Surprisingly, senior CPM leader Prakash Karat’s not-so-veiled attack on his successor, party general secretary Sitaram Yechury has attracted scant notice. Politicians and the media have allowed his lament in a recent newspaper article about the unwholesome direction the party has taken to go unchallenged. Nonetheless, the spotlight on the sharp fault lines within the CPM by one of its own senior ideologues requires wider notice.

In fact, someone in the BJP ought to have picked up and run with the clear chit Karat gave when he countered the oft-heard charge that it is a fascist party. The ruling party’s critics when they run out of every other brickbat, invariably fling that ill-merited charge against it.

But what is of bigger significance is Karat’s clear anguish at the pro-Congress turn taken by the CPM under Yechury. Virtually equating the Congress and the BJP as bourgeoisie, neo-liberal parties serving the interests of big business and finance capital, Karat expressly disapproved of the recent CPM-Congress tango in West Bengal.

The unity of “all democratic and secular forces” is needed to fight the communal BJP and the Congress, while capitulation before the Congress by a defeatist CPM ran counter to the party’s core ideology. Meanwhile, since a pragmatic Yechury has prevailed over an ideology-driven Karat, isn’t it time the CPM and the CPI, parties whose best is well behind them, merged and became the B-team of the Congress?



Former Chief Election Commissioner, the highly controversial Navin Chawla, has drawn enough mileage—and earned over at least a crore of rupees in royalty—as an “authorised” biographer of Mother Teresa. The buzz over her recent canonisation by Pope Francis again saw Chawla make a splash in the media. In fact, it is an unresolved puzzle as to why of all the people they chose Chawla to write her official life-story.

Maybe the Gandhi family connection that Chawla flaunts at the drop of a hat helped, but the truth is the choice of the biographer reflected poorly on the subject’s judgement. Wanting to counter the charge of proselytisation, he wrote on the occasion of her canonisation that to the Mother it mattered little as long as you were “a good Hindu, a good Catholic or a good Muslim”, etc. Someone should have told him, who, exploiting the Gandhi connection, has built himself a huge land bank in several states in the name of a trust, that you do not have to be religious at all to be a good human being.

Now, is it a sign of a good human being to raise high boundary walls in complete violation of the municipal building bylaws for residential properties, even if Chawla himself is paying for the job? Getting Congress governments into providing cheap land for trusts, persuading them to provide free fencing, state security at private residence, a police escort, etc., are hardly a laughing matter.

But then Chawla has shown scant respect for norms all through, beginning from the black days of Emergency, though, it must be admitted, he is the authorised biographer of Mother Teresa. Wish some of her much commented upon saintliness had touched him too.



The other day, a well-known anchor of a television news channel tweeted approval of the recent introduction of flexible pricing of passenger fares on Rajdhani, Shatabadi and Duronto super fast trains. Immediately, the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, countered, saying that the surge pricing was anti-people and predictably criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the proposed hike. Soon, Sisodia’s boss and Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal joined the argument, calling the anchor “an agent of Modi”.

Not to be cowed down by such abuse, the anchor stood his ground, arguing that if passengers want efficient service they should be ready to pay for it. In any case, the increase was proposed only on premium trains and that too for higher-cost fares. But Sisodia was not ready to reason, he defended Kejriwal, which only brought the retort from the anchor that neither Kerjiwal nor Sisodia had mentally evolved.  By the way, Indian Railways loses upwards of Rs 26,000 crore on passenger services annually. It seeks to recoup some of the loss through higher freight rates, which is partly responsible for slower growth in goods haulage by Railways. Also, higher freight charges hurt the poor, whereas passengers of premium trains have the option of travelling by slower trains or by a lower class of travel.



A number of Congress leaders, who are now being made to account for their illicit money-making rackets while the party was in power for ten years, have deliberately resorted to delaying tactics in the hope that the 2019 parliamentary poll might end their woes. That explains the refusal to accept summons, to seek repeated adjournments, to evade appearance before the Enforcement Directorate, to plead illness or some such excuse for putting off interrogation by the ED, etc.

In fact, even when the ED manages to summon the underlings of someone who had made tonnes of money due to his powerful ministerial connection, the effort is made to thwart their appearance. And on occasion when the accomplices of the main suspect were unable to avoid the ED, his mother has sought to disrupt the proceedings, barging into the room screaming and shouting at the officers and threatening them of reprisals upon their certain return to power in 2019. Small wonder then the investigators are unable to make much progress, though the main suspect had used his powerful connection to make big money on the stock market, and from dabbling in the telecom sector. If you believe the realtors in the capital, the fellow owns over a dozen properties in South Delhi’s upmarket Defence Colony alone.



A message exchanged on one of the more popular social media sites has this apocryphal exchange:

Sandeep Kumar: It was the woman who wanted to bribe me with sexual favours.

Policeman: Why didn’t you object?

Sandeep Kumar: Our Netaji has said that if anyone offers you a bribe, do not object; make a recording and give me a CD of that. Jai AAP!


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