Posts Tagged ‘RSS’

CHURUMURI POLL: Should RSS be banned again?

8 February 2014

The release of audio tapes and transcripts of four interviews conducted by a journalist of the monthly magazine, The Caravan, which show the terror-attack accused Swami Aseemanand in conversation with the RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat in 2005, virtually implicating him in targetting civilians, once again show the twice-banned “national voluntary organisation” in disgraceful light.

“In the last two interviews, Aseemanand repeated that his terrorist acts were sanctioned by the highest levels of the RSS—all the way up to Mohan Bhagwat, the current RSS chief, who was the organisation’s general secretary at the time,” reads a press release. “It is very important that it be done. But you should not link it to the Sangh.”

While BJP and RSS spokespersons have questioned the veracity of the tapes and the ethicality of the journalist managing to enter the jail where Assemanand is lodged to record the interviews, they do not detract from the elephant in the room: the alleged involvement of RSS functionaries in attacks of terrorism, raising the spectre of “Saffron Terror” with the intent of political mobilisation.

For some the tapes will only confirm their worst fears: that the RSS, which was banned (by then home minister Vallabhbhai Patel, no less) after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 and the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992, is upto no good. That such an organisation should be playing a quite conspicuous role in shaping the future and fortunes of BJP in circa 2014 will please them even less.

Many others, though, will suspect the timing of the release of the tapes on the eve of a general election, and the rather candid admissions of a terror-accused who over the last three years seems to have somehow forgot to spill the beans to his custodians in jail and interrogators in court.

Obviously, the charges are still a long way from being proved. But if they are, on the strength of mounting evidence—Colonel Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh, Indresh Kumar—should the RSS be banned a third time? And if Narendra Modi, whose installation as the BJP’s  “prime ministerial candidate” was one of the RSS’s biggest successes last year, does end up becoming PM, will his government have the guts or the objectivity to take such a tough call?

Also read: Should the RSS be banned—part I?

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

How Karnataka is becoming Gujarat of South

Raksha bandhan in the Hindu saffron brotherhood

21 August 2013

Photo Caption

The conventional wisdom on raksha bandhan is that tying a rakhi symbolises a “sister’s love and prayers for her brother’s well-being and the brother’s lifelong vow to protect her.” But in the Rashtriya Swamyamsevak Sangh (RSS), there is a small problem: there are no women, although there are women “volunteers” in the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, which follows the RSS philosophy and ideology.

Here, member of Parliament Prahlad Joshi (right), who is also the president of the BJP Karnataka unit, ties a rakhi to his RSS brothers, in Hubli on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Has RSS infiltrated into IT, media in Karnataka?

CHURUMURI POLL: Should the RSS be banned?

Does our sanskriti sanction regressive MCPs?

When the knicker lobby smells a nice opportunity?

Can chief minister owe allegiance to the RSS?

A picture for the personal albums of the sangh parivar

CHURUMURI POLL: BJP better off without Advani?

11 June 2013

Hell hath no fury like an old man scorned. With Narendra Damodardas Modi‘s nomination as the chairman of the BJP election campaign committee in Goa on Sunday, 86-year-old Lalchand Kishinchand Advani‘s fate as a “two-time former future prime minister of India” was finally and firmly sealed.

But it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

So, a dramatic resignation from the all posts held by him (except the crucial one of NDA chairperson), followed by the leak of the resignation letter, followed by the leak that he did not speak to Modi for six minutes after the nomination but merely 90 seconds. If age equals experience equals wisdom, Advani was showing little of it.

Indeed, the contents of the resignation letter showed a petty and bitter man, unable to come to terms with the reality that the party he had so artfully built on the trail of blood left behind by his rath yatras no longer found him useful. So petty and so bitter that he even seemed willing to destroy its immediate prospects.

So far, the BJP has refused to play ball. It wants him to stay on in his posts but has shown no indication that it will revoke its decision to elevate Modi. More resignations of Advani’s camp-followers may follow, but by all available indications, it appears as if the BJP and RSS (not necessarily in that order) have taken a calculated risk.

Questions: Is BJP better off without Advani? Will Advani’s absence impact the NDA and its prospects in the coming general elections? Is BJP’s (and India’s) future safe with Modi or has Advani shown the opposite?

Also read: Is Advani more acceptable than Modi?

‘The man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred’

Patel Basappa, Krishnappa & lessons in humanity

11 June 2013

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: Very recently we read about an incident in our City where a software engineer who sought shelter from sudden rain under the balcony of a building was dealt with rudely by the house owner and driven away. This resulted in outraged people of the area pelting stones at the building in disgust and creating a minor law and order problem for a brief while.

While it certainly seems like a very unusual kind of reaction from the building owner I am not very surprised because there will always be some people who are unusually circumspect with the tendency to see everyone around them with a suspicious eye.

Such people simply refuse to accept the possibility that a person who has entered their premises under duress may just be another soul in distress and not someone with malicious intentions.

Soon after this report appeared, K.B. Ganapathy highlighted how in a show of unusual kindness a very ordinary person offered not only shelter but also a refreshing glass of buttermilk to an elderly stranger who happened to turn to his house for a glass of water after a long and exhausting walk.

It was only much later after this kind deed that the host discovered that his accidental guest was none other than the RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan who had got lost while on his morning walk during a visit to our city.

Most people, whether they are rich or poor, generally tend to be kind to strangers in distress they happen to meet. It is only a few very rare ones who tend to be otherwise and they should not influence our impressions of the goodness of our fellow human beings.

***

My late father while telling us about his school days used to always give the example of this inborn goodness that he had seen in an elderly gentleman of his era.

It appears he and his brothers used to walk to and from our estate to their school in the village located at a distance of about ten kilometers.

Somewhere in between there was the house of the village head who was known as Patel Basappa and many school children, especially during the summer months would stop and take rest on the masonry platform, popularly called ‘jagali’ which was in front of this house.

Whenever the children asked for a glass of water, Patel Basappa’s wife or mother would offer them freshly made buttermilk in large brass tumblers instead of plain water and this was not an occasional occurrence but a daily practice.

Although there was a small rivulet that they would wade through and cross every day on their way to school and back, the old man would warn them never to drink the river water as it would make them sick.

Every Saturday, which was the day of the village weekly shandy, the Patel would himself sit in his armchair with a cloth bag full of puffed rice and roasted gram (kadle-puri) and offer handfuls of it to the children on their way back from school.

This was an event all the children would gleefully look forward to and not one soul including the sick ones would miss school on Saturdays!

***

Many years ago when borewell digging rigs were not very common I happened to visit Chamarajanagar on my trusty Lambretta scooter to hire a rig to get a borewell dug in our estate.

It was a rather rainy day and on our way back it started raining rather heavily between Nanjangud and Mysore. I stopped and left my scooter at a house at Tandavapura telling the lady of the house that I would pick it up the next day and rode back to Mysore in the rig, sitting alongside the driver in his cabin.

When I went back by bus early the next morning to fetch my scooter I was pleasantly surprised to see it washed of all the mud and grime that it was plastered with from my wanderings of the previous day. Thanks to someone’s kindness it now stood sparkling clean.

When I approached the old lady who was now tending to her two goats and asked her who had washed my scooter she smiled and said that since it was looking very dirty she had fetched a pail of water from the well and done it herself. I did not know how to thank her for her concern and kind-heartedness.

***

On another occasion while I was doing my MD a friend who was newly-married and was visiting Mysore with his wife had borrowed my scooter for a few days to go round the city visiting friends and sight-seeing.

On the last day of their trip while they were returning from the Brindavan Gardens the scooter broke down and they had no other option late in the evening than to leave it at a house in Belagola village nearby. They returned to the city by bus and informed me the nature of the problem and also where they had left the scooter.

I went to Belagola early the next morning and as I used to always keep all the essential tools along with a spare spark plug, a headlamp bulb and a set of control cables in the tool compartment, I had it purring smoothly in just a few minutes time.

When I thanked Krishnappa, the owner of the house, and took leave of him, he and his wife Kamala would not let me go without having breakfast! They said that it was an honour for them to have three doctors visiting them in less than twenty four hours and pleaded with me to have just a couple of chapaties with some freshly ground coconut chutney.

Their simple fare was so good that I ended up having not two but four chapaties with dollops of butter melting on each one of them!

I told the couple that I was equally touched and honoured to be their guest and reassured them that they could approach me for any help with their health problems. Thankfully they seem to be bestowed with very good health as they never had an occasion to see me as my patients but still many people from Belagola and the nearby village of Hosa Anandur come to me, giving me their reference.

My good old Lambretta too; once my round-the-clock companion and my work horse that served me faithfully for more than thirty years without giving me any pain beyond a slightly broken front tooth from a fall, still remains with me, enjoying its retirement and my admiration!

A short lesson in humanity from a courier boy

28 May 2013

K.B. GANAPATHY writes: Reading daily newspapers could ignite many unlikely thoughts in the minds of people who are rather sensitive. I probably belong to this class of people and which is why, I was deeply disturbed reading a news item yesterday titled,

“Techie assaulted for parking bike in front of a house — irked residents pelt stones at house”

If it were not for the photograph accompanying the report, it would not have created any deep feeling in me about the pride and prejudice some people suffer from.

Even hubris.

The incident, as reported, was about an IT professional Pradeep who parked his motorcycle seeking shelter from heavy rains that suddenly overtook him, in front of a house in Srirampura, at about 6 pm on Sunday.

Noticing this, the owner of the building, Srinivas, reportedly objected to the parking and a quarrel ensued, resulting in Pradeep being allegedly assaulted.

The residents in the neighbourhood, who were watching the incident, apparently shocked by the conduct of the owner of the building, began pelting stones at the house, further aggravating the situation. The police were informed and their arrival brought the situation under control.

I held the newspaper in my hand for a while and read out the news to my sons who were having breakfast, more as a lesson in harmonious living in a society than for its significance as an earth-shaking event which it was not anyway.

Then, I told them of the news that appeared in Star of Mysore almost a year ago, just to impress upon them the contrast between good and bad in human behaviour during a given situation.

The news was about the former RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan who went missing in our City and was later found.

Sudarshan, 81 years old then, had come to Mysore on a short visit to his brother’s house in Nazarbad. He had left the house early morning for his regular stroll that day. However, he did not return home as expected as he had not only lost his way back home, but was also unable to use his cell phone, which he had left behind.

Sudarshan by then had walked about 6 kms and found himself in Naidunagar. Helpless, he approached a youth who was watering the garden in front of his house and asked for water to drink.

Now look at the civility and nobility of that youth Ashok, 25 years old, working as a courier delivery man, in contrast to Srinivas, who picked up a quarrel with the IT professional Pradeep, who too was in distress of a different kind and sought refuge under the roof of Srinivas’ house.

Ashok did not refuse to give water like Srinivas who refused to give refuge. He took the old man inside his humble abode, offered him a seat and gave him not a glass of water but a glass of butter milk to drink. He even offered Sudarshan breakfast, which the latter refused saying he would have breakfast only after bath.

More importantly, Ashok did all these, not knowing who that old man was. For him it was helping an old man. That is all.

It was only when Ashok switched on the fan and TV that he came to know that the old man sitting in front of him was a VVIP and a Police search was already launched to find his whereabouts. It was only then that Ashok went to the police commissioner and informed about Sudarshan being in his house safe and relaxing.

In my younger days in Pune, a city prone to frequent rains like in Bangalore, I was using Ideal Jawa motorcycle for my transport. As a result, there were many occasions when I had to face sudden pouring of rains, forcing me to nearby houses seeking shelter like the IT professional Pradeep.

No one ever drove me away or quarreled with me like it happened last Sunday at Srirampura. In fact, I still remember one house on Ganesh Khindi road, where I sought shelter. This house happened to belong to a Sindhi family.

I had parked the bike and I had taken shelter under the outer roof, waiting for the rain to abate. Suddenly I see one young boy approaching me with a glass of water which left me wondering then, and on occasions like this remember the gesture of that young boy as nothing less than divine. So was the gesture of Ashok.

Alas! Where has divinity disappeared from this mortal man!!

(K.B. Ganapathy is the editor-in-chief of Star of Mysore, where an expanded version of this piece appeared)

‘Diminishing returns from aggressive Hindutva’

17 April 2013

Opinion polls are crawling out of the woodwork in Karnataka. While most previous surveys have predicted a BJP downfall, a new one by the little-known Prabodhan Research Group, published by The Pioneer, Delhi, suggests it is going to be a hung assembly in the State: Congress 95 , BJP 81, JD(S) 27, KJP and independents eight each, BSR-Congress five.

***

 

Narendar Pani of the national institute of advanced studies (NIAS), in Mail Today:

“There are also signs of aggressive Hindutva being a vote loser. Long before the BJP came to power in Karnataka it had a strong cadre-based stronghold in coastal Karnataka.

“When it came to power this area became the laboratory for its strong Hindutva methods. Churches were targeted, young couples of mixed religions were attacked, and moral policing took on a new momentum. But far from attracting fresh support, the BJP appears to have lost ground in this region.

“In the recent elections to urban local bodies in this region the BJP lost several ULBs, including one that it had not lost for 40 years.

“If Narendra Modi were to step in now and deliver Karnataka to the BJP he would be able to present himself to the nation as the political superhero India was waiting for. And within the BJP all challenges to his leadership will fall by the wayside.

“Which makes it all the more interesting that Narendra Modi has not shown any inclination to take over the leadership of the Karnataka battle. He was not among the national leaders who launched the party’s campaign in the state. Is it that the situation of the BJP in Karnataka is too adverse for even the Gujarat strongman?”

***

THE POLLS SO FAR

Suvarna News-Cfore (April): Congress 115-127 out of 224; BJP 50-60; JD(S) 25-35

Headlines Today-C-Voter (March): Congress 114-122, BJP 48-56, JD(S) 32-38, KJP 10-14

Tehelka-C-Voter (January): Congress 133, BJP 63, JD(S) 19, KJP 5

Suvarna News-CFore (December 2012): Congress 113, BJP 58, JD(S) 31, KJP 14

Prabodhan Research Group (April 2013): Congress 95 , BJP 81, JD(S) 27, KJP and independents eight each, BSR-Congress five

Read the full article: Karnataka elections

Also read: Why is corruption not an issue in Karnataka?

POLL 2013: Can the Karnataka opinion polls go awry?

POLL 2013: Has A. Ramdas not supplied ‘henda‘?

It’s unofficial: our democracy has a bribe future

POLL: Is Advani more ‘acceptable’ than Modi?

16 April 2013

In politics, like in cricket, nothing is in the realm of the impossible. And it is not over till the last ball is bowled (and sometimes not even that, if it is a front-foot no-ball). So, what was projected to be a head-to-head faceoff between Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi for the 2014 elections is showing signs of becoming anything but.

In other words, it’s time to dip into the Kuala Lumpur Police Department manual.

On the one hand, the “young yuvaraj” seems to have presumptively developed cold feet about wanting to take over the mantle, as if the people of democratic India were dying to hand it over to him. Result: prime minister Manmohan Singh feels emboldened to answer hypothetical questions on a third term, if Congress wins, if UPA comes to power, if….

But it is what is happening in the other corner that is even more captivating.

After prematurely building himself up as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Modi is coming to terms with reality outside TV studios. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar‘s comment, among others, that “only one who can carry with him all the diverse sections of people can become the leader of the nation” is proving to be the spark.

Suddenly, a bunch of people within the BJP are finding virtue in L.K. Advani.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has realised that he is without doubt “our tallest leader“. Former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh finds him the “seniormost“. And former finance minister Yashwant Sinha says, “if Advani is available to lead the party and the government, that should end all discourse.”

The BJP’s allies too are piping in. Naresh Gujral of the Shiromani Akali Dal says “nobody can have any objection to Advani’s candidature. He is a senior and respected leader.” K.C. Tyagi of the JD(U) says, “We contested under Advani’s leadership in 2009 and will have absolutely no hesitation in doing so again.”

So, could Modi vs Rahul in 2014 become a Manmohan vs Advani battle?

Does Advani have the backing of the RSS or of larger BJP for the top job? Is the “man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred“—the brain behind the bloody rath yatra that led to the demolition of the Babri masjid—really “more secular” than Modi? Or, are his BJP colleagues and NDA allies firing from his shoulders against Modi?

Could Advani, 84, gracefully make way for a younger aspirant, like say Sushma Swaraj (who has the OK of Shiv Sena), or will he throw his hat in the ring? Does he have the carry that Modi enjoys?

Or is the “man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred“—the brain behind the bloody rath yatra that led to the demolition of the Babri masjid—destined to become a two-time “former future prime minister of India“? And is the next general election a semi-final before another election in 2015 or 2016?

Also read: Who could be the NDA’s PM candidate?

‘Media in Karnataka is complicit in moral policing’

9 April 2013

Naveen Soorinje, the Kannada news television reporter who spent four months in jail for capturing on camera the moral policing of a homestay in Mangalore by a Hindu fundamentalist group, has given an interview to Geeta Seshu, who hosts the free speech centre at the media blog, The Hoot:

# Media support for the vigilantism was, barring a few exceptions, absolute. The media played a major role in the growth of communal elements in coastal Karnataka. Very clearly, it took the side of the perpetuators and gave all acts of the vigilante groups a religious colour.

“The moral high ground sought to be occupied and evangelistic notions of saviours of virtue and tradition of these vigilante groups was mirrored by media reports of their attacks.

# Headlines in newspapers routinely referred to ‘dharmadetu’ and said those attacked should be happy they were getting ‘free’ education into religious principles and values!

In another instance, when a raid by the local wings of the Durga Vahini and Bajrang Dal (Hindu fundamentalist organisations for women and men respectively) took place in a pub where some girls were found smoking, the headline and copy stressed that the smokers were ‘rescued’.

# The media’s role is deeply disturbing and attempts to discuss biased media coverage with colleagues have been completely futile, with sharp divides between journalists who aligned with one religious group or the other. Moreover, with the spread of the Hindutva agenda into villages and rural areas, it became even more difficult.

Muslim or Christian groups did try to counter the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and there were some attempts to bring in their own brand of fundamentalism, but these efforts were negligible and largely ineffectual.

# I wouldn’t go so far as to say the media was using communalism to sell. The media support for communal elements was not linked to TRPs or the selling of dramatic attacks of one community over the other. The media’s ideological support for the perpetuators of such attacks was very strong and most disturbing.

During the Church attacks of 2008, a photographer of a leading newspaper, actually snatched a lathi from a policeman present and began beating up the nuns present…

Arrested in November 2012, Soorinje was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including “rioting with deadly weapons”, “unlawful assembly”, “criminal conspiracy”, “using criminal force on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty”, “dacoity” and Section 2 (a) of the Karnataka Prevention of Destruction and Loss of Property Act 1981, and Sections 3 and 4 of The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986.

Read the full article: Media complicit in moral policing

Also read: Look, who’s shaming moral police in State

A fitness regime for moral police by remote

Desh ki police kaise ho? Moral police jaise ho!

How girls pissing in their pants protects Hinduism

POLL: Beginning of the end of BJP in Karnataka?

11 March 2013

Every survey supposedly done by pollsters in Karnataka has shown that the BJP has slammed the doors of the “gateway to the south” on its face. From a low of 113 in a house of 224, pollsters are predicting as high a tally as 133 for the Congress. And almost every poll has shown that the BJP could end up between 30 and 40 seats shy of the Congress in the legislative assembly, which means there is no room for “Operation Kamala-II”, the disgusting subversion of democracy that the legal lights of the BJP hailed.

If there was room for doubt if not suspicion about the motives and motivations of these polls, the results of the March 7 elections to the urban local bodies dispel them somewhat. The Congress has won three of the seven city corporations, so far. The BJP has been routed in Bellary, the epitome of all that has been wrong with Karnataka politics in recent years. And the BJP is staring at the prospect of ending up not even second but third in the tally of the wards under its belt.

Questions: Is it all over the BJP in Karnataka or could the assembly elections spring a surprise? Can the heady cocktail of casteism, communalism and corruption that was the hallmark of BJP rule in Karnataka blunt the hype surrounding its government in Gujarat?

Is a resounding victory the end of Congress’s troubles or the beginning of the tussle for leadership? And even if it comes up trumps in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, will the Congress ever make up in Karnataka, what it is most likely to lose in Andhra Pradesh?

Where would Narendra Modi be without the UPA?

19 January 2013

The veteran editor Sunanda K. Datta-Ray in The Telegraph:

Narendra Modi is the UPA’s creation. Despite his vigorous self-projection and the propaganda, both strident and sophisticated, of acolytes, he would never have been considered prime ministerial material but for what Azim Premji called a “complete breakdown in public governance across the board” under the UPA….

“Just as a young woman slapped Mohan Bhagwat, Congress needs to slap down Modi’s pretensions, not to save Rahul Gandhi’s career but to save the secular democratic polity that alone can hold India together in a harmonious union worth living in.

“The only way it can do so is by attending to the “widespread governance deficit in almost every sphere of national activity covering government, business and institutions” that Premji, Deepak Parekh and others highlighted in their letter to the prime minister. Their assessment that “the biggest issue corroding the fabric of our nation is corruption” cannot have been news to Manmohan Singh.

“The decision by 83 senior retired bureaucrats to move the Supreme Court over the decline in administrative services was another warning of the “urgent need to depoliticize management of transfers, postings, inquiries, promotions, reward, punishment and disciplinary matters relating to civil servants”, to quote one of the petitioners, T.S.R. Subramanian, a former cabinet secretary.

“All this assumes crucial importance because the economic dynamo of Manmohan Singh’s dreams is running out of steam. There is already talk abroad that the “I” in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) should denote Indonesia. Prices, especially of food, are soaring. Despite a contrived market boom, India is plagued by high current account and fiscal deficits. The new one-rupee coin invites contempt….

“A nation with 200 million Muslims cannot be ruled by someone whose ascent recalls the Kampfzeit (time of struggle) that assailed Germany when military defeat, diplomatic humiliation and economic catastrophe (with a loaf of bread costing 80 billion marks) led to the death of public decency.”

Read the full column: Laughing up his sleeve

Also read: Narendra Modi cannot be the face of India’

‘Why Narendra Modi will never be India’s PM’

Why our silly middle-class loves Narendra Modi

Does our ‘sanskriti’ sanction regressive MCPs?

11 January 2013

The journalist and author Sandipan Deb in Mint:

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said that rape happens in India, not Bharat. Let us be charitable. Let us assume that by Bharat-India he was not referring to the rural-urban divide that is now the media’s fashionable metaphor. Let us assume that by Bharat, he meant our ancient sanskriti, and by India, he is talking about all of us corrupted by Western culture. But this is so naïve an interpretation that it beggars belief.

Our puranas and epics are chock-a-block with tales of lusty gods and wildly libidinous heroes. Consider Indra, king of the gods. Overcome with lust (not an uncommon occurrence for him), he made love to Ahalya, wife of Rishi Gautama, pretending to be the rishi, and was trying to sneak off when the irate husband caught up with him and cursed him with a thousand vaginas on his body—sahasrayoni.

Later, after much pleading, he turned the vaginas into eyes. Ahalya, though innocent, received no such pardon. Gautama turned her into stone, and thus she remained till she was touched by the foot of the great god Rama, whose treatment of his wife was certainly rather dubious.

Krishna actively encouraged his friend Arjuna to kidnap Krishna’s sister Subhadra; in fact, in the days of the Mahabharata, kidnapping a woman seems to have been the norm for Kshatriya wooing: think of Bhishma abducting Amba, Ambika and Ambalika for his two step-brothers. And, of course, we fondly tell our children about the teenage Krishna hiding the clothes of the gopinis while they bathed, and returning them only when they came out of the lake, helpless and naked. But then gods are allowed these acts of venal sexual harassment.

Let’s face it, our popular culture even to this day is deeply influenced by regressive and chauvinistic attitudes that our sanskriti glorified. The men in our mythologies were certainly as recklessly randy—if not randier—than anyone thought up by the West.

And let’s not talk about the deification of the mother.

Kunti does not know what her sons have brought home, and asks them to share the booty equally. The five dutiful men then happily sleep with Draupadi, who had given her heart to Arjuna. And such is our ethical system that Draupadi dies early on the long trek to Heaven: her sin being that though she had five husbands, she loved Arjuna more than the others.

(Former managing editor of Outlook* magazine and founder-editor of Open, Sandipan Deb is the author of The Last War, a retelling of the Mahabharata set in the Mumbai underworld)

Read the full column: Fruits of a regressive culture

Also read: Ramayana, Upanishads and the Delhi gangrape

Vacuous media sleazeballs moralizing on Mohan Bhagwat

POLL: Has Modi’s march to Delhi been checked?

20 December 2012

To nobody’s surprise, Narendra Damodardas Modi has secured a remarkable third, consecutive victory for the BJP in Gujarat. But to the shock of his fanatical drumbeaters and hype masters (and internet trolls), he has ended up with two fewer seats than what he had got five years ago: 115 in 2012 versus 117 in 2007.

The reduced margin does little to take away from the significance of the mandate, but it does throw a nice question mark over the expensive and relentless public relations campaign that had been mounted (through TV channels, magazine covers, newspaper ads) to erase the memories of 2002 and to create the self-fulfilling prophecy of the development giant towering over meek, inactive creatures populating the landscape.

The size of the victory also throws a small spanner in his grand design to swiftly move to Delhi and assume charge of his beleaguered party that is no better shape than the Congress, if not worse.

The fact that he has ended up with fewer seats for all that had been invested into his giant leap by corporates, business and media houses, means that many in the BJP and RSS (and not necessarily in that order), and the NDA, will now be emboldened to question what had been assumed for granted: that he would win a huge win on the scale of his persona, serve out a few months as chief minister, hand over charge to one of his chosen ones, and then move to Delhi to lead the BJP charge in the next general election against the hapless Rahul Gandhi.

He might yet do that, but there can be little denying that some of the air has slipped out of the blimp for the moment.

The BJP reverse in Himachal Pradesh (where he made a big song and dance over induction cookers) shows that he still doesn’t possess the pan-Indian appeal that his supporters thought he does. Sans an emotive issue (despite his efforts to spread a canard about Sir Creek or his derisive labelling of Ahmed Patel as Ahmed miyan), Modi is not the force he was expected to be.

Quite clearly, it would require a superhuman to retain the interest or sustain the hype for another five years. So, when exactly will Modi make his move to Delhi? Will it be smooth? Will he able to stomach a rebuff if his advances are spurned by his party colleagues and allies? And will the “former future prime minister” be given the opportunity to stand from Gandhinagar again?

Also read: How many seats will Narendra Modi get?–II

How many seats for Narendra Modi?—I

 

What Rajni missed when he went out to smoke

12 December 2012

Photo Caption

On his 60th birthday, school children in Bangalore hold up notebooks of the City’s most famous cinematic export: Shivaji Rao Gaekwad also known as Rajnikanth.

The books were supplied by the Rajniji Seva Samithi (RSS).

***

The website First Post has published excerpts from a new biography of Rajnikanth by the film scholar Naman Ramachandran, with this passage of his relationship with Kamal Haasan.

“In the beginning, in 1975, just how big a star Kamal Haasan was, today’s generation does not know,’ says Rajinikanth. ‘He was an even bigger star in 1975 than he is now. Old or young, a new artiste had never shaken all of India like he did. I had just entered the cinema industry then.

Apoorva Raagangal, Moondru Mudichu, Avargal, these were all my guru K. Balachander’s films—I became a hero with these three films. After that the films that came, big films like 16 Vayathinile, Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu, Aadu Puli Attam, Aval Appadithan—these were all hit films.

“For those films, if Kamal had said, ‘Don’t cast Rajini,’ nobody would have taken me. I got Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu solely on Kamal’s recommendation.

“So I acted in all these films and then, after I became a big actor, one day Kamal called me and said, ‘Rajini, only if you act alone will you get your own space. If you say no, the cinema world will use us, and you won’t be able to grow.’

“I listened to all that he said. After that I worked on my own.

“Then, after I became a big man, Kamal called me again one day and said, ‘Rajini, you have to be cautious in Tamil cinema. I have seen from a young age—MGR and Sivaji, though they had no rivalry between them, the cinema industry separated them. And because the industry separated them, their fans also separated. That shouldn’t happen with us. The producers and directors I work with, you should work with them too.’

“I don’t know how to thank him.”

Rajinikanth adds, ‘In other industries, people like Mammootty, Mohan Lal, Venkatesh, Chiranjeevi, Amitabh Bachchan and even Dilip Kumar look at me and are amazed how I managed to make a name for myself as an actor in an industry where Kamal Haasan exists. The reason is simple. I grew as an actor just by watching Kamal Haasan acting. I had the good fortune of being able to observe Kamal Haasan from close quarters.

During the shooting of Avargal I was sitting outside when K. Balachander noticed this and got angry. He sent word for me to return to the set and asked me, ‘Did you go outside to smoke? Kamal is acting; observe him. Only then will your acting get even better.’

“From that time, when Kamal acted I wouldn’t go anywhere; I would just sit there and watch. This is the honest truth.”

Buy the book here: Infi Beam

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: A stylish lesson in humility from namma Rajni

11 similarities between Rajni and the iPod

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

The most testing day in the life of Rajnikanth

Don’t tell us you didn’t know this one about Rajni

How Rajnikanth caught the lion

CHURUMURI POLL: Will Yedi exit harm BJP?

4 October 2012

After threatening to leave the Bharatiya Janata Party virtually every fortnight since he resigned from office in disgrace under a haze of sleaze and corruption in July 2011—and after making a mockery of two wonderful Kannada words sthana (position) and maana (respect) since then—former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa has finally mustered the strength and the courage to say that he has had enough with the BJP and will call it quits from the party.

By all indications, Yediyurappa will announce his new party in November or December, in time for the assembly elections due in the first-half of 2013.

Yediyurappa has ruled out joining any other political party although he has been singing paeans of Sonia Gandhi‘s Congress party over the last few weeks, and although Nitish Kumar‘s JD(U) and Mulayam Singh Yadav‘s Samajawadi Party, both avowedly secular parties with little presence in the South, are both said to be toying with the idea of joining hands with Yediyurappa, who cut his teeth in the RSS.

But the questions remain: Has Yediyurappa delayed his exit too long? Has BJP neutralised his influence by allowing him to drag on with his antics? Will Yediyurappa on his own be even half the force he was with the BJP? Will the BJP split help the Congress in the assembly polls? Will Yediyurappa’s new party result in a four-way race in the State and thus make it easier for the BJP?

When the knicker lobby smells a nice opportunity

16 August 2012

It’s a strange political climate in Karnataka today.

While hundreds of young northeasterners “flee” the State, apparently in response to rumours of a possible retaliatory attack on them following the communal violence in Assam, the BJP government, which should be guaranteeing their safety, happily looks on; the home minister even providing an official number of those who left yesterday: 6,800.

On the other hand, dozens of knicker-clad, stick-wielding volunteers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which has convinced itself that the whole problem in the northeast is because of  “illegal migrants”, turn up happily at the Bangalore railway station to express “support” for the northeasterners.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

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

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

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

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

If stomach is the shortest route to a man’s heart…

21 May 2012

B.S. NAGARAJ writes from Bangalore: Here is Udupi Pejawar Mutt seer Sri Vishvesha Teertha swamiji‘s reasoning for his opposition to “sahapankti bhojana” (people of all castes eating together).

“Among other castes (non-Brahmins), there is the practice of eating meat and drinking liquor. If people used to eating satvik food start eating in such company, they run the risk of developing friendship with other castes and take to eating meat and drinking liquor!”

ROFLMAO, as they in Internet slang.

News reports have quoted the swamiji thus at a conference of Brahmins in Shimoga. The conference was debating the topic, “How to retain our (Brahmin) identity while developing harmony with other castes?”

It may cause mirth in some quarters, but it is more likely to evince rage among the usual suspects who by taking him on frequently for his periodic verbal excesses bestow him with undeserved importance.

Reports say that the controversial seer has for the first time “explained” why Udupi’s Sri Krishna temple doesn’t have an arrangement for people of all castes to eat together. He went on to defend the denial of opportunity for sahapankti at Udupi saying “even Basaveshwara didn’t approve of “sahapankti bhojana” with meat-eaters.

Vegetarianism was one way of “saving Brahminhood” and “vegetarianism promotes virtue,” he told the conference.

The inspiration for Hindutva rabble rousers like Uma Bharati and a leading light of the Ramjanmabhoomi campaign, didn’t stop at that. He went on to decry the trend of inter-caste marriages, saying they tend to interfere in the way people live and create imabalances.

There was more such nonsense from the seer.

According to him, if Muslims and Christians are in the habit of being regular in their religious practices it is because of Brahmins. He didn’t explain how though. But in recent times, Brahmins were not regular in daily practices like sandhyavandane, he bemoaned.

Controversy is the Udupi seer’s second name.

Only recently, he had subtly defended “madesnana”, the disgusting ritual of non-Brahmins rolling on the plantain leaves off which Brahmins have eaten. After protests against the practice intensified, he altered his stand saying if the government bans it he wouldn’t oppose it.

And before that, he had begun visiting Dalit colonies only to be rebuffed by Dalit leaders. The head of the Nidumamidi Mutt had then countered that visiting Dalit colonies would change nothing, telling Vishvesha Teertha that he would bow before him if he allowed a Dalit to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Krishna temple in Udupi and offer pooje there.

Incidentally in 2010, the Krishna temple had been denotified by the BJP government in Karnataka and handed over to the ashta mathas (eight seminaries of the Madhva order) at the instance of Vishvesha Teertha, even while there was a claim to the temple by the backward K uruba community.

Conferences of Brahmins were not like the meetings of other castes, according to the Pejavar seer.

“Here we discuss the welfare of the entire Hindu society,” he declared.

But far from showing concern for the larger good of Hindu society, reports seem to suggest that the focus of the conference was more on uniting Brahmins owing allegiance to the three (trimathastha) different philosophies more than anything else. As if they had done something revolutionary, the 13 Brahmin religious heads present resolved to promote the idea of marriages within the larger Brahmin community, irrespective of its sub-sects.

File photograph: Activists of the centre of Indian trade unions (CITU) eat €˜jawar rotis™ at a protest rally in Bangalore in July 2011 (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: ‘Brahmins need a deeksha to awaken empathy’

How religion met politics while you were asleep

For one good turn deserves another and another

What’s in a name? The key to a casteless society

What to do after ravaging our natural resources

Five questions for L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley

24 February 2012

His mouth already full, metaphorically speaking, former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa lunges for a plate of chakkuli and kodebale from the next table, at a meeting of leaders and legislators at his residence in Bangalore on Thursday.

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Who exactly is ruling Karnataka right now?

Exhibit A: The Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGS) guarantees  employment in rural areas. Of the Rs 2,153 crore approved in the budget, districts in Karnataka have spent only Rs 1,265 crore—58% of the allocated funds—despite severe drought.

Exhibit B: Studies have shown 37% of children are underweight, about 28% are undernourished, and 5.5% of children die of hunger before they reach five years. Prevalence of malnutrition in Karnataka in Raichur and other districts has reached epic proportions.

Exhibit C: The process of naming a Lok Ayukta to replace Justice Santosh Hegde is still going on months after he remitted office, even  as minister after minister or official or other is caught every now and then with mind-boggling income totally unrelated to his / her income.

Exhibit D: The ‘blue babies’, the 3 MLAs  who were watching porn material while the legislative assembly session was on have already shamed the party, on top of all those caught in similar misdemeanours.

These are only few examples.

Despite all these major problems confronting the State and the ruling party, the only issue the BJP MLAs and BJP ministers seem to be interested in is: when will D.V. Sadananda Gowda pack up and go leaving the seat for B.S. Yediyurappa?

For this, dinner meetings spending lakhs of rupees are held,  the ex-CM dashes in and out of either Benares or Vaishnodevi, burning tax-payers’ money as if he is just taking a stroll from his bed-room to drawing room. The Veerashaiva swamijis, who are ready to jump into this any time, have become willing partners in this plot.

Confabulations are held in resort after resort, plans are afoot to unseat the CM by hook or crook.

Here are five key questions:

1) Why are sanctimonious BJP and RSS leaders tolerating such natak from its political actors in Karnataka, week after week, month after month?

2) Why is BJP president Nitin Gadkari putting up with such an audacious and brazen lust for power, giving room for suspicion?

3) Now there seems to be a plan to bring in Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat, to replace D.V. Sadananda Gowda, a vokkaliga, becasue Yediyurappa cannot become CM immediately. How can the BJP make such casteist moves so openly?

4) Why is the central BJP allowing the authority of present chief minister to be so openly eroded?After all they nominated him for the post after all sorts of discussions and he is the elected leader of the legislature party.

5) Why are leaders like the former future prime minister of India L.K. Advani and the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley mum on the subject? Can they unseat a CM and replace him with another against whom cases are still pending, no matter how much he hankers for the post?

BJP will again become a laughing stock if they bring back Yediyurappa due to coercion, religious and caste politics.  The cases against him are still on and he has not been declared innocent. He is only out on bail.

Meanwhile, let the administration be damned in the State.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Will BJP win Karnataka again?

How BJP turned Karnataka politics into a cartoon

Raichur, malnutrition deaths and BJP ‘governance’

Yella OK, guru. Nanna makkalu is not learning

CHURUMURI POLL: Is BJP casteist on corruption?

6 January 2012

Nothing underlines hypocrisy better than when the shoe is on the other foot. When an anti-corruption campaigner who is waving the national flag for the Lok Pal bill (Kiran Bedi) is found to have fudged travel bills, or her compatriot (Shanti Bhushan) is charged of evading stamp duty of over a crore of rupees, it convinces even the most optimistic cynic in the Republic that hamaam mein sab nange hain.

And so it is with the BJP.

For months, actually for well over a year and a half, the so-called main opposition “party with a difference” at the Centre has feasted on the torrent of corruption scandals raining in on the Congress-led UPA government; its spokespersons sitting on the high moral pedestal offered by nightly television and holding forth self-righteously, like angels in the augean stables.

The  “former future prime minister of IndiaL.K. Advani, even went on a self-serving yatra, with the Hudco-scam tainted H.N. Ananth Kumar (whose links with Niira Radia is now legend) as his navigator. That the BJP was doing all this grandstanding even while B.S. Yediyurappa and other members of his outstanding cabinet were burning the candle of corruption at both ends was pure irony.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot once again, with a fullblown crisis having erupted in Uttar Pradesh over the BJP’s induction of scam-tainted former BSP minister, Babu Singh Khushwaha, into its ranks. This, even while the party boycotts Union home minister P. Chidambaram in Parliament on the 2G scam issueThe point here is not the BJP’s selective  blindness to corruption—that is every party’s weakness—rather, it is the BJP’s response to it.

Uma Bharati has raised a banner of revolt against Khushwaha’s inclusion threatening to stop campaigning for the party in UP; her close friend Yogi Adityanath has said he will quit the party; party luminaries like Maneka Gandhi and Kirti Azad have spoken out; and the party’s central leadership is said to be vertically split over Khushwaha’s inclusion reportedly engineered by party chief Nitin Gadkari, Ananth Kumar, et al.

The RSS is reported to have stepped into the picture and warned against accommodating the corrupt, and all indications are that Khushwaha will be dropped like a hot potato.

So, here is the question, notwithstanding the fact that Uma Bharati too is an OBC leader. How is it that vocal sections of the BJP and RSS find a voice against corruption only when Dalits (like Bangaru Laxman) or backward class leaders (like Khushwaha) are caught in a scam? Why was it absent when Yediyurappa (a Lingayat) was bringing such ignominy to the party, or when other upper caste members like Pramod Mahajan (a Brahmin) were not exactly smelling of roses?

Is the BJP casteist on a secular issue such as corruption?

CHURUMURI POLL: Advani yatra in Karnataka?

24 October 2011

Lalchand Kishinchand Advani‘s near-comical anti-corruption yatra—with the HUDCO scam-tainted Ananth Kumar (whose links with the 2G scam tainted Niira Radia are well known) as the navigator—has predictably taken a farcical turn even before the rath rolls into BJP’s gateway to the south, Karnataka.

With minister after dishonourable minister, led by the former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, warming cell after VIP cell at the central jail in Parapanna Agrahara, and more on the way, the hypocricy of Advani’s “antim yatra” is there for all to see: should he or shouldn’t he visit “India’s most corrupt State“?

Orignally, the plan was that the “former future prime minister of India” would bravely wade through the “mine”field that the Reddy brothers have rendered of Karnataka. Then, as the noose tightened around several BJP ministerial necks over the denotification scam, it was amended.

Yes, he would come to the State, but only to the coastal parts, not Bangalore, where Yediyurappa & Co are spending a dark Deepavali and Dhanteras. But, before the world could digest the flip-flop, it was clarified that Advani would stick to his original gameplan and visit the State capital on October 30, as the Ananth Kumar faction, which reportedly wants Yediyurappa expelled, wanted.

Before Team Advani changes its mind again, here’s the question: should Advani visit Karnataka? With what face can he rant against corruption when a BJP-ruled State can very nearly be run from the central jail, or when his own navigator is not beyond scrutiny? And if he does make it to Karnataka, what should be Advani’s sentinel message?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: L.K. Advani‘s antim yatra?

CHURUMURI POLL: Will the BJP dump B.S. Yediyurappa?

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt CM?

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

Those who live by the Reddys shall die by them

Gandhi’s Dandi march to Yedi’s Danda march

16 October 2011

Power minister Shobha Karandlaje arrives at the Sri Jayadeva institute of cardiovascular sciences & research in Bangalore on Sunday, to visit former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who was rushed there after he complained of chest pain following his arrest and incarceration in the denotification scam on Saturday night. KPN photo.

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ajji was watching the TV intently.

Konegoo Yediyurappanna arrest maadidrallo!”

Howdajji.”

“He went where no chief minister from our State had ever gone before, even if it was for a few hours.  As an inmate of the special VIP cell he himself had okayed in an act of great perspicacity, he is sure to have inspected the quality of work first hand.”

“That’s right, Ajji.”

“Is it putra vyamoha which helped him turn a blind eye while his children were amassing wealth even while he was visiting temples day and night, spouting devara naama and vachana saahitya? I wish he had followed whatever he had said while visiting the mutts and temples. It’s sad.”

“It looks like he didn’t mean whatever he said. He is the first former CM in Karnataka to be sent to jail for alleged corruption.”

“Chief minister ninda thief minister aago haage aaythallo.”

Howdajji.”

Adirli kano, Ramu. Advani yavara yathra eega advaana aythallo!”

“Yes. Advani’s yatra against corruption has become a joke now, with a BJP leader in the “gateway to the south” now in a jail called hospital. Advaniji should have started his yatra in Karnataka, ajji.”

Ayyo! Had he done that it would have got stuck for days and months in Bellary and Vidhana Soudha. They would have had to do paada pooje every few yards in the name of some jailed minister, MLA or the other.”

Howda, Ajji?”

“What else? The party which came to power saying it would be different, really showed how different it was. Scam after scam whether it is land or kabbinada aduru. Aduru konegoo sarkaarana ‘adursu’ bidthoo  nodu.”

“Yes. It’s the mining which brought his government down and land scam which sent him to jail. It also brought in so much money to buy MLAs and start Operation Kamala and Vimala and all that to distort democracy.”

Naachikkegedu. When he walked to the governor’s office to give his resignation letter, his daughter had said it reminded her of Gandhiji’s Dandi march! The gall.”

Howdajji.”

“Walking between policemen holding sticks this is a danda march in a way. Adirli, Krishniah Shettru was also sent to jail. Isn’t he the one who brought trainloads of Ganga jala and distributed to all temples in the State during Shivarathri?”

Howdajji.”

Uddharavaaythu!”

“I also heard that the Lok Ayukta police raided ‘hosa Gowdru’ Balakrishna Gowda?”

“Yes, Ajji. On charges of accumulating more than Rs 500 crore of property and wealth, many many times more than his salary as a KAS officer.”

Ayyo Devre! Isn’t he poor  Gowda’s son, our farmer prime minister?”

“Yes. Farmer former prime minister’s son, Ajji.”

“Karnatakaana devare kaapadbeku. Only God should save Karnataka.”

Devaralla, Ajji. Munche Deve Gowdru kaapadidru. Aa mele Yeddyurappa navaru kaapadtha bandru.”

Saakappa saaku! Because of their rule even God cannot save us from total ruin!”

Long arm of law catches up with a desh-bhakt

15 October 2011

Nothing—not the permanent vermilion mark on his forehead; not the myriad visits to temples and mutts; not the prostration before swamijis and godmen; not the advice of astrologers and numerologists; not the maata-mantra; nothing—could eventually save former Karnataka chief minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, from the clutches of man-made law.

Here, after the Lok Ayukta special court rejected his bail plea and issued an arrest warrant in connection with the corruption cases registered against him for illegally denotifying land in and around Bangalore, the ex-CM leaves the court premises in Bangalore on Saturday with a wry smile.

The court sent him to judicial custody till October 22.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Plus: The best pictures of Yediyurappa on planet earth

***

Also read: Do Yeddi & Co have no faith in State temples?

Should netas swear before god in secular India?

How the BJP raised witchcraft to statecraft

Do our gods sanction our politicians’ silly games?

Is Janardhana seve Janata seve in Kumaraswamy book?

CHURUMURI POLL: Black magic in Silicon Halli?

What the stars foretell for our avivekanandas


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