Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Holding higher standards- Call to Smriti Irani

Why Smiriti Irani should go!

Caveat: I write this as an ardent ‘neo-admirer’ of Smriti Irani, as I think she has a great future in Indian politics and believe she is in the right place.

I had to change my preconceived notion about two of the protagonists of ‘Ramayana’ serial. In those days, I was not a great fan of ‘Ramayana’ and used the telecast time to ride freely on empty roads, buy vegetables at the weekly market with no one in sight. Sometimes, the shopkeepers too were not around, having abandoned the shops to watch ‘Ramayana’. I found the aesthetics of the serial too jarring, the pace too slow, repetition an insult to intelligence and raged that Sagar was stretching the episodes for a few extra bucks.
When I was invited to attend a Rotary meeting where Nitish Bharadwaj was one of the speakers, I declined the invite, assuming that he is being invited for his fame that I thought was undeserving. This was after he ceased to be Member of Parliament, around 2008-2009. To my surprise, I found Nitish to be intelligent, spiritual and introspective. He is a person one could admire for his quite way of speaking his truth, having not borrowed his words of wisdom from popular ideas and having trudged his own path to arrive at his conclusions, all of them refreshingly original and sincere.
My views on Smirit Irani were even less charitable. Looking back, I think my dislike to the serial may be to blame. I had bracketed her with Sushma and assumed Smiriti is one of those noisy, rhetoric, brink(wo)manship and aggressive persons who are vexation to heart. After she was nominated to contest against Rahul Gandhi, I began to watch her more closely and found her to be surprisingly composed and articulate. And her interview with Rahul Kanwal converted me in total.
 Smriti has many admirable qualities which do not come to a person by mere superficial changes. When her name was announced for Amethi, there were many in the social media, including those who take cudgel in the name of ‘feminism’ who circulated a video clip in which Smriti was critical of Modi post 2002 riot. I believe that all these men-hating feminists were unfair to Smriti because though Smriti had explained the reason for her change of heart, only one side was peddled. 
In those Gujarat riot days, one had incorrectly assumed that Burkha’s and Rajdeeps had integrity. As their colors faded away to reveal them as conceited and probably agents of powers that be, there also appeared in media the ‘other views’ which helped one see Gujarat Riot in different light. It also became evident with the vengeance with which cases were being fabricated, NGOs promoted and people of deplorable reputation awarded Padma Shris because they would play any foul to bring down Modi that what is being shown as truth is putrid. 
I watched Modi walk out of Karan Tapar’s program and the media went orgasmic flaying him as a coward. The media collectively played down the fact that Karan was making baseless allegation even in the face of evidence to the contrary and I could sense Modi feeling that there is  nothing good that will come out of a conversation with an interviewer as partial and lying as Karan.
Madhu Kishwar’s Modi Nama, brought out facts that the MSM were averse to even mention, perhaps in the fear of the establishment, or due to favors that they were getting used to. All this slowly changed many minds and I too went through it and hence believe Smriti when she said that she was ‘less than charitable’ to Modi and was grateful for his act of magnanimity of supporting her name to contest against Rahul.
Smriti also was dignity personified all through her campaign in Amethi and deservingly got the support from Modi in the form of his visit to her constituency, which in my view, moved blocks of votes from Congress to BJP that resulted in much lower margin that the dynasty was used to. The way she handled the police officer who refused to challenge Priyanka’s PA showed that this is a woman of mettle who believes in herself so much that she never takes advantage of decibels, unlike Mamta and to a lesser degree Sushma. Nor was Smriti found to politicize the issue; she stuck to facts steadfastly.
When she was named as HRD minister, the Congress party opened up its vitriol once again supported by their ‘sleeper cell’ agents in media, including men-haters in the guise of ‘feminists’. Maken, whose brush with Rahul on the famous ‘Press meet’ in which he showed very clearly that he is one with no view of his own except that of his masters, cast the first stone on Smriti.
There are two criticism against Smriti.
1.       She is unfit to become HRD minister due to her qualification
2.       She had fudged her affidavits
I stand with Smriti in the first criticism against her. She has proven herself to rouse the aspirations of people and has rocked the safe seats of dynasty, coming as an outsider. She has the trust of the PM and deserves a chance to prove herself. One need not be a SME to be a Manager but should know to manage. I found Madhu’s campaign exceedingly tiresome as a result. Madhu has got used to pushing truth that others were trying to bury and perhaps did not know that times have changed. She has made a point and should let time tell who is right.
However, with the second, I have reservations. The fudging of affidavits cannot be brushed away as ‘typographical error’ or ‘oversight’. The reason why affidavits are made is to ensure that people are held to their words without any other recourse or excuse, should the contents be found to be inaccurate. Smriti should stand up to that standard and I sincerely believe that she is one of the few in Indian politics who has such strength . It will only make her stronger and not weak. She is only 38 and should go back to work with people and I honestly think that instead of ‘spending the goodwill earned’ mode she should go back to ‘invest to earn goodwill’ mode.
However, it is not complete and fair if others are allowed to benefit for such transgressions and only Smriti is singled out to undergo punishment. I am not saying at all that as others go scot-free, Smriti should also be let. I say that this is an opportunity to put to an end to an era,  an era when political parties routinely trivialize something as weighty as an affidavit. This is an opportunity to restore the faith in social values. It is time to tell those who think that they are above the Law that they are not.
This includes Sonia Gandhi whose election should be nullified and debarred from further contesting for another 6 years, who has fudged in an affidavit
Ditto for Rahul Gandhi too  should be given similar punishment.
Kapil Sibal who ‘forgot’ to include his wife’s property running into crores should also be debarred.
Those who have under oath that they do not have a DIN number, obtained second DIN should be sent to jail.
Those who fail to state the correct value of property should go too.
Those who fail to file the returns for years should also be punished.
Those who allowed the same person to enjoy status of common man when it comes to his ‘business transaction’ but privileged when he exempting from frisking in Airports.
Those who have indulged in shady deals with business houses with nothing except their relationship to high command also need to be brought to book.
Those who made Air India lose 40000 Crores should not be allowed to go free when a person in Canada is punished for paying bribe to him.
This list can go on and on but will only distract the message.
Message is, Smriti should take a higher moral ground and while she does so, Government should ensure that justice is meted to all those who are guilty of similar crime or worse. If only Smriti is to be punished, it indeed is not just, fair yet, Smriti will come out stronger by holding herself to higher standards. Smriti should make that choice and Government should make clean up the rest. 
Because that is the right thing to do.

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