Jaya Ho!

Defying all the experts and most opinion polls, Jayalalitha has created history by winning the current Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. She is the only politician after her mentor M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) who has been voted back to power consecutively and it took the people of Tamil Nadu 32 years to put an end to the ‘yo-yo’ culture of elections where they voted for the two Dravidian parties alternatively. Jayalalitha’s victory is even bigger than MGR because he fought his last elections in 1984 from a hospital bed in USA and for a state where people literally worship their actors, there was definitely a sympathy wave for the man. But, this was not a case with Jayalalitha who was fighting anti-incumbency but in spite of that she recorded a historic win with the vote share of AIADMK going up to 41% from 38.40% in 2011.

The 2016 elections would have been a cake walk for Jayalalitha given the lack of credible opposition in the state and the decent work that she has done during her stint. However, the floods in Chennai and nearby areas gave a breather to the opposition who were looking for reasons to attack Amma’s otherwise good tenure. AIADMK and its supremo drew a lot of flak for poor management during the Chennai floods and people were visibly disappointed because of the lack of help from the government. Rubbing on to their wounds were the followers of Amma who in a sick and blatant display of sycophancy, pasted posters of CM on the flood relief material. DMK through its mouthpiece Sun TV hit out at Jayalalitha by playing the images of victims crying for help.  Apart from the floods, closing of few industries, the rising debt were also issues plaguing her rule. So, how did she manage this feat?

PTI1_13_2016_000042B

Image Courtesy : PTI

 

“What does an old man know about his children? Only a mother knows what her children want?” said one of the supporters after Jayalalitha’s win. Though even at an age of 92, Karunanidhi won his home seat with a record margin of more than 68,000 votes, he couldn’t convince the voters outside that he is the best man to govern the state. Now Jayalalitha is also not in the best of her health but she seemed a better and a ‘young’ option when compared to the wheel chair bound Karunanidhi in his nineties. Many say that had the DMK, projected his son Stalin who was all out in the state campaigning, there were chances that they would have emerged as a formidable opposition. However, I believe that the cult which Jayalalitha enjoys and the charisma she has, Stalin could have never matched! Also, the taint of 2G and other corruption charges hasn’t peeled off yet.

Jayalalitha’s social welfare schemes were a runaway hit and contributed a lot to her victory. Out of the various schemes, Amma Ungavam (Canteen) were the most talked about. These canteens which serve Idli at ₹1, Sambhar Rice at ₹5 and Curd Rice at ₹3 were immensely popular among all sections of the society. From workers to students and corporate employees to women, they all lined up at the Ungavams. Apart from these, Amma Baby Kit, Amma Cement, Amma Seeds and Amma pharmacies also served as an icing on the cake. A lot of these schemes were targeted at the women who constitute about 2.1 crore of the population. From marriage assistance to four grams gold (which she has promised to raise to eight grams) and promising prohibition to scooty; she won the women vote easily.

Interestingly, Tamil Nadu for the first time witnessed a four party contest with DMDK and PMK also contesting and ideally, this would have made the elections even tougher. To be fair, even I was mighty impressed with the speeches of Captain’s wife and the comparatively young Ramadoss who was quite good as the Union Health Minister and was expecting that both parties will win some seats. However, both the parties lost miserably and couldn’t manage a single seat. What was surprising was that even Vijayakanth and Anbumani Ramadoss lost. This only helped the two Dravidian parties and the supposedly king-makers turned out to be paupers.

Jayalalitha is one of the most successful politicians in the country and her rise to power has been nothing but extraordinary. After the death of her mentor and AIADMK Chief MGR, the party was split into two with MGR’s wife Janaki becoming the Chief Minister for a short span and leading one fraction of the party. However, her government was dismissed by the Centre following a lot of drama and it saw the rise of Jayalalitha. For someone who shared a deeper and emotional bond with MGR, she was called a ‘prostitute’ while she stood near the dead body of his mentor continuously for 2 days. In 1989, DMK supporters pulled down her saree in the Tamil Nadu Assembly when a visibly upset Jayalalitha vowed to return to the Assembly as the Chief Minister which she did and that too more than once. She has fought many battles and the fighter in her has always emerged as a winner. She went to jail in the disproportionate assets case but returned back victorious after being acquitted by the Karnataka High Court. She has been the one who has truly carried forward the legacy of MGR and kept the party alive.

The cult and blind following which Jayalalitha enjoys is unmatched and not even our otherwise famous PM Narendra Modi enjoys it. Her journey from a film star to politician has been stunning. She has emerged as a mother figure (Amma) for the people of Tamil Nadu. She has done a lot of good work for the state and I am sure she will continue to do so. The reclusive and media shy Amma, addressed just 22 meetings in the last two months in the run up to elections. People say she cannot walk properly now which was visible when she came out to vote. Her new tenure will of course see less of her with the team driving the state affairs. But can it go on like this forever?  Though it’s too early to say anything, it’s less likely that AIADMK will be back in 2021 given the double anti-incumbency it will be facing. Also, Amma’s health remains a concern. As a Jayalalitha fan, I would like her to retire gracefully and that too when she is in power and not when she is voted out by the people. But an important question is that who after her can drive the party?

All the best, Amma. Lots of good luck and best wishes from a fan!

Advertisements

An Open Letter to Supriyo Mukherjee Responsible For The Death Of Intellect

Hello Mr. Supriyo Mukherjee,

Hope this letter finds you in the pink of your health. You may accuse me of stereotyping but your surname suggests that you’re a Bengali and I am sure you enjoy your fish and mutton like most Bengalis do.

Anyway, coming back to the letter which you wrote accusing the BJP MLA of beating & killing a horse. Frankly, I was quite amused that the Editor at Scoop Whoop allowed it to be published given the fact that your letter completely ignores the facts of the case. But then I don’t expect any ‘investigative journalism’ from Scoop Whoop writers so let me help you understand how Shaktiman fractured his leg. As you can see in the video, Shaktiman’s leg got stuck in an iron railing and while trying to rebalance he fractured his leg. The following paragraph from an NDTV story on the same reaffirms the fact that BJP MLA “did not strike the horse”.  

1

What kind of a human are you if you have to cook up stories to get your fucking piece get some hits? You were so busy proving how Ganesh Joshi hit Shaktimaan (even when there were videos which clearly proved otherwise). Sorry to burst your outrage bubble but Mr. Mukherjee, you got it all wrong!

Untitled-1

Source: OpIndia

 

How fucked up should your cause be if you need to harm an individual to get your story some hits?

You point out that BJP doesn’t think twice about calling homosexuality a mental disorder. One, you are quoting an individual’s tweet which nowhere qualifies to be the stand of the “party”. Two, if you still think it does; then let me quote Arun Jaitley who recently said that “SC must review Section 377 & allow gay relationships”.

How will you sleep peacefully at night knowing that you falsely accuse someone of a crime and the incorrect letter will be read by many?

May this case come as a harsh realisation and a severe blow to your airy castle built on high moral ground but there are many in our country who vote for Mr. Yadav or Mr. Khan or Mr. Gandhi. They vote for their caste representative. Yes, it doesn’t fucking matter whether you like any particular political party, you can at least vote for your caste & community leader during elections. Had it not been the case, Rahul Gandhi wouldn’t have been still the MP from Amethi & a convicted Lalu Prasad Yadav’s party wouldn’t have won in the recent Bihar elections.

Mr. Mukherjee, we know that you’re telling us that Ganesh Joshi is guilty but we’ve all seen the videos and the photographs. You might not have intentionally written this letter but the stupidity is on your hands.

You cleverly say that this is not a question of animal cruelty or a debate on whether the consumption of animal protein is right or not because you know you’re on a sticky wicket here. Personally, I am a vegetarian and I am totally cool with anyone eating anything (beef, pork or whatever). But I have issues with selective outrage. More so, when the outrage comes from non-vegetarians. If you are someone who believes that the beef ban by certain state governments was wrong then why this hypocrisy of being empathetic when a horse is dead? Interestingly, you quote Mahatama Gandhi who was one of the strongest proponent of cow protection.  Quite melodramatically, you say that the blood of Shaktiman is on Ganesh Joshi’s hands. LOL! Just like the blood of every Hilsa fish is on your hand every time you eat one.

Isn’t it fucking ridiculous how you wouldn’t have written a letter had Shaktimaan been a cow? Are we being that stupid?

We, as a nation, have failed the citizens when we give writers like you a platform. You have failed all the writers and the country.

 

– A concerned human being.

Punjab : How AAP is playing with fire

After making a surprisingly spectacular debut in the Delhi elections last year, Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal are eyeing the state of Punjab which is due for elections next year. The choice of state shouldn’t come as a surprise as Punjab is the only state in India which gave the Aam Aadmi Party 4 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 general elections. Icing on the cake is that the ruling SAD-BJP is facing anti-incumbency and with Congress still getting its act together under Captain Amarinder Singh (Who has strong chances of winning); people of Punjab are searching for an alternative.

In his one year tenure as Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal has been more in news for blaming the center and Prime Minister than his own achievements as Chief Minister. He is a shrewd politician and though he is new to politics he has learned the tricks in no time; so much that he can give the old school netas a run for their money. Neither does he shy away from talking about his ‘baniya’ caste while addressing the traders nor does he mind wearing a skull cap or a ‘pag‘ depending upon his audience. He has skillfully mastered the art of perception where he is seen as an anti-corruption crusader even after hugging and supporting a convicted politician like Lalu Prasad Yadav or by remaining mum on the National Herald Case involving the Gandhis. Of late he is emerging as a wile politician who is far away from the one that promised a ‘different’ politics in his campaigns. A farmer died in his rally while he continued giving his speech blaming the Delhi Police. An illegal slum was (rightly) demolished by the Railway Ministry but Arvind Kejriwal again blamed the centre thus securing his vote bank. He recently visited Hyderabad University to show solidarity with the ‘Dalit’ students who also happen to be sympathizers of a dreaded terrorist like Yakub Memon.

Earlier this year, Baijayant Jay Panda who happens to be the Member of Parliament from Odisha and is widely respected across political parties; tweeted something very intriguing.  He of course did not name anyone in his tweet but one has to be really stupid to not to discover the underlying message in these 140 characters.

In Punjab, we are seeing an interesting yet dangerous trend where Aam Aadmi Party is cozying up with hardliners and giving fuel to the dormant Khalistani sentiments among them. The first signs of this came in 2014 when Arvind Kejriwal and AAP supported the protests by radical Sikhs for the premature release of Sikh militants.  Dharamveer Gandhi; its own MP from Patiala said that his party is playing a “dangerous game”.

Somewhere in April 2014, United Sikh Movement, which is led by former Khalistanis like Gurdeep Singh Brar & Bhai Mohkam Singh have extended their full support to AAP. Bhai Mohkam Singh is the former chief spokesperson of the Damdami Taksal, the Sikh institute once led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale. Baljit Singh Daduwal, radical Sikh leader even went a step further declaring that he would like to ‘publicly honour’ Arvind Kejriwal.

In November 2014, Sarbat Khalsa organized a mammoth rally in Punjab which saw lakhs of Sikhs attending the meeting. At this congregation, the dominant theme was ‘Struggle for a Sikh Raj’ and although no formal resolution was passed but the ‘panthic’ committee made the demand for the same subsequently.  AAP’s Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chottepur supported this gathering saying it is an outcome of people’s anger against the government. However, SAD president Simranjit Singh Mann said “Sarbat Khalsa was a Khalistani stage and everyone knew it”. Former AAP leader Yogendra Singh Yadav alleged that AAP convenor Sucha Singh had supported all the resolutions adopted at the meeting (though he refused).

Sabrat-Khalsa_Vantage_The-Caravan-Magazine_11-Nov-2015-700x362

Last but not the least, we all know the infamous journalist Jarnail Singh who made news in 2009 when he hurled a shoe at P. Chidambram. But what many don’t know are his views on Khalistan and that he had addressed a rally in London in 2011 showing support for the creation of a separate Sikh state. Surprisingly, Arvind Kejriwal gave him a ticket in 2015 Delhi Assembly elections and he is today an MP.

B4ynMWsIgAAp6l2.jpg

AAP MLA, Jarnail Singh addressing a Khalistan supporters rally in London, 2011

 

‘Jab boya ped babool ka toh aam kahan se khaaye’ This wise saying by Kabir is the best advise for AAP. Indira Gandhi nurtured Bhindranwale for political gains, he became a nuisance and she lost her life at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards who were sympathizers of Bhindranwale. Benazir Bhutto as PM allowed the Taliban to grow and co-incidentally she was assassinated by them. AAP must take cue from history and introspect a little because they are literally playing with fire.

Insurgency in Punjab was one of the darkest periods in India. We had successfully ended it with the killing of Bhindranwale in 1984 but it’s on the rise again and the secessionist sentiment is slowly growing.There is a lot of funding coming in India from Sikhs in overseas; particularly in the United Kingdom and Canada for the Khalistani movement revival. Dal Khalsa, a separatist organization has recently supported Hurriyat’s call of boycotting Republic Day in Kashmir and want the same to be done in Punjab. This is eerily similar to what started in the 1980’s. It’s time we nip it right in the bud!

 

Raise a toast, to Margarita!

Margarita with a straw opens up with Revathy driving a Matador on the streets of Delhi with her husband sitting beside her. Her daughter Laila (Kalki Koechlin) is confined to a wheel chair because of cerebral palsy and is bisexual. Shonali Bose gives us two women who have been unheard and unseen of in our Indian films.

The film through its protagonist Laila talks about the sexual desires of the disabled (I hate the word differently-abled). Like everyone else, they also have feelings and it is actually quite “normal” that they desire someone. So, Laila has a crush on one of the boys in her college, she watches porn, openly lusts and also masturbates. She is a free-spirited girl who has not let her condition define her. She is an uninhibited soul who shows middle finger to a judge in a music competition because she awarded Laila due to the sympathy factor. The film effortlessly talks about Laila’s journey of self-discovery, her endeavour to come to terms with her bisexuality and her angst in ‘coming out’ to her mother. Shonali Bose is unafraid of showing sex between Laila and Khanum (Superb Sayani Gupta) & she does it beautifully without any titillation.

CC7f40tWIAABDbT

However, the heart of Margarita with a Straw is the relationship which Laila shares with her Aai (Revathy). Aai’s relationship is filled with warmth, love and understanding. She teaches Laila music, bathes her, combs her hair, helps her put on the clothes, approves her decision to go abroad and study even though her husband opposes and like every mother she is frustrated when she finds out her daughter watches porn and is bisexual. Revathy is absolutely brilliant and spontaneous in her role that we all can see our mother in her.

Director Shonali Bose lost her son few years back and she has often talked about it on her Facebook page and one can feel the personal loss in the film when Laila loses her mother. The death of Aai is one of the most poignant and heart warming scenes which I have seen in a film of late. Watch out for the scene when Laila sits next to her Aai’s dead body with her poem playing in the background. I sobbed, I cried and I howled.

As the film ended, I wasn’t feeling pity or sympathetic for Laila and that is exactly what Shonali Bose wanted from us. She doesn’t create a martyr out of Laila. She is like one of us with flaws. Kalki Koechlin literally breathes the character of Laila. From movements to speech; she gets it all correct. This is undoubtedly her best performance till date and probably the strongest by any female actor in recent times. There are very few film which have heart at the right place; this is definitely one of those. Dear Shonali Bose, take a bow!

7 Reasons why you should not vote for AAP!

As Delhi goes to polls on 7th February 2015, I give you 7 reasons why you should NOT vote for the Aam Aadmi Party!

  1. 49 and Retired Hurt!

As somebody who earns his daily bread and butter from Recruitments; let me explain this in HR terms. There is a candidate who desperately needs a job & is after me (begging) to consider him. I accept his candidature, find him good for the job & hire him. He works for 49 days and then absconds from the organization. After one year he comes back to me asking for the job. Will I give him the job? The answer is NO!

Here, ‘Delhi’ is the organization, ‘Arvind Kejriwal’ is the candidate and ‘Delhiites’ are the HR.

  1. Economic Policies

AAP’s economic vision is best explained by Arvind Kejriwal, who hates the private sector for ‘looting’ the country & its resources that belong to Indians. This is much in tandem with what Nehru & Indira believed in. They tried to nationalize most sectors of enterprise and pushed in the people’s money into the public sector.  It was only after these companies failed to record any profits; doors to the private sector were slightly opened.

As the capital of the country Delhi is not even close to the standards set by world class capital cities. Delhi needs investments; Delhi needs infrastructure; Delhi needs employment; Delhi needs development.  And this will come with the help of corporate whom Arvind Kejriwal and his left leaning socialist colleagues like Prashant Bhushan hate.

AAP’s economic vision is to oppose privatization, increase subsidy on electricity and fuel and take away the exemptions thereby increasing the effective taxes.  While the BJP is promising 24 hour electricity; populist and subsidy loving AAP is offering cheaper electricity. Decision is yours!

  1. Regionalism

Delhi is probably the only city in the country that can boast off of being ‘cosmopolitan’ in true sense. While every state and Union territories have a native population/ethnic groups; Delhi’s ethnic groups are diverse.  Historically speaking, the original natives of Delhi were folks who resided somewhere in the Yamuna basin which stretched several kilometres beyond what is today’s Delhi. Yes, it is an ancient city which was once called ‘Indraprastha’ under the rule of Pandavas but Pandavas were also ‘outsiders’.

Today Delhi comprises of Punjabis who migrated from Pakistan after partition, Bengalis who moved when the British capital shifted from Calcutta to Delhi and many other ethnic groups ranging from the ‘Jats’ of Haryana to the ‘Tamilians’ of Tamil Nadu. There are no concrete statistics that trace the descent of Delhiites.

In its 49 day stint, AAP wanted to reserve 90% seats in the Delhi University colleges for the locals and a proposal was sent to the Central Government by the Education Minister Mr. Manish Sisodia. Apart from the fact that many students from different cities and towns come to Delhi for studies; this proposal also gives rise to regionalism. How different is this from Shiv Sena and MNS in the Maharashtra who want to send the immigrants back to where they belong?

Hence, if not for anything else, just for the spirit of Delhi you should not vote for AAP.

AAP

  1. Arvind KejrUwal: Nothing is permanent in politics; friends turn foes and foes become friends. So, ideally one shouldn’t make much hue and cry about few statements which are made while campaigning. But, Arvind Kejriwal is GOD -Honest, truthful, divine & God is not allowed to make mistakes. Here are some of the U-Turns of Mr. Kejriwal:
  • From ‘I don’t want to join politics’ to becoming the Chief Minister of Delhi
  • ‘I swear on my children that I will not take support of Congress’ to taking support of Congress
  • Shiela Dikshit is corrupt to where is the proof that she is corrupt when in power

The list can go on; in fact there is a Facebook page dedicated to the ‘U-Turns’ by Aam Aadmi Party. Might help to decide as to why NOT to vote for AAP!

  1. Vigilantism: Prashant Bhushan had asked for a referendum in Kashmir over the deployment of Army in the valley. So what if Jihadi’s from the border infiltrate on a daily basis and kill our soldiers? He also wanted the ‘extra police’ to be removed from Maoist areas. So what if these Naxals blow up CRPF Jawans? AAP also did a silly ‘SMS’ poll about forming government in Delhi. This vigilantism endorsed and adopted by the party scares me and is definitely not the solution in a country which is run by ‘law’. God forbid, if tomorrow people want a rapist to be ‘stoned to death’; will AAP agree?

As someone said ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty’. So, respect the system, laws, constitution and protect your liberty!

  1. Anarchist Aadmi Party: The last thing Delhi needs is a CM sleeping on roads and staging a dharna every other day. Enough said!
  1. Kiran Bedi: Last but not the least, KIRAN BEDI! Though it’s not announced yet, she is most likely to be the Chief Minister candidate of the BJP. As Ms. Kiran Bedi rightly said in her press conference while joining the BJP “Mere pass 40 saal ka administrative experience hai”. So, what will you choose? 49 Days of anarchy & dharnas or 40 years of solid administrative experience?

1000 Weeks of DDLJ: Come Fall in Love!

I was in Standard Fourth when Aditya Chopra’s ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaenge’ had released. Most of my cousins and friends in the school had seen it and they couldn’t stop raving about it. I remember coaxing and nagging my father (who isn’t a movie enthusiast) for the tickets and he obliged after a couple of weeks. Those days we didn’t have any vehicle, so mounting on a cycle-rickshaw with me sitting on my mother’s lap in the chilling winters of Jaipur we went to ‘Rajmandir’ for the night show. I saw the film again in Bombay with my cousins in the 1996 summer vacations. I saw it yet again in 2006 in Noida when the multiplexes re-released it for some reason. And I see it again every time it is aired on the television. Such was the euphoria of the film that more than our school lessons we grew up by hearting the famous dialogues from the film and even today we have this silly competition of ‘Who remembers the exact dialogues before the actors in the film speak’ every time it is played on the cable.

Most love stories made in those times often saw the hero & heroine defying their parents and running away, either to get married or to get killed by the parents. DDLJ came with a breath of fresh air where neither the lovers fought against the entire world nor did they succumb to the bullets in slow motion; here the lovers submitted to the older generations’ authority and made a strong moral case which they eventually won!  DDLJ was also the ‘coolest’ ever film to be made and that too at a time when India was at the cusp of globalization and liberalization. From Shah Rukh’s leather jackets to Kajol’s halter neck gowns; from Tang to Strauh’s beer; from Yamaha bike to bullet trains – everything about the film was trendy and cool.

download

The brilliance of DDLJ lies in the fact that it blended tradition with modernity till one could hardly distinguish between the two. Here, we had a wife who fasts for her husband on Karwa Chauth (traditional) but she is also a mother who is strong (modern?) enough to go against her husband’s diktat and ask her daughter to elope. We had a Simran who is engaged but she dares and falls in love with someone on a trip (modern); however, the thought that she had sex with him freaks her out (traditional?). We also had the lover boy Raj who falls in love with Simran but is not game towards the idea of eloping without the blessings of his lover’s parents (traditional). The film depicts this battle between the past and the present, and between individual desire and societal customs. Hence, I respectfully disagree with folks who argue that the film was ‘regressive’.

One of the many reasons I love the film is because of the old world charm it has. Had it been made today, Raj & Simran would have had sex the moment Simran knocked off after sipping Cognac. But, here we had a couple who never even say the ‘3 magical words’ to each other but love each other unabashedly and passionately. In fact, Raj & Simran singing ‘Tujhe Dekha Toh’ in mustard field is greater than an bloody sex scene in movies. Aah! The magic of Shah Rukh and Kajol who became the eternally romantic onscreen couple after this and even today there is no one who can match their chemistry both on screen and off screen.

I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that it taught an entire generation to fall in love. Shah Rukh of course made it difficult for boys like us as every girl expected us to be ‘Raj’. However, it gave us hope.  If a girl in college made an eye-contact with us then we all would turn to God and say ‘Palat’ because if she did then it somewhere meant that she liked us. We all wanted to impress the mothers just like Raj helped Simran’s mother because it clearly meant that half your battle is won. “What if you have fallen in love, with someone like me?” The hypothetical situation was many times enacted whenever we wanted to test our chances with someone. Oh! And how can I forget keeping ‘Karwa Chauth’ fast just like Raj did for Simran?

DDLJ is a film which has heart at the right place. Even after watching the film umpteenth number of times, I still can’t hold my tears when Farida Jalal talks about the sacrifices of women with her daughter and I can’t stop smilling when Simran finally hold Raj’s hand and boards the train.

DDLJ is the bible of onscreen romance in films. It is like an old wine whose taste has only become better with each passing year. 1000 weeks? Give me 1000 more!

My favorite moments from the film:

Letter to Sagarika Ghose: All Rightists aren’t ‘communal’ or ‘Sanghi’

Dear Sagarika Ghose,

Hope this letter finds you in the pink green of your health. I happened to read your piece Letter to India’s Right last week where you had written a letter addressing the right wingers and have lectured them on dissent & freedom of speech. As a right winger, I believe that the letter was addressed to me too and since etiquette says that one should respond to letters; here I shoot!

First things first, you accuse us of making social media a propaganda arm of the government & compare us to a “ferocious army”. LOLJK! I was quite amused when I read it because it was coming from the (ex) deputy editor of a channel which chose to edit the infamous ‘Cash for Votes’ scandal video after receiving a call from Mr. Prithviraj Chavan. So, what propaganda are we talking about? Also, for your kind information, social media can be used by any one Sagarika. I repeat anyone; like you use it for your ‘propaganda’ of maligning the entire right wing. And given the fact that we support the government of the day; what else do you expect us to do? You also say that to be pro-government and pro-establishment is now de rigeur on social media. How I wish it was true. At least we would have escaped from the zero IQ tweets where you rant so much about the government.

On Saturday, 1st November 2014, twitter suspended a couple of accounts and most of these were the soldiers of the “ferocious army”. Poor us! We soldiers can’t protect our own accounts on twitter & you ask why we are seeking to shut down all our critics & opposition? On the contrary, I would like to remind you that it was the “Left Liberal” Congress which tried to stifle the voices of dissent when it was in power. Remember how Kapil Sibal instructed Google & Facebook to ‘screen’ content? I hope you at least remember the suspension of twitter accounts of your fraternity folks – Kanchan Gupta, Shashi Shekhar et al. Did you write a letter to the secular government? No? Okay!

images (1)

Also, since you feel we are shutting down voices of dissent, I must give you a quick revision of history.  India has a long standing record of banning books and films. Yes, the BJP & other right wing parties have done it but the “left-liberal” Congress & CPM governments don’t have a good track record too. Nehru: A Political Biography by Michael Edwards, was banned in 1975 because the author made sweeping comments about Nehru such as that his life was a “series of dependences (sic) on stronger characters than his own”. India Independent by French historian Charles Bettelheim was banned in 1976 because it was critical of the government policies. The True Furqan: The 21st century Quran, originally written in Arabic as al-Furqan al-Haqq, was banned in 2005 following claims that it mocked Islam and was the work of American evangelists as part of a US-Israeli conspiracy. The left front in Bengal promoted a ban on Taslima Nasreen’s Lajja which talked about the atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh following the Babri Masjid demolition. The smart, charming & suave Rajiv Gandhi banned Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses because it offended his vote bank of Muslims. Last but not the least, Javier Moro’s The Red Sari which was supposedly based on the life of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi was banned in 2005. The list can go on but you are an intelligent & well read journalist so I am sure you got the point!

It is also heartening to see you talk about debate & dissent. After all, you believe in the right to dissent so much that you blocked me on twitter for reasons best known to you. Why is satire not acceptable? Why is dissent not to be tolerated?  For you, any critic of the media or the Congress is an “Internet Hindu”; any hint of disagreement and one becomes a “Sanghi”; any small critique means one is a “minority-hater”, “communal”, “Khakhi knicker wallah”, who must instantly take up membership with the RSS or Bajrang Dal.

I have always condemned the demolition of Babri Masjid and I regard it as a blot on India’s democracy. My heart went out to the crying widows and children who lost their loved ones in the Godhra riots. I believe that the attack on Christians in Kandhmal was shameful. And guess what? I know a hell LOT of rightists who share the same emotions because though you paint all rightists as ‘blood thirsty-minority hating’ species, we are human beings at the end and are made of same blood & flesh like you.

Having said that, I don’t suffer from selective amnesia like you. I castigate the Sikh pogrom in Delhi & the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits also. My heart bleeds equally for the Hindus who died in Godhra riots & in the Sabarmati express in 2002. I also feel strongly for your fellow Bengalis in Deganga who were tortured by mobs from minority community in 2010.  It was good when you visited the Muzzafarnagar riot victims in the camps but I would have loved if you had visited the refugee camps where Kashmiri Pandits are living since last two decades; just like you wanted Mr. Narendra Modi to visit the Gyanvyapi mosque after visiting the Ganga ghat.  As a nationalist, I felt outraged when a group of Muslims in Azad Maidan vandalised the ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’.I also feel angry when my fellow countrymen show disrespect to the national song, anthem & refuse to sing it and no ‘freedom of speech’ crap justifies it.  If I question the media for selective outrage & coverage and if that makes me communal then so be it!

Lastly, you question us on our economic policies. Now it’s kinda cute that somebody who never questioned the ‘economist’ PM for the falling economy is asking questions within 5 months of the government formation. The fact that inflation today is at a 3 year low, World Bank predicting a healthy 5.6 % GDP growth & Moody predicting a rating ‘upgrade’ for India speak a lot about the economic policies of the government. Of course, government deregulating diesel prices, increasing the FDI cap in defence, aviation & real estate, raising the income tax exemption limit by Rs 50,000 for all taxpayers below 80 years of age, reducing the excise duty on food & footwear industries mean nothing to you.

Just to give you a perspective, India when last had the right-wing government at the centre saw huge economic growth. Vajpayee in his tenure showed true commitment to liberalizing reforms. For example, Life and general insurance were opened to the private sector with foreign investment permitted up to 26 per cent. The small-scale industries reservation was substantially ended. In the area of macroeconomics, the government had freed administered interest rates on many government savings instruments, which had held the rate above market rates. The inflation rate below 5 per cent reflected on the government’s success in streamlining the monetary policy. The current account deficit had remained low during the NDA rule showing a modest current account surplus. The rupee had remained stable with foreign exchange reserves rising from $29.4 billion at the end of March 1998 to $113 billion at the end of March 2004.

Over the past few years, you have created a mainstream thinking that it is almost a taboo to carry the right wing label which conjures up to images of Trishul holding fanatics who are out to slaughter minorities or anyone who disagrees with them. Historically, cultural nationalism or brute majoritarianism have been associated with the extreme right. But, extreme left has been equally destructive. If Adolf Hitler committed innumerable crimes in the garb of right wing politics; so did Joseph Stalin in the name of left wing politics. Fortunately, in India there is little or no room for the either extremes so we can either lean to the left or to the right while standing at the centre.

Yours truly

Rahul Sharma