Monday, April 30, 2007

Muslims had helped 'Killer' Cop DG Vanzara with money in his studies

DG Vanzara was arrested and jailed for fake ecnounters
IPS officer DG Vanzara, who has been arrested for the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, had been helped by Muslim villagers in his childhood.

Vanzara's father Gobarji was a poor and illiterate man who herded donkeys.

He had no money to finance his son's studies but the bright boy was helped by Muslims in his native village.

They helped him buy books and in school fees so that he could pursue his studies. They stood by him all along until he became a big man--the DIG.

The village of 12,000 has a 60% Muslim population. "The boy whom they willingly helped so that he could carry on his studies quickly forgot them, returning to build a mansion in pink sandstone at a careful distance', reports Sreenivas Janyala in Indian Express.

His classmate Natubhai Patel and teacher Hasanbhai Holda [the latter taught him English], acknowledge that once he rose to the position he never really bothered to look back at the village and his former well-wishers.

Vanzara never cared to give something back. He refused to donate any amount to the school, writes Srinivas. The three-storey house built at the cost of Rs 2 crore has all the luxury goods.

Ilol school principal GHS Dethrotiya says that a salaried person can never afford to build such a huge bungalow.

Ilol is the place where Sohrabuddin Sheikh's wife Kausar Bi's body was burnt and later disposed off.

The small Vanjara [Banjara] community of 25 families in village is ashamed, not at the crime but because he 'was caught for the crime'.

Click here to read the story.

Vanjara is Rs 150 crore man

The empire of DG Vanjara that includes commerical and residential buildings in Ahmedabad, Gandhi Nagar, Surat, Mehsana and other cities is estimated at tens of crores.

He earned most of the money through extortion, corruption, encounter threats, says Gujarat newspapers.

In construction industry alone he has invested Rs 100 crore. He also invested crores in Gujarati film industry but after failing to get returns, put money in Bollywood movies through his contacts with Gujarati actors in Mumbai.

Has 80 JCB machines [Bull Dozers] in the names of relatives in Gujarat.  Apart from him other ATS officials, including Rajkumar Pandayan have also accumulated huge wealth.

Dahyaji Gobarji Vanzara was surely given a long rope but law has at last caught up with him. He is now cooling heels in the jail, with those he had framed and wrongly arrested.

Photos of Kausar Bi, Sohrabuddin and officers [Rajkumar Pandian, DG Vanzara, Dinesh Kumar]

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Protest over Hafiz Kamaluddin's custody death

A protest was held at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday. Several Muslim groups including madarsa students, raised slogans against Delhi police.

The local residents allege that Hafiz Kamaluddin was beaten to death in police custody. They are also angry over the claims of police that Kamaluddin was mentally disturbed.

"If he was mentally challanged then how could he teach hundreds of students for over a decade at the Madarsa", said the demonstrators. Local residents remember him as an intelligent and law-abiding citizen.

His wife Mubarak Khatoon says that when police brought her husband to hospital, his feet were tied and he was naked. Angry residents had earlier set afire the police outpost after the death of Hafiz Kamaluddin. Scores of vehicles were damaged as a mob had gone on rampage in Sultanpuri.

The cops say that Kamaluddin was deranged and was hurling stones at some people at night and the angry people beat him to death. (Who were these people?) However, nobody is buying this story. Several delegations including MPs, MLAs and prominent citizens have visited the Prem Nagar locality in Sultanpuri.

Police allegedly got cable network disconnected in the area to stop news from reaching the public. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered. Tension prevails in the locality and para-military forces staged a flagmarch.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fall of Congress in UP and Sonia Gandhi's Urdu letter to 15,000 Muslims

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to 15,000 'prominent' Muslims urging them to support the Congress candidates in their areas--for strengthening secular values and justice in Uttar Pradesh.

Will it cut any ice? I don't think so. Recently Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that Muslims have the right to study in Urdu medium.

1. From 1949 to 1989, [forty years], Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh played an extremely dubious role and made all efforts to kill Urdu.

Overnight Urdu as medium of instruction was scrapped in schools and even as a subject Urdu teaching was stopped across the state.

2. The early Congress leaders Sampoornanand and Purushottam Das Tandon used all means to ensure that Urdu died in its natural homeland.

These politicians succeeded to an extent. Today UP does not have Urdu medium schools while Maharashtra, Karnataka, AP and [also MP, Gujarat, Bihar] have thousands of Urdu schools. Sampurnanand went on record to say that 'we will give Urdu speaking populace its rights, 25 years late'. What did it mean?

3. In the heart of Urdu world, Lucknow, the City of Meer, you can't open an Urdu medium school as 'education can only be imparted in Hindi and English mediums in the state as per education department rule'.

4. Muslims wanted just that they could read Urdu as a subject in school but with compulsory introduction of Sanskrit, it was made impossible in Uttar Pradesh (UP) under the three language formula.

5. The role of Congress in Uttar Pradesh was unique. Its leaders functioned like leaders of Hindu Mahasabha. Muslims faced a systematic bias from system which was not found elsewhere even in other Congress ruled states.

6. Muslim votes were supposed to go to Congress anyhow. Such an atmosphere was created through riots, large scale, much of the size of Gujarat, in any Muslim dominated city that the community was left with no option.

7. It was probably believed that most Muslims would leave the state for Pakistan, which didn't happen. Congress in UP in the post-partition era was much more vicious and anti-Muslim than present day BJP. And it is no exaggeration.

Purushottam Das Tandon
8. Today in the era of satellite TV, we have seen Gujarat carnage but the horrors of Firozabad, Moradabad, Meerut, Maliana, Aligarh and Meerut were riots where thousands perished and a former Prime Minister had said that riots were an annual feature and couldn't be stopped.

9. Muslims don't want any reservation. They needed respect like other communities but were treated as fifth columnists. From Railway station to University, no place of mention bore a signboard in Urdu. And the situation changed only in the 90s when Congress was finally out of the power in the state.

10. It is not that Urdu medium education alone can ensure progress but the fact that it hurt the self-respect of Muslims. They were made to look like strangers in their own land as the language of culture was turned alien in the very place it was born.

Tandon and Sampoornanand were well versed in Urdu. More Hindus knew the language than Muslims in UP, but still it became the only language in the world to be associated with a religion. There was no such bias in any other state in Southern India, Western region or even Central India.

11. Haq na dete, izzat to dete. With opportunities in Middle-East opening up from the late 70s and early 80s, the situation started looking up. Under the first non-Congress government in the state (SVD), Muslims for the first time after partition, got jobs in police and other departments.

12. With the Mandir and Mandal wave that brought Congress' communal politics to the fore, disenchanted Muslims got a new option in Janata Dal, and their mass desertion along with Backwards and Dalits, brought doom to Congress in this most populous state.

13. Surely Congress seems genuinely interested in improving the education and social standards of Muslims. But Muslims would prefer any non-Muslim leader of any other political party than listening to the Mohsina Kidwais, Salman Khurshids and Noor Banos.

14. The leaders were always happy with their own fiefdoms and cared nothing for ordinary Muslim. Muslims remember how trucks full of over a million signed letters that were taken for restoring the status of Urdu, were treated by the Congress government at the Centre.

Congress has a long way to go before its gets back the lost ground and as far as regaining the faith of Muslims and other sections is concerned, it will still take time. A few road shows, populist statements and letters won't undo the damage done for forty years.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Poem on destruction of Iraq, 'Halaku, if you visit Baghdad, again': Marjeena no longer lives in Alif Laila land...

Even  Halaku would be shocked at such destruction!
What would the medieval Halaku Khan feel if he ever came to the shores of Iraq, a country he had plundered centuries ago.

Iraq has been ravaged, destroyed. Post 2/11, the War on Terror, led to the American forces targeting Saddam Hussein.

'Halaku's Second Coming To Baghdad' is an Urdu verse written in this context, and is being published and circulated across Urdu speaking world.

Shattered at the mindless violence in Iraq and the end of a country, a civilization, in this modern era, famed poet Hasan Abidi's wrote this famous Nazm, which you can READ HERE IN URDU, ENGLISH & HINDI.

Now, coming back to the post:

*A lunatic killed over 30 students on the Virginia university campus and I joined millions of Americans in this hour of sadness. But then I heard George Bush saying how his heart was full of sadness at the deaths.

*Later as news of 360 persons dying in a single day in Baghdad in four separate suicide attacks was broadcast, I switched off the television in disgust. The figure was slightly higher even by Iraq's standards.

Hulagu Khan [Halaku]
You curse these mindless Shias and Sunnis, butchering each other. But then we really don't know what is happening there. We only know one thing for sure, who planned this insane war on Iraq and the devastation of this country.

Doesn't he feel remorse? Can he sleep peacefully after this dance of death.

It was during such a mental state that I remembered Hasan Abidi's Urdu verse about Halaku's second coming. The Tatar Holocaust had begun nearly eight centuries ago when the army of Halaku [also writte as Hulagu or Halagu], turned towards the Abbasid empire.

Halaku was the son of Changez [Genghis/Chingiz] Khan. As the cruel war-monger Halaku moved ahead, the tidal wave of devastation led to millions of deaths in Iraq. Baghdad, Nishapur, Samarkand and Herat accounted for over a million deaths each.

Many other cities were completely exterminated. The jewel of Islamic world, Baghdad, was turned into a city of corpses by Halaku's men. Halaku's father practiced Shamanism, they worshipped sky, and his mother was a Nestorian Christian woman but his great grandson Berek had later embraced Islam.

What Halaku would feel if he comes to Baghdad again?

The English translation is here:

Halaku, when you will come to Baghdad this time
'Dajla' would have cleaned her shore with wetness of blood
Here one more army, an army of blaze-n-rock would have camped
For many hundred years this city of angst
which never slept, would have been slept this time

Halaku, when you will come to Baghdad this time
You will find corpses, but without head
A tower of skulls would have been built before your entrance
streets, lanes, inns, sanctuaries, cafes
would have been standing their hands bagging their shadows

Ashes of libraries would have been drifted
Antiques would have been distributed in bags
Valued copies of god's book and divine scrolls
whose sights kept chests lighted
woud have been burned
No more Marjinas, No more land of Alif Laila

Halaku, when you will come to Baghdad this time
Nights of "alif Laila" (Thousand nights) will have escaped from tales
wearing sheet of sunlight, sitting on sand's cliff
would have been waiting for tale-tellers, merchants, travellers, con-mans and princes
(to see when night will fall on city)
But now no dawn will come, or any night will fall

Halaku, when you will come to Baghdad this time
(from) Ali Baba's treasures of gold, (to) tents and field, all would have been looted
Where vougish-n-astucious Marjeena lived, there now lived young warriors of some other world
Here is a magic in soil, earth bears gold
(but now)there is smell of oil

Halaku, when you will come to Baghdad this time
you will come for not to go

[Thanks to Mystic Soul for the translation]

Monday, April 16, 2007

Another blasphemy, Khushi-Kadir & Cross on Coins

Centuries ago it was observed by travellers that Indians love to watch 'tamasha', of any sort.

Ever since the electronic media revolution occurred, there is not a single day when you don't see a few controversies and though we may all, criticise the channels we surely love to watch them and comment on them.

In Rajasthan, an MLA from Jodhpur, who wanted induction in state cabinet, printed calendars that show Vasundhara Raje Scindia as Goddess Annapurna.

The trio of LK Advani, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Rajnath Singh have been depicted as Lord Brahma, Lord Mahesh and Lord Vishnu respectively. The Hindu gods are depicted the way they are but for the difference that the faces of these leaders have replaced them. The rest is all same. Another controversy is over the latest Rupee 2 coin that bears a Cross.

RSS chief K Sudarshan has smelt rat. He feels that it is Christian influence. Though this is not the Christian cross and it was introduced on coins after the visually challenged (blind) complained that they could not distinguish between the Re1 and Rs 2 coins which were almost similar in size now.

If these were not enough then the controversies of Richard Gere kissing Shilpa Shetty and the Hindu Rashtra Sena's attack on Star TV after the minor Hindu girl Khushi alias Rukku Agarwal and Abdul Qadir ran away from Surat and reached the office to tell their story. The Rs 800 crore turnover textile market of Surat shutdown in protest and Agarwal community is angry.

The girl had fell in love with the youth, Kadir alias Kabir on internet (Chatting), two years ago when she was 14-1/2. Now she is past 16 but still a long way to be treated as a major. For the entire story of the couple, click.

The Priyanka-Umar love affair and the controversy over Sachin eating a cake coloured like tricolour [Indian flag] which was termed as 'Sachin tiranga kaaT kar khaa gaye' dominated headlines in the last couple of days.

Then the controversy that has scuttled the chances [if there were any] of Narayanmurthy as a runner for the post of President. The Infosys chairman had stated that Jana Gana Man was not played because he felt that 'foreign guests could be embarrassed'. And these are just a few we remember in the last 2-3 days.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fazal Tabish, the maverick poet

Fazal Tabish, Urdu zubaan ka baaNkaa shaair thaa. This is often you get to hear about Fazal Sahab. I had heard a lot about him especially his personality and bohemian lifestyle.

shakhsiyat hai ki sirf gaalii hai
jaane kis shakhs ne uchhaalii hai

shahar dr shahar haath ugte haiN
kuchh to hai jo har ek savaalii hai

jo bhii haath aaye TuuT kar chaaho
haar ke yah ravish nikaalii hai

meer kaa dil kahaaN se laaoge
Khuun kii buund to bachaa lii hai

jism meN bhii utar ke dekh liyaa
haath Khaalii thaa ab bhii khaalii hai

resha resha udheD kar dekho
roshnii kis jagah se kaalii hai

din ne chehraa kharoNch Daalaa thaa
jab to suuraj pe Khaak Daalii hai

Click for the ghazal in Hindi and Urdu scripts here

Friday, April 13, 2007

Owl's role in unearthing hidden treasure

It seems many seriously believe that the Owl can help discovering hidden treasure. Such is the level of superstition that a Red Owl is selling from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 in most cities.

Many sacrifice the owl for a variety of reasons. The Tantriks assure the people that they can get rich by sacrificing the Ulloo. The blackmarket for Owl has led to several owl species getting extinct. In forests there are few owls now.

Many believe that as owl is the 'vaahan' (carrier) of Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth, it can turn your fortune. A friend of mine believes it. Though he cautions that there are several 'vidhaan' and you should be very careful if you keep an owl as a pet in your house because if something goes wrong, the same Ulloo can bring doom to the entire household as it is a bird that lives in 'veeraana' (desolate ruins).

Until a few decades back it was common practice for tantriks (witchcraft practitioners) to prescribe 'owl's meat' to be administered to a particular person for desired results in matters of love. I don't know how common is this but going by the news reports and crowd that still goes to the tantriks, who are now operating from plush offices in cities and advertise in newspapers, I am sure these things still continue.

The India TV showed a special report on the illegal owl market. A tantrik was asked and he affirmed that owl can help you get the hidden treasure. No wonder the owls are disappearing fast. Vultures are already extinct in this country. Crows are less in numbers and almost every bird is threatened due to the insecticides.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

When Hindu girls elope with Muslim boys or Muslim women marry Hindu youths: Inter-religious marriages in India

A Hindu girl and a Muslim youth [or vice-versa] elope and the result is that tension grips the entire town.

If the girl is Hindu, the Bajrang Dal or other fringe organisations create a storm and demand that the girl is brought back while the culprit [youth] be arrested for kidnapping.

It is later found that the girl and boy who had run away were adult and had married as per law. The affidavit was submitted in the court.

In a recent case, the real bombshell comes when they find that: it was not the girl who converted but the boy who not only changed his name but also underwent 'Shuddhikaran' to become a Hindu. Now what! The loony organisations are left without an issue.

So they demand that the couple should be handed over to them and they will do his 'Shuddikaran' and make him wear the sacred thread as it could be just a trick of a Muslim to increase the minority community population by 'luring innocent Hindu girls'.

The newly wed couple now shows CD of the video recording of their marriage as per Vedic rites and also the priest's version of conversion. Still, you must give credit to Bajrang Dal and such right-wing organisations who insist that it is wrong.

When Bajrang Dal turns 'pro-Muslim elders'

After all, they are our moral guardians and culture cops. At this juncture, they turn pro-Muslim and say that the inter-religious marriages are fundamentally wrong as ' Islamic and Hindu cultures can't coexist, both families will have difficulty in adjusting and what about their children--no matter what happens, the society can't accept it'.

And even go a step ahead to say, 'what will happen to Muslim girls if the Muslim boys won't marry them and instead take away the Hindu girls'. Just see the concern! Otherwise in the society as well, people get divided on communal lines and also as per their interests.

An RSS sympathiser would rue that the Hindu youths are so busy in studies and competitive examinations that the Muslim youths who are free to loiter and have ample time, manage to coax the Hindu girls. Amongst Muslims you will also find similar voices.

Inter-religious marriages, communal tensions, patriarchy and society

As long as Bajrang Dal and other outfits were complaining, they were happy but when the boy's conversion to Hinduism is known, they would change their stand.

They begin question the concept of love marriage: 'mahaul kharaab hota hai, koii faida nahiin, apni ladkiyaan ghar par baithii hain...sort of crap.

So whether its a Hindu girl or a Muslim girl or boy of either religion [or even Christian], most people would love to forget that adults can marry in a free country as per law.

They would cite all sorts of weird reasons and try to prove that it is the worst of crimes. The police also loves it. In the past a poor couple and handicapped couple was harassed. READ THIS POST.

They can convert the case of missing person into abduction [or kidnapping] to put pressure on the boy's family for extortion. They would cite that the complainant's family had told that the girl was not yet 18 though she may be 20 or more.

Indian parents have rights over kids' love, sex lives!

Kin of the families would be illegally detained and made to cough up money. Watching a movie everybody stands for the hero and heronie and for end to obstacles in marriage so that there is happy ending but in real life, it's so different.

How hypocrite and narrow-minded we are as a society. Here is the story that had all these ingredients mentioned above. Read the story here. Now read the tragic love story of Rizwanur Rehman and Priyanka Todi, opposed by the multi-millionaire girl's family. Rizwanur was tortured and later found dead in mysterious circumstances.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Drinking Mecca Cola in Hyderabad

Hyderabad Visit-II

I heard about Mecca Cola, the alternative to US-based cola companies, a few years back but it was not until recently that I had the chance to sip it. In Hyderabad, it was easily available unlike in North India.

On a shop near Char Minar, I saw the advertisement of Mecca Cola. I went in and found crates full of the 'Islamic soft drink'.

Though it was December and there was a slight chill in the air but the anti-imperialistic feelings prevailed upon me. And soon I was sipping the rival to Coke and Pepsi as my amused relatives waited for me to finish the bottle and get home. I got somebody take a few pictures well.

Wasn't Hyderabad a right place to sip the Middle-Eastern cola for the first time? It wasn't bad either in taste, just like another soft drink. Frankly, I am not too passionately anti-American, blogging daily on US-based Google's blogger and often drinking Coke despite many friends urging me not to drink it as its 'earnings go to Israel and Jews'.

Of course, the entrepreneurship of Tawfiq Mathlouthi who launched the drink is surely laudable. Meanwhile, I am told that part of the earnings of Mecca Cola go to the cause of Palestine. A friend of mine wanted to know how could he get an agency for it as the soft drink may sell in Muslim dominated areas. I have no clues. They have a website here. So you can check it out.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The inflammatory anti-Muslim CD & BJP's lies

IBN 18 exposed the lies of BJP on the controversial anti-Muslim CD that was supposed to polarise the voters on communal lines.

The dramatic picturisation of two Muslim youths, dressed as Hindus and buying cows to butcher them, about Muslims giving birth to more children and Muslims boys abducting Hindu is all there in this 'zahreeli CD'. (The transcript of the VCD 'Bharat ki Pukar' is available at Siddharth Varadarajan's blog here)

The Culture cell in-charge of party in UP Alpana Talwar acted in the movie and accepted on television that she was aware about the CD and its purpose.

The director and maker of the video CD Virendra Singh Parmar named Lalji Tandon, Keshri Nath Tripathi and Rajnath Singh on TV that they entrusted him with the task to demonise Muslims in the CD.

Tandon had released the CD and the visuals are available। It was done without the permission of Election Commission. Then came Kesri Nath Tripathi's statement that it was sent to EC but apparently it was distributed mistakenly. The party apologised and has now devised its strategy to appear defiant. But who are they fooling?

Hats off to TN Seshan for turning EC into such a powerful body. Read Makhmoor Saeedi's Ghazal:
jab hukm saadir huaa, tum chup rahe ham chup rahe
voh waqt kuchh kahne kaa thaa, tum chup rahe ham chup rahe

taqriir uskii aag thii, sho’lay fizaa meN bhar gaii
aur shahar saara jal gayaa, tum chup rahe ham chup rahe

qaatil bhii voh, makkaar bhii voh, Tokaa use ek baar bhii?
voh jhuuT bolaa barmalaa, tum chup rahe hum chup rahe…

जब हुक्म सादिर हुआ, तुम चुप रहे हम चुप रहे
वोह वक़्त कुछ कहने का था, तुम चुप रहे हम चुप रहे

तकरीर उसकी आग थी, फिजा में भर गई
और शहर सारा जल गया, तुम चुप रहे हम चुप रहे

कातिल भी वोह, मक्कार भी वोह, टोका उसे एक बार भी?
वोह झूट बोला बर्मला, तुम चुप रहे हम चुप रहे

جب حکم صادر ہوا تم چپ رہے ہم چپ رہے
وہ وقت کچھ کہنے کا تھا تم چپ رہے ہم چپ رہے

تقریر اسکی آگ تھی شعلے فضا میں بھر گیء
اور شہر سارا جل گیا تم چپ رہے ہم چپ رہے

قاتل بھی وہ مکار بھی ٹوکا اسے اک بار بھی
وہ جھوٹ بولا برملا تم چپ رہے ہم چپ رہے۔۔۔

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Your Honour, I am not a minority?

In a strange judgment the Allahabad High Court has said that Muslims who constitute 18% of the population of Uttar Pradesh are not a religious minority in the state.

I have tremendous respect for the judiciary in this country and I am not dying to keep this tag of minority on myself but I am not at all amazed when it comes from the Allahabad High Court. There is a history. From verdicts on AMU's status and the 1-day imprisonment given to Kalyan Singh under whose rule the Babri Masjid was pulled down with state complicity by vandals in disregard to constitution and in full public view, Muslims have seen many very unfavourable judgements. Read an earlier post on this issue here. And there is another story here.

There is criticism of judgment. I rather like Jamiat's statement that has welcomed it and also the tag of majority for Muslims. Of course, political parties and religious outfits have their agenda. This verdict doesn't 'hurt' me but it has surely surprised me because the observation comes from a single judge bench and it hardly has any chance to stand in the Apex court. It has no sound basis at all.

Of course, I don't mind being called a member of majority community. Students in madarsa may get affected though. But I wonder what prompted the judge to make this comment as it would not do any harm to Muslims or Hindus but it is impractical, incorrect in its essence and has no factual basis. Say, just because you are seeing more Muslims around and you may not like the sight, it can't be a reason.

I wonder what His Majesty thinks about the status of Muslims in West Bengal, Kerala and Assam that have 25%, 24% and 31% population respectively. I didn't know what was the threshold for coversion from minority to the next nameless stage, which is surely not a majority either.

In Sri Lanka, Hindu Tamils number around 18% and are surely a minority. There may be confusion about status of Serbs, Croats and Muslims in the multi-ethnic Bosnia. But, in a state in Indian Union where Hindus constitute 80% of the population, Muslims are surely a minority unless the definition of minority as per constitution and spelt by Supreme Court is changed.

If minority will be defined on the basis of a certain threshold about which no one seems to have an idea and it will vary from states to states then what about districts within UP. In a district like Jalaun that barely has 5% Muslims or Lalitpur that has 2% Muslims, the judgement should have clarified their position compared to Rampur and Moradabad that have 49% and 45% Muslims.

Further, we can go down to towns and then villages as there is diverse population composition in each unit. The observation that Muslims are not a minority doesn't astonish me. In UP, systematically Muslims were kept out of education and jobs after partition (unlike other states where there was not such level of bias).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Who will rule Uttar Pradesh?

Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country, which has a population equal to that of three major European nations--Britain, Germany and France put together, is going to polls soon.

UP has lately become a symbol of bad governance, poverty, unemployment and unruliness. But does any of the political outfits (including the national parties) have any concrete plans for Uttar Pradesh? They have all ruled in UP in the last two decades and have to share the blame for ruining the state.

None of them have any plans for future either. It was under Congress rule that the famed cities of UP like Allahabad and Lucknow lost their sheen. There was no development and educational institutions had a sharp decline in standards. Unemployment rate soared.

Kanpur, once an industrial hub, witnessed a closure of factories. Congress tried to mobilise Hindus in 1986 when it got the locks of the disputed site opened, though it backfired on them. Later under the Janata Dal rule (all anti-Congress forces including BJP and today's Samajwadi Party were together) the communal tension reached its pinnacle.

BJP further took the State towards communal polarisation. As if there was no real issue--poverty, employment, corruption, for the 15 crore inhabitants of Uttar Pradesh., people were divided on communal lines. Remember the era when Sadhvi Ritambhara's vulgar tapes were in circulation.

Not just 'Ek dhakka aur...In one such speech, the self-styled Sadhvi said that as Muslims did everything opposite from Hindus, citing example of the 'tavaa', the direction of worship etc etc, they should also refrain from eating with their mouth and instead eat from....

I have seen and lived through that era and heard the hate-filled speeches where Uma Bharti termed Muslims as 'Babar ki Aulaad'. The BJP state government functioned as a loony outfit with a single-point agenda: Ayodhya. In the name of Lord Rama and the holy Ayodhya, petty politics was played, passions were inflamed and people were fooled just for votes.

The SP-BSP rode to power in 1993 after BJP as Yadav, Dalit and Muslim votes together threw the BJP out. For the last 14 years, Mulayam Singh and Mayawati have been at the helm one after the other. From upper-caste bashing to Ambedkar Park construction and putting statues of little-known Dalit personalities, Mayawati did nothing except the consolidation of her votebank.

Her birthdays were celebrated lavishly and the party tickets were auctioned to the highest bidders. The Taj Corridor case brought her notoriety but the BJP was always eager to support her government. During Mulayam Singh Yadav's reign Yadavas flex their muscles like Dalits felt empowered when Mayawati was chief minister of the state.

Mulayam is charged with supporting politicians of the likes of Mukhtar Ansari and Raja Bhaiya apart from mafia dons. But all parties in UP are guilty on this count as they have used musclemen to their advantage.

It is clear that the national media has no love lost for Mulayam Singh. He doesn't have 'one-liners' like Lalu to charm them and his rural background surely goes against him. To his credit, riots have been few and figure of deaths comparatively quite less than under the Congress and BJP governments. The power situation has improved.

Rahul Gandhi's roadshows may bring the crowd but the party organisation is in shambles in the state. Electorate in Uttar Pradesh is not going to vote a party that stands little chance. They will rather vote for a candidate who has a chance of winning.

BJP has lost credibility on the Mandir issue. With 89 Brahmin candidates, BSP is quite likely to corner a chunk of Brahmin votes, which will damage the BJP. It is not clear how many Brahmins will vote for Brahmin candidate of BSP as 'Hathi nahin Ganesh hai, Brahma Vishnu Mahesh hai' is not going to erase the memory of 'Tilak Tarazu Talwar, inko maaro jute chaar' so early.

Raja Manda VP Singh, Raj Babbar, UDF and the rest who are under the umbrella of Jan Morcha are not going to make any impact. Ajit Singh's Lok Dal has lost credibility and even in Kairana and Baghpat his candidates seem to be in trouble. Just Jat votes and the lure of Harit Pradesh can't win him enough Muslim votes.

In a casteist society, caste will dictate the outcome of the elections. As no psephologist or any science can afford to make a true prediction in a state that has over 400 constituencies and where there is a four-cornered contest at most places, at certain constituencies there would be five to six strong candidates.

Dalits (22%) and Yadavs (12%) would overwhelmingly vote for the BSP and SP respectively. Musilms (18.6%) would go for SP as statements of Mayawati and her repeated alliances with BJP have not gone down well with them. Still, at places a strong Muslim candidate may fetch some votes.

BJP can't hope to gain much. It might lose a bit though. I see SP emerging as the biggest party but short of majority. BSP with BJP support may form a government. And once again the role of speaker will be crucial. Also, who the Governor calls first--the biggest party or the biggest alliance.

UP has been blamed in media as a failed state like Bihar. However, I tend to disagree. It has a huge population and yes lack of opportunities exist. But still the predominantly agro-based state hasn't seen any such suicides as seen in Karnataka, Vidarbha (Maharashtra) and Andhra Pradesh. Naxalites are under check unlike BJP ruled Chhattisgarh or Congress ruled Andhra Pradesh.

Does a shining Bangalore or Cyberabad can in any way justify the deaths of farmers in the respective states. People of Uttar Pradesh are mature enough. And it is up to them to decide who should rule them. Fortunately the power of vote, which is a great leveller amid astounding levels of disparaties, exists in India and people wait for years to exact their revenge through ballot box.

Sitting in a Delhi studio one can't judge what is best for UP when suave politicians who otherwise regale everybody in the talk shows, fail miserably. At least UP is very much in India unlike the 'Maoist Republic of Chhattisgarh'. And after all, the politicians come from amongst us and we deserve the people we elect.

Meanwhile, Urdu papers have come out with advertisements in the form of questionnaire that are apparently published at the behest of SP under the garb of an NGO. It seeks answers to questions like, who opened locks of Babri Masjid, Who got the idols established in Babri Masjid, under whose rule the Masjid was demolished etc etc. The ads targeting Behenji are no less amusing.
(The photographs:
1 Jan Morcha's advertisement in Urdu papers। VP Singh and Raj Babbar's photos can be seen
2. An advertisement issued at the behest of either BSP or Congress that puts a question mark on State government's intention regarding establishing Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar university
3. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sonia Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee at an Iftaar)