The Swamy strategery

Subramanian Swamy has been accused of many things, but ‘grace’ has never made that list, so his valedictory post (and related snark that peppers his timeline, sandwiched between humble-brag retweets of laudatory messages from his fan club, and of news reports crediting him with having added ‘another scalp’ to his bag, is only par for his course.

Here’s what comes next: Continue reading

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.

History, reimagined

Politicians on the stump are a source of endless joy. Here, Amit Shah in Assam:

“We all know that Assam is the land of the brave. It is the land where Sukapha (Ahom king) had defeated the Mughals 17 times and drove them away. The same land is now being allowed to become the abode of illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators by the Congress government.

It’s a nice story. But, as I was pointing out on my Facebook page last night, some inconvenient facts get in the way of it. Sukhapaa, founder of the Ahom kingdom, died in 1268. Babar defeated Ibrahim Lodi and established the Mughal dynasty in 1526. Quite a feat, then, for the Ahom king to have defeated unnamed Mughals three centuries after his death.

PS: A meeting over lunch (which hopefully will be long, and liquid) and *the* game this evening, so am off blog for the duration. Have a happy Sunday, folks.

 

 

Talent spotting

But of course, makes perfect sense. Sreesanth was found guilty of spot-fixing by a disciplinary committee headed by Shri Arun Jaitley. Less than a year ago, BCCI general secretary (and ABVP national head) Anurag Thakur confirmed the life banafter the Delhi court found it not feasible to pursue charges under MCOCA. You could say Sreesanth’s candidature has been vetted at the highest levels.

Seriously — is the party so poor in talent that it has to rely on the illusory appeal of a cheat?

Earlier today, while trawling through my archives, I came across this column by Pritish Nandy. This section resonates:

While these are a few stray examples, the point I am making is simple. Why do our achievements in every area of life and endeavour get outshone by our single most prominent area of shame — our politics? Why does our politics grab the media, grab our mindshare, our reluctant attention day after day? Loathsome leaders; corrupt MPs; thieving ministers; ugly, despicable louts and historysheeters masquerading as netas; blackmailers; extortionists; thugs. Why do these people hijack our attention again and again and again? Always for the wrong reasons.

This is what institutionalises crime. Legitimises it. This is what attracts the worst among us to politics. The fact that they get their one shining moment of glory when they enter politics. Arun Gawli leapt from page 5 to page 1 the moment he entered politics. So did Raja Bhaiya in UP. Rabri Devi went from her kitchen into the national headlines. Phoolan Devi, from her cell in Tihar jail. Chandra Swami painted all his crimes with different political colours.

It is the Lennon syndrome at work. Do something utterly despicable — kill someone famous, loot a bank, cheat the nation, set fire to a Harijan village, badmouth another politician — and you can bask in the glory of national headlines. You are the flavour of the day, the week, the season. Newspapers will frontpage you. television news bulletins will chase you. Your chamchas will fete you. And, if you are lucky, weak and feeble governments will reach out to you for your support.

No wonder the scum of the world is in politics today.

I’ll leave you with this thought: The column was written in 1999.

Match fixing

This is just flat out funny — a cricket match between the UP CM’s XI and an IAS XI showcases everything that is wrong with government and its relationship with the bureaucracy. Watch the video — the expression on the face of the bureaucrat who bowls the CM is alone worth the price of admission.

Deaths, foretold

News, now:

Two Muslim men herding eight buffaloes on their way to a local Friday market were bashed up and hanged to death from a tree by unknown assailants at Balumath forests in Latehar district, 100km from here, in the wee hours on Friday. The buffaloes were freed by the men and locals claimed the assailants were Hindu radicals.

The deceased Muhammad Majloom, 35, was a relative of Azad Khan alias Ibrahim who is around 15-years-old. The two had their hands tied together behind and their mouth was closed with a cloth. “The sight suggested that the two of them were subjected to extreme levels of brutality. It means that the assailants were moved by extreme hatred,” a police officer said.

In Jhabbar village of Balumath the sight of the hanging men engaged in cattle trade, sparked protests by locals. The protests turned violent when police tried to take down the bodies. SDO Kamleshwar Narayan and six cops were injured when locals pelted stones at officials who arrived in the morning to manage the situation and ensure that it does not take communal turn.

This is what happens when you inflame passions for your own narrow political ends. When you indulge in the politics of cheap populism. When you play the “religious sentiment” card to disguise the fact that you have nothing of substance to hang your politics, your appeal, on.

This is what happens when you let the genie out of the bottle. People die.

Trump, Modi and the “preference cascade”

If this is true, then in both America and India, beneath the veneer of sophisticated political discourse, there lies a primal core that cares about more basic things, like race and identity and so on. In fact, maybe the exact same impulse explains both Trump and Modi: the instinctive attraction for a strong leader who will lead our tribe well and shit on all others.

That clip from a beautifully articulated Amit Varma piece on the “preference cascade” as it plays out in realpolitik.