On 5 April, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told the state legislative assembly that his government was studying the “Uttar Pradesh model of farm loan waiver”. Fadnavis indicated his government may consider a similar sop, though in a different fashion.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister, this was a departure from his own narrative. The change in the narrative has not come from within. Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed Fadnavis, and possibly some other chief ministers too, onto this suicidal trajectory, when he announced in a campaign rally on 15 February that the BJP, if voted to power in Uttar Pradesh, would waive crop loans.
The opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra are down but they have not completely lost their reflexes for conventional politics. They quickly latched on to the Prime Minister’s promise, which the BJP soon formalised by including it in its UP manifesto, and revived their demand for loan waiver that Fadnavis had till then dismissed with ease. Ever eager to attack the BJP and Modi, the Shiv Sena joined in and Uddhav Thackeray sent in his ministers to meet Fadnavis and remind him that the BJP has been in power in the state since October 2014 and yet, no farm loan waiver had been announced.
To be sure, the BJP in Maharashtra did not promise farm loan waiver during the 2014 assembly elections. One BJP minister in Maharashtra, who did not wish to be identified, said that the Maharashtra government was unnecessarily being asked to honour a promise made by the UP BJP.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who is facing a tough time in his political career due to the back to back defeats across the country, is once again making the headlines. This time Rahul has been into the limelight for a completely unique reason. Vishal Diwan, who is an engineering student from Hoshangabad Madhya Pradesh has approached to the Guinness Book of World Records and requested to enlist Rahul Gandhi’s name for losing as many as 27 elections in the country.
Diwan believes that the fact that Congress party has lost 27 elections in the span of 5 years is somewhere a result of Rahul Gandhi’s active participation in election campaigning and media interactions. As a matter of fact, this number consistent losses are more than enough to get qualified for the record book. In order to fulfill his wish, Diwan has written a letter to the administration of Guinness Books and have also paid the enrollment fees for the same. Diwan has received the confirmation of acceptance of his application, but the US-based record book have not confirmed whether it will approve such request or not.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, which are fighting in Parliament over the right way to tackle black money, need to start at home. These two national parties accounted for a lion’s share of the thousands of crores of unaccounted money received by the political world over the past 10 years.
An analysis of the income-tax returns data for the past 10 years provided by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) showed that between 2005 and 2015, these two parties collected a total of Rs 5,450 crore from ‘unknown sources’.
The Congress leads the list of six national parties with Rs 3,323 crore or 83 per cent of its total income from these anonymous benefactors during this period. For the BJP, the figure was lower at Rs 2,125 crore or 65 per cent.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), whose leader Sitaram Yechury made a spirited speech in Parliament on the black money issue and demonetisation on Wednesday, came next with Rs 471 crore from such unknown sources. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) earned Rs 448 crore and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party got Rs 243 crore on these accounts.
The contribution statements, submitted by the political parties declaring the names and other details of donors who contribute above Rs 20,000, are the only known source.
In a veiled dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over India’s moves against Pakistan after the Uri attack, key BJP ally Shiv Sena on Monday said the neighbouring country’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif is now showing off a “56-inch chest”.
The Sena also said it feared that India had actually been isolated in the world with its efforts yielding little result other than mere “lip service” by global leaders. “All of India’s efforts to forge global relations have proved futile as no country actually backed India over the Uri attacks. Global leaders did mere lip service of condemning the terror attacks but the BJP’s social media cell took some other meaning out of it and went boasting how Pakistan has been isolated over the issue,” an editorial in Sena mouthpieceSaamana said.
n the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign, Modi had famously claimed at a poll rally in Uttar Pradesh that a “56 inch chest” can solve problems faced by the country. The Sena noted that neither Russia did stop its joint military drill with Pakistan nor China condemned the terror attacks. Even Indonesia is offering Pakistan defence equipment and Islamic organisations are openly backing Pakistan while Nepal too wants to maintain good relations with it, the Sena said.
Most Indians disapprove of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of India’s relations with Pakistan, while a vast majority believes the use of overwhelming military force is the best way to defeat terrorism, says a survey by US-based Pew Research Center. The survey, conducted among 2,464 respondents in India from April 7 to May 24 – nearly four months before the Uri attack but three months after the PM’s Lahore visit in end-December and the terror attack in Pathankot in January. The survey findings show Modi continues to be a popular leader. There is also a favourable view of his handling of most domestic issues. Majority of Indians are satisfied with the economic growth and hopeful of a bright future. But the gap between Modi and the Gandhis is shrinking. More people approve of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, as also the Congress party, now than they did a year ago. Indians cite crime as the biggest problem (82%), followed by lack of job opportunities (81%), corrupt officials (80%) and terrorism (78%). Indians identify climate change and threat by ISIS as the major international problems. A snapshot of the survey:
Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla and G M Siddeswara, Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, have been dropped from the Union council of ministers. Heptulla is the first Cabinet minister to have been dropped in the two-year term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led council of ministers.
A statement from the President said Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Heptulla’s junior at the minority affairs ministry, would now have independent charge of the ministry. Babul Supriyo, a minister of state, has been shifted from the ministry of urban development to heavy industries and public enterprises.
Heptulla, an aspirant for the post of the Vice President of India, could get a gubernatorial assignment. Governors to a few states are likely to be announced later this week. Vice Presidential elections are due for August 2017. Heptulla’s Rajya Sabha term ends in April 2018, which she would need to quit if she were to take up any gubernatorial role. “I am extremely thankful to the PM for giving me the honour to be in his Cabinet and I tried best to fulfil his expectations towards Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas,” Heptulla tweeted.
After three decades in the Congress, Heptulla, who holds a PhD in cardiac anatomy, had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2004 is a known L K Advani acolyte. “I will always be available for any responsibility given to me in future. I have resigned from my post due to personal reasons,” said Heptulla.
The National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has decided to get rid of the Nehruvian five-year plans, and replace them with 15-year vision documents.
These will be framed keeping in mind the country’s social goals and the sustainable development agenda. According to a senior official, the issue was discussed at length and a decision was taken at the highest level.
The NITI Aayog has been directed to prepare a vision document at the earliest.
The current 12th Five-Year Plan will be terminated in the current financial year, 2016-17.
The first 15-year vision document will start from 2017-18, along with a seven-year National Development Agenda which will lay down the schemes, programmes and strategies to achieve the long-term vision.
Since the Narendra Modi government took over, there has been speculation over the fate of the planning process, more so after the Planning Commission was replaced with the NITI Aayog.
The mid-term appraisal of the 12th Plan was also not done, though it was due after the completion of two-and-a- half years.
The more one thinks about it, the more one is inclined to compare Narendra Modi with Indira Gandhi. The original Mrs G was the last Indian prime minister to create an emotional bond with the public. The crowds at her memorial are far greater than at the Nehru Museum, situated at the other end of Teen Murti Marg. Irrespective of the long-term damage she did to the economy, and however much she fostered corruption, the poor thought she stood for and by them. Narendra Modi is the first prime minister after Mrs G to have created a comparable bond. Whatever happens in the future, he will always remain the “hriday samraat” for a lot of Hindus who consider him the first Indian prime minister who is truly their own.
As with Mrs G, the more his critics sound off about him, the stronger will be the bond between Mr Modi and his public. It happened in Gujarat, and it may be happening now across much of the country north of the Vindhyas. For Mr Modi stands tall in a way that no one has since Mrs G. Like her, he can and does reach out directly to voters, without the need for party intermediaries. His party needs him more than he needs it — imagine the BJP’s Bihar campaign without Mr Modi.
When Mrs G came to power, she was broadly acceptable to most people. In about three years, though, she had alienated much of the English language press, and a good part of the chattering classes (as they later came to be called). Something not entirely dissimilar has now happened with Mr Modi. Even those who were willing to give him the chance of a fresh start as prime minister have decided that Mr Modi is in fact the same as of old. He mostly ignores them and what they say, just as Mrs G did. Like her, if he responds at all, it is at mass rallies. Like her, he has no regard for the media.
Ahead of the 40th anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency on June 25, senior BJP leader L K Advani, who was on thefront lines of the fight against it and was jailed for 19 months, remembers it as the crime that has not yet been confessed to. He talks to Vandita Mishraon what went wrong, who was to blame, and whether it can happen again.
Do you think that 40 years later, India has come to terms with the Emergency, looked it in the face — in popular culture, for instance? In one of my blogs, I had written that it is surprising that filmmakers have not been provoked by the Emergency. Someone could take the rudiments of history and make up the rest — even that has not been done. There was Gulzar’s Aandhi, which did not have much of the Emergency in it, and yet it was banned. No one has attempted to go back to that time and set a story, even one that is entirely fictional, in it.
It is almost as if the Emergency has not been touched in popular culture — unlike the Partition, on which there are several films.
Why is the Emergency more difficult to confront than Partition? Because of the guilt. The Partition was British guilt. The Emergency is ours.
I have not seen British rule but from what I know, from books like The Case for India by American historian and philosopher Will Durant, who was so bitter against the British for what they did in India, I can say that in so far as the ruthless assault on our liberties is concerned, there was nothing comparable in those days to the Emergency.
It was the guilt which made the chief justice of Karnataka ask on that day in June 1975, what kind of a case has come before me, the person who has signed the warrant against (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee, Advani, (Madhu) Dandavate does not appear to have even seen the case.
My son was about four when he learnt his grandmother’s name was Indira. “Same as Indira Gandhi?” he asked, eyes shining with the excitement of discovery. “Let’s buy her a ticket and she’ll go whizzing round the world!” Narendra Modi doesn’t only live up to that innocent fantasy of what the prime ministership is all about. He seems to hark back to the earlier precedent of Jawaharlal Nehru justifying his appropriation of external affairs in the interim government by claiming that foreign policy defines a nation while everything else is local government.
Nehru’s illusion was understandable. He had no experience of running an administration when the interim government was formed in 1946. Politics was either mesmerizing the masses for which his mere presence sufficed or lobbying world leaders and global institutions at the highest level. Given the vision that made him a better writer and philosopher than administrator, Nehru was eminently suited for the international role in which he rejoiced. One might even say with the benefit of hindsight that Vallabhbhai Patel would probably have handled India’s problems more expeditiously. As it was, many of Nehru’s ambitious plans foundered on the rock of funding which was Liaquat Ali Khan’s domain in the interim government.
Modi is no Nehru. But it isn’t too difficult to see him as a latter-day Patel. He didn’t come to the job as a visionary statesman; he had already proved himself in his home state as a hands-on doer who could motivate businessmen and civil servants and draw up and execute schemes to irrigate fields, electrify villages and set up factories. Supporters were confident he would lose no time in projecting that experience on the national screen and demonstrate that what is good for Gujarat is good for India. Instead, he has spent his first 12 months like a wide-eyed child let loose in the glittering toyshop of the capitals of the world. Eighteen countries in a year must be a record even for the rulers of banana republics desperate to make hay before a coup snuffs out the sun.