Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Contrast Manmohan's indifference with Obama's empathy

Some days ago, when the Connecticut school shooting tragedy struck, within a few hours Obama gave this moving response at White House. More than his promise of action, it is his human response that touched many reassuring them that the leadership felt the enormity of the grief the common man felt. That is the immediate objective of any address a leader makes in any nation soon after a tragedy. Indian PM Manmohan Singh woke up from sleep days after angry protests against the gangrape in Delhi and addressed the nation yesterday. Contrast Obama's speech with that of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan's below and you can't help but wonder whether our mechanical Robot Singh would do anything ever without a choreographed word. Will anything ever at least move this man or anyone in the ruling elite into words (We, of course know, he is incapable of any action). After stoically trotting out a few lines, he asks 'theek hai?' to the guy recording it! So the response reveals itself as a forced one rather than one that came out of a real concern. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rape, Honour Killing, Acid throwing are all faces of same malaise

“I would blame the women who try to wear certain clothes just to keep in tune with the trend. They are the ones who provoke men.” - KPS Gill

4 years ago, in the city of Warangal in Andhra Pradesh, a girl studying B Tech was attacked with acid by 3 boys on her way back from college. That girl had her face disfigured and suffered severe burns. There was outrage all around. The YS Rajashekar Reddy government ordered 'stern action'. The 3 youth were nabbed and paraded before media. They confessed for the crime. Then the police shot and killed them. Instant justice, it was called. It was supposed to be a 'deterrent'. Or was it? Hardly 2 months later, there was another. And another. They continue as we speak.

The ongoing outrage about the shocking Delhi rape is following the same pattern. People want justice, instantly, now, on public television, if some have their way. They say the guys responsible have to be hanged, and it should be telecast 'live' on TV. They started an online petition too. Some believe that would be a 'deterrent'. Would it be? And what exactly are people implying when they suggest capital punishment for rape? That the crime is so grave that the girl raped is herself as good as dead!? Are they not perpetuating the myth that a woman loses everything when she is physically violated? Are they not making life more difficult for the victim? Is that not why victims turn to suicide? The whole campaign about hanging the rapists does more damage than good.

The focus of this campaign, unfortunately, has neither been about finding the cause of these ever increasing cases of rape nor has been about preventing it. It is so full of emotion, but no reason.

Crime Against Women in India - 2011              Courtesy: savedaughters
 When KPS Gill said those words above, what emboldened him? What could have emboldened him to do what he did with a woman IAS officer? Surely he knows law and that she knows it too. So it is not about punishment. It could only be something ingrained, something very much a part of his being, his daily life, his upbringing. Maybe he just thinks he is entitled, as a stronger sex, as a male. How else could we explain honour killings? The male thinks he is entitled to control the female - wives, sisters, daughters. How they live and who they live with. If the daughters and sisters elope with a lover, they will be killed. Some are beheaded – the taliban way. The boys they elope with will, in turn, get their sisters raped. What a gruesome culture we live in. Can we just hang it, on live TV? I wish it were that simple. According to National Crime Records, in 2011, rapes formed 10.6% of total crimes against women. There are more cases of molestation - 18.8% and even more cases of domestic violence from husband and relatives - 43.4%. As shown, rape is one face of the grave problem.

If an IPS can comment like this, we can imagine how that Delhi bus driver behaved with that educated girl. He must have thought he was entitled to pass lewd comments and physically abuse. When resisted, the male chauvinism his upbringing imbibed him with got threatened and he responded with rage. He might be thinking he was 'teaching her a lesson'. He just extended into the streets the household rule that man has the power over women in the house. He is not an alien. He is a violent brute, but very much the regular Indian.

In the acid attack case above, the police had evidence, they had a confession too. Yet, they preferred not to go by book and set an example. An example of how law would take its own course, convict and deliver justice. Instead they preferred to give instant gratification to the blood-baying public, 4 months before the elections. And in the process, actually strengthened the belief that courts won’t deliver! There is every possibility, the Congress could try something similar now, especially after how they seemed to deny a final appeal to Kasab, before the Gujarat elections. It serves their purpose but does not solve the problem.

Unless there is a broad realization that these crimes against women are not exactly law and order issues and that they stem from a soft discrimination against the girl child that is always prevalent in majority of Indian families, we would not be on a path to solution. Unless the Indian society starts accepting and inculcating a sense of respect and dignity for the female as an equal, things won’t get any better. Unless we put a stop to presenting a woman as an object, as a commodity, or furniture in our popular culture like TV and movies, they would never be seen for persons. And when such crimes occur, what we need is a support system, within and outside law, to cope and get back to normal, not the hue and cry we are seeing now that deludes the into believing that they ran into irreversible bad fate and are doomed for life.

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Are all World War films set in Germany shot in Germany?"

"Though a lot has changed now, people here in India had a different mentality from those in the West those days. Not many people here wanted to push themselves in order to excel at something. They were satisfied with okay stuff. So I really, really respect people like Mani Sir who had raised the bar here, in those conditions with our limited resources and technological talent." -  An excerpt from AR Rahman’s foreword in ‘Conversations with Mani Ratnam’.

Courtesy: Madras Talkies
There could have been nothing more apt for a foreword to a book on Maniratnam’s film-making than one from his greatest discovery – AR Rahman and the above words sum up briefly the zeitgeist that Mani Ratnam was for those who grew into their cinematic awareness in 80s and 90s. When mediocre stuff was being churned out as mainstream movies, it was Mani Ratnam who raised the bar and blazed a trail.

‘Conversations with Mani Ratnam’ stays with that spirit and focuses on the auteur’s craft of film-making single-mindedly. The book does not even inadvertently run into any juicy tidbits or controversies about any actor or film personality, even while discussing all of Mani Ratnam’s movies and the milieus in which they were made. No ‘Making of’ discussions, thanks to the author Rangan Baradwaj who seemed up for it and who was ‘well prepared’ for this exercise. Anyways, when the creative mind produces such wit, glimpses of which were in my previous post, who need tame tidbits?

What made me say ‘exercise’ could be what I saw a few years before on TV when Mani Ratnam was in Hyderabad promoting ‘Guru’. With the typical stupidity commonly seen on TV, the program’s lady anchor, even while expressing her awe for him and his movies, told Mani that it is ‘unbelievable’ that he, so eminent, worked with ‘someone like Mallika Sherawat’. Mani firmly shot back ‘Why?’ His seriousness and matter-of-fact voice made the anchor almost sweat while she sheepishly tried saying something about Sherawat’s image not being for his respectable movies. Mani, of course, enlightened her that what she saw on screen was Mallika playing different roles! And that he had a role in ‘Guru’ she was apt for and so she accepted and did a very good job. Rangan Baradwaj seemed to be around for quite some time as a film critic (although I never heard about him before this book), he knows all too well the non-nonsense man. So the first time he went to Mani Ratnam’s office to discuss the book project, while the filmmaker was speaking to him, he in turn spoke to the desk in front of Mani Ratnam! He admits in this book’s introduction that he confessed this experience with Gautham Menon and they instantly became friends, because Menon has had the same experience in his first encounter!

Considering this start, the author did a good job by the end as he seemed to have confidently engaged ‘Mani Sir’ on his vision behind each of his movies in 30 odd years, the style he kept evolving and the thinking that went into each of his characters. That is not to say that he didn’t have his share of moments like those faced by the lady above. Some of them are here giving a glimpse of the kind of riveting conversations the book records.

While discussing ‘Thalapathy’ -
RANGAN: Your location was Mysore (even though the story takes place in an unnamed location) and your characters are Tamilian. How important is geographical correctness to a film, especially considering the importance you gave to visuals and backgrounds?

MANI RATNAM: "..Do you think all World War films set in Germany are shot in Germany? It has to evoke Germany. It is like saying that the camera in a fight scene should be placed exactly where the punches land on the opponent…”

While discussing ‘Anjali’ -
When Rangan delving all too deep, says he thinks Anjali has ‘ghosts’, Mani quips that he hopes they are both talking about the same film! He adds ’If I had known that Baradwaj Rangan would raise this question, I would have placed that card’ referring to a card ‘A few years later’ that could have been placed to avoid Rangan’s wild assumptions.

Overenthusiastic, about ‘Dil Se’ -
RANGAN: Again, while loquaciously discussing the love between Shah Rukh’s and Manisha’s character, Rangan goes as far as to say “,,She's like a man - or rather, desexualized. So it's even more of a leap for him (Shah Rukh’s character) to fall for a girl who is pretty, but who is otherwise so 'unfeminine', so aloof. You can understand this exuberant Delhi boy falling for Preeti, who's equally exuberant."
Mani cuts him swiftly “You cannot come up with a commandment about whom a Delhi boy can fall in love with and who he cannot. Why do you think that falling in love has to be only with the stereotypical other?”

Again later Rangan puts his foot in his mouth by asking whether Mani Ratnam became ‘part of the establishment’ somewhere between ‘Roja’ and ‘Bombay’ because the latter was more political. Immediately, he retracts saying it was a ‘wrong thing to say’ after Mani Ratnam tears him down “Why should any concern for what is happening around be labeled as an ‘establishment’ way of thinking? I just don’t get it.” In context of Rangan’s comment that ‘Bombay’ has rabble rousing, Mani goes on to say Rangan seems to believe anything anti-establishment, whether true or not, relevant or not, is good and that the rest is rabble-rousing.

While the above reactions are caustic, they are but a part of the whole exercise of making the very private Mani Ratnam open up and speak about his craft. Rangan did a good job. Even while he was in awe of the filmmaker, he probed and took his chances in making Mani Ratnam react, explain, defend or evade and in the process reveal a little of the enigma he has been. Yes, only a little of what maketh the maker! More about that in my next post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'Conversations With Mani Ratnam' is a delightful read

Mani Ratnam's movies are the ones I have grown up watching. They were for real, urbane and intelligent. So when I got a chance to read film critic Baradwaj Rangan's newly released book 'Conversations With Mani Ratnam', I leaped on it. Considering the many questions I had and the many details I would have loved to know about all those delightful movies he churned out over the years, it is not practical for me to get satisfied with the book. But then, getting the reticent filmmaker to talk itself is a huge achievement. This is a delightful read, but is found wanting in the end. More about my opinion later, possibly in another post.

However, here are some gems from the filmmaker (Quote unquote from the book) I wanted to share with you. They show his wit and razor sharp insight and of course the high standards he set for himself and his movies. These are a series of delightful quotes and responses from him. For some, I paired them with Rangan's question to get the context.
  • "But during the first public screening, you understand everything that you did not understand during the making of the film."
  • "Watching the film with the audience was unadulterated torture. You want the film to move faster and arrive at the best shot and dialogues (at least, as per your judgement) and the humorous parts as quickly as possible. You want to run to the projection room and turn the reels faster. There was always a second's delay before the reaction could be heard or felt. That second was quite unbearable." 
  • RANGAN: When was the last time you saw Nayakan?
  • RATNAM: "Probably at the time of release. I've seen bits and pieces of its   afterwards, but I see only the flaws in it. Why go through that? I don't see any of my films after they are released. I can't bear them for more than five minutes. Honestly, I can't. For those five minutes, I'll think, 'Hey, this isn't too bad.' But the sixth minute, I'll see something that will make it turn it off. At the Venice film festival, I was trapped into watching Raavan. Otherwise, I watch my films so many times while making them that I don't want anything to do with them afterwards. That's why I sometimes can't remember the things that you are talking about..." 
  • "When you saw jaws for the first time, you just saw the tail fin. You never saw the shark till the end. What gave you a high while watching were the music and the shark's fin, and with just these elements, a director could create a pop sensational cross the world. The more he held back, the better it was....it would have had much less impact if they'd been fighting throughout the film. Action is just gratification. The promise of action is much more potent...
  • "Right or wrong, we all get influenced not only by life but by other actors. Something that Brando did or Sivaji Ganesan or Kamal Haasan did will stick around somewhere in the mind and influence you. But kids are without burdens. They are just themselves. If they are angry, they're angry like they would be angry."
  • "Anjali is about your own resistance to seeing something that's happening around you. I don't know if i'd like this revealed in a book, but I had a close neighbor who had a child with a small problem. for years, I could not look the child in the eye. It's something that bother you. You don't do it, and the fact that you are trying to avoid it is always there at the back of your mind. I think those feelings came together in this story, trying to understand why we try to hide from such a person and then, when we cross that mental barrier, how we build a rapport with that person."
  • RANGAN: Your movies never have expletives though. I can't recall any offhand. 
  • RATNAM: Perhaps I save them for real life. 
  • "They said Mouna Raagam had to be given an 'A' certificate because this girl is asking for a divorce. It came out of the blue. A lady on the board asked me how a housewife could ask for a divorce. After that I stopped being surprised by anything the censor committee would throw at me." 
  • "When we did Alaipaayuthey, we had a song at the beginning of the film, with the hero and his headphones. We shot it using a bit of a Backstreet Boys song, and we used the song while editing. We asked for permission to use that bit...they quoted a fancy figure of 1 crore rupees. We said, 'Forget it!' We composed a new piece and it worked absolutely fine. Much later, they asked us permission to use Chaiyya chaiyya. Till then, none of them had ever paid anything to an Indian film unit. So we quoted exactly the same figure. The music company was ready to give it to them for nothing, but we said no. If they can charge us this much, then we'll charge them as much. And we got it." 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In fragmented AP, clandestine politics is now the norm!

Naidu with 2 of the 3 MPs in controversy
Photo Courtesy: The Hindu/Md.Yousuf
The role of 3 TDP MPs in the recent vote for FDI has again bought into fore the clandestine politics that are now underway in Andhra Pradesh. The 3 MPs Sujana Chowdary, Devender Goud, G Sudharani are from financially strong background and none have them have the UPA’s CBI breathing down their neck for any case. Therefore, there isn't a reason for them to get either tempted or intimidated by the UPA. In fact, all 3 were handpicked by Chandrababu Naidu for Rajya Sabha despite stiff opposition from within his party. There is every reason to believe that the MPs did what they did, upon Naidu’s direction.

How the main political parties like Congress and TDP have made covert politics as a norm, rather than an exception, would be understood if we look at events of the past 3 years. It has been 3 years since the Indian government’s Telangana statehood declaration on Dec 9, 2009. The clandestine and manipulative politics that started that midnight unleashed a chain of events that are still unfolding today, further degenerating AP’s politics, reducing it to backroom deals rather than a public display of people's democracy.

While it is not unthinkable that now and then a politician gets some clandestine support from the opposing party, especially during elections, the kind of cross-party secret dealings presently underway in AP are astounding and hard not to notice.

The beginning of the ‘support mechanism

The secret part of SriKrishna report, Chapter 8, put in lurid detail how these covert politics started and were already underway by the time the report was released on 30 December 2010 (The secret ‘Chapter 8’, as you may know, was later leaked inadvertently). To contain the Telangana statehood issue, the SriKrishna Committee’s infamous chapter 8 made the following suggestions (in its own words) –

“.. the ruling party and also the main opposition party ( the TDP run by Chandra Babu) must be brought on the same page, the support mechanisms have a higher probability of becoming successful. The TDP must be advised not to participate in any further meetings that would be called by the Centre. This could be an effective stumbling block for any meaningful dialogue on resolving the Telangana demand. The Andhra Congress MPs belonging to Kamma caste must be encouraged to work in tandem with TDP leadership which is now caught in a bad shape.

Further, on receipt of the Committee’s Report by the Government, a general message should be conveyed amongst the people of the State that Centre will be open for detailed discussions on the recommendations / options of the Report with the concerned leaders / stakeholders either directly or through a Group of Ministers or through important interlocutors and that this process will start at the earliest. But every method must be adopted to avoid giving finality to any discussions to drag on the matter until the agitation is totally brought under control.

(c) Media Management:(i) Andhra Pradesh has got about 13 Electronic Channels and 5 major local Newspapers which are in the forefront of molding the public opinion. Except for two Channels ( Raj News & HMTV), the rest of them are supporters of a united Andhra Pradesh. The equity holders of the channels except the above two and the entire Print Media are with the Seemandhra people. The main editors/ resident and subeditors, the Film world etc. are dominated by Seemandhra people. A coordinated action on their part has the potential of shaping the perception of the common man. However, the beat journalists in the respective regions are locals and are likely to capture only those events/ news which reflect the regional sentiments. This can be tackled by the owners of the media houses by systematically replacing the local journalists by those from Seemandhra wherever it is possible.”

The ‘support mechanism’ flourishes

True to the Chapter 8’s revelations, the Congress and the TDP till now are playing hide and seek in declaring their stand publicly on Telangana and are making sure there is no forward movement on Telangana. Both the parties solidly backed the crackdown on the Telangana agitation which even resulted in fatal injuries to agitators. The result is that both the parties lost all 18 assembly constituencies in Telangana the by-elections were held for, in last 3 years. Their party candidates, In fact, got their deposits only in 2 or 3 constituencies!

Meanwhile, even as the 2 parties crumbled in Telangana, YS Jaganmohan Reddy challenged the Congress leadership for chiefministership and formed the YSRCP, which has been growing in strength in Seemandhra. In this context, the chapter 8’s ‘guidelines’ took a larger meaning for TDP and Congress. The Congress and TDP extended their cooperation beyond the Telangana issue. They needed a policy of continued quid pro quo between them to even politically survive, as their very existence is under threat.

While the Congress helps Naidu get around the CBI investigation unleashed by the High court (just as it did for YS Jagan), he would in turn not press for the no- confidence motion against the Congress government in the state at the most opportune times. Even while the Congress government crackdowns on any meeting, rallies in support of Telangana agitation in ruse of ‘law and order’ problem, it would go out of its way to facilitate Naidu’s yatras into Telanagana with unprecedented police security and thousands of TDP’s armed men. In return, Naidu would let the government just be, even without pressing for a winter assembly session! TDP’s stance with the Congress is once again belied with its MPs’ absence at the FDI vote in Rajya Sabha. True to the spirit of Chapter 8, both the pro-establishment and pro-TDP media continues to propagate how Naidu is ‘hurt’ by this betrayal, while it’s the MPs who were made scapegoats by Naidu, for his own political survival. And the drama goes on. There is nothing anymore that distinguishes the Congress and TDP or YSRCP. All play the same game they mastered in last 3 years. Nothing they say is trusted anymore; it is mere entertainment – an ongoing soap opera.

A real government and a real opposition?

The big question is - would these main parties ever get normal again – into a real government and a real opposition? Or would they continue being under the spell of Chapter 8’s ‘support mechanism’ with these backroom deals? The SKC set about ‘shaping the perception of the common man’ by suggesting manipulative politics and ‘media management’. Instead these strategies it recommended reshaped AP’s political spectrum by destroying the 2 strongest parties in the state. Did they reshape the perception common man? Yes, surely they did, in a large part of AP. So much so that an imminent election would wipe out these 2 parties from their roles in government and principal opposition into 3 and 4 positions and end the ‘support mechanism’ for the good. Till then, the genie unleashed by Chapter 8 would continue to hold its spell on AP’s politics.

Monday, June 18, 2012

AP By-polls: A Jagan vs. Goliath tale

It has been almost 3 years since my post on YS JaganmohanReddy’s handling of the political drama after YSR’s death. The naked ambition and intensity for power in display then by Jagan sustained to fructify into win in 15 Assembly constituencies and 1 parliamentary constituency now.  Even as he is seen battling umpteen charges of corruption while in jail, the party he founded decimated the Congress and TDP in the by-polls.

So what hit the Congress and the TDP the most in the recent by-polls in Andhra Pradesh? Their challenger Jagan was in jail for 15 days before the election making his YSR Congress party literally leaderless. He was interrogated quite publicly, shifting the venues of his interrogation every day and every detail about it was shared with media so that they cover it and publish for the public. Every detail about his arrest and interrogation was made public to create the image of a scamster and a criminal. His properties were attached and other ministers were jailed and interrogated just to send the message out that any minister/MLA who would side with his party would accompany him to jail. His connections with hardcore criminals involved in murders and extortion were made cover stories and prime time news in the powerful pro-TDP print and electronic media, just to remind the public what a devil is, the person they are going to vote is. Yet, the voters elected the devil. Or was it David, as in David and Goliath?

The whole joint exercise of Congress high command, TDP and the powerful pro-TDP media blew up and boomeranged. While these parties wanted to make corruption as the election issue, the core issue subconsciously for the voter has been the unethical nexus of the 2 established 'mainstream' parties and how they launched a witch-hunt against one man, an emerging third party. Too much CBI, too much media, too many speeches about ethics and corruption from Chandrababu, Chiranjeevi and Botsa (interestingly, who all have CBI or other investigative agency behind them in some or other corruption case) etc and their concerted attack on Jagan made the voter feel fishy about the situation and sympathize with the 'underdog' Jagan. In short, Jagan, who already has the financial wherewithal also, was unwittingly made to look like a victim and an underdog by the actions and over enthusiasm of Congress, TDP and the corrupt media. He reminded the voters about the historic NTR's challenge to the then mighty Congress way back in 1984. And naturally the voter sympathized with the uncompromising Jagan in this David vs. Goliath story.

As I posted last, the vote for YSR CP was due to lack ofalternatives. As far as the voter is concerned, there was no difference between these traditional parties and Jagan. 49% voted for Jagan (Congress and TDP polled 22% each) as he was seen as a victim braving the odds! Combined with that the traditional congress voters who believed he is the 'leadership material', in this age when parties seem to driven by secret pacts between them and empty rhetoric about public issues. Ever since his father died, Jagan was on road connecting with masses on issues related to different strata of society like students, farmers etc. which made him look like a 'doer' while Chandrababu's attempts to ape him looked uncharacteristic and forced.  With the Congress deciding to attack the ills of YSR rule while claiming credit for the ‘welfare programs for poor’ he launched, not a single Congress leader sounded sincere in their attack on Jagan.  By jailing him, the Congress and TDP could slow down the exodus of MLAs and cadre from their parties but could not stop the migration of votes. YSRCP may or may not retain the voters into the future, but it is unmistakably a permanent third force in Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. And as well be the future Goliath.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

What would a vote for Jagan mean?

Would a result of upcoming by-elections in favor of Jaganmohan Reddy indicate whether the people of Andhra Pradesh accepted corruption and loot of public wealth as a way of life and maybe even consider it a virtue?  In other words, would making Jagan a winner show bankruptcy of public morality among the people of AP? When a friend quipped something to this effect, he expressed an opinion of a middle class youth who have come up the hard way and made their lives in an apolitical environment. But such an apoliticalness also blinds them to the ground realities of public life and politics and make them blindly limit their views and opinions to news thrust upon the public by the mainstream media. I think any result in favor of Jagan would show not the bankruptcy of public, but that of other political elite in Andhra Pradesh who failed to challenge him because they are as corrupt or even more.

Overbearing Congress high-command hits a self-goal.
TDP and LokSatta sound hollow with their corporate connections.
Do the voters have an alternative in the upcoming AP by-elections? They don’t. The ruling congress which has now conveniently unleashed CBI in the graft cases against Jagan, has now unwittingly given an impression to the voters that it is the real culprit which allowed the whole loot for 6 years that is now being investigated. The way CBI has been used by the union government is outrageous and these elections would teach a congress a fitting lesson. It has just hit a self-goal with its timing of Jagan's trial.

The opposition TDP which has been hand-in-glove with the ruling congress and which infact saved the state government from collapsing lacks the moral high ground to accuse the Congress or Jagan’s party of corruption. It has redefined corruption in political sphere by changing the dynamics of ruling and opposition party. In its anxiety to scuttle Jagan as an alternate political force in the state, it has transformed itself into Team B for Congress.  It is the TDP which unveiled the contractors Raj in AP by speculating and manipulating on huge government contracts in infrastructure and real estate, while it was in power. YSR, after succeeding Naidu, just elevated the game. Every attack of Chandrababu Naidu on Jagan regarding corruption backfires and reminds the voters of his own large scale corporate dealings and how he elevated businessmen one after the other, his rumored benamis, worth thousands of crores to Rajya sabha. Even the small time Lok Satta party has taken questionable stand on issues linked to big corporations like those of Hyderabad Metro rail and the Srikakulam power plants. 

A negative vote against existing political parties
So no matter what these parties or the media channels/newspapers that support them want the voters to think, the voters in general are aware they are all the same. The result forecasted in favor of Jagan in Andhra and Rayalaseema is in fact a vote against all the political parties in the state. That would be a sign of displeasure by the voter against the Congress and TDP which conspired against democratic ethics to suppress Jagan, an emerging political alternative. It would be a vote against an overbearing congress government at the center. Not considering this history of political bankruptcy and viewing the present political scenario through the lens of the media which owns its roots to the very political setup working overtime to preserve itself against the Jagan onslaught will only give a warped picture and prejudiced opinions about how squeaky clean and progressive parties like Congress, TDP and Lok Satta are. The vote for Jagan, for me, would not be a sign of the voter’s ‘compromised morality’ as my friend tends to think.