Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Snippets/ Mail Today, March 22, 2010

Gadkari loses fight at start of innings
THERE is something rotten in the BJP and it has taken barely three months for Nitin Gadkari to show that he is not the man for the clean- up job. This is the only conclusion I can draw from his exercise last week to recast the BJP’s team of office- bearers.

The party’s youngest ever president evidently thinks that the road to Raisina Hill starts at Nagpur. Of the 200 named to help him revive a demoralised and demolished party, over 75 are from the RSS stable. Thirty per cent are either Brahmins like him or from Maharashtra. Add a dash of Bollywood retirees and you have a prescription for self- destruction.

As its president, Gadkari was supposed to lead the BJP from the front but he has chosen to be led by the same set of losers. He was expected to present to his kartas and karyakartas a basket of ideas and an ideology that would revive its right- wing national agenda. While the Congress confidently looks forward to a future under Rahul Gandhi and his brand ambassadors, Gadkari fell back on poor cousin Varun and the likes of Smriti Irani. Gadkari’s team reflects the extent of the rot.

Two successive electoral reverses don’t seem to have taught any lessons and he has chosen to depend on the same set of televangelists who have never fought elections or have a record of only losing and are themselves responsible for the party’s defeat. It’s an oligarchy that’s in place consisting of about 20 leaders who are more bothered about securing their own future than the party’s. If the party is in power, they make sure they are ministers; out of power, they become office- bearers.

Gadkari was supposed to be the talent scout who would discover the Vajpayees, Advanis, Modis, Shekhawats, Mahajans and Uma Bharatis of the future. A second- rung leader himself, Gadkari would have justified his elevation had he done so. Instead, he has fallen back on those a rung below him.
Bachchan hit by Yechury’s political correctness
A MAN is known by the company he keeps. By that logic, Sitaram Yechury, who relishes the company of Amar Singh who, in turn, is “ like family” to Amitabh Bachchan, should be good pals with the Bollywood superstar. But perish the thought. The former Jawaharlal Nehru University ( JNU) activist, who was among CPM’s first campus recruits in the politburo admits he is a fan of Bachchan but does not want him to be the brand ambassador for the Marxist- ruled state of Kerala. Why? Because Bollywood’s Badshah is also the brand ambassador for Narendra Modi’s Gujarat. Queer logic, right? Read on. Evidently, after Bachchan professed his love for Kerala and Keralites, the state tourism minister wrote to him requesting him to be the department’s brand ambassador. Enough to make Yechury see red. He reckons that any association with a man who sees Modi as an icon would cost the CPM- led alliance dearly in terms of minority votes in the assembly elections next year.

Bachchan is an icon in Kerala as he is anywhere else in the country or abroad and the votes of the literate people of the state are not likely to be swayed either way by star endorsements. Last year, the CPM expelled one of its MPs, Abdullah Kutty, after he praised Modi’s industrial policies. Kutty joined the Congress and won the last Lok Sabha election from a predominantly Muslim constituency thumping a former Marxist partymate.

When L. K. Advani’s book My Country My Life was released in Kerala last year, the chief guest was Kerala’s top film star Mammootty, aka Mohammed Kutty. Yechury’s assessment of minority votes is an insult to the community’s collective intelligence. And it’s laughable when you consider that the only popular election that Yechury himself contested was more than three decades ago while a student at JNU. It is such absurd calculations that make even many CPM leaders say the party’s future is behind it.

RAJ Thackeray, eat your heart out. Take a leaf from the original architect of regional politics and learn how to be a better Indian. Last week, Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi won the hearts of Biharis by hosting a mass thanksgiving lunch for construction labourers who built the new Tamil Nadu Assembly building in Chennai. His decision to acknowledge the efforts of thousands of migrant workers from Bihar has earned praise from friend and foe alike. The newly appointed Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad as well as arch foe Lalu Prasad lauded the 86- year- old DMK patriarch.

Even the normally reticent Jayalaithaa is said to have confided to an aide that the Kalaignar has killed all enemies with a single stone. For years now, unskilled workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have migrated to Tamil Nadu in search of a living and many found work in the construction sector where strict working and living conditions have ensured that their lives now are better than the ones they left behind.

Karunanidhi was among those at the forefront of the anti- Hindi agitation that gave rise to the Dravidian parties and is to a large extent responsible for the Congress being out of power in the state for more than four decades. The paper tiger cubs of Mumbai should draw some lessons from the magnanimity and large- heartedness of the DMK boss.

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