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

The complete write-up

‘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 interviewer 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 corruption 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 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 his 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.

There can be alternative ways to look at it.

It tells us about a politician Rahul Gandhi who is subscribed to his viewpoint only believing what he thinks for India’s future is imperative for India and there is no one else but Rahul himself and his party (in the political spectrum) who can achieve it.

It tells us the politician Rahul Gandhi is someone who believes what he thinks deserves to be thought and propagated and what others expect from him may or may not matter. His viewpoint is deep and others’ superficial.

It tells us Rahul believes that the negative factors against Congress and the UPA government can be tackled by giving the people their chance to participate in the process of the ‘politics of change’.

It tells us Rahul believes the negatives factors, an absolutely high anti-incumbency, senseless acts leading to price-rise in every segment and senseless statements on price-rise, epidemic level of political corruption, are not that negative and are hyped up, blaming the media to be unfair of targeting his party and his party’s government.

It tells us about a politician Rahul Gandhi who is not fully aware how difficult it has become to handle the indifference to the Congress party.

It tells us about a politician Rahul Gandhi who still thinks he is in his experimental days of politics and thinks people still think of his ideas as revolutionary, as game-changers. He still thinks people see him as the ‘politician with a difference’ that he initially sounded to be.

It tells us about a politician Rahul Gandhi who still believes people take his family members’ views as true, honest, accepting whatever they say on its face-value.

It tells us about a politician Rahul Gandhi who is talking out of the context of the social and political reality of the India of the day, a social reality where the common man has become so frustrated with the present political system that he prefers a debutant like the Aam Aadmi Party; a political reality where every politician promises to be different and devoted to the cause of the common man when it comes to the elections, but starts behaving as the ruler once he assumes the office.

Then there is an alternative way to look at it, the ‘can also be’ way, on what this line spoken by Rahul Gandhi during his first formal television interview tells us about the politician Rahul Gandhi.

It can also tell us Rahul Gandhi is a mismatch to the political ecosystem of the Congress party as he thinks on high values of a democracy and wants to inculcate the culture in the nation but has not been able to push his ideas further because of the inherent obstacles existent in the work-culture of the Congress party.

If it is so, then it tells us about the fading magnetism of the Nehru-Gandhi family for the Congress politicians, but that is one highly unlikely scenario in the prevailing political circumstances of the country.

If it is so, then it tells us Rahul Gandhi sees an opportunity now to push his agenda further, when the grand old party of India is facing a historically low credibility crisis and other Congress politicians are in no position to raise points of objection.

But these are just the unlikely viewpoints that present an aspect of the Rahul Gandhi persona that suggest what he could have been.

On point of clarity, the most likely and the ‘direct, most possible’ interpretation of Rahul’s ‘may be, you find me strange’, in the prevailing circumstances, is – Rahul Ganndi is ‘still misreading the social and political reality of India and his family’s and Congress’ positioning in all this’.

©/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/

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/

RAHUL GANDHI’S LATEST BRANDING BLITZ: WHAT’S NEW, WHY ALL THIS FUSS?

Why so much of gyan, concern, debate and deliberation over it?

It is an open secret.

Even politicians from economically backward states like Bihar or Jharkhand or politicians from culturally backward states like Haryana or Rajasthan or from Western Uttar Pradesh use them, especially those who have lager game-plan for their political future, like playing a centre-stage role in state polity. And the situation is becoming chronic (or, alternatively, more relevant) with politicians who aspire for sustained and enhanced presence in the national politics.

A Public Relations consultant or a PR consultancy is rapidly becoming the in-thing for them.

I have been approached by some though I did not take the assignments. But I know professionals, at different levels of their PR profile, handling accounts of individual politicians.

Yes, they do all to keep it secret but as said above, such things are always an open secret, at least for them who are in the game.

So, why this fuss over Rahul Gandhi’s branding or we should say the latest episode in Rahul Gandhi’s branding exercise, so much so that the Congress spokespersons had to come forward to issue official denial(s) to the reports.

But it is not a new initiative.

Much has been written over the brand management efforts centered at Rahul Gandhi, his team of strategists, the Team RG, his ‘style’ of politics, his oratory skills and his body language and gestures.

The debate on whether Congress is hiring image-makeover consultants is a misplaced one. Irrespective of the Congress denial, the elements and the frequency of scheduling of the communication campaign of Congress and thus the projection of Rahul Gandhi and his team would tell the public the imprints of professionals behind the exercise and would certainly tell the people who can identify the experts by their work if Dentsu, JWT and Genesis Burson-Marsteller are involved or not.

Also, the exclamatory observations over this Rs. 500 crore are utterly misplaced when we see the cost of the regular political ad campaigns like a ‘Bharat Nirman’ that counts in thousands of crores.

Let’s quote some of the easily searchable (with simple, routine googling) article excerpts from media reports on Congress and Rahul Gandhi’s branding exercise:

Congress ad blitzkrieg in the works – Business Standard, September 12, 2013 (1)
Till date, 11 agencies including JWT, Percept, Crayons, Equus and Grey have made ad pitches to the team comprising Singh, Ajay Maken, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jairam Ramesh, Deepinder Hooda, Vishwajit Prithvijit Singh, Manish Tewari at the party’s ‘War Room’ at GRG Marg. The presentations are then sent to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is likely to be the party’s face of the 2014 campaign. However, the final call, would be taken by Rahul and party president Sonia Gandhi, sources added.

In the last 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Crayons and Percept had bagged the Congress ad contract. No agency had been finalised as yet for this year, said a senior Congress leader.

2014 Elections: Congress signs up JWT for Rs 550-cr poll campaign; to counter Narendra Modi’s ‘claims’ – The Economic Times, September 2013 (2)
Congress has engaged advertising agency JWT for a Rs 500-crore publicity blitz to stymie the challenge posed by BJP’s Narendra Modi and help smoothen its path to a hat-trick in the 2014 general elections by hardselling its welfare credentials.

Ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, JWT, Crayons and Percept had handled the party’s ad campaign, which included purchasing rights of AR Rahman’s Oscar-winning number ‘Jai Ho’.

In 2004, the Congress campaign was mainly handled by Leo Burnett, which packaged its Aam Aadmi messaging that helped the party undercut NDA’s ‘India Shining’ campaign. Some of the work in the 2004 campaign, notably ad films, was handled by Percept, the agency behind the ongoing Bharat Nirmaan campaign.

Congress picks Dentsu, Taproot & JWT for poll ad campaign – The Economic Times, October 8, 2013
The Congress party has opted for many of the same people who were behind its advertising campaign for the 2009 elections, picking Dentsu and Taproot to join JWT as the agencies that will handle the Rs 500 crore contract.

Okay, now these three reports should be enough to gauge for the curious fellows on how regular this practices has been. Yes, most of these reports talk about Congress and poll preparations but only an immature mind (of a communication pro) can see Congress and Rahul differently while preparing a brand management (and thus performance) strategy for Congress.

Also, before this, Rahul was running the show in a roundabout way. Now, he is the face. So, this time, it has to be more direct, centering on him, because stakes are highly unprecedented, highly delicately skewed.

So, if earlier, it was around Congress and projecting Rahul was a part of it, this time, it is going to be around Rahul and Congress is going to follow the leads from projections and imagery about Rahul Gandhi.

The change of guard is going to focus the Rahul Gandhi way of politics (the way he talks about it, especially in post-Aam Aadmi Party scenario) as the central theme of the communication campaign in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

Also, whenever there are no hopes left for the Congress party, as is the case now with absolutely high anti-incumbency against the Manmohan Singh led UPA government, the party leaders has nothing but to look to the Nehru-Gandhi family as the last resort. Now, the effectiveness of this last resort has not been consistent, but at least, it gives the party leaders a point to base their hopes in the atmosphere of 360 Degree gloom.

And to fight this atmosphere of 360 Degree gloom, the Congress party is going to soak itself deeply in the blitzkrieg of a 360 Degree communication campaign employing tools of advertising and public relations hoping it would make for the lost ground.

Rahul Gandhi or Congress taking help of image management consultants for the upcoming general elections is a regular political communication campaign, an effort that has no guarantee of ROI (return on investment), more so, in the prevailing political circumstances.

We saw the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) ‘India Shining’ campaign failing to deliver. The Rahul Gandhi brand management exercise coupled with ‘Bharat Nirman 2.0’ could well be a repeat of the ‘India Shining’ campaign.

The outcome may be as challenging as the evolution of the ownership structures of the advertising and public relations agencies and their holding groups!

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

1 http://www.business-standard.com/article/politics/congress-ad-blitzkrieg-in-the-works-113091100632_1.html
2 http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-09-11/news/41971845_1_jwt-congress-campaign-congress-war-room
3 http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-10-08/news/42829373_1_ad-agencies-congress-party-election-campaign

LOKPAL: THE ‘COMPROMISED’ BILL IS LOGICAL ENOUGH TO BEGIN WITH

We are always free to demand for more and we will..

There have been debates and there will be debates on effectiveness of the just passed Lokpal Bill, to create an anti-corruption ombudsman. Some would dismiss. Some would extol. Some would remain skeptical and would prefer to wait and watch.

What was being demanded by the civil society was not a practical one. What was being given by the government was not an acceptable one.

But, the Bill passed ‘finally’ by the Indian Parliament on December 18, can be seen, more or less as an acceptable one to begin with. Broadly, it paves the way for an ombudsman that if implemented in time, with proper infrastructure and with supportive legislations like the Citizen Charter Bill, the Judicial Accountability Bill and the Whistleblowers Protection Bill can prove really effective in spite of the reservations over many of its provisions.

The need is to develop a good ecosystem with all these constituents. Yes, we all know it’s easier said than done. And given the prevalence of political opportunism in India, we know it’s not going to be easy.

But, at least, we have a point to begin now.

The fight has been a long and circuitous one and this outcome should not be seen as a washout and should not be rejected outright. The Bill was to be passed and was to be enacted if we had to move ahead, from planning to implementations stage.

And if it could happen so, finally, after 45 or 50 years, any which way we want to look at it, it owes much to the hugely successful anti-corruption movement of 2011, especially its April and August legs that bolsters the feeling the Indians are learning to express their displeasure more and more expressively, more and more aggressively.

And that is a point to reflect on, to hope positively that an anti-corruption ecology around the Lokpal, with some other corresponding laws, can be created.

The basic requirement is the pressure from the public and its manifestation. It is good that public is increasingly expressing itself, more and more, and spontaneously, with or without a leader, as happened during the 2011 anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, as happened during the huge leaderless public protests in the aftermath of December 16 Delhi gangrape and recently in the unprecedented electoral mandate to the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi assembly polls, a party that fought on the issue of corruption and successfully exploited the public sentiments mobilized after the 2011 anti-corruption movement.

So, there is an ecology of pressure being built up. And on its target are the present ways of administration and governance by the mainstream political parties of India.

On the face of it, there are many good points in the Lokpal Bill/Act cleared. It has power to prosecute. It can check every government official including the prime minister. The process of Lokpal’s appointment and dismissal is fairly logical.

These basic rules to establish and govern the institution of the anti-corruption ombudsman are broad enough to give it a good enough space to breath, to make others suffocate.

See the good precedent set by the Election Commission of India and the Comptroller & Auditor General of India, both chosen by the Indian government. The regularly increasing voter turn-out election after election and clean and violence-free elections or consistent reports putting the government on back-foot on corruption and scams like 2G, different land and defense deals have become benchmarks of the Indian Democracy.

So, there is no reason to dismiss the Lokpal even before it starts working, when it has good enough autonomy to begin with.

It is true it is a ‘compromised’ bill with politicians putting their ‘sincere’ efforts to dilute it as much as they could in the prevailing sociopolitical scenario. So, there is some tough fighting ahead to iron out the difficulties once the institution gets operational. Even in that case, it would be much easier to bring amendments to introduce the required element of reform than not having the Lokpal at all.

One of the most talked about omissions is excluding the lower bureaucracy from Lokpal’s purview areas. That is a concern area but it is not something that can not be added later provided there is intent or there is pressure to do so.

If public pressure can panic the politicians to the extent that they can pass the Bill in just 10 days after Congress routing in Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and AAP’s grand entry in Delhi in the election results announced on December 8, it can certainly push them to do so.

While a government of an outfit like AAP should happily, on its own, weed out the weaker elements, even a government of any of the mainstream political party would not be able to skirt the demand then, in an environment of a more aware electorate and more alert activists amid an increasing presence of alternative political parties and politicians like AAP or Arvind Kejriwal. AAP’s success in Delhi is bound to give India more of honest, young and unorthodox politicians in the days to come.

Alternatively, there can be this relevant afterthought. Corruption has made every part of the Indian administrative and governance machinery largely sluggish and docile.

As it affects every sphere of Indian life, its social, political and commercial activities, it has exported corruption to almost every section of Indian society, free of caste, class, religion and regional divides. It has made corruption interdependent and interrelated.

So, in a way, if we say, if we can check the corruption in the government at top level, setting some tough precedents, it can set in motion a ripple effect, that, though will take time, will trickle down to other participants, the NGO people, the lower-ranked bureaucracy and the corporate people, who are not covered under the Lokpal Act.

If there can be a check at the top level corruption, and if there can be some tough and landmark punitive action taken, some examples on this line, it will send down a clear message.

Also, when the government corruption at top level would see its avenues to earn easy money being squeezed out, it would certainly feel unhappy to see others still milking the cow.

Nothing like rocket science in thinking so – if they cannot eat, they will not let others eat – if they cannot earn easy money – they will not let others do so – the forced honesty!

So, in checking them, they would be more and more impartial, would be increasingly objective and detached.

Just an afterthought!

But I am not daydreaming folks! The Lokpal is here and that is a good sign; that is a logical reason to prepare for the next stage of the fight – to let it evolve into an effective institution.

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

LOKPAL BILL PASSED: IN 10 DAYS FLAT!

The Lok Sabha passed the Lokpal Bill yesterday paving the way for its implementation. Implementation – that is the big, another complicated battle lying next.

Passage of a ‘compromised’ bill with some good and some ‘can and to be manipulated’ features is just half the battle won.

And the day comes after 45 years if we begin with 1968 when a related legislation was tried for the first time in the Indian Parliament or it may be after 50 years if we take the first discussion on an anti-corruption ombudsman in 1963 in the Indian Parliament as the point to begin.

And see the brazenness of the political class who kept delaying it for so long, for five decades, is now singing paeans of its efforts, of being the anti-corruption champions.

Now who is going to tell them again that we are not fools? Okay, we, as electors, have acted and act erratically and foolishly every now and then, but many of us are not fools.

Yes, we didn’t have options. All in the political lot were similar. So many of us didn’t vote or if voted, we went for the best of the available, even if we were not satisfied.

We needed option. NOTA is now one. Yes, we cannot say the Aam Aadmi Party way is an option but its remarkable electoral show in Delhi tells us and everyone in clear terms that anti-corruption is the central poll plank and is going to play big in the upcoming general elections scheduled for next April-May.

The AAP show tells the politicians about centrality of corruption as ‘the’ poll plank and to ‘look’ sincere on anti-corruption measures. And this centrality forced the mainstream political parties to go into a huddle, to form an ‘alliance’ to pass the Lokpal Bill, and that too, in 10 days flat.

Yes, 10 days, since December 8, when the assembly election results of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were announced, results that gave AAP, the one-year old political debutant, 28 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly making it the second largest party after BJP’s 31 seats. And AAP’s success has its origin in the hugely successful anti-corruption movement of 2011 for Lokpal led by Anna Hazare the epicenter of which was Delhi.

The aspect that is to be seen here is how the politicians came back to their tricks of delaying the Bill once the anti-corruption movement got derailed in 2012. In spite of passing a lame and inefficient bill in Lok Sabha in December 2011, they were not sincere to pass even this diluted version, and they did not present it, debated it or pass it, until the assembly election results of December 8, when they were slapped hard by the electorate on the issue of corruption.

Before this, their arrogance was dismissing the corruption plank, the anti-corruption movement was being seen as long dead and they were back to treat the Indian masses having short memory believing they would forget the acts of political corruption soon.

Had it been for a poor show by AAP in Delhi, even Anna Hazare’s ongoing fast would not have ensured such a ‘lightening fast’ passage of the Lokpal Bill by the Indian Parliament.

But the Delhi public had an option this time that was ‘unlike’ the others in the political fraternity and though yet to be proven, it went for them.

And that forced the mainstream political class to scramble to ‘at least look sincere’ on coming down heavily on corruption and this forced-necessity pushed them to pass the ‘compromised’ Lokpal Bill, the many provisions of which can still be killer for the corrupt politicians and officials, in a hurry, because there is no time left in the big political battle, the Lok Sabha polls.

Their scare and not their commitment that the centrality of corruption as the poll issue may reflect across the country in the 2014 general elections made them pass the bill in such haste.

And dear political folks, we realise it.

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

LOKPAL, LALU AND CONGRESS-RJD ALLIANCE: THE POLITICAL CACOPHONY CONTINUES

On one side, there is going to be this rat-race to take credit on who got the Lokpal loaded finally into the enactment line of the legislative procedure, with a rush to loot the ‘certificate’ of being the anti-corruption harbinger in a country where corruption has been at alarming levels and where it is has just found the status of being the central poll plank to become the dominant factor in the Indian elections with Aam Aadmi Party’s stunning debut in Delhi, ironically, the events happening concurrently, once again confirm, on the same day, the duplicitous nature of these claimants and their make-shift honest intentions.

Though, there is an amicable atmosphere prevailing right now in sharing the mileage from the outcome, it is bound to get stinky as the Lok Sabha polls approach near. And the ones in the ruling coalition, who will be crying over the top in taking the credit – their acts, on the day itself, were defying their very intent.

Consider this.

Lalu Yadav, who has been convicted and sentenced with five years of imprisonment under anti-corruption charges leveled against him in the much publicized Fodder Scam of Bihar, is given a grand welcome, after he walks out of jail after getting bail from the Supreme Court, after spending 8 weeks in the jail.

There was elation. There was jubilation. And there was celebration. One could not say if there was anything demoralizing being felt on his part, in the camp of Lalu Yadav, the former Bihar chief minister and the former rail minister. It seemed after being convicted and jailed, Lalu has got his acceptability even more increased.

And this Lalu says Sonia Gandhi, the number one in Congress, in the UPA and in the government and politically the most powerful person in India (save some big corporate names) called him to express her happiness on getting bail and walking out of jail. A Times of India report quoted him: “Congress president Sonia Gandhi had telephoned me after my release from Ranchi jail. She graciously extended greetings to me and expressed happiness over my release, Prasad told reporters.”

Okay, we do not have any right to comment on if it is a personal matter. But once it gets into the domain of forging political alliances, it becomes a public matter. And the way Lalu is speaking on forging alliance with Congress and supporting the Congress PM candidate for the upcoming general elections gives us valid reason to raise questions.

It is sure we are going to have another addition in list of repetitions that Rahul would tells us again and again in his electoral rallies – we gave you the Lokpal, we passed the Lokpal Bill, like he claims about RTI, Food Bill and other policy measures.

How pathetic, how phony, how ironic it would sound then claiming to be the anti-corruption crusaders while forging alliances with those convicted by the courts for their corrupt activities!

But, then, it not the first time for them, the politicians! Isn’t it?

Yes, but the two developments coincided ironically on the same day, when reported today, giving us yet another reason to remain beware of the difference between what our politicians say and what they do; to remain alert to the disconnect between their promises and their intent.

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

RAHUL GANDHI: FROM WORDS OF DECEMBER 8 TO WORDS OF DECEMBER 14 – WHERE IS THE CHANGE?

Some six days ago, on December 8 evening, after much cry, after much of the hoarse jugglery, after much humiliation of the miserable of the lot that day, the Congress spokespersons, Rahul Gandhi came forward, flanked and supported by his mother and the Congress party numero uno, Sonia Gandhi, and he said (smiling but in his familiar aggressive style, though without the gestures of his moving hands) it in a way like making a grand proclamation.

And he said (quoting the Wall Street Journal*): Through these elections, the people have delivered a message. That message has been taken by me and our party not just with our minds, but with our hearts. The Congress party has the ability to transform itself, to stand up to the expectations of the people of this country and the Congress party is going to do that.

I am going to put all my efforts in transforming the organization of the Congress party and…give you an organization that you can be proud of and has your voice embedded inside it.

I think the Aam Aadmi Party has involved a lot of people who the traditional parties did not involve. We are going to learn from that and we are going to do a better job than anyone else in the country in ways that you cannot imagine right now.

And for aggression, another media report (the Indian Express**) said: Rahul said he would work aggressively to make the organisational changes that are needed.

Talking big, enumerating the grand, it would have been so good for Indian politics but for the many let-downs after the ‘Kalawati’ speech delivered by Rahul Gandhi in the Parliament in 2008.

And yesterday was yet another.

Like always, there were demands for Rahul Gandhi to get more communicating, more interactive, more involved, after the drubbing of the Congress party in the assembly polls in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

And surprisingly, Rahul Gandhi did come forward on December 8, offering his vision of ‘days ahead’ in some nicely spoken, introspective words the excerpts of which are in italics here.

So, when it was conveyed yesterday that Rahul Gandhi would hold a press conference on Lokpal, it was interesting to watch what he was going to speak, whether the introspective words spoken in the evening of December 8 were going to have any effect.

But, the tradition of ‘let-downs’ continued that evening.

The presser was a brief one with Rahul speaking what we have been listening to and what we do not want to listen to anymore (even the electorate spoke so this time). Even for Rahul to emerge on the line of the expectations he had raised when he had begun his political career, he needs to put a different approach in place now, moving in action, and not just in words.

But worse, the second public appearance, after the introspective words of December 8 evening sounded hollow even on words.

He spoke to sound dismissive of Anna Hazare’s ongoing protest Fast for the Lokpal Bill, AAP’s stunning success in Delhi assembly election being a reason behind the sudden attentiveness in the government to pass the Bill in the Winter Session of the Parliament, and thus the public’s eagerness and the sense of urgency in looking for a political change away from the mainstream political lot of the country.

Had it been for the validity of the introspective words of December 8 evening, he should have accepted honestly that these developments indeed were the primary factors behind the sudden spurt in the attentiveness to get the Lokpal Bill passed.

Instead, once again, he chose to shield the empty rhetoric of ‘everything good in India is by Congress’ with empty claims of Congress enacting the RTI Act and UPA’s other anti-corruption efforts. Listening to such claims again and again, from representatives of a government that is undoubtedly the most corrupt of the governments in India, makes all this so disconcerting, and goes directly against Rahul Gandhi.

When would Rahul Gandhi and the Team Rahul Gandhi understand it?

When would Rahul Gandhi and his team of strategists understand that they need to stop treating the voters as the perennial fools who cannot not think why the RTI Act took two decades of struggle to get passed and why the Lokpal Bill is still not there even after over four decades of ‘history of debacles’ in spite of Congress being in the government most of the time?

Accepting the faults gracefully and moving ahead accordingly (not just in words) would make him more acceptable among the youth and larger population base and he needs to realize it soon.

The humiliating defeat of the grand old party of India, the Congress party, in the recently concluded assembly elections, was yet another warning call for the party strategists. But are there any takers?

..message taken with heart..expectations..transformation..pushing aggressively..the words spoken on December 8 evening and now comes the December 14 afternoon!

This evening’s presser by Rahul Gandhi, flanked by some senior ministers of the Manmohan Singh government says NO.

Certainly not a way to involve the ‘Aam Aadmi’, the common man of India, in the changing times!

Certainly not a way to a more involved, more participative Rahul Gandhi!

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