Rs. 80,000 Per Month Game Plan to Retain a Posh Lutyen’s Bungalow!

Post-elections, I have desisted from posting anything negative about Arvind Kejriwal. I think it is not right to beat a person who is already down.

However, I decided to come out of my self-imposed censorship due to something extremely fishy about this man’s ethics. And it relates to… his official bungalow of course. This was the same bungalow on Tilak Marg in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi that:

  • he quietly requested from Home Ministry after becoming CM,
  • refused to occupy it after protests by AAP volunteers,
  • succumbed to his weakness for taxpayer funded perks to occupy it later,
  • refused to vacate after resigning as CM citing daughter’s exams as an excuse,
  • had no qualms accepting Rs. 80,000 per month from so-called “unusually large-hearted, extra-benevolent friends” (when the market rate for that house was 5 times that which amounted to subsidy from taxpayers), and
  • now is refusing to vacate long after his daughter came out with flying colors in 12th board exams!
minhaz

Minhaz Merchant’s tweet on Feb 4

It has recently come to our notice that AK’s actual game plan was to never vacate this house at all! Never ever! What has unfortunately thrown a spanner in the works is the full majority to Modi government on May 16. It has taken away any scope for playing mischief with Lutyen’s house allotment.

As early as on Feb 15, a day after Kejriwal resigned as CM, The Calcutta Telegraph reported the real motive in his own golden words to NDTV. Note that he has since stopped repeating this line possibly realizing the downsides of revealing the cards. The national media completely ignored this ulterior motive of Kejriwals, and kept playing up the daughter’s board exams excuse. Kejriwal used her board exams to garner sympathy and self-righteousness for himself from some inquisitive and critical AAP workers. The truth lies elsewhere: not in daughter’s academic performance, but in wife’s anticipated promotion.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1140216/jsp/frontpage/story_17944440.jsp

The former chief minister’s wife, who was allotted a flat in Ghaziabad where the family lived, will be eligible for a similar flat when she is promoted. But the Indian Revenue Service (IRS), of which she is an officer, does not have flats in Lutyens Delhi where the current apartment is located.

In order to get an allotment in Lutyens Delhi, she would have to make a request. Such requests are not uncommon or illegal but they are little different from seeking favours.

“My wife is due for promotion. She will become commissioner and then she would be entitled to this flat. We will see if that happens,” Kejriwal told NDTV 24×7.

An urban development ministry official said: “An IRS officer is allotted a house from the central pool only if the person is posted with the central government.” Sunita is not on central deputation.

The Kejriwals’ current Tilak Lane accommodation is a Type VI flat from the general pool of the CPWD allotted to joint secretaries or above. Sunita, posted as OSD with the Income Tax Delhi circle as additional commissioner, is one rank below.

On May 28, just two days after taking oath, the Modi government issued a notice to Kejriwals to vacate the bungalow by June 26 (one month after Modi’s swearing in). On June 14, The Hindu reports the real motive quoting a “close source of the AAP leader”:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/kejriwal-to-vacate-official-residence/article6114822.ece

The source said that Mr. Kejriwal’s wife, Sunita, is due for a promotion in her job which would entitle her to accommodation of a type similar to the one on Tilak Road, but noted that it could take a couple of months due to the change of guard at the Centre.

The Economic Times spills the beans further: the elaborate game plan doesn’t just stop with Kejriwal alone. His close confidant Manish Sisodia who isn’t known to have any 12th grade kid has also refused to vacate!

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/lutyens-delhi-315-new-mps-lead-to-major-housing-exercise-as-ex-ministers-refuse-to-vacate-homes/articleshow/36681039.cms

AAP chief and former Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has got four notices, but has not responded with a firm date of vacating the plush C-II/23 Tilak Lane accommodation. Another AAP leader Manish Sisodia, who lives in a government accommodation at Patparganj across the Yamuna, has repeatedly ignored eviction notices.

Can a politician, that too someone with an air of moral superiority about himself, get any more hypocritical? Will the self-righteous AAP volunteers dare to question their Lord? Who will bell the cat?

Amidst all this hypocrisy, will AAP survive as an ethically upright party if they don’t let go of their power-hungry leader?

Wannabe PMs’ Debate: First, can we debate Track Record vs. Tape Record?

I find it absolutely funny that there’s a petition calling for Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, and Rahul Gandhi to “debate” on their national agenda. And, nothing surprising here, LordAK has signed this petition!

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Of the three, there’s only one leader with a solid track record of serving the country for 12+ years. The second one has tape record, and a track record of running away from responsibility and hard work. The third one lacks even that tape record.

First of all, how can the petitioner select only these three when there are scores of more accomplished political leaders such as Ms. Jayalalithaa or Ms. Mamata Banerjee or Mr. Naveen Patnaik or Mr. Shivraj Chauhan or Mr. Nitish Kumar who have track record? These leaders might probably have better chances of becoming PMs than LordAK.

Modi is a declared PM candidate of NDA, Rahul is the undeclared one of UPA, and LordAK is the media-declared one. Naturally, the media wants to promote him to be in the same league as serious PM contenders. His Made-for-TV statements during debate will also add spice to their primetime TRP ratings.

I have nothing against TV debate among PM contenders per se, but a debate, to be credible, should be among serious contenders for power. Otherwise, the one who has no chance/intention of becoming PM has least stake in the debate, and can throw in irresponsible statements such as:

  • “I will solve world hunger” or
  • “All my opponents are in Ambani’s pockets” or
  • “I am the only honest person in India” or
  • “There’s not an atom of development in Gujarat.”

That person has nothing to lose, and everything to gain by making bombastic, self-righteous statements. This is by design. A serious contender for power has everything to lose by trying to engage with a Made-for-TV personality.

Therefore, I do agree with Arun Jaitley’s wise advice to Modi not to engage with mavericks who have little stake in the system: Nothing to lose, everything to gain by making wild allegations when a camera hits your face.

Elections are also a great occasion for the mavericks. A maverick per se is independent in thought and action. He is not bound by the conventional rules. He is out of the ordinary. He shrills and at times is outlandish. He knows every trick on how to focus attention on himself. He attracts attention and publicity. He has no qualms about switching positions. He is more colorful on electronic media than conventional politicians. Social media particularly the Twitter has a huge space for accommodating the maverick opinions. Many mavericks are committed to ‘rent a cause’ philosophy. They are on the lookout for causes which they can espouse.

… Their style is unconventional. They make arguments in an idiom intended to derive maximum publicity. A maverick has a habit of making allegations without substance. Conventional politicians are reluctant to join issue with them because a maverick is capable of hitting below the belt. He is a wild card.

I have always wondered how to deal with a maverick. Do you answer questions which a maverick puts to you? Do you meet him when he tries to gate crash into your house? Do you allow him to occupy the centre stage by engaging him or do you ignore him and continue with your conventional style of setting the agenda? That I feel is a safer option. Silence can be the best response to a maverick. Silence is dignified. It saves you the embarrassment of engaging with a maverick on his bizarre agenda.

How “Paid Media” behaves when its favorite politician is stung?

In the last two days. we’ve been trying to follow up on how much coverage media is giving to AK’s match-fixing Bhagat Singh interview with AajTak. This is a test case for media neutrality. So far, my worst fears on media being hand-in-glove with Congress+AAP is being proved beyond doubt. None of the major channels NDTV, CNN-IBN, Times Now, and of course AajTak/HT (the very culprit) has given this news any space it deserves. All the awareness seems to have been restricted to the youth on social media. Not one channel has questioned AAP hard on the expose, and not one anchor has organized a panel discussion on the dangers of media-fixing, and orchestrated interviews to a free and fair media. Sadly, even those who are smart enough to understand the gravity of the situation haven’t made sufficient noise calling for sacking of Mr. Punya Prasoon Bajpai who continues to be the head of AajTak’s editorial team.

(To clarify, I never expected anyone from AAP calling for the honest Mr. Arvind Kejriwal’s head, so no let down there! AAP’s intellectual leader Mr. Yogendra Yadav, otherwise very voluble on paid media rhetoric, has been conspicuously silent.)

Am I exaggerating the dangers of paid media here? I’d humbly say “No!” Our democracy survives on access to information to public so they can freely make up their minds. If the information reaching them is orchestrated or corrupted due to vested interests, it is possible that a section of gullible masses can be wooed by such interests to harm the interest of the nation, via the ballot boxes. Paid media is no different in that sense from voter bribes.

A case in point is this:

  • When AAP leader Prashant Bhushan called for Kashmir to be given to Pakistan, and army to be withdrawn, there was a hue and cry. As a loyal patriotic Indian, the then Delhi CM gave an interview to Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai calling Kashmir an integral part of India, and thereby gaining the trust of some of his nationalist followers who might have been offended by such statements.
  • Similar was the case when Yogendra Yadav talked on Maoists, or someone else on Khap Panchayats, and caste reservations. Each time, Kejriwal took an opposite stand from his extremist colleagues to appeal to the fickle-minded middle class.
  • Then came Kejriwal’s unbeatable hypocrisy at a speech to industrial body CII in Mumbai. When in power for 49 days, the man did everything he could to throw muck at private companies, gave subsidies from taxpayers even before a probe found any company guilty of corruption, threatened a government takeover of discom companies, and canceled FDI in retail without a debate on the merits of retroactive withdrawal of a state policy (I agree with recalling FDI in retail, but would have liked a debate on the merits of retroactive policy withdrawals). Well aware that his 49-day honeymoon had lost middle-class support, this man now borrowed a slogan from his rival PM candidate:

    “Government has no business to be in business! Aha!!”

As with everyone else, I too was misled and genuinely thought that ex-CM of Delhi was now a changed man with fresh, modern ideas on the economy, Kashmir, reservations, and whatnot. Alas, that hope turned out to be short-lived, as this video has depicted. What Kejriwal has shown with this jugaad is that he cannot be trusted at his words, especially in orchestrated interviews with cozy journalists. Could it be that his lectures on business, Kashmir, Naxals, reservations, Khap are just carrots doled out at middle-class to split anti-Congress vote in 2014, aiming to impose a weak unstable regime on India?

At this hopeless juncture, Zee News is the only channel that has made any serious effort to get answers from Kejriwal himself for the serious violation of journalistic and political ethics. The eternal questioner-in-chief, always happy asking questions from all and sundry, as expected, ducks the Zee News’s questioner now. No wonder.

Indian media, please do your job! A sincere request from a concerned Indian.