Category Archives: Politics
Some readers’ comments on an article in New York Times on August 7, 2015
Winners at the G.O.P. Debate Did Not Include Bush and Trump
What is most disturbing about this column is the total lack of discussion about the horrific things a bunch of men said about women’s lives and health. Mr. Cohn, do you have any idea what it is like to listen to these men pontificate about pregnancy termination, and women’s right to live?
Forget Trump’s vicious remarks about the way women look. He’s no physical prize himself, and ugly remarks about a woman’s appearance may wound, but they don’t kill.
Last night a candidate said he believed in no exceptions for abortion, not even when the life of the mother is at risk. Do you have any idea of the enormity of
that statement? What is says about Walker’s humanity? Yet you pick him as a winner? Forget outrage for a minute — where is your acknowledgement of this issue, and what those ten men said? Especially since you state the outcome of the debate “depends a lot more on how the news media covers the debates than the performances themselves.”
Well, you’re news media. You covered this debate by failing to mention that Walker prefers to let women die than end a life threatening pregnancy.
Walker’s answer re abortion was “concise and sharp.” Which seems to matter more to your analysis than the lives of women.
What I saw last night was ten men thoroughly ill-equipped to run our nation.
What you watched seems to be an entirely different show.
By not running far to the right like many of the other candidates on stage, I think that John Kasich proved he was the only one that could appeal to moderate democrats, independents, and republicans; thus making him the most viable candidate for the general election, but the least likely to win the GOP nomination. By not getting caught up in the name-calling/Benghazi/e-mail foolishness that some of the other candidates were distracted with, Kasich was able to eloquently tell the American people of his accomplishments. His heartfelt response about gay marriage seemed to resonate with many.
The republican base is too caught up in hearing about what Hillary Clinton did and could care less about hearing what their candidates will do; which is why Kasich stands no chance unless he starts to call Hillary a pant suit wearing devil. The one who spews the most vitriol at Hillary will win. Issues are not of any importance to GOP voters easily distracted by shiny, new objects like Donald Trump.
Wow. I completely disagree about Walker. He came across as uninformed about the Middle East and truly horrible on women’s issues. Regarding abortion, he doesn’t think there should be any exception for the life of the mother.
Think about that.
This callous disregard for our very lives is outrageous. Walker’s attacks on the teachers of Wisconsin are well-known to me, since I live in Illinois, but I hadn’t been aware that his anti-choice stance extends to a complete disregard for women’s lives let alone our health, freedom of choice, privacy, and our knowledge of what’s best for ourselves, our bodies, our futures, our finances and our families including our existing children.
That’s outrageous. I’m surprised that Nate Cohn didn’t find that alarming, reactionary and undemocratic.
Attitudes this extreme need to be reported. Not everybody had the time or opportunity to watch the debate, therefore they depend upon journalists for facts and interpretations of facts.
A man who is willing to let a woman die shouldn’t be anywhere near a powerful political office in the 21st century, let alone in America where we supposedly believe in equal rights for women.
Well it wasn’t child appropriate viewing. I watched with elementary school children. Rubio and others who wouldn’t consider saving “the life of the mother” reduced my grandson to tears. That was the debate electricity in our house. Is it likely that adults are also revolted by this position – when they think of their wives, daughters sisters, and friends?
I don’t think that extreme anti-women stance was limited to Walker. It appeared that one by one, they were all pushed to say that they endorsed forcing women to die or raise a rapist’s child rather than have a medical procedure to save themselves, physically or psychologically. Rubio blurted it out, and Huckabee – well, we should be prepared to be charged as murderers in the unlikely event of a Huckabee administration. I think there’s not one of them qualified to lead a nation that includes women. Period.
I can’t believe you treat Walker’s stance on abortion so cavalierly. He doesn’t believe in abortion even to save the life of the mother, let the woman die. This needs to be screamed from the rooftops. There is a man who is a governor in the United States, a man that wants to be President, that thinks it’s perfectly fine for a woman to die instead of having an abortion that could save her life. This is outrageous and totally unacceptable. Walker is an ignoramus and dangerous to women and that was crystal clear to every woman who watched last night. Too bad you missed it Nate.
Ironically, Trump has put Fox News in a very difficult position. By all rights, his refusal to unconditionally support the final Republican presidential candidate should disqualify him from any further debates. But by denying him a place on the stage, Fox would certainly force him to run as an independent, which would just as certainly hand the keys to the White House back to the Democrats. As it stands right now, Fox can’t guarantee the Republicans can retake the Presidency, but it can certainly guarantee the Democrats do.
Sixteen years after Ralph Nader put George W. Bush the White House, Donald Trump might well do the same for Hillary. Revenge may not always be a dish best served cold; warmed-over might work as well. Either way, the irony is delicious.
I found most of the candidates frightening. They would not allow a 15 year girl access to abortion if she were raped. They are telling young American women they do not have the right to live if they develop serious medical issues while pregnant. I hate abortion. Abortion rates in Western Europe are a small percent of the United States. Ask candidates why that is? Affordable access to effective birth control would allow our abortion rate to plummet while defunding Planned Parenthood would make the abortion rate rise.
Kasich appeared to be the only candidate to care whether Americans could survive their political values/bigotry.
The Republican platform: “I hate Obama, I hate Hillary, Obama is wrecking the country, Hillary will wreck the country, the terrorists are coming.”
II wanted to see a group of candidates who would respond in earnest to important policy questions. I did not see much of that. The questions were often unprofessional and off-point for the overarching issues we face today. And the responses mostly were not very insightful.
Why does this party still boast it will repeal Obamacare and Dodd-Frank? Why do they reflexively say they want to cut Social Security and Medicare? Why do they proudly say they will not expand Medicaid, all in knee-jerk fashion? There are real human beings out there who need these. Are these people so out of touch that they cannot see how these issues affect the daily lives of real people?
And then there is the willingness to start another war. Again, real people will fight those wars and possibly die. Do these candidates care about that? Show me people with heart and a true desire to be a statesman, not a bunch of armchair generals. John Kasich seemed to have some warmth and humanity and a knowledge that what he may do will affect people’s lives. The others all seemed out solely for themselves.
By N.V. Subramanian (29 September 2014)28 September 2014: In some ways, Narendra Modi’s prime ministry appears more counter-intuitive than those of his predecessors. You would imagine that he would seek to make friends and allies in the ruling establishment to stabilize and strengthen his position. By that logic, he would placate his party colleagues in and outside the government and the extended Sangh Parivar which assisted him to gain power. He would wire the permanent civil service in his favour and give it a share of power as happened in the previous United Progressive Alliance regime. He would curry favour with the press, appear beholden to the fat cats of the financial world, and gush at big business.
Counter-intuitively, Narendra Modi has done none of these things.
The media loathes his guts. Every passing day of his prime ministry makes it more irrelevant. Industrialists are not crowding Delhi as in the past; the prime minister is said to have pulled up some of his more errant ministers who thought to cozy up to them on the sly. After last week’s bloodless massacre, which saw scores of mid-career officials transferred, the Central bureaucracy is alternatively terrified of and enraged with the prime minister. At a private dinner of Indian Administrative Service and Indian Foreign Service officers, there were powerful voices urging sabotage of the Narendra Modi government. One dialogue resonated above all else, and that was, “We have to break the prime minister before he breaks us. He has to be made to realize he cannot do without us.”
Nor is the sentiment in Bharatiya Janata Party circles in favour of Narendra Modi. Lok Sabha members from North India feel specially let down. Their group-talk follows this general pattern: “We thought we would make money and have fun in Delhi. No way. Modi has put a stop to all that. We literally drink milk and go to bed. We don’t know when this man will summon us for a late-night meeting. If we smell of alcohol, it is the end of us.”
This may be typical cow-belt exaggeration. But the fear of Narendra Modi is real. In their fears, he appears omnipotent and omniscient. In any other administration, you would expect MPs to be vying to become ministers; not in this dispensation. Junior MPs plead not to be recommended for ministerships. They consider it a prison sentence, with Modi being the fearsome head warden. Equally, senior members of Sangh Parivar front organizations are unhappy with the prime minister because he won’t slacken the purse strings for them. At one meeting apparently, he exasperatedly explained to them that he was answerable for every naya paisa of government expenditure; they left disgusted.
Over and above all this, the opposition won’t give him any quarter. If he succeeds in this term and wins another, the dynastic parties are finished for the next twenty years; there will be a generational wipe-out. The Nehru-Gandhis, the Mulayam and Laloo Yadavs and the Karunanidhis won’t stand for that at any cost. Hence the exultation at the victories notched in the Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat by-polls, which may be premature.
At the same time, Narendra Modi’s foreign policy successes are stirring envy at home and new competition abroad. The Chinese leadership cannot countenance a strong Indian prime minister who would once for all erase the ignominy of the 1962 debacle. Pakistan has already moved into reflexive obstructionist mode, with the Pakistan military stoking jihadi terrorism again in Jammu and Kashmir. And if India rises with Modi, the great powers shan’t be ecstatic; it will mean more multi-polarity.
Some of the opposition to rising India and Modi is inevitable and unstoppable. If the country’s rise is peaceful, as it is bound to be in India’s case, that would bring its own acceptability. But why would Narendra Modi wish to stir up so much domestic opposition to him after such a handsome victory? Perhaps the answer resides in two things. One is that by nature he is transformative; the status quo does not satisfy him. Second, India is in a political, economic, financial and military-strategic mess; this is all too apparent. Unless Modi cracks the whip, the system will not reform and deliver. But isn’t he making enemies in the system? Won’t the system strike back?
This writer is convinced that Modi has evaluated the risks and feels no threat to his position so long he can deliver. To deliver, he needs the system, which means the ministers, the bureaucrats, the party apparatus, and so on. He knows the system inside out; he is confident of dominating it. But he needs a bigger alliance with the people to win their recurrent legitimacy and to gain the cushion of time to deliver; hence his direct address to masses via new vehicles of communications like Teacher’s Day and the improvisation of older forms such as the Independence Day speech: defying expectations, he spoke in it of toilets for girls and admonished mothers who wouldn’t rein in their wayward sons.
Isn’t all this a big gamble; thrusting ahead on people power with a dysfunctional system and a mutinous crew? It is. But Narendra Modi believes he can pull it off. He works harder than anyone in government; he is streamlining the system; he is weeding out the corrupt and plugging the loopholes against bleeding the exchequer. He is imposing new moral norms on his ministers and setting right the warped steel frame of the civil service. The conviction of J.Jayalalithaa indicates the depths to which the country has fallen. Years from now, Modi’s ministers would be glad that he kept them on a tight leash.
Imperceptibly, the country is changing. Honesty and integrity count for more than ever in public life. The spread of communications, education, knowledge and awareness has diminished the hold of political power on people. Narendra Modi is alive to this vital change and his actions are complimentary. They are probably not as counter-intuitive as they seem.
Global Indians for Bharat Vikas
12 Pendleton Place, Edison, NJ 08820, USA http://www.gibv.org, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 570-884-GIBV
India: Basement, Meera Manan Arcade, Parimal Garden, Amdavad-380006, 079-2640-7771
May 18, 2014
Global Indian for Bharat Vikas (GIBV) is very happy to congratulate Shri Narendra Modi on leading BJP and NDA a to unprecedented and historical victory in the recently concluded national elections of India.
This election has far reaching consequences for India and the world. After 30 long years, era of coalition politics has come to an end. A stable government where BJP has clear majority will be able to take critical decisions without succumbing to pressures from small regional parties with narrow interests. India has huge potential for development. It has rich natural resources and largest population of people under age 35. Shri Narendra Modi is capable of unleashing this potential and harnessing energy of the youth and employing it for all round progress.
Another salient point of this election is end of dynastic rule of Nehru-Gandhi family. Congress, led by this family forever has been reduced to a paltry 44 seats, failing the minimum threshold to qualify for leader of opposition in the Loksabha. Most of its ministers and seasoned members have lost spectacularly. Shri Modi had promised Congress Mukta Bharat and the process has begun. Congress has failed to win a single seat in seven states and has not been able to cross double digit in any state. Disintegration of Congress is now only a matter of time.
From BJP’s tally in UP and Bihar, it is clear that people have voted crossing barriers of caste and religion and in favor of development and stability. Decimation of BSP and SP in their bastion points to the beginning of the end of caste driven politics. As a matter of fact thousands of migrant workers and employees of major corporations in Gujarat who hail from UP, Bihar and Odisha and have experienced benefits of Gujarat model firsthand became brand ambassador for Shri Narendra Modi in their respective states.
Shri Narendra Modi deserves praise for conceiving, planning and executing a superb campaign using all the tools available, be it the social media or Chai Pe Charcha. He has led from the front and enthused millions of volunteers across the globe to work for a clear majority for BJP and a formidable tally for NDA. He has turned every obstacle, every insult thrown at him into a formidable weapon, be it Chaiwala or Jehar ki Kheti (poison farming) or Nichee jati (lower caste.)
Under Shri Narendra Modi’s leadership, we look forward to a time when India will lead the world, not as a superpower but as a cultural Guru, where age old and time tested ethos of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam (The whole universe is a family) and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah (May all be happy) will lead to an era of cooperation instead of conflict and nations would compete to provide better living conditions to their citizens instead of stockpiling weapons in a game of one-upmanship.
Congratulations are also in order to the voters of India. They voted in big numbers. They voted judiciously and decisively. They voted for better future. This exhibits maturity of Indian electorate.
We at Global Indians for Bharat Vikas, a USA based international organization interested in the long term development of India with a Nationalist government at the helm are proud to have 1000+ volunteers across the globe who helped Shri Modi’s campaign in different ways. We will continue to help a government headed by Shri Narendra Modi by providing critical input on issues of importance to the nation.
We wish Narendrabhai Modi grand success as he sets out to tackle seemingly insurmountable problems of a weak economy, all pervading corruption, stagnant job market, instability, terrorism, etc. We feel proud that a giant of a Man , a visionary and a nationalist is going to be sworn in as the Prime Minister of India within a few days. Indeed, Better Days are Ahead.
Dr. Mahesh Mehta Gaurang G. Vaishnav Anjlee Pandya
President National Convener Secretary, India operations
Boston., MA Edison, NJ Amdavad, Gujarat
May 8, 2014 Dharana and Modiji at BJP election office in Varanasi
This was a memorable day. The day before District Magistrate (DM) had refused to give permission for Narendra Modi’s public meeting in Beniyabag, Varanasi, citing security concern (it is a different matter that two days later, same administration allowed Rahul Gandhi’s road show, though he has higher level of security!) Not one to take it lying down and known for turning every adversity in to an opportunity (starting with Maut Ka Sodagar epitaph in 2007 Gujarat election), Narendrabhai canceled all other programs (Ganga Aarati and a meet with intellectuals) except one rally in Rohaniya. This itself became a rallying point for Modi aficionados, who number in hundreds of thousands here in Varanasi. Modiji converted this into an opportunity to have an unannounced, unofficial roadshow- more about it later.
Also it was announced that Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and other leaders would sit on a Dharana in Lanka, a famous area in front of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) on 8th morning. Our team under leadership of Ramesh Shah (Houston) decided to halt campaigning and join Dharana to protest prejudiced and politically motivated decision of the EC. Our first stop was a busy road where we distributed NaMo for PM caps to people passing by. Then we proceeded to BHU campus. This is a huge campus with a big public hospital. Pandit Madanmohan Malaviyaji’s statue graces the gates of the campus. We reached there just before 10:00 AM. BJP leaders were expected at 11:00. There was a big crowd chanting slogans against the election commission and the DM. Trucks with satellite dishes were parked on both sides of the road. All major channels- Aaj Tak, India Times, NDTV, ETV, TV9, etc. were present as were a number of smaller and local channels. Umpteen reporters holding microphone in had with cameraman in tow were working the crowd to get sound bytes. Burkha Dutt, Rahul Kanwal and Anurag Kashyap were moving around. I saw and heard Anurag Kashyap spewing his anti-BJP, anti-Modi venom as his cameraman was recording him. He looked like an angry, frustrated man. A vein on his neck was literally throbbing and I though the guy was going to have a coronary. I had vicarious pleasure knowing that these scoundrels’ days were numbered now. Within an hour crowd was of unmanageable proportion. Police had not stopped or diverted traffic because Dharana is a public right and does not require police permission. Since no permission is sought, there is no legal need to stop the traffic. Hapless people on two wheelers and in cars were struggling to pass through human sea. Air was charged with Modi, Modi chants. Some local leaders were already sitting in the middle of the road for Dharana. Heat was so intense that it felt someone had put hot wires around our bodies. We were constantly downing cold water bottles but that gave only temporary respite. W waited till 12:30 Pm but Jaitleyji and company had not arrived yet. We decided that we were better off going to BJP election office and help with office work there. This we spent two and a half hour in the frenzied environment.
We had come to know that Modiji was going to come to the election office to do Ganga Pujan straight from his meeting at Rohaniya. I went to a cybercafé to get some work done as there was no Internet/Wi-Fi at the guesthouse where we had stayed (across from BJP election office in Rathyatra in Sigra area.) When I reached the BJP office gates at 5:30 PM, it was a virtual fortress, surrounded by CRP, RAF, police, etc. No one without an approved pass was allowed inside. They had issued passes to local workers, which was quite understandable. Inside also there were people in the compound who were not allowed to go inside the building. There were people in the building on upper floors who were not allowed to come down. Our friend, Ramesh Shah, who was helping with the office work was inside but rest of us were outside. I attempted to reason with the senior volunteer outside and after some persuasion, he allowed me to go inside the compound making it clear that I would not be able to go further, which was OK by me. With me was Meena Shah, a volunteer from Houston and Dr. Anjila Gupta, a professor from Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi who had taken one month off to work on campaign in Varanasi. All three of us joined 60 or so people in the large compound. It was a hot day and all we had was water at normal temperature. We kept standing, sometimes finding a stoop to sit on. Modiji was expected around 6:00 PM. But wait was without an end. I did feel drawn out because morning Dharana and now standing on feet in the depressing heat had taken its toll but there was no question of backing out now. There were people in balconies of the building. The office is on the ground floor and this brand new building has 10 floors. We saw Laxmikant Bajpayee, president of BJP-UP, sitting outside. We also saw former CM, Kalyan Singh’s son and many other dignitaries. Modiji had arrived in Lanka (BHU) from Rohaniya by helicopter and from there he was coming in an SUV. He couldn’t stand in the vehicle as it would be against election law (that would be considered an official road show and would need permission, so he was greeting people on the side of the roads with folded hands. Crowd was so intense on his route that it took him five hours to cover a distant of 4 KM (2.5 miles)! Finally his car entered the gates at 9:30 PM. I had waited exactly four hours to have a glimpse of him.
As soon as he alighted from the flower bedecked SUV, security threw a cordon around him yet the crowed jostled to be near him. People almost broke the cordon and Modiji had hard time to walk barely 50 steps to heavily guarded front doors. I snapped some photos with iPad but it was impossible to get a clear shot. All you could hear was Modi, Modi, Modi and nothing else. He was hardly inside for 10 minutes where he performed Puja of Gangaji water that was specially brought there; Pandit Chhannuram, who had accompanied when he filed his nomination officiated for the Puja. Anjilabahen asked me if she could get one of the flower “malas” from Modiji’s vehicle. I was not too sure but asked one of the commandos. He OK’ed it so I picked up one mala from the bonnet of SUV and gave it to Anjinibahen, keeping one flower for myself. Such is the craze and Bhakti for Modiji, cutting against all barriers of age, position, social status, etc.
Very soon Modiji came out; this time the security was better prepared and whisked him into his car and sped off in no time. Within moments it was all over.
Modiji turned the rejection by the DM into an opportunity to attract more people than what a public meeting would have achieved. No wonder, all dirty tricks of Congress have failed.
This was an exciting, thrilling and exhausting day for all of us.
May 6- Modiji’s rally in Gaurigunj- a memorable experience
As modiji’s rally was scheduled for May 6 in Amethi area, we decided to attend it rather than go campaigning as most villagers would be flocking to the rally. Time for rally was set for 3:00 PM and we knew that it would be past 4:00 PM before Modiji arrived.
We left from Kalyan Pur at 10:30 via Amethi as we had to buy train tickets for return to Varanasi. After the near death experience of driving long distances on the highways and byways of Varanasi to Amethi, we refused to go back by car and opted for the train instead. It was going to be a middle of the night train and reservation was not guaranteed. We bought the tickets any way for 3 AC train with our names on the waiting list. Traffic management in Amethi is very poor and no one follows any rule of the road so there were unnecessary and irritating long delays everywhere. There were virtual gridlocks in front of the cops, who stood by disinterested. Perhaps, they had imbibed attributes of a ‘sthitaprajna’ a bit too much!
Any way, finally we were on our way to Gaurigunj, which was about 10 miles northwest of Amethi. It took us 45 minutes because of bad roads. Our driver was expert at maneuvering landmines like potholes but that also meant that very often he came face to face, in a head-on like situation with the oncoming traffic. We saw scores of people walking to the venue, rickshaws, trucks and buses festooned with NaMo insignia; it was a festive atmosphere. We reached the venue at 1:45 PM, a good 75 minutes before the start time but there were already thousands of people. We were able to find seats on the side of the stage, in unreserved area in the 11th row from where one could clearly see the speaker as well as the giant screen. This was after standing for almost an hour.
Gajendrasingh Solanki, a well-known poet and an office-bearer of cultural wing of BJP was emceeing the event. He regaled the audience with his witty, full of barbs poetry castigating Congress. There were several speakers, mostly local and state level leaders, those who were past their prime in the political arena as well the new aspirants. Some were very good, others looked like a deer caught in the headlight of a car. In any case people were not paying attention; they were looking at a TV camera mounted on a crane and also at scores of reporters from every TV channel. Some were scanning the sky to see if they would be the first to spot Narendrabhai’s helicopter.
People kept pouring in. It was a God sent gift for hawkers and vendors. Heat was intense, around 110 degrees F. Water pouches, cool cucumber (literarily), sugarcane juice, fruits, soft drinks, snacks, were being hawked at inflated price and people were snapping them up like hot cake. Suddenly tons of youth invaded our area. Slowly they pushed their way to the front, dethroned those sitting in first row of chairs and started flinging chairs in the air to make room for them to stand. It was chaos for a while. Surprising there were no injuries but some chairs were broken. Some of these guys stood up on the chair, completely blocking view all those who were sitting. No amount of request or reasoning would work with them; they were simply there to have “darshan” of their God, NaMo. By the time Smruti Iraniji arrived at 4:00 PM, crowd had swelled to over 100,000. We had been sitting/standing in the scorching sun now for more than two hours. It was announced from the stage that there was 18-mile backup of traffic and vehicles were struggling to reach the rally. As the time drew closer for Modiji’s arrival, a slow hum that grew into a roar started from the audience. There were incessant chants of Modi, Modi and its variations. People would look up the sky, someone would mention that he had seen the helicopter and the crowd would be on its feet and in frenzy. One would think that Bhagwan Ramachandra himself was arriving in Pushpak viman! Ultimately just around 4:45 PM, a dot appeared in the sky, grew within moments to a full fledged helicopter, was almost in front of us, turned and landed just behind the stage. As Modiji came up on the stage, it was as if all hell broke loose; there was near pandemonium everywhere and for a while it looked like people would be crushed in the stampede. Eventually repeated request from the stage to maintain calm and dignity and security force’s quick action restored some semblance of order.
Smrutiji spoke first. She is a formidable orator and spoke well outlining her vision for Amethi. We could not see her as there were all these unruly youth standing on the chairs. She spoke for 20 minutes or so. By now crowd was estimated at 150,000. When Modiji rose to speak there was deafening slogan shouting. No one, including us could remain silent, such was the overpowering emotion. Modiji started off gently and as the time passed, he stepped up his attack on the misdeeds of the Gandhi family. He is so good at weaving his thoughts together that one would not know when he switches gears or subject. By now those rabble-rousers were gone. I surmised that they had no interest in Modiji’s speech (and probably his vision); they wanted to see him live from the close quarters, had their wish fulfilled and had left. So we were able to take their place, not standing on the chair but standing almost near the first row and could see Modiji clearly. Modiji heaped praises on Smrutiji. He tore into Priyanka Gandhi’s snide remark “Who is she (Smrutiji)?” He said, “I will tell you Priyankaji, who she is. She is my younger sister. I had given her the most underdeveloped district in Gujarat to work on and she has done such a wonderful job that I have sent her to Amethi so that people of Amethi can have development that your brother has neglected all these years.” He was so profuse in the praise of Smrutiji that she was seen crying and wiping tears. By now, Modiji had the crowd literarily eating out of his hands. He talked about all round development of Amethi that he has in mind; he talked about the woes of the farmers. It was clear that he knew all the local issues. As his speech neared the end, he talked about “politics of anger”, a phrase hurled at him by Rahul. He asked the audience I have a locked box (Hindi word: Pitera, Gujarati- Patara), should I open it for you? He asked this more than once and crowed roared in approval. Then he set out to list politics of anger starting with Rajeev Gandhi and ending with Rahul Gandhi. (1) Rajeev Gandhi who held just a party position got angry and had insulted publically the then C. M. of Andhra Pradesh who had come to receive him at the airport, driving him to tears. (2) Sonia Gandhi had elected president of Congress, Sitaram Kesari, a man in his eighties, who belonged to backward caste physically lifted from his office and then dumped out in the street so she could occupy Congress President’s chair. (3) When P. V. Nursing Rao, former Congress Prime Minister of Bharat died, Sonia Gandhi did not give permission to keep his body at the Congress office for people to pay homage (because after Lal Bahadur Shashtri, he was the first non-Nehru-Gandhi Congress PM) and she did not allow to have him cremated where all former PMs were, so that no memorial of him could be built later. (4) Rahul Gandhi, who talks about politics of anger, publically tore apart an ordinance passed by his own party’s government and insulted the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who was traveling abroad.
With this stinging chrgesheet, he ended his address. It is to Narendra Modi’s credit that he has exposed the so-called Gandhi family ( we all know how Khan became Gandhi for political convenience and hoodwinking the nation) like no one else has, and he has taken the fight to their home ground.
We returned exhausted by the heat but exhilarated by the experience. Our excitement had not ended yet. That night we were waiting for the train to Varanasi at Amethi railway station. We were sitting next to a young man. As I started talking, I found out that the guy was a Youth Congress worker from Balia. He told me that he was in Amethi for two weeks to do survey for Rahul Gandhi. When I asked him about what he found, he bitterly said that people were asking questions about lack of basic amenities for which he and others had no answer. He said that the survey was an exercise in futility. He was a graduate without job. He surprised me when he said that his name was the electoral roll at two places, in Balia and in Bihar, across the boarder and that he intended to vote for BJP. He said only Modi could change the situation. Such was the Modi wave!
Last installment of our excitement was the train journey. The train arrived at 1:00 AM, half an hour late. We did not know where the 3AC coaches would come on the platform; we saw them but since the train stopped hardly for two minutes, we had to get into a non-ac compartment and stand in the vestibule. It was stuffy and hot. Someone told us that the train would stop for five minutes at Pratapgadh station (about half an hour away) where we could change to 3AC coach. As soon as train stopped at Pratapgadh, we got down with our luggage and literarily ran to find 3AC coaches. There were many but we did not see the train conductor who could verify if we had moved from the waiting list to confirmed reservation. So again, as the train started, we entered nearest 3AC compartment. We sat in the walkway/aisle on our bags and kept dozing off. Of course, we had to get up a number of times when passengers had to pass by to got to the bathroom. No one came to check our tickets and we were glad when the train arrived at Varanasi at 5:30 AM. We were on the road for campaigning by 9:00 AM but that is the story for another day.
May 3,4, 5 in Amethi
We embarked on the journey to Amethi with excitement. One, we were going to the battleground Royale, where a dynast was being challenged as was never done before and other, we were going to witness development of a constituency, supposedly nurtured by Rahul Gandhi.
Amethi lies 120 miles from Varanasi and part of the travel is by national expressway. It still took us more than five hours. Expressway was nowhere near what we are used to in Gujarat and secondary roads were horrendous to say the least. Traffic indiscipline was so terrible that more than once I thought we were going to die in a head-on collision.
We were put up with a fairly rich, landlord (Zamindar) type of a joint family of four brothers. House had 22 rooms. They owned about 65 acres farmland and had also other business interests. They were a pro-Congress people but now leaning towards Modiji. We had lively firsthand education about how Rajiv Gandhi built roads and other facilities and nurtured the constituency and how the village was indebted to him. But then in last 20 years, no development or maintenance had occurred. All this learning was under open skies sitting in a large verandah at late night. Sleeping on coats out in the open and waking up to the sweet sounds of dozens of peacocks was a beautiful experience. Our hosts were gracious and exhibited warmth that is still found in villages.
Next day we had a marathon day. We were on the road from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM with a break of about one hour. We were accompanied and guided by Sri Manish Manjul of Samarth Foundation, New Delhi. Besides, one of the host brothers was with us all the time. We visited Amethi and villages of Ayodhya Pur, Bariya Pur, Bhadaw, Dasai Pur, Durga Pur, Kalyan Pur, Karmai Pur, Kenaura, Lahua, Lambhua, Machwah, Madhur Pur, Ramgunj, Saranwa, Sambhovan, and Teraayen. I noticed a few things. (1) Lack of infrastructure. Roads were almost non-existent. Without exaggeration I can say that in Amethi constituency, there are potholes and craters connected by strips of pavements and this pass off as roads. (2) Limited and undependable supply of electricity. One may get up to 12 hours of electricity and that too not on a fixed schedule (3) Terrible shortage of water and poor quality of drinking water (4) Poverty of villagers (5) A sense of resignation and desperation
At village after village whether we met with groups of people or individuals, they had a litany of woes and we were listening to them helplessly. At one group meeting they brought drinking water in a glass to show us. It looked more like crushed brick mixed in water. Repeatedly the villagers and semi-urban people, educated as well as uneducated told us that no one cared for them. There was a yearning for a change and hope that “ Modi” will change their lot. We met followers of Congress and SAPA, who said that they would vote for Modi because he would bring development. Expectations from Modiji are so high that it scares me to think of the disappointment of these people when they would realize that changes wouldn’t come that fast and that many of the problems are linked to the non-performing local and State governments and not the central Government.
Despite all the unrest, my sense was that Rahul would sail through, albeit with a reduced margin. The Bharatiya mindset of groveling at the feet of a dynasty is so deeply etched in the psyche of the people that it is no use blaming only the rulers; people are equally responsible for their own plight. Education of the people and all-round development of impoverished areas by a BJP government is the only answer to end the hold of the dynasty, the Thakurs, the landlord and political mafia. Fortunately, all children go to school (education is a big business everywhere in Bharat) and Ekal Vidyalaya has good penetration in these villages, so hopefully thing would change for better.
An interesting thing I noticed was the custom that wherever one went, before the customary offer of a glass of water, the host will offer something to eat. It may be as simple as a piece of jaggery (deliciously sweet, since this is made in the farm from sugarcane without any additives or refinement), a biscuit or a cracker or sweets and snacks. Initially, I had refused the offer but once I came to know of the custom, I never said no. We drank all kind of waters at every place we went over these 10 days and we had no problem whatsoever; I attribute it to God’s grace. I was surprised that we were in one piece after the grueling journey on unending potholes for miles and miles but there was a sense of satisfaction that we were doing our bit for our beloved matrubhumi.
History in the Making- on the Campaign Trail, from USA to India- 6
I spent three days (April 22 to 24) campaigning in Junagadh district and covered Junagadh, Visavadar and Bhesan talukas. I also spent half a day in Mendarada taluka, which is part of Porbandar district. I was aided by GIBV (Global Indians for Bharat Vikas) team on ground led by one Dhirubhai Savaliya.
These are the villages I had a chance to visit and talk with people.
Visavadar Taluka: Dadar, Miya Vadia, Juni Chavand, Leriya, Monapari Nani
Junagadh Taluka: Ambaliya, Baliyavad, Bilkha, Chokli, Goladhar, Jhalansar, Kathrota, Majevadi, Makhiyala, Nawa Pipaliya, Patrapsar, Sukhpur, Vadal, Vadasimdi
Bhesan Taluka: Bhesan, Mendpara, Parab Vavdi, Ranpur
Mendarda Taluka: Khadpipli, Mithapur, Thana Pipali, Vasapada
A typical day would start around 9:30 AM and end at 8:30 PM. We would pile in a rented car (no party funds) and travel to various villages. This wasn’t a door-to-door campaign but more of meeting with village head or influential persons in the village. They would have good assessment of how the village would vote. I had different people traveling with me every day, some being common. The number in our party would be as low as three and as high as seven. On of them was an Ayurvedic doctor, one was a Naturopathy doctor and one was a lawyer. All of these were Patels and involved with farming.
One day Ukabhai Patlodia, president of Junagadh District Bharatiya Kishan Sangh, accompanied us. I could see that he commanded total respect wherever we went. It was almost as if his was God’s word. Other day, I had Ravinbhai Dudhatra, the Naturopathy doctor who knew each and everyone in villages that we visited in Mendarda Taluka. It was clear to me that all these volunteers had spent years cultivating relations with these villages through their association with Vishwa Hindu Parishad, BJP, RSS and/or Gau Raksha movement. One cannot help but appreciate ground level work of RSS.
Wherever we went, we were received with warmth except at couple of places to which I will come later. I had observed strict rule of not eating any solid food during the daytime while campaigning to preserve my health (at least up until May 10th, last day of campaigning) but I could not refuse offer of cold drinks like water, lemon-water, sherbet, (I don’t take tea or coffee) etc., and villagers in Saurashtra (western Gujarat) are known for their hospitality. Besides, heat was scorching. Highest temperature on a given day would be around 102-105 f. degrees. In three days I drank liquid that I would drink in a month at home!
We met with sarpanchs, farmers’ leaders, business leaders, etc. and also visited a couple of election offices of BJP.
Here are my observations: The election on Junagadh seat is fought on caste lines and unfortunately this is true in all of Gujarat. In Junagadh, voters we met with were predominantly Leua Patels (Keshubhai Patel’s caste). BJP candidate is Rajesh Chudasama a Koli Patel who is a sitting MLA. Congress candidate, Punjabhai Vansh is also a Koli Patel who is a senior MLA with good record. Koli Patels are evenly divided in supporting either candidate.
Problem for BJP is the by-election to Visavadar MLA’s seat. Keshubhai has vacated it for his son, Bharat Patel (a price he extracted from Modiji to merge his failed GPP party with BJP). Farmers are vociferously opposed to Bharat Patel because they feel that those who have toiled for years are marginalized and a rank outsider, known for his corrupt ways has been foisted upon them. Add to this the fact that the Congress candidate, Harshadbhai for Visavadar MLA seat has been known to take care of the day to day problems of the farmers. We repeatedly heard in the Visavadar Taluka villages a question- “how can we not vote for Harshadbhai?” Another fear the villages have is that, Keshubhai didn’t do much for them in his 15 years career, including being a C. M. and now they would be stuck with Bharat Patel for another 15 years.
BJP has to confront the reality that these farmers, who are eager to vote for the Congress candidate at MLA level, would likely also push the Congress button for M. P. candidate too. This would harm Mr. Chudasma, unless he covers enough ground in other talukas where there is no by-election. Our job was cut out. We had to explain to them the importance of keeping eye on the top prize, that is to make Narendra Modi the P.M., which would be possible only of they consciously voted for BJP candidate at national level. It was at least good to see that practically everyone we met had high praise for Modiji and wanted to see him win.
It is clear that though this is the national election, average villager is looking only at his local problem and day to day issues that he has to grapple with.
Another thing I noticed was that these villages would vote en-bloc for a chosen candidate and most likely they would listen to the village head or any other influential leader. Except for villages in Visavadar Taluka, there was resounding vote for Modiji.
At a supporter’s shop in Vadal (Author first from right in the second row)
With the village elders under a tree (Chai Pe Charcha?
Mendarda Taluka falls in Porbandar district where the BJP candidate is Vitthalbhai Radadia, another Leua Patel. He has a checkered history. He started with BJP, went over to two other parties before moving on to Congress and then coming back to BJP in 2013. He is a powerful leader who has always managed to win. His victory is a foregone conclusion. We met with his followers, who are essentially Congress people. They told me that at local level elections, they would vote for Congress but for this election, they will vote for BJP. When I questioned their rationale, answer was simple- we will do anything for Vitthalbhai! You can see that the election is fought not on party affiliation but on personalities and castes. It is a very scary proposition for the health of Indian democracy. Worst is the fact that this Vitthalbhai is nothing short of a muscleman (Bahubali); he became infamous in 2012 (when he was in Congress) for brandishing guns with his goons at a Gujarat tollbooth when he was asked to pay the toll. May God save India from such goons, regardless of the party they belong too. (You may note that he is not the only candidate with such antecedents.)
In a village called Khadpipli, we met with well to do farmers who are known to be scrupulously honest and against corruption. They had nothing but praise for Modiji.
Now I come to two experiences that were eye opener. We were at one village at the fag end of the day. We set on charpais and chairs and the local person started talking about election. The host, a man of may be 30-35 years, immediately retorted- if you have come here to talk about Kishan Sangh, then you are most welcome, but if you have come here to talk about politics, you are not welcome. Sensing his anger, we turned around the subject. I asked him as to what bothered him. A litany of issues came out like a torrent. He also had a colleague, a RSS trained young degreed engineer who put the grievances more sophisticatedly. Three issues stood out.
(1)Forest department’s continuous harassment.- whenever an animal dies in a farm, the farmer is taken into custody, even if the animal has died of natural causes. A few moths back a lion had died and the farmers were arrested by the police and beaten mercilessly. No political leader of BJP came to their rescue.
(2)GEB enforces new rule of Gujarat Government vehemently where one farm can only get one meter up to 10KWh. Farmers who have large holdings and need 30 kwh or more cannot get it, even if they are ready to pay extra for meters. This is a sore point.
(3)Elected members do not care to show their faces or listen to the villagers, once they have gone to Gandhinagar. I was told by the engineer, Bharat Savaliya that they had gone to Gandhinagar for a representation and their MLA, who was very much in office there lied and told them that he was out of town. They did catch him red-handed when he emerged from his office.
At a village in Junagadh Taluka, Patrapsar, we had another experience though for different reason. We were supposed to meet this person who had a shop in small village square. He and a few others came out, received us and offered cold drinks. When we talked about our mission, they told us that no one from the party (BJP) had visited them so far. The candidate, i.e., Bharat Patel had come to the next village but did not have time/courtesy to visit them. They had to listen to taunts from the opposition party because the party did not even send them any publicity material. They were quite agitated and it took us a while to calm them down.
Apart from these incidences, which are the real barometer, it was smooth sailing. To my surprise, fact that someone from USA had come to meet them created a big and positive impression everywhere. Youth were quite enthused for Modiji.
All in all, BJP will win but we should not be under the illusion that it will be a cakewalk. Positive part is that those who are bothered with local issues also understand importance of a Modi win and most likely will vote strategically.
P.S.: I had taken a non-AC train from Amdavad to Junagadh to be with the “common man”. It was a good experience. Person seating next to me was a well educated (Master’s level) and had decided to takeover his father’s business of barbershop rather than working for someone else. He had a lot of negative feelings for things around, but was positive that Modiji would win. He was proud of the fact that the actor Paresh Rawal, who is a BJP candidate from Amdavad, East had called him home for his services. Another person sitting next to me was an aged Sunni Muslim who was in charge of a mosque in the town of Wankaner. He was quite sober and while he did not outright endorse Modiji, he gave indication that people should vote for their betterment. There was also another Muslim couple sitting across from me with their two teenage sons. This guy was a “rekadi wala”, meaning pushcart hawker. I was talking with his wife and the elder son who was in 10th. I told him about Modiji’s idea of having Quran in one hand and computer in another. The message was received without any apparent hesitation.
Lastly, the religious head of the Muslim Bohra community, whom they consider almost as God was traveling by another train so at every medium to big size station, there were the followers (they are Shia and were Brahmins before forced conversion) by hundreds. They were decked in their best attire, old, young, man, woman, children- all – and it looked like a big festival. They had erected makeshift podium on those stations. I was told that the Dharmaguru’s train was running late by hours, as he had to stop at all these stations to speak for a few minutes.
I must end this report with heartfelt thanks to Global Indians for Bharat Vikas (GIBV), Amdavad office for making arrangements for my campaign and also to all individual volunteers in Junagadh who were diligent, knowledgeable, persuasive, accommodating and pleasant company.
My next report will be a brief one on my tour of Rajkot for a day and a half. That may come from Varanasi and my USA GIBV colleague Girishhbai Gandhi and I will be flying early tomorrow to Varanasi to campaign there, in Amethi (BJP’s Smrriti Irani is contesting against Rahul Gandhi) and in Azamgadh (S.P.’s Mulayam Singh is contesting from there.)
Of course, no Main stream media (MMS) story can be complete without obligatory reference to Gujarat riots and Ayodhya-Babri structure. But barring that, the following article invites those who support blindly Mr. Kejriwal and his party, AAP to do a serious rethink.
Economic Times: Poke Me: Why Kejriwal is losing the plot
This week’s ” Poke Me”, invites your comments on why Kejriwal is losing the plot. The feature will be reproduced on the edit page of the Saturday edition of the newspaper with a pick of readers’ best comments.
So be poked and fire in your comments to us right away. Comments reproduced in the paper will be the ones that support or oppose the views expressed here intelligently. Feel free to add reference links etc., in support of your comments.
Supreme Court Justice B N Agarwal is being sorely missed. It took him precisely 15 minutes to get a flustered Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi running from Chennai’s famed Marina beach to the secretariat and start working. That was after the DMK patriarch had said he would fast for the cause of Lankan Tamils, in April, 2009. The slightest of hints about the dreaded Article 356 of the Constitution did the trick.
As TV started flashing Justice Agarwal’s remarks on the incongruity of a constitutional functionary going on a fast, the chief minister had no option but to make a dash for his office before lunch.
Fortunately for Kejriwal, Justice Agarwal has since demitted office. Fortuitously for him too, the party that’s holding the reins of power at the Centre is famous for fiddling over issues. In this power vacuum, self-styled anarchist Kejriwal seems to think he can rule the law from the street instead of living by the rule of law, throwing constitutional norms and principles to the wind; all in the name of unconventional politics.
His politics as Delhi’s chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader has been a dangerous mix of self-righteousness and lynch-mob vigilantism, designed to mask his incapability to push through any of the major changes he had promised. The agenda of Somnath Bharti, his law minister, is equally insidious: subvert the existing criminal justice system to ensure khap panchayat style justice, ignore both facts and the law.
In recent days, the minister has raided (with an unruly mob in tow) houses in his constituency on the suspicion of soliciting and drug-trafficking, dragged away African women and forced them to submit in public to urine samples for medical analyses, all in the name of justice.
Pray how is the AAP any different from the Sri Ram Sene which doesn’t hesitate to play judge, jury and executioner on Valentines’ day in Karnataka and has assaulted AAP leaderPrashant Bhushan for his long-held views on Kashmir? How is Bharti any different from the Shahabuddins of yore who took the law into their own hands? Or the Mumbai underworld?
The criminal justice system as it stands today, one has to concede to Bhushan, is full of shortcomings. It is slow, expensive and has been hijacked by those who know how to manipulate the system. Conviction figures are low.
However, the way ahead cannot be the Kejriwal way — hold the city and people who propelled you to power to ransom and offer the voter street corner vigilante justice in the name of deliverance. The Kejriwal brand of politics is inherently disrespectful of all constitutional values we hold dear; the basic presumption of innocent till proven guilty, the principles of federalism and separation of powers. It holds out a simplistic and a potentially dangerous solution to a people impatient for change – take the law into your own hands like Bharti and fellow MLA Rakhi Birla.
Instead of disowning them, Kejriwal indulged in his own bit of lawlessness when he defied prohibitory orders to sit on a dharna demanding that the Centre hand over control over the city cops to him. He will have us believe that all corruption in Delhi would go once he controls the cops. Finally, on Tuesday, he backed down and settled for peanuts: getting a few cops who dared cross his government’s path to go on paid leave.
The man’s histrionics captured eyeballs; his shrill rhetoric caused panic and chaos in the city.
A few cops under his belt, Kejriwal called off the dharna before things turned ugly and passed it off as a victory for the people of Delhi. Many fell for his theories of police inaction to justify his means.
Riling people against another section is fraught with dangerous consequences for this polity, as we have seen in earlier instances of mass political mobilization whether in Gujarat or Ayodhya. Will saner elements in the party prevail before all its political goodwill is frittered away?
Or is it that Kejriwal is merely pandering to his constituency, the lower middle class, the disgruntled and the poor who wish to be rid of the existing inequitable system? Is he is trying to overthrow the system even though he chose to go the ballot way?
The educated AAP supporter has a lot of thinking to do in the days leading up to the Lok Sabha polls. Is this what he signed up for when he voted AAP in 2013? Surely Kejriwal’s cure, fraught with the danger of unleashing unparalleled violence and strife, is worse than the disease? Maybe, Kejriwal should call for another referendum on the means to his end if there is one. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for us, he may just lose that one.
We wish all a very happy Gregorian New Year, 2014. Let this year see total wipe out of Congress party from the electoral map. Let thinking citizens of Bharat give clear majority to BJP, so that Shree Narendra Modi can be elected as an effective Prime Minister and can usher in good governance without constraints of coalition politics.
A decisive nationalist leader, who inspires others to give their 110% and who brooks no nonsense is the need of the hour; only Narendra Modi fits that bill today.
This is not the time to tinker with alternatives that are willing to give away Kashmir, hobnob with Maoist terrorists and have sympathy for terrorist killed in Batla encounter. Yes, perhaps, this new breed can give good governance, though it is highly doubtful looking to their \”freebies\” culture, but can we barter away national security for such freebies? That is the only question every voter has to ask herself.
Let us all rededicate ourselves today to spend every available moment to campaign for Narendra Modi and his party, BJP. Let NRIs call their contacts in Bharat, send email, write letters, use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Quora, etc. to bring awareness in the society at this very critical juncture in the history of Bharat, that is, India.
Let us make sure that the maximum number of people register to vote and decide to vote for BJP, since that is the only way Narendra Modi can become the Prime Minister of India. . Let us concentrate on new voters, especially youth.
Sitting outside of Bharat, we can do much more but let us concentrate on people to people contacts for now. It does not matter whether you are in USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, Dubai, Singapore or Hong Kong; start working now without waiting for instructions. Visit www.gibv.org and register yourself as a volunteer to leave a mark in the history. If you live in Bharat, then do also visit and register on < http://www.india272.com/>.
Let us not give our children a reason to ask in later years, \”Where were you dad/mom when the Mahabharat election of 2014 was fought and anti-national force, the Kauravas won again?\”
Happy New Year and Jay Hind!
Gaurang G. Vaishnav
Global Indians for Bharat Vikas/Mission-2014
Edison, NJ, USA