Politics and International Affairs and the quest for the ulterior motive.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Osama Tapes : The Great Propaganda War
Osama Bin Laden has allegedly come out with an audio tape where he claims to be winning aginst the coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was last heard in October 2004 and since then many analysts say that Osama might be dead or holed up in a tight situation. With this tape ( if it is actually him) will make the US sit up and take notice of the fact that the mastermind of 9/11 is very much alive and leading the global jihad.

The tapes are also an indication that Al-Qaeda realises the importance of propaganda and use of modern technology to further their cause. This first war of the 21st centuary has been fought much on the airwaves and the Internet as on the battleground. The horrific videos showing beheadings of Westerners helped spread terror to the World and made people relaise the rue barbaric nature of those leading the “holy war”. Also, with the appearance of Osama and Zawahiri on television screens have helped Al-Qaeda recruit many youths who then carry our outrage after outrage in places like New Delhi, London, Madrid, Bali etc. The US on the other hand has been poor in winning the hearts and minds of not only the Iraqis but also of their own citizens. Most newspapers and news channels have been critical of the war without sounding unpatriotic. A hand ful of media channels like Fox News have been actively pursiung Bush's Neo-Con agenda are trying to influence their citizens much like bin Laden has done in the wider Muslim World.

While it is debatable whther it is right for Al-Jazeera to be propagating the message of a mass murderer, it is only but right that all of us know whether the most wanted modern day criminal on the planet is alive or not. This tape actually does prove that he is alive as he does mention a timeline and deplores the US' plans to bomb the Al-Jazeera office, which tells us that the tape was made around November 2005. Instead of complaining about airing propaganda the US must actually wake up and step up its operations to catch or kill the terrorist. However, with “allies” like Pakistan actively providing shelter to the remanants of Al-qaeda and the Taliban it does seem like a uphill task. Till then the propaganda wars go on. And Bush has no clue how to shock and awe this one!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bofors: The boom never stops

Bofors is back again in the news. This time CNN-IBN has exposed the Law Ministry's move in which they have given the Italian businessman Ottavio Quattorochi the clean chit. This while the CBI is still pursuing the case and has issued a red-corner notice against the Italian businessman. Bofors has haunted Congress for decades and somehow each successive Congress Government seems to have been caught with some aftermath of the case or not. The Congress continues to maintain their stand that the whole issue is politically motivated and that no evidence of corruption exists against the Congress or the Gandhi Parivar. But, if this is the case then why not let all investigating authorites investigate and then exonerate everyone involved. While no one argues on hoe good the Bofors guns are, let us not forget that it was the same “tainted“ Howitzers that made us win Kargil. But, by acting in such a covert manner, apparently the PM was not even informed of the Law Ministry's move, it does point a needle of suspicion towards the Congress and the “First Family”. Pressure has now been stepped up to show H.R Bharadwaj the door. The opposition is hunting for their next scalp after Natwar Singh. However, it seems unlikely that the Congress will give in to this demand as it will severly weaken the UPA Government.

Further, the Prime Minister's image has taken a continous spate of beatings in the past few months in office. I acknowledge the PM for his honesty, competence and clean image, however, the post of PM is a poltical one. And whether he likes it or not, his active involvement in political matters is a must. He cannot relenquish that authority to Sonia Gandhi. Even if he does, there has to be some accountability from 10, Janpath. This lack of a singular power is the reason ministers from the PM's cabinet feel free to make statements that need continous clarifciations from the PM. It is unhealthy for a democracy where the Prime Minister is a mere onlooer in the hullaballo of national politics around him. He was mum on Volcker, except in giving Ms. Gandhi a clean chit, he was silent on the Bihar dissolution, during the phone tap issue he only exonerated Ms. Gandhi again and now he is totally out of the loop in the Bofors issue. Its time for Mr. Singh to stand up and be counted or step aside.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Amar Singh and the Third Front!

Amar Singh has been on a PR roller coaster the past few weeks. He was all over the TV screens and Newspapers for the alleged phone taps that he claims happened at the behest of the Congress and Sonia Gandhi. While it is no secret the animosity between the the Congress and the SP, this recent spat has polarised the whole non-Congress parties to join the chorus of the Great Tap Dance!

However, in all this brouhaha over what the tapes of the phone tap may contain I think the entire media has forgotten to see a new coming together of the usual suspects of the famed third front in this whole issue. First, it was the AIADMK that came forward in support of Amar Singh, next stop was Mr. Chandarbabu Naidu, another old “Third Front”advocate. And finally, with the Left parties joining in, the front was more or less complete in presenting a united stand against the Congress. Also, what was interesting was the BJP claiming that the phones of their leaders were tapped. With such a powerful pressure group forming within the UPA with support of non-UPA political parties, the chances of a third front emerging within this year is very realistic. Maybe, this phone tap issue was being used as an acid test to check the durability of the once strong Third Front, which unfortunately for the country, gave uninspiring leaders like HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral. So, while the whole nation laughs at Amar Singh and his “help me I am a victim“ antics their is evidence of a deeper political movement taking root. While I stand all against such a formulation because of the instability it will bring to the country, it does seem that many regional and national parties are still aspiring for a non-Congress non-BJP formulation and rule the centre.