Sunday, 31 December 2017

Rajnikanth's Entry to Politics - Short take

What was talked about from mid 90's is finally happening in the end of 2017. Rajnikanth has decided to enter politics by forming a separate party and has announced that he will face the assembly elections whenever they happen next. To an extent he also clarified why he took so long to make this decision. Whether it is convincing enough is another matter.

He claims he was pushed to this decision based on the happenings in the last one year. He has also promised that if he cannot deliver on poll promises he will resign in 3 years.

He made some right noises that he is more about ensuring corrupt free government, with people more frustrated with the levels of corruption this statement would be well received.

Very first mistake according to me is - claiming that he will not do anything till party is formed at the right time before assembly elections. Already people are bit irritated that he took this long to take this decision and even now if it's not active from day one not sure how well that will be received.

Even though I personally feel this is a very long overdue decision, not sure how well he will be effective and accepted as a leader.

Given the fact that Jayalithaa and Karunanidhi are not active and the fact that Stalin was not able to capitalize on the issues in Admk is a clear indication that the people of Tamil Nadu are looking for options. Will Rajnikanth be able to fill the void left by the two leaders ? - Only time will tell.

Wishing him well in his new journey. 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

RK Nagar Elections - What's at Stake

RK Nagar elections are scheduled for 21st December and this is already more than 6 months delayed. (Any seat cannot be vacant for more than 6 months). EC declared that the EPS-OPS gang will keep the 2 leaves symbol and the next day announced the election date. 

EC taking so long to decide on who gets this and the delayed bye-elections doesn't augur well to project their so called independence. 

Even though we had two independents who were getting more media coverage - Vishal and Deepa - don't think they had any chance in the elections. Vishal might have got few votes because of him being a Telugu and Deepa might have got few votes because of sympathy for Jayalalithaa but they had no chance of winning any elections. 

The problem for any leader, is the people surrounding them. Case in point is Deepa, she was over hyped by the people around her and she thought she is the reincarnation of Jayalalithaa. Initially OPS group (in February during the initial revolt against Sasi clan) also fell for the hype but they realized their mistake and started distancing from her. Now with her nomination papers also rejected its time to put her to political oblivion. Vishal's case may play out differently, we will wait and watch. 

Coming to the key players and what's at stake for each of them. 

Starting with DMK - This is a must win situation for Stalin. It is a test of his leadership. With no Jayalalithaa ADMK is doesn't have the same magic. ADMK still has the government machinery but losing this election will be a huge disgrace for Stalin. The party, especially his family which is not happy with his leadership will start revolting and it will be very difficult for Stalin to manage them if he loses this election. With VCK support (which has considerable backing in north madras) their chances have increased. 

EPS - OPS - Madhusudhanan their candidate, is the presidium chairman of the party. He is a local of the constituency and has good cadre backing. However, EPS and OPS merger is coming apart at the seams and any sabotage from within will be a complete disaster for his chances. Losing this election might be a loss of face for the party, I don't think they would mind much. 

TTV -  There is so much hatred among people for the Sasi clan. The main objective of TTV is not win the election but to get at least 1 vote more than Madhusudhanan. His main trump card will be money power, which is what they tried in April also. In case he doesn't get more votes than Madhusudhanan, it will become more difficult to hold on to the few leaders he has now. They will all switch to the other side, already few jumped ship once the symbol went to the other side. In case he gets more seats than Madhusudhanan, he will use that to position his group as the real ADMK, which will be a disaster for EPS-OPS gang. 

All in all Stalin has more to lose than anyone else. The fight between TTV and Madhusudhanan is more about who gets more seats than the other. 

PS : There is another party BJP, less said about them better. No way they will even get their deposit back. 

Friday, 22 September 2017

New Actor Politicians of TN - What 1 year has done to TN Politics

Post September 22nd of last year (It is exactly 1 year since JJ was admitted in Apollo) things have changed drastically in TN politics. Jayalalithaa spent around 75 days in the hospital before passing away on December 5th of 2016. The other veteran of TN politics, Karunanidhi is sick and is completely out of action. 

ADMK is in doldrums and there is considerable hate against the Sasi clan among the people. Feb 7th when OPS revolted against Sasi there was little bit of hope but with his inability to pull more MLAs into his side that also fizzled out. Now with EPS being the CM and OPS merging back things are back to square one for the party. EPS and OPS need some strong backing to take on the clan and that they are currently getting from BJP which hopes to make a headway into TN. 

DMK is a bit clueless without MK. Stalin is not able to make a decisive move on bringing down the government. Things would be completely different if MK was still active. DMK still is in a much better situation that ADMK.

While TN was expecting and waiting for 22 years for Rajnikanth to enter politics looks like his contemporary Kamal will enter politics before him. 

Rajni has been giving mixed signals for last 22 years, his golden opportunity was in 1996. To me that blame should also go the late PM PVN Rao who should have backed him wholeheartedly and that would have also ensured Congress at least managed it's vote bank if note increased the same. They had around 15% vote back then. In 1996 with his backing TMC and Congress rode on the anti-incumbency that Jayalalithaa faced. She was decimated even losing her own seat. In 2004 he gave a statement opposing PMK which was part of the DMK Congress alliance, but they won all seats that they contested. That would have been clear indicator for Rajni that his pull among the people was waning. There is also a popular view that he makes political statements before release of his movies. 

In July of this year he met with his fans and has asked them to be ready and they will be called when there is war. We will have to see if he really takes the plunge this time. 

Kamal on the other hand was harassed during the release of his Viswaroopam movie. That anger against Sasi clan and JJ is also there. With the passing away of Jaya that anger is coming out in the open. He is making all right noises in terms of his tapping into popular sentiments like NEET opposition, Corruption, etc.

With the two main leaders of the two main parties in TN out of action, there is definite political vacuum. This is what the likes of Rajni, Kamal and also BJP want to occupy. 

Let us look at what they can accomplish in electoral politics

Rajni - I am still not convinced if he will really enter politics. Even if he enters, he doesn't have the same popularity which he had in 1996. His health and age will also be against him. In case he really enters, he can at best get 10-15% of the votes which will not help him win many seats to be a serious contender. He will slowly go the Vijayakanth way. 

Kamal - He is an elitist. I am really not sure how he will be able to connect with general public. Some people are joking that people cannot understand his tweets, how are they going to understand his policies. Seriously he has met Kerala CM and Delhi CM and claiming that all these are learning process. Post his meeting with Kejriwal the statements indicate he might move closer towards AAP. AAP has not had any impact in TN so not sure what Kamal can do to them. Kejriwal is also someone who is strong headed person and Kamal is also similar in character, so both of them working together would also be very difficult. Communists are not an option at all. Starting his own party he will not get more than 2-3% vote share. 

I don't think both coming together and forming a party would also change things drastically. They can at best become the second largest party in the coming elections. 

BJP - There is complete hatred among the people for the saffron party, all their efforts to occupy the space of ADMK is coming to naught. NEET, Cauvery, Hindi, Demon, GST, Petrol there are so many things for which people are angry about BJP. It is very difficult for them to make any entry, their best hope is tag along with ADMK and win few seats. 

DMK should move quickly to ensure the current government falls and elections are held. They will sweep the elections if they are held any time soon. I don't think they would want to risk allowing the ADMK the full term. We don't know what can happen in those 3.5 years. 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

ADMK Saga - Trying to answer few questions

With the two factions of the ADMK merging together yesterday, there are quite a few questions that remain. Trying to answer them

1) What is BJP trying to do by merging these two factions? 
2) What is it that OPS faction going to gain from this merger?
3) What is it that the EPS faction going to gain from this merger? 
4) Is the Sasi clan completely out of the equation? 
5) Who gains in the overall scheme of things? 


When JJ was admitted to the Apollo hospitals in September, Panneerselvam was made to take over her responsibilities. When she eventually passed away on December 5th Panneerselvam took over the government and Sasikala became the General Secretary of the party. OPS's gaining popularity didn't go well with the Sasikala clan and they decided to step in. OPS resigned and then revolted against the clan. The Governor played along and didn't swear Sasikala in as the CM even though she had the majority. Sasikala was convicted in the DA case and went to jail, she appointed her dummy EPS as the CM. 

Come April when the RK Nagar by-election was to be held TTV Dhinakaran decided to contest and was keen to take over the CM post. Obviously once in power no one wants to let go, which was the first trigger for EPS. The elections were cancelled due to large scale bribing of voters and TTV also went to jail for the trying to bribe the EC for a favorable verdict in the Party symbol case. 

Once TTV was out of picture EPS consolidated his position among the party MLAs and took control of the government. OPS who revolted against the clan was slowly becoming irrelevant. He was losing hold of the small group of MLAs that he had. OPS was originally backed by BJP hoping that he would be able to break the MLAs but the clan was too smart for that. 

It is interesting game of multiple double crosses and interesting twists.. 
First was OPS revolting against the clan with support from BJP 
Then came the EPS revolting against the clan that also with support from BJP 
Then now TTV stumping the post merger euphoria with his 19 MLAs withdrawing support to the government. 

Coming to the questions that we wanted to answer at the beginning of the post 

What is BJP trying to do by merging these two factions? 

BJP cannot repeat the 2014 success of absolute majority, that is the main issue that they want to address. That is the reason behind Nitish coming out of the mahagadbhandan. That is the reason they want to align with ADMK. However, they also don't want to be seen aligning with the clan. Their hope is that with the merged entity ADMK will be able to win many seats and by aligning with them they will get few seats in TN. 

ADMK will definitely lose badly in the next parliament and assembly election. When things are so obvious not sure why BJP is hell bent on aligning with ADMK, maybe they thought few seats are better than nothing. DMK is not a party which hadn't aligned with BJP earlier, so it wouldn't have been difficult to get them on board, not sure why they didn't try it. All that they need are few raids and DMK will come around. 

What is it that the OPS faction going to gain from this merger ?

OPS was the star back in February when he revolted and with Sasi being convicted many had hoped that MLAs will move towards him. That didn't happen. EPS became stronger and slowly OPS was being irrelevant. There were also rumors that some of his MLAs were willing to move to EPS gang. Can't question them also, they want to enjoy power when it lasts. He merger only to ensure he stays relevant but becoming a Deputy CM and becoming the chief convener of the co-ordination committee of the party, not sure if he can continue to be relevant. Only saving grace was the acceptance of his two demands of sidelining the clan and ordering an inquiry into JJ's death, those two he can claim as face saver. 

What is it that the EPS faction going to gain from this merger? 

EPS has established himself as the leader of the government and has backing of most MLAs. One big advantage he has is the caste backing and the fact that western TN where he is from and where his caste is predominant has been voting ADMK in bulk in the last few elections. He can be the CM till TTV revolts and he has complete backing of BJP now that he has established himself as the leader. Now he also has OPS on his side who was seen as someone with a clean image. 

Is the Sasi clan completely out of the equation? 

I would love to say so, but don't think so. They are well entrenched in the party and in the administration. There are many people from their caste who are present in all levels in the government and bureaucracy. That being the case they can undermine anyone. Only way they can be controlled is if Modi conducts more raids on the gang, which will happen. I won't be surprised if the 19 MLAs who are supporting the clan are targeted. Hearing that they are already packed off to some resort to ensure that Sasikala is not removed from the party. Are they ready to take on the center and bring down the government? They must have something up their sleeve to do that, not sure what that is. 

Who gains in the overall scheme of things? 

ADMK with a leader like MGR or JJ is completely different from the ADMK run by this motley crew. With the merger, maybe the hardcore party members will vote for ADMK but the general public is not going to vote for ADMK or their alliance which in this case will be BJP. DMK will be the only gainer in this whole mess. They are also aware of that, that is the reason they don't want to be seen as opportunistic in bringing down the government. 

Things are changing so fast, the packing off of the TTV supporting MLAs happened after I started this blog. Stalin has asked Governor to ask EPS to prove his majority. Things are changing so fast. Interesting times ahead. 

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Trying to understand Nitish Kumar's decision

Yesterday was an interesting day of developments in Bihar politics. Nitish Kumar the CM, who was pushing for Tejaswi Yadav's (Laloo's son) resignation post the CBI charge sheeting him in a corruption case, took the decision to quit the CM post. 

Obviously it was clear that he had the backing of BJP and was back as CM this morning. He wouldn't obviously quit if not for the assurance of BJP support. Nitish and his JDU alone cannot win elections and he needs the support of other parties to win elections. Individually RJD is stronger than JDU. 

With this move, one of the strong alliance partners of the opposition has moved back to BJP. BJP would have also felt that they cannot repeat their 2014 performance in 2019 without more alliance and they felt it is better to ally with Nitish. 


Let us go back to 2013 when Modi was rising up on the BJP side and Nitish hated him to the core and he snapped the long alliance that he had with BJP. He wanted to ensure that the muslim vote is not lost. 2014 parliamentary elections changed everything when everyone lost badly in Bihar. He quit and made Jitan Ram Manjhi as the CM. Once elections were nearing he was worried that Manjhi will grow too big and came back as CM and tied up with Laloo and Congress and formed the mega alliance. The alliance won easily with Nitish being projected as the CM candidate. 

CBI conducted raid about a case of corruption when Laloo was the Railways minister. Laloo and family got 3 acres of land for letting them run 2 BNR (Bengal Nagpur Railway) hotels through a rigged process. This 3 acre property was initially sold to a benami and later transferred to a company owned by Tejashwi and Rabri. This is the reason for Tejashwi being charge sheeted. 

Nitish's Demand

Nitish wanted Tejashwi to come clean from the case - basically he wanted him to resign. Laloo was not keen to have his son quit so Nitish resigned. As I mentioned earlier he would have finalized BJP support before quitting. It would have been interesting if Laloo had called his bluff by asking his son to quit. 

The Other Player Congress

The other partner in the mega-alliance Congress is once again the easy punching bag for media which is really frustrated that there is no alternative the Modi who is becoming more powerful each day. Nitish met Rahul on Tuesday also but Rahul couldn't do anything to ensure the alliance stayed. It is easy to blame Rahul and Congress for letting the alliance wither away and its not that they don't have a share of the blame being the largest opposition party. They are not the only reason. 

Why Nitish took the decision to move back to BJP

Nitish asking Tejaswhi to quit for a charge sheet is just a reason for him to move back to BJP. There are union ministers with charge sheet who are still continuing, for that matter Nitish himself has cases of Attempt to murder and murder against him. I personally wouldn't be surprised if all these were pre-planned right from the CBI charge sheet (why else is a 13 year old case is coming back to light now?) 

What are the probable reasons for Nitish moving away now

  1. There are rumors that Laloo was ok to dump Nitish and support BJP if all cases against his kids are dropped. Nitish wanted to preempt such a move and so he went with BJP.
  2. There were talk about him being a PM candidate for the opposition in 2019 and it is obvious that he has high ambitions of becoming the PM. Then why did he quit, probably because he felt that BJP will be very difficult to win. Even 2014 elections BJP was growing strong when he quit, so has he learnt his lesson or will it be a repeat of 2014 mistake? Only time will tell 
  3. End of the day he is the junior party in the alliance (which will not be the case with BJP - at least in Bihar) and any day Laloo can ask his son to be made the CM. 
End of the day politics is about survival, Nitish probably felt he can continue as the CM and keep his PM ambitions aside for some time. 

He is 66 now and with 2019 ruled out he will be 73 in 2024 and only in Indian politics people have career plans for such age :)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

BCCI and the art of messing up Coach selection

Not sure why BCCI is so good at the art of messing up the Coach selection. 

We have had very few coaches - John Wright, Greg Chappell, Gary Kirsten, Duncan Fletcher, Ravi Shastri and Anil Kumble. The people before Wright were more of managers. 

Ford Fiasco

After Chappell left post the 2007 WC fiasco (the first instance when the coach was vetoed by the players) we had the sordid episode of BCCI announcing Graham Ford as the coach for him to decline the offer once he went back to South Africa. Even though he quoted reason of having a young family to decline the offer I feel there was something more to it. Wouldn't he have known about his young family before flying all the way to India to attend an interview? 

Chappell Fiasco

It is also funny that Chappell was suggested by Sourav Ganguly and the fall out between the two turned really ugly. Sourav and Sachin (Chappell didn't want Sachin to open in ODIs, which Sachin didn't like) were the main drivers behind Chappell not getting an extension beyond the 2007 world cup. After a disastrous campaign in West Indies, some head had to role and it was easy to let go of the coach who was not in good terms with the stars. 

The best two of the lot 

Gary Kirsten and John Wright were the best we have had. Duncan Fletcher - he has helped a few young players with their technical issues but there was nothing more to say about him. The positive with Wright and Kirsten was we had some strong captains in Sourav and Dhoni during their term and the coaches were more than happy to stay in the background. They also understood that with superstar cricketers not much can be dictated. That's one thing Chappell didn't understand. 

Craziness 2016 onwards

Coming to what has been happening in the last few years. Ravi Shastri was appointed as the Director post Fletcher. He was more the motivator rather than the strategist. Out of the blue last year he was sacked and replaced by Anil Kumble. Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman were in charge of selecting the coach. It is pretty obvious that Sourav and Shastri have some huge problems between them which was obvious based on the comments that came out during that period. No one knows why Shastri was not extended and what was the driver for Kumble to take over? 

Come 2017, we were all taken aback when there was an advertisement for the coach's role once the team left for the Champions Trophy. The reason cited was that Kumble had only 1 year contract and it was more of a process. Then came the leaks that Kohli and Kumble didn't see eye to eye and were not in communicating terms. Kohli put his foot down and got his way of getting Kumble removed from the coach's role. 

Once Kumble resigned and the application timeline was extended till 9th of July for people to apply there was an interview conducted on 10th. Was that enough time to scrutinize all the applications? On what basis were the people called for interviews? 

Five people were interviewed on 10th - Shastri, Sehwag, Lalchand Rajput, Richard Phybus and Tom Moody. Earlier it was mentioned that Phil Simmons would also be interviewed but he was not available to not interviewed. Shouldn't they have given him opportunity? That was the first proof that the whole process is a farce. 

End of the interview Ganguly mentioned the captain has to understand what the coach will do and that they are still discussing. The next day we had a leak that Shastri is the coach which was denied by BCCI and then later confirmed. Add to the announcement was Zaheer Khan being appointed as bowling coach and Dravid being asked to accompany the team for overseas tours. The same trio sacked Shastri last year, what did Shastri do in the interim which convinced them? 

There was also news that the Cricket administrators - Vinod Rai and gang pushing the trio to announce the coach yesterday itself. Not sure why the Vinod Rai gang was keen on that. It is another story that those administrators are a useless gang. 

Then came the behind the scene story - Ganguly wanted Moody and Sachin wanted Shastri. Not sure what Sachin saw in Shastri in the one year that he was convinced he should get the job. VVS with his role in Sunrisers had a conflict of interest in Moody's case so was neutral. To please Sourav, the choice of bowling coach was left to him. Shastri had wanted B Arun who was the bowling coach during his previous stint but was denied, for now

This leaves us with the following questions 

1) Why can't the richest cricketing body get his act together when it comes to getting the coach. We can get the best we want without issues. 

2) Is the coach selection according the whims and fancies of the Fab 3? Or that of the captain? Shouldn't we have a defined process for coach selection? 

3) Why didn't anyone try to get Kumble and Kohli work together? 

Shastri has worked out well in his earlier stint and the captain wanted him, so it should work out fine. One thing that I am definitely not fine with is how the whole thing has been handled. It is time BCCI get its act together but with the Supreme court meddling so much this would be least of their priorities. 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

I am the best.... The problem is the opposition is even better....

I am the best to take care of security.... Proof of the pudding - Kashmir is in trouble... Naxals are still killing lots of people

I am the reformer and best for the economy.... Proof of the pudding - Growth has slowed down.... No jobs being created.... Yeah the best thing that I did demonetization

I will take care of the agriculture and farmers... Proof of the pudding - every where there are farmers protesting even after a good monsoon (except TN)....

Is there anything that I have not proved that I am the best?

The only problem is there is an even better opposition.....

2019 - Nothing can and will stop me

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