July 28, 2008

BJP on a pernicious path

The blasts that happened in quick succession over two days, 26th and 27th July, 2008, have shaken the confidence of the people in the Govt., whether Central or State, being able to protect their lives and thwart the evil designs of the anti-national elements.

This is a time for serious reflection and deep thinking to decide what can be done to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.

In this background, the statement made by Sushma Swaraj of the BJP in a press conference that "The blasts are a conspiracy to divert attention from the cash-for-votes scandal” as they have taken place in the BJP ruled States within a few days of the Trust Vote, is a pernicious attempt to bring crass politics into a serious issue. All right thinking persons will justifiably feel that these politicians are trying to stir up trouble by bringing up such far fetched and incredible theories. If at all Swaraj had any proof or was hoping that the ‘truth will out’ as stated by her, she should have waited for that to happen rather than making such a wild statement. Although Arun Jaitley softened the statement by saying that he saw it as a much wider conspiracy unrelated to any political party, this does not detract from BJP’s effort to sensationalize the issue without basis.

To be fair to the Govt. and the Congress in particular, this time round, they had behaved in a restrained and responsible manner fully recognizing the sensitivity of the matter. Apart from giving out subtle hints about the State Govt.’s responsibility, they had scrupulously avoided saying anything that would divert attention and bring the issue on the political football field.

Swaraj’s baseless and irresponsible statement, therefore, needs to be condemned and the BJP’s blatant effort to politicize the issue, for which there is no need, is bound to be viewed by the people with contempt.

सारे जहाँ से अच्छा, हिंदोस्ताँ हमारा

Home Ministry - Hum nahin sudharenge

The motto of the Home Ministry seems to be:
“Hum nahin sudharenge”.

Blast after blast after blast after blast, the Ministry comes up only with meetings and conferences within the Ministry and the States. Because the Ministry is bereft of any ideas on tackling terrorism and naxalism, the meetings and conferences always come to naught. The participants in this farcical drama, whether the officials of the Ministry, the intelligence agencies or the police as well as the State officials go back ever more frustrated and not knowing whether the Govt. has any notion or concept of fighting terrorists and naxals.

Shivraj Patil, who aided by the spokesperson of the UPA, has developed the subtle art of putting the blame on the States, continues to dole out meaningless comments on how terrorism will not be allowed to succeed, where facts suggest a completely different picture.

Shivraj’s lack luster performance has brought the country the trauma of experiencing loss of lives and property at the time and place of choosing by the anti national forces. This has already been discussed earlier in an article here just two months back before the present series of blasts.

It is high time those in power show the spine, if not to face terrorism, at least to replace Shivraj with someone else. Possible contenders for the position from the Congress stable would be Pawar(nominally NCP), Chidambaram and Arjun Singh. Even if they do not succeed in improving the situation significantly, at least this change will keep one of them away from the present Ministry where none of them have performed.

The dark horse (who also helped Govt. win the Trust Vote sweepstakes) , of course, could be Mulayam Singh, who has at least been the Defense Minister of the country earlier and a Chief Minister too.

सारे जहाँ से अच्छा, हिंदोस्ताँ हमारा

July 24, 2008

A blot on the UPA

waiting to be led

The entire country is utterly disgusted at the way in which the ruling UPA has managed to secure a majority in the Lok Sabha.

The people have understood the Govt. for what it is. The UPA allies may celebrate to their heart's content and pat each other on the back but the Aam Admi has seen it all. There is no need for the Govt. to say anything in its defence.

Counting the gains

Behind the scenes, ensuring success

सारे जहाँ से अच्छा, हिंदोस्ताँ हमारा

July 23, 2008

Speaker of the Lok Sabha as Party Member

Lok Sabha and the Speaker, Mr. Somnath Chatterjee

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has taken the extreme decision of expelling Mr. Somnath Chatterjee from the primary membership of the party.

Mr. Prakash Karat, General Secretary, CPIM

The decision has understandably led to strong reactions from various sections of the polity. with many political parties expressing strong feelings against the expulsion citing his good work as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

While most people view his expulsion in the light of his position as Speaker, it must be recognised that Mr. Chatterjee is actually wearing two hats and there is a clear distinction between his position as the Speaker and his position as a member of the political party to which he belongs.

Mr. Chatterjee is a duly elected to the constitutional position of Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Clearly, therefore, regardless of his party affiliation, the party cannot remove him as the Speaker, for that depends upon either him or the body of parliamentarians that elected him.

Mr. Chatterjee is a veteran and highly respected Parliamentarian with a distinguished record of over 40 years standing. During his tenure as the Speaker , many believe that he has enhanced the dignity of the Chair of the Speaker. It is a different matter that despite trying very hard, he has not succeeded in bringing the weight of his seniority and authority to bear on the MPs of the present Lok Sabha who have made it a habit to show their unruly and undisciplined side at every opportunity. In any case, there is a strong consensus in favor of his continuing as the Speaker.

A political party can, however, ask a member to cease to hold any office occupied by the member if it decides that it is justified in doing so. When the party decided to withdraw support to the Govt., it took the view, rightly or not, that Mr. Chatterjee being first and foremost a member of the political party should also quit as Speaker. It is true that the Speaker is above political affiliation when performing his Constitutional duties. Moreover, the position relates to the Legislative Body which is distinct from the Executive. That in itself was a good enough reason for the Party to let him continue as the Speaker. The withdrawal of support of the Party was against the Govt. and the party ought to have distinguished that withdrawal from the fulfilment of the obligations of the Office of the Speaker of a Legislative body by one of its members.

However, the party took a view also considering the value of his vote in any upcoming Trust Vote and mounted pressure on him to resign as Speaker. Mr. Chatterjee, whose ego was already hurt because the Party did not show him the courtesy of consulting him before including his name in the list submitted to the President, did not oblige. On the other hand, he gave a rather frivolous reasoning for not resigning, namely, that he did not want to be seen voting together with the BJP. To say the least, this stand completely lacks in logic and it is surprising that such a senior and seasoned politician and parliamentarian even thought it fit to advance such a reason. Did he mean to say, that just because the Left parties see themselves as sworn enemies of BJP, they should give up fundamental positions on political issues because BJP also happens to have the same position for its own reasons? Taking this argument to the extreme, suppose that the Centre places West Bengal (perhaps along with a BJP ruled State) under President's Rule under Article 356 and if the BJP decides to bring a no-confidence motion in Parliament, would his Party have to oppose such a motion just because BJP is supporting it? It is quite absurd to propose such a flimsy excuse for not resigning. He also suggested that he was elected as Speaker unanimously. However, once he is elected as Speaker by the House, the fact that he also happened to be elected unanimously does not lend any more weight to his position as Speaker or to his decision not to resign. Such explanations, even in the eyes of objective observers were seen as reflecting his desire to simply stick on to the high position. Coupled with the fact that he refused to bow to the party’s express wishes on a crtitical issue, the eventual failure to defeat the UPA in the Trust Vote clearly seem to have led to his expulsion.

In so far as the action taken by the Party is in accordance with the constitution of the Party to which a member is bound, the expulsion is purely an internal affair of the party and the party would surely know all the implications of its actions. Many have tried to ascribe it to the personal egos of some, but really speaking in a Party with so much emphasis on party solidarity and unquestioned submission to the party discipline, such actions are not ruled out. While many feel that such harsh action should not have been taken against such a senior member, there is another side to the coin too. After all, being one of the senior most members of the Party, Somnath Chatterjee more than anyone else, ought to have known and anticipated the results of his failure to follow the Party's express wishes, also considering the surrounding circumstances.

On the other hand, despite the action taken by his Party, at this stage he would do well not to give up his position as the Speaker nor is it even necessary or desirable to do so. As seen during the Trust Vote on the 22nd July 2008, it is essential to have a person of his stature as the Speaker to give the proceedings in the House at least a semblance of credibility and a modicum of discipline to maintain the dignity of this august Institution, which has taken a severe beating in the last few years.

July 20, 2008

UPA -Boosting a sagging morale


This is simply an attempt to boost the sagging morale of the UPA two days prior to the Trust Vote in Lok Sabha on 22nd July, 2008 and keep them in good humor.

(without responsibility)

Last minute appeal by Uncle Sam

All parties are keeping their fingers crossed, not knowing whether they will be able to use them to make the "V" sign or left twiddling their thumbs.

सारे जहाँ से अच्छा, हिंदोस्ताँ हमारा

July 19, 2008

Sorry state of agriculture and food security

In the last few years, agriculture has suffered seriously due to a combination of apathy, indifference and lack of adequate attention by the Govt. This is largely seen as a personal failure of the Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar. (see related article)

Chidambaram has cited this as one of the reasons for the Govt.’s failure to manage the situation(see here) and even the Congress party by a resolution called for “better agricultural policies”. As a result of the situation which has aggravated in the last few years, the Govt. has been obliged to commit from the public treasury, over Rs. 700 billion towards writing off loans given to farmers.

The country had to import large huge quantities of sub-standard wheat due to inadequate procurement but ostensibly to create a so-called strategic reserve. On the other hand, the situation within the country remains uncertain. A famine-like situation prevails once again in key states such Maharashtra. There are protests in various parts of the country over non-availability of fertilizers and seeds.

Here are some pictures which highlight the present situation.

Results of the earlier famine

Waiting for the rain Gods - year after year

Food and Fertilizer warehouses


Chef not responsible for price, quality, contamination, or anything else

सारे जहाँ से अच्छा, हिंदोस्ताँ हमारा

Words of Wisdom from Finance Minister

It is not surprising that even after the Govt.’s many failures, especially on the Inflation front, Chidambaram, instead of focusing on doing what he is supposed to do, keeps dishing out at the slightest opportunity his glib talk trying to justify the situation.

Of the many ministers in the Cabinet, this popinjay is the only one who cannot stop talking about how he has achieved so much despite the whole world virtually conspiring to frustrate his good work.

Some of his remarks and homilies in a recent statement are worth noting, if only because they highlight how he is trying to perfect the art of blaming others and of self-approbation.

The common thread in his statement, as usual has been one of woes brought about by global factors:”India has been hit by the global financial, food and fuel crises and anybody who thought the country would not be affected by the global turbulence would be "naive".”

Sure, India would be affected by global factors but if the economy is managed well, timely actions are taken instead of basking in false glory and the Govt. policies are judicious enough, the effects would be far less than what the country is facing now. It is no use saying that other countries are even worse off than India. If that argument is stretched to absurdity, our pompous Finance Minister could even say “Look at Zimbabwe… we are much better off”.

In his statement, he has highlighted world food crisis, saying “the world food prices have increased by over 100 per cent but India is the only country where the food rates are relatively stable.” This point hardly needs mention as a factor in our present plight because the country is not so much reliant on imports as some other countries. This point is made only to add to his arsenal to mislead the people.

Apart from this he has mentioned in one breadth, the global financial crisis, the fuel crisis and other global turbulence. He has blamed the sub-prime crisis in the USA as having affected India, although exactly in what manner and to what extent, remains uinclear. The country, he added, could have "weathered even that storm as it did in the second half of 2007-08. But then beginning March there was a food crisis and fuel crisis, adding to financial sector crisis.” By the "food crisis" he is referring to the domestic crisis due to the Agriculture ministry's mishandling.

"Rising Sensex is the be all and end all of economic development." - By a present day genius.

The rest of his statement as already mentioned above, is meant to show that all the progress that the country may have made is implicitly due to him. He also said that if the country achieves 8% growth, it is like getting a silver medal at the Olympics.

His next homily was “We will have some good years, we will have some difficult years. We must learn to manage our economy through good times and not-so good times." That's quite a revelation Mr. Finance Minister, we never knew! Finally he made one more profound statement: "Growth would slow down this year, inflation will be more than the tolerable level and that is why we are going through difficult times”. He seems to be last person in this country upon whom this realization has dawned.

In spite of whatever he might keep saying, he has lost credibility of himself and the Govt. of which he is part, amongst the people. Anything more or less he says will not change the ground realities either. It will help if the Prime Minister told him to just shut up before he becomes more of an embarrassment. People are getting fed up with his boasts and words of wisdom.

July 15, 2008

Democracy in Action - A Case Study

The debate on the Nuclear Deal has brought into the open and in sharp focus, the dark and ugly side of Indian Politics.

The debate which started ever since the proposal for the deal first came on the table in 2005 steadily turned to hardening positions on both sides and neither side can be faulted for holding onto the respective positions. The irreconcilable differences within the country on the subject have finally culminated from an issue based fight to a fight which threatens the survival of the Govt.

The machinations of the Political parties in the last couple of weeks have heightened the disgust which the people feel for those whom they made the mistake of choosing to be their representatives. The disgust and alienation of the people at large in not just confined to one or two political parties but across the entire spectrum.

The entire episode, when it finishes, will surely become a Case Study for students of Politics especially, the would-be deal makers of the future.

What follows is a part of the sordid spectacle that is unfolding which, the people of the country are watching now. The real show to be seen on the 21st and 22nd of July, 2008, may well be remembered as the REAL REALITY SHOW.

And for the politicians who have made this happen, there will be neither shame nor remorse.

Think before you enter this area....

And the prized Horse is....

No prizes for guessing...

For Mehbooba..a special Reward for bringing down J&K Govt.

We are waiting for the bids...

The stray ones waiting for their chance...

Apologies to those whose pictures did not find place in the above Gallery of the Politicians' Page Three.

Lollipops for those who cannot make a deal

It is understood that many Congress Ministers at the Centre , including Deora, Chidambaram and other non-performing Ministers (of whom there is no shortage), are jittery at the prospect of being eased out to accommodate some of those who are going to vote in favor of the Govt. Several sitting Congress MPs and MLAs in states are also having sleepless nights for fear of their claims for tickets in the next elections being ignored to accommodate the understanding with other parties.

The tensions have eased somewhat with a White Knight's assurances on the 15th, of support of some Dark Horses in the trust vote.

July 04, 2008

Nuke Deal and Political Scene - Update

See previous here and here

The Nuclear Deal impasse seems to be leading to some bizzare consequences on the Politics of the Country. While the utlimate result cannot be predicted with certainty, what is clear is that the Indian polity is achieving new lows.

A perspective in pictures...........

Left - UPA Coordination Committee
Going round and round

One that got away...
The Left Parties...

No U turn permitted

A slippery Road

The New Kids on the block

Meanwhile in the Stock Markets...

The New Mantra for the Politicians

Building a new road for DEMOCRACY