Posts Tagged ‘Vallabhbhai Patel’

CHURUMURI POLL: Should RSS be banned again?

8 February 2014

The release of audio tapes and transcripts of four interviews conducted by a journalist of the monthly magazine, The Caravan, which show the terror-attack accused Swami Aseemanand in conversation with the RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat in 2005, virtually implicating him in targetting civilians, once again show the twice-banned “national voluntary organisation” in disgraceful light.

“In the last two interviews, Aseemanand repeated that his terrorist acts were sanctioned by the highest levels of the RSS—all the way up to Mohan Bhagwat, the current RSS chief, who was the organisation’s general secretary at the time,” reads a press release. “It is very important that it be done. But you should not link it to the Sangh.”

While BJP and RSS spokespersons have questioned the veracity of the tapes and the ethicality of the journalist managing to enter the jail where Assemanand is lodged to record the interviews, they do not detract from the elephant in the room: the alleged involvement of RSS functionaries in attacks of terrorism, raising the spectre of “Saffron Terror” with the intent of political mobilisation.

For some the tapes will only confirm their worst fears: that the RSS, which was banned (by then home minister Vallabhbhai Patel, no less) after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 and the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992, is upto no good. That such an organisation should be playing a quite conspicuous role in shaping the future and fortunes of BJP in circa 2014 will please them even less.

Many others, though, will suspect the timing of the release of the tapes on the eve of a general election, and the rather candid admissions of a terror-accused who over the last three years seems to have somehow forgot to spill the beans to his custodians in jail and interrogators in court.

Obviously, the charges are still a long way from being proved. But if they are, on the strength of mounting evidence—Colonel Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh, Indresh Kumar—should the RSS be banned a third time? And if Narendra Modi, whose installation as the BJP’s  “prime ministerial candidate” was one of the RSS’s biggest successes last year, does end up becoming PM, will his government have the guts or the objectivity to take such a tough call?

Also read: Should the RSS be banned—part I?

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

How Karnataka is becoming Gujarat of South

Congrats, your taxes have helped buy 265 ads

31 October 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: After the advertising blitzkrieg to mark Rajiv Gandhi‘s birth and death anniversaries, and the death anniversary of his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru earlier this year, Union ministries and Congress-led State governments and departments have once again splurged heavily to mark Indira Gandhi‘s death anniversary today.

In the 12 newspapers surveyed, there are 64 advertisements of various sizes, amounting to approximately 31½ published pages to mark the assassination of the former prime minister on this day, 27 years ago.

In contrast, Vallabhbhai Patel, the late Union home minister, whose birth anniverary too falls on October 31, gets 9 advertisements in the same 12 newspapers, amounting to 3 published pages. While there are multiple advertisements for Indira Gandhi, no paper has more than one ad for Patel.

The breakup of the Indira Gandhi ads are as under:

Hindustan Times: 22-page main issue; 9 Indira Gandhi ads amounting to 4¼ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 30-page issue; 13 ads amounting to 6¼ broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 22-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 4 broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 2¾ compact pages

The Hindu: 24-page issue; 8 ads amounting to 4 broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 3¼ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page issue; 4 ads amounting to 2 broadsheet pages

The Telegraph: 22-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2½ broadsheet pages


The Economic Times: 26-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ pages

Business Standard: 14-page issue; 2 ads amouning to 1 page

Financial Express: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to half a page

Mint (Berliner): 24-page issue; 0 ads

This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.

Among the 13 advertisers wishing the dear departed leader are the ministries of information and broadcasting, commerce and industry, steel, women and child development, health and family welfare, human resources development, development of north east region, and social justice and empowerment.

The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. Besides, most newspapers carry an advertisement inserted by the Congress party.

All told, so far, this year, tax payers money have been spent in buying 265 advertisements amounting to 132 published pages in the 12 newspapers.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi death anniversary: 69 ads over 41 pages in 12 newspapers

Jawaharlal Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv Gandhi birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Narayana Murthy and the Netaji Bose fixation

25 January 2011

PRITHVI DATTA CHANDRA SHOBHI writes: Cutting across all ideological colours, many of us seem to enjoy playing an occasional game of counterfactual fantasy.

It’s called, “If only we had the right leader!

Socialists, for example, like to fantasise on how India would have turned out had Jayaprakash Narayan been Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s choice, first to assist him in creating a new India and thereafter to succeed him as the undisputed leader of India.

What inspires such fantasising is not only JP’s impeccable moral core but also his leadership for nearly two decades of the socialist faction within the Indian National Congress, which enabled him to build a stronger left-centre alliance by bringing in stalwarts such as Ram Manohar Lohia and Acharya Narendra Dev into a governing coalition.

Admittedly, JP, Lohia and Narendra Dev were Nehru’s ideological cohorts rather than any of his cabinet colleagues. At the heart of this fantasy is also the fondest hope that such a move would have eliminated the need for Indira Gandhi to have entered into politics.

Many to the right of the socialists fantasise how India could have overcome many of our security and development related issues, if only Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had led India instead of Nehru after India attained independence in 1947.

To these, Subhash Chandra Bose would have been even better.

I am a professional student of history and yet, many a times, I do not understand this never-ending ‘man-crush’ on Subhash Chandra Bose.

On Sunday, Bose’s 114th birthday, our beloved Infosys chief mentor, N.R. Narayana Murthy, delivering the annual Netaji oration “If only Netaji had participated in post-independence nation building” in Calcutta, suggested that Netaji Bose could have taken ‘India past China’.

The Economic Times quotes Murthy as saying the following:

# “I believe India would have been a powerful exporter much before China if only Netaji had a frontseat in our policy making along with (Jawaharlal) Nehru… India would have seized the opportunity the world offered and would have become the second most powerful economy in the world…

# “Netaji was one of the most courageous leaders in India. Netaji was a real bold Indian leader who could have stood up to anyone… courage is one attribute which is more important in leadership than any other quality…

# “India would have embraced modern methods of scientific agriculture and made us food surplus year on year. India would have embraced industrialisation better and become more export oriented than relying on import substitution which has led to all kinds of problems.”

# “He would have continued and perhaps would have accelerated our efforts to control population through fair and transparent method.”

There’s no denying that the muscular, aggressive centre-right nationalism of Netaji Bose will always be appealing to some. Bose also famously differed with Gandhi throughout the 1930s, and that too makes him an attractive character for the Gandhi–haters amongst us.

His prison break, and the subsequent travels all over the world in search of allies and arms to fight against British imperialism is an absolutely romantic story, although one could say there is nothing romantic about joining hands with Nazis and Fascists, even if it is to liberate one’s homeland.

Still, I don’t get the love for Bose.

Narayana Murthy seems to believe that the courage displayed by Netaji Bose is an indicator of leadership qualities, and more importantly, the kind of public policy he would have advocated.

How could we surmise, as Murthy does, that had Netaji been part of the post-independent leadership, India would have benefited “in areas like economic progress, population control and adopting modern agricultural methods”?

Here is the danger in the kind of lazy thinking Murthy seems to be indulging in: that we reduce all the great problems faced by humanity—be it poverty and hunger, sickness and general well being, inequality and oppression—to the absence of the right kind of leadership.

Our corporate titans, in India and in the west, are often guilty of exaggerating the role of leadership. All that is required is the right, aggressive, problem-solving leader and humanity would be better off!

Our politicians too seek to cash in on the Netaji. Karnataka’s beleaguered chief minister, B.S.Yediyurappa found time to promise a one crore rupee grant so that a book on the Netaji could be written and distributed to the school children of Karnataka.

Now, this is something which the historian in me finds worthy of backing. Only if I were to get the contract to write and publish the book. And why not? I am a credentialed historian and very, very eager to serve my State.

Photograph: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on the cover of Time magazine in 1938

Also read: Narayana Murthy to revive Swatantra Party?

CHURUMURI POLL: Is it all over for socialism?

The sad truth is Netaji Bose would be 109 years old today

More demcoratic India gets, less the Congress does

‘J’ Virus is just biological warfare to weaken BJP’

28 August 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I met the Ace Political Expert (APE) after a long time.

He was taking his morning walk in Cheluvamba Park. When we settled on one of the reclining benches, he took out a flask and offered me a health drink—a kind of kashaya—which was a concotion of vegetables and roots crushed and beaten to death in his 5-speed mixer.

APE had been missing in his daily rounds for quite sometime. He told me he had been to the Institute of Virology in Poona for a short-term course on ‘Flus and communicable diseases. I quietly moved to the edge of the bench when I heard he had just come back from Poona.

I wanted to know from APE why BJP was hell bent on self-destruction.

“We have to go back a while to understand why this is happening. All this started when Advaniji went to Pakistan and praised Mohammed Ali Jinnah,” started off APE.

“What was wrong with that?”

“You don’t get it, do you, Ramu? That was the first time the Jinnah Bug bit a Hindu politician, that too a staunch BJPite. The fever wouldn’t die down try as he did. I thought he would not survive the deadly virus but he did except it left him with a bit of selective amnesia!”

“What has happened now?” I asked.

“A replapse. The same virus with a different strain ‘Jinnah II’ has come back to haunt, afflict, maim and kill politicians of his party. This may be Pakistan’s biological attack to weaken India.”

This was alarming.

“What are you implying?”

“Look. Jaswant Singh was a popular no-nonsense leader, his booming voice striking terror amongst friends if not among foes as Kandahar showed. The Jinnah Virus made his hands itchy to write a book which was enough for the deadly virus to suck his blood out. Before we could say ‘Jaswant-Hostages-Kandahar’ he was down and out.  It is an extreme form of ‘J Flu’; it killed him politically but gave him lot of wealth; he is still laughing all the way to his bank with his raucous laughter.”

“Who else are the likely victims?”

“Well, there’s Arun Jaitley, M.M. Joshi and Rajnath Singh himself. All names, mind you, with ‘J’ in them. Look, even Vasundhara Raje was not spared.”

I was really surprised the way APE was combining his new found knowledge on viruses and flus to analyse the BJP travails.

“Is there any hope left for the BJP,” I asked.

“There is no BJP as you and I knew. BJP is now “Bharatiya Jinnah Party” and that is why we can say it is on a suicide mission!”

“What else can Pakistan do?”

He dragged me close to him, looked around and whispered in my ears.

“Pakistan is likely to release a ‘Godse Virus’ soon. Hands of all patients struck with ‘G Virus’ will start itching and they will start praising Godse in their books and talk shows and run down leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose and Vallabhbhai Patel. Then it is a matter of time before they are expelled from the Congress party. The Godse Virus like the Jinnah Virus will pick names that have a ‘G’ like Ghulam Nabhi Azad, M.S. Gill, M.K. Azhagiri, Mallikarjuna Kharge et al. I feel even Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi will be vulnerable to this attack.”

My cup of juice was empty but my knowledge on political viruses was full. When I reached home, not only did I wash my hands, I had a bath in Dettol soap as well to drive away the APE virus.

CHURUMURI POLL: Ban Jaswant Singh book?

20 August 2009

B.S. NAGARAJ writes from New Delhi: That Gujarat chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi should have moved so swiftly to ban Jaswant Singh‘s book on Jinnah is not surprising. After all, how can the chhote sardar countenance any “highly defamatory” references, as perceived by him, to the original Sardar (Patel)?

But if reports are to be believed, all the BJP-ruled States, too, are considering a similar ban. And that would include Karnataka whose chief minsiter holds Modi in great esteem. B.S. Yediyurappa has time and again heaped praise on Narendra Modi and his model of development and style of governance.

In any case, can Yediyurappa afford not to ban the book at a time when the BJP leadership has cracked the whip, and when everybody in the party is quickly trying to be seen as toeing the line? Or, should he stand up and say no, making a case for free speech and expression?

God’s Own Party kinda re-enters the 20th century

18 August 2009


Just what former defence and finance minister Jaswant Singh is seeking to achieve with his book Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence is a bit unclear.

Is he cocking a snook at the saffron brotherhood which didn’t look kindly at L.K. Advani‘s previous attempt to give Jinnah a good name? Is he trying to demonise Jawaharlal Nehru? Is he taking a shot at Vallabhbhai Patel? Is he tilting at the windmills of history?

Is he just trying to sell a few extra copies? Or is he just being fair?

Whatever be the motivation, Singh’s book has put the BJP, facing its biggest existential crisis, in a quandary.

BJP leaders stayed away from the book’s launch, its spokesman have had to explain that Singh’s stand does not reflect the party’s position, that the BJP’s  position on Jinnah remains the same, and that Sardar Patel remains the great unifier.

Jaswant Singh spoke to Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN‘s show Devil’s Advocate:

Karan Thapar: In your assessment as Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s biographer, for most if not the predominant part of his life, Jinnah was a nationalist…

Jaswant Singh: Oh, yes. He fought the British for an independent India but he also fought resolutely and relentlessly for the interest of the Muslims of India.

Thapar: Many people believe that Jinnah hated Hindus and that he was a Hindu basher.

Singh: Wrong. Totally wrong. That certainly he was not. His principal disagreement was with the Congress. Repeatedly he says and he says this even in his last statements to the Press and to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.

Thapar: So his problem was with Congress and with some Congress leaders but he had no problem with Hindus?

Singh: No, he had no problems whatsoever with the Hindus. Because he was not in that sense, until in the later part of his years, he became exactly what he charged Mahatma Gandhi with. He had charged Mahatma Gandhi of being a demagogue.

Read the full text: ‘Congress majoritarianism left no room for Jinnah’

Read the Time magazine story of 1946: Long shadow

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ Indian Express

If you want to go back, go all the way back

25 January 2008

The Bharat Ratna debate continues to simmer in the television studios. On CNBC, Karan Thapar pointed out how 30 of our 40 State-registered jewels have been politicians, and how some got it long after they had left their imprint on this wondrous land: Vallabhbhai Patel got it 41 years after his demise; Gopinath Bordoloi 49 years later.

At which point, the sociologist Ashis Nandy chipped in and delivered a bon mot:

“Why not just give it to Gautama Buddha this year and end all this debate.”