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BJP is back to Hindutva theme, Modi government failed: Chidambaram

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Kolkata, Nov 8 : Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday said the BJP has gone back to its old theme of Hindutva after failing on all fronts and reiterated that state-wise alliance would be the best way to defeat the saffron party.

He also said the Central government no longer talks about “achhe din” and the promise of development lies in a shambles.

“There is no talk anymore of development or jobs, or investment or higher incomes or growth. The only talk we hear is about Hindutva agenda.

“Soon after his election, the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) appealed to the country to put all divisive and controversial issues under a moratorium for 10 years, and focus on development. The Prime Minister himself has resurrected the divisive and controversial issues,” he told reporters here.

He also alleged that all others from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to ministers, to minor functionaries of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are talking and writing about divisive issues.

“When they contested elections four-and-half-years ago, they talked about development, jobs and growth. They failed on all three fronts. They achieved nothing either on development, or jobs or growth. They have gone back to their old themes of Hindutva, giant statues, grand temples. It’s complete failure of the Modi government,” he said.

Chidambaram also said that state-wise alliances should be formed in different states to defeat the saffron party.

“State-wise alliances will benefit the Congress party. The best way to defeat BJP is to form state-wise alliances. One kind of alliance formed in Karnataka has yielded results,” the Congress leader said.

When asked about the possibility of an alliance with ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, he said: “AICC will take the decision… I am not the competent person (to make a comment).”

Speaking on the recently concluded by-elections in Karnataka, he said the vote in by- elections was a “big blow” to the BJP as people showed their confidence in the Congress- JD(S) government.

“The BJP has not paused to reflect. The BJP and RSS are pressing the accelerator on the Hindutva agenda. The next few weeks will be crucial,” he added.

India

Dalai Lama congratulates Maha teacher who won global prize

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Dalai Lama

Dharamsala, Dec 4 : Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Friday congratulated Ranjitsinh Disale, a primary school teacher in Maharashtra, on winning this year’s Global Teacher Prize, saying educating the young children, especially the poor, is perhaps the best way to help them as individuals.

“I would like to congratulate you,” His Holiness wrote, “on being named the world’s most exceptional teacher and to express my admiration for your generosity in sharing half the prize money with runners-up in the competition”.

“Educating young children, especially from poor and needy backgrounds is perhaps the best way to help them as individuals, and actively contributes to creating a better world.

“Your work to ensure that disadvantaged girls go to school, as well as your efforts to prepare study materials for them in their own language, the online science lessons you offer pupils in 83 countries and your project building connections between young people in conflict zones are all vivid examples of compassion in action.

“When you say, ‘Together we can make a difference — we can make this world a better place’, you are absolutely right. I am sure your exemplary service will encourage other brothers and sisters to follow in your footsteps.”

The spiritual leader ended his letter with an offering of prayers and good wishes.

The 31-year-old Ranjitsingh Disale declared that he will split half of the prize money of $1 million with his top 10 fellow finalists.

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Cities

DMK to hold black flag protest against farm laws on Saturday

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Mk Stalin

Chennai, Dec 4 : DMK President M.K. Stalin on Friday said that his party will hold a black flag protest against the three farm laws passed by the Central government.

In a letter to party members, he said the protest will be held in solidarity with the farmers protesting against the laws in Delhi.

Stalin said party leaders will hold the black flag protest in all the district headquarters following the Covid-19 safety precautions.

Reacting to the DMK’s protest, Tamil Nadu BJP’s agriculture wing head G.K. Nagaraj said Stalin, who is supporting the protesting middlemen in Delhi, should tell what he has done for the welfare of the farmers.

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Business

Inflationary woes: RBI retains rates, maintains accommodative stance

Reacting to the improved GDP growth forecast, the S&P BSE Sensex crossed the 45,000 mark for the first time ever.

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Shaktikanta Das

Mumbai, Dec 4 : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday retained its key short-term lending rates to subdue the unabatedly high inflation rate.

However, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the central bank maintained the growth-oriented accommodative stance, thus opening up possibilities for more future rate cuts.

Resultantly, MPC voted to maintain the repo rate — or short-term lending rate for commercial banks, at 4 per cent.

Likewise, the reverse repo rate was kept unchanged at 3.35 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the ‘Bank Rate’ at 4.25 per cent.

It was widely expected that the Reserve Bank’s MPC will hold rates as recent data showed that retail inflation has been at an elevated level during June.

As per recent data, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which gauges the retail price inflation, spiked in October to 7.61 per cent from 7.27 per cent in September.

Though not-comparable, India had recorded a retail price inflation of over 3 per cent in the corresponding period of previous year.

The RBI maintains a medium-term CPI inflation target of 4 per cent. The target is set within a band of +/- 2 per cent.

In an online address detailing the MPC’s decision, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said: “At the end of its deliberations, the MPC voted unanimously to leave the policy repo rate unchanged at 4 per cent.”

“It also decided to continue with the accommodative stance of monetary policy as long as necessary – at least through the current financial year and into the next year – to revive growth on a durable basis and mitigate the impact of Covid-19, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target going forward.”

According to Das, the MPC was of the view that inflation is likely to remain elevated, with some relief in the winter months from prices of perishables and bumper kharif arrivals.

“This constrains monetary policy at the current juncture from using the space available to act in support of growth. At the same time, the signs of recovery are far from being broad-based and are dependent on sustained policy support,”.

“A small window is available for proactive supply management strategies to break the inflation spiral being fuelled by supply chain disruptions, excessive margins and indirect taxes. Further efforts are necessary to mitigate supply-side driven inflation pressures. The MPC will monitor closely all threats to price stability to anchor broader macroeconomic and financial stability.”

Besides, Das said that India’s economy has witnessed a faster than anticipated recovery and its expected Real GDP growth rate will be at (-) 7.5 per cent in FY21.

He cited that several high frequency indicators have pointed to growth in both rural and urban areas.

“Consumers remain optimistic about the outlook and business sentiment of manufacturing firms is gradually improving. Fiscal stimulus is increasingly moving beyond being supportive of consumption and liquidity to supporting growth-generating investment,” he said.

“On the other hand, private investment is still slack and capacity utilisation has not fully recovered. While exports are on an uneven recovery, the prospects have brightened with the progress on the vaccines.”

“Taking these factors into consideration, real GDP growth is projected at (-) 7.5 per cent in 2020-21, (+) 0.1 per cent in Q3:2020- 21 and (+) 0.7 per cent in Q4:2020-21; and 21.9 per cent to 6.5 per cent in H1:2021- 22, with risks broadly balanced.”

Furthermore, Das elaborated that RBI will take additional measures to enhance liquidity support to targeted sectors having linkages to other sectors, deepen financial markets and conserve capital among banks, NBFCs through regulatory initiatives amongst other steps

Later on during a press interaction, Das, while answering to a question replied that RBI has not ‘junked’ inflation targeting via monetary policy mechanism.

He admitted that past inflation expectations have not materialised.

Citing extraordinarily situation, he said: “Our expectations on inflation, which we had over the last two months obviously that has not materialised. And we have to keep in mind that we are dealing with an extraordinary situation. A once in hundred years kind of event, and the kind of impact it has produced on the economy as well as on human lives, not just in India but across countries. It’s huge. So, we have to respond to this particular situation.”

Corroborating the assessment, RBI’s Deputy Governor Michael D. Patra said:

“You will see the trajectory of inflation completely changing. But what we have given you is the baseline with things, standing as they are today.”

“But, if you read into the guidance that Governor is giving. He sees this window as a chance for supply side management which is the prime instrument to use at this juncture, to produce a different trajectory of inflation.”

On the RBI’s internal working group’s recommendations on banking guidelines, he said that the final decision on the same has not been taken.

Reflecting back on the volatile calender year 2020, the governor explained that liquidity inducing measures have attained their desired objectives.

In addition, the Reserve Bank has decided to bring the 26 stressed sectors identified by the K.V. Kamath Committee under the ambit of on-tap targeted long-term repo operation (TLTRO).

The measure has been adopted under its regulatory and development policies which are independent of the MPC.

So far five sectors were eligible for the scheme as announced on October 21, 2020.

The policy review, the last one for the calendar year 2020, garnered positive response from the markets and India Inc.

Reacting to the improved GDP growth forecast, the S&P BSE Sensex crossed the 45,000 mark for the first time ever.

It touched a new intraday record high of 45,033.19 points.

The NSE Nifty50, also touched a fresh record high of 13,250.30 points.

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