Here's an article posted and later taken off the blog on May 12, 2009. The Congress has won at the center, but my leader, Krishna Byregowda, has lost by a margin of 37,000 votes.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Of Mostly Ugly Leaders: Who Will Lead India?
Difficult question given that a major part of the last 62 years has seen the Congress ruling India. From the welfare government setting up heavy industries and recruiting 500% more labor than necessary in the fifties, the Congress government has come a long way. We can see biracial faces as leaders in Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. They are well educated, can speak chaste English (and even other European languages am told), are from a family of leaders, and look nothing like the common Indians. When the beautiful daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru married Parsi Feroze, the political career of the Nehrus would have been in jeopardy if our Gandhiji didn't accept Feroze as his son and give him his name. What strikes me as funny is why the rather handsome children of Feroze and Indira chose to keep the name of Mr Gandhi, who was decidedly ugly and very misguided. So now, we have as our leaders the Gandhis, who should ideally be called the Khans.
Befitting surname for a goodlooking family. I would have loved that. India's royal family, the Khans. After Rajiv Khan (Gandhi) was killed by the LTTE terrorists, it seemed that the royal family won't rule the Congress any more. But we Indians had served the Mughal kings, British kings, and the Queen for a long time and we needed that to continue. So, the beleagured and corrupt Congress leaders (I especially remember Sitaram Kesri, possibly the only man uglier than Gandhi and even Dhanno, the woman who killed Rajiv Khan) went and fell at the feet of Rajiv Khan's widow, Sonia. They wanted a queen to lead our famous democrazy. The people of India were divided on this issue...Sonia is an Italian Catholic. How can we let her lead the leading party of India, was the question people were asking. As a twenty-year old then, I didn't have an opinion about this. All I could say was, why not her? She is better looking than the Sitaram Kesris of the world and is also the mother of my childhood crush Priyanka Khan.
The Jansangh was another party that was coming up. About its history, please ask Manini Chatterjee. She knows a lot about their past. Apart from the fact that Shyamaprasad Mukherji was their founder leader, I didn't know much. I also knew that Shyamaprasad Mukherji was allegedly murdered in Russia. People in West Bengal will tell you it was Jawaharlal Nehru who plotted this murder, but who has proof? It is also alleged that Nehru got our fighter leader Subhas Chandra Bose captured and locked up in Russia till his death much later. But who knows all this for sure? So, the Jansangh later became the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and gradually turned into a formidable opposition under the able leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
So, what did the Congress do about the basic things that a country needs? Let's talk about industry, infrastructure, education, population control, creating employment opportunities, telecommunications, energy (electricity, hydro, renewable, solar, nuclear, etc.). Or let's not. For 62 years, a lot has happened. A lot that could have happened, hasn't. Everybody has a cellphone in India now, so it can be safely predicted that the number of Indians with brain tumors will soon reach manic proportions. Some states have prospered, some haven't, but we cannot generalize and squarely blame the Congress party for all that has gone wrong. For example, in West Bengal and Kerala, the communists have ruled. If these states don't have any roads, jobs, hospitals, schools, etc. you cannot blame the Congress for it, can you? But they do, the communists. The Congress had set up heavy industries in every state. In West Bengal there were steel plants and mining machinery to name a couple. But the communists ensured that these industries close down. They have the hammer and the sickle in their emblem, but all they ask their followers is to lay down the hammer and the sickle and just pick up red flags instead. Don't work, is their slogan. Don't work, but fight for your rights. Ask for more wages, ask for leave, ask for better working conditions. In a state of beggars where getting work itself is like striking gold, can you choose your working hours? About a hundred years before that, when the Industrial Revolution happened in the UK, people thronged the cities, lived in squalor and filth and choking drains, died in epidemics, sacrificed everything for a developed nation to be born. It would have been a lot better here, had it not been for the communists. If we worked when we should have worked, this nation would have gone a few more rungs up the ladder toward being called developed. But, thankfully, they couldn't spread their cancer to any other state and were beaten hollow elsewhere. They could survive only in the hot and humid states of Kerala and West Bengal, where people are genetically and geographically inclined to laziness. No wonder these states welcomed the communists as the entrepreneurs fled and the government institutions suffered a slow death.
They don't feature anywhere in the greater scheme of things, so we will not waste another paragraph talking about this misguided lot (rot), some of whose clean-shaven brethren in Delhi can be seen jumping around like midgets in the Parliament. They have no agenda, no qualms, no ideologies, except for jumping around against the ruling party. Oh, there's also a third front in India, where these insignificant idiots have found sympathizers. Oh lord, may the commies and the Third Front come under the great feet of Kumbhkarn one day, is our only prayer. If they ever come to power, they will all die fighting each other over portfolios. Imagine if PK held the external affairs portfolio? He would single-handedly screw up our relations with every other nation in the world. Our only friends will be Huge Chavez and Infidel Castro. Nothing against them... in fact I like them for giving it to Jr Bush, but hello, can we survive today by befriending these countries? The communists (secular, atheist, etc.) also like radical muslims a lot and have let them build terror schools in the name of madrassas all over West Bengal and Kerala. Why do you think no Muslim bombs are going off in these states?
Shit, those were two paragraphs of venting out my frustration. No way, will come back to the Congress and the BJP now.The Congress is a behemoth with one part of the body unaware of another. This party has attracted casual crooks who don't steal too much and are moderately corrupt, but don't have any ideology to talk about. The sarkari babus ask for chai paani, the police ask for bribes, and the wheel moves. Some people complain, but life goes on under the Congress. The Royal Family of the Khans humor us by trying to appear Indian in kurta/pajama and sari when they make a public appearance and it is a safe kingdom to live in if you can cover your eyes and ears at times.
There is no visible anti-incumbency to talk about, the rich are rich and the poor are poor. There is no insubordination whatsoever. Your maid listens to you and works like a slave the entire day for a pittance without a complaint. And you smilingly give her child your son's old bicycle. The peace and happiness is almost like an English fairy tale. How to topple them? How to bring discontent in the minds of people? How to usurp the throne? In comes the BJP with a new agenda: Hindutva.
Yeah, so what did the BJP do to come to power in 1999? How did this so called right-wing party manage to topple the Congress government? Well, they brought with them the trump card of Hindutva. Not a bad one, that. It appealed to many as they painstakingly started with how Gandhi was the first communal leader of India and appeased the Muslims in the name of secularism. This emotional tickling of the average Hindu yielded results in the cow belt. It is called the cow belt not because most Hindi-speaking people think like cows, but because in the states of Bihar, UP, MP, Rajasthan, etc. people worship the cow as one of their gods. We do have staunch Hindus in Maharastra and Gujarat as well, but they aren't part of the cow belt because they don't speak Hindi. I must find out more about the association of the cow with our national language.
Meanwhile, the small time crooks of the Congress party were aiming for higher levels of corruption and some of them got caught. Even poor Rajiv Khan got embroiled in a controversy involving the Bofors anti-aircraft guns deal. Apparently there were many kickbacks and some people got rich (it is still a nebulous thing to me) and there was another Italian involved who either made money or gave money or slept with somebody. We would never know. This gave BJP another trump card. They left no stone unturned to malign the name of the Congress in people's minds and came up to be reckoned as a powerful opposition. To keep their Hindu votes alive they also went and demolished a historical monument protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. 1992 was the darkest year for us. (The Talibans later emulated us and destroyed the great Bamiyan Budhha statues in the mountains of Afghanistan.)
It so happens that one Mr Valmiki once wrote an epic called the Ramayana. It was a good versus evil story in which the mythological character Rama wins over Ravana.
So, this Valmiki bloke wrote his story and many hundreds of years later it grew into an epic. Because most folklore traveled by mouth, new subplots were added at various points of time until this story became like a legend and Rama became a god to the people living in the cow belt.
Now, if Rama is god, the story becomes god's story. The places mentioned in the story gain more religious than historical significance. Valmiki, poor guy, mentioned a place called Ayodhya as Rama's birthplace. The BJP did some research and figured that the mosque in Ayodhya built by Emperor Babar in the 16th century was built upon an erstwhile Ram Temple. And they hit a jackpot. Let's tell the people of India that Rama was born here.
You should have seen what happened when they hatched this plot. It sounds absurd, doesn't it? But millions of people from all over the cow belt went to Ayodhya and demolished the Babri mosque, which you might have otherwise visited as a historical monument. The BJP was seen as a capable party who can "do" something. And this incident made India an unsafe place after 1992. With the Congress at the center doing nothing to stop this barbaric act, the Muslims were estranged and threatened. The petty and big criminals among them, who were busy smuggling and extorting money, got furious and funded the first serial bomb blasts in Bombay... in 93.
The picture of India started changing since then. If you see the Hindi movies made back in the 70s, we had smugglers to fight against. That place was taken over by the terrorists in the 90s. The Muslims needed a voice and some of them found it in the form of terrorism. Sadly, they didn't target the perpetrators of the crime but targeted the common Indian, who had nothing to do with the demolition of the Babri mosque. The BJP surged to power in 1999 with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the Prime Minister of India. If you look at it objectively, those weren't bad years for Indian business. The finance portfolio was held by Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh and they were not like Chidambaram of Congress. Chidambaram has always cut the wings of the common man by taxing him the maximum. BJP brought tax sops, made home loans cheaper, increased the forex reserves manifold and brought down the inflation. They started major infrastructure projects, one of which is the Golden Quadrilateral, connecting India by road. And what roads those were! All this made us wonder what was their need to come to power using the Hindutva bandwagon. They could have chanted the mantra of progress, prosperity, and industrialization instead. Foreign direct investment increased during their tenure and there were jobs created in India by multinational companies.
All was well save the Hindutva part. The right-wingers within BJP grew into Frankensteins and started going around as self proclaimed culture cops. If you think about it, these guys are even more misguided than the communists and are equally if not more dangerous. They captured liberal and forward thinking places like Goa and Bangalore and attacked the revellers there. And as part of their agenda to make these "western" places into regressive and backward places, they succeeded in spoiling BJP's game. In the name of Hinduism, which has always been the most tolerant of religions after Buddhism, they tried spreading fear and superstition in the minds of people. Sample this: our CM says on national television that one Mr Deve Gowda wants to kill him with black magic! There's more: funds allocated for the state government of Karnataka are publicly directed to Hindu temples! This is gradually getting worse than living in medieval Europe!
The other fallout of the Hindutva angle is the ire of the Muslim terrorists. They are constantly planting bombs under our asses almost in jest. You don't know when you will blow up. It is like a game of musical chairs. Who dies first?
So, whom did you choose? I chose a clean shaven Krishna Byregowda for Bangalore South. He has studied International relations in Washington, D.C., does not wear a white mark on his forehead proclaiming to be a Hindu, does not have a criminal record, and is just the kind of leader we should all go for: young, educated, clean, and with a purpose. He isn't as ugly as the others either. Let the wheel amble on, let there be corrupt officials (we can't change that because its human nature to be corrupt), let there be no roads, let there be no electricity...let life go on as it was in India all these years. Let's clutch our cellphones in the dark and for once not be afraid of being a woman, a Muslim, a Christian, or an atheist in India. Let's hope these young leaders (viz. Rahul Gandhi Khan, Omar Abdullah, Krishna Byregowda) take our country on another course and gradually change the way things work. I am eternally hopeful. I didn't have to live in any fear when I grew up under Congress rule. And that made me vote for the Congress again. Let's be back to being Indians.
P.S.: The Congress got a thumping majority. The country has voted out the regressive BJP and their Hindutva stand has bitten the dust. The earlier red bastion, West Bengal, has voted the Congress and its allies to power. Are the times changing? An African ruler of the world, Prabhakaran dead, the Talibans being hammered from both ends... is it all true?