Friday, June 14, 2013

The infighting in AP Congress...

 The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.

The past one week witnessed another hotbed of political activity in Andhra Pradesh.

The below image is a full page advertisement that the Chief Minister put out in various newspapers last week. Various hoardings with a similar image are also seen all over the state.

These are the various schemes that the Chief Minister is taking credit for. These are the same schemes with which the Congress plans to fight the elections in 2014 on "development" plank.

As you can see, most of the schemes are either named after Rajiv or Indira. Some are tactically named as "mother" - any image can be convieniently used for those schemes!

Now, it is customary that the opposition parties oppose these schemes and continously berate them. It is also quite possible that second rung leaders of the ruling party might oppose the schemes for political survival. What's neither expected nor customary is this - cabinet ministers of this Chief Minister themselves opposing the manner in which the schemes are announced and implemented!

Sample two schemes: 1. Rajiv Yuva Kiranalu and 2. Bangaru Talli. The Chief Minister unilaterally announces these schemes without taking the ministers into confidence. Many ministers, including the PCC chief, were severely critical of the CM for announcing Rajiv Yuva Kiranalu. One minister, D.L.Ravindra was the most vocal of all. Over the past one year, he has openly berated the Chief Minister for his style of functioning. When "Bangaru Talli" was announced, DL again went to the press criticizing the program. When the PCC chief was asked about the program, his terse reply was "I will find out and tell you"!

DL also constantly complains that all that Kiran Kumar is doing is to rename schemes introduced by YSR and steal credit. Meanwhile, another minister Mr. C.Ramachandraih, a Chiranjeevi loyalist, constantly tells that Chiranjeevi will lead in 2014 elections. While the Chief Minister tom toms every scheme to be his brain child, the PCC chief and his coterie (which includes the Deputy CM) try to sell them as Congress party schemes! Nowhere are they seen crediting these schemes to the CM - a far cry from the days of YSR.

Unable to take all this criticism from within the cabinet, the Chief Minister sacked DL Ravindra Reddy from the cabinet, while DL was away holidaying in London. This set off another backlash - from other ministers! They were again severely critical of the manner in which he was sacked! Another flight journey to Delhi settled matters in favour of the Chief Minister. So bad was the backlash that the chief whip termed this decision as that of the "high command's" and not the CM alone!

In the last month, 2 ministers had to resign and 1 minister was sacked. Since the second half of the budget session is ongoing, any reshuffle will have to wait till the session is over and the CM makes a couple of trips to Delhi!

The disqualification of MLAs

On June 8th, the Speaker of the assembly announced his decision to disqualify 15 legislators - 9 from the Congress and 6 from the TDP. With this the total number of disqualifications in this assembly has gone upto 34. So why were these legislators disqualified. In March, the TRS and YSRCP introduced a no-confidence motion in the assembly. TDP decided to abstain, because they did not want to be seen as teaming up with YSRCP. So a whip was issued to it's legislators accordingly. 6 of them went against the whip. 9 of Congress MLAs too voted in favour, and hence attracted disqualification.

However, what's crucial to note is that the Speaker gave his decision after June 3 (after following "due" procedure). Since the life of the current assembly is now less than one year, no bye-elections will be held. This essentially means that the half way mark in the assembly is now 140 (as against 147). The Congress has 146 members and therefore is safe for the next one year!

A complete Deja Vu

Today's situation in the congress is remniscient of yesteryears, where infighting and frequent trips to Delhi ruled the roost. For every small decision (including appointments to PCC commitees), both the CM and PCC chief rush to New Delhi to hold parleys with Ghulam Nabi Azad first and madam next (provided she obliges to give an audience). Infact, Ghulam Nabi Azad can double up as the Chief Minister of AP too!

So bad is the confidence of those in power, that they have been postponing the local body elections for a long time, citing court rulings at first and administrative problems now. A whopping Rs. 1500 crore grant from the center has been withheld because of these postponements. The CM himself as announced that panchayat elections will be held in June. We are already half way into June and no notification yet!

It is in the blood of the congressmen to ignore those criticize the Gandhis. None of the government advertisements have the picture of YSR. Most of the posters that congress leaders put up also does not have his image. The open defiance by many ministers (including the Dy. CM and the PCC chief); the frequent trips to Delhi; and the time wasted in infighting is what led to the downfall of the congress many times earlier too, and 2014 will not be any exception. The ultimate loser in all this is the governance in the state, which no one seems to care about!

PS: For those interested in the programs mentioned in the ad, the below three images  will help. 

The kind of people that were at the helm...

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.

Normally, regular tripe needs to be ignored. However, if that regular tripe is dished out by folks who have held high positions in the government, it exposes the concerning state of affairs under this UPA regime.

We are talking about this latest tripe that Mr. Harish Khare, former press advisor to the Prime Minister of India, dished out. In this article titled "The Murthys and the Maoists", he seeks to draw a comparison between ... well, never mind - it's very difficult to decipher what he wants to say.

There are some things that are clearly evident though. Topmost amongst them is his contempt towards Mr. Narayana Murthy. Why? Because apparently Mr. Murthy demanded to be seated next to the Prime Minister in a dinner he hosted! Hawww - how cheap of Mr. Murthy to even dream of sitting beside the Prime Minister! 

But that's not his major grouse. Since Mr. Murthy dared to advise the government publicly on some matter a few months ago, Mr. Khare gets angry and points out to the nepotism that Mr. Murthy himself resorted to. Merely because Mr. Murthy suggested something to this government on a public platform, he ceases to exists as a private businessman. 

Earlier too, Mr. Khare has demonstrated extreme intolerance to people's movements that questioned the functioning of this UPA regime. In the exalted world of Harish Khare, the citizens and leaders from various fields rather shut up and suffer than demand/suggest/advise the awesome duo of Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh. You think I am exaggerating? Sample this:

That (heyday of civil society triumphalism two years ago) was the time when India’s corporate leaders thought they had the ethical credentials to write open letters to the Prime Minister and preach virtues of good governance.

You know - you need to have "ethical credentials" to write an open letter to this Prime Minister! Such is the contempt with which the former advisor to the PM of this country, holds for feedback! 

And then suddenly and bizarrely, Mr. Khare moves on to praise Rahul Gandhi! Congress Vice President's Rahul Gandhi's trip to Chattisgarh after the murderous massacre of 27 Congress leaders is apparently a "commendable journey of political solidarity." It would have been political solidarity if Rahul Gandhi makes a similar visit when people from other parties are killed! And then Mr. Khare wonders if this attack "has helped Mr. Gandhi re-set his ideological compass."  He goes on to dedicate another paragraph to explain to us the greatness of Rahul. 

It has been proven beyond doubt that that the only thing that reigns supreme in Rahul Gandhi's thought process is confusion! Yet, without any provocation, commentators like Mr. Khare lose no opportunity to praise the congress leadership! 

You must be wondering by now - but where did Maoism come into picture when we are talking about Mr. Murthy? That's where the genius of Mr. Harish Khare stumps you. Mr. Murthy, and by extension, the corporate world, is very demanding of the government. The Maoists are also very demanding. Let's ignore that the only difference is that Corporate India provides employments and Maoists murder people - both of them make stringent demands on the government, that's it! 

The ilk of Mr. Harish Khare can't even summon the decency to call murderers as murderers. 

"The May 25 attack was the boldest ideological challenge that the Maoists have posed to the country’s political leadership."

The heinous killing of 27 political leaders is apparently the "boldest ideological challenge". This line is in the same article in which Mr. Murthy is derided for wanting to sit next to the Prime Minister. This is the depths to which the commentators can plunge to. 

His contempt towards criticism does not end here. Apparently, "the country has periodically been treated to a mock controversy over whether Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council was usurping the government’s space and prerogatives, .."

Mock controversy? Sonia Gandhi's NAC is beyond reproach, huh? Now we cannot even peacefully criticize the NAC for usurping the government's space! Sample another line:

The UPA’s approach has been to let the corporate marauders run amok while salving its democratic conscience with a slew of pro-poor, aam aadmi -centric initiatives. 

Corporate marauders? Why does this ilk have so much contempt to people who provide employment to the people of India? Why do they talk of this as a crime? What possible damage has Mr. Murthy done to the economy of this country that Mr. Harish Khare reserves such words for him? The more we try to understand this thought process, the more confused we get. Is this really the quality of people that this Prime Minister has "allowed himself" to be surrounded by? 

PS: Notice how Mr. Khare uses the phrase "allowed himself to be persuaded" three times to describe various decisions of the PM, Mr. Murthy and Rahul Gandhi. He could have merely said "agreed", but then that would make matters too simple I guess! 

The ranting continues....

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.

Within the BJP, if Modi is India then Chouhan is decidedly Bharat.

This amazing assertion by deputy editor of CNN-IBN in her long rant on the RSS, BJP and Modi merely reconfirms how distant her ilk is, from reality on the ground. 

She arrives at this conclusion, by citing a few examples of how Mr. Modi is very pro-industralist and how Mr. Chouhan is "rooted" to RSS (and therefore introduced Surya Namaskar etc). Sagarika Ghose and most of her ilk, have steadfastly refused to accept or even look at Mr. Modi's achievements outside the the "Vibrat Gujarat Summit".

In Gujarat, there is a Krishi Mahotsav held every year. Would this come under India or Bharat Ms. Sagarika? There is 24/7 three phase power supply to villages in Gujarat. Is this benefitting India or Bharat, Ms. Sagarika? Gujarat focusses a lot of women empowerment, girl child etc - again, where do these beneficiaries belong to? India or Bharat? Most importantly, those who voted for Narendra Modi - are they from India or Bharat?

Not to miss another point - this naive story of "two Indias"  that is being peddled needs to be stopped urgently. How is it even possible to reduce the multi-faceted complexity of India to just two points? And even while splitting it up as India and Bharat, why does this ilk look down upon "India" as if this people are not their citizens? 

A personality cult threatens to overturn the sangh’s prized principle of “collective leadership”  and later she says that the 1998 and 1999 victories  "have been hard for the sangh to stomach but which it was forced to accept."

I am totally confused - the BJP as a political party has to be led by a person. It at all it endorses, the Sangh will have to endorse a "personality" to lead the elections in 2014. So why does this ilk keep bringing up this personality cult issue again and again into the picture?

"Chouhan does not project himself in social media, or through rock concerts, or at FICCI, but is far more ostensibly committed to sangh ideology "

What does "projecting" in social media have to do anything with Sangh ideology? If a Chief Minister is invited by FICCI, he should refuse saying he believes in "Sangh Ideology"? And Modi never projected himself through rock concerts - another mis-leading comment by Ms. Ghose. How does Chouhan become better than Modi (or vice versa) because of the above three mentioned points?

An endorsement of Modi would also mean that the sangh swallow its ideological commitments on hindutva, for more innocuous slogans of “development”, “nationalist progress” and secularism defined as “India first.” 

Is she suggesting that the Sangh's ideology prioritizes hindutva over others? How does she know this? Has she attended their Shakhas? Or any of their other gatherings? Or does she have an insight into their thought process through magical powers of telepathy?

Forces loosely allied to the sangh have engaged in moral policing actions against women visiting bars in coastal Karnataka.

Sri Ram Sene is loosely allied to the Sangh? How does Sagarika Ghose get away with such open lies in today's day and age?

In fact, it is the undertow of the sangh that has prevented the BJP from developing a modern approach to Muslims, 

A "modern approach" to Muslims?? Would a slogan like "Sabka saath sabka vikaas" constitute a "modern approach”? Why should there be a "special positive agenda" towards Muslims? Because the Congress party screwed them up? If so, what is stopping this ilk from demanding answers from Congress? Instead, they eulogize congress for being pro-minority! And why fetish for a special approach towards Muslims only? What about the other sections that come under the classification of minorities? It still beats how “equal” importance to all citizens tantamounts to discrimination against minority groups!

Most of the article meanders around such sundry arguments. At times, the Sangh is criticized; at times, the BJP is criticized; and at times, Mr Modi is criticized. Sagarika Ghose's perpetual hatred towards the Sangh is well known, given her rants on twitter. 

It is still unclear as to what the agenda of this ilk is - what else explains their reluctance to discuss the social work of the RSS? What else explains their reluctance to view Narendra Modi's governance in totality? Why cherry pick points that suit your slant? The article is a repetitive rant to just further their agenda of stopping Narendra Modi at any cost, and asserting that the Sangh has lost it's relevance (we have been hearing this from the past 60 years). If that involves spreading mis-information or half information, so be it. 

The AP resignation saga

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.

The resignation drama of two chargesheeted ministers in Andhra Pradesh has not just set off a flurry of political activity in the state, but has also set off a flurry of news activity on the “national” media. However, in a tearing hurry to come up with a 5-10 minutes slot, most of them presented poorly researched news bits on this issue (which includes trying to credit high command for this resignation).

The following timeline explains why it is entirely wrong to credit the high command; how the “collective responsibility” of the cabinet has been abused; and how the state is the ultimate sufferer in this fiasco under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi’s congress party.

March – May, 2012

The Supreme Court of India has issued notices to 6  ministers and 8 IAS officers in Andhra Pradesh, asking them to explain why they should not be interrogated by the CBI in GO's issued by them, that purpotedly favoured Jagan. The details of these 26 GO’s are appended at the end of this article.

The names of the six ministers are: Sabitha Indra Reddy, Geetha Reddy, Dharmana Prasada Rao, Ponnala Lakshmaih, Kanna Lakshminarayana and Mopidevi Venkataramana.

The state government agreed to provide legal assistance to all these 6 ministers and 8 IAS officers, primarily because it believed no wrong-doing was resorted to, by the ministers.

Mr. Venkataramana meanwhile got ensconed into a excise scam too and had resigned. Immediately after that, the CBI arrested him in the Jagan dispropotionate assets case. In his resignation letter, the minister clearly mentioned that he merely followed the orders of the then congress CM, YSR. Many ministerial colleagues echoed the same sentiment directly on TV.

May – August 2012

The CBI continued it’s investigations, and in August filed another set of chargesheets. In this, it named Mr. Dharmana Prasada Rao as an accused. Since he was chargesheeted, Mr. Dharmana Prasada Rao submitted his resignation to the Chief Minister. The CBI also applied for permission from the CM to allow for prosecution of Mr. Prasada Rao. Please note that Mr. Prasada Rao submitted his resignation in August 2012.

August, 2012 to March, 2013

Because he submitted his resignation, Mr. Prasada Rao stayed away from office. There was immense pressure on the Chief Minister and the Congress high command to not accept this resignation and also to not grant permission to the CBI for prosecuting Mr. Prasada Rao. The CBI permission has to be granted within 3 months. Just a few days before the 3 months was ending, in an extraordinary move, the CM placed the CBI request before the cabinet! The Cabinet in its entirety (barring a dissent note by one minister) has decided to reject permission to the CBI. This is perhaps the first and only time in the history of our country that the cabinet had to take a decision on granting permission to the CBI !

Mr. Prasada Rao’s resignation was never accepted nor was it rejected. He purposely stayed away from attending his office in the Secretariat for a whopping 7 months. With the Chief Minsiter suggesting to him that he start attending office and cabinet meetings, Mr. Prasada Rao resumed normal duties in March 2013.
It is very important to not that all this while, all these moves had the explicit support of this very high command of the Congress.

March – May 2013

Meanwhile, the CBI filed another chargesheet and this time named Ms. Sabita Indra Reddy as an accused. Ms. Sabita followed the same script as Mr. Prasada Rao. She submitted her resignation in April. It was neither accepted nor rejected. The Chief Minister stood behind both these ministers, with the explicit support of the high command. Ms. Sabita also did not attend office for 19 days (peanuts compared to the 7 months absence by Mr. Prasada Rao) and recently resumed duties. It is again very important to note that the high command did not raise an alarm of having two chargesheeted ministers in the cabinet.

May 2013

As is the norm, a couple of scandals rocked the UPA government. Sonia Gandhi was forced to drop 2 central ministers. This sparked off a voiceferous demand, not just from opposition parties, but from congress leaders too! How can we have one standard for Delhi and one for AP? The CM of AP went to Delhi (folks in AP lost count on the number of visits he made to Delhi!) and the culmination of this fiasco was supposed to be the resignation of these two ministers.

Now, the two ministers have reminded the press that they had already submitted their resignations (in August and April ) and yet no decision has been taken. Instead of accepting it then, a picture is being painted now that the high command has asked them to resign (again!). PC.Chacko in his press conference hoped that the ministers will resign “voluntarily”. Guess what – they already did and the high command didn’t accept them! It is a pity that none of the journalists present there did not question him on this. Mr. Prasada Rao is deeply upset that he was forced to stay on and is now being forced to go away – justifiable anger but is helpless! Both ministers have announced that they haven’t presented any new letters and have told the CM to act on their earlier letters itself. Please note, that as of now, the resignations have not yet been accepted!

The 26 GO’s pertain to allocation of land/exemption on levy of duties etc to various companies that have reportedly helped YSR/Jagan companies. Any decision to allot even a small piece of land has to be approved by the Cabinet – which implies that all these decisions have gone through the cabinet. How then can one minister be blamed for this? What exactly is the extent of this corruption scam in Andhra Pradesh? CBI has spoken to the remaining 3 ministers too but is yet to name them as accused.

The “national” media suddenly woke up yesterday and started posing some questions without a clear background of the entire issue – perhaps it is now na├»ve to expect them to be fully aware of happenings in congress ruled AP! One anchor was astonished in his show last night when he mentioned that there is a “litany” of scams in AP. Wonder what stopped him and others from debating these much earlier?

Details of the 26 GOs and what the CBI says about them is here