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.
Sonia Gandhi: Sphinx who would be Pharaoh & When did Rahul Gandhi acquire identity of Raul Vinci? – Sandhya Jain
Given the thinly veiled nature of Sonia’s conflict with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over his refusal to step down and make way for her chosen heir after the victory of May 2009, it is safe to assume that the Signora now expects party loyalists to cluster around her charmless prince-ling and ensure him a say in government as well. Political compulsions have forced discretion regarding the chairmanship of the UPA parliamentary party, and her personal vanguard, the National Advisory Committee (whose members will doubtless be feeling orphaned already).
The composition of the committee that is now to preside over the Congress and its interaction with government reveals everything about Sonia Gandhi’s intent, mindset and style of functioning. It is an open affront to the Prime Minister and his senior cabinet colleagues (particularly to all purpose trouble shooter Pranab Mukherjee), to all senior Congress leaders with vote catching abilities, and to the party and nation. As such, it is virtually designed to undo the objective for which it has been formed, viz., install the Amethi MP as de facto leader of the party, and at an early date in the future, as head of the Government as well.
Even by the standards of the factional politics she played when she decided to keep the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao on tenterhooks throughout his tenure – which culminated in the party denying him a ticket to contest the next Parliamentary election, and then consigning him to oblivion – Sonia Gandhi’s designated committee is scandalously narrow. Worse, it is partisan against the Hindu community, a fact that would have been noted in the country as a whole.
Besides the non-Hindu Rahul Gandhi, who is obviously positioned as primus inter pares of the group, it comprises Defence Minister A.K. Anthony (supposedly for his clean image, but really because he is a Christian co-religionist and is therefore trusted more than other party veterans); her political secretary Ahmed Patel (a Muslim with no base in his home state of Gujarat, or indeed in any part of the country); and party organizing secretary Janardhan Dwivedi (a Patel acolyte and party spokesman with no base outside 24 Akbar Road).
Neither Rahul Gandhi, nor any among this group, is known for political sagacity, vision, and the ability to inspire the masses by winning votes, and thereby elections. Rahul Gandhi’s leadership qualities (sic) have already been tested in the waters of Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and leave one speechless. His espousal of the farmers’ cause in Bhatta-Parsaul villages of UP was swiftly undone by revelations of State favours in land acquisition in Haryana for a Trust run by Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka!
Yet Sonia Gandhi chose to shove aside all party veterans and trust such non-charismatic ‘nurses’ to propel Rahul Gandhi on a winning trajectory into the Prime Minister’s Office. Actually, the family miscalculated by refusing Dr Singh’s offer of a cabinet berth for Rahul in the recent cabinet reshuffle (though they would have been aware of Sonia’s ill-health by then), and now he is on a sticky wicket. Neither Dr Singh who sits in the Prime Minister’s chair, nor the seasoned Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who controls the Government’s purse strings, is going to forgive the calculated insult to their persons and their chairs.
Meanwhile, a number of questions arise about the secretive manner in which Sonia Gandhi went abroad for surgery on 2 August 2011. The excuse of excessive visitors disturbing patients in an Indian hospital is sheer arrogance; visitors do not get beyond the reception if one does not want them.
In January 2009 the Prime Minister underwent a well-publicized heart surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences; Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar announced he was going to undergo jaw surgery for cancer some years ago. With India having some of the best oncologists in both private and public hospitals, the true reasons for Ms Gandhi opting to go abroad, and the nature of her illness, should be made known as soon as possible. Reports that she was operated upon at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center need to be confirmed or denied without further ado.
To begin with, there was simply too much secrecy. At first, on 31 July a small news item in a newspaper said Sonia was suffering from viral flu and would be back in Parliament on Thursday (4 August). That same day, Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters she had gone abroad the previous day and been operated upon successfully. When the timeline did not add up, this was amended and the operation placed in the future; then finally it was stated that the surgery was successful and that Sonia had left on 2 Aug.
More disturbing are the reports in the latest issue of India Today that the Gandhis habitually refuse to inform the Lok Sabha Secretariat about their foreign trips, though this is the established convention, even for personal visits. Thus, in June this year, Sonia Gandhi went to London and Italy. The same month, Rahul Gandhi celebrated his 41st birthday in London, and both reportedly went to Switzerland – where they reputedly did not visit the holiday district but the commercial centre of Zug, thereby setting tongues wagging amidst a nationwide furore over black money in Swiss banks.
When Dwivedi announced the formation of the uninspiring committee, observers were quick to notice the absence of Home Minister P Chidambaram and Rahul mentor-cum-general secretary Digvijay Singh. As Sonia does not seem to have had detailed discussions with the Prime Minister and senior cabinet colleagues about the status of her health and the issues pending before the government, political observers speculate that the UPA will have to postpone appointment of Governors in states with vacancies, and a decision on the Telangana issue. It remains to be seen, therefore, how long her ill-health can be allowed to paralyze the government.
Ra(h)ul (da) Vinci
Now that the Gandhi family has concertedly declared Rahul Gandhi as their official candidate for the leadership of the party and government, both of which they tend to regard as watan jagir, it would be appropriate for the nation to know everything it has a right to know about the Amethi MP cum wannabe PM.
To begin with – and the Prime Minister would do well to make the matter public without further delay – how and when did Rahul Gandhi acquire the identity of Raul Vinci?
As friendly journalists and newspapers were asked to acknowledge and dismiss the news that Rahul Gandhi has travelled abroad on a passport issued in the name of Raul Vinci, some questions deserve an answer: –
– Which Government issued the Raul Vinci passport? India or Italy?
– If it was Italy, does it also follow that Rahul Gandhi enjoys Italian citizenship by virtue of an old Roman law that bestows citizenship on the offspring of all children born to its native citizens? Note that Sonia Gandhi was an Italian citizen at the time her two children were born, and that the family has persistently refused to answer pertinent questions regarding their citizenship.
– The Government of India must now settle this issue in public – including the legality of the trio holding Indian passports, and contesting Indian elections.
– What are the names of the alleged parents of Raul Vinci in the fake passport and what is the place of residence given on that document? It should be made public on a Government website.
– Where is that passport now and how often and where has Rahul Gandhi travelled on it? All details should be made public on a Government website.
The specious plea that Rahul Gandhi assumed a false identity for security reasons will not wash: Benazir Bhutto’s son Bilawal studies abroad under his own name, as do the scions of other eminent families.
Then, Rahul Gandhi supposedly holds an M. Phil degree in Development Studies from Cambridge University, UK, though there is no information about when and where he completed graduate and post-graduate studies. To this day not a single person has surfaced anywhere in the world to say that Raul Vinci (his disguise) was his/her classmate at x y or z college.
Family acolyte and then Cambridge Master Amartya Sen defended the degree but refused to furnish details. Now, following revelations about the purchased Ph.D. degree of Saif Gaddafi, it seems that London routinely “takes care of” the academic credentials of political scions in the third world.
Raul Vinci is also supposed to have worked as financial consultant in London. No colleague has stepped forward to say where.
Yet this man wants to impose himself upon the nation as Prime Minister. He needs to be downsized.
And Sonia Gandhi, appropriately dubbed ‘the Sphinx’ for her dogged silence on all issues of public concern, would have realized that she was not born to be Pharaoh of India. This country is governed by the invisible ethos of Vikramaditya – the throne will move away when the utterly unworthy approach it.
The author is Editor, www.vijayvaani.com http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1909