Significance of 2009 General Election Results

The results of the General Elections 2009 are out. The results we must say are indeed very surprising and may be on unexpected lines. United Progressive Allaince under leadership of Congress has won on 256 seats while NDA under leadership of Bhatiya Janta Party has won 164 seats. This election has been significant in many ways. I see election results as the new dawn in Indian Politics.

The results of the election are significant in following ways.

1> The people of the country have shown greater faith in Dr Manmohan Singh to revive Indian economy and put the growth on track. There are no doubts on his intellect and honesty.

2> There have been debates that regional parties are paralysing the central government policies. This was not perceived as the right signal. The large number of seats to UPA with congress winning 205/206 will provide the stable government and the required reforms can be carried out easily without the brakes from the regional and communist parties. This is the most brownie point of this result.

3> The most significant part is that the Fourth Front has bitten the dust. This break away alliance of Lok Janshakti Party, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janta Dal from UPA was created to have better deals post poll results. But all the dreams have been shattered with LJP getting wiped out and RJD managing only 4 seats. Samajwadi Party lost 10 seats and was able to win 25. The dream of bargaining for crucial portfolios is hanging dead.
Thus this has been lesson for opportunistic politicians.

4> The Left dream of forming non BJP/non Congress government is crushed. People of the country have rejected the idea and now it is clear that people prefer only two alliances in the central politics. The fate of other third front partners has met an end similar to that of Left Parties. Maya’ elephant will have to walk miles before it can reach Delhi. :)

5> The big mafias/dons and their family members have also lost badly in the election result of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It is also a big achievement of this election result. The names include Mukhtar Ansari, DP Yadav, Shahbuddin’s wife, Pappu Yadav’s wife and mother, Surajbhan’s wife, Rizwan Zaheer and Afzal Ansari.

6> The people of Bihar have voted for development and good governance.
The Muslim-Yadav-Dalit alliance has been broken and caste factor has been diminished to some extent in UP and Bihar.

Overall, the people have voted for stable government.

Now it is up to Dr Manmohan Singh and his team to deliver and meet the expectations of the people.

As a citizen of this nation, I am happier with the stability at the center and would love to see India’s economy booming once again!!

Always a blind spot

I look at the rhetoric surrounding Elections 2009 and wonder – has any political party promised to improve the state of the environment for you and me? Or thought about our right to fresh air or clean water – commodities that have become a rarity in an urbanising India?

Over the past few weeks I’ve studied the manifestos of all political parties and silently witnessed the city around me change. Ancient trees are being decapitated for wider roads, a park’s been taken over for a multiplex and a storm drain, a barrier against monsoon floods, has been filled with sand to make way for a parking lot. Grab and construct is the new mantra for the ‘development’ of our cities.

We spend three hours on an average on roads, stuck in traffic jams, while one in every five Indians suffers from respiratory disorders. Indian cities are headed towards an urban disaster. Take the depleting quality of the air we breathe or the water we drink (that’s if we get it in our taps); while rivers turn into noxious black threads with methane bubbling on their surfaces and landfill sites expand.

Analysts predict that in the next thirty years, more than half of India will be living in urban areas. But does any leader or political party have a vision to address the impending environmental problems? Caste and religion continue to dominate the rhetoric of Election 2009, but is global India, with a growth rate of 9 per cent, doing anything about the toxic gas chambers that are our cities or the brown sludge flowing from our taps?

You could dismiss my angst for clean air and water as an elitist preoccupation that doesn’t affect a majority of the population. But take a look at the alarming figures collected by the Central Pollution Control Board and the Centre for Science and Environment. Out of the 100 Indian cities monitored, almost half have critical levels of particulate matter. Fifty-two cities hit critical levels, 36 have high levels and a mere 19 are at moderate levels. Only three cities – Dewas, Tirupati and Kozhikode – recorded low pollution levels.

Adding to the gas chambers are toxic gases like nitrogen oxide – a major contributor to acid rain and global warming – that are on the rise even in smaller cities like Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Nashik and Chandrapur. Indian cities can be cured of the curse of pollution, but various policy measures will have to be initiated. One way out could be the introduction of compressed natural gas in the public transport system, and financial incentives for people to buy more fuel-efficient cars or to switch to public transport.

If we look at the availability of water in Indian cities, the situation is no different. According to a 2007 World Bank study on 27 cities, the average duration of water supply was not more than four hours and in some, like Rajkot, it’s less than 0.3 hours. Not even one Indian city gets continuous water supply, and a majority are in the red in terms of plummeting ground water tables. Besides, in the poorer parts of our nation, people have to buy water and have to spend, on an average, one to two hours per day foraging for it.

And what about the impending threat from climate change? There is now enough scientific evidence to show that climate change will first affect the poor, with disastrous consequences for India’s farmers and fishermen. But has any political party woken up to this threat? The BJP, interestingly, has a separate section on the environment in its manifesto, referring to the need to move towards a low-carbon economy. Does that mean it will scrap the 54-odd thermal power projects that were cleared under the UPA government? Climate change may already be upon us in many ways. But one look at the National Climate Change Action Plan launched by the Prime Minister will tell us that most of the targets under the eight missions are non-measurable, so there’s no way to measure the outgoing government’s performance.

And how ‘green’ are our politicians themselves? While one has drained the wetlands of an endangered bird only to build an airstrip in his native village, another, with strong prime ministerial aspirations, spent more than Rs 80 crore ravaging a green belt on the edge of the Okhla bird sanctuary, while yet another in Madhya Pradesh got the course of a river diverted, to make it flow close to his private resort. Media campaigns ask voters to stop complaining and go out and vote. Yes, I too will go and vote. But I am still waiting for that one political party or candidate who promises me, a citizen of India, my right to clean air and water.

By: Bahar Dutt
(This article appeared in ‘Hindustan Times’ on May 5, 2009)

Vote India Vote!!

The third phase of General Elections will be held on 30th April. It is a humble request from the Team Jai-Hind to all the awakened citizens to get out and vote on 30th April. The states which will go to the polls are Bihar (11), Gujarat (26), Jammu and Kashmir (1), Karnataka (11), Madhya Pradesh (16), Maharashtra (10), Sikkim (1), Uttar Pradesh (15), West Bengal (14), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1), Daman and Diu (1).

Mumbai and Lucknow will also vote on Thursday 30th April.

Get out and Vote
Because vote holds our fate
30th April is the date
Please don’t ignore it mate.

If you have anger within
If you have felt helpless
If you have felt you have lost your voice
If you have felt insecure
Then vote is the only cure

30th April is the date
Please don’t ignore it mate.

This is the time to be the change
Take the future in your own hand
Don’t be ignorant
And say you don’t care
The bell is ringing loud
Can’t you hear

30th April is the date
Please don’t ignore it mate.

30th April is not a holiday
but a “HOLY”day
You have the right to elect
Elect the able and turn the table
Think of the coming generation
and this country
You have your duty towards nation
You cannot back out
So Get out with family and friends to Vote

30th April….30th April
Please take note
You will change the track
by casting your vote.

30th April is the date
Please don’t ignore it mate.

Make India a more stronger Democracy by voting.
Jai Hind

Advani the party man or Singh the economist?

LK Advani might become prime minister next month. What kind of a leader will he make? Let us examine his qualifications. Born in 1927 to a rich family living in a Parsi neighbourhood of Karachi, Advani is from the Amil caste of merchants. In his autobiography, My Country My Life, he tells us “as far as I can remember, I stood first in every class till matriculation” and “when I completed my matriculation, I had just turned 14”.
Do you want him as PM? Amit Dave/Bloomberg
But at DG National College, Hyderabad, Sindh, he fails to get a degree in five years. His Lok Sabha résumé mentions an LLB from Bombay University, but does not say when he got it. His autobiography’s 986 pages do not mention this degree, or his attending this college, at all.
Forced out by Partition, Advani becomes an RSS worker. He spends years in Rajasthan’s villages, where he is “scared of one thing: tapeworm”.
This is because, over the years, he sees many people with the painful exit wound this worm would make on its way out from their legs. He writes about this at length, showing that his fear, for himself and perhaps also for the villagers he served, was real. But he does no research, else he would have learnt that it was not tapeworm but guinea worm.
On a visit to Chittor fort, he is “pained to see thousands of idols of Hindu deities broken and defaced by intolerant Muslim invaders”. Such experiences “were bringing about a strange transformation within me”.
Then, for seven years, till 1967, Advani is a journalist at the RSS journal Organiser, where he writes film reviews.
His writing is lazy and he leans on clichés and stock phrases. He describes a criminal as “dreaded gangster”. He uses too many adjectives and likes hyperbole. He calls Indira Gandhi’s Emergency the “darkest period in Indian history”, but then reports its years wrong in three places (pages 259, 266 and 270).

I edited newspapers for 10 years and I can place Advani as a journalist immediately. He would not have risen beyond middle rank.
He says Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People would “clearly rate as one of the five or six life-transforming books I have read so far”.
After a brief term in Delhi’s municipal council, because of his RSS connection, Advani is nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Jailed with other opposition leaders, Advani comes to power in 1977.
His life’s first executive job comes to him at 50 and he becomes minister of information and broadcasting.
This lasts two years.
In the 1980s, he finds his cause at Ayodhya. He begins a campaign, but does not understand the nature of India, and what his movement represents.
When his fired-up audience screams: “Jo Hindu hit ki baat karega, vahi desh pe raaj karega (Whoever promises to ensure the welfare of Hindus will form the government)”, Advani says he did his job by telling them they should instead say: “Jo Rashtra hit ki baat karega, vahi desh pe raj karega (Whoever promises to ensure the welfare of the country will form the government)”.
But how many of us remember this modified slogan?
As the procession rolls, riots flare across India. Advani is disturbed by references to “Advani’s blood yatra”. He is not responsible, he tells us, because “there were no riots at all along the Rath Yatra trail”. Six hundred Indians are killed.
The mosque falls on 6 December 1992. He calls this a “tragic happening” and the “saddest day of my life”. Having led the mob to its goal, he’s surprised by its behaviour. Three thousand Indians are killed. He does not understand that his movement is not positive, for the temple, but negative, against the mosque. And that is why the issue has died after the structure was flattened.
Advani’s second executive job comes at age 71, when he becomes home minister for six years (1998-2004). The three major events concerning his work during this period are at Kandahar, Kargil and Gujarat. Advani’s home ministry fails to immobilize the hijacked Indian Airlines flight when it lands at Amritsar. The BJP then surrenders to Jaish-e-Mohammed and releases the leader of the Deobandi warriors, Masood Azhar. He’s still doing terrorism.
At Kargil, Advani’s spies are unable to predict or detect infiltration. Over 400 Indian jawans are martyred. In Gujarat, 1,000 Indians are killed on the BJP’s watch. The prosecution is so bigoted, or incompetent, that the horrified Supreme Court transfers cases to Mumbai.
If Advani has such a poor record on security, why do his supporters refer to him as strong? Sadly, this image comes from his willingness to do violence to India’s Muslims.
Having had only eight years of executive experience, the same as the average 32-year-old, Advani has no long view. He does not understand strategy.
He thumps his chest and warns Pakistan to behave after taking India nuclear, but is taken aback when Pakistan’s generals immediately use this as an excuse to weaponize their own programme. This has destabilized South Asia for generations.
He opposes the Indo-US nuclear deal. Why? Because America does not treat India as “equals”. He views strategic policy through honour and emotion.
Of his autobiography’s 48 chapters, not one is on economics. Muslims, Kashmir, terrorism, Pakistan, Musharraf, Kargil, Shah Bano, Naxalism, Godhra, Assam, Ayodhya. These are his concerns. His passion is all about what other people should not do.
Under Advani, the BJP’s three policy thrusts were all negative: Muslims should not keep Babri Masjid; Muslims should not have polygamy; Kashmir should not have special status.
He offers nothing creative, even to Hindus, only resentment.
There is one brutally tough man in politics, but it is not Advani. This man is cold and emotionless when you observe him talk.
If power means the ability to influence change, he is the most powerful leader in the history of India.
His policies, 18 years old, cannot be bent, forget changed, by leaders who came after he wrote them.
He shamelessly laughs off the sneering accusation that he hides behind a woman, and cannot even get himself elected. He is ruthless enough to discard his allies and embrace his enemies when it suits him.
He is cold-blooded enough to ignore the corruption of his allied ministers, because he understands it’s unimportant in the long run.
He has risen in the world by merit alone. Born in the hamlet of Gah in West Punjab, he studied under kerosene lamps and walked miles to school. He never stopped walking. He went to Punjab University, Cambridge University (where he won the Wright’s Prize in 1955 and the Adam Smith prize in 1956). He went to Oxford University and wrote his DPhil thesis on “India’s export trends and prospects for self-sustained growth”. At 30, he understood the problem with Nehru’s economic model. At 59, he got the chance to set it right, and he did.
He is the most qualified man ever to hold office in India, and it would be difficult to find another as qualified across the world.
Like Harvard’s Obama, he has supped at the table with the world’s intellectual elite and absorbed their ideas. Now, facing a crisis, the world looks to Manmohan Singh for answers.
At the G-20 this month, London’s Financial Times put him on its masthead next to Obama and sent three editors to interview him. All Indians who are ashamed of the quality of our leaders must try to read this interview: www.ft.com/indepth/g20. First question: Do you agree with China on the failures of the global monetary regime and the case for a new reserve asset in place of the dollar?
It’s not the question they would ask of Advani.
The author, Aakar Patel is a director with Hill Road Media.
Originally published on livemint and authored by Aakar Patel (via Acropol Chaudhuri)

Muslim Community: Think before you Vote

THE GENERAL elections have begun in the country. In the coming 25 days, the world’s largest democracy will elect a new government. But one thing that peeves me is the way the political parties are trying to garner votes from the Muslims of the country. Instead of uniting the different sections of society, which ideally is their job, many politicians are playing the “Divide and Rule” game which the British preached, to keep their vote banks intact.

MJ Akbar has mentioned in an article that “A history of riot, and the threat from organizations like the Bajrang Dal are sewn into wild conspiracy theories by ‘leaders’ of the community to shape minds on the eve of an election. For secular politicians, the Muslim vote comes at an easy exchange rate. Other communities demand rice and roads. The Muslim needs nothing more than the old ploy used to help children go to sleep: stories of ghosts and monsters at the door.”

Almost 62 years of independence, 14 Lok Sabha elections and numerous Assembly elections, Muslims are still falling prey to the gimmick of our politicians. And this time too the story isn’t different. In the last one month we have seen politicians from various political parties projecting themselves as true saviors of the community.

Varun Gandhi’s rhetoric at Pilibhit landed him in jail. What Varun said was indeed shameful but the act of charging him under NSA by Mayawati government was clear move to woo the Muslim votes. Laloo Prasad Yadav then said that he would run the road roller on Varun Gandhi. Then Congress’s D Srinivas went a step further and threatened to “chop off the hands of those pointing fingers at the minorities.” A million dollar question is, Would Varun Gandhi be capable of doing what he said? I don’t think so. But these politicians made sure that they use Varun Gandhi to their advantage and projected him as the biggest threat to Muslim community.

The Babri Mosque demolition was one of the shameful incidents to happen in the history of independent India. After spending more than a decade on the lap of the Congress, Laloo realised that Congress was responsible for the demolotion incident as well. But the timing of his speech was such that it clearly showed that he wanted to prove that Muslims have to fear both the national parties and vote for him instead. Unfortunately, he forgot that there are more issues concerning to the community which needs to be addressed right away. But then he somewhere knows that this is the best way to gather Muslim votes. Seems Laloo is a champ in playing such vote bank politics.

Mulayam Singh Yadav projects himself as the messiah for Muslims. Ask him what he has done in Uttar Pradesh, while he was in power, for 23 per cent Muslims living in the state. He very happily argued that SIMI should not be banned. Though there are clear links between SIMI and few of terror strikes in the country. Isn’t this an act to appease Muslims? Also to consolidate the Lodh votes in the state he didn’t hesitate to include Kalyan Singh in his party. The same Kalyan Singh whom he had once labeled, a villain of the Babri Mosque demolition. He now has justified that Kalyan Singh was not responsible at all.

Why didn’t government try to investigate on the local support for 26/11 attacks?

What did Dr Manmohan Singh mean when he quoted that “Muslims should have first take on nation’s resources”? Aren’t they granted equal rights by the Constitution of the country? Can’t the condition of Muslims be improved by creating more awareness and making the resources more accessible to them rather then appeasing them? Won’t the broader problem remain unsolved by just appeasing them? Why didn’t any political party oppose to the lollypop of reservations to Muslims? Isn’t it similar to creating vote banks with caste based politics? Why not have some other criteria for reservations apart from caste and religion?

The answer to all the questions above lie in what MJ Akbar had once written in his article. “Indian Muslims will get development the day they vote for development. For sixty years they have voted out of fear, so that is what they have got from those they elected: the politics of fear.”

The community needs to self introspect and avoid being used as a vote bank. Community leaders need to empower their community through better education and awareness. Muslims have to realise they will get development only when they demand and vote for it. They need to seek answers from their leaders. They should make their elected personal more accountable. Things will change, if the community takes the initiative to bring that change. People of country will readily support them if they are given privileges as a citizen of this country and not as Muslims of the country. Change has to come within community itself.

A closed mind can never liberate a community from the shackles.

Where the CPM scores over the BJP and Congress…

If you thought only the Congress and BJP were singing their way to the 15th Lok Sabha election, then visit the CPI (M)’s official campaign website! One of the links in the website reads ‘songs’ and once you click on it, you are led to four CPM campaign songs – Mehengi Roti Sasti Jaan (Unaffordable food, cheap lives), Haalat Desh Ke Maange Badlao (The situation in the country calls for change), Vikalp Naya Lao Is Baar (Vote for a new alternative this time) and 100 Mein 33 Lekar Rahenge (Will get 33 in 100, in the context of the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill). (http://www.vote.cpim.org/node/1352)

Party politburo member Brinda Karat had, earlier this month, released a compact disc containing these four audio songs though I chanced upon them only today.

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised after listening to the songs which are based on themes ranging from price rise and hunger to women’s reservation. These are the broad themes being used by the party in its campaign. The songs are melodious and original (unlike Congress’s Jai Ho and BJP’s Bhai Ho!) and the lyrics are relevant, stimulating and intelligent.

While the first and the third songs have amazingly peppy and catchy tunes and you take to them immediately, the second song is slow yet powerful. Though most of the songs have an anti-Congress tenor (presumably because it was at power at the center), they are not negative or degrading to the party but rather, they concentrate on the problems of the country (whether or not we agree with the CPM’s assessment of our situation is a different issue.) Unlike the BJP’s ‘Bhai Ho’, which is a direct and juvenile counter to the Congress version of the song, the CPM campaign songs are more dignified and do not seem like a childish response to somebody else’s creative (or lack of it!) attempt.

Or for that matter, these songs are not narcissistic and self-indulging like Congress’ ‘Jai Ho’, which concentrates more on praising the party than making the voter aware of its future agenda.

The fact that the CPM does not have resources to match up to the Congress or the BJP is well known, which perhaps explains why these songs are not being splashed across our TV screens or FM stations.

Which party gets my vote behind the Electronic Voting Machine remains a secret, but the CPM definitely gets my vote in the ‘Best campaign song’ category.

Jai Hind’s comments:

No doubt CPM has been innovative in creating their political campaigning material. I would call it ‘Good Marketing’ but unfortunately low on budget.
But that doesn’t ensure they would act for good without vested benefits after they are elected.
And moreover, I am totally against gender-based reservations. Rather you should ensure that everyone(irrespective of gender) gets proper and equal education, opportunities and recognition.
You should go through Sakshi‘s post

Originally published on livemint (via @livemint)

Samajwadi’s Party Manifesto is a Joke!!

THIS IS a time when the nation is looking forward for some able and determined leaders. But Samajwadi Party (SP) has made a mockery of everything. The manifesto released by the party has a few very ‘good’ points, which can take India back to the year 1900.

The vision or should I call it a joke, has come as soother for many of us, who were bugged with the promises of various political parties. Samajwadi Party’s manifesto has established it as an antonym to progress. This is the party, which has a bonding with leading corporate houses. Big names like Jaya Prada, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Nafisa Ali are associated with the party. 

This party claims itself to be the champion of secularism and appeasement. After reading the manifesto, I was only laughing on these big wigs and wondering what vision this regional party has. The SP has truly redefined the meaning of retrograde. 

Here are the key ‘promises’ made by Samajwadi Party’s poll Manifesto:
 
1) Put a ban on English medium education.
2) Remove English language as a medium from all offices and educational institutions
3) Remove all computers from offices and institutes.
4) Ban the use of machinery in agriculture. Tractors will be replaced by bullock carts.
5) No to share trading and stock market operations.
6) Take action against high corporate salaries.
7) Mall culture will be stopped.
8) The salaries provided by private companies should be at par with the minimum wages for labourers. 9) All English medium schools, providing expensive education, will be abolished.
10) Improve relations with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
11) Action against communal powers and attack on the roots of terrorism.
12) Unemployment Allowance Scheme for unemployed youth.
13) Welfare schemes for lawyers and the business community.
14) Farmers’ cause to be taken up with the highest priority.
 
If this is the vision of party, which is hoping to be the ‘king maker’ in the upcoming General Elections, then this is the time to rethink before voting. This manifesto is totally against time. It seems that Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh have lost their mind somewhere. They are now in a damage control mode but this has clearly exposed their parochial state of mind.

But despite this, Samjawadi Party will win some seats in the elections. This is the irony of this country that people have always voted without thinking. Even if I neglect all the points in the manifesto, I cannot neglect the eleventh point. They haven’t talked of generating employment and have proudly agreed to give the allowance to unemployed. I would request all the voters that please use your vote judiciously. It is high time to set a few things right in our democratic set up.

A Request to Sanjay Dutt

LET’S START with some background check on Sanjay Dutt. Sanjay Dutt is the son of Late Sunil Dutt and Late Nargis Dutt. His parents’ story was that of a Muslim girl marrying a Hindu boy. May be that’s what has compelled ‘junior’ Dutt to pass a statement like “Jab mai police custody me tha to police wale mujhe third degree dete the. Wo mujhe marte the aur kehte the ki tumhari maa musalman hai, (when I was in the jail, I was given third degree by the police. They used to beat me and tell that your mother is Muslim)” when campaigning for rally at Mau, where 40 per cent population is Muslim. Ideally, such type of public utterances should not have come from Dutt considering he is a public figure. Perhaps he thinks that through this he can connect with Muslim voters and play another gimmick in politics. I am peeved to see that a person who has swore by ‘being an Indian’ in his reel life is talking on religious lines. What a pity!!

Sanjay Dutt should not forget that he is convicted under illegal possession of arms and has been handed sentence for six years. It is just because of his ‘superstar’ background, money and sheer luck that he is out on bail. He has faced criticism from several quarters for his proven links with the conspirators of the Mumbai serial blasts. He possessed a mass destruction weapon, an AK-47 rifle, which ironically, he said, was for self defense. :)

By the way, can Dutt explain from where all of a sudden his love for Lucknow has aroused? The only connection I can read is that ‘the visionary’ Samajwadi Party (after reading their manifesto) tried playing one more political gimmick. We all very well know that Sanjay Dutt has no connection with Lucknow except for the fact that his father was given shelter in this city after the partition and he visited that home many times later.

I don’t think that Sanjay Dutt is naïve not to understand that SP is just utilising his celebrity status to consolidate its vote bank. The party had no connections with him before and nor they have anything to do with his sufferings, humiliations and tragic past.

It’s high time that Sanjay Dutt should realise that the moment he entered the domain of politics with a public image he would be targeted for what he has done in the past.

Just a piece of advice for Sanjay Dutt from his fan. If he really wants to serve people then there are ways other than politics too. I have strong feelings that he should quit politics. If he doesn’t then there will be questions all around from his friends/fans/foes. He is still respected from some quarters all because of the goodwill of his father and mother (not talking of professional image). As an actor also, he has a good record. He is loved for his roles and especially after his Munnabhai films, his public image has also considerably improved. But by moving into the politics his past will again come to haunt him.

I hope I have been able to convince that  Dutt is not a political material. Somewhere I can’t see an MP residing within him.

Whatever may be the scenario, I, as a citizen of India am satisfied that Supreme Court put a lid on his political ambition. I just hope that Sanjay refrains from any sort of hate speech in order to put his career in politics on track.

Can’t we think beyond reservations?

Reservations on baseless criterion has created further divisions in the already divided Indian society. Our political parties are persistently surfacing with manifestos and promises to lure voters into their votebanks.

In yet another move to use the reservations as a convenient toy to bloat up their votebank, the Lok Jan Shakti Party headed by Ramvilas Paswan has come out with few unique ideas.

What LJP has done is that it has promised to have a ‘Dalit Regiment’ in the army to make representation of Dalits in the armed forces and to infuse self-respect among them. Paswan has gone a tad bit further in making an optimum use of the tool of reservations, saying that his party wants to extend the sfacility of reservation for SC/ST, OBC and minorities to judicial services and establishment of National Judicial Services.

The manifesto has promised to take the initiative for socio-economic and educational development of minorities, especially Muslims, in the light of the findings of the Sachar Committee.

Here are some of made by the promises by LJP as a part of its election manifesto:

  • The symbol of integrity, Indian Army will have regiments on the basis of caste.
  • Reservation for SC/ST, OBC and minorities in Judicial services.
  • Reservation for SCs and STs in the private sector.
  • 15 per cent reservation for minorities, with 10 per cent for Muslims only.
  • Removal of 50 per cent ceiling on reservation.

Paswan, who was a minister in the NDA government, left it a year before the 2004 elections.

He then joined the UPA and became the Union Minister of Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers. Now, he has broken from the UPA as well and formed a ‘secular’ alliance with Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal. These state level leaders have lost hold in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In an attempt to make his playing field much bigger, the party manifesto has also supported the demand of formation of Telangana, Vidarbha, Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand and Vikas Pardesh in western UP.

LJP, RJD and SP have always been opportunistic. They will be readily available after the results of elections are declared. On the basis of their own performance they will play a deal game.

How long will we see such appeasements on caste and religion to lure voters?

It’s an appeal to all well-meaning citizens, not to be the victims of vote bank politics. Let’s ask political parties to come up with an agenda. An agenda to provide employment to youth and powering the underprivileged to be able to manage their own food.

With our leaders coming up with such dividing policies, my earnest request to all the voters would be to please think practically and sensibly before casting your votes.