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Congress, Trinamool MPs walk out from Lok Sabha over Dalit issue

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New Delhi: The chopping of limbs of two Dalit men in Abohar district of Punjab created an uproar in the Lok Sabha which led to the staged walkout of the Congress and Trinamool Congress members.

The Bharatiya Janata Party members protested when Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan asked Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia to speak after the question hour. During the question hour, the Congress members raised slogans against the Punjab government and the Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu claimed that an attempt was being made in order to libel an elected government.

He said the Congress members first abused an elected government by coming near the speaker’s podium and then sought to raise the issue in the house.

“Everyday, it is becoming a practice. Please understand the sentiments of the house,” Naidu added.

Dismissal of Shiromani Akali Dal – Bharatiya Janata Party government in Punjab was demanded by the members of congress over the abhor crime committed.

“ Going by the same logic even the Uttar Pradesh government needed to be dismissed over the Dadri lynching incident”, said Naidu.

“Matters pertaining to the states should not be raised in the house”, said speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

“Since the Modi government came to the power there were several incidents of atrocities against Dalits and women during the past 18 months. This is a national issue”, said Scindia.

As soon as Scindia referred to the crushing of a school student by a bus allegedly belonging to a company owned by an Akali leader and sought to blame the ruling party leadership in Punjab, members from the treasury benches were up on their feet.

The speaker asked Scindia to sit down, as Congress members gradually gathered near the podium.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy urged Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to allow his cabinet colleague Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a Shiromani Akali Dal MP from Bathinda to speak.

Congress and Trinamool Congress members walked out of the house soon after Harsimrat Kaur began to speak.

Harsimrat Kaur, the minister for food processing industries, said that the Congress protested in the Lok Sabha after a court order in the National Herald case and accused it of playing politics on issues concerning the Dalits.

She accused the Congress of trying to stall the country’s progress by stalling the Goods and Services, Tax Bill.

She said Dalits formed a sizeable section of the Punjab population and the state had the lowest rate of crime against the weaker sections.

Harsimrat Kaur said an arrest has been made in the case and maintained that it was a result of a clash between two gangs.

Limbs of two men were chopped off on Saturday at a farmhouse owned by an Akali Dal leader in Punjab, as per media reports.

One of the men, Bheem Tank, died on the way to hospital after both his hands and legs were chopped off. Gurjant Singh, who lost one hand, was admitted to a hospital in Amritsar in a serious condition.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Will Congress Party be Able to Survive in Future in Face of Modi Onslaught?

It was India’s “Grand Old Party.” The Congress Party ruled the country for 55 out of 71 years since independence

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From left, Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi, her son and party President Rahul Gandhi, and former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attend a Congress Working Committee meeting in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

It was India’s “Grand Old Party.” The Congress Party ruled the country for 55 out of 71 years since independence. But following the party’s crushing electoral debacle for a second time, there are questions about its future as the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty at its helm is unable to counter the most powerful leader India has produced in decades: Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Contrary to expectations, India’s mammoth general election turned out to be virtually a no-contest between Modi and Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi as it became a presidential-style battle.

“It is not what went wrong with the Congress, it is more of a story of what went right for Prime Minister Modi. He stood as a tall leader, as an achiever, as somebody who understood people’s aspirations,” says political commentator Rasheed Kidwai, who has authored a biography of Rahul Gandhi’s mother, Sonia Gandhi. On the other hand, “Rahul Gandhi is temperamentally not a power wielder. He is a trustee of power.”

The sixth member of the Nehru Gandhi family to lead the party, Rahul is often seen as a “reluctant politician”, despite his spirited campaign to revive the party and challenge Modi after its rout in 2014.

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves toward his supporters during an election campaign rally in New Delhi, May 8, 2019. VOA

Gandhi’s rallies drew crowds, but his efforts to project Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party as a threat to India’s secular traditions or to highlight issues of economic distress failed to resonate. His attempts to nail him for corruption in a deal to buy Rafale French fighter jets fell flat. His promise of a minimum wage for India’s poorest families was met with skepticism, even among the poor.

On the other hand, Modi, successfully wooed voters with his message of strident nationalism and subtle appeal to the majority Hindu community. Along with it, there was another theme: he projected himself as the humble son of a tea seller, a self made man who fought all odds to reach the top post in contrast to what he called the “entitled” Gandhi who had inherited the mantle of leadership of the Congress Party. It drew cheers from the country’s emerging middle and lower-middle classes, exhausted with dynastic politics.

The Congress Party’s tally of 52 seats in parliament was only a notch higher than the 44 seats it won in 2014 in the 545-member parliament. The party’s candidates returned empty-handed in half the Indian states and in several others the party only mustered a single digit tally.Modi’s BJP won 303 seats.

The scale of its losses not just crushed hopes the Congress Party would either lead a credible challenge to Modi or return as invigorated opposition – it once again raised questions over the leadership of the Gandhi family.

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The sixth member of the Nehru Gandhi family to lead the party, Rahul is often seen as a “reluctant politician”, despite his spirited campaign to revive the party and challenge Modi after its rout in 2014. VOA

Rahul Gandhi has offered to resign, but expectedly the party that has no second rung of leadership has turned it down. “The party will fulfill its role as a strong opposition. We need Rahul Gandhi to lead us in these challenging times,” Congress Party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said after a meeting of the party’s senior leaders on the weekend.

Rahul Gandhi also lost the Amethi constituency the party had held for 50 years in Uttar Pradesh state. In another humiliating blow for the Gandhi family, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was appointed in a senior post to revive the party, failed to make an impact. Rahul’s mother, Sonia Gandhi, won her party’s only seat in the state.

Rahul Gandhi’s victory in another constituency in South India means he will continue to be a lawmaker. Dynastic politics is not limited to the Congress Party: lawmakers from political families are a routine feature of Indian politics. But political commentators say in an era showing a preference for strong, populist leaders, Modi was the clear victor.

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here are questions about its future as the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty at its helm is unable to counter the most powerful leader India has produced in decades: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia Commons

“There is a new sense of nationalism sweeping across many conventional democracies. There is a yearning for a strong leader that captures the public imagination,” according to political analyst Ajoy Bose. “I don’t really see the conventional Congress Party or the conventional leadership mounting a challenge to Modi. He has completely taken the country by storm.”

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Gandhi tried to give a positive message after the party’s rout. “We have a different vision of India [from Modi]”, said the head of the party that has long projected itself as a defender of India’s minorities, such as Muslims who worry about religious polarization and a rise in hate crimes since Modi came to power. “There is no need to be afraid. We will continue to work hard and we will eventually win.”

But it may be difficult to reinvent what analysts call a “fading party.” They say Modi’s BJP now occupies the dominant political space that the Congress party did for decades. “Congress is going to get reduced to, you know, like the Liberals did in Britain,” says Rasheed Kidwai. (VOA)