Archive for August, 2009

Will an RSS-run BJP be more vicious in future?

31 August 2009

unny

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: A quite extraordinary aspect of the supernatural implosion in the BJP is how the “disciplined party”—the democratic party with a difference—has dropped all pretence of being dictated to and directed by the half-pants of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

On paper, both sides claim that there is no formal link between the two outfits; that they are two very different entities, one a “cultural” organisation and the other its political apparition. In practice, though, as the events of the last fortnight demonstrate, the truth is known to the knicker lobby.

The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat gives an openly political interview on the eve of the BJP’s chintan baithak, which sets the agenda for the party’s post-poll introspection. He pitches his tent in Delhi where everybody from L.K. Advani to Rajnath Singh, and everybody else in between, grovels and genuflects before him in the full glare of the cameras.

The headlines all scream of the role the RSS is playing in drawing up a “succession plan”, its preferences, etc.

For the BJP and its supporters whose bread, butter and poha comes from deriding Congressmen for reverentially turning to 10 Janpath even to so much as sneeze, this—the parading of its earthy leaders before an unelected, unaccountable sarsangchalak—is a moment for their personal photo albums.

At least Sonia Gandhi is the president of the Congress, the convenor of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), and an elected member of Parliament. What could be the excuse of India’s “principal opposition party” to be at the mercy of a thrice-banned organisation whose pernicious ideology draws heavily from Adolf Hitler?

An equally important fallout of the events of the last fortnight is the penumbra of the RSS that now envelopes the BJP, and is only likely to grow and enlarge in the future at this rate.

The generally agreed consensus after the “nasty jolt” (Bhagwat’s words in the Times Now interview) in the 2009 elections was that the BJP had paid a price, among other things, for its exclusivist philosophy, its neglect of the minorities, its support for pumped-up communalism, etc.

If the RSS is going to play a significant role in deciding the BJP’s present and future formulation, and if it is seen to be so openly playing such a role,  will it help the BJP’s cause? Will it enlarge the BJP’s votebase? Will it make it more endearing to the young, the middle-classes and the urban voters, all of whom appeared to have abandoned it?

Or are we likely to see a more shrill, vicious and dangerous BJP than in the past?

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Kaminey is dead, but long live Vishal Bharadwaj

29 August 2009

CHETAN KRISHNASWAMY writes from Bangalore: Sparks of cinematic brilliance crackle in isolated bursts all through Vishal Bharadwaj’s  densely textured film Kaminey. Unfortunately, a rather dysfunctional script makes it stutter and stammer, much like its protagonist Guddu, and is ultimately unable to convey anything coherent to a bewildered audience.

The entire string of good and bad people in the film are after a guitar case, which carries a Rs 10 crore haul of cocaine. This includes two estranged brothers, Charlie and Guddu, superbly enacted by Shahid Kapoor.

Emotionally devastated by their father’s suicide as kids, the brothers embrace different paths. While the unscrupulous Charlie pulls his stunts in the race course, Guddu, who works for an NGO, fantasizes a corporate life, even as he constantly rummages his hovel in search of a condom to make love to his  randy girlfriend Sweety Bhope, played to perfection by Priyanka Chopra.

Guddu’s ambitions come to a grinding halt, when he realizes that a pregnant Sweety is the sister of a fanatical thug, who loathes the non-Maratha interlopers who have come into Bombay and appropriated what rightfully belongs to locals like him. That Guddu originally hails from Uttar Pradesh doesn’t help him either. Bhope’s sole aim is to get this upstart out of his sister’s life.

Charlie’s villainous propensities lead him to a hotel room where he subjects a double-crossing jockey to third degree methods to retrieve the lakh that he has lost in a bet.

A chain of events in the hotel room lead to Charlie escaping with the cocaine stash in the guitar box. From somewhere here,  Bhardwaj loses his grip, and like a severed plastic-kite buffeted by unruly winds, the film goes awry, until the gun-fire smothered climax decisively tears it asunder .

Like the famed Langdaa Tyaagi in Omkaara, Bhardwaj crafts his characters masterfully, endowing commonplace quirks and attributes that make them stand out in the unimpressive pantheon of Bollywood caricatures. But the rich characterization alone fails to hold sway and save the disastrous film.

Reinforcing Bharadwaj’s creative sensibilities is the film’s musical score. Exceptional and completely unusual, it pounds into you, drawing you into the vortex of a searing, pulsating rhythm. Gulzar’s colloquial lyrics add to the magic.

However, Bhardwaj cannot  be brushed away as a “faltering filmmaker” or “as the most overrated director of the nineties”. His stylistic embellishments and ability to inject novelty and anticipation into the most  humdrum of scenes is a talent that is rare: almost reminiscent in grandeur of the legendary Gabbar scene in Sholay. There is evidence of this in certain sequences in Kaminey.

Bhardwaj, like Anurag Kashyap, belongs to that radical new crop of filmmakers who specialize in what I would call the ‘shock & awe’  genre.  The audience is instinctively repulsed by the many stark facets of this brand of intelligent, layered film-making , but eventually relates to it. The trappings of commercial cinema actually making them more palatable than the contrived arty-types.

Probably, there is an element of self-obsession in these films, but which piece of creative work isn’t? Distinctiveness is the hallmark of all great works.  But Kaminey by no means is a great work. Moreover, the non-linear, kaleidoscopic narrative, at times swathed in dull, fading monochrome, makes Kaminey a difficult film to watch.

Kaminey falls flat on its face but Vishal Bharadwaj needn’t worry: his credentials are intact.

Also read: Thank god, one critic thinks Kaminey is crap

Kamal Hassan: Conceited, egotistical, narcissistic. The greatest?

A hit, yes, but why does Rajnikanth have such a hold?

Bonus read: 9+1 ways of identifying a US-returned techie

If this is how they treat you, Oh Lord, save us

29 August 2009

KPN photo

The brave soldiers who have pledged their lives to preventing disrespect to Hinduism—the selfless activists of the Bajrang Dal—give Lord Ganesha a respectful farewell in Raichur on Friday.

Photograph: Santosh Sagar/ Karnataka Photo News

Also read: If cleanliness is next to godliness, God forgive us

When Gajanana meets the JCB on Chowpatty

One child per family, one Ganesh idol per colony?

The delightful feminism behind Ganesha’s birth

A 21-gun cross-border salute for the (retd.) major

29 August 2009

Its dream of an Akhand Bharat may forever remain a dream, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has managed, in a manner of speaking, to keeps folks laughing on both sides of the border.

The Pakistani qawal singer, Bankay Mian, pays compliment to Jaswant Singh.

Koi to hai joh wahan hamare tarane gaa riya hai/ Hamare badon ko wahan yaad kiya jaa riya hai/ Naam hai uska Jaswant Singh aur fan hai who Quaid-e-Azam ka,

Quaid-e-Azam ke peeche usne wahan phatta bol le liya hai/ Isi chakkar main uski party ke thekedaron ne use ghar jaane ka nyota de diya hai,

To Jassu Bhaiyya aap toh ab zara Bankay Mian ki aake qawwali sun le/Aur apne apne naam ki 21 gunon ki salami sun le.”

‘J’ Virus is just biological warfare to weaken BJP’

28 August 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I met the Ace Political Expert (APE) after a long time.

He was taking his morning walk in Cheluvamba Park. When we settled on one of the reclining benches, he took out a flask and offered me a health drink—a kind of kashaya—which was a concotion of vegetables and roots crushed and beaten to death in his 5-speed mixer.

APE had been missing in his daily rounds for quite sometime. He told me he had been to the Institute of Virology in Poona for a short-term course on ‘Flus and communicable diseases. I quietly moved to the edge of the bench when I heard he had just come back from Poona.

I wanted to know from APE why BJP was hell bent on self-destruction.

“We have to go back a while to understand why this is happening. All this started when Advaniji went to Pakistan and praised Mohammed Ali Jinnah,” started off APE.

“What was wrong with that?”

“You don’t get it, do you, Ramu? That was the first time the Jinnah Bug bit a Hindu politician, that too a staunch BJPite. The fever wouldn’t die down try as he did. I thought he would not survive the deadly virus but he did except it left him with a bit of selective amnesia!”

“What has happened now?” I asked.

“A replapse. The same virus with a different strain ‘Jinnah II’ has come back to haunt, afflict, maim and kill politicians of his party. This may be Pakistan’s biological attack to weaken India.”

This was alarming.

“What are you implying?”

“Look. Jaswant Singh was a popular no-nonsense leader, his booming voice striking terror amongst friends if not among foes as Kandahar showed. The Jinnah Virus made his hands itchy to write a book which was enough for the deadly virus to suck his blood out. Before we could say ‘Jaswant-Hostages-Kandahar’ he was down and out.  It is an extreme form of ‘J Flu'; it killed him politically but gave him lot of wealth; he is still laughing all the way to his bank with his raucous laughter.”

“Who else are the likely victims?”

“Well, there’s Arun Jaitley, M.M. Joshi and Rajnath Singh himself. All names, mind you, with ‘J’ in them. Look, even Vasundhara Raje was not spared.”

I was really surprised the way APE was combining his new found knowledge on viruses and flus to analyse the BJP travails.

“Is there any hope left for the BJP,” I asked.

“There is no BJP as you and I knew. BJP is now “Bharatiya Jinnah Party” and that is why we can say it is on a suicide mission!”

“What else can Pakistan do?”

He dragged me close to him, looked around and whispered in my ears.

“Pakistan is likely to release a ‘Godse Virus’ soon. Hands of all patients struck with ‘G Virus’ will start itching and they will start praising Godse in their books and talk shows and run down leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose and Vallabhbhai Patel. Then it is a matter of time before they are expelled from the Congress party. The Godse Virus like the Jinnah Virus will pick names that have a ‘G’ like Ghulam Nabhi Azad, M.S. Gill, M.K. Azhagiri, Mallikarjuna Kharge et al. I feel even Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi will be vulnerable to this attack.”

My cup of juice was empty but my knowledge on political viruses was full. When I reached home, not only did I wash my hands, I had a bath in Dettol soap as well to drive away the APE virus.

22 ways to smile in a blaze of earthy colours

28 August 2009

KPN photo

North vs South, desi vs videsi, Bombay vs Delhi, English vs bhasha, urban vs rural, Carnatic vs Hindustani, Bollywood vs every other wood… to all the usual debates, you can add another: our clothes vs theirs.

In Dharwad, students of the Sri Satya Sai institute of home sciences wear Ilkal sarees en masse while members of Ladies Circle International take part in a friendship walk in Bangalore on Thursday.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Take another look at the paddler on the left

27 August 2009

KPN photo

A good swami doesn’t hesitate from swimming against the tide. Sri Shivamurthy Murugarajendra sharanaru, the pontiff of the 350-year-old Sri Murugha Mutt, joins other seers and tourists for a round of white water rafting at Barapole near Mercara on Thursday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Should editors & journalists declare their assets?

27 August 2009

Candidates have to declare their assets and liabilities before the elections in a sworn affidavit. Bureaucrats do too, and there is the Lok Ayukta to keep a watch over them. And now Supreme Court judges have joined the ranks of those voluntarily declaring their income.

If they don’t, the media will cry hoarse till they do.

But what about journalists? Should they declare their moveable and immoveable properties, and those of their nearest kin every year, especially given the mind-numbing stories of individual and institutional corruption emanating from the highest levels of the English and language media?

In a recent column, Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta attacked India’s green brigade, calling them “the most retrograde in the history of makind”, and accusing them of stalling the kind of moves the nation has to make to stride forward.

The political scientist Aditya Nigam, a fellow at the Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), has gone for the jugular on the website Kafila.

Nigam writes:

“…It is equally common knowledge that increasingly opinion makers in the media—editors and senior journalists in particular—are known to be making huge amounts of extra income (and other forms of assets like free shares, houses and so on) from sources other than those provided by their employment.

“This self important and self-righteous tribe of people in contemporary India who think they are above every body else and cannot open their mouths without a claiming a moral high ground, also needs to be made accountable.

“We are not suggesting that any particular person is in the pay of anybody else—even though the grapevine has innumerable stories to that effect—of the ultimate moral corruption of most mediapersons. But surely when opinions are expressed as ‘disinterested’ and ‘objective’, the public must have the right to know whether these opinions are actually disinterested. And what better way can there be when politicians have to disclose their incomes, and we are calling upon judges as well to follow suit, that we also demand the same of editors and mediapersons.”

Read the full article: ‘Editors and journalists must declare their assets’

Also read: ‘Owners, editors owning Indian journalism ransom’

In prosperous Gujarat, everybody can buy the media

Pyramid Saimira, Tatva, and Times Private Treaties

Free, frank, fearless? No, grubby, greedy, gutless

If cleanliness is next to godliness, god forgive us

26 August 2009

KPN photo

Two years ago, Sudheendra Kulkarni, the Belgaum-born, Kannada-speaking IITian-journalist who became an advisor to both Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lalchand Kishinchand Advani before leaving the BJP last week, wrote these lovely lines in the Indian Express:

“One way of understanding India is to understand our festivals. They tell us about India’s civilisational continuity… Each of our festivals represent mythology’s leap into modern times, an epic’s entry into our lives.

“Our festivals tell us about the importance of thanksgiving to the Creator. They tell us how to discover happiness, harmony and life’s meaning in ourselves and in our relationship with others, with nature, with the cosmos.”

Looking at this picture of workers of the Brihan Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) cleaning a pond inside Ulsoor Lake of the excesses of Ganesha Habba, in Bangalore on Wednesday, you wonder.

About our civilisational continuity.

About our leap into modern times.

About how we say thanks to the Creator.

About how we relate with nature.

About, well, everything.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: One man’s suffering is another man’s sacrifice

Periyanna has some advice for the Chinna Thambi

26 August 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: They met again, sans sidekicks and other official paraphernalia at Ulsoor Lake.

They were not exactly incognito, but nobody recognized them. The elder man, instead of Chennai Super Kings yellow, wore a red and yellow mundu in honour of his partner. The younger one had dressed in his usual spotless white safari suit but had a pair of dark goggles on him.

The elder person was seated on the wheel chair which the youngster manoeuvred with alacrity.

After going round the Thiruvalluvar statue, they parked the wheel chair next to a reclining bench facing the lake.

As they sat, a vendor came hailing ‘Maanga, Thenga, Batani Shundal!’ instead of the usually heard ‘Chukkli, kodubale’ in other parts of Bangalore. They bought two packets for which the host paid.

Periyanna! How is the shundal?’ asked chinna thambi.

Thambi! It is just like what I get on Marina beach. Pramadam!”

After chewing the shundal to his satisfaction, Periyanna continued, “These goggles suit you very well. I didn’t know your size, but it fits you very well. You look like our Rajni.”

“I thought you had donated your goggles to me! Thanks Anna. By the way we sent Rajni to you, remember!”

They munched in silence for a while.

Then Periyanna opened up.

Thambi! The main reason why I dashed to Banglur is, I want to go ahead and complete the Hogenakal project. Please make sure your Karave, Jaya Karnatakam and others don’t create any disturbance at the site.”

This was a bombshell for Chinna Thambi.

Periyanna! Hogenakal is a part of Karnataka and I have already said I will never compromise with regard to our ‘Nela-Jala-Bhashe’ on any account. Sorry, Periyanna. You can ask for anything else.”

Thambi, Yedi. Hoge is smoke or Poge. Kal is stone. You will not break your promise if Hogenakkal comes to Tamil Nadu. By the way how is our Kolandai?”

Kolandai yaaru, Periyaana? I didn’t get you.”

Namba kolandai Rakavendra!”

“Oh, my son Raghavendra! He is fine. Thanks for enquiring about him.”

Thambi Yedi… It looks you are not interested in his future.”

Chinna Thambi froze like a statue.

“Why do you say that, Periyanna? I have just made him an MP from Shimoga.”

“I don’t know where Shimoga is and what poor Rakavendra is doing there. If you want him to come up in life, get him to Banglur and keep him with you. Make him mayor of Banglur or minister for urban development or something like that. Let him start a campaign like ‘Singara Chennai’ or what you say in Kannadam, ‘Sundara Banglur’? I put Stalin thro’ all this and now see where he is. He is my deputy. Do it quickly otherwise it will be too late and he will be lost in Delhi heat or Shimoga mosquitoes. Thambi… you have to be fast in these things. Otherwise in Karnatakam some ‘appa, ‘ayya or Gowda will grab the throne from you and our Raku will miss his chance.”

Romba thanks, Periyanna, for your timely advice! I will ask him to resign his MP seat and stand for some by-election for MLA.”

Thambi Yedi! You have to learn these things from Madam or your own Deve Gowda. Ask the Ulsoor MLA to resign.  I will ensure Thiruvalluvar helps Rakavendra get elected from Ulsoor!”

“Thanks a lot, Periyanna. I will never forget your advice.”

“You are my Chinna Thambi. We are one family. Hope you don’t have succession headaches that I have. So do it quickly, OK?  I should be leaving now. By the way, I will change the name of Hogenakkal to ‘Pogenakkal’. Nobody will object to this. Na varen. Parkalaam.”

Parkalaam, Periyanna,” said, a happy Chinna Thambi.

The weft and weave behind the crown that fits

25 August 2009

KPN

With the Ramzan month rolling into Muslim rolodexes, it is time to shop for the fez that fits. In Shivajinagar in Bangalore on Tuesday, a young customer tries one on for size—and style.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Is the BJP so weak that journalists can damage it?

25 August 2009

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Former Indian Express editor Arun Shourie‘s explosive interview with the paper’s current editor, Shekhar Gupta, while revealing the deep schisms within the BJP, has also once again thrown light on the less-than-professional role political journalists have been playing.

For the second time in two months, Shourie targetted “The Gang of Six”—a pack of half-of-dozen journalists who, says the Magsaysay Award winning investigative journalist, have been used (abused? misused?) by various different sections of the BJP.

On Gupta’s Walk the Talk interview for NDTV on Monday, Shourie said his letter to the BJP president Rajnath Singh demanding accountability in running the party had been dubbed as an act of indiscipline even though that letter had remained confidential.

There were leaders, he says:

“…who had been planting stories against L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and others through six journalists (and yet it’s not called indiscipline)”.

At the BJP’s national executive meeting in mid-June, shortly after the party suffered a “nasty jolt” in the general elections, Shourie had gone so far as to say that “the BJP was being run by six journalists” who were “damaging the party interest“.

On both occasions, Shourie hasn’t named “The Gang of Six”, but by repeatedly talking about them has set tongues wagging.

However, the questions remain: is the BJP so feeble a party to be felled by  mere pen-pushers? If BJP leaders are using them to “plant” stories against one another, are the journalists exceeding their brief by allowing themselves to be used?

Is ex-editor Shourie sanctimoniously crying wolf or is this par for the course in other parties too? Are editors and publishers of the publications where the “Gang of Six” work aware of their journalists being so used?

And if so, is it OK?

Photograph: courtesy IBN Live

Also read: Don’t laugh: do journalists make good politicians?

The sad and pathetic decline of Arun Shourie

Shekhar Gupta: No better time to enter journalism than now

Thank God, one critic thinks ‘Kaminey’ is crap

25 August 2009

kaminey_02

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: Vishal Bharadwaj‘s latest film Kaminey has quarantined “film critics” suffering from “Fine Flu” to a port called Tizzy on a ship called INS Conformism.

Stars are being handed out in reviews as if the milky way is soon going to run out of them. Sugary-sweet profiles of the director are being blithely churned out without a health warning for diabetics. And the name of “the most overrated director of the nineties” is being been loosely hissed along side that of the boy from Meerut.

Have Indian film critics/reviewers become so starved of good stuff that they have lost the ability to judge a bad movie when it hits them between the eyeballs, asks Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr, in a DNA opinion piece titled “A pretentious film bambozles critics”.

Parsa writes that for all its hype, all Kaminey has are the stereotypical elements of a regular commercial film, but Bharadwaj makes a meal of it, turning it into a comical spaghetti-gangster film which our “intellectual rookies” can’t even spot.

“Good filmmakers are not conscious of their art. By that criterion, Vishal Bharadwaj does not make the grade….

“A handful of critics who make and mar cinematic reputations. That is why it becomes so important to challenge the assumptions of an existing group of critics who declare some filmmakers and some films to be of great importance….

“People who write and talk about cinema have started shouting that filmmakers like Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap (Dev D), Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (Rang De Basanti, Delhi 6) are the new rebels who are subverting commercial cinema in a meaningful fashion.

“The critics’ verdict is patently untrue because these filmmakers remain on the margins. Popular taste refuses to be moulded by the self-appointed arbiters of taste. That is why it is so necessary to call the bluff of the critics when they anoint faltering filmmakers like Bhardwaj as the masters of cinema.”

Read the full article: A pretentious film bamboozles critics

Also read: ‘Bollywood: India’s most moronic cultural export’

‘Bollywood’s a scam. Farah Khan is a big, fat con’

Adoor: Do only Bollywood beauties possess glamour?

Mammootty: Is Hindi cinema Indian cinema?

ARUN SHOURIE POLL: Oracle or opportunist?

25 August 2009

In the cesspool that is Indian politics, Arun Shourie has lobbed a giant pebble in the stinking swamp that is the Bharatiya Janata Party. It could sink without a trace or it could throw muck all over his face.

The BJP’s resident intellectual for all matters requiring “an IQ of more than 60” has, with his trademark ability to mix metaphors, likened the party to a kite without a string, called its president Rajnath Singh “Alice in Blunderland” when not calling him Tarzan, and talks of Humpty-Dumpty.

Without mustering the courage to mention the name Lalchand Kishinchand Advani, Shourie says he sees no one in the party who have authority owing to involvement in cases like the cash-for-query scam.

# Shourie wants the RSS to “bombard the party headquarters” and replace the top BJP leadership with 10-15 nominees of its choice.

# Shourie wants radical transformation in the BJP: “My prescription is jhatka (one swift execution) not halal (slow execution). Saare, saare (lock, stock and barrel).”

# Shourie says the BJP is being treated as a private property, and any criticism of the party was completely walled out and not discussed.

And at the same time, Shourie’s gaze unwaveringly remains fixed on the “Gang of Six”—the half-a-dozen journalists who, he claims, had been planting stories against Advani, Singh and others.

The BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy has said Shourie was doing all this because his Rajya Sabha term is about to end and the BJP had nothing to offer as it was out of power:

“This is the problem with admitting people into the party who are apolitical. They want to have the cake when you are in power.”

Another spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad says this was wholly unexpected of Shourie who had been given two terms and even made a Union minister.

Questions: Is Shourie right about the BJP, or is the BJP right about Shourie? Is Shourie telling the truth or is he, like in his articles, being selective in his interpretation of facts? Is Shourie wise in advocating a political role for the RSS or is he being a bit of an opportunist by staying on the extreme right side of the fence?

Also read: Even a paper tiger roars when the ship starts leaking

Don’t laugh: Do journalists make good politicians?

The sad and pathetic decline of Arun Shourie

How Chandan Mitra has his halwa and hogs it too

Once upon a habba, idol worship of a chindi kind

25 August 2009

B.S.NAGARAJ writes from New Delhi: Once upon a time, in the year of the lord 1975, as part of their Noorondu Ganesha (Ganesha 101) peregrination, two little boys ventured into a house in Rajajinagar in Bangalore, asking: “Ree, Ganapati koorsideera? (Are you celebrating Ganesha Habba?)”

Howdu, banni,” said the lady of the house and let them in.

After a perfunctory dive at the feet of the elephant-faced deity, the boys looked around furtively and finally one of them made brave to ask: “Auntie, Vishwanath idhara?”

At which the lady burst out laughing: “Oh, adhakka bandhirodhu neevu… (Is that why you have come?)”

One of the two boys was me and my idol, Gundappa Ranganath Vishwanath, was not at home.

How disappointing!

Vishy’s mother was, however, kind enough to let us see all the medals and trophies he had won. And that was indeed my sweetest “habba”. That is perhaps the only time I may have invoked God to attain my goal.

Venka and I discussed our secret adventure on that Ganesha habba day for months after that. Very often it would be centered around the great counterfactual question: What if?

“What if Vishwanath had been at home?”

***

There were hundreds of others in school and in our locality who were die-hard Vishy fans, but with one brief adventure we had stolen a headstart over all of them. But it was not all hunky-dory.

Vishy’s fans were invariably pitted against another group—though not numerically as strong—which idolised Sunil Gavaskar.

The verbal duels sometimes used to terminate in fisticuffs.

Each of us knew that both Vishy and Sunny were cricketers of great stature, but never admitted it openly. “Sumne kut-thane, batting kayithane, (he just potters around, wants to hog the strike)” we would say of Gavaskar, while they would retort, “all style, no runs” about our idol.

Vishy’s trademark squarecuts became a mantra of sorts for me to hold my own against my idol’s critics. But sometimes the tables were turned on me…

I could not understand why others in the family failed to see his prowess, when they teased me about his “stylish 16’ or whatever low-score he had been unfortunate enough to come up with in a match.

I would retire hurt and angry with the world.

I realise now, they were only pulling my leg for being such a fierce and ardent fan.

I was only 12 then, but old enough to catch a BTS bus from Rajajinagar to the Chinnaswamy stadium (or KSCA stadium as it used to be called then) to watch day 4 and day 5 of the first-ever Test that was played in Bangalore in 1974.

Season tickets were prohibitive but a miracle happened.

My school, Carmel School in Rajajinagar, announced that it would show the telecast of the match in school. Of course there was no TV then–it was some sort of a trial—I can’t remember exactly.

A black and white TV had been installed. The ticket for all five days of telecast was just Rs 5. Of course I bought it. Not just me, my mother, sisters, cousins and uncles watched the match by turns.

In fact, every kid’s parents turned up in school to watch the match.

The only match involving an international side that I had watched—only for a few hours—before this was a three-day match between England and South Zone at the Central College grounds.

***

As I entered high school and then college, visits to the Chinnaswamy stadium increased. Not just to watch the Ranji matches and the Tests, but even league cricket matches.

First division league teams had a generous sprinkling of Ranji and Test stars and included the likes of Vishy, B.S. Chandrashekar, Syed Kirmani, Roger Binny, B. Raghunath, Sudhakar Rao, et al. The league had excellent cricketers who played for teams like BUCC, FUCC, SBI, SBM and Syndicate Bank.

Entry to these matches was free and it was here that I got to watch the stars in action and from the pavilion stands!

On one such occasion, my friend Ramesh (he is no more now) and I spotted a lonely figure in the stand next to the pavilion. There was not a single soul around except for the three of us.

After a second glance, both of us turned to each other excitedly and asked: “Isn’t that Gavaskar?”

He had very recently scored his 29th century and equaled Sir Don Bradman’s world record.

We gingerly approached Sunny and when he acknowledged our presence, we engaged him in a brief conversation. I remember congratulating him on his record. I asked him why he was watching a club match. He said he had come to the KSCA on some work and had stopped for a while.

For us, it was a golden moment.

In those times, these club matches were a great draw with the crowd sometimes in hundreds. We would first check out the car park to see if Vishy’s Fiat was there. And if the Fiat with “Vishy” in gold metallic lettering stood, our excitement would soar.

We would also gape at the car for a while with admiration, supposedly a ‘gift’ from his soon-to-be brother-in-law, Sunil Gavaskar.

Ah, those were the times when every square cut, googly, catch and stumping was analysed, eulogized or thrashed, with match and date etched in memory.

I remember our hushed discussions, where each tried to outdo the other with precious trivia: “Vishy and Sunny do not buy their bat from here and there. The makers of SS Jumbo make it for them as per their specifications.”

Then there was that Test match in 1978 with the West Indies in that six-match boring series—most of the Windies stars like Sir Viv Richards, Andy Roberts and Clive Lloyd, were away playing the rebel Packer league in Australia.

It was at this time that Vishy’s Rajajinagar ground floor house had added another floor. Friends who stayed close to his house came up with the “fact” that Vishy had hosted a party on the newly constructed first floor for the two teams and that it had gone on till early in the morning.

I have stood gazing at the coveted first floor of the house imagining the presence of Vishy, Sunny and all the others.

***

Watching the stars in flesh and blood in the stadium was no doubt a different experience altogether. I used to set out with a plastic wire butti–one dabba chitranna, and one dabba mosaranna—packed in it.

The hostile bag-handle invariably cut into my fingers and wishing to keep my burden light, I rejected the water bottle telling my worried Mom: “Alle kuditheeni (I’ll drink there itself).”

Except that I sat glued to the hot (uncovered) gallery space all through the day. Leaving the perch for a sip of water was too risky. What if someone else took my vantage position?

As the sun beat down on me, I would gobble up the food and relax in a semi-sleepy state during lunch time—my throat parched after keeping up the chant, “Vishwa, Vishwa” all morning.

As young boys with sharp ears, we were some times privy to conversations on the ground. That was the time when cricket clothing was giving way to the new, from the classic creamish-white flannel.

Trousers with an elastic waistbands were beginning to be used.

I remember Vishy telling a teammate, “Eethara pant haako,” pulling the pant back and forth from his midriff to demonstrate the comfort.

Another memory, somewhat painful, is that of my hero losing form.

There was a lot of loose talk in the late seventies about Vishy’s drinking excesses. The discussion in the katte was how Vishy used to drive to the Golden Gate Bar near the ESI hospital, Rajajinagar and stack up the car’s rear seat with bottles.

Of course, I did not believe a word of it.

This became a stick in the hands of Sunny fans, led by Ashok Kulkarni, my friend from Nijalingappa College, to beat us with.

Our revenge came with that infamous episode when Gavaskar batted left-handed in a display of an extremely poor gamesmanship in a Ranji Trophy semi-final between Karnataka and Bombay.

Yes, we hung on to every word, spoken and printed, about cricket. So did thousands of boys my age.

A scrap-book that drew heavily from Sportstar and Sportsworld centrespreads was every boy’s passion. We took pains to locate an “SW-3″ transistor (short wave radio with three bands) to hear commentaries of matches played in Australia and sat up all night to listen to those of matches played in the West Indies (Tony Cozier was a great favourite).

Those were the days when people literally walked miles for the game. In 1978, I emerged from the Chinnaswamy stadium on the fourth day of the India-West Indies test to learn that Indira Gandhi had been arrested in the afternoon, even while the match was on.

There had been some stone-pelting and violence outside and prohibitory orders had been clamped.

A direct bus from Shivajinagar to Vijayanagar where we had shifted to from Rajajinagar was available only once in two hours, even in normal times. I quietly joined the sea of people making its way home through Cubbon Park to my reach my home, a good 10 km away, savouring the memories of the day’s game, even if the cricket that was played was not the best by any measure.

The last day of that match, if my memory serves me right, was called off.

Today, several years later I wonder if boys go visiting homes to see “Noorondu Ganeshas”—going around to get the darshan of 101 Ganesha idols. I consider myself lucky to have done so in my childhood, if not for anything but only to enter the sanctum sanctorum  of one of my all-time favourite cricket idols.

Also read: From Bhadravathi, the Bhimsen Joshi of cricket

The man who inspired the finest English passage on Karnataka

B.S Chandrashekar on Gundappa Vishwanath

Sunil Gavaskar: the most petulant cricketer ever?

Sunaad Raghuram: Once upon a time, on the other side of midnight

Alfred Satish Jones: The madagoo academy of cricket

Why namma Gopi (almost) cried in January 2008

24 August 2009

prashna

For news photographers life is one endless “assignment”. The ticking timepiece, the pressure to capture ‘The Moment better than the others on the beat, the boxing for space between “video” and “still”, leave little room for reflection, even less for poetry.

In staff-strapped Indian media houses, the sublime and the ridiculous—ministerial visits, seminars, crime scenes, “human interest”, celebrity photocalls, accidents, book releases, quarterly results, cricket matches—all jostle for equal attention.

Amateurs and shamateurs have discovered their ways of dealing with the pressures. The coscientious and professional keep their head above the water by organising themselves, by keeping personal emotions out, and by not getting overly sentimental.

In February 1989, K. Gopinathan (in picture, left), then as now, a world-class news photographer with his heart in the right place, received word that a baby abandoned the day after her birth, had been given shelter seven months later by a children’s home in Bangalore aptly named Ashraya.

“My first glimpse of the infant was a shock: a sweet-looking baby minus arms and legs. Suddenly I was battered by all sorts of feelings. I cried in my heart: “God, why did you punish this beautiful child?” I then pushed aside my emotions prepared for the shoot. That was when she looked at the camera directly, raising her torso as if to assert herself: “This is me! This is what I am!”

Gopi’s picture, frontpaged in the undivided Indian Express under T.J.S. George, attracted the attention of an American single-parent, Catherine Cox, who came forward to adopt her, named her Minda Cox, and took her to the United States.

***

19 years later, in January last year, Gopi, now the chief photographer of The Hindu in Bangalore, heard that mother and daughter were in Bangalore for the silver jubilee reunion of its adopted children.

In an article on The Hindu website to mark World Photography Day, Gopinathan describes the surreality of the experience:

“I looked around, foolishly, for a baby without limbs, not realising she was a young woman now…. Amidst much clapping and cheering, I was introduced as the first person to have taken her picture.

“She beckoned to me, grabbed my hand and held it under her chin. By now I was choking with emotion and parallely I was conscious of the fact that I had not shed a single tear when my father died.”

Then began a quest to hunt for Minda Cox’s biological parents, which Gopi documented magnificently with Divya Gandhi here, here and here.

The search took them to Kolekebailu, 30 km from Manipal on the west coast of India, to the village of Kalavathi and Shankar Shetty.

“As we neared the village, we saw villagers lining both sides of the road…. The crowd was getting restive and I had a tough time convincing them they would get their turn to see Minda. One man repeatedly tried to sneak in and I asked him exasperatedly why he was in hurry.

“‘I am her father, Sir,’ came the reply.”

mindaRead the full article: No more a question mark

Photographs: courtesy K. Gopinathan/ The Hindu

Also read: Bunt bird who soared from Manipal to Missouri

The 2008 India Press Photo award-winning picture

How a world-class yoga photograph was shot

In a democracy, prince and pauper beg together

The delightful feminism behind Ganesha’s birth

23 August 2009

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Ganesh Chathurthi aka Ganesha Habba invokes the usual reverential cliches from devotees—remover of obstacles, provider of solace, omen of good hope, etc. The media, too, can scarcely go beyond amplifying the established caricature of a playful and potbellied but elastic l’il fella.

USHA K.R., the Bangalore-based writer whose book A Girl and a River won the Crossword Prize in 2007 and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize last year, provides a welcome (feminist) edge to the debate, in Deccan Herald:

“When I grew older and outgrew my childhood need for instant gratification and entered the world of ideas and ideology, I was delighted to find Feminism right in my backyard — the Feminist twist to the creation of Ganesha was most satisfying. Here was Parvati indulging in the most homely of activities, having a bath, and she needed someone to guard the door to her inner chambers while she bathed. And who could be more trustworthy to perform this task than her own son. So, combining the resourcefulness and the literal mind of a housewife with the nonchalance of a Goddess, she brought forth a child from her own body. No natal complications here — she simply scraped off the dirt and the sweat and the pre-bath unguents she had plastered over herself, and fashioned a little boy as if out of plasticine. Then, she breathed life into him and set him by her door, asking him not to let anyone in till she was done. And the boy did just that, with a single mindedness and valour that would bring a secret gladness to every mother’s heart.

“When Shiva arrived just then, after his many wanderings, (with the unerringly bad sense of timing that husbands have, even when they are Gods) and demanded to be let into his wife’s inner chambers, the boy said, Who are you? I recognise only my mother! But I am the Lord of the World, Shiva begged. Nobody says no to me. At which the boy reached for his weapons.

“When Parvati emerged from her bath, she found the world a-tremble, her lord perspiring, stretched in battle, while her newly-born son lay beheaded on the ground. What have you done, she cried. Restore my son to life at once. At which Shiva, instead of saying — What son? Pray how did you come by an eight-year-old so suddenly — was immediately contrite and sent his assistants in haste to return with the first life form that crossed their path.

“They came back with the head of an elephant (Shiva, of course, gave the elephant a new head, as my mother was always careful to tell me) which was fixed on the boy’s head, and there sprang to life Ganesha! But he looks so funny, people will laugh at my son, Parvati persisted, pushing her luck. Then I will make sure he is worshipped first, before all other Gods, Shiva, the good husband, said. And to make sure, he decreed that Ganesha would be Vighneshwara, the remover of obstacles, who would have to be propitiated first, before people ventured on anything.”

Read the full article: Bringing home hope

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News; The Hindu

Also read: What’s in a name? What’s in a set of initials?

Once upon a time, Govinda, Venky, Seshu, Gundu

21 August 2009

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MADHU GOPINATH RAO writes from New York City: August brings back fond memories.

Memories of life when things were simple and black and white, a time when money was scarce but happiness wasn’t; a time that seems like an era bygone.

Memories of a place where summers of carefree abandon followed frenzied study months. Where small happiness filled the air. Of a place, that seems so close to More‘s Utopia every time I look back. Of a place that is best described by Jagjit Singh‘s “…magar mujh ko lauta do bachpan ka sawan, woh kaagaz ki kashti, woh baarish ka paani…

A place called childhood.

***

My childhood in Malleshwaram was replete with fun and activities. In the early 1980s, Malleshwaram was the place to be. Malleshwaram was your quintessential Bangalore, distilled. It was a microcosm of the bigger city it belonged to. It had the good and the bad with a vast grey of a middle.

One such grey was our Swimming Pool Extension, a middle-class neighborhood.

In this grey, friends were aplenty. A group of 20+ kids bubbled to life like clockwork every evening. For the next two hours, a game that was the flavour of the season would enthrall the kids and onlookers alike.

Gultoria, Goli, Tikki, Kings, soccer and other games made a grand entry in their respective seasons, only to fade like a flash in the pan, paving the way for the king—cricket. Cricket ruled the roost.

The only exception to that rule, was the July-August season, a season when something dearer stumped cricket: Ganesha Habba (festival).

***

For reasons unknown, in our SP Extn’s 5th cross, we had given up on celebrating the street version of the festival. Our cricketing rivals from the 4th cross, fondly called “Pakistan”, had pulled a fast one a year before by celebrating the festival in a small way.

We were under pressure.

After a few days’ worth of discussion, the older boys decided that the economics did not add up and we would not go ahead with it. Alternate views were quelled and suggestions met with insults.

I was 9, my friend Venky 10, and Seshu 11. We were the juttus in the group, your typical aatakke untu lekkakke illa (insignificants). While Seshu and I did well to supress our disappointment, Venky opened his big mouth. Little Venky wanted us to celebrate the festival and he would not have it any other way. As expected he was promptly made to shut up by a few untraceable mild slaps to the back of his head—dharamada yetu.

His ego hurting more than his head, Venky ended up on the opposite compound where ‘TakunGovinda was sitting alone in protest as well.

Takun‘, as he was called, had realized just a day ago that Takun was actually Kun-Ta spelt backwards.

Kunta, in Kannada, is a limp. Govinda had a noticeable limp in his walk due to a polio-afflicted leg. Naturally, he was angry and hurt. He had a point to prove; a reason to get back at the pack.

Venky who knew this, went straight to him.

Over the next week, Venky ended up on Govinda’s compound consistently in a show of solidarity. They would sit and talk animatedly for hours. They would go on walks too. Soon, Seshu and I, tired at not being picked for the game as promised, day after day, joined them. They were happy to have new company.

Another disgruntled 10-year-old, Gundu, joined us too.

***

We set out for a destination, yet unknown to me and Seshu.  Once away from the group and in relative privacy, Venky pulled out something from his pocket.

Our jaws dropped. He had two  receipt books in his hand.

It had a rubber stamped “Vinayaka Balakara Sangha” with the street-address emblazoned on it in purple ink.

“Are you three in?” beamed a proud Venky. “This is top secret! We will teach those peddh nan makklu (morons) a lesson,” thundered Venky who needed his share of this revenge.

“You know how they have been insulting our dear friend Govinda?” quipped the freshman sidekick. We nodded in unison and hurriedly added our, “Of course ! We are in….”

As Venky recounted how Govinda had got Prakash of  ‘Swamy & Bros’ to part with four receipt books, on credit, Govinda had a smile of satisfaction. The rubber stamp was on a similar credit from the vendor who supplied it to the Kannika Parameshwari temple on 8th cross—Govinda’s family managed the temple.

The receipt book had a “Rs 10/-” entry by Venky’s ajji (grandmother) and a couple of “Rs 5/-” entries.

Our surprise turned into awe when we realized where the two other missing receipt books were. One was with Raviraj, a benevolent bachelor who was now too grown up and working to be playing on the street and the other was with gulle (pimpled) Mohana, another working bachelor and Raviraj’s peer.

When we reached Raviraj’s house, more good news awaited us. Between Raviraj and Mohana, they had amassed Rs 100 for us. We were in business. Buoyed by the optimistic trend and true to his Vysya instincts, the 15-year-old Govinda began to chalk out a detailed plan.

We set out with a target between Rs 250 and Rs 1500. This final total would set the tone for the one-day event.

My mother was signed up for the morning’s prasada (kadalekalu usli);  Seshu and Venky’s moms would together foot the evening prasada after the maha-mangalaaarathi. Pots and pans needed would be supplied by Govinda, thanks to his temple connection. The same held true for the jamkhana (carpets), bamboo posts and the “serial lamps”.

***

Two more weeks passed and we had recruited five more kids, most from neighboring streets. Our new group, led by Govinda would make the rounds eliciting funds in faraway streets.

Our own fifth cross was out of bounds, Govinda had thundered. We would set a minimum of Rs 10 for our street and it would yield us at least Rs 400-600 per his plan.

We complied. This would keep the 20 morons clueless for some more time as well.

We went from house to house with a standard invocation:

“Uncle, Ganesha Habba maadta iddeevi (Uncle, we will be celebrating Ganesha festival)….”

The collection was good. Govinda not only had the gift of the gab but had a politician’s face recognition. Thanks to the temple, people knew him even if he did not know them. Add to that, not many had the heart to say no to the sweet handicapped lad with a bunch of innocent juttus in-tow. So, where others would be turned away empty-handed, we got collections.

As the plan took concrete shape, the rest of the 20, busy playing cricket till now began to get suspicious. They tried to pry us juttus for more info. We held our own; until Govinda asked us to leak some info in anticipation of a big step to be taken the next day.

The leak was vague and just indicated to something big scheduled for the next day evening.

***

D-day arrived.

Govinda strode in with two helps from his temple. They had banners in hand with ropes attached to the wooden rods. Cricket stopped. A customary quick pooja by the Venky’s mom with arisina and kumkuma ensued. We juttus were summoned to help.

The word soon spread and people poured out into their compounds and into the street. In an unexpected show of enthusiasm and happiness, people started helping us. Govinda was at the centre of this big limelight. Raviraj and Mohana were requested to be present and their presence lent the much needed weight.

45 minutes later under Govinda’s direction, the two banners with “Vinayaka Balakara Sangha” bore down on our street, suspended from window grills of the second floors houses.

The assembled crowd had parents, by standers and newly joined supporters. Many of these new found supporters had come forward with pledges for loaning curtains, potted plants, shamiana and the venue (compound) among other things.

“Slowly but surely we are limping towards celebrating Ganeshana habba,” Govinda thundered, in an obvious jab at the 20 who had ridiculed his handicap and were mute witnesses to this astonishing development. “We have collected Rs 1,000 and will need your help,” he told everyone who spoke to him.

We followed suit.

Govinda then walked up to the 20. His limp had an air of confidence and a vivid sense of triumph was writ large on his face. He addressed them directly: “Any of you care to join us? If you do, just remember ‘Kun-tas‘ and ‘juttus’ do matter.

No more  ‘aatakke untu lekakke illa…“.

As this unraveled in front of the gathered crowd, a steady stream of defectors deserted the leadership and the 20 naysayers were soon reduced to the 5 kingpins. All of the five were elder to Govinda and, for once, were at the receiving end, cornered and insulted.

Their name calling now out in the open for everyone to see, they hurriedly apologized to Govinda for insulting him and joined us. We were going to have our Ganesha habba!

Have our habba, we did a month later! That year and 10 more thereafter with Govinda as the president. After that incident, no one called Govinda “Takun“, or us kiddos “juttus”.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

If they can’t drink scotch, let them drink gin

21 August 2009

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A few weeks ago, expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh slammed finance minister Pranab Mukherjee for being miserly with the income tax exemption limits.

“The relief is so meagre it won’t even fech me a bottle of scotch whisky,” he said in his deep baritone.

BELLUR RAMAKRISHNA has a solution.

CHURUMURI POLL: Ban Jaswant Singh book?

20 August 2009

B.S. NAGARAJ writes from New Delhi: That Gujarat chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi should have moved so swiftly to ban Jaswant Singh‘s book on Jinnah is not surprising. After all, how can the chhote sardar countenance any “highly defamatory” references, as perceived by him, to the original Sardar (Patel)?

But if reports are to be believed, all the BJP-ruled States, too, are considering a similar ban. And that would include Karnataka whose chief minsiter holds Modi in great esteem. B.S. Yediyurappa has time and again heaped praise on Narendra Modi and his model of development and style of governance.

In any case, can Yediyurappa afford not to ban the book at a time when the BJP leadership has cracked the whip, and when everybody in the party is quickly trying to be seen as toeing the line? Or, should he stand up and say no, making a case for free speech and expression?

‘The only way out for the BJP now is to split’

20 August 2009

Jyotirmaya Sharma, a professor in political studies at the University of Hyderabad and author of “Terrifying Vision”: M.S. Golwalkar, the RSS and India, in Mail Today:

Jaswant Singh‘s expulsion means very little for the BJP or its politics. If it has any significance, it is symbolic. It sends a message to the ageing leadership of the party to abandon ambition, retire gracefully and, maybe, write more books.

“Neither is it about a book nor about the book’s portrayal of Jinnah. Rather it is an assertion by the RSS that while it perceives the BJP not as its life-breath but merely an inspired organisation, everyone ought to be told who determines the orthodoxy….

“The only way out for the BJP is to split. A section of the party has to say goodbye to the wise old men from Nagpur and find a less fraught alternative than Hindutva. Periodic allegiance to Hindutva no longer finds resonance with the voters nor does it help with the allies.”

Worldcloud of today’s headlines: courtesy Wordle.net

Also read: ‘Only a vertical split in the BJP can save the BJP’

‘Don’t be afraid of the Taliban. They are already here’

‘A party inherently insecure and anti-intellectual’

20 August 2009

unny

Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express:

“In expelling Jaswant Singh the BJP has confirmed the fears of its worst critics: that the party is nothing but a party founded on endless resentment that makes it inherently insecure and anti-intellectual. Its nationalism is not the nationalism of a thinking party; it is a pinched-up nationalism that prefers caricature over complexity, conformism over thought. The party does not understand the first thing about its self-proclaimed heroes.

Vajpayee once wrote, mujhe itni oonchaie kabhi mat dena, gairon ko gale na lago sakon, itni rukhai kabhi mat dena. It is a measure of how much the BJP has fallen that it can now not even embrace its own. The real greatness of Sardar Patel was that he could live with difference. Despite deep philosophical differences the personal and political bond between him and Nehru remained very strong. Even their mistakes and differences were not petty. But the BJP does the amazing feat of demonstrating that even its virtues have the odour of small-mindedness.”

Read the full article: Party to differences

Cartoon: courtesy E.P.Unny/ The Indian Express

Also read: ‘Advani offers nothing creative, only resentment’

10 questions for the party of The Great Debators

19 August 2009

After watching Jaswant Singh‘s media powwow in Shimla following his expulsion from the BJP, PRITAM SENGUPTA in Delhi has a few questions for the BJP:

***

1) Like, is this how the BJP, a party sworn to protecting “Hindu culture and traditions”, treats a 71-year-old buzurg, a “loyal soldier of the party”, one of the early birds, who has served it for 30 years?

2) Like, isn’t there a culture of sending “show cause” notices and seeking a written or an oral explanation before summarily expelling someone? And doesn’t a suspension precede an expulsion in its constitution?

3) Like, if L.K.Advani could stay after his Mohammed Ali Jinnah faux pas and even end up becoming the “former future prime minister of India”, what is so great about Jaswant Singh‘s boo-boo about Jinnah being demonised that he should be sent away thus?

4) Like, if Advani and his ilk wanted a television debate with “weak, nikammaManmohan Singh in the run-up to the general election, how is it he and they couldn’t stomach an untelevised debate with a retired Major of the Indian Army?

5) Like, is Jaswant Singh paying the price for refreshing Advani’s memory on how he happened to board IC-814 that disgorged Masood Azhar and two other gentlemen in Kandahar? Or is he paying the price for slamming Arun Jaitely, with his “parinaam aur puraskar” jibe, when Advani’s blue-eyed boy was made leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha despite the “nasty jolt”?

6) Since “inner-party democracy” in the Congress often evokes sniggers among BJP folk, are we to conclude that such a concept doesn’t exist in God’s Own Party? That its members aren’t expected to think on their own? That all its members expected to hold only one view which the RSS sends from Nagpur using sparrows?

7) Like, if he did not bat for Jaswant Singh’s retention when Rajnath Singh and the parliamentary board moved to expel him, surely Advani deserves the lifetime achievement award for so systematically eliminating all his rivals?

8) Like, looking at how the BJP is conducting itself, while disintegrating at the same time, can anybody that this very party would have been in power if the EVMs hadn’t malfunctioned en masse?

9) Like, since Jaswant Singh was elected from Darjeeling on the promise of a separate Gorkha state, is that promise now consigned to the dustbin?

10) With Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie now out of the way, will there be a split in the BJP and will Narendra Modi form his own outfit?

But would the good Major like to receive them?

19 August 2009

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Watching TV used to be simple in the age of terrestrial broadcasting. The advent of satellite, cable and dish have made viewing a more pleasurable experience, of course, but there are unintended consequences sometimes.

This afternoon, Tata Sky viewers watching Jaswant Singh‘s exceedingly gracious press conferences after his disgraceful removal from the party of The Great Debators he had served for 30 years, had a red button with an option to “Send Flowers” popping up on their screens.

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Is the BJP in total disarray?

God’s Own Party kinda re-enters the 20th century

CHURUMURI POLL: Is the BJP in total disarray?

19 August 2009

The Jinnah Jinx has hit the BJP once again. First L.K. Advani found himself very nearly ostracised from the saffron brotherhood for comments he made during a visit to Pakistan. Now, former defence and finance minister Jaswant Singh has been expelled from the party for his comments on Jinnah.

Is the BJP right in expelling Singh? Or is this just a smokescreen to take attention away from the deliberations of the chintan baithak? Is the expulsion of Singh a sign of a democratic party that believes in “debate”?

With Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha not invited to the introspection in Shimla because of their criticism of the leadership, with Vasundhara Raje Scindia being asked to resign for the poll defeat (while Advani and Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley stay on), with various state units pulling in different directions, with the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat issuing grand pronouncements on the way forward, is the BJP in total disarray?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Will the BJP ever come to power?

The only person to blame for BJP defeat is L.K. Advani

BJP defeat is a defeat of BJP brand of journalism

‘Fitting finale of five years of foolish opposition’


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