Malice Towards All

For Maharashtrians, the subject is palatable and inquisitive. Therefore even the storm in the tea cup has subsided, all round postmortem continues.

Just last week, Pratap Bhanu Mehta dwelt on rot in Maharashtra. Later, Kumar Ketkar spent time writing on Bal Thackeray and Sharad Pawar’s politics.

Of late, the rest of India has been in habit to put to test Maharashtrains on the insider-outsider row. Unfortunately, to me, this state has been consistent enough to explore new low in this test. And the blame is to be solely shared by us alone.

To our fault, Maharashtra always overestimated its leaders ranging from Thackeray to Pawar. Parochialism is so ingrained in us that selection of dud like Nitin Gadakari as BJP president makes us revel in stead of questioning his qualities. When Marathi Vikram Pandit, who I doubt even has visited Maharashtra in decades, took charge of Citibank, we fired crackers. The otherwise routine story: Jockey Vijay Shiker winning the derby race, gets more than deserved place just because winner is Marathi. Hah!

We always contributed Shiv sena in legitimizing its sins. We are in the habit to call Thackeray’s purr; a roar, his abuse; a quintessential Thackeray-shaily (style), and his sins; a dare, often labeled after Hitler, to whom the sena chief take pride in idolizing. There isn’t the need to spend additional space on Raj, who belongs to the same ilk.

We believed, Thackeray Sr. stood by his principals; the principals he never actually followed. To enunciate, his flip-flop on Sharad Pawar and the penchant to offer RS seats to Uttar Bhartiyas.

He always squeezed controversies to remain in focus. Thackeray took on P K Atre (by caricaturing him Worli cha dukkar – Worli’s pig), P L Deshpande (for his remarks: Hee Shivshahi nasun Thokshahi aahe – this isn’t the Shivaji-like governed rule but a mobocracy) and Sachin Tendulkar (for innocuous remarks: Mumbai belongs to India). Many saw, by taking on stalwarts, Thackeray stood by his principals. The truth was he strived to derive maximum mileage. But, in such attempts too, Thackeray failed as in 45 years of Sena, he could rule the state only once – for 5 years.

Ketkar liken Thackeray with Ayatollah Khomeini. I consider this an over-valued sobriquet. Khomeini controlled entire Iran, no mater how flawed principals he harboured. Thackeray on the other hand could not keep his own house in order, though he has credit to his side of saving Maharashtra from dividing on caste lines. But then that too was in Thackeray’s own interests, especially when different sects had loyalties to different parties.

Maharashtra’s another big leader (notionally) is Sharad Pawar. Mehta argues: “Pawar, once a politician of considerable promise, has proved to be one of the biggest spoilers in modern Indian politics.” How true.

Maharashtra always assessed Pawar too highly. His power tactics were flop, fetching him nothing concrete. All his gambles to win primeministership failed. He was reduced to regional leader, while his party left to chant Marathi. On the administrative note too, he hardly did anything to prove his mettle. He often flexed his secular credentials, but in reality, divided Maharashtra on caste lines. And all through, we kept calling Pawar the Maratha-warlord, the master of Indian politics, the Janata Raja (sobriquet earned by Shivaji).

If Maharashtra knows anything, that is to harp on regional values. Nothing wrong in being proud of such rich values. The problem is: in exaggeration, Maharashtrains can’t sell those values beyond a point.

While Blaming Maharashtra, I accept that I am party to it. More than twice because just few days back, I preached friend through her blog, not to rant.

The Great Cogeneration Scam

It’s a scam worth Rs. 5000 crores. It is also a classic case of how politicians create a situation and exploit it to their best. It also tells us why opposition parties don’t win elections even when ruling parties are impotent, busy serving own interests.

In this game, ruling parties calls the shots, to which opposition react in a customized way.
Initially, they create electricity shortfall. Then, just when we think of desperate measures to bridge power gap, these politicians come up with solution.

Solution: Politicians in power running the cooperative sugar mills are to generate some 1200 mw power by setting up cogeneration plants within their sugar factories. These politicians then allow 55 such factories, some of them controlled by ministers while few by opposition.

To set up plants, rulers make provision of subsidized fund worth Rs. 5000 crore. The capital and subsidy is to be borne by taxpayers. It is fine if the mills are to sell their power mandatory to state owned utility to meet shortfall.

But, mantris, tacitly change the original government resolution. They allow themselves to sell power in open market, which offers far higher rates and sell it in return with proportionate profits. This way, politicians indulge into profiteering.

Curiously, all through the process, opposition is conspicuously silent. No wonder they too have their share.

So while guarding the private interests, public interest sustains severely dent.

My report on this in Hindustan Times to read minister's reaction: