Wednesday, February 1, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Pitroda dons OBC hat for rural connect

Pitroda dons OBC hat for rural connect
Manjari Mishra, TNN | Feb 1, 2012, 04.04AM IST

LUCKNOW: A 'Warm Welcome To Sam Pitroda', read one hastily scribbled
placard. Rest of them hailed "the great leader of Vishwakarma
community" or "Pitroda the backward icon". The group awaiting the
arrival of the IT Czar at the UPCC headquarters here on Tuesday whiled
away their time by merrily posing for photographs as the new
poster-boy of OBCs, ensconced with senior leaders rehearsed his lines.

They had a vague idea about Pitrodaji's contributions. "He is a well
known messiah of pichda varg (backward community) and could reach the
heights only because of the kind patronage of the Congress party," a
youngster in the caste reception committee said while others
vigorously nodded.

From Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda, an Odisha born Gujarati to Sam
Pitorda - the father of the telecommunication revolution in the
country and now carpenter Sam, his life has taken quite a turn since
the time Rahul Gandhi announced rather dramatically at a rally in Rama
Bai Nagar - a predominantly backward constituency - "the cellphone in
your hands is one powered by a policy which was promoted by Rajiv
Gandhi and made by this man - Satynarain Gangaram Pitroda who is a
Vishwakarma by caste".

Critics saw this as a deliberate attempt to pitchfork Pitroda as the
most saleable mascot to take the sheen off the "homegrown" OBC rivals
like Uma Bharati or Babu Singh Kushwaha, et al. "So far the charge was
being handled exclusively by Beni Prasad Verma. A dapper, smart and
super successful Pitroda makes the perfect choice to lure educated
youth. They would easily identify with and idolise him, a senior
Congress leader remarked hard selling Brand Pitroda in poll 2012.

And even as the debate about the Congress's attempt at identity
politics rages on, Pitroda himself has no qualms about the new role
scripted for him. Last week he flew down to Kanpur to release the UPCC
'Vision document' along with coal minister Shri Prakash Jaiswal and
deftly fielded caste queries. "Yes, I am a Vishwakarma and if can do
it so can anyone else," he had declared at the press conference.

A star attraction at the manifesto release in Lucknow, he reiterated
similar sentiments. He admitted that he is a member of the Congress
party. "I have been there since I don't know how many years," he said
in response to a query. And then belted out the caste ditty: "I am son
of a carpenter and proud to be one." He went on to add: "India offers
a lot of opportunities unlike other countries which are going through
a downturn. Anyone can reach the place and achieve whatever he did in
this country."

He dismissed media's insinuation that Rahul had specially projected
his OBC status for votebank policitcs. "It is not a matter of
projection," Pitroda retaliated. "Rahul only made a statement of
fact..where was the option, I am an OBC," Pirtoda now a trifle
irritated, loyally defended the son of his friend.

Though obviously interested in playing a long innings in hinterland
politics, the IT wizard and presently advisor to the Prime Minister on
public infrastructure and innovation, declared that UP needed to pull
up its socks and grow at the rate of 10 to 12 per cent, a higher rate
against the national average. The results of telecom revolution, he
said, are visible after 30 years since Rajiv Gandhi introduced it. "We
are a nation of connected billions. And the broadband connectivity
promised to all gram panchayats in UP by the Congress manifesto would
usher in another revolution," he said.

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