lay out the number as well as the segments that Yogi has utilized his MP fund. By the way, it is the Congress government that had once awarded Yogi for managing his fund the best possible way. If you are not in a tearing hurry, do spare some time in watching the video where Yogi was addressing the need of effective JE management in the state and the region.





Knowing our ever callous politicians I don’t want to expect much more than evading tactic from them. That is a given and I am sure they aren’t going to change after the Gorakhpur tragedy either. They will still remain evasive and it is quite evident from the reaction coming from various quarters. What was our media doing all this while? I blame them equally if not more for the mess. Being the fourth estate they were found wanting in their duties. I blame myself and many bloggers like me as well. This is what happens when you wake up for headlines while snore around like a lousy moron at other instances. I had many posts on varied topics but can’t find a single one that questions our abysmal healthcare situation and central spending on it. I never did because I too probably was hunting around for headlines. That is as flabbergasting as it gets. Though we are even below Bangladesh on our public healthcare spending we tend to give it a miss. No one bothers much for this vital angle of governance. We spend a precarious 5% of our GDP while most countries spend double of that. We are languishing at the 145th spot among 195 countries in healthcare access but we love to look the other way. Worst even, we try to drive political brownie points from the tragedy as these two notorious gentlemen are habitual of. A tragedy on the nation makes them happy since that helps them take out their daggers against their political opponents. This is not only deplorable but inhuman as well. Who on earth would not even spare small children from their political espionage? One has to be highly insensitive to do a Shekhar Gupta or a Sadanand Dhume.

For Sidharthnath Singh – sir, learn from your grandfather if you are not dead drunk with power and politics already. The person who resigned because of a train accident is having a grandson who not only is incompetent at his job but also insensitive towards small kids and their tragic death. The poor soul, our beloved Lalbahadur Shastri Ji would be turning in his grave looking at what we as a nation has ended up at in general and his grandson in particular. If not anything, Mr. Singh should be shacked for the insensitivities he showed on various TV debates after the tragedy. Shame on you sir; you deserve nothing, not even our ire. 

As of the Oxygen cylinders and the emergence of a late night hero/villain in all of this goes; well, it is totally inconsequential for me. You don't pay someone for two years and then blame him for not providing the required service on humanitarian grounds is a rotten socialist philosophy that I am not going to buy. Hound the scoundrels who sat over the payment than hounding the poor oxygen supplier. He wasn't doing it for charity. He too has payments to make upward and pay his employees.

Dr. Khan being held has a hero and a villain, all within three hours, by two different sects is hilarious, more so when one looks at the tragedy. Let the time be the judge on Dr. Khan's act. 

P.S – The title picture of this post was the picture that was first shared by Hemanta Biswasharma on Twitter. The flood may have submerged the state of Assam but it has hardly dampen the spirit. In respect of this very spirit alone I am planning to post a series of blogs on ‘India At 70’ and talk about stuffs that we as a nation are better off without.


Wish you all a happy independence week.   

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Is Anyone In The Congress Party Listening?

Team Being Cynical
In a candid interview to PTI Jairam Ramesh quite poignantly stated something that no one in the Congress party wants to hear. “Congress is facing an existential crisis” he said. The sultanate has gone, but we behave as if we are sultans still, he added. Kudos to JR for being honest and amative to the ground realities than fanning that ‘all is well’ jamboree. It is a step in the right direction if at all the party harbours any realistic idea of revival in our political discourse. But is anyone really listening to Mr. Ramesh at all? I doubt though and I have my reasons to believe so. Though this is very brave coming from a Congressman, there is nothing new to what Jairam Ramesh said. Not only that, this very un-congress like adventure appears futile too. The fact finding committee headed by AK Antony after the 2014 general election debacle said as much; albeit in a different tone and tenor. Did anything change after that? None of the recommendations that were suggested in that report seems to have been implemented. For someone not belonging to the party or the ecosystem therein, I see no difference in the Congress party of 2014 and the Congress party of today. It is still the same barring few ‘young turks’ now taking a little more responsibilities at odd instances.

Honestly it gives an impression as if Congress as a party is too rigid for changes, even if they are for the betterment of the party. Whether it is because of the culture of the party that is too deep-rooted to be shaken up or the people who matters are simply too lethargic and hypocritical to see the writing on the walls is still debatable and the jury is already out on this.

A larger view of the said political outfit post its inception, which is the Indira Congress [Congress(I)], not the original Congress, throws interesting observations. Affording no exception it has one fascinating thing in common in every era – somehow individuals were always kept above the party interest. And most of the time those individuals belong to just one family or at best to many such families spread across the party. For long the internal affairs of the party has gone so individualistic that it at times even look enigmatic that the outfit could survive so long without going into a self-destruction mode. But has that miracle exhausted its longevity finally? Perhaps yes and looking at the manner the party is pugnaciously reluctant to carry out the necessary changes to remain relevant, it only safe to conclude that the party looks at the bottom of the political barrel in short term and complete oblivion in the long run. But has the leadership of the party really gone so bankrupt with its foresight?

Frankly, there is no dearth of foresight in the party but then, we are discussing the Congress party and it always was what it is today – "the Congress party". For reasons best known to the leadership team, they are extremely repugnant to the idea of grooming and encouraging good leaders. Grooming good leaders among them to lead tomorrow or cover all the spectrum of the present day political demands isn’t that a popular sentiment within the party and its leadership. Since the time of Lalbahadur Shastri, the leadership ladder remained pretty much pre-occupied. It in fact is kind of reserved for people coming out from one single family, irrespective of their skills, qualities and competence level or the lack of all three. There is a pre-defined shoe in the Congress constitution it seems. Any leader growing bigger than that is systematically side-lined at best and culled at the worst. The system never lets any leader to flourish beyond a certain limit. The latest victim of this systematic culling is the ex-Delhi CM Ms. Shiela Dixit. The negative campaign for Ms. Dixit that went around within her own during Delhi election can’t be attributed to the rebel souls alone. It was more like a methodical and planned sabotage by the party itself. But then, this is what Congress was since the time of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Somehow Mrs. Gandhi thrived on the principle of keeping every damn power thread in her own hands. She was a great believer in having a bunch of yes-men around her. She routinely handpicked best of human resources within the party and deployed them as part of her inner circle to nod alongside her for every good as well as every bad.

This inner circle enjoyed best of power and everything else with an unsaid promise that they never would aim for the throne. The culture of sycophancy that one can safely associate with the Congress party germinated right there. Those who were not part of this inner circle were routinely deprived from being part of the Congress’s growth story. Either they were never heard upon or out rightly shunted out. This is precisely why one can hardly remember anyone other than Indira Gandhi from that Congress era. This left no genuine leadership at the state level to carry forward the Congress legacy at the grassroots. This resulted in a big void at the state level with no one to fill in. One of the primary reasons why the concept of ‘regional outfits’ took shape. If one would mark, most of the current day leaders of these regional parties were erstwhile Congressmen. They left the party in disgust and formed their own. Now today when it is needed the most, Congress finds no one at the state level that they can count upon. Who is to be blamed here? The culture of yes-men that Mrs. Gandhi started was natured with great care and continued till the present day. If it was Durga Prasad Dhar for Mrs. Indira Gandhi it is Ahemad Patel for Sonia Gandhi today. Only the names have changed while the culture and the genetic equation remained the same for the party. In one sentence, Congress as a party has negligible or even zero evolution.

Being privy to the fact, I can vouch for one thing. If nothing, Congress at least should learn the way BJP managed itself after the 2004 surprising election loss. After 2004 it appeared like a dead-end for BJP. With its core leadership in Atalbihari Vajpyee, Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others at their fag end of political career it was even double gloomy. At that time the RSS laid out a five pointer plan for revival and they set a timeframe of ten years to achieve that. The very first point in the charter was to nurture state level leadership with a promise and commitment that the road to the top is always open for the deserving, with or without any surname. Narendra Modi, Shivraj Singh, Dr. Raman Singh and BS Yeddurappa were listed as the first line of leaders with a clear-cut elevation plan. Poor Pramod Mahajan was in the list too but his untimely demise left a void. All these leaders, though they were early in their respective political careers, given ample space and opportunity to express themselves. For a better part of that ten year plan, BJP as a party was advised to get rid of the typical ‘high-command’ culture that other parties were having. It was in fact another point in the five-point charter. All had a say in the national polity and all got their due exposer. Now we can see what that effort has led to at the end of the day. Each one of them, barring may be Yeddurappa, are pan-India leaders on their own merit. It is bringing brilliant political dividends too. A simple majority to BJP on its own was as much impossible without a clean sweep in Madhya Pradesh as without a certain Narendra Modi in Gujarat. All these grassroots leaders complemented each-other and still doing. And the party is far from over from its plan. The second level of leaders in Adityanath, Smriti Irani, Manohar Parikar and Arun Jaitley are already being pushed into prominence. Where is Congress with in between all this and where are their strategies as a political counter offense? Unfortunately I see none.

Forget about any counter offensive, Congress in fact has landed itself in complete disarray in the same time frame. No thoughts, no road map and certainly no revival policy, knowing very well that they are on a downhill slope for quite some time. They still are running around that single family as they used to do forty years back. Rahul Gandhi as their virtual head makes no sense in whichever way you look at it but yet the entire machinery is blind enough to realize that. It is not that there is a drought with good leaders in the party. In one of my posts after 2014 elections I was very critical of the manner in which Sachin Pilot and Milind Deora lost their respective constituencies. In fact I was displeased with their losses. But what these two leaders were reduced to today? I can hardly remember these two ever been active in the Congress decision making. It is Rahul Gandhi all over the place. Even today one would struggle to put his/her fingers on any leader of prominence other than Rahul Gandhi from the Congress block. Sticking true to her grandmother’s ideologies, RG too had built a cosy yes-men circle around him. All the promising leaders were clipped off their true potential and rendered sycophantic to serve just one person while the party requires their service somewhere else. Those who don’t belong to this circle are discarded like lose changes. Hemanta Biswa Sharma is a classic example how Congress treats those who aren’t part of this yes-men brigade. The man in question could have won them Assam again. We saw that on the state's counting day. But whom the so called high-command preferred over this potential winner? Yes, another seasoned yes-man in Tarun Gagoi, who in all probability would never add any value to the party in future; not that he ever added any value in the past. This is how individualistic the party becomes during crunch decision making times. It reflects the characteristics of the party. Party interest gives a surprising miss in the scheme of things and it always does. Overburdening themselves with such unimaginable incompetency has led to a situation where there are no credible names in the party that can win them elections. To even get a simple majority in the lower house you would require 272 seats and I am sure Rahul Gandhi along with the entire syndicate would struggle to put their fingers on 272 names from the party ranks that would win their respective seats. As a whole the Congress party has reduced itself to a family affair. It is all about one family or the other and it is no surprise that you only can win as many as 44 seats together.

Non-promoting people to position of authority and decision making are just part of the problem. An authoritarian and ‘me’ centric Indira Gandhi could survive because she was a great leader by all means, which unfortunately is not the case with Rahul Gandhi. All the more reason why Congress finds itself at the middle of nowhere today. Indira Gandhi was a great motivator too. In contrast Rahul Gandhi is a reluctant leader and even a more reluctant manager. How big a motivator he is , is best left unsaid. He always gives that impression of a ‘party animal’ that was forced to complete his Chartered Accountant’s course. As William Dalrymple put it - tongue-tied and dimwit. For every critical situation that the party finds itself in, the leader in Rahul Gandhi scavenges for excuses to evade the situation. Worst even, if no excuses comes handy, he flies out of India for vacation. He has done it time-and-again, yesterday being the latest example of his evading leadership qualities. Prestige was at stake and the entire party machinery was doing the fire-fighting while the leader in Rahul Gandhi never even found it reasonable to attend the working committee meeting on the same. For the entire evening he was nowhere to be seen. I can’t even imagine myself going to Goa on a vacation when one of my projects is in a critical stage and my entire team is slogging on it to resurrect. And here is a person who is projected as the PM candidate of the grand old party.

Other than building a pool of leaders for every stage, Congress must also introspect on their political narratives as well. Which worked during 70s and 80s may not work today. This is called evolution and I am surprised that a seasoned party like Congress has totally given this aspect a miss. For every problem ‘communalism vs secularism’ can’t be the answer. In Rahul Gandhi’s world every answer may start with women empowerment and secularism but that is not what the voters expect from their government. What people want is a roadmap while all that Congress at present can offer is a family. I agree, even the family and its constituents were of interest for the voters in the past but no more. The political narrative of Congress must contain the citizens which they are far from doing. In the name of the citizens and their welfare, the only thing that is coming out of Congress party is ‘Gareebi Hatao’. I agree, ‘Gareebi Hatao’ worked like a charm for Indira Gandhi but it won’t work today. The expectations have changed over the years. The ‘secularism’ narrative has outlived its life cycle too. It was flogged so viciously in last 10 years that there is no life left in it anymore. To the utter despair of the Congress party, the political aces aren’t now limited to just binaries that add no substance to people’s expectations. It has to be whole. You may call it ‘Joomla’ in an attempt at self-gratification but that is what actually is winning elections for the other party. People used to vote looking at the name in earlier days but the outlook of the voters have gone through a sea of changes since then. The political parties must change accordingly. It is perform or perish now and it is only strange that Congress seems to have decided on the later.

Hope, for a change, wise words of Jayram Ramesh is taken seriously by the party. I would be thoroughly disappointed if this man is hanged like the earlier ones for whispering the truth in the ears of the Congress leadership. Yesterday's win of Ahemad Patel in Gujarat Rajya Sabha must not let the yes-men drive Rahul Gandhi to the disillusion that the recipe for the revival is arrived at finally. It ain't. After having 57 MLAs of their own the party scratched every possible bottom to get even 44 seats that were required. This is not a matter of joy but a matter of huge concern. 

By the way; did Jayram Ramesh just whispered in the ears or showed a big and spotless mirror to the Congress party? Perhaps time ahead will answer this one.    

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