BJP Manages a Respite, But for How Long?

The Bharatiya Janata Party has managed to name a leader as the new chief minister of Goa. This must come as a big respite to the party still recovering from the loss of Manohar Parrikar. However, given the wafer thin majority the party enjoys in the state, it will be a herculean task for the party to continue in the saddle for long.

Pramod Sawant willl be the new CM of Goa, BJP signalled on Monday. Two MLAs from the BJP alliance partners will be made deputy chief ministers as part of the compromise reached with allies, according to the party sources.

Manohar Parrikar died Sunday after a prolonged illness and suffering from pancreas cancer. The tiny state of Goa witnessed a deadlock as the demise of Parrikar left a big void in the state politics. However, the party managed to break the ice by offering key allies their pound of flesh and accepting their demand for deputy CM’s posts. Sawant, 45 years old,  is currently the Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly.

There are strong indications that the two would-be Dy CMs are Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai and MGP MLA Sudin Dhavalikar. “We have managed to convince the alliance partners and finalised the formula of two deputy chief ministers for the state, a senior BJP functionary told PTI.

Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari held marathon discussions with his party MLAs and alliance partner regional parties such as Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party to choose the successor of Parrikar. He had told the reporters in Panaji that a decision would be announced soon. BJP national secretary B L Santosh is also helping him. Gadkari, along with BJP president Amit Shah, held a series of meetings with party MLAs and also of coalition partners to pick a new CM.
The BJP-led Goa government is supported by Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Goa Forward Party (GFP), independents and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Following the demise of Manohar Parrikar, the strength of the Goa assembly reduced to 36 members. In the 40-member house, three seats had earlier fallen vacant following the resignation of Congress MLAs Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar, and death of BJP MLA Francis D’Souza. By-polls to these three constituencies are scheduled alongside Lok Sabha elections on April 23rd. Currently, the BJP has 12 MLAs in the house, while the Congress has 14. The Congress has already staked claim for the formation of the government. The party leaders met Governor Mrudula Sinha and handed her letter of support. 

Thus, even if the BJP manages to install Sawant as CM, he will still face constant threat of being dismantled by opposition Congress and dissidents. Therefore, the drama will only get interesting in coming days.

NCP’s List of Candidates Adds to Conundrum

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which is struggling to overcome the internal bickering has released its first list of 12 candidates, including eleven from Maharashtra and one from Lakshadweep. However, the list has only added to the conundrum after NCP workers were distraught by the Pawar family’s feud.

The prominent names in the list are former state Irrigation Minister Sunil Tatkare, who would be contesting from Raigad, former state minister Gulabrao Devkar from Jalgaon, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s daughter and sitting MP Supriya Sule from Baramati, Udyan Raje Bhosale from Satara and Anand Paranjpe from Thane.

The party said the next list of candidates will be declared in the next couple of days. It has, however, desisted from announcing the candidate for contentious Ahmednagar seat. The party has not announced candidate from the Hathkanangale seat in south Maharashtra thereby leaving it for its alliance partner Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.

The NCP has also not announced the candidature for Maval and Madha seats which have garnered attention from all quarters because of the family feud being staged for the candidacy from these constituencies.

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew and former Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar has put his foot down to field his on Parth from Maval.

Sharad Pawar, the doyen of the Maharashtra politics was likely to contest from Madha. However, he pulled himself out from the ring at the last minute leaving the party workers in disarray. Pawar had announced last time that he would not contest the Lok Sabha election and instead chose the Rajya Sabha way. However, he had said that party workers wanted him to contest from Madha constituency in Solapur district, currently represented by NCP leader Vijaysinh Mohite Patil.

The 78-year-old, who completed five decades in politics two years ago, announced that since two members of his family were going to contest the polls, “somebody had to step back.” “Since I have already won elections 14 times, I decided not to contest the poll (this time),” he told reporters after holding a meeting with party leaders on Monday.

These frequent somersaults from the veteran leader has left the observers gaping in awe as Pawar is known for political acumen and apt decision making.

Not surprisingly, ruling BJP was forthcoming in attacking his stance. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the NCP chief’s decision to pull out from poll fray was because he had “sensed the change in the air”.

Priyanka Slams Narendra Modi – An Honest Rendering of a Borrowed Script

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday opened her account in the election camapgin by targetting the Narendra Modi government or just Namo. She alleged the the National Democratic Alliance government failed to fulfill promises and destructed institutions. All this was honest to the script run by the Congress party and one must admit that she adopted to the script very well.

Priyanka Gandhi was recently appointed as the Congress general secretary in early February and this was her first first political rally after assuming charge of the office. Obviously enough, there was much curiosity abound her appearance and the hallowed ‘similarity’ to her grandmother Indira Gandhi.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were present at the rally near Adalaj village of Gandhinagar district.

She exhorted the people to be vigilant, treat their vote as a “weapon” and ask right questions. “Our institutions are being destroyed. Wherever you see, hatred is being spread. Nothing matters more to us that you and I protect this nation, work for it and move forward together,” the Congress leader said.

Earlier in the day, a meeting of the the party’s highest decision-making body Congress Working Committee (CWC) was also held and Priyanka also attended the meeting for the first time.

It was quite perplexing that Priyanka said that she was appalled at the country’s situation today. This sounds very phony for someone who has chosen to remain in slumber for over two decades and repetedly denying any interest in politics. It also becomes laughable when one looks at the pathetic condition her party is in. obviously, Priyanka must be worried about the situation of her party rather than the country because it is the former that is in predicament right now.

The country is doing fine!

Ayodhya Verdict – Another Tactic to Delay the Inevitable?

That the Supreme Court on Friday referred Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case pertaining to Ayodhya to mediation for amicable settlement reeks of another attempt to delay the inevitable. The court has to give one or another verdict howsoever it may try to evade from its responsibility.

Former apex court judge Justice (retd) F. M. Kallifulla will head a panel of mediators in the case. Other members of the panel of mediators include spiritual guru Shri Shri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. Fortunately enough, the apex court has accepted that the case was not just about property but, also about sentiment and faith.

The SC has said that proceedings in the case will be held in Faizabad and process to start within a week. The SC has asked the panel of mediators to complete its mediation process within eight weeks and file a progress report of the mediation proceedings within four weeks.

Court also said that panel of mediators may co-opt more members and in case of any difficulty, they can inform the SC registry. The court directed in camera proceedings of mediation in Ayodhya case and restrained media – both print and electronic – from reporting the proceedings of mediation case.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday had reserved the order after hearing various contesting parties. Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lala.

The constant postponing of the matter, sometimes even refusal by the SC to hear any plea, has created a sort of discontent among the Hindus. It seems that the SC simply does not want the case to reach to its logical conclusion lest any political party gets mileage from it. It is pertinent here to remember Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s famous statement where he requested the SC to postpone the hearing of the case till Lok Sabha elections this year are over.

It has been a long wait for Hindus in India to get to see a grand temple to their beloved deity being built on the same site where Shri Rama was born. It is also worth mentioning here that in an interview to a news agency, Modi had said in January this year that a decision on bringing an ordinance on Ram Temple can be taken after the judicial process is complete. The BJP had passed a resolution for the construction of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya at Palampur in 1989. The party is pursuing the issue ever since and there is tremendous pressure from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to get the issue resolved as early as possible. RSS expects Modi government to fulfil its promise of building the Ram temple within this tenure as the BJP was elected to power in 2014 after committing itself to do so.

In this scenario, even though this has raised the hope for a decision on the long pending case in a stipulated time frame, that possibility still remains a pipe dream because no result from this mediation exercise is guaranteed. So as of now, it seems that all this mediation thing is just a ploy for buying some time till elections are announced. Once the announcement of poll schedule takes place, the government’s hands will be tied and one may expect any further development only thereafter. That is quite a smart move!

After Pulwama : Sense and Sensibility of Politicians

India has given a befitting reply to the proxy war inflicted by Pakistan through a devious mean of terrorism. Even as the Pakistan is licking the wounds of the last surgical strike, the heroes of the Indian Air Force gave another shock. They crossed Pakistan’s border and eliminated the terrorists holed up there. The attack is bigger than the last surgical strikes, but it makes all the more appreciable because of measured reactions coming from all quarters. The responses from both ruling and opposition parties have been subdued this time around. While the ruling party had rushed to take credit of the surgical strike I, the opposition had questioned the action and worse, questioned the Army’s prowess itself. After this arial strike, however, the situation looks a lot different.

Special commandos of the Indian Army crossed the Pakistan border (in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) on the night of September 28-29, 2016 and destroyed the terrorists launchpads. Our bravehearts returned safely after completing the operation. That operation was touted as the avenging of the terrorist attacks in Uri and Pathankot. Following the surgical strike, on September 29, a Cabinet Committee on Security was held in New Delhi under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. DGMO, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh held a press conference after this meeting. The officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were also present along with him but only Lt Gen Ranbir Singh explained the chronology of the operation. He described how Indian soldiers killed the terrorists after crossing over to PoK.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party left no stone unturned to take credit for this action. Teaching a lesson to Pakistan in its own language was an important part of BJP’s 2014 election campaign. Therefore, it was understandable for the party to take credit for the action taken during its rule. Tweets were made since early morning. The issue was ferverntly presented during the panel discussions on TV by the party spokespersons. Moreover, BJP openly projected the issue during the assembly elections in the five states held at the beginning of 2017. BJP leaders made most of the surgical strike I even claiming that such an operation was never undertaken in the history of India.

On the other hand, other political parties including the main opposition Congress, had accused the government of lying and that surgical strikes were false. Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam had said that the people of India wanted surgical strikes but real, not false. Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had expressed doubt over the surgical strikes by referring to Pakistani media. It was also claimed that it was not the first surgical strike and similar operation was carried out during Manmohan Singh’s government and all attempts were made to downplay the significance of that action.

IAFmirage2000On Tuesday, when Indian Air Force showed its might through arial strikes, nothing of that sort of thing happened. The announcement of the strike was made by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and not by any minister. He described this action in a brief and measured speech.

Even though there was a sense of satisfaction across the country for the revenge of Pulwama martyrs, there was no chest thumping in it. Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar described this action as a great feat. He said that the whole country was standing with the Air Force. Congress President Rahul Gandhi greeted Air Force pilots for this operation, while former Defense Minister A. K. Antony said that it would send a stern message to Pakistan. NCP Chief Sharad Pawar also congratulated the IAF. Arvind Kejriwal tweeted praise in favor of IAF pilots. Not only this, he also announced the postponement of his planned hunger strike.

On Wednesday, the opposition parties lauded IAF action against the terror camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed and praised the armed forces for their valor and bravery.

In a joint statement issued after their meeting in New Delhi, 21 opposition parties condemned the Pulwama terror attack and paid homage to martyrs and expressed solidarity with the IAF in crushing the menace of terrorism. Reading out the joint statement, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the meeting also condemned Pakistan’s misadventure and expressed deep concern for the safety of the missing Indian pilot. He said the parties have urged the government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India’s sovereignty, unity and integrity.

The meeting was attended by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP Chief Chandra Babu Naidu, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar are attending the meeting.

In essence, this shows that all the responsible people in the country have sensed the seriousness of the incident and have behaved appropriately befitting their place and posts. So this operation was not reduced to a tamasha.

PM Modi Must Act

The dastardly act by terrorists killing 40 of our brave jawans has left the nation shocked. This is one of the major terrorist incidents in India’s recent history and will be difficult to forget or forgive for long. It has drawn condemnation from all quarters and rightly so. The government will be forced to act in a befitting manner. Especially after the last heroic action of surgical strikes in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, the government has to show its sincerity through another such action on similar scale, if not more.

The stakes are disastrously high for Narendra Modi government. The general elections that will decide the fate of next five years of this nation are round the corner. Ever since his election to the Prime Minister’s post in 2014, Narendra Modi has consistently cultivated the persona of a nationalist and patriotic leader. The much celebrated surgical strikes were one of the main achievements of this government giving a sense of pride to the people. The Indians, who were fed of being a weaker nation in the name of peace and non-violence, were jubilant at that juncture. They saw in it the validation that India is not just a victim country that could be targeted easily but an emergent power that pay back the perpetrators of terrorism in their own coin.

Modi will be hard pressed to repeat that feat. The popular mood is to “go behind those bastards”. The sense is even more evident in RSS workers, supporters and sympathizers that form the core of BJP’S voters. Fortunately enough, opposition parties have promised their full support. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has said that his party is fully supporting the government and country’s security forces in view of Pulwama attack. Such type of violence is disgusting and no force can divide or break India, Gandhi said.

The all-party meeting convened in New Delhi in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack passed a resolution strongly condemning the dastardly act. All parties condemned terrorism in all its forms and the support being given to it from across the border. The resolution said terrorism in India is being actively encouraged by the forces across the border and India has displayed both firmness and resilience in dealing with these challenges.

Therefore, it will be a big challenge for NaMo to quench the thirst of his supporters for a bloody revenge. The problem before the government is that such decisions cannot be done with the beating of drum. Be it a strategic move or a diplomatic effort, any dispensation needs to move swiftly but discretely. There is no place for brow-beating in such manner. And going by PM Modi’s response, one may feel assured that this would surely happen.

PM Modi has said that each drop of tear after Pulwama terror attack will be avenged. He made it clear that New India’s policy is that it will respond in full measure if messed with. The PM’s warning that security forces have been given a free hand to punish the perpetrators of the attack have already been carried widely. Even Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan has come up with a reaction on it.

Now time is running out fast and Modi has to act.

Kumaraswamy Trapped in His Own Karma

The karma has caught up with Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. The beleagured leader has offered to quit his post after being fed up with the tantrums thrown by coalition partner Congress. It is a no secret that Congress, which has a long history of ditching governments headed by smaller parties, is not happy with his rule.
Speaking to the media persons on the sidelines of a program in Bengaluru, Kumaraswamy on Monay said that he did not want to continue and stick to the seat if Congress was unhappy.
He said that along with his Deputy Chief Minister Dr. Parameswar, he was trying his best to offer good governance. He said that the government is spending one lakh crore rupees for Bengaluru and has cleared projects like suburban rail service, outer rink road and alleviated corridor.
However, the Congress legislative party leader Siddaramaiah is not amused. Siddaramaiah, sees himself as the guardian of secular galaxy and would want to keep all affairs in his own hands. He has said that he would speak to Kumaraswamy and resolve the matter. However, this seems easier said than done as Siddaramaiah is accused of developing cold vibes with Parameswar as well.
The crux of Siddaramaiah’s unhappiness is in his reluctance to accept the reality that he is not at the help any longer. He is constantly trying to meddle into the affairs of the state and leading a backseat driving kind of role.
The frustration of Kumaraswamy seems obvious on this backdrop. Within as early as two months of swearing in as the CM of Karnataka in May 2018, he had expressed unhappiness over trepidation of the coalition Government that he was heading with support from Congress. He has broke down a number of times and this month, his outburst was all visible when he said that he was reduced to being a clerk rather than a CM. He had said on more than one occasion that party workers were happy but he was swallowing pain of the coalition.

Kumaraswamy is heading the Congress-JD(S) coalition government but Congress legislators, especially Siddaramaiah fraction, has refused to give him ample time for smooth functioning of the government. He is facing frequent brickbats from some sections of the coalition partner. The only glue keeping them together is their aversion to BJP.
Last year, he had said oenly, “I am not bothered how long I am here in this post. I believe I am here for five years. God gave me this opportunity, which I have to use for the benefit of people.” Immediately after coming to power, Kumaraswamy had said that no one could touch at least till the 2019 Lok Sabha polls are over.
Statements like these only serve to show how certain his insecurity is. It is as if he was bidding time till the Lok Sabha elections in May after which the real fate of his government is determined.
The JD(S) and the Congress had entered into a post-poll alliance but from the onset, this alliance was more a helplessness than natural camaraderie. The assembly polls last May yielded a hung verdict with the BJP emerging as the single largest part. It actually tried to form a government, hoping to buy some legislators with lure of power, but failed to do so. With a prospective third front being proposed at the national level and Congress’s role in it being unsure, the future appears for JD(S) not only bleak but confusing and self-destructive.