Posts Tagged ‘JDU’

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?

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?

Why Nitish, not Modi, could emerge as NDA face

15 September 2011

Shortly after the Gujarat pogrom of 2002,  John Elliott, long-time foreign correpondent based in India, surprised and shocked many when he wrote in the Business Standard that Narendra Damodardas Modi had it in him to become a potential national leader, “a logical heir to L.K. Advani“.

Yet, in 2011, when Elliott’s prescience seems to be coming true for Modi’s drumbeaters after this week’s Supreme Court ruling, the veteran journalist writes in The Independent, London, that despite his leadership and record, Modi might not quite make the cut as the leader of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Indeed, writes Elliott, Modi might have to cede ground to a softer, less abrasive and more acceptable man, who in fact has tried his darnedest not to be seen with him—Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United):

“The BJP has little support in parts of India, particularly the South, where it has just squandered a chance to expand by running a spectacularly corrupt oligarchic state administration in Karnataka. It therefore always needs to attract coalition partners, which it finds difficult because of its Hindu-chauvinist policies.

“It did however manage to build a coalition for its 1998-2004 governments by agreeing a policy programme that avoided anti-Muslim and other hard-line measures. Indeed those were years of relative communal harmony – a record ruined by the Gujarat atrocities.

“The chances of it being able to rebuild that trust with Modi as leader has seemed remote ever since 2002. It remains so today, unless Modi is prepared to apologise for the riots. He is trying to move on by staging a three-day “social harmony” fast this weekend, but he still rejects all allegations against him, so seems unlikely to readying an apology.

“When 2014 comes, Nitish Kumar, the development-oriented chief minister of Bihar and a BJP ally, could emerge as much more acceptable and moderate coalition candidate for prime minister. However, the BJP might be tempted to portray Modi as the sort of strong though divisive leader that India needs, especially if the Gandhis don’t smarten up the way that the current government operates and is run.”

Photograph: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar at an NDA rally in Punjab in 2009. Nitish Kumar was to later say that he had no option but to shake hands with Modi because he came and stood behind him.

Read the full article: Could Modi be the leader India needs?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi?

Is the decline of the Left a good thing for India?

17 May 2011

The end of the world’s longest democratically elected communist regime in Bengal, and its defeat in Kerala by a narrow margin, has been met with unrestrained glee by sections of the media and chatterati. From “good riddance” to “well deserved”, a variety of expressions have been used to celebrate the momentous occasion.

But is the decline of the Left parties—they are in power only in tiny Tripura—and the dimunition of what the Left stands for, necessarily such a good thing for India and its democracy?

On the face of it, the Left’s singleminded opposition to “progress” and “development” as understood by the consuming classes is not very appealing. But in a post-liberalised polity populated by the Congress tweedledum and the BJP tweedledee and with nothing left to choose between them, the Left has consistently shown that its heart is in the right place: on the left.

In its commitment to secular values, in its fight for basic human rights, in its battles against price rise, in the austerity and decency of its leaders and their general incorruptibility, in the conduct of its parliamentarians, etc, the Left has stood up and batted for the man on the street, providing a voice to the voiceless, the poor and the marginalised.

Above all, the Left parties provided an effective safety valve, asking unpopular questions and preventing governments from riding roughshod be it in pushing through the Indo-US civilian nuclear bill or in privatisating valuable public assets built with taxpayers’ money.

The CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member Sitaram Yechury in the Hindustan Times:

“Left’s influence on the evolution of modern India has neither been confined nor can it be measured by its electoral presence alone….  In today’s conditions, with the neo-liberal reforms creating two Indias that continue to be detached from each other and mega-corruption that robs India as a country and as a people of its true potential, it is the Left that steadfastly and consistently has kept a straight bat.”

The writer Mukul Kesavan in the Hindustan Times:

“The real value of the Left was that it stood in the way of Indian politics being polarised around the Congress and the BJP. Despite electorally being a regional player, largely confined to Kerala and West Bengal, the Left saw itself ideologically as a national force.

“Consequently, unlike powerful regional parties like Naveen Patnaik’s BJD or the Kazhagams or even Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) that willy-nilly allied with one or the other pan-Indian party for political leverage and money, the Left constantly tried to create alternative alignments. In this, it was chronically unsuccessful but it did, in its awkward, perverse way, try to create a social-democratic space in Indian politics.”

The Left parties may yet bounce back, or they may not, but is the obliteration of what the Left stands for, a cause for celebration?

How myopic netas have screwed us on Krishna

3 January 2011

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: When politicians as a tribe have failed the state, a quasi-judicial body like the River Water Disputes Tribunal has come as a saviour in safeguarding the interests of Karnataka in the Krishna waters’ dispute.

This in a nutshell sums up the net impact of the verdict given by the second Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) headed by Justice Brajesh Kumar last week.

Uniformly inept policies pursued by successive governments of all political hues, including the present one, had cumulatively pushed Karnataka to the brink on the utilisation of waters of the Krishna river.

Everything appeared to be lost.

The State had failed to utilise its one-third share of water allocated by the first KWDT, even 10 years after the expiry of the deadline.

If the new tribunal had taken the (under) utilisation as the basis for the fresh allocation, Karnataka faced the prospects of losing around 250 tmcft and whatever extra that might have accrued in the later allocation of surplus water.

As a result, Karnataka would not have got a drop of water extra, which would have been the end of the road for the State as for as the irrigation development is concerned.

On top of this underutilistion, there was an overactive Andhra Pradesh, which had laid its claims for the unutilised water and, in anticipation of the same, had gone ahead with its plans to create permanent infrastructure created with huge investments.

In contrast, Karnataka’s plans to raise the raise the height of the biggest dam across the Krishna in Karnataka at Alamatti had been stymied by the Supreme Court.

It was a self-inflicted problem that Karnataka had invited, thanks to two men in power, H.D. Deve Gowda and J.H. Patel.

In their eagerness to humour the Telugu Desam chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, they had landed Karnataka in the soup. Naidu raised a hue and cry over Karnataka’s move to raise the height of the Alamatti dam to 534 meters.

Gowda, then the Prime Minister of the United Front government, of which Telugu Desam was an important component, referred the matter to the steering committee of the UF, instead of allowing the State government of Patel to handle the same. The steering committee constituted a four-member panel, which in turn constituted an expert committee.

The expert committee was given a red carpet treatment when it visited Karnataka. The plea made by H.K. Patil for boycotting the committee since its interest would be detrimental to the interests of Karnataka fell on deaf ears.  The expert committee recommended that the height of the dam should be pegged at 519 meters.

With the fall of the Deve Gowda government, no followup action was taken. But it came in handy when Supreme Court was hearing the case. The apex court adopted the expert panel’s recommendation to bar Karnataka from raising the height of the dam beyond 519 meters.

If this ban on the height were to be continued by the second KWDT, it would have been the end of the road of irrigation development in northern Karnataka since the ban would come in the way of storing the surplus water of Krishna as and when allocated.

Karnataka would have had no place to store water.

But the IInd KWDT has mercifully cleared Karnataka’s case for raising the height of the dam to 524 tmcft, providing Karnataka with the scope for storing surplus water.

The Krishna basin, spanning over more than thirteen districts and bulk of the drought prone areas in northern Karnataka, is the biggest basin in Karnataka, much more than Cauvery.

The basin area has the potential to turn Karnataka into a food granary with the proper exploitation of the irrigation potential of Krishna. But this has not happened due to the totally inept and slipshod handling of the issue by the successive state governments in Karnataka.

Nobody has been an exception to this, be it the Congress governments, the Janata Dal/Janata Dal U or the BJP/JDS coalitions, or the present BJP governments.

Barring a few individual leaders like the late S. Nijalingappa, Deve Gowda, the late H.M. Channabasappa, late H.N. Nanje Gowda and H.K. Patil, none who handled the portfolio had any semblance of understanding of the issue and its potential to change the fortunes of the State.

As a consequence of the follies of its rulers, Karnataka had missed the bus completely and was condemned to suffer and pay a heavy price. It is in this context that verdict of the IInd KWDT has brought cheer on the face of the farmers in Karnataka.

The tribunal has not only protected the allocation Karnataka had got despite its failure to utilise fully, it has not countenanced Andhra Pradesh’s claims for use of the unutilized waters and allocated more water to Karnataka from the surplus arising after the previous allocation.

This has resulted in Karnataka getting an overall allocation of 911 tmcft. The aspirations of the Karnataka farmers get a new lease of life.

Of all the people, it is the tribe of politicians of all hues who are extremely happy over the final allocation of share of Krishna waters. Because it has literally saved them from the consequences of an adverse verdict.

The people indeed are happy. But the happiness over the increased allocation and the removal of the ban on the height of the dam are nothing more than notional.

To use a Kannada adage, it is akin to the treasure visible in the mirror. You can see it, but you can’t touch it.

For the key factor is the expeditious utilisation of the allocated water. It is here that Karnataka has been faltering.  It has poor track record of execution of irrigation projects.

The politicians of Karnataka have shown that they lack vision and commitment and are not averse to politicising development issues at the drop of the hat.

After nearly four decades of the award being made by the Tribunal, the Karnataka has been able to impound around 500 tmcft. But not all the water available in the dam has been able to reach the farmers fields even to this day.

In this context, the task of utilising a total of 400 tmcft as a consequence of the judgment of the IInd Tribunal is a tall order by any standard. Very few doubt whether it will be able to utilise the water within the 40-year deadline fixed by the Second Tribunal.

There could yet be a slip between the cup and the lip.

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

Why didn’t ol’ William ask: ‘What’s in a number?’

4 May 2009

arun-nehruArun Nehru in Deccan Chronicle:

“The situation is very complicated for all three formations (United Progressive Alliance, National Democratic Alliance and the Third Front) and few can predict today the picture that will emerge after results are declared on May 16….

“My assessment is that both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will maintain and perhaps improve upon their 2004 Lok Sabha numbers.

“I also think that the Left will drop from 60-plus to 35-40 seats and the grand alliance of the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) will drop from 65 to about 30-35 seats. The trends in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh show a change in mood and whilst the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) may improve its tally, both the BJP and the Congress may gain at the expense of the SP. In Bihar, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the BJP seem set to demolish the RJD and the LJP.”

Read the full article: Trends show mood swing in Bihar, UP

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

CHURUMURI POLL: Bring back Swiss bank money?

6 April 2009

In an election devoid of a unifying theme other than hate and fear, “Swiss Bank Money” has emerged as a major mantra on many a political lip.

From L.K. Advani to Sitaram Yechuri, bringing back “unaccounted money” stashed away in tax havens like Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Cayman Islands has become the refrain. The amounts mentioned are astronomic: The BJP says Rs 5,000 billion crore up from; CPI(M) pegs it at $1.4 trillion; JD(U) says it is $1,456 billion; Rs 692,328 crore in the last five years alone; anywhere between Rs 25 lakh crore and Rs 70 lakh crore.

Narendra Modi says the Swiss bank money have fuelled the stock markets, Advani wants the names of ministers who have been to Switzerland made public; the BJP wants to conduct a week-long survey to drum up public opinion following rumours and reports that India was not just unenthusiastic about French efforts at the G20 summit in London to make tax havens transparent, but plainly casual.

Underlying all the flagellation is the belief that the Swiss banks will readily divulge the names of Indian “tax evaders, corrupt individuals and criminals” like they did in a Florida tax evasion case involving UBS Bank, and the assumption that the current global financial crisis is the right time to strike the iron. An IIM Bangalore professor says “India will be in the top five league if all the ill-gotten money is brought back.”

Advani, for his part, goes the whole hog. Even if we take the lower limit of the estimated amount of Rs. 25 lakh crore, the money is sufficient to, he says:

• Relieve the debts of all farmers and landless
• Build world-class roads all over the country – from national and state highways to district and rural roads;
• Completely eliminate the acute power shortage in the country and also to bring electricity to every unlit rural home;
• Provide safe and adequate drinking water in all villages and towns in India
• Construct good-quality houses, each worth Rs. 2.5 lakh, for 10 crore families;
• Provide Rs. 4 crore to each of the nearly 6 lakh villages; the money can be used to build, in every single village, a school with internet-enabled education, a primary health centre with telemedicine facility, a veterinary clinic, a playground with gymnasium, and much more.

Questions: Are these numbers real, or are Advani, Yechuri & Co merely flaunting a fictitious chainmail and indulging in politics by insinuation? Will any government—even a BJP-led one—really be able to bring back the money? Will the Swiss banks oblige? Is all the money in Swiss banks illegal? Can our parties and alliance take the risk of rubbing individuals and industrialists who finance them on the wrong side?

Also read: S. Gurumurthy on funny money

India’s dirty money dilemma

Advani and the Swiss money hoax

‘Consolidation of anti-Congress vote will aid BJP’

9 May 2008

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: Notwithstanding the opinion polls, the Congress looks poised to pay a heavy price for its political smugness and failure to read the pulse of the electorate this time too, as the rising tide of anti-Congress sentiment swells up the sails of the BJP.

Opening its political account south of the Vindhyas has been the BJP’s mission for long. If that happens, it will not be because there has been any intrinsic rise in the support base of the BJP but because of the consolidation of anti-Congress forces behind it, with the JDS, the other claimant, all set to get decimated.

That the Congress is finding it difficult to make much headway in gaining the support of the electorate in the elections, has been a fact of life for more than three-and-a-half decades.

Barring the first election after the Congress split in 1972, the Congress in no other election has been able to get more than 50 per cent of the total votes polled in the elections. But the party has managed to survive mainly because of the fragmentation of the anti-Congress votes among the several parties.

The movement towards the consolidation of the anti-Congress votes, which began in 1983, marked the beginning of a politically uncomfortable and uncertain period for the Congress from which it has never fully recovered, despite all the tall talk of serving the peoples’ interest.

Of the six elections held in the last 25 years, the Congress, has been able to win only twice, namely in 1989 and 1989, while the remaining have all gone in favour of non-Congress parties.

# 1983 was a shock year for the Congress. It lost its bastion and lost the race both in terms of the seats won and votes secured. In the 224-member assembly, the Congress could win 82 seats, as against 95 of the Janata and 18 of the BJP, with the rest going to independents.

Of the 129.19 lakh valid votes polled, the Congress polled 52.21 lakh votes (40.82%) while the Janata and BJP between themselves polling 52.97 lakh votes (41%) with 22 lakh votes going to others, including independents. This heralded the formation of the first non-Congress government headed by Ramakrishna Hegde.

# In 1985, the Congress lost further ground. It won 65 seats as against 139 won by Janata. Of the 147.20 lakh valid votes polled, the Congress secured 60.09 lakh votes (40.82%), and the Janata with 64.18 lakh votes (43.60%) and BJP with 5.71 lakh votes (3.88%) outdistanced the Congress.

# 1989 saw the revival of the political fortunes of the Congress, with Veerendra Patil leading the party to an impressive victory winning a whopping 176 seats. But in terms of the vote -share the picture was not that bright. The Congress still failed to cross the 50 per cent mark, having got only 79.90 lakh votes (43.76%) out of the total of 182.57 lakh valid voters.

The two factions of the Janata Parivar, the Janata Dal (49.34 lakhs) and Janata Party (20.70 lakhs), between themselves had managed to rake in 38.42% of the voters with BJP nibbling 7.55 lakhs (4.41%). Jointly they had overtaken the ruling party. 26 lakh votes remained beyond the purview of all the leading parties in the fray. Incidentally, the comeback of Congress was attributed to the schism within the Janata parivar.

# In 1994 Congress hit nadir of its political career, winning a measly 34 seats, six seats fewer than the BJP which became the principal opposition party for the first time in the history, while the Janata Dal had won 115 seats. In terms of vote share, the Congress with 56.33 lakhs (27.21%) was overtaken by JD, which polled 69.44 lakhs (33.54%), the BJP with 35.17 lakh votes (16.59%) following suit.

# In 1999 the Congress no doubt was returned to power under the leadership of S.M. Krishna, winning 132 seats as against 44 of BJP, 18 of the JDU and 10 of the JDS. But in terms of the votes cast, the three non-Congress parties had notched up 99.21 lakhs votes (BJP 45.98 lakhs, JDS 23.16 lakhs, and JDU 30.06 lakhs), which was more than Congress which had got 90.77 lakh votes (40.84%). The Congress, it was clear had got the benefit of the division of the anti-Congress votes among the three parties.

# In 2004, it was fractured mandate, with BJP in the lead with 79 seats, followed by 65 of Congress, 58 of the JDS, 5 of the JDU and 16 others. Between them, the three non-Congress parties chalked up a tally of 128.56 lakhs as against 88.61 lakhs secured by Congress.

The BJP and JDS had improved their position mainly because of the decimation of the JDU, which was one of the major players in the previous polls. The Congress did not get even the benefit of the 43 lakh new voters who had been added to the electoral roll, since its tally was down by two lakhs over the previous figure.

Under the circumstances, the following scenario for the 2008 election emerges:

# Even after the weeding out 50 lakh bogus voters from the rolls, the electorate has gone up from 3.85 crore in 2004 to 4.00 crore now, showing a rise by 15 lakh voters.

# Secondly, it is quite clear that the JDS has suffered erosion in its base seriously. Because it had hobnobbed with Congress in forming the coalition it cannot portray itself as a party opposed to the Congress which diminishes chances of the party laying claims for a share of the anti-Congress votes.

# BJP is the only anti-Congress outfit in the field and unlike the previous two occasions, there are no other claimants for any share in the anti-Congress votes. It is therefore sure to rake up a major slice of anti-Congress votes as there is no other credible anti-Congress party before the voters.

Infighting, the presence of rebels in the fray, dissatisfaction over distribution of tickets, and party hopping are common to all the parties. The rhetoric of the manifestos is also common.

What stands out in the maze of contradictions is the groundswell of anti-Congress sentiment. It is this which puts the BJP in an advantageous position.

Both the Congress and the JDS are not in a position to make any headway in Northern Karnataka, the support of which is crucial for any party wanting to form the government, going by the track record of election history. BJP therefore finds itself better placed of accomplishing its mission.