Father-in-law vs son-in-law for Congress ticket


By T S Sudhir

 
Politicians lobbying for tickets for their kith and kin is nothing new in Indian politics. One has seen it in several elections, including the latest round of state elections in five states. But what is happening within the Congress for the party ticket to the Secunderabad Cantonment constituency is something rather new. A father-in-law is lobbying for a ticket, asking the party to deny it to his son-in-law.
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With his work on the ground in the last three years and an active participant in the agitation for Telangana before that, M Krishank, an Osmania University student leader who joined the Congress, was always the frontrunner to get the ticket. He has been leading from the front when it comes to articulating people’s issues in this reserved constituency in the state capital. His `basti nidras’ that involve spending the night in a slum, listening to their woes, sharing their dinner and sleeping under a tent, have helped him develop a connect with the urban poor. He also has a rapport with Rahul Gandhi and his team and with the party’s emphasis on fielding new and young faces, atleast on paper, Krishank fits the bill.
 
Enter his father-in-law Sarvey Satyanarayana, former Union minister in the UPA. He has also thrown his hat into the ring, staking his claim to the Secunderabad Cantt seat. His argument is that he is a senior face of the Congress, who has represented the constituency in 1985 on a Telugu Desam ticket. He was subsequently MP from Malkajgiri in 2009 and Secunderabad Cantt is one of the assembly segments under it. 
 
This family feud is making matters difficult for the Congress leadership. It is
neither able to refuse a senior leader like Satyanarayana nor does it see merit in rejecting a fresh face like Krishank who has nurtured the constituency, after being informally promised the ticket.
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In order to make Satyanarayana give way, a diktat was issued from Delhi to all former MPs who are contesting the assembly elections. They were told that in case they lose, they cannot expect a ticket in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Alternately word was reportedly sent to Satyanarayana that if he withdrew from the race, he would be fielded from Nagarkurnool seat which is considered a safe seat for the Congress.
 
But Satyanarayana is reportedly keen to contest because he believes a Dalit MLA has a good chance to become CM, if the Congress-led Grand Alliance comes to power in Telangana. He is banking on the anti-incumbency that exists against four-time MLA G Sayanna, who was elected in 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2014 on a TDP ticket. Sayanna subsequently migrated to the TRS and has been fielded by the pink party this time. 
 
Satyanarayana’s last two elections resulted in defeats. In 2014, he lost the Lok Sabha election from Malkajgiri and the following year, suffered a crushing defeat in the byelection from Warangal Lok Sabha constituency. 
 
The process of nominations opened on Monday and the Alliance list after several rounds of discussions is set to be announced on November 13. Krishank is hoping that the Congress will keep its word to give one seat to a student leader from Osmania University and among five claimants to such a quota seat, he has the best credentials.
 
His Plan B is to make it a family battle as an independent candidate or approach the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for its elephant symbol. While conventional logic says that may end up helping Sayanna as he will split up the anti-TRS vote in the constituency, it is also quite possible that the Cantonment electorate could take a break from voting for familiar names who have represented them all for the last three and a half decades and plump for a new energetic candidate. 
 
It is not Krishank who is on test, it is the Congress that is being tested.
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Is `Clean India’ drive really working?


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By T S Sudhir
I was at the Sangeet crossroads in Secunderabad at 430 pm on Saturday, November 8. The light had turned red and I was on my bike, behind this car. 15 seconds into the wait, was thrown out this plate and napkin after what must have been a tasty chaat. But Prime minister Narendra Modi’s Clean India campaign or not, I have always found littering public places revolting. I took a photograph of the episode and then told the girl sitting on the back seat that what she did was not right. She glared angrily and then reluctantly said sorry. I requested her to pick it up. She shook her head to indicate no.
I wanted to ask her if she would do the same in Singapore but the light turned green and the traffic moved on. But her father was clearly livid at what they must have perceived as an “insult” and kept honking behind me incessantly perhaps to let loose a few abuses. In my book, he was indulging in yet another uncivilian act – of contributing to noise pollution.
Since October 2, we have seen many celebrities indulging in farcical photo-ops, to earn a commendatory tweet from the PM and he has obliged as well. Look at how Hema Malini and Prakash Javdekar are cleaning an already clean place. But nothing will make India a clean place unless we move away from celebrityhood and make Clean India campaign a `in your face’ drive. Instal mini garbage bins in every nook and corner so that there is no excuse to litter the streets. Name and shame people who do so in public.
We owe it to ourselves to keep our public spaces clean.
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Vrindavan: BJP MP from Mathura actress Hema Malini participates in Clean India Campaign in Vrindavan on Nov 7, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

Kavitha’s argument out of tune?


By T S Sudhir
Is it an act of sedition to say Hyderabad and Kashmir were forcefully annexed to the Indian Union post independence in 1947? Is it an act of sedition to suggest that India must accept the reality (meaning to say – recognise the reality of the LoC) and move on?
My mind, with limited knowledge of law, says not really. Both points were uttered by K Kavitha, TRS MP from Nizamabad and daughter of Telangana chief minister, K Chandrasekhar Rao at a media conclave in July. For which now, on the orders of a lower court in Hyderabad, the city police has booked Kavitha under three different sections of the IPC, one of which is for sedition.
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Yes, there is an error when relating history on Kavitha’s part and equating Hyderabad with Kashmir is certainly wrong. The Maharaja of Kashmir did want to remain independent like the Nizam of Hyderabad. But when the Pakistan raiders overran his kingdom, he turned to India for help and agreed to make his kingdom a part of India.
That was not quite the case with Hyderabad where the Nizam had to be shown the might of India to fall in line. Police action in September 1948 ensured the kingdom of Hyderabad – which is largely present-day Telangana – became part of India. But again here, it was only the Nizam who became a reluctant Indian citizen. Because his subjects fed up of the atrocities committed by the Razakars, wanted Hyderabad to merge with the Indian Union. So to say “forcefully annexed” is not entirely rooted in history. The 7th Nizam, Mir Osman Alik Khan was merely the ruler of Hyderabad, he wasn’t Hyderabad.
The second comment is more of a suggestion, a solution to somehow take things forward. But to make it seem as if PoK is akin to a land having been grabbed and you give up the fight against the land grabber, is not quite the thing to say, more so when you are an MP. This is about patriotism, even if it is a tad impractical. Yes, it is highly unlikely that India would be able to get PoK vacated by Pakistan but you do not agree, like a meek country, to shrink in size. Certainly not a big brother like India.
The intent behind Kavitha’s remarks, to my mind, is not wrong. But they certainly go against the idea of India. An India who is strong. An India where the people mattered more than what an autocratic ruler did. For Kavitha to reduce the issue to a petitioner trying to have his day of glory, is not really what one would expect from someone like her.

The KCR vs CBN battle


By T S Sudhir
They are technically next door neighbours but in the convoluted ten-year lease agreement drawn up between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu also is a non-paying guest in Telangana till June 2, 2024. His landlord, K Chandrasekhar Rao is okay with the arrangement but bristles with indignation when Naidu demands that `his’ and his brethren’s security be taken care of by the Governor and not by KCR. Naidu cites that KCR has an eye on the properties of people who hail from Andhra Pradesh and therefore Naidu does not feel safe in KCR-land.
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The first CM of Telangana accuses Naidu of being a bad guest. “Definitely we will take good care of him. But he thinks he is still the CM of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh which does not exist any more. He needs to get out of his political hangover,” jabs K T Rama Rao, the IT minister of Telangana and also KCR’s son.
The Union government where Chandrababu Naidu is a partner, has sent a proposal to the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments, suggesting the setting up of a Common Police Board. This entails that the board that will consist of the commissionerates of Hyderabad and Cyberabad, will no longer listen to KCR’s orders but that of the Governor. The occupant of Raj Bhavan will also have the right to appoint and transfer any police official within the common capital jurisdiction.
Understandably KCR is upset because while the AP Reorganisation Act mentions that “the responsibility of Governor shall extend to matters such as law and order, internal security” it also states that he shall consult the Telangana ministers and then take a decision. This proposal makes it seem as if the Governor is being made the super CM of Hyderabad city. Under the constitution of India where law and order is a state subject, the Hyderabad arrangement will stick out like a sore thumb.
Only a few days ago, Naidu had written to the Centre complaining that the Telangana government was going after properties of people from Seemandhra. It was a reference to the demolition of buildings in Cyberabad area and also accusing Telugu actor Nagarjuna’s N convention of encroaching on lake area. The TDP is also upset at the manner in which two Telugu news channels – TV9 and ABN – owned by non-Telangana proprietors, have been off air for a month now because they aired content that the TRS government found objectionable.
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KCR believes Naidu is trying to get back at him using the Union government as a shield. The ploy, the TRS thinks, is to weaken the Telangana government so that the TDP-BJP combine has a better electoral chance in 2019. There is already a huge sense of competition that is raging between the two states to attract investment and the elections after five years will also be a test of who fared better.
For now, KCR and Naidu are behaving less like statesmen and more like players in a bitter domestic feud. The bifurcation has done little to heal the wounds and on just about every contentious issue, the two states are like daggers drawn.
Picture abhi baaki hai. 

Why some AP industrialists in Hyderabad are looking east


By T S Sudhir

 

Less than a month since the official division of Andhra Pradesh, many firms established in Hyderabad and in other districts of Telangana state are looking east. Owned by those from the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, their reasons to move out of Telangana however, vary. While some want to be part of the development process of the residuary Andhra Pradesh, others are smelling a good business opportunity if the new state offers generous tax incentives. Some others feel they will be short of opportunities in a Telangana state that will like to give preference to its own entrepreneurs.

 

Sanjay Devulapalli and Sai Ramesh started Malloc Solutions, an IT company, in Hyderabad in 2007. Sanjay is from Telangana while Ramesh is from coastal Andhra. Now with the borders redrawn, the partners have decided to branch out as well. The decision was also motivated by Ramesh’s desire to work out of Visakhapatnam, his hometown. So Malloc Solutions will now set up a unit in the city of destiny in addition to its operations in Hyderabad.

 

“We have been thinking about in the last three months since the elections happened. For me, it was a business decision. If the state of Andhra Pradesh is going to give some exemptions and encourage business, especially since we are into e-governance, we see an opportunity,” says Sanjay Devulapalli. “For me, it was most definitely an emotional decision to go back to Vizag,” says Sai Ramesh.

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The reasons are different for Lakshmi Prasad, prinicipal consultant with Soham IT services. He feels he is being treated as a second-class entrepreneur in Telangana state. 

 

“Yes, we are also going for business reasons but there is an underlying emotional reason as well. I have studied in Nizamabad in Telangana and have been here since 1983. Yet I feel that the manner in which the state is divided, there is now a glass ceiling. The emotional factor is impacting our business. Even the clients are backing out and looking at us as Andhra companies and have second thoughts about doing business with us,” says Prasad.

 

A few entrepreneurs especially in the manufacturing sector, who did not want to be named, said a few Telangana clients are withdrawing orders, indirectly pushing those with Seemandhra roots out. What is worrying them also is the demand of the Telangana Joint action committee that is placing restrictions on the kind of labour they employ. Prof M Kodandaram, Chairman of the TJAC says, “About 70 to 75 per cent of the jobs pertaining to skilled and semi-skilled category should be reserved for local people. This includes operators and people below that.”

 

But not everyone is convinced that shifting to Andhra Pradesh at the moment is a good idea. IT honcho Raghu Sakuru says none of the cities in Andhra Pradesh compare in terms of infrastructure with Hyderabad and therefore, it makes little sense to move out of an established IT centre.

 

But the Chandrababu Naidu government is already gloating over the early gains, in terms of a spike in firms queuing up to register themselves in Andhra Pradesh. “Naidu has international image and is a brand. Industry has confidence on him about permission and law and order. That is why businessmen are more attracted towards Andhra Pradesh,” says C M Ramesh, TDP MP. Jitender Reddy, leader of the TRS parliamentary party pooh-poohs the claim saying Telangana is a new brand while Andhra Pradesh is an established brand. “These are teething problems in Telangana. It is a hare and tortoise story. They will do things in a hurry. We will do it slow and steady,” says Reddy. Telangana IT minister K T Rama Rao is already in overdrive, trying to woo industry to help the government add lustre to Brand Hyderabad. 

 

But just as Rome was not built in one day, Andhra Pradesh will face a long gestation period. Not just infrastructure, even quality manpower faces a question mark in Naidu land and that will prompt many from the state, working in Hyderabad, to stay back despite the problems. But the early flight of entrepreneurship, even if it is a trickle, is not something that will help Telangana’s brand equity.

 

Why Salman Khan is not `Wanted’ by the Owaisis


By T S Sudhir
Move over Salman Rushdie, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) has a new Salman to practise darts on. Salman Khan aka Sallu Bhai.
Ever since Salman Khan kept his commitment to indulge in kite-flying with Narendra Modi and what’s worse, called him a “good man”, the party from Hyderabad has been seething with anger. Little surprise considering Modi is all negative for the Owaisi brothers – Asaduddin and Akbaruddin.
But what’s surprising is that the MIM has chosen to risk asking its followers not to watch `Jai Ho’ that releases this Friday, considering Salman is like God to many youth from the Old city area, who copy his physique, mannerisms and hairstyle. MIM now wants them to change their approach to Salman Khan – from `Maine Pyar Kiya’ to `Maine Pyaar kyon kiya’.
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At a public meeting four days back, party president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi was all fire and brimstone. Targeting the actor with choice expletives, Owaisi dismissed him as a mere “nachle gaane wala actor”. Asking the audience not to watch his “behudapana”, Owaisi said, “Naam Salman rakhne se koyi Salman nahi ban jaata, Salman to Rushdie bhi hai.”
The BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu has dismissed Owaisi’s outburst as a matter of no consequence, accusing him of suffering from Modi-phobia. It indeed does seem surprising that the Owaisis would get so perturbed and worked up over a mere endorsement of Modi by an actor. Are the Owaisis so insecure in their citadel of the Old city area of Hyderabad that they think that a certificate from Salman Khan to Modi would be enough for the BJP to make significant inroads? 
It was also surprising to see the elder Owaisi borrow a leaf out of his younger brother Akbaruddin’s book, in terms of style and rhetoric. Remember, a year ago, Owaisi junior had got into trouble with his alleged communal remarks that were seen as damaging communal harmony. For someone who otherwise stresses on development agenda in his constituency, Asaduddin Owaisi’s vitriol seemed out of sync.
That Salman did not bother to temper his positive remarks about Modi has irked the MIM leaders even more. He made the point in a TV interview that if Modi has been acquitted by the courts, why should he say sorry. That’s a position unacceptable to the MIM. The party decided subsequently that it will not speak on the issue, since that will be akin to giving Salman Khan more publicity, something its leaders decided he did not deserve.
Asaduddin Owaisi explained that even if it had been any other actor, he would have reacted the same way, since Modi is anathema. “It did not have to do with his being a Muslim,” he said. Owaisi described Modi as a “kaatil” and “zaalim” in his speech, an attempt clearly to polarise the Muslim vote in Hyderabad against the BJP’s Hindutva brigade. The response to `Jai Ho’ over the weekend will show how much the Dabangg star is Wanted by his Hyderabadi fan and whether they make a distinction between real and reel life.

When NASA landed in Crater Hyderabad


By Tenali Rama
 
Is it an UFO? Or is it a set created for Krrish 4, wondered people in this southern city of India. An inter-planetary probe, launched by NASA to study the formation and structure of craters in the solar system, has landed in the heart of Hyderabad. Going strictly by scientific parameters, the state-of-the-art instruments on board the rover have chosen craters on Hyderabad roads as the ideal location to conduct the study.

“We are not at all surprised that our rover has landed in this southern Indian city. The circuitry of the onboard computer is programmed in such a way that it locates the most fascinating craters in the planetary system and lands there,” a spokesman of NASA said.

 
But if NASA scientists expected to study the craters of all shapes and sizes in peace, they were in for a rude shock. Telangana votaries have asked NASA to clarify if they support bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and only if they do, they will let them explore the craters. “We feel this is a Seemandhra conspiracy to run down Hyderabad as a centre of craters and prevent investment from flowing into Hyderabad once it becomes capital of Telangana state,” said a Telangana votary.
 
“I want Hyderabad to be given in the same state as it was before 1956. Which means no craters on the roads,” declared K Chandrasekhar Rao of the TRS. “These Andhra rulers have reduced Hyderabad to this state.”
 
Seemandhra activists have meanwhile said Hyderabad should be made the joint capital of Telangana, Seemandhra and NASA. “Our children can join NASA directly in Hyderabad instead of going all the way to the USA,” said a group of MPs. In a representation, the Seemandhra lobby has asked that the Centre should look after the subject of craters in addition to law and order in Hyderabad. Another idea that has been mooted is that the craters should be divided in 60:40 ratio in the common capital of Hyderabad between Seemandhra and Telangana governments. “We can lease out our craters and NASA and earn precious foreign exchange for India,” said a Seemandhra leader. 
 
Former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said it was he who put Hyderabad on the world map. “You are thoroughly mistaken. I got Bill Gates and Bill Clinton to Hyderabad. They praised Hyderabad as a happening city. Today NASA is coming. But it is coming looking for craters. Where we are going? Idi chaala baadhakaram (this is very unfortunate),” Naidu said. The former chief minister has demanded an all-party meeting to discuss NASA’s landing in Hyderabad. 
 
Left parties have called for a Hyderabad bandh, protesting against American imperialism in the heart of India. “Allowing NASA to land in Hyderabad shows that the UPA government has completely sold itself to the Obama administration,” said the CPI and CPM in a joint statement. Meanwhile, Maoist sympathisers have condemned the NASA rover’s arrival, alleging it is an attempt to keep an eye on Maoist activity in the Dandakaranya region from Hyderabad. 
 
(Inspired by a Facebook post by Suresh Dharur)