Andhra Pradeshdespit

Andhra Pradesh,despite the secularist impulses of mainstream Zionism,I am not a great believer that if you pass a law,t have documents and the minute they say I know this person this is his name,you are not tainted by politics, These people do their homework.

if I can help in fixing problems,which is neither possible constitutionally nor required in India.so much ? the man you see,not even the hope or promise of a reform.it was staring at a hopeless future. ?? ??? Within months of his arrival,an elected government has been hijacked by intellectual charlatans.

nor just locking up people in jail. It is shockingly, ? ?? ? ????in a sense, For example, ? ? ??? ?? ??? ? ??? ?? ?????

Does it tell you something, So 300, ??? ?? If you look at 20 per cent as possible arbitrage on this, for all kinds of financial products. ??2002 ? ? ?? ?? Because if they don?would ever accept so dictatorial an arrangement.

The answer to that is,s the place to discuss it. ?? ?? ? ?. ?? ?. ??? ?2011 Here is a question,and a proposition, And the choice of the new name for one.

There was a time when Calcutta was the globally celebrated metaphor for all that was wrong with India. From Oh! Calcutta to Dominique Lapierre?the dysfunctionality of that city was the benchmark for all that could go wrong with Third World urban sprawl. Rajiv Gandhi brought the decline of the city to national consciousness by proclaiming that the city was dead. Even the most die-hard Kolkata-walas will not protest when I say that their city has lost that dubious ?number one? In fact,not only has Mumbai become the new Kolkata,it also does not have the comfort of having a Mother Teresa to bring it succour.

a sense of pride and a possible Nobel.Shantaram by Gregory Roberts,Suketu Mehta?Aravind Adiga?s clichéd city of dreams where streets were allegedly paved with gold. Two of the most celebrated India-themed foreign films,have followed the same pattern. Not to be left behind,today,from Band Baaja Baaraat to Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.

Even the new bestselling chicklit is based in Delhi,s Zoya Factor and Advaita Kala? And this,in a city with a well-earned notoriety for being wildly unkind to young women.s decline. The boast of developing it into Asia?a new Shanghai,is now an insult to India?the underworld is making a comeback (that is also the message from J.s murder.

And the answer to the question,Why Mumbai?may lie in the fact that heremore than anywhere elsedo terror modules find refuge and protection from the underworld It is also silly to go on and on insinuating that Mumbai is vulnerable because of its mixed population or communal divide It is a horrible insinuation on its Muslims A flourishing underworld and a sprawling slum provide Mumbai a unique sanctuary for terror And what do we have to fight them A most politicised and faction-ridden police leadership And a police rank and file whichif it is fortunatefinds shelter in one of the citys rotting chawls I invite you to visit any of these How can a man living such a poor quality of life with his family have a sense of pride in his cityor his uniform It is still a marvel it manages to produce great heroes like Tukaram Ombale (who died clutching Kasabs AK-47) This is further compounded by the fact that the police reports to RR Patilwhose first holy objective is to fix Mumbais rotting morality So he would shut down the dance bars while the larger underworld and terror modules flourish and his police force gets more divided and demoralised Such is the paralysis that most of the purchases planned after 26/11 have not been made And while the chief minister blames complex scrutiny of acquisitions by the many three-letter monsters of New Delhi CVCCAGCBI the fact is the Central government belongs to the same coalition So these are thin excuses A Rs 500-crore plan to cover the crucial parts of Mumbai with CCTV cameras has been pending since 26/11and if it gets approved by the cabinet later next weekit will be a collateral benefit of this weeks bombings You cannot build a global financial centre in a city whose law and order is so uncertain Nor can you do so in a city which is adding no new and modern schooling and higher education facilities Deepak Parekhone of the most respected residents of Mumbaispeaks with great pain that he has so few seats in the reputed Bombay Scottishwhich he presides overthat he has to deny admissions to the children of professors in its Powai branch from the neighbouring IIT There are too few college seatstoo few engineering and medical colleges of quality and repute No surprise then that some of the most important figures in the financial and corporate world are now relocating to Delhi Just over the past yeartwo of the shiniest stars of global banking have relocated to Delhiharassed by the nightmare of trafficinfrastructureand possibly also a sense of insecurity Most of Bombays infrastructure decisions are lost in some kind of a dreaded politico-bureaucratic orbitwhere these keep circling without getting anywhere The city took nearly a decade to build a tiny sea-link at a time when the Chinese build one 14 times its size in four years and make no song-and-dance about it What kind of a commercial capital can it be if it does not even offer its residents even one air-conditioned train seat for their daily commute (Delhi now has 25 millionand Kolkata six lakh) Can a city with just one north-south artery be Asias financial centre Not when just one strategically parkedand booby-trappedtruck can slice it neatly into twosnapping all contact between its only airport and the downtown For a long time every decision taken by the Maharashtra government was presumed to carry the stink of corruption Now we have a chief minister whose personal honesty nobody questionsbut who does not take any major decisions Preventing corruption by not taking any decisions is a bit like banishing AIDS by banning sex There ishoweveran essential difference between the declining Calcutta of the old and Mumbai of now Unlike Calcuttawhose residents always maintained their love and loyalty to the city and resented any criticism of itMumbais residents are now the angriest Indians You see this anger spill over to the mediaTV discussionssocial networking sites and so on A desperate sullenness has replaced what used to be eternal optimismonce upon a time in Mumbai That is why the very idea of the spirit of Bombay,which so fired their imagination once, Because it is just seen as a cynical mantra to fool them to accept their fate as it is. The new Shanghai is a dream that never will be. It can,Hyderabad,Kolkata),from being colonies of their state-level politicians. That would require autonomous city governance,and the shifting of state capitals.

and then monetises it in the big bad city),back to the state? Take the American example,California?Illinois has its capital in Springfield,not Chicago,and so on). But that,in our system, Can we.

instead,and the police force cleaned up? Or could it be that these latest blasts haven?2011 The ideological bent of the higher judiciary has never been a significant aspect of the glorious (and sometimes not quite so) uncertainties of democratic politics in India,unlike,in America.if the Republicans get to appoint a few of the judges,or the ?right to life?and if the Democrats are able to appoint theirs.

I turned the knife. Arvind Kejriwal elaborated,and asked what if indeed,our coalition politics? And a prime minister in Indiahe saidknows so much on issues of national security So what will the Lokpal do thenif he thinks that the man chosen prime minister does not look worthy of the job Put fetters on him Give him a bad ACR Tell the cabinet secretary to keep secrets of the state from him But most importantlyhow would this Lokpal then determine that a really badunworthy guy has become prime ministerpresuming that nobody actually charged with serious corruption can get there even in the current system If he is a tribal (Koda) or a Dalit (Raja)it would be a dead giveawayyoud suppose You expect social and intellectual elites to bewhat elsebut elite But this is now treading dangerous territory The upper crust in India is displaying an arrogant new authoritarian streak that has no patience for the dirty unwashed, or the ?jahil-ganwars? who man our politics or vote to elect them,for the price of a sari,to quote Anna?s immortal line.

They do not particularly want a dictatorship,less noisy,better managed and guided democracy.s Singapore fixation. The government will be elected,but only from amongst People Like Us, And yet,if they go astray,as people in power often do,there should be a senior minister.

a Lee Kuan Yew of our own to keep them in check.s concept of its own Lee Kuan Yew is this civil society version of the all-powerful Lokpal,but PLUs.the Lokpal will be selected by all upper crust,Supreme Court judges, This Lokpal institution will be untouched and unsullied by politics.do something pro-actively to prevent him from doing any damage. This is never going to fly,inequalities, This is not anodyne.

disciplined Singapore (which I love to visit),half of this government would have been locked up in jail already for chewing gum,and particularly for sticking it under the finance minister?the tendency to blame everything on politics and the search for managerial,short-cut,is an even greater irony given that this year marks the 20th year of reform.s chattering classes owe their new globalised stature to this reform,which came out of our politics.every chief minister,infrastructure.

aspiration.not contempt for the voting classes. It needs better,deeper, What will never work are these quick,outside? the parliamentary tent by a privileged few who seem to believe the TV studio is the new Lok Sabha and you don?t even have to be elected to get there. The Summer Freeze June 18,2011 Finally.

there is unanimity at least on one thing in this capital city: that this has become our most dysfunctional real government in three decades. Real,Gowda?s and Gujral?described by late Vithal Gadgil in his immortal phrase,ten-day wonders. It passes the buck to GoMs and EGoMs,which in turn only make news in single-columns on inside pages for postponing their meetings.treating the three-figure Nymex and Brent quotes with suspension of disbelief, Appointments of heads of the most important PSU giants like ONGC and UTI,even the CVC.

are stuck. There is no progress on the ambitiously high-sounding National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC),with chiefs speaking out of turn and an unedifying controversy over the army chief?s birth certificate which is not being set at rest one way or the other,thereby dividing the brass.senior leaders of the ? and definitely its furious coalition partners all acknowledge it with a shrug of helplessness. Now to have a government in that condition at the Centre,and that too for three full years? Businessmen are voting with their feet.

The markets are usually the first to sense policy paralysis.languishing in the third position among the world?s worst performers in the past 12 months,have brushed aside Egypt to become the second worst. Given the mood of dismay in Dalal Street, Its carefully scripted strategy of distancing itself from all government decisions except the most obviously populistic ones has now unravelled and backfired. While the government finally responded to this by suspending all decision-making on anything even remotely controversial,it is the party that is now getting the rap for all the scams,some exaggerated and some (as a most eminent and honest scientist-entrepreneur, stashed away in foreign banks has a very strong undertone of Sonia Gandhi?

s foreign origin. The more brazen,like Subramanian Swamy,say so in public: that Sonia and Rahul have gone to Switzerland to sort out their secret accounts,nervous that now their time is up. Over the past three weeks I have been stopped by ordinary people at airports,at a petrol pump,in a spiritual ashram, It is all bunkum,of course.

and in any case the beauty of Swiss accounts is that nobody needs to go to Switzerland to do anything with them.or sounding as if the RSS is the new ISI. People of India are not stupid. But the Congress party steps on its own toes by even treating its top leaders? Of course,they are perfectly entitled to spend their vacation wherever they wish,whether within the country or overseas,but why should that be kept so hush-hush? So far,the Congress has got away with treating its top leaders as some kind of an endearing.

aloof royalty. The use-by date on that self-imposed mystique is now over. Ditto for the Gandhi family. The strategy of controlling the politics and government from a distance without directly speaking to the people has become counter-productive and has contributed to the current paralysis.when you had to face-read Mao or Deng to figure out what the party line was,leaders have to talk not just to their partymen but also to their people.the so-called civil society,hyperactive judges and a hyperventilating media will grab that space. There are two areas where we Indians believe we can teach the world a thing or two: politics and cricket.it is a bit like you send out a nightwatchman to play out the difficult half hour at the end of the day.

so your main batsman,some Sachin Tendulkar,can come and shine the next morning. But it forgot that five years of governance was not the difficult last hour in a day?but an entire innings. The main batsmen (in this case the main batsman,Rahul) can no longer be hidden in the safety of the pavilion. He has to step out and speak up. So must Sonia. Just as the Congress has outsourced its fight to Digvijaya Singh.

Why should the government continue to sound like it has a bad conscience?suicidally stupid to go on saying that the prime minister himself does not mind being under the Lokpal, The prime minister may be reticent about speaking in public,but he has to now step on the podium to explain to us one simple point: that while he may personally have no problem with being under the Lokpal,and the reason his government is opposed to the idea.honest leaders ever. Where is the need for him to be silent?the people,as a matter of policy and strategy. Since it is primarily because of their silence that the whisperers are now winning.

The victory they had taken for granted in 2014 is now most certainly a fantasy. Worse,if they do not change tack, The out,2011 Here are the two questions you are most likely to be asked these days: One,when was the last time India looked so rudderless and angry? And two,do people of India bother about corruption?t it just been a way of life for ever?in what should be one of the most important years in our political history.

Rajiv Gandhi lost power to V. Singh,mainly because of the Bofors stink which raised an almighty popular outrage that devastated the Congress in the north.soon enough, Singh,the victor himself,was running for cover,India looked even more anarchic and furious than it does now. So that should answer the first question. It was more like.

would Indian voters understand Bofors? Would they care? And to those of us who followed him,on motorcycles in 48-degree heat in the 1988 by-election in Allahabad, In village after village, Singh would get down from his motorcycle,and speak to small groups of people.new Indian will not be resigned to her fate just because she is ? of the system,and incapable of paying her way through it either.

There is an old Punjabi truism. That all those who beat their breasts at someone?s funeral are actually each crying for their own. That is true of this anti-corruption mood as well. Please do not miss a story in tomorrow?s edition of The Sunday Express (?unheard?) where our reporters have spoken to a wide range of people attending the various protests,sacrificing a day?s work or more.

Each one has a story to tell.or a straightforward entitlement,like a hospital bed,a property registration,worst of all for the urban middle class,a school admission.just because he did not have the money or contacts.s aspirational,competitive upsurge,he will not take this with that old stoicism.

If your child does not make it to the IITs/ IIMs through a competitive exam,you are disappointed,because that exam is a fair,level playing field.just because his distant cousin is an MP with a quota slip,or has the money to buy it from an MP? Singh to explain to people what corruption and scams mean for them. People of India are not looking for revenge. They want politics to respond to their aspirations. That is what widespread corruption.

nepotism and ?connection-ocracy? denies them. The recent burst of scams,particularly 2G and CWG,are playing in 2011 the role V.by confirming the aam admi? And if these scams are the new V.in a manner of speaking,the media is their new megaphone.

Those coming out on the street in Delhi?s Lokpal bill,or because they believe it will eradicate all corruption,s campaign will bring ?400 lakh crore? The answer to all this is neither any apologies or promises from the government or the party, You talk about hanging those involved in major scams? The Chinese execute hundreds for corruption every year,including governors of their provinces. Has that ended corruption?

Transparency International ranks them higher than us on its scale of corruption: so even here the Chinese are ahead of us! The answer is governance reform. India needs to launch a massive reform in every area where a citizen comes in contact with the sarkar,from getting ration cards to driving licences and passports,birth certificates,municipal clearances, Availability of quality schools and colleges,something the aspirational young Indian and her parents value most of all,has to be quadrupled in the next five years,and a credible programme needs to be launched now.

Land records,registrations must be computerised,and a new system ensuring deadline-bound delivery of routine government services must be set up. It is more complex than reforming the economy in 1991,but the gains will be enormously greater.this is the only way to bring back some of the constructive,calm we were just getting used to in our society. The Great Indian Hijack June 4,iqbal,makes you wonder how the same leadership had been able to throw off the yoke of the Left and returned to power with even greater numbers.

On its second anniversary now,s government was in its third. In a most incredible and frightening first in India?even some assorted nutcases and loonies.precedent-setting notification to placate a man in white and cede Parliament?s right to law-making in a surrender worse than the Treaty of Versailles.setting up directorates and committees to bring back the ?four hundred lakh crore?once you remember that India?s current GDP is just Rs 59 lakh crore.

wizard?all black money will return and the exchange rate will be fifty dollars to a rupee. That is,nearly a 2500 times increase.and all voters are corrupt,and Narendra Modi personifies good governance.and that you can live to fight another day. But that is a vain,wishful fantasy of the politically vanquished. Surely we have seen past governments losing authority faster than this.

s Janata in its very first year (with Charan Singh?s and the RSS?s in its second, But never in India?s sovereign constitutional authority and responsibility as this one has.they have ceded this to just about five characters in fancy dress,in shades of white to saffron, They all claim to have no political ambition,democracy?but just want to change the system.nobody dares to ask.

least of all the UPA,fighting a lonely battle in a lost cause,modern-day Jhansi ki Rani. These new ?but have unanimity only on one thing: they must not first prove their popularity at any election. Elections,even in the world?s largest democracy,are only for us mortals. Are you suggesting that corrupt monstrosity for the divine?

hello,did Mahatma Gandhi ever fight an election? So what do we have for our new leadership now?a Vivekananda,if our society ever produced another neo-Maoist who draped himself in saffron,please remind me.we might just have one original here. And a government which won such an impressive mandate just two years ago, Even God cannot save a country where such powers of blackmail have been ceded to sundry godmen. And when we have a ruling party behaving like the Indian army in retreat in 1962.

Time has also come now to junk all pretences and face the truth.more precisely,the Congress party?civil society? activists and functioning as a super cabinet. Just like the Anna Hazare group,this consists of people never elected,and incapable of ever being elected. All we do not know is if Sonia? But the principle was no different.

tainted? by politics (which is necessarily dirty),to keep an eye on a government of wretched politicians,even if led by an honest man. You need the NAC to make sure power does not go even to his head,and also to keep him off-balance by attacking his government and policies, This is not a team of modern-day Ambedkars, You have any doubts,is subversive of the Constitution,and will never pass parliamentary or judicial scrutiny.

This bill will not pass.it is guaranteed to polarise the Hindu vote and give the BJP a shot at power that any appeals to Ram Lalla cannot in 2014.s Shah Bano moment. Laws apart,constitutional democracy and the cue is being taken everywhere. Petrified of a fasting Medha Patkar,just last week he set up a committee to inquire into an established slum rehabilitation project and included some senior-most Medha activists in the committee. Sheila Dikshit,one of the two re-electable Congress chief ministers in the country (Gogoi being the other),is also under assault from jholawallahs on her brave cash transfer scheme in lieu of PDS.

Outsourcing governance to activists is an idea not many Congressmen are willing to resist.but that won?t change the fact that UPA 2 is now going rapidly downhill.front and behind,why can? Sonia?s options are now clear.t like her government,it can change its leadership. Or she can dissolve her government and seek a fresh mandate.

But if her objective is to win power again in 2014,she cannot carry on with a diminished,paralysed and demoralised government for three more years. She should,either dismantle the NAC or expand it into a much larger,think-tank-ish body, Otherwise,just as NGOs moved into her government space through a silent coup, Because if her government continues to go downhill,she would do well to remember an Abu Abraham cartoon in this newspaper during the Emergency: the rearview mirror in Indira Gandhi?

s car,showing the word ?elections?Objects in this mirror are closer than they seem. Put simplyif the drift continues2014 could arrive in 2012 Similarlythe prime minister has to choose from limitedbut simpleoptions as well He can take a leaf out of Vajpayees book Faced with relentless attacks from the RSSVajpayee made it clear that he would have no more of itand tested the belief that they needed him more than he needed them He was able to save his governmenthis own beliefs and principles Now the prime minister has to step out of the trenches and underline the fact that a country like India can never survive with a weakened prime minister Most likelyhe will have his way But if he doesntit may be time for him to think of doing what he may have so far thought unthinkable Delhi Disconnect May 212011 The rise of regional parties and leaders is no longer news Last weeks results have brought in two phenomenally strong single-state leadersMamata Banerjee and J Jayalalithaa A third has risen tooJaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradeshthough that has passed under the radar a bitthanks to the overwhelming noise of the bigger upheavals elsewhere Sowhats the newsif the rise and rise of regional leaders is an old story This election provides further evidence that the days of the very centralisedhigh command-led parties are now over The Congress has been paying for a decade now for this inabilityand unless it makes a correction nowit will face a disaster in 2014 Today it has much fewer regional leaders capable of winning their states for it than even the BJP New evidence that this distantDelhi-centric management of national politics no longer works also comes from the plight of the CPM Its leadership has shown itself to be as far removed from realityand as alienated from its state-level leaders and issuesas the Congress And the results are with us The Lefts pulling out of support to the UPApresenting a cynicalunprincipled and opportunistic third front alternative under Mayawatileft its voters in West Bengal and Kerala totally confused But the bigger damage was strategic: it helped the Congress and the Trinamool discover each other as natural allies in West Bengal That one blunder led to the Lefts total loss of clout in the 2009 Parliament electionsand now power in its most important state This argument is not so much about strategic errors as about the growing impossibility of managing national politics through centralised decision-making structures This is a fundamental shift in our politics Delhi-based leaders of the CPMfor examplecould argue that their decision to pull out support to the UPA was principled and dictated by ideology But anybody who travelled in West Bengal in this electionas this columnist didrarely heard the two words that were used to justify that decision: Americaand Imperialism In factthe only time I heard that was when Dipak Sarkarthe CPMs suave tyrant of Jungle Mahalsuggested that the uprising in Lalgarh may have been an imperialist conspiracy So the high command was driven by issues that were of no concern to the voters in the one state that mattered to it the most As a consequenceit also exposed its government in the state to the combined assault of the Trinamool and the Congress The Congress is celebrating its victories in Kerala and Assam and its successful joint venture in Bengal But looking ahead to 2014it should now be a deeply worried party In the last Lok Sabha electionTamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh gave it 41 MPsone-fifth of its tally of 206 Tamil Nadu now looks hopelessunless it can change partners But more significant is the near-certain destruction of its base in Andhra Pradeshthe one large state it could call its pocket borough and without sweeping which it cannot come to power The victory of rebel Jaganmohan Reddy by more than five lakh votes is the real takeaway from this election for the Congressway more significant than retaining power in Assam and the return of Kerala A quarter centurys political history tells you now that it isfor some reasonAndhra Pradesh where the Congress makes its most suicidal strategic blunders And in each casethese stem from its high commands inability to show even basic courtesies and political respect to the local leadership in a state it needs to be so grateful to for ensuring its hold on Delhi If the earlier insults to its Andhra leaders led to the rise of NT Rama Raoenabling him to build a campaign of Telugu self-respectthe insensitive and unwiseif not contemptuousway in which it treated Jagan after his fathers death is now a case of history repeating itself His demand of immediate succession as chief minister was juvenile But heand his motherhad to be handled with greater care and respect His father was the Congress partys only stalwart capable of delivering a large state (Sheila Dikshit and Bhupinder Singh Hooda being the remaining twobut togethertheir states have just over one-third of the seats of Andhra) Yetthe high command and its core decision-makers had no time for Jagans insolence The partyof courseis greater than any individualbut it is many individualsspread all over the countrythat make a party and bring it votesnot a dozen or less people in New Delhifar removed from realities of ground-level politics In factwhile most of the Congress leadership has refrained from commenting on AndhraDigvijaya Singh demonstrated rare political maturity and wisdom in underlining this as a most worrying developmentone that should make our party put its house in order in Andhra The BJP has some of these problems too It allowed the egos and ambitions of some members of the high command to destroy Vasundhara Rajes prospects of re-election in 2008 Now it has made a correction and put her back in charge in Jaipurand she has already made an impact Probably because its high command itself has so many divisions and rivalriesit is not able to squash its regional leaders as the Congress and the CPM do That is why the BJP has Narendra ModiRaman SinghShivraj Singh Chauhan who have all won their second terms and are still capable of delivering their states to the party Or even Prem Kumar Dhumal and BS Yeddyurappa who both look unassailable in their states Add to this the rise of Naveen PatnaikNitish KumarJayalalithaaMamata Banerjee If the Congress looks at the likely national political map in 2014 honestlyit will be staring at a real problem Can it fix it A good beginning would be to give no more than one Rajya Sabha term for each individual At least that will force the high command dadas to go back and smell the earthconnect with peopleinstead of making a living sitting backpulling strings and cutting their own regional leadersand ultimately their partyto size JantarChhu Mantar May 142011 The rise of regional parties and leaders is no longer news Last weeks results have brought in two phenomenally strong single-state leadersMamata Banerjee and J Jayalalithaa A third has risen tooJaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradeshthough that has passed under the radar a bitthanks to the overwhelming noise of the bigger upheavals elsewhere Sowhats the newsif the rise and rise of regional leaders is an old story This election provides further evidence that the days of the very centralisedhigh command-led parties are now over The Congress has been paying for a decade now for this inabilityand unless it makes a correction nowit will face a disaster in 2014 Today it has much fewer regional leaders capable of winning their states for it than even the BJP New evidence that this distantDelhi-centric management of national politics no longer works also comes from the plight of the CPM Its leadership has shown itself to be as far removed from realityand as alienated from its state-level leaders and issuesas the Congress And the results are with us The Lefts pulling out of support to the UPApresenting a cynicalunprincipled and opportunistic third front alternative under Mayawatileft its voters in West Bengal and Kerala totally confused But the bigger damage was strategic: it helped the Congress and the Trinamool discover each other as natural allies in West Bengal That one blunder led to the Lefts total loss of clout in the 2009 Parliament electionsand now power in its most important state This argument is not so much about strategic errors as about the growing impossibility of managing national politics through centralised decision-making structures This is a fundamental shift in our politics Delhi-based leaders of the CPMfor examplecould argue that their decision to pull out support to the UPA was principled and dictated by ideology But anybody who travelled in West Bengal in this electionas this columnist didrarely heard the two words that were used to justify that decision: Americaand Imperialism In factthe only time I heard that was when Dipak Sarkarthe CPMs suave tyrant of Jungle Mahalsuggested that the uprising in Lalgarh may have been an imperialist conspiracy So the high command was driven by issues that were of no concern to the voters in the one state that mattered to it the most As a consequenceit also exposed its government in the state to the combined assault of the Trinamool and the Congress The Congress is celebrating its victories in Kerala and Assam and its successful joint venture in Bengal But looking ahead to 2014it should now be a deeply worried party In the last Lok Sabha electionTamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh gave it 41 MPsone-fifth of its tally of 206 Tamil Nadu now looks hopelessunless it can change partners But more significant is the near-certain destruction of its base in Andhra Pradeshthe one large state it could call its pocket borough and without sweeping which it cannot come to power The victory of rebel Jaganmohan Reddy by more than five lakh votes is the real takeaway from this election for the Congressway more significant than retaining power in Assam and the return of Kerala A quarter centurys political history tells you now that it isfor some reasonAndhra Pradesh where the Congress makes its most suicidal strategic blunders And in each casethese stem from its high commands inability to show even basic courtesies and political respect to the local leadership in a state it needs to be so grateful to for ensuring its hold on Delhi If the earlier insults to its Andhra leaders led to the rise of NT Rama Raoenabling him to build a campaign of Telugu self-respectthe insensitive and unwiseif not contemptuousway in which it treated Jagan after his fathers death is now a case of history repeating itself His demand of immediate succession as chief minister was juvenile But heand his motherhad to be handled with greater care and respect His father was the Congress partys only stalwart capable of delivering a large state (Sheila Dikshit and Bhupinder Singh Hooda being the remaining twobut togethertheir states have just over one-third of the seats of Andhra) Yetthe high command and its core decision-makers had no time for Jagans insolence The partyof courseis greater than any individualbut it is many individualsspread all over the countrythat make a party and bring it votesnot a dozen or less people in New Delhifar removed from realities of ground-level politics In factwhile most of the Congress leadership has refrained from commenting on AndhraDigvijaya Singh demonstrated rare political maturity and wisdom in underlining this as a most worrying developmentone that should make our party put its house in order in Andhra The BJP has some of these problems too It allowed the egos and ambitions of some members of the high command to destroy Vasundhara Rajes prospects of re-election in 2008 Now it has made a correction and put her back in charge in Jaipurand she has already made an impact Probably because its high command itself has so many divisions and rivalriesit is not able to squash its regional leaders as the Congress and the CPM do That is why the BJP has Narendra ModiRaman SinghShivraj Singh Chauhan who have all won their second terms and are still capable of delivering their states to the party Or even Prem Kumar Dhumal and BS Yeddyurappa who both look unassailable in their states Add to this the rise of Naveen PatnaikNitish KumarJayalalithaaMamata Banerjee If the Congress looks at the likely national political map in 2014 honestlyit will be staring at a real problem Can it fix it A good beginning would be to give no more than one Rajya Sabha term for each individual At least that will force the high command dadas to go back and smell the earthconnect with peopleinstead of making a living sitting backpulling strings and cutting their own regional leadersand ultimately their partyto size The great letdown April 302011 There are parallels in the mandates that Rajiv Gandhis Congress won in December 1984and Sonia Gandhis UPA in May 2009 In both cases an aspirational electorate brought back an incumbent to power on a promise of optimistic change A fortnight from the second anniversary of UPA 2 you can also begin to see parallels in the pace with which the Congress of 1984 squandered its mandateand the UPA now Rajiv Gandhi was undone by his partys old guardwho he had taken on frontally a bit too early in the day He had not yet prepared his partyor public opinionfor the break from the past that he articulated so bravely in his speech at the Bombay AICC session (in 1985) When the formidable immune system of entrenched old interests struck backhe did not have the timesupport base or firepower to fight back The move downhill began just as his government entered its third yearand gathered momentum on way to the 1989 elections UPA 2 began its decline even before it was two For oneit had brought along its Bofors from UPA 1the telecom scam But to call the telecom scam primarily responsible for UPA 2s predicament would be to oversimplify the case Because in politicsa scandal or an event can spin so out of control as to destroy a strongelected government and a popularcredible leader only if the political ground for that has been prepared bywhat elsepoor politics and leadership Rajiv Gandhis politics started going downhill with his pandering to the Muslim Right on the Shah Bano judgment that alienated moderate Muslims within his own partyliberals among his votersand gave the Hindu Right a cause From then to Boforsand the shilanyas at Ayodhya to please the devout Hindus insteadit was one long series of political blunders with no redemption or recovery UPA 2s blunders are of a different natureand a direct result of fundamentally flawed politics This government was voted back to power by a resurgent India making a bold and widely hailed move from the politics of grievance to the politics of aspirationsomething this newspaper also underlined on the day after the results in a front-page editorial (Hands down, But it would seem that,povertarian,everything-is-wrong-where-are-we-headed discourse. Not a step was taken on economic reforms,if anything some were reversed as so many Central ministers,were back to the old Congress instinct of extortion and rent-seeking.

The return of this depredatory governance fed directly into the alienation sparked by the government?s inability to take the telecom scam head-on. The others that followed,Commonwealth Games and Adarsh (though the Centre had almost nothing to do with it),only fed that rising anger.UPA 2 seemed like it was embarrassed by the very factors that had given its voters such an aspirational belief.employment generation,even national pride. It was shy of even sending a thank-you card of some kind to those who had voted it back to power.the UPA won almost every single city in a rapidly urbanising India.

rather than reform urban governance,more whimsical and more cruelly authoritarian,and most in cities under its own governments. Can you even get a birth certificate,a driving licence,and after you build, In Mumbai,and a child is doomed unless her uncle is a big shot who can swing her into a decent school.s Congress party should have begun to address these issues from day one in their second innings.city folk who are walking around with candles,mera neta chor hai tattoos and demanding that their MPs be fed to vultures or dogsor both An aspirational society is an impatient society Even more so when it is so youngand getting younger Nobody in the Congress or the UPA has been talking to this Indiawhether in cities or villages This has been the quietestthe most shy government in Indias historyand nobody can govern this country from the trenches If the mood at Jantar Mantar is anti-politicianor for an apolitical systemthis has been an incredibly apolitical governmentwhich is its own and Indias tragedy Because in a democracypoliticians must speak with peopleto sell their ideasplansexplain their mistakespromise redressand so on But hereSonia and Rahul rarelyif everspeak in public They almost never speak to the media or make an intervention in Parliament and rarer still on behalf of the government The party behaves as if this government has been outsourced to bureaucrats The prime minister too speaks rarely and his minders seem to not only draw great comfort from itbut also take pride in itas if they have a prime minister they need to protectand hide from public interaction and gaze If you do not speak to the voters for two full yearsthey will turn to somebodyto the courtsto high-decibel TV anchorsto Anna Hazare Petrified Congressmen are today coming out in self-serving defence of politics and democracy But their own party set up this government as if politics was Indias curse and only what was apolitical was virtuous How else would you explain the formation of the National Advisory Council (NAC) with a statutorily mandated positionand to which Sonia Gandhi related (in public perception) much more strongly than to her government In the name of civil societythe NAC was not only given the powers to draft legislation but also to attack the government and its policies relentlessly That is why the Congress now sounds so hollow when it questions the demand that civil society draft the new Lokpal legislation If Sonias civil society can do itwhy not Annas And please stop giving us sanctimonious lectures on Parliaments sovereignty over law-making Thesethe de-politicisation of its own political approachand a clinical but systematic distancing of the party and its top leadership from its governmentare UPA 2s equivalent of Rajiv Gandhis premature assault on the old guard and the Shah Bano bill Telecom and other scams have filled the moral space thus vacated to become todays Boforsand to symbolise popular anger Howsoever good the results of May 13 for the Congressthey will not reverse this downslide But they will provide a breather If SoniaManmohan Singh andmost importantlyRahul still want to reverse the slideand not write off 2014 as wellthey will have to totally reboot their politics And remember not to repeat the mistakes Rajiv made in his governments second halfthough the spectacle the Congress created at the PACunfortunatelyreminded you so much of Shankaranands shameful JPC on Bofors Wethe thieving people April 232011 Some questions can have only one answer For exampleis corruption a bloody awful thing Are you sick and tired and outraged by recent scandals Shouldnt the perpetrators of all these be thrown into jail Is the process of catching such thieves in high positions too slowtoo compromised andactuallya joke Does India need to set up a neweffective mechanism to not only catch and convict the corrupt but also to strike terror in the hearts of all those who may have felt tempted to steal If the Jan Lokpal billdrafted by well-meaningsincere members of the civil societyprovides that legal frameworkshould it be passed forthwith The answer to all these will be a resoundingunanimous YES.

No question. The honest answer is most of you have not. Nor had I,until late last week. So here are some follow-up questions: in that fight against corruption are you willing to reshuffle the great constitutional arrangement of checks and balances,executive and the judiciary? Will you create an institution that?s a cop-cum-prosecutor-cum-inquisitor-cum-judge at the same time,in a ?na appeal.

na daleel? (the expression made famous during the Emergency) kind of arrangement? Do you want an institution that will override the judiciary and Parliament,have the magisterial powers of search and seizure and,as time passes,will pretty much appoint its own successors and be answerable to none,particularly as even the judges of the Supreme Court will quake in their robes before they hear complaints against the Lokpal as it would also have the powers to investigate complaints against them (there is a concession however: such investigations will not be carried out on behalf of the Lokpal by a police officer below the rank of a superintendent of police)?org) as we go on. The Musharraf reference is brought in with great care. He tried to create a perfect system with a ?

that was ? by him,and his corps commanders,obviously men with ?unimpeachable integrity? (a term you will read often in the Lokpal bill draft) and certainly unquestionable patriotism. It worked well for nine years,until he willy nilly got caught in putting his control over his judiciary to the test of public opinion and a Pakistan,even under military rule, The Musharraf reference is also tempting because the standard answer from this group of civil society leaders to the question if their bill violates the basic spirit of the Constitution is.

so what,the Constitution can be amended as it has been so many times.and number of Constitutional amendments this draft will require,will need a Musharraf.on the suggestions of journalists who,the composition of the 10-member Lokpal and its chief.and no more than two former civil servants. All of these will have to be people of ?unimpeachable integrity?should have demonstrated their resolve to fight corruption in the past. From where will you find these peopleparticularly as you are working on the presumption that a large number of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts do not pass that test of unimpeachable integrity And who will choose them A committee headed by the prime minister whoin turnwill be under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal he chooses Butwaitit is more complicated than that This committee shall include the two youngest judges of our high courts and Supreme Court respectivelythe presumption being that the young are cleaner (Clause 65 c and d) Butif a Lokpal has to be fired for misdemeanourthe case will be heard by a bench consisting of the five seniormost judges of the Supreme Court Confused Why are the youngest virtuous while hiringand the seniormost equally so while firing The first timethis selection committee will set up a search committee of 10of which five shall be former CAGs and CECs but only if there has never been a substantive allegation of corruption against themnor do they have any strong political affiliations Who is to sit in judgment over such subjective criteria But wait This committee of five will then choose five members from the civil society How civil society is defined we do not knowbut in fairnessyou should presume we journalists will not be among them If this is not sounding impossible alreadythis search committee has to recommend at least three times the names as there are vacancies (Clause 610 f) So if you thought it is hard enough to find so many perfect men and womenyou now know that you have to find thrice as many Andof coursewhen the selection committees choice is finally forwarded to the presidentshe shall sign it within a month This would make the Congress party blushin particularas the last time the president of the Republic was treated so peremptorily was during the Emergency Remember Abu Abrahams immortal cartoon in this papershowing Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed in his bathtubhanding out a signed ordinance through an ajar doorand sayingif there are more ordinancescan they wait till I finish If the bill tells the president what she shall doit similarly directs the Supreme Courtfive seniormost of whose judges will hear any complaints against the Lokpal and shall not dismiss such petitions in liminae?

they will write to the president who ? If the idea of this bill is to take away all discretion,and strike terror in the hearts of the bad guys,it does that very effectively.generally innocent Indians,may live in that terror as well. The bill,for example,entitles the Lokpal to collect 10 per cent of all the fines collected,in its own corpus for its own use.

the more you collect. If you report on another citizen and he is caught and convicted,and/ or the money saved from being swindled as your reward. We will,be incentivised by law to become a nation of cops and spies, Of course,almost all Lokpal proceedings,from selection committee meetings to trials, This will be a great stimulus for the video industry and if you had any spare cash you had better buy some Moserbaer stock. So if a company is found to benefit from a corrupt practice.

five times the loss it is supposed to have caused the public (it could have been 5 x 1.but also the personal assets of its directors. You can go on,the Lokpal members will be deemed police officers,have the powers of seizure and search without going to a magistrate ?will function as civil courts,throwing out the very principle of separation of powers, But is the way to fight it to totally subvert our constitutional arrangement and create an institution with absolute,unchallenged and draconian powers? Or install a Kim Il Sung with his politburo?

This bill,in this form,is designed to match the dictum of ?absolute power corrupts absolutely. It also presumes all Indians are thievesunless proven otherwiseand can only be governed in a police state Furtherthat a society of a billion-plus thieves can be cleansed by barely a dozen individuals armed with the most undemocratic law drafted in a democracy outside its Parliament That is why this needs greatercooler discussion Medha Patkar is right in saying that the antecedents of the civil society committee members are not the most important thing and that there shouldinsteadbe a vigorous debate on all aspects of this bill That is what we are trying to initiate in this paper A word about the response of the political class so far The Congress has been panicking because of its own well-earned and deserved guilty conscience as so many scams have happened under its watch The BJP touchingly believes this is its second Ganesh-drinking-milk moment that will help bring it back to power But it does not see the contradiction of backing Santosh Hegde against the Congress in Delhi and Yeddyurappa against him in Bangalore A strongeffective institutional framework to prevent and punish corruption is an idea whose time has come This draft billunfortunatelyis like losing your way before starting that journey Minus the Left March 122011 Funny we still see 2012 as the most crucial year on way to the big 2014 general electionmainly because Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls early in that year and probably also because a new president has to be elected for the Rashtrapati Bhavan that year Funnierthereforeis how nobody looks at 2011 as a year of any great political significance Just liberate yourself from the notion that 2012 may be the year of the Congress revival in Uttar Pradesh (rendered outdated after Bihar)and from all the dark rumours in the Lutyens opium den about Manmohan Singh being moved up and aside into Rashtrapati Bhavanand it would not look like such a make-or-break year That year could indeed be the current oneand here is how The five state elections that take place within two months from now (all results come on May 13) are among the easiest to predict in our electoral history in a very long time You know exactly who will lose Bengal and Kerala You know that Tamil Nadu will now be a very open election In Assamthe Congress would still have a better chance of putting together a government and Pondicherrywhich the Congress may again winis of insignificant value Generallythese elections will leave the Congress feeling much better about itself And the BJP wont be feeling much worse either It has no stakes in these states and it will not look like a loser And the Left will be devastated That is whyif these elections indeed go the way they are headed right nowthey have the potential of altering our national political equationsand setting a much more interesting stage for 2014 It is a unique set of state elections where the Congress and the BJP will hardly cross swords anywhere On the contrarythe Left will be the Congresss adversary in all the five statesincluding in Tamil Nadu and Assam where it has a small but significant footprint These elections willthereforehave four important consequences Onethey will leave the Congress feeling much more confidentsettled Twothey will give the BJP time to regroup and savour the defeat of its bitterest ideological enemythe Communists Threethese will give the Congress and the BJP at least twoif not threeParliament sessions where they can healthily cooperate and pass some legislations and economic policies on which they have a common view And fourand most importantthis decimation of the Leftunprecedented in recent yearsmay just push our national politics towards clearer bipolarity Ever since the decline of the Congress as an unassailable national forceour politics has carried the peculiar curse of tripolarity Classicallyyou would expect two ideological poles in Indian politicswith the more liberal forces (orto put it more directlythose valuing the Muslim vote) coming under the Congress umbrellaand those that do not particularly need (or expect to get) the minority vote going with the BJP That is why the DMK/ AIADMKHyderabads MIM and Keralas Muslim League are natural Congress alliesjust as the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal are the BJPs If this was a cleartwo-way divisionour national politics would have been a lot more coherent post-1989 But it hasnt been so because of a thirddisruptive factoraptly called the Third Front It fulfils the needs of those regional parties that want the Muslim vote and yet have the Congress as their main rival in their respective states; for exampleChandrababu Naidus TDP in AndhraNaveen Patnaiks BJD in Orissa and even to some extent Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh They cannot go with the Congress because it is their main rivalor with the BJP because that will lose them the Muslim vote So they gravitate to a third front whose nucleus and ideological and tactical powerhouse is the Left After the results come this May 13these parties will need to review their optionsbecause the Left will lose the third pole status it has thrived on for nearly two decades This will bring the biggest change and opportunity in our national politics in a long time These powerful regional adversaries of the Congress will have to make a choice: to stay isolated on the national stageor to gravitate towards the NDA The opportunity will first be the BJPs If it can moderate its own politics and conductif it has the good sense of going to both Naidu and Patnaik with a humble mea culpa on the past and a promise of following the Nitish model in their statesit will have its first chance of rebuilding a credible national alternative post-Vajpayee And if it has the wisdom and the large-heartedness to do thisgains will come from elsewhere too The other Dravida party (other than the one with the UPA)for example Evenat some point post-2012Mayawati Similarlyfor MulayamLaluPaswanGowda and other regional chieftainsthe Congress and UPA will emerge as their default option with the comforting shoulder of the articulateEnglish-speaking Left no longer available Exactly two months from todaythereforeIndia will have a rare opportunity to rebalance its politics in a manner that would be ideologically and electorally more logical than what we have had since the beginning of the coalition era Hopefully then the phenomenon of irresponsible outside support keeping governments unsettled and governance distorted through a Treaty of Versailles kind of CMPs will be behind usat least for now But for this to happenleaders of both national partiesthe Congress and the BJPwill quickly need to reboot their own politics Whoever manages the aftermath of the mini election of 2011 better will have a headstart on 2014 The best thing isyou do not even need to wait till May 13 to start working on that Constant Congressman March 52011 The first time I met Arjun Singhhe was not dealing with a real crisis It was in Bhopal a few days after the gas tragedy in December 1984 What struck me was his composure He was coolunruffled and even exchanged old-fashioned banter with journalists You could not miss the bonhomie between him and the Bhopal press corps Arjun Singhwe all knewhad done more to improve the living standards of journalistswith government housing and other freebiesin his state than anybody before or after him My first one-on-one conversation with him came in the following summer It was a very shorthalf-hour Indian Airlines flight from Delhi to Chandigarh He wouldnt stop smiling as all kinds of people lined up to congratulate him He was on his way to take over as the new governor of Punjabat a very young age of 55 The Punjab governorship was not a job for retired people The terror-hit state was constantly under presidents rule Rajiv Gandhi had just signed a peace accord with the respected Sikh leaderSant Harchand Singh Longowal Arjun Singhas Rajivs most trusted political lieutenanthad played a stellar role behind the scenes No surprise thenthat Rajiv trusted him to oversee its implementation Hence that governorship at such a young age In fact as I shook his hand while stepping out of that planeIsomewhat naivelywished him a brilliant five years of governorship Arrey bhaiyoung manI do not know you very well But do you want me to remember you as my friend or my enemy? He wanted to finish the job quickly,and get back to the political mainstream.though,exposing the limitations of the accord and the tenuous peace it had brought. Of course,Arjun Singh did not lose his cool.

He asked his trusted aide,IAS officer Sudeep Banerji who he had brought along from Bhopal,not by one but two levels.s stories talked not so much of his failure to protect his most valuable ward, Friend or foe,he never refused a journalist a favour.at the same time,he was never shy of raising that dreaded question: are you my friend or my enemy? During his full stint as HRD minister in UPA 1,this newspaper.

were usually at odds with him.we saw his move to spring OBC reservations on the entire higher education system without any preparation as some kind of a too-clever-by-half ploy to unsettle the prime minister,run on these editorial pages with our usual bluntness,that I received an early morning phone call from him. he said. But that he had left a formidable legacy and equally a successor,and that our freedoms were actually very secure with them. But he had no patience.you are saving Rajiv Gandhi?s ideals from a party led by his own wife and son? Nonot that It is just that none of the others was close enough to Rajiv to know what he really dreamed for India?

he said. Then he went on to describe the days when he,accompanied Rajiv deep into the countryside,where we lay on cots in small inspection bungalows under star-filled skies and exchanged our ideas for the future of India? It was at this point that I saw his eyes moist a bit. Through exactly 25 years of knowing him, But that is what also made him so angry,the prime ministership,by Narasimha Rao and then Manmohan Singh,both of whom he considered lesser leaders than himself.inside their respective cabinets.

on his ? and he presumed the Gandhi family?secularism and social justice.angered him in his last years. So will we journalists for whom he was a fine example of the traditional Congress politician so accessible,even if you mostly disagreed with him. Lok Sabha,it has looked like more fun than the one-sided matches being played in the World Cup preliminaries.the first week of a functioning Parliament for nearly six months has made one thing dramatically clear: that the election of 2014 is no longer a done deal. Opening exchanges showed a new energy in the opposition.

particularly the BJP. In a debate that must rank among the classics of our recent parliamentary history,Sushma Swaraj notably worsted veteran Pranab Mukherjee,and then gave us one of those moments you cherish in parliamentary politics,by giving a smiling Pranabda a friendly hug at the end of the day.s been a long time since we saw such mutual large-heartedness in our Parliament. The BJP? At this time last year, Its top leaders engaged in a Mahabharata of sorts,no happy turning point in sight.

Across the ideological fence, to stab their own in the back as they jockeyed for the spoils of an election already ? in 2014.in the process,brutally undermining their own government much like a body afflicted with autoimmune disease that begins attacking itself. Both sides would acknowledge that an upset of sorts has now been caused. Not that the tables have turned but the next election has been thrown open as nobody would have anticipated.three of which are rooted in our major states,Bihar and Tamil Nadu, It is difficult to see the UPA repeating its near-sweep of 2004 and 2009 in Andhra and Tamil Nadu.

Even more than its tally of four seats,on the other hand,exclusionist,emerged as that fortuitous turning point that an opposition,in the dumps,so early in the life of a Lok Sabha. The two factors outside of these states are the obvious ones: the withering damage the UPA has suffered because of corruption charges and the discordant,exposing its disastrous complex of ideological laziness,some damage is done. These nine ?

are our large states where electoral fortunes can change: Uttar Pradesh,Andhra,Maharashtra,Rajasthan,Madhya Pradesh,Tamil Nadu,so whichever coalition wins five of these is likely to cross the 200-mark anyway.as you would presume that the same coalition would collect some more seats out of the remaining 192,and if it is still short,and you would be a fool not to acknowledge.

at least to yourself,that this will be a much closer election than you had expected it to be.best-of-nine-sets? It would err in hoping to ride Bihar?s euphoria to victory in Lok Sabha,because it does not exist in Kerala,Tamil Nadu and Andhra,and has been decimated in Uttar Pradesh. So where do the UPA and NDA,the Congress and BJP go from here?

The lesson for each is somewhat similar. The next election is its to win or lose depending on whether it can dump some of its awful, Take the Congress first.because it keeps the party together. But should it also continue to mean that the party will build no other,strong leaders,particularly regional chieftains who will conquer their states for it,Hooda and Sheila Dikshit had done in the last election? How many such does the party have right now, To expect Rahul to go out and win all these states by himself will be a tough call in 2014 when so many of India?

s voters would have been born after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The BJP,similarly,should know from its Bihar experience that its original,Muslim-hating, In a state with a sizeable Muslim vote,the BJP has won 91 of the 102 seats it contested,possibly the highest strike rate (90 per cent) for any party ever in our history. Would it have done as well if Modi,Mandir.

Hindutva had been floating in the Bihar air? Only if it takes that logical lesson forward,does a mea culpa with Chandrababu Naidu,Naveen Patnaik and Jayalalithaa,can it put together a coalition that will once again begin to look like a winner,particularly if the election does turn out to be that best-of-nine-sets match.similar: liberate itself from its past,bury the old politics of hatred,insecurity,grievance and embrace the new Indian mood of resurgence and aspiration.

The first week of this budget session has confirmed to us that the election of 2014 is now open. The winner would be the party that makes that bold,final and convincing move from its outdated politics of grievance to India?s wonderful new politics of aspiration.2011 Just a 90-minute interaction between the prime minister and the captains of electronic media in the country turned our entire upper crust into TV reviewers. And of course,in their near-unanimous judgment,from the party circuit to airline lounges: He sounded too defensive,he did not sound assertive enough. How does it measure up to a quick reality check?

if you remember that the key to understanding Dr Manmohan Singh,and that is particularly so in terms of his public persona,is the man you get. He is never one to sound assertive,never one to make broad-brush statements. And his method and moods? I have often said that even at the best of times Dr Singh seems to come across as Rahul Dravid batting at 39 for 3.countenance when his first crisis,the (Harshad Mehta) stock market scam, and politically naive.

you might say ?s 2G spectrum allocation.that he ? You have to ask that question,for sure,Suresh Kalmadi has more than a few serious questions to answer for CWG. Exactly the classes who wanted to hire private commandos in Mumbai after 26/11,and keep routinely calling for election boycotts. You ask them who they would prefer as their rulers if not our ?the third front is dead.

and Mayawati,arre baap re baap… There was a time when the same class was fascinated with Musharraf: so smart,so with it,so confident,what swagger,so articulate, More important,crotch-scratching politicians who mostly do not know how to dress or speak English. You know where he ended up as millions of brave Pakistanis took to the streets to protect their democratic rights and their judiciary.incompetence.

and cynicism,it is exactly our politics that is transforming India in a most remarkable manner now. The politics we curse has given us a truly federal polity where over half of the states are governed by non-UPA parties and where,while power to make big money (from land,we have at least ten chief ministers with impeccable reputations. When was the last time you saw that in India? Maybe in Nehru? What is even more important, Nitish Kumar,Naveen Patnaik.

Sheila Dikshit,Narendra Modi,Raman Singh,Shivraj Singh Chouhan ? have all defied anti-incumbency. So it is evident that their voters not only acknowledge and reward these qualities,big-city drawing room mood. India is democratising and the political class and the voters are warming up to each other in a manner that is unprecedented,yet logical in its happy evolution.good leaders are being re-elected with larger majorities and others are mending their ways.

Even the Congress has been forced to send to Maharashtra, a chief minister in Prithviraj Chavan whom his worst enemies would never accuse of taking a paisa in bribes or cuts. Likewise,well-intentioned,wise and,re-electable? But one thing you can be sure of. Whatever his countenance and style,like the dour but indispensable cricketer we compared him with,which is how the scoreline looks for UPA 2 right now.

You can trust him when he says he isn?t going anywhere midway through this innings,and you can also be sure his party will now cut all the clutter and confusion and work with him rather than at cross-purposes. Even in the gossip-filled opium den that is Lutyens Delhi, So forget all talk of a change midway,likely successors and so on through this Lok Sabha. And expect a fresh push for reforms,administrative and political changes and,2011 One challenge with analysing the situation in which the UPA government finds itself in its second term is that you cannot find any real parallel,or comparative reference point.

for it in our political history. Governments have run aground early in their tenures despite comfortable majorities (Rajiv Gandhi?s in its third year, This is a coalition that only emerged stronger through a tenuous first term,and has lately lost its way. The government is locked in mortal combat with the opposition,an inevitability,but it has visited UPA 2 much too early. It is caught in withering arguments with,or over.

key institutions. In this case,notably, Just a year back, But now,the political class and the executive have ceded so much moral ground that the judiciary chides them almost every day.the Supreme Court has risen in stature with the rise of a tough,no-nonsense Chief Justice in S. Kapadia,but that is not the only reason this newspaper listed him on the top of this year?

s national Power List (www.indianexpress. It was also an acknowledgement of the changed balance of power,where the executive and the political class had lost so much credibility,and the higher judiciary had moved in to fill that space. Every evening it is the judiciary?s admonitions to the government that make the headlines ? and even if this news-paper has most respectfully cautioned the higher judiciary against ruling by obiter dicta rather than judgments,and of the perils of playing to the sab-chor-hain gallery,the fact is.

it is finding popular applause. If you were a UPA leader you would ask why should it be so when their government has been brave enough to jail one of its own ministers.under whose pressure some cleansing has begun. And yet,s predicament that it is now caught in yet another hopeless argument with the same court on the CVC?s appointment. Thomas wins or loses,cynical and,s first instinct,has backfired.

Its ? of the telecom scam under a new,and personally clean,minister has not convinced anybody. Some humility would have served the government better: of accepting something truly awful has happened and is being sorted out by a newly empowered CBI under an unforgiving Supreme Court, The totally bull-headed rejection of the opposition?even at the cost of losing one Parliament session and thre-atening another, Hopefully,that is being sorted out in a new mood of pre-budget session realism. Do you want an election already?

But the opposition will be the opposition,and it is its basic instinct to play spoiler.instead,did the Congress need to raise the temperature of combat ? Of course you need to underline your ideological commitments,but you have to choose your moment. Also,if you think to be seen in constant combat with the BJP is the only way to get back the Muslim vote,you have learnt nothing from the Bihar election. Finally.

the UPA 2 has been cursed by its own inbuilt contradictions and conflicting ambitions, The essential contradiction,of the centre of gravity of UPA 2 sitting not in the government but in the Congress party,which,it seems,has begun celebrating its ? of 2014 too soon,still persists.but has been outsourced to loyal mandarins. But there are still more than three years to go.

The prime minister says often enough that a public office is like holding public trust. You can?t have it and do nothing with it.t-do-anything/ do-nothing/ what-can-I-do mode. You cannot do this particularly now, The bitter truth is,the India story is now under threat. It may have been the second India-theme year at Davos within five years,the mood was sober. There were more questions about India than excitement.

about shifting,inconsistent government policies,about top Indian corporates ?shifting? their balance sheets overseas.because these doubts are all rooted in facts,bucking the rising global trend. Can UPA 2 regain its balance and authority? You could argue that it is still possible. But then it has to try changing the headlines from tonight.

no party-government conflicts,no fighting with institutions,and finding a modus vivendi with the main opposition so at least some long-pending legislation can pass. It is a good thing that the prime minister has begun to speak out on some key issues lately. The budget fortnight is usually the best time for a government to change the headlines.and his most astute and exceptional cabinet colleague,the finance minister. For all the latest Opinion News, 2011 3:09 am Related News YONATAN TOUVAL Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly pressed the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a ?Jewish state? In his speech before the US Congress in MayNetanyahu even made this demand the linchpin of any future peace deal Regrettablythe Obama administration has bought into Netanyahus idea and is currently working behind the scenes tofor the first timespell out international expectations that the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state Much has been said about why the Palestinians refuse to extend Israel such recognition certainly at this stage of the negotiations But ironicallyIsraelis may well be the first to demur at such a definition of their stateor at least to be confused by it For it is far from clear to anyonenot least Israels own Jewish citizenswhat Netanyahus demand actually means Historicallythe modern Zionist movement has sought to transform the term Jewish into a distinctly national category But it has not fully succeeded If it had?

in the manner,that ? that of Poland. And yet,in much of the world ?Jewish? today remains a fuzzy term whose precise meaning depends on context. It can stand for a religious attribute,Jewish?although the source of authority lies outside the exclusive purview of the state.

Indeed,even as Israel proclaims to be the nation-state of the Jewish people,it has no legal definition for the term ?Jewish? other than a religious one: It is rabbis who determine for the Israeli state who is a Jew.Jewish? dates back to the inception of the Zionist movement. Since in order to forge the Jewish people into a nation it was necessary to bind them to a single territory and decide upon a collective language, These included Uganda and Argentina as possible territories,while German was the language of preference of Theodor Herzl.

And yet,the territory ultimately chosen was the biblical Land of Israel and the language that of the Bible. Thus the emergence of the Zionist movement could not help heightening rather than attenuating the religious underpinnings of the Jewish nation. These are among the fundamental reasons why the character of the Israeli state remains a highly contested issue within Israel itself. What makes Israel ?Jewish? Is sovereignty over biblical lands essential to Israels Jewish self-identity (as the settler movement argues) Is Israel the state of the Jews living in Israel or also of those living elsewhere in the world (Netanyahu concluded his speech to Congress by stating I speak on behalf of the Jewish people and the Jewish state? The debate inside Israel over these issues is passionate and ongoing.let alone one that is accepted and recognised by the majority of its citizens.therefore, And while it is tempting to pass on the burden to others.

it remains Israel?s duty ? first and foremost to itself ?and to make sure that such a definition be accepted,by its own citizens. Once it does so,Israel might be able to make a more coherent request to its neighbors ? or more likely,feel secure enough in its own identity to move on. So when you see these faces.

this anger,s right, Because, But are we now paying for not doing an adequate job of it? First of course is the idea of concentrating so much power in one individual,t fix problems by creating more layers of inspection.ll go back to the PDS.why is it that people in this country can?t be an introducer. But we have a system and I get this request everyday in Delhi ?

Right. He doesn?s two-and-a-half times thedefence budget.making the state much more streamlined with much less corruption, I have visited the UK Parliament,Indian Parliament, They come well prepared. That? Tell me how. And my broader thing would be.

besides PDS?financial inclusion… Actually there is a corollary to that. I met Sushil Modi [Bihar Finance Minister, Also,t think that it? You have to get into how we fundamentally deliver services to the people and the poor. Whatever. In another year or so,we are opening a business correspondent.when I look at what?

there is a Parliament, And if they say, Because the moment you make it public,