BYPOLLS SETBACK TO BJP: THE FLAVOUR OF THE POLITICAL BUZZ

It is the season of assembly elections. Maharashtra and Haryana elections are due in October and Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir should be held by the end of this year and so, the flavour of the talk of the season are the results of the bye-elections held in the assembly constituencies.

And the results pinching the winning party of the Lok Sabha elections have added spice to the flavour of the political buzz and debates with an amplified crescendo. Anyway, the outcomes of the Lok Sabha bye-elections were on the expected lines and so there was not much to talk about.

The pointing point while writing this is, the BJP is feeling the heat, after a great reversal in its electoral fortunes in most of the assembly constituencies where elections were held.

And from the viewpoint of the political communication machinery, such ‘buzz-worthy’ outcomes, when the bigger assembly elections are just around the corner, are frustrating for the party-workers, but are the moral-boosters for the political opponents, and can become big enough a factor if played well on the electoral sentiments focusing on the impulsive reactions of the voter.

And that should worry the BJP strategists, even if they don’t admit it publicly.

BJP’s national president Amit Shah today advised his party workers to not get demoralized with the bye-election results yesterday (or to say, in the past that is being counted after May 16, 2014 when the Lok Sabha election results were announced), the past that includes bye-election defeats in the July 21 bypolls in Uttarakhand (3 assembly constituencies-ACs) and in the August 21 bypolls in Bihar (10 ACs), Madhya Pradesh (3 ACs), Karnataka (3 ACs) and Punjab (2 ACs).

The BJP could not win any seat in Uttarakhand. The results of the August 21 bye-elections, held for 18 assembly constituencies spread across Bihar Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab were an unacceptable 8-18 for the BJP. And here, the BJP lost its face in Bihar.

In the September 13 bye-elections, the results of which were declared yesterday (except Antagarh in Chhattisgarh where the counting will be held on September 20), the BJP and its allies had 25 out of the 32 assembly constituencies for which the counting was held today. The BJP alone had 24 of the 33 seats including Antagarh.

But it could win just 12 of 32. With allies, the total was 13, with TDP’s Nandigama win in Andhra Pradesh.

The BJP had all of 11 seats (one with ally Apna Dal) in Uttar Pradesh where the bye-elections were held. It registered an impressive performance in all these assembly segments in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was winner in 10.

But in the September 13 bye-elections, it lost 8. More importantly, the loss includes Uma Bharti’s constituency Charkhari that she vacated after winning the Jhansi Lok Sabha seat, and Rohaniya in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency. The seat was held by Apna Dal. Interestingly, Modi had got around 1.20 Lakh votes from this assembly segment in the Lok Sabha election.

In Gujarat, Modi’s home state and his comfortable political turf since 2000, though the BJP won 6 out of 9 constituencies, in fact, the BJP lost 3 seats to Congress as these 9 seats were won by the party in 2012 assembly elections as well as in 2014 Parliamentary Elections.

In Rajasthan, the party lost 3 of the 4 seats. BJP had won all 4 seats in the previous polls.

And the BJP had performed exceedingly well in these states just four months ago.

Overall, the BJP and its allies went down from 25-7 out of 32 to 13-19 yesterday, after the 8-18 tally in August bye-elections, within four months of an unprecedented victory and overwhelming support to the Modi Factor.

It is another warning call, especially before the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana the next month.

The loss is huge, symbolically and electorally. The victory on a seat in West Bengal and on one in Assam, state assemblies where it opened its accounts independently for the first time, are not going to be of much help except being the consolation prizes.

These are unsettling developments and the BJP strategists need to act like they are really worried. Amit Shah’s advice could have emerged from such a thinking over it. But mere advising will not help, given the factors that led to the BJP this debacle in just four months after an unprecedented, almost miraculous victory. The factors include the ‘pride’ of a big win and the subsequent big brother attitude and the resultant tension with allies, complacency, excessive dependence on the Modi Factor even if the elections are to be fought along the local fault-lines, infighting and the lack of focus on the context of the elections.

These are high talking points and have the potential to generate the buzz in a matter of days that could effectively dent the chances. And it has begun, the bye-elections results show it, even if it has nothing to do with Narendra Modi, his government and the Modi Factor.

And if left to continue, it will ultimately dampen the Modi Factor and will dent his political legacy that has just begun to take shape at the national level.

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

INSTANT TAKEAWAYS FROM SEPTEMBER 13 BYPOLL RESULTS

The BJP and its allies had 25 out of the 32 assembly constituencies for which the counting was held today.

From 25-7 out of 32 (counting of votes for the Antagarh assembly constituency bye-election in Chhattisgarh will be held on September 20) to 13-19 today, after the 8-18 tally in August bye-elections, within four months of an unprecedented victory and overwhelming support to the Modi Factor, it is another wakeup call, and the warning signals are speaking aloud, especially before the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana the next month.

And it instantly set in motion the expected developments.

— The political opposition is an enlightened lot while the Bhartiya Janata Party spokespersons are on defensive.

— The political opposition will react for sometime as if the who BJP win has been undone.

— The secular Vs communal is the flare of the day.

— With it, ‘Modi Wave’ waning or dented is one of the main headlines.

— The allies on the backfoot of seat-sharing talks before the upcoming elections are even more on upswing after another shot. Remember Uddhav Thakeray had hit back immediately on the BJP’s big brother attitude after its poor show in August 21 bye-elections.

— Talks of uniting the anti-BJP front are getting renewed impetus, especially after Bahujan Samaj Party’s absence proving to be a major factor behind the BJP humiliation in Uttar Pradesh.

— Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family will be stronger by one more member in the Indian Parliament.

— Though Rohaniya assembly constituency in Varanasi, Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, has never been a BJP stronghold, its ally Apna Dal’s loss here will be discussed as such linking it with Modi’s debacle in his constituency that he is working to develop as a world class heritage city. Here what goes against Modi in such discussions is Modi had got around 1.20 Lakh votes from this assembly segment in Lok Sabha election this year while the Apna Dal candidate lost it this time by a margin of around 15000 votes and could secure only around 60,000 votes.

— Some satirical takes/political cartoons on Amit Shah, the BJP President, crowned after BJP’s brilliant show in Uttar Pradesh that he managed, will be put in planning, especially after the poll drubbings in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar bye-elections within four months of the epic show in these two states counting for 120 parliamentary constituencies.

So, be ready with the alignments and their day-specific consequences.

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

SEPTEMBER 13 BYPOLL RESULTS: ANOTHER SETBACK FOR BJP AND NARENDRA MODI

Narendra Modi is in Delhi while writing this but he would be heading to the state he comes from this evening to receive the Chinese President Xi Jinping who is arriving in Ahmedabad tomorrow.

It is after Hu Jintao’s 2006 visit that a Chinese President is visiting India for bilateral talks and the stage has been set in a way to tap some lucrative business deals running in billions of US$, and in spite of all the border skirmishes, the strategists and the communication people are painting up a rosy picture advocating soft approach to the controversial issues as of now. China is eyeing the Indian infrastructure market having potential worth trillions of US$ in the long run. India would also like to tap the Chinese market with increased depth. An increasing financial focus to the bilateral ties has the potential to change many factors for positive outcomes.

And so, there are the expectations of a growing thaw after the Summit is over. And so, the economy of bonhomie has set the table so far, as far as the latest round of India-China diplomacy is concerned. And so, there is a sense of positivity in the government circles, adding to the sentiments on ‘initiatives to deliver the promises made by Narendra Modi’.

But Narendra Modi would certainly be having mixed feelings now, even if he has emerged as a strong prime minister, after the second consecutive electoral drubbing in the bye-elections in less than a month. It is not just in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where Bhartiya Janata Party performed exceedingly well, that it is facing a situation to look for face-saver and inept excuses, it is also in Gujarat, the state that Narendra Modi ruled effectively since 2000.

In Gujarat, while writing this, though the trends changed to give the BJP a clear edge with the party leading in 6 seats out of 9 the bye-elections were held for, the initial trends showed Congress giving a neck-to-neck fight with leading in almost equal number of seats. In fact, the BJP may lose 3 seats to Congress as these 9 seats (and the assembly segments of parliamentary constituencies) were won by the BJP in 2012 assembly elections as well as in 2014 Parliamentary Elections.

Barring few bad patches, Modi’s government and its governance in Gujarat were remarkable, something that gave him the platform to raise aspirations of people across the country and an opportunity to stake claims to the Delhi’s office based on the promise to deliver them.

People were reeling under the pressure of the bad governance by the Congress party led United Progressive Alliance government, especially during its second term (2009-2014). The desperate urge to get rid of the UPA government find its refuge in Narendra Modi’s promises.

That gave the BJP and Narendra Modi an unprecedented victory, something unmatched in the recent political history of India, and a ‘possible’ option to enjoy the honeymoon period after assuming the office.

But the bye-election results say there was indeed no honeymoon period and the government was wrong if it thought so. Yes, nothing groundbreaking can be done in just four months, the groundbreaking efforts that India need to come out of the mess the UPA government had left it in.

But people are reacting. The voter is expressing his/her disagreement. And discussing the voter’s prerogative on the parameters of practical concerns of effective governance would be a futile exercise given the sociopolitical realities of India where majority of the people come from below-the-poverty-line and the lower middle class segments and find their lives engaged in the daily and monthly struggles to survive the increasing price-rise and other myriad of problems. Their day-to-day concerns are what matter for them and not the intricate matters of country’s fiscal health.

And majority of them are quality illiterate, we need to accept it. They are still swayed easily. That has been a major factor behind the BJP’s overwhelming victory with the party getting majority on its own. And this is something that is happening in these bye-elections as well, albeit on a reversed scale.

That would be and that should be in Narendra Modi’s mind. When he lands in Ahmedabad this evening, he must be thinking about the outcomes of these two bye-elections.

From an ordinary voter’s perspective, he has been voted in not for the BJP’s promises but for his legacy. And the outcomes must worry him.

The results of the August 21 bye-elections, held for 18 assembly constituencies spread across Bihar (10), Karnataka (3), Madhya Pradesh (3) and Punjab (2), were an unacceptable 8-18 for the BJP.

And the results of this round of bye-elections held on September 13 for three Lok Sabha constituencies and 32 assembly constituencies (Antagarh in Chhattigarh will be declared later) spread across 10 states should be even more unsettling for the BJP strategists.

The BJP had all of 11 seats (one with ally Apna Dal) in Uttar Pradesh where the bye-elections were held. It registered an impressive performance in all these assembly segments in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was winner in 10. But in the September 13 polls, it is going to lose 9 while writing this. More importantly, the loss includes Uma Bharti’s constituency Charkhari that she vacated after winning the Jhansi Lok Sabha seat, and Rohaniya in Varanasi, prime minister Narendra Modi’s constituency. The seat was held by Apna Dal.

In Gujarat, as written above, it is trailing in 3 while writing this, and is expected to lose.

In Rajasthan, the party has lost 3 of the 4 seats elections were held for with almost confirmed trends. BJP had won all 4 seats in the previous polls.

Overall, the BJP and its allies had 25 out of the 32 seats (including Telugu Desham Party’s 1 in Andhra Pradesh) on the counting blocks today. While writing this, they are going to lose 15 of them today. The loss is huge, symbolically and electorally. The possible victory on a seat in West Bengal or the last minute changes in counting trends on some of these 15 seats are not going to help.

For the parliamentary constituencies, as expected, being the strongholds of political stalwarts like Narendra Modi, K Chandrasekhara Rao and Mulayam Singh Yadav, the outcomes followed the line. Vadodara was retained by the BJP. Medak went to Telangana Rashtra Samiti. And Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family got another of its member elected to the Parliament from Mainpuri.

From 25-7 out of 32 (or 26-7 out of 33, if we count Antagarh) to 10-22 (or 11-22, if we assume Antagarh goes to the BJP) today, after the 8-18 tally in August bye-elections, within four months of an unprecedented victory and overwhelming support to the Modi Factor, it is another wakeup call, and the warning signals are speaking aloud, especially before the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana the next month.

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

AUSTERITY IS BACK: UPA SHAM YET AGAIN

AUSTERECTOMY=AUSTERITY VASECTOMIED

Heil! Heil! Heil!

Heil the Political Class of the world’s largest ‘demo’cracy!

Heil the politicians of India!

The sham is on display, yet again, in the trademark Indian politics way. After creating the situation to let the Indian Economy bleed, they are here again, to make rough patch-ups that don’t leave any effect.

And very skillfully, like they have messed up the Indian Economy in the last four years, they have kept their lavish lives out of the proposed austerity measures.

The proposed measures on travel restrictions, recruitment ban, guidelines for conferences, air travel, etc., target basically the government officials and the common man.

The political lords are out of its ambit to give them the free run during the election time. Anyway, they have always been beyond the reach of such measures. What applies for the common man doesn’t apply for them.

After all, it is their right to put the Indian Economy in trouble with measures like a wrongly timed food security act at a time when the prices are going up, Rupee is going down and the Economy is staring at yet another sluggish phase.

And one thing is particularly sham about these sham austerity measures.

These measures are announced regularly. In fact, announcing the cosmetic measures in the name of austerity has become a regular practice since the global economic crisis of 2008.

But no one knows how the measures are implemented. The country is never presented with any assessment report of such austerity measures adopted. Simply, because the measures are sham.

We come to know when the austerity guidelines are announced because that serves the purpose of propaganda.

We never come to know what happens to the guidelines post-announcement because that serves the purpose to maintain the veil over the sham.

Heil Austerectomy!

SOME WRITE-UPS IN THE AUSTERECTOMY SERIES

AUSTERECTOMY
http://severallyalone.blogspot.in/2012/06/austerectomy.html

AUSTERITY HO!
http://severallyalone.blogspot.in/2012/06/austerity-ho.html

AUSTERE MANMOHAN SPLURGES – COMFORTABLY, SELECTIVELY NUMB
http://severallyalone.blogspot.in/2012/09/austere-manmohan-splurges-comfortably.html

NO AUSTERITY PLEASE, OUR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT ARE STUDYING HARD
http://severallyalone.blogspot.in/2012/08/no-austerity-please-our-members-of.html

AUSTERITY HO! THE ULTRA-RICH BUCCANEER ELITES
http://severallyalone.blogspot.in/2012/06/austerity-ho-ultra-rich-buccaneer-elites.html

NERO’S AUSTERITY
http://severallyalone.blogspot.in/2012/05/neros-austerity.html

3000 DAYS ABROAD IN TWO YEARS – UPA MINISTERS WORKING TOO HARD
http://severallyalone.blogspot.in/2012/10/3000-days-abroad-in-two-years-upa.html

3000 DAYS ABROAD IN TWO YEARS – OUR LORDS WOULD REMAIN OUR LORDS
http://severallyalone.blogspot.in/2012/10/3000-days-abroad-in-two-years-our-lords.html

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

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/

WHAT MADE MANMOHAN SINGH EULOGIZE RAHUL GANDHI IN SO CLEAR TERMS NOW?

This is the second time in a fortnight when Manmohan Singh has spoken and this time, the second time, he has created a lot of buzz through his words. Now pundits are busy interpreting what he meant and political folks are busy endorsing, denying or critiquing what he said.

I am not a pundit and I don’t have any intention to be the one but our dear Manmohan, the comfortably-numb-economist-turned-poor politician-cum-weak prime minister, pushes me again and again to write on what he speaks, on what he does.

Manmohanji, my sincere apologies, but as you have the right to speak selectively and be answerable to the nation selectively, I have the right to write on you whenever my urge pushes me to write, and writing on something that you speak that is uncharacteristic of you or something that makes for some unlikely ‘dramatic’ stuff from an expressionless face like you is a natural extension of that right.

So, where were we? Okay, Manmohan Singh speaking something on Rahul Gandhi yet again, but this time, in clearer terms. To put him in his words precisely, let’s quote him from a media report on what he illuminated us with about Rahul Gandhi while returning from the G20 Summit in St Petersburg. He said: “I have always maintained that Rahul Gandhiji would be an ideal choice for the prime minister’s position after the 2014 election. I would be very happy to work for the Congress party under the leadership of Mr Rahul Gandhi.”

In past, on more than one occasion, Manmohan has endorsed Rahul Gandhi’s candidature but he was never ever so clear. In fact, in the series of ‘Rahul Gandhi’ endorsements, he endorsed even himself for the third term, like he did in April when he said ‘he was not ruling it in; he was not ruling it out’.

So, what made him eulogize Rahul Gandhi in so clear terms now?

Can it by the growing realisation that he has lost all his credibility and it is better to step aside now? But, why then he added he would be happy to work under Rahul Gandhi? Haven’t we seen more than enough of him?

Or alternatively,

Can it be the growing realisation in the Congress party that it can still win the next parliamentary polls riding on the triple factors of (1) a scattered political opposition, (2) a divided house – Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Narenrda Modi and (3) the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) populist electoral measures like ‘direct cash transfer, food security and land acquisition bills’ and so, it is the time to play from the front, to put forward the Congress scion for that elusive prime-ministerial chair that has been ditching the Nehru-Gandhi family for over two decades now?

Or,

Is it the dawn of ‘right’ realisation in Manmohan’s thinking that UPA is not going to win back even if counting the return of all the populist election sops in and it is the time to settle the score (by shifting the axis of electoral loss away from him) by clearly endorsing the name of Rahul Gandhi so as to give some definitive push to the demand of almost every Congress politician to project Rahul Gandhi as the prime-ministerial nominee for the next parliamentary polls in 2014? There have been real-time speculations on Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh differences, especially on extreme push for the populist sops when the economy is in tatters, something that is directly ominous for the brand Manmohan Singh; something that has played a pivotal rule in bringing down Manmohan’s fame, obviously, in collaboration with the ‘compulsions of the coalition politics’.

Anyway, if Manmohan’s words come true, he will give India its yet another ‘first’ – this will be the first time in India’s political history that an ex-prime minister would take a junior job in his party’s future government.

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

WHY ADVANI HAD TO DO IT?

No one can say anything about this ‘why’ with certainty except L K Advani but in doing so, he unwittingly gives the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Congress the breather that the corruption-tainted party and the alliance have been looking for, especially after the decimation it faced in the recently held bypolls where Narendra Modi performed exceedingly well.

Let’s do some wild-analysing (with some guesses):

Was it a fad of an octogenarian who was angry after his line was not taken into account in an organization that he had been a founding member of?

If that is so, like almost of the grandpas, Advani too, would be mollified after he is made feel that his importance in the outfit is still intact. Political developments are well on that way. The whole Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) leadership is in a huddle and Mr. Advani’s resignation has been rejected unanimously.

Or Mr. Adavani was worried about the larger picture that Mr. Modi’s elevation as the BJP poll committee chairman for the 2014 general elections would cause irreparable splits in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and would repel the potential allies that might join the NDA as the election approached near. Mr. Modi has a communally controversial image that many political outfits fear to identify with.

But that communally controversial image may be the biggest vote multiplier for the BJP and NDA as well because Narendra Modi is the only leader in the country who can polarize the Hindu votes across the caste and class divides. If that happens, the BJP and NDA would easily sail through.

Or according to a colleague who opined that Rajnath Singh could not have taken such a big decision without Advani’s consent and this whole drama was BJP orchestrated to generate buzz around BJP’s national executive meet in Goa and around the party as a whole.

He was of the opinion that BJP’s presence in media and in public’s perception was getting monotonous and the party was in desperate need to create some high-voltage coverage to make BJP a buzz word again right before the take-off phase of the upcoming general elections scheduled for 2014 but developments say that it might well be held in 2013 itself.

Or let me add to it that the brand Narendra Modi was getting bigger than the brand BJP and the BJP central leadership including Mr. Advani was wary of it.

As the developments are progressing, it tells the gamble is well on the way of paying dividends with the whole nation and the media glued to the events going live and the whole BJP leadership at the doorsteps of Advani’s residence to mollify him to take his resignation back. Reportedly, Advani is unhappy with Modi. Now if Advani prevails, it will place the brand BJP above the brand Narendra Modi again.

But the burning question remains – can Advani lead the BJP and the NDA to the victory in the upcoming parliamentary elections?

Even Modi cannot be claimed to work some magic for the BJP in the next elections but one thing is certainly clear that Modi is far bigger, probably the tallest vote-puller for the BJP and the NDA than Advani in the prevailing political circumstances.

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

CAN’T SAY IF BHARAT NIRMAN DID HAPPEN, AND LO! HERE COMES YET ANOTHER UPA-II AD-SPEND BLOOPER

We are going to be burdened (indirect effects of which we are to feel later that might come in form of some more subsidy cuts) a bit more and as usual, it is the immense wisdom of our comfortably numb prime minister Manmohan Singh that is (or going to be at play again) at play again.

But before going into that let’s scratch our heads to know a little that what Rs 200 crore can do the life of some ordinary Indians:

Let’s take a simple corollary. India is the youngest nation in the world and millions of its young representatives are staring at the prospect of a stable livelihood.

To go into that let’s pan across some data:

  1. ‘Around 7 crore people are unemployed or underemployed in India’ said Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge in Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian Parliament) last December.
  1. According to an assessment from the latest Economic Survey of India report, the per capita income of India at current prices in 2012-13 was around Rs 5200 (with the national average of Rs 61,564 an year).

According to an exclusive story by the daily DNA (www.dnaindia.com – DNA exclusive: UPA-II’s India story is going abroad, for Rs200 crore, June 6, 2013), the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is planning to launch a massive advertising campaign to go for an overseas image makeover to address the brand UPA hara-kiri and disgrace. The report says: “After being battered at home and abroad, the UPA government is planning a Rs200-crore blitzkrieg to shore up its nirman story with a desperate bid to woo foreign institutional investors, particularly from North America, western Europe and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations.”

What does it mean for you and me and for an Indian who elects the people who make the governments like the UPA?

Nothing, except, some more misuse of the resources that were supposed to be used for the betterment of the public by the ‘people from among the public elected by the public’!

Rs 5200 per month, we all know that it is not a level of income to lead a satisfactory standard of living but let’s see what 200 crore can do for a rich country of poor where millions survive on less than 2$ a day.

This Rs 200 crore can employ around 3.2 lakh people for a year with Rs 5200 in monthly emolument. If we consider an average family size of four members, it effectively adds to the support system of 3.2 lakh families or around 1.3 million people in those families.

See! This much of the resources are going to be wasted again and this much, like always, like the Rs 150 crore for the recently re-launched Bharat Nirman campaign, would be taken out from the public fund that is supposed to be used for the public betterment. Okay, the government would justify it with more than one reason, in reality, nothing can justify it, especially when the very same government is shedding the crocodile tears to reduce the energy and fuel subsidies under the garb of increasing burden on the financial health of the nation.

Simultaneously, Rs 150 crore can effectively add to the support system of 2.4 lakh families or around 9 lakh people in those families. It becomes even more glaring if we take into account the ad-spend of the UPA-II government since 2009 when it retook the office.

According to the reports, the ad-spend figures available till February 2012 show the UPA-2 government had already spent Rs. 2246 crore on advertisements by then. Going by the corollary of the Rs 5200 per month per capita income, it could have translated to an effective aid to the support system of 3.6 million families and around 14 millions of individuals of such families.

We all know who Rajiv Gandhi was and what he did for India. Why do we need multiple advertisements across multiple platforms by most of the government departments and ministries commemorating Rajiv Gandhi on his birth and death anniversaries?

Okay, if they have to do so, why don’t they do so from their own, private funds? Why to waste the money meant for (and must be) used for the betterment of the public?

Okay, the argument may be propagated that the ad-spend was necessary but such an argument easily gets punctured in the light of the related developments.

Such arguments sound sham when we come across regular reports of massive corruption in almost every government project. Almost nothing, not even the rural India centric massive projects with an ambition to cover the most parts of the nation are beyond the web of the neck-deep political and bureaucratic corruption.

Advertisements by the government departments and ministries are supposed to act as tools to aware and empower the people intended to be the beneficiaries of different programmes and projects to ask for what is rightfully and legally theirs.

Instead, their ignorance and their inability to convey the wrongs happening as reflected in the large-scale corruption tell either the government efforts to aware and empower the people are failing or the government is not at all serious about the ultimate aim of such initiatives – making aware and empower and instead is busy in bushing the beat making such advertisements a personal branding exercise for the person or group of persons involved. And if that be the case, it is certainly not an acceptable practice. Such wastage of public funds is deplorable.

But, as has become clear, the insensitive political class doesn’t even think about such considerations. Rather, they prefer to suppress the voices trying to show them the reality. As the election time is approaching near, the UPA government and Mr. Manmohan Singh are ratcheting up the (empty) rhetoric again with heavy advertising to showcase what is not there; literally, to befool us again.

Coming back to where we began, on youth and unemployment in India, Manmohan Singh recently said: “The unemployment rate came down from 8.3% to 6.6% between 2004-05 and 2009-10. This period suffered from one of the worst global meltdowns in history and most of the countries, developed and developing, have registered increased in their unemployment rates while we were still able to create additional jobs. Employment in the unorganised sector registered a growth of more than 9% from 26.5 million in 2005 to 29 million in 2011.” 

But his assertions fall flat when we see the larger picture that is not what Manmohan is trying to make us see.

According to a report published in The Wall Street Journal (Young, Jobless and Indian, November 23, 2012): “The latest World Development Report by the World Bank says India’s youth unemployment — as a percentage of the youth work force — was 9.9% for males and 11.3% for females in 2010. In 1985, the figures were 8.3% and 8%, respectively. Youth unemployment in India, like most countries, has consistently been above the national average. But of late, the data indicate rising youth unemployment, now virtually 50% more than the national average, or total unemployment rate.”

Qualitatively disturbing! Now see this assessment from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

ILO says in its Global Unemployment Trends 2007-13, released in May 2013: What does it say about unemployment in India: “In India there is evidence that youth unemployment rates are higher for families with incomes over the $1.25 poverty rate than for those with incomes under this poverty line. “In developing countries such as India, as much as two-thirds of young workers receive below average wages and are engaged in work for which they are either over-qualified or under-qualified. Over-education and over-skilling co-exist with under-education and under-skilling. Such a mismatch makes solutions to the youth employment crisis more difficult to find”

A mismatch!  Indeed it is. A population of over a billion with majority of them quality-illiterate, poorly-fed and living a sub-standard quality of life needs a political and bureaucratic class that could understand this mismatch to work out effective solutions.

Instead, we have a political and bureaucratic class that has become synonymous with corruption, nepotism, insensitivity and elitism.

Instead of addressing such grave problems with the seriousness demanded, the Manmohan Singh led governments is pouring the money from the public funds freely into massive cover-up operations to create an illusion of the achievements that are not there, to create a layer of propaganda to hide the utter failure that his government has been during its second terms in the office since May 2009.

The insensitivity and the rashness reflect in the advertisement campaigns like Bharat Nirman or this reported campaign targeting the overseas audience or the reports of a Rs 100 crore campaign by the UPA government in September 2012 to justify the retail FDI decision and diesel-pricing deregulation and price hike or the Hindustan Times report (UPA ad blitz gets Rs. 630 crore more, June 6, 2013) that says the Finance Ministry okays Rs 630 crore more for the Bharat Nirman campaign.

Mr. Manmohan Singh, the youth from the 7 crore of the unemployed or underemployed people or 70 crores or more of the Indians, quality-illiterate, poorly-fed, the Indians forced to live a sub-standard quality of life, cannot buy your sham every time. NDA had learnt this lesson in a bitter way in 2004.

This time, it may well be a telling development for your government the signs of which you are not reading. Stop wasting millions that could give livelihood to the millions. That is not your private money. It is rightfully theirs.

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

DMK PULLS OUT, AKHILESH YADAV THREATENS TO PULL THE PLUG: WHEN IS THE UPA GOVERNMENT COMING DOWN?

When is the United Progressive Alliance government coming down?

Though this is an old question, repeatedly asked, repeatedly analysed and repeatedly guessed, this time, it has got a seeding space that is generating galvanized responses from the political and media pundits as well as from the ‘aam aadmi’, the common man, who is going to be the centre of the short-lived attraction once more when the next general elections are held (when? – the raging debate is all about it!).

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) that has 18 Lok Sabha MPs (members of the Parliament) has withdrawn support from the UPA government on the issue of human rights violations and atrocities on Sri Lankan Tamils demanding India take a tough stand against the stubborn small island nation. Now, the stubbornness of Sri Lanka and the ineptness of the Indian foreign policy rule out any such intervention by India that the DMK so eagerly wants in order to help it reclaim its slipping electoral ground in Tamil Nadu.

But, in the process, it has made the life tougher for the Congress party led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government that is, at the moment, running on leased breathers from two highly unaccountable political allies, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Whatever be the predicament of the UPA government or of the DMK, the ongoing crisis of UPA’s political survival has given fodder to the pundits and analysts that they would keep on chewing for sometime before arrives the next shipment of a volatile political development in the run-up to the next general elections of India.

But, really, is the UPA government going to fall on a day like this?

Has its survival become so vulnerable that Akhilesh Yadav says that his party could pull the plug even in the ongoing parliamentary session?

Akhilesh’s father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, a UPA savior at other times by voting for the government in the Parliament on contentious issues like the India-US Nuclear Deal or the Retail FDI, is actively pursuing the elusive ‘Third Front’ as an alternative to the Congress party and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

But, it doesn’t look like so, not now, not before the last quarter of this year as the historical perspective of the Indian politics during the UPA-2 days says, even if the Mulayam’s SP finds a trigger to pull the plug in the ongoing Parliament session.

What could be the political developments saving the day for the UPA government to give it time to create outreach to let it exploit the populist dole-outs like the Food Security Bill or the direct cash subsidy transfer before the country goes to polls to elect the next Lok Sabha?

WHAT COULD SAVE THE DAY FOR THE UPA GOVERNMENT?

What could be the political developments saving the day for the UPA government to give it time to create the outreach to let it exploit the populist dole-outs like the Food Security Bill or the direct cash subsidy transfer before the country goes to polls to elect the next Lok Sabha?

Efforts to woo Nitish Kumar might succeed: After managing good enough number of people in the Adhikar Rally held in Delhi, Nitish met almost every big political boss of the UPA government and got a favourable response from each of them, from the prime minister to the finance minister.

Now the reports say the UPA government is preparing to open its coffers to give Bihar Special Status, a demand Nitish has been making for years and is now all out to make it a major poll plank in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. If he doesn’t get it, he will play the victim. If he gets it, he will take the credit of opening new avenues of development for Bihar. A win-win situation, in any case, it seems for him, as of now. Transfer of the Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar to placate Nitish is yet another indicator of what the Congress party is working on.

Ever since the Congress party started facing pull-out problems from the allies in UPA-2, it has been working to woo the political parties like Janata Dal (United) to manage numbers in the Lok Sabha. Nitish, who harbours prime-ministerial ambitions but doesn’t stand a chance before Narendra Modi in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), might jump the wagon to join the UPA as his Bihar government can manage numbers without the BJP. JD(U) has 115 assembly members and can easily manage the seven more required to cross the half-way mark in 243-member Bihar legislative assembly. Others including the Congress party have 15 members in the state legislative assembly.

A softening Mamata Banarjee: After withdrawing support and creating a drama on many issues, Mamata’s All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) supported the UPA government in the presidential election last year. Now her open support to the UPA government over the UNHCR Resolution on Sri Lanka gives sustainable hopes to the Congress party floor managers that Mamata could be managed provided she is placated with what she has asking for long, something that she needs desperately before going to the next general elections – funds to get West Bengal rid of the mammoth debt and to implement development projects.

Reports say the UPA government is seriously considering offering special financial package to the West Bengal government.

And then, there is Mayawati: Mayawati would like to see the anti-incumbency consolidate even more in Uttar Pradesh before going to the parliamentary polls and given the rapidly deteriorating law and order situation in the state during the first year of Akhilesh Yadav’s rule, she has valid reasons to think that in another six months or so, the anti-SP votes would be a sizeable chunk.

She has another reason to think so in case the SP pulls the plug. In that case, the state would not be able to get any financial concession from the central government, making it difficult for the state government to implement populist schemes before the elections, and that would help Mayawati directly as the Congress party and the BJP have lost the political ground in India’s most populous state.

Now, JD(U) with 20 MPs,  AITC with 19 MPs and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with 21 MPs count for 60 MPs. Right now, the UPA has 227 members in the Lok Sabha and it is surviving with outside support of 58 MPs that includes 22 from the SP and 21 from the BSP.

Even if the 22 of 58 leave, the Congress party can manage it easily with 39 MPs from the JD(U) and the AITC. And add to that the possible bonus numbers from the DMK. The last UPA ally to leave the coalition is reportedly not in favour of bringing down the UPA government. A media report quoted K Anbazhagan, the DMK general secretary, as saying, “”The Congress gave our party a lot of problems. But, we cannot allow communal forces to form a government”. That is additional 18 MPs for the Congress party when it comes to the voting on government’s survival in the Lok Sabha.

So, it is not going to happen now.

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