In spite of Hatchet man Amit Shah and TV Channels, Aap party will Triumph in Delhi
Beginning as assistant press attaché in early 1960s in Cairo and then as an independent commentator and analyst on international affairs, since retirement as a Ambassador to Turkey in 1996 , the author has written over 60 articles for the print media in major newspapers in India, the Gulf, Turkey, Lebanon and elsewhere. Also 400 online articles and blogs , translated into a dozen major languages of the world .But I have seen the decline of journalism into a handmaiden of corporate interests and governments . Especially the TV channels in India. Media has lost its validity and purpose. No wonder many in the profession have been classified as pressitutes, pressigolos, establishment and corporate whores. Radia Tapes had uncovered some media escorts too.
The claims of corrupt donations to Aap by a bogus organization and played up by TV channels fits in with the means associated with Amit Shah .Interventions by pompous Jailtley and cantankerous Ms Seetharamn were in bad taste and expose panic in the highest ranks of BJP.
The print media is somewhat sober because they can be held liable for what they have written but the TV channels have gone out of their way to distort news in favour of PM Modi's party , which is now under control of his hatchet man Amit Shah. It may be recalled that he was charged under various crimes and the court had asked him to remain away from Gujarat .But as it has proved in India, the judiciary can be pressurized. Aap party leader advocate Prashant Bhushan and his father, a former law minister Shanti Bhushan, had claimed that many Supreme Court Chief Justices were corrupt. And of course CBI remains a caged parrot .The parrots are rewarded for services rendered after retirement . Most IPS officers of Gujarat involved with Amit Shah in conspiracies are being released on bail after Modi won in Delhi .
The Aap party's energy and enthusiasm led mostly by volunteers, not only from Delhi but from all over India has covered city with the slogans and well-defined program, especially for the poor and dispossessed, which form very large majority in Delhi's 70 constituencies. BJP's election agenda and programme began with first Modi pitching himself as the face of the party but then withdrawing him and bringing in Kiran Bedi, the first-ever woman IPS officer.
Kiran Bedi was a very competent officers , there is no doubt about it. I first saw her as a trainee officer at Delhi film Festival in 1977 . In 1984, while on leave in New Delhi, I parked my car in the inner lane of Connaught Place in front of a bookshop. When I came out after 30 minutes ,my car was gone . I was told that it had been towed away by Crane Bedi as she was then known. I quickly went to her boss Arun Bhagat IPS, by batchmate and a close friend and without any questions handed over the fine money to a chauffeur get my car back.
In 1986 when I was Chairman and Managing Director of Indian drugs and pharmaceuticals Ltd, suddenly after telephoning me Kiran Bedi turned up in my office in Gurgaon. There was, as usual, a strike, a normal feature of IDPL at the formulation unit , mostly instigated by political trade Union leaders from all parties who made their name in this way . She was then temporarily working with Minister of Finance's industrial relations department, and had come to sort out the problem at her own initiative. She was better informed on trade and labour relations compared to the IDPL trade union leaders at the unit . And in general the trade union leaders used to be better informed that my own administrative staff.
IDPL used to have a Chief Vigilance Officer who was mostly from its staff and mostly ineffective. After checking from GOI Establishment officer, I enquired from Ms Bedi if she would like to come over as Chief Vigilance Officer of IDPL. She politely declined and added that she would like to remain in the main stream . But the establishment officer was very happy to create an IPS post and after my departure a CVO of Inspector General rank was posted.
When I was later posted as ambassador to Ankara in 1990s, there was a big conference of metropolitan police officers in Istanbul and India was asked to send a prominent representative. Taking into account everything I recommended that Ms Bedi be sent to participate in the discussions. To my surprise I found that one Mr Kaushal turned up.
I am relating this story that I have only seen only professional qualities as an IPS officer. But she is no match in charisma or organization compared to Arvind Kejriwal. Even Modi will not dare have a debate with Kejriwal.
It is a sad day that somebody with such unsavory background as Amit Shah has become the Chief of the ruling party .In my last post I had given extracts from Wikimedia about the cases in which he was hauled up, including murder and whatnot. It does not send a right message to the people in the country. Mr Modi has made many promises and talks of development, development, but it have not reached the people. He has put everything in this contest against Kejriwal and if he loses, which is likely and it should happen so that this party with its obscurantist fringe, which is determined to widen cleavages in this country and taking it back words, is stopped in its tracks .
BJP is already scared of losing the elections and a Cabinet minister just said that the Delhi-election was not a referendum on Mr Modi.
As for Media coverage , below is an excellent write-up by Shailja Bajpai. This is very well written article as hers normally are which I read regularly.
As for the background atmosphere and how important and why this election is so important I reproduce below another article titled, "Whose Delhi" by a very competent and well-informed journalist Seema Chisti
K.Gajendra Singh .5 Feb, 2015.Mayur Vihar , Delhi.
Tele Scope: Losing her voice
When "Kiran Modi", as BJP leader Seshadri Chari inadvertently christened her (Headlines Today), looks back on her election campaign in Delhi, she may be relieved she lost her voice midway — particularly if she becomes chief minister. If she doesn't, she may well wish she'd lost it earlier.
Almost every time she opened her mouth for a TV interview, she jeopardized her vote bank. From the moment she walked out of the interview with Times Now to the time she walked away from questions posed by NDTV India's Ravish, it was difficult to understand her pronouncements. "I am not a Crocin, I am a specialist," Bedi said to Ravish.
In the best interview you are likely to see in a very long time, the "specialist" did not have any specific treatment for whatever ails Delhi. Sample her replies to questions on unemployment ("We will have skill development in government schools with half-day shifts"), expensive private education ("Let me look at it"), security in Delhi for women ("I will bring the administration together, I am here to bring people together — parents, teachers…"), statehood ("I will work with whatever I have"), electricity ("You will get it at a reasonable rate, a rate you can afford"). Delightfully vague for a specialist, wouldn't you say?
At no stage did she outline any concrete measures or marshal any facts and figures. Perhaps because her main preoccupation was with the time she had allotted the interview — not a minute more, not a second less — as she repeatedly glanced at her watch.
For a lady known to be disastrously frank, she was coy. Asked by Rajat Sharma (Aap Ki Adalat, India TV) about the AAP's funding, she said Arvind Kejriwal had made a "business" out of politics, but refrained from elaborating because it would leave a bad taste in her mouth. Asked why she had joined politics, she replied she had been propelled into politics by the urgings of her "inner voice" (remember Sonia Gandhi's?). Asked why Narendra Modi had remained silent on the conversion controversy, she shot back, "Who says he is silent? Who knows what he has said within the party?" We don't. And we were none the wiser after Bedi's response.
Rather like the pedestrians accosted by Ankit Tyagi of Headlines Today and shown a video of a speechless Bedi, mouthing something and pumping her fist. "What do you think she is saying?" asked Tyagi. They shrugged and gave it their wildest guess.
The supreme irony is that, on TV at least, Bedi has made Kejriwal appear almost statesmanlike — or maybe that's because he's not wrapped up in a muffler? Bedi has made the "anarchist" sound like the next chief minister of Delhi. In interviews with Barkha Dutt and Sreenivasan Jain (NDTV 24×7), he was lucid and specific, outlining steps he will take or refuting allegations of financial impropriety. He laughed but did not cough, he sounded gentlemanly; she churlish. He told Dutt he still liked Bedi; she told Ravish she would not enter into a debate with Kejriwal because of the mudslinging — presumably by him.
Small wonder, the opinion polls on Tuesday had the AAP ahead of the BJP. The Congress, meanwhile, is out of the race. India TV reported that Rahul Gandhi wanted the party to concentrate on 17 seats it could win in Delhi. Rajat Sharma patted him on the back and said this was a wise decision. With little at stake, the Congress seems to be using the opportunity to develop the debating skills of its younger members like Ajay Kumar and Ragini Nayak.
They're likely to learn that she or he who shouts the loudest, shouts last. On Tuesday night, it was a toss-up between Ashish Khetan (AAP) and Sambit Patra (BJP), with journalist Ajoy Bose trying to interject with a loud "No, No!" (Times Now). Why, they even managed to silence the nation's voice.
Wish they could have put out the fires too. For reasons best known to Times Now, it had flames flickering at the bottom of the TV screen.
Aaj Tak liked the idea too and had its own fire licking the straplines. Lovely graphics, but what purpose did they serve? To suggest that the Delhi elections are the burning issue before the country?
If Bombay was the perfect set that encapsulated urban India till the 1960s, film crews have been drawn to Delhi since — movies now portray the stereotype of the go-getter, jugaadu, "sirji"-muttering Delhiwallah. But the historic city has always been the country's political battleground, a symbolic destination embodied in slogans like "Dilli door ast" and "chalo Dilli". The sadhus in the 1960s and the anti-Emergency rally in Ram Lila Maidan in the 1970s set the national mood. The capital was where one travelled — to change the course of one's life and to change politics.
Many people say that this time, it was the BJP that promoted the notion that Delhi was the jewel in the crown. Its eagerness to push back fresh elections gave out a powerful, if muddled, signal — Delhi was important as a political conquest. It also gave citizens of the sprawling city time to evaluate the political choices available to them.
Of all the metros in India, Delhi is the only one not pushed by a regional sentiment to return to its root name. There is no equivalent of the Shiv Sena or the Kannada Cheluvi to evoke regional pride. The Punjabi dominance of the early decades after Independence has waned. It is now a mixture of various communities, from Purabiyas to Malayalis and Bengalis. No one linguistic or regional community can stake an exclusive claim to Delhi. The city belongs to no one and everyone at the same time.
A city of key strategic importance, Delhi has been India's capital for centuries. If you could not stop the invader from the Hindu Kush before he reached Delhi, there was no stopping him until he overran the Indo-Gangetic plain and won the war. The Red Fort was in Delhi. The British too eventually abandoned Kolkata and felt compelled to rule from Delhi, even if that meant building a "New" Delhi some miles off Shahjahanabad.
More recently, the Congress — a party that had not been known to nurture chief ministerial talent from the days of Indira Gandhi — was able to showcase its own success with a "Delhi-model" for 15 straight years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his earlier avatar as Gujarat chief minister, was constantly sneering at the "Sultanate of Dilli" to make a larger point about the need to seize Delhi. Even the Anna Hazare-Arvind Kejriwal anti-corruption drive got traction because, well, it was in Delhi.
But what does one make of an election for this "trumped-up municipality", one of the smallest assemblies in India, which is not even a full state? Why the fuss?
The prosperity of Delhi makes it unlike the rest of India. Eight of its 11 districts figure in the top 20 districts of India on the index of overall wellbeing, according to a recent study based on NSSO numbers (68th round).
Its prosperity now attracts thousands every month: migration to Delhi is larger than to Mumbai, India's first classical working-class city. There is no other city in India which has reasonable representation from each of its 29 states and seven Union territories. So, a political win or loss in a city built on the idea of migration itself, and which incubates a mini-India, with deep inter-dependencies across classes, castes and types, sends out many signals. Even before May 16 last year, if there was a bellwether for the national elections, it was the ruling party's ignominious performance in the Delhi assembly elections of December 2013. Though the BJP vote share fell noticeably in state elections in Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir from the numbers notched up in May 2014, a defeat in Delhi, where it won all seven Lok Sabha seats, would be more visible and embarrassing.
With the PM and the BJP president running brilliant poll campaigns that ensured an eight-month-long victory lap for the party, a win in Delhi is essential to keep the momentum. It would signal a victory for the Modi-Amit Shah duo over even their own party. The leadership had written off sections of the party and brought in a spanking new chief ministerial candidate at the last moment. While Kiran Bedi is widely believed to be an insurance policy against a possible defeat in Delhi, the fact that Modi directly took on the AAP has also made the election a test of his personal credibility.
Delhi offers the Modi-Shah brand of politicking a bigger challenge. What is more important than just losing, sometimes, is what you lose to. The way in which the AAP has projected itself as the bearer of a new political vocabulary, not in regulation handloom or kurta-pyjama but in the everyman's clothes, poses a challenge to what the BJP sees as its ultimate trump card — its ability to communicate or sell itself to the electorate. If millions in this most densely populated city are not convinced that you speak for or to the common man then is the 2014 pitch already in need of a reboot?
The BJP leadership has exhibited no appetite for courting the Opposition; winning the maximum number of states and earning more clout would be more in line with its style. A defeat, that too by a relative newbie, would puncture the vipaksh-mukt project, which is being pushed as one to be achieved.
The BJP, proud at having secured a powerful majority in the Lok Sabha, has been disturbingly blase about ramming crucial legislation through the ordinance route. Since it has a constitutional obligation to get them passed in the critical budget session beginning later this month, a win in Delhi would help the BJP railroad the Opposition further, especially in the Rajya Sabha. A loss, conversely, would force it to shift gear as an energised Opposition would have an alternative "Delhi-model" to needle the Centre.
A loss in the city that once elected the Jana Sangh and BJP founder-stalwarts like A.B. Vajpayee, V.K. Malhotra and L.K. Advani would definitely give the BJP cause for concern. The Congress, for its part, may enjoy the BJP's discomfiture, but it should also be worried by a possible AAP victory in mini-India. If the Congress sees itself as the natural national alternative for parties ranged against the BJP, the success of the AAP in Delhi could shake the idea that all opposition to Modi must centre around the Congress.
But what perhaps makes Delhi elections most important and prestigious for the BJP today is the ruling party's USP, which it has loudly marketed: that the BJP alone has the answers to the problems faced by urban India, rich or poor, old or young. However fuzzy in detail, the BJP has owned the soaring rhetoric of the "smart city project", bolstering the claim that the party is not just for today but also for tomorrow. The AAP is no Syriza or Podemos, parties that are shaking up Europe. But the BJP should be seriously shaken by the reasons for supporting the AAP that have been articulated in the campaign.
Principally, because they challenge the assumption that it is only the BJP that has the key to deciphering urban India, ergo, the future.