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Ominous silence before the proverbial storm in Samajwadi Party



mulayam singh yadav

Lucknow, March 14 : With Holi, the Festival of Colours, concluding, it seems to be time for some fireworks in the Samajwadi Party (SP), which was humbled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the just-concluded Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

Reduced to an all-time low of 47 in its 25th year, rumblings have begun in the erstwhile ruling party, which now has a hugely diminished aura and numbers in the 17th Vidhan Sabha. The first murmurs were heard even as results poured in on Saturday and it became evident that the SP would touch a new low and the BJP a new high — a landslide of 325 seats along with its allies.

It was only after the results were announced that SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was edged out by his Chief Minister son, Akhilesh Yadav, as the national president of the party on January 1, went, for the first time, to the Janeshwar Mishra Trust — which housed the war room of the Congress and SP alliance.

A stone’s throw from his sprawling 5, Vikramaditya Marg, bungalow on Panch Bangalia, the tense-looking Yadav chieftain reportedly had gone to meet with and console party workers. He, however, was there for just five-odd minutes and left when he saw his son. Akhilesh, though, is said to have hurriedly pulled himself together and touched his father’s feet.

Mulayam said nothing and just drove away. He later left for the airport and flew to Saifai, their native village, for the annual Holi celebrations, almost a ritual for the family.

Akhilesh Yadav left a little later and took the Agra-Lucknow Expressway to drive with his family to Saifai. Enroute, he met some supporters who had gathered along the route. “We will see what went wrong, do not lose heart,” he told the young men in a bid to lift their spirits.

Akhilesh, after the rout at the hustings, rued that he never knew people would vote him out so badly despite the work done by his government in the past five years. “Main samajh gaya hoon ki vote samjhane se nahin, bahkane se milta hai,” (I’ve understood that votes are gained by pulling wool over people’s eyes) he said.

He also taunted the voters by saying: “I guess people did not like the Expressway and were rather looking for a bullet train to come to Uttar Pradesh.” A reference to one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet schemes.

Insiders say the swords are out and soon a “pitched battle would be fought in the open” in the SP. Shivpal Singh Yadav, who was locked in a bitter feud for power within the party since October last year and was completely sidelined in the assembly elections, is now waiting for his turn to strike.

Shivpal, who won from Jaswantnagar yet again with a huge margin, now stands vindicated. During the infighting, he had openly told Akhilesh that he was on a suicidal mission with the likes of Ram Gopal Yadav and the young brigade that included Udayveer Singh, Sanjay Lathar, Sunil Singh Sajan and other close aides. Both Mulayam and Shivpal had forewarned Akhilesh about having any truck with the Congress.

Akhilesh, however, rode roughshod over this advice and not only promoted his close aides, did whatever uncle Ram Gopal said and joined hands with Congress, even going to the extent of giving the alliance partner 105 of the 403 seats. The Congress had 28 legislators in the outgoing house and is now down to a mere seven, its worst-ever performance in Uttar Pradesh.

An angry Mulayam never campaigned for SP candidates and stuck to canvassing for Shivpal and daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav. Shivpal was not asked to campaign either, and Akhilesh and Dimple were the only star campaigners in the staggered polls.

The extent of anger in the now-divided family can be gauged by the fact that it was for the first time that Shivpal did not turn up for the Holi do at Saifai, where every year the clan meets and celebrates the festival in style.

After the party’s rout, Shivpal has said openly that this was not the defeat of the Samajwadi Party, but a defeat of “ghamand” (arrogance). He chose to stay put in Etawah and play Holi with his fans and supporters.

Mulayam, it is said, drove off to Lucknow as son Akhilesh arrived in Saifai. The whereabouts of Ram Gopal Yadav are not known.

Just before the last phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam’s second wife Sadhna Gupta, in an interview to a television agency, had slammed Akhilesh for “showing disrespect to neta ji”. The interview, many political observers here had inferred, was a “signal of things to come post polls”.

While Mulayam, in an informal chat on Holi eve, told some close aides that Akhilesh alone could not be held responsible for the rout, and added that “anger of Shivpal and Amar Singh was understandable”, he is also learnt to be very cut-up with Akhilesh.

He privately holds him and him alone responsible for the party’s disastrous show at the hustings, a close aide informed.

Mohd Azam Khan, a party stalwart and one of the founding members of the SP, was spotted weeping openly at a public meeting in Rampur on Sunday. Unable to take the loss, he was addressing a gathering of supporters when he broke down.

Akhilesh has called a meeting of the newly-elected party legislators on Wednesday and it is likely that any future strategy will then be spelt out. For now there is an ominous silence in the Yadav clan and in the SP, which, many feel, could be the proverbial calm before the storm.

By : Mohit Dubey

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted 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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