Posts Tagged ‘Nitin Gadkari’

POLL: Has RSS shown Narendra Modi his place?

12 November 2012

The RSS ideologue M.G. Vaidya has kicked off a big storm in the BJP teacup ahead of the Gujarat elections, by alleging that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was behind the recent campaign of vilification against the party president Nitin Gadkari, which culminated in a demand for Gadkari’s removal from the post by the renowned lawyer and BJP member of Parliament, Ram Jethmalani, and his lawyer-son Mahesh Jethmalani.

On his blog, Vaidya writes:

“Needle of suspicion in the campaign against BJP president Nitin Gadkari points to Gujarat BJP and Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Ram Jethmalani had in one breath said he is seeking the resignation of Gadkari and that he also wanted to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister in 2014.”

In many ways, what Vaidya says is not particularly new; Modi’s alleged involvement (and of his lackeys) in hurling allegations at Gadkari over his business dealings through the media has been gossip in the political corridors and television studios in Delhi for days now. After all, Jethmalani senior (who represents the former minister of state for home, Amit Shah, in the encounter cases) was given a Rajya Sabha seat at the behest of Modi.

But the backroom buzz has been given a certificate of authenticity with Vaidya putting it on record and then reiterating it, although the BJP has been at pains to reject the insinuation. However, since nothing in the RSS happens without a pattern, Vaidya going public with his allegation at this juncture poses several questions:

Is the RSS conveying its displeasure of Modi’s tactics and his overweening ambition to occupy the national stage? Was Gadkari retained as BJP chief last week (after another RSS ideologue S. Gurumurthy gave a clean chit) largely to show Modi his place? Did Modi mount a subversive attack on Gadkari in the full knowledge that if Gadkari finished his first term or got a second term (as the party’s consitution now allows), he could prove a hurdle in his path given the backing he enjoys from the RSS?

More importantly, does Modi’s ascension look less assured even if he wins a third term, as he is slated to? And, if he is rebuffed in his prime ministerial ambitions should NDA get a majority, could Modi (as B.S. Yediyurappa aide and the president of his soon-to-be-formed party, Dhananjay Kumar, has said on TV) break away and form his own party as Yediyurappa is threatening to do?

And, does the recent turn of events indicate the kind of polarising figure Narendra Modi will be if he graduates to Delhi?


Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

CHURUMURI POLL: Does Mukesh Ambani run India?

31 October 2012

Long years ago, when Doordarshan was the only TV option for the mango people, the weekly serial was the sole form of entertainment in the back of beyond. Each evening, thirsty masses waited with bated breath for what Hum Log and  Khandaan, Ados Pados and Jaane bhi do yaaro would throw up that week.

That done, the waiting would begin again.

In the age of 24×7 news television, editors and journalists appear to have outsourced one hour of each week to Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan to allow them to air their libel-laden soap opera.

One week, they show the wheeling-dealing of Sonia Gandhi‘s son-in-law Robert Vadra; another week it is Atal Bihari Vajpayee‘s son in-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya. One week, it is Salman Khurshid, another week it is Nitin Gadkari. One week, it is DLF, another week it is Reliance Industries.

And so it is, this Wednesday evening, when the producer-director duo behind India Against Corruption have merrily stated that it is RIL’s Mukesh Ambani, not Manmohan Singh, who is running the country. Using the cabinet reshuffle, in which the oil and petroleum minister S. Jaipal Reddy was shunted out to the lesser science and technology ministry, as the peg, the two have alleged:

# Reliance’s arm-twisting ways have caused a massive loss to the nation. Reliance has promised to deliver cheap gas for 17 years, but it has never delivered…

# Reliance has the contract to extract oil from KG Basin. Under an agreement of 2009 with the government, they are supposed to sell gas at $ 4.2 per mmBTU upto 31 March 2014. Midway now, RIL is demanding that the price be increased to $ 14.2 per mmBTU. Jaipal Reddy resisted that and he was thrown out…

# The then petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar was replaced and Murli Deora was brought in to benefit RIL. Pranab Mukherjee gave undue benefit of Rs 8000 crore to RIL in 2007. Now, Jaipal Reddy has been ousted for objecting to raising RIL’s demand to raise gas prices.”

“The government is succumbing to the illegitimate demands of RIL. Even the PM was very sympathetic to RIL. And as a result, Reliance has gained more than Rs 1 lakh crore, that the country lost.”

Question: Are Kejriwal-Bhushan right? Do Mukesh Ambani and Reliance run the country?

Also read: Rajya Sabha TV tears into RIL-Network18-ETV deal

The sudden rise of Mukesh Ambani, media mogul

The Indian Express, Reliance & Shekhar Gupta

Niira Radia, Mukesh Ambani, Prannoy Roy & NDTV

Why the Indian media doesn’t take on the Ambanis

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?

Western Ghats, UNESCO & Karnataka’s politicians

19 August 2012

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

His first piece has this telling item:

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

Read the column: Olympians, politicians and babus

Five questions for L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley

24 February 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are only few examples.

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

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

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

Here are five key questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, let the administration be damned in the State.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

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

How BJP turned Karnataka politics into a cartoon

Raichur, malnutrition deaths and BJP ‘governance’

Yella OK, guru. Nanna makkalu is not learning

What Sonia Gandhi’s illness reveals about media

22 September 2011

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, scooped by Indian Express photographer Anil Sharma, as she leaves her daughter’s residence in New Delhi on 14 September 2011.

Nothing has exposed the hollowness of so-called “political reporting” in New Delhi, and the fragilility of editorial spines of newspapers and TV stations across the country, than the Congress president Sonia Gandhi‘s illness.

Hundreds of correspondents cover the grand old party; tens of editors claim to be on on first-name terms with its who’s who; and at least a handful of them brag and boast of unbridled “access” to 10 Janpath.

Yet none had an inkling that she was unwell.

Or, worse, the courage to report it, if they did.

Indeed, when the news was first broken by the official party spokesman in August, he chose the BBC and the French news agency AFP as the media vehicles instead of the media scrum that assembles for the daily briefing.

Sonia Gandhi has since returned home but even today the inability of the media—print, electronic or digital—to throw light on just what is wrong with the leader of India’s largest political party or to editorially question the secrecy surounding it, is palpable.

Given the hospital she is reported to have checked into, the bazaar gossip on Sonia has ranged from cervical cancer to breast cancer to pancreatic cancer but no “political editor” is willing to put his/her name to it, taking cover under her right to privacy.

About the only insight of Sonia’s present shape has come from an exclusive photograph shot by Anil Sharma of The Indian Express last week.

In a counter-intuitive sort of way, Nirupama Subramanian takes up the silence of the media in The Hindu:

“That the Congress should be secretive about Ms Gandhi’s health is not surprising. What is surprising, though, is the omertà being observed by the news media, usually described by international writers as feisty and raucous.

“On this particular issue, reverential is the more fitting description. Barring editorials in the Business Standard and Mail Today, no other media organisation has thought it fit to question the secrecy surrounding the health of the government’s de facto Number One.

“A similar deference was on display a few years ago in reporting Atal Bihari Vajpayee‘s uneven health while he was the Prime Minister. For at least some months before he underwent a knee-replacement surgery in 2001, it was clear he was in a bad way, but no news organisation touched the subject. Eventually, the government disclosed that he was to undergo the procedure, and it was covered by the media in breathless detail.

“Both before and after the surgery, there was an unwritten understanding that photographers and cameramen would not depict Vajpayee’s difficulties while walking or standing. Post-surgery, a British journalist who broke ranks to question if the Prime Minister was fit enough for his job (“Asleep at The Wheel?” Time, June 10, 2002) was vindictively hounded by the government.

“Almost a decade later, much has changed about the Indian media, which now likes to compare itself with the best in the world. But it lets itself down again and again. The media silence on Ms Gandhi is all the more glaring compared with the amount of news time that was recently devoted to Omar Abdullah‘s marital troubles. The Jammu & Kashmir chief minister’s personal life has zero public importance. Yet a television channel went so far as to station an OB van outside his Delhi home, and even questioned the maid….

“Meanwhile, the media are clearly not in the mood to extend their kid-glove treatment of Ms Gandhi’s illness to some other politicians: it has been open season with BJP president Nitin Gadkari‘s health problems arising from his weight. Clearly, it’s different strokes for different folks.”

Read the full article: The omerta on Sonia‘s illness

Also read: Why foreign media broke news of Sonia illness

How come no one spotted Satyam fraud?

How come no one saw the IPL cookie crumbling?

How come no one in the media saw the worm turn?

Aakar PatelIndian journalism is regularly second-rate

CHURUMURI POLL: What next in Karnataka?

28 July 2011

While the opposition parties are unanimous that chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa should resign after the Lok Ayukta’s stinging indictment in the Rs 16,000 crore illegal mining scam, the BJP is caught between several stools, even as the incumbent strikes yet another note of brazen defiance.

Yediyurappa for his part has indicated that he will not resign, and asserted that everybody—his MLAs, his party’s “all India” leaders, everybody—is with him. But his party high command, alive to the continuing embarrassment of his stay ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, is meeting in Delhi to decide the next course of action.

Many options are before the BJP. The first is to let Yediyurappa continue in power, but that move risks exposing the party on the national stage every single day while it sits on the high horse on 2G, CWG and other scams. The second is to choose a less-divisive, cleaner successor; it will help if it is a Yediyurappa acolyte, it might hurt if it is not.

The third option is to recommend dissolution of the assembly and seek to come back with a bigger majority, but that move carries two risks: one, Yediyurappa’s stranglehold on the party could continue with attendant national risks, and two, the voters may not back the BJP as it thinks they do.

What do you think should the BJP do now?

Of course, if some VIP had been held hostage…

26 June 2011

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: When our sailors were caught by Somalian pirates for over 10 months, their families ran from Pillai to post in New Delhi to get our government to act.

They met the prime minister, the UPA chairperson and the defence minister and god knows who else. Their efforts came to nought; no help was forthcoming from the high and mighty, and the biggest navy in the region.

Of what use is the strength of our defence forces apart from the ‘show of strength’ during the Republic Day parade?

Why was our government pussyfooting on saving our sailors caught in deep sea, not by an enemy’s naval force but by a bunch of pirates? What was the so-called opposition doing in playing its rightful role?

Why didn’t the wailings of the family and friends of the sailors capture the attention of the nation, including dare we say ours, till the rescue took place?

In contrast, our arch rival Pakistan showed far better understanding of the problem and was instrumental in securing the release of the kidnapped sailors.

Ansar Burney Trust, an NGO from Pakistan, arranged $2.1 million to rescue the hostages. India, it appears, did not pay the promised $500,000.

The owners were blind to the woes of the crew. None of the famed “trusts” of our corporate bigwigs voluntarily came to the help of the crew in collecting the ransom.

Even after the hostages had been freed, when MV Suez again came under attack from the pirates, PNS Babur intervened and thwarted the attack.

Which raises simple questions:

Why were sailors left high and dry and left to fend for themselves by the government, trusts, civil society and corporates even though we are supposed to be a mighty naval force in this region—a burgeoning superpower, an Asian tiger?

Why are we  so insensitive when it comes to the life of ‘aam aadmi’—and so hyperactive when VIP lives are at stake?

CHURUMURI POLL: Why did Sushma ditch Reddys?

29 May 2011

Sushma Swaraj‘s somersault with a mid-air blackflip, on her relationship with the Reddy brothers of Bellary and her role in their political rise and growth, is a mindbending piece of acrobatics in a political theatre that now resembles a ragtag circus where the jokers and jesters have taken over the main show.

By blaming chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa and Arun Jaitley, Swaraj tests the political memory of those who have seen her riding piggyback on the mining brothers and their “family” associates, like B. Sriramulu, from the time of her election campaign against Sonia Gandhi in 1999 and providing benign protection to their antics subsequently.

Equally amazingly, Yediyurappa supports what Sushma Swaraj says!

Sushma Swaraj now expects the world to believe that she has had nothing to do with the Reddys, that she was actually opposed to their inclusion in the cabinet, etc. She claims she meets them and talks to them on only one day of the year, on Varamahalakshmi habba, and that all has happened has happened courtesy the “others” in the party.

Now that the BJP president Nitin Gadkari has put the onus on the rise of the Reddys to the collective leadership of the BJP at both the State and central levels, two questions arise. One, who was behind the political emergence of the Reddy brothers that has brought such shame to the State on the national canvas?

And two, just why this sudden confession from Sushma Swaraj?

Does the leader of the opposition—whose husband Swaraj Kaushal was appointed the counsel for the State when the heat first got on to the Reddys—have some foreknowledge of what is to come? Or has she been tipped off on “mentions” in the Lok Ayukta report that could put the pressure on her in a season of corruption?

Is this just oneupmanship in the BJP in the run-up to the 2014 elections, as part of which Sushma Swaraj has repeatedly felt the need to take on Jaitley’s mentor, Narendra Damodardas Modi? Or has the BJP, which needed the Reddys to put up candidates and buy up MLAs when there was a shortfall, and ferry them around when there is a crisis, run out of use for them?


Also read: How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

Getaway of the louts in the Gateway to the South

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

One question I’m dying to ask Yediyurappa & Reddy

Why Yediyurappa is on a strong wicket (for now)

23 January 2011

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: A  protracted legal battle, especially over the issue of the discretionary powers enjoyed by the governor, appears likely to be the most important fallout of the spat between H.R. Bharadwaj and B.S. Yediyurappa, over the sanction of prosecution of the chief minister.

Of  secondary importance is the impact of the governor’s action on the political equations in the State in general, and the propriety of the CM continuing in office despite the go-ahead for prosecution in particular.

From all available indications, Yediyurappa is unlikely to oblige his detractors and prefers going down fighting rather than throwing in the towel. As a matter of fact, he finds himself in an advantageous position, much to the chagrin of those who have planned and executed this move.


The discretionary powers enjoyed by the governor is a grey area, which still needs to be fine tuned through judicial interpretation, like Article 356 of the Constitution (on imposing President’s rule) was done by the Supreme Court in the S.R. Bommai case.

Under the present frame of things, the governor enjoys two kinds of discretionary powers, namely the one given by the Constitution under Article 163, and the others given under the relevant statutes including section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code (for sanctioning of prosecution).

While the former has been clearly defined, the latter has some areas of doubt on the question of whether the discretionary power enjoyed by the governor is individual, or whether he is bound by the advice of the council of ministers.


There have been three important rulings of the apex court in this connection: a 1974 judgment in the case of dismissal of two judicial officers of the Punjab government; a 1982 case of a special leave petition (SLP) filed in connection with the prosecution of then Maharashtra chief minister A.R. Antulay; and a 2004 case of prosecution of two ministers of the Madhya Pradesh government.

What stands out in the three judicial pronouncements is that the governor has to necessarily act on the advice of the council of ministers.

The question of the governor exercising individual discretion comes only in the rarest of rare cases and in cases involving the choice of the chief minister or the dismissal of  a government which refuses to resign after losing majority and the dissolution of the house.

Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, who were members of the seven-judge bench, had something more to add while concurring with the other judges:

“The President, like the King, has not merely been constitutionally romanticised but actually has been given a pervasive and persuasive role. While he plays such a role, he is not a rival centre of power in any sense and must abide by and act on the advice tendered by his ministers except in narrow territory, which is sometimes slippery…[and]  should avoid getting involved in politics.”

In the case of Antulay, a two-member SC bench led by Justice Chinnappa Reddy noted that the discretionary powers exercised by the governor (in sanctioning the prosecution of the CM) arose out of the concession made at the high court by the attorney-general, who had appeared for the respondents.

“The governor, while determining whether sanction should be granted or not, as a matter of propriety, necessarily acted on his own discretion and not on the advice of the council of ministers,” said the bench, and expressed its satisfaction that concession given by the attorney-general was to advance the cause of justice. But it made amply clear that this applied to this particular case only.


As for the sanction of prosecution of the Madhya Pradesh ministers, the Supreme Court upheld the governor’s decision in view of the bias, inherent or manifest, in the cabinet decision.

It is this 2004 judgment on which the Karnataka governor has relied while giving permission for the prosecution of the B.S. Yediyurappa.

But there is an essential difference between the  Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka situations. In Madhya Pradesh, the matter went to the governor after the cabinet had rejected the permission. And the governor had the benefit of the Lok Ayukta report on the charges made against the two ministers to act upon.

But in Karnataka, the lawyer’s petition seeking the sanction went straight to the governor, and the governor conceded to the request even when the matter was pending investigation with the Lok Ayukta and the judicial commission especially appointed for the purpose.

The Karnataka episode has thrown up another new problem: what validity should the discretion exercised carry when the governor’s action is perceived as biased/ prejudiced/ or one sided?

The  BJP has a long list to prove its charge of bias and its spokesmen, including the chief minister, have been harping on this aspect. This may also be put up for judicial scrutiny.


As far as the impact of the current imbroglio on political equations in Karnataka, the answer is simple. Nothing worthwhile is expected to happen. No doubt Yediyurappa and the BJP are terribly embarrassed. But Yediyurappa is a person who will not easily give up office and so won’t his party.

However, it must be said that The problems faced by the BJP are its own creation. It has needlessly provoked the governor.

The BJP should have been careful in its dealings the moment a longtime Congress loyalist like Bharadwaj, who is known to have no scruples in serving party interests in whatever capacity he is holding, was sent as governor.

But it did not so and is now paying the price for its indiscretion and lack of sophistication in dealing with the governor. The relations between the governor and the government have never been on even keel at any time and both have stoked the fire of mutual animosity and acrimony and find themselves caught in a cleft stick.

The governor, in the name of exercising caution, has cornered them.


Going by the names figuring in the complaint, on the basis of which the sanction to prosecute Yediyurappa was given by the governor, it is clear that it is his family members rather than party functionaries or dissidents, who have landed him in trouble.

This was the point which the BJP leader in charge of the State, Arun Jaitley, had reportedly made to upbraid Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Raghavendra at the height of its last crisis to save the CM’s chair two months ago. The remarks by the BJP president Nitin Gadkari that the actions of Yediyurappa “may be immoral and not illegal” have only added spice to the same.

But with all this, the BJP finds itself in a politically advantageous position. This is because the denouement smacks of  political bias. The governor has acted unilaterally in acting on the allegations hurled at the CM repeatedly by the opposition JDS and kowtowed to by the Congress, without giving a hearing to the concerned.

Nothing under the circumstances prevents Yediyurappa from launching a political campaign to proclaim that it is all a pre-planned conspiracy to unseat him. He may stomp round Karnataka narrating the  sob story of his continued persecution by his detractors, who are envious of his success and want to undo the mandate given by the people, in the same manner he had when H.D. Kumaraswamy refused to hand over the reins as had been agreed upon.

This has a bright chance of success for two things. Firstly, the corruption has ceased to be an issue influencing the poll, barring the solitary exception of Rajiv Gandhi losing the 1989 general elections in the wake of the campaign against the Bofors payoffs.

Secondly the BJP’s image remains high in the eyes of the people, as has been proved in all the elections for the different fora held ever since BJP came to power in Karnataka more than two years ago. The latest in the series has been its success in the panchayat elections.

The performance of the BJP, which was practically a non-starter in the realm of panchayats, has been much better than its rivals, who have been left far behind, despite a vigorous political campaign.

Moreover, in general parlance, the sanction by the governor to launch the prosecution, hardly means anything.  It merely presages the starting point of a legal battle and has so many phases to be covered, for which the party is getting ready. The first step has been taken with a complaint already filed before the Lok Ayukta court.

Yediyurappa is not obliged to resign merely because the governor has sanctioned his prosecution. He is the company of his peers like L.K. Advani, who continued in office despite a chargesheet filed in an Uttar Pradesh court in connection with the demolition of Babri Masjid.

Yediyurappa may have a long legal fight on his hands to clear himself of the charges made but none of this warrants his resignation.

Knowing his nature he is not the one to give up the office that easily. He may refuse to resign and may dare the governor to dismiss him if it comes to that. This would surely enable him to take his fight to the people. In this, he apparently has the full backing of the party at the national level.

BJP has made an  opening gambit of taking the issue to the people by calling for a bandh. Efforts are underway to mount pressure for the withdrawal of the governor, which are doomed to fail  going by the manner in which the Congress is backing the Governor.

What happens to the common man in the process is not difficult to guess.

(Mathihalli Madan Mohan (in picture, top) is a former special correspondent of The Hindu)

Photograph: Chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose‘s birthday celebrations, in Bangalore on Sunday (Karnataka Photo News)

CHURUMURI POLL: “Most corrupt government?”

10 November 2010

After pretending for weeks that nothing was amiss, the Congress has shown the door to Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and the chairman of the organising committee of the Commonwealth Games, Suresh Kalmadi, who was the secretary of the party’s parliamentary wing.

The spin doctors say by acting the two, the party has raised the probity bar, but clearly, the immediate provocation was the winter session of Parliament and the fear of getting cornered. Plus, the fear of losing the support of the urban middle-class that has been numbed by the scale, frequency and size of the scams.

But the CWG and Adarsh housing society swindles are not the only scams that the Congress-led UPA has had to face. There is the overhang of 2G spectrum allocation involving the DMK’s A. Raja, a ripoff said to be in the tune of Rs 170,000 crore. Plus, there is the rice scam and the DD scam and fill-your-scam-here.

The BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who has himself been embroiled in the Adarsh allotment scandal, has said this is the most corrupt government in the history of India, an irony considering that it is headed by Manmohan Singh, whose personal integrity is repeatedly hammered home by all and sundry.

Questions: Is this India’s most corrupt government? Is the Congress attempting a clean-up, or is this a cover-up to prevent the muck from touching the high and mighty? Is corruption any longer an election issue, or is it just a middle-class fixation? Does anybody believe that all these scams take place without the awareness of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi? Or is Manmohan willingly allowing his name to be misused?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

CHURUMURI POLL: How corrupt are you?

When killing becomes the motive and motivation

27 July 2010

Nothing has brought home to decent, ordinary, law-abiding, apolitical Indians the brazen disregard for the law of the land of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) than its verbal callisthenics and physical contortions after the arrest of the thuggish minister of State for home of vibrant Gujarat, Amit Shah.

First, an infantile leadership commandeered by the “former future prime minister of India“, Lalchand Kishinchand Advani, cancels a luncheon appointment with the prime minister, couching the fact that it was the Supreme Court not the Congress that ordered the CBI to probe the cold-blooded murder of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauserbi.

Then, Narendra Damodardas Modi spots the usual ghosts of Gujarati asmita trying to “put obstacles in development work” although his own police had spoken of the “collusion of state government“. The party’s “mouth ke saudagar” wax eloquent on TV on how a gangster/extortionist somehow deserved the kind of death he got.

In all of this, there is not one word of remorse at lives cruelly snuffed out by agents of the State acting clearly at the behest of their political masters; as if the sight of a dozen IPS officers cooling their blood-stained heels in jail or a home minister absconding and not attending office is a normal thing.

In all of this, there is not the least bit of introspection on the part of the chief minister of a State—the State’s home minister, Amit Shah’s boss, to wit—who openly bayed for the blood of those he vacuously claimed had been sent to kill him.

And now the comical president of the BJP, Nitin Gadkari, delivers this tell-tale piece of evidence of the party’s mad machismo—the pumped-up blood-lust that has been sangh parivar’s signature since 1948 but especially since 2002—against the Supreme Court-ordered inquiry, in the Hindustan Times:

“If such inquiries are launched into encounters, then would police kill criminals? Who will fight terrorism?”

As if the police can be judge, jury and executioner.

As if there is no difference between vigilantes and uniformed cops.

As if the first action of the police when they spot a criminal is to kill.

As if those empowered to enforce the law should bypass the Constitution.

Cartoon: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Is Narendra Modi next?

Tweedledum-bhai and Tweedledee-bhai, and vice-versa

6 + 1 questions after the return of Santosh Hegde

4 July 2010

The Karnataka Lok Ayukta, Justice N. Santosh Hegde‘s decision to withdraw his resignation will surprise a few and not surprise those whose literature major was drama.

But his invocation of the “former future prime minister of India”, L.K. Advani—“he is like my father” just two days after he had stated that “he will not influence me“—as justification for his move is sure to spark a few questions:

1) Like, despite his public protestations, is chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa entirely happy with Justice Hegde’s decision to stay back? After all, it was he who had thanked Justice Hegde for his services without even going through the courtesy of requesting him to continue in office for fear of embarrassing him, and wasn’t even inclined to meet him?

2) Like, despite its contempt for the high command-driven politics of the Congress, is the BJP too firmly in its grip? After all, it took the persuasive powers of Sushma Swaraj to put an end to the last rebellion of the Reddy brothers last November after every other method had failed. And now, the “former future prime minister of India” has had to step in to resolve a State issue.

3) Like, despite his decision to quit as BJP president, is L.K. Advani still running the party, be it in putting up Ram Jethmalani as a party candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls, wooing back Jaswant Singh, cosying up to Uma Bharti, and now in intervening in l’affaire Hegde? And is the RSS entirely happy with his enhanced role, or is this an admission that its candidate Nitin Gadkari has  flopped?

4) Like, given Justice Hegde’s earlier resolve to quit come hell or high water, are we to assume from the trajectory of his return that the “former future prime minister of India” is more powerful than the chief minister and his colleagues, former chief minister S.M. Krishna, governor H.R. Bharadwaj and Union home minister P. Chidambaram, all of whom tried to woo him back but in vain?

5) Will Justice Hegde get another term as Lok Ayukta or will he remit office as scheduled later this year? Either way, will he share the dais with politicians after saying that he did not trust them, and that there were only three-and-a-half honest ministers in Yediyurappa’s team?

6) Who will emerge stronger from this episode? Justice Hegde or Yediyurappa or the Reddy brothers? Will Justice Hegde getting the backing and cooperation he is seeking, or will he find that he will be found dispensable after the storm subsides? Will the Reddy brothers raise a fresh banner of revolt if the heat gets to them?

Bonus question: Like, where do all those who insinuated that Justice Santosh Hegde was acting at the behest of the Congress in resigning on the eve of the BJP government’s’ sadhana samavesha and making charges of corruption, stand now that he is back at the behest of the “former future prime minister of India”?

Photograph: Karnataka Lok Ayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde along with BJP national president Nitin Gadkari and chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa at his residence in Bangalore on Saturday. ( Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: ‘In Ram Rajya, hamaam mein sab nange hain

Getaway of the Louts in the Gateway to the South

CHURUMURI POLL: Dismiss BJP govt in Karnataka?

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

A few austere 5-star tents for the knicker lobby

19 February 2010

Mail Today cartoonist R. Prasad‘s take on BJP president Nitin Gadkari apeing Congress MP Rahul Gandhi‘s stopover at Dalit homes. After the photo-op, the BJP jambooree has moved to Indore for the party’s national council, where party leaders are slogging it out in tents more expensive than five-star hotel rooms.

Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today

Also read: Tents test loyalty to tenets

If Ambani, Tendulkar, Shah Rukh aren’t safe…?

2 February 2010

The overcooked chickens of divisive politics are coming home to roost on the streets of Bombay for the cooks, chefs and cleaners who were dishing it out for decades.

As Bal Thackeray‘s Shiv Sena mounts a “Mumbai for Maharashtrians” campaign, as Raj Thackeray says jobs should only be given to those who were born in that State”, urbs prima in Indus is being kickedwhere it hurts by those acting in the name of its sons and daughters, fathers and mothers.

With the Bihar elections around the corner, the “cultural organisation” RSS suddenly wakes up and says its cadres have been instructed to “protect” Hindi-speaking north Indians in Bombay. The RSS’ new sarsangchalak Mohan Bhagwat twirls his moustache to say “language, caste, sub-castes, groups, tribes can be different but all are sons of India”, hoping that nobody notices that he deftly, deviously left “religion” out of his list.

Suddenly, the new BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, whose party has been in bed with the Shiv Sena for nearly two decades, says he will speak to the RSS and make a statement. And then, because the Bihar elections (where the party is in bed with the JD(U)) are around the corner, finds the strength to say “the strength of India’s unity in diversity is achieved only when all identities converge into a larger national identity of Indianness”.

Meanwhile, the Congress whose chief minister Ashok Chavan statement on the domicile status of taxi drivers kicked off the latest round of pathetic parochialism, finds some voice. Home minister P. Chidambaram calls “Mumbai for Maharashtrians” a pernicious theory. Rahul Gandhi declares India is for Indians.

But ponder this:  if the three biggest icons of Indian industry, sport and cinema—Mukesh Ambani, Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan—aren’t safe from the provincial parasites pillaging into the carcass of a once-great cosmopolis, can a poor pani puri seller from Patna (or Chennapatna) be?

Cartoons: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today and E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Free to work anywhere?

Is the Indian Republic, at 60, crumbling?

Even four pairs of hands can’t stave off the flak

9 January 2010

The new BJP president Nitin Gadkari apparently has a penchant for using tapori idiom like chatoogiri (sycophancy). Clearly, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa didn’t catch Gadkari saying so when he met him two days ago or he hasn’t seen Lage Raho Munnabhai—or both.

At a Rotary photo-op where Yediyurappa, 66, administered polio drops in Bangalore on Saturday—let’s count one, two, three—yes, three people reverentially helped him get his arms into a jacket,  and a fourth helpfully held a cap for him. As always, of course, the BJP leader presented an interesting ‘angle’ for photographers.

Surely, JDS headman H.D. Deve Gowda didn’t have this in mind when he said Yediyurappa was “unfit” to remain in the chief minister’s post a week ago. Then, of course, members of the Congress family….

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Umbrellas, shoes, our democracy and theirs


The B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

Is it an idol? Is it a statue? Is it a mannequin?

One leg in the chair, two eyes on the chair

Yedi, steady, go: all the gods must be crazy

Kissa Karnataka chief minister’s kursi ka: Part IV

Why did the chief minister cross the road divider?

Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down

Dressed to thrill: Yedi-Chini bhai bhai in Shanghai

Survival of fittest is a great photo opportunity

Drought relief one day, flood relief the next

How a chief minister should drink tea. (Or not.)

Let the rebels know, the CM will not bow one inch

CHURUMURI POLL: Can Sushma save the BJP?

18 December 2009

Six months after leading his party to its most spectacular crash yet, “the man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred“, Lalchand Kishinchand Advani, has bid adieu to the post of leader of opposition.

On the face of it, the “former future prime minister of India” has been elevated to the newly created position of chairman of the BJP’s parliamentary party. In reality, well, in reality the Nagpur-based “cultural” organisation RSS is calling the shots. So Sushma Swaraj in place of Advani; Nitin Gadkari in place of Rajnath Singh.

Questions: Will Gadkari and Swaraj be able to haul the BJP out of the coals? Are these relatively younger personnel the “generation next” that BJP supporters are waiting for? Will they be able to inspire their colleagues? Or, will the BJP which has seen enough trouble in recent months see more of it?

Also read‘The only person to blame for BJP defeat is L.K. Advani

BJP defeat is a defeat of BJP brand of journalism

‘Fitting finale of five years of foolish opposition’

The Great Debator won’t take quetions, thanks

A lifetime achievement award for L.K. Advani?

‘Advani offers nothing creative, only resentment’

Let there be no doubt: tail doesn’t wag the dog

16 November 2009


Does a “cultural” organisation like the RSS interfere in the affairs of a political outfit like the BJP?

As Nitin Gadkari, an unknown Maharashtrian of unknown leadership skills, prepares to ascend the gaddi, because of his geographical proximity to Nagpur and because the RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat has decreed the next BJP chief will come from outside Delhi, is the question any longer moot?

Cartoon: courtesy Surendra/ The Hindu

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

A picture for the personal albums of the sangh

‘The only out for the BJP now is to split’