ninjariffic tales

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Who will be the next PM?
(aka what I think of the front runners)


Much has been written about Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati’s inventive politics and how she forged an unlikely alliance between Dalits and Brahmins to win an election in Uttar Pradesh in 2007. The pro-Dalit politician promised to widen the appeal of her party beyond her traditional Dalit voters and bring Brahmins and other upper castes into her programme of all-round development. As proof, she gave tickets to scores of Brahmins in 2007 and appointed a Brahmin (Satish Misra) as her chief adviser and strategist. The move paid rich dividends, securing an absolute majority for her party in a state that last saw single-party rule almost two decades ago. This move has paid dividends and she now her party’s front runner for the prime ministerial post. This time too, Mayawati has given tickets to about 20 Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh, but will that be enough?

Many believe that Mayawati’s Dalit-Brahmin plan is now frayed and analysts smell disenchantment in the air, given the fact that not much has changed for Brahmins who thought their vote for Mayawati would qualitatively change their lot in a state where the middle castes have by and large held sway over land and jobs. Brahmins are also miffed at the lack of access to the Brahmin ministers and lawmakers who seem have ensconced themselves in a cocoon of power and pelf. What remains to be see is whether Brahmin voters extract revenge now, undermining Mayawati’s ingenious politics of caste.

Mayawati does not hide her ambitions of becoming the next PM as she campaigns for the BSP. She urged people to vote for her party to ensure a pro-poor government. She added that if any one irrespective of background can become a prime minister, why cannot an educated and politically mature Dalit leader become the next prime minister?

Manmohan Singh

Dr. Manmohan Singh, commonly dubbed ‘the accidental politician’ has been called the Congress’ prime ministerial candidate again. The mild-mannered economist has not shaken off the title of Sonia Gandhi’s ‘yes man’ and many feel that he has failed as the nation’s PM. His first failure was in his ability to build political consensus within his party and allies over the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. Secondly, Dr. Singh has been unable to build a political constituency in support of his economic beliefs. He lacks the strength of conviction to admit this failure and there in lies his incompetence as a leader. Thirdly, his hypocrisy on electoral policies come back to haunt. In the aftermath of the Gujarat Riots Dr. Manmohan Singh lead a Congress delegation to the Election Commission impress upon the three-member Election Commission panel led by Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh the need to hold Assembly poll in Gujarat and militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir under the President’s rule. Although the “accidental politician” strongly voices his opinion on why elections are the best way to settle political questions and why he would not fight shy of contesting them, but the reality 7 years on is that he neither showed a faith in elections nor did he show the spine to contest in them.

Dr. Manmohan Singh is no “accidental politician” has drawn a lot of criticism especially from the Leader of Opposition, L K Advani who called him "weakest Prime Minister until now". Although this might be a harsh tag for the mild-mannered Sikh, I would call his 5-year-term unimpressive. In the last 5 years, he has held only one formal press conference and this was when Bombay came under attack on November 26. Even then, Dr. Singh took his time to address the nation and his speech was neither impressive nor reassuring. Dr Singh’s tenure as PM, on the other hand, facilitated stability at the Centre, something that would have never been possible had Sonia Gandhi become Prime Minister.

L K Advani

Advani has to be taken seriously because he represents a progressive step forward towards development for what his website calls “a strong, prosperous and self-confident India”. The Hindu hardliner has been coveting the post of Prime Minister for as long as I can remember. If the BJP and its allies manage to secure a majority, Advani will at last realize his dream. Advani believes that his hard-hitting nationalist personality presents a more self-confident India to the outside world and a suitable, secular and senior leader to the country. He is an administrative expert and popular amongst the masses. Among the loud voices of support to Advani, those against him are equally vocal. His image as a Hindu hardliner leader does not get him support from the other so called secular political parties, something which Atalj Behari Vaipayee enjoyed. His remarks over Jinnah are still fresh in the minds of Hindus and the party’s unkept promise of building the Ram temple at Ayodhya when they ruled at the Centre, has annoyed a vast majority of Hindus, especially the Sadhu Samaj.

Advani and the BJP have not really offered much to the ‘aam junta’ in this election, besides the promise to bring back black money holed up in Swiss accounts. The timing of the black money issue has sparked a lot of criticism from other parties, especially the Congress. Rahul Gandhi questioned why Advani did not even consider the black money issue when the NDA were in power. Kapil Sibal said that he was not aware of the legal procedures to repatriate such funds.

Rahul Gandhi

While the Congress has “officially” denied that Rahul Gandhi will be their PM candidate instead of Manmohan Singh, the sound bites have been the opposite in the past few days. Top Congress leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh himself, have made statements promoting Rahul Gandhi as the future PM. It appears that Congress is fishing for public reaction to Rahul Gandhi becoming the next PM should the UPA win the elections. Congress is treading softly this time in promoting Rahul Gandhi, given the strong negative public reaction in the last election to the prospect of Sonia Gandhi becoming the PM.

When Rahul Gandhi started in politics in 2004, he beat his nearest rival by nearly 200,000 votes. This time, his supporters say they will ensure his victory margin is doubled. 38-year-old Rahul Gandhi has undoubted support in his constituency, Amethi, where most people don't even know the names of other candidates. Since the 2004 elections when Rahul Gandhi took tentative steps into politics, he has now left the periphery of political life and moved into the mainstream. But his seemingly inevitable rise has not gone without some criticism. He is accused of being inarticulate and lacking in charisma that his father and grandmother exuded. They argue that he has yet to prove that he is ready for a larger role.

In my opinion, the Congress will not reveal who their PM will be. If the UPA manages a resounding victory, I have little doubt Manmohan Singh will may way for Rahul Gandhi and if the UPA loses, Dr. Singh will get the brickbats.


Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha is hoping to make her comeback to power with a bang. After being very quite after being shut out by the Congress in 2004 and while the DMK have been in power in the state, Jayalalitha joined the Third Front in the run up to Elections 2009. Many believe that she is perhaps the most corrupt politician but the successes of her government are many. She banned high interest private loans, which made borrowing a lot easier. The completion of the Veeranam Water Supply Scheme for Chennai and the initiation of the rain water harvesting scheme has managed to more or less eradicate the acute water shortages in almost the entire city. She managed to put an end to the reign of terror of forest bandit Veerappan. Women in Tamil Nadu have benefited by her schemes. The Rural Women Self Help Programme benefited thousands of women in villages. The introduction of all-women police stations has been a great success.

Where she failed was with the introduction of the Anticonversion law which banned conversion to other religions in the state and made her very unpopular. After the severe drubbing in the 2004 General Elections, she withdrew the law. Her detractors consider her style of Governance oppressive and she is ruthless with all those who oppose her. She recently attacked Karunanidhi at an election speech and alleged that he made a deal with the Sri Lankan President to hold the attack on the LTTE until after the elections. The articulate leader has shaken the government several times and is a force to be reckoned with. Whether she can make a difference at the Centre remains to be seen but if popular opinion is anything to go by, Jayalalitha may soon be back as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Narendra Modi

Few politicians have done so much to polarise Indian public opinion in recent years as Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Modi, often referred to as the merchant of death, first hit the headlines in 2002, when he was accused of failing to halt some of the worst communal violence India has ever seen that erupted after the train fire in the town of Godhra. More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in the ensuing violence and his opponents say he indirectly egged on Hindu mobs who are believed to have led most of the attacks. His supporters say he could have done little under the circumstances to prevent the violence. Since then, Modi has been seen as the face of militant Hinduism.

He may polarise public opinion in India, especially with the educated masses, but he has also been credited for bringing prosperity and development to Gujarat. The state's economy has been growing at more than 10% a year, significantly above the national average, and many Gujaratis are feeling wealthier. BJP recently indicated that Narendra Modi could be next in line to be the party's prime ministerial candidate after L K Advani giving a boost to the political ambitions of the Gujarat Chief Minister. BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad and Former Union minister and BJP's Rajya Sabha MP Arun Shourie also hinted Modi would be the BJP’s leader after Advani. The comments by Prasad and Shourie came weeks after eminent industrialists Sunil Bharti Mittal and Anil Ambani kicked up a storm when they openly rooted for Modi saying he should be the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP. This could be a long waiting game as Advani shows no signs of slowing down. But if Modi does become the PM, I shudder to think if this could mean the end of Indian secularism.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ink your finger

This is the first time I won't vote (well, since I turned 18 at least) in the Indian Elections because as an NRI, I've lost my right to vote in India. I have voted in one general election and two assembly elections and all three times, the candidate I voted for lost. Voting is more than just an exercise of universal adult franchise. To me, it means that I, a member of the so-called educated population, am saying that I will try to be part of the system that is trying to find a representative who will do what is right by his constituency and country. This sounds a bit preachy I know and I am aware that in many ways the Indian political system is defunct and we have more than our fair share of corrupt politicians. But by more and more 'educated' people voting, I am sure we will attract better candidates and hopefully better leaders.

Many people don't realise if they aren't happy with the representatives in their constituency, they can register a 'no vote'. Section 49(0) allows a person to go to a polling booth, register his/her presence by signing and then not vote for any candidate. Such votes are recorded by the presiding officer and considered a rejection of all candidates in the fray. We Indians don't have an excuse for not voting. We even get a day off work to go vote! So come on people, what's stopping you. Go get inked!

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Monday, July 09, 2007

What if your life takes a Kafka-esque twist and you are sentenced to life without parole, owing to some case of mistaken identity or administrative error? I am not being funny... seriously asking!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

MAN!!! Has it been a month already since my last post. Where did the time go? i just got back from our Mauritian holiday - posts and pics to follow.... Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Decisions! Decisions!

I'm confused! So after all that cribbing I did get myself one of them job things but now I don't know if I should take it... Its only kind of sort of what I want to do... far far far from my ideal job. So should I settle or keep looking??

Sigh I'm not liking being all growed up :(

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Reflection is the business of man; a sense of his state is his first duty: but who remembereth himself in joy? Is it not in mercy then that sorrow is alloted unto us?
William Shakespeare


I seem to be doing a lot of it lately and its not just any random rant. I am very specific.

Things I crib about:
1) oh i miss madras coupled with a rendition of yuck this city sucks,
2) its so hot! what sort of moron build a city in the desert and then sometimes what sort of moron marries a bigger moron who takes up a job in the desert,
3) (my personal fav) stupid city stupid media! gimme a job already

I'm leaving on a jet plane

Ok... not right away... but in 23 days! K and I are going to Mauritius and although I wont be swimming with sharks, I'm really looking forward to the scuba diving and lounging... and yes.. nicer weather!!!!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Tagged!! (Another excuse to not write a proper post)

10 things about me as requested by Bungz :

1. I'm currently looking for work and I never thought I'd miss working so much.

2. I miss Crusty!

3. I've become a lot more spiritual over the last year.

4. I'm going on holiday in June and I can't wait!!!

5. I'm obsessed with Las Vegas at the moment and I watched 8 episodes back-to-back on Wednesday.

6. My mum got here yesterday and its awesome to have her around.

7. My first documentary film was screened at a film festival.

8. I always wanted to go to med school but needles freak me out.

9. Last year this time if you told me I'd be married within a year, I would have laughed at you.

10. I want to swim with sharks :)

And...... I tag