Friday, May 22, 2009


A new government under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh just took oath of office, thus ending the election process in India! Democracy has again won, and kudos for that!

This is the first time I have penned my thoughts so extensively on so many topics. Many of these thoughts were formed after I could get some first hand exposure into the campaigning, planning, documentation, ideas etc. I have been a very keen follower of politics from 1990 onwards, and this is the first time I was involved in such a manner. Some of the thoughts are new to me itself, and they have been gained through some really enlightening practical exposure to the real world. In this election, I have actually realised how difficult it is to win as an MLA/MP! I have also realised how you should always be on your toes while in politics, and how important it is to be constantly reading the public pulse and adapting accordingly.

Also this is the first time that my thoughts have been open to a wide public audience. I did not keep a "click counter" on this blog on purpose ( because I felt the focus will shift towards that :P ), but the number of profile clicks after starting this blog was a little overwhelming! To get criticism and compliments in almost equal measure on many of the articles ;-) was also very new to me, but I guess this was to be expected given that we are opening up our thoughts to a varied set of audience. I never knew how a writer would feel when he reads comments from people he did not know, but after reading them on this blog; it did feel good that these blogs did inspire other people to pour in their thoughts too.

In the process, I also read many other blogs and realised that there is indeed a lot of hidden talent in our country. Some of the thoughts and ideas expressed in some blogs were really enlightening, and all of them came from normal citizens like you and me. Blogs and chats have also exposed me to directly interact with some of the well known thinkers and journalists of our time :-). I guess technology is helping bridging the gap ;-)

There is seldom any dull moment in Indian politics, and I think the journey from now on will also be as interesting as ever before. While we will surely keep a track on all the happenings, I think it is also time we get back to some fun and food on my original Blog

It will sound cliché, but it has really been a pleasure writing these articles, reading your comments, and discussing them with you. Thank you for participating in this small "project" of mine :-) . For now, from me, it's adios! Or in the true Indian style, tata!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not emotional but thoughtful...

Even the worst critic of Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) gave them 30-35 seats in this election to the Andhra Pradesh (AP) Assembly, and the party belied his expectations too! With a vote share of 15%, 18 seats, second place in 38 seats, and poor to abysmal performance in the remaining 242 seats, the party got its rudest awakening calls.

Lot of analysts are blaming the lack of structure and infrastructure, escessive reliance on the image rather than the message, losing the confidence of fans while sitting in AC rooms :P, and more importantly the haphazard way in which the tickets were distributed. People are quick to point out to Aravind, Mitra etc for the failures. I am actually perplexed as to why people are missing the main reason for this defeat – Chiranjeevi himself. His arrogant attitude, his careless preparation, and his over confidence are the primary reason why so many of them had to suffer today. He is the ONLY person who is responsible for this chaos. Only when he gets clarity in his mind as to what he wishes to do, will there be any hope of improvement.

PRP did eat into the vote share of the Telugu Desam (TDP) more than anything else. Chandrababu Naidu and TDP spared no attempt to come back to power (read more about it here). The alliance with TRS failed to the maximum possible extent. But what caused the maximum damage is the fact the people still found it difficult to trust him. YSR’s “you did it, so big deal if I do it” kind of campaign further cemented people’s opinion on Naidu. His free for all schemes clearly did not show the desired effect.

The interesting fact this time is that he lost power due to a 2% difference in the vote share!! TDP alliance for 34.54% share of the vote as opposed to the 36.53% of the Congress. And though the TDP alliance got lesser votes than last time, it won more seats!! Strange indeed are electoral maths! The party still has its cadre intact, and to rise to a significant opposition party is something positive but in politics who would want to remain in opposition for such a long time! TRS and his own image are the two main reasons why he could not finish off what he started.

One thing you have to give to YSR – it was truly a one man show. The fact that 14 of his ministers lost further reinforces this fact! His firm stand on Telangana and the selection of candidates paid very rich dividends. And of course his policies too have helped in people not bringing him down this time. The number of seats is much less than what he won in 2004, and this time he has to face a strong opposition too. It will be very interesting to watch how the next 5 years go.

What is however more interesting is that the Congress won more number of parliamentary seats not in proportion to the number of assembly seats won. Vote share wise too there is a marked difference in the two patterns. Congress got a vote share of ~39% in Lok Sabha seats compared to 36% in assembly. Similarly TDP alliance got about 30% vote share compared to ~35% in the assembly. And the local candidate mattered a lot in the assembly election while the party mattered a lot in the national election. This clearly shows the voter was able to differentiate between their requirements for state and national governments.

JP won :-). This is a simple beginning and the actual task of building his party begins now. His performance in the Assembly is something that a lot of people are waiting to watch.

The most important thing to note from this election is that Telangana will take a complete backseat now. The people have once again clearly told that they are not in favour of a separate state. My address will still read as Hyderabad, AP ;-)

More than at the national level, the campaign and the 1 year period preceding it has been vitriolic in nature. It was seen as a clash of personalities and we do have a winner now. AP has seen one of the best polling percentages in the entire country. And the best part - In exercising his choice, the voter was not emotional, but thoughtful.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crystal Clear ...

The past three elections have always seen the people of the country voting categorically for an alliance. Each election was unique in its own sense, and this time too, it was in no way different. The people voted for UPA overwhelmingly, and the unique point of this election was the Congress party won 206 seats on its own! With a vote share of 28%, this sure is a huge shot in the arm for them. This was the unexpected part of this election. I think the Congress primarily won because of 4 things –

  • NREGA,
  • Farm Loan Waiver,
  • The Prime Minister’s personality,
  • BJP!

NREGA and the Farm Loan waiver benefited those who needed it most desperately now than ever. With NREGA guaranteeing employment for atleast 100 days an year, this turned out to be a boon for the large rural populace. Simultaneously, infrastructure development can also take place. I am still not sure about the nature of work given to these people, but if it is aiding in the development of infrastructure, then it sure is an advantage.

The farm loan waiver did come as a fresh lease of life to farmers who were drowned in misery. This program was much under-publicised but the actual effect of the under current it created was evident only in the results we saw.

Clearly, the Prime Minister seems to have emerged as victorious in the “weak” vs “strong” leader debate. Though I still think the office of the Prime Minister lost its traditional sheen and importance, the message was not effectively conveyed. People did not like the fact that someone like Manmohan Singh is being criticised in a language not acceptable to them. And Advani’s previous record and his flip-flop did not help either.

Another major reason for the Congress victory is the kind of campaign the BJP led. To begin with, Advani did not have the kind of image that Vajpayee possessed
(discussed in detail in my first blog ). His constant attempts to come off as a person that he is actually not, did not pay off at all. Narendra Modi did not seem to enjoy the pan-india image that the BJP hoped he would have. His popularity is restricted to Gujarat so far.

The BJP concentrated more on reaching out to its cadre and activists than compared to the average voter. Varun Gandhi’s hate speech made sure they lost lakhs of votes, and more importantly the damage done to the image of BJP is just irreparable. So much so, that the relevance of the ideology of BJP is being questioned. Though the speeches of leaders talked about development achieved in various BJP ruled states, the message did not go out on a national level, partly because the media too was keen only on reporting sensational matters.

While it is too premature to write off the BJP completely, they have an uphill task to achieve before even thinking of returning to power. For starters, they have to behave like a very responsible opposition. No more blocking of proceedings, and no more boycotting of sittings. Only when the people of the country see and know their views on various issues will they start to take them more seriously again. Next, they seriously have to start looking for their next Vajpayee and Mahajan. I am consciously not mentioning Advani here. Mahajan has the organisational abilities of Advani but does not carry his hardliner image. That is very crucial for the BJP. They need a young leader who can be projected as an icon. Only when that search ends successfully will they be able to rise back to their earlier prominence. Tough luck until then!

The Left parties have been completely left out by the people! They sure have lost their relevance this time around! The Indian voter completely voted only at the national level, and not at the state level. Many people thought that these elections are essentially a sum of 28 different elections (like last time), but clearly this time the vote was more towards the national parties.

The curtain has come down on the most vitriolic election we have ever seen. It is now time to move on for better things. Politicians have to live up to the mandate that be best summed up as
- Crystal Clear.

Friday, May 15, 2009


At the centre:

Predicting the numbers this time will be very tough given the fragmentation of national parties, but I think it will be the UPA again. Not that the UPA will perform exceptionally better than the NDA – both are going to have very close numbers. The possibility of one of the parties emerging as the single largest party and the other alliance emerging as the single largest pre-poll alliance is also ripe. Either way, given the tendency of all smaller parties belonging to different “fronts” to practice political untouchability against the BJP, they will eventually end up supporting the Congress led UPA. Or they might just abstain from the confidence vote. It will remain advantage UPA then.

However, I think this time the coalition will not be as stable as the previous two regimes. We might as well see another election well before 2014!

In Andhra Pradesh:

A hung looks a very high possibility, but I still think the Congress has a bigger edge than all the other parties. A remote possibility of PRP supporting the Congress without YSR might happen, but other than that I do not see what will stop the Congress from coming back to power in the state. The Congress will be very close to the majority of 147 seats, or even possibly cross that. PRP will eat into the votes of both Congress and TDP, causing maximum damage to TDP. TDP led alliance might end up with 100-110 seats, Congress might end up with 130-140 seats with the rest going to the PRP. Lok Satta might win 1-2 seats, and BJP too will 1-2 seats.

I kept the predictions short, because it's just one more day for the results to come out and I didn't want to reel out whatever little analysis I did in my mind :-). Kept this short because I guess no election blog is complete without predictions :-) !

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Search for the elusive visionary ...

The first thing I learnt from this election is that the apathy of the urban voter needs to done with. I mean, seriously, they need to understand the system better. They need to participate in the system better. The perception that all is ill in this country is more entrenched into the mind of the urban voter, primarily because he never has to fight for the basic needs that more than 50% of the country yearns for. And therefore it is necessary for him to understand the actual working of the system and appreciate the intricacies involved instead of forming an opinion with peripheral understanding.

Contrary to what many of them think, this country has not and will not to go to the dogs. This country can be made a much better place to live in, provided one stops to think in abstract terms. The urban voter can contribute to nation building by participating in many social activities. They can visit schools, orphanages, participate in discussions, read more newspapers and also continuously debate. Once the disgruntled voter gets a feel of how things are, and how they can be improved, we will see a huge surge in their participation. The urban voter needs to understand that civilian movements have seen lot of successes, the most recent being its active role in driving policy making in Rajasthan, and that example can be and needs to be emulated in other states.

Sadly, this disenchantment arises partly due to the coverage of this election by the English visual media too. They don’t cover the issues threadbare. They often cover only statements made by the politicians that make the viewer angry. What Sonia said about Lalu, what Lalu said about Advani, what Advani said about PM, what PM said about Nitish, what Nitish said about Modi, and what Modi said about the media dominated the news more than what these politicians were actually focusing on. Listen to their full speeches, and you will be astonished as to how the media, for most of the time, just choose to report the most irrelevant pieces from their speeches. What should have been aired was the actual issues, instead we had to constantly listen to what every other leader thought of the PM candidates in 2014!!!

One channel even had a discussion on whether the “real” issues are forgotten by political parties! Well, after listening to most speeches of the leaders, I think it is the media that needs to take the blame, and not the parties. And quite naturally, the urban voter who follows these news items gets frustrated with the system. Instead of presenting information in its entirety, the media is gladly assisting in adding fuel to the fire. The rural voter attends political meetings, and gets to listen to full speeches. His participation in the election process is something the urban voter needs to emulate.

Contrast this to the coverage given by the print media. I guess they have the advantage of time and space, but still the difference in the coverage is only seen to be known. I have followed almost all the important newspapers both in English and Telugu and am mighty impressed with the in depth coverage they gave. Of course, there were analyses that were biased, but there was always another analysis that did always give a counter!

Actually, the state media’s coverage was also much better than the national media’s. I guess this has to do with the fact that the state media has correspondents in every constituency. Though the campaign was vitriolic, all leaders also stressed on various schemes and policies, and the media did give a balanced coverage to both types of campaign.

The next thing that I learnt from this election is that though we don’t have a dearth of leaders, we do have a dearth of visionaries. We need a visionary who has the dare to convert his dreams into reality. It is really very important to have a visionary who will invest in infrastructure. We need to build more roads and improve connectivity (at a fast pace, not at a leisurely pace and then take solace by saying this is how things are done), we need visionaries who can build more hospitals and improve the health of the villages, we need visionaries to build better schools, we need them to find better teachers, we need visionaries who can connect with all kinds of people, we need visionaries who think practically and implement efficiently. We need visionaries who not only can provide employment but can also provide sustainable business opportunities to the poor. And we need visionaries who can do wonders with agriculture.

It is not worth it to sit and rue that we will never find such people. We already have some Chief Ministers in the country who have a vision for their states. What is required is that other Chief Ministers learn from them. We need visionaries to head all important ministries at the centre. We do not leaders who treat a ministerial post as a desk job.

Not just Chief Ministers and ministers, but there are 100’s of local representatives who have a visionary approach. All we have to do is go and find them, advertise their approach and make it an example for others to learn and implement. And most importantly, we need a visionary to lead the country too.

Sadly, this election did not throw up such a visionary and we still continue to search for that elusive visionary…

PS: Prannoy Roy was chatting on NDTV website while I was writing this blog, so I asked him " What do you think the media has learned from this election?". And he replied :-)

"Dr Prannoy Roy: Interesting question, Sudhir. I think the media has learnt or should have learnt not to sensationalise small events.. serious issues like hunger or unemployment do not come into focus because these are hard to sensationalise. But tiny events like shoe throwing or a bollywood candidate are blown up beyond proportion. So media needs to learn to focus on real issues during campaigning. "

Monday, May 11, 2009

Downwards ..

Very strangely, the media has been obsessed with who will the PM candidates for the 2014 elections! Interviewer after interviewer posed the same question again and again to the two politicians who might be the top contenders for the post in 2014!

Also, I have heard the full speeches of almost all the important political leaders. I even heard a couple of speeches in person, and was really surprised to see how media covered the event the next day! Most of the leaders always used to cover a full range of topics in their speeches. Some were inspiring, some had excellent content, some were full of rhetoric, some had a balance of all three, and some were funny too!

Speaking of funny, believe it or not, Deve Gowda is dreaming of becoming the Prime Minister again! Well actually, more than being funny, a passing thought of that dreaded possibility is a nightmare in itself!

Speaking of nightmare, here’s another possibility being thrown around – Mayawati as PM! Can you beat that?

Speaking of politicians from UP, Amar Singh roped in another Bollywood star this time – Sanjay Dutt! I tried to figure out how he keeps doing this, and gave up on it.

Speaking of Bollywood, it was completely obsessed with trying to get people to vote this time. And only 41% of Mumbai voted. That’s probably the least in the whole country! Well, we cannot surely fault Bollywood from trying hard though.

Speaking of trying hard, I tried my best to keep this blog short, just like Karunanidhi’s “fast unto death” :D, but I guess it is difficult to meet such standards. :P

Speaking of standards, with the election campaign finally over today, it feels as if the politicians of the country know only one direction to go – downwards :D

Sunday, May 3, 2009

At the grass root level...

The difference in the voting pattern of the urban and rural voter is not just the disenchantment with the political system, but also the failure of the urban voters to connect with their local representative – in other words, their leader.

This is primarily because the urban voter gets pretty much what he wants. He has roads, sanitation, water, electricity, transport, the capacity to buy and what not. So what else is left for him to complain? This is where the national issues crop up. Security is therefore a major concern. Economics is a concern. Governance is a concern. Corruption is a concern. And they will remain his concerns for eternity. And while discussing/addressing these concerns, politicians are often projected as the rotten lot. Therefore he does not gather the will to come and vote.

In contrast, the rural voter is more dependent on the government. He is dependent on the government for his health, for the education of his children. He is dependent on it for Minimum Support Price, better farm inputs, loans, employment, sustainable opportunities, sops, etc.

And to them, government means not just their CM, but their local representative too. Only when there is a fine balance between leader at the local level and his intentions to implement beneficial policies, will we see a stronger nation emerging. The impact a local leader creates also helps in the development of the state and the country. Through the development of their constituency, they are assisting in the development of their country. There is absolutely no need to view development also in an abstract manner. To some constituencies, employment might be a problem, to some infrastructure, to some education and to some health. In the hands of the local representative therefore lies the well being of his constituents.

A Sidhu spending 5.5 crore out of the allotted 6 crore is signs of matured leadership. If Amristar developed better, then doesn’t it also translate to a part of India developing? I’ve heard about the Vijayawada MP going out of his way to get weavers trained by NIFT, now if they develop, isn’t a part of the state also developing? A Scindia investing in power projects, a Arun Shourie investing in IIT, a Purandareswari questioning her own government in Parliament are all excellent examples of the impact local leaders can create.

I think leadership is a term often used as an abstract in India. To me, there are 545 leaders in India. Infact, if we consider the base unit is an MLA, then we have about 3,500 constituency level leaders wielding the power to create an excellent impact in the lives of the people who elected them. Winning an MP or an MLA seat is no mean job (quite frankly, I realised that only during this election!). Only leaders can accomplish that. And only visionaries can sustain that victory for a long time.

Local leaders are the bridge through which the policies reach the people. Leadership at the top needs to inspire the local leadership; needs to guide them to think in a different way; and grant them whatever is necessary to pursue their vision. 2009 – 2014 should be a period where we get to know more about the impact the political leadership at the local level is creating.

Let’s create a spirit of competition amongst the members of the 15th Lok Sabha by constantly telecasting the good work being done by the local leaders. Let not the question stop at “The other MP asked 10 questions, how many did you?”, but it should begin with “The other MP already impacted the lives of 1000 people, how about you?” Let the media take the lead in deflecting the cynicism associated with politics. Let us create better leaders, not just at the national level but also at the grass root level.

PS: The relation between the party and its candidate is a mutual one. This article does not take into account the party policies, and the role of parties in assisting the local leaders. It is a conscious effort to isolate the two, and concentrate on the persona of the field level leader, which also plays a pivotal role in the victory of the party.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The unsung heroes ...

It is no mean job to conduct elections in India. The sheer amount of machinery, officials and security concerns are baffling enough for an ordinary mind. To go a step further and control the flow of money too, is an extraordinary achievement. The Chief Electoral Officer and the DGP of AP have done this precisely this and more.

When the elections were announced, we had a DGP who was partisan to the ruling dispensation. The Election Commission transferred him, and bought in A.K.Mohanty as the DGP. In a truly filmy style, the started cracking the whip right from day one! He gave the police officers down the ring very clear instructions, and more importantly instilled a sense of duty in all the officers across the state. State wide checks were carried out so rigoursly that the police recoverd upto Rs. 40 crore from various sources!! Imagine that! One change at the helm, and the difference in the functioning was so palpable. Police officers across the state functioned without fear and favour in these crucial times. Thousands of unruly elements were arrested as a preliminary measure just the elections. The biggest achievement still remains the success of controlling the flow of money in the state.

The Chief Electoral Officer, Dr.I.V.Subba Rao was more of a silent killer! He put in extra efforts to ensure that maximum number of people got enrolled as voters. Upto the 23rd of March ( one month before the elections ), the election commission gave an option to people to enroll! And to make the task easier, dropboxes were set up in almost all post offices. He was always available to recieve complaints/representations from any political party. I mean, he gave 2 hours to even K.A.Paul before he got on his nerves !!!! Every application was treated on its merit, and the violators of model code were reprimanded accordingly too. Strict enforcement of the code has again proved the impartial way the commission functions. Electoral rolls were also scrutinsed closely. Every election, 1000's of people used to complain that their name was missing in the list. This election had only 100's complaining. The setting up of CC Cameras, the excellent planning that went into identifying the polling booths with chances of violence fully ensured that the polls were by and large peaceful.

The entire police force, and the election related staf deserve unlimited kudos for a job so well done. They are, truly, this election's unsung heroes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The C-Word ...

I just heard this on TV, and got inspired ( frustrated might be a better word to describe the feeling) to write this blog.

Kapil Sibal tells us that the government has ensured "peace and tranquility" in the country because there were no communal tensions. So, all the terrorist attacks that happened across the country over the past 4 years did not disturb "peace and tranquility" as long as they didn't incite communal hatred? So, it's alright that about 500-1000 innocent people of all religions die over a period of 4 years? And because there has been no "communal" tension, there was "peace and tranquility" in the country? Is this the veil behind which the UPA is trying to seek solace?

Why has communalism and secularism acquired such a narrow meaning in today's political environment? Does being Secular mean appeasing other religions? Does being Secular mean disliking your own faith and religion? Does being Secular mean overlooking the unruly elements in other religions? Why does a Amar Singh get away when he questions the Batla encounter purely on religious grounds? Is that secular?

All debates, discussions, and arguments somehow get centered around the topic of communalism. One party accuses the other, the other says something on its behalf, and the debate goes on and on. Leave aside discussing other issues threadbare, most of them do not even find a mention in these debates. It's like the principle opposition party has lost all its right to talk about any issue just because they are tagged with being "communal" in nature. The ruling party always takes solace in the fact that "they did it too!". How does one mistake make it acceptable to commit those mistakes again and again?

If the BJP questions about terrorism in the country, Congress reminds us about Parliament attack and Kandahar. I feel compelled to write what I think about Kandahar episode here, before moving on.

The Indian Airlines flight was hijacked from Kathmandu and the pilot was asked to fly directly to Lahore. However, the pilot landed the plane in Amritsar citing lack of fuel as the reason. The then government had 30-45 minutes at its disposal. By the time, the NSG commandos reached the airport (they were apparently struck in a traffic jam - not sure about this story) the aircraft took off from Amritsar, went to Lahore, got refueled, went to Dubai ( where some passengers were let off ) and immediately flew to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Taliban was ruling Afghanistan then. We had no diplomatic contact with them, and so the question of storming the plane did not arise. We then sent our best IB officials to negotiate with the terrorists. Their initial demands were to release about 70 terrorists. Very hard bargaining by Ajit Doval and team bought down the list to 3 people. The Indian government chose to release them, instead of risking the lives of the more than 150 passengers in the flight.

I am still not sure whether Jaswant Singh accompanying the terrorists was a good idea. Maybe he wanted to personally welcome the hostages on the plane, or maybe there was some other logic but it surely didn't matter to me. The whole episode did not look like a surrender to the terrorists to me. There was a hostage situation in Russia, and Putin ordered commandos inside. More than 100 pepole including children died in that siege. I am not sure if any government in India would ever take that kind of risk.

So when UPA chairperson says "we killed terrorists, while they released them", the statement smacks so much about escapism. The attack on Parliament during NDA rule was despicable to say the least and a huge failure of the intelligence. There is no second thought about it. And yet, we refuse to punish the person responsible for it. All terrorist attacks on the country are equally despicable and are intelligence failures of large magnitudes. Neither have we enabled robustness in our intelligence agencies, nor are we punishing the culprits after they are caught. Now, isn't this a peculiar situation? Neither are we interested in investing to prevent these attacks, nor are we interested in punishing the culprits after the attack!!

Let's move away from security for a while. Last year, some forces in the ruling dispensation tried to buy MP's in the hope to stay in power for another year. They were successful in doing that too. Some "friends" were awarded with plum posts too. Nothing mattered. What mattered was that the opposition party spoiled the sanctity of the House by displaying money inside the house. The bigger crime of bribing at the highest levels was no more an issue. The issue was whether CNN-IBN was right in carrying out a sting operation, and whether the money should have been displayed. At what point of time did we decide to skip the bigger evil, and concentrate on lesser evils?

Let's talk about the "Aam Aadmi" now. NREGA is a revolutionary scheme. There is no doubt about it. Why is that scheme not discussed in as much detail as "Communalism" is ? How to emulate the success stories, how to overcome the shortcomings ( it has done as much harm as it has done good, for example, many farmers lost their labour to this scheme, and their revenues took a beating), etc. Unless the average viewer is given information, where can he/she debate it? What about the farm loan waiver? Barely did the media talk about this for a couple of days, it got bored! How many of us know about the Forest Dwellers Act introduced by this government? It was maybe discussed for 5 minutes before the discussion moved on to Communalism!!

It is an irony that the leader of the world’s largest democracy refuses to fight elections, and that is not an election issue. We had an inept Home Minister for 4 ½ years, and that is not an election issue. The powers that be, could not find one single person to be the Finance Minister of the country, and that is not an election issue. Multiple terror attacks are not an election issue. Rising food prices despite falling inflation is not an election issue. Infrastructure for health and education is not an election issue. The NDA has been an irresponsible opposition for the past 5 years, and that is not an election issue. Many UPA constituents just abandon the Congress at the time of election. Are we to understand that the partners themselves are not confident about their leader? This is not an election issue! They then announce that they are still part of the UPA. These flip-flops are not election issues.

Well, Sab kuch chalta hai because the only thing that matters is the C-word.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bullet points...

Sometime back, I compiled a list of major issues that, I felt, should go into the manifesto of political parties. Reproducing them here:

I know this will be a long list, and I know some ( or maybe most ) of the points are wishful thinking. But surely, there is hope - for if a Nitish Kumar can successfully make development, and not caste, the major issue in Bihar; if a Modi can make development, and not religion, a major issue in Gujarat, if a Naidu could make development, and not charisma, a major issue in AP - surely India awaits many more such leaders... With that, here are my views..


  • Connectivity in the country is a key factor assisting in development
  • Roads, transport system, power, water, sanitation, trees etc. - all help in the development of the country
  • Improved Tourism will be an automatic by product of better infrastructure, bringing in more foriegn exchange and also awareness about India.
  • Should not look at it as a profit making venture, public convenience should be the only driving factor


  • The key to combat corruption
  • Need to create awareness campaigns to let people know about their rights
  • Assist in effective use of the RTI Act
  • A No-nonsense leader should make sure his attitude trickles down as much as possible


  • Employable education is important
  • Purposeful education has to be the motivation
  • It should inculcate wisdom, civic responsibility, helping nature and more importantly, positivism
  • Need to stress on the roles of teachers - a factor that is convienently overlooked
  • School buildings should have basic infrastructure - benches, boards, library, and food.


  • Encourage agricultural research projects. Increase funding for such institutions
  • Keep farmers constantly updated on key developments in this field, and also invovle them in research activities
  • Provide the right kind of subisidies, and agricultural inputs
  • Continously revisit the MSP policy
  • It is the backbone of our country, deal with it with the importance it deserves.


  • Best solution is to heavily fund for infrastructure in government hospitals.
  • Improve facilities in them, and automatically their acceptability will increase
  • Mobile clinics, and mobile awareness vans to create awareness on cleanliness of our surroundings, and the importance of hygiene


  • This is another form of purposeful education
  • Provide infrastructure facilities, like stadiums and playgrounds at affordable rates
  • Encourage kids to take up sports
  • Remove the apprehensions that sports is too much of a Bureaucratic affair.


  • Create opportunities for backward people to grow.
  • Encourage small scale industries on a very large scale
  • Enable their long established livelihoods (fishing, weaving, sculpting etc) with modern equipment
  • Enable PSU's with more skill
  • Let them not remain backward, instead show them the way forward


  • Human Resources are under utilized in our country
  • Development through youth - involve them in developmental works
  • Development through women - involve them in decision making
  • Development of children - prepare them for better contributions to nation building


  • Laziness is pretty rampant
  • Leader needs to inculcate a new spirit of working and win the confidence of employees
  • Make them happy and appeal to their sense of responsibility, and then efficient administration will automaticall follow. The best example is what the DGP of AP has done ( will talk about this in the next blog)


  • Strengthen our intelligence organisations, and relieve them of the stagnancy they have been affected with.
  • Radical changes are the need of the hour - show the strength to do it


  • Enormous potential opportunities
  • Tap the resources for rural development
  • Creation of wealth is huge here, enable distribution of wealth too.


  • Lot of people in our country suffer from lack of awareness, so it is important that we encourage people to be armed with information
  • Information can be related to anything and everything - from agriculture to infrastructure, from health to sports, and from corruption to awards - people need to be kept in the know

I could have elaborated more on each topic, but then it will be too long. Hence, restricted myself to just Bullet Points :-)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Something to remember!

I got this brilliant idea in the morning. Why not be the first person to cast vote today? Thrilled at that prospect, I reached the polling station at 6:52am. And there I see that 12 people are already standing in the line :(

And then when I enter the booth, the polling agent asks me for the "slip". I am like... ahem..I don't know what you are talking about! He was like, they will give you a slip on which there will be a serial number. It is easier to search your name if I have that serial number. I am like...ahem.. the card has a serial number right ? He's like, that's too big, there is another serial number that is easier to find... you need to go outside and ask some of the agents sitting a little away from the booth !! I could sense the impatience of people behind me, so I came out and went to some agents sitting outside ( well, 100m away, right outside my apartments!).

These guys belong to political parties.. they help with idetifying if your name is in the electoral rolls. Since they belong to political parties, there will be atleast 3 benches with 3 people manning them. So now, I approach one bench. That guy looks in a couple of pages, and he's like.. your name is not there!!

I was like again ... ahem..... I checked online last week, my name was there in the list. He's like, ohh you registered last week aa, then we have to check new list. I then explained to him that I registered last year only and last week, I only checked! He insisted that my name will be there in the new list pakka! He was constantly being pepped up by his colleague... untadi anna, ekkadiki potadi peru.... ( It will be there, where will the name go!) And ofcourse he didn't find it there.

So then I tried to explain to him the logic in searching, and found that he was not very keen anymore! So, I took the book and searched, and then showed to him where my name was!! The colleague now says... "cheppa kada anna, ekkadiki potadi peru" ( I told you no, where will the name go) !!!

It was already 7:45, and I go back to the booth only to find 10 more people in the line. And finally at around 8, I was the 59th voter in that booth to have casted my vote :-). From wanting to be the first to being the 59th .... well, I don't know how to describe the feeling :D :P

While I was standing in the line, I could get to see real democracy at work. Old people, who were finding it difficult to walk turning up at the booth and dutifully casting their vote was a wonderful sight. One lady even got a small stool from her house so that she can easily climb the steps ( there was only 1, but it was a little high ), and voted. I know a couple of friends who travelled back to their native places to vote. Visuals on TV were also inspiring.

Surely, my first voting experience is something to remember :-) .

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just Do It !

What began in 1952, is what defines our country today. Not only was the first general election as resounding success, it laid the strongest possible foundation to an edifice called Democracy. It is a testimony to the farsightedness of our leaders; to the resillience of our bureaucrats; and to the strength of our citizens, that we have been able to build and sustain a democratic edifice

The circumstances then were no cakewalk. The country split into two, some 500 states just integrated into the fabric structure of our country and people were just beginning to enjoy the air of freedom. For the first time, many of the citizens were actually talking and experiencing democracy with no clue as to who, when and from where can come and create disturbances.

I think the single largest achievement of the government in the 50's was that they could peacefully conduct two general elections. To sustain the democratic framework of a big country such as ours is no mean task, and to have accomplished that with such resounding success, is something that every voter and every Indian has to feel proud about.

One look at our neighbours, and we will realize how fortunate we are. Pakistan's trysts with democracy need no new mention here. So is the case with Bangladesh. Nepal recently realized the full fruits of democracy. Maoists themselves left weapons and participated in the ballot war! Bhutan is now a fledgling democracy. China is yet to become a democracy. The less that is spoken about Afganisthan, the better!

Look around, and we will realize how fortunate we are to get the freedom to express, the freedom to choose, the freedom to debate, and the freedom to live! Every general election since the first one in 1952, again and again reinforced our committment to these freedoms. Only once were these freedoms taken away from us, and it was a general election ( 1977 ) that proved that no one can take them away from us!

Each general election was historic in its own sense, and that was primarily because the voters spoke their mind. They reminded to all and sundry that they cannot be taken for granted, and that they too realize their responsibility.

To conduct a general election is no mean task. One look at the number of people, and the machinery involved will make your mind blow! Right from the preparation of electoral rolls for over 70 crore people to manning the more than 8 lakh polling booths, right from filtering the thousands of candidates filing nominations to ensuring security at each polling booth, and right from enforcing the code of conduct to ensuring peaceful conduct, successive election commissions have done a laudable job that will put many such departments in other countries to envy.

Come April 16, April 23, April 30, May 7 and May 13, and our job is to help them in this endeavour. And it is very easy to help too. Go vote.

Or to put in Nike's terminology - Just do it !

Friday, April 10, 2009

Like never before ...

As an undercurrent, the advent of TV media has given rise to unprecedented levels of debates and discussions just about everywhere in the country - in buses, trains, autorickshaws, offices, hotels, roadside eateries, and what not. Everywhere people are now empowered with information, with visuals, with views that they find interesting to share. Not only are people discussing the issues raised in the media, they are also discussing the media!

Polarization in media might not be a new thing, but the extent to which it is polarized in AP is probably only seen to be believed. We are very much used to politicians spitting venom against each other, but in AP, newspapers do it against each other too! Almost daily. Sidestepping many main issues, both the print and electronic media have allocated much space and time to defame and degrade their opponents.

Anyways, the one thing that has been good about the media though is that we have information about every major candidate in these elections. We get to hear them on a daily basis about their views, opinions, etc. We are now getting a much deeper insight into the mind of the leader, the thinking of the candidates, and the philosophy of the party.

The fierce competition amongst the different news channels is thereby ensuring that the voter gets to know everything he needs to know about parties, leaders and contestants before he gets to vote. Sure, there is every probability that the voter might be confused with this overload of information, but I am also sure this will lead to an informed decision too.

Watching 24x7 has its own flipsides. For one thing, we get bored of the same thing being shown again and again. The danger of an issue getting diluted because of excessive repeatability is very high in 24x7. In a sense, the media maketh the leader and decideth (:D) the issue. A kurta clad, dimple smile possessing, plainly speaking youth leader is given unprecedented hype over other additionally talented, intelligent youthful leaders. In a sense, the media is assisting in rubbing upon us a leader who is clearly not ready to lead. Many such contradictions and interpretations might do more harm than good, but since TV journalism is still in its budding stages, I guess we can give them the benefit of the doubt.

So far, the advent of television media has increased the intellectual capacity of the average voter like never before, polarized them like never before, presented to them huge chunks of information like never before and has encouraged them to participate, like never before.

PS: All said and done, I still think nothing can ever beat the experience of sitting in a chair, stretching your legs and reading the newspaper early in the morning over a cup of coffee :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lightening things ...

For those of you following AP politics, I need not give a special intorduction about the person I am going to write. For those of you who don't, you need to know about this man called K.A.Paul !!! hahahahahaha, that very name is making me laugh loudly !!

He manages to plunge himself into further depths of ridicule every passing day. His statements are so funny that for anybody in depression, the best medicine is to watch Paul's statements. From about last year, his mental status has degraded to unfathomable lows.

He tells us that he didnt like the rigidity of George Bush and so made Obama the President. Yes, you read it right. He made Obama the President by suggesting the slogan CHANGE.

He is not interested in small and cheap post like that of the Chief Minister.

He has guaranteed Satyam employees that he will form a comittee with all the CEO's he knows and then will research and investigate the fraud and do justice. He told us that he gave the government of Liberia Rs. 10,000 crores. Yes, you read it right again... the government of Liberia.

Also, by the way, all world leaders follow only his advice. He has travelled all countries of the world and met leaders like Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi etc and prevented many large scale wars it seems.

Sonia Gandhi has made sure that his name is deleted from the voters list... it doesnt matter that he is actually not staying in the house... it is a conspiracy by none other than Sonia. That's it.

He opened a ridiculous website, and promised that whoever ensured that one lakh people joined the site will get an MP ticket.

He had a list of 3000 candidates ready for the elections, and guess what... YSR had the sheet stolen it seems!!!! Yes... you again read it right. YSR ( since he has lot of free time ) tooks the pains of planning a theft against K.A.Paul.

Politicians in the state are all vary about him it seems. So much that some one stole the mikes from a ground where he was supposed to address "lakhs of his supporters", and therefore he could not conduct the meeting.

Flash news!!! K.A.Paul's name has been deleted from the voter's list. He doesn't stay at the address he has provided!! Yet, he finds the spine to go to the Chief Electoral Officer and create a ruckus for two hours!! The drama ended with his arrest!

I am pretty sure he is not done yet!!! With such people around, there seems to be no worry that these elections will be deviod of any fun :D. Thanks Paul, for your serious comedy and lightening things up !

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Meaningful movement...

It is never easy to walk the talk. Especially when there is money and power involved. In one of its television advertisement, Lok Satta offered a bribe to the voters. Infact it said, Lok Satta offers a bigger bribe than money and wine for your vote – the bright future of your children.


Imagine the kind of thinking that must have gone into coming up with that slogan. Now tell me, why wouldn’t we want to choose such leaders?


Post 26/11, the urban voter has been very vocal in demanding some drastic changes in the system. Urban India is frustrated at the kind of political culture prevailing at present. The lack of etiquette, the disregard for good manners, and disrespect to the law of the land is clearly getting on to the nerve of the Indian voter.


The urban voter wanted someone who had clarity in their thought process, conviction in their ideas and commitment to their policies.  Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) and his party Lok Satta offered precisely this. It primarily wanted to usher in a new culture in politics and in governance, which is precisely what the urban voter was also demanding.


What started as a social movement in 1997 slowly transformed into a political party in 2006. JP was and is the chief propagator of the message of the party, and he did it with such clarity that slowly people began to take notice of what he is saying. Every argument of his is backed up with statistics, and is nearly very convincing. The unconventional style of the Lok Satta’s approach to politics might take a very long time to sink into the prevailing mindsets of the masses, but 2009 is surely the best time to make a beginning.


A closer look at JP’s speeches and Lok Satta’s policy documents reveal the huge amount of experience that has gone into writing and framing them. Promising decentralization of power to the village level, establishing district level cabinet committees, increasing accountability into the system, investing huge amounts in the development of infrastructure for schools and hospitals are all visionary ideas that will ensure that security of all people in the years to come. Unfortunately we all live in a world where solutions have to be instant and results have to be immediately imminent.


To integrate itself into the Indian political scenario is also a big task for Lok Satta. It cannot remain vary to the demands of the voters for long. The party needs leaders at the constituency and district level. The party needs other visible faces that are as articulate as JP is in spreading the message. In this election, Lok Satta will create a split in votes in most of the places, but is not going to win any of them. Some of the candidates are going to lose very badly too. And this is primarily because India lives in its villages and rural India is still not yearning for the kind of change urban India is.


Rural people identify the local candidate and the party in equal measure. Lok Satta does not have such identifiable leaders in these areas and that’s exactly why it cannot win any seats with a lot of rural population. Post this election, the immediate task on hand for the party is to build local leaders who can better identify with the specific problems of the area and provide unique solutions too.


To make that task easier, here’s what the urban voters should do – send a couple of representatives to the Assembly and let’s see for the next 5 years what kind of constructive role they play in the functioning of the assembly. Show Lok Satta that it need not lose heart. The disgruntled urban voter needs to allow Lok Satta to use these successful examples to better propagate their message, and thereby become part of a meaningful movement.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Click on the picture below for a better view of the collection I prepared ...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dy"nasty" politics

The myth that is Rajiv Gandhi

"When a big tree falls, the earth is bound to shake". This was Rajiv Gandhi's reaction as Prime Minister when asked why nothing is being done to control the anti-Sikh riots in 1984. A lot of fanatic people took to the streets of Delhi and mercilessly killed any Sikh they came across. Two Sikhs killed Indira Gandhi and 3000 Sikhs were killed later in these riots. And nothing was done to stop the riots.

Does the whole situation sound familiar?? Godhra right? This is exactly what happened in Godhra. Instead of Sikhs, 2000 Muslims were mercilessly killed. Narendra Modi is justifiably vilified for inaction during those days.

Now, here's my question... How is Rajiv Gandhi's inaction a lesser crime compared to Modi's?

Consider this. Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi won 445 seats in 1984 elections. The sympathy wave after Indira's death translated into so many seats. In the 1989 elections, the Congress party won 198 seats !! The fall has been massive. In the 1991 elections, Congress won 223 seats. The second phase of polling was conducted after Rajiv Gandhi was killed. And yet Congress party could not win a majority in the Parliament.

Now, the only benchmark of success in a Parliamentary democracy is the Lok Sabha elections. If a Prime Minister can oversee such a massive fall in the vote share, how can we treat him to be a successful politician or the visionary India never had?

P.V. Narasimha Rao oversaw the worst phase in Indian governance, and bought the country back to track. Why is he never ever mentioned in any of the party conclave? Why are his efforts never recognized at all by the Congress Party? They say that during P.V. Narasimha Rao's time, the PM's office was dragged into corruption charges.

Now, here's my question. What about Bofors scandal then? How is that a lesser crime compared to P.V.'s?

Rajiv Gandhi undoubtedly bought with him youthful energy. Unfortunately that was just not enough to run the country. Indira Gandhi groomed Sanjay Gandhi to be her successor, but his untimely death forced Rajiv to jump into politics. He was clearly not ready to lead India, but he had no choice either. To glorify Rajiv Gandhi to some cult status despite him suffering so many setbacks is something that beats any logic.

The bigger myth that is Rahul Gandhi

He is just a joke. Forgive me for my language, but that's what he is. A big joke. Clearly bereft of any historical understanding ( evident from "my family won bangladesh" statement), he comes across as a reluctant son trying to take over the mantle of his father. The hype around him is getting to him, and it is very clear in the way he talks.

He was made responsible for 6 elections so far, and Congress lost all of them. Why then is he still being touted as the future PM by the sycophants in the party? Why should only he be groomed, when there are so many others who are showing much more promise?

The reality of Sonia Gandhi

Her slow and steady rise in the Indian political scenario would have been a remarkable story, if she was not a member of the family. Ever since she took over the reins of the party in 1998 ( by the way, she had to resort to a coup to unseat Sitaram Kesri as the President ), Congress party has seen a lot of defeats. Anybody else in her position would have just been shown the door.

That's when 2004 happened, and she has been exalted to a demi-god status. Post 2004 too, the party received umpteen set backs, but never once did Sonia Gandhi come out and tell "I take responsibility for the defeat". The sycophants in the party are quick to absorb her of any role in any mis-calculation the party does, but are quicker to glorify her when the party wins. Any other person in that post, and they would have had to resign for the kind of defeats the party had to face.

Either way, she oversaw the 2004 victory for Congress which came as a fresh breather to the party and has also slowly increased her acceptability in the country. Her presence at the helm is what makes the party stronger, and if that is the way they want it to be, we cannot dispute that. However, my problem is that the leader is never blamed for defeats; she is only glorified for the victories.

Arrest Varun Gandhi

Just arrest him. Better yet, ban him from contesting. He seems to be very good at spreading hatred, just like his father.

I don't have a fundamental objection to family members being asked to take over the mantle. They have to be eligible though. They have to be intelligent and sensitive enough to represent people. They should have the strength to stand up and fight for issues they believe in, and grow up the ladder. And if it is for the post of the Prime Minister, then the expectation surely will change. It should not become the birth right of the person born into a political family to get into politics. That just is nasty, opening the doors for Dy"nasty" politics.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Curious Case of Chandrababu Naidu

From “vision to television” is the joke going around about Chandrababu Naidu these days! Well, we have to give it to the person who came up with this slogan, for in 3 words he/she summarized the entire 30 years of Naidu’s political career.

2008-2009 was just a year of unlimited promises that will put any socialist regime to shame too!! Practically making every section of the population dependent on the government for assistance has been his USP and there has been no stopping since. Agriculture gets everything under the sun, small scale business get everything they want and more, students get unexpected favours, women will now be exalted to a new level, elders can live a better and happier life, government employees will no longer be subjected to surprise checks, you name it, you have it ! Is he so desperate to come back to power? Yes, of course! Are people desperate to see him back in power? That is still the million dollar question!

The recently released draft manifesto and agricultural document led me to question again and again – Is this the same man who wanted people to join the government in developing their villages through Janmabhoomi? Is this the same man, who said “neeru-meeru” and invested a lot in rain water harvesting, thus ensuring a better power supply in state during drought seasons? Is the same man who said “Dare to dream, care to achieve?” Is this the same politician who presented to us Vision 2020? Is this the same man who wanted people to build self sufficiency? Is this the same man who encouraged DWCRA, making it the only successful model in the entire country? Is this the same man who gave the term administration a whole new meaning? Is this the same man who introduced Rythu Bazaars thereby removing middlemen from the scene? Is this is the same man who ushered in IT revolution in the state? Is this the same man who said “Prajala vaddaku palana (Government to the people)?

Whilst in power, he was the darling of the media. His first few years were phenomenal in themselves, with the IT revolution, Janmabhoomi, and other such innovative programs driving the government. Almost hailed as the Czar of efficient administration, his victory in 1999 reinforced the point that he is leading the state in the right direction. The astute politician that he is, he was instrumental in the making of three Prime Ministers and one President. It was all like a fairy tale for Naidu, until the axe finally fell.

In 2004, I don’t think people hated him to a huge extent. The facts say otherwise. Congress won 185 seats with 1 crore and 37 lakh votes in its kitty. TDP won 45 seats with 1 crore 34 lakh seats in its kitty!! Just 3 lakh votes separated the two parties. This goes on to prove that people did not out rightly hate him or reject him. The dynamics of different regions plunged the party to defeat.

Also, contrary to what his opponents blame him, he did not backstab NTR! What happened at that time was historical necessity. Lakshmi Parvati was clearly acting as the de facto Chief Minister, and NTR just refused to budge. The coup did not happen all of a sudden, and a lot of MLA’s gave their full fledged support to Chandrababu Naidu at that time. And again, the victory of 1999 gave him the much needed legitimacy from the people.

The thing is that he has a lot of matter in him. He is articulate, and that quality stems from the fact that he is meticulous in everything he does. His role as the deputy leader of opposition during 1989-1994 catapulted him to fame and increased NTR’s dependence on his son-in-law. His stupidity in contesting against TDP in 1983 not withstanding, he played a very key role in the party during its first term in power too. The Naidu we see today is not the same who entered politics with a vision in 1978.

Either way, he is going to be doomed, or should I say Nai“doom”ed. If he wins, then there is not way he can sustain all his promises over the next 5 years. He will have to filter out many beneficiaries and many such things to keep the schemes intact. He will find it extremely hard to sustain them, and therefore he is Nai”doom”ed in 2014. If he loses, well, needless to say, he is Nai”doom”ed in 2009 itself!

With power comes responsibility. Maybe with loss of power comes irresponsibility. What else explains the Curious Case of Chandrababu Naidu?

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Blogspot does not give an option to directly to each response... so I thought it will be a better option if I respond to comments on my previous blog here.
For reference... here is the link for comments:
And here are my responses to the responses :-)
Sudhir - Surely there is a huge gap between what Congress could have done in about 60 years and what it actually did. Anyway, your post prompted me to start writing a bigger article... will put that up soon and we can discuss further then :-)

Anonymous 1 - Your idea seems good, but I know for a fact that Chiranjeevi will not like the article I wrote nor is he willing to drastically change his style of functioning... so i guess we have to be content with expressing our opinion :D

Anonymous 2 - I am not sure how prudent it will be to equate his mindset while in film industry to while he is in politics. Blood bank and eye bank do establish that he wanted to give back in his own way to the society, but my complaint is more with the fact that he promised a lot of change and he has so far failed to live up to it.

Anonymous 3 - When Chirankeevi announced Tupakula Munnema's candidature a few months back, I was very glad that this was a pre-cursor of things to come. Alas, Chiru did not live up to that expectations. Everyone knows that even if Chiru contests from Jubilee Hills, he will lose. So giving ticket to an unknown and then boasting of giving ticket to a fresher is no sign of brave leadership.

I did mention in my blog that the only thing left where Chiru can live up to his promise is the candidate selection. I am also still hopeful that he will atleast take some bold decisions here. The reason we all liked it when Obama said "change" was that he actually followed the slogan and bought in a new style of campaigning. If Chiru lived up to the slogan, then we all would have embraced the slogan too. Taking in all and sundry from any party is surely no sign of ushering in change. And hence I detailed what he said and what he did to make my point in the blog.

Anantha Mohan - I totally agree with you that Lok Satta can work better as an organisation :-) In the given circumstances, if JP goes to the assembly it will be very interesting to watch how the ruling party will handle his questions.

Anonymous 4 - I never claimed that my blogs will be different.

Anonymous 5 - Politicians joining PRP are not an exception to the rule, but are the rule!! Obviously politics invovles compromises, but in this case all that Chiru has been doing is welcoming all and sundry into the party. If he can bring change in the leaders, then why did Pawan Kalyan and Sobha Rani resort to such indecent language? Name to me 3 new fresh faces you see on TV on behalf of PRP? We will definitely welcome and accept change, but when that is non-existent where does he want us to look at?

Anonymous 6 - No, this content is not from SAKSHI newspaper. Sakshi right now is devoting all his space to TDP :D

Anonymous 7 - Is Aruna Tara the lady he promised to make a "public representative"? I think that was meant to be a diplomatic statement... if not MLA, then atleast parishad membership! Correct me if I am wrong ....

Anonymous 8 - What does social justice have to do with Chiru not accepting his second daughter's marriage?? Are you saying that if she eloped with a man of the same caste, he would have accepted the marriage?? I think any father in his position would have gone through the same feelings and equating social justice plank to this is something I find difficult to accept

SysErr - :D we will talk about what we felt during 2004 shortly in another blog :-)

Friday, March 13, 2009


Change. An oft repeated word these days the world over. With it's resounding success recently, it gave hope around the world that with hard work, conviction and passion, anything was possible. Megastar Chiranjeevi was no different. So much that he is even using Obama’s picture equating himself with Obama!

The promise he held at the time of jumping into politics was immense. At that time, people expected the whole party to have a refreshing look and feel. We knew that a couple of family members will hold central power, but that was ok considering the fact that there will be multiple leaders born with the aim of actually transforming the society. At that time, people expected history to be made, and wanted not just to be a witness, but to be a part of it. At that time, people were ready to give him the power, give him the “one chance” he is asking for right now. The day he announced his arrival, the promise still held good. He promised a new culture, a new look, a new initiative and a bright future.

And then the defections started. Not in small measure that too. Tall leaders from other parties were randomly being accepted into the party. It became an everyday spectacle on TV to see old and torn leaders announcing that they will usher in change with Chiranjeevi.

And then the tour started. A full 1 ½ month after he announced his arrival, he began touring the state. And that’s when we fully realised the extent of his knowledge and preparation that went into the speeches. Either they lacked content or they were just insipid in nature. If both oratory and content is lacking in a speech, how good is the speech then? This surprised a lot of people again. For there was unbelievable hype before his entry into politics; that he is getting fully acquainted with all problems; that he is now ready with answers for 1200 questions; that they have all infrastructure ready etc. And we all know he can speak good in front of an audience. The first leg of the tour killed all these myths!

And then his brother, Pawan Kalyan came into the picture. One of the first things he did was to name all the Congress leaders he could see on a poster near the ground he was talking, and ridicule them to the fullest. Chiranjeevi promised us that there will be no personal attacks, because that culture is what has pushed AP politics into an abyss. That day, Chiranjeevi jumped into that Abyss too. I guess he was not contended with just jumping into the Abyss. He wanted to dig into it further.

And then his women’s wing President, Sobha Rani, came. She used language against the President of TDP’s women wing that was cheap, derogatory and inflammatory at the same time. She directly questioned the character of Roja prompting an equally disgusting response from Roja. But Roja never promised us that she will remain decent. So Chiranjeevi successfully dug further, and ushered in a much worse culture into the politics of the state.

And then the draft manifesto was released. And with it, the final promise of a new initiative died too. There were new schemes, but no new initiatives. The schemes all centered on again providing free stuff to people (we’ll talk about this topic in another blog!), and were only populist in nature. It was clear that Chiranjeevi had no clue as to how to implement these policies and more importantly how to sustain them.

Chiranjeevi can surely not become the Chief Minister now. Listen to him speak, and you will realise the same. He doesn’t have the grey matter to run a state. With the hope of a new culture and the expectation of a new generation of politics gone, the only hope he has now is to be in a position to decide who will become the CM. For that he should atleast hold the promise of ushering in fresh candidates. If he is bold enough to give fresh candidates’ atleast half the assembly tickets, he will surely be in a position to dictate who governs the state.

All along, Chiranjeevi’s speeches have transformed from rhetoric to ritualistic; from cultured to wayward; and from promise to ridicule!

Change he can, did we think? Oops !!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

So near, yet so far ...

In the mid-nineties, in one of the BJP parliamentary party meetings, Advani stood up to speak and announced that Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate. Apparently Vajpayee was surprised too, at this announcement, and asked Advani after the meeting, “mujse pooche tho hote aap”. To which Advani replied, “pooche tho aap manenge nahi”. This announcement is seen as one of the best master strokes by Advani in the party’s history.

The legend of Lal Krishna Advani is replete with many such critical decisions that were extremely crucial in the meteoric rise of the BJP from a party holding merely two seats in Parliament to ruling the country for a full 6 years. Soon after he took over the mantle of party Presidentship from Vajpayee in the mid- 80’s, he realised that the moderate image is not helping the party. In his efforts to rebuild the party, he began the transformation to a more hard core approach and that’s when Hindutva was born. The Ram Temple issue aroused many passions around the country, and most of it did transform into a lot of votes. The result – BJP won 86 seats all over the country in 1989! From 2 in 1984 to 86 in 1989, a force to counter the Congress nation wide was finally born.

Wistful of the past as he may be, the mistake Advani is making now is raking up the issue again! 2009 is no 1989. For one thing, people are tired of the same issue. It really does not matter to a lot of voters now if Ram Temple came up at Ayodhya or not. Hindutva surely isn’t arousing the same passion that can transform into votes. Supporters argue that there is nothing wrong in going back to the basics, but when they don’t hold ground anymore what is the point?

The root problem is that Advani has become a prisoner of his own convictions. When he proposed Vajpayee’s name, he entirely knew that only a moderate face can win it wider acceptability. Vajpayee did not have to change himself, or pretend to be a moderate face. He was the moderate face of the BJP. And voters trusted that fact too. Advani could see it coming. Though both he and Vajpayee had the stuff in them to become PM, he knew only Vajpayee is acceptable to a larger section. He had to change his convictions to become more acceptable, and that was not acceptable to his conscience at that point of time.

With Vajpayee gone (retired from active politics), he had no other option but to show transformation. Whether he transformed or not is a different issue, but he had to show it. The result – hailing Jinnah in 2006! It backfired. And how! He was even asked to step down as President of the party. No one in their wildest dreams even imagined that such a day would come where Advani would be forced to give up the post of President. If you watched the euphoria in the cadre when he was elected President for the 3rd time in 2005, it would have been even harder to believe. If cadre found it difficult to accept the change, imagine the common man. I also looked at it from another angle. The party did not hesitate to take action against its own icon, which is truly remarkable in nature. It’s hard to imagine such things happening in other parties (we’ll talk about this issue too in the future :D ).

When in power, it took Vajpayee a full 4 years to make him the Deputy Prime Minister. Not that he didn’t want to appoint him to the post, but it took so long to convince the allies. That was the only time he came closest to becoming the Prime Minister.

The BJP might have put up impressive performances in many states in the last couple of years. But in country wide election, it is hard to see how Advani can win a majority for the NDA. As of today, the party has neglible presence in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orrisa, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. I am mentioning only the big states now because these states were the ones that mattered when the NDA was in power. The party has bright and possibly sure shot chances in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. The North-east does not hold too much of a promise though.

The party also has some of the best election strategists, all of them relentlessy working to make Advani the PM. His website is being marketed very extensively. I am pretty much sure everyone around is missing Pramod Mahajan sorely. The story would have been totally different if he was around too. Such is the impact of this man.

L.K.Advani was the man behind one of the finest Prime Ministers India had. He came very close to becoming PM once. His other and only chance is now. Maybe, he is closer than ever before though. But I think his dream will remain unfulfilled, largely because of the acceptability factor. May 16th, 2009 will again prove that Advani’s case is an excellent example of “so near, yet so far”.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

May 16 ...

May 16th 's tryst with history is already written. What history is going to get recorded on that day, is what we all have to wait and watch.

Will Advani's long cherished dream of becoming Prime Minister turn into reality? Will Jayalalitha return back to power in Tamil Nadu, thus mainting the trend of alternatingly ruling the state? :D Will Chiranjeevi even come close to becoming the CM? What will happen to Chandrababu Naidu if he loses? These and many other questions will find their answers on May 16th !

Starting tomorrow, I will start documenting my thoughts on many such issues till the election results are declared. Let's see how much we predict is going to turn into reality :D

Stay tuned ...