Saturday, March 25th, 2023 15:55:33

Lucknow Boy predicts Congress Debacle In 2014 Ls Elections

Updated: April 20, 2013 5:41 pm

It is no secret now, in fact it never was and veteran journalist Vinod Mehta is bowled over Lucknow. He has completely transformed the moment he steps off the aircraft and onto Lucknow soil. For those who have seen him both in Delhi and Lucknow can vouch for this. His eyes acquire the innocence of a child, there is excitement writ large on his face and one can literally see flashbacks of nostalgia aglow in every sentence that he speaks—the famous journalist’s metamorphosis into just the happy Lucknow boy, as memories abound. The fact is that Vinod has never hidden his immense love for the city and misses no opportunity in coming to the city whenever he gets an invite. He says that he would not mind settling down in the city that helped shape his values in life.

“I know every curve, every nook of this city. My spirits lift every time I step down the plane here. Even Akhilesh (Chief Minister) and Mulayam cannot dampen my spirits,” says he. This is the city where he had bicycled for 20 odd years, before moving on to bigger platforms and recognition.

“My secularism is not pseudo-secularism that is so much in vogue these days. It is the true secularism that Lucknow gave me and I cannot thank God enough for that,” says Mehta. The influence of the city’s Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb has been so strong on him that caste and creed are words he totally abhors. And surely it is because of his love for Lucknow and the ease he feels when he is here that he opens up totally, talks straight and maybe speaks aloud truths that he would have otherwise not uttered on any other city.

He was in Lucknow recently to participate in the maiden Lucknow Literary festival. At the launch of his book Sanjay Story—From Anand Bhawan to Amethi Vinod spoke candidly, to journalist Mehru Jafer, calling a spade a spade. In fact, he spoke more truth than many Lucknowites could chew.

Mehta went on to predict that Congress (and mind you this when he is charged with being a Congress softie) will not be able to gather more than 60-70 seats in the 2014 general elections. He said one cannot expect it to do better with Rahul Gandhi controlling power. Mehta called Rahul the most unfit person for politics. “Rahul’s favourite pastime is reading Archie’s comics and that is where his sense of politics comes.” said Mehta.

Before this, he had already lambasted Sanjay Gandhi calling both him and Narendra Modi dictators of their era. Adding insult to injury, he said that Congress would have been a complete disaster had Sanjay been alive today. “His death was a divine intervention. Good that he is not alive today,” he said with a chuckle preceeded by a pout.

Even when the audience was trying to come to terms with this stark truth thrown in public domains, the audience was completely jolted when Mehta insisted that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would prove to be a stronger ruler if he came to power at the centre through a “democratic mandate”.

“I am a 50 per cent admirer of Modi and 50 per cent critic,” he said adding that if Modi worked within the constitutional framework, he would take the country far ahead. “But I insist that instead of his slogan “Indian first”, he should change it to “India first for all citizens,” said Mehta.

At a private dinner hosted at Sanadkada by Madhavi Kucreja, Mehta said if Modi wanted to sail triumphantly he would have to adopt “ Vajpayee model”. Mehta stressed that Modi’s enemies do not lie outside but within his own party and if he can counter internal politics there will be no stopping him from ruling over India.

Talking about his book on Sanjay written in 1978, Mehta said he had written it when he was the editor of Debonair, the magazine known for nude pictures of women. “Actually those days nobody took me seriously, so I thought, if I write a book on Sanjay, everyone will do so,” said Mehta with a disarming smile.

Calling Maneka Gandhi a schemer he said that her story got cut even before it had started. He said had Sanjay not died, had she not become totally overpowering and was disowned by mother- in-law Indira Gandhi, the whole political scenario of the country would have been different. She would have inherited the political legacy and power not shifted to Sonia.

Recalling his foray into mainstream journalism Mehta said that it was Atal Bihari Vaajpayee interview that he did for Debonair that brought out his political acumen and for this he gives credit to Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “Before this interview everyone in my journalist fraternity was jealous of me as they thought I was going around with all the centre page girls my magazine showed,” he added with another infectious chuckle.

By Kulsum Mustafa from Lucknow

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