Archive for the ‘Rahul Gandhi’ Category

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.


The austerity drive

Posted: September 15, 2009 in Rahul Gandhi

Trust the Government to cash in on austerity and the media to turn it into a bloody three-ringed circus.

Ever since the Prime Minister announced that his government will cut down on costs, everyone’s on overdrive. Ministers are told to shift out of their 5 Star accommodations and MPs are asked to travel Economy instead of Business Class, etc etc. That’s all very nice.

But then along comes the drama queen from 10 Janpath, who the papers and channels fawn over because she actually travelled Economy Class, while her son travelled by Shatabdi. So what’s the big deal if Little Lord Fauntleroy went by train to Ludhiana? It’s anyway better known as the rich man’s train.

Now anyone and everyone in government is busy announcing to the world (read media) that he or she too travelled Economy. They almost make the terms ‘Economy Class’ and ‘train travel’ sound like a cross they have to bear for the damned.

They even had a TV crew following him into the train. Can you believe that, his exalted feet were actually touching the dirty New Delhi railway platform…look, look he’s stepping into the train…! We had an in-depth report about where mother and son sat – front row, left hand corner, window seat, etc etc. I am surprised most of the channels didn’t have a reporter tagging along to give viewers a blow-by-blow account of what transpired with the VIPs.

I wonder if they had a doctor waiting at Ludhiana station to check Master G’s pulse and heartbeat after his ‘exhausting’ journey in air conditioned comfort.

Don’t be surprised if some TV Channel flashes a picture of a water bottle and announces dramatically “This is the bottle from which Rahul Gandhi sipped his water throughout the journey… and here’s the half-eaten palak paneer that he left behind.”

But will all this drama and hype help the starving farmers and their families in Vidarbha, Orissa, MP or UP?

In a country where one square meal for a poor villager comprises rats and lizards and not rice and dal; Where a mother sells one child so she can feed the other; Where minor girls are sold to brothels to keep the home fires burning; Where food and blankets meant for flood victims are sold by greedy officials in the open market, does it surprise you that 60 per cent of the population still lives a hand-to-mouth existence and some not even that?

That should tell you exactly how effective are the poverty alleviation schemes of the government. And how effective this equally absurd ‘Economy drive’ is going to be…

Do the pictures tell their own story? You know how as kids we went to the beach and got our hands and feet dirty while building sand castles? At least we did it when we were kids. Mr Prime Minister-in-Waiting is getting his hands dirty too. Don’t miss his shoes and his spanking clean outfit.
I wish Rahul Baba would also drink the water that’s available in the villages and tell us how it feels.
My father livd in a little village called Kansi Simri of Darbhanga district, in Bihar. I went there over a decade ago to see him just before he died.
During lunch when I asked for water, I was given something in a plastic bottle that had some green muccous like substance floating inside. My step-sister said “peejeye na, kuan ka paani hai, bahut saaf hain. hum sab lok yahin paani peetey hain.” I didn’t touch it, and she looked hurt when I refused. I know she mean’t well, and not wanting to look a snob, I gulped down a glass. By that evening, I was down and out! The next day I sent the driver to buy mineral water and fetch a doctor, who looked at me and said “Aap shaher wale log gaon ka paani kahe peetey hain?
There was no electricity in the village and I spend the entire week in candle light. The only time they had power was when they connected the TV to the car battery.
It’s ok for Mr Barack Obama to talk of Joe the Plumber, because Joe will at least get unemployment benefits if he loses his job. When Rahul baba refers to Kalawati Bandurkar and espouses her cause, he should keep that in mind. A jobless villager doesn’t have too many options before him if he is rendered penniless. He will throw his family in the village well and jump in as well.
Remember Kalahandi? Right from Indira Gandhi, to Rajiv to Sonia to Rahul – all of them visited the little Oriya village. Rajiv even spoke about the woman who was found selling her 14 year-old daughter to feed herself. He promised to help. But nothing’s changed. Some years ago the same woman was still found selling her kids.
So Mr PM-in_Waiting, the next time you try these stunts, take off the Reeboks (or whatever), drink the filthy water, and dump the mosquito repellant. Maybe then you’ll understand the real India.

Remember Harshvardhan Nawathe? He was the first guy to win Rs one crore on KBC years ago. I was reading today, about how he is still being hounded by the Income Tax Department for unpaid dues. Winnings from lotteries etc are taxed at 40 % instead of the usual 30 %. The I-T guys goofed and only taxed him 30%. On realising their mistake they sent him notice to cough up the rest. Now, so many years later, Mr Nawathe is still paying! Okay, mistakes happen and the I-T guys were only doing their job. So how come, the same I-T guys don’t do their job as diligently when it comes to our politicians?

What really puts my mind in a whirl, is a full time politician whose sole source of livelihood is the pay and perks he gets as a MP for the past 10 years, declaring he has crores of rupees in the bank. How? Why doesn’t the Election Commission or some RTI activist ever ask him where he got that from?

I was sent a very neatly compiled document from the I-T department a few months back, telling me that the entries in my Form 16, bank accounts and TDS paid by various entities where I take lectures, were in order and there were no discrepancies, thank you very much. If as much as a rupee went hither thither in my accounts, wouldn’t the I-T department have fried my butt?

Which brings me to the next question: How is it that a majority of these politicians don’t have PAN cards? Heck, if I open an FD in a bank or put 50 k in my post office savings I have to submit my PAN as proof, otherwise the bank or P.O. will refuse to accept my money. So how do these guys manage to purchase NSCs and open FDs, unless of course, they keep only cash stuffed in mattresses (a la Sukh Ram)!

Take Rahul Gandhi for instance. For him to say that his 22, 700 sq. yards of property in Mehrauli (which is prime South Delhi land) is worth just Rs 9.86 lakhs (Rs. 4.40 per sq. yard) is a bit much! Go with that amount to any broker in Delhi to buy 22, 700 sq yards in Mehrauli, and he’ll laugh at you.

If someone like Anil Ambani is contesting an election and says his net worth is $ 35 billion or whatever, one can understand that. But if the same guy was a local level politician and said his assets were just Rs 35 or 40 lakhs, and five years later, claimed he had assets worth Rs 5 crore? If I was a member of the Election Commission or the Income Tax department, my antenna would be up and buzzing! So how come neither the I-T department nor the EC reacts?