Saturday, April 14, 2012


Both so-called national political parties and their coalitions, UPA and NDA are in serious disarray and disintegration. Both have reached this stage by antagonizing Muslim voters in states as well as on national level. Their reputation has been so damaged that elections after election, the Muslim marginal votes that could have saved them from going under, has been irretrievably lost to them. The Muslim voters' trump card has become very aware, very choosy and very decisive. Muslim masses have now fully realized that both 'national' political parties are nothing but communal Brahmin organisation and will never ever give any handle to Muslims as long as they are in power. The regional parties, though sprung from the same milieu are now starting from a clean slate and had come to full realization that without Muslim support they can never come to power. National media has finally gathered courage to project the disarray of the both national parties and openly weave Muslim factor into their disintegration scenario. The worst party is that both Congress as well as BJP have become so committed to their anti-Muslim policies, that they just cannot make any change their policies - Congress with its communal tradition, BJP with its Hindutva baggage.

This is the time, Muslims should start formulating their own strategies, to reward only those that meet their demands or/and form their own Muslim led political vehicles, however much inexperienced, untested, under-funded, unorganized. 

Time is on their side.

The following 2 OP-ED articles in leading English Newspapers, are enough to prove the hopeless state of the both leading Brahminical political parties.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


National Interest: BJP, the lonely

Shekhar Gupta
: Sat Apr 14 2012, 01:37 hrs

UPA is sinking, but the BJP is adrift, having failed to reconfigure itself to a changing urban India

There are reasons why it is easy to understand the BJP’s jubilation at the Gujarat SIT’s reprieve to Narendra Modi, and there are reasons why it isn’t. For a full decade now, Modi has been the party’s unanointed leader. A star, crowd-puller and vote-catcher, though that claim has never been proven outside his state. So you can see why the BJP should be happy with what they see as Modi crossing one more hurdle on his way to the national stage. The problem, however, is that while he may fire the imagination of the faithful, he would still bring — no matter how many exonerations he collects — the baggage of his past that will make it that much tougher for the BJP to rebuild NDA into a real claimant in 2014. In indictment as much as in exoneration, the Modi phenomenon cuts both ways. It gets more votes from your own, but raises barriers for many likely allies. The issue with Modi is not legal, but political. Even if he is never convicted, or even charged by a court for any role in the 2002 riots, he will continue to be spoilt goods politically. This will reduce the resultant NDA to three parties at best: the BJP, Akali Dal and Shiv Sena, the core of natural allies.

This is not the only contradiction the BJP has to deal with. But this is the most challenging. Modi cannot be the answer to their prayers in 2014 unless he can lead this three-member NDA to a 225-plus mark. The rest will then be found among some of the regional parties, notably one of the Dravidian parties. That, no matter how damaged the UPA is by 2014, looks improbable.

That is why, moments of celebration at legal victories apart, the BJP has to rethink its politics and ideological offering more carefully if it has to have a chance.

The party’s central problem is this: even more than who is whose natural ally, coalitions in India will be formed on the basis of who will never go with whom. Because of this, the BJP, even with someone more widely acceptable than Modi in the lead, would need at least 200 seats in the Lok Sabha to have any chance of reaching that half-way mark, whereas for the Congress, 150 could still be the 272 in 2014. This is easy to explain. L.K. Advani often says he is open to aligning with anyone but the five parties that consider the BJP anti-national. These are the Congress, the Left, SP, RLD and IUML. But of the rest too, any party with any hope of getting the Muslim vote would never join an NDA unless it is led by a Vajpayee-like inclusive personality. The BJP hasn’t got one even remotely like that, and Modi will be the exact opposite. In fact, with Modi as leader, the alliance will find it impossible even to hold its biggest star today, Nitish Kumar. It was Vajpayee’s personality that brought Mamata, Naveen Patnaik and Chandrababu Naidu into the NDA. With Modi in front, you can write off all of these. Even with a less controversial leader, a first among equals who may emerge closer to the elections from the BJP’s current top five, it is difficult to see any of these satraps risking minority votes, particularly when the BJP as an ally cannot bring them many transferable votes in their respective states.

How does the BJP handle this challenge? Or can it? One way is to accept the limitations of its politics and look for that “first among the equals” outside. For example, Nitish, or a Nitish with multi-state appeal if he/she brings a large contingent of MPs. That leader could then be the new, non-communal mukhauta (mask) of the BJP. But ask any of the party’s top five (Modi included) and they will ask you, is that why you think they have been in public life for all these decades? They see the Congress declining, its allies chafing and impatient, state after state falling to the opposition, a lurching government, a punch-drunk Rahul and a less and less visible Sonia. All this, with a scam a day, the growing conflict between the government and the institutions and a fast vapourising growth story, convince them that their moment has come. The question they are ducking is, however, is their politics ready to seize it?

In some ways it is, but in many, more important ones, it isn’t. What works for them is their chief ministers and regional leaders. The Congress has nobody even remotely comparable to Modi, Raman Singh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje, Prem Kumar Dhumal, Parkash Singh Badal, Nitish and even B.S. Yeddyurappa in their respective states. If the Shiv Sena and the MNS somehow merge, or come closer in the next two years, the UPA will struggle to get even a third of the seats in Maharashtra. But this is where the good news ends for the BJP.

They have wasted seven years now by failing to address the one issue that limits them to competing for not more than 70-75 per cent of the electorate even in the states where they are strong: suspicion of the minorities and the increasingly liberal-secular-modern urban Indian. Modi apart, many other aspects of their politics are out of tune with the times. It is one thing for them to get the “secular” parties, even UPA allies, to join hands with them in opposition to many central moves, like the NCTC and GST. This is great for embarrassing the Congress. But unless they move their
ideological positioning absolutely to the centre, these alliances will remain transient and fail to grow into partnerships in power. The BJP’s economics is one more example, though it is easier to rectify than Hindutva. Every time they block a reformist move or legislation, their own loyal as well as fence-sitting voters take note. 

If they want an India closest to the “socialist” promise of the preamble of its Constitution as rewritten by a Parliament on stolen time in the Emergency, wouldn’t they rather vote for the UPA? In marketing terms, then, what product differentiation does the BJP offer? And in the language of politics, you may just ask them: why can’t you see the writing on the wall?

TIMECREST.COM - A Times of India publication

When plan G failed


GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Those who know Sonia say that her heart is no longer in full-time politics. She's waiting for her son to take over

Few succession plans have unravelled as grievously as the one scripted for Rahul Gandhi. An eight-year long internship that bore a remarkable resemblance to a discovery of India tour was to have peaked in Uttar Pradesh to win back the Hindi heartland for the Congress and set the party on the road to revival. If the narrative had unfolded the way it was written, the 2012 UP assembly polls would have catapulted Rahul to political stardom and bestowed the legitimacy he hankered after for his accession. He would have earned his spurs as a charismatic young leader fit to head India's Grand Old Party.

But fate decreed otherwise. When the results came in, the Congress had finished a poor fourth in UP with Rahul comprehensively beaten by the scion of another political dynasty, Akhilesh Yadav, son of the wily Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Coming on top of poll debacles in two other states, including Punjab which the Congress had expected to win comfortably, the news from UP was more than a devastating personal blow. It was a huge setback to Rahul's future plans. His take-off stood aborted and his launching pad destroyed. Team Rahul's master plan for the coronation of the Congress party's new leader had collapsed.

It is evident from Rahul's body language and behaviour ever since the results came in that he has abandoned the trajectory that was mapped out for him. He disappeared twice to undisclosed destinations. When he showed up, he stayed in the background even as his party and the Manmohan Singh government lurched from crisis to crisis, instead of stepping up to lead from the front as he was expected to do after the UP polls. He seems to be mulling over his next steps.

He will obviously need a fresh script and from all available indications, the Gandhi family and Rahul's core team of aides and advisors are back at the drawing board, scratching their heads for ideas. "The aura will have to be recreated, " admitted a Congress leader who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We will have to build a new platform to launch him. "


The most obvious indication, and indeed an immediate consequence, of Rahul's reluctance to take a frontline leadership position at the moment is Sonia Gandhi's renewed activity. For two years, she has lain low, partly due to health reasons but also because she was keen to push Rahul forward. Congress leaders say that she used to encourage people to approach her son with their political problems and increasingly, state and national office bearers as well as government ministers had started consulting him on a range of issues. But after the poll disaster, she has perforce stepped in to fill the void that is looming because of Rahul's withdrawal.

For the past one month, she has been meeting Congress leaders and workers regularly. During the recent budget session, she would be found in her Parliament office for over an hour every morning. And in the afternoon, she has been receiving people at her 10 Janpath residence. Although she is not keeping the kind of hours she used to maintain in her early years as Congress president, when she often worked till late at night, she puts in nearly a full day, say party sources.

Those who know Sonia feel that this is merely a temporary measure while she waits for her son to take stock and chalk out his future moves. Her heart is no longer in full-time politics, they say, and although she is clearly much better after her surgery last year, her health does not allow her to keep the demanding schedule of a 24x7 politician. She wants Rahul to take over as soon as possible the seat she has kept warm for him for 15 years. This came through again most recently when she abruptly dropped out of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's lunch for Pakistani President Asif Zardari. Congress circles believe that Sonia wanted the spotlight to be on Rahul, who remains her chosen heir despite a dismal showing in UP.

Sonia may have to wait a while though before her wish is realised. After the collapse of the last succession plan, it will not be easy to craft a new one. Team Rahul is largely apolitical, inexperienced and now, on the back foot. In fact, some of them were the unstated target of criticism from UP Congress workers at the recent two-day meeting chaired by Rahul to review the UP debacle. The workers talked about a "videshi' ' style of functioning as opposed to "desi" style and wanted it changed. This was seen as a reference to Rahul's foreign-educated aides who flaunt BlackBerry phones and insist on email and SMS interactions rather than old fashioned face-to-face meetings.

According to an informed leader, there is a proposal to draft in some experienced hands to correct the imbalance. No names have been mentioned yet but it is possible that the Gandhi family may draw on those who helped to launch Sonia into politics.

These are family loyalists who successfully refashioned her public persona through innovative ideas like showcasing social welfare projects at a conclave of Congress chief ministers, taking her on road shows through villages in election-bound states and getting her to take a dip in the Ganges at the kumbh mela. From being perceived as a withdrawn veiled widow, Sonia was transformed into a benevolent rajmata-like figure. Unfortunately, some of those who were involved in the Sonia project are out of favour now, like M L Fotehdar and Natwar Singh;others are union ministers, like Ambika Soni, and would have to be brought in at the cost of weakening the government.


Perhaps the biggest challenge is how to insulate Rahul from the plummeting image of the Manmohan Singh government. Buffeted by a never-ending storm of corruption scandals, the government is in complete disarray with ministers openly taking potshots at each other. The infighting at the top is no longer a secret and Congress ministers now candidly talk about the war within amid deepening fault-lines between the PM, home minister P Chidambaram, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and defence minister A K Antony.

As long as Sonia was in command, ministers stayed within the boundaries of good behaviour. The problems erupted when the leadership transition process was set in motion. Sonia and Rahul seemed to have different timelines. She began withdrawing long before Rahul was ready to take over. He wanted to cross the milestone of the UP polls first but Sonia's health was too fragile to wait till 2012. Their inability to bridge this gap has played havoc with the party as well as the government, both of which have been drifting in a leadership vacuum and are now threatening to go into free fall.

A flashpoint is looming ahead in the upcoming presidential election, due in July. The Congress does not have enough votes in the electoral college to send a nominee of its choice to Rashtrapati Bhavan. It will have to try for a consensus candidate or risk an election which it could lose. The machinations have begun and regional leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee, who control large blocks of vote by virtue of the size of the states they rule, are in play as potential kingmakers.

There are added complications. Mukherjee has never hidden his desire to crown his long innings in politics with a stint in Rashtrapati Bhavan. And now, the names of Manmohan Singh and Antony have been added to the list of contenders. If the speculation is to be believed, the recent controversy around reports of a possible army coup was aimed at discrediting Antony and removing him as a presidential probable. Congress leaders frankly admit that the election of the next president could tear the party and the government apart, reviving memories of the manner in which Indira Gandhi split the Congress in 1969 after a wily manoeuvre in which the official party candidate was defeated by her nominee, V V Giri.


These are difficult times for the Congress and certainly not conducive for an image-building exercise that will pave the way for a smooth transition for Rahul. For the moment, the Gandhi scion seems to have decided to narrow his focus again and concentrate on UP rather than address the big picture. But his plans for UP are inextricably linked with the fate of the Manmohan Singh government. There is talk about shifting some of the younger UP ministers back to state politics. The names being mentioned are Jitin Prasada, RPN Singh and Pradeep Jain. There is also speculation that senior ministers like Salman Khurshid, Beni Prasad Verma and Sriprakash Jaiswal may pay a price for their unwarranted utterances during the campaign which many believe boomeranged on the party. In fact, Mulayam Singh Yadav is believed to have told a senior Congress minister that his party won 50 seats more than he anticipated after Jaiswal talked of president's rule in UP.

Rahul's brave talk about punishing those who failed to deliver in the assembly polls may not amount to much because of governmental compulsions. It is difficult to move out so many ministers without a clear plan like the one formulated by K Kamraj during Nehru's time. As many as six union ministers and six chief ministers resigned from their posts in 1963 to devote their energies to revitalising the party. But the Congress of today is quite different to Nehru's party and it lacks leaders like Kamraj who had stature and political acumen.

The pall of gloom hanging over the Congress has only deepened with the realisation that the succession for which it was waiting is not likely to happen soon. Although there is talk of a major reshuffle both in the organisation and in the government, most believe that the changes will only be cosmetic. Certainly not vigorous enough to pull the government out of its comatose state or prepare the party for the next Lok Sabha polls.

The Gandhi family rarely reveals its plans, preferring to keep the party guessing. Most Congress leaders are, therefore, clueless about Rahul's next moves. They know that discussions are taking place within the four walls of 10 Janpath and 12 Tughlak Lane to prepare a fresh launching pad for the man in whom the party has vested its future. But till the platform is ready, it looks like Sonia will have to shoulder the responsibility once again.


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