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Centre yet to ‘invent’ justification for Rafale, says Rahul Gandhi

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New Delhi, Oct 10:  After the Supreme Court sought details from the central government about the decision making process of the Rafale deal, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the “processes to justify his decision are yet to be invented”.

“The Supreme Court has asked for the #RAFALE decision making process. It’s quite simple really…

“The PM decided. The processes to justify his decision are yet to be invented. But work has begun.

“PS. In this connection, Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman) is leaving for France tonight,” Gandhi said in Twitter.

The opposition party has been relentlessly targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime over the India-France intergovernmental deal to buy 36 Rafale jets, announced “unilaterally” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Besides petitioning the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Central Vigilance Commission, the Congress has been pressing for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the controversial deal.

Earlier in the day, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph asked the government to furnish the details of the decision-making process.

Although, the court clarified that the information sought was not related to pricing or technical ability of the jets.

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Can Rahul’s Hinduism succeed where bogus secularism failed?

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It will be impossible to resist the temptation of attributing Congress gains in the three northern states to Rahul Gandhi’s demonstrative adoption of Hinduism. In some measure, that is. There are two ways of looking at it. It is a trick which worked. Or is it the enunciation of a line which has to be developed?

So effective has been the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) saffronisation of the atmosphere that even Communists shy away from discussing minorities. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has decided to build 10 Sun temples. Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav will build a Vishnu temple. There is, of course, the biggest temple of all to be built in Ayodhya.

If Rahul places his new-found religiosity on a creative track, he can trump the BJP on that count too. Absurd though it may sound, he can, under certain circumstances, bring Muslims around to the idea that the ailing Lucknow cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq has been consistently propagating. Even if the Supreme Court verdict goes in their favour, Muslims should, in an act of magnanimity, help build the Ram temple. This cannot be expected of a community which sees itself as an object of hate. But if Rahul’s is an all-inclusive Hinduism where all are equal, well, the terms of endearment can change.

Rahul’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, after all, had the Babri Masjid locks opened, an act which facilitated the temple movement. Rajiv promised “Ram Rajya” while inaugurating the 1989 election from Ayodhya. He allowed the bricklaying ceremony of the Ram temple on disputed land but asked officials to look the other way. He fell between stools. Gingerly flirting with Hinduism proved counter-productive. Rahul has come out overtly, causing some of us to smirk. How far will it go?

The Congress, as Rahul must know, was implacably opposed to the “Two Nation” theory — i.e., Hindus and Muslims constitute two distinct nations. Maulana Azad, President of the Congress from 1939 to 1945, had arrived at an agreement for an undivided India with the Cabinet Mission. He was unequivocal. “Partitioned India will be unadulterated Hindu Raj.”

It may have sounded rhetorical in the earlier years but where we have arrived is exactly what Azad had predicted. The Congress Working Committee meeting of June 3, 1947, accepted Mountbatten’s Partition plan. Why was Maulana Azad the only leader to have had serious misgiving? Frontier Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, wept. “You have thrown us to the wolves.” Only these two Doubting Thomases? All the others swallowed Partition hook, line and sinker? With some reluctance, even Mahatma Gandhi accepted Partition. At least this is what Azad writes in “India Wins Freedom”.

An endorsement of Mountbatten’s plan to divide India implied that the two-nation theory had been accepted. The creation of Pakistan was one step in that direction. Just as the neighbour was called Pakistan, could we not have been named Hindustan? In reality, we glided seamlessly from British Raj to Hindu Raj but, ridden by a guilty conscience, hesitated to spell it out. It is this hesitation which created room for the BJP to step in and grow.

If I were a Hindu, I would ask, as the late Vinod Mehta, my friend of 60 years, asked me in his Nizamuddin apartment: “800 years of Muslim rule, 200 years of the British and next door there is now a Muslim state. Against this backdrop, would you grudge me a Hindu state?”

Volumes would have to be written to focus on the nuances embedded in Vinod’s query but for purposes of a quick column this may be the appropriate moment to touch on issues now that the Indian National Congress has, with unprecedented honesty, embraced its Hindu credentials. And on current showing, the switch has been accepted by the people.

Nehru would have been uncomfortable with “Hindu Raj” for a variety of reasons, but the overriding reason for keeping aside “Hindu Raj” was realpolitik: What principle would then be cited to keep Kashmir?

When the founding fathers charted a course of neutrality, tolerance, respect for all religions without priviledging any one of them, they had probably not taken into account the crucial reality: A multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual society frozen for centuries in a caste system, suddenly exposed to notions of democracy, upward mobility egalitarianism would create upheavals. A society inherently unequal was being set on a path of equality. The way ahead had to be unspeakably turbulent.

Add to this the following: The world’s largest minority and third-largest Muslim population which had no role in the creation of Pakistan found itself unable to produce that certificate of nationalism which is not available without a compulsive hatred for Pakistan. This hatred, tied with the televised image of Kashmiris as terrorists and Indian Muslims as a potential fifth column is a lethal mix, custom-made for a societal wreck, which is what we are today.

How can Rahul calm this cauldron? By deftly upping the ante for the BJP? While the Hindutva brigade is busy changing names of lanes and culverts, should he sail above the BJP? Should he insert in the Congress manifesto “Hindustan” as the official name to replace the ambivalence of “India that is Bharat”?

All of this flounders against the logic that Muslims and other minorities may not be comfortable with the overt Hinduisation of a party which has so far pretended to stand on a secular platform. There is an abundance of warped minds who are obstinately attached to labels like secularism without critically examining where this bogus secularism has landed them.

I constantly give the example of a society like Britain. Christianity is the official religion. This fact has not stood in the way of Sadiq Khan being the Mayor of London, Sajid Javed the Home Secretary and Moeen Ali as a regular man of the match and so on. This is not because the Anglo Saxon is inherently secular. This is so because the rule of law prevails, resulting in social harmony.

The Sachar Committee report on the socio-economic condition of Muslims was bad enough. In 70 years they have been brought down to the lowest rung. Hysterical focus by the electronic media on Pakistan, Kashmir and, by inference, Indian Muslims, has fouled up the atmosphere so much as to justify the Washington Post headline “Modi’s India is a living nightmare for Muslims”.

The results from the three northern states will serve as a balm. Let Rahul build upon it.

(A senior commentator on political and diplomatic affairs, Saeed Naqvi can be reached on [email protected] The views expressed are personal.)

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Ashok Gehlot takes oath as Rajasthan CM, Sachin Pilot as his Deputy

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Jaipur, Dec 17: Veteran Congress leader Ashok Gehlot on Monday sworn-in as the Rajasthan Chief Minister, while Party state president Sachin Pilot as the Deputy Chief Minister.

Governor Kalyan Singh administered the oath of office to Gehlot and Pilot at Albert Hall here.

Gehlot took oath as Chief Minister for the third time, Pilot for the first time as Deputy Chief Minister.

Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress President Rahul Gandhi attended the event.

Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Congress leader Mallikarjun Khadge, former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, DMK working President M.K. Stalin, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and opposition leaders from across the country gathered in Rajasthan for the swearing-in ceremony.

Raje also extended her greetings to Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot.

“Congratulate Shri @ashokgehlot51 ji and Shri @SachinPilot on taking oath as Chief Minister and Dy. Chief Minister of #Rajasthan. I wish you the best,” she tweeted.

The Congress bagged 99 seats of the 199 in the Rajasthan Assembly, just one short of the halfway mark to form the government. However, it has the support of the BSP which won six seats.

In the recently held polls, the  BJP settled for 73 seats.

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Stalin proposes Rahul as PM candidate to defeat ‘fascist’ Modi

He said Rahul Gandhi had the capability to defeat the “fascist” Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We will strengthen Rahul Gandhi’s hands.”

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File Pic (DMK Stalin Sonia Rahul Kani Raju)

Chennai, Dec 16 : Putting an end to lingering speculation, DMK President M.K. Stalin on Sunday proposed the name of Congress President Rahul Gandhi for the post of Prime Minister and said he had the strength to defeat the “fascist” Narendra Modi.

He made the announcement at a public rally here in the presence of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Chief Ministers N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala) and V. Narayanasamy (Puducherry) and leaders of several other parties.

“I propose, we will install a new Prime Minister in Delhi. I propose the candidature of Rahul Gandhi from Tamil Nadu,” Stalin said.

He said Rahul Gandhi had the capability to defeat the “fascist” Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We will strengthen Rahul Gandhi’s hands.”

The public meeting was held after Sonia Gandhi unveiled former Chief Minister and DMK President M. Karunanidhi’s bronze statute installed at the DMK headquarters Anna Arivalayam in Chennai.

Stalin said it was Karunanidhi who first welcomed late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to provide a stable government and then urged Sonia Gandhi to lead the nation in 2004 and added that he was following his leader’s steps in proposing Rahul Gandhi to lead the nation.

“Twenty-one political parties have come together against Modi and more parties will join,” Stalin said.

Coming down heavily on Modi, the DMK leader said: “Modi is a sadist Prime Minister. He is implementing all the schemes opposed by Tamil Nadu.”

Stalin said when the Gaja cyclone killed about 65 persons and left a trail of destruction in Tamil Nadu, Modi remained silent.

On the other hand, Modi tweeted if there was a forest fire in the US and a terror attack somewhere else, he said.

According to Stalin, under the Modi government, India’s economy, social justice, federal structure and various institutions have been destroyed.

“India has gone back by 15 years during the first five years of Modi rule. The country will go back by 50 years if he gets another term,” Stalin said.

Modi considered himself as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Income Tax Department (IT) and even the Supreme Court.

Addressing the rally, Rahul Gandhi showered praise on Karunanidhi and said: “Karunanidhi was not an ordinary politician. He was the voice of Tamil people. Whether it was people’s pain or their joy, Karunanidhi treated both as his own.

“While Karunandihi defended the voice of people and the institutions, the central government attacks the voice of Tamil Nadu and the institutions,” he said.

Gandhi said the Modi government believed that only one idea should run India.

“We are not going to allow the destruction of the idea of India. We are not going to allow the destruction of institutions like the Supreme Court, Election Commission, Reserve Bank of India and others. And we are going to do this together.”

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Naidu accused the central government of misusing various institutions said the next danger the country faced was the tampering of electronic voting machines (EVM).

Naidu said the BJP government had belied the people’s faith when they voted for it in 2014.

Sonia Gandhi described Karunanidhi as a social reformer and said he relentlessly fought for federalism.

She said Karunanidhi brought in laws that enabled non-Brahmins to become temple priests in the state and reserved jobs for women.

“A secularist and rationalist, Karunanidhi respected other religions,” she said.

She said the Congress would always remember Karunanidhi’s support to Indira Gandhi in the abolition of privy purse and nationalisation of banks.

“He was a great support and strength for the UPA government in 2004-14.”

Sonia Gandhi said the mutual support between the DMK and Congress that existed when Karunanidhi was alive would continue “to protect the India that we have known”.

The Chief Ministers of Kerala and Puducherry praised Karunanidhi on the occasion.

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