A Day in Ranthambhor

It was a hot summer morning in Ranthambhor National Park. Inhabitants had gathered around watering holes. Peacocks were trying to entice females. They had spread their feather widespread and strutting around.


But deers around them had other worries. There was a rumour that a sambar deer has lost his life. In this era of social media, it is hard to hide bad news.




Deer was murdered. Dead body was lying on a dried river bed. No body knows who did it, but people had some idea. A leopard was seen sleeping  on rock nearby.


Without proof you cannot accuse anyone in even in a jungle. Problem was compounded by absence of scavengers like Hyena and Boars. Some said hyenas only worked at night. So most residents had to live with the smell of rotting body. Meanwhile a sambhar deer family decided to leave the park altogether. If there is no justice, why live in the park?




So deers decided to call a meeting. A lot of members came. There were boars, crows, cranes and even a crocodile. It was decided to make a petition to the king.


King was nowhere to be seen. One cub was seen sleeping in the shade.


King himself was seen walking on a trail. He appeared to be weakend by the heat. King was in no mood to dispense justice. Last seen, was king lying on his back by water side on his summer cottage.


There goes justice down the tube for residents of Ranthambhor national park.



The Art of Stillness, by Pico Iyer

I stood in a queue to get a signed copy of “The Art of Stillness”. This was not a fiction or a crime thriller. Pico Iyer, the author, was an ordinary looking gentleman. But the topic, the art of staying still and watch life flow by, he dealt in his book is extraordinary. In this fast paced world of information revolution, where a person is always in touch with external world through mobile phone, e-mail and internet, an individual is moving away from his own self.

To discover and be in touch with his own self, Pico Iyer quit his job with Time Magazine in New York and stayed in Kyoto, Japan for two years. By his own admission, author did not own a car or a TV and accessed e-mail once daily. So he was not driven like most others like him. He was taking charge of his own life. The author did not describe what he did in Japan. It appeared such a slowing down gave him a new perspective on life and made him happy.

In six essays in his book, author describes how more and more people are paying attention to staying still. Modern internet companies like Google encourages yoga and meditation for new ideas and advices e-mail, mobile phone and internet free weekends. An US marine talks about beneficial effect of meditation on job alertness.

Celebrity singer and music director Leonard Cohen spends day and night sitting still in a Zen Buddhist monastry up on San Gabriel mountain in California. Cohen had access to all pleasures that life can offer. Yet, when asked for reason, he responded “what would I be rather doing? Would I be starting a new marriage with a young woman and raising another family? Finding new drugs and buy more expensive wine?” Cohen, by his own admission, had found “real profound and voluptuous and delicious entertainment. The real feast that is available within this activity.”

“The Art of Stillness” is a powerful book. It empowers its readers. Without being preachy, the author points towards immense resource that is within us, yet a capacity that remains untapped. The idea of stillness is not novel. In all religious disciplines, there is advice to spend time in front of resident deity in the morning and evening. Chanting mantra is nothing but staying in the present and keeping a distance from daily activities, good or bad, for a while. Sceptics will say, problems do not go away if one stays away. It is true, but the person becomes bigger than the problem, if a distance can be created between the observed and the observed.

Exam Pressure : We Need a Change of Mindset

Final examinations are approaching. Homes are turning into a battleground between parents and their kids who are about to write examination. My home is no exception.  My daughter who in ninth standard, refuses to study as per her mother’s guideline. No amount of persuasion could bring daughter and mother on the same plane. Mother would not give up her right, despite entreaty to give more space to daughter. Daughter, all of fourteen, will not cede her ground. She would say, ” more mother pushes me, more I shall not study.” To add insult to injury, she adds, “I shall end my life, and blame you for my fate.” 

We did not take her up on her challenge. Question obviously arises, are we becoming a sissy parents, who cannot control their fourteen year old? Or are we becoming a monster parent, who drive their kids to suicide? The answer is not that simple.

It is true Indian parents are still trapped into a mindset that takes pride if kids become a doctor or  an engineer. May be it will raise our social status. May be our kids will earn a lot of money. May be his / her degree will fetch a good life partner and hopefully a lot of dowry.

It is also possible that our own unfulfilled desires of not been able to reach the high pedestals of academic excellence, we push our kids to achieve them on our behalf.  

From a parents perspective, one also has to understand the socio-economic reality of India. Unless a kid studies, and studies really hard, how would he/she get into a good college with a good course? Consider this,

  • In this day and age, students are scoring as high as 99.7% in CBSE examinations. In top colleges, even after third round, merit list does not come below 90%. Admission to engineering and medical schools is equally cut throat.
  • For appoximately 28000 seats in engineering colleges, IIT and NIT included, nearly 10 lac students write exams. Odds are 30 : 1 for a student.  IIT students have to write an additional advanced JEE.  Nearly, two lac students compete for 10,000 IIT seats, of which one lac are from general category.
  • Similarly, nearly 10 lac students write NEET exam for admission into medical colleges, which have 56000 seats.
  • There are many private engineering and medical colleges. Their fee is at least 5 to 10 times that of fee charged by a government college. Besides, quality of education in all private colleges is not as great. Many private colleges also demand a capitation fee or donation.

Keeping this in mind, it is important to understand that parents need a change of mindset. Other than breaking our heads against terrible odds, of getting admission into a medical and engineering school, we should explore other options. Believe me there are many potentially lucrative academic opportunities exist in India.

Take for example a course in Hotel Management. When I had suggested this for my daughter, there was a collective sigh of ridicule in family. Many relatives suggested that I wanted my daughter to be a waitress. Hotel Management is much more than waiting tables. One can be chef, one can be administrator, one can be house keeper, one can be at front desk, one can be a bartender, among others. A big hotel is a like big city on its own. It has so many possibilities. If this does not satisfy a person, he/she can even start his/her own joint.

Indian government has plan to create many smart cities. So hospitality industry is bound to grow. There is a shortage of good affordable hotels, there is shortage of good eateries that highlight great culinary varieties of India at an affordable price.

Most of us want a salaried job. With increasing population, with increasing job reservation for different categories, salaried jobs are going to be few and far between. In this scenario, opening one’s own operation is a good idea. Any day, own operation is much more fulfilling than working for someone else. We need a different mindset and be ready to accept new challenges.

There are many such job oriented courses being offered by different universities. Those who are not academically oriented, should opt for such courses and try to stand on their own feet. At the same time,  it is important to be aware that no carreer, be it a salaried job or self employment, can take off without dedication and discipline.  Students need not study always, but they must cultivate a discipline in life and know what they want. 

Jashoda, A Novel by Kiran Nagarkar

I read two novels by Kiran Nagarkar- God’s Little Soldier and Cuckold. I loved both of them. So this time while I was at Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, I picked up Jashoda by Kiran Nagarkar. I wanted the novel to be signed by the author. But for two days I was there, author was not scheduled to speak in any session. I am not sure, if he attended the festival after I left.

Based in rural Rajasthan, story of Jashoda revolves around three main characters. A village woman named Jashoda. Her self-centered, scheming, corrupt husband Sangram Singh. And, Pawan, Jashoda’s obedient and academically brilliant son.

Jashoda struggles to manage her home in Kantagiri, which is perennially drought affected, and ends up on streets of Mumbai. Her struggle to keep her family and her self in one piece, one can relate to. Ultimately Jashoda evolves as a business woman, who starts an eatery in her native place. Story of Jashoda’s evolution is realistic.

Sangram Singh, as Jashoda’s husband, is a selfish man. A casteist, a hypocrite and a greedy criminal. Sangram Singh schemes and acquires property of his employer, an ex-royal, and eventually got rid of him. Sangram Singh is well painted as a male chauvinist.

Story of Pawan is somewhat unrealistic. No doubt there are many brilliant students who are struggling to get a break. But to land Pawan in the USA, with an academic position and an American wife is a bit too much.

Over all a good casual reading.  The book has a beautiful yellow cover. It reminds me of bright sun baked landscape of Rajasthan and western India.



Padmavat, A Regressive Film?

After a lot of protest, threat mongering, some violence and vandalism, Padmavati was finally released in UP, Haryana and rest of India. In Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh film was not released. States where movie was released saw footfall of viewers. So much so, in the first week of release, film is believed to have grossed 149 crore rupees.

Despite popular appreciation, the film still faced attack. This time from a member of film fraternity. Ms. Swara Bhaskar, known for her left leaning feminist outlook, wrote a very scathing letter to Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Ms. Bhaskar described the film to be regressive, a film that glorifies jauhar and Ms. Bhaskar felt she was reduced to a vagina. In the furious debate that followed, many supporters of Ms. Bhaskar’s point of view also argued that glorification of jauhar indicates a patriarchal mindset. A woman is being denied her right to life after being raped by a man. By glorifying jauhar, we are potraying women to be weak who were not courageous enough to be captured and tortured.

While Ms. Bhaskar is entitled to her opinion. Was Ms. Bhaskar angry at escapades and infatuation of Alauddin Khilji with women or was she angry with Bhansali that he had shown jauhar? It is important to understand that Mr. Bhansali is telling a story. If the story writer claims a lead character embraced fire to protect her honor, Mr. Bhansali cannot change the story line.

I think, there is some confusion between jauhar, sati and rape. It must be clarified that jauhar used to happen in medeval India. Rajput women would jump into fire to avoid being captured by invading army. When a decision to commit jauhar is made, most likely no male member of woman’s family is alive. Woman risked being captured and used as sex slave in the harem of conqueror. As per historical documents several jauhars had happened at Chittor and Ranthambhor royal families in 14th and 16th centuries. There might have been  a few other jauhars in other parts of India.

It will be unfair to brand ladies committing themselves to Jauhar as cowards. It would take a lot of courage for anyone to walk or jump into blazing fire. Compared to Jauhar, it may be much easier to submit to your conquerors. Many others had chosen to do the same. 

In contrast to jauhar, sati used to be a practice where a woman would join her husband in funeral pyre. In many cases, relatives of the woman used to persuade her to commit sati to grab her family property and wealth. Raja Ram Mohar Roy had fought agains thte practice of sati. The practice was made into a criminal offence during British rule. In modern India it is a crime to practice sati.

While sati can be said to be coercive, jauhar used to be a self made decision. Question remains was it a right decision? Should a woman not chose to live rather than embracing fire? I think, every individual should have right to end his or life at a point when it is felt death is better than living a life of dishonor. A similar debate also happened to free Ms Aruna Shanbhag from her body, that was in a state of coma for nearly three decades. Indian laws do not permit mercy killing, but a few mature democracies in the world allow mercy killing. In ancient India people at a certain stage in life will renounce society and live a life of ascetic and wait for death. Even today members of Jain community embrace death voluntarily. At the end of the day it is my life, I should have some say how I live and if I do not want to live. It may be difficult to understand psychology of people in medieval India using standards of 21st century.



  1. At The End of Your Magnum Opus… I Felt Reduced to a … – The Wire https://thewire.in/218456/end-magnum-opus-i-felt-reduced-vagina/

  2. Jauhar – Wikipedia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jauhar

  3. https://occassionalmusingsblogpost.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/whose-life-is-it-anyway

Zee Jaipur Literature Festival

This year I attended Jaipur Literature Festival, also known as Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, this year. This festival happens every year, for five days from 24th Jan till 29th Jan. Festival organisers are Mr. William Dalrymple, Mr. Sanjay Roy, and Ms. Nandita Gokhale.Festival venue is Diggy Palace, an old haveli on Tonk Road. It has been converted to a hotel and festival happens in the premises of this haveli. A few guests also stay there.

At Diggy palace, literature festival happens in five venues – Front Lawn, Charbagh, Mughal Court, Baithak and Samvad. Each venue can hold at least 200 people, may be more. In each venue eight discussions / lectures of one hour duration take place, along with audience interaction, from 10am till 7 pm. Eight lectures multiplied by five venues multiplied by five days. A total of 200 discussions / lectures are delivered by eminent guests from fields which include academics, writers, poets, film personalities, politicians, members of civil society even scientists with flair for writing. All venues remain packed from morning till evening. First hour of the festival from 9 am to 10 am remains dedicated to live performance artists playing Indian classical music.

One can register for the festival by logging into the festival website. One can book a hotel through website of the festival. Different hotels suitable to different pockets are listed on the site. It is important to register twice, once for hotel booking and second time to register for the festival. Registration to festival is free. Of course, one can also register as a delegate by paying fee. A delegate may have access to speakers for a more intimate conversation. Because the festival does not charge any entry fee, many students from Jaipur and around visit the venue. Most days, venue is chock a bloc with young people milling around the venue. According to statistics, nearly 60% visitors to the festival are students. Hope these people imbibe knowledge and wisdom of eminent people who participate in the festival.

While delegates get to eat lunch in festival cafeteria, common participants have to buy tea, coffee, snacks and meals. Cash does not work in festival venue. Every one that buys food have to use cash card by depositing money. Cash card can be refunded to get back balance. A whole variety of foods ranging from Rajasthan kachori to chicken Tikka roll is available for purchase. So are Belgian waffles and filter coffee or Masala tea. Participants also can purchase gifts using their credit cards.

From New Delhi one can avail Ajmer Shatabdi for up and down journeys. Journey takes around five hours. Another superfast train is double Decker Jaipur-Sarai Rohilla express, which also takes around five hours to cover the journey. Once in Jaipur, travel is easy because one can dial Ola cab, and auto. Interested tourists can also avail Ola bike service. Ola cabs go by map and fare is more reasonable and honest, compared to private auto / cabs. One should be little careful about choosing right hotel. The one I selected was not a great one. But, fortunately I spent most of my time at the festival venue.

I enjoyed my two days at the Jaipur Literature Festival. I had the good fortune to listen Pico Iyer, Lisa Randall, Tridip Suhrid, Dipanka Gupta, Rohan and Sudha Murthy, Ashok Bajpayei, Hamid Karzai, Nandita Das and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, among others.  It was an invigorating experience to be aware of raging debates in our society. It is a great forum to create better citizens of tomorrow. I wish to go back next year for five days.

Padmavat Protest : Blurred Line Between Fact and Fiction

Recently, I was returning from Jaipur. At 5 am in the morning, I saw Mr. Lokendra Kalvi, supreme leader of Karni Sena, at the railway station. He was coming to Delhi NCR region. We travelled in the same compartment. I sat a few seats away from Mr. Kalvi. Despite his age, Mr. Kalvi was standing ramrod  straight. He had confident stride and was self assured. A few people came to touch his feet in the platform. He was gracious to bless them in Indian style and talked to them. Inside the train, when ticket checker asked for an identity, Mr. Kalvi did not throw his weight around, showed his papers. In general, I found Lokendra Kalvi to be a reasonable man who was at peace with himself.
Now from the deeds of Karni Sena in recent times, it is hard to explain with a leader like Mr. Kalvi, how can position of Karni Sena be so unreasonable? Time and again group members have been found to shout out opposition in TV debates, threaten actors and directors of film with physical violence, vandalise public property in defiance of Supreme Court order, stone a bus full of school children and try to set it on fire. To top it all, group had hired a lawyer in Mr. A P Singh to Singh virtues of Rajput pride and Rajput women like Rani Padmavati. It must be remembered that it is the same Mr. A P Singh, who had represented rapists in Nirbhaya rape and murder case. After losing the case in the supreme court, Mr. Singh had famously claimed, “If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight.” It is ironical that Karni Sena has chosen a misogynist to sing virtues of Rajput women.
Till date, I have not understood what is the objection of Karni Sena towards Padmavat(i).
Is this antipathy is rooted in a sense of personal affront to Mr. Kalvi, that director and producer did not consult him while writing the script? Mr Kalvi had declined to watch the movie. He was seen to comment what would I say about a movie. I do not even understand English language. It seems there is a sense of hurt in being ignored. But no one is admitting such a thing.
Alternatively, is the outrage represents a more global affront to Rajput pride and sentiments? Without going into arguments around existence of Rani Padmavati and benevolence of Alauddin Khilji, it has been reported from time to time that Rajput Karni Sena is angry about  a dream sequence between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji. The scene it was believed to have show a romantic affair between Khilji and the queen.  Director had denied existence of such a scene. Even if the scene is there in the film, it is Alauddin’s dream and not that of Rani Padmini. Can a person not have a dream about subject he desires and can a director not take liberty to think of such a sequence?
There was a discussion on a dance sequence in the film. Rajput groups have claimed their women, let alone queens, do not dance in open court like that shown in the film. We do not know how Rani Padmavati acted more than 800 years before. Rani Padmavati is eulogised for her bravery and her desire to die than to give up her honour. Still, unlike Meera Bay, another queen from the same lineage a few generations later, Rani Padmavati was no saint. Could a queen not dance in inner palace in the presence of ladies? Can a director not take such a liberty to show a sequence?
In the movie Rajput king and people have come out looking good. Rajputs have been shown to defend their fort and honour but eventually lost. This is history. We cannot change this history. But we can act and behave in such a way that future historians discuss us in a better light.
As a sign of sanity and apparent maturity, Karni Sena has decided to make a film on mother of Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The idea being, if mother of Rajput people is being insulted by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Karni Sena would insult Bhansali’s mother. I find the move childish because for a successful film, one has to have a target audience that may be able to enjoy or relate to sequence of events. Life of Mrs. Leela Bhansali is otherwise indescript. Why would anyone like to watch it? But that is Karni Sena’s choice. They should resort to doing anything they feel like in a peaceful manner
Meanwhile, I think our governments have a lot to learn how to uphold rights of people who cannot defend themselves from organised gangs like Karni Sena and many other similar groups. If we start taking objection to every scene and sequence in movie or a story, then in a culturally rich and diverse nation like India no one can make a movie on the life of a personality from past. Along the same line, in the west, the move “Last Temptation of Christ” had shown fight of Jesus Christ with lust among other things. This  movie was released all over the world. Only in France there was an explosion where 13 people were injured. In rest of the world, film went on peacefully.

All Pervasive Duplicity

I am stuck by double standard displayed by left and left leaning civil society groups. Assault and murder of Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, Junaid and Afrazul, were horrible and repulsive. No amount of rationalisation can justify such acts. Killers should be punished in the harshest manner possible. I agree and accept every life is equally important. No one should be bullied for their personal choices. Loss of everylife must be mourned. Life and liberty cannot be measured in terms of statistics.

The same logic, however, was deserted on the issue of triple talaq. It was put forward that only a miniscule number of Muslim women get instant divorce. Should every life of a Muslim women not be equally important, irrespective of her marital status?

It was argued who will take care of a Muslim woman, if their husband is jailed for issuing instant divorce? More important question, never ever raised in 70 years, what used to happen to a divorced Muslim woman and her kids when man used to walk out? Why sudden concern?

Then the eternal dilemma why not address issues of Hindu women, specially those who stay in old age homes in Varanasi and Vrindavan? Problem is some Hindu widows renounce society and live alone in old age is search of their spiritiual quest. Without denying there are many women who are deliberately abandoned by their kin. It must be remembered that such a Hindu practice is social in nature not bound by religious diktat. Unlike the practice of triple talaq, as claimed by preachers, banning a Hindu practice will not hamper Hindu dharma. So why equate an apple with an orange?

Some politicians have even brought marital status of prime minister into debate. It is true, Mr. prime minister did not lead a married life. But his wife was free to seek a divorce and marry anothr person of her or her family’s choice. She chose a life of her choice, that is to stay single. How is this situation related to women who are pronounced to be divorced by uttering talaq thrice?

I think many civil society and political party organised protests are motivated less by plight of victims, and more by deep antipathy to prime minister and ruling party.

Revolt in Supreme Court

Four senior judges of supreme court of India expressed their discomfort with the chief justice of India is functioning and assigning cases. Honourable judges held a press conference to express their angst. While there was no specific charge that came out, it appears that honourable judges felt sensitive cases with far reaching consequence are going to junior judges.

Question arises, can a judge complain why he / she was not assigned a case? According to a Times of India report, in last 20 years 15 very sensitive cases including 2G scam, coal block allocation scam etc have gone to junior judges. If dissenting judges claim chief justice is first among equals, but he has no special power. Does the same rule not apply to other judges of the supreme court? There are almost 20 other judges serving the highest court of India. Are junior judges not equal in terms of their ability and power with esteemed four dissenting judges?

Suspicion that there may be politics behind the revolt gets sustenance from the following facts:

  • Mr. D Raja, a Rajya Sabha MP of CPI, was seen meeting Justice Chelameshwar within hours of press conference.
  • Congress party raked up issue of death of CBI Judge Loya. Does congress president has any basis to link dissent in supreme court to alleged murder of CBI judge, when Bombay high court is looking into it and surpeme court also has taken note?
  • Mr. Prakash Karat, a senior member and a former general secretary of CPM, had demanded that all sensitive cases, be it adhaar or Babri Masjid or triple talaq or investigation of death of CBI judge Loya, must be heard by four dissenting judges.
  • Same view point was expressed by Mr Prashant Bhushan, Mr. Dushyant Dave and Ms. Indira Jaisingh, senior lawyers of supreme court. Because senior lawyers namely Mr. Dave believe that junior judges have pro government leaning and may be compromised. The same lawyers were accused of forum shopping by chief justice of India, earlier.
  • Are our opposition parties and civil society not guilty of the same interference in judicial procedures, they are accusing ruling BJP?

Does cases presented before a court depend on merit or inclination of judges? When looked in the light of Mr Kapil Sibal’s request to postpone supreme court verdict on Ram Mandir – Babri Masjid issue till 2019 general election, further confirms that opposition parties are unto something very malicious. They know it may be difficult to beat ruling party on merit, they are now out to subvert the system.


‘Super sensitive’ cases being given to junior SC … – Times of India
Find out why senior CPI MP D Raja met Justice Chelameswar soon …
CJI vs Judges row: Rahul Gandhi demands investigation by senior …
CPM’s Prakash Karat triggers massive controversy by dragging …
SC dissent out in open: From politicians, ex-judges to lawyers ..
Jasti Chelameswar, the chief dissenting justice of India – ThePrint
Loya: Loya case judge is close to BJP: Dave | India News – Times of …

Train Travel in Foggy New Year

I love to travel by train. Of course, I have to have a seat by the window, I should not have to haggle with co-passengers for a luggage space, food is served during travel and train has a clean toilet. So with a great hope and expectation, I boarded executive class of Delhi – Lucknow Shatabdi express on the penultimate day of 2017. I had hoped to look through the wide window, while sipping hot coffee and enjoying snacks, as the country side flew by.

Train started on time. Lo and behold, dense fog covered countryside. Instead of travelling at 60 mile per hour, we were travelling at half the speed. We arrived at our first station, Ghaziabad, 30 min late. As we moved along haze covered countryside, often simply standing on the track, we were getting late by the hour.

At Aligarh station around 11 am, like a weary traveller Howrah-Delhi-Kalka mail entered the station, running late by nearly 18 hours. In my mind I had an image of Kalka mail from my childhood days. In those days, Kalka mail used to be a premier train. Travellers were prepared to face any hardship to get a seat on this train. Not only very punctual, travel time from Kanpur to Howrah used to be less by Kalka mail, compared to other trains. With time, Rajdhanis and Durontos have replaced Kalka mail from its premier position. Now the train looks awful in its blue coloured coaches with small pigeon hole type windos. Train runs slow and is often out of schedule. But why blame Kalka mail alone? This journey we saw many premier Duronto’s, Rajdhani’s and Shatabdi’s falling way behind their scheduled arrival time.

By the time we reached Kanpur, it was 3.30 pm. We were running late by four hours. Sun that came out at some point, was beginning to be covered by fog. Hungry and tired we moved on towards Lucknow. We had our scheduled breakfast. No meal was expected to be served as we were to arrive in Lucknow by 12.30 in the noon. It was indeed a relief,  when hot rice and dal were offered by railways after Kanpur. We reached Lucknow five hours late at 5.30 pm.

We spent a sunny day in Lucknow. That is another story. Return journey, on the first of Jan, 2018 was even more eventful. Departure was delayed by six hours. We started at 9.30 pm in the evening, instead of 3.30 pm in the afternoon. We reached New Delhi at 11 am in the morning, nearly 12 hour late. Train was half empty. Passengers could stretch out on the seats and sleep at night. Not much breakfast in the morning. It was not part of plan. Relieved when disembarked in New Delhi. Some start to New Year!

Christmas Season, Showering Goodies

December is a beautiful month. Weather in this part of the world is cooler, despite global warming and all. Christmas is round the corner. There is a spirit of giving in the air. This year, christmas has come early for Mr. Rahul Gandhi and congress party.

  • First, Mr. Gandhi has been selected as president of Indian National Congress.
  • Second, under leadership of Mr. Rahul Gandhi, congress party has given a better show in Gujarat state assembly election. Mr. Rahul Gandhi fought well in Gujarat. His arguments had traction. His body language was more confident.
  • Finally, a CBI court has acquitted all accused in 2G telecom spectrum scam. 2G scam was one of corruption issue that BJP had highlighted during national election. The value of one lac seventy six thousand crore loss to exchequer is etched in public memory.

Developments of past week has made many to think downturn Narendra Modi lead NDA government has started. Under leadership of Mr. Rahul Gandhi and his astute alliance building skill, UPA and congress will take back reins of government from NDA in 2019. We do not know what will happen in 2019 general election. But the following points are worth considering:

  • At the present time BJP and its allies are ruling in 19 states of India. Congress party on the other hand rules two states, namely Punjab and Karnataka.
  • Leadership of congress party did not expose Mr. Rahul Gandhi to Himachal Pradesh, a state where congress had to defend its track record. In way, congress party sacrificed Himachal Pradesh to fight Gujarat election. BJP won Himachal Pradesh with two third majority.
  • Congress party chose to fight Gujarat election with full force in the hope that
  • 22 years anti-incumbancy coupled with impacts of demonetisation and GST will very likely bring down BJP.
  • A victory in the home state of prime minister of India, would have been a feather in the crown of new president of Indian National Congress, Mr. Rahul G.
  • A victory would create a template for formation of a multi party alliance to fight Narendra Modi and BJP at the level of different state and national elections.

Coming to 2G case, many are questioning if there was any corruption at all in distributing 2G spectrum? All noise was created to unseat an elected government. The following points must be considered :

  • if there was no corruption why Supreme Court cancelled licences?
  • Why was Mr. A Raja, telecommunication minister, sacked?
  • Why did Mr. A Raja serve jail term?
  • Why did the then prime minister of India not stand up in parliament and declare his government is squeaky clean?
  • Charge sheet for 2G scam, was filed in UPAII era. There was evidence in another scam, coal block allocation scam, a senior minister was caught dressing up chargesheet. There is no evidence, the same happened in 2G case.
  • All said and done, a judge can pass judgement on evidence that is presented before it. If quality of evidence is poor, judgement that is pronounced will also be poor. Like Hafeez Saeed is declared innocent in 26/11 attack case by Pakistani court, becuause court could pronouce judgement on evidence that was presented to it. Similarly, our 2G accused are as innocent as Hafeez Saeed.
  • I am hoping 2G verdict will be challenged

Many journalists and political commentators that are considering poor showing by BJP in Gujarat to be a moral victory for congress party. It is important to remember that unlike congress party that sacrificed Himachal Pradesh, BJP did not or could not give up on Gujarat despite all potential issues of anti-incumbancy, impact of GST and demonetisation. BJP won both Gujarat and Himachal. BJP also improved its vote share in Gujarat after two decades of governance. Say what anyone may, a real win on ground is always better than moral victory.

Finally, Mr. Rahul Gandhi may have done well in Gujarat. His real test will come when he defends a state where his party is ruling. By the way, Rahul Gandhi also has to prove his persuastion ability to convince big leaders from other states and regions, who may have prime ministerial ambition. To add to discomiture of Mr. Rahul Gandhi, his alliance partner Mr. Lalu Yadav has been convicted in fodder scam case. This will be a weapon in the hand of opponents of Mr. Rahul Gandhi.