Hamara khoon khoon hai, tumhara khoon paani!



I did not know when I was a kid; I still do not know too well even now –– do I believe in a God and if I do, in which God. I go along with the family in their prayers and rituals but if I ever really prayed to anyone for something in my life it was to Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi.

“Huh?” asked my stupefied friend as I narrated my deepest thoughts to her one day. “What do you mean?”

So I told her. One day, during school exams, some or the other political party was demonstrating across the main squares of Nagpur, where I grew up. My father had to divert to take me to the exam center on time and we passed by the Jhansi Square which had an imposing statue of the Rani of Jhansi on a pedestal that must have been at least ten feet high. I do not remember now which subject it was but still recall the butterflies in my tummy that morning. As my father’s car stopped at the junction, I looked up at the statue and on impulse asked the Rani of Jhansi to help me answer the paper well.

To my utter surprise, the paper was easy and there was not a single question there that stumped me. That was the beginning of my worship of the Rani of Jhansi and no one could shake my faith in her. My father, an atheist, I remember, was highly irritated at that blind faith and told my mother, “At least if she believed in one of the regular Gods that would be normal. But what is this obsession with Jhansi Ki Rani!”

His irritation was justified – after all he had to divert every morning after that and take the longer route to drop me off and even stop at the junction for a few minutes while I prayed to the brave queen. But no amount of anger, ridicule or rationalism stopped me from dipping my head to Laxmibai each morning. For years later, I remember, I always diverted to pass by the statue whenever I was in doubt, though as I grew older I realised she was just a historical character and not the Goddess I had made of her in my mind. But my reverence for the Rani of Jhansi never ceased, even as I added others gods to my pantheon of those to be worshipped and believed in.

So I was much cut up and horrified when Nitin Gadkari, as Maharashra’s Minister for Public Works, in the late Nineties, brought Laxmibai down from her pedestal and parked her in an obscure corner of the street, unintrusive and unnoticed even today by many who wonder why the square is known as Jhansi Square.

Gadkari was building a flyover from the Nagpur airport to the city centre and he not just moved the Rani of Jhansi out of his way but had little qualms in dispatching Mahatma Gandhi, too, from the Gandhi Chowk to a small bylane off the main square. I remember furiously searching for Gandhiji when I noticed on one of my infrequent visits to that market area and I asked the local politicians if they had protested. They shook their heads. “He just did not give us the opportunity. It was all done overnight and was a fait accompli before we realised what had happened. When we tried to raise the issue later, he said he could let nothing stand in the way of development.”

I believed them simply because Gadkari had similarly bulldozed the homes of villagers in the way of the Bombay-Poona Expressway in the –- well you guessed it! -– interest of development. The Expressway had been conceptualised by Sharad Pawar but he could not get any work done on it during his tenure as Chief Minister because the rehabilitation of the villagers was posing a concern. Before he could sort it out his government was out and the Shiv Sena-BJP regime in. Gadkari today gets kudos for making the Expreswway happen but the fact remains that the resentful displaced villagers then turned dacoits on the Expressway and robbed and killed hundreds of motorists before the government realised they were no professional dacoits — merely, hungry and angry rural rustics who wanted to avenge themselves of motorcar owners for whom they were deprived of their livelihood. There are highway patrols now on the Expressway and the current government is still sorting out the issue of their rehabilitation.

I recount all this now only because the developers of the Bombay airport have applied to the Bombay Municipal Corporation to move the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (by no means the only one in Bombay) some yards away from the airport as it is getting in the way of its expansion. And, yes, you guessed it right again, the Shiv Sena is threatening an agitation if this particular Chhatrapati Shivaji (installed in 1999) is found a new home on another crossing — though it will still be close enough to the airport to justify its naming after the Maratha warrior king.

The question I now ask is: was it ok to shift national icons like Mahatma Gandhi and Rani Laxmibai quite out of the way (they were the sole statues of these figures in Nagpur) and trample over the livelihoods of living, breathing people to bring about the development of roads when it is such an outrage to seek the shifting of just one of the many statues of Shivaji Maharaj in Bombay (there are more prominent ones at Shivaji Park and the Gateway of India, after all) in the interest of giving Bombay an airport of international standards?

I do not know how this controversy will pan out (after all its gives the Shiv Sena another issue to reinforce their raison d’etre and adds grist to their mill – they are unlikely to let go without at least a roar or two), but it just reinforces what I have always thought about the saffron parties: they believe hamara khoon khoon hai aur tumhara khoon paani!

While they are now baying for the blood of Afzal Guru and faulting the Congress for keeping him alive, do they forget that it is during their regime that some of the worst attacks like on parliament (in which Afzal Guru was involved) and Akshardham (with Narendra Modi presiding over Gujarat) happened? Of course, 26/11 surpassed all those attacks but we did see two home ministers and a chief minister resign after that. Vajpayee and Modi, however, continued to reign as PM and CM despite everything (and let me not rake the ashes of 2002 here again).

Yes. The saffron brigade does have two yardsticks for the same measure!

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  • nikunj

    If infrastructure has to b created than people will have to b moved, there is just no other way, or is there some magical way to develop without building roads?
    The point of this articles seems to b to demolish Gadkari’s claims of development, he was a successful minister by most standards but the journalist cant digest that, how can someone frm the saffron brigade b a good guy right?..only Congress can do good, this kind of third rate n unabashedly biased journalism is typical now, but dont underestimate the reader, he know which politician worked, who did not, who made money n who is good fr the country!
    Whats sad is that this kind of violence passes off as journalism in this country

    [Reply]

    Ziauddin Shafi Reply:

    For removing people from one place to another, if you are a human being, you would provide them a proper place and enough cash to move their homes and businesses – that is if you believe in basic democracy and have elementary humanity in you. Such costs can always be factored into the budget of the project for which such placement is needed. Of course to do all this, one has to be a human being and that too an honest one – such a combination is not to be found in our country, unfortunately.

    [Reply]

    Kishan Reply:

    Strange logic used by Sujata. Didn’t expect such stupidity from her. Is Gadkari equal to Shiv Sena?
    She shows further stupidity ( do all writers become stupid when they try to wear a secular, anti-BJP cap?) by equating Afzal Guru’s sentencing by the Supreme Court and Congress dragging its feet on it to terror attacks by Pakistan based groups. Does she mean that the attacks during NDA rule were stage-managed by them ?
    This is disgusting !
    Has she written this piece under influence of some kind of drugs?

    [Reply]

    nikunj Reply:

    Industrialization is a painful process. Where ever it has taken place (Europe, U.S. East Asia) it has been authoritarian. We have a choice between 2 models, either follow Gujarat Model which pursues ruthless industrialization but ensures prosperity or follow Bengal model which talks for the poor but ends up doing nothing for them.
    Dont be so cynical, there r honest politicians, The PM, Pranab da, Narendra Modi,Nitish Kumar, Buddhadeb, Mamata, Advani n many more are all clean

    [Reply]

    Ziauddin Shafi Reply:

    The person in question (Gadkari) who happens to be in BJP’s top boss these days. However, the apathy to common man’s troubles is found in all politicians across the board. How many natural disaster victims, communal riot victims, industrial accident vicitims, train accident victims and the rest have received any worthwhile compensation till date? How many people employed by the NREGA scheme get to see some dough at the end of the day? How many Indians simply cheat and rob fellow unsuspecting indians daily? This is where the RSS have failed – they could have built up the character of their followers all over the country – instead they have just inculcated hatred of muslims and other minorities; otherwise the RSS would have been a premier organization which would have been held in great esteem by all Indians.

    [Reply]

    nikunj Reply:

    Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a man of great character, but i agree with u, RSS should accept Muslims as equals n definitely not tolerate bigots like Praveen Togadia. I think the Hindutva mind has the potential to broaden n accept Muslims. I cant imagine people as educated as Advani n M M Joshi r in real life prejudiced against Muslims, I think they only do it for votes. But on the whole, I still think BJP is better than Congress n when it comes to governance, best option. Dont forget that Muslims in Narendra modi’s Gujarat have higher per capita income than in secular West Bengal.

    [Reply]

  • Vikram

    “resentful displaced villagers then turned dacoits on the Expressway and robbed and killed hundreds of motorists ” well that seems to be a bit exaggerated.

    [Reply]

    nikunj Reply:

    I live in Bombay n have used the expressway to Pune a couple of times, hundreds of motorists killed is complete nonsense. Even if a BJP man builds roads its a bad thing, amazing logic?

    [Reply]

    Ishmart Alec Reply:

    Rotf….Amazing logic. Hundreds of motorists killed (to be honest, there may be some truth in that they got killed………… but in all probability due to road accidents on the expressway)….

    BJP (read any non-congress/Sonia person/entity) bashing is the latest “in” thing with everyone with a mike or a pen(or a blog). In this case, with a nice start of a childhood memory. Congress agents are all over the place, in TV/Paper media and now on blogs too. The fact that Congress has perfected the art of media management is no secret. Too bad, BJP only had Pramod Mahajan to do this job. No one seems to have justifiably replaced him.

    The response to the Bandh should be reason enough to understand that no amount of media tricks will change the ground realities. No wonder there is overt emphasis on the trouble valley violence (with all due respect to its importance to our nation) to take the spotlight off of the inflation and other pressing issues.

    Its indeed tumhara khoon khoon hamaraa khoon paani. But the other way around

    [Reply]

    nikunj Reply:

    haha well said…i think journalists should understand that BJP is actually the party of governance. All NDA ruled states like Bihar,Gujarat, MP r doin exceptionally well. Vajpayee government was in my opinion the best government India has ever had, so many reforms took place. Infact proliferation of media happened cause Arun Shourie liberalized the sector otherwise we would only have DD.

    Harish Reply:

    This woman is pure ugly trash. I have spoken to her several times and she is simply an imbecile. This is the same ugly thing who had in a complaining tone in the aftermath of the Mumbai train blasts lamented at the fact that Muslims had not killed all the Gujus in Mumbai. This article was published in the Hindustan Times and I had then complained to Vir Sanghvi about it and he gave me her direct telephone no and asked me to talk directly to her . She simply started making funny loud noises and started making fun of me. Such are the Guju hating trash the rags like Hindustan Times employ, the other one being Vinod Sharma. They only try to be reasonable in public. Try talking to them in private and see what kind of low level people these are.

    [Reply]

  • Dinesh

    Even if “wrongs” done/happened under one government are less than “wrongs” done/happened under another governments, “wrongs” still remain “wrongs”.
    We all know why Shiv Sena is doing what it is doing. Don’t these parties have think-tanks which will advice them about their actions and their impact.

    As you may be aware, PM, NSA and HM , all 3 of them knew well in advance about the possibility of attack like 26/11 with sufficient details. Nobody took action. Why because our intelligence agency reports can’t be trusted. If this is the case why not increase the accuracy of those agencies. Regarding resignations, well it has been Congress Party’s policy to make one or the other guy as scapegoat and escape the blame.

    It was equally wrong on part of Delhi Congress to sit on Afzal Guru’s file and delay the court sentence. Nitish Kumar bending over backwards to appease muslim vote bank by sending back 5 crores. If development is the main issue in Bihar then why are politicians even talking about pseudo-secular tactics.

    I believe journalist’s duty should be to strip off the rhetoric and provide the bare news/incidents rather than pitting one group/ideology against another.

    [Reply]

  • perpetual.dilettante

    Another piece of extremely biased journalism. “…and robbed and killed hundreds of motorists..” is an exaggeration. The fact remains that Gadkari does come in with the reputation of being an excellent administrator. Surely, one can always argue that things could have been done better for any project. But the fact of the matter is that none of the ministers were able to get the Expressway project moving, and Gadkari did an efficient job with the project. The same project is now an engine for growth and economic activity, supporting thousands if not more, in both Mumbai and Pune.
    Similarly, the non-sequitur argument around Afzal Guru is juvenile at best. BJP’s absolute inability to deal with internal security definitely does not mean that they should not be drawing attention to the flawed treatment of this issue by Congress, resulting from its vested interests around vote-bank and regressive politics.

    [Reply]

  • ishwar

    Another absurd article in HT which would give tough competition to others in BJP bashing.

    Looks like to be a journo at HT, you have to:
    a) Guard the doors of 10 Janpath like pet-dogs
    b) Abuse BJP and its allies, frequently
    c) Belieive that you are 10 times better than you actually are, and
    d) Compete with others in licking the feet of madam S.

    [Reply]

  • Sujay

    I really wonder how can HT still allow this unabashed biased jouranlism. Amazingly Ms. Anandan always drags Sharad Pawar in almost all her articles and throws some amusing praise.
    Even in this article, she has declared expressway to be the brainchild of Pawar.
    I want to ask few questions to Ms. Anandan-
    1. Mr. Pawar has been at the center of Maharashtra politics over last 30 years. He has been one of the most powerful persons in India. What is ‘one’ great thing he has done for Maharashtra?
    2. Pawar has always been playing the ‘third front’ card whenever he is cornered. What is your opinion about such blackmailing?
    3. He is also supporting dynasty by bringing his nephew and daughter in. His nephew is considered to be one of the most corrupt persons. What’s your take?
    4. Pawar was cornered in Telgi scam and now in IPL scap. He seems to have got out of it. Thanks to his media management skills and journalists like you. Why could not you follow up on that issue?
    5. Pawar has also played ‘King Shivaji’ card. NCP’s sister concern- Sambhaji Brigade burnt one of the most reputed and respected institutes- Bhandarkar institute in Pune over James Lane book. Valuable research data was lost. Thousands of books were burnt. What is your take on that?
    6. Pawar’s party has been handling and apparantly ’solving’ the loadshedding issue in Maharashtra over last 10 years. How many more years this Powar guy going to take?

    Any answers Ms. Anandan?

    [Reply]

  • raj

    yeh, study in India, eat in India, earn in India and curse India. Such chaps should be sent to Pakistan.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.facebook.com/karan.monga.10 Karan Monga

    always buy tata

    [Reply]

  • aj

    how can u expect the company to fill up ur tank… y will they.. u know the service station is far and person is supposed to come pick it up, so u need to keep the tank full… i thought there would be sm big misdoings by company to warrant an article but i didnt find anything big a miss…

    [Reply]

  • Gj

    This lady is an idiot and a princess. Did Nissan cause the accident? Did they choose which part of the city this accident happened? Did you nit know where the dealership is located when you bought the car? Consequently, why did you not familiarize yourself about servicing location etc earlier? Prime spaces in metros are at a premium. Should they build showrooms in the outskirts next to the workshops? Or vice versa?
    Law of the land, and insurance process does need inspection, appraisal and approval before insurance company will authorize work. Do you expect everyone to stop their work, and only work on flaming you down and working on your car?
    Supply chain logistics is a huge Industry, and is a finite not not exact science. Do you think those two doors should have been ready by the time you dropped the damaged car off? Are you serious?
    You are hyperventilating after getting into a freak accident, but expect them to be counselors and psychiatrists? “please calm down…” why can’t you calm yourself down, you are a grown woman who is almost 30 years old. Moron.
    Servicing: who should pay the cost of petrol for taking your car, and dropping it back off to you? Dealer? Or you? If they included such costs at a flat rate, you would then ***** about over charging…
    Grow up. You cannot buy class by buying a car. Your lack of maturity and false ego are apparent, as is the absence of a slap that your father should have delivered to you at age 15.
    Your emotions are your problem, it does not mean that the world is a bad place, or that everyone is out to screw you over. Hope you never are a customer of a worthy brand like Nissan. Btw, my first car was a Nissan too, in 1998. Great brand, superior quality, and I kept it for 9 years.

    [Reply]

  • Pseudip

    I can imagine that upon buying ones first car – there may be a LOT of expectations one has; but I am afraid that the lady expected too much. I own couple of very expensive German cars, and even they do not give a free fill up of fuel upon servicing. It is not nissan; you would struggle to find ANY car company selling sub-10L rs cars that will give the lady the service she was expecting – “please be calm – I know you are stressed but we will take care of everything” etc. Getting an insurance agent to come over do an audit and change 2 entire doors can easily take a week! It would seem that the only thing Nissan is at fault for here is having its service station too far. In fact the only unpardonable I read was someone charging her 1000 bucks for correcting a scratch

    [Reply]

  • Sanjeev Srivastava

    Lady,
    1. Yes it takes a week to replace 2 doors in a car. Especially when the insurance agent has to come and inspect the damage and approve the claim.
    2. I appreciate your point regarding the distance but you should appreciate that they sent a guy to pick your up car.
    3. Regarding the empty tank, its unreasonable to demand that they refill your tank. I am sure that they would like to delight all their customers but not at the cost of bankrupting their business!!

    Your experience highlights the inefficiencies and cost of doing business in India.

    Nissan should have more service stations or have a set of “Approved” shops in various neighborhoods in Delhi.
    Last but not the least, drive safely!!

    [Reply]

  • Jaggi

    1./ The car was apparently Ok for design and features.
    2./ She had an accident.
    3./ After an accident she wants the workshop to come and pick up the car?
    4./ If you think they gave bad service, then try the same trick with Maruti — see what response you get.
    5./ Empty tank after servicing — that is a no-no. Most car cos. do a dipstick check of the tank before and after servicing. Here the service centre was at fault.

    [Reply]

  • french

    Stop crying…and get on with your pathetic life/car…

    [Reply]

  • Kool

    Maybe their new social media monitoring team from Defiance will notice this and inform Nissan. Lets see how competent is thier social media monitoring team.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.facebook.com/sam.comrade Sam Comrade

    It is the attitude of the people in the region to be blamed not fully on Nissan.Other side Nissan made a big mistake in outsouring their sales to a mumbai based Hover Automotive.Compared to Suzuki ..Nissan products are much stronger in the strength of the structure. If Indian govt make a stringent crash requirement most of the Suzuki cars and all Tata cars will not pass.

    [Reply]

  • amlanjyoti majumdar

    great. Sir Mark Tully has had a great influence in my opting a career in broadcasting. Ever since, he has always been kind enough to guide me and support at every stage .

    [Reply]