Connect with us


Tripura ends CPI-M tedium by trading decency for false El Dorado

Pulling down of statues is a milder form of retribution compared to the coarse standards set by the Governor.



Tripura CPI-M
Picture Credit : TheWire

The extraordinary feat the BJP has pulled off leaves one breathless. Which other Chief Minister in the country will have a decorated Director General of Police, B.L. Vohra, write in his book, “Tripura’s Bravehearts”, “Manik Sarkar was definitely unlike any Chief Ministers whom I had seen, met, worked with and heard about…. He was honest personally and that had percolated down to all echelons of the government — again one cannot find many examples of his ilk unfortunately in the country.” This level of decency has been traded by the Tripura electorate for mobs who pull down statues.

The universal assessment of Manik Sarkar even among opposition leaders in Tripura would flatter any politician. It was not just that he was himself a gentleman but he appeared to have instilled his qualities in his cabinet colleagues and the administration across the board. By all accounts, his predecessor and guru, Nripen Chakraborty, was even more admirable. The staff in the Chief Minister’s house had never ever dreamt that they would serve a boss whose groceries were purchased on a ration card and who never saved enough money to open a bank account. This may be syrupy stuff in an era when materialism is the mantra, but do, for a moment, reflect on the Chakraborty-Sarkar duo against the amoral wasteland that stretches as far as the eye can see.

Also, it is elementary that 25 years of CPI-M rule could not have lasted only because of the leadership’s decency. Despite the economic crunch, the government in Agartala implemented every central scheme with greater efficiency than any other state. Ninety-six per cent literacy? Show me another state. The gender ratio is something of a record. That is how Tripura’s middle class was created. True, having created a new middle class, the government found itself flat-footed. It could not cope with the next stage of aspirations. It produced distributive justice but found itself bereft of ideas to generate wealth to accommodate the educated unemployed and to promote two-wheel drivers to the four-wheel level.

Upon arrival in Agartala, I was able to find accommodation only in a government guest house. When I asked the Chief Minister if the absence of reasonable hotels was state policy, he was frank: “We are not in a position to cope with social imbalances that come with five-star hotels, bars and restaurants.”

This may sound odd, but the reasons for the rout of Sarkar’s Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in Tripura are, to some extent, similar to the ones responsible for the decline of West Indian cricket.

Never again will the likes of Weekes, Sobers, Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Brian Lara adorn world cricket. In the 1970s and the 1980s, the West Indies cricket team was like Don Bradman’s invincibles. The culture of cricket was their inheritance from the British colonial period.

Aggressive globalisation of the 1990s placed the West Indies in the sphere of American media. US centered television beamed at the islanders, not cricketers but basketball and baseball stars like Michael Jordan and Jose Ramirez, with proselytising persistence. Within a generation, all that remained of the cricketing legends were their fading photographs in the scrap books of schoolboys of the 1980s in former British colonies.

A CPI-M government in Tripura was, likewise, as remote from any Left-ruled enclave as the West Indies are from cricket’s birth place. After the end of Left rule in West Bengal, it had no structure to lean on. In this friendless era it was exposed to hostile TV bombardment. Riding the crest of economic liberalisation, market fundamentalism galloped at breakneck speed to accommodate advertising for rampaging consumerism marketed by dream merchants, architects of plush malls and multiplexes.

CPI-M Chief Minister Manik Sarkar’s controlled austerities withstood this barrage of televised razzmatazz for 25 years. By this time another generation had arisen, torn between a lifestyle of simplicity and the Eldorado on the horizon that metropolitan centres of control teased and tempted them with.

Agartala is in trauma. Before they find their feet, the stunned CPI-M cadres are having to adjust to another reality: Party sympathisers are suddenly not making eye contact with them. Some, with an eye on the main chance, have been seen on the margins of mobs attacking CPI-M offices, even pulling down of the Lenin statue.

To a considerable extent, the outcome in Tripura and elsewhere in the northeast is the Congress’ gift to the BJP. Himanta Biswa Sarma, a genius in electoral management, walked out of the Congress because he could not bear Rahul Gandhi’s insulting silences. Tarun Gagoi, the former Assam Chief Minister, was eager to create his own dynasty, make his son Gaurav the Chief Minister. This would cut out Sarma whose political brilliance underpinned the latter half of the Gogoi years.

This kind of a dynamo, backed by money power that would make Nirav Modi salivate and an adversarial Centre controlling the purse strings — this is how the Left was uprooted in Tripura. Just imagine, when state after state is implementing the 7th Pay Commission, Tripura found itself stranded at the 4th Pay Commission. CPI-M dogma also stood in the way: “7th pay commission made some demands which were anti-people.”

The change of cultures was imminent from the day the BJP planted Tathagata Roy as Governor of Tripura. The genteel tone of Chakraborty-Sarkar gave way to a inelegant vocabulary. “They should be buried head first in pig’s excreta,” said the Governor by way of a recommendation for dealing with terrorists.

Pulling down of statues is a milder form of retribution compared to the coarse standards set by the Governor.

BY : Saeed Naqvi

(A senior commentator on political and diplomatic affairs, Saeed Naqvi can be reached on [email protected] The views expressed are personal.)


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.

Continue Reading


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

Continue Reading


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])

Continue Reading

Most Popular