Friday 30 November 2012

UPA’s new found confidence

All agree UPA’s new found confidence packed with decisiveness and cohesion is better late than never. The government’s new found decisiveness is also a positive sign that the prolonged bout of political paralysis mainly due to appeasement of its allies is drawing to an end. Be it sectoral liberalization or direct cash transfer, its readiness to push reforms overtly is the best response to populist demand. The UPA has rightly paved the way for parliament to function without ceding its right to make policy. Congress has understood that being clear-thinking and resolute works wonders. This helped them to carry their allies too.

The UPA’s readiness to end the ongoing Parliamentary logjam on opposition’s terms; now it is not averse to discussion on retail FDI and even vote under Rule 184. The opposition’s insistence on a vote seems to have worked to the ruling coalition’s favour; it has made UPA constituents close ranks, with even a party like DMK who had some reservations on FDI earlier. With the SP and BSP going with the UPA, it looks confident about sailing through. Since the whole issue is about a key reform, this is reassuring.

Crucial bills – financial sector reforms, land acquisition, Lokpal have been frozen. By demanding a vote on an executive decision, the opposition led by BJP has sent a message that it is bent on challenging the policy-making prerogative of the government. Hoping to oust the UPA in 2014, the BJP should know creating such a precedent would cut both ways. Many an ardent supporter of BJP is upset with this policy of just trying to embarrass the government which may prove to be its undoing. With its own house in disarray with Nitin Gadkari episode, many view BJP’s antics as a diversionary tactic and show that it is still the major opposition party in Parliament.

Do read – Eternal Quest

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*Eternal Quest
A Memoir by Madhav Reghuram Pillai
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- Edited by A K Naik
Publisher: M R Pillai
Pages: 473
Price: Rs 400

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Indian cricket selection worries

Having played some cricket in school, club and college – true one should play to your strength. Three spinners in the team spoil the balance of the bowling attack, especially when we have part-time spinners like Virendra Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh who can bowl well enough and also bring in a surprise element. Ashwin , Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh kept bowling short and slow, giving the England batsmen adequate time to adjust to the turn in Mumbai. But Panesar and Swann were, unlike their Indian counterparts, quick through the air and off the pitch. The Indian spinners allowed Englishmen to score over 400 runs which ultimately proved costly.

It is no rocket science that in test cricket, a good team should have two good pace bowlers bowling consistently at 140 plus in tandem to bowl out the opposition and support the spinners. And if the spinners fail, they should help to bowl out the opposition. And especially on foreign tours, as long as we don’t get two to four real fast bowlers bowling at 140 plus, spinners will have limited success and India won’t make a big impact on world cricket. The medium pacers with movement off the pitch and air are just a stop gap arrangement and suitable for one day or Twenty overs cricket. Dhoni’s choice of three spinners in the last test is a big blow to aspiring pace bowlers who will feel what is the point of bending their backs and trying hard on dusty, flat Indian pitches if they are not going to get a chance to play for India.

Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan are good players but Yuvraj and now Zaheer suit one day cricket more than test cricket. Zaheer Khan should now stick to one day cricket and prolong his career and leave test cricket to young fast bowlers who would be very keen bend their backs to make an impact on the opposition. India has a strong batting line-up, with two good pace bowlers and two spinners with a couple of part-timers would make the Indian team more balanced. Indian selectors must think fast as India will be facing good international teams in India and abroad in the coming months.

Monday 26 November 2012

Congress rejuvenation & BJP’s troubles

After the spate of reforms push, Aadhar-based cash transfer to start in 51 districts from January 1 and recent hanging of Ajmal Kasab has rejuvenated the Congress. They seem to have scored brownie points and also sent a strong signal that this government means business, tired of appeasing some of its allies and opposition all this while. The only other major political party on the national scene, the BJP is in disarray and embroiled with internal rift with the Nitin Gadkari episode.

BJP is facing tough times. Senior leader Ram Jethmalini embarrassed BJP over Nitin Gadkari, and again over BJP’s opposition to the government’s appointment of CBI chief. He has been suspended for daring the party president Nitin Gadkari to take action. Former Karnataka CM and Lingayat strongman BS Yeddyrappa, is all set to break away from the party and launch his new party, Karnataka Janata Party on Dec 9. This may mark a big setback to the BJP’s plan for 2014 polls. With mounting dissidence, BJP leader Shatrugan Sinha has joined Ram Jethmalini and Yeshwant Sinha in demanding the resignation of party president Nitin Gadkari facing allegations of corruption which is bound to dent BJP’s high moral ground on corruption. There are many more who feel the same but scared to come in the open.

Now the people are realizing, in parliament BJP appears to stall the proceedings on each and everything the government brings without going for its merits or demerits. Its sole purpose seems to embarrass the government. Sometimes it gives an impression that the opposition is trying to be the government by dictating to the government. All this pandemonium by the opposition has led one to believe it won’t be that difficult for Congress to retain or increase its numbers in the next general election thereby being voted back to power as there is no alternative. BJP leadership for some reason seems to go for self-goals and low on confidence.

Thursday 22 November 2012

BJP’s worry

After Ram Jethmalini’s categorical public statement and the demand by senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha for the resignation of Nitin Gadkari shows that efforts to whitewash corruption charges by the party bosses, by labeling malpractices as normal business procedures of a social entrepreneur, have little credibility or takers even within the party. Others like Shatrugan Sinha and Jaswant Singh are supposed to hold similar views. Narendra Mody’s silence on this issue is baffling. The BJP can reclaim the high moral ground on corruption only if it goes all out to jettison tainted leaders. BJP supporters are anxious to know LK Advani’s view on the whole Gadkari episode. His silence indicates a tactical support for Gadkari’s outser. Insiders say it will be very difficult for Nitin Gadkari to get a second term. And if he manages to stay with RSS pressure, fissures are bound to develop soon.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Is Modi heading for hatrick or disaster?

Will Narendra Modi be the CM or PM is the question many in BJP are asking. With the Gujarat elections round the corner, most observers are of the view BJP and Modi will be back for the third term. If he wins, it won’t impact much, but if it is a landslide victory then he will emphatically claim to be the BJP candidate for the PM’s post.

This time round, it’s not going to be easy for Modi. He has to take into account the Keshubhai Patel, Joshi and Togadia factors as they will wean away a large chunk of votes from Modi. In his election campaign, he has generally spoken less of development and problems in Gujarat, and mostly spoken about Central Congress leaders, sometimes attacking them on personal level to provoke them to respond. And they have cleverly ignored his batter. This seems to be his strategy to focus on the national scene projecting him self as an able national leader.

Many feel though successful in Gujarat, he evokes a negative feeling outside the state, even within some amongst the BJP. In Gujarat, Narendra Modi is BJP, he does not allow anybody to flourish or take the limelight. Time and again he has shown he can’t take criticism even from his own party workers. He even sounds arrogant at times and gives an impression he is the savior of Gujarat and the people of the state. Gujarat was a progressive state even earlier during Congress rule, but Modi has been able to harness it and package this further development as his own success story.

Some insiders say this time he may have a tough time though he is not facing an incumbency factor as there is rebellion brewing within. He is still popular however as most Indian politicians, he has the habit putting his foot in the mouth by making silly comments and baseless allegations. He has attracted a lot of criticism for commenting on women. Many even want to know where is his school teacher wife he left years a go?

Many BJP supporters are projecting him as the next PM. But some within the BJP want to restrict him to Gujarat. Even the NDA allies are not enthusiastic about him for PM’s post. This is only possible if BJP wins more seats than its NDA allies. Presently this seems far fetched. Even if it does win, there are other candidates in the BJP, including the perennial Prime minister in waiting LK Advani who may be more acceptable in the BJP and amongst the NDA allies. Goa’s CM Manohar Parikkar deemed as young, educated and progressive may be the dark horse. The overall acceptability of Narendra Modi as the national leader and PM candidate seems to be bleak. Some NDA leaders have opposed to Modi being projected as the PM candidate. And Modi after his hatrick would certainly like to shift his base to Delhi to concentrate on national politics as he feels he is destined for bigger role in BJP at the centre. But will he be given that space and will he be a success?