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Posts Tagged ‘Rajiv Gandhi’

Indian Polity’s Bigger Headache: BJP or Congress …?

November 13, 2012 5 comments

So-called internal matters of the BJP are in facts issues of importance. Global importance.

BJP after losing power has been a strange case of disintegration - compared to the BJP before gaining power  |  Satish Acharya cartoon on Wednesday, October 26, 2011  titled Gadkari wants to prove his political fitness...

BJP after losing power has been a strange case of disintegration – compared to the BJP before gaining power | Satish Acharya cartoon on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 titled Gadkari wants to prove his political fitness…

There Is No Alternative

From 1947 to 1987, for the first forty years of modern India, Congress was the behemoth that dominated Indian politics. For a brief two years, a combined opposition had managed to unseat the Congress in 1977-1979 – only to fall apart amidst power-jockeying.

Probably, one man changed that.

Cutting Edge

Lal Krishna Advani.

In 1986, Advani a second rung leader of BJP, was appointed president, though not much was expected from him. BJP then, under the shadow of a lone-star leader,  AB Vajpayee, was a fringe party in national Indian politics, that had been without power for nearly forty years.

At the cusp of a changing world-order, BJP under Advani became the force in Indian politics. Instead of Congress aligning with a declining Soviet Union, BJP proposed closer ties with the West. Slow-paced reforms after Bombay High, by the Congress was challenged by BJP’s agenda for faster liberalization. The Congress stance of apologetic secularism, after granting Pakistan to Indian Muslims, was roundly lampooned by the BJP.

Events were on Advani’s side.

Power competition has become a subject to regional-tribal instincts. Between Gujarati Modi and Marathi Gadakari.  |  Satish Acharya cartoon on October 26 2012

Power competition has become a subject to regional-tribal instincts. Between Gujarati Modi and Marathi Gadakari. | Satish Acharya cartoon on October 26 2012

When Things Go Right

Soviet Union collapsed. The Islamic world, under Western dominance rebelled. Starting with the Iranian Revolution under Khomeini, the Islamic world took a turn towards fundamentalism – unleashing a reactionary Islamic demonization by the West. Reforms and liberalization paid off – and Pakistan imploded.

A Partition-era refugee from what is now Pakistan, Advani had few pre-conceived notions on politics. Taking a leaf from an Andhra politician, NT Rama Rao, Advani went on his first rath yatra on Septemeber 25th, 1987. NT Rama Rao had earlier wrested AP from Congress strangehold with a nearly year-long mass-contact campaign, in his chaitanya ratham.

Two years after his rath yatra, BJP supported the formaton of a non-Congress government under VP Singh. BJP had arrived. Congress was decimated. After Advani, Congress has not won an electoral majority for 25 years now.

Post-Soviet World

Between 1986 to 1991, for the Indian Republic it was trial by fire.

In 1986, Advani became BJP party president and Rajiv Gandhi was a democratic dictator with a brute majority in the Parliament. ND Tiwari, Pranab Mukherjee and VP Singh were seen as dynamic Finance Ministers who were liberalizing India after Bombay High.

Licence Raj was being dismantled. Shoots of a new India could be seen – with Indian companies charging in all directions. Stocks markets were in a frenzy. The 1977 George Fernandes industrial policy was effective at buffering Indian companies from Big Brother multinationals.

Companies like HCL, WIPRO, pioneered Unix-based systems – among the first in the world.

Bofors and Soviet implosion changed India forever. Rajiv Gandhi lost the election in 1989 – with BJP helping form a minority VP-Singh government. In 1991, Soviet Union collapsed. Indian foreign policy lay in tatters. India itself was on the brink of a financial default.

Election results returned a hung parliament.

RSS seniors seem to feel threatened. After foisting irrelevant leaders on BJP, they wonder why BJP is revolting?  |  Cartoon by Surendra on November 19, 2011; source & courtesy - thehindu.com

RSS seniors seem to feel threatened. After foisting irrelevant leaders on BJP, they wonder why BJP is revolting? | Cartoon by Surendra on November 19, 2011; source & courtesy – thehindu.com

Crisis after Disaster

BJP under Advani’s leadership stablized a minority government. Finally, a BJP government was formed – from 19 March 1998 to 22 May 2004. These were crucial years. A stable coalition government, a first in India, lasted a full term. It presided over India’s affairs in a very fluid world.

It was during this period that India initiated, a different relationship with Russia. As the more stable partner, India defined this more equal relationship that saved Russia’s defence industry from ruin. In turn India itself benefited by getting defence products on the cheap, more suitable for India’s requirements.

India also created a global industry, in which semi-finished Russian armaments were fitted with advanced third-party technologies to make these products comparable to the best in the world. India’s frontline fighter, Su-30 MKI is one such example.

No surprises then when the Russian ambassador landed at Advani’s home, to wish him well on his 85th birthday.

Russian Ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin bends down to LK Advani on Advani's 85th birthday on Nov 08, 2012 |  Image source  PTI; courtesy - outlookindia.com

Russian Ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin bends down to LK Advani on Advani’s 85th birthday on Nov 08, 2012 | Image source PTI; courtesy – outlookindia.com

In a rare gesture, Russian ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin today broke away from diplomatic protocol and touched the feet of BJP veteran L K Advani while visiting the leader to wish him on his 85th birthday.

Such a gesture is virtually unheard of in diplomatic circles as most diplomats and heads of state or government only go to the extent of folding their hands in a ‘namaste’ to wish an Indian leader. Shaking of hands is the norm in such meetings.

Kadakin, an Indophile, conversed in chaste Hindi with Advani throughout his visit at the Prithviraj Road-residence.

via Russian ambassador touches Advani’s feet – Times Of India.

The Russian ambassador is not a private person, who can claim indulgence. He is governed by diplomatic protocol – and represents his country. So, when he pays respects to Advani, it is a gesture of far-reaching symbolism.

On one side.

Rubber Hits The Road

On the other side, when events conspire to show a different side of BJP, it become a matter of national importance – even though BJP is not in power.

Ever since anti-corruption activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal trained his guns on Mr. Gadkari for the alleged wrongdoings by a company owned by him, there have been murmurs within the BJP that an influential section within is targeting Mr. Gadkari. However, it is for the first time that any one has pointed fingers at Mr. Modi.

The rumblings within the BJP surfaced after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani and his son Mahesh Jethmalani went public saying Mr. Gadkari should immediately step down from his post as the charges against him were damaging to the party.

The senior Jethmalani claimed the backing of other party leaders like Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha. The campaign within the BJP against Mr. Gadkari is widely perceived as a power struggle among senior leaders with an eye on the 2014 elections.

via The Hindu : News / National : Gadkari rejects ‘insinuation’ made by RSS member, says party united behind Modi.

In fact not just national importance – but international importance. Unlike what Congress says, these are not the internal matters of the BJP.

Envoys from 20 Arab countries met BJP President Nitin Gadkari today to discuss his party’s plan in the forthcoming Parliament session, it’s agenda on the internal and external affairs if it comes to power, and relations with the Arab world and India’s neighbours.

The diplomats led by Moroccan Ambassador Larbi Reffouh, who is the acting president of the Arab Group, met Gadkari at his residence here.

The Arab Group met Gadkari to discuss the BJP’s plans for the forthcoming winter session of Parliament that begins on November 22, as also the party’s vision on the present internal situation in India.

The grouping was also keen on knowing the BJP’s internal and external affairs agenda in case it is voted to power in the next general elections.

The ambassadors also wanted to learn about the main Opposition’s attitude on relations with the Arab World and India’s neighbours.

via Envoys from 20 Arab countries meet BJP President Nitin Gadkari – Economic Times.

The BJP-RSS combine, popularly known as the sangh combine, have projected themselves as proponents of an akhand Bharat (Greater India), movers and shakers of Hindutva, and ultra-nationalists.

Imagine the surprise, when a national daily reports

Competitive politics will have some road-kills - like Sanjay Joshi. This cannot become a rationale for negative politics of Gujarati vs Marathi  |  Manjul's Cartoon: Narendra Modi removes Sanjay Joshi's posters on 6.10.2012Competitive politics will have some road-kills - like Sanjay Joshi. This cannot become a rationale for negative politics of Gujarati vs Marathi  |  Manjul's Cartoon: Narendra Modi removes Sanjay Joshi's posters on 6.10.2012

Competitive politics will have some road-kills – like Sanjay Joshi. This cannot become a rationale for negative politics of Gujarati vs Marathi | Manjul’s Cartoon: Narendra Modi removes Sanjay Joshi’s posters on 6.10.2012

For several weeks now that there is a grand Marathi versus Uttar Bharatiya divide a la Bal Thackeray and Raj Thackeray within the RSS and its organisational wings, with RSS sarsnaghchalak Mohan Bhagwat believing that north Indian leaders are skimming the cream for work really done by Maharashtrian pracharaks in various states that brought them to power (for example: Sanjay Joshi versus Narendra Modi in Gujarat).

That is why Gadkari is still supported by RSS leaders but he should know by now that this is a fight to the finish for leaders like LK Advani and Modi, who still hope to be prime minister.

It is very clear that the anti-Gadkari lobby in the BJP is trying to make the RSS’s position on their choice of BJP president unsustainable by the day and I wonder how long it will take for Reshim Bagh to cave in. But the pro-Advani-Modi lobbies in the BJP are making a serious mistake if they think a little thing like foot-in-the-mouth disease or some as yet unproven allegations, however serious they may appear, is going to deter Bhagwat from his chosen path So I would watch Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar rather closely – yes, the very same person who had called Advani a `rancid pickle’

via A season of gaffes – Hindustan Times.

This entire speculation gained credibility, when MG Vaidya, a unofficial spokesman of the RSS joined the debate weighing in on Gadkari’s side. Vaidya, the Nagpur-based ex-chief editor of Tarun Bharat, the RSS publication, in his Marathi-blog asserted that the anti-Gadkari campaign started in Gujarat.

Original Marathi text

एकाच व्यक्तीच्या एकाच वक्तव्यात, गडकरींनी जावे आणि मोदींना प्रधानमंत्री करावे, असे उल्लेख आल्यामुळे, गडकरीविरोधी कारस्थानाचे केंद्र गुजरातमध्ये आहे, असा संशय कुणाच्याही मनात येणे स्वाभाविक आहे आणि गुजरात म्हटले की, मग नरेंद्र मोदी यांच्याकडेच संशयाच्या सुईचे टोक जाणार.

Hindi Translation provided by the author /publication on the original blog.

एक ही व्यक्ति के एक ही वक्तव्य में, गडकरी जाए और मोदी को प्रधानमंत्री करें, ऐसा उल्लेख आने के कारण, गडकरी विरोधी षड्यंत्र का केन्द्र गुजरात में है, ऐसा संदेह मन में आना स्वाभाविक है और गुजरात कहने के बाद, फिर संदेह की उंगली नरेन्द्र मोदी की ओर ही मुडेगी.

via RSS Veteran MG Vaidya blog article on BJP issue: भाजपा की अ-स्वस्थता: मा. गो. वैद्य | Vishwa Samvada Kendra.

English reportage

In his blog, Vaidya has said the “needle of suspicion in the campaign against BJP president Nitin Gadkari points to Gujarat BJP and Chief Minister Narendra Modi.”

He also noted that “Ram Jethmalani had in one breath said he is seeking the resignation of Gadkari and that he also wanted to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister in 2014.”

While both L K Advani and Gadkari have publicly stated that they don’t have Prime Ministerial ambitions, Vaidya, a former spokesman of RSS, said he “hasn’t read anywhere that Narendra Modi has denied reports of his ambition to become the Prime Minister.”

Vaidya today stood by his remark, saying, “It is my opinion and because Jethmalani has combined two things demanding Gadkari’s resignation and making Narendra Modi as PM, I think that the needle of suspicion goes to Gujarat.

“I did not say that, I just said that needle of suspicion goes to Modi and that raises suspicion if Jethmalani is entitled to his own point of view, I am also entitled to my point of view and RSS has nothing to do with it.”

via Vaidya blames Modi for “campaign” against Gadkari.

Narendra Modi may be a great demon or a superb chief minister. That question for this discussion is irrelevant. However, if his candidature is being decided on the basis of Gujarati vs Marathi axis, RSS deserves much greater contempt than what they have got till date.


Bollywood Images of 65 Years of India’s Independence

How well Bollywood songs captured the mood of India.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Bollywood is sometimes a mirror that captured the prevailing mood of India, in a few lines, set to catchy tune, with crisp lyrics.

For a brief period between 1947-1957, a free India reversed many colonial legacies – laws, policies and systems. By late fifties and early sixties, the first flush freedom from colonialism wore out. The enormity of national reconstruction set in, many a heart sank with sheer enormity of the task. After the 1956 electoral challenge to the Congress, from 1957, began a statist-socialist advance.

Some despaired.

In darkness, some toiled

Did this despair spark the Mohammed Rafi song, ‘Chal ud je ray panchi, Yeh desh hua begaana, चल उड़ जा रे पंछी, के अब यह देस हुआ बेगाना. From Bhabhi (1957) – starring Balraj Sahni, Nanda, Jagdeep, Durga Khote et al. Music was Chitragupt and lyrics were Rajendra Krishan.

The interesting lines were:

ग़म न कर ग़म न कर जो तेरी मेहनत तेरे काम न आयी
अच्छा है कुछ ले जाने से देकर ही कुछ जाना
चल उड़ जा रे पंछी के अब यह देश हुआ बेगाना
चल उड़ जा रे पंछी

Gham Na Kar Gham Na Kar Jo Teri Mehnat Tere Kaam Na Aayi
Achha Hai Kuchh Le Jaane Se Dekar Hi Kuchh Jaana
Chal Ud Ja Re Panchhi Ke Ab Yeh Desh Hua Begaana
Chal Ud Ja Re Panchhi

(Translation-

Do not feel down that your hard work did not pay off
Better that you leave something behind rather take away something
Away, fly away small bird).

All pain, no glory

The logic for the increased role of the Indian State.

It was a stop gap measure for a longer-term movement towards freedom. As the acquisitive State advanced, in the dark night of slow economic growth, shortages, lack of signs of visible growth, the national mood was sombre.

Best captured by this song in Majboor – a 1974 Ravi Tandon film, with some fine lyrics by Anand Bakshi.

एक दिन बिगड़ी किस्मत सवर जायेगी, यह खुशी हमसे बचके किधर जायेगी
गम न कर ज़िन्दगी यु गुज़र जायेगी, रात जैसे गुज़र गयी सोते हुए
नहीं मैं नहीं देख सकता तुझे रोते हुए

ek din bigdi kismat savar jaayegi, yeh khushi humse bachke kidhar jaayegi
gum na kar zindagi yu guzar jaayegi, raat jaise guzar gayi sote hue
nahi main nahi dekh sakta tujhe rote hue

(Translation: –

Our fortunes, now marred, one day; soon will be all decked out,
Happiness will not escape from us,; Grieve not, for this phase in life will soon be over
This dark night too will pass in your untroubled sleep; I can not see you crying).

Then came the dawn

Twenty years later, after the 1977 electoral verdict, steps to decrease the role of state’s started becoming apparent. Aided significantly by a comfortable forex positiondue to Bombay High oil discovery.

A poster for Roti, Kapada aur Makaan  |  Image source & courtesy - do-while.com  |  Click for image.

A poster for Roti, Kapada aur Makaan | Image source & courtesy - do-while.com | Click for image.

I saw Roti, Kapda aur Makaan (1974) many decades ago. The one shot that I remember, that stuck to my mind like glue, was Amitabh doing dand-baithak – a pointless exercize where you go down on your haunches and stand up.

Usually meted as a punishment by an authority, figure, in the year of 1974, after the Oil Crisis, with a nation in shortages, with Bombay High yet to start giving dividends, it was tough times in India.

And Amitabh in that scene represented an Indian going through the motions – while it rebuilt itself. Cinematic history, if ever.

From 1977, the Indian State has ceded space to the people at an increasing pace. The 1991 PVN-MMS Liberalization was a sub-set in that movement.

As for the future, आगे का हाल पर्दे पर!

In the meantime, here is a fine piece of journalism, connecting two minor events of the 1970s-to-India-Now!

Read! Enjoy!

Political slogans often outpace reality. When Rajiv Gandhi was campaigning in the late 1980s, he liked to say “Mera Bharat Mahan [My India is Great].” A TV advertisement put the phrase to a catchy tune. But few Indians had TVs in those days and while millions appreciated the sentiment, not all believed it.

It makes more sense now. Sixty years after independence, India is beginning to deliver on its promise. Over the past few years the world’s biggest and rowdiest democracy has matched its political freedoms with economic ones, unleashing a torrent of growth and wealth creation that is transforming the lives of millions. India’s economic clout is beginning to make itself felt on the international stage, as the nation retakes the place it held as a global-trade giant long before colonial powers ever arrived there. That success may yet act as an encouragement to Pakistan and Bangladesh, still struggling to overcome longstanding questions around Islam’s role in their societies. (via Indian Summer – 60 Years of Independence – TIME).


Can Rahul Gandhi deliver for the Congress?

August 30, 2010 13 comments

The Nehru-Gandhi ‘dynasty’ has not connected to India in the last 40 years after India Gandhi – and it is not for lack of trying.

Rahul Gandhi's image management. Cartoon by Ajit Ninan;

Rahul Gandhi's image management. Cartoon by Ajit Ninan;

Does nurture work?

For a few years now, Rahul Gandhi’s political persona is being crafted in New Delhi. There is clear and conscious design behind this.

The trips to UP, a politically important state, the selective engagement with the Government, the complete lack of involvement with the Government are new ideas in political nurturing.

This लोक सेवा ‘lok seva’ and ‘power I dont want’ stance is being projected extensively.

Rules of the game

MJ Akbar captures this surreal political atmosphere in his recent post

Rahul Gandhi in the Hindi heart-belt. Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; cartoon courtesy http://bamulahija.wordpress.com

Rahul Gandhi in the Hindi heart-belt. Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; cartoon courtesy http://bamulahija.wordpress.com

It is axiomatic that a largely impoverished nation needs a political party that the poor can identify with. The Congress has set out to be the party of the poor in daytime, and of the rich at night. Its sunlight politics will fetch votes, its twilight policies will enable it to govern. This is an extremely clever act whose opening scenes are being played out for a new generation that is vague about Indira Gandhi and amnesiac about Nehru. The hero of this drama must have the charisma to dazzle the poor and the flexibility to keep the rich onside. That is the challenge before Rahul Gandhi. His avowed role is to be the guardian of the poor in Delhi, which means that the poor need protection from Delhi. He is at home with the elite in the in the evening and is now making the effort to capture the sunshine hours. (via Crown prince Rahul cannily turns left : India : M J Akbar : TOI Blogs).

Rahul Gandhi's image management. Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; 2009 May 08	in The Times Of India Bengaluru  |  Click for larger image.

Rahul Gandhi's image management. Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; 2009 May 08 in The Times Of India Bengaluru | Click for larger image.

The political apprenticeship of Rajiv Gandhi needed Indira’s Gandhi’s assassination to win an election. After that one singular victory, Rajiv was electorally ineffective and politically insignificant. Before Rajiv, his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi could not take on the Nehru mantle as his mother had done. Priyanka Vadra’s attempts at politics did not get the electoral traction that the Congress needed to win an election.

Rahul needs BJP’s help

If Rahul Gandhi succeeds, the single biggest reason may well be the BJP. Headless and clueless, BJP out of power, is a shell of BJP before coming into power.

Losing power can do some strange things to people.


Apply Gujarat riot case principle to Sikh riots case: PIL in SC – India – The Times of India

May 24, 2009 3 comments

A temporary setback to Tytler

A temporary setback to Tytler

A day after Supreme Court directed a Special Investigation Team probe into the alleged role of chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 post-Godhra communal carnage, a PIL sought to draw a parallel between the Gujarat riots and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots seeking parallel treatment by the judiciary.

The petition … said the Supreme Court has handled the Gujarat riot cases with singular motive to bring to book the alleged perpetrators of the mayhem and requested it to take up the hundreds of anti-Sikh riots cases pending in various courts for 25 years without there being any justice to the victims and their families.

The PIL, … was also categoric that pendency of the anti-Sikh riot cases for 25 years made a mockery of the criminal justice system that should equally protect the victims and the right of the accused for a speedy trial. (via Apply Gujarat riot case principle to Sikh riots case: PIL in SC – India – The Times of India ellipsis mine).

1984 anti-Sikh riots

1984 anti-Sikh riots

This PIL does raise some interesting questions in the minds of people I know (and dont know too!), Your Honour!

  1. Are Muslims ‘more equal’ than Sikhs?
  2. Is killing of Muslims by Hindus more heinous than Hindu killing of Sikhs? I am not raising the question of Sikhs and Muslims killing Hindus – for instance in Punjab and Kashmir!
  3. Does the fact that the 1984 killings happened under the very nose of the Supreme Court make it a ‘more understandable’ case?
  4. Is there a greater need to prove to the Muslim (world) that India cares – than to deliver justice to the Sikh population?
  5. The Muslims have many spokesmen in the international world – but the Sikhs have no one except (maybe) fellow Indians? Is the Honourable Supreme Court worried about international opinion more than the due process of law – which will dis-favour the Sikhs?
  6. Older cases should usually occupy the Honourable Court’s attention – rather than newer ones? The Honourable Court may need to explain why a newer case has been more favoured than the older one?
  7. Does the ‘noise’ level of a case create pressure on the Honourable Court?
  8. Does the size of the Muslim electorate have anything to do with this ‘activism’ – compared to the lesser Sikh Voters, leading to ‘passive’ justice?
The Sikhs have not seen justice for 25 years ...

The Sikhs have not seen justice for 25 years ...

The Indian Supreme Court is untainted by dubious legal precedents of the American Supreme Court.

The much vaunted ‘Western principle of equal in the eyes of law’ was given short shrift by the US Supreme Court in the Dredd Scott case – by which the slave forefathers of the modern African-Americans were barred from approaching American Courts. Similarly, in its wisdom, the US Supreme Court rubber stamped segregation between Whites and the African Americans by the Plessy vs. Ferguson verdict (1892). In yet landmark case, the US Supreme Court decided, (Myner v. Happerstett) that being a US citizen did not give women the right to vote. Finally, after more than 100 years of Women’s Suffrage Movement, the right to vote was given to the women in the US in 1924.

Such ‘differences’ in judicial treatment of similar cases dilutes the high standards of that the Indian Supreme Court has set for itself.

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