Chhattisgarh attack: Is DDLJ attitude the heart of Naxal problem?

Vivek Kaul 
Raman Singh, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh should resign, taking moral responsibility for the killing of 27 people by Maoists near Darbha in Jagdalpur district, 340 km south of state capital Raipur.
Or so feels the Congress Party. “Raman Singh should step down… We did not want to say anything political as we felt that the chief minister would himself resign owning responsibility…The irresponsible attitude of the state government has led to a huge loss to democratic values and the chief minister should resign admitting the security lapse,” 
Congress spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das said on May 28,2013.
Those killed included state Congress leaders Mahendra Karma and Uday Mudliyar. The state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh were also killed. Senior Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla, who was the information and broadcasting minister during the dark days of the emergency, was severely injured and is now battling for his life.
It is clear that the Congress party has woken up only after its leaders came under direct attack. The party had been very quiet 
when 76 CRPF jawans were killed by Maoists in April 2010, near Chintalnar village in Dantewada district. So by wanting the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh to resign does the Congress party want us to believe that a life of a politician is more valuable than that of a CRPF solider? And that every time a Congress politician is killed democracy in this country comes to a standstill?
The second point that comes out here is that by asking Raman Singh to resign, the Congress party is trying to project Naxalism as a state level problem, which it clearly is not. Naxalism is a menace in other states like Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, as well.naxalThe Prime Minister Manmohan Singh 
had acknowledged this in May 2010, after the massacre of CRPF jawans. “I have been saying for the last three years that
remains the biggest internal security challenge facing our country…We have not underestimated the problem of Naxalism,” he had said.
Also what is interesting is that Chhattisgarh is one state where the Maoists are concentrating on. Most of the top Naxalite leaders in this area are Telgu speaking and not locals. 
As Ramachandra Guha writes in a column in The Hindu “From the 1980s, Naxalites had been active in the region, asking for higher wages for tribals, harassing traders and forest contractors, and attacking policemen. In the first decade of this century their presence dramatically increased. Dantewada (in Chhattisgarh) was now identified by Maoist ideologues as the most likely part of India where they could create a ‘liberated zone.’ Dozens of Telugu-speaking Naxalites crossed into Chhattisgarh, working assiduously to accomplish this aim.”
This is further evidence of the fact that Naxalism is not just Raman Singh’s problem. For the sake of argument, if the Maoists had decided to concentrate on the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, from where they have been driven out, an attack of similar proportions could have happened there. So would the Congress party then have asked for the resignation of its own Chief Minister?
Also the party seems to be trying hard to pin all the blame on on the state government. 
As an earlier article on Firstpost had pointed out, in a meeting that party Vice President Rahul Gandhi had with the Chhattisgarh government after the attack, he kept asking “who will take the responsibility?”
Naxalism did not start overnight. It started in the late 1960s, taking its name from the 
Naxalbari village in West BengalThe story goes that an anonymous poet wrote on the walls of the city that was then known as Calcutta “Amar bari, tomar bari/Naxalbari Naxalbari”(My home, Naxalbari/Your home, Naxalbari)”, giving the movement its name.
The state of West Bengal was then ruled by the Congress party and so were large parts of India where Naxalism spread in the decades to come. Raman Singh became the chief minister of Chhattisgarh only in December 2003.
Also, the home minister of the country is responsible for the internal security of the country. When the attack happened home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was in the United States on an official tour. He has since extended his stay there. 
The Indian Express reports that sources say that the minister is visiting close relatives of his wife in Maryland.
So much for the seriousness of the Congress led UPA government in tackling the Naxal problem. Of course, the official Congress line is that Shine is monitoring the situation from the United States.
 But as BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi put it “You can sit on the moon and say we are monitoring everything but that is not what is expected of a person who needs to be on the ground and be in control of the situation.”
Hence, the Congress is more responsible for the Naxal problem in this country than any other party. And in time like this to seriously tackle the issue of Naxalism, it should be working together with the state government rather than asking Raman Singh to resign.
One of the Congress leaders killed in the attack was Mahendra Karma. He was the leader of the opposition in the Chhattisgarh state assembly between 2004 and 2008, and was instrumental in the formation of 
Salwa Judum (which means purification hunt in the Gondi language).
Salwa Judum was essentially a local militia which was created to take on the Maoists. On July 5, 2011, the Supreme Court of India declared the militia to be illegal and called for its disbanding. Karma had the support of Raman Singh when it came to the Salwa Judum operating freely in the state.
Ramachandra Guha recounts his meeting with Karma in his column in 
The Hindu. He writes “We spent an hour in the company of the movement’s originator, Mahendra Karma. He told us that he was fighting a dharma yudh, a holy war. We asked whether the outcome of this war was worth it. We told him of what we had seen, of the homes burnt and the women abused by the men acting in his name and claiming that he was their leader. He answered that in a great movement small mistakes are sometimes made. (The exact words he used were: “Badé andolanon mein kabhi kabhi aisé choté apradh hoté hain.”)”
Karma’s quip was inspired from the famous dialogue from the Hindi film Dilwale Dulhainya Le Jayenge (DDLJ), which went like this: “Bade bade deshon main aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hain (in big countries these small things keep happening)”.
Salwa Judum further exaggerated the Naxal problem in the state. The tribals had to bear the brunt of it. As one of them told Guha “ “Ek taraf Naxaliyon, doosri taraf Salwa Judum, aur hum beech mein, pis gayé” (placed between the Maoists and the vigilantes, we adivasis are being squeezed from both sides).” And Salwa Judum ultimately even consumed its creator in the end.
The broader point here is that the attack by the Maoists was primarily against Mahendra Karma and a few other Congress leaders instrumental in launching 
Salwa Judum. As a letter sent across by the Maoists after the killings clearly says: “The purpose was to punish Mahendra Karma who had launched the anti-Maoist armed movement Salwa Judum and some other Congress leaders.” Or as the old saying goes “live by the sword, die by the sword”. Or in Karma’s own words “ Badé andolanon mein kabhi kabhi aisé choté apradh hoté hain.”
So the Congress party (with more than a little help from Raman Singh) was instrumental in ensuring that Naxals got further determined, after unleashing a private militia on them as well as the people of the state.
These lessons should have been well learnt by the Congress party by now. Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards after she messed up big time in Punjab and propped up Bhinderwale against the Akalis. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by LTTE, a problem created first by his mother Indira.
The final point I want to make is that the tradition of taking moral responsibility and quitting doesn’t exist among the politicians of this country anymore. Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned as the Railway Minister in 1956 after a rail-accident occurred in Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu, killing 144 people. 
As an editorial in The Hindu points out “In fact, he had put in his papers when an accident had occurred in Mahboobnagar three months earlier, killing 112. But Nehru had not accepted it. He refused to continue in the post after the Ariyalur accident.” They don’t make men like him these days.
When was the last time you heard a Railway Minister quitting after an rail accident which killed hundreds of people? In fact in July 2011, Mukul Roy of the Trinamool Congress, who was Minister of State for the Railways, even refused to visit Assam, 
where a train had derailed injuring hundreds of passengers.
The Congress government did not resign when Bombay (now Mumbai) was bombed by Dawood Ibrahim and the ISI in 1993, even though it was a huge lapse of security. Neither did it resign when rains and floods brought the city to a standstill on July 26, 2005. It finally took the savage attack of November 26, 2008, to get the heads rolling. Shivraj Patil kept bungling up as the Home Minister of India between 2004 and 2008, but was allowed to continue, finally being forced to resign after the attacks of November 26, 2008. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat did not resign after the 2002 riots, despite almost everyone calling for his resignation, including those in his own party.
The culture of politicians resigning taking moral responsibility does not exist anymore. And this works across the political spectrum. Hence, the Congress asking for Raman Singh’s resignation sounds very hypocritical, when it’s leaders have behaved differently in similar situations in the past.

The article originally appeared on on May 29,2013
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek) 

Why Congress has learned the wrong lessons from India Shining

Vivek Kaul
Human beings love a good story. And a good story is complete. If something has happened then there is needs to be a ready explanation available for it. Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about this in Fooled by Randomness. Taleb recounts watching Bloomberg TV, sometime in December 2003 around the time Saddam Hussein was captured in Iraq.
At this point, American government bond prices (commonly referred to as treasury bills) had gone up, and the caption on television explained that this was “due to the capture of Saddam Hussein”. Some thirty minutes later, the price of the American treasury bills went down, and the television caption still said that this was “due to the capture of Saddam Hussein”.
The question is how could the capture of Saddam Hussein lead to have two exactly opposite things? That is simply not possible. But there is a broader point here. If something happens, the human mind needs a reason, an explanation or a cause for it. Without it, the loop is not complete. Hence, the human mind actively seeks causes for events that have happened, whether those causes are the real reasons for the event happening is another issue all together.
As Ed Smith former English cricketer wrote in a recent column “The point, of course, is that causes are being manipulated to fit outcomes. They weren’t causes at all, merely things that happened before the defeat. The ancient Romans had an ironic phrase for this terrible logic – post hoc, ergo proper hoc, “after this, therefore because of this”.”
n excellent example of this phenomenon in an Indian context is the defeat of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the 2004 Lok Sabha election. Of the explanations that followed the one that gained most credibility and is still holding on strong, is the India Shining Campaign.
Since the results of the 2004 Lok Sabha elections came in, it has been widely held that BJP lost the elections because of the “insensitive” urban centric
India Shining advertising campaign, which ignored the aam aadmi. The irony is that even the BJP came to believe this.
As Arati R Jerath
points out in a recent column in The Times of IndiaSignificantly, L K Advani was to acknowledge later that the India Shining slogan was “inappropriate” for an election campaign. In hindsight, many in the BJP realized that the tone and tenor were arrogant and insensitive and that it glossed over prevailing social and economic inequities that the NDA government had failed to address.”
This logic doesn’t hold true against some basic number crunching. The difference in vote share between the Congress led UPA and the BJP led NDA was a little over 2%. The NDA got 33.3% of the vote whereas the UPA won 35.4% of the vote. As economist Vivek Dehejia, the co-auhtor of
Indianomix – Making Sense of Modern India, said in an interview to Firstpost “That 2% difference in vote share can equally be attributed to a number of other explanations, such as bad luck, as it is to anything else. Or let me put in another way; if you look at those results, basically it came down to a coin toss. A third of the voters voted for the NDA, another third voted for the UPA and a third voted for somebody else.”
Hence, if the NDA had got 1% more vote and UPA had got 1% less vote, the situation would have been totally different. And maybe in that situation, people would have been talking about how the
India Shining campaign really worked. Given this, it is not always possible to figure out why something happened. The broader point is that India is too diverse with too many issues at play to attribute the win or a loss in Lok Sabha elections to one cause, which in this case happened to be the India Shining campaign.
But such has been the strength of this explanation that it continues to prevail. In fact, the Congress party has gone at length to explain why there recently launched
Bharat Nirman campaign is totally different from the India Shining campaign of 2004. “India Shining was hype, hoopla and spin. Our campaign is different. Bharat Nirman is not a poll campaign, it tells the India story of the past nine years,” the information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari was recently quoted as saying.
In fact, the India Shining campaign had put too much emphasis on India, people came to believe, and missed out on Bharat. So the Congress has taken great care that the
Bharat Nirman campaign caters to Bharat.
That difference notwithstanding prima facie there doesn’t seem to be much difference between India Shining and Bharat Nirman. Both are campaigns launched to highlight the achievements of the incumbent government. India Shining was launched well before the Lok Sabha elections and at that point of time, the BJP leaders maintained that the campaign was meant to attract international investment and beyond that nothing more should be read into it. The Congress seems to be doing the same. As Tewari said “Elections will be held on time. There is no need for speculation.”
Eventually, the BJP got caught into its marketing blitzkrieg and advanced elections by six months. The extent to which Congress
wallahs have gone to deny the link between Bharat Nirman and the Lok Sabha elections being advanced, leads this writer to believe that most likely elections will be advanced. As the line from the great British political satire Yes Minister goes “The first rule of politics: Never believe anything until it’s been official denied”. The Congress, like BJP, is in the danger of getting caught in its own spin.
India Shining cost the taxpayer around Rs 150 crore. Bharat Nirman has already spent around Rs 200 crore of the taxpayer money. As an article in the Brand Equity supplement of The Economic Times points out “Sources close to the campaign say that close to Rs 200 crore has been spent on this campaign under various heads. So large is the campaign that in recent months the government has been the single largest consumer of air time and media space on many of the major channels in volume terms.”
What hurts is the fact that the revenue stream of the government at this point of time is stretched. The Ministry of Finance has even gone to the extent of running an amnesty scheme for service tax defaulters. A defaulter can declare and pay his taxes and thereby avoid any fines or even other penal proceedings. If finances are so stretched, why is money being wasted on an advertisement campaign like
Bharat Nirman?
More than anything else this government has lost so much credibility that any advertisement campaign cannot help. As Jerath puts it “The campaign is a pathetic attempt to sweep the controversies of the past three years under the carpet. A slick film and a lyrical jingle cannot erase the stench from various corruption scandals or make up for non-performance as food prices rise and the economy slows down.”
The lesson drawn from
India Shining should have been that feel good advertisement campaigns run by the government and paid for by the taxpayer, do not really matter in an electoral democracy as diverse as India. Instead the government, which is seen tom-tomming its own achievement, comes across as arrogant. But the parties in power love it. As the Brand Equity points out “The temptation has been too great and a campaign of similar proportions has been released. Perhaps the only difference is that ‘India’ has been replaced by ‘Bharat’ and ‘Shining’ by ‘Nirman’. While the Congress insists that this is not a political campaign (just as the BJP insisted with India Shining), the timing and the quantum of spends seem to belie that.”
The only person
Bharat Nirman benefits is the information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari (and the media houses which get paid for carrying these advertisements), who after taking over as the I&B Minister had to show that he was doing new things that could revitalise the image of the Congress party and he has done precisely that. But this benefit might be short lived because in the days to come if the Congress led UPA loses the next Lok Sabha elections (as it is likely to), then Bharat Nirman will be held responsible for it, like India Shining was.
And then Manish Tewari, might become the new Pramod Mahajan, the man behind the
India Shining Campaign.
To conclude, what happens to the taxpayer who finances these expensive campaigns? Well all he can do is sing the old Mukesh song (sung in the style of KL Saigal) “dil jalta hai to jalne de. aansoo na baha, fariyad na kar”.
The article originally appeared on on May 20, 2013
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

Advani and Modi ties: From guru-shishya to frenemies

lk advaniVivek Kaul
If media reports are to be believed, Lal Krishna Advani, is looking for a safe seat to contest from, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat in Guajarat from which Advani is currently a member of parliament (MP) is no longer deemed to be safe as it falls in the land of Narendra Modi.
Coomi Kapoor writes in The Indian ExpressBecause of the bad vibes between Narendra Modi and Advani on the leadership issue, the latter does not want to put himself at Modi’s mercy by standing again from the Gandhinagar seat.”
Advani it seems has been advised to contest from Lucknow. This would mean latching onto the legacy of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The other reason here could be the fact that Samajwadi Party chieftain Mulayam Singh Yadav has had nice things to say about Advani in the recent past.
Iftikhar Gilani writes in the Daily News and Analysis “Advani’s advisors initially wanted him to contest the 2014 election from Lucknow, a seat once represented by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, with the fast-changing loyalties within the BJP, Modi has laid a claim on both Gandhinagar and Lucknow constituencies to in an attempt to showcase his national acceptance.”
Hence with Modi eyeing to contest from Lucknow as well as Gandhinagar, Advani now plans to contest from a safe seat in Madhya Pradesh. “Advani has reportedly set his sights on the Bhopal constituency since Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a friend who can be relied upon. An advance team has already gone to Bhopal to make an assessment of the constituency,” writes Kapoor in
The Indian Express. (Another DNA report suggests that Modi wants to contest from Lucknow whereas his trusted lieutenant Amit Shah wants to contest from Gandhinagar).
What is ironical here that it was Modi who first suggested to Advani to contest from Gandhinagar more than two decades back. Advani was looking for a safe Lok Sabha seat to contest from in the 1991 Lok Sabha elections. As Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay writes in
Narendra Modi – The Man. The Times “He (i.e. Advani)…relied on Modi to play a crucial role in “giving” him a new political home, Gandhinagar in Gujarat. Advani’s decision to move to Gujarat was because the Congress in 1991 sprang a surprise by nominating the popular film actor, the late Rajesh Khanna, to contest against Advani from New Delhi which had traditionally been a tricky seat owing to comparatively less number of voters (just 4.5 lakh) and a low turnout (in 1991 it was 47.86%). In any case, Advani contested from both New Delhi and Gandhinagar and this proved to be providential as the BJP strongman barely scraped through in the capital by less than 1600 votes.”
Advani has represented Gandhinagar in the Lok Sabha since then, except in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections which he did not contest because he was facing charges of money laundering in the Hawala scam.
A report in The Times of India in 2011 suggested something similar. “In 1991, it was Modi who suggested to Advani that he should contest for Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar…Gandhinagar was until then represented by Modi’s peerturned-foe Shankersinh Vaghela . It was a masterstroke as BJP cadres got charged up in the state and Vaghela was relegated to the fringes . The relationship grew with Advani frequently visiting Gujarat after becoming an MP from the state,” the report pointed out.
The relationship between Advani and Modi did not start in 1991, but a few years before that. Modi was the second pracharak from the Rashtriya Swayemsevak Sangh (RSS) to be deputed to its political affiliate the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The first being K N Govindacharya. Those were the days when Modi went around Ahmedabad in an ash coloured Bajaj Chetak scooter.
Modi’s deputation to the BJP took place sometime in 1987-88. This was around the time when Lal Krishna Advani was rebuilding the BJP after the debacle of the 1984 Lok Sabha elections in which the party had won only two seats. Among other things Advani decided to revive the post of organising secretary in the state units of BJP. In the erstwhile Jana Sangh (BJP’s earlier avatar before it merged with other parties to form the Janata Party in 1977) the post was held by RSS pracharaks. Modi was made the organising secretary of the Gujarat unit of the party. “From the beginning it was evident that Modi was Advani’s personal choice and he was keen to strengthen the unit in Gujarat because the state was identified as a potential citadel in the future,” writes Mukhopadhyay.
Modi would soon rise to national prominence when he would play a part in organising Advani’s famed rath yatra which yielded huge political dividends for the BJP. As Mukhopadhyay points out “Modi came into the national spotlight for the first time when he helped organise Advani’s Rath Yatra in September-October 1990…Modi coordinated the arrangements during the Gujarat leg and travelled up to Mumbai and it was a huge success in Gujarat – both in terms of seamless arrangements and public support.”
In the years to come the relationship between Modi and Advani went from strength to strength, with Modi emerging as the super Chief Minister in the BJP government in Gujarat in the mid 1990s. As
The Times of India report quoted above points out “It was with Advani’s blessings that Modi emerged as a ‘super CM’ even as he ran the government from the back seat.”
Advani’s fondness for Modi became very well known in the BJP circles. “Throughout the 1990s and even after Modi became chief minister, Advani’s special fondness for Modi has been well known by both party insiders and observers. In 2002, when Modi was under attack for the role of the state administration in Gujarat riots, it was due to Advani’s
protection that the BJP leadership gave him a fresh lease of life. Earlier Advani had played a crucial role in the making of Modi as chief minister replacing Keshubhai Patel in October 2001,” writes Mukhopadhyay.
The relationship started to sour after Advani on a visit to Pakistan in June 2005 had good things to say about Mohammed Ali Jinnah. As Advani wrote in the
Visitors’ Book at the Jinnah Mausoleum: “There are many people who leave an inerasable stamp on history…But there are very few who actually create history. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was one such rare individual.”
Advani obviously was trying to get rid of his tag of being the posterboy of Hindutva. But saying nice things about Jinnah went against the entire idea of
Akhand Bharat which the RSS believes in. Around this time, Modi started to distance himself from his mentor. Advani had to pay for this statement and had to quit as the BJP party president in late 2005.
And this created space for Modi for a bigger role. As Mukhopadhyay writes “The original poster boy of Hindutva ceased to be and yielded space to the much younger Modi as the mascot of the aggressive Hindu face. At times it appeared that the
guru-shishya relationship of yore had been replaced by intense rivalry,” writes Mukhopadhyay.
This rivalry has now come to the fore with Advani looking for a safe seat outside Gujarat to contest from. Modi is trying to inherit the political legacy of both Vajpayee and Advani by wanting to contest the next Lok Sabha elections from both Lucknow as well as Gandhinagar.
The trouble is Advani hasn’t given up as yet his aspirations of becoming the Prime Minister of India. Modi has his supporters within the BJP. As BJP President Rajnath Singh
recently told the Open magazine “Narendra Modi is the most popular BJP leader in the country.” But then so does Advani. In an interview to The Economic Times, Yashwant Sinha, a senior BJP leader said “Advaniji is the senior-most, most respected leader and if he is available to lead the party and government, then that should end all discussion. Everyone should fall in line and work together for the party under his leadership. But the call will have to be taken first by Advaniji himself, secondly by the party and finally by NDA (National Democratic Alliance) .” Cine actor Shatrughan Sinha also wants BJP to fight elections under the leadership of Advani.
A factor working in favour of Advani is that he is acceptable to BJP allies like Janata Dal (United). Narendra Modi clearly is not. As the
Open Magazine points out “JD-U leader Devesh Chandra Thakur was even more open on the question of Advani’s candidacy for the PM’s post. “The NDA contested under the leadership of LK Advani [in 2009]. I do not think there should be a problem for any NDA faction to go to polls under his leadership. Advani will definitely be more acceptable to most factions of the NDA,” he said after the party’s national executive meeting. “What further indication can Nitish Kumar give?” asks another JD-U leader considered close to the Bihar CM.”
L K Advani, the original posterboy of Hindutva is deemed secular enough to head the NDA. Narendra Modi is not. As Kingshuk Nag writes in
The NaMo Story: A Political LifeThe ghosts of Gujarat 2002 are likely to haunt Narendra Modi till his last days.”
Advani had to play second fiddle to Vajpayee in the 1990s after building the BJP from scratch. This happened because with Vajpayee at the helm BJP would have been able to attract more allies, which it eventually did. Nearly two decades later Advani might find himself in a similar situation where he(like Vajpayee was) is more acceptable to the potential allies than Narendra Modi is. It is safe to say that no one has served the BJP more than Advani. His contribution to building BJP as a national party is
even greater than that of Vajpayee.
Let me conclude this piece with an old bhojpuri saying: “
Chela Cheeni Ban Gella, Guru Gud Rah Gella (which loosely translated means the student has become sugar, whereas the teacher continues to be jaggery).” Whether this comes to be true in the context of Advani and Modi, we will find out over the course of the next one year.
The article originally appeared on on April 27,2013

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

How regional parties make the Rahul versus Modi debate pointless

Vivek Kaul

Sitaram Yechury, the CPI(M) member of parliament, was asked in a recent interview in the Outlook magazine, whether the next Lok Sabha elections were going to be a direct contest between RaGa (Rahul Gandhi) and NaMo (Narendra Modi).
To this rhetorical question Yechury gave a brilliant answer: “There is a lovely saying in Telugu: 
Aalu ledu choolu ledu, koduku peru Somalingam, which means ‘I don’t have a home, I don’t have a wife but my son’s name is Somalingam’!”
The debate whether the next Lok Sabha elections in 2014 (or even earlier for that matter) are going to be a fight between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi is basically a pointless one right now and at least till the election results are out. And there is more than one reason for the same.
In states that elect a large number of MPs to the Lok Sabha, neither the Congress Party nor the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to be the largest party and win substantial number of seats. In Uttar Pradesh, which elects 80 Lok Sabha MPs, the fight is between Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. The BJP is expected to come third. In West Bengal, which elects 42 Lok Sabha MPs, the fight is between the CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress. Similary Andhra Pradesh, which elects 42 Lok Sabha MPs, the fight is between YSR Congress and the Telgu Desam Party. In Tamil Nadu, which elects 40 Lok Sabha MPs, the fight is between the DMK and the AIADMK. In Orissa, which elects 21 Lok Sabha MPs, Naveen ‘Pappu’ Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal is expected to do well.
In Karnatka, which sends in 28 Lok Sabha MPs, BS Yeddyurappa’s Karnatka Janata Paksha (KJP) is expected to play spoilsport for the BJP. In Bihar, which sends in 40 Lok Sabha MPs, if the  Janata Dal(United) and BJP, do not enter into an alliance and fight elections on their own, it is likely to benefit Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal. And on top of all this factor in the impact Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party may have on the elections.
In fact, last year there were reports of even a fourth front with strong chief ministers like Nitish Kumar, J Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik, being its constituents. Arun Nehru, a former bossman at Jenson and Nicholson, a former MP and minister seemed to be leading the charge on this front. As 
a report in The Indian Express had pointed out “One man who says he is working to get them together is former MP and perennial seat-predictor Arun Nehru. He’s set the “fourth front” ball rolling among CMs Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik and TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu. Sources confirmed that the Bihar CM had been in constant touch with Banerjee and Naidu, directly and through Nehru, to “keep exploring possibilities.””
Given this it is likely that parties other than the Congress and the BJP might get sufficient number of seats allowing them to form some sort of a Third/Fourth Front. This front can then form the government with the outside support of either the Congress or the BJP. As Naveen Patnaik, the chief of the Biju Janata Dal and the Chief Minister of Orissa recently said “I think the Third Front is a very healthy option. But it is still early days.” In this scenario neither Rahul Gandhi nor Narendra Modi, will come into the direct picture. 

rahul gandhi
How the situation develops will depend on how the post poll alliances evolve. As Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of 
Narendra Modi – The Man. The Timestold me in an interview “ The next election will in all likelihood see post-poll alliances determining who will head the next government.”
Given that, the entire 
hungama about the race to the top between RaGa and NaMo doesn’t really hold. It is the regional satraps who hold the key to real power. And in a situation of a Third Front being formed, UPA allies like Sharad Pawar and his Nationalist Congress Party will be the first ones to jump the ship.
Hence, the next Lok Sabha elections will not be a presidential sort of race that it is being made out to be. In fact neither the Congress nor the BJP will take the risk of naming a PM candidate before the elections. It will depend on how post poll alliances evolve and who is acceptable to the ‘potential’ allies i.e. if they have enough number of seats to negotiate.
Narendra Modi in his own way recognises this. As Mukhopadhyay said “I had asked Modi about the number of dwindling allies. He argued that if the BJP’s winnability increased, allies would automatically come. He said they had more allies when they were on the winning curve but they started deserting when the ship began sinking. If it becomes afloat again, other would jump in. It is with grave risk that one should indulge in crystal ball gazing. But if the situation does not alter dramatically within BJP, and in other parties – including Congress – I see little chance of any party naming their prime ministerial candidates…Modi’s chances will depend on the number of seats the BJP wins.”
Hence, even Modi understands at some level that it will be a liability for the BJP to declare him as their PM candidate in advance. So the BJP is likely to be as vague as is possible for them to be on Modi. But at the same time enough signals will be given to the core cadre of the BJP to project Narendra Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate.
When it comes to Rahul Gandhi he has clearly said that he is not in the race to become Prime Minister. The cynical interpretation of this is that all politicians say these kind of things. And that to a large extent this is true as well. The only people to whom this so called unwillingness of Rahul to be in the race, causes problems for, are the 
chamchas that the Congress party thrives on.
As Ian Jack writes in 
Mofussil Junction – Indian Encounters 1977-2012 “The Congress party became a machine largely bereft of ideology, with one purpose: to elect a prime minister called Gandhi…For without a Gandhi, even a Gandhi from Turin, the Congress fears it will be found out.”
While the 
chamchas in the Congress party may want Rahul to lead the charge, he clearly doesn’t see himself in the race. And here he may have picked up a thing or two from his mother, who after having refusing the PM’s post, was the defacto PM anyway. So if a Congress led coalition does come to power, and even if Rahul Gandhi chooses not to lead it, he would be leading it anyway. So it doesn’t matter if he is in the race or not. The Congress might choose even someone like a Pratibha Patil to be PM (like it chose Manmohan Singh), but the real power will remain with Rahul and his mother.
To conclude while, the social media might feel that this there is a direct fight on between NaMo and RaGa (or feku versus pappu) for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it hardly seems to be like that after some reflection. The sufi saint Nizamuddin Aulia once said 
Hunooz, Dehli Door Ast (Delhi is still far away) and that is as true for RaGa as it is for NaMo, at this point of time.
The article originally appeared on on April 17,2013.
 (Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek) 

Dear PM, those who live in glass houses don't throw stones at others

The nation came to the realisation yesterday that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh actually has a voice. And then we all came to the conclusion that just because he decided to speak, he spoke well. One commentator even went onto christen the event as “Manmohan on steroids”.
The part that the media loved the most was when Singh told the Parliament ‘
Jo garajte hain, woh baraste nahi(Thunderous clouds do not bring showers)’, a clichéd statement which was supposed to put the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party, in its place.
As far as clichés go, I would take this opportunity, to bring to your notice, dear readers, a dialogue written by Akhtar-Ul-Iman and delivered with great panache by Raj Kumar in the Yash Chopra directed Waqt. The line goes like this: “
Chinoi Seth…jinke apne ghar sheeshe ke hon, wo dusron par pathar nahi feka karte (Chinoi Seth…those who live in glass houses don’t throw stones at others).”
Now Singh may not have time to sit through a movie which runs into 206 minutes, given that he is the Prime Minister of the nation, and probably has decisions to make and things to do. But he would be well-advised to watch this 18-second YouTube clip and hopefully come to the realisation that those who live in glass houses, like Singh and his government, do not throw stones at others.
In fact, Singh’s speech to the Parliament yesterday was riddled with many inconsistent and wrong claims. It is a real surprise that the BJP has not caught onto rubbishing the arguments presented by Singh. Let us examine a few claims made by Singh:

Even BIMARU states have also done much better in UPA period than previous period: BIMARU is an acronym used for the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. These are states which have lagged in economic growth for a long period of time. There has been a recent spurt in their economic growth and this claims Singh has been because of the UPA government.
Three out of the four states (except Rajasthan) have had a non Congress-non UPA government for the entire duration of the UPA rule in Delhi. Rajasthan has had a Congress government since December 2008.
So trying to claim that the growth in these states has been only because of the UPA government is misleading to say the least. The argument is along similar lines where Congress politicians and some experts have tried to claim over and over again that Bihar has grown faster than Gujarat. Yes it has in percentage terms. But what they forget to tell us is that Gujarat is growing on a much higher base, meaning the absolute growth in Gujarat is higher. In fact, it is three times higher than that of Bihar (The entire argument is explained here).
If we look at the MSP across various commodities, they have increased by 50 to 200% since 2004-05: The government offers a minimum support price on various commodities including rice and wheat. At this price, the Food Corporation of India (FCI), or a state agency acting on its behalf, purchase primarily rice and wheat, grown by Indian farmers. The theory behind setting the MSP is that the farmer will have some idea the price he would get when he sells his produce after harvest. What it has led to is that more and more farmers are selling to the government because they have an assured buyer at an assured price. The government now has nearly Rs 60,000 crore of rice and wheat in excess of what it needs to maintain a buffer stock. While the government is hoarding onto more rice and wheat than it needs, there is a shortage of wheat and rice in the open market pushing up their prices and in turn food inflation and consumer price inflation. It has also pushed up food subsidies and fiscal deficit. Fiscal deficit is the difference between what the government earns and what it spends. And if the government continues with this policy there are likely to be other negative consequences as well. (The entire argument is explained here)
The current slowdown in industrial growth is a concern: This was the most tepid statement in the entire speech. Is it just a concern? Some of the biggest Indian industrialists have gone on record to say that they would rather invest abroad than in India. As Kumar Manglam Birla recently said in an interview “Country risk for India just now is pretty elevated and chances are that for deployment of capital, you would look to see if there is an asset overseas rather than in India…We are in 36 countries around the world. We haven’t seen such uncertainty and lack of transparency in policy anywhere.” The Birlas have known to be very close to the Congress party for a very long time.
And numbers bear this story. Indian corporates are investing abroad rather than India. In 2001-2002 this number was less than 1% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and currently it stands at 6% of the GDP (Source: This discussion featuring Morgan Stanley’s Ruchir Sharma and the Chief Economic Advisor to the government Raghuram Rajan on the news channel NDTV). So the situation is clearly more than just a concern. If Indian industrialists don’t want to invest in India who else will? Is it time to say good bye to industrial growth? Maybe the Prime Minister has an answer for that.
The economic growth has slowed down in 2012-13, because of the difficult global situation: This is something which the finance minister P Chidambaram also alluded to in his budget speech. What it tells us is that there is very little acknowledgement of mistakes that have been made by this government led by Manmohan Singh over the years.
When India was growing at growth rates of 8% and greater, there was a lot of chest thumping by various constituents of the government, that look we are growing at such a high rate. Now that we are not growing at the same speed its because of a difficult global situation.
Ruchir Sharma in a post budget discussion on the news channel NDTV made a very interesting point. India has consistently been at around 24-26
th position among 150 emerging market countries when it comes to economic growth over the last three decades.
We thought we were growing at a very fast rate over the last few years, but so was everyone else. As Sharma put it “The last decade we thought we had moved to a higher normal and it was all about us. Every single emerging market in the world boomed and the rising tide lifted all boats including us.”
But now that we are not growing as fast as we were it is because the global economy has slowed down. Sharma nicely summarised this disconnect when he said “When the downturn happens it is about the global economy. When we do well its about us.” India currently has fallen to the 40
th position when it comes to economic growth.
Will bring the country back to 8% growth rate: This is kite flying of the worst kind. As Sharma of Morgan Stanley told NDTV “I see people in government today including the Prime Minister talking about 8% GDP growth rate as if that is the level we should be. There is nothing to suggest that is our potential.”
Singh said that the government was committed to achieving a 8% growth rate for the period of the 12
th five year plan period of 2012-2017. In the first year of this plan i.e. the financial year 2012-2013 (the period between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013), the Indian economy is expected to grow at around 5%(numbers projected by the Central Statistical Organisation).
What that means is that if the 8% target is to be achieved, the economy has to consistently grow at 9% per year for the remaining four years of the plan. And India has never experienced such consistent high growth ever in the past.
Given that Singh’s statement needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. It is essentially rhetoric of the worst kind. As Nate Silver writes in The Signal and the Noise “Sometimes economic forecasts have expressively political purposes too. It turns out that economic forecasts produced by the White House , for instance, have historically been among the least accurate of all, regardless of whether it’s a Democrat or Republican in charge. When it comes to economic forecasting, however, the stakes are higher than for political punditry. As Robert Lucas pointed out, the line between economic forecasting and economic policy is very blurry: a bad forecast can make the real economy worse.” Singh’s 8% growth statement needs to be viewed along similar lines.
There were many things that Singh did not talk about. Among 150 emerging markets, the fiscal deficit of the Indian government is currently at the 148
th number. When it comes to inflation, India is currently at the 118-119th position. The current account deficit (which Singh did talk about) will touch an all time high during the course of the financial year 2012-2013. Interest rates have stubbornly refused to come down. And so on.
To conclude, Manmohan Singh was in poetic mood yesterday. “
Humko hai unse wafa ki umeed, jo nahi jaante wafa kya hai (We hope for loyalty from those who do not know the meaning of the word),” the prime minister said quoting the Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib, while taking pot-shots at the BJP.
It’s time the BJP got back to him with what are the most famous lines of the poet Akbar Allahabadi.
Hum aah bhi karte hain to ho jaate hain badnam,
wo qatl bhi karte hain to charcha nahi hota
(badnam = infamous. Qatl = murder. Charcha = discussion)
This article originally appeared on on March 7, 2013, with a different headline. 

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)