Prashant Kishor should go for the kill

A success story begins in 1997. Mamata Banerjee quits congress and forms TMC – Trinamool Congress. For the next 10 years, she plays on single digits, 7 or 8 seats. Then in 2006, the then ruling communists jilted their vote base thru aggressive privatisation. The entire communists rank and file moved over to the TMC. The assembly elections in 2011 favoured TMC. It’s 10 years and they are still going strong. 

The lesson learnt is – if the rank and file gets disgruntled, it’s like the edifice of a party getting weakened. Mamata took risks, and got lucky as her party was in the right place and the right time to capitalise on the communist implosion between 2006 to 2011. Mind you, congress was there and they did nothing to exploit the situation.

Quite similar is the situation now, that is presented to Prashant Kishor. The strategist has got a good strategy of taking over the beleaguered congress party or replacing it. And this can be done both from the inside and outside the congress. The moot point is, political cadres are like any individuals – they will always look out for better prospects. 

The talks of getting the party from inside has failed and that was ought to be. After passing a certain great old age, people like to die in their own house. The congress oldies have naturally chosen to go down with the ship. But the ship of congress will not sink. It will only overturn. The old guys will wither away and the rank and file, the youth in the system, will always choose fresh pastures.

After passing a certain great old age, people like to die in their own house.

Prashant Kishor’s proposition should be exciting to the congress’s lower rungs. Now it depends how Prashant Kishor moves hereon. He is unable to cut a deal with the veterans, but the rest of the pack won’t shy away. They will come forward and Prashant Kishor should have a good deal for them. The road ahead will test his deal making skills.

What Parshant Kishor intends is doable. And he has got the timing right. In two years from now there will be a general elections and there is at least a year from now for him to get the formation going. Prashant should remember that the Prime Ministerial face of the new party should be him, and this will make a difference.

Prashant Kishor is known and credible face in both north and south of India. He has got the right visibility and the right successes. Also the right allies. He has the energy, intelligence and the most important concoction in politics – Charisma.

The election of 2024 will be as important as the election of 2014. In 2014, every voter in India went out and voted for Modi. In 2019, those same voters voted Modi again, because they didn’t want their first choice of 2014 to be proved wrong. In 2024, those same voters are going to come out and give Modi a viable opposition.

There is Modi-Fatigue in the air. It is like, he is not playing the big boys, which he should.

Heroes should be adequately challenged. For this to happen, an important thing should happen between now and say, by fall of 2023 – A formation of viable opposition with a credible Prime Ministerial face. Once this is sorted out, the voters of India will make Modi sweat for the third term. 

Prashant Kishor will find this surprising that the same voters who voted for ten years of Modi, are the same who are looking for a new face to launch a challenge back to Modi. This feeling has come about among people because they sense a challenging prospect in him to take on Modi.

If it was congress with Prashant Kishor, it would have been easier and better. Because congress has a structure. But if it’s not congress, it’s still good, because the congress rank and file might join. A decade out of power is not easy to live by. Also, congress’s own bleak future extending into the dark will be unnerving to the youths of congress.

But, structural problems will arise when an old party will break, and hierarchies will be disturbed. Individuals and groups who had earlier followed a party line and obeyed the dicta of “through proper channels,” and “not to speak out of turn” or “not to speak at all” etc., will find themselves rudderless and footloose, besides getting loose-mouthed.

Even when a party has become termite ridden, still, the High-Command does have some heft. It can enforce party discipline. As the great ship of congress overturns, there will be enormous frictional reverberation.

The churn of the “disintegrating rotor of congress” will be centrifugal. How will a new party assimilate and control this force? We will have to see.

Hence, Prashant Kishor will not have the luxury of an organised party going to the polls in unison. And any disruption in the newly formed cadre will be amply and aptly exploited by Modi. So, the poll strategist who analyses numbers for a living, will now have to do the unthinkable – control those numbers to survive.

How will we know whether Prashant Kishor is getting successful in his endeavor? If Modi calls for an early elections. This is one way to stymie a nascent adversary.

Anyhow, Prashant Kishore should bite this bullet and make an exciting next two years, culminating in a hit or a miss. Modi may not have imagined this can happen in 2024, that a force will arise, helped by his own people, to test him. That’s an unusual Opposition.

Politics, as rightly said, is the art of the possible. For Prashant Kishor, possibility has arrived. But does he have the art? 



If politics reacts with bulldozer on illegals, this means, politics also created those illegals. Politics knows who, where, and what are these illegals. The action of bulldozing a vulnerable community smacks of arrogance – I made you, so I can also break you. They already had them marked out.

The question to ponder is – do you think you can be marked out too?

Few think in long terms. “Short-termism” is dominant human nature. People who vie for public offices will need to collect votes. To get votes is their short-term goal. To provide votes is in the illegal’s short term interest. And why not this deal? Livelihood is essential to life, and what better, if it also comes with valid papers.

This is common in India. Legal citizens disappear from the voting list. And illegals get full fledged status to decide on India’s democracy. That is why resistance on NRC – National Register of Citizens. The opposition and the Ruling both feed on the same illegally created electoral base. 

The opposition and the Ruling will both feed on any “created” electoral base. So, dear citizens – Do not expect a solution. Brace for a crash.

When politics are enmeshed in the same mess, what happens when “your settlers turn against you.” The age-old Indian solution is a riot. Breaking some shanty town or even a house (just like, Kangana Ranaut) is seen as sincere heroism in India.

In India, there are religious minorities. And also, linguistic minorities.

Muslims form the major religious minorities in India. Hindus are major linguistic minorities in India. When these two minorities are stacked face to face, it will be found that India has more issues with language than religion. What you see on TV and read on social media about harangue against one particular religion – it is actually to reduce their power and get them sidelined. Once that is achieved – Politics will settle down for real business – Language.

In India, strife and rioting on Language is just round the corner. Politics just have to wrap up the Muslim business first and fast. That is the next level of polarisation. Every polarisation, namely religious, has its limits, and politics will explore other avenues to optimise their returns.

Muslim get highlighted first because they have pan-India identity. They are more grouped. Act in unison. Politics love communities who move in lock-steps. The Hindus of India are bamboozled and hoodwinked into thinking that Islam and Muslims are their enemies. But in-fact, wherever Hindus are linguistic minorities – Muslims in those regions are their greatest allies.

Linguistic Politics will first smudge English Language shop-faces in some anti-English drive. Then they will come for other languages. It’s about time Hindus come to their senses and realise they are playing into some powerful hands and if today Muslims homes are bulldozed, tomorrow it will be their turn.       

Never send to know who the bulldozer razes; it razes thee.

Prashant Kishor should lead Congress

Rahul Gandhi has become a metaphor for a congress liability. But Prashant Kishor, the political entrepreneur, looks at the same congress and sees assets.

Congress is tainted now but not discredited for ever. It’s not a pariah. It still has a standing. It has loyal voters. And congress has an ideology which is middle of the road. This Brand-Equity of congress will always be a potential winner.

The bad-side of being right or left wing is that, over time, these parties have to become more of it. The floor has to keep falling, and the shrill becomes overwhelming over time. Congress bi-partisanship will be the winner in the long run, because there is a limit to polarisation, and population will course-correct to centre.

Prashant Kishor has rightly identified a party which he can take over, if possible. Firstly, he doesn’t need to build from zero. Congress is pan-India. Every “ward” of this country has a congress office. And every office is a resource. There are real estates and human resources of immense value locked inside the party. In the balance sheet of politics, congress is more asset rich. The things that need attention are the liabilities which inhabit the top and its cash flow.

A decline in congress can be identified with decline in its patronage. Political parties run on donations. The sustenance of the vast structure like congress needs capital infusion. And people who matter will pay only if their payments matter to them. Investors expect returns on investment.

2024 will be 10 years since congress lost power, from the Centre and in many states. Congress needs a strong energetic character to get the party into back into winning ways. Also, anyone leading shouldn’t bear baggage and name which disadvantages them at the starting line itself.

Unlike Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee, both successful political entrepreneurs who established their own party, Prashant Kishor has an advantage of an all-India profile. Instead of a state or two, he can go the whole country. This idea seems difficult but it’s doable. It shouldn’t be a question of courage, as he has nothing to lose. It’s the question of his insight – which, working with political parties, he should have great inklings by now.

Politics senses fast, and the congress old guards must have foreseen what Prashant Kishor intends. And they will put up a fight, not to defend the Gandhis, but to protect their turf. This is where Prashant’s deal making ability will be tested. He has to have an attractive proposition to draw attention and money into the party and score a few wins, or at least, get the vote share up.

Prashant Kishor realises it’s time to parley his new found aura and attention for a significant political office. His new-found fame has a half-life and will erode soon. Congress is steer-less, the top-dogs are without bark or bite. Once the head is replaced, the rest of the body can be restored to health. Modi can have a pan-India opposition in 2024 which he may not have foreseen.

Prashant Kishore has a plan – and his opportunity is now to take over the congress.

Russia Baiting

The western media’s propaganda is unraveling. They say – Russia is going from defeat to defeat, Ukraine from victory to victory. Strange. Is Ukraine so good and Russia so bad?

Or, its all one-sided media?

Where is the Russian side? Its blocked. The Chinese are relaying the Russian news but few have access to it. And here is a strange phenomena. We, the people of the “English-speaking non-western world” has been trained to discount the non-western news. So we don’t believe if the source is Chinese or Russian. or Indian. We will believe the BBC – the metaphor for all that is west.

But this war is not without precedence of a buildup. We came to know of Russian Buildup only late last year, Dec 2021. But before that, and since 5 years prior, the western world has been priming up the world against Putin. But the advocacy was so nuanced and suave, that the buildup of the west escaped notice.

During the elections when Trump won, 2016, the west has aggressively pushed the propaganda that – It’s the Russian – when in fact, it was the US domestic state of affairs which drove their people towards Trump. A later grand inquiry trying to link Trump and Putin came a caper.

But it does show that some game is on in the White House. There is a immense data on the net called Putin Files (link here) which forwards the agenda of Putin’s culpability for all the ills in the US and the western world, the NATO members. The bias is pushed by US state media PBS.

The plan (of the Putin Files) seems to be – to use rudimentary information about Putin and then give it a spin, in many voluminous words. In broad sense, the screed is – Putin was KGB officer who detested the loss of the Soviet Union, and now, he wants to recreate the Union back, finally, he will go any length to achieve his aims. In videos after videos, the “Experts” appear on-screen, mostly in dark suit and dark background, and reply to questions asked by an invisible interviewer.

The mood created for the shows (Putin Files) is designed to be ominous. And this has been going on since the Trump years – to broadcast tall anti-Russian tales and proliferate the social climate. There is enough history of last 100 years (or even more) to show that the US and the west can cite scriptures to sell it as a deal.

But some day – and it could be now – the world will wake up and call their bluff.

The United States, together with their European friends had a misfortune of two decades of fruitless and profitless wars. In Iraq, they tried to setup institutions, so that, those institutions would, in turn, tax its people to pay for western arms. Then again in Afghanistan – they tried their best to set up tax-capable institutions.

In Pakistan, fortunately, the west has good shops – construction and arms.

The west vouch for democracy for a reason – as a hedge against financial failures. Should any imposed Government (Iraq, Afghanistan) decide not to pay for arms with the tax so collected, the levers of the second party can be pressed and energized to take over the tax regime and continue the money flow.

None of their ploy worked in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both resisted institutions. Both remained penurious. Unfortunately for the west, the population of Iraq and Afghanistan, get bootlegged arms, or prefer Russian made Kalashnikov, or cheap but effective Chinese.

In Ukraine, the west has wholesome tax paying population, good institutions to carry forward a tax regime to pay for western arms and Democracy, if in case one party reneges. And now Ukraine has a complaint population hoodwinked into a conflict they could have done without.

It is becoming clearer that its not Putin that has erred, but Zelenskyy. His political naiveté has dropped him into the arms of people, who are out collecting money. This makes people like Trump a Truth-Teller. Trump once commented that NATO members should pay for the security which US provides, instead of “freeloading.” (Link Here)

Russia will continue to have what it has. The west, which has been harping against the Russians, has finally found center-stage. The world will do itself a favor when the west loses this time.

The already NATO members were ticketless travellers who had armed themselves with Article 5. Now, Zolenskyy’s impetuousness will make every NATO member pay for it.

Putin needs no Face-Saver to withdraw

Withdrawal of Military takes decades. And demolishing one adversary, invariably raises another.

In 1945, US and Russians finished Hitler and Nazis in toto. But thereafter, both of them stood facing against each other for the next 45 years.

US entered Vietnam in 1965 to stop the communists. Very quickly they knew they can’t win. But it took the US another 10 years, and one roof, to get out of Saigon.
See BBC documentary “Last Days of Vietnam” (Link: )

US is an experienced cut-and-run power. On the other hand, Russia has a history to provide the conquered, a functional government, albeit a stooge.

The West understands Putin’s angst of a NATO missile next door to Moscow. They have had similar experience in 1962, when Russia (then USSR) decided to place nuclear capable missiles in Cuba, next-door to US. The hue and cry and Hollywood movies still reverberate to this day. But when Russia does the same and warns Ukraine to strike neutrality – see the about-face of the same west.

But international politics (or any power politics) is not about whereaboutary. Its what is possible, and what can be successfully backed. The west has dollars, they have innovations, they have the clout. They will win even if they are not right. They can pull it off. Can Russia?

Russia has advantages. It does not have baggage of Democracy. It does not need “Face-Savers” to withdraw. The ignominy of a retreating force is not going to play in Moscow. Putin is for life.

And till now, Putin has made his point. The west will rethink NATO memberships for past Soviet satellites, particularly those bordering Russia, like Finland.

What the Russians are doing in Ukraine is not what they are cut out to do. This is not how they make wars. Russian wars are scorched earth. But in Ukraine they are intimidating. Probably they expected the government to run away or acquiesce but they found a leader in Zelenskyy who has dug himself.

Its a bizarre situation. Zelenskyy, the newbie, messed up Putin, the KGB.

Ukraine claimed joining NATO, even when NATO does not prefer this as it would offend Moscow. Putin should stop short when NATO still regards the Russian stance. Further push will give a ruse or alternative to NATO to disregard.

What should Putin do now? Should he go in all-guns-blazing? Or should he withdraw?

Firstly, should Putin decide to scorch, he will have in hand a charred territory which he cannot abandon. Otherwise, the west will enter. Either his bulwark is the compliant population of Ukraine, or his occupying troops, or his population planted from Russia. Its a devil and deep blue sea situation. His choices are numerous yet restrictive.

Secondly, should he decide to back off, he will have a disgruntled territory. More pro-west. But Putin can use a few silver lining of this cloud. For one, his sagacity to withdraw early will be taken note of. Now everyone expects at least a decade of strife. Putin can disappoint them. If Putin is intelligent he will self-preserve. He will also surprise the west, who, after few days of glee, mirth and chest thumping may well settle down for business as usual.

This has happened before. It can happen again.

As long as Russian oil and gas is important for Europe, Moscow will be important too.

Putin’s Ukraine

After reading many experts about the War in Ukraine, I’ve decided to forward my own theory. Let me set it up.

Imagine you are at a spot, possessing a chunk of meat and you’re surrounded by gnashing hungry wolves. To ward off the pack, you cut a piece from the chunk and lob it at a distance. Immediately, the wolves race towards the grub only to come back back unsatisfied for more. And you repeat the trick again. Also consider, you have unlimited supply of meat.

Just keep this scenario in mind. You’ll need it later to understand my point.

Putin got Russian power in 1999 and almost immediately he hoisted one chunk of meat towards Chechnya, a small blob of land between the Black and the Caspian sea. Although Chechnya wanted Russia off their back since 1994, but when Putin came, he reduced Chechnya to ashes by 2000. NATO kept their mouths shut.

In 2008, Putin lobbed another chunk towards Georgia, another land between the same seas as Chechnya, and reduced that to the ground. NATO kept their mouths shut.

In 2014, well, another flesh was thrown towards Crimea, then, a part of Ukraine floating in the Black sea. This time, NATO made some noise followed by some half-hearted sanctions.

Cut to 2022, a huge chunk of Putin’s meat has now fallen on Ukraine. This time NATO and Biden both seems to have woken up (and Biden more so) and there are widespread sanctions. But the problem is, when winter comes next, in September/October, will the Europeans burn wood/coal for heating. This will put climate change and Greta Thunberg down into the deep end of the Black sea.

What is significant is the frequency of Putin’s “meat-chuck.” His attacks follow a pattern of every 6 to 8 years. Which means (and again this is my theory) the next Putin’s attack will happen between 2028 and 2030. Remember, he is President for life. I’ll leave it to you to guess the country, although I have some inkling as to which it is.

My theory takes the approach of a behavioral view. Putin seems to be doing something or the other – like, becoming President, then becoming Prime Minister and electing his own President, and then becoming President and electing his won Prime Minister. Finally, and are getting fed up of all these jigree-pugree, he settled the matter by amending the Constitution and made himself for life. Yes, he made himself for life.

If one is inhabiting the center of power, its unlikely that one is inhabiting a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum – so the adage goes, and Putin’s effort to inhabit a perpetual power center will always be challenged. Hence, the jigree-pugree – and hence the periodic hoisting chunks of meat to challenging wolves.

When the pressure on Putin’s spot grows unbearable, Putin declares some war here or there. The guy is actually buying time and relief. His excuses for war may be bunk but his intent is clear.

Similarly, NATO and the west are manufacturing their own bunk. There are immense number of articles and Op-Eds giving pretty brainy pieces as to why Putin is wrong and the West is right etc. But does Putin care? I don’t think so. He should be enjoying a Russian SPA with his problems far off his back.

Contrary to western media, Putin wouldn’t desire a quick victory. As Russian winter can be weaponized, so can European Winter. And – winter is coming.

When any country is at war, the power radiates out. Besides, the Boss can veto extraneous interventions (those oligarchies always want a treat) and take extra judicial measures (just throw the bother in jail). Peace in a dictatorial country is unnerving, with idle army and Generals and Oligarchs radiating their attention towards power (read Putin). Power sprouts parasites and its better to get the moochers feast on some distant land. Throw those wolves some bones.

Putin is threatened by Russian Oligarchs. The west banning and sanctioning “Putin’s oligarchs” serves Putin, as it weakens his adversaries. Banning Russian gas pipe lines trims the wealth of people who can contest Putin. Remember China’s blowback on their Tech-Industry.

During Chechnya, Georgia, and Crimea, the western powers watched the takeover and sat mute. This may not have suited Putin. This time, Putin got what he desired – Western Involvement. So, war in Ukraine will smolder, and probably this way The European Union can get their heat in winter to warm their homes.

Putin’s problem is not NATO or Ukraine. Putin’s problem is not Putin. Putin’s problem is his challengers – which, to us, are unknown, unreported, unwritten – but clearly visible to Putin.

The general cry is – Putin is stuck in Ukraine! But no, he is not. The Ukraine-like situation, a stalemate, is just the recipe Putin will savor.

Arun Shourie and his inverted commas

Arun Shourie, who loves himself as “Commissioner of lost causes” has also named his latest book so. His has been a long life as a writer of “Research Papers.” All his writings have a distinct feel. He extensively quotes others, using their words under inverted commas, and then he joins those quotes with his own comments.

His style of writing, I presume, would require extensive readings and note taking and then organizing those notes into coherent thoughts. Whenever he has an agenda, he mines knowledge to speak his case. What the reader gets to read is – and one can imagine – innumerable sages, and saints, and seers, and experts, all speaking “for Arun Shourie” and forwarding and supporting his views.

Allies can be people as well as their thoughts. Either get someone to speak for you or quote their thoughts to back up what you want to say.

Besides, he can make other writers (and judgments) speak against themselves by breaking their writings in chunks (under inverted commas) and then filling it up with his own arguments and counter arguments.

This is clever. But, is it right? If someone is defeated out of his wits, is he really defeated out of his good ideas? Are clever talks really fruitful?

The problem with Arun Shourie’s style of writing is that it is not aimed to convince, but to arm. It helps the already converted and fortifies them with ideas and words, so they feel stronger with cogent arguments. Anyone antagonistic to Islam, or government(anti-congress before 2014) will devourer Shourie and feel elated to win arguments in their dreams, enlightened by Shourie.

In Bofors corruption case of 1987, the readers were not required to be convinced. The readers of India “knew all along” that Congress is corrupt. What they wanted were arguments and doubts played against each other. The more circumlocutory the articles in the papers, the more authentic it seemed and the more polarizing the effect. Readers lapped it up. The government fell. Shourie earned a name for himself and a party who rewarded him with office.

As a Disinvestment Minister in NDA Vajpayee Govt. in 2002, Arun Shourie sold Mumbai Airport Centaur Hotel to Batra Hospitality for Rs.83 crores, and in 4 months, Batra Hospitality resold the property to Sahara Hospitality Pvt. Ltd for Rs.115 crores. This is just one of his many highly suspicious actions. Chidambaram opened a case against him. BJP protected him till 2014.

It was a good strategy by Modi to distance Shourie, as any corruption laden Cabinet Minister would cloud his first term in office. Besides, “untainted” Chidambaram was watching. But in Modi second term, in 2019, and with Chidambaram freshly “tainted,” Modi paid a visit to the ailing Shourie at his residence in Lavasa, Pune. This is suspicious action, which shows there is more hidden in Shourie’s stance. Is he playing the Devils advocate? By positioning himself against the government, he may be weakening the opposition, because the ruling party can always negotiate in-camera with Shourie and blunt any opposition attack.

There is a history of Shourie. It is in his family.

Arun Shourie belongs to a family, what Modi calls – Andolan-Jivi, one who thrives on protests. Arun Shourie’s father HD Shourie, was a well-known consumer activist and also Civil Servant, and Padma Bhushan and Vibhushan. And HD Shourie got prominence via activism. His daughter, (Arun’s sister) is the journalist Nalini Singh, another activist.

Arun Shourie’s also had a counterpart – Ram Jethmalani and his periodic “10-Questions to Rajiv Gandhi” was a classic rabble-rouser. It created more doubts about Bofors than provide any lead. It may have been the first case where “Nation wants to know” theme was evolved, as only questions were raised and no answers were expected. Such doubt mongering always leads to demagoguery. Besides, it garnishes images of people who later become ambiguous themselves.

The brand of activism that Arun Shourie pursues worked best during paper media days – those days when Members of Parliament used to wave Newspapers in the Parliament (and also in state assemblies), as unqualified proof of scam or scandal. There was a time when national newspapers were held as credible and anything printed in it, as metaphor for fact and truth. But its claims were uncontested. Letters to the editor was the only means to point out their lacuna, but those too were sanitized.

These days of social media, no news goes uncontested. Every lede has innumerable counters. Although most comments are plain drivels and invective, but some write well to inform. But all-together, the waves and waves of voices, called “trolling,” those unending threads of gifs and emojis, help digress and deflect any issue to oblivion.

Modi is lucky because when he appeared on the national scene in 2012/2013, the social media climate was ripe in India. People were very active on Facebook and Twitter. Hence, Mody not only got support on the day of voting, but before and after and since, all thanks to Social Media. For any paper or media denouncing Modi, there exists armies in social media ready to troll support.

Contrast the above scenario with the time when Arun Shourie (and Ram Jethmalani) wrote in one paper, others followed and added to the scribe and there was no counter. At that time, the politicians did what politicians do, but the masses who read those “wordplays” had no recourse except chat among themselves.

Arun Shourie had his readership, his listeners, followers, admirers. It appears that he had a greed for an office, but when not rewarded by Modi in 2014, he turned against. But he made a mistake of making a very sharp U-turn. Till the eve of government formation in 2014, Arun Shourie was all for Modi. Post-this period, he became all against. This fact is not lost on his x-followers, now turned his haters. There are innumerable YouTube videos of 2014 and 2015, and his dichotomy is absolutely visible for all to view.

The problem now is – Arun Shourie may be speaking the truth, but his reputational loss has made him a Cassandra. Anything in this world can be argued from both sides – for and against. But any convincing argument’s first principal is – The Person Himself.

People may or may not read Arun Shourie for the truth. Who knows the truth? Everyone establishes his own. But Shourie’s brilliance is in his arguments. He brings into his writings a tremendous amount of erudition. His sources are big, heavy, ancient. But, unfortunately, he was once on a man to mouth it. Now when he attempts the same, it sounds like a cant.

Shourie shows how one can use others’ words, either to beat others or best himself.