IndiaPolitics

Let’s Play “Ghar-Ghar” with our Democracy, Mr. Prime Minister. Shall We?

When we were kids, my sister and her friends used to play a genre of games, which involved play acting. The game of the day could be “Ghar-Ghar” (House-House) or “Doctor-doctor”. Basically, the girls would act as if they were living in a house (many times in a really big one) and running the household as a family complete with making food and taking care of everyone or one was a Doc and the other was different patients. They both knew it wasn’t real, but they acted as if it was.

India’s Democracy is like that “Ghar-Ghar”. There is no house, no utensils, no real stuff, yet we pretend to be living in one. In the videos below, the forever irritating and uninformed “interviewer” Karan Thapar is worried in his monolog – well, he likes to call it an interview, but the clip never passed my test of an interview where two people actually SPEAK! – that Anna Hazare’s protest will undermine India’s democracy. Pray, how? Well, by “blackmailing” the Parliament into pushing a bill, it is undermining the power of “People’s representatives”.

Even the ever elusive and deceptively inane Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh alleges the same thing – that India’s Parliamentary Democracy is at stake. In fact he says that Anna Hazare’s attempt to “impose” his own version of Lokpal bill is “totally misconceived” and fraught with “grave consequences” for Parliamentary democracy.

And as I listen to the the Indian PM who reticently speaks and Karan Thapar who elaborates rather eloquently on the virtues of “People’s representatives” making and enforcing laws, my mind wandered off to not so distant past. The year was 2008 and India’s Parliament was having a Trust Vote for the Indo-US Nuclear deal. At that time, Congress bought opposition MPs for crores of Rupees.

It was open knowledge that Indian Members of Parliament (MPs) come for a price ranging from INR 100 million to 250 million. As AB Bardhan, the CPI General Secretary, said openly that MPs’ going rate is Rs 25 crores (250 million). (Indian MP can be bought for $6 million)

To fully understand the details of how Congress behaved at that time, please read “Wikileaks talk of Horse Trading but fail to remind Indians how brain dead they are!”.

As per the Wikileaks, Cong was ready with crores, jet planes to buy MPs. The full text of the Wikileaks Cable is at the end of this post.

So, all those exalted MPs who are supposed to be ensuring our democracy’s integrity and we are made to believe are our “representatives” – are nothing more than prostitutes. (Indian politicians – Role Models for Prostitutes in the world).

Unless we want to enjoy the juvenile mass nation-wide version of Ghar-Ghar, it might be a good idea to tell people like Karan Thapar that its time he stopped smoking whatever the heck he has been for years. If he were to be sober again, he may realize, if his brain has not been permanently been damaged by his drugged state all these years, that the “Representative Democracy” that he was taught in his 1st grade, never was a reality.

If the MPs aren’t our representatives, then an old guy like Anna Hazare at whose call, hundreds of thousands have come out on the streets (even though he didn’t pay them anything) may be the real representative of people’s aspirations. So, just in case the brain-dead UPA thugs haven’t figured it out as yet, Anna Hazare’s Jan LokPal bill IS THE REAL THING!

If there was anywhere a leader in the country, then now is the time for him/her to stand up. For this is a tailor made situation for a new party and a new dispensation to rule India. Congress is sure to go and with it the other parties can also be dumped down the drain. That forever elusive leader is what everyone is now looking for.

Karan Thapar’s monolog for Arvind Kejriwal

Part I

Part II

Full Text of the Wikileaks Cable

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 NEW DELHI 001972 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/17/2018 TAGS: PREL PARM TSPL KNNP ETTC ENRG TRGY IN SUBJECT: POLITICAL BARGAINING CONTINUES PRIOR TO KEY VOTE IN PARLIAMENT REF: KOLKATA 209 Classified By: Charge D’Affaires Steven White for Reasons 1.4 (B and D)

1. (C) SUMMARY. Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and his delegation departed for Vienna on July 17 to brief the 35 Board members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and another 19 members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative. In Delhi, government officials responded positively to suggestions about how to address concerns emerging from Vienna, particularly the need to begin negotiating an IAEA Additional Protocol and for the IAEA to circulate India’s (INFCIRC) already-public separation plan as an official IAEA document. Political horse-trading continued in anticipation of the special session of parliament to consider the confidence vote on July 21 followed by the vote itself on July 22. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani each plan to host a dinner for supporters on July 20; the parties will presumably have to chose one or the other. An estranged Congress Party MP and three Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MPs publicly stated their intention to vote against the UPA, leaving the government still clinging to a slim majority. Small parties representing collectively about 20 votes find themselves with generous suitors; one party chief has reportedly succeeded in having the Lucknow airport renamed after his father. The unrequited Left continued its anti-government rant, but showed signs of internal strain. Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee refused to resign despite pressure from within the Communist party to do so and has made it clear that he was not in favor of the Left voting with the opposition BJP against the government, a position that seems to have resonance among comrades disinclined to face early elections. END SUMMARY.

GOI to Address IAEA Member Concerns, Fumbles on Scheduling – – –

2. (SBU) Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon departed for Vienna on July 17 for his briefing on July 18 to IAEA Board members and NSG members on the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative. Local media had reported statements by an IAEA spokesman on July 16 that the briefing by the visiting Indian delegation had been canceled. In fact, the briefing was scaled down from all 140 IAEA members to just the 35 Board members, in addition to the 19 others that comprise the 45-member NSG that do not also sit on the IAEA Board. Menon is traveling with Department of Atomic Energy director for strategic plans Dr. R.B. Grover, Department Of Atomic Energy’s (DAE) Gitish Sharma, and Chief of Staff Naveen Srivastava. They will be joined in Vienna by Geneva-based Ministry of External Affairs Counselor Venkatesh Varma, a veteran of nuclear deal negotiations.

Also read:  After IT Professionals, it is the turn of Indian Truck Drivers to come to the US!

3. (C) Pursuant to recommendations from the U.S. Mission to the IAEA, PolCouns raised two issues of concern to IAEA Board members on July 16 with Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary for the Americas Gaitri Kumar and Virender Paul in the National Security Adviser’s office. PolCouns stressed the importance of starting negotiations on an Additional Protocol as soon as possible, relaying that such agreements usually take about a year to conclude but that IAEA Legal could have a model text ready quickly if the Indians ask to begin negotiations. PolCouns also reported, following messages from UNVIE, that some IAEA delegations did not understand the connection between the safeguards agreement (with its blank safeguarded facilities list) and the separation plan listing the civil nuclear facilities that would fall under safeguards (already a public document). PolCouns shared that the IAEA is prepared to circulate the separation plan as an official IAEA document if the Indians request it. Both Kumar and Paul promised to get on these two tasks “”right away”” to set things up for a productive trip to Vienna for Menon. On the Additional Protocol, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy will have to push the Department of Atomic Energy, which will have the lead. On the facilities list, an instruction could go to India’s mission in Vienna fairly quickly. UPA Maintains Precarious Lead In Vote Count

– – – NEW DELHI 00001972 002 OF 004

4. (SBU) The special session of parliament to consider the confidence vote will begin on July 21 and conclude with a vote on July 22. Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Vayalar Ravi claimed on July 15 that the government would prevail in the July 22 confidence vote with over 280 votes cast in its favor. Kuldip Bishnoi, an estranged Congress Party MP who had been suspended for floating the idea of forming his own party in December 2007, confirmed his intention to defect in the confidence vote. (This development was apparently expected by party insiders and not a leading indicator of further fragmentation within the party.) Consulate Chennai reported on July 17 that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has publicly stated it will vote against the UPA. One of its three members of parliament has broken from the party, but is unlikely to support the government because the TRS has positioned the trust vote as a statehood issue, so voting for the UPA would mean voting against Telangana interests.

5. (SBU) Our best guess at this time show the government maintaining its slim majority with the anticipated vote count at about 273 in favor, 251 opposed, and 19 abstentions. A similar analysis from the British High Commission tracks closely with our numbers. Dueling Dinners Force Parties to Declare Loyalties – – –

6. (SBU) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani each plan to host a dinner for supporters on July 20, the evening before the special parliamentary session begins on July 21. Media reported that Advani will use the dinner as a strategy session to field MPs to speak against the confidence motion. Advani will also reportedly meet the BJP’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) supporters on July 17, including Chief Ministers of the states where NDA constituents are in power. Rajasthan Chief Minister Raje reportedly plans to skip the meeting, raising the ire of the BJP leadership.

7. (SBU) Prime Minister Singh’s dinner on July 20 will include the Congress Party’s new allies in the Samajwadi Party as well as other recent converts and fence-sitters from smaller parties. The Telegraph quoted a senior government source who said that PM Singh was “”neither crunching numbers nor seeking daily briefings on the political sensex. His bottom line is clear.”” It also claimed that PM Singh was upset with the BJP for allegedly recanting on an “”understanding”” that it would support the deal. The article concludes that if the government survives the July 22 vote, PM Singh’s priority would be to implement flagship social programs to thank his party for rallying behind him.

Votes For Sale – – –

8. (SBU) Behind the scenes, the Congress Party machine is working overtime. Sonia Gandhi reportedly plans to meet Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Shibu Soren and Janata Dal Secular (JD-S) leader H.D. Deve Gowda. Retaining the support of JMM’s five seats and the JD-S’s three seats is reportedly vital to the UPA government’s strategy. In exchange for retaining the support of the three votes of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the Congress Party has reportedly pledged its support to rename Lucknow’s Amausi airport after Chaudhary Charan Singh, father of RLD leader Ajit Charan Singh, who may also get a cabinet seat.

9. (C) On July 16, PolCouns met with Captain Satish Sharma, a Congress Party MP in the Rajya Sabha, a former Indian Airlines Pilot, and a close associate of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi considered to be a very close family friend of Sonia Gandhi. Sharma mentioned that he, as well as others in the party, was working hard to ensure that the UPA government wins the confidence vote on July 22. He said that the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi were committed to the nuclear initiative and had conveyed this message clearly to the party. Sharma said that PM Singh and others were trying to work on the Akali Dal (8 votes) through financier Sant Chatwal and others, but unfortunately it did not work out. He mentioned that efforts to encourage Shiv Sena (12 votes) to abstain were on-going. While different Congress operatives were working on different groups of MPs, Sharma said that Rahul Gandhi was personally working Omar NEW DELHI 00001972 003 OF 004 Abdullah’s Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (J&KNC), whose two MPs are inclined to vote in favor of the UPA. Sharma mentioned that he was also exploring the possibility of trying to get former Prime Minister Vajpayee’s son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya to speak to BJP representatives to try to divide the BJP ranks. He mentioned that if the party wins the trust vote, they would then prefer to go for national elections in February or March 2009, which would give the UPA time to control prices and bring down inflation.

Also read:  Visas, Margins, Costs and the Indian IT Companies: Need for a new Outsourcing Paradigm

10. (S) Sharma’s political aide Nachiketa Kapur mentioned to an Embassy staff member in an aside on July 16 that Ajit Singh’s RLD had been paid Rupees 10 crore (about $2.5 million) for each of their four MPs to support the government. Kapur mentioned that money was not an issue at all, but the crucial thing was to ensure that those who took the money would vote for the government. Kapur showed the Embassy employee two chests containing cash and said that around Rupees 50-60 crore (about $25 million) was lying around the house for use as pay-offs.

11. (S) Another Congress Party insider told PolCouns that Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath is also helping to spread largesse. “”Formerly he could only offer small planes as bribes,”” according to this interlocutor, now he can pay for votes with jets.””

“”What If””s: No Vote or a UPA Defeat
– – –

12. (SBU) PM Singh appears to have opened the door to the Left to call off the vote, telling media on July 16 that the government had the numbers to prevail in the confidence vote and that it was “”unfortunate”” that the special session had to be foisted upon parliament and distract the government from addressing urgent issues like inflation. PM Singh publicly acknowledged trying to get the BJP to support the nuclear initiative by reaching out to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but Vajpayee reportedly deferred to opposition leader L.K. Advani to make the call.

13. (SBU) There are some signs that the GOI may decide to go ahead with the nuclear initiative even if it loses the confidence vote on July 22. Media quoted Rahul Gandhi on July 16 as saying, “”I support the PM 100 percent on the nuke deal. We are going to win the trust vote, but even if the government falls, so be it.”” He also claimed the BJP was divided over the nuclear initiative, saying, “”There are people in the BJP who support the deal and do not know why their party is opposing it.”” Rahul Gandhi also recalled how Left parties in the mid-1980s had stonewalled his father Rajiv Gandhi’s efforts to introduce computers in government offices and vision of a computerized India. Congress Party Chief Sonia Gandhi said in Andra Pradesh on July 17 that the government “”will not compromise on the nuclear deal because it is in the national interest.”

” Disagreements Among Comrades: Left Shows Signs of Strain – – –

14. (SBU) The Left continued its rant against the government. The Community Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Polit Bureau groused that the Prime Minister’s Office set a “”dangerous precedent”” by meeting industrialist Mukesh Ambani on July 14, during which Ambani reportedly offered help in securing Shiv Sena support for the UPA government. The CPI-M said the government’s rejection of the use of force against Iran by Israel was “”timely,”” but that it would only be credible if the government were to cut military ties with Israel.

15. (SBU) The Left has also begun to show signs of internal strain. CPI-M Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury told media on July 15 that the party erred in listing Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee among its members who withdrew support from the UPA government on July 8. Chatterjee said he does not want to step down as Speaker despite pressure from within the party to do so. He also wrote a letter to Prakash Karat making it clear that he was not in favor of the Left voting with the opposition BJP against the government. (Chatterjee has looked to the UPA government to help him keep his position as Speaker and appears to be rallying moderate CPI-M members disinclined to join their comrades in voting with their rival BJP against a government that they supported for
NEW DELHI 00001972 004 OF 004 several years.) Also on July 15, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and two other SP leaders called for Chatterjee not to quit his post.

16. (SBU) Consulate Kolkata reported on the growing split within the CPI-M (reftel). Many CPI-M members, particularly Muslims, cannot fathom voving with the “”communalist”” BJP. A large group of West Bengal MPs do not want to bring down the government and are angry at Karat for his failed strategy. If the government falls, they fear the CPI-M could lose 10-15 seats in new elections based on unfavorable recent local election results. If the government survives, the Left will be embarrassed for having achieved nothing on the issues that are important to their constituents, few of whom care about the nuclear initiative. Though defection is a possibility, Communist Party discipline remains strong and members are unlikely to vote with the government.

Communists Find Muslims To Be More Anti-BJP Than Anti-American – –

17. (SBU) A Times of India report on July 17 claimed that Muslim MPs do not view the nuclear initiative confidence vote as a communal issue, but rather one of differences in perception of national interest based on party positions. Of the 37 Muslim members of parliament, 26 are in parties that have declared their support to the government for the confidence vote, while 11 are with anti-deal parties. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has tried to turn the confidence vote into into a communal issue by reaching out to Muslim councils (“”bhaichara”” committees) and Islamic scholars in Uttar Pradesh and claiming that the Congress Party has compromised their interests. This strategy appears to be failing, partly because Muslims view the BJP as a more immediate threat than closer relations with the U.S. Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP and central committee member Hannan Mollah reportedly told media, “”Let’s see what strategy can be worked out to convince the Muslim electorate that we are not working in tandem with the BJP.”” Media reported a Forward Bloc local assembly member in West Bengal, Mehboob Mondal, saying, “”It’s becoming difficult to explain that we are not with the BJP. It’s clear that Muslims are not happy with us and their feelings may well reflect on Lok Sabha results.””

Get Drishtikone Updates
in your inbox

Subscribe to Drishtikone updates and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Desh Kapoor

The panache of a writer is proven by the creative pen he uses to transform the most mundane topic into a thrilling story. Desh - the author, critic and analyst uses the power of his pen to create thought-provoking pieces from ordinary topics of discussion. He writes on myriad interesting themes. Read the articles to know more about his views and "drishtikone".

Related Articles

Get Drishtikone Updates
in your inbox

Subscribe to Drishtikone updates and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Close
%d bloggers like this: