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To give or not to give: Issue over Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s passport

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The passport issue of separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, has put the two alliance partners, BJP and PDP on two different turfs.

BJP has openly objected to the granting of the Indian passport to Geelani. They have demanded an apology from Geelani’s side for his anti- national activities.

“Passport cannot be given to Geelani sahib till he apologises for the mistakes he has committed during the past 25 years.  Passports are issued to Indian citizens and not the ones who don’t believe in India and its democracy. If Geelani sahib wants the passport, then has to fall in the line and follow law of the land,” BJP spokesman Khalid Jehangir was reported as saying in media reports.

This statement was echoed by BJP leader Subramanium Swamy in Delhi as well.

However PDP (People’s Democratic Party) has advocated that the passport should be issued to Geelani on “humanitarian grounds”.

As per media reports PDP spokesman Waheed Ur Rehman Parra said, “Geelani has asked for passport to visit his ailing daughter not to hold a political rally, we should have so much tolerance in a democracy to allow him to do this”.

“He was given passport by previous regime as well, so there is nothing new. If passport can be given to other separatist he cannot be denied this right,” he added.

In 1981, Geelani’s passport was seized by authorities but because of an intervention by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2007, his travel documents were released on medical grounds for travelling to United States. At that time, the passport was issued on Tatkal basis and it was valid for just one year.

Geelani had applied for an Indian visa, to visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia.

Ayaz Akbar, Geelani’s spokesperson, was reported as saying that the separatist leader has applied for a passport purely on personal grounds and not to carry out any political activity.

“It is a humanitarian issue of a father meeting his daughter. We are not ready to beg before the government if they refuse. It would be a violation of basic human rights of an individual. Geelani sahib is not going on a ‘political trip’ to Jeddah but only wishing to meet his daughter who is terminally ill there,” he said.

Amidst all the debate, the Minister of State in PMO, Jitendra Singh was reported as saying in the media, “There is mechanism in place. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will take a call on the basis of whatever the facts. Government of India (GoI) and MEA will take a call depending on all the facts and figures.”

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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.