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A voice of his own: Rahul Gandhi tries to impress Lok Sabha with his speech

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Rahul Gandhi
Image source: wordpress.com

New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s oratory skills seem to be taking a much-desired shift as he gave a fiery 31-minute animated taunt at the government, mixed with sarcasm and humour yesterday. Gandhi has been ridiculed for his drab speeches since a long time now.

There was often deft silence, repeatedly disturbed by loud jeer from the treasury benches, when the 45-year-old Gandhi scion tore into the government over various issues in the high-ceilinged precincts of the Lok Sabha.

He poked a finger and perhaps touched a raw nerve when he sarcastically referred to RSS ideologue Veer Savarkar and slammed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for following him. The BJP members heckled back, objecting to his remarks.

“I said (Mahatma) Gandhi is ours, Veer Savarkar is yours. Am I wrong? Have you thrown Savarkar away? Good for you,” Gandhi said, with a grin, as he intermittently looked at a paper on which he apparently had written his talking points.

He wore a clean-shaven look, a white kurta pyjama, appeared calm, made frequent eye contact with MPs, moved his hands freely with strong gestures. Congress MPs cued him on various issues that the party needed him to speak on. But he remained undistracted.

He apparently didn’t bother about details and fumbled many a time, giving his detractors a reason to boo at him. But he took the criticism in his stride without getting overwhelmed.

“I am not from RSS, I commit mistakes,” said Gandhi, often derided for his alleged lack of knowledge and not so good oratory skills.

Even some BJP members, including Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, could not help but smile back at him while Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha clapped at least once.

Gandhi rode roughshod over the ruling party for its criticism of the previous Congress government.

“Modiji said I have not seen a scheme as bad as MGNREGA. But (Finance Minister) Arun Jaitley came to me and said that it’s a very good scheme. I told him, why don’t you say this to your boss? When money was allotted to MGNREGA, I closed my eyes and thought it was (P) Chidambaram, (the former finance minister during the Congress government), presenting the budget.”

His colleagues burst into laughter amid bouts of protests from the other side of the house. He lashed out at the government’s measures as an “assault on democracy”.

“Modiji is a very powerful man. Everybody feels a bit scared of him. But we should ask him questions. You should also ask,” he told BJP MPs. (Sarwar Kashani, IANS)

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Absurd Theatrics of Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat Assembly elections campaign

Why Rahul Gandhi should do himself and the nation a favor by retiring from politics

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Rahul Gandhi Gujarat elections
Rahul Gandhi (Wikimedia Commons)

–  Gaurav Tyagi

Campaigning for Gujarat Assembly elections to be held in two phases on 9th (phase 1 voting day has passed)  and 14 th December is in full swing. The scion of the Nehru dynasty is trying all stunts to win Gujarat for his Congress Party.

He is making rounds of numerous temples in Gujarat proclaiming himself as a
‘Shiv Bhakt Hindu’. Indira married a Muslim man Feroze Khan in a London
Mosque. Many people in India are still ignorant about this fact and consider
Feroze a Parsi.

Feroze’s mother was a Parsi before marriage to Feroze’s Muslim father but since,
she converted to Islam, their son Feroze Khan was a Muslim.

Indira also embraced Muslim religion for marrying Feroze Khan. Her Muslim name
was Maimuna Begum but she kept this fact well hidden so, as not to harm her
political career.

Rajeev married Sonia Maino, a Catholic Christian. The real names of their children
are Raul and Bianca Maino. They both hold Italian Passports as well but in order
to fool Indians they have adopted the names of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi.

It is incomprehensible that the aforesaid Raul Maino is claiming himself to be a
Hindu now, just to garner votes for Congress in Gujarat in the name of Hindutva.

Raul while addressing an election meeting in Porbandar on 24 th November said
that Prime Minister Modi gave Rs. 33,000 Crores to Tata Company for
manufacturing Nano model of automobiles. He went on to say that no Tata Nano
is visible on the roads of Gujarat.

When Tata Motors’ Nano manufacturing plant at Singur in West Bengal faced
protests in 2008; Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat invited the auto-maker
to Gujarat and extended benefits like allotting land at concessional rates and tax
exemptions for setting up the plant at Sanand near Ahmedabad.

A manufacturing plant of a big company like Tata assures employment
opportunities for the locals besides making the state a more attractive investment
destination for both domestic as well as foreign companies. Every Chief Minister
in India would have done what Modi did at that time.

Modi didn’t do anything wrong by providing a few concessions to Tata. Nowhere,
did he provide Rs. 33,000 Crores to Tata furthermore, Raul’s statement at the
rally while addressing Gujarati locals; “You lost land, electricity, water to Tata
Nano. And if you are not seeing any Tata Nano here, then, what type of magic is
this” is completely absurd.

Immediately after the signing of the Nano deal, Gujarat Industrial Development
Corporation took six villages under acquisition in Sanand. The government of
Gujarat at that time paid the price of land at Rs. 1200 per square meter.

It was four times higher than the market rate prevailing at that time, resulting in
the farmers of this region buying Audis and BMWs.

If the Nano model didn’t turn out to be a commercial success, what has Modi got
to do with it? Every big business house knows that not all of their products would
turn out to be profitable.

Mr. Maino also said that the amount of money Narendra Modi gave for
manufacturing Nano Cars was equal to the UPA government’s allocation for
funding MNREGA since Raul frequently likes to harp about the success of
MNREGA. Here are the facts;

This scheme only guarantees jobs for 100 days a year. A year has 365 days. What
about the rest of the 265 days? The jobs in MNREGA involve completely useless
and unproductive tasks like digging ditches and then filling them back with sand.
This MNREGA scheme is a total failure and waste of government funds.

MNREGA has turned majority of its recipients into lazy, good-for- nothing,
unemployables. This scheme must be abolished with immediate effect.

Raul tried to woo the fishermen of Gujarat by saying that Congress government
used to provide them with subsidy, which covered 25 percent of fishermen’s
expenses on diesel and petrol.

The question is; where and when would this useless subsidy culture end?

Congress is just playing ‘Poverty Politics’. These doles and freebies make people
indolent and uncompetitive thus preventing the progress of a nation.

Raul wants Indian masses to always stand infront of Congress politicians with
folded hands like the old “Maii Baap” culture pioneered by Nehru and later
followed by Indira and Rajeev.

This pattern continued until the only sensible Congress Prime Minister till now,
P.V. Narsimha Rao liberalized the Indian economy in the early 1990’s.

It’s highly disappointing that inspite of Raul Maino’s, relatively young age and
wide travels, he does not possess any constructive and innovative ideas to make
India a better place.

Raul should do himself and the nation a favor by retiring from politics. He anyway
does not need to work for a living and can enjoy the Billions amassed by his
ancestors through masquerading as fake Gandhis.

– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China

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US Restricts Visas for Cambodians ‘Undermining Democracy’

As a response to anti-democratic actions, Trump administration restrict VISA for Cambodians

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Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen attends a ceremony at the Angkor Wat temple to pray for peace and stability in Cambodia, Dec. 3, 2017.

The Trump administration announced Wednesday it will restrict visas for Cambodians “undermining democracy” in the Southeast Asian nation following the dissolution of the main opposition party and a crackdown on independent media.

The State Department said it was a direct response to “anti-democratic actions” by the Cambodian government but did not disclose which individuals would be affected. It said visa records are confidential under U.S. law.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert called on the Cambodian government to reinstate the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was dissolved by Supreme Court order last month, and free its leader Kem Sokha, imprisoned since September. She also urged Cambodia to allow civil society and media to operate freely.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has held power for more than three decades, has sought to neutralize political opponents and silence critics ahead of national elections next year. Kem Sokha has been charged with trying to topple the government with U.S. support, which Washington has said is a baseless accusation.

Supporters of Kem Sokha, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, stand outside the Appeal Court during a bail hearing for the jailed opposition leader in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Sept. 26, 2017.

Nauert said Cambodia’s actions run counter to the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991. The United States and 18 other governments signed the accords, which ushered in democracy after the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s, then occupation by Vietnam and civil war.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will restrict entry into the United States of “those individuals involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia,” Nauert said in a statement, adding that in certain circumstances, family members of those individuals will also be subject to visa restrictions. The department cited a provision of U.S. immigration law under which individuals can be denied entry if the secretary determines it would have “adverse foreign policy consequences.”

The White House has already terminated U.S. support of Cambodia’s national election committee, saying last month that the July 2018 vote “will not be legitimate, free or fair.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as necessary, while maintaining our close and enduring ties with the people of Cambodia,” Nauert said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks during a press availability at NATO in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 6, 2017.

​Monovithya Kem, an opposition spokeswoman currently in the U.S., welcomed the visa restrictions and called for targeted financial sanctions on senior officials in Hun Sen’s government. Kem, who is the daughter of Kem Sokha, urged the U.S., Japan, Australia and the European Union to coordinate responses to the “crisis” in Cambodia and help win her father’s freedom.

Like many prominent opposition figures, Kem has fled Cambodia as she fears arrest.

Hun Sen has been in office since 1985 and has held a tight grip on power since ousting a co-prime minister in a bloody 1997 coup.

In recent months, the government has intensified restrictions on civil society groups and independent media outlets. In September, it shut down the English-language Cambodia Daily. Authorities have shuttered radio stations that aired programming from U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, whose reports they allege are biased.

The government also expelled the U.S. National Democratic Institute, which helped train political parties and election monitors, accusing it of colluding with its opponents.

Hun Sen has moved Cambodia closer to China in recent years and become increasingly critical of Washington. However, he’s been complimentary of President Donald Trump.

Speaking at Asian leaders’ summit attended by Trump last month, Hun Sen praised the U.S. leader for non-interference in affairs of other nations, but complained the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia was not adhering to the policy. (VOA)

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Surajpal Singh Amu: A case of Fatwa by Hindus?

BJP's Surajpal Singh Amu announced a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead Deepika Padukone and the film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

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Padmavati Banner
A man signs a banner during a signature campaign as part of a protest against the release of Bollywood movie "Padmavati" in Kolkata, India, Nov. 22, 2017. VOA

A leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced that he would pay a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead an Indian actress and a film director.

Surajpal Singh Amu, a member of the BJP in northern Haryana state, is apparently upset about an upcoming movie, Padmavati, starring actress Deepika Padukone as the 14th-century Hindu queen Padmini.

The movie is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Amu alleged that the movie is misleading, not based on truth and offends Hindu sentiments in the country.

FILE - Actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali attend the opening of the 13th annual Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Nov. 29, 2013.
FILE – Actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali attend the opening of the 13th annual Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Nov. 29, 2013. VOA

“We will reward the ones beheading them, with 10 crore rupees, and also take care of their family’s needs,” Amu said in an interview with India’s Asia’s Premier News (ANI) earlier this week.

Threats against movie

Amu also vowed not to allow the release of the movie and warned movie theaters to avoid playing the movie or risk being torched.

The movie was set to be released during the first week of December.

Rights activists have reacted strongly to the threats and urged the government to take action.

“This is pretty outrageous that you announce publicly and no action takes place at a time when people are being arrested for most trivial reasons in this country,” Gotum Naulakha, an Indian-based civil liberties activist, told VOA.

A security guard walks past a poster of the upcoming Bollywood movie "Padmavati" outside a theater in Mumbai, India, Nov. 21, 2017.
A security guard walks past a poster of the upcoming Bollywood movie “Padmavati” outside a theater in Mumbai, India, Nov. 21, 2017. VOA

An official complaint has been registered against Amu, but many are criticizing the stance of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — which controls the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — on the matter.

“I’ve not heard any official stance from the central government or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” Vinod Sharma, an Indian-based analyst, told VOA.

Anil Jain, a local BJP spokesperson, told ANI that the law applies to everyone in the state of Haryana and no one can threaten others. The central government has yet to react, however.

Bollywood actress Padukone stood her ground and said the movie would be released despite the threats.

“Where have we reached as a nation? We have regressed. The only people we are answerable to is the censor board, and I know and I believe that nothing can stop the release of this film,” Padukone told Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) last week.

Controversy

Padmavati was controversial right from the start. Opponents of the movie stormed the filming of one scene and destroyed the film sets. They were upset that the director of the movie was distorting facts by alleging romance between the Hindu queen and the Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji.

Film director Bhansali, however, denies the allegations and maintains the story is based on a Sufi and medieval-era poem written about the Hindu queen. In the poem, the Hindu queen chooses death before the Muslim conqueror could capture her.

Some experts say the poem is centuries old and there is a possibility the Hindu queen might be purely a fictional character found only in folklore.

“There’s a lot of debate in India whether Padmavati was actually a living being many, many years ago or whether she was just an imagined person in a poem,” analyst Sharma said.

Rights activists maintain that if government fails to draw clear lines around the threat made by the politician, and discourage a growing sense of impunity for some, incidents like this will only increase and threaten the freedom of expression in the world’s biggest democracy.

“By letting loose and giving [a] sense of impunity to the goons of the ruling party or people who’re connected or close to the ruling party, we’re paving the ground for much bigger and [worse] things to happen in the near future,” Naulakha told VOA.

The movie is awaiting approval from India’s Central Board of Film Certification.

Written by Madeeha Anwar of VOA.