Page 1


VOL 4 < ISSUE 3 < MAY, 2014

INSIDE Uttar Pradesh :

SHREE MAA PRAKASHAN PVT. LTD.

17

Show ground reality to dream merchants

Special Story :

26

Will Modi be the Hitler of India? Group Editor M.K. Tiwari

Executive Editor Dr. Bhagya Rajeshwari Ratna Assistant Editor Anjalika Rajlakshmi

BJP’s nuclear posturing!

Kaun Banega PM?

Campus Editor Adithi Sonali

6

Madhya Pradesh :

Punjab :

Will Bihar lose its secular mainstay?

Regional Editor M.P.

Gujarat :

Aaditya Tewari

Rajasthan : Two faces of Nehru-Gandhi legacy

9

Regional Office Incharge Tamanna Faridi U.P.: B-120 / 121, 1st Floor, Prince Complex, Hazratganj, Lucknow-226001 Ph.: 0522-4003911 E-mail: lokayatlucknow@gmail.com

West Bengal :

Uttarakhand :

47 49

Can Harish Rawat turn the tide?

North-East :

50

Congress hopeful in North-East

Mother of all political battles

14

53

Kerala : An unusually tame affair

Andhra Pradesh :

Sub Office Ram Bhawan, Manohar Cinema Parisar, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh Ph.: 07752-428835 E-mail: lokayat_bsp@yahoo.com

Subscription: For 3 year : Rs. 1,500.00 For 5 years : Rs. 2,500.00 For 10 years : Rs. 5,000.00 (Inclusive of postal charges)

44

Will Raje repeat miracle of 2013 ?

BJP-CPM-Congress are hand-in-glove

M.P. : Paraspar Colony, Chunabhatti, Kolar Road, Bhopal-462003 Ph.: 0755-4030162 E-mail : lokayat01@gmail.com

Head Office 193, Pkt-D, Mayur Vihar Phase-II, Delhi-110091 Ph.: 011-22723900, 32550442, 43062417, 43082859 Fax No.: 011-22723906 E-mail: lokayat01@gmail.com

43

Double whammy for Modi

Regional Editor C.G. Gopal Thawait

C.G. : Thawait Bhawan, Kankali Talab, Main Road, Raipur Ph.: 0771-4221188 E-mail: lokayat_rpr@yahoo.com

38 40

Bihar :

Special Correspondent A.K. Chaturvedi

Senior Graphic Designer Ashi Sinha

30

Sabotage fear haunts BJP, Congress

AAP makes Punjab results uncertain

Cine Editor Meera Singh

Website:

28

World :

Editor Vinod Varshney

56

Question of survival for Congress

Karnataka :

58

Hopes high on high turnout

Tamilnadu :

60

Parties flout election code

Hereditary politics, a rampant phenomenon

21

Chhattisgarh :

62

Dr Raman’s prestige at stake

REGULARS < 05 WITH CANDOUR

< 71 SPORT

< 63 CAMPUS

< 73 HEALTH IS WEALTH

< 67 FILMWORLD

< 75 BOOK

< 77 NEW TECHNOLOGY

lokayat.co.in

Published, printed, edited & owned by M.K. Tiwari Published from 193, Pocket-D, Mayur Vihar Phase-II, Delhi-91 Printed at Vrindaban Graphic, E-34, Sector-7, Noida (U.P.)


LETTERS the country is split and a part was taken over by the neighbouring Russia. I think it is the mobocracy which initially created the problem. This should be a lesson to those countries where democracy has yet not matured enough and are still experimenting with this method of reconciliation between conflicting opinions through democratic means. Dr Suresh Paliwal, Delhi

OUTCOME IN BIHAR WOULD BE MOST INTERESTING AN EXCELLENT ISSUE Once again, it is an excellently brought out issue. I must admit though I am confused how the survey team of Lokayat arrived at 9 seats for JDS /others in Karnataka under the 'Special story’ category. Even the JDS will be pleasantly surprised to see that figure. In fact, it will be happy if it gets two seats—that of Gowda and his son, Kumaraswamy. The party itself admits to that. The main story by Chandrakant Naidu, makes very interesting reading. Cheers! Uma Sharma, Bangalore

EUROPE’S BORDER REDRAWN AGAIN The story on Ukraine by M R Dua is full of insight. It has analysed well the happening. Whatever happened in Ukraine however saddens me. It proves that on national issues, no intervention of any foreign power should be encouraged by any political group. This, to my mind, was the biggest reason behind the trouble Ukraine has faced. And there should be more tolerance towards others’ point of view. If this does not happen then the entire democratic edifice crumbles. It is really sad to see that

4

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

The outcome of electoral battle in Bihar would be most interesting. But I fail to understand one issue. It is Bihar where a lot of development has taken place under the government of Nitish Kumar during last 9-10 years. This is yet another matter that only Gujarat model of development is talked about by TV channels. In the entire electoral discourse taking place these days, the issue of good development in Bihar has been sidelined. This is bewildering. Not a very long ago, people of Bihar had suffered immensely due to neglect of development during Lalu’s rule but the political story in your magazine says that Lalu is on the rise and he may also win good number of seats. If this happens then it would mean people do not care for good governance and development. Jageshwar Upadhyaya, Patna

has taken over the country, thanks to firstly the BJP and later the Congress, the problem for people have only increased despite high claims of high growth rates. When CPM tries to raise these issues, it is ignored. The conduct of RSP in Kerala is highly condemnable. It is stab in the back of the left unity, which alone can ensure democratic stability in the country. S. Madhukumar, Delhi

BJP MAY NOT REPEAT THE 2013 PERFORMANCE IN CHHATTISGARH The report on Chhattisgarh gives a fairly good idea of what might be happening at the ground level in this state. The elections have taken place and by all accounts it is really difficult to assess who has gone ahead. But my gut feeling is the BJP despite Modi wave would not be able to repeat the performance of 2013 assembly elections. Dr Raman Singh may be popular, but Congress still has a lot of attraction so far as making a government at the Centre is concerned. The Manmohan Singh government has only failed to give good economic growth only during the last two years. People should think in terms of his overall period, entire ten years. And the good thing is Congress has a lot of talented leaders who can be relied upon. Dinesh Shukla, Raipur

CPM’S LAST GAMBLE? I do not agree with the writer of this story in Lokayat (April, 2014 issue). The CPM is going to show good performance in these elections in Kerala, no matter what organisational feud it may have. The party still has wide following and people don’t want it not to fade away. Why it should? It is playing good role in state politics. Moreover it has given strength to the secular polity of the country. In fact since the new economy

tters at E-mail your le ail.com, gm lokayat01@ y@hotmail.com vinodvarshne


WITH CANDOUR

RAPE-INDULGENT MIND OF A KUTIL YOGI ! ow can a person’s mind, teaching Yoga day-afterday to millions of people, be so puerile and pervert! Looks like that practicing Anulom-Vilom day in day out, his venous desires frolicked searching a political role. The result was exactly what it should have been for a person

H

living with such proclivities. He used to organise jumbo camps for yoga, but soon he was found peddling it for political gain. Even while glamorizing Gurukul education in such camps with his characteristic twitching of facial muscles and diarrheal speech, the saffron clad Baba levitated himself in the sky of political ambitions. But his utterances exposed that he has no link even remotely with the rich Hindu tradition, culture and enlightenment. How can a person coming from Gurukul tradition use such a filthy language? How can a person claiming association with saints become a Ramdev? What role such a person can have in politics? Ramdev in fact had developed ambition to exact political clout six years ago travelling across the country on a Yoga mission. Establishing Bharat Swabhiman Manch and expanding its branches in all the states, he was able to impress intellectuals too—but this made his conduct funnier, even as he started dreaming like Mungeri Lal, with fluttering eyelids ditto him. After some months’ association with Anna’s anti-corruption movement, he launched his own ‘bring- black-money-back’ movement to create political space for himself. Tagging himself with Anna-Kejriwal turned his vivid dreams into nightmares, so he thought it prudent to board on to the bandwagon of Narendra Modi and make hay while the sun shined. And with this began his damning tirades against the Congress and got adequately rewarded with BJP tickets to several of his protégés. Ramdev, who cries hoarse about the black money stashed abroad, has no objection about its use in the country and among his own coterie. This shows his hypocrisy. To use Hindi idiom, he possesses two styles of teeth--one to show and the other to eat. To appease and amuse the BJP, he keeps on intermittently attacking Sonia, Rahul and Robert Vadra. As is his wont, he tries to score over others in the game of hurling accusations. The voters, however, won’t subscribe to his logic that Ramdev’s ill acquired wealth is any different from the black money stashed away in foreign banks. His comments about the Nehru-Gandhi family demonstrate his own frustration. The socalled yoga Guru didn’t hesitate inflicting cyanide-tipped slings and arrows to blast Rahul’s character. He even spewed charges of rape as if he had witnessed it sitting inside the said Dalit’s tenement. Unmindful of consequences, the so-called Baba blurted out that Rahul Gandhi goes to Dalit homes 'for honeymoon and picnic'. Perhaps he thinks such vulgar allegations can catapult him to the top of the political world. Or by such utterances, he was only indulging in self-gratification. Beware! Such indulgences may finally transform you into an actual perpetrator. Seeing all this, it would be proper to rechristen him as Kutil Yogi. Ramdev has given a bad example of what kind of alumnus Gurukul system can produce. The one outcome of this could be that parents would think twice before they would send their children to Gurukul as it can vitiate their minds by their education just as it did to Ramdev. Know a little bit of history. Two decades ago he was a tenant in a Vaidyaraj’s house at Jwalapur Road, Kankhal looking for a cup of tea for free, now holds assets worth ten thousand crore rupees. Is it an act of Yogi?<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

5


COVER STORY

KAUN BANEGA PM? THE DIRTIEST EVER ELECTION

The whole of India, nay, the whole world is waiting impatiently for the result of the just ended general elections. They are eager to know who will be at the helm of affairs of this vast country for the next five years, what policies and programmes will prevail hereafter, and whether the incoming coterie has the capacity to cope with the challenges the country faces. The outsiders’ anxiety is palpable because on account of the sheer size of its economy, immense business potential and working population, developments in India impact global affairs intimately. The new team will, therefore, have a formidable job to do immediately….

By Anjalika Rajlakshmi

ith only a week left for the Lok Sabha election-results to be out and more and more people surmising that pre-poll surveys might turn out to be wide off the mark as in 2004 and 2009, question as to who

W

6

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

might be the next PM is churning all politically sensitive minds. Shinde thinks Rahul Gandhi will be the next PM. Left sources say if third front gets the chance Mulayam will be in the high seat. Some prefer Mayawati to form the government. Many feel the AIDMK may emerge as the third largest party and Jayalalithaa may be seconded to the post by ‘third front’ if

at all it takes shape. Some include Mamata Banerjee also among the probables. Many believe Narendra Modi stands a good chance of winning the plum job, though they feel nightmarish about such a development. If there are differing opinions on these personalities, analysts say, Naveen Patnaik may emerge as the dark horse.


COVER STORY No wonder nobody can be sure. It was probably the hottest fought election so far, and it was also the dirtiest and costliest ever. While the balance sheet will take a little more time, it will be interesting to see the effect—of an unprecedented campaign fuelled by a blitzkrieg of advertisements, hundreds of massive rallies and incessant trading of obnoxious utterances—on the final result. For sure, no party had time or inclination for serious discussions about the genuine needs of their constituency. It was as if the electorate had no stake in the elections! Hopefully frustration of citizens about aberrant policies and performances of the government as also of the parties will reflect in the result. Only the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party raised problems relevant to common people— education, healthcare, employment, food prices, the pervasive corruption etc, with any seriousness. In fact the AAP made a big difference, for the first time, to election campaign without money and muscle power. Other parties just indulged in mudslinging as usual, presumably for public consumption.

Curse of money & muscle power The 2014 elections showed beyond any shadow of doubt that our political system is in the grip of black money, muscle power and liquor. The parties used them without any limit or hindrance, the Code of Conduct notwithstanding. The enormous amount of money netted by the authorities in this connection is crying proof. Apart from the above cancers another curse also vitiated the election this time: the parties used communal

Modi model of development he BJP launched a massive advertisement blitzkrieg in the last phase of electioneering which drew sharp criticism. Union minister for commerce and industry Anand Sharma accused the party of spending something between Rs 10,000-15,000 crore on full page advertisements in major newspapers, for buying airtime in more than 500 TV channels besides putting up huge hoardings across the country. He asked where the amount came from if it is not black money. Anand Sharma and Rahul Gandhi punctured the propaganda balloon of the BJP that Modi could ensure better and speedy development of the country. They asked why then was Gujarat backward: 17th in India in the field of education, and in curbing malnutrition it was in the last rung. It had also the highest school dropout rate. In debt Gujarat was third in the country—Rs 170,000 crore. When Modi became chief minister of the state ten years ago, it was only Rs 45,000 crore. Congress leaders say that rather than talk about these problems Modi makes personal attacks on Priyanka’s husband Robert Vadra for achieving very fast growth in business. Rahul Gandhi had earlier accused Modi of doling out land virtually free to Adani group. Modi had given 45,000 acres belonging to poor farmers to the group at Re one per sq metre ‘which is equivalent to the price of a toffee’. Modi had offered very attractive terms to the Tatas also—loan at one per cent for 20 years. But then why make farmers pay 12 per cent interest, they ask. It may be recalled that the Adani case was first raised by Arvind Kejriwal. Ahmed Patel, Congress general secretary called for investigation into the whole land deal. Anand Sharma also raked up a CAG report which had pointed out that Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation scam involved a loss of $250 million to the state exchequer. The Congress also raised the issue of Modi’s wife who was not mentioned in documents pertaining to four assembly elections that he fought in 2001, 2002, 2007 and 2012, as required under law. The BJP on its part went a step further and distributed two booklets— ‘Rahul Ki Ravanleela’ and ‘Sonia Ki Barbarta Aur Saazish’—in which objectionable comments have been made about Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka. The booklets published by Sanskruti Rakshak Sangh contain pictures of the three in western attire and give details of Rahul’s property, besides tracing the history of NehruGandhi family right down to Priyanka and Robert Vadra. Priyanka alleged that these ‘dirty’ books with baseless allegations about her family were dumped, the night before, at sites in Amethi where she was to address meetings. <

T

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

7


COVER STORY card and spread the poison far and wide. RSS which used to claim that it was a social and cultural organization, for instance, threw away its mask and actively participated in BJPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s campaign. Departing from tradition the BJP ran its election campaign this time in the name of its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, but in case the

National Democratic Alliance (NDA) does not get the magic figure of 272+, its supporters will wake up to the reality that in the Indian parliamentary system people only elect MPs and not a PM. So they have to quickly agree on a consensual person who can carry all who subscribe to a common minimum programme. It is high time that all parties which entertain many sweet dreams also keep this contingency in mind and prepare a B-plan ready. According to the last Lokayat survey, there may not be a big gap between the numbers the Congress and BJP secure, and if it proves true, it will be fraught with a lot of complex possibilities. If there is a clear majority for either the NDA or the UPA, then the job of president Pranab Mukherjee will be smooth. But if neither reaches the majority mark and if the regional parties collectively get more number of seats than either of the two, then the regional forces will play the king-maker. Mulayam, Jaya, Mamata and Patnaik

8

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

are waiting for such an opportunity for fishing. If there is any traffic jam president will exercise his discretion. The moot question is, in a checkmated situation will the president give first chance to the largest alliance group formed after the elections, or will he invite the leader of the largest single party to try and prove its majority. In the latter scenario Narendra Modi of the BJP may be the first to be invited. For parties which had fought the elections on the plank of stopping the leader who was as divisive and communal as Modi from donning the mantle of the PM, this may pose an irksome challenge. Presidentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s role in check-mated situation It goes without saying that in such a contingency the Congress would have to play a major role. But doubts about this possibility have arisen in the light of the latest categorical statement of Rahul Gandhi that his party would not support a third front to form a

government. Most political analysts believe that president is bound to invite Modi first even if there is no clear majority in favour of the NDA on the premise that he belongs to the largest single party. If he fails to prove his majority in a vote of confidence, as happened with Atal Behari Vajpayee in 1996, chances of Federal Front (or Third Front) would brighten.

Many assume that in the event of the NDA failing to reach the magic number, the BJP may deftly put forward another name, a consensual one, in place of Modi, no matter what the BJP president Rajnath Singh has said. (He had categorically declared that no BJP leader other than Modi would be considered for the PM.) It may be L K Advani or Rajnath Singh himself, in order to attract more parties to the NDA

fold. But money bags are feverish about Modi and hence are likely to work overtime to bring more parties into the NDA. Whoever emerges as PM finally, the person will have an urgent and onerous job cut out for him. The countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economy is in a shambles, industrial growth almost stagnant, food prices ruling high and social indices dismal. Without massive investments in infrastructures no improvement in any of these is feasible. The new PM will have to quickly correct many anomalies and aberrations in the economic and industrial policies to remove impediments to fast growth. The government has to do everything possible to attract FDI in many sectors. There is great urgency to clean up the Augean stable of corruption, accumulated over a decade and more. It is necessary to root out the menace. It is indeed a tall order. But unless they are done to the last detail, our democracy will not survive long. <


SPECIAL STORY

TWO FACES OF

NEHRU-GANDHI LEGACY Both Rahul and Varun belong to the Nehru-Gandhi family, the most influential political house of the country. But the two half-brothers now represent diametrically opposite ideologies and contest this election from neighbouring constituencies in Uttar Pradesh— Rahul from Amethi and Varun from Sultanpur. Both take care not to tread on each other’s toes even as they fight against each other’s ideology. Many think that Varun has been pitted by his mother Maneka Gandhi in Sultanpur to put the two scions in sharp contrast and show who represented the Nehru-Gandhi political legacy better.

By Bhagya Rajeshwari ‘Ratna’

o matter how controversial it has been made to look by strident opposition attacks, the Nehru-Gandhi legacy in politics has contributed immensely to the building of modern India. But soon after Sanjay Gandhi’s death the family and the legacy itself got divided and went their separate ways—one to blaze its own trail but finally to merge in the

N

BJP and the other continuing with determination to hold and preserve the values of the most eminent political family of India. Thus the fifth generation scions of the family, RahulPriyanka and Varun represent two opposing political ideologies today. The opposition’s hostility towards the family assumed more and more raucous tone after Indira Gandhi became the 3rd prime minister of India. She had to face enormous difficulties and criticisms to get initial acceptance even within the Congress. By sheer doggedness she created her political space; by strong, decisive measures including splitting her own party she earned herself a special aura. Whatever be the controversies about her style of

functioning, she acquired the reputation of being a true nationalist and pro-poor politician. Her momentous decisions of ending privy-purse, nationalizing banks, creating Bangladesh and even imposing the unpopular Emergency had the imprint of strong commitment to the nation. Indira Gandhi’s two sons Rajiv and Sanjay had strong political instincts having brought up under her jealous tutelage. Rajiv went to Britain for studies and came back in 1966 to be a pilot rather than join politics. But he was of cool temperament and had an innate capacity to understand social problems, an important asset to succeed in politics. In 1968 he married Sonia (Maino), an Italian girl he used to date

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

9


SPECIAL STORY in London. Not only Rajiv, Sonia too was disinterested in politics. They preferred a quiet family life and were happy with their two children—Rahul and Priyanka. In sharp contrast to Rajiv, Sanjay was impetuous in temperament. His early education was in Doon School, Dehradun. Dreaming of becoming an automobile engineer, he sought apprenticeship with Rolls Royce in England. But his dream to launch a small car project did not succeed. In 1974 he found his soul mate Maneka Anand, a model, and married her. Some cultural incompatibilities surfaced subsequently and Indira Gandhi disapproved many of Maneka’s ways.

Though Varun Gandhi is claiming Nehru-Gandhi legacy for political reasons, it is ironical that he is now opposed to the ‘Idea of India’ his great grand-father Jawahar Lal Nehru and grandmother Indira Gandhi had worked for so assiduously. Biggest crisis and Emergency Indira Gandhi faced the biggest crisis of her life in 1975 when the Allahabad High Court invalidated her election to parliament and barred her from holding any elected office for six years. It made the political environment in the country, already chaotic with workers’ strikes and political agitations, much worse. Rather than resigning as demanded by

10

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

the opposition, Indira Gandhi imposed internal emergency and postponed elections. Mass arrests of opposition leaders and Press censorship created an atmosphere of fear and hatred among

ministers and top officials to do his bidding. To help his mother politically Sanjay issued a five-point programme for national regeneration; this helped to galvanize the Youth Congress and created a special space for Sanjay within the party. An impression spread among people that the son was more powerful than the mother. His five-point programme along with the 20-point programme of Indira Gandhi became the Bible for Congressmen. Though Sanjay became Congress general secretary only in 1980, he was already seen as the political heir of Indira Gandhi. Most political observers believe that if Indira Gandhi could return with a thumping majority and keep the Congress united and strong during the Janata Party government, much of the credit should go to the dynamism of Sanjay Gandhi. Following the death of Sanjay when Maneka was relieved from all political work by Indira Gandhi, she felt alienated and sore—as if Rahul Gandhi & Priyanka Gandhi with Congress president denied the Sonia Gandhi (PTI photo) legacy of her husband. On the other hand Indira Gandhi roped in an unwilling Rajiv to help her in all affairs of the party. Sonia Gandhi, though an Italian, meanwhile people against her government. In such made sincere attempt to adjust to Indian a trying period Sanjay Gandhi became way of life and to learn the culture and her de facto political advisor. Though social values of the country. When Rajiv Sanjay was not an elected leader at that entered politics his temperament and time, he could bend even cabinet attitude were refreshingly honest. His


SPECIAL STORY famous observation that ‘only 10 paise of every rupee spent on development reached the intended beneficiary’ showed his disgust of politics. This attitude made him immensely popular. He contested a by-election in 1981 from the Amethi seat held by Sanjay Gandhi earlier and won by getting 84.18 percent vote. He was made the general secretary of the party subsequently.

Rajiv Gandhi as PM Indira Gandhi was assassinated in October 1984 and the party was in a dilemma for some hours as to who should be given charge of the government. The confusion was resolved quickly and Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as the prime minister. But soon his own colleagues ditched and deserted him. Bofors scandal became a big issue and dented Rajiv’s image of Mr Clean. In 1989 under Rajiv Gandhi the Congress suffered an abject defeat inflicted by the National Front (comprising Janata Dal, DMK, TDP & AGP). The Front, which had an understanding with the BJP and Left Front fought elections on anti-Congress plank but secured only 197 seats. The country saw then two short-term prime ministers in quick succession—VP Singh and Chandrashekhar for 343 and 223 days respectively. The Congress fought the next election under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi, but during campaigning he too was assassinated --on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur, Tamilnadu. This was the third horrible tragedy that struck the Indira Gandhi family in a span of ten years. It fell to the lot of PV Narsimha Rao to don the responsibility of party president. Despite the opposition being united against the Congress Party, it won enough seats and Rao formed the government at the Centre. But the Congress remained weak, many thought, due to lack of any leader from the ‘dynasty’. There came a long period of coalition governments. The first such government under Vajpayee lasted only 13 days. Then a Morcha government with outside support of the Congress was formed by H D Devegowda (324 days) and then another under Inder Kumar Gujral (332 days). Fresh elections took place in 1998. The BJP won 182 seats and the Congress under the leadership of Sitaram Kesari could get only 141. The Congress could have formed a government with the support of other opposition parties to keep the BJP away from power, but the move was advisedly abandoned.

For his hate speech during the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 Varun was arrested by the Mayawati government under the NSA. He stayed behind bars for 20 days before the Supreme Court granted him bail. He won the election with a thumping majority, though the incident ruined the BJP’s chances in many other constituencies. Varun also had to face long isolation in the party till the court acquitted him of the charge of hate speeches. The acquittal became possible because most of the witnesses turned hostile which, according to many people, was unprecedented. One Samajwadi Party MLA was allegedly used in getting witnesses change their versions. Fearing criticism the SP government went on appeal against his acquittal.

Maneka Gandhi and Varun Gandhi

Vajpayee’s coalition experiments Atal Behari Vajpayee formed a government again, but it fell during a confidence vote within 397 days by one vote. Sonia Gandhi took over as party president on 13 March 1998. However, the next elections in 1999 held under the caretaker government of Vajpayee did not improve the situation for the Congress which could win only 114 seats compared to 141 in 1998. As Vajpayee government went on from one crisis to another, Sonia Gandhi took

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

11


SPECIAL STORY time to mend fences and strengthen the party. In 2004 despite a massive ‘India Shining’ campaign the BJP could get only 138 seats whereas the Congress bagged 145. By now the Congress had a re-think on coalition governments. Sonia was invited by president APJ Abdul Kalam to form a government, but

In fact efforts were made from time to time to sideline the family, but every time the legacy-focus gave it an edge. This advantage is evident even now: the party unanimously chose Rajiv Gandhi’s son Rahul as party vicepresident two years ago, and now he is the party’s unofficially acknowledged

NEHRU-GANDHI DYNASTY 1st Generation: Motilal Nehru

2nd Generation: Jawaharlal Nehru

3rd Generation: Indira Gandhi

4th Generation: Rajiv Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi

5th Generation: Rahul Gandhi, Varun Gandhi amidst the controversy of her being foreign in origin, she herself withdrew and nominated Manmohan Singh for the top job. In the 2009 elections the Congress improved its tally to 206. Thus after Rajiv Gandhi none from the Nehru-Gandhi family became PM, but the general feeling is that it continues to keep its hold on power through Sonia Gandhi who is the chairperson of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance). One can say that during the 67-year history of independent India, the Nehru-Gandhi family ruled for 37 years and 303 days.

12

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

prime ministerial candidate. Party insiders say Rahul was for long kept away from the humdrum of politics deliberately, fearful of the fact that it took the lives of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv and Sanjay (the air accident is suspected to be the result of some political conspiracy) in the course of a decade. But the urgency to keep the party together compelled Rahul to emerge from shadow into the limelight of politics. After all, he has to go through the test of people’s acceptance in the form of elections and prove his mettle.

Contrasting political views Rahul does not own just the family legacy, he is also the trustee of the party’s ideology— secularism, liberalism and inclusive growth. Varun Gandhi on the other hand represents what the BJP stands for—its communal and divisive politics. His alleged hate speech during the 2009 elections for which he was hauled up is cited as a case in point. Many suspect that he has been fielded from Sultanpur in the instant elections to reinforce his claim to the legacy of late Sanjay Gandhi, and thus the Nehru-Gandhi heritage. Many others think he has been egged on by Maneka to avenge her expulsion from the family home. But both factions had refrained from criticising each other, until recently when Priyanka expressed her displeasure at her cousin's conduct of deviating from the ideological path of the family. ‘I strongly disagree with his views. It is a betrayal of family ideals. My father died for the unity of this country’. Varun Gandhi hit out at Priyanka for her uncalled for comments. Varun's mother Maneka also came out to defend her son. The political gulf being so wide, it is difficult to see how the two scions of the dynasty can ever come together. Rahul, who is trying to retain his Amethi seat which was once held by his mother before she shifted to Rae Bareli, is making vigorous efforts to overcome any incumbency feelings among the voters. He is concentrating on development, social justice and secularism. He has been criticised by many for lack of positive focus and original ideas like his father, but of late he has developed self-confidence and his recent speeches show it. He is also able to deflate BJP’s propaganda about Gujarat’s development model and to buoy up party’s declining fortunes. He showed the gumption to liken Modi with Nathuram Godse, assassin of the Father of the Nation. While the Congress Party was the keeper of the Mahatma’s ideals of secularism and communal harmony, the BJP stood for their antitheses. Rahul described the


SPECIAL STORY Gujarat model of development as a toffee model, which term got viral for days in political discussions. Sharpening his attack on Modi, Rahul said the BJP leader could not be trusted even as a chowkidar, as he was chowkidar only for businessmen like Adani. Varun, while filing his nomination from Sultanpur, invoked his father and asked people to bless him not as their leader but as a son and promised he would not go to Rae Bareli and Amethi for campaigning. ‘It is a new chapter in my life, this day reminds me of my father Sanjay Gandhi,’ he said. So the confusion persists: has Varun Gandhi been brought to Sultanpur to buttress his claim for the legacy, which his mother had lost grievously? Interestingly, probably to strike a chord with the loyal voters of the family, Varun unexpectedly praised his cousin Rahul for his development efforts in Amethi. Was it owing to his brotherly love for him or just plain politics, to invoke people’s sympathy towards the Gandhifamily? Whatever it is, Varun’s statement raised hackles of BJP’s political hardcore so much that his mother had to publicly chide him to listen to his head rather than the heart.

Varun trying to reinvent himself A section in the party saw in Varun’s gesture towards Rahul an indication of his displeasure with the new dispensation in the party which did not give him the importance he deserved while strategising and executing electioneering in UP. This theory got viral along with the story that Varun rarely mentioned Narendra Modi in his speeches. He even did not include Modi’s pictures

Varun Gandhi, 34, can undoubtedly claim biological extraction to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty which for 60 years has been the most influential in national politics. He is the grand-son of late Indira Gandhi and the only son of late Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi. Varun was just 100 days old when his father died in an air accident, and 4 years old when the then prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Before long, Maneka fell out with her motherin-law who asked her to leave the house. Subsequently Indira Gandhi inducted her elder son Rajiv into the Congress to help her with party work, while Maneka formed her own party, the Rashtriya Sanjay Manch which was later merged with the Janata Dal. In the 1984 elections Maneka contested from Amethi against Rajiv Gandhi but lost. Rajiv Gandhi became the prime minister after the assassination of his mother in 1984. Maneka won in the subsequent poll and became social justice and empowerment minister in the Vajpayee government. In 2004 Maneka joined the BJP along with her son Varun and contested election on the party ticket from Pilibhit. In 2009 she gave her constituency to Varun and she herself contested from neighbouring Aonla. After the hate-speech arrest, polarisation of votes on religious lines was so sharp that he won by a margin of 281,501 votes, the second highest in the Lok Sabha election. He got more than 50 percent votes whereas five years earlier his mother had won the seat by only 37.75 percent.

in many of his banners and posters used in Sultanpur. Besides, Varun has been conspicuous by his absence in all Modi rallies in UP till date. To make things worse he once bluntly told media that the crowd in Modi’s Kolkata rally was not quite as large as was claimed by the party, which irked Modi acolytes. Anyway, Varun is now on a road frequented by critics of the very ‘Idea of India’. His aggressive speeches have earned him a lot of popularity among the saffron fraternity. He is the youngest ever national general secretary of the party. Many have even predicted that he might become before long one of the party’s top leaders in UP where it desperately needs a young face with mass appeal. All said and done Maneka does have a claim to the NehruGandhi legacy. It is based on the fact that Indira Gandhi had chosen Sanjay first as her heir- apparent and it was Sanjay along with Maneka who had helped her during the most trying time of her political career. Interestingly many people note that though the two branches of the Nehru-Gandhi family are estranged from each other, they take care not to burn the bridge altogether. According to them Varun is undergoing a process of re-invention to change his earlier image of a leader who spewed communal venom for votes. At a recent meeting in UP Varun is reported to have appealed for Hindu-Muslim amity. They attribute this change to his desire to represent the complex legacy of his father. Youth in Sultanpur are impressed by his views on issues like job, education, health etc.; all the same, he may find it tough to win against Amita Singh, wife of Sanjay Singh, a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

13


SPECIAL STORY

People of Varanasi are conscious of the fact that election in this holy city, situated on the bank of the Ganga, is going to define future politics of India and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is seeking their positive nod.

MOTHER OF ALL the top Hindu pilgrim centre, it is also a popular tourist destination and major business hub, particularly for Banarasi sarees. Though there has been much talk amongst political parties about the need to defeat Narendra Modi here for his communal, divisive and cronycapitalistic development model, they could not field a common candidate against him. Anyway, the election campaign here is evoking keen global

Arvind Kejriwal wipes his face after unidentified men threw black ink

By Kusum Varshney

other of all political battles is being fought in Varanasi which is not just a city but the confluence of the Vedic culture, spiritual enlightenment and social cohesiveness. Besides being

M

14

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

interest not only because of Modi. The new political phenomenon Arvind Kejriwal with his novel approach to election campaign has hogged world attention. He has taken on Narendra Modi here. Both Modi and Kejriwal filed their nominations amidst a lot of fanfare, both leading lengthy road shows followed by massive rallies, demonstrating their vote bank strength. Traditionally Varanasi is a BJP stronghold— the local MP, MLA and Mayor belong to the party; yet development-wise the city is virtually in tatters. This realisation got accentuated

when some 3,000 plus volunteers of the Aam Aadmi Party, including some from across the country visited lanes-bylanes, mohallas, colonies, ghats, bazars, colleges and university campuses to ask people what they got from the BJP model of development. This was a new experience for the people who were fed up with politics of casteism and communalism, money and muscle power. This novel way of campaigning ruffled traditional parties, particularly the BJP. Its musclemen manhandled AAP volunteers, including former Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti and IT engineers, and threatened citizens not to associate with the AAP. Attempts were also made to stop AAP volunteers from making house-to-house visits for campaigning. In the wake of many such attacks, the AAP requested the Election Commission to detail central security forces in the city before polls. The AAP has promised to try and get this oldest living city of the world the status of a Holi City like Vatican. It has sought special packages from central and state governments. It also plans to clean the highly polluted Ganga, improve ghats, conserve all historical and religious places for making it a world heritage city. Other parties have followed with similar assurances. Currently the city is a ‘model’ of total mis-governance with poor civic amenities, accumulated filth piles, dysfunctional sewer lines, long electricity outages, highly erratic water supply and broken and unpaved roads. Frustration among students is palpable on account of the high fees they have to pay in private institutions for higher studies despite the city having five universities. Less said about the law and order situation in the city the better. Local mafias rule the roost—ordinary people live in constant fear. Though the city is famous for Banarasi sarees this


SPECIAL STORY

POLITICAL BATTLES cottage industry is facing closure in the face of competition from power looms and imported Chinese silk. All parties are now talking of taking up these problems.

No high-profile candidate from the Congress The Congress had earlier planned to field a high-profile candidate like Digvijaya Singh or Anand Sharma to take on Modi. Even Priyanka Gandhi was reportedly keen to contest against Modi, but the party leadership decided in favour of Ajai Rai, an existing Congress MLA. He was once a key BJP man; he left the saffron party before the 2009 Lok Sabha election, peeved by the denial of a ticket. He contested on SP ticket but finished third behind Murli Manohar Joshi and BSP candidate Mukhtar Ansari. The SP has fielded Kailash Chaurasia and the BSP Vijay Prakash Jaiswal against Modi and Kejriwal. Efforts were made by the Congress to have an unstated pact

with the SP and the BSP to make the going tough for Modi, but it did not succeed. Varanasi has some three lakh Muslim voters; so it became a big boost for the Congress candidate when the Quami Ekta Dal of Mukhtar Ansari extended support to Ajai Rai amidst media speculation that he would back Arvind Kejriwal. But this support has earned for Ajai Rai the wrath of Bhumihars as it was Mukhtar Ansari, who had allegedly murdered his elder brother. Ansari is now cooling his heels in jail. Brahmins who are unhappy with the BJP for shifting their leader Murli Manohar Joshi from Varanasi to Kanpur may also vote against the party. In 2009 Joshi had won here with a margin of just 17,211 votes. The BJP had occupied the seat first in 1991, and retained it except in 2004 when Congress candidate Dr Rajesh Kumar Mishra won it. The Congress had won the seat consecutively in the first three general elections. In 1967, the CPI made its maiden victory from here.

Varanasi contest Modi has contested from Vadodara also. By contesting from two seats he has shown his fear and vulnerability; ‘if indeed there is a wave in his favour, why contest from two seats,’

ask many people. In the case of Varanasi, Modi faces a tough fight as ‘Congress candidate Ajay Rai brings with him a strong local connect and Muslim support. The AAP candidate Arvind Kejriwal too is making things tough for Modi and the result will indeed be surprising,’ says Subhash Shukla, a Varanasi trader from Babatpur area. The tumultuous filing of nomination and day-long rally in Varanasi on April 24 by Modi did not go down too well with the locals. Not only was normal life disrupted, the event hogged TV channels for the entire day, as if nothing else of importance was happening anywhere. ‘It was a clear case of media management; people know better than get swayed by media coverage,’ says Shukla. The presence of SP candidate Kailash Chaurasia and BSP’s Vijay Jaiswal also make things difficult for Modi as the caste equation is against him. He will surely not get any Muslim support, only a small section of the majority community comprising traders is in his favour. There will obviously be a division of votes among the five major

Gujarat CM Narendra Modi (PTI photo)

15


SPECIAL STORY

candidates; Modi, according to a local Congress worker, will receive the smallest share. In the 2009 elections, the BJP candidate MM Joshi had a difficult time with Mukhtar Ansari in the contest, and Joshi could win only in the final round. This time no polarisation is taking place since there is no Muslim candidate in the fray; the voting is expected to be along political rather than communal lines. ‘It means Modi may not be getting majority community votes en bloc, and that means trouble for him,’ says a local journalist.

It is topi-war this time All the same, Varanasi is witnessing interesting fight. The AAP’s novel style of campaigning is being copied by the BJP and the Congress, whether it is about road show, house-to-house visits or wearing caps. Many call it a ‘topi-war’. The Congress woke up late to this effective visibility tool and ordered lakhs of caps to be distributed among citizens. This is a P-cap,

different in style, made in tricolour. SP workers are moving around in red caps and the BJP supporters in saffron caps. The AAP’s cap is white Gandhian, which displays the text: Mein hoon aam aadmi. The negative impact of promoting only Modi as prime ministerial candidate is being felt by BJP managers. First, the chant ‘Har Har Modi, Ghar Ghar Modi’ was dropped on the objection of a number of seers. Then hoardings pronouncing Abki baar Modi sarkar, were removed. New hoardings say: Abki baar Bhajpa sarkar. Another prominent text in the hoardings is ‘Ganga ka man-Maa ka samman.’ The obvious attempt is to connect with Kashi and the Ganga. The AAP too had to face objection of the Muslim community; it was forced to remove the broom sign from the cap as idea of wearing broom on the skull did not go well with most clerics. The BJP is firing all its guns to win the battle. All the BJP chief ministers, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje, Raman Singh and Manohar Parrikar,

have been told to land in Varanasi. Similarly, senior leaders like Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were also slated to campaign there. Film actress Preity Zinta, Hema Malini and other glamorous campaigners were also lined up. Even Modi is to stay put in the constituency for two days. The Congress too is getting many top campaigners to visit Varanasi. Rahul is one of them. But the demand is for Priyanka. Ajai Rai said if Priyanka visited Varanasi it would help to stage a bigger road-show than Modi was able to present. Many left-oriented students from Jawaharlal Nehru University have reached Varanasi to handle debate among the student community. They are canvassing for the AAP. The JD-U has also extended its support to the AAP and its president Sharad Yadav and general secretary KC Tyagi have campaigned for Kejriwal. Many poets are lending their services in campaigning and regaling people with their witty and humorous comments. Hosts of writers, painters and theatre personalities have also come together to preserve the syncretic culture of the city. They say Varanasi helped grow Hinduism, but did not ever support Hindutva. Intellectuals are ridiculing Modi for his statement on the nomination day that Mother Ganga called him rather than telling the truth that the RSS had sent him. Volunteers and supporters of the BJP are reaching Varanasi in a continuous stream from all over India. All the trains from Gujarat to Varanasi were full. Many had to come via Delhi, taking two or three trains. Big hotels put up ‘No Vacancy’ board and even dharmshalas, maths and guest houses declared ‘house full’.<


UTTAR PRADESH

UP TO SHOW GROUND REALITY TO DREAM MERCHANTS

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi during a road show in support of the party candidate Rita Bahuguna Joshi in Lucknow (PTI photo)

The long-drawn six phase polling in Uttar Pradesh for the 2014 Lok Sabha is witnessing an almost daily turn of fortunes for political parties in the fray. From a high of the so-called Modi wave, the Bharatiya Janata Party is now facing an intense scrutiny of voters close to round five and six, and if the trend is any indication, the outcome in the middle of May might turn out to be startling. MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

17


UTTAR PRADESH

By Ratan Mani Lal

ith its 80 Lok Sabha seats, UP is crucial to all parties that intend to play a major role in national politics post May 2014. Be it the BJP or the Congress, regional outfits Samajwadi Party or Bahujan Samaj Party, or even the newbie Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a major slice of the UP pie

W

always ready to experiment and will never support anything that is destructive and divisive. This is a common sentiment that indicates that it might not be easy for the BJP to score high in the state, and a low number in UP may not see the party realise its dream of forming the next government at the Centre. ‘Regardless of common perception, the Congress, SP and BSP will do quite well and the complex caste equations may not see any en bloc voting in BJP’s favour. This, coupled with the Muslims’ antipathy to the saffron outfit, may see the BJP just improve its tally marginally over the last election,’ says V K Sharma, a veteran journalist who has seen and

politicised than polarised. In western UP, for example, the resentment among a section of Muslims in the wake of riots in Muzaffarnagar last August-September, did see many voters expressing themselves against the SP, but it did not lead to complete polarisation. ‘The Dalits did seem a little confused in the beginning since the chasm between Muslims and nonMuslims made them waver towards the BJP, but the sustained campaign by the BSP chief Mayawati managed to convince them and they remained loyal to the BSP. As a result, the BJP did not get the support in the second phase it was expecting,’ says Athar Husain, who heads the Centre for Objective Research

BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi waves at supporters while paying floral tributes (PTI photo)

is on everybody’s agenda. A quick visit to key constituencies in the last one month shows a ground reality that is vastly different from the hyped coverage on television. ‘UP is not that easy to slice and take away as political parties feel. The people here are prudent and have seen many such waves and flashes,’ says A K Sinha, a retired central government official now settled in Lucknow. Having roots in UP, he says the people here are

18

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

covered many elections in the last two decades. There was much talk of high polarisation in the initial two phases of polling in the wake of vitriolic statements by SP’s Azam Khan and BJP’s Amit Shah that had vitiated the atmosphere. It did have an impact on polling in the first two phases but it did not continue by the time the third and fourth phase polling came as the atmosphere was by then more

and Development (CORD), a think tank on socio-political issues. The SP, on the other hand, has managed to recover lost ground in the second and third phase and the aggressive campaigning by Mulayam Singh Yadav and his chief minister son Akhilesh Yadav has consolidated the SP supporters in western-central UP right from Rampur and Budaun to Etawah, Mainpuri, Firozabad and Kannauj. ‘For the people in these areas, the victory of


UTTAR PRADESH Mulayam, his daughter in-law Dimple, nephews Akshay and Dharmendra are more a matter of family honour than political calculation,’ says Sharma. For the Congress, besides Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, who have established an emotional connect with the people of Rae Bareli and Amethi, respectively, especially after the canvassing by Priyanka Vadra, it is a question of appealing to the people’s common sense than indulging in rhetoric. ‘The Congress campaign revolves around UPA government’s achievements rather than making empty promises,’ says a UPCC spokesman. He adds that the people ultimately realise that ground reality is what matters,

The BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi has converted this election campaign into an individualoriented, presidential style campaign where two individuals rather than two parties or two ideologies are seen to be fighting over the formation of the next government. ‘Modi is selling dreams by telling the people through his advertisements that he would usher in golden days and overall prosperity, but he does not tell them how he plans to do it. On the other hand, what the people have seen is how veterans in the BJP have been sidelined to make space for Modi. How can he be trusted for his promises?’ asks Anand Uprety, a theatre activist in Lucknow.

Bahuguna Joshi, a former UPCC president and the sitting MLA from Lucknow Cantonment, has won many hearts by her door-to-door campaign and an easy behavior. ‘She has been visiting our colony since the 2012 assembly election and is aware of our problems. For us, she is the only choice as Rajnath Singh is an outsider,’ says Pravin Premi, a photographer living in Adarshnagar locality of Alambagh. Abhishek Mishra, the SP candidate, is a minister in the UP government and an MLA from Lucknow North. He too is working hard in old Lucknow. ‘Abhishek Mishra has done a lot of work in old Lucknow like two rail over bridges, parks renovation, better water

AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal along with party leaders during a road show on the way to file his nomination papers in Varanasi (PTI photo)

regardless of what appears in television. The Samajwadi Party, incidentally, has not put up candidates in Rae Bareli and Amethi, out of political courtesy to Sonia and Rahul, and the Congress has responded by not fielding its candidates in Mainpuri and Kannauj. ‘The signal is clear—the two parties might be on the on the opposite sides of the electoral battle but they are on the same side when it comes to oppose communal forces,’ says the UPCC leader.

Rajnath’s dilemma In Lucknow, BJP president Rajnath Singh faces three formidable Brahmin candidates and an entertainer from Aam Aadmi Party. Keen to don the mantle of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Singh has failed to enthuse voters in the state capital by his aloofness and disinterest shown by the party cadre in his campaign. Opposed to this, the Congress candidate Rita

supply etc and is very accessible. Rajnath Singh is a stranger for Lucknow,’ says PK Mishra, a retired Lucknow University teacher in Aliganj locality. Not to be overlooked is Nakul Dube, the BSP candidate and a former minister in the BSP regime. Javed Jafferi of the AAP appears to be a favourite of a section of the Muslim population. That again leaves very little for Rajnath Singh to root for. ‘The Muslims

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

19


UTTAR PRADESH are not going to support him as they did Vajpayee, and Rajnath Singh is also perceived to be anti-Brahmin. As a result, his chances appear slim,’ says Sharma. In fact the general perception in Lucknow is that Rajnath is having a tough time and Rita Bahuguna Joshi is the front-runner.

The Gandhi bastions Rae Bareli has been traditional seat of the Gandhi family and this time too there appears no challenge strong enough to go against Sonia Gandhi. While Rae Bareli has seen tremendous development in the last one decade including establishment of institutions such as petroleum institute, fashion technology institute, rail coach factory etc, the neighbouring constituency Amethi has seen major thrust in job creation initiatives through women’s self help groups, something that evoked appreciation from estranged cousin Varun Gandhi who is contesting from adjoining Sultanpur. But Kumar Vishwas of the Aam Aadmi Party busted the myth of development in Amethi. He undertook extensive campaigning and visited each and every panchayat in the constituency. But for speaking against Rahul Gandhi and also BJP, he had to face numerous physical attacks. At least 15 attacks on his supporters were made in the last 4-5 days of campaigning. His harassment was apparent when the police landed at his residence in the night to tell his wife, children and other family members to leave Amethi or else they will be arrested as per the orders of Election Commission. AAP leaders accused police and district administration of targeting only their party, while ignoring Congress and BJP. Arvind Kejriwal also campaigned here in his favour, but owing to Kumar Vishwas running into many controversies with his pro-BJP and pro-RSS statements, he has lost the trust of the people despite an initial surge of support for him. There was no plan of Narendra Modi to come here to Amethi to campaign for BJP candidate Smriti

20

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

Irani, but at the insistence of Amit Shah it was especially arranged. But Modi’s campaigning in favour of BJP candidate did rather backfire and improved only Rahul’s winning chances by consolidating dithering votes in Rahul’s favour as a reaction to

PM candidate. He was castigated by Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav for trying to gain sympathy by calling himself a victim of caste discrimination, which was nothing but ‘cheating’. In Rae Bareli, the BJP has trusted

Starry candidates from UP mportant politicians whose fate is to be decided from UP include Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli), Rahul Gandhi (Amethi), BJP’s Rajnath Singh (Lucknow) and Narendra Modi (Varanasi), Murli Manohar Joshi (Kanpur), Union ministers Salman Khurshid (Farrukhabad), RPN Singh (Kushinagar), Jitin Prasad (Dhaurahra), Beni Prasad Varma (Gonda), Sriprakash Jaiswal (Kanpur), Pradeep Jain (Jhansi), Congress candidates Nagma (Meerut), Raj Babbar (Ghaziabad), BJP leaders Uma Bharti (Jhansi), Hema Malini (Mathura), Maneka Gandhi (Pilibhit), retired Army Chief V K Singh (Ghaziabad), Rashtriya Lok Dal leaders Ajit Singh (Baghpat), Jayant Chaudhary (Mathura), Amar Singh (Fatehpur Sikri), Jaya Prada (Bijnore), Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal (Varanasi), Kumar Vishwas (Amethi), Shazia Ilmi (Ghaziabad), Adarsh Shastri (Allahabad) and Javed Jafferi (Lucknow).<

I

his vitriolic utterances. His speech in Amethi drew widespread opprobrium as he came to a new low in attacking Rahul’s family. Even more shocking was his descending to the level of raking up his caste. Priyanka Gandhi who had also sensed that the campaigning of Rahul was not on the right track came here and virtually changed the atmosphere by her convincing arguments about certain failures in the constituency like not getting electricity due to court action. After Modi’s personal attacks Priyanka remarked each polling booth in Amethi would take revenge for this ‘low level politics’ of Modi and insulting his father. ‘Inhone Amethi ki dharti pe mere shaheed pitaa ka apmaan kiya hai, Amethi ki janta is harkat ko kabhi maaf nahi karegi. Inki neech rajniti ka jawaab mere booth ke karyakartaa denge… Amethi ke ek ek booth se jawaab aayega, she said. General feeling is that Modi’s utterances were unbecoming of a

Supreme Court lawyer Ajay Agarwal to challenge Sonia Gandhi but there appears no contest here. The weak BSP candidate and the initial withdrawal by AAP’s candidate retired judge Fakhruddin has thrown the AAP campaign in disarray. ‘The spontaneous response of the people in both the constituencies to the road show by Sonia and Rahul on the days they filed their nomination was an indication of the social and emotional connect they have established,’ says Sandeep Kumar, who runs an NGO in Lucknow, Barabanki and Amethi. The factors at play in the state are anti-incumbency against the SP government because of its failure to maintain law and order and control crime, localized polarisation because of the mishandling of the riots and its aftermath, and a desire for stability. More than dreams of ‘better days’, it is ‘proven record’ that will help voters make their choice.<


SPECIAL STORY

HEREDITARY POLITICS HAS BECOME A RAMPANT PHENOMENON The growth of India’s democracy and political system is warped by the desire to keep the political power within families. Not surprising, since politics is now synonymous with power and money! But this certainly does not serve well the evolution of democracy in the country as it blocks budding leaders with stronger ground level understanding of the issues and needs of the society. They get eliminated from the field despite greater conviction to produce solutions. Some political scientists say the saving grace is that eventually the person has to earn the credentials through voters’ approval, notwithstanding the political legacy from fathers and mothers. By Rajeev Sharma /Janmesh Jain

f one looks at the current crop of young political leaders a strong tendency to sustain a political lineage seems to be spreading fast. It is now a common feature rather than an exception. Till a decade ago dynastic politics was considered to largely the preserve of the Gandhi family. Opposition parties including BJP consciously kept their kith and kin away from the hurly-burly of politics. Now with politics turning into a wealth generation activity, the traditional political ethic is relegated to the background and

I

winnability has become the key determinant. More and more politicians therefore seem to prefer close relatives sharing the business. No wonder then if we find sons, daughters, nephews and nieces of prominent leaders fielded in the electoral fray. Incidentally the younger scions are armed with fancy degrees from fancy universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, IIT, IIM etc, but that is no guarantee of their grasp of the grim social and economic realities or their empathy with common man. So, the moot question is, if more and more sons and daughters of politicians continue to monopolise

politics what happens to the selfmade honest youngsters who rise through life’s harsh realities, have a stronger feel for the society’s maladies and can offer better solutions? Such leaders may turn out rulers for their own sake, but they might not have the quality to lead the society. The current trend of established leaders grabbing seats for kith and kin discourages hundreds of workers who toil for decades for their share in the pie. The tendency among politicians to push their sons and daughters is not so new to Indian politics. The leaders of regional parties have only lent it a wider dimension. There are very few states in the country where politics is not dominated by one or other political family. Of the 67 years since independence, the Gandhi-Nehru family alone has directly or indirectly ruled the

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

21


SPECIAL STORY country for more than 50 years. A fallacy has now gained ground that only the sons and daughters can faithfully carry the political and ideological legacy forward. This has injected an element of feudalism in the democratic polity. This started shortly after we proclaimed democracy when Jawaharlal Nehru chose to pass the baton to daughter Indira Gandhi. Later the inability of the Congress party to remain united became a reason to accept the family rule. Subsequently the ability of the party to win elections without the help of the Gandhi-Nehru legacy consolidated the dynastic principle. So the Congressmen felt it safe to accept Rajeev Gandhi as their leader. The same story is being repeated as the average Congress leader thinks the elections can’t be won without the legacy and Rahul has been accepted as the leader. The media, political commentators and various political parties have all criticised the dynastic aberration in democratic polity. But on a look around one finds almost all top leaders of different political parties behaving in a similar manner. They have fielded their sons, daughters and other close relatives in the 16th Lok Sabha elections. The list is

22

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

The inability of the Congress party to remain united without the help of the Gandhi-Nehru legacy is seen as reason behind the Congress persisting with dynastic system. It is no secret that Congressmen found it safe to accept Rajeev Gandhi as their leader and the same story is being repeated now as the average Congressman believes the elections cannot be won without this legacy and Rahul has therefore been accepted as the leader unquestioningly. endless: Hazaribagh Jayant Sinha son of former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha, Jyotiraditya Scindia son of late union cabinet minister Madhav Rao Scindia, Misa Bharati daughter of former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, Karti Chidambaram son of finance minister P Chidambaram, Gaurav Gogoi son of Assam CM Tarun Gogoi, Abhishek Singh son of Chhattisgarh chief minister Dr Raman Singh, Sushmita daughter of veteran Congress MP Santosh Mohan Dev, Chirag Paswan son of former union cabinet minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Deepender Singh Hooda son of Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and so on; all are continuing with it. In Odisha, chief minister Naveen Patnaik got the political wealth of his illustrious father late Biju Patnaik in the same fashion.

Dynastic Aberration Much More in States In regional politics the dynastic trend has flourished with abandon. The current chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of Haryana is the son of Ranbir Singh Hooda, who, besides being a member of the constituent assembly was a minister in

the cabinet of Bansilal. Now the Bhupinder Singh has fielded his son Deepender Singh Hooda from Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency. In Hooda’s cabinet there is Kiran Chaudhary who is the daughter of former chief minister Bansilal. The hereditary trend goes even further as Shruti, the grand-daughter of Bansilal is a member of parliament from Bhivani-Mahendragarh and is contesting Lok Sabha election on the Congress ticket. The chief of major opposition party in Haryana, the Indian National Lok Dal, Om Prakash Chautala, is the son of former chief minister and deputy prime minister Devilal. Chautala’s sons, Ajay and Abhay, have also become prominent leaders in the party. The trend continues as we find the fourth generation Ajay Chautala’s son Dushyant is contesting Lok Sabha elections from Karnal. The third famous Lal of Haryana is late Bhajan Lal whose political legacy could also not be passed on to any party leader other than his sons Chandramohan and Kuldip Bishnoi. Chandramohan was made the deputy chief minister during his own chief ministership. Kuldip Bishnoi is MP from Hissar and is contesting the current election again from the same constituency. Uttar Pradesh has also championed the dynastic culture. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is the son of the former chief minister and union defence


SPECIAL STORY minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Singh Yadav is an important minister in UP and another brother Ramgopal Yadav is an MP. Dimple Yadav daughter in law of Mulayam Singh Yadav is also an MP and is contesting again. If Mulayam’s dream comes true the nation would find the son and father as chief minister of the largest state and prime minister at the same time. In the Congress camp Jitin Prasada, the union minister of state for human resources is son of Jitendra Prasada former vice president of the Congress and political advisor to late prime ministers Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narsimha Rao. Ajit Singh inherited the political legacy of his father Chaudhary Charan Singh. In his own life time Ajit Singh saw that his son Jayant Chowdhary becomes the Lok Sabha member. Late Sanjay Gandhi’s son Varun Gandhi was an MP from Pilibhit and is now contesting from Sultanpur. Former Uttar Pradesh’s BJP chief minister Kalyan Singh's son Rajbir Singh is contesting from Etah Lok Sabha seat. Pankaj Singh, son of BJP’s national president Rajnath Singh, has been denied ticket this time, but he is working in the party for last several years and is bound to be obliged by the party at an appropriate time. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the daughter of former late chief minister and union cabinet minister Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna first became the mayor of Allahabad using the legacy of her father

and now is Congress’ Lok Sabha candidate in Lucknow against BJP president Rajnath Singh. Vijay, son of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, became the chief minister of Uttarakhand. Now Vijay Bahuguna’s son Saket Bahuguna has been given the Lok Sabha ticket from Tehri. And what has chief minister Harish Rawat done? He ensured ticket for his wife Renuka from Haridwar Lok Sabha seat. The malady of seeking tickets for their own kith and kin cuts across all groups and factions. Even the former union cabinet minister and chief minister of UP and Uttarakhand Narayan Dutt Tewari sought ticket for his son Rohit Shekhar. The Congress MP from Pauri, Satpal Maharaj wanted ticket for his son Hridayesh Rawat, but was told point blank that it would not be done and this resulted into his exit from the party. He joined BJP. Interestingly his wife is already a minister in the incumbent Congress government of Uttarakhand. Power should remain only in the family!

But as one looks around one finds almost all top leaders in different parties resorting to hereditary politics by fielding sons, daughters and other close relatives in the ongoing 16th Lok Sabha elections.

Feudal practice in democracy The feudal system of passing on the political baton to descendants is a prominent trend in BJP. Rajasthan’s chief minister Vasundhara Raje could easily find her place in politics obviously due to her mother Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia. Vasundhara in turn sought and got Lok Sabha ticket for her son Dushyant Singh from Jhalawar. Ironically she sought ticket for her son, but opposed tooth and nail the nomination of former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh on Barmer Lok Sabha seat. The story of family-oriented politics does not end here. Jaswant Singh had also sought ticket for his son Manvendra Singh in 2009 and he won. Later he was told to contest assembly seat in this constituency and he won. Similarly Sachin Pilot, who is running the Congress election campaign in Rajasthan, is the son of late Rajesh Pilot who was a minister in the Centre. Even Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav is actively participating in politics and is a member of the Congress campaign committee. He is party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Ajmer. How can one forget Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is heading the election campaign of the Congress party in Madhya Pradesh is the son of late union cabinet minister Madhav Rao Scindia. Digvijaya Singh, known as a progressive face in Madhya Pradesh politics, also could not resist the temptation of passing on the political baton to his son and sought ticket for his son Jaivardhan Singh from Raghogarh in the recent assembly election.

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

23


SPECIAL STORY Digvijaya Singh’s younger brother Laxman Singh is also contesting for the Lok Sabha from Vidisha, against BJP’s leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. Bihar cannot be ignored when discussing the phenomenon of retaining political power within the family. Here the former chief minister of Bihar and union railway minister Lalu Yadav has fielded his daughter Misa Bharti on Patliputra seat, ignoring the claim of his socalled Hanuman, Ram Kripal Yadav, who felt so hurt by the act that he left the party and moved to the ideologically opposite pole, the BJP. This trait of not trusting anyone outside the family was witnessed when fodder scam came to light and Lalu Yadav stunned everyone by making his wife Rabri Devi the chief minister instead of any senior colleague in the cabinet. She had no experience and interest in politics being just a housewife. This time when he found he could not contest Lok Sabha elections due to indictment in the fodder scam, he chose his daughter to contest for Lok Sabha. Sources say, he would have preferred his son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, but he fell short of minimum age requirement of 25 years. Ramvilas Paswan too displayed proclivity to this feudal trend when he fielded on three of the seven Lok Sabha seats members from his own family. On Hajipur seat he himself is contesting, while his son

24

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

Chirag Paswan is in fray at Jamui against Bihar assembly speaker Uday Narayan Chowdhury and his brother Ram Chander Paswan in contesting at Samastipur. The same greed can also be seen in Maharashtra politics as well. Here Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar is the deputy chief minister. But Ajit has not been given the status of his true heir. He wants only his daughter Supriya Sule as the true heir. So Sharad Pawar in order to ensure easy victory fielded her in 2009 on his traditional Lok Sabha seat, Baramati which he represented for decades and never lost. This time while he shunned the contest he fielded Supriya again from Baramati. Similarly Milind Deora has got the political legacy of father Murli Deora. In the same fashion Priya Dutt has claimed legacy of her father Sunil Dutt. When it came to lead Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray did not like to oblige his deserving nephew Raj Thackeray and instead chose son Uddhav to lead the party. There are so many others, like Sagar Meghe the son of senior Congress leader Datta Meghe who has got the ticket from Wardha and Poonam Mahajan the daughter of late Pramod Mahajan contesting in Mumbai North Central.

The trend in states is even worse The trend of dynastic politics is widespread in almost all states. In Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has kept his son Sukhbir Singh Badal as the

deputy chief minister in his cabinet and made him also the president of Shiromani Akali Dal. And Sukhbir’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal is the member of the outgoing Lok Sabha. She is again fielded from Bhatinda to take on Manpreet Singh Brar, the founder of Punjab People’s Party. Another family member Bikram Singh Majithia, the son in law of Prakash Singh Badal is a prominent minister in his cabinet. Come to Himachal Pradesh, where also the politics is afflicted with the same malady. One can start with Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, who soon after becoming the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh started promoting his son Anurag Thakur. With his father’s clout he could win elections of Lok Sabha from Hamirpur. He was also made the president of the Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha. If one looks at the Congress camp the situation is equally bad. On becoming chief minister, Vir Bhadra Singh did not surrender his Lok Sabha seat Mandi to any other leader but to his wife Pratibha Singh. He did not stop at it. Despite stiff resistance, he got son Vikramjit Singh appointed president of Youth Congress in Himachal Pradesh. Though BJP criticizes the dynastic politics of Congress, it is found to be pursuing it in almost every state. In Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh's son Abhishek is the party candidate from the Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha constituency. In Congress camp former chief minister of Chhattisgarh Ajit Jogi is propping up his son Amit Jogi to take the family legacy forward. He also helped his wife Renu Jogi win the assembly seat in recent elections. Union minister of state for agriculture


SPECIAL STORY and food processing Dr Charan Das Mahant also owns the legacy of his father late Bisahu Das Mahant, who was a prominent leader of undivided Madhya Pradesh. In West Bengal Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit was given the ticket from Jangipur when Pranab vacated it on becoming the President of India. Then there is P Chidambaram, the illustrious finance minister, who has also passed on the political baton to his son Karti Chidambaram who is contesting the Lok Sabha election from Sivaganga. DMK supremo M Karunanidhi is especially keen to retain the political power in his family. Interestingly there is feud between his two sons M K Azhagiri and M K Stalin on the issue of inheriting the legacy. The issue seems to be now settled as M K Azhagiri has been expelled from the party. DMK patriarch has not ignored his daughter Kanimozhi, who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. In Delhi, late former chief minister Sahib Singh Verma's son Parvesh Verma was given ticket for West Delhi Lok Sabha seat by the BJP. The increasing trend of giving tickets to sons and daughters of top leaders in the BJP has forced the

Peculiar Nature of MP’s Dynastic Politics By Our Staff Writer he dynasties in Madhya Pradesh politics are not a novelty. But the way the BJP uses two different glasses to look at them arouses curiosity. While it finds nothing feudal about the Gwalior royalty members that form its democratic circus the BJP refuses to see anything egalitarian about the members of Congress from the same family. When the Congress chose union minister of state for the ministry of power Jyotiraditya Scindia to lead the campaign in the assembly elections in November chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan pooh-poohed his royal background. No one in party or public asked Chouhan about the background of Jyotiraditya’s grandmother Vijayaraje Scindia and his aunts Yashodhara and Vasundhara Raje who have played a dominant role in the ascent of the BJP. Chouhan even went to campaign for Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Scindias stand divided as a family. But they have an understanding under which they don’t cross each other’s political path. During the first elections, in 1952, the Scindias controlled nearly fifty constituencies in the Madhya Bharat Assembly. The Hindu Mahasabha swept the elections with the backing of Gwalior Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia’s key aide Sambhajirao Angre swept the elections. Jawahar Lal Nehru then asked Jiwaji Rao to field Vijayaraje as Congress candidate in 1957 and this drastically cut the Hindu Mahasabha base. She contested the elections from GunaVidisha seat on Congress ticket and defeated the sitting MP Vishnupant Deshpande of the Hindu Mahasabha. Jyotiraditya’s aunt and state minister Yashodhara Raje, is a legislator from Shivpuri segment of Guna Lok Sabha constituency where Scindia is taking on BJP’s Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya who keeps harping on antifeudal agenda. Pawaiya had refused to bow before the memorial to Vijayaraje Scindia to flaunt his anti-feudal attitude. The irony is not lost on the voters.<

T

party to defend it citing the winnability factor. Sheila Dikshit had already groomed her son Sandeep Dikshit to become the Lok Sabha member. He is contesting this time against Raj Mohan Gandhi of Aam Aadmi Party from East Delhi constituency. There is no sign of the trend changing. Indian politicians look unlikely to let alternative power centres emerge outside their family though the trend is eating into the vitals of Indian democracy. When the sole aim of pursuing politics is to attain power and make money rather than working for the welfare of people, the tendency of retaining power in the family can only be seen as a natural outcome. This malady of Indian politics is expected to increase in future and values of sacrifice and service through politics that were the hallmark of the freedom struggle would continue to be diluted.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

25


SPECIAL STORY

WILL MODI BE THE HITLER OF INDIA?

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, RLD chief Ajit Singh and many others called Modi a Hitler-like. Indeed there are so many things that one witnessed in the Modi regime in Gujarat and his national election campaign for PM, that sounds an alarm bell to the peopleâ&#x20AC;Ś..

Narendra Modi blames Congress over rising (PTI photo)

By Sunil Kumar

he 16th Lok Sabha elections are going to be different in the sense that elections used to be fought earlier on party lines, now

T 26

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

an individual has become the main focus. The height of the craziness is that BJPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s PM candidate has assumed his becoming the prime minister is a foregone conclusion. No wonder Modi managers once arranged his speech to be delivered from a simulated Red fort.

Funny thing is he appeals to the people to make him a chowkidar of the nation, while his body language defies any semblance of humility. His gesticulations and facial expressions are of a dictatorial mould. Much like Paul Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister of Germany during dictator Adolf Hitler, he also keeps on repeating his falsehoods and continues to do so till he gets the desired response. No wonder at least two senior leaders like NCP chief Sharad Pawar and RLD chief Ajit Pawar called him a Hitler. Many people virtually see in him as an emerging Hitler or Mussolini in India. The Hitler and Mussolini regimes were against equity, equality, freedom and human brotherhood; but they were backed by powerful social and business elites. The minorities used to fear them. The same is happening in India. Minorities and those who believe in secularism, human rights and pro-people ideologies are scared of Modi. But the entire corporate world has rallied behind him. Ratan Tata, the former chairman of the Tata group was the first to recognise in him the prime


SPECIAL STORY ministerial possibility. When Tata was forced to move out of Singur in West Bengal, Modi rolled out red carpet to him in Gujarat, providing 725 acres of land at a highly concessional rate. Soon hosts of industrialists started projecting Modi as the PM candidate of the country. And why not! In his 10 years’ rule in Gujarat, Modi has given some two lakh hectares of land to the industrialists at highly concessional rates, no matter he bended the rules. Much to the annoyance of others, Modi gave land as large as Baroda city at throw away price of one rupee per square meter to Adani Group. When workers of the Maruti-Suzuki in Manesar were fighting for their wage increase comparable to other companies in the same industry, Modi invited the company to shift its unit to Gujarat and assured the company of providing a troublefree environment to run the factory. This, however, resulted into some five thousand farmers of Gujarat opposing the move, and threatened agitation raising the slogan ‘Go back Maruti’. Modi also announced to create 13 Special Investment Regions and for every Region 100 sq km of farmer’s land has to be acquired. Farmers are continuously opposing this move and have demanded nullification of the notification to this effect, disregarding farmers’ concerns, but the move goes ahead. Social activists Lalji Desai and Sagar Rabari, who were fighting for the farmers’ rights, were arrested under the charge of hoisting national flag without permission. It amply shows if Modi acquires power at the Centre, what kind of suppression people may have to face.

Why Modi is so much needed by industry elites? It is now two decades since new socalled economic policy was introduced in India. So far various governments could implement it behind the charade of various public welfare measures. But this very welfare façade of the government has now become the main obstacle in further implementation of various exploitative and lootbased industrial policies. The economic captains of the country feel that the next phase of the so-called reform process can be implemented only by adopting fascist means. In fascist modus operandi, a false fear of national economic collapse is created. Simultaneously aggressive communal feelings are being fomented to divert people’s attention from genuine issues and reasons of the current economic and developmental slump and all pervading corruption. The move is supported by powerful corporate world. The ground reality today is that the life of common people is under threat, not the over-all economic growth rate of the country which is producing more and more millionaires. The stock market is booming since the talk of the Narendra Modi wave, and during just within a few weeks the market capitalization of companies that received favours from Modi government has increased by Rs 20,000 crore, but the poverty line for Gujaratis remains just the same Rs 11 and Rs 17 per day in rural and urban areas. The main reason behind the economic crisis in India is the loot of natural resources by exploitative capitalists with the connivance of politicians. And Modi has no solution for this. <

Similarities between Hitler and Modi itler didn’t marry and Modi too didn’t name his wife before April, 2014 when he filed his nomination paper from Vadodara Lok Sabha constituency. Hitler was a fanatic nationalist on ethnic basis and treated people of other ethnicities (read Jews) as enemies. Modi also feels proud of calling himself a Hindu nationalist and his behaviour tallies with his thinking when he wears turbans and caps of all religions except the Muslim one. Hitler used to call communists and socialists as foreign agents. Here Modi called Arvind Kejriwal a Pakistan agent. The BJP spokespersons do not lose any opportunity to term Aam Aadmi Party leaders as urban Maoists. Even otherwise the RSS calls communists as foreign agents. Hitler didn’t tolerate criticism. The same is true of Modi. His dissenting home minister in his cabinet, Hiren Pandya, was murdered and there is no trace of the culprits even after several years. Just as Hitler used to talk of Pan-Germanism, Modi also talks of India in similar tones. Just as Hitler worked as a casual labourer and seller of water colours during his childhood, Modi used to sell tea with his father. Hitler considered his neighbouring countries as enemies; Modi too paints neighbouring China and Pakistan with the brush of hostility. Just as all means of propaganda like newspapers, magazines etc were involved in propagating Hitler’s agenda, most of electronic, print and social media is involved in promoting Modi blatantly in a similar fashion. Hitler had crushed the labour movement, while Modi assured Maruti-Suzuki of no labour trouble when he invited it to Gujarat. Hitler came to power propagating a notion that he would solve all problems of the country within no time. In a similar fashion Modiji claims within 60 months he would solve all the problems created in last 60 years. Does Modi really want to become the Hitler of India.<

H

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

27


WORLD

What exactly did the Bharatiya Janata Party mean when, in its manifesto it professed that it would ‘revise and update’ India’s nuclear doctrine ‘to make it relevant to challenges of current times?’ Did the BJP mean they would move away from India’s stated position of ‘No First Use’ of nuclear weapons, proclaimed shortly after India became an overt nuclear weapons power with the Pokhran tests of May 1998? Or was it just a suitable turn of phrase?

BJP’S NUCLEAR

POSTURING!

By Nilova Roy Chaudhury

here has been considerable curiosity whether the BJP was considering amending India’s declared ‘No First Use’ position. After all, Pakistan has no such ‘No First Use’ doctrine, so why should a potential BJP-led government, viewed as likely to adopt a ‘muscular’ stance on India’s nuclear neighbours, hold back its hand? Party spokesmen were quick to dispel such misgivings, saying that the manifesto outlined the party’s vision that India’s nuclear doctrine had to jell with the changing realities of the 21st century and that nuclear energy was a vital component of the country’s energy security. In the manifesto, outlining an ‘Independent Strategic Nuclear Programme’ the BJP states that the strategic gains attained by India during the Vajpayee regime have been ‘frittered away’ by the Congress and their emphasis would be ‘a new thrust on

T

28

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

framing policies that would serve India’s national interest in the 21st century.’ The party would follow a ‘two-pronged, independent nuclear programme..for civilian and military purposes.’ The party would ‘study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times’ and ‘maintain a credible minimum deterrent that is in tune with changing geostatic realities.’ Analysts point out that India’s nuclear doctrine was formulated and spelt out during the NDA

regime headed by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and thus unlikely to be radically amended. Later in an interview Narendra Modi also clarified that he would not alter the doctrine. According to strategic analyst P R Chari, ‘India’s ‘no-first-use’ policy owes, not to the Congress and UPA, but to the BJP party and NDA government that took the decision to conduct the nuclear tests in May 1998.’ Then prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, declared that India would pursue a no-first-use policy in regard to


WORLD

China, adopted the doctrine of No First Use in 1964, after it tested at Lop Nor, a commitment it has retained till today. However, BJP feels the need to change the doctrine of No First Use within 11 years of its declaration. Reasons are understandable as BJP leaders’ obsession with Pakistan reminds them that Pakistan has not made any such commitment and has been regularly adding tactical nuclear weapons and miniaturised nuclear-capable warheads, and it has targeted its nuclear deterrence solely against India. BJP wants to keep India at par with Pakistan, not China. employing nuclear weapons. This pledge was reiterated in the draft nuclear doctrine issued for public discussion in August 1999, and later incorporated into the decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Security promulgated in January 2003. However, according to analysts, what India has is actually a ‘draft nuclear doctrine’ and not one that is ‘cast in stone.’ The voluntary moratorium on testing and ‘No First Use’ pledge were offered to overcome the condemnation and sanctions imposed by the international community, so the doctrine remains a ‘work in progress.’ ‘It is a much better idea to keep the opponent guessing than to reveal all our cards,’ a senior official said, while commenting on the BJP’s manifesto.

India’s draft doctrine says: • While committed to the goal of a nuclear weapon free world, India, till the realisation of this goal, will possess nuclear weapons. • India will build and maintain a credible minimum deterrent. • India will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states. • India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

• But if it is attacked through nuclear weapons in its territory or on Indian forces anywhere, then its nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage to the aggressor. The No First Use pledge has gone through a lot of changes since it was first enunciated. The current version of ‘No First Use’ was outlined in April 2010 by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, who said that India's ‘No First Use’ pledge is only valid against non-nuclear weapon states. Therefore, Pakistan and China, and the other six nuclear weapons states, are excluded from what was originally a global Indian pledge. As Menon told the NDC, ‘The Indian nuclear doctrine also reflects the strategic culture, with its emphasis on minimal deterrence, no first use against non-nuclear weapon states and its direct linkage to nuclear disarmament.’ The allegations against the No First Use are that it is a pacifist, idealist, Gandhian strategy that has no role to play in the modern context. Since Pakistan has been regularly adding to its component of tactical nuclear weapons and

miniaturised nuclear-capable warheads, and since it has targeted its nuclear deterrence solely against India, the ‘practical’ argument for the more ‘muscular’ foreign policy is to amend the No First Use doctrine. After all, Pakistan has made no such commitment. The BJP’s emphasis, outlined in the manifesto, is on projecting a ‘muscular’ or ‘tough’ regional policy: ‘where required we will not hesitate from taking strong stand and steps’. Bravado is not a substitute for a comprehensive neighbourhood strategy. A year ago, the convener of the National Security Advisory Board, Shyam Saran, responding to questions on the development of small tactical nuclear weapons by Pakistan, said that India would not be the first to use nuclear weapons, but regardless of the size of the attack, Indian retaliation ‘will be massive and designed to inflict

Fearing the fallout of the aggressive nuclear stand the BJP spokespersons were quick to dispel misgiving generated after release of party manifesto so much so even Narendra Modi clarified in an interview that the nuclear doctrine would not be altered. unacceptable damage on the adversary.’ It would be prudent to recall that one of the reasons the Kargil conflict could not escalate was specifically because of India’s ‘no first use’ commitment. Also, China, which was the stated reason for India testing its nuclear arsenal in 1998, adopted the doctrine of No First Use in 1964, after it tested at Lop Nor, a commitment it has retained till today. But, any suggestions by the BJP for discarding the NFU must also, perforce, take into account the fact that abandoning the doctrine would place India on a par with Pakistan and not China.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

29


MADHYA PRADESH

SABOTAGE FEAR HAUNTS BJP, CONGRESS BJP leader Sushma Swaraj shows her ink marked finger after casting her vote for Lok Sabha polls (PTI photo)

The high turnout has been interpreted by the BJP as going in its favour. However, infighting kept many candidates worried in the Congress as well as the BJP. Factional fights in the BJP off and on made media headlines. Stars like Advani, former chief ministers Kailash Joshi and Sunderlal Patwa stayed away from campaigning. But that doesn't comfort the Congress which had its own share of intra-party trouble.

By Chandrakant Naidu from Bhopal

he BJP has set its sights on a clean sweep of all 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh. It held 16 seats in the outgoing House. The BSP held one seat and rest went to the Congress. Though the BJP exceeded its own expectations by winning 165 of the 230 assembly seats in November elections and Congress was stuck at a poor 58 the BJP’s claim of blanking Congress sounds preposterous. Unlike the assembly elections the ones for Lok Sabha recorded a lower voter turnout but it was by far superior to the 2009 General Elections. The first phase on April 10 witnessed a high turnout of over 64 per cent in the nine seats of MahakoshalVindhya region. Key seats like Chhindwara touched 70 per cent. Chhindwara has rarely disappointed Congress. It is synonymous with Kamal Nath, the union parliamentary affairs minister seeking his ninth term. In 34 years the Congress stalwart has won seven times and lost once from this constituency which has over 34 per cent tribal population. In assembly elections the BJP was ahead on all but three

T

30

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

segments by nearly 66,000 votes. Can Kamal Nath overturn the lead yet again? The voter’s response was lukewarm in the second phase of polling on November 17 that covered the ten seats in the Gwalior- Chambal region. The percentage dropped to just over 55. The BJPs PM candidate Narendra Modi with Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan waves to crowd at an election campaign rally in Kukshi in Dhardistrict (PTI photo)

and Rajgarh. Four seats in Bundelkhand region Tikamgarh, Sagar, Khajuraho and Damoh were also covered under this phase. They were in the news for factional fights in the BJP. But that doesn't comfort the Congress which has its own share of intra-party trouble. In the state capital Bhopal, an old Congress party hand, PC Sharma, is in the fray against lesser known BJP candidate Alok Sanjar. Sanjar emerged from nowhere after the drama over LK Advani’s candidature. Sanjar’s campaign shows he is hoping to make the most of the support for Narendra Modi. Stars like Advani, former chief ministers Kailash Joshi and Sunderlal Patwa stayed away from campaigning.

Gwalior became a matter of prestige with the BJP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan going all out for Narendra Singh Tomar. Jyotiraditya Scindia and Rahul Gandhi cast their weight behind the Congress candidate Ashok Singh, who had contested the seat unsuccessfully twice.

BJP is targeting Jyotiraditya Scindia contesting at Guna against the firebrand BJP leader Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya. Chief minister Shivraj Chouhan has staked his reputation on the campaign. The other keen contests in the region were at Bhind, Morena, Gwalior

Chief minister Chouhan did campaign for Sanjar almost every day. The BJP has the advantage of having won six of the seven assembly segments in Bhopal. Sharma however, doesn’t seem to have the support of his own party members. Party president Sonia Gandhi was to campaign here. But, she didn’t turn up. In Sagar, the BJP had asked current MP Bhupendra Singh Thakur to quit


MADHYA PRADESH and contest assembly elections. On his victory he was made a minister. Thakur wanted his wife to contest from Sagar on a BJP ticket. But when the party rejected his request, he stayed away from the party's campaign. Another minister, Gopal Bhargav, was also lobbying for his son to contest from Sagar. The party leaders have had to cajole Bhargav to endorse the party too, but his campaign has lacked enthusiasm. The BJP has finally fielded Lakshminarayan Yadav from Sagar who changed several parties in the past ten years. Yadav is finding the going tough against Govind Rajput, a dynamic Congress candidate. In Bhind the BJP has fielded Bhagirath Prasad who spurned the Congress ticket and defected to its fold. The sitting MP, Ashok Argal, kept away from the campaign after being ignored. Congress candidate Imarti Devi, an MLA from Dabra has steadily made the contest tougher for Prasad. State BJP president Narendra Singh Tomar, who switched from Morena to Gwalior, has ruffled the feathers of some party colleagues with the change. However, Gwalior has become a matter of prestige with the BJP going all out for Tomar. Scindia and Rahul Gandhi have cast their weight behind the Congress candidate Ashok Singh, who has contested the seat unsuccessfully twice.

Sushma Defends Her Seat Against a Reinforced Congress The dramatic rise in polling during the final phase aroused expectations in the BJP camp. Vidisha, the key constituency that went to poll on April 24 saw a staggering 20.54 per cent rise in voting compared to 2009 general elections. The leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj is defending her seat against a reinforced Congress which is also banking on the voter’s renewed enthusiasm. In 2009 the BJP got a walkover when Rajkumar Patel of the Congress failed to submit crucial documents before the returning official. With a

voter turnout of 45.09 per cent Swaraj had recorded a 389, 844-vote triumph. This year Patel did join the fray only to pull out in favour of Laxman Singh, the official nominee of the Congress. Despite a high voting percentage of over 65.63, Swaraj can’t be too sure of her prospects. Equations have changed since assembly elections when eight segments of Vidisha parliamentary constituency recorded an overall gain 164, 748 votes for the BJP with a much higher turnout of over 70 per cent. The Congress could still win three of the eight segments then. There are fears of sabotage in both the Congress and BJP camps.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi during a roadshow (PTI photo)

The third phase covered the 10 seats of Nimar-Malwa belt which is largely a fertile agrarian stretch. This year’s unseasonal rain and hail damage turned into a political issue for both parties. The high voter turnout in the region is being interpreted by both camps to suit their political convenience. Shivraj Singh, a big time farmer, was quick to sense the political consequences of the natural calamity and blamed the Centre for noncooperation while turning visits to farmers into photo opportunities. Standing crops in 47 out 51 districts were affected by heavy rains and hail stones. The ruling party’s strategy was to announce a quick assistance of Rs 2,000 crore to the farmers to win them over while shifting the blame at the Centre.

The Congress debunked the plan by pointing out that the farmers were not compensated even for the heavy losses when winter crops were damaged before the assembly election. The central team that visited the affected areas in Nimar and Malwa foiled the state government’s plans to humour the farmer by announcing compensation packages and buying out the affected crops at a decent price. With the election code coming into force the state government wasn’t able to do much about it. The BJP is now unable to take the farmers’ support for granted. Alarmed BJP mobilised its resources to bring the voter to the polling booth in the third phase. The result was dramatic. All the constituencies recorded a high turnout. Most pollsters expect this to favour the BJP even though traditionally high turnouts point to a vote against incumbency. The Congress already held six of the ten seats in the region. However, infighting dogs both parties. The Congress failed to get the desired support from the sitting MP Basori Singh who was denied ticket in Mandla. The party candidate from Damoh Mahendra Pratap Singh also complained of sabotage by district party officials. In Bhopal P C Sharma failed to get the support of Arif Aqueel, the strong minority leader. In Betul the party replaced its candidate Rahul Chouhan to accommodate Ajay Shah who defected to the party from BJP. Chauhan and his Korku tribe stayed away from campaign. Gajendra Singh Rajukhedi was denied ticket from Dhar and was not seen campaigning for Umang Singhar who also faced a challenge from his cousin Dr Hemlata Dhand contesting on AAP ticket. The BJP has its worries about candidates in Bhind, Damoh, Khajuraho, Mandsaur, Hoshangabad and Dhar. At Bhind and Hoshangabad the party fielded candidates who were lured into the party from the Congress on the election eve antagonising the original aspirants. Elsewhere the resistance was due to candidates being perceived as outsiders. <

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

31


MAHARASHTRA

BJP-SENA HOPE RISES ON THE WANING LOT OF CONGRESS-NCP The peculiar nature of polling in Maharashtra might have muddled most of the poll predictions. High voter turnout and missing names in voters’ list are bound to affect the verdict. Even otherwise the changed electoral discourse on the eve of the poll like the strident communal tone and tenor of BJP-Shiv Sena leaders on the one hand and branding of Modi as a Hitler by the Congress on other, might have influenced voter choices. By Lokayat Correspondent

Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan with his son arrives to cast his vote for Lok Sabha polls in Karad (PTI photo)

32

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

xperiencing a double antiincumbency in Maharashtra—15 years of the state government and 10 years of the Centre-- the ruling Congress-NCP combine faced a formidable challenge in the just concluded poll. The BJP and Shiv Sena made blistering attacks on the ruling alliance, charging it with nonperformance and pervasive corruption. However, the ruling alliance was able to shift the political discourse to the communalism and fascism of the BJPShiv Sena combine. However, the anger against the Congress’ record of corruption

E

was not totally off-set by the defence of leaders like Manmohan Singh and Prithviraj Chavan known for their personal integrity. The rejuvenated SenaBJP ties and rising strength of the Modi wave made matters worse for the ruling alliance. But the news at the end of polling on April 24 was confounding: there was high voter turnout even as there was the reported deletion of more than six million voters’ names across the state. The situation exploded into a raging controversy with demands ranging from re-poll in all the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies to a thorough CBI inquiry. The Election Commissioner HS Brahma was forced to admit possible lapses and tender an apology, but the demand for repoll was rejected. Mumbai has seen a huge jump of more than 10 percent in voter turn-out compared to 2009—for the first time in the last 15 years it crossed the 50 percent mark—yet it is well below the national average. The Muslim turnout went up even more, indicating a backlash of the Modi wave. Most political observers believe that the high turnout has gone against the ruling combine. Chavan, however, has shrugged it off saying that the higher turnout should not be linked to anti-incumbency; it only reflects an increase in the voters’ awareness. More and more middle class people are evincing interest in politics. The lapses were flagrant in Mumbai, where 55 percent people lived in slums; and these slum-dwellers’ votes could have been bought by liquor and cash. On the other hand, top corporate leaders like Deepak Parekh and some Bollywood stars could not vote because their names didn’t


MAHARASHTRA

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during an election campaign rally at Kalyan in Thane (PTI photo)

figure in the voters’ list. Some political outfits and NGOs have alleged conspiracy, as names are missing in bulk in several pockets of Mumbai and elsewhere in the state. Kirit Somaiya, BJP’s Mumbai North-East candidate, said that 50,000 new voters, allegedly Congress supporters, were added in Shivaji Nagar assembly segment coming under his constituency, while his 50,000 core supporters’ names were missing in other areas. Similarly, MA Khalid, general secretary of the All India Milli Council has lodged complaint saying that names of large numbers of Muslims in Mumbra were missing from the list. The firebrand state BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis has accused that some private BPOs entrusted with the work of electoral rolls revision have done selective deletions and additions with a view to benefit the ruling combine. Apparently huge sums of money may have changed hands.

Sharad Too Became Strident The NCP supremo Sharad Pawar in the last days of electioneering had become strident; he took on Modi and drew striking parallel about his Hitlerian traits. He questioned the tall claims about the so-called Gujarat model of development and said growth had actually slowed in Gujarat after Modi became chief minister. Chief minister Prithviraj Chauhan said in an interview

that ‘the RSS is fighting the election by projecting a fascist and dictator like Modi. It is no secret that the RSS is in favour of presidential system of government. It does not believe in parliamentary democracy.’ Whatever the outcome of this election to the Lok Sabha, it would have immense bearing on the state assembly election slated to be held in coming October. The nature of the politics in Maharashtra is different from many other states. Majority of the legislators and MPs here are engaged in business, ranging from commerce, industry, real estate to road and building construction. For example, 30 out of 35 MLAs elected from the Mumbai region are builders or contractors. Several top politicians with diverse political colours have joint businesses. Hence, there does not exist in the state an opposition in the

snubbed by the BJP, he kept himself away from Rahul Gandhi’s much publicized rally in Mumbai, despite committing to it. It created apprehensions about his intentions. On the other hand, the Mahayuti, grand alliance of the BJP-Sena, SSS and the RPI of Ramdas Athawale has raised high hopes for the opposition. The apparent weakening of Raj Thackeray’s MNS also presages well for the BJPSena combine. Despite resource crunch, the AAP could make its presence felt in Mumbai and a few other big cities. In Mumbai it could make some flutter among slum dwellers. It promised to increase the minimum size of a house in the slum redevelopment schemes from existing 269 sft to 450 sft. It raised voice against the existing private builder-centric model under which public land is given

The Aam Aadmi Party fielded candidates in all the 48 constituencies. But it is expected to show marked presence only in select few cities like Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and so on. Its candidates made the contest triangular in about half a dozen constituencies. real sense of the term; one can often find a Congress or NCP leader having a joint business venture with a BJP, Sena or MNS leader and so on. Recent scams like Adarsh, irrigation and others have shown that corruption is far more complex and structured in Maharashtra and often the ruling clique and members in the Opposition can be found in the same camp sharing the spoils. Initially the situation was far more hot for the Congress-NCP combine as they lacked proper consultation and coordination. Before they stitched a prepoll alliance, Pawar was seen hobnobbing with the BJP, hoping to enter the NDA. Even after he was

AAP candidate Medha Patkar shows his inked finger after casting her vote for Lok Sabha polls (PTI photo)

to private builders. It sought regularisation of all slums in Mumbai and promised to build one crore tenements. Anti-corruption activist Anjali Damania, Medha Patkar, Mayank Gandhi, and Meera Sanyal are some of the high-profile candidates who were able to draw good crowds. Interestingly Anna Hazare extended his support to Medha Patkar. Anjali Damania painted Nitin Gadkari as a poster boy of corruption in Maharashtra, while Gadkari asked for votes in the name of development and job creation. He took special care not to involve Modi in his campaign as his constituency had good Muslim, Dalit and OBC presence.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

33


HIMACHAL PRADESH

VIRBHADRA, DHUMAL’S BATTLE OF SUPREMACY State BJP leaders are brimming with confidence that the party is going to turn tables on the Congress by riding on the Modi-wave, which rival parties say is a paid media creation. The corruption charges flow thick and fast against both the BJP and Congress top leaders, but the voters are expected to choose the smaller evil….

CM of Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh along with party workers at an election rally in Una (PTI photo)

By Lokayat Correspondent

imachal highly literate and comparatively economically better off witnessed its own share of acrimonious election campaigning. Not only corruption charges were blared out ad nauseam, the desperate BJP went a step further by issuing threats that Virbhadra Singh government would be overthrown after the NDA government is formed in the

H 34

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

Centre under the leadership of Narendra Modi. ‘Virbhadra is facing serious charges of corruption and he is in the office due to soft-pedaling by investigating agencies and once the UPA government was out of power all charges against him would be investigated expeditiously and he would be forced to quit, Dhumal said. Obviously an infuriated Virbhadra slammed the BJP leader’s repeated such assertions saying Dhumal has little

knowledge of the constitution and has become ‘mentally unstable’. ‘Elected governments can't be dissolved easily’, he said. Later Dhumal amended his statement amidst furious uproar in the media that his government would fall under its own weight, and we would not dislodge it. Political observers feel such aggressive utterances are a sort of attempts by the BJP to shake the loyalty factor of the bureaucracy so that it does not go out of the way to help Congress


HIMACHAL PRADESH win the elections. Past records show that ruling parties in Himachal always enjoy an edge over the opposition in the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP was in power in Himachal in 2009 when it won three out of the total four seats. The Congress party was in power in 2004 when it won a similar number. State BJP leaders are brimming with confidence that the party is going to turn tables on the Congress by riding on the Modi-wave, which rival parties say is a paid media creation. However, the BJP looks energised and not only making every effort to fuel its cadre with an offensive tempo, but also doing some real hard work by organising public meetings across the state. The party leaders as well as cadres look sanguine. State leaders have even started making calculations as to who may get what in case the NDA forms government in the Centre. Most partymen expect to get two ministerial berths to its victorious candidates from the state just like the UPA gave to Anand Sharma and Virbhadra Singh. This perception is being aggressively propagated by the BJP in the campaign for Shanta Kumar from Kangra constituency and Anurag Thakur from Hamirpur constituency. The Lok Sabha election is also being seen as battle of supremacy between the current and former chief minister—Congress’ Virbhadra Singh and BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal. As the two continued their bitter war of words, the attacks are getting more and more personal. Family members of both the stalwarts are in fray. While Dhumal’s son is trying for hat-trick from Hamirpur, Virbhadra wife Pratibha Singh is re-contesting from Mandi seat.

Criminal cases against top leaders Both Virbhadra and Dhumal have registered criminal cases against each other when in the power. This time Virbhadra, who is chief minister for his record sixth stint, bowled a googly ahead of the Lok Sabha elections to corner the BJP by giving sanction to

speed up the probe against BJP MP Anurag Thakur-administered Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and his father Dhumal. The case concerns alleged wrong-doing in allotting land to the HPCA for constructing a players' residential complex near the picturesque stadium in Dharamsala, The HPCA is also accused of converting itself from a society to a company. The eighteen people who have been named in the vigilance charge sheet include Dhumal and Thakur. A shocked BJP accused the government of tarnishing the HPCA's image with party spokesperson Ganesh Dutt said the chief minister was using the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau to settle scores with the political rivals during the Lok Sabha elections. He said Virbhadra Singh was pressuring officials

Congress government had opened thousands of schools in Himachal Pradesh whereas the BJP government under P K Dhumal closed down 175 schools. Voting for the four Lok Sabha seats will take place on May 7. For the last 47 years Himachal Pradesh has remained a two-party system. The BSP, CPM and Himachal Lokhit Party tried to make inroads in the assembly elections in 2012, but did not succeed. Himachal has, however, seen powerful independents who got substantial number of votes. In 2012 elections the vote share of independents has been 15.87 percent in the seats contested though only 5 of them could win. The HLP contested on 36 seats, but could win only one securing 4.52 percent votes in all the seats contested. This

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal left, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi centre, BJP president Rajnath Singh Right

to register false cases against Dhumal, the HPCA's patron-in-chief. The debate on Gujarat model of development versus Himachal model is also echoing in certain quarters after Congress leaders started urging people in their election meetings not to blindly believe in what was being said of Gujarat. They insist that in many respects Himachal has done better than Gujarat. Himachal ranks second in literacy after Kerala in the country while Gujarat is far behind in this respect. Virbhadra Singh underscored another point that each state’s requirements are different, therefore, Gujarat model may not be suitable everywhere. Virbhadra Singh doesn’t forget to remind that the

time Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the newest player, is fielding candidates on all four seats and the HLP has announced its support to it. The way both the major parties BJP and Congress are facing corruption charges, it is expected to make some impact on the electorate. Political observers feel it has the potential to make the contest triangular at least in two seats, Kangra and Hamirpur. Though the AAP campaign suffers from lack of resources, still both, the BJP and Congress are not taking it lightly in view of its stunning show in Delhi even while dismissing it as a non-serious party whose victory in Delhi was only a flash in the pan.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

35


HARYANA

POST POLL INFIGHTING INTENSIFIES IN HARYANA With Lok Sabha elections seen as semi-final before Haryana assembly elections due in October this year, post-poll turmoil in the political parties has started sooner than expected.

AAPs MP candidate from Gurgaon parliamentary constituency Yogendra Yadav with party workers during the Jhaadu Yatra (PTI photo)

By Jyoti Thakur

hile infighting in the ruling Congress is coming into the open to shift the onus of defeat that is staring the party in the face in some of the constituencies, the opposition BJP is facing trouble with its ally Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) which is demanding ouster of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) from the NDA for violating the coalition dharma and campaigning for the rival party Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). The election outcome may vitiate the party atmosphere further in the Congress, the trailer of which is

W 36

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

available in the form of blame game in the backdrop of the election surveys giving fewer than expected seats to the Congress. Former union minister Kumari Selja has become the first victim of the flak for causing negative sentiments against the party in the runup to the polls. As she had opted out of the contest by getting elected to Rajya Sabha, Haryana Congress leaders claim her exit from the electoral scene had sent out a wrong signal to non-Jat voters in the state as a result of which a marginal force like the BJP may benefit. Ambala Congress candidate Raj Kumar Valmiki has publically blamed Selja for the feared defeat. An infuriated Valmiki even alleged that Selja telephoned her

supporters asking them to vote for his rival. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Action should be taken against her for sabotaging the party prospects in Ambala. This is not just working against me, but against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi who reposed their faith in me to contest the election,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; he added. Valmiki sent a letter to the party high command, accusing 35 Congress leaders from the Ambala constituency, including two sitting MLAs, of not supporting him during the election campaign. Hitting back, these Congress leaders who owe allegiance to Selja, have decided to apprise party high command of the deleterious politics allegedly being indulged in by Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee president


HARYANA Ashok Tanwar. This infighting in Ambala appears to be just a hint of what is in store ahead once the unfavourable results are announced. Tanwar claims to have received feedback from at least four of the total 10 parliamentary constituencies that witnessed internal strife. He fears that it might have marred party’s prospects in these four constituencies. ‘What to talk about others, in my own constituency (Sirsa), some people from my own party tried to spoil my prospects, but failed miserably,’ he said. ‘I have written to all block and district office bearers to give me in writing about their observation on the election and also grievances by May 1,’ said Tanwar hinting that action might be taken against those who had worked against the party. The BJP is having its own share of turmoil as deep fissures in the NDA in Haryana came out in the open less than

a week after the state saw a record 73 percent turnout of voters in the election. The HJC asked the NDA to expel SAD from the alliance for canvassing in favour of the INLD. In a letter to NDA chairman L K Advani, HJC chief Kuldeep Bishnoi has said that during the campaigning, SAD openly campaigned against BJP and HJC with Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal ‘sharing stage with our staunch opponent, the INLD.’

AAP demanded repoll in 103 booths in Gurgaon he fledgling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had to taste all the vices and indignities that are associated with the Indian electoral politics, tainted with cash for votes in very poor sections, caste loyalties and money, muscle and media power. With huge advertisement budget the BJP spent crores in publicity overdrive in favour of Modi throughout the state. The political observers feel Haryana election results may not offer any good luck in terms of seats to the AAP, but it will have to be seen what share of votes it gets. It raised shrill voice against big names like BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Modi, Ambani, Adani and others, and naturally faced fierce retaliation, but was muzzled by the cacophony of allegedly paid media. It failed to send across the message as its campaign remained marred by acute lack of funds, poor logistic resources and volunteers. They found it difficult to make any visible dent in rural areas which remained the mainstay of established parties. Yogendra Yadav, a prominent leader of the party and candidate from Gurgaon alleged rigging and demanded repoll in at least 103 booths across his constituency, where bogus votes were allegedly cast by workers of all the three major parties—the BJP, Congress and INLD. The party has demanded CCTV footage of these booths from the Election Commission. It has accused of booth capturing, multiple vote-casting, intimidation and women not being allowed to vote. But before the polls, rivals even managed staging black flag demonstrations and an attack to disrupt 3-day whirlwind campaign of Arvind Kejriwal in the state. As a political show of disenchantment with APP, a rebellion sort of thing also happened in Gurgaon where many district office bearers tendered their resignation in full public view to Arvind Kejriwal at the Ramlila Maidan in Gurgaon.<

T

Bishnoi has argued in his letter that those acts were not only immoral and unethical but also contrary to the fundamental idea behind formation of the NDA. By openly opposing the BJP and the HJC, the coalition partner SAD portrayed the alliance in the bad light. In his letter, Bishnoi referred obliquely the fact that two top INLD leaders Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay were behind bars for their involvement in the teachers' recruitment scam, and therefore the NDA should not have

permitted SAD to share stage with the INLD leaders. ‘In light of the above grave acts of omission on the part of SAD, a show-cause notice should be issued to them seeking explanation as to why they should not be expelled and ousted from NDA,’ demanded Bishnoi. The Badals however maintain that they have old family ties with Chautalas. The SAD wanted the BJP to dump HJC in favor of the INLD for a winning combination but the party high command didn’t break its alliance with HJC. As the INLD has promised to support BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and its support could come handy in reaching the majority mark in the next Lok Sabha, the BJP has chosen to downplay the HJC’s criticism of the SAD.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

37


PUNJAB

AAP MAKES PUNJAB RESULTS UNCERTAIN

Congress candidate Capt Amarinder Singh during an election rally at Rajasansi near Amritsar (PTI photo)

Unlike in the past when it used to be a two-horse race between traditional rivals the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP and the Congress in Punjab, the scene suddenly changed this time round with the surprise surge in favour of new entrant the Aam Admi Party. The Congress strategy to field its stalwarts like Captain Amarinder, leader of the opposition in the assembly Sunil Jakhar, PCC president Pratap Singh Bajwa and union minister Ambika Soni has clearly paid well as it unsettled the Akali-BJP game plan.

By Lokayat Correspondent

ith 70. 39 percent voting for the Lok Sabha seats in Punjab on 30 April, voters nearly broke the earlier record of 71.13 percent polling set way back in 1967 general elections. But unlike in the past when it used to be a two-horse race between traditional rivals the Shiromani Akali Dal–BJP and the Congress, nobody is sure of the outcome of these elections mainly due to the surprise surge seen in favour of new entrant the Aam Admi Party (AAP). The uncertainty can be gauged from the fact that after the campaigning came to an end on 28 April, it became clear that the AAP will not just dent the two major political entities but is likely to pick up a few seats as well. Deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal publicly conceded that the AAP could pick up 15 to 20 per cent of the votes. While three AAP candidates, comedian-actor Mr Bhagwant Mann (Sangrur), lawyer-activist HS Phoolka (Ludhiana) and cardiologist-social activist Dharamveer Gandhi (Patiala)

W

38

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi with party candidate Manpreet Singh Badal and other party leaders at an election rally

gave tough fight to both the main parties in their respective seats, AAP candidates in at least five other seats are also expected to damage the prospects of other candidates. This is despite Punjab not being on AAP’s radar. A big reason for this is that no one anticipated the strong undercurrent of anti-incumbency in Punjab. While the people may have been disenchanted with the United Progressive Alliance and its Sikh prime minister’s 10-year-rule at the Centre, there is even bigger anger against the highhanded ways of the ruling SAD-BJP combine in Punjab.

The AAP has stepped into this space, offering not just its attractive new style of clean politics but captured the imagination of the Sikh voters by reaching out to them on issues like injustice of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, agrarian distress and everyday corruption. Even Sikh hardliners came in the open in AAP’s support. The emergence of AAP and Congress’ surprise decision to field its stalwarts like Captain Amarinder, leader of the opposition in the assembly Sunil Jakhar, PCC president Pratap Singh Bajwa and union minister Ambika Soni have clearly


PUNJAB unsettled the Akali-BJP game plan. Issues like easy availability of habit forming drugs, prices of construction material sky-rocketing, imposition of property tax, regularization fee, lack of basic facilities in villages, cleanliness and unusable link roads pushed the ruling alliance against the wall with the Congress and AAP turning heat on the SAD-BJP over the alleged patronisation of SAD leaders to the drug and mining mafia and their arm twisting tactics. The implementation of property tax and regularisation fee in urban areas has affected the SAD prospects in not just largely urban constituencies like Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala but in smaller ‘mandi’ towns like Fatehgarh Sahib, Bathinda and Ferozepur as well. In rural areas, though this time there are no complaints about power cuts, people rue the lack of basic facilities. They demand street lights, brick-paved galis and closed sewage systems. The Akalis remained at pains to explain their achievements: six and four-laning of highways; improved road connectivity; no power shortage, arrival of IT industry to create jobs and insurance of traders. The Akalis largely banked on their sops during campaigning, taking credit for the Rs 1 a kg atta dal scheme; free cycles to school-going girls; old age pension and shagun to Dalit families. The party is also hoping that people will vote for the ‘winners’ and in the end, the Modi factor will sway informed and educated voters in the largely urban constituencies. ‘Imagine how much the state will benefit if the finance minister is from here?’ chief minister Parkash Singh Badal stressed in his public rallies referring to the possibility of Arun Jaitley, the BJP candidate in Amritsar, becoming the next FM. Being on the defensive, the Badal government towards the end of the campaign was forced to issue advertisements highlighting its resolve to fight the drug menace and putting the blame for imposition of property tax on

the Congress. Some SAD leaders, including Badal’s daughter-in-law and sitting MP from Bathinda Harsimrat Kaur, even made public statements asking voters for forgiveness and not taking revenge in this election. The fact that BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed public rallies even in Bathinda and Amritsar, the supposed strongholds of the ruling combine, is an

in the state where the party had won 8 of 13 seats in 2009. The aggressive campaigning by the Congress managed to push Akali’s on the backfoot as is the case in Bhatinda constituency from where Harsimrat, wife of deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal is in tough battle with an estranged family member Manpreet Badal who is a candidate of the Congress-PPP alliance. The day

The aggressive campaigning by the Congress and the AAP managed to push Akalis on the backfoot. Issues like easy availability of habit forming drugs, prices of construction material sky-rocketing, imposition of property tax, regularization fee, lack of basic facilities in villages, poor sanitation and unusable link roads pushed the ruling alliance against the wall.

Bollywood actress Poonam Dhillon during an eletion campaign in supoort of BJP candidate Arun Jaitley in Amritsar (PTI photo)

indication of the close fight most seats are witnessing in the state. The Congress’ strategy to put up its strong leaders appears to have worked well as the move has lifted the morale of party workers. This is why amid reports of Congress doing badly in many part of the country in the parliamentary election, Punjab could offer a silver lining to the party as it could do reasonably well this time also

Harsimrat filed her nomination paper, her brother revenue minister Bikramjeet Singh Majithia became her cover candidate. But the latter was publically snubbed by chief minister Badal for stepping out of Amritsar (where he was supposed to campaign for Jaitley) without his permission. It served as a proof that Akali’ were aware of the tough challenge in these elections.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

39


BIHAR

WILL BIHAR LOSE ITS SECULAR MAINSTAY? Several national political movements, whether fight against Emergency or for social justice, had their origin in Bihar. The core of the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s politics has always been secular. But now for the first time, with the ascendance of the BJP in its political firmament, this basic feature appears to be threatened. Will the people of Bihar allow the communal streak to take root in the state? By Umanath

ver since the JD (U) and the BJP separated a year ago after 17 years of cohabitation, political equations in Bihar have undergone tectonic changes paving way for utterly intolerant and divisive forces to dominate the life and discourse much like in the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh where hideous communal riots in Muzaffarnagar polarised people along religious lines. It appears to be happening in the name of development in a state where Muslims make up around 17 percent of the population and are amongst the most backward like Dalits. When the BJPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s PM pick Narendra Modi accused the Centre of promoting a pink revolution (instead of a green or white one) which

E

40

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

endangered the cattle wealth and the raucous BJP leader Giriraj Singh inflamed communal passions ahead of the poll by dubbing Modi-baiters as anti-nationals who should be sent to Pakistan, the ulterior motive was to divide the people and extract maximum electoral dividends. It can be a subject of research as to how a politically enlightened society as in Bihar, known for espousing religious liberalism and social harmony, allows divisive forces to take roots. Bihar has always been a place where orthodoxy, bigotry and extremist views were challenged and rejected by people. The historic JP movement started in this very

soil. Even socialist and student movements received their inspiration and early momentum from here. The nasty communal divide became possible even when CM Nitish Kumar was widely appreciated for his inclusive approach in development efforts and good governance during nine years of his rule. His government left behind all others including Gujarat which is being projected as a model for the country, achieving more than 18 percent average annual economic growth during the last nine years. Kumarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s social programmes to bring the poorest of the poor among both Hindus and Muslims to enjoy fruits of mainstream development brought


BIHAR accolades from far and wide. Lalu too, despite his disastrous innings when development and governance were totally ignored, never let the communal forces grow during 15 years of his rule. Barring a few stray incidents the state had never seen such communal polarisation, which according to secularists, have the potential to inflict long-term damage to society, far more

BJP leader Giriraj Singh, against whom three FIRs were registered at Deogarh, Bokaro and Patna for his hate speeches telling those who opposed Narendra Modi should be sent to Pakistan. A court had even issued non-bailable warrant against him.

than the ‘jungle raj’ Lalu’s political adversaries accused him of.

What sustains communal forces? Division among secular people provided ground for communal forces to feed and grow and eventually prove fatal to parties nursing the country’s basic values. All efforts by the Congress to stitch a grand alliance including the JDU and RJD came to naught when Nitish and Lalu refused to see eye to eye. The possible emergence of Yadav pride gave Lalu the confidence to go either solo or with the Congress. And the winnability factor brought Muslims closer to the former CM who was earlier a darling of the minorities, giving him a decisive edge over his arch rival Nitish Kumar. The Yadavs and Muslims constituting around 28 percent of the population have become a formidable vote bank. But the most important boost that

Lalu received was when he stitched an alliance with the Congress and the NCP. It further consolidated Muslim votes in favour of the alliance. Electorally the Congress might not have been successful for the last 25 years, but even in the 2009 parliamentary elections it had garnered 10 percent votes. Both came together after they split in 2009, having realised how they faltered fighting separately, getting just six out of Bihar's 40 seats—the RJD four and the Congress two. In comparison, the BJP-JD-U had swept the election with 34 seats—the BJP getting 12 and the JD-U 22. However, there is no denying the fact that Muslims did appreciate Nitish for his courage to sever ties with the BJP on the issue of Modi becoming PM candidate, and also for his administrative acumen and development efforts which after a long time gave a ray of hope to the people of the state who otherwise had become completely disillusioned with the state of affairs during Lalu’s period. But the fear psychosis that Modi and RSS created in the minds of the minorities forced them to go to the RJD of Lalu, as Nitish appeared too weak and pale to withstand the communal surge. Ramvilas Paswan gave the last jolt to the very secular politics which he had always favoured, by deserting Lalu and going to honeymoon with the BJP. On his part, the decision was purely a personal one: to shape his son’s political future as his LJP had become a spent force.<

Will Nitish survive Modi as the PM? ill the Nitish Kumar government surviving on a wafer thin majority remain afloat after the Lok Sabha election (and Modi occupies the high seat) is a million dollar question. The buzz is that it will spell trouble for the Bihar government along with those of Uttarakhand and Jharkhand. The speculation is that the BJP would not lose time to cash in on what is claimed to be a Modi wave in the state. Many also argue that the Congress supported state government may fall on its own. The JD-U had recently expelled three women MLAs, further thinning its number in the assembly. Speculation is rife that some fence-sitting legislators in the JD-U are only waiting for a change at the Centre. Sources in the state BJP say that if things go on expected lines there are possibilities of fresh assembly elections later this year instead of 2015 when the term of the present house ends. They also say there is intense pressure from the rank and file of the party to dislodge the Kumar government. <

W

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

41


ODISHA

ALLEGATIONS OF RIGGING POLLS HAUNT NAVEEN Congress stands weakened due to desertions and infighting, while the BJP is riding on the propaganda wave of Modi. Both are vying for the leader of opposition space in the assembly as BJD looks sure to win majority…

Women belonging to the Kandha tribe wait to cast their votes outside a polling station at a village in Kandhamal district on Thursday during third phase of polling for Lok Sabha elections (PTI photo)

By Ashok B Sharma

aveen Patnaik may be sure of bouncing back to power as chief minister of Odisha for the fourth time in succession and win a good number of seats in the Lok Sabha for his party, but he is equally worried about the possibility of his tally declining as compared to the 2009 polls. In the last 2009 polls, Naveen’s BJD had won 103 seats in the 147-member Odisha assembly. This was an increase of 42 seats after it parted its ways with its 10-year old ally, BJP. The BJD managed to get 14 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The numbers had ensured the chief minister a comfortable

N

42

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

position and even helped him to abort a coup staged by his one-time advisor, Pyari Mohan Mahapatra, who could not master enough support to form a breakaway group either. With a view to increase his tally in the current polls for the state assembly and Lok Sabha, Naveen poached key leaders of the Congress party like the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Bhupinder Singh, Nayagarh District Congress President Hemendra Singh, senior Congress leaders like Kamala Das, CLP Secretary Anup Kumar Sai and Hema Gamang, wife of the former Congress Chief Minister Girdhar Gamang. The increase which the BJD is aspiring is only marginal. The party vice president Kalpataru Das has gone on record saying that BJD would get at least 105 seats in the state assembly and increase its tally in the Lok Sabha from 14 to 17. As the Congress party has become weak due to infighting and its

key leaders deserting the party, chances are there for the BJP to increase its strength, banking on anti-incumbency prevalent at places and the ‘Modi’ factor. If the BJP increases its strength to at least 26 in the 147-member state assembly, it would gain the status of a recognised opposition party. BJP had 32 MLAs in the Odisha Assembly in 2004 and had slipped down to 6 in 2009. High voter turn-out in the twophased simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections at 74 percent against 65.3 percent in last general elections in 2009 has added to speculations about the poll outcome as large number of young voters, particularly the first-time voters are known desirous of a change. Women voters have outnumbered men in tribal dominated Kandhamal and Gajapati districts. In at least four out of 13 assembly segments in Ganjam district turnout of women was more. The desperate BJD workers to garner more seats for the party has led to instances of booth capturing and alleged tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs). The Election Commission has ordered re-polling in six booths of Niali assembly segment under Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha constituency, two booths in Keonjhar and one booth in Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency. Both the Congress and the BJP have alleged rigging at various places. ‘Tall claims of having conducted free and fair elections in Odisha are hollow and misleading. There was large scale rigging at many places through BJDbureaucrat nexus,’ Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Jayadeb Jena alleged.<


GUJARAT

DOUBLE WHAMMY FOR MODI Brimming with confidence Modi has been campaigning hard criss-crossing the country, displaying his trade mark aggressiveness and taunt, but he seems to have finally landed in a deep trouble owing to his penchant for flouting election code of conduct and other norms. Secondly, the Manmohan Singh government seems to be serious about setting up a commission to probe into snooping of a young architect girl allegedly done at the behest of Narendra Modi… Meanwhile the girl and her father have approached the Supreme Court to stall the probe. Before that at the suggestion of National Conference and Nationalist Congress Party, the Centre dropped the idea to go ahead and left it on the new government to pursue the matter… By Lokayat Correspondent

JP’s PM aspirant Narendra Modi appears to be landing in deep trouble as the Manmohan Singh government is determined to get the judicial probe done by a serving High Court Judge for illegal surveillance of a woman architect at the alleged behest of Saheb (Narendra Modi). Meanwhile the girl and her father have approached the Supreme Court to stall the probe. Before that at the suggestion of National Conference and Nationalist Congress Party, the Centre dropped the idea to go ahead and left it on the new government to pursue the matter. Adding to the woes, Ahmedabad Police are now geared up to question Modi for showing scant respect for the electoral norms and democratic procedures, when he displayed his party’s symbol and delivered a political speech for as long as 20 minutes outside a polling booth in Ahmedabad after he cast his vote. Curiously his speech was telecast simultaneously on so many channels. Perhaps never in the history of Indian democracy, any PM candidate ever violated the Model Code of Conduct and People's Representation Act the way Modi did. After furious

B

political parties including Congress created uproar seeking his arrest, Ahmedabad Crime Branch was forced to file an FIR against him on the orders of the Election Commission. The tone and tenor of Modi’s speech made on the morning of April 30 was clearly intended to influence the voting patterns across the country for the rest of the day, however, the district administration claimed that the place was not within 100 metres of the polling booth. But it was too feeble an defence to salvage him. If things go worse for Modi, his elections from both the constituencies can be countermanded, as demanded by the Congress. Earlier, the EC had asked the Gujarat chief secretary and DGP to send a compliance report. The EC had also directed that all the TV channels which covered the meeting be proceeded against. However, the BJP asked the EC to review and withdraw its order to lodge an FIR against Modi and stoutly defended him, saying that comments are normally sought from senior politicians when they come out of the polling booth. Arun Jaitley said that even Prof Amartya Sen spoke against Modi after voting and Manmohan Singh too interacted with the media after he cast his vote in

Assam. And so did other leaders. And this is precisely what Modi also did. Modi, on his part, expressed dismay and surprise, saying this is a single FIR in my entire life, he would never forget April 30 when this FIR was registered. The BJP may boast of sweeping Gujarat along with many other states, but ironically the party may lose at least five to six seats in Modi’s own state. Meticulously arousing Gujarati pride, the Modi led BJP government in the state in recent days gave numerous ads in newspapers published from the state, urging the people to vote for a Gujarati to be country’s next PM. However, Congress has an edge from at least six of the total 26 seats. Kheda and Anand are expected to see close fights. Veteran Congress leader Dinsha Patel and union minister Bharatsinh Solanki are fighting respectively from these seats. Union minister Tushar Chaudhary is well poised to come victorious again from the tribal dominated Bardoli seat. Shankarsinh Vaghela, who lost last time by just a few hundred votes, is expected to win from Sabarkantha. Similarly, Somabhai Patel is said to be in a good position from Surendranagar. Besides, Panchmahal and Dahod seats are also witnessing close contest and Congress appears to dominate the scene.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

43


RAJASTHAN

WILL RAJE REPEAT MIRACLE OF 2013 ? Rajasthan is important for the BJP to fulfil its dream of making Modi the PM. But within just four odd months, the mood of electorate is showing signs of change. The high decibel massive propaganda and extensive campaigning of Raje has succeeded how much will be known only on May 16.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot during a road show in support of party candidate Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, in Alwar, Rajasthan (PTI photo)

By Abha Sharma

ill history repeat itself in Rajasthan? Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the talk of the town at small tea shops, offices and even households where husbands remain glued to the TV sets not wanting to miss even a bit of the hustle and bustle of the poll mania. The high

W

44

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

voter turnout again is a point of discussion. Does it indicate a clean sweep? The state has already voted in two phases and the fate of candidates is now sealed in EVMs. All eyes are set on some of the key seats like Barmer and Jaipur where interesting battle is on cards. The battle in Barmer was never so stormy before. A triangular contest between veteran BJP rebel

Jaswant Singh, a recent turncoat from Congress Colonel Sonaram and Congress partyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sitting MP Harish Choudhury! Curiously Singh who hails from village Jasol never contested a single election from home turf all his life. Now he returns to his roots, unfortunately as a rebel. His son Manvendra Singh sitting BJP MLA from Sheo assembly seat stands suspended for campaigning for his


RAJASTHAN

Better halves emerged star campaigner etter halves have really shone like star campaigners. Be it Gayatri Rathore, wife of Rajyavardhan Singh or Kalpana Singh wife of Ijyaraj Singh or Ambika Singh wife of Jitendra Singh, Neeharika, wife of Dushyant Singh or Sangeeta Bijlani, wife of cricketer Azharuddin. Even the star campaigner of Jaswant Singh in Barmer is none other than his bahurani Chitra Singh.<

B

father. Singh too was suspended by the saffron party following his resolve to contest from Barmer. The Jaipur rural seat is no less interesting with key contest between former ace shooter Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore of BJP and former union minister Dr C P Joshi of the Congress. The shooter turned politician says his target is ‘Modi Sarkar ko Laana’. On the other hand, former professor is trying to read the psychology of voters in his new constituency. Joshi who won the last Lok sabha election from Bhilwara changed his constituency for not being able to fulfil his pledge to resolve water problem in Bhilwara. ‘My credibility is more important,’ he says. Though he was able to get a plan worth Rs 2,000 crore sanctioned and

work is underway but ‘real water’ is still beyond the reach of people, due to pending wildlife clearance, he says.

Voter Turnout and Trend so far The state had recorded an unprecedented over 75 per cent polling in recent assembly polls and the healthy trend continued in Lok Sabha as well with 63.02 percent voters casting their votes for all the 25 Lok

Sabha seats. The previous trends show that the ruling party in Rajasthan normally gets majority of seats in Lok Sabha. When the Congress was in power in 2009, it bagged 20 seats and BJP could get only four. Before that in 2004, when BJP came to power in Rajasthan, it got 21 and Congress got stuck at four. The trend, however, did not make chief minister Vasundhara Raje complacent. She made whirlwind tour

BJP fielded only one woman in Rajasthan he Congress party took the lead in fielding women candidates in Rajasthan this time. The BJP’s one woman candidate is Santosh Ahlawat on Jhunjhunu seat while six female faces are in the fray from Congress including former chairperson of National Women’s Commission Dr Girija Vyas.<

T

of the whole state and really had to sweat it out in Barmer since it became the most keenly watched seat. It is most crucial for her to win the Barmer seat to prove her political acumen. However, it is not Barmer alone where her selection of candidates faces litmus test. In Sikar, she had to face party workers’ ire for denying ticket to former minister Subhash Maharia, who like Jaswant Singh has entered the fray as independent.

Other Key contestants

Jhalawar Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje after casting her vote for Lok Sabha polls at Topkhana school (PTI photo)

The Congress party on the other hand has a tough task ahead to retain its Ajmer seat where PCC chief Sachin Pilot has reentered the fray, Alwar

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

45


RAJASTHAN

Rahul Punctured Modi Balloon ongress faced difficulty in facing the propaganda barrage of BJP chief minister Vasundhara Raje. It was only in the last leg of campaigning that the Congress regained some confidence when vice president Rahul Gandhi to the relief of Congressmen adopted an aggressive posture. In Karauli in a hard hitting speech Rahul defined Modi’s development model as toffee model. BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during an election campaign rally (PTI photo) Appearing to take cue from AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s assertions, he made a blistering attack on Modi saying he gave Rs 45,000 crore worth of land to an industrialist in just Rs 300 crore. Land of poor farmers was given at Re 1 per meter. You can buy only a toffee here in one rupee. He also defined the current avatar of the BJP under Modi and Rajnath Singh, which would have very much sidelined even Atal Bihari Vajpayee if he had been in politics like Advani and Jaswant Singh. He mocked the BJP manifesto as copied from the Congress one. ‘They have promised one rank one pension, but we have already implemented it. They talk of building a manufacturing corridor; we have already started working on this.’ He warned people to be careful against the oft-repeated Modi’s assertion that he only wanted to become a chowkidar by suggesting that chowkidars steal also. Local Congress leaders also increased their attacks on the failure of Raje government reminding them how the Raje government had stopped free medicine scheme of the Gehlot government. Rahul Gandhi came to Rajasthan four times on the campaign trail. He addressed meetings in Devli, Jhunjhunu, Udaipur and Karauli and held a successful road-show in Alwar. The acting Congress president of the state Jugal Kabra told Lokayat that farmers are upset at new government’s antifarmer attitude. Farmers have been denied an additional Rs 150 per quintal for wheat in addition to the minimum support price which Gehlot government had announced. Independent observers however say that BJP crescendo of the last assembly elections has only mildly declined and the Congress stands any chance only in 7-8 constituencies out of the total 25. There are then three constituencies—Sikar, Kota and Jaipur where fledgling Aam Aadmi Party had also been visible. But overall performance of AAP is expected to be dismal in the state. The party neither could enroll volunteers nor collect funds to carry out the campaign. It did not get any support from Delhi either. Even Arvind Kejriwal did not visit though several requests were made to him. AAP leaders admitted that it was truly difficult to convince people why Arvind Kejriwal suddenly resigned in Delhi in the face of orchestrated combined propaganda of the Congress and the BJP on this issue.<

C

46

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

where Rahul Gandhi’s close aide and union minister of state Jitendra Singh tries his luck again. In Shekhawati, Congress has relief on the older ties with Ola and Mirdha families giving tickets to Rajbala Ola and Dr Jyoti Mirdha from Jhunjhunu and Nagaur respectively. Congress decided to take a chance with former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin tries to play a new innings on the Tonk-Sawai Madhopur seat. Interestingly, BJP’s candidate Sukhbir Singh Janupuria is also a paratrooper on this seat. Dausa seat also faces a very interesting triangular contest between three Meena candidates. Incidentally it is a direct fight between brothers-former union minister Namo Narain Meena of Congress, and Harish Mina, former DGP—and Dr Kirori Lal Meena of RJP. Chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant Singh tries for a hattrick from Jhalawar. He can expect a smooth ride with his mother at the helm of affairs in the state, and a background of Raje’s earlier five consecutive terms from the seat. On the other hand, on the neighbourhood seat of Kota in the heart of Hadoti, Ijyaraj Singh of the royal family faces an uphill task against BJP’s sitting MLA Om Birla. Though Ijyaraj holds a very good image and is known as an unassuming and accessible royal, it is a neck and neck fight due to the apparent Modi wave. After the assembly debacle, Congress veterans seem to have neglected Rajasthan. Congress president Sonia Gandhi just had one rally and Rahul Gandhi visited only twice, the second time to hold a road show for Jitendra Singh in Alwar. The first rally in Deoli, Tonk was wrapped up in just six minutes. On the other hand, the BJP has had lot of rallies and public meetings including 3D hologram meetings of party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.<


WEST BENGAL

Firebrand Mamata Banerjee is once again out to show her mettle in West Bengal where simultaneously she takes on the CPM, Congress and the BJP, and charges them to be hand-in-glove against her. Her tantrums are as usual against everybody including the Election Commission. The Saradha scam has dented her image and popularity considerably, but she is confident of putting up a better show than in 2009….

BJP-CPM-CONGRESS ARE HAND-IN-GLOVE: TMC

School children looking at a giant banner of Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata (PTI photo)

By Lokayat Correspondent

f the leftists of West Bengal think that three years’ anti-incumbency feelings are enough to take the sheen off Mamata Banerjee who dislodged them after a 34-yearlong rule, they are perhaps miscalculating. Mamata is sly and capable of out-manoeuvering their strategy. She knows the risk and urging people to vote for neither the Congress as this will help the CPM, nor for the BJP as this will also benefit the CPM. She accuses all the three—the CPM, BJP and Congress—of conspiring and colluding against her regime. Modi has been trying to soften his criticism of her rule, thinking that she may be needed after the elections. The BJP has not lost hopes, assuming the NDA may not remain untouchable for her as she had been part of the Vajpayee government. Knowing the risk of

I

allowing this speculation during election time, she firmly spurned all the overtures of the BJP and hit hard at Modi, saying development of Gujarat had slowed during his tenure of 10 years, and in any case the state was developing well before him. She slams all parties for making false promises and cites statistics on various issues to drive home the point. For instance, she asks the Congress and the BJP whose leaders make glib talks about the issue of 33 percent reservation to women in legislatures; but to the discomfiture of these national parties she reveals that the BJP has only 8 per cent women candidates and the Congress 14 per cent. Only the Trinamool Congress can claim to have walked the talk by nominating 27 per cent women candidates for the Lok Sabha elections. She castigates all the three parties for their combined propaganda onslaught against her. She accuses them of

The TMC is harsh on Modi for projecting himself as the PM candidate, which is described by the party as his wishful thinking. Its spokesperson Derek O’ Brien says that PM is decided by elected MPs, not by multi-million rupee ads and super-paid news. encouraging people to follow Maoists’ call for poll boycott. Why, she asks. She claims to have solved the Maoist problem in Jangalmahal comprising Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore districts where before she took over 400 to 500 people, including several policemen used to be killed every year. Now there is peace; ‘I will not allow terror to return’, she asserts. Thanks to the able and innovative finance minister Ashok Mitra, state finances are in pink of health. The

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

47


WEST BENGAL Total seats General Seats SC Seats ST Seats

: 42 : 30 : 10 : 02

Total electors : 6.246 crore Young voters : (18-25 yrs)

: 18.51 pc Poll Schedule: 1st Phase

: 17th April

: 4 seats

(Coochbehar, Alipurduars, Jalpaiguri & Darjeeling)

2nd Phase

: 24th April

: 6 seats

(Raiganj, Balurghat, Maldaha

Uttar, Maldaha Dakshin, Jangipur & Murshidabad) 3rd Phase

: 30th April

: 9 seats

(Howrah, Uluberia,

Sreerampur, Hooghly, Arambag, Bardhaman Purba, Bardhaman-Durgapur, Bolpur & Birbhum) 4th Phase

: 07th April

: 6 seats

(Jhargram, Medinipur,

Purulia, Bankura, Bishnupur & Asansol) 5th Phase

: 12th May

: 17 seats

(Baharampur, Krishnanagar,

Ranaghat, Bangaon, Barrackpur, Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Dakshin, Kolkata Uttar, Tamluk, Kanthi & Ghata)

Performance of Parties in 2009

Seats

02 02 01 01 02 19

06

09

Contested

Seats

Vote share

Trinamool

27

19

31.18 pc

CPM

32

09

33.10 pc

Congress

14

06

13.45 pc

CPI

03

02

03.60 pc

RSP

04

02

03.51 pc

Forward Bloc

03

02

03.04 pc

BJP

42

01

06.14 pc

Independents

116

01

03.08 pc

Other parties

127

00

02.90 pc

Party

government has recorded a revenue growth of more than 40 per cent in 2012-13, with collections totalling Rs 32,808 crore. The success followed digitization of the tax collection system. The tax revenue rose from 4.5 per cent of gross state domestic product (GDP) in 201011 to 4.7 per cent in 2011-12, 5.2 per cent in 2012-13 and 5.4 per cent in 2013-14. Among other

48

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

successes, she claims to have given 57 lakh scholarships to minority students and help to Urdu medium schools. It may be noted that West Bengal has 26 percent Muslim population, but during the long Left regime their condition did not improve a bit. The TMC is buoyant that it may increase its Lok Sabha seats this time from 19 it won in 2009. The Congress and the TMC

together had fought elections then as coalition partners. The Congress had contested on 14 seats and won only six. The BJP, which won just one and forfeited deposits on 39 seats, thinks that it may increase its presence this time. In 2009 its total vote share was only 6.14 percent. It would be interesting to see which of the three prominent lady politicians —Jayalalithaa, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee—gets more seats and plays a big role in the formation of the next government at the Centre. Mamata does not tire of telling everywhere that the new government would be formed by a yet to be born ‘Federal Front.’ Mamata got a lot of bad press for her outbursts against the Election Commission over transfer of officials, and again on account of the Saradha scandal. During one of her election meetings in the state, she dared the Centre to arrest her just hours after Rahul Gandhi accused her government of ‘shielding’ those involved in the scandal. She accused the Congress, CPM, BJP and a section of the media of spreading ‘rumours’ against the Trinamool Congress. The poll-eve arrest of Saradha chief Sudipta Sen’s wife and son by the Enforcement Directorate was a veritable bad moment, both for her government and the party. The Saradha scam had mostly hit depositors across rural Bengal, Mamata’s main vote bank. She tried to put the blame squarely on the regulatory agencies which did not take action in time. Mamata also blamed the previous Left Front government and the Congress for the mushrooming of sham deposit-mobilising companies in Bengal. In an attempt to distance herself and her party from the scam, Mamata reminded her supporters in Malda about the steps her government took after the scandal surfaced. She also referred to the arrest of the party’s suspended Rajya Sabha MP, Kunal Ghosh, to assure the people that her government stood firmly behind the cheated investors. Meanwhile, the fight between the Trinamool Congress and Left Front parties continues unabated in the state. Hiralal Sheikh (40), a CPI-M worker, died after being beaten up by TMC supporters. Concerned over the growing attacks on CPI-M workers and party offices in West Bengal, senior party leader Sitaram Yechury asked the Election Commission to take urgent steps to ensure free and fair polls and alleged that a 'rattled' Trinamool Congress was spinning 'a web of conspiracy theories' to justify 'its violence.' The polls in this sensitive state are being conducted in five phases. In the three phases for 19 seats, the voting percentage, as elsewhere in the country, remained very high.<


UTTARAKHAND

CAN HARISH RAWAT TURN THE TIDE?

AAP’s Nainital candidate Balli Singh Cheema behind bars for using two loudspeakers on his vehicle

By Koomitara

he buzz initially was that the BJP would win all five seats in Uttarakhand under Congress chief minister Vijaya Bahuguna on account of his dismal failure to respond properly to the flash flood disaster last year and subsequent reconstruction and rehabilitation work. After Bahuguna was eased out unceremoniously the Congress installed Harish Rawat as the new CM who quickly took decisions, and rehabilitation and reconstruction work picked up pace. By the time of polling on May 7, roads to Char Dham were in good shape and shrines were open. But BJP leaders did not lower their pitch of allegations and kept on harping on the disaster days, even dissuading people from going on yatra and cautioning them that they would go there at the risk of their lives. This

T

The high-point in Congress campaign in UP was marked when Sonia Gandhi made a hard-hitting broadside against Modi at a well attended public meeting at Roorkee recently. She said Modi was talking as though he had already become prime minister even without the results being declared.

propaganda was criticised by many as against the interests of the state--it undermined tourism, backbone of Uttarakhand’s economy. Despite campaigning by Rahul and a brief visit by Sonia Gandhi, the BJP remained far ahead so far as campaigning was concerned. With no apparent constraint on fund’s availability the electronic media incessantly sang paeans of Modi. There was criticism of chief minister Rawat paying attention only to the Haridwar seat where his wife Renuka Rawat was contesting. Narendra Modi addressed five rallies on the last day of campaigning castigating the state government for doing nothing for the flash-flood disaster victims who continued to stay in ruins. Political observers feel that the Himalayan tsunami still continued to be a live issue in at least three constituencies. Though the Congress

distributed seats according to the same caste formula which had proved okay in 2009, it is difficult to predict the outcome in the present instance in the wake of heavy polling. Even if Congress’ vote share is reduced by one or two percent compared to last assembly election figures, it may lose all seats. Congress campaign marked its peak when Sonia Gandhi made a hardhitting broadside against Modi at a very well attended public meeting at Roorkee. She said Modi was talking as though he had already become prime minister even without the results being declared. She asked why he did not have a Lokayukta in Gujarat like in other states. She recounted the party’s many development programmes in the pipeline and said it was determined to give people the right to free education, medical facilities, pension to widows, dwellings to the poor and employment to youths. The situation became precarious for the Congress with the dramatic entry of the Aam Aadmi Party. Though this new party’s campaign remained lackluster on account of the party’s star campaigners like Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav failing to reach there, it could effectively raise issues of corruption, non-completion of hydro projects, price rise, lack of drinking water and shortage of teachers and doctors. Balli Singh Cheema, an AAP candidate from Nainital, and 16 supporters were arrested for protesting against confiscation of his campaign vehicle for allegedly violation of the model code of conduct by using two loudspeakers on it. But he chose not to seek bail. Only after seven days when protests by people became intense, he and two others who had not sought bail were released. Cheema is a popular poet whose poetry made a big impact during the statehood movement. He is contesting against KC Singh Baba of the Congress and Bhagat Singh Koshyari, a BJP member of the Rajya Sabha and the first chief minister of Uttarakhand.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

49


NORTH-EAST

CONGRESS HOPEFUL IN NORTH-EAST Despite desire for change and anti-incumbency taking centre-stage in the North-East region, the Congress has in a bizarre turn of events improved its chances. And as ever independents are in large numbers in Assam to give tough fight to main partiesâ&#x20AC;Ś By Lokayat Correspondent

tate units of national parties tried to refute the oftrepeated allegation that their leaders visit the North-East states only during elections and not when people of the region suffer from problems like floods. With every seat becoming important, senior leaders

S

of national parties, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi, made a beeline for the North-East to woo voters. Given the high turnout in all the three phases, political observers are confused as to what swing has Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi addressing a press conference in Guwahati (PTI photo)

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi waves to supporters at an election rally in Nagaon district of Assam (PTI photo)

50

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

taken in favour of which party. Each voting phase was important for all contesting parties. Many voters were clear enough to say, they voted for change. As Assam sends the largest number of MPs from among the NorthEast states, campaigning was intense here. This state is of crucial importance to the Congress, which had won 7 of the 14 seats in 2009 by securing 33.91 percent votes. The BJP had won 4 seats, the Asom Gana Parishad and the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) one each. Despite the claim of a Modi wave, the BJP is going to be a loser as it could not tie-up with the Asom Gana Parishad as in 2009: it is depending solely on the Modi factor. The third big political force in Assam is AUDF, which appears to


NORTH-EAST have lost its appeal so far as this election is concerned. Though the Congress is troubled with the usual internal dissensions and machinations it may not only improve its tally this time, it may show the bestever performance in the state. A few political analysts do not agree, however; they detect an anti-establishment wave in Upper Assam. What effect the Aam Aadmi Party would have here is not sure. It has fielded eight candidates, most of whom are unknown RTI activists or social workers. Their campaign could not pick up momentum as national leaders including Arvind Kejriwal could not reach there as promised. Muslim voters who are around 33 percent in the state do not want to fritter away their votes amidst aggressive communal parties like the BJP. The number of women candidates is 16, the highest ever. The Congress and the AAP have fielded three candidates each while the BJP, AGP, SP and the CPI-ML one each, TMC and SUCI two each. Two Independents are also in the fray. In the last parliamentary poll 11 women had contested and two won. Arunachal Pradesh would elect 60 candidates for its assembly and simultaneously two for the Lok Sabha. The ruling Congress in Arunachal Pradesh recommended dissolution of the assembly seven months before its term

CM of Nagaland Sri. Neiphiu Rio meets Shri Narendra Modi

expires in October. The Congress had got thumping majority by winning 42 Assembly seats out of 60, while firsttimers the Trinamool Congress and the NCP had won five seats each. Four seats were bagged by the PPA and one was taken by an Independent. However, the Congress tally rose to 55, after the NCP and PPA legislators joined it along with four Trinamool members. The Opposition BJP this time is hopeful of

returning to the Lok Sabha from the state after a gap of five years. The killing of the Arunachal student Nido Tania in New Delhi became a big election issue; other matters that agitated the people were, corruption in government, poor law and order situation and the border dispute with the neighbouring state of Assam. The BJP, which did not field any candidate in Nagaland, Mizoram, the

Independents galore in the fray lmost half the number of candidates in the fray in the North East, had no party affiliation. As many as 65 aspirants out of the total 170 in 14 parliamentary constituencies in Assam were independents. In 2009 there were 73 independents in the fray without winning a single seat though they cornered 5.79 percent of the total votes cast. Kokrajhar (Assam) that witnessed bloodshed in 2012 has four independents out of six contenders.<

A

BJP supporters show thir ink-mark fingers at Imphal, Manipur (PTI photo)

Autonomous District (Assam) and Tura (Meghalaya), has fielded candidates for both the seats of Manipurâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;R K Ranjan Singh from Inner Manipur and Prof Gangmumei Kamei from Outer Manipur to take on the sitting Congress MPs ThMeinya and Thangso Baite respectively. Manipur is regarded by the Congress as its impregnable fort and it is imperative for it to retain it in the face of the partyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s waning influence all over the country. There is a third front which is waging a united fight against the Congress and the BJP. In the hills or the

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

51


NORTH-EAST Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency the outcome of the Lok Sabha poll is more crucial and there are lots of things at stake, especially concerning the separate homeland demand from the Kuki community and the United Naga Council’s demand for an alternative arrangement of Nagas outside the Manipur Government. Mizoram witnessed triangular contest among the ruling Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) which is an alliance of eight opposition parties. The UDF comprises: the Mizo National Front (MNF), the BJP, the Zoram Nationalist Party, the Mizoram People's Conference, the Maraland Democratic Front, the Hmar People's Conference, the Paite Tribal Council and the NCP. By-poll for the Hrangturzo Assembly seat also took place. International borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh and inter-state borders were sealed before the polling which was to take place on April 9 but the Election Commission postponed it to April 11 after Mizoram-based civil society bodies called a 72-hour bandh in the state from April 7 in protest against Bru refugees being allowed to vote in Tripura. The organisations had demanded that the Election Commission should allow the refugees to cast their vote in Mizoram, which was turned down. The Bru voters, who are in camps in Tripura after being thrown out of Mizoram following ethnic violence with the Mizos in 1997, exercised their franchise through postal ballot from April 1 to April 3. In Meghalaya voters defied a shutdown called by an outlawed group Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council and came out to vote in large numbers. The turnout was more than 66 percent. In Tura, where former Speaker Purno Sangma is contesting against Daryl William Cheran Momin of the Congress, polling was 70 percent. Suspected insurgents fired some bullets to scare away people near a booth in South Garo Hill district. Ivoryna Shylla was the lone woman candidate fighting as an independent in Shillong. Other

52

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

prominent candidates are, sitting Congress member Vincent H Pala, Paul Lyngdoh (United Democratic Party), Shibun Lyngdoh (Bharatiya Janata Party) and PBM Basaiawmoit (Independent). The Congress is expected to do well despite the so-called Modi wave. Nagaland is the stronghold of the incumbent chief minister Neiphiu Rio of Nagaland People’s Front. Rio is contesting for the Lok Sabha against Congress candidate K V Pusa. Rio’s party is a partner in the NDA. Voter

around 85 percent which is comparable to the 2009 record of 84.5 percent. Yet Tripura’s performance remained behind its electoral history created last year in the assembly elections when a record 93.57 percent votes were cast which brought the CPM government back to power third time in a row. In Sikkim six candidates contested for the lone seat. Sitting MP Prem Das Rai of the Sikkim Democratic Front is re-contesting. He had defeated Congress candidate Kharananda Upreti by a massive margin in 2009. This time the

Border dispute a problem for voters he border dispute between Assam and Meghalaya, continuing since the latter was carved out of the former in 1972, is leading to funny situations. Many villagers in Umsning Block in the Ri-Bhoi district voted twice – once for the Shillong parliamentary constituency in Meghalaya and again for the Autonomous District constituency of Assam. Polling for the Shillong seat was held on April 9 and that for the Autonomous District seat on April 12. Twelve villages under Block-II are included in the Mawhati Assembly constituency and Shillong Lok Sabha constituency in Meghalaya as well as under the Baithalangso Assembly constituency and the Autonomous District Lok Sabha constituency in Assam. Looks like, the Election Commission of India has no knowledge of this. Threatened and compelled, about 400 Khasi people, residents of Madan Umwang, who are dual voters in Assam as well as Meghalaya, cast their votes in the Autonomous District constituency of Assam. They complain that a few days before the polling they were threatened with dire consequences by pro-Assam leaders if they did not go and cast their votes in the Assam seat. The pro-Assam leaders had reminded them of past incidents of shooting by the Karbi People Liberation Tigers and threatened that if they did not cast their votes in Assam the villagers themselves would be responsible for the consequences.<

T

turnout was an impressive 82 per cent; yet it was less than the 90 percent marked in 2009. The CPM-ruled Tripura is expected to show its preference for CPM candidates. The Tripura East is a reserved constituency for scheduled tribes, where a multi-cornered contest took place among the CPI (M), the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the BJP. Turnout for the two seats was

Congress has fielded a 49-year old doctor Akar Dhoj Limbu. Nar Bahadur Khatiwara who had contested the 2009 election on the SGPP (Sikkim Gorkha Prajatantrik Party) ticket is fighting this time on a BJP ticket. The AAP has fielded a social worker, Kaushal Rai. The turnout of 80.96 percent was lower than 2009 due to rainfall on the polling day. Interestingly, more women than men turned out for polling.<


KERALA

AN UNUSUALLY TAME AFFAIR Without the usual fanfare, high-voltage campaigning and canvassing, without much contumely arguments and murders, elections to all 20 parliamentary seats from Kerala passed off tamely. There were also far fewer bill boards and posters on city streets. Yet the state marked 74.04 percent polling, more than the 73.37 percent recorded in 2009. In certain northern districts it went significantly higher, up to 81.4 percent. Considering the adverse conditions that deterred voters—scorching summer heat, cloudburst in the afternoon in several constituencies and suspension of polling for up to three hours in 20 booths due to break-down of machines—it is indeed a creditable performance.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi addressing at an election meeting at Beach in Kozhikode (PTI photo)

By VSP Kurup

hat does the unprecedented voter turn-out signify? Election analysts attribute it to several factors. Political maturing of

W

the people and their increasing faith in the electoral process, strident efforts made by the Election Commission, media and public-spirited people to educate voters about their vital stake in the proceedings and the value of each vote, strict watch over the inter-play of money and muscle power—all these would have contributed to the welcome result. Predictably both the political conglomerates in the state—the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic

Front(LDF) chaperoned by the CPI(M)—claim that the higher polling percentage is to their advantage, but they refuse to discuss any figures. It is understandable because there are many imponderables, like the caste factor, huge first-time voters, Modi wave, the new NOTA provision etc. which make any realistic assessment difficult. One reason for the high confidence of the two fronts could be that after a long time, both have been free from internal squabbles— possibly on account of the existential crisis staring them in the

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

53


KERALA face. That does not mean that everything was hunky-dory with them—both the Congress and the CPI (M) went to poll in the midst of separate, highly embarrassing predicaments.

the virtual indictment of the CM and demanded his resignation. A K Antony came to Chandy’s rescue and said the offence was not serious enough to warrant resignation; the High Court could be approached to rescind or tone down the impugned reference to the chief minister. An appeal was filed accordingly and a bench of the court kept in abeyance the single judge’s remark. Coming during the peak of the poll campaign, it was a big relief to the

violence promoted by the CPI(M) and hoped the people would give it a fitting reply.

CPI (M)’s utopian manifesto

The series of reverses suffered by the CPI (M) in recent months in its illconceived campaigns designed to Oommen Chandy (and his regain political initiative from the UDF government) was in the seventh clouds had left the party totally emasculated after leaving behind the vexing solar when it was called upon to face the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha. Despite its poor condition, however, it had to mobilize all its resources and try to get maximum votes because, if it did not garner the minimum required percentage of popular franchise, it would lose its status as a national political party. To help achieve this urgent objective, it produced a utopian manifesto designed to bring the maximum number of people under its fold. The CPI (M) has not tried any revival device like this before. Some salient points of the document are: a fresh food Athletes and local people participate in a mass run conducted as part of LDF candidate Vijayaragavans campaign ahead of parliament elections in Kozhikode (PTI photo) security law, a new pricing regime for petroleum products, a scam and persistent organisational Congress and the CM in particular. universal PDS system that promised 35 tangle when, like a bolt from the blue, Back from this brink, Chandy was kg of food grains per family at Rs 2 the High Court made a searing his usual sang-froid self and said the per kilo, ban on futures trading in observation about the functioning of election was an acid test of the UDF agricultural commodities, enlarging the the chief minister’s office. While rule. For any possible setback to the resources base by taxing the rich and considering a fraudulent land- grab government in the elections, he was corporate profits and a revised foreign case involving Chandy’s former responsible. He challenged the LDF to policy that envisaged independent and gunman Salim Raj, the court said that discuss any of the numerous problems non-aligned outlook and promoted the chief minister had been utterly befuddling the state, but it was not multi-polarity. According to political amiss in the appointment of his interested. It only indulged in what it analysts, the CPI (M)’s strategy personal staff and hence he was was past-master—make allegations amounted to a hit and miss poll answerable to whatever happened in and indulge in violence. The chief experiment with unpredictable his office. The opposition jumped at minister deprecated the cult of outcome.

Court’s sizzling observation on CM’s office

54

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014


KERALA There is another bizarre aspect which indicates that the party is desperate and hence is unmindful of possible damning effect on itself and the LDF as a whole. The left alliance decided to contest in 19 seats of which, after a lot of haggling the CPI (M) conceded four to its senior partner, the CPI. The RSP was unreasonably refused the seat it occupied for years; deeply aggrieved; it quit the LDF and joined the UDF. Folly of follies, the CPI (M) nominated ‘guest artistes’ to contest from five prominent constituencies as ‘independents supported by it’ and set up party candidates in just ten. Many party aspirants were sore that while five important seats were ‘donated’ to rank outsiders, deserving comrades were denied due consideration. What price loyalty, they ask. (Out of the four seats allotted, the CPI too gave one to a non-party man.) What prompted these outsourcing is not known, but it could be a sign of CPI (M)’s growing diffidence and dilemma. In the past too there have been instances of the party ‘hiring’ and setting up outsiders as its candidates. They have not been unmixed successes. So why try again? Leaving aside the unsure outcome, one major flaw in the step is that it attracts the avoidable opprobrium of having to look outside for suitable candidates for a party claiming such wide membership! An even more serious fault is that there is no guarantee, these ‘independents’ will stay with the party, not cross over to the other side. Examples of turncoats are numerous.

Incorrigible optimism Discounting all such fears, Prakash Karat, CPI (M) general secretary is busy computing the number of seats the party will net in the parliamentary elections.

After a lot of additions and subtractions he feels that at least 10 seats from Kerala are assured. Basing his optimism on opinion surveys by various organizations he expects a third alternative to emerge after the results are out. On prospects of the Congress Party, he said it would be in a pitiable position of having to support a non-BJP government at the Centre as happened in 1996. Pinarai Vijayan, CPI (M) state secretary does not believe in results of surveys done by outside entities. He relies only on filtered data provided by party units at the district, area and local levels. They are usually infallible, though sometimes they too have blundered. To avoid any serious miscalculation as happened in 2009, he has asked his acolytes to double-check the figures. A series of party workshops had been held throughout the state for the final assessment. On the basis of these efforts Pinarai feels certain of outperforming the 2009 elections. If Pinarai and Karat are correct, the decisive role of the redoubtable V S Achuthanandan in the performance of the party against many odds cannot be minimized. It was in fact to exploit his crowdpulling propensity that Pinarai, despite being his bête noire, worked hard to bring Achu around and made him campaign for party candidates. (Achuthanandan was to be dethroned as the opposition leader—a party resolution to this end had been passed— for his numerous anti-party activities, but its implementation was held in abeyance until parliamentary elections were over. He may still be axed; the party is never known to relent.) The riddle making the round in political circles, therefore, is how Pinarai managed to tame the rebellious rogue. By bribe, promise of remission of charges or threat? We will know before long.<

74 out of 256 candidates have criminal background wo hundred and fifty-six candidates contested 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala. Of these 74 or 28.51 percent have criminal backgrounds, and nearly half of them have multiple cases of murder and other heinous crimes instituted against them. They belong to all parties, according to the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Kerala Election Watch (KEW) which made a joint study. There are 46 crorepatis among the candidates from Kerala. Six have assets worth over five crore. The Congress has the highest (8) number of crorepatis, with the AAP following with 4, BJP 2, and the CPI (M) 2. The average asset of all candidates is 82.2 lakh. Chances are that those jonnies with more money to throw and those with thicker crime dossiers will reach Parliament. Compared to the big fishes in other states, however, the Kerala fellows are indeed small fry in criminal records and assets.<

T

NOTA is not so effective he idea of NOTA is timely and welcome, but as conceived at present it is ineffective. The fact is that even if half or more voters opt for NOTA, the fellow making top score will be declared the winner. So NOTA voters would have wasted their suffrage. Besides, only those who are motivated will take the trouble of going to booths and voting; others disinterested will simply stay at home. Earlier there have been instances of dissenters marking their protests by defacing or tearing up their ballot papers (when they were in vogue). NOTA will only help to record one’s dissent without any tangible effect. One way to give some teeth to the NOTA concept is to make re-polling mandatory if dissenters total above certain percentage of the votes polled. A better idea is to instill fear in the winner about his or her job by giving voters the power of recalling the elected person. But that will need deeper thought and legislation which few law makers will support.<

T

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

55


ANDHRA PRADESH

QUESTION OF SURVIVAL FOR CONGRESS IN SEEMANDHRA Giving itself sole credit for creating Telangana as a separate state, Congress hopes to win a good number of seats here. However, in Seemandhra it is facing strong opposition of the masses and is struggling hard to retain some of its votes by holding out promises of good package for the truncated state. YSR Congress chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy during his election roadshow in Prakasam (PTI photo)

By S Santhanam

t is a matter of survival for four main parties in the state and Lok Sabha elections: Congress, YSR Congress, TRS and Telugu Desam. The Centreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision to bifurcate the state has changed the political scenario as those parties in favour try to tell voters that they were the ones responsible for the creation of the new state. Others who have been opposing division try to convince voters about the need for a united state. The Congress party in Seemandhra has decided to focus on votes than seats, unlike most political parties who leave nothing to win elections. The Congress high command has decided on a twopronged strategy in Telangana and in Andhra Pradesh in the general elections. The Congress has a lot of hopes in Telangana and is fully focused on getting maximum seats. But in Andhra

I

56

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

Pradesh, it is struggling for survival and is trying to retain votes to keep the party alive. Union Minister and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh waves Congress leaders are at an election campaign in Secunderabad (PTI photo) confident of getting more seats than the TRS in Telangana. But in Seemandhra, the Rayalaseema. This time the vote is campaign is left to local leaders and the expected to be substantially reduced, but main campaigner is Chiranjeevi while Congress leaders believe that they public meetings addressed by AICC would be able to win over YSRC in president Sonia Gandhi and viceAndhra Pradesh. president Rahul Gandhi in Karimnagar, The stake for the Telugu Desam Mahbubnagar and Nizamabad came as a Party is even higher. If it loses the big morale booster to the Telangana current assembly elections, it will be Congress leaders. very difficult for it to sustain itself In the 2009 elections, the Congress having already remained for 15 years in had won 156 assembly seats. Out of the opposition. these, the Congress won 106 in Kiran skips polls Seemandhra. But now the Congress The president of the newly-formed leaders are not sure of even come to the Jai Samaikyandhra Party (JSP) and double digit. In the last general elections former state chief minister N Kiran the Congress got 36.88 percent votes in Kumar Reddy sprang a surprise by coastal Andhra and 43.49 percent in


ANDHRA PRADESH deciding not to denied tickets. contest the assembly The TDP-BJP elections. Instead, his alliance is not brother Kishore working as Kumar Reddy has smoothly as was been fielded from expected by Pileru assembly leaders of both constituency in their the parties. TDP native Chittoor president district in Chandrababu Seemandhra. Kiran Naidu is himself Reddy was elected facing rebellion in from Pileru in 2009, his Kuppam when the constituency constituency in was created as a Chittoor district result of delimitation. as BJP leader Kiran has held both Tulasi Natham TRS president (PTI photo) the TDP and the YSR has also filed his Congress responsible nomination from for the state’s division. He still retains here. In the Rajolu assembly segment, a feeble hope that perhaps the a BJP leader is also contesting as a Supreme Court would overturn the rebel candidate. decision of the Centre.

Municipal Poll Results on May 12 he results for the 10 municipal corporations and 146 municipalities and nagar panchayats are expected to be announced on May 12 while the Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies (ZPTCs) and Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies (MPTCs) results are scheduled to be declared on May 13. The results were postponed as the court directed the State Election Commission to announce the results only after the completion of assembly and Lok Sabha polls on April 30 in Telangana and May 7 in Seemandhra. Municipal and nagar polls were held on March 30 and MPTC-ZPTC polls were conducted in two phases on April 6 and 11.<

T

Star Campaigners

Rebel trouble hits Telugu Desam

The YSRC has named 20 candidates including veteran film Things are not going according to actors Giri Babu, T S Vijay Chander plan for the Telugu Desam Party. The and balladeer Vangapandu Usha, Mr party is facing problems Jagan Mohan of rebel candidates, Reddy’s cousin Y internal back stabbing due Telugu Desam Party S Anil Reddy, late to tickets given to NTR’s wife is up against rebels Lakshmi Parvati defectors and for denying tickets to the party’s own while all is not well and other senior MLAs. leaders as its star with its alliance Another issue the campaigners. with the BJP. There party is facing is losing The BJP’s star Muslim votes because of campaigners’ list is fear of internal its alliance with the BJP. of 40 for both back stabbing due Telangana and In Andhra Pradesh, out of 175 assembly seats, there to tickets given to Seemandhra are 85 segments with actors defectors from the include more than 10,000 Muslim Nagarjuna, Shivaji, Congress and voters. The TDP has Shivaji Raja, Kota given 16 assembly tickets denying tickets to Sreenivasa Rao, and six Lok Sabha tickets Jeevita and party’s own MLAs. Rajasekhar apart to the Congress sitting MLAs and MPs who from have defected to the party. Purandeswari. The Telugu Desam Party has In some assembly constituencies, the named 33 leaders as its star party has given tickets to the Congress campaigners including film actors N leaders who had joined the party in the Balakrishna, Ali, Venumadhav and N last minute. For this, nine TDP MLAs Harikrishna.< and six defected MLAs had to be

Promises galore for the new capital ll parties in Seemandhra region seem to have finally accepted the division of Andhra Pradesh as a reality however various parties keep on blaming each other for the division. The focus of parties contesting elections is naturally on the prospective capital since Hyderabad will go to Telangana though it would remain as the joint capital for Telangana and Seemandhra for 10 years. There is no unanimity on the city should be developed as the capital. Leaders pitch for different cities like Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Ongole, Guntur and Kurnool, giving strong arguments in favour of their own choice. TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu boasts of his experience as chief minister that will help develop the new capital like Singapore while Jagan Mohan Reddy is assuring voters that he has already started work on this and has hired an international consultancy firm for working out a blue print. There are some leaders who say that they would like to vacate Hyderabad even before ten years.<

A

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

57


KARNATAKA

BJP, CONG HOPE HIGH TURNOUT HELPED THEM IN KARNATAKA Comparatively high turnout means that several veterans in the fray, both from the Congress and the BJP, may bite the dust this time. By Lokayat Correspondent from Bengaluru

he 67 per cent voter turnout in Karnataka for the Lok Sabha elections on April 17, has forced both the analysts and politicians alike to look at the trend afresh. From the initial mood of dejection, even disappointment, the final figures have suddenly perked up the political parties and the EC in particular. This is largely because a careful look at the comparative figures for 2009 and 2014 parliament elections reveals that the state has indeed done rather well this time. In fact, in 12 of the 28 constituencies, the turnout has been exceptionalâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;ranging between 70 and 76 per cent. In all these seats the increase has ranged from three to ten per cent with Chikkballapur, Kolar and Chikkodi, in particular, recording a near 76 per cent voter turnout. Considering the blazing heat in these belts, this is indeed a heartening development. Equally significant, in Chikkballapur and Kolar in particular, the large turnout could go against Congress candidates and central ministers, Veerappa Moily and Muniyappa, respectively. The beneficiaries could either be the BJP or

T

58

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramayya (L) at an election campaign meeting for partys Dharawad Lok Sabha candidate Vinay Kulkarni (PTI photo)

A Muslim couple after casting votes for Lok Sabha elections at a polling station (PTI photo)

the JDS, if only because of the infighting in the Congress party. The same could be true elsewhere in Mandya, where the Congress

candidate Ramya was driven to tears following factionalism in her party. Admittedly, the turnout in the remaining constituencies has not been


KARNATAKA

High Profile constituencies as encouraging, comparatively. This Among the 28 seats elections to has come as a big let-down for the which were held, the three most high national parties which had hoped for a profile constituencies remained in more enthusiastic response Bangalore and included Bangalore considering their focus on change, South, Bangalore Central and stability, good governance, not to Bangalore North. Their importance speak of talks about rooting out also grew in the sense that BJP was corruption. determined to retain its hold in the The BJP in particular was constituencies as it had three sitting despondent at seeing the initial figures MPs. as it believed that its prime ministerial Among them, however, Bangalore candidate, Narendra Modi, had set the South attracted national and state on fire; galvanizing young and international attention because Infosys old alike to vote for the BJP. At least former CEO and founder, Nandan the huge attendance at his over 13 Nilekani, had decided to throw his hat public rallies in the state gave the into the political ring. The Congress impression of a much larger voter pitted him against five time winner turnout. Ananth Kumar of the BJP. Likewise, the Congress cannot be blamed for believing that its national leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had attracted huge crowds which in turn would lead to heavy polling in favour of the party. The initial results indicating 67 per cent polling, therefore, came as a big disappointment to one and all. That is, till the final picture emerged in comparison to the 2009 numbers. Predictably, the national AAP candidates from Bangalore Central, V parties and their candidates Balakrishna (L), Bangalore South, Nina Nayak are wearing huge smiles from Bangalore seat Bobby Mathew (R) during a road show (PTI photo) now, believing that they are on the road to victory. As is evident now the Similarly, in Bangalore Central polling in the state has been rather another Infoysian, in former chief encouraging largely because of a few financial officer, V Balakrishnan, was factors. These include the jump in fighting on an AAP ticket against the first time voters, enrolment of over Congress and the BJP. ten lakh more eligible voters not to Together the two Infosyians speak of the fact that the younger attracted immense interest considering generation, that is 30 and below, has their stature and impeccable credentials not wasted its franchise this time. as men of honour and credibility, traits This is evident, for example, from that were missing in many other the series of interactions that the candidates in the election fray this Lokayat correspondent had time. with the electorate in high Accordingly, it was expected that profile constituencies of the IT the IT capital too would rise to the capital.

occasion and come out in large numbers, raising the turnout to over 70-80 per cent. Unfortunately, this did not happen. The average turnout remained around 55-56 per cent. Naturally enough there was an all round gloom in Bangaloreâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;noticing what at first appeared as discouraging figures. On hindsight, rather analysis, when compared to the 2009 elections, however, these have proved exceptional. In the last elections the turnout ranged between 45 and 47 per cent. To that extent, the final figures for 2014 indeed look encouraging. Consequently, what the trend indicates across the state now, is simpleâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that while many voters stayed away, a big chunk of new (and young)

electorate actually exercised its franchise. Also the comparatively high turnout means that several veterans in the fray, both from the Congress and the BJP, may bite the dust this time. Further, both the Congress and the BJP may not be wrong in their calculations that their public rallies did bring them the votes. Going by the available figures, therefore, it would not be surprising to see both the national parties sharing the seats while leaving at least two for the JDS to gloat over.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

59


TAMILNADU

PARTIES FLOUT ELECTION CODE WITH IMPUNITY IN TAMILNADU By Lokayat Correspondent

ith nearly 73 per cent polling recorded, Tamilnadu electors have discharged their constitutional duty, which many may think, fairly well. But ‘how fair’, will remind us William Shakespeare’s lines in Macbeth where the witches of darkness utter: ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair, Hover through the fog and filthy air’. Because, all the five major political players who have much at stake in the election have fouled and one can only hope that the end would not be as ominous as the famous English tragedy. Almost all parties violated the code of conduct in every possible way—they used money, muscle power and liquor on a

W

The surprise formation of a six-party alliance of small parties by the BJP on the eve of the elections has ‘destabilized’ Tamilnadu politics in the sense that when there were only two main contenders there was the assurance of one or the other getting the upper hand. Such tyrannical rotation of power between the AIADMK and DMK used to be the routine in the state for a long time. Now there are three main contestants and hence a big element of surmises. While increase of options is good for the health of democratic traditions, it can also be a curse if alliance constituents prove rank opportunists. This is the bane of Tamilnadu: no conviction in and commitment to any ideology. Even the ‘Dravidian’ totem they all carry in their sleeves is fake.

Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK Supremo Jayalalithaa leaves after casting her vote for Lok Sabha election in Chennai (PTI photo)

60

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

massive scale. The DMK even sold tickets to the highest bidder, according to M K Azhagiri, expelled party leader and son of M Karunanidhi. He should know. The Election Commission’s strenuous efforts to prevent

malpractices helped to an extent, but they were not enough to cope with the scale and ingenuity of the anti-socials involved. It would be interesting to study whether these bribes had any effect on the voters. When the poll schedule was announced a confident Jayalalithaa, ready and eager to fight elections, immediately named AIADMK candidates for all the 40 seats including one for Puthussery, and hit the campaign trail, much ahead of the DMK which was in disarray on account of serious

DMK chief M Karunanidhis daughter & Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi at a campaign rally for Sriperumbudur LS seat DMK candidate Jagathratchagan at Ayappanthangal (PTI photo)

domestic strife. Jaya was hundred per cent sure then of bagging enough Lok Sabha seats to play a decisive role in the making of the next union government. She even dreamed of being seconded, as leader of the largest single bloc, for the high seat. Many political watchers would have agreed with her assessment. Not anymore. In a matter of five weeks since the announcement of the poll schedule, political atmosphere in Tamizhagam has undergone cyclonic changes. The AIADMK which was comfortably ahead, has been panting and exhausted towards the end. The DMK had not only overcome the initial strife in its stable, it had found some manageable allies to create strong roadblocks to hamper Jaya’s cavalcade. Worse, there materialised a ‘rainbow’ group—a six-party conglomerate put together by the BJP-led NDA. Individually none of the six constituents, except


TAMILNADU Vijayakant’s DMDK, would count much even if it could be conceded that they all had caste-based pockets of influence, but their combined strength was far more than the sum-total. Apart from these three, there were the Congress, the communists and the AAP, all making no more than making a symbolic show of hands. In Jayalalithaa’s initial reckoning the grand alliance of the BJP did not figure, her only rival was the fractured and friendless DMK. That Karunanidhi could once again rise from the ashes or the NDA could cobble a coalition of small parties was beyond her imagination. So, along with the dream of reaching the Red Fort, the ambition to play a stellar role in Delhi also might prove a mirage. More than that, if she is BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addresses an election rally in Chennai (PTI photo)

Karuna turns Hindi-lover he DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi is going on 88. All these long years, he has been a virulent Hindi-baiter. In fact he came into political prominence through anti-Hindi and DMK chief M Karunanidhi shows his inked pro-Dravidian agitations in the 50s. finger after casting his vote for the Lok Sabha election in Chenna (PTI photo) There have been many a campaign against Hindi-imperialism led by him and others which prevented Nehru from declaring Hindi as the national language for several years and making it compulsory in conducting all government businesses. Tamilnadu is the only Indian state where Hindi is not taught in schools controlled or supported by government funds. The same Karuna has now become a Hindi-lover, or a fake lover. He now makes effort to speak in Hindi. He even sung a Hindi film song the other day at a meeting in Chennai! The reason for this strange turn-around is, of course, vote bank politics. His kin Dayanidhi Maran is contesting on DMK ticket for Lok Sabha from Chennai Central where a large majority of voters are North Indians. Maran’s success depends on the support of Hindi voters. From 1950 onwards Chennai has been witnessing a large influx of northern businessmen. Today a huge chunk of business across the spectrum like real estate, IT, gold and diamond jewelry, hotels etc in Chennai and other Tamilnadu cities is in their hands. According to a report, 40 per cent of employees in software companies in Tamilnadu are north-Indians.<

T

Rahul Gandhi’s Public Meeting in Ramanathapuram Tamil Nadu (PTI photo)

unable to prove her continued hold on the voters, Karunanidhi may get the cue and make extra effort to snatch power from Jaya in the next assembly poll. But that is in the future. Immediately the focus is on the new experiment the state is witnessing: Tamilnadu has seen only combats of two political adversaries for years. Now it has three main ones. How will the change affect the outcome? According to some political observers, as of now it is advantage BJPled Rain Bow. Some people, they say, have an irrational and inexplicable faith in Modi: they think only he among all other politicos today can deliver the country from the present economic and political chaos. Secondly, Hindu voters who are outside the secular ring and others who are partial to caste and communal considerations also will favour the NDA-led six-party alliance.

None of them is tainted by any scam like the DMK and AIADMK are in, nor do they suffer from incumbency-related handicaps. Thirdly, M K Azhagiri, the disinherited son of Karunanidhi has been waging a vengeful campaign in southern districts of Tamilnadu to defeat DMK candidates by all means. The sole

beneficiary of this effort could be none but the NDA-led alliance. (The only silver lining that gladdened the hearts of Karuna & Co was the tilt of the Muslim vote bank towards it on account of the BJP face among the ‘rain bow’). How high this logic will lift the NDA chances will have to wait till May 16.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

61


CHHATTISGARH

DR RAMAN’S PRESTIGE AT STAKE The BJP expected to win all 11 seats in Chhattisgarh in place of 10 last time to fulfill the dream of Narendra Modi to become PM. But the way the Congress fought elections forgetting all their egos and differences, the result on May 16th may disappoint the saffron party ….. By Lokayat Correspondent

he election results of Chhattisgarh would be watched with keen interest. Congress leaders say confidently that they are going to win at least three seats if not more. Political analysts also believe that their claim on the basis of the 2013 Assembly poll may turn out to be correct. The Congress had lost the battle of the state by just 0.75 percent votes. The saffron party had won 49 seats with 41.18 percent vote share, while the Congress was pushed back with 39 seats and 40.43 percent votes. As people were generally happy with Dr Raman Singh’s governance, he was able to beat anti-incumbency and even the fallout of the killings of top Congress leaders in the state. But in the instant Lok Sabha elections, reports from the field suggest that voters did not keep Dr Raman Singh in focus, but only Narendra Modi.

T

62

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

Rajnandgaon Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh arrives to cast his vote for Lok Sabha elections in Rajnandgaon district (PTI photo)

Sources say this might have made many BJP workers somewhat complacent. The Congress on the contrary showed better unity and did aggressive campaigning despite starting late. Chhattisgarh occupies a pride of place in the reckoning of central BJP leaders as it had shown impressive result in the last elections. Naturally the call from Delhi was to win all 11 seats this time; indeed Dr Raman Singh has assured that the BJP would sweep all 11. However, a few incidents indicate lukewarm support for Modi in the state. In Durg before the visit of Narendra Modi to Bhilai leaflets were distributed asking for votes in the name of Advani rather than Modi. The leaflet said: Advani ne diya Chhattisgarh raj, ab unhe dein pradhan mantri ka taaj. It carried photographs of Advani, chief minister Raman Singh and the BJP’s Mahila Morcha president and sitting MP Saroj

Pandey. Modi, however, described it as a Congress conspiracy. In an interview Dr Raman Singh stressed that there was no dispute in the party on the name of Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. ‘We believe in Desh-Pradesh mein ek sarkar.’ A new element in the current elections is the presence of the AAP which succeeded in creating small ripples in 4-5 constituencies. They are expected to draw votes from the share of NOTA, independents and the BSP. Usually, this bloc of vote share is around 13 percent. Another interesting feature of the elections this time in Chhattisgarh is the high turnout in Naxal-affected areas, despite a boycott call by the insurgents. The Naxals showed their ire by attacking and killing civilians and security personnel. Bastar and Kanker recorded 59.40 per cent and 70.29 per cent voting respectively this time compared to 47.33 and 57.20 per cent in 2009.<


CAMPUS

KANPUR DEMANDS AN AIIMS The medical education in Uttar Pradesh suffers from numerous reasons, the main being lack of resources, infrastructure and jaundiced political approach. It is grotesque that Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial Medical College does possess the needed infrastructure to emerge as an AIIMS, but the politics would not allow it the status. The humdrum of electioneering in Kanpur is getting shriller, so is the demand for higher status to the college.

By Dinesh Tiwari

anesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial Medical College (GSVM) in Kanpur, the first medical college of Uttar Pradesh established in independent India, is seeking a new meaning and dispensation. Teachers and students of the college are united in demanding a status of AIIMS being granted to the college which is bigger in area and infrastructure than even the King George Medical University of Lucknow. The ongoing Lok Sabha elections have made the demand only shriller though the college may have been clamouring for it for seven long years. What the college has received is mere assurance from the politicians over the years, despite the fact that scarce of modern medical facilities in

G

and around the city invariably puts hundreds of people at risk when they need them the most. GSVM Medical College, named after great freedom fighter Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, who lost his life in a communal frenzy in Kanpur in March 1931, is finding it difficult to cater to the growing medical needs of people, forcing patients to go to PGI Lucknow or AIIMS Delhi or die if they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t afford to go either of the places. The LLR Hospital and six other associated hospitals linked to the GSVM are also unable to provide required treatment to the needy patients. These big hospitals in the city receive patients from surrounding 15 districts of the state. What also goes in favour of GSVM is the fact that it is situated in the heart of the state and well connected by rail, road and air.

Inaugurated in 1957 by then president Dr Rajendra Prasad, it was a military hospital earlier, but now it has become a hope for the poor and helpless patients. Hailer now known as Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital, was established on August 7, 1944. The Uttar Pradesh Medical Teachers Association under its banner has now raised the demand of developing the college on the lines of AIIMS. According to Dr Jalaj Saxena, secretary of the association, it is necessary to address the aspirations of more than 5 million people of the city the college. He argued that a mini PGI was established in the adjoining Saifai when nearby Lucknow already had a PGI, then why Kanpur cannot be given an AIIMS like hospital with state of the art facilities, especially when the city gives highest revenue for the state.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

63


CAMPUS

PARTIESâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; PERSPECTIVES & PROMISES The current Lok Sabha poll for various parties is all about grabbing a chance to lord over the country, but 33 crore youth ranging between 15-29 years, who have a vital stake in the elections worry about their futureâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;quality education at affordable fees and landing a job with promising prospects. They are anxious because one out of three graduates today is jobless. It is appropriate, therefore, to take a look at what various parties have to say in their election manifestoes about the education sector. By Bodhi Shri

ouths form a very large and enthusiastic chunk of all electors voting for the 16th Lok Sabha. Their voting percentage is also high because they realize that

Y

the next five years and the government at the Centre during that period might be crucial to their future. While they worry about their future, they are told that better education alone can ensure bright prospects for them. But what kind of education do they find today? The sector is driven more and more

into private hands. The quality is constantly sliding down. Lamentably some universities are reportedly selling degrees rather than focussing on actual teaching. The government share in education has come down: primary and secondary education is already in the grip of the private sector. It is


CAMPUS

IN THE EDUCATION SECTOR gratifying, therefore, to see all major parties giving top spots to this issue in their manifestoes although political leaders seldom care much about their manifestoes except as an essential preelection ritual. The BJP’s attitude in this regard is shocking: the party could release its manifesto only on the day the first phase of polling started! The Congress party, which faces a lot of anti-incumbency feeling and disenchantment of youth due to reduced job opportunities, thanks to economic slow-down, was understandably keen to soothe their anguish in the manifesto. The party,

while reminding about the Right to Education Act as their gain, promised universal enrolment in secondary education. It assures steps to reduce drop-out rates in middle and secondary schools. It has also promised to go from Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan to Shreshth Shiksha Abhiyan with ‘quality’ as the central theme. To raise employability standard, it has promised to scale up skill development and training programmes. It has committed to expand opportunities in higher education with focus on students from low-income families. It is firm on opening the higher education sector to investment from abroad, thus bringing the best available knowledge and teaching to youth. This is indicative of the government’s determination to go for more and more privatisation of the higher education in the country. But Congress leaders say that it would help expand higher education faster and ensure quality. They talk about this in the context of the fact that no Indian university figures among the top 200 of the world; to improve our standard, they think foreign participation is the panacea. The CPI (M) on the other hand mentions in its manifesto that no FDI would be allowed in higher education. It promises that Bills like ‘Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill, 2010’, ‘The Higher Education and Research Bill (THER) 2011’, and ‘Universities for Research and Innovation Bill, 2012’ will be scrapped. It also promises to enact legislation to regulate fees, admissions and curricula in private educational institutions. Most middle-class families may find this the need of the hour. It also commits to discontinue the controversial Four- Year Bachelor's Programme started by Delhi University.

BJP borrows heavily from others The BJP, which released its manifesto in last, seems to have borrowed ideas heavily from those of other contemporaries. The Congress even accused it of copying their manifesto. The BJP manifesto, the bulkiest document running into 52 pages, delves elaborately into educational issues. But it is long on bombastic expressions and short on measures for revitalizing the education system in India. It promises a National Commission on Education to report in two years on the state of education and reforms needed. Based on the report, the BJP will formulate and implement a National Education Policy. This is seen by many as a mere rhetoric and time-wasting exercise. It waxes eloquence on what kind of education is proper for Indians, makes students proud of the country’s culture, heritage and history etc-- smacking of RSS imprint. The BJP had already been at the receiving end for changing school curricula in states where it ruled. The manifesto accords high priority to addressing the acute shortage of teachers and researchers. It also focuses on the employability factor which ought to be associated with most of the courses. Further, it promises to work not just for employability but also for job creation and entrepreneurship. Like the Congress the BJP also promises to introduce skill-oriented programmes. Very much in tune with the ideas floated in the CPM manifesto; the BJP promises increased public (government) spending on education-to 6 percent of the GDP. But neither the BJP nor the CPI (M) mentions the timeline: in how many years this objective will be achieved. It is pertinent to recall that BJP prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

65


CAMPUS repeated for consecutive four years the pledge to enhance the expenditure on Research and Development to 2 percent of the GDP, but till the end of his tenure he could not go beyond 0.8 percent. Perhaps taking a cue from the Congress manifesto, the BJP talks of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan' and its improvement. It talks of setting up a mechanism for performance audit of this flagship scheme. Similarly, the BJP has promised universalisation of secondary education and skill development. The BJP can be given credit for some new ideas. It projects a national modernization programme for madrasas which can bring Muslims out from the conservative mindset of Ulemas. To empower school teachers and students it proposes establishment of a national Elibrary. Talking of the pivotal role of teachers, it promises to rework the work culture of teachers and teachers’ training institutions with the goal of preparing a band of committed and innovative teachers. It promises restoration of credibility of regulatory bodies and making procedures of appointments to senior positions transparent and meritbased. Restructuring and transformation of the UGC into a Higher Education Commission is also visualised.

AAP also wants Education for All The education segment of the AAP’s manifesto is shorter compared to the BJP’s, but clearer on issues. It assesses that the country’s government school system is in pitiable condition,

66

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

and common man’s children cannot access quality education. The fledgling party has promised equitable access to quality education to all sections of society, irrespective of their ability to pay. It has focussed more on the role of public (government) school system which it promises to strengthen. It also speaks of the role of local communities in context-rooted curriculum development and management of schools. The local communities’ monitoring is a revolutionary idea but for obvious reasons it sends alarms to

vested interests and political parties which feed on these bodies. It warns that school teachers would be accountable to gram or mohalla sabhas. In sharp contrast to the BJP manifesto it talks of an education grounded in diverse cultures of the country. The focus of that education will be on learning outcomes, not just on inputs. Reform of DTET (Directorate of Technical Education and Training) and SCERT (State Councils of Education, Research and Training) to improve learning

outcomes has been mentioned. It also promises appointment of adequate numbers of qualified teachers on a regular basis through a transparent selection process; they would be continuously trained and adequately compensated, but they would be accountable in regard to the learning outcome. It means it intends to stop the current practice of leaving government education in the hands of low-paid shiksha mitras. On the front of skill development, it goes beyond rhetoric and promises the establishment of a large number of ITIs for vocational training and providing opportunities and incentives to those trained in ITIs to start their own enterprises. It assures that working of state universities would be improved by allocating more funds. But there is no mention of inviting FDI in higher education or giving free reins to the private sector. This party like the CPM mentions effective regulation of private institutions in matters of fees and quality of education. Contrary to the BJP and the Congress it has clearly assured world class higher education in the country, not through private or foreign institutes but governmentfunded institutions like IITs, AIIMS etc. Last, but not the least, it links education to opportunities for entrepreneurship by setting up incubation centres inside institutions of higher learning. It also promises to roll back the controversial Four- Year Undergraduate Programme in Delhi University.<


FILMWORLD

MEENAKSHI SAGAR LAUNCHED FIRST MARATHI FILM ‘MITWAA’

amanand Sagar’s granddaughter Meenakshi Sagar has launched her first Marathi film ‘Mitwaa’ on 8th March 2014. She feels Marathi filmmakers are more honest towards creativity than Hindi filmmakers, who are more commercial in their approach. Moreover, the Marathi film industry is passing through its heyday with several impressive films like Time Pass and Duniyadaari making crores, an astonishing development for Marathi films. ‘Mitwaa’ is a musical love story presented by Video Palace, with popular actors Swapnil Joshi and Sonalee Kulkarni. The film will be directed by Swapna Waghmare-Joshi who initially wanted to make the film in Hindi but once she talked about it with Swapnil Joshi, she changed her mind. The film will have a new heroine and the search for a new beautiful face has already started. Popular music channel ‘9X Jhakaas’ has organised a unique talent hunt ‘Lux Jhakaas Heroine’ Competition for this. In the first round 60 girls would be selected, to be shortlisted thereafter to just 30, who will be given professional training for dance and acting. The competition has evoked a lot of curiosity in the Marathi entertainment industry and fresh talents residing in various parts of Maharashtra are expected to be drawn to the competition.<

R

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

67


FILMWORLD

‘Student of the Year’ chose you. Did you choose’ 2 States’?

By Jyothi Venkatesh

PARINEETI AND

SHRADDHA MY ONLY COMPETITORS, SAYS

ALIA

68

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

My debut film as an actress—‘Student of the year’ chose me. I did not choose it. Similarly I’d say that ‘2 States’ chose me and it was not the other way round because I was signed for the film within 15 days of the release of ‘Student of the year’. Yet I would have chosen the film anyway given the choice because I fell for the book when I had read it and I knew that it could be easily made into a good film.

What is your role in the film? I am playing the role of Ananya Swaminathan in ‘2 States’. The story of ‘2 States’ is very easily relatable and each and every one would be able to identify with it, whether he or she is young or old, because it is what I’d say a ghar ghar ki kahani about inter caste marriage which is today a very sensitive subject. Ananya is a modern Tam Bram, who talks in Tamil to her mother played by Revathy but in Hindi to her friend Krish, a true blue Punjabi played by Arjun Kapoor because Hindi


FILMWORLD comes genetically to her, though she hails from Chennai. In personal life, I think in English and not Hindi. In fact, while acting in 2 States, though Hindi does not come so easily to me, I made it a point to be well prepared by sticking to my chaste lines in Hindi.

What was the brief given to you about your role? The brief given to me was that Ananya had also spent a lot of time in Kolkata besides Chennai and she is a Bharat Natyam danseuse. I worked very hard on my Bharat Natyam portions. The role of Ananya did drain me a lot but at the same time I’d also say that it was thought provoking role, since as an actress, I had to give the role a lot of thought to get into the skin of the character. It is not easy to convince your parents if they are opposed to the inter caste wedding.

Are you as outspoken as your dad Mahesh Bhatt? The main difference between my dad and me is that though I am not as blunt as he is, whereas he does not mind talking too much.

What do you like the most about your job of acting? What I like about the job of acting is the fact that I get to live an entirely different life with each character that I set out to play in my films, whether it was ‘Student of The Year’ or ‘Highway’ or for that matter ‘2 States’ or ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya’. It is all about getting the right note.

How do you feel now that three films of yours are being released this year back to back? Yes. It is true that I have as many as three films released this year, almost

back to back. I hope that it will not be too much for the audience to digest as far as I am concerned.

How is Abhishek Varman as a director? It was nice working with a young director like Abhishek Varman, who is a gem of a director. He was very patient and treated us with kid’s gloves and had a lot of understanding. The best thing about Abhishek Varman is that he knew what exactly he wanted from his artistes and was never in a mood to rush anybody through till he got the right take from them.

You shot to the top in a short period. How do you view competition? I do not consider any actress to be a competitor or feel that I should try to keep other actresses at bay because first and foremost I do not at all view at competition as a hostile factor because I feel that there is a place for every good actress in the film industry. Frankly, I feel that Parineeti Chopra and Shraddha Kapoor are my only competitors if you consider it on a healthy note.

Have you found the man with whom you would want to be in a relationship ? You have been previously linked with Varun Dhawan and Arjun Kapoor. The most important qualities that I want in my man is that he should be loyal and honest. Coming from a family in which everyone has strong opinions, I don’t want a guy who will push me down. I am yet to find that man in my life. Even if I get him, I am not foolish to flaunt his name in public because I feel personal life is too sacrosanct.<

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

69


FILMWORLD

SONAM WANTS TO WORK WITH HERRY AGAIN he film ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ was a huge success at the box office. But there are its two actors who never met at all. Herry Tangri, who played Farhan Akhtar's good friend in the movie, had hardly met Sonam Kapoor during the shoot. Both played a small but pivotal role in the movie. When Herry recently caught up with Sonam at a party, he went up to her and greeted her. And much to his astonishment, she recognized him even before he could introduce himself and was full of praises for him. Both were seen lost in deep conversation. Herry has worked with her in two movies, 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ & ‘Mausam', but as luck would have it, they hadn’t even meet then. Sonam said that she was looking forward to work with Herry again in their third film together but, this time she wants him to share screen space with her. Herry was thankful to her for making his day.<

T

HRISHITAA’S TRIBUTE TO NRITYA SAMRAGYI rishitaa Bhatt paid tribute to her guru, daughter of Nritya Samragyi Sitara Devi at the Acharya Chaube Maharaj Mahotsav! Hrishitaa Bhatt has established herself as a versatile actress with critically acclaimed roles in movies ‘AB TAK CHAPPAN’, ‘JIGYAASA’ & ‘HAASIL’ to her credit. She is a trained classical dancer having learnt Kathak from choreographer Shiamak Davar and with her grace and charm performed at the prestigious Acharya Chaube Maharaj Mahotsav drowning the audiences in awe of her spectacular flawless performance, an initiative by Kala Kriti Kendra & Bhavan’s Culture Centre. The dance was Kathak style, interspersed with items like semi-classical, Vrindavan Tandav and Krishna Leela. Hrishitaa exclaimed, ‘I've been trained in Kathak since the age of seven. It is an extremely wonderful feeling to being able to pay a tribute to your own Guru. Dancing has kept me going for all these years other than acting and dancing makes me happy and content. Indian Classical is very close to my heart and I will diligently pursue it for the rest of my life and will take every opportunity to perform on stage in front of audiences who appreciate the dance form.’<

H

70

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014


SPORT

NORTH EAST: A BUBBLING CAULDRON OF SPORTS TALENT Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur in football primarily, Tripura in tennis and Nagaland in archery, there is a lot that the region has given to the country and can offer in future. And it seems it is payback time for the country. Encouragement of sports in a big way, with regional sports festivals, and academies across the states can reap enormous dividends. This will benefit the country and also bring in the much needed integration and eradication of the alienation that the region as a whole feels.

By Ramu Sharma

few years ago if one was asked to name India’s sports hub the answer would have varied with football linked to Bengal, Kerala, Hyderabad and Punjab and Goa, cricket given over to Mumbai in general and hockey associated with Punjab, a state which overall produced the best sportspersons till distant Kerala with inputs from Karnataka clubbed for women’s athletics. People would then ponder and remember Manipur women whose contribution to the sport of weightlifting put all other states into

A

shade. But Manipur was not proficient in weightlifting alone. Their women footballers were equally efficient as were their men who fought on equal terms with the best of teams in the country during the nationals. Manipur provided the impetus to the North Eastern States and soon the sleepy if also politically volatile area became a bubbling cauldron for sports talent in India. This part of the country, scenery wise one of the most beautiful, endearing and with a culture as varied and haunting as anywhere in the vast world, has, over the years, the past few years, has rubbed the magic lamp as it were, to convert to a very strong and competitive sporting unit. And Mizoram’s winning the National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy last month was a strong reminder of the great possibilities existing in the North East.

Not in a long time had the media rolled out the red carpet as it did for the Santosh Trophy final that Mizoram won this year at Siliguri in Bengal. All the national newspapers gave it banner headlines on a day when other earthshaking events were happening: the Federation Cup matches in so many centers, the cricket test series, the English Premier League and the Formula car races. The next day also, surprisingly, whole pages were devoted to chronicling the progress of this tiny state on the football scene. Contrast this with the previous year’s Santosh final at Kochi that had got just a cursory mention, in the ‘sports in brief’ column, though the match was watched by a 40,000-strong crowd. The fact that Mizoram won was the main factor, this state hedged in between Tripura and Myanmar, and winning for the first time. It was surely an occasion for celebration. One had to

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

71


SPORT look up the atlas to spot this state, just as one had the school atlas taken out to locate when Uruguay reached the final of the last World Cup, the country that had produced players like Forlan and Suarez and Valencia. That too is a tiny country hedged in between the huge Brazil and the long and sprawling Argentina, already soccer superpowers. But Uruguay had already won the World Cup twice before World War II. It is not that the northeast had not attracted attention of the sports lovers. Manipur had lifted the Santosh trophy in 2002 and had reached the final the previous year. States in the region have been knocking at the door of fame and a spot in the sun. And for the Railways, too, that lost this year it was their first entry into the final in five decades. It had won the trophy thrice earlier, the last time in 1965, under the Olympian PK Banerjee’s captaincy, and with players like Balram and Appalaraju. So it was a heart-break time for them. However, the rise of Mizoram was what held the spotlight and that has not been surprising. Already players from that state had been donning the colors of elite Bengal and Goa clubs, and at one time they had 360 registered players in action in the Premier and I League tournaments for various clubs across the country. Their dominance in the game at the club level was next only to those of the Nigerians, as one scribe quipped. This is a trend that has not escaped notice of the football

72

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

organizers. An AIFF executive official, Tempo Bhutia, who incidentally hails from the region, said perceptively that a lot of problems of the Northeast could be solved if more facilities for football were provided in the region Not unsurprisingly, the most wellknown faces of Indian football in the last decade and more are from those regions, Baichung Bhutia and Sunil Chetri. ‘When there are power cuts for long stretches and there is very little employment avenues open to the young of the region, what else could they do,’ asked one distraught former player? This is fertile ground for

militancy and drug use, he lamented. With their rich and ancient tradition of martial arts expertise and physical agility, because of the terrain and sheer need for survival in such conditions, the people here are more exposed to outdoor activity. The hill regions and the water bodies make them natural swimmers and trekkers and they take to hunting and wrestling quite naturally. The fascinating collective activity of tribal dances

and acrobatics all are geared to make them some of the most fascinating cultural and sporting ambassadors. The intricate dances and music that needs a whole range of physical and mental coordination also make them excel in team games like football and hockey. No wonder some of the national hockey players like Toiba Singh and Tombi Singh come from this region. If one considers that the Brazilian and Spanish football owe in some measure of their excellence to the samba and flamenco dance forms one can discern the connection. Kunjurani Devi in weightlifting has been a national record holder and her record has not been bettered for three decades now. At the recent Delhi Commonwealth Games sportspersons from the region had grabbed a substantial number of medals but that feat got clouded out by the scandal that the games got mired in. Devvarman in Tennis, Suranjay Singh in boxing, Chanu in archery and Marica and Sandya in weightlifting had all brought glory to the country. Not to speak of the pocket-sized Mary Kom in boxing, bronze medal winner in the London Olympics. The royal head of Tripura, Pradyot Deb Barman, once exclaimed, ‘When we see our players represented in the national teams it helps us alleviate the mass sense of the people of the Northeast region not being part of India.<


HEALTH IS WEALTH

It is a pity that even when obesity and other life-style diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure are showing a relentless upward spiral in our country, people do not seem to care what they eat or drink. Take fruit juice, for instance. On an exhaustive summer day oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s normal inclination is to have a refreshing bottle of refrigerated fruit juice, thinking that it is healthy. But he or she is only partly right. For, while home-made fruit juices are healthy without doubt, bottled and packaged ones are not: they have higher sugar content besides several additives. Secondly, the person may already be over-weight and pre-diabetic, if not diabetic. Every serving of packaged fruit juice consumed will only take the person nearer to a crisis. So think twice before you reach out for a bottled and packaged fruit juice.......

By Dr P K Mukherjee

ummer days are here again and people are tempted to gulp down lots of packaged fruit juices to quench their thirst. The general impression is that packaged fruit juices are low in sugar and hence are a safer alternative to fizzy colas and carbonated beverages. They also think that the juice comes from fruits and hence must be healthy. Many fruit juices boast of added vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium. This consideration also weighs with people, who opt for packaged fruit drink instead of a fizzy cola. But let us consider hard facts. A bevy of MNCs and national companies market fruit juices and beverages prepared from fruit juices or fruit juice concentrates. They invariably also add some permitted preservatives, colouring agents and flavours for better acceptability of their products. Tetra packs have increased acceptability on account of their longer shelf life: they keep the contents safe and maintain freshness and flavour intact. Product variants based on several fruits like orange, apple, guava, pomegranate, litchi, grape and so on are available in the market. Of these, however, very few are prepared directly from actual fruits. A survey of the market reveals that only a few like Real Activ and Tropicana (100 %), which are available in tetra packs, are fruit juices. Others are

S

prepared from fruit juice concentrate of varying proportion. While Real Fruit Power (orange) has 12.45 % of orange juice concentrate, Tropicana (orange) has 8.2 % and Sach (orange) only 3.5 %. While it is true that packaged fruit juices and drinks are fortified with some vitamins and minerals, there is no escaping the fact that they have high calorie and high sugar content, almost comparable to fizzy colas. For example, while a 100 ml of a packaged fruit juice may contain 45-55 Kcal and 12-14 g of sugar, same amount of fizzy cola typically contains around 40 Kcal and 10 g of sugar. Although a couple of 100 % packaged fruit juices contain no added sugar (they also claim to contain no added preservatives, colours or flavours) their calorie content compares with fizzy colas. Therefore, packaged fruit juices may not be as healthy as they are taken to be. Consumption of sugar-rich packaged fruit drinks could spell danger to diabetics and those who are predisposed to the disease (prediabetics). A study sponsored by the Indian Council of Medical research (ICMR) found that

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

73


HEALTH IS WEALTH

there are 62 million people across the country who are diabetic and 77 million pre-diabetic. A 250 ml glass of packaged fruit drink is equivalent to 6 tea-spoons of sugar even when no sugar has been added. This will result in very high sugar rush which means instant burst of energy. This burst of energy will drop immediately causing fatigue, lethargy and irritability. The high intake of packaged fruit juice can also lead to an increased risk of diabetes because consuming sugarrich juice could lead to acute glucose toxicity. In the long run, this may damage the liver, eyes and kidneys. Also, the excess sugar consumed through packaged fruit juices may increase the risk of obesity and cardiovascular problems. Do not forget that apart from added sugar the packaged fruit juices contain a spate of chemicals in the form of added

74

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

preservatives, colours and flavours. Therefore, packaged fruit juices are not that healthy as they are claimed to be. Particularly, the diabetics and pre-diabetics must avoid these fruit juices because they cause spikes in the blood sugar, especially when consumed after a meal. The healthier option for them would be to eat whole fruits. The whole fruits not only provide you with antioxidants and important phytochemicals and fibres but deliver fewer calories as compared with juices. For example, one orange has around 62.9 Kcal while a 250 ml glass of orange juice may typically contain around 110 Kcal. The whole or raw fruit is helpful in another way also. After a smoothie of whole fruits, your appetite to consume food gets a bit curbed. In other words a 250 ml of orange juice would have at least 3-4 oranges. If you eat 3-4 oranges, you would be full but if you have a glass of orange juice you would yet want to eat more thereby consuming increased calories in the process. Therefore, eating whole or raw fruits is, by far, a much healthier option. However, owing to excessive workloads and stifling deadlines most people do not have the inclination or time to cut a fruit and eat it. Their lifestyle requirement is compelling them to opt for the packaged fruit juice. But while choosing the fruit juice they must carefully read the nutrition chart printed on these products so that an informed choice can be made.<


BOOK

UNABASHED POLITICAL FICTION

By M R Dua

he book is, the author claims, his ‘best’ defence of Manmohan Singh whom he served for four years whereas actually he takes great pains to show how the prime minister was not able to act on the dictates of his conscience while holding the highest executive post in the country. Glancing through Dr

T

Sanjaya Baru’s book one gets the unmistakable impression that the author has some personal grouse to settle. In fact, a lot indeed has come in the media as to how, after coming back from a juicy stint in Singapore, Dr Baru tried hard but was denied a second innings in the Prime Minister’s Office. He had wanted the coveted job desperately. Dr Baru, while holding a privileged position in the PMO from 2004 to 2008 during UPA-I,

has had innumerable opportunities to get close to Manmohan Singh, share his thoughts as well as study his disposition, opinion, feelings and even decisions on various national and international issues. It is this confidence that he has betrayed and, along with his own spin on the stories, passed on for us to gulp down. Baru writes: ‘… it was my proximity with Dr Singh that finally defined my access and influence…Dr Singh had come to assign me the role of a referee.’ The book became a hot potato and joined the club of ‘best sellers’, not because of his interpretations or revelations, but because it served a great political purpose during the elections. It provided ammunition to the BJP to attack the Congress Party and its top leader Sonia Gandhi who, according to Baru, used to dictate to the PM her decisions on many substantive issues. He delves deep on the differences between Sonia and Manmohan Singh and discusses them in detail. But he fails to explain how he came across these dissensions. It has been said that Baru fictionalized events based on the gossip mill: he actually had no access to the exact nature of the PM’s relationship with the Congress president. If what Baru tries to theorize is correct, the moot question is why did not the PM, holding such onerous responsibility to the nation, follow up his conscience and resign. Interestingly Baru has not rebutted any of the criticisms of the obviously objectionable claims made in the book which has been butchered by the Congress Party and its spin doctors, Manmohan Singh’s daughter and his current media advisor and Abhishek Manu Singhvi who decried the author for violating the oath he had taken while joining the government and betraying the PM’s trust. Many critics said the book was a stab in the back of Manmohan Singh. However, the author maintains that it is the best possible defence of the old man. As is well known Manmohan Singh is essentially a teacher, researcher and an

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

75


BOOK acknowledged economist, but he has no gift of the gab. He has his own assessment and understanding of his duty to the country which destiny bestowed upon him. Baru generated controversy by bragging that Singh was dependent on his ‘wise’ counsel on all important matters of state such as union cabinet appointment, interministry and inter-party issues and matters of moments such as civil

Title

conspicuous individual, along with the PM, who ran the Government of India. On the issue of corruption Baru writes: ‘Dr Singh’s general attitude which he adopted throughout his career in the government seemed to me that he would himself maintain the highest standards of probity in public life, but would not impose it on others.’ Sanjaya Baru seems to have

: Accidental Prime Minister The making and unmaking of Manmohan Singh

Author

: Sanjaya Baru

Publisher : Penguin / Viking Pages

: 320

Price

: 599

nuclear deal with the US president and so on. Though Baru was supposed to function as a mere media adviser, his egoistic mindset and fertile imagination seem to have led him to fancy that he was the most

76

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014

been overwhelmed by his manufactured ‘I, me, myself” formula; it demonstrates his simple shallowness. He pontificates: …his (Singh’s) inability to quit when humiliated by Rahul Gandhi by tearing the ordinance and trashing it

as ‘non-sense’ after the Cabinet had approved the very same instrument— especially when he (PM) was abroad— is inexplicable… is it the same PM…who had threatened to quit when the Indo-US civil nuclear deal was at stake in the UPA-I? Baru has also bared his undesirable propensity of commenting on union ministers and senior party leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and his senior colleagues in the PMO. He crosses the limit of etiquette and established conventions when he writes: ‘… I warned him….’ several times. Airing such boasts in front of friends in drawing rooms or at cocktail parties could be okay; putting them in memoirs by a man who had been serving the very same person is not. The book has given rise to cascade of snide remarks about Baru: prime minister’s eldest daughter professor Upinder Singh of Delhi University has dubbed the memoir as lacking in trust, unethical and a betrayal. She said: ‘It is an audacious account with so-called quotes…’ adding, ‘it could hardly be described as an unbiased or objective book.’ Union minister Kapil Sibal termed it ‘fiction’. A foreign television network described the author as the ‘mischief man’. CPM’s Prakash Karat labelled the author as ‘a political turncoat,’ and described the book as a timeserver’s account that is highly subjective and tendentious. The book has also been seen as Baru’s political bomb as it came out in the midst of elections. Baru had got doctoral degree in economics from JNU, and later worked with economic newspapers like the Financial Express and the Business Standard. Sometime after the release of the book Baru claimed as an afterthought that he had no control over the publishers who brought out the volume during the elections. But he contradicted himself when he added that if the book had come out after the elections he would have been blamed for lacking in guts.<


NEW TECHNOLOGY

WOW, 3-D PRINTERS ARE HERE! It is a kind of new industrial revolution when one can manufacture things by 3-D printing. In this you do not work on ink cartridges, but on various types of materials like composites, metals, plastics etc in injectable form to produce things of one’s chosen design. It has numerous applications in making jewelry, medicine…… and even nuclear bombs. By Manish Dixit

he advent of 3-D printers has started a revolution of sorts in diverse fields. The familiar 2-D printers have reigned supreme over the printing field for decades, doing its job on paper, plastic, metal or T-shirts. Now the printers have gone 3dimensional (3-D). That is, the printers can now print and create images in three-dimension. While the 2-D means area (length X breadth), 3-D means depth also. Interestingly, the 3-D printers, like many other consumer electronic devices, are offshoots of defence related research and development. 3-D printing is based on ALM (additive layer manufacturing) principle, or powder metallurgy which is a highly advanced technology mastered by very few countries. In ALM technique powdered metal or composite material is melted by special laser beams and added tiny layer by tiny layer, to build uniquely designed objects. This technique is of immense use in building parts of nuclear and thermo-nuclear bombs. Such printers are very costly—ranging from a few lakh to 25 lakh rupees, though a home version is available for Rs 30,000. The 3-D printing principle can be understood by a simple example: while

T

It is now easier to make perfect dentures by the 3-D printing mechanism

How does a 3-D printer work? magine that a 2-D printer is printing playing cards. Each card is printed and added on one by one to make one stack of 52 cards. Just a single card has practically no three dimensions, only two. When more and more cards are printed and added, the stack acquires the third dimension, finally reaching the dimension of a full stack. This is exactly how the 3-D printing works. Each layer is added via molten ink or any other material which is heated by laser beams and which solidifies when it comes in contact with air. This is what is called additive layer manufacture. In other words, virtually any material that can be squirted from a nozzle in very thin layer can eventually form a 3-D (solid) substance. The only condition is that the material and laser beam have to be compatible.

I

printing the 2-D image of a pen or pencil on paper, you simply get a plain picture. But if you need an exact solid specimen (three- dimensional), 3-D printing can deliver it, and in whatever

colour combination you want. So a 3D-printed pen would be like one you hold in your hand! The technology offers fantastic possibilities: one can re-build a costly pen spare, not

MAY, 2014 LOKAYAT |

77


NEW TECHNOLOGY

Slow printing process is the problem oday the speed of 3-D printers is slow due to limitations of the additive layering process. But the day is not far off when we will be able to 3-D print our household items, or go to a nearby commercial 3-D printer to get things like the self-designed metal-frame of spectacles done quickly.

T

available in market, or a worn-out knob of oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 50-year old favourite radio by using 3D technology! Three dimensional printers vary according to needs. Recently, neurosurgeons made an exact replica of a patientâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s skull, which was damaged due to a bone disease. First, 3-Dmapping of the entire brain along with surrounding tissues was done and the data fed into a computer, which directed the printer to make the new skull. It was then surgically fitted in a successful delicate operation! Scientists are also working on a 3-D printed artificial human heart! One man in the USA had lost half of one finger in an accident and was without a health insurance. He got a computer-educated friend to feed exact dimensions of his finger into a 3-D printer. The prosthetic part costing nearly $ 4000 was made and surgically fitted. The cost of this new prosthetic part through this printing technology was only a fraction 3-D printing technology can also help make of the original jewelry. It has been found ideal in reproducing a broken part to match the original cost. In another case surgeons fitted a very small wind pipe, manufactured by a 3-D printer, on to a child born with a life-threatening deformity. Scientists in Sweden have made a huge 3-D printer that is making block-by-block a house in modules, which when assembled would create a brand new home! China has built a 300-foot 3-D printer to commercially build houses using recyclable, environment friendly green material! 3-D printers are also being used to replicate antique furniture, or even the US Presidentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s desk in his Oval Office! These antiques are usable if not as durable as the original teakwood.< 3-D printing technology is used now in creating artificial body parts of perfect fit

78

| LOKAYAT MAY, 2014


E magazine may2014lokayat  

lokayat english political magazine, lokayat hindi political magazine

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you