Tag Archives: congress

The Political gamble of demonitisation

I really do not know for sure, how much or in what way, demonetization will affect the economy or black money in the long run. But I do think that The Government of India will not back off from this move. On the contrary it will get even more aggressive on it and other such steps. It will just tweak some operational stuff to ease short term pain.

The National English TV media is not a very good indicator. Political parties, in poll bound states, are careful about how they attack the Government’s move. It is the political units with no stake in the forthcoming elections that are making the most noise. The congress in Punjab has avoided this issue and deftly continued its focus on SYL.

I suspect that the virulence of the opposition attack can also be seen as proportional to their discomfort with the political advantage the BJP can garner from this move. AAP will be particularly negatively affected as its vote bank is not caste or religion based and this move of the Centre may appeal to poorer sections of society that are angry at being left out of the benefits of economic growth. Worse, AAP woke up somewhat after congress workers started assisting people in long queues with water and tea etc.  Maken was quicker than Kejriwal in seeing that ‘on street’ advantage. There are murmurs that the poorer residents of the city are ‘not that angry’.

In a few days the people will forget the discomfort that they are currently going through and will remember this as a decisive move by Narendra Modi, against black money held by the rich. It is a big bold gamble NaMo has taken but a lot will depend on the BJP’s state units in the coming elections.

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Intellectuals minus intellect

A section of eminent litterateurs, activists and NGO have now clearly decided to throw in their lot with the congress party. Some of them have done considerable work in the past, and the party in power almost entirely since independence, has provided patronage to several well known activists.

Writers are returning their awards and some well-known RTI activists too have decided to stay away from the prime minister’s address on the 10th anniversary of the RTI act of 2005 because they feel that all those who should have been invited were not.

Writers are passionate people and cannot be blamed for selective outrage. Rationality and passion do not usually go hand in had

No Government department welcomes RTI inquiries. It is not in the nature of anybody to open themselves to reveal their motivations or be held accountable. It is not as if RTI queries were easily responded to during the last UPA Government. Having filed many RTI applications myself I know that dodging on answering to RTI applications happened then, as much as it continues now. The officers maintain that unbroken continuity in deniability.

Right to information and transparency in Government is a worldwide challenge. The extent varies.

However it is unwise for NGO and activists who feel obliged and loyal to the congress party to blatantly align themselves. This demonstrates an allegiance to a political party more than fighting for a principle independent from politics.

It is possible that the congress party is unable to speak openly on many things directly as it might annoy their constituency and are therefore using activists as cannon fodder. All political parties do this, and it is for civil society activists to be careful. It is not the duty of a civil society activist to feel loyal to political masters. It is self destructive.

Religious fundamentalists and fringe elements feed on each other. NGOs and activists must not fall into a similar trap.

Therefore, it is strategically bad for these writers and activists to throw in their lot politically as this will not enable them but will disable them from carrying out their opposition to faulty policies. It will hinder them from influencing a systemic change in institutional mechanisms which is much needed in a diverse society such as ours.

Lack of patronage, and , that they are no longer a part of the usual consultative mechanism, workshops and seminars of the earlier government brings frustration for some NGO and activists and venting and outrage follow.

These Tantrums however are unlikely to cut much ice with the BJP. They have a massive NGO Base of sangh parivar organisations seeking govt patronage

Political alignment with the congress is unlikely to find much support in Delhi from the AAP either. Aging writers are not really a part of the thought leadership that impresses the AAP voter and Arvind Kejriwal is unlikely to have forgotten the back stabbing and competition from the NAC members in those heady days of the Anna and IAC agitation.

The support from a section of the media may be alluring for now but like all other stories will pass as the public gets bored and TRPs dip.

So this sulk and politicking will be of little value.

If at all the writers and activists were upholders of avowed principles they have managed to demonstrate exactly the opposite and unless they are minded to join active politics this could lead to them becoming less relevant.

Robust civil society, in a democracy should be ready to work with and fight elected governments at the same time. It is not an easy task.

Aligning politically is akin to shooting yourself in the foot even before starting the fight.

 

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Much Ado about nothing

An absolutely objective political analysis of politics is impossible. The analyst himself gets in the way. This writer included

The current by- polls too have drawn the ‘perennially embarrassed Hindu’ and the ‘permanently outraged secularist’ into beating themselves about ‘Hindutva’ or gloating ‘I told you so’ respectively

However politics works quite differently. It must be stated that the circumstances under which political events unravelled up until the 2014 General election are not replicated currently and therefore the context is important

A few pointers:

Narendra Modi’s election was not about a Hindu transformation into ‘Hindutva’. It was about a consolidation of caste vote to defeat the congress and its allies. People were bored of the UPA and did not see their larger interests being helped by the Congress old guard, the dynasty, Rahul, Akhilesh and Stalin.This general election was not about Hindutva

Hindu political groupings are ‘caste’ based for all practical political purposes and not religious. The so called Hindu consolidation was temporary.

However to assume that this phenomenon has ended forever and people have given a ‘resounding slap’ to such instincts is misguided. The Ram Mandir movement saw a similar consolidation(That was Hindutva) and the same may happen again for a different set of reasons. It would be wise to grow up and keep drinking coffee.

I argue that this by-election would have not have been won by the BJP anyway.

People who voted Narendra Modi for P.M are not all Hindu zealot-nationalists with a trishul just as people who vote congress are not all atheists or venal and corrupt brokers with black money stashed away. It would be silly to make such assumptions even as both descriptions may be true in some cases

The word secular, divisive and polarization have quite another meaning in India as compared to the rest of the world as these are BJP specific epithets which have little connection with what the oxford English dictionary intends for its readers.

I am ignoring secularism as enough has been said over it but politics by its very nature is divisive and it polarizes people in elections. Worldwide

Nobody checks all the boxes while voting. They choose one over the other. Politics is meant to divide people over their choices.

There are several impulses on which people vote. In general people make ‘sense’ out of the total inputs made available to them over a period of time against a backdrop of their existing prejudice or inclinations.

If Assembly elections were to be held in Delhi, the INC may not have much of a chance. But in Municipal elections several of their councilors will win. Why? Because locally people will vote basis established networks, which down the line promise regularizing or ignoring illegal construction, encroachment on public property, special benefits for different religious places and other ‘personal contact’ issues. Quicker access to licensing and other civic services, contracts and influence pedaling will come into play. Local Civil construction and development will play a role. The ‘rural’ voter in Delhi has a large say where ‘Lal dora’ considerations have their own dynamics. Many Posh residential complexes abut urban villages. So does the poorvanchal factor, the auto driver and the slum dweller. Alcohol plays a role too.

Corruption etc will no longer be that important and that’ wave’ for Delhi is over. This will, however, not mean that people are going to give a ‘resounding slap’ to Kejriwal’s Political ideas. It does not work like that.

Opposition gloating does not end every phenomenon

In Bihar the ‘sagacious voter’ has voted for a Lalu and Nitish combine simply to protect himself from being punished for voting the BJP and to avail local administrative benefits.  To read that he has become more ‘demanding’, ‘less divisive’ and ‘impatient’ for change would be naïve. Somebody impatient for change does not bring back Lalu.

A seasoned political party like the congress does not hesitate in resurrecting ‘Nehru’ as an icon, to lure ‘impatient’ voters? Never underrate the congress.  They have been there, done that. Things do not change much in reality and they know it. People are not impatient for change. People want more under the same circumstances.

73 out of 80 seats were won by the BJP in national elections in U.P. To extrapolate this victory into predicting assembly or municipal election results would be hasty and simplistic. This is why public posturing apart no hard core politician really believes it.  The defeat of the BJP in U.P has nothing to do with the population suddenly becoming ‘secular’ as some motivated analysts are gloating. It has possibly to do with the fact that Yogi Adityanath was never much of any significance outside his constituency. He never really mattered and it was the media that made him heard in the Metros but that’s about it. The local voter does not mess with the Samajwadi Party especially if the BSP and Mayawati are not in an aggressive mood to provide protection. The voter knows that the Central govt cannot do magic in 100 days. Nobody can.

In Gujarat the chances for Congress could possibly see an increase in the future as ‘Gujarati Asmita’ will not be seen as exclusively coterminous with Narendra Modi  who will be seen as  more of “ Bhartiya Asmita”.  His foreign policy initiatives point in that direction. He will steer clear of the secular-communal debate.

What makes us ‘city slickers’ discuss politics in the big city is not what makes the belly of the city & the country’s heartland tick!

A large number of analysts carry ‘civil society ‘instincts through which they judge elections but on the ground politics is almost always about self interest. Voter included.

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