A Mirage Called Grand Alliance

The attempts by some of the opposition parties to cobble up a grand alliance to fight Bharatiya Janata Party are in full swing. This illusionary preposition swings up every five years or so in the name of fighting communalism and fascism. Earlier they levelled the same charge on Congress and fought shoulder to shoulder with BJP, but when the BJP gathered enough mass and marched ahead on its own, they changed the tone.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was right when he said that that the opposition ‘mahagathbandhan’ or grand alliance was a club of ‘nawabs of negativity’ and the only ‘glue’ of this diverse grouping is its opposition to one man Narendra Modi. They are so driven by their hate towards Modi that they can set aside all their differences and ideologies to form a hastily sewn alliance.
However, the situation has changed a lot since such Fronts came up on political scene in India about 30 years ago. At that time, the people wanted change at any cost and that meant voting in favor of an melange of a smaller parties without a strong and nationwide leadership.
The people today belong to an aspirational society which is politically conscious. It will never buy into this suicidal alternative. This ragbag may come into existence propelled by the egos of the individual parties (no pun intended) but they cannot take the nation where it rightfully belongs in the 21st century. All the players performing in this political circus carry zero credibility; in many places, they are liability than assets. Look at Telugu Desam Party which was battered in the recently concluded Assembly elections in Telangana in spite of forming a front with Congress and Left.
Just last week, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party entered an alliance for Lok Sabah Poll 2019. They announced that they would fight coming lok Sabha election jointly on seat sharing of 38 each in Uttar Pradesh. And what did they have to say about Congress, which was an ally of SP in UP Assembly election in 2017?
Addressing a joint press conference with Akhilesh Yadav at Lucknow, Mayawati said that Congress is not part of alliance as it is not beneficial in seat winning contrary it creates loss. She said that she is keeping away Lucknow’s Guest House incident away in interest of People and country. She said this alliance will continue for a long in future.
Interestingly, one can use the phrase ‘forging an alliance’ in all sense to describe these parties. This proposed ‘mahagathbandhan’ has neither the ideological cohesiveness nor a common program. They lack leadership and nor any of them has unblemished record. It does not aim at building the country but focuses on maintaining the imaginary halo of their respective leaders. Those who can’t even see each other are now joining hands out of the fear for their own survival. More than anything else, their ego will eat each other even if they manage to come closer.

Sheila Dikshit’s Selection Shows Lack of Choices

The appointment of Delhi former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as Head of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee comes as a very disappointing decision. It shows that Congress leadership is bereft of choices and has to fall back on old guards. This was evident in choosing choosing Kamal Nath as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and Ashok Gehlot as CM of Rajasthan. In an era where young voters are going to determine the future of majority of candidates in the ensuing Loksabha elections, choosing choosing 18 year old Sheila Dikshit will not help attracting the youngsters in any particular manner.

Sheila Dikshit, three times CM of Delhi, was appointed the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president on Thursday. She will replace Ajay Maken who had resigned from the post citing ill-health a few days ago. However in the political circles it is widely speculated that he made way for the new president to facilitate an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party. P. C. Chacko, the in-charge of the party’s Delhi unit, made the announcement. He said that Dikshit would be assisted by three working presidents — Devender Yadav, Haroon Yusuf and Rajesh Lilotia.

In a true Congress fashion, Maken congratulated Dikshit. “Congratulations and well wishes to Sheila Dikshit on being appointed as president of Delhi Congress. I had the opportunity to work and learn under her as a parliamentary secretary and as a cabinet minister. I believe under her leadership we will play the role of a powerful opposition against Modi+Kejriwal governments,” Maken tweeted.

However, Sheila Dikshit will be hard pressed to infuse life in an almost dead party organization still reeling under the shock of defeat in Delhi. She is old and is not supposed to provide dynamic leadership that Congress requires at the moment. The Congress veteran was made the Chief Ministerial candidate for the Uttar Pradesh elections but it didn’t yield any worthwhile results for the Grand Old Party of India. Granted, Sheila Dikshit is the longest serving Chief Minister of Delhi, serving for a period of 15 years from 1998 to 2013 and she led Congress party to three consecutive electoral victories in Delhi; that is a past now. It is true that leaders seldom retire in Indian politcs, but to expect same performance from the octogenarian politcian will be nothing less than a cruelty.

It was Sheila Dikshit who was the CM of Delhi when infamous Nirbhaya episode happened that damaged Congress’s reputation for a good part. The Congress at the time was always on the backfoot and its leadership was lusterless. A kind of fatigue caughts up with the cadres and Congress gradually lost its footing in the competitive politics between BJP and the AAP.

The need of the hour, for Congress, is a young and suave leader who could talk youths in their own language. Especially, when a large section of media is playing cheer girls for Rahul Gandhi, and a perception is being built that the party is on pheonix-like rise under his leadership, this was the least that he could do. Thus, he could ensure that the party would cover lost ground in the political epicentre of India.

Flogging a Dead ‘Rafale’ Horse: Rahul Gandhi Refuses to Mend Ways

Even after receiving severe admonition from the court, Congress dynast Rahul Gandhi refuses to mend his ways. He continues to flog a dead horse in the form of Rafale deal and hopes to gain windfall by raking up this issue in the run up to the impending Lok Sabha elections.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid Rs 20,000 crore to France’s Dassault Aviation even though it has not delivered a single Rafale jet, but refuses to pay the dues of the Indian aerospace major.

Gandhi scion’s attack two days after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ripped apart arguments in heated debate in the Lok Sabha. The Defence Minister gave a spirited reply and refused all charges leveled by Rahul Gandhi. A day prior to that, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley buttressed the government’s stand that the multi-billion deal with French fighter jet manufacturer was in the nation’s interest.

Yet, Rahul Gandhi, who has professed his readiness to become future prime minister, hangs on the already weak branch in the form of Rafale deal. On Tuesday, he accused the Modi government of weakening public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and destroying India’s strategic capability to benefit industrialist Anil Ambani.

“The PM pays 20,000 Cr. to Dassault before a single RAFALE is delivered but refuses to pay HAL 15,700 Cr. it is owed, forcing it to borrow 1,000 Cr to pay salaries,” Gandhi tweeted. “Meanwhile, the RM (Raksha Mantri) spins lie after lie but cannot answer my questions,” he said according to PTI. 

The Congress and the BJP-led NDA government have been involved in a war of words after a media report claimed that HAL, grappling with low finances, was forced to borrow Rs 1,000 crore to pay salaries to its employees, for the first time in years.

BJP Modi Rafale

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government has accused the Congress of not supporting HAL during its rule and asserted that the government is now strengthening the defense public sector undertaking.

Since the court having settled this matter decisively, the Congress scion’s attempt to malign NDA government and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom Rahul have personally targeted on many occasions, seems to be futile.

The Supreme Court on December 13 dismissed all the pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale jets saying there was no occasion to “really doubt the decision making process” warranting setting aside of the contract. The apex court also rejected the pleas seeking lodging of an FIR and the court-monitored probe alleging irregularities in the Rs 58,000 crore deal, in which both the countries have entered into an inter-governmental agreement (IGA).

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dealt with “three broad areas of concern” raised in the petitions — the decision making process, pricing and the choice of Indian offset partners (IOP) — and said there was no reason for intervention by the court on the “sensitive issue” of purchase of 36 jets.

The court’s verdict helped clear the air which was beyond doubt in the first place. All the experts and defence analysts had put their weight in favor of the Modi government. But, Congress and its coterie is not satisfied even after the apex court of the country outspoken in no unclear terms. It seems that the liberal camp is bent on creating confusion in the country to achieve their goals. Thankfully, people are not mislead by search tactics in this age of social media and free information. Therefore, Rahul crusade on Rafale will remain grounded and not take off as the liberal camp envisages.

Rahul Bravado Makes Good Show, But No Impact

Congress President Rahul Gandhi is unarguably in his prime as an opposition leader firing one after another salvo on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. he has got a good toy to play with in the form of Rafale deal. He and his coterie understand perfectly well that government cannot disclose all the facts pertaining to this deal due to the issues of national security. This allows him and his party to create confusion among the masses. However, unfortunately for him, people are not ready to buy his bravado as a serious act of a mature politician. With BJP coming with more counter attacks with every passing day, scion of the Gandhi family find himself in a precarious situation where he can neither lead the fight to its logical conclusion no can he leave it halfway.
In such a scenario, Rahul’s theatricks have only contributed to raising the entertainment quotient of the political discourse.

On Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi continued his tirade on Twitter and addressed Air Force officers, the families of martyred pilots as well as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited workers. He said that he understood the pain of jawans, and would work to bring to justice all those who dishonoured and stole from them.

“To every Air Force officer and Jawan who has served India. To the family of every martyred Indian fighter pilot. To every person who ever worked for HAL. We hear your pain. We understand how you feel. We will bring to justice all those who dishonoured and stole from you,” he said on Twitter.

Unlike his past campaigns, Rahul has shown some consistency in attacking the government on the Rafale deal, it must be acknowledged. However, he has already committed blunder by making his party organ, the recently rejected National Herald, to compare the scandal with the Bofors.

On Monday, he said the country’s “chowkidar” Modi snatched money away from the poor and handed it over to industrialist Anil Ambani. “The chowkidar of the country has taken out Rs 20,000 crore from the pockets of the poor, martyrs and the jawans and put it in the pocket of (Anil) Ambani,” Gandhi said at a meeting in the Jais area of his Lok Sabha constituency Amethi. This was one of the oldest statements made by Rahul ever since the Congress Party was relegated 44 seats in Lok Sabha and was forced to sit in the opposition.

However, the Congress’s past is going to haunt the party and Rahul for many days to come. if anything, Sambit patra’s counter attack proved this one thing.

BJP on Tuesday alleged that Congress was pointing fingers over the current Rafale Aircraft deal as it could not receive the kickbacks during the UPA regime and therefore the deal did not materialise. Briefing reporters in New Delhi today, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra reiterated allegations that there was a close link between UPA chairperson’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and controversial arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari whose company has been red flagged by the NDA government. He claimed that during 2016 raids conducted at Bhandari’s places, several sensitive documents including papers related to Rafale deal were found.

Several TV channels have picked up pieces of this story and exposed supposed link between Rahul, Congress and Sanjay Bhandari. These charges are going to stick with the Congress party that has become synonymous with scams, scandals, inefficiency and nepotism. There is a large number of critics who see Rahul Gandhi as a very reluctant and inefficient leader who is yet to come to terms with his responsibilities. It is only recently that he has shown some seriousness towards his job and detractors have pointed out role of individuals like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Divya Spandana behind his makeover.

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“After Modi government came to power, we started action against Sanjay Bhandari and his company. Starting as Rs 1 lakh worth company, Offset India Solutions slowly turned big with Robert Vadra’s help. There were raids in 18 places across India in 2016 and important papers including on Rafale were recovered,” Patra said.

The documents also included ‘confidential documents of Ministry of Defence’. “The papers also included proposals to buy mid-air refuellers and defence acquisition council papers. There were minutes of deliberations of the Contract Negotiations Committee”.

Moreover, Pakistan has also shown some interest in this episode and has overtly backed Rahul. With Pakistan being a perpetual adversary of India, no right thinking person in the country will like that one of its political leader is like by Pakistan. Thus, ironically, people tend to support PM Modi rather than dislike him the way did it Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi.

Therefore, the fact remains that Rahul’s bravado makes a good show and provides good copy to the paper, good footage to the channel and a lot of kilobytes for the digital media. But on ground, it does not make any impact at all.

When Political Motives Turn Shameless….

The anxiety and political motives of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee are turning into shamelessness with every passing day. Her brazenness has reached such a state that she is openly threatening the government and the nation of a possible civil war. The lady who was once hailed as a fiery leader has metamorphosed into a militant leader.

Banerjee on Tuesday alleged that the National Registrar of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam was done with a “political motive” to divide people and warned that “it would lead to bloodbath and a civil war in the country.”

As has become her habit for quite a time, she attacked the central government and BJP also saying that the saffron party was trying to divide the country and asserted this will not be tolerated.
“The NRC is being done with a political motive. We will not let this happen. They (BJP) are trying to divide the people. The situation cannot be tolerated. There will be a civil war, blood bath in the country,” Banerjee told a conclave.

SC-Driven Exercise

The massive Supreme Court-monitored exercise to identify genuine Indian nationals living in Assam excluded over 4 million people from the final draft list. The issue rocked both house of Parliament after which Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed to the opposition not to politicize the sensitive matter as the list has been published on the directives of the SC and the Centre had “no role” in it.

He asserted that no “coercive” action would be taken against those whose names were excluded from the NRC draft list.

The truth of the matter is that TMC, like Congress and left parties, has nurtured a culture of illegal immigrants and infiltrators. These parties owe their existence and success to this dubious voter base. They can hardly afford to alienate them. That is why Banerjee and her ilk make a hue and cry over the issue. Joining them with chorus is Congress Party. Yes, that same old party which has lately habituated itself to play second fiddle to strong regional forces.

It is a hard-established fact that India is suffering from illegal immigrants for decades. The problem dates as back as Nation’s independence. Even past prime ministers like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi have appreciated this fact and vowed to eradicate this menace. Security experts have pointed out a number of times the risks involved in allowing infiltrators a free access to the country. Besides eating up a sizable chunk of resources, these infiltrators have caused huge population explosion. Rather, this inhibited infiltration is said to be one of the main reason of India’s population after 1980s and 90s. This was also the time when the successive central governments were weak and the country witnessed a number of terrorist attacks.

It is true that the first waves of illegal immigrants came to India owing to their poverty in search of livelihood and security, due to extreme poverty and unemployment. . It is also true that the first settlers were, if we may say so, consisted of Muslim as well as Rhodium Libreus. However, once it was seen that India is a very open country that welcomed immigrants from every side, the trickle soon turn into a stream. And soon, the camel enjoyed hospitality of the tent while his owner had to live in the open ground.

With central governments showing little interest to find a solution to the infiltration problem and state governments willing partner in the crime, it ultimately became one of the biggest security concerns for India. Many of the illegal immigrants were found involved in nefarious activities like human trafficking, counterfeit currency and drug trade. Gradually, the professed secular parties turned these groups into captive vote banks. They not only harbored these groups but also actively encouraged them to flourish. It is no secret that these secular parties encouraged illegal migration and encouraged them to get citizenship of India. Many leaders of these parties procured jobs, even government jobs, to them. This was the classic modus operandi in Kashmir, Assam and West Bengal.

Disappearing Vote Banks

It is this vote bank that Mamata Banerjee is seeing being eroded with a single stroke of national register of citizenship (NRC). All the noise that she is making is because of this. Mamata is terrified even with the thought of deporting illegal migrants as they form the core of her ‘constituency’. She became hysterical the moment Assam government announced the NRC list in which 4 million people were identified as aliens. Even assuming that this list will be modified and a half of them are retained, yet Congress, TMC and Left will lose 2 million voters.

This is why they are spewing venom on government accusing the latter of dividing the country. This same gang opposed deporting Rohingya Muslims even after conclusively proving that they had terrorist affiliations.

Notwithstanding these theatrics, the citizens of this country vehemently support the move regardless of the fact that it was carried out on Supreme Court’s order and not by the government itself. This long pending and much needed development will have serious repercussions. Most importantly, it has bared open the groups that think in national interest and those otherwise.

Kumaraswamy Rekindles Ugly Memories of Coalition Politics

Janata Dal Secular and Congress have managed to Grab the power in Karnataka pushing the Bharatiya Janata Party to the margin. H D Kumarswamy is in the Chief Minister’s chair. However, with the coalition comes the ugly memories of 1990s when themes of the supporting parties ruled the roost while issues of governance where put on back burner.
Karnataka’s new CM H D Kumaraswamy’s remark that he was at the “mercy” of Congress and not the people of state Signify the return of that era. With combined opposition parties coming together for the sake of fighting Narendra Modi and BJP, even as they are yet and decided over who would lead the pack, the chances of this kind of ‘obligatory’ politics become stark.
The Karnataka BJP leaders have flayed CM Kumarswamy saying that he was “deriding his own people” and doubted his credentials to serve them. However, their statement may fall under the ‘sour grape’ category. Surely, the statement of H D Kumaraswamy counts among the most brazen statements. It also signifies as to who would call the shots in this makeshift arranged that promises to last at least until next parliamentary elections.
Kumaraswamy had yesterday stated he was at the ‘mercy’ of the Congress, not the 6.5 crore people of the state. “Mine is not an independent government. I had requested the people to give me a mandate that prevents me from succumbing to any pressure other than you. But today I am at the mercy of the Congress. I am not under the pressure of the 6.5 crore people of the state,” he had said.
The coalition governments have been part of Indian polity since the elections in 1967 when the Congress’s monopoly of power in the states was broken for the first time. It started an era of short-lived governments and politics of defection – both of which were induced by Congress. The opposition parties formed coalition governments that included Swatantra, Jan Sangh, BKD, Socialists and CPI. Though CPM did not join these governments, it actively supported them.
Even Congress also formed coalition governments in some of the states where it had been reduced to a minority. However, none of these governments was stable enough and could not stay in power for long. Interestingly, Congress party has always believed that coalition rule is a prescription for instability and that it alone can provide stable governance. It Actually ran an election campaign on the plank of stability when two successive governments led by VP Singh and Chandrashekhar could not complete their terms. Ironically, the one led by Chandrashekhar came into existence because Congress has had lent support to it and eventually took it back honor flimsy pretext.
It was Atal Bihari Vajpayee who for the first time led governments with large coalition of parties. But that was never a smooth ride even for a sagacious leader like Vajpayee.
Even a quick flashback would show the difficult road that the nation has traversed. A debilitating instability had gripped the Nation in the latter half of the 90s. The Congress was voted out of power in May 1996 and BJP, for the first time, emerged largest party in the 11th Lok Sabha. Vajpayee’s first tenure as Prime Minister lasted only 13 days.
After pledging “unconditional” outside support “for full five years”, the Congress party destabilized two United Front governments in less than two years – and that too on patently flimsy excuses. It actually showed the Congress party’s contempt for coalition politics as it thought it could run the country on its own and smaller parties were a hindrance to its agenda.
Congress leaders pulled down the UF governments under the calculation that power would naturally be theirs after the early elections to the 12th Lok Sabha. In reality, the electorate handed a worse defeat to the Congress than in 1996 and gave an unambiguous mandate to Vajpayee. Even this bitter experience did not pursuade the power-hungry Congressmen to play power games and destabilize the government and eventually the nation. on the contrary, in the zeal to put their leader Sonia Gandhi, who had taken the baton just a year ago, they plotted pull down the NDA Government in April 1999. And brought it down with just one vote.
That forced yet another mid-term election on the nation and the outcome again was in favor of BJP. The Congress fared worse than before, the BJP did better than before and Vajpayee began his third term as Prime Minister, with a clearer and stronger mandate than before.
While achieving this, everyone knows what kind of tribulations Vajpayee had to undergo that ultimately impacted his performance as the Prime Minister. Since 2004, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance ruled the country and its 10-year rule is known for loot, plunder and mismanagement.

With Narendra Modi’s victory in 2014, that era of blackmailing in the guise of coalition had come to an end. Under his leadership, BJP formed single handed governments in one after another state. In states like Delhi and Bihar, BJP did not win but the governments where stable. in Bihar, it was this murky state of coalition that forced Nitish Kumar to switch sides and join the NDA.
All those memories returned with swearing in of Kumarswamy when sworn enemies embraced each other to fight the bigger foe. What price they will have to pay in return of guarantee for their survival can be gauged from the statement that Kumar Swami has made. And this is just the beginning. We are still in the trailer but it is enough to give an idea as to what the picture will likely be.

Can Shiv Sena Go It Alone?

The Shiv Sena, the party sulking for last almost four years, has decided to field its two candidates for the Nashik and Raigad-Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg local authorities constituencies for the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections. It effectively reinforces its stand to have no truck with Bharatiya Janata Party, its longtime ally and presently its bête noire. The election is scheduled to be held next month. A total of six local authorities constituencies would go to polls on May 21.
The politics in Maharashtra for the last few days has been marked by the overtures by BJP to form an alliance with Shiv Sena.Uddhav Thackeray, the executive president of Shiv Sena, announced earlier this year that the party would contest all future elections alone. The announcement was the culmination of a long drawn verbal duel between the two saffron parties. Ever since BJP rode to power, successively at the centre and in state, it rubbed its long time ally wrong way. In its zeal to acquire power on its own, BJP behaved with an aggressive high handedness that offended the party that have endured many a tempests together in over three-decade long journey.
Now the time has come for Shiv Sena to pay in the same coin. Its latest move is viewed as a snub to the BJP’s overtures. The Sena has announced Narendra Darade and Rajeev Sable for Nashik and Raigad-Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituencies, respectively as its candidates.The question is – can Shiv Sena maintain the momentum and pay the price of fighting its battles alone. The party may claim that it has a statewide presence but in reality, it is clustered in Mumbai, Konkan and to an extent Paschim (Western) Maharashtra area. Its support mainly from the urban areas. A large base of cadre has migrated first to the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and now to BJP.
On the part of BJP, it indulged itself in many misadventures post-2014. Many of those misadventures actually paid dividends. However, the sense of realpolitik came soon and it started looking for mending fences with Shiv Sena. The BJP leaders including Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and others have made no bones about their willingness to form an alliance with Shiv Sena. Even though Shiv Sena has resolutely said time and again that it will go alone, no one in political circles believed it. Shiv Sena clinging to power both in Centre as well as in state was seen as its fallibility.
uddhav thackeray devendra fadnavisIn fact BJP wants an alliance not only for this election to Legislative Council but also for next Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Shiv Sena leadership has not only neglected those overtures, but discarded them out rightly. However, the changing dynamics of Maharashtra politics may force the party to have rethink of its steadfast and adamant stand.
The Congress and NCP that fought alone in last assembly election, against each other and against BJP as well as Shiv Sena also, are now coming closer. They have given enough signals that they may jump in the arena next time as one entity even at the national level. Congress leadership in the form of Rahul Gandhi and NCP (Sharad Pawar) have held meetings and deliberated on possible alliance. Since BJP has acquired many incomers from these parties. it may face no problem in facing the onslaught of combined strength of these parties. Moreover, it also has cadre that is already buoyed by successive victories of BJP in all levels of election. Shiv Sena can’t claim this type of comfort.
Moreover, CM Fadnavis has very shrewdly given prominence to MNS leader Raj Thackeray who is seen reviving his party’s lost fortune. By attacking Narendra Modi and Fadnavis as well, Raj Thackeray has tried to occupy opposition space that has been laying vacant due to the lackluster performance by Congress and NCP as opposition parties. Shiv Sena tried to play double game by being in power and at the same time being an opposition party. However, this plan did not work out very well. this was clear by its underperformance in elections after elections. So much so that it was humiliated in its own citadel Mumbai during the municipal election.
Shiv Sena’s strategy seems to rely on capitalizing on anti-incumbency factor and the anger over betrayal (by BJP). However, this anti-incumbency thing is a very dicey preposition – except for media and politically enthused social media circles, this factor has not been especially evident anywhere in the state. Again, this factor will benefit, if at all, to Congress NCP and not Shiv Sena because it was an equal partner in whatever the present government did or did not.
In such a scenario, Shiv Sena’s muscle flexing may actually backfire on it. The move may alienate it’s sympathizers and may erode of its voter base. For a solid display and exhibition of political strength, it may be a right move but for a long term gain and goodwill it may prove counterproductive.

Congress Should Learn to Accept Defeat

Congress as a party has an unparalleled stature and influence on the nation’s politics. It has the largest presence and influence in the every nook and corner of the country.  This influence and presence has receded to unprecedented level; that is a fact. However,  the fact remains that it has a potential to spring back to an honorable position, an appreciable position – even if does not match its glorious days.

On this backdrop, its humiliating theatrics become all the more pitiable. It points to its defeatist mentality showing  that it has lost willingness to fight its political battles in the political or electoral arenas and instead choosing to take shortcuts of maligning constitutional institutions. The slugfest that it has indulged itself  against the Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra is a grim example of how low it has fallen.

Vice President of India and Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu today rejected the notice given by opposition parties for impeachment of CJI Mishra citing lack of substantial. Seven opposition parties led had last week moved a notice before him for impeachment of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) on five grounds of “misbehaviour”.  And Congress is leading this pack of the opposition parties. The impeachment notice came a day after the Supreme Court rejected a bunch of petitions seeking an independent probe into the death of Judge B. H. Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.

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Naidu held extensive consultations with top legal and constitutional experts before taking the decision. The rejection of the notice comes a day after he held the consultations with experts to determine the maintainability of the motion. The opposition had submitted signatures of 71 lawmakers from seven parties on Friday. However, seven MPs of these signatories were found to be already retired. “The opposition notice had signatures of 71 lawmakers from seven parties. Seven of the lawmakers have retired since, but the number of signatures was well above the mandatory 50,” the Congress said in a press conference.

Naidu spoke to former Lok Sabha Secretary General, Subhash Kashyap, former Law Secretary PK Malhotra, former Legislative Secretary Sanjay Singh and senior officials of Rajya Sabha Secretariat over the issue.

“This act of members (opposition) of discussing the conduct of the CJI in the press is against propriety and parliamentary decorum as it denigrates the institution of CJI,” Naidu said in a statement . According to the constitution, Chief Justice Of India can be impeached only on grounds of proved misbehavior or incapacity. The opposition has backed its demand on five grounds, which, the Congress said, equals misbehavior.

All legal Experts have slammed the move. Former SC judge Sudarshan Reddy has termed this as a suicide move while former Solicitor General Soli Sorabjee has called it an unfortunate move. So the question is why Congress was Adamant on making this self goal?

The matter will not end here. With its eyes fixed on general elections in 2019 and an apparent atmosphere of discontent against BJP, Congress wants to harvest maximum yield from this entire episode and it is cultivating discontent and disbelief for the same reason. This is the first time ever that an impeachment notice has been filed against a sitting CJI. Therefore, it must understand the grave implications of its moves. That it did not shows its desperation.

The time has come for Congress to come to terms with defeat and prepare itself to fight with a determined spirit. It ran a brilliant campaign during Gujarat elections that gave it some mileage and breathers, but thereafter it is yet again on the Rahul Gandhian path, making one after another blunders. One doesn’t know but perhaps this has something to do with busting of Cambridge Analytica scandal. Whatever it may be, it has to learn the tricks of the rope that originally had brought to the board during its long regime. But for that, it has to go for a change in leadership, shedding the yoke of dynasty and that an anathema for it.

So all in all, the only remedy for it right now is to accept defeat.

Beyond Lingayat Hype, Something Else May Haunt Siddaramaiah

Even as political pundits are engaged in heated debate over what the possible impact of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s decision to accord separate status of religion to Lingayats in Karnataka would be, there is something else that may haunt him in the long run. And that is large number of farmer’s suicide in the state. Karnataka, one of the most naturally abundant states in India, is facing a severe crisis of droughts and weak agriculture. According to state’s own statistics department, as many as 3,515 farmers in Karnataka have committed suicide between April 2013 and November 2017. Of these, 2,525 suicides were due to drought and farm failure, as per the state agriculture department said.

According to a PTI report in December 2017, 3,515 farmers were reported to have committed suicide from April 2013 to November 2017; from April 2008 to April 2012, as many as 1,125 farmers were reported to have committed suicide.Out of the 3,515 suicide cases reported, the agriculture department accepted 2,525 cases as being due to drought and crop failure, the data said.

Agriculture Director B.Y. Srinivas told mediapersons that as many as 112 suicide cases were pending for the want of ratification by a state government panel since 2013. The highest number of suicides (1,483) were reported during 2015-16 and lowest (106) during 2013-14, Srinivas said. “Sugarcane growers top the list of suicides, followed by cotton and paddy cultivators,” and

“As many as 1,332 cases have been registered against money lenders, of which 585 have been arrested in last three years,” were the statements attributed to him.

The farmers who committed suicides included the cultivators of coconut, paddy, areca nut, cash crops and various others. It is just behind Maharashtra in terms of farmers in distress. The signs of this distress are evident even now through the numerous marches that have been taken out in various parts of the state during last few years. The Maharashtra is still in rough weather on resolving the agrarian crisis that has engulfed the state and dented the state’s image in a big way.

It is a common knowledge that the Siddaramaiah government has failed to address the farmers’ plight effectively. So obviously enough, the government is pushed to the corner over the issue. And hence, Siddaramaiah finds it necessary to conjure up issues that have more sentimental appeal than the practical one. Thus, imposition of Hindi and separate flag becomes more pertinent issue than the rising number of farmers’ suicides. Separate Lingayat religion becomes more important than the environmental degradation in cities like Bangalore.

The state government has faced flak for its utter failure in resolving many issues. Moreover, the pulbic opinion is largely becoming hostile to the government due to its failure in arresting the criminialisation of politics. And just ahead of the assembly elections, it has tried to divide Lingayats and Veerashaivas, also Lingayats and other communities, by announcing minority status for them. All this manuevering may bring headlines and mileage to the Congress, but it cannot ensure victory in the electoral fray.

No, Liberals Won’t Get Mersal Share of Pie

The Vijay-starrer Mersal is making well deserved waves at the box office and captivating the audiences. That would only enlighten his fans. However, this time his flick has hit headlines for wrong reasons and unfortunately, pitted against an uncalled for foe – Narendra Modi.

Twitter, ironically enough the social media partner of Mersal, is abuzz with trends of #MersalVsModi. All this because of an innocuous reference to Goods & Services Tax (GST). The non-existent BJP cadres took offence to the reference and demanded its purging. That raised alarm in the liberal camp, ever on the prowl for any Modi-bashing opportunity, raising calls of fascism and censorship.

Senior actors Kamal Haasan became the latest to join the bandwagon for supporting the movie against an imagined onslaught on the freedom of expression. “Counter criticism with logical response. Don’t silence critics. India will shine when it speaks,” he said on – you guess it – Twitter. The micro-blogging site is his favorite bunker for taking shots on his yet-undefined opponents and charting out yet-undefined plans for Tamil Nadu.

After watching Mersal in one of the theatres in Pune, I found the reference to GST largely inoffensive. And blaming actor Vijay for the same will be simply childish. The actor, while mouthing those dialogues, has not opposed GST nor commented on its inefficacy. He has simply compared the GST rates in Singapore and India and the medical services available in both countries. If there are discrepancies in the lines, and they are, the BJP Tamil Nadu has every right to point out.

After all, like director Atlee’s Theri and Bhairava, Mersal is heavily loaded with social message. This time around, the movie comments on lackluster condition of, or simple lack of, medical infrastructure in India as also rampant malpractices in the profession. Thus, keep aside the Vijay fans and looking through the prism of common audience, especially women, they will take an inaccurate message home and BJP is justified in developing concerns for the same. Neither the rate of GST in Singapore is as quoted in movie nor is medical treatment is free in that country.

Here comes another irony. The Tamil Nadu is ruled by AIADMK and Vijay had campaigned extensively for Jayalalithaa. Therefore, the state has a friendly dispensation for him and yet the actor is seen commenting on its poor performance.

Now, coming to support lent by opposition parties to Mersal, it is useless. And to beat up anti-Modi sentiments over it may actually jeopardise their chances. The movie out and out speaks of Tamil supremacy (Tamilan will rule and Tamil is mother of all language). If those details come out and reach to non-Tamil Indians, all the sympathy earned for the movie may burst in a second. Again, as pointed out above, there is hardly a word against GST in the movie. BJP has just termed dialogue “untruths” and demanded that the references be deleted. Party leader H. Raja wen overboard to claim that the movie exposed Vijay’s “anti-Modi hatred”. Even if these demands create anti-BJP sentiments, they will remain confined to Tamil Nadu, where otherwise also BJP has not much at stake since these leaders do not enjoy any stature outside the state. I wonder how many people, including Hindi TV channel anchors, can pronoune Tamilisai Sounderrajan’s name correctly and how many of them know what post she enjoys! And Modi is nowhere involved in this, not from a long shot!

Therefore, if liberals look to Mersal as another stepstone to take aim at Narendra Modi, they will fall flat on their faces. Mersal is a good movie and a must watch for appreciating the evolving movie making techniques (script, role playing and message packaging). As with Kaththi, it is another Diwali gift to relish.

And an advice for Mr. Atlee, as we watched movie the multiplex charged exorbitant rates for simple tea and coffee (because of which we skipped them). Let your concern for society address this issue in your next movie. How about that?