An Open Letter to the BJP Leadership Team

As I write this letter, speculation is rife that the appointment of Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy as the observer of Tamil Nadu BJP may not happen. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. Tamil Nadu needs a change from the dynastic DMK and the rudder-less ADMK. Congress is a non-entity and frankly, we are disgusted with their brand of monarchy. AAP is a non-starter. BJP is our only hope.

I’m a tax-paying citizen of India who resides in Tamil Nadu: a minority by any standards, since only 2.78% of the population pays income tax in this country; and a voiceless, superbly ignored minority, since no one gives a damn what we want. I have no illusions that this letter will be read by the who’s-who in the corridors of power. I can feel powerless by this – or, I can exercise my right to free speech and write a blog post. I choose to do the latter.

Here’s a list of the top-5 things people like me – educated, upper middle class, urban Indians in Tamil Nadu – want from their elected government. I have a feeling that this may not be too different from what my peers in other Indian cities want.

  1. We’re tired of the politics of freebies. The basic needs of the poor should be sorted out: Jobs, affordable housing, clean water, healthcare and food at reasonable prices. Giving them free mixers, grinders, fans, bicycles or laptops – without catering to legitimate needs – makes no sense. Keeping the poor on the government dole is an insidious ploy perfected by DMK, ADMK and Congress to make the poor feel resigned to their economic situation and be beholden to the parties in power.
  1. We’re tired of profligate spending in the form of subsidized salt, tea, movie tickets and breakfast – yeah, the infamous Re 1 idli. That money used for all this could be spent usefully, in creating assets for the state or in generating jobs is a no-brainer.
  1. Tamil Nadu must be amongst the most corrupt states in India. I see laughable reports that rank states based on the number of corruption cases filed and/or bribe moneys recovered. Judge not a state by the tip of the iceberg. Our conversations with investors show that almost everyone is reluctant to start anything big in Tamil Nadu: because of incessant demands for “suitcases”. The well-entrenched “culture” of bribery has stalled progress in the state. We need a CM who can strangle corruption.
  1. We want better infrastructure. By that, we don’t mean bullet trains or gleaming metro trains.
    • We simply want roads that won’t crumble in rain. The life of blacktopped roads depends on the % of compaction: A 98% compaction is needed to handle torrential rains and heavy vehicular traffic. But, obviously, this is expensive and contractors want to make obscene profits – the state government simply turns the other way when the public is short-changed.
    • We want working storm water drains.
    • We want a lasting solution to mosquitoes. Perhaps the government should focus on closing open sewers that mysteriously form when new roads are laid. Enough said.
    • We want the corporation to pick up and recycle our garbage. As it happens, we don’t like garbage piling up on the roads.

67 years after independence, these are still on our wish list.

  1. We want less government, especially in areas where they have spectacularly failed the people.
    • We’d like you to start with AAVIN, the scam-tainted milk cooperative. AAVIN officials helped truckers pilfer milk worth Rs 23 Lakhs every single day, for 10 years. Some pilfering, that. Unlike AMUL, a household name in India, AAVIN is a non-entity in other states. Should state governments sell milk? Or, focus on real problems?
    • We want you to dismantle the existing, dysfunctional PDS (Public Distribution System). A – Tons of commodities – mostly rice and kerosene – are stolen from PDS warehouses and sold in open markets – how can this happen without the connivance of insiders? And B – Consumers are at the mercy of shop attendants; they have to wait long hours to get goods at fair-price shops – often, they have to take a day off from work. And C – the products sold are of abysmal quality. For example, many people use the rice bought from PDS to feed chicken.

Issuing food stamps – which can be exchanged for food in any retail outlet – is a better alternative. This stops theft and it doesn’t lead to lost productivity.

None of this is rocket science. If only we get a state government that works for the betterment of its hardworking citizens. If only we get a state government that focuses more on governance and reducing graft and less on building their war chests and in propagating personality cults. If only.

Our question is – Will you?


  1. Quote
    Sankar (subscribed) said December 5, 2014, 12:07 pm:

    Nothing about Hindi & Sanskrit 😉 !?

  2. Quote

    Sankar – Thanks for your comment.

    Those are red herrings, not pressing priorities in my opinion. I think learning Hindi is a good idea. Sanskrit isn’t imposed in all schools – its a fringe item that just adds to the noise level without improving our lives.

  3. Quote
    Giridharan said December 5, 2014, 1:30 pm:

    Brilliant. Well prioritized. Let me see how this letter can work its way upwards to Amitji and Modiji

  4. Quote

    Giri – Thanks for your comment & kind words. I doubt if anyone in BJP’s top rung would get to see this. I wish there was a way to get across to them.

  5. Quote

    Brilliant.. my wishes aren’t any different for Kolkata.. build a city that I can go back to, work in peace, have a decent quality of life – build the basics for god’s sake!

  6. Quote

    It was as if we were talking at your house, debating seriously on some issues way back in 90s… Same tone…
    I now live in Gujarat for the past 2 years, and I can feel the change in quality of life here… The NH8 – Delhi – Mumbai is 6 laned and hardly u can see any pot holes despite the rains here – rainfall is normally mentioned here in inches than in mm as in Chennai. One month of Chennai rainfall occurred in a single day in BAroda, this monsoon.
    All govt depts have online portals. While corruption cannot be eliminated, accountability has been brought into the system. The officials visiting the industries ahve to record their findings in portal within a time frame. Govt officials share their visiting cards, come to industry in their own cars/ office cars, no hypes for visits etc are good points. The issues raised in a local collector meeting goes upto the state secretariat and comes reply.

    These points give lots of hope for us on Modi’s governance. I fully agree with all your points and request to post the same in Modi’s website/ PMO’s web site, so that it reaches the concerned faster..

  7. Quote

    Well written Priya.

    I think we have a ridiculously unhealthy ratio between welfare and development. I am of the opinion that welfare is a critical aspect in a country with so much poverty. But that is not done in a self respecting manner. Your other points are well articulated.

    Let me see if I can get this passed to somebody who can pass to our Union Minister of Commerce. Hope she will get a chance/ time to read this. I heard great things about her.

  8. Quote
    Sundar Matpadi said December 7, 2014, 6:17 am:

    Nice article Priya. To add to your list in my opinion, good education is a must for everyone. Empower everyone with education. Education will give people to reason and also provide them with self respect. It will make them ask questions or atleast make them think. That will hopefully get people out of ignorance and politicians/political parties/religious leaders cannot manipulate them.

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