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Sharad Pawar hits out at ‘Bullet Train’ but his main aim is BJP

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BJP offered Narayan Rane to join the NDA. This clearly has miffed the NCP which was anticipating that Shiv Sena would pull out of the government and it would get a chance to form an alliance with the BJP.

 

After a number of veteran BJP leaders called out the government for poor economic progress, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar too, slammed the Modi-led central government. Pawar expressed grave concerns about the slowed economic growth. “The Prime Minister has taken decisions of demonetization and GST without adequate planning which has resulted in the economic slowdown,” he said while addressing the Press.

NCP which was considered as a potential ally for the BJP until recently seemed completely against the BJP government in the state as well as in the Centre.

Pawar also lashed out at Modi government’s ambitious Bullet Train project terming it “impractical” and “not viable” for Maharashtra. However, unlike the other two parties opposing Bullet train- MNS and Shiv Sena, NCP maintained that it was not against Gujrat’s development but was concerned about Maharashtra.

This rather cautious stand comes as the Gujrat Assembly elections are due this year. The GST-hit traders are in no mood to listen to BJP’s promises and can benefit the NCP in the elections.

From taking a dig at Narayan Rane to expressing dissatisfaction about Fadanvis government’s poor loan waiver scheme, Sharad Pawar did not mince his words.

One may wonder, why a party that once offered “unconditional support” to BJP after state assembly elections turned against BJP?

The answer lies in the rapidly changing equations in the state politics. Since Devendra Fadanvis paid a visit to Narayan Rane during Ganesh Festival, rumours of Rane joining BJP were doing rounds. It was confirmed when last week Rane announced falling out of Congress party.

However, considering the rivalry between Shiv Sena and Narayan Rane, BJP preferred to let Narayan Rane his own party and then join the NDA alliance. This clearly has miffed the NCP which was anticipating that Shiv Sena would pull out of the government.

However, Sena announced that it is no mood to break the alliance as of now which turned the political settlement upside down. This also explains why Sharad Pawar chose to oppose Modi only after Narayan Rane announced the creation of his party.

 

Politics

Two of three governments thrown out in India, world’s highest rate of anti-incumbency: Ruchir Sharma

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New Delhi | India has the highest rate of anti-incumbency in the world, says economic analyst Ruchir Sharma, who also argues that there is limited connection between economic development and election results in the country.

While one fact reflects the strength of India’s democracy, the other points to its drawbacks, said the New York based columnist and economist.

“Two out of three governments get thrown out in India. In America, the number is just the opposite — two out of the three get elected.

“That to me is a good news in the margin because it means that despite the money and muscle power of the incumbent… they keep losing elections and this is something very empowering for the average voter who knows that come election time and I will get my revenge,” Sharma told PTI in an exclusive interview.

His new book “Democracy on The Road”, which is expected to hit the stands in February ahead of the 2019 elections, claims to provide an insightful account of how Indian democracy works, using elections as a lens.

So what makes the Indian people change their leaders so frequently, especially when compared to other parts of the world?

According to Sharma, it is because the longer leaders stay in power in india, the “more arrogant” they tend to become, giving birth to the “entire feeling of let’s keep changing the leaders”.

“The moment they are in office you can see the arrogance building, they are surrounded by 100 sycophants around them, everyone is praising them… they live in a bubble that people are following them,” he added.

This “let’s keep changing the leaders” feeling among voters is an example of what works with Indian democracy.

Sharma also listed some drawbacks in the world’s largest democracy during a free-wheeling conversation.

One of these is “two-thirds of governments losing elections even after maintaining 8 per cent of growth rate for the five-year period”.

“Those states where the growth was more than 8 per cent for the five year period — which is very high growth rate — do those governments get re-elected? There are about 30 such cases in India only where you had growth state over 8 percent over the five-year time and the answer was 50:50,” said the analyst.

And though the figure has improved “marginally from 66 per cent to 50”, Sharma said the very fact that one can have 8 per cent growth and still lose elections is something most parts of the world will find “baffling”.

“In America, the relationship is so clear historically between what the economy is doing and what the election results are. As democracy evolves with time, I would like to see a greater connect between economic development and election results,” Sharma said.

He also expressed concern about the number of “sensible people” falling for stories of EVM rigging and the fear looming over the country’s “free press”.

Last year, the BSP and the AAP alleged that the machines used in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Punjab were tampered with to favour the BJP. Later, several other parties also joined the chorus.

“I don’t believe in rigging of EVMs… I have not seen any great evidence to back that up. But I am definitely concerned by the loss of trust in the democracy when people began to think that the EVMs are being rigged,” he said.

“Democracy on The Road”, published by Penguin Random House India, is the author’s account of covering more than two dozen elections since the 1990s and shows how “India has changed or not changed” by narrating important events that took place in the country over this time period.

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Bhim Army chief’s release not for votes: UP minister

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Lucknow | The Uttar Pradesh government has refuted suggestions that it released Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad from custody under the NSA for the sake of Dalit votes, saying he was allowed to walk free as normalcy has now returned to Saharanpur.

“The government had sought a confidential report and found that the situation has normalised, and he was released,” UP Law Minister Brijesh Pathak told PTI here.

Azad was detained under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) after the 2017 Saharanpur violence between the Dalit and the Thakur communities.

The UP government ordered his release on September 13, revoking the earlier order which would have kept him in detention till November 1.

“Today, the situation is normal in Saharanpur and the adjoining districts,” Pathak said in an interview.

He said the state government’s decision to release Azad should not be viewed from the point of elections.

“When someone is booked under the NSA, it is not for life. It is first imposed for three months and if the district administration feels it necessary, then it is extended for the next three more months and so on,” he said.

“The NSA is an immediate measure that is slapped on a person who poses a threat to society, to law and order or can trigger fear,” he said

The Dalit leader was arrested in June 2017 in connection with the May 5 clashes in which one person was killed and 16 others injured in Saharanpur’s Shabbirpur village.

On November 2, 2017, the Allahabad High Court granted bail to him. But a day before his expected release, he was booked under the NSA, effectively extending his detention.

On his release, Chandrashekhar Azad, who is also known as ‘Ravan’, claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party feared his detention might dent its Dalit vote bank ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

“I am out and the BJP is going to face the ire of the Dalit samaj. This time, the BJP will be out of power,” he told reporters.

Azad said if a ‘mahagathbandhan’, or a grand alliance of opposition parties, comes about in UP ahead of the 2019 election, he will “definitely’ support it.

“If the mahagathbandhan happens, the BJP will be reduced to single digits,” he said.

“In the Lok Sabha bypolls, the BJP lost Gorakhpur and Phulpur and tasted defeat in Kairana,” Azad had reminded.

Commenting on the possible emergence of an anti-BJP alliance for the 2019 elections, the minister said, “We take each and every election very seriously.”

“The gathbandhan will hardly have an impact on the BJP’s poll prospects as their ‘niti’ (policy) and ‘niyat’ (intention) and their manner of working has been seen by the people of Uttar Pradesh, be it the SP, the BSP, the Congress or even the RLD,” he said.

“People have not forgotten the anarchy unleashed during the five years of SP rule from 2012 to 2017,” Pathak said, adding the state government then worked like “an unguided missile”.

“If there is any alliance, we will challenge them in a befitting manner. The people are with the BJP,” he said.

Asked to comment on a remark by Akhilesh Yadav, in which the Samajwadi Party chief suggested he was willing to take “two step back” in a deal with Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati, Pathak said, “Both of them are sinking.”

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Ex-French President contradicted himself; Dassault chose Reliance on its own: Arun Jaitley

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New Delhi | Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Sunday said former French President Francois Hollande contradicted his own statement with regard to the Rafale deal and that neither the Indian nor the French government played any role in selection of Reliance as offset partner by Dassault.

A political controversy has erupted over Hollande’s statement that the Indian government wanted the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence to be chosen as offset partner of Dassault, the manufacturer of the Rafale fighter jets.

“The French Government and M/s Dassault Aviation have categorically denied the correctness of the former President’s first statement.

“The French Government has stated that the decision with regard to the offset contracts of Dassault Aviation are taken by the company and not the Government,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post.

“Dassault Aviation itself has suggested that they have entered into multiple contracts with several public sector and private sector companies with regard to the offset contracts and the decision is entirely theirs,” he added.

The partners (Dassault and Reliance) selected themselves as former President Hollande now says, Jaitley said in the post titled ‘A Questionable Statement Which Circumstances & Facts Demolish’.

“This contradicts his first questionable statement which the French Government and Dassault have denied. The facts contradict the same. His second statement in Montreal, Canada to AFP (news agency) makes the veracity of his first statement even more questionable,” the minister said.

AFP reported that Hollande told it on the sidelines of a meeting in Canada Friday that France “did not choose Reliance in any way”. When asked whether India had put pressure on Reliance and Dassault to work together, Hollande said he was unaware and “only Dassault can comment on this”.

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