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Is Congress trying to be a better BJP?

Arti Ghargi

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Congress

If the Congress accuses BJP of communalising the society, then what Congress is doing along the caste lines is not any different from what BJP has been doing so far. 

Several states across India on April 2 witnessed bloodied Bharat Bandh protests. The protestors opposing the recent amendments introduced by the Supreme Court in SC/ST Act turned violent torching factories, cars and several other vehicles. The violence grew so much that a child was hit & injured by lathis by the protesters in Muzaffarpur’s Maripur area. The violence left as much as 10 people dead. While the Dalit outrage was at its peak, the government was drawing criticism from all the corners of the nation.

The SC/ST Act amendment issue has turned out to be a golden card for the opposition especially Congress who is trying every possible way to cash on it. The Dalit outrage seems to have come to the front of the country’s politics again with even BJP not failing to mention its support to the community in every major speech. A closer look at all of the recent developments raises the question, is Congress turning into another BJP?

BJP and communalism:

BJP has always been accused of using communalism as a tool to polarise the society to build its vote bank. The party leadership does not forget to assert the Hardline Hindutva ideology ahead of every election. Last year, during the UP Assembly Election, Prime Minister Modi at a rally in Fatehpur on February 19, accused the ruling Samajwadi Party of spending crores on constructing boundary walls around cemeteries while neglecting Hindu crematoriums. Recently, UP CM stoked controversy asking the Karnataka people to make a choice between those who worship Hanuman and those who worship Tipu Sultan. There are countless such examples. While appealing its Hindu majority vote bank, it portrays the opposition Congress as Anti-right, Anti-Hindu and Pro-Muslim.

 

Congress and Caste Politics:

While BJP depends on division along religious lines to build its vote bank, Congress, on the other hand, is countering it with more divisiveness- using the caste politics. During Gujarat Assembly election, the Congress weaved a caste alliance of Hardik Patel(Patidar), Alpesh Thakore(OBC) and Jignesh Mewani (Dalit) to take on the incumbent BJP which was ruling the state for 22 years. Though BJP won the elections, the Caste alliances paid off for Congress as the party improved its tally with impressive numbers.

Repeating the same strategy in Karnataka, the party supported the separate religion demand of Lingayat community-which is a powerful community in the state, both-socially and politically.

Continuing on the same line, the focus is on the Dalits where the party is invoking the legacy of Ambedkar. The party’s support for the Bharat Bandh protest and a day-long fast to protest the Dalit atrocities is a step further in the direction to consolidate the Dalit votes in favour of the party.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Bandh protest, tweeted, “To keep Dalits at the lowest notch of Indian society is in the DNA of RSS/BJP. Those who challenge this thinking are hit by violence. Thousands of Dalit brother-sister are taking it to the streets today seeking to protect their rights from the Modi government. We salute them.”

It is clear that Congress is trying to assert a picture of BJP as Anti-Dalit and Anti-Minority.

The divisive politics is not new to Indian political sphere; be it division along religious lines, caste lines or linguistic lines.

If the Congress accuses BJP of communalising the society, then what Congress is doing along the caste lines is not any different from what BJP has been doing so far

Is Congress turning into BJP?

Since the Gujarat Assembly Elections, Congress went under major revamping. This revamped Congress has rigorously been trying to shed the image created by the opposition. However, in the process of doing so, the party is following the lines of BJP. The soft Hindutva approach is one of the examples.

Late last year, just ahead of Gujarat Assembly Elections, Congress started its rigorous campaigning in Modi’s home state. While attacking Modi’s Gujarat model was the strategy of Congress, the core strategy also included wiping out its own party image as an Anti-Hindu party. The temple run that followed has not stopped since then. As the state of Karnataka stands on the edge of Assembly elections in the upcoming month of May, the Congress party is trying to reinforce its image as a pro-Hindu party. Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat asserted his Hindu identity as Janeu-dhari Hindu while in Karnataka Siddaramaiah started asserting his Hindu identity recalling the “Ram” in his name. All this quest is to appease the moderate Hindus while still holding onto the Dalits.

However, between the race for raising the vote bank on the religious and caste lines, the ‘Vikas’ seems to have lost the path. The Gujarat Assembly Election had shown a ray of hope bringing the development issue in the light again, but as the Karnataka Assembly elections are nearing, the election discourse is back to revolve around communal and caste politics. Meanwhile, the people are still waiting for the ‘Vikas’!

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Opinion

Pakistan’s Punjab province minister sacked for anti-minority remarks, but when will India learn?

Smita Sahu

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Pakistan

It was yesterday that Pakistan’s Punjab Province minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan was sacked over his anti-Hindu remarks.

However, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was quick to take notice of such chauvinism, and directed chief minister of Punjab province Usman Buzdar to remove him immediately, stated the party sources.

The official Twitter account of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf tweeted, “PTI Punjab government has removed Fayyaz Chohan from the post of Punjab Information Minister following derogatory remarks about the Hindu community”.

It further stated, “Bashing someone’s faith should not be a part of any narrative. Tolerance is the first & foremost pillar on which #Pakistan was built.”

A spokesman for the Punjab chief minister stated that Chohan submitted his resignation, which was immediately accepted.

Later, according to a senior government official, the chief minister had “forgiven” Chohan after he apologised in public for his remarks, but the prime minister directed Buzdar to immediately remove him from the ministry.

Earlier in the day, Chohan apologised for his remarks following intense criticism. He said, “I was addressing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian armed forces and their media not the Hindu community in Pakistan.” He further said, “I apologise if my remarks hurt the Hindu community in Pakistan,” Chohan said. “My remarks were in no way directed at Pakistan’s Hindu community.”

While his remarks attracted much of grave criticism from the minority community and senior party leaders for not watching his remarks and exhibiting insensitivity to the said community, could we in India, say with inflated chests that our political leaders irrespective of the political parties they represent, have not been guilty of putting on display the same kind of approach?

Sample this:

On 19th February Meghalaya governor Tathagata Roy asked for a straight boycott of Kashmir in the wake of the Pulwama attack on his twitter handle.

 

He tweeted, “An appeal from a retired colonel of the Indian Army: Don’t visit Kashmir, don’t go to Amarnath for the next 2 years. Don’t buy articles from Kashmir emporia or Kashmiri tradesman who come every winter. Boycott everything Kashmiri. I am inclined to agree.”

For a person who holds a stature of the governor of a state, Roy’s comments do not just pose to be insensitive but come at a time when particularly the students in Kashmiris are being victimized, and only seem to invoke people against Kashmiris. Worse still, his statements are also flagrant of constitutional principles which he, as governor, is obligated to maintain.

And the array of scathing anti-minority remarks just does not stop at Roy’s statements.

We also have controversy’s favourite child Minister of State for Skill Development.

anantkumar-hegde

Turns out, he was an accused in a hate speech case, under Section 295 A of the IPC, for reportedly making seditious statements about Islam at a press conference in Sirsi town on February 28, 2016. Responding to a question on a number of Muslim youths from Bhatkal town in his constituency being arrested on terrorism charges, Hegde was alleged to have said, “As long as there is Islam in this world, there will be terrorism. Until we eradicate Islam from the world, we will not be able to eliminate terrorism from the world.” He also allegedly called Islam a “ticking bomb”. Result, nothing good came out of the FIR that was registered against him.

And then amidst all of this, how could someone like Sakshi Maharaj let himself abstain and desist from making such communal comments.

Sakshi Maharaj

 

In fact, the BJP MP felt that the problem of the surging population needed his instantaneous attention so that he could cash on the opportunity right ahead of the elections where the polling dates had been already announced by the Election Commission. This was in January 2017. He said, “The population rise is not because of Hindus. The population has risen due to those who support the concept of four wives and 40 children.”

He was later booked in Meerut under section 298 of IPC besides other provisions of law for hurting religious sentiments of Muslims and violation of model code of conduct. But then, as is usually the case, one does not know as to what further action was taken in this regard.

With all this blatant exhibition of hatred and antagonism for the minorities in a secular nation like ours, how is it that not one of these was told to resign? What has been done as a corrective measure to ensure that a line is drawn to such seditious statements? With Pakistan bringing in such welcome changes into its governance, it is high time the ruling dispensations follow our neighbouring country’s example and start bringing such remedial into action to curb such anti-minority remarks.

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Air strike will help BJP to win more than 22 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, claims BS Yeddyurappa

News Desk

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karnataka

Bengaluru | BJP leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa on Wednesday said that the recent IAF Air strike on terror camps in P0K will help BJP to win more than 22 Lok Sabha seats in his home state Karnataka and help reelect PM Narendra Modi in upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Addressing media during his visit to Chitradurga in Karnataka, Yeddyurappa claimed that PM Modi’s decision to instruct Indian Air force to conduct airstrike on terror camps across the border has raised the feeling of nationalism among the citizen and will indirectly help BJP to win maximum seats in upcoming Lok Seats in Karnataka. The former CM said, “The Indian Armed Forces proved their mettle by destroying the terrorists’ hideouts. The impact of this strike will help BJP win more than 22 seats in state.”

Yeddyurappa’s statement has come after the recent Airstrike by the Indian Air force on the terror camps of terror organistaion especially Jaish-e-Mohammed which claimed responsibility of the terror attack on the CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama. According to govt sources more than 300 terrorists were killed in the IAF airstrike in Pakistan’s Balakot, Muzzafarabad.

 

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Raghuram Rajan says coalition govt may slow down economy. Does history support his claim?

Arti Ghargi

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Raghuram Rajan

It was during UPA’s coalition govt. a tenure that India’s GDP growth rate touched the two-digit number for the first time.

“These days’ efforts are being made to popularize a failed experiment in the history of Indian politics by the name of Mahagathbandhan,” fired PM Modi from the podium at BJP’s national convention at Ramleela Maidan. His attack on the opposition came few days before the United Opposition rally at Kolkata’s brigade ground. “These people are trying to make a ‘majboor sarkar’ (a helpless government) and not a “Majboot Sarkar” (A strong government),” he charged further.

This notion that the coalition governments are weaker and not capable of delivering on their promises has been prevalent in the Indian electorate and media for a long time. On Thursday, former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan too expressed the possibility that the Indian economy may slow down if a coalition government comes to power after the 2019 Lok Sabha election. His comments took many by surprise as he has been critical of the demonetization and other economic policies launched by the Modi government-a majority government.

But, does the hysteria that coalition governments are bad for the economy, hold any water? Well, to answer that we first have to look at the history. India has had a long list of coalition governments. Since the time of Morarji Desai to Manmohan Singh’s UPA, in the last fifty years, India has mostly been under the coalition government. The only two elections when the political parties were able to get the majority were- general elections of 1984 and 2014.

Let us first go through India’s GDP growth figures over the years, as it is considered the core indicator of development. We will present the numbers since 1991, as the economy was liberalized in the year. Incidentally, the major economic reform was brought by the PV Narasimha Rao-led coalition government.

According to the World Bank data, in the year 1991, India’s GDP growth was 1.05%. The country was on the brink of an economic crisis when the PV Narasimha Rao government brought in measures to resurrect the economy. From ending license Raj, introducing LPG policy to opening up India’s equity market for the foreign investors, the government transformed the economy. The success of the government in bringing the required economic reform can be gauged by the sheer amount of Foreign Direct Investment. India grew from the minuscule US $132 million in 1991–92 to $5.3 billion in 1995–96. In the last year of the coalition government’s term, the GDP growth of India was recorded at 7.55%.

After the hung parliament in 1996 General Elections, 13 different non-congress, non-BJP political parties came together to form United Front with Deve Gowda as the Prime Minister. He held the office for a brief term before stepping down from the post and making a way for his successor IK Gujaral. During the United Front government, the GDP Growth rate for 1997 and 1998 were 4.5 and 6.1 respectively.

After the United front government, came the coalition government led by BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In his five-year tenure from 1999 to 2004, the GDP growth of India went through many ups and downs. While in 1999, the growth rate was 8.84%, in the subsequent years it fell to 3.84%, 4.82% and 3.80% respectively before taking a jump and hitting 7.86% growth rate in 2003. In the next year, it moved slightly upward and registered 7.9% growth rate.

In its term of five years, the Vajpayee government worked towards increasing foreign investment, modernisation of public and industrial infrastructure, the creation of jobs, rising the high-tech and IT industry.  The policy shift was focused on the salaried class urban and young people.

Then came the UPA government led by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. As many as 22 parties came together to form the United Progressive Alliance that ruled the country for 10 years from 2004 to 2014. During the first term and half-way through the second tenure, India’s GDP remained constantly rising, except in 2008 when it collapsed to 3.89%. It was during UPA’s tenure that India’s GDP growth rate touched the two-digit number for the first time. The 2006-08 was a period when the poverty fell down drastically.

There was a high rate of growth in manufacturing industries between 2004-05 and 2010-11. In 2012, the UPA government decided to disinvest in the public shares, if successful there would have been a receipt of 20,300 crores that would have provided some relief to the fiscal deficit. The aim of UPA was to bolster economic growth and make India an attractive destination for foreign investment. In 2013, it introduced 51% FDI in the multi-brand retail sector. However, it was met with a lot of opposition.

After 2014, when the Modi government came to power with an absolute majority, India’s growth rate was 7.41%. It rose to 8.41 the subsequent year and then plunged to 7.1% and 6.6% in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The major economic reform that the Modi government undertook was the introduction of GST.

Well, history does not lie but it gives us lessons. And even the former RBI governor YV Reddy agreed that the coalition government produce a better economic result. However, bringing major economic changes mostly depends upon how stable is the prevailing government- coalition or majority. As HW News Business Editor remarked that even if there is a coalition government, the dominant party should be strong enough to push through the economic policies. “A fractious coalition may lead to compromise on various Economic policy issues,” he said.

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