Is Mahathir’s camp getting pretty desperate?.

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Kajang has been waiting for a Santa Claus for ages. We got lucky, and Santa rode into town this year. No fancy sled. No reindeer. No jingle bells. He was carrying just Anwar full of unexpected goodies. People cheered. Critics jeered. But despite the odds, our desi Santa managed to touch countless hearts. The just concluded X-mas and New Year celebrations  were marked by the one emotion that has been missing in our lives for decades — hope. Rightly or wrongly, a single individual became the focal point of this collective hope His timing was impeccable. Things were getting pretty desperate. Doom and gloom defined the national mood. Out of that chaos emerged a non-descript person, who is being hailed as the biggest game-changer in the country.—Umno and its so-called non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have started their campaign to block Anwar from reaching out to voters – the sure sign of how worried they remain of a politician they themselves have tagged as a has-been.From Perlis down to Johor, every trick in the book has been employed against the opposition. At times, the royal households are used, sometimes the religious authorities are co-opted.The simplicity of what he was saying made the others look really foolish. His approach was direct and non-confrontational. It was devoid of theatrics or unnecessary drama. The content was easy to access, process, decode and absorb. He spoke in a language understood by the large majority of Malaysia Minus any flourishes, and stripped to basics, the clarity of his speech may well go down as the single most direct form of mass communication in the public arena. He spoke more like a concerned citizen and less like a seasoned politician. Given that he must have been perfectly aware of the historical significance of this address, he chose his words carefully and well. The thing is, Anwar played a credible Santa. He didn’t shortchange his constituency by making absurd claims or demands. And he didn’t alienate his opponents by hurling charges and accusations at them. The contrast between him and ‘them’ was instantly recognized and applauded by Malaysians It will not get easier for Anwar or the opposition but these authorities should know that their actions will only push people to blame Umno for it and support the underdog will not get easier for Anwar or the opposition but these authorities should know that their actions will only push people to blame Umno for it and support the underdog it is perverse, but so are the authorities when they forsake their independence and act against the people.

has understood the psychology of our people far better than any of his rivals. He has read us well. He knows our pulse. And he effortlessly presses all the right buttons. Most importantly, he gives the impression he isn’t faking it. Citizens are exhausted. Citizens are cynical. And citizens are impatient. They can see through political nataks. It’s not pompous orators with the gift of the gab they seek. Neither is it pampered baba log speaking in posh accents and suffering from a case of serious ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). It is someone more like themselves they want. Someone who doesn’t talk down. A no-nonsense chap. But here’s the catch. So far,Anwar has acquitted himself convincingly as just looking for change in a hopelessly corrupt system. His narrative has worked well, even if one can pick several holes in its populist pitch. He quickly realized that moving into a comparatively modest,, if— and it’s a pretty big ‘if’—Anwar relentlessly pursues and punishes the corrupt. Our vote was cast for that single promise. And we shall hold him to it.

It’s fascinating to see non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have started their campaign to block Anwar from reaching out to voters – the sure sign of how worried they remain of a politician they themselves have tagged as a has-been.Often, laws are bent to suit the whims and fancies of Umno.scrambling to adapt to the new order. Long-term netas, who have remained deeply entrenched in the old style of functioning (complete with the standard sho-sha of office), have realized the party is finally over supreme self importance exuding from every gesture and utterance! How idiotic they look! How dated. How pathetic. Each one of them, a ludicrous symbol of all that we despise and have despised for decades. Suddenly, they seem over. They are past tense. And one hopes, with them goes the baggage of misdemeanors and crimes that have blighted our lives for too long.

There are 39,030 voters in the Kajang constituency of which almost half are Malays, 40% Chinese and 10% Indians.It can be argued that the brand that receives the single largest investment by way of promotion is the Nehru-Gandhi family name. Dozens of institutions carry this label, and the media is awash with ads on days readmore Who should we vote for? Mahathir or Anwar brand of Politics


In the 66 years of Independence, India has lived with a certain set of moral codes that called for respect of regulation, sacrifice for a greater good, duty towards society and accountability. An accepted definition of what was expected from members of society and from those in power gave the country its navigational apparatus and heroes. That definition allowed heirs to rise from the miasma to take over the reins when those in positions of authority stepped down. It also marked the scales on which people were measured and judgments passed. It is difficult to deny that moral codes were the cornerstone of trust between all parts of society, and the grease that allowed society to function.

There is a need for a new morality in India today, or at least for a call to recognize the new morals we live with compared with those of six decades ago. One may ask why, and the answer is simple, if we don’t recognize new morals and spread them, the result can be unrest. Things are already changing in India – look at who we consider our leaders, look at who we put in jail. We get affronted when our film stars are held up at foreign airports and derive a sense of pride when citizens of other nations though of Indian ancestry achieve recognition in their country.

Our “philosopher kings” are businessmen who equate foreign investment with national prosperity, who see environmental protection and concern for the marginalized as being bad for the country. They decry government expenditure on the economically bereft while seeking tax breaks for themselves. We find solace in the deep voice of a septuagenarian who made his mark in the country’s dream factory. We seek the counsel of the glitterati who tweet from their ivory towers and from TV studios far removed from the humdrum of daily existence. For what we value to change, wouldn’t our moral scales have to change too?

The Fallout

As citizens of a democracy, Indians have become inured with our choice of electoral candidates. They swing between brilliant home-economists whose assets magically increase annually and Houdini like magicians who can’t be confined within the thick walls of a prison cell.

Though most citizens’ views have gone beyond contempt for the politician, there is a burgeoning group who are now involved and committed. This is a class of people who not only have ideas on who should be in power but also do what they can to get these people in power. There is a meeting of minds here; the dreams of the common person and the politician merge. There is also a belief that these chosen ones can make such common dreams come true.

The Triumvirate

Let’s narrow down to three people on whom many pin their hopes in this year’s general election: Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal. The three are very different politicians,their socio-economic backgrounds, political philosophy, manner of functioning and experience all dissimilar. But they have one thing in common as the first surfers riding a new wave of morality.

Narendra ModiNarendra Modi became the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after stomping all over the patriarch of the party, Lal Krishna Advani. The very same person who stood by Modi after the 2002 religious riots, where many allege Modi played a role in the what can only be called a state-sponsored pogrom. His form of governance is held up as the way ahead.

For a party whose philosophical fountainhead is the desire to bring back Ram Rajya(something everyone is unsure what that connotes) and which speaks about Raj Dharma(rule based on spirituality and positivity), the Machiavellian machinations that went to create Modi were the very antithesis of their foundation. That the patriarch was discarded and shouted at goes against the Hindu dharm (respect for elders) that the party wishes to preserve and promote.

Then there is the whole idea of protecting the weak and the helpless, which is part of Raj Dharma. In the case of Modi, this was tossed out in the 2002 riots and continues to be ignored, with economic policies that has led to increased state debt, child malnourishment and low wages in Gujarat, where he is Chief Minister. Given all this, Modi is still a darling of the many. The very same people who espouse respect for the elderly and speak in glowing terms of India’s past – and even the need to protect the weak – say goodbye to all this when it comes to bringing Modi as the nation’s leader.

Is the new morality that allows support for Modi based on less concern for our elders and the weak? And if so, wouldn’t this go against the many tenets of Hinduism, a religion (or way of life) that the BJP wishes all Indians to convert to?

rahul_gandhi

Then we turn to Rahul Gandhi, the scion of a dynasty. While many of us speak againstdynastic politics, we have no qualms in ensuring that wealth and power remain within the confines of our family. Most marriages in business families are fixed on the basis of love – a love of money and finding ways to increase it. Marriage ceremonies are a time to repay or exact debts. The power that congregates in one location during such occasions could create a new industry, light a city, bring down a government or even create a new one.

Given this state of affairs one wonders why many think awry of the “dynastic politics” of the Congress Party. How different is that from Narayan Murthy of Infosys bringing his son into the company as his executive assistant and then promoting him to a vice president? There was hardly a peep from the business community after this action from a man many consider to have sound ethics. Why shouldn’t sauce for the goose be sauce for the gander?

So the second moral dilemma is the support by many for Rahul Gandhi as India’s future Prime Minister. Proponents of that cause choose to ignore that Rahul, whose candidacy has yet to be declared but is widely regarded as a shoe-in, has absolutely no experience in politics or in working in government. The political statecraft that goes with such a position, along with the knowledge of the workings of the government and the country, is not easily acquired. It could be argued that his name and the experience of those working with him would pave the way for a successful stint as premier. One wonders, why is such an opportunity not given to others of the same age and similarly haloed backgrounds but of more experience?

The pertinent question here concerns the differing moral scales used by those opposing the Congress, but silent on other similar issues, and by those within the Congress who promote Rahul on the one hand and on the other do not give Rahul’s party members similar opportunities.

Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi and the force behind the Aam Admi Party (AAP), is a different kettle of fish. The reasons for his rise to power range from public disaffection with entrenched politics to a collective victimhood that is finally raising its head. During his journey to power he tarred all government institutions with the same brush – everything was dirty – and promised to clean up their mess. Having achieved power, he seems to have gone a step further and is now living by the “heads I win, tails you lose” philosophy.

Kejriwal seems unable to work with the power given to him by the people but undermines it by sitting in protest, a protest which has led to no resolution and instead is converting an inability to channel powers to make change into a form of martyrdom which allows him to continue functioning by attracting people’s sympathy and even admiration.

The AAP leader, whom the party has yet to declare as its prime ministerial candidate, is a dream come true for Indians who in general have no love for authority or social order. Here is a man after their own heart, a man who though in a position of authority does everything to undermine it. The protest warms the cockles of the common person because they see a man with immense power acting as if helpless. So they believe he is still like them – an outsider fighting a firmly dug-in cabal.

No one questions the fallout of such actions – if people in power begin to protest in this way then what will the common person do? Kejriwal is destroying institutions without providing an alternative while also usurping public space used by the truly powerless to make themselves heard.

His code of conduct has not only diminished the office he holds by portraying it as one without power but has also left the common person bereft of means of communicating with higher-ups. Kejriwal has not shared his idea of what a leader should be and for what he should be held accountable, while he is simultaneously laying to waste institutions that have been the bulwark of society. So he has given himself an open canvas to do what he imagines to be right, which may soon inspire the common person to imitate him.

Though Kejriwal calls himself an anarchist he cannot absolve himself of the trust and the mantle of leadership that people have reposed in him through an institutionalized election process that he was part of, and which people believe in. Can an anarchist be a leader? It goes against the very grain of anarchic philosophy. Or is he using the term because he realizes that today most Indians don’t know what it takes to be a leader and are quite happy with someone who can destabilize the establishment?

Society becomes redundant and dysfunctional in two instances – when it has no morals or when society’s thoughts and actions far outpace its moral strictures. With Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal we seem to have arrived at the latter. Their presence and their impact indicate that subliminally moral codes in India have changed. Isn’t it time therefore that we shout it out from the roof tops and get everybody on the same page?  At last the horrible secret is out. Courtesy an Indian Express scoop, we know that Modi has a wife, whom he hasn’t seen or talked with in the last 42 years  Godhra, “snoopgate” and Jashodaben are now three issues that Modi needs to publicly talk about. .“Snoopgate” and now the case of Jashodaben are both readmore Prime Minister in waiting. Modi’s wife – the secret is out arranged marriage in a love-struck world

Samir Nazareth is a commentator based in India. He can be contacted at samirnazareth@hotmail.com

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