Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

PM candidates 2014

There are many who hope to become prime minister after Lok Sabha elections are over. Narendra Modi leads in opinion polls. Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal are competitors at national level. At regional level Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Nitish Kumar hope to make it with the help of other parties.
AAP, BJP and Congress have not completed nominating candidates. BJP and Congress are in alliances. BJP had a chance to field candidates in all constituencies in Bihar and Tamil Nadu. Instead it went for alliances in those states. BJP members who hoped to fight elections in many constituencies were disappointed. In Maharashtra, Nitin Gadkari meeting Raj Thackeray offended Shiv Sena and BJP leaders had to pacify Uddhav Thackeray.
To be prime minister one needs 272 seats in Lok Sabha. Though Narendra Modi leads he is short of 272 mark. There is uncertainty about from where he will contest. Murli Manohar Joshi does not want to give up Varanasi. That has created a problem for Modi. Getting allies like LJP, DMDK, MDMK and PMK has boosted the morale of BJP. Ram Vilas Paswan who left NDA on the issue of Gujarat riots is back with NDA and shared stage with Modi. Modi has opposition from within BJP. Some of them hope BJP will not get enough seats and they will be acceptable as prime minister to more parties.
Congress does not seem to be in a winning position. Many MPs are reluctant to contest Lok Sabha elections. Manish Tewari, P. Chidambaram and G. K. Vasan are some of them. They want to go to Rajya Sabha as Kumari Selja did. One Congress politician Bhagirath Prasad joined BJP after getting Congress ticket. Many Congress members have conceded defeat even before filing nominations. Rahul Gandhi did well to begin primaries in some constituencies. If he holds primaries in all constituencies for Lok Sabha, Legislative Assembly and other local elections to decide candidates it will be great.
AAP has so far nominated 187 candidates. Its success depends on nominating 543 candidates. In some places, including Delhi and Nagpur, AAP members are upset that those who were with the party since the beginning are ignored and outsides are called and given tickets. There is no grassroots democracy. It is high command culture which Arvind Kejriwal had talked against. Ashutosh, Rajmohan Gandhi, Ashish Khetan, Gul Panag and many others are new entrants. Shazia Ilmi did not want to contest from Rae Bareli. Savita Bhatti was given ticket to contest from Chandigarh. She withdrew citing non-co-operation from local AAP members. Gul Panag jumped at the chance and grabbed it. Arvind Kejriwal made news for Gujarat and Bombay visits. In Bombay he travelled by autorickshaw and local train.
Jayalalitha has no appeal outside Tamil Nadu and has not fielded enough candidates. She has no realistic chance of becoming prime minister. She ditched Third Front also known as Alternative Front.
Mamata Banerjee’s dream suffered a setback when the rally at Ram Leela Maidan had poor response and Anna Hazare did not turn up. She may field candidates all over North India but not many are likely to win.
Crime has gone up in UP since SP formed government with Akhilesh Yadav as chief minister in UP on the Ides of March 2012. Muzaffarnagar riots have disillusioned many Muslims. Mulayam Singh Yadav’s chance is bleak. Raju Srivastava who got Kanpur ticket withdrew after some days claiming threat to his supporters from other SP members.
Mayawati’s chance rests on BSP getting 40+ seats and in a hung House getting support of UPA or NDA and some other parties.
Nitish Kumar is unlikely to win enough seats to head a coalition government. Some JD(U) members have left recently.

AAP and communalism

For long fight against corruption has been the main theme of AAP. The party was born to fight against corruption. It was strange to hear Arvind Kejriwal say communalism is a bigger problem than corruption.
On 26/2/2014 while addressing Muslims at India Islamic Cultural Centre, Arvind Kejriwal said “Communalism is a bigger problem in front of the country than corruption and it is never about people fighting each other. It is political parties who pit communities against one another for narrow electoral gains. But the truth is, neither has BJP ever done anything for Hindus nor Congress for Muslims.” He also said “Communalism is a bigger problem than corruption because corruption only results in loss of money but due to communalism people lose their lives and families are shattered.”
If Arvind Kejriwal wanted to woo Muslims he could have said communalism is a great problem like corruption. Some Muslims say communalism is a bigger problem than corruption. When India Against Corruption began its movement against corruption under Anna Hazare’s leadership some Muslims did not support them saying for them communalism is a bigger problem than corruption. It seems Arvind Kejriwal wants those Muslims on his side. But this is a zero sum game. Arvind Kejriwal will disappoint supporters who sided with him in the fight against corruption. If he gets some votes, he will lose some votes. BJP will accuse him of Muslim appeasement. During Delhi elections Arvind Kejriwal had the support of a Barelvi leader. Some criticised him for that.
One cannot please everyone. Muslims as a whole do not vote for any single party. Voting differs from election to election. Congress, SP, BSP and other parties get votes from Muslims.
AAP should stick to its principles and continue. Corruption was the main issue. There was promise of grassroots democracy and end of high command culture. Giving Lok Sabha tickets to outsiders has angered who believed in AAP principles. AAP members have spoken against candidates from Chandni Chowk, Ludhiana, and Nagpur. If corruption is not the main issue AAP will lose more supporters.
Fight against corruption is AAP’s USP. Without it AAP is doomed.

Telangana Bill passed

Lok Sabha passed Telangana Bill on 18/2/2014. Rajya Sabha passed Telangana Bill on 20/2/2014. In preceding days MPs opposed to formation of Telangana had disrupted proceedings. In Lok Sabha Lagadapati Rajagopal had sprayed pepper. His act brought into prominence his connection to Lanco, Lanco’s 36,558 crore rupees debt and corporate debt restructuring. N. Kiran Kumar Reddy sat on dharna at Jantar Mantar. He resigned as chief minister after Lok Sabha passed the bill. Jaganmohan Reddy said Indian National Congress has become Italian National Congress. Delhi became battleground for and against Telangana. At last the government decided to act tough. Meira Kumar suspended trouble makers. There was black out of Lok Sabha.
Some condemned black out. They called it murder of democracy and worse than emergency. They are wrong. There is no law that says there has to be live uninterrupted telecast of Lok Sabha proceedings. Murder of democracy is when MPs do not let the Houses to function. Journalists were present in press gallery and they witnessed and reported Lok Sabha proceedings.
DD used to telecast parliamentary proceedings. Lok Sabha TV came into existence when Somnath Chatterjee became Speaker. Rajya Sabha TV came into existence when Hamid Ansari became Vice President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
In Rajya Sabha tourism minister Chiranjeevi spoke against the bill. Arun Jaitley raised a point of order and asked whether it was permissible for a minister to speak against a bill the presence of prime minister. Deputy Chairman P. J. Kurien ruled that he left it to the minister to decide it was ethical or not. TMC members shouted slogans when Manmohan Singh spoke. CPI(M), DMK, JD(U) and BJD members walked out during the discussion.
Some Telangana leaders said it was not division but demerger. There was Telangana state which was merged with Andhra Pradesh in 1956. They are not exactly right. There was Hyderabad state which consisted of Telangana and some Kannada and Marathi districts. Kannada districts went to Mysore which changed its name to Karnataka in 1973. Marathi districts went to Bombay which was split into Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960. Telangana could have been a separate state in 1956 or could have continued as Hyderabad state without Kannada and Marathi districts.
Many politicians opposed Telangana because they had property in Hyderabad. They wanted Hyderabad to be a Union Territory. For most people of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, separation of Telangana will not make any difference.
Making Hyderabad joint capital for 10 years with the Governor having law and order powers in Hyderabad is a bad idea. BJP should have raised the issue in Lok Sabha. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana should have separate capitals, Governors, and High Courts.
There are many statehood demands in India. People who want statehood for Gorkhaland, VIdarbha, Harit Pradesh, Bundelkhand etc are likely to hold demonstrations in Delhi. Mayawati has demanded division of Uttar Pradesh in four states. When she was chief minister of UP, Legislative Assembly of UP had thrice passed resolutions for division.

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