From the dept of ‘Hamam mein sab…’

The story, in brief: In 2014 the Delhi High Court ruled that both the BJP and the Congress were in violation of the FCRA when the parties accepted contributions from Vedanta, the London-based MNC.

The government appealed; the case is now in the Supreme Court. And meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley slipped a clause into the latest Finance Bill by which he — with retrospective effect — changed the definition of ‘foreign companies’, so that Vedanta is now an ‘Indian company’. In other words, he changed legal definitions in order to make kosher what the court said is a criminal act.

The full details here, as reported in The Wire.

Keep this story and the implications in mind when you next wonder why the BJP, having made the many scams of the Congress its main election issue, is now dragging its collective feet on every single one of them.


I deny that I had my foot in my mouth

That is to say, Ghulam Nabi Azad denies he compared RSS to IS. Or at the least, that his statement was “taken out of context”.

That’s precisely the trouble — there is no possible “context” for such a comparison. Worse, you show the paucity of your political intellect when you fall back on such meaningless tropes, and end up giving your opponents another stick to beat you black and blue with.

Seriously, aren’t politicians’ brains connected to their mouths, like is true for the rest of us?


Mind your language

This might seem an odd thing to fixate on, on a Monday morning, but there it is: this is the thing that stuck in my craw while scanning the media. So read the clip below, slowly, as many times as it takes, and then tell me what it means:

“In that comes the very strange pretext of a cover-up about departure on the basis of incorrect or illegal lookout notice and the totality of such circumstances raise serious question marks”, he said.

On the question of a farmer in Tamil Nadu, who took loan of Rs 3 Lakh for tractor, being attacked by cops and bank employees, he condemned the “highhandeness”.

“We do believe that highhandedness, throwing the rulebook and all kinds of procedures for a miniscule amount for a common man and allowing elephants to be swallowed as far as big people are concerned is a systemic problem”, he added.


Why is it so hard to understand that the key to politics is communication — simple, straight, to the point, intelligible?

In other news, seems a quiet sort of news day for now. Will be back later in the day with reading lists and suchlike.

Do as I say, not as I do

Dismissing the Congress president’s accusation that the NDA government was showing “obstinate arrogance” in Parliament and that it was a government by “one person”, Modi said, “Perhaps, she is referring to the fact that earlier extra-constitutional authorities were the ones really wielding power.”

He went on to say that power was now “wielded only by constitutional means”. If the charge is that “we are working through constitutional channels and not listening to any extra constitutional authorities, then I plead guilty to that charge”, he said.

Asked about the criticism that all powers were concentrated in the PMO, Modi responded, “Your question is loaded. It would have been better if this question had been asked when an unconstitutional authority was sitting above the constitutional authority and exercising power over the PMO.”

He emphasised that “the Prime Minister and the PMO are very much part of the constitutional scheme, not outside it”.

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A plague on both your houses

A worker of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS was pulled out of the autorickshaw he was driving in Kerala’s Kannur this morning by a group of men, who then attacked him with sharp weapons.

Huddled inside the autorickshaw and watching in fright were four children from class 1 and 2 who the RSS worker, AV Biju, drives every morning to school. Mr Biju was driving down the route that he usually takes, a short-cut between two main roads, when he was attacked.

It is barbaric (doubly so, given that that act of violence was perpetrated in full view of young children), it is horrific — and I don’t give a flying fuck.

Because who does?

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The problem with the Congress

The Commissionerate police on Monday began an investigation into an alleged derogatory remark against former Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru in the visitors’ book of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Birthplace Museum (NBM) in Cuttack.

The police moved in after the Cuttack unit of Congress lodged a complaint against one Pramod Dey and his wife Lopamudra Dey of Bhubaneswar. Pramod, during his visit to the museum, while appreciating Bose’s contribution in India’s independence, had reportedly used derogatory language against India’s first Prime Minister.

Thus, a news story. Memo: A party with an extraordinarily thin skin and an over-reliance on one or two historical totems should never campaign for freedom of speech — they do those who really believe in FoE a disservice.

Tharoor on the making of a political star

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suddenly acquired a major problem. His carefully cultivated political persona is not designed to face off against somebody like Kanhaiya. The boy totally disarms Mr Modi’s claim to “ordinariness”. (The PM’s narrative of having sold tea faces that of a student who could barely afford a cup of tea.) He has even co-opted the police, the government’s dreaded enforcers, by pointing out that constables have the same social background as him and share his views on issues, rather than those of the government.

And then there’s Kanhaiya himself, the darling son of every Indian mother (especially after his shave, which has restored youthful innocence to his face). His oratory, the way he switches registers and vocabularies so nimbly, his lack of rancour or self-pity, his cheekiness, his courage, his eloquence – he matches, arguably even defeats, Mr Modi. The BJP suddenly realizes it is ruling an India which requires the devotees of Krishna Kanhaiya to make room for Kanhaiya Kumar.

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