Assembly elections in UP and other states are around the corner. Desperate to stop Modi juggernaut, alliances are being made and unmade. Here is one in UP
UP’s Mahagathabandhan =Akhilesh’s SP-+Mulayam’s old guard + -Congress + -RLD Other local parties too are coming together on ‘secular’ platform.
The pluses and minuses change daily like in a soap opera. The Yadav family drama has caught the fancy of our pseudo-everything main stream media. Very eager to see Modi humbled and bundled out, the media clutches at every tenuous thread to prop any challenger -Kejriwal, Hardik, Mayawati, Mamata, and Rahul being air dropped between his vacations. Media’s latest knight in shining armour is Akhilesh.
The ‘Theory of Akhilesh Win’
Media’s ‘Theory of Akhilesh Win’ goes like this: SP faced anti-incumbency. With his bold gambit of throwing out old guard Akhilesh would overcome negative performance and image of his own government. The EC dutifully gives him the ‘Cycle’ instead of freezing the symbol. Akhilesh’s youth and Muslim vote in pocket and some laptops would be enough to sweep aside Modi’s BJP.
Then the soap opera’s conductor adds a twist to the script. The father, the son, and the uncles would soon get together for a family selfie. Our media spinners spin a new sub-theory -Maulana’s return would bring back Muslim votes which would have been captured by Mayawati.
Mayawati’s vote trawler
She has a trawler with her vote-fishing net having 97 floats thrown out in UP’s waters muddied by caste and Muslim factors. Mayawati stares at her fishing net’s 97 bobbing nodes and wonders whether to focus on Muslims or her wads of SC votes.
Congress, seeking a semblance of relevance, declares its alliance with Akhilesh. Our media is ecstatic.
Politics is changing, opposition doesn’t get it
This is how electoral politics has played out all along in India -deals, counter deals, back deals, reward the rebels, encash votebanks of castes and be very afraid of Muslim vote.
If one looks at the enthusiastic support by common people to demonetization, one knows that India under its PM’s leadership has already changed and it is changing. When Modi exhorts BJP to be transparent about its funding, one can assume that he is throwing another challenge to the political class.
By this time, details of BJP MPs’ and MLAs’ cash deposits from November 8th to December 30th must be under processing.
Modi has irrevocably altered India’s political economy. He is combining a revamped and bigger subsidy regime with a business-friendly environment and infrastructure development with boosting small and tiny businesses through Mudra loans. Demonetization, e-transactions and GST are ushering in a faster economy. A grocer, a shoe shine wala and every ordinary Indian have tasted the advantages of digital economy and what it means to get transfers of subsidies and payments directly in one’s bank account. In rural households, LPG connections are replacing smoking chullahs. She knows that her ‘notes’ are safer in her bank than in her kitchen. She feels empowered and is no longer a beggar that the Congress had reduced her to be. She is a tough task master. Read more https://www.myind.net/silent-revolution-going-indias-noisy-democracy
Right under the nose of opposition political parties and media, Modi is transforming India’s politics too. While they are creating fiction of intolerance, church attacks, and Dalit deaths, India’s politics is changing from job reservations to livelihood and wealth creation, from fear of technology to embracing it and innovating, from mere demands to people’s participation as seen during demonetization crunch, from main stream media to social media and specialty media. That’s why some ’eminent’ journalists are clamoring for gagging the social media.
Public mood is changing from cynicism about crime and scams to taking on the monsters of black money and terror. When else would you find the Prime Minister and the most watched and followed politician launching BHIM app for person to person transfer funds based on indigenously developed technology?
Opposition parties are scared of Modi’s budget coming right before the polling for assembly elections begins. They know that something has changed but they don’t get what -conditioned as they are by decades of Congress style of politics.
But what about the BJP?
I had written in my article on June 12, 2016
“The worrying fact is that BJP is playing the game set up by its opposition.” Read more https://www.myind.net/elections-bjps-tough-road-ahead
At that time, BJP lacked an overarching emotive appeal that would transcend caste and religion considerations. Surgical strikes against Pakistan and the war on black money which has reached every household are those overarching issues now. From its towering leader, BJP couldn’t have asked for more. Then there are powerful local issues like bleak law and order, communal riots, and Kairana exodus. Akhilesh has nothing to show and everything to hide for his rule of five years.
As I write this, I am aware of RSS’s Manmohan Vaidya’s statement on reservations at the Jaipur Literature Festival. The opposition and main stream media are quite thrilled because they are good at twisting facts to suit them. For an ever-defensive BJP, this provides another reason to stay on back foot. If BJP snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, this would be an excuse like it was in Bihar elections. The reason wasn’t valid in Bihar of 2015. It will be even less valid in UP and India of 2017.
You can’t learn how to win from losers of 2014. You can surely learn something from the winner, your top leader and India’s PM -work on your message and deliver it aggressively.
Is BJP afraid of losing UP ?
Afraid to do anything ‘wrong’ lest it doesn’t win, it stitches an alliance of castes and plans to select candidates accordingly. BJP hears about Akhilesh-Congress alliance and it goes on defensive. It forgets its own PM’s huge achievements and its declared poll planks -surgical strikes and demonetization. On top of allotting tickets to Congress and BSP rebels it welcomes a thoroughly discredited ND Tiwari in its fold. BJP later plays down the whole sordid episode after a huge protest by its supporters on social media. In 2012, BJP had welcomed BSP’s Babu Singh Kushwaha infamous for NRHM scam. In 2004, it had welcomed strongman and history sheeter DP Yadav.
Worse, when its workers die at the hands of leftists and jihadis in states like Kerala, It doesn’t take the state governments to task. It ignores Hindu traditions to be trampled by foreign-funded NGOs emboldened by a lopsided judicial overreach. Our pseudo-secular opposition doesn’t see anything wrong in casteist and minority appeasement politics and letting corrupt contest elections. Is BJP afraid of bad press?
BJP may sweep polls, but we need better politics from it
Union Budget will most likely consolidate and build upon Modi Government’s pro-poor and development reputation. Modi’s rallies in UP will be another big factor. These factors and the emotive and substantive issues mentioned above may transcend Congress politics. UP’s main parties SP and BSP are not likely to come together. Therefore, it is quite possible that BJP will sweep the UP polls. But we expect far better politics and communication by the largest political party.
The above article was first published at: https://www.myind.net/theory-akhilesh-win-and-bjp#.dpuf
The Dangal in Mulayam Singh’s Yadav clan and Samajwadi Party and Tata’s tussle with Cyrus Mistry have pushed everything else in the background. The US Presidential race between Trump and Hillary is in its decisive phase. The post ‘surgical strikes’ situation at LOC remains tense. BSF recently countered Pakistan’s transgression. The ISI spy ring involving Pakistan High Commission’s staffer has been busted. All these and equally important issues like Triple Talaq have been pushed into the background.
If newspaper headlines and news channels’ tickers reflected public mood or political realities, we would not have had Narendra Modi led BJP and NDA sweeping the 2014 polls. Had the criticism of PM Modi’s Pakistan policy in media been founded on facts and logic, the surgical strikes would not have happened. The financial meltdown of 2008 and Brexit also would not have happened.
About four months back, UP elections looked to be a difficult challenge for BJP. BJP had swept the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 with UP contributing a lion’s share to the tally. But subsequently, BJP had lost Bihar to the Mahagathabandhan of Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar. It was unable to counter the caste arithmetic and propaganda about reservations. In UP, the BJP couldn’t decide on a CM candidate. The party had been out of power for over a decade. Despite Amit Shah’s undeniable credentials as a great election manager the going seemed to be tough for BJP. Read https://www.myind.net/elections-bjps-tough-road-ahead
In June, this author had argued that BJP needs to play to its strengths and not weaknesses like caste arithmetic. He had summed up the challenge as: “BJP is without an overarching emotive promise which can galvanize this fractured society to come out its nooks and crannies, to come together and vote for it”
Now there is a big shift in public mood.
The surgical strikes against Pakistan have resonated with people throughout the country cutting across sub identities like caste, language and religion. The Modi government and India’s brave Army fulfilled the fervent wish of every Indian ( Read https://www.myind.net/aftermath-uri-attacks-what-india-expects-pm-narendra-modi ) and the nation gave an overwhelming approval to the government and the army (Read https://www.myind.net/strategic-restraint-surgical-strikes-pakistans-terror-camps-what-next )
The Congress led opposition soon realized this and started doubting the ‘surgical strikes’ themselves. When this backfired, Congress claimed that surgical strikes had happened during the UPA regime too. When this too didn’t impress people, it started telling PM Modi and BJP ‘not take political advantage of army’s success’. These are sure signs that Congress and opposition have realized that they have lost credibility and considerable public support.
The Triple Talaq issue is now unraveling. The Modi government came out convincingly against continuation of this regressive practice under the pretext of religious freedom. PM Modi said “Can’t allow lives of Muslim women to be ruined by triple talaq” (read ). He also said that this is not a Hindu-Muslim issue. His government has framed this issue in terms of ‘compatibility with India’s constitution and gender justice’.
So far, the Samajwadi Party had assumed that Muslim votes would accrue in its account. The Mulayam-Akhilesh feud has left Akhilesh government doddering. Its election prospects now look much worse than before -whether the patch up happens or not. It is difficult to see how even its ‘own Yadavs’, leave alone Muslims, will feel assured enough to vote for it.
Mayawati’s BSP was ascending earlier. But BSP has been plagued by large scale attrition of senior leaders -some no doubt disgruntled by larger allocation to Muslim candidates.
The triple talaq issue is bound to make some Muslims think again. Those who are with Mullahs and Maulvis will remain opposed to the BJP. Out of the 18% share of Muslims in UP, 9% will be women. Even if half of them and some men rethink, we are talking about a probable swing of 4 to 5% away from parties which don’t oppose Triple Talaq. Mayawati has told the Modi Government to leave Muslims alone -in other words let Muslim women suffer until the Mullahs see light. Her ‘target constituency of young Muslims’ are not going to be very convinced about her stand. Her idea of attracting Brahmins is also going to be difficult. The Samajwadi Party is not in a position to take a stand on the issue and it may default to support for continuation of Triple Talaq. Congress is an insignificant player in UP. It is still hedging the issue. It would like to get Muslim votes, but it also is in a race to get Brahmin votes. This hedging is not going to make it more popular.
Coming on the back of surgical strikes, Modi government’s stand on Triple Talaq must have further cemented BJP’s core support base. In a multi-cornered election a 4 to 5 % swing of votes and consolidation of broad support bases will be decisive factors.
PM Modi has led the charge for BJP on Triple Talaq. His hugely popular Pakistan policy and credible development appeal are big strengths for the BJP. The opposition parties, which so far relied on caste and religion vote banks, will find it tough to face the BJP. It is for BJP to take advantage of confusion in the ranks of opposition parties and surge ahead.
Image Credits: ANI News
This article was first published at https://www.myind.net/dangal-sp-yadav-family-muslim-vote-bjp-rise#.dpuf
The tamasha by Congress after the recent surgical strike is a stark reminder that the philosophy and agenda of our national development remains trapped by the Congress ecosystem. This ecosystem is a complex web of nodes and of favors and disfavors.
Congress ecosystem and its big lie
Apologists of Islamic extremism and terror form one node of this ecosystem. They rationalize various acts of gender injustice and terror as ‘resistance to oppression’ or ‘ must allow religious freedom’ or as in ‘it isn’t Islam at all’. The other node of this ecosystem is formed by the Left who paint Hinduism as a regressive and upper caste force but have no problem with brutal oppression of women, Muslims from other sects, and religious minorities in Islam dominated regions. The third node of the Congress ecosystem is that of a section of educated Indians who equate West with science and progress, prefer market economy, and have no problem in accepting Vatican certifying Teresa’s miracles and canonizing her. These nodes maintain connections with some media owners and journalists and artists through a system of ‘give and take’. The ‘connected’ journalists easily rationalize horrible violence and gender injustice. The artists give a ‘humane’ face to Islamic terror and violence by producing movies with sympathetic storylines but they are very precise in linking any social ills to Hinduism when they produce other movies.
The ecosystem co-opts Jihadi, Evangelist, and Naxal forces to keep the pot boiling over. It isn’t difficult to guess how they keep their wheels greased despite being out of power. They have their counterparts in media, institutions and governments the world over. They cooperate to keep any nationalist upsurge and mobilization in India on back foot. They oppose ISIS only as a symbolic gesture but turn a blind eye to JeM, JuD, LeT and other terror outfits.
There is something really very important that unites these forces. They are united in their agenda to propagate the lie that India was not a nation before the British ‘united it and gave it independence’ in 1947. This lie is the biggest stumbling block to asserting our true identity, claiming our great legacy and progressing to being a great nation again.
We, the majority of Indians who wish to see India and Indians prosper, have to face this disinformation onslaught all the time. Save some media web sites, TV channels and social media we too are trapped in the Congress ecosystem. Even our Army isn’t spared by the Congress ecosystem.
Now guess who is saying what is given below.
” Humanity can live a happy, peaceful and beautiful life only when we understand and follow the principles of loving and respectfully accepting the plurality inherent in nature; move with a sense of coordination, cooperation, empathy and dialogue and; adopt the path of non-violence and constitutional middle path instead of practicing unilateral fanaticism and violence in our practices in matters related to ideological and religious conduct. “
” Leaving everything related to the nation’s future in the hands of government is not going to prove very effective. All prevailing policy systems across the world have proven themselves as incomplete and half baked visions. The system in our country too has been suffering from the same problem since our independence “
“The resurgence of a self reliant, strong, prosperous and secure nation, giving benevolent and flourishing leadership to the world, is possible only when an egalitarian, organized and enlightened society with self esteem strives towards this end.” Imported words like ‘inclusive’, ‘secular’, and ‘tolerance’ pale insignificant when compared to the brilliance of the all encompassing world view and a vision for development.
“It is this self-centered collective greed that gives rise to exploitation, suppression, violence and fanaticism. Precisely, operating on the basis of such selfish interests by the western countries is responsible for a new incarnation of terror and fundamentalism that has emerged today in West Asia in the form of ISIS terrorizing the whole world. Can you guess who is diagnosing terror so well?
“We will have to drive out even the smallest of the remnants of our caste based, regional and linguistic egos which breed such prejudices. Each one of us must test each of our act, whether big or small, on the simple ground that each member of my great Hindu society, and each son/daughter of Mother Bharat, is my own brother and sister. We must ensure that each of our temples, cremation ground and community water source must remain open to. We should ensure that all should participate in all functions, celebrations as well as festivals of great heroes and personalities. ….” Can this come from allegedly ‘Brahminical’, or an ‘upper caste dominated’, or ‘anti-Dalit’ or a ‘divisive’ organization?
“For sustainable development, (our) philosophy encourages least use of energy, maximum employment, sensitivity towards environment, ethics, and the wholesome approach to agriculture. It suggests a decentralized and self reliant economic and industrial order.” Isn’t this model of sustainable development better than western model of replacing one kind of (ever growing) consumption by another? Can you guess who is articulating this?
All the above are quotes from Vijayadashami speeches in 2014, 2015, 2016 given by RSS Sarasanghachalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat. (Please see references 1, 2, and 3 below)
Could you guess correctly?
RSS vision and actions
Do you see hate towards any religion in these speeches? Do you see any upper caste hegemony? Do you see anything anti-modern? What you see is desire to be a healthy society and a nation. What you see is an examination of what is good for us and what isn’t -irrespective of whether it is modern or ancient.
Dr Bhagwat draws upon our Hindu civilization’s timeless (Sanatana) knowledge and wisdom enunciated by greats like Swami Vivekananda and Yogi Arvind and rishi, muni, and sages from ancient times to tell us what we need to do to fulfill Bharat’s role as guiding light to the world troubled with war and avarice, by arrogance and fear, by disease and dispossession.
RSS has indeed backed up its vision by actions in some areas. RSS is well known for its relief activities during natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. It has been doing a lot of developmental and educational work in Adivasi areas and in eastern states through organizations like Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. (Reference 4)
But what do we read in our main stream media? What is the perception among educated Indians and our current ‘thought leaders’?
From Dr. Bhagwat’s recent speech our media picked two points. They ‘noticed’ that Swayamsevaks were wearing the new uniform with full trousers. They also juxtaposed Dr. Bhagwat’s defense of ‘gaurakshaks’ with PM Modi’s criticism -leaving out that both said essentially the same thing. Both emphasized need to abide by the law.
Did we hear or read in main stream media about RSS’ work in Madhya Bharat for ending discrimination against Dalits in surveyed villages as mentioned by Dr Bhagwat in his recent speech? No.
There is only one entity which has been subjected to more sustained and vicious abuse and vilification than PM Narendra Modi -it is Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi have all maligned RSS. Minor functionaries of Congress keep repeating lies about RSS. Here is a short list abuses used to defame RSS – ‘killer of Mahatma Gandhi, divisive force, communal, instigator of communal riots, Brahminical, against minorities, regressive and fundamentalist, behind saffron terror, like Islamic State’
A section of educated Indians thinks that RSS is rooted in past. This is the age in which film stars and sports persons become our ‘thought leaders’ due to their audience pull. How many of them stand up for Hindus of Kashmir, Kairana and those in Pakistan? How does it stack with their alacrity in supporting Pakistani artists?
One can and one must read Dr. Bhagwat’s speeches (see references below) in order get a full import of what RSS is and what it is trying to do. But even the most diligent of us can get swamped by the prevalent disinformation onslaught.
So, why is RSS allowing the battle of perception against it and against Hindus?
This is the age of disinformation. Most large media are controlled or funded by political, religious (Non-Hindu), or business interests. Their information mix consists of ‘curated facts’, half-lies or total lies. The mix is tailored to the interests of those who control or fund.
That’s the reason we read only about ‘trousers or gaurakshaks’.
That’s the reason Durgapuja is banned in the West Bengal, where it is major religious festival of Hindus. It’s like banning Ganesh Visarjan in Maharashtra.
That’s the reason not just RSS but ‘Hindu’ is still a ‘regressive’ ‘parochial’ word in Hindustan, but a Maratha morcha is a sign of ‘awakening’
RSS has strong philosophical foundation rooted in our Dharmic civilization. It has a very large and disciplined organization. Can’t it project itself better? Can’t it fight disinformation with information? Can’t it do whatever it takes to alter the public discourse?
Caste politics is preventing Hindu unity
Jats, Patidars, and now the Marathas want caste based reservations. We are getting into a bigger mess due to percentage games for political gains by various parties. BJP too has played along. If RSS wants to eradicate castes, will reservations help or hinder its work? Who will tell them that their own caste leaders have let them down? Who will tell them that clinging to caste identity will keep them backward. Can’t RSS mobilize public opinion about futile nature of these demands. How will it unite Hindus?
We hear that Bihar elections were lost ‘due to Dr. Bhagwat’s proposal to form an impartial and independent panel to examine the current system of reservation’. Whether the analysis is right or wrong, it shows that we remain trapped by the Congress ecosystem.
BJP threw in towel on reservations some time back. RSS too is trapped by the Congress Ecosystem.
RSS and BJP workers are getting killed
Read about this recent incident . Many such killings have been going on in Kerala, Karnataka, and West Bengal, and UP. It is the job of the respective state government to bring culprits to book and to protect its citizens. If a state government is failing the Center shouldn’t be a mute spectator.
But shouldn’t RSS use its considerable strength to put pressure for necessary actions?
RSS is punching well below its weight
A vanquished Congress with just 44 MPs is often able to put Modi Government on the back foot and RSS in defensive mode. It continues to use its ecosystem of favors and disfavors despite being out of power for over two years.
Alert and nationalist social media activists and a handful of web sites are the only counter-weights to the public discourse heavily skewed against Hindus and in favor of India’s enemies.
The fact is that RSS is punching well below its weight. It has huge resources and it can get more if it wishes. It may have to rethink its model ‘we are an organization for character building and our Swayamsevaks should do what is necessary for country on their own’.
One reason RSS is punching well below it weight is that it is trapped by the Congress ecosystem and it is kept in defensive mode.
Only once in a while we seem to break out of the Congress trap. It happened recently after surgical strikes against Pakistan based terror camps. It happened once before, at the time of 2014 elections.
We need to break out of the Congress trap permanently.
If RSS doesn’t take a lead in this, who will?
RSS project in Madhya Pradesh for empowering Dalits is welcome. It may be a sign that it is indeed rethinking its model. Modi ji’s promise of Congress Mukta Bharat won’t get fulfilled unless the Congress ecosystem’s trap is broken.
Time RSS starts using its intellectual and organizational strengths. Time it launches more wide ranging projects. Perhaps it is a better way to build further strength and breaking out of the Congress ecosystem’s trap.
Time we break free.
Image Credits: ANI News
– This article was first published at https://www.myind.net/india-needs-break-free-congress-ecosystem-progress#.dpuf
What troubles NC, Congress, and Communists is the loss of power. This is their problem all over India. In J & K, they get active support from Pakistan. There lies the rub.
(This article written by me was first published on myind.net here on August 25, 2016 )
Our security forces continue their grim battles against Pakistan supported separatist stone throwers in some parts of Kashmir. They aren’t just battling the violent mobs. They are battling our politicians from Congress, NC and other parties whose main concern seems to be the use of pellet guns. These politicians are unmoved by large number of deaths of our security men.
Senior politicians like Omar Abdullah have no answer to the question how should security forces deal with stone throwing mobs -they don’t want guns, they don’t want pellet guns. They seem to say -do away with security forces, except of course their personal security cover.
Ever since the all party meeting on Kashmir, the air is thick with the talk of political solution to Kashmir. Omar Abdullah wants it. The Kashmir Congress Chief G A Mir wants it. CPM also wants it.
Even the venerable Supreme Court has advised a ‘political solution’.
But what is the political solution to the Kashmir issue?
No one has suggested any formulation of a potential political solution. And since our main stream media don’t ask tough questions to anyone who is opposed to Modi Government, we can only guess what they mean by a political solution.
To the above opposition parties: A ‘political solution’ might mean any combination of the following:
1. Remove army. Let police handle local law and order. It is easier to browbeat police to let terrorists and criminals escape.
2. No pellet guns. No normal guns. Use lathis to deflect stones being hurled at you. AK 47’s and bombs are the prerogative of the terrorists only.
3. Kashmir has autonomy under Art 370. That is not enough. Let it secede from India. But Indian State must fund expenses of Kashmir’s ruling dynasties and their fellow politicians.
4. Development promised by Modi and PDP-BJP governments is not what Kashmir people want. They don’t care about education, jobs, and infrastructure. Their main concern is what will happen to their beloved politicians and separatist leaders. Pakistan and China are better for their human rights.
5. Until the above “Dream State” is achieved, ask Mehbooba to resign. Send BJP packing. Give us the power in Kashmir.
It is interesting to know that the lone voice against this chorus of ‘political solution’ comes from the democratically elected Chief Minister of J & K, Mehbooba Mufti. She said,
“Kashmiris are not stone-pelters: 95% people are innocent but suffer due to selfish 5%” (source ) she then appealed to the center to take care of the 95% who love peace and harmony.
It is good that the PDP’s partner BJP is letting Mehbooba do the talking.
There lies the rub. What troubles NC, Congress, and Communists is the loss of power. This is their problem all over India. In J & K, they get active support from Pakistan.
They can’t countenance a democratically elected government cooperating with center for development and for eliminating terrorists like Burhan Wani. Their masters won’t allow it.
What does one make of PM Modi receiving a memorandum from Abdullah and others? He said, ” All political parties should come together to find a solution” (source ) He has also said that ‘doors are open for dialogue…and for solution within the framework of the Constitution”
Now any solution must be via the State Government of J & K as per the constitution. The PM seems to be telling “let’s talk (you talk) but I am going to go by the Constitution. So should you. Let a democratically elected State Government do its job. Go back to your barracks”
In the meanwhile, note that the CPRF has submitted to J&K HC that alterative to pellet guns will be worse (real guns) ”
“Pellet guns were introduced in 2010 as an accepted weapon of riot control,” it said, “In case this [pellet shotgun] is withdrawn, the CRPF would have no recourse in extreme situations but to open fire with rifles, which may cause more fatalities.” (source)
The Center and the State Governments have a lot to do -arrest the spiral of violence, let law rule and to strengthen security operations substantially for prevention, detection, and elimination of trouble makers. As the PM himself told the J & K delegation, “development alone can’t solve all problems” (Read https://www.myind.net/burhan-wani-and-chinks-indias-armor-police-judiciary-and-media )
The Center and the State Governments also need to send a convincing message that no power can cause any further partition of India and that the might of Indian people and State will come down heavily on those who support such antinational activities or indulge in them.
For now, let Abdullah and his co-delegates be happy that the PM gave them 75 minutes, received their memorandum, and that he did not mention stone pelting unlike what FM Arun Jaitley did.
The only ‘political solution’ to Kashmir issue is to let the respective governments, which have been formed through political processes of elections, do their jobs.
This article written by me was first published here https://www.myind.net/elections-bjps-tough-road-ahead
” What happened to Hindus in Kashmir in 1990s is happening again in UP’s Kairana. An exodus of Hindus has been taking place over the past two years from the predominantly Muslim town of Kairana, situated just 124 kilometres from India’s national capital of New Delhi. At least 346 Hindu families have migrated from Kairana due to goondaism and extortion threats. As per the 2011 Census, Kairana had 30% Hindus while the percentage of Muslims was at 68%. However, the figure now stands at only 8% Hindus and 92% Muslims, as per the local administration.” Source
Expectedly, Indian media didn’t give prominence to this news. Expectedly, none of the non-BJP parties have made this as an issue. BJP too is all quiet on this. One doesn’t know whether to this expect this or not from a party which is trying broaden its base.
The upcoming elections in UP have the makings of an absorbing contest. A three-way war among SP, BSP, and BJP is looming. Congress and MIM are looking to capture a share of the spoils. The non-BJP parties know that win here will provide them strategic advantage in the bigger war of Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Congress will aim to salvage its mauled image and earn a chance to claw its way back.
For SP and BSP it is going to be very important to win UP to protect and grow their regional strongholds. For them winning the UP war is an end in itself. But for the BJP, it is going be a very bad election to lose.
A Bihar type Mahagathbandhan isn’t likely
For the above reasons, every major party will fight it out right to the end. ‘Outside’ parties like MIM, JDU and Communists might be an exception to this. In Bihar, both Nitish and Lalu felt threatened by BJP and realized that they needed each other so they decided to set aside their rivalry. Mulayam \ Akhilesh and Mayawati don’t seem to face an existential threat. They seem to be sure of their respective voter bases. The outside parties may enter into tactical understanding at constituency level to improve their yield. Eleven other parties have given an indication for forming their own grouping with the intention of contesting all 403 seats. (Read ) Such a grouping may also reach an understanding with Congress, or BSP, or SP. However, chances of a Bihar type ‘Mahagathbandahan’ of dominant parties are remote at this time.
In a tri-polar or a multi-polar contest, any party crossing 25% votes share can take disproportionately larger share of seats. The political parties would surely factor this in while crafting their strategies. But before we come to their strategies let us see what are the issues in this election.
What do the people of Uttar Pradesh want?
Do the UP voters care whether their election is of national importance or not? Should a voter be living in Charisara village in Basti district or to the one living in Kanpur bother about it? If not, what do they want? There are several possibilities:
1. If the national mood of hope and aspiration for a better life generated by Modi’s 2014 campaign, his government’s performance, and his sustained outreach to people has reached the nooks and corners of UP’s villages and town, the voters will be looking for development in their ‘line of sight’ or in their own neighborhoods. They will be looking for jobs and livelihoods. They will be looking for electricity, roads, irrigation, and hospitals. They will be looking for credibility of those who promise.
2. UP clearly has a serious law and order problem exacerbated by communal extremism. As incidents in Kairana show, shifts in religious demographic profiles are tinderboxes of violence. When people are fearful about their lives and property, development promises cannot work. They will be seeking relief from criminality and riots which have brought them unending troubles. If they are angry about bad law and order, they will make very determined voting choice if such a choice is available. But if they are not very optimistic of any party bringing them succour, they may get influenced by any of the factors given below.
3. The voters’ choices may get swayed by appeals to their of castes or religions.
4. If none of the above (aspiration and hope, anger, fear) are dominant the voters may go by purely local factors for tangible and immediate gains. Local leaders can sway their choices. The election will then be purely a transactional exercise for the voters.
We don’t know whether shifts in religious demography in favor of Muslims is worrying a large enough number of voters or not. It is also possible that such worries may remain underground if no major political party articulates it. This seems to be the case.
What are the strategies of various parties?
Various political parties must be assessing the above factors and formulating their strategies.
As an incumbent, the SP has a lot to answer about. Muzzafarnagar riots, Dadri crimes, and total failure of state to prevent takeover of Jawahar bagh in Mathura by a cult and in failure in preventing subsequent deaths are all fresh in minds of people. SP will also have to explain its development record. It seems to be taking its core Yadav and Muslim voters for granted. It needs to attract other voters to cross 25% mark from the previous 22.3% share in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Akhilesh is trying to brand himself on development plank with the help of some marquee projects like highway from Lucknow to Agra and onward to Delhi via Yamuna Expressway, 4 lane highways linking 44 district headquarters, and the Lucknow Metro.
Right now SP appears to be on a slippery ground. How Mulayam and Akhilesh handle the challenge confronting SP remains to be seen.
Bahujan Samaj Party
Like SP, the BSP has a stable voter base. Its core voter base is that of Dalits. In the past, Mayawati has managed to stitch together support of Muslims, other scheduled castes, and even Brahmins. BSP’s vote share has been plunging from its high of 30.4% in 2007 to 19.8% in 2014(Loksabha). Mayawati will have to widen BSP’s appeal outside its core voter base amid stiff competition from other parties. Recently she has criticized both SP and BJP for Mathura violence. She has worked with Congress during Rajyasabha elections.
The above gives some indications that Mayawati will make of ‘law and order’ a poll issue. Known to be feisty fighter, Matyavati must be working very hard on the ground for some time now. She probably knows ground realities better than others. Though BSP comes from a low of 2014, it seems to be on an ascendant. Eleven other parties’ coalition may transfer some votes to BSP. If Congress realizes that BJP is gaining ground it may transfer its votes to BSP to stop BJP. This may be a last minute tactical shift but it can’t be ruled out.
Congress is fighting a battle for survival. It may not get significant vote share. But it is interesting to check out its strategies crafted by Rahul Gandhi with the help of Prashant Kishor because it tells us what they think of situation on the ground. Indications are that Rahul’s efforts to woo Dalits haven’t been successful and that it is considering pitching for upper castes, particularly the Brahmins who at 13% form a sizeable group.
BJP is riding on its spectacular show in Loksabha elections in 2014 and PM Modi’s massive outreach which continues. BJP then won 71 out of 80 seats. It captured a vote share of 42% share up from its meager 15% in 2012 Assembly elections. In months to come, Modi’s Jana dhan Yojana, targeted subsidies, rural electrification drive, India’s growing global clout and of course his rousing rallies should give a vast ‘air-cover’ to BJP’s ground forces. Some may say that in assembly elections local issue matter more. This is a valid point but it is difficult say that urban and rural voters aren’t clued into what happening in the world. They are good talking points for BJP to project its strengths.
BJP president Amit Shah is mobilizing and directing of its ‘ground forces’. Shah is tapping party workers at booth level and is drawing up plans for reaching out to specific caste groups and their leaders. He has addressed tens of thousands booth level workers for preparing for the battles in their booth areas and constituencies. (Read ) Out of 1.38 lakh polling booths in UP, BJP has so far formed booth committees —with at least 10 members including one president, three vice-presidents and two secretaries — at around 1.07 lakh booths. A booth management committee in Lucknow HQ makes thousands of calls every day to monitor work. Grassroots level work by the RSS and its cadres provide a solid foundation for election management.
Knowing that BJP is out of power in UP for last 15 years and that it has affected party’s working, Shah has introduced electronic monitoring and communication system for connecting its booth level workers with party leaders.
BJP ‘s message of development is likely to be delivered by reaching out to all castes.
BJP is making special efforts to woo Dalit votes by giving huge recognition to their icons like Ambedkar. It is sending a message through Buddhist monks that Mayawati’s BSP has gone away from Dalit cause of Ambedkar and Kanshiram. A Dhamma Chetana Yatra of 75 monks is winding its way through parts of state carrying this message. Local BJP leaders are supporting this Yatra.
BJP may also attempt consolidation of Hindu votes through various issues mentioned above. Local situations will dictate its choices. But it seems that it won’t make state-wide issue out of them.
BJP seems to be waking up to UP’s precarious law and order situation, terming it as ‘goonda raj’.
Whether it can deftly weave together themes off development and uprooting the goonda raj is yet not known.
Chief Ministerial Candidates
While SP and BSP’s choices are obvious, both BJP and Congress are in dilemma about CM Candidate -to project one or not? If yes, whom to project?
It is obvious that their own realities rather than poll strategies will force their choices. The big question for BJP would be -‘who can inspire confidence about party’s development promise through dynamism and personal track record, while giving comfort to all sections of the society?” BJP must be finding it difficult to come up with a good answer.
Congress must be hoping that a good ‘face’ like that Rahul or Priyanka might be magical answer to its woes.
The battle lines
BJP has declared SP as its principal opponent. At the same time, it is working on ground to pull the rug from under Mayawati by going all out for Dalit votes. SP is targeting BJP over communalism hoping to attract Muslim vote and support of other parties. SP will at least expect to blunt their attack. It is thus hoping to soften the anti-incumbency forces. Mayawati is taking on both SP, BJP. She might reach some tactical understanding with Congress. It will be interesting to watch how the MIM factor plays out. BJP must be hoping that with all other parties trying to attract Muslims, they won’t vote against it en block.
It seems that all parties are relying on caste equations and local negotiations, albeit with some message like development. Their assessment seems to be that the voters won’t take them at face value for their promises.
Assam had huge anti-incumbency factor of 15 years of Congress rule which delivered little positive and contributed in making illegal immigration from Bangladesh into an existential threat for almost all sections of the society. Sonowal’s strong leadership channelized voters’ anger and fear and converted them into hope.
BJP seems to think that UP has no such state wide existential threat.
Voters in UP have aspirations, but they need to be converted in hope. They have anger (about poverty, lack of jobs and livelihoods) and fear (of poor law and order) but the society is hopelessly divided on caste and religious lines due to decades of so called ‘social engineering’ by parties like SP and BSP. Congress tried to exploit it cynically while BJP was content in merely looking on.
UP is more similar to Bihar in this, except that alliance SP and BSP seems to be unlikely. But here BJP is up against formidable fault lines in the society and absence of any powerful emotions like hope or anger which can move people to vote.
UP, like Bihar, isn’t Assam. But is BJP determined to keep it that way?
Straws in the wind
BJP must be banking on the momentum of its superlative performance in 2014 Loksabha elections and Modi’s magic. Yet, it may find it difficult to come close to that kind of performance for the reasons mentioned above. But will BJP succeed in crossing 25% vote share and even go up to 30% to ensure a good majority on its own? Panchayat elections held in 2015 might give us some clues.
BSP supported candidates won 28 of 52 seats in Aligarh district, 21 of 51 in Agra, and 26 of 86 in Azamgarh. BSP supported candidates defeated relatives of SP ministers in several places. Its candidate won even in Tamausi village which was adopted by Mulayam. More significantly, BSP supported candidates won seats in villages adopted by PM Modi. BJP could win only 8 out of 48 seats in PM Modi’s Varanasi constituency while BSP did well there. (Read andthis )
These straws in the wind suggest that BJP shouldn’t be complacent. It isn’t.
BJP may score a win
BJP is getting into this war with a strong organization and Shah’s formidable election management for negotiating local caste alliances. It is relying on Modi’s development and corruption-free track record and charisma. But BJP has to overly depend on caste arithmetic. SP and BSP are good at it, but it isn’t BJP’s strength. That is the reason why SP and BSP could win in UP but BJP was forced out of power for 15 years.
BJP seems to be waking up to the ‘goonda raj’ in UP. But by ignoring shifts in religious demography that further worsens law and order, BJP may be trying to be right in others’ eyes. This is always problematic. BJP seems to be trying too hard at it. Worse, it is not addressing shifts in India’s religious demography which is growing into a national issue. (Read more about BJP: http://indiafacts.org/is-bjp-failing-pm-modi/ )
The worrying fact is that BJP is playing the game set up by its opposition. BJP is without an overarching emotive promise which can galvanize this fractured society to come out its nooks and crannies, to come together and vote for it. It is yet without a state level leader who can carry this campaign. BJP is playing to its weaknesses.
BJP may yet win UP election or scrape through it given the multi-polar contest. It has a very tough road ahead.
This article written by me was first published here https://www.myind.net/have-we-lost-punjab-we-know-drugs
Punjab’s drug issue is real. It is reported that four out of ten men are exposed to drug abuse and attendant crimes like drug peddling. About 50% of those are young farmers. Some are addicted to poppy husk and some others are addicted to synthetic drugs churned out by Pharma companies in Himachal Pradesh. Another study reports that there could be one drug addict each in 65% of families in the state.
Drug trafficking poses security risks. For example, here is a news item: “CHANDIGARH: At a time when the nexus between terrorists and drug smugglers in Pakistan has come under a harsh spotlight after the Pathankot airbase attack, a new study by AIIMS has found that opioids worth Rs 7,500 crore are consumed in Punjab every year. Of these, heroin’s share is a massive Rs 6,500 crore.” source
Is Punjab, we know of, vanishing?
An individual addicted to drugs suffers before succumbing to untimely death unless helped by systematic and specialist de-addiction and rehabilitation support. The society and the government care little for such people making it difficult for them to access such help. Dependence on drugs forces addicts deeper into peddling. The family of the addict and in time the society get pulled into this vortex.
A society hollowed out by drugs is a breeding ground for violence and exploitation. It is also an invitation for our enemies to come in to take positions for future assaults.
The Punjab we know of is a land of abundance and valor. The Punjab we know of has provided a security shield to entire Bharat through centuries of invasions by Huns and Mughals. Our Punjab is a land of Guru Nanak and Guru Govind Sigh. It is a land of saints and warriors. It is a land of people who think big in whatever they do – be it work or leisure, love or patriotism, celebration or sacrifice.
As someone who is pained by the state of his state says,
” The ‘good fathers’ are busy minting money to keep up with the ‘showing off’, the ‘bad fathers’ are busy drinking alcohol to keep up the masculinity and the mothers are busy with their mid-age ailments or in their kitties, suits & shopping and meanwhile the child enjoys forbidden company“
” Alcohol Taverns can be found in every nook and corner of every city & village. The no. of ‘Thekas’ are more than the no. of government schools in the state. The government doesn’t feel an iota of shame on this issue considering the alarming use of drugs in Punjab let alone the thought of closing them. The cash strapped government is poisoning its people to run the state through the revenue from alcohol business” Source
It is tragic paradox that a land ruled by Akalis -who are very proud of the Panthic teaching -should fall prey to the drug menace.
Drivers of Drug Abuse
The most immediate reason for the growing drug abuse is economic. Punjab’s agriculture sector faces the hurdles which the sector faces all over India -too much government interference in pricing, distribution, and export controls making it dependent on Government sops. These can never be enough. It meant that agriculture couldn’t support its population. Unlike neighboring Haryana, Punjab didn’t industrialize enough. The joblessness of high aspiring Punjabi youth combined with lack of attention and not having good role models by their parents is surely the most immediate driver for pushing them into drugs. Drugs offer an instant mental high and earnings through peddling – a heady, addictive, and dangerous cocktail.
Easy availability of drugs in Punjab is another driver. A variety of drugs are available and consumed. There are synthetic drugs like heroin/smack/brown sugar, amphetamines/ice. Natural drugs like raw opium-based such as ‘bhukki’ (poppy husk), ‘doda’ (powdered poppy husk) and ‘afeem’ (a black tar-like opium are derivative) are available. A wide variety of prescription drugs such as alprazolam, diazepam (commonly known as xanax and valium, respectively), pethidine, buprenorphine, fortwin etc. too are easily available supplied by Pharmaceutical factories in neighboring Himachal. According to NCB data, in 2013, 41% (of 964 kg) of all opium seizures in India took place in Punjab, a sign of the drug’s popularity in the state.
A large number of drugs are subsequently sold to users by an extensive network of dealers. Besides dealers, one of the biggest sources of drugs in Punjab is local chemists, who sell over-the-counter prescription drugs.
A weak enforcement of drug and narcotics laws by Punjab police means the above drug supply chains operate unhindered.
Why weak enforcement?
Punjab’s unique geographical location confers on it the unsavory status of being a ‘drug gateway’ to India and the world. Heroin produced in Afghanistan passes through Pakistan and is smuggled into Punjab through its 553 Km porous border. From Punjab the heroin is sent in other parts of India. It is also sold in International market. A kilo of Heroin fetches Rs 1 Lakh in Afghanistan, Rs 30 Lakhs in Pakistan and Punjab, Rs 1 Crore when it lands in other parts of India and Rs 5 Crore in international markets.
This extremely lucrative drug business finances terror and criminal activities worldwide. There are powerful international and local syndicates behind it. Politician-drug lords nexus is an inevitable outcome of this. In Punjab, political power is used to beat the competition in drug trade. Once the Politician-Drug mafia infiltrates the administration, it is very difficult take effective counter measures to destroy the drug chains.
The state government, facing criticism, has been taking some actions.
“ Set up in October 2015, the SSIT (special-cum-supervisory investigating team) was given until December 31 to enquire into 8 FIRs registered in 2013 against a set of more than 25 people who included a Punjab Police DSP and the alleged kingpin of the racket Jagdish Singh alias Bhola of Bathinda; a notable Amritsar leader of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal Maninder Singh alias Bittu Aulakh; an Amritsar-based industrialist Paramjeet Singh Chahal, a clutch of NRIs and others.
Fifteen people are behind bars and cases are going on against them and others released on bail in district courts at Patiala, Mohali and Fatehgarh Sahib.
These were the Punjab police’s most high-profile arrests in the State’s crackdown on drugs which otherwise netted thousands of small-time addicts and peddlers as The Indian Express investigation of over 6500 FIRs in one year has shown.” Source
To be sure, many conditions mentioned above are present in other border states like Gujarat. But Gujarat doesn’t have the issue of drug abuse like Punjab has. For long, Dawood Ibrahim syndicate used Gujarat coast for supplying drugs to half the world. A good coordination between Police and Intelligence arms has ensured that the drug trade is heavily curtailed. Source
Clearly, the Akali-BJP government must do much better in rooting out the drug issue.
Drug syndicates exploit conditions on ground to build their trade and networks. In Punjab, they found such conditions.
As Punjab enjoyed fruits of green revolution of 1970’s it became the most prosperous state in India. The prosperity, increased per capita incomes, and better standards of living meant that the hard working Punjabis were reveling in good times amply reflected and continue to reflect in Hindi movies.
The Punjabi Pride, legitimate as it was, soon swelled into ego fed by Pakistan’s terror strategists. While we Indians remain busy with ourselves, enemies keep a hawk’s eye on our emerging fault lines. In Bhindranwale, they found a man who believed in an independent Khalistan and was willing to do anything for it. Invoking Sikhism, he found support of some people who believed that they will be better off in independent Khalistan than they were in India. He was amply supported from Pakistan and other Khalistani elements who operated from western countries. Bhindranwale also came handy for Indira Gandhi, the then PM, to break Akali’s hold in Punjab who had come in power in 1977’s Assembly elections in alliance with the Janata Party. Her unrestrained ambition and desire for absolute power led to horrific consequences for herself and untold miseries in Punjab. (Read )
Though Khalistani terrorists initially didn’t encourage the drug trade, easy money and ISI pressure made them change their methods for obtaining arms and ammunition. They had now abandoned their Panth.
Punjab’s economy nosedived. From a land of abundance, it became a one riven by violence and unemployment. The pride remained but its rationale had all gone. Punjabi youth were now ready for drugs. Druglords exploited this. Politicians, businessmen, and bureaucrats completed the drug apparatus.
The Khalistani terror was rooted out through a sustained police action headed by K P S Gill, but the problem of drugs is yet to be solved.
Lessons from Punjab
It is possible for a determined state government to bust drug syndicates and destroy mafia operations. Gujarat has shown that this can be done. Can Akali-BJP coalition inspire confidence in Punjab’s voters that they can do this? This will be an important election issue. If they can’t, Punjab will face a very difficult future because we know that Congress can’t, nor can AAP. Congress is too compromised right from top to bottom to be relied on for a massive cleanup, and AAP is not only inexperienced, but it also seems to have priorities other than governance, as seen in Delhi. It will also mean virtually handing over Punjab to druglords and their masters across the border. Punjab, like Jammu & Kashmir, will be a permanent security challenge -something that PM Modi’s Government will surely like to avoid.
Punjab tells us how important it is to overhaul intelligence, surveillance, policing, investigation, and enforcement arms of every state government.
It is necessary to secure our western border to stop smuggling of drugs as being planned by the central government.
A prosperous Punjab which falls into terror and a quagmire of drugs shows us that terror does not happen because of poverty or a sense of doing relatively poorly. It isn’t caused by lack of education as we see that many terrorists come from well educated backgrounds and from well paying jobs. It is a myth that any perceived historical wrong or poverty causes terror. Terror is caused by ideas of superiority, exclusivity, and arrogance that find legitimacy in religious doctrines.
Punjab’s drug issue highlights the role of responsible parents.
Punjab is a warning for rest of us that economic prosperity is not all. It must be attained, but without Bharatiya civilization’s cultural moorings which hold us together, prosperity won’t last. India has a resilient civilization. We should build on it.