Revisiting Kargil with Ex Army Chief VP Malik

Mumbai: Ten years after India’s stirring military victory at Tiger Hill in Kargil, the then Army Chief General VP Malik has broken his silence.

For the first time on television, he has confessed that the high casualties suffered by the Indian Army during the Kargil War were agonising for the military leadership. The General bares his heart out in a rare emotional interview to CNN-IBN’s Vishal Thapar.

For the General who led the blood and guts Indian fight back at Kargil, the deaths of 527 troops in pushing out Pakistani intruders were traumatic. “The most critical moment I was always scared of was the morning briefing, when I was told that in the last 24 hours we have lost so many people. That was the most scary part of the day for me,” said the war-time Army Chief.

As the Indian fight back rolled on from Tololing to Tiger Hill, the death of heroes like Captain Vikram Batra – whom he had personally commended for valour in the battlefield – were heavy blows. I remember giving him a bottle of scotch after his first battle, which he had done so well. After .4875 had been captured, there was no Vikram Batra because we had lost him. So it hurts,” described Gneral Malik.

Captain Batra’s victory call sign, Yeh Dil Maange More (the heart desires more), is one of the iconic highlights of the brutal war, it still haunts General Malik. “I’ve still got that clip with me,” said General Malik. In the thick of all the mayhem of the battlefield, there was loneliness for the man in the middle.

“Those were tense moments and sometimes we didn’t sleep properly,” he said.

With his country’s honour and his own reputation on the line, the General turned to his foot soldier on the battlefront for motivation.

“In Kargil nobody ever told me this can’t be done, every soldier was full of high spirit,” he recalled. It was the spirit of the Indian soldier on the battlefield, which steeled the leadership. And therein a famous victory was forced.

Source: IBN

Kargil Martyr’s family still waiting for fulfillment of Government’s promise

A DECADE ago, Indian Armed Forces fought one of the toughest battles in Kargil against Pakistani soldiers and terrorists. The enemy was uprooted and it became an embarrassment for the enemy who declined to accept the bodies of its nationals.

How many of you remember the name Saurabh Kalia today? If you don’t, then for your reference, he was one of the first casualties in the Kargil war. Saurabh Kalia of 4 Jat Regiment, was the first army officer to report incursion by the Pakistani army on Indian soil had along with five soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector when they were taken captive by the Pakistani troops on May 15, 1999.

They were brutally tortured for weeks before their mutilated bodies were handed over to Indian authorities on June 9, 1999. Saurabh Kalia was posted in Kargil as his first posting after passing out from the Indian Military Academy and did not even live long enough to receive his first pay packet as an officer. The supreme sacrifice made by Saurabh and his team has faded away from our memory.

Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee assured the nation that he will take the issue of barbaric treatment of the Prisoners of War (POWs) by Pakistan on international stage. But ten years down the line, this has ended as just another promise made by our government.

NK Kalia, father of Captain Kalia said in an interview, “Of course, his supreme sacrifice has made us proud but what has exhausted, disappointed and dejected us is that the nation, for which he has sacrificed his life least bothered to highlight the plight of war crimes at the international fora.” The family is running from one office to another to ensure that no other POW meets the same fate as the six heroes did. But the history of Indian government has been such that they forget these heroes as soon as they are in a safe zone. They did it after 1971 war and repeated it in 1999. “Is this the way the government treats its heroes?” If the same thing would have happened in America and Israel, culprits would have been brought to justice.

But this is India. Like always, we remember Armed Forces and other Security Agencies when we are in trouble but have rarely stood up for our soldiers. A soldier performs his duty and never expects to get recognition for the same. But as a grateful citizen, we must stand up for him. Don’t forget that we are sleeping happily with our family because few men are awake at the borders, toiling and battling for us. Hope that government will take some action and do something for POW at international level.

Congress MP denigrates success of Operation Vijay

THE APATHY and shamelessness of our politicians is yet again highlighted by the comments made by Rashid Alvi, a Congress member of Parliament. In an interview to correspondent of Headlines Today, he said “Kargil isn’t a thing to be celebrated. The war was fought within our territory. We didn’t even come to know when the Pakistani army crossed over and built bunkers inside our territory. It’s only the NDA, which may celebrate.”Union Coal Minister, Sri Prakash Jaiswal asked, “When is Vijay Divas celebrated?” to the same channel.


Later, live on the channel, he was remorseless even when accused; by father of Kargil martyr Vijayant Thapar, of politicising the war.

I must tell this fellow that Kargil was due to the failure of intelligence and other reasons. The enemy occupied the nation’s territory and it was imperative to dislodge the enemy. The battle, which was fought saw the supreme sacrifice made by our soldiers. Let us not politicise the war for personal gains. You must acknowledge the bravery, commitment and patriotism of the soldiers.

This so-called MP must understand that every day, there are so many patriots dying to save the nation. Let’s not use the soldier of this country as a punching bag. Every year, since Kargil at least 400 security personnel have died in action across India. We are fighting a war within the territory and on borders. Is their martyrdom less significant?

It might be for you, Rashid Alvi but not for majority of population in India. You cannot hurt the sentiments of a billion people. Please refrain from politicising the issue. Alvi, while putting a question to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, last year referred to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) as ”Azad Kashmir,” little knowing that India’s policy is to call it PoK. This is what he knows about India and her geography.
The MP’s like him are a danger for this nation.

It is a humble request to Alvi that he must render apoplogy to this nation and realise his mistake.

We need to learn to honour our brave soldiers.

Jai Hind

Mayawati: Vision of Development and Handbag!

MAYAWATI’S STATUE-BUILDING spree has been termed as a demonstration of her narcissism. Remember that Uttar Pradesh  is one of the most underdeveloped states in the country. In the last assembly elections, the people of Uttar Pradesh had given their Behenji an entire term to rule them. They believed in her “Sarv Jan Hitay Sarv Jan Sukhay” slogan and delivered their mandate. I have “serious objections” to those who are raising the point that Behenji is wasting our money. We must understand that every politician has his/her own vision.

Maywati's Statue
Maywati's Statue

Mayawati seriously believes that development can be achieved through building statues. So that is what she is doing. There might be a power crisis in the state but the people should not worry because the electricity that will “light the statues” will also give their homes some light. Something is better than nothing. She might not be doing anything to bring investments to the state, but her decision to erect statues has generated employment for hundreds.
This was the precisely the reason why Ambedkar Park was razed and a new monument was erected in Lucknow in memory of Manyawar Kanshi Ram. Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula had the same objective in mind when he ordered the building of the Imambara after his people were unable to make ends meet after a bad drought. What’s wrong with it? Elephant statues await you in Lucknow. The elephant is a symbol of power. Mayawati is powerful and so is the state of Uttar Pradesh. The state has a population that exceeds even that of neighbouring Pakistan.

To ensure that we remain powerful, we pay no heed towards the population problem and it ensures that the  state plays a big role in the country’s politics. This is the precise reason that we have a “developed” state and why it is scaling new heights. The power and water crisis, lack of infrastructure, investments, and law and order, are just the words used by politicos. But by now, we have “adapted” to it. So who cares for these “words”. Do remember to contribute towards the fund of Behenji’s birthday. You could end up risking your life.

The state might not have any jobs for its students but it has ensured that the state becomes an old age home with children moving to other states for employment. This must be a way to control the population of the state. The new parks and statues will attract more tourists and will increase the wealth in the “Sarkari Khajana” for more “such developmental schemes”. The curriculum of the state board may see some changes as well. We need some reforms in education and it will be great to have a dedicated lesson on “Mayawati and her development vision for Uttar Pradesh.”

Twenty years down the line, I will walk on the lanes of Lucknow with my kids. They will gawk at the statue of the lady with a handbag. I will tell them that it was our Behenji who made this state developed and  prosperous. The parks that we enjoy, were built under her regime. 

But that bag which you see carries MY MONEY.

Racism in Mumbai!

Last week there has been series in HT on how we treat foreigners and those who might be different from us. Our racism is largely, but not exclusively, based on colour. Caste and ethnicity is the biggest factor in India’s racism. As a student and now as a professional, I have also felt sometime that we have some rooted prejudices. Mumbai, the largest city of India and having population of over 1.5 crores is perhaps very proud of its cosmopolitan culture. We have people from all parts of the country. Forget whether we are racist in treating blacks and whites from foreign countries as it has already been covered by this newspaper. Lets’ talk about racism that we have for our own country men on basis of their ethnic origin.
The identity politics of the state has further fueled this racism and is a dent on image of Mumbai worldwide. Politicians are trying to make each of us realize that we belong to  particular community, speak specific language, have different cultures and this is leading us to feel that we are not  ‘Indian’ first.
Some decades back we had a political propaganda against “Lungis” (South Indians), then Muslims and most recent “the Bhaiyyas”(North Indians especially from UP and Bihar). In our daily talks, I have heard many of us using phrases/slangs like  “Kya Marwari hai” for a person whom we consider miser, “typical Gujju mindset” for the one who is more interested in money,  “Chinkis” for any resident belonging to North Eastern part of the country. Maharshtrians are identified by the word “Ghati.” Though it is meant simply for the people living around Western Ghats but now this term is mostly used in derogatory manner.  Anyone south of the Vindhyas is a Madrasi, and never mind if it includes residents of Karnataka and Kerala. They are ridiculed for their accent. Once during my college, a batch mate asked a friend that if he is South Indian then How come he has “fair skin”?  A dark complexioned guy/gal is always jeered. We had a friend in hostel who was very dark skinned and automatically many of the hostelites started calling him “kalia” or “kallan”.
“The Bhaiyyas” is used as abusive slang. Recently I was in a garment store at Dadar. A customer and shopkeeper had heated argument on price of jacket. They were abusing each other and trying the customer was trying to make shopkeeper realize his “aukat”. Then as he was leaving he said “Bhaiyya hai saala.” I smiled because they both didn’t argue in Hindi Language and yet shopkeeper was “labeled bhaiyya”. :)

Similar sort of racism you will come across if you are caught by a traffic police. If you know the tongue of traffic police you are easily let off else you are in trouble. Yesterday I complained to my flat owner that their was problem with the ceiling of flat. He said sarcastically that this problem was all because of “ghati” living on the above floor.
One more thing which i have noticed in Mumbai is so many organizations entertaining only people belonging to particular caste/community. As long as these groups are for cultural purposes it is very fine but the moment they restrict the group to themselves ONLY, it becomes racist. We have several groups of Marathas, Uttar Bhartiyas, Gujratis, Jains, South Indians, etc. Most of these groups are headed by political leaders and are used in creating and mobilizing vote banks. We have various housing societies which allocate or don’t allocate flats to people belonging to particular community.
We become perfect in whatever we practice. And with my experience I can say that in Mumbai Knowingly/unknowingly we have become racist. We all use racist remarks in everyday life and don’t realize that too. Interestingly we are practicing racism against our own countrymen. Mumbai is known for its cosmopolitan culture. Cosmopolitan means free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments. But within this beautiful city we are creating local boundaries.
The concept of inclusive society is slowly becoming farce in our Mumbai.

The Berlin Wall of India

It’s a show of greatness that a land of billion, with diversity stretching through the depths of cultures, traditions, languages, religions, thoughts, intellectuals, landscapes and conflicts has been successful not only in being strongly unified, but also in constantly refreshing the dignity of democracy. Today this land where poverty once scratched the streets in numbers almost entirely, has defied the notion of ‘failed state’ once inflicted on the rejuvenating wounds of its freedom fighters. India has come a long way, through many generations, with revived human spirit each of whom has added its touch of significance in the making of this ‘Brand India’.

But as paradoxical as it may seem, India still seems to be in a state of eternal bleeding. An era, when millions once walked together in attire as white as the thought of the person who led them, crushing the barriers of religion and untouchability has long been doomed by the curse embedded in our thought and actions by the new era politics. Its ripples have long been felt and destroyed the new rays of hope that seemed to appeal to the mass at large. India, for almost its entire existence as a sovereign republic, has dreaded the rise of conflicts formed largely as a catalyst of divisive politics. It has driven India on a path, led by the vigour of violence, into constant consolidation. What remains is the growth of the economy with the courage of its people in an environment unknown when to burst into the fires of ideological conflicts.

Today a new era of regional politics has sprouted in lands which once lay resistant to the forces of language based theories. The people, once respectful to the ways of others standards, have now gripped themselves into the trap which lay open to any unfortunate souls. These political parties, who juggled into the politics of ‘Indian Culture’, are the same breed going against the principles of this very culture, characterising on the basis of language and region. What’s harder to digest is the way people have accepted this stain to fit themselves into a frame, not first as citizens of this nation, but formerly as that of their communities. Rather than encouraging people to empower themselves with the skills required for survival in such competent surroundings, these so-called leaders rather prefer to enlighten their minds with their hate speeches, trying to provide them with skills just enough to get away with the policies of reservations.

The ‘Berlin Wall of India’ had been destroyed long back, but its brick by brick construction had also started soon after. The forces which were once made to sway away during the struggle suddenly got a highway soon after independence (mostly as a result of the partition). Today’s politicos have become the Brand (or rather Grand) ambassadors of the ‘divide and rule’ philosophy. The very basic principles of our struggle have been squashed by the greed of a few people desperate to make their mark in a world of coalition government. What remains to be seen is how the country manages to stay afloat with peace and harmony, avoiding the gimmicks posted by these politicians, encouraged by the TRP-centred media and let off too loosely by the judiciary.

India’s borders may not ever be stressed any further, but its people’s outlook, attitude, thoughts and actions have already been affected by the swift rise of the ‘Berlin Wall’ in their minds.

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.

A battle is lost, but not the war

Kanchan Gupta / Analysis

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was given to moments of jocular frivolity at times of great stress, for instance on the eve of election results. At the fag end of the 1999 election campaign, a senior journalist asked him what would rate as one of the most banal, if not asinine, questions: “Mr Vajpayee, who do you think will emerge winner?” Without batting his eyelids, Mr Vajpayee replied, “Of course the BJP.” That was contrary to what opinion polls, including one commissioned by his party, were saying: The Congress, according to pollsters, had an edge over the BJP. Later that evening, I made a passing reference to the ease with which he was predicting a BJP victory in the face of a concerted Congress assault. Mr Vajpayee laughed it off and then said, “Nobody can predict the outcome of an election, never mind what politicians and pollsters say.” Placing three fingers of his right hand face down on his left palm, he added, “Any election is like a game of ‘teen patti’ (three-card game). Till such time you turn the cards and see them, you can only guess what has been dealt to you. Similarly, till the votes are counted, nobody can say with any certitude what lies in store for the contestants.”

On the face of it, such wisdom may appear commonplace. After all, veterans of electoral wars would be the first to agree that no battle is won or lost till the last vote is counted. Yet, come election time and every politician and pollster tries to outguess the voter, more often than not coming to grief. The 1999 opinion polls, including the one commissioned by the BJP, turned out to be way off the mark. The BJP and its allies were returned to power with a majority of their own; the Congress had to eat humble pie. So also with the exit polls that were telecast 72 hours before the results of the 2009 general election were declared on Saturday — they didn’t quite forecast such a stunningly stupendous performance by the Congress and the BJP’s astonishing failure to meet its own expectations, fuelled by internal assessments that failed to reflect the popular mood. Whoever predicted on the basis of an ‘exit poll’, and thereby made the party look silly on Saturday, that the NDA would get 217 seats compared to the UPA’s 176 owes more than a mere explanation.

The Congress, no doubt, has won a splendid victory; not to accept this fact would be sheer cussedness. Having said that, it would be equally incorrect to subscribe to the view that at the moment the Congress is riding the crest of a tidal popularity wave which in the coming days will turn into a tsunami of support for the party. Yes, the Congress has made stupendous gains, but a close scrutiny of the results will show that they are not entirely at the expense of the BJP. Nor have the gains accrued to the Congress on account of either policy or programme. For instance, the Congress has picked up a large number of seats in Kerala and West Bengal for reasons that are entirely different. In Kerala, the Left has paid a huge price for infighting within the CPI(M) that has spilled into the streets: A divided cadre couldn’t get their act together. In West Bengal, the Left has been decimated because popular resentment with the CPI(M) for the various sins of omission and commission of the Marxists reached tipping point in this election, helped in large measure by the alliance between the Trinamool Congress and the Congress.

In States where the BJP has lost seats to the Congress, the credit largely goes to saboteurs within the party. It is no secret that a section of the BJP worked against the party’s nominees in certain constituencies in Madhya Pradesh. In Rajasthan, the reasons that led to the BJP’s defeat in last year’s Assembly election remain unresolved. In Uttarakhand, infighting has led to the BJP’s rout. In Jammu & Kashmir, the BJP could have won in Udhampur and Jammu if the local party units had not abandoned the candidates whom they saw as ‘outsiders’. In Maharashtra, the BJP failed to correctly assess the strength of Mr Raj Thackeray’s MNS which has turned out to be a spoiler in Mumbai’s urban constituencies where the party stood a good chance of winning. By default, the Congress has benefited on account of the BJP’s deficiencies. Nowhere is this more evident than in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP clearly failed to sense the shift in voter preference and ended up under-estimating its ability to pick up additional seats which have now gone to the Congress, swelling its national tally.

These reasons apart, at the end of the day what emerges is that the Congress has reached where it has on account of four factors whose impact could not have been predicted at any stage during the campaign when popular mood is palpable. First, the ‘Chiru factor’ has put paid to the TDP’s hopes of staging a comeback. The Congress has gained in the process. Second, the ‘Vijaykant factor’ has spiked the AIADMK’s electoral prospects. The ‘Black MGR of Tamil Nadu politics’ has turned out to be a classic spoiler. Third, the ‘Mamata factor’ was never seriously factored in, especially by the Left, while calculating the possible outcome of this election. Ironically, the amazing collapse of the Left has worked to the detriment of the BJP. Fourth, the ‘urban factor’ continues to elude logical interpretation. If the voting trend is any indication, we must come to the conclusion, and regretfully so, that India’s middleclass is no longer guided by the moral compass. Nothing else explains why corruption should cease to be an election issue and the brazen exoneration by the Congress of those who have looted India fetch no more than a cynical, couldn’t-care-less response. It is equally surprising that the middleclass should have chosen to overlook the mishandling of the national economy by the UPA Government and the pitiable state of internal security. We would have thought that these are concerns that agitate the middleclass the most since they shout the most about corruption, price rise and terrorism.

There is, however, no percentage in looking back. The BJP remains a national alternative to the Congress, more so after this election which has pushed regional parties and their identity politics to the margins of national politics. The BJP’s tally is nothing to scoff at. There is no shame in sitting in the Opposition and preparing for the next battle. Elections come and go, but parties remain. It is for their leaders to use the interregnum to reflect on mistakes, regain organisational strength and revive hope among the faithful. There are, after all, no full stops in politics, and life does not come to an end with the declaration of results.


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.

Participate in the Democratic Process

Very well said Sakshi, only God can bless India!! Because u have decided that u are not going to vote coz u don’t have any choice. But dear this is the democracy where if u are opposed of LK Advani being elected to PM or Dr MMS or Mayawati then there is a great possibility that a huge chunk of people do want them to become PM. If you are not open to what they feel/believe then i think u haven’t understood what the democracy exactly is. It is that form of system where people can voice their opinions on varying topics. Your views can be for or against but then there will be views against your views as well. This is the very essence of a democracy. You come to conclusion on the basis of discussion.
You say you don’t have any option to vote for. Then get out on election day and say that “I VOTE NOBODY”. Use 49-o for this purpose.
This is the privilege that u have been given by ur country to vote otherwise their are many countries where people are fighting to get this right. And u are disregarding it. If you are not willing to vote then u are not a participant in the democratic set up and u have no rights to blame the wrong/unjustified policies/rules/laws of the politicians.
If you feel that their is no choice available then take your future in your hand and u can become that able leader for whom the nation is looking for. But will u do it? If no then it means that u are only adding to the chaos of the political setup in the country.
Politics is not the dirty game, it is just that it has dirty players. If we can change the players the problem is solved. Remember one thing, that the corrupt/criminals etc are voted to power just because few of the very well educated enjoy the election day hanging out with friends/family. If you are not fulfilling your duty towards this nation then u just have no right to expect that others will do their duty.
I believe in one thing that the day voting percentage in this country will increase to say 85-90% only able leaders and politicians will be elected. It is very important thus to participate in the democratic process. Use 49-o, make more people aware of the same, choose the best candidate or choose the best from the worst. And in this process try to find a leader in yourself. It is this irony that all the netizens/youth/citizens are waiting in hope that one day some one will rise and take India to greater heights. It is this approach that will be more detrimental to our country than our politicians. We need to be the change. This younger generation will have to participate very proactively in the democratic process else only God will Save India……..
So get out and Vote….
That is the best thing to start up……