Friday, August 31, 2012

What Third Front ?

Sonia checkmates Advani via Mulayam

Sonia Gandhi may have been ranked by “Forbes” world’s 6th most powerful woman. The poor pehlwan Mulayam Singh Yadav may not figure anywhere in power circuit either. But he made Sonia Gandhi to walk up to him twice this week in full public view raising political eyebrows.
If she created a flutter in the Lok Sabha by walking up to Mulayam Singh Yadav on Tuesday pleading for electricity in Amethi and Rae Barelli, she walked up to him again on Thursday to thank him for his gesture. Now the constituents of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi will thank both – Mulayam and Congress for 24X7 electricity when rest of the state is reeling under power cut for at least 8 hours a day. Mulayam, in fact, restored power in these two districts on Tuesday itself.
Political observers are shocked at Sonia Gandhi’s new found public affection for Mulayam. Was it that simple an act or deep politics ?
My assessment is that by pleading with him and that too in full public view for electricity, Sonia is sending a public message to all political parties that SP and Congress can do business together despite differences in future.
It is a clear signal that Sonia Gandhi may either seek the support of the Third front or give it – whatever be the scenario in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
And the see the promptness with which Mulayam joined hands with the Left parties and roped in TDP which was doing business with BJP on anti-corruption front until Monday ?
Sonia walked up to Mulayam on Tuesday and the third front emerged on Wednesday night and Thursday morning they all were together on Dharna and in the Lok Sabha Sonia Gandhi thanked Mulayam Singh again for whatever he has done for her constituencies.
It also means that Congress will be a unofficial B team of SP in UP and focus in other states during 2014 Lok Sabha polls. It may mean that Rahul gandhi’s politics of reviving Congress on its own in UP has been put on the back burner. It also means a great set back to Digvijay Singh and one will have to watch political developments. Ahmad Patel must be smiling silently.
Some party leaders who do nothing on the ground and reaping the power here, must be upset with this open display of affection as it would “demoralize” workers.
“This is not her political clout. It is surrendering to the SP,” said a senior functionary.

Watch this space for what BJP veteran L K Advani is doing and cooking whose goose ?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sushma Swaraj Dials Mulayam for mega monday meeting

Worried Manmohan may talk to Advani ?

Fly on the Wall

With Finance Minister P Chidambaram propounding a “Zero-Loss” theory in the Coalgate scam and more and more Opposition parties are joining the anti-government chorus, as Congress Core Committee dwelt with new ideas to break the logjam.

One of the suggestions that emerged during the meeting last night was that the PM should directly speak to NDA leader L K Advani and invite him for one-to-one talk. Both do not enjoy a comfortable relationship for quite some time. Advani is targeting the “honest Manmohan Singh image” in the coalgate  and unwilling to negotiate so far.

The Congress Core Committee was particularly alarmed over reports that Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav may attend a meeting called by Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj in her parliament house office on Monday morning to chalk out a common strategy in Parliament house. The AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal and TDP have already joined the anti-PM chorus and grand Opposition alliance is emerging. Though Mulayam Singh Yadav is unpredictable and no one is sure what he will do on Monday. But he has adopted a tough posture against UPA on Coalgate and feels that by joining Opposition, he will be able to hijack the anti-corruption plank of the BJP in UP. He has openly accused the UPA by saying yesterday that, “This government has lost his moral right to rule.” Secondly, he may also become a rallying point of the Joint Action against Corruption.

In this scenario the UPA trying to break the logjam and ensure that PM is able to make his statement on coalgate and answers all the questions raised by the MPs on Monday itself. He will be able to proceed to NAM summit on Tuesday. Since the debate will be nationally televised, he will benefit.

The Core Committee has also entrusted the task of coordinating with the Opposition leaders to Sushil Kumar Shinde, P Chidambaram and Pawan Kumar Bansal to find a mutually acceptable formula to break the logjam.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

FB, Twitter, Youtube, google fall in line; PMO happy

After resisting for several days, global social networks fell in line. If Twitter wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office saying it has removed over half-a-dozen accounts that "misrepresent" the Prime Minister's Office,  World's largest social networking website Facebook agreed to remove content, block pages or even disable accounts of those users who upload contents inciting violence or perpetuate hate speech.

A top official in the PMO Pankaj Pachauri told me today that these companies have agreed to cooperate. “we didn’t want them to remove parody against anybody. We wanted only certain account which misrepresent that they are the real PMO websites,” he said.

Sachin Pilot, Minister for the Information Technology also said  separately that these global social networking websites have started falling in line. If earlier they were cooperating 10%, today they are cooperating 60%.”

Even Youtube has agreed to put faster action in removing and identifying the content that violate spirit and sensitivities.
"Facebook will remove content which breaches our terms as set out in our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Content or individuals can be removed from Facebook for a variety of reasons including issuing direct calls for violence or perpetuating hate speech," a Facebook spokesperson said.

Sources said PMO wrote to Twitter about the "fake accounts" in June. But Twitter did not respond to India's concerns. In July, the government started looking for some other ways to cut off access to the offending PMO accounts. But after Assam incidents, Twitter fell in line.

However, USA
urged India to maintain respect for fundamental freedoms, while probing rumours that have caused an exodus of northeastern Indians from southern cities.


India is up against the newest threat to its national security: cyber jihad.
The recent discovery of a web of hate sites on the Internet that caused nationwide exodus of citizens of northeast from different Indian cities to their native land is an indication of how the terrorists are constantly evolving and mutating. A large number of the 245 websites blocked by the Indian government in past few days are found to be operating from Pakistan, the Ministry of Information and Technology has gone on record as saying.
This is despite the fact that the NTRO has a 120-member strong cyber security team. In addition, the NTRO also boasts of two special teams -- a 35-member team for cyber patrolling and a 60-member team of hackers for taking the cyber battle right into the enemy camp. These teams have a pan-India presence and are deployed in big cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Incidentally these are the cities where the cyber warriors have wreaked havoc in past few days.
The mandate given to the officials patrolling and policing the cyber space is clear: instead of trying to force the closure of the hate websites and get into a protracted battle with the service providers, paralyze these websites as soon as they pop up.
However, what puts India, an acknowledged IT superpower of the world, in poor light is the fact that the response of the Ministry of Home Affairs has been tepid and dreadfully slow. It took over a month for the MHA to discover that the northeast exodus had been triggered by morphed images and videos uploaded on these hate websites to incite Muslims in the wake of  clashed between Bodos and Muslims that started in Assam on July 13.
On August 20, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government blocked 89 more websites taking the total number to 245 of such hate-spewing portals that triggered exodus of citizens of the northeast from different parts of the country. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who raised the issue with his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik on telephone during his first telephonic conversation with Malik, later said India would provide evidence to Pakistan on the involvement of Pakistani websites in launching a malicious hate campaign against the people of the northeast.
The National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), the apex scientific body set up in 2004 that reports directly to the Prime Minister’s Office, has uncovered hundreds of websites that have been indulging in anti-India propaganda. Though most of these websites are operating from Pakistan, the NTRO does not rule out the possibility of other countries too being involved in this, possibly at the behest of elements in Pakistan.
However, the government is finding it difficult to tame the Internet as leading cyber sphere entities like Google, Facebook and Twitter have bluntly told the government that they can’t remove anti-India propaganda. The government has unsuccessfully tried to block individual accounts on Facebook and Twitter that have been spreading malicious rumors about the citizens of northeast. Hundreds of such accounts have come to light but the social networking sites have refused to cooperate with the Indian government, either citing technical difficulties or hiding behind the cover of international laws.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jaitley brokers peace between Nitin-Modi, Advani worried

Fly on the wall

By Harish Gupta

Slowly and quietly, realignment is taking place within the BJP. Party chief Nitin Gadkari and Gujrat Chief Minister Narendra Modi are now best of friends and exchanging views on a regular basis. It was Leader of the Opposition, Arun Jaitley who brokered this peace between the two who were not even on talking terms. Though Balbir Punj, BJP Rajya Sabha MP was working as a broker between the two. But the two never came together. Finally, Jaitley entered the arena and as a party’s trouble-shooter he clinched the deal. Ravi Shanker Prasad, Prakash Javdekar and chief ministers are of the BJP and Akali Dal and JMM are with this faction. Once this happened, former BJP president Rajnath Singh, M Venkiah Naidu and fence sitters fell in line. The RSS leadership has also thrown its weight behind Gadkari-Jaitley-Modi trio. On the other side of the fence are Sushma Swaraj, leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Ananth Kumar and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. L K Advani is still their mascot. All eyes are set on Gujrat and Himachal Assembly polls and Nitin-Jaitley-Modi-Dhumal together will call the shots while others watch helplessly. Advani has reasons to be worried.

 How SS Ahluwalia became Meira’s Adviser

Remember S S Ahluwalia ! He was part of Rajiv Gandhi’s shouting brigade for 12 years and then moved towards the BJP and for the next 12 years he was BJP’s vocal face in the Rajya Sabha. But times changed with the arrival of Arun Jaitley at the helms. He wanted debate not disruption should prevail in the House of Elders. No slogan shouting, no shouting. The BJP gave him rest. He was lucky to get ticket in the bye-election in Jharkhand after it was countermanded. But he ran out of luck and lost. Desperate to get a house as he had no money or flat in Delhi, he knocked at every door. But got no relief from anywhere. Finally, he went to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, an old Narasimha Rao protégé. It is learnt that it was the PM who requested the Speaker of the Lok Sabha Meira Kumar. She decided to appoint Ahluwalia as her adviser for digitalization of the Parliament’s library. Ahluwalia will work for free. But will get rent free accommodation for one year. The BJP leadership is worried as four of its MPs in the Lok Sabha wrote letters to the Speaker to appoint him.  

Sibal buys peace with BJP

Its another coup. This time, its between the floor leaders of the BJP and the Congress..Fed up of veteran leader L K Advani refusing to bow out, the BJP leaders in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have devised a mechanism to ensure that there is no boycott of P Chidambaram. Even the bills pending of HRD and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal be allowed to pass the Opposition muster in the Rajya Sabha where the UPA doesn’t have a majority. During the last session, Advani had forced a decision on the party that it would boycott P Chidambaram. The directive came under the influence of S Swamy, S Gurumurthy and others who have nothing to do with the BJP. Even Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were upset as to how the outsiders are influencing Advani’s decision making process. Leader of the Opposition in both houses had separate meetings with PC and Sibal and the matters were sorted out. It’s a different matter that both the ministers paid a courtesy call on Advani too. But Advani was only a silent spectator this time. The protest will only be symbolic – for a day only.

The crusader shown the door

Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan may be a crusader against corruption and blasting the BJP. But when it comes to land or favours, he forgets even the “Corrupt Mayawati” or “communal BJP”. How land was allotted at throw away price by the Mayawati government in NOIDA to him and his father is history.  As if this was not enough, in Himachal Pradesh, the Dhumal government  violated land laws by granting permission to Prashant Bhushan to purchase a huge chunk of land that was meant for a tea estate in the name of Kumud Bhushan Educational society. But this alone was not the catch. Dhumal even appointed him as the standing counsel of the state in Delhi. When the matter came to the fore, the party high command took Dhumal to task. He was asked how an anti-BJP person was appointed and for what purpose. Dhumal was directed to terminate the arrangement. Finally, Dhumal gave in and removed Prashant Bhushan.