Friday, March 31, 2017

NDA govt should come clear on its 'leather policy', says Congress MP


New Delhi, Mar 31: The Congress today sought to question the Government on its 'leather policy' and said often contradictory messages are being given out by the ruling dispensation on matters relating to the sector. Initiating the debate on the Footwear Design and Development Institute Bill, 2017 in the Lok Sabha, Congress Member Ranjeet Ranjan said the BJP-led Central government has been giving "contradictory messages" on usage of leather itself.

On one side, a state government run by the saffron outfit is taking all actions against those who deal with leather while on the other hand the Commerce Minister was piloting a bill on "footwear design and developments".

Her remarks were obviously aimed at making a veiled attack on the new Uttar Pradesh government headed by Yogi Adityanath. 
"Your Chief Minister is reported to have thrown out all goods made of leather from his official residence," Ms Ranjan said."What does this government want?" Ms Ranjan asked. She said the Government's decision on how to deal with leather and those who work in the industry are imperative as "raw material is an important component" to promote the leather industry.
The vocal Congress member also referred to closure of leather units in Kanpur and also expressed apprehension that one day all the seats in the House "made of leather" could be changed. However, she was countered strongly by BJP Member Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who said the Congress MP has perhaps failed to appreciate the true spirit of the Bill. "This Bill has taken care of a long term perspective and it will take care of the overall bigger canvass of the entire life-style industry," he said.

Parrikar-Digvijaya shout it over in Upper House

Furious Congress members broke into jeers when Manohor Parrikar entered the Rajya Sabha (March 31) during the fag end of Zero Hour, his first appearance since resigning as Union Defence Minister. 
         Even as Mr Parrikar attempted to thank all for the support extended to him, Mr Singh protested to the chair, saying he should not be allowed to speak as he had ''killed democracy in Goa'' amid the ensuing din. Mr Parrikar thanked all for supporting him as Defence Minister, before pointedly thanking Mr Digvijaya Singh,  ''I also thank Mr Digvijaya Singhji, because he was roaming around in Goa and I was able to form the Government in Goa.''  Loud jeers emanated from the Opposition Congress benches as its members tried to drown the former union minister's words. Mr Singh could be heard saying over the din ''he has stolen the mandate of Goa...we will not allow him to speak.''

Congress leader in charge of Goa Digvijaya Singh was at the receiving end when Goa Chief minister Manohar Parrikar made a backhanded compliment and thanked him for handing the state to the BJP on a platter, saying that while the former was "roaming  around in Goa, I was able to form the Government in Goa''.  
  The newly appointed BJP Chief Minister was able to wrest government formation from Congress despite not having adequate numbers with the support of smaller parties and Independents.

On April 1, Digvijaya sought to pay it back attacking the former Defence Minister. 
"Shame on you Mr Parrikar and your hunger for Power. You have cheated the People of Goa. Apologise to them," Mr Singh, AICC general secretary In-charge of Goa, said in a series of tweets.

"Manohar Parrikar thanks me for letting him form Govt in Goa. If he has to thank anyone, it is Nitin Gadkari who did aggressive MLA Shopping on 12th March early morning from Hotel in Goa," the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister wrote in another tweet.

TDP MP moots "expiry dates" for currency notes

New Delhi, Mar 30 : TDP MP Jayadev Galla made ingenious suggestion to curb
flow of black money and high value currency when he said the government should think of introducing a system under which there is "expiry" dates for the notes.
"Why don't we look at an expiry date on high value bank notes," he said.
The Member of Parliament from Guntur made his suggestion while participating in the debate on the Finance Bill in the Lok Sabha.
He said to curb the risk of "hoarding" of high value currency notes, the government should think of putting in "expiry" date in high value currency notes. Mr Galla, once rated as one of the best CEOs, also said instead of circulating Rs 2000 value notes, the government should introduce Rs 200 currency.

BJP MP says like medicos after God; Health Minister Nadda's importance comes after Modi

New Delhi, Mar 30 (UNI) In quite a tongue-in-cheek observation, the BJP MP Anurag Thakur today threw the entire Lok Sabha into a peal of laughter when he said like doctors' role come after God, for many people the importance of Health Minister J P Nadda would come after Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Initiating the debate on Sustainable Development Goals in the Lok Sabha, the BJP Member said the role of the government in bringing about drastic changes in health services cannot be understated.
Continuing further on this, "Bhagwan ke baad jaise Doctor hotey haen; Pradhan mantri ke baad, Nadda ji aap aten haen (To patients as doctors come after God, for many, Mr Nadda you come after Prime Minister Narendra Modi)". The remarks obviously led the entire House into a peal of laughter.
Mr Nadda, who is a Rajya Sabha member from Himachal Pradesh, was also present in the House. Incidentally, Anurag Thakur is Lok Sabha Member from Hamirpur.The debate on Sustainable Development Goals also saw some skirmishes between Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Dr Ratna De Nag, who was on the Chair.
Dr Nag, Trinamool MP from Hooghly took exceptions to Mr Chowdhury's remarks that a "section" of doctors are not doing their job properly and are "indifferent" to the problems of the patients.
"May be there are exceptions," Dr Nag remarked. The Congress member, however, insisted his complaint was against only a section of medicos. "If doctors are demi God, we also have high expectations from them," Mr Chowdhury said.
Then again when the Congress Member spoke about "bare footed doctors", still on Chair, Dr Nag asked "will you go to bare footed doctors".
The vocal West Bengal Congress president still remained defiant and said, "Why not madam, if the quacks are effective".

Trinamool MP calls Babul Supriyo "flying bird", Minister says he keeps a bird's eye view

Trinamool Congress Member Saugata Roy on March 30 had a minor altercation with
Asansol Member Babul Supriyo with the former calling Union Minister a "flying bird".
The singer-turned-BJP lawmaker countered the senior Member by stating, he does not mind being called a flying bird.

"By flying I am able to keep a bird's eye views on what's going on in West Bengal. Moreover, I have been singing like a bird," Mr Supriyo said in the Lok Sabha.
The clash happened during general discussion on Sustainable Development Goals.
Participating in the debate, Mr Roy lauded various initiatives being taken by the Mamata Banerjee government to improve the conditions of health services in West Bengal.
On this, Mr Supriyo said some of the claims from the Trinamool Congress Member may not be true.
At this, Mr Roy maintained, "Babul Supriyo does not know the ground reality in the state as he is only a flying visitor to Bengal and mostly stays in Mumbai".
The Trinamool Member also said that under Asansol parliamentary constituency -- all the seven assembly seats went to Mamata-led outfit.
The Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries Mr Supriyo again shot back saying, "It is true all seven seats under Asansol are not with us (BJP). But the fact remains that I am a fighter. 
A politician is known by the fight he puts on....And I have been fighting Dada (Saugata Roy) and his party"."Yes, I would like to fly as a bird as I have been singing like a bird too," he said.Before joining politics in 2014; Babul Supriyo made his name as a playback singer in Bollywood with some popular songs like "Dil Ne Dil Ko Pukara" in 'Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai' the debut film of Hrithik Roshan.

Trinamool MP surprises Speaker, questions her on 'uncleared' projects

New Delhi, Mar 30 (UNI) Trinamool Congress Member Satabdi Roy today indulged in a quite unprecedented conduct when she questioned Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on how many times members need to write to Union Ministers and how much time is required to ensure that a project is finally through.
"Mera prashna aap se hai ki kitne minister ko kitne chitthi dene se kitne baar project dene se, kitne baar milne ke baad wey kaam karenge. Yeh aap se janna hai (My question is for you, I would like to know from you, how many times should MPs meet Ministers and write to them to get the projects cleared)," the Birbhum Member said during Question Hour.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Why Hindu hardliner YOGI is running India's most populous state?

India’s Mr Yogi – The ‘Neo’ Ruler of Hindu Heart

The biggest contribution made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his party in recent weeks is not merely anchoring BJP’s massive victory in Uttar Pradesh provincial polls. The bigger contribution has been in giving the BJP – a next Prime Minister material, a new generation leader.

This may not be an act of selfless exercise, but there is a political risk in it.

Compared to Yogi Adityanath's chauvinistic hard-liner image, Narendra Modi will now appear the sober catalyst of development.

The BJP sprang a surprise when it named a Hindu priest-politician Yogi Adityanath as its chief minister.
In choosing Adityanath — one who presumably follows an ascetic lifestyle based on yoga — party leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not only authorized him to anchor BJP's massive victory in Uttar Pradesh but also given Hindu groups a new generation of leadership.
The saffron-clad Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, is 45-years-old, 22-years younger than Modi himself. Political commentators such as S.K. Dutta believe Adityanath is the new face of the BJP. "Today's elections require a face. Ideologies do not matter much. The BJP has it in Narendra Modi. But the BJP is being visionary in creating another while the Indian opposition and chiefly the Congress party is stuck in the 1970s," said Dutta.
Adityanath is chief priest of the state's famed Gorakhnath (Shiva) temple in Gorakhpur, the region where he wields unquestionable political influence because of his hard-line views on Hindu religion and practice. His political career has been closely linked to the temple that he joined aged 21, renouncing the world to become an ascetic. The head priests of this temple have a history of political involvement since 1921 when its then chief opposed the non-violent method of Mahatma Gandhi and was arrested for instigating people against him.
Adityanath cultivated his constituency well and won the 1998 election aged 26, becoming the country's youngest parliamentarian. He made Gorakhpur a winning constituency for four elections 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014, underlining the unquestionable political sway of the Gorakhnath temple.

The last two decades, local media have carried several stories about Adityanath's radical views and his brushes with controversy. At least 18 criminal cases were registered against him, including criminal intimidation and rioting. 
In 2005, he was actively part of a re-conversion drive where 1,800 Christians were reportedly converted to Hinduism in the town of Etah in Uttar Pradesh. More than once, he has gone on record urging Hindu youth to avenge the so-called insult of Muslims marrying Hindu women. He is accused of inflammatory speeches which linked him to the 2007 Hindu-Muslim riots in Uttar Pradesh.
Police arrested him once in 2007 on charges of disturbing the peace which led to further unrest in the area. His supporters set fire to several coaches of a Mumbai-bound train. 
Yogi also has lauded U.S. President Donald Trump's radical views on Muslims and said India can emulate such a stance against Muslims to fight terrorism. He has in the past even criticized Mother Teresa and accused her of converting needy Hindus to Christianity. Mohammed Idris Ali, a Muslim leader from West Bengal sees a shrewd strategy at work in making Adityanath the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.
"Look at the master card they have played: compared to Adityanath's chauvinistic hard-liner image, Modi will now appear the sober catalyst of development. This suits the BJP's image for Modi," Ali said.
Another Muslim leader Shahnawaz Khan from the Muslim forum Jamaat-I-Islami Hind said Adityanath's ascension ends the ambiguity among some Hindu voters about the pro-Hindu agenda of the BJP. 
For others, the "Adityanath-Modi combination is the ideal synthesis of majority politics and development". Although a hard-liner, Adityanath was never a member of the socio-political group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). This is the radical engine room that runs the BJP government and is the agenda for Hindu nationhood. 
In contrast, Modi was a former RSS volunteer and they backed his political moves.

But without a doubt, Hindu hard-liners backed Adityanath to the hilt. RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha told media that Adityanath's selection "was the most appropriate decision".
Many see the decision as an RSS strategy to build up another power center away from Modi who seems to be in complete control of party apparatus. "It is true, there is a balancing act," a party insider said. "Now, we will have another power center in the BJP as Adityanath will control over 300 state legislators and a large number of parliamentarians."
Uttar Pradesh's political prominence in the country is due to its 220 million people, who elect 80 of the Indian parliament's 543 members. In the last national elections in 2014, the BJP won 70 of the 80 parliamentary seats.
But for some leaders like Bhartruhari Mahtab, a parliamentarian from the eastern Indian Odisha state, Adityanath has Modi's backing too. "Modi is trying to ensure his parliamentary election victory in 2019 by creating a strong Hindu leader in Uttar Pradesh".  
 The weakened opposition has only helped consolidate Hindu voters in favor of the BJP and its agenda, said Dutta. "The problem with Indian opposition parties is that they are stuck in the political ideology of the 1970s.
"The opposition parties especially the Congress and left parties in India need to update the political software; they need to refashion their model. When will this happen?" he said. With Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, "the portents are dangerous for the nation because what is at stake is India's secular system", said Chhotebhai, a Catholic leader in Uttar Pradesh.
Adityanath has a history of anti-minority slogans and "can we expect him to change?", said Chhotebhai, who only uses one name.

"Now that he is in power, just like Modi, he may not say anything [against minorities] but that may not stop others from pursuing discrimination."
Socialist leader B Mahtab says, “We know of their Hindutva agenda, now the fear is fringe elements in other regional parties in India and even elements in the BJP would turn MORE HINDU”. Others seem to agree. This is the (Donald) Trump moment in Indian politics. It is a definite swing towards Hindu fundamentalism. 
However, the more curious part of Yogi Adityanath as UP Chief Minister  is – Yogi is more of a Hindu hardliner than the RSS itself. He was not associated with the Sanghparivar fountainhead but the RSS and the BJP leadership – despite reservations – even in the past could not ignore him.
No wonder, often there have been occasions when Yogi has confronted the BJP and the RSS and often left top Hindu leaders red-faced.
This is making many suspect – who of the two – a politician Narendra Modi or a socio-religious organization RSS – actually backed Yogi Adityanath for the coveted post. Notably, Yogi personally has not been a RSS leader – unlike Prime Minister Modi.

His selection as the new UP Chief Minister was finally given out as “the choice of the elected legislators of UP”.

Friday, March 24, 2017

To beat anti-incumbency in Gujarat, BJP may project Amit Shah and advance polls

The BJP may try to beat the strong anti-incumbency wave and a perceivedindifference of Patidar voters in the western state of Gujarat by advancing the assembly elections - which are otherwise due by November-December this year.According to party sources, poll strategists in the saffron party also feel maximum electoral benefits can be obtained by encashing the strong 'pro Narendra Modi wave,' as was seen during the recently-held Uttar Pradesh elections. "Advancing the polls may help BJP better as the impact of UP victory can be made use of," a source said.

Meanwhile, sources said BJP's ally, Nagaland People's Front (NPF) is also in favour of Assembly polls. In Nagaland, polls are due in March 2018. However, the state's new Chief Minister Shurhozelie is not an MLA and has to face election by next six months.
To keep the momentum of Uttar Pradesh poll victory, the BJP poll managers in Gujarat have also decided to make optimum use of a slogan -- coined lately by party workers in the western state: 'UP Mein 325, Gujarat mein 150'.
 Gujarat has 182-member Assembly and BJP has been in power for the last two decades - while the contest in the state will be always taken as a prestige battle for the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo. 
In its 19-year rule, Mr Modi was the Chief Minister from October 2001 to May 2014 -- with the saffron party recording convincing victory in 2002, 2007 and 2012 assembly polls. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won all 24 seats in the state.
In 2012 assembly polls, the BJP won 116 seats as against 60 by Congress. 

However, it may not be a cakewalk to win the 2017 
Assembly polls as the state does not have any strong leader. The incumbent Vijay Rupani is a low-profile leader and was chosen only after having faced a major anti-BJP campaign by Patels (or Patidars) - after the party chose to replace its Chief Minister Anandiben Patel in August last year.
"Mr Amit Shah can play a Manohor Parrikar in Gujarat as winning Gujarat too will be very vital" a party source said.
Mr Shah was made BJP chief in July 2014 and his stipulated three-year stint as the national president of the saffron party ends on July 9.      
BJP's challenge in Gujarat has increased in the state as the battle is no longer confined only against the Congress.
By 2015-16, on one hand, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party has tried to establish the toehold in Gujarat on the other - all eyes would be on the Patidar community and a mere – 1993-born 23-year-old Patel boy Hardik Patel - who sort of challenged BJP's grip over Gujarat politics in 2015.
In July 2015 Patidar youth, many of whom are surnamed ‘Patel’, started public demonstrations across Gujarat demanding Other Backward Class (OBC) status for their community, which would entitle Patidars to a reserved quota of places in government jobs and education. Social media also helped to spread the protest quickly across the state. Protest meetings by Patidars soon were reported from Devbhoomi Dwarka, Gandhinagar, Navsari, Jam Jodhpur in Jamnagar district, Himmatnagar and Bagasara in Amreli district and in Rajkot.
         According to an estimate, in 55 days, as many as 149 rallies were organised throwing a major challenge to the 'Moditva phenomenon' in Narendra Modi’s own political backyard.
The party is yet to draw the poll strategy for Gujarat, but the wind of possibility of advancing the Assembly elections has been heard, even among leaders of other parties.
A vocal Biju Janata Dal MP, Tathagata Satpathy tweeted today: "PM speaks of simultaneous elections to save exchequer. Internal sources suggest advancement of Gujarat elections. Fun times ahead!"
When contacted BJD sources later said, "many people have heard about advancing of Gujarat polls".
Out of power in the state since 1997, the Congress has also started gearing up the poll machinery.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Jaitley targets Manmohan, Chidambaram; urges Congress to change 'advisors'

New Delhi, Mar 22 : Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today made a veiled attack on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram - who made a case to suggest that the demonetisation would result in drop of GDP by two per cent.

Replying to the debate on the Finance Bill, 2017 in the Lok Sabha; the Finance Minister told Congress Floor Leader Mallikarjun Kharge that it was high time that the party changed its 'advisors'."For 10 years, those people who controlled the country's economy, they had given an argument that due to demonetisation, GDP rate would decline by two per cent and that for seven months, the new currency cannot be printed....even your traditional support base has rejected you this time," Mr Jaitley said, in reference to the massive election victory BJP recorded in Uttar Pradesh, while the Congress and its ally Samajwadi Party were humbled.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said in Rajya Sabha on November 24, 2016 that banning of high value currency notes could lead to decline in GDP.

"....My own feeling is that the national income, that is the GDP, can decline by about 2 per cent as a result of what has been done. This is an underestimate, not an overestimate," Dr Singh had said.
About a week before Dr Singh's speech, another Congress leader and former Finance Minister
P Chidambaram had said in a media interview that it would take seven months to replace the equivalent of the banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency.

Quoting noted economist Martin Wolf's column in a globally reputed newspaper, Mr Jaitley said - the note ban move has been hailed as an act of a decisive leader like Modi who took "unpopular decisions for the benefit of the country" as against those who take "arbitrary decisions" for their own benefit.
"Historians may judge the shock of demonetisation as an example of the former," Mr Jaitley said quoting Wolf.

Defending government's digitilisation programme, the Finance Minister wondered why political parties were making virtue of cash economy.

"Crime does not end....but is cash a great incentiviser in crime," the Minister said. The Finance Minister said some Opposition Members had been misled by an article in the media that suggested that the IT assessing authorities had been given the blanket power to raid the tax payer's premises at their whims. This was not true, he said.
Mr Jaitley said the change brought out in the Finance Bill in the Section 132 (A) of IT Act has only tried to improve over the existing provision under which the sources of information had to be disclosed to the person raided.
This was "drying up" the sources, because,  for example, no employee of any person having unaccounted wealth would like his name to be disclosed to his employer, who had been raided. 
The  Finance Minister also disputed the Opposition's claim that tax collection had decreased following the note ban. Rather, he said,  the Government was going to achieve the revised target of Rs 17 lakh crore tax collection in 2016-17.
He said the target for the fiscal 2107-18 was Rs 19.5 lakh crore. "In these, Rs 9.8 lakh crore will be direct taxes and Rs 9.25 lakh crore will from the indirect tax net," the Finance Minister added.

People in Bengal know implications of cash, Jaitley takes potshot at Trinamool MPs

Jaitley today took a dig at Trinamool Congress party and also its senior member Saugata Roy over the latter's insistence on why the government is so determined about pushing for cashless economy.

Replying to the debate on the Finance Bill in the Lok Sabha, Mr Jaitley said, "In your state people know the implications of cash".
The remarks assume significance as West Bengal polity has been rocked by Sharda chit fund scam that has hit several key Trinamool Congress leaders and two of its sitting MPs were arrested in January.
It is also noteworthy that in the Narada scam wherein video footage was circulated about Trinamool MPs receiving cash -- even the name of Saugata Roy had figured.
The Calcutta High Court and Supreme Court have now ordered a CBI probe into the Narada cash for MPs scam while the premier probe agency is already investigating the Sharda scam.

PM Modi, Gujarat benefitted from 'new LPG' phenomenon of global economy: BJP MP

New Delhi, Mar 22 The western Indian state of Gujarat and Mr Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister were only able to reap maximum benefits of "new LPG" status of country's economic policy in the last decade, a BJP lawmaker said in the Lok Sabha today.
"In terms of new economic system in the country, the last decade belonged to the neo-LPG -- Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation. And in all that only Indian state that reaped the maximum benefit was Gujarat," BJP Member Shivkumar Udasi said while participating in the Finance Bill.

For achieving the feats of higher growth rate and development in Gujarat, of course, he said the credit should go to the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

He said since country's Independence, every decade or two has seen the dominance of a specific socio-economic and political ideology. In 1950s and sixties, it saw the domination of communism and socialism; since 1970s - it was "mere Socialism and Populism", the Haveri MP from Karnataka said and pointed out that in 1990s -- the stint of PV Narasimha Rao saw only Liberalism.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"I am one-year younger to Rahul and one-year older to Akhilesh," says new UP CM

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today said perhaps his date of birthand age -- "one year younger to Rahul Gandhi and one year elder to Akhilesh Yadav" - has played a decisive role in the final outcome of the election results in the state."Perhaps I came in between the team (of Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav) and that led to the defeat of the Opposition parties," he said in the Lok Sabha participating in the discussion on Finance Bill, 2017.

However, Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge made use of the occasion to counsel the new Chief Minister that he should "keep the garima (dignity)" of the office of the Chief Minister.
During his brief speech, Yogi invited all Lok Sabha MPs to visit Uttar Pradesh assuring them that the state will see major changes.
Almost in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, he said, "Uttar Pradesh mein bahut bandi honey wali hai (In Uttar Pradesh, many things will be closed now)". 

This statement can be seen is in reference to the closure of slaughter houses as was evident in the speeches of BJP chief Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath himself in the run up to the keenly fought elections in the northern state.

Yogi Adityanath attends LS proceedings, participates in Finance Bill debate

The new Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Gorakhpur lawmaker Yogi Adityanath today lauded Prime Minister Narendra Gandhi as an "icon" of democracy and said the measures like Ujjwala Scheme has proved to be game changer in the lives of 25-crore poor people.

Participating in the discussion on the Finance Bill, 2017, in the Lok Sabha, Yogi also commended Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for steering country's economy at a difficult time since 2014 when the BJP-led NDA coalition has come to power.

He exuded confidence that the new UP Government would fulfill the expectations of the people as was
reflected in the election results.

"The Finance Minister deserves appreciation as he has given new life to the country's economy," he said.

Yogi Adityanath further said by his uncompromising commitment to the development, Mr Modi has set an example and the world over when elections are held Prime Minister's "developmental model" is being discussed.
By his presence in the Lok Sabha proceedings today, Yogi has joined the illustrious club of Giridhar Gamang and Arjun Munda -- who as Chief Ministers of Odisha and Jharkhand have attended the proceedings.

In 1999, Gamang voted against Vajpayee Government resulting in defeat of the Vajpayee Government by mere  one vote.
Mr Munda once came to the House as Jharkhand Chief Minister to participate in a debate and voting during the time of Manmohan Singh regime.

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister said previously there was no proper utilisation of the funds which were allocated by the Union Government to the state.
He said the BJP government in the state will give such model of development that will ensure that youth will not leave the state in search of jobs. The Gorakhpur MP expressed confidence that they will be successful in maintaining law and order in the state. He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving AIIMS to Gorakhpur.
Earlier, when the UP Chief Minister entered the House to participate in the discussion, he was welcomed by treasury benches with slogans--''Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Jai Shri Ram'.

BJP getting into 'high command culture' as was done by syndicates in Cong: Mahtab

New Delhi, Mar 21 (UNI) The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) today said a kind of "high command culture" propagated mostly during the time of erstwhile "syndicates" in the Congress has set in the ruling BJP and the election of Yogi Adityanath as the new UP Chief Minister reflected that.

"There is a new high command culture. It is anti-thesis to the Atal Behari Vajpayee era. This high command culture is akin to the syndicate days in the Congress when Chief Ministers used to be appointed from Delhi," BJD floor leader in the Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab told UNI here.

"This is definitely not a healthy trend," he said.

However, to a question Mr Mahtab said he was not sure whether the 'imposition' of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister was the handiwork of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah duo or the RSS.

"At least Yogi was not with the RSS ever. This is what I know," he said adding, "now it is for you to draw inferences". Mr Mahtab pointed out that during Mr Vajpayee's tenure, it was clearly pronounced that the party would always project a Chief Ministerial candidate.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The ‘Trump’ Moment: Modi-Shah gives up "silent doer" Manoj Sinha, opts for 'hardliner' Yogi

Even in the past, the BJP had preferred hardliner leaders including the likes of Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and Dilip Singh Judeo.

The election of hardliner Yogi Adityanath as new legislature party in Uttar Pradesh shows that the party has decided to opt for a "popular face" and a "hardliner" instead of the silent doer and low-profile Manoj Sinha.
In high drama that prevailed for hours especially till the eleventh hour today, the elevation of soft spoken lawmaker and Union Minister Manoj Sinha was "stalled" even as an attempt was being made by the moderates in the party to push his case earlier in the day.
The party seemed to have rather helplessly endorsed the overwhelming views of the party legislators with Kailash Vijayvargiya almost echoing the spirit when he said, "If MLAs have taken a decision, you and I should not have anything to say about it".
In the ultimate analysis, Yogi's popularity and MLAs backing him openly tilted the balance. Many see the decision as a move also to balance power games within the BJP as over last few months -- the entire party apparatus seemed to have been in the grip of Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo.
"It is true, there is a balancing act. Now, we will have another power centre in the politics of BJP as Yogi Adityanath would have control over 325 MLAs and will be a future leader of at least over 50 MPs in 2019," a party leader said.

That there was more to it when Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu claimed there was "unanimity" in BJP's selection of Yogi, the fact that the party had to decide about two deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya (an OBC) and Dinesh Sharma (a Brahmin) showed that there ought to be right caste balancing as well.

Yogi Adityanath - born as Ajay Singh - is a Thakur by caste.
Incidentally, the last BJP Chief Minister in 2002 in the form of Rajnath Singh was also a Thakur.  
By pushing the case of Manoj Sinha, Ghazipur MP, the moderates wanted to give a message 
that in Sinha's elevation, there would be a larger message that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rewarded a "silent doer and an workaholic" -- who perhaps also reflected Modi-Amit Shah's choice of a 'caste-neutral' neta.
Some BJP leaders said here even hours before the final moment that perhaps the planning for possible shifting of Ghazipur MP to Lucknow as the Chief Minister had started sometime back when Sinha was given the key portfolio of Communication Ministry with independent charge.
Both Prime Minister Modi and BJP chief Shah seemed to have spotted the virtues of a "silent doer" in Sinha -  much before all speculation had started over the permutations and combinations vis-a-vis power game in Uttar Pradesh. 

"In July 2016 - when the Independent charge of Communication was given to Sinha, Prime Minister had signaled and virtually dared Manoj Sinha to deliver," a sitting BJP MP said. 
A section of BJP insiders also say that Yogi Adityanath's election also shows that the this time around BJP leadership and legislators had tried to come out of the 'pattern' that was unraveled in 2014. In most elections after 2014 Modi's victory; BJP had opted for low-profile and caste neutral leaders who had the image of performers.  
That way, even Manoj Sinha's 'Bhumihar caste' limited reach in a state -- known for dominant caste politics - was considered his assets. 

In the past in states like Jharkhand, Gujarat and Maharashtra - Modi and Amit Shah duo had opted for "caste-neutral" chief ministerial contenders - Raghubar Das, Vijay Rupani and Devendra Fadnavis respectively.

"In all these, the selection of Rupani in Gujarat and Raghubar Das in Jharkhand was more crucial reflected the pattern. Especially in tribal-stronghold Jharkhand, Modi-Shah team opted for Das and the state is doing pretty well since October-November 2014," another BJP source said.
Politically, it was also believed a low-profile and with a weaker caste idiom Chief Minister would suit Prime Minister's scheme of things in Varanasi and Uttar Pradesh - where Modi remains the "match winner" and the focus on Chief Minister is only on performance.
However, Yogi's election has sought to bring about some changes.
JD(U) leader Pavan Varma mocked at BJP's decision and said, "Yogi Adityanath's decision was natural choice for BJP as he stands for the ideologies of BJP".
However, there is a latent but a crucial caste game too as Modi-Shah duo had tried to a big picture message that  the upper castes in UP has been rewarded.This caste balancing act was a necessity more by default, say BJP watchers as in the last two decades -- under Samajwadi Party and BSP regimes the state only saw either an OBC or a Dalit ruler. 
The upper castes Brahmins and Thakurs have nevertheless always stood by the BJP and voted for the saffron outfit possibly barring 2007 assembly polls when BSP supremo Mayawati had stuck a wonderful social engineering with Dalits and Brahmins.

In the ultimate, the mandate and Yogi Adityanath’s elevation as new UP Chief Minister perhaps shows India is marching fast towards 'Hindu domination'. Importantly, not only the hardliners have prevailed, it is also a sign that RSS and nationalists are continuing to rest their hopes on Narendra Modi to deliver the religious hegemony or to correct the mistakes of the past!
Tail Piece:

The RSS endorsed the decision of newly BJP MLAs for electing Yogi Adityanath as the new Legislature Party Leader and described the move as "the most appropriate decision".

Friday, March 17, 2017

Uttar Pradesh elections show a swing to 'Hindu nationalism' : Is that a national trend?

The pivotal Uttar Pradesh elections show a swing towards 'Hindu nationalism' and a vastly weakened opposition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi overcame difficulties and major hurdles. His decision to demonetize high-value currency notes in November 2016 pushed millions of poor into hardship but it was presented as fight against the black money of the rich and ultimately helped the BJP win support of these voters.
On March 11, when the result came in for elections in five Indian states, especially the most populous Uttar Pradesh, it marked a leap forward for Hindu nationalists.
The success of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rested safely on the shoulders of its leader and Narendra Modi as he packaged and presented his winning image of a Hindu zealot who struggles hard for India’s development.
The February polls in five states including Manipur and Goa, which have sizeable Christian populations, Modi played the role of "dream merchant" promising jobs, good roads and improvement in law and order in a country that has long suffered bad governance.
In Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP has been in power only once in the last two decades, Modi addressed over 50 rallies ostensibly exposing misgovernment and caste-based politics. At each place, he also reminded his audience that he is still looking out for Hindu interests.
"If land is given for a [Muslim] cemetery in a village, it should also be given for [Hindu] cremation. If electricity is supplied during Ramadan, it should also be supplied during Diwali. There should not be discrimination," Modi had said at a rally trying to take a shot at the rival Samajwadi Party that have been accused of appeasing Muslims.
Furthermore - luck would have it too. As they say, in politics fortune often favours the one who makes first move bravely.

The rivals Congress and Samajwadi Party (the socialist party with good support base among a caste group Yadavs and Muslims) tried to reach out to the religious minority, Modi’s half the task became easier. Hence as he achieved ‘reverse polarisation’ among Hindus -- the result was near decimation of all rivals and BJP ended up picking 312 seats in 403-member assembly.

The 'reverse polarisation' of majority Hindus and BJP's calculated strategy not to field Muslims - as was the 'real Gujarat model' of electoral strategy - have largely led to massive victory for the saffron party and also resulted in significant drop  in the number of Muslim legislators in the country's largest state. The number of Muslim legislators in the newly-elected UP Assembly has come down to 25 - an all time low in the recent past. Even at the height of Ram Mandir movement there were at least 28 Muslim legislators in the state Assembly in 1993.

The BJP strategically did not field Muslim candidates and the number of Muslim legislators in the newly-elected house has dropped down to 25. 
Hence it is not without good reason, a prominent Hindu hardliner told this writer: “We achieved one milestone of our Hindutva agenda as number of Muslims in UP assembly has come down to 25. In 1990s, we had reduced Muslim voters and leaders as non-entity in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, and now we have got this in UP. We thank people of Uttar Pradesh for that”.
Modi and Moditva: Varanasi Roads

This – reduced number of Muslim legislators - is a tall order to achieve as the northern state (Uttar Pradesh) otherwise accounts for about 19 per cent of Muslim population – and who are also known for their political affirmative approach.

In fact in 2012 assembly polls, the Muslim MLAs strength was 68 in 2012 and was 56 in 2007. Hence the BJP has achieved a key Hindutva agenda – exclusion of Muslims.  

The result and BJP strategy makes many observers wonder if the Hindu nationalist party is pushing religious minorities into political irrelevance in its march toward a 'Hindu-only nation'.
The BJP has achieved a key goal: the exclusion of Muslims from politics without needing to be explicit about it -- without talking much about it in real sense. 
This development was helped by the political failure of rival parties, chiefly the Congress party, led by an Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, widow of a former Indian Prime Minister, and their son Rahul Gandhi.
Young Muslims
While she has been unwell for quite some time, Rahul Gandhi as the Congress Vice President has been unable to match the electoral aggressiveness of Modi.
Wresting the prowess to govern India’s most populous state with reduced number of Muslim legislators is only one part of the story. To many, the mandate this year shows that not only Sangh Parivar’s will has prevailed, it is also a sign that the RSS leadership is now resting much hopes on the former Gujarat chief minister, who pioneered his version of Hindutva movement in 2002.  

Life has truly come a full circle for the former RSS ‘pracharak’, Modi.  It is also a testimony to the fact that the RSS headquarter has reason to celebrate that PM Modi will live up to their expectations to exploit his ‘nationwide’ good will to revive the Hindutva movement – at least the three main contentious agenda – Uniform Civil code, Ayodhya Ram temple and abrogation of a special article in Jammu and Kashmir.

Muslim leaders also have their views that suggests Modi’s polarization also has to do with the folly of the other side.
"In these elections, Congress and other secular parties - SP and BSP lost not only electorally, but also morally," he says. 
"Humey toh kucch nahi mila (We did not get anything)," lamented one shopkeeper in Noida – commenting on the performance of secular parties just few days before the vote count actually took place. 

This development was helped by the political failure of rival parties, chiefly the Congress party, led by an Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, widow of a former Indian Prime Minister, and their son Rahul Gandhi.
While she has been unwell for quite some time, Rahul Gandhi as the Congress Vice President has been unable to match the electoral aggressiveness of Modi.
Congress, in the past, has ruled intermittently in coalitions, espousing secularism and equal rights for all religions but were unable to keep voter confidence.
"The secular brigade did not do much for the minorities. Their bluff was always going to be exposed one day," said BJP leader Sudanshu Trivedi.
Quereshi feels let down by SECULAR FORCES
Agra-based Jamaluddin Quereshi, a Muslim, said: "Indiscriminate attacks on Prime Minister Modi, unreasonable actions in the name of Muslim welfare and an inability to contain corruption have discredited the secular parties."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Fresh from UP glories, Amit Shah's next draws are roadmap for Gujarat, Karnataka

By Nirendra DevNew Delhi, Mar 12 (UNI) Post securing a massive victory in Uttar Pradesh and other key states, BJP President and party's chief poll strategist Amit Shah's priorities now would be ensure a comfortable return to power in Gujarat and also wrest Karnataka, the southern and only big state still left with the Congress. "It is not to merely to talk about the big picture, these elections and party's victory in Uttar Pradesh only makes us talk about the grand picture," BJP leader Sudhanshu Trivedi said. 

Elections are due by November-December in Gujarat, the backyard of both Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but it may not be a simple cakewalk as the saffron party has lost considerable support base in last few months.
         Having faced a major anti-BJP campaign by Patels (or Patidars) -- onetime a cardinal force behind BJP's support base in the western state -- the party chose to replace its Chief Minister Anandiben Patel in August last year.
         "Winning Gujarat too will be very vital as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's entire political graph and developmental plank is based on the Gujarat model. We are a battle-ready party always and more so for Gujarat," a party leader said.         BJP's challenge has increased in the state as the battle is no longer confined only against the Congress.
         By 2015-16, on one hand, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Admi Party has tried to establish the toehold in Gujarat while on the other - all eyes would be on the Patidar community and a mere – 1993-born 23-year-old Patel boy Hardik Patel.

In July 2015 Patidar youth, many of whom are surnamed ‘Patel’, started public demonstrations across Gujarat demanding Other Backward Class (OBC) status for their community, which would entitle Patidars to a reserved quota of places in government jobs and education. Social media also helped to spread the protest quickly across the state. Protest meetings by Patidars soon were reported from Devbhoomi Dwarka, Gandhinagar, Navsari, Jam Jodhpur in Jamnagar district, Himmatnagar and Bagasara in Amreli district and in Rajkot.
         According to an estimate, in 55 days, as many as 149 rallies were organised throwing a major challenge to the 'Moditva phenomenon' in Narendra Modi’s own political backyard, said an AAP leader. Pressure to deliver Gujarat to saffron party kitty will be more with Mr Shah ostensibly because the incumbent Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani himself has a low-profile stature in terms of electoral battle.

Besides managing numbers in the Rajya Sabha and making forward movement for Presidential elections due by July 2017, Amit Shah will also give his focus to the southern state of Karnataka, where BJP ruled from 2008 for five years but was voted out of power rather convincingly in 2013.
There was a weird political situation in Karnataka in 2013 when corruption charges against B S Yeddyurappa hurt BJP's image immensely. Out of 117 BJP members in 225-member assembly, at least 20-30 of them were against the saffron party owing allegiance either to Yeddyurappa or another regional party floated by B. Sriramulu, a former BJP minister and a confidant of mining baron G. Janardhana Reddy. 

It was ironical to a large extent that the saffron party, which hyped itself to believe that it's a party with a difference especially on the issue of corruption vis-a-vis Congress, was handed over defeat in May 2013 where more than anything else the principal issue before the electorate was corruption and misgovernance. Even party veteran L K Advani embarrassed the party top brass time and again when he used to say that 
'corruption' issue in Karnataka showed people "don't seem to trust us either".
      Politically, the BJP is, in the meanwhile, set to play the influential Lingayat- caste card to the hilt and has already taken back Yeddyurappa into the party fold.

Yeddyurappa, who was forced to resign in August 2011, has been acquitted by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and is now working overtime to expand party's base. It is now given to Amit Shah's political anchoring and Yeddyurappa's persuasive skills that Congress veteran and former External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has quit Congress and is now set to join the BJP on March 18.
Mr Krishna too is a respected Lingayat face. 
The Lingayat community comprises as much as 17 per cent of the state's population, a majority of which reside in politically crucial northern Karnataka. The community also runs hundreds of socio-religious mutts which again have considerable influence on the electorate.
Actually Diggy helped BJP
But BJP apparently still remains weak in the vokkaliga caste-dominated districts of Bengaluru rural, Mandya, Hassan and Chikkamagaluru. The Lingayat community is known for their assertive politics and has in the past even allegedly deserted Congress for shabby treatment meted to Veerendra Patil in 1989.
      Next February-March (2018) elections are also due in three northeastern states of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura.
      Amit Shah-led outfit will be certainly emboldened with party's good show in Manipur in the recent elections. At present BJP is in power in Assam and in Arunachal Pradesh.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Note-ban had no impact, says BJP chief; happy about good show in Amethi, Rae Bareli

Demonetisation had no adverse impact in this year's Assembly elections, BJP chief Amit Shah said here today, in more than joyous mood, when he said the saffron party's performance was particularly laudable in Amethi and Rae Bareli, the two known strongholds  of Congress party. 

"Of 10 seats in Rae Bareli and Amethi, we are winning six seats by big margins and this is making us very happy. From now on, politics will take a new direction in UP," Mr Shah told reporters. Congress President Sonia Gandhi is the elected MP from Rae Bareli, while Amethi is represented by her son Rahul Gandhi.

The BJP President said the impact of BJP's performance in these elections will be seen in other states also and there is "new era" for UP since independence - where henceforth, politics will be devoid of caste, creed and religious identities, there would not be appeasement either. "It is now proven that since Independence, Modiji is the most popular Prime Minister of this country...poor of the country love him," Mr Shah said. 
"In fact, the mandate proves that the masses and poor of India are on the side of demonetisation. Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi thoroughly criticised the note ban at every rally," Mr Shah said.  ''We also raised it and it has been proved that people stand together with the Prime Minister on demonetisation,'' he added.

UP's biggest loser Mayawati greatest gainer in vote share since 2014

Despite having faced a crushing defeat the BSP of Ms Mayawati is ironically the only party in UP which has increased its number of votes and vote share in percentage terms since 2014 Lok Sabha elections with all other players including the BJP losing their votes tally.  
         The votes polled in favour of elephant increased to 22.2 pc, which is 2.43 pc more what it got in the last general elections of 2014. The party also added more votes to its kitty since then as in the assembly elections it polled 19,108,397, a jump of over three lakh 20 thousand votes.
        All other major players, including the BJP, lost votes in percentages and in the numbers while adding more seats.
        Though' the BJP managed to keep its vote share of 42 percent completely intact what it polled in the general elections of 2014 riding on the Modi wave in the state, which even mathematically translates into its victory in more than 300 seats.

         The Saffron party lost only 4 lack 22 thousand and seven votes from its vote share of 34318854 which it polled in the last Lok Sabh elections.

Omar Abdullah calls for building up a 'pan-India leader' who can take on Modi

A key Opposition leader and known votary of anti-Narendra Modi politics, Omar Abdullah today sought to caution about the impending political challenge, saying there was hardly any leader "with a pan India acceptability who can take on Modi".
The National Conference leader and the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir in a series of tweets, said, "In a nutshell there is no leader today with a pan India acceptability who can take on Modi & the BJP in 2019".

Mr Abdullah, who was part of the NDA-1 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee and had walked out of the coalition after the Gujarat riots of 2002, also said that criticising  the PM will not take the Opposition very far, nor fetch in electoral dividends. 
The comment could be seen as a veiled attack on top Opposition leaders, including from the Congress, Left and the regional parties, who notwithstanding pursuing anti-BJP politics, have so far failed to create a common platform to fight the saffron party, which particularly is in a resurgent mode electorally, since 2014. 

Reacting to the winning spree of BJP led by Mr Modi, Mr Abdullah said, "At this rate we might as well forget 2019 & start planning/hoping for 2024".
He also said, "I've said this before & I'll say it again the voter needs to be given an alternative agenda that is based on what we will do better. Criticising the PM will only take us so far. The voter needs to know there is an option available to them that has a clear +ve road map".

Congress lapses led to shift of support base of poor to BJP: :

FM Jaitley

New Delhi, Mar 11 (UNI) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said  the opposition Congress went totally erratic about its stance on demonetisation and claimed that by its lapses in both "tactic and policy", the Congress party shifted its vote share among the poor and 'nationalistic constituency' to the BJP.
"I think the opposition parties especially the Congress has lot to introspect. Its in both in tactic and in policy. Demonetisation was politically a popular decision and Congress party should have supported it," Mr Jaitley told Doordarshan News.
He said the mandate has only "emboldened" the saffron party further.
To a question, he said as a policy the demonetisation decision should have been "debated" in Parliament, but the opposition parties chose to create disruption.
Such strategies did not go well with the people, he said.
At the same time, Finance Minister said Congress leaders more often endorsing "highly controversial" slogans raised in universities actually allowed the shift in support base and helped BJP emerge as the "sole defender of the nationalistic constituency".

Polls show end of appeasement, caste politics; BJP to form Govt in 4 states: Shah

"These results also mark the end of dynastic politics, caste politics and the politics of appeasement," he said.
"This is a historic victory in more ways than one," he said, adding that probably since Independence, the voters in UP and Uttarakhand put together have given a most decisive mandate.
"After Independence, this is one of the most popular mandates collectively by the voters in the states of UP and Uttarakhand," he said.
Both the states before their split and after have been long suffering poor governance for long, Mr Shah said.
He asserted that the mandate in UP and Uttarakhand and significant increase in BJP's vote share in northeastern state of Manipur meant a clear endorsement of Prime Minister's developmental agenda.
"The mandate this year has proved that the electorate of UP and other states have moved beyond the regimentation of caste, creed and religion. Voters are just voters and they have shown that they want to be with a government that performs," Mr Shah said.