Friday, January 31, 2014

The Assembly rejects...

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.
Among other things, Article 3 of the Constitution says this:
“….The Bill has been referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views.
Yesterday, the Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker announced the view of the Legislature – it rejects the Bill sent by the President recommending the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The Constitutional expert of our times, Digvijay Singh tells us that the Bill was sent only for comment, and not for being voted upon. And also the rejection of the Bill would have zero bearing on the Central Government. Will Digvijay Singh tell us how else would the legislature “express its views”? If the “views” of the Assembly are not needed, why bother seeking them?
The last one week has been another harrowing week for the people of the State. After getting one week of extension to send back its views, it was expected that important leaders in the House will get to speak on the issue. The Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, in his speech, has derided his own high command and quoted the Union Home Secretary’s letter stating that this was a draft Bill and therefore, the additional information that members sought will not be given. It is the Chief Minister’s argument that the Bill referred to the Assembly must be in the same format if it were to be presented in Parliament. Members wanted to know specific time frames within which the promised educational institutions will be built; the specific time frame within which industries will be built; specific amounts that will be given to the new States. They objected to the phrase, “subject to feasibility”. One Union Minister told us that “subject to feasibility” is Government’s way of saying no to a project! Also, members insisted for a Statement of Objective; Financial Memorandum; views of various Ministries etc.
Most of these points will have to be mentioned in the Bill when presented to Parliament – why should these points be excluded when presenting them to the Assembly? With this principal argument – the CM gave a notice to the Speaker asking him to resolve that this is a defective Bill and therefore, the Andhra Pradesh Legislature rejects it. In fact, the Chief Minister has dared the Central Government to present this exact same Bill in Parliament and see they can pass it. He said that he will quit politics if the Centre manages to do so. Suddenly sections of the English TV woke up, and started interviewing the Chief Minister – will you form a new party; will you quit politics etc. The Chief Minister knew that there is no way the UPA Government can introduce the Bill in Parliament in its present form – and hence the challenge. Unnecessary hype was created around this statement, and the focal points were given a go-by.  Digvijay Singh last night on NDTV said, “We don’t have the numbers to pass this Bill. We will rely on the BJP to pass this Bill”.  Why doesn’t the Congress first get its house in order, before starting to already put the onus and blame on the BJP.
Is it Digvijay Singh’s contention that the Congress took the decision to bifurcate Telangana merely because BJP is okay with it? The BJP has indicated that it is averse to supporting a Bill – which is this disastrous in nature. It is very important to consider this nuance.It is entirely possible that individuals/parties can be pro-bifurcation and be against this particular Bill.  This particular Bill does not in anyway allay the fears of the people of the State. The staunchest votary of bifurcation – the TRS – has said on record that they are strongly opposed to a common capital, common Governor, common exam etc. Will it be fair to construe that the TRS is against bifurcation then? This kind of “either you are for or against bifurcation” discourse is harming us a lot. If the bifurcation is inevitable, it has to be done in an amicable atmosphere and not amidst such acrimony.
To get a feel of the acrimony involved in the state now, take a look at the image below.
United Andhra's tight slap to Congress

This is a TV grab that shows the exact moment when the Speaker announced that the Assembly rejects the Bill sent by the President. Almost every MP was in the well of the House. One TDP Member had to hold back one TRS Member from jumping to the Speaker’s podium so that he can tear the resolution! It is over to Parliament now, and for the Bill to be passed – either it has to be done through a voice vote whilst 15 Members stand in the well and protest, or those favouring Seemandhra have to be suspended. Ministers of the Central Cabinet will stand up and talk against the Bill. Members of the ruling party will standup and talk against the Bill. And yet, the Congress is putting the onus on the BJP in getting this Bill passed.

The Assembly will send in its entire view in about three days. The Group of Ministers (GoM) is again meeting on the February 4 to consider “minor amendments” – this essentially means the some 9072 amendments that the Assembly is sending will not be considered by the GoM. According to procedure, the views of the Law Ministry will have to be sought on the views of the Assembly. Given the tight schedules, it is fair enough to assume that all this will be given a go-by. Telangana is not yet listed on the agenda of Parliament. It is scheduled to meet from February 5 to February 21. The coming 21 days are very crucial for Andhra Pradesh. The Centre has a lot of documents to prepare and a lot of ground to cover before introducing the Bill in Parliament. Going by indications, it looks like the preparations have started. If the Bill that comes in Parliament is passed, it will only be amidst unprecedented acrimony. We now wait for the GoM meeting on the February 4 to get more clarity on when this Bill will be presented.
(PS: I wrote an article explaining why the bill is defective. Please read more to understand the poor homework Congress does.) 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The problem is Rahul's communication, not our comprehension!

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

So much has been written and discussed about Rahul Gandhi’s interview to Arnab Goswami – with most of them focussing on how the whole interview was a disaster. There’s always two sides for a coin, so I wanted to focus on reading/listening to those who liked or were in awe of Rahul Gandhi’s (unrelated) responses to Arnab Goswami’s questions. Three arguments stand out (in order of their priority):
1. At least he gave an interview, unlike Narendra Modi who walked out of an interview. He held his head high and did not run away despite being cornered.
2. He is earnest, honest, sincerest, best(est) etc (Abhishek Singhvi used many more adjectives, difficult to mention all of them here!)
The first point is the proof enough of the depths to which our public discourse has fallen to. The Congress has maintained this line of argument moments after the interview was over – be content that he sat through the interview. This is Rahul Gandhi’s only one on one interview ever. Comparing this with the myriad interviews that Narendra Modi has given both pre-and post that one interview in which he walked out, is ridiculous to say the least. Narendra Modi has faced the Press, the public and even investigative agencies more often than Rahul Gandhi and his supporters can even imagine – so to cling on to one interview that happened five years back is laughable to say the least.
The primary argument all these years has been that Rahul Gandhi doesn’t speak to the Press, but the Press itself has missed another key performance metric – his abysmal performance as a Member of the Parliament. His attendance is at a lowly 42 per cent . Even during this 42 per cent of the time, he was not present in the House for the entire Session! He has not asked questions, not participated in debates, and we don’t know about his performance as a standing committee member. Even if he doesn’t feel obliged to talk to the Press, why does he not speak in Parliament? Therein lies the key problem – Rahul Gandhi either does not wish to communicate, or does not know how to communicate. Both of which are not qualities you’d expect in a leader hailed as the next best thing to happen to India.
The second argument that he comes across as earnest, honest, etc. This argument has been made by many journalists who somehow can’t come to terms to simply criticise him. These arguments would have sounded valid if Rahul Gandhi did a similar interview in 2004, when he made a debut in politics. Ten years hence, if we are to cling on to “Rahul is sincere” argument without tangible results, what does it speak of the level of discourse? There is no need to bother to waste any more space on this argument. And then finally comes the article by Farzana Versey – “How Rahul Gandhi turned the tables”. This article also assumes importance because the chief spokesperson of the Congress Ajay Maken himself has tweeted about this article. Farzana starts off by addressing some key points on which Rahul Gandhi was criticised. The first point is that Rahul Gandhi will be specific in speeches he makes outside of the TV studios, and not in the “TRP-driven” environment. The exact opposite argument that Arnab Goswami has made. But here’s the problem – in the past 10 years, please show us 3-4 speeches of Rahul Gandhi where he made “specific” points in his speech on current happenings. Better yet – show us one speech where he spoke five specific achievements on “Women Empowerment” that he touts about. We won’t find them, because guess what – he never made them! Interviewers will choose to ask questions in the manner they chose – not in the manner you wish. If the latter happens, it’s no more an interview but a monologue.
We will come to the Narendra Modi argument after discussing the others. The anti-Sikh pogrom and his whole fumbling without apologising. Farzana asks us why he should apologise. Fair enough question – why should anyone get away by merely “apologising” for riots? Narendra Modi has exposed this specious argument years ago – if you think I am guilty, seek punishment according to law, not a mere apology. This discourse of “apology” is driven by the media, encouraged by the likes of this very Congress members. However, the most important point of this question is what exactly was Rahul Gandhi’s answer? He said, “The difference between 1984 and 2002 is that in 1984, the Government tried to stop the violence and in 2002, the Government encourage the riots”. Rahul Gandhi needs to be questioned on this view – there cannot be an escape plan for this. There cannot be a “he doesn’t care about Modi” argument about this, because this is a serious allegation that he has levelled against an elected Chief Minister (for three times). If the likes of Farzana wish that the anchor should not have pursued that argument, then tough luck!
As far as I know, no one with authority asked why he did not come clean on degrees – because we all think he came clean! The question was simple – did you do M.Phil in Cambridge. The answer was – Yes. I agree with Farzana – it doesn’t matter if your degree is from Cambridge or Kakinada. But it does matter if one lies about it – that was the question put and the answer was given. Chapter closed. The argument that Rahul Gandhi decided to ignore small issues in pursuit of bigger and important issues, thereby “turning the tables”, falls flat on the face when one takes a look at Rahul Gandhi’s earlier responses elsewhere. To a question on “Water Resource Management” in a CII summit, he ended up talking about “system” and “women empowerment”. Are we to believe that “Water Resource Management” is not a serious enough issue that deserves the attention of the vice-president of the Congress ? The fallacy that people hailing the interview are making, is to view this in interview in isolation.
“Turning the tables” does not mean answering RTI, Women Empowerment, Candidate selection for any question posed at any forum. Narendra Modi was hounded by an entire cottage industry on a single point agenda. Through his developmental work, he changed the discourse in the media – that of development in “specific” terms and not mere rhetoric. After 10 years of hounding him, the media then started debating specifics of various administrative programmes – merely because he performed, delivered and persisted. That is how you “turn the tables”. Rahul Gandhi was rueing that “no one talks about these issues” – which begs the question – why hasn’t he talked enough of “these issues” then? What or who stopped him from writing articles on “these issues”? What or who stopped him from giving lectures and speeches on “these issues”? What or who stopped him ensuring that people actually discussed “these issues”? Why did he not communicate with the people more vigorously on “these issues” before? Why rue it in an interview, and then claim “no one talks” about these issues?
Farzana underlines points that she thinks are key to Rahul Gandhi’s interview. One of them being -”I’m being attacked because I’m asking questions that are dangerous to the system.” What questions had Rahul Gandhi posed that are “dangerous”? Dangerous is a big word to use, so, we have the right to know what questions were posed? To whom were these questions posed? Who attacked him? Would this article amount to attacking him? Rahul Gandhi has failed in communicating this thoughts to the people of the country. If that amounts to “attacking” him, it is a pity that we have to bear the burden of having to see this man in power. Would the likes of Farzana enlighten on this?
And lastly, in defence of Rahul Gandhi’s answer (that must have even stumped Lalu) that they are not allying with Lalu- the person, but Lalu’s party – the idea, Farzana asks – “When was the last time we heard a politician talk about ideas? ” Err – many politicians talk about ideas – many politicians have won elections based on ideas – impossible to fathom that they think Rahul Gandhi is the only person talking about ideas. The failure is in Rahul Gandhi’s communication, not our comprehension.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The arrogance of AAP

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference. 
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was born out of a movement – India Against Corruption (IAC). The chief demand of this movement, which bought lakhs of people together, was to legislate a LokPal Bill. Anna Hazare was the face of this movement. Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi took care of the logistics. Later, Arvind Kejriwal took a plunge into politics – a reversal of his earlier stand that he will never seek public office – and promised a JanlokPal Bill within 15 days. The very first point in AAP’s manifesto is this:
“Commitment to passing Delhi Janlokpal Bill within 15 days of coming to power.”
It has been nearly 25 days since the party came to power but there is not even a squeal by the AAP on this. Not a single media hotshot, who otherwise pride themselves in grilling leaders, have questioned Arvind Kejriwal over his blatant lies and fake promises to the people of Delhi while seeking votes. Ordinarily, no one would have minded waiting for a month or two for the Bill to come – but remember this – Arvind Kejriwal went all out to promise this Bill in 15 days. This was their main plank and USP, and yet, he does not bother to fulfill this promise? This should amount to lying to the voters to secure their votes – something that Arvind Kejriwal accuses other parties of doing!
Since taking power, Arvind Kejriwal has become famous for taking U-turns on various issues. In this latest interview to NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, it took him just three minutes to take a U-Turn! At 9:30 in this video, he says, “There were some people there. The police left, so, who will take care of the Minister’s security? My Minister was not sure if he will return home alive”. The irony of this statement apart (given that AAP did not want any security to their ministers), the caveat comes just three minutes later. At the 12th minute, Barkha Dutt asks him that the crowd present there could have gone out of control while forcing the ladies to take the test. Arvind Kejriwal, believe it or not, says with a straight face, “But there was hardly any crowd. At least 20 to 30 people were there”!
Explaining Somnath Bharti’s actions, he says (at 13:40) that the Minister asked police to take action “as per law”. We all saw the video – Somnath Bharti said, “You go and do a raid there. I am telling you, you go and do a raid there”. Is this “as per law”? When questioned as to how one can force people to give urine samples, he says that only urine samples were taken, and that too in AIIMS, as if this is a big favour they did on those women.He even tells us that there must be something fishy because the women refused to give blood samples. When questioned that the reports did not show any drug use by these women, he said since there was only urine and no blood sample, the reports are false!
Arriving at conculsions that suits their thinking has been a habit of AAP leaders from the beginning. This report is false, that case is false, the argument is false, you are not Aam Aadmi – why? Because, we say so! Barkha Dutta asks him the same thing, how can he be so sure that Somnath Bharti is not lying. To this, he said, “Somnath Bharti has no enemity against these people and therefore, he could not have done anything like that!
The interview gets very disappointing after about 15 minutes. The primary reason being that the grilling stops. Arvind Kejriwal hurls a strange accusation – the SHOs of Delhi collect money to ensure their Minister (in this case, the Union Home Minister) gets them. Actually, this is quite serious too – the Chief Minister of a State accusing SHOs of giving hafta to Union Home Minister. Arvind Kejriwal has done this before too – hurl unlimited accusations. He once claimed to have proof of corruption against five Cabinet Ministers – we are yet to hear about them till date. This would have been an opportune moment to question him on his accusations, but unfortunately, it was given a go-by.
When asked about why there has been no enquiry against Congress leaders, he says wait for some more days. During campaign, he went ballistic and promised enquiries within few days. Is there a deal being worked out that we have to wait for few more days? If Arvind Kejriwal, like he claims, has proof on Sheila Dikshit’s corruption, what exactly are we waiting for? Transfer of some “compromised” officers in the ACB department? Arvind Kejriwal gave similar interviews to both NDTV and CNN-IBN. In both the interviews, he himself decided what allegations are against the AAP, and then pompously declared all allegations are false. The anchors focussed on just 1 to 2 big ticket items and allowed him to rant at will. The visible leadership of AAP (includes Yogendra Yadava, Ashutosh, Manish Sisodia) sounds so arrogant and full of themselves. At the drop of the hat, they seek refuge in the argument that this is all for aam aadmi – and due process of law is not really an impediment in implementing anarchy.
You don’t believe it? Last night, in an interview to NDTV, Manish Sisodia asked Ashok Mallik to talk about due process of law when his daughter is burnt alive. That is the level of discourse these people have resorted to. In the latest ‘raid’, no one died. But Arvind Kejriwal and AAP continue to claim “people are dying, and you want us to follow process”? Somnath Bharti yesterday said that he wants to spit on Arun Jaitley’s face, for criticising his awesome actions. Is this the change that AAP wanted to usher in? Already, our political discourse is marred by a lot of rhetoric and jargon; AAP is now making it filthy too.
Minor mistakes do happen. No one says you need to be perfect; only that you move along and make amends. Janta darbar being a case in point – Arvind Kejriwal learnt his lesson well and decided to emulate other Chief Ministers rather than be pompous about it. It’s another matter that he still thinks no one else does Janta Darbar as awesomely as he did or does it. Mistakes might happen because of inexperience and immaturity. But the visible leadership of AAP is simply arrogant, egoistic, and resorts to spreading falsehoods at the drop of the hat. The latest dharna drama is also not to seek some big ticket police reform. It is to seek the suspension of three SHOs. They are seeking that they be suspended till atleast the enquiry is complete because otherwise, it will not be a fair enquiry. The two parties to this enquiry are the SHO and the Law Minister of Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal says the Minister will not resign, but the SHO will have to go for an impartial enquiry. Need anything more be said about their arrogance?

Cliche, but true - No clarity yet !

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference. 
While most of the media was busy on January 17 focussing on Rahul Gandhi’s ‘coming of age’ speech, some local newspapers in Andhra Pradesh highlighted things which occurred at the AICC meet – representatives from all States (including those in which Congress has not been in power for more than two decades) were invited to speak. The only State that did not get any representative to speak on that day was the State that sent the maximum number of MPs so that Sonia Gandhi can rule – Andhra Pradesh. This exemplifies the level of importance AP is given by Sonia Gandhi.
The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister did not attend this meet but chose to attend the Assembly instead. There are strong rumours floating around that the Chief Minister will announce a new party once the debate in the Assembly is over. This does not seem plausible because Kirankumar Reddy has sworn to stop the bifurcation – if necessary by even resigning. For this, he will have to resign first, otherwise it will remain a hogwash. The CM hasn’t indicated yet if he is going to resign or not. Merely floating a new party will not stop bifurcation.
Meanwhile, he has written to the President Pranab Mukherjee asking for an extension of the deadline for the Assembly discussion. After nearly five days of disruption, the House took up the debate on the Bill. Members are making long speeches by suggesting various options. A whopping total of 9000 Amendments were submitted to the Speaker. Many of them are insisting on voting on each clause! Imagine the nightmare!
Congress Ministers, on the floor of the House, have called this Bill as undemocratic and unconstitutional. That is the kind of divide and hatred that Sonia Gandhi has given rise to. The YSRCP, which pompously declared that it will not allow for any discussion on the Bill for it amounts to agreeing to bifurcation, mellowed down and is now participating in the debate. Their only caveat is that the member will walk in when his name is called, speak and then walk out!
There is a nuance that is being missed in the din of TV discussions. There are some serious objections on certain clauses by pro-Telangana parties too. The BJP has again recently reiterated its support for the bifurcation but it also said that the current Bill is not comprehensive in any sense. Venkaiah Naidu has announced that the BJP will propose amendments to the Bill once it reaches Parliament. Media, as usual have started giving a spin saying that the BJP is revisiting its stand! This has always been Congress’s USP – bring in a bad Bill, and then blame the BJP for not supporting it. This happened during Lokpal, nuclear Bill, Caste census etc. And now, when parties are saying that certain clauses are not acceptable, Congress will want to turn the tables! Or is this the Congress game plan? Bring in such a bad Bill that no one will be happy about; ensure it does not pass in Parliament; then go to people saying they wanted to give Telangana, but others did not agree?
Strangely, even before AP CM made the official request, PTI informed us through ‘sources’ that the President is willing to extend the deadline by 10 days if requested. Assuming we get 10 days instead of 30 days that the CM asked for, we have deadline till February 3 before the Assembly sends in its recommendation. If at all voting happens, then the recommendation of the Assembly will be that the State should not be split!
Parliament is scheduled to meet for about 10 days starting February 5. The Centre needs to submit a much more comprehensive Bill in Parliament, than this copy-paste version. Assuming that this will at least take 10 days, the Bill might come into Parliament only in the fag end of the Session. Assuming no disruption, Parliament will have to discuss this at least for two to three days. However, Members from Seemandhra will definitely disrupt the Session, so, it is left to be seen how Sonia Gandhi will handle the whole situation in Parliament!
Nearly six months have passed since the Congress Working Committee (CWC) announcement has been made – and we are still speculating on whether the Bill will even be discussed and passed in Parliament! That is the level of uncertainty prevalent currently. As cliche, as it might sound – we still do not have any clarity on how this whole process will end.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This obsession is now deceiving the readers!

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference. 
Just about a week back, I wrote an article arguing that the deification of AAP was getting nauseating. Four days into their swearing in, the media was going gaga as if every single thing that Arvind Kejriwal was doing was unique (while the truth was quite the opposite). I hoped that this deification will soon stop. Alas!
On the morning of January 5, The Hindu did a a no-brainer if a banner headline – AAP decides to contest Lok Sabha polls! Surely this was quite obvious.
Media's fawning obsession with AAP ridiculous
Not happy with giving them front page coverage, The Hindu almost repeats the same news on page 10 the very next day (January 6).
Media's fawning obsession with AAP ridiculous
The top headline on the morning of January 7 was baffling and deceiving.
Media's fawning obsession with AAP ridiculous
The headline was about BJP’s program with a group called ‘Overseas Friends of BJP’. This group had existed since long before the AAP had even been conceived. Even Narendra Modi addressed this group much before Delhi elections were even held. But The Hindudeceitfully chose to mislead its readers by lying blatantly in its headline. In the whole report, there is little mention of “success” of AAP, except for some expert comment that the many NRIs canvassed for AAP on social media and therefore it benefitted AAP a lot!
On January 8, we were treated to this headline on the front page.
Media's fawning obsession with AAP ridiculous
Wow! AAP will put up a candidate against Rahul Gandhi. This is such worthy breaking news! A political party is pitting a candidate against a strong incumbent! Who would have imagined?
The headline on January 9 was about the attack by a random fringe group on AAP’s office. I was shocked to see no front page report on January 10. But I recovered soon enough – because there was an editorial and a cartoon praising AAP as usual. However, one line caught my attention:
The evidence is there in the rush of eminent people signing up to join the party, suggesting a freshness of political appeal that is clearly disconcerting to the mainstream parties.
“Eminent” people join the BJP, Congress, TDP, BJD, and many other parties. However, The Hindu finds it prudent to analyse in a manner that implies that the “rush” is only towards AAP. Only two days back, Kiran Bedi, who worked along with Arvind Kejriwal, announced her preference for Narendra Modi.
Day in, day out we are being fed this sham that the AAP is the answer to all our political ills. Like someone joked on Twitter, if we leave it to our media, maybe they will tell us we got independence because of AAP!
Narendra Modi promised to revisit the entire tax structure.One NGO proposing a “Banking Transaction Tax” made a presentation to the BJP. News media was abuzz with talk that the BJP will introduce this tax! IBN Live even analysed this move thus:
It serves two purposes. Stop the exodus of middle class and upper middle class voters to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and give an impression that the party is for a transparent taxation.
See that? There is already an “exodus” of middle and upper middle class. Remember, AAP came second; BJP came first. Yet, the BJP wants to stop the “exodus” of voters to AAP. BJP hasn’t even made an official announcement that they were considering this move, but we are being subjected to multiple articles analysing why BJP is making this move!
IBN’s deputy editor, Sagarika Ghose wrote an article in Hindustan Times that cannot be comprehended by ordinary souls. However, she ends it with a bang.
The secular project needs the energy that we see in AAP volunteers and their commitment to 24×7 politics.
I suggest you don’t bother with decoding what she meant there – but the implication that that only AAP volunteers are committed to 24×7 politics is hilarious to say the least.
The Times of India did a random survey according to which, 58 per cent of people in metropolises want Modi as PM. But 44 per cent will vote for AAP it seems. TOI maliciously headlines the 44 per cent part. It’s another thing that ordinary mortals like us cannot understand how 58 per cent want Modi as PM and yet 44 per cent will vote for AAP! Times Now goes ahead with plugging these dodgy findings thereby ending up campaigning for AAP.
We can go on and on about many such findings. The media has now switched sides from being pro-Congress to openly campaigning for AAP.
AAP came second, BJP came first. Yet, the media will have you believe that they won with an overwhelming majority. And still they continue to call themselves “neutral”!

AAP's deification is farcial

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference. 
In the recent Delhi Assembly election that was held parallel to Assembly elections in four other States, the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) emerged as the second largest party in the Assembly, by winning 28 of the 70 seats. The BJP emerged as the single largest entity with the largest vote share too. However, they fell short of majority by mere three seats.
As per the writing on NDTV, the venerable Siddharth Varadarajan had this to say:
“Ordinarily, the BJP would have tried to split both the Congress and the AAP contingents in the Delhi Assembly and moved heaven and earth to form the Government with its 32 seats.”
Yes, he is pretty sure that the BJP would have all the above but for the “mood of the electorate and its revulsion for corruption in politics.
Pardon me, if I am missing something, but the BJP emerged as the single largest party in an election that astute analysts classify as a vote for anti-corruption - “The mood of the electorate is revulsion for corruption.”
Does this mean that the electorate saw the BJP as less corrupt than the AAP? And if so, why are the commentators so reluctant to accept this fact? How can Delhi verdict be remotely classified as a vote for the AAP’s policies, when it is clear that this is a split verdict?
The AAP, then decided to accept the Congress’s support in forming the Government, the very same party against which they fought the elections. But, of course, astute commentators will not find fault with it, because this is technically not ‘horse-trading’. According to the AAP’s own estimates, about 1.5 – 2 lakh people approved of their forming the Government with Congress’s support. What a massive figure? A whopping two lakh out of a 1.5 crore people in Delhi okayed the formation, and the astute commentators see this as a new beginning! After throwing this logic at the people, the AAP went on to form the Government in Delhi.
The deification doesn’t stop here. The Editor-in-Chief of CNN-IBN, Rajdeep Sardesai had this to say:
“Agree with the decision or not, at least the AAP has forced us to discuss water pricing on prime time. That’s a step forward! “
What is this decision that has enlightened Rajdeep Sardesai so much? The AAP has promised 700 litres of free water to all the residents of Delhi. In tune with it, after forming the Government, the Chief Minister announced that all the houses with metres will get 20,000 litres of water free every month. Anything more than that, they have to pay for the full usage
Giving freebies is bad economics – you don’t need a PhD to understand that. However, AAP which claimed to be different from all the other parties followed the same tactic of announcing a freebie. Only this time – they gave water for free, 20,000 litres per month amounts to about 34 buckets of water per family per day. What exact purpose is the AAP serving by giving so much water free for the poor, middleclass and the rich alike?
But, hey! Be happy that the enlightened individuals at the Delhi-based CNN-IBN studios feel that water pricing made it to ‘Prime Time’! And then, The Hindu published this cartoon today-
The cartoon shows Arvind Kejriwal making giant strides on bijli, paani whilst Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi merely watch. This is duplicity at its best. It is a well known fact by now that the Modi Government has provided 24×7 supply of electricity to all rural households in Gujarat. How can such a massive achievement be compared to AAP’s decision to cut 50 per cent tariff for households using 400 units or less?
The strides made in water management in Gujarat under Narendra Modi’s leadership are also well known. How are these achievements even comparable to giving 20,000 litres of water for free? But what is surprising is that the cartoon comes just one day after The Hindupublished an article explaining why the idea of 20,000 litres of water for free is a bad one!
Every single day, we are treated to some news about how simple Arvind Kejriwal is, wow! He commuted by metro; he got sworn in at Ramlila Maidan; he formed a small Cabinet; he kept his promise, even though 95 per cent of the things that he is doing are already being done by various Chief Ministers representing various political parties. The Delhi-based media is so blind and oblivious that it regards what Arvind Kejriwal is doing as ‘freshness’!
The AAP winning 28 seats is a significant achievement. But this deification of the AAP and the simultaneous vilification of the BJP is getting nauseating. Remember, they came second, and have agreed to form a Government with the support of the very party they fought so stridently against.

Tailpiece: After Sadanand Dhume made a twitter comment asking whether dodgy policy decisions should be applauded by media just because they make news, the harbinger of civil discourse Rajdeep Sardesai retorted back saying, “With due respect to you, I would say that it is a stupid and inane comment. Corruption is the staple diet of news, water is not.”

Will it be a Happy New Year?

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

Normally, this is time to be wishing Happy New Year and hoping (sincerely) that the new year will bring cheer, happiness and fortune. However, bad or good the previous year is, one always hopes that the new year is better and prosperous.
Unfortunately, for the people of Andhra Pradesh, there is nothing to cheer and hope for a better fortune in the new year. The future looks the bleakest ever in recent times. The primary reason being is the massive bungling of the bifurcation issue by the Congress. We have written in detail about how Sonia Gandhi has bungled up the issue, throwing all norms to the winds with great impunity. The President of India is currently at his winter retreat in Hyderabad, and meeting representatives of all political parties, Government employees – practically, he is meeting every unit that has a stake in this bifurcation. While this act is laudable (given the closed door system followed by Sonia Gandhi), it still remains to see what impact, if any, will these meetings have on him when he gets to sign the Bill that goes to Parliament.
So why is the future uncertain and bleak?
Let us consider option 1 (the most rosiest scenario). The debate on the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill will commence on the January 3, 2014. The members will discuss in great detail each and every line of the B ill and make suggestions for changes. The Assembly will smoothly vote and incorporate all changes. The debate, however, will continue till January 23 and the Assembly will send it back to the President by January 26. Thereupon, Sonia Gandhi, through Sushilkumar Shinde, will ensure the Bill is introduced in the Budget Session (with or without incorporating the suggested changes). After a lacklustre debate in the Houses, the Bill will be passed. A new Telangana State will be formed by March 1, 2014.
This is the most rosiest scenario, but is definitely not the most plausible scenario. This is the reason why I keep saying that 2014 is going to be riddled with uncertainties. 
Now, let us consider option 2 (the most likely scenario, and this will also explain why option 1 will remain a dream): The debate on the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill will commence on January 3. YSRCP President, Jaganmohan Reddy has already announced that this party will not allow a debate to happen. He has threatened to disrupt the proceedings – his logic being that if the debate happens, the Central Government will not care about the recommendations of the Assembly. Instead, if no debate happens and no resolution is sent, the Centre will be in a Constitutional bind.
Keeping this in mind, there may not be any discussions till at least the January 6. If the Speaker decides to suspend these members, then another political storm will begin brewing. Assuming that the debate will begin on the January 7, every single political entity is strongly opposed to either the Bill or certain contents of the Bill. In fact, they are opposing it with good reason – with a common capital, common Governor, common High Court and a common entrance exam – even pro-Telangana parties are averse to having this particular version of the Bill being passed in Parliament! Afterall, why bother to split the State if everything is common for 10 years?!
On most clauses some members are strongly demanding for voting; and some are demanding that there should be no voting. Another conundrum that shows no sign of getting resolved. Will members allow for a smooth voting process? Will the Speaker be strict enough to ensure that the House is run smoothly? We don’t know. There are rumours that the Chief Minister, who has been a strong votary of an united State will resign on the floor of the Assembly to perpetuate a crisis. Will he do it? We don’t know. Basically, we don’t know in what form the Assembly will send the Bill back to the President! Irrespective of this, let’s assume that Sonia Gandhi and Sushilkumar Shinde will bring this Bill into Parliament. Both Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi have given enough indications that they are averse to being a party to passing the Bill in its present format. So, there is a strong likelihood that the Congress will remain isolated in the House over the contents of the Bill.
Being pro-Telangana is one thing – but this Bill is so bad that by supporting this, one might end up causing more damage to the State! For the first time in the history of India, Congress’s own MPs are contemplating to bring in a no-confidence motion against their own Government in the Lok Sabha. There are also some legal luminaries who opine that certain clauses of this Bill will need Amendments to the Constitution meaning the UPA Government has to get a minimum of 272 votes, and a maximum of 360 votes! In the midst of so much confusion, what will happen in Parliament? We don’t know!
There is one more option. 
Option 3 (Unlikely but plausible): The AP Assembly will not send back any concrete proposal. UPA Government doesn’t care about this, and goes ahead with presenting the Bill as is, in Parliament. The atmosphere in Parliament will be as vitriolic as it is in the Assembly. Irrespective of the chaos, the Speaker may announce that the Bill is passed. Telangana is formed! That’s why we said at the beginning that the future is very bleak for the State. Even if a new State is born, it will have to go through the pains of birth pangs. The year 2014 promises to be anything but rosy, cheerful and prosperous.
One can only hope that it will turn out to be otherwise.

AP Reorg Bill - Part 2

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

In Part-I, we have discussed the AP Reorganisation Bill in detail and wondered given that Sonia’s UPA decided to have a common capital, common Governor, common High Court and common entrance exam for a maximum period of up to 10 years, why should there be a split then?
Once the Bill was approved by the Union Cabinet, Ministers from Seemandhra started exhibiting their ‘bravado’ on TV.  Minister of State with independent charge for the Ministry of Tourism, Chiranjeevi resigned and urged Sonia Gandhi (yep Sonia Gandhi) to accept his resignation. However, his resignation has not been accepted and he continues to remain the Minister. Same is the case with other Ministers – they proclaim they will resign but nothing happens.
The Bill is currently with the Legislative Assembly. It needs to go back to the President by the January 23, 2014. The Assembly was already in session when the Bill was sent by the President in the second week of December. The Business Advisory Committee decided to give every member a chance to air his/her views on the Bill. It was also decided to debate till the January 23 and then send the Bill back to the President.
The first three days of the the planned debate washed out because various members from Seemandhra did not allow any discussion. On December 19, the House was adjourned to meet again on the January 3. The reason being the members insisted for 10 days holidays in lieu of Christmas and New Year and was happily sanctioned by the Speaker itself. Now, the House will meet on January 3. And then, there are again holidays for Sankranti festival. Members even want to take off on a couple of Sundays! This Bill is the most important Bill that has ever been discussed in the Assembly. There is a plan to give every member a chance to talk. How the Congress Government aims to achieve this in 13 days, amidst such hatred, is something which is difficult to fathom.
One would have expected that the Speaker of the Assembly and the chairperson of the Council were armed with the detailed procedures adopted by the Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar Legislative bodies when their States were split recently. However, for some inexplicable reason, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh had to procure the details and then forward them to both the presiding officers – who are now studying what happened during the discussions in Assemblies.
The Chief Minister insists that exact procedures are followed while discussing AP Reorganisation Bill too. He, including many leaders from Seemandhra want voting wherever demanded. They even cited that there was voting on many clauses in the UP, MP and Bihar Legislative bodies. It was ultimately left to the Centre to accept or reject the suggestions made by the Assembly – a resolution for change of capital for Uttaranchal was rejected by the Centre; name change from Vananchal to Jharkhand was accepted; and many such instances are being cited.
However, in this particular case, if at all Members allow for voting, since those opposing the bifurcation are in the majority – the Assembly will reject the idea of a split itself. It remains to be seen how Parliament will react to this basic rejection by the Assembly. Honourable and venerable Digvijay Singh says that the outcome of the voting in the Assembly is immaterial. Pitiful words coming from a former Chief Minister who presided over one bifurcation – but what more can we expect from this man?
It is very unclear as to what the outcome of the debate in the Assembly will be. The Chief Minister is going out all guns to stall the process insisting that he is ‘yet to bowl the last ball’. He also said he can stop the bifurcation. Most Congress leaders from the region are scheming on methods to stall the Bill in the Assembly. In fact, the State Government is believed to have written a letter to the Union Home Ministry seeking clarifications on the Bill. The State has requested for a detailed reply before January 3 – something that Shinde might not care about.
The Telangana leaders insist that the Bill be debated and sent back as quickly as possible, even though they are not happy with certain key contents in the Bill – that’s the miracle of Sonia’s Congress – with this Bill, they have managed to dissatisfy every single political entity, including their own party! Perhaps, only the Congress is capable of such astonishing achievement.