Nitish backs Naidu’s demand for special status to AP

Nitish backs Naidu’s demand for special status to Andhra Pradesh

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday backed the demand of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu for special category status to the southern state. Supporting the demand of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief over the demand at the Niti Aayog Governing Council meeting, the Janata Dal United (JDU) leader demanded the same status for Bihar, where he is in power in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Naidu also got the backing of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue of 2011 census being adopted by the 15th Finance Commission. The TDP chief also made a request to the Centre to “not penalise the performing states”.

NitishNotably, the TDP chief had walked out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre over special category status to Andhra Pradesh. He had accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of not fulfilling its promise of providing the status to the state.

Inaugurating Mahanadu, the TDP’s annual conclave, Naidu had said that the Centre had reneged on its promise to grant Andhra Pradesh Special Category status and to implement the AP Reorganisation Act. Naidu accused the BJP of betraying the people of AP and trying to create law and order problems in the state in collusion with the YSRCP.

The TDP had in March 2018 withdrawn support from the NDA government over the Centre’s refusal to grant special category status to the state.

Naidu also got the backing of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue of 2011 census being adopted by the 15th Finance Commission. The TDP chief also made a request to the Centre to “not penalise the performing states”. Notably, the TDP chief had walked out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre over special category status to Andhra Pradesh. He had accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of not fulfilling its promise of providing the status to the state.

-Jun 17, 2018

Nitish Kumar wins floor test in Bihar

Nitish Kumar wins floor test in Bihar; Modi-led NDA goes strong in 18 Indian states

Sailing through the trust vote with 131 votes, Nitish Kumar is back being the ‘king’ of the Bihar.

Nitish Kumar wins floor test in Bihar; Modi-led NDA goes strong in 18 Indian states

‘Secularism can’t mask corruption,” said the Chief Minister in the Bihar Assembly with Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi by his side.

“These are arrogant people. Political parties get a mandate in elections to serve the people. The people are fed-up,” added Nitish.

Last 48-hours, Bihar witnessed some fast-paced and stunning developments that has changed the political scenario of the country.

It all started on Thursday evening.

Alleging corruption charges against Tejashwi Yadav, Nitish tendered his resignation and dissolved the 20-month-old mahagathbandhan or grand alliance between JD(U) and RJD. Within hours, JD (U) formed a new coalition with old ally BJP and Nitish headed back to office, claiming support of 132 MLAs in a letter to Bihar governor Keshari Nath Tripathi.

In 2013, Nitish had ended his 17-year alliance with the BJP over the party’s decision to name Narendra Modi its Prime Ministerial candidate.

Nitish’s decision to side with BJP has not gone down well with several party members. JD (U) stalwart Sharad Pawar is reportedly miffed with the new development while MP Ali Anwar openly expressed his dissatisfaction.

Today morning, Nitish moved the confidence motion to prove majority of his new government amid scathing attacks from various counters. In the 243-member Bihar Assembly, 131 legislators voted in favour of the new alliance and 108 against.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav argued that former his former ‘boss’ Nitish Kumar should have shown guts and sacked him rather than joining hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Aapko sharam nahin aayi? (Aren’t you ashamed?),”asked Tejashwi.

Today morning, Patna High Court accepted RJD’s petition challenging the appointment of Nitish as Chief Minister. However, the court refused to stop today’s trust vote, saying it would hear the case on Monday, 31 July.

JD (U)’s new alliance with BJP has changed significantly changed the political discourse of the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA now holds the power in 18 states throwing Congress out of the national equation. This, in turn, will have some significant bearing upcoming state elections and 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Bihar’s political upheaval has only confirmed the notion of BJP’s saffron wave engulfing the entire nation.

-July 28, 2017, Patna

Jaitley slams Congress for stalling GST, says last laugh will be best

Jaitley slams Congress for stalling GST, says last laugh will be best

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday attacked Congress for stalemate in Parliament, saying some people are getting “sadistic pleasure” by not allowing the GST bill to get passed but it would eventually get through and the ‘last laugh would be the best’.

The Minister also expressed hope that the Indian economy would do better in the coming fiscal on the likelihood of a good monsoon as the rains in the past had never remained deficient for three consecutive years.

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley.

The Minister was speaking at the ET Awards function here along with Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“Democracy doesn’t work in that manner. It’s obvious that not allowing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill to pass (is) giving some people sadistic pleasure. And then democracy has its own strength and the last laugh is always the best one.”

The Constitutional Amendment bill to roll out the GST is stuck in the Rajya Sabha because of the stiff opposition by the Congress party though several regional parties, including the JDU, RJD and BJD, were in favour of the new indirect tax regime.

“Almost everyone is on board. I have never seen a complete coalition of regional parties supporting a particular proposal. Even the UPA allies are supporting it. RJD has said they are supporting it, the JDU has said they are supporting it, the NCP… so it is only one political party which is opposed to it.

”… when I speak to the mid-command of the party, I come back with a sense of optimism. And when I meet them just before Parliament is about to commence at 11 am every morning, I think the high-command prevails over the mid-command. The problem is not with the Indian politics, the problem I think, is with a few individuals,” said the finance minister.

-PTI, MUMBAI, January 9, 2016

Liberals can’t see opp’s intolerance to house!-Swapan Dasgupta 

Liberals can’t see opp’s intolerance to house!

By-Swapan Dasgupta 

If a wave of intolerance was indeed sweeping through India, making a mockery of the cherished ‘idea of India’ and putting our democracy at risk, why has the threat evaporated so abruptly since Diwali?

It can hardly be the case that such a grave threat is purely seasonal and that the fascists in khaki shorts are on a winter break. If Narendra Modi is indeed the Hitler he is made out to be, he must be a papier-mâché replica. A more authentic Fuhrer would certainly have bared his fangs far more menacingly.

Maybe the answer lies in the conclusive outcome of the Bihar Assembly election. At the risk of sounding conspiratorial, let me suggest that the kerfuffle over beef and intolerance was aimed at elevating the political opposition to the regime and the ruling BJP into a more fundamental question of civil liberties and minority vulnerability. If that indeed was the purpose — with the award wapsi gang playing the role of what Lenin called “useful idiots” — it succeeded beyond all expectations. The BJP was forced on to the back foot confronting an agenda over which it had no control. A spectacular degree of Opposition unity was achieved — with even the doughty anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal embracing Lalu Prasad and the AAP maintaining a silence on the National Herald affair.

Both the BJP and the parties decimated in the 2014 poll attached a great deal of importance to the Bihar election. For the BJP, a victory or at least a creditable showing was absolutely essential for two reasons. First, it was necessary to establish that the momentum of 2014 centred on Modi hadn’t entirely dissipated. Secondly, like in 2014, the BJP set out to establish that political chemistry could prevail over electoral arithmetic and that the votes of the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress wouldn’t transfer in its entirety to the Mahagathbandhan.

The assumptions turned out to be flawed. Modi is still an extremely popular figure — as the huge crowds in his public meetings demonstrated — but an Assembly election isn’t a Lok Sabha election and the Prime Minister’s national standing couldn’t prevail over the respect Nitish Kumar commanded for providing Bihar with a half-decent administration for a decade. Strangely, the BJP, which too had a seminal role in extricating Bihar from Lalu’s ‘jungle raj’, chose not to demand a share of the credit. On the contrary, the incessant invocation of the possibility of Bihar being again overwhelmed by whimsical governance led to a spectacular consolidation of Lalu’s dedicated vote bank behind the three-party alliance. With the chemistry going wrong, a high index of anti-BJP unity was reflected in the results.

For the combined Opposition, the biggest take-away from Bihar was the proof that the BJP was most vulnerable when it was confronted with a united challenge.

Nitish Kumar, whose long-term national ambitions are no great secret appears to be the most active in fostering anti-BJP unity at all levels.

He is understood to be particularly active in Assam, trying to forge some form of tactical understanding between a beleaguered Congress, an increasingly marginalised AGP and Badruddin Ajmal’s UMFA. The project is challenging and may not ultimately fructify. But what is significant is that a serious attempt is being made to extend the Mahagathbandhan to every State where the BJP has a meaningful presence. It was even in evidence in the by-election in Jharkhand the Congress won.

In a revealing interview during the campaign, Nitish Kumar was asked to explain his sudden fondness for the Congress that had been the historic enemy of the followers of Ram Manohar Lohia. His answer — “But where is the Congress?” — may have underestimated the potential of the principal Opposition party but it does indicate his belief that the long-term decline of the Congress is an inescapable reality. Yet, there is the realisation that without the Congress no strong anti-BJP is possible.

If Nitish’s calculation is valid, has the Congress grasped its predicament? Can the Congress — which still has a presence all over India — be reconciled to a national coalition where it is not the senior partner and which does not project Rahul Gandhi as the leader? There are indications that the Congress does not want to address this question as yet, at least not before the results of the Assembly elections in Assam and Punjab. However, quite instinctively, the Congress will not be very happy with any arrangement that doesn’t acknowledge the primacy of the Gandhis.

It is primarily to secure the lion’s share of the anti-BJP space that the Congress has opted for its total war strategy in Parliament. The Gandhis are waging a classic asymmetric war. All it needs is the mobilisation of some 40 or so MPs and indulgence of the chair to create a Constitutional crisis and, by implication, make the Modi Government appear dysfunctional. The Congress wants to be the final approving authority of legislation.

Rahul Gandhi’s approach is out and out adventurist. However, he has been able to get away for two reasons. First, the other Opposition parties are still unwilling to allow the internal cracks in the anti-BJP ranks to emerge. They are happy to see Modi brought down a notch or two. Secondly, despite all the post-Bihar attempts, the agenda is still not being set by the Prime Minister, and certainly not in a media that has turned spectacularly hostile. The ominous implications of a non-functioning Parliament does not seem to concern the liberal classes, still nursing a deep resentment over exclusion from the power structure.

How long will this paralysis of the legislature continue? By going for the kill even before the Government has completed two years, Rahul Gandhi has left himself little room for manoeuvre. The BJP can turn this to advantage only if it shows some political imagination which, alas, has not been in evidence in the past fortnight’s crisis management.

-20 December 2015 |

Lalu’s Muslim-Yadav combine proved the game changer

Lalu’s Muslim-Yadav combine proved the game changer

Of the 49 Yadav candidates that RJD fielded, 42 won while 12 out of 16 Muslim candidates bagged seats

The grand victory of the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad in the crucial Bihar poll was possible not because of Mr.Kumar’s celebrity publicity manager Prashant Kishor, but because of Mr.Prasad’s M-Y(Muslim-Yadav) vote bank which proved the real game changer, according to political analysts. The RJD of Mr.Prasad won more seats than JD(U) of Mr.Kumar.

Of the total 49 Yadav candidates that the RJD fielded, 42 won the poll while 12 out of the 16 Muslim candidates bagged the seats. Similarly, out of the total 13 Yadav candidates the JD(U) had fielded, 11 won the poll while out of seven Muslim contestants, five registered wins.

Even for the Congress, out of the three Yadav candidates, two won the poll and out of 10 Muslim candidates, six bagged the seats.

The RJD’s Yadav candidates had a whopping 85.71 strike rate whereas Muslim candidates notched up 75% strike rate for the party. For the JD(U), the strike rate of Yadav candidates was 84.61 % while Muslim contestants had 71.42% strike rate.

However, for their third alliance partner, the Congress party, the strike rate of Yadavs was 66.66% while for the Muslims it was 60%.

The political analysts told The Hindu that such an impressive M-Y strike rate had lifted the vote-share of the grand alliance to an extent that no other factor could affect the outcome.

“Even this M-Y combo helped JD(U)’s vote-share to pick up substantially”, said one of them.

It is said that if Mr.Kumar’s face and his “development” image being projected and publicised on a huge scale by his celebrity campaign manager Prashant Kishor had been the factor for the grand alliance’s grand victory, his party JD(U) would have got more seats than the RJD. But, the RJD got nine seats more that the JD(U)’s 71 seats.

During the poll campaign, Mr. Kumar’s face was splashed on huge billboards side by side the posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, all across the State. But, nowhere were visible RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s images, except on very few hoardings in the State capital Patna.

It is being observed that Mr Kishor’s publicity efforts had not reached people in remote villages who voted for the M-Y candidates of the RJD.

PATNA, November 10, 2015