Why I Voted Congress?

By Dhawal Shah

Congress Administration Rocks:

o Fiscal Deficit at 10.3% of GDP (highest in the world)

o Deaths from terrorist Attacks:  3674 lives (next only to Iraq and higher than North, central, south america, europe, asia put together)

o Real GDP Growth Rate (GDP Growth Rate less Inflation) is negative for last quarter. Will we finally witness the stone age with the current deceleration in our economy?  My camera is Ready, should the Congress win because of the following :

–          For not supporting the War on terror:  The War on terror is after all for countries like UK and USA that have been affected by terrorism as India’s victims proportionately are quite minuscule, just 3674 out of 1 Billion !!

–          Stalling Infrastructure Projects:  Several Infrastructure Projects have been temporarily stalled. Not a single highway was completed in last five years.  Our very own Bandra Worli Sea Link took over 10 years to complete. Compare it to the Empire State Building built in record 13 months and that too in 1929 (Great Depression).

–          Making Aviation Expensive:  Allowing the Private Airport Developers to charge User Development Fee, thereby making air travel more expensive. Lets rejoice once again and enjoy the good old fashioned rail travel. After all its always been the notion that only the elite can fly.

–          Decline in healthcare:  It was quite annoying to visit a government run hospitals that are disgustingly, rat and cockroach infested. What good is USD 320 Billion Forex Reserves, where a nation cannot guarantee its citizens quality, affordable healthcare.

–          Making India a safe haven for terrorists: Mr. Qasab is in jail.  Well as the thinking goes if Mohammed Afzal, the terrorist that attacked the Indian Parliament is safe and sound, why should Qasab be any different. After all an Indian Jail is better than being trained at a Jihadi Camp in Pakistan. Terrorism has endangered public lifes.

–          Indian Army: Feel extremely proud of the Indian Army presentation during last year’s Republic Day, the short and medium range missiles. However, I feel we can reduce our fiscal deficit by creating a museum as we never intend to use these weapons.  Our military rocks, we are # 4 in the world, but we still continue to be bullied by our hostile neighbours, Bangaldesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China.

–          Banning Smoking in Public but being least bothered to enforce it, making a sheer mockery of the government enforcement

–          Congress Inheriting a booming economy and it comfortable crashing it miserably, finally we can go on a vacation to Italy, what else does one have to do anyway.

I fondly remember, Aam Admi Ko Kya Mila Campaign by Congress, its good that they left it as a question, as it is still a question, after all what can the, ‘aam admi’ get when for terrorists welfare (Mr. Qasab) the tax payer simply pays closer to about 10 crores a day, what can the aam admi expect

Aam Admi should not get anything as Congress is all about ‘Khaas Admi’, its just been one Nehru family that has been controlling the destiny of this country since 1947, maybe we haven’t suffered enough from Mr. Nehru’s Socialist approach. It does appear if everyone that has a Gandhi Surname has a political future. What good is meritocracy, when most talented Indians are already abroad, why not get away with ridiculous reservations?

Mr. Shivraj Patil finally resigns after over 4 years of slumber, thank God he at least woke up. Why should he get fired any which ways, after all what good are reservations if they don’t protect the incompetent?

Our local candidate, Mr. Milind Deora during a meeting mentioned that do not come to home for water, electricity and any other problems. It is not quite as relieving as watching him on news channels after the Mumbai attacks.

My Fellow Brothers and Sisters, Lets get our Country Back.

(Dhawal Shah, an entrepreneur, rues voting for Congress in 2004 Lok Sabha elections. India Unbound concurs with most of the points raised by him.)

Shivaji spoke but would we listen ?

You are solely responsible for your situation

You are solely responsible for your situation

It is very rare for a movie to give a social message, without getting preachy and entertain at the same time. Mee Shivaji Raje Bhosale Boltoy (I am Shivaji Raje Bhosale speaking) is one such exception. The movie is based on grievances of Marathi Manoos (Marathi people) in Mumbai. The issue raised is same as the one raised by Bal Thackeray in 60s and recently by Raj Thackeray. However the solution suggested is different than what is being propagated by Raj Thackeray today or was espoused by Bal Thackeray in the past.

The movie starts off by introducing the main protagonist, Dinkar Maruti Bhosale, a clerk in a bank, as Damn Marathi Bhosale. Dinkar feels that Marathis are neglected and disrespected in their own state and “outsiders” are making hay at the cost of locals. Till here it seems as if the movie is espousing Raj Thackeray’s  agenda.  However, when Dinkar curses himself for being a Maharashtrian, Shivaji’s spirit, a la Munnabhai, comes to the rescue and the movie takes a turn for good. When Dinkar Joshi rues the fact that Gujaratis dominate the busuines landscape in the city, South Indians dominate the hotel industry and North Indians dominate the bureaucracy, Shivaji asks him that had anyone stopped Marathi Manoos to do any of these ? Dinkar then decides to take charge of his life and with the guidance of Shivaji reclaims self respect and sanity back in his life.

The movie has  exaggerated the plight of Marathi Manoos at some places. For example, Dinkar’s daughter wants to change her name as a film director, who himself is a Maharshtrian but hides this fact, believes that Marathi girls have no future in Hindi movie industry. But the plus point is that “outsiders” have not been vilified. The corrupt BMC employees and Policeman in the movie are Maharashtrians and so is the corrupt minister. This was probably a subtle reference to the fact that Maharashtrians dominate BMC and Policeforce in the state. Two North Indians help Dinkar Bhosale a la Jiva Mahale when he goes to meet his Afzal Khan. The movie does not end before making a point that political apathy is not the solution to corruption in politics and only by participating in the political process can one make a difference.

Locals v/s outsiders is the backdrop of the movie. However, the movie succeeds in driving home the larger point that people themselves are responsible for their situation and nothing would change unless they take steps to change the status quo in a positive manner.

Will we see the return of nervous 90s ?

Till poll results do us apart ..

Till poll results do us apart ..

The next eight weeks would be very cucial for India’s future. This may sound cliched as the phrase is repeated before every general election but India is at a very important point wherein if we fail to capitalise on our demographic dividend, we may miss the bus again. And when we see leaders like Sharad Pawar, Mayawati, Ram Vilas Paswan aspiring for the top job with no national agenda, it sends shivers down the spine. Will we again see someone like Charan Singh (1979), VP Singh (1989), Chandrashekhar (1990),  Devegowda (1996) or I K Gujral (1997) who became Prime Minister not because of public support but because they had least political opposition? Will we again see a period of political uncertainity, policy paralysis & indecisive Government? We are told that Manmohan Singh could not carry out any economic reforms as he was dependent on Communists. What would a Sharad Pawar, Ram Vilas Paswan or Mayawati do who would be even more dependent on Communists and other smaller parties ? If scientific and not so scientific polls are to be believed, we would see UPA leading a hung parliament i.e. none of the pre poll alliance will get the majority. In 2004, all opinion polls, exit polls and astrologers were proved wrong. There is no reason to believe that this may not happen again.

There are several possibilities if neither NDA, UPA or the third front gets majority. But the three most probable scenarios are :

  • Post elections, parties which comprise third front would join either NDA or UPA resulting in a Congress or BJP led Government
  • Communists could support Congress led Government which does not include Manmohan Singh and P Chidambram
  • Either Congress or  BJP decide to support a Sharad Pawar or Mayawati as PM.

Of all the three possibilities, it is the third possibility which is the bleakest of all. All previous third front Governments were either supported by BJP or Congress  (Janata Party of 1977 had Jan Sangha (former BJP) as an important constituent). Both BJP and Congress have nothing to gain politically by supporting a third front Government at the centre. Congress has seen its base shrinking and loosing ground to the same parties which it supported to form Government in the centre (SP in Uttar Pradresh, RJD in Bihar and JD (S) in Karnataka are a few examples). BJP paid the same price in UP for supporting Mayawati thrice to become Chief Minister. So will Congrerss or BJP support Mayawati to become PM ? Not if they are serious about being relevant in Indian Politics. 

Mayawati and her supporters believe that the country is moving towards bi polar polity and wish to see BSP as one of the two poles. That means exticntion of either BJP or Congress. Any move by Congress or BJP to support Mayawati would be detrimental to both BJP and Congress. And hence even if Maywati gets 60 seats from UP (the most optimistic scenario) and insists on becoming PM,  she would be as irrelevant as Mulayam was with 37 MPs in the fourteenth Lok Sabha. Apart from Mayawati, leaders like Sharad Pawar, Ram Vilas Paswan, Jayalalita are not serious contenders. All these leaders are fighting for their political survival and are not even contesting all the seats in their respective states. Talks of Prime Ministership are just a gimmick to enthuse voters on regional and caste lines. Sharad Pawar’s party is facing a dual anti incumbency in Maharashtra. The fact that he raised the issue of Marathi PM should clear doubts about his seriousness for the top job. Pawar is too seasoned a politician (He has tried his luck before in 1991 after the death of Rajiv Gandhi) to know that one cannot become a serious contender for PM of India by stoking regional passions.

The carrot of Marathi PM is for the voters in Maharashtra to beat the anti incumbency factor. Shivsena realised this a little late. But will the voter in Maharashtra realise this gameplan before he votes? We will know this only on 16th May.

Narendra Modi and Rajiv Gandhi

The last few days have seen a lot of prominent voices in support of Narendra Modi as future Prime Minister of India. Since NDA has declared LK Advani as its Prime Minestrial candidate, these voices are not relevant at least in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election. However, the onslaught of secularists against supporters of Narendra Modi exposes their hypocrisy. One could have understood their discomfort with the Chief Minister of Gujarat if they have had similar opinion about Rajiv Gandhi who was ruler of India during the 1984 Sikh riots, the worst ever riots after partition.

In fact the 1984 violence was so one sided that it was not a riot but a pogrom unleashed on the Sikh community by workers of the ruling Congress party to avenge the assassination of their leader Indira Gandhi who was killed by two Sikh terrorists. Very little is known about the extent of 1984 killings as there was no internet and no 24/7 news channels in those days.  Khushwant Singh, then the editor of The Illustrated Weekly Of India and a Gandhi family loyalist had called up President Gyani Zail Singh, a Sikh, for protection during the riots. The President, who also happened to be commander-in-chief  of our armed forces advised Khushwant Singh to take shelter in a Hindu house. Neither the Police nor any Government Department but a good Hindu friend was the suggestion by the then President to a fellow Sikh who had called up for help. We may be baffled at this helplessness of the President but he knew what he was talking for it was not a Hindu – Sikh riot and hence the advice to Khushwant Singh to take shelter at any Hindu’s house. The President also knew that the pogrom was being carried out under the watchful eyes of Delhi Police and hence did not advice Khushwant Singh to take the help of Police. In fact the day after Indira’s assassination, when the pogrom had just begun, a peace march by some residents of Lajpat Nagar, a Delhi locality was stopped as participants did not have official permission!! In many places Police took away kirpans from Sikhs and made the job of Congress workers much more easier.

For three days, killings continued unabated in the capital and around 3000 Sikhs were killed. But the national television did not show any footage of the riot (Doordarshan was the only Television Channel in those days).  All that the state run TV channel showed was the dead body of Indira Gandhi and her mourners. It was as if the city of 9 million people was in the somber mood of mourning. The world was totally unaware of the happenings in the capital of India. People did listen to some Congress workers shouting Khoon Ka Badla Khoon Se Lenge (We will avenge blood with blood) well within the earshot of new Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi but were unaware of the extent of the bloodshed as it was totally blacked out by the only Television Channel in the country.

The official toll by the Government immediately after the riots put the death toll at 425. Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was then the president of BJP contested the official death toll and asked his colleagues to collate figures. BJP’s total added up to 2800. The Congress quickly branded BJP as an anti-national party. Later the Ahuja Committee, appointed by the Government to compute the number of deaths, put the death toll as 2,733 in Delhi. Rajiv Gandhi and his Government never apologised or regretted for the bloodshed. Instead he defended the pogrom by saying, “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes.” Editors of national dailies rationalised the killings. Girilal Jain, editor of The Times Of India explained that the Hindu cup of patience had become full to the brim. N.C. Menon, editor of The Hindustan Times wrote of how Sikhs had clawed their way to prosperity and it was about time. When Khushwant Singh returned his Padma Bhushan award, Vinod Mehta, current editor of Outlook magazine and a shining jewel of the secular pack , wrote that when it came to choosing between a Sikh and an Indian, Khushwant Sikh chose to be a Sikh!!

During the Lok Sabha elections of 1984, Congress ran a hate filled campaign which included advertisements and posters that had a picture of a Sikh Taxi driver with the caption Kya Aap Ek Sikh Taxi Driver pe Bharosa kar sakte hain ? (Can You trust a Sikh Taxi Driver?). In Amethi, where Maneka Gandhi was contesting against her brother in law Rajiv Gandhi, slogans like Beti hai Sardar ki, Qaum hai Gaddar ki (She is the daughter of a Sikh, a community of traitors) worked and so did the hate filled posters in the rest of the country. Congress got 401 seats in the Lok Sabha; a feat which not even Indira Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru had achieved. Of course for a congress sympathetic mainstream media, this victory was result of a sympathy wave.

Congress leaders like Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, HKL Bhagat who actively took part in the killings continued getting Lok Sabha tickets in successive elections. Jagdish Tytler was even made a minister in the UPA government. PV Narasimha Rao who was the Home Minister during the pogrom, was severely censured for his connivance with the killers, by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, hero of 1971 war, in his affidavit to Nanavati Commission . Not only did Rajiv Gandhi made him a cabinet minister again after the 1984 elections but he was also made the Prime Minister after the death of Rajiv Gandhi. Even today mainstream media criticises P V Narasimha Rao more for the demolition of a mosque in Ayodhya, in which non one was killed than for the 1984 massacre of thousands.

Now compare this with the Gujarat riots of 2002. According to UPA Government 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in the riots. Now if it was a state sponsored riots against Muslims how come 254 Hindus lost their lives ? Gujarat is the only state where many rioters have been convicted by courts whereas the first conviction in anti Sikh pogrom happened in 1997. Even during the riots a lot of rioters (both Hindus and Muslims) were killed due to police firing. The state has progressed a lot since the 2002 riots and hence Modi’s popularity has soared not just in Gujarat but in the entire country despite the fact that he is still held responsible for the riots unlike Rajiv Gandhi who was darling of the same section of the media. This double standard is unfathomable.

People who hold Modi morally responsible for the riots would be probably justified in doing so if they apply the same yardstick to Rajiv Gandhi and Congress regime of 1984. When they dont do that, they expose the hollowness in their secularism.

Samjhauta With National Interest ?

The Samjhauta Express blasts of 18 Feb 2007 killed about 68 people and injured 50. The initial suspicion of investigators was on Pakistan and Bangladesh based militant organisations.  However after the Malegaon blasts the Mumabi ATS suddenly felt that Lt. Col. Purohit had used RDX in Samjhauta blasts and said so in the court and media. This despite the fact that no RDX was used in the blasts. The blasts were done with the help of Potassium Chlorate and Sulphur. However these facts did not deter the Police from cooking stories. Despite the fact that the Police had to reverse its stand in the court, and denied any link of Shrikant Purohit to Samjhauta Express blasts the damage to India’s reputation and interests was done. After 26/11 Pakistan kept harping on the inconsistency in Samjhauta probe and cast aspersions on India’s allegations. Thanks to ASI Tukaram Omble, because of whom Kasab was caught alive, that we have a very credible evidence against Pakistan otherwise we really would have had a tough time after the Samjhauta probe fiasco.

However, we still dont know what made the Police claim in the first place that Shrikant Purohit and not Pakistan based terrorist organisations were behind the Samjhauta attacks. Did it recieve any special instructions from its political masters or was it just an human error ? Are Shrikant Purohit and Pragya Thakur responsible for Malegaon blasts or were they framed for larger political goals ?

If the ATS is to be believed then Pragya Thakur and Shrikant Purohit have confessed to their role in Malegaon blasts. It has happened before that terrorists confess to Police but do an about turn in courts. However many terrorists have admitted to their crime in interviews to media. The most famous instance is of Afzal Guru, accused in Parliament attack case. Even terrorists of Indian Mujaheedin responsible for Delhi blasts, caught after Batla House encounter confessed to their crime in an interview to India Today magazine and so did Mansoor Peerbhoy in an interview to Indian Express. Peerbhoy has even applied to the court to become an approver. Kasab’s confession about his role in 26/11 is well known. What is interesting is the fact that we have seen confessions of hardcore terrorists like Kasab, Peerbhoy, Afzal, Saquib Nisar, Zia-Ur – Rehman and Shakeel but the Malegaon blasts accused who used a cycle bomb and killed five people in a crowded place have not yet confessed to the police even after narco and brain mapping tests.

There is no doubt that Pragya Thakur and Shrikant Purohit should be hanged if they are responsible for killing innocents. But if the leaks of their confession to the media prove fictitious and the court sets them free then the Government would have to answer a lot of questions.

BJP won the semis by 2-3

The recently held Vidhan Sabha elections in five Indian states were touted to be the semi finals before the general elections which are expected to be held in March – April 2009. Most analysts have concluded that since Congress suceeded in forming the Government in three states, it has won this semi final has emerged stronger than BJP. But as usual, the devil is in the details.  

Of the three states won by Congress two are Delhi and Mizoram. These two states together account for just eight Lok Sabha seats which is three less than Chattisgarh which was not only retained by BJP but the party even increased its vote share defying anti – incumbancy factor. Congress suceeded in wresting Rajasthan from BJP but it managed to get only one percent more votes than BJP. This despite the fact that BJP had to face rebel candidates in as many as 60 constituencies and many of them won (fourteen independents won with a vote share of about 20% in the state).If  votes of the four big states in the polls (excluding Mizoram) are aggregated, it is clear that BJP got 38 % of total votes polled whereas the Congress got around 36% in these elections. Even if the Vidhan Sabha seats are aggregated, BJP has won more seats (BJP got 294 whereas the Congress got 279) than Congress in the five states even if one includes 32 seats won by Congress in Mizoram which sends just one MP to Lok Sabha. Infact the states won by BJP i.e MP and Chattisgarh account for 40 Lok Sabha seats whereas the states won by Congress i.e Rajasthan, Delhi & Mizoram account for 33 Lok Sabha seats. So the performance of BJP was far bettter than Congress both in terms of vote share and seats won. This despite the fact that BJP had the disadvantage of anti incumbency in the three bigger states.

 One of the other myth that was perteprated by analysts is irrelevance of internal security as a poll issue by citing the results of Delhi elections where Shiela Dikshit won, despite the fact that Delhi alsio faced serial blasts earlier this year. However, these analysts conviniently ignore that Delhi voters are aware of the fact that Shiela Dikshit does not control Police or any other law and order department as security is not a State subject for Delhi & it is directly controlled by Central Government. In Chattisgarh, of the 31 Naxal affected seats BJP won 26 seats mainly because of the its Government’s support to Salwa Judum, a people’s movement against Naxalism. Congress had promised to disband Salwa Judum and was routed in the Naxal affected areas. So internal security is indeed a big issue and would be a bigger issue in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The results of these elections clearly point towards Advantage BJP for Lok Sabha 2009.

The False Awakening Of Page 3

As if the terror attacks were not enough, we also had to bear Page 3 celebrities on TV and Newspapers after the attacks who suddenly realised that they too belong to India. This is not the first time that Mumbai or India has witnessed a terror attack but for the first time the elite has broken out of their cocoon.

Mumbai was attacked thirteen times in the last 16 years.  The latest attack on ten different places (nine in South Mumbai and one in Vile Parle) was not the biggest on the city. In 1993, 257 people lost their lives and more than 750 were injured whereas in 2006 around 181 were dead and and 890 injured. However it was the first time that India’s elite faced terror attack. It is ironical that the same movie actors who never had a problem working with Sanjay Dutt, an accused in 1993 blasts, were marching with candles after the recent attacks. Of course the candles were lighted only at the Oberoi and Taj despite the fact that more people lost their lives in the firing at CST station.

Better late than never. But it would have been good if their activism had generated some light instead of just heat. Clueless as to what should be their reaction after the attacks, the first thing that they did was bash politicians. SMSes and mails were forwarded requesting people not to vote &  stop paying taxes. Terrorists were equated to politicians. As if politicians come from a different planet.

The good thing is despite the tremendous air time the idiotic views of these P3P got, it hardly influenced the common people. In the Vidhan Sabha elections of the states that went to polls after the attacks, the polling percentage was higher than last elections. This probably happened because voters rightly feel that they are responsible for the Government that they get. We also saw some good examples of citizen activism when a group of citizens collected 30 lakh rupees to fund 100 Bullet free jackets for Mumbai Police. This group is certainly not just aware of its rights but also its duties.

We will hopefully see many such stories where common people not only exercise their right but also perform their duty towards the country in whatever way they can. Because our responsibility does not end by just voting in elections or paying our taxes.  Voting and paying taxes are necessary but not sufficient aspects of one’s duty towards country.