Tag: A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Presidential candidates

On 12/6/2012 Election Commission announced the dates for presidential election. Strange are the ways of Election Commission. They announce elections for Legislative Assemblies six months before the expiry of the term and club various state elections together though announcement before 40 days is enough and clubbing elections together is not necessary and right. In case of presidential election the law provides for announcement 60 days before the expiry of the term and Election Commission announced the dates 43 days before the expiry of the term. Soon there will be vacancy of vice president but Election Commission has not clubbed together elections of president and vice president. S. Y. Qureshi was CEC when 60 days were left i.e., on 25/5/2012. He should have announced the election but did not do so and retired on 10/6/2012. Perhaps he was waiting for Congress to announce its candidate. On 11/6/2012 V. S. Sampath became CEC and next day at 5.30 p.m. he announced the election.

Events moved fast soon afterwards. Mamata Banerjee came to Delhi and met Sonia Gandhi. TV channels speculated that Mamata will propose the names of Gopal Gandhi, Abdul Kalam and Meira Kumar to Sonia. After the meeting she said Sonia Gandhi’s first choice for president is Pranab Mukherjee, second choice is Hamid Ansari. Then she went to meet Mulayam Singh Yadav. Mulayam had said he did not want a bureaucrat as a president. It was presumed that both will agree to Pranab Mukherjee.

The press conference that followed shocked and surprised people. Mamata and Mulayam did not agree to Sonia’s candidates. They wanted Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee. Soon conspiracy theories floated. Jayanto Ghosal of Anand Bazar Patrika group said it was planned by Sonia. She did not want Pranab as president but did not want to say no. She used Mamata and Mulayam to do that.

Mamata was not in favour of Pranab. When people spoke of Pranab as son of Bengal she said he was the son of the world.

There was speculation over why the three names were proposed. Somnath Chatterjee’s name was proposed because he was a Bengali. While Mamata did not want Pranab she was not opposed to a Bengali becoming president and Somnath’s name was a balancing act. Some said real name is Manmohan Singh, other two are dummies. Sonia wants Manmohan to become president so that she can have a new prime minister.

On 14/6/2012 Congress spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi said “We cannot afford to spare Dr. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. The other two names are not acceptable. During UPA II, we have already said he will remain Prime Minister till 2014. The Congress does not take such a step in between.”

In the evening Mamata met Mulayam. She announced Abdul Kalam is “our candidate”. Mulayam was not with her. She said she will not take part in UPA meeting on 15/6/2012. There were reports that Abdul Kalam was Mamata’s candidate, SP had not taken a decision.

Subramanian Swamy claimed he and Jaswant Singh had worked for Abdul Kalam’s candidature. They had got support for him from BJP and SP. Jaswant Singh had met Mulayam and the impression was that he wanted Mulayam’s support to become vice president. There was talk of DMK supporting Kalam because he is a Tamilian but that did not happen.

On 15/6/2012 UPA met at 4 p.m. at 7 Race Course Road. All parties agreed on Pranab Mukherjee as candidate. Sonia Gandhi announced his candidature and appealed to all parties to support him. Soon SP announced support to Pranab. Mulayam did two somersaults within 48 hours. First he ditched Congress. Then he supported Congress. He said in politics decisions change as per situation. The three names were suggestions.

NDA and Left Front have to decide about the candidates. If BJP decides to support Pranab it is an embarrassment to Sushma Swaraj. Gurudas Dasgupta had said CPI will not support Congress candidate.

Purno Albert Sangma had announced his candidature in the middle of May, backed by AIADMK and BJD. Sangma presented himself as a tribal candidate. There had been Muslim, Sikh, Dalit and woman presidents and it was time for a tribal president. His supporters added that he is a Christian and from North East. In 1992 George Gilbert Swell was a candidate. He was a tribal, a Christian and from North East. Like Sangma he was from Meghalaya. That time Sangma did not support him. NCP does not want Sangma to contest and may expel him if he does.

Abdul Kalam had said he would contest if he was sure of winning. He wanted unanimity or consensus or at least 60% of votes. JD(U) was not in favour of him. It is unlikely he will contest. It is wrong for Congress to appeal to Abdul Kalam not to contest. Kalam can also ask Pranab not to contest.

Mamata is isolated. She did not get her package for Bengal. UPA rejected her nominees. Pranab is candidate. She said the game is not over yet. Today is the beginning. Wait for tomorrow.

Pranab’s candidature saw many ups and downs during the last two months. Some said he was too valuable for Congress to lose. The counter to that if he is so valuable he should be prime minister. During CWC meeting he moved resolution authorizing Congress president to decide about president and vice president and some thought it was over for him. Suddenly some remembered Congress tradition was to promote its vice presidents as presidents. They forgot Hamid Ansari was a Left Front nominee. When Mamata and Mulayam vetoed him name it appeared it was all over for him. But he had supporters in many parties and won the nomination.

There is time till 30/6/2012 for nominations. More candidates can emerge.

Indians and fools

Markandey Katju said 90% of Indians are fools. He clarified that by 90% he means an overwhelming number; it can be 85% or 95%.

Markandey Katju gave 10 reasons why majority of Indians are fools.

First, Tamilians follow rahukalam. They consider it inauspicious. They are fools. Katju has shown courage to single out Tamilians as more foolish than other foolish Indians.

Second, many ministers and chief justices of high courts take oath during “auspicious” times.

Third, Supreme Court judges considered 7, Tughlak Lane as inauspicious residence due to some mishaps there.

Fourth, there was a superstition that an idol was drinking milk and media played a part in spreading the superstition.

Fifth, babas have great following. He mentions one baba who advises his followers to eat certain things to solve their problems.

Sixth, someone in Tamil Nadu had claimed he can convert water into petrol and was exposed as a fraud.

Seventh, most parents consult astrologers when their children marry.

Eighth, TV channels show astrology and all kinds of superstition. The editors have no power to stop such shows. The owners want TRPs. The intellectual level of the middle classes is very low. They want to watch lives of film stars, fashion parades, cricket and astrology.

Ninth, most Hindus and Muslims are communal. They were not communal before 1857.

Tenth, India has social evils like honour killings, dowry deaths, and female foeticide.

Katju talks of India’s great scientific heritage, following the path shown by great scientific ancestors and recovering former glory.

Of the ten reasons, five have to do wholly or partly with astrology. Markandey Katju is chairman of Press Council. He wants to control TV channels and does not want them to have shows on astrology. As chairman of Press Council he has not stopped newspapers and magazines from publishing astrological columns. By Katju’s logic Indira Gandhi was a fool. Ramaswamy Venkataraman was a fool. Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi are fools.

I do not know about the mishaps at 7 Tughlak Lane. I suppose there were several mishaps so the judges got scared. Did Markandey Katju volunteer to go there?

The superstition of idol drinking milk lasted for a day.

Babas can fool people for some time. After that they are exposed and lose their followers. If some followers want to suspend disbelief and want to follow babas even after they are exposed it is their problem.

Anybody can make any claim. Sooner or later he is exposed. One person claimed he had passed an exam conducted by NASA. He got publicity. President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam felicitated him. Then NASA stated that it had not conducted any exam in India.

TV channels want TRPs. They have to survive. India has done well in cricket, so cricket has got following. Many people also watch car race and European football. Watching sport on TV does not mean intellectual level is low. Interest in fashion parades and the lives of film stars is not confined to India.

Being communal is different from being foolish. It is wrong to say people were not communal before 1857. Katju should remember Aurangzeb.

What people call honour killings and dowry deaths are murders and female foeticide is a crime. Murders and crimes should be called as such and should not be called social evils. Caste system is a social evil.

Katju has not spoken against numerology, palmistry and tarot card reading. He has not spoken against glorification of child marriage in a TV serial. What Katju has to say about vastu and feng shui?

India’s strong glorious scientific past is a myth. People like Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Charaka and Shushruta were exception during their times. India’s fools inherited their superstitions from their ancestors. Sangram Singh believed in astrology and did not attack Babur when his forces were demoralised. He waited for an auspicious moment to attack Babur. That gave time for Babur to make a speech and fill his soldiers with courage. Sangram Singh lost the battle. India’s past has many things which are not glorious and some of them continue to present day. There was sati. Widows could not remarry. Untouchability was widespread. People did not cross the sea. If Indians were scientific they would have reached and conquered America, Australia and large parts of Africa. Instead India was conquered repeatedly.

Many chairmen of Press Council have come and gone. None of them made news. Markandey Katju makes news regularly. He said there is no freedom of press in Bihar but does not want journalists to report bad things about UP for one or two years because Akhilesh Yadav is new CM.

Lokpal deadline

Where there is will there is a way. If Congress wants to pass a strong Lokpal Bill it can do. If it does not want to pass a strong Lokpal Bill it finds ways avoid it. In that case the passing of Lokpal Bill depends on how strong is the will of people who want a strong Lokpal Bill. If their will is stronger than that of Congress they will succeed. Anna Hazare Group wants Lokpal Bill passed in the winter session of Parliament which gets over on 22/12/2011. Otherwise he will start his indefinite fast on 27/12/2011 and has asked people to fill jails and sit in front of houses of MPs from 1 January 2012 onwards. This time the fast is to be from Azad Maidan where his previous fasts were successful.

Various excuses are given against the passing of Lokpal Bill. Some say Anna Hazare is inflexible. Anna Hazare has been flexible. He wanted Lokpal Bill passed by 15/8/2011. He went on fast on 16/8/2011. He withdrew the fast after the promise to pass it in winter session. The government must keep its promise.

Some say Lokpal Bill should not be passed in a hurry. Lokpal Bill has come and gone for the past 43 years and no hurry means it will be discussed for the next 43 years by which time most of those who are MPs now will be dead.

One funny argument is that if winter session is extended it will clash with Christmas and will trample upon the feelings of Christians. Passing a bill does not take even a minute. Once 17 bills were passed in 12 minutes. Lokpal Bill can be passed by 22/12/2011 and if necessary winter session can be extended by two days. This year Christmas comes on Sunday and not even a day will be lost because of Christmas. If more discussion is needed the session can continue till 31/12/2011 when winter session should come to an end because after that it is another year and a first session of a year should begin with President’s address. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam violated that constitutional provision in 2004 under advice from NDA government. At least one Governor has similarly violated the constitution.

Some say Anna Hazare is holding the country to ransom. When terrorists abduct a minister’s daughter or hijack an aeroplane and demand the release of prisoners they hold the country to ransom. Anna Hazare has not done that.

Some say Anna Hazare should not dictate terms to the government. If industrialists dictate terms to government as to who should be telecom minister or who should not be petroleum minister it is fine with the government.

Someone said Congress is sincere about Lokpal Bill. If Congress says it does not want a strong Lokpal and will not bring a strong Lokpal Bill and acts according then also it is sincere.