Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

AAP and agitations

People of Delhi voted overwhelmingly for AAP in Legislative Assembly elections and gave them 67 out of 70 seats to rule Delhi. They did not vote for AAP to sit at Jantar Mantar or fill jails, more so on an issue like Land Acquisition Bill.
Before elections Arvind Kejriwal had asked people’s forgiveness for quitting after 49 days. People forgave him and gave him a huge mandate. He should not let them down. His place of work is Delhi Secretariat. AAP ministers should be there. MLAs should meet their constituents and try to solve their problems. It is unbecoming of Arvind Kejriwal to sit at Jantar Mantar with Anna Hazare. It is worse that he asked all his MLAs including ministers and Speaker to sit at Jantar Mantar. Anna Hazare is a free man. He does not hold any public office. Arvind Kejriwal is chief minister. He, his ministers, MLAs hold public offices. They have a duty towards people. Work at Delhi Secretariat is not done or gets delayed. Time spent at Jantar Mantar is time lost for the people of Delhi.
Corruption is an issue that affects most people and they will support any agitation that is against corruption. Land acquisition is not an issue that affects city people and many others. It affects farmers. Farmers are free to protest. AAP leaders who represent farmers outside Delhi are free to protest.
AAP government came to power on 14/2/2015. Arvind Kejriwal said BJP and Congress lost due to arrogance. AAP lost Lok Sabha elections due to arrogance. Things are not simple as that. BJP lost Delhi Assembly election due to Kiran Bedi’s candidature as CM and some other reasons. AAP lost many seats or rather did not win many seats due to wrong candidates. Members who were with AAP from the beginning did not get tickets. Outsiders were called and given tickets. That dismayed AAP members who did not canvass for such candidates. Some outsiders, at least six, who got tickets, returned them as there was no support.
Arvind Kejriwal said for five years he will be in Delhi. He will not go out. That raises AAP’s future outside Delhi. AAP missed contesting elections in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir. A party that does not contest elections becomes irrelevant. Members leave such parties. Arvind Kejriwal is free to remain in Delhi for five years. AAP members outside Delhi should contest elections. If Arvind Kejriwal opposes they should form another party and contest elections.
Manish Sisodia on 23/2/2015 said a decision on filling jails will be taken after four months when the movement starts. If ministers go to jail it is constitutional breakdown. Lieutenant Governor will have to dissolve Delhi Legislative Assembly. Elections will follow. Kejriwal promised five years rule. It will be less than five months. People will not forgive him. People reduced BJP to three seats and Congress to zero. They can reduce AAP to zero.

AAP wins in Delhi

The best laid plans of men and mice go awry.
In 2014 AAP plan to quit government and contest and get clear majority in Legislative Assembly went awry. Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung did not dissolve Delhi Legislative Assembly. Consequently there were no elections for Legislative Assembly along with Lok Sabha elections. In 2015 BJP plans went awry.
The contest for Delhi Legislative Assembly was mainly AAP versus BJP versus Congress. There were other parties and independent candidates who were not expected to make much difference. Congress was not confident of winning and said it will not extend support to AAP.
BJP President Amit Shah planned BJP campaign. He was the strategist. He had succeeded in Lok Sabha elections and in Haryana and was somewhat successful in Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Jammu & Kashmir. His plans failed. Narendra Modi had concurred with Amit Shah.
Before the elections were announced there was an opinion poll. Headlines Today discussed that poll. Rajdeep Sardesai was the anchor. Delhi has 70 seats. The poll had given 41 seats to BJP. Seshadri Chari said BJP will get 49 seats. Rajdeep Sardesai said one BJP leader had said BJP will win 70 seats.
At that time the poll showed AAP had one advantage. Arvind Kejriwal was most preferred as chief minister. Around 43% preferred him. BJP and Congress leaders were far below that number.
At first BJP leaders said they will fight the election under Narendra Modi’s leadership. They will not have any CM candidate as in Maharashtra and Haryana. Arvind Kejriwal repeatedly questioned “Narendra Modi is PM. Who is your CM candidate?”
Jagdish Mukhi was expected to be BJP CM candidate. AAP posters pitted Arvind Kejriwal against Jagdish Mukhi. That did not go down well with other BJP CM contenders who wanted their pictures on posters but did not say openly but privately to Arvind Kejriwal.
Narendra Modi held a rally on 10/1/2015. Around 40% of the seats were occupied. The rally was seen as a failure.
BJP admitted people from other parties and gave them tickets. Krishna Tirath, Kiran Bedi and Shazia Ilmi joined BJP.
Baba Ramdev supported BJP.
On 19/1/2015 around 11 p.m. BJP declared Kiran Bedi as Delhi CM candidate. She will contest from Krishna Nagar. V. K. Binny from Patparganj. Nupur Sharma from New Delhi against Kejriwal. Krishna Tirath from Patel Nagar.
Manoj Tiwari, Jagdish Mukhi and others were not happy with Kiran Bedi as CM candidate.
Anna Hazare was unhappy with Kiran Bedi joining politics. Refused to take her calls.
Some said BJP has brought in Kiran Bedi to put the blame on her in case of defeat and spare Modi.
Congress did not declare a CM candidate. Aravinder Singh Lovely was unhappy as he was not made CM candidate. Few weeks back he had been declared as Congress candidate from his constituency. He was asked not to contest. Ajay Maken was Congress campaign chief.
Kejriwal challenged Kiran Bedi for a debate. Kiran Bedi said she believed in delivery. She will debate Kejriwal in Assembly.
Amit Shah went to West Bengal. Said Bhag Mamata Bhag. Many TMC leaders wanted to join BJP. Dinesh Trivedi praised Modi.
On 21/1/2015 Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Ajay Maken filed nominations. Kiran Bedi garlanded Lala Lajpat Rai’s statue with BJP scarf. There were protests in BJP office by supporters of leaders who did not get tickets. AAP changed two candidates. One did not know what happened. One accused there was demand of four crore rupees.
Shanti Bhushan praised Kiran Bedi and spoke against Arvind Kejriwal. Prashant Bhushan supported Arvind Kejriwal. Yogendra Yadav said this is not the time to talk of change of leadership of AAP.
Barack Obama was the chief guest for Republic Day Parade. Kiran Bedi was at front row during Parade. Sheila Dikshit and Arvind Kejriwal were not invited.
Kiran Bedi said AAP posters mentioning her as opportunist were illegal. She will complain to Election Commission and sue.
Kejriwal said BJP is planning fake sting operations against AAP members. Some BJP members want to defeat Kiran Bedi.
Ajay Maken said AAP and BJP are accusing each other and not saying what is their plan for Delhi.
Amit Shah was unhappy with the work BJP members were doing or rather not doing in Delhi.
He asked 19 ministers and 120 MPs to campaign in Delhi. Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitharaman and others did party work. Arun Jaitley leaving aside budget preparation for party work came in for criticism.
Kiran Bedi’s induction had caused discontent and instead of masterstroke had proved to be a self-goal. Kiran Bedi had two voter ID cards.
AAP complained to EC about Kiran Bedi distributing necklaces.
The tide was slowly turning in favour of AAP. On 30/1/2015 on To the Point Karan Thapar said surveys showed AAP was leading over BJP. As per Economic Times it was 11%.
On NewsX Arvind Kejriwal said Amit Shah has gagged Kiran Bedi. BJP members are working for AAP.
Markandey Katju wrote Shazia Ilmi is more beautiful than Kiran Bedi. Ilmi as CM candidate would have got more votes for BJP.
On 31/1/2015 AAP released 70 point manifesto. Free wifi for whole Delhi. If for Barack Obama’s visit we can put 15,000 CCTV cameras we can put 10-15 lakh cameras to protect our sisters and mothers. Women security is a priority. If Kiran Bedi becomes CM she will be puppet CM. Delhi will be business hub and tourism hub. Retirement age will not be lowered. 20 new colleges will be set up. Teachers will be appointed. Full statehood for Delhi. Cleaning of Yamuna. Tuition fees to be lowered.
Kiran Bedi said she takes responsibility for Delhi result. If she lost she will do lectures at Harvard and Oxford. On Twitter she wrote AAP is perverse and sexist.
On 2/2/2015 criminals damaged St. Alphonsa Church in Vasant Kunj, South Delhi.
AVAM (AAP Volunteers Action Manch) composed of former AAP members accused AAP of accepting black money on 5/4/2014. One of them had joined BJP on 15/1/2015. His Facebook page showed that. Yogendra Yadav on Headlines Today said it was not at midnight they received the money. They had received the cheques before. The entry was at midnight as per web site programme.
On 29/1/2015 Rahul Gandhi said Modi did not deposit 15 lakh rupees in every account. Wears 10 lakh rupees suit. Those who leave AAP join BJP.
On 30/1/2015 Jayanthi Natarajan quit Congress.
The Hindu published her letter to Sonia Gandhi on 5 November 2014.
Jayanthi Natarajan had press conference at 12.30 p.m. Blamed Rahul Gandhi for interference in matters of Environment & Forest Ministry. One day after Jayanthi’s sacking Rahul Gandhi addressed FICCI and said there will be no bottlenecks for industrialists. Jayanthi said stories were planted in the media that her resignation was not for party work. When minister she was asked by Ajay Maken to return from a tour and attack Modi on snoopgate. She did not want to do it and did it against her wishes. Girija Vyas and Shobha Oza were other spokespersons on Snoopgate. Sonia Gandhi did not give appointment to Jayanthi to meet her.
Modi had talked of Jayanthi tax. Jayanthi said when her party was bad to her others being bad was not strange.
Jayanthi’s grandfather Bhaktavatsalam was Madras’ chief minister. She said she was maligned.
Congress said Jayanthi was doing this because of blackmail.
On 5/2/2015 Christians in Delhi protested against vandalism of churches. Police didn’t allow them to go to Home Minister’s house in procession. Police imposed section 144 from Sacred Heart Cathedral to Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s House. Many protestors including Fr. Dominic Emmanuel were detained and taken in buses. Raghav Chadda of AAP joined protests in his personal capacity. Rajnath Singh met a delegation of Christians. John Dayal was a delegate.
Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley said Delhi election is not a referendum on PM.
This election was acrimonious, bitter, nasty, fierce and ferocious. BJP said Kejriwal is an anarchist, Naxal who should be in forest, monkey, runaway, thief and so on. BJP said Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and foreigners were canvassing for AAP.
Shatrughan Sinha said Arvind Kejriwal is a good man. Ashutosh and Yogendra Yadav were happy. Yogendra Yadav said media had shown interest in Shanti Bhushan’s statement. They should show equal interest in Shatrughan Sinha’s statement. BJP leaders were upset. Shaina NC refused to comment.
On 6/2/2015 Shahi Imam Ahmed Bukhari offered support to AAP. Arun Jaitley said vote anti-fatwa. AAP alleged BJP and Ahmed Bukhari conspiracy. AAP does not practice communal politics. Ahmed Bukhari did not invite Indian PM but invited Pakistani PM. Ahmed Bukhari supported different parties at different times. Tariq Bukhari said AAP sought Shahi Imam’s support. Yahya Bukhari said he has supported AAP before and supports now. Ahmed Bukhari has changed his position. Ahmed Bukhari said Alka Lamba of AAP approached his brother for support. His brother told him. He read AAP manifesto and extended support to AAP.
P. C. Chacko said Ahmed Bukhari could not have extended support to AAP without Arvind Kejriwal touching Ahmed Bukhari’s feet. For 2014 Lok Sabha elections Ahmed Bukhari extended support to Congress. Chacko’s statement implies Sonia Gandhi touched Ahmed Bukhari’s feet.
Bishops who had gathered in Bangalore take out a procession against attacks on Christians.
On 7/2/2015 it was voting in Delhi. Most exit polls predicted AAP victory. News24-Chanakya said AAP 48, BJP 22, Congress 0. India News gave 53 to AAP. Yogendra Yadav’s prediction was AAP will get at least 47 seats. They are likely to get 51 and may go up to 57.
There was disbelief in BJP camp. They said we have to wait for results. Exit polls had predicted less seats for BJP in Lok Sabha elections.
When results came on 10/2/2015 it was shock for BJP. Exit polls were wrong but not the way BJP wanted. They had predicted less seats for AAP.
Amit Shah was in Ahmedabad for his son Jay’s wedding. Many BJP leaders had gone there to attend the wedding.
AAP won 67 seats, BJP 3. Rarely a party wins 95.71% of seats. Congress did not win any seat and 63 candidates lost their deposits.
Kiran Bedi said she did not lose. BJP lost. BJP is a national party. It is for BJP to introspect. She said she did not pay a single rupee for her ticket to BJP implying other BJP candidates paid money for their tickets.
RSS said Kiran Bedi’s choice was a mistake. Negative campaign was a setback.
Ajay Maken took responsibility for Congress defeat and resigned as general secretary.
Some Congress members demonstrated outside AICC office. They wanted Priyanka Gandhi to lead Congress.
Narendra Modi congratulated Arvind Kejriwal. Agreed to meet him on tea.
It was not right for Kumar Vishwas to tweet that AAP will offer Leader of Opposition to BJP even if the party gets less than 10% of seats. Law or convention of 10% should be maintained. Besides it was a decision to be taken by MLAs or government and Kumar Vishwas was not a candidate. It is not a question of grace or magnanimity. Percentage of votes polled by BJP is immaterial.
Uddhav Thackeray said tsunami is bigger than wave and Modi was responsible for BJP defeat. TMC, RJD, JD(U), CPI(M) etc were happy.
Kirti Azad said action should be taken against campaign leaders.
Broom became vacuum cleaner.
Akhilesh Yadav was happy at AAP victory.
Some BJP members said their vote share of 33% in Legislative Assembly elections in intact and Congress lost its vote share to AAP and therefore AAP won. Congress reply was during Lok Sabha elections BJP had 46.5% vote share which came down to 32% and that is why BJP lost. In Lok Sabha elections BJP had won all the seven seats and led in 60 Assembly constituencies while AAP led in 10 constituencies.
What did AAP do right and BJP wrong?
After Lok Sabha defeat AAP realised Arvind Kejriwal quitting as chief minister without asking people was a mistake. People repeatedly asked him “Why did you quit?” Arvind Kejriwal said sorry for quitting after 49 days. He repeated his apology many times. Most people forgave him. BJP’s charge as runaway did not stick.
Arvind Kejriwal changed. From a reckless and restless man he became a cool man. He did not target individuals. He focussed on issues. When he was the target of abuse he said it was not proper.
AAP volunteers kept in touch with voters. They went from door to door. They used social media. BJP volunteers did nothing.
BJP did not bring back black money as promised. It did not reveal names of black money account holders. It did not fulfil many promises.
Replacing German with Sanskrit as third language and attempt make Sanskrit one of the three compulsory languages did not go down well with many parents and students.
Members of Sangh Parivar saying India is a Hindu Nation caused backlash. Public conversions of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism and utterances against Christians and Muslims and attacks on churches resulted in their votes going to AAP. BJP ally SAD candidate Manjinder Singh Sirsa said Niranjan Jyoti’s remark cost him Muslim votes. He was not consulted about her campaigning for him.
Declaring 25 December as Good Governance Day to replace Christmas offended many people.
Narendra Modi did not offer any explanation about his suit; whether it cost 10 lakh rupees or not and whether he received it as a gift. It reminded of Hosni Mubarak. Dressing differently during the day reminded of Shivraj Patil.
Newspaper advertisements on 6 and 7 February did not help BJP. AAP questioned where did BJP get money for ads?
Most shocking was Kiran Bedi’s defeat from Krishna Nagar. It was supposed to be a safe seat. BJP had repeatedly won it. One journalist asked a BJP member about the reason. He said one and a half month back they were told we have to lose this election. BJP lost many seats due to sabotage. On 11/2/2015 Kiran Bedi said she lost because of Ahmed Bukhari’s fatwa and ambush voting by AAP.
AAP government is set to take oath on 14 February 2015, anniversary of resignation of Arvind Kejriwal on 14 February 2014.

Freedom of speech and tolerance

There are people who say freedom of speech and expression should be absolute. Freedom with restrictions is not freedom. Some talk of tolerance of differing opinions. Some talk of limits on freedom or self-censorship. Some claim to be liberals open to all ideas and tolerant of contrary views.
Tolerance is an illusion. Tolerance is a myth. Journalists who claim to be modern and liberal on English news channels are as intolerant as Al Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban, VHP, Bajrang Dal and so on.
Sakshi Maharaj came under attack for saying every Hindu woman should have four children. He wanted one to fight on the border and one to join sadhus. There are many countries where women are encouraged to have many children. In Australia a woman gets 4,000 dollars when a child is born. Germany has incentives for women to have children. In 61 countries/territories governments are worried about declining population and want more children. Japan’s population has declined over the years. In 2014 it declined by more than a million.
Ramesh Tawadkar, Sports Minister of Goa, came under attack for his statement on LGBT. He talked of setting up treatment centres similar to Alcoholics Anonymous to make LGBT youth normal. One anchor said his statement is shocking. One newspaper demanded his apology. Ramesh Tawadkar has freedom of speech and expression like every citizen of India. If his statement is shocking to bigoted journalists who consider themselves modern and liberal but are antiquated and illiberal so be it. Journalists and others who oppose him are intolerant. India is a sovereign country. IPC 377 is the law of the land. UN Secretary General has no business to tell what should be the law of India.
Who decides what hate speech is? It is subjective. David Brooks has written that what is legal in France would have been opposed as hate speech in USA.
Some anchors are hostile to people in favour of death penalty. Once Nidhi Razdan was hostile to Yashodhara Raje Scindia because her BJP colleague Sushma Swaraj had favoured death penalty for rape.
Charlie Hebdo had sacked a cartoonist Sine. He had drawn a cartoon of Jean Sarkozy who married a rich Jewess Jessica Seaboun-Darty. Charlie Hebdo succumbed to pressure from Jews.
Every country has limits on free speech. In France denial of Holocaust or Armenian Genocide of 1915 is a crime. In some countries denial of Holocaust is a crime.
There are two aspects of free speech. First is what is allowed by law. Second is reaction of people. Many times what is allowed by law is opposed by many people. The protests may be peaceful or violent. When protests turn violent what is legal is banned. Those who attack people and destroy property are not punished.
Many discussions on TV channels are fixed. Surjit Bhalla has written about his bad experience with NDTV Dialogues. He was called for a discussion to counter Jairam Ramesh. Before 15 minutes of discussion time he was told Jairam Ramesh is not coming and he can go home. After he went home he came to know that Jairam Ramesh and other panellists were there and discussion was held.

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