Issue :   
January 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         January 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Jan' 2018


It's time to tell the truth!

Humra Quraishi

2018 will see those build-ups to the 2019 general elections and that in itself will add to the murky political mahaul . New books could get launched, furthering or else denting the political parties and the bunch of men manning them. Though not too sure whether the masses of this country have the required inclination or sufficient energy levels to go through volumes on the supposed who's who, but then the word spreads around…gets splashed in big or small newspapers. Looking back, each time I have travelled through the rural and urban belts of North India, I read details to the political characters together with the political scenario lying well- tucked in the local publications. Many a time a village elder would be seen reading aloud from a Urdu or Hindi daily, to the dozens of enthusiasts gathered around and then the subsequent discussions could take off along the expected political offshoots.

Surprisingly or not really, even in the far -flung locales of the Kashmir Valley what holds sway are the local Urdu 'akhbaars' laced with the latest political inputs.
Each time I covered elections in the State of J&K, what had left me pleasantly surprised was the average Kashmiri's general awareness of the political build-ups not just in his to her region but all across this sub- continent.
Political awareness is to be seen as never before even in the rural stretches of Uttar Pradesh. And it would be naïve not to bypass the consequences. Battle grounds are prepared for the coming elections and with that every effort in place to reach out in every possible way to the electorate. The politician is desperate. Ambitions are riding high …so high that murders of psyches if not of forms are taking place every single day.
This brings me to write that the political poisoning unleashed from the various quarters is leaving its imprints on a whole generation in the making. Though I do not wish to drag along the personal, I must write that during my one lone visit to Gujarat, the third-class communal utterings of the young taxi driver-driving me from the Ahmedabad airport to the venue where I had to address a gathering-left me feeling devastated. The young driver was not to be blamed for his views; over -fed he was on an antiminorities propaganda.

How I wish our writers come up with new books in the coming months to beat the heap of myths and misconceptions which are let loose, hell bent on wrecking whatever remains of us… After all, a writer's prime role is to connect and communicate the realities, so that our intactness remains. And though around elections, political biographies or auto- biographies hog the limelight, the need of the hour is that the masses of this country manage to grasp some of those basic facts which the politician twists and turns to suit his vested interests. There ought to come up series of volumes laced with facts to the majority and minority communities vis - a – vis their population growth , economic status, educational facilities, social development, living patterns, offshoots to rioting, internal displacements and more along the strain. In the usual course, this task should have been undertaken by the Human Resource Development Ministry but in the prevailing political climate it is prudent if an independent writer or a team of writers takes up this task of bringing to the fore the exactness to the very basics.
It's scary to see what might unfold in the coming months. With an overdose of the political, there is little focus on the dying us; hit that we are by the political and environmental pollution, killing us so very steadily that if it's not halted in the coming months, we could be sitting semi – choked. What, with an overdose of speeches heaped on us from here and there. The onslaught of those hollow words will accelerate, even if angrier and hungrier we get in the coming year. After all, speeches cannot fill our hungry bellies nor wipe clear the layers of pollution throttling us to death.
If the politician is determined to cheat the electorate, towards make - believe development theories, it's about time we bring out volume after volume on prevailing ground realities to the living hellish conditions.
Haven't we had enough of the ongoing maar-kaatdhaars! Haven't we had enough of the make – believe! Time to usher in the new year with a resolve to bring out facts. Nothing but the stark truth. Reach out, to as many as possible, if you wish to keep this country intact.

Prophetic words

Before I write details to Khushwant Singh's observations about Rahul Gandhi, its important to point out that Khushwant didn't think much of Rajiv Gandhi's political prowess. He would tell me that though he was initially optimistic about Rajiv Gandhi coming to power, he turned out to be a misfit in the world of politics. "Rajiv was bullied into a position he wasn't equipped to handle... In fact, Rajiv did very little with the massive mandate he'd won after his mother Indira's assassination …He was pleasant, and had some good ideas, but none of them extraordinary. I don't think he was cut out for politics…even in the positive things he did, like telecom and computers – the plans had started in Indira Gandhi's time."
Interestingly, on the contrary, Khushwant seemed impressed with Rahul Gandhi. Far-sighted Khushwant Singh could see that Rahul Gandhi has the potential to come centre stage. Khushwant had interacted with him and would tell me details of how he found Rahul not just earnest but focused and committed. In fact, when Khushwant and I would sit discussing the dismal political scenario engulfing the country he'd quip, "This young man (Rahul Gandhi) could change things, if only he is allowed to govern. There is something about him which makes him different from the politicians of the day. He comes across as straight forward and honest. If he is assisted by his sister Priyanka, the two can bring about noticeable changes and can halt the rise of fascism in this country. Today my biggest worry is the rise of communal forces hell bent on destroying this country…they have got to be countered and defeated if we love our country. And it's only young politicians like Rahul Gandhi who can understand the dangers involved if let these fascist forces go about un–checked."
And in the book 'Absolute Khushwant ' (published in 2010 by Penguin) which Khushwant and I wrote, he had this to detail about Rahul Gandhi- "I think Rahul is much more talented than his father. He has a vision and that's very important. I'm impressed with him, impressed with the way in which he's conducting himself.
He has the right attitude. Even if much of what he does only amounts to gestures, the thinking behind them is right…He has taken on Mayawati in her own territory. It is a brave thing to do. He himself seems to have no caste or class prejudice. What he has been doing in Amethi, staying with the lowest castes and sharing their food - I don't think you can criticise him for that. He is not being patronising; he is highlighting a shameful reality of in our country. Even in the twenty-first century there are untouchables in our society and they live wretched lives…And the manner in which he took on the Shiv Sena in Bombay (February 2010).He lambasted them for attacking non- Maharashtrians and said publicly that Bombay was for all Indians. Then he went to the lion's den and dared them to do the worst. He walked in the streets, travelled by local train. The Shiv Sena goondas failed completely. Hardly any Maharashtrian joined the Shiv Sena protest against Rahul. It was a very well -planned move by Rahul and his advisers. It was good theatre…The young Gandhi is becoming a mature leader."
In fact, one late afternoon Rahul Gandhi had visited Khushwant at his Sujan Singh Park apartment. This was in 2009 …To quote Khushwant on that meet- "Rahul had telephoned sometime last year and said that he wanted to come and see me. He came at the appointed time - 4p.m.- and spent almost an hour in my home. I gave him tea – he said he'd like some tea - and we spoke of politics; about the current situation in general and other things in particular. I told him , 'Your cadres are very weak. The BJP has the RSS and the VHP to work for it at the grassroots level.
The Congress lacks that.' He said he agreed with me and that he was already working on this. He is seeing to it that party members are trained and the party built up. I see that he has been concentrating on young workers and he has picked some very talented workers, many of them women. I also told him that during elections, voters have to be wooed and drawn towards the party. I said that the most important thing that he should keep in mind is to resist flatterers and to hold back from accepting any portfolio."
I'm certain that if alive Khushwant would have been happy to see Rahul Gandhi heading the Congress party. I heard Rahul's speeches during the Gujarat electioneering and I have found them to be great connects. His words are simple and his relays uncomplicated, which come across as such a relief to the ears! In fact, Rahul made a mark this summer, when during his interactive session at Berkley University, he came across as a young politician who realizes the realities to the day and wants to reach out rather too earnestly.
One is waiting to see how Rahul Gandhi will convert his words into action… there'd be some chance of conditions improving in the country if Rahul Gandhi revives the Congress cadres , especially at the grassroots level.

Verse of love

Leaving you with verse from this recently launched book – Ralph Russell's - A Thousand Yearnings: A Book of Urdu Poetry and Prose. (Speaking Tiger). A remarkable book by a remarkable Urdu-lover.
Verses and prose tucked in its pages are laden with emotions. In fact, there is an entire segment holding out love poetry. Ghazals of Mir and Ghalib more than beckon and hold out … Of course, long gone are the romantic poets of yesteryears, leaving back their emotion-laden lines for you and I to sigh along.
Quoting these lines of Ghalib from this volume- 'You stand away, and purse your lips/and show their rosebud form/ I said 'How do you kiss?' Come, kiss my lips and say 'Like this! ' And also these lines of Mir, 'My love, I cannot tell the tale of all the things I want from you /A hundred longings fill my soul, a thousand yearnings throng my heart.'