Tuesday, February 24, 2004

What happens when Dawood joins BJP

NEW DELHI: Dawood Ibrahim, the don of Mumbai now living in Karachi, has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. A statement from his Company said he was a different man now and the BJP was the party with a difference. Hence the choice. The BJP has said that the new and improved Ibrahim was welcome to the fold.

Mr Ibrahim joined the party after paying the Rs-5 membership fee to party president Venkaiah Naidu. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee however did not attend the function. He did not comment on the issue saying he would not take names of individuals. He has repeatedly said criminals have no place in politics. " We are of the view that criminals should not be allowed to enter politics. I do not want to dwell on individual names," the Prime Minister said.

Mr Ibrahim, who has been accused of the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, has not spoken to the media but his colleagues say he would be very pleased to serve his own country, rather than serving its neighbour.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani declined to comment on the admission of the controversial don into the party saying that whatever Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has said "without taking anybody's name is correct".

But the BJP has sought to defend Mr Ibrahim's induction saying everybody was welcome to the party.

"The BJP is an ocean and all kinds of rivers flow into it but these do not affect the ocean's cleanliness," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said.

"Every one knows about the ideology of the party and if they want to join knowing what BJP stands for, they are welcome," senior BJP leader Swaraj said.

Mr Ibrahim's spokesperson said the former don does not only know what BJP stands for but can also spell it correctly: BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY.

Party spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "Keechad mein kamal khilta hai (Lotus blooms in the midst of filth). And we will not let the lotus wilt for the lack of it. What's wrong in getting some filth till the lotus shines." Lotus is BJP's election symbol.

Party President Venkaiah Naidu sought to allay fears about the don dictating terms in the party. "Dawood joined the BJP as a member. He has not been given any party post or assured of party ticket in the Lok Sabha elections," Naidu told reporters here.

But the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) are not happy with the BJP's decision to induct the dreaded criminal.

But BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan refuted the allegations levelled against the party. "Who says he is a criminal. He has not been convicted. As far as we are concerned he is not a criminal."

"This will harm in the long run," RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said. RSS is the party's ethical and moral guide and oral philosopher.

However sources in the Sangh Parivar said there was enough mud in the Parivar to help the lotus bloom and asked all the Parivar members to stop wasting mud in mud-slinging. "Had they not wasted all that, BJP did not need to import it."

VHP's Ashok Singhal said the BJP must not drop the Ram temple issue from its agenda. Nothing else matters.

(A small part of the report is fictional like the Karachi don joining the BJP. But most part of the story including the reactions are true.)

Monday, February 23, 2004

Don joins BJP. What's There?

It's an ocean. All rivers flow into it.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Come into my state, madam!

Bihar chief minister’s husband Laloo Prasad Yadav wants Sonia Gandhi to contest from Bihar. Mrs Gandhi earlier wanted to contest from Bologna but it could not be found on the map.

Orissa Congress leader J.B. Patnaik said ‘madam’ must have meant Bolangir. He said the people of Orissa would love it if she contested from that poor place in the poor state.

This apparently triggered the proposal from the Bihar leader who said, “If she wants to contest from a poor seat in the east, she must contest from Bihar, which is no less poor than Orissa and is in the east. Patna is shorter and sweeter than Patnaik.”

Yadav has offered her more than just a seat. “If she wants our election symbol, we would be happier. Not many people can identify the hand symbol in this state but everybody in Bihar knows what a lantern is. That’s the only source of light, if you leave the sun out. I have not given electricity to the people of the state not for nothing.”

Chief Minister Rabri Devi said she would not comment on the issue before she talks to her husband about her possible comment.

Meanwhile, people of Amethi, the seat Mrs Gandhi represents now, have begun celebrations in anticipation that Priyanka Gandhi may contest from the seat. “Even if Priyanka’s brother stands from here, he will win. We have always voted for the family.”

The erstwhile royal of Amethi, Raja Sanjay Singh, has also assured Mrs Gandhi that he would let Priyanka or Rahul win from the seat. He said even his wife Ameeta, the erstwhile wife of late badminton player Syed Modi, would campaign for the BJP. Ameeta has quit the Bharatiya Janata Party. Modi was murdered outside K.P. Singh Stadium in Lucknow long time ago, when Ameeta was a munhboli behen of Sanjay Singh.

Meanwhile, Election Commission officials have found Bologna on the map, the world map, inside Italy.

Fear the Election Fever

Election fever is catching on and I’m scared to meet the few non-journalists friends I have. Non-journalists think you know everything. I dread going to the journalists ones too. Journalists think you know nothing. Both, I can assure you, are awful vibes.

Scene at a non-journo (NJ) party.

NJ1: So Kamlesh, who’s winning this time?
ME: I don’t know. Let us see how it goes. Abhi to election dates bhi announce nahin huye (We don’t even have the election dates yet).

NJ2 to NJ1: He must be knowing. These guys are insiders. (then addressing me) Will Vajpayeeji’s India Shining work? I think it’s a great idea to start the campaign on a positive note. What do you think?
ME: Oh yes. Positive is good. But it’s too early to talk about the results.

Mrs NJ3: I heard Sonia reads out her speeches from a paper written by somebody else in Roman script. How can we have a PM who doesn’t know the national language?
ME: Ummm… yeah! You are right… er.. wrong. I don’t know actually.
Mrs NJ3: Don’t tell me you don’t know her. You must be talking to her every day. Don’t worry I won’t tell any one about your connection.

Aren’t just three of them enough to make you feel unwell and excuse yourself out of the place?

The all-journalists party is no less tiresome.

J1: I think this India Shining campaign is brilliant. For the first time a government has taken the positive agenda. Not garibi hatao was negative. Amiri badhao is positive.

ME: There is… (interruption by J2)

J2: But don’t be fooled by the slogans. It’s the agenda that makes all the difference. And Hindutva is the real agenda, my friend.

ME: India…. (interruption by J3)

J3: It’s not too late for Sonia to go for the jugular. And mind you she is coming around.

ME: Sh…. (interruption by J1)

J1: Oh come on! She has no chance in hell. I was talking to Amar Singh the other day and what I could gather was that Samajwadi Party is not giving her any in UP… and when you don’t have UP… (Interrupted by J3)

J3: … you don’t have Lok Sabha.

J2: Agreed UP is the key boss. No UP, no PM.

ME: I think…

I give up.

P.S. It’s Election Time in US too and Democrat John Kerry is the rising son. Job loss has become a big issue and now even President George Bush is saying he could back the ban on outsourcing jobs to India. So what changed him? Fear of losing his job to some politician in Bangalore?

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Thank God for TNB

Students in parts of Bihar are demanding the right to cheat. In Sasaram today, they ransacked a college and set on fire government property and fought pitched battles with the police, who were forced to open fire. One person died.

Well, the students have been demanding what they feel is rightfully theirs. The generation, appearing for the secondary and intermediate exams, has grown up in a state where cheating in exams was elevated to the status of a fundamental right. That’s the difference Laloo Prasad Yadav brought into Bihar.

I have written quite a few exams in Bihar both before Laloo and in his initial days, when the cheating-is-right was a small disease affecting pockets of the state but not all of it.

I knew that many guys in those pockets would score more than I would. But I had to work hard to do well because I was in a better college with a tradition.

All of us students at T.N.B. College, Bhagalpur, used to think we were deprived of a right, students of some colleges in the city could exercise. In smaller towns and rural areas, the freedom was complete.

It was much later that we TNB guys realised we weren’t the deprived ones. The truth was that the so-called rightful privileged ones were not so privileged. They were deprived of education, classes and facilities.

I saw some of those colleges later. Some were housed in buildings smaller than the political science wing at TNB. Most didn’t have lawns the size of 10 football fields, the ones we were used to.

Their labs and teachers were both unequipped. Most of them had become teachers in private colleges because they were unemployed even after getting their masters degree, if not good-for-nothing. The colleges were regularised.
They started getting salary. Life became easy.

It was easier to let the pupil copy for one week every year than teach them for 51 weeks. Most didn’t have any commitment to the profession, because most didn’t want to become a teacher. The colleges didn’t have a reputation to live up to.

Laloo, the new messiah of social justice, brought about a great new social leveller. He couldn’t give everyone education. But every one had a degree. Thank God, not all of them are equal. Bihar still has colleges like TNB and you can’t count them on fingers.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Now Playing: Poll, Pardon and The King

Polling kab hai? Kab hai polling?The 13th Lok Sabha is over. The 14th must meet before six months. It’s that time of the five-year again, and it’s coming six months before time. The elections may take place any day after April 15. The Congress is racing ahead in its cobble-a-coalition drive. The NDA coalition stands strong on the Feel Good ground. Expect mega fun in the next three months as our politicians get back to the streets begging for votes. It’s time of the common man to feel the force. And may the force be with you. In fact all India is going to talk about for the next six months is elections.

Playing pardon-pardon in Pakistan
The Pakistani cabinet has recommended pardon for Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme. President Pervez Musharraf is going to pardon him. In return, Khan has already pardoned Musharraf by absolving him of any role in nuclear proliferation. After it became clear that Pakistani nuclear scientists sold nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea right under the Pakistani military’s nose; with the ruler’s knowledge or without. A couple of days ago, Khan’s associates had told some American newspapers that Musharraf was in the know. It had put both the US and President Musharraf, US’ ally in the war on war, in an awkward position. Khan’s apology has eased the situation for now. Though there is talk that Khan was forced to take the blame and apologise on TV, in English so that the Americans could understand, or die!

Lord of the Hollywood Movies
Lord Of The Rings has arrived. The third and final instalment in Peter Jackson’s trilogy, Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the The King (LOTR-ROTK) is showing at a theatre near you. J.R.R. Tolkein’s epic-proportion story has had a great run on celluloid. The last two Rings movies did great business both at box office and award ceremonies. Jackson created Middle Earth on New Zealand’s virgin and heavenly high reaches. The prequel to the trilogy, tentatively titled The Hobbit, may go on the floor soon. But for the moment, what we are talking about is the Rings experience. Many have decided to grab DVDs of the first two movies — The Fellowship of The Ring and The Two Towers —to refresh their memory before they watch ROTK.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Clean Chit Day

The National Democratic Alliance has been Feeling Good for some time. On Wednesday, they started Feeling Clean too.

NDA convener and Union Defence Minister George Fernandes got a clean chit in the defence deals cases, which are being wrongly touted as a clean chit in the Tehelka case.

There has been no clear verdict in the Tehelka case yet. The Phukan Commission was asked, along with the Tehelka scandal, to probe into the defence deals since the year 1991.

George got a clean chit in those deals. But when the country is in election mode, any chit is a hit.

Rajiv Gandhi got a clean chit in the Bofors case. Alas, he is not here to see this day.

A clean chit to Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on pesticides in cola has said that the major colas — made by Pepsi and Coke — did indeed have pesticides as reported by the CSE.

It said the cola companies were lying when they said they follow Euro norms. And that CSE was right in calling cola companies liars.

May the Bofors not be with you!
The godliness of cleanliness rubbed off on the Opposition Congress too, whose president Sonia Gandhi’s late husband got a belated clean chit. The Delhi high court has cleared former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the Rs 64-crore Bofors payoff case.

The late Mr Gandhi is known as the man who sowed the seeds of telecom and IT revolution in India. Successive governments have reaped the harvest, while Gandhi was discredited in his life and even after death. He paid the price of the alleged kickbacks paid to some unknown people by the Swedish company AB Bofors, which sold Bofors field guns to India. The guns have proven their worth and served the India well in the heights of Kargil in 1999.

In defence of the minister
George Fernandes, even his detractors say, is not a corrupt man. He had one of the cleanest socialist slates until he joined the NDA.

But since the journalists of Tehekla said they had paid money to people at Mr Fernandes’ house, Mr Fernandes’ clean khadi attire had dark patches of doubtful integrity. His house, at that time, was literally an open house. Anybody could walk in and walk out at any hour.

But no body believed him. The Opposition parties boycotted him in Parliament. He was not allowed to speak on issues related to his ministry. He suffered and would continue to suffer for these spots are very stubborn. He however must be feeling cleaner as he faces the people in the coming Lok Sabha election.

Run Cola Run!
“The committee are of the view that CSE findings are correct on the presence of pesticide residues in carbonated water in respect of three samples each of 12 brand products of PepsiCo and Coca-Cola analysed by them... (we) would conclude that CSE stands corroborated on its finding pesticide residues in carbonated water,” said the JPC report titled Pesticide Residues In And Safety Standards for Soft Drinks, Fruit Juices and Other Beverages.

The JPC has asked the government to set guidelines for all these products. The makers of these drinks say they don’t mix pesticides in their drinks but it comes from the water.

Their logic is that India has no guidelines for pesticides in water. Drinking water, including the most bottled brands, has pesticides above the permissible limit.

It’s time we have our own rules. And what on earth is a permissible limit of pesticides? Come on. We cannot permit pesticides in our drinks.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Did you say bribe?

Bribe. Mr Jaswant Singh’s pre-poll sop opera is being termed as bribing the public ahead of Lok Sabha Elections, which might be announced one of these days.

Well, I’m not at all concerned with the technicality, constitutionality and ethics of whether presenting an attractive budget by the ruling coalition before the elections. I am not concerned with the abuses Opposition parties hurls at the ruling parties.

But I object to the word: bribe. To take or to give bribe is an offence in Indian law. Should anyone damn the people of India along with the rulers who are bribing? The answer is no.

We are not a nation of morons. We don’t take bribes. We care two hoots about the sops if we think the government has done nothing to better our lives. People will vote out of their will, not because they have been bribed.

And suppose if they do get influenced by the monies the government is showing, it’s better that it is known to one and all. It’s better than the swigs of desi daru parties offer on poll day, it’s better than the death threats voters get on poll day, it’s better than the false promises that are never fulfilled, it’s better than the caste and communal incentives we are dumped with.