The need for corruption

You know what, I have a huge admiration for Karan Thappar. What makes him different than the rest of interviewers from the Indian television scene is that, he is well-researched and very much up to the point in many of his interviews, rather than throwing some silly questions and being happy and content in just asking some questions.

Here he puts forward a good thought in an interview with Farooq Abdullah while they talk about Shashi Tharoor and the recent IPL controversy:

Farooq Abdullah: I don’t think so, I don’t think he needs to be corrupt

Karan Thapar: He doesn’t need to be?

Farooq Abdullah: No

Karan Thapar: Need doesn’t determine corruption.

Ever since Tharoor was contesting for MP from Trivandrum, the people who were supportive of him was of the opinion that he could not be corrupt like the other politicians because he doesn’t need to be corrupt. Because he gets – and they made up some big figures about this – a large amount of pension from United Nations and runs his own business. Some say it is 40 lakhs per month. Some say its more than that. But I really don’t get that point. Is privately owned wealth a good reason enough to claim that people wouldn’t be or needn’t be corrupt? If so, why isn’t that kind excuse offered to other rich and allegedly-corrupt politicians in India? How is Shashi Tharoor any different?

Kabhi Shashi, Kabhi Game

Now that Modi’s links with IPL team owners of Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab have emerged, the whole IPL controversy is getting more interesting, wide and ugly. I think there is enough material to make a movie out of the whole story. There is glamor, big money and beautiful women involved. What more do you need to make a good story line for a Bollywood movie?

So here is announcing the movie (title suggested by @rameshnair):


Kabhi Shashi, Kabhi Game
The story of an interlocutor and his friends


The movie will have two versions. In South India, Shashi is the hero and Modi is the villain. Up in the North, it is Modi in the lead and Shashi, the villain. Sreesanth will play the role of a crouching tiger in both the versions. Make up and costumes will be handled by Ms. Pushkar.

In the North Indian climax, the other Modi, Modi N, will be seen protecting Modi L and finally securing an IPL team for Ahmedabad and Shashi will be seen being left alone with a beautician in the Chala market in Thiruvananthapuram, looking for land with cheap prices to build IT parks.

In the South Indian climax, Shashi will win over Modi L, securing an IPL team for Kochi and building a cricket stadium near the Smart City project area. Modi L will be seen being left alone  with a South African model and sniffing 5 grams of Cocaine.

Part of the profits made from the movie will go to Mr. Modi and Twitter. We are looking for prospective producers for the movie, so do start bidding. And yes, multiple stake holders who are family members, friends and acquaintances of yours are welcomed.

Austerity is Expensively Inexpensive

For you, to think about.

Ms Sonia Gandhi’s trip to Mumbai, accompanied by SPG, meant that the first three rows of the economy seating area were not available to regular passengers. Mr Gandhi’s train journey to Ludhiana required 200 policemen each to be deployed at New Delhi and Ludhiana stations. In spite of that, the security risk was not fully averted as there was stone pelting on the return journey. Also, there can be little justification for the 77-year old foreign minister S M Krishna to undertake a four-day visit to Belarus and Turkmenistan on a commercial carrier. [via]

Trivandrum Poll Prediction by an Auto Driver

Today I asked an auto rickshaw driver in Trivandrum about his thoughts on the results of upcoming elections in Trivandrum constituency. It is really amazing to see the common man’s political awareness. This man (who must be in his mid 40s) predicted that Neelalohita Das will win from Trivandrum. He said everyone he talked to also said the same thing. He gave me the following reasons.

Neelan belongs to the Nadar community which is very strong in the rural areas of Trivandrum. Nadars were not given seats by both LDF and UDF. So regardless of their political affinity, this time they will make sure that a Nadar wins and that is going to benefit Neelan.

[ My thought: Seems right. This time Neelalohita Das is contesting from a BSP ticket, so some Dalit votes would also go in favor of him. ]

Trivandrum seat belongs to CPI. CPM has in-house issues with CPI in LDF. This internal split will show up in the voting. So there is a possibility that CPM voters might also vote for Neelan.

[ My thought: It is possible. CPM will not vote for Congress or BJP anyway, but they would need CPI to fail because of the internal conflicts. So the only possible candidate that they can vote for is Neelan as he is now in a different party. Not only that, this will also secure their interests in the national politics as it will ultimately benefit the Third Front where BSP and CPM are allies. ]

BJP will have their votes anyway. Their vote bank won’t split. But they will only come to a fourth position (after BSP, Congress and CPI).

[ My thought: Seems true ]

Shashi Tharoor will come to a close second. He has a great impression on educated people. So the youngsters and the educated urban class would vote for him.

[ My thought: I agree ]

Then I asked him if it matters to him that Mr. Tharoor does not have the local political experience and came all in a sudden from abroad. He answered:

It doesn’t matter whether he is from here or he is aware of the local politics. What have those local politicians done to solve any of the local issues? Nothing much. He is also educated and have international experience which would benefit us if he gets in to the ministry in the center.

[ My thought: I agree with this too ]

The kind of analytics that this person has presented really surprised me. Not only that, he actually spent time to talk to me during this busy evening, which shows how interested he is in the politics. And he did not take any sides too.

Church & Politics – An Un-Holy Alliance

churchandstateIt is not a secret that the Church in Kerala has always stood by the Congress party during elections. I have heard a story, that in the early days, during the Sunday sermon, the priest would raise his “hand” up in the air and say “every one should vote“. The raised hand was to indicate that the faithful should vote for Congress party, without openly campaigning for it. I am not sure how authentic this story is, but this was to point out the close alliance between the Congress party and the Church in Kerala.

In my days, I have seen politicians making frequent visits to the Vicars of Churches in their constituency as part of their campaigns. It was also during this time that the late Bishop of Thrissur, Mar. Joseph Kundukulam, compared K Karunakaran to Jesus Christ (I wrote an article in those days against the Bishop’s statement, in a handwritten magazine published by CLC – a Catholic youth organization). K Karunakaran’s friendship with Bishop Kundukulam was very infamous in those days.

Time flew and the Church softened it’s stand against Communists. But it did not last long. With the 7th standard text book and the self-finance college issues, the Church went on a rampant campaign against the Communists, under the leadership of Thrissur Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhath and Changanassery Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil. Now that the elections are approaching, different Churches in Kerala are taking different steps to make sure that they get a fair share of the political pie. But surprisingly, the Congress party chose not to play with the tunes of the Church.

First it was the Thrissur Archbishop, Mar Andrews Thazhath, who supported the candidature of Tom Vadakkan for Thrissur constituency. But the proposal was turned down by AICC, followed by a strong statement from the head of Syro-Malabar Church, Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil. This statement has just added my respect to Mar Varkey Vithayathil, even though his is a lone voice in the Syro-Malabar Church supreme administration.

Cardinal Vithayahil, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) says it is wrong for bishops, priests and Church leaders to intervene in the selection of candidates during the elections.

”The Catholic Church and Christian leaders should not intervene in party politics. Church can ask the people to vote for the right candidates, but should not involve in electioneering and selection of candidates for particular constituencies,” Cardinal Vithayathil told reporters. [ via ]

The Latin Church, which is an influential force in Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram districts have gone a step further. The Varappuzha Archbishop, Daniel Acharuparambil, sent a list of four candidates to Sonia Gandhi. But Ramesh Chennithala, the Congress chief of Kerala, rejected the communal interference.

The letter was written by the Varapuzha Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil, who is also President of the Kerala Regional Latin Catholic Council, the body that looks after the social and other activities of the church.

The church has given three other names. The list does not contain the names of sitting Ernakulam Congress legislator and former minister K.V. Thomas or former Congress legislator and former minister Dominic Presentation. [ via ]

The Orthodox Church went even further. When their candidate request was turned down by Congress party, the Orthodox Church in Kerala decided to put up four candidates on their own for the polls. Now this is something new as no Church in Kerala has openly placed it’s candidates in elections.

The Orthodox Church had sent a letter to Sonia Gandhi expressing its wish that one of its members, who are active Congress supporters, be fielded. George Joseph, secretary of the church, said that the Congress had not even acknowledged the letter, said a report from IANS. [ via ]

The Congress party and Sonia Gandhi have wisely turned down the proposals from the Church supremos in all these cases which is a good sign. Or else BJP would have used this chance to accuse the “Christian” Sonia Gandhi playing in tunes of the Church. But now that will not have any substance.

It is clear that the faithful (except the ignorant lot and the power hungry creamy-layer in the community) is not going to blindly follow the orders of the Bishops like Mar Andrews Thazhath or Mar Daniel Acharuparambil. Because whenever the church has sponsored a Congress candidate, with public statements and pastoral letters, he lost. Edezhath, a close confidant of the high priests, lost by over 70,000 votes to an LDF independent in 2004 [via]. Thrissur in particular has a history of failing the over-confident power politicians. History has it that when Karunakaran contested from Thrissur he was defeated and when his son Muraleedharan contested from Thrissur in the very next polls, he too was defeated. In those two years, Thrissurians decided to send a noble man, V V Raghavan (of CPI), to parliament. And this year, it will be very interesting to see the results.

(Image source: Internet)

Vote for… errr… whom?

There are a lot of online campaigns going on behalf of several candidates for India general elections in 2009. The whole drama is very interesting. It looks like the campaign officers believe that the online campaign is going to work in India just like it did in USA. Evidently, they have not considered the % of citizens in India who use Internet and what % of it would actually go to the polling booths. The first place of course goes to Advani as PM. His cyber team has succeeded in bringing him in every single website (and it looks like these website owners do not know how to block a URL from appearing in their Google Ads).

Then there is Mallika Sarabhai who is contesting against L K Advani from Gandhinagar. I was kind of surprised to see her Facebook support group as I do not understand how it is going to help her win the elections in Gandhinagar. I’m just wondering, how many of the Gandhinagar voters are going to vote for Mallika Sarabhai just because of her online campaigns? How many Netizens are there in her constituency? How are the online campaigns going to work if the on-ground campaigns are not working? So I think she better use her time for on-ground work, encouraging people to vote, convince them of the politics of BJP, and how she can make Gujarat a better place. It just doesn’t matter a person from Thrissur constituency supporting Mallika Sarabhai to win from Gandhinagar through a Facebook group, because it is finally up to the people of Gandhinagar to decide whether she goes into parliament or not. And just to add, I really would like to see her win against L K Advani.

Then there is Shashi Tharoor, the poster boy of Congress from Kerala. I saw him today in the evening, campaigning outside a restaurant at Trivandrum and people have mixed reactions. Some say “he looks so handsome” and thus their votes might go to him. Youngsters see him as “an icon”, as he had served some top positions in the UN and they believe that he would be a refreshing change if he gets elected as he is an educated person. The others see him as “an outsider” who came to Kerala just to fulfill his political ambitions and do not know the on-ground issues and they even say that he doesn’t know to speak good Malayalam. An opposition to this says that alll politicians are contesting with their political ambitions and Shashi Tharoor is no exception, so there is no need to see him with a particular hatred. And add to that, the accused links Mr. Tharoor has with Coca-Cola company (read this in connection with Plachimada issue).

I really wish that Mallika Sarabhai wins in Gandhinagar against L K Advani. But I do not have a say there as it is up to the people of that constituency. So I hope Mallika does some work on the ground out there, rather than spending her time to create Facebook groups and raising her popularity over the Internet, if she is not contesting for the PM post.