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Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi from a “not-so-Aam” Aadmi*

19 June 2010 3,093 views 47 Comments

Dear Rahul,

First of all, please accept my warm wishes on your birthday.  Many Happy Returns and may you have many healthy and peaceful years ahead of you.

Today – as you turn 40 – must be a special day for you. I felt it was also an appropriate day to understand your thoughts and get your answers to some questions that have been troubling me for a while.

Like most of our fellow citizens, I have been watching your trajectory over the past few years with interest. I remember the sense of sympathy I felt watching you on TV when you lost your father. I had a strong interest in politics even then but I would have found it hard to guess that someday you might be a PM-in-waiting (With hindisght, that should not have been a surprise).

So while I understand that you may be a reluctant leader, as someone who is widely tipped to be a future PM – and is revered by his party (which also happens to lead the current coalition), I believe you have certain responsibilities towards people like me – who often wonder about your background, your entry into politics and your views on matters of critical importance – as well as your ideology.

Unlike you, I am not a reluctant entrant into politics. Neither do I share your privileged upbringing..or pedigree..or smooth entry into the corridors of power.

However I do share one thing with you – and that is being blessed with good fortune. Being blessed enough to be where I am today. Being blessed enough to have the “luxury of thought”. Being blessed enough to have the opportunity to give a little something back to my country and my people who have made me what I am today.

Unlike you though I have a VERY long way to go to get anywhere near a position where I can make a difference…but I do hope that our paths cross some-time. They almost did a decade ago (while you were at Monitor Co. in London)…and I do believe in divine conspiracies.

But this post is not about crossing paths or divine conspiracies. It is about some questions that have been nagging me (and I am sure many others) for quite a while. As the widely read and respected Sh Pratap Bhanu Mehta wrote yesterday:

You can add to this mix the curious phenomenon of Rahul Gandhi. His attention to the party and building a democratic youth cadre is important. But those experiments will generate more skepticism if they do not have any tangible results for transparency in the relationship between party and government. If the Congress cannot solve its internal coordination problems, what confidence will it inspire that it can negotiate the thicket of new social conflicts about to arise? It is very hard to make the case that there has been a visible improvement in the functioning of the Congress party on any issue, whether it is the distribution of Rajya Sabha tickets, or its ability to come clean on its own past.

You may wonder what my locus standi is in asking you these questions. Well not much beyond a concerned citizen of India, a fellow political activist (if I may use that term for you) and someone who will be deeply affected by the decisions that you and your party (and perhaps even government) may take in the years to come.

As an “interested party”, I am therefore very keen to hear your thoughts…I believe citizens have a right to know what their (present and aspiring) political leaders stand for. As a PM-in-waiting, I am sure you understand that responsbility.

Without further ado, here are a few questions that I would like to pose to you. I do hope that you – or someone who is familiar with your thoughts on these matters – takes the trouble of responding to this post. I will try and make it easy for you – and will accept an email, a letter, a fax – or even a phone call as a means to get your responses. And I will do my best to see that this letter reaches you (via email, tweets and by posting it on my blog).

Some Questions for a PM-in-waiting

Q1: Why did you decide to leave your job/work and get into politics?

Q2: What is your ideology?

Q3: What in your view – is the most effective way to curb corruption in our political system and in our administrative set-up?

Q4: What is your position on campaign finance reforms?

Q5: What is your view on “criminalization” of politics? What are your thoughts on banning people with criminal convictions from standing for elections?

Continued below…

Rahul Gandhi Congress

Image courtesy: Congress(I) Party Website

Q6: What is the most important “economic” challenge that we have?

Q7: What is your stance towards economic reforms?

Q8: What is your view on taxes? Do you support progressive taxation? or flat taxes? How about negative income tax?

Q9: What are your views on the “parallel economy”? How do you see the problem and how would you deal with it?

Q10: What in your view is the most important “social” issue facing our country today?

Q11: What are your views on reservations in education, jobs, promotions and in the private sector? What is your view on reservations on the basis of caste, religion and socio-economic measures?

Q12: What is your view on “hot-pursuit” across the border (when dealing with terrorists from a certain neighbouring country) given that you have publicly stressed on the need for Congress(I) party to “work for the larger acceptance of non-violence within the country and in the international community “?

Q13: Finally, what is the single biggest problem in Indian politics today? Is it Corruption? Criminalization? Lack of competence? Fragmentation of electoral base – along casteist, religious, regional lines? Something else?

Yours in the service of our nation,

Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!

Shantanu

* I choose this term “not-so-Aam” with care. It does not mean that I am someone special or “khaas”. But in all honesty, I find it difficult to think of myself as an “Aam Aadmi” – when more than half of my fellow citizens cannot understand what I am writing here; more than that are probably too tired and in despair to think about these questions…and only a tiny fraction are in a position to do something about this. I believe we insult the real “aam aadmi” of India by calling ourselves that. The vast majority of those reading this letter do not fall in this category. As part of this tiny fraction of people, I am “not-so-Aam”. You, of course are “special”.

P.S. I doubt you have the time – or that you are really interested – but in the off-chance that you do, here are my thoughts on some of these questions…There is a lot more that can be gleaned about my personal ideology and inclinations from this caegory of posts.

47 Comments »

  • 1. Ashok said:

    Very well written, your questions were unbiased and sharp. Also i liked ur def for aam aadmi, keep it up, i hope the questions reach the concerned person..

  • 2. Prashant Serai said:

    wonderful set of questions..to have a view on all of them may be considered a mark of knowledge..

    “It is very hard to make the case that there has been a visible improvement in the functioning of the Congress party on any issue, whether it is the distribution of Rajya Sabha tickets, or its ability to come clean on its own past.”
    yes.. but he may also not be so foolish to plainly waste his time in that case..

  • 3. ashwani said:

    easy q’s easy ans’s.

    1.i did not leave as i had none & fooling indians is in my veins so

    obviously…

    2.same as my father’s/garndmother’s/great grandfather’s i.e posing without

    knowing.

    3.corruption is an asset why curb it.??

    4.employing recovery agents for easier collections.

    5.criminals bring vigour to politics,where would i be if iwere to ban my

    ilk(remember sukanya devi).

    6.making laws so that all tax collections are straight away transferred to

    channel islands.

    7.strive for trillions.

    8.all taxes belong to me/my family,what negative taxes am i a fool.

    9.parallel economy shall be abolished.only family economy remains.

    10.freedom of criticsm of the family.

    11.all reservations at my discretion,the highest bidder gets.

    12.all hot pursuit from across the borders will be welcomed.we’re gandhis.

    13.absence of dictatorship.rectification my first priority.

  • 4. Ranganaathan said:

    Good timing for these questions, PM in waiting & hope to understand if Rahul is willing to read this & reply. He has a battery of advisors/professionals who can help him draft the replies. After having experienced 3 decades of politics in Bharath, i doubt if Rahul would reply for this. And your definition of Aam Admi is brilliant. Vande Mataram.

  • 5. Dinesh said:

    Instead of offline responses (these may be drafted by someone else), there should be a face-to-face interrogation on these issues. Only then will we know whether he is a PM material or not.

  • 6. Kishan said:

    Shantanu you are an urban Khas Aadmi and your vision is limited to only the upper middle class vision. However all of your questions are valid but the list is incomplete. So I would like to add a few questions to your list.
    1- What in your view is the best and self-sustainable way to help the last man/woman in the rural queue that the Mahatma used to emphasize so much? This obviously assumes that the present way of giving out doles is not the best way.
    2- What in your view is the way to reinvigorate the rural economy that seems to have reached a plateau not only in terms of productivity but even degeneration of soil due to indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers?
    3- What in your view is the best way to address the legitimate concerns of the tribals who must be adequately compensated for the loss of their land because the state cannot abdicate its responsibility to exploit in the best possible way the mineral wealth of the nation?
    4- What are your views on police reforms, on administrative reforms, on reforms aimed at making the front-line representative of the state (say the ordinary police constable) more responsive and co-operative and more sympathetic to the needs of the Aam Aadmi?

  • 7. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @Ashok, Prashant, Ranganaathan and Dinesh: Thanks a lot for your comments…Like most of you, I am doubtful if I will hear anything back.

    @ ashwani: Good tongue-in-cheek responses!

    @ Kishan: Thanks for your comment…I agree with your sentiments. I have not stayed in a village except for a few weeks at most…but I do have some understanding of the issues that rural India faces (having travelled extensively and continuing to do so even now)…but I agree that the questions appear to have an “urban” bias.

    You have raised some very valid points…and I will be delighted if we get an answer to these…I will try and include them in the main post (with full attribution, of course). Thanks

    My view on rural development is predicated on developing industry and creating employment opporutnities in/ near rural areas. Agriculture cannot continue to sustain 65%+ of the population.

    I will respond to your great question about tribal rights once I’m back from my travels…It deserves serious thought.

    As for views on “police reforms, on administrative reforms..”, who can argue with these? The need for this is dire. On police reforms, I would encourage everyone to read an article by my friend and current IG, Tripura Joydeep Naik here.

  • 8. Amitabh said:

    I heard your post has been sent to Mani Shankar Aiyer & Manish Tiwari for decoding purposes for Rahul baba….!

  • 9. Indian said:

    Congress got ready course material from here. This list will work as a homework for Rahul Gandhi and congress will make sure he does good at it! But they are not going to reply to anyone. Did not any one notice the quote from congress that pointing finger at Late Rajiv Gandhi is unpatriotic in Bhopal case. So days are not far when congress will appear saying ‘pointing finger at son of late PM is unpatriotic and not ethical.’

  • 10. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Amitabh, Indian: That was funny!!

    ***
    For the record, below are 3 tweets that are part of the attempt to get the questions in front of RG.

    I hope to get some email addresses tomorrow and will send the questions via them as well.

    @ajaymaken @shashitharoor Can we pl hear RG’s views on these Qs? http://bit.ly/dp2A13 Thanks
    about 12 hours ago via web

    Cn we pl hear RG’s views on these Qs? http://bit.ly/dp2A13 @Manishtewari @BDUTT @sardesairajdeep @PrabhuChawla @sagarikaghose @virsanghvi
    about 14 hours ago via web

    Request to all: Pl circulate these list of Qs to RG & advisors. Hope he responds http://bit.ly/dp2A13
    about 14 hours ago via web

  • 11. Jiggs said:

    Shantanu,

    Well said, all in all good questions and I know you are sure, that you will hear nothing from the Congress.

    Personally, I am ashamed to see fellow Bhartiya’s ( both Literate & Illiterate) going over board in praising the Dynasty.

    Just shows how much we have progressed since 1947.

    However, I am a firm believer in the Hindi adage “भगवन के घर में देर हैं, अंधेर नहीं |”

    Vande Mataram!

  • 12. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Thanks to Supratim for this link: The mysterious Mr Gandhi. Excerpts (emphasis mine):

    THE young man with the future of India on his shoulders reportedly slipped out of the country to celebrate, perhaps with a long-rumoured Spanish girlfriend. But at home his birthday on June 19th was treated as a coming-of-age marked with fireworks, donations of blood, poems and prayers, a seven-day temple pilgrimage through insurgency-infested forest, and lots and lots of gushing editorials and articles.

    For Indian youth, wrote a columnist in the Times of India, politics had become “a sphere of terrible murkiness”, symbolised by greed, ruthlessness and violence. Yet the young fellow had changed all this. …He was “the most refreshing arrival on the political block since decades”.

    A couple of points briefly trouble the mind over this assessment. First, Rahul Gandhi, more than any of his 1.2 billion compatriates, is the embodiment of privilege, and hardly an encroaching outsider.

    A second troubling point has to do with all the recent references to Rahul’s youthful age. Forty, after all, is not really that young. By then a man might be expected to have made his mark in the world, rather than be celebrating his coming-of-age. By the time they were Rahul’s age, Mozart and Alexander the Great had both been dead for several years. At 33 Jesus Christ had preached, healed, died and risen. The comparison is not wholly unfair, since Rahul’s disciples talk of him as India’s saviour.

    …To be sure, being viewed as a political outsider keeps Rahul’s image pure.
    But Mr Gandhi’s thoughts on policy remain a mystery. And as for press conferences or interviews that might test his mettle, forget it.

    …Yet the question that remains is what Mr Gandhi believes in. Mr Singh, we know, seeks an “inclusive” growth that blends market liberalism with stronger state institutions. That is fine as far as it goes. But as Pratap Bhanu Mehta of the Centre for Policy Research puts it, he lacks the political clout to kick arse…

  • 13. Indian said:

    I liked this from the above given link.

    —-Today Congress stands ready to do the family’s bidding, like a well-upholstered Ambassador car always at the front door. A second, even more impressive vehicle, known simply as India, boasts wheels of state, and its chauffeur is respectfully called “prime minister”. It offers an exhilarating if often erratic ride (it belches smoke and lurches in unexpected directions, when it is not stuck in traffic). It is currently on loan to a loyal and honest retainer, Manmohan Singh, no mean driver for a man of his years. But this car is Rahul’s heirloom. It is just a question of time before he asks for the keys back—–.

  • 14. Ashwin Kumaraswamy said:

    @ Shantanu,

    I dont want to answer Rahul’s questions, but i disagree with the tenor and the nature of some of the questions put forth.

    I dont agree with your reference to Rahul Gandhi as “not so aam aadmi”. For God sake he has not asked anyone to treat him as someone special. It is not his fault to have been born into the Nehru-Gandhi and being a son and grand son and great greandson of India’s former Prime Minister.

    In your words, you happen to be have the privilage to be what you are, Rahul Gandhi does have the same privilage!

    Q1: Why did you decide to leave your job/work and get into politics?
    I happen to read (sorry cant quote the refernce, as i have forgotten).. Rahul’s foray into politics began the day he lit his father’s funeral pyre….. as he looked around the emotions of ppl of Amethi and also looking back into family tradition and history of having contributed to Indian independence, Indian polity and the contributions of the family to India…he wanted to carry on the family legacy. Is there any wrong in it? At least i dont think any wrong. Also he happened to say, he wants to do his bit – never has he said he is in politics to be the PM of India. Now i hope you agree with me Shantanu, that Rahul cant be faulted for his name being touted as the PM in waiting…
    Also in th elast few years Rahul has proved beyoung doubt that he is not in politics for the glitz and glamour, but more so to leave a more lasting legacy in rebiulding the congree party to be the choice of every Indian to represent the people of India and thus provide an effective leadership for the future.

    Q2: What is your ideology?
    Congress is the only pan India secular party which has always practised inclusive politics. Now that does not mean there have been hiccups, like any family there are differneces and shortcommings and at times blunders.. but i still beleive Congress is the only pan India party. Had itr not been so, it would have disintegrated.
    In my opinion, the reason Nehru was choosen ahead of Sardar patel or any other Congress leader to be the first PM of India by Gandhi – was because of Nehru’s pan India image and his integrity to be more inclusive. (This does not mean Sardar Patel or others where not great, but for variety of reasons they had developed a certain image which was not accepted by pan Inida).

    Q3: What in your view – is the most effective way to curb corruption in our political system and in our administrative set-up?
    Sadly i dont agree with this question neither i agree with any possible answer that can be put forth. In my view corruption is a far more deep rooted in our Society to such an extent it has almost become a way of life in major parts of the society. Corruption was there before India got independent and it is not that any one political party contributed to the raise of corruption.
    The only way to address is by addressing the way of life and adressing the societal attitude towards life. Any other means is just a quick fix solution – which could work but i suspect corruption can still persist. It is not that India lacks enough rules and regulations to be stringenent on corruption in public life, but the fact is the both the practioners of public life and public themselves are to be blamed for todays position where is corruption has help its head high up!

    Q5: What is your view on “criminalization” of politics? What are your thoughts on banning people with criminal convictions from standing for elections?
    No political party in India will want criminals to be in their party. But in the same way no current political party has the guts to throw out ppl with crimical past to stop practising politics. Afterall we are in democracy, where peoples power is far bigger than anything else. Further if people of india forgive the criminal past, then they are clean and above judicial decision (sadly)!

    Q6-Q9:
    I dont think, this is the correct time to ask him the questions. End of the day in the parliamentary democracy there needs to be discussion on the issues raised. I am sure Rahul gandhi has his own views on the questions, but not sure that can all be carried!
    Today, majority of countries are following hybrid economic theories – and have their own variants! Are there any country who purely follow free market economic theory?

    Q11: What are your views on reservations in education, jobs, promotions and in the private sector? What is your view on reservations on the basis of caste, religion and socio-economic measures?
    —-
    This is another issue, where both Congress and BJP will talk in unison that merotocracy needs to be adhered, but the question is much deeper. Both BJP and Congress wants a middle path to corrective measure and yet withdraw reservation at the right time!

    Q13: Finally, what is the single biggest problem in Indian politics today? Is it Corruption? Criminalization? Lack of competence? Fragmentation of electoral base – along casteist, religious, regional lines? Something else?
    —-
    Delivery mechanism is the biggest problem with Indian politics today and for the last 40yrs. As Rahul’s father most famously told in the parliment “In India for every Rs1 spent by the government – only 10paisa reaches the people”

    Lastly my apologies for such a long post! Though not what you expected, but i hope there is enough food for thoughts!!

  • 15. Indian said:

    @Ashwin Kumarswamy

    Sorry to bother you but this is what you said in your last line.

    —-Delivery mechanism is the biggest problem with Indian politics today and for the last 40yrs. As Rahul’s father most famously told in the parliment “In India for every Rs1 spent by the government – only 10paisa reaches the people”—–

    This reminds me of Bhopal case; was he serious for what he said? I think Nehru-Gandhi family has always soft heart for westerners. and has developed the eyes for Indians as vehicle to fulfill their national as well as international ambitions. My take; they were not at all a serious political leaders and that’s the reason we failed to deliver. With time everything must change, India has long since change after the Rahul Gandhi has looked around the emotions of Amethi. India need change not Rahul Gandhi! He must be good human being but not able as PM!

    Sorry Ashwin, nothing against you but this is my political views.

  • 16. Ashwin Kumaraswamy said:

    @ Indian,

    I have no problems with your political ideology and it is always good to have a difference of opinion and also good discussion for a vibrant democracy.

    On the Bhopal issue, it is wrong to blame any one person. I guess it was a failure of the system – that of both the state and the central government. Also i would blame the successive governments which have not bothered to bring relief rather than just engaging in rhetoric!
    Further the judiciary was hopeless.

    I am sure Shantanu would have a view on this – but i am more interested in being apolotical on issues of national disaster! Be it Congress or BJP they none can take any moralistic hugh ground!

    Let us see what would happen to the recently announced relief package!

  • 17. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @ Ashwin: Much as I enjoyed reading your responses, I would honestly like these to be answered by RG himself – ideally in public.

    Is that too much to expect?

    I will try and respond to your thoughts separately (just back from an intense work-related visit to India). Thanks

    ***
    @Indian: Thanks for raising the Bhopal issue…hope to respond on that too.

  • 18. Sid said:

    @indian,
    do not sweat too much. The dude is a Gandhi-das. No matter what you tell him, he would find all sorts of reasons to vote “Bapu ka Bahu” to power. A big portion of this country suffers from twisted form of stockholm syndrome, they keep voting the same people who are responsible for their poverty and misery.

  • 19. Anupam said:

    @Ashwin,
    I find your reponse quite amusing –

    1.
    “Rahul’s foray into politics began the day he lit his father’s funeral pyre….. as he looked around the emotions of ppl of Amethi and also looking back into family tradition and history of having contributed to Indian independence, Indian polity and the contributions of the family to India…he wanted to carry on the family legacy. Is there any wrong in it?”

    Are you writing a book on Rahul Gandhi…I have nothing to say, this statement is just ridiculous and will be a good opening line if someone decided to write a novel…

    2.
    “In my opinion, the reason Nehru was choosen ahead of Sardar patel or any other Congress leader to be the first PM of India by Gandhi – was because of Nehru’s pan India image and his integrity to be more inclusive. ”

    I am sure you must be aware that Sardar was chosen as PM candidate by CWC and Gandhi overruled. If not for Patel we would have naother South Pakistan in Nizam( Hyderabad ) and No J & K.

    3.”In my view corruption is a far more deep rooted in our Society to such an extent it has almost become a way of life in major parts of the society. Corruption was there before India got independent and it is not that any one political party contributed to the raise of corruption.?”

    Big Joke again. Don’t blame India and its culture for what Congress has done. Especially after Indira Gandhi took over. I take deep offense when you blame the Indian society and our culture for corruption. What do you mean corruption was there before independence, are you saying British government was corrupt. And if that is true, why should the government of Independet India be corrupt. What was stopping Congress to root out corruption? Don’t forget that congress har ruled for more than 50 years out of more than 60 years of independence.

    4.root cause of delivery mechanism failure is corruption and big government. So delivery mechanism is just an effect of other deep rootede problem…but Rajiv Gandhi could not understand that even though he realized that only 10 paise was reaching to poor. You know why he did not realize that…becuase his entry in politics was not based on a clear thought process and sound ideology, his entry also started when he lit his Mother’s funeral Pyre and saw the faces around him….For God sake ..we are not a monarchy we are a DEMOCRACY….

  • 20. Anupam said:

    @Ashwin
    And before you say that Rajiv Gandhi was democratically elected and so is Rahul Gandhi from Amethi. Let me tell you that this is the saddest part of Indian democracy. And it is the responsibility of people like you and me to bring the awareness in Indian electorate so that they don’t cast their vote based on the last name. Be it Gandhi or Nehru or Yadav or anything else which stands for a family or caste. We have to vote based on the qualification and ability of the candidate. It is the responsibility of every educated Indian to bring this awareness, even if you support Congress or BJP. And this makes even more important that Rahul Gandhi answer these questions.

  • 21. Ashwin Kumaraswamy said:

    @ Sid,

    Just because i have a different view to that you subscribe i need not be a gandhi ka das. I guess you need to learn what you preach, in a democracy there are always people with differeing view points!

    @ Anupam

    I disagree a Rahul gandhi and or a Rajiv Gandhi are not voted in the name of caste and or religion! They may have been voted on their last names, but dont you think it is worth analysing why such a surname survives the test of time? If they are repeateadly being elected, dont you think that they might be doing somethign right? So i guess there is nothign wrong in giving credit to them where is deserves … more so questioning their elections is like questioning democracy and the electoral process of india?

    As for the qualification as a parameter to assess quality leadership – i disagree with it. To serve the people and to provide efficient leadership it is not important if the person has studies in say an IIT or an IIM – this is so much the mentality of a arm chair critics! It is most important thet one has the intent and the commitment to work for the society. It is a thankless job – would you leave your job and be a politician Anupam without any pre-conditions? I guess not!

    On the points you have raised related to my answers:

    1. I guess you did not read my post, i said, “I happen to read an dcant provide you the reference”

    2. On the issue of CWC electing Sardar patel – i dont disagree with you at all. But If you look and analyse why Gandhi choose Nehru over Patel – i have shared with you my opinion and views.
    As to if Patel not being there or a Nehru not being there, i woudl say India would still have survived and come out stronger as thre intent of independence movemennt was so strong that any other political leader would have strived to create a independent india. So playing Patel against Nehru is a old trick played by the right wing, predominantly the RSS bacaked organisations! My view is both needed each other and both contributed to post independent india equally.

    3. If you are saying corruption came into existence in India during the congress regime, then i guess you need to read history my friend. It woudl nto want to be drawn into a a diuscussion. Just so that you know BJP led government in Karnataka is the most corrupt in India, which resulted in the resignation of an eminent jurist who was waging a war against corruption! – does this mean everyone in BJP is corrupt? Does this mean RSS philosophy is corrupt? Hence i said corruption is a much more complicated issue.

    4. You make a good point here, in the sense, Congress needs to take the majority of the blame for poor delivery mechanism. There are many factors which has led to this, it is worth understanding the issues and suggesting a new mechanism rather than criticizing one individual.

  • 22. Kaffir said:

    =>
    “There are many factors which has led to this, it is worth understanding the issues and suggesting a new mechanism rather than criticizing one individual.”
    =>

    But it’s OK to praise that one individual for all the good things and accomplishments? :)

    Double-standards much?

  • 23. Sid said:

    @Ashwin,
    That was addressed to “indian”, not you.
    I guess you need to learn what you preach, in a democracy there are always people with differeing view points!
    I am not sure that I preach anything anywhere. I am not a preacher by job, you should know. In internet public forums, our viewpoints create that image we are associated with. When someone identifies crime on humanity like Sikh genocide “inclusive politics”, the image of a delusional man comes in the mind. When someone continues to support a family based system in the name of democracy, the image of slaves trying hard to save their master comes in mind. Orwell famously wrote, “Political writing in our times is the defense of the indefensible”.

    You want to support Gandhi family and want to bathe in their reflected glory, go ahead. This is democracy (or some may like to call democrazy), no one can stop you. But I would always call you Gandhi-das, if you find that insulting, go ahead and sue me.

  • 24. Anupam said:

    @Ashwin,

    Thanks for your response.

    “I guess you did not read my post, i said, “I happen to read an dcant provide you the reference”

    I agree you did not write that opening line but to me that epitomizes everything that is wrong with Congress. Reading that line reminded me of another shameful episode when Soniya Gandhi rejected the post of PM( not sure why? and what made her do so). There was a live telecast of Congress Leaders pleading her to take over. Mani Shankar Aiyyar was literally begging her to take over and salvage India. It will help if she also answered some of the policy related questions above.

    “If they are repeateadly being elected, dont you think that they might be doing somethign right? So i guess there is nothign wrong in giving credit to them where is deserves … more so questioning their elections is like questioning democracy and the electoral process of india?”

    I think we are doing something wrong. Questioning their election is actually questioning the electorate not the democracy or electoral process. Not just them but the election of lot of criminal and corrupt individual included.

    “As for the qualification as a parameter to assess quality leadership – i disagree with it. To serve the people and to provide efficient leadership it is not important if the person has studies in say an IIT or an IIM – this is so much the mentality of a arm chair critics!”

    I did not mean degrees when I used the word qualification. I meant that the person should be qualified for the job and be able to accomplish it. Back to the first point, electorate has do decide the qualification and ability and hence Rahul should answer the questions above.

    “It is a thankless job – would you leave your job and be a politician Anupam without any pre-conditions? I guess not! ”

    That seems to be only way out my friend. And this applies to all of us. I am inching( millimetering would be the right word ) towards that goal. I have read your blog and your post on this blog in past( I think when UPA won the election )and I appreciate your political activism. That makes it even more important( and hence these comments ) that you are on the right side.

    “Congress needs to take the majority of the blame for poor delivery mechanism. There are many factors which has led to this, it is worth understanding the issues and suggesting a new mechanism rather than criticizing one individual.”

    I am not criticizing individual, I am criticizing individuals and political parties who are asking this individual to lead a nation of billion people just because he is from a particular family. Yuvraj is being groomed to take over the Kingdom.

    Regarding understanding the issue and suggesting a new mechanism – How about getting rid of Socialist Agenda and bureaucracy? Please read this book http://sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/book1/BFN-fullbook.pdf Ignore title, author is not against Nehru, he wants India to be free of Nehruvian policies. I suggest reading Chapter 4 if you do not have enough time.

  • 25. Ashwin Kumaraswamy said:

    @ Sid,

    From experience and what i have noticed and observed right wing ideologistis, have tended to abuse and defame those who dont subscribe to their ideologies – characteristics typically as demonstrated by you.

    Anyways without without getting into a argument with you (really is futile) i have placed my views, you can either agree to it or not, i would have hoped name callings would not have happened in Shantanu’s blog which has truly been a place for people to talk more about issues rather than trying to be abusive!

    As for sueing you, i am least bothered – as i am confident on what i talk and am eager to learn that i dont know. For this i dont need to be abusive!

  • 26. Ashwin Kumaraswamy said:

    @ Anupam,

    On the issue of what epitomises Congress party – sadly you are right that as a party they would not survive if there is no member of the Gandhi family at its helm. And i do agree with you that this is not good for a political party.

    On the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s resignation, if you have time do read my blogpost “Master stroke” – http://www.polltalk.blogspot.com

    On the issue of questioning the electroate, i am more with you than against you. As for your comments related to doing somethign wrong – it is how one perceives it isint’t (two sides of the same coin).

    I guess what questions electroate wants Rahul Gandhi to answer and not is not in our hands eventually at the end of the say. Hence i started saying, i would hope and wish RG to answer Shantanu’s questions, but i disagreed on some of the questions and how they could be posed (this was with the assumption that RG is already into politics).

    I welcome your approach to enter politics in the loger run, good that you have made a start …..I am all for people with intent to serve the coutnry to join politics.

    I am not against questioning, but i am against vilification. For example RG has democractically contested elctions and won fair and square. There is nothign stopping you, me or anytother, who dis agree with Congress or RH himself to contest against him and convince the public to vote for us … as long as there is a platform, the system is secure. Now if we fail to convince the electroate in askign them not to vote for RG – why take to vilification? Hence alal i am saying is give him his due place, question his decisions and questions congress partys principles,there is nothing wrong in it. It is always healthy to have a civilized debate.

    Sadly it has been a long time i have seen any civilized debate in parliament – all political parties are responsible for this.

    Thanks for pointing me towards Sanjeev’s blog – i disgaree with him on varoious issue. I have posted my comments on his blog based on the introduction chapter!

    I am not saying Nehurvian policies hold in the current scenarios (some may), but i was against the tenor of the book which was used as a medium to bash Nehru – i guess that was what i was against.
    When writing such a critical analysis, one needs to take into account the times in the past when Nehruvian policies were introduced (when cocmparing all the ifs and buts wont really help).
    Between, i have not read the 4th chapter, shall surely read.

    Be it on the right/left or even right or left of centre – it is important for a new political activism. It is high time we have a more accountable and responsible politics! I am sure you shall agree with me here!

  • 27. Sid said:

    Mr. Gandhi-das,
    "From experience and what i have noticed and observed ... abuse and defame those who dont subscribe to their ideologies ..."
    1. Let me get this straight. You were talking about ideologies when you supported the Gandhi family !!! I did not know that you are ideologically inspired to write support for Rahul Gandhi. What sort of ideology? Left? I did not know Marx/Lenin/Stalin/Trotski wrote about supporting Gandhi family or any family. Please elaborate.

    2. So being called “Gandhi-das” is an abuse !! Why exactly?? There are thousands who hold Lord Rama or Lord Krishna to high respect and worship them. They go by the names like Rama-das and Krishna-das. What is your problem with Gandhi-das? You hold all Gandhis to high respect, including the ones who molested democracy and committed act of genocide. You worship them so much that you do not want to discuss their acts and accuse everybody who does not agree with you. I think

    3. In your first response to me,
    "I guess you need to learn what you preach, in a democracy there are always people with differeing view points!"
    I was alleged to preach about the tolerance of differing view-points, fair-enough.
    Then, in your second response,
    "... have tended to abuse and defame those who dont subscribe to their ideologies ..."
    Now, I am alleged to be abusive to those who hold different view points. Hmmm…I am not blessed with your understanding and “tolerance”, so I do not know how to match these statements.

    4. " ... i have placed my views, you can either agree to it or not, ... " – I did not and I told “indian” not to bother showing reasons to you, faith of the worshipers and reasons do not mix well. I did not say a sentence to you, you started writing sentences that if taken together turns out to be incoherent (ref to point 3 above). You put your views, I put my views about your views. You did not like that. What is there to write about?

    I will keep writing in Shantanu’s blog and keep calling Gandhi-dases Gandhi-das. You either need Shantanu to get me banned or you can come up with your own names to call. :)

  • 28. Moderator said:

    @Sid (#23): No name-calling please. Hope you will respect the comments policy. Thanks.

  • 29. Indian said:

    @Ashwin K.

    ——On the Bhopal issue, it is wrong to blame any one person. I guess it was a failure of the system – that of both the state and the central government. Also i would blame the successive governments which have not bothered to bring relief rather than just engaging in rhetoric!
    Further the judiciary was hopeless.—–

    Can I ask; why it is wrong to blame any one person who was then PM?. I have observed in political scenes in India, what applies to other parties becomes wrong as soon as pointer turns to Congress. What do you mean by system failure? Some one has to take the responsibilities and that is the PM who was in charge of the country. Nation failed PM failed!So if anything goes wrong it is system failure and if anything good happens its Nehru-Gandhi Family Jindabad! This case clearly shows with evidences that Rajiv Gandhi was not at all capable to rule the Nation! Congress is bringing all kind of emotion to lure the public. You are ready to go up to successive govt but not easy to accept the responsibilities of the then ruling party. That shows the dual standard.

    ——I am sure Shantanu would have a view on this – but i am more interested in being apolotical on issues of national disaster! Be it Congress or BJP they none can take any moralistic hugh ground!

    Let us see what would happen to the recently announced relief package!—–

    Thats great news but; The Nation do need Sorry and apology and accept it that they made disaster by sending Anderson away! Congress is getting away because large amount of people in India is just not interested what is going on political and national level. This time Rajiv Sardesai stirred up the issue, with evidences and public got to know what has happened else this too will have gone under the carpet.

    Problem is we don’t have any strong political party opposite Congress who can take the bull of congress by its horn! Will sure wait for that days!

  • 30. Ashwin Kumaraswamy said:

    @ Indian,

    I am more with you, that the Congress party needs to take the blame. But i am not sure if Rajiv can be blamed. The reason for this – was Rajiv has just come onto the the scene as PM and was campaigning to get elected to the Loksabha.

    Obviously i dont know the full truth, based on what some of the key people around Rajiv then have come back and said they dont think he knew about letting the CEO of Union Carbide go back to US and thus not face legal actions.

    There was also a point raised towards PVN who was the then Home Minister. I guess we would not know much about the incidence or neither can Rajiv and PVN defend themselves.

    But my take is not about charging UC carbide management and putting them behind bars. I am more concerned about what was the methodology used to come up with USD 705m relief package which the company was asked to pay and whay did the courts in India not move quick to enable the trust to carry out relief work. Now that there is a clear verdict, the trust can hopefully spend the monies that is set aside to really nuture Bhopal back to its glory days.

    I dont see what you woudl have got out of sentencing Anderson? you would gain nothing out of it. My take is all about the relief package was negotiated by the then central govt – why adn how did USD 705m come about and what sort of relief would it be spent on?

  • 31. Indian said:

    Ashwin,

    I agree! Nothing can be achieved by sentencing Anderson. Case has become week and he too is very old. Yes relief is the only we can look up to. But also it was good at this stage to know that how central as well as state govt failed to deliver and cannot handle it up to the expectation. Now public is aware what is to be done in such case on the spot. I heard MM Singh himself is handling this relief package, I hope it brings some relief to the victims and their families. And they do seserve sorry instead of skillful covering! Let the president of the Indian national Congress shares her views on it.

    —-I am more with you, that the Congress party needs to take the blame. But i am not sure if Rajiv can be blamed. The reason for this – was Rajiv has just come onto the the scene as PM and was campaigning to get elected to the Loksabha.—

    I dont agree! That shows how dynasty politics can harm the interest of the public. Congress chose him as PM with no experience, only because he was son of Indira Gandhi, on ground of emotions, charm, and obligations. It does not work when there is question of millions of people involved! The person who comes to the position of PM must know how to take action in any given circumstances there are no excuses! Because no incident will happen by knocking the door on the office of PM. He was truly a novice PM with no experience.

  • 32. Ashwin Kumaraswamy said:

    @ Indian,

    I am not sure if MM Singh is handling the relief package. I was told it would be Justice Ahemadi – who did the first ruling on the Bhopal gas tragedy.

    You are right it is important to know where the failure points were. But i would but more blame on the state government rather than central.

    The reason why i would not blame Rajiv is – he was newely elected PM. Within days/couple of months into his premiership. Further, Madhya Pradesh government were warned about the danger from UC 12-15months before the incidence. So the real failure lies with the govt of Madhya Pradesh.

    Let me ask you differently, what is that Rajiv did – that he has been acucsed off? Is it bowing to internatial presusre to give safe passage for Anderson? Or are u blaming him or for agreeing the USD 705m releif package? The way i see, BJP is trying to bring Rajiv’s name into the picture so as to malaign the Congress. They know that attacking the party per say would be counter productive as BJP did not do anythign different either. Hence they thought it is easy to target Rajiv who is dead and one can pull together stories around him as he cant defend it.

    All i can say is even if one accepts the blame on Rajiv as valid – what different would they have done? Arrested Anderson? what do you get out if it? Increased the releif package from USD 705m to a bigger ammount? well may be – but we have not managed to use the relief package so this argument does not hold good either.

    Hence i would put judiciary in line of fire for not being upto the accepted standards on qucik decisions.

  • 33. SIIT said:

    These are good questions, and Indians deserve an answer. But I sometimes wonder if you would have asked the same questions to LK Advani when he was running for PM post. Perhaps not!!

  • 34. seshan said:

    Even though the media projects him as an young turk who is totally against corruption, i have my own reservations.
    The telecom minister who made a bungling in 2G spectrum auction, causing a loss in income to the tune of Rs. one lac crore + to the government is still in post. The minister used to give statement that everything he did was with the knowledge of PM. PM who is a honest person, never opens his mouth and tells that the same was done with his knowledge. When he is not power crazy, why he is still occupying the chair. he could have thrown it and said good bye to soniaji. The entire matter is known to Rahul, who wants to clean the politics. Then why he is not asking his mom to take concrete action again PM and the telecom minister. That is why I am telling i have my own reservations about Rahul. As long as the coalition politics continues, the public will have to meet all the losses committed by the politicians

  • 35. Ashwin Kumaraswamy said:

    @ SIIT,

    The questions by and large are valid even for L K Advani – but guess the right wing supporters will hide behind the fact that Advani contributed a lot to build BJP and create it as a credible alternative to Congress. Also L K Advani was the key person to have created a divisive agenda in India!

    But, not many would question why should L K Advani been have considered as the PM candidate for BJP – the difference between congress and BJP decision making is – Congress is driven my Nehru-Gandhi family at the helm, whereas BJP is driven by RSS at its helm.

    Is there a difference between such control – Yes and No – Congress falls back to one family, wheres as BJP falls back to RSS for guidance, which is based on a group of ppl – some with highly divisive agenda masked in the name of nationalism

  • 36. Indian said:

    @Aswin

    —- But i would but more blame on the state government rather than central—.

    Since when did state govt started acting independently on case of such magnitude of National disaster? and that also in rule of Congress where everything happens at the silent gesture of Nehru-Gandhi family? unbelievable! How dare CM of Madhya Pradesh can take such a big decision without consulting center of letting Anderson go away? We all know how center and state is playing hide and seek! State says we acted as per center and center only to protect the name of Rajiv Gandhi blames and points finger on state! What a inhuman bunch of people ruling India. Humanity is not only speaking politely, humbly and eating food with poor!

    —–The way i see, BJP is trying to bring Rajiv’s name into the picture so as to malaign the Congress. They know that attacking the party per say would be counter productive as BJP did not do anythign different either. Hence they thought it is easy to target Rajiv who is dead and one can pull together stories around him as he cant defend it——

    So for you its the political question, which party is stronger and which is not, not safeguarding the interest of public. Right! I never brought BJP in picture when I was discussing the issue of Bhopal. You might be campaigning for Congress but I am not campaigning any party here. I am as a citizen raising such question whose rights has been denied by Congress from the time he is ruling the country. “Don’t raise question against Nehru-Gandhi family” is the Congress slogan. Reason is; they cannot win election without these faces and names and public has to pay the price for them to be in the rule. I am talking here about the lack of political will and aptness on part of Congress. They are very very good at skillful ruling and covering and raising finger for all mess at others.

    My take:
    1. Nehru family love white skin and treat them more humanly than the less fortunate people of India.
    2. Late PM was not at all suitable for the post and this case speaks loud that he was inexperience and lacked aptness which is required to furnish the post of PM. We all know that he was Pilot!

    It also shows your side of poor political knowledge that failure of state has nothing to do with the PM. God Save India!

    ———-The reason why i would not blame Rajiv is – he was newely elected PM. Within days/couple of months into his premiership. Further, Madhya Pradesh government were warned about the danger from UC 12-15months before the incidence. So the real failure lies with the govt of Madhya Pradesh——–.

    So newly elected PM don’t act? What kind of reason are you giving me. again lack of political aptness! First place than why Congress portrayed and endorse a person as PM who is entirely new in his field and cannot act. Just to stick to the power? and get sympathy vote? I am not talking about warning, it was the time when center has to hold Anderson and bring him to the legal book and pay for what he did. This was the time center could have jumped in, to protect the interest of people of Bhopal! For me respecting any person is very important; but not when he or she is holding a post where I have all rights to go into details and question them and their actions. Your statement on late PM shows party and its leader are irresponsible and does not like being questioned. Again playing emotional tactics!

    What judicary can do when person is let loose by the the Govt. itself?. ( I dont have much info about the role of Judicary).

  • 37. Indian said:

    I came across this somewhere. It is hilarious so I am posting here not because N. Modi says so but just to have little laugh!

    In his well known aggressive style against the centre government, Modi said, “The central government nowadays gives statement that price rise scenario will change if there’s good monsoon. But please tell me, do the gas cylinders grow in farms?

  • 38. Ashwin Kumaraswamy said:

    @ Indian,

    Firstly like you i would like to see some transperency in the decision making process relating to Anderson getting away?

    On the issue itself my issues are not why Anderson was nor arrested, but something more important:
    1. Why did state government not take any action on UC when they were alerted 12-15months before the incidence that UC does nto comply with safery measures?
    2. When Rajiv’s government agreed USD 705m as relief package, how did this number come about and was this sufficient?
    3. Why did Justice Ahamadi rule in such a fashion that the case became diluted?
    4. When relief package was agreed by the govt, why was it placed under a trust headed by Justice Ahmadi and why did the monies under the trust not spent (pending final ruling and the final ruling took nearly 25yrs)
    5. Like you i want more transperency in the decision making process.

    As to your points on who takes the first blame, it should still be State governemtn because they did not act based on the reports. Had central govt failed outrightly in its efforts to address relief then they are to be blamed. But Rajiv did not neglect post disater relief, though the quantum may not be the the satisfaction.

    Now if i take your line of argument and compare with Obama, according to you Obama is not fit to be the president of US? Please understand the parliamentary democracy, Rajiv had the support of the elected representatives and what more qualification you want than that to become the PM of Inida?

    The reason i took BJP’s name was due to their double standards in trying to make a political game out of the issue rather than addressing real issue. They were at the helm both in State and central, why did they not do anything differnet. All i was trying to highlihgt citing BJP was, politicians are at their best in having a blame game and trying to have one up manship.

    Lastly be assured my politicval knowledge and judgement is sound and free from the hypes and have a independent mind to make my own decsions!

  • 39. Anupam said:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703724104575378590961975082.html

    Opaque family rule is no way to run a political party, let alone a major economy and aspiring great power.

  • 40. Gopalkrishnan Raman said:

    Why RSS, BJP and Shri L K ADVANI are being dragged by Ashwin?
    The author has asked some questions to RG
    and let him answer.

  • 41. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Do read this superbly written (and to the point) “open letter” to RG, coming in the wake of him bring crowned the most popular “leader”

    http://vacantshanghaidays.blogspot.com/2010/08/open-letter-to-rahul-gandhi.html

  • 43. Indian said:

    http://deshgujarat.com/2010/11/28/rahul-baba-grow-up-and-then-visit-gujarat-next-time/

    I liked funny picture of Rahul Gandhi with 2002 goggles!

    ———While main agenda of Rahul was to convince the youths that they should join politics, and they need no godfather or some relative in Congress party to go ahead, the point highly discussed among the youths was that Mr. Rahul himself is holding higher position in country’s politics today, only because of the fact that he is son of Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.

    The youths complained that Rahul’s answers on corruption, and Gujarat’s development related issues were not straight-forward, realistic and convincing enough. The youths say they don’t think Rahul has his own ideas on betterment of the country or society.

    One of the worst things about Rahul’s Gujarat visit was that, he targeted popular Chief Minister Narendra Modi by comparing him with China’s Mao. Now how can one compare Modi with Mao? Did Mao fight elections and rule the nation? Modi has been victorious and re-elected three times with thumping majority within democratic framework of the nation. If Modi is like Mao, then who the Gujaratis are according to Rahul? Do Rahul believe they are like revolutionary Army-men of 1920s China?

    The most offending act of Rahul during this visit was his chanting of 2002 riot mantras. If Rahul wants to chew and spit again and again that 2002 chewing gum, then he should first grow up and then come to Gujarat next time. Do we see Delhi through the prism of year 1984? Was there no riot in Gujarat before Narendra Modi? And would there be none after him? Were all riots in the world history happened under the area ruled by Narendra Modi? Did Narendra Modi’s entire 9-year-long term witnessed riot everyday? Will paratroopers like Rahul continue to come to Gujarat and talk nothing else but 8-year-old riot?

    And the 2002 prism that he has adopted to look at Gujarat, would not allow him to see anything but a bunch of rioters who elect Mao!—–

  • 44. B Shantanu (author) said:

    MJ Akbar’s concluding lines in a finely-written piece, “The marketing of Rahul Gandhi“: “..has Rahul Gandhi thought through a philosophy for the future?”

  • 45. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Someone wrote on my FB wall that “Dynasty rule is a curse for india as Talented people get sidelined . The other choice is hindu hardliners or caste based parties. Between the 2 choices, he (RG) seems to be better . He is Not that savvy or talented but at least he is not propagating hatred

    This is what I wrote in response:
    ‎”…at least he is not propagating hatred”..
    Sure. Everyone feels good about reservations and dole (tongue firmly-in cheek)
    http://www.ndtv.com/article/assembly/up-polls-after-wooing-muslim-voters-rahul-gandhi-reaches-out-to-weavers-165707
    ***
    Also two of my recent posts/tweets:
    1] During his speech, Paswan narrated how he had convinced (Rahul) Gandhi to give him party ticket.
    “I told him 50,000 people in Chauri Chaura are Paswans.
    Even if half the votes are polled for me, that’s 25,000 votes.
    He said the ticket is yours.”
    ***
    And yet, this is the man celebrated as a Next-Gen leader and a Youth Icon.
    Sigh.
    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/overwhelming-crowd-seen-at-rahul-gandhis-first-meeting-in-chauri-chaura/articleshow/11429629.cms

    You know whats the best thing coming out of elections in UP? We now know Yuvraj’s stance on @ least one issue: Reservations

  • 46. VK SINGH said:

    very pertinent question put to rahul gandhi.
    but the people who matter and those whose vote makes him dont ask these questions.

    he is so white, looks like his father, eats with dalits.
    this is enough for them to vote for him

    stooges like dig vijay singh do the rest for this prince.

    what a pity, the well meaning people also a made to suffer for such a large population of voters does not exercise the right to franchise wiht prudence.

    but thinking from their perspective, alternatives are worse

  • 47. B Shantanu (author) said:

    For the record: Let’s appraise Rahul Gandhi’s performance by Kiran Kumar S on September 9, 2012

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