Month: June 2017

Dalit versus Dalit

It is Dalit versus Dalit contest for the office of the President of India.
On 19/6/2017 BJP announced Ram Nath Kovind as its presidential candidate. On 22/6/2017 Congress announced Meira Kumar as its presidential candidate.
Ram Nath Kovind is a Dalit in Uttar Pradesh and an OBC in Gujarat. His status in other states is not known. He is presented as Dalit. When his name was announced the question was “Who is Ram Nath Kovind?” Most people had not heard of him.
Nitish Kumar is a slippery customer. He is an opportunist, an unprincipled and unscrupulous politician. He wanted opposition parties to put up a joint candidate. He met Sonia Gandhi on 20/4/2017. Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of opposition leaders on 26/5/2017. Nitish Kumar did not attend that. Sharad Yadav represented. Next day Nitish Kumar met Narendra Modi at a lunch hosted in honour of visiting Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth. Something happened between 20/4/2017 and 26/5/2017. May be Nitish Kumar suggested Kovind’s name and Modi agreed. On 21/6/2017 Nitish Kumar called a JD (U) meeting and it was decided to support Ram Nath Kovind. It was a setback for Congress and allies.
Congress and allies did not declare their candidate. They said they were in favour consensus and it is for the government to approach them. If the BJP candidate is suitable they will not oppose. A BJP committee met opposition leaders but did not mention any name.
Once Kovind’s name was announced Mayawati said it was difficult for her to oppose him unless a Dalit candidate opposes him. Ram Vilas Paswan said anyone who opposed Kovind is anti-Dalit. Gopalkrishna Gandhi was out as a candidate. The choice was for a Dalit. Four names were in circulation. Bhalchandra Mungekar, Meira Kumar, Prakash Ambedkar and Sushil Kumar Shinde were discussed. She is a retired IFS officer, former minister, and was Lok Sabha Speaker. As Speaker, she is well-known for saying “Please sit down. Please sit down. Baith jayiye. Baith jayiye.” She is from Bihar and daughter of Jagjivan Ram. Lalu Prasad Yadav appealed to Nitish Kumar to reconsider his decision to vote for Ram Nath Kovind and said it will be a historic blunder. Mamata Banerjee who was opposed to Meira Kumar agreed to support her.
Shiv Sena was in favour of Mohan Bhagwat and M. S. Swaminathan. On 19/6/2017 Uddhav Thackeray lashed out against choice of Ram Nath Kovind. Next day Shiv Sena decided to support Ram Nath Kovind. In 2007 and 2012 Shiv Sena had not supported BJP’s candidates. It supported Congress candidates. Congress was in power at the time. Now BJP is in power. Not supporting BJP candidate can be costly.
It is good there is a contest for the office of President. It would have been better if the contest had more than two candidates. Most parties do not have 100 electors as members and not possible for them to field a candidate.
BJP has all NDA allies on its side. AIADMK, BJD, JD (U), TRS and YSR Congress are on BJP’s side. BSP, DMK, Left Front, NC, NCP, RJD, RLD, SP and TMC support Congress. Vote strength of Ram Nath Kovind is around 62.8% and of Meira Kumar is around 34.6%.
On 23/6/2017 Ram Nath Kovind filed his nomination papers. Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Ram Vilas Paswan, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Ananth Kumar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Vijay Goel, Manohar Lal Khattar, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Raman Singh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Yogi Adityanath, E. K. Palaniswami, K. Chandrasekhara Rao, and some others were present.

Foolish Captains

It is foolish for a cricket captain to elect to field after winning the toss. Yet many times captains elect to field after winning toss and mostly lose. The theory is that it is easy to chase a target than set up a winning total. The reality is that there is no pressure when batting first and the team batting first mostly wins. If a team cannot defend the total it has scored it is unlikely it can chase a target and win the match.
On 18/6/2017 in Champions Trophy final Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to field. The result was a disaster. Pakistan scored 338/4 in 50 overs. India were all out for 158 runs in 30.3 overs. This is the latest instance of a foolish captain.
On 4/6/2017 Pakistan’s Captain Sarfraz Ahmed had elected to field. There was rain. India scored 319/3 in 48 overs. Pakistan had to score 288 in 41 overs. They were 164 all out in 33.4 overs.
In 1975, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1999, and 2003 World Cup finals the team batting first won the match. In 1987 India’s Captain Kapil Dev in World Cup semi-final against England elected to field and lost by 35 runs. In 1996 India’s Captain Mohammed Azharuddin in World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka elected to field. Sri Lanka scored 251/8. India began the chase. After second wicket fell India lost wickets regularly. It was 120/8. There was crowd trouble. Match referee Clive Lloyd awarded the match to Sri Lanka.
In 2003 World Cup final against Australia, India’s Captain Sourav Ganguly elected to field. Zaheer Khan bowled the first over and conceded 15 runs, 8 of them extras. India lost the match.
A captain should elect to bat after winning the toss and enforce follow on whenever there is opportunity. If a team can chase a target and win, it can also set up a target and win. If a captain does not enforce follow on and the team loses after enforcing follow on there is something wrong.
It was not all doom and gloom for India on 18/6/2017. India defeated Pakistan 7-1 in Hockey World League semi-final at Olympic Park, some miles away from Oval where India lost. India’s Kidambi Srikanth defeated Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai 21-10, 21-19 and won Indonesian Open Premier Super Series title in Jakarta. Our TV channels put all their eggs in cricket basket. They should put some eggs in other baskets. Anchors had taken Indian cricket team’s victory for granted and had arranged for discussions after the match. India lost. Discussions cancelled.

Consensus and democracy

It is time for Presidential election and some people talk of consensus. Democracy is about elections. There is no place for consensus in a democracy.
BJP and Congress have not declared their candidates. BJP candidate can be anybody from Amit Shah Draupadi Murmu to Kalyan Singh to Mohan Bhagwat to Nitin Gadkari to Ram Naik to Sumitra Mahajan to Sushma Swaraj. I don’t expect Lal Krishna Advani or Murli Manohar Joshi or Parkash Singh Badal to be BJP candidate. Congress candidate is likely to be Gopalkrishna Gandhi. Mamata Banerjee is said to be opposed to Meira Kumar. Sharad Pawar has refused to contest. It seems Congress wanted Pranab Mukherjee to contest but he refused.
BJP leads NDA. Congress leads a coalition of like-minded parties. All opposition parties are not with Congress. AAP, AIADMK, BJD, TRS and YSR Congress are not with Congress. YSR Congress leader Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy is enemy of Sonia Gandhi for not allowing him to become Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister after his father’s death and later for putting him in jail. He has declared support to BJP candidate.
There was a time when any Indian citizen who is 35 years old and is qualified to become Member of Parliament could contest to become President. Changes were made to law to prevent frivolous candidates from contesting. Now it is not possible to contest without the support of 100 electors.
Some say the office of the President should be by consensus and above contest. They are wrong. The Constitution provides for election and it should be election.
Congress and allies could have declared their candidate but they claim in favour of consensus and want BJP to mention their candidate. BJP President Amit Shah appointed a committee comprising Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, and Venkaiah Naidu. These members have not come up with any name. They are in touch with opposition leaders. BJP also wants to show they are in favour of consensus. There is no need for such farce. Narendra Modi has decided on the name and it will be revealed in due course.
The office of President has been contested since 1952 and only in 1977 was Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was unopposed him because 36 other candidates were disqualified. In 1997 there was an attempt to get K. R. Narayanan elected unopposed. T. N. Seshan got the support of Shiv Sena and contested. In 2002 BJP, Congress and many other parties agreed on A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Left Front put up Lakshmi Sahgal as candidate.
Indian political parties do not have internal democracy. There are no primaries for selection of candidates. High command decides. Consensus disappoints losers and leads to splits. Parties multiply.