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‘Manufactured rebellion by rabid anti-BJP elements’: Arun Jaitley on #AwardWapsi

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Patna: Hours after eminent Indian scientist P M Bhargava announced he would return his Padma Bhushan award and over 50 historians issued a joint statement in protest against the “growing intolerance in the country”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that “manufactured rebellion” is growing at a faster speed now.

Jaitley alleged that those returning their awards were “rabid anti-BJP elements” and that some of them had even campaigned against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his constituency Varanasi in 2014.

“The fact that (the protest) has been stepped up in the middle of the Bihar election I’m now constrained to say that this is electioneering by other means,” Jaitley said.  

Eminent scientist Bhargava, who was the founder-director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), said on Thursday that religious belief was a personal choice and should not interfere in politics.

“The fear as we see in democracy today… the spread of Hindutva… I believe that (religion) really is a personal matter. It should stay as a personal matter. It should not make incursions into politics as it is doing now,” he said.

The 87-year-old said he also finds statements by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat that women should restrict themselves to doing household chores, as “detestable”.

Bhargava said he will meet the home secretary and give back the award. He also encouraged the youth brigade in the scientific community to come forward and protest.

Meanwhile, over 50 historians on Thursday came out strongly against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not making any reassuring statement following concerns over “highly vitiated atmosphere” prevailing in the country.

A total of 53 historians including leading names like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, KN Pannikar and Mridula Mukherjee have, in a joint statement released by Sahmat, raised their serious concerns over recent developments. 

“Differences of opinion are being sought to be settled by using physical violence. Arguments are met not with counter-arguments but with bullets,” the statement said referring to the Dadri lynching incident and the recent ink attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni during a book launch function in Mumbai.

Incidentally, the veteran researcher is one of the scientists who started the online petition on Tuesday, signed by at least 100 senior scientists, addressed to President Pranab Mukherjee against growing intolerance.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Intact

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient

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Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.
Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.

By Sagarneel Sinha

There have been lots of discussions among the political circles that JDU led by Bihar Chief
Minister Nitish Kumar is upset with the BJP and trying to send signals to erst allies — RJD and the Congress. This led to speculations that Nitish may once again join the Grand Alliance (GA) leaving the NDA camp. Already, RJD’s new commander Tejasvi Yadav has clearly stated that Nitish led JDU will not be welcomed in the GA. Despite all the odds, if (suppose) GA partners accommodate Nitish, he wouldn’t be the driving force of the alliance as in 2015. Also, Nitish cannot afford to go alone like in 2014 when his party fetched only 2 seats!

Then which is the correct way for JDU? It is to go with the BJP in the upcoming 2019 polls.
JDU’s advantage in this case is the present situation of the BJP. Currently, the saffron party is not in a strong position as the party would be facing anti-incumbency from a strong RJD led alliance in the state. BJP’s traditional voters are the upper castes who account for 17% of the electorate. This votebank is not enough for the party to help to win elections. The main opposition party — RJD still commands over a larger votebank than BJP. RJD is still a dominant force among the Yadavs and the Muslims who account for 31% of the population. It means BJP has to minus the 31% votes and rely on the rest — 69%. Out of these, 16% are the Mahadalits — a large portion of whom generally hail Nitish Kumar as their leader. Also, there are Kurmis, an OBC group consisting of 4% votes — considered as the supporters of JDU. Nitish Kumar himself is also a Kurmi.

Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar
Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar.

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient. However, if these votebanks are joined together they form around 31-32%. Plus, to gain the extra votes, both the parties have the option to rely on the personal charisma of Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, there is a power tussle between the two allies to get a respectable share of seats.

This power tussle is because of a strong BJP which earlier used to be a junior ally. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections changed the political scenario of the state where BJP emerged as the largest party in terms of vote share and seats. JDU knows the reality of a new emerging BJP, though it is pushing hard to gain a respectable share of seats for the Lok Sabha elections. Instead, Nitish Kumar has another option — giving the bigger chunk to the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections and the latter playing the junior partner for the 2020 assembly elections if held timely. Given the current situation in the country, in a crucial state like Bihar, BJP can hardly reject JDU as the later still commands over 15-16% votes — a very crucial votebank for winning maximum seats in the 2019 polls. Importance of JDU can also be explained by BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to Patna to have breakfast and dinner with Nitish Kumar. Though in politics there are no permanent friends or foes, so any perfect prediction is impossible. But given the current situation, JDU and BJP parting their ways seems unlikely as both the parties are in need of each other as already highlighted by Amit Shah that the two allies would fight the Lok Sabha elections together. Smiling face of Nitish Kumar was also an indication that the meetings with Amit Shah were fine.