Archive for the ‘Politics’ 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.


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!!


Funny isn’t it, that when Rahul Gandhi barges into a press conference and talks about tearing up and throwing away a government bill, some people are ready to kiss his feet. That’s not drama?

But when Arvind Kejriwal decides to stage a dharna outside Rail Bhavan for something that he knows his predecessor lost an election over, his effort is not just called a drama, but anarchic! When youngsters took to the streets of Delhi against the gang-rape of the medical student they too were called anarchic. When Hazare went on a fast at Ram Lila it was a couple of years ago, it was anarchic, when thousands turned up at the same ground in his support they were called anarchists – never mind if there were men and women with toddlers in their arms. We fawn over the Arab Spring movement and Occupy Wall Street which is also a street protest. It is ‘democracy in full flow’ when it happens there, but anarchy when it happens here?

Maybe what Kejriwal is doing is bizarre and outlandish, and drives people hysterical, but it is a more effective option than what Sheila Dikshit did – sat in her bungalow, passing the buck to the Delhi Police and the Centre, while young kids were being terrorised with water cannons and teargas in the national capital in December 2012. The thing is she had the ear of the two most powerful people in the country, the PM and Congress chief. But she was more interested in sucking up to them and feathering her nest. There’s no use telling people, “I gave you metros, infra etc” if you can’t provide something as basic as security. The issue about Delhi cops isn’t something that happened yesterday. It’s a constitutional provision that was put into place when Delhi got its limited statehood.

It’s not as if two law enforcement authorities don’t work anywhere in the country. The cantonments are a good example of how this system works efficiently. Similarly in Delhi, the reason given is that it is the capital city and it has too many diplomats, who need protection. So why can’t a section of the Delhi police do that, and who report only to the Centre, and not to the CM? The rest of the Delhi can be handed over to the State govt, can’t it? It was reported somewhere that what if Omar Abdullah demands the Army reports to him. Yes, what if Martians landed on Earth tomorrow and took over the world? The Army reports to the President, according to the very Constitution some people swear by. So let’s not obfuscate the issue with useless logic.

And this reason about what will happen if Pakistan decides to attack is just so much hogwash. To reach Delhi their conventional forces (army and air force) will first have to enter Punjab, J&K, Rajasthan etc. and that will happen only if and when our neighbours fire off a few nuclear-tipped ICBMs into Delhi and other cities and flatten them all. In such a situation, I don’t think the Delhi Police is going to be of much help, anyway! And I don’t think any country in its right senses will do what I imagined! If the Delhi Police is so super-efficient only because it reports to the Centre why have there been four major attacks and so many crimes in the Capital since the Parliament was attacked in 2001?

The truth is the bureaucrats in Delhi don’t want to give up control of the police otherwise they too will have to report to the State CM, which will diminish their importance. As mandarins of the Centre they enjoy a lot of perks which they might have to relinquish, including the swank homes they live in.

Everyone, including the ruling party and the saffron brigade, have their own reasons for not encouraging Kejriwal. The BJP fears he will split the votes and thereby ensure that their dear NaMo is denied The Chair that they all want him to occupy. That too I am willing to understand. The Congress plays its own double game of backing Kejriwal’s government, while at the same time rubbishing him in public. To the frontline political parties in the country, anything or anyone that steals the thunder from under their very noses, and shows them up for what they really are – hypocritical, self serving and insecure – is an anarchist.

However, have we tried to examine why someone like Anna Hazare or Arvind Kejriwal even appeared on the scene? How did he manage to tap into our anger and frustration about everything that was wrong with this country? The system was and is faulty, and we only scream ourselves hoarse or rant about it on social networking sites. Beyond that, we are happy if someone else takes the lead. Kejriwal did that, and until he decided to conduct a dharna he was everyone’s poster boy. Okay so he over-reached himself, but Kejriwal knew this was the only way to get the Centre to take notice. Even after that, have you seen their reaction? It’s usually ‘buzz off’ to anyone and everyone who has dared to question them. So while some may question Kejriwal’s methods, you have to ask what options he had left. What options, as a citizen, do you have when all avenues to get justice are closed?

People also talk about how he should go about it constitutionally. Fair enough. However, the fact is, the Constitution as envisaged by people like Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar has been twisted, ripped asunder and beaten out of shape by politicians who use it for their own survival and to promote themselves. And for those who say the system works, google some high-profile cases involving politicians which are dragging on in courts for the past few decades. Look at what’s happening in MGNREGA. Is it a system that works? You need to generate jobs for people, not just transfer money in their bank accounts to keep them happy, so they can get drunk at the nearest hooch shop or buy electronic goods. Now they are happy doing nothing because they know that every month government funds will get them their next drink and meal. So why should they work?

What politicians also need to accept is that this country isn’t what it was in 1947. Today we have the Internet which tells us how the rest of the world is progressing while we are still-stuck in the socialist rhetoric of the 196os and 1970s. And while people’s aspirations have also grown, normal things in their daily lives are beyond their reach. I am afraid that is not the kind of system our founding fathers had in mind when they gave us our Constitution. As George Orwell said in Animal Farm, ‘all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others!


I can understand why supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and especially Narendra Modi, are raging. It is because they know they were within sniffing distance of victory in Delhi, and someone, who they least expected, pulled the red carpet from under their feet. They were that close, and had they won, the saffron party would have completed a fantastic sweep of the assembly elections – four out of five. More importantly, to win in Delhi would have been the perfect launch pad for Lok Sabha 2014, when Narendra Modi would surely have swept the polls across the nation, and his ardent followers would have been over the moon. And I mean nation, not just the cow belt, because judging by the response he is getting, even in the South, it seems for the first time, he might achieve the impossible – a win down there – with the party’s allies, except maybe in Kerala.

And then out popped Aam Aadmi Arvind Kejriwal, wrapped up in his pullover, coat, muffler and topi, and stepped on the BJP’s celebratory cake. Up till the day the Assembly election results were being declared, the BJP and the Congress had both treated Kejriwal like the proverbial fly in the ointment – the minor irritant – that would be swatted into silence in another 24 hours (Example: Kejriwal isn’t even on the radar – Sheila Dikshit). They really didn’t think he was going to do much damage, and even the exit polls weren’t too sure. Much to their horror and anguish, the fly became a bee that stung them hard. Sheila Dixit, lost her constituency and her chair, and the BJP just lost its shirt at the audacity of this middle class ‘nobody’ who stuck it to them, where it hurts.

They believe the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has dared to steal from right under the nose of the BJP, what was rightfully theirs! And that also explains why the saffron supporters are savaging Kejriwal and his fledgling party with innuendos and pictures ridiculing him and his movement. What they are showing themselves to be, are poor losers. The funny thing is, the Congress was everything the people didn’t want in a political party and government– corrupt, inefficient, uncaring, and Kejriwal came along and whipped them, in their backyard. Instead of cheering for him there are some people who are ridiculing him. And these are mostly furious friends and supporters of the saffron brigade.

There’s a photograph that’s doing the rounds on Facebook, and probably on twitter. It is of Arvind Kejriwal in a Toyota SUV at Pune airport supposedly going to meet Anna Hazare at Ralegan Siddhi. It’s from a national daily. It’s obviously been used to convey that a guy who preaches simplicity and self righteousness has no qualms sitting in an SUV. It’s a pretty shallow attempt by the newspaper, for which incidentally I have great respect, to create a controversy where there isn’t any. Then there’s constant comparison between IIT pass-out Kejriwal and another IIT pass-out, BJP Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar of Goa, who has been photographed riding pillion on a scooter in Goa. I am sure Parrikar is a good, honest and hard working man. I’ve also read that he travels economy class and by bus, but I am sure he does not travel by scooter to work every day!

While I accept that I don’t see any party that can stand up to the BJP, right now, I don’t think I want to see a Parliament where there is no opposition worth the name. Unfortunately, even outside Delhi, the likes of Mulayam Singh, Mamata Banerji, Mayawati, Sharad Pawar, and Nitish Kumar are, together, not strong enough to pose a challenge even to Amit Shah, leave along Modi! And try as they might, Rahul Gandhi and his ragtag bunch are simply incapable of taking on Modi. Can Kejriwal?

At the recent speech to industry captains, Rahul spoke a lot about what his government has done and what it wanted to do, and yet it sounded so hollow, because it was just the political speech that the industry wasn’t interested in hearing. There really is no point in saying ‘we will do this’, or ‘we will do that’ when his government had ten years to do it, and didn’t. And now, just as the elections are around the corner and time is running out for the UPA government, it gets off its behind and announces a slew of populist measures, which everyone, with an iota of common sense, knows is just pre-poll gimmickry and will take another few years to bear fruit.


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!!


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.