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August 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.  Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       August 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.   Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       
Issue:August' 2017


Over to Ram Kovind, and Venkaiah

Malladi Rama Rao

Ram Nath Kovind with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah Moditva may not have achieved Congress Mukt Bharat it has set out to achieve in 2014 but has proved with the election of Ram Nath Kovind as President and the certain elevation of Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu as Vice President how fragile the Opposition Unity is and how the once dominant Congress as also the garrulous Trinamool Congress have lost the hold over their faithful.

M. Venkaiah Naidu's nomination was decided at the BJP parliamentary board meeting in Delhi, attended by Narendra Modi and other senior party leaders. The call for conscience vote in 2017 did not pay dividends to Sonia Gandhi in the way it did for her mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi, in 1969. In fact, it boomeranged on the GOP. And the strategy to split the Electoral College by fielding Meira Kumar, has failed miserably, putting in the process question marks over Babu Jagjivan Ram's legacy. All this has prompted social scientists and political pundits of some hues to see a new BJP system emerge from the debris of the Congress system. Well, the BJP's vote share has increased to 25.5% in state elections and 31% for the Lok Sabha over the past three years. Its MLAs strength stands at 1,351, an increase of 462 with UP contributing a major chunk.

Yet it is premature for the BJP to go into a celebration mode. Nor is there a reason for the saffron party to bask in the glory of Kovind gifting a Dalit vote card and Venkaiah Naidu providing a farmer vote card. The credentials of Kovind, who is a lateral entrant to BJP, are impeccable. So are the farmer credentials of Naidu, who considers the BJP as his mother. There is nothing wrong per se in BJP appearing to corner the two cards. Dalit politics and farmers' owes have come centre-stage with a big bang because of Rohit Vemula suicide and unremunerative farm prices that are pushing farmers to death. What Dalits want and the farmers demand is their empowerment – not homilies nor lollypops like in the past when a Jigjivan Ram could straddle the political space with no challenge. That is why recent months and weeks have seen the glitter and shine fade away from Mayawatithe undisputed heiress to BSP founder, Kanshiram. As Pakistani commentator, Aijaz Zaka Syed, says, "the fact that Dalit leaders like Mayawati and Ram Vilas Paswan have been

It can be said with no fear of contradiction that Kovind's tenure of Rashtrapati Bhavan will see his native Paraunkh become the most pampered village. It may soon emerge as the ideal and most talked village in the country. Ditto will be the case with Chavatapalem, the Andhra hamlet that is proud of its son of the soil presiding over the House of Elders in Lyuten's Delhi.

Mayawati and Ram Vilas Paswan concerned about their own growth and have exponentially multiplied their assets over the past few years" has created "a disturbing state of affairs" in India. The Bihar assembly election and the UP election have demonstrated that there is no longer any monolith vote bank amongst the OBCs or the Dalits. Farmers' agitation in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra has shown the limitations of the BJP's outreach and the flip-side of Moditva. This has prompted Mamata Bannerjee, the Bengal tigress, fighting with her back to the wall on her home turf, to dream of BJP – mukt Bharat.Hers is Alnaskar's dreams, at least as of now, more so after Kovind's election has demonstrated the need for the non-BJP parties to reinvent their wheel of fortune with a clear vision.
Going by his "Thank You" speech after the result of the 14th Presidential election was declared, Ram Kovind is conscious of the enormity of Dalit problem. He was born in a mud hut to a landless Kori (a Dalit weaving community) in an impoverished Kanpur village; he experienced the deprivations and frustrations that are reserved for the untouchable in this country, which even after seventy years of its existence as a Republic is still to shake off its feudal moorings, and cussed caste panchayats.
"We lived in a 'kuchha' house made of mud," the President-elect recalled in his maiden speech to the nation, and spoke of his childhood experiences. "The thatched roof couldn't stop the water trickles during the rainy season. I, along with my brothers and sisters, used to stand in a corner and wait for the rain to stop.There would be many such Ram Nath Kovinds who are getting drenched in the rain.
Many would be working hard in farms and elsewhere to earn their livelihood in this rain. They would be shedding sweat to earn the night's meal.Today, I wish to tell them that Ram Nath Kovind of Paraunkh village is going to Rashtrapati Bhavan as their representative,"he said in a matter of fact tone and pledged "to serve the nation in the spirit of 'Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah' (May all be happy)."
It can be said with no fear of contradiction that Kovind's tenure of Rashtrapati Bhavan will see his native Paraunkh become the most pampered village. It may soon emerge as the ideal and most talked village in the country. Ditto will be the case with Chavatapalem, the Andhra hamlet that is proud of its son of the soil presiding over the House of Elders in Lyuten's Delhi.
Frankly this is no big deal. What is indeed going to be a big deal is the government putting an end to lip service to Dalit uplift and translating its electoral promises into a better deal for farmers and for the poor and the deprived. Time has come for political parties – ruling and the opposition alike, to realise that symbolisms have outlived their shelf life. Shedding tears at public platforms over the plight of the neglected and underprivileged is neither here nor there. So is the talk of grandiose schemes that have no resonance in villages as we have seen over the past seven decades.
The election of a Dalit's son as President and a farmer's son as Vice President underscores the greatness of India where only dynasties mattered once for progress on the social and political ladder. Kovind and Naidu are today the symbols of a nation at the cusp between exhaustion and exhilaration.
Change for 'Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah'is the call of the day. Kovind and Naidu, lawyers by training, and people's leaders by vocation, have the opportunity to facilitate the change people are yearning for, notwithstanding the constitutional limitations of the posts of high esteem they hold. Personally, and collectivelywith a "Yes, We can do spirit"! To leave an imprint on history!

No tension, only attention

Jagannath Rao Joshi and Bal Apte There is going to be no dull moment in the Rajya Sabha after August 5. The day marks the return of a political person as chairman of the House of Elders after a decade in what is essentially a one-sided election. And that person is jovial by nature, has a great sense of humour and an abiding passion for word play and alliterations – the qualities that have made him diffuse tensions even when he was at his combative best.
A two-time Union minister, four-time Rajya Sabha member, and two –time BJP president, Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu enjoys cordial relations across the political spectrum notwithstanding his love to display his RSS roots on his sleeves.Traditional in attire, and modern in outlook, he came up in the BJP the hard way. He still remembers the day he had gone around in Nellore, his home turf, in a horse-cart announcing the arrival of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to address a local Jan Sangh rally.

L K Advani Naidu's oratory skills as a student leader and as a campaigner for separate Andhra state in 1972 attracted the attention of the party leadership at 11 Ashok Road. Initially Jagannath Rao Joshi and Bal Apte groomed him and later on L K Advani became his mentor. Naidu sided with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2002 and helped to ward off the threat of his dismissal. Eleven years later, he again batted for Modi as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate even as the likes of Advani were opposed.

Chandrababu Naidu This ability of Naidu to champion what appears as unpopular cause was what had rescued N T Rama Rao in S e p t e m b e r 1984, when G o v e r n o r Ramlal sacked him as chief minister of A n d h r a Pradesh on Delhi's diktats. The monthlong struggle he mounted for restoration

N T Rama Rao of democracy with able support from the likes of Jaipal Reddy, P Upendra and Chandrababu Naidu had created an Arab Spring of sorts; it was an unprecedented wave of popular wrath against the reining deity of the day.

Jaipal Reddy Today, as U s h a p a t i ( V e n k a i a h N a i d u married Usha in 1971) becomes Upa-Rashtrapati (Vice President), Chandrababu Naidu has every reason to worry about the future of BJP-TDP alliance,the two had scripted in 2014, especially in the face of aggressive moves by YSR Congress leadership to move closer to the saffron camp.