Monday, October 29, 2012

It was business as usual ... Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard/ October 28, 2012



It was business as usual, but Gadkari let ambitious foes get a foot in the door


Contrary to the adage, business and politics have never been strange bedfellows in India or any other part of the world. In fact, they always had, and continue to have, a cosy and intimate relationship. Even during the Independence struggle, leading entrepreneurs funded and patronised political leaders. Then, their relationships were confined to the four walls of their courtyards. Like a couple in medieval India, they never played in open grounds and were hardly seen in public.

India and its politics have changed beyond recognition today. It is a matter of pride for both business and political personalities to be seen together, wine and dine together and boast loudly about each other. But this display of camaraderie is costing many leaders their current and future careers. BJP president Nitin Gadkari appears to be the latest victim of politics’ excessive obsession with business. The machinations of corporate conspiracies are casting shadows on Indian politics, as a formidable coalition of political and corporate rivals either try to settle scores with their competitors or capture the decision-making forums in every party.


Gadkari must be ruing the day when he chose to become what he calls a social entrepreneur and “serve the cause of farmers, weavers and other poorer classes” by floating a company or joining a cooperative movement. He would’ve hardly realised that the innovative financial structuring conceived by his chartered accountants for his business venture would endanger his second term as the chief of India’s second largest political party. Nor did Gadkari anticipate that those who privately considered him a culturally crass outsider would leave any opportunity to demolish him before he could consolidate his control over an organisation which is expected to come to power in 2014. Instead of setting his own house and business in order, he fell into a trap of self-promotion by co-opting the same system and individuals who have never allowed any BJP president to succeed. The party’s national leaders have not been able to digest the fact that a small town leader is not only dictating the national agenda, but is also determined to demolish and dismantle the well-entrenched cabal of conspirators who have perpetuated power by stealth, and not by the sweat of hard work.
But Caesar’s wife has to be above suspicion. Unfortunately, Gadkari isn’t. His foes are now exploiting his purported corporate misdemeanours to his disadvantage. They have correctly propagated that the party with a difference can’t have a president who is being probed by various investigative agencies for alleged acts of omission and commission. By opening himself to a probe, Gadkari may have dented the force of the attack on him, but this hasn’t prevented his detractors from amassing more ammunition for more vicious attacks in the future. Gadkari is not in the race for the prime ministership of India. The RSS and other leaders favoured him because they were looking for an individual who would build the party, and not himself. Moreover, they were also convinced that Gadkari would facilitate the anointment of Narendra Modi as the prime minister, in case the Sangh willed it.
Other national leaders with prime ministerial ambitions may oppose such a smooth transition. As the BJP’s youngest party president, age is on Gadkari’s side. But he is seen a potent threat to those who aspire to become the PM. Many party insiders, right or wrong, are of the opinion that, it is those who feel that Gadkari is a formidable roadblock in their way to the top who have targeted him. By mixing his fledgling business empire and political ambitions, Gadkari has made their conspiratorial adventurism a bit easier. Considering the relationship of convenience that some BJP leaders have with the ruling establishment, it is a foregone conclusion that Gadkari will soon be declared guilty on many counts. The only question that remains to be answered is whether the party will brazen it out like the Congress, or dump a person who has been so far seen as a panacea for all the BJP’s ailments.
Gadkari is not the only businessman to follow the well-settled practice of floating dummy companies with dummy directors who sign the minutes of board meetings without even being able to read them. Many of India’s top firms have established thousands of fake companies at home and abroad, with unknown addresses and non-existent individuals. Over 60 per cent of these unlisted companies, which control sensitive sectors that influence public opinion have cooks, drivers, cashiers and washermen as board members. Fortunately, none of them are in politics. Collectively or individually, they either own or exercise remote control over our political system. There is hardly an important social or corporate event in which top business honchos don’t rub shoulders with each other. Earlier, one would rarely find an industrialist accompanying the prime minister or a Cabinet minister on their trips abroad. Now they go as an advance party and even fix highly important meetings with their business partners in various parts of the world.
Such an open partnership may be a necessity for faster economic growth. But if done without checks and balances, it erodes the credibility of those in power. Gadkari ignored these checks and lost his balance only to fall into a political ditch.
prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

"Reshuffle is no diversionary tactic .". Manish Tewari on Teekhi Baat/ October 27, 2012/ IBN7

video

'Reshuffle is no diversionary tactic'


Interview with  Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari for Teekhi Baat on IBN7. 
PC: Why are you looking serious?
MT: Sitting in front of a person, whose works you have read while growing up, you tend to be serious.
PC: May be because of cabinet reshuffle, do you also have a chance?
MT: It has been 31 years that I am serving the party and I am happy with the responsibility it gave me.
PC: What is the philosophy behind the reshuffle? Is it because image of the Congress and the government is taking a hit? The talk of transformation had been on for many days, but when allegations were levelled need for reshuffle was felt.
MT: The change in the cabinet is within the purview of the Prime Minister and the Congress president. There was talk of a reshuffle for many days, which has not happened, but when it happens, only two people will have right information on that, the Prime Minister or Soniaji.
PC: Why now, why was this not done earlier. What is the logic, is it regionalism or a diversionary tactic?
MT: If you look at the past eight years, the Prime Minister and Congress president have reshuffled the council of ministers and cabinet many times. Hence, I think it would not be appropriate to link it to any specific thing, like there is a question mark on the government’s image or future challenges like elections in states, Lok Sabha elections in 18 months.
PC: You would have read history of the Congress, Mrs Gandhi, then Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao did changes 30 times in five-year tenure, and Rajiv Gandhi did 43 times. From the time Manmohan Singh became the PM, changes have been done 12-13 times. Hence, this time there has been more stability. What was the need to do conspiracy now?
MT: How can a reshuffle be a conspiracy?
PC: Because there are allegations being levelled against you? There will be a diversion, there is no Salman Khurshid, Chidambaram saab, Vadra saab, not on front page any more.
MT: The persons against whom things have been said will have to reply to them. And if you see over the past three years, the government and the Congress have answered questions on everything in detail, without running away. I don’t think it is appropriate to say that it is a conspiracy to divert attention. With 18 months left for 2014 election and state election, PM and Sonia Gandhi would have thought the reshuffle is necessary.
PC: You mean the team of 2014 is getting ready.
MT: The organisation also has to be strengthened.
PC: The organisation contests elections; you won’t win them on Manmohan Singh’s name, so you have to build organisation.
MT: I would disagree because of the way the PM has run the country in the past eight years.
PC: There were a lot of scams when Manmohan Singh was Finance Minister from 1991 to 1996. From 2008, there were more; reforms have happened too, but most scams have happened in governments where Singh was there.
MT: What is the yardstick of a scam?
PC: 2G, coal scam, CWG scam, stock market.
MT: As far as 2G is concerned, the CAG said there has been presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore, the court declined to comment on it. In the second decision of the court, they said that auction cannot be...
PC: Your government started enquiry on Nitin Gadkari, but on Robert Vadra, Chidambaram said no enquiry is necessary; Moily said no enquiry is necessary; Haryana government said there is no wrongdoing. The comparison done between Vadra and Gadkari
PC: It will be done.
MT: This comparison is wrong.
PC: Why is it wrong?
MT: Vadra is a private individual doing business. Gadkari is BJP president.
PC: There should be criteria, like Gadkari said probe me, even you should have said the same.
MT: Investigation has been done, the Haryana government and its officers said that stamp duty has been paid on the lands.
PC: Opposition parties ask why corporate affairs ministry did not probe Vadra’s companies like in case of Gadkari’s companies.
MT: Veerappa Moilyji has answered that question.
PC: Moily gave answer before the investigation.
MT: Moilyji said ‘I had received complaints against DLF, we have independently done an investigation and found that there was no truth in those allegations’.
PC: Where Vadra and DLF are involved, nothing came out of the investigation. In Gadkari’s, you may get something.
MT: I don’t think these two things should be compared. We have to wait to see the results of probe against Gadkari. But I want to say one thing, the way in which Opposition parties have been levelling allegations.
PC: Civil society people are levelling allegations.
MT: Even civil society is a ‘B’ team of a BJP faction.
PC: You mean Gadkari is being targeted by internal people in the BJP?
MT: Of course.
PC: Even internal people in Congress attack Vadra.
MT: As far as the BJP is concerned, the whole sequence of events, the baseless allegations levelled by Gujarat CM, allegations are found false. After that, Gadkari expose starts, the letters he wrote for contractors and farmers. Now to divert attention, the BJP’s ‘B’ team is unleashed, because some persons want to come to the Centre from the state, but they find Gadkariji inconvenient.
PC: You mean Modi saab wants to come here?
MT: Civil society
PC: Elections are going to happen in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, whom does the mandate go to? If you lose, is it the responsibility of PM or Sonia?
MT: The reality is that, be it Lok Sabha election, it is fought on local issues.
PC: Now don’t say again on this channel that we won elections under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi.
MT: In the past five years, after any election result when I have gone to any channel, I have said that Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections are becoming increasingly local.
PC: Thank you for coming to our studio.
MT: Thank you, Prabhuji !

Monday, October 22, 2012

Democracy will vanish ... Power & Politics/ The Sunday Standard/ October 21, 2012


Democracy will vanish if bribing voters becomes standard practice




Political parties are meant to be driven by conviction in a democracy. That is all history now. All Indian political parties are now led by convenience. The emphasis is on buying votes rather than winning hearts. In a nation where illiteracy is over 35 per cent, and over 30 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line, leaders are indulging in competitive politics—not to make life better or to remove unemployment, but by offering electronic toys to people, who hardly get electricity for more than four hours a day. In a country where most schools and households are without basic amenities like toilets and water, voters are promised fancy laptops, computers, electronic gadgets, colour TVs and mixer-grinders. Instead of improving their purchasing power, the political leadership is determined to fill the order books of companies. Parties have devised an innovative mechanism to collect money from the poor—impose taxes and inflate government expenditure first, and then return the money in the form of attractive goodies instead of productive goods. Money and material have become much better rewarding tools than missions with a vision.


The Congress party’s election manifesto for Himachal Pradesh, which was released last week, guaranteed more freebies than freedom from corruption and poverty. It assured voters of better governance than the ruling BJP, though. While releasing the party’s road map for the tiny state, the Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles, Anand Sharma, spent more time promising doles than development. Being a hardcore Rajiv Gandhi loyalist, Sharma couldn’t think of a better name for a freebie scheme than one named after his late mentor. Sharma declared that if voted to power, the Congress would launch the Rajiv Gandhi Digital Student Yojana, under which 10,000 students who perform exceptionally well in the board examinations of Class X and XII will be given free laptops. He also promised laptops to students who secure a first class in Class VIII. If that wasn’t enough, he made another commitment—all school- and college-going children would get free passes to attend classes.

National parties like the BJP and the Congress are expected to set the tone and agenda for regional parties by outlining the big picture and their vision for development. But now, the regional satraps and their narrow view of governance lead the national parties. For the past 10 years, most regional parties have won elections only by promising freebies. For example, in 2006, the DMK played a trump card by vowing to give free colour TVs to each family, if voted to power. Over 40 per cent of families live below the poverty line in Tamil Nadu. The DMK won by a massive majority and TV manufacturers minted money; some of them survived the slump, thanks to massive orders for colour TVs from the state government. But the DMK government never thought of providing power or cable connections to the TV viewers. Not to be left behind, in 2011, the AIADMK promised grinders or mixers to all families, and it won at the hustings.

The art of winning elections through gifts, and not performance, travelled fast to the north. More recently, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Akali Dal took a leaf out of the Dravidian model. The SP even went a step further. Without bothering to work out the costs of its munificence—before the Uttar Pradesh polls—SP announced free tablets to all students who passed Class X and laptops to all those who passed Class XII. It also promised an unemployment allowance to anyone above 35 years of age. The Akali Dal’s freebies were even more attractive—laptops with data cards to all Class XII students and free education up to graduation level to all girls, and free bicycles to girls studying in Class IX and X. In 2005, Lalu Prasad Yadav had made an attempt to defeat his arch rival Nitish Kumar by announcing that his government would deposit `10,000 in the bank account of every girl belonging to a BPL family as against `2,000 promised by Nitish. But Lalu lost because Nitish’s bouquet of freebies was a better model of social engineering.

The growing tendency to resort to populism and profligacy at the cost of better governance has already demolished well-defined models of holistic economic development. The Congress which didn’t raise an eyelid while raising diesel prices and limiting the number of LPG gas cylinders to just six a year is now leading the pack with the worst kind of allurements to retain its fast-eroding electoral base. On one hand, the Prime Minister and various Congress leaders are pleading for harsh measures to contain the deficit. On the other, its local leaders are devising newer ways to empty the government’s coffers. Even most BJP chief ministers are offering schemes to hand out cash to voters than job opportunities. For the ruling political establishment, it makes good economics and better politics to make both the corporates and the poor dependent on the state for survival. Elections won by using state money and not a development mission pose a greater threat to Indian democracy than the caste and communal divide.

prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com;  Follow me  on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Monday, October 15, 2012

RTI Must Grow ... Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard/October 14,2012


RTI must grow to cover parties and India Inc, not retreat in the name of privacy




Information is power. Explosive information is lethal. News is what someone somewhere wants to hide. Everything else is publicity. With the public and the media digging more and publicising less, the ruling establishment is finding it extremely difficult to put the genie back into the bottle. The UPA, which sired the innovative Right to Information Act, is now rueing the day when it faithfully accepted the idea floated by its leader Sonia Gandhi. For the past few months, RTI has caused more agony to the government than the frequent parliamentary disruptions by the entire Opposition. As RTI completes seven years of its existence, the government seems to be in a hurry to chop its feet off before it starts running after information. The Prime Minister himself set the tone for the dilution of RTI when he pleaded for its review in his address to vigilance officials drawn from all over the country. He struck at the very foundation of the RTI Act when he said, “There are concerns about frivolous and vexatious use of the Act in demanding information the disclosure of which cannot possibly serve any public purpose.”


The Prime Minister hinting at curbing the scope of the RTI Act is bemusing. In an environment of confrontation between the government and civil society, the hunger for information is growing. While Manmohan Singh did suggest the inclusion of the corporate sector in the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), he refrained from making any commitment for its inclusion in RTI. If the growing list of scams is any indication, it would be prudent for the government to expand RTI’s scope to include not only all government agencies but also public-funded NGOs, trusts and educational institutions, sports bodies, political parties, media organisations and listed and unlisted corporate houses which receive funds from public sector banks. In spite of the massive hike in financial allocations to development schemes and the infrastructure sector, the actual delivery on the ground is almost negligible. Of late, a new concept of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model has been developed by those who want to avoid public scrutiny of their projects. Under this model, the government provides massive amounts of money and even land to private individuals to construct roads, hospitals, airports and toll roads. These projects are built and operated by private entities over which government has no control. Most toll roads are symbols of massive corruption and mismanagement, but they have been kept out of the ambit of the RTI Act. The petroleum ministry is engaged in a running battle with Reliance Industries over the Comptroller & Auditor General of India’s scrutiny of capital expenditure incurred by the company on gas exploration. Similarly, various road projects and airport expansion plans are facing charges of financial irregularities. But they refuse to be audited by the CAG. Manmohan struck the right chord when he pointed out that big-ticket corruption was mostly related to operations by large commercial entities. He concluded, “It is, therefore, also proposed to include corporate failure to prevent bribery as a new offence on the supply side. We are also examining how the Act can be amended to protect honest public servants more effectively.” The Prime Minister hit where it hurts the most—the top leadership admitting that the India’s high economic growth may have contributed to the rise in graft cases and crony capitalism.

However, only a legislative measure may not be enough. Since political donations are the biggest source of influencing government policies, all political parties should be brought under the RTI Act. All of them put together collect over `1,000 crore officially, but the donors’ names are only known to a few leaders in each party. Surprisingly, no party has supported the idea of making it mandatory for all political outfits to make full disclosures about the sources of their income. According to conservative estimates, all the registered national and regional parties spend over `10,000 crore on contesting elections. The most effective method of controlling corruption is to make it compulsory for all political leaders to declare their incomes, the list of donors for their campaigns and the assets of their dependents and independent children. All political parties have stonewalled the efforts of RTI activists to collect information on the use of private aircraft by leaders—for both domestic and international travel. According to aviation industry sources, politicians consume over 50 per cent of the flying hours of 300 privately owned aircraft and helicopters. For new age political leaders, it is air, not ground, contact with their voters, which is the most effective way of seeking a public mandate. Since they don’t foot the bills themselves, it doesn’t cost them money or subject them to the physical torture of arduous journeys along India’s potholed roads. Besides, most of the big companies spend huge amounts of money in the name of business development and corporate relations to influence opinion and decision makers. But no amount of allurements, threats, coercive and administrative means and methods can now tame the growing appetite of the people—not for food and fun—but for information.

prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Teekhi Baat with Amar Singh/ IBN7/ October 13, 2012



Interview with  the ace player of Indian politics, and a product of his times, Amar Singh for Teekhi Baat on IBN 7

                                                                                    
video                                                                                                                               PC: These days you ‘play’ has stopped

AS: Play

PC: Political play

AS: (Chance, convention, policy,) Politics happens when a lot of factors come into play. 

PC: The other day talking about the times of yore, about people without whom you and that person (Amitabh Bachchan and other friends of Amar Singh), both were incomplete, you recited a saying, “ aisi yeh pyar ki arzoo…”
AS:  I could not go, he could not invite me, the distance of love between us could not be erased. (Indicating to him being not invited for Amitabh Bachchan’s 70th  birthday celebrations) 

PC: You said, distance of love, which means love exists?

AS: The feeling of relation becomes less, but deep relations don’t die. When I was undergoing a kidney transplant, the times he spent with me till 3 am in the morning. There are some sweet, and some bitter thoughts.

PC: He used to sit with his laptop there (in the hospital)    
                  
AS: You are talking about Amitabh Bachchanji. I congratulate him on his past birthdays.  The whole country is worried about why he did not invite me.

PC: People are not talking about the other 1000 people who came for the party, only thing that is being talked about is why Amar Singh did not come

AS: I have said, I could not go, he could not call me, the distance of love between us could not be erased. But It does not mean that love has finished. He never says that I am not his friend, neither do I say anything like that.

PC: He has always praised you, he agreed that you stood with him during bad times.

AS: There is no bigger lie than this, because I believed Shri. Amitabh Bachchan was my elder brother.

PC: He said that you did not leave him during his bad times

AS: There is no bigger lie than this, because he and me were not different. Hence, he never asked for help from me, neither did I help him. His problem was mine, the tears of his eyes were mine. Hence, I have not eased his pain, but mine, and hence got happiness, Hence to say that I helped him. 

PC: You stood with him

AS: I stood with myself. Who cries for anybody else, everybody cries for what he himself does. Sometimes one cries thinking about oneself or the condition one is in. When instances are recollected, one feels like crying at every instance.

PC: If you feel like crying at every instance, then so many instances can be recollected about your friendship, history, politics, how many times would you cry, there should be no instance where a man like Amar Singh should cry

AS: A man does not cry only when he sheds tears, the one who can cry with tears in eyes is blessed. The one’s whose heart cries, the crying of the heart, is the real one.

PC: Many time you must be feeling, “Dost Dost Na raha, pyar pyar na raha, zindagi hume tera, aitbaar na raha”

AS: Not at all, I have reverence for Kali Mata mandir of Dakshineshwar, there Swami Parmahansa used to meditate. At the same place where he meditated under the sunlight, scorpions used to come, he used to pick the scorpions and keep them under the tree, in shade, so that they do not have to bear the hot sun. But till that time that he used to pick and keep them, the scorpions used to sting him. One day Vivekanandji asked, Guruvar, why do you do this when you know that the scorpions will sting, he said, Vivekanand, their job is to sting, my job is to save them from the scorching sunlight. Hence, people do their own works. Amitabh Bachahanji in his tweet has written, that he difference between a man and a dog is that if a dog is fed, he wags his tail, and loves, and a man, stabs the one from whom he gets prosperity and love. 

PC: Hence, you have this experience too

AS: No, I am not saying anything

PC: But in the context that you are saying.

AS: I am telling in no context. I am just telling what Bachchan saab has written in his tweet.

PC: You talked about humanity, not about a specific person

AS: Why don’t you mind in the world where all wrong things are going on, talk of being faithful should not be done. These qualities are made for a different world. 

PC: There is nothing such as faithfulness today in India, politics, it use is only in name

AS: It is not today’s thing, our forefathers have said thousands of years ago, “ Neki kar aur dariya mein daal”. We just read these sayings in books and keep in mind, and till we don’t face reality we don’t realize it, which is our fault.

PC: Amar Singh was an is a brand in politics, and a rare species. In don’t think there is any other person who has a say in the corporate world, politics, film stars and glamour world, a place in the fashion parade, which means, wherever something happens, Amar Singh has a presence. Be it mentally, ideologically, but now when you are not there, what do you when you have no say in the politics which is happening?
AS: See, from 1996 November, till the time in 2009 when went for my kidney treatment, for 14 years, I did not realize when sun rose in the morning and set in the night, when my daughters Dristi and Disha were born, when did they put forward their first step to walk, when for the first time they spoke. And with shame, let me till you, till 2009, I did not know in what class and how they were studying. Now I know that Disha is a topper her class in Vasant Valley school, she studies in 5th B, Dristi is not as bright as Disha, but she is doing better than before.  A gardener should see and observe how a plant turns into a tree; I have been deprived of that. And that satisfaction is inexplicable. Because life has taught, in good and bad time, your supposed friends, and supposed family’s brother and people, will be with you very superficially. And, in the end, your own family, your own blood, your own kin would be with you. Hence, what I saw in the work and ups and downs of life, that even though young, my 11.5 year old daughters were with me, my wife Pankaja, who I ignored so much that I celebrated Holi and Diwali with friends, not with family. And those with whom I celebrated Holi and Diwali, they merely were doing formality. They just paid lip service. Like in our country, saying sorry, or thank you, or welcome are mere formal words. And one must be very fortunate, which I think I am, to have a person who is with you with total devotion and trust. Through your show, I would specially like to thank Jaya Pradaji. That in addition to my wife and two daughters, Jaya Pradaji, T.N Chaturvedi, who is taking treatment for cancer, and I would have done good work for too many people, and it is most surprising that Anil Ambani, who was with me through the morning, evening and night, did not even call me. Mukesh Ambani called my wife, and his people kept on coming and meeting my wife many times, that too when in the fight between Anil and Mukesh, I open opposed Mukesh Ambani.

PC: You are speaking of the times when you went to Jail

AS: Yes, I am speaking of that time.

PC: Anil had come one time

AS: Not even one time

PC: Amitji had come one time

AS: Amitji came to hospital when, when I had secured interim bail, and there was a function of Sangeet Kala Academy in Delhi, he had come to participate in that programme, and he left me indebted by putting his lotus feet in my hospital room. But he is a very correct man, does not wrong, that time I was not in jail, I had secured bail.

PC: You said that you neglected family, neglected your daughters, did not know when they grew up, you would feel regret that you spent time with people who left you standard when the days turned cloudy
AS: Who will Regret, Siddharth Shankar Ray, based on whose advice Indiraji imposed emergency, Indira Gandhi used to call her saying Nanu and he used to call her saying Indu, I have read the letters. During Sanjay and Maneka’s love affair, she wrote a letter in her capacity as the Prime Minister. She extended the parliaments time from five to six years. That same Siddharth Shankar Ray went to record her statement in the Shah commission.

PC: You have saved and made many governments, revived film stars, do you have any regret, you are human being, you would get angry

AS: I am angry with one person, Mulayam Singhji. And I did not contest elections to win, but to erase the poison of anger within me. Now I don’t have any anger towards Mulayam Singhji. I feel sorrow, because I did not do politics with Mulayam Singhji in Samajwadi Party, I did not work from the brain but from the heart. That I why know why I got angry. Because, politics is not done from the heart anytime, if I remember I can tell in my 14 years with Mulayam Singhji gave me the stage, I had capacity and he did the job of identifying that capacity, and today am a member of parliament, it is because of him.

PC: For whatever you are in politics today, Mulayam Singh had a big contribution towards that.

AS: I agree, he gave me a stage. If Prakash Mehra would not have existed, then one would not have known Amitabh Bachchan, Dev Anand was to be a part of Zanjeer, hence Prakash Mehra should not be forgotten. In the same manner Akshay Kumar, was with Pramod Chakravarthy, till the time of his death. Like even today, Dharmendra stands by Arjun Hongorani for Dil Bhee Tera, Hum Bhee tere. And hence If I forget the contribution of Mulayam Singhij, then there is no bad person like me.  But It does not me that am appealing to be part of Samajwadi party.

PC: You say Mulayam Singhji gave you a platform, I don’t know the your impression with other members of his family, because I have not had a word with them. But many times it seems, that blood is thicker than water. Was there any fight due to the impression that you would prevail on the Mulayam due to your work and the family would split

AS: No no, nothing like this happens. Somewhere,  my attitude is at fault too. As a Kshatriya, I am also rigid. There was no “ jee hujur” in my attitude, otherwise I was not at fault. If I would have prayed before Ram Gopal Yadav, like OM Jai Jagdish, and more than that if I would have been visiting the Rajendra Prasad road bungalow of late Gnyaneshwar Mishra  and touch his feet. Then while I was ill, a view that was formed at his residence would not have been formed. 

PC: Akhilesh came

AS: All of them came, In the parliamentary board meeting, I supported computer and English, while late Gnyaneshwarjee opposed it.

PC: They said you made Samajwadi corporate

AS: Now I am not in Samajwadi party, and for what I was blamed, both Anil Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan are with Samajwadi Party. Anil Ambani is seen with Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav. And even Bachchan is seen with them. But the question is when they are seen with Amar Singh, the Mohan Singh will say that he has destroyed the culture, remove him. If Shahid Siddiqui, takes interview of Narendra Modi as a journalist, he is removed. But Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav will have food together with Uddhav Thackeray, and Jaya Bachchan will say that my husband of Narendra Modi, and Uddhav Thackeray is a member of our family, and Bal Thackeray is our father, but nobody would have the guts to remove her because she has Bachchan tag and Shahid Siddiqui is a poor journalist.

PC: You don’t have the Bachchan tag, but what you did for the party and others, that even Bal Thackeray can’t do. You were the one to source the files when Chandrashekhar was Prime Minister. You got Bhure Lal transferred.

AS: At Anil Ambani’s house, my friendship with Amitabh Bachchan broke on his initiation. When he said over meals, I am capable, you too are capable, let us both live our own lives. The next day, I wrote to him in a letter that on principle, I would not be weak would not seem weak. That is why  as a matter of principle, I would not answer your questions.

PC: Which means you don’t want to speak the truth

AS: Sometimes silence is heavier than truth

PC: You have been in corporate world, you have seen the corporate- political nexus, many times have been a part of it, what do you feel, with so many cases of corruption coming to the fore these days, till you were there, such issues never came forward. Do you think these things used to happen

AS: Let me tell you one thing, Prabhuji, when Morarji Desai was old and missing from politics for a long time, who used to look after him, Kanti Desai was the one, then nobody said why Kanti Desai is with Morarji, but when he became Prime Minister, everybody said “ Gali Gali mein shor hain, Kanti Desai chor hain”. My friend Ranjan Bhattacharya is looking after Atalji these days, nobody goes, not even people from the Bharatiya Janta Party. And big BJP people were targeting him one time. Yeshwant Sinha’s was the country’s finance minister and a daughter in law in her family, worked in her financial institution, it was said that she was the beneficiary of India- Mauritious Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty. I stood up and supported her daughter in law, and I want to thank Yeshwantbhai Sinha that he was mentioned me in his autobiography.

Now, you are behind Kanti Desai. I remember, the idea to make a small car did not come from Tata, Ratan Tata’s Nano, it was Sanjay Gandhi who thought that a small car Maruti should be made, who takes Sanjay Gandhi’s name? You take Bhargav’s name, Suzuki’s name, but the Sanjay Gandhi who dreamt about it, then prominent people including politicians said, “ Maa bekar banati hain, beta car banata hain” When she lost elections, they said, “ Yeh Maruti nahee hain, Sanjay Gandhi ne maa ko roti kar diya” But today Maruti is running really well, Sanjay Gandhi’s dream has come true. But who pays their respects to Sanjay Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi’s friends, Sanjay Gandhi was Indira Gandhi’s son, FriendS of Kanti Desai, he was son of Morarji Desai, Who is Ranjan Bhattacahrya’s friend, he is son in law of Atalji, Robert Vadhera’s friends, he is son in law of Sonia Gandhi. DLF, is it an organisation that was formed today, it has made full Delhi, I know both KP Singh and Singh, I know both father – son, it is a private company. The ‘kajri’ that Arvind Kejriwal is singing with ‘gajra’ in hand,  Arvind Kejriwal, are you a shareholder of DLF ? Let the board of directors of the company raise objection or the shareholders, if there is an opposition in the AGM it is understandable, “ Mian Biwi razi to kya karega Qazi”

I am telling clearly as I am a businessman, inter corporate deposits, corporate loans with or without security, let it be any entrepreneur let it be Sonia Gandhi’s son in law or Atal Behari Vajyapee’s son in law, or Yeshwant Sinha’s daughter in law, let it be anybody, you son or my daughters, if any big person gives loan to anybody, and it is his personal company. Today I have got inputs that when DLF did big business, at that time NDA and Chautalaji were running the centre and the state governments. Does that mean Chautalaji is a theif? Even Chautalaji is my friend. Who will work in the field of housing except for HDFC and DLF? These are big housing sector companies.

PC: You feel there is no corporate-political corruption, whatever is being printed in the newspapers, the questions raised by Kejriwal, Anna Hazare. Even you have been a part of this, it was said that you too helped corporate people.

AS: I will do it again, if I want to set up sugar mill in Uttar Pradesh, I will catch hold of Sugar producer, Balrampur chini, Bajaj Hindustan, if I want to set up refinery, I will catch hold of Mukesh Ambani,

PC: You mean to say that there is no corporate corruption, what all is being said these days

AS: Arvind Kejriwal, who is dreaming of becoming the chief minister of Delhi, he will do tokenism by wearing torn clothes and travelling in a tempo. But ask Kejriwal, you talk of corruption, India Against Corruption, then at Civil Lines in Allahabad, how did Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan get property worth crores for Rs. 2 lakh. My tape, which Sabaharwal saab banned, he asked to open that tape, and when his tape started, I don’t know what is cut paste in that, but Shanti Bhushan says in the tape, “ Prashant Bhushan, my son, manages well in Rs. two crore,” is a PIL specialist. What do you think gentleman, “ Aap kare to Raas Leela, dusra kare to character dheela”

PC: But he has credibility, today when he says, people believe him more,

AS: Not at all, credibility is of the person who abuses big people.

PC: Do you think they are doing this to abuse big people

AS: When I was in Samajwadi Party, as a spokesperson, that time my leadership use to guide me to attack Congress leadership. Today, why does not any member of the Samajwadi party attack them, let them do it and show? Everyone is quiet. In the morning they give support to Mamta Banerjee, in an hour, then support to Soniaji, everyone dhoti is loose,  “ We will decide in BSP’s rally what to do, after one hour says, I have got rights but support to UPA will continue” (Indicating Mayawati)

PC: What would you have done in today’s condition? You would have saved the government again
AS: The reason for saving the government would have been that today if elections are held, the immediate benefit would be to the BJP, our core voter is Muslim, why should be made our core voter unhappy. That is why in Benares, after pooja of Baba Vishwanath, I said, that Mulayam Singh has set an example of doing good politics by not letting the government fall at this juncture, then people said that Amar Singh is doing “ Chamchagiri”. I am speaking the truth.

Some people said that as Defence minister, Amar Singh did a lot of bungling, I want to tell you, all the committee meeting related to defence, in that Mulayam Singh was not there, and in the end he wrote that the quality and price of the equipment should be verified by our defence advisor Kalam, otherwise nothing should happen.

PC: Mulayam Singh did not take the charge seriously

AS: What are you saying, he went to Siachen and got shoes for jawaans. He made jawaans talk to their family via his phone. And he fought to increase the remuneration of the lowest cadre of employee in the forces. And when the Pakistan problem came to the fore, he woke up Gujaral in the night and spoke to him

PC: This seems like an application that you want to join Samajwadi Party, people will say this once they see

AS: No application has come. There is only one fault, Mulayam Singh does not know English, his articulation is not right, and till about three four years back, there was no difference between what Mulayam Singh said and what he did. Now he is not static on what he says.

PC: Will you go if he calls you again

AS: I have engaged not my brain, but my heart with Mulayam Singhji. But now after going there, I would not be able to engage my heart, hence I will not go.

PC: Even if you are called, you will not go, permanent kutty, if the

AS: There is no permanent kutty. Let god not do it, but if he has health problems, or has any problems, then let me tell, “ Koi jab taumhara hriday tod de, tadap ta hua tumhe chod de, tab tum mere paas aana priye, mera dark hula hain, khula hee rahega, tumhare liye”. Today is Mulayam Singhji time of fun, 227 MLA are there, I am not with him in time of fun, when he was struggling, I was with him for 14 years,

PC: You will not go even if the whole family calls,

AS: How can I go, while going to Singapore I had said, in Kannauj by elections, their party’s Balram Yadav, and Ram Vishwakarma said that Amar Singh helicopter should meet with an accident and he should die, it would be good then. He suspended them for one day, he said Amar Singhji do you feel pained, I told him you don’t give ticket to somebody even if I say, don’t do any work if I request, but there is a request that you and your family don’t insult me and play with my self respect, which Ram Gopalji did, he called me dust bin, shame less, and other names, said that 98 per cent party workers are against me, said that cinema glamour and capitalism is prevailing over me. But now Bachchan’s glamour and Ambani’s capitalism, is around the father – son.

PC: What will be your future politics, you cannot go with BJP, would you go with Congress

AS: In the 20 years of my political career I have seen many ups and downs, that I why I am content.  I am saying on record, I am Rajya Sabha MP for the third time, Jaya Bachchanji wanted to become and hence became RS MP, she did not went to Gorakhpur national executive, did not campaign, did not give her blood for party, said Bal Thackeray is her father, having food with Uddhav Thackeray. The second time she become RS MP, so that I feel pained. But let me tell you one thing, ask Mulayam Singhji, I had opposed me being nominated to the Rajya Sabha for the third time.

PC: What is your politics

AS: My politics is not to make it public, If I get a chance, then I will not leave it. And to get the chance, I will not run behind anybody unnecessarily. 

PC: You are waiting for chance

AS: Certainly, I am waiting for chance. I don’t have a character that I would like.

PC: You are living one hope

AS: I am not living on hope. On the achievements of my past, the contentment of today, and in future something good will happen, am living on these thoughts.

PC: Let’s see what your future would be, we will do Teekhi Baat with you again, when your future is better than the present. Thank you for speaking to us

AS: Thank you, Prabhuji ! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Close Encounter with Naveen Patnaik... Power & Politics/ The Sunday Standard/ October 07, 2012


A close encounter with Naveen Patnaik’s unlimited political wisdom





A reluctant politician, he has transformed dynasty into participative democracy while mauling the Opposition both within and outside. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is a well-groomed aristocrat who guards his privacy well; interviews are a rarity, and he hardly ever meets his party colleagues. He’s a man of letters and a luxurious lifestyle, but abhors the company of his own kind in India Inc. Patnaik is a loner, spending his days in office and evenings in his sprawling residence near Bhubaneswar airport, peacefully working and resting through the regular roar of jet engines.

Patnaik came to the first-ever Odisha LitFest and had to be almost pushed into an impromptu question-and-answer session of a kind he hadn’t bargained for. Author of three books, he answered questions on his life, politics, economics and Odisha with an enigmatic smile. Even the UPA’s sharpest mindreaders find it difficult to outguess Patnaik, a man who doesn’t reveal ambition. Some excerpts from a conversation with Patnaik at the two-day Odisha LitFest organised in Bhubaneswar by The New Indian Express: 

Are you now ideologically closer to the Congress or to anti-Congress forces?
Let me clarify: our party is equidistant from the BJP and Congress.
Which way will you and Jayalalithaa go ? Are you with reforms meant to divert attention, as you say, from the real crisis, or do you think there are reforms that can be supported later?
I can speak for myself and our party. Our concerns are not only for our state but also for the country. The whole aim of our government is pro-people and anti-poverty schemes. And indeed we have made great strides in empowerment to women, both socially and economically.
If the bills are brought to Parliament, will your party support the one on insurance and the others that require parliamentary approval?
I think all this needs a great deal of examination before one can give an appropriate reply.
Do you support Mamata when she says that the Congress should take a vote of confidence on these measures?
I can’t give you a bold reply on that. This kind of decision lies with having taken the opinions of others within the party.
Like Narendra Modi, Patnaik takes pride in looking after his Odias. He is perhaps one of the few chief ministers who has hardly visited either Mumbai or New York in search of invisible investment. He doesn’t even host international investors. The Poscos, Vedantas and Lakshmi Mittals come to the Land of Kalingas to mine gold on their own terms. He gave them local support but did not lobby for them at the Centre. Almost all his big projects have been sabotaged or embroiled in controversy in the power play of New Delhi, yet Patnaik has won three Assembly elections on the trot.
If you had to headline a book on the current India story, what would it be?
The title of any work which I have not done certainly needs a lot of consideration. I think this causes pain to a great deal of writers.
This means your story of India has no title...
I think it will be very difficult for anyone to write the story of India.
Like Modi says he is concentrating on Gujarat, you seem to be concentrating on Odisha. Is that the reason you are not talking of India?
Our first aspiration, being a regional party and party of the state, is Odisha.
Modi, Mamata, Jayalalithaa: all are being spoken of as potential prime ministers. Why not you?
I can speak only for myself. I harbour no such ambition. I am happier to be able to serve Odisha, whether in office or out of it.
I knew your father when he was making and unmaking prime ministers. He was a kingmaker. Do you want to remain the king of Odisha?
I do not think you have kings in democracy. I would be more than happy to be elected to office.
Naveen represents Patnaik Dynasty but he has no visible successor. He doesn’t allow his brother or others to be seen in the corridors of power. Close aides are talking about his nephew Arun as the one to take over in the long run. Unlike his father Biju Patnaik, Naveen does believe in any legacy or mission. His vision is to win elections and he has mastered that art without even speaking to his voters in their own language.
It is very difficult to get anything out of Naveen Patnaik. His cards are very close to his chest, and he will play them at the appropriate time. Do you have a message for the literati?
I must compliment The New Indian Express group for organising this event that has brought together so many of the literary people in the state. We in the government are open to suggestions and improvements in the field of culture and literature and of course to highlight that in the state and outside as much as possible.
prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Modi wants to be Centre ... Ambika Soni on Teekhi Baat / October 06, 2012/ IBN7


video    


Modi wants to be centre of every campaign’




The Congress will win the Gujarat elections, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni says on  Teekhi Baat for  IBN7. Excerpts:

You are smiling, even though it seems that you are very sad these days.
Why sad?
Because of so much of adverse publicity.
It is not a question of adverse publicity. If people want to say anything without any basis, then we have answers for those. They are not against, they are themselves getting exposed.
So you think the media is going wrong.
I believe in self-regulation. I think the media should think and self-regulate to maintain its credibility.
In recent times, Indian and foreign media have scrutinised and found fault with the government. Do you think that media has done wrong?
When news is presented by adding spice to it, then people read and see it. TRPs have become the most important thing.
Has the media become more responsible now, or are they listening to you now?
Nobody is ready to listen to me.
But you cannot shoot the messenger i.e. the media.
No, I don’t want to. I think the media is the medium to know reality, and a very important input.
RTI was one of the biggest things you gave to the nation; you and Soniaji had taken it up. But what we see now you are trying to scuttle it; no information is given under RTI...
It is wrong to say so. We are proud to say that in a big country like India, where there is so much population, a law like RTI was made. Now some people are trying to stretch the Laxman Rekha even more, now you want answer of three months in three days.
Thirty days. These days it is being said that information under RTI was asked about Soniaji, for a long time, its answer was not given. If somebody is spreading lies, it is better to give out the true reply under RTI.
Many times, you don’t process your application in the right manner, and then you are asked some questions, and must submit the application again. On that basis, if people in responsible positions are fabricating things to grab headlines and for their political benefit, now that thing would be answered by the people.
I’m talking about RTI. Many of my applications are pending. We asked names of leaders of political parties who have used private planes in the past couple of years. I was given no information.
Then why don’t you complain to the chief information commissioner?
You are information minister, so I presume that you believe in giving information, but when information is politically sensitive, then you don’t give it.
The information which is asked, I’m not talking of any specific thing, many times there are ramifications of that, from many places, inputs have to be taken, to give consolidated information, and that could take some time.
But the answer must be given.
Answer regarding every issue would be given.
Manmohan Singh’s travel information can be given, even Soniaji’s information should be given, the answer to the lies being spread is telling the truth.
Nobody would stop in giving information. Do you think it is secret if anybody goes out of the country?
You are the first minister saying this.
I am saying it is a big fault of the one who has raised this issue. The aim of the person raising the issue is different. He wants to raise some issues in the coming elections, but nobody is responding to him, he is not being paid attention to. Narendra Modi wants to become the centre of every campaign.
He wants to turn the issue into Modi verus Gandhi parivaar.
What he wants to do is his own wish. The issue of elections in Gujrat will be of development, issue will be Central schemes and how much money Gujarat was given to complete those schemes.
Your allies are not supporting your decisions, they feel that your economics is for the rich. If you have no majority in the House, you should not have right to take decisions.
Majority has to be proved on the floor of House. When the nuclear deal was underway, even then you all felt there was no majority, because the Left parties did not want it. The Prime Minister decided in the interest of the country.
Even now his mood seems the same, if the government goes, let it go, but I will do what I have thought of...
Why not? You and I know that there is paucity of cold storage facilities  in the country, today there is paucity of rural connectivity, even though the government has allocated a lot of money, there is a lack of resources. Now if steps like FDI in multi brand retail have been taken, we have seen they benefited many countries, and safeguards have been kept.
I am talking politics. When Manmohan Singh decided to go for the nuclear deal in the interest of the country, he thought if the government goes, let it go. He took the risk, the people supported him, and he won again. Now you allowed FDI in, raised diesel prices, and the more stiff decisions that you are going to take ahead for economic development, you are ready to let the government go but will act on conviction. Is that right?
All these steps have come out of our election manifesto. Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh had promised the people and got a mandate. If we hesitate now, then people will think we forgot our promises for some self serving reason. It is inevitable to take these decisions, and our party is ready to give any sacrifice for this. So you are ready to sacrifice power.
That situation will not come.
There is a charge that Congress behaves like big brother, does not consult anybody, and now Mamata Banerjee has said you are anti-national.
That is her thinking; till yesterday she was not saying so. But I don’t want to comment on what she said. But UPA II has an infrastructure and mechanisms of co-ordination.
What do you feel about Gujarat?
Modi will lose, Congress will win.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Do you want a wall around India? Anand Sharma on Teekhi Baat / IBN7/ September 29, 2012


video

“Do you want a wall around India? 


There is no question of  going back on FDI in multi-brand retail, Union Commerce and Industries minister Anand Sharma  says on  Teekhi Baat on IBN7.
Till now, economic reforms were in cold storage. Suddenly, there is a rush of energy. Earlier you launched the manufacturing policy, now this. Didn’t you worry that that the government could fall?
The people, especially the young, have expectations from the government. We created the national manufacturing policy keeping the future in mind. India will be transformed in the coming decades; 20 crore youth will join the work force before 2025 and fresh employment opportunities will come from manufacturing.
Why didn’t you do this a year ago? 
There was opposition to the manufacturing policy too. When VAT was implemented in the country, it started from one state. Then three more states came on board and later more got added. Here too, we have left the implementation of the FDI decision to the states. In any case, which decision in India, or for that matter in the world, gets taken with all in agreement with it?
Will India build a wall on all sides and say we will not allow any outsider in, asks Commerce minister Anand Sharma.

If that’s the principle, why don’t you give states a deciding authority in forest policy and environment too?
The states already have a right, as per Schedule B and C.
But no new unit can be set up in any state till the Central ministry gives it forest clearance?
It is dependent on size, but the recommendation is of the state.
There is already 100 per cent FDI in cold storage?
Yes. But if you don’t open the front end, why will anybody come? They will not set up shop till they get a share in the front end.
So you will not reverse your policy?
The question doesn’t arise. The decision has been taken and it is a final decision.
Good economics is bad politics many times.
The government should understand the need and expectations of the country. Today, you are the world number two in the production of pulses, fruits and vegetables. But the farmer does not get the price of his efforts, 35-40 per cent of fruits and vegetables perish before reaching the mandi, bazaar or kitchen. The farmer gets Rs 3 for a vegetable, you buy it in Delhi for Rs 25. Tell me, don’t you want foreign exchange, don’t you want foreign investment? Will India build a wall on all sides and say we will not allow any outsider in?
So you are confident?
Regarding the dying of small shops and kirana due to FDI, I’d like to say it’s false propaganda. We have kept provisions from the wholesale and cash and carry point. The global retailers will not open in the gullies where there are mom-and-pop stores. But they will sell to the small shop-owner. So he will benefit too.
But how will this affect your political  image? Can good policies co-exist with politics?
If anybody does politics by ruining the country’s economy, then it would be really unfortunate. We do politics in the interest of the nation.