INDIA THIS WEEK (April 26-2 May) – Oye Times (Canada)

Weekly wrap up of important India news by Politicalbaaba with inputs from Akanksha Nishat. 

1. Farmer’s suicide investigation gets murkier, Delhi Police says AAP men incited Gajendra to climb tree

Delhi Police’s report to the home ministry in the AAP rally suicide case blames party volunteers and senior members for instigating farmer Gajendra Singh to climb the tree, from where he hanged himself. Delhi police also alleges that Delhi govt. tried to stop and delay Singh’s postmortem by sending a sub-divisional magistrate who insisted that the body be preserved in a mortuary and autopsy not be conducted immediately.

Politics on the suicide has heightened. RSS has alleged that farmer Gajendra Singh’s suicide was a “drama” enacted by AAP which turned out to be a “tragedy”, and advised the party to take right lessons from the incident. Calling AAP’s recent farmer rally as one that touched the “lowest level” of politics, the RSS mouthpiece ‘Organiser’ hit out at the party saying such “dirty” politics should be discarded.

AAP blamed Delhi Police (which is controlled by Home Ministry) for being hand in glove with BJP govt. at the center and trying to tarnish AAP image. Whatever it says, irreparable damage has been done to AAP.

> 2. Rahul Gandhi starts a padyatra against BJP’s land bill to mobilize farmers

Rahul Gandhi started a padyatra this week to mobilize farmers against BJP’s land acquisition bill. Congress is touting it as Rahul’s comeback. Many opposition parties have formed a block against Modi led govt. to thwart the land bill.

It’s ironical that Rahul chose Vidharbha in Maharashtra to flag off his padyatra. During Congress-NCP 15 year rule from 1999-2014, the state witnessed approx. 50,000 farmer suicides accounting for 20% of total farmer deaths in the country.

Will farmers rally behind Rahul whose brother in law is accused of taking away hectares of farmers land in connivance with Congress ruled state CMs? Or will they hail the land bill of Modi? Interesting battle ahead. Modi won in the 1st round in Lok Sabha elections. Can Rahul square the score in the next Lok Sabha elections? Long road ahead… One thing for sure, you can’t write off Gandhi scion completely….

> 3. Cabinet nod for 100 smart cities! Thought it was already approved

The Cabinet this week approved Modi govt’s two flagship schemes – 100 smart cities and urban rejuvenation program for 500 towns and cities. The govt. cleared a total central outlay of Rs 98,000 crore to execute these schemes in the next five years.

While this will give a push to infrastructure and will prevent exodus of people from rural / semi urban areas to metros / big cities, the fact that it took almost a year (was announced in July 2014 budget) to approve this shows the red-tapism and delay plaguing the Modi govt. as well.

> 4. Controversial remark by BJP Haryana minister on farmers’ suicide sparks a row

Haryana agriculture minister and BJP leader OP Dhankar triggered a controversy by describing farmers who commit suicide as cowards and criminals not worthy of help from the government. Dhankar said farmers were running away from their responsibilities and leaving their families and children with liabilities by committing suicide.

The “insensitive” remarks in the backdrop of Gajendra’s suicide in AAP rally and severe crop damage due to untimely rainfall has once again brought to the fore the fact that no political party cares for farmers and treats them merely as a vote bank.

> 5. Kejriwal’s law minister faces heat over ‘fake degree’

The law portfolio is turning out to be a jinxed one for the AAP II govt. in Delhi with the current minister, Jitender Singh Tomar, in the dock over allegations that his degrees are forged. In AAP I tenure, Somnath Bharti as law minister courted controversy for his illegal crackdown on Nigerian women.

Another blow for party with a difference. It is filled with crooks, criminals. God save Delhi! Feel for the people who voted for AAP.

> 6. Govt cancels licences of 8,975 NGOs for failing to file annual returns

After suspending the FCRA registration of Greenpeace India and putting foreign donor Ford Foundation on the watchlist, the govt. cancelled the licences of 8,975 NGOs for failing to file annual returns for the years FY10-12. Govt. had issued notices to 10,343 NGOs in Oct. 2014, stating that they should file their annual returns within a month, specifying amount of foreign funds received, sources of such funds, the purpose for which these were received and the manner in which such foreign contribution was utilized. However, only 229 NGOs reverted to the home ministry.

A lot of hue and cry has been made by the NGO class and their sympathizers. How can govt. cancel their licences for such a small offence? Modi is trying to stifle anti govt. opinion. India has the highest no. of NGOs in the world. Contrary to the spirit, many of them have been floated to make money. It is also amongst the favourite employment avenues in India. If you don’t know what to do, float a NGO. Receive donations, make merry. No need to follow rules. Many of them even have political backing.

Over the years a lot of them have started to receive foreign funding allegedly to convert people towards a particular religion, halt infra projects, destabilize Indian economy, destabilize certain governments etc. Good step which will have far reaching implications.

> 7. First war in Janata Parivar: Nitish – Lalu spar over seat-sharing

The real test of Janata Parivar in Bihar will be when seat sharing is finalized. I have been saying this for months now. The new found bonhomie between Lalu & Nitish is just for cameras and survival. They know they need each other to edge out BJP. However, old bitterness among the rivals can’t vanish so easily.

Both of them are locked in tough negotiations over seat-distribution for Bihar elections insisting on a high number of tickets for their nominees. RJD and JD(U) have decided to clinch the seat-distribution now so that differences between the bitter-rivals-turned-comrades are settled by the time elections approach.

Lalu wants more seats to revive dwindling fortunes of his lantern. He sees it as an opportunity to project his political heir as Deputy CM in case Janata Parivar wins. Nitish knows giving more seats to Lalu will make him powerful and will dilute his control over govt. Plus he is also wary of the two Yadavs – Sharad and Lalu ganging together to oust him.

> 8. No saffronization of education – Smriti Irani

HRD minister Smriti Irani aggressively defended the government against allegations of saffronisation of education, saying appointments to educational bodies have been made on non-partisan considerations, and accused the UPA of violations in setting up overseas campuses and semester system in Delhi University. She refused to cede ground on the opposition’s allegation of mistreatment of educationists and appointment of saffron ideologues to key educational and historical bodies.

Curriculum in schools have to have a fine balance between our traditional roots (Hindi / Sanskrit) and modernity (English). Today India is on the world map because its people can read and write English better than many other countries. English is after all a global language. However, this doesn’t mean that Hindi / Sanskrit should be neglected. I read Hindi as a subject last in Std. 10. Then never afterwards. Sanskrit in only one class, I suppose 8 / 9. This definitely needs improvement…

> 9. Arun Shourie tears apart Trimurti of Modi, Jaitley & Amit Shah

Former Union minister Arun Shourie tore down the Narendra Modi government on Friday, calling its economic policies directionless while accusing the “trimurti” of Modi, finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP chief Amit Shah of monopolizing decision-making.

He said the silence of Modi, who was otherwise active in “tweeting business” on issues such as “love jihad” and “ghar wapsi”, was sending a wrong message and could disrupt harmony and national security.

Shourie also faulted the Modi dispensation for political management, saying its aggressive plans for expansion and tone was alienating allies, while those within were terrified of speaking their mind.

What he has said of Modi-Shah Jodi of monopolizing decision making is not wrong. But that’s been with BJP ever since it was formed. In formative years Trimurti of Vajpayee-Advani-MMJoshi controlled the party and took major decisions.

It’s a fact that BJP has become aggressive under Amit Shah’s presidency. Allies have been arm twisted (eg Shiv Sena). However Ekla Chalo is important as BJP wants to reduce dependency on allies. That is Important for its growth in states where it has no presence.

However he is correct on loose canons. They are hurting party image among liberal middle class. If not put to rest then will harm poll prospects.

On the economic front, I am not a great fan of Jaitley. Some pieces doing well while others still need a lot to be worked upon. People are getting restless but restart of the economic growth engine will take time and it can’t start off with 8%+ levels in initial years.

Was he purely objective in criticizing Modi? Or he is sad at being sidelined in party and not getting any ministerial post. His outburst is a combination of both it seems.

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