Posts Tagged ‘SP’

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?

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

There is only so much Google ads can achieve

10 April 2009

Every single opinion poll so far has refrained from even venturing to suggest that either of the two “national” parties may touch the “magical” 150-mark on their own. But The Times of India‘s latest guesstimate, done the old fashioned way, bravely predicts the Congress may actually do so.

The UPA sans Lalu Prasad Yadav‘s RJD, Mulayam Singh Yadav‘s SP and Ram Vilas Paswan‘s LJP is expected end up just short of 200, the NDA minus Naveen Patnaik‘s BJD with 176. The Third Front, says the paper will get 109, and others and independents 60.

Graphic: courtesy The Times of India

24 *asterisks* on the long, tortuous road to 272

5 April 2009

deccanchronicleBoth the UPA and the NDA have seen parties exiting their ranks. The Third Front seems to be chugging along nicely, and smaller micro-alliances have cropped up. Yet, Congress man turned BJP man, Arun Nehru remains unrelenting in his belief that the Congress-led alliance will end up ahead of the BJP-led one.

In his latest back-of-the-envelope calculations published in Deccan Chronicle, Nehru says the Congress will get 150 seats on its own and the UPA in its present form will get about 225, while the BJP will end up with 132 and the NDA with 181, a margin of 44.

“The Left is still relevant even if their numbers drop from 65 seats to 33 seats, but they will get totally isolated if they obstruct regional forces from negotiating with either the Congress or the BJP. In this context, the Samajwadi Party general secretary, Amar Singh, may well be a major player as he understands politics better than others. The joining together of the SP, RJD and LJP should give a suitable signal to both the Congress and the BJP that their options are limited in the future.”

Graphic: courtesy Deccan Chronicle

Read the full article: Spoilt for choice

Arun Nehru: part I, part II, part III, part IV

Of course, predictions have gone wrong before

25 March 2009

Before the Congress ran into trouble with RJD and SP, after the BJP broke off with the BJD, on the eve of the PMK deserting the UPA, and as TRS runs into trouble with the TDP, a Reuters news agency poll of 14 analysts of various backgrounds, incuding Universities, pollsters, banks.

Twelve of the 14 analysts say Manmohan Singh will become prime minister for a second time.

(The weekly poll was conducted last Monday and Tuesday. The poll does not aim to be scientific but is intended to give readers a snapshot of how some of the leading India analysts are thinking.)

Also read: It’s a free world. You can believe any number.

Arun Nehru: part I, part II, part III, part IV

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.

CHURUMURI POLL: Who will you vote for?

27 November 2008

The latest terror attack on Bombay has the potential to alter the political landscape of the country, which may perhaps be one of the objectives of the perpetrators. While we must grieve those who have fallen prey, and salute those who have stood up to protect, an attack of this scale and spectacle usually has voters sizing up the performance of parties and politicians, of the government and the opposition, in their minds.

So, if the Lok Sabha election were to be held tomorrow, who would you vote for?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Should Shivaraj Patil resign?

10 questions written in rage for Shivaraj Patil

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.

Is an MP’s loyalty only worth Rs 25 crore in 2008?

16 July 2008

The grisly sight of law-makers being bought out like horses to shore up governments is an old story, as anyone acquainted with the Veerappa Moily tapes from the early 1980s will vouch. But it seems to be fast becoming a national epidemic; a legitimate, almost acceptable, way of saving the government of the day.

In Karnataka, if MLAs are being purchased like insurance policies to help the BJP government of B.S. Yediyurappa on a rainy day; in Delhi, MPs are being rounded up to help the Congress-led government of Manmohan Singh in his hour of need next Tuesday.

Everyone, it seems, is naked in the augean stable of Indian politics.

The CPI’s AB Baby, Ardhendu Bhushan Bardhan, told a public meeting on Monday that the going rate for MPs was around Rs 25 crore to help save the UPA government during the number count. This was, of course, denied with due self-righteousness by Congress media mavens like Jayanti Natarajan and Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

And, as if on auto cue, Amar Singh produced a mandatory slip of paper for the cameras to claim that Mayawati was buying up MPs for Rs 30 crore to achieve the opposite: to bring down the UPA government.

Either way, though, buying and selling is happening.

Mail Today, the tabloid newspaper owned by the India Today group, has a story in today’s issue in which two SP MPs, Akshay Pratap Singh from Pratapgarh (”They asked me to take Rs 25 crore and stand by the Opposition or face the consequences”) and Munawar Hasan from Muzaffarnagar (”Men carrying suitcases were knocking at my [Delhi residence] door”), confirm the worst fears of Bardhan.

Munawar Hasan, a rebel SP MP who has decided to vote against the UPA government, in what looks like a telephone conversation, tells the paper:

What you told me last night has been confirmed by A.B. Bardhan. He is also talking about Rs 20 crore to Rs 25 crore being exchanged. Have they fixed an amount?

Yes, they must have decided to fix a rate.

Who are these people?

Those who want to save the government. Who else? You think about it yourself, who else would try to save the government?

I want to know who this man was who had met you and what did he tell you?

He said he was a chartered accountant of a company. He said he worked for big companies and his name was Rupesh Kumar. He said he could make all arrangements.

What amount did he quote?

Whatever I told you.

Rs 20 crore to Rs 25 crore?


What did he look like?

He was good looking, tall and handsome, looked like a big manager of some company.

What did he say?

He said there was no problem. He said he could do it and asked me to trust him.

What could he do?

He could make the money possible.

By itself, the transcript does little to confirm the rumour. But it throws up some questions: Like, is an MP’s loyalty only worth Rs 25 crore when MLAs seem to be extracting a lot more from their suitors in the States? Or is the Left out of touch with reality in their estimation of MPs’ worth too?

Is Rs 25 crore just for casting the vote on D-day or for continued loyalty during the remainder of the UPA regime? Will a party or its moneybags make the mistake of giving cash after the JMM episode singed P.V. Narasimha Rao? Or are the Samajwadi MPs indulging in a bit of bluster to increase their bhaav?

There is an additional bit of irony in all this.

The Indo-US nuclear deal may be the best thing since sliced bread. And Manmohan Singh may be intregrity personified.

But the fact that to save both, criminals have had to be hauled out of jails, criminals have to be promised cabinet portfolios, the sick and ailing have to be brought in on stretchers, that truant film stars have to be dragged away from overseas locations kicking and screaming, and that lawmakers have to be purchased like this, tells its own story.

Or is everything par for the course when it comes to cause and country?

This piece also appears on

Will bark turn to bite on evening of reckoning?

25 June 2008