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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dilemma: BJP needs a ‘ Swacch Party’ campaign first to reshape India

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beedi1

By Harshmeet Singh

The beedi baron, BJP MP Shyam Charan Gupta’s recent remarks where he dismissed any connection between smoking and health problems has left the saffron party red faced.  Gupta was quoted saying “I can produce a lot of people in front of you who are chain smokers of beedi and till date they have had no disease, no cancer… You get diabetes due to eating sugar, rice, potatoes. Why don’t you write warnings for all these things as well,” Notably, Shyam Charan Gupta is the founder and chairman of Shyam Group of Companies, whose flagship unit is Shyam Beedi.

Seizing the opportunity to corner the government on this matter, the opposition parties highlighted a ‘conflict of interest’ arising from Gupta’s membership in the committee framing laws on tobacco marketing and his tobacco trade. What the opposition parties pointed out was no rocket science. Gupta’s presence in the committee is akin to a criminal being a part of his own jury. The BJP MP from Allahabad, Gupta went on to press his views and asserted that beedis have ‘nil’ adverse effects on the health and there must be separate laws from chewed and smoked tobacco since smoking doesn’t cause any harm. Acting in a damage control mode, Modi suggested the health ministry to enhance the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products from existing 40% to 65% of the size of the packing.

Unfortunately for the BJP, Shyam Charan Gupta isn’t the only ‘odd man out’ in a group of 281 Lok Sabha MPs and 47 Rajya Sabha MPs. Ever since the BJP stormed to power last year, its MPs have been making news constantly, albeit for the wrong reasons. The ambitious initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and Clean India campaign lose their sheen when compared with some of the indigenous campaigns run by some BJP MPs including Ghar Wapasi, Love Jihad, Racist attacks on Sonia Gandhi and many others. For the BJP, the party which successfully captured the country’s imagination by fighting the General elections on the plank of clean politics and good governance, these maverick MPs working on self hatched lines pose a bigger threat than the opposition parties.

While campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections, the then PM candidate Narendra Modi openly appealed to the people to vote directly for him and not their local candidates. He promised to consider the entire country his own constituency if he became the PM. Now, more than 10 months after taking oath, the BJP is realizing that it would need much more than Narendra Modi alone to run the country efficiently. The BJP is slowing turning into a video game where the player has to step on the lights on the ground as and when they turn red. With so many lights turning red every second, the PM would find himself much stretched to control the game and cover the lights.

The Vyapam scam

An acronym for ‘Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal’ or the ‘Professional Examination Board’, the Vyapam scam diluted the image of BJP’s blue eyed boy, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Though his name wasn’t directly mentioned in relation to the scam by the SIT, a number of other BJP leaders have been under the limelight for their alleged misuse of power in the scam. Some of the most well known faces associated with this scam include Madhya Pradesh’s ex education minister, Laxmikant Sharma, Governor Ram Naresh Yadav, Ganga rejuvenation minister Uma Bharti. With the Supreme Court directing the SIT to complete its investigations by 15th July, the BJP would be anxiously waiting to face the fate of its leaders.

Sakshi Maharaj

Meet Sakshi Maharaj, the man who wants Hindu women to have at least four kids. He kicked off another storm by saying that ‘madarsas in the country are teaching terrorism’. Whenever asked about his statements, BJP’s response remains ‘It’s his personal views, not the party’s’. But what the party is forgetting is that it was their leaders that asked the people to vote for Modi and not their local candidate. And since the public obliged them, isn’t it the party’s responsibility to be answerable for their MPs’ actions? The BJP’s reaction to all his actions was a solitary ‘show cause notice’ which ended the matter then and there!

Giriraj Singh 

Giriraj Singh knows how to be in the news. He wants to send Modi’s critics to Pakistan. He calls Nitish Kumar a ‘dehati aurat’. And when people thought he had exhausted his repertoire of insane comments, he tweeted this about the deadly school attack in Peshawar – “Whatever is happening in Pakistan is called friendly fight.”  The most recent of Singh’s obnoxious comments was about Sonia Gandhi and Congress Party’s love for her fair skin. While he painted the country with a brush of racism, his party said that the matter ended as soon as he offered to apologize to Sonia Gandhi!

Sadly for India and the BJP, this list is not exhaustive. For the BJP, which is hoping to ride on ‘Brand Modi’ for the next 4 years or so, the realization of truth must happen soon or the country would be headed far away from Mr. Modi’s dreams. A ‘swachh BJP’ initiative is perhaps the need of the hour for the BJP!

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Karnataka Polls: BJP On The Way to Win, Congress May Get Hard Defeat

Any party or grouping will need 113 of the total 224 seats to secure a majority in the Assembly. Polling did not take place in two constituencies on Saturday.

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A state of 60 million people, Karnataka is home to the Information Technology hub of Benguluru and was ruled by the BJP once before.
Congress may have to taste defeat in Karnataka, VOA

The BJP was on Tuesday set to return to power in its southern bastion Karnataka as its candidates crossed the half-way mark in vote count, stunning and ousting the ruling Congress and leaving the JD-S at the third spot.

Noisy celebrations broke out in party offices in Bengaluru, New Delhi and across Karnataka as Bharatiya Janata Party nominees were on the victory lap in 118 of the 222 constituencies which voted on Saturday.

This was a dramatic jump from the 40 seats the BJP won five years ago.

The Congress, desperate to retain power in the state amid shrinking appeal nationally, suffered major blows and was ahead only in 62 seats, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah trailing in both the constituencies he contested: Badami and Chamundeshwari.

The Congress leader was way behind G.T Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal-Secular in Chamundeshwari, Election Commission officials said. And after leading initially, Siddaramaiah fell behind B.R. Sriramulu of the BJP in Badami.

In contrast, the BJP’s Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa was ahead of his Congress rival by more than 11,000 votes in Shikaripura.

Energy Minister and Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar said that the numbers indicated that his party was on the way out after five years in power.

Any party or grouping will need 113 of the total 224 seats to secure a majority in the Assembly. Polling did not take place in two constituencies on Saturday.

The BJP was overjoyed. “We are in a jubilant mood because we have crossed the half-way mark. We are confident of winning,” spokesman S. Shantharam told IANS.

BJP activists and leaders celebrated noisily in both Bengaluru and New Delhi, waving party flags and shouting slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, their main vote-getter, and party President Amit Shah.

There were also celebrations outside the residence of Yeddyurappa, who has been Chief Minister earlier too.

Of the 2,654 candidates in the fray for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections, at least 883 are crorepatis and 645 have criminal cases against them, said two watchdogs after analysing their affidavits filed with the Election Commission (EC).
Karnataka Polls counting suggests big win for BJP, wikimedia commons

The Janata Dal-Secular of former Prime Minister H.D. Dewe Gowda, which has been expected to play the role of a kingmaker in the event of a hung Assembly, was leading in 40 seats — the same number it won five years ago.

As the vote count progressed, BJP leaders became assertive, saying they were confident of taking power again in Karnataka while Congress leaders began to speak about the possibility of an alliance with the JD-S.

BJP leader and Union Minister Sadanand Gowda said that there was no question of any alliance.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who is in charge of Karnataka, met BJP President Amit Shah in New Delhi.

Analysts said the BJP was leading in Lingayat dominated seats and the JD-S in Vokkaliga dominated areas.

Expectations of a BJP victory in Karnataka lifted the key Indian equity indices during the mid-morning trade session on Tuesday.

Modi’s Performance: Survey Reports That Significant Number of People Rate Performance of Modi Government as Below Expectations

According to market observers, broadly subdued Asian indices and disappointing macro-economic inflation data points released on Monday capped some gains.

Sector-wise, healthy buying was witnessed in banking, capital goods, metals, consumer durables and automobile stocks.

The Sensex has so far touched a high of 35,993.53 points and a low of 35,498.83 points during the intra-day trade. (IANS)