Sailing in the same boat, with a difference



Bal Thackeray is in the habit of referring to Suresh Kalmadi as a frog. Well, Balasaheb can think of nothing but animal names to describe people but this time he was describing not Kalmadi’s physical characteristics but his political traits – he’s wont to leap like a frog from one party to another, Thackeray says.

That is because soon after the Congress went out of power in 1996, Kalmadi was desperate to be on the right side of the incoming government – to safeguard his enormous business interests which are rather more than just the few restaurants and car outlets he might own. So, in 1998, he decided to apply to the Shiv Sena-BJP for a ticket to the Lok Sabha from Pune (it is a BJP seat in the division between the allies). That’s when Thackeray took a written undertaking from Kalmadi: that he will stay committed to the saffron alliance and not jump ‘like a frog’ to a fourth party yet again.

Very few may now recall that Kalmadi had begun life as a Sharad Pawar acolyte. He was with the Congress-S first and then joined up the Congress-I when Pawar merged his party with the Indian National Congress. He continued to be a close Pawar aide through the ‘Eighties and half of the ‘Nineties before Pawar’s nephew, Ajit Pawar, began to come between them. So, when Pawar split the Congress, Kalmadi stayed with the INC, though before that he had made a temporary home with the Sena-BJP alliance.

After losing the 1998 election on a saffron ticket, when Kalmadi decided to go back to the Congress, Thackeray published his letter in the Saamna, that had pledged to stay devoted to the saffron parties. But reporters in Maharashtra had a fair idea why Kalmadi always needed to be on the winning side and were not really surprised when he switched parties over and over again.

I recall the time in 1998 – the twilight period for Kalmadi when he was neither here nor there – when he was pitted on a Sena-BJP ticket against the Congress in Pune. I had been following Pawar on his campaign trail and my interview with him had materialised almost at midnight at his hotel room in Karad.

I had known that Pawar’s campaigning did not remain confined to public meetings alone. The most important work began after those rallies when he would meet party workers through the wee hours of morning, sort out differences between warring factions, hold one-to-one meetings with pillars of society who could swing votes one way or the other and generally take stock of the situation wanting to hear critics more than sycophants so that he could get the pulse right.

So, even as I was in the middle of my interview, a Pune Congress functionary stormed into the room and would just not leave until he had had his say. Pawar excused himself but did not ask me to leave the room, so I sat in on the conversation.

Saheb, you have to do something about Kalmadi,” the Pune Congressman begged. “He is going around giving the impression that all is hunky-dory between you and him and that he is your candidate from the saffron alliance. This way we will never win the Pune seat – he will get all the saffron voters, of course. But most of ours will also go to him because people will think they are voting for your candidate rather than for the Sena-BJP.”

“Okay,” said Pawar and dismissed the man, who seemed greatly disappointed that Pawar had not come up with a solution. But, the next day, as I followed Pawar from Karad to his public rally in Pune, I was struck breathless by his answer to the problem. It was crude but one of the most effective methods of making the quarrel very public and final.

After going through the usual issues at that election, Pawar paused for breath and started to talk about his relationship with Kalmadi. “Yes, he was a friend,” he said. “But then I discovered what kind of a person he really is. And I decided I don’t want any part of him.”

Pawar did not tell us what he had discovered about Kalmadi that now made him persona-non-grata. But he said, “This is what I really think of him.” And before anyone could even blink, Pawar said, “Thoo!” in the direction of the floor of the dais, going through the motions of spitting. And then he stamped on it.

People at that rally were left in no doubt that Kalmadi was no longer a friend of Pawar’s and certainly not a Congressman they should vote for (needless to say, the Congress won that election).

As is wont, some local reporters tried to play more mischief between Kalmadi and Pawar and went straight to the former with the story. Of course, Kalmadi was hurt. “Well, he might spit at me but if I tell you things about him, no sound will come out of his throat for two months!” snapped Kalmadi.

When those reporters asked Pawar to react, he said, “And if I begin to tell you stories about him, he will not be able get up from his bed for two years!”

That was the end of that but we never got to know exactly what those damaging secrets were between Pawar and Kalmadi, though, over the months, as I nosed around, I got a fair idea of what they might be.

Kalmadi had learnt all his tricks from Pawar and became president of the Indian Olympic Association even before Pawar could rise above local sports like kho-kho and kabbadi. So, when the Maratha warlord decided to become the president of the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) and went after that position with a vengeance, most Kalmadi-Pawar watchers said that that was because he did not want to be second to his one-time protégé in any manner, even if it was just heading a sports body.

With cricket, I believe, Pawar surpassed even Kalmadi in things like clout and control of millions – a dead giveaway was Kalmadi’s peeved demand of Rs 100 crore from the BCCI to the Commonwealth Games (CWG) body in compensation for loss in ticket sales — or whatever.

But now, after the scam in the Indian Premier League (IPL) that did not leave Pawar unblemished, it is clear that the CWG scam is greater than anything we may have seen before. It also tells me that Kalmadi might have unlearnt much of what he had once learnt at Pawar’s feet. He did not put enough distance between himself and the alleged scamsters in the CWG committee nor did he dump the tainted ones as fast or as ruthlessly as Pawar, wanting to save his own skin from being scorched, had done a la Lalit Modi.

Else the hounds would not be baying so close or scratching at his own door.

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  • Name

    During the felicitation ceremony that had been arranged to honour the three Indian medalists at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Kalmadi reportedly walked out because he had not been offered a chair next to the Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari[5]. In January 2010, former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh accused Kalmadi of being a ’sports mafia’[6].

    The conduct of 2010 CWG has come under public scanner and legal scrutiny as well with the Chief Vigilance Commision (an apex anti-corruption body of India) asking CBI to probe certain aspects of the games’ organization. [7].

    [edit] Business Interests
    Suresh Kalmadi is associate and partner with Sai Service, one of the largest dealerships of Maruti and Bajaj passenger vehicles in India[3]. Sai Services has centers in Delhi , Goa and one center in Noida.

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Well his business interests are considerably more than just Sai Service which he can run whichever party he belongs to. He has iterests that require always being on the ight side of whichever govt in power, so even if he lost the election on the BJP ticket he was with the BJP at the height of its powers

    [Reply]

    subhash saini Reply:

    PLEASE ILLUMINATE THOSE SPECIAL INTERESTS!

    [Reply]

  • nupur

    great piece – thanks for sharing your thoughts with us – as usual good insight into the men that feed this mess.

    [Reply]

    shaitansanjay Reply:

    thanks for this insight. pawar, balasaheb, kalmadi are all but 2 sides of the same coin. CWG, IPL, public distribution system, all govt institutions, anything that is related to govt grants, every thing reeks of govt lalas siphoning of funds that u and i and large private sector pay in taxes. Like in singapore, the death penalty is the only solution alongwith technology to kill this malice once and for all and only then will we become an economic superpower.

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Yes but I think they are the same side of the same coin, with a little difference hee or there

    [Reply]

    subhash saini Reply:

    HAMAM MEIN SAB NANGE HAI.

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Thank you

    [Reply]

  • balvinder

    The move for a separate State of Punjab on linguistic basis was mooted by Akalis in the name of getting autonomy that would help the region’s alround development. Subsequently this demand was met. While carving the new-look State of Punjab …two new States, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, (earlier a part of Punjab) also took birth simultaneously.
    Is it not bizarre to find that today Punjab is reportedly lagging behind these two States in almost all respects; economic, social, administrative and political.
    Today on sharing this view with my coffee house friends I was proved wrong: and I stand corrected.
    “Who says no prosperity in Punjab? Go and look into the huge wealth that most of the Akali leaders of the day have amassed during all these years”, I was …told emphatically and rightly so!

    [Reply]

    Praveen Saxena Reply:

    It is immaterial that both are scoundrels.What matters is that they are pledged to secularism.

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Scoundrels are scoundrels whichever side they may be

    [Reply]

  • http://danendrajain.ibibo.com danendra jain

    A few persons have been removed form corrupt wealth games team after week long serious exposure made by TV media. Actual guilty who promotes and irrigates corrupt activities by verbal or telephonic instruction is more often than not acquitted or awarded. This is why Suresh Kalmadi does not accept the moral responsibility in CWG scam.Mrs. Shiela Dikchhit is beyond blame as because she is CM of Delhi.

    It is not Suresh Kalmadi alone who is standing and telling boldly that he will not resign despite clear cut exposure made by Times Now, IBN and other TV channels. In fact Congress Party as a whole is behind him.They are birds of same feather. All are sitting in glass chamber. Almost all top persons in the party or in administration are corrupt. Because only those who are yesmen, who are having expertise in flattery, who know the art of earning bribe and art of sharing the same with bosses, ministers, police person, CBI, vigilance and other linked persons can get promotion, best posting, responsibility of managing big jobs, contractors, advertisers and other bribe fetching activities and it is they who get all favurs from all bosses and heavy weights. Who will then bell the ca t is a million dollar question.

    Another bitter truth is that in our country big shots in all offices are always left untouched from punishment in all cases of big scams, scandals, frauds or any irregular activities. In all such cases, clerks, peons, small level officers or persons who do not have any Godfather to back them are made scapegoat. And top level officers and ministers on the other hand get better assignment and quickest promotion.Lalu Yadav became Railway Minister inspite of his clear cut involvement in 1000 crore worth Chhara Ghotala. Even in current case of Commonwealth Game Scam, if proper investigation is made it will undoubtedly reveal that most of team members have black background and corrupt history.

    Media will cry and become silent gradually. Some task force committee or some inquiry committee will be formed to look into the mater and submit report and then as usually happens, entire episode will be sent for hibernation for ever. Because such team is also made of same flatterers and commission earner.

    In fact this is the true story of Indian politics, Indian judiciary and Indian administration where all cream posts are filled by flatterers, yes-men and such persons who are having PhD in taking care of bosses in money matters, welcome issues and secrecy principles bypassing all moral values. One can become even President of India by this art.

    In India honesty and merit is never attached any value in the matter of promotion, posting and allotment of duty. And this is the root cause of rampant corruption and inaction from judiciary adds fuel to fire. Honesty is seldom, not always the best policy in India. Indian as to learn to respect honesty and sincerity and then only corrupt person can be discarded and weed out from the system and this is a Himalyan Task which can be accomplished by a dare devil person, if at all some such person becomes PM of the country.

    Mera Desh Mahan, Yahan sub kuch bikta hai, Insaniyat bikti hai,Iman bikta hai, pyar bikta hai, admi bikta hai. Aurat bikti hai aur phir kya bachta hai

    Danendra Jain
    Dkjain49709@rediffmail.com
    07.08.2010

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Hamam mein sab nange hain is the aprropriate prase fo them

    [Reply]

    k daya Reply:

    jane bhi do yaaro… Narayan Tiwari- Sharad Pawar, shri laluprasad, Suresh Kalmadi…Maya bahenji… kaya piya aur desh ki sev abhi ho gayi…

    [Reply]

  • Vineet

    Well as usual another tale of two thieves. This time kalmadi did not stop at robbing the valuables he went even after the clothes. But not to worry he will have more money to throw at the slums in pune at the next elections and the so called class people who are outraged by his daytime robbery will be anyway be holidaying when the next election day comes along

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    You are right. his money power takes him places. I like your description of them as `a tale of two thieves’

    [Reply]

  • Atul8

    Sujata,

    When are you going to write that book?

    And how about a complitation of such stories for a start?

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Thanks, Atul. So many of freinds and fans are urging me for that book : I am beginning to seriously consider it. Will pay thought to that collection — some of my best stories are already on this blog.

    [Reply]

  • Pankaj Vohra

    Sujata, a very interesting blog. It is one of your best. Many people had forgotten that Kalmadi indeed contested on the Saffron ticket. Thanks for recalling that. Also everyone knows that Kalmadi and Pawar are friends turned foes but very few know the reason behind that. Thanks for bringing that out too. I am sure both Kalmadi and Pawar too would read it to recollect their past association. Brgds. P

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Thanks, Pankaj. Always appreciate your comments.

    [Reply]

    nandu Reply:

    dear sujata i have always read your articles and i read a lot more of others too but i appreciate you guts when you take names of netas and say things the way it needs to be said you are the most honest brains i have come accross in maharashtra. bye the way i dont like ht papper as such but i only read cause of your article. keep it up and god bless you

    [Reply]

  • http://www.uthamanarayananperspectives.blogspot.com uthamanarayanan

    Very subtle way of telling what and how are these two guys, who could manipulate and do the things in their advantage and how pathetic is Congress Party that believed so shallow a man for so hight a post of administration – here I mean both the guys.At least Pawar is an alliance partner, but this Kalmadi despite the murky record he holds in his back yard believed by Congress Party for this post he occupies. More woe is still retaining him after so much of bashing by the opposition and media .Why Congress seems to be so weak in its approach to every problem, may be the reason despite the age Soniaji does not have the authority required as a people leader, just seems to be a CEO of the company directing the PM like CEO directing the subordinates.What Congress needs or wants right now is Rahul- this is what I believe although I do not belong to Congress.

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Thanks. I heard a critic say Congress good at policies but weak in implementation — I would stretch that to say soemtimes it can take too long and be a bit lily livered about taking firm action against the unsavoury

    [Reply]

  • ashok

    For all their political differences, Pawar and Kalmadi are cut from the same cloth.

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    I dont think they have poltiical differences, just ties of blood that got in the way of friendship. otherwise they are not just cut from the same cloth, they are indeed the same cloth!

    [Reply]

  • Dipankar

    Hi Sujata,

    YOU ARE VERY GOOD.
    Why don’t you put all your Blogs in one book?
    We would love to read them uninterrupted.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.datasite.hu/forum/index.php?showuser=62836 Leena Mucerino

    Anyone who does a lot of sustained physical labor needs to have a lot of fat in their diet to supply an adequate amount of energy. They will help you lose weight fast and they are applicable for long term weight loss.

    [Reply]

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    While we are discussing about topics relevant to Sailing in the same boat, with a difference : Singly Political, Docks in general come in two configurations. The very first kind of dock is a very simple long and thin section that makes it effortless for a individual to get on and off a boat. Other types of docks contain two parts. The very first is really a long and thin section and the second component is a wider dock section normally after the thin section for a place to lounge out on. Whatever your option, figure how far out you will need to go from land to access your boat. Take into consideration the depth of water from land as well as the size of your boat. For instance, a row boat will only will need a couple of feet of water; where as a 22 footer will must be docked in a considerable depth of water.

    [Reply]

  • DebarchnaPalDREAMS

    suzanne?attractive??she looks so bad and she is so besharam and ill-mannered.hrithik is so unlucky for marrying to a an unwanted escort like her.after watching them together in kwk 3, i can understand how much she ’s disperate n why hrithik has so many affairs. stop desrespecting a great person like hrithik .he is the ony man who takes his wife’s name even though she’s a loser n nothing without him.then what should u say about srgay who flirts with women even in front of his gorgeous wife,life GAURI KHAN. she actually deserves all love n respect.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.facebook.com/dirgha.prasai Dirgha Raj Prasai

    Respected Editor and Readers !
    Good Morning from Kathmandu !
    Yes !I think- there are so many problems that there
    will be no the consensus to complete the peace process and the writing of a
    constitution among the parties. Another major sticking point is how to
    integrate thousands of Maoist fighters housed in camps since the nation’s civil
    war ended in 2006. A proposal to integrate them into the Nepal Army will be
    failed because Nepal’s
    Army officers do not want integration of such Maoist’s -ism trained
    workers. Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, known as a so-called qualified and confused writer
    seems extremely controversial.
    Nowhere in the world,
    would a country be able to protect its sovereignty by making the national army
    weak and powerless? The national army can’t compare with Maoist’s army. Now, in
    Nepal,
    we have two kinds of army- the national army and the Maoist’s army. Can we
    imagine two kinds of army in a country?

    The creator of the Maoist rebellion was Girija.
    After 1992, in the name of annihilating Masal-Communists (later called the
    Maoists) murder, suppression, and rape crossed the limit. In revenge, Maoists
    systematically killed thousands of civilians, police and army personnel.
    Millions worth of physical infrastructures were destroyed or burned. And since
    2005, Girija (leader of NC) joined hands with the Maoists. JNU Prof -S.D.Muni,
    the strategist of RAW had given the 12-point anti-Nepal agendas of the
    Republic, Secularism and Federal states to the perverted leaders of the parties
    and a few lawyers, doctors, and journalists to end the existence of Nepal.

    The Maoists are using their agendas and are
    opening a ‘Pandora’s Box’- a one-party communist anarchism. The Maoist Party
    has own army. It is a big conspirator that the Maoist fighters(Co-called army) almost have joined with the New Mohan Baidha Maoist’s party and Baburam Bhattarai. There are may be only 6-8 hundreds fighter can join in Nepal army. It may be to disturb Nepal army’s secrecy. So, it is not believable that the Maoists are supporting the democratic peaceful sense.
    I am sorry to write that it was a great blunder
    of Indian diplomats- Shyam Saran- former Indian ambassador and former foreign
    Secretary of India (who is widely credited with bringing the present
    instability in Nepal), and Sive Shankar Mukharejee, former foreign minister, KB
    Rajan- former Indian ambassador Rakesh Sood- former ambassador, Prof.SD Muni
    (RAW strategist) and other officials who not only blundered in their assessment
    of the Maoists but also did much harm to Indian’s interests in Nepal. Among diplomats,
    Shyam Saran is a very ambitious diplomat who could not calculate the good
    result.

    Due to the Indian diplomats’ mistakes and the result became bad for India also. Now all the agendas of Democratic System are in risk. The intention of Maoist is to
    create one party communist regime. The Maoist never supports constitutional
    democratic system in Nepal
    including India. Then, we should find the solution to save Nepal-
    constitutionally. The 1990 Constitution was not abolished in a appropriate constitutional
    manner. The 1990 Constitution should implement with monarchy to provide a
    momentum for the nation. This is the point of solution. Nor China comes
    with Communism for its security. We must remain alert from foreign conspiracy
    and suicidal activities of despicable leaders. It is high time we sacrifice in
    name of country by joining shoulder to shoulder with the national army,
    security organs and patriotic Nepali people with the King. It is the compulsion of Nepal and India.

    Thank you.
    Dirgha Raj Prasai

    Email:
    dirgharajprasai@gmail.com

    [Reply]

  • Joseph Kurian

    Is it in the interests of the common man, the citizens of Nepal, that the ones in power, debating in Kathmandu, cannot agree to form a constitution for 6 years?!?!
    People are around who suffer with no power or even the basic feature of a decent road to a hospital; inflation is at a high…the list can go on!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yashwanth-Dhakshana/1666756436 Yashwanth Dhakshana

    the “wishful thinking” is from educated scholars and thinkers though. wouldn’t their thoughts, which are based on math models, be more valid then yours, which is clearly based off pessimism?

    [Reply]