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Author: Dwaipayan Bose

DNA Edit- Rahul Gandhi’s elevation: A myth called ‘inner party democracy’ in India

“Inner party democracy” was in full display as the Congress vice-president for five years, Rahul Gandhi, filed his nomination papers for the post of party president on Monday. He was the only candidate to do so as the last minute of the last day for filing nominations passed. Truly democratic, was it not?Is it that no one else in the Grand Old Party had the desire to lead from the front? If today, speaking purely in the realm of theory, the Nehru-Gandhi family had decided to keep away from the party president’s post, I can bet my hat that an EVM would have been required just to count the number of nominations filed for the said post. Why just point at the Congress? “Inner party democracy” is a myth perpetuated by the entire Indian political system. Political parties in the country have been successful in melding “handpicked” and “elected.” Despite all its claims of being a truly democratic party, the BJP is led by one who was elected unopposed. No doubt he proved to be greatly effective, but that doesn’t take away the “selection” aspect from his election.Look at Trinamool Congress. The organisational election of the party was held in April this year in which Mamata Banerjee was unanimously elected the chairperson. TMC was formed in 1998 and ‘Didi’ has been “elected” as its boss in 2001, 2006 and 2011. The next election will be held after half a decade… feel free to place a wager on the outcome. In Uttar Pradesh, both the SP and the BSP are as far from inner party democracy as any of the parties mentioned above. While the former has been swinging between a jostling father and son, the latter is firmly in the pocket of Mayawati, irrespective of whether she wins or loses elections. In Tamil Nadu, M Karunanidhi is to DMK what Xerox is to photocopying. He was elected unopposed to the post of party president for the eleventh time in a row in January 2015.Also readRahul Gandhi will not be announced Congress president today. Here’s when is the D-DayFrom the Badals of Shiromani Akali Dal to the Abdullahs of National Conference to the Raos of Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the story is boringly repetitive, but genuinely worrying. Here’s the crux of the matter: A political system that strives on dynasty, operates like a monarchy and throttles aspirations is ruling over a Constitutional democracy. In India, a Land of Contradictions, this surely takes the proverbial cake.This is not to cast aspersion on the individuals who are currently at the helm of their respective parties. Most probably they would have come out as winners even if fair and broad-based contests were held within their parties. On Monday, Rahul Gandhi had the opportunity to shake up Indian polity – by entering into a contest. Instead, he chose to play a ‘fixed’ match, entrenching the above narrative.Also read’Promotion without performance’: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi ‘congratulates’ Rahul Gandhi(The author is Editor-in-Chief of DNA)
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A ‘Resurgent Rahul’, but will he last?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The biggest untold story of recent times is: Who or what is behind the resurgence (some calling it resurrection) of Mr Rahul Gandhi? From a foreign entity lurking in the Western Hemisphere to an unnamed genius working from a Lutyens’ bungalow to that distant laboratory which had injected an alloy into Logan to turn him into Wolverine — all possibilities are being considered, all angles being probed. In the midst of this worldwide hunt, the only person being largely ignored is the subject himself: Rahul Gandhi.So, what has changed in Rahul Gandhi? A more confident body language, well-written speeches with better delivery, sharper political timing and greater connect with the people. But is that all? No. What has actually changed for the Congress scion is that he is no longer the scion, he is now the Congress — pushed to the wall with no way out but forward. Years of being roasted, lampooned, ridiculed and criticised have helped add that right amount of thickness to his skin so essential for an Indian politician.There has also been another change with which Rahul doesn’t have much to do. It has to do with us. We have started looking at him differently, actually listening to what he has to say, separating him from his crushing legacy and lineage. He is being seen as an individual for the first time in his life – and that is a change far greater than his so-called “image makeover”.Public sentiments are short-lived. So, the window is narrow (in Rahul’s case, it is also the only one in the room). If he does not seize this opportunity to become his own politician, he will disappear like a hashtag that didn’t trend.However, Rahul Gandhi has an example to learn from – an individual who underwent the worst form of political trial-by-fire. It was lonely, more painful, with no shelter or sanctuary available… even among his own. Hence, his transformation or evolution was far greater. That gentleman is Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India.From his biggest rival, Rahul should learn how to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of derogation. And more importantly, how to keep flying…(The author is editor-in-chief of DNA)

What to do on Diwali evening? No cracker of an idea

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>How do you explain to a kid that she/he won’t be able to get even a sparkler this Diwali while the cousin living outside the ‘sanitised’ area of NCR can burst crackers to heart’s content?As a parent, you would have justified in your mind the Supreme Court’s ruling banning the sale of firecrackers in NCR by conjuring up images of a smoke-enveloped Delhi, people wearing face-masks, an old man breaking into asthmatic coughs. But tell that to a child who till last year was firing rockets into the sky aiming at Mars (with the firm belief that at least a couple would reach), and she/he will stare at you, bewildered. “Is Diwali cancelled?” would be the obvious question.No, Diwali has not been “cancelled,” but it has been told to shut up. The ground for that is not solid – it’s actually air. Delhi virtually choked last year under the twin forces of crop-stubble burning in neighbouring states and the normal celebration of Diwali. Hence, the legal ban on the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region. One respects the honourable court’s decision for its vision and toughness, but one also asks – what will we do then on Diwali night?Lights up, diyas arranged, decorations done, new clothes adorned, mithai consumed, gifts exchanged, plastic smiles smiled – all done by 7 pm. Now what? You can’t possibly repeat the cycle, so what do you do? Single malt? Yes, perhaps… considering its repeat value. But what’ll the all-dressed-up-but-nothing-to-burst seven-year-old do? The ubiquitous iPad comes out from somewhere, a bean bag emerges, a fizzy cold drink is popped open, and hey… ‘Happy Diwali’ is over.This could have been Happy Anyday.Couldn’t at least Diwali day been spared from the ban on the sale of firecrackers? A few hours in the evening designated for a bit of mindless fun? I am sure these were debated by the honourable judges, but then we, the people of NCR, are notorious for not following strictures and timelines. Who’ll go and stop the family living in house no. XX in Geeta Colony from bursting ‘chocolate bombs’ at 11 pm? A potent argument, considering that we revel in disobedience.There have been repeated strictures on fireworks during Diwali – from courts, from law-enforcement agencies and from Mother Nature herself. But we flouted them again and again. This time the doctor (read court) has decided to opt for surgery. Therefore, we are in no position to complain – we have brought it upon ourselves.Now go and tell that to the kids…(The author is Editor-in-Chief of DNA and father of a 7-year-old boy)

Let’s remember this day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Perhaps only if one is a Muslim woman not exactly on the best of terms with her husband — feeling the constant cold threat of getting ejected from his life and ‘surgically’ removed from her children post the mere utterance of ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’ — can one truly understand how far-reaching the Supreme Court’s judgement is and how deeply supportive the stand of the Modi government has been.Ironically, a government that has been called ‘non-secular’ and ‘anti-Muslim’ has been the one to push hard for the true emancipation of Muslim women in this country. In April, PM Modi had said, “Our Muslim sisters deserve justice… We can’t simply move forward at a slow pace, but charge ahead with full speed.” The Ministry of Law and Justice, in an affidavit, had referred to principles like gender equality, secularism, international covenants, religious practices and marital law prevalent in various Islamic countries to advocate that the practice of triple talaq needed to be adjudicated upon afresh by the apex court.On Tuesday, the Supreme Court did that, and more. It bid ‘talaq’ to instant triple talaq in a 3-2 judgement that will go down in Indian judicial history as a milestone that removed the heaviest millstone from around the necks of millions of Muslim women in this country. The job of crushing that millstone for good now rests in the hands of the political establishment.DNA urges it to rise to the occasion, reach beyond the politics of appeasement, and bring about real change in the lives of real people.

DNA Edit: EC must throw the rulebook at Arvind Kejriwal’s EVM rantings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Every dictator is paranoid, and every wannabe dictator sees ghosts. Arvind Kejriwal, who falls in the latter category, sees cloaked (saffron-coloured mostly) crooked figures tampering with EVMs and transferring every vote that came to him to the BJP column. While hallucinations of a person can be forgiven and even sympathised with, the trouble starts when these are turned into allegations questioning the sanctity of a democratic process.By doing so, the Aam Aadmi Party is actually pointing an accusing finger at the ‘aam aadmi’ himself – questioning not just the individual’s democratic right to vote but also the choice he made. That makes Kejriwal a non-believer in democracy – a direct translation for ‘dictator’.The other ‘accused’ in this bizarre blame-game is the Election Commission (EC). An EVM is the EC’s property and prerogative, just as democracy is people’s property and prerogative. While the latter has done her/his bit on Wednesday, it is now imperative that the Commission throws the rulebook at Kejriwal. A ‘Come-Hack-Our-EVM’ challenge, thrown open by the EC for the month of May, sounds good as a game show, but is too weak-kneed coming from an autonomous constitutional authority.Behind closed doors, the AAP is in disarray. Faith in its ‘supreme leader’ is shaken, there is no ideology to hold on to, the cause has long been lost and the lease term for their backyard Delhi is ending. Kejriwal, well aware of this churn within the flock, came out with a single narrative to explain all his present and (possible) future electoral failures — questioning EVMs.However, you can’t hide a thing when facing a TV camera. Richard Nixon’s sweat in the first televised US presidential debate cost him the presidency (people then said he could’ve defeated John F Kennedy only if it was on radio). Every AAP spokesperson coming on camera and blaming EVMs now resembles Nixon. Their faces betray one singular emotion – a sense of incredulity about what they have been told to parrot.Going by past precedents, the next course of action for Kejriwal will be dharnas, agitations, roadblocks and possibly EVM-effigy burning. He has made the machine his target today. Tomorrow, he will question the finger that presses the button.(The writer is the Editor-in-Chief of DNA)

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