The Telangana maze

By T S Sudhir
Dharmapuri Srinivas is hoping to become more of a heavyweight in Andhra Pradesh politics. No, I am not referring to his girth or the scales he tips on the weighing machine. The state Congress chief by virtue of the post he holds, is a voice that gets heard in 10, Janpath. And now, he has got an unexpected opportunity to gain a place under the sun.
The resignation of the BJP MLA from Nizamabad has been accepted, necessitating a by-election in the next six months. And Srinivas, who lost the assembly election last year, gets another chance to win favour with the voters. And Srinivas knows D Srinivas MLA could well become D Srinivas, CM. And that could mean CM of Andhra Pradesh or CM of Telangana, depending on the outcome of the Srikrishna committee recommendations.
Unwittingly, K Chandrasekhar Rao, whose party symbol is the ambassador car, has rolled down the windows of opportunity for many a rejected Telangana politician. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti is now under extreme pressure to retain its 10 assembly seats and 2 Lok Sabha seats, won in May 2009 by KCR and actress Vijayashanti. Both the Congress and the Telugu Desam have no love lost for KCR and would do everything they can to cut him to size. After all, in the event of a separate Telangana, they wouldn’t want a politically powerful KCR to dictate terms and so, what better opportunity than a byelection to show KCR his place. (Along with the TRS, the resignation of one BJP and one TDP MLA was also accepted by the Speaker)
But would that be possible? KCR who was reduced to a political nobody on May 16 last year rose like a phoenix from his bed inside Hyderabad’s NIMS hospital on the night of December 9. He had challenged the might of the Union government and brought it down to its knees, forcing the Home minister to burn the midnight oil, quite literally.
But after licking its wounds the last month or so, the Congress is now trying to get back at KCR. And for a change, there is a method to the strategy the grand old party of India is adopting amidst the political madness.
Step one, was to rein in its recalcitrant MPs and MLAs. This was done by reading out the riot act to them, by telling them that allowing the TRS to play the leader in Telangana would do their own political future no good.
Step two in the campaign to isolate KCR politically was to beat the maverick politician at his own game. Since KCR had been smart enough to camouflage his moves through a Telangana Joint Action Committee, which was led by Prof. Kodandaram, reportedly his own man, the Congress realised it had to take the same route. Strike at the JAC to hit at KCR.
So the moment, an impatient KCR ruled that the terms of reference of the Srikrishna committee were unacceptable and announced that his MLAs and MPs will resign, the Congress was quick to accuse the TRS of acting out of step. Accusing the JAC of being a TRS mouthpiece, the Congressmen stayed away as they were also incensed at the well-coordinated attacks on their properties in the districts to put pressure on them to quit.
“We will not resign because resignations will not serve any purpose,” said each one of the MPs and MLAs. The same representatives were singing `Hum honge kaamyaab’ tune with KCR just the other day. They are still singing the number, except that the `Hum’ now means only Congressmen.
The Telugu Desam, whose Chandrababu Naidu shares a hate-hate relationship with KCR, has also played its cards intelligently. It will also get a chance to demonstrate its cadre strength in Telangana, and which way this three-way split of votes go, is anyone’s guess. In many constituencies, it could be touch and go.
And byelections in the past haven’t spelt good news for the TRS. Its strength in the Andhra Pradesh assembly has consistently only gone down : from 26 seats in 2004 to 10 seats in 2009.
Simultaneously attempts are also being made to cut off whatever support base the TRS has in the student community. The police offensive at Osmania University, on Valentine’s day and the day after, were efforts in that direction, that misfired badly. But the powers that be are unlikely to give up and a surprise could be round the corner.
For KCR, it is phase 2 of the Telangana battle. Since November 29, he has effectively proved the Telangana sentiment is alive and kicking. Now he has to establish that it is he who is the true custodian of that sentiment. He has to keep the street battles alive. And in the byelections, nothing less than a ten on ten would do. Even a one or two seat drop would mean the knives would be out for him, especially from those who would love nothing more than scripting KCR’s political obituary.

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Fishing in troubled waters

By Tejaswini Uma Sudhir

(Published in Children’s World, February 2010 issue)

Victor the tiger was very happy. It was his 6th birthday and his parents had just gifted him a beautiful finger ring, made of gold. It shone wonderfully and had a `V’ inscribed on it. Victor kissed his parents, thanked them and ran out of home to show off his ring to his friends in the jungle.

He met the panther, the lion, the baboon, the rhino and to everyone he boasted, “Does anyone here have a finger ring? And that too, so beautiful.”

“Hey, you can just see it. I will not let you touch it lest you leave your fingerprint on my ring,” Victor scolded the overenthusiastic monkey who wanted to take a closer look at the ring.

“Hey, don’t keep removing the ring from your finger. It could fall off somewhere,” advised the elephant.

“Even if it does, we can search and find it. After all, everyone knows it is mine and so it cannot get stolen,” replied a vain Victor. His friends exchanged glances and sighed.

It was one week since Victor’s birthday. The tiger was still on cloud nine because of his prized possession. He continued to keep fiddling with his ring and his mom kept reiterating what the elephant had told him. “It is bound to fall off somewhere one day and then you will repent taking it out of your finger all the time,” the tigress said.

Her worst fears came true very soon. On his way to school one day, Victor stopped at the well to indulge in his favourite pastime, fishing. Victor would drop his fishing line into the freshwater well and catch a fish and eat it on his way to school. The fish in the well were very angry and every day, they would dread when it would be 8 o’ clock in the morning. Because that’s it when Victor’s fishing line would lay the bait for an unsuspecting fish among them.

It was the same this morning. Victor peeped in, smiled with an evil glint in his eye, seeing the fish scampering for cover. “I am here and I want the most delicious fish for breakfast today,” he growled and let down his fishing line.

As was his habit, he started playing with his ring also at the same time. And, before he realised it, the ring slipped from his finger and even as he tried his best to catch it in the air to prevent it from falling into the well, the ring had gone inside the well. Whoooosh !

Victor was shocked and speechless. He did not know what to do. His frame sunk and his hand let go of the fishing line as well. Splash ! It went inside the well too.

He saw his classmates pass by. “What happened, Victor? Why are you looking so lost?” asked the camel.

Victor kept gazing into thin air, without replying. His friends walked on, thinking the tiger was being so proud, he won’t even answer.

“If I tell these animals, they will only poke fun, so better to try and get the ring myself from the well,” thought Victor to himself.

He came up with an idea. I will pour out all the water from the well and then the ring will be at the bottom. He could then ask one of the birds to fly in and get it, he thought.

He put the bucket inside the water and started to pour out the water. One, Two, Three, four, five, six, seven … He started feeling tired but he kept on with the job.

“What on earth are you doing, Victor? Why are you wasting precious water like this?” asked the Elephant who was passing by.

“My ring fell into the well and now I have to remove the water to get the ring back,” replied Victor.

“No, you cannot empty the only well in the jungle just because you were foolish to lose your ring,” scolded the Elephant. “Stop this and move out of here.”

In the meantime, panic-stricken fish had called up `100′ to complain to the police that Victor was ruining their home.

In no time, a huge crowd had gathered at the well. There was commotion, with everyone trying to speak at the same time.

“Listen, listen, listen,” said Leopard, the police officer. “Victor, you cannot be allowed to waste water like this. So the only solution is to ask the fish to search for the ring and get it out of the well.”

“No, we will not do it. This tiger has eaten so many of us in the last so many years. Now why should we help him when he has a problem?” asked Whitney, the leader of the fish family.

“But if both sides remain adamant, everyone else in the jungle is the loser because we will have to then walk five km away to the river for water,” said the cow.

“Why should we lose the sweet water from the well? If it becomes empty, all the fish will die and it will take many months and years for it to fill up again, ” agreed the giraffe.”

Everyone thought for a moment and finally the tigress spoke. “Victor, you have to apologise to the fish for eating one of them everyday. You also have to promise you will never fish in the well again. In return, can I request you, Whitney, if you can search for the ring and return it to Victor?”

Victor was shame-faced. “I am sorry,” he mumbled with his head down. The hundreds of fish in the well immediately sprung into action. They looked under the pebbles, between the plants inside the well. The fish’s eyes could pierce through the darkness of the water. `Operation Ring’ took two hours and finally, Skimpy the fish found the ring. A loud cheer went up. As much for finding the ring as much for the fact that the well water and the fish family had been saved.

Victor was a changed tiger since that day. A small fish had tamed the mighty tiger.

God, you have got mail !

By T S Sudhir

Radha woke up with a start. Pranav, her six-year-old son, was not on the bed beside her. She reached out for the cellphone beneath the pillow and looked at the time. 1 am. Gosh, where had this little boy gone?

Radha checked the bathroom but Pranav wasn’t there. Then she saw a stream of light from the study. She tiptoed into the room and found Pranav busy writing on his desk.

“What are you doing dear,” asked Radha, taking care not to startle him with a sudden sound.

“I am busy, mom. I am writing a letter,” replied Pranav.

Radha was surprised. “Letter to who, Pranav?” she asked.

Pranav neither stopped writing nor did he look up at Radha. “I am writing a letter to God,” he said.

If she burst out laughing, Radha knew it would offend Pranav no end. So controlling herself, she asked what is he writing to God at such an unearthly hour.

“I am writing to him that I do not want to grow up. I want to be six years old all my life,”

“But why is that? Why don’t you want to grow up?” asked Radha, quite bewildered.

“I do not see any benefit in growing up. I enjoy playing and having fun. Watching cartoons. Having a lot of free time. If I grow up, I can’t play any more. I will have to work. And there will be tension of problems in office, tension if our maid does not come on time, tension of paying the bills. So many problems, mom.”

Radha was at a loss for words. “But how will you send the letter?” she asked.

“Letter box, mom. Haven’t you seen the one on the next street?,” asked Pranav.

“But we don’t know God’s address, Pranav. We cannot post the letter,” Radha tried to reason.

“Then I have a brilliant idea, Mom. You told me God lives in the clouds above. So the next time you go by an aeroplane, I will give you the letter. When you are in between the clouds, you give the letter by hand to God.” Pranav chuckled at his own presence of mind and Radha was  amused.

“Right, that is a good idea. You finish the letter tomorrow morning and give it to me. I will take it with me when I am travelling next time,” said Radha.

The next morning, as decided, Pranav gave his mom the letter with GOD written in bold red on the envelope.

Bhargav, Pranav’s elder brother saw it and asked him what the letter was all about. When Pranav told him the contents of his letter, Bhargav said, “This is the age of the internet. Let us send God an e-mail. Even sms him. That will reach him faster, Pranav.”

Radha was even more stumped by this one. “But do you have God’s number and email id?” she asked.

Bhargav was not going to let go of a chance to have some fun at his little brother’s expense. “We will just cook up an email id,” he whispered to his mom.

So the two brothers sat on the PC and typed out the letter to God and mailed it to and pressed `Send’.

“Anna, let us sms also,” said Pranav.

Bhargav borrowed his mother’s cell and keyed in “God, you have got mail. From Pranav,” and sent it to `1000′.

“Wow, Anna, you know God’s cell number also,” said Pranav, his eyes wide open, full of hero worship. “Elementary, my dear Pranav. If police is 100, then God is super police. So it has to be 1000.”

“You are a genius, Anna,” came one more compliment from Pranav.

Radha was listening in to all this conversation. The email and sms were ok for the fun of it but Pranav, she knew, would get restless within a few days if he did not hear from God.

So after a couple of days, she typed out a letter which read like this :

“Dear Pranav,

Thanks very much for your email and sms. This is the first time such a small kid has sent me an email.

You have requested that you do not want to grow up beyond the age of six. But Pranav, I can see in my computer that when you grow up and are about 20 years of age, you are extremely handsome and successful and very rich. Don’t you want to be like that?

Please let your Mom know your reply and she will convey it to me.

Lots of love

Pranav read the letter four times. “Ok, Mom. God does have a point. I will grow up. If he has such good plans for me, it would be foolish not to grow up, right.”

Radha said yes. “Your decision will be conveyed to God, Pranav,” she said and added. “Now how about preparing for tomorrow’s English test.”

`Athithi Devo bhava’

By T S Sudhir

South Zone captain Dinesh Karthick was confident he had the Duleep Trophy in his pocket, this Sunday. But then Dinesh had not contended with the power of Yusuf Pathan who made the target of 536 in the fourth innings seem like kidstuff. As the Rajasthan Royal all-rounder batted like a king, West Zone lifted the prestigious Cup, besides creating a world record.

Not just South Zone, even officials of the Hyderabad Cricket Association were disappointed. This would have been an opportunity to demonstrate that the Rajiv Gandhi international cricket stadium in the city is not jinxed for the home team. But yet again, the visiting side had triumphed against all odds. Even odds as daunting as 536.

Not everyone agrees but I would dismiss it as nothing more than a series of coincidences. Deccan Chargers, which is Hyderabad’s team in the Indian Premier League, lost all its seven matches in IPL Season One on home turf. Ditto in the Champions league. India has lost all the three one-dayers played here, including the last one in November last year. Sachin Tendulkar had brought the team to the brink of victory against Australia, only to see the tail simply refusing to wag. Sachin hit 175, one of his best knocks ever but it was in a losing cause and that hurt, besides reinforcing some people’s belief that Hyderabad blues will haunt the men in blue, playing in this stadium.

Blame it on the stadium, harp those who look for reasons beyond cricket. This worldclass facility that was built just five years ago, is modelled on the Wanderers and grounds Down Under. It can accommodate 40000 spectators and has been rated by no less than Sunil Gavaskar and Ricky Ponting as among the best in the world. Yes, everyone agrees. But the sniggers still go around that the best also brings the worst for the home team.

So instead of `V’ for victory, `V’ for Vaastu is the buzz that goes around at this stadium. Vaastu, for those who are not familiar, is a traditional Indian system of design based on directional alignments, wherein based on the `energy’ of the five elements, a building is constructed. And those who claim knowledge of this system, say all izz not well with the stadium’s Vaastu.

 “How is the stadium responsible if the home team loses time and again?” asks G Vinod, president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association. “It after all depends on the eleven players and how they perform on a given day is in no one’s control.”

Those in the association point out that Hyderabad defeated Mumbai in a Ranji match in 2006. Yes indeed. But unfortunately, that has been the only triumph. Critics ask how is it that the home team, invariably zooms to defeat, from comfortable winning positions.

And despite the bravado, the HCA has quite clearly felt the heat. And desperate cricketers make desperate moves. So dressing rooms were changed, in the hope that it would negate the so-called negative effects of `bad’ Vaastu. When that did not work, purohits were summoned to perform special puja to `cure’ the stadium last year. A Laxmi Ganapathi homam was performed at several locations in the stadium, starting reportedly with the square leg umpire’s position.

For three days, one heard hymns seeking to neutralise the suspected `vaastu dosham’ of this wonderful venue, and not the sound of the leather hitting the bat. No hymn was spared to ensure God was pleased with HCA’s line and length ! But the stadium’s home truths have continued to disappoint local cricket fans.

Those looking to fish in troubled waters, say the location of the swimming pool, to the left of the main entrance of the stadium, is the source of the trouble. A water body there is the reason, they claim, home teams find themselves in deep waters here.

Visiting sides, for obvious reasons, love the stadium. For where will you find a stadium that in true Indian tradition says `Atithi Devo bhava’ every single time.