Archive for November, 2010

The two things about the just concluded elections in Bihar, apart from Nitish’s victory, that I am really happy about are 1) the demolition of the Laloo charisma 2) proof that Rahul Gandhi is a DUD as a politician and a vote puller. Sorry ladies, just being “cute” and good-looking are not the criteria for becoming an astute leader. But we’ll come to No. 2 later.

The election results in Bihar have certainly been a revelation. The amazing thing was that women voters outnumbered the men. In a state like Bihar where criminals have always outnumbered the honest politicians, and women usually bear the brunt at home or on the street, the fact that they outnumbered the men, just means that they put their trust in Nitish Kumar. And I don’t think Bihar ever witnessed any such thing before.

Let’s be honest, it’s going to take Nitish or any other chief minister at least another two decades to undo the mess created by Laloo and his wife. Nitish has already said that he doesn’t have a magic wand and I think we should let him do his job. Thankfully, I think even the BJP realise that they have a good thing going with Nitish and to indulge in petty politicking would also harm their interests.

I left Bihar in 1967 and not ONCE since then have I felt like either going back or have ever liked to admit that I’m from Bihar. Please note that I do not say I’m a Bihari, because my mother was a Malayali, who lived all her adult life everywhere except South of the Vindhyas.

Since 1967, this is the first time I am not embarrassed to admit that I’m from Bihar. Every time someone said the word ‘Bihari’ I would cringe! And all this because of one man – Laloo Prasad Yadav! The man may have a fan following among the film stars and he may have his diehard followers, but as the phrase goes “it takes one to know one”. To the rest of the people, who believe in good governance and who have left Bihar for various reasons, he is just a sweet talking fraudster, who took the people of the State and the country for one hell of a ride.

I’ve heard horror stories from people who have lived all their lives there about the way the State was mismanaged by Laloo. To say that it left me shocked would be an understatement. Like this very well-known jeweller’s family who met us when we visited Patna to request my mother for admissions for their two children in schools in far away Ooty. This was to ensure that the kids would not fall prey to those who had made kidnapping an industry and were all on the payroll of powerful politicians. They (the jewellers) travelled in jeeps with gun-toting guards and had a three-tier security set-up at home. One of them told us how in his presence a very, very powerful politician spoke to one of the kidnappers and requested him to reduce the ransom amount!

That was Laloo’s Bihar and while I am not saying that every MLA in Nitish’s party is clean, I think he has probably learnt from Laloo’s style of functioning that surrounding himself with criminal elements is hardly going to help his cause. And after the kind of victory he has just achieved, he would be a fool to fraternise with the lumpen elements who were Laloo’s support staff. Nitish could have inadvertently made Laloo a hero by foisting cases against him like the animal husbandry scam. But he didn’t, and allowed Laloo to discredit himself. Also, the fact that Rabri lost from both places she contested, should have been an eye-opener for the man who thought his silver tongue was enough to bring him back into the CM’s residence.

Now coming to Rahul Gandhi and his so-called charisma — sorry ladies, he ain’t got it! The squeaky-voiced Rahul is no patch on his father or his grandmother. Travelling in Mumbai locals or with passengers in a second class compartment in UP is hardly the way to learn governance. I think Nitish hit the nail on the head when he said that Rahul should become a chief minister before trying to be prime minister.

This must be the only country in the world where prime ministers and chief ministers are anointed and not elected. It almost makes the royals in the United Kingdom seem common in front of this ‘royal’ family in India. When will the people of this country follow Bihar’s example and tell the Gandhis that this country and its assets are not their personal fiefdom?

Oh, and a small suggestion to the lady in 10, Janpath. If she really wants to win the next election, she should tell her son to crawl back under the rock he came from, and ask her daughter to take over the reins. If anyone can take the grand old party back to its glory days, when the real Mrs G was in control, it is Priyanka. She is the one who will bring in the votes, not Rahul.


Nice guys don’t make good prime ministers – Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh are good examples of this. Would the Bofors deal have dragged Rajiv down if he had been careful about what his ministers and bureaucrats were up to? And Manmohan Singh?

To me the Prime Minister, more and more, is beginning to resemble a cross between Roman Emperor Nero and the fictional character Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau. On the one hand his government is in trouble and he fiddles, while on the other just like the comic French detective, he stumbles from one controversy to another, completely oblivious to the mess he leaves behind.

Honesty and decency are not enough to run a country of one billion people when one is dealing, day in and day out, with a bunch of crooks masquerading as honest politicians. Efficiency, competence and ruthlessness are also mandatory requirements and the PM seems to be way off the mark with these attributes.

He and his government are blundering along from one disaster to another, with the latest one being the Nira Radia phone tapping scandal involving a couple of media personalities and the names of industry stalwarts being dragged in. But we don’t hear anything from the man himself, while his office tells the media that he is clean and doing the best he can!

We hear that the PM is just a rubber stamp, and that the real power lies elsewhere – which may be true to some extent, but I don’t think that’s the case when it comes to the running of ministries. Had that been so, Singh would have quit a long time back. He’s too decent a bloke to allow himself to be led around by a chain and leash by the Gandhi family. Some politicians in the chain-and-leash category spring to mind – Giani Zail Singh, DK. Borooah, V.C. Shukla, R.K. Dhawan, S.S. Ray, H.K.L. Bhagat, M.L. Fotedar and Sitaram Kesri – but Manmohan Singh?

It just seems Singh is totally ineffectual and prefers to do nothing as his ministers and his allies, use their proximity to either Sonia or their own party chiefs and run riot. Raja is a good example. He used his proximity to DMK supremo Karunanidhi to loot the ex-chequer, secure in the knowledge that he could always hide behind the Tamil patriarch’s dhoti, in case the government decided to ask him uncomfortable questions.

Drawing parallels with the Raja case, if you see a man about to steal something or in an extreme case jump in front of a running train, what would you do? Politely tell him not to, or physically stop him from doing so? Was the written nudge to Raja enough? Shouldn’t he have stopped the former telecom minister, before things got out of hand? If Singh’s office says Raja was told to revamp the bidding process, it also means Singh knew all the facts. And if that be the case, the guy is an accomplice and guilty as hell along with his former minister.

More importantly, did the PM need to wait so long before asking Raja to quit? Strangely, this has been the case in every controversy this government has been involved in. Take the case of Tharoor and his tweets, the Commonwealth Games fiasco or even the Adarsh scam. In all these cases, the PM allowed things to drift till they reached a stage where he had to step in douse the flames. And is the Prime Minister a fire fighter or worse, a hostage negotiator, that he stalls for time, till the commandos reach the place and neutralise the criminal?

Now, even the Supreme Court is asking the PM the same question that we are. Let’s wait for the answer when Attorney General GE Vahanvati represents the P in the Supreme Court and, hopefully, clears the air.

In the meantime, step aside Chief Inspector Jack Clouseau, you’ve got competition!

Was President Barack Obama’s speechwriter an Indian MP? His speech in Parliament was liked by the politicians and one can well understand why. It had references to Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, UN Security Council seat for India, 26/11 attacks, terrorism, Pakistan and even the Panchatantra! I am surprised he didn’t quote from the Vedas, Ramayan and Mahabharat! Or did he?

So just like the finance minister’s usual ‘please-all’ budget speech every year in Parliament, Obama too seemed intent on pleasing everyone. When the MPs who usually show their displeasure by either walking out or ‘rearranging’ the furniture in the House, were all praise for the speech, it could only mean one thing – that it was a truly political speech. And except for the Leftists, who anyway seem nowadays to subsist in a cocoon, everyone loved it. Were they expecting Obama to praise the Chinese?

Obama also made all the right noises. He rapped Pakistan and demanded they bring to book the culprits of 26/11. But please note, he did not tell the Pakistanis to hand over the perpetrators. He also praised the Indian Constitution which of course, made the parliamentarians very happy. Never mind, if they usually tear it to bits on most days during the proceedings and don’t care a hoot about Dr Ambedkar, except during election time.

Even the BJP, after the initial idiocy by Rajiv Pratap Rudy, fell in line. I, for one, couldn’t understand Mr. Rudy’s displeasure at Obama’s speech at a purely unofficial event at the Taj Mahal Hotel. I think Obama spoke well and recognised the bravery of those who were involved in the rescue attempts in Mumbai. Why should he politicise the event by dragging in Pakistan? And, anyway, why are we so hung up on forcing world leaders to spell out P-A-K-I-S-T-A=N every time one of them comes here. What purpose does it serve?

Every time a big-ticket leader from the West comes to India and utters the P word, the media and political class here get a virtual ‘high’. It’s almost as if Pakistan has been nuked! Then some idiotic copy editor writes the headline “US names Pakistan”. It makes one wonder whether they’re being blamed or knighted! So let’s stop behaving like five-year-olds who go crying to papa because someone ate their lollipop. And Papa admonishes the culprit gently, because after all, he is dealing with five-year-olds. Then he goes back to reading his newspaper! Let’s grow up.

Does Pakistan care? Heck does even the US care? They’re sending our neighbours billions of dollars in cash and weapons, most of which is used against us. Look how the President fumbled when a kid at Xavier’s asked him about why US was hesitant to call Pakistan a terrorist state. What a way he hummed and hawed, before giving an answer that would have made any civil servant proud. Wake up and smell the coffee. Pakistan is important in their scheme of things. By their virtual presence in the sub-continent the US is keeping China’s territorial ambitions in check. Russia is no more the power it was, and never will be. China is the only country that can challenge the US, both economically and militarily.

The other thing we keep reading about is India in the UN Security Council. The media ask very pointed questions on India’s hope for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and then ‘interpret’ the answer. Take a look this: “In the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member” followed by “The Obama administration wants to ‘send as clear a statement as possible’ that the United States sees India as a ‘rising player’ on the international stage” followed by “the US is ‘not getting into’ details about the time frame” followed by “the administration will let the key details be ‘hashed out’ by the United Nations itself.

Do any of the remarks make “as clear a statement as possible” that the US has or will support India’s bid? The Americans have very cleverly worded each statement leaving it open to conjecture and interpretation. Basically India could keep reaching for the sky, but all it will get is a fistful of cloud – and little or no help from the Americans. And that it could happen anytime between day after tomorrow and the next century – if it happens! But the Indian media has already decided that US “has backed India.” Let’s not forget that before that happens we have to cross the biggest hurdle – China. And knowing China’s love for political chicanery, our chances look pretty bleak. But that’s another story.