Posts Tagged ‘Mayawati’


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.

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I lived and worked in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh from 2001 to 2005, where I saw three governments in power, one of the BJP under Rajnath Singh, then the BSP under Mayawati and the third of the SP under Mulayam Singh Yadav. My colleagues cautioned me to use a PRESS sticker on my vehicle or I could get robbed of my vehicle in broad daylight and no one would raise a finger to help me. I thought they were joking.

I realised the joke was on me, when on my first day at Hindustan Times, in Lucknow, sometime in November 2001, I was sitting at my desk reading the newspapers, when a headline caught my eye: “Amarmani Tripathi declared absconder”

Amarmani Tripathi is a politician-cum-criminal currently serving a jail term for the murder of a poetess. He knew the fine art of surviving in politics. He simply switched parties during every election! In 2001, he was a minister in the BJP Government and when he fell foul with CM Rajnath Singh, the cases against him were reopened and he was declared an absconder.

So there I was staring at the headline in front of me, and as I looked up from the newspaper, I saw a man dressed in all white approaching my cubicle, followed by a couple of armed policemen, who were obviously his security personnel. As the man swaggered past me, he smiled and I too gave a polite smile. I looked at him and then again at the picture in the newspaper. It was “absconder Amarmani Tripathi” and for someone who was allegedly running from the law, he seemed totally unfazed. He went to the Hindi Hindustan editorial department to meet the editor. When I told some of my colleagues about this, they had a hearty laugh. For them, it seemed the most natural thing in the world. For me, however, it was an eye-opener.

A few months later, I read a report that said a man could not prove in an UP court that he was alive even as he stood there in flesh and blood because his relatives had declared him dead to usurp his property. I was told by a reporter, who was also a lawyer, that he could declare me dead or prove that my car was stolen! I believed him.

A few days after that Mukhtar Ansari, a dreaded mafia don, who was serving time in jail, was supposedly brought for a medical check-up to a local hospital. I say supposedly because I remember how my reporter Manish Chandra Pandey, rushed in excitedly to tell me that Ansari was strolling through Hazratganj, Lucknow’s shopping district, exchanging pleasantries with shopkeepers and then proceeding to his flat where he held a ‘durbar’! Policemen who were supposedly guarding him were strolling along behind him, quite unconcerned by the stir the don’s walkabout was creating. The next day when the pictures appeared in all the newspapers the government defended the inaction by the cops and packed Ansari off to Tihar!

Then, on another occasion, when a very powerful business tycoon’s son was getting married, one of the reporters told me how goons from a political party walked into the showroom and drove away with new cars, as the staff stood by silently. If you value your life you keep your mouth shut. And also, how an entire housing society was asked to vacate because it overlooked the home of a business tycoon, who was celebrating the marriage of his children. They claimed it was “security” but no one reported these stories because you don’t report such stuff if you value your advertising revenue!

For a State that wallows in crime, poverty, communal violence and crooked politicians, nothing that happens there surprises me anymore. But, on Monday, even I, like a million others who must have watched the news, was totally aghast at the manner in which UP Chief Minister Mayawati was garlanded with 1000 rupee notes and was photographed posing under it for posterity. In this show of opulence, what I find surprising is not that people can go to such absurd lengths to pamper a politician, who doesn’t care a fig for the people she lords over, but the fact that not a single government at the Centre, in all these years, has had the guts to pull her up for looting the state and accumulating cash, properties and diamonds.

It’s not the first time that the lady has been given this ‘honour’, so why no one in government really bothers to ask her what she’s done with all that cash, tells us a lot about the crooks (and that’s putting it mildly) who masquerade as honest politicians to enact legislation to curb black money, and then keep stashing their’s away in banks abroad! And when such announcements come from the mouth of a respected and supposedly honest prime minister, it makes one wonder. What’s even more frustrating is the fact that year after year it’s the honest taxpayer who gets screwed (there really is no other word) and silently bears the burden while the scumbags in their dhotis or safari suits get a free run. Otherwise, can you tell me, how politicians like Mayawati and Laloo have survived for so long?

For example, everyone knows that Mayawati’s assets jumped by Rs 500 crore in five years. We heard reports during the last election that the CBI was going to question her on how this miracle had happened. But it never went beyond the ‘heard’ stage. She was also an accused in the Taj Corridor scam, where she allegedly sold off large tracts of land behind the monument to private parties for the construction of commercial complexes! Heard anything about that from the CBI lately? All these cases are in the news only during an election or when MPs are required to vote during a no-confidence vote. Then these cases are used to force them to fall in line with the government’s line of thinking.

During my stint in Lucknow, I also watched a CD which showed a powerful politician of an equally well-known party, bluntly tell ticket hopefuls that they needed to deposit a specified amount of cash “towards a personal fund” if they wanted tickets for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections! The politician is seen explaining that since these hopefuls would anyway, recover this “loss” once they were elected, there was no reason why they should not pay this amount! The CD did the rounds of all the newspaper offices, but nothing came out of it because no newspaper owner wanted to incur the wrath of this vengeful politician. They were more interested in securing government contracts and keeping their factories running smoothly.