Monday, June 30, 2008

Fundamentalist Kashmiri Politicians

Recently, clashes broke out in Kashmir with regard to the transfer of 40 Hectares of forest land to Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board. It has become a very difficult task for Hindu pilgrims visiting the holy place at Amarnath in Muslim dominated Kashmir. Moreover, being in the middle of snow filled mountains, the pilgrims are facing hardships with regard to accommodation. So, the Board, which is led by the Governor of the State, approached the state government for land so that it can build permanent structures for the temporary residence of pilgrims.

Sensing this as an opportunity, the Muslim separatist politicians assisted by the Communists launched a campaign saying that non-kashmiris are going to be settled in those structures and the political party supporting the government withdrew support to the Congress led Government.

Here is a very interesting article I read in You can find the original article at: Pilgrims Deserve Better

Full Text of the Article:

It is distressing and alarming that communal tension is rising over the decision of the Jammu and Kashmir state government to transfer a little less than 40 hectares of land to the Sri Amarnathji Shrine Board to enable the latter to provide accommodation facilities to the thousands of Hindu pilgrims who visit the Amarnath shrine every summer. One cannot expect separatist and militant outfits in Jammu and Kashmir to make a sober and mature appraisal of the larger issues at stake. It is the attitude of mainstream political parties that is most disappointing and worrying.

The specious grounds for the the Peoples Democratic Party's objections are that the implementation of the decision of the state government would change the "eco-cultural character" of the state. What is the nature of this eco-cultural character of Jammu and Kashmir that is so fragile that it cannot survive the transfer of a small tract of land? Does the Kashmir valley have only a "Muslim" character? What happened to the much-touted Kashmiriyat? Or is that a politically correct platitude that has become an inconvenience to be ignored now that most of the Kashmiri Pandits have been hounded out of their homes in the Valley to Jammu, Delhi and elsewhere in India? Kashmiri politicians owe it to the rest of India to clarify their position on this issue.

To my mind, whether or not the land in question should be transferred to the SASB is only a technical question, not the heart of the issue. The more important thing is whether the state government feels that it has an obligation to improve the facilities that would make the pilgrimage of thousands of Hindu devotees more secure and more comfortable. For centuries pilgrims have been making the arduous trip to Amarnath cave without the benefit of any facilitation by the state. They relied on the local people for food, accommodation and other facilities. They lived in tents. But a caring State in independent India can and should do more.

It would be instructive to see what the Government of India does for Haj pilgrims visiting Mecca and Medina. The government is, in the words of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, "committed to ensure that the best possible arrangements are put in place for the comfort and well-being of Indian pilgrims to facilitate their sacred pilgrimage." The "welfare and well-being of Haj pilgrims," he says, "is always a matter of utmost concern to the government."

In keeping with these public policy statements, the Government of India makes elaborate arrangements for the welfare of Haj pilgrims and strives to improve the facilities provided to them every year. That is how it should be. The Government of India, and the ministry of external affairs in particular, deserves credit for providing perhaps the best arrangements that any government makes for their Haj pilgrims.

And what exactly does the Government of India do? For starters, it provides an airfare subsidy to about 100,000 pilgrims selected by the Haj Committee of India who go for Haj annually. Pilgrims pay only Rs 12,000 for their air travel. This figure has remained unchanged for at least a decade or more.

According to official figures, this subsidy was Rs 280 crores in 2006, or about Rs 28,000 per pilgrim. Today, with rising fuel prices, this figure would have gone up to Rs 350-400 crores. Although there is a 2006 Allahabad high court judgment ruling against this subsidy, it continues to be given because the government got the Supreme Court to pass a stay order.

Add to this the losses suffered by Air India, and the inconvenience to passengers because its planes are diverted to carry Haj pilgrims. For the convenience of pilgrims, charter flights are operated directly from 16 airports in India to Saudi Arabia. Returning pilgrims can transport 10 litres of holy Zam Zam water with them free of cost. At Delhi airport there is a separate Haj terminal. To improve the comfort of pilgrims, Air India has been advised to use wide-body jets in future for their Haj flights.

Great attention and care to Haj matters is given at the highest levels of government. The United Progressive Alliance government has successfully lobbied with the Saudi government to increase the quota for pilgrims from India, as a result of which the annual quota has increased by 38,000 over the last four years. It will go up by a further 3,000 or so this year because of the exertions of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee during his visit to Saudi Arabia in April this year.

There is a separate Haj cell in the ministry of external affairs. The Haj Committee of India has its own premises in Mumbai. Similarly the State Haj Committees have their own premises in various other Indian cities. These facilities have been built on land provided by the state governments.

Very high priority is given to Haj matters in the mandate given by the government to both the Indian ambassador in Riyadh and the Indian consul general in Jeddah. Every government in Delhi has ensured that only Muslims are appointed to these posts, a practical decision intended to facilitate their travel to Mecca and Medina, where non-Muslims are not allowed. There is also a separate consul for Haj matters in the Indian consulate general in Jeddah.

Accommodation in Mecca and Medina is decided keeping in mind the need to provide maximum convenience and comfort to the pilgrims. Typically, all accommodation has lifts, telephones, running water, electricity and telephone at the minimum. There is total computerization of pilgrim location and movement. During Haj, a large contingent of seasonal local staff, supervisors, data entry operators, as well as drivers and messengers (whose job is to round up and bring home safely elderly pilgrims who may have got lost) is appointed by the consulate general of India, Jeddah, during the Haj period.

For Haj 2007, a contingent of 115 doctors (including 63 specialists with post-graduate degrees) and 141 nurses and other para-medical staff, 3 coordinators, 46 assistant Haj officers, 165 Haj assistants and 186 Khadimul Hujjaj were sent from India on short-term deputation to Saudi Arabia. Special attention is given to medical facilities for the pilgrims.

Some of the facilities provided by the government are: arrangements for polio, meningitis and influenza vaccinations for pilgrims before departure; a 75-bed hospital and 12 branch offices-cum-dispensaries in Mecca; a 15-bed hospital and 6 branch offices-cum-dispensaries in Medina; three medical teams at Jeddah airport to provide medical care round the clock to Haj pilgrims; 17 ambulances in Mecca and Medina; supply of medicines, medical supplies and critical medical equipment from India. All this adds up to the total money spent by the government to facilitate a hassle-free Haj pilgrimage each year for tens of thousands of Muslims from India.

Perhaps our self-righteous and petty Kashmiri politicians in India's only Muslim-majority state should reflect over these facts and tell us whether they think it is at least their moral if not political obligation to be more caring and sensitive to Hindu pilgrims visiting Amarnath. If we can do so much for Indians going on a pilgrimage abroad, should we not be able to do as much if not better for pilgrims at home?

For a start, should not the Jammu and Kashmir government at least try to match the facilities given to pilgrims to Vaishno Devi shrine, which is located in the same state? And is it too much to expect our politicians and other "secular" leaders to be a bit more courageous and vocal in trying to knock some sense into the heads of shortsighted and irresponsible Kashmiri politicians?

As those in power, both in Delhi and Srinagar, ponder over this matter, the litmus test has to be whether the decision finally taken adds to the comfort and convenience of the pilgrims.

Indian citizens and taxpayers deserve honest answers to the questions posed above.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Will Devender Goud Join BJP ??

This is just a theory that went through my mind today morning while going through the news paper.

Telugu Desam Party senior leader from Telangana Region and Number Two in the party, Mr. Devender Goud resigned from the primary membership of the party and also from his assembly segment - Medchal yesterday on the issue of separate Telangana State. While the party's strategy has always been wait and watch, this leader from Telangana Region could not able to wait more time and risk his political future and was forced to resign from TDP, a party formed on the basis of "Samaikya Andhra Pradesh" (Combined AP).

Will Goud start a new political party or join an existing one ? And, how many more leaders from TDP belonging to Telangana Region are going to join him and fight for a separate state ? These are some of the questions going through political parties. His resignation is bound to affect other political parties too. TDP was always strong in Telangana Region. With the recent shocking by-election results where in TRS lost chunk of its assembly seats, political parties started feeling that Telangana Sentiment is not there in people. But it is not the case. People have Telangana sentiment but they gave thumbs down to TRS only because of the poor performance record of their candidates. During the run up to the elections, TDP became soft for Telangana cause agreeing to the fact that "Telangana sentiment" is there but once elections are finished, they reverted back to their stated claim of a "Samaikya Andhra Pradesh".

Devender Goud is the the only notable voice raising Telangana issue in TDP - a political party ruled autocratically by Chandra Babu Naidu. The about turn in the policy after elections hurt Goud and since then he kept on giving statements on Telangana.

Now, coming back to the issue of Devender Goud joining BJP. There are already many political parties in the state and forming a new party would only give a fractured verdict in the elections paving way for horse trading during Government formation. Telangana Rashtra Samithi(TRS) is formed by K Chandra Sekhar Rao who as Devender Goud came out of TDP aspiring for separate Telangana state. Goud would not join TRS as their attitude and their policies are quite different from Goud's. He would not join Congress Party for obvious reasons as TDP is formed just to oppose Congress Party. He would not join the Communists nor Loksatta as they dont have much hold in the state.Megastar Chiranjeevi's political party is still a non-starter to join it. Moreover, Goud would be a too big leader to join in any of these parties which are centered around one person.

So, only other alternative is BJP. BJP is strong in Telangana regions and also, TDP earlier supported the BJP Central Government in New Delhi. So, BJP is not a bad choice for Devender Goud.

Anyways, we got to see whether he is contemplating on joining a political party or wants to start a new party. Time would only tell. But with Devender Goud's exit, TDP suffered a severe setback and it would affect their chances to form a future government in the state.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Devender Goud Resigns - Severe Jolt to TDP

In a severe jolt to Telugu Desam Party (TDP), its mascot in Telangana Region and Polit Bureau Member, T. Devender Goud resigned from the party. He tendered his resignation to the TDP Supremo, Nara Chandrababu Naidu and to State Assembly Speaker, Suresh Reddy.

Goud, widely seen as number two in the party hierarchy and a strong votary of Telangana statehood cause, sent his resignation letter to party president N Chandrababu Naidu.

Devender Goud represents the Medchal Assembly Segment which is in the Ranga Reddy District - around 30KM from Hyderabad. The former minister had, off late, emerged a rallying point for protagonists of separate Telangana state within the TDP.

Goud's resignation came as a jolt to TDP, which has traditionally opposed division of the state. Bowing to pressure from a section of pro-Telangana leaders, the TDP had recently constituted a five-member committee to go into the issue and take feedback from the cadre. Goud is also a member of the committee.

Other TDP leaders from Telangana Region are planning to follow Devender Goud.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Naidu was saying that they would take decision on Telangana at a "Right Time", which never came nor would come.

Need to see who all the leaders that are planning to follow Devender Goud and what would be their impact in the next state assemble elections in 2009. With too many political parties, the results would be fragmented and since no political party would be able to cobble together a majority, there would be lot of chances for horse trading.

With Devender Goud's exit, TDP faces a very very bleak future in Telangana Region.

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Security at Hyderabad Airport

I had the opportunity to go to the new Hyderabad International Airport - named as Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad, 30 KM from the city on Friday night as I had to drop off my brother who is leaving for Netherlands.

The Airport is awesome - one of the best in the world, developed by New Delhi based GMR Group at a record speed. The 4 lane road connecting the Airport to National Highway to Bangalore, NH7 is mind blowing. Huge parking lot and the elevators or the escalators are world class.

But, what has baffled me is the lack of security arrangements. This is something that has really concerned me. We could able to take our car directly inside the main airport building without anyone checking it. If you just want to drop off someone at the airport, we need not park in the parking lot. We can directly drive inside the terminal building, drop the passenger off (we can park our car there inside till someone asks us to move it) and then head straight Home without paying the Rs.70 parking fees.

I parked the car for almost 15 minutes without anyone checking or asking me to move it out. In this time of Jehadi Terrorism and Hyderabad already facing lot of bomb blasts from Islamic Terrorism, I think our police is just waiting for another bomb blast. Anyone planning a co-ordinated car bomb blast can bring down the entire terminal building of the airport.

I think it is high time our guys learn their lessons. It is great to see the airport maintained and kept very clean but Security is something that cannot be overlooked.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hindu Suicide Squads ?? Ridiculous !!

Now, here is a person who needs to be immediately put inside a mental rehabilitation center. But after second thoughts, he might become risky for the patients inside the center. Maybe he has to be incarcerated in the infamous Andaman Jail or we need to ask the Americans to host him at the Guantanamo Bay Jail.

The person I am talking about is none other than Bal Thackeray, the Head of Maharashtra based Shiv Sena party. While the entire world is fighting against terrorism, here comes an insane person who is advocating terrorism and that too from Hindus. This is Joke of the Century!! Okay......I agree to become a member of suicide squad but on one condition - Bal Thackeray be the first Hindu Jihadi!! Let him attain "Moksha" by dying for the religion, then I would think it over. I dont understand why people like him and Mohammad Bukhari (Chief Priest at New Delhi's Jama Masjid) are widely tolerated. Being a Democracy, our hands are tied up. We can only get rid of them by politically decimating them.

While the entire world is becoming one through globalization, here is a person who is inculcating hatred between religions. No doubt, Islamic Terrorism has to be suppressed but this is not the right way. You would only end up creating a monster to kill another monster. There are laws in this country to tackle such issues. I hope Thackeray will get back to senses and realize his folly.

Shiv Sena is a political party established by Bal Thackeray to fight for the rights of Maharashtrians as they feel that people from other states have settled in Maharashtra and taking away the jobs of Maharashtrians. Initially, these people are mostly from Tamilnadu and now, from Bihar too.

But, every Indian has the right to choose his / her place of living in the country. This right was given by the Constitution. IF your political party has the power, try to change the Constitution. Sincerely, the Supreme Court would not allow such a thing to happen. People like Bal Thackeray are more dangerous than our known enemies like Pakistanis and Chinese.

Good to note that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an ally of Shiv Sena advised Bal Thackeray to behave responsibly.

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Stubborn Politicians

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Supremo, Nara Chandrababu Naidu is taking a tour of the entire state naming his tour as "Mee Kosam" (For You) and trying to connect with ordinary citizens of the state - which he had not done during his 9 years of rule. During his rule as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, he concentrated more on the cities and completely ignored the plight of farmers thus facing a wrath of villagers and losing power to the Congress Party.

Presently, he is touring Vizianagaram District and yesterday, a small village, Devupalli was the stage for the Supreme Polit Bureau Meeting of TDP. Generally, the high level meeting takes place at its head quarters in Hyderabad. The urgency of the meeting was due to various statements by the members of polit bureau on the issue of separate Telangana State. While Devender Goud, who belongs to Telangana wants the party to issue a statement supporting the separate state, other members like Yenamala Ramakrishnudu, Yerram Naidu (belonging to Andhra Region) and K.E.Krishna Murthy (belonging to Raayalaseema Region) vehemently opposing the separation.

The meeting was held in a luxurious bus that Naidu is using for his "Yatra". While the formation of separate is gaining momentum and almost all the political parties are supporting it, TDP and CPI(M) are the only two political parties who are not able to tap the sentiments of Telangana people.

While Naidu, in a press conference after the meeting agreed that "Telangana sentiment is there in people", he once again repeated his regular quote that "TDP will take a decision after due deliberation and right decision at right time".

I think right time is running out as the next general elections are just 6 months away. It is time politicians shelve their stubbornness and take the sentiments of people seriously.

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Very Very Brave Driver

Yesterday, while I read a very moving article in the newspaper which I wanted to share with you all.

A Bus Driver Syed Fakir who is driving the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) Bus from Srungavarapu Kota (S. Kota) to Araku Valley had a Heart Attack while negotiating the bus through the Ghat Road.

Even while he is aware of the heart attack, he saved the lives of 32 passengers by skilfully applying brakes and banked the bus to the side of the road.

Once the bus stopped, he collapsed on the steering wheel. Worried passengers immediately called the 108 Ambulance Service and he was pronounced dead due to heart attack.

We see such act of bravery very rarely. I salute to the bus driver and feel sad for his demise. Hope APSRTC helps his immediate family.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

BJP Starts Selection of Candidates for Loksabha Polls

To be ahead of it's rivals, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had kickstarted the process of selection of candidates for the oncoming Loksabha polls.

The two day party's National Executive discussed in detail the nitty-gritty of the exercise and directed all state units to send the list of probable candidates to the Central Election Management Committee by this month end.

The state units have been asked to constitute election management committees, panels to manage media and identify key voter groups and issues as soon as possible, senior leaders said in New Delhi.

The two-day National Executive, which concluded in New Delhi on Monday, also saw Lal Kishan Advani, the party's Prime Ministerial face, coining the 'mantra' for campaigning in the next Lok Sabha elections.

It is going to be Jeetega BJP, Jeetega Bharat (victory for the BJP, victory for India), a rejig of the Jeetega Gujarat mantra that powered Narendra Modi to a third straight win in Gujarat last December.

Setting Eyes On New Allies:
Setting its sight on the next Lok Sabha elections, the BJP is embarking on an exercise to expand the NDA as it claims the alliance has an "obvious advantage" with the ruling UPA fast running out of "political steam".

The BJP hopes that its good showing in a series of Assembly elections, including in Karnataka and Gujarat, has surely positioned itself as the frontrunner for the Lok Sabha polls and this will attract more allies.

With back to back Assembly election victories in its kitty, the resolution reflects the upbeat mood in the party and said the BJP-led NDA has an obvious advantage in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

Let's all hope so and pray that BJP returns to power in the next elections!!

KCR Resigns - A Political Gimmick ??

K. Chandra Sekhar Rao, President of Telangana Rashtra Samithi(TRS) resigned today from his post owing to moral responsibility of a huge defeat of his party MLA's and MP's in the recently held by-elections in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.

KCR, as the Telangana party chief is known in political circles, sent his resignation letter to the party general secretary T Madhusudanachary.
"He has asked the party executive committee to accept his resignation," TRS sources said. However, his resignation is unlikely to be accepted by the party.

The party managed to retain only seven out of 16 assembly and two out of four Lok Sabha seats it had vacated.

So humiliating was the verdict that TRS lost Warangal Lok Sabha seat, considered the nerve centre of the Telangana movement, to TDP, while its floor leader in the assembly Vijayarama Rao was also defeated in Station Ghanpur constituency in the district.

Adding insult to the injury, the victory margin of KCR in Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat was reduced to 15,000 votes, a steep fall compared to over 2 lakh votes he had got in the 2006 elections.

Source :

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Shocking By-Election Results

The by-elections to 18 Andhra Pradesh State Assembly seats (MLA Seats) and 4 Loksabha seats (MP Seats)have given a shocking thumbs down to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). The by-elections are conducted after 16 TRS MLA's and 4 MP's resigned to put pressure on the Government for a separate Telangana State to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh. At two other places elections were held as the sitting MLA's died. One of them is Khairatabad in Hyderabad where I voted.

TRS could retain only 7 Assembly Seats and 2 Loksabha Seats while the Congress Party won 6 Assembly Seats and 1 Loksabha Seat while the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) which supports a united Andhra Pradesh won in as many as 5 Assembly Seats and 1 Loksabha Seat.

TRS was pushed to a corner on Telangana issue as Congress Party was not implementing what it promised in the earlier elections. Congress came to power taking help of TRS in the Telangana region thus indirectly supporting separate Telangana. As the Congress party strengthened, it started to distance itself from TRS forcing the TRS to pull out of the Government and eventually resigning to put pressure. TRS was almost synonymous with the Telangana issue. With this shocking defeat, opponents of Telangana State started asking whether the demand is valid as people are not supporting it.

Because of TRS, the separate Telangana State issue came out of the dust and forced all the political parties to take stand on the issue - either for or against the separate state. This is something good which came out of TRS. The main problem with TRS is their loose tongued leaders. From the party president down to all the levels of the party cadre are loose tongued, use filthy words and are known drunkards. Except for a couple of leaders like Harish Rao, others dont stand good in public scrutiny. This has given a very bad image of Telangana itself and people outside Telangana started thinking whether this is the culture of Telangana - using filthy words and drinking.

People from Telangana itself have understood that they have been taken for a ride by TRS and thus started opting for such parties like TDP, which are known well about their policy for a United Andhra Pradesh (Samaikya Andhra Pradesh). This has reflected in the dwindling vote share of TRS past couple of elections. I strongly believe TRS would be wiped out of the map in the general and state elections slated next year.

So, is separate Telangana State issue a closed chapter ?? I dont think so !! Even though people have opted for other parties, separate Telangana State is an issue which is something close to the hearts of people. TRS has to work hard to regain its lost glory. They have to come closer to all sections (Telanganas and Andhras who have settled in Telangana areas) of people and most importantly strive for the development of their constituencies. TRS has not got entire right on Telangana but TRS has the credit of taking the issue to the national stage. Atleast for that purpose, we need to credit TRS !!

Another factor that played in this elections is the role of new political party, Lok Satta. This was started by a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Officer. Lok Satta was initially started as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and then transformed into a political outfit whose aim is clean politics where there is no place for corruption, nepotism and all the other ills of politics. Their aims look great but is it possible in India where political parties are spending hundreds of Millions just for the sake of a single assembly seat ? Practically Impossible !!
I voted to them because of There Is No Alternative (TINA) factor. Iam a traditional Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter and since BJP didnt contest in Khairatabad, and since Iam a traditional anti-Congress supporter, I had no option but vote to Lok Satta.

Lok Satta played a destabilizing role in the Musheerabad Assembly constituency in Hyderabad where BJP candidate, Dr.Lakshman was pitted against a old Congress lady. BJP chances weakened as the Congress used money and muscle power as BJP stood no chance against their power. But Lakshman fought hard and was leading in many rounds of vote counting. What tilted the balance is the 5000 odd votes Lok Satta got denting traditional BJP vote bank - the educated !! End of the day, BJP lost the elections by a very low margin on 2000 odd votes.

This comes back to the point "Is there a necessity for so many political parties?". In a democracy like ours, such questions are not answered nor asked!!

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