AK Antony

Rahul Gandhi’s Minimum Income Guarantee is a scary bluster

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has promised a Minimum Guarantee Income (MIG) for “for every poor person” in the country and frankly he has bitten more than he or his party can chew without an upset stomach.  A few basic questions:

  • Does he mean “every poor person” or every “poor household”?

As per an expert committee report, under former Reserve Bank of India governor C. Rangarajan in June 2014, 363 million Indians were poor. But if we go by the number of poor households, given an official figure of 4.9 persons per household, the figure would come down to nearly 53 million poors.

  • Does he mean to raise funds by cutting down on various welfare schemes or would it come by raising taxes?

Cutting down on various welfare schemes would be disastrous. For what’s the point of providing minimum income when a poor has to make do with his own expense on the matters of food, healthcare or guaranteed employment? As per its own 2017 document on the Universal Basic Income (UBI) issue, the Congress has stated: “UBI is welcome, but not at the cost of existing welfare schemes like MGNREGA or through reduced spending on education and health.”

Raising taxes is again a no-no for it would mean fiscal deficit in double figures and a runaway inflation.

(c) What’s the minimum amount Rahul Gandhi has in mind to give to each poor?

According to Economic Survey report of 2016-2017, UBI (similar to MIG) of Rs 7,620 per year could cost as much as 5 per cent of the GDP. It would create a “While-Rome-Was-Burning-Nero-Was-Fiddling” syndrome. A benefit of Rs 600-700 per month to each poor, without raising taxes or cutting down on socialist schemes, is completely unfeasible.

By its own admission in the document mentioned above, the Congress party had declared in 2017: “What the minimum amount should be/could be controversial.”

But then we have P. Chidambaram, the Gandhi loyalist, being almost coy in declaring that the Congress party will find the resources to implement the scheme. He too, like Gandhi, hasn’t given the details. Unless both have plans to donate their own considerable funds and resources, not necessarily from scams, Rahul Gandhi’s MIG plan looks a bluster.

Remember, this is the very party whose defence minister A.K. Antony had declared that UPA 1 and 2 didn’t have the money to buy the Rafale aircrafts. (no misquoting here, watch the video).

Like before, the mainstream media has swallowed Rahul Gandhi’s bluster hook, line and sinker. There is no questioning of his words, no editorial columns, no analysis. (Just compare it with the reaction of mainstream media when the Modi government had promised 10 per cent quota to poor ONLY in public jobs and higher education). Indian Express hasn’t even covered Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s detailed reaction: “His party was in power for 58 years—if poll promises had been kept, the face of the country would’ve been different,” Prasad has said. (Again, contrast this when BJP makes an announcement: Ghluam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Abhishek Sanghvi, Kapil Sibal or Malikarjun Kharge are always available with readymade quotes).

Indeed, didn’t Rahul Gandhi’s granny, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had given the “Garibi Hatao” slogan in 1971?  (Does Mr Gandhi mean his granny had then lied or is his meant to be a similar lie?)

During his speech, Rahul Gandhi also said: “Whatever I say I do. Whether it’s loan waivers…I complete the promises I make.” (Even though his face-off with Union Minister Arun Jaitley’s in Parliament recently, where the latter said: He (Rahul) lies five times a day, has remained uncontested. The Rafale lies have already been busted by the Supreme Court. )

Let’s look at loan-waivers in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where Congress now is in power. Loans allegedly were waived for those who hadn’t taken loans or had died. In some cases, Rs. 50 loans were waived off. Prime Minister Narendra Modi exposed loan-waiver lies in a public rally recently.

Rahul Gandhi and his Congress party would now have to come out with MIG details—and it must in the party’s manifesto in March for the 2019 General Elections. If it doesn’t, then Rahul Gandhi’s latest bluster is a pre-emptive blank strike against the measures Modi government could announce in the annual budget session later this week.

 

The saga of Kumaraswamy keeps Congress out of “mahagathbandhan”

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Most prospective allies dread Congress as a partner in the approaching 2019 General Elections. They know of the mauling of HD Kumaraswamy (JDS) by its partner Congress in Karnataka even though the faithful Lutyens’ Media are doing their best to keep the sensational news under the wraps.

None of the English mainstream media has taken note of a News 18 story which mentions Kumaraswamy almost “cried” while listing the ills of partner Congress recently. Only if this news was in “The Wire” or even little-known “Caravan” magazine, the English MSM would’ve fallen over each other in reserving the columns.

The report says Kumaraswamy has dropped enough hint that his Karnataka government may not last beyond the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing his party’s MLAs and MLCs, Kumaraswamy was virtually in tears, alleging that he was functioning like a clerk and not like a chief minister because Congress is interfering in everything.

“He is sad. He almost cried. Told us that the Congress was behaving like a big brother. Forcing him to sign all kinds of orders. They forced him to expand the Cabinet and even appointed chairpersons to government run boards and corporations without his approval. He feels that it is getting tougher with each passing day,” said an MLA who was present in the meeting.

Kumaraswamy apparently told his partymen that Congress leaders always expect him to behave like their subordinate. The JDS supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda was present in the meeting.

The JDS is looking for 12 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections while Congress is offering them just six which has led to serious friction in recent weeks.

JDS and Congress bitterly fought against each other in the Karnataka assembly elections of last year but joined hands in an opportunistic manner to keep BJP out of power. BJP had won 104 out of the 228 seats but Congress (80) and JDS (37) buried their hostility to form the government with Kumaraswamy as chief minister.

But no sooner had Kumaraswamy assumed his post, Congress began humiliating him in no uncertain manner. The English mainstream media meanwhile kept admonishing Kumaraswamy instead of questioning Congress on their arrogance.

All big players have watched the unfolding saga of betrayal in Karnataka and are hedging their bets against an alliance with the Congress.

Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) have decided to go together in the critical Uttar Pradesh and have turned their back on the old national party, now creaking under its own sloth and arrogance.

Mamata Banerjee didn’t even deign to congratulate Congress after its win in three assembly elections recently. She is carrying a personal hurt against Rahul Gandhi for ignoring her offer to contest the Tripura state assembly elections together. “I don’t know who advised him and influenced him,” Mamata had then said curtly.

Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) is already firming up Federal Front which he plans to field in 2019 general elections. He is doing the rounds of the county, knocking at the doors of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal but apparently can’t stand Congress.

The arrogance of the Congress is sickening. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Sanghvi warns SP-BSP alliance that they ignore his party at their own risk in Uttar Pradesh. Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi chuckled at the “sleepless nights” of Mamata’s leaders in the wake of his party’s win in recent assembly elections.

There are cautionary voices within Congress, like the one of AK Antony, twice defence minister and thrice Kerala chief minister, who has openly stated that Congress is not strong enough to take on BJP in 2019 general elections. But the hubris of Congress knows no limits and it’s in-your-face arrogance is becoming difficult to ignore for the potential allies.

 

Why Rajdeep Sardesai blocked me on twitter

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

I found myself blocked on twitter by Rajdeep Sardesai today.

My tweets to him have never been abusive; rarely personal even though there is good enough reason to be so since we shared the same newsroom in the Times of India in the 90s. But I understand that the “Freedom of Expression” is not a two-way street. Stupid, we aren’t meant to practice what we preach.

Still, I was obliged, conscience-wise, to peek into his tweets of the last four days. No, I wasn’t looking for his sermons on illegal Rohingyas. Or if he is disparaging about Bullet Train. Or if he is in the pack of the wolves dancing around the embers of Demonetization. Or if their creativity is still on its feet in stitching “Sangh Parivar” with the murder of Gauri Lankesh.

All the above issues are meant to convey their concern for India. How their heart beats for India’s proud history of welcoming refugees. How India’s economic slide kicks them in the guts. How their souls are scorched at the fanciful waste of Bullet Train. How they die a thousand deaths at the plight of “independent” journalists in today’s India.

Surely, such “conscience-keepers” of the nation would have shed a tear at the demise of Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force, in the Capital on Saturday. I wanted to check on Sardesai, if he has extricated himself from the morass of mud-slinging and spared a thought for the departed hero.

But I found myself blocked by Sardesai!!!

So I did the next best thing. I turned to Sagarika Ghose, his wife. Surely, the woman who has a new biography on Indira Gandhi to her name and thus, by inference, had time to research many wars of the 60s and 70s, would remember late Marshal Arjan Singh and his legendary deeds.

But there’s not a single tweet from Ms Ghose! (There of course is a retweet but that’s like registering a presence in a funeral). It’s so much like Congis–with whom her family has had a roaring stand–who rarely have had a great respect for our military heroes.

Remember the death of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw on June 27, 2008? The then present UPA dispensation in the Centre, were all missing from the funeral of India’s greatest military hero. Neither President Pratibha Patil, supreme commander of our armed forces nor Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; neither the then defence minister A.K. Antony nor the three Service chiefs attended Manekshaw’s funeral.

Manekshaw’s various run-ins with the Indira Gandhi could be the reason. I am not sure if Ms. Ghose has it mentioned in her book—those loyals who have read it must inform me. Or the book has the facts that the 1971 War hero’s status and dues were held up for decades. (It was only due to the initiative of former  President APJ Kalam that a cheque of Rs 1.3 crores was sent to the late Marshal on his deathbed.)

Next I logged on to Sitaram Yechury’s twitter account. He is another one who can’t see his beloved India going to pieces under the Modi regime. It’s another matter that those who protect India’s sovereignty are not quite sure of his time for them. He too wasn’t present, by all accounts, at Field Marshal Manekshaw’s funeral.

Yechury too hasn’t offered any condolence on Marshal Arjan Singh. All he has done is to question Modi government for its indifference to death of India’s “most senior serving military officer.” Indifference? Is the whining Communist leader indeed talking about Marshal Arjan Singh? Isn’t he aware that Arjan’s son Arvind Singh is overwhelmed at the present government’s response to his father’s death?

I next turned to two other Congress Seniors: Digvijaya Singh and Manish Tewari. The two have been much in news for their colourful vocabulary in public lately. Abusive like the drunk thugs you often find on the streets; with little association to decorative representative offices such as ones of former Chief Minister and Union Minister. Digvijaya predictably had no time for Marshal Arjan Singh’s death (does India-Occupied-Kashmir ring a bell?) And Manish Tewari? No prizes for guessing this one too.

You would expect these people to use Marshal Arjan Singh’s death as an opportunity to present their credentials as well-wishers of Indian army, and by inference India. They have often held the grouse that their patriotism has been questioned by Hindutava agents; that they are shown as anti-Indian armed forces. But doesn’t their lack of respect for Indian soldiers and heroes only confirm the impression?

Maybe they thought that Marshal Arjan Singh’s death has come at a wrong time. Only when they were going hammer and tongs against the Modi government, the death of war hero has allowed Modi to showcase his sincerity and respect for India armed forces.  Only, when they had Modi pinned to the wall—or so they thought.

What’s a career without credibility in public life? And what delusion, like a she-Hindi author who painted Modi-praisers as no better than asses in recent days? Better by asses than filth-loving pigs.

Oh yes, and if anyone could update me on Rajdeep Sardesai on Marshal Arjan Singh.