Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who is the more lethal? Karuna or the LTTE

In Southern India, leaders who aspire to play the role of kingmakers in a para-jumbled scenario that will possibly emerge after 16th May are raising a hue and cry over the alleged atrocities carried out by the Srilankan army against the Tamil refugees in their war against the LTTE terrorists.

Karunanidhi, Jayalalita, Vaiko all these ‘Tamil’ sympathizers or more appropriately ‘Tamil opportunist’ have said that they are against this ‘misadventure’ on the part of the Srilankan government. A misadventure that is aimed towards dismantling one of the most feared terrorist outfits.

Someone needs to remind them that this supposed misadventure has been going for the past 2 years. But none of them voiced their dissent against it till now.

The alleged atrocities against the Tamils as purported by Karunanidhi has more to do with garnering the Tamil votebank rather than his genuine sympathy for them.

Kaurnanidhi and Vaiko have openly come out in support of the LTTE which is a banned terrorist organization, not only in India but worldwide. They have orchestrated protests against Indian establishment in UK and in other foreign countries so as to put pressure of the Indian government to use its clout and ask the Srilankan government to stop the offensive.

Even the Congress, whose own leader Rajiv Gandhi was killed by the LTTE has acted submissively to the pressure of its allies and has time and again sent senior officials to Srilanka as a show of its willingness to tow the lines of Karuna and Vaiko and to make sure that they are not displeased least their support is required to form the next government.

The stand taken by Congress is one is driven by short term political gains but in in return they have bartered a peaceful-safe neighbour.

Have not Fingers been pointed at India too for the same level of atrocities that our troops have alleged to commit in Kashmir and in the North east. But national interest has always prevailed. So why should the present Indian leadership or for that matter any leadership pressurize the Lankans in what is their internal matter to stop their assault against a brutal terrorist organization, an organization which has killed numerous high profile leaders and many civilians and even to this day continues to use innocent unarmed combatants and small children for their own safety.

This continuous pressure politics by the Indian government has alienated Srilanka further away from us. Though our old ‘friend’ China has not lost this opportunity to help the tiny island nation by supplying it with arms and materials.

And it is not that the Srilankan government has neglected the refugees. It is doing everything that it can. Independent observers operating in Srilanka have said that the refugees are being taken care of. One needs to understand that even the best of human efforts sometimes appear insignificant in times of human calamities. Give them time, the country has gone through a difficult phase for many years.

All this may seem immaterial now, but years later I hope we don’t use the present Srilankan crisis as an anecdote to illustrate as how not to conduct your foreign policies.

Morality and principles are the two most overly used yet the least applied term in Indian political arena. And it can best be seen by the way Congress has reacted to the rhetoric of a leader who has no personal credentials and a person who prides in calling Rama a drunkard.

It is very sad that it has so easily forgotten the killing of one of its own leader who was killed because he sent the Indian peace keeping force to Srilanka to the very same job that the Lankan army is doing now.

Congress is a “national party”, the grand old party of India. Need we remind this to them again and again?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Go on Das'ji

To be in Bihar and to not be part of any political activity is like living in the holy city of Ujjain and yet failing to take a dip in the Kshipra.

Voluntarily or involuntarily, as the election time approaches you find yourself being attracted to any of the many types of informal, formal political gatherings. Such meetings take place at every conceivable place. Outside home under a mango tree, in the road side teashop, in a temple and sometimes even outside a crematorium. If you have an opinion to share you will find an ear to listen.

Maheshwar Das who retired as deputy SP one months back now finds himself in the illuminated company of politicians who stay in our residential colony.

Dasji, my immediate neighbour is contesting as an MP from the well known Hajipur seat of Bihar. Hajipur is just 15 kms away from Patna and is currently represented by Union minister and Lok Jan Shakti party supremo, Ram Bilas Paswan.

Hajipur has been Paswan's citadel for years and he has created a record of winning that seat by a record margin in the previous election.

It is a reserved seat and my friendly Dasji is pitted against Paswan and Ramsundar Das who is representing (JD)(U).

Dasji a dalit, has started his political move on the right foot as he has managed to secure a BSP ticket. 5 years ago this would not have been significant news, but now with Maywati’s enhanced status it is something big if not spectacular.

Interestingly until he got his nomination, Dasji used to pat my pet German Shepard, Bela, by calling her Mayawati. but ever since he got the ticket everything is back to normal. Though Bela does occasionally misses the tag of being a 'dog' representing the oppressed mass.

Now I leave it upon the readers to apply their own sense of imagination as to what is the significant behind calling my revered Bela as Mayawati.

On the first day of his campaigning I too jumped in the cavalcade of his white Boloeros covered in marching elephants embedded on Blue flags ( representing BSP) as we rode towards Hajipur, the land of world famous small Bananas.

Earlier our former civil servant wanted to wear a black bundy ( jacket) over the traditional white kurta, but he was consented to change his mind by my father and he amended it for a more cooler brown one and we proceeded.

Cries of "Jahan hai Das-wahin hai Aas" filled the air as we crossed the majestic Gandhi Setu connecting Patna and Hajipur. Seating in the back seat I could clearly see the elation on Dasji 's face as he enjoyed every bit of attention that he was getting. Ahhh...the charm of being a leader.

We addressed two political gatherings on the first day and I was not surprised to see a sizable number of people everywhere we went. Probably it was the curiosity to know the unknown or it was the Mayawati effect or most probably the political atmosphere that drew the people out in the basking unforgiving sun.

People with folded hands with glitter and hope in those small eyes gathered around us and their love was reciprocated by folded hands and a bowed head. Dasji at his modest best.

I have heard and read about the concept of giant killers. An unknown-unheard candidates arises from nowhere and trounces a more powerful opponent. Whether I will witness the same in Hajipur will become clear in the third week of May, but if you ask that whether I want to witness another instance of giant killing then my honest reply will be, yes...why not!!!

Go on Dasji...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Saffron surge in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh which sends 29 MPs to the parliament and is traditionally known for its bipolar politics is experiencing a changed sceanrio as lesser parties like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) have started making their presence felt in the central state.

In the previous 2004 general election, the BJP riding on a popular wave and a strong anti-Congress feeling won 25 of Madhya Pradesh's 29 seats with the rest going to Congress. Prominent winners of Congress included Kamalnath and JyotirAditya Scindia.

This time too, experts feel that BJP will romp home quite comfortably. This so called positive feeling for BJP is not being attributed to any national issues like internal security or job opportunities but local issues on which BJP is on a strong platform.

The state government under Shivraj Singh Chauhan has grown stronger with each passing day. His simple yet effective way of governing and his emphasis on development has made sure that the BJP cadre has enough related ammunitions to deal with any congress tirade.

The different state of affairs which the state saw under Digvijay Singh and the scenario under the present CM is quite stark.

In the previous general election the state was virtually nil when it came to good roads and regular electricity supply. But that has changed. Similarly the CM who himself comes from a rural background has made amply sure that the rural segment is not ignored due to which the state has witnessed an all-round development.

The party faced many a discontent during the previous assembly election but most of them were settled amicably as every party leader knows that in the present time BJP is going through a golden period in the state and it would be suicidal to go against the party wish, especially against the CM.

The BJP is functioning so well in the state that former Union minister Sushma Swaraj - the BJP's Election in charge for Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand - is in the fray from this Vidisha constituency. Call it the real ‘feel good’ factor.

Out of the 29 seats there are more than at least half a dozen seat where the contested is expected to be one sided. Most of them in favor of BJP. Congress though can safely bet their money only on Kamalnath and Scindia.

The only million dollar question that one can speculate on is whether the BJP will be bale to improve on its previous tally of 25 seats or not. Politically it is very difficult, maybe next to impossible. In the previous election the mass came out to vote for two reasons; First to remove Congress and secondly to install BJP.

This time the first factor is irrelevant.

Secondly the region that is attached to UP is an area where SP and BSP do exercise some influence. Now it remains to be seen how much of that influence will be transformed into votes.

The lesser parties may not appear as a very big issue , but still they have kept both BJP and Congress busy.

Bihar braces up for elections

Congress president, Ms Sonia Gandhi’s decision to walk away from the RJD and LJP in the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar was a historic action of the party.

Though it is a different thing that it was the RJD and the LJP leaders,Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan who provoked the Congress to announce its candidature in all the 40 seats from the state.

The two parties formed their alliance and left only three seats for the Congress-the largest partner in the UPA. The LJP-RJD left Aurangabad(Nikhil Kumar),Sasaram(Ms Meria Kumar) and Madhubani(Shakeel Ahmad),all sitting Congress MPs for the Big brother in the UPA. The decision was unilateral and the Congress was not consulted.

In 2004 elections,Lalu had allotted six seats to the Congress,three were successful.Even in the assembly elections,Congress candidates were selected by Lalu Yadav in Bihar.The party which ruled Bihar since 1937(Sr Krishna Sinha days) was reduced to just ten legilaslators in the House.

Back in 2000 elections, all the 20 Congress MLAs were made ministers in Rabri Government when the Congress decided to extend support to the RJD’s minority ministry.

Though,Yadav and Paswan have extended their alliance by inducting the Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav into their 134 seats fold(UP,Bihar and Jharkhand),they have refrained from attacking Ms Sonia Gandhi or the Congress in their election speeches. They are in fact reiterating they are still in the UPA.

The same gesture has been reciprocated by the AICC general secretary, Rahul Gandhi,who addressed several election meetings in the first round in Bihar. Rahul did not attack either Lalu or Paswan,but severely criticized the chief minister, Nitish Kumar, alleging the NDA government in Bihar misused the central funds allotted to Bihar .

Paswan and Lalu are claiming they have got nothing to do with the Third Front. They have also denied any links with Sharad Pawar and did not include the NCP in their electoral adjustments of constituencies in Bihar.

By concentrating in 134 seats during the campaign, the Dalit-MY (Muslim-Yadav) leaders are trying to strengthen their bargaining power in the post-election scene at the Centre. They want to keep Mayawati and the Third Front in check ,they have little option in the post –result scene. They can not align with the NDA led by the BJP nor can go with the Third Front,which has no existence in the three states.

The Left Parties have little impact in Bihar,Jharkhand or Uttar Pradesh. They can ignore the NCP,Third Front or Maywati in Bihar and Jharkhand, but they can not ignore the Congress.

The 40 seats from Bihar are witnessing multi-cornered contest every where with the presence of the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party candidates in the fray.

The Congress which has fielded all the three sitting MPs,nominated children and relatives of the senior Congress leaders and also allowed Lalu Yadav’s brother-in-law Sadhy Yadav,to contest from Bettiah against LJP’s Prakash Jha,a film producer.

The party kept the caste considerations while selecting the nominees and admitted Lovely Anand,wife of Ananad Mohan Singh, currently in jail following his conviction in Gopalganj District Magistrate murder case. Lovely too was convicted by the Fast Track Court but acquitted by Patna High Court. She has been nominated from a Rajput dominated constituency of Sheohar which was once represented by her husband.

The current trends of electioneering indicate, the Janata Dal(U)_ BJP combine may get more than what they got in 2004 elections. Together,they are expected to capture between 25 and 30 seats and the RJD-LJP may get 10-12 seats. The Congress may be confined to one to three seats only. In 2004,RJD had 24 seats, LJP four and the NDA 12 MPs from Bihar.


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