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Shiv Sena Declares Rahul Gandhi a Threat For BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections

It went on to add that ditto was the scenario with the post of President, since many had hoped that Advani at least would be catapulted to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in June 2017.

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A day after asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to refrain from “ridiculing” Rahul Gandhi for declaring his ambition to become Prime Minister, the Shiv Sena on Friday showered praises on the Congress chief, saying “he poses a challenge to the BJP” in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

“This is not the Rahul Gandhi of 2014. He is a changed person now. He has weathered abuse and criticism to emerge intellectually strong.

“He can throw up a serious challenge to the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2019,” the Sena cautioned in an editorial in the party mouthpieces “Saamana” and “Dopahar Ka Saamana”.

Asserting that “Gandhi has acquired political strength and clout”, the ruling BJP ally pointed out that this was effectively demonstrated in the December 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls.

“The BJP leaders mock him in vulgar language, but Rahul Gandhi has always maintained Modi’s dignity as Prime Minister and never stooped low to criticise him ever.

“This proves that Rahul Gandhi possesses political intellect and culture, which even his opponents would concede,” the Sena added.

However, the Sena wondered why the BJP was running “so scared and indulging in chest-beating” over Gandhi’s desire to become the Prime Minister should his party won.

“Today, the BJP wants to know how — with a queue of Prime Minister aspirants among the opposition parties — could Gandhi declare himself as a contender for the top post?

"He can throw up a serious challenge to the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2019," the Sena cautioned in an editorial in the party mouthpieces "Saamana" and "Dopahar Ka Saamana".
Shiv Sena supports Rahul’s ambition to become PM, IANS

“This question should be replied to by the BJP’s senior leaders like L.K. Advani or Murli Manohar Joshi and others,” the Sena said in a veiled reference to the side-lining of the party’s senior leaders under the current dispensation.

It went on to add that ditto was the scenario with the post of President, since many had hoped that Advani at least would be catapulted to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in June 2017.

But finally, Modi and BJP President Amit Shah had their way and they went ahead with their choice without consulting any of the allies and friendly parties, it said, adding how it had proposed the name of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for President.

“So, why is the BJP now demanding that Congress should consult its (UPA) allies before declaring the candidate for the Prime Minister’s post? Let the people of the country decide whether Gandhi is good for them or not,” the Sena said.

Also Read: At 7.4%, India Will be the Fastest Growing Major Economy in 2018 

The Sena advised the BJP that instead of ridiculing Gandhi, “the BJP should have welcomed his statement and countered it by throwing a challenge to the Congress that it would defeat him in the 2019 battle”.

The Sena reiterated the shabby treatment meted out by the BJP to its allies, and although it came to power with their support, the allies were rewarded “with back-stabbing, damage and destruction”.

“The people will be the final judge whether Gandhi will become the Prime Minister or be dumped. Even Modi was very nice before the (2014) elections. But later on, peoples’ pain and problems continue… The masses are reeling under it like a donkey carrying a heavy load… The only difference is, after each election, the donkey’s master changes,” the Sena concluded. (IANS)

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Fall Of The Currency And Increase In Oil Prices: India ‘s Turmoil

The falling rupee has given a boost to some of India’s most lucrative exports, such as software services and pharmaceuticals, which add up to billions of dollars.

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India
Rajesh Kumar, left, shares a ride to work with another employee, Dilip Swain, right, as higher petrol prices in India begin to be felt in people's pocketbooks.VOA

The fall of the currency of India to record lows and rising global oil prices have raised worries that the world’s fastest growing economy faces headwinds that could hurt the fortunes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in next year’s general elections.

From people filling fuel at gas stations to thousands of students heading out to study overseas, the impact of the slumping rupee is sparking discontent.

Having plunged by about 12 percent against the dollar this year, the rupee is one of Asia’s worst faring currencies, and as in other countries, the slide has accelerated since the crash of the Turkish lira.

“The reasons are global. We must bear in mind that in last few months, dollar has strengthened against almost every currency,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently as he tried to send out reassuring signals that India’s economy is on track.

India
The rupee has plunged by about 12 percent this year raising fears of spiraling inflation. VOA

The rupee’s sharp depreciation comes at a time when the economy had recovered from a slowdown and surged to a two-year high in the quarter that ended in June. Forecasts put growth for this year at 7.5 percent.

Economy will slow

But economists warn this momentum will be difficult to sustain as the tumbling rupee, along with rising crude oil prices, takes a toll on growth. India, the world’s third largest oil importer, gets almost 80 percent of its fuel needs overseas.

“The government needs to mellow down on growth aspirations,” said N.R. Bhanumurthy, economist with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. “The growth needs to come down to a little less than 7 percent.”

Even as the government faces the prospect of a slowing economy, it is under pressure to lower taxes on gas and diesel to bring down the sharp rise in prices. Fuel is one of the most heavily taxed items in India, with rates as high as nearly 50 percent. Prices vary from state to state, but they have gone up by about 14 percent this year.

Hoping to cash in on the growing disaffection over the surge in fuel prices and the sliding rupee, opposition parties led nationwide protests that shutdown offices and schools in several cities this week.

India
Discontent with spiraling fuel prices poses a challenge to Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of general elections next year. VOA

The government dismissed the protests, saying that although people faced momentary difficulties, they understood they were because of factors beyond its control.

Political analysts are not so sure, pointing out that fuel prices are a politically sensitive issue in India and usually result in a spike in inflation.

“Anger is rising, there is resentment,” said Satish Misra at the Observer Research Foundation, warning the ruling party will face a backlash “Obviously that is going to have a negative impact on the electoral fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party, there is no doubt about that.”

Warnings from economists

Among those who are upset with the high fuel prices is Rajesh Kumar, who commutes 30 kilometers to the advertising agency where he works. Hit by the higher prices that eat into his income, he has started sharing the ride with another employee.

India
Narendra Modi. Wikimedia Commons

“I have given up the idea of buying another car,” he said despondently. “I will not be able to afford the cost of running it.”

Economists however have warned the government against giving in to populist pressures ahead of a series of state polls later this year and general elections around April next year. They say lowering taxes on fuel or taking measures to prop up the currency will strain the country’s finances and hurt the economy in the long run.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“One needs to be more careful and vigilant,” Bhanumurthy said. “It is easy for India to stay with low growth than experiencing the high deficit.”

But there is also some good news for the Indian economy. The falling rupee has given a boost to some of India’s most lucrative exports, such as software services and pharmaceuticals, which add up to billions of dollars. (VOA)