WHAT RAHUL GANDHI CAN STILL DO TO SALVAGE THE SITUATION FOR CONGRESS

It looks all gloomy, beyond the point of return, at least, for this Lok Sabha polls, with the polls just two months away.

The opinionating is increasingly voicing its outrage against the Congress party and the United Progressive Alliance government, the union government of India, led by the Congress party and headed by Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi.

The run of analyses and the subsequent trends are foretelling a historic loss for the Congress party with all pre-poll surveys giving the grand old party of India a historically low representation in the Lok Sabha.

Absolutely high anti-incumbency, senseless acts leading to price-rise in very segment and senseless statements on price-rise, epidemic level of political corruption – the humiliation that the party had in the recently held assembly polls was not without its ground.

Still, Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party can expect (in real terms) to reclaim the lost ground if Rahul Gandhi does certain radical things, proving innocence of his thoughts and genuineness of his concerns when he talks about the politics of change, when he says he wants to involve the nation in the process of changing the System.

Yes, unthinkably radical they are when we see them in the context of the prevailing polity of the Congress party:

Apoligising to the nation, unconditionally, for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots (and ensuring that the justice be done finally, irrespective of who gets what, independent of the affiliations of the people involved)

Distancing completely from the Robert Vadra controversies over the corruption allegations and ensuring that law takes its course (independent of the family and party affiliations of the people involved)

Distancing his personal and political persona from the appeasement poll planks like getting the Jains the ‘minority’ tag or other policies to secure short-term electoral mileage like the incessant rant of Muslim reservation before every election, that, in the long-run, divide the societies. Yes, I am pro-reservation and a supporter of the affirmative action by the state, but, after 60 years, it is the high time that we look at the methods involved to assess the achievements and acidic effects that it has had on our society.

Ensuring that the Adarsh Commission report is implemented in honest spirit (yes, and ensuring that the culprits don’t get a chance to manipulate the System, irrespective of who gets what, independent of the affiliations of the people involved)

Launching a movement and exerting his political influence honestly to let the political parties under the purview of the RTI Act (getting the bill, that intends to amend the RTI Act to get the political parties out of the purview of the RTI Act, bypassing the Central Information Commission’s order of June 3, 2013, out of the legislative stalemate, and thus killing it finally, and not shielding behind the arguments like the RTI Act doesn’t cover the Judiciary or the Press and the political parties’ inclusion under the RTI Act needs to be seen in that context, as he said in a recent TV interview.)

No one can say of the outcome with surety but doing so in quick succession, within the limit of the limited time-frame available before the Lok Sabha polls, would certainly help the Brand Rahul Gandhi in unexpected and positive ways.

Yes, Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party need to do so honestly to realise that. But can Rahul do that? The radical elements involved in doing so will bust many. Is he ready to pay the price to play it genuine, to walk-the-talk, to play it long-term?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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WHATS TRENDING ON 65TH REPUBLIC DAY: THE PUNDITS ON ‘IFS, BUTS AND AYES’

The pundits on ‘ifs, buts and ayes’ of India, spread across the spectrum

The season of elections is hot. The temperature was set on an upswing with assembly polls in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram in the last quarter of 2013.

The ‘curve-on-growth-course’ led to the germination in time and the fans gathered in full strength to rehearse and to present their credentials and thus claims for their stakes when the fruit had ripened, when the ‘pundit in the fans’ would be in full flow to inundate us with their 360 Degree wisdom.

With just two months in the Lok Sabha polls, the moment on the time-scale is just around the corner when the fruit will enter its final stage of ripening.

And, the hotness of the season of elections is expected to ripen the fruit at a speeded rate after the changed circumstances of electoral equations have left even the most thick skinned of the pundits shocked, scrambling for words, with the assembly election results declared last December giving the BJP a mixed bag of better-than-expected and ‘not-up-to-the-expectation’ results, giving Congress a poll drubbing and giving the Aam Aadmi Party stunningly impressive show in Delhi that helped it form the government.

The fruit of the season of elections is coming into full form to be savoured by the categories of the pundits.

And therefore, it is going to the season of reasons as well – reasons of every type – qualified reasons, unqualified reasons, statistical reasons, verbose reasons, exploratory reasons, discursive reasons, reasoned reasons, unreasoned reasons – elaborating and exhorting on every possible contour with their ‘ifs, buts and ayes’ on each and every development – yes, the pundits are going to be the one hot currency in the season of polls in India.

Like always, post the advent and growth of the satellite channels, this time too, what we saw on air during the assembly polls in the last quarter of 2013, was a trailer, the events and outcomes of small-scale elections preceding the big daddy of them all, the big-ticket event, the general elections of India, the Lok Sabha polls.

Be ready for the season of reasons (and thus of pundits) in the season of elections.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

‘MAYBE, YOU FIND ME STRANGE.’ – ‘NO, I DON’T FIND YOU STRANGE.’

‘Maybe you find me strange.’ Rahul Gandhi, the interviewee, says. ‘No, I don’t find you strange.’ Arnab Goswami, the interviewer, says, during Rahul Gandhi’s first formal television interview after beginning the active political career.

A line during the course of conversation, or the interview, a line repeated to support the viewpoint, a line repeated to help the other lines already spoken during the course of the conversation, the line sums up the ‘politician Rahul Gandhi’ in clear terms.

It tells us something direct, that subtle point about the politician Rahul Gandhi that the nation so desperately wanted to understand. That interest, that necessity to know the politician Rahul Gandhi is fading.

Multiple factors have been responsible for it. Major among them are Rahul’s silence on many issues of national and social importance, Rahul’s delayed and ‘not up to the mark’ act on many issues and the mammoth scale of corruption attributed to the (miss)-governance of the Congress party led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

But still, there is scope left for us to know him, for he is the face of the oldest and the mostly widely spread political outfit of the country. Even if not in the office as the prime minister, he, by his position, wields significant power in the country. That applies for Rahul Gandhi and his party being in the opposition in the Parliament as well.

The nation needs to know the politician Rahul Gandhi.

And this line, during the course of the conversation during his first formal television interview tells clearly about who is the ‘politician Rahul Gandhi’.

On points where Rahul says that the interviewer may find ‘Rahul’ strange based on ‘Rahul’s’ answers during the conversation gives us a window to look into how Rahul thinks.

And what Rahul thinks constitutes for strange has become frustratingly routine for India. Becoming of that a ‘routine’ has been ironical for India. And it may well become ‘ironically routine’ for the Congress party if a transformation doesn’t come in time.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHATS TRENDING ON 65TH REPUBLIC DAY: INDIA, THE RAPE CAPITAL!

Saying so — It is not fashionable. It is not patronizing. It is not as looking down on some lesser important ally. It is not biased. It is rooted in deeply disturbing trends.

When the world, when the global community, when the rich nations that constitute for the bulk of the tourist inflow in India – when they warn their citizens on traveling in India, labeling the world’s largest democracy as the rape capital of the world, it has reasons, reasons that should have ashamed us to take corrective measures long ago.

And ‘taking corrective measurers’ is not just about formulating some policies. We have had many policies strong enough to check and put the effective control. In fact, an already robust legal framework was given even more teeth after the December 16, 2012 gang rape of Delhi.

But, the number of rape cases, or to say the number of reported rape cases, has increased significantly since then.

‘Taking corrective’ measures must mean implementing the measures to correct the system, and that must be ‘without delay’.

The task at hand becomes even more herculean with the fact that it is a mindset problem of a male dominated society where, in spite of all the progresses and the claims thus made, women are still treated as lesser, inferior counterparts, that further pushes for their stereotyping and commoditizing as objects, to be used, to be exploited, by the sick and perverted male mentalities.

The devil was always there, cryptically exposed, dwarfed by the inhibitions of a patriarchal society. Now, with chronically increased number of rape cases, it is telling us it doesn’t care what the morality thinks about it. It, in fact, is boasting its perversion with a shameless new audacity.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHATS TRENDING ON 65TH REPUBLIC DAY: CHAI WALLAH VS ASPIRING COMMON MAN VS MUFFLER WALLAH

-The ‘Chai Wallah’ Vs the Aspiring Common Man (the Prince) Vs the ‘Muffler Wallah’-

Irrespective of the Congress party not declaring Rahul Gandhi its prime-ministerial nominee and irrespective of Rahul Gandhi saying again and again that ‘power is poison and he is not for the post’, as he said again in his first formal interview to a TV channel, it is going to be Narendra Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

At the moment, the balance is heavily tilted in favour of Narendra Modi after the assembly election results of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi in December last year when BJP registered a good (better than expected in some cases) performance while Congress saw humiliation, to the extent of absolute rejection.

Before, that, though Modi was still far ahead in different popularity surveys, the opinionating was not so skewed and the Rahul Factor was being talked about seriously.

That has seen a reasonable dent now.

But, still, the Congress party has no other alternative than to project Rahul Gandhi, officially or unofficially, hoping some political windfall in the last moments that may help the Rahul Factor sail through the political storm of the Lok Sabha polls 2014.

For Congress, still, the First Family comes first, when it comes to the moments of crisis, as is the case now, with a Congress led coalition government facing historically low credibility crisis and sky-high anti-incumbency.

So, irrespective of whether it is or it is not, it is going to be Rahul Gandhi Vs Narendra Modi.

And what about ‘Rahul Gandhi Vs Narendra Modi Vs Arvind Kejriwal’ hypothesis for the prime-ministerial chair of the country?

The option with ‘Vs Kejriwal’ in picture is more for the analysts and pundits who are going to come with their psephological, sociopolitical and sociological viewpoints before the elections, factoring in the ‘Kejriwal Factor (or AAP Factor) after the stunning success of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi assembly elections.

So, even if a ‘Kejriwal Factor’ is non-existent or is having absolutely low recall intensity beyond Delhi-NCR and some urban pockets, it is going to be in news and discussions until the Lok Sabha poll results come. Also, the growing base of controversies against AAP, in just 30 days of it coming to power in Delhi, has corroded the national ambitions of the new party in real terms. Now, they need to deliver Delhi first.

Therefore, for voters spread across the villages, towns, cities and metro cities, it is mainly going to be Narendra Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi.

For certain populations spread across certain geographical localities, and for the discourse utility of the Kejriwal Factor for political discussions on TV news channels and other media vehicles, it is going to be Rahul Gandhi Vs Narendra Modi Vs Arvind Kejriwal.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHATS TRENDING ON 65TH REPUBLIC DAY: CAMPAIGNING FOR THE CAMPAIGNS

The beginning was made when the assembly elections of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (and Mizoram) were announced.

The mini-theatre gave ample, even more than enough, representation to the tools of political communication.

Advertising mileage, branding linkage and marketing deliverance – every tool was exploited.

And the colloseum of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls is going to reflect the magnified scale of these tools used in the mini theatre in operation in the last quarter of 2013.

The players, the coaches, the platforms – all are greasing up to campaign for the campaigns that are going to sweep the nation.

The direct, the indirect, the ‘above-the-line’, the ‘below-the-line’, the explicit, the restrained, the provocative, the diminutive – every possible tool in the communication manuals is going to be used and re-used.

UPA’s Bharat Nirman, NDA’s efforts to undoing the ‘Bharat Nirman’, attacks, counter-attacks and allurements of other political outfits in the communication space – until now, the space has seen use of ‘flighting’, the intermittent burst of advertising campaigns.

Now, with the Lok Sabha polls just two months away, be prepared to weather round the clock, 360 Degree ‘continuity’ of political communication right into your homes, in your lives, with regular intermittent bursts of overdose.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHATS TRENDING ON 65TH REPUBLIC DAY: PRE-POLL SEASONING ON ELECTORAL REASONING

Five assembly elections just concluded. Four of them, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, were touted as semifinal before the general elections, the Lok Sabha polls, of 2014.

It can be rightly said the nation was thrust into the poll mode right from the time these four state assembly elections were announced.

And the outcome has only galvanized the atmosphere.

No had expected such a big humiliation of Congress. No one had given such a big thumbs-up to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). No one had thought BJP would score so huge victories in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Despite the claims, most of the pre-poll surveys failed to gauge what was going to happen.

Now, with just two months left for the Lok Sabha polls, the run of the pre-Lok Sabha polls opinion poll surveys is already on the show and is expected to gain quick momentum in the coming days.

With each passing week, the frequency is going to increase until the model code of conduct puts them to go silent.

Yes, bitten and stung, expect the outcome of the four assembly results of December 2013 to reflect in their analyses and projections.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SO, RAHUL GANDHI BEGINS WITH HIS ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEWS

So, it was a highly publicized, first television appearance of Rahul Gandhi for a personal interview. Let me be honest, I didn’t catch the initial part of it but what I could go through was more than enough.

It was like a Rahul Gandhi speech in terms of where Rahul Gandhi sounded confident, the grand vision that he and his party have for India, and the grand achievements, he and his grand old party have stacked over the years while pushing the India story on an upward growth curve (obviously, as claimed, the verity, the substance of which is validly questioned, time and again).

But he faltered, he floundered and he floundered badly where he faced tough questions on controversial issues like the 1984 anti-Sikh riots or corruption or price rise. He did not have answers or he did not know what to say. He simply did not know how to defend something that could never be defended logically.

Like always, there was nothing new in what Rahul Gandhi said or argued about, but whatever he says has to be taken into the larger picture of India, its sociopolitical and economy parameters, because he is the prime-ministerial choice of the main party of the ruling coalition of the country.

Some random observations on his interview:

Rahul Gandhi clearly faltering in the Arnab Goswami interview! Poor background work again.

The interviewer asks Rahul Gandhi if he would offer apology for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots – Rahul looks for answers – answers don’t come – he doesn’t want to answer – he doesn’t want to apologize either.

Arnab’s Rahul Gandhi interview: Unacceptable answer of Rahul on RTI. He falters again. Political parties under RTI – why can’t the ‘politician with a difference’ in him say yes, the political parties should come under RTI? But he tries to shift the locus by giving irrelevant examples like the Judiciary not being under RTI.

Ashok Chavan Vs Ashok Kumar: Rahul Gandhi mixes up though his party is defending the tainted former Maharashtra CM. He just not names him wrongly; he also, miserably, falls short on defending his and his party’s stand on corruption.

Rahul Gandhi: no tolerance for corruption yet shields behind the flaws of the legal system – defends his party’s ‘unacceptable corruption’ by shifting the poles – claims the tall claims in his way of rhetoric.

Rahul evades answers on corruption allegations on Ashok Chavan, Virbhadra Singh. Talks of making politics participative – yet, he doesn’t participate in the most fundamental of the discussions – shields behind talking on long-term goals when he fails to defend the present set-up, run by his party and other political parties like his grand old party.

Defends alliance with RJD: Folks, did you know Lalu Yadav’s RJD was an idea or to say alternatively, could it remain an idea any longer, as soon as Lalu assumed the office in Bihar?

Issues and issues – Rahul not coming with answers – clearly not able to defend his stand – clearly not able to defend his political persona – clearly not able to defend his so famous silence when he was so needed to speak on – clearly not able to take the questions head on. Who suggested for an interview after all. And, the next one is coming soon.

Change at the bottom Vs change at the top: Rahul is going to open the system – with him and his party politicians coming from political dynasties working to check the ‘proliferation of dynasties’. Who is going to take it?

Rahul Gandhi is not a superficial chap (as he tells the interviewer). People think Rahul is thinking deeply and thinking long-term (as he tells the interviewer). Rahul talks anti-System of a System his party and his family has been the major contributors of.

‘Change’, ‘Superficiality’, ‘I am different’, ‘No thirst for power’, ‘People at the bottom’, ‘System’, ‘Anti-System’, ‘Empowering the women’, ‘Youngsters’, ‘Zero-tolerance for corruption’, ‘Thinking long-term’ – some of the thematic words from Rahul Gandhi’s interview.

Not born a Gandhi, would you have been in politics still? No answer, but it is natural. He just talked. Hope, some day, he would walk the talk.

Some other elements from his interview: Deeper questions – why power so concentrated – policy made in closed doors – open up the system – role of women – jobs for youngsters – if he would have spoken out earlier – opening up the structure – that’s the bottom line, changing paradigms – and so on

Rahul sounded more like desirous of answering what he wanted to do (deeper thinking issues as per him). He felt uncomfortable whenever he faced controversial issues (he tried to label as superficial issues).

Like on asking (more than once) if he was open for a debate between the key candidates on key issues, he said a national debate was already happening – by comparing works of his party to that of the opponents.

Let’s see how goes the next leg of this exercise of political branding of the brand Rahul Gandhi.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHATS TRENDING ON 65TH REPUBLIC DAY: THE POPULIST ANARCHY

Anarchy gets some Che Guevara style makeover in India, sans some of its elements

‘Yes, I am an anarchist’ – Arvind Kejriwal proudly said it.

Others use more subtle ways. They don’t say but keep on doing. Anarchy has been the way of many of the Indian political establishments.

The rogue elements of the Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party, the militant brand of politics by the parties like Shiv Sena or MNS or the political elitism of every political outfit in the country contribute to the political anarchy (the democratic disorder) in the country.

Yes, they don’t proclaim it openly. They are silent workers here.

Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party are the beginners in the Indian political scene. They have gone political (from activism) to cleanse political of its malaise, to cleanse the System.

Their political basis has been anti-establishment. They have to do different things and they have to do things differently.

But, with one month of the chief ministerial office in Delhi under their grab, they are looking pro-establishment.

Whatever be their intent, on surface, they have to do things to looks different, and the need is exacerbated even more.

So, with the compulsion of ‘being and doing’ things differently, there might be a possibility that some of them advised that the dent was already deepening and AAP needed something different to reclaim the lost ground.

Now, what could divert and reorient the public’s attention in a short span of time?

Agitations folks! And who knows better than Arvind Kejriwal. After all, his political success comes from the hugely successful anti-corruption movement of 2011. Then, he was apolitical. Then he was not in the System.

Now, he is political. Now he is part of the System that he is supposed to cleanse.

So, to do it differently, the angry new entrant of Indian politics sought to reignite the sympathy for the ‘anti-hero’ in the masses, by branding him ‘anarchist’.

Anti-hero anarchy has been a populist theme throughout the world, across the sociopolitical theatres.

Okay, he didn’t do a different thing. But at least, he could do it differently. Others do it but don’t give the ‘anarchy’ its due. Arvind Kejriwal gave ‘anarchy’ its due by giving it the name, by recognizing its populist appeal.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHATS TRENDING ON 65TH REPUBLIC DAY: THE AAM AADMI

The common men, the public of the Republic

Okay, even if doubts have crept in about how central to their plans the ‘aam aadmi’ (the common man) is going to be in reality, the political parties are forced to look pro-common man, and it is unlike any time, at least after the JP Movement of 1970s.

And there looks an unusual likeness for it, a feeling that should be loved; a feeling that should be hoped to be the sustained one.

The ramblings are creating saints and sentient thinkers out of the politicians, of all types, after the Aam Aadmi Party’s stunning performance in the Delhi assembly polls.

So, an Arvind Kejriwal’s government, that is in imminent danger of falling short of being ‘aam’ (common) for the ‘aam aadmi’, is forced to look and sound even more ‘aam’ and it tries to symbolise its concern by not accepting the palatial government accommodations (though unwillingly), by spending crores to let the public be the part of its power show during its government’s inauguration, by getting a rickshaw-puller inaugurate a hospital, though none of its ministers including the most special ‘aam’ among them, Arvind Kejriwal, come forward to offer any explanation on dozens of deaths due to cold in the Delhi government run night shelters.

So, even if the ‘aam aadmi’ remains a compromised political currency, the difference this time is, he has forced the political parties (both, routinely political and newly political) to take notice of him, to talk about him, to accept the symbolism of his power.

So, a faltering AAP is trying to sustain its momentum.

So, the others, including Rahul Gandhi’s Congress and Narendra Modi’s BJP, they all are trying to gain the ‘aam aadmi’ momentum.

‘Aam Aadmi’ has never been so central to the political campaigning.

But, to what extent it makes for the elements of a sensible process of change? Only time will tell.

The worrying part is the cracks have started to appear.

Yes, it is premature and foolhardy to think that this acceptance of the ‘power of the symbolism of the aam aadmi’ would lead to some immediate breakthrough in the mode of political functioning in the country.

It needs to evolve. An overnight crash course in anarchy is not going to help.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/