RAHUL GANDHI AND THE OWNERSHIP PAPERS OF THE RESETTLEMENT COLONIES: THE ALL SO FAMILIAR IRONIES OF INDIAN POLITICS

September 10, 2013 – it was a news heavy day yet again. In the galaxy of two sweeping news events, the verdict in the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape case and Narendra Modi’s rally in Jaipur, almost every other development was scrambling to get some more elusive space.

But on this news heavy day, there was yet another somewhat stuffy news story. Though it was too on the front pages of many newspapers in Delhi, it did not get the attention that a Rahul Gandhi story usually gets.

But that is not the point here. The point is about the news story related to Rahul Gandhi and the associated irony with it, the irony that has become all so familiar by its abundance.

The newsy stuff was Rahul Gandhi was to distribute the freehold ownership papers to the families of 45 resettlement colonies in Delhi. The promoted welfare measure (read opportunistic electoral step) was intended to benefit 7 lakh (700,000) families who were rehabilitated in these resettlement colonies.

On the face of it, for a person unknown to the realities of the Indian politics of the day, it all sounds so socially oriented.

For a person, who is well aware of the demoralizing facts of the Indian politics of the way, it was yet another electoral sop timed and pushed ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in Delhi.

But scratch a little, and the famed irony surfaces. These resettlement colonies were already there by 1980 with most of them built during Indira Gandhi’s days to rehabilitate the slum dwellers.

So, why did it take so many years, over three decades to handover a mere piece of paper to a house-owner, who was already, in principle and in real terms, given the ownership of the house by the government only?

When the land was already demarcated and the residents were already relocated, why did it take the governments so long to give the people their rightful authority over the property that had become their?

But, no one is asking this question. The issue may not be on the radar of the people resettled in these colonies as they were already in hold of their possession, something that was ‘given’ to them at a nominal lease rent, though they could not do many things that a full ownership could have helped them do, because they could never realise the full rights given to them by the Constitution. They could not differentiate between ‘right’ and ‘largesse’.

So, even if there should have been protests over it, no one protested.

It could have been done much earlier. But such measures only come to the fore when politicians find them short of issues to score easy victory in elections. It has become a trend, to deliberately drag the issues to time them according to the poll schedules, no matter how much more good, in real terms, the measures could have done, when properly and timely implemented.

Its glaring example is the United Progressive Alliance’s Food Security Bill. It was in UPA’s 2009 manifesto but could only come to the implementation stage right before the important assembly polls of 2013 (Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattishgarh) and the parliamentary polls of 2014.

Okay, if it would take a year to get it to the legislation and implementation stage, still, it could have been lunched three years ago. It is not that the segment of the population intended to be covered under the Food Security Act was not there three years ago or was not there all these three years. So, going by that, the UPA government should be held guilty for denying millions the right to food security after making a promise. The Indian Economy was certainly in better shape in 2010 than now.

Politicians know voters are fools who don’t realise what is good or bad for them or who is good or bad for them. They know voters are controlled by a myopic vision that obstructs their rational thinking ability and so they can easily be manipulated by the populist electoral sops just before the elections to get that impulsive reaction from them in the form of their vote.

So here, the Congress timed, yet again, an electoral sop to handover the ownership documents to the relocated population of these resettlement colonies just before the assembly elections of Delhi. It is also to be seen with the poll projections that are saying the Congress is going to face a certain defeat.

On target are the 3 million (30 lakh) residents of these colonies, a significant chunk of Delhi’s over 16.5 million population base and a lucrative votebank thus.

What Rahul Gandhi did yesterday, Sonia Gandhi had done before the 2008 assembly polls in Delhi. Then, she had distributed the provisional certificates of regularization to unauthorized colonies. The party had won the polls. Reports say the Congress is preparing for a big rally this month where Sonia Gandhi would distribute the original certificates of regularization to these colonies.

The pile of the ‘familiar irony’ keeps mounting up.

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

TO 2014: NARENDRA MODI VS RAHUL GANDHI – WHERE MODI SCORES

Midst the growing clamour in Bhartiya Janta Party of making Narendra Modi the prime-ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections, he landed in Delhi yesterday. He met the prime-minister and addressed a jam-packed audience at the Sri Ram College of Commerce of Delhi University. Like his proven ability, he delivered a speech that had the audience glued.

And like any Modi movement, the hyperactive media went in frenzy. Modi was all across, painting every news website, inhabiting every news channel. Expect the printed word following the trend when the newspapers come to stands.

Predictably, the focal point was the ‘prospect and contention’ on Narendra Modi’s prime-ministerial candidature and obvious cropping-up of his comparison with Rahul Gandhi.

As the equations and the goings of the moment say, Narendra Modi is having the clear advantage when we project the elements for 2014. Almost every survey report declares him the most popular leader in the country and the most preferred choice as the next prime minister. And it is not without the elements of reason.

Rahul’s chances are fishy. He figures in every such report but Modi has been able to maintain and widen the gap.

So, what are the principle elements that place him ahead of Rahul Gandhi? I see three as the cardinal ones.(Sure, more can be added.)

POLITICAL CAREER – THE ROLE MODEL STUFF

Modi has risen from nowhere, from a family that belonged to the lower stratum of India’s multilayered social weaving. He began his political career as a nonentity, the office boy of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The journey to the political top has been gradually scaled up with hardwork, nothing like a fairytale. That makes Modi role model for millions in a rich country of poor people.

Rahul’s background is elitist. No matter how many night-outs at Dalit huts, he is not going to be able to change this perception. The skepticism only aggravates given Rahul’s short career in active politics that is absolutely short of any significant political and social achievement. Instead, Rahul has, in his account, social blunders like Kalawati, Maval and Bhatta Parsaul. Also, the country is still unaware of Rahul’s intellectual credentials. Rahul may be a political alternative given his Nehru-Gandhi lineage but everything else in his record-book scuttles his chances to be seen as a role model.

ELECTORAL PERFORMANCE

Modi has a proven political track record with three consecutive electoral victories. And mind you, these all have been convincing victories, routing not just the opposition parties, but also the factionalism in his own party fueled by big names including a former chief minister and influential community leader. Also, in last two elections, even the RSS worked anti to him.

Rahul has big electoral failures in his name since he started taking centrestage of the election campaigning for the Congress party. The most notable ones are Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Some assembly victories that came to the Congress party cannot be accorded to Rahul’s stature.

Modi is high on confidence. Rahul must be in introspection mode if he has to do the damage control. Complacency is going to be big killer adding to the misery in an election where the Congress party’s prospects are already being written off.

KNOWING THE CONTEXT – THE EFFECTIVE OUTREACH

Modi is cunningly brilliant to exploit the words of others to his own advantage. He plays the victim card, impregnated with the religious sentiments, subtly well. He knows what to say and how to package his message keeping in mind the audience. He shows a craftsmanship of a corporate communicator here.

On the other hand, Rahul has failed again and again on this front. The emotional quotient that happened to the high point of his political speeches when he had begun his active politics career has become a worn-out and tired element of repetition, added and fueled by poor audience research and lost context. Now Rahul’s speeches attract attention more for their lack of depth and misplaced mode of delivery.

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