Years ago after a rather scintillating interview with Bal Thackeray, I thought I had a sort of `scoop’ of the century. The Shiv Sena was ruling Maharashtra in alliance with the BJP and the 13 day government of Atal Behari Vajpayee had just reinstated the Srikrishna commission probing the 1992-93 Bombay riots, which had earlier been dismissed by the state government. Thackeray was livid. He sent for me when I called him for a reaction – it was worth every minute spent at Matoshree to watch him letting off steam. I recorded the entire interview. Read more
After the BJP wins nearly a hundred seats in the Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, it seems a bit much for BJP leader Vijay Goel to threaten migrants from these states with deportation/prevention of free movement into Delhi – it reminds me of the time when Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had made a similar statement soon after his party came to power in Maharashtra. Read more
What a state of flux Maharashtra’s politics seems to be in – I have always heard that there can be no permanent friends or enemies in politics but here, on the western shores of India, the dividing lines seem to be etched in acid with no room for crossovers. Read more
I must begin by disclosing my vested interest in writing this particular blog post. Some might call it a plug (which in a way it is) but I wished to familiarise a wider readership with Bal Thackeray and what he really was and meant to Bombay and Maharashtra – and that is why I wrote the book “Hindu Hriday Samrat : How the Shiv Sena changed Mumbai forever’’. Read more
For a long time I had been stating that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray would never join hands with Narendra Modi because in that move lay his destruction. I was trolled furiously by the saffron brigade who called me all sorts of names but now finally Raj has put the stamp on speculation by journalists for months – and I guess just the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party in New Delhi has not a little to do with it. Read more
It is a historical fact and long forgotten bit of history but then history has a way of repeating itself if we forget it, don’t they say? Friends are telling me that the 1960s are too far back in time and have no bearing on today’s situation but those who have lived through that era recall the similarities between the two movements and how the Shiv Sena had come as a breath of fresh air in the jaded post-Independence era as AAP has done so many decades later. Read more
Twenty-one years ago this day– December 6, 1992– is etched in my memory with an acid pen. Read more
At the LitLive Fest in Bombay last week, an interesting session on news in real time brought home to the audience what our politicians and even some journalists are still not able to come to terms with – the mobile phone is a very powerful weapon in the hands of the most commonest of citizens today. So beware of what you say or do, because Big Brother is now watching you all the time!
No longer do you have to be part of the Bigg Boss show with 85 cameras swinging around you to capture your every moment live and even while sleeping. The Burmese monks’ uprising, the use of chemical weapons in Syria , a terrorist attack in Tiananmen square that was quickly covered up by the Chinese authorities all became part of recorded history simply because of smart phones in the pockets of common citizens and the speed of the internet in circulating these worldwide.
But when these are combined with other forms of technology these days, the effect could be devastating for politicians – as Narendra Modi is discovering over the Saheb tapes, as even the Aam Aadmi Party has had to explain away after the sting that exposed their top leaders as scamsters and potential goons.
Closer home, a college principal in Bombay was recorded surreptitiously in while she was letting off steam against Aditya Thackeray, son of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and had to give in to students’ blackmail for fear of the consequences otherwise.
Everything in this world has a good side and a bad side and, sure, there can also be misuse of such technology but while I might wish for the old order of things where one can feel safe and secure at least in one’s home or office, it might not be such a bad thing really if technology helps to expose double-facedness or insincerity and dishonesty as has happened in the recent cases, including that of Tarun Tejpal’s alleged molestation of a colleague which has become a criminal offence entirely on the basis of the footage from the CCTV cameras in the elevators of the five star hotel where he was supposed to have indulged in this major violation of the law.
This week and the last have been particularly revealing in terms of various technology-driven exposes by different organisations and instititutions against people of all hues, and I must say they have been startling as well as interesting. In any case, all the stings (or just technology trappings) reveal the hyprocritical nature of those in the public eye (and I do not exclude Tehelka which employs virtually the same tactics for its investigative reports which have been rather exemplary nonetheless).
When the monks uprising of Myanmar first got out to the world, the Burmese government described it as a ’skyful of lies: Tsunami of lies’ was the expression used by the Syrian government to deny the chemical weapons attack on its own citizens. But seeing is believing. And millions of people who saw those videos across the world were not to be convinced otherwise.
I am surprised that even after nearly two decades of television news our politicians have still not understood how completely they incriminate themselves with their indiscretions. Their defence of having been selectively quoted or misinterpreted, even if true, somehow tends not to be believed and does enormous damage to their reputations.
I do not know how this week’s exposes will pan out in the future – everyone but Tarun Tejpal seems to have a defence of their involvement in illegitimate activities, official or otherwise.
But it cannot be a bad thing that technology is cleaning up public life and might soon bring in more prudence and probity among those in the glare,
Very soon the world will be a different place from what we have so far lived in, I guess.
A year before the BJP came to power at the Centre in 1996, I recall getting into an argument with its patriarch LK Advani over what he described as the ’structure’ in Ayodhya. Read more
There are occasions when Rahul Gandhi does live up to Indira Gandhi’s political instincts. I was too young to remember Mrs Gandhi’s elephant act at the time but my parents always spoke in awe of her clambering atop a pachyderm to make her way into a village called Belchi in Bihar. Read more