Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Propaganda Against Venkaiah Naidu.

It has been a long time since I blogged on any topic. There were many chances, but I procrastinated and lost the interest eventually.

But today, I got a chance. So enjoy reading :)

Venkaiah Naidu flagging off Namma Metro. Pic: Indian Express
For the past week or so, social media in Karnataka is abuzz with Venkayya Sakayya (enough of Venkaiah) kind of messages. First there was a big column in Vishwavani. It was followed by other news paper reports and countless memes floating on Facebook and Twitter. TV stations also might be picking it up by now. The core message was to force BJP to not give Venkaiah Naidu, a fourth term to Rajya Sabha from Karnataka. For a casual observer, Venkaiah Naidu is usually in news whether in parliament or his rhyming word speeches, or his frequent photo ops for important events.

Initially I was  not interested in this. Didn't read or comment much on this. But when I saw that it was a well organized movement, just posted one casual tweet.

Of course, my focus was Congress supporters who were sending me tweets for a week. I knew quite well that BJP and JDS supporters were also in this campaign. But I thought I will handle them later :)

Posted a similar message on FB too. I thought it was just one off post on this topic and time for a good night's sleep.

I was surprised with the reaction. It was from all corners. Highly popular FB poster Vivek Shetty picked up this tweet and posted on FB where it went viral. Within hours, 100s of reactions started pouring in. I tried to answer a few dozen initially. Then it became difficult to keep up. Emotions were flying around.. Some abused me.. Small number praised me. Most argued that it is a bad choice to support Naidu.

The fact of the matter is - I have no favourites among the 12 Rajya Sabha MPs from Karnataka. Rather, I hardly care. For me Legislative Council, Rajya Sabha, Governors' offices and President's office are things that are mostly ceremonial. I don't spend much time talking about them. Hence I was very surprised at the amount of interest by youth, particularly the emotion part! How can anyone be so interested suddenly on as trivial thing as reelection of a Rajya Sabha MP? Every 2 years, RS keeps getting people coming and going.. No one really pays much attention, but this was different.

Here is how things went parallelly across Facebook and Twitter. Let me sum up.

I said: Indira Gandhi was also an outsider. So what's the big deal with Venkaiah?
They said: So you are saying BJP can do the same sins that Congress did? What happened to Party with a difference tag?

I said: Not that way. From when did we get so touchy about "outsiders" in Karnataka? Sonia Gandhi won in Ballari (which she dumped quickly). Many "outsiders" have gone to parliament from Karnataka. Why suddenly touchy about Venkaiah's fourth term?
They said: Lok Sabha is different from Rajya Sabha. Here you are nominating, and not getting elected directly.

I said: OK. Then how do you feel about Chikkamagaluru, Karnataka, born Jairam Ramesh going to Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh? He was in RS for 12 years since 2004. Isn't that case exactly reverse of what you are opposing? How do you justify Manmohan Singh becoming India's PM from Asom's RS quota?
They said: Who cares? That is up to people from AP or Asom to oppose.

I said: So you are OK with Sonia Gandhi winning from Karnataka. You think it is their problem if someone elects a Karnataka born person to RS from their state. What is your core issue with Venkaiah?
They said: He does not work for the development of Karnataka. He is too partial towards AP.

I said: OK. Let's examine facts. You know that Karnataka has a quota of 12 RS MPs. Have you even examined how all 12 have done before shooting on Venkaiah?
They said: Again, he has not done anything for Karnataka. That's the point.

I said: Let's go to details. Here are the 12 MPs from Karnataka in Rajya Sabha as of May 2016. Number 9 is vacant as Vijay Mallya was allowed to quit a few weeks ago. Have you done any comparison of how Naidu has fared against the rest? Keep out "Bhakt", "Sanghi" and other blah blah from discussion. Let's compare people across all parties.
List of Karnataka RS MPs - May 2016. Source Wiki
They said: We know that Venkaiah has not given any money towards Bengaluru's development projects. See Vijaya Karnataka and other paper articles.

I said: Let's go straight to the parliament website. The link is here: Then dig into Karnataka MPs using the MPLADS funds. These funds are sanctioned by the government frequently, based on the amount requested for their constituency's development activities. Venkaiah has done a very good job in using 92.35% of the allocated funds, while Rajeev Gowda of Congress has a zero in the utilization percentage! How can you say Venkaiah is not working when there is an MP listed right next to him with zero development funds utilization in 2 years?
Usage of MPLADS funds by Karnataka RS MPs
They said: *Silence for some time*. Yes, it does seem impressive for Venkaiah. But he uses the funds in Andhra. He adopts villages there.

I said: As far as I know, the funds are for the constituency specified by the Rajya Sabha website. He can't use it in another state.
They said: Whatever..  He is too focused on AP. He adopts villages in Andhra, but not in Karnataka where he is an MP from.

I said: Are you sure? Just go to Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana website and see which village he has adopted. It is from Devanahalli, north of Bengaluru city. He might have adopted a village in AP after the cyclone in 2014, but not under Adarsh Gram Yojana.
Village Adopted by Naidu

They said: Oh! We were told by 100s of people that he adopted Andhra village. Anyway... he does not speak Kannada. He does not talk in the parliament about Karnataka matters. He does not wish for Karnataka Rajyotsava.

I said: That's a valid point. We can tell him to wish. We can ask him to pick up matters. For that matter, even Sonia Gandhi who won from Ballari, does not wish for Rajyotsava as far as I have seen.
They said: Just because Congress does some mistakes, why BJP should do it? It was NDA that changed Rajya Sabha rule to elect people from other states.

I said: That's not what I know. MS Gurupadaswamy of Mysuru, got elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh (1966-72). Forget NDA, even BJP wasn't born!
They said: *Silence*. But it is wrong from federal structure. We should only send people who are from that state to Rajya Sabha. Enough of money bags and outsiders using our state and not doing anything for us.

I said: Just to give an instance (not comparing with Venkaiah in any way) - Dr. Ambedkar was from Bombay. Got to parliament from Bengal. Bengalis didn't ask..you failed to get elected from home state. Why should we help?
They said: Hmmn.. we were told that it was BJP that tweaked rules. In any case, both BJP and Congress are useless parties that surrender to Dilli High Command. We wish a regional party like JDS stands up for Kannadigas. High commands enforcing candidates in spite of opposition from people is not right.

I said: Do you even know the kind of people Deve Gowda's Janata Dal sent to Rajya Sabha?
They said: Better people than Hema Malini or outsiders that national parties send.

I said: What did the "local" Janata Dal do? Sent Sindhi Ram Jethmalani, Tamil MAM Ramaswamy and Telugu Kupendra Reddy to Rajya Sabha! Some said they even supported Malayalee Rajeev Chandrashekhar's candidacy (I don't remember properly). How do you justify them?
They said: Now you are deviating.. It is not about language. Reddy is local to Bengaluru at HSR Layout.

I said: So is Venkaiah now. He is a voter from Malleshwaram area. Indian constitution considers him as a resident of Karnataka. So what's the issue?
They said: Frankly, he does not speak for Karnataka issues. He never spoke for Kalasa Banduri issue. He is too focused on AP issues. Why doesn't he go there and get elected?

I said: Now you are talking about real issues. So far I had not come across any valid comparison to be made to other MPs. Let's go further. Let me ask 5 questions on how other MPs from Karnataka have performed recently in Rajya Sabha. Here I go..
They said: *Silence for some time*. You should ask the editor of papers who campaigned against Venkaiah to answer this.

I said: It is not about the editor of newspaper. It is about facts. If you are measuring Venkaiah using some parameters, why not ask the same for others? If you are opposing Venkaiah Naidu's Rajya Sabha reelection, oppose based on data. Show how other 12 Karnataka RS MPs have done better.
They said: This might be a game played by Congress with the help of Media in Karnataka. There could be reasons right from the dynasty at the center of whom Venkaiah is very critical. After media took over, BJP supporters too joined in.

I said: I have not seen anyone telling how Rajeev Gowda (zero MPLADS usage) or Rahaman Khan (no MPLADS used in 14 Mon) are better. How come no one is campaigning against them them? Development is for the state. Who does is secondary.

But as you can imagine... most have made up their mind. I only saw more arguments like he has not done anything, to vocal abuses.. I don't care much about abuses. That only shows the weakness of those who abuse.

But I left these discussions shaking my head.
  • Frankly, I don't care if Venkaiah Naidu goes to parliament from BJP again. 
  • Frankly, I don't care whom Congress or JDS send. At the end it is usually the most influential or money bags that become Rajya Sabha MPs or MLCs at state. We know that!
But what I care is:-
  • how much MPLADS funds is used to Karnataka, by those who are sent. 
  • I care how much attendance they have. 
  • I care about what kind of debates they participate in. 
  • I care about the end result - their constituency's development. What's the use of MPs getting reelected 3-6-9 times from their constituencies, but people continue to live in poor conditions? We have plenty of such examples in Karnataka.

It was too late by the time I realized that too many people have fallen to media propaganda. I have nothing against those who angrily reacted to my tweets or posts. At the end, I want the development of Karnataka, as much as they want. But I was more focusing on the parameters they used and the facts they checked. Some points might be valid, but the overall way in which Venkaiah was made a soft target was strange. Before I raised the data from Rajya Sabha website, most did not even know that there are RS MPs in Karnataka with low to zero MPLADS usage. Media propaganda is very powerful! A fair movement would have been to put all 12 RS MPs side by side, and show why Venkaiah failed in certain areas.

No one did that, or at least I have not seen it! If you did.. let me know. Naidu might be a big failure in reality, but no one is presenting that in a fair manner, with parameters that can be applied to other MPs too. After all, a state's development can't be done by one MP. It is a collective effort. Ultra regionalism without using data to compare MPs, can be dangerous in the long run. Every state would end up doing it, which hurts the nation as a whole.