Masala Post 2.0

This last month has been a smorgasbord of events, debacles, disasters, revelations, scams and even more scam mongering. This post tries to do justice.

Trained to Kill

Even as Trinamool Congress tastes power inWest Bengal, and the mercurial Mamta Bannerjee slides out of her Ministerial chair at Railway Bhavan, we notice the inauspicious start to her tenure with a train accident in UP which remains unexplained beyond the usual fact-finding team and finger pointing. That led me to explore the state of the railway’s accident records over the past few decades and this is what that threw up: In the 1980’s,  12 incidents costing 1680 lives; in the 1990’s 27 incidents costing 1870 lives; in the year’s 2000-2009, 15 accidents costing  648 lives. And here’s the shocker: In 2010 alone, there were 20 incidents costing 290 lives! More shocking: In 2011, up to today, 12 incidents, costing 109 lives. [And I am not including the Malda accident, which has happened even as I write.] If you take these figures and extrapolate, the scenario promises to be horrific for this decade.

An article in Business Standard has noted that of the 50 worst train accidents in 2010 in the world, 14 were inIndia. There is now belated talk, more and more looking like a pattern, that the PM is seized of the matter and has initiated some soul searching – fact finding, I guess. But the problem with the railways is the same as the problem with almost everything else in this government – drift and more drift, a paralysis of initiative, and an absence of action. From the jokery of Lalu Prasad as railway Minister* to the mockery of Mamta Bannerjee as one, we have seen the railway portfolio become sop, charm, prize and catch all at once, used to mollify allies, cultivate crooks and in general play footsie with coalition partners.

So expect more mangled bodies on the rail tracks while our government perpetrates its brand of politics, a la Congress.

[* apparently, in 2009 on 13th February even as he was reading out the rail budget and boasting about the increased safety measures taken by his ministry, the Coromandel Express derailed – all facts above collated from wikipedia ]

Mumbai once more.

It came as a relief even in the dastardly attack on innocents in the Mumbai blast that the jingoists’ regular salute to the Mumbai spirit was finally given a farewell. I was glad to note that this anesthetic sentiment has run its course and the Mumbaikar is not going to any more swallow another bitter pill that his inept Government just pushed down his throat. The blasts showed up the total lack of intelligence support, the disarray in the police management and its departmental disintegration. The CM’s honest, if childish, admission to the public that he lost communication for a while after the blasts only exhibits the importance Maharashtra Governments have given to the aspect of homeland security while his comments about wanting a unified command [ read Home ministry] at such times only underlines the uncomfortable relationship between ally NCP and the Congress. The short point remains that irrespective of the internal arrangements and power sharing equations of the government, the cost of all this is borne by that guy in Zaveri bazaar who just wanted to finish his day’s work and get home to help his little girl finish her homework but was found strewn across the pavements. But this is the Congress party at work – do not expect a single firm step against the war on terrorism for fear they might upset a trusted vote bank. We understand. What’s 20 dead against the lucre of continuing in power. 

The graft draft.

The government persuades us that it will have its say. Partly to reclaim some sheen that A.Hazare and Co. took off its NAC led nose, the Government has mulishly refused to include the PM in the ambit of its draft and stayed with the old provisions on the judiciary. There are many other operative aspects of the draft that AH & Co. disagrees with but the glaring omission is not lost on anyone. The disappointment among the believers is palpable but the other notion peddled by the Government about the primacy of the parliament also seems to have worked on some part of the supporters. Which brings us to a question: Does that mean that the Lokpal agitation is finally annulled, or do you think Anna can still pull it off.

Raja Singhs!

A.Raja’s incarceration has given him time to get his defence in order. No surprise that it was he who put things in perspective by candidly underlining the complicity of the PM and Chidambaram in the process that led to the flight of capital in the 2G scam. The weak and injured response of the PM – and it will get weaker in days to come, you will see – cut little ice with people and party members who admitted that exonerating the team captain for the failure of the team is not cricket and that the PM has to take responsibility. Congressmen gunning for his scalp are forging common ground with opposition parties that say the same. [Who said the congress is not a divided house.] But more caustic was the response of the chida hua Chidambaram who tried to take pot shots at the Mumbai blasts and hint at a Hindu hand in it. Fortunately, the media bought none of it and he was hauled over coals for his brazen attempt at trying to escape the heat. Expect the tale to get murkier in the days to come. For more action, tune in to Lok Sabha TV.

Hard Landing

The imbroglio over the Court’s decision to take a sympathetic view of farmers’ plaint over land acquisition and compensation in NOIDA has thrown up the quintessential conundrum: development at what cost. After the Bhatta Parsaul experience which the Congress milked, now this must seem to a lot of people as a particular construct of UP politics under Mayawati but let it be known that the stilts on which the shaky acquisition policy sits was dug in by the Congress regimes down the years. The recent PR project reading by recently shuffled Jairam Ramesh on the new sensitive policy with inputs by the young Gandhi is a classic stratagem by the Congress to take no responsibility for the ills that plague this policy but try and reposition itself as the messiah of the villagers where their votes in UP lie. Else, one just has to look at Gurgaon where corporate companies pillaged village land without restraint under the kind gaze of the Congress regime, an art finally perfected by the subsequent INLD administration. The talk about land acquisition under the Haryana model is a lot of bunkum because it boils down to the issue of just compensatory money whereas the issue of land and ownership is a much deeper subject. The argument that farmers have become smarter has a ring of truth to it. But question is whether there was any generous support from Congress party pyromaniacs in this conflagration who want so badly to upset the BSP applecart in the sudden activation of farmer unrest?


Now that the Lokayukta indicted CM has resigned and the drama has ended in Karnataka, it is perhaps time to ensure that Anil Lad and Kumaraswamy also face the heat. In discussions earlier than the CMs resignation, I had argued that it was most likely that if the CM resigned, the baying crowds of the opposition and the media would as soon forget about the others. The worry is not without reason – look atDelhiwhere a minister indicted by the Lokayukta of Delhi got a clean chit from the cabinet and reduced the Lokayukta to a joke. Similarly, while CWG OC Chairperson Kalmadi is in jail, the CAG report co-accused CM of Delhi Shiela Dixit had the pleasure of sending a rebuttal to the PM reducing his own appointed Committee to tatters. So you see, this cock eyed justice is sure to follow when our friends, the congressmen are in power. What’s new, you may ask. You can’t beat the casino.


Picture credit:


One Response to “Masala Post 2.0”
  1. I am sorry to say this, but do you realise that BSY has indicted for wrong things. He should have been indicted for dubious land deals instead of illegal mining which has happened under the thorough knowledge of the “dilli” leaders. How are you guys still tolerating those leaders who have colluded with those in power on various things. There is also a first report on illegal mining where the 2 former congress mins are indicted. Why is no on in BJP questioning the high command, throw them out, BJP shall become the best

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