P. Chidambaram

Barkha Dutt’s bizarre rant on P. Chidambaram in Tihar jail

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

On the two sides of political divide, India’s Right and Left-Liberals, only a handful enjoy a persona such as P. Chidambaram. He is an elite among elitists, second only to Gandhis, and his gravitas in public appearances suggests of a man bred in arrogance. He isn’t of a light-banter type, back-slapping his friends. Never a dhoti and a khadi shirt has been worn with a swagger which could put  rockstar in shade.

Chidambaram wears a smile which he could patent. It’s a benign, patronizing smile, never warm, only a favour which he is bestowing to his audience. When he speaks, there is this cocked eyebrow judging you on your incompetence. He is that Pope of politics who is used to reverence from his audience.

In a sense, it’s a classic cloak borrowed off from the Nehru-Gandhis: A benevolent knight, God’s chosen one for his people, who must have his cake while the masses must revel in the crumbs. A blue-blooded Congressman never questions the scions; and never lets down the coterie and sycophants who must do his bidding.

The morning after Tihar got arguably its most famous occupant, Lutyens Media who breed and multiply like mosquito do in sewers and gutters, were busy treating the moment as a victory of sorts. Hindustan Times lettered “Chidambaram, Karti get relief from arrest”;  Times of India made much of Supreme Court disapproving of High Court judge quoting Enforcement Directorate (ED) note; The Hindu didn’t forget to mention Chidambaram and son got anticipatory bail in Aircel-Maxis money laundering case;  and Indian Express, the daddy of them all, front-paged “Judge-slams-agencies”.

I mean a heavyweight-like-few-others is in notorious Tihar jail. Chidambaram is a thread which could showcase the entire gamut of alleged corruption in the decade (2004-2014) of UPA rule, reveal the arteries and veins which gutted body India, arguably institutionalized corruption; sterilized bureaucracy and defanged investigating agencies. It has a far bigger implication for the present and the future then a mere judicial custody. Yet our Lutyens Media has just taken a note of his arrest: There are no sermons, no digging up the dirt, no editorial – nothing.

The servile TV channels for once were not too keen on TRPs. None of them stationed their cameras in front of Tihar Jail for images which could have lasted them a week. No helicopters like they did once as Sanjay Dutt was being whisked to the Yerwada jail. These were the very channels who were aghast when CBI men were jumping the fence of Chidambaram’s residence. Yet the TV grabs of the year were not shot, nor archived for posterity. As if they wanted to erase people’s memory, sanitize history.

I scanned the timeline of Shekhar Gupta, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose etc on twitter and found nothing this morning. JUST NOTHING.  The one of Barkha Dutt though was outrageous. She may have changed media affiliations faster than actors change clothes in a song sequence but her crooked logic is unimpaired.

Ms Dutt is aghast as to why Congress is not taking to the streets on the matter of P. Chidambaram! Could you believe it! Ms Dutt is asking Congress to mobilize public opinion and come out in support of its two stalwarts (the other one being DK Shivakumar). She would rather have the party alienate the people than dump the allegedly corrupt. She is exhorting Congress to defend the two infamous.  She views DK Shivakumar as a fire-fighter for Congress; and can’t get over the fact that the Party has done no better than depute its legal luminaries or arrange just a press conference for P. Chidambaram. She is asking Sonia and Rahul to sit outside PC’s residence and court arrest alongside him. She is asking if Priyanka Gandhi could accompany Robert Vadra, why not here? Barkha sure is a queen of the bizarre.

It is no different to how Lutyens Media treated the Sunanda Pushkar murder (yes, murder now that it has been established she was poisoned). There was no journalism of courage, no intense gaze which could penetrate the layers of deception. Or how they treated the Sonia-Rahul bail in National Herald case, AgustaWestland and many other scams: just in passing. It’s different from the anniversary they run on an Akhlaq and a Pehlu Khan; a Gauri Lankesh or an Asifa Bano.

There is no escaping the fact that a few luminaries and media houses are part of this “eco-system.” This eco-system is willing to ignore corruption, blood stains, violence, seditious conduct and harm to this country as long as it serves their agenda. Their sense of democracy and secularism has a skewed prism. Never lose an opportunity to hang them out to dry.

A chameleon changes less colour than our own Kejriwal

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Let’s take a call on how you define Arvind Kejriwal: Principled or Opportunist? Is he for power or people?

The man who changes more colours than a chameleon does has opted for deep silence on the recent drama surrounding P Chidambaram, former Union minister.  He doesn’t want to be seen supporting an allegedly corrupt politician nor does he want to oppose the Centre which he senses has people’s support.  With Delhi assembly elections less than six months away, Kejriwal has simply ducked.

Kapil Mishra, his former colleague but now with BJP, wasn’t the one to let go the moment.  He tweeted: “Why there is such a deep silence @Arvind Kejriwal.  Are you in a spell of mourning? During Anna (Hazare) agitation, (our own) people had braved batons in front of Chidambaram home…”

But Kejriwal isn’t falling for the bait. He has shown skin as thick as an armour on taunts that he is rebuked almost daily by Congress—be it on gimmicks of buses, electricity waivers, women safety or CCTVs—which also had spurned his advances most disdainfully during the 2019 General Polls. Yet he is not rubbing salt into Congress’ wounds. Interesting!

On Friday, Kejriwal was raving about the Modi government on a public platform in the Capital.  “I hope and I have full faith that in the coming time, Centre will take concrete measures to deal with the (economy) issue…We want to assure that the Delhi government will support and help the Centre in whatever steps they take to fix the economy,” he said.

This is the same Kejriwal who had termed Modi illiterate and questioned if the prime minister understands economy at all!

Kejriwal  and his AAP was one of those Opposition flanks which supported Modi government when it tore down the contentious Article 370 and 35A  and announced the plan to turn Jammu and Kashmir into a Union territory. He probably has the votes of tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits in mind who are settled in his territory. The Janus-faced Kejriwal, at the same time, doesn’t allow police to persecute members of the “Tukde-Tukde gang” like Kanhaiya Kumar and others.

It doesn’t mean that he couldn’t care less about Muslim votes. His analysis of drubbing in the 2019 Polls was that Muslims had ditched the Opposition.  That’s why he didn’t say a word when a Hindu temple was desecrated right under his nose in the Capital. He didn’t say a word in condemnation nor did he visit the vandalized Durga temple in Chandni Chowk (Delhi).  He similarly didn’t vote in favour of Triple Talaq Bill in the Parliament.  Like a clever bania (trader), he must have worked out that less Muslims are bound to feel outraged about decisions on Jammu and Kashmir than the majority who would be hostile if he was to oppose abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.

Kejriwal, side by side, isn’t turning his back on Hindu votes too. He is sponsoring “religious tours” for elderly in the Capital and a willing media, fattened on his advertisements, is completely smitten.

A good gambler never spreads himself thin. You can’t hedge your bets beyond a point. You can’t bet on all blocks on the board and hope to earn profit.  Kejriwal seems unaware of this time-tested logic.

History tells us that good or bad, a leader can’t afford to be neutral on matters which concern people.  Masses aren’t ignorant that this man once opposed corruption and is now seen in embrace with those very forces.  He hauls people to court on corruption and then apologizes to them.  He is one day supporting Congress and venting venom the very next day.  He once chose vilest of terms for prime minister Narendra Modi but now doesn’t throw even a flower in his direction.

More so, all his trusted lieutenants have deserted him. NONE is seen in his corner. You could begin with Shazia Ilmi, Prashant, Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav and peer through the ever expanding list of Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Alka Lamba and now Kapil Mishra.

Kejriwal feels only those who’ve deserted him know his true face. The succession of debacles in elections after elections has probably not made him wiser that people too have seen through his mask. Or maybe he knows it already and hence his zipped mouth.

 

 

Anti-Army Face? Our Opposition has no qualms

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

A father turns out a son who tries to destabilize the family. A criminal is sanitized if his presence is a threat to a society. A terrorist is neutralized if he has common people in his gun’s range.  Individuals or groups who are hazards are brought to book by those who have the assigned role to protect society or a nation.

Thus we are looking at two ends of the spectrum. One end has the authority which has a job to keep a home or a nation safe.  At the other end are the suckers who won’t let it happen. At one end is the welfare of the millions. At the other end is the good of the few.  It’s a no-brainer that individuals have constitutional rights only till they start imperilling a society.

Two such individuals are presently in public eye: One, a high-profile politician; the other a fringe player.  Both face serious allegations. Both are under probe. Both claim vendetta. Both are relying on hidden support from within society.

Let’s presume that both P. Chidambaram and Shehla Rashid are not guilty. One has been named “kingpin” in massive financial scandals by no less than judiciary.  The other has been refuted by Indian army and hauled to court for inciting communal discord. The next logical corollary is: Who would decide they are innocents? When a criminal has ever admitted to his crimes?

That’s why society sets a mechanism which can arbitrate, punish or pronounce not-guilty.  This mechanism could be judiciary or law-enforcing agencies such as police, CBI or ED.  Irrespective of how one or thousands or millions feel, it’s this mechanism which we have entrusted to carry out justice. Everything else is gasbag—including you or me.

But try telling this to our politicians and media.  Both feed on each other.  When it’s convenient, they hail judiciary like they did on pronouncements on Ahmed Patel’s Rajya Sabha elections or favouring HD Kumaraswamy in Karnataka’s unholy tie-up. When it doesn’t suit them, they don’ t bat an eyelid in trying to impeach even the chief justice. CBI is “caged parrot” when it pursues cases against Mamata Banerjee or P. Chidambaram. But when the agency was in hot pursuit of Amit Shah, for instance, it was hailed for setting high standards of probity.

Just follow the headlines and editorials in our newspapers on P. Chidambaram. Indian Express in its editorial finds it revolting that P. Chidambaram was pursued in the manner he was done by the investigating agencies. It doesn’t question Chidambaram once on his reprehensible  conduct in not submitting himself to law and thus subverting the course of justice. No newspaper has given a headline that Chidambaram was deemed “kingpin” of grave financial misdeeds.  Just look at this headline in Hindustan Times: “Please sit, judge asked Chidambaram…He declines.” (As standing is a conduct of a morally upright person!).  Be it media or politicians, both are aghast that Chidambaram was not given urgent hearing by the Supreme Court. We even have a letter from a group of Supreme Court lawyers protesting against denial of urgent hearing to Chidambaram. Pray, god, when a matter is presented on Wednesday and the hearing is fixed on Friday, is it not urgent hearing?

Shehla Rashid has been hauled to court in a criminal complaint against her claim that torture and excessive force is being applied by Indian forces on Kashmiris. Indian Army was quick to make a strong rebuttal: “Allegations levelled by Shehla Rashid are baseless and rejected. Such unverified and fake news are spread by inimical elements and organizations to incite the unsuspecting population.”

Did you find anyone in Lutyens Media question Rashid to either provide evidence or shut up. When she was cornered by journalists in an Opposition protest drama in the Capital on Thursday, she, instead of offering evidence, threatened to call police.

Has Lutyens Media questioned Shehla Rashid on fake allegations? Has it questioned the politicians of CPI or CPM, SP or BSP, Congress or TMC etc on what a fake news peddler who spreads lies on our Indian Army was doing on their platform of protest? Are we wrong to presume that these politicians, political activists and Lutyens Media have no regard for institutions and integrity of the nation and instead, could be hand in gloves?

This of course is not the first instance of transgressions by Shehla Rashid.  She posts old videos and pass them off as recent; an FIR was filed against her for spreading rumours after the Pulwama attack; she had once tweeted that Nitin Gadkari was plotting to assassinate PM Modi on which the former had threatened her with legal action; despite a video evidence of abusing the police, she termed Jignesh Mewani as victim; Delhi Police has filed a chargesheet against her in the infamous JNU sedition case;  She wanted United Nations to intervene on EVM issue as Modi seemed set to return to power in 2019 polls;  and she termed Modi a “mass murderer” after his first win in 2014 polls.

All of Rashid’s allegations of course are unsubstantiated. She is encouraged into vomiting more of such diatribe as Lutyens Media lends a helping hand and investigating agencies dither in view of the entrenched break-India forces within the system. As Chidambaram was encouraged to be allegedly more corrupt even as his bête noire Dr Subramanian Swamy asserted that former’s crimes are fit for a 500-year-long sentence. Why, Indian Express reserves top of his editorial page for Chidambaram every Sunday. Like Times of India is nonchalant about allegations of paid write-ups from across the border against one of its’ regulars, Shobhaa De.

All of this of course is unlikely to stop. Faced with an existential threat, these forces inimical to India’s interest would continue to spew venom in a concerted manner.  You would have letters from films, legal and writers’ corners tearing into Modi government for its violations of “democratic” principles. We, the stunned citizenry, must take note of these virulent rats which are a plague to India’s sovereignty.

 

Congress has made grave mistake in not showing Rahul Gandhi the door

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Congress has made a big mistake by trying to swim ashore for 2024 on the shoulders of Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi stays as Congress president when his party lost 170 out of 180 seats it was in a direct contest against the BJP in 2019 General Elections.

In the Hindi heartland where it has state governments, it bagged none in Rajasthan, one in Madhya Pradesh and two in Chattisgarh.

Flushed down the drain in 18 states.

A sorry two in Uttar Pradesh.

Most of its biggies—Jyotiraditya Scindia, Salman Khurshid, Shiela Dikshit, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Harish Rawat, Digvijay Singh, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Veerapan Moily, Mallikarjun Kharge—cast aside as garbage.

Even Gandhi himself locked out of doors of Amethi.

On Saturday, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) prostrated at the feet of Rahul Gandhi and vowed rather the dust gathers over them than Gandhi scion walk s out of the room. A.K. Antony didn’t “agree that it was a disastrous performance! P. Chidambaram became emotional that his Tamil Nadu  and South in general could feel betrayed; and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who history would remember less as an economist and more as a boot-licker (sorry I can’t find any other apt adjective), urged Gandhi not to make a hasty decision.

Today, you ask people of India, even those within the Congress fold, and 9 out of 10 would say Rahul Gandhi must go. We don’t even need to bother—the 2019 verdict says it. Only 54 lakh votes in Uttar Pradesh which Gandhis call their home, say it (damn, they couldn’t beat even Apna Dal). Allies like Jignesh Mewani and Chandrashekhar Azad and not Mamata, Akhilesh or Mayawati say it. But the CWC is the presiding deity. They alone can blow the conch. They alone distribute the prasada  (prayer-sweets).

Think about it. Why would Rahul Gandhi and all the President’s Men (read CWC) act as a coterie? I mean quite a few of them have been defence, finance or home ministers of this country. They know they are an object of derision in the country. Know that the party is on reed sticks in the high tide of times. Know that it’s on way to becoming irrelevant in Indian politics. Why then stick to the man who symbolizes everything which is bad for the Congress?

The answer is simple. Survival. Not of the Congress or the Country but self. Quite a few are on bail. Sons and son-in-laws are a call away from lockups. Together they could at least be heard. The Congress ecosystem would at least give them space in compromised Lutyens Media. Without Rahul or Priyanka or Sonia, who do you think would reserve front page for Anand Sharma or Ghulam Nabi Azad? How would P. Chidambaram have his column in Indian Express? Who would hear to their swagger on “saving democracy” or “freedom of speech”? Where would they find favourable judges or bureaucrats? Who would rustle up mombati-gangs or award-vapsi brigade?

Let’s look at the CWC composition. It has 25 members, three being Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul himself. Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Ambika Soni etc are hardly credible. You wouldn’t have heard of Avinash Pande or Dipak Babaria. Have you? Ok so what about Gaikhangam or Tamradhwaj Sahu? Congress could call it CWC, India views it as rubber-stamp.

The only people rejoicing in Rahul Gandhi staying put must be Lutyens Media. They need Gandhis for survival. Some of you would jump on the names of Shekhar Gupta or Sagarika Ghose; Rajdeep Sardesai or Barkha Dutt; Ravish Kumar or Vir Sanghvi etc. But singling them out is unfair. It’s the ecosystem, the filth which breeds fleas, pests and cockroaches.

That’s why I feel we would only get more of 2014-2019 in the next five years. A floating Rahul Gandhi is good for vermins and bugs. Be prepared to read the same muck in your newspapers. As long as you buy the newspaper which has Rahul Gandhi on its front page every day, this fraud would survive. When you call them out, Rahul Gandhi would lose his spell over his men. India can then attend to its business.

Think about it.

Lavasa’s rant and the facts readers must know

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Facts are facts. They are the referee, the guiding principle, in a dispute. When both sides are represented, it’s called ethical journalism. When only selective facts are published, that is yellow journalism.

Once it became clear that BJP-NDA would romp home in 2019 General Elections, Indian Express has made much of dissent of one of the three Election Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa.  On a few occasions when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was examined if he had violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), Lavasa was the dissenting voice in the house which cleared Modi of such charges.

After keeping Lavasa’s dissent alive on its front pages, Indian Express has published a long interview with Lavasa today. The lame headline: “Sought prompt action after Supreme Court frowned on delays: Lavasa” was a giveaway on spun charges – a kind of propping up a dead man behind wheels. The story just doesn’t move.

Lavasa laments that his dissents haven’t been recorded. But then Election Commission never does it.  A majority takes a call which in this case decided in favour of Modi. So what’s this fuss about?

Lavasa thus decided to stay away from the last MCC meeting (Lavasa/Express projection is as if he recused himself midway) . By May 16, 2019 General Elections were more or less over. If he had felt stifled, he should’ve done so much before. Even now Lavasa can resign and ignite a serious debate in public and help an Election Commission which he could be heading in 2021.

If he stays put in Election Commission, Lavasa must respond to public scrutiny as he expects his own institution to be. A few facts are in public domain and are grossly unsavoury.  People have a piece on him which Lavasa needs to respond as quickly as he could. It says that his wife, Novel Singhal Lavasa,became a board director in 12 big companies after he became secretary in environment and finance ministry from 2015 onwards.  It questions whether he dealt with the files of these 12 companies during his tenures? The article then digs up instances which are construed as his closeness to various important ministers, including P. Chidambaram.  Now that Lavasa could be our next Chief Election Commissioner, he must submit himself to public probity and upholds the dignity of EC which he has lowered, perhaps unintentionally, in present case.

Personally, I am for recording dissenting voices. Like they do in judiciary.  But I certainly abhor when I suspect agenda. To me this looks like tainting a historic repeat for BJP in 2019 General Elections, if it comes true on May 23. When the projection is that institutions are muzzled, the next corollary is democracy is in danger.  That’s what they do with Russia, China or even Iran. All of them are straining under economic and tariff sanctions.

The game is much bigger than a mere dissent. First, drum up instances. Two, feed global network. Three, ratchet up public opinion. Four, the “custodians” of free world intervene (never mind they don’t bat an eyelid on Pakistan or Saudi Arabia).  Five, crippling economy sanctions follow.

A nation is thus destroyed like it happened in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Remember the “Arab Spring” which was unleashed in Middle East this decade? It’s no longer talked about for it has served its purpose—replace many regimes such as ones in Egypt, Tunisia etc.

I conclude by drawing the attention of readers to this piece in OpIndia. It mentions a former Election Commissioner Navin Chawla against whom once  his chief wrote to President of India, asking for his removal for allegedly taking instructions from the ruling party, in this case Congress. This is the same Chawla who was indicted for his excesses during the Emergency. Yet, the 2009 General Elections were conducted under him.

In this article instances are quoted how despite their miserable showings in 1999 and 2014 elections, parties such as SP, BSP and Left were allowed to remain “national parties” by the benevolence of Election Commission. How despite 100 plus seats, BJP was nearly banned in 2007.

It’s important readers take a call and question their newspapers. Treat it as a matter of life and death. Have complete and not just selective facts. Only responsible readers can make their newspapers accountable. Else, your own nation could be in ruins and your future generations exposed to resultant horrors.

 

Gurumurthy asks Rahul Gandhi: “What about Sonia’s karma?”

Right-wing ideologue Swaminathan Gurumurthy has alleged that former Congress president Sonia Gandhi once established links with killers of her husband Rajiv Gandhi so she could gain politically.

Speaking to a website, Gurumurthy said Sonia Gandhi contacted her husband’s killer and LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran for getting the support of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for the Congress. The Jain Commission of enquiry had suspected the DMK of having a hand in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

Gurumurthy is big enough for India Today magazine to rank him 30th in India’s 50 most powerful people in 2017. He burst into limelight with his expose on Dhirubhai Ambani’s Reliance Industries in the past. He is presently a part-time director of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and edits the Tamil political weekly Thuglaq. He is also the co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch.

“According to the information I had from a third party, the Island Newspaper in Sri Lanka, which I had substantiated from my own sources back then and which I obviously cannot reveal, said that when Sonia Gandhi wanted to enter politics, she did not want any hostility with the LTTE. She said that the killers must not be hanged and that she had forgiven them. Secondly, she wanted them to support her,” Gurumurthy said.

“She could not have sent Eduardo Faleiro to Prabhakaran and Sonia’s mother Paulo Maino could not have met LTTE interlocutor Anton Balasingham by just calling up. There must have been some very powerful interlocutors facilitating it. And there must have been some pre-existing relationship between interlocutors and LTTE. So who are they?” he added.
“If you can make a deal with the killers of your husband for politics, what is your karma? She traded her husband’s death for politics,” Gurmurthy said.

“She did not pursue the investigation into the conspiracies behind the assassination with the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) formed in 1998. She did not once pursue the matter during the UPA rule,” the ideologue added. “This is much worse karma.”

Above was in response to various tweets Gurumurthy made on Tuesday:

“With Sonia’s entry into politics all her commitment to get her husband’s killers to book evaporated. Afterwards she sought peace with her husband killers. She begged main conspirator LTTE’s support to get its fan DMK to shift from NDA to UPA which was crucial to win 2004 poll.

“In 1999 she told President KR Narayanan privately neither she nor her son and her daughter wanted any of the convicts sentenced to death for killing Rajiv to be hanged. Thai was revealed by Mohini Giri (ex-head NCW) (See Frontline magazine friendly to the Left Nov 5-18 2005).

“Sonia was not in politics in 1997 when she demanded action against DMK for associating with LTTE to kill Rajiv. But after locked Sitaram Kesari who had gone to toilet & sat in Congress presidential chair, she changed. The first thing she did was to befriend her husband’s killers.

“Sonia’s & her mother’s secret moves to beg LTTE’s pardon seemed to have started ahead of Dec 2003 when DMK & congress appeared to have agreed on the alliance. In Jan 2004 Sonia met Karunanidhi and firmed up the alliance. In 1997 in Amethi she had hinted DMK was a fan of LTTE,” he added, claiming, “Sonia pulled down UPF government in 1997 because she wanted DMK, accused by Jain Commission as being part of the LTTE conspiracy to kill her husband Rajiv, out. In 1997 LTTE & DMK were killers of her husband. In 2004 they became her allies.

So @RahulGandhi, what about Sonia’s karma?”

The last punchline of course is to put Rahul Gandhi in place for the latter has been terming “karma” soon for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for terming Rajiv Gandhi as “Bhrashtachari No. 1” in a recent rally.

Another firebrand BJP leader and parliamentarian Dr. Subramanian Swamy has in the past accused Sonia Gandhi, P Chidambaram, a high-profile UPA minister and V. Prabhakaran, the once dreaded chief of LTTE of being hand in glove with each other.

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.

 

Aadhaar Act: SC may have to take another call

The Aadhaar issue is far from settled despite Supreme Court ruling on its validity and necessity under the Constitutional norms on Wednesday.

The ruling Modi government would go at breakneck speed in firewalling the data protection so it could approach Supreme Court again on removing the ban on private companies from accessing the users’ data. The opposition Congress, through its protagonist P. Chidambaram, in all probability would challenge the Aadhaar Bill being introduced in SC as a Money Bill in order to bypass the Rajya Sabha.

On Wednesday, Supreme Court has cleared the Aadhaar Act but barred private companies, such as banks and telecoms, from accessing the users’ data as was enabled by Section 57 of the bill. Supreme Court had also ruled that decision of (Lok Sabha) Speaker to certify Aadhaar Bill as Money Bill is open to judicial review.

Supreme Court clamping down on Section 57 wouldn’t please the ruling NDA government. The Supreme Court ought to have asked for a stronger privacy and data protection measures rather than bar private companies from mining Aadhaar. All the world’s technology giants, be it Facebook or Google, Alibaba or Tencent, have been empowered by their governments to control global businesses. India’s only chance is with Aadhaar: after all it enabled a newcomer like Reliance Jio to build a 200-million users’ base for its telecom operations. India’s UPI, RuPay and Bhim platforms are today earning world’s respect only because of users’ Aadhaar being available to them. Supreme Court ruling makes Aadhaar cost-effective but not profit-enabled.

As for the Money Bill part of the Aadhaar ruling, Congress would be encouraged by the dissenting note of Justice Y. Chandrachud who declared it a Constitutional fraud and illegality. (If one could ask, what’s so Constitutionally upright about Collegium System where judges choose judges?). Chidambaram and his ilks are unlikely to let go the opportunity of Aadhaar as Money Bill being open to “judicial review.”

Readers must also remember the dichotomy of Congress/Opposition position vis-à-vis Aadhaar. It was alright for them—and the Lutyens’ Media—to allow Right To Information (RTI) where the privacy of a petitioner is compromised. The privacy and dignity of an individual doesn’t matter to them on RTI. But they have used it as a handle to obstruct the march of Aadhaar.

And if one could ask, what about the private data of millions which UPA collected without committing themselves to Aadhaar in pre-Modi era? Wasn’t it foul, fraud and illegal given that it hadn’t obtained a judicial consent?

The fact is that because of Aadhaar, no longer the beneficiary receives only 15 paisa of the Rs 1 allocated to him. The Modi government has already saved upwards of Rs 90,000 crores from leakages and frauds in the benefit schemes. As per a World Bank report, Aadhaar could save upwards of Rs 11 billion in exchequer’s outflow of funds to the really poor—and not fill the coffers of ghost and duplicate entities. Today, the dole-outs are auditable. Fake ration cards and MGNREGS job cards are no longer working, saving the tax-payers’ hard-earned money. If Chidambaram could explain, how could benefits be paid without identifying the beneficiary?

As for Justice Y. Chandrachud’s critique, just a mere suspicion of constitutional and legal impropriety is not enough to overturn or jeopardize countless schemes and billions invested in enabling technology. If other Judges had gone along with Justice Y. Chandrachud, it would have caused chaos and havoc, not to mention billions of taxpayers’ money going down the drain. Judiciary needs to uphold laws and Constitution but not when its’ at odds with the larger interest of poor and society. Laws are for the citizens; not the other way around.

 

Paradise Papers: BJP MP hauls Indian Express up!

(This is a reprint from NewsBred)

Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha MP, Ravindra Kishore Sinha, has sought Privileges Proceedings against top brass of Indian Express, namely, (a) Vivek Goenka, chairman; (b) Rajkamal Jha, chief editor; (c) Ritu Sarin and (d) Shyamlal Yadav on its “motivated attempt to tarnish his reputation” via expose on “Paradise Papers” on November 6, 2017.

In a letter written to Venkaiah Naidu, Chairman, Rajya Sabha, published as an advertisement in newspapers on Wednesday, Sinha has accused Indian Express of “unethical journalism…in the name of freedom of the press.”

Indian Express had alleged that Sinha was “illegally associated with (a) an offshore company, viz SIS Asia Pacific Holding Limited (SAPHL), incorporated in Malta; (b) that his nomination papers of Rajya Sabha election in 2014 didn’t declare his interest in offshore entities.

In his detailed letter/advertisement, Sinha has pointed out

  • Malta has an approved jurisdiction of full Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with India and doesn’t amount to “tax evasion, money laundering or any malafide intent”;
  • His holding company recently underwent “in-depth scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)…covering all regulations, including the Companies Act, Income Tax Act, SCRA, Stamp Act, FIPB, FEMA etc…no deficiency was found in terms of compliance.”
  • Rajya Sabha nomination form requires only “provisions of details of Assets and Liabilities of which I am the owner or direct beneficiary” which is not true in Sinha’s case (see the full advertisement in pic).

Sinha’s anguish stems from a clearly “vested interest” of Indian Express in publishing the report—and a sneering a mocking version of it online—which he termed as “misleading and devoid of facts,” despite Sinha having shared the details with Indian Express !

Over to Sinha:

“These facts were transparently shared with the Indian Express team prior to publication of the news report. Despite that, they have carried the misleading report devoid of facts and indulged in reputation assassination for vested interests.”

“If the Indian Express claims to be the beacon of independent journalism, why are they not targeting other reputed public figures such as Sachin Pilot, P. Chidambaram, Pinarayi Vijayan etc who have all been named in the ICU Paradise Papers?”

“The Indian Express report is unethical journalism in the name of freedom of the press/freedom of speech and is motivated attempt to tarnish my reputation built over decades. It is extremely sad to see the high standards of neutral and independent journalism set by Ramnath Goenka being destroyed under the current editorial leadership.”

In one word: Damning!!!

One doesn’t know if Sinha tried to put this advertisement in Indian Express for it’s not in its today’s edition. Or, if he did and failed in his attempt. Still, the matter is now in public domain and Express would’ve to come up with an explanation.

At least the Privilege Proceedings against Indian Express is being sought for. Whether Editors’ Guild of India reacts to it is a guess as good as yours as mine. Press Council of India, a Central Statutory Authority, under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting—Mrs Smriti Irani being at the helm—surely should step in as Fake News in Mainstream Media—Lutyens’ Media—is more rampant than ever.

MSM Fake News Monitor: Express on Bhagwat

This has also appeared on NewsBred).

(Facebook has set out 10 tools to check Fake News. A few give-aways are headlines, source, evidence and photos. Indian Express, no surprises here, continues to be the leader of Fake News in Mainstream Media –call it Lutyens’ Media).

Indian Express today had a four-deck headline on its front page: “Farmers, small business must not suffer, RSS chief tells govt” (Sub headline: Mixes praise for Modi with caution, seeks “new provisions” in Valley).

On the parameters set out by Facebook, this is clearly a Fake News. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat never said the “Farmers, small business” are suffering; and even if he thought so, he never addressed it to the government!

Indian Express chose “small business” as the essence of Bhagwat’s speech even though he had some quite explosive opinions on mischief-makers in today’s India: The RSS chief asked for some constitutional provisions of J & K to go; he wanted Rohingyas to be thrown out on security; and he exhorted those involved in cow-protection to keep up their good work and not be dissuaded by sinister coining of word “vigilantism” to make them appear criminal. Pointedly, Bhagwat asked: “Many activists who were peacefully involved in cow protection were attacked and killed. This issue is neither discussed nor being inquired into.” (His entire speech can be watched here).

Yet, Indian Express found merit in giving a Fake Headline to Bhagwat’s speech. They ignored the sumptuous praise which Bhagwat had reserved for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The evidence of their foul play is the headline in its web-edition: “RSS chief praises Modi”, some 20 hours earlier before it was fabricated for the print edition!

One can understand this anxiety of a mouthpiece of Left ideology to keep harping on India’s economy in view of the forthcoming Gujarat assembly elections. Such assault on India’s economy also finds expression in running down “Bullet Train,” more so in the wake of recent stampede tragedy in Mumbai.

Thus you have a story running down “Bullet Train” in Lutyens’ Media. Today, Express has given big displays to P. Chidambaram, Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray, so much so that it almost makes up the entire Page 9. Never mind, such set of people not long ago were worrying that speed of our trains haven’t changed since 1971. This sort of ideology was against metro in cities. Remember the outrage on Mumbai-Pune expressway project? It is this expressway which has made Pune so alluring to corporate and IT sectors. Yojana Bhawan had once declared the Maruti Project as a pipedream. Such ideology couldn’t care less that land prices along the Bullet Train would shoot up and bring a great deal of investment, growth and jobs.

Bullet Train as such is not a Fake News in Indian Express but when politicians and media work in tandem, who are we to disbelieve our politicians and Lutyens’ Media are not part of the same ecosystem which is intent on spreading mischief, a softer version of Fake News?

Another such example of acting in concert is on Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, director of a centre in the Maulana Azad Urdu University in Hyderabad. The man has gone berserk in claiming his life is under threat for writing books such as : “Post-Hindu India, Buffalo Nationalism, Untouchable God” etc. Among his suggestions are to say prayers in English. For the last four months, this ecosystem of mischief and fake news are fuelling each other on Shepherd.  Yesterday it was Indian Express, today it’s Times of India which has splashed his interview in its edit page. No prizes for second guessing that ScrollWire etc have long set the agenda rolling.

Now all those who interview Shepherd, don’t ask him some simple questions: “Sir, why you have nothing ever to say about the discrimination and oppression within Muslim communities?” Or “Sir, why don’t you mention the Reservations which the state grants to your oppressed community of Dalit-Bahujan, depriving many meritorious of the upper castes?” Or, “Sir, any views on why the Leftists, whom you support, have zero representation of Dalit-Bahujans in their top hierarchy?”

Such agenda is visible everywhere. Today, in Indian Express we have a full page interview with a Magsaysay award winner outlining the system’s failure. The less said about Magsaysay awards the better for the CIA-Ford Foundation links in its background are unmistakable. Arvind Kejriwal, or Manish Sisodia, would certainly have something to say on it.

Then there are two pages on the plight of manual scavengers in Indian Express. There are many reasons to sympathize with their plight; but every reason to condemn the attempt to link it with Swachh Bharat mission and by inference show it in poor light. Even as the word is pouring in on Swachh Bharat’s success.