Posts Tagged ‘Shashi Tharoor’

In the political history of India, this has easily been the mother of all elections! I think what we witnessed today was an earthquake in the political arena. One party winning a clear majority hasn’t happened since 1985. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this since 1977 when the Janata Party threw out Indira’s Congress Party after the Emergency was called off. After that, this has been the most exciting election I’ve seen. And remember, unlike Indira in 1971 or the Janata Party, Modi had no war or a tactical win to use in his favour.

For all of Modi’s claim of development, the 2002 Gujarat riots would invariably pop up. In a bizarre sort of way, the UPA’s plan to bring the riots to the forefront and make it their main poll plank, only helped Modi consolidate his support. As the campaign reached its crescendo, it had become Narendra Modi versus the Rest of India’s political fraternity. And in that context, to win more than 300 seats is truly astonishing.

The UPA and every other party raised the 2002 bogey. And every time they did that, Modi talked development, jobs and a better life for the poor. He did not talk about the Ram Mandir, Hindutva or the riots. Sure, he regularly poked fun at the Ma-beta-beti-damaad’.  The opposition had just one theme – ‘Modi is a murderer, fascist, Hitler etc etc’.  I am afraid that began to grate after a while. Secondly, that would have worked if the other side was as clean as a whistle. They were not. They had enough skeletons in their cupboard that they were desperate to keep stashed away. Also, if you keep hammering away on just one point even the electorate gets tired. Finally, even they wondered, like I did, whether this was an election about how bad Modi was, or how good the UPA is. And I’ve said here, time and again, 2002 was 12 years ago. People were ready to move on. The UPA didn’t want them to.

The fact is the UPA proved to be a disaster in its last four years. They had won a second term on the basis of a clean, honest and decisive prime minister, who somehow, could not keep up the tempo after that and gave up on his government. Then the mother-son duo and their sycophants started throwing their weight around and the prime minister retreated further and further into his shell, until one really didn’t know who was running the government. Then there is the issue of taking responsibility.

Also, what political parties must have realised, especially those like the Congress and others which divide voters on caste and religious lines, is that in the end they will lose. The fact that the BSP, JD-U, RJD, Left, NCP, SP were all but wiped out, should be a lesson to them that wooing one community at the cost of another isn’t going to work anymore. It was almost as if for these parties the vast majority did not matter. I guess that the vast majority showed these parties who have survived on their blinkered vision for this long, exactly how much they mattered. As for AAP, Arvind Kejriwal should have realised by now that drama won’t him get him votes. but his party still managed 4 seats, which is not a bad start for a new party. To be honest BJP never denied that they were a Hindu party, but they smartly never tomtommed the fact. There were those irritants like Giriraj and others but somehow nothing stuck.

The second and more important fact was the people (except those who think the Gandhis can do no wrong) realised that the First Family was running a parallel government. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was insulted and rebuked at various times. It had to backfire, and it did. Then there were the scams involving ministers, and ‘private citizens’ that kept popping up. The manner in which the government put a protective ring around the Gandhi family only showed them in very poor light. Secondly, everything was left to Sonia, Rahul and later Priyanka Gandhi, none of whom could take on the BJP’s well oiled machine.

If you think I have a problem with the family, I hope you watched the impromptu press conference on Friday, and the completely arrogant and condescending behaviour of the mother and son. There was no word of congratulations for Modi, but instead only for the party. Wake up and smell the coffee Mrs G. Your party got the worst thrashing in its 100 plus year history.  Bringing that nose down a little won’t hurt.  Even the impromptu press conference was a disaster, with mummy indicating to sonny to move his ass! If Sonia and Rahul took the responsibility for the defeat, shouldn’t they have resigned? Let’s face it, Rahul is a disaster as a politician, and the only one who can pull the Congress out of the mess it is in, is Priyanka – but only if she says goodbye to her husband! There are good people like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Shashi Tharoor in the party, but the sycophants of the party who owe their careers and their very existence to the Gandhi family, will never allow the good people to come up.

However, now that the results are out and the National Democratic Alliance is all set to form the government, can we put all the rancour behind us? Sixty-four per cent of Indians voted this time, of which more than half voted for Modi. So, for the sake of all those who voted and want a government to run the country, can we let them? Those who didn’t vote (and I am not talking about the lot who were legally denied their right by the Election Commission) really don’t have the moral authority or the right to criticise. Of course, that won’t stop them from vitiating the atmosphere, because that is all they are good at.

This is the time for Narendra Modi to walk the talk. To show the rest of the country that the Gujarat development model is what he claims it is and can work everywhere. And if it can’t, then find another model that will give jobs to people, and help the desperate farmers and those living below the poverty line. They need security of a job and income and not government largesse. Let’s see what he can do.

Oh, and by the way, all my friends who stopped talking to me because they thought I am either a BJP supporter, or worse, a Hindu fundamentalist in the making, I am not. I didn’t even vote for Modi or his party!


The other day, the editor, of the newspaper I work for, got a call from an irate reader who blasted him for missing a story on Narendra Modi. The Chief Copy Editor who was monitoring stories for the page and I missed the three or four paragraph story which was flashed on the wire at around 9 pm. In journalistic parlance it was a miss. It happens often. We usually let out the F word, castigate ourselves, and continue with our work. It’s not the end of the world. However, when the Editor told me about the reaction of the reader, it sounded like the reader almost said, “How dare you miss the story on Narendra Modi?”

The Editor tried telling him that we have always been carrying reports on Modi – for and against, and more for than against – and this one was an inadvertent miss, nothing else. But the reader was furious. It didn’t surprise me. The reaction is as bad as the one you get from sycophants of Rahul Gandhi, who won’t hear a word against their Prince Charming – like the Renuka Choudharys, Manish Tewaris and Sanjay Jhas of the world. At least they are a lot more civil in their use of language. The reaction of the Narendra Modi Fan Club, on the other hand, borders on the extreme, often (though not in this particular instance) from the abrasive to the vituperative, with no restraint on the language – MC, BC, TMK etc – which I am sure even Modi would not encourage. I sometimes read exchanges between pro and anti Modi groups and some of the language used by both makes me cringe.

I am no fan of the Congress Party or the Nehru-Gandhi clan either. I believe the party has done more damage to the ‘secular’ fabric of this country than the so called right-wing BJP did (if any) in the five years that it ruled. Their so-called sympathy for the Muslims and the oppressed classes is nothing but a squalid vote-grabbing exercise. And even the communities mentioned here have to be blind and stupid not to see that. If the Congress genuinely believed in secularism and support for the oppressed classes, both these ‘communities’ would have progressed. But they are still living off government dole. And politicians and religious leaders in their own communities are ensuring that they remain where they are with little or no change in their social status. What is unfortunate is very few have tried to break out of the state of deprivation they have been subjected to.

You can blame the upper class Brahmin for denying the backward classes their share of the pie. But you also have to remember that a majority of those upper class Brahmins, including the redoubtable Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru were part of the Congress Party that has ruled this country for over 60 years, which swore by the poor and on its so called secular credentials. The truth is it did little. If it had done something substantial, a majority of Indians wouldn’t be in the sorry state they are in today.  And the government would not be resorting to Food Bills, subsidies and reservations to keep those communities on their side. And when it comes to the secular talk, let’s not forget the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, where a Congress prime minister looked on indulgently as mobs ran riot through Delhi and various other parts of India. Does ‘secular’, according to the Congress, mean only appeasing the Muslims?  You can blame the BJP for the Babri Masjid demolition but you have to also remember that it was a Congress prime minister who actually did nothing to stop it.

And like the Congress, the BJP too cannot change history. Whatever happened in Gujarat is a fact. Whether Modi had a hand in it, is for the courts to decide. As for the puppy and ‘nationalist Hindu’ remarks, I think a lot of people deliberately misinterpreted the analogies, just like they deliberately misread Shashi Tharoor’s ‘cattle class’ tweet. And others just climbed on to the bandwagon! Whether it was an accidental or a deliberate attempt by Modi (the attached cartoon by Sakal Times cartoonist Alok Nirantar is a good indicator) to polarise voters, and whether it could do more harm than good to his electoral chances, is for him and his party to figure out as 2014 nears. The jury is still out on that one.


But his shouting brigade should stop behaving like he is already prime minister. When members of his own party are working against him, the least these clowns, who have anointed themselves his public relations department, can do is to temper their own reactions. Forget criticism, they cannot even accept a newspaper editor’s apology for missing a story on Modi! And these guys criticise the Congress government for being dictatorial! Not that the BJP has ever claimed to be ‘secular’ party. But since they have always been venting against the Congress for the manner in which it has been run all these years, I am surprised by the hysterical reaction of the Modi fan club against anything said about their leader.

The media will continue to write for and against Modi, as the case may be. I don’t think it needs lessons on propriety and free speech from his fan club. When the media has not spared the prime minister for his silence, why should they spare Modi for his puppy talk?

I wonder, if in a fit of rage, Lalit Modi called Shashi Tharoor “Faale Manhoof!”

The war of the tweeters has entered the political arena. And now that the politicians have stepped in to the IPL circus we can expect some fun and games and the inevitable scapegoat. I am afraid the articulate and genteel Tharoor is being fattened for the sacrifice – if not now then sometime in the future.

Remember the IPL commercial aired before the IPL, with a politician wondering whether he would get a ticket, and his dumb followers swearing revenge if he didn’t? Does it remind you of the BJP’s ‘spin meisters’ and the others in the opposition screaming for Tharoor’s blood? I am pretty sure a majority of them don’t even know what the controversy is about. Just like the time they made a big noise about Jaswant Singh’s book without even having read it.

Going by Tharoor’s ‘clarification’ in the press, what he says seems pretty logical. So what if he tried to use his influence to get Kochi an IPL ticket? Pray tell me what are Krish Srikkanth, N Srinivasan and other well-known faces doing in the IPL franchisees. Look at the manner in which the Indian T 20 team was selected for the World Cup. Didn’t the IPL owners have a say in selections? The selectors can go blue in the face protesting that selections were clean, but some of the choices did raise eyebrows. So, till it is proved in a court of law that Tharoor is a liar and a cheat, I am going to give him the benefit of doubt.

Somehow I’ve liked neither Mr Modi nor his lisping tongue from the time he appeared on the scene from his home state of Rajasthan. He bears a striking resemblance to Jagmohan Dalmiya (erstwhile head honcho of Indian cricket and in his time cricket’s most powerful administrator), if only for the manner in which he has made money for the Indian cricket board. The similarity ends there.

In spite of all of Jaggu’s dada’s sometimes dubious style of functioning, I admired him because he gave the impression that he put Indian cricket and its players above all else, when it came to taking on the establishment (Read ICC and its supporters among the White cricketing nations). No one dared to tangle with Dalmiya and even a person as mild mannered as John Wright said he was relieved that Dalmiya was at the helm when Mike Denness allegedly called Tendulkar a cheat in South Africa. Wright didn’t believe anyone else could have taken on the ICC and shown them their place. It was an incident that virtually threatened to split the cricket world. But Dalmiya refused to back down until Tendulkar was reinstated and cleared off the charges.

But Modi, somehow, looks the type who’ll sell Indian cricket to the highest bidder, which is what he has been doing successfully these past three seasons. He reminds me of Kaa the boa constrictor in Jungle Book. I can visualise him lisping his way through “Trust in me”. Would you trust Mr Modi?