Friday March 23, 2018
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Biased media? AAP termed ‘devil’ but no debates on LG’s moves


By Dr. Kallol Guha

The tussle between the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor has been a topic of discussion on the news channels. The discussions seem to point that people’s aspirations, rights, privileges and quality of life are not the goals of any truly independent and free nation and this has always been a ‘fundamental’ issue.  In turn, it is the role of the citizens to serve the constitution, no matter how oppressive it might be.

The so-called experts argue – some passionately, some hysterically- to establish that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is wrong, support the Lieutenant Governor, Najeeb Jung. AAP has been showered with allegations that they can’t govern and are not a team player with words like ‘inexperienced’ and ‘anarchist’ being thrown around. No debate ever bothered to emphasize on the views which AAP has been trying to communicate to the public and propose to investigate to protect the interest of the people.

There are certain questions that media should raise with respect to this tussle. AAP has claimed to have busted the racket, which controlled transfer postings of SGM in lucrative areas that were not done on the basis of public interest, but was an industry where such decisions were made through bribery. The Lieutenant Governor reportedly used his influence to get control over transfer posting. Isn’t it pertinent to ask whether Lieutenant Governor is aware of the transfer posting industry?  If posting has indeed taken the shape of an industry and influenced by bribery has AAP done anything wrong? Why does Lieutenant Governor want to take over that responsibility from AAP?

The mainstream media has failed to highlight that when the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) prosecuted a constable, who was caught red- handed while taking bribe and was taken into custody, the Lieutenant Governor’s office along with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) appealed to the Supreme Court  for his bail.

Lieutenant Governor had made all preparations to transfer ACB office under its own control until the High Court ruling prevented that transfer. AAP said that Delhi Government has jurisdiction over Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB). Shouldn’t this kind of behaviour of the Lieutenant Governor be discussed in public?

While AAP claims that they have organized Mohalla Sabha and are trying to engage common people in running their day to day administration of daily life, has the Lieutenant Governor made any efforts to support such practices? Or has he tried to evaluate the public reaction to such Sabhas?

No debate or discussion has been held to check whether actions of Lieutenant Governor or AAP are helping the common man to make things easier for the common man. In one debate, a Congress spokesperson complained that areas in Delhi have no water, electricity and sewer lines and AAP has not done anything to improve such condition. No reporter, viewer or panellist bothered to point to the Congress spokesperson that ask how can she be so shameless even to ask such a question when Congress politicians were swindling and looting the nation since 1947. They did not install such basic amenities and expect others to do that in 100 days under collective siege.

Referring to the statement of a former Congress Minister who at a rare moment of honesty said during the cabinet discussion on land acquisition that for industry in tribal areas one gets the impression as if there are no habitation on the land in question, they do not even exist. This is a very significant observation. Make no mistake, in the tussle between the Lieutenant Governor and Delhi Government one may see same approach. People in the Lieutenant Governor camp might feel that people’s role is to serve Parliament, Constitution and law, no matter how oppressive or harmful that might be. Not the other way around.

Instead of these pertinent issues, flowery words are used to determine whether the water in the bottle or bottle is in the water?  These worthless wordy discussions will continue as long as they are helpful to confuse people so that common people may be distracted from identifying who is out to strangle them with a mask of “DEMOCRACY, CONSTITUTION, FREEDOM.”

Truth is no one gives your right, you have to fight for it. This truth is manifesting itself in here as well. Time has come for people to decide whether they will allow themselves to be fooled continuously or identify who are with them and who are not.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of NewsGram.

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  • Neeru Bahl

    I think media houses should read this masterpiece , may be they get some enlightenment!

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Indian Politics and Polity Shift to the Right and Away from Europe

India’s 2014 election was a clear rejection of the long serving Indian Congress Party and its soft socialism

Rahul Gandhi becomes president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi steps down
Rahul Gandhi steps in as President of Congress, Wikipedia

By Dr. Richard Benkin, Chicago

  • India is world’s largest democracy
  • Indian politics is always under international coverage
  • India is witnessing political shift due to its leaders and their transformation

The great democracy was electing its national leader.  It was a fight between the party in power with a leftist tinge; and the more conservative opposition with its upstart candidate. The media was rooting openly for the leftist candidate and would stop at almost nothing, even vilifying the conservative upstart as evil, not just wrong.  The candidate on the left seemed to feel entitled, that being head of state was all in the family.  And, as you probably have guessed, that candidate lost.  You might or might not have guessed that, despite the familiarity to American voters, this was not the United States.  It was India.

will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons
Narendra Modi’ win in 2014 elections stunned the whole nation. Wikimedia Commons

India’s 2014 election was a clear rejection of the long serving Indian Congress Party and its soft socialism.  Its candidate, then 43 year old, Rahul Gandhi, was the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Prime Ministers; and though India is the world’s largest democracy, not the world’s largest monarchy, it was “his turn” to take the nation’s top spot.

The similarities between the Indian Congress Party and the US Democrat Party stop, however, with how the two parties and their dynastic candidates reacted to their defeats.  While there is ample evidence that the Democrats are moving further to the left, India’s Congress, and especially its former candidate, seem to have taken the lessons of their defeat to heart.  Moreover, we too often gauge a polity’s position on the left-right spectrum by which major party dominates.  In the Indian case, however, we get a deeper understanding by examining changes in the out of power party.

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi Elected as President of Congress Amidst Celebration of Followers

The Indian National Congress Party was founded in 1885 and, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, was the principal leader of the movement that led to India’s independence from Great Britain in 1947.  It has ruled India for roughly 57.5 of its 70.5 years as a modern nation (81.6 percent of its entire existence).  Congress fashions itself left-center party with “democratic socialism” as one of the party’s guiding principles; and over the years, I have written a number of articles, criticizing what I believe to be weak Congress policies.  It has followed the lead of soft left European parties, in contrast with the Indian nationalism of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Amitabh Tripathi is a well-known Indian political commentator.  I caught up with him in New Delhi in February and asked him about how the Congress Party was reacting to its crushing 2014 defeat.

RB:  So, was the 2014 election a strong statement about traditional Indian politics?

AT:  Definitely.  Till 1991, Indian politics was at a status quo with socialist, leftist, and communist stances prevalent.  After 1991, right wing politics emerged as a political force.  Since then, Indian politics has shifted to the right; and from time to time for more than two decades, left and right engaged in direct political confrontations.  Congress led the coalition of leftists; and the BJP emerged as the leader of the right.  The BJP ruled the country for six years (1998-2004) and its policies swung to the right, including a vocal and unapologetic relationship with Israel, moving forward strategically with the United States, and exploring India’s role in the Indian Ocean to contain China and its imperialistic ambitions. When the BJP lost power to a Congress led coalition in 2004, the Indian polity again shifted left; and Congress became a complete replica of its 1960s self—a totally leftist party.

Rahul Gandhi becomes the president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi Steps Down
Rahul Gandhi traveled to many Hindu temples during the campaign (something he avoided in his unsuccessful 2014 run). It is believed he also did not go to any Muslim places of worship, which was unusual for any top leader from the Congress Party.

In 2014, when elections occurred, the Indian polity moved on to the right on issues from economics to culture.  Before the election, Congress did not read the undercurrent of the people and moved even further left on those issues.  This has been widely acknowledged as the reason for its crushing defeat.

RB:  So it was a real shift to the right among Indians, which sounds a lot like our own experience in 2016.  In the US, the losing Democrat party has reacted by moving further left.  Has India’s Congress tried to understand the reasons behind its defeat?

AT:  The latter statement is correct.  Immediately after losing the elections, Congress realized it was not simply an electoral defeat.  Its ideological stagnation led to the historical loss.  And it tried to rectify that and re-invent itself.

RB:  How have they done that?

AT:  I observed it on three fronts, three major decisions.  First, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the former party President and current head of the dynastic family, took an almost “voluntary” retirement.  She had become the face of hard left and anti-Hindu policies.

RB:  Sounds familiar.  Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi has become the same here, but she does not seem to be going anywhere.

AT:  Second, in ten years of Congress rule, they openly flaunted themselves as very pro-Muslim, which irritated the majority Hindus in India.  But last year, in prestigious elections in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Gujarat), Sonia Gandhi did not address a single rally.  Plus, Congress Party Vice-President (now President) Rahul Gandhi traveled to many Hindu temples during the campaign (something he avoided in his unsuccessful 2014 run).  We believe he also did not go to any Muslim places of worship, which was unusual for any top leader from the Congress Party.  Some people might say it was an opportunistic political move, but I would say it was a well-calculated shift in the party to shed the tags of pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu.

Third, since the days of the freedom movement before independence, and during the rule of Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi (almost the entire period from independence to 1984); Congress followed the policy of demonizing the wealthy and glorifying the poor.  It seems, however, that Rahul Gandhi wants the population to know that he strongly favors the wealth generating middle class and capitalism; he opposes only crony capitalism.  He says the poor should aspire to become wealthy through greater opportunities and employment.

RB:  What about Rahul Gandhi himself?  Does he have a future in Indian politics?

AT:  Since 2014, we have watched his evolution from entitled politician to serious politician who understands the people’s aspirations and country’s need.  Perhaps most importantly has been his understanding of foreign policy and India’s role and responsibilities at a global level.  He has said that he’s ready to take the responsibility of the office of Prime Minister if elected, and he could make a formidable candidate.

Raul Maino
Rahul Gandhi can potentially cause a shift in Indian politics due to his transformation. Twitter

RB:  I’ve heard a lot of people talking positively about him and his growth in my time here.  I believe you also told me he has spent a lot of this time really listening to people from all classes and communities.  Thank you, Amitabh ji, it’s always a pleasure to hear your thoughts, and always a pleasure to be in India.

In a larger context, we have seen a reaction against decades of leftist overreach worldwide:  Donald Trump’s election; Brexit; and a number of elections in Europe rejecting the European Union and loss of national identity (most recently in Italy).  There has been little focus on Asia perhaps because it has not been in the orbit of traditional left-right equations in the West.  India, however, has become a major player on the world stage under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  It has historical conflicts with both Pakistan and China, and can be a major bulwark against Chinese expansion westward.  India also has strengthened its alliances with both the United States and Israel while maintaining relations with Iran.  The rightward movement there is highly significant in plotting future Indian geopolitical moves.

[Richard Benkin is a human rights activist and author with a strong concentration in South Asia.  Amitabh Tripathi appears often on Indian television and in other media.  He is also a contributor to What is Moderate Islam, edited by Richard Benkin.  This interview was conducted in New Delhi on February 27, 2018, while Benkin was there as part of a recently-concluded human rights mission.]