Fake Degree: Skeletons tumbling out of BJP’s closet?

BJP may have started this game with the arrest of AAP’s Tomar but can the finish the game? Many BJP leaders are now under the scanner, with high profile ministers like HRD minister Smriti Irani and Junior HRD minister Ram Shankar Katheria to recently accused Maharashtra Water Supplies minister Babanrao Lonikar, the list keeps growing. Newest addition to this infamous list is BJP MP from Delhi Ramesh Bidhuri.

Ramesh Bidhuri

As it turns out, Bidhuri has submitted conflicting affidavits from 2008 to 2014. When he contested from Tughlakabad constituency in Delhi vidan Sabha election in 2008, he claimed to have passed B.Com from Shaheed Bhagat Singh college (University of Delhi) in 1986 and has maintained the same claim when he unsuccessfully contests from South Delhi constituency during 2009 Lok Sabha elections. However, in his affidavits during 2013 Delhi Vidan Sabha elections and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he claims to have completed B.Com in the year 1988. Yup, two full years after he had supposedly graduated as per his 2008 affidavit. Is it a simple typo error? if so, how was the same typo made in 2 affidavits (2013 & 2014)? Smells fishy? it sure does!!!

2008 Affidavit: (Source: Myneta.info /ADR)

2013 Affidavit: (Source: Myneta.info /ADR; scroll to page 13)
http://docs2.myneta.info/affidavits/ews3delhi2013/199/RAMESH%20BIDHURI.pdf

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Hypocrisy, thy name is BJP?

From Prime minister to bureaucrats of Ministry of external affairs, BJP party bigwigs to ‘Internet Hindu’ warriors (atleast most) are going gaga over Bangladesh land swap deal. However, most are conveniently forgetting, or hoping others would, that they were claiming to oppose this same bill tooth and nail before elections. Unfortunate for them, Internet never forgets! Here are some of their rhetoric tweets against the land agreement bill in 2013-14! Now, if this agreement is being hailed as an historic agreement, then BJP should answer some simple questions:
1. What are the key differences in agreement that then-UPA govt introduced & what was signed now?
2. If they are same, why did BJP oppose it then and supporting now? Is it just an election stunt?
3. Why didn’t BJP play role of a constructive opposition and get this agreement done in 2013 itself when first introduced by UPA?

Don’t know if we will ever hear an response. Any case, here are those tweets!

First our honorable Foreign Minister herself:

In her own words:

Biting UPA for doing similar agreement:

She even assured people of WB & Assam that she wouldn’t let this happen:

Sushma ji has lot of explaining to do!

Next is Ram Madhav, National General Secretary, BJP & RSS big-wig:

But sadly for Ram Madhav, PM heard it wrong & did just the opposite, i.e., to give $2 Billion new credit to Bangladesh.

Finally, the number-2 man from NDA govt, then opposition leader of Rajya Sabha and the current finance minister Arun Jaitley:

Img_220 07-Jun-15

He even wrote an article explaining his / his party’s opposition to the bill but where is that article now? It is missing! Ofcourse!!  below is the link given in his tweet: 

Img_221 07-Jun-15

 

Funny things is, PM claims “history has been made” by signing this agreement. So, who is correct and who is wrong? Or was BJP just playing politics in our foreign policy before? what a Shame!

I am personally happy about resolving this land dispute with neighbor and maintaining peaceful and friendly relations with, not just Bangladesh but, all our neighbors. This piece is not against the agreement (in fact I welcome it) but to expose the hypocrisy of BJP and to show how 8/10 policies of UPA & NDA are exactly same. Only their rhetoric is different! I am sure UPA would have done exactly the same!

Hope, India will soon reach an era where government & opposition work together in addressing nation’s important priorities, both domestic & external, than doing such petty /vengeful politics!

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Using R-word(Retard): Political insult or utter insensitivity?

The word ‘AAPtard’, meaning ‘AAP+Retards’, coined by none other than great Su Swamy and his supporters, is supposed to mean that all AAP supporters are mentally retarded or worse, stupid. Swamy is not the one to think about being sensitive to any community or group, much less to special-needs children, so I didn’t expect him to know why this word is offensive. However, one can see the term being increasingly used by other BJP and Congress leaders and their supporters, so it becomes essential to point out to them why the use of the term ‘retard’ as insult is WRONG and insensitive to people with Autism and other intellectual disabilities and their families!

R-word.org, a campaign supported by Special Olympics and over 200 other organizations from around the world to fight against this prejudice, explains the reason :     “The word “retarded” derives from the term “mental retardation.” Years ago, that was a clinical diagnosis used to describe people with intellectual disability. But words evolve and change meaning, as words tend to do, and the words “retard” and “retarded” have evolved into insults. In 2010, Congress itself replaced “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” in federal health, education and labor laws with the term “intellectual disability.” The word “retarded” has morphed into a slur—why many people are shunning the word.”

It adds: “Why does it hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory.”

Simply put, R-Word is being used as a synonym for stupid. And loved ones of people with disabilities do not want them associated with the word ‘stupid.” For those who easily brush this off as nothing, have some heart: If a parent tells you that a word is painful, if people with intellectual disability say the word is hurtful, is it so hard to quit using the word?

Still don’t get it?  Read more here:  http://www.r-word.org/r-word-effects-of-the-word.aspx

There are many ways to hurt political opponents and BJP supporters & others will have plenty of oppurtunity to insult the opponents but shall we leave people with intellectual disability out of this game, please?

Finally, take a pledge today at R-Word.org to eliminate the demeaning: http://www.r-word.org/r-word-pledge.aspx

R-word1

Another great video on this topic:  “Would You Call My Child A Retard?

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Baba Ramdev to ‘Black Money’ Ramdev

We always know that recovering Black Money plank by BJP & its cronies like Baba Ramdev is just a show and nothing serious. But it is really something to see it with our own eyes.

DNA writes:  “Moments before BJP Alwar candidate Mahent Chandnath’s press conference could start, in front of a bunch of cameras and microphones, Chandnath mentioned to Baba Ramdev that “paise le aane mein badi dikat ho rahi hai”(Facing problems bringing money here) and almost immediately, Baba Ramdev shut him up saying, “yahan baat karna bandh karo, bhole ho kya? (Stop talking here; are you a fool?) “

Actually, what is missed here is that Chandnath clearly starts to say “can you help…”, so it is to be noted that BJP candidates themselves are approaching Ramdev to act as conduit to bring black money into the campaign.  Wah, Wah Ramdev!

 

 

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International media on Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s resignation!

Here is collection of some of the tweets by well known international journalists / media.

[tweet https://twitter.com/BBCBreaking/status/434342541404930048]
 

Ellen Barry –  

South Asia bureau chief for The New York Times

[tweet https://twitter.com/EllenBarryNYT/status/434340560975851520]

Robert MacMillan – 

Reuters India

[tweet https://twitter.com/bobbymacReports/status/434339334360420352]
 
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Open letter to Kiran Bedi

This piece was also published on IndiaOpines (Feb 2, 2014)
http://indiaopines.com/open-letter-kiran-bedi/

Mrs. Kiran Bedi ,

With hardly 3 months to go for Lok Sabha, there is no time for exchanging pleasantries.So, let me get right to the matter: it is your personal right to endorse Mr. Narendra Modi for prime minister candidate but you are absolutely wrong in justifying the same using the so-called logic of putting ‘nation first’.  By doing this, you have put a big question mark around your last three years of social life as an anti-corruption proponent, who advocated for strong anti-corruption law to hold all people in public life accountable. Let me be clear, you have a clean track record in your public service as police officer and am not questioning that. You have shown courage in standing up to the power centers of Delhi then and I only wish you had same courage now to stand up for right thing. You certainly have all right to endorse person of your choice but I, like many others, have a problem when you do as an anti-corruption activist who was part of the erstwhile social movement: ‘India Against Corruption’ and use that legacy to push the agenda of one particular party.

India Against Corruption was against Cong in power not BJP in Opposition.Hence how can one be with Pol-Party the Whole Movement was against?

— Kiran Bedi (@thekiranbedi) January 13, 2014

Firstly, it is utterly shocking when you implied that you always thought IAC stood for ‘India Against Congress’ and not overall corruption, that movement was only targeting the present ruling party and not against the equally corrupt opposition parties. I wonder how you missed the speeches and debates of many others fellow leaders of the movement, who were criticizing all political parties equally, their hand-in-glove relationship and their ‘you-scratch-my-back-and-I-will-scratch-yours’ attitude. Yes, there were several right-leaning supporters, masked as ‘gurus’ and businessmen, jumped on the bandwagon mistaking this anti-establishment movement as anti-congress movement and hoping to ride the wave to power but only to be pushed or nudged out eventually. However, I didn’t expect you to fall in that same bracket. Many normal citizens who joined it genuinely wanted to keep all the established parties – be it congress, BJP or left – at arm’s length and hold the feet of all the ruling class to fire but it is shocking to know that you were playing favorites all this while.

Bedi_backs_Modi2

You made this grand announcement with your tweet:

For me it’s India First! Stable,Well Governed, Administered, Accountable and Inclusive. As a an independent voter, my vote is for NaMo

— Kiran Bedi (@thekiranbedi) January 9, 2014

This statement has extremely contradictory points and let me break it down:

Accountable:  IAC movement’s prime objective was to fix the accountability of elected leaders by appointing independent and transparent Lokpal in the centre and Lokayuktha in the states and there by making all public officials, including prime minister and chief ministers, accountable to these institutions. We all know congress government rebuffed this idea but isn’t Gujarat chief minister Modi guilty of the same crime? Didn’t he block the appointment of Lokayukt in his state for last 7 years? What about the CAG indictment of Modi’s government for favoring industrialists, causing loss of Rs. 5, 000 crore to state exchequer? What made you, the ‘champion’ of accountability, endorse a public official who refuses to make oneself accountable to public?

Inclusive:  I really hope this is a typo and you meant to say something else because Mr. Modi may be known for many things but ‘inclusiveness’ is not his strong suit, to say the least. A basic tenet of inclusiveness is to ensure proper representation of all sections of society. Muslim community in Gujarat constitutes close to ten percent of total electorate but not even one token representation was given out of the 182 total candidate put up by the party in 2012 assembly elections. As a matter of fact, Modi hasn’t fielded one Muslim candidate for state assembly during his three time chief-ministership. So, please enlighten me: what ‘inclusiveness’ are we talking about here? At national level, minorities form little over 20% of total population. Are things going to be any different now or are we going to see all candidates from one community again?

You backed your endorsement tweet with more reasoning:  ”Any one of us who wants a scam free country cannot vote back Congress! India needs stability and experienced hands to provide for all!

It is true that successive congress governments should own major blame for pathetic and corrupt governance for decades but you know very well that oppositions have been no better. In states where opposition got a chance to rule, things weren’t any better. Gujarat model of development has been debated ad nauseam on whether infrastructure is more important than human development and also the serious charges of crony capitalism.  BJP government in Karnataka, only government it formed in South India, was mired in deep corruption scandals, amounting to hundred thousand crores of which mining scam being the prime example, got routed in recent elections. Yeddyurappa, the face of that government, quit the party temporarily only to back a stellar comeback. Top BJP leaders in Delhi patronized Reddy brothers who were behind the mining scam.  So, how is it that now we can expect a scam-free government from the same party?  Aren’t you selling us a phony dream of corruption-free & good governance by endorsing prime ministerial candidate of the same party?

There are several other things that can be pointed but you get my drift. Delhi’s Aam Aadmi wave has only one lesson for everyone – people are fed up with the overall system and not with a single party. They don’t want to simply change the names and faces of governance but to change the way governance happens in our country. We need overall reforms of our political system and not short-term solutions. We can’t vote out the ruling party and bring opposition to power, only to do the same 5 years later. It is not too late to change your mind and I appeal you to at the least make your support conditional to the BJP.  Please give your support only in return for some basic demands:

1. Ensure full implementation of Right to Information act and complete financial transparency in the party. All donations and spending are published and open to public scrutiny.

2. No tickets to tainted / criminal candidates in upcoming and future elections, neither for candidates from political dynasties. Maintain a transparent and clean candidate selection process.

3. Promise to provide independent Lokpal, investigative agencies like CBI, police and judicial reforms if elected to power.

I hope you consider this letter with open mind and review your position. Unfortunately, your blanket endorsement of one party makes the overall battle for systemic changes weaker. Most importantly, you are certainly not putting the ‘nation first’, rather your eagerness to see particular party lose and make another win is harming us. Be assured, our nation is not going to win irrespective of who wins the election unless we make the system stronger there by whoever governs will be accountable to people and will have to provide good governance.

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Technology, the savior for smaller political parties

This piece was also published on Times of India (Nov 11, 2013)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/nri/contributors/contributions/somu-kumar/Technology-the-savior-for-smaller-political-parties/articleshow/25594455.cms

Elections have always been an extravagant event where money flows like water in both urban and rural India; more so in recent decades, where a large number of wealthy people are joining politics, either to multiply or save their existing wealth. The amount being spent, be it elections for municipal corporation, assembly or parliament, is becoming mind-numbingly huge. Some news reports predicted that as much as rupees 10 crore were spent in one Bangalore constituency in recent Karnataka assembly elections. The annual local area development fund provided to an elected MLA is only Rs1 crore per year (recently doubled to Rs 2 crore by thenew government), that is a total of Rs 5 crore during their entire 5-year term. Why someone is willing to spend Rs 10 crore to get elected to a position where the maximum power (money) at one’s disposal is only Rs 5 crore is anyone’s guess.

Money power is the prime reason why newer/smaller parties are not able to effectively fight the grand old parties during elections. Muscle power comes to those with more money and thus the two bad wolves in the electoral politics ensure the power equation always favors the big guns. The small parties get buried in the money thrown by the other campaigns including television and newspapers advertisements, apart from prominent advertisement space in the streets.

The only choice the smaller parties have is to think of new campaign methods and get creative with the little money they have in hand. As they say, necessity is the mother of all inventions and technology is proving to be that invention for politics. With the ever increasing use of internet in urban cities combined with the high popularity of social media sites and comfort in online fund transactions, they can run effective campaigns and give the bigger parties a run for their money.

Recent campaign of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi is an example of this. The national capital has primarily been a two-party contest, Congress and BJP, with others mostly ending up a distant third. It is a major surprise that it is now a three-way contest and most recently, a new survey poll has put AAP in the second place in the race, just ahead of congress in vote share and closely behind the BJP. A year ago, no one would have believed even a hypothetical situation like this would be possible. I would attribute this to the emergence of technology as a major political player in a largely urban state like Delhi.

AAP, just a year old baby, is fighting toe-to-toe with two behemoths, Congress and BJP, who have a few thousand crores worth of bank balance and a national network of supporters, including many deep pockets. It is only due to AAP’s vibrant volunteer community, mostly distributed around the world, and their shrewd use of technology that they have become a contender in this race.

Here is a look at some of their innovative online campaigns:

Social media: With not much money to invest in traditional advertising, social media became the primary way for AAP to connect and communicate with supporters. Despite the fact that Congress and BJP have invested huge amount of money in propping up their presence in social media sites and to recruit new supporters, AAP grew its presence organically with a motley of enthusiastic team of volunteers. With no tech gurus to lead, social media team of AAP slowly put their pieces together and grew their presence in Facebook and Twitter and was able to connect with global supporters extensively in a short span. This proved to be very useful later as one-third of their donations came from global supporters and more than two-thirds are online donations. The AAP social media team went a step further by integrating various platforms by creating new Facebook/ Android apps and using popular ones to get donations, connect to YouTube channels, mobile apps to follow AAP news, donate etc. Most importantly an app was published to get suggestions from Delhi residents to create party manifestos. Getting suggestions for manifestos in social media is certainly path-breaking, though limited to urban constituencies only. Also, the Twitter team was able to successfully trend various topics related to AAP such as “#Vote4AAP”, “#AAPSweepingDelhi” to keep the buzz around AAP.

Crowdsourcedfunding model

Turning the supporters into fundraisers is indeed a great way to reach out to new donors / donation source. AAP’s ‘My Ripple’ campaign encouraged all volunteers and supporters to enroll and create their own unique fundraising link through which they can appeal to their friends to donate and can track who responded to their appeals. With 600 plus supporters signing up for this campaign, AAP was able to raise over Rs25 lakh through this crowdsourced funding model so far and is going strong.

Money bomb

Wikipedia explains this as “a concept to support a candidate for election by dramatically increasing, concentrating, and publicizing fundraising activity during a specific hour or day”. The term was first applied to a supporter-led fundraiser on behalf of US presidential candidate Ron Paul, in which context the Mercury News described a ‘moneybomb’ as being “a one-day fundraising frenzy”. AAP used this model to channelize the collective enthusiasm or anger of their volunteers into contributing to the party. When their favorite fiery leader SantoshKoli, now no more, was recovering in the hospital after a freakish hit-and-run accident, the team decided to run “I am Santosh” day where all volunteers donated to cover the total campaign cost for her constituency as a show of support to her. The target set was at Rs14 lakh but the donation team was able to raise as much as Rs35 lakh in one day. AAP repeated the same model a few other times, with varying degree of success. This works well only for those with extremely passionate set of supporters who respond quickly to a call for action.

E=MC3 – Citizen Calling Campaign

One of the strengths of AAP is their large global volunteer pool. A campaign was designed: ‘Citizen Calling Campaign’ to tap into their support fully. While some NRIs left their job or took a break to campaign in Delhi, the realization that many others may not be able to do so but would still like to contribute, lead to this campaign, touted as ‘Tele door-to-door’ campaign. In this, volunteers from around the world would call citizens in Delhi and ask for their vote to AAP. The website describes E=MC3 as E= Energy for AAP, M = Mission and C3 = ‘Citizen Calling Campaign’. It is a slick campaign where a volunteer signs-up to start making calls to Delhi, the website flashes one phone number at a time from the AAP’s database and the caller completes the call and enters the feedback. There is a team which analyzes the feedback and also checks the quality. Yes, it is similar to call-center operation but only geographically reversed. India is a hub of call-centers for Western companies whereas AAP volunteers have turned it the other way around for Delhi elections. To many Delhi residents, a techie from UK, US or Singapore calling them to vote in Delhi elections is a surprise and an amusement of sorts.

Many of AAP’s campaign ideas were borrowed from successful models around the world while some are new innovations. These are open for any parties to take it up; however, it is the enthusiastic implementation of these ideas that sets AAP apart. Otherwise, this largely volunteer-run technology team cannot be running alongside big giants with deep pockets and sometimes even out-running them.

Many political pundits have called AAP’s political campaign and their bid to dethrone big parties in Delhi as a great experiment in democracy. Their use of technology and online applications is no less. It bodes well for smaller parties in other states and gives them a successful working model to follow. However, this won’t bode well for those parties which solely depend on money and muscle power to carry the day for them.

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