Sunday, Aug 31 2014
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He said the party vice-president should be more visible and heard more to bring the Cong back on the path of revival. By: Liz Mathew & Manoj CG Over three months after the Congress suffered its worst ever defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, party general secretary Digvijaya Singh on Saturday admitted that Rahul Gandhi’s silence on critical issues had contributed to their loss in the “war of perception”. He said the party vice-president should be “more visible and heard more” to bring the Congress back on the path of revival. Speaking to The Sunday Express, Singh said, “We lost in the war of perception. We could not market our achievements and they (BJP) could market our failures. Although our performance was much better than the six years of NDA rule on every front, yet we could not convince the people to support us.” Asked if it would have helped if Rahul had spoken more, he said, “Yes, because the people of the country want to know what Rahul Gandhi stands for, what is Brand Rahul Gandhi. The unfortunate part is that a 63-year-old leader attracts the youth while a 44-year-old leader could not attract them.” Stating that Rahul should be “more visible”, he said, “Today is the age of media and breaking news; 24X 7 you are breaking news. In this age of media, Rahul should be more visible and should be heard more… How (Narendra) Modi propelled himself onto the national scene, just by cleverly projecting his image in the media… so he (Rahul) should be heard more and seen more,” he said. Singh denied that Rahul had refused to lead the party in the Lok Sabha as he was unhappy with some senior leaders for not supporting him during the poll campaign. “It is not correct… there is not a single Congressman, senior or junior, who did not work or support Rahul. Everyone in the Congress party accepts his leadership. And if he feels that some leaders of the Congress party have not really come up to the expectations, then he should crack the whip,” he said. “Why should he continue with those people who did not stand by him, because the Lok Sabha election was a very crucial election… and one who did not want the Congress to succeed, his loyalty to the party is suspect,” said Singh. Stating that “everyone has a style of his own”, Singh said Rahul cannot be equated with any other leaders. He said if Rahul had decided to lead the party in the Lok Sabha elections, it would have given him a “platform from which he could have taken on the issues which he considers are important to the country… He has to choose the forum… People must know what he stands for,” said Singh. Asked whether the Congress should try to bring together all non-BJP parties, on the lines of the RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance experiment in Bihar, Singh said an “ideological consolidation” of centrist parties has to take place first. “On ideological grounds, not on personalities… The unfortunate part is that personalities have overtaken the ideology which we should be very careful about. Today we are fighting an ideological war with the right wing. Modi is the symbol of this right wing. It is the ideology which has to work together… Our challenge is the Sangh ideology which believes in communalising every issue,” he said. Asked if this ideological coming together would lead to an alliance at the electoral level, he said, “That is how it should be.”
An expert committee constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs to look into an alternate capital site for the successor state of Andhra Pradesh has recommended “decentralised development” of the state and has identified three sub-regions where “capital functions and other institutions can be distributed”. It ruled out any “green field” capital city as being demanded by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. The panel expressed concern over concentrating all government offices in Guntur and Vijaywada as it will lead to unplanned development. It said efforts should be made to locate offices of the CM, ministers and secretaries in as compact a manner as possible, in the area beyond the existing urban parts of Vijaywada, Guntur, Tenali and Mangalgiri. Concentrating all development within those areas will add to the “honey pot” character similar to Hyderabad which will detract from the growth prospects of other centres in Andhra, it said. The five-member panel headed by former Urban development secretary K Sivaramakrishnan identified three sub-regions — Vizag region in Uttarandhra, Rayalaseema ‘Arc’ comprising Kurnool, Anantapur, Tirupathi, Kadapa and Chittoor, and Kalahasti-Nadikudi ‘Spine’, which refers to land along the proposed Kalahasti Nadikudi railway line — for the new capital. The report strongly came out against locating all government offices in one single place. The committee, which had invited suggestions from public for the new capital, received 5,380 responses.
After the super success of Holiday, Akshay Kumar is now all set to star in Airlift, a film that's based on one of the biggest human evacuation. The film will be directed by Raja Krishna Menon. The latest update of the film is that it is the very talented Nimrat Kaur who will be paired opposite lead star Akshay Kumar in the film. The news was confirmed by T-Series' spokesperson. Readers may recall that Nimrat Kaur, who was last seen in the critically acclaimed The Lunchbox, has also been signed up for the successful international TV Show Homeland. Airlift, which is being produced by T-Series, Cape of Good Films with Crouching Tiger and Emmay Entertainment, will go on floors in April 2015.
The Uttar Pradesh BJP unit may have dropped the issue of “love jihad” from its poll agenda, but various Sangh Parivar-linked organisations, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Hindu Jagran Manch, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, are joining hands to set up new fronts, particularly in western UP, to fight such alleged conversions. The first such organisation has been formed in Meerut — Meerut Bachao Manch — where a former madrasa teacher had alleged forced conversion and gangrape earlier this month. The new front recently organised a peace march in Meerut and submitted a memorandum to the district administration demanding strict action in the case. It also sought measures to curb “love jihad”. RSS sources said such organisations would also be set up in Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Bareilly, Bulandshahr, Saharanpur and Baghpat districts. “So far, one front has been formed in Meerut. Such fronts against ‘love jihad’ will soon be formed at local levels in all other districts… Patriots will support our crusade against ‘love jihad’ that is leading the country towards another partition,” said VHP national spokesperson Surendra Kumar Jain. “The formation of Meerut Bachao Manch was inspired by the recent incident… The front has made an appeal to the district administration to stop such incidents,” said Chirag Gupta, ABVP’s Meerut district secretary. He said senior ABVP leaders will hold conventions in different districts to create awareness among Hindus to protect their girls from conversions. “We have supported an organisation, the Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, in Moradabad that is also working against ‘love jihad’. Workers of various organisations including BJYM, ABVP, VHP and others will soon form such district-wise fronts and work under a single banner,” said Hitesh, state organisation secretary of the Hindu Jagran Manch. He said open debates on the issue will be organised inside and outside college campuses in western UP from September 15. The ABVP will mobilise the youth, while the VHP will appeal to all Hindus to attend these debates. Another Sangh Parivar-linked organisation, the Dharma Jagran Manch, recently started a similar campaign to appeal to Hindus to curb the practice of ‘love jihad’. “We have so far re-converted only Muslim and Christian families to Hindusim. Individual Hindu girls converted to Islam through ‘love jihad’ have not been re-converted by us. If any organisation like ABVP or HJM comes to us with such ‘love jihad’ victims, we will re-convert the girls to Hinduism,” said Rajeshwar Singh, organisation head of Dharma Jagran Manch in western UP. The BJP’s Meerut district president, Suresh Jain, said BJYM workers had joined the Meerut Bachao Manch because they are responsible citizen. In Bareilly, BJYM leader Sudheesh Pandey said while no such front has been formed in the district yet, the BJYM would stage protests and launch an agitation if any case of “love jihad” is reported. Last week, the UP BJP planned to include the issue of “love jihad” and conversion of Hindus in its agenda for its executive committee meeting. But the issue was dropped at the last minute, although the documents circulated to members contained references to the Meerut incident.
Parents of the accused at their home in Katra Sadatganj. (Source: Praveen Khanna) Since May 27, the simmering divide between the Ganga-kateves (migrants) and the basindas (settlers) has widened further in the village of Katra Sadatganj in Badaun. The two minor cousins, whose bodies were found hanging from a mango tree in the village, were Mauryas. The Mauryas are basindas — they own land and till their own fields. The relatives of the three accused are Ganga-kateves, who work in fields owned by others and are paid at the end of the day. The CBI recently decided that it will not file a chargesheet against the three accused, all of them brothers, at this stage due to lack of evidence. If the agency is unable to file a chargesheet against an accused in such cases within 90 days of their arrest, they become eligible for bail. Though relieved, the father of the three accused says his troubles are far from over. “It is all gone. They ate it all up. During the two months I was away in Badam Nangla after the incident, the cattle ate up the entire wheat crop which we had gathered recently,” he says. After his sons were arrested, there was no one to tend to the crop. “I have no money to even get my sons out on bail. I had to leave the village with my wife after they were arrested,” he says. The 50-year-old who has just returned from Ushait, a sub-town in Badaun district, sits near his wife, looking harried and irritable. The suspects’ mother, in her late 40s, stares blankly at the ceiling. The house, a brick structure, has seven rooms, four of which are roofed and functional, while the three at the rear have not been constructed fully yet. “I had gone to the market in Ushait,” the father says. “I don’t go to Katra market anymore because everyone stares and talks. It has become very uncomfortable and I fear that I might be attacked by Mauryas and even the other basindas.” Despite returning to Katra a month ago, he has been making frequent trips to Ushait for his rations. But, since the past two day, the purpose of the trips has changed. “I had gone to arrange money,” he says. “Mediapersons come and go. Where do I get the money from? The question about approaching a lawyer does not arise when I don’t have the money,” he says. “I will have to sell one of the two grown buffaloes.” The youngest of the three accused is aged 18. His parents say that he was never interested in academics and dropped out of school in Class V. Of the three brothers, he is the most boisterous and troublesome, they say. “We have left him to his own and we do not know what he did with the girls that night, or what the police have been saying. We do not know if the girl and he were friends or if they knew each other. We know nothing, okay,” they say. The second son is aged 21 and took his Class XII exams recently, says the mother. The oldest one is married and usually helps the father with field work. The father says that for the time being, the family is living on the money earned from the previous Baisakhi crop. “My sons and I used to work in the fields and earn about Rs 250 each day. Income from this source has stopped,” he says. The father says that no one in the village meets him anymore. He says the only people who might help him are a few loyal friends from his community of 150 Yadav families, a minority in the village of around 6,000 people. He says that he is thankful to god for the CBI decision, but the bigger problem for him is to get his sons out. Neeraj Yadav, who stays in the village, says the incident changed the dynamics in the area. “The majority of the village blamed the three boys and the two constables for violence against lower castes. Now, when the basindas pass by our settlements, they do not even greet us. Nobody knows what really happened, but everyone holds our entire community responsible for the incident. They say the Yadavs are gangsters. But I am a mere mazdoor, I have nothing to do with this,” he says. Ramkali Maurya, a 60-year-old basinda, says that people from her community do not visit or even look at the Ganga-kateves. “They are goondas and we want to have nothing to do with them. Who knows what they might do to any of us?” she says.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury with Chandra’s son at the cremation in New Delhi on Saturday. (Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna) Bipan Chandra, one of the prominent modern Indian historians of the country, passed away on Saturday at his residence in Gurgaon. He was 86. Chandra, whose work on India’s struggle for Independence, communalism and the impact of colonialism on the country’s economy influenced generations of historians, passed away in his sleep. His last rites took place on Saturday afternoon. Elaborating on his legacy, historian and JNU Professor Aditya Mukherjee said, “Very rarely do you have a school of thought associated with one person — the Cambridge school or the Annales school. Among modern Indian historians, Bipan Chandra built a huge team and he could form a school of thought which came to be known as the Bipan Chandra school and many historians associate themselves with it.” Chandra, Aditya Mukherjee and Mridula Mukherjee co-authored India Since Independence which was published in 1999. Born in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, in 1928, Chandra studied at Forman Christian College, Lahore, before going to Stanford University where he received his graduate and postgraduate degrees. On his return, Chandra taught history at DU’s Hindu College. In 1963, Chandra received a PhD from DU and seven years later he moved to JNU where another noted historian Satish Chandra taught history. Historian Satish Chandra said, “He will be remembered for his fiercely independent anti-imperialist position. His research and scholarship was not of an arm-chair kind. While he was critiquing colonialism, he was also helping in formulating policies for the government to overcome the effects of the same.” Historian Sabyasachi Bhattacharya who was Chandra’s colleague at JNU for 25 years said, “In his later works, he developed an interpretation of the Indian National Movement and also contributed a good deal in the area of the Indian National Congress, especially in the period between 1919 and 1942.” Bipan Chandra also held many honorary positions such as the president of the Indian History Congress, member of the UGC and the chairman of the NBT. After his last book Making of Modern India: From Marx to Gandhi was published in 2012, Chandra had been working on two books — a biography of Bhagat Singh and an autobiography, Mukherjee said. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
Infighting in the Chhattisgarh Congress surfaced again on Saturday with former chief minister Ajit Jogi and party candidate Mantu Ram Pawar, who withdrew his nomination for Antagarh bypolls on Friday, speaking out against PCC chief Bhupesh Baghel. At a late night press conference in Raipur, Pawar said Baghel first forced him to file nomination and later his lack of support forced him to withdraw. “I had told Baghel abo-ut my unwillingness to contest, but he asked me to give it in writing. When I said I would, they said if AICC asked me to contest what would I do. I had lost earlier elections because of party infighting. I made it clear to Baghel that if I was not convinced about the party unity this time I would withdraw,” he said. “They wanted to use me as a pawn, cause my defeat and blame others.” Jogi opened another front against Baghel and said: “I and Motilal Vora are the seniormost party leaders here, but Baghel, Hariprasad and T S Sinhadev did not consult us before deciding the ticket. They need to answer for it.”
The Left parties, including major partner CPM, on Saturday ruled out the possibility of joining hands with Trinamool Congress to counter BJP, a day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that no one was “untouchable” in politics, including the communists. “There is no question of alliance with Trinamool or Mamata Banerjee. It is due to her policies and politics that BJP has made inroads in West Bengal. If we have to fight the communal BJP, we will fight it on our own,” CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta told PTI here. In an interview on Friday, the TMC chief, when asked if she was willing to ally with the Left parties, had replied that talks could be held. “She was the first to bring BJP into the state when she joined hands with them in 1998,” said CPM politburo member Surjya Kanta Mishra, who is also the Leader of the Opposition. Meanwhile, the ruling party leaders in the state tried to play down the CM’s overtures. TMC state president Subrata Bakshi said: “It was a general statement about politics. You see that JD(U) and RJD have joined hands with Congress after 20 years. This is politics. So we do not want to comment on what Didi has said.” Senior TMC MP Sougata Roy saw no “veiled” signal in what Mamata said. “The CM is the chief of the party and her comment is final. She has made a general statement that all options are open in politics. One should not jump to any conclusion and take one particular party in consideration,” he said. (With inputs from PTI)
Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe at a dinner meet in Kyoto. (Source: PTI) While Modinomics and Abenomics dominated the conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe during a private dinner in this historic city, the two leaders are learnt to have discussed China in great detail and how the India-Japan partnership can be a “force for good” for the region. They also agreed to work together for “peace, stability and prosperity” in Asia and the world. This assumes significance since Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to visit India in the third week of September. In fact, Modi and Xi had a candid and useful conversation in July on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil. Both India and Japan have long-standing border disputes with China, which have a deep impact on their relations. ALSO READ: Modi gifts Abe Bhagavad Gita In an oblique swipe at the previous regimes, Modi told Abe that the India-Japan ties were “far below potential” and expressed hope that the “two sides would strive to achieve in five years the unrealised potential of five decades”. In their first one-on-one meeting, sources said Abe spoke with great enthusiasm and strong conviction about India and the importance of India-Japan relations for Japan and the region. Modi, at this point, described Japan as one of India’s “closest” and “most important partners” and spoke about “his own admiration and affinity” for Japan and his “high hopes” from the relationship. They met at the Kyoto State Guest House, which was built in 2005 for the purpose of welcoming foreign guests, for helping them understand Japan and for deepening friendship with Japan. While this was their first meeting since May, the two leaders have had a rapport for many years now, since Modi visited Japan as the Gujarat CM. ALSO READ: Ambani drops out of PM panel to Japan Sources privy to the discussions at the traditional dinner said both leaders spoke with “great optimism” about a robust future for India-Japan economic partnership. They spoke about the opportunities before both countries to inject “new momentum and energy in their economies”. Abe, sources said, expressed confidence that — “under Modi” — India’s economic transformation would gather strong momentum. An economically resurgent India would be of “great strategic importance to the region and the world, and an inspiration for democratic forces around the world”, the Japanese PM is learnt to have said. The two leaders also had an extensive exchange of views on the developments in the region and the world.