Archive for the ‘Politicians’ Category


I am horrified by the death of Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula who committed suicide on January 17, 2016, by hanging himself from the fan in the room of his friend at the Hyderabad University. Whatever maybe the reasons for his death, enough has been said and done about the case for me to repeat here. He left a suicide note that has saddened and shocked the very conscience of the nation. And here is where I am even more horrified – by the behaviour of our politicians. I don’t mean all politicians, at least not the ones with a conscience, anyway.

What moved those politicians so much that they almost tripped over each other to be the first to land in Hyderabad? Surely, it couldn’t have been another Dalit student who committed suicide. Nor was it the votes that they could either see slipping away or coming their way. There have been almost two dozen suicides before this one. So, Vemula, for all practical purposes, was just another statistic. So what was it? Two reasons: The first, their visceral hatred for Narendra Modi and second, the fear that if he succeeds in these five years, they might as well pack their bags, lick their wounds, and limp away into the sunset. So, naturally they have to stop him. And I have no issues with that. After all, that is one part of the job of a politician. So all the best to them.

And what better way to do that than to crawl on all fours and prostrate themselves before the students at Hyderabad University, Rohith’s friends and his family. “Hey, remember me, I was there that day in Hyderabad University?” could well be the signature tune of these people in the days to come. I read on Twitter someone describing a politician rushing off to Hyderabad as a vulture. That is too polite. I would call them something else.

Now that Rahul Gandhi is back from Hyderabad University I hope he reads The Hindu of January 19, 2016, which had this to say indirectly about his government, which was in power at the Centre and in the State of Delhi: The Thorat Committee, constituted some years ago to investigate differential treatment of SC/ST students in just one institution, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, had come out with a damning indictment of the way Dalit students were treated. Forced into ghettos in the hostel, discriminated against by teachers, denied access to sporting and cultural activities, SC/ST students in India’s premier educational institutions walk into an environment that’s virulently hostile to them. Not surprisingly, according to one estimate, in the last four years, 18 Dalit students chose to end their lives rather than continue to battle on in these dens of caste prejudice and social exclusion.

Eighteen Dalit students committed suicide in the last four years, most of it during the rule of his party, while he was busy mouthing inanities, or holidaying abroad, or disappearing somewhere without notice. It’s also been happening at AIIMs right under his government’s nose and he did nothing. Another Dalit student, Senthil, committed suicide in Salem in 2008, and Rahul G. Prasad, a final year B. Tech student at IIT-Madras committed suicide in 2015, but Rahul Gandhi and those of his ilk weren’t interested then. Wonder why. And yet, this vacuous upstart, who has raced up the political ladder by hanging onto the saree of his mummy, has the gall to talk about helping the Dalits, Muslims other deprived communities? So the UPA of Manmohan Singh quietly brushed it under the carpet and now their vice president is pretending to be the champion of the downtrodden?

But, it’s not just the politicians this blog is about. I am also thinking of the 13 Dalit teachers who were struck with a pang of conscience or guilt, or whatever, and decided to resign in support five whole days after Vemula’s death. What were they doing for those five days, weighing their options? How considerate of them. More likely, they realised that they were going to be the next target of the students and the HRD ministry for keeping silent through the current unsavoury episode. If they had reacted in time, who knows, things might have been different. I can lay a bet that six months down the line the faculty will be back at their jobs. How? Your guess is as good as mine.

But there is a larger issue. While I completely understand and agree that all those lesser fortunate must be educated, looked after till they can be self-reliant, and be made a part of this country’s mainstream, the way the Congress governments have gone about it is not the way. All that has happened is that in many cases it has become a question of give and take from both sides. And the fallout of this is every marginalised and not marginalised community has now realised that the best way to get jobs and money from the government is to dangle the carrot of votes and watch the politician running to them with freebies. It is unfortunate, but this the reason there is an anger rising against all those who call themselves ‘marginalised’ either through caste, class or economics. I am waiting to see where this ends.

The other group that has really done itself no service is the media of which I have been a part for 30 years. Whatever I leant about the profession, I did on the job and from my seniors. My seniors always taught me that a journalist should be anti-establishment and at the same time be objective. I am afraid, today the media is neither. Their reporting in recent times has been nothing short of disgraceful. I am glad I am out of it.

I hope the parents of the 18 students who have committed suicide earlier get together and file a civil action suit for a few hundred crores (much like the one filed against the Ansals in the Uphaar tragedy) against the various colleges, their faculty, and the respective state and central governments, who have stood by as mute spectators during these tragedies. It’s time someone was made to pay.

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The other day, someone asked me why I had stopped blogging, because he felt the present moment would be the right time to express one’s opinion on the numerous issues surrounding us. To be honest, I had developed an aversion to writing these last few months for quite a few reasons. One of them was the politics. I love writing about politics, but it had turned into a no-holds-barred slanging match between those who hated Narendra Modi and those who admired him. Just like the infamous Dubya quote (“you’re either with us or against us”) Indian politics had been reduced to a slugfest and anyone interested in a third option was ridiculed, insulted and hounded into silence!

Some of my pro-Modi friends thought I was a Modi fan, just because I argued that the Gujarat violence happened in 2002 (and just like the horrific events in Delhi post the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984). Secondly, since no court in the land had either held him guilty or responsible for what happened in Gujarat, I was willing to move on and give him the chance to prove whether he was as efficient as some people thought he was. And that is when my friends who make up the anti-Modi club went after me. And frankly, their reaction was pretty vicious. People who I thought were rational in their thinking had suddenly become strangers. They were spewing venom at me, and that left me extremely disturbed.  That is why except for the occasional tweet I fell silent. I have never been extreme in my reactions or views on anything except maybe Indian cricket (!), so I was even more shocked by the reactions from people I thought I knew well. It was an eye-opener.

I also noticed that whenever I tweeted anything against the Congress it was either re-tweeted or ‘favourited’ . Good for me, because it increased my followers, but it also helped me understand, to a little extent, the mind of the people,  My antipathy to the Congress party is obvious and while I am not going to get into that now, I don’t buy into the Congress argument that the development in Gujarat is just a mirage.  Maybe it isn’t as high as Modi followers claim it is, but it couldn’t be worse than Uttar Pradesh or Bihar – two states that make me feel ashamed of being Indian. I have lived in both these states and both are a grim reminder of everything wrong with governance and politics in this country.

What politicians have done in these two states is nothing short of criminal and some of these fellows should rot in a jail for their misdemeanours. Unfortunately they still flourish because they feed off the poor and illiterate voter. Look at Odisha. People are still selling their children and other family members because they don’t have enough money to buy one square meal. When people living in villages feed of rats and cockroaches instead of rice and dal there is something fundamentally wrong with governance in the country. Take Maharashtra for instance. Farmers have been dying in Vidarbha by the dozens but yet politicians like Sharad Pawar shrug it away as something of little consequence. When dams dry up and drought looms on the horizon, ministers like Ajit Pawar ask if they should pee in the dams.  Who do I blame for that?

There is a section of liberals, fundamentalists and Modi-haters who may rant on about the fact that he doesn’t deserve to be prime minister for the sins of Gujarat, but unfortunately (for them), Modi seems to be the majority’s choice and if majority opinions translate into votes then Modi it will be – whether we like it or not. In other words, we get the politician and the government we deserve.

To me, Narendra Modi is no better or worse than any other politician this country has had since 1947. There have been many others like him who have pretended that they had no hand in riots that erupted in their States.  There have been so many politicians and prime ministers who have either engineered caste and religious riots in the country or have done nothing when riots occurred, and have then shed crocodile tears for the dead. Modi is just another one of the same breed.

That is why my admiration for Arvind Kejriwal has grown. A year ago no one in his right mind would have thought that Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party would be taken seriously by the political class or the country’s media. Today he is being spoken of as a future prime minister – a bit far-fetched, I think, but what the hell – no harm in dreaming! Here have been many politicians who made a

Why has he suddenly become a political force, and more importantly, someone who is being feared by the political class? The feeling I get is they don’t really know what he’ll do next. They thought he would protest time and again and go back to governing, like they do. Instead, he spent a night on the street! They thought he would protest for his JanLokpal Bill and go back to his CM’s cabin. Instead, he put in his papers. How many chief ministers would do that? Heck, how many politicians would quit on principle on any issue in this country? When was the last time one did? Madhavrao Scindia, when he was civil aviation minister, following an air crash on December 5, 1992?

Look at what happened in the aftermath of the latest submarine disaster? The Navy chief quit, but the minister stuck to his chair like a leech, and what is worse is that the prime minister defended him. While he accepted that the Navy chief had done the right thing by resigning, he defended his minister for not resigning! But no one thought much about all that, because they were more interested in running down Kejriwal and his party.  And all these jibes and taunts from the media and rivals about his style of politicking have only given Kejriwal the publicity he so badly wanted to bring him onto the national stage.

To me, it is quite simple. Anyone who can make life miserable for the likes of Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Mulayam and the rest, gets my total support! Whatever may be the fate of Kejriwal and his fledgling party in these elections, one has to admit that he has brought in something different from the run-of-the-mill politicians we have been used to all these years. If he is showing them up for the crooks they have been all these years, good for the voter. So more power to the aam aadmi!!


The online dictionary describes ‘oxymoron’ (plural oxymora or oxymorons) as a figure of speech that “juxtaposes apparently contradictory elements (it is not however a contradiction in terms)”. Some examples are ‘dark light’, ‘living dead’, ‘little while’, ‘mad wisdom’, ‘mournful optimist’ ‘violent relaxation’ etc etc. Would ‘honest politician’ qualify as an oxymoron? But, we’ll come to that later.

The just concluded Assembly elections, more specifically the one in Delhi, have been the most exciting I have witnessed since the 1977 elections. Just like it was back then, and Jayaprakash Narayan and his rag tag bunch destroyed the Indira Congress, soon after the Emergency was lifted. I poured over reports in the Indian Express about the daredevilry of leaders like George Fernandes who always managed to escape from the clutches of the police. It was stirring stuff. Of course, in a few years the Janata Party belied the hopes of the millions who voted them to power. I am seeing the same excitement now, but let’s also hope the Aam Aadmi Party does not go the same way. It would be a tragedy for Indian politics. Are they employing the scoot and shoot method, as my friend Dr Shobha Shrivastava believes they are? Time will tell.

That brings me to the subject of numbers. Fans and supporters of the BJP seem to forget that in spite of the competent Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the work he had done in the five years he was at the helm of affairs his government was still removed from power. They must have done something wrong because in 2004, over 670 million people voted, some for them and more, against. For them India wasn’t really shining. Still it was a close fight, but in the end the Congress managed to gather up their friends and supporters and form a government. Whether the BJP couldn’t or didn’t want to will be left to history to decide. The Congress got 145 and the BJP managed 138. However, the Congress and its allies got 276 against the BJP’s 185. So, not too many ‘friends’ were willing to support the BJP even then. Wonder why…

So the question is, if the BJP thinks it is so damn good how come they only managed 32 seats in Delhi? And even if they haven’t, why don’t they form a minority government if they are so concerned about the people? I am sure both AAP, and the Congress will support them on issues that will help the people of Delhi. But since they won’t, they – the party and its self-appointed PR machinery – should shut up and let the people decide, instead of putting the blame on the AAP.  Suddenly everyone is worried about the cost of another election to the nation. Why weren’t they protesting when Sonia Gandhi’s government rammed the Food Bill down our throats or when they were busy pushing through other populist schemes?

And that brings me to the oxymoron bit…

The campaign being orchestrated to discredit and malign Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party is quite ironic. Ironic, because calling Kejriwal and AAP corrupt, amoral and immoral, is like the old adage of the black pot and the kettle! Like they never had a party functionary who was caught on camera stuffing notes into a table drawer; or being caught on camera receiving cash inducements in return for raising questions in the Parliament; or built huge business empires overnight; or were photographed in bed with multiple partners; or sired illegitimate children; or had mistresses and more than one wife hidden away somewhere and pretended they didn’t exist; had illegal relationships; or rigged the elections; or killed their wives/mistresses/girl friends and stuffed them into unusual places; or were caught allegedly snooping; or allegedly massacred thousands in the name of dead leaders, God and religion (in that order)…The list is endless.

So pipe down, people! If Arvind Kejriwal and his party are as corrupt as some people claim they are, they will meet the same fate as the other politicians have around the country. The competence of a person can only be judged after you see him or her at work. So let the AAP do that for some time and then let the voter decide. The voter is no fool, and does not need friends and well wishers going on ad nauseam about the vices of the AAP. They brought the party to power so let them realise what they have themselves in. Isn’t that what elections are all about? If voters are to be brainwashed or coerced why not just tell them to sit at home and cast a vote on their behalf, or give them voting slips of other voters? Now, please don’t tell me that never happened. I’ve personally experienced at least one of the above, in a VVIP constituency! It was a shameful exercise by the party machinery, which was terrified that their blue-eyed boy was about to be thrown out. They did the only thing they were good at – they rigged the entire election process and sent him back to the Lok Sabha.

People are tired of the same old politician telling them the same old lies, year after year. Isn’t that what happened in Delhi? Politicians are also worried about the impact the Delhi results will have on the rest of the country. The very existence of the professional politician is being threatened by a bunch of nobodies and that has to be stopped at any cost. Right now Kejriwal seems incorruptible. The dirt being thrown at him and his party is not sticking and by the time it does, they could be well on their way to becoming a national entity. The fact is, the AAP did what no other party in India’s political history managed to do. What if they try out that experiment on a national scale and some of their candidates even manage to win? Imagine, if in big  states like Delhi, Maharashtra, UP, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, MP, Gujarat and Bihar the AAP and like-minded parties put up 50-60 squeaky clean, efficient and hard working candidates against the old boys club, and they win. They could then be a pressure group in Lok Sabha that could raise a lot of uncomfortable questions. That is what is scaring the hell out of political parties today. Serves them right!!


I tweeted on Sunday that Arvind Kejriwal has proved to voters across the country that it is possible to win an election without pandering to caste and religion. To that I’ll add money and muscle power. What he has also proved is that you can be nobody but if you believe in yourself, nothing can stop you. In one short sentence, Arvind Kejriwal has rewritten the political rule book.

People like Mayawati, Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad won elections by creating this hoodoo that the existence of anyone who was not a Brahmin was under threat. This whole nonsense of social justice has been re-engineered to bring in votes and not prosperity to the Dalits. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar championed the cause of the ‘downtrodden’ but those who use his name to climb up the political ladder don’t really care about Dalits or anyone else. Kejriwal has turned that stereotyped assumption on its head. What he does from here on, will be watched closely. If he can accomplish even 20 per cent of what he promised, in the first few years, I think he would have done his job.

I am also thinking whether all those who dismissed him as some kind of Dharti Pakad, are now looking for a place to hide. For those of you who are wondering who Dharti Pakad is, it is the nickname of at least three eccentrics who contested elections unsuccessfully. There was this one particular guy, with the same nickname in the 1980s and 1990s who had contested against every prime minister since Independence. He won only a handful of votes every time, lost his deposit, but he contested. And he became the ‘side show’ of every election.

Kejriwal has proved to everyone he is no Dharti Pakad. And I, for one am delighted, firstly, because I had predicted that he would surprise a few people; secondly because he rubbed Sheila’s Dikshit’s nose to the ground and thirdly and more importantly, because he showed both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party that he wasn’t going to be cowed down by the dirt they threw at him.

And that brings me to Sheila Dikshit. I think the Delhi voter, especially women, had made up their minds to kick her out on this Election Day, exactly a year ago on that chilly morning in December, when they came out on the streets to protest against the gang-rape of the medical student. Dikshit, ever the smug politician, shrugged off responsibility by saying that the security of Delhi was the job of the Lt. Governor, and then added fuel to the fire by saying that she had two grown-up daughters and would ask them to come home early, because Delhi’s streets were not safe enough. These comments and others as the agitation picked up steam didn’t really do much for her image. It was only when Sonia Gandhi stepped out of her residence one night to meet protestors warming themselves around a bonfire on a chilly Delhi night that Dikshit decided to meet the protestors. When she did that she was jostled and roundly booed.

No amount of good work or infrastructure you usher in can take the place of a compassionate society. And when Delhiites, with the rest of the country prayed for that brave young girl who fought for her life even as she was strapped to a ventilator, Sheila Dikshit showed us that as a woman and as a chief minister she was callous and lacked compassion. She seemed more interested in scoring brownie points with her adversaries. No amount of damage control helped after that.

Information from the election coverage sent to me by a former student, who covered the polls, says that women and middle-aged voters spewed venom against Sheila Dikshit because of her complete apathy towards women’s safety. Every woman felt that despite the fact that it’s been a year since the gang-rape, nothing had changed. I am sure if and when there is a re-election in Delhi in the next six months and God forbid she decides to contest, they will come out in even greater numbers to vote against her. Dikshit never deserves to return if she cannot guarantee the safety of young women and girls in her State. And the results in Delhi should be a wake-up call for those who rule in Maharashtra, because they have been displaying the same blinkered attitude toward women’s safety.

Coming to the BJP, those people who would like us to believe that Narendra Modi did not play a role in the four states that went to the polls are only deluding themselves. The fact is that his presence helped bring in the crowds which became voters in large numbers on Election Day. I was one of those who said to a friend on Facebook that a big crowd doesn’t necessarily translate into votes, so I guess I was a little off the mark. I don’t know if there was a wave or whatever they want to call it, because things were pretty tight in two of the four states.

Had there been a ‘wave’ the BJP would have trampled over all opposition in all four states. Coming to Modi himself, while there will always be those who will continue to highlight his role in the Gujarat riots – and they have every right to do – I think a lot of people have moved on from 2001 – just like they have moved on from 1984. Modi and his cohorts will be and should be brought to justice if they can find anything against them, but the world isn’t going to stop for that. The voter has just told us that.


When Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and the hotly debated topic was who could now lead the country in his absence, Sitaram Kesri, then the faithful Gandhi family retainer, and Congress president, insisted that Sonia Gandhi should take over as prime minister. I remember watching that press conference which he addressed where he anointed her as future prime minister.

A journalist asked him “Can you tell me how qualified she is to lead the country?” Yes, in those days some journalists still asked such blunt questions. Kesri replied that Sonia was qualified to lead a nearly billion strong country because she was constantly by Rajiv’s side when he travelled around the country! The journalist shot back “Then why don’t you make his peon the prime minister, since he also travelled with Rajiv.”

Kesri first looked completely pained by the question and then in a voice choking with (obviously faked) emotion made some comment about being “shocked and saddened” by the question and then asked how Sonia could be compared with a peon. But I think all those present there, and the millions watching on telly got the message loud and clear. She simply wasn’t qualified. That is where my problem with Rahul and not so much Sonia lies.

Rahul Gandhi has been in politics ever since he was old enough to understand it. He was a kid when his father’s mangled body was brought back in a casket from Sriperumbudur. I don’t think any Indian had anything but sympathy for the boy. Our hearts went out to him. He may not have understood the political decisions of his father’s government as a child, but surely he knew them by the time he was old enough to understand politics. He became a Lok Sabha MP in 2004 and could easily have walked into the government as a junior minister in any ministry of his choice, if he wanted to. But he claimed that he wanted to serve the people “from the outside” – which to me is a lot of bullshit. Has he really succeeded in doing that in eight years?

Instead of entering the government, Rahul has sat on the periphery and done nothing, even for his own constituency. In the 2012 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, for which he, his mother and his sister campaigned extensively, the Congress won 28 seats. So much for political lineage and charisma! And the Congress lost in nine of the ten seats in the family strongholds of Amethi, Sultanpur and Rae Bareli.

So what Rahul basically has been doing now, is what in the Army is called “shoot and scoot”. Make some cracks about his own government’s policies, blast the opposition and then scurry back in his hole. Then he emerges a few days later, again makes a few bizarre claims and scurries back into his hole. And he has been doing that in abundance lately. Of course, his supporters will justify anything. If he said he could ensure that every Indian would be able to walk on water if his party was returned to power, they might justify that too!!

As for Sonia herself, the whole farce conducted about the “Italian woman as Indian PM” when she announced her plan to lead the government was orchestrated by politicians who saw the only chance they had, of taking a shot at the top post, fading. It’s funny, isn’t it, that we cheer when an African-American becomes the President of the USA, revel in the appointments of people of Indian origin who become Lords, ministers or even prime ministers in another country, or an Indian American who becomes Miss America, but get uptight when it comes to an Italian, who has lived in India since her marriage to an Indian, becoming prime minister.

In all fairness to Sonia, maybe, just maybe, if she had contested an election, been in government and then taken over as prime minister after her husband’s death, we might have come to see what the lady was really made of. Responsibility with authority might have done her a world of good, unlike now where she sits on the outside and decides government policy or conducts an occasional farce on governance that fools no one. The usual one is the rise in fuel prices where she steps in and ‘forces’ the government to reduce it. The Congress party then cobbles up a motley crowd outside her residence chanting out their support for her! I guess people have seen through that ruse because it hasn’t happened in a while.

While I do make wisecracks about the Italian mafia, I am not too bothered with her Italian origins. She is as good an Indian as the next one. All the talk of her not giving up her Italian passport because she never believed in being Indian is so much sawdust. I mean, Indians living abroad don’t give up their Indian passports do they? They very often hold dual citizenship. So what’s wrong with Sonia holding dual citizenship? And anyway, I am sure the people of this country would have decided in one term whether she was capable of running the country.

So coming back to Rahul Gandhi and his loyal band of supporters, both inside government and on the streets, what they really need is not new leader. They need a lollipop, because all they are good at is sucking up.


Arvind Kejriwal must be wondering what he has stepped into. These past few years when he took centre stage with Anna Hazare, everyone told him that if he wanted to bring about change, he couldn’t do it from the outside through his brand of activism. According to them he could only do that if he was inside and a part of the system. Most of that ‘advice’ came from politicians, who didn’t think he would dare step into the world of politics.

Instead, he took that advice seriously, and decided to be a part of that system. Now everyone and their parrot, dog and grand pappy, has been writing reams about what is wrong with Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party. Politicians from both parties have been running him down. Why? – Because, suddenly he is an unknown devil. I’ve also been reading about him and his plans. A student from a media college, where I used to teach till last year, sent me something written by some guy that was so long I could have made a curtain out of it.

I mean it was dripping sarcasm in some places and plain vitriol in others. That’s okay, it’s his view. I have no issues with that. One could fault Kejriwal for jumping into (what Amitabh Bachchan once infamously called) the cesspool, but did he have a choice? That is, if he really wanted to improve the system.

Kejriwal probably realised the futility of fighting this battle from the outside. He was dealing with the most dishonest, unscrupulous and cussed bunch of politicians since 1947, and they would run rings around him and the rest of the activists, before they would let him take a slice of their pie. And this includes both the national parties. The only way he would be able do that was with an EVM. So I don’t blame Kejriwal at all. Sure, some of his policies may be outlandish (I won’t call them bizarre, just yet), and some of the things he is proposing may look like harakiri, but you have to remember that he battling against the odds and with very little help.

I went through his party’s Constitution. It says, apart from the usual stuff, that it envisions a corruption-free India. That might be a case of biting off more than they can chew, but it doesn’t mean there are NO honest politicians today. So if he is day- dreaming, why fault him? If he hadn’t added that, the same bunch of people would have ripped into him for not saying a word about it. And then, every five years politicians stand in the Central Hall of Parliament and swear by the Bhagwad Gita to do all that is enshrined in the Constitution. Do they all go by the Good Book?

All the eccentrics who still saw India through their rose-tinted lenses were there with him, till he announced his plans to enter politics. They walked out on him the minute he made his intentions clear. What were they expecting him to do? Hold street corner meetings, fast, fast and fast? In hindsight, Kejriwal should consider it a blessing in disguise that some of those eccentrics left him. Imagine having to put with some woman who would address public meetings as though she were addressing a class full of mentally challenged children. And anyway, this grand notion of a movement against the State isn’t going to work anymore. The great socialist Jayaprakash Narayan tried and failed. You remember, the next time that Hazare tried to organise a public meeting only a few hundred turned up. And I am not for one moment, doubting his intentions.

Hazare and Kejriwal tried to agitate for a Lokpal Bill. But what happened? The government and their spinmeisters tied him and his activists up in knots, promising a lot but giving them zilch. Look at what this venal bunch of politicians did when their tribe was threatened. Since they couldn’t pass a Bill to overturn the Supreme Court verdict against corrupt politicians, they tried to bulldoze an ordinance through.  The point is, Hazare may have cast the first stone, but the government ensured that it would lie undisturbed at the bottom of the cesspool – until the court stepped in to put this government in its place.

Kejriwal may not win enough seats to form his own government in Delhi, but let’s cut the man some slack. He has said he will be contesting from whichever constituency Sheila Dixit does. He is already up against a formidable foe. She has sweet-talked her way into every other Delhiite’s home, while he still has to get a foot in the door. Most importantly, unlike most politicians and parties of today, is Kejriwal asking for a few khokhas in return for a party ticket? Thank God, for the electoral system of this great country that it throws up people like Kejriwal and who are ready to pick a fight for what they believe in. I don’t remember the last time I saw a person, with so few pretensions to being a politician, who could actually make people sit up and take notice of him.

He doesn’t seem like one of those eccentric candidates who files his nomination before every election and then ends up with just one vote – his. Let’s see what happens in a couple of months from now. The elitist Delhiites are turning up their powdered noses at the sight and sound of Kejriwal’s bunch of hopefuls trudging around Delhi’s streets.

Let’s call Kejriwal’s bluff when the time is right. Until then, let’s give him the benefit of doubt. Politics shouldn’t be the preserve of a select few, because of their lineage or their wallets. If a ‘pagla’ (my father’s words, since they were from the political party) like Raj Narain could defeat Indira Gandhi, I don’t see why someone like Kejriwal can’t take a shot at Dixit. And anyway, let the voters decide whether they want him or not. I am pretty sure, they will. and if he fails, they will dispense with him similarly.


Mahatma Gandhi and the politicians who formed the first government of Independent India were the first and last breed of secular politicians this country has seen. Since then there have only been pretenders. Real secularism was replaced by ‘politics of secularism’. By the time Indira Gandhi became the prime minister secularism had become just another dirty word.

Which is where I come to the grand old party of Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand). Nehru, Patel and others, which claims to own the patent to secularism since 1885 or thereabouts, It has also allegedly claimed to have worked for the minorities and the downtrodden since then. If that is so, how is it that most of the minority communities and the downtrodden are still where they are since 1947? And even after being taken for a ride year after year, they continue to vote for the grand old party.

The amount of money that spent on them should have been enough to give them a better life. But has that happened? The fact that the government still has to give them food subsidies, free mobiles, write off loans etc, shows that the Congress party’s policies have, by and large, FAILED in their objectives to raise the living standards of the minorities and economically weaker sections.

If there are those from such communities and castes who have overcome obstacles and risen to make a name for themselves, they have done so because of their own desire to succeed. Just today I read about Yusufalli, a Malayalee businessman in the UAE, who has been voted the most powerful Indian in the Gulf for the fourth year running. That’s a fantastic achievement. The Indians in the Gulf are a good example of people working to make a living instead of depending on the sops thrown to them by government.

In journalism, there are two sides to every story. While I completely understand that Narendra Modi’s past with reference to Gujarat in 2001, makes him suspect, I am also aware that Congress politicians are equally guilty of engineering riots in the country and worse. If I tell a Modi-hater that neither the courts nor the security agencies have been able to pin anything on him for the riots, there are howls of protest, and they allege that he has manipulated the courts and the legal system. Fair enough. However, when I ask them why people like Kamal Nath, Tytler and others are still walking free for their alleged roles in various riots; about people like Lalu who walked free for 17 years until recently, then there is studied silence. There’s more, but let’s leave that for another day.

Why are the same secular people and media, who rail against Modi for his divisive politics and his riot-tainted past completely silent when someone like Shinde or Sonia waxes eloquent about being on the side of the minorities. Or is it a case of selective knowledge? Or is it that they are so blinded by hate for the BJP or Modi or whoever that is anti-Congress, that they turn a blind eye to any nonsense that is said in the name of secularism? It’s almost as if, anyone is against the Congress or Rahul, then he must be pro-Modi!

Then some of my good friends think that by ridiculing Rahul Gandhi and his antics, I am inadvertently making Modi a hero, which he is not. Then, of course, there are those veiled suggestions that I am, in fact, a closet Hindu fundamentalist or worse a Modi supporter. To be honest, my religious inclinations are quite a joke among the members of my family. In my home, during every festival, my wife, who believes in observing most festivals, has to drag me most reluctantly to the puja corner in our house, even to spend a few minutes in silence.

Yes I do carry a Hanuman Chalisa with me. It is usually in the glove compartment of the car. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. It started after I once found that I felt a little calm after reading it. I had to ask my wife and son what the words meant, though! So now one copy lies in my glove compartment. Call me silly, superstitious or whatever. So does that qualify me to be either a closet fundamentalist Hindu or a Narendra Modi fan? I hope not, otherwise a lot of people who read such books would also be labelled fundamentalists!

To be honest, I would rather be anything but a supporter of a government whose Home Minister demolishes the credibility of his own police force and intelligence community; where an upstart MP can ridicule his own prime minister and government on a public forum because he wants to indulge in theatrics to garner some brownie points; where the entire government machinery closes ranks to protect the son-in-law of the first family who they claim is a ‘private citizen’; where MPs accused in corruption cases can get re-elected to the Rajya Sabha with the backing of the ruling party, and where a Congress-ruled State government announces that loans taken by Muslims will be underwritten. So what crime have the others committed to be excluded from such munificence?

If this is how secularism is to be defined, thank you, but no thank you. And I am sure my Muslim friends understand the point.