Archive for July, 2012

TV reporter on what happened in Mangalore

31 July 2012

The July 28 incident in Mangalore, when a bunch of boys and girls, were abused, beaten up, molested, even stripped naked by goons and goondas, allegedly of the Hindu Jagrana Vedike, has attracted national attention.

The chilling pictures brought home by TV cameramen and reporters have turned the spotlight on the long, slippery road towards illiberalism that BJP-ruled Karnataka has embarked on, under the garb of protecting “Hindu culture”.

The images have also turned the spotlight on the role of the TV media.

Cases have been booked against one of the reporters, Naveen Soorinje, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and several sections of IPC, hinting at a possible attempt to fix the reporter for doing his duty.

Below is the translation of the reporter’s account.

****

By NAVEEN SOORINJE

At 6.45 in the evening on July 28, one of my news sources from Padil (in Mangalore) called me. This was all he told me: “Naveen, around 30 men have gathered near the Timber Yard in Padil Junction and I overheard them talking to someone trying to coax them to gather some more people. They were instructing someone to be prepared with their motorbikes. It looks like they are planning to attack the guest house in Padil. I overheard them saying something like Muslim boys and Hindu girls.”

I asked him to find out which organization the men belonged to.

All he could gather was that they were from some Hindutva organization, though he could not find out the name of the exact organization they belonged to.

The immediate thought that crossed my mind was this: “Should I inform the police right away or should I not?”

The dilemma was because there was no accurate information as to who belonging to which organization was to attack whom and where. I just had very rudimentary information on hand.

If the members of the organization had called me themselves, I could have indeed informed the police instantly. As the news came from a my source, I thought I should inform the police only after confirming the news.

Having come to this decision, I set out on my bike to Padil along with my cameraman.

In a while, my cameraman and I were outside the guest house/ home stay named Morning Mist located on the hill in Padil. None of the attackers who eventually turned up were present at the spot then.

We stood there for five minutes unable to understand why anyone would plan to attack that particular home stay which is located half a kilometer away from the highway cutting through Padil. The home stay is surrounded by a tall compound wall on all four sides. There is only one gate and 60 meters from the gate is the home stay.

I stood near the gate and watched. There was nothing happening inside that could conceivably provoke an attack. A girl was sitting outside on a chair and two boys in another corner of the bungalow were absorbed in their mobile games.

They were not indulging in any activity which can be considered illegal.

That is the reason why I did not inform the police at that point of time. If my information turned out to be wrong, it would be an unnecessary anxiety for the entire police department.

While I was making all these calculations in my mind, I saw a group of over 30 people marching towards the home stay.

Out of curiosity I asked them in Tulu: “Do you know what the matter is? What is happening here?”

Some boys in the group pointed to the girl sitting outside saying: “Look, there is the girl and there are the guys…”

They ran towards them, all set for attack.

The girl, who realized that the group was there to attack, ran inside the bungalow and tried to close the door unsuccessfully. The group of 30 managed to run to the door and open it before the girl could close it completely.

Only at that point was I completely aware of what was happening and my conscience was also awakened. I immediately called Ravish Nayak, Inspector, Mangalore (Rural) (+91-948085330) from my official number (+91-9972570044).

That must have been around 7.15 p.m.

Ravish Nayak did not receive my call. On the other hand, the assault had just begun. The girls started running helterskelter failing to understand what was happening. The police personnel were not receiving the calls being made. I asked my friend Rajesh Rao of TV-9 to call the police and Ravish Nayak did not receive the call made by Rajesh Rao either.

While I was trying to get in touch with the police inspector, the cameraman ran behind the attackers and got started on his duty of recording the action. Till then only my cameraman and I were present at the spot but were soon joined by the cameraman of Sahaya TV, Sharan, and a photographer, Vinay Krishna.

I was a mute witness to all that was happening there, with the guilt of not being able to do anything. More than half the attackers had consumed alcohol and were not in a position to listen to anything. I have been witness to violent incidents in my life, but never before violence of this scale and nature.

Our cameraman was running wherever the group was attacking individuals. I was watching it and screaming and requesting, “Don’t hit the girls.”

My request reached the camera sound recorder but did not reach the attackers.

The boys who were attacked were pleading, “Please leave us. We are having a birthday party here. Please…” and were falling at the feet of the attackers. But nothing moved the attackers. If it were to be just this, probably I could have forgotten the incident. But I saw something much more terrible and shocking.

The girls who saw the boys being trashed were shocked at the sight and ran in all directions only to be followed by the attackers. Believe it or not, one of the girls jumped down from the first floor but was caught by nearly 20 attackers who began to pull out her clothes.

They slapped her and pushed her to the wall.

By then the girl in pink clothes managed to run away. When the attackers caught her, she was literally stripped naked. Leaving her with only one piece of cloth the assailants molested her.

This sight sent a chill down my spine.

Never in my life had I seen something as horrific as this, though I had heard of such things. These were the scenes which could not become visuals for the news. Only a portion of the incident was shot. Later on, all the boys and girls partying there were locked inside a room. All this happened in a matter of 15 minutes.

When the attackers were done with one round of their planned action, Inspector Ravish along with Police S.I. Manikantha Neelaswamy and others arrived at the spot. It appeared as though the police had a tie-up with the attackers.

For over half an hour the police were in conversation with the attackers.

I was utterly shocked by the scene of police conversing with the them. While they were conversing, one boy who was in the partying group tried to escape, but was caught by the police. When in the custody of the police, the attackers trashed him.

By then many media persons had arrived at the spot. My cameraman and I returned to the office and uplinked all the visuals to the Bangalore office.

At 8:45 p.m. the news was aired. Within no time the visuals of our channel was used by national channels and thus the incident became national news. This angered city police Commissioner Seemanth Kumar who called my friend Rajesh Rao of TV-9 who then was with me.

Rajesh put the call on loud speaker while Seemanth Kumar was saying: “Why should Naveen have reported the incident? I will teach him a lesson. He not only compared this incident to the Assam incident, but also said that Mangalore is being Talibanized. This time he will be taught a lesson. We will fix him in this case and none of his contacts at any level will be of any help.”

It is crystal clear from the words of Seemanth Kumar that his concern was not the attack itself, but the fact of the attack being reported.

This morning I received yet another shock. The attacked boys and girls had given statements against me at the Mangalore Rural Police Station. I was sure that those statements were given under pressure.

I guess the boys and girls had heard me requesting the assailants not to trash them. By evening my doubt was cleared. Speaking to the media the attacked boys and girls said: “We haven’t complained against the media. They have stood in our support.”

Mangalore (Rural) police have filed a case against me under the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The police have arrested eight of the assailants with the help of our visuals. The incident we have reported is shameful, not the visuals we have shown.

The 28 July incident at Mangalore is neither a stray incident nor are such attacks in Mangalore a new phenomenon. Every week such incidents take place.

Fundamentalists not only attack boys and girls mixing with the boys and girls of another religions but also take them to the police station. This incident would have taken place even if I had not shot it.

Our recording has revealed the inhuman face of the fascists and has led to the arrest of eight attackers. No matter what is said and what cases are booked against me, I believe I have done my duty as a reporter and that is the only satisfaction to my hurt self.

It doesn’t matter to me that there are complaints filed against me and an FIR has been lodged. I will be happy if the attackers are punished because of the FIR lodged against me. If I am to be freed of these charges because of some pressure and if that is going to benefit the the attackers in any way, then I do not need such freedom.

No matter what punishment is given to the attackers, it will never do justice to those girls who were assaulted right in front of my eyes. Yet they need to be punished.

How BJP plunged Karnataka into cesspool of caste

28 July 2012

“Welcome to the Vidhana Soudha.  If you are a Lingayat, press 1. If your are a Gowda , press 2. If you are a  Kuruba, press 3. If you are a Idiga, press 4. If  you are  a Dalit, press 5. If you are a Muslim, press 6. If you are a Christian, press 7. If you are none of these, disconnect and join the queue for Dharma Darshana of the Chief Minister and take your chance. Thanks for calling.”

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: At the moment, this is just an SMS doing the rounds but don’t be surprised if you were to actually hear this message in the days to come, as the process of political churning set in motion by the present BJP dispensation, is taken to its logical conclusion.

At the moment, the polarisation of castes, which is what this political churning amounts to, remains confined to the internal struggle for power within the ruling party. Its success or failure could spur other parties to follow suit, leaving Karnataka vying with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

What is however special to the political churning in Karnataka is that the process has been initiated by a national party like the BJP, while in other States it has generally been the handiwork of regional parties at the cost of the Congress or BJP.

***

The author of the ongoing process in Karnataka is, of course, none other than the disgruntled former chief minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, who is desperate to regain political primacy in the State after he was forced to quit office in the wake of his indictment by the Lokayukta in the illegal mining and other scams.

But it has also got an indirect endorsement from the BJP’s bosses in New Delhi, who have been singularly helpless in curbing the political intransigence of the former CM, because of the imperative necessity of keeping the first saffron government south of Vindhyas in office, by hook or by crook.

It was Yediyurappa who started overtly playing the Lingayat card although the chief minister’s post in the State has been held by Lingayat politicians before him. It is a mystery what prompted Yediyurappa at the pinnacle of his popularity to play the caste card card, which has reduced him from a mass leader to the leader of a single caste.

For years, if not decades, Yediyurappa had painted himself as a leader of all classes and castes. He rose through dint of sheer hard work and sustained organisational strength.

Once he took over as the Chief Minister in 2008, he started portraying himself as the unquestioned political leader of the Lingayats, a prominent community which has a pan-Karnataka presence, with the northern half of the State being the sheet anchor of the support.

Yediyurappa started courting the religious heads among the community and was liberal in doling grants to the institutions managed by them.

If the move was aimed at providing himself with a shield to fight his political battle, it obviously failed.

For sure, the swamijis were at the forefront whenever his throne was in trouble, but it was hardly of avail since he could not prevent his ouster 11 months ago despite the campaigning by the lingayat swamijis. As a matter of fact, the swamijis got their  reputation tarnished by the  manner in which they winked at corruption.

Furthermore, their attempts to save a government steeped in corruption and a bunch of ministers neck deep in it merely because they happened to be Lingayats made them a laughing stock in public.

***

The caste politics unleashed by Yediyurappa was on full display during the formation of the third BJP ministry headed by Jagadish Shettar. The Vokkaligas suddenly discovered that D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who was facing the heat, was a fellow Vokkaliga and rallied around him.

Though they could not save DVS’s chair, they gave enough hints that they are also a force to be reckoned with in Karnataka politics.

It was not without insignificant that the Deve Gowda-Kumaraswamy duo which was vocal in the criticism of the Yediyurappa government had suddenly grown soft during Sadananda Gowda’s 11-month regime. The transformation was attributed widely to the Vokkalinga connection.

The post of Chief Minister having gone to Shettar, a Lingayat, the two other powerful castes insisted and succeeded in creating specially two posts of the deputy chief ministers for the first time in Karnataka politics, and these went to K.S. Eswarappa (Kuruba) and R. Ashok (Vokkaliga).

It is expected that the post of the party president, which may be vacated by Eswarappa on his induction into the cabinet, is likely to go to “others” category.

To make the power sharing arrangement more authentic, both Eswarappa and Ashok were specifically sworn as the deputy CMs, even though the Constitution does not recognize such a political office. Normally aspirants are sworn in as a minister and later get designated as the deputy CM. Whether this will be a precedent for ministry-making exercises in future remains to be seen.

***

The pattern of distribution of portfolios in the BJP-run government has been done according to the same formula, with the powerful caste denominations walking away with plum portfolios while the insignificant groups have been forced to accept minor and less-important ones.

Ironically, there was no Lingayat politician who could command the allegiance of Lingayats and emerge as their political voice. In fact, it was not any Lingayat politician but a Bramhin, the late Ramakrishna Hegde, who commanded the respect and trust of Lingayats as a whole in general and in northern half of the state in particular.

Hegde chose to deny himself what would have been a fresh lease of life for his political career when he resisted the pressure by his followers in the new political outfit the United Janata Dal to take over as the CM in place of J.H Patel, who was reigning then.

This he did because he did not want to hurt Lingayat sentiments.

The BJP’s continued drought of political support in the 1990s came as a byproduct of the electoral tie-up between the BJP and the JDU to fight the Congress. Hedge’s demise created a political vacuum and the BJP and Yediyurappa moved in to fit the  bill.

This is what enabled Yediyurappa to claim as a  lingayat leader.

But its continued Lingayat fixation coupled with Yediyurappa’s narcissistic tendencies  have contributed substantially to the precipitous fall of Yediyurappa from political grace.

When the BJP high command forced Yediyurappa to quit , his ego was badly hurt. He could not countenance his exit from power. Since then he has been ranting and raving for the restoration of his own political hegemony and has been bemoaning the loss of political primacy for Lingayats.

He has only a single-point agenda: he should have political power either by de jure or de facto manner.

If he cannot get power on his own directly, he must enjoy it through proxy. This was the rationale behind his move to get his own nominee Sadananda Gowda installed as his successor.

Gowda, a low profile functionary, happened to be one his confidants and a safe bet to be trusted unlike his other confidant Shettar, a fellow Lingayat, who had strayed away from his path. This, he achieved after virtually brow beating the high command for the selection of successor through voting.

But he got wary of Gowda soon, as the latter showed signs of moving out of his orbit.

Result: Yediyurappa himself launched a virulent campaign to bring down the man he had put in office sometime ago. He blackmailed the high command to have his way again. And this time Yediyurappa chose to bring back Shettar back into the fold to act as his proxy.

In his overt zeal to get back power, Yediyurappa has introduced in Karnataka politics, the canker of caste politics, which is expected to change the political scenario altogether in the days to come.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

The best actor in the history of Hindi cinema is…

27 July 2012

Indian film fans and critics and “writers” can barely think beyond Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Hassan, Rajesh Khanna, et al when talking of the “greatest actor” produced by Bombay’s film “industry”.

The writer and academic Mukul Kesavan undertakes the necessary course-correction in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

Waheeda Rehman is, by some distance, the best actor produced by Bombay’s film industry in the 1950s and 1960s, and arguably the best actor in the history of Hindi cinema….

“While Guru Dutt is crucial to Waheeda Rehman’s stardom, her roles in his films are circumscribed by his narcissism. Her main task is to look ravishingly beautiful and this she does. It is to Guru Dutt’s credit that he frames her in ways that highlight her loveliness. But that is her role in his films; she’s a lovely prop.

“She is there so that the Guru Dutt character can be reliably loved by someone beautiful while he works his way through several sorts of male angst. It is a tribute to her abilities as an actor that within these constraints she comes across as a believable character.

“Waheeda Rehman is Hindi cinema’s greatest actor but it is a mistake to make that claim, as often happens, on the basis of her work in Guru Dutt’s films. Guru Dutt sprinkled her with stardust; as an actor, she made herself.”

Read the full article: An actor of genius

Also read: Conceited, egotistical, narcissistic, the greatest?

The sexiest South Indian actress is…

Satanic Curse if you ogle at this maami

A surly backbencher takes a bird’s eye-view

25 July 2012

Former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa watches the proceedings in the monsoon session of the Karnataka legislative assembly on Wednesday as the current incumbent of the CM’s gaddi, his friend-turned-foe-turned friend Jagadish Shettar, occupies the front row at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

CHURUMURI POLL: Will Pranab be a ‘good’ Prez?

23 July 2012

At the end of a long and distinguished career in politics, Pranab Mukherjee has finally ascended Raisina Hill to become the 13th President of India. Almost to a man, every politician, expert and analyst has doffed his hat to Mukherjee’s political sagacity and stamina, his knowledge of constitutional affairs, and so on.

Yet, there is an element of doubt about what his presidency is going to be.

Since 1984, Mukherjee has carried the accusation that he secretly coveted the prime minister’s post, which is why he earned Rajiv Gandhi‘s distrust, or at least of those close to him, with the result that he had to leave the Congress briefly. Although the Congress and UPA backed him four-square in the presidential campaign, some say he was never really Sonia Gandhi‘s first choice for the post (Hamid Ansari was the other); in fact, Sonia had snubbed an earlier attempt to become deputy PM.

More importantly, ever since he relinquished the finance minister’s post, a number of attempts have been made to tar-brush his record (his retroactive imposition of taxes on Vodafone, etc) and, although he was at the helm when NRIs were allowed to invest in Indian companies in the early 1980s, he is now being loosely called “India’s worst finance minister ever”.

Question: Will Pranab Mukherjee be a copy-book President, going strictly by the Constitution, or given his baggage with the Congress, is he likely to be a bit of an imponderable in 2014, when the time to swear in the next government comes?

5 reasons Gavaskar’s wrong about playing Pak

20 July 2012

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has criticized the Indian cricket board’s decision earlier this week to revive cricketing relations with Pakistan with a three-match ODI series in December this year.

Reason: he feels Pakistan is not cooperating in the probe into the November 2008 siege of Bombay despite the mountain of evidence that has been piled at its door.

“Being a Mumbaikar, I feel, what is the urgency (to resume cricketing ties) when there is no co-operation from the other side?”

Gavaskar is a great cricketer and a weighty columnist and commentator to boot. His views carry enormous weight in the cricketing fraternity. He can make or mar ties between BCCI and PCB having been part of the BCCI and International Cricket Council (ICC) administration for a long time.

However, “Sunny” is plain wrong in questioning BCCI’s rationale for resuming cricket with Pakistan three years after the dastardly attack on his hometown?

First: BCCI would have dared to approach Pakistan with a tour proposal only after securing the government of India’s clearance. Perhaps it was Pakistan which came up with the proposal first.

Either way, Union home minister P. Chidambaram and external affairs minister S.M. Krishna would have discussed the issue threadbare with the Prime Minister and only after his (and/or the cabinet’s) clearance would the BCCI have made the first move to invite Pakistan for a tour.

It is the Indian Government that will decide whether Pakistan is cooperating in the Bombay terror attacks, not BCCI and definitely not Sunil Gavaskar. At least we haven’t reached that stage in the BCCI.

So far.

Second: While one certainly appreciates his views that as a ‘Mumbaikar’  for the tragedy that struck on 26 /11, he cannot decide whether there is cooperation from the other side. Not even BCCI. That is again strictly the job of the government.

Once the Government gives its clearance after satisfying itself of all the aspects and give its nod, the board and the cricketers should do their assigned jobs, as rightly pointed out by Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a media conference.

Third: I am sure every player would have felt terrible about the attack, irrespective of whether he was a Mumbaikar or not. So is it with every Indian. In fact it was with that spirit that the whole team played a match against Andrew Flintoff’s England and both teams came in for huge praise from all over the world for their fantastic gesture.

However well meaning, parochial sentiments on a national issue like terror are better consigned to the dustbin, particularly from a cricketer of the calibre of Gavaskar.

Fourth: Sunny is on firmer ground when he questions BCCI with regard to squeezing this tour in a year which is already quite packed.  Here again, if he is questioning the tour on cricketing grounds, he should have also questioned the wisdom of selectors’ acceding to Sachin Tendulkar’s ‘pick and choose’ policy, especially in ODIs,  a subject which has been dealt by quite of few cricket experts and commentators at length.

This affects balance in the team, creates uncertainty in minds of younger cricketers about their future as they have to make way whenever he ‘feels’ like playing cricket. One would have expected Sunny to question the selectors or Sachin in his weekly column regarding this but that did not happen.

It is only Sanjay Manjrekar who has rightly dared to question this in the past.

Fifth: Why should cricket and cricket alone be the barometer of ties between India and Pakistan? Despite 26/11, the two countries seem to have started finding ways of doing business. Its politicians meet happily, its bureaucrats do, there are growing trade ties, etc.

So, why should cricket be held hostage to terror? It is, after all, a sport.

Also read: Gavaskar: India’s most petulant cricketer ever?

Save Indian cricket: keep Sunil Gavaskar out

Are Gavaskar and Shastri India’s only cricketers?

Gavaskar of 2010 is the same Gavaskar of 1981

Why some of us just love to hate Gavaskar

A sacrificial pawn on Yediyurappa’s chess board

11 July 2012

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: Jagadish Shettar, who has been catapulted to the position of chief minister-designate in Karnataka, has been nothing but a political pawn in the game of political chess being played by the scam-tainted B.S. Yediyurappa.

He got a break in 1994 when, as a low-level party functionary, he was asked to take on Basavaraj Bommai, son of the former chief minister, S.R. Bommai, in the Hubli rural assembly constituency, a bastion of Janata Dal.

It was an impossible task by any standard for novice in politics like Shettar but he pulled it off thanks to the afterglow of the controversy over hoisting the national flag at Idgah Maidan, which had been carefully orchestrated by the BJP and had hogged national attention.

Shettar’s role in the controversy was of a subsidiary nature but he emerged a giantkiller thanks to the BJP strategy, and the hand of Yediyurappa was clearly seen in the gamble.

After that, what aided Shettar’s rise was the manipulative politics that Yediyurappa played to keep his rivals at bay inside the party. A one-term legislator like Shettar overnight became a leader of opposition in the Karnataka assembly, superseding many of the seniors in 1999.

The vacancy had been caused because of the shock defeat of Yediyurappa in his home constituency, Shikaripur. Yediyurappa was averse to the post going to anybody else, with senior leaders like B.B. Shivappa, former state party present from Hassan, being one of the main aspirants.

Yediyurappa preferred a rank junior like Shettar, who would be able to keep the seat warm when he would enter the assembly again, which he did in the next elections in 2004. Shettar quietly paved way for Yeddyurappa assuming the role of the Leader of the Opposition once again.

But in 2004 a new situation arose.

The post of the party president fell vacant with the incumbent Basavaraj Patil Sedam demitting his office after the expiry of the term. And Yediyurappa once again plumped for his trusted understudy and as a consequence Shettar moved up one more notch to become the state party president.

In the coalition government which BJP formed in 2006 with the Janata Dal (Secular), Shettar became a minister for the first time.

Shettar, who had seen the benefits of being faithful and friendly with Yediyurappa, soon experienced the latter’s ire. Thus, Shettar was deliberately denied a berth in the first full-fledged BJP government in 2008.

Shetttar sulked publicly and chose to stay away from the swearing-in ceremony when the national leadership of the BJP had descended on Bangalore to witness the historic occasion of the BJP opening its account in the South of the Vindhyas.

Thanks to the intervention of the national leadership, Yediyurappa, who had firmly set his foot against giving a ministerial berth to Shettar, was prevailed upon to make him the Assembly Speaker. Shettar was initially reluctant to accept but had to do so since there was no alternative.

What he did as Speaker is history.

He played a key role in “Operation Kamala” engineered by Yediyurappa with the connivance of the Reddy group of ministers to entice the opposition legislators into BJP with a view to help party gain majority on its own in the 224 member assembly.

He exercised the powers vested in him as Speaker in favour of Yediyurappa by quickly accepting the resignations submitted by the aspirants from the opposition much to the discomfiture of Congress and the JDS, in a manner reminiscent of what Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed did in the seventies in signing Indira Gandhi‘s proclamation of Emergency, despite the procedural flaws in the move.

On two occasions, Shettar very nearly became the Chief Minister but for Yediyurappa.

During the open rebellion by the Reddy group, Shettar emerged as their chosen candidate to replace Yediyurappa.

Later when Yediyurappa had to step down from office in the wake of his indictment by Lok Ayukta, Yediyurappa was unwilling to accept Shettar’s candidature as his successor and got him defeated by forcing the election at the legislature party meet.

Twice bitten, Shettar, who had in the meantime become Minister, was unwilling to take a risk this time. He made up with Yediyurappa as a consequence of which he was considered an apt replacement for D.V. Sadananda Gowda whom Yediyurappa was hell bent on pulling down and helped Shettar to make his dream come true.

A daunting task awaits Shettar as he steps into his new role. The party is a shambles; its image has taken a battering because .of the internecine quarrels and has a fresh election to face in less than ten months.

It remains to be seen how a grateful Shettar would oblige his friend turned foe turned friend, Yediyurappa, in his new avatar.  He has  two options left. He can hang on to the umbilical chord of Yediyurappa and kowtow to his every whim and fancy, especially in shielding him from the maze of the legal cases surrounding him.

If he wants to cut away the chord Shettar risks the fate that awaited his predecessor Sadananda Gowda, who as a friend-turned foe of Yediyurappa made it to the chair of the Chief Minister but lost it in 11 months.

File photograph: Jagadish Shettar with his wife Shilpa (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: Why ‘Oye Lucky‘ could be Jagadish Shettar‘s film

CHURUMURI POLL: Manmohan, an underachiever?

9 July 2012

There is nothing more disastrous than a PR drive gone awry.

For months and years, prime minister Manmohan Singh has pretended the Indian media doesn’t exist or that he doesn’t care if it does. He has given no one-on-one interviews to any Indian print, electronic or digital interrogator, and has opted to meet editors in groups where no supplementaries can be asked.

So as the scams and scandals enveloped his government, all he could do was lie low and hope his image and integrity would carry the day.

With the economy in the doldrums and Pranab Mukherjee out as the finance minister, the PM’s media mandarins have sensed that the time is nigh to pump up his image. Suddenly, there are stories all over the papers of how proactive Manmohan has become. He answered questions from Hindustan Times in an interview last week. And he even gave Time magazine access to 7, Race Course Road.

If his media advisors were hoping for a nice little plug, this is what resulted.

Not surprisingly, everybody in the Congress is hopping mad that the prime minister is being called what all except those who have read a newspaper or magazine or watched television in the last four years were calling him. Secretly, they are also pointing fingers at the glowing cover Time did of Narendra Modi.

Questions: Is Manmohan Singh an underachiever or is this Time magazine’s euphemism for “failure”? Should we really be bothered if the Indian edition of Time (the story doesn’t appear in the American edition) calls him or anybody else an underachiever or failure? Does the Indian thirst for a “white certificate” signify a colonial hangover?

What is the headline would you have given if you were in charge of giving headlines in Time magazine?

External reading: India overachieves in prickliness over Time cover

Also readWhy Manmohan should talk to media more

Why PM is hopelessly wrong about the media

Is the PM right about the Indian media?

And who’s afraid of the one-on-one pow-wow?

How BJP allowed Yediyurappa to become Sonia

9 July 2012

T.J.S. GEORGE writes: Crippled by corruption, Karnataka is now brutalised by blackmail.

Corruption was the collective contribution of all parties. What the Congress carried on quietly, the JD(S) took up with gusto and BJP turned into a celebration. Blackmail is the exclusive contribution of the BJP.

Congressmen can’t think of it because they shudder before their High Command. In the BJP, the High Command shudders before B.S. Yediyurappa. Yediyurappa’s victory is BJP’s tragedy—and Karnataka’s misfortune.

Look at the misfortune first. Historically one of India’s best-governed states, Karnataka witnessed audacious misuse of power from the day BJP’s first chief minister took office. He and some of his colleagues focused on illegal land transactions as a major activity of government.

The principal financiers of the party, the Bellary lobby, took to plain plundering of the state’s good earth in violation of many laws. Wounded by its keepers, Karnataka bled.

When half a dozen ministers, including the chief minister, were jailed, prudence demanded a moment’s pause.

The BJP as a party and the state government as a constitutional entity should have re-looked at where they were going. They didn’t. Instead, they mounted a show of defiance, politicians looking for loopholes in the law and the Bellary Brotherhood making a suspected bid to bribe a judge. The judge landed in jail in a demonstration of the ugliness of today’s politics.

The neglect of governance could not have happened at a more inopportune moment. The state was in the grip of a serious drought, but water resources minister Basavaraj Bommai had no time to bother about it. Farmers were facing starvation, but agriculture minister Umesh Katti was busy with resignation games.

A grand show was held a couple of months ago to attract big-ticket investments to the state. Industrialists were upset that not a file moved since the show because industries minister Murugesh Nirani was in the plot to topple the chief minister.

All this to satisfy one man’s ambition.

So all-consuming was Yediyurappa’s passion for power that even after coming out of jail, he acted as though nothing untoward had happened.  He spent his not-negligible resources to keep a few dozen MLAs on his side.

This support base was a weapon with which he threatened the party bosses in Delhi, knowing well that the bosses would go to any length to see that the BJP did not lose Karnataka. Although his threats were effective, Yediyurappa knew that he was too tainted to become chief minister in one go.

He had a solution to that problem too. He found in foe-turned-friend Jagadish Shettar the fittest person to become the Manmohan Singh of Karnataka, and let him, Yediyurappa, be the Sonia Gandhi of Karnataka.

The puzzle is that the BJP’s leaders in Delhi do not see that approving Yediyurappa’s scheme is equal to approving corruption. They are said to condone Yediyurappa’s record, including the jailing, so as to ensure the allegiance of the Lingayat community.

First of all, will the BJP really gain by doing what no party has openly done before, namely, split Karnataka into Lingayats (17 per cent), Vokkaligas (15 per cent) and others (68 per cent)?

Second, how do they know that the silent majority of Lingayats will accept the position that they have no leader other than the second most tainted politician in Karnataka’s history (after Janardhana Reddy)? This is a community that gave India one of its noblest philosophical creeds. It has a proud public record and several eminent leaders.

On the other hand, a principled stand against the threat politics of Yediyurappa could have given the BJP a swing in its favour. Yediyurappa’s flaunted support base is sustained by the feeling among BJP legislators that his bullying will put him back in power. Call that bluff and the support will melt away.

The Congress and the JD (S) are in a mess, which gives the BJP a reasonable chance to beat them at the next election. But the rivals have a propaganda plank that is powerful: that the BJP promotes corruption officially. The BJP could have demolish that plank. All it needed was some guts.

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Has Yediyurappa melted the Loh in Loh Purush?

9 July 2012

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: The BJP high command is neither high nor has any command left.  This stark truth emerges succinctly from the manner in which the BJP high command has been ineptly handling dissidence in the Karnataka BJP which is threatening the existence of the first saffron ministry south of Vindhyas.

At a time party should have pulled up its socks to take on the scam-tainted Congress in the forthcoming general elections, the BJP has been presenting the inedible face of a party which is unable to manage its own internal crises and has allowed the canker of dissidence to develop into a Frankenstein‘s monster as it were.

The younger generation of party leadership which was put in place with great flourish as a process of transition from the Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lalchand Kishinchand Advani era, has proved to the hilt that the party can longer claim to be a party with difference and that it consists of men with feet of clay, who have more faith in the political opportunism than in principled, value-based tactics.

Even the patriarch Advani finds himself unable to stem the developments and has allowed himself to be a passive spectator. How else can one explain the strange phenomenon of the party compromising on party discipline and as a matter of fact appearing to pamper its lack of it, off and on?

The party leadership hardly moved when the group of three ministers comprising of the Reddy trio openly raised a banner of revolt demanding the change of leadership of the Yediyurappa government and resorted to the politics of herding the supporting legislators to the resorts.

The party chose to turn a blind eye to the indiscretion and instead worked overtime to bring about a compromise.

All those who had challenged the leadership were allowed to get away, even without a warning.  The complaints about the style of working of the then chief minster were pushed under the carpet, by a leadership which refused to take cognizance of the ground realities in Karnataka.

The repeated tantrums thrown up by Yediyurappa has been sum product of the laissez faire attitude of the national party in the matter of enforcing the party discipline.

Ever since he was asked to step down in the light of indictment by the Lokayukta report on the illegal mining and plethora of land denotification cases which resulted in his arrest, Yediyurappa has become a bugbear to the party’s leadership.

When he was asked to quit in the light of the scam report, Yeddyurappa demurred deliberately.

When he had to ultimately yield, he did  so after making it amply clear that it was his, rather than the party’s, writ which ran as for as Karnataka affairs was concerned.  He forced an election on the choice of his successor and defeated the nominee of the high command.

Sadananda Gowda was his nominee for the post and Gowda defeated Jagadish Shettar, who had the backing of the high command.

The high command had no problem with the new chief minister and as a matter of fact it was appreciative of the work being done by him in providing a  clean government and taking care to keep the family members at a distance unlike what had happened during his predecessor’s days.

However, Gowda’s effort to run a government independent of his mentor angered Yediyurappa like anything and he started an open campaign seeking his removal. But now the tables have turned and Yediyurappa has successfully sought the removal of the very man he had installed in office and wanted him to be replaced by Jagadish Shettar who in the meantime had been weaned into his camp.

Initially, the high command was not willing to concede and backed the beleaguered Sadananda Gowda to the hilt.  But it dropped him like a hot potato when Yediyurappa held out the threat of precipitating the crisis by making group of nine ministers belonging to his camp to resign en masse.

The high command became panicky and had to give in to the pressures tactics of Yediyurappa.

The crop of the second-generation leadership which is at the helms of affairs was the first to cave in to the dictates of Yediyurappa and lobbed the ball in the court of the patriarch Advani before making the final announcement.

Advani  had always stood for a firm stand against those who have been making open mockery of the party discipline.

At one stage he was reportedly of the view that the party should go for a fresh mandate in Karnataka instead succumbing to the pressures of the Yediyurappa group.  But he had no option but to fall in line in the light of the combined pressure of the younger group that it is important to save the party juncture at this stage instead of taking a risk of fresh poll.

And Advani had to yield and going by the newspaper reports “with tears in his eyes”.

Even the “iron” in the “iron man” (Loh Purush) has started melting. And that is the tragedy of the BJP under the dispensation of younger generation, which is more interested in the power game than anything else.

Cartoon: courtesy Surendra/ The Hindu

Also read: ‘BJP has fallen prey to politician-entrepreneurs’

Why does the BJP persist with Operation Kamala?

CHURUMURI POLL: Is Operation Kamala OK?

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

Getaway of the louts in the Gateway to the South

BJP’s lotus grows in muck, so do BJP’s people

Upendra. Priyanka. Talwalkar’s. Weight-loss.*

3 July 2012

churumuri‘s cynically acclaimed series on commodification of women is back. On request. This time, it is Priyanka Trivedi, the actor Upendra‘s wife, touting weight-loss solutions for Talwalkar‘s, in Bangalore on Tuesday.

–Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

* Shameless search-engine optimisation techniques at work

***

The commodification of women portfolio

RamyaOne more example of commodification of women

RamyaAnother example of commodification of women

Anu PrabhakarAnother example of commodification of examinations

RamyaLike, bombers get scared looking at bombshells?

RamyaNow, what will those fools do with these kids?

Aindrita RaySurely all that glitters is more than just gold

Jennifer KotwalThe best ice-candy melts before nice eye-candy

RamyaWhat it takes to smoothen some rough blades of grass

Nicole FariaDenims, diamonds, Miss India and the Mahatma

Priyanka TrivediSee, a brand ambassador always gets good press

RoopashreeObjects in the mirror are closer than they appear

Gul PanagYou are almost tempted to say ‘Intel Inside’

RamyaDon’t ask us what it is, but it sure costs a bomb

Mandira BediIt ain’t so easy to woo an iPhone4 user, sister

Tejaswini Prakash: As if we didn’t have traffic diversions already

Pooja Gandhi: Why Vodafone subscribers experience call drops

Raveena Tandon: From a flower of stones to a stone of flowers

Sameera Reddy: The commodification portfolio

CHURUMURI POLL: Will BSY-BJP peace last?

2 July 2012

Yet another episode of the BJP’s non-stop nataka in Karnataka has come to an end—a quiet, wimpish end after all the fire-breathing over the weekend—but the big question still remains: is this really the end or just a temporary, mutually agreed cessation of hostilities before resumption of normal service?

On the face of it, it seems as if both sides—the B.S. Yediyurappa camp and the BJP high command—are buying time. Both are hoping the numbers of either side will whittle down. But deep down, both are afraid: Yediyurappa isn’t sure if he can be the force he is without the BJP; the party isn’t sure if it can ever win without him. Hence the repeated brinkmanship.

However, the larger issue is the use of political blackmail as a form of statecraft while the affairs of the State take a backseat with painful periodicity. The Yediyurappa gang blackmails the incumbent D.V. Sadananda Gowda with its ultimatums; the high command returns the favour.

The latest episode has come to an end only because the presidential elections are around the corner and the BJP would not like to be seen as a house divided in the eyes of the nation. As it is, it is having to counter the negative publicity being generated by Keshubhai Patel‘s antics against Narendra Modi in Gujarat.

Question: Could Yediyurappa’s nataka start all over again?

Also read: What should the BJP do about Yediyurappa problem?

CHURUMURI POLL: All over for Yediyurappa?

How much longer will BSY stay in BJP?

CHURUMURI POLL: Will BJP dump BSY?

CHURUMURI POLL: Yediyurappa as CM again?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,348 other followers