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Myth of Modi-RSS rift: They remain very much on same page



Modi RSS

The emphatic victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand assembly polls has brought the partys relationship with its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), back in focus.

One key question for which an answer has been sought ever since Narendra Modi led the BJP to power in 2014 is whether it is Modi who dominates the RSS or vice-versa?

Some political observers have been predicting that Modi will now dominate the RSS. Others feel that with the Prime Minister and his protégé Amit Shah being in full command of the BJP and leading it to one victory after the other, it is the beginning of the end of the RSS’ influence on the BJP.

This is patently untrue.

The answers to these questions lie to some extent in the organisational structure of the BJP and the RSS. But before we go into this, it would be pertinent to point out that those who are raising such questions are starting this narrative on the premise that Modi and the RSS are at loggerheads with each other. The fact is that Modi and RSS have been on the same page, especially since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The RSS’ learning from its experience during Atal Behari Vajpayee’s earlier BJP regime has ensured that it does not get involved in the micro-management of either the party or the government. The top RSS brass and the Modi-Shah duo have been communicating with each other almost every day, discussing crucial policy and organisational issues. The RSS has largely given a free hand to Modi and Shah and they have responded well by appointing people with strong RSS backgrounds in key positions within the government and the BJP.

An important example of the RSS and Modi being on the same page is the priority given to the north-east by the Prime Minister.

For the RSS, expanding its footprint and strengthening its influence in the north-east is top of its agenda. It feels that conversion of Hindus into Christianity has changed the demographics of this region, resulting in a threat to India’s territorial integrity and this trend needs to be reversed. More than 4,000 RSS pracharaks (full-time workers) have been deployed in the region alone.

Modi’s first official domestic visit outside Delhi as Prime Minister was to the north-east. No other Prime Minister has visited north-eastern states so many times in such a short span after assuming office as Modi has. In most of the central government ministries, projects in north-eastern states are being pushed vigorously.

Organisationally, Ram Madhav, an RSS Pracharak, has been given charge of the north-east. The results are visible. The BJP has made strong inroads into the region. It has formed governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam — and now in Manipur. The party is hopeful of wresting other states in the near future.

Now, if one looks at the organisational structure of the BJP, one would realise how intrinsically the RSS and BJP are linked. Both at the national level and the state level, the second-most important post in BJP units, after the President’s, is that of an “Organising Secretary”.

These posts are manned exclusively by RSS Pracharaks. The Organising Secretary has the last word when it comes to organisational issues. He would sit in all crucial meetings and is part of the decision-making process at every level. In bigger state units like Uttar Pradesh, as well as at the national level, the Organising Secretary is assisted by several deputies. All of them are RSS full-timers. They generally look after the BJP affairs in states allocated to them.

To make this clearer, let us look at the case of Sunil Bansal, the Organising Secretary of the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit. Bansal played a key role in the 2014 victory of the BJP in the state. He was the Man Friday of BJP President Amit Shah. At that time he was “Assistant Organising Secretary (Sah Sangathan Mantri)”. He was elevated to the post of Organising Secretary after his stellar role in the BJP’s performance in 2014. In 2017, he played a key role in delivering the state to the BJP.

In Uttarakhand, a similar role has been played by another RSS full-timer, Shiv Prakash, who is an Assistant Organising Secretary at the national level. He assists the BJP Organising Secretary Ram Lal, who is also an RSS Pracharak.

If one looks at the Modi’s ministers, almost three-fourths have been committed RSS cadres. Before being drafting to the BJP, senior ministers like J.P. Nadda, Rajnath Singh, Narendra Singh Tomar, Manohar Parrikar, Nitin Gadkari and Prakash Javadekar have been part of the RSS. They were all handpicked by Modi.

The Chief Ministers picked by Modi such as Devendra Fadnavis (Maharashtra), M.L. Khattar (Haryana) and Raghubar Das (Jharkhand) have all been committed RSS workers.

Thus there is not going to be any shift in the balance of power within the Sangh Parivar as the Modi-Shah duo and the RSS top brass are not competing with each other — they are rather complementing each other. The recent poll results are the outcome of this synergy — and Modi, Shah and the RSS realise it well.

By Arun Anand

(The writer is the author of the book, “Know About RSS”. He can be reached at [email protected])


Global sell-off drags Indian equities to 5-month lows




Mumbai, March 24 : A global sell-off triggered by trade protectionist measures imposed by major world economies unleashed the bears in the Indian equity markets during the week, pushing the key indices — NSE Nifty50 and BSE Sensex — to their 5-month lows.

Apart from the prospects of escalating trade wars, the risk-taking appetite of investors was marred by rising crude oil prices, the ongoing turmoil in the domestic banking system as well as the uncertainty on the political situation in the country.

On a weekly basis, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE shed 579.46 points or 1.75 per cent to close at 32,596.54 points — its lowest closing level since October 23, 2017.

On the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the wider Nifty50 ended below the psychologically important 10,000-mark and closed trade at 9,998.05 points — down 197.1 points or 1.93 per cent from its previous week’s close — its lowest closing level since October 11, 2017.

“Benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty fell 1.75 per cent and 1.93 per cent respectively during the week, posting their longest stretch of weekly losses in 16 months as the domestic market joined a global sell-off triggered by prospects of a trade war,” Arpit Jain, Assistant Vice President at Arihant Capital Markets, told IANS.

According to D.K. Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of SMC Investments and Advisors, the global stock market traded lower after US President Donald Trump announced sweeping tariffs on Chinese goods, a move that has heightened concerns that the global trade war will escalate.

“Back at home, dragged by escalating trade tensions among global economies, the Indian stock market too witnessed selling pressure amid other domestic factors. Since the beginning of the year domestic market witnessed some hiccups on the back of imposition of LTCG (long term capital gains) tax, liquidity issues, rising bond yields and volatile global markets,” Aggarwal told IANS.

“Also, a surge in crude oil prices impacted the market sentiment. The Indian rupee, too, witnessed a volatile move ahead of Fed rate-hike and global trade war concerns,” he added.

On the currency front, the rupee weakened by eight paise to close at 65.01 against the US dollar from its previous week’s close at 64.93.

“Sentiments were affected by rising crude oil prices, bond yields and a troubled domestic banking system. Uncertainty around the political situation in the country added to the woes, and collectively dragged the sentiment across the street,” Gaurav Jain, Director at Hem Securities, told IANS.

Provisional figures from the stock exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors purchased scrips worth Rs 2,524.13 crore and the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) scrips worth Rs 211.91 crore during the week.

Figures from the National Securities Depository (NSDL) revealed that foreign portfolio investors invested in equities worth Rs 2,060.04 crore, or $316.99 million, during March 19-23.

“The market breadth was negative in three out of the five trading sessions of the week. The top sectoral losers were realty, metal, Bank Nifty and pharma indices. There were no gainers,” said Deepak Jasani, Head – Retail Research, HDFC Securities.

The top weekly Sensex gainers were: NTPC (up 2.90 per cent at Rs 170.15); IndusInd Bank (up 1.36 per cent at Rs 1,750.20); Power Grid (up 1.04 per cent at Rs 194.25); Hindustan Unilever (up 0.05 per cent at Rs 1,299.75); and Larsen and Toubro (up 0.01 per cent at Rs 1,267.75).

The losers were: Yes Bank (down 8.37 per cent at Rs 286.70); ICICI Bank (down 7.48 per cent at Rs 275.80); State Bank India (down 7.13 per cent at Rs 234.60); Tata Steel (down 5.65 per cent at Rs 566.60); and Axis Bank (down 4.29 per cent at Rs 501).

(Porisma P. Gogoi can be contacted at [email protected])

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24% scheme performance indicators of Delhi government ‘off track’



Manish Sisodia

An average 23.7 per cent of output and outcome indicators for various programmes and schemes of the Delhi government departments were “off track” till December last year, analysis of a report tabled in the Delhi Assembly on Wednesday suggested.

The 23.7 per cent of indicators were off track for schemes and programmes of 14 major departments, including Health, Social Welfare and Education, for which funds were allocated in the Delhi Budget 2017-18, according to an IANS analysis of Status Report of the Outcome Budget 2017-18.

The Status Report was presented by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

In the report, the indicators — output and outcome of schemes and programmes — of a department were used to denote whether their schemes were on or off track. Here off track implies the performance or progress of indicators of major schemes of a particular department (till December 2017) was less than 70 per cent of the expected progress.

With 45 per cent indicators off track, the Public Works Department’s schemes performed worst, followed by the Transport Department and the Environment Department, each having 40 per cent of indicators for schemes off track.

The departments whose schemes performed well include the Directorate of Education with 89 per cent indicators of schemes on-track, followed by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) with 87 per cent schemes on track and the Delhi Jal Board with 82 per cent programmes on track.

Sisodia said that idea behind the Outcome Budget was to bring a high degree of accountability and transparency in public spending.

The Outcome Budget, which coveres 34 departments of the government, was termed as the “first of its kind” in the country.

Citing an example of Mohalla Clinics, Sisodia said a regular budget tells only about the money allocated for the construction of clinics, while Outcome Budget is about the number of clinics built and the number of people expected to benefit from it.

The Outcome Budget measures each scheme using two indices: output and outcome.

The infrastructure created or services offered due to spending on a particular scheme is termed as output, whereas the number of people benefited and how is termed as outcome.

(Nikhil M. Babu can be contacted at [email protected])

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Will Drabu’s ouster impact PDP-BJP alliance in J&K?

While even Mehbooba’s political adversaries, including the National Conference President, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, have welcomed her decision, her allies in the BJP are not happy at all about her decision.



Jammu, March 15 : The decision by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to drop Haseeb Drabu from her council of ministers for his remarks at a business meet in Delhi is being hotly debated in political circles – especially what its consequences could be on the state’s PDP-BJP ruling coalition.

By doing what she has done, the Chief Minister has proved that she is prepared take political risks — and taking her for granted is something her colleagues and allies should learn not to do.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders were aghast after Drabu, who was the Finance Minister, was quoted as telling a meeting organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi that Kashmir was not a political problem and a conflict state but a “social problem”. He said this while seeking investments in the state from businessmen and saying the conditions in the state were conducive to business “where you will find some very interesting opportunities” not just to make money but also to have “a lot of fun and enjoy yourselves”.

PDP Vice President Sartaj Madni had said this was something which negated the very existence of the PDP because it is the firm belief of the party that Kashmir is political problem that needed political remedies to resolve.

Interestingly, instead of voices being raised in Drabu’s favour by his own party men, leaders of the PDP’s coalition unlikely partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seem to be more worried about the decision to drop him.

Some senior BJP leaders have rushed to Delhi to discuss the development and its fallout on the ruling coalition with the central leadership of the party.

How important Drabu had been for the PDP was proved not once, but many times in the past. The late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed trusted him to work out the terms of the agenda of alliance with BJP National Secretary Ram Madhav that finally paved the way for the present PDP-BJP coalition.

“Mufti Sahib always loved him and would overlook what some of his party men would say about Drabu Sahib,” said a PDP insider, not wishing to be identified.

In a letter released to the media after he was dropped from the cabinet, Drabu expressed sorrow for not being told by the Chief Minister or her office about the decision to drop him.

“I read it on the website of daily ‘Greater Kashmir’. I tried to call the Chief Minister, but was told she was busy and would call back. I waited, but my call was never returned,” he rued.

He also said in his letter that he had been quoted out of context by the media and that he what he had said was that Kashmir is not only a political problem, but that “we must also look beyond this”, Drabu clarified.

Sayeed made Drabu his economic advisor during his 2002 chief ministerial tenure and later made him the chairman of the local Jammu and Kashmir Bank. In fact, Drabu became the point man between the PDP and the BJP after the 2014 assembly elections.

The problem is that many PDP leaders had of late started saying that Drabu was more of “Delhi’s man in Kashmir rather than Kashmir’s man in Delhi”. Drabu is reportedly very close to Ram Madhav, the powerful BJP leader who is in-charge of Kashmir affairs, which many say “cost him his job”. It is this image that has been floating around in the PDP that finally cost him his berth in the state cabinet.

While even Mehbooba’s political adversaries, including the National Conference President, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, have welcomed her decision, her allies in the BJP are not happy at all about her decision.

“What did he say? He said it is a social problem and Kashmir is a society in search of itself. Is this wrong? We don’t think this is something for which such a harsh decision should have been taken,” a senior BJP leader told IANS, not wanting to be named.

His successor, Syed Altaf Bukhari, who has been assigned the finance portfolio, took a major decision immediately after taking over. Bukhari announced that the decision to replace the old treasury system by the Pay and Accounts Office (PAO) has been put on hold. The ambitious PAO system was Drabu’s brainchild.

Bukhari’s decision has been welcomed by hundreds of contractors in the state who had been on strike during the last 13 days demanding their pending payments and suspension of the PAO system at least till March 31.

Would Drabu’s ouster be a storm in a teacup or would it have repercussions on the PDP-BJP ruling alliance in the immediate future? Ironically, Drabu’s PDP colleagues say it won’t be, while the BJP leaders in the state say it would.

By : Sheikh Qayoom

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at [email protected])

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