Posts Tagged ‘Sonia Gandhi’


Watching some of the big names of the Indian media making a fool of themselves today reminds me of that old fable of the emperor’s new clothes. I didn’t think they would be hoist on their own petard so easily, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not just cornered the opposition, specifically the Gandhis and the Congress Party when he announced the nomination of Ram Nath Kovind, but the mainstream media (MSM) as well.

How else do you explain the way the MSM was made to look like utter idiots when the Bharatiya Janata Party announced Kovind as its nominee? First, they tried to bluster their way through with the “Kovind who?” and “Everyone’s googling Kovind” stunt. That fell flat because it turned out that not only was Kovind the Governor of Bihar, a two-term Rajya Sabha MP, a government counsel for many years, but he had also represented India at the United Nations. Then they mentioned the D word, about how Modi was using Kovind’s Dalit background to woo the community, but that didn’t cut ice either.

Nothing could be more apt than this tweet from a Biju Janata Dal MP who had worked with Kovind in pointing to the ignorance and condescension displayed by the MSM.

When that failed, they made disparaging comparisons between Kovind and Pratibha Patil who Sonia Gandhi had anointed president. Their point was that Kovind was a worse choice than Patil. Obviously, that did not matter when they were accepting hospitality and awards from President Patil.

Anyway, thanks to social media, the MSM found that its feigned ignorance of Kovind had been exposed. But that didn’t stop them. They went a step ahead and pulled out a 12-year-old piece where Kovind made his views known on the caste system and his views on Dalits and Christians.

Comparing the caste system to the trade guilds in feudal Europe (in that certain groups performed specific jobs), he added that under the caste system, persons acquire their trade at birth, while the guilds allowed job mobility.  Caste factors are now used to protect jobs and livelihoods more than anything else.”

Let’s be honest, he did not say anything out of the ordinary or very wrong. Not just in jobs but in many government-run educational institutions most general category students are denied admissions and are forced to opt for private colleges. It has affected so many middle-class families who don’t depend on their caste to get admissions for their wards in colleges and jobs thereafter.

When these barbs failed to hit home, the MSM subtly changed track. In more than two decades or so, Lal Krishna Advani was the man who had been vilified by the MSM as the face of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. It was his Rath Yatra that fuelled a sense of insecurity in Muslims all over the country and drove a wedge between the two communities, they said. He was also one of the conspirators who watched as kar sevaks climbed atop the mosque in Ayodhya and brought it down on December 6, 1992. The MSM never failed to remind us that this was the man who was singularly responsible for destroying India’s secular fabric.

However, in the past few years, just because Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had sidelined Advani, they forgot all that and had been writing pieces about what a nice guy he was and how sorry they were to see him being sidelined – all done purely to rile Modi. And now, just to oppose Modi’s choice of Kovind they also rediscovered his hidden charms, democratic values and ethics. Suddenly “A man who has the wisdom and courage to say sorry is someone I would trust to safeguard our democracy and our values as president.” Amen.

By the way, has Advani ever said ‘SORRY’ for the demolition of the mosque?

Conveniently forgotten also was the fact that just last month the MSM went after Kalyan Singh when the court named him as a co-conspirator in the Babri case, and rightly so because they believed he escaped trial as he was governor. But, now they had no problem letting Advani off the hook.

The MSM also suffered selective amnesia with the minor matter of Advani’s age. He is 90 years old. In their rush to pull down 71-year-old Kovind’s nomination, they forgot they had roundly criticised Modi when he forwarded the name of 76-year-old Najma Heptullah for governor. So, they were okay with a 90-year-old Commander-in-Chief of the Indian armed forces?

And finally, on June 22, when Congress President Sonia Gandhi decided on Meira Kumar as her choice for president, the MSM began promoting the former speaker, known only for her closeness to the Gandhi family and for being one of the most ineffectual Speakers of the Lok Sabha with her patented “baith jaiyee, baith jaiyee” which never really worked. Her other claim to fame is the fact that she is Babu Jagjivan Ram’s daughter. Oh wait, there’s another – she is a Dalit, which of course some well-known journalists, who were accusing Modi of using the Dalit card while nominating Kovind, now have no problem with. All these flip flops, twists and turns by the MSM are only because their hatred for Modi surpasses all else along with the fear of seeing him come back to power in 2019. SO HE HAS TO BE STOPPED AT ANY COST.

Really guys, your slip is showing. You can have your personal viewpoint about anyone or anything but your flip-flops on a daily basis in the public domain do no good to your reputation as journalists we once admired. I say this because as someone who interacts with students of journalism in media colleges I get asked this question very often. Can you make it any more obvious that the lessons on ethics and morality you speak to budding journalists about is something you have conveniently buried under the mountain of half-truths you’ve been peddling ever since Narendra Modi came to power? And, I am not even getting into the years before that.

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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 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.


I am depressed, very depressed. There is so much cynicism all round. It’s difficult to take anything at face value. As journalists we have been mentally tuned to disbelieve anything we are told. Often, that penchant for taking with a pinch of salt anything we are told, has transgressed from our professional lives into our personal.

You can’t really blame people for feeling the way they do. The ordinary citizen is getting squeezed for his last rupee while the corrupt politician is busy raking it in. The ordinary citizen is paying his taxes and then he finds the government blowing it away in daft populist schemes that are only going to increase the burden on the tax-payer.

Of all the hair-brained schemes (MGNREGA, Aadhaar?) this UPA government has come up with, the Food Security Bill has to be the stupidest. I don’t say this because I have any antipathy against the poor and the downtrodden, but because I am convinced that not even five per cent of those living below the poverty line will benefit from this idiotic scheme.

Just like the funds meant for NREGA are being siphoned away by the contractors, the food meant for the poor will be forcibly taken away by the landlords, hoarders and black marketers and sold at double the price in the open market. The worms in white Gandhi caps and their cohorts will steal even the rice that the government promises to give to the poor for three bucks. That is their mentality and that will never change. Scum they are, and scum they remain.

It doesn’t take an Einstein to understand that the Food Security Bill is just a squalid vote-grabbing exercise. No government scheme for the poor since Independence has helped improve their living standards, and neither will this. The PDS is a good example.

There is another troubling fact. Where are we going to find the funds to feed so many? If one heard Sonia Gandhi, it would seem to the whole country that it is not her problem what happens to the tax-payer. The implication in her speech was clear. She needs the money to buy the votes and if she has to ram more taxes down the throat of the tax-paying citizen, so be it. And all this when her son-shady in-law is busy making crores through even shadier deals! So can you really expect the middle class taxing paying voter to trust this government, anymore? More importantly, can you expect them not to be cynical?

And it is not just silly schemes that are leading to this all round depression. In 2008, Mumbai was attacked by a bunch of Pakistanis. Yup, never mind the cock and bull story about “irregulars”. They were Pakistanis and they waded in and set the ‘maximum city’ on fire. The Centre and the State promised a lot to make its citizens feel more secure. Then there were more bomb blasts. We were again told that the State government would (metaphorically speaking) stand on its head to ensure the safety of citizens. Then some idiots with backpacks blew up the German Bakery, killing seventeen people who were probably enjoying their Chocolate Latte or Mocha or whatever. More promises. Then the bombs went off on Jangli Maharaj Road. More promises. If that wasn’t enough, the Pakistani Army kept up its relentless barrage of gunfire on the border, pushing in terrorists into India. And Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet keep telling us that all is well. In this situation, expecting the honest tax-paying citizen not be depressed and cynical is asking a lot of him.

Even an earnest 21-year-old asking for help is looked upon with disdain. This young girl, who teaches in a school for children of the economically weaker sections, sent me an email a week ago to ask me whether, firstly, I could find a journalist to address a bunch of 11-14 year-old from her school on what the future holds for them, and secondly whether she could bring them over to our office to show them what the inside of a newspaper office looks like.

My first response: What does a 14 year-old know about journalism? I was just being me – cynical and condescending.

Another email from her turned the whole issue on its head. It won me over: …8th is an extremely crucial year as that is currently when free education stops. If the kids and their parents aren’t invested enough in the idea of education to pay for a private school, they may drop out. So, because of the limited opportunities the kids already face, we start conversations about achievement, college and opportunities with even a 3rd grade class. Most of my students haven’t ever seen an office of any sort, and apart from what I have told them, have no knowledge as to how a newspaper works. So, I think that this would be pretty beneficial for them.”

Her earnestness won me over. I personally offered to talk to the children at her school and also got an immediate approval from the Editor to show them around the office. And then I thought… if the poor children from this school can actually get out of the cycle of deprivation and poverty and make a better life for themselves, it would be a fitting reply to the idiotic schemes launched by this government for the poor – ones that would only end up making beggars of them, instead of giving them a better life.

So cheer up, things can only get worse from here on…!


“What puzzled me about Sonia in those early days was her complete lack of interest in doing something worthwhile in response to the dreadful poverty she saw everyday in her husband’s country… The only comment on politics I remember her making was on a night when Rajiv and she were dropping me home after a dinner party. I asked her if she would like her children to be in politics some day, and she said, ‘I would rather my children begged in the streets than went into politics.”

Engrossing, and voyeuristic, is how one could describe Durbar, well-known political journalist Tavleen Singh’s book on the Indian political scenario since the Emergency. And if you’re a Nehru-Gandhi family basher, you’ll love the book!

Tavleen Singh began her career with The Statesman as a junior reporter in 1975 and within five weeks of that she witnessed post-independent India’s most turbulent period. On June 12, 1975 the Allahabad High Court annulled the election of Mrs Gandhi from Rae Bareli. And around a fortnight later, on June 26, claiming the country was being destabilised, she declared an Emergency.

Tavleen’s account of the days during and after the Emergency details the rise of Sanjay Gandhi as a political force, his five-point programme that was meant to make India a better place, but which, she says, only ended up doing more harm than good. Her description of the events that led to the demolition of Muslim settlements at Turkman Gate and the subsequent riots that broke out resulting in the deaths of a number of Muslims, make for avid reading, especially if you’re, like me, interested in politics and politicians. Quite a few incidents she has written about are, as she herself claims, hearsay, but since she has made them public, we’ll take her word for it.

However, what held my interest was her description of Operation Bluestar, the ascension of Rajiv Gandhi as prime minister on the assassination of his mother, and his refusal to stop the riots that followed, resulting in the cold blooded murders of countless Sikhs on Delhi’s streets. Having been a part of Sonia Gandhi’s circle of friends, Tavleen gives us a pretty unflattering view of India’s Camelot. It is something loyalists of the First Family might find hard to digest. Rajiv, according to her, is a “comical, half-witted prince with no idea of the country he was ruling or its problems” – the charm notwithstanding.

There are other incidents she describes that show Rajiv in very poor light. The Indian Airlines hijack incident, the much publicised visit to Kalahandi in Orissa, his public sacking of the foreign secretary, his reluctance to order a probe into the Bofors deal, which did make people wonder whether he was shielding anyone specific, his role in the problems in Kashmir which India is still paying for, his disastrous forays into Sri Lanka (the IPKF) and Nepal, his inner circle of advisors, and the stranglehold of the bureaucracy and the power brokers over the late prime minister, once the corruption charges began to flow thick and fast, all portray Rajiv as an incompetent leader with little understanding of ground realities.

Sonia is portrayed as a warm, friendly person at times, but indifferent to India’s problems, at others. She is caring towards her family and friends but contemptuous towards her husband’s political advisors and politicians. One senses that Tavleen is bitter at being dumped by Sonia Gandhi, even though she feels she was only doing her job, and ‘Durbar’ seems to be a way to get back at the First Family. But look at the bright side. If Tavleen had remained one of Sonia Gandhi’s close friends, I doubt if we would have got an almost voyeuristic account on the role of India’s First Family, so up close and personal, in India’s recent history.


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.