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Portrait of a Muslim home in shadow of rising BJP colossus

The leaderless Muslim, mesmerised by Nehruvian blandishments, pitched his tent in the Congress park as its permanent vote bank.



personal opinion

It was a spectacular celebration. The beating of drums, sprinkling of colours, group songs, dancing continued well after dusk.

As I watched from my window, a thought crossed my mind: Why had we not been invited? Ours is the only Muslim home in the colony, but a pride of place has always been accorded to us in all celebrations, including Holi. We have inherited this knack of integration from our elders. The Mahant of Shiv Sharan Das temple in Lucknow always made special “bhang”-free “thandai” for my father on Holi.

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I called up the President of the Residents Welfare Association (RWA) to register my protest. He was vacationing at Corbett Park. There had been deaths in the neighbourhood; RWA had therefore not organised a Holi celebration. It was private initiative — some friends had come together for the festivities.

We know them well, but they probably did not include us in their list of revellers because they thought we may not be in the celebration mode or in depression at the turn of political events. Such are the ogres imagination conjures up.

Yes, one is afflicted by deep anxiety, but Narendra Modi’s extraordinary victory is only a fraction of the problem. The anxiety is accentuated by the context in which politics is unfolding. Spaces for open discussion — political, social, economic and cultural — are shrinking. In any case they are all in the hands of philistinism and propaganda. This afflicts not all of the media, but a large chunk of it. A creeping voicelessness therefore is our anxiety.

I was with family in Mustafabad, my village near Rae Bareli, where my sister keeps a television with its tube burnt out — no images only sound. It is surrealistic. We heard the election results in stupefied, stunned silence. My cousin Asghar broke the silence.

“The state of the Muslims in the country is just like your television, Suraiya — blind but noisy.”

Suraiya asked: “How have the Muslims fared?”

Asghar: “They have helped the BJP win and now they are terrified at the outcome:

Khuda ko aihle Jahaan
Jub banaa chuke to, Firaq
Pukar uthe ki, isi ne
Hamein banaya tha.

(After men had completed making their God.
Look, they screamed, it is He who made us)”

Juggle around with this couplet and you get a fair idea of how Muslims are themselves responsible for the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). First they help strengthen the BJP, then they cry: We are afraid.

Suraiya was angry. She sought my intervention. “Why blame the Muslims?” she asked.

I said: “Asghar is right. Blindfolded by their myopic mullahs, Muslims have since Partition followed false Gods.”

Asghar chipped in: “The headline story one day was: Mayawati to field 100 Muslim candidates. The media lapped it up. The 100 Muslim candidates became a chant, mornings, afternoons, evenings.”

Next headline: Akhilesh-Rahul Gandhi alliance will attract Muslim votes. Will Rahul repel Muslim votes because of Congress inaction during the demolition of Babri Masjid? Will Akhilesh be able to neutralise Muslim anger against the Congress? Muslim, Muslim, Muslim. Do you think this “Muslim, Muslim” incantation is honeyed music even to the most moderate Hindu? It is custom-made for Hindu consolidation.

Suraiya asked: “Which party then should the Muslims have supported?”

There was silence.

“None,” I said.

“What do you mean?” Suraiya persisted.

“The only role at this juncture for Indian Muslims in India’s electoral politics is to enable Hindu consolidation. This may not occur to the Muslim voter, but this is the consequence of his politics.”

Image result for How have the Muslims fared

Basically, the Muslim is not at fault. The Congress is — from the very beginning. When it agreed with Lord Louis Mountbatten and Mohammad Ali Jinnah to Partition the country on religious lines, it had diluted its own stand on the two-nation theory — Hindus and Muslims constituted two separate nations. Once you created Muslim Raj (Pakistan), India had glided seamlessly from British Raj to Hindu Raj.

I have argued this case in my book: “Being the Other: The Muslim in India”. A fair bargain could have been struck with the Muslim even at that stage, avoiding all the hypocrisy about secularism.

The leaderless Muslim, mesmerised by Nehruvian blandishments, pitched his tent in the Congress park as its permanent vote bank.

In the 1980s, V.N. Gadgil, General Secretary of the Congress, took me into confidence. “Muslim appeasement is beginning to rankle with the Congress’ Hindu base.” This “appeasement” was exposed by the Sachar Committee Report in 2005. Successive Congress governments had brought Muslim socio-economic status down even below the Dalits. Some appeasement.

After the Muslim vote defected en masse from the Congress following the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, a seering truth has settled in the Muslim mind. The Congress had cheated the community from day one. So he left the Congress but having done so, where should he go? Rank casteist parties — Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) — opened their doors. In a daze, the Muslim walked in as an enabler of casteist power. There was nothing in it for him.

And now, Congress, SP, BSP are all fallen icons, piled up in a lifeless heap. Where should the Muslim go?

Suraiya’s was the last word. “Are you saying we should not complain about the BJP’s anti-Muslim plank? They were open on where they wanted to take the nation? Our plaint should be registered against parties which pretended to protect our interest but knowingly or unknowingly facilitated the BJP’s Hindu Rashtra? With rampaging hatred against Pakistan, unsettled conditions in Kashmir, it is custom-made to target us as the Other against which Hindu consolidation will progress.”

Had “Hindu Raj” been accepted at the outset, she added profoundly, the excruciating process of welding “Hindu Rashtra” from the caste pyramid would have been avoided. The Muslim was used as a foil in this process. This hurt.

By : Saeed Naqvi

(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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Row over ex-spy’s poisoning : Moscow expels UK diplomats

The diplomatic crisis between UK and Russia has escalated after the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War”.




After  the leaders of the United States, Britain, France and Germany have squarely blamed Russia for the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain with a powerful nerve agent,the Russian Foreign Ministry had asked 23 UK diplomats to leave Russia.

The diplomatic crisis between UK and Russia has escalated after the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War”. Russia acted in response to Britain’s “provocative actions and groundless accusations” over ex-double agent Sergei Skripal’s poisoning.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Britain or Sweden were likely sources of the nerve agent. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated British accusations of Moscow’s involvement were intended to distract public attention from the UK’s troubled exit from the European Union.

Where as British PM Theresa May has warned Moscow that Britain “would never tolerate a threat to the life” of its citizens, or others in the country.”This act of Russian aggression is the very antithesis of the liberal and democratic values that define the United Kingdom,” she said.

US President Donald Trump then apparently supported the accusations made by May, saying that “it looks like” no one other than Russian President Vladimir Putin could have been behind the attack.. As the probe into the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal is still ongoing and needs time for tangible results, UK is contemplating appropriate response to the poisoning that  includes legislative powers to defend against hostile state activity and the suspension of high-level contacts between the two countries.

Moscow has repeatedly offered its full cooperation in investigating the incident, which London claims involved a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels that the alliance nations have followed through with some high-profile moves to deter Russian interference, the secretary general noted. In 2017, NATO nations deployed four multinational battle groups to the Baltic republics and to Poland. Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States each lead a battalion-sized group, and troops from many NATO nations are members.

Toltenberg discussed the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter and a British police officer with a military-grade nerve agent – that was traced to Russia. British officials say this attack is an unlawful use of force by Russia against the United Kingdom.

“This is the first offensive use of a nerve agent on alliance territory since NATO’s foundation,” the secretary general said. “All allies agree that the attack was a clear breach of international norms and agreements. This is unacceptable. It has no place in a civilized world.”

NATO regards any use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security, he said. “The attack in Salisbury has taken place against the backdrop of a reckless pattern of Russian behavior over many years,” Toltenberg said.

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PM Modi does not pay attention to its allies nor the public



Modi in Manipur

As the Telugu Desam Party ended its four year alliance with the BJP over denial of special category status to Andhra Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi realized it’s the right time to hit the campaign trail by listing out his government’s achievements and vision for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections through the electronic media.

Modi used power point presentation to showcase his government’s schemes and programmes that were taken from previous UPA regime but repackaged to term them as BJP’s programmes.

Acknowledging the preparatory time for 2018 Assembly elections and ultimately the 2019 general polls, Modi and his cabinet has started listing out the economic reforms implemented by the NDA government.

Although Modi and his ministers lack the mindset of knowing how their reforms has made the life of a common man more difficult with costly education, high inflation, more taxes and no employment. Modi government has virtually shunned the responsibility of providing jobs to the unemployed Indian youth, which is the job of every government in all the countries including the US. Modi argues that his schemes of “Digital India and Start-up programmes are employment schemes.

During his four years rule,Modi has been consistently maintaining his silence and measured cool over the lawlessness,lynching which is the new normal, authoritarianism, decline and destruction of institutions,erosion of professional ethics and destruction of small and medium business due to the introduction of ease of doing business, privatizing the medical system ( which is costly ).

Modi is depriving people of their right to a dignified life and creating a bunch of ultra-rich people and crushing the middle class. 2018 is crucial being a penultimate year before the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections and some important states Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are going to polls in May.

The Congress party, the CPM, the AIADMK, the AIMIM and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will support a no-trust motion moved by N Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) against the BJP-led NDA government.”

Naidu said, “BJP allies are fighting for their rights in Parliament” but the Prime Minister does not have time to address their concerns.Modi is even unconcerned about addressing people’s problems.Aware of the fact that the people are unhappy with his administration, Narendra Modi is back with his style of campaigning using the electronic media, social media and connecting with the people at the organisational level.

The Opposition including Congress and regional parties should make use of the marketing strategies, tools and different media for promotion and branding themselves.

Modi had been using marketing skills to promote himself as the Prime Minister who works by connecting with the people through social media and tweeting each and every launch of projects.

After assuming office in 2014, Narendra Modi has been going abroad telling foreigners how well India is doing but failed to ask Indians how his administration has drastically affected their lives. Modi justified his foreign tours saying it has helped in raising the status of the country and said,”India started repeatedly raising the subject of terrorism, black money and corruption at international forums that presents a challenge before the world.”

India need not remind countries about the threat of terrorism and corruption as other countries are having high technology and better intelligence to deal with it.While in India, the government has not equipped forces to deal with the terrorism as no other country will probably find that so many security personnel have died in encounters against terrorism and the demonetisation has failed to eliminate counterfeit currency, terrorism or corruption.

India most corrupt countries in the world

India continues to be among the most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International in March 2018.The international corruption watchdog released its closely watched Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which ranks 180 countries based upon institutional perceptions of public sector corruption on a scale of 0-100.

A score of zero indicates a “highly corrupt” nation while 100 indicates a “very clean” one.

The CPI awarded India a score of 40, rendering it the 81st most corrupt country in the world. Other countries improved their performance relative to India.Modi has been selling hollow and tantalizing promises for the heck of capturing power but as there is a growing perception that BJP is not caring about its allies and it matters a lot as perception sets the tone in elections.

Modi and BJP ministers including Rajnath Singh have failed to bring peace in Jammu and Kashmir and has been making an attempt to malign Nehruvian-era by choosing Sardar Patel as their icon.But the fact remains that the partition was imposed due to the British policy of divide and rule and the communal politics.

Although under Modi government there is a great disunity among communities in India as there has been an unprecedented surge in the number of lynching and hate crimes in cow-related cases and most of the victims are from the Muslim and Dalit communities.

The economy is in doldrums as India’s consumer confidence has plummeted, construction has slowed, many factories have shut down and unemployment is increasing at a faster rate. PM Modi who pledged to bring back the black money stashed in the safe haven from abroad is rather perceived as connived with economic offenders (Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi, Deepak Talwar, Sanjay Bhandari and 26 others) who owe Rs 40,000 crore while they  escaped from the country.

How come Gem dealer Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya have managed to escape from the country in spite of the fact that Modi government was aware of their frauds.

UPA Chairperson and former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had said the promise of “Achhe Din” will work against the BJP in the same manner as ‘India Shining’ campaign did against then Vajpayee government in the 2004 General Elections.

Gandhi said the Congress and its allies will not let Modi get another term in office at the Centre. “We are going to come back. We are not going to let them come back.”

It appears that PM thinks that people of India are not seeking answers on the Punjab National Bank fraud, Rafale fighter jet deal and the issues pertaining to the common man and the farmers, than he must think again as people are fed up over listening to his “Mann Ki Baat”.


Arti Bali

Sr Journalist

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Hubris is letting down BJP

Even more than the Narendra Modi government’s failures on the employment and agricultural fronts, it is the party’s and the government’s haughtiness, reflected in the Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu’s characterisation of Modi as “God’s gift to the nation”, which has been undermining the party’s standing.




If one explanation has to be given for the BJP’s electoral ills in the Hindi heartland and nearby states, it is arrogance.

Even more than the Narendra Modi government’s failures on the employment and agricultural fronts, it is the party’s and the government’s haughtiness, reflected in the Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu’s characterisation of Modi as “God’s gift to the nation“, which has been undermining the party’s standing.

Ever since the BJP came to power, it has been dismissive of everything that happened in the past and vowed to start on a clean slate after eradicating 1,200 years of slavery under the Muslims and the British.

The party also neatly divided the people into “Ramzade” (children of the Hindu god, Ram) and “haramzade” or illegitimate children, as the Union minister, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, so eloquently put it. Any opponent of the party was promptly placed in the anti-national or anti-Hindu category and told to go to Pakistan if he favoured the consumption of beef.

Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons advised visitors from abroad to eat all their beef before coming to India.

The reaction against the BJP’s hauteur was slow to take shape presumably because the people, especially youngsters, retained their faith in the Prime Minister’s “Sabka saath, sabka vikas” or development for all promise. It still works in states like Tripura which has seen little economic growth under prolonged communist rule.

But, elsewhere, the Modi magic has palpably started fading. The first sign was available in the Gujarat assembly elections where the BJP escaped defeat by a narrow margin. After that, the setbacks for the party in the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh by-elections substantiated the anti-BJP mood.

Now, the Uttar Pradesh by-polls have provided resounding confirmation of the slide in the party’s fortunes in mainland India.

For Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to lose in his redoubt of Gorakhpur, where he is the head priest of the Gorakhnath temple, is far more indicative of the way the cookie is crumbling than the fall of the former chief minister Manik Sarkar’s government in Tripura, which was a cause of elation in saffron ranks.

For the BJP, the monk-politician’s electoral humiliation is stunning for two reasons. One is that the elevation of this saffron-robed votary of “love jehad” and fake encounters to the Chief Minister’s post was intended by the Modi dispensation to show how much is changing in India as it marches towards a Hindu rashtra.

Adityanath’s ascent was meant to be a kick in the teeth for the “secular” camp which could not believe that a Hindutva hawk would be made the Chief Minister of India’s largest state.

The other reason why the BJP would be stupefied is that it will now have to shelve its decision to field Adityanath as the third main campaigner for the party after Modi and party president Amit Shah. Till now, the Chief Minister had been deputed to election-bound states to boast about the “developments” that were taking place in Uttar Pradesh.

Now, he will be an “unstarred” campaigner as a Congress minister in Karnataka has mockingly said. It is not unlikely that Adityanath will be derided on the next occasion when he addresses an election rally. His admission that over-confidence led to the BJP’s defeats in Gorakhpur and Phulpur is only partially correct, for it was not so much self-assurance which undercut the party but supercilious pride of being saviours of the nation from its “enemies”.

This scornful outlook towards its political adversaries was starkly evident in Bihar where Union minister Giriraj Singh warned voters that Araria will become a “hub of terrorism” if the Muslim candidate was elected. This crude display of communalism did not deter the voters.

The three or four “captive” television channels of the BJP have also been ringing alarm bells about the caste-based combination of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), as well as the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), bringing down the “nationalist” BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Even then, it is clear that the successes of these parties have sent out the message to the Congress and other opposition parties that the ground is ripe for unseating the BJP by a united front.

Till now, the BJP’s only hope of staying afloat was the disarray in opposition ranks. It may have also placed considerable faith in the machinations of cynical old-timers like Mulayam Singh Yadav to create fissures in the non-BJP ranks of the kind which enabled it to win big in Uttar Pradesh last year.

But the times are changing. Young leaders like Akhilesh Yadav have shown that it is possible to overcome the earlier two-decade-old enmity between the SP and the BSP to bring the BJP to heel. The RJD has also demonstrated that its M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) base of support has remained intact despite Laloo Prasad Yadav’s incarceration. Besides, the Bihar outcome has shown that the latter’s son, Tajeshwi, has found his political feet.

There are now several relatively young leaders — Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Tajeshwi, Jignesh Mewani — who are in the field. As Rahul Gandhi’s recent meeting with Sharad Pawar showed, they are now taking the initiative along with elders like Sonia Gandhi to bring the opposition parties together on a common platform. If they succeed, the BJP’s chances of repeating 2014 in the next general election are dim.

By : Amulya Ganguli

(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])

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