A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY AGAIN TO PLAY THEIR VICTIM CARD!

That was again in the air. What looked on air – looked like a genuine case – a disgruntled person approached Arvind Kejriwal – during one of his trademark self-obsessed events – this time to say thanks to Delhiites for the ‘odd-even’ scheme – to express her displeasure.

Okay, we may disagree by the way the lady chose to express her displeasure – by throwing ink and some pieces of paper (and a CD) – but we will certainly disagree with what followed – with the lady – and in general – especially with histrionics of the Aam Aadmi Party leaders.

As soon as the news broke, it became ‘the’ most important news of the ‘nation’ – as expected – and as expected – the AAP machinery went into overdrive – to squeeze in the maximum political mileage – to play the victim card – to get in the war of words that is getting so ugly with each passing day.

As soon as the news flashed – as soon as its images started getting viral – the AAP propaganda – yes, now we should say them a well oiled propaganda machinery – took to social media and media in full overdrive (with as much throttle speed as possible) – inhabiting nooks and corners of media and social media spaces – with their victim card – with their ‘good samaritan’ card.

In their trademark way – that has started making us cringe now – something that AAP totally disregards.

So, as soon as the news broke, everyone in AAP started shooting (and shouting at the top of their voices) that it was a political conspiracy – and plans to kill Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders were in making.

The party took no time in coming directly to its point – in getting direct confrontation with BJP and with the Delhi Police. In fact, the party looked desperate to catch political prospects from this ‘windfall development’ as the Punjab assembly polls are around the corner where the party is betting big.

And it was ironical!

Making a fuss around this issue by a party that owes its origin to the ‘common man’ – sending a common woman to jail – is condemnable. A disgruntled auto-rickshaw driver had slapped Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal forgave him and reached out to meet him – though he made a big public spectacle of it. But then, Kejriwal is not chief minister then.

He is chief minister now – and with a solid mandate – 67 out of 70 seats in the Delhi assembly. And after taking Delhi’s CM office second time in February 2015, he has shed all his inhibitions – including his ‘common man’ branding. Now, AAP is like any other party.

And like any other leader of any other political party, the Delhi CM did not show largesse this time. No one in AAP is talking about her now. Kejriwal did not go to meet her today.

Instead, its ministers, leaders and spokespersons are busy since yesterday in milking this incident to settle score with the Delhi Police, to target BJP and to show how everyone else is behind life (and times) of Arvind Kejriwal and AAP.

It all looks so gaudy – so funny now. And it will certainly reflect in electoral politics. The party that borrows its name from the ‘common man’ could have logically chosen to downplay the incident – with a genuine clemency for the lady.

But we all knew what was coming.

To continue..

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

EXISTING VS NEW BREED IN INDIAN POLITICS

Rapidly changing developments in Indian politics – coming in with a new, brazen attitude to follow your stuff and stick to your logics (even if the logics fall very well in the realm of senseless arguments or arguments that can never be proved)!

Welcome to the changed realpolitik of Indian politics with its new breed (or the latest addition) that is trying to capture the centre stage with rapid fire rounds in almost everything that comes across – the breed that sees a political opportunity in anything and everything – be it political or apolitical.

How will it affect the scene?

How will it affect the locales of the political landscape in India?

How will it affect the rules of the games politicians play in India?

Well, there are no visible answers as of yet.

It is too early, in fact, (too) premature to write who is going to prevail and who is going to concede.

It is too judgemental at this primitive stage to write that who will assimilate/incorporate changes and who will lead the way politics is exercised in this country.

It is too irrelevant at this juncture to look for any symbolism in the ongoing juggleries and manoeuvrings so far.

But if it is disturbing to watch the devaluation of values to a new low, analytically, it is interesting to see how it develops further and what elements it throws in and throws out in the process.

On one side there is this breed, with decades of experience that has fine-tuned their politics to the level that they do whatever they want to do – but at the same time, they also keep the space for fine prints in dealing with complex/crisis issues to subtly settle them. Though they talk of social parity, they believe in and follow elitism.

Then there is this new class of entrants – with windfall gains in the very beginning. Bolstered by the unexpected foothold and ‘unbelievable gains of apologies’ (intentional or fake) they have gained in a span of just three years, they are out there to ‘brazen’ it out – to claim their political territory and to win over domains that have been preserves of others so far.

And there are bound to be struggles – struggles for survival – and it has already progressed to the final stages of its initiation with the Delhi assembly election results this year.

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

NO MORE ‘HALF-TICKETS’!

It is very difficult – pushing a massive organization like Indian Railways move to a healthy financial concoction that would cure its ailments (and ills) to make it ‘lifeline for India’, not only for its toiling common men and ‘not so toiling’ other folks, but for the enterprise of the Government of India as well.

And that is much more troublesome than ‘easier said than done’. It is, in fact, an assignment of ‘unachievable’ proportions with ‘almost’ chances of failure.

And we expect a reform-oriented Rail Minister like Suresh Prabhu will have that it mind.

That is why he is trying all, relevant reforms and ‘even those measures that almost would call irrelevant’.

Obviously, I am here talking about the Janta, the common folks, the Aam Aadmi (the common Indian, and not the ‘Aam Aadmis’ of the ‘Aam Aadmi Party’).

It is now a well established fact that a train journey, in its AC First Class, may cost you more than a roundup by a flight.

So, a compulsion of not getting bookings elsewhere, a sense of romance with train journeys in relative comfort of stretching your legs and lying down and availability of time shall make Indian Railways a natural choice for a ‘normal cost of flight’.

And that makes ‘Indian Railways’ at par with airlines – at least in that sense. But, it was so even before Suresh Prabhu.

So, Suresh Prabhu tried this one.

From April 2016 onwards, Indian Railways will charge full fare for child passengers 5 to 12 years old instead of the half amount that it charges now. Now, this is similar to what air carriers do – no concept of similar concessional tickets – so, no more child ‘half tickets’ in trains. Let’s see when it comes to senior citizens – the only age-group left untouched so far.
So, in one go, Mr. Prabhu has inscribed his name in the annals of related journals as a reform-oriented Rail Minister who went the extra mile to instil some ‘life’ in India’s connectivity ‘lifeline’.

Even if at the cost of ‘making life troublesome’ for many for whom Indian Railways is the only option or the most preferred option to travel!

The proposed measure will certainly not affect those who choose Indian Railways for ‘different reasons mentioned above’ and who can afford being airborne.

Now, we need to see how it will play out when this ‘full fare for 5 to 12 year old’ is rolled out and the debate will start intensifying in February next year when the next Rail Budget will be presented given the fact that even if perennially ‘delayed’, Indian Railways is still the lifeline for almost Indians and ‘half ticket’ is an issue that will have populist echoes and social (and electoral) repercussions.

It is, in fact, so socially ingrained that, apart from being a social and financial need in travel plans of many families, it has become part of our popular culture as well – the 1962 Kishore Kumar classic ‘Half Ticket‘ is just an example.

Like a true ‘Aam Aadmi’, we are compelled to accept whatever our policymakers propose for us, especially when the next parliamentary polls are over three years away.

Anyway, let’s see what happens!

That reform measure is still 109 days away. Till then enjoy this ‘Half Ticket’ song.

Suresh Prabhu

Featured Image Courtesy: A themed cartoon by my sister Ragini

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

ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE HAPPENED TO BE AN ‘AAM AADMI’!

ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS AN ‘AAM AADMI’

Once upon a time, during initial days of his political career, the ‘Aam Aadmi’ of Delhi, with a pan-India ambition, saw the opportunity in quickly metamorphosing his ‘activism to political activism’.

Once upon a time, there came a day, in an ‘alternative-hungry’ country, when he reaped unexpectedly rich dividend, taking his entourage to power corridors of Delhi.

Once upon a time, during those days of his first stint with ‘political power’, he realized his aspirations were much bigger and Delhi’s office was much smaller.

Once upon a time, after a brief experiment with his political initiation and the experience thereof, that ‘Aam Aadmi’ came to the conclusion that he had a distinct advantage that placed him in a better position – something that other ‘mainstream’ politicians couldn’t use – he could brand his style of politics as ‘political activism’ and he went to the extent to use such words like ‘anarchy’ or indulged in ‘unlawful but populist’ acts.

Once upon a time, there came a day, when he left people of Delhi for greener political pastures.

Once upon a time, after deserting Delhi, he saw the next big opportunity in Varanasi, but the decision backfired.

Once upon a time, after his political initiation and political experiences in Delhi and Varanasi, he was left with no other option but to head back to Delhi, the city that he had just deserted.

Once upon a time, while thinking so, he was also supported by such thoughts like what he did was quite common in Indian politics and with his ‘skill of saying sorry’, he could resuscitate his ‘political career’ in Delhi again.

Once upon a time, there came a time, after his ‘profuse flow of sorrys’, when Delhi not only resuscitated him, but made him the absolute ‘political king’ for five years. Obviously his political rival, including BJP and Congress, helped significantly in it.

Once upon a time, after regaining his political career and Delhi’s power corridors, that ‘Aam Aadmi’ decided it was ‘the time’ to come out of the garb of ‘political activism’ and practice ‘mainstream Indian politics’ full time.

Once upon a time, there came a day in his almost three year old political career, when that ‘Aam Aadmi’ had the opportunity to shed his ‘mainstream political inhibitions’ finally.

Once upon a time, the day came finally in his ‘political life’ when he graduated to the grand narrative of Indian politics by throwing away people who could pose challenge to his hold over the party of ‘Aam Aadmis’ – and he did so in style and in one go.

Once upon a time, there came the day when he could finally crush the internal democracy in his party of ‘Aam Aadmis’.

Once upon a time, there came a time in his almost three year old political career, when that ‘Aam Aadmi’ felt now was the time go full time ‘VVIP’.

Once upon a time, there came the next step in the political career of that ‘Aam Aadmi’ when he started acting, sounding and practicing ‘Khaas Aadmi’ the way Indian politicians do.

Once upon a time, while conceptualizing his future political roadmap, that ‘Khaas Aam Aadmi’ thought he could still follow greener pastures and the best way to do so was sounding ‘Delhiite’, while at the same time, engaging in confrontational politics with other ‘powers-that-be’.

Once upon a time, there came a time when that ‘Khaas Aam Aadmi’ began on the next step of his political journey in full throttle, junking all his previous promises that he made in the name of ‘political activism’- VIP culture, Jan Lokpal, anti-corruption fight, Aam Aadmi sort of life style, etc.

*’Aam Aadmi’ – Common Man
**’Khaas Aam Aadmi’ – Special Common Man

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

ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS AN ‘AAM AADMI’

Once upon a time, there was an ‘Aam Aadmi’.

Once upon a time, he sounded like an ‘Aam Aadmi’.

Once upon a time, he decided to fight for some cause.

Once upon a time, he decided that the cause would be the ‘Aam Aadmi’.

Once upon a time, there came a time, when he started extending his fight through television sets.

Once upon a time, there came a time, when he thought enough was enough.

Once upon a time, there came a day, when saw the next opportunity to further the cause.

Once upon a time, on one fine day, he decided the board a Delhi Metro train to Noida.

Once upon a time, on that day, and the days that followed, he kept himself absorbed in an assignment to raise a moment.

Once upon a time, during those days of intense conceptualizing, some people along with Anna Hazare came together and formed a group to start an anti-corruption struggle.

Once upon a time, there came a time in his life, when he could successfully be the part of that group where all claimed to be ‘Aam Aadmis’ and they identified an issue that ‘resonates with every ‘Aam Aadmi’ in India – corruption’.

Once upon a time, at that time, they chose to name their movement ‘Jan Lokpal’ agitation.

Once upon a time, under the banner of that movement, the team of ‘Aam Aadmis’ could build a strong anti-corruption movement mobilizing people across the country.

Once upon a time, with that movement, the team of ‘Aam Aadmis’ could force the government of the day to come to the negotiating table.

Once upon a time, there came a day, when that ‘Aam Aadmi’ could see the next opportunity – the opportunity that required him to take a different approach from some of his teammates.

Once upon a time, there came a day, when that ‘Aam Aadmi’ saw where the ‘next’ opportunity could take him and he decided to take political plunge.

Once upon a time, there came a day, when that ‘Aam Aadmi’ formed the ‘Aam Aadmi Party’.

Once upon a time, there came a day, very early in his political career, when he saw his emergence as the most popular leader of that ‘Aam Aadmi Party’.

Once upon a time, during initial days of his political initiation, he felt the need to draw his preferences accordingly.

To continue..

ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE HAPPENED TO BE AN ‘AAM AADMI’!

*’Aam Aadmi’ – Common Man

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

BADAL AND MANDELA!

I wanted to write on it – and now I am writing it – and my mood is fine – a bit light in fact.

Now, irrespective of its pros and cons, its merits and demerits, and its different sides, the comparison made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that morning, the metaphor delivered by him, was going to be the catch phrase – intensely in the short run – sustainably in its mid run with upcoming assembly elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh – and evergreen in its longevity.

While it is going to be a favourite ‘phrase’ used by political opponents to target Narendra Modi, BJP and NDA, many even in the ruling party who are well read and those who think of SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal) in ‘not so good’ terms, would certainly be ‘smiling’ on this ‘unusual’ comparison – ‘unusual comparison’ that will give writers and ‘thought weavers’ something staple to write for – for a long time.

Even Narendra Modi would not be able to control the gauge of his smile when he would reflect back on his observation made that day.

And even Parkash Singh Badal, the 87-year old chief minister of Punjab, would find it hard to fathom.

Even in the prevailing political scenario of India!

Even if it gives Parkash Singh Badal some high points on the momentary scale of rhetoric – to feel good about!

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

AND ARVIND KEJRIWAL IS NO EXCEPTION..

Students of communication (or mass communication) are told the dictum in the very beginning of their coursework that ‘communication is power’.

Now how many of them assimilate is a matter of another debate but the ‘fact’ is becoming more ‘tactful’ for the political class as we are heading more into the times of political experiments.

And Arvind Kejriwal is no exception.

The ‘class’ believes communication can do anything. The ‘class’ believes communication can empower words and associated images to the extent of reality even if reality itself is non-existent. The ‘class’ increasingly believes in the ‘fact’ that it needs to spread its ‘words’ first. The action may or ‘may not’ follow. That is of least concern or of no concern. Yes, ‘action’ does have heightened ‘concern value’ during election times, but communication must have a ‘blitzkrieg’ sort of presence always.

And Arvind Kejriwal comes from this class.

So, Arvind Kejriwal has come up with a blitzkrieg sort of idea to enhance his governance’s and government’s visibility by enhancing his government’s communication (advertising) budget by some 22 times. It is true that the Aam Aadmi Party, the party that belongs to Arvind Kejriwal (and now Arvind Kejriwal only), shuns any wasteful expenditure – as its founding principle says. But those who are terming this as ‘wasteful’ increase are not seeing the underlying wisdom of Mr. Kejriwal.

Mr. Kejriwal and his party are on the way to do an innovative experiment. Apart from doing work to meet their electoral promises, they also want to see what happens if they don’t meet most of what they have promised. They can afford it as they are just beginning. It is still not five months yet from 14 February 2105 when there government was inaugurated again. And they have five years ahead. So, they can attract ‘some public wrath’ for the overall larger public good. (Yes, such altruism, some selflessness is rare.)

Also, after the ‘class metamorphosis’ of the AAP is complete, it has to do certain damage control exercises.

First, it doesn’t share good relations with media. Media outfits say he is acting like them who happened to be his ‘stated reasons to enter politics to cleanse it’. Now, media is not going to change its view until and unless something groundbreaking happens.

But in order to do something groundbreaking, Kejriwal first needs to experience all political grounds – good, bad, ugly, controversial, appreciative, etc. – and it may lead to negative reporting against him.

And therefore, Kejriwal has taken the task of experiencing controversial ground after his initial offers from Delhi’s coffers to subsidize water and electricity, even if it is giving rise to his increasing criticism.

Kejriwal will weather it, like the ‘class’ usually does in such cases. Yes, to cushion his party members – and the three year old party – with many of its ‘prominent’ members from media – Kejriwal has come with a respite – by increasing the advertising budget – from 24 crore to 526 crore – that is probably largest, many times of many states, for a state government in India – for spreading the word about Delhi government’s good intent – that is evident from his and his ministers’ words – action will follow – as the Delhi government promises.

Yes, media and political opponents will criticise the move citing negative points like the huge increase, like wastage of taxpayer’s money, like no real work on ground, like taxpayer’s money being splurged on practice like spreading the word about the government’s work when there is nothing much to talk about, like the controversy around violating the Supreme Court’s order on political advertisements, like reneging on its poll promises, like diverting funds from development works to fund expenditures like this and so on.

But this Delhi government would take all that. After all, after becoming so uncommon, Kejriwal’s next aim is to make every common man think ‘uncommon’ – the way he has made the AAP think and decide on its future political course of action.

Yes, communication is power and he has initiated ‘tactfully’ with the formal process to live this ‘fact’.

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

NOW WHO WILL BUY IT? NO ONE. EXCEPT AAP.

Well, today was another step in the ‘unravelling’ saga of the uncommon common man Arvind Kejriwal and his uncommon ‘common men’ party, the Aam Aadmi Party.

After presenting a budget that was not innovative enough to the promises he had made while he was asking for votes (apart from hiking budgetary allocation on education), his government today hiked the upper limit on the Value Added Tax (VAT) in Delhi by 10%.

That gives the Delhi government, led by Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party, flexibility to ‘manoeuvre”. Now, what will they ‘manoeuvre’, only they know. On its part, the government is saying the move is not about ‘price increase’.

Now who will buy it?

No one.

Except the AAP.

And there are reasons behind it.

In the run-up to the elections, the AAP announced many populist sops including free Wi-Fi, schools, hospitals, free water and low electricity tariff. The overall list is long and beyond scalable limits. Even Arvind Kejriwal admitted, after winning the absolute majority, that he was not looking at fulfilling ‘all the promises’ he had made.

Now, all that requires money and Kejriwal has already started the process, by subsidizing electricity and water. There are no innovative proposals to raise more money to fund these ‘populist measures’ but empty rhetoric like the one Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister, proposed today. His ‘common sense’ wisdom told us today that a common Delhiite was able to save some money (in thousands) thanks to his government’s anti-corruption efforts.

So, the ‘common’ Delhiites have more monetary resources to meet the ends now – with the AAP’s grace. That eases some of the burden of the populist promises. For others, some that the government wants to meet in light of the upcoming polls, with continuation of the most populist measures like subsidies of water and electricity, there are flexible ‘manoeuvrability’ measures like the one proposed today.

No one is buying the government’s arguments and reports have already started saying that prices are to set to increase after the AAP government hiked the upper limit of the VAT from 20% to 30%.

On the contrary, the first policy move of the government post ‘Swaraj’ budget is set to increase prices of cooking fuels and fuel oils. That will have a cascading effect on other items for sure – as another ‘common sense’ wisdom says.

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

BHAGWAN IS ADVERTISEMENT KO SALAMAT RAKHE!

Saw the Aam Aadmi Party’s (Arvind Kejriwal’s) advertisements on a ‘news channel’ today.

And felt so confident after watching it that ‘the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal are on highway of success’.

And it is for the betterment of the masses and the classes that they want to take it further to them, to tell them – to communicate to them the good work Mr. Kejriwal is doing – so that it reaches far and wide – so that it reaches to ‘every possible family’.

After all, unlike the family in this advertisement, there are many families who don’t feel Kejriwal has done anything significant so far to affect their lives, even if there is a sea-change – at least to do while expressing themselves publicly.

They are so adamant that they are not believing even Kejriwal and it is hurting the good samaritans of the ‘good samaritan sort of party’. After all, they are not doing it for name, fame and money. They are doing for social well-being. They are doing it for the ‘politics of change’ to change ‘themselves’.

Therefore, it is a commendable act. I thought to do an analytical appreciation of the advertisement frame by frame but could not locate it on online platforms including YouTube and the AAP website. Hope, it will be here today, allowing me to do, what was left midway last night.

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

FARMERS MAY CONTINUE TO COMMIT SUICIDE BUT POLITICIANS FEEL THEY ARE IN A SEPARATE CLASS

They range from 600 and go to over 850 – based on different reports. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh continue to hold the ignominy of maximum farm suicides in the country.

Telangana which was officially carved out of Andhra Pradesh on June 1 last year has inherited the issue from its parent state. And has been performing even worse after that.

Its first chief minister is busy in affairs of his family and the ministerial council. He has converted the entire state into his fiefdom it seems. Had it not been so, his MLA would not dare to say that ‘no farmer has committed the suicide in the state since KCR (K. Chadrashekar Rao) took over in June 2014’.

And such MLAs (and ministers) are duly rewarded by KCR.

The minister who said this is a so-called ‘progressive farmer’ and is headed to Israel for the International Agriculture Exhibition. He is part of the delegation of eight such ‘farmers’ who will go to Israel on the study tour and would implement the learning of the ‘place’ back home.

So, Telangana is looking to grab an opportunity that would get it rid of all negative publicity. Isn’t it?

But then negative publicities are galore. And they are not without reasons.

But then, they are politicians of the day, of the lot they come from, of the land called India.

Even all the media fury and political opposition’s arguments couldn’t bring the chief minister out to speak on it.

Probably none would be so appealing for him; probably it was not bothering him. After all, for such petty issues, like farmers committing suicides, government nepotism, administrative corruption, government sponsored junkets, etc., his deputy chief minister, ministers and MLAs are there.

After all, he is a person who warns media outfits to ‘bury alive’ if its members ‘insult the state’.

Farmers are dying in Telangana but it’s a non-issue for KCR and his ministers. Drought, unseasonal rains and the mechanism of compensation to farmers have created a mix that has exacerbated the plight of farmers.

But the politicians are enjoying their time-out, like these four along with four others are going to have in Israel.

And it’s symbolic of the overall political culture in India.

‘Politicians are a class above us’ they believe. And it was once again reiterated by the union government of India when its Minister of Civil Aviation, Ashok Gajapati Raju.

He ‘assured’ his fellow parliamentarians (of the political lot) that they will continue to avail the VVIP treatment at the airports.

Now airports are one of the most secure places and an MP can go like you and me to any airport in this country.

While writing so, we must keep in mind that very few of the overall Indians (the common men, the biggest but amorphous votebank) travel by the air and thus have the opportunity to see the airports.

Yet, our parliamentarians think they are above even the selected very few. After all, once in the hallowed halls of Indian policymaking, they feel themselves several notches above even the persons who avail the air travel facility in India (the world’s largest democracy, but with maximum number of poor). Once in the hallowed halls, they feel in a separate class altogether.

And the demand to continue the VVIP treatment at the airports is just one such of many reflections.

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