Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some interesting things about politicians.

Some interesting things about politicians.
(Ref Marathi book “Sattachakra” by Jagan Phadanis and Ashok Jain. Published in Oct 1978)
Phadnis and Jain are reputed journalists in Marathi. I was re-reading this old book and came across some interesting things about some well known politicians, and so thought that I should share this.)
 Had the habit of resigning very often!
He was not a believer in castes. He hated to be called a Jat leader! He used to say you don’t call other leaders by their caste’s leader so why me?
As a Chief Minister of UP he did not allow his coalition party to hold agitations during the visit of PM Indira Gandhi for Indian Science Congress at Varanasi. His objection was the PM has to be respected. To this effect he arrested Socialist leaders like Rajnarayan.
He was a teetotaler and a voracious reader.
Even when in power he lived a fairly simple life.
Jagjivan Ram:
Had to face humiliation many times in his early life due to his caste.
As a school boy he was not allowed to drink water from the “Matka” for Hindu students. When a different mataka was provided for untouchables he did not like that and broke it. Finally the principal made sure that he could drink water from the common Matka!
He did not apply for scholarship that was available to him due to his caste. He wanted scholarships to be awarded on merit even at that age! He stood second in the school examination and earned the scholarship on merit.
Atal Bihari Vajpai:
A through nationalist. While leading a delegation abroad while in opposition he praised Indira, whom he was severely criticizing her at home! He said that was the right thing to do.
Subramaniam Swamy complained to Morarji that Vajpai had a drink in an embassy as FM.
When he was released on health grounds during emergency he tried to convince JP to withdraw the agitation and negotiate with Indira.
Nanaji Deshmukh wanted Morarji to divest Vajpai of foreign ministry because he was not following Jan Sangh agenda as FM.
He had to actually take the official positions in foreign policy as FM that was not his or his party’s stated position before they merged with Janata Party. Many erstwhile Jan Sanghis did not like it.
He had accused Indira of having entered into a secret pact with Bhutto during the Simla pact.
Advani as I & B Minister made sure that he and Vajpai got maximum exposure on official media! Charan Singh was livid because of this!
George Fernandes:
Ran away from home because his Father wanted him to become a priest.
Planned the downfall of S K Patil for five years and succeeded.
Lived on the streets of Mumbai till he got a job with TOI as proof reader.
Built the first ever union in the country for hotel and restaurant workers.
A born South Indian was adopted by North and fought many elections from there.
Won by record margin in 1977 when he was in jail.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I am sure most of us who are not “Bhakts” of someone or other are actually in a state of utter fatigue with the 2014 elections. I cannot wait for this “tamasha” to be over and a stable government being in place so that we can get on with our life.
Do elections really mean so much to common man? Does he really believe his lot will improve whoever comes to power? Is it also not true the lot of many has improved in spite of all the politics?
The media and the so called panelists are making the fatigue a real thing. The newspapers behave as though the whole world has either gone to sleep like “Kumbhakarna” and will wake up only on 16th May or they want us believe that the whole world is enamored by the dance of democracy being performed in India and are watching it with glee and astonishment!
I am sure nowhere in the world elections grab so much of time. We have been at it for almost a year now. One hears the same arguments over and over again. Have we learnt anything new about our political parties who are trying to convince us that have our best interests at heart?
Post elections the supporters of the party that wins it will be dancing on the streets and getting drunk, the supporters of the losers will be getting drunk and not dancing. The euphoria will last for some time and then evaporate. May be the new government will announce new policies and the feel good factor will be in the air for some time. The budget of the new government will get great reviews from experts who will hail it as path breaking, as it will be an exercise in trying to please everyone.
Will our institutions be revived accorded their original status? Unlikely. Will parliament function and can we switch to Lok Sabha TV and hear great debates?  Will the new government be accountable? Will India be the priority number one?
I hope this one month just flies off quickly. I am fatigued and I am sure many of you are also in the same state of mind.
Dr Ambedkar on his anniversary won’t be feeling great about what is happening in the country.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


कोण जन्मल कोण गेल
याच या फुलांना काय घेण?
कोणी सजव पाळणा,
कोणी पडत गळ्यात हार होऊन,
कोणाचं भाग्य कोण्या ललनेच्या
केसांना गजरा होऊन सजवण्याच
कोणी होतात देवाचं निर्माल्य   
कोणाचा बळी मढ्यावर,
पण सुंदरता तीच
सुगंध ही तोच
त्यात भेदाभेद नाही
कारण फूल ते फूल
त्याच नशीब मात्र त्याच्या
हाती नाही, ते आपल्या हाती
म्हणूनच बहुतेक आपण
त्यांना वापरतो सुखात आणि दुक्खात
आणि मग वरती हे ही ठरवतो
कोणत्या प्रसंगाला कोणती फूल!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Future of Gandhis!

Future of Gandhis!
Many people and opinion polls suggest that Congress will be decimated in the current elections. If it happens the Gandhi family will also be decimated and Congress to survive will have to throw away the family baggage is one argument. Congress will surely lose and probably most people in power need to lose after 10 years so that newer leadership can emerge and may be new ideas will flourish. This is the beauty of democracy.
I had heard the same argument in 1977. I heard it again in1991 after Rajiv was killed and Sonia was reluctant to enter public life. Due to Rajiv’s assassination during polls Congress secured more seats that it would have had this not happened.
Congress went down the drain in 1996 elections and again in 1998 and to whom did the party turn to for revival Sonia! This time she obliged. In 2004 Congress had not won many seats but BJP was unable to clobber a coalition and UPA was born. 2009 Congress did much better than expected. This victory made them arrogant on hand and convinced Sonia that if freebies are given coming back to power in 2014 is a given thing. BJP itself seemed totally frustrated by the two losses and never forgave Congress. It resorted to blocking parliament and opposing everything. The CAG reports and inept handling of PR by Congress along with Anna Hazare’s crusade which BJP blessed made BJP confident. Opting for Modi was something that was done quickly and the cost of sulking old timers whose time is over and they cannot harm BJP electorally for sure.
So if Congress gets less than 100 seats it will actually present an opportunity for the party to reinvent itself. In 2009 I had argued that it is in the interest of the nation that BJP remains strong as a challenger to Congress in spite its loss. Congress must remain relevant and it can be so only if it reinvents and makes sure that they go back to people. As I have argued before the party has to be built from grass roots level. Congress will need equivalents of Vajpai and Advani post 1984 and a strong band of regional leaders. Congress today has become marginal in many important states and in many they can do well only if they align with a regional party.
Congress will lose many seats because they have no tie ups in Bengal and Tamil Nadu and also because of its problems in Andhra. These three states had given them large number of seats along with their partners in the first two while the party had swept Andhra.
Will the rank and file and even the leaders of the party have guts to ignore Gandhis? The answer to my mind is NO! They will actually be desperate that the Gandhis continue to have absolute power over the party. This is their tragedy. All satraps who left Congress have failed to provide a national alternative and are confined to regions. People like Kiran Reddy won’t even manage that.
We need two national parties otherwise we face chaos. I am a firm believer that regional parties at national level are bad. They have no national view on anything. They are opportunistic and only look at their own benefits. They are short sighted and they have acquired huge blackmailing capabilities because of the weakening of to national parties. Both NDA and UPA have suffered due to this and as a consequence India has suffered.
Gandhis will continue to be the glue that will hold Congress together. Congressmen who will rebel will either get marginalized or will be forced to migrate to other parties. I do not see a consorted challenge emerging within the party that will eliminate Gandhis from their hold over the party.
What is true of Congress is true of most regional parties all of whom are really Proprietorship firms. Their leadership is more authoritarian. In recent years Congress high command has lost most of its clout. Today people are rebelling and defecting even after being nominated as party candidates. This is a new thing. So most unhappy Congressmen will have to desert as few will succeed in rebellion against the Family!
Not many are going to feel bad at the loss of Congress. But we cannot overlook the need of having a decent opposition party which has all India character. Since Congress won’t abandon Gandhis we are stuck with them! The opinions of so called educated Indians and others who may not be well educated but are street smart voters may be different and the Gandhis will draw their strength from them and also knowing that there is no leadership in the party on national or even regional level that has any appeal for the vast majority of Indians.
So even if the Congress is decimated we are stuck with the Gandhis! Even if BJP comes to power we may see another branch of Gandhis in the ministry. The real tragedy is BJP has embarrassed a faction of the same family whom they hold responsible for ills of India. There in probably lies the answer as to why Gandhis will survive the worst ever electoral defeat of the Congress!


Will Modi/BJP/NDA change following?

Will Modi/BJP/NDA change following?

Will they ban FDI in retail and undo the earlier resolution passed by the parliament?
Will they abandon MNAREGA or will they just tinker with it and make us believe their version is more effective than the one at present?
Will they continue with Adhar project? Will they use Adhar to link subsidies and benefits to it as was envisioned?
Will they quickly adopt GST and DTC with modification where required? Will we have both these from 1.4.2015?
Will they undo the damage of Food Security Act and redefine the benefits only for genuine BPL families?
Will they amend land Acquisition Act to please the business houses?
Will they continue to auction all government resources?
Will they stay gas price hike or rework the formula and just make minor adjustments?
Will they dilute environmental clearance guidelines?
Will they link power prices to cost of inputs for all existing projects?
Will they proceed with the ambitious river linking project?
Will they teach a lesson to Pakistan as they have often said they would?
How will they take on China?
Will they pass Common Civil Code quickly?
How will they deal with Naxalite problem?
How will they improve standard of education and health?
Will they follow Federalism in spirit and empower states willingly?
Will they file EIR against Manmohan Singh in coal scam? Will they have fast track courts to deal with all scam related cases?
Will they reduce the strength of bureaucracy?
Will they streamline all subsidies?
Will they punish corrupt bureaucrats?
Finally will they make sure that team India will win the cricket world cup of 2015, something that is most important for people for whom cricket is the religion?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Let us not forget we are all Indians.

Let us not forget we are all Indians.
Its election time again. The charges and counter charges are being traded. Unfortunately it has been happening since the last elections. It never ever stopped. Statistics is being thrown around. It is being interpreted as is suitable to one’s argument.
The language against opponents has crossed lines of decency far too often. Hatred is being spread unashamedly. Name calling is fashionable. Civilised behavior is an important ingredient of a open and free democratic society. We have forgotten this. We are lampooning our own leaders.
The world is watching. Why are we maligning ourselves day in and day out? Governments do good things and they do terrible things. Some do more good than bad others do more bad than good.
Let us acknowledge good things and criticize bad ones. But let’s do it in a civilized manner. Good leaders and bad leaders are all our representatives. Let us get rid of those who have failed the nation. Let us continue with those who have a done a good job.
India is more important than any party. Our hatred for one another is undermining India itself. We will have differences with each other. We all will have our strong likes and dislikes.
Let us demand that our future representatives tell us what they will do for the country in the next five years. It does not matter if they are the ruling class or are in opposition. Let us not make the fight personalized. Let us force them to talk issues. Criticising without offering alternatives is no good. Personalities should not overshadow the interests of the country.
Let us not forget all those in the fray are Indians. Good or bad they are a part of us. We need to be ashamed of those who have brought disrepute to the country. But also need to be proud of things that have made is proud as a nation.
Let us all vote in these elections and elect a government that will be good for the country. And after the dust settles let us all work with the new government to make India proud. Let us debate and arrive at solutions to our immense problems. Let us make parliament a place we can be proud of.
Let us respect the opponents and have constant dialogue even with them because they also represent some of us.
Let us as a county mature. Country must come first everything else must be secondary .Let us all remember that we are Indians and we the ordinary citizens also owe it to the idea of India that we in our own way make India proud!

Monday, March 31, 2014

समाधीच सुख!

माधीच सुख!
काय मनात आलं माझ्या
कोण जाणे, पण आल खर
उठलो आणि गेलो आणि बसलो
त्या मस्त खुर्चीत केश-कर्तनालायच्या
म्हणालो नीट कर दाढी माझी
दे छान कातरून!
तो ही उत्साहाने कामाला लागला
नापित, कळले त्याला बहुतेक
आहे मी बाहेर गावचा!
अर्धा तास मी डोळे बंद करून
त्याच्या इशार्‍यावर मान इकडे
तिकडे वर खाली करत राहिलो.
त्याचे हात चालू होते,
हातातली हत्यारे बदलत होती
माझी समाधी गाढ होत गेली,
मग पाणी मारून लावलं
काही बाही चेहर्‍याला आणि
मग तब्येतीत बोटाची जादू
मला दाखवत राहिला किती तरी
वेळ, मी समध्यीस्त अवस्थेत
आस्वाद घेत राहिलो,
मग संपलं त्याच काम आणि
माझी समाधी ही भंग झाली
पण तृप्तिचा आनंद काही और
होता, समाधी समाधी
म्हणतात ती अवस्था ही
असते तर, हा साक्षात्कार झाला
मन शांत आणि त्याच्यावर विश्वास
असला तर समाधी कोठे ही
कशी लागत असावी हे ज्ञान
प्राप्त झाल!
आभार मानले त्याचे मना
पासून, म्हणल हा अनुभव
आज फार दिवसानी आला
आता सातार्‍याच्या प्रत्येक
फेरीत एक फेरी इथेही अवश्य!