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Is Modi the only charismatic leader left?

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Narenra MODI

BJP seems to be on a victory march which is sharper, faster and more prominent than it was during 2014 Parliamentary elections. In the recent bypoll election in Delhi’s Rajouri Garden, Aam Aadmi party candidate Jarnail Singh even lost his deposit which should be a wakeup call for the entire opposition in general and AAP in particular which also harbours national ambitions.

It’s not the ideal time for the opposition when BJP and her affiliates are emerging victorious in almost every election and bypoll and the defeat of AAP candidate should be seen in this context as it literally translates into the demise of competitive politics in the country. Democracy and the entire democratic system is in danger to become irrelevant on account of inactivity and lack of enthusiasm among opposition in India.

The rise of right wing BJP in the country is explicitly linked to the failure of opposition at the centre as well as in almost every state in offering the good leadership and the governance. It’s obvious that the opposition is weaker and vulnerable than what it was in 2014 as it failed to check the band wagon of Bhagwa brigade and couldn’t capture the imagination of youth because of the lack of alternatives.

The electronic as well as the print media have projected Narendra Modi as the Knight in the shining armour on the Indian political scene after a relative vacuum in the leadership became apparent in 2011.Most of the parties at centre as well as in states were mired in one or another controversy and BJP went on winning election after election without pushing themselves too much and they didn’t do anything extraordinary or out of box to woo the ordinary voters.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won a thumping majority on the strength of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s clinching the all important Indo-US civil nuclear deal or 123 agreement which gave India a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2008 that paved the way for India to trade in civil nuclear fuel and technology. This was a rare geostrategic victory for India which facilitated an exemption from the Non Proliferation Treaty(NPT).

It was an achievement for the Congress led coalition Govt as well as a personal high point for the simple but persuasive skills of diminutive Manmohan Singh. The slide of Congress party began immediately after this as the party got involved in multiple controversies but they kept on denying about it. Narendra Modi saw this as an opportunity and came out with the slogans like “Achhe Din” and “Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikash” which appealed to the masses and the first time voters.

While the Congress was losing its vote share and was in complete state of denial about it, there was one man, who we all know as the Prime Minister of India today was weaving his own magic in Gujarat to the youngsters who wanted change and development. The media also played a pivotal role in projecting Modi as larger than life and his “Gujarat model” was described as panacea for all the ills affecting the system. It also became crystal clear that Mr Modi is PM in waiting when his Independence Day speech was immediately telecast after the speech of outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Let’s take the case of UP assembly elections in March this year that saw political bigwigs in the fray. Akhilesh Yadav, the former chief minister of UP, did not start the election campaign on a winning note as the infighting in the Yadav clan left the voters confused and highly demoralized. His open public spat with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal cost him his traditional Yadav-Muslim vote bank that moved to BJP for as a better option. His pre-poll alliance with the Congress party didn’t find any takers and was thoroughly rejected since Samajwadi party had failed miserably on all counts of governance during their five year stint.

The BJP had a landslide victory in UP because of the excellent social engineering done by the party President Amit Shah who positioned his outfit as a party with a difference ,that is a party which does not practice nepotism and corruption. There was also an impression among the voters that it would be better if both the parties ruling at the centre and state level are the same for the better coordination and synergy.

With arrival of Modi on the national political horizon, it appears that people have started reposing their faith in the rule of one party over an unstable and fragmented multi party coalition as they consider the Govt of a single party more stable. This is an aberration from the 1990s, a phase when politics of India was shaped by 3Ms mandir, mandal and markets and as a result the secular parties had a field day. Now only time will tell if other political parties make a comeback or not but till then we need to wait and watch.

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Once dreaded ‘queen of outlaws’ Phoolan now a ‘veerangana’

Phoolan Devi emerged as an icon for the Nishad community (boatmen) but after her brutal death in 2001, the community was not given adequate representation by political parties.

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phoolan devi Bandit Queen

Bandit queen-turned-politician Phoolan Devi has been conferred the title of ‘veerangana’ (a brave warrior) by the Eklavya Welfare Society in Jalaun district.

Phoolan’s native village Garha Ka Purwa is located in Jalaun district and the Eklavya Welfare Society represents the Nishad community to which Phoolan belonged.

“The title of Veerangna has been conferred on Phoolan Devi because she was a true warrior — she fought for her honour and later, for the welfare of the oppressed.

“She deserves her and the young generations need to be told about her contribution. We will soon install her statue here,” said Gopalm Nishad, a member of the Eklavya Welfare Society.

Phoolan Devi, a bandit in the ravines across Uttar Pradesh and present Chhattisgarh and also Madhya Pradesh, had hit the headlines when she massacred 22 Thakurs in Behmai in Kanpur in February 1981 to avenge her sexual exploitation by a Thakur gang led by Lala Ram and Sri Ram.

In 1994, then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh withdrew the cases against Phoolan and she contested and won the Lok Sabha elections from Mirzapur in 1996 on a Samajwadi Party ticket.

Phoolan Devi emerged as an icon for the Nishad community (boatmen) but after her brutal death in 2001, the community was not given adequate representation by political parties.

The Nishad community constitutes about 4.5 per cent of the state’s population and are known to be among the Most Backward Castes (MBC).

The Nishad community has a sizeable population in about 40 assembly segments. Since the past one decade, they are trying to be included in the Scheduled Caste’s category but their demand has been caught in legal hassles.

An attempt was made to install Phoolan’s statue in Gorakhpur in 2016 but the attempt was foiled by the district administration that claimed that requisite permission for same had not been obtained.

The issue had revived an intense caste war between OBCs and MBCs in Uttar Pradesh.

Last year, Phoolan’s mother, Moola Devi, 90, who still lives in the village in abject poverty, had released the Chambal Manifesto on the eve of Lok Sabha elections to press for development of the Chambal region.

The 4-page manifesto was a compilation of the demands for the region which included the formation of the Chambal Commission for a scientific study of the issues and challenges faced by the people living in Chambal region along with solutions.

More than 40 years after she picked up the gun and turned into a bandit, following a dispute over four bighas of land with her cousin Maya Din, Phoolan Devi’s family in her native village in Jalaun district is still waiting to reclaim that elusive piece of land.

Meanwhile, the land that was initially owned by Phoolan’s father, Devi Din Mallah, and after his death, it still eludes her mother Moola Devi as the rightful owner.

Maya Din, son of late Devi Din’s elder brother allegedly grabbed the plot and did not allow Phoolan’s mother to till the land. Maya Din claimed the land was passed on to him as legacy.

Moola Devi said, “My daughter Phoolan fought with Maya Din for this land. Maya Din and his men ridiculed her and hurled abuses at her. She got together some girls from the village and staged a dharna on the land. The village elders tried to remove her from the land but failed. Then Maya Din hurled a brick at her and she fell unconscious. After this, she became a ‘baaghi’ (rebel).”

It is said that Maya Din ‘sold’ her off to Lal Ram and Shri Ram — heads of a Thakur gang of dacoits — who not only raped her but also held her captive.

A few years later, Phoolan Devi fell in love with another dacoit Vikram Mallah, who was later killed by the Lala Ram and Shri Ram gang.

To avenge the wrong done to her by the Thakur gang, Phoolan Devi gradually built up her own gang and the rest, as they say, is history.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Theme, Date and history of the day

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. It is celebrated on December 3 all around the world. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

IDPD mobilizes support for critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities, promotes awareness-raising about disability issues and draws attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.

UN agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector are motivated to support IDPD by collaborating with organizations for people with disabilities to arrange events and activities.

International Day of People with Disability: Theme

The theme for IDPwD 2020 is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.

Every year the UN announces a theme to observe for International Day of People with Disability. The annual theme provides an overarching focus on how society can strive for inclusivity through the removal of physical, technological and attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities.

This has been occurring since 1992 when the General Assembly announced 3 December as the International Day of Disabled Persons.

National Disability Strategy 2010–2020

In Australia, the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 commits all governments to a nationwide approach aimed at improving the lives of disabled people, their families and carers.

The Strategy’s ten-year national framework for reform concentrates on better inclusion for people with disabilities and seeks to create a society that enables people with disabilities to fulfill their potential as equal citizens.

On the 2012 International Day of People with Disability, the United Kingdom government introduced mandatory work for disabled people who received welfare benefits in order to “Improve disabled peoples chances of getting work by mandatory employment”.

A program is also launched on December 3 across India to serve the differently-able community of the country as an initiative called Accessible India Campaign under the Article 9 of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

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BJP leaders brainstorm for second day, say govt ready for talks with farmers

Union Home Minister Amit Shah met Agriculture Minister Narender Singh Tomar earlier in the day to discuss the strategy to break the logjam.

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Farmers on Protest

Eager to break the deadlock with famers who are agitating for scrapping the new farm laws, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership held meetings for a second consecutive day on Monday and sent out the message that the Union government is ready for talks.

Union home minister Amit Shah met Union minister for agriculture, NS Tomar earlier in the day to discuss the strategy to break the logjam. A senior party functionary said, “The message from the top is clear that the laws are not anti-farmers and that the farmers are being misled. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that laws will offer better opportunity for the farmers.”

The functionary said the government is ready to sit across the table and discuss the new laws and “address whatever concerns” the farmers have.

Speaking in Varanasi, the PM on Monday said the laws have given farmers new options and legal protection. He lashed out at the opposition for “misleading” the farmers and said earlier decisions of government were opposed now rumours have become the basis for opposition and propaganda is being served even though the laws favour the farmers.

The party has also opted for a cautious, measured response to the agitation. Even though it is pinning the blame on the opposition for provoking the protest, it is taking care not to rile the farmers. “The farmers are innocent. They are being misled by those with vested interests. The laws have barely been implemented and their impact is yet to be ascertained, so how can people rush to call these anti-farmers,” said Rajkuamr Chahar, head of the BJP’s Kisan Morcha.

He said the Punjab unit of the Morcha has been communicating with the farmers’ representatives and has relayed the government’s willingness to address their concerns.

On Monday, even as the party tried to diffuse the anger against the bills, its ally the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) joined the chorus for the rollback of the laws. Rajasthan lawmaker and RLP chief, Hanuman Beniwal, shot off a letter to Shah, seeking the reversal of the laws.

“….In view of the countrywide sentiment in support of the ongoing farmers’ movement, the recently introduced three bills related to agriculture should be immediately withdrawn. (The Centre must) implement all recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, and immediately hold dialogue with farmers in Delhi,” he said.

The BJP, however, played down the ally’s demand. Its national spokesperson on economic issues, Gopal Krishna Agarwal said, “We assure all, including our NDA partners that farmers’ well-being and welfare are in our heart. Large scale market reforms are needed and that has always been the consensus.”

He went on to add that while the BJP opposes misgivings about the APMC mandis being dismantled and MSP being withdrawn, the opposition is politicizing the issue along with the Arhtiyas (commission agents) and middleman.

“We have offered all the basic facilities to farmers, drinking water, toilets, shelters and medical facilities. They have been given permission to protest and also been invited for dialogue. We are open for all discussions on the merits or demerits of the three bills. If farmers have certain serious concerns, we are ready to listen to them,” he said.

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