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The rise and rise of Chinnamma

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It was no surprise when J Jayalalthaa’s close confidante Sasikala Natrajan, clad in a black sari followed the former Chief Minister on her last journey too as the entire state mourned the death of their beloved ‘Amma”. She even sidelined senior ministers of AIADMK and the new CM O. Panneerselvam and dominated the last rites also as had done previously during Jayalalthaa’s heydays in office.

Sasikala, who is also called ‘Chinnamma”by the millions of AIADMK followers had a tumultuous relationship with Jayalalithaa which has been rewarding for both in their personal as well as public life. As a matter of fact the special bonding of these two attracted more attention than Jaya’s equally stormy relations with her mentor MGR and M Karunanidhi, the patriarch of main opposition DMK in Tamilnadu.

Now who is this Chinnamma who was born in 1957 in an agricultural family at Mannargudi. We need to revisit the eighties, nearly thirty years ago a woman who ran a video rental store in Chennai also began to shoot for video films at wedding and other functions. At around the same time an ex leading female Tamil film star joined the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) at the behest of her co-star and mentor MGR. The former was Sasikala while the latter was none other than mercurial J Jayalalitha. Their paths were soon destined to converge and spark off a decades-long friendship.

Sasikala came from a rather modest background and her husband M. Natrajan, an assistant public relations officer with the Tamil Nadu government approached V.S.Chandralekha, Cuddalore collector and sought an appointment with Jayalalithaa, the popular silver screen goddess who had joined the AIADMK in June1982. Natrajan was an ambitious man and he knew that the political patronage will take her wife’s fledgling business to a different level and he got permission from Amma to video graph the meetings of the party.

The actor-turned politician was made the propaganda secretary of the AIADMK and Sasikala became incharge of shooting her speeches at the various public rallies which Jayalalithaa addressed. Jayalalithaa was very fond of watching Hindi,Telgu and Malyalam movies and Sasikala was the one who catered to her immense appetite for watching movies. It was normal for an ex-silver queen to be fond of being clicked and shot in videos and Jayalalithaa was no exception.

AIADMK party founded by MGR, split into two after his death, one faction was led by his widow Janaki Ramachandran while the other faction went under Jayalalithaa but only to be reunited after Jayalalithaa took absolute control of the entire party. Sasikala stuck with Jayalalithaa during this whole crisis and also moved to her Poes Garden residence in the late 80s to become an integral part of Amma’s life.

AIADMK party was thrown into a crisis when the founding father and the chief minister Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR passed away in 1987. MGR was not only a megastar of Tamil films; he was also a cultural icon of the state and was in the seat of chief minister for almost ten years between 1977 and 1987.

After a prolonged power struggle Jayalalithaa finally became the chief minister in 1991 and since then Sasikala and her entire clan have been Amma’s shadow. Sasikala, though a member of AIADMK has never occupied any formal post in the party hierarchy but it never became an impediment for Chinnamma for stepping in the spotlight.

Sasikala’s bonding with Amma became so strong that Jayalalithaa even adopted Sasikala’s nephew V N Sudhakaran, a hitherto unknown entity in Tamilnadu politics as her foster son. Sudhakaran was betrothed to the legendary Tamil matinee idol Shivaji Ganesan’s granddaughter Satyawati and the wedding was scheduled to be held in the September of 1995.

Jayalalithaa clearly instructed her party cadres that the marriage of her foster son should be considered as one within the family and should be celebrated with pomp and show with no holds barred. The pompous and the extravagant wedding spelled the downward spiral of Amma and public anger built up against her as a princely sum of around eight crore rupees was splurged on the wedding and the images of a fully decked up Amma with her companion Sasikala became a symbol of corruption and nepotism.

After the wedding of Sudhakaran, things soured between Jayalalithaa and her foster son. Jayalalithaa, though, never revealed the reason for disowning her foster son, various reports from the time suggest that Sudhakaran used his position to siphon off crores of rupees from her Poes Garden residence which he never returned. He was disowned by Amma on August 25, 1996 and a day after he termed it as his “Independence Day”.

In an interview to the Outlook magazine in 1997 Sudhakaran said that Jaya made him his foster son on his day of engagement only to settle her old score with the legendary and hugely popular Shivaji Ganesan. As per Sudhakaran’s version every time Shivaji Ganesan entered a function, Jayalalithaa had to stand up which she highly resented. So by positioning herself as the groom’s mother Amma ensured that Shivaji was relegated to an inferior status, being the bride’s emissary, he alleged.

Natrajaan was quite ambitious and his actions soon displeased Jayalalithaa and Amma made sure that he is kept away from Poes Garden. After the debacle in the 1996 assembly elections even Sasikala went away from Jayalalithaa. In December, 2011 Sasikala and all her close relatives were expelled from the AIADMK’s executive council but Sasikala made a dramatic comeback after few months later after writing a public apology.

O. Panneerselvam was unanimously chosen as the successor of Jayalalithaa and was hurriedly given oath as the next Chief Minister but posters supporting Sasikala sprang up dramatically in entire Chennai projecting their Chinnamma (Mother’s sister) as the next party general secretary. It was Sasikala who stood next to Jayalalithaa mortal remains at Rajaji Hall and also her entire clan –siblings, nephews, nieces of Sasikala and Natrajan came out in public for the first time and surrounded her body. Although Amma had her own blood relatives it was Sasikala who performed her last rites. It will be interesting to see whether Chinnamma the new empress of AIADMK will also run the party with iron hand like her mentor J Jayalalithaa.

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Modi’s Kashmir strategy boomerangs: Youth radicalised, Army faces heat

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ARMY POLICE STATION JAMMU KASHMIR
 The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is grim and both the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state and the Modi government at the centre has failed to put an end to the killings and violence in Kashmir, increasing radicalisation of youth who are taking up arms rather the crisis has deepened after the kathua gangrape came to light and the manner in which lawyers of the bar council and BJP ministers shielded the accused.

Against the backdrop of the increasing violence in Kashmir,the Indian Army has concluded  it would prioritise bringing radicalised youth to the mainstream through a “collective approach” and convince militants to “shun violence and gun culture”. The issue of conducting de-radicalising exercises along with counter-terror operations in the Kashmir Valley was discussed during the ongoing biannual Army Commanders’ Conference  amid reports that Islamic State ideology was moulding new-age militants in the state.

Director General Staff Duties Lt Gen AK Sharma  said priority is to conduct counter -terror operations to minimise collateral damage  and de-radicalisation of youth who appear to be getting influenced by Islamic State ideology amid heightened violence in the Valley.

 

But after four years in power at the centre, Ministry of Defence under Modi government has decided to set up  a Defence planning committee  with National Security Advisor as its head.The DPC will prepare national security strategy, strategic defence review and doctrines; international defence engagement strategy; roadmap to build defence manufacturing eco-system; strategy to boost defence exports; and prioritised capability development plans for the armed forces.

Apart from internal situation in Jammu and Kashmir,there have been over 650 ceasefire violations in the state in 2018  that have claimed 31 lives, including 16 security personnel.

Moreover, the operations of the armed forces have also been  obstructed  by the locals in Kashmir.Modi was handed a peaceful Kashmir but his policy has created a mess in Kashmir .The similar policy is being implemented across India where minorities (Muslims,Christians ) are being attacked, Dalits are being lynched and ghastly incidents of rapes in Surat,Unnao and kathua (in which BJP ministers supported the accused) have taken place and the prime minister’s leadership is missing miserably .

But it appears BJP made it a point to change the demography of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by coercive action and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of BJP, has made strong inroads in the state  since the formation of BJP Government at the center.

“There has been an unprecedented growth in our Shakhas across the country in the last six years. As on date, there are more than 57,000 Shakhas,” said Dr Manmohan Vaidya, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh (head of Media & Publicity) of RSS.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP used the surgical strikes by the Army to garner political dividends in Uttar  Pradesh elections  by putting up posters showing Pictures of army officers which violates army rules, traditions and military ethos.

Modi lacks the leadership quality that’s why he politicised military operations and did not realise the consequence  will be borne by the Army at the borders.

 

The Army has been defamed by the government as it has to work on the directives of the political ruling party at the centre, and the killings have only increased  and there has been a trust deficit  between the Army and the public.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti recently met Prime Minister and is learnt to have told that the situation is precarious with people getting killed regularly  and requested to find ways  to put a stop to this while also asking to urgently initiate the dialogue process to address alienation among the youths.

Modi has apprently no strategy to bring peace in Kashmir where armed forces are bearing the brunt of his unrealistic policies  and Kashmiris are adopting wahabism culture due to the harsh restrictions imposed by the government such as internet bans,blocking social media sites and section 144 and curfew.

Mehbooba Mufti  has requested repeatedly to the Centre to initiate the dialogue process with all stakeholders including Pakistan  but Dineshwar Sharma, the Centre’s special representative to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for talks, was a very late approach of the Modi government.

It seams as if appointing Dineshwar is a lip service to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir as Centre’s interlocutor had expressed his concern about the trend of local boys joining the ranks of guerrilla outfits.

Mufti must understand that BJP has a tendency to defame its regional political allies in various states and this applies in Jammu and Kashmir too.The annual report released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday has revealed startling number of killings that took place in the year 2017, in the state.

According to the report, in 2017, there were 342 violent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, in which 80 armed personnel, 40 civilians and 213 militants were killed. The report stated, “The year 2017 also witnessed a 6.21 per cent increase and 166.66 per cent increase in the number of terrorists incidents and fatalities of civilians respectively in comparison to the corresponding period of 2016.”

After the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen’s Burhan Wani , the protests were handled sternly  and the protesters turned to stone pelting .The most alarming situation was witnessed when students, particularly schoolgirls were throwing stones at security personnel convey a deeper problem inside the Valley.Due to the heavy handed approach by the government,the number of homegrown militants have swelled post July 2016.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has transformed Kashmir to a volatile situation where Kashmiris which form an integral part of India , feel alienated  and Armed forces have to protect our borders from infiltration and due to politics  by the political parties even unarmed mob targets them. In the current scenario, security personnel and the Kashmiris are bearing the brunt.

 

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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Modi deliberately omits to mention ‘rape’, refuses to recognise culpability of BJP men

During his programme ‘Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ Modi cunningly diverted the actual and direct reply regarding the incidents of rapes of minor girls in India, saying, violence against women an evil of not just the individual but also of society.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now trying to give moral advice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi not to politicise the rape cases that has sparked outrage across the country and abroad but he forgets that women’s security is very much a part of governance and he himself reminded the then Congress President Sonia Gandhi during UPA II tenure of ensuring women’s safety.

After four years, Prime minister Narendra Modi is being greeted with protests at home as well as in London due to his wrong policies and the rise of sexual violence against women, particularly two brutal rapes…

Angry people of Indian origin held placards reading “Modi go home”,“we stand against Modi’s agenda of hate and greed”, “Modi stop killing minorities” and “Justice for Kathua rape victim” demonstrated outside Downing Street and British parliament as Modi arrived for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Whenever Modi is on a foreign trip his PR and election management team always prepare an interaction with Indian diaspora, businessmen and students and make it a point to stream it live for the domestic audience back home and is used as a perfect campaigning tool.

PM Modi has done numerous editions of Mann Ki Baat but has never addressed the real problems of the people of India.As people in India and abroad demand action from him particularly on the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, Modi condemned the “incidents” and promised justice to “ Indian daughters” although he refused to use the word “rape” and but has failed to recognise the culpability of his own supporters.

It seems Modi has forgotten the principles of governance. Modi was elected on the basis of his promises of providing
jobs, prosperity, transparent governance, financial well being for the middle class and the most important national security including ensuring the dignity of Indian forces that he made during 2014 Lok sabha elections.

Rather people of India are stunned to witness the type of divisive politics, hatred among the communities, financial emergency by imposing limitations on cash withdrawal from personal savings, increase in rape cases and accused enjoying political power or patronage, higher taxes on Middle-class people and costly education.

In May 2017, two Muslim men suspected of stealing cows died after being attacked by villagers in the northeastern state of Assam, according to local police.

In June, about 20 men beat four Muslims on a train in the outskirts of the capital, New Delhi, fatally stabbing a teenager and seriously injuring two others.

Mohammed Akhlaque was beaten to death in Uttar Pradesh in September 2015 over rumours that he had slaughtered a cow.

It appears Narendra Modi has connived with the BJP leaders.Hindu fundamentalists of different Hindutva groups
that Prime Minister will speak good narratives that shows him as secular but BJP leaders and other groups
can pursue the divisive politics to lure voters and fulfill the agenda of RSS.

BJP lawmaker Sanjay Patil in Karnataka has provoked outrage with his comment that the May 12 state election is “not about roads and drinking water but about Hindu-Muslim incidents”.”I am Sanjay Patil, I am Hindu, this is a Hindu Rashtra (nation) and we want to build the Ram temple”. he said.

This is not the first time that a BJP lawmaker has given a statement to polarise the country during election time.
BJP members have been promoting Hindu ideology which led to increase in attacks against Muslims and other minorities according to the Human Rights Watch.

A group of UK based Indian students and alumni Union (NISAU) UK, together with 19 India-related societies at leading UK universities, submitted the letter dated April 14 ahead of the Indian PM’s four-day visit to the UK,asking him to take “extraordinary measures” to ensure justice in rape cases reported in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

The PR team of Modi made it a point that the group of UK based Indian students who asked Modi to act against rising sexual cases against women were denied permission to attend the event of the British Parliament, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented his ‘Bharat ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ in London.

It is significant to mention that the National Indian Students and Alumni The University of Oxford India Society, London School of Economics India Society, University College London Indian Society, Imperial College London Indian Society and University of Birmingham Bharat Parivar are among the 19 signatories of the letter alongside NISAU UK, one of the UK’s largest Indian student organisation

The group claimed on Wednesday its signatories were being ‘pressurised to retract’.

In these four years of his rule, PM Modi has been consistently inaugurating the schemes and projects to lure voters
and not equipping the Army with sophisticated weapons to safeguard the Indian soldiers rather they are being defamed in the name of politics played by the PDP-BJP coalition government and the peaceful Kashmir has been transformed into a volatile state.

During his programme ‘Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ Modi cunningly diverted the actual and direct reply regarding the incidents of rapes of minor girls in India, saying, violence against women an evil of not just the individual but also of society.

He said, “we always ask our daughters about what they are doing, where they are going.We must ask our sons too. The person who is committing these crimes is also someone’s son. He has a mother too in his house.”

Modi deliberately omits to mention the work ‘rape’ and culpability of BJP leaders and members in the heinous crime.

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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Trump’s tactics in diplomacy: Boosts Pompeo’s image, secures America’s interests

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Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump boosted the caliber of CIA director Mike Pompeo who traveled to North Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong Un, a secret visit undertaken by him to lay the groundwork for the planned upcoming historic summit between the two leaders.

President confirmed on Wednesday that he dispatched Pompeo to Pyongyang last month to meet with Kim to prepare on the denuclearisation agenda of the summit, which Trump hopes to persuade North Korea to abandon nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.

The Kim dynasty has ruled North Korea since 1948 for three generations and Kim Jong-un has clear and long-term goals of achieving the status of a nuclear state which is a key to their grip on power at home and securing his regime from external threats posed by the United States and its allies.

The main reason behind posting a tweet was to provide an evidence for the Senate that Mike Pompeo is perfect diplomat capable of handling highly sensitive negotiations, which is Trump’s choice to replace the ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

During his Senate confirmation hearing last week, Pompeo said his main aim would ensure “an agreement so that the North Korean leadership will step away from its efforts to hold America at risk with the nuclear weapon and Kim should not think of any relaxation on sanctions until he dismantles the nuclear weapons.

Republicans have a narrow Senate majority and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are opposing Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the panel could be forced to take the unusual step of sending the nomination to the full Senate without a favorable recommendation.

The meeting will likely take place in late May or early June but the location is yet to be ascertained.Sites including Washington, Beijing, Seoul and Pyongyang have been ruled out rather the location that is neutral to both sides are being considered and possible locations for the summit include Geneva or any other venues in Europe or Asia.

Trump, currently hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, said that if he felt that the meeting with Kim Jong-un will not be fruitful, he will cancel or walk out of the meeting.”If I think it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we’re not going to go,” Trump said .”If the meeting, when I’m there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.”

Pompeo also raised the case of the three American prisoners with Kim in North Korea. Trump said his administration is working “very diligently” on the release of three Americans and also the unresolved cases of at least 13 Japanese who were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, one of Abe’s top priorities and an issue of intense emotional power in Japan.

White House officials said Pompeo’s conversations in Pyongyang has fueled Trump’s belief that productive negotiations were possible.Pompeo’ssecret trip to North Korea was arranged by South Korean intelligence chief Suh Hoon with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, and was intended to assess whether Kim was serious about giving up his nuclear weapons program or not.

Earlier in 2000, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim Jong Il, the current leader’s late father, to discuss strategic issues.and in 2014, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. traveled to Pyongyang to secure the release of two American captives. Prior to Trump-Kim summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to meet Kim Jong-un at Panmunjom on April 27. If the summit goes well, it will be the start of a long process of negotiations that could pave the way for a deal to end the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

The first and foremost priority will be the denuclearisation of North Korea and another agenda will be pushed by South Korea for a more permanent peace agreement on the Korean Peninsula, potentially involving the U.S. and China, to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War.

The 1953 armistice was signed by North Korea, China, and the U.S.-led United Nations forces, of which South Korea was a part.

South Korea’s presidential chief of staff, Im Jong-Seok, who is leading Seoul’s preparatory committee for the inter-Korean summit, has said that South Korea has already arranged the “backbone” of the joint statement which is likely to be signed with North Korea.

South Korea is leaving no stone unturned to make the inter-Korean summit a success and also making an attempt to increase summits including a trilateral summit involving South Korea, North Korea and the US.

Contrary to his predecessors, Trump adopted an aggressive posture of rhetoric and by asking North Korea directly to dismantle nuclear program rather than asking for returning to six-party talks, has been successful in compelling North Korea to first implement actions on denuclearisation rather demanding concessions.

Abe said Trump’s “unwavering conviction, as well as his determination,” have made talks with North Korea possible.
Abe made it clear that Without denuclearisation, no concessions will be given, “Maximum pressure should be maintained, and actual implementation of concrete actions toward denuclearization will be demanded.”

It was the initiative of South Korean President Moon that diplomatic channels were started with Kim Jong-un and the opportunity was wisely utilized during Winter Games, held in PyeongChang in February in which North Korean athletes took part.

A high-ranking South Korean delegation led by Chung Eui-Yong, the head of the presidential national security officials met the North Korean dictator in Pyongyang in March 2018 aimed at reducing nuclear tensions and paved the way for US talks.

“Most of all, I will deliver President Moon Jae-in’s sincere and firm resolution to maintain the dialogue and improvement in relations between the South and the North, which were fostered on the occasion of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula,” Chung said.

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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