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#ShauryaGate will prove doomsday for Modi Govt

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NSA Ajit Doval, PM Modi and Amit Shah
NSA Ajit Doval, PM Modi and Amit Shah

Few days back the World Bank ranking for ease of doing business came and India’s ranking suddenly jumped from 130th to relatively much better 100. Prime Minister Modi and his cabinet colleagues went gaga over this and media was bombarded with paeans in support of this unique achievement.

The ground reality, however, seems to be just opposite as GDP growth is down to paltry 3.7%, 20 lakh or more people have lost their jobs after demonetisation, private investments have reached its nadir and banks NPAs are making banks go kaput.

The improved ranking in the ease of doing business may not have affected the general business climate positively but at least in two cases this seems to be true. The first beneficiary of improved ease of doing business ranking is Jay Shah, son of BJP President Amit Shah whose temple enterprises turnover increase by whopping 16000% which was unearthed by “The Wire”.

The same news portal “The Wire” has come out with another explosive revelation which claims that an organisation called India foundation owned by the son of Ajit Doval, NSA of Prime Minister has four central ministers as its directors and it is getting pecuniary help from Indian and foreign companies.

According to the report published in “The Wire”, India Foundation was a small time company in the business of graphics preparation against the orthodox Islam and forced conversions of tribals in Kerala. Although this company was established way back in 2009 but the phenomenal growth was observed only since 2014 which raises lot of questions.

India Foundation has now morphed into one of the most powerful think tanks which facilitates a platform for Indian and international business houses where industrialists rub shoulders and discuss govt’s policies with senior ministers and secretary rank officers.

Now the transactions of India Foundation which is not at all transparent and the central minister being directors of this company raises multiple questions since the owner of this company Shaurya Doval runs another company called Gemini Financial Services which executes transactions between other countries.

This is a clear case of conflict of interest and lobbying, two things which Prime Minister promised to end in 2014.He categorically made it apparent that there will not be any middle man in the corridors of power.After this revelation, people of this country are feeling cheated and deceived.

It is interesting to know that Shaurya Doval is son of powerful National Security Advisor Ajit Doval who is considered close to PM Modi. It’s a strange coincidence that Modi won in 2014 on premise of ending the dynastic rule.

Shaurya Doval and Ram Madhav, an ex RSS man and the current General Secretary of BJP run this company but it also has Defence Minister Ms Nirmala Sitharaman,Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha and Minister of state for Foreign Affairs MJ Akbar as its directors.

You can’t think of more potent and effective think tank than this where four important ministers are directors and the owners include an ex RSS leader and son of NSA who has important say in the Govt functioning. Till this date all the programmes which this organisation conducted were run away success because of the presence of all important policy makers and the top Indian and overseas company sponsored these programmes.

The reason behind the success of this outfit is these six important faces which is also its biggest problem since it clearly raises the issue of conflict of interest as these companies can easily manipulate the Governmental policies as per their need and they can also get the inconvenient policies changed as per their requirements.

Since this institution is run by a trust, as per existing laws, it is not mandatory for them to make its balance sheet public and despite the presence of central ministers on the board it refused to answer the queries related to its source of funding and transactions.

“The Wire” further claimed that during the preparation of report they contacted all six people associated with this institution through letter and asked their opinion but it failed to get any reply from the concerned ministers and only Ram Madhav, the General Secretary of BJP responded by saying that he will come out with appropriate answer in due course but that is yet to happen.

However, Shaurya Doval replied that the bulk of income is generated through Conferences, Adverisements and Journals but he failed to name the companies who contribute and he had no answer as how his company, which is registered as a trust, meets its day to day expenses and how is he managing an office in a posh locality like Hailey Road which is part of famous Lutyens zone of New Delhi. He also had no answer as how he manages the salary and other expenses of his staff members.

“The Wire” further claims that one of the programmes which India Foundation conducted was “Smart Border Management” where the name of sponsors of the event was openly displayed and they could also be seen at the stage and other venues. The sponsors included top aviation company like Boeing and Magal, an Israeli company dealing in armaments.

Apart from these companies there were DBS Bank and other leading Private overseas companies but it is not clear as what were the terms and condition for the participation of these companies and how much they contributed towards these mega events. According to “The Wire” India Foundation is an independent Research Center whose job is to study the issues, challenges and the opportunities of Indian politics. But in another interview Shaurya Doval conceded that he works in tandem with the BJP and the Union Govt on important issues.

Interestingly, this particular interview is available on the website of Gemini Financial Services which proves that transparency is bunkum. Shaurya was previously running a company called G Yes Capital which was later merged into the Gemini Financial Services. The Chairman of Gemini Financial Services is Prince Mishal Bin Abdullah Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud who is son of late king Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

“The Wire” reports that when they asked about the conflict of interest angle, Shaurya replied that the question doesn’t arise since India Foundation is not in the business of transaction on their own or on behalf of others and moreover lobbying or any related activities are strictly prohibited in the charter of company.”The Wire” also raised query from the PMO but no reply came from there.

 

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

 

Analysis

Blow to BJP ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls – News Analysis

In the first instance of a party getting majority on its own in 30 years, BJP won 282 seats in Lok Sabha in 2014. The BJP-led NDA had won 336 seats out of 543.

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Congress workers Karnataka civic polls

The results in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan came as a major shock for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has won all the major states barring Delhi, Bihar, Punjab and Karnataka in elections held after the sweeping 2014 Lok Sabha victory.

The BJP was routed in Chhattisgarh and defeated in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in closely-fought contests. The party mostly banked on the image of Chief Ministers Raman Singh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan to lift the party’s fortunes.

In Rajasthan, where opinion polls had written off the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah put in extra efforts, besides banking on the hardcore Hindutva image of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, to take the battle to the Congress, but still lost.

The BJP, however, managed to open its account in Mizoram, where the Mizo National Front (MNF) ousted the ruling Congress partty, but saw its numbers fall from five to one in Telangana, where the Telangana Rashtra Samithi swept the polls.

The results of these five states, which were dubbed the semifinals ahead of the next general elections in April-May 2019, could be a factor in the battle between the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Congress-led opposition.

The major issues raked up by Congress, specially the farm loan waiver amid an agrarian crisis across the country, employment and anger among upper caste, seems to have worked in its favour and could haunt the ruling dispensation if remedial measures are not taken.

The BJP is not ready, however, to accept the defeat as a referendum on the Modi government.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said issues in state elections are entirely different. The BJP won Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2003 but lost the Lok sabha elections next year, he pointed out.

The general elections in 2019, he added, would be fought around Modi’s performance, with people voting for a tried and tested leadership instead of a non-ideological opposition coalition which is bound to collapse sooner than later.

The Congress, which had a disastrous performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and suffered successive defeats in various Assembly elections, smiled for the first time after defeating the BJP in a direct contest in the three crucial states in north India.

Party president Rahul Gandhi, who campaigned vigorously, said the Assembly election results were a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s non-performance on issues of unemployment, agrarian distress, corruption and negating the ill-effects of demonetisation.

Out of total 678 Assembly seats in the five states in the current round of elections, the Congress has won close to 300 seats while the BJP managed to win over 200 seats. In the 2013 Assembly polls, the BJP had won 377 seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram while the Congress had won only 122 seats in these states.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won 62 out of total 83 Lok Sabha constituencies of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram. Now the three Hindi heartland states will be ruled by Congress and the its impact would definitely be felt in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In the first instance of a party getting majority on its own in 30 years, BJP won 282 seats in Lok Sabha in 2014. The BJP-led NDA had won 336 seats out of 543.

Its allies include the Shiv Sena, which has been on the war path for a while. Similarly, N. Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) have walked out of the NDA.

Since 2014, BJP has managed to retain just six Lok Sabha seats in by-polls. It won Lakhimpur in Assam, Shahdol in Madhya Pradesh, Beed and Palghar in Maharashtra, Vadodara in Gujarat and Shimoga in Karnataka.

In the last four years, the party has lost Lok Sabha by polls in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, Gurdaspur in Punjab, Alwar and Ajmer in Rajasthan, Kairana, Phulpur and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra and Bellary and Mandya constituencies in Karnataka.

The BJP, however, maintained the verdict was a mandate against the state governments and not against the Modi government.

“The results in five states clearly show there is no uniform trend across the country and local factors determined the outcome in each state. This is evident from the fact that even Congress suffered massive defeats in Mizoram and Telangana.

“Despite 15 years of anti-incumbancy in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has put up a fight in Madhya Pradesh and has a major comeback in Rajasthan. The BJP’s and Congress’ vote share in both the states in Mandhya Pradesh and Rajasthan is almost tied which clearly show that the BJP has the potential to comeback with big victories in 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” BJP Spokeperson G.V. L. Narsimha Rao told IANS.

He also said whenever Congress has tied up with a regional party, it cost them votes.

(Brajendra Nath Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

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Verdict in Hindi heartland states gives Congress hope for 2019 – News Analysis

The outcome is expected to energize the Congress rank and file who have been largely starved of election victories since its 2014 debacle. The latest victory is the first time since 2014 when the Congress has defeated the BJP in a straight contest.

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Rahul Gandhi

The Congress recorded its best-ever performance against the BJP since the disastrous 2014 Lok Sabha polls capturing power in the three Hindi heartland states and reviving its hopes in the next general elections. But the outcome has also sent signals that defeating the BJP nationally may not be an easy task.

Except for Chhattisgarh, where the party won a two-thirds majority, the results were not as resounding as the Congress would have liked, especially in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where it failed to cross the half-way mark on its own by just two seats.

It lost power in Mizoram, the only northeastern state it had, and was routed in Telangana where its decision to go with the Telugu Desam Party evidently boomeranged.

The verdict, with the Congress poised to form governments in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, coincided with the first anniversary of Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as party chief, raising his stature as a leader and enhancing his image as a serious politician.

The outcome is expected to energize the Congress rank and file who have been largely starved of election victories since its 2014 debacle. The latest victory is the first time since 2014 when the Congress has defeated the BJP in a straight contest.

Questions remain if the verdict is strong enough to dent the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an effective campaigner and communicator but it is likely to give some confidence to Congress workers that the party has a chance to turn the tables if there is a “Modi versus Rahul” contest in 2019.

The outcome will strengthen the position of the Congress in the emerging alliance of opposition parties to take on the BJP-led alliance in 2019 and increase worries of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah in the Hindi heartland states where the BJP won most seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha battle.

The Congress has performed well as a challenger but has found it hard to defend its incumbent governments.

The results showed that the Congress can build its campaign around the issues of agrarian distress, unemployment, demonetization, corruption, security of women, Goods and Services Tax (GST), autonomy of institutions and “misuse” of investigative agencies.

The outcome has given the opportunity to Congress to pose a challenge to the BJP though it would be an uphill challenge to implement its promise of farm loan waivers. It had attacked the BJP governments in the states and the Centre on the issue.

Rahul Gandhi ran an energetic campaign since the announcement of polls in the five states in October and held 62 rallies, targeting Modi in every meeting.

He addressed 19 public meetings and held one roadshow in Chhattisgarh, 25 public meetings and four road shows in Madhya Pradesh, 19 public meetings and two roadshows in Rajasthan, 17 public meetings in Telangana and two rallies in Mizoram.

Gandhi was able to effect an organisational coherence in the poll-bound states, overcoming one of the party’s weaknesses.

He made organisational changes and put Kamal Nath as party chief in faction-ridden Madhya Pradesh. The decision was made in April, barely seven months before the Assembly polls leaving the new state chief little time to build his campaign.

The results are expected to lead to questions in the Congress if its decision not to project a Chief Ministerial candidate was the best strategy.

The BJP’s strong performance in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh despite anti-incumbency apparently shows that the 2019 election will need a much more sustained effort by the Congress to dislodge the Modi government.

Though the Congress won more seats than BJP in both these states, the two parties have nearly the same vote share.

The victory of TRS in Telangana has boosted the profile of state Chief Minister K. Chanrasekhar Rao who has pledged to form a third front that does not include BJP or Congress. This could counter the efforts of his rival, TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, to bring opposition parties, including Congress, on one platform.

The Congress could not win a full majority in Rajasthan, falling short by two seats in a cyclical rotation in which both BJP and Congress have been forming governments alternately in the last 20 years.

In Madhya Pradesh, where BJP has been in power for the past 15 years, it could not secure a thumping majority like it did in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh and is all set to form a government with the support of BSP and SP.

In Chhattisgarh, it won after parting ways with former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi who floated his own party.

Gandhi has indicated that the Congress will continue to build its campaign in the Lok Sabha elections around the issues it raised during the Assembly polls. He has also said that the opposition parties will unitedly fight the polls.

With the opposition unlikely to project a Prime Ministerial candidate, the BJP is likely to play this to its advantage in the Lok Sabha elections by making it “Modi versus who” battle.

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Next, a presidential contest between Modi and Rahul – Comment

But the ploy, which included a pledge by the RSS to revive the Ramjanmabhoomi movement of 1992-93 which led to the Babri masjid’s demolition, failed to check the Congress’s revival and the signs of erosion of the BJP’s base of support.

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Rahul Gandhi

By setting in motion the process of undoing the pronounced pro-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tilt in Indian politics when the party secured a majority in the Lok Sabha and ruled at one time over 19 states, the voters of the three heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have sent out two unambiguous messages.

One is the old warning about pride preceding a fall. The hyperbole of the BJP president Amit Shah’s declaration that his party will rule for 50 years has been shown to be so much hot air as has been the observation of a loyal mandarin, national security adviser Ajit Doval, that the country needs a strong, stable government – obviously meaning Narendra Modi’s rule – for the next 10 years.

It was in keeping with these grandiose assertions that the BJP built the world’s tallest statue – of Congress stalwart Vallabhbhai Patel, whom the BJP can be said to have misappropriated from the Congress – and announced the plans for an almost equally large statue of Lord Ram.

But none of these achievements and claims have saved it from a 0-3 drubbing at the hustings. The lesson from this electoral whitewash of the three BJP-ruled states is that no mercy can be expected from the electorate for the Modi government’s failure to keep the promise of vikas or development. It is obvious that economic stagnation and agricultural distress have spelt doom for the BJP.

The second message from the results is that Rahul Gandhi has succeeded in exposing the falsity of the charges that had been levelled against him ever since he came into politics. Yet, neither being derisively called “Pappu” or an adolescent kid, or of being a “pathological liar”, to quote Arun Jaitley, had any effect on his emergence as a capable leader, who took the lead in addressing the media after the recent opposition conclave while veterans like Sharad Pawar and H.D. Deve Gowda remained in the background.

It is now obvious after the Congress’s success in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh that Rahul Gandhi will increasingly be in the forefront of the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) efforts, especially when the other major convener of the alliance, Chandrababu Naidu, has suffered a setback because of his Telugu Desam Party’s poor showing in the Telangana elections.

The taking of centre-stage by the Congress president is likely to turn the 2019 general election into a presidential-style contest between him and Narendra Modi. Up until last Tuesday, the BJP would have looked forward to such an unequal fight, in its view, between Pappu and the party’s hero with his macho image.

But no longer. Now, it will be a confrontation between the youthful standard-bearer of a rejuvenated party and the aging leader of an organisation which is seen to be on a slippery slope because of failures on several fronts – economic, administrative as the disarray in the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Reserve Bank of India shows, and an “inability” – whether inadvertently or by design – to rein in the Hindutva storm-troopers.

It is possible that these Hindu militants were let loose with one of the BJP’s chief propagandists, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanah, instigating them with his venomous Ali-Bajrang Bali communal polasization because the party had been sensing for quite some time – presumably after its setbacks in Karnataka – that it was losing ground.

Seeing the receding mirage of the Hindu rashtra, which was thought by the saffron brotherhood to be within reach because of the BJP’s political clout, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), purportedly a “cultural” organization, jumped into the fray with its demand for the immediate enactment of a law for constructing the Ram temple.

Its calculation apparently was that the law would shore up the BJP’s sagging political fortunes by mobilising the Hindus behind the party. If BJP MP Subramanian Swamy is to be believed, it is the drive for Hindutva which enthuses the saffron cadres and brings in votes for the party, and not vikas.

But the ploy, which included a pledge by the RSS to revive the Ramjanmabhoomi movement of 1992-93 which led to the Babri masjid’s demolition, failed to check the Congress’s revival and the signs of erosion of the BJP’s base of support.

Now that a presidential-style contest is on the cards, it will be advisable for Rahul Gandhi to live up to the lesson which he says he has learnt from Modi’s mistake – that of a lack of humility because “arrogance is fatal for a politician”.

While the Prime Minister has tweeted his acceptance of the people’s “mandate”, some of the spokespersons of the BJP and the RSS have been describing the Congress’s success in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as “accidental” because of the marginal difference in the vote share of the two parties.

In Rajasthan, the Congress received 39.3 per cent of the votes while the BJP got 38.8. In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP’s percentage was higher at 41 compared to the Congress’s 40.9 per cent although the Congress won a larger number of seats.

The BJP is evidently unwilling to accept a result which has upended its dream of ushering in a Congress-mukt (free) India.

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

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