Posts Tagged ‘sangh parivar’

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

Will Yediyurappa return change BJP fortunes?

11 July 2013

What goes around, comes around. Barely months after he left the party fuming and fretting, barely months after the party thought it had seen the back of him, B.S. Yediyurappa and the BJP—both chastened by the defeat in the Karnataka assembly elections—are apparently eyeing each other.

In one sense, it is a reality check for the BJP, which likes to think of itself as a cadre-based party, and for Yediyurappa, who thought that his standing was alone enough to carry him to power. With both the party and the individual realising their limitations, they are thinking of mending broken bridges.

In another sense, it is also a reflection of the changed if not changing reality in the BJP. With “two-time former future prime minister” L.K. Advani, who apparently played a key role in Yediyurappa’s ouster, no longer calling the shots, Yediyurappa sees an opening in the new scheme of things under Narendra Modi. And vice-versa.

Both sides are now playing coy. The BJP wants him to formally “apply” to rejoin the party. Yediyurappa, for his part, says the majority of his followers only want a tie-up with the parent body, not a formal merger. Either way, the path is being paved for the return of the prodigal.

Still, there is such a thing as political morality. When Yediyurappa walked out, the BJP painted all the excesses of his government—the corruption, the scams, the scandals—to him and his cronies. Will facilitating Yediyurappa’s return impact Modi’s national ambitions? Will the BJP emerge stronger in Karnataka with Yediyurappa’s return, or is this too convenient an arrangement which voters will see through?

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’

‘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?

POLL: Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi in 2014?

21 January 2013

The contours of the next general election are becoming ever more clearer with the expected “elevation” of Rahul Gandhi as the vice-president of the Congress. Given the repeated rumours on the state of Sonia Gandhi‘s health and her reported desire to retire from politics at the age of 70, it is obvious the leadership of the 130-year-old Congress party has passed on to a fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

But Rahul Gandhi is no Rajiv Gandhi. His father was 40 when he became PM, Rahul is 42. His father was thrown into the deep end all of a sudden, Rahul has been around for several years. And more tellingly, despite his travels across the country and his exertions in several election campaigns, Rahul Gandhi has not quite been the vote-magnet that Congressmen suspected he would be, having lost Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

But all that is in the past tense now. As the new, official No.2, the silence that Rahul Gandhi adopted as part of his mystique (he has only barely attended Parliament and spoken even more rarely on the issues of the day)—and the reluctance that he conveyed through his swift disappearances after parachuting into the rough and tumble, allowing lesser mortals to face the flak for his failed experiments—is no longer a luxury he owns.

For politics is a game played with a scoreboard, and push has come to shove for the scam, scandal tainted party that is facing diminishing returns across the country despite a slew of well-meaning social welfare schemes designed to fetch votes by the bucket.

Although the BJP is in no better shape, the word on the street is that Rahul Gandhi’s elevation will serve as an impetus for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to assume a bigger, larger role in the BJP before the next general elections. With his hat-trick of wins in the State and with his advertised record as an administrator, Modi has a headstart over Rahul Gandhi, nearly 20 years his junior.

Indeed paradoxically, Modi, 62, is seen as more of a youth icon than Rahul Gandhi, who was missing in action when, say, the Delhi gangrape was scorching the party or when Google, Facebook and Twitter were being clogged up by the Oxford and Harvard educated geniuses in Manmohan Singh‘s government.

However, elections in India is not a zero-sum game.

So, given all the imponderables that swing into play—caste, allies, secularism, communalism, etc—who do you think will come up trumps if it is Modi vs Gandhi in 2014? Does Rahul, who has the Gandhi surname, have the pan-national appeal that goes beyond the urban middle-classes? Which of the two could garner more allies, so crucial in a coalition era? Which alliance will triumph—UPA or NDA?

Also read: What Amethi’s indices tell us about Rahul Gandhi

Jesus, Mozart, Alexander aur apun ka Rahul Gandhi

In one-horse race, Rahul baba is a two-trick pony

‘Politics is about solving problems, not evading them’

After Manmohan who? Chidu, Diggy or Rahul?

‘Most opaque politicians in the democratic world’

A functioning anarchy? Or a feudal democracy?

One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi—Part I

One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi—Part II

Only question anyone should ask Rahul Gandhi

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

 

POLL: Does Yediyurappa’s KJP stand a chance?

10 December 2012

The disgraceful nataka in BJP-ruled Karnataka has taken yet another farcical turn with the former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa formally launching his own regional party, the Karnataka Janata Party, from the central town of Haveri on Sunday. With just a few months to go before the term of the current assembly ends, the “gateway to the south” is clearly now in election mode.

Yediyurappa’s is not the first regional party in the State: from D. Devaraj Urs to Ramakrishna Hegde to S. Bangarappa, the pot of regionalism has been periodically simmering, usually in vain. But there are three key differences between then and now.

One, while those worthies at least had the semblance of the greater common good—social justice, land reforms, secularism, etc—Yediyurappa and his ilk have had no bigger aim or objective than cloaking their own self-interest in reginoal colours . Witness the constant refrain of “sthaana-maana” in the last couple of years.

Two, while M/s Urs, Hegde and Bangarappa represented small communities, Yediyurappa represents the large Lingayat community, which is neck and neck with the Vokkaligas in numerical strength. So, to that extent, Yediyurappa has given his community the political equivalent of H.D. Deve Gowda‘s Janata Dal (Secular).

And three, and perhaps most importantly, Yediyurappa’s party comes at a time when the two national parties, the Congress and BJP, are in decline across the nation, as evidenced by diminishing vote share and seat share, odd exceptions notwithstanding.

Questions: Will Yediyurappa’s attempt pay off? Is Karnataka ready for a regional party? Will he eat into BJP votes or Congress votes? Can he get the majority to form a government? If not, will he tie up with the BJP or the Congress? Or, will his political outfit be an insiginficant player, which will be his shield against the cases against him and his sons?

Also read: Is it all over for B.S. Yediyurappa?

How much longer will BSY stay in BJP?

CHURUMURI POLL: Will BJP dump BSY?

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?

Western Ghats, UNESCO & Karnataka’s politicians

19 August 2012

D.E. Nizamuddin“, the gossip columnist who once adorned the pages of M.J. Akbar‘s now-defunct Sunday magazine, has resumed his column at Niti Central, the centre-right website.

His first piece has this telling item:

“This is a first even for our permissive politicians. In Karnataka politicians of all hues seemed to have joined hands to  spurn the UNESCO proposal to declare the Western Ghats a world heritage site. This is an honour most nations seek, nay, work behind the scenes to get because it bestows international recognition on ancient monuments, old cities, pristine ecosystems, etc. But in Karnataka there seems to be a conspiracy to reject the UNESCO offer because it would then prevent politicians from milking the Western Ghats through unbridled exploitation by friendly real estate developers, miners, etc. Can one rely on BJP president Nitin Gadkari to put drive sense into the heads of whoever in his party is in control of the Government at this moment?

Read the column: Olympians, politicians and babus

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

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

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

India’s most photogenic former CM strikes again

17 May 2012

If only B.S. Yediyurappa wasn’t striking this pose in flesh and blood while visiting his new office in Malleshwaram (that will be inaugurated in Bangalore on Friday), his fans and followers could have accused us of morphing his pictures.

That’s picture no.33 in the world’s best portfolio of photographs of the former Karnataka chief minister.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The world’s best pictures of B.S. Yediyurappa

POLL: Can Congress beat BJP in Karnataka?

16 May 2012

There is nothing like counting your naati chickens before they hatch and licking your fingers in expectant glee.

On the day sleuths of the CBI escorted B.S. Yediyurappa one step further into the dark, deep hole that he diligently dug for himself over four years, exultant Congress workers take out a “funeral procession” of the BJP government in Bangalore on Wednesday, although the grand old party’s ability to capitalise on the BJP’s continuing strife is unclear.

***

In the Indian Express, Sandeep Shastri of the centre of research in social sciences and education writes:

“The Congress clearly senses an advantage in the coming assembly polls. Given the state of the BJP and the record of its government, it could well be a political climate that will work to their advantage. However, the record of the Congress in Karnataka shows that it has the skill of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

“In the past, it has often managed to defeat itself. While the party has made a concerted effort to demonstrate a show of unity, this has still to be reflected in the behaviour of its senior leaders. There are too many claimants for a chief ministership after an election that is yet to be won.

“Given the trend across the country, it may be a good idea for the Congress to declare its chief ministerial candidate and get the party solidly behind that leader.

“In the past, when the high command declared its chief ministerial candidate, the campagin acquired clear direction and there was visible enthusiasm among party workers. It would give them an advantage in preparation for the polls.”

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Read the full article: Karnataka free for all

What should BJP do about Yediyurappa problem?

14 May 2012

The BJP’s disgraceful nataka in Karnataka continues without a pause. Nary a fortnight passes without TV viewers and newspaper readers being woken up to the now familiar anthem of name-calling, muscle-flexing and shadow-boxing. And so it is this May in the year of the lord 2011.

After breathing fire and brimstone over the CBI probe okayed by the Supreme Court into B.S. Yediyurappa‘s wheeling and dealing, and after merrily slapping their thighs all weekend, the nation’s most ethically, morally, financially and sexually challenged bunch of legislators have now tucked their tail between their legs for another day.

Which will be some day soon.

After praising Sonia Gandhi one afternoon and threatening to resign from the party and bring down the government, the former chief minister has said he will not quit party for now and assumed his familiar position as the nuisance maker whom the BJP cannot swallow or spit out if it doesn’t want to lose the keys to the gateway to the South.

So, it’s back to status quo ante. A severely hobbled State government which doesn’t know if it is staying or going. A chief minister who doesn’t know if he is talking to friend or foe. An administration that is driving the State down to the dust, in a season of drought and despair. And a State whose reputation is being wrecked on a daily basis.

Question: what can the BJP do to get out of this hole?

***

Photograph: Former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa leaves the Siddaganga mutt in Tumkur after calling on Sri Shivakumara swamiji  on Monday (Karnataka Photo News)

***

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: All over for Yedi?

How much longer will BSY stay in BJP?

CHURUMURI POLL: Will BJP dump BSY?

CHURUMURI POLL: Yediyurappa as CM again?

CHURUMURI POLL: Why were journos targetted?

5 March 2012

Suvarna News editor-in-chief Vishweshwar Bhat (fifth from right, third row from top) addresses journalists from across the state at a rally to protest the attack by advocates, in Bangalore on Monday.

There is something quite unreal and almost unbelievable about the extraordinary violence unleashed by lawyers on mediamen in Bangalore on Friday last.

For starters, there is the timing of it. It came precisely on the day the disgraced BJP minister G. Janardhana Reddy, whose millions mined from the hills of Bellary installed the BJP in power and who has spent the last few months luxuriating in a jail in Hyderbad, was being presented in court. So, was it an attempt to deflect attention?

Then the unprovoked vandalism, which is what it clearly was regardless of the faults of the media, came within days of the so-called “Porngate” scandal, in which TV channels had ripped the veil of sanctimony that BJP’s members love to cloak themselves in for the benefit of the cameras. So, was it an act of revenge?

Then there is the sheer scale of the goondagiri, going on for hours not very far from the seat of government, the Vidhana Soudha, almost suggesting that the BJP government was either not interested in ending the violence or, worse, wanted it to go on long enough so that the media could be taught a lesson for all its accumulated sins. So, were the chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and home minister R. Ashok government complicit?

And then there are all the usual questions about the criminalisation of the judiciary, which becomes quite apparent looking at the still and moving images of lawyers deftly hurling bricks. Doubtless, the judicial commission appointed by the government will get to the bottom of all this, but what do you think provoked the violence? And going by the manner in which both sides are beating their breasts, will there be an amicable settlement soon, or are the battlines drawn?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read:Bangalore lawyers not to represent media houses

How Kannada channels hit back at lawyers

Why news of the porn scam did not reach Athani

If this can happen so close to Vidhana Soudha…

3 March 2012

N. Manjunath, a photojournalist with Karnataka Photo News, is beaten up by advocates at the City civil court in Bangalore on Friday.

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: What is wrong with our Black Coats?

Why are lawyers, who are supposed to uphold the law, protect innocents, work along with their compatriots in other professions like media and police, taking law into their hands are behaving like front-rank hooligans, time after time?

Amidst all the mayhem let loose on cameramen, lady journalists and media equipment at the civil courts in Bangalore on Friday, the police stood transfixed and immobile.

Was it deliberate and on orders?

If a set of thugs wearing whatever colour of coats turn into hooligans and beat up everybody, shouldn’t the protectors of law prevent this massacre? Were they waiting orders from the home minister or the chief minister himself to take any action?

If this kind of lawlessness is condoned by the government of the day, barely a kilometre from the scene of action, God help rest of Karnataka living in far flung places.

When  photographs both still and video clippings are available of those who were indulging in arson and beating up everybody to initiate action against them, why do they need a  ‘thorough enquiry’ which will take its own time?

The question again arises: who is ruling the State?

How is it that lawyers are repeatedly breaking the law and no action is even contemplated against them?

Less than a month back they held Bangalore city to ransom which resulted in massive rasta roko with school kids unable to go home; ladies caught in the melee. Again the BJP government didn’t take any action.

Friday’s episode is a shameful repeat of the previous incident but with a larger question mark over the government’s ability to protect a free press. It appears the State might have taken the ‘tit for tat’ on the porno-gate issue.

When Karnataka is trying to invite more investment into the State, if law and order becomes an issue every second day, the government can say ‘goodbye’ for foreign investment. Investors mainly look for a government which upholds law and order, an environment which is safe to conduct business free from Rasta rook etc.

If the Government does not see the warning signs it will go the West Bengal way. There’s no doubt about that.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: How Kannada channels hit back at lawyers

How the BJP turned Karnataka politics into a cartoon

Why news of the porn scam did not reach Athani

The porn film the BJP ministers should have watched


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