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Modi is stepping towards his ‘Shah Bano’ moment and it is dangerous

Arti Ghargi

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Modi

Rajiv Gandhi appeased Muslims for vote bank, Modi is doing nothing different to Dalits by overturning SC order in SC/ST Act.  

 

The great German novelist Johanne Wolfgang von Goethe had said, “A clever man commits no minor blunder.” With the amendment bill to reinstate the original provisions of SC/ST Act, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too is going to commit a major blunder of his tenure. What is surprising about this is, the entire situation is eerily similar to that of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He committed the biggest blunder of his tenure in the Shah Bano case. With a brute majority that he had in both the houses of parliament, he overturned the 1985 Supreme Court judgment banning triple talaq terming it unconstitutional, while opening the door for dangerous precedent for the future governments to follow whenever convenient.

As they say, history repeats itself but it is up to us to learn lessons from it. On March 20, 2018, the Supreme Court while hearing three issues related to misuse of SC/ST Act against government servants ordered that the arrest of a public servant can only be made after approval of the appointing authority. Preventing the automatic arrest provision under the law, the Apex Court ruled that a non-public servant can be arrested after approval by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).

Modi

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Further, it said that before filing an FIR under the act, a brief inquiry will have to be conducted. The court also asked the investigating officers to make sure before handed whether the charges fall under the Act or have a political and/or personal agenda behind it. “There is no absolute bar against the grant of anticipatory bail in cases under the Atrocities Act if no prima facie case is made out or where on judicial scrutiny the complaint is found to be prima facie mala fide,” said the Supreme Court judgment. Not only was the judgment in the line of Section 438 of Criminal Procedure Code (which mandates preliminary inquiry before filing an FIR), but also upheld individual’s innocence until proven guilty. (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. Art. 11.1)

However, the Modi government’s disregard towards History has also made it skip the lesson from the debacle of Rajiv Gandhi government in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections. Retrospectively speaking, Rajiv Gandhi could have prohibited himself from interfering in the dealings of Apex Court. But even the greatest governments turn imprudent as the election year nears. Rajiv Gandhi feared that the Shah Bano judgment will turn the Muslim Community against the Congress and did the inevitable. Did it help? No. He opened the can of worms, instead. This mollycoddling of a particular community was bound to upset the other community. His government was accused of ‘Minority appeasement’ by Hindu community. To pacify the angry Hindu community, Rajiv Gandhi committed another blunder by allowing Hindus to worship inside Babri Masjid. To balance one wrong act, he committed another one and the domino effect of his mistakes finally led to the Babri Masjid Demolition which threw the country in the pit of worse communal violence, the horrors of which still echo in our memories even two decades later.

Modi

The Modi government is going to commit the same mistake. While giving out the verdict on SC/ST Act, the Supreme Court had observed that the act was never meant to be misused for blackmailing or for personal revenge. Justice AK Goel and Justice Uday Lalit who was presiding over the case even noted that the act was introduced to reduce the caste divide in the country, however, it has done the opposite with the indiscreet use of the provisions. The Supreme Court ruling spread wildfire among the Dalit community in the country. A month later, a nationwide Bharat Bandh was observed which led to violent protests in various parts of the country. The pressure was not only from the Dalit masses but also from the allies in the government. Dalit leaders like Ram Vilas Paswan, Ramdas Athawle and even Dalit leaders from BJP summoned the party to act quickly.  They were trying to save their own Dalit vote banks.

The Modi government’s conscience started trembling. The government filed a review petition in the court.  However, the court on April 3 refused to put a stay on the ruling but said it would consider the Centre’s petition in detail. But the simmering anger in the Dalit community ahead of 2019 elections cast a shadow on the “Anti-appeasement” Modi government. The cabinet has decided to bring an amendment bill in the parliament which will reinstate the original law and dilute the revisions ordered by the Supreme Court.

Maratha

The bill would a) quash the Supreme Court order that an FIR be lodged only after a gazetted officer conducting a preliminary inquiry; b) introduce a provision that the approval of a senior official would not be needed for arrest; c) the provision of section 438 of CrPC would be inapplicable to cases registered under SC/ST Prevention of atrocities act.  Won’t this rabid appeasement of Dalit community anger the other communities? To equate, Congress appeased Muslims for vote bank, Modi is doing nothing different to Dalits.

The Modi government is walking on a two-edged sword here. Maharashtra has been reeling under the Maratha Morcha. The community is majorly demanding the dilution of atrocious provisions in the SC/ST Act. One of the demands of the community also includes reservation in education and government jobs. The protest has turned even violent with the suicide deaths of Maratha youths. But not only the Modi government is amending the SC/ST Act but also has filed a review petition in Supreme Court favoring reservation to SCs and STs in the promotion. It is bound to upset Maratha community. This vicious chain does not end here. Would Modi government repeat the history and commit another irrevocable mistake? We can’t deny the possibility.

Maratha

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What effect will it have on the nation in entirety? Rajiv Gandhi had the golden opportunity to show the true statesmanship by standing firm on the SC decision, but he thought of elections instead. Modi still has the golden opportunity with him. This is his chance to act like a statesman and pull our future generation from the venom of caste divide. Will he?

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

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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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Opinion

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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