Posts Tagged ‘Janata Party’


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!!

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have all but anointed Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, but the only way he will ever get there is if he steps out from under the shadow of Lal Krishna Advani. Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? However, everything that has happened in the last few weeks seems to point in that direction. The only way Advani is going to give up his claim to the PM’s chair is till the verdict for 2014 stares him in the face. And maybe not even then! And don’t be surprised if he plots and schemes to ensure that Modi is discredited and disgraced, even after the party has backed Modi.

Observing the manner in which everyone – from media to politicians, both from the opposition and the BJP – has been gunning for Narendra Modi, reminds me of the days after the Emergency in 1977, when the Janata Party set up the various Commissions to inquire into the excesses committed by Mrs Indira Gandhi, her son Sanjay and their cohorts during the Emergency.

The Shah Commission was set up soon after the Janata Party came to power in the elections declared after the Emergency was lifted in 1977. Unfortunately, instead of putting Mrs Gandhi and her son in the dock for the manner in which they ran the country in those 21 months, the proceedings were hijacked by the duo and won for Mrs Gandhi the elections when the Janata Party collapsed.

What was interesting was the manner in which the wily Indira Gandhi garnered tremendous sympathy during the Commission hearings. I was then still in my teens but I remember pouring over reports of the Shah Commission proceedings in the newspaper. I think I got the Indian Express at home, and it was full of reports about the Turkman Gate incident, children being sterilised, people dying during such operations, the disappearance of P Rajan, a student from Kerala who had protested against the Emergency (incidentally, his remains are yet to be recovered). To a teenager it was riveting stuff. And then there was Vidya Charan Shukla, the then information broadcasting minister who had his stooges stationed in all newspaper offices that he believed were against his leader Sanjay. He also destroyed all (so he thought) copies of a film (Kirsa Kursi ka), which was a satire on the government.

When the Commission started its hearings, the wily Mrs Gandhi, ever the astute politician, played the victim so convincingly that midway through the proceedings the tables had turned. She attended the hearing everyday dressed in a simple cotton sari, sitting on a hard bench and even refusing water. It struck a chord. People began to feel that it was not her but her son who was the culprit, which in many ways he was. By then the newspapers too (we didn’t have 24×7 television news then) began to portray her as a woman wronged and from the accused she became the victim. It was now the Janata Party that was in the dock! What is happening today with Narendra Modi comes pretty close,

Look at the way everyone – politicians, activists, media – is going after Modi every time he opens his mouth. It borders on paranoia. It is either about his role in the Gujarat riots of 2002 or his claims of a development in the State or his remark about being a ‘Nationalist Hindu’ or the very loaded puppy remark. Anything he says gets mercilessly flogged by the politicians and picked up by the media. According to the dictionary the word ‘nationalist’ is defined as ‘Devotion to the interests or culture of one’s nation’. So what did Modi say that was so abhorrent, ask his supporters. Or for that matter his puppy remark. There is already a large segment of the population that believes Modi is being unfairly targeted. Just like the original Mrs G was. They would also have us believe that it was not Modi but others around him who should be held responsible for the pogrom in Gujarat.

It’s not like he is the only politician in the country who has allegedly ‘engineered’ a riot. Some former Congress prime ministers and chief ministers have watched as mobs have gone on the rampage, and quite a few ordinary politicians who are today part of the ruling dispensation, have been accused of not just inciting riots but playing an active role in them. What this is doing for Modi, is that it is making him a hero in the eyes of a large chunk of the population that believes that he is articulating their angst against everything that is wrong today.

For example, the tax-payer is angry with the UPA politicians for filling their pockets while they, the public, bears the brunt of rising prices. And no politician is bothered about them. Modi has, very smartly, stepped in to fill that breach. Like Raj Thackeray in Maharashtra who deliberately takes on the ruling establishment – be it the politician or the bureaucracy – Modi’s rhetoric has touched a nerve. And just yesterday I read that India Inc prefers Modi as prime minister to Rahul Gandhi. Must be a bitter pill to swallow for the Congress party.

Tomorrow he might turn out to be just another politician, but for now Modi seems to find support. And that worries the political class, including those in his party like Lal Krishna Advani. Coming from a politician who is part of the RSS, which has been known for its discipline, it speaks volumes of Advani’s desperation to become PM. Let’s wait and see whether Modi’s opponents who have been taking pot shots at him, find their target or just end up shooting themselves in the foot.


I always tell my students to be careful when they post things on social networking sites, because you never know when it could come back to haunt them. Of course, there are times when it does throw up things that are interesting too. Like last night.
I happened to be trawling the worldwide web looking for nothing in particular, when on a whim, I typed my father’s name in the window and clicked enter. On a whim, because I hadn’t thought of him in years, not since my mother passed away in 2003.
The relationship we (my brother and I) had with our father had been a pretty tumultuous one – my brother more than me, because while I lived with my mother since I was five or so, he stayed with my father. I guess both of us have never really forgiven my father for leaving my mother to fend for herself and her children, until he decided to take my brother along with him to Patna. Whether he did this out of some sympathy or sense of duty, I’ll never know.
I knew my father had been a lot of things like barrister, freedom fighter, lecturer and editor, but to read everything about him has left me completely stunned. My mother had never told me in details about his exploits. If she did, I was probably too young to realise the import of such things.
Anyway back to the present. So what popped up on google took me completely by surprise. It was a pretty impressive profile of my father, which I never knew existed. I was reading about things I never knew or ever heard from anyone. Call it a coincidence, but the places he stayed and worked in during his lifetime, I had unknowingly stayed and worked in as well. Then there was his career as a journalist, which was infinitely much more impressive than mine will ever be.
Then there was his career as a lecturer, teaching Law and Commerce at the Law and Commerce Colleges, respectively, in Patna, when he quit politics. I had heard from people he had taught that there were no empty chairs during his lectures and that his students kissed the ground he walked on.
I remember an incident that happened in Pune, when father came to see us. He was accompanied by a young man. When I asked him why he was there, the youngster said “Jayaprakash Narayanji told us that after his death, we should look after your father.” That left me quite unmoved, because in my book, as a husband and father he had failed. When father told me that he along with JP and others had written the Constitution of the Janata Party, headed by Morarji Desai, I caustically remarked that the experiment was then surely going to fail.
When he died at Darbhanga in 1994, neither my brother nor I went for the funeral. My mother cried when she heard the news, and I remember my brother and me telling her that she was shedding tears for a man who had deserted her and his children, when they most needed him. We had shut him out of our lives since then, to the extent that we had even given away the inherited family property to another one of our step-sisters. We wanted nothing to do with anything connected to him.
Seeing the profile on Google brought back a lot of memories. Had we (the family) misjudged him? I don’t know how my brother feels, but I think I am willing to let go off the past. I think it’s time to move on, tell my son that despite all his flaws and his philandering ways, his grandfather was a remarkable man. In his own small way, he had done his duty for his country and for his people, even though he had failed his extended family. But I guess we can’t all be perfect.