Saffron surge in Battleground States

Still no clarity on the magic number- 220 which will be required to convince new partners (my state is my kingdom) to join up. For now the likely list will include TDP (Andhra), AIADMK (Tamil Nadu) and BJD (Odisha). And that’s it. BJP is radio-active for the two Mullahs (Mulayam and Mamata) who have strong muslim backing. Mayawati may be persuaded to join but she will demand dismissal of Samajwadi Party from Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) in return.

It appears that Mission 115 looks to be a goal too far for the Congress (the south, in particular, Kerala, Karnataka and Telengana will be crucial). Also the AAP may not be making a large enough impact in this elections but hopefully will take over from Congress as a secular alternative. For that the AAP has to find a way to steal (and retain) Dalits and Muslim votes, which have always  been donated free to Congress.

Congress and UPA are facing decimation in a wide swathe of states from
Delhi and Rajasthan in the north to Bihar and Jharkhand in the east,
Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the centre, Maharashtra in the west
and Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the south. In sharp
contrast, the BJP and its allies are riding high in almost all these
states, with Tamil Nadu being an exceptional case of neither major
alliance doing well, according to an opinion poll done for a TV channel.

The poll done by Hansa Research for NDTV and released on Thursday
estimated that the BJP would win 21 of 25 seats in Rajasthan, 25 of 29
seats in MP, eight of 11 seats in Chhattisgarh, 10 of 14 seats in
Jharkhand, 16 of 28 seats in Karnataka and four of seven in Delhi. Thus,
in these six states combined, the party would bag 84 out of 114 seats
on its own. The BJP with its allies would win 21 of Bihar’s 40 seats, 36
of Maharashtra’s 48, 16 of AP’s 42 and three of Tamil Nadu’s 39,
leading to a total of 76 out of 169 seats in these four states.

As against this, the poll predicts that the Congress will win just 29
seats in AP, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan,
Chhattisgarh and Delhi put together, while the party and its allies will
win 25 seats in Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. In short, the overall
tally in all of these states put together would be 160 for the NDA and a
mere 54 for the UPA.
Tamil Nadu, the poll predicts that the AIADMK will win 25 seats, the DMK
alliance 11 seats and the BJP alliance three seats, leaving the
Congress facing a blank slate. In Andhra Pradesh, there would be two
distinctly different battles – mainly between the TDP-BJP and the YSR
Congress in Seemandhra and between the Congress and TRS in Telengana.
Put together, the TDP alliance is estimated to win 16 seats, the YSR
Congress 10, the Congress eight and TRS seven.

In Maharashtra,
the NDA will win 36 seats and the UPA just 10, the poll predicted. In
Bihar, the NDA gets 21, the UPA 11 and the ruling JD(U) a mere six. In
Delhi, AAP will win two seats and Congress one, the remaining four going
to BJP, the poll predicted.

Dalit boy dumps Obama, picks up AK-272

He was a dead poor, rural boy whose mother was a rag-picker. He defied fate (and logic) by marching into the Indian Institute of Technology and then on to USA and had been an active supporter of the Obama campaign. However, now his homeland has called and he has returned to assist Arvind Kejriwal to achieve their (common) dream of a corruption free (less?) India. A true patriot, India needs many more of such bright, young stars who may one day grow into an(other) Ambedkar.

Much better than a few other disadvantaged people who grew too big too fast (and became too greedy and had to pay for their sins).

not often that the son of a dalit agricultural labourer from
Maharashtra’s farm suicide belt, whose mother once worked as a rag-picker
on the streets of Mumbai, makes it as an entrepreneur in America and
provides healthcare consultancy to the governments of New York,
Washington and New Jersey.

What are the odds that such a man
will throw up a life in New Jersey after a decade in the US to return to
his dusty village in rural Marathwada? That’s a question Aam Aadmi
Party’s Jalna candidate, Deelip Mhaske, is best suited to answer.

Mhaske (35) is a Dalit candidate contesting the elections from an open
seat in a Maratha stronghold, a rarity of sorts for Indian politics.
While Mhaske is no stranger to elections, having actively supported the
Obama campaign, the murky world of Maharashtra politics came as a bit of
a shock to him. His political opponents have used both his caste and
his US stint against him, calling him an outsider.

Some of his
campaigns have been disrupted by rowdy elements shouting casteist slurs
at him. He says other political parties have openly distributed alcohol
in the district to buy votes.

Mhaske, though, is no stranger to
challenges. When he made it to IIT Bombay for a degree in planning and
development, he doubled up as a construction labourer, while his mother
worked as a ragpicker to make ends meet. “I once landed up at a building
where my classmate lived in order to carry out some construction work.
That’s when she discovered for the first time that I worked as a
construction labourer,” he says.

Post IIT, a research paper he
wrote was selected for a conference at the University of Pennsylvania
where he got a scholarship to do his PhD. Mhaske, who went on to set up
his own outpatient clinic for mental health patients, also had a degree
in health sciences from Harvard Business School. He has been a
healthcare consultant with the governments of New York, New Jersey and

His early success may have something to do with the
Central government scholarship he got at the age of 10, which gave him
entry to Navodaya Vidyalaya, one amongst a chain of schools that
provides quality education across India to talented children in rural

Mhaske has been intricately linked with India’s
anti-corruption movements, both while at IIT as well as during his
career in the US. “I have been an active member of Jayprakash Narayan’s
Lok Satta party in Hyderabad, and was involved in setting up a chapter
of the party in Maharashtra,” says Mhaske, adding that he had been a
part of Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption in 2003, as a student
at IIT, well-before Hazare shot to fame on the national arena.

While in the US, Mhaske joined the Aam Aadmi Party the day it was
launched and has worked on several campaigns, both online and offline,
to garner support for the party. “I’ve always felt the need to enter
politics in order to better the system. This is why I have supported
good parties such as AAP and Lok Satta,” says Mhaske.


Free speech vs. Equality

America stands for both but as the article notes very difficult compromises need to be made.
Of course you can seek protection under the (broad) umbrella of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Still courts have now been consistently delivering the message that anti-gay viewpoints will lose out (however anti-women measures such as banning of aborti-facients will probably be still OK).


That said some one must feel the pain of being a true-blue social conservative in Silicon valley. The moment you dare to come out of YOUR closet (aka exercise your free-speech rights) the Hounds of the Bay-ville will be after you. They will tear out your heart out and eat it (with some fava beans and a nice glass of chianti). What a pity. But then again it must have been glorious for Brendan Eich to die for his belief that gays should not get married. All movements need (and feed on) martyrs, so this should be a red-letter day for the anti gay-rights cause.

the company behind the popular Firefox web browser, on Friday announced
that their controversial CEO Brendan Eich is resigning.

has been under fire for his views on gay marriage and gay rights. He
reportedly donated $1,000 to an anti-gay organization that lobbied for
ban on same-sex marriages in California in 2008.

When Eich
became Mozilla CEO on March 24, a controversy started over his views on
same-sex marriage. Many Mozilla employees took to Twitter to register
their displeasure at Eich’s views. A few days ago, Ok Cupid, a dating
website, said that it would be asking its users to change their web
browser if they were using Firefox because of Eich’s position on
same-sex marriage.

The resignation comes a day after Eich said that he would not resign for his personal beliefs.

In a blog post, executive chairwoman at Mozilla Mitchell Baker, wrote,
“Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made
this decision for Mozilla and our community … Mozilla believes both in
equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful
speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how
to stand for both at the same time can be hard.”


Babri demolition was pre-planned

If this Cobra sting report is true then there should be charges of high crimes against the nation brought against the top conspirators.

What we found to be the most sickening was this viewpoint: young participants were deliberately used as
cannon fodder by provoking a police firing on kar sevaks in 1990 because
of the belief of some leaders that the movement would not gather steam
unless ‘some Hindus die’.

elaborate sting operation, conducted on 23 key people of the Ram
Janambhoomi movement, claims that the demolition of the Babri Masjid on
December 6, 1992, was elaborately planned by the various wings of the
Sangh parivar and executed with precision by trained volunteers. It
wasn’t, as it is claimed, a case of mob frenzy going out of control,
leading to the fall of the disputed 16th century structure.

investigation, carried out by Cobrapost, claims that by piecing
together the versions given by the top Ram Janambhhomi players, among
them Sakshi Maharaj, Acharya Dharmendra, Uma Bharti, Mahant Vedanti and
Vinay Katiyar, it is apparent that top BJP leaders like L K Advani and
the then UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, as well the former Congress PM,
P V Narasimha Rao,
were aware of the planned demolition of Babri

Posing as a
would-be-author researching his book on the Ayodhya movement, Cobrapost
associate editor K Ashish travelled to Ayodhya, Faizabad, Tanda,
Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Mathura, Moradabad in UP, Jaipur, Aurangabad, Mumbai
and Gwalior interviewing 23 of those who participated in the operation.
He clandestinely recorded conversations with them.

If what
they claim is true, the Ram Janambhoomi leaders and activists toiled
secretly for months on a plan codenamed ‘Operation Janmabhoomi’ and
executed it with military precision. Volunteers were trained, logistics
painstakingly put in place and the assault on the disputed shrine
launched using large surging crowds with volunteers skilled in
demolishing structures embedded in it.

Not only do those
interviewed spell out details of the planning, they also allegedly
reveal how enthusiastic young participants were deliberately used as
cannon fodder by provoking a police firing on kar sevaks in 1990 because
of the belief of some leaders that the movement would not gather steam
unless ‘some Hindus die’.

Many of those interviewed by the
make-believe author are accused in CBI cases pertaining to the
demolition. Yet, they seemed to have no qualms in “confessing” (or
boasting) about their role in the episode that left a deep communal
schism in India.


Musharraf (just escapes) murdered

He is a good man (even though he launched a counter-productive war against India).

The Taliban have also made it clear that they want his head. Basically anybody who is not with them is by definition against them. It would help is the powers that be that are in charge of Pakistan hurry up and get rid of this growing menace before it consumes everybody in SAsia.
former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who is on trial for treason,
narrowly escaped an assassination attempt as a bomb went off shortly
before his convoy was due to pass on Thursday, police said.

bomb was planted on his route from an army hospital where he has been
staying since January to his home on the outskirts of Islamabad.

“Four kilograms of explosive device planted in a pipeline under a
bridge exploded around 20 minutes before the former president was
supposed to cross the spot,” senior police official Liaqat Niazi said.


A Divine Shadow

I saw this in a tweet ( but what made my jaw drop in astonishment is the most contested entry in Wikipedia Farsi.

The Shadow of the Divine, the Bab, haunts Persian still more than a century after his proclamation that he was the harbinger to the Promised One of the Ages (Baha’u’llah). Following him is the idiosyncratic Iranian worship of Hazrat Fatimah.
An interesting side note is that Macaulay succeeded it seems Wikipedia English is the default one for Desis.

Sacrificing humans easier than goats

Why did the US ambassador to India suddenly resign? Is it because of the need felt by the Imperial Court to have a reset with this particular mansabdari? Since no public explanations are given, private speculations are helping to fill the vacuum.

Moving beyond business, if one was to look at other areas in the
bilateral relations between India and the US, then the Devyani
Khobragade issue was definitely one that became a major stumbling block
for meaningful progress in their ties. And for this, the US government
and the ministry of external affairs of India should both be blamed. If
the US “mishandled” the Indian diplomat and treated her like a “common
criminal,” then the jingoistic reaction in India contributed to its
snowballing into a major controversy.
While the American government was
being blamed for the humiliation of the Indian diplomat, the fact that
she had also violated a domestic law in the US was totally ignored and
brushed off the Indian table.

If, in this drama, Powell is to be blamed then it is perhaps for the
decision of one of the US diplomats in the consular section to give a
visa to the Indian maid Sangeeta Richard’s husband and children to
travel to the US even as a case against her was pending before the
Indian court.

The US diplomat involved in the consular section was since
withdrawn and taken back to Washington. But some of the Indian
decisions that include stripping US diplomats of special privileges and
removing the barricades from in front of the embassy in Chanakyapuri,
remain in force.

The third reason being cited for Powell’s removal from the post is
because of her handling of Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s prime
ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi.
The US continued to be the last
“holdout” among western diplomats to engage with Modi. Even though the
European Union ambassadors broke their post-Godhra moratorium of
engaging with Modi, the US embassy in Delhi only decided to do so early
this year after all the others.

By all indication, Nancy Powell’s departure from the scene may allow
the US to re-set its relations with India.
But it may soon find out that
making a scapegoat of Powell only solves half its problem relating to
India. The other half may well prove to be much tougher to resolve in
the coming days.


Please vote for the illiterate millionaire

Rakhi Sawant is an ordinary lady with extra-ordinary assets (she is also worth US $ 2.5 million) and a dedicated voice for the downtrodden. She has marked herself “illiterate” under educational qualifications while filing papers for standing as a candidate. Taking a close look at the whole picture we would have to say literacy is over-rated. We also wish her the best for the elections (and in her avowed goal to wake up leaders from deep sleep) and fancy her chances of winning the (young male) vote.

starlet Rakhi Sawant who is contesting from Mumbai Northwest seat has
declared herself an “illiterate” with total assets of Rs 14.69 crore.

The actress has invested Rs 61.26 lakh in bonds and shares and Rs 2.12
crore in insurance and postal savings. She owns a Ford Endeavour worth
Rs 21 lakh and jewellery worth Rs 7.55 lakh.

Her immovable
property includes a residential flat and offices in suburban Mumbai. The
flat was purchased at Rs 5,03,12,500 and its current market value is
stated to be Rs 11,12,59,000.

Rakhi has marked herself “illiterate” in the educational qualifications column in her nomination papers.

The actress, who launched Rashtriya Aam Party, had said she was
entering politics “to wake up MPs from their deep sleep and to solve
problems of people as they have deep trust in me”.


Heavenly abode prefers a secular icon

The rumors are louder than ever that Hindus in Kerala have become a minority (majority: Muslims + Christians). It is also true that Rahul Gandhi’s grand-father was Feroze Jahangir Khan (Parsi from Mumbai) and his mother is a Roman Catholic (from Italy). What has one thing to do with the other?

Kerala is the only one out of 4 southern states where peeps prefer Gandhi over Modi as PM.  Indeed on present mood, Congress may sweep 17 out of the 20 seats. That is simply amazing and probably also underlines the sidelining of the Communists in this election. In addition, Congress is likely to win as many as 18 seats in Karnataka (out of 28)- which can be attributed to the lingering memories of the horrendously corrupt BJP state govt under Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyruppa (he is back in the BJP after having been expelled…as short term greed overcomes long-term need). In Tamil Nadu, however the Grand Old Party will get no satisfaction as the Dravidas are completely, head-over-heels in love with their foreigner (and) Brahmin lady leader (her party is likely to win the majority of seats- 21 out of 39). Finally Congress should expect no more than 8 seats in Andhra Pradesh (including Telengana). Thus, a max total of 43 seats, approximately 40% of the Mission 115 seats are due to come from the south. In more than one way it is significant that it is the (southern) end of the nation is where the GOP has vowed to take its last (secular) stand and the people are still loyal followers (and voters). Good for them.


Brown Pundits