CAN A TAINTED MUKUL ROY HELP BJP AGAINST AN INVINCIBLE MAMATA BANERJEE IN WEST BENGAL?

The article originally appeared on India Today.

All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)’s founder member and once West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s right hand Mukul Roy has joined BJP but can a tainted leader help the party in a state, where, despite its consistent efforts, it has not been able to make much inroads, especially when Mamata Banerjee has been able to cultivate an image of an honest politician and is looking invincible at the moment.

CBI INVESTIGATION AGAINST MUKUL ROY

CBI is investigating the fallout of a sting operation conducted by Narada News which showed many AITC leaders accepting bribes on camera. The sting was released just before the 2016 West Bengal assembly election.

CBI earlier this year took over the case after the Calcutta High Court order on March 17 and filed FIR on April 17 where it named 13 persons including AITC ministers and MPs Mukul Roy, Madan Mitra, Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmed and Kakoli Ghosh for criminal conspiracy and corruption. Other Trinamool leaders named in the FIR are Subhendu Adhikari, Iqbal Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee, Subhendu Adhikari, Sovan chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee and Syed Hussain Meerza.

CBI filed cases under IPC Section 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) and under Sections 7 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) which deal with corruption and criminal misconduct of public servants.

ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE INVESTIGATION

Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also investigating the Narada case. After CBI filed FIR in the case, ED also registered a case under Section 4 of the Prevention of the Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED has already interrogated Kakoli Ghosh, Saugata Roy, Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Sovan Chatterjee and has reportedly summoned Mukul Roy.

Incidentally, CBI also interrogated Mukul Roy in another Ponzi scam, the Saradha case, in January 2015 after which he was sidelined in the party.

MAMATA LOOKS INVINCIBLE IN WEST BEGAL

Though troubled by Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley, another chit-fund scam which saw AITC MP Sudip Bandopadhyay arrested, Mamata’s electoral victories say the aftermath of the scams has not dented her image. Her popularity, in fact, has grown if we go by the election results.

The Saradha scam was unearthed in 2013, the Rose Valley case made headlines in 2014-15 and the Narada sting was aired in 2016, just before the state assembly election and yet Mamata’s party went on to better her tally, winning 211 seats in the 294-member strong West bengal assembly with a vote share of 45 per cent. The 2016 landslide came after yet another brilliant electoral show by the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha election where it had won 34 of 42 seats in the state with a vote share of 39.40 per cent.

These were impressive gains over Mamata’s maiden victory in the state in 2011, especially in the aftermath of major scams that saw many leaders of her party implicated and some even jailed. AITC had won 184 seats with a 39 per cent vote share in the 2011 assembly election ending over three decades of the Left Front rule in the state.

On the contrary, BJP could win just three seats in the last assembly polls while the party had failed to open its account in 2011. Though it had stunned everyone by cornering a 17 per cent vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, from just 4 per cent in 2011 assembly election and 6 per cent in 2009 Lok Sabha election, it came down to 10 per cent in 2016. Also, we need to take this into account that in spite of the Narendra Modi wave, BJP was able to win just two Lok Sabha seats from the state.

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WITH BIHAR AGAIN IN ITS FOLD, BJP IS NOW RULING OVER 73 PER CENT OF INDIA

India has 29 states and seven Union territories. Polls are held in these 29 states and two of the Union Territories, i.e., Delhi and Puducherry.

With Bihar again in its fold, the other states where the BJP and its allies have their governments now are – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh (NDA partner TDP), Jammu & Kashmir (NDA partner PDP), Nagaland (NDA partner NPF) and Sikkim (NDA partner SDF). The party is number two in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi.

The BJP and its allies were already ruling around 70% of India’s geographical area with 53% of its population before the dramatic Bihar development. After an NDA government in Bihar, the area under the BJP’s influence has gone up 73 per cent with 62 per cent Indians residing here.

The BJP and its allies are now the ruling party/coalition in 18 Indian states while the Congress, that has ruled India for almost 55 years in its 70 years of independent, sovereign history, has shrunk to just five states and one union territory with Karnataka and Punjab as the only electorally significant states in its fold.

In terms of geographical spread, the Congress has shrunk to just 13% of Indian territory with only 11% of the country’s population residing in areas ruled by it.

The BJP along with its allies is now in all corners of the country with its state governments, in north India, in central India, in south India, in West India, in east India and in north-east India, the footprint the Congress enjoyed earlier while the Congress has reduced to only few pockets.

Other big states barring Karnataka and Punjab are all with the regional parties who have chosen not to ally with the Congress – Tamil Nadu (AIADMK), Telangana (TRS), West Bengal (AITC), Odisha (BJD) and Kerala (Left Front). In fact, the governments of Tamil Nadu and Telangana have shown clean NDA tilt on multiple occasions.

Also, elections in Karnataka are due early next year and its prospects don’t look good and there are very real chances that the huge anti-incumbency against the Congress led government will allow the BJP to easily win the state. The other states in the Congress fold are all smaller states, i.e., Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and union territory Puducherry.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY BJP-SHIV SENA’S UNEASY ALLIANCE IS NOW JUST AN ADJUSTMENT

The article originally appeared on India Today.

They were fellows for decades. They had similar ideological planks of nationalism and Hindutva to unite them. But the growing bickering saw them breaking their 25-year old alliance in September 2014, a month before the Maharashtra assembly polls in October 2014. Elections made BJP the single largest party in Maharashtra and thus Shiv Sena’s senior partner, a first in state politics. Shiv Sena happened to be BJP’s big brother in state politics before it.

Though Shiv Sena came back to the alliance fold again, developments since then clearly tell us that it has always been an uneasy alliance with the party, its leaders and cadre taking on both, the Devendra Fadnavis government and the BJP led central government. Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana regularly comes up with editorials slamming the BJP. Threatening to break alliance even on slightest of pretext has become a routine. Both allies fought the recently held Mumbai civic polls (BMC) separately, where again, they were ruling partners for many years.

How strained the relation between the allies has become can be gauged from words of Manohar Joshi, former Maharashtra CM and veteran Shiv Sena leader. In an interview published today, Joshi said that Shiv Sena was no longer in an alliance with the BJP. Rather, it was just an adjustment. And if we scan through the developments of even just last two months, we can see the contradictions of BJP-Sena alliance getting deeper with Sena slamming the BJP on almost every other issue.

AMARNATH YATRA ATTACK

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray slammed the BJP led central government for terror attack on a bus of Amarnath Yarta pilgrims that left seven killled and in a satirical comment said that the so-called Gau Rakshaks (or cow vigilantes) should be sent there to fight terrorists.

AIR INDIA DISINVESTMENT

Drawing a Kashmir parallel, Shiv Sena criticised the decision saying tomorrow the government may proceed to sell Kashmir citing the huge security cost involved. Shiv Sena termed Air India, national carrier, India’s icon and pride.

FARMERS’ PROTESTS AND FARM LOAN WAIVER

Shiv Sena has supported farm protests demanding total farm loan waiver. When the Fadnavis government announced last month its farm loan waiver scheme, Shiv Sena took credit saying the pressure put by it worked but at the same time ratcheted up its attack demanding a total waiver.

The Rs. 34000 crore farm waiver announced by the Fadnavis government is aimed at the most needy small and marginal farmers with loan amount up to Rs. 1.5 lakh. The debt waiver covers 40 lakh farmers completely but other 49 lakh farmers who have higher debt have been left out of its ambit beyond the cap of Rs. 1.5 lakh.

But Uddhav Thackeray has been demanding a blanket farm loan waiver without any condition and has vowed to raise the issue till every farmer become debt free and as recently as July 10, Shiv Sena organized protests in Maharashtra districts to reiterate its demand for the blanket waiver.

KASHMIR UNREST

Shiv Sena has blamed the Centre and the BJP-PDP alliance government in Jammu & Kashmir for letting the situation spiral out of control and has demanded imposition of President Rule. Blaming J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti for making reckless statements while the state is burning, Shiv Sena says it is sad the BJP still backs her.

DEVENDRA FANDAVIS’ ASSERTION ON MID-TERM POLLS

First it was Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. Then it was BJP President Amit Shah. Last month, they both issued a veiled warning to Shiv Sena saying that the BJP was prepared for mid-term polls if the same was ‘imposed upon them’.

Shiv Sena hit back saying BJP might care for mid-term polls, Shiv Sena’s priorities of the moment were issues like Kashmir and Darjeeling.

©SantoshChaubey

BJP’S 70% VS CONGRESS’ 11%

Even if we go by the Congress’ claim that it won three states, Punjab, Goa and Manipur, in the recently concluded assembly polls, it still adds nothing significant to the spread of its influence – geographically as well as in terms of the human headcount. The Congress party has effectively lost the electoral space to act as a national alternative to the BJP.

Assembly elections were held in five states, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur these results of which were announced on March 11. The BJP had swept Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand while its alliance with the SAD had seen a crushing defeat in Punjab where it was in the ruling coalition since 2007. The Congress had emerged as the largest party in Goa and Manipur but the BJP stitched the numbers fast to form coalition governments in both of these states.

The BJP and its allies were already ruling over 60% of India’s geographical area with 43% of its population before the March 11 verdict, and the sweep this time has taken it to around 70% of the landmass and 58% of the population.

With Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur in BJP’s stable, the BJP and its allies are now the ruling party/coalition in 17 Indian states while the Congress, that has ruled India for almost 55 years in its 70 years of independent, sovereign history, has shrunk to just six states with Karnataka and Punjab as the only electorally significant states in its fold. The party has ruling presence in another big state – in Bihar – but it is the junior-most alliance partner in the ruling coalition there.

In terms of geographical spread, the Congress has shrunk to just 13% of Indian territory with only 11% of the country’s population residing in areas ruled by it. Even if, for a moment, we consider that the BJP fails to prove majority in Goa and Manipur and the Congress finally forms the governments, it cannot help the Congress much, apart from giving consolation, as Goa and Manipur represent only 0.8% of India’s area and 0.34% of its population.

The BJP along with its allies, is now in all corners of the country with its 17 state governments, in north India, in central India, in south India, in West India, in east India and in north-east India, the footprint the Congress enjoyed earlier while the Congress has reduced to only few pockets.

India has 29 states and seven Union territories. Polls are held in these 29 states and two of the Union Territories, i.e., Delhi and Puducherry. The states where the BJP and its allies have their governments now are – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh (NDA partner TDP), Jammu & Kashmir (NDA partner PDP), Nagaland (NDA partner NPF) and Sikkim (NDA partner SDF). The party is number two in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. The BJP is also number 2 in Bihar if we see it as the grand alliance of JDU, RJD and Congress Vs the BJP.

Other big states barring Karnataka and Punjab, are all with the regional parties who have chosen not to ally with the Congress – Tamil Nadu (AIADMK), Telangana (TRS), West Bengal (AITC), Odisha (BJD) and Kerala (Left Front).

The Congress has ruling presence in only two electorally significant states, Karnataka and Punjab. But in Karnataka where elections are due early next year, its prospects don’t look good and there are very real chances that the huge anti-incumbency against the Congress led government will allow the BJP to easily win the state. The other parties in the Congress fold are all smaller states, i.e., Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Puducherry.

©SantoshChaubey

FINAL WORD IS OUT: BJP IS SHIV SENA’S BIG BROTHER IN MAHARASHTRA POLITICS

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

First the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, then the 2014 Maharashtra assembly polls and now the Maharashtra civic polls, they are point to this – that the ‘who is the big brother in Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharastra’ story that began with the Maharashtra assembly polls in October 2014, has seen its climax in place now and we can say the BJP is going to be the ultimate big brother in a BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra, if indeed the alliance continues.

The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance has ruled India’s richest civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the last 20 years but both parties were contesting these Maharashtra civic polls separately. Their electoral rivalry saw both parties placing bitter allegations and using choices of words to paint each other in a negative light.

But in the end, the BJP has emerged as the clear winner, not only in the BMC where it is neck to neck with Shiv Sena in the final tally but in the overall tally of the Maharashtra civic polls. The BJP has won 471 seats in all 10 municipal corporations where polls were held, gaining majority in 8 out of 10. It is over two fold jump from BJP’s tally of 205 in 2012 Maharashtra civic polls.

And it is stellar in the BMC, from 31 in 2012 to 82 in 2017.

As per the information available so far as the counting is still on in some places, while Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are the biggest losers, crashing down from 529 seats in 2012 from 207 seats in 2012, Shiv Sena, too, has been given a rough treatment by the voters. The party had got 227 seats in the 2012 Maharashtra civic polls which stands at 215 now. And though it has claimed that the BJP has not gone up in the BMC at Shiv Sena’s expense, its marginal rise, from 75 seats in 2012 to 84 in 2017, is certainly not a consolation when seen in the context of the huge gains made by the BJP. Now, if the Shiv Sena has to continue with its run in the BMC, it will have to go with the BJP, who claims support of four independents, to cross the majority mark of 114 in 227 members strong BMC. And it will certainly be on BJP’s terms now.

But the Shiv Sena setback story had begun much before.

THE 2014 SCRIPT REPEATED

The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance for the Maharashtra civic polls got the same fate, in the same manner, as it had happened before the 2014 assembly polls. Based on its performance in the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in Maharashtra, the BJP was demanding 114 seats to contest out of BMC’s 227 seats and was not ready to go down below 105 seats. The Shiv Sena, citing 2012 BMC results, when the Shiv Sena had won 75 seats, contesting on 135 seats, more than double of the BJP’s score of 31 wins, refused to compromise. The BJP then had contested on 63 seats. The Shiv Sena didn’t accept the BJP’s demand and instead chose to split the alliance that was in place since 1997.

THE 2014 FIASCO

2014 saw the Shiv Sena splitting its decades old alliance with the BJP to save its ‘big brother’ status and then rejoining the BJP in a humiliating setback. Out of NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena, the biggest setback went to Shiv Sena. It was the biggest loser in spite of registering growth, in seats and in vote share.

For just 5 seats, the Shiv Sena lost the ‘big brother’ or senior ally tag in Maharashtra, and that too, by a huge margin. Though it was the second largest party in Maharashtra assembly, their 63 seats were nowhere near to the BJP’s 122 seats, given the fact that the BJP had been the junior partner of the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and was ready to compromise even during the last assembly polls in October 2014, agreeing to contest on lesser number of seats than the Shiv Sena in the failed seat-sharing talks. The BJP, with 15 assembly constituencies, had won more seats even in Mumbai than the Shiv Sena’s 14 seats.

The BJP had performed exceedingly well in the Lok Sabha elections cornering maximum number of Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra that sends 48 members to the parliament and therefore its demand didn’t seem misplaced. In 2014 the LS polls, the BJP had won 23 seats with 27% vote share while the Shiv Sena had 18 seats with 21% vote share. It was a considerable improvement for both. The BJP had taken up its tally from 9 LS seats and 19% vote share in 2009 to 23 seats in 2014. The Shiv Sena also did very well taking up its tally from 10 seats to 18 seats with 17% vote share in 2009.

But the Shiv Sena’s performance was not at par with its junior ally of the past, when seen in comparison with the BJP’s rising graph in the state. Even in the perceived citadel of the Shiv Sena, in Mumbai, the BJP, with 15 assembly constituencies, won more seats that the Shiv Sena’s 14 in the 2014 assembly polls. In 2009 assembly polls, the junior partner of the alliance had won two seats more (46) than the Shiv Sena’s 44 seats. And when it simply outperformed everyone in the Lok Sabha polls registering 8% increase in vote share and over 150% increase in seats, it was right to expect for more.

The BJP had a symbolic edge over the Shiv Sena with 2009 assembly election results but the 2014 LS polls outcome placed it much ahead of all others, including the Shiv Sena. The Shiv Sena had to realize it and should have appreciated when the BJP didn’t ask for sky-high price for its electoral edge. But alleging the BJP of the ‘big brother’ attitude, the Shiv Sena refused to budge and the seat-sharing talks and thus the alliance collapsed.

THE HUMILIATING RETURN

The BJP went on to form the government in Maharashtra in 2014, even if it was 23 seats short of the majority mark in the 288-member strong Maharashtra assembly. The NCP offer of unconditional outside support had taken whatever sheen the Shiv Sena was left with in a post-election scenario of the hung assembly.

In the 2014 assembly polls, the BJP won more than what the Shiv Sena was offering, 119 seats. Had it been in the alliance, even if with 5 more seats, BJP would not have been able to win so many seats. What BJP was demanding was modest. What Shiv Sena’s refusal gave it was grand. And what Shiv Sena lost was grander, costing it the ‘senior alliance partner’ position, and the leverage in the national politics.

So much so, that in order to remain relevant in Maharashtra politics, the Shiv Sena had to compromise and join the Devendra Fadnavis government in December 2014. But the political flow since then shows their hearts could never meet. Even if it rejoined the alliance, the Shiv Sena always acted like a squabbling partner, always sparring in public with its pet line that ‘the BJP should not take the Shiv Sena’s support for granted’ and its ministers in the alliance government were always ready to submit their resignations. It shows the Shiv Sena could never make itself comfortable with the fact that it is now the BJP that will dictate the terms. Even today, a day that proved the meteoric rise of the BJP in Maharashtra politics, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray went on to claim that not just the next Mumbai mayor but even the next Maharashtra chief minister will be from the Shiv Sena.

©SantoshChaubey

SURGICAL STRIKE TO SURGICAL POLITICS: WAR OF WORDS

The surgical strike by India deep inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir on September 29 has not only sent Pakistan into internal political and military chaos, it has also unnerved many in India on the political lines in the season of upcoming state assembly polls including Uttar Pradesh, the most vital state in the country’s electoral politics. If the BJP wants to gain electoral and political mileage from this long-pending decision(and therefore is morally right because it has shown the political will required), the opposition is trying all to paint the BJP in a selfish and immoral hue. Their sole focus is to paint a negative image for the BJP where it can be seen belittling the Indian Army and can be seen as scavenging on pride and valour of our armed forces for political gains.

Now which way the electoral tide will turn only time will tell but the ongoing war of words is throwing many interesting, contradictory and repulsive comments.

THE BJP WOULD OBVIOUSLY GO FOR FULL CREDITS.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has taken the charge from the BJP side. And his have been honest comments, even if some may question his language. He speaks emphatically about the surgical strikes, efficiency and might of the Indian Armed Forces, what it has done to Pakistan, those in India questioning it and the row over who should get the credit. From October 1 to 12, he gradually addresses all the issue as and when the questions are raised.

October 12: “I don’t mind sharing credits, including the surgical strikes, with every countryman because it is done by our Armed Forces and not by any political party. So all Indians, including those doubting Thomases, also can share the credit. As for myself, I will only share the credit at the most… the major share goes to the Prime Minister but the issue I will at least claim the credit (for) is decision making ability and planning. So I think that should settle the nerves of many people…,” Parrikar said, adding, “I understand quite well because I’m a politician though not a politician by profession… that people’s sentiments are satisfied.”

October 6: “It was a 100% perfect surgical strike. Even when bigger nations do surgical strikes, they are not as successful. No one had doubted bravery of our forces ever, but for the first time recently some people are doubting. There are many people who are not loyal to our country and criticized Indian army, but we don’t have to give them any proof.”

“Someone said that I am straight-forward (seedha-saadha). I think the Defence Minister should not be straight when it comes to ensuring the safety of the country. “In matters of the country’s defence, I can think tedha (wily).”

“People knew the army’s prowess. But a political decision needed to be taken. That has now happened under Modiji’s leadership. The mindset of the country has changed.”

October 1: “Pakistan’s condition after the surgical strikes is like that of an anesthetized patient after a surgery who doesn’t know that the surgery has already been performed on him. Even two days after the surgical strikes, Pakistan+ has no idea what has happened.”

“Indian troops were like Hanuman who did not quite know their prowess before the surgical strikes. The surgical strikes gave our forces an idea of what they were capable of doing. Pakistan is bewildered following the strikes, not quite knowing how to react.”

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has lent him some able support as reflected by his statements – putting India’s perspectives on a solid ground – be it the ‘how and why’ of the surgical strike or our political willpower or credentials of our armed forces.

October 11: “I want to welcome Modiji here as for the first time in the history of independent India he has succeeded in holding country’s head high at international level. He has succeeded in giving message to the world that Bharat is not weak but it’s a ‘damdar’ (powerful) nation. In last few days, we have displayed our strength. We have sent out a message to the world that India is a strong country.”

October 8: “Our heritage is ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ meaning the whole world is one family. We do not intend to occupy others’ land. We never open fire first, but if attacked, in retaliation we never count the bullets after pulling the trigger.”

October 2: “The country as well as the whole world is aware of this (surgical strikes)..the way our jawans displayed valour have made India proud.”

And like an efficient team-leader, Narendra Modi caps what his ministers and party members say even if doesn’t mention Pakistan directly. He even warns them to desist from indulging in ‘chest-thumping’ over the surgical strike.

October 9: “We will celebrate Vijaya Dashami in the coming days. This year’s Vijaya Dashami is very special for the country. Being strong does not mean being against anyone. If we exercise for our strength, then the neighbour need not worry (thinking) that it is to target him. I am exercising to strengthen myself and for my health.”

CONGRESS IS IN A STATE OF UTTER CONFUSION.

The party rushed to praise the surgical strike and show solidarity with the government. Sonia Gandhi issues a statement on September 29. Rahul Gandhi reacted on September 30.

Sonia Gandhi – September 29: “This is a strong message that conveys our country’s resolve to prevent further infiltration and attacks on our security forces and our people. The party hopes that Pakistan will recognize that it bears a great responsibility in the continuing cross-border terrorist attacks against India. The Party expects that Pakistan will take effective action to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism that it has supported and it ensures that its territory and the territory under its control is not used for terrorist purposes against India.”

Rahul Gandhi – September 30: “I want to thank him (PM Modi) because for the first time in two and half years he has taken an action that is of the stature of PM. Modi has my full support; the Congress party and entire nation is standing by him.”

But it has been a downhill journey of contradictions and confusions since then. Some of its leaders like Digvijaya Singh or Sanjay Nirpuam are openly questioning the authenticity of the surgical strike, some others, including its many spokespersons, are busy asking for proofs, while some other are still not sure what to say. The common thread among them is that they all are asserting that many surgical strikes were carried out even during the Congress regime but the party never went to take credit as it showed political maturity. And since Congress has been silent on taking any action against motormouths like Nirupam, it shows doing so has tacit approval from the party because all such attempts are aimed at denying the BJP any political gain from the surgical strike.

Rahul Gandhi – October 6: “Humare jawan hai jinhone khoon diya hai, jinhone surgical strikes kiya, unke khoon ke peeche aap (Modi) chuppe huye hai (Our soldiers conducted surgical strikes and gave their blood. Modi is just hiding behind their sacrifices). Unki aap dalali kar rahe ho (trading over the blood of Indian soldiers).”

Like of the BJP leaders, even here the statements are self-explanatory.

P Chidambaram – October 12: “My stand is quite clear. I said, we support the government. We believe the Army and the DGMO. And whatever pre-emptive action the government of the day will take, as a responsible opposition, the Congress party will support the government. Now I said draw a line there, that subject is over.”

“There have been demands from quarters that evidence must be released. That is not questioning the Army action. That is a suggestion to the government so that we can call the bluff of Pakistan. Pakistan’s bluff has takers in some quarters, The New York Times, Washington Post, some sections of the social media, even that forgotten group called United Nations Observers Group. Therefore, to call Pakistan’s bluff, it is for the government to consider whether it would like to release any evidence. But I made it clear that’s a decision for the government to take. Whatever decision government takes, in that respect, Congress party will support that decision.”

On earlier strikes: “Quite rightly. Because the policy of the government of that day was strategic restraint and as part of strategic restraint we left such cross-border action to be handled by the Army at the operational, tactical level. We did not raise it to the government level. I believe UPA’s policy was right. But I am not saying that the present government cannot change that policy…Government has fuller information than any one of us. And, therefore, I concede the right of the government to adopt a modified policy. And, in fact, I go a step further and say after Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Pampore and Uri, any government could be expected to consider a modified policy.”

Kapil Sibal – October 7: “Please stop this poster baazi. Let the army do its job like it has been doing. Amit Shah has said his party will take this surgical strike to the people: this clearly shows they want to politicise the matter.”

BJP ALLIES HAVE REACTED AS PER THEIR COMPULSIONS.

Most of the BJP allies have owned the surgical strike except the Shiv Sena and the PDP. Even they have not criticised the step, but have exercised caution in praising the BJP (Shiv Sena) or reacting on the news itself (PDP). The Shiv Sena-BJP combine is going through a rough weather while the BJP-PDP combine is seen as an unnatural alliance.

Shiv Sena – Uddhav Thackeray – October 11: “After the strikes, I phoned Modi and told him, ‘Narendrabhai, this is the Narendrabhai we want as PM. Modi should now take such an action that not only PoK but entire Pakistan should be known as part of India. Those who said the strikes were fake have rotten brains and water of gutters of Lahore and Karachi and not blood flowing through their veins. Did Rahul Gandhi learn of the ‘khoon ki dalali’ from Bofors (scam)?” How can you show mistrust on Army while criticising Modi? Those who show distrust for our brave soldiers may be offspring of Pakistan.”

PDP – Mehbooba Mufti – September 29: “We in J&K have suffered immensely because of the violence and know very well its dangers and consequences. For the people of Jammu and Kashmir, peace along the borders and within the mainland is of immense significance and I hope the political leadership of the two countries would also treat it with the same spirit.”

SOME IN THE POLITICAL OPPOSITION, ESPECIALLY THE REGIONAL FORCES, SAW THEIR FUTURE COURSE IN DENYING THE BJP ANY SPACE.

Mayawati – October 10: “There is a feeling among people that this (the strikes) could have been delayed for taking political and electoral mileage. Instead of honouring its political leaders after the strikes, BJP should have felicitated the army for it. The credit for the strikes should go to the Indian army and not Narendra Modi.”

Akhilesh Yadav – October 10: Backing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s ‘dalali’ comments UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said Rahul must have made his comments after much deliberation – “Unhone ye bayan diya hai to kuch soch samajh ke diya hoga. Kuch jankari zaroor hogi.”

Akhilesh Yadav – October 6: “BJP makes up new words. What is surgical? War is a war, the villagers don’t understand ‘surgical’. It’s good that Indian army conducted surgical strike, but we still believe that dialogue is the best way to sort things out.”

Lalu Yadav – October 10: “BJP is falsely trying to take credit of brave acts of the Indian Army (for the successful surgical strikes on the launch pads of terrorists in PoK). The Army is known for its valour and it has given befitting reply to Pakistan’s attempts to push terrorists into the country and would do so in future as well. I am sure if the need arises, our brave Army would do a major surgery like this in future also.”

SOME LIKE NITISH KUMAR HAVE BEEN THERE FOR IT – RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING.

October 3: “The decision of surgical strike taken by the Centre is successful. Everybody knows that the Union Government is making foolproof arrangements to deal with such elements. Our Army and Paramilitary personnel who are deployed at the borders have the strength to deal with such situation.”

September 29: “We are proud of our Indian Army and we salute and appreciate their bravery and valour. We sincerely congratulate the Central government and our brave armed forces for the decisive action taken against terrorism.”

AND ARVIND KEJRIWAL, LIKE ALWAYS, HAS BEEN IN A DIFFERENT LEAGUE – UPS AND DOWNS – UNSURE OF WHAT TO SAY, WHEN TO SAY.

October 7: “I strongly condemn what Rahul Gandhi said about our jawans, this is a matter in which we all need to stand united. I pity Rahul’s mindset. There should be no politics on surgical strike and I am with Modi.”

October 5: Accused the BJP of playing politics over the surgical strike and questioning him for asking proof to counter Pakistan’s false propaganda.

October 3: “My blood boiled when I saw that report. There were reports being published by BBC and The New York Times questioning whether surgical strikes actually took place. Pakistan is trying to damage India’s reputation in the international community. I appeal to the prime minister: Unmask Pakistan’s false propaganda like the way you (Modi) and the army taught Pakistan a lesson on the ground. Unmask Pakistan’s baseless attempt to damage the reputation of India on the global forum. The entire country is with you. We are with you. I also appeal to the people to not fall for Pakistan’s false propaganda.”

All quotes, statements and observations have been taken from media reports.

©SantoshChaubey

SURGICAL STRIKE TO SURGICAL POLITICS

Yes, that is the case right now in India and we are not going to see tempers coming down soon as Uttar Pradesh, politically most important state in India, is going to polls in some months and the BJP, the ruling party in the Centre, will go all out to win the war of perceptions by exploiting the political mileage associated with this military action.

And they are rightly entitled to do so. Wars (or cross-border surgical strikes) are never only military in nature in democracies like India. They need political sanctity and Narendra Modi’s government gave the Indian military this much needed sanctity this time – unlike the previous political establishments.

The opposition and BJP’s frenemies (like Shiv Sena) are fearing this. So, while frenemies are trying to make a sort of balance in appreciating this surgical strike while reminding the BJP of some other nagging (dragging) issue(s) at the same time, the rivals are going all guns blazing against Narendra Modi and his party, as if they are sworn like enemies – going to the extent that they are even badmouthing and namecalling the Indian Army in the process.

So much so that it is now being aptly called surgical politics.

Yes, in order to discredit the BJP and deny it the space it is looking for with the surgical strike, riding on the wave of patriotism and nationalism, the rivals are now busy in doing the surgery of the initial stand they had taken – of supporting the government.

Like Pakistan, except the teams in India that strategized and implemented the surgical strike, no one even in India had imagined that India would do it. So, as the initial reaction, they had nothing but to offer their whole-hearted support and they did so, except the Left Front. And the Left Front now doesn’t have much political currency left in India.

But the BJP had other plans and rightly so. The party decided to promote the surgical strike on national and international platforms. Every small and big leader of the BJP got busy in telling the nation that how it was a result of the efficient and impact leadership by Narendra Modi. There were tweets, Facebook posts, posters, banners, placards and voices. And as earlier said, the BJP was entitled to it.

Now everyone knows how the 2011 Osama bin Laden’s surgical strike helped Barack Obama in winning the second term in 2012 and that would be high on everyone’s mind here in India in these times.

So, as the BJP proceeded with its plans, coupled with increased desperation and panic in Pakistan, the rivals started seeing red. And when it was more than what they could have taken, they started resorting to means that could have denied the BJP this opportunity – even if it meant questioning the Indian Army credentials and terming the whole surgical strike a lie, like Sanjay Nirupam did, or asking for evidence like Arvind Kejriwal or P Chidambaram or Ajay Alok or many other did.

But their changing stands and statements say they don’t know how to proceed. So, while they are shouting over the top, their strategy looks quite muddled. A leader says it was fake. Another leader of that party says it wasn’t fake but the BJP should not politicise the matter. A leader says we need the evidence. Another leader of that party says providing evidence is the sole discretion of the government. Many voice, many stands, but no clear signal! And it is sending a very negative message about them. Because most of them are sounding phoney (and even outrageous).

©SantoshChaubey

AAP LEADERS ARRESTED, BJP MEMBERS LET OFF FOR SIMILAR OFFENCES IS LOPSIDED JUSTICE

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

Some Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs are in jail. Some are out on bail. Some are in the imminent threat of being put behind bars.

If the law is catching up with them, it means they would have committed some criminal activities.

Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. So the law is bound to catch up with them, or in fact everyone who is found on the wrong side of it, irrespective of affiliations and influences.

But is it so black and white?

We all know it isn’t so. We know our legal system has taken different reincarnations based on affiliation and patronage and its most brazen consequences are seen in our policing and criminal investigation systems.

That is why our premier investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has been called a “caged parrot” by the Supreme Court.

That is why the courts don’t believe in the testimony recorded before the police and prefer the one delivered in the courtroom. That is why terms like “police reforms” or “CBI independence” have become so debatable that we don’t know if they will have logical conclusions at all.
The hunger for power and the penchant to stick to that power make our policing and criminal investigation systems mere pawns in the hands of those who form the government.

These pawns are used at will – to promote one’s interests, or to settle scores, or to rein in elements that make noise or pose threats. Yes, some form of honest policing is still there but it is limited to policing the common man where no one is interested to intervene.

The trouble that the AAP leaders are in is a case in point.

Some AAP MLAs like Mahendra Yadav and Akhilesh Tripathi were arrested on charges including rioting and preventing public servants from discharging duties.

BJP’s Faggan Singh Kulaste, who has been made a Union minister in the latest Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has also been accused of rioting, armed with deadly weapons, wrongful restraint and many others (including charges related to obscene acts), an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) finds. The ADR analysis is based on his latest self-sworn affidavit.

Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das who belongs to the BJP is also accused of preventing public servants from discharging duties and wrongful restraint. The ADR analysis of his self-sworn affidavit shows a total of eight cases registered against him including under two sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deal with serious offences.

AAP MLA Manoj Kumar was arrested in a land grabbing case and was later released on bail. He was slapped with sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the IPC.

BJP’s Naba Kumar Doley, who is the panchayat and rural development minister of Assam, has allegations under three IPC sections that deal with serious offences against him, the ADR analysis says. Charges against him include “making a false document (IPC section 464)”, “charge related to forgery (IPC section 463)”, “charges related to giving and fabricating false evidence (IPC sections 191, 192, 193) and so on.

Haryana’s animal husbandry minister Om Prakash Dhankar has declared in his affidavit that he is facing charges under section 147 (charges related to rioting) and section 341 (wrongful restraint) of the IPC among others.

Former minister in the Maharashtra Cabinet, Eknath Khadse of the BJP, who was forced to resign in the Dawood Ibrahim call case and was later given a clean chit, had declared charges under IPC sections dealing with serious offences like section 354 (charge related to assault or criminal force on woman with intent to outrage her modesty) among others in his self-sworn affidavit.

AAP Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan was recently arrested under the IPC sections 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman). Later, section 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the IPC was also added. The judge, while releasing Khan on bail, said that keeping him in jail would not serve any purpose and that Khan was not needed for investigation.

Former Union minister of state of panchayati raj, Nihal Chand Meghwal, who is a BJP MP from Rajasthan and who was dropped in the latest round of Cabinet reshuffle, is accused in a rape case. Though Meghwal was given a clean chit earlier and the courts refused to entertain the woman’s plea, later the same was admitted and is being heard by an ADJ court.

They all are free men, in spite of the serious charges against them. And they are just few names from a long list spread across parties and states in the federation of India.

So it is still basically about which side of the law you are but with a distorted paradigm to it – whether you are in power or you are in Opposition.

If you are from the establishment or from the party in power, you are clearly treated above the law. On the contrary, if you are from the Opposition benches and in the cross hairs of the ruling party, you are likely to be made an example by the law enforcement agencies – of their swiftness and efficiency.

©SantoshChaubey

QUESTIONS BJP NEED TO ASK BEFORE COMMENCING ON ITS STRATEGY FOR UP ASSEMBLY POLLS

THE QUESTIONS 

Is the Assam verdict assuring enough to get complacent over BJP’s chances and challenges in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state in India with maximum Lok Sabha and assembly seats and therefore with the maximum count of Rajya Sabha claims?

Has BJP not committed blunder by appointing Keshav Prasad Maurya, a Lok Sabha MP from Phulpur constituency in Allahabad district, a virtually unknown face in the power corridors so far, either in Uttar Pradesh, or in Delhi?

Couldn’t BJP find a known face in Uttar Pradesh? Irrespective of credentials and controversies associated with Keshav Prasad Maurya, it goes without saying that even many supporters of BJP did not know much about him before his coronation.

Are the credentials of being an OBC, his association with RSS and hailing from a humble background enough to mobilize votes in India’s most populous state where the ruling party of India of the day was forced to the third spot with a meagre 47 seats out of 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh? Also, Uttar Pradesh is the state from where BJP began its journey to where it is in India’s political circles now.

And what about the baggage Maurya carries? He may have a humble background, but now he is a millionaire with multiple criminal cases lodged against him. His 2014 Lok Sabha affidavit declared assets worth Rs. 9 crore. To name a few, he has a filling station and a private hospital in partnership. Certainly not a saleable package politically (and electorally)!

Before appointing Mauyra, did BJP factor in why it performed so brilliantly in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, winning 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, and why it has lost every subsequent bye-election in the state?

Although it is slipping beyond any possible damage control exercise now, has the BJP introspected about why it ignored Uttar Pradesh since winning the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls?

A natural corollary to the previous question is – are the BJP strategists, including Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and the RSS leadership, confident enough that they have sufficient time to regain the lost ground and so to reclaim the state – nine odd months now – when the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh are to be held?

A sub-question to that is – does BJP feel honestly that is has lost the much ground it gained during the Lok Sabha polls in 2014? That is the key to do any exercise that it intends to do now – to map the trajectory ahead.

It is beyond speculation that Keshav Prasad Maurya cannot be the BJP’s chief-ministerial nominee. Although he hails from the Kushwaha community (OBC), that forms around 8% of Uttar Pradesh’s population, he is simply not magnetic enough to pull a significant chunk of OBC voters from a population segments that is 40% of the total. What is then the basis of projecting him as the OBC face of BJP in Uttar Pradesh?

Can Keshav Prasad Maurya successfully play the OBC card by equating himself with prime minister Narendra Modi, an OBC and a Chaiwala like him (as Maurya claims), given the fact that BJP has not performed well, in Jayapur, Varanasi’s village adopted by Narendra Modi where BJP lost local village polls recently and in Varanasi, Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency?

And the natural extension to all this is – who will then be the BJP’s chief-ministerial nominee? Obviously, it should be someone from the upper caste communities who have been traditional BJP voters. The upper caste voters were an important factor behind Mayawati’s caste/social engineering in 2007 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh that gave her complete majority. This time also, Mayawati and her party BSP are ahead in the race, as the projections so far say, and therefore, retaining upper caste voters will be a problem for BJP, especially when its new state president has replaced a Brahmin, Laxmikant Bajpai from Meerut. Names of claimants are already doing rounds – Varun Gandhi or Smriti Irani or even Rajnath Singh – or will it be someone else? Certainly, here Amit Shah cannot prop anyone like Keshav Prasad Maurya and it is going to be a difficult decision to take.

And these are just the primary questions BJP needs to introspect before beginning on any activity in Uttar Pradesh. The party needs to take a top-down approach here because there isn’t enough time left for reorganization (and restructuring) of the party and the party should hope it works for bottom-up issues – like galvanizing cadres and district units – to do their best for the names the party finalizes.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE ‘VERY REAL’ POLITICAL POSSIBILITIES IN BIHAR NOW..

Based on questionable and condemnable past credentials of Lalu Yadav-Rabri Devi regime of 15 years when Bihar had the RJD government – from 1990 to 2005 – termed Jungleraj by Nitish Kumar – and based on Nitish Kumar’s bitter relation with Lalu Yadav – that is just opportunistically suppressed at the moment (obviously, due to obvious political compulsions) – because we need to keep this in mind that Lalu had initially refused projecting Nitish Kumar as the chief-ministerial candidate of the alliance (read JDU-RJD-Congress-SP, as SP was then in the alliance) – and Nitish’s party has lost the tag of being the largest political party in Bihar assembly to Lalu’s RJD – a development that is ominous to Nitish’s style of politics – again based on the circumstances so far:

The JDU-RJD-Congress government would run smoothly: Now, this is the least likely scenario. But if it happens, it will be smoothest thing Bihar’s electorate can expect – provided Nitish Kumar finds himself free to run the government and Lalu, who cannot contest polls and cannot take any political office, as he is a convict in the fodder scam, will put his energy more in his and his family’s political revival.

It will become the RJD-JDU-Congress combine: Lalu, being the numero-uno of RJD may exact his price, making Nitish Kumar a follower and not a trendsetter. After all, if Lalu walks out, Nitish’s government will collapse – if Nitish doesn’t agree to compromise.

Nitish is most likely to have his deputy from RJD or from Lalu’s family and important ministers as well. Lalu will weigh heavily in governance decisions and Nitish will face trouble in taking decisions freely, like he has been taking so far, and in reining in the bad elements associated with RJD, the senior partner in the government.

In this case, Bihar can soon expect another round of assembly polls – if any one of the parties walks out of the alliance – again based on their own reasoning – that would, in turn, be based on their political revival of the past.

Nitish can split RJD: Now it is a known fact that RJD has no face but Lalu Yadav. His both sons are novice and his daughter Misa has no political experience. As Lalu cannot take any political position, it would be best for him to stick to the routine and let Nitish do his work. Otherwise, Nitish can easily split RJD to get the numbers to run his government, in case his ties with his Lalu sour. A party with mass no leader than Lalu, who is barred from taking office, would be an easy target to lure its members – in the name of accessibility to the power corridors.

Or it can be a JDU-BJP combine again: We all know the cliché of Indian politics – that there are no permanent friends or foes in politics – and going by the account of the long years of JDU-BJP alliance, there is no reason to think these parties cannot come together again – especially when Nitish would feel suffocated to run the government of JDU-RJD combine.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/