Monday, May 24, 2010
Delhites thrive on politics. An evening gathering for them is very rarely to talk about culture. They all assume sitting in their drawing rooms while sipping wine, they can form or dissolve governments. At the moment the topic is the UPA-II’s performance in the last one year. The mutual agreement after heated arguments is that the Congress is the strongest political party and remains united under the Nehru-Gandhi leadership. Alarming is how some senior Congress men including some ministers have been freely giving opinions on the running of their colleague’s department. The intellectual technocrat our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, everyone feels is a firm believer of Mahatma Gandhi’s “Hear no evil, See no evil and Talk no evil”. The UPA President Sonia Gandhi has wisely chosen her advisors who are low key; honest to her and know the pulse of everything.
Delhites are in awe of the Congress at the moment as to how the high command has managed in a subtle mature manner to put their arrogant regional alliance partners in their places. What is pending? Is the long awaited A.I.C.C re-shuffle along with the Cabinet re-shuffle? Hopefully the Congress high command will keep in mind that egoistic ministers with loud mouths really don’t pay in the long run.
PRANAB SAVES THE DAY
Who is the real boss in the Congress? The day the Budget Session of Parliament got over, both Mrs. Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thanked Pranab Mukherjee for helping the Government emerge unscathed from a stormy Parliament session. This Bengali Tiger, the main Congress troubleshooter really saved the Government from a lot of embarrassment. The Prime Minister and Congress President heaved a sigh of relief and lauded Mukherjee for his floor management and thanked him for getting the Finance Bill passed. Later, while chatting with Mukherjee in the Speaker’s chamber, Mrs. Gandhi told him, “Boss, you must be tired. You should take some leave.” Well, now we know that Sonia does give credit where it is due, while being grateful and respects seniority which is rare in today’s politics.
FASHION SHOW BY KIDS
India is the new hub for everything. We know that even the toddlers today are more savvy and aware of the international world than my generation was. As the holiday season in Delhi starts international brands of kids clothing are busy hosting fashion shows. The models are from 3 to 10 years old. The hottest selling show stopper is Sushmita Sen’s daughter Renee. How can Indian designers be left behind. Ritu Beri has her daughter always on show when she has a fashion show for kids. They have ranges from swimsuits to lehenga-cholis and salwaar-kameez. The fashion shows are held in Mc-Donalds, ice-cream parlors and five star hotel’s swimming pools.
The mothers accompanying are dressed to kill in their shorts and designer sunglasses. They are there to cheer their kids along. New age, new trends. Actually to see the kids in this scorching heat modeling while they should be playing indoor games is not a pleasing sight while pushy wanna be mothers urge them on. During our time we were sent to Kathakali classes, paintings, shlokas learning and music so that we were in touch with our culture. Those kids are well informed about the designer and the prices of their outfits. Where is the innocence that we all loved in our children?
As the UPA-II Government completes 1 year and the Congress marks it’s 100th year there is no doubt that the Congress is the strongest political party in India. Also the fact that it is the Nehru-Gandhi leadership that has kept the party united.
Our senior Congress Ministers as we have all witnessed in the last couple of months, not only have big egos but big loud mouths too. We have noticed Shashi Tharoor speaking out of turn and we had Digvijay Singh writing an article in a daily newspaper about his colleague’s department which is very inappropriate and uncalled for. We have Jairam Ramesh and Kapil Sibal who are very sharp and intelligent. But I think they have a problem in not being able to control their sharp tongue and wit. The leader of this team Manmohan Singh is just the opposite; he doesn’t air his views, he waits patiently to be signaled as to what has to be done. This intellectual technocrat has performed his duty as Prime Minister according to his party ‘The Congress’ brilliantly. He is a firm believer of Mahatma Gandhi’s “Hear no evil, See no evil and Talk no evil”. The UPA President Sonia Gandhi and General Secretary Rahul Gandhi have acted very wisely by choosing their advisors. These advisors are low key; they deliver; they know the pulse of everything and also know exactly how much liberty is to be taken; they are knowledgeable about everything; they have honest sources for their information which is not filtered as it goes up to the UPA Chairperson.
Whatever talk there is about the differences between Prime Minister’s office and the UPA Chairperson’s office, they are all false. They work closely together. The troubleshooters like senior Pranab Mukherjee, Ahmed Patel and Chidambaram are delivering for the Congress. They are experienced, mature and action guys. But it is sad to see that Prime Minister has not been able to reign in the members of his Cabinet or Senior General Secretaries who comment publicly on ministries and departments. It is unfortunate that some General Secretaries comment publicly on ministries and departments. They should infact air their views within the A.I.C.C offices and not to newspapers. Arrogance and politics never pay in the long run.
The partners of the UPA-II have quietly gone on into their dens as the core committee of the Congress showed them their true colours in a subtle mature manner. It was long overdue as these alliance parties were really riding high. They managed to take plum portfolios and make enough gains for personal reasons and for their small regional party fundings atleast for their lifetime. The senior partner the Congress has also managed to convey to them that they will not be blind to their faults. How long can you go on piggy riding on the Congress? And then flex your muscles too.
It is on the whole been a great year for Congress with it’s ups’ and downs’. It has successfully managed to get a lot of their things done, great negotiations and most importantly realizing that the Congress has to not give in to the tantrums of senior Ministers, senior Congress men or bullying partners.
Monday, May 17, 2010
So was there a message of sorts in Indore as the sidewalks were covered with large posters, banners and hoardings of almost every BJP leader in the country. Varun Gandhi face was prominent as while Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K.Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely appeared together or separately at each street corner. Shivraj Singh Chouhan was there too. But the one leader missing from this galaxy of stars is Narendra Modi. Were various faces there deliberate? There are some people in the RSS who want to anoint Varun Gandhi as the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh President. The objections are from a couple of senior leaders from the BJP. They have an issue with Varun’s attitude. Rahul’s hardwork in Uttar Pradesh has put the party’s political think-tank in a spot of bother.
Some say that projecting Varun would consolidate Rahul Gandhi’s position for sure. For his part, Varun apparently has already started his “campaign” by badmouthing from Sharad Pawar to Mayawati to his own Gandhi clan. That’s fine for the BJP leaders as long as Varun does not target them. After all we are all familiar with Varun’s language and arrogance.
STEPHENIANS IN TROUBLE
Shashi Tharoor is the third Stephenian after K.Natwar Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyar to get the boot from the Manmohan Singh government. Is it that the alumni of St. Stephen’s College do not gel with Team Manmohan for long? If that is the case, Tharoorgate is a warning sign for Virbhadra Singh, Salman Khurshid, Kapil Sibal, Jitin Prasad, RPN Singh, Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia all the Stephenians.
An SMS doing the rounds sums it up “Yeh tha Tharoor ka saroor, mit gaya uska guroor. Hona tha isteefa manzoor, magar yeh hai uske college ka kusoor.” (Tharoor was intoxicated by power. It has destroyed him. His resignation has to be accepted. His college is to be blamed.)
The reality of his depleted numbers continues to creep up on RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. This time the forthcoming Rajya Sabha elections are giving him a headache. He can get only one candidate comfortably elected to the five seats falling vacant. Since the claimants are many, for a second seat, he has to depend on the Congress, which does not want to be seen hobnobbing with him ahead of the Assembly elections. His electoral partner LJP Chief Ram Vilas Paswan, with just 12 members in the assembly, is even worse off. Now the grapevine has it that Lalu is toying with the idea of urging Paswan to get the Congress to back him so that he can oblige a Muslim candidate as his party’s first choice. The danger, however, is that if Paswan is able to pull this off with the Congress, he may think he doesn’t need Lalu at all.
The sudden arrest of Ketan Desai, the President of Medical Council of India really was no surprise to anyone. What actually was surprising was why the CBI took so long to arrest this man. Desai, right from 2001, when he was caught taking bribe of 65 lacs was found guilty by the Delhi High Court. It was the CBI which let Desai off then. Over the years information had been pouring in from all over to the CBI against Desai. To give this devil his due Desai successfully stopped all enquires against him using his clout, his friends and protectives who he had been nurturing obviously with some of the bribe money that he collected.
Many times this MCI Chief got his whistle blowers suspended. He was a friend to Politicians across party lines whom he regularly helped. His office had CCTV cameras all over and turned it into a virtual fortress. He had got all the powers to approve new medical colleges’ through a set of inspectors who had become only his men. Desai had everyone on his payroll. Luckily, the Health Minister has taken a serious view immediately and set up a team to probe corruption in MCI.
The Health Ministers opinion now is that, clearly the provisions of the India Medical Council Act, 1956 are inadequate to ensure transparent, healthy and constructive decision making within the Council. The law governing the MCI was more than five decades old and the latest attempt to amend it failed following “adverse comments” by the Parliamentary standing committee. The Minister is urging members to revisit this issue. Pushing the reform agenda, Azad also wants the recent events for further reforms in matters relating medical education in the country.
Under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, the President cannot be removed even if convicted. In effect, the Act would allow Mr. Ketan Desai to get out of jail on bail and walk straight into his office in the MCI and there is nothing that the government can do. Azad’s Ministry had referred the Desai case to the law Ministry .The law Ministry will deal with as per the law. This means that the Health Ministry will not be able to remove Mr. Desai from the post of President of MCI. So, the Government has now pinned its hopes on a proposed overarching body to regulate all genres of medical education in the country. Its hands are tied because a standing committee of Parliament has rejected amendments to the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 that the Government holds critical. The Government expects the new body - National Council for Human Resources in Health, announced in the President’s address last June - to help stem the rot in the system. The amendments that the Government had proposed dealt with issues such as limiting the tenures of MCI President and Vice-President to two terms, according the Centre the power to dissolve the Council’s executive committee and remove its President and enabling the Government to issue directions to the Council.
Azad wants an over arching body not only for the MCI, but for the Dental Council, for Ayurveda, for nursing and for our paramedical staff. Consultations are on with the state governments on the proposed National Council for Human Resources on Health Bill, which provides for an over-arching body. Once this body comes into being, it will take care of everything existing bodies will be subsumed in that. Then I don’t think there will be any role of small subvertible regulatory organizations. The MPs should support the new law for fixing the tenure of MCI President and Vice-President and empowering the government to act firmly. Azad has tried very hard to keep corruption out ever since he has taken over.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
The capital is a buzz with the spying scandals which are pouring out in Delhi. Every lallu-panju who has a minor connection anywhere near the corridors of power actually starts believing that he is a V.I.P. An Indian diplomat from across the border spying for her own nation surprised everyone. It is a crime which is unforgivable. Whatever her reason for it may be it is believed that her information to the enemy took many innocent lives. She and her partners in crime must be given the harshest punishment ever.
Delhites are extremely busy trying to solve the mysteries of tapping phones. Are they really randomly done by the NTRO or have they been done by the political parties in power to even scores when needed, or to be aware of the dealings of one another? The pompous Delhites are being very careful on talking over the phone now. Some of them are even whispering on the phone with great urgency and importance saying “We will talk when we meet”. It is okay to be careful but this is an extreme. Phone tapping to me by Government agencies is really no big deal. It is helpful to fight against crime, terrorism, for national security and it is necessary. But the use of this essential tool to keep an eye on political leaders’ liaisoning is not a very good idea. Opponents are welcome to their way of functioning. They are not criminals or anti-nationals, so why tap their phones? If it is actually done by chance because of the NTRO then of course there is no problem otherwise as we all know it is unethical, unconstitutional and a shameful act. But eves dropping can also be done by paying a small amount to an operator by anyone.
For once one cannot feel amused when the two incidents of spying are put together. It takes the government nearly three years to catch a mole in their own outfit in a sensitive area? Whereas the opposition leader may be caught instantly saying or doing a wrong deed which is in no way anti-nation. I have even heard of stories where government officials were tapping phones of politicians. We have heard of private agencies hired to tap phones with all new kinds of new equipments available in the market. It’s really easy as we all know. Infact today it is said that if you walk into in a politician’s or a businessman’s office, he will look at you suspiciously from your collar buttons, to your pen and to your watch to see if there is anything unusual with it. If the government uses this kind of stuff to catch tax evaders or illegal deal makers it is perfect but if an ordinary man walks around in the corridors of power he can either be amused or extremely angry at being always looked upon with suspicion.
Is this an opening of a new era of no trust or real friends’? Detectives are having a field day too. Parents spying on kids, kids on parents, spouses on each other. It’s a vicious cycle. As it is there are CCTV cameras everywhere. One thought there was privacy in ones own home. Now that’s also questionable with the new spy gadgets. Well, hopefully this phase will also pass as everything does or we will just get used to it like everything else.
Mayawati is the flavour of the season in the capital. This dalit leader had made a smart choice in choosing the party symbol an “Elephant”. She actually walks the walk of an “Elephant”, squashing what she doesn’t like while not paying an iota of attention to the world. You may like her or dislike her, but you just cannot ignore her. After supporting the cut motion in Lok Sabha she has squashed a lot of her detractors. Her dictatorial press announcement on it was a television treat.
The Congress men in Delhi including the Uttar Pradesh General Secretary Incharge Digvijay Singh are enforcedly in praise mode for this Chief Minister now. All of a sudden the Congress M.Ps from Uttar Pradesh are silent about their future roles as opponents to the BSP Government in the State. They have no idea how to respond.
On the other hand we have Amar Singh who has discovered good virtues in Mayawati. He admires the way Mayawati hate’s sycophancy and was all out to praise Mayawati’s secular credentials. Well, the stance of two Politicians connected directly with Uttar Pradesh, and the attitude of State Congress M.Ps along with the local Congress units has left the public confused.
On the other hand Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati appeared for the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) in a case at the request of the Mayawati Government. Vahanvati has been appearing on behalf of the CBI in a case against Mayawati. The CBI is investigating a case against the BSP Chief for amassing assests disproportionate to her known sources if income. Is this once again the same old game of Politics of survival while scratching each others back?
There are murmurs in the capital about Maya’s popularity hitting a new high. Forget about demolishing her parks and statues. She may have her statue in a temple soon. If Kanhaiyalal Rajput of Mahoba in Bundelkhand has his way, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister will soon get her own temple. Rajput has sought permission from the district administration to build a temple for the CM on the land he owns at Nathpura in Mahoba. The temple is going to be constructed there using donations from Mayawati supporters. It would be compulsory for her devotees to offer money to the goddess. Mayawati is a “god to the poor downtrodden”. The cash offered at the temple will finally go to the party fund. Rajput has submitted an application to the district magistrate seeking permission for the temple. Must say hats off to the dalit lady.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Now to another dalit leader of the South. Because of being a dalit the tainted minister A.Raja during Karunanidhi’s rare visit to Delhi created a flutter. Karunanidhi and his huge family are a class apart. The blatant allegations of corruption in the spectrum scandal by A.Raja was the reason for this visit. But it’s all in the family for the ruler of Tamil Nadu. Every person whether it is Stalin in the State or Kanimozhi in the Centre is a close relative. Kanimozhi, it is said in Delhi circles herself prevented Dayanidhi from getting the Telecom Department. Thanks to their opponent in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalita, this whole scandal about the liaisoning of the DMK is out in the open. Every other person in the capital has a script of telephonic conversations which created an uproar in Parliament. But as usual the DMK is a precious ally of the UPA government. So A.Raja’s head has been saved. The Congress has also been embarrassed by Karunanidhi’s son M.K.Alagiri. This Union Fertilizer Minister till date has not attended a single Cabinet meeting nor is he present in the question hour in Parliament.
Once again the UPA partners with the Congress managed to get away with all the scandals, but if this had been a Congress minister instead of Raja his head would have rolled by now.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Last week the rich and famous of Delhi got together for a power packed charity fund raising gala evening. This evening was the initiative of the first lady of Kashmir, Payal Abdullah the wife of the young Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. It was also the first ever Charity Fund Raiser Ball in the capital. Never has anybody had guts belonging to a political family to take this step but of course the Abdullahs’ are a class apart. Even though married into the first family of Kashmir Payal obviously has not lost her identity. Payal comes from an army background and till now has happily remained in the shadows of the Abdullahs’.
Payal runs a charity called “Raahat”. She founded this NGO after the earthquake rocked Kashmir and it left many families and children helpless and alone. As many of us privileged lot do think of doing things for the poor but then we give it up as soon as we get busy in our own daily chores. But Payal and her two friends kept on feeding, clothing and housing the effected thousands of helpless orphans and widows and kept “Raahat” low key, out of everybody’s sight. But she dreams of providing education to every child of under-privileged Kashmir. So, this was Payal’s brilliant idea now to lure the rich and famous by hosting what they enjoy best, that is a sit-down dinner and in the process also invade their deep pockets to fund her project. Her mother-in-law Molly especially flew in from London to encourage her daughter-in-law’s good work and her husband Omar Abdullah was the perfect host to most of the invitees who had willfully paid for their dinner.
There were Shiela Dikhsit, Robert Vadra, Sunil Mittal and from Bollywood there were Pooja Bedi, Sanjay Dutt and the master of ceremonies for the evening was Rahul Bose. Sanjay and Pooja had been in the Lawrence School in Sanawar with Omar. The energetic Farooq Abdullah danced through the evening while Omar and his two sons were the cynosure of all eyes as they presented Payal a bouquet of flowers as their appreciation for her bold initiative.
Hopefully, this step of Payal’s will bring new light into the deprived lot of Kashmiri’s. A brave step in an orthodox political system but a right one no doubt.
Suddenly it is the season of spies. The shock of a woman IFS Officer Madhuri Gupta in Islamabad being caught passing information on to Pakistani handlers has rocked the local establishment. For once though it looks like the counter intelligence folks were happily ahead of the race. In such sensitive matters of course very little really gets revealed. Except for the official leaks. Locally it is natural that Delhi circles are speculating based on what those in their business comment informally. Once again there is a similarity with the spy scandal. How deep and how far it goes is uncharted territory. But given that the NTRO like the RAW is shadowy and silent, the tongues wag and truth stays conveniently obscured. Internal security systems in our embassies are still rather primitive.
Delhi can get rather tight tipped as far as the official establishment is concerned. But on another kind of spying the tongues are wagging alright every minute. The phone tapping of local politicians has opened up many cans of worms. Nobody is quite sure who has been tapped and what has been recorded.
Sharad Pawar was the earlier recipient of tapped and taped conversations on the IPL matter. It helped to reduce pressure on government in Parliament. Other political leaders like Arun Jaitely were silenced with the fact that the NTRO was set up as a rogue outfit by the NDA and accountable only to the National Security Advisor. While the Pawar CD is whispered about many other politicians went strangely quiet on sensitive issues and Pranab Mukherjee pulled his budget through with relative comfort. Thanks to intelligence agencies and pervert devices.
LET SPORTSMEN HANDLE SPORTS
The last couple of weeks have shown clearly how bad coalition governments can be for the country. Also how matters can be made worst by Politicians spending more time in playing games which are clearly not their field. This country would be better of for a change if Politicians would concentrate on running the state of affairs of the country rather than play the Indian Paisa League (IPL).
I have never understood why Chief Ministers and Union Ministers are a part of this Cricket. This IPL scandal had to happen; it’s just thanks to the coalition government that the Minister’s concerned have been saved. It is a really sad situation that the nation is faced with. The Agricultural Minister, because he is the part of a coalition gets away without answering any embarrassing questions. The Congress’s troubleshooters are left to deal with the embarrassment caused by their coalition partners. None of the coalition partners got up to save Congress Minister Shashi Tharoor. The Congress had to deal with him very sternly and he lost his job. But the others are taking undue advantage of the situation. Yes, but of course they have been exposed. But will it matter to them, or will they remain thick skinned? The opposition parties, the major one being BJP has been coming out openly on the IPL scandal. They must not forget that a lot of their seniors are a part of this Cricket mafia. Their Chief Ministers and Former Union Ministers are also a part of this game.
The whole world knows that there is betting and matching fixing. Is that a reason that the rich and famous are involved. I do not believe that till now the members of the BCCI were unaware of betting or gambling and that the IPL Cricket had given a new life to gamblers. The taxmen are at the doors of the IPL guys but I am sure everyone will be given a clean chit after they have been fined minimal. Everyone is waiting with awaited breath for Modi’s attack on the BCCI. Here again I am sure some kind of a mutual agreement or compromise will be reached with the help of some common friends. Each one has too much dirt on each other. The exposure will be kept away from the public.
Public will never know the real truth. It’s never too late as they say. We do have hope on Pataudi, Gavaskar and Shastri that they will bring back Cricket as a sport as it should be. Will the Politicians let them do it? In the coming days with so much muck washing about for the sake of the people who think Cricket is a religion I do hope that clarity and sanity is restored soon. The Government has enough on all those involved. Even if they need to arm twist they should and once and for all let Cricket remain a sport. They should clean the whole filth. And this can only be done by getting rid of all Politicians. Let it be run by cricketers and professionals. Let the Politicians concentrate on their work which has anyway suffered due to their interest in this Indian Paisa League. And the Politicians involved are rich as it is. So, why dirty your name and spoil the sport.