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Exit polls indicate Congress issues of corruption, welfare may not have clicked

The BJP’s thrust on nationalism, performance and delivery seem to have scored heavily over the thrust of the Congress campaign to primarily target the Prime Minister and raising questions over economic issues.

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) The prediction by the exit polls about dismal performance by the Congress suggests that the party got it all wrong and the issues like the Rafale deal, NYAY, unemployment and alleged “arrogance” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised by it during the election campaign failed the impress the voters.

The exit poll results indicate that not only did it get the poll plank wrong, but it also made strategic mistakes like being late in stitching an alliance in Bihar and failing to be a part of the ‘gathbandhan’ of Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh, where the maximum number of 80 seats were at stake.A

The BJP’s thrust on nationalism, performance and delivery seem to have scored heavily over the thrust of the Congress campaign to primarily target the Prime Minister and raising questions over economic issues.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi repeatedly raised the issue of alleged corruption in Rafale fighter jet deal, unemployment and Modi government’s “attack’ on Constitutional institutions even as the Prime Minister kept changing tack to keep a fresh line of attack and set the narrative, with focus on nationalism and ‘strong government’.

Gandhi apparently believed he was eroding credibility of Modi but exit polls indicate that his strategy may not have succeeded and the issues apparently did not resonate at the grassroots level.

The Congress apparently could not set the narrative during the elections and did not come up with a sustained agitation on any of its favourite issues to chip at Modi’s “strong leader” image.

The party’s campaign against the Modi government on the Rafale deal was also hit when Gandhi misquoted the Supreme Court for which the top court forced him to apologise.

A Congress functionary acknowledged that the party’s campaign was damaged by Gandhi’s Aapology Ato the Supreme Court for wrongly attributing his “chowkidar chor hai” slogan to the court over his allegations of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal.

“It happened in the middle of the election campaign,” said the functionary, who did not want to be named. And the BJP used it appropriately in its favour.

An opposition leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Rahul Gandhi should not have endlessly referred to Modi as “chor” in reference to the Rafale deal as such remarks are not appreciated by people.

“I think he started too early with this kind of attack. He could have attacked Modi in other ways,” the leader said.

A Congress leader said that Uttar Pradesh appears to have remained a weak spot for the party as it was not part of ‘gathbandhan’ of Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtirya Lok Dal.

However, he said the party had no option but to fight alone as SP and BSP did not talk to Congress before announcing their alliance.

In Bihar, it was wrestling for seats between Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal which delayed announcement of alliance. The alliance was also riddled with fissures. RJD put up a candidate against Congress in a seat in Jharkhand and Congress General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed, who was later suspended, also entered the fray as an Independent from Madhubani.

Gandhi lay a lot of thrust on Nyay, an ambitious scheme which promises to provide Rs 72,000 every year per family to 20 per cent of country’s population but it was apparently undercut by PM-KISAN programme announced by the Modi government. The scheme Aprovides direct income support at Rs 6000 per year to vulnerable landholding farmer families.

While information about Nyay may not have effectively penetrated among the intended beneficiaries. A government ensured that instalment payment of Rs 2000 (due every four months) reached as many targeted people asA possible.

PM-Kisan was launched after BJP lost power in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and unhappiness among farmers was perceived to be one of the reasons for its losses.

Rahul Gandhi appointed his sister Priyanka Gandhi as general secretary in January but it appeared to be too close to the general election for her to make a decisive impact to party’s fortunes in the state.

After the exit polls, noted political commentator Yogendra Yadav tweeted last night: “The Congress must die. If it could not stop the BJP in this election to save the idea of India, this party has no positive role in Indian history. Today it represents the single biggest obstacle to creation of an alternative”.

In another tweet later, he said, “My expression ‘no positive role in Indian history’ may have caused some confusion. I cannot possibly deny the great role of Congress before and immediately after independence. What I meant was ‘no positive role left to perform in history anymore’. Stand by that.”

Congress leader P.C. Chacko said one would have to wait for results on May 23 to make any comment about the party’s performance.

“We not not know if predictions are true. There could be many contributing factors (if the party does not perform to its expectations). There are many other issues also. A The party will have to make an assessment ,” he said expressing his personal opinion.

He was asked if the party had relied too much on the Rafale deal issue and if non-inclusion in mahagathbandhan were contributing factors if the results are according to predictions of exit polls.

Chacko said that in five states including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Athe BJP should have gone down by 100 seats but they appear to have maintained their seats. “That was not expected,” he said.

Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha said the party was convinced that UPA will be ahead of NDA after the final results are counted on May 23.

“The key to the election is the silent voter of India who has chosen to not express himself or give a wilfully convenient popular response . The atmosphere of fear and insecurity in particular for those who belong to the marginalised communities and the minority sections is alarming,” he said.

“Thus, all exit polls appear terribly skewed. That’s why there are very divergent figures appearing from those sensitive states which have seen intense polarisation,” he added.

BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said every exit poll indicates the return of Prime Minister Modi heading a BJP-led NDA government for a second term and “it confirms that the voter approved his leadership, the performance of the past five years and the vision for the future”.

“On the other side, the opposition, in the absence of clarity about leadership and lack of a definitive agenda could only present a negative narrative of personal attacks . The reliance on falsely manufactured narratives also cannot cut ice where facts are to the contrary”, he said.

Exit polls released on Sunday predicted that the Congress will improve from its lowest tally of 44 seats it won in 2014 but not sufficiently enough to mark a revival at the national level.

According to predictions of several exit polls, Congress may not cross the three-digit mark.

The News 18-IPSOS poll predicted that the Congress will be barely able to improve its tally by two seats from its 2014 tally. Going by this prediction, the party would again not get Leader of Opposition status in the Lok Sabha.

Times Now-VMR poll predicted that Congress is likely to get 78 seats, while India TV predicted that the party would get 76 seats. NewsXNeta predicted that the party would get 107 seats.

Congress is the lead party of United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

The prediction for UPA numbers also suggest that Congress is not likely to do very well in the polls.

For UPA, the IANS-CVoter predicted 128 seats, Republic Bharat Jan ki Baat 124, News Nation 118-126, Times Now-VMR 142, India News-Polstrat 118, Sudarshan News 121, ABP-Neilsen 127, India Today 77-108, News 18-IPSOS 82, News 24-Today’s Chanakya 95+-9, NewsX Neta 165, Suvarna News 124+-2 and India TV-CNX 115-125.

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Farmers’ demonstrations in Delhi turn violent as protester clash with the police

Violence broke out in Delhi on Republic Day as protesters in farmers’ tractor rally marched into the national capital, breaking barricades and clashing with the police. The Delhi Police resorted to tear gas shells and lathi-charge to contain the situation. Deviating from the designated route, a section of farmers entered the Red Fort and hoisted flags

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Red Fort Farmers

Violence marred farmers’ tractor rally on Tuesday as protesters clashed with police at multiple places in Delhi and entered the iconic Red Fort.

Protesting farmers deviated from pre-decided routes, which prompted police personnel to resort to lathicharge and tear gas. Many cops were injured in the violence that broke out amid the 72nd Republic Day celebrations in India.

Protesting farmers at Delhi border points clashed with police early Tuesday morning as they broke barricades to force their way into the city much ahead of the time the cops had told them to enter. Thousands of farmers entered Delhi from Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points amid heavy deployment of police.

Delhi Police had on Sunday allowed the tractor rally after the annual Republic Day parade. The protesters were told they can’t disrupt the celebrations at Rajpath even as the farmers insisted their parade will be “peaceful”.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November 28, demanding a repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP (minimum support price) and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

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West Bengal one of the most dynamic states of India: Moroccan Ambassador

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Mohamed Maliki

Kolkata, Jan 25 : Mohamed Maliki, Morocco’s Ambassador to India, shared the vision behind opening an Honorary Consulate in West Bengal, consolidating bilateral ties with India in the years to come.

Edited excerpts:

Q. What are the reasons behind opening an Honorary Consulate in West Bengal and how important is this for the bilateral relations?

A. India is a vast territory, almost a continent, with a large colourful diversity in terms of culture, traditions and languages, resulting in providing huge economic capabilities and opportunities, among other things. The State of West Bengal remains one of the most dynamic states of India with a sound economy. It is to be recalled here that the capital city of this state, Kolkata, was also the Capital of India from 1772 until 1911. It was and still is one of the oldest and important centres for trade in the Indian sub-continent. With the steady and positive development, in recent years, the relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of India had been undergoing, it was quite important to find new levers capable of enlarging the scope of cooperation between the two countries. In this perspective, reinforcing the cooperation between Morocco and other important states and regions of India presented serious advantages to take the bilateral relations to higher levels by creating new opportunities. Therefore, opening an Honorary Consulate in West Bengal became almost a natural step to focus on in this regard.

Once this idea ripened, it was not quite difficult to find the right person to occupy this post for the first time in West Bengal, in the person of Rashmi Chowdhary, who belongs to a well-established industrial family, which has developed close ties with Morocco. Known to be a dedicated woman in whatever she undertakes, combined to many other assets, the Moroccan competent authorities found it quite easy to approve her appointment as the first ever Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Morocco in Kolkata.

This new Office will certainly contribute in developing better understanding about Morocco to the people of West Bengal by projecting its rich cultural heritage, its civilisation of not least than 12 centuries and by enhancing more economic cooperation and encouraging more bilateral investments between the West Bengal and different regions of Morocco.

Q. What are your incentives on the positive evolution of the bilateral ties between India and Morocco, especially in the Covid-19 era?

A. The relations between the Morocco and India go to centuries back and have always been excellent and based on mutual understanding and respect. The diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1957, that is one year after the independence of Morocco, from French protectorate. The relations have deepened even more in recent years, especially after the historical visit of King of Morocco to India, in October 2015, and his memorable meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which both the leaders decided to elevate Morocco-India relationship to a new level of a genuine Strategic Partnership.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the cooperation between Rabat and New Delhi has increased. In fact, Morocco was able to purchase six million Hydroxychloroquine tablets from India, in May 2020. This helped the country not only to fight against the pandemic, but also to extend its support to many African countries by offering medicines and medical equipments as a gesture of solidarity and good will. Also, Morocco was among the very first countries to avail of the vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India, following the directly negotiated deal concluded on a commercial basis between the two parties.

Q. The bilateral trade witnessed a steady growth between India and Morocco to reach USD 2 billion in 2019. What needs to be done to increase the bilateral exchange to encourage more investments from both sides?

A. If Morocco-India political relations are excellent and are constantly being reinforced, it has been noticed that the bilateral trade did not benefit from this considerable advantage and did not grow as it should have, given the potentials that exist in both countries. Despite the encouraging fact that the bilateral exchanges have registered an average of US $1.6 billion yearly for the last decade to hit a new record during the year 2019 by reaching US $2 billion, it doesn’t reflect the ambitions the two countries have, especially that Morocco hopes to see India among its top 15 economic partners by 2025.

This ambition has been reiterated and underlined by the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both countries, during the bilateral consultations they held on the October 23, 2020, and during which a special focus has been given to the development of the economic relations and the facilitation of business opportunities. That is why, the opening of this Consulate in West Bengal constitutes an important step towards achieving this objective.

I would like to recall, in this regard, that India remains the largest receiver of Moroccan public investment in Asia, especially in the fertilizer and pharmaceutical sectors. Likewise, in the last four years, the number of Indian companies in Morocco has doubled. They cover many sectors, which were, till recently, a kind of privileged areas for Moroccan companies and their partners mainly from Europe, such as construction, pharmaceuticals, automotive, water and soda bottling, chemicals, IT, health, tourism, hospitality and others.

It is also important to mention that in order to give a real impetus to their economic relations, the Indian and Moroccan Governments signed and MoU in February 2019 facilitating the visa process for their respective business communities. As a result, business people of both countries have been granted a longer validity for their entry visas to both countries.

Q. Have you had dialogue with Indian policymakers to enter the trade zone near Tanger-Med Port as the area is emerging as a promising business hub in Morocco?

A. Everyone knows that business people look more for political stability, ease of doing business, economic reforms, cost of production, incentives provided by countries to foreign investors, including freedom of profit transfer and the availability of world class infrastructures such as new generation ports and airports and competitive logistic hubs.

The port of Tanger-Med has become, in few years, the first port in processing containers in the Mediterranean region. It has imposed itself as a global logistics hub, located on the Strait of Gibraltar and connected, so far, to 186 global ports in different corners of the world, including many ports in India.

Few Indian companies already have their industrial units in the free industrial zone of Tanger-Med in few sectors like the fibre-optics, textile and plastic industry. Others are considering seriously to have a presence there. The Indian users will also benefit from the strategic location of Morocco at the crossroad of Africa, Europe and the Arab world. This port could be a platform for India towards these regions and especially Africa, in which India is ambitious to have a more important presence both in terms of investments and bilateral trade. But Tanger-Med is only one among other logistic, industrial hubs and free zones in Morocco. Few others are also coming-up especially in the southern provinces of Morocco, such as the Atlantic Port of Dakhla.

Q. Are there any joint ventures in the health sector between Morocco and India, following the Covid-19 outbreak?

A. Well, one of the pillars on which the Strategic Partnership between India and Morocco is built is the health sector. The specificity is that the cooperation in the health sector between the two countries was not dictated by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was discussed, decided and implemented a few years back.

During a Ministerial visit to India, an agreement was signed by the Governments of the two countries to enhance cooperation in several areas of health sector, namely in the non-communicable diseases, including child cardiovascular diseases and cancer, drug regulation and pharmaceutical quality control, communicable diseases and maternal, child and neonatal health. This agreement also includes other areas of cooperation such as hospital twinning for exchange of good practices and training in administration and management of health services. During the same occasion, a MoU related to the cooperation in the field of telemedicine was signed between the Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research in Puducherry in India and the Mohamed VI University Hospital in Marrakech in Morocco. One of the focus areas under this MoU is the technical support in controlling epidemics.

This is to say that the contact between the Indian and Moroccan health officials was persistent and uninterrupted even before the Covid-19 outbreak. This dynamic did not benefit only to the public sector but to the private sector too and looks for opportunities within these frameworks. A number of Indian leading companies in the pharmaceutical industry, like Sun Pharma and Cipla, have also chosen Morocco to expand their activities. It is worth mentioning that the Indian business community, particularly in the medicine sector, has become well-informed and conscious about the advantages of having a footprint in Morocco because of the easiness in doing business and in facilitating market access for all regions of Africa and Europe as well. I must add that big names in the global pharmaceutical industry are progressively looking at Morocco as one of the best industrial hubs in Africa and in the Arab world.

–IANS

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Why Chinese involvement in financial frauds in India is alarming

G.K. Goswami Inspector General ATS said Xu Xunfu’s business visa had expired in July 2020, while Li Teng Li’s tourist visa expired in September 2020.

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financial frauds

New Delhi, Jan 25 : Within a span of 15 days, two major financial fraud cases involving Chinese nationals have come to the forefront. Soon after the Delhi Police unearthed a transnational malware and fraud syndicate and arrested two Chinese women in a gang of 12 in multiple raids starting January 13, two Chinese have been caught by the UP ATS from Noida for fraudulent monetary transactions.

UP ATS arrested two Chinese citizens in money laundering case, fraudulently  carrying fake SIM card - The India Print : theindiaprint.com, The Print
Two Chinese nationals arrested by UP ATS for money laundering worth crores

This is cause for alarm as it raises apprehensions that multiple Chinese syndicates have been operating within the country to cheat and defraud Indian citizens and capture personal data of unsuspecting people for illegitimate purposes.

When it arrested Chinese nationals Chaohong Deng Daoyong, 27 and Wu Jiazhi, 54, the Delhi Police said the accused were installing malware in devices of people in the garb of a multi-level marketing application.

Police said that around 40,000 confirmed victims have been identified who have been cheated of crores in two months. Almost Rs 4.75 crores of cheated money has been blocked in various accounts and more than Rs. 25 lakhs recovered in cash from the arrested Chinese nationals.

“The malicious app was also making millions of Indian users follow thousands of social media accounts of unknown origin and ownership, with huge potential of future misuse of this by a foreign entity,” said Anyesh Roy, DCP Crime Crime.

Now the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (UPATS) has arrested Xu Xunfu a.k.a July and Li Teng Li a.k.a Alice from Gautam Buddha Nagar, following a red corner notice against them by the Interpol.

Additional Director General (law and order) Prashant Kumar said, “The UPATS arrested the two for purchasing SIM cards by submitting forged documents and then making fraudulent monetary transactions with those SIMs via banks. It is for the first time that the ATS has arrested Chinese nationals.”

He further said, “We traced the duo after interrogating 14 persons arrested last week from Delhi and different parts of Uttar Pradesh in a similar fraud.”

G.K. Goswami Inspector General ATS said Xu Xunfu’s business visa had expired in July 2020, while Li Teng Li’s tourist visa expired in September 2020.

The Delhi Police have also hinted two Chinese nationals Yangqing Zhang and Bao Peng , are the kingpins of this criminal conspiracy to cheat and defraud Indian citizens and hack into their devices through malicious mobile applications. This is a serious concern as kingpins of Chinese origin are hatching the conspiracy from locations outside India

Not just financial frauds but alleged Chinese involvement have also been claimed by Delhi police in a spying case as on September 14 last year, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police had arrested 61-year-old freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, for allegedly working with Chinese intelligence.

During Sharma’s police remand, a Chinese woman Qing Shi and her Nepalese partner Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra were also arrested. They were allegedly found supplying the scribe with huge amounts of money routed through hawala channels for conveying sensitive information to Chinese Intelligence, DCP Special Cell Sanjeev Yadav had said.

This is why the Indian Police force in a coordinated manner is keeping extra vigil on the working of these fraudster syndicates involving Chinese nationals.

(Zafar Abbas could be reached at [email protected])

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