Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Abuse of Governor's Office ?? No clear winner stokes horse trading in Karnataka

The cry over “murder of democracy” vis-a-vis abuse of Governor’s office has come full circle. 

There is so much of a debate about BJP abusing power in Karnataka vis-a-vis its earlier stance in Meghalaya and Manipur but there is a slight difference..YET BIG DIFFERENCE Meghalaya and Manipur....congress was reduced to SINGLE LARGEST party after being in power. In Karnataka, BJP gained huge from 40 to 104. ruling Congress strength reduced from 122 to vote against Congress was clear. Gov office is always it wise to presume Modi will hand over power to Rahul on a platter. 

Blogger: Bengaluru Cantonment/Vasant Nagar 

Sir, I remember days in Nagaland when Vamuzo was denied chance TO form government. In 1990 Jamir was dismissed by Governor M M Thomas when V P Singh was Prime Minister. 

The cry over “murder of democracy” vis-a-vis abuse of Governor’s office has come full circle.
Just as the ‘office of the Governor’ has come under focus yet again following high drama in Karnataka, many say the Governor Vajubhai Vala has only toed the convention of inviting the single largest party. But some also say the high profile controversy around his move is only a throwback to old episodes when Raj Bhavans had courted controversies under Congress.
It is wrong to presume that a Governor will have to act by consulting the central government or union Home Ministry. The constitution is clear, it requires Governor to apply his own mind. 

New Federal Front Player: JD(S)

In Karnataka case too, the Governor should have or must have reacted according to the situation created by the verdict - presumably. Allegedly helped by Governors, the BJP has grabbed powers during the past two years in states like in Manipur, Goa and Meghalaya by denying government to the single largest party (that being Congress) from an election. They changed the rules and conventions for them now?

Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, is a former BJP member, who vacated his seat in Rajkot, Gujarat in 2002, when Modi needed to win an election after the party made him state chief minister. The 80-year-old BJP veteran had won his Rajkot seat for a record seven times and served also as BJP president in Gujarat.

Well, Mr Vala has been a BJP leader and Minister in Gujarat and close to Prime Minister Modi, can we not draw our conclusion?

What went wrong??

"Politically, the stage is set for horse trading. But BJP is to be blamed for this," a Congress party source said.
An anti-defection law threatens disqualification of a member of the house if they resign voluntarily from the party or votes or abstains from voting against the party directive. However, a party could be merged into another if at least two-thirds of its legislators voted for the merger.

A jubilant BJP has termed the party's victory as historic. BJP leaders like Defensc Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the people of Karnataka have rejected the "toxic and negative politics of Congress."

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad termed it as "a victory of a Narendra Modi-led campaign. People of Karnataka, irrespective of caste and creed, reposed their faith in his programs and policies," Prasad, federal law and justice minister, told reporters.

Despite BJP leaders projecting themselves victorious, a post poll alliance of Congress and JDS, could still shatter the BJP's dreams of forming government in Karnataka.

However, media discussions project the BJP victory as indicative of trends that could sweep the national elections due in May next year. Congress had been working for victory in Karnataka to lift the sagging spirit of its workers in preparation for the national elections.

The Congress, the grand old party that ruled India for most its seven-decade history as a free nation, could be reduced to insignificance if it fails for form the government. The party runs governments in just two of India's 29 states, Punjab and Mizoram.

Some have credited BJP's victories to Modi's oratorical skills and his promises of corruption-free governance and socio-economic development. 

The cry over “murder of democracy” vis-a-vis abuse of Governor’s office has come full circle. 

It is only paradoxical turn of twists today that the Congress party is at the receiving end of the alleged ‘dictatorial’ culture of RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is during the height of such debates in 1980s that eminent jurist Soli Sorabjee once wrote: “Governor is not the employee of the Government of  India. He is not amenable to the directions of the centre and he is an independent constitutional office”.

By and large the debate has been that like most Governors, the incumbent at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru (Mr Vala) also toed the ‘political’ line of BJP – the party in power in the centre.  
A Bengaluru-based educationist Manjunath Vijay Kumar has his argument: “Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala has been a BJP leader, who vacated his seat in Rajkot in Gujarat in 2002 when Narendra Modi needed to win an election after the party made him state chief minister. So, we can draw our conclusion”.

In this context, a closer look at past instances would be important.  In 1973 Orissa High Court held the Governor’s role ‘wrong’ when towering non-Congress leader Biju Patnaik of Pragati Party was declined opportunity to form government after Congress ministry headed by Nandini Satpathi had resigned.

In more recent years, regionalist stalwart in northeast Vamuzo was declined opportunities to form government in Nagaland in 1987 when Hokishe Ministry of Congress party was reduced to minority.

In 1992 again Vamuzo was dismissed by the Rao regime and President’s Rule was imposed after he had recommended dissolution of state assembly. “I am not surprised, after all, the Congress has always considered itself as imperial power and treated the northeastern tribal people as residents of  Congress colonies,” the late Vamuzo had said. There were other instances too.  

Way back in 1959 the CPI-M regime was dismissed arbitrarily by the Nehru government. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Wanted modern politico-socio reformer in Namo? What is Delhi without 'DalXXs' ?

Essentially one bad thing had happened in 2015. The defeat of Narendra Modi and victory of caste game and players like Lalu Prasad in Bihar.

The development actually weakened the 'man with a difference' in Narendra Modi - who had piloted his party (with a difference) to a massive victory in 2014. Most of India voted for him forgetting they were Lingayats or Yadavs. The decisive mandate unnerved the hitherto established players - the casteists, communists and Congress got a shock of their lives. But sadly, they decided to chose the wrong path and ultimately pushed the country back to the politics they are very good at - casteism, anti-India rhetoric and playing up the fear factor amongst Muslims and Christians.
Hence, Mr Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah also got into business - reworking the caste modules and started making every election a prestige issue.
Media also played its part. The SICKULARISM was its best.
Even a loss in  by-polls were highlighted with banner headline suggesting it will be erroneous to believe that Modi can come back in 2019. Time and again this happened. Electoral victories for Modi in states like Tripura - a Left fortress for generations - was dismissed as aberration and by-poll defeat in Uttar Pradesh was highlighted as vote against Prime Minister.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Battle for 2019 comes alive as heat is on for voting for Karnataka Legislature

Already seen as a litmus test for the BJP and Congress and also as an indicator of the popularity of the Narendra Modi government, Karnataka Assembly polls is all set to pass verdict on Prime Minister’s ‘mass appeal’ and Congress adopting a mixed political strategy of giving space to the state leader Siddaramaiah but keeping Rahul Gandhi in limelight. Admittedly the BJP had unleashed its election strategy on defensive mode and had to depend on the popular Lingayat face B S Yeddyurappa – notwithstanding the old corruption charges against him. But as the electioneering entered the crucial stage, PM Modi's mass appeal seemed to make all the difference in electoral politics.

For his part, in this year’s Karnataka polls, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has tried to present himself as a ‘challenger’ to Prime Minister and said “now (he has) learnt to deal with the Prime Minister”.

At a symposium on May 8, when a member of the audience asked him if he could be next prime minister, Mr Gandhi responded: "Well, that depends on how well Congress does. I mean, if Congress is the biggest party, then yeah."
Prime Minister Modi – albeit deliberately – entered the election stage late and his party did well to package and present his ‘winning’ image of a 'decisive and performing leader' – committed to upholding traditional Kannadiga culture and who also struggles hard to fight corruption and for India’s development.
In number of places, Mr Modi sought to attack Congress leaders including Pt Jawaharlal Nehru of showing disrespect to Karnataka’s ‘sons of the soil’ and two top military officers Gen K S Thimayya and Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa.

He also said while Congress celebrated Tipu Jayanti, but due respect were not paid to Lord Basaveshwara.
Echoing this line of attack, BJP chief Amit Shah said: "The people of Karnataka understands this well. There has been a politics of appeasement (of Muslims) by the Congress. The Congress tried its old vote bank consolidation yet again and today the party stands exposed before the people”. In fact, from BJP’s point of view – Amit Shah’s election management skills came into focus - probably first time after UP - as he himself took charge of even minute things and had camped himself here by renting a house at city’s Fairlady Layout locality.

The heat is on for the May 12 election in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, where the pro-Hindu party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and rival Congress have pursued an aggressive quest for power in the run-up to the 2019 general election. A feverish campaign ended on May 10 with star campaigner Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressing a series of rallies and meetings, attacking each other's policies at national level and almost forgetting state issues.

Congress, which runs the state, believes victory in Karnataka would boost party workers of India's grand old political outfit, which has lost polls in various states and nationally since 2014. For Modi's BJP, which came to power in New Delhi in 2014, it is a popularity test of its policies and, more importantly, its ideology of building a nation based on Hindu principles. Modi's critics have accused him of making false promises of industrial growth, jobs and incentives for farmers.

Surveillance teams appointed by the Election Commission on May 8 seized cash, alcohol, jewellery and items such as pressure cookers, clothing and laptops suspected to be used as sweeteners for votes across Karnataka.

Congress repeatedly accused Modi of lying and twisting historical facts during the election campaign to put Congress leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru in a poor light. Modi often accuses Congress leaders of apathy and ignoring India's progress. "Modi has been distorting facts and presenting issues out of context, giving wrong data, misrepresenting historical truths. The kind of things he has been saying in the election campaign has embarrassed India," Congress leader Anand Sharma said. 

But BJP leaders are cocksure of victory in the state after Modi's campaign tour in which he addressed more than 15 major rallies in front of massive crowds. "People strongly want a BJP government in Karnataka," said Prakash Javadekar, human resource development minister.  

He said he would not be surprised if Congress takes only 44 of the 224 seats in Karnataka.

"Congress have lost state after state. They are afraid. They will lose this state also," Javadekar said, noting that the party now only rules Karnataka, Mizoram and Punjab of the 29 Indian states.

Since its 2014 national election defeat, Congress has lost power in states like Maharashtra, Assam, Uttarakhand and Haryana. Congress also lost in states like Meghalaya, Nagaland and Goa, where their sizable Christian populations traditionally supported them. However, Congress too is bullish about retaining power in Karnataka. "The BJP will lose out in Karnataka. The countdown for 2019 will begin," said Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal.

Congress leader Mr Venugopal also claimed that the effective and successful road map prepared by the Congress for Karnataka polls ensured that leaders at all levels were involved.  “The candidate selection process itself is a new method we adopted in Karnataka. I used to have regular weekly one-on-one meeting with Rahulji in addition to daily interaction over phone. This time for selection of candidates we involved maximum number of people. This was something new in the Congress”, said Mr Venugopal.

K C Venugopal: Rahul aide

A senior Congressman in his own right, Mr Venugopal also said, “Earlier selection of candidates in the Congress party used to be done in a more secretive manner and decision making process was mainly confined to three-four people including the Chief Minister and AICC general secretary. But this time people from districts and all AICC secretaries were all involved in the entire process”.

In the ultimate, answers to many of these questions raised by political stalwarts and at times even by analysts vis-a-vis the outcome of Karnataka polls remains only in the womb of time.

Nevertheless, there is a paradox about Karnataka polls and the outcome of battle for Lok Sabha. In 2008, BJP won Karnataka but suffered reverses in 2009 parliamentary elections virtually decimating L K Advani from the political landscape and in just role reversal in 2013 while Congress mustered a convincing majority in Karnataka, the grand old party lost the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 and its tally came down to all time low of 44.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Karnataka polls: Division of Muslim votes can be setback to Congress

Muslims are becoming the focus of elections in India's religion-sensitive Karnataka state, where next month's polls are expected to have national repercussions. The state's ruling Indian National Congress party aims to consolidate Muslim votes to retain power, but the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would be glad to see those votes scattered between parties to create a setback for Congress.

Muslims, who just form 13 percent of 60 million people in the Hindu-majority state, can certainly tilt the electoral balance if they vote en masse, particularly in certain pockets where they are as high as 20 percent.

"Muslims have decided to support Congress in general," said Muslim software company employee Qadir K. Hussain in state capital Bengaluru.

Muslim votes are key in India's crucial Karnataka election. As smaller parties court the religious minority, the vote may split and hand over victory to the pro-Hindu BJP on a platter ! 

Muslims are traditionally considered Congress supporters in Karnataka, where the party projects its Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as the champion of Muslim interests even though he is not a Muslim.

K. Azeejbhai, a Muslim man in Bengaluru, said Siddaramaiah has "proved to be a tough man as he stood firm" against Hindu groups who opposed birth anniversary celebrations for Tipu Sultan, a legendary 18th century Muslim ruler.
Siddaramaiah's tough decision won the confidence of Muslims. He also introduced a welfare scheme to help economically poor women from the Muslim and Christian communities.

"This is a big hit among poor Muslim families. Many Muslims believe Siddaramaiah is a truly strong leader of Muslims," said Azeejbhai. Congress aims to win this election to boost the confidence of party workers for the next general election. Congress came to power in Karnataka five years ago by unseating the BJP. A BJP victory in the state would establish the popularity of the Narendra Modi government nationally.

Besides standing firm on his decision, the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah won the confidence of Muslims also by his welfare scheme like Shadi Bhagya. 

“Under the Shadi Bhangya scheme minority poorer women Muslims, Christians and others get Rs 50,000 cash assistance from the government. This is a big hit among the poor Muslim families. These have led many Muslims to believe that Siddaramaiah is now a truly ‘strong leader’ of the Muslims in south of India,” says Azaajbhai seeking to compare with much taller leaders from northern Indian state like Mulayam Singh Yadav, a former Defence Minister of India.

But all that glitters may not be gold and the Congress need not have cakewalk with Muslims votes.
Interestingly, the real challenge to Congress mustering lion’s share of Muslim votes and thus “keep the communal BJP at bay” comes from the Muslims themselves.

Several other parties are seeking Muslim votes, purportedly to keep the sectarian Hindu party at bay. But in effect they could split the Muslim vote and help defeat Congress or other secular candidates, handing victory to the BJP. The new Social Democratic Party of India, whose base is among Muslims in coastal Karnataka, plans to put up candidates in seven of the 224 constituencies for the May 12 election. Janata Dal (Secular), led by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, could also lure Muslims with his secular credentials.

Hard-line Muslim party All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen's chief Asaduddin Owaisi has announced that it will support Janata Dal (Secular) candidates.

Another newly floated outfit seeking to draw support among Muslims, especially women, is the All India Mahila Empowerment Party, founded and led by Nowhera Shaik, a tycoon in neighboring Andhra Pradesh. She has promised 50 percent of its candidates will be women.

"All these smaller and self-proclaimed Muslim parties contesting against Congress will only ensure victories for the BJP. They are self-destructive moves by the parties, incidentally run by Muslims only," said local Congress leader Azad Ebrahim in Bellary.

Mohammd Ezaz, a tailor at busy Chandnichowk Market, said "the challenge for sincere Muslim voters is not only to vote for Congress but also to ensure that the BJP cannot use Muslims directly and indirectly to defeat a Muslim candidate of a strong party like Congress."

Rural Voter: Knows his Caste & Politics too well

In the past also it has been experienced that split in Muslim votes actually lead to the defeat of the Congress or candidates from other secular parties – and thereby help BJP win many such seats.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Congress banks on populism to restore lost glory: Caste plays vital role in Karnataka polls

The pre-election mood in Karnataka is hardly encouraging as ‘Politics of Divisions’ as surfaced with the political parties talking about caste, sub-ethnic groups and religions probably as the ‘principal factors’ in deciding their future course of actions. Ironically this has happened in one of the few progressive states of Karnataka – which always prides in being “different” from the run-of-the-mill stuff or for that matter other states which fall under BIMARU categorisation.

Battle Ready !

If caste is a menace in UP and Bihar, it is part of classy debate! But why?

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Cambridge Analytica: A saga of manipulation of data to influence electoral mandate?

Best credited for 'helping' Donald Trump emerge the ultimate winner in 2016 US Presidential elections, British data mining and analytics firm Cambridge Analytica in its home page claims to help political parties 'find voters' and 'move them into action,' media investigations say.

'We find your voters and move them to action....By knowing your electorate better, you can achieve greater influence while lowering overall costs'-it affirms.
According to a report in the British daily, 'The Guardian': 'The company at the centre of the Facebook data breach boasted of using honey traps, fake news campaigns and operations with ex-spies to swing election campaigns around the world, a new investigation reveals.'

The company's home page further asserts: 'We are the global leader in data-driven campaigning with over 25 years of experience, supporting more than 100 campaigns across five continents. Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections.'
The media firestorm as well as tough comments from investigating agencies and governments came after Britain's Channel 4 News on Monday filmed senior executives at Cambridge Analytica, including its CEO Alexander Nix, suggesting the firm could use sex workers, bribes and misinformation in order to try and help political candidates win votes around the world.

Channel 4 released a three-part documentary titled ‘Data, Democracy and Dirty Tricks’. Nix, meanwhile, has been suspended from the company. 

The Indian narrative:

In the Indian context, IT Minister Ravi Shanker Prasad warned against the abuse of technology and cautioned that if required, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg could also be summoned. 

"Mr Marc Zuckerberg you better note, if any data theft or abuse of data is done by using the Facebook system it shall not be tolerated. We have stringent powers under the Information Technology Act including summoning you in India," Mr Prasad told reporters here. 

He also linked the Indian National Congress with the imbroglio. Mr Prasad questioned whether Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi had enlisted the services of the company to boost its election campaign in Gujarat and now in Karnataka.

The Congress dismissed the charges outright.

'News about Congress engaged/engaging with Cambridge Analytica is absolutely false,' the head of the social media unit of the Congress Divya Spandana tweeted. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Sushma targets Rahul: Political row surfaces over killings of Indians in Iraq

Intense political backlash surfaced on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, over the deaths of 39 'missing and abducted Indians' in Iraq with the government and opposition parties trading charges on how best the "sensitive issue" could have been handled or was 'not handled'.
While opposition parties accused government for 'misleading the nation' on the issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi complimented External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and MoS Gen VK Singh. 

In a terse reaction, the Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said,''The Modi Government has crossed limited of insensitivity in the matter of the 39 Indians abducted in Iraq by the ISIS" and questioned why the government, the External Affairs Ministry and the External Affairs Minister "misled the country and the family members of the victims".  

Endorsing similar sentiment, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury condoled the deaths of Indians killed most likely by terror outfit Islamic State and tweeted saying: "The question about why the BJP government kept giving them false hopes of being alive for past three years must be answered". For her part, Ms Swaraj denied having "misled the country" and also made a vitriolic attack against the Congress for disrupting the proceedings in Lok Sabha when she was to make a statement on the matter. She especially directed her ire against Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the unruly behaviour of the party MPs. 

Ms Swaraj asserted that the government "never misled" anyone nor gave any false hopes on the possibility of the survival of missing or abducted Indians. They were kidnapped in 2014 in Mosul, an IS infested hub.
She also said two heads of states have said earlier that "they (abducted Indians) were not killed".

Addressing a press conference here - shortly after making a statement on the issue in Rajya Sabha, Ms Swaraj said the government has so far no details on whether these Indians were tortured or abused as "slaves".
"We did not get any information about these details.....but yes, we got information from two heads of states that they have not been killed," she said.
Asked whether government could have given credence to the version of one of the survivors Harjeet Masih that all 39 Indians have been killed, the Foreign Minister said, "Harjeet Masih is just an individual....he can easily say somebody is dead. But we are a government here. We could have taken his words and said easily that they are dead, but that would have been irresponsible".

"Khoye huye ho to maare huye samjhe jaaoge' yeh sarkar aisi nahi hai (Just because you are missing, you may be considered dead, this NDA government is not like this)," Ms Swaraj said.

 "A responsible government has to look for evidence ...Our efforts have actually helped us to reach logical conclusion. Today I can affirmatively say, yes they are dead. I have their DNA certificates to say so", she said.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also has said that, "the way the government gave high hopes to the families was not right".
In fact, Harjeet courted controversy in 2015 - when months after government had asserted that efforts were still on to 'find' the missing Indians - mostly construction workers -  he had said all those abducted have been killed.
Speaking to the press at the Mohali residence of AAP leader Bhagwant Mann, Masih had said those ill-fated Indians were all shot a few days after they were abducted.
To a question here onTuesday, Ms Swaraj denied that Harjeet Masih was harassed. "There is no harassment...He was kept in protective custody only".

The story of lone survivor - Harjeet Masih - in the crisis in Iraq when 39 Indians first went missing in 2014 and now declared dead is turning curious and even murkier to an extent.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj - fielding volleys of questions on 28-year-old Masih who had managed to escape - told a press conference here that his version could not be given much credence.
"When Gen VK Singh (Minister for State for External Affairs) went there, the company owners said he changed his name into Ali and with a Bangladeshi visa, he escaped," Ms Swaraj told a press conference answering a pointed question.
Ms Swaraj was asked how could she be so certain that anything Harjeet Masih said was a "lie".
She also said: "I am satisfied that I had stated that I will declare them (39 missing Indians) dead only on the day I have concrete evidence, I kept my word. I will get my closure when I would hand over the mortal remains to their families and they receive proper last rites".       
"We had been saying that we neither have the evidence of them being alive nor the evidence of them being dead. We maintained this in 2014 and 2017. We did not keep anyone in dark. We gave no false hopes," she said.
To another question, Ms Swaraj denied that Harjeet Masih was harassed. "There is no harassment...He was kept in protective custody only".
In fact, Harjeet courted controversy in 2015 - when months after government had asserted that efforts were still on to find whether missing Indians - mostly construction workers -  he said all those abducted have been killed.
Speaking to the press at the Mohali residence of AAP leader Bhagwant Mann, Masih had said those ill-fated Indians were all shot a few days after they were abducted, and chances of their survival were “bleak”.

Slamming Congress members staging unruly scenes in the Lok Sabha, Ms Swaraj said: "For last few days the Congress party has been trying to give the impression that they are ready for a discussion on No Confidence motion. So what's that extra ordinary thing happened today .....I can understand only one reason. After seeing the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha, the Congress president (Rahul Gandhi) must have felt how this was allowed....So he disallowed the similar scene in Lok Sabha".
"Today's behaviour by Congress members in the House was of immense low ebb and it crossed politics of lowest nature (occhey rajniti)," she remarked.
Both in the Rajya and later at a press conference later, she said of the 39 Indians who went missing around June in 2014 - DNA tests conducted has confirmed that samples of 38 people have matched and one person Raju Yadav from Bihar has matched only 70 per cent.
"Of the 38 Indians, 27 were from Punjab, four from Himachal Pradesh, six from Bihar and two from West Bengal," Ms Swaraj said.
On whether some compensation may be announced for the families of the victims, Ms Swaraj said fist priority for the government is to reach help the bodies reach their destinations.
Minister of State for External Affairs Gen V K Singh will go to Iraq to bring back the mortal remains of the Indians killed by terror outfit Islamic State (IS) and the bodies will be also taken to the nearest kin in Pubjab, Himachal, Bihar and West Bengal, she said.