Narendra Modi

We can’t leave India to our politicians or professors

The smugness on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s face as if Messiah of peace between India and Pakistan, as he made way for Kartarpur across Wagah border, really got my goat up. Surely he knows Imran Khan is just a dummy; that terrorism both for Khalistan and Kashmir (or for Kabul) is our neighbour’s export, that for Vajpayee’s bus initiative we got Kargil. All this is not for India. This is to nurture his own constituency with an eye to be Punjab’s next chief minister. It would all suit Pakistan and Khalistan donors but not India.

But then why blame Sidhu? I read today Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that Mamata, Akhilesh, Mayawati and Left are ok but not Congress. Mamata, for whom Durga Puja is not a priority and who equates BJP with Taliban; Akhilesh who sees BJP as the biggest danger to democracy; Mayawati who terms Modi as anti-poor; Left’s Sitaram Yechury who calls Modi as the looter of India, are all okay now. All this might win Modi elections. But what about India? What about millions of Hindus who see a threat in these forces and view Modi as their saviour?

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are making overt gestures to be seen as essentially Hindus. They support the agitation against Supreme Court verdict on Sabrimala; have desisted in backing Sidhu on Kartarpur; Sonia sports a tilak (how ludicrous can it really get) in election rallies; and Rahul Gandhi shows his janau to everyone when none of his previous four generations ever wore it.  All this is for political dividends and certainly not India.

Shiv Sena are now agitated on Ram Mandir. Uddhav Thackeray and his army reached all the way to Ayodhya. Till recently, millions of workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, most of whom are Hindus, were anathema to them. Now they can go thousands of miles to support a long-cherished dream of Hindus. The idea is to cut the plank which could help BJP in 2019 elections. Did you really think it was for Hindus or India?

Once in a while we are suffused with hope. Arvind Kejriwal was once such in 2014. He evoked Gandhi; wore muffler and slippers and took on the high and mighty of this land. Now he cartwheels around Mamata and Mayawati. He has made sure if another Kejriwal emerges he would have no chance of gaining people’s affection.  

But then who thinks for India? The ones who bring their garbage in the name of newspapers to our verandahs; the police or judiciary who give a damn to our urgency; the bureaucracy who are nothing better than glorified clerks afraid to put signature to anything meaningful; the NGOs most of whom are forward soldiers of foreign funders or the academia who trade pen for cheques?

Do you think you and I care about India? We would crib about thousands of issues in our air-conditioned rooms but never take that one step towards an agency. What did you last do about the filth in your neighourhood? Or the menace of wild dogs who could mount a concerted attack if you step out in pitched darkness? What do we personally do to reduce pollution or energy-usage? The horror that our schools are for our children? Taught by teachers who equate education with their salary slips? When did we last visit a village where 80 per cent of India still lives?

Politicians, media, judiciary, policy, bureaucracy, civil society and we as individuals are all too many words and too little action. It can’t work; it won’t work. India is stretching itself thin. Almost 18 per cent of world’s humanity is sitting on a volcano of lies and manipulation. The righteous impotence of me right vs.you wrong; your religion vs. my religion; those charlatans who take past quotes out of context and plaster the edit pages; the newspapers who pass on socialites and film actresses as our new Plato and Socrates. Writers have a role if they are impartial and neutral and appeal to reason or logic. Not when it is sold to someone else’s good. As readers we must take the pen out of their hands and give them shovels to dig their own graves.

Indians now need to be real stakeholders if India is to survive. We need to look at issues both personal and impersonal though the line is often blurred.  Personal would involve making our politicians, judiciary, police, media, bureaucracy accountable. Impersonal would mean larger issues such as those of farmers, joblessness etc.. We need citizens’ charters who audit our institutions like accounting firms do to their clients. We need to force our way into decisions our politicians take or the decisions our judiciary delays—for all other reasons except to the benefit of a common man.  We need to show them our anger is no longer limited to our drawing rooms. Trust me, we the faceless would have the attention of thousands of eyes and cameras if we stop them at their gates and demand an answer. Our inertia is our weakness and the only strength they have.

India can go wrong any moment. It could be an ecological disaster or a hostile nuclear-armed neighbourhood. It could be the lava of a largely young nation which frustrated at lack of jobs or coma of our judiciary could bury us all under a thick carpet of violence and breakdown. We surely can’t leave it to our politicians and professors.

Rahul Gandhi now leaves Indian Muslims in lurch

If I was an Indian Muslim, I would have a whole lot of questions today and certainly no answers.

So far, I believed in the pictures of Rahul Gandhi, skull cap and all, in Iftar party breaking his fast, so to speak, at sunset during a day in the Ramadan month. His remarks that Congress is a party of Muslims. Now, I read he said Tuesday in Indore that his party is one of Hinduism.

It raised a whole lot of issues to my mind. Does Congress stand for Muslims, Dalits, Hindus or everyone. So far I have been told the only protectors Muslims have are Congress. They engineered a special protection for my Jammu and Kashmir brethrens and sisters in Indian Constitution. They stood up for Sharia during the Shah Bano case; are most determined for Rohingya refugees; paralyzed the country on Kathua tragedy; stalled the Triple Talaq bill, spotlight every single–half or full–lynching incident in the remotest hamlets of the country. Now they say they are one of Hinduism.

All this while, they dubbed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as sectarian and communal even though Narendra Modi never once said he stood only for Hindus. Isn’t Rahul Gandhi now being communal by opening claiming his party is one of Hinduism? Isn’t it polarizing the communities? Widening the gulf of fear and insecurity between practitioners of two religions? Is this the vision of One India or daring of a burglar who wishes to rob the home of 1.3 billions of all its valuables?

Then I look at my newspapers. My day begins with Indian Express, the “journalism of courage.” For the last four years and half, they have reported every single incident against my Muslim community, and Dalits, with sincerity and not a little bit of imagination and creativity. They have marked anniversaries of Dadri, Pehlu or a Junaid by sacrificing the space for news of their front pages. They made sure my Muslim community didn’t forget for a single day the crimes which have been committed against them during the Modi regime (Nor did they Una or Bhima-Koregaon on behalf of Dalits). Indian Express seemed seriously concerned about the future of Indian Muslims.

And look at them, now that Rahul Gandhi has jumped the ship, to my eyes at least, Indian Express choose to completely blank out his Indore comment in today’s edition (31.10.2018). Why didn’t they report Rahul Gandhi for his communal and polarizing comment? Why did they desert me and million of Indian Muslims like me who dread a majoritarian narrative in this country? Could Indian Express be said to be standing up to the idea of secular, free and equal India? Just imagine if Modi had said BJP stands only for Hinduism? (They haven’t allowed him to live down the Kabristan-Shamsaan speech to this day).

If I could ask Indian Express why for a similar offence, BJP is communal and Congress is not. Why give ammunition to right-wingers who claim there is never a pro-Hindu story on your front pages? Why make even your die-hard fans like me and other Indian Muslims doubt your sincerity when you sweep Rahul Gandhi’s all-for-Hinduism comment under the carpet?

I’ve tried to give my faith in Indian Express a second chance. What if your reporter truly miss the Indore event? Extremely unlikely for Rahul didn’t offer his comment in private. It was a press conference. Even if your reporter missed the event, news agencies such as PTI must have brought the news on your teleprinters. On close inspection, I even find this Indore press conference of offensive-comment buried inside your newspaper (Page 8).

Then why did you throw a cloak on this Rahul remark from our views? Why have double standards on BJP and Congress? If you care about us Indian Muslims or the idea of India that you numb our minds daily with, why avoid the searchlight on Mr Rahul Gandhi? Is that an editorial policy or a direction you receive from “Above”? And who’s this “Above”? Does this “Above” have the welfare of us Indian Muslims or India as a whole in mind?

These are all very disturbing questions to my mind. I hope Indian Express takes my fears in the form of questions to Rahul Gandhi. Ask its editorial writers from JNU and Ashoka University; Kancha Ilaiahs or Apoorvanands, to prove they truly speak for us minorities. That their propagation of free and secular India is not fake. Scratch the surface of Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor who are never out of your reach, or representation, in your newspaper on a daily basis.  You could even evoke write-ups from retired professionals such as Justice Fali S. Nariman or Chelameswar, ex-cop Julio Ribeiro, ex-election commissioner S.Y. Quraishi etc who don’t even need an invitation to fill your editorial pages.

After all, you are “journalism of courage.” You profess to stand up for us minorities. You claim to care for a free and secular India. The proof of burden that  you don’t write on behalf of Muslims and Dalits only when it suits you.

Does Manmohan care about India or Congress?

Does Manmohan Singh care about India or Congress?

If he cared about India, he would’ve earned the gratitude of a billion-plus Indians by stepping down as Prime Minister as his party spawned a million scams.

He would’ve done more than offer a mere apology for the 1984 Sikh genocide and certainly made sure he didn’t share the same stage with Sajjan Kumar, a prime accused as 3000 Sikhs were lynched in the Capital.

He would’ve addressed his countrymen at important junctures of his 10-year rule and not been a mere statue who didn’t react even as Rahul Gandhi tore up his government’s ordinance and humiliated him in public.

Such a background of his is not in consonance with his daily tirade against communal violence and mob lynching that he accuses have become widespread under the regime of Narendra Modi.

If he cared about India, he would’ve confessed to the citizens that the worst 18 communal riots in independent India’s history came while his party was in power. Six of the worst communal riots occurred while Dr. Singh was the Prime Minister. In 2012, there were 640 incidents of communal violence. A year later, the number was 473 in 2013.

As for lynchings which has Dr. Singh most upset about, he showed no such remorse when 25 lives were lost to mob-lynchings in 2012 itself.

This doesn’t seem a man in love with India. This is the picture of a dishonest man who yearns for a secular, plural and equal India but wouldn’t utter a word about Kashmiri Pundits who have been driven out of their own land. His plurality beats a hasty retreat when Hindus face communally marginalization in states such as Bengal and Kerala. He bemoans Kathua and Unnao but has no time for unfortunate rapes in Uri or in a madarsa. He would rather have a secret dinner with a top Pakistani politician than make a point to them about martyred soldiers and their unfortunate widows, victims of terrorists from our neighbours.

Those who profess by Dr. Singh for his honesty and integrity must be told the difference between the two traits. You are honest if you told your wife you cheated. But you lack integrity when you cheat on your wife, nevertheless. Honesty is convenient; integrity is the stuff a man is made of.

Now 86, Dr. Singh needs a mirror that reflects his true self to him. He has lived in shadows and deceptions for too long. He owes his allegiance to Congress, and not to India. His countrymen know better of him than a compromised mainstream media and academia of the land.

 

Hope Express has not let Vishal Bhardwaj down

Indian Express is letting itself down so badly on the ethics of journalism that it’s a cause for concern for its loyal readers, more so since the Press Council of India (PCI) and Editors’ Guild appears an acquiescing party due to its silence.

Indian Express has a bottom-spread on its Monday’s Delhi edition where excerpts of film-maker Vishal Bhardwaj’s comments at Express Adda are quoted. The headline states: “TV News comedy circus…maybe Cinema must tell truth” (attributed to Bhardwaj).

However, Bharadwaj’s quote in the text-copy of the story states: “…present-day journalism…feels like a comedy show, it’s like a comedy circus.” Nowhere, Bhardwaj mentions TV news. He mentions present-day journalism. The readers have no way of knowing if Bhardwaj didn’t have Indian Express itself in mind, for all you know.

I suggest readers to read the full story.  Real quotes are added and subtracted to expand or reduce the newspaper’s own agenda/interpretation. For example, see this para below:

That was one of Bollywood’s most political filmmakers, Vishal Bhardwaj, opening up at the Express Adda Friday on why the industry hesitates to speak up when political controversies impact mainstream films such as Ae Dil E Mushkil, which faced calls for bans due to the casting of a Pakistani actor, and Padmavat, which withstood protests for its portrayal of Rajput queen Padmavati.

I have no way of knowing if Bhardwaj did take the name of films such as Ae Dil E Mushkil or Padmavat to make his point (for the full interview would only appear later this week) or whether the newspaper is adding this name to buttress its point/agenda. The above para of the newspaper insinuates he did though I seriously doubt so.

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Same is the case in another front page story Indian Express has on Monday, headlined: Godhra line in book: FIR against four for “misleading students on beloved PM.” This is on an academic book in circulation in Assam.

Just looking at this headline, it would appear the state is trying to muzzle the freedom of speech, neutrality of academic-text books, all because PM Narendra Modi has been portrayed in poor light.

Indian Express, in its report, doesn’t touch the concerned “line in book” till they are in the second-half of the story. The first half is all about a “well-known…90-year-old renowned publisher” and a description of three authors who have been “heads of political science department” of established colleges in Assam. (Shades of a certain retired son of a headmaster in the Valley by the name of Burhan Wani).

So here comes the relevant para on Godhra in the book which offended a couple of citizens enough to file an FIR against the authors and publishers:

“In this incident (burning of coach) 57 persons died including women and children. On the suspicion that Muslims were behind the incident, next day Muslims were mercilessly attacked in different parts of Gujarat. This violence continued for over a month and over a thousand people were killed. Most of those killed were Muslims. Significantly at the time of the violence, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was a silent spectator. Morever, there were allegations that the state administration helped the Hindus.”

Now let’s look at the FIR which states: “It’s well-known to you that Special Investigation Team (Sit) under the supervision of Supreme Court gave clean-sheet on PM Narendra Modi (sic) dated September 12, 2011, on the issue.”

Aren’t the complainants appear rightful on all counts to go ahead and file the FIR? By terming Modi government as silent spectator, aren’t authors suggesting complicity even as the Supreme Court gave a verdict to the contrary, giving clean chit to Modi, no less than seven years back? Doesn’t such mis-representation would only potentially lead to Hindu-Muslims tensions, may be communal clash and certainly a polarization between the two largest religious groups in the country? And what about the innocent children who are thus poisoned by half-truths? In a state, as sensitive to Hindu-Muslim polarization as Assam is?

Not a day passes by when I don’t read such reports in Indian Express which makes me squirm in my chair. As a practicing journalist, I see one guiding hand behind the reporters, sub-editors, headline-givers and positioning of stories on front-pages making them work in sync in antipathy to BJP/RSS. Whosoever this hand is: An activist editor, his employer and his leanings, or the forces keeping the newspaper in an ideological bind or otherwise, the fact is, it is anything but journalism. And that’s a betrayal most heinous to its readers by any newspaper in circulation.

 

Rahul-Kejriwal saga: What Lutyens Media didn’t tell you

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

I bet most of you wouldn’t know it. For most of you read Indian Express, Times of India and Hindustan Times. And none of them carried the news that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chose to abstain from voting on Rajya Sabha deputy chair on Thursday because Rahul Gandhi didn’t made a CALL to Arvind Kejriwal.

Indian Express, as usual, was the master of obfuscation. Buried deep down in their long story was one line:“AAP did a volte-face Thursday declaring it would support the Congress if Rahul Gandhi requested Arvind Kejriwal.” Indian Express never tells it readers that Rahul Gandhi never called!!! Instead, the newspaper terms it as “volte-face” on the part of AAP. Bravo.

First, the facts. AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, to all and sundry, spoke words which must have been acid to the ears of our Lutyens Media. Why did Sanjay Singh say? He said to the media an evening before on Wednesday that if Congress needed AAP’s support, its’ president Rahul Gandhi himself should make a call to Kejriwal.

But Rahul didn’t. And Sanjay wasn’t holding back his venom a day later on Thursday: “Congress is the biggest hurdle to Opposition unity. How will he (Rahul Gandhi) ensure the victory of his candidate if he cannot ask for votes?” It hurt AAP all the more that JDU chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar didn’t think it below his dignity to personally call up Kejriwal and seek support for NDA candidate,Harivansh Narayan Singh. “If Nitish could ask for support for his candidate, why not Rahul,” Singh said “When he (Rahul) can hug PM Modi, why can’t he ask Arvind Kejriwal to support his party’s candidate?” None of these damaging words, I can assure, you would find in these mentioned three English dailies.

Explosive, isn’t it? The news betrays a horde of staggering facts: (a) Opposition unity is going nowhere and Congress could be its biggest stumbling block; (b) Rahul Gandhi is arrogant; (c) BJP could’ve a cake-walk, come 2019 General Elections. And we are not even talking of the cascading effect it could’ve had on the forthcoming elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh in the remaining four months of 2018.

And yet it isn’t important to Lutyens Media? It writes reams and reams of columns on how BSP-SP combine would turn the tables on BJP; splashes pictures of opposition leaders holding aloft hands in Karnataka; berates HD Kumaraswamy on art of managing ally such as Congress; tears its lungs out on how Nitish and Modi are drifting apart; yet it finds Congress-AAP fall out no big deal. Strange, isn’t it. I mean Modi’s arrogance to allies is causing splits such as with TDP;  but Rahul Gandhi’s nonchalance to Arvind Kejriwal is no arrogance and still good news for “mahagathbandhan”. See how dumb these newspapers think we are?

To be sure, these hacks of Lutyens Media know how to cover their tracks. So you search hard on internet, and you would find link to these stories, howsoever vague they are in description. Times of India, Hindustan Times and Indian Express do have taken note on internet. But it’s only a technical and legal defense; they have blanked it on their newsprint where their real audience is. I would be happy and ready to apologize if readers or these newspapers itself could point to any such coverage of Sanjay Singh’s reactions in their Delhi/Noida editions. I, for myself, found no such news in their newspapers.

There is a still bigger question which must trouble the sensibility of all readers. It couldn’t be the news never reached the teleprinter rooms of these newspapers. I mean the news was covered by Press Trust of India (PTI). Logically, any news desk would dread missing out on such an important story. I mean ask any journalist, he is taken to cleaners by his editor or served a show-cause notice for such a miss. But here not one, all three newspapers collectively spiked the story. It could be a coincidence; or someone takes decisions on behalf of these newspapers—your guess is as good as mine.

The pretence of “mahagathbandhan” must persist. The act of fooling paying-readers must go on. Meanwhile, you can count on Press Council of India (PCI) and Editors’ Guild to look the other way. And these guys want to “Save the Democracy” in India even while striking with hammers and axes at its fourth pillar, called Media.

Why nobody is allowed to criticize Sonia Gandhi

Take a deep breath and reflect who you are not allowed to criticize in India. I could think of no other than Sonia Gandhi, former Congress and UPA chairperson. Run the entire gamut, pore over the worksheet of honchos of Indian media, Shekhar Gupta, Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose etc; google as you might; dive into the archives of Lutyens Media like Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, The Hindu; Sonia Gandhi, much like Caesar’s wife, has been above reproach.

That’s astounding. I mean nobody has been the president of 134-year-old Congress longer than her (19 years); she got her party two consecutive Lok Sabha victories; a whole lot of scams were unearthed; yet not a word against her. I mean yes, BJP and her bete noire Dr. Subramaniam Swamy keep pelting her windows but that’s par for course for any opposition. But what accounts for no “black sheep” within Congress bleating ever? No media house opening its edit pages for trenchant views; no historian/academician offering critiques? No scholarly paper in JNU? No diagnosis on a person out on bail?

I do recall two embarrassing Sonia interviews, that is for any self-respecting journalist, by Rajdeep Sardesai (he kept saying “fought like a tigress,” both in 2005 and 2016), as it was for Aroon Purie on another occasion, coy and adolescent.  Yes Shekhar Gupta (“she keeps a formidable dynasty on her slender shoulders,”), Barkha Dutt (“she has made a public commitment to Women’s Reservation Bill”) have also interviewed her;  Vir Sanghvi has been profound in “Nobody-in-Nehru-Gandhi-Family-Has-Given-Kind-of-Authority-she-has-to Manmohan-Singh,” echoed by a gushing Sagarika Ghose ( “She never undermined Manmohan Singh, always backed him up”). Both Sanghvi and Ghose don’t touch upon how another Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao, was humiliated, even in death. And these clowns happily go toting about “bhakts” to everyone else. Phew.

Two books on Sonia immediately come to my mind. One is a pathetic account by a sychophant;  another is “Red Sari” which was unofficially banned in India for six years due to machinations by Abhishek Sanghvi, as alleged by its author.

There was though one voice of dissent which was muzzled without much ado by this “deep state” in India. Margaret Alva, a former Union minister of state and Governor, was quite scathing in her autobiography: “Courage and Commitment:” Excerpts:

“While Pilot, Prasada and Scindia got all the honours due to them as Congress leaders—with shamianas erected at the AICC to receive their remains before the last rites—PV Narasimha Rao, the tallest of them all, was denied a state funeral in Delhi. His body was not even let into the AICC compound; instead, the gun carriage carrying the former Prime Minister and Congress President was parked on the pavement outside the gates, with chairs lined for party leaders. I was shocked…ever since, I have regretted not protesting and walking away.” – On PV Narasimha Rao’s death in 2004

Alva details that she played a peacebroker between Sonia and Rao: the latter falling out probably for deciding to appeal against the Delhi High Court’s decision to quash a complaint against the Bofors case. Sonia Gandhi once retorted to Alva: “What does the Prime Minister want to do? Send me to jail?”

Alva’s outburst about the unfair ticket distribution in Karnataka led to her ouster. She was asked to resign from the post of All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in 2009. In her resignation, Alva wrote thus:

“Times have changed and for the first time I have come to feel like a misfit in an organization that I considered as precious as my own home. A look at our recent candidates lists show a distinct patter of patronages to the wealthy and rich lobbies like mining, education and real-estate…”

Just reflect on the above in line of recent Karnataka assembly elections and ponder why no newspaper or media celebrity ever brought this book out of the shelves to examine Congress’ candidates in 2018? Why Congress’ demise in the state is not looked through the prism which Alva afforded us?

As per one reviewer of the book: “Alva’s book offers an amazing insight into the maneuverings of 10 Janpath—the home of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Without being too harsh, Alva clearly indicts Gandhi for lacking transparency in her manner of functioning, her penchant for surrounding herself with a handful of loyalists…”.

Alva was made to leave Delhi, appointed as she was governor of Uttarakhand. In her words: “Once I had made the mistake of saying: `The Alvas are the only political family to have a member in Parliament without a break for almost half a century.’ This statement sealed our fate.”

(As an aside, Alva was Governor of Rajasthan when Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. Alva describes her meeting with Modi thus: `I told him I had come to pay my respects, not plead for an extension, adding `I am not prepared to quit anytime.’ “There is no question,” He (Modi) replied. “You are doing a good job please continue where you are.” She was subsequently given additional charge of Goa and Gujarat!).

Rahul needs to know of Mahatma Gandhi & Capitalists

For all his piety, love and reliance on non-violence and ahimsa, it’s one of history’s indisputable facts that Mahatma Gandhi relied heavily on Indian capitalists’ funds to keep the Congress going in pre-Independence days.

Today, when we hear Rahul Gandhi shriek “Suit-Boot ki sarkar” as a barb to Narendra Modi and his NDA government, it seems so improper given the financial diet which kept Congress on its feet in pre-1947 era.

B.R. Nanda, a contemporary and a pre-eminent biographer of Mahatma Gandhi admits in his book: “In Search of Gandhi..,” that two thoughts dominated his early years in India in 1920s: “One, that capitalists kept Congress and Gandhi flush with funds…and as quid pro quo, Gandhi astutely checked the revolutionary aspect of his struggle against the Raj to suit the vested interests of the capitalists.”

The experience of “Deshbandhu” Chittaranjan Das was a bitter testimony to such a belief. Subhas Chandra Bose was a disciple of Das. In the latter’s biography “Brothers against the Raj,” hugely acclaimed author Leonard A. Gordon writes thus (condensed for brevity):

In 1920, Gandhi promised “Swaraj in one year” as he gave call for civil disobedience. The call was a massive success. When on November 17, the Prince of Wales arrived in Bombay, Calcutta was completely shut-down by protestors. Around India, some 25,000 Congress workers were arrested. Congress was declared unlawful. Thousands more now poured into British jails, including Das and Subhas Bose. But when British offered a proposal of roundtable meeting, Gandhi rejected. Das was angry with Gandhi. In Das’ own words:

“I myself led people to prison. I started the movement in Bengal. I sent my son first to jail. My son was followed by m wife, and then I went to prison…I knew that the spirit of resistance that manifested itself was mighty and the proudest Government did bend to it. You (Gandhi) bungled it, and mismanaged it. Now you turn round and ask people to spin and do the work of Charka alone.”

In 1922, the Chauri Chaura incident happened. The Congress working committee met and suspended the planned civil disobedience. Peasants were instructed not to withhold rent payments from landlords, who were informed that the Congress `in no way intended to attack their legal rights.’

Writes Gordon: “The Congress…when ending many non-coperation activities and calling off the planned civil disobedience action, opposed rent strikes by peasants against their landlords. The Congress wanted and needed the support of the wealthier strata in society and was not willing to challenge economic vested interest.” (Italics mine).

“He (Subhas Bose) was possibly the author of a leader for Bangla Katha journal of 7 February 1923 which read: `The swaraj which the Congress had so long knowingly or unknowingly wished to have, is the swaraj of the rich and middle class. We do not always properly realize the fact that the masses of the country are still lying outside the Congress arena.”

Among the historians and observers, there is a stream of thought which believes that civil disobedience and non-cooperation movements, burning of foreign clothes etc, directly benefited India’s own Capitalists. Another though premises that due to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, which announced the arrival of Communism on world stage, Indian capitalists were fearful of a similar outbreak of resistance among its own workers. It was in their interests that such revolutionary methods were kept in check and Congress, being the leading party, alone could do it.

The above details is not to suggest a conspiracy between Congress and Capitalists. But personal interests perhaps guided both. Congress was close to bankruptcy when Gandhi arrived on the Indian scene. All it could do was to hold its’ annual sessions. It badly needed money and Gandhi proved to be a brilliant fund-raiser. It’s not to doubt Gandhi’s integrity or his commitment to his idea of India. Nor is to say that a few Indian capitalists were not genuinely inspired by Gandhi’s religious and political ethos. Both needed each other in those turbulent years.

But when Rahul Gandhi today accuses of Modi government siding with the Capitalists, it appears such a sham. He needs to go to libraries and read books to know more about his own Congress and its affiliation with capitalists.

What I won’t do if I was a Rahul Gandhi

It’s only for their own good that Indian National Congress stop shouting hollow the “corruption” charge against Narendra Modi and his ministers in the garb of Rafale. Such charges may get an echo from your very own drummer boys and girls in media but is self-defeating. Mercenaries can do a lot of things but don’t appeal to logic. First, you dream a self-image; then pay the pen-pushers to give words to it; and then read and believe it. How stupid could you get?

Only, if they were to ask average readers, three questions would be thrown back at them: (1) Who made the charge (2) Why’s the charge; (3) What’s the follow-up?

So (a) Congress and opposition has made the charge; (b) the charge is of inflated bills for Rafale jets; and (c) err…no follow-up!!!

No follow-up? You mean no cases filed against corrupt ministers? No CBI, ED, Income Tax inquiries? No request for midnight anticipatory bails?

You see what I am leading to? Just imagine the picture: Rahul Gandhi in a residential colony of Delhi, say Safdarjung, asking a housewife on Rafale and being shot back at with these three questions. How do you think he would reply???

Let’s say Gandhi is carrying the clippings from Lutyens Media, The (pants on) Fire, Hugpost, TheScowl, ThePint, TheSquint as his file of defence. He dramatically pulls them out and says: yeh dekho, yeh dekho aur yeh bhi dheko!!! All can’t be wrong!

Oh, so it’s going to the chambers of our very own defence minister? But then she’s only be around 10 months? Why 10 months, even in the entire four-plus years of NDA, we haven’t heard of any corruption charge against any Central minister? Be it Union, minister of state or Independents in the Centre. No mid-night bail dramas, no-anticipatory reliefs. And you mean we have a corrupt government in the Centre?

How do you think Rahul Gandhi would reply? When names such as Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Ravishankar Prasad, Prakash Javedkar, Jayant Sinha, Kirren Rijju, Nirmala Sitharaman, Manohar Parikkar, Rajyavardhan Rathore, Suresh Prabhu or Manoj Sinha are taken aloud in his face? How do you think he would react to this question: “Mr Gandhi, none of the above in the eyes of neutral citizens of this country are seen as corrupt. Not even by the media you quote. On the contrary, we know you and your mother are on a bail; your brother-in-law’s company is fighting 18 fraud cases; your pre-eminent minister Chidambaram and his son are anticipating arrests, etc. What makes you think we believe you?”

That’s the whole point: Corruption and this Modi government don’t connect. Insinuations are not charges. Claims are no evidence. Shouting is no logic. Especially when said by a voice which must end with a hug or a wink. A person who flies abroad while his party is bloodied on a political turf; a “young” leader whose’ voice on social media don’t seem to be his very own.

Let’s bring another relevant issue to the debate. Just google “Modi Arrogant.” You would have many of the above suspects voicing in unison: YES. That he is a dictator. He has reduced everybody to rubber-stump in the Cabinet etc.

Tell me frankly, do men like Gadkari, Rajnath, Goyal or Prasad look like errand-boys to you? Sushma, Nirmal and Smriti house-attendants? Rijju, Rathore, Parrikkar or Prabhus lawn-makers? Haven’t they carved out respect in the eyes of the people due to their hard work and integrity? Haven’t they survived because they are competent and not because they fear “Dictator Modi.”

Congress and its’ echo-chamber today is completely divorced from reality. Such antics are only good to fool yourself. That’s like you are spot-running, going nowhere. If I was Rahul Gandhi, I would take a sabbatical, withdraw from this heat of the battle, go on a personal, physical “Discovery of India.” Know real men, know real India, know real issues. That’s what the original Gandhi did. That’s what our present so-far-dummy Gandhi must do.

 

Lutyens Media is drummer boy for Rahul Gandhi

It’s without bitterness or rancour that I point out how the rotten media—both Indian and Western—keeps the “Dead Man Walking,” that is, Indian National Congress.

Vir Sanghvi, out from the edit pages of Hindustan Times for nearly a decade after the Radia Tapes leaks, is back strategically ahead of the 2019 Elections. On Friday, he warned BJP it has a “fight on its hands,” since “Rahul Gandhi has grown in confidence.” The first time Sanghvi’s political pen is unfrozen in a decade, it flows in obeisance. To take a hint from his own Brunch column, it’s in “rude taste.’

The last we saw of the child-boy Rahul on national screen was during the “hug debate” in Parliament last Friday. He had a dark visage, stung by the rebuke of generally mild Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, followed by BJP’s Anurag Thakur ripping open his Rafale lies in front of the nation.

Yet the same newspaper, only a couple of days before, was showcasing Shekhar Gupta almost celebrating the “Bofors moment” of BJP on Rafale. Now Shekhar isn’t shy on Congress or slinking type—remember how he made light of “pimping-for-Congress” remark of Arvind Kejriwal? So boldly Shekhar has gone ahead and penned another piece close on its heels—and you’ve guessed it right: “He (Rahul) has risen in stature as a pre-eminent leader of opposition.”

The next name which came almost instinctively to my mind was Barkha Dutt. Why? Because she links with Sanghvi as one who was badly stung by Radia Tapes leaks; and with Shekhar as a columnist in his venture to which once she briefly was a partner.

Barkha these days is usually found parked in Washington Post. She found Rahul Gandhi winner all over on “Hug Day” in front of the nation: “He won the headlines…he won the talking points.’

If Barkha is around can Sagarika Ghose be behind? She is used to being called a Gandhi loyalist. Her first sentence in Times of India on Rahul-hug is: “(it) has  stunned the government and left the Prime Minister looking thunderstruck.” Her husband, Rajdeep Sardesai, was far more nuanced but still couldn’t resist stating: “Pappu can hug saala.”

None of them realize that if there is one definitive moment which has sealed Rahul Gandhi’s fate in the eyes of the nation (as well in the eyes of other prospective allies) it is this “hug moment.” He looked kiddish, impulsive—first asking Modi to get up from his seat and when the wily Prime Minister didn’t oblige—throwing himself at him like a sack. He then allowed himself to be called back by PM; to be patted; and sent hurtling back to his seat. It was not a “winner” but a very “poor optics” beamed to millions. He became a laughing stock and sealed his fate with his own act.

And so have these court-jesters who masquerade as journalists. Remember the words most of them had to say about “Hugplomacy” of Modi: if you believed them or their Western ilks, Modi had made himself a laughing stock in front of world leaders.

Read BBC (“he has become a caricature of himself”); Washington Post (Modi an awkward hugger); Quartz (penchant for bear hugs) or news outlets closer home, unfailingly you’d find Modi plastered to the wall for offering warm hugs to fellow statesmen and leaders. But when Rahul Gandhi does so, all of these pen-pushers can’t stop gushing in admiration. The same Congress which ridiculed Modi and his hug on a youtube video, now has posters where Rahul’s hug has all but saved humanity. I mean how ludicrous could it get???

Modi, “triple talaq” and a brazen Congress

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called out Congress for being only a “Muslim-male” friendly party with no thought to Muslim women. His frustration has stemmed from the “triple talaq” Supreme Court judgment last year, still awaiting legislation despite being cleared in Lok Sabha, held up as it is in Rajya Sabha.

On the face of it, it’s a “hara-kiri” by Congress: The ratio of Indian muslim women vis-à-vis men is 951 per thousand. Why risk losing such a significant share of votes when the party is fighting for survival?

The answer is in these bland statistics: As per the 2011 Census data, 13.5 Muslim women are married before they turn 15. The ratio rises to nearly 50 per cent for Muslim women getting married between 14-19 years. The child thus “transferred” at a fragile age is unlikely to resist the patriarchal order, from the one of father to the new one of husband. Such a “captive” audience would do as the overarching men in the family would ask them to do. Love, set and match.

The Muslim women, thus married early, are also unlikely to finish their education. An uneducated women has lesser chance of being employed. Lack of financial security drives them further inside the cage. This is the story from one generation to another to the next one. There is no escaping from this rigid order which acquires a “Quranic” sanction only Mullahs or All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) can decode in this land. In order to keep their hold watertight, they then announce grandiosely to have a “Sharia Court” in every 640 districts of the country.

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) demands our attention for this body has been active for over a dozen years. It came into existence during Gujarat Riots of early 2000 where, as per its founder Zakia Soman, she felt a common thread of being from a “marginalized gender” with Muslim women in camps. “Marginalized in families; marginalized in community,” as she says it.

Soman recounts a vivid experience: “We were working to enroll girls in school, get scholarships…and find some kind of work with decent wages and social security. After three years, Muslim women started coming to us from all over the country…`You helped my daughter…helped me fill some form for the government. That was very good, but now my husband has divorced me instantly and thrown me out. And I don’t have a home to go to…I don’t know where to go with my children. Can you please help me’?”

So it’s much more than just about “triple talaq.” It’s also much more than polygamy, inheritance or abortion. It’s a state of perpetual slavery, without education, without jobs, without security. You also can’t keep your children with you, if so the men wish. The Mullahs who interpret “Quran” in this manner are lying, pure and simple.

“There are direct verses in the Quran…that support our claim to equality and gender justice… For the first time both women and men were learning that Quran is not about what some groups had been suggesting.” says Soman.

The truth is, the personal laws for Muslims remain uncodified in India. Hindus have the succession act of 1956; the Christians have their own marriage act but Muslim leadership has taken refuge under the Constitution which allows for family law to be based on religion. The Muslim laws remain uncodified in India. The codification of the laws too would solve little for the well-being of Indian muslim women. As long as they are disempowered due to lack of education, and consequent financial independence, they would be herded like sheeps in perpetuity. The patriarchal society would assert its domination.

Neither child marriage nor education/financial independence of Indian muslim women is a matter on which you would see a Congress leader stick his neck out. That’s the vote-base they have cultivated for decades after decades. Never mind the abject situation of muslim women; never a thought as to what a self-confident woman could do to free-up her next generation; never a reflection how it would “de-ghettoised” a community and turbo-charge the growth of country. All muslims in this country have got is religious leadership; there has been no attempt to create social or democratic leadership from within.

It’s facile and silly to play to the gallery with quips like “jhoothon ka sardar” in response to the charge Modi has made against Congress for appeasing muslim men only. Discerners remember at certain times “maut ka saudagar” or “khoon-ki-dalali” one-liners have emerged from the Congress camp. Sometimes, Modi is called “tughlaqi”. At other times “feku.” Rajdeep Sardesai once on stage called him “mass murderer.” His wife Sagarika Ghose kept screaming about Modi and  his Louis Vuitton shawl till the company clarified it doesn’t make shawls. Rahul Gandhi mentioned “khoon ki dalali”; one of his senior leaders had the word “neech” in his mind. The parties which intend to form a Mahagathbandhan with Congress are no better. Sitaram Yechuri of CPI (M) mentions “pick-pocket” in reference to Modi. Arvind Kejriwal, the epitome of masculinity, called Modi a “coward and psychopath.” All of these can be referred here.

When a Congress leader spreads the fear of a “Hindu Pakistan”, he ought to remind his party that even Pakistan has outlawed “triple talaq.” So by appearing to support its retention, they actually plan to make India worse than a Pakistan.