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.
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:
The Congress party is facing its worst-ever financial crisis since Independence. “Within eight months, we will be in debt,” said a senior party leader, requesting anonymity.
The funds crunch has affected the party’s ability to campaign during elections. For instance, a rally by Sonia Gandhi, planned towards the end of December as a build-up to the Delhi elections, had to be cancelled.
“The estimated cost of such a rally is ₹1 crore. But, we could not even think of it. We were way behind the BJP and the AAP in outside advertisements, too, due to this funds crunch,” said a Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee leader.
The AICC also could not provide any major financial assistance to its candidates in the five Assembly elections after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Running on overdraft
According to several key functionaries in the party , the All India Congress Committee (AICC) is currently functioning with an overdraft from various banks. The party high command fears that unless it changes its fund mobilisation method, it will be difficult to sustain itself.
Robert Vadra loves to push the limits. And in Haryana, the Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law did it with nonchalance when the party was in power in the state and at the Centre.
Over the years, he has accumulated land across districts, in complete disregard to the Haryana Ceiling on Land Holdings Act 1972, and kept them under wraps. His insatiable desire to own land – in his name or in the name of companies owned by him or in the name of his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra – translated to 146.755 acres across Gurgaon, Faridabad, Mewat and Palwal districts of Haryana. It’s a way beyond the prescribed limits; under the Act, the total physical holding of a person or family cannot exceed 21.9 hectares and 53.8 acres.
Mail Today has accessed documents in which it has been alleged that Vadra, even after selling 82.2 acres of land between 2010 and 2012, breached the land limits, and did not declare it in his affidavit before the ‘prescribed authority’ as required by the Act. By hiding his surplus land holdings, Vadra was liable to be penalised which could lead to imprisonment of up to two years under section 21 of the Act.
In the first weeks of 1967, the New Delhi correspondent of The Times wrote a series on “India’s Disintegrating Democracy”. “Universally believed to be corrupt”, the “government and the governing party have lost public confidence and belief in themselves as well”, he remarked. But he also thought that, among Indians, there was “emotional readiness for the rejection of parliamentary democracy”. They were due to vote in what the Times man saw as “the fourth – and surely last – general election”.
Next May, the country goes to the polls for its 16th general election. In power, since 2004, is a coalition led by the centrist Congress party, with Manmohan Singh serving as prime minister. From the outset, Mr Singh subordinated himself to Sonia Gandhi, the party president, who led the election campaign but declined the office of prime minister. It was Mrs Gandhi who chose the cabinet ministers, and determined the government’s core priorities. Populist handouts and subsidies have been favoured, rather than the building of infrastructure or the renewal of public institutions.
While Mr Singh’s weakness was manifest in his first term, it has been magnified since the alliance’s re-election in 2009. A series of corruption scandals has rocked the government. The prime minister’s office has colluded in sweetheart deals with favoured companies. Despite strictures passed by the Supreme Court and the government’s own auditor-general, Mr Singh failed to take action against officials charged with misconduct.
As Mr Singh allows his authority to be flouted, a strongman named Narendra Modi has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed him after the next elections. Mr Modi started out as an activist in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a cultural organisation that believes in the construction of a Hindu theocratic state. The RSS is deeply suspicious of Muslims and Christians, seeing them as a contaminating foreign influence on Indian soil. Read More
Election outcomes are tough to predict, especially in a politically turbulent environment. Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are walking a tightrope, and neither is likely to win convincingly in next year’s general elections. India’s next government is likely to be weak, made up of regional parties, each with its own agenda and incapable of pursuing essential bold reforms.
The fact that growth did not deteriorate during the tumultuous coalition rule between 1997 and 2000 offers some solace; but with the macro outlook fragile, we would stick with quality cyclicals and stocks with earnings visibility. The mood among voters suggests that the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party, will lose next year’s general election and the BJP will emerge as the single largest party. To rule, a party needs the support of 272 out of the 543 members of parliament. The BJP would need to secure 200-plus seats of its own to form a strong and stable government capable of pursuing policy reforms. That’s a tall order at this stage of the game. The Congress Party would find it easier to form a coalition, but short of 150 seats it would not have the mandate to form a government, even with coalition partners. Read More
ET has, in recent days, castigated the BJP for disrupting Parliament. Your call to BJP is to allow Parliament to function, debate issues and, if we are still dissatisfied, bring a no-confidence motion against the government.
Your admonition is entirely in order except for the fact that it is terribly one-sided. You will agree that there are more parties than one involved in the smooth functioning of Parliament.
I can recount those numerous occasions on which we in the BJP have remained quiet and glued to our seats but other parties have disrupted the functioning of Parliament. On those occasions too, the BJP has been blamed directly or indirectly with the entire Opposition. What is worse is that even when the rulingparty members have disrupted the proceedings, the blame has fallen on the BJP. Read More
The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered power cuts in Rae Bareli and Amethi, the new outage roster reflecting the change in political equations between the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Congress.
The parliamentary seats of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had been declared no-power-cut zones last August, when relations between the two parties were cordial.
Although the heartland outfit still backs the UPA from outside, its ties with the Congress have hit a low since the recent rancorous duel between Mulayam Singh Yadav and Union minister Beni Prasad Verma, a former associate of the Samajwadi boss.
Senior officials of the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) confirmed the new power-cut roster had been enforced since last night in Rae Bareli and Amethi. Read More
This is the second, and final, part of an evaluation of 15 years of Sonia Gandhi’s leadership of the Congress party. The first part appeared last week (‘Evaluating Sonia, the black box leader’, IE, March 23) and dealt with the political aspects — this article deals with her economic leadership.
As we all know, an economic disaster has struck India for the last three years. A halving of GDP growth, a doubling of inflation rates, a 20 per cent depreciation of the rupee, and record current account deficits (latest, 6.7 per cent of GDP) are reflective of the deep rot the Indian economy is in.
The economy numbers are exceptionally bad and worse than most other countries. What, or who, is responsible for making the impossible possible? For sure, it is the Congress-led UPA government. But who within the Congress party? On economic issues, most fingers will point towards the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, an economist of international repute, and joint father of the economic reforms introduced under the leadership of non-Nehru-Gandhi Congressman Narasimha Rao in 1991. But this would be wrong.
For too long we have been made to believe that, within the UPA, the political decisions were made by Sonia and the economic decisions by Singh. This was the UPA’s contribution to an “Indian” model of governance! Thankfully, and at long last, a major Congress leader, Digvijaya Singh, has exposed this myth. In a recent interview, he stated, “Personally, I feel this model hasn’t worked very well. Because, I personally feel there should not be two power centres and I think whoever is the PM must have the authority to function.” So we needn’t indulge in shadowboxing any more — Sonia’s own senior party officials (Digvijaya is also a mentor to Sonia’s son, Rahul Gandhi) admit that all decisions, political and economic, have Sonia Gandhi’s authoritative (authoritarian?) stamp. Read More
Amid demands for scrapping of UPA’s ambitious MNREGA, leading economist-activist Jean Dreze has asked the government to bring “some accountability” in the “very fragile” programme which was touted as a vote-catching programme.
Dreze, a former member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council which formulated the scheme, also warned that it will be “even more difficult up from here” if the government does not take immediate steps.
“One needs to look at the MNREGA, Food Security, health and education in totality…People are protesting about corruption in MNREGA but I think there always have been reluctance on part of the the government,” he added.
“And, unless they don’t restore accountability and respond to the demands with actions, I see more difficulties from up here. And, what is strange is that the measures are all prescribed in the system but has not been used by the government,” Dreze told PTI. Read More