ABP – Almost banned Press Freedom

ABP – Almost banned Press Freedom

At a time when the declining Freedom of Press is high on discussion and the entire nation is scared of the aftertaste, Press Freedom got punched in the face again after the two eminent journalists from ABP News Network — Managing Editor Milind Khandekar and anchor Punya Prasun Bajpai — resigned reportedly due to pressure that moved up after airing a story on the show named Master Stroke — a story that criticised the central government and exposed its lies.

At a time when the declining Freedom of Press is high on discussion and the entire nation is scared of the aftertaste, Press Freedom got punched in the face again after the two eminent journalists from ABP News Network — Managing Editor Milind Khandekar and anchor Punya Prasun Bajpai — resigned reportedly due to pressure that moved up after airing a story on the show named Master Stroke — a story that criticised the central government and exposed its lies.

Narendra Wable, President of Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh said, “Both the resignation can’t be a coincidence and there must be a pressure from the government after the interview of lady farmer Chandramani Kaushik in ‘Master Stroke’. It is dangerous for our federal democracy and unfortunate for journalism. It happened in the previous government’s reign too but never came into light. It is sad to see most of the media houses being pro-government. News Media should be unbiased and fearless.”

‘Master Stroke’, the flagship show which is currently taken off by the channel management, used to be anchored by Punya Prasun Bajpai where the burning issues of countrymen are presented. One of its episodes came up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video conversation with beneficiaries of various government programmes held on June 20.

During the Mann Ki Baat interaction, lady farmer Chandramani from Chhattisgarh, one of the participants, told the PM that her income has doubled after she switched from paddy cultivation to growing custard apples. However, the show reported that the woman was ‘tortured’ and ‘tutored by Delhi officials to make false statements about her agricultural income and the news was viral in no time — this attracted the wrath of BJP leaders including a few Union ministers — Rajyavardhan Rathore, the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman — who slammed the show with #UnfortunateJournalism for its ‘agenda of deriding PM’s efforts’.

Political journalist Nilesh Khare expressed, “I don’t want to comment on a speculation as we have no confirmation about the government pressure behind the resignation. I have worked with Milind Khandekar; he is a journalist who does full justice to his duties. He won’t absorb such pressure, I believe.”

The viewers across also complained of facing difficulty in watching the programme ‘Master Stroke’ because of “disturbance and blackouts” and as per the sources, the blocking of the telecast was decided by the channel to not affront the ruling party at the Centre. However, Bajpai was seen tweeting videos from his shows during that period. And, just two days back, Bajpai was informed that he would no longer be anchoring ‘Master Stroke’ followed by his stepping down.

“You can black out the screen during Master Stroke, but we will convert it into a ‘blackboard’ and write the truth on it,” Bajpai criticised the blackout on Twitter.

When India is just a year away from the next general elections, the freedom of expression in the world’s largest democracy is feeling traumatised. On one hand, corporate ownership and government’s constant effort to shut or limit government critics and on the other, prominent media organisations hunkering down to get endearments from the ruling party! India also remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists to function as the 2017 world press freedom rankings ranked India 136 among 180 countries and that’s a slip as the nation was ranked 133 in 2016. While some journalists were killed, others are under the flame with threats to their lives.

Political Editor of an eminent newspaper on the condition of anonymity spoke to AV and revealed, “I came to know that the channel is changing its ownership. So, it can be its new policy. Government pressure on the channel is just a speculation and the truth is yet to come out.”

The instance of the I&B Ministry amending guidelines for the accreditation of journalists to punish those accused of producing fake news is just fresh in the minds. The guidelines warned journalists of suspension of their government accreditation permanently in case of third-time violation (spreading fake news), though the ministry neither defined fake news nor clarified who can file complaints and on what grounds! Though, the massive criticism pushed our PM to scrap the decision.

Senior journalist Sudhakar Kashyap stated, “Government has a total control over today’s news media. Appointment of Editor is nowadays done by the government authority. Though I am not a Congress supporter, but in the previous government, there was never such pressure on media that exists today. We had the freedom to write whatever we want in those days.”

Though ABP News Network maintained silence, the resignation of Khandekar and Bajpai has brought politicians across the nation together blaming the BJP-led central government’s efforts ‘to kill independent media’.

“Evidence is surfacing that ABP News is seeing journalists resign and benched due to their involvement in stories criticising the Central Govt. Watch how in the age of free information, India under Modiji seems to be anything but free,” Congress’ Twitter handle posted.

Dr. Deepak Pawar, Assistant Professor of Mumbai University said, “I don’t feel this is a single example of such incident and we can’t say that Congress and NCP were saints in their reign. Congress ruled the nation for a long period and they mostly tolerated criticism, though BJP is vindictive by nature.”

He went on adding, “Any person with a different opinion than the government is asked to go to Pakistan! That’s the mindset of the BJP-led central government. The pressure on the Editors of news organisations is dangerous for the press freedom.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too slammed the BJP government with #FreeMediaDiedInIndia and said, “Free media is life-line of democracy. But Modi government is hell-bent to kill independent media. The resignation of two eminent TV journalists from ABP News in two days is another proof. Media should rise now; otherwise, it will be too late.”


AMU's Prof Samdani receives ‘Legal Expert Award’

AMU's Prof Samdani receives ‘Legal Expert Award’

Aligarh, November 22, 2017: Professor Shakeel Samdani (Department of Law, Aligarh Muslim University—AMU) has been conferred with the ‘Legal Expert Award’ by a leading Urdu daily in a special function held at the Kala Mandir Auditorium in Kolkata, Bengal. He received a Shawl, a memento and a citation during the function.
Prof Samdani was honoured for his work in human rights, academics and conducting awareness programmes on the Indian Constitution.
Mr Ali Ashraf Fatimi (Former state HRD Minister) and Mr Javed Ahmad Khan (Minister, Government of Bengal) presented the award to Prof Samdani.
Prof Samdani has over 27 years of teaching experience. He has authored 'Uniform Civil Code: Problems And Prospects' and 'Maintenance of the Muslim Divorcee'. He teaches Islamic Jurisprudence, Muslim Law Relating to Status, Islamic Legal System, Public International Law, Human Rights Law, Sociology of Law and Law and Poverty. (PR from AMU)


End this madness in the name of cows

End this madness in the name of cows

In the normal course, the highest court in the land or, for that matter, a lower court need not have concerned itself with criminal acts, but it speaks of the apparent failure of various State Governments that the Supreme Court did feel constrained to take up the matter of periodic cases of lynching. Whether the intervention of the court was justified or not, law-abiding citizens should feel a sense of relief that thanks to it, the central government has promised to act in the matter on an urgent basis.

Six days after the apex court expressed concern at what it called ‘sweeping incidents of lynching’ and called them ‘as an affront to the rule of law’, Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced in the Lok Sabha on Monday the formation of a group of ministers under him to deliberate on the incidents of ‘mob violence’. He also constituted a separate high-level committee of senior officers to recommend separate penal provisions to deal with incidents of mob violence. The report of the committee is to be given within four weeks. The minister informed the House that the Government has always condemned such incidents of mob violence, but the police and public order being State subjects, it has from time to time issued advisories to the States and Union Territories for maintenance of law and order. Though the ministry did not maintain separate data for incidents of lynching, thus far 31 such cases had been reported from various parts of the country.

The issue came to the fore yet again following the killing of Rakbar Khan last week in Alwar, Rajasthan, when a mob assaulted him while he was taking two cows to his village in Haryana along with his friend, who mercifully escaped mob fury. The mob suspected the two of being cow smugglers and waylaid them. There is confusion about the actual details of the incident with the police feeding one version to the media and the local people another. Yet, there is no denying that a 32-year-old man became a victim of mob violence. Walking the cows to their village in the dark through a remote part of Rajasthan might have been a foolhardy thing to do in the present climate of fear over anything connected with the cow trade, yet the manner in which the local police handled the crime was shocking. It is said they seemed more concerned with the well-being of the animals than of the victim of mob violence. The police attitude may well mirror the perceived mood of the present ruling dispensation. Unless the political authorities issue a stern warning against people taking law into their own hands for the sake of cows or anything else dear to them, such madness by small mobs in rural India is unlikely to end soon unless put down with a heavy hand. It is this feeling at the ground level that the rulers would look the other way if they killed or maimed in the name of the holy cow which may have also contributed to the rising number of incidents of lynching, especially in the Hindi belt. 

Legitimate trade in cows ought to continue as before. The village economy will be hard to sustain if old animals were to become a burden on their owners. Mechanised cultivation has replaced farming earlier reliant on oxen or other such animals. Therefore, a cow is useful for its owners till it yields milk. The lack of panchayat-run gau shalas complicates the problem of old cows. Without providing workable alternatives, the huge problem of starving cows roaming the streets is bound to grow, especially when even legitimate trade is risky and can attract mob fury. In any case, it is barbarism, pure and simple, for a handful of people to lynch fellow human beings on mere suspicion. Such madness must be put down most sternly. We cannot have mobs lynching people every now and then and yet lay claim to be a law-abiding, peaceful country. Regardless of one’s political inclinations, mob killings are unacceptable. No, not even for the sake of an animal, revered or otherwise. It is a matter of great shame that in this day and age, there are killings in the name of ‘gau mata’. This must end immediately.

How Army made Nawaz Sharif redundant

How Army made Nawaz Sharif redundant

With voting in the general elections in neighbouring Pakistan being held today (July 25), there is little hope for change. Undeterred by the disqualification, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif returned home only to be promptly jailed along with his daughter Maryam. Despite his dismissal, the chances of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) being in the lead cannot be brushed aside. A matter of concern is that there is large participation of terror elements in the elections.

In April, the Pakistan Supreme Court barred Sharif for life from holding any public office. This was done to make him irrelevant in the electoral equation. As elections approached and potential candidates announced their decision to contest, numerous candidates were pressured to change political parties by dumping Sharif and his party.

The elections are turning out to be a drag in the prevailing circumstances. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) supremo Imran Khan managed the almost impossible task of dislodging Sharif from power when he appeared invincible. He has, however, turned out to be a major loser as the attention of both the media and the public has shifted from the issue of corruption to the “establishment’s interference in the civilian setup”.

A high court judge in Islamabad charged the all powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) with influencing judicial proceedings. The Military establishment called for an inquiry even as the PML (N) charged them with influencing the judiciary. The Pakistan Army has urged the Supreme Court to “initiate appropriate processes to ascertain the veracity of the allegations and take action”. Caught in a muddle, it is anybody’s guess if the people of Pakistan can change the situation by bringing the corrupt to book.

Having been prime minister three times, Sharif has managed to queer the pitch when it appeared nothing could stop Imran Khan, a former test cricketer from coming to power. He diverted attention from the issue of his wealth and corruption to unnamed “aliens” fighting him for unknown reasons. Sharif steered clear of naming those against him but it was no secret that he meant the “establishment”, or the omnipresent Military and the ISI. Though the latter two institutions are non-political, the military with a vice like grip has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history spread a shade over seven decades.

Considering their non-political status, the military and the ISI does not respond to allegations levelled at them. However, the ISPR (Inter-Services Public Relations) acts like the ministry of Information for the “establishment” by touting its achievements.

The military’s interference in political matters is nothing new and has been happening for long. Whenever matters become sticky and uncomfortable for men in uniform or is against their thinking, the so called political masters are sent packing. There is no doubt that the military along with the superior judiciary are seeking to ensure that elections go its way. This time they are in favour of Imran Khan.

Pakistan is having its eleventh general election since 1970. Apart from the first one and the last elections in 2013, the consensus among social scientists and political analysts is that none of them have been free, fair or transparent. That they were manipulated in some form or another is not in doubt. The military has been blamed for these omissions and commissions. There are enough indications that the current elections are being rigged to ensure a result that works in the interest of the military and the institutions which back its dominance.

There are at least four Islamist parties in the fray. They are contesting both for the National Assembly as well as the four Provincial Assemblies. At the same time, Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif, claimed if the PML (N) is voted to power, he will make Pakistan better than India. If he fails, then the people can change his name.

The military establishment has promoted new right wing parties like the Milli Muslim League floated by the 2001 Mumbai massacre mastermind Hafiz Saeed. There is also the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan trying to cut into PML-N’s votes in its stronghold of Punjab, the key battleground. The expectations are of a hung Parliament amid numerous candidates eager to fall in line with whoever is permitted to form the government. Keen Pakistan watchers and analysts maintain enough pre-poll rigging has already taken place to ensure that the military gets its preferred prime ministerial candidate elected.

PTI’s Imran Khan is eager and desperate to be subservient to the interests and guarantees that the powerful military demands. This assumes significance in the wake of Sharif’s ban from holding any public office. One aspect that stands out is Sharif’s calculated move to return to Pakistan close to the general elections  outwitting both the military and the judiciary at their own game.

In the last general elections, the PML (N) was way ahead of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s PPP and Imran Khan’s PTI. The PML (N) with 166 seats was only six short of a majority with 32.77 per cent of the votes followed by PPP 42 seats (15.23 per cent votes) and the PTI finishing a poor third with 35 seats (16.92 per cent votes). There are 342 seats in the National Assembly and 172 is required for a majority.

T R Ramachandran is a senior journalist and commentator.

— By T R Ramachandran

Bhopal: Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia to keep distance from Digvijaya Singh’s demonstration

Bhopal: Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia to keep distance from Digvijaya Singh’s demonstration

Bhopal: The top Congress leaders are going to keep distance from the scheduled demonstration and court arrest of former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh at TT Nagar police station of the city on July 26. Earlier, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, during a press conference in Satna, had said that Singh behaves like a traitor. This led Singh to open a front against Chouhan.

Singh had challenged Chouhan to either prove him a traitor or tender apology. Singh had announced of court arrest too. Congress state president Kamal Nath and MP Jyotiraditya Scindia have kept themselves away from Singh’s challenge. Sources said Nath and Scindia would maintain distance from the court arrest of Singh and demonstration at TT Nagar Police station.

They have not given any reaction on the statement issued by Chouhan against Singh. On the other hand, the government has begun to prepare its strategy to counter Singh’s move. The statement of Chief Minister about Singh has been scrutinized. Singh had also warned of taking the matter to court. Preparations are also on to deal if the matter is taken to court.

Singh’s reaction to CM’s statement has made BJP leaders happy. BJP is constantly trying to put Singh in the front amongst Congress leaders in the coming assembly polls. Congress might have kept Singh in the background but he is coming in limelight on his own. The BJP, on the other hand, is preparing its strategy to attack Singh by publicizing his previous statements.



No-Confidence Motion: The debate and its aftermath

No-Confidence Motion: The debate and its aftermath

What did we gain from the 12-hour debate on the No-Trust Motion, if anything at all? To begin with, if the debate helps to normalise the functioning of Parliament sans the daily shouting matches, defiance of the Chair, forced adjournments et al, it would be no small achievement. Whether it comes true, we will know in the remaining part of the monsoon session. The debate also spotlighted the fault lines among the potential partners who together are supposed to constitute the Mahagathbandhan against Modi in 2019. The mover of the motion, the TDP, is unlikely to get in bed with the Congress for a) it has nothing to offer on the ground in Andhra Pradesh, b) the TDP holds the Congress a greater culprit for carving up the united Andhra Pradesh.

Likewise, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) can have little or no use accommodating the Congress since it has no presence in the State. Though it stayed neutral in the debate on Saturday, TRS’s need to keep on the right side of the central government would ensure that it is not covertly hostile towards the BJP. However, one BJP ally which stayed away was the Shiv Sena. Well, in its present suicidal mood it can be left to play its crude games which can only leave its current and potential allies cold. Behaving like sore losers, the Sena seeks a better price from the BJP, nothing else. If the BJP leadership is un-bothered, it is unlikely the Congress and the NCP will give it much ‘bhav’ should it find itself stranded on the eve of the next parliamentary poll. If the BJP proved the credibility of its alliance, defeating the motion 325 to 126 on Saturday, it was essentially because it had a solid 270-plus of its own. The AIADMK voted with the Government, as it would with any in power in New Delhi to protect its interests, especially in the post-Jayalalithaa phase.

Yet, aside from the RJD of the jail-bird Lalu Yadav, the Congress cannot count on anyone who will stick with it in 2019. The other major regional party, the Biju Janta Dal  stayed neutral, not voting for the motion. The Samajwadi Party did, but its chief, Akhilesh Yadav, has learnt from experience and now rudely spurns the hand of friendship extended by Rahul Gandhi. The DMK does not have a single member in the present Lok Sabha, though it might bounce back in the next general election. Ditto for Mayawati’s BSP. She is willing to do business with the Congress but on her own terms. That leaves little else for the Congress to try and form its pet Mahagathbandhan. Even the newbie, AAP, would like to have a major chunk of seats in any alliance the Congress might want to forge in Delhi. In Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh the Congress is in a position to engage in a one-to-one contest against the BJP.  Neither party needs an ally in these States. However, UP is vital for the formation of any government in Delhi. Here the Congress is a cipher. In Bihar, it is at the mercy of Lalu Yadav. Punjab has but only 13 Lok Sabha seats which may be shared between the Congress and the Akali-BJP alliance. In Karnataka, the JD(S) and Congress will fight the 2019 poll in alliance provided Chief Minister  H D Kumaraswamy can weather the travails of a coalition without crying in which the tail is bigger than the head and is naturally prone to shake the latter at its will. In other words, gathering all against Modi on a single platform is no easy task.

As for the 12-hour televised spectacle seen live by the nation, well,  the quality of the debate was rather poor, with no fresh ground being broken by the speakers from either side. Rahul Gandhi manufactured ‘facts’ on Doklam and Rafale deal and was soon left feeling sorry for being proven a purveyor of lies and falsehoods. His only original was the hug he tried to give the sitting Prime Minister against all established canons of parliamentary conduct, but he  worsened his own case as a mature politician by winking mischievously soon after. At 47, such childishness does not become anyone aspiring for prime ministership. Nonetheless, the anti-Modi media lapped it up in the absence of anything better coming from the ‘new young hope of the nation.’  Even Modi was not at his best, using the debate to project the achievements of the Government and virtually delineating in great detail what he had done to alleviate the lot of the poor and the less-privileged.  But the debate did sound the poll bugle, alright.

Heeding IMF and RBI voices of caution

Heeding IMF and RBI voices of caution

Two important bodies have sent out voices of caution on the Indian economy in recent days.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised its growth estimate downward for India, for this year as well as the next. The revision is small for 2018, from 7.4 to 7.3 per cent. But for next year, the revised growth projection is down from 7.8 to 7.5 per cent. The question is not about how accurate the forecasts of the IMF are, but rather the reasons for the downward revision.  Separately, in its annual report on the budgets of State governments, the RBI pointed out earlier this month that the aggregate State finances have exceeded the fiscal deficit target of 3 per cent of GDP for three years in a row. In fact, for the fiscal year ending March 2018, the fiscal deficit target was 2.7 per cent and actual was 3.1 per cent.  This tells us that State finances seen as a whole are not in very good health. Mind you that already last year’s growth of 6.7 percent was the lowest in the past four years.

Coming around the same time, the two reports serve to highlight macroeconomic concerns as we head into an election year.  Consider some of the challenges. The Consumer Price Index (CPI)-based inflation is now at 5 per cent. This is already showing an upward momentum, especially in non-food prices, which include education and medical expenses, and other services. More worryingly, the inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) was 5.77 percent in June, which is the highest in four years. This was caused by higher commodity prices which are inputs to industrial production. The chief culprit is oil, which also impacts the cost of logistics and transportation. Oil prices have risen sharply, caused by factors like sanctions on Iran and other geo-political uncertainties. The Reserve Bank of India observed that the price of India’s oil basket has gone up by 12 per cent and looks like this rise is going to last. India is very vulnerable to oil price shocks, and a spike in oil affects inflation, trade balance and fiscal burden adversely. It also has a negative effect on aggregate demand and hence economic growth. There is not much that can be done in case oil shoots up.

A critical factor is fiscal deficit, on which the Central government has succeeded in keeping some control but the States’ have not. This is well pointed out by the RBI study on State finances. Further, this year many States have announced loan waivers, with the latest to join the club being the State of Karnataka. This may be justified on political grounds, or an inevitable response to farm distress. But the net result is owing to various pressures, populist or otherwise, the combined fiscal deficit of States and Centre during this fiscal year could be as high at 6.8 or even 7 percent of GDP. This would be a multi-year high, causing worries about its impact on inflation, interest rates, foreign investment sentiment and country rating. Please keep in mind that national elections are due next year, which can mean additional spending pressure. The recent revision of GST rates while providing welcome relief would however affect collections negatively, at least in the short run. The increase in farm procurement prices (MSP) too is welcome but has a fiscal cost. Same is the impact of a hike in sugarcane and milk procurement prices. Thus, meeting the fiscal targets this year is a bigger challenge. The States’ fiscal deficit target is 2.6 percent, which is even more difficult to achieve.The other headwind comes from the current account deficit. India’s exports have stagnated for the past four years in cumulative terms. The exports at the end of March 2018 are lower than four years ago. In the recent past, exports have risen in double digit growth rates, but its sustenance needs to be watched. There are many problems that afflict exporters, such as a strong exchange rate, delays in GST refunds, higher logistics and infrastructure costs, overall burden of taxation, and cost of compliance especially at the local and State government level. A stark example is in the garment industry, where India has been overtaken even by Bangladesh and Vietnam, even in absolute dollar terms. Apart from export challenges, imports continue to surge, especially in metals, chemicals, electronics and consumer goods. India’s number two contributor to the current account deficit is not gold, but electronics goods, which include mobile phones. This year, India will import close to 200 million tons of coal despite being the third largest depository of coal in the world. The outward flow of dollars for pursuit of foreign education is higher than 10 billion dollars annually. The various free trade agreements are now reaching a stage where many goods have virtually duty-free entry to India’s large consumer market, when domestic industry continues to face disability of higher costs and import duties for their intermediate goods. The current account deficit this year could reach between 2.5 to 2.8 percent of GDP, the highest in many years. This will cause a weakening pressure on the exchange rate, making imports like oil and electronics even more expensive.


Since inflation is rising, and the monetary policy is focused on keeping it in the band of 2 to 6 per cent, naturally interest rates are headed upwards. The RBI raised its policy rate in June, for the first time in four and a half years. But it was already behind the curve, since the market had signalled its expectations. The yield on the 10-year government bond, had risen by more than 1.5 percentage points in the previous twelve months. It is almost certain, given the worries on inflation and oil prices, as also fiscal deficits, that the RBI will raise interest rates in the coming months. This has an adverse macro impact since it transmits as higher cost to home loans, infrastructure and real estate finance as also other consumer loans. Not to mention the burden on working capital costs for small and medium enterprises.

Driving through these challenges will require deft macroeconomic management, clever fiscal cost control, assuaging anxieties of the stock and bond markets, keeping the confidence of the foreign investment flows and keeping the rupee stable and fairly priced. Plus giving a boost to consumer sentiment as well. It’s going to keep the policy makers quite busy.

Ajit Ranade is an economist and Senior Fellow, Takshashila Institution.

(Syndicate: The Billion Press)

Rising bitterness in politics

Rising bitterness in politics

The broad contours of what is going to be a long and bitter campaign before the parliamentary election next year are already in sight. Rival politicians have begun to prepare ground for the vital State elections before the crucial Lok Sabha poll next year. The Prime Minister’s itinerary now increasingly includes official events and public rallies in the States headed for the polls.

He intends to address one hundred-odd rallies in the electorally vital northern States before next February. The BJP chief is always in election mode, visiting States, toning up the organisational networks and generally enthusing the party cadres. This is par for the electoral course. After all, elections are the bread and butter of politics, without being fighting fit for the electoral jousts, no politician is worth his starched dhoti-kurta. But the worrying element is the bitterness already on display in the political discourse. If this is only the beginning, one shudders to think what will be the state of exchanges between rival politicians when the real battle on the ground for votes is well and truly underway.

The ball this time might have been set rolling by Rahul Gandhi who, in a meeting with a select group of Muslims, is said to have tried to allay their fears about the much-talked about pro-Hindu tilt in the recent elections to the Gujarat and Karnataka assemblies. Following the meeting, an Urdu daily quoted the Congress President saying that his was a ‘Muslim party’. Though the report was denied, the BJP was quick to latch on to it, claiming that Rahul was out to polarise the polity on religious lines in his anxiety to assuage the feelings of the Muslims following his well-advertised visits to various temples and maths on the campaign trail.

After Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman tore into the Congress chief at a specially convened press conference, Modi picked up the thread, slamming the Congress for being a ‘party of Muslim men only’ because it did not care to ban the heinous practice of triple talaq and other anti-women practices. Forced on the back foot by the verbal barrage by the ruling party, the Congress protested its secular credentials, accusing Modi of uttering complete distortions and plain lies. Of course, this is just a trailer of the rich harvest of abuse and invective that the country is set to reap in the run-up the parliamentary poll. There is no talk of development, no compulsion to compare the UPA record in power with that of the NDA, but a downright resort to emotive, nay, divisive issues meant to fuel the identity politics to ever new heights. Rarely are voters in any democracy able to avoid the emotional traps politicians lay for them. Indians cannot be any different.

By http://www.freepressjournal.in/

CPI stands with Nepalese people in every political changes : CPI Leader Anjaan

CPI stands with Nepalese people in every political changes : CPI Leader Anjaan

Raju Lama/New Delhi. Secretary of Communist Party of India Atul Kumar Anjaan says CPI stands with Nepal and Nepalese people in every political movement and changes from historical time. Anjaan urged CPI even helped Nepalese to open communist party of Nepal at India during Rana regime before 70 years.

He says not only CPI India and Indian people also gives full support to end Autocratic Rana and Shah regime in Nepal. "Now Nepal is turned into Federal Democratic Republican country and CPI is happy and want to congrats all political forces of Nepal to bring this political system," Anjaan said.

He also says from Puspalal Shrestha's period till present Prime Minister of Nepal K P Oli CPI has nice relation with communist forces and parties of Nepal. Puspalal was founder General Secretary of Communist Party of Nepal.

During Rana regime Puspalal had founded Communist Party of Nepal at 1948 at India. Anjaan also expressed that unification of two largest communist parties of Nepal is big achievement in communist movement globally against feudalism and imperialism.

Anjaan one of the effective and dynamic leader of Communist Party of India also gives thanks to nepalese people for support communist forces in Nepal.

He also claimed that India is only a country in world that CPI had ruled more than 30 years in some states of India within democratic procedure by taking mandates of Indian people.

He says now in India Communist Party is governing only one state eventhough CPI is top political parties of India among five parties.

He also says that in India CPI will make soon central and several federal government in future.

Ensure zero tolerance to vigilante violence

Ensure zero tolerance to vigilante violence

Two ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government are in the eye of a storm for hobnobbing with a mob undeterred by the law. On his part, the Head of Government had affirmed last year in 2017 that “violence in the name of vigilantism is unaccepetable”. The opposition demanded Modi sack both minister of State with independent charge of micro, small and medium enterprises Giriraj Singh and minister of State for civil avitation Jayant Sinha for encouraging cow vigilantism.

This brings to the fore their reservations about the verdict of the fast track court in Jharkhand. While Singh met these persons in jail, Jayant, the son of former union finance minister Yashwant Singh, garlanded the convicts when they met him. The court had sentenced eight people, including a local BJP leader, to life imprisonment in a case of cow vigilantism.

These are efforts in encouraging polarisation with the next general elections less than a year away in 2019. On his part Jayant Sinha, the BJP MP from Hazaribagh, claimed he did nothing more than wish the persons on bail well. There is no doubt the minister displayed scant regard for the law and should have waited for the outcome of the pending appeal in the court.

As for Giriraj Singh, he has not distinguished himself as a minister. He is rarely heard on policy issues. He remains in the news for remarks going beyond the pale of politically acceptable behaviour. The Congress leadership believes the political discourse revolving around recurrent incidents of violence is a deliberate ploy to sustain communal tensions as the election fever appears to have already set in. Crucial assembly elections are scheduled later this year which includes Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

The country has been facing a highly disturbing trend of innocent people being flogged to death. Earlier this month, five people in Dhule district of Maharashtra were lynched to death. These heinous acts come in the wake of rumours of child lifting spread over WhatsApp. More than 30 people have been mercilessly flogged to death in different parts of the country in the last twelve months spread over several states from Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Gujarat, Jharkhand to Karnataka.

Last week, the Supreme Court came down heavily against mob violence, whatever the motive, and directed the states to crack down. A three judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud observed “we do not want lynchings. We do not want mob violence. We want to protect victims. Whoever they are, they can’t take law into their hands. These cannot be accepted in the remotest sense,” the bench emphasised.

Be that as it may, the Centre has conveyed its deep disapproval to WhatsApp and called for “remedial measures” and “immediate action” to stem the flow of misinformation. The tragedy is that anyone can be mistaken as a child lifter by a mob waiting to kill as evidenced so far. It is time for concerted action by the Centre and states against such rumour mongers. Preventive policing is the key.

Then there is the peoples’ lack of trust in the police. Punitive action against WhatsApp groups that spreads such rumours should have a deterrent effect. There is need for political and institutional will to nail those who take law into their own hands. The contagion effect of spreading impunity is dicernible. There is fake news, hate messages and trolling on social media. It has become imperative to instil the fear of law in the lynch mobs. The police should not brush aside threats of violence over social media. It is time political parties played their part in restoring sanity on the social media. The July 1st lynchings in Maharashtra and Tripura were triggered by social media posts amid the fear in large parts of rural India of child lifters.

In Tripura, an announcer was killed for delivering a message from the government urging people not to believe in rumours of child lifters. He was accompanied by an official. In Maharashtra, the police party sent to the spot of the lynching was attacked by the villagers. In neither case the mob seemed deterred by the state police which should be of serious concern to politicians, administrators and the state government itself. The lynch mob appears to have acquired a sense of impunity. The State government and the political leadership, in particular, has to take necessary action expeditiously to regain control of the situation.

The government needs to send an unambiguous message that misuse of the media for disruptive and diabolical motives will lead to immediate and serious consequences. There is no doubt it is hard to police the social media. The political establishment needs to deal firmly with the prevailing sense of insecurity and fear resulting from electronic rumour mongering. The government must ensure zero tolerance to vigilante violence.

T B Ramachandram is a senior journalist and commentator.