Sunday, December 31, 2017

Despite 'wake up' call in Gujarat, 'Moditva magic' works for BJP

The 'Moditva' as a brand must have survived in the year 2017 for the BJP but the outcome of just concluded Gujarat elections that saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi make blistering campaigns left a few crucial political lessons for Modi-Amit Shah duo.It is probably for the first time in last three and half years since BJP came to power in 2014, it has to reconcile to the fact that the 2019 parliamentary elections will not be a cakewalk as was perhaps presumed earlier.
The agrarian distress and winning support base in rural India remains BJP's formidable challenges.
Modi's pioneering 'slogan' in Ahmedabad

But Mr Modi's mass appeal seemed to make all the difference in electoral politics. While he saved BJP's prestige in Gujarat - making use of a seaplane flight on the ultimate day of campaign, in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere the success of the pro-Hindu party rested safely on the shoulders of its leader and Mr Modi as he packaged and presented his winning image of a Hindu leader who struggles hard for India’s development.
The BJP as a ruling dispensation and Narendra Modi's government had come under severe criticism for the GST and its demonetization move in 2016 and a reduced number of seats in Modi-Shah's home state were like spoilsport for the party which otherwise had enough reasons to ring out the circa 2017 on a celebratory note.
Experts interpreted verdict in his native state - a formerly Hindutva laboratory and a hub of 'Gujarat model' of development - as a "wake up" call. Sadly, for Mr Modi - his style of campaigning - often vitriolic especially against his predecessor Manmohan Singh was also seen as unbecoming of a Prime Minister.

But in the ultimate for the party, Mr Modi remains its star face and it was purely his 'mass appeal' that saw BJP successfully brave 22-year-old incumbency in Gujarat -- even as the number of seats declined by 16 from whatwas in 2012.

Speaking politically, BJP consolidated its hold across the country gaining power for itself and its allies across 19 states - a record by itself. Previous best haul of Congress party was 18 during the hey days of Indira Gandhi. The saffron party - often underestimated and slammed for its pro-Hindutva politics, wrested power in another northeastern state of Manipur. 
In 2016 it had stormed to power in Assam.
As the stage is set to usher in a new year, the BJP and its chief vote-catcher Mr Modi has set the stage for their first face-to-face battle in the February-March 2018 assembly polls in Congress-ruled Meghalaya and Marxists-ruled Tripura.

In terms of political consolidation, BJP wrested power in the year in country's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh - besides Goa and Uttarakhand while the power slipped out of Akali Dal-BJP combine in Punjab. The pivotal Uttar Pradesh state elections show a swing to Hindu nationalism - a fact demonstrated by emergence of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister and also at a later state Congress chief Rahul Gandhi forced to undertake temple hopping and play up 'soft Hindutva' in Gujarat polls.

In terms of political strategy, BJP played a mixed-policy with Muslims. In Uttar Pradesh, it did not field Muslim candidates and the number of Muslim legislators in the newly-elected House has dropped down to 25, an all-time low.
But the Triple Talaq Bill piloted by it in Parliament would be seen in times to come as one of the best known political googly of our time.
On December 28 as the Lok Sabha gave its nod to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 bringing the practice of Triple Talaq within the ambit of criminal offence, BJP lawmaker Meenakshi Lekhi said, 
"When they have a brother like Narendra Modi, they do not need to be afraid of anyone".

Among other electoral battles, the BJP stormed back to power in Himachal Pradesh. In northeastern state
of Tripura, the saffron party officially entered the Tripura assembly after the Speaker on December 8 recognised
six former Trinamool Congress legislators who had defected to the party as BJP members.
"The isolation of Congress has brought the BJP to the centre stage of national politics. The sheer opportunism displayed by regional parties like Trinamool Congress in dealing with the CPI(M) has weakened Mamata Banerjee's party in Tripura. All these are helping BJP cause," said Gautam Biswas, a former Trinamool leader in Tripura. 

It is not only states like Tripura, which is otherwise fund-staved and is vulnerable to political manipulation, even in Tamil Nadu, the BJP is serious about making its bid.
Post-Jayalalitha, eyeing the political vacuum, the BJP has tried to gain ground but the bypoll election at RK Nagar showed that things are still far off.

Now the BJP has set its eyes in Congress-ruled Karnataka that will see elections in May and also in Meghalaya - wherein it has decided to go soft on the beef ban row where Christian votes will be key to winning seats.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Modi’s unstoppable march challenged ?? Or its all hype?

No one doubted victory of the BJP and Narendra Modi in Gujarat. But this time it is no cakewalk ! 

When the first phase of elections ended in the western state on December 9, predicting the final outcome became fraught. A second stage in the election is set for December 14, with the victors and the vanquished to be announced four days later. Lalit Thummar, president of the Amreli Diamond Merchants' Association, said this time it is no cakewalk for the BJP.”

His association represents enterprises that process and export most of India’s diamonds, which constitute a significant part of all international trade in the precious stones. Thummar believes that two key decisions of the government led by Modi undermined prosperity in the state. The first was a decision to withdraw high-value banknotes from circulation in November 2016, purportedly to fight black market operations. And he cited as second major factor the goods and services Tax (GST) introduced in July this year. The middle class, mid-level entrepreneurs, traders and small business people who were Modi supporters had been most adversely affected, Thummar explained. Observers say the result of the Gujarat election could affect the stability of the national Modi government, not least through exacerbating ongoing leadership struggles within the BJP. 

This, in turn, threatened to impact on general elections scheduled for 2019.Social analyst Parthbhai Bhatt noted that the BJP, sensing trouble, had announced a relaxation of the tax regime. But it remained unclear as to how far that would mitigate against self-inflicted political damage already done.

Bhatt noted that the Prime Minister took the state electoral battle seriously as a defeat, or even a poor performance, could erode his support base across the nation.BJP poll strategists are promoting the message that economic growth and greater social justice have been achieved at a state level along with the tackling of corruption.
The BJP’s rival opposition Congress Party, which has been out of power in Gujarat for 22 years, sees an opportunity to revive its electoral fortunes nationally by exploiting anti-incumbency feeling within the state.Nationally, Congress suffered a shocking defeat to the BJP in 2014. Congress was reduced to 44 seats in the 543 seats national parliament. This was despite having run the government in New Delhi for most of the period since independence in 1947.

Congress winning the Gujarat election, or bettering its current position of 60 seats, would provide an impetus for the party and its new leader, Rahul Gandhi, to become a serious contender for power nationally in 2019, Bhatt said. And a victory in Gujarat would be made sweeter for Congress by the fact that the state is considered a stronghold of the BJP and Modi, who was its Chief Minister from 2001 to 2014. 

Sensing an opportunity, the Congress Party has struck at BJP weak points such as the new tax policy.Congress leader, Randeep Singh Surjewala, told that the BJP had made the tax system complex and difficult to implement.Modi has thrown himself into the thick of campaigning, addressing a series of rallies ahead of the second phase of voting on December 14.Some pre-poll surveys indicated that there would be a close fight.
One survey predicted that the BJP would gain 91-99 seats in the 182-member house and the Congress Party 78-86.

The BJP is faced with a tight contest partly because Hindu political unity has frayed. And some leaders of Dalit groups, formerly known as untouchables, have disassociated themselves from the BJP.Hindu vigilante groups formed to protect cows, an animal they revere, have attacked Dalit people in recent years for transporting cattle or dealing in their hides.

And two groups of the Patel Hindu caste that make up the Patidar community have complained that the government has ignored their demand for more seats to be reserved for them. Agitation on the issue took a violent turn and some Patel youths were killed. A number of their leaders were jailed.

Rameshbhai Valia, a Gujarat bank employee, said after two decades of BJP rule it could be time for a change.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Can Rahul Gandhi's revival derail Modi's BJP?

Is Nervousness apparent in the ranks of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it braces for a crucial state election in the Gujarat state in December?

The unease in the ranks of the BJP, which is seen as the party of choice for Hindu nationalists, stems from a feeling that its leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, may be losing his luster to rival Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi. Recent BJP campaigning is telling, said Congress general secretary Mohan Prakash. 

In Gujarat, a state considered to be Modi's stronghold and from which his political career was launched, the star campaigner is not the prime minister but another younger leader Yogi Adityanath. Other BJP national heavyweights have also taken to the Gujarat campaign trail, such as the finance minister.

"Does it mean Modi is no longer the best vote catcher in Gujarat?" Prakash asked.
The December poll, although only a state election, is a litmus test for BJP who won the federal government in a national landslide in 2014.
A defeat, or even a poor performance, in Gujarat will be hard for BJP to swallow. The party has been in power in the state since 1995, winning three consecutive elections in 2002, 2007 and 2012. Ever since Modi took over the leadership in Gujarat in 2001, the party has never lost a state election.

In the 2012 election BJP won 116 of the 182 seats, limiting Gandhi's Congress to only 60. Three other parties and an independent candidate won the remaining six seats.

This time, one leading opinion poll predicts BJP will easily hold its advantage, winning 118-134 seats. Congress, which has been out of power in the state for 22 years, might secure 49-61 seats, according to The Times of India poll published Oct. 25. 

The Gujarat election will help indicate how popular Modi's two major policies — the withdrawal of high-value bank notes and a new taxation system — have proved with voters, said G. V. Anshuman Rao, a socio-political analyst based in the southern city of Hyderabad.

Several factors are in favor of Congress, analysts have said. A backlash against the incumbents, popular anger over Modi's inability to deliver on his promises and growing discontent of lower-caste people with the high-caste dominated BJP, are all said to be working in favor of Gandhi's party.

However, Congress in Gujarat lacks BJP's political machinery and networking at the grassroots level.

Irrespective of the December result, the Gujarat election appears to have revived the Congress party. It has brought out leadership qualities in Gandhi, and the party's vice president has shown a new willingness to take on Modi and his pro-Hindu party at the national level.

Since his introduction into politics in 2003, Gandhi's political star has dimmed. He delivered confused speeches, mumbled in media interviews, sat shyly at political meetings and took a long leave from parliament in 2015 "for personal reasons" without telling his party leaders.

Even his detractors agree that Gandhi is now displaying proper leadership qualities.
"Three to four years ago, Rahul Gandhi was a pushover. Everybody could ignore him in the political arena. But now Congress seems to have discovered a genuine leader in him," said Sanjay Raut, a leader of the hard-line Hindu Shiv Sena party.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

BJP struggles to win over Christians: Can Image Transformation come in?

The Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to go soft on the beef ban in the northeast where Christian votes are key to winning seats 

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is treading a fine line in promoting its pro-Hindu nationalist agenda while trying to court voters in Christian strongholds in the northeast and south.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several of his BJP leaders have been criticized for creating policies that push for a Hindu cultural and religious hegemony. Among those are national laws to ban beef and restrict conversions, moves that will inevitably drive religious minorities away from the party.

But ever mindful of placating religious minorities, the party has adopted different strategies tailored to different areas, and embraced Christian politicians in key states.For example, the BJP has decided to go soft on the beef ban in the northeast and the southern state of Kerala where Christian votes are key to winning seats and the policy was unpopular. The mollifying strategy of the BJP is also visible in the Christian-majority Meghalaya state, which is due to stage provincial elections next February. The BJP only holds two seats in the  60-seat state legislature and must tap into the voter base of Christians who account for 83 percent of the state’s 3.2 million people.
The Indian National Congress holds half the seats in house, but both the Congress and the BJP will be relying on support from regional groups trying to garner support for local issues and ethnic groups.

Horse-trading with smaller parties and splinter groups is an old political trick the BJP has employed in the past. Since 2014, the BJP has successfully formed a ruling alliance in the Christian stronghold of Goa on the western coast through such a strategy. At one point, it even had a Christian deputy chief minister in Goa. Recently, Modi unexpectedly named Alphons Kannanthanam, a Catholic from Kerala, in his cabinet. Christian leaders were quick to note it was a vote-seeking move ahead of the 2019 general elections, when the BJP will need Christian votes to win seats in the state.

A week after Kannanthanam was made a minister, the BJP president Amit Shah appointed him as the party’s election chief for Meghalaya. The message was clear: the BJP promotes Christians.

Meghalaya is one of only three Christian-majority states in India, the other two being Nagaland and Mizoram.  With the clear support of Christians, BJP leads ruling alliances in Nagaland and in Goa, where a third of the population is Christian. They are looking to form more ruling alliances in states with large Christian populations.
The BJP is faced with multiple challenges in Meghalya where the state’s three major ethnic groups – the Khasis, Jaintias and Garos – are mostly Christians who consume beef as a dietary staple. "The move for a beef ban has affected the BJP immensely," said a local Khasi Christian leader, K. Barnabas. "The BJP will fail to capture power in Meghalaya. Unlike other northeastern states, people have not accepted the saffron party," he said referring to the BJP's political colors.

The BJP will face strong competition from the Congress party, which has traditionally  been popular in the state.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"Without captors' goodness..............There is goodness in everybody," says Father Tom Uzhunnalil

There is goodness in everybody," says Father Tom Uzhunnalil
New Delhi, Sept 28  The Kerala-based Christian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was released from ISIS captivity earlier this month, on his return on Thursday said "there is goodness in everybody" and had they been "not good" his return would not have been possible."I pray for everybody....there is goodness in everybody and had they not been good, my return would not have been possible," Father Uzhunnalil told a crowded press conference here.To a question, the 59-year-old priest said, he was not aware whether his captors were ISIS or not -- but hastened to add in the same breadth: "I feel God wants me to pray for my captors, for their change of heart and for peace in the world".

"I was confined to a room that had ventilation. I had a small sponge like mattress on which I used to sit and sleep. I had fever twice, but it did not persist. On another occasion I had severe shoulder pain. But that too disappeared in two days," he said.
Father Uzhunnalil, who hails from Ramapuram in Kottayam district of Kerala, declined to comment on the alleged of 'Islamic fundamentalist' forces in coastal areas of Kerala -- adding he hardly knew anything on those matters.

The priest, abducted on March 4, 2016 reportedly in an incident of terrorist attack in Aden by ISIS,  
on his return home was earlier received by Minister of State  for Tourism K J Alphons. 
Father Uzhunnalil also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj earlier in the capital.
"Prime Minister said he was very happy.....and asked to care of my health and work," he said taking a volleys of questions.
Asked to share memories or any anecdotes of his 18-month long stay with the alleged Islamic terrorists and abductors, Father said, "I firmly believe that nothing will happen to any one of without God's wish".
Father said, certainly there was "loneliness" in his life during the 18 months stay of captivity. 
"I never lost faith in God...I never feared death or shivered," he said.

Answering another question on whether ever he felt, he would "not make it", the priest said, "Thank God, I never felt like that...I never cried...I did not think that I am going to be killed in the next moment...I thank God for that".
To another question, the priest said, he was not aware whether any ransom has been paid for his release. But he said, "Initially they used to ask me....who will save you, whether your government help? Whether Bishop will help or Will Holy Father will help".
He said, "my captors spoke only in Arabic which I could not understand....They did not seem to understand much English".
Asked out of his 18-month stay with his captors, what did he feel about the organsiation ISIS or the abductors as individuals, he said: "I do not know whether they were IS or not......".
Whether he was getting "sympathetic" to his captors due to prolonged stay with them, Father Uzhunnalil said, "there's goodness in everybody".

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Congress Revival: Where are 'Out of Box' ideas?

When Rahul Gandhi launched an overseas trip eyeing to re-launch himself - just on the eve of his possible coronation as Congress president, some skeptics were surprised - where are the 'out of box' ideas to revive India's grand old party. 

In terms of perspective, the Congress party has turned too much predictable and this has weakened its fight for electoral revival. Incidentally, the tale is same both in BJP-ruled Gujarat or a regional party-ruled Andhra Pradesh. 

United Andhra Pradesh was the chief architect of Congress victory in 2004 and 2009 and look at the sad tale today. Hence, there are needs for trying some innovative steps. An attempt should be made to sound ‘more reasonable’ than mere loyalists to the leadership. Sam Pitroda and so on are only old faces and even the style of Rahul Gandhi's attack on the Narendra Modi government is on predictable lines. The main issues remain unaddressed. This suits the coterie but not the party or even Rahul Gandhi himself. To start with, if there is any disconnect between the party and the people, this ought to be discussed and should be addressed. It’s true, Rahul Gandhi is “already a leader and face” for the party. Hence, there need not any beat about the bush. The hereditary factor ought to be understood, accepted and appreciated. 

In terms of political emphasis, and something lacking in Congress thought process - the 2003-04 electoral victory showed that the socialist agenda or pro-people welfarism continue to dominate voters’ mind in India. Ten years later, nothing seemed to change as Narendra Modi also promised moon – including five crore jobs, Rs 15 lakh in each bank account and so son in 2014. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Congress MPs fight over Bofors, wants PAC to take up 'coffin scam' of NDA regime

The Bofors gun kickback controversy almost sparked off a major row - albeit politically- in the Congress party when senior Members of Parliament clashed among themselves on the powers vis-a-vis Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
To take the battle to the BJP-led NDA camp, the Congress is now planning to rake up the alleged 'coffin purchase' scam during Kargil conflict of 1999 when George Fernandes was at the helm of affairs in the Defence ministry.  "The CAG report in 2004-05 found fault with the NDA government on purchase of funeral caskets. Around 500 caskets worth $2500 each were purchased and each cost was thirteen times the original amount," a senior Congress leader said. 

The source maintained that the Public Accounts Committee and the sub-committee headed by Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab should also examine the purchase made during 'Operation Vijay' in 1999. Meanwhile, BJP sources said, with regard the coffin purchase scam - a special CBI court found no evidence and discharged the accused.According to sources, deputy Leader of the Opposition (Rajya Sabha) Anand Sharma took exceptions on why PAC headed by a Congress MP could rake up the high-voltage Bofors gun deal controversy "from the dustbin of history".

"It was a closed chapter. The High Court had ruled its closure in 2005, how PAC can raise Bofors again giving it a fresh life," Mr Sharma told some party leaders.
The incumbent PAC chairman Mallikarjun Kharge too was "definitely" not happy and tried to suggest that he could not be blamed for the flip-flop if any, "as I (Kharge) took over the charge of PAC as chairman only recently in the new financial year 2017-18".
The Rajya Sabha members also maintained that even summoning the CBI chief Alok Verma was "erroneous". "Only a panel like the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice can summon the CBI chief," another member said.
A few Lok Sabha Members in Congress apparently did not agree to the argument from their party colleagues in the Upper House.
The former PAC Chairman KV Thomas maintained that he could not be "blamed" as the decision to examine the non-compliance of the CAG reports including the Ministry of Defence was taken long back. 
In fact, the decision was taken by the PAC in the last Lok Sabha....the PAC under me only carried it forward. Moreover, in 2015 a conference of PAC chairpersons in Delhi attended by many PAC chairpersons belonging to Congress had insisted that this non-compliance was a serious lapse, Mr Thomas reportedly said.

In October 2015, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice TS Thakur had absolved the NDA regime led by Atal Biehari Vajpayee after the CBI informed that it could not establish the guilt of the accused persons in the Rs 24,000-crore coffin purchase scam. 
A six-member sub-committee headed by Biju Janata Dal member Bhartruhari Mahtab and comprising among others Gajanan Chandrakant Kirtikar (Shiv Sena), Nishikant Dubey (BJP), P Venugopal (AIZADMK), Ajay Sancheti (BJP) and Shivkumar Chanabasappa Udasi (BJP) felt that there was non-compliance of the CAG report on Defence Ministry and also that probe on Bofors scam of 1980s was not satisfactory.

Even CBI Director Alok Verma was summoned by the sub-committee and Mr verma told the panel that in 2005, the probe agency wanted to challenge the High Court order but was disallowed by the Law ministry under the then Manmohan Singh government to go to the Supreme Court.
The sub-committee has reportedly noticed "systemic failures" in the contract signed with Bofors and said the panel wants to pursue its work of looking into non-compliance of certain aspects of the Comptroller and Auditor General or the CAG report of 1986 on the Bofors howitzer gun deal.
"The PAC sub-panel is meeting in Delhi on August 16 and is likely to examine the letter from the CBI director....It will unravel some secrets," a BJP source claimed.
Last month, the Congress President Sonia Gandhi has expressed her unhappiness on how the high-voltage controversial Bofors gun deal scandal was allowed to return to the political discourse yet again. 

Number of Congress leaders have only blamed the BJP lawmaker Nishikant Dubey for blowing it up.
By convention the 22-member PAC is headed by an opposition leader as Chairman and in the present Lok Sabha, K V Thomas, Congress MP from Kerala, has been the chairman for three years while for 2017-18, party has nominated Mallikarjun Kharge for the post.

Monday, August 7, 2017

A king maker Ahmed Patel faces career's much talked about Rajya Sabha polls on Aug 8

In the history of corridors of power play in Delhi, Congress leader Ahmed Patel's name will be certainly in the pages of mortals anointed with some kind of immortality. The politicial secretary to AICC president - over the years - has emerged a key king maker and a master strategist in the art of backroom operation.

Master strategist Ahmed Patel now faces his moment of truth in RS elections

It is said during crictial parliamentary voting during UPA regime, the BSP leaders Mayawati or Satish Chandra Mishra or Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav actually used to wait for Ahmed Patel's phone. On one occasion - the high voltage late night debate
on Lokpal Bill --- one senior Samajwadi Party was frank to admit to newspersons "Ahmed Patel ka phone aa gaya, now you all can go" -- perhaps meaning the decision has been made.

In 2002 when Sonia Gandhi named Ahmed Patel as political secretary --- in effect he shared the responsibility with Ambika Soni. Many Congress leaders thought Congress chief had kept Ahmed Patel only for an interim period as she wanted to give subtle message to the minorities in Gujarat and in time to come Ambika Soni would survive of the two.

But just the opposite happened. Though Ambika interpreted Congress President's mind in off-record debriefing and also became Information and Broadcasting Minister in UPA-II -- slowly she faded away while a man who shunned media Ahmed Patel survived.

"He became virtual number three after Rahul Gandhi....This was more than a gatekeeper," says a former Minister in Manmohan Singh government. But over the years Ahmed Patel's rise also led to speculation that perhaps he also had nexus with a powerful section in the BJP as -- never in between 2002 and 2014 -- in as many as three assembly elections - Congress could actually give electoral contest to Narendra Modi.

The former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela often complained that many a times his recommendations were overruled and candidates perceived "weak" were fielded. "None bothered Vaghela more than Ahmed Patel," used to be often a refrain in 2007 and 2012 assembly polls
in the state.

After Vaghela quit Congress last month, former cop Sanjiv Bhatt also flayed the Congress party for pushing his ouster.  Ahmedabad-based lawyer Yatin Oza in fact told a TV channel during last week's 'Gujarat MLAs' controversy that: "Ahmed Patel was the official liquidator of Congress party in Gujarat". 

"Vaghela's crime was that he wanted to fight the BJP in Gujarat against the designs of the coterie that has hamstrung Mrs Gandhi and Rahul," Mr Bhatt wrote in a series of tweets.

Mr Bhatt had often taken on Narendra Modi over 2002 mayhem and his wife Shweta Bhatt was fielded as Congress candidate in Maninagar Assembly seat in 2012 Assembly polls against Mr Modi. "Congress continues to be metastasized from within by the same coterie that brokered the bail of Amit Shah in Sohrabuddin Case during UPA-2," Mr Bhatt had written

The Congress strength in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly has slashed to 51 from 57 as six legislators have quit the party. The Congress claims to have the support of the requisite 45 MLAs required to ensure Ahmed Patel's victory, but the BJP camp has said that such attempts would fail.
“The BJP will win three seats and Ahmed Patel will definitely lose,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said in Ahmedabad.
BJP national president Amit Shah is more than keen to humble Sonia Gandhi's trusted aide in his home turf tomorrow.

Mr Ahmed Patel is seeking re-election to the Upper House for the fifth term.
A section of Gujarat BJP leaders are working overtime to ensure the defeat of Ahmed Patel, whose ascendancy as Sonia Gandhi's 'eyes and ears' coincided with the mayhem of 2002.

All said and done -- tomorrow's voting in Gujarat for Rajya Sabha would be able to settle at least a minor dispute -- in the power game between Amit Shah and Ahmed Patel - who among them is winner for the time being.  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

BJP completes dream run ...Prez, VP, PM and Lok Ppr Lok Sabha Speaker -- all from Hindutva school !!

The huge victory margin of BJP nominee M Venkaiah Naidu in the Vice President elections is the highest in last three decades. Mr Naidu polled 516 votes as against 244 by his rival Gopalkrishna Gandhi making it a convincing margin of 272.
While Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma in 1987 and K R Narayanan in 1992 were virtually elected unopposed, in 1997, the Late Krishna Kant got a majority of 168 only. Krishna Kant had defeated Akali Dal leader Surjeet Singh Barnala in the vice-presidential election.

In 2002, another BJP leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat won with a majority of 149 votes while Mr Naidu's predecessor Hamid Ansari in 2007 had humbled Najma Heptullah when he had secured 455 votes, and won the election by a margin of 233 votes. 
Mr Ansari was re-elected for the second term on 7 August 2012, defeating the NDA's nominee Jaswant Singh by a margin of 252 votes.

The BJP completed its dream run, that began in 2014, for having all the three top posts of the country, with NDA candidate M Venkaiah Naidu  defeating  joint Opposition candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi to become 15th Vice President of India.
       After Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Ram Nath Kovind became the first BJP-RSS figure to become President last month, and with today’s victory of Mr Naidu, the second highest Constitutional post of the country too will be occupied by a BJP-Sangh leader for the first time.

         During Atal Behari Vajpayee's tenure, another BJP leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat was elected Vice President in 2002. Shekhawat had defeated the opposition candidate, Sushil Kumar Shinde by a margin of 149 votes out of the 750 votes polled.

Huge cross-voting today marked the election of BJP-led NDA nominee
M Venkaiah Naidu as the 15th Vice President of India. 
"Out of 771 votes polled, Mr Naidu got 516 votes as against 244 polled by opposition candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi," Returning Officer for Vice President polls Shumsher K Sheriff, who is the Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha, told reporters.
As per their numbers in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the NDA nominee was expected to secure about 480 votes but the ultimately figures suggest there was cross-voting by as many as 36 MPs from the 18-party opposition camp.
Former West Bengal Governor Mr Gandhi, who gave a spirited fight, was present at the counting centre till the last moment and walked away from the venue minutes before the announcement of the results. His downcast look said it all as he smiled and folded hands skirting direct replies to media queries.
Mr Gandhi, however, said he was more than satisfied with the number of votes he garnered. 

In contrast, BJP leader and NDA representative at the counting centre Bhupender Yadav was in an upbeat mood.

In contrast, BJP leader and NDA representative at the counting centre Bhupender Yadav was in an upbeat mood.
The major highlight of the voting today was the absent of 12 MPs from the opposition camp. 
These included four from Mamata Benerjee-led Trinamool Congress.
Others included: Anbumani Ramadoss of the PMK, Tapas Pal, Pratima Mondal and Kunal Ghosh (all AITC), Ranee Narah and Mausam Noor (both Congress), UdayanRaje Bhosale (NCP), P K Kunhalakutty and  Abdul Wahab (both IUML), Anu Aga and Naba Kumar Sarania (Independent) and Sanwar lal Jat (BJP).

Significantly enough, Ms Banerjee's nephew and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee also skipped the voting process. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Lawmakers bid adieu to Prez Mukherjee, Govt cautioned against Ordinance route

Lesson learnt from Indira - Admitting mistakes better than justifying the acts: Pranab

New Delhi, Jul 23  If there is a single big thing that a serving politician or even an individual could learn from Indira Gandhi -- according to President Pranab Mukhejee - is "acknowledging" of own mistakes.  
"Self correction always a better option than self-justification," Mr Mukherjee said speaking at a function in the Central Hall of Parliament where members of both Houses bid him farewell here today.
Lauding among other things, the Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's "steely determination, clarity of thought and decisive actions", Mr Mukherjee said his career as a Parliamentarian was mentored by Indira Gandhi only.

Mr Mukherjee recalled that during her London visit after election defeat in 1978, when she was grilled by the journalists at Heathrow Airport - on what she "gained" from the Emergency, Indira Gandhi had replied: "In those 21 months, we comprehensively managed to alienate all sections of Indian people".
Mr Mukherjee said her reply was admission of the 'mistakes' and her response was received by "a big silence followed by loud laughter".
President said after that no question was asked to her.
In the process, Mr Mukherjee said, "I also learnt an early lesson of acknowledging my mistakes and rectifying them".
In Parliament premises: July 23, 2017
"Self-correction in such situations is always a better option than self-justification," he said.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Will I&B ministry make Smriti get back her aggressive launchpad? Plus, Parliament Highlights

A Trinamool Congress leader when asked to comment on Smriti Irani being given the I&B portfolio, rather mockingly said, "Team Modi will be back in aggressive mood and the charge of the sound brigade is with Television's best known daughter-in-law".

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Close on the heels Smriti Irani was given the additional portfolio of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting - one vital question that is being asked in the political circle and in the corridors of Parliament has been whether the television actress-tuned-neta has found back her launchpad for a big political career.
In the years to come, Ms Irani, who was shunted out from the Ministry of Human Resource Development in July 2016, would be effortlessly remembered for her stunning rise in politics in 2014 - when she was fielded to take on Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi from the prestigious parliamentary constituency Amethi and later made the country's Human Resource Development ministry. 
There was a mild fall last year - and now probably - there is yet another rise as the Information Minister also becomes the automatic choice as the chief spokesman of the Union government.

Others dismiss these hyperbole queries - and say the additional charge of Information and Broadcasting Ministry assigned to the Textiles Minister today after M Venkaiah Naidu had to quit following his selection as BJP's pick for Vice President's post - would be only a temporary phenomenon. 
Known for having good working relation with Prime Minister Modi, Ms Irani made news as HRD Minister in her two-year stint chiefly for her rhetoric against the student unions and political detractors whom she more often called "secular commentariat".

Slammed and mocked for her educational qualification, she has been often accused by the Left, Trinamool Congress and others for alleged 'radicalisation' of ‘Hinduizing’ of India’s school and college curricula.
Sporting an impression of an extra-ordinary middle class woman - a 'bahu (role of a daughter-in-law she played in a soap opera), Ms Irani ensured that her "rightist" kind of remarks could make her crusade look anti-Left liberals. 
Her speech in Lok Sabha on February 24, 2016 on the controversies in JNU and on alleged suicide by a student in Hyderabad University was even lauded by Prime Minister Modi. 

The big tribute to her speech came from Mr Modi when he had tweeted ‘Satyemeva Jayete’ along with the video of Smriti’s speech. Prior to that, Mr Modi had tweeted ‘Satyemeva Jayete’ was on December 26, 2013 when a Ahmedabad court gave him a clean chit in Gulbarg Society case of 2002 mayhem.
However, when he undertook the reshuffle of the ministry in July 2016, Ms Irani was shifted to a low-profile portfolio of Textiles and she was replaced by a more amiable Prakash Javadekar. 

PM Modi and Rahul -- both -- working to bring an end to Congress: BJP lawmaker

July 19 : The BJP member Virendra Singh sparked off a major row in the Lok Sabha when he said both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi were dutifully fulfilling the "wishes" of Mahatma Gandhi as both were working to bury the Congress party into the pages of history.

"Yeh dono Congress ke visarjan ke liye kaam kar rahen haen (Both these leaders are working to finish Congress)," said Mr Singh, the lawmaker from Bhadoi in eastern UP.
The senior BJP MP made the remarks while participating in the debate on agrarian situation in the country. He said soon after country's Independence, Mahatma Gandhi had recommended that the Congress party should be discontinued.
As expected, his remarks were strongly countered by the Congress members like Jyotiraditya Scindia and KC Venugopal with both requesting the Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to expunge the BJP member's controversial comments. Ms Mahajan, however, said, "I will look into the text of the debate".
Mr Scindia said some remarks from Virendra Singh were "personal" in nature and thus should be expunged. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Modi set for last laugh in Prez polls: Indian masses have typically voted for candidates of own caste


 In more ways than one, the Indian electorate is responsible for the caste issues that dominate their politics. Despite the talks about electing meritorious candidates, the masses have always typically voted for a candidate of their own caste. The political classes have danced to this tune and been careful not to disturb the caste-obsessed Indian psyche.

The July 17 presidential election in the world's largest democracy is widely acknowledged to be an issue of caste. Both the government and opposition's nominations pitch a Dalit against a Dalit. It is a move that many have interpreted as political, and lacking altruistic motives to support India's socially oppressed classes. The caste system is referenced as far back as the ancient scripts, which identify the Brahmins — priestly people, the Kshatriyas — rulers, administrators and warriors, the Vaishyas — artisans, merchants, tradesmen and farmers, and Shudras — the laboring classes. Those not within this caste system are known as Dalit, the Sanskrit term that means trampled upon to denote the former untouchable castes within Hindu society.Several laws and social initiatives to protect and improve the socioeconomic conditions of the lower-caste populations have been implemented since India gained independence in 1947. Despite this, caste politicking has more than simply survived; it has strengthened. Caste management has become a fundamental and fascinating aspect of political governance in the country: "votebank politics" as they put it. In the initial decades after independence, upper-caste Brahmin Hindus and business communities dominated the political decisions irrespective of party affiliations. Even in the communist parties, upper-caste leaders had their say. But the last few decades saw lower castes and tribal people, who form some 25 percent of the population, emerging as politically decisive power brokers with their leaders making assertions and defying upper-caste diktats.

This has culminated in a recent surge for political parties, vying against one another, to present themselves as pro-Dalit and support the rights and privileges of the most oppressed class whose grandparents were once considered untouchable.

The "Dalit verses Dalit" contest in the presidential election could easily be interpreted as part and parcel of this political game. But rather, this is something that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imposed upon Indians. It started with the BJP's decision to field Ram Nath Kovind, a former low-profile Dalit parliamentarian and serving governor of Bihar state in eastern India, as its presidential candidate. 

Days after Kovind's candidature was announced, the opposition coalition of Congress and other parties that include the Communists, named their candidate Meira Kumar, a 72-year-old Dalit. She is a former diplomat and a former speaker of the lower house of parliament.
Meira Kumar's "caste identity" as a Dalit is more explicit because her father, the Late Jagjivan Ram, was the former defense minister of India in the 1970s and known for his humble social background.

In fact, that has reduced the political scrap of the 2017 presidential elections down to a "Dalit brother" against a "Dalit sister". Ironically, this pitching is neither about helping socially poor castes nor about fighting a political opposition. It is part of a "new generation politics" in India that Modi leads where the parliament lacks any serious opposition.

At the moment, Indian politics revolves around Modi with two streams of political thought — the pro-Modi and anti-Modi schools of politics. Modi knows he is the games master of Indian politics, the face of the BJP and enjoys asserting himself in that position. In practical terms, that means the BJP is Modi, and vice versa.
He could have negotiated with opposition parties to elect a consensus candidate for this mostly ceremonial role of president. Although party officials hinted at such a move early on, the BJP suddenly, and surprisingly, announced Kovind's name. It demonstrated the BJP's confidence in its supremacy, but it also projected the BJP as a party that is now more considerate of the Dalit cause. But more than anything else, it challenged opposition parties either to oppose Modi or meekly support him in his game. Treated with such disdain, they could hardly support him, and they jointly nominated a Dalit woman, one of the best they could find.

The political message from the opposition camp, which includes the parties on the Left, is: "we oppose Kovind because we fight Modi"...The refrain is: "the opposition is against Modi and not against Kovind nor the Dalit people". Their leaders continue to make that clear at every opportunity.

Numbers wise, the BJP nominee is far ahead with around 63 percent of the vote share from the electoral college. The electoral college comprises all members of both the houses of parliament and the elected legislators from the 29 state assemblies. With support from several regional parties, Kovind is set to win. The opposition, although certain to fail, nominated a candidate just to wriggle out of the ignominy Modi had thrust upon them. As prime minister, Modi "could have played a statesman-like game" to have a president selected by consensus. "But he is not quite a political reformist," the Communist Party of India leader, D. Raja, told me. But Modi, as opposition leaders say, had his own political compulsions to present the BJP as a pro-Dalit party. Dalits have in the past given their support to smaller and regional parties and leaders. Until recently, the BJP was always seen as the party of upper-caste Hindus, an image Modi wanted to change.

The recurring attacks on Dalit people in the name of "cow protectionism" by certain Hindu groups in recent months have also negatively impacted the party. Such incidents have increased since extremist Hindu groups, who wanted to assert their upper-caste Hindu hegemony, advanced their cause in the wake of the BJP's 2014 national election victory. This further damaged the party's image among Dalit people.
Modi himself belongs to a lower caste, though not a Dalit. In the complicated caste hierarchy, his caste comes a step or two above Dalit groups. However, whenever the opportunity arises to appease Dalit groups, he parades his humble lineages to attract Dalit sympathy.

On the contrary, although Congress had several Dalit people in its ranks, no one came to the leadership position that Modi enjoys now. Political history will prove that Meira's father, a Congress man, could not become prime minister because of his caste background. 

Although Dalit groups supported Congress up to three decades ago, no Dalit leader could climb the political ladder above a certain rung. They have abandoned Congress in recent years to join regional parties. Hence, it is essential for Congress to win back the Dalit groups and, at the same time, to oppose Modi.
Neither do the Communists want to be seen opposing Dalits. Their rank and file is the working class, mostly Dalits. 

It has become convenient for them to join the Congress to support the candidature of Meira for political considerations.

However, the opposition is fractured and sadly lags behind the BJP. They named Meira "as a reaction" to the BJP's Dalit nominee, said Saud K. Kavitha, a parliamentarian from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi party in the southern state of Telangana. Having already decided to back Kovind, she added, "We do not approve of this. They could have discussed it earlier."

For his part, Modi plays the game exuding confidence and with a proper plan at hand. He aims to use the presidential polls to achieve yet another political milestone. If, and when he achieves it, he will be able to denounce his political detractors who have attacked him for being pro-Hindu and the party of the upper castes.

He will have delivered the country's second Dalit president after Kocheril Raman Narayanan who was the tenth President of India from 1997 to 2002.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Blindness has caught up with Congress, Sickular gang: Key to Future lies in the Womb of Time

Fasting is not about diet or burning calories; but burning pride and false ego and complete surrender to Madhava, The Almighty

Bhagavad Geeta 

I often hate the inertia amongst the Indian public. Worse part is the intellectual inertia – the stagnancy - of the intellectuals. This can be also called a status-quoist syndrome. Sab chalta hae......”Na janne ho...” in Nagamese.....In recent past the compartmentalised politics has led us to two clubs – anti-Modi and the Narendra Modi bhakts. The prisms have brought in glaucoma -- a condition of increased pressure within the eyeball, causing gradual loss of sight.

In the process we are unable to see what we ought to see. Worse, the blindness has caught up with the Congress party !! The ‘genius’ Vice President met Chinese envoy, - first denied and then confirmed – and in jocularly stance flayed Modi regime for sending three ministers to China. And even showed classical intellectualism  and questioned the rationale behind Modi’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

And hence some mistakes could occur in the strategic and our national security system. Having said so – we must closely examine the gap today ‘India’s interest’ – that exists between the incumbent Government of India and Indian liberals – the aristocracy of a mixed cocktail of communists, socialists and dynasts. One may add the Lutyen’s ‘liberal’ or self-seeking journos also. 

India’s China policy is under closer scrutiny of the left-liberals with the inclination to believe that Narendra Modi is messing up things. But on global context – much better analyses would suggest there is need to examine the recent political and diplomatic games of Beijing as well as Islamabad. China needs a strong and firm cheque move and here comes the significance of tri-lateral ties between India, Japan and the United States. Apparently Israel is keen to join the bandwagon. So more the merrier!

But before endorsing Modi’s a few diplomatic triumphs – there is need to understand the deeper goals of China vis-a-vis its tie up with Islamabad and its push for CPEC or OBOR.

Rather it is imperative to focus on what are the implications for Pakistan and its geo-strategy once these projects fructify. 

"CPEC is a part of China's OBOR initiative to expand its influence in the world and Pakistan is just the geographical space used by Beijing to reach the warm waters of the Persian Gulf. But in the process, Beijing blueprint will ensure complete control over Pakistan,” says Columbia and Karachi university political economist S Akbar Zaidi.

Skeptics may dismiss these contentions with the refrain being - This is 21st century and political economy has seen a paradigm shift. Pakistan's identity has been established and yes, like America, China can have more influence on Pakistan! So be it. If America could be maneuvered by Pakistani politicians and army – the same yardstick would apply to China also.

But From Indian point of view -- what is essential to appreciate is that all strategies and international cooperation should be well framed in order to deal with China. I have said this earlier quoting a former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh that China respects the position of ‘strength’. Hence Modi’s muscle-flexing and firmer grip in handshakes do give some message.

Ever since 2014 - with China,  Modi did not seem to be bogged down by any bitterness of the past. However, during his Japan visit, Modi walked an extra mile when without naming Beijing he made a veiled attack on ‘expansionist” designs of the 18th century. The reference to “encroachment” and “entry into the seas” were largely interpreted as an reference to spat with China – Japan is involved in the SenkakuIslands.

 Modi maintained that spirit when in early 2017 – the government gave enough indication to China vis-a-vis the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh.  The assertiveness had its purpose. The Modi government was not apologetic about India’s decades old relation with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dali Lama.
But India’s liberals are not comfortable about the happenings. 
Anything good about Modi – even if it is crucially important and in national interest make them furious. 

While there are international media cherishing about Modi-Netanyahu new axis --- liberals were busy with lynching incidents!

For them – entire India seems to be turning into a big Gujarat. The 2002 dichotomy is not yet over.


Sadly again for them, in 2015 – February (in Delhi) and later in October in Bihar, as Modi-Shah duo was electorally humbled, it was dreamily possible to imagine that Modi might find things turn from bad to worse. UP elections changed the game. These days, few think Modi is ‘weak’ politically and also in overseas – this realisation now make Rahul commit a few mistakes here and there. He called Modi a ‘weak’ PM !! – He rushed to Chinese envoy and then crafted a flip-flop. 

Indian opposition is demoralised. Talented are looking here and there! They discuss – why the ‘sickular’ revolution fail? West Bengal is burning.
The best of journos - TV anchors and NRIs may soon turn jobless. Honest guys are being raided. 
Sickular’s darling – 'post-2013 Nitish Kumar' – may now turn a ‘communal’ agent any day! Future roadmap? The answer lies in the womb of time.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Gopalkrishna Gandhi – A former ‘Textbook’ Guv: Also a Candid orator

If family legacy is anything to cheer about, Gopalkrishna Gandhi has the best. His paternal grandfather was Mahatma Gandhi and maternal grandfather was C. Rajagopalachari. 

Yet this suave and a former IAS officer and ex-diplomat is probably known best for his own distinct abilities and statesman like approach. Born on April 22, 1946, he joined IAS in 1968 and served in Tamil Nadu state till 1985. Thereafter, he remained Secretary to Vice-President of India (1985 - 1987) and Joint Secretary to President of India (1987 - 1992) under R Venkataraman -- who incidentally was also among the respected few to be easily called 'a text book President.

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His tenure as the 22nd Governor of West Bengal was one of the much talked about time vis-a-vis the gubernatorial positions in the last decade.
But the usual charge of being partisan did not struck him. Gopal Gandhi remained above board.
Even his critics would not hesitate to call him a ‘text book Governor’. It is tribute to his acceptability in the non-BJP camp that despite certain differences between him and the then Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya -led Left regime in West Bengal, the communists today unhesitatingly backed the united opposition move to make him the candidate for Vice President’s post. “We want someone as a candidate who can run the Rajya Sabha with dignity as well as protect constitutional norms,” said Marxit leader Sitaram Yechury.

Appointed as Governor in December 2004 by the UPA dispensation – which was banking on the Left support – Gandhi allegedly soon became a “preferred man” in the Raj Bhavan for Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress. Often small differences between him and then Chief Minister Bhattarcharya made headlines – and also gave much needed political fodder to Mamata’s arsenal. Actually, Gandhi’s stint as the first citizen of West Bengal coincided with the gradual decline of the Left hold in the state polity. 

Later in a book ‘Phire Dekha (The Bygone years)’ Bhattacharya made veiled attack on Gandhi for opposing the then Left regime’s industrialisation programme. 
"Who did he (Gopalkrishna Gandhi) want to satisfy?" Bhattacharjee asked. 
"People in this state will remember Gopalkrishna Gandhi as long as the state bleeds for want of industry," wrote Bhattacharjee pouring out his feeling on Gandhi’s role during height of Singur and Nandigram controversies.
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"I was astonished with the Governor's public statement. He was aware of the fact that people and policemen were being killed there. The government sent police to restore law and order. Who did he want to satisfy?" the former Chief Minister wrote.

However, on a different plane, it ought to be said that Gopalkrishna Gandhi not only enjoyed good rapport with the fellow comrades of former Chief Minister Buddhadeb - Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury. He had also ventilated his admiration - for instance for Pakash Karat. 
"Listening to Prakash giving me a succinct account of the Marxist movements in Kerala for the re-distribution of land to help the landless and agricultural labour was more than an education; it was a revelation...,” – he had written in 2015.

Even the Left leaders have always maintained a tone of appreciation for Gandhi. Notwithstanding some functional differences for Buddhadeb, the communists knew that in effect Gandhi’s stint as the Governor in West Bengal - a known Left citadel for three decades - coincided with the period when the Indian electorate threw up a fractured mandate – a Congress-led UPA supported by the Left and at the same time in reference to Singur and Nandigram – Bengal politics was undergoing through turbulent days.
People in the fields were turning against long time benefactors the Left and CPI-M and a gradual shift was taking place towards Mamata Banerjee.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Challenging the leftist power base in India: The saffron surge

The BJP, with its hardcore pro-Hindu philosophy, is in a perpetual state of conflict with the Communist Party of India (Marxists) and Christian groups in Tripura. How the BJP performs in Tripura is a litmus test of how it can perform in other Indian states where it is not in power. Tripura has been ruled by a communist government since 199Os. The BJP party strategists know this well. Tripura is not like the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where pro-Hindu issues such as the banning of beef, cow vigilantism, were under the political spotlight. 

In Tripura, they need to tackle more pressing issues like unemployment, women empowerment, and industrialization.Voters in Tripura are essentially pro-left. Many possess an intellectual affinity to Marxism and the communists have wielded power long and often in the state.

"The BJP leaders need to break the umbilical cord between the voters and pro-Marxist intellectualism," a BJP official told me. 

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is clearly pursuing an ambitious and aggressive quest for power in the hilly, northeastern Indian state of Tripura that is bordered on three sides by Bangladesh. Despite growing acceptability for the pro-Hindu outfit in the state, which is home to substantial Christian and tribal populations, the party's expansion plans face multiple challenges ahead of the legislative assembly elections in 2018. Nearly 80 percent of the state's 3.7 million people are Bengali-speaking Hindus, mostly migrated from Bangladesh. Tribals, once a majority in what is Tripura, now comprise less than a third of the state's population. Most Christians are tribals.

In Tripura, where Marxist leader Manik Sarkar has held onto power for the last two decades, the BJP strategists understand that even upper-caste Hindus do not necessarily relate to the "Brahminical appeal" put forward by their party. More than 60 percent of the country's population now lives in states either ruled directly by the BJP or in an alliance with regional parties.Hence there has to be a change of strategy.

Bengali voters in Tripura will never entirely reject the "power of Marxism" as intellectual food for thought or as the foundations of their political reasoning. In the past, it would have been unthinkable for an opposition challenger to the incumbent Marxists or leftists to gain sufficient support in the region.

However, rural workers, such as Sapna Das, the BJP women leader in Tripura, said: "There is a gradual change and many young voters are readily rejecting the left's ideology."

Drawing confidence from this, BJP leaders have designed a few electoral strategies that aim to capture the minds of voters in areas heavily populated with Bengalis, particularly in areas where the pro-Hindu slant would find easier acceptance.Ashirwad Dey, an educationist in Tripura said: "The idea is to capture the Bengali mindset, especially among those whose forefathers had to leave Bangladesh during partition in 1947 and later in 1971 [during the Bangladesh war of liberation]."

Due to the extensive numbers that fled Bangladesh (formerly Eastern Pakistan), today's population of the Bengali Hindu community in Tripura is significant.The BJP is aware of its challenges and inherent weaknesses. 

BJP leaders claim the party is trying to sell Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "developmental card", even among tribal and Christian sections."The overdose of the Marxist regime in Tripura has weakened religious affinities. This applies to both Hindus and Christians. Today, this is, ironically, helping the BJP's cause," one BJP leader said. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Jingoism has no place in today's world: Modi's Diplomatic Triumph talks of New Reality

The photograph of both the Prime Ministers -- Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu -- with folded trousers and chit-chat in ankle deep Mediterranean Sea water and a toast to life with desalinated water made waves in the social networking sites and mainstream media. "Netanyahu and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi brought a whole new definition to "chilling out" after wading in the Mediterranean Sea," reported CNN. 

One such snap was also autographed by Benjamin Netanyahu, who wrote: "To Prime Minister Narendra Modi with deepest friendship on your historic visit". 

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Does this reflect change in Indian foreign policy? Certainly, opinions can be divided. But most striking aspect of this 'let us agree to disagree' came from Rahul Gandhi -- when he rather hurriedly tweeted that his political bete noire Modi was being a "weak Prime Minister" because he did not raise the visa row issue with the American President Donald Trump. Well, it was expected visa row would be raised. Similarly, on the other side -- many expected Trump will raise the issue of supposed violent atmosphere against minorities - including Christians - in India. So going by the 'intelligent theory' of an "inborn PM-material" even Trump could be weak!

One need not emphasise that diplomacy may not be the way - the Congress party or Rahul Gandhi's full-timer advisers look at. Both sides may handle uncomfortable issues though back channels.
The desperation is palpable. The Congress party, India's sickular gang and politically correct liberals as also the part-time politcian Rahul Gandhi may be huffing and puffing but these practitioners of holier than though theories desperate to make a mark is only realising that Namo remains invincible as now as the average Indian voters may be still pro-Namo and his way of politics.

The Congress party has been making noise about China angle too -- as the border tension could embarrass the Modi-led dispensation. 1962 harakiri is a thing of past because all that happened under the virtuous Pt Nehru -- who legitimised a variety of politics -- that says "family loyalists" need not be wrong at all.

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Over the last three years Narendra Modi has pursued different brand of politics and that different yardstick has been extended to foreign policy paradigm also. The status-quoists may be upset while likes of Rahul Gandhi and 'uncles' like Manishankar Aiyar may find it difficult to stomach that an 'under estimated' has able to struck such good rapport with world leaders.

Firstly, in terms of India's relations with China -- the misplacement in the trust and well established norms of international diplomacy is actually only a Pt Nehru-era legacy. It would certainly require some time and extra sagacity to find a resolution. Moreover, China remains a globally-known difficult customer to deal with. The Modi-regime is trying different games to deal with different challenges. Whether these would give results or not - the answer lies in the womb of time. But Modi bashing class is getting desperate by the day.

But to trust players like former diplomats Lalit Mansingh and a few others -- so far Modi's message to China has been mixed. And rightly so ! With all efforts for friendship -- the 'jhoola' as analysed by Kapil Sibal -- Modi regime has also tried to keep Beijing guessing as time and again it has given renewed and added emphasis to the Tibetan Spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

"China respects strength. It does not worry much about good mannerism and humility,"

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Blogger with Lalit Mansingh
Stating that India has stoutly and rightly defended its stand during the visit of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, former Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh has said that "China respects strength".
Interacting with me on the sidelines of a function wherein the Dalai Lama received the prestigious M L Sondhi Prize for International Politics for the year 2016, he has said: "Such gestures of assertiveness (on Dalai Lama's Arunachal visit) is a rare display of firmness and sovereign rights by the Indian government with regards to China. Otherwise, we are used to timidity and playing things safe".
The word 'timidity' actually represents the politics of the leftists -- whose patriotism reached a new set of norms in 1962. Is Rahul Gandhi listening?

Now, the Hamburg indications - from the sidelines of G20 Summit was that - Chinese president Xi Jinping also realises it well that 2017 is different from 1962. Perhaps more correct statement would be Pt Nehru and Narendra Modi are of different stocks. Image does not matter to Narendra Modi as much it bothered India's first Prime Minister. Hence, Modi's firmness seems to be working up to a satisfactory level. 

Moreover, China knows it well that Xinjiang is in the throes of a 'slow-burning insurgency' by the Muslim Uighur minority against the Communist state. China's internal problems are of deep concern, many many not realise. 

In the recent weeks -- starting from the US visit and then Israel sojourn and also the G20 Summit - Prime Minister's diplomatic adventurism has fetched some dividends. But these are still only early indications and still -- too less. But a sound foundation is being laid.
Israelis name a flower after 'Modi'
Even from unusual corner -- appreciation to Modi's Israel trip has come. A Naga politician - Thomas Ngullie has said that -- very few world leaders get the treatment outside his country as Modi was shown the respect in Israel. Does it imply that some Christian sections were also impressed with the kind of bonhomie Modi has able to establish with a Jewish nation?

Modi struck a good personal rapport with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and both shared quality time -- both formal and informal. "We have been waiting for you for last 70 years," Prime Minister Netanyahu has said on July 4 while welcoming Mr Modi -- as a jovial Indian Prime Minister walked into the arms of a beaming Netanyahu -- who making a departure from protocol was at the Tel Aviv Airport to receive him. During their interactions and formal bilateral talks, both the leaders vowed to take the Indo-Israel relationship to new heights. Bth sides signed seven MoUs including a crucial one on agriculture and water. 

On the other hand, Modi critics both in India and in Pakistan must realise that China's friendship may not always help Islamabad either.

Even the CPEC and OBOR may not help Pakistan big way.

"Pakistani citizens also have no way to know what CPEC will cost them. Neither government has been clear about what projects are part of the plan. Costing has been completely opaque. China sets the price, contracts the work out to Chinese companies, and saddles Pakistan with the loans. Given the ongoing security threats on Chinese nationals in Pakistan, Islamabad is raising a CPEC Protection Force, the costs of which will be passed on to Pakistani citizens," says C Christine Fair in 'Foreign Policy'.