Monday, June 23, 2008

Saibel on my Takhatpur Visit

Note: Dr. Saibel Farishta recently accompanied me to the final match of the district-level floodlight cricket tournament held at Takhatpur, a quaint little township some twenty kilometers from Bilaspur. He has put his observations on his blog, which I am reproducing here:

On 15th June 2008 - I had accompanied Mr Amit Jogi and Mr Shailesh Nitin Trivedi on a political visit to Takhatpur in Bilaspur district, where Mr Amit Jogi was invited as the Chief Guest in the closing ceremony of an annual Cricket Tounament Function. I was stunned to see the mind-blowing enthusiasm among the young Congress party supporters of Takhatpur. The customary felicitation ceremony was held on a cricket ground in the central part of the town, as the local Govt. authorities had refused the organizers another School Ground, where Dr Raman Singh was supposed to deliver speech during his 'Vikas/Vinash Yatra'.

On several occasions, Mr Amit Jogi's entourage was cheered and welcomed by a huge number of young Congress workers. A lot of people from the minority communities, esp. Muslims & Sikhs, were also seen welcoming Mr Amit Jogi.

Mr Amit Jogi, Mr Dharamjeet Singh and others briefly spoke to the audience. Amitji emphasized on the power of youth in today's politics and how Mr Rahul Gandhi was spearheading a campaign, to join & re-unite the country's youth in Congress Party. Amitji also disclosed that another budding & upcoming youth organisation - 'Aam Aadmi Ke Sipahi' had been formed by Rahul Gandhi, to connect with the common man's problems.

The Congress supporters thronged Mr Amit Jogi's car from all directions and the vehicle's doors were dented from outside.

There was an amazing atmosphere of 'Genuine Respect & Good will' for the Jogi family, as a whole. In between all of this - loud noise of a musical band, chanting of slogans, bursting of crackers, garlands and Congress flags - I was moved, when my eyes fell on some rurals, who just stood at a distance, far from the maddening crowd, with their hands joined, welcoming & staring at Mr Amit Jogi. Their eyes glittered with a ray of Hope for them & The Poor Man's Party - Congress.

I immediately sensed the Mood Of Chhattisgarh - CONGRESS will WIN in Chhattisgarh.
Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Post Script: Why Criticism has become Necessary?

I had taken the liberty of simultaneously putting the last post on cg-net, a Yahoo-based group that focuses on Chhattisgarh. In response to that posting, a member, Ajai Kumar Singh, posed the following question (in a separate thread):

"A question to all? Are we use this group to campaigning party politics. One should put the solutions or Ideas, not only criticising each other."

As it turns out, Mr. Singh's query has evoked a rather fascinating discussion- with a flurry of (I am happy to note, mostly) for & against responses. For instance, I am in total agreement with what Mr. OP Goel said:

"We must allow everyone to express themselves in whatever manner they want[other than being nasty and personal]. A tolerant society is the hallmark of a vibrant democracy.

We started with the objective of development of CG. Can we take a step forward to this goal? As they say in China, a journey of 1000 miles has to begin with the first step."

Ms. Rajshree Jyoti was even more precise: "Dear Friends," she wrote,

"I don't see any objection in this. We all know Amit Jogi is a son of Ajit Jogi ji and his political association. This is good for us to know his thought about policies and what they think in this regard. One more thing I want to share that earlier I have a negative image in my mind about Amit but after reading his thoughts on various issues I have changed my mind about him and this (has) happen(ed) through cg net. What's wrong in it?"

What do I think about all this? Well, apart from the fact that this Blog- and cg net- give me a space for voicing my side of the story that the mainstream does- and can- not, it may be little more than a coincidence but the first actual responses to the Vikas Yatra came shortly after the publication of that post. A group of tribals in Korba reminded Dr. Raman Singh of his long-forgotten ‘sankalp’ to give them jersey cows; they did so by waving Gervas, or jute-ropes that they might otherwise have used to harness Dr. Singh’s non-existent cows, and copies of the BJP’s Sankalp Patr as he rode past in his 'Vikas Rath'. In response, they were mercilessly lathi-charged.

In Pusaur, the rural hinterland of Raigarh city that I toured yesterday, over 5000 tribals are threatening to tie the HCM in one and take him home instead of the absentee-cows they haven't got even if they can’t really milk him (!). They also pointed out that neither Dr. Singh nor his supposedly 'Hindu' party have the slightest respect for the precepts of that religion: first, they defiled the name of Lord Ram by reneging on a sacred vow taken in his name (kasam ram ki khaate hain, mandir wahin banayenge); and now, they have done the same to the holy-of-holies, the Gau Mata (Mother Cow).

On the 14th of this month, a massive rally of mostly unemployed youth in Bilaspur chipped in Rs. 500 in coins and small change to remind Dr. Singh of his promise to give them that amount as monthly stipend. Many of them have since begun to be threatened with dire consequences by a local minister.

In Raigarh, a mock Chhal Rath (Betrayal Chariot) Yatra was taken out- in which a Dr. Raman Singh lookalike spoke about the promises he cunningly made to dupe the simple people of Chhattisgarh, and other issues of corruption and total breakdown of law & order.

A lot of this has already been covered by the local media, and people everywhere are finally begin to ask a question not many cared to ask before: can we trust this man- and his party?

It seems to me that once you begin to criticize (which to me is no different an act from speaking the truth), then people are quite capable of coming up with their own suggestions- and even more significantly, reactions. The two acts- criticizing and suggesting- aren’t all that different.

Perhaps, this is what Hegel- and Marx after him- had in mind when they coined the triple-phrase ‘thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis’. And more often than not, synthesis is coda for action.

AJ Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chhattisgarh 2008 (2): A Kingdom of Lies

There is an old adage that goes something like this: you can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but not all of the people all of the time. This adage, however, doesn’t seem to apply to Dr. Raman Singh, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh.

The clearest example of this is his much-publicized, government-sponsored Vikas Yatra: frankly, it is beyond me how he can go to the people, riding gallantly atop a customized state-of-the-art air-conditioned Rath, when he has betrayed them by not fulfilling one word of his party’s Sankalp Patr? Either he is totally and absolutely shameless or worse, he thinks that Chhattisgarhiyas, by nature, are fools. Anybody in his shoes should have hid his face in shame. Instead, he has decided to spend tens of crores of the state’s- and the people’s- money in telling Lies a hundred times in the hope that they would somehow become the truth.

This is perhaps for the first time that the state machinery- and funds- have been so brazenly used for what is a purely political campaign. To me, this is not only evidence of Dr. Singh's excessive reliance on the bureaucracy- his partner-in-crime, so to speak- to see his party reelected; but more significantly, it shows the BJP’s inability to undertake a full-fledged political campaign on its own. Personally, I doubt if Dr. Singh can draw a crowd in the excess of 1000 on his own, and without active state assistance. What’s more, the enactment of the Vikas Yatra clearly shows that he shares this doubt.

The state’s mainstream media, it seems, too suffer from what can charitably be called collective amnesia: rather than sing paens to the chief minister (Vikas Purush, my foot!), it is their duty to remind those in power of the promises they’d made before coming to power- and happily forgotten since. Did not, for instance, Dr. Singh promise among other things, a jersey cow to every tribal family; Rs. 500 monthly unemployment stipend to every youth; and waiver of farmers’ debts, irrigation tax and electricity bills?

It is these tall promises that brought him to power in the first place. In four years, he has done absolutely nothing to fulfill them. This, in my opinion, constitutes a Historic Betrayal of the People of Chhattisgarh- and especially the tribals, the dalits, the youth and the poor, the ones to whom these promises were specifically made. Unfortunately, these people are, because of their peculiar conditions, unable to give voice to their resentment, their anguish, and under these circumstances, the media and the opposition should have emerged as their spokesperson. In the past four years, neither has managed to do so.

Dr. Singh’s Great- and possibly only- Hope is the success of his Rs. 3 per kilo rice scheme, which he launched in obvious desperation less than a year before elections. (His other Hope, i.e., absence of a united opposition has, especially in light of recent decisions made by the Congress High Command, turned out to be a myth.) If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t be quite as confident.

I’ve toured the state extensively. Chhattisgarhiyas, by nature, are rice eaters. Dr. Singh’s measly quota of 35 kilos per month wouldn’t last a family of four, even a BPL (below poverty line) family, a week. More than anything else, this shows just how little Dr. Singh- and the chaps in khaki shorts who’re plotting his comeback strategy- understand us. Moreover, at least 40% of those having BPL cards had their names struck off during the 2004 statewide revision of BPL lists. In villages like Laata (which is very near our ancestral village of Jogisaar), there are only 5 BPL-card holders among the 400 odd families who live there (!) In Basantpur, for instance, 14 persons who’ve been issued BPL cards haven’t got an ounce of rice to date. The rice that is distributed under this scheme is undoubtedly substandard, and the packets inevitably weigh less than 35 kilos. It would infact not be farfetched to assume that at least 30% of the rice finds it way to the black market. Not surprisingly then, most BPL families are forced to buy their remaining rice requirement from the black market, where the rates have increased threefold to as high as Rs. 18 a kilo ever since this scheme started, thanks to the hoarding & blackmarketeering it has given rise to. In the ultimate analysis, it appears that as with most of Dr. Singh’s schemes, this one too is intended not for the benefit of the poor but to fill the already overstuffed pockets of his corrupt sponsors.

Curiously, Dr. Singh’s propaganda-managers, such as they are, proclaim a “Fear-free administration” (bhay mukt sarkar) as yet another of his strong points. They would certainly have a tough time convincing the over 80000 tribals of South Bastar, who Dr. Singh’s SPOs forcefully uprooted from their homes before packing them like cattle into inhuman makeshift concentration camps and thousands others who are molested, raped and killed outright; the hundreds of city women and girls who no longer feel safe to venture out of their homes; the three dalit women who’re raped every day (according to the Government’s own figures); the shopkeepers and businessmen who have to pay protection money to local goondas (not to mention the minister’s brother, and the local thanedaar); the hundreds of farmers who’ve been forced to commit suicide; the dalit boys who are beaten to death in police custody; the mother who had her infant-child stolen from the capital, Raipur’s biggest government hospital; the residents of Dantewada and Jashpur on the night of the jailbreaks…The list is endless. Indeed, it would not be farfetched to say that in the last four years, Chhattisgarh has turned into the most dangerous state in the country, especially if you’re a tribal, a dalit or a woman. The only persons who are truly fearless are the profiteers, the bureaucrats and the criminals- who rightly believe that they can get away with anything.

Dr. Singh’s other advantage is money: he hopes to overwhelm our entire campaign with funds, as he tried to do in Kota. But as Kota showed, money- even ten times as much- just isn’t enough when it comes to winning elections. What he needs instead is People’s Confidence and Trust, and these, unfortunately (for him anyway) cannot be bought.


There is a rather interesting post-script to this post. To read it, go here.
Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

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CONTACT ME. मुझसे संपर्क करें

Amit Aishwarya Jogi
Anugrah, Civil Lines
Raipur- 492001
Chhattisgarh, INDIA
Telephone/ Fascimile: +91 771 4068703
Mobile: +91 942420 2648 (AMIT)
Skype: jogi.amit
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