BMC elections that were

Coming to the recently held BMC and Maharashtra, both the Shiv Sena and BJP strategically aligned together. Then Sena broke off, but at the end it seems like a scripted finish. The huge void of no opposition, both the parties traded accusations & counter accusations, as a result the public focused only on these 2 parties- Sena & BJP. Nobody spoke of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) or worse still Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which in order to keep itself in public domain made a few personal and other mentions. Eg: the Son’s illness, which Raj Thackeray courageously hinted, but his son refuted. Then the friendly overtures with his cousin, which were ignored even by media, but few still give that party a platform.

Congress has been a disaster where its image is concerned. But mind you, winning 31 seats is NO joke. How they won, is a miracle. In-fighting, bickering, bitching the party has been reduced to worse than AAP. One has lost track of the number times Gurudas Kamat has quit the party in a huff & rejoined claiming massive demand & popularity. He only issues releases & nobody questions. The party next time he quits should tell him sternly, accepted & simply move on.

Milind Deora, a fine person, truly nice guitarist & what is he doing in politics he needs to ask. Wish he had learnt many things from his father, Murli bhai. Well, except for that surname else he would have had zero chance of getting into the party. Then Priya Dutt, another who is a daughter of former MP late Sunil Dutt. Now this very issue has destroyed Congress, the nepotism and dynasty rule. These all MPs NEVER step out of their airconditioned homes & cars, have never given surprise visits, walking in the heat, checking if the roads, gutters & footpaths in their constituencies are fine. Instead they complain they are MPs and such civic issues are brought to them. Exactly, so at the time of BMC elections they need to SHUT UP and allow the MRCC president, even if they consider him an outsider to do his job. But the petty politics they play & myopic visions they have they will dabble in the party politics at lowest civic level and instead of tackling the issues, winning over the voters & their trust they complain the voters have no understanding.

If these endowed & privileged off springs of veteran politicians & even Gurudas ever understood then the Congress did have a fine chance of bettering their seats. I am nowhere hinting that they would have outshone Sena-BJP, that is no chance, but they had chances of doing better. The NCP as a party is worse than Congress. It was started on a negative note, to oppose Sonia Gandhi wanting to PM and then the party president, Sharad Pawar, true to his behavior promptly went in alliance with Congress. The one strong factor he looks for in his cadre, that is loyalty, is something he himself lacks. The number of times he has extended support to Modi & number of times he has denied & gone back to praising him is no joke. Everyone knows he has been awarded Padma Shree and that is where his story ends. The party foundation is only family based. So It is shocking when Ajit Pawar recently criticized Bhujbals and regretted giving the reigns of Nasik in the hands of Bhujbal’s family. NCP is born out of Pawar family. Imagine the misfortune of political journalists first one has to chase Senior Pawar, then they have to chase his nephew, Ajit & then daughter Supriya. All so full of themselves as if the journos are dying to chase them. The party members will do Maharashtra a favour by merging with other parties then they will know their true standing in politics. The fact is this arrogance and pompousness of Ajit Pawar led to his severe loss in Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad elections Municipal Corpns and local bodies polls.

After all the fighting and bickering the CM Devendra Fadnavis was called by the PM and after over an hour’s talks he was adviced to give up claim on BMC. His last Press Conference was complete anti-climax. He not only gave up claim but extended support to the Sena.

The entire elections have been a gimmick and a sham. The 2 saffron parties consolidated majority of seats between themselves. Life is not likely to change drastically. But that also does not mean that the Congress leaders have the right to be thankless to the voters. Deora tweeted out of frustration & lacked graciousness in the loss. He wished the voters potholes, malaria problem ridden BMC. The larger picture he missed, that the voters have REJECTED him in 2014 & moreover his party. If this is the point he has not learnt it’s a huge loss to the party. They need a better leader than him.

There are many new faces, smart ones, but the sad part is they are with the leading parties and then voters like face a moral dilemma, thankfully we have been given the right of NOTA.

A fast broken

  On December 27, 2011, yours truly asked a question that angered Anna Hazare to walk off the stage at MMRDA in Mumbai. It’s taken me a year to write what really happened.. i’d been mulling, because i didn’t really want to rub it in that ‘I’ was responsible in packing him off.  However, i do think it needs to be etched in my time and documented for sure!

Actually, the day began on rather political a note. Apart from the usual newsroom politics, a lot was happening in Mumbai and inside the Parliament. It was the second day since the media-hero, flogging-loving man, who the nation enjoys flirting with, portrayed as modern-day Mahatma (how I despise this), Anna, had begun his Bombay rally.

It was another fast, again proclaimed unto death. This time the scenario was DIFFERENT. People blamed the venue for lack of support. No, Mumbai is a city that tests a person’s true worth. “A hired crowd doesn’t maketh a movement,” are my words. It is NOT misplaced or personal allegation. Even the first time it was NO spontaneity that inspired Dabbawalas, cobblers, domestic workers and all who’d come to Azad Maidan during the Ramlila protests. They were ‘brought’ everyday as part of an organised strategy. It worked then.

Meanwhile, a lot happened in the interim, between August and December 2011. The venue (MMRDA grounds) apart, the organisation IAC, itself went through trouble. While agitating against govt, there was immense internal disturbance. Moreover public dismay- Most of the demands made by Anna Hazare were met by the UPA2. Govt agreed for a special session on Lokpal Bill, they persuaded Anna to NOT hold his fast, the reason for this fast was not declared, the oft-repeated Lokpal  else….well people had work to do, a v important fact forgotten by the organisers.

More worrisome was that Team Anna faced immense leadership problems.The stories of Mayank Gandhi, allegedly connected to a builder, began circulating. I went across, spoke to an old time developer who went on record to say their group had donated large amounts of money to IAC and given them office premisesnews reports in regional languages appeared more than English, again the bias was evident.

Within their group two major factions began developing. Mayank Gandhi group and Bhavesh Patel group. Earlier Bhavesh would go, network with public, different associations and unions of workers, media. He is considered a good organiser, besides v reliable for Anna. There again, another activist went on record to accuse Bhavesh of corruption. Anna trusted his lieutenants a lot, to the extent, many a follower and villagers, told me in Ralegan Siddhi that they began to believe Anna had become arrogant and had fallen prey to these greedy hawks. “Zara thamba madam, thodyach mahinyat sagla baher padel,” (Wait for few months, everything will spill out), the villagers had told me.

By then I’d made few trips to Ralegan Siddhi, had a few run-ins with his PA-cum-man Fridy Suresh Pathare. What do I say that can describe him? A village lad, tapped well by the mentor, did EVERYTHING for him, took brickbats, few hits, gave few too…suddenly this village lad was being pursued by the who’s who and became the mover and shaker for media. He was seen as a ‘setter’ in the village, reportedly. While the villagers mutely watched the drama unfold. (He has parted ways with Anna. According to the village grapevine, his own doing). None of this was a surprise.

Come December, at the last minute organisers began hunting for venues. MMRDA-which mind you is an exhibition venue, that too at BKC where people go to work out of compulsion, was zeroed upon. Most media had been totally besotted by Anna by then, so not surprisingly, conveniently forgot the Bombay HC rules for organising protests. At Azad Maidan, you can protest only from 10am-6pm. Suddenly Indians who had begun fantasizing about the concept of ‘revolution’ and Anna’s staunch supporters refused to use logic. The organisers screamed ‘conspiracy’ for being denied permission to hold protests.

In all this, Mayank Gandhi’s trust, which was unregistered till then, applied for the permission to hold a fast unto (limited period)…oh yes, in addition, they asked for a tax rebate! At a time when the organisers, Anna and other leaders accused the govt of being cruel, their own breach of rule caught them on a wrong foot. An ugly oversight, or deliberate evasion of rules, they screamed as political conspiracy. Finally some Anna’s friends and other members booked MMRDA grounds in the name of another legal trust.

I reiterate, “a hired crowd don’t maketh a revolution.” Come December 27, on the first day the stage which was 30 feet high, 100 feet away from the crowds, with couch, beddings and his followers were ready for the modern ‘Gandhi’ to do a namaste and start his speech. Initially only handful followers, mostly comprised of IAC members, IAC PR and Anna’s hard core followers were the audience on the grounds. It was blamed on a working day and all were promised, “big crowds expected soon.” Then the Bharat Nagar slum residents too were asked to be present everyday, free food was bonus. So while they made a token appearance on the first morning, thereafter it was free food and playing games for them. There began the end of a media-madeIndia’s crowd puller, oh sorry, a movement.

The description I’ve given of the venue and the stage is NO exaggeration. NO public movement can be ever so disconnected from the very public that is wanting by the organisers. The division in leadership and whatever said and done, the complete lack of vision on part of Anna was evident. They failed to capitalise on public anger and this spelt doom for Anna. He took it badly, as he couldn’t get over the fact that he was ‘rejected.’ He was a repeat, day in and day out.

Second day morning, Anna looked depressed. He couldn’t digest the fact that he was being rejected. Sadly, he’s  been manipulated and used maximally by others/aides even today. It seemed that they may have fed him a lot of false assurances. It came to such a stage, that by afternoon the organisers began sounding delusional. Blaming the state govt for jamming networks, when one service provider admitted in their release they were facing network problems due to technical failure. Moreover, the organisers sent volunteers forcing public to board buses to attend Anna’s fast. This spoilt their whole show as the word spread wildly. Meanwhile, we were told, Anna would hold a press conference. So while most rteporters scrambled rushing to the stage, i sat in our channel tent.

Believe me I was bored. The reporters were dime a dozen, who’d come from Delhi clamouring to ask ‘Anna’ questions…. So I rightly left the press conference coverage to the Delhi colleagues from our channel (ours outnumbered others). Suddenly something spurred me as I heard the oft-repeated accusations, statements and the speech. They were as old as my career. I had to push myself to the stage, where I stood there with my colleagues. A Hindi channel meanwhile tried to turn it into their channel conference, which angered others…my colleagues and other Delhi senior journos asked few questions. Something spurred me to ask a question. I had to grab the mike and introduce myself.  I taunted Anna. “Anna kal raat sansad mein apko Bhajpa ne dhoka diya aur isliye apki Mumbai mein ranneeti ghalat ho gayi, kya sahi hai?”

Now Anna is hard of hearing. Depending on his mood he wears his hearing aide. He asked me to repeat the question, which Arvind kejriwal said aloud. I meanwhile teased him, “toh kya yeh sahi hai na, BJP ne apko dhoka diya, Apki ranneeti ghalat hui na?” It hackled him, Anna got up and for the first time he went on record to expose his ideology. He said, “Cong paksh ek dhokadari paksh hai, hum Cong ke khilaf hai, Cong ek gaddar paksh hai.” And to everybody’s shock, Anna walked off the stage. I went on to say, “arre Anna, arre woh gaye..” yes, the fact is Anna was angry and he walked off. The question broke his resolve, his Mumbai fast and eventually impacted his movement too. Many veteran political reporters, right-wing fanatics and Anna-lovers blamed me for being pro-Congress. Sorry to disappoint everyone. I’m fucking loyal to my profession –Journalism. I’m paid to ask questions and i do a bloody good job. NOBODY prompted me to ask this question… Anna finally blurted out the truth and the aim of his movement, which all wanted to know…

I’ve NOTHING personal against Anna or his movement. Last October I’d broken the story with visual evidence of Baba Ramdev meeting RSS top brass on behalf of Anna. The BJP had gone on record time and again for supporting Anna and NOT denying he was leading their anti-govt movement. Except Anna, all had admitted of being pushed by RSS. This was the reason I wanted the truth to be exposed. Nobody can play around with public. Point is, this movement was as good as the politicians, against whom Anna and group had been agitating. While the govt has behaved like an ass, not to care about the public, inability to tackle inflation, rising social problems, so did Anna. To lie to public and yet get to enjoy a halo of being a leader was waiting to get exposed. This all wasn’t about eradicating corruption, it wasn’t about eventually how to deal with a problem that has escalated to cut-backs or lethargy in work, it was all about the BJP projecting him to pass the Jan LokPal bill and being the face for RSS. Also, him being anti-Congress! And this isn’t a political conspiracy?

After that, I was forced to go to Anna’s village. The next morning, the villagers who had told me, ‘wait everything will spill out,” continued to watch mutely. Nobody was there  to greet Anna, not even the world-famous Sarpanch.  And this is the reality…

A fascist propaganda

My rational friend and I were speaking on this Anna campaign and why it is a fascist trend, ably aided by electronic media. He had a valid point. The Army chief spoke publicly on civil society & governance while in uniform. First time ever in 65 years. It does perplex me that no media or politician raised an alarm. Especially someone like Laloo, Sharad Yadav & Paswan who has a  better sense about these things than other ‘educated’ MPs, civil society or other citizens. I’m surprised that they have not understood the ramifications of his statement or they just ignored it, either way a huge mistake.

We are a democracy and it is sad that we haven’t understood it. Nor do we respect it. The role of the military according to the Constitution of India is to defend, secure & attack in defence.  If the chief of this force passes remarks on the political scenario, it is undemocratic & unconstitutional. The Army chief’s dabbling in internal politics is not something that should be taken lightly. The Army chief has absolutely no business to interfere in the political functioning, considering so much is happening within the army. Instead Gen V K Singh should check infiltration, boost morale of the army & let me remind you, of primary importance – STOP the army excesses in Kashmir and the North East.

Speaking of Gen Singh, he has 2 dates of birth. Though he had given in writing 1950 as the year & then the politics that followed. Then he appeases MPs, ministers & now calls them corrupt. other army officials have taken over plots, made excesses on existing land & behaved in very ‘Adarsh’ style. Gen Singh needs to clean up his backyard before talking about politics or governance. As for the excesses & human rights violations, your claims are a mockery. The people are currently on a high, carried away by the whole Ramayan that unfolded on Ramlila grounds. Very selectively public at large is focussing on issues independently & this unreported event has been ignored.

The RSS & its various branches have aided this whole movement, something that Ashok Singhal publicly admitted to.  Two months ago I broke the news with CD evidence of the famous meeting b/w Ramdev Baba, leading RSS dignitaries in Nagpur, in March planning for this campaign. World over, corruption as a broad issue, has been highlighted by the fascists who want to capitalise on unstable or on the downward economic trend. Take for example, Hitler, before he came to power, the centrists & communists were ruling; If you notice he had also raised the issues of corruption, demanding accountability & linking it to socialism. Such aren’t bothered about killings or excesses by those in uniform. It was only with the rise of Communists, that Hitler was compelled to include socialism in his agenda. He had demanded transparency, effective governance, eradication of corruption.  He won & the minute he came to power he dissolved the very existing structures.  I strongly believe same is with the VK Singh.

Meanwhile the economy also has not been looking up. The inflation figs have touched double digit & GDP levels fluctuated hitting a low, which is not a good sign. Hence the public anger mounted against inflation, ministers involved in scams & an apparent indifferent govt.  This time the April campaign of Anna took place. The Delhi media had just begun the romance & few jittery Congressmen began flirting with Anna & in this chaos comes along a Gen who too brazenly displays his affection for civil society agitation, Anna & the pro-governance lobby. It was a private event, organised by former leading journalists & VK Singh was appreciated for his frank speech. When in uniform, an army chief displays his political ideology i doubt the patriotism such proudly claim. How was he not questioned by the govt? Once in uniform, anything private too is public, that’s the norm. His open favouring certain school of thought also is scary for the govt. wc needs to distrust him.

However, when everything is seen in isolation the larger pic is missed & that’s not being naïve. For people to be ill-informed, isn’t a good sign at all. I believe & have learnt that everything that happens is LINKED & is no coincidence. In the interim 2 leading contracts were NOT given to USA. Despite the fact that the Indian PM, Manmohan Singh’s proximity to Prez Obama & Prez’s official visit to India, US didn’t get these 2 contracts. Since last 4 years US economy is in trillions of $ of losses. These contracts would have made all the difference to them. This wasn’t going unnoticed. Meanwhile reports across the world were -India is the next superpower, India is the next destination & Prez Obama was hoping we help them raise jobs for their citizens. The 2 contracts are – Jaitapur nuclear power project is given to Areva Evolutionary Pressurised Reactors, a French company. This is worth $ 1lac crore, Second was US losing the CEIP’s Tellis offer, a fighter jet contract, which went to EADS’ Eurofighter, this is $2.5 lac crore. This means innumerable potential job loss to USA-while they considered these a hope for the revival of their economy. Worth noting is leading funding agencies of US are working in India & giving aid to civil society activists & many a govt project – World Bank, Ford Foundation, other leading agencies. The fact that 1000s of Civil Society individuals & organisations are getting funds fm US in India, is an open secret. While there are also European funding agencies which is a formidable lobby. So, there are 2 lobbies aided by various ideological funding agencies & backed by strong countries.

While on one hand, there is World Bank & allied American funding agencies like Ford Foundation, they give aid to one section-Anna team, on the other, leading European funding agencies (Netherlands, Norway, Scandanavian countries) are aiding another front of activists –Aruna Roy, etc.  The 2 have varying ideals, methodologies & never the twain shall meet. The JLP bill pushed by Kejriwal, Kiran & Anna, is more right wing. rignally this bill was moved by BJP. It speaks of dissolution of all democratic, constitutional structures & systems. The signs are clear, all his actions are political when in uniform and anti-govt.

More facts & evidences will come out in few months. Imagine, then the Gen speaking in favour of these people & their work, it is scary. The thought fascist and actions that can’t are political, all of which contrary to their duty.