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Modi’s silence on Vyapam Scam continues

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The Vyapam controversy has the potential of being as damaging, if not more, as the scams which sank the Congress. The reason why it may prove to be worse than, say, the spectrum scam is that Vyapam is unlike any other scandal seen in recent years.

While most of them related to malfeasance, the recruitment for government jobs and admission to educational institutions via the tests conducted by the Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal (whose acronym is Vyapam) in Madhya Pradesh have been marked by a seemingly unending series of deaths.

Th14slid1ere is patently something eerie and sinister about these demises, including the death of the Madhya Pradesh governor’s son, which impart a spooky aura to the scandal. It is this unsettling atmosphere which has made union minister Uma Bharati say that she fears for her life.

In spite of being the target of headlines like “40 deaths and counting”, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government made the situation difficult for itself by resisting the calls for entrusting the probe into the deaths to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) till the mounting pressure left him with no alternative but to request the high court to ask the CBI.

But his retreat came too late. The Supreme Court had by then taken the matter into its own hands and asked the CBI to investigate the scam. As a result, there is little scope of repairing the damage done to Chouhan’s reputation and also to that of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Curiously, it is Modi’s refusal to speak on the various scams involving union ministers like Sushma Swaraj and state governments run by the BJP in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh which has drawn comparisons between Narendra Modi and his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, who was also known for being tight-lipped.

It may not amount to overstating the case to say that the present scene bears more than a passing resemblance to the atmosphere of public despair which prevailed in the twilight years of the last government. The Modi government, too, is currently grappling, somewhat ineffectually, with the Sushma Swaraj-Vasundhara Raje-Lalit Modi affair and is now expected to face a backlash in parliament and outside from the Vyapam imbroglio.

It might have been able to shake off some of the mud flung by its opponents if the economy had shown signs of revival. But by the time it does so – perhaps early next year – no one knows how the murky allegations against the external affairs minister and her family and the two chief ministers will pan out.

The reason why such scandals, whether those involving deaths or not, tend to become more and more of a quagmire for those in power is that the initial reaction of the governments is either to ignore them for being small and inconsequential, or to try and brazen it out later when they become too big.

There are other compulsions, too, like “coalition dharma” which made former prime minister Manmohan Singh turn a blind eye, probably at the behest of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to the telecom spectrum scam because sacking the then telecom minister, Andimuthu Raja, might have persuaded the latter’s party, the DMK, to bring down the government by withdrawing support.

At present, the question of coalition dharma does not arise because Modi runs a one-party – some will say, one-man – government. But his government seems to believe, like its predecessor, that it will be able to ride out the storm.

There are differences, however, between the two situations. While Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi faced little internal opposition when the various controversies were eroding the Congress reputation, Modi is less secure. Already, the BJP’s octogenarian patriarch, L.K. Advani, who is supposed to visualize the right path for the party – Marg Darshak – has hinted that those suspected of wrong-doing should step down, as he did when his name was mentioned in the hawala scandal during the Narasimha Rao years in the early nineties.

VyapamScam


Advani’s observation was evidently aimed at Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje. The latter, meanwhile, has incurred the wrath of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) because of the demolition of several temples in Jaipur for a Metro construction project.

It is these multiple anti-government voices within the saffron camp which differentiates Modi’s tenure from that of the Congress. The prime minister will be in greater trouble if the Supreme Court’s monitoring of the Vyapam scam hints at the Chouhan government’s culpability – already suggested by the police report of the suicide of a medical student when her autopsy referred to strangulation.

When Modi was at the crest of the wave which took him to power, he must have expected a relatively smooth run with the economy slowly picking up and he managing to contain the saffron hotheads. But the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Modi couldn’t have imagined that so many scandals will afflict his regime when it is only just over a year old.

Used as he was to ruling with an iron hand in Gujarat, he is seemingly unprepared to deal with a situation when it is threatening to spin out of control. Now, to recover his poise, he has to act against the suspects, for procrastination will only make things worse. (IANS)

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Modi pens foreword for Hema Malini’s biography

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Hema Malini

New Delhi, Oct 13 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has penned a “short, crisp and sweet” foreword for “Beyond The Dreamgirl”, an authorised biography of actress and BJP MP Hema Malini.

The book, by former editor of Stardust and producer Ram Kamal Mukherjee, will be launched on October 16, when the “evergreen beauty” turns 69. Its launch also marks the celebration of Hema Malini’s glorious run of 50 years in Indian showbiz.

“Our PM has written very briefly in the book about his feelings for Hemaji. It’s short, crisp and sweet, not rubble and bubble. It’s an honour for me as an author and for Hemaji also that it is perhaps the first time that an active Prime Minister has written a foreword for a book on a Bollywood actor,” Mukherjee told IANS over the phone from Mumbai.

Having started her film career in 1968 with Raj Kapoor-starrer “Sapno Ka Saudagar”, she regaled movie buffs with roles in films like “Seeta Aur Geeta”, “Sholay”, “Dream Girl” and “Satte Pe Satta”. An accomplished classical dancer, Hema Malini earned the epithet of ‘Dreamgirl’ for her flawless beauty, and became a pioneering female superstar in an otherwise male-oriented film industry.

In 1999, Hema Malini campaigned for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the Lok Sabha elections in Gurdaspur, Punjab. She is now a BJP MP from Mathura constituency.

“I guess it’s all because of Hemaji’s credentials and contribution to art and cinema that Mr Modi agreed to pen the foreword. When I was interacting with his office, they were very happy that Hemaji did not just limit her talk in the book to Bollywood,” said Mukherjee, who had in 2005 released a coffee table book called “Hema Malini Diva Unveiled”.

“Beyond The Dreamgirl”, published by HarperCollins India, will give readers an in-depth look into her life.

“It is divided into 23 chapters, covering her childhood, teens, Bollywood, rise as an actor, romance, colleagues, marriage, her second innings, launching Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Dil Aashna Hai’ — which she directed — her ballet, her political journey and spiritual journey. There are two chapters dedicated to her daughters Esha and Ahana.

“She has also spoken about her Agra accident and her singing career. We have summed it all up with a chapter called ‘Bliss’. This book will also have Hemaji’s family tree, which has not been published earlier, and there will be a lot of exclusive unseen photographs from her personal, professional and political spheres,” Mukherjee said.

The ageless talent has shared an insight into her life with Dharmendra as well as spoken on political figures like Modi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj.

How did Mukherjee get Modi to pen the foreword?

“It was not something thought of when I started writing the book two years ago. I started my research and wanted somebody else to do the foreword,” he said, without naming the film industry person whom he had approached.

“It was almost like a miracle to have Mr Modi write for us. When I discussed it with Hemaji, her first expression was, ‘I hope you know what you’re saying. I know you’re under pressure, but I think you’re losing your mind’.

“When I said there’s no harm in trying, she said, ‘You try and do whatever you want to do’. Then it was a process.”

The writer feels it’s the actress’ constant effort in promoting Indian classical music and dance through her ballets on Hindu mythological characters like Durga and Meera, which Modi appreciates.

“I think Mr Modi liked her inclination towards classical dance and music and how she promotes it at international platforms. I think this is a USP of Hema Maliniji, apart from she being Hema Malini. And I guess that’s also what justifies the title of the book.”(IANS)

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Actor “Prabhas” extends support to Modi’s Clean India campaign

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Prabhas extends support to Modi's Clean India campaign
wikipedia

Chennai, Sep 29 : “Baahubali” fame Prabhas on Friday said he extends his full support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Swachhata Hi Seva” movement, adding that he sees the Clean India campaign not as a duty but as a habit.

“As we approach this significant day, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhiji, who always strived for cleanliness, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the great work happening on making India clean and green with the Swachh Bharat Initiative,” Prabhas posted on his Facebook page.

Swachh Bharat: 10 easy steps that will make “clean india campaign” successful

He added that Clean India is something he personally believes in.

“Keeping my country clean and healthy is not just my duty as a citizen but also a habit. To all those who feel the same, let’s continue doing our best for a cleaner India,” he said.

Earlier this month, Modi had written personal letters to celebrities, industrialists and noted personalities to enlist their support for the initiative.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Modi said Swachhata is for each of us to practice.

He also said the days leading up to Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 should be about “encouraging widespread participation in cleanliness initiatives across the country.”

Superstar Rajinikanth and filmmaker S.S Rajamouli have already expressed their support.(ians)

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PM Narendra Modi: Don’t believe in vote bank politics, Nation comes first

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

Varanasi, Sep 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday, said that the BJP did not believe in vote bank politics as the country was above party politics. This is his second day of the visit to his parliamentary constituency in Varanasi.

Modi told a gathering that he had launched a major war against corruption and the corrupt to ease the life of the common man. He also said cleanliness was worship for him as it could rid the poor of various diseases and a lot of economic burdens.

“Governance for us is not about votes or winning elections. The priority is the development of the nation. For us, the country is bigger than party,” he said, in his address to farmers in Shahanshahpur on the outskirts of Varanasi.

He said most of the problems faced by the common people in India were rooted in corruption.

“I have launched a war against it and will take it further to ensure that graft is weeded out from the country.”(IANS)