Lokpal Bill and Constitutional Status!

Lokpal Bill has been passed by the parliament yesterday but the ruling UPA has failed to get the constitutional status for the same. For last 24 hours we have been hearing views and counter views on how UPA failed to fulfil the dreams of its “Yuvraj” and BJP led NDA has asked resignation of the government. But you must be wondering, what exactly we mean by “Constitutional Status.” I did some research on this topic and have following points as a ready reference. Constitution Amendment Bills have to be passed in each House of Parliament by a special majority ie. by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the House “present and voting”.
CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT BILLS (http://164.100.47.132/LssNew/abstract/constitution_amendment_bills.htm)
Bills seeking to amend the Constitution are of three types:—
(1)   Bills that are passed by Parliament by simple majority;
(2)   Bills that have to be passed by Parliament by the special majority prescribed in article 368(2) of the Constitution; and
(3)   Bills that have to be passed by Parliament by the special majority as aforesaid and also to be ratified by not less than one-half of the State Legislatures.
Bills that are not deemed as Constitution Amendment Bills
2. Bills for amendment of the following provisions of the Constitution are passed by both Houses of Parliament by a simple majority of members present and voting :
(a)   admission or establishment of new States, formation of new States, and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States (articles 2, 3 and 4);
(b)   creation or abolition of Legislative Councils in the States (article 169);
(c)    administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes (para 7 of the Fifth Schedule); and
(d)   administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram (para 21 of the Sixth Schedule).
3.  These Bills are not deemed as Constitution Amendment Bills under article 368 of the Constitution and, therefore, these are not called by the title ‘Constitution Amendment Bills’.
4.  Though normal legislative procedure holds good in respect of these Bills, Bills providing for matters in sub paras (a) and (b) above, in addition, require respectively the recommendation of the President for introduction and the prior adoption of necessary resolution by the State Legislative Assembly concerned.
5.  Such Bills are presented to the President for his assent under article 111 of the Constitution.
Constitution Amendment Bills
6.  Bills seeking to amend all other provisions of the Constitution including those enumerated in the proviso to article 368(2) are called by the title ‘Constitution Amendment Bills’. These Bills can be introduced in either House of Parliament. If sponsored by a Private Member, the Bill has to be examined in the first instance and recommended for introduction by the Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions before it is included for introduction in the List of Business. Motions for introduction of the Bills are decided by simple majority.
7.   Constitution Amendment Bills are not treated as Money Bills or Financial Bills. Accordingly, President’s recommendation under articles 117 and 274 of the Constitution in regard to these Bills is not asked for. However, if the recommendation is communicated by the Minister, it is published in the Bill or in the Bulletin, as the case may be, for information of members.
[Constitution Amendment Bills are governed by article 368 of the Constitution and Rules 155—159 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
We all have some knowledge about the bill that has been passed by the Parliament. There is no denying that there are some weak points within the bill and few amendments were required to be carried out to make Lokpal more effective and strong. If that could have been done then giving constitutional status would have made some sense. But with this type of toothless Lokpal, not giving constitutional status allows state government to have their own Lokayukts and Lokpals with greater powers.  There was no point in giving a constitutional status to a “weak” Lokpal. This version of the Lokpal bill did not even get the “ayes” of 50% of the total strength of Lok Sabha. This rhetorical bluff of “opposition not supporting” is getting nauseating to hear.
What is interesting to note is that UPA has blamed opposition for the bill not getting constitutional status. But is that really the case is? The Constitution amendment bill (116th Amendment), 2011 was put up for vote. 251 members voted for it. The official strength of the ruling coalition is 277. After some complicated mathematical operations, we see that 26 members of the ruling coalition were missing (in which there were congress MPs too!). This government could not get the minimum required support for passing this bill, and yet is going on the overdrive to blame the BJP for “not wanting a strong Lokpal”. They are against this version of the Lokpal. If Congress really wanted to get the constitutional rights for the bill then why couldn’t it ensure the attendance of all its MPs on such a crucial day? Congress has tabled and passed the bill in LS despite stiff opposition just to show off that how committed they are towards Lokpal. But then everyone knows that the govt does not enjoy majority in Rajya Sabha. Then how could they expect that the bill will be passed as per their wishes and be given constitutional status? And if it doesn’t happen then blame the opposition for all the mishap!!
The bill could have been discussed and if greater flexibility could have been shown by the government and opposition along with civil society we could have got a better Lokpal. I sincerely hope that all this does not leads to death of Lokpal bill. It will all depend on how government stands when the bill is tabled in RS tomorrow. As of now it seems to be moving towards a deadlock.
However, the Bill is far from becoming an Act yet. For, mustering a simple majority for the Bill in the Rajya Sabha will be very difficult for the UPA, which is in a minority of 94, whereas a simple majority requires 123 votes. Its only hope lies in persuading a sufficiently large number of Rajya Sabha members from non-NDA parties like the Samajwadi Party and the BSP to either vote for the Bill or abstain. Thus, it is possible that the Rajya Sabha may pass a version of the Bill that includes some or all of the amendments moved by the BJP and the others. In that case, the Bill will be go back to the Lok Sabha. If the Lok Sabha does not accept these amendments – as it didn’t the first time around – there will be a deadlock, which will have to be resolved through a joint session of both Houses. And that could postpone the actual enactment of the Bill to February 2012. (DNA)

Mayawati: Priorities Gone Wrong!

“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”

Ambedkar_Park_Mayawati1These lines aptly describe the governance of Mayawati in most populous state of the country Uttar Pradesh. She recently inaugurated 685 crore Noida Memorial Park and used the platform to settle the scores with her political rivals. Mayawati has special love for these parks and she has spent thousand of crores on building these parks. She has even said that if she gets fresh mandate she would like to have such parks in each and every district of UP. But the basic question remains that does the parks in any ways solve the problems being faced by the people of the state. A state which has shortage of power, schools, infrastructure, industries, hospitals, road networks, etc would have been happy if these problems would have been addressed. She brazenly says that she has spent just 1 pc of the budget on the park. This would have been ok if the remaining 99 pc would have been spent on the welfare measures and development of the state. But sadly that has also not happened.

Now let me take you 750 km away from the park to Gorakhpur in eastern part of the state. More than 430 people have died of encephalitis virus and mostly children. This is not the first time that epidemic has struck in this part. It has been active for last 33 years and yet the state machinery and health dept has failed to check. The hospitals are overcrowded and there are no beds available for admitting new patients. At least 2 multispecialty hospitals would have come up with the amount spend on the construction of park. And even if they would have been named after Dalit icons or Mayawati herself it would have done a world of good for the people and state. This is where the chief minister has faltered. It is the simple case of wrong pririties. In her term also she is witnessing 4th outbreak of this virus and yet she and her government is as inefficient as it was a year prior. Now if someone tells her she says that she has been targeted for being a Dalit and would point out the mistakes of earlier govt. I wonder how long she can get away by giving these lame excuses and how long the people will fall prey to her reasoning. There is no denying that Dalits have been ill treated and it is very much required to uplift them but i have doubt if that can be done by building parks and installing own statues. They need more than just statues and CM who is self obsessed.

The point is that sincerity is missing and thus she has failed the people of UP. SARVJAN HITAY SARVJAN SUKHAY is as hollow as UTTAM PRADESH slogan of previous government. She was lucky to have got absolute majority in last polls and has golden chance to work for development of state but failed miserably. She had opportunity to work for oppressed section of the society by opening schools, improving connectivity, tackling law and order chaos, higher education, providing health care and employment. It would have helped in building better image of the state and would have established her credibility as a CM.

But….

Apart from parks and her kitty she hasnt added anything significant in her tenure as CM of Uttar Padesh in last four and half years. I just hope that people of the state will look for someone who delivers on the development and solves core issues when they go out to vote next year.

Unsung Heroes: Ordinary People with Extraordinary Courage!

These days if you will observe, you will notice that you are hearing news of rampant corruption and malpractices going on which undoubtedly is suffocating the system. Every day you hear new news which makes you feel sad about sorry state of the country and we blame it on our politicians, bureaucrats, etc. But do you ever wonder that despite all this how come our system is surviving?

Real-HeroesNo, you would have not.

The fact is there are few people still existing who are doing their duties in a manner in which it should be done. If not for people like these the system would have eventually collapsed. Unfortunately, these people are not in limelight because they are silently doing their good job and holding the system together. You will find such people in every organization and department both in govt and pvt sector. Be it Satendra Dubey or S Manjunath or SSP Arun Kumar, everyday these real unsung heroes are facing all odds to keep nation moving. You won’t be able to imagine the sacrifices which is being made by them on borders and inside the main land. Lt Archit Verdia, Lt Navdeep, Lt Sushil Khajuria, Tukaram Omble and the list is endless who have laid down their life for the well being of the people. With them their family also suffers but then there has to be someone who feels not like remaining 99.5% of the population.

It is a fact that only 1 out of 100 dares to challenge the system, not bogged down the odds, fearlessly discharging the duties and serve the people. Rest all tend to adjust with the situation and do lip service during tea time by blaming and suggesting but not doing. But this is how a society is and this is main reason that people who do good work without becoming the part of wrong system are tagged as “fools”. But the one who do it don’t care as they know that their conscience is clean and what they are doing is in best interest of society and nation.

During 26/11 we had lakhs of citizen on street demanding change in the system but when the day of VOTING came they were enjoying the holiday. Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime and the day we understand this we will be able to come up with the possible solution to the problems we are facing now. We need to get out of our comfort zone. A nation is as good as its people and thus I consider myself lucky to have people in my country who are facing danger for my survival. But my endeavor does not ends there and I will ensure that I take considerable steps in nation building.

I salute all the unsung heroes and their families for struggle they have gone through in making nation a better place. Their loss is irreparable but we will always remain indebted to them.

The Indian Political System – As I See it

This is purely based on my analysis and I might be wrong in my interpretations – so feel free to criticize me and have a healthy discussion, I anyway love making mistakes , learning and then evolving from there on. And before I start , this is Quite Serious and Insightful unlike my other posts.

” This Politician Doesn’t Deserve My Vote ”
” All politician suck big time. – (PJ) What ? ”
” All are corrupt , inefficient and India will always remain this way – Lets Shift to America , UK etc. ”

During the past few years I have met many people who are part of the system (MPs , MLAs , Corporators etc.) and also people who have been constantly challenging the system like Ramesh Ramnathan ( Janagraha) , Arvind Kejriwal ( RTI ) , Capt. Gopinath etc. and my opinion about this whole system and setup has undergone a sea change. I was always of opinion that the best way to solve India’s problems is to make all the politician stand in a line and then shoot some of them, so that the rest of them start working properly. Though I still feel that it could be one of the solutions but I have also realized that leaders are nothing but a true reflection of the people they represent (Majority obviously) or as they say in Hindi , Jaisi Praja – Waisa Raja.

Let me explain better with the real life experiences I had. I am sure most of you would have seen SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and might have been angered and disgusted at the way Mr. Danny Boyle had portrayed the slums. But trust me its much more worse than that. The last time I happened to travel through an internal road of a slum, atleast half of it was filled with filth, consisting faeces and god knows what else (Just the thought of that moment , makes me uneasy) and then there are people sitting on their charpais , on the same road and cutting vegetables , making chotis , eating food, etc. like any of us would normally do in our balconies. Politicians visit such places, NGOs visit , I and U might visit(only if its unavoidable) but do you think anyone would want to clean that filth ??? None !!!! Instead we would try to teach children, give them money, clothes, etc. because we know that they live there and its them who got to make sure things are clean and neat. Even if someone takes the initiative and cleans it up, they would make sure that it again goes back to its old condition within no time because that is their system; that is how they have been living , that is a part of their habits and lifestyle.

The same applies to us in India too, when we people are so used to filth around us, why would a handful of us at the Helm of Power be responsible for cleaning it?

Now let me familiarize you with the election process in India.

Over 90% of the people do not get basic food and money to survive.

Over 90% do not understand government policies, fiscal policies, infrastructure expenditure, industrialization and other similar things.

What really matters to them is the food that they can get and its all about those 2 rupees per kilo rice, money that is spent, those bottles of Beer that are splurged,etc. which make a party win and come back to power again.

With the so-called educated population who can understand macro factors and differentiate between good and bad being just 10%, out of which only around 70% do not vote.

And to reach out to billions through people employed as “party workers”, requiring a daily expenditure of approximately Rs.1000 per person per day, it basically means that just to merely contest an election and have any chances of winning, you need a minimum of a whopping Rs. 25 Crores for  the level of a MP, 8 Crores for an MLA and around just a crore for a corporator.

And when someone is spending so much, along with other party expenses, marketing expenses, etc., with no system of Political Donation unlike America wherein people are educated, literate, self-sufficient (to the scale of 90%), what else can one expect???

Trust me, from my experience, over 30% Politicians want to work genuinely for the Public but its the system, bureaucracy and other Politicians which literally handicap them. So how do you solve the problem?? Get smarter, educated people and make them understand and form a higher, smarter vote bank with over 70% from current 10% and trust me Indian Political System will be much much better than America’s.
I will try to put up one effective solution to all the problems keeping all the problems in mind. Do check that out too.

Just imagine that you have full access to RBI with Billions of Dollars, No police, No Parents, No teachers to bother you, literally no one to ask you any questions or hold you accountable. What would you do???

Do you keep the cash for a billion People whom you don’t even know, or have sex, deposit the cash in Swiss Account, buy properties and live life king size?

Its simple. There are only a handful who have skills to play through the system and climb to positions where they get access, with hardly a handful to question, then what do you expect ??

Lastly, the other day one of my friend, during a long discussion was complaining about how the politicians have ruined this country: “They are supposed to do this and that, but all they do is nothing. Its all about criminals and muscle power”.

Later, we saw a woman who had parked her vehicle at the wrong place. I told him that i will go and tell her its wrong. That is what i am supposed to do. Whether she listens to me or not is a different story altogether, but let me do what i am supposed to do. And he said “NO NO, its her wish, let her do what she wants. How does it bother you and what difference does it make to you?”.

This is the case with most of us. We complain and expect everyone else to do what they are supposed to do without doing what we are supposed to do. :)

And frankly, most of the times we are clueless and handicapped and don’t even know what we can do. Slums are too far, NGOs are run by government officials to make money.

I cannot commit, i have no time, am not good at this – I will try to address all of these issues along with a solution – watch out for my next post.

Hopefully this can initiate a debate and action or not, I hope people will be forced to think. In case you have liked it and feel it makes sense , then please do SHARE it with your friends, family & contacts.

Rohit Begwani
rohitbegwani@gmail.com

Kasab: A National Hero????????

FOR SOMETIME now, I am really wondering that when wills this case of Ajmal Kasab will end. I don’t see it ending in near future. I was always of a view that we should try him at court and not to hang him without a trial. But the snail pace of judiciary is making mockery of the trial. Seven months have passed and we haven’t been able to bring a terrorist caught on camera killing innocent men/women/children to justice.

What a shame?

The media has gone a long way in making a hero out of Kasab. The number of reports on him in last seven months has made him a well known figure of world. His photograph has been flashed on television and print media umpteen number of times. By now most Indians know where Kasab was born and what his parents did. What made him run away from home and how did he come contact with the LeT. We also know Kasab’s love for mutton and chicken dishes and his sole wish to meet Amitabh Bachchan.

We have up to date information on how Kasab is reacting in court or whether he is repenting his crime or not. Why the hell we need this information? This reporting can be termed as callous behaviour of media towards the one who suffered in the 26/11 attacks.

Imagine what pinch they must be feeling when the news channels show over extended coverage of the culprit. I was just reading the story of Captain Amitendra Kumar Singh, who was part of NSG team carrying operations in Oberoi hotel. Hearing about captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab, the 28-year-old braveheart admits, makes his blood boil. “He has become a bigger hero than us.

They should have stoned him to death at some crossroads in Mumbai that time itself.” How true he is when he says that Kasab has become a hero. He is so popular that the producers of reality shows might consider him as a contestant. When Monica Bedi and Rahul Mahajan can become celebrity then so can Kasab!

The money that is being spent on his security and trial could have been efficiently utilised in updating the security infrastructure and helping the kin of the deceased. He must be executed at the earliest. The case should get over now.

This is the apathy and irony that the so called ‘concerned citizens’, who came out in lakhs on December 3, 2008 at Gateway of India forgot the date of election. They preferred spending vacation than doing their duties. The same set of people were crying and shouting on politicians after the attacks. The numerous groups that were formed after the attacks have lost the steam and MA Naqvi’s comments of ‘lipstick wearing socialites’ stands true. The soldiers who risked and laid down their life for us have faded from our memory and media has found a bigger hero in Kasab…

What does the readers of targetgenx think??????

Bihar Transformed

On the morning of counting day, driving through rain and the blossoms of Laburnum and Gulmohar in Patna, I was surprised to find that the road outside Nitish’s residence deserted. For a moment I assumed the other news channels had decided to skip the early morning slightly pointless pre results dispatches, till I walked a few steps away to the next lane. Sure enough, the entire media cavalcade of cameras and broadcast vans was parked right there – outside the home of Rabri devi, Lalu’s wife and the proxy Leader of Opposition.
 
Why would the media ignore the bigger story – Nitish Kumar, the man being wooed by all political formations, praised by Rahul Gandhi, hand-grabbed by Narendra Modi, and generally seen as Bihar’s great hope – to chase the by now predictable story –  the decline of Lalu Prasad, the Railway minister who looked all set to go off track this election?
 
This could a matter of habit – after all, Lalu has been the centre of gravity in Bihar for two decades. Or it could a more calculated journalistic gambit, linked to the well known contrast between the two men – Impetuous Lalu might supply some drama even as a loser, while Punctilious Nitish would not allow the media in except at the
designated hour dutifully phoned and faxed to media offices. Nitish, as the consensus goes, does not believe in springing surprises.
 
And the initial leads came as no surprise. Both reporters and exit polls had picked up the astonishingly high level of Nitish’s personal popularity on which the NDA hoped to sweep Bihar. The only subject of speculation then – what would be the final tally?
 
Lalu’s elder son, a Krishna Bhakt and mildly notorious in Patna, drove in from a morning visit to the temple, flashing the victory sign, holding up both his hands. He is giving four seats to his party – quipped one journalist. Uncannily, that’s what the RJD ended the day with.
 
Ram Vilas Paswan, the LJP leader who completes the Bihar triumvirate, had all morning been enconsced in a five star hotel suite – the one that he occupies when he is in Patna, which is not too often, usually around election time. He has a reason, or excuse, to stay away – as part of every single government since 1996, his duties as Union Minister have kept him busy in Delhi. Except this election took that excuse away. Paswan lost from Hajipur – a seat he won seven times since 1977, losing just once in the Congress wave of 1984. This time, an 88 year old man, Ram Sunder Das defeated him. Das could be this Lok Sabha’s oldest candidate.
 
As far as age goes, many have claimed this election has upturned an old truth about the way Bihar polls. That it is no longer about Jaat or caste, the vote is for Vikaas or development. Hardly one to dispute the remarkable transformation underway in Bihar, led by Nitish, I would slightly modify that claim. The reality is more nuanced.
 
Nitish has revived Bihar’s comatose administration, kickstarted schools and hospitals, used the centre’s money well to build roads and infrastructure – public goods meant for all, they have indeed created a groundswell of support for him across the state and across communities. But what Nitish has also done is target benefits to specific communities, based on caste: the EBC’s or extremely backward castes, numerically larger among the backward castes but edged out by the more powerful Yadavs and Kurmis, have finally been given political space through reservations in panchayats; Mahadalits, dalits minus chamars and Paswans, for whom state largesse now ranges from subsidised homes to monthly supply of bathing soap; even among Muslims, Nitish has singled out the Pasmanda or backward and dalit muslims for special schemes like Talimi Markaj, a scheme aimed to bring Muslim children to school.
 
This is social engineering, Nitish style. And it pays. It has created new votebanks. Numerically, the most significant is the EBC bloc, 100 odd castes that add up to around 30 % of Bihar’s vote. In 2004, not a single EBC candidate was voted to Parliament. In 2009, three will be sworn in as MPs, all three are from Nitish’s party.
 
Further proof of how caste realigned this election – Lalu’s outburst post defeat. Two months ago, on poll eve, he dismissed my questions on the impact of the potential consolidation of the EBC and Mahadalit vote. But as his own electoral defeat from Pataliputra flashed on TV screens, he turned to the group of journalists and ranted : ‘Everyone has united against Yadavs, there is hatred against Yadavs’. His other villains: the administration for rigging the polls, an upper caste media for biased reporting. Familiar targets from the nineties. Not suprising. But what was mildly stunning was Lalu’s dismissal of development as a factor. He said if Vikaas could win votes, he would have won hands down for the turnaround of the Railways. He was emphatic : development does not win votes. It was scary to see a man stuck in the nineties.
 
Nitish, as expected, called for a press conference and walking into 1, Anne Marg had a surprise in store : a mandatory security check, at sharp contrast from the mad chaotic unchecked stampede into Lalu’s home. The security guards, including women constables, were trained to frisk, but did not have the detectors. Another insight into how Bihar is changing – step by step.
 
The press conference took place under the mango tree, the sole unchanging landmark in a vastly different Chief Ministerial Residence. The briefing lasted twenty minutes and a beaming Nitish Kumar repeated several times, the word ‘Nakaraatmak’, translated best as ‘Negative’, but far more potent in its original meaning. Nitish said voters had rejected the ‘Nakaraatmak’ approach of his opponents. Nitish reiterated that this was a vote against ‘Nakaraatmak’ politics. At final count, Nitish had used the word 10 times.
 
Nitish may have choosen the negative adjective, but his work has been an affirmative one, both as the chief minister trying to bring governance back to Bihar, and as a politician schooled in the politics of social justice. The stream combines the socialist ideals of Jayaprakash Narayan, and the modified socialism of Karpoori Thakur – Bihar’s second backward caste chief minister and the first to introduce reservations for OBCs in North India, way back in 1978. Both Lalu and Nitish were claimants to this legacy. But while Lalu squandered it, Nitish is building on it – by deepening the reach of reservations and social targeting. It is Mandal Part Two. And like Mandal Part One, you could have a problem with it, if you oppose affirmative action based on caste. Except, by further refining reservations, Nitish has actually taken on what has been one of the prinicipal criticisms of Mandal – that it helped dominant caste groups like Yadavs and Kurmis become even more powerful, at the cost of the more backward and less powerful groups.
 
Lalu may have privately wished that Nitish’s agenda would lead to a backlash from the upper castes, Yadavs and Kurmis – but it didn’t. Possibly one explanation : even if the others are slightly resentful of reservations, the resentment is offset by the larger benefits of a functioning state that has finally begun to deliver.
 
No wonder, at his press conference, Nitish didnt look particularly crushed at the national picture of a UPA win, and an NDA defeat. Instead, he asked the new government at the centre to live up to the promise of special status for Bihar – just a day ago, every political party had shown a willingness to consider the demand when a hung verdict seemed likely and the support of Nitish seemed crucial.
 
Still beaming, Nitish wrapped up : Good that the elections are over, now lets all get back to work.
 
Post Script: Observations overheard that day: RJD has become Rajput Janta Dal. Apart from Laloo, the other three RJD candidates who won are Rajputs.
 
The election has ended the Raj of Gundas – Gundis. Gundas are dons turned politicians. Gundis are their wives, propped up as proxy candidates. All 10 of them lost. Including Munna Shukla on a JD U ticket.
 
A jubiliant Nitish had one reason to be upset. Digvijay Singh, his former party colleague turned rebel, won from Banka defeating Nitish’s candidate. This setback could be crucial – in keeping Nitish grounded. Bihar cannot afford another arrogant leader.

Source: NDTV Written by Supriya Sharma

12 unsolicited revival tips for an ailing BJP

For last 3-4 days, I have been reasearching a lot on How BJP can revive itself? I have almost finished searching and made few notes on how it can be done. But then I came across this article in Times of India dated 21stMay, 2009 and which was send to me by one of my medico friend. This article contains 85-90% of the content on which I was writing but they eleaborated in far better way. So I just thought that instead of publishing my article let the people read more on the TOI’s article. I have saved mine for some other day. :)
I was writing this article because A strong BJP is very important for the healthy functioning of our democracy.

BJP will warm the opposition benches again, in all probability for another five years. Unless, of course, their official party astrologer is privy to some once-in-a-few-million-years celestial formation that will help them ascend the throne in a few months from now. Opportunity lost, did someone say?

It is true that a in a country with a billion people, there are a zillion factors on which elections are fought and that it is unfair to blame BJP’s defeat entirely on its own failings. But, the underlying pattern in BJP’s defeats and its response to these defeats suggests that something is intrinsically wrong and systemically too.

The party, hailed as the only viable national alternative since its ascent in the nineties, has just not learnt lessons from its past mistakes, but also made newer ones. Notwithstanding whether Congress obliges it or not over the next five years,

Here are a few lessons that the BJP can take home from these elections:

Fight to win, not win to fight
To be Prime Minister , you have to win elections – It isn’t difficult to understand this as a concept. In fact, it’s quite obvious. The fundamental truth is that to be Prime Minister of India, your party has to first get enough seats in the Parliament. If a party doesn’t score enough runs err seats, it sits on the Opposition benches and plans walk-outs. But, it seems even this simple logic has been very hard to understand for BJP’s top leaders despite the party’s trouncing the last time around.

They internally squabble over who is best suited to be the party’s candidate for the top post, and what is worse, even externalize it. When they don’t reach a conclusion, they undercut each other. Some start sulking publically and yet others stop attending crucial party meets. So, with all this, they have a hope in hell to get the required number of seats. How about squabbling after winning enough seats? It will certainly be a happier situation for all those fighting as they will have something to fight for!

Action Point: Hold a US style Presidential Primary. The winner in this primary, becomes the BJP candidate for the PM’s post. Once this is done, the others need to gracefully step back; the way Hillary Clinton did once Obama surged ahead. At the same time, get a fix on some mechanism to also groom potential ministers, particularly the key ministries and also have stated key policies you would pursue. Get your A team in place and do it NOW. Since BJP calls itself a democratic party (as against the ‘non-democratic ‘ones), it should walk its talk.

The Perfect Delivery
Deliver in every State you have a government in. If there is one thing that is getting loudly clear is that people are now sick of wallowing in India’s Third World status. They want a better life. And, their finger presses the button which promises them just that. So, while the Congress can feel smug about its victory, it too needs to deliver if it wants to come back again. Ditto for BJP. It has in its portfolio some major States.

Delivering a good performance there will not only help in that State, but also have a rub-off on other States. So, if the BJP doesn’t want to go back to its ‘two seats’ status that LK Advani is so fond of boringly recounting time and again, it better whip its chief ministers into delivering concrete results. If Narendra Modi has indeed turned Gujarat into a model State, why should it not have some impact on other states? And why should Modi be left alone to thump his chest about these achievements, and not the rest of the leadership? MP and Chattisgarh too should have made public their score card.

Action Point: Fix specific delivery targets for each State’s leadership, ones that are going to be visible and helpful in garnering the maximum votes the next time round. Pursue these targets relentlessly. Highlight achievements to the local people. And do that in a united manner, and unequivocally. Also, take it further down to your workers. Make the cadre accountable and responsible for elect ion results.

Be a growing boy, Boost your reach
Strength comes from within – The last time, the BJP came to power on the back of a coalition. Now, it is smug in the belief that it will get enough friends each time to occupy the 7, Race Course Road. Of course, this theory assumes that they will get the most winnable ally each time and that each time; their long-standing ally will deliver. The fundamental truth is that these allies gravitated towards the BJP because they saw the BJP growing in size and clout. A diminished BJP doesn’t get them closer to power.

Action Point: The moral of the story: BJP needs to grow on its own in size, reach, geographies and do this even in areas where their allies are strong. How dependance on allies can cripple them is evident in Orissa. What will be the BJP’s condition in Bihar if the JD (U) too dumps them is not difficult to visualize. Its next leadership needs to work assiduously towards building the party at the grassroots level. Allies should be a bonus. Plus, if you become big and have a good shot at getting and retaining power, they will come to you wagging their tails.

So, build, build and build. Identify 350-400 constituencies around the country where you stand a chance, and work hard on them right away. Spread yourself to other states. If BJP wants a chance in the next election, it ought to stop worrying and start acting right away, preferably right after its ‘Chintan Baithak’!

Who am I? Why am I here?
Think about what you believe in…. Are you are ‘Right wing’, `Hindu nationalist’ or are you not? This is not about secularism or pseudo-secularism, or the rights and wrongs, or even the desirability or otherwise of whatever ideology you follow. The idea is not to preach the virtues of being ‘inclusive’ or ‘accommodating’. This is about thinking through what you believe in, if there is such a thing left. Who are you and how are you different from the Congress-not only in terms of Hindutva ideology, but also in terms of your approach to economy, foreign policy etc. What fresh ideas do you have?

Action Point: First sit down and define what you are and what you stand for. Get your mission and vision statements clear. Your workers have to know what you stand for. And, after that, let no party member go out and contradict party position because he has a right to express his private opinion in public.

Fevicol your beliefs
Once you have decided what you stand for, you should also consider sticking to it. Once you stick to your beliefs and promises, it will build more faith in you. Right now, voters have rejected you because they could not take you seriously anymore. For them, here is a party that promises one thing and compromises it for the sake of power.

Action Point: Stick to stated party positions and do not keep changing/vacillating as per the need and situation. This doesn’t mean that you do not re-look some of the party positions in the recent past and see if you want to stick to them. Be flexible, but, at the same time, core positions are not meant to be shifted election to election

Cure yourself of Congressitis
This disease is called so because it first affected the Congress party as per your leaders. It is characterized by shameless pursuit of power and willingness to destroy institutions, principles to get to the throne by hook or crook. You have caught the disease too. At one time, it was your perceived image of being relatively selfless that helped you; people took Atal Behari Vajpayee at face value. BJP wasn’t seen to be a party that will remove Governors, State governments, negotiate the right pound of flesh for support, encourage party switchers, field dubious candidates etc. But, today it is difficult to distinguish between Congress and BJP.

Action Point: Now that you have tasted the fruits of power, it is difficult for you to go back to your old self of coming across as selfless. But, do try to at least ‘look’ less desperate. This also includes saying ‘Buzz off’ to criminals and history sheeters. Why should you be seen as the party fielding the maximum number of candidates with a criminal background? Is there is a dearth of eligible, young people in this country who can contest?

While you are laid-off
Staging walk-outs is a valid form of protest the Constitution permits. But, this doesn’t mean that this is all you do when you are in Opposition.

This is the time to rebuild and reconnect. L K Advani should have spent a lot more time since May 2004 to May 2009 touring at least 50 of 80 odd UP constituencies and getting a hang of what people there wanted.

Similarly, other key constituencies could have been identified and worked on. You had a full five years to get yourself noticed as worthy and credible politicians. But, you didn’t do it. So, now hear the thumps from Sonia Gandhi’s hand on the treasury benches.

Action Point: We know you have the succession issue to battle out and that it will pre-occupy you because your `larger than life’ leaders never cared to develop and identify the second rung of leadership. But, coming back to point number one (which said that to become Prime Minister you have to win elections), it should be clear that you have to sort this out really fast.

Connect on the ground, not on Facebook
Connect with the people, not with TV studios. TV studios are important, you can reach out your message to millions in one go.

But, what if that is not the message people want to hear. Plus, there is no way people can come back to you in a TV studio. And Internet does not still reach Kalawati, despite what your media managers would tell you. So, we know all of you look very handsome and pretty on TV, but, it is time for some sunburn, dehydration and diarrhea.

Action Point: Get your chappals out and start walking and connecting. Pack in your sun screen and water and get going to the muddy waters of roadless villages. Go taste the real India.

(No more) Pursuit of Pettyness
We all know the depths to which politics can tumble to in India. But, do you necessarily have to meet such perfection. You ended up opposing (and looking foolish) all the things you proposed and started when in power. You were in favour of VAT when in power and you opposed it later. You would have signed a nuclear deal yourself, but, you opposed it just because the Congress was doing it.

You could just have stood up and said that you started the negotiations and the Congress must bring these to fruition. You know what, had you supported the Congress in these key legislations, the Left would have scooted earlier than it did. Plus, the Left would have accused the Congress of being hand in glove with you. Wouldn’t that have been a happy situation for you?

Action Point: Don’t be petty. The ultimate objective of occupying the seat of power is to improve the lives of all Indians. Don’t oppose anything that will achieve just that. It makes you look petty and short-sighted.

Need to develop a ZooZoo strategy
It is time BJP learns from Vodafone’s ZooZoo ad campaign and how it has scored over almost all other campaigns that tend to depend on the superstar power. The cost-effective and hugely successful ZooZoo campaign for Vodafone has taken the country by storm. Not because it has a Khan or a Sachin endorsing, but a simple script that has an emotive connect with people in light-hearted fashion.

Action Point: How about BJP formulating a series of inexpensive ad and marketing campaigns from time to time (and not just during elections) that connect with the people while delivering the intent and the message with honesty? Are the “War Room” controllers listening?

Be inclusive, love thy neighbour
At the same time, BJP needs to formulate an action plan that lets minorities know that their interests and development too will be ensured.
Instead of rhetoric, BJP needs to work sincerely towards taking them along; address their genuine concerns, have an action plan for their security and development while according them full freedom and rights, and yet not lose out on majority support. It may be tougher than said, but not impossible.

Stop counting the stars
We won’t quibble about, or debate your belief in astrology. Millions of Indians believe in it and we don’t know enough to either dismiss it as mumbo-jumbo or accept it as perfect science. All we know is that the stars may be in a favourable position, but the actions have to be performed by you.

The logic is like this – if at a favourable time, you do the right thing, the stars will help you get the desired result. Clear? It doesn’t work the other way – just because the stars are in the right place, you will do the right thing and hop into the PM’s BMW caravan. Plus, depending too much on superstars is like expecting Tendulkar to come out and hit six sixes in the last over.

Action Point: Say no to astrologers and Bollywood stars, be the star.

My Personal Views: 
BJP has an image of Party with the Difference but it has lost that identity for many reasons. 
These are definitely the desperate times for the party and the desperate time asks for desperate measure.
It will be in the interest of the party that it regroups itself and work on reaching to the masses through ground work.
BJP must do undergo a make over and should take attempts to enhance the minority voters in its base. 
In short BJP needs an overhaul and I feel that they have got good 5 years for the same. 
It all depends on the leadership as how they can pull this off.

The Challenges ahead for UPA Government

The people of the country have voted United Progressive Alliance to form the government. Dr Manmohan Singh and his new team will be formulated by the end of next week. But the faith and expectations that people have in the abilities of Dr Singh will be the tough task for the alliance. Though Left parties are off the shoulders of the Congress but still they need to deliver on few of the key issues at great pace. There are few areas which need to be looked after with immediate concern and rectify the problems gripping these areas. 

The first and foremost will be to revive the economy. With India’s best economist in the driver’s seat, a lot is being expected from the new government. PM has said in one the election rally that he will revive the economy in 100 days. Well that might be too optimistic approach but definitely a lot needs to be done to bring economy on 9-10% growth. He also needs to tackle the job losses due to current crisis. The stimulus packages need to cover both of the problems together. 

The second challenge will be the internal security and robust foreign policy. There is growing concern with volatile neighbours around. Taliban is barely 500 km away from India and hence it is imperative to revamp the security and intelligence agencies. There should be special law to prosecute the ones caught for waging war against the nation. The Police needs an overhaulment on priority basis and they should be equipped with latest gadgets and weapons. The home growth threat of naxalites should also be taken care off. Without peace all the efforts to make India stronger and leader in economy will be futile.  

The third biggest challenge for the government will be bringing the agricultural growth back on track. Not only the growth rate of agriculture sector is low but also the share of the sector in country’s GDP has come down drastically in past some years. The problem of low rate of capital investment, smaller capital formation and low share in the national income are some of the main problems facing by this sector that needs to be addressed very urgently. There are many reasons for this crisis, which mainly includes absence of adequate social support, uncertainty of agricultural enterprise in India, lack of credit availability etc. Need of the hour is to increase the productivity of the primary sector by ushering in a new green  revolution to raise the annual average growth rate of this sector to about five per cent per annum. 

One of the other major concerns should be the legitimate demand of the forces. Personally i feel this should be top agenda as well. For long time, they have not been deprived of their due by bureaucrats and policy makers. Indian Armed Forces are finding it tough to attract youth and is facing shortage of officers. If the Army cannot get youth just for the sake of low renumeration, then future is really bleak for our country. A nation is as strong as the military of that nation. Hence it will be good in the interest of this nation that the demand of Armed Forces is paid heed and their grievances are solved at the earliest. We cannot show callousness towards our soldiers who sacrifice so much for the safety of the borders and us.  Hopefully, the new government will do something positive on this front as well.  

There is tough task ahead for the new government. The way in which new cabinet will handle these issues remain interesting. Only time will tell whether Dr MMS can deliver in the tough time. I feel that he will be able to as there are no clutches of Left this time.

BJP should be a Strong Opposition in 15th Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha Elections have thrown some unexpected results. The results are unexpected for almost every political party. You can take example of Congress, BJP, Left, BSP, TC, etc. It is very clear that UPA under the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh is going to form the government again. With Left out of the government, it is being hoped that India will push for economic reforms and policies. The stable government is advantage in this time of economic depression.

Bhartiya Janta Party has lost the elections and the results are very surprising for them. They hoped to encash the incumbency, economic crisis and internal security but failed in doing so. The party needs to do some serious introspection. If not then their might be some existential dilemma for the BJP. But for smooth functioning of the democracy, it is of great importance that BJP does some rethinking and revives itself. The strong government must have strong opposition and this is the essence of the democracy. The one step towards the revival of BJP will be the role it plays as the opposition in the next 5 years. The government will pass some bills/amendments/laws and it is the roles of opposition to scrutinize assess, seek for clarification and have a healthy debate on the same. If BJP can play the role of constructive opposition then it will be good for the country’s health. With every single party pledging the support to UPA, BJP’s role assumes further importance.

Somewhere I feel that BJP didn’t play the good role of opposition and went on to oppose and criticize each and every move of the government. The good opposition should oppose genuinely and support the government in the hour of crisis. The blame game should be limited. LK Advani once said that Congress and BJP should be political adversary and not enemies. This can be replicated for the government and opposition as well. It will be interesting to see if the BJP passes the post of leader of opposition to some younger member. Though LK Advani has agreed to be leader of opposition but mostly he will leave the post within a year time. A young leader of opposition chosen with consensus within the party is also essential for BJP to do well in future.

Bottomline:
We have got a stable government and now we should get the stable, strong and constructive opposition. The responsibility of this lies with BJP and hope they will meet up the expectation of voters who have given them mandate to sit in opposition and play an important role there.

Why Bhartiya Janta Party Lost the 2009 General Elections!

THE ELECTION results are the swansong for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s iron man LK Advani. His dream to become India’s Prime Minister remains a dream and I don’t think he will get the next chance. But the verdict has taken the country by surprise.

Everyone predicted a close contest between the BJP and the Congress but the difference of more than 80 seats is astonishing. I, as a young voter, feel that the BJP lost because of the following reasons:

1.   The BJP failed in its role as a constructive opposition. It opposed each and every policy of the government. It opposed just for the sake of opposition. Take, for instance, the stance taken by the party during the nuke deal. It leaders vehemently opposed it. Rahul Gandhi went on stretch to explain the benefits of the deal to the common people but the BJP failed to listen. And just few days before polling, Advani said that his government won’t scrap the deal! This shows that the BJP was not sure of its stance.

After the Parliament attack in 2001, the Congress lent the full support to the NDA government to fight terrorism. On the other hand, after Mumbai attacks, the BJP kept on criticizing the UPA for its failure to stop the attacks. Criticism was required but not the type which the BJP displayed. It showed its sheer opportunism and not the real will to focus on the solution of the problem.

2.   The website of the BJP has details of the party manifesto. While reading that I was impressed by few of the real good points. The party’s IT vision was also very well received by the Indian IT companies. But somewhere I felt that the BJP failed to make the people aware of their vision and manifesto while addressing the citizens. They were not able to make people aware of the same.

3.   The BJP failed to capitalize on the weak points of the UPA government which mainly included agriculture and internal security. Its leaders were themselves found napping when the Kandhar issue was raised. They failed to come up positively on these two issues.

4.   Frankly speaking, Advani was not perceived the “Majboot Neta”. He might be the Iron Man for the BJP but not for the country. His past track record proves that (comments on Jinnah, Kandhar, etc). He was unable to match the intellectual level of Dr Manmohan Singh. Instead of debating how the BJP would change the face of India most of the time he attacked the UPA and its leaders. He attacked Dr Singh throughout instead of his policies which did not augur well among the voters who hold great respect for Dr Singh.

Moreover, there have been so many splits within the party which made voters confused about the party.

The BJP also had no charismatic youth leader within its ranks. It had no one to engage Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia and so forth? That too, when more than half the electorate was young.

The Congress mainly won on the ability of Dr Singh and youthfulness of Rahul Gandhi. The BJP lacked both. They have same old faces which have been around for decades. It will not be wrong to say that LK Advani lacked the magnetism and statesmanship of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

5.   There has been a saying that the way to Delhi passes through Uttar Pradesh. Sadly, the BJP has ignored the state for the long time and failed to have any clear-cut strategy for the state this time as well. On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi devised the new strategy and took decision to go all alone in UP. The move which has paid off heavily for the Congress while the BJP continued to lose its base in the state. The party won more than 50 seats in the 1999 elections but has failed miserably after that.

The BJP needs to do some serious introspection before seeking power in the year 2014.