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Catching up..

I am coming off more than a month-long hiatus from blogging. One of the reasons: I have become a dad again, with the birth of our baby boy (yet to be named) on Oct 12. However, I have been reading the usual newspapers and the occassional online columns/blogs.And as active as ever on Facebook.

I drafted a couple of posts in between on (1) the AP situation with respect to Jagan and the Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) and (2) Sachin Tendulkar completing 20 years in international cricket. Many people have written about Sachin, and in a much better manner. So, I decided to junk that post.

I have also junked the post on Jagan and OMC, but decided to salvage a few points. As far as the AP /Karnataka situation is concerned, here's my take at a high level:

1.The BJP, having benefited from the largesse and muscle power of the Bellary Reddys, cannot now survive in Karnataka without their backing. They have had it coming, and the desperate, pitiful manner in which the BJP high command ( a misnomer actually because the BJP's Dilli4 are neither high on ideals nor do they have any command) succumbed to the pressure tactics of the Reddy brothers does not bode well for that party in Karnataka.

2.The Congress, especially Madam Sonia and Prince Rahul, seem to be going from strength to strength. In case of Y.S.Jagan in AP, Sonia has been very firm to not allow him even a sniff at power at the State level. The big questions are: 1.Why has Sonia behaved this way 2. What impact will it have on State Congress

There have been many attempts in the mainstream media in AP to explain the answers to both the questions above.None very convincing, I must add. Only the Andhra Jyothy newspaper, where one of the assistant editors Aditya, writes insightful Op-Eds on state politics, has even come close to the real answers.

Firstly, the aftermath of YSR's demise and the public outpouring of grief in AP, was a real eye opener for even Sonia Gandhi and the coterie.The stunning wins for Congress in the Lok Sabha seats in AP during the general elections were explained away by typical Congress sycophants as due to the vote catching abilities of Sonia and Rahul.At best, they reasoned, YSR was good in ticket distribution and election day booth management. The emotional scenes after YSR's death showed them that the people of AP voted Congress not because of Sonia or Rahul, but mainly due to the charisma of YSR. For all his defects, the late YSR had a definite connect with the masses, much better than Chandra Babu Naidu ever had, and second only to what NTR had in his hey day.

Having seen how powerful an image YSR had created for himself, the Congress high command wanted all the benefit of that image to flow to the first family.And not to Jagan, who was seen basically as a businessman who took advantage of his father being in power.Also, YSR was always seen as a Gandhi family loyalist.Jagan is yet to prove his loyalist credentials.And there was the danger of a young Jagan getting ahead of himself and spoiling the show for Congress in 2014 by creating a wave of anti-incumbency.

So, the calculation was two fold: 1. Make Jagan wait his turn. If he agrees and behaves like a loyal Congress person and succeeds in fulfilling YSR's dream (41 out of 42 LS seats from AP for INC in 2014), reward him with a suitable position; could be CM or could be Union Minister. 2. If Jagan protests the decision, and tries to walk out of Congress, mollify him with a Union State Minister or Deputy CM or PCC Chief post.

One can say, with the benefit of hindsight of course, that the high command calculations worked perfectly. It is a possibility that some insiders on Jagan's side actually worked to push forward high command's agenda.Also, Jagan himself gave statements which were neither completely loyal nor fully rebellious. But by not agreeing to give him the Pulivendula MLA seat, the high command has had the last laugh.

How will this affect Congress in AP? The Congress party, especially the CM Rosaiah, has to tread a fine line between keeping Jagan in the fold by allowing some leeway in his (and his associates') business transactions, and at the same time, not allowing Jagan & friends to become financially so strong that they can hold the party to ransom. (Let us face it, all these parties, Congress, TDP, BJP etc. work only towards enriching their leaders and the associated business class). The issues surrounding the Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) point to this balancing act. Gali Janardhan Reddy and his associates can get away with the loot of public wealth provided their political backers in AP (Jagan & associates) toe the high command line. However, now that the issues have been raised and an investigation has been ordered, any time Jagan &Co raise the banner of revolt, the files can be dusted off and CBI asked to investigate. So, there you go.

Yes, Jagan could have handled this better.It is not that he underestimated the high command. I think he over estimated the sense of gratitude the Congress party had, towards his father and thereby his family. As one Congress insider put it: "Yes, definitely Sonia madam and the rest of the high command have a lot of gratitude for YSR's services to the party. They also want good things to happen to his son and other family members. The gratitude is at best worth some business contracts and a Union Minister of State post. Not the post of AP's CM."

However, good or bad, the fact is: majority of the MLAs were behind Jagan and wanted him to become CM. That it did not happen shows that none of these MLAs truly think of themselves as representatives of people. They feel that their MLA giri was due to Sonia's benevolence delivered via YSR.

If you look, a majority the ruling party MLAs of both AP and Karnataka neither have values nor a backbone.Politics, for these people, is a money making opportunity. The actual voters do not get into the equation at all, at any point. It also says a lot about us, the educated middle class, that we conveniently find fault with the MLAs and do nothing about the system that we have helped create.

And what kind of a system have we built up?

1. Six infants die in Vijayawada in a Govt hospital because the incubators and ventilators in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) were not functioning properly. The situation is the same at Niloufer Hospital in Hyderabad (the largest Paediatric Care center in AP).

2. The State treasury is in dire shape, there has been a severe drought, followed by devastation due to floods in several districts. Meanwhile, the TRS president K.Chandra Sekhar Rao threatens to do a 'fast unto death' as a final attempt to achieve Telangana, and over a thousand of his followers are ready with petrol cans so that they can immolate themselves if required !

3.Not just the cities, most of the rural areas, especially tribal areas are full of dengue, swine flu and cerebral malaria.It is a situation of medical emergency in the tribal areas. The State is busy fighting the naxalites.

4.Anantapur is one of the poorest districts in South Asia, not just India or AP.And it is one of the most mineral rich districts in AP.The Reddy brothers of Bellary, along with people who are associated with YS Jagan, are mining the iron ore and other minerals from the district and earning thousands of crores by exporting the raw material to China. The Govt gets a pitiful royalty, and hardly any money trickles down to the district and to the villages that have been displaced because of the mines.

5.Because the Govt has neglected primary education in rural areas, the attendance in these schools has come down drastically. Many rural primary and secondary schools have been closed due to very low student count (less than 10 per class). Some students joined private schools, whilst many have just left studies. What do you think is happening in the empty school buildings? Yes, you guessed it right - these empty school buildings have become gambling dens, and addas for sale and consumption of liquor during the day time. Don't ask me what happens at night.

When I see the bad state of civic infrastructure in Hyderabad and other cities, when I see the utter state of neglect of basic amenities in rural areas, I feel that some thing's gotta give. Things can not go on like this forever. Naxalism (Maoism) is not an answer. It is in fact, one of the problems.The current political culture needs to be transformed though. The poor have no voice and it is not fair to expect them to revolt (unless you take their lands). So, who will bell the cat? It has to be the educated middle class. At last count, we are around 300 million.Imagine, 30 crore !

India needs a middle class revolution.Every one I speak with agrees on that.Most people also agree that this revolution needs to happen within the democratic framework.And we have seen that a centralised, socialist, left leaning approach hasn't really worked.It has just made us into people who are apathetic towards the whole political process. What we need is a decentralised, ideology neutral framework that empowers local economies to flourish - in other words, an approach focused on individual effort and meritocracy.

There are a few, low scale, efforts going on in this direction across the country. The womens' self-help groups are being run professionally in at least a few places. There are people like Sharad Joshi and Jayaprakash Narayan who are speaking a different language compared to mainstream politicos. But when will these efforts attain a critical mass and replicate throughout the nation? Some of us expected the BJP to be that political force. We were mistaken. The BJP is just another imitator of the Congress, minus the dynasty.

Do we need a different political formation, a network of various small parties/peoples movements across the nation? What role will this generation, our generation play in this revival? Or will we be content to pass on the problems to the next generation, just like our parent generation did?

I know I am just asking questions.I am searching for the right answers. If you have managed to read this ramble till here, congratulations on your patience ! Please share your thoughts on the 'solutions' in the comments below.

Comments

Sachin said…
Hey Kumar, First of congradulations on becoming a proud pappa.

I agree to what you have written in your blog......somewhere all this has to come to an end. The middle class has to be blamed....because people like me only complain and do nothing and because of which these undeserved uneducated politicians are ruling us.
I also thought that BJP was the answer to some of our problems....because it really was a different party but once the Vajpayee govt was voted out of power, everything was broken into pieces.....and there also the biggest beneficiaries of the BJP govt policies ...the middle class did not vote for it. Now the present condition of BJP is beyond repair.

I want to share a personal experience, I come from a town called Bidar. From the last 2 years, Bidar from being the most backward distric in Karnatak had started to develop at a great speed. In just 2 years, Bidar's landscape turned around for better...and all this happened because of one young & dyanamic person Mr.Harsh Gupta (Distric Commissioner of Bidar. I work in Hyderabad and every time I visit Bidar....I just get pleasant surprises with the development work happening there.
But the tragic end to the story....Yediruppa transferred Mr. Harsh Gupta to another place....and as expected all the local politicians of Bidar are happy and celeberating the transfer.

One silver lining is, if one young person can do so much in such a short time then all is not lost....there is some hope.

I have now decided....I will never ever vote for BJP again.

Few of my random thoughts
Kumar Narasimha said…
Thanks@Sachin.

I remember Bidar as a dusty town from the days of prohibition AP (1994-96).Bidar being a border town, lots of people used to travel there to have a drink or two, and return to Hyd by night.Good to know some development has occurred, but it should not depend on one individual- whether a politician or a civil servant. The consciousness has to come from the people, and that is where, I believe the middle class has a role to play.

Thanks for the interest in my blog.Please keep visiting.
SI+Movement said…
I fully endorse your views Kumar saab. I am working in that direction in a different angle. Middle Class should be enlightened first. People like you are the best. I will promote your article.
Kumar Narasimha said…
Thanks for the nice words, SI+Movement.Wishing you all the best in your endeavours to do good for the society.

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