Hitting ground with a six

Cine star cum director, cum producer, cum politician Kamal Haasan has scored a six with his first statement for going against the tide in politics.

After his meeting with the man whom we never tire of calling ‘maverick politician’ the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Kamal Haasan who has vowed audiences with his phenomenal acting on celluloid gave a befitting reply to the mass conversions to BJP by saying “I am a rationalist. I can’t join the BJP.”

To the skeptics both in media and politics asking him if he had mustered the courage to lead, he asked the people, “My reply is, are you courageous enough to accept my leadership?”

As in life so in politics, the latest entrant to politics in the South dominated by the likes of MGR and Jayalalithaa appeared nonchalant and normal. He also showed that he was quite aware of the importance of the social media when he said that “…had to begin political journey somewhere — it didn’t matter if it was Coimbatore or on Twitter”.

The vacuum created by the death of Jayalalithaa has prompted many filmi stalwarts who are regarded as icons by their fans, to try their luck in Tamil Nadu. And even before Rajnikant could make up his mind Kamal Haasan not only stepped in but also staked his claim to the throne of Chief Minister in Tamil Nadu. He surprised everyone by saying that even if elections are held in 100 days he would be there.

He has also met Rajnikant and they decided to go their own ways in politics with the rider that they would not personally attack each other as they have been pals for decades.

Even though he is not willing to display his political cards yet by saying that he would not ally with any party one thing is clear- he has no love lost for Congress.

Asked about Rahul Gandhi’s comment on muzzling of freedom of expression he retorted, "I don't know when he was born, but I was born much earlier. I have seen emergency. There was no greater oppression than emergency."

The battle ahead in the South would be interesting and colourful if these are indicators.

Rahul returns home victorious

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But would the Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi really be bothered about the comments on emergency which happened more than 40 years ago?

Having vowed the thinking people including some very senior and hardened media personalities in the US with his clarity and frankness in answering critical questions, he has returned with a renewed energy to plunge straight into the poll battle for Gujarat.

The programme organized by Sam Pitroda, Chairman, Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC), AICC, and Shudh Parkash Singh, National President, INOC, USA invited the people to meet Rahul Gandhi as the “most beloved leader” and the “most charismatic leader.”

What did not catch the attention of the people here, obsessed with his comments on dynasty, is the fact that the names of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and P V Narasimha Rao were adorning the advertisements for the event. The children of Shastri have joined the BJP long back while Rao is a forgotten name in the Congress lexicon.

The aim of the gala US event, held at Marriott Marquis Hotel at Times Square, 1525 Broadway, NY, was officially branded as “Rahul Gandhi’s crusade for empowerment of the youth, women and farmers of India”.

However not much should be read in this belated acknowledgement of the contribution of these two leaders as the ad had carried the names of all Prime Ministers from the Congress from Nehru to Manmohan Singh.

This last was the climax of his two-week engagement in the US which began with an address to students at the University of California, Berkeley followed by a meeting with a host of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, civil society representatives, think tanks and experts in California.

People in India, particularly in social media are quite influenced by the inputs of the IT cell of the BJP which paints every speech and action of Rahul Gandhi as ‘stupid’ painting him as a buffoon.

But the fact remains that Rahul is very fond of engaging with the youth in the universities in this country. And he is equally frank about the talk of dynasty in India as he was in Berkeley.

At a program in AMU a few years ago he was asked by the youths why the Muslim leadership in the country did not go beyond a few families.

He immediately asked the students to name at least 10 top Muslim leaders in India. There was total silence in the auditorium after which he said, “That is the problem here. Everyone talks of dynasty but no one wants to enter politics. I am inviting the youth of the country to join politics to make a change.”

Maybe after getting accolades from NRIs people in India will start taking Rahul more seriously.

The results of a few University elections particularly Delhi University, Hyderabad University and a few other campuses seem to indicate that the winds of change have stated blowing.

If this affects the outcome of the elections in Gujarat and possibly in Tamil Nadu it will mark a change in the fortunes of the Congress, saddled with one defeat after another.

Has Mulayam Singh forgiven son Akhilesh?

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What is the similarity between Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kejriwal? Both know how to make splashes in the news whether for right or wrong reasons.

While Kejriwal has a lot to deal with, being the Delhi Chief Minister, constantly on a battle with a hostile Lt.Governor, Mulayam is fighting with his back to the wall to keep himself relevant when most of his contemporaries have been relegated to the side-lines or turned margdarshak in their party.

The veteran of many a battle in Uttar Pradesh and once a formidable Defence Minister at the Centre Mulayam is currently engaged in a family feud, egged on by his own bruised ego and a scheming brother Shivpal Yadav.

His old advisor Amar Singh who had played a very critical role in creating a split between father and son at the behest of the BJP is silently watching the scene, waiting for his next intervention.

In the latest development, Shivpal Yadav had pumped up Mulayam to announce the formation of a new party recently but at the last moment Mulayam did a complete U Turn.

According to reports he was supposed to announce a formal new party by reading a note written by Shivpal but wiser sense prevailed and he declared that he could not go against his own son.

Mulayam may have become irrelevant as a personality but in any future realignment of political forces against the BJP his father figure as a senior politician does carry weight. Particularly with Nitish Kumar finally aligning with BJP the vacuum in the Opposition camp is gaping wide open.