Posts Tagged ‘BSP’

CHURUMURI POLL: Has India lost moral compass?

23 October 2012

In its 62nd year as a Republic, India presents a picture that can only mildy be termed unedifying.

Scams are raining down on a parched landscape with frightening ferocity. From outer space (2G, S-band) to the inner depths of mother earth (coal), the Congress-led UPA has had it all covered in its second stint. Meanwhile, Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of the first family of the Congress, has taken charge of scandals at or near sea level.

Salman Khurshid, the smooth-talking Oxford-educated law minister, thinks it is beneath his dignity to respond in a dignified manner to charges of pilfering Rs 71 lakh from the disabled. The Harvard-educated finance minister P. Chidambaram and his family is happily busy gobbling up parts of the east coast from farmers. Etcetera.

But what of the opposition?

The BJP’s president Nitin Gadkari is neckdeep in a gapla of his own,  one that threatens, in fact one that is designed to deprive him of a second stint in office. “Scam”, of course, was the middle-name of party’s Karnataka mascot, B.S. Yediyurappa. From Mulayam‘s SP to Mayawati‘s BSP to Sharad Pawar‘s NCP, from Karunanidhi‘s DMK to Jayalalitha‘s AIADMK, money-making is the be-all and end-all.

The less said of the corporates who have pillaged the country since time immemorial the better but Vijay Mallya presents its most compelling side as he shuts down his airline while his son hunts for calendar girls. The do-gooders of Team Anna and now Team Kejriwal are themselves subject to searching questions on their integrity levels. And the media is busy getting exposed as extortionists and blackmailers.

Questions: Have we as a country completely lost our moral and ethical compass? Are we going through an “unprecedented” phenomenon or is this what the US and other developed democracies like Japan have gone through in their path to progress? Or does it not matter in the greater scheme of things? Is all this leaving the citizenry cynical and frustrated or do we not care because all of us are in it, in our own little ways?

For Congress and BJP, writing is on the UP wall

13 March 2012

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: Uttar Pradesh has proved once again the trend observed  in the assembly elections in  West Bengal and Tamil Nadu last year that political changes are wrought mostly by new voters rather than old voters.

The essential difference is that while in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu new voters en masse plumped for the leading opposition party, in UP new voters distributed their largesse among the main contestants and the Samajwadi party proved to be biggest benefactor.

A study of the electoral behaviour in the country has proved one thing in rather conclusive terms: that parties hold on to their bases generally and the shift of political loyalty is very rare indeed. Whatever shift happens takes place marginally, while the bulk remain loyal to the party they have voted before.

Under the circumstances,  political change depends essentially on new voters.

They comprise of two categories, namely newly enrolled voters and those who, though enrolled, had not previously voted before and come to exercise their franchise for the first time.

In Karnataka, it is the newly enrolled voters, who have regularly voted for the BJP in the past three elections, even managing to catapult the party to power in 2008.  It had happened in West Bengal too, where they supported the Trinamool Congress last time.

In Tamil Nadu first-time voters sent packing home the Karunanidhi government of the DMK and put the crown on  Jayalalitha of the AIADMK.

It has  happened once again Uttar Pradesh elections too, where SP led by the father and son duo of Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh Singh, have turned in a stunning performanance to displace the BSP government of Mayawati and regain power in a very convincing matter.

The UP polls, it may be noted here, witnessed a higher turn out for a State which has a track record of low poll percentages  all these years. For the first time nearly 60% of voters—that is three out of every five voters—turned up at the booths, which is perhaps a record for the State.

It marked a more than 14% increase in the poll turn out and reports said that women turn out was appreciably higher this time.

In terms of  numbers, the increase in poll turn out, meant that more than 2.35 crore voters had cast their votes. This included around 1.38 crore voters who had enrolled themselves as voters for the first time and  remaining chunk being the voters though registered long ago, were exercising their right for the first time.

All these voters were making the choice of parties for the first time.

Of the total of 2.35 crore new votes waiting to be shared, the SP was able to corner a whopping 88 lakhs, to win 224 seats as against 97 in 2007 and earned right to rule the biggest state in India by its own right. This appeared to be direct offshoot of the social engineering done by the SP in the allotment of tickets, the aggressive campaign done by Akhilesh Singh and rising disenchantment with the Mayawati government.

The  ruling BSP which could not match with the superior election campaign of the father-son duo lost the race to retain power. Its only consolation has been that despite all the propaganda unleashed against it, it did receive an additional vote support to the extent of 37.74 lakhs. But this was not enough to retain the power and stem the tide of support that SP had  been able to mop up.  It lost 126 seats to end up with only 80 in a house of 403  but emerge as the main opposition party in the sprawling State.

The Congress, which ran a spirited campaign under the leadership of  Rahul Gandhi, had the next highest share to the extent of 42 lakhs votes. In terms of the seats, it meant an additional six seats to its previous tally of 22.

What is significant is that its share in the polled votes reached the double digit bracket  perhaps for the first time, though it has still a long way to go in quest of power in the state, by taking on the two well entrenched parties, the  SP and the BSP.

All those who are writing off Rahul Gandhi’s campaign as a failure appear to have overlooked a significant fact that the campaign had brought an increase in the base of the Congress. This trend had  also been noticed in Bihar too, where also the campaign was managed by Rahul Gandhi.

The BJP, which regarded the present poll as something of a  runup to the parliamentary polls scheduled in 2014, had quite a disappointing performanance. Though it did receive an additional votes to the extent of  25.19 lakhs,  it lost four seats. Its share in the polled votes showed a decline with the party receiving 15.01% as against 16.96 % of the previous poll.

Another interesting factor is that there had been considerable reduction in the number of voters and seats going to the other splinter parties.  The four main parties between themselves could bag 376 seats in 403-member house, and capture more than 81% of the votes.

From a national point of view, in the context of the  coming parliamentary elections in about two years of time (if not earlier), the prognosis is not good at all for the top two national parties, the Congress and the BJP, whose disconnect with the voters at large has shown no signs of receding.

Of the 2.35 crores of additional voters who exercised their right, in UP, the share of  the two national parties was a  mere 68 lakhs, while a marked higher chunk of votes went in favour of the regional satraps, Mulayam Singh and Mayawati, who between them had received a combined support  to the tune of  1.25 crores of votes.

Going by the present mood, it is unlikely that the either the Congress or the BJP is able to show any improvement in the days preceding the next poll.

Why youth, women hold key to UP poll verdict

5 March 2012

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: Greater participation of voters in the poll process keeps democracy alvie and vibrant. This has been proved in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal already, and Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state with a whopping 403-member assembly, is all set to follow suit tomorrow.

Higher voter turnout has been a regular feature in Karnataka since 1999. Newly enrolled voters, numbering around 35 lakhs in each election, have almost en masse plumped for the BJP, helping it to catapult to power for the first time in the south.

Result: in terms of the total vote base in the election, BJP has dislodged the Congress from the number one position. (How the BJP is doing hara-kiri with this is a different matter.)

In last year’s assembly elections, this trend was noticed in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, in particular.

In Tamil Nadu, there was no increase in the electorate. But the turn out was quite high. Around 32.11 lakh more voters turned up at the polling booths. Apparently all of them went for AIADMK, helping Jayalalithaa to end the hegemony of the DMK and Karunanidhi. The AIADMK, had an additional 33.81 lakh votes in its kitty. The inference is obvious.

In West Bengal, the size of the electorate increased by 79.26 lakhs while 81.81 lakh more voters had exercised their franchise. This helped the Trinamul Congress of Mamata Bannerjee, to breach the CPM citadel to put an end to its long reign.

Trinamul had got an additional support of to the extent of 80.31 lakh votes. The CPM suffered slight erosion to the extent of 3.22 lakhs. The Congress lost the support to the extent of 14.74 lakhs while the BJP had gained by 11.74 lakh votes.

From the available information, it seems that similar drama is being enacted in the UP too.

The state which has been under the BSP rule of Mayawati witnessed one of the highest poll turnouts in the seven-phase election this time to the extent of over 62%, in an electorate of 12.70 crores.

Around 1.35 crores new voters had been enrolled this time.

In terms of the voters who exercised their franchise, the increase was by over 2 crores according to the election authorities. The observers have noted a marked enthusiasm among women voters this time.

It is the segment of voters who have absolutely no political commitment whatsoever who are going to write the new political history in the state.

The question is, who is going to be the beneficiary of the voters’ largesse—the two front runners, the BSP and the SP, or the BJP and the Congress, which are in the third and fourth position and lag far behind in terms of the total vote strength?

The odds should obviously favour the balance in favour of the BSP and the SP, who between themselves had accounted for 55.85% of the polled votes last time. And their opponents the BJP and Congress lagged far behind in the race with combined vote strength of around 25%.

The choice between them is quite dicey too. The odds favour SP undoubtedly if the incumbency factor is to be reckoned with. But the scales turning in favour of Mayawati cannot be ruled out too in the context of the high turnout of women voters this time.

The chances of the Congress, which fought under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, and the BJP getting the bonanza may arise if the phenomenon of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, with the entire bunch of the fresh voters extending the support en masse to either of them.

Anyhow what is in the mind of the UP voters would be clear on 6th when the counting of votes is taken up.

CHURUMURI POLL: Is India a liberal Republic?

20 January 2012

On the eve of the 62nd anniversary of the “sovereign socialist secular republic”, a nice little knife has been stuck into the heart of liberal India by goondas and moral policemen. The author Sir Salman Rushdie has pulled out of the Jaipur literary festival following threats from “influential Muslim clerics” of the Darul Uloom Deoband, who suddenly remembered that his banned 1989 novel The Satanic Verses hurt the sentiments of Muslims ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections.

Considering that the book was banned the cowardly Congress government of Rajiv Gandhi 23 years ago, it will surprise nobody that it was the cowardly Congress government of Ashok Gehlot that did the needful this time round. Instead of reassuring the world that the “Indian State” would protect every single individual, down to the last man, woman and child, even if he has offended the super-sensitive and super-patriotic—especially if he has offended the super-sensitive and super-patriotic—the Rajasthan government caved in to the thugs.

And the Manmohan Singh government meekly watched on—just as it meekly watched on when A.K. Ramanujan‘s essay Three-hundred Ramayanas was being proscribed by Delhi University (where Singh’s daughter works), under the benign gaze of Sonia Gandhi and Shiela Dixit (peace be unto them).

While the Congress deserves every brick, shoe and invective hurled at it for the latest “stain on India’s international reputation“—on top of its execrable efforts to screen Facebook, Google and the media—no political party is properly clothed in this horribly naked hamaam which repeatedly and brazenly cocks a snook at free speech and expression.

# The warnings of Hindutva hitmen owing allegiance to the BJP drove M.F. Husain out of India, forcing him to live the last years of his abroad.

# NCP goondas burnt down a library in Poona because its author had used it to write a book on Shivaji, which they didnt’ like.

# In the glorious republic of Gujarat, movie watchers could not catch Parzania because–horror, horror—it showed the plight of Muslim victims in the 2002 pogrom; because, well, Narendra Damodardas Modi‘s government couldn’t offer basic security to theatres.

# Ditto Aamir Khan‘s Fanaa.

# And of course, the “alleged apostle of peace” couldn’t bear the hints of bisexuality in the real apostle of peace, so Joseph Lelyveld‘s book on Mahatma Gandhi was conveniently removed from the eyes of readers.

# In Left-ruled Kerala, a professors’s hand could be merrily chopped off with gay abandon by Islamists because he had mistakenly prepared a question paper that used the named “Mohammed” for a somewhat daft character. (And who can forget what happened to Deccan Herald, when it printed a short story titled Mohamed the Idiot.)

# Taslima Nasreen was unwelcome in Left-ruled Bengal because her views didn’t match those of the mullahs. (She was later attacked by Majlis MLAs in Congress-ruled Hyderabad and her visa reluctantly renewed by the UPA.)

# The BSP government of Behen Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh banned the film Aarakshan because of is “derogatory” take on reservations.

Questions: Are we really a tolerant, liberal nation open to views from all sides? Or in the 21st century, are we utterly incapable of using the word freedom without adding “but” to it?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Does freedom have its limits?

‘Online extremism has lowered tolerance levels’

What’s the correct word for a Hindu fatwa?

Free to live. Not free to do and say as we like?

Why we mustn’t ban the book on the Mahatma

Never—ever—ignore the elephant in the room

10 January 2012

Online, people call it “The Streisand Effect“—an attempt to hide something which has the inverse effect of publicising what you are trying to hide some more. The Election Commission’s quixotic order that those gargantuan statues put up by Mayawati‘s government in Uttar Pradesh be covered up, since the elephant is the symbol of the Bahujan Samaj Party is a bit like that.

Little wonder, cartoonists are having a field day. And Delhi’s political hack-pack which has more or less allowed itself to be convinced by Congress media handlers that the Congress will be kingmaker if not the king himself in Mayaland, are wondering if the EC’s move could boomerang and play to Mayawati’s benefit?

Cartoons: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today and Keshav/ The Hindu

External reading: What if Mayawati was contesting in Kerala?

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?

Is Mayawati pilloried because she is a Dalit?

1 November 2011

With the Uttar Pradesh electoral joust not too far away, the shadow-boxing has begun. The Congress is going to town questioning the hundreds of crores spent by chief minister Mayawati on statues. In the other corner, Mayawati is being credited for uplifting Dalits and tribals and the success of India’s formula one debut is being placed at her door.

There is talk that Mayawati could emerge as a prime minister candidate if not as a kingmaker if the Bahujan Samaj Party does well in the assembly elections and repeats the show in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Which is why apparently the Congress is said to be pushing Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar as a potential PM to steal Mayawati’s thunder.

But, as always, the spectre of corruption hangs over her abrasive figure. Former civil servant Amitabha Pande writes in Mail Today:

Mayawati’s corruption or the growth of her private wealth through the use of political power has a political, cultural dimension which is often ignored. It does not justify it, but it may offer a possible explanation for the blatant manner in which it is done.

“Purely in terms of scale Mayawati will rank quite low in the gallery of rogues in comparison with many members of the Union Cabinet, many present and former chief ministers, sundry progenies and sons in law of prominent political dynasties, and other shadowy denizens of Indian political life. Yet, while most others will evoke nary a reaction from the chatterati, Mayawati’s conduct invariably evokes voluble expressions of revulsion. Caste prejudice is undoubtedly at work here.

“There is also no doubt that as much as the upper classes hate her, her own constituency adores and admires her despite or maybe even because of the growth of her wealth. Her identification with her own lot is so complete that her growth is their growth and a form of retribution for centuries of servitude and exploitation.”

Also read: Is even Ambedkar safe in Mayawati‘s hands?

A leader whose time has come to cross her legs?

CHURUMURI POLL: Can the BSP succeed in Karnataka?

For the doyen of downtrodden, all assets is maya

Is even B.R. Ambedkar safe in Mayawati’s hands?

16 June 2009

M.K. VIDYARANYA writes from Bangalore: “In a world that grows steadily more angry and frightened, the rage and the fear mutually reinforcing each other, it is hard to look back to Mahatma Gandhi‘s kind of leadership without a desperate sense of loss. He loved the poor without hating the rich. He loved the great traditions of Hindu culture without hating the Muslims. He loved his country’s liberty without hating the British. He saw evil, misery and injustice as doing even greater harm to the oppressors than to the oppressed. So he loved his enemies with compassion and sought radical change by non-violent means since violence harms the man who uses it as much as, if not more than, the one who suffers it.”

This was the view of  the renowned author Barbara Ward Jackson in her contribution to the commemorative volume Mahatma Gandhi 100 Years edited by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and published in 1968.

Untouchability was widely prevalent in pre-independence India and the privileged sections of society shamefully practiced it, unleashing a sort of violence on the less privileged.

Gandhi responded by labelling the less privileged as Harijans (God’s men). The privileged were made to shoulder the responsibility of serving the less privileged and thus undoing the wrong done by their predecessors, generations after generations.

Gandhi founded Harijan Sevak Sangh during his life time and he was its founding President.

Gandhi had a higher goal and objective in doing all this and had he survived his assassin’s bullets, would have perhaps strived even harder to create an integrated nation by breaking the social alienation between Harijans and the rest of the population.

All this, of course, is known.

However, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati‘s scathing attack on the Mahatma is surprising, if not ill motivated. While addressing a meeting of MPs and legislators of her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), she is said to have called the Father of the Nation a ‘natakbaaz‘ (fake).

In Mayawati ‘s words:

“Congress has always been insensitive to Dalits. They have done nothing for the welfare of the Dalits. Only eating in a Dalit house and sleeping there would not solve the problem. These are tactics to fool Dalits which Congress has been indulging in since long. Even Mahatma Gandhi did the same. He used to do all these dramas and did nothing substantial to improve the condition of the Dalits.”

Has Mayawati studied the works of Gandhi in depth and submitted a thesis to draw this uncalled for and controversial comment which has taken even Dalits by surprise?

If today she can call Gandhi a ‘fake’ , who will she use the same terminology on tomorrow?

Babasaheb Ambedkar?

Admittedly, this is a free country and Mayawati is free to use her right of expression. Maybe, the Mahatma himself wouldn’t have minded such searing scrutiny rather than blind worship.

But is this scrutiny or slander? Is this justified criticism or motivated mischief-mongering? Or is this just plain megalomania; an ant firing at one of the greatest souls to have walked this soil?

Photograph: courtesy Outlook

Also read: Almost like Obama but very unlike Obama too

Why God’s Own Party, the BJP, is in such a mess

21 May 2009

Loksatta editor Kumar Ketkar argues in The Indian Express that the BJP has become a hybrid organisation pulled in different directions by moderates, hardliners and lunatics.

Result: the party cannot recognise the real face from the several masks it has acquired for electoral persuasion:

“In Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the vast majority across classes and castes, has found the real plural India. Today, along with the markets, most Indian people have introspected and recognised the the folly of militant Mandir and Mandal politics. That is why we saw the decimation of Mulayam and Mayawati, the marginalisation of Pawar and Paswan, and the discomfiture of Advani and Modi. Plural India has triumphed.”

Read the full article: Mask upon mask in the BJP

Losers of the world unite. It’s all there to win.

10 May 2009

arun nehruFormer Union minister and Congressman turned BJP man, Arun Nehru, in Deccan Chronicle:

“The winners in the 2009 elections will be those who are able to maintain or improve upon their tally. In the winners’ category will be the BJP and the Congress, and apart from them the JDU, AIADMK, PMK, TDP, TRS, BSP and TMC.

“The losers will be the Left, SP, RJD, DMK. The Shiv Sena, NCP and BJD may hold on to their positions. But will the losers in 2009 determine government formation and can this lead to stability?

“Government formation will happen in stages and it is possible that the Congress may emerge as the single largest party, though the gap is getting narrower between the Congress and the BJP and there is another round of polling left.”

Read the full article: Seats of power

Arun Nehru: part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V, part VI, part VII, part VIII

That’s why they asked you to shut up and vote

5 May 2009

An analysis by the Association of Democratic Reforms of the affidavits filed by 258 sitting MPs seeking reelection in the 2009 general elections shows that more than half of them saw their assets grow between 100% and 9,100%.

KPN photoWith a 6,500%—that’s right, six-thousand five-hundred per cent—growth in his assets since 2004, the honourable BJP member of Parliament from Mysore, C.H. Vijayashankar (in picture), who counts 550 sheep valued at Rs 10,88,550 to underline his farming background, comes in a creditable second.

Presumably, that farming background also insulates Vijayashankar, BA, LLB, from possessing a PAN card.

Read the full article: Fastest way to become rich

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask Rahul Gandhi

Mayawati: For doyen of dalits, assets is all maya

Kanimozhi: How many poems can fetch a poet Rs 8.5 crore?

H.D. Deve Gowda: A snapshot of a poor, debt-ridden farming family

R.V. Deshpande: A 1,611% jump in assets in five years? Hello!

H. Anjaneya: How to grow your assets by 81,465%? Ask him.

R. Ashok: Everyone is stark naked in the public bathroom

Does people’s court stand above the law court?

25 March 2009

In divorcing itself from any moral compulsions in l’affaire Varun Gandhi, the BJP has taken the same stand that it took in l’affaire Narendra Modi. Namely, in a democracy, the people will decide if they were right or wrong. The Congress, and countless other parties which put up killers, kidnappers, rapists, with gay abandon, has taken the same line in the past. But merely because “the majority” endorses the bestial, does it make it right?


B.G. Varghese in Deccan Herald:

“The BSP’s list of Lok Sabha candidates from Uttar Pradesh includes five persons facing murder charges and two nominees allegedly involved in other crimes. Five wives have been given tickets…. Other parties have also dredged dirt to pick up candidates. At least two Hindu right extremists who have been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons, are seeking court permission to contest the elections.

“Whatever the law, it is morally wrong to release such undertrials on bail to contest elections and, if they perchance win, to claim thereafter that they have been exonerated by the ‘people’s court’ and now stand above the law in their new avatar.”

Read the full article: Will they ever learn?

Cartoon: courtesy Surendra/ The Hindu

The King of Good Times rescues a very Old Monk

6 March 2009


ASHWINI A. writes from Bangalore: Something that Indians rever was on the auctioner’s block in the Big Apple last night: the personal effects of the most selfless human to have walked this soil in the 20th century.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi‘s glasses, watch, sandals….

The Mahatma’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi launched a bid to retrieve the national jewels. Prime minister Manmohan Singh wanted the treasures back at all cost. Television anchors were frothing at the mouth. Backroom negotiations were on to prevent the auction.

Now it was off, now it was on.

Finally, on Friday morning, came the good news that the King of Good Times “Dr” Vijay Mallya had successfully bid for the items. “The nation can be proud and happy that the items are with us,” culture minister Ambika Soni said, chest all puffed up some pride, on television.

The Indian Government procured the five personal articles through the services of Mallya, she said, as it could not bid directly because of a stay order of the Delhi High Court.

But pause a moment to reflect on the irony.

And then imagine tomorrow morning’s newspaper headlines if there were some truly ballsy tabloids in the country:

Mallya rescues Mahatma

King of Good Times bails out Old Monk

Liquor Magnate buys Gandhi Goodies

Beer Baron picks up Gandhi’s Glasses

And then ask yourself this question:

In this country of a billion people, could the government of India only find a man, whose millions are built on liquor, to ensure that the artefacts of a man who abhorred it, stayed with India?

And then this question:

In rising, shining, growing India where corporate and industrialists and businessmen trip over each other to demonstrate their so-called “corporate social responsibility”, could only Vijay Mallya find the requisite crores in an economic downturn to prop up the Father of the Nation?

And then this one:

In the land of opportunities, in the US of A, in the land of a million Patels and Shahs hailing from “Vibrant Gujarat”—most of them motel owners, doctors, real estate brokers, investment bankers—could not a single Gujarati or a bunch of them find the wherewithal to help one of their own?

Why couldn’t the Birlas, with whom Gandhi shared a close relationship, in whose precincts the Mahatma received the assassin’s bullets, with a “Hey Ram!”? Why didn’t the Tatas or Mittals who are buying up companies all over the world as if they are going out of fashion?

Why didn’t the Ambanis of Chorwad—Modh banias like the Mahatma—who are building 24-storeyed skyscrapers or buying planes, for their wives on their birthdays?

Or how about churumuri‘s favourite IT czar: N.R. Narayana Murthy?

Infosys probably earns Rs 9 crore a day. Would it have been so difficult for the image-conscious company to buy up the items and erase the bad press Murthy got becuase of his perceived insult to the national anthem?

And so on.

Pardon me for going on like a stuck record. Sure, these are tough times, but the short point is: Is Rs 9 crore that big a sum for our Superbrands™? And do our corporates and their captains have any vision beyond the bottomline at all?

In an age when image is all, the Gandhi auction was a god-sent opportunity for individuals and institutions to score big time on goodwill and publicity.

In an electio season, what if the overseas outfits of the Congress or BJP had bought it? What if Mayawati had bought it, or Amar Singh who “donated” Rs 40 crore to the Bill Clinton Foundation? What if L.K. Adavni had, instead of spending silly zillions on Google ads?

What if Rahul, Priyanka or Sonia who have benefitted from the greatman’s surname?

While these people and others may rue the missed opporuntity, Vijay Mallya has earned his place in the history books after successfully bringing back the Tipu sword, proving once again that while he may not be everybody’s favourite CEO, he is certainly the smartest, the quickest of the blocks.

At least he puts his money where his mouth is.

As for the others, all they are destined to say tonight is “Cheers”, while Mallya laughs all the way to the bank.

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask Vijay Mallya

A crash course in catching, fielding for our heroes

14 February 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The IPL boss and future BCCI chief, Lalit Modi, was a worried man. Irfan Pathan had muffed a sitter of Tilakaratne Dilshan in the T20 match against Sri Lanka.

If this is how we field, how will India defend its World Championship title in England in June ‘09, he wondered.

That the Pathan brothers won the match for India with a late onslaught was no consolation for Modi. Something had to be done quickly to improve fielding, especially catching.

Luckily, the solution came live on the TV while he was watching the news. Modi with his customary zeal started moving things and put an action plan.

He phoned Behen Mayawati and put forth his proposal. She quickly agreed but wanted a discussion along with Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Congress.

If it is a matter of money even political diehards come to an agreement quickly. The three parties quoted their combined price. Since money was the least of problems for Modi, the deal was signed quickly between BCCI and the UP government.

As Governor T.V. Rajeshwar addressed the joint session again, the marshals, er, members of the Indian team surrounding the Governor were ready for fielding/catching practice.

The boys in blue team were dressed in red bandhgala with black pants, the uniform for marshals in UP along with their helmets.

Irfan Pathan this time caught a chappal easily as did Yusuf Pathan who caught a glass paperweight aimed at the governor’s head. Mahendra Singh Dhoni with his gloves dived and caught a chair mid-air.

Apart from valuable fielding practice, the Indian team got to know how democracy functions in our Assemblies at close quarters.

Normally the 12th man brings the drinks during the drinks interval, but since mineral water bottles flew thick and fast from all directions during play, er, Governor’s address, the 12th man was allowed to be in the field of play.

Fielding coach Robin Singh himself had a narrow escape when the microphone aimed at Mayawati by a disgruntled Bahujan Samaj Party member came flying towards him. Coach Gary Kirsten, still agile at his age, dived and saved Singh’s head.

Sunny Gavaskar and selection committee chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth, present along with Modi in the visitors’ gallery, were happy with the facilities provided at UP Assembly and the progress of the team by the end of Governor’s address.

Meanwhile looking at the win-win deal, other States pursued Modi to enter in to MoUs with the BCCI.

Bihar, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu Assemblies were short- listed as their MLAs had proven expertise at throwing mikes, shoes, chairs as well as knives and cycle chains.

In Bihar, where it generally rains stones during the Governor’s address non-stop, it was decided to allow even outfielders like Sehwag and Sachin to wear helmets. The players were also informed of the existence of secret doors to the Governor’s chambers should they find it difficult to cope with the avalanche.

In Punjab, the chief Minister and his Deputy digned the deal for themselves than for the Government.

In Andhra Pradesh, since stones as well as all kind of rubbish are routinely thrown at the Governor as well as at each other by both supporters of Chandrababu Naidu and Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy, there would be a surprise element as fielders will never know from which side a missile would land on his head. This would help the team to be on their toes all the time, felt coach Kirsten.

Lalit Modi was a happy man. At the end of the camps in Madras, Patna, Hyderabad and Goa the fielding would be top class. They won’t drop skiers any more. Of course BCCI would have to shell out few hundreds of crores at each of these camps, but it would be money well spent, thought Modi. That would also keep all the politicians a happy lot.

For some strange reason he didn’t arrange a camp in the Maharashtra Assembly which has ace shooters like Narayan Rane, Chhagan Bhujabal and the Shiv Sena.

May be he didn’t want to step on his boss Sharad Pawar’s shoes.

Independents Day has well and truly begun

20 July 2008

“Truly alarming is single-digit inflation”

E.P. Unny in The Indian Express


Chief ministerial posts, deputy chief ministerial posts, cabinet berths, ministerial portfolios, renaming of airports, Rs 25 crore to Rs 100 crore… it’s raining freebies in Delhi, all in “the national interest”, and it’s available for inspection at any moment of the day or night on your television set.

Next time some trained parrot stands up and accuses the media of sowing cynicism among the public about politics and politicians, you know who to blame, don’t you.

Will bark turn to bite on evening of reckoning?

25 June 2008

NDTV: BJP 95-115. CNN-IBN: Cong 86, BJP 79

22 May 2008

An exit poll-cum-post poll survey for CNN-IBN and Deccan Herald conducted by the Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) says the BJP is doing much better in the Karnataka elections than its pre-poll survey had indicated, but the three main parties obtain the same share of the votes they did in 2004. Namely, 35 per cent for the Congress, 30 per cent for the BJP, and 21 per cent for the JDS.

Translation: none of the three parties are going to be able to form a government on their own.

Rajeeva L. Karandikar of Cranes Software, analysing the fieldwork, says the Congress will end up with 86, BJP 79, JDS 45, others 14. The sample size was 4,348 respondents in 92 locations. (An amateur, grassroots survey by said Congress would end up with 92 seats, BJP 84, JDS 41, independents and others 7.)

Rajdeep Sardesai and Yogendra Yadav say it’s going to be a “classic hung assembly” especially after the BJP failed to maintain the momentum of the first two phases in the third.

In its pre-poll survey, the same three agencies had predicted 114 seats for the Congress (up 49), 60 for the BJP (down 19), and 37 for the JDS (down 21). That survey had said the Congress looked like securing 39 per cent of the popular vote, BJP 28 per cent and JD (S) 20 per cent votes. The pre-poll survey was done in 75 constituencies with a sample size of a little over 5,000.


After an exit poll of the third phase, NDTV concludes the BJP will end up with 95-115 seats, the Congress with 55-75, and the JDS 45-55. Of the 69 seats which went to the polls today, NDTV predicts says BJP will get 30-40 seats, Congrtess 20-30 and JDS 10-12. In 2004, BJP had 33 seats, the Congress 17 and JDS 10 seats. The sample size was 9,880 and the fieldwork was done by IMRB.


An exit poll cum post poll survey for Suvarna News by C-Fore says BJP will get 104-114 seats, Congress 69-74, JDS 35-40 and others 6-10. BJP is expected to get a voteshare of 35%, Congress 34%, JDS 19%, and others 12%. In its pre-poll survey, the two agencies had said Congress would end up slightly ahead at 90 seats.

Infographic: courtesy CNN-IBN

Why exit polls find it difficult to crack Karnataka

22 May 2008

Professor Narendar Pani of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, in Mail Today:

“Pollsters can do well in states, like Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, where parties depend largely on committed voters. Pollsters can then distribute their sample to cover constituencies that represent the different sides in an election. Any shift captured in these constituencies can give us a pretty good idea of the overall picture.

“Karnataka, on the other hand, is extremely volatile. Voting percentages of a party in a constituency are known to shift by as much as 15 to 20 percent. There was a time when this volatility was influenced by national leaders…. Once the Congress lost its invincibility in 1983, Karnataka’s voters tended to place a great deal of importance on how they felt about a local politician at a point of time.

“These close ties between voters and individual leaders have in recent years meant voters tend to often put their local leader above the party. When leaders shift dramatically from one party to another, they are able to take a far greater number of their voters with them than they would in a state dominated by cadre based parties. These shifts were difficult enough to monitor when there were two main parties, but have become even more complicated now that Karnataka has three parties vying for power and a fourth, the BSP, attracting its share of politicians…..

“And there is no distinct pattern in the direction in which the politicians are moving. Faced with this volatility attempting to choose a constituency as representing a particular party, on the basis of its previous voting pattern, is clearly futile.”

Photograph: Armed with their identity cards and voting slips, a band of women use empty fertiliser bags to make sure their Ilkal sarees don’t get soiled on their way to a polling booth in Dharwad on Thursday. (Karnataka Photo News)


21 May 2008

S.S. KARNADSHA and R. KANNAN write: Voters in 69 constituencies in eight districts of Karnataka will troop to the polling booths tomorrow in the third and final phase of voting in the elections to the state legislative assembly. And is pleased to present its third, amateur, grassroots look at how it will turn out for the parties.

Our score for the third round: BJP 32, Congress 25, JDS 11, independent 1.

Read in conjunction with our first two surveys, we are predicting, in all, 92 seats for the Congress, 84 for the BJP, and 41 for the JDS in Mandate 2008. Independents and others: 7. In a house of 224, with the halfway mark standing at 113, the State, according to us, is heading for a hung assembly.

Like in the first two surveys, here and here, one of us travelled to at least one constituency in each district (full methodology below). Unlike other opinion polls and pre-poll surveys, which only give a random seat count and do not even describe the methodology, we pinpoint the likely winners in each of the 69 constituencies.

Among our key findings in this round are:

# Team JarkiholiBalachandra, Satish, Ramesh—will triumph in three Belgaum constituencies.

# Actress Umashri will find it tough going in Terdal, but B.C. Patil is tipped to sneak through in Hirekerur.

# Former State BJP president Jagadish Shettar will win from Hubli-Dharwad central.

We will go wrong with some of the predictions, of course, but we will be delighted to be proved wrong and to be questioned and pilloried for it after the results are announced on May 25.

Our “hung assembly” findings are clearly in contrast to an NDTV-IMRB exit poll after the second round which says BJP could come to power, and a Suvarna News-Cfore survey, aired last night, which too hints at BJP gaining the upperhand.


BELGAUM: BJP 8, Congress 7, JDS 3

Nippani: Congress, Kakaso Pandurang Patil
Chikkodi-Sadalga: Congress, Hukkeri Prakash
Athani: BJP, Laxman Sangappa Savadi
Kagwad: BJP, Bharamgouda Alagouda Kage
Kudachi (SC): BJP, Mahendra K. Tammannavar
Raibag (SC): Congress, Omprakash S. Kanagali
Hukkeri: JDS, Umesh Vishwanath Katti
Arabhavi: JDS, Balachandra Laxmanrao Jarakiholi
Gokak: Congress, Jarkiholi Ramesh Laxmanrao
Yemkanmardi (ST): Congress, Jarkiholi Satish Laxmanrao
Belgaum North: JDS, Kudachi Ramesh Laxman
Belgaum South: BJP, Abhay Patil
Belgaum Rural: Congress, Malagi Shivputrappa Chanabasappa
Khanapur: Congress, Rafique Khatalsab Khanapuri
Kittur: BJP, Marihal Suresh Shivarudrappa
Bailhongal: BJP, Metgud Virupaxi (Jagadish) Channappa
Saundatti Yellamma: BJP, Mamani Vishwanath Chandrashekar
Ramdurg: BJP, Mahdevappa Shivalingappa Yadawad



Mudhol (SC): BJP, Govinda Karjol
Terdal: BJP, Siddu Savadi
Jamakhandi: BJP, Srikant Kulkarni
Bilgi: BJP, Murugesha Nirani
Badami: BJP, M.K. Pattanshetty
Bagalkot: JDS, P.H. Poojar
Hungund: BJP, Doddanagouda Patil


BIJAPUR: BJP 4, JDS 2, Congress 1, Independent 1

Muddebihal: JDS, Vimalabhai Deshmukh
Devar Hippargi: BJP, Basanagouda Yatnal
Basavana Bagewadi: BJP, S.K. Bellubi
Babaleshwar: Congress, M.B. Patil
Bijapur City: BJP, Appu Pattanashetty
Nagthan (SC): BJP, Vittala Katakadonda
Indi: Independent, Ravikanth Patil
Sindagi: JDS, M.C. Managoli


GULBARGA: Congress 8, JDS 3, BJP 2

Afzalpur: JDS, Tukaramagouda Patil
Jevargi: Congress, Dharam Singh
Surapur (ST): Congress, Raja Venkatappa Naik
Shahapur: JDS, Shivashekarappa Shiravala
Yadgir: Congress, A.B. Malaka Reddy
Gurmitkal: Congress, Baburao Chinchanasur
Chittapur (SC): Congress, Mallikarjuna Kharge
Sedam: Congress, Sharanaprakash Patil
Chincholi (SC): Congress, Baburao Chavan
Gulbarga Rural (SC): BJP, Revunayak Belamagi
Gulbarga South: BJP, Chandrashekara Patil
Gulbarga North: Congress, Qamarul Islam
Aland: JDS, Subhash Guttedar


BIDAR: BJP 3, Congress 2, JDS 1

Basavakalyan: BJP, Basavaraj Patil Attur
Humnabad: Congress, Rajashekar Patil
Bidar South: JDS, Bandeppa Kashempur
Bidar: Congress, Gurupadappa Nagamarapalli
Bhalki: BJP, Prakash Khandre
Aurad (SC): BJP, Prabhu Chavan


GADAG: Congress 2, BJP 1, JDS 1

Shirahatti (SC): JDS, Alkod Hanumantappa Yallappa
Gadag: Congress, H.K. Patil
Ron: Congress, Gurupadagouda Sanganagouda Patil
Nargund: BJP, C.C. Patil


DHARWAD: Congress 4, BJP 3, JDS 0

Navalgund: BJP, Shankar Patil Munenkoppa
Kundgol: Congress, Channabasappa Sathyappa Shivalli
Dharwad: Congress, Vinay Kulkarni
Hubli-Dharwad East (SC): BJP, Veerabhadrappa Halaharavi
Hubli-Dharwad Central: BJP, Jagadish Shettar
Hubli-Dharwad West: Congress, Honnalli Jabbar Khan Hayatakhan
Kalghatgi: Congress, Santosh S. Lad


HAVERI: BJP 5, Congress 1,

Hangal: BJP, Udasi Channabasappa Mahalingappa
Shiggaon: BJP, Basavaraj Bommai
Haveri (SC): BJP, Neharu Olekar
Byadgi: BJP, Patil Sureshgoudra Basalingagoudra
Hirekerur: Congress, B.C. Patil
Ranebenneur: BJP, G. Shivanna


METHODOLOGY: How did we crunch these numbers?

1. We went to at least one constituency in each of the districts going to the polls.

2. We studied the voting pattern of each constituency since 1978 using Election Commission data.

3. In the case of constituencies that have been newly created or spiked due to delimitation of seats, we have examined the chunks that have moved or have been clubbed together.

4. We have looked at each contesting candidate and have drawn a winnability graph keeping local factors in mind. Aspects like personal charisma, nurturing constituency with development projects, and also party-hopping have been factored in.

5. We have cross-checked our lists with strategists of all major political parties. We have discounted their claims when they have been bombastic and accommodated them when they have been realistic.

6. We have studied the percentage of votes polled by each party and the victory margins of all seats in the 2004 election. We have given the benefit of doubt to the runner up in 2004 elections if he has lost by a thin margin and is contesting again. In some cases it is the runner up political party that gets this advantage although they have changed the candidate.

7. Due to the strict EC poll code we have given very little chance to new faces and parties entering a constituency for the first time. We believe that the process of new faces or new parties getting registered in the minds of voters has not happened.

8. We have checked the BSP factor by looking at their presence and performance in all constituencies in the 2004 elections.

9. Although there is a close contest in some constituencies we stick our head out and give only name per constituency.

A CPM candidate’s assets jump by 7,393 per cent

18 May 2008

Of the 415 candidates in the 69 constituencies going to the polls on May 22 in the third and final phase of elections to the Karnataka legislative assembly, there are 36 candidates with a criminal record, 23 women, and total declared assets of Rs 650 crore, according to a report prepared by the Karnataka Election Watch committee of the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The BJP has 12 candidates with a criminal record, JDS 7, Congress 6, and other parties 11. There are 5 candidates who are charged with murder or attempt to murder. Several of them are charged with other violent crimes like assault with deadly weapons and so on.

Of the 23 women candidates, the JDS has 6, JDU 6, BSP 3, Congress 3, and BJP 2, and others 3. The total percentage of women in phase 3 is about 5.5% and is extremely low. None of the women candidates have any criminal cases against them. The average assets of women candidates is Rs 90 lakh.

In the first phase there were 17 women candidates and in the second phase 14 women candidates from the major parties. Which means, in all, the major parties which talk of 33 per cent reservation for women, could only put up 54 women candidates. In contrast, they put up 132 candidates with a criminal past.

Congress candidates have declared assets of Rs 347 crore and average candidate assets of Rs 5.03 crore. BJP candidates have total assets of Rs 155 crores at an average of Rs 2.26 crore, JDS candidates have Rs 84 crore and an average of Rs.1.22 crore, and BSP candidates Rs 35 crore at Rs 0.52 crore.

The three major parties account for 89.2% of total candidate assets with average candidate assets of Rs.2.83 crores. Clearly, elections have become a rich man’s game. It is very difficult for Independent candidates to win and the major parties give tickets to candidates with very high level of assets.

There are 24 candidates who have “High Assets” over Rs 5 crore. The Congress has 13 candidates, BJP has 8, JDS 2, and BSP 1. There are 41 candidates who have declared very low assets of Rs 1 lakh or less. The total liabilities of all candidates were Rs 75.19 crore. The Congress candidates had liabilities of Rs.37.22 crore, BJP candidates Rs 15.79 crore, JDS candidates Rs 13.97 crore, and others Rs 8.21 crore.

As many as 69 candidates reported a very steep increase in total assets between the 2004 assembly elections and this election. The average increase in assets was a huge 339.5%.

# Prakash Ramachandra Shirolkar, the SHS candidate from Belgaum south, has seen his assets jump by 10,065 per cent in the last four years.

# Maruti Manapade (in picture, standing), the CPM candidate from Gulbarga rural, has seen his assets jump by 7,393 per cent, from Rs 0 in 2004 to Rs 20 lakh in 2008.

# Ajaykumar Sarnayak, the Congress candidate from Bilgi, has declared an increase in assets between of 2,181 per cent.

# Rajkumar Patil Telkur, the BJP candidate from Sedam, has seen his assets jump by 1,990 per cent.

KEW conclusion: The overall quality of candidates leaves much to be desired. The criminal records in particular are a little alarming. Unless this trend is checked, elections, democracy and overall governance will suffer. A lot of candidates are industrialists from the real estate, liquor, mining and other businesses. Unless business interests are aligned to citizen interests there is a clear conflict of interest. Would such representatives work for citizens’ interests or for their business interests? The average assets of candidates from the major parties were Rs 2.84 crores. A lot of candidates have reported huge increase in their assets from the previous elections. This means that elections are mostly open to the rich and that the stakes are very high and rising from election to election. The steep rise in assets also needs to be investigated so that public trust is restored.

(Karnataka Election Watch is part of a nationwide movement to improve democracy. It is a citizen led non-political, non-partisan effort. This time several NGOs activists and civil society organizations in Karnataka are participating in this effort.)

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: How to grow your assets by 81,465 per cent ? Ask him.

Everybody is stark naked in the public bathroom

How to grow your assets by 81,465%? Ask him.

16 May 2008

In the 66 constituencies going to the polls today in the second phase of elections to the Karnataka legislative assembly, there are just 14 women candidates; 49 candidates with a criminal record; and 372 candidates whose assets in all exceed Rs 902 crore, according to a report prepared by the Karnataka Election Watch committee of the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Among the major parties, the BJP has 13 candidates with a criminal record, the Congress 9, JDS 8, BSP 7, and other parties 12. There are 6 candidates who are charged with murder or attempt to murder.

There are 14 women candidates. The BSP has 4, BJP 2, Congress 2, JDS 2, JDU 2 and others 2. In the first phase there were a total of 17 women candidates from the major parties for the 89 constituencies. The total percentage of women is less than 5% as in the first phase.

The total assets declared by all the 372 candidates considered by KEW for phase 2 was an impressive Rs 902 crore, with average candidate assets of Rs 2.42 crore. The Congress led the parties with total declared candidate assets of Rs 470 crore and average candidate assets of Rs 7.35 crore. The BJP candidates had total assets of Rs 249.8 crores and average of Rs.3.78 crore; JDS Rs 77.9 crore and Rs.1.28 crore; BSP Rs 40.6 crore and Rs.0.64 crore.

The three major parties account for 88.5% of total candidate assets with average candidate assets of Rs.4.18 crores. Clearly, elections have become a rich man’s game. There are 5 candidates who have declared “Very High” assets of over Rs 30 crore. Of these, 3 are from the Congress, 2 are from the BJP. Compared to phase 1 which included Bangalore, the number has come down from 14 to 5.

# Anil Lad of the Congress is the richest among the candidates in the fray with declared assets of Rs 172 crore, jumping 2,343 per cent since 2004.

# R.V. Deshpande of the Congress, whose assets since 2004 have jumped 2,091 per cent, has declared assets of Rs 116.29 crore.

# The assets of G.S. Manjunath, the BJP candidate from Chitradurga, have shot up by an eye-popping 2,125 per cent since the 2004 elections.

# The BJP candidate from Holalkere, M. Chandrappa, has seen his assets grow by 2,107 per cent. The assets of his Congress rival H. Anjaneya (in picture) have grown by—hold your breath—81,465 per cent, according to KEW.

Then there are 17 candidates who have “High Assets” between Rs 5 crore and Rs 30 crore. In spite of having such high assets, some of them have not declared their IT PAN numbers as required by the Election Commission.

As many as 74 candidates reported a very steep increase in total assets between the 2004 Assembly Elections and this election. The average increase in assets was a huge 465.6%.

There are 49 candidates with a criminal record. Among the major parties, the BJP has 13 candidates having a criminal record, BSP has 7, the Congress 9, JDS 8, and other parties 12. There are 6 candidates who are charged with murder or attempt to murder.

Of the 372 candidates considered in phase 2, 31 had post-graduate degrees, 26 had technical degrees (like BE, etc), 6 MBBS, 47 LLB, 97 graduates, 48 PUC, 49 matriculates, 35 non-matriculates. The rest did not mention their educational qualifications. The number of candidates who were 60 years old or more was 41, between 45 and 60 was 171, and less than 45 was 160.

KEW’s conclusion: The overall quality of candidates leaves much to be desired. The criminal records in particular are a little alarming. Unless this trend is checked, elections, democracy and overall governance will suffer. A lot of candidates are industrialists from the real estate, liquor, mining and other businesses. Unless business interests are aligned to citizen interests this raises interesting questions about governance and democracy. The average assets of candidates from the major parties was Rs.4.18 crores which means that the parties have turned their back on candidates with low assets. A lot of candidates have reported huge increase in their assets. This also needs to be investigated so that public trust is restored.

(Karnataka Election Watch (KEW) is part of a nationwide movement to improve democracy. It is a citizen-led non-political, non-partisan effort. This time several NGOs activists and civil society organizations in Karnataka are participating in this effort.)

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

C-FORE EXIT POLL: BJP up, Congress still ahead

10 May 2008

An exit poll conducted for Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha by C-Fore of the first phase of polling in the Karnataka elections shows a marked improvement in the BJP’s peformance in Bangalore.

The Congress and BJP are both expected to get 13-14 seats each of the 28 seats up for grabs in the capital. A pre-poll survey had predicted 17-18 seats for the Congress in Bangalore, 9-10 for the BJP, 0-1 for the JDS.

Overall, Congress is expected to get 39-42 seats of the 89 that went to the booths today, the BJP 24-27, the JDS 20-23, BSP 1, and others 3. The pre-poll survey had predicted 42-45 seats for the Congress, 22-24 for the BJP, and 19-21 for the JDS, 0-1 for the BSP.

The Congress is expected to get a voteshare of 38 per cent, BJP 24 per cent, JDS 25 per cent in the first phase, according to the exit poll.

# In the 61 constituencies outside Bangalore, the exit poll predicts 26-28 seats for the Congress, 20-22 for the BJP, 11-13 for the JDS, 0-1 for the BSP, 0-2 others. The Congress voteshare in these 61 constituencies stands at 36 per cent, BJP 20 per cent, JDS 28 per cent, BSP 4 per cent and others 12 per cent. Outside Bangalore, the exit poll is predicting a +4 per cent swing for the Congress, +2 per cent for the BJP, -5 per cent for the JDS and +1 for BSP.

# In Bangalore city which has 28 constituencies, the exit poll predicts a 42 per cent voteshare for the Congress, 42 per cent for the BJP, 11 per cent for the JDS, 5 per cent for the others. BSP gets zilch in Bangalore. The pre-poll survey had predicted a 36 per cent voteshare for BJP, marking a six per cent jump for the party. In Bangalore, the poll predicts a +11 per cent swing for the BJP in Bangalore, and a -2 per cent swing for the Congress in Bangalore.


9 May 2008

Voters in 89 constituencies in 11 districts of Karnataka go to vote tomorrow. It reveals the deep polarisation within the media as within the polity that the pre-poll surveys do not see eye to eye even marginally. While one poll says it’s 42-45 for the Congress in the first phase, another says it’s 40 for the BJP.

Opinion polls can differ, of course, because of the methodology used, the experience of the pollster, the proximity of the poll dates, etc, but can they be arriving at such diametrically opposite conclusions when professionals are polling similar sets of voters on a similar set of issues?

Clearly, our pollsters are beginning to look like ladies tailors, stitching anything to the “design” specifications and ideological inclinations of the newspaper or television channel picking up the tab.

A bit of padding here, a small tuck there. Even one size extra for “future growth”.

Where this leaves the credibility of the media and psephology in the eyes of the people, knows god.

The key problem with polls is that they only provide a macro view, a broad trend as visible from the top, as if we are sheep who all think, act and vote the same way. None of the polls have attempted a constituency-wise calibration of what is likely to happen. And, the polls seem to think that the three major parties are the only ones in the race, as if the smaller parties and independents don’t count. is pleased to offer an amateur, grassroots look.

S.S. KARNADSHA and R. KANNAN toured all the eleven districts going to the polls tomorrow. They say the Congress will end up with 41, BJP 21, JDS 21, CPM 1, BSP 1, Janata Dal United 1, Sarvodaya Paksha 1, Vatal Paksha 1, Republican Party of India 1.

Among our key findings:

# It’s going to be neck-and-neck between the Congress (14) and BJP (11) for Bangalore’s 28 seats.

# It’s not going to be a washout for the JDS in the southern districts as most opinion polls seem to think.

# “Rebel Star” Ambarish might not just lose in Srirangapatna, he might end up third behind the Sarvodaya Paksha, JDS. Shobha Karandlaje could win Yeshwanthpur.

These findings may still go wrong, but at least the same allegations of urban, ivory tower, Bangalore-Mysore bias can’t be flung at us. Not only do we suggest where the parties might stand in each district, we also predict who is going to win constituency by constituency, district by district. So you can always check back to see if we were right or not, and call us names.


TUMKUR: JDS 5, Congress 4, BJP 2

Chikkanayakanahalli: JDS, C.B. Suresh Babu
Tiptur: JDS, B. Nanjamari
Turvekere: JDS, M.T. Krishnappa
Kunigal: JDS, D. Nagarajaiah
Tumkur city: BJP, S. Shivanna
Tumkur rural: BJP, B. Suresh Gowda
Koratagere, SC reserved: Congress, G. Parameshwar
Gubbi: JDS, S.R. Srinivas
Sira: Congress, T.B. Jayachandra
Pavagada, SC reserved: Congress Gayatri Devi
Madhugiri: Congress, K.N. Rajanna



Gauribidanur: Congress, N.H. Shivashankara Reddy
Bagepalli: CPM, G.V. Srirama Reddy
Chikkaballapur: Congress, Ashwathnarayana Reddy
Sidlaghatta: Congress, V. Muniyappa
Chintamani: Congress, Dr M.C. Sudhakar


KOLAR: Congress 2, BJP 1, JDS 1, RPI 1

Srinivasapura: JDS, G.K. Venkatashiva Reddy
Mulbagal, SC reserved: JDS, Muni Anjanappa
Kolar Gold Fields, SC reserved: RPI, S. Rajendran
Bangarpet, SC reserved: BJP, B.P. Venkata Muniyappa
Kolar: Congress, K. Srinivasa Gowda
Malur: BJP, S.N. Krishnaiah Shetty


BANGALORE: Congress 14, BJP 11, JDS 3

Yelahanka: BJP, S.R. Vishwanath
K.R. Pura: Congress, A. Krishnappa
Byatarayanpura: Congress, Krishna Byre Gowda
Yeshwanthpur: BJP, Shobha Karandlaje
Rajarajeswarinagar: BJP, M. Srinivas
Dasarahalli: Congress, K.C. Ashok
Mahalakshmi Layout: JDS, Gopalaiah
Malleswaram: Congress, M.R. Seetharam
Hebbal: BJP, Katta Subramanya Naidu
Pulakeshinagar, SC reserved: Congress, B. Prasanna Kumar
Sarvagnanagar: Congress, K.J. George
C.V. Raman Nagar, SC reserved: BJP, S. Raghu
Shivajinagar: Congress, Roshan Baig
Shantinagar: BJP, D.U. Mallikarjun
Gandhinagar: Congress, Dinesh Gundu Rao
Rajajinagar: BJP, S. Suresh Kumar
Govindarajanagar: Congress, V. Somanna
Vijayanagar: Congress, M. Krishnappa
Chamarajpet: JDS, Zameer Ahmed
Chickpet: BJP, Hemachandra Sagar
Basavangudi: Congress, K. Chandrashekar
Padmanabhanagar: JDS, M.V. Prasad Babu
BTM Layout: Congress, Ramalinga Reddy
Jayanagar: BJP, B.N. Vijaya Kumar
Mahadevpura, SC reserved: BJP, Aravind Limbavalli
Bommanahalli: Congress, Kupendra Reddy
Bangalore South: BJP, M. Krishnappa
Anekal, SC reserved: Congress, B. Gopal



Hosakote: BJP, B.N. Bacche Gowda
Devanahalli, SC reserved: JDS, G. Chandranna
Doddaballpur: JDS, C. Chennigappa
Nelamangala, SC reserved: Congress, Anjana Murthy


RAMANAGARA/M: JDS 3, Congress 1

Magadi: JDS, H.C. Balakrishna
Ramanagaram: JDS, H.D. Kumaraswamy
Kanakapura: Congress, D.K. Shiva Kumar
Chennapatna: JDS, M.C. Ashwath


MANDYA: JDS 3, Congress, 1, BJP 1, JDU 1, Sarvodaya Paksha 1

Malavalli, SC reserved: JDU, B. Somashekar
Maddur: BJP, Madhu Made Gowda
Melukote: JDS, C.S. Putta Raju
Mandya: JDS, M. Srinivas
Srirangapatna: Sarvodaya, Nanjunde Gowda
Nagamangala: JDS, N. Cheluvarayaswamy
Krishnarajpet: Congress, K.B. Chandrashekar


HASSAN: Congress 3, JDS 3, BJP 1

Shravanabelagola: Congress, H.C. Srikantaiah
Arsikere: BJP, B N. Ravi
Belur: Congress, Y.N. Rudresh Gowda
Hassan: JDS, H.S. Prakash
Holenarsipur: JDS, H.D. Revanna
Arkalgud: Congress, A. Manju
Sakleshpur, SC reserved: JDS, H.K. Kumaraswamy


COORG: Congress 2

Mercara: Congress, B.A. Jivijaya
Virajpet: Congress, Veena Achaiah


MYSORE: Congress 8, BJP 3

Periyapatna: Congress, K. Venkatesh
K.R. Nagar: Congress, H. Vishwanath
Hunsur: BJP, G.T. Deve Gowda
H.D. Kote, ST reserved: Congress, Chikkanna
Nanjangud, SC reserved: Congress, V. Srinivasa Prasad
Chamundeshwari: Congress, M. Satyanarayana
Krishnaraja: BJP, S.A. Ramadas
Chamaraja: BJP, H.S. Shankarlinge Gowda
Narasimharaja: Congress, Tanveer Sait
Varuna: Congress, Siddaramaiah
T Narsipur, SC reserved: Congress, H.C. Mahadevappa


CHAMARAJANAGAR: Congress 2, BSP 1, Vatal Paksha 1

Hanur: Congress, R. Narendra
Kollegal, SC reserved: BSP, N. Mahesh
Chamarajanagar: Vatal Paksha, Vatal Nagaraj
Gundlupet: Congress, H.S. Mahadeva Prasad


METHODOLOGY: How did we crunch these numbers?

1. We went to at least one constituency in each of the 11 districts.

2. We studied the voting pattern of each constituency since 1978 using Election Commission data.

3. In the case of constituencies that have been newly created or spiked due to delimitation of seats, we have examined the chunks that have moved or have been clubbed together.

4. We have looked at each contesting candidate and have drawn a winnability graph keeping local factors in mind. Aspects like personal charisma, nurturing constituency with development projects, and also party-hopping have been factored in.

5. We have cross-checked our lists with strategists of all major political parties. We have discounted their claims when they have been bombastic and accommodated them when they have been realistic.

6. We have studied the percentage of votes polled by each party and the victory margins of all seats in the 2004 election. We have given the benefit of doubt to the runner up in 2004 elections if he has lost by a thin margin and is contesting again. In some cases it is the runner up political party that gets this advantage although they have changed the candidate.

7. Due to the strict EC poll code we have given very little chance to new faces and parties entering a constituency for the first time. We believe that the process of new faces or new parties getting registered in the minds of voters has not happened.

8. We have checked the BSP factor by looking at their presence and performance in all constituencies in the 2004 elections.

9. Although there is a close contest in some constituencies we stick our head out and give only name per constituency.

POLLCAST: Who are the IT guys backing in poll?

7 May 2008


“Who are the IT guys backing?”

That is the kind of question anybody who equates Bangalore with IT and IT alone asks.

Nobody asks who the garment guys are backing although they are far more in number than the IT guys.

On one level, the question “Who are the IT guys are backing?” is based on a presupposition. And a vague assumption that the more literate IT guy is somehow more politically aware and therefore more demanding of his politics than the guy who works in, say, BEL or BEML.

Is there any evidence of that?

On another level, it is revealing of the exaggerated role IT has come to occupy in our public discourse. America is going to the polls in six months, but has anybody seen a story on whether Microsoft is backing Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

Tapping into the IT consciousness of Bangalore has, in other words, become a lazy media’s first response of sneaking their preferred names and brands into the copy under the mistaken assumption that what is good for IT is good for the city.

And by extension for the state.

That can’t be completely true, can it?

Therefore the answer to the question “Who are the IT guys backing?” is not simple.

The IT community is obviously not a homogeneous whole. It is not as if all the companies and all their personnel, Indian or foreign, big or small, all have the same thoughts, same wants, and the same political leanings.

IT in Bangalore is not just Infosys and Wipro, IBM and Intel. There are at least other 2,000 other IT companies besides them.

The other reason why an answer is difficult is that many of those who work in the IT industry, in fact most of those who work in the ITES and BPO sector, are not all registered voters in Karnataka, having come from various states.

So when somebody asks you who the IT guys are backing, you wonder if the IT set like Lingayats and Vokkaligas and Kurubas is now being seen by the outside world like another caste, with its own demands, with its own leaders, with its own preferred party.

Imagine, an IT mutt somewhere in Electronic City, and a bearded IT swamiji with bluetooth and BlackBerry instructing his devotees with a raised eyebrow or a wink to vote for this or that party or politician.

But these facts do not stop the media from trying to feel the pulse of the IT industry.

All through this election campaign, there have been odd newspaper reports of how the RSS has opened its own IT shakha and so on. But this is more propaganda than reality.

What is the likelihood, for example, that some team leader would be going around instructing his team to vote for a certain party?

Is this kind of activity allowed after the hoo-ha that broke out after the Sasken guy wrote that allegedly offensive poem on Kannada? And if the IT guys are really smart, would they be listening to some pumped-up bozo telling them which button to click on the electronic voting machine.

In asking who the IT guys are back, we make the fundamental mistake of thinking that IT workers are professionals first before they are citizens.

The truth though is that despite their fat paycheques, they have pretty similar needs as most of the rest of us. Wider roads, greener parks, easy to walk footpaths etc.

Maybe some of them would throw in wi-fi, hassle-free airports, and gated communities.

Still, they use the same water supply, drainage facilities, and garbage removal as normal human beings. So IT guys who are eligible to vote will therefore make his or her choice the same old-fashioned way.

Maybe he will just send an extra email or type Google in his browser before he does so because he has the bandwidth.

Somehow though one suspects that when people ask who the IT guys are backing, they are really asking not about the thousands of foot soldiers but of their generals, the IT chiefs.

What they are really asking is, “Who are the IT companies giving money to?”

On the face of it, though, the squeaky-clean IT chiefs say they do not pay and will never pay. Since most of the big ones are listed companies, an expense of this nature even if it is listed under “education” as Enron did, will get reflected in the annual results.

But you would be really naive to believe that, wouldn’t you.

Despite all the liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation, and the single windows and udyog mitras and all that claptrap, the government still plays the critical role of provider.

Smart IT chiefs recognise that there is valuable land to be gobbled up, STPI licenses to be renewed, tax concessions to be got, etc. So they use their smarts to stay on the right side of the right politicians and massage their egos.

A key indicator of who the IT guys are backing is to be seen in the pages of your newspaper.
Quite clearly it is not JDS and Deve Gowda, especially not after the humble farmer outlined in his manifesto a promise to reserve jobs in IT companies for Kannadigas.

So, of the main parties, it is a toss-up between the Congress and the BJP, with the former having a distinct edge in this area because of the S.M. Krishna experience or at least the perception of the S.M. Krishna experience.

But with no guarantee that Krishna will become CM again, even if the Congrss wins, will the IT guys back the Congress?

On the other hand, the BJP likes to paint itself as the laissez-faire party that wants fewer controls, lower taxes, etc. So, will the IT chiefs plump for BJP after the Atal Behari Vajpayee experience? But what is the guarantee that the BJP will come to power at the Centre?

All very confusing, you see.

The buzz in Bangalore is that a former IT guy is collecting dough for the BSP.

But if the IT companies are so smart, if their CEOs and CFOs and chiefs are so smart, why would they wait all this while to cosy up to their politician or party of choice?

And then again, if they are so smart, they would just spread their favour like the Khodays apparently did a long time ago, and keep everybody happy. So regardless of who wins, it is a win-win for all.

CHURUMURI POLL: Who will win State elections?

10 April 2008

The announcement of the dates for the assembly elections in Karnataka at once removes the political uncertainty in the air and reopens the evergreen question: who will win this time round? Will it be a decisive verdict this time unlike in 2004, or is it going to be a fractured verdict once again, as predicted by H.D. Deve Gowda? Does the BJP have the strength and stamina to not only retain its tally of 79 but add significantly to it, to come to power on its own? Or, will the Congress, kicking and screaming, once again find itself having to share the spoils with the Janata Dal (Secular)?

What are the three key issues on which this election will be decided? Is inflation and price rise likely to play a role? Will voters remember the “worst-ever betrayal” of the BJP by the JDS? Will the fact that the assembly polls are being held separately from the Lok Sabha elections change situation? Will S.M. Krishna‘s return to active politics along with the good rains help the Congress? Will the farm loan writeoff in the Union budget, along with the Congress’ promises of rice at Rs 2 a kilogram and colour TVs play a role? Will Arun Jaitely be able to replay his Gujarat magic for B.S. Yediyurappa? Will the BSP play spoilsport?

What is the final tally likely to be?

Read what you said in November: CHURUMURI POLL: Who will win the next election?