Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Indian Railways in bad position

On August 6, Railway Minister Mukul Roy was on a rare visit to Delhi. His party could not afford to be absent from the UPA lunch on the eve of the Vice-President Hamid Ansari's re-election. His office staff placed a thick pile of long pending files on his desk at Rail Bhavan hoping he would read and sign them. Among them were files which would make the daily journey of 23 million passengers safer. Some pertained to procurement of crucial safety-related material including brake blocks for coaches, cables for signalling, sleepers and hydraulic cutters for faster accident relief. With the Railways running into losses to the tune of Rs.16,000 crore, there is no money for track renewal, gauge conversion and signal modernisation, making rail travel perilous. There is a backlog of 126,000 vacancies in the safety category. Scarcity of items due to pending files is making it worse. Also waiting for the minister were files regarding the appointment of four general managers, including that of Southern Railway, where disaster struck on July 30 when a coach of the Delhi-Chennai Tamil Nadu Express caught fire, charring 35 passengers to death.
Roy did visit his office but the files remained unsigned. He had a quick meeting with the Chairman, Railway Board (CRB), Vinay Mittal and rushed back to his Delhi home where the Trinamool Congress (TMC) was to hold its parliamentary meeting. Nobody knows when Roy will visit Rail Bhavan next. The minister visited the Bhavan on August 2 as well, to sign an MoU with Belgium for cooperation on modernisation of railways of both countries. The files remained unattended. Party work claimed his time in Delhi. In nearly five months as railway minister, Roy has shown up at Rail Bhavan less than 20 times, averaging about four days a month. His visits mostly coincide with his political trips to Delhi. Railway officials hope he will be seen more regularly at Rail Bhavan now that the Parliament session has begun on August 8. But though Roy attended Parliament on August 9 and August 14, he did not turn up at Rail Bhavan. In fact, Janata Dal (United)'s Sharad Yadav raised the issue of railway safety during zero hour on August 14, expressing concern about the crumbling infrastructure. Looking at Roy, Yadav dripped sarcasm as he said, "You should come to Delhi, at least occasionally."In July, Roy attended to railway-related work in Delhi only on four occasions. On July 6, he spent just enough time to unveil a cleanliness drive of stations undertaken with the tourism ministry. On July 14, he made a half-day trip to attend the UPA lunch organised to discuss the vice-presidential candidate. On July 24 and 25, again, he made brief appearances in Rail Bhavan even as his main assignment was to accompany his party chief Mamata Banerjee for President Pranab Mukherjee's swearing in. Roy did not turn up for the important meeting of Empowered Group of Ministers on drought on July 31. According to sources, he does not come for the weekly meetings of the Railway Board, held every Wednesday
 Roy did, however, make it to Nellore on July 30, more than 12 hours after the accident. Soon after he got off the special luxury saloon, Roy promptly blamed the accident on "sabotage". Forensic officials investigating the cause of fire say the probable cause was a short circuit. If the final report confirms it, it is a reflection of poor maintenance by the Railways because it implies the circuit breaker that should have come into play during the short circuit did not, leading to the fire.
 Eminent scientist Anil Kakodkar, who headed the High Level Safety Review Committee of the Railwaysconstituted by then minister Dinesh Trivedi in August 2011, had recommended an investment of at least Rs.100,000 crore to upgrade safety-related infrastructure, focusing on the 19,000 km high density route. In his February 2012 report, Kakodkar said that Railways' finances were on the "brink of collapse" and suggested a passenger fare hike, imposing safety cess on passengers, deferred dividend, road cess and matching grant by the Centre. He favoured expedited implementation of Advanced Signalling System, Train Protection Warning System and elimination of unmanned crossings, which account for 40 per cent casualties in rail accidentsIn nearly five months as minister, Roy has shown up at rail bhavan less than 20 times, averaging about four days amonth.
Trivedi was shown the door when he tried to increase passenger fares against Banerjee's wishes. However, he did manage to finalise a Cabinet note proposing FDI to build dedicated railway lines for industries, connecting coal and iron ore mines to the main network. The proposal is pending before the Cabinet for clearance. Trivedi, now out of the firing line, claims that "in Indian Railways there are no accidents but 100 per cent negligence". He says the Railway Board is loyal to the minister and not to Railways
 Trivedi had famously said after he resigned in March 2012 that he would not want his family to travel on Indian trains because they were not safe. He stands by his statement. "Travelling by rail is not safe. There is hardly any maintenance of trains, tracks, signals or other infrastructure. The railway edifice is crumbling," he cautions. The former railway minister says more than his successor Roy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to be blamed: "Why blame the minister? If a player does not perform, the captain (Prime Minister) should remove him. If he does not, then the captain is to be blamed." He adds, "The whole nation should not be made to pay for coalition politics. Not even one death on the tracks is acceptable."
 A senior railway official says there is shortage of crucial materials like pandrol safety clips (used to join sleepers and rails), brake blocks (each coach has 16 of them and they last about six months) and couplers (used to link coaches with one another). "The maintenance staff is forced to remove these items from stationary trains and use them wherever required. The same material is being circulated in different trains," he reveals. Incidentally, the file for procurement of brake blocks is pending with Roy.
 It is one thing being an absent railway minister, and quite another being a negligent one. By all accounts, Roy is just not interested in railway affairs. Mamata was known to be a non-resident railway minister but she at least took some minimal interest in railway functioning. Roy, on the other hand, is completely uninterested and indifferent.

Bad time for Railways:-

While crucial files remain pending at Rail Bhavan, there are others which are sent to Kolkata regularly for the minister's signature. These mostly pertain to projects in West Bengal that Banerjee wants to be cleared as soon as possible.While the minister misses the weekly Railway Board meeting in the Capital, he regularly attends the weekly coordination committee meetings of Eastern and South-Eastern Railway, which serve West Bengal. According to sources, to accord advantage to the proposed locomotive unit at Dankuni, Roy has unofficially put two projects-electrical and diesel locomotive units at Madhepura and Marhaura in Bihar-on the backburner.
 He has a more important role in Kolkata as TMC general secretary. He has to ensure that the party is in a position to go solo in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Regarding rail safety, he puts the onus on the Railway Board bureaucracy. Railways need large-scale technology upgrade and infusion of funds. Precisely what the Kakodkar committee had recommended. Quizzed about the report, Roy reacted, "Reports are not sacrosanct." It is clear that for Roy, party and power come before railway safety.

நிலக்கரி ஊழல்

பாத்திரக்கடையில் யானை புகுந்தது போல நமது நாடாளுமன்றம் அலங்கோலப்படுவது ஒன்றும் புதிது அல்ல. பொதுவாக அரசின் தவறுகளைச் சுட்டிக்காட்ட எதிர்க்கட்சிகள் கையாளும் ஒரே ஜனநாயகமுறை நமது அரசியல்வாதிகளுக்குத் தெரிந்தது – மேல் சபையோ, கீழ்சபையோ அமளி செய்து சந்தைக்கடையாக்குவதுதான். இதைச் சாமாளிக்க முடியாத ஆளுங்கட்சி தரப்பினர் இதைவிட பெரிதாக கத்தி கலாட்டா செய்வார்கள் – எதிர்க்கட்சி ஆளுங்கட்சியாக் இருந்தபோது நடந்த பழைய கதைகளை பெரிதுபடுத்தி.
       சபாநாயகர் என்கிற “நடுநிலை தவறாத நடுவர்” ஆளுங்கட்சியின் கடைக்கண் பார்வைக்கேற்ப எதிர்க்கட்சியினரை மட்டும் அடக்குவார். சமாளிக்க முடியவில்லை என்றால் அவையை ஒத்திவைத்து தப்பிப்பார் (ஆளுங்கட்சியை தப்புவிப்பார்) 65-ஆண்டுகளில் நாம் கற்றுக்கொண்ட ஜனநாயகம் இதுதான்
       CAG அறிக்கை நிலக்கரி சுரங்க ஊழலில் அரசுக்கு நஷ்டம் சுமார் 1.86 லட்சம் கோடி ரூபாய் என்று விவரத்தோடு அறிக்கையிட்டு 2-ஜியைப் பின்னுக்குத்தள்ளிவிட்டது. டெல்லி விமான நிலையத்தில் 3000 ஏக்கர் நிலத்தை தனியார் நிறுவனத்துக்கு ஏலம் விட்டதிலும் கட்டமைப்பு வளர்ச்சிக் கட்டணம் என்ற பெயரில் அவர்களுக்கு தாரை வார்த்ததிலும் பல ஆயிரம் கோடிகள் அரசுக்கு நஷ்டமாம்.  இந்த விஷயத்தில் லாபம் பெற்றது ஜி.எம்.ஆர். (GMR) குழுமம். பல வருடங்களுக்கு முன்னால் எஞ்சினீயரிங் என்ற பெயரில் சென்னையில் சிறு தொழில் புரிந்த மல்லிகார்ஜுன ராவின் நிறுவனம்தான் GMR. இன்று டெல்லி, ஐதராபாத் உள்ளிட்ட பல விமான நிலைய நிர்வாகம் இவர் கையில். பல பவர் பிளான்டுகளும் (Power Plants), மெகா பாலங்கள், கட்டடங்களுக்கான அரசு கான்டிராக்ட் இவர் கை(பை)யில். டெல்லியில் ஆயிரக்கணக்கான ஏக்கர் நிலத்திற்கு 99 வருட லீசில் வருட லீஸ் வாடகையாக் அரசு வசூலிப்பது வெறும் நூறு ரூபாய்!!!!
       இதே போல் அனில அம்பானியின் ரிலையன்ஸ் நிறுவனத்திற்கு சாசன் மின் நிலைஅயத்தில் நிலக்கரியை மிக சகாய விலைக்கு அரசு கொடுத்துவருகிறது. பதிலுக்கு மின்சாரத்தை குறைந்த விலைக்கு வாங்குவதாக  அந்த நிலக்கரியில் ஒரு பகுதியை தன் வேறு மின்நிலையத்தில் பயன்படுத்தியதுடன் அதிலிருந்து அரசுக்கு அதிகவிலையில் மின்சாரம் விற்றுவருகிறதாம் ரிலையன்ஸ். இந்த வகையில் சுமார் 30000 கோடி ரூபாய் அரசுக்கு நஷ்டமாம். 
       இந்த மூன்று விவரங்களையும் அறிக்கையாக வெளியிட்டது CAG இதற்கப்புறம் நடந்ததுதான் உச்சக்கட்ட கிளைமாக்ஸ். CAG தன் வரம்பு மீறி செயல்பட்டார் என்று நாராயணசாமி தெரிவித்தார்.  CAGக்கு கணக்கு தெரியவில்லை என்று நிலக்கரி அமைச்சர் ஸ்ரீபிரகாஷ் ஜெய்ஷ்வால் கூறினார். ஏலமுறையில் நிலக்கரி சுரங்கத்தை விற்பதாக UPA அரசின் தலைவரான பிரதமரே 2004-ல் அதிகாரப்பூர்வாமாக முடிவு செய்த பிறகும் 2012 வரை அதை நடைமுறைப்படுத்தவேயில்லை. இதில் சுமார் ஐந்து ஆண்டுகள் விட்டுவிட்டு பிரதமர் மன்மோகன்சிங்கே நிலக்கரித்துறைக்கும் பொறூப்பு வகித்தார் என்பதுதான் விஷேசம்!!
       தன் அரசின் முடிவுகளி தானே தள்ளிவைத்துவிட்டு மிக மிக சகாய விலையில் அல்லது இலவசமாகவே நிலக்கரி சுரங்கங்களை தனியாருக்கு தாரைவார்ப்பதன் விளைவுதான் 1.86 லட்சம் கோடி நஷ்டம். தொழில் வள்ர்ச்சியை மனதில் வைத்து இப்படிச் செய்தார்களாம் – யாருடைய வளர்ச்சியை மனதில வைத்து என்பதுதான் புதிர். 
       இந்த மெகா மெகா ஊழலுக்காக பிரதமர் மன்மோகன்சிங் தனது பதவியயை ராஜினாமா செய்ய வேண்டும் என்று BJP  நாடாளுமன்றத்திலும் வெளியிலும் குதிக்கிறது. இது ஊழலேயில்லை, அரசுக்கு நஷ்டமே இல்லை என்று Congress கூறுகிறது. 2G, CWG ஊழல்களிலும் முதலில் இப்படிதான் சாதித்தார்கள். உச்சநீதிமன்றம் தலையிட்ட பிறகுதான் காங்கிரஸின் பிரதான கூட்டணிக்கட்சியான “CBI” விழித்துக்கொண்டு செயல்பட்டு வழக்குப் பதிவு செய்தது. CAG அறிக்கை வந்தவுடன் மத்திய அமைச்சர் ஆ. ராசாவை ராஜினாமா செய்யச்சொன்ன மத்திய அரசும் பிரதமுரும் – ஏர்செல்-மாக்சிஸ் விஷயம் வெளிவந்தவுடன் தயாநிதி மாறனையும், CWG-ல் கல்மாடியையும் விலக்ச் சொன்ன காங்கிரஸ் கட்சி, 1.86 லட்சம் கோடி நஷ்டம் என்று CAG அற்க்கை கொடுத்தபின்ணும் மன்மோகன் சிங் ராஜினாமா செய்ய முன்வராததை நியாயப்படுத்துவது எப்படி என்று தெரியவில்லை.
       பிரதமரின் கரங்கள் கறைபடாத கரங்கள் என்றும் இன்னும் எத்தனை நாட்களுக்குதான் பஜனைபாட்டுப் பாடுவார்கள் என்று தெரியவில்லை. இன்னொரு உச்சக்கட்ட காமெடி என்னவென்றால், எதிர்க்கட்சி ஆளும் மூன்று மாநில முதல்வர்கள் போட்டி ஏல முறையை எதிர்த்து கடிதம் எழுதியிருக்கிறார்கள் என்றும்; அதனால் அவர்களும்தான் இந்த நஷ்டத்திற்கு பொறுப்பு என்கிறது காங்கிரஸ். நஷ்டமே ஏற்படவில்லை என்று தம் செய்பவர்கள் நஷ்டத்திற்கு கூட்டணி சேர்ப்பது என்பது மக்களை முட்டாள்களாக நினைத்து ஆடும் பகிரங்க பசப்பு நாடகம்.
       சுரங்கங்கள் உதுக்கீட்டில் மாநிலங்களுக்கு நேரடி அதிகாரமே கிடையாது. அந்தந்த மாநில ஒதுக்கீடு விஷயத்தில் மத்திய அரசின் ஸ்டியரிங் கமிட்டியில் மாநிலம் ஒதுக்கீடு விஷயத்தில் சிபாரிசு செய்ய முடியும். அதை ஒப்புக்கொள்வதும், ஒதுக்குவதும், பிறருக்கு ஒதுக்கீடு செய்யும் முழு அதிகாரமும் மத்திய நிலக்கரித்துறை செயலருக்கும் துறை அமைச்சருக்கும் மட்டுமே உண்டு. இந்தப் பொறுப்பில் பிரதமரே பல வருடங்கள் இருந்து முடிவுகள் எடுத்திருக்கிறார்.
       BJP ஆண்டபோதும் பொது ஏலம் விடப்படவில்லை என்ற வாதம் உண்மைதான். பிரச்னை ஒதுக்கீடு முறையில் இல்லை – முறைகேட்டில்தான் இருக்கிறது. இதே ஒதுக்கீட்டுமுறை நியாயமாகவும் அரசுக்கு நஷ்டமில்லாத வகையிலும் அமைந்துவிட்டால் விமர்சனத்திற்கு  வேலையில்லை. BJP மாநில முதல்வர்களின் சிபாரிசுகள் நியாயமற்றதாக ஸ்டியரிங் கமிட்டி நினைத்திருந்தால் அவற்றை மத்திய அரசு ஒதுக்கியிருக்கலாமே. அதைவிட்டு முழுப்பூசணிக்காயை சோற்றில் மறைக்க சாக்கு தேடுகிறது UPA. 
       நாடாளுமன்றத்தில் விவாதம் செய்யலாம் வாருங்கள் என்று காங்கிரஸ் ‘அன்புடன்’ அழைக்கிறது. போஃபர்ஸ், 2G, CWG முதலான அத்தனை ஊழல் விவகாரங்களிலும் நாடாளுமன்ற விவாதத்தின் மூலம் என்ன விளைவோ நன்மையோ ஏற்பட்டிருக்கிறது. 
    உலகின் மிகப்பெரிய ஜனநாயகம்! நாட்டு மக்களி உயிருடன் இருக்கும்போதே சாகடித்துச் சித்ரவதைச் செய்யும் பணியை சிறப்பாக செயல்படுகிறது......”Zero Loss” என்பது போல வேறு புது விளக்கங்களுடன் காங்கிரஸ் விரைவில் வரக்கூடும் என்று எதிர்பார்க்கலாம்........

Decoding Ajith's Star Power

Ajith Kumar is a superstar. The above statement cannot be gainsaid. His legion of fans can easily take over the world in terms of sheer strength of numbers. And they are all so crazy about him it is not even funny. Moreover, everything the man does make news. If he happens to cook up a batch of pasta or whip up some biriyani, that inconsequential event is deemed headline worthy. In recent times, the craze for Ajith keeps on increasing. Every tired, boring bit of information about his upcoming films is dredged up and circulated among his fans, who ravenous for news about Ajith, just devour it up and demand more. The hysteria and frenzy generated on account of Ajith seems to be catching up with Rajini fever.
Although, Ajith has been a huge star for a while now impervious to hits and flops, this ascent to a whole new level of celebdom seems a little inexplicable. When he first started out as an extremely skinny youngster with the charming smile, it must be admitted that there was little indication that a star was born. In fact, in the early 90s it seemed like the dude simply could not catch a break. Racing was the great love of his life, and he had been taking on odd jobs to indulge his passion. Modeling happened to him at the time, thanks to his incredibly high cuteness quotient and fair complexion which was big then as it is now.
Naturally, acting was only a hop, skip and jump away and Ajith made his debut with a Telugu film. He followed it up with his first Tamil film, Amaravathi and soon he had done a few supporting roles. Then Aasai, happened and Ajith really got noticed. Soon he established himself as Kadhal Mannan with a string of romantic capers that scored at the box office. With Vaali, Ajith really came into his own as an actor and his legacy began to grow. Films like Villain and Varalaaru established his acting chops some more and Ajith also successfully made the transition from his chocolate – baby – romantic – hero avatar to a larger – than – life macho, action hero. Ajith’s persistent lover – motor racing, tried to steal him away from the big screen and his back injury, the result of a racing accident flared up again. But the silver screen clung tenaciously to its beloved son and when he returned to the spotlight where he belonged, super – duper stardom awaited.
Thus far, Ajith’s career has not differed greatly from his contemporaries like Vijay and Suriya who also started off slowly before finding their feet in the industry. And yet, Ajith remains the unique one. What is it about him that sets him apart? An obvious fact is that he had no prior connections in the industry and he made it all by his lonesome self. Moreover, every flop he gave seemed merely to pave the way for that one film which would go on to become a massive hit and make the failures pale in comparison.
Perhaps the main thing is that his average fan feels like he knows Ajith intimately on the strength of the struggles he has weathered. Most celebs have an aura of untouchability about them that underlies the difference between them and mere mortals. Ajith despite his reclusive ways comes across as someone, the fans can identify with. The guy messes around with fast cars and bikes, hurts his back and has to have umpteen surgeries to patch himself together. And every foolhardy, adrenaline junkie, Michael – Schumacher wannabe which is literally everyone on Indian roads can identify with that senseless need for speed and danger. As for the women out there, their motherly instincts are stirred when Ajith pulls daredevil stunts like this and they want to mother him or if lady in question is actually a tween, then she gets into lover mode and wants to kiss his pain away. Besides when the guy is not able to work out and maintain his formerly fit physique because of his nagging back injury but still insists on doing his stunts himself, it is impossible not to respect him. And of course, his troubles with his weight gets him in solid with all the individuals out there who have their own fat demons to battle with. The point is, Ajith is a beacon of hope for all those who have niggling injuries as well as for fatties everywhere.
Finally, even his worst detractors will have to admit that he has style and that increasingly elusive thing called class. It is apparent from his reputation for courteousness, or his refusal to pander either to the public or the media or even his own fans. And most importantly, Ajith’s innate courage shines through when he refuses to kowtow to injury or political bigwigs who have a tendency to muscle in on the star power of celebs in order to use it for whatever misbegotten purpose, politicians are known to have up their sleeves. In the eyes of his adoring fans and even the average spectator with a marked preference for Vijay/Vikram/ Suriya this makes him a hero in real life as well.
And the funniest thing of all, and the strongest evidence about his overwhelming star power is that all this has been written up by someone who never was and still isn’t a major Ajith fan. In fact, this writer has often been his harshest critic and an outspoken one at that. Perhaps it is that killer smile of his or his devil – may – care persona or just the fact that he can cook up a storm when the mood hits him. Whatever it is,  it just gets you - every, single, time.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Why BJP Is Holding Parliament Hostage
  • To seize the anti-corruption platform hogged by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev
  • To keep up the pressure on the Congress and UPA in the run-up to key state elections
  • To chip away at the Congress’s USP: Manmohan Singh’s integrity
  • To prevent the skeletons from its own cupboard from tumbling out ahead of 2014
  • To show who calls the shots in Delhi before Narendra Modi becomes a potent force
Why BJP Can’t Pull Back
  • Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj involved in a game of competitive belligerence
  • Absence of voices of sobriety and moderation like Atal Behari Vajpayee
  • Scaling down demands will validate CPI(M)’s charge of “match-fixing” with Congress
  • Party feels it has little to lose when opinion polls are suggesting a UPA downswing
  • Last throw of the dice for L.K. Advani. Party workers will feel letdown if tempo is reduced.
On the embers of the coal scam a national contest has begun. As the countdown for 2014 starts, the soot seems to have settled on the visage of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who held charge of the coal portfolio for a long stretch. Still, it’s a game of ash, smoke and mirrors, with the BJP resorting to the scorched-earth tactic of disrupting Parliament to force the PM to resign. The BJP believes it occupies the moral high ground. The Congress has responded by trying to spread the coal ash around a little more evenly, and maybe also blacken the rival’s face. It’s a “tera muh bhi kaala” (your face is also black) display of competitive politics.
The coal scam raises critical questions about how policy pertaining to national resources should be formulated and implemented. Both sides have also had their say on it. With Parliament derailed, last week the debate continued in the TV studios and, for the more complex points, politicians shifted to the editorial pages of newspapers. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley wrote an opinion piece in The Hindu, the same day Union law minister Salman Khurshid wrote his take in The Times of India, while Congress spokesperson and MP Manish Tiwari made his points on the op-ed page of Indian Express. In typical Congress style, the PM’s defence was upgraded from routine to high-decibel after Sonia Gandhi asked the troops to rally behind. She told party MPs to fight back “aggressively”, adding: “Blackmail has become the bread-and-butter of the BJP...this is the handiwork of just one party, the BJP...once again showing up the scant respect it has for democratic values.”
Called to attention, the very next day the Congress produced Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal at its 24 Akbar Road headquarters as Parliament took a day off for Onam (the session continues at the time of writing in spite of disruptions). That was the day the Naroda Patiya verdict came and a former minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet was convicted. In ordinary times, the Congress could have been expected to take a few swings at the BJP in general and Modi in particular. But on August 29, the party had tapped into a new purposefulness. Sibal gave the most thorough and political defence of the PM on Coalgate. A document titled, ‘Selective Amnesia, Mr Jaitley?’ was circulated which sought to list the occasions when the BJP had questioned CAG. (About the CAG report on the Centaur Hotel divestment in February 2004, Arun Shourie, then minister for disinvestment, had said, “...the methodology of computing national losses is idiotic, sorry peculiar”. In 2001, when the CAG report on coffin purchases came out, Jaitley had said, “The CAG is an institution appointed to find faults.” And then defence minister George Fernandes had added that “CAG has acted unethically”.)

The PM may be the most visible face linked to the scam but there’s no end to the BJP’s loot in Jharkhand, not to forget the Reddy brothers....

Another document, titled ‘The boot is on the other leg, Mr Jaitley’, was also released. This sought to highlight the procedure for coal allotments followed by the NDA and the questionable deals of the BJP. Sibal and Jaitley, two great rivals of Delhi’s legal and political circuit, were sharpening their knives for the coal battle. Clearly, there is no end to the amount of mud one side can fling on the other when it comes to coal allotments (perhaps the original sin vis-a-vis India’s criminal approach to its natural resources). The PM may be the most clear, visible face linked to the scam at the present juncture but there is no end to the BJP’s loot in Jharkhand, not to forget its links to the notorious Reddy brothers, the mining barons of Karnataka/Andhra, and other dubious figures. There is, for instance, the matter of Ajay Sancheti—a contractor with close links to BJP president Nitin Gadkari who has been rewarded with a Rajya Sabha berth. His name crops up in the Adarsh scam in Maharashtra. The Chhattisgarh CAG report mentions a mine he has been allotted by the Raman Singh government. Besides, according to CAG findings, on June 29, 2010, the state government did him the favour of staying a tax penalty of Rs 17 crore ordered on his company, Shivnath Infrastructure Ltd! Just after the report was tabled, BJP MP and ex-mining minister Ramesh Bais echoed, “If Gadkari’s close associate can get a coal block, then why not me...I am a member of Parliament after all.” Why not indeed.
So clearly when a leader like Sushma Swaraj states that the Congress got “mota maal” (lots of cash) from coal allocations, she also opens her flanks to a counter-attack. Which is why one must pause and ask, why has the BJP taken the pitch so high? Why has the party risked middle-class censure for further undermining an institution like Parliament? What has got them so worked up that even someone like Jaitley—who enjoys the thrust and parry of a good parliamentary debate and usually opposes disruption—has made an argument for disorder?

There’s a simple political calculation at the heart of the BJP tactic. The belief that the Congress is sinking and this is the opportunity to corner it. Senior party leaders concede that the muck is also being flung at them. But they feel it is not sticking and the greater damage is being done to the Congress. As a political force, the BJP’s DNA is very different from the Congress, which is a rambling sort of organisation. The BJP, by contrast, is a more cohesive unit in spite of all the factional feuds and existential issues that confront them.
And currently the party has sensed opportunity both on the corruption and communalism planks. First, the Anna Hazare movement, once backed by the RSS, appears to be unravelling and strategic decisions have been taken by the Sangh parivar that the force of the cadre should now be shifted back to the party as opposed to what was presented as a spontaneous people’s movement. There is therefore an attempt to channel the anti-corruption urban rage back in a direction that would have a more conclusive political outcome. The Muslim settlers debate triggered by the Assam events also creates a climate that the BJP finds more salubrious, a national atmosphere when issues that it calls “emotional” are more likely to click with and galvanise potential voters.
The BJP is after all a proven practitioner of the technique of outshouting opponents and of repeating something so many times that the public at large finally starts to believe it. The current strategy is not to force a mid-term election as the party knows it does not have control over that scenario. It is to keep the Congress off balance as it enters the season of crucial assembly polls. There are critical BJP-Congress contests in the run-up to 2014.
First the big face-off in Gujarat that the Congress will almost certainly lose (although there is always the hope that somehow Modi’s victory margin can be reduced). As the Himachal Pradesh elections take place at the same time, the Congress is hoping a victory there against the ruling BJP will help it enter the year 2013 with its honour intact. 
In May 2013, the Karnataka elections take place. This is one state the Congress should logically wrest easily from the BJP, the third smaller player being the JD(S). Yet Congress insiders worry about factionalism, the leadership question and the greater money power of the BJP. So here too there is anxiety, and about a state that should have been a cakewalk for the Congress. Worse news could come for the party in October next year when four assemblies, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi, go to the polls, all states where direct Congress-BJP contests take place. Currently, two are held by the Congress and two by the BJP. But while the general perception is that the BJP will hold on to Chhattisgarh and MP, at the Congress headquarters people say with certainty that Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot will be defeated  and that Delhi will be a “close call”. And this is happening at a time when 12 ministers of the Shivraj Chauhan regime in MP face CVC inquiries and several scams have erupted. Yet the BJP is seen as almost invincible in certain states.
Which is why the BJP has currently decided to gloss over the troubling questions of leadership and maximise whatever little opportunity it sees in the future. In the process, the party is certainly taking risks, exposing its own flanks and coming through as an irresponsible force with scant respect for institutions. There has also been some difference of opinion with allies but the larger belief is that ultimately the smaller parties—who are playing a wait-and-watch game—will rally around if the strategy appears to be working.
The Congress conversely is rattled and waiting for some sort of clarity in September when a cabinet expansion/reshuffle is expected and, more significantly, Rahul Gandhi could come out to play a bigger role and give some deliverance from the current season of hopelessness. At the party headquarters, a veteran observed gravely that the fact that Sonia Gandhi has taken the initiative to counter-attack (after a long time) is being seen as a “good sign”, besides of course the fact that Rahul Gandhi “has to take the plunge as there are no choices left”. As usual, in the unique power-sharing arrangement between party and government, the members of the dynasty remain untainted while the PM and his regime absorb all the taint from coal dust.