Siddharamiah’s govt asks for opinion of district police heads regarding withdrawal of cases lodged against minorities in communal incidents

According to a tweet by the official handle of BJP Karnataka, Siddharamiah has asked for the opinion of district police heads in the state regarding withdrawal of cases lodged against minorities in communal incidents.

The letter signed by AIGP (General) of Karnataka, addressed to 23 district police heads (including communally sensitive Mangaluru) asks for their clear opinion regarding withdrawal of cases lodged against minorities for the past five years. It also asks these district police heads to send in a copy of relevant documents along with their opinions to the office of AIGP ( Additional Inspector General of Police).

However the letter from AIGP does not contain any direct reference to PFI as claimed by BJP’s tweet. The Congress party and the Chief Minister have not responded to the tweet so far. The Siddharamiah government has been accused of dropping 175 cases against extremist Islamic organisation Popular Front of India (PFI) in 2015.

‘We had no idea about his caste till media told us’, people react to newspaper highlighting caste of Illiyaraja

The New India Express published a report titled : ‘Dalit Outreach through Illayaraja’s Padma’ .

Before this newspaper highlighted his caste identity, most of the people in India were not aware of his caste background. He is recognised as a music maestro alone. The Padma Vibhushan award given to him was a matter of joy to all his fans. Twitter users criticised the newspaper for bringing up caste of the music legend.

 

 

With this, we wonder when the media would stop injecting caste in every issue. Ilayaraja is known for his music. If the media can’t look beyond his caste, it is indeed a tragic indictment of debauchery that the profession of journalism has become.

Republic Day celebrations over the years : some memorable visuals

The Republic Day celebrations in India have been so much more than just commemorating the implementation of our constitution and our arrival as a democratic sovereign republic. The elaborate, vibrant festivities down Rajpath are a glimpse of our military power, culture, diversity and a salutation to our people.

Dr Rajendra Prasad, The First President of India presided over the Republic Day celebrations in 1950.

 

1953 saw the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh karyakartas marching down Rajpath on the Republic day. It is almost hilarious how the Congress party leaders don’t hesitate to brand them as terrorists nowadays.

 

Prominent monarchs and nation heads from across the world have traditionally been invited for the occasion. Here is a picture of Queen Elizabeth attending the 1961 event.

 

Kiran Bedi, India’s First female IPS officer lead the police contingent in 1973. A proud moment for Indian Women.

 

Tourists from all over the world throng Delhi for witnessing the R-Day parade. One of the main attractions is the 61 Cavalry regiment of the Indian Army. It is the world’s only active cavalry regiment.

Another principal attraction of the parade is the march of BSF’s camel regiment. The stunning sight of elegantly dressed camels mounted by BSF’s proud officials in big moustaches and turban is a favourite among the people.

In the 2016 R-Day celebrations, Indian Army’s dog squad made a spectacular march down Rajpath. The beautiful dogs are well trained for bomb disposal and counter-insurgency operations. The stunning visuals became popular worldwide soon.

In 2016, for the first time in the history of the R-Day parade, a contingent of the French Military marched. The then French President Mr Francois Hollande was the Chief Guest.

French soldiers march on Rajpath during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016.Photo By Pankaj Nangia

The next year, 2017 also saw a contingent from UAE taking part in the parade. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed was the chief guest for the celebrations.

 

This year, saw a Tableaux depicting the coronation of the legendary Hindu Kind Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and an unprecedented 10 ASEAN heads as the Chief Guests.

           

One article can’t capture the glorious history of Republic Day celebrations in our country. They have been and continue to be a proud representation of our heritage and emerging prominence as a global power.

The 69th Republic Day celebrations, a bearer of many firsts, call for an emotional celebration

As 26th January dawned upon us, the nation geared up for the 69th Republic Day celebrations. Even though this wasn’t the first Republic Day, it was a Republic Day of many firsts.

This Republic Day marked the first time when 10 heads of states belonging to the ASEAN countries were invited as Chief Guests. The normal practice till date being inviting one head of state. These chief guests included, Myanmar’s state councillor Aung San Suu Kyi, Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

When it came to the celebration itself, these were a few new additions like a first time tableaux for All India Radio (AIR), which also featured PM Modi’s popular Maan Ki Baat program:

What created the biggest flutter was Maharashtra’s choice of Tableaux, which was dedicated towards honouring legendary Hindu King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This Tableaux was themed around his coronation which took place at the Raigad fort in Maharashtra:

Not just this, what further garnished the Tableaux was the apt choice of “Jai Bhavani Jai Shivaji” reverberating around the Tableaux, which took one back, to one of the glorious periods of Hindu history.

Here’s a video of the Tableaux, as captured by @brakoo:

This predictably oozed emotions among many social media users:

What also set apart this Republic Day was the choice of recipients for the prestigious Padma awards, which were announced on Thursday. The winners included unsung heroes like:

  • Lentina Ao Thakkar, a Gandhian who has worked for the betterment of Naga hills since the 1950s.
  • Sulagatti Narsamma, a 97 year old lady who in the backward regions of Karnataka has performed over 15,000 traditional deliveries till date, all free of cost.
  • Sudhanshu Biswas, a 99 year old freedom fighter, who after ensuring independence for his country, kept working for its betterment by striving to provide Primary Education for children in rural India.
  • Professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan, who might have come up with one of the most important innovations in the 21st century, which is reusing our plastic waste to construct roads. These roads, may not only solve our recycling problems, they are also more durable and water resistant.

As mentioned at the start of the report, this Republic Day truly marked many firsts, which reaffirms the fact that there can be many positive accompaniments to an idea which holistically shall always remain constant.

No to Kaveri dispute, but yes to Mahadayi row. Here’s why Kannadigas feel Prakash Raj is an opportunistic hypocrite

Prakash Raj has been a vocal anti-BJP voice ever since his friend Gowri Lankesh had been murdered by unknown assailants. He has used every available opportunity to criticize the BJP and the Prime Minister. In his pursuit, he has not failed to lie repeatedly, in order to suit his agenda.

Now the south Indian actor is in the race for the hypocrite of the year award. He had refused to make any comment on the river dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka a year ago. Raj had said that he would only speak on cinema and not governance.

Raj says no comments on Kaveri dispute, walks out of interview

While being interviewed by a local channel named Janasri news on October 1 on his cinema ‘Idolle Ramayana‘, Prakash Raj had walked out because of a question on the Kaveri river water dispute. He had asked the media to be responsible while speaking on sensitive issues.

The anchor asked Prakash Raj : There is a Ramayana going in the state since one month. What do you think of the Kaveri issue. Is the SC right or wrong?

Prakash Raj replied : Actor, director, producer Prakash Raj is here to talk about films. Politics is a totally different issue. This issue is a very important, deep and sensitive topic. People are already angry. Water is not the only issue affecting farmers alone. Why do you want to drag me into controversy? You must relay this comment of mine to the people. Never come to me again.

The video of this episode is below :

On the Mahadayi dispute

However, in the case of Mahadayi river dispute he made a veiled attack on the BJP. This time he has nothing to lose and a lot to gain by presenting himself as a Kannadiga and an anti-BJP figure in the society.

Prakash Raj, in a short video posted on his Twitter profile requested all governments and parties to stop politicising the Mahadayi river dispute. He said that the Kannadigas have a right over river [Mahadayi] water flowing through Kalasa Banduri.

‘Party that is elected in a democracy should work for all people. Having a government in center and other states will not solve the issue. Making such a claim is a lie’ he claimed. This comment was solely directed at Amit Shah, state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa and Goa CM Manohar Parikkar who are working over a possible solution to the dispute.

“This problem is not un-solvable. Let us fight and get our rights [over the water]. I stand with the people on this issue,” Raj said. He asked the leaders of various parties not to politicize the river dispute. Further, he asked them to set aside their ideologies and not beg for votes using this issue.

Karanataka is #JustAsking Prakash Raj

The question that all Kannadigas are asking on social media is, where does Prakash Raj’s true loyalties lie? Does he change his stance based on the situation? Is he an opportunist and hypocrite? What is the source of his sudden love for Karnataka?

Is Raj’s change in policy on speaking on river disputes because he is a multi-lingual actor who has commercial stakes in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu? And is he playing up his ‘Kannada’ identity in the Mahadayi water dispute between Karnataka and Goa as he has no commercial stake in Goa’s cinema industry? #JustAsking..

Democratisation of Padma Awards : Modi is giving the country back to its common people

As a citizen of India, I was elated to see the list of Padma Awardees this year. Unlike the regular list, this one was not crowded with popular figures from Bollywood, FICCI, Lutyens or Indian cricket team. Apart from Illyaraja , MS Dhoni and Pankaj Advani, most of the awardees are less known people who have excelled in their own spheres. They are no where close to the power centers/lobbies/wheeler dealers of Delhi. Finally, I feel that the common man has been honored on the 69th Republic day.

The preamble of our constitution begins with ‘We the people’ and ends with ‘give to ourselves this constitution.’ It’s true that the constitution of India intends to empower, recognise and respect every citizen irrespective of his/her background. But that impression was dying slowly and steadily. An impression had been formed that one needs to be a part of this elite circle to deserve a Padma Award. That has been corrected to some extent by the current government led by Modi

Democratisation of Padma Awards

“Remember how Padma Awards were given earlier? We brought in a ‘small’ change – people can recommend names for awards, unlike the past,” the PM had said at the champions of change event organised by NITI Aayog on August 17 2017. The fruit of this qualitative change is visible in the list of Padma awards. 15,700 nominations were received for the awards this year. The number was 18,768 last year. The result of this de-lutyenisation of Padma awards is there for us to see in 2018. 

Some gems in this years list

A Gandhian from North East India, Lentina Ao Thakkar has been awarded Padma Shri this year. The awareness of freedom movement in this part of India is largely unknown to the people of India. Modi has recognised the contribution of North East freedom fighters like Rani Gadiniliu in the past. This is a welcome move.

The fact that medical services in rural India are poor is well known. In these regions, maternal and infant healthcare is essential to ensure safe deliveries. By honouring Sulagatti Narsamma, a 97 year old woman who helped expecting mothers deliver babies using her traditional knowledge, the government has recognized such unknown figures who are silently serving the people.

Primary education is of utmost importance as it shapes the future of the children of the country. By choosing Sudhanshu Biswas, who has worked selflessly for decades to provide Primary Education for children in rural parts of the country, Modi government has inspired more people to do the same in future.

Innovation is the key for future of India. Rajagopalan Vasudevan developed a method to make roads with plastic trash. He offered it for free to the government. Probably, he wouldn’t have dreamt of getting this award for his selfless deed. This recognition for a common professor brings a great deal of joy to common citizens of India.

The entire list of awardees this year is filled with remarkable people. By honoring common people of India , the country is reclaiming the space that was lost to a select elite of the country. And that is worth celebrating. Jai Hind!

Lawyer decides to withdraw case against AAP MLAs after ‘party goon’ allegedly tries to kill him

20 AAP MLAs already disqualified, this lawyer is now seeking disqualification of 21 more

Lawyer Vibhor Anand, who had sought disqualification of 27 MLAs belonging to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi assembly has said that he has written to the Election Commission and the President of India seeking permission to withdraw his complaint against the MLAs.

Vibhor had argued that these 27 MLAs held ‘office of profit’ and he had filed a petition seeking their disqualification in 2016. 10 of these 27 MLAs were disqualified in another case by the Election Commission last week – a decision later approved by the President of India. If the 17 remaining MLAs were disqualified as well owing to Vibhor’s petition, Delhi could have faced a constitutional crisis attracting President’s rule.

But Vibhor revealed on Twitter last night that he had written to the Election Commission and the President seeking withdrawal of the case filed by him:

Speaking to OpIndia.com, Vibhor said that he was taking this step after being disappointed and frustrated with the Delhi police, which failed to act on his repeated complaints against a person named Rohit, who allegedly has been harassing Vibhor for a long time.

Vibhor alleges that Rohit is a history sheeter who is named as accused in many cases at Patel Nagar and Anand Parbat police stations. He further alleged that Rohit was a ‘money collection agent’ for the local AAP MLA and has been targeting him due to his petition against the 27 AAP MLAs.

Vibhor claimed that last week Rohit even physically assaulted him and beat him badly, a complaint regarding which he filed in the Patel Nagar police station, but no action was taken against the accused. Things became really serious a couple of days after this incident when Rohit allegedly tried to run his car over Vibhor.

The young advocate claims that despite his attempts to lodge a complaint and multiple calls to 100 (Police Control Room) against Rohit, not even his statement has been recorded by the police so far.

Given that Vibhor had requested to fast track the hearing in the case filed by him against the AAP MLAs, Vibhor believes that goons like Rohit could target his life again. However, more than threats by such goons, it was inaction of Delhi police, which troubled him.

After Vibhor revealed the threats against him, Prashant P Umrao, the lawyer whose petition led to the disqualification of 20 MLAs, revealed that he too had to face pressure due to his case against the AAP MLAs. Prashant too had sought police protection a few days earlier.

Update:

Lawyer Vibhor Anand has now been provided security by Delhi Police, following which he has now withdrawn his letter to President for the permission to withdraw from the case against 27 AAP MLAs.

Know the chief guests who witness the 69th Republic Day parade today

In yet another out of the box foreign policy initiative of the Modi government , all leaders of ASEAN have been invited as chief guests for India’s 69th Republic day. This also marks the 25th anniversary of India ASEAN dialogue. Therefore it is fitting that the leaders of ASEAN are invited to mark the occasion. Here is a profile of the 10 ASEAN leaders who will witness the Republic day parade today.

Brunei : His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah

The Sultan of Brunei, His Majesty Haji Hassanal is one of the richest monarchs of the world according to Forbes. He has the biggest private residence in the world. His palace has 1788 rooms. Former US President Obama famously remarked in a private meeting about how he had flown his own Boeing 747 aircraft while travelling to USA (in 2013).  “I think he’s probably the only head of state in the world who flies a 747 himself”, said Obama. His Majesty is the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Finance Minister of Brunei.

 

Cambodia : Prime Minister Hun Sen

PM Hun Sen is one of the world’s longest serving prime ministers. He has been leading many coalitions since 1985. PM Sen was appointed to the office again in 2013. The opposition has also accused him of fraud in elections. Hun Sen has been a member of the Communist Party since late 1960s. He had grabbed power from his co-prime minister in 1997. Currently he is the leader of Cambodian People’s Party.

Indonesia : President Joko Widodo

President Joko Widodo was elected in July 2014. He is from a humble background. His father was a wood seller. He had served as the Governor of Jakarta before taking over as the President of Indonesia in a closely fought contest. He was the candidate of PDI-P party. His election seems to have marked a new beginning in Indonesia.

Laos :  Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith

PM Sisoulith has held his position since 2016. Prior to his Prime Ministership, he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is also a polit bureau member of the Laos People Revolutionary Party. Thongloun Sisoulith has a PhD in philosophy and master’s degree in linguistics and literature.

Malaysia :  The Honourable Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak

PM Abdul Razak started his political career as the youngest Member of Parliament in 1976. He has held many ministerial positions including deputy prime minister-ship before taking up the top post of the country. He also holds a degree in Industrial Economics from Nottingham University. PM Razak has held the position of PM since 2009.

 

Myanmar : State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Syu Chi is the winner of Nobel Prize for peace. She has been overseeing the transition of her country from miliary rule to democracy. Though she doesn’t hold the top executive posts of Myanmar, she has considerable influence over the government of Myanmar. She had obtained her education Lady Shri Ram College and Oxford. She is the youngest daughter of Aung San (Father of modern Myanmar) and leader of NLD (National League for Democracy).

Phillipines : President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte is the oldest person to take up the Presidentship of Phillipines. He is a lawyer turned politician. President Duterte is the longest serving mayor of Phillipines . He was mayor of Davao city in the years 1988 , 2001-2010 and 2013-2016. Duterte holds degrees in political science and law.

Singapore : Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Lee Hsien Loong has been the Prime Minister of Singapore since January 2016. He is the eldest son of Singapore’s much respected leader Lee Kuan Yew. Lee has studied in prestigious universities like Cambridge and Harvard. He won his first election to Parliament in 1984. Currently he leads the People’s Action Party. He has served as finance minister, trade minister and deputy prime minister before taking his country’s leadership.

Thailand : Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha

PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha is the military leader turned civilian prime minister of Thailand. He has been holding the post since August 2014. Though was elected by the legislature, reports suggested that the army has filled the country’s legislature with army loyalists. Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has a bachelor of science degree from Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy.

Vietnam :Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc has been a member of the Vietnamese communist party since 1983. He had lost his mother and sister during the Vietnamese war. He has held several important positions including deputy prime minster before taking up the post of Prime minister. He has studied administrative management at Vietnam National Administrative Academy.

 

 

Arvind Kejriwal makes inflammatory statements to attack the BJP over anti-Padmaavat protests

Now you can have your own apology from Arvind Kejriwal, here is how
Kejriwal smiling

The Opposition seems to have discovered a golden opportunity to corner the BJP, in the matter of the anti-Padmaavat protests.

The Congress has questioned the BJP’s inability to maintain law and order across the country, amidst protests which have turned grossly violent. The Congress has now moved the Supreme Court seeking contempt action against the BJP government in the states which have witnessed a spate of attacks from mobs.

The Congress some allege, might be playing a clever double game over the protests, bearing in mind the elections in Rajasthan later this year. It was reported by us today how Digvijay Singh came out in support of the Anti-Padmaavat protests, and claimed that movies, which ‘hurt sentiments of any religion or caste should not be made’:

What might put Congress into a bigger soup is that, recently the Karni Sena declared its support to the Congress for the by-polls in Ajmer and Alwar.

In this political blame game, it seems that even Arvind Kejriwal, doesn’t wish to be left behind.

The Chief Minister of Delhi, seems to have chosen to play Dalit-Muslim politics over the issue. According to him, one can no longer afford to remain silent on the inability of the BJP governments to curb violence.

A video has emerged on Twitter which shows him particularly agitated as he blamed the BJP for the violence.

The BJP’s inability to curb the violence, seems to have provided the opposition with a huge opportunity to attack the party. And the opposition, which itself seems to have definite links with the groups indulging in violence, is taking advantage of the ruckus to the fullest.

With “Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji!” set to boom across Rajpath this Republic Day, India is finally honouring her legendary king blessed by the Gods themselves

On the occasion Republic Day, Maharashtra will honour one of its greatest monarchs, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, with a tableaux themed on his coronation. In a dream come true scenarios for Hindus, chants of ‘Jai Bhavani Jai Shivaji’ shall boom across Rajpath in honour of the man who founded the empire that would go on to destroy the Mughal Dynasty.

For a long time, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj has not been honoured in the fashion that his legacy commands. Of course, it has always been a different story in Maharashtra, where there is a whole textbook in schools dedicated to the legacy of Shivaji Maharaj.

Nehru did not hold a very charitable opinion about Shivaji Maharaj, it’s not surprising then that in Nehru’s India the great Maratha king was not awarded the recognition that he truly deserves. However, for the good of all of us, the days of Nehruvian secularism are thankfully over and now we have finally begun to honour our heroes from the past.

The Shivaji Maharaj tableaux in the Republic Day parade is not the only significant symbol of the restructuring of Indian sociopolitical realities. Maheish Girri, MP from Delhi and National Secretary of the BJP, recently announced on Twitter that a ‘Mahayagya’ shall be organized at the Lal Qilla grounds for the safety and security of our great nation. The significance of the Yagya at the Red Fort grounds should not be underestimated. For centuries, Red Fort was symbolic of the Islamic rule over India. For a long long time, our ancestors could not even have imagined that one day, their descendants shall organize a Yagya at its grounds.

Of course, one could attribute all of it to political opportunism. And it is true that every political party in Maharashta, the BJP, Shiv Sena, NCP, the Congress, all of them lay a strong claim to the legacy of Shivaji Maharaj, as otherwise, electoral campaigns are doomed to failure. However, Narendra Modi quoting from ancient Hindu scriptures at international forums, Yoga celebrated at an international level, all of it point to the simple reality that India is finally posturing itself globally as the land of the Hindu civilisation. In Samuel Huntington’s terms, the great Hindu civilisation is finally gearing itself to participate in the clash of civilisations.

Honouring the life of Shivaji Maharaj is important even for our national character. As a consequence of the deification of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, entire generations of our country have imbibed a pacifist tendency towards conflict. In time of chaos, when we are surrounded by existential threats from all fronts, we do not need the pacifism of Gandhi, for our enemies shall not be defeated by mere words and appeals to their conscience. We need the valor and strength of Shivaji Maharaj and the resolve in our hearts to march forward even on the face of great adversity as the great Maratha king did, for it is our duty to honour the sacrifices of our ancestors and secure a bright future for our descendants. When Shivaji Maharaj went against the Mughals, hope for success was little and the risks were huge, but that did not stop him from fulfilling his duty towards his nation and his Gods. For duty is supreme. On one hand lay the scope for immense torture and eventual death and on the other, immortality. Shivaji Maharaj grabbed immortality by the collars and etched his name in golden colours across the pages of history.

More than 330 years after his death, Shivaji Maharaj still has the ability to unite Indians under one banner. During his time, he gave the slogan of ‘Hindavi Swaraj’ and despite what his detractors in these times might say, his scope for Swaraj was pan-Indian. In his letter to Mirza Raje Jai Singh, Shivaji Maharaj expresses his earnest desire of not wanting to battle another valorous Hindu monarch and urges the king to reconsider his decision made at the behest of Aurangzeb. Shri Aurobindo in his works imagines a conversation between the two great Kings where Shivaji Maharaj has the last say with the words, “I undermined an empire and it has not been rebuilt. I created a nation and it has not yet perished.”

It is understandable why our eminent historians haven’t paid proper tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. In his letter to Raje Jai Singh, Shivaji says of the Mughals, “They are Rakshasas in the guise of men, devoid of justice and religion.” It is obvious then that their rather morbid adulation of Mughals wouldn’t have permitted them to honour a man who had such great compliments to offer for their favorite historical characters.

There have been moments in Hindu history when reality seemed to defy all proportions of sanity. When it’s very existence hung at a fine precipice, when obliteration seemed only moments away and mere existence felt like prolonged death, the universe acted in mysterious ways and almost always, a hero has emerged from the cesspit of abyss to rescue the great civilization from certain eradication and propel it to new heights. Shivaji Maharaj was certainly one such man. Legend has it that Shivaji Maharaj was blessed by Maa Bhawani herself and given a sword, the Sword of Bhavani, to march forth and vanquish the enemies of the Hindu nation. And vanquish, he did. Kavi Bhushan says in one of his poems that “Chandi grows fat” chewing the heads of the Mughals that Shivaji and his army had slain. The Sword of Bhawani, interestingly, resurfaces every time the Hindu nation is in great peril and judging from recent events, one cannot shake off the feeling that time is ripe for another hero to reach out and grasp Maa Bhavani’s sword and do the Goddess’ bidding.

Another such event was the escape of Shivaji Maharaj and the Battle of Pavan Khind. Baji Prabhu was the second in command of the contingent when Shivaji made his escape. Circumstances forced Baji Prabhu to stay back with 300 of his men to ensure that Shivaji Maharaj could reach Vishalgarh when the Adilshahi forces, 10000 strong, gave them chase. The 300 Marathas then decided to make their last stand at Ghod Pind. During the battle, the heroic Baji Prabhu suffered several mortal wounds, and yet he rose every single time, to continue the fight, a man possessed by dedication towards his King and sense of duty. Historian Dennis Kincaid says, “The defence has become legendary in Western India. The action is remarkable as an example of the spirit which Shivaji’s leadership infused into his followers.” Later, the Marathas renamed the Battle at Ghod Kind as the Battle of Pavan Khind, “The Battle of the Sacred Pass.”

More than three centuries after Aurangzeb described him as a “Mountain Rat”, Shivaji’s name shall resonate across the place which was the very seat of Mughal power in India. From then until now, we have traveled a great distance and yet here we are, at this critical juncture of history, with the light from the beacon of Shivaji Maharaj’s legacy guiding us into a new era of prosperity. Unlike our pagan cousins, we are still right here. And we are still a billion strong. And we are ready to play our cards in the world.

The lady accused of casteism by ‘The Print’ lashes out at the hit job, calls it ‘sick journalism’

ThePrint's Shekhar Gupta

Shekhar Gupta has been in the business of peddling baseless stories of caste discrimination for quite some time. He accused  the system of selectively convicting Lalu Prasad Yadav and letting go of former Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra because of their caste background. However this bias was busted when the former CM Mishra was convicted in the third fodder case. Now he has also defamed a woman (a doctor in AIIMS) travelling in Delhi Metro by using an image clicked by his employee Sanya Dhingra.

Dhingra’s Tweet Goes Viral

Sanya Dhingra, a journalist at The Print posted a tweet on 20th January which carried the picture of the nanny sitting on the floor of Delhi Metro. She also accused the mother in the picture of ‘caste/class discrimination’. The tweet went viral. Shekhar Gupta went on to write an article titled ‘Even in an empty Delhi metro coach, middle-class Indians make their maids sit on the floor’ which cited several other cases of discrimination/violence against maids/employees in the past. He wrote :

With rising prosperity, more double-income couples and nuclear families, the need for domestic workers is increasing – and so is the class divide.

Our reporter Sanya Dhingra tweeted this brilliant, eye-opening picture on Saturday that tells us more than a thousand words on our class differences and the way we treat our domestic workers. Even in a fairly empty metro coach, a maid sits on the floor and not with her employer and her child. The tweet took no time going viral. It obviously struck a chord.

The mother in the picture responds to The Print’s ‘sick journalism’

Kshitij Dhamija (@cynical_kshitij), the brother of the lady in the picture posted her response on his blog and shared the link on Twitter. The lady shared her version of the story in the blog post where she said that they (herself, the maid and the baby) had been sitting comfortably on the floor when there was a crowd in the metro. However, she got up, walked around because her baby was restless. Later the mother and child had taken a seat to feed her child.

As per the lady’s version of the story, Dhingra asked the nanny to sit on the seat. But the nanny had replied that she was comfortable sitting on the floor without any hesitation. The lady also narrated as to how she confronted the journalist Dhingra after she got to know about the viral picture. The lady had asked her to remove the picture posted with a misleading comment. Ms Dhingra refused to do so. The mother also accused Dhingra of cropping out the luggage in the picture to insinuate caste/class discrimination. She wrote (emphasis added)

I decided to confront Ms. Dhingra and called her, asking her how she could such a hideous and unethical thing to us when she has witnessed everything with her own eyes. She saw me struggling with my child, she saw us shifting from one window to the other just to pacify him, she saw him cry to get down on the train.

Moreover, when she asked my nanny, she without hesitation told her that she is comfortable sitting on the floor and then I explained to her that we have many bags as well and we are about to get down. She saw us struggle to carry those bags together and she still went ahead with all this. She took advantage of the situation, took our picture without our knowledge and proceeded to accuse us of something we didn’t even do. The bags were conveniently removed from the picture for her benefit.

She said she was sorry for putting me in such a situation but whatever she has done, it is part of her job and she has full right to do so since our legal system gives her the right of free speech and expression. I requested her to please remove the picture from social media so that it is not used by others again in an incorrect context but she refused and made it clear that she would neither remove, nor apologize.

The lady also explained how this hit-job on her by The Print puts her in a difficult position. She said that she was in public service and routinely treated poor patients at the AIIMS. She explained how bad portrayal in the media had maligned her in public eye. She questioned how journalists could indulge in irresponsible behavior without consequences. The lady said ‘She (Sanya Dhingra) should have apologised. She didn’t. She doesn’t really deserve any sympathy.’

We need to wait and watch if The Print apologizes to the lady for defaming her on social media. The complete version of incident written by the lady accused of caste discrimination against her child’s nanny is below:

Raghuram Rajan praises GST and his successor Urjit Patel at Davos

Former RBI Governer Raghuram Rajan

Former RBI  Governor Raghuram Rajan spoke at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland.

Speaking on a range of issues from demonetisation, GST and current economic scenarios around the globe, Mr Rajan praised the work of his successor, current RBI Governer Urjit Patel. Mr Rajan said that six-member panel headed by Mr Patel, known as the Monetary Policy Committee, is doing a tremendous job in focussing on inflation. According to a report in Financial Express, Mr Rajan said that Demonetisation and GST were the two big headwinds that the Indian Economy had faced in the last year. Mr Rajan said the Indian Economy was held back slightly due to these two major reforms.

However, he was positive on the long-term impacts of GST and stressed that it will have very positive impact on the Indian Economy. He added further that it is important to bring necessary changes in the GST quickly and let it stabilise.

Rajan emphasised on sharing and said that the western world would need the new emerging economies in order to go a long way. According to a report, he said that the majority population in western countries is ageing and they would need the population of the emerging world to sell their products.

Speaking at a session in the WEF on the broad topic of the power of economic narratives, he stressed that western policy makers would need to work on the main challenges of technology, the ageing population and climate change. He added that they will need to acknowledge the power of emerging world and start addressing these challenges soon.

Raghuram Rajan spoke to ET NOW at Davos:

He is currently Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Earlier he had declined the Aam Aadmi Party’s offer of a Rajya Sabha nomination.

Brave Iranian woman who took off her hijab to protest, has been reported missing

The woman Vida Movahed has been missing

The brave Iranian woman who became a symbol for women standing up against oppression and Islamic Fundamentalism around the world is now reported missing.

The date was 27 December 2017. In the Enghelab Street of central Tehran, brave Vida Movahed (as some Iranians claim her name is) stood up on a pillar box, took off her hijab and waved it as a sombre, silent protest. For most people like us living in countries that don’t enforce fundamentalism, the gravity of this defiant act might be lost. But for the women in Iran and millions of women around the world, this was monumental. A defining moment in their fight against oppression. Exposing your head and hair in the public is a crime for women in Iran.

Iran saw widespread protests in December when the public took to streets protesting against the Islamic regime. The protests which started against corruption and economic policies soon turned against the religious oppression practised by the government under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The 31-year-old woman soon became an icon for women worldwide. Her picture waving her hijab became an inspiration for artworks and posters. Movements like ‘My Stealthy Freedom’ supporting Iranian women who want to take off their hijab adapted her image in their campaign. The image of Vida waving her hijab became viral around the world soon. It inspired many other women in Iran to do the same.

The Iranian regime however, suppressed the protests ruthlessly. Many women who dared to take off their hijabs were arrested and many also were later found dead under unclear circumstances.

A couple of days ago, people across Iran began receiving news that Ms Vida is among the several missing protesters too. As reported by these sources she is a mother of a 19 month old child and was last seen being taken away by law enforcement officials.

Human rights activists and people supporting the uprising in Iran have started a hashtag #WhereIsShe to reach out to people across the globe and make the authorities release her.

Journalists and Women’s rights activists all over are also demanding to know her whereabouts.

Thousands of people around the world who have supported women’s freedom now have one burning question in their minds; is she even alive?

Dear Karni Sena, I am a proud Rajput woman, and you bring shame to my community

Dear Karni Sena chief and other esteemed members,

As a responsible member of the Rajput community, I am writing this open letter to share my concerns over the burning Padmaavat movie issue which has literally set the whole country ablaze in the last few days.

When I first heard about the movie set being vandalised by Karni sena members back in Jan 2017 to protest against a supposed intimate dream scene between Rani Padmini and Khilji, I thought it was a little too much. Maybe, the matter could have been sorted in more peaceful ways. But then the rumours were dismissed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali himself and we assumed the friction would end. The dream sequence between a tyrant and Rani Padmini would have been objectionable. But now, protesting against the movie based on a song is outlandish and it seems like your organization has an agenda quite different from “protecting the Rajputana pride and honour”.

This indeed is an issue of national concern and needs immediate attention of the authorities in each state where your members are presently running amok and setting ticket counters, shops, malls, buses and public property ablaze, while unabashedly taking law in hand in the name of protecting a community’s pride.

Pardon my knowledge of History, but as far as I understand, the movie is based on a 13th century battle between Maharaja Ratan Singh of Mewar and Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi. The bone of contention doesn’t seem to be distortion of important historical dates, facts, figures or battle results as portrayed in the movie, but the fact that Deepika’s dressing and her dance in the movie is something actual Rani Padmini would have never done.

In your imagined quest to preserve the honour of Rani Padmini, you (I’m presuming) managed to pelt stones at a bus carrying school children and had them screaming in fear. Is this how you uphold the illustrious valour of the Raputana clan? Rajputs, YOU GUYS too, are supposed to be men of courage who don’t mind sacrificing your blood to protect women and children. A band of goons attacking children and torching public property doesn’t protect the Rajputana pride, but shames it.

I’m shocked you don’t realise that the historians of our country haven’t outsourced their job to Bollywood. History is meant to be learnt from textbooks and research papers. While I agree that when one makes a movie based on History, it must stick to the broad facts and outcomes, but a movie will take artistic liberties, or it would have to be called a documentary. And when, as it appears, there are no blatant distortions, why in the world would you hold the country to ransom if you didn’t have some other ulterior motive and this movie is a mere tool to achieve those?

My whole life seems to be a lie now as I grew up thinking that Rajput history is one of the most illustrious legacies in the book of Indian history, but thanks to the protest I now know its weak enough to be completely damaged and distorted by a mere movie, naye, a song (as it appears).

From a clan known for protecting women and children to becoming a threat to law and order – how and when did we lose the essence of being a true Rajput? And you, being the self appointed custodian of Rajput pride, perpetuated this monstrosity. Does it not shame you?

I may not be well versed in my knowledge of history or an expert on Rani Padmini’s dressing sense and her interest (or lack of it) in dancing but I do understand that no religion, caste, history or organization’s beliefs can be above the life and safety of the people of the country.

If alive, Rani Padmavati, known to put the well-being of the women and children of her kingdom even above her own life, would certainly have disapproved of your organization’s crass acts in the name of protecting her honour.

I haven’t seen the movie and do not consider myself (or anyone who has not seen the movie) competent to comment on its contents. I am not sure how much Sanjay Leela Bhansali has destroyed the Rajput history through this movie, but looking at the riot and violence being carried out by Karni Sena members, I can say for sure that your organization is perhaps harming our heritage way more than any movie ever could.

For the first time perhaps, I find myself not extremely happy about being identified as a Rajput. Not because I don’t have pride in my history, but because I might be judged with the same standard you are setting, and by no means, is that yardstick, one that I would like to be judged by. You have given vested interests not only the opportunity to mock Rajputs, but to point fingers at our history, legacy and heritage. Why wouldn’t they? You have handed them the “Rajput goons” phrase on a platter. They now stand questioning the valour of our kings and warriors, all because you appointed yourselves as the custodian of our community and gave it a terrible name.

There are varied views on how much disgrace Deepika has brought to the Rajput community through her dance in the movie but there is not an iota of doubt that the violent protests done by your organization are surely a disgrace to me and millions of other peace loving, law abiding Rajputs across the nation.

I am a Rajput. I am a proud Rajput. I disown your protest. I disown your violence. I disown your thuggery. You are not the custodian of our community, and with your latest rampage, you will never be.

Regards,

The Dancing Rajput

While Rahul blames BJP, Digvijaya Singh opposes Padmaavat and Karni Sena extends support to Congress

Despite being on a six month long break as he undertakes the Narmada Yatra, Digvijaya Singh came out to voice his support to anti-Padmavat protests and said that films which ‘hurt sentiments of any religion or caste’ should not be made.

If a film is different from history and hurts sentiments of people of particular religion or community, it should be best to avoid making it, Singh is reported to have said while interacting with media in Madhya Pradesh.

Singh, who is on a 3,000 km pilgrimage, which passes through 110 Assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, which goes to poll later this year, is expected to play a major role in uniting Congress Madhya Pradesh. Padmavat film, which was slated to release today, has been facing violent protests from Karni Sena for alleged distortion of Rajput history.

This is not the first time Singh has played caste card. Last year, following encounter of gangster Anandpal Singh, he had demanded CBI inquiry and urging the Rajput ministers in Rajasthan to resign if Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje does not order a CBI probe. Interestingly, during the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat in August last year, Singh had appealed to rebelling Congress MLA Shankarsinh Vaghela to not forget he is a Rajput and not to forget what Congress had done for him.

While Karni Sena has extended support to Congress for upcoming elections, Congress’ double standard is quite evident with Rahul Gandhi supposedly condemning the violence and blaming BJP for it.

Meanwhile, amid tight security, the film Padmavat has released across India, even as some theatre owners chose not to screen the film, fearing violence. If mild spoilers don’t bother you, you could read the review here.

Deoband Clerics slam Nawazuddin Siddiqui and his brother for movie highlighting the evil practice of Nikah Halala

Shabir was arrested for assaulting his wife and giving her triple talaq
Representational image

The movie ‘Miyan Kal Aana’, produced by Nawazuddin Sidiqqui and directed by his brother, Nawabuddin, has incurred the wrath of Deoband clerics. The movie, which has won 10 awards across the globe, was attacked by Muslim clerics for highlighting the evils of Halala. Maulana Arshad Farooqui, chairman of Fatwa Online of Deoband, stated, “If halala is illegitimate then as a Muslim Nawazuddin should know that making and watching movies, too, don’t have Islamic approval and hence illegitimate too.”

“As such, watching films itself is un-Islamic and on the top of it the facts you are showing in the film are misleading. Halala is there to provide support to a woman who has been divorced. But it is always projected in a wrong way. We condemn the film,” The Deoband ulemas said.

Maulana Nadeem-Ul-Wajidi told TOI, “Halala Nikah’s meaning has been completely twisted and today it is seen as some kind of tool to force woman to sleep with someone else other than her husband. On the contrary, the purpose of Halala is actually to give support to a woman who has been divorced. It actually gives her a right to marry again to anyone except her husband. What is so wrong in that? But some sections and these ill-informed filmmakers just showcase everything in a different light.”

Halala is an Islamic practice that dictates that a divorced women must marry another man, consummate the marriage and then divorce the man before she can allowed to remarry her ex-husband. It often leads to an exploitation of women and emotional and sexual harassment. Maulvis have been known to charge money, even as much as 1 lakh rupees, from women looking to save their marriages, for engaging in one night’s sexual relation. There have been instances where Muslim men have forced their wives to have sex with their friends under the pretense of Halala.

‘Miyan Kal Aana was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in India where it received much praise and has now been made available on YouTube where, at the time the report was written, it had 132k views in 5 days.

Gurugram police shoots down misleading media reports during the ongoing Padmaavat violence

The Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie Padmavaat, which releases on Thursday, has become a major outrage point for a few radical groups like Karni Sena, who claim to represent ‘Rajput interests’.

Leading up to the movie’s release, the violence which had earlier meant vandalising the movie’s sets, took a whole new shape. It was reported by us how on Tuesday, ticket counters and vehicles parked outside multiplexes in cities in Gujarat were set ablaze and shops inside the malls were vandalised by people identifying themselves as Karni Sena. A total of 48 people were arrested by the police in connection with the violence.

The violent protesters also decided to strongly hit the city of Gurugram in Haryana, where protesters pelted stones and even torched a bus:

The protesters apart from blocking the Gurugram-Wazirpur-Pataudi road, also deplorably pelted stones at a school bus which was ferrying young children. To much relief, the police later confirmed that no kids were injured in the incident, and that 13 people were arrested for this attack.

While the violent protests were underway, some media reports came out to claim that clubs and bars in Gurugram were ordered to remain shut from 7 PM on Wednesday, until further notice. It was also claimed that action would be taken against those not following the order:

This news was also carried by Firstpost and leftist propaganda blog Scroll, which claimed that these establishments have decided to remain shut from 7 PM. Though it wasn’t clear whether it was due to any administrative order:

After such reports started circulating in the media, it might have been implied that the situation was worsening in the Gurugram region.

Soon though, the twitter account of Gurugram’s Deputy Commissioner came out to clarify that no order regarding such closures were issued by the district administration:

The tweet claimed that the clarification was being given due to news in this regard circulating in the media. It also claimed that the situation on the ground was now peaceful and that schools, colleges would open from Thursday.

This raises the question as to on what basis the media came out with the aforementioned news, and as to why did it not first confirm it with the district administration before reporting the same.

I saw Padmaavat and I have no idea why Karni Sena is opposing it

*mild spoilers disclaimers apply*

As a movie buff, I generally watch most movies within the first few days of release, and for Padmaavat, I had to see it first day first show, thanks to all the hype and hooplah. Thankfully, there was no presence of Karni Sena or their subsidiaries in my town, but nevertheless there were a few police personnel stationed just outside the cinema hall which almost never happens.

While I was anxious to see the movie, I was also anxious to know what is the Karni Sena protesting about? What parts of the movie could have hurt Rajput pride, to the extent that they resorted to burning vehicles and random vandalism? What aspects of Deepika Padukone’s character as Rani Padmavati made them threaten her? Is all the commotion, senseless agitation & destruction of property using the Rajput card just a political gimmick to grab headlines, to score political brownie points or worse, a tool to promote the movie?

Let me describe my experience of the movie, which may answer some of the above questions.

The movie begins with Alauddin Khilji with an ostrich, asking his uncle for his daughter’s hand in marriage. But on the day of marriage, he ruthlessly kills a confidant who stops him from making out with another woman while his bride Mehrunissa waits outside. He then goes on to kill his uncle ruthlessly to become the Sultan.

Khilji is a beast, a monster who is power-hungry. He is shown as salacious man who eyes and sexually abuses women, but also has a romantic bond with his chief aide and “begum” Malik Kafur, who is a slave brought to him as a present by his now dead uncle. A desperate, loyal, gay servant/confidant played by Jim Sarbh. Khilji’s debauchery is for all to see and there is no doubt over the same. Ranveer Singh has played the demon, the beast to absolute perfection. So yes would you question me for wondering what was all a brouhaha when they said Khilji is being ‘shown in good light’, the movie was a distortion of history etc.?

Then we move to the main heart of the movie: Rawal Ratan Singh and Rani Padmavati. Shahid Kapoor with a restrained performance makes a mark. He plays Rawal Ratan Singh who as the ruler of Mewar, places his people, ethics and valour at the forefront, along with defending Rani Padmavati and her honour. He manages to evoke Rajput pride and honour in every scene he is present in, as seen in his now famous dialogue:

Chinta ko talwar ki nok pe rakhe, woh Rajput … ret ki naav lekar samundar se shart lagaye, woh Rajput … aur jiska sar kate phir bhi dhad dushman se ladta rahe, woh Rajput

Or another one, which stayed with me post the movie:

“Keh dijiye apne Sultan se unke talwaar se zyaada loha hum Suryawanshi Mewadio ke seene mein hai” 

There are many more such dialogues which are odes to Rajputs and their bravery. His indestructible love for Rani Padmavati is one to be remembered. Again I was left wondering, why would any Rajput man have an issue with this?

Now onto Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati who has been at the receiving end of threats by the Karni Sena goons. Let me say: SHAME ON THEM.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone have absolutely honoured Rani Padmavati. She is stellar, whose grace, ethereal beauty and valour all shone bright! She is depicted as a strategically thinking woman who respects Rajput culture and tradition and carries it forward. Deepika has managed to embody the character – the beauty and courage of Rani Padmavati. This is a wonderful example for today’s youth to know about Rajput women and their sacrifices.

Further, some “reviews” say that by the end of the movie, a viewer almost feels sorry for Khilji. This issue was raised by some who sympathize with the Karni Sena’s objection as an example of how Khilji was shown ‘good light’. As a viewer, I did not feel the slightest pity for Khilji. His character is such that it is very hard to empathize with him at any level. I would rather question the viewer who feels pity for such a barbaric villain.

Every scene, every other dialogue, every other frame is a shout out to Rajput heroic history. It is perfect balance between Rajput honor and bravery on one side, and a menacing, lecherous, power-hungry Alauddin Khilji on the other, set amidst jaw-dropping sets, spectacular costumes and top-notch background score.

So let me tell you Rajputs who were carried away by the Sena drama: Rani Padmavati’s dignity or history is not trampled upon. Nothing in it would or should be offending any of our sensibilities. As a movie goer, the movie is flawed in some aspects but from Rajput aan bhaan shaan point of view, surely there are no complaints.

Gurugram Police arrest 13 for school bus attack

school bus under attack in Haryana

A day after the disturbing news of a school bus being attacked by goons drew outrage and condemnations from all over, Gurugram police have arrested 13 people for it.

Yesterday on 24 January a school bus from GD Goenka World School was attacked by the goons protesting over the Padmaavat movie. According to a report, the bus was carrying about 60 school children and some teachers. Several goons allegedly belonging to the Rajput fringe group Karni Sena were already torching state-owned buses of Haryana Roadways near Bhondsi when the bus passed through the area and they soon attacked the school bus as well.

The goons threw stones and hurled sticks at the bus causing severe damage to the vehicle. A video emerged later in which terrified school children and their teachers were seen ducking under seat.

Several prominent personalities expressed their anger over the incident and blamed the state government for failing to maintain law and order situation.

A Twitter user posted an image of a screenshot where the Gurugram Police has denied the incident.

However The Gurugram Police soon issued a clarification and stated that 13 people have been arrested for involvement in the incident.

The movie has released country wide today and it remains to be seen if these protesters are reigned in by the authorities.

Baijayant Panda suspended from BJD, what lies ahead for him

Baijayant Panda quits BJD. Slams the party in resignation letter

The evident eventuality has happened in Odisha politics. Jay Panda has been suspended from BJD’s primary membership as announced in a press meet by party spokesperson and vice president Surya Narayan Patro, late in the evening on 24th January. It was only couple of weeks back that party supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik hinted at disciplinary action. Hence this suspension comes as little or no surprise.

In its press release, BJD has put forward its reasoning on the suspension:

BJD’s press release on Jay Panda’s suspension

It’s interesting to note that the press release starts with naming Panda as Vice Chairman of IMFA (Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys). The party then alleges that Panda was involved in anti-party activities. Panda has been quite vocal in appreciating some of the policy decision of centre and clearly party leadership has not taken it lightly. BJD also contends that during the panchayat elections where BJD got a drubbing, Panda didn’t campaign for party candidates, he in fact supported opposition candidates.

What is rather amusing to note is, BJD cites a very unusual reason for the alleged anti-party activities of Panda. Panda seems to have requested the party to make him a member of Standing Committee of Finance in Parliament and he claimed to have enough clout to lobby for becoming the Chairman. As he himself is an industrialist, BJD saw this as a conflict of interest and denied this request. As per BJD’s official press release, this is the reason which started his periodic rumblings of discontent.

However, his official position in IMFA, his annual remuneration in IMFA & IMFA’s loan waiver etc. seem unnecessary and disconnected with his suspension. Hence the mention of these smacks of a personal vendetta rather than a valid motive.

The suspension follows closely allegations against Panda that he did not ‘consult’ party members before deciding to spend funds allocated for his parliamentary constituency. Panda had rubbished these allegations but the party decided to ‘investigate’.

BJD had engaged its Kendrapara district observer Smt Pramila Mallick, incidentally an accused in Dal Scam during BJD’s rule in 2011, and Cuttack district observer Smt Usha Devi to probe the allegations brought against Panda by various party cadres.

Pramila Mallick had a phone conversation where Panda refuted the allegations. It is not clear if Usha Devi met Panda or not but submitted her report on 23rd Jan. BJD has not made any of these reports public though the set of events hint at an adverse report.

Suspending founding and senior members is not new to BJD and in fact is a routine affair. It is believed that Naveen Patnaik doesn’t like senior members to grow in stature and has learned the art of cutting them to size in time, lest they outgrow him.

Senior members who were very close to Biju Patnaik and helped Naveen Patnaik to bring BJD into being have all been suspended from BJD, Panda probably being the last one. Dilip Ray, Bijaya Mahapatra and Late Nalini Mohanty were expelled from BJD long back. While Late Shri Nalini Mohanty had joined Congress, Dilip Ray and Bijaya Mahapatra are currently in BJP with Ray being the incumbent MLA of Rourkela on a BJP ticket.

Very recently, another founding member Dr. Damodar Rout was first suspended from cabinet and from party’s Vice President position later on. It will be worthwhile to note that, even Dr. Rout referring to the personal secretary to Naveen Patnaik had quipped that, “3rd floor (CMO in Odisha secretariat) is definitely putting pressure on party members”. He went onto say that there should not be a second power center within the party.

Last year, Panda, without naming IAS officer Pandian, had hinted on multiple occasion that the said officer had assumed unfathomable clout within party politics crossing his “Lakshman rekha“. IAS officers running the state is not a new phenomenon either. During his tenure, chief secretary Bijay Patnaik wielded immense authority. Former chief secretary and close aide of Naveen Patnaik Late Shri Pyari Mohan Mohapatra was expelled from party following his attempted coup when Naveen was in London. Pyari was so powerful during his tenure in the party that, his residence was nicknamed Sahid Nagar Power Centre as every file had to pass through his residence at Sahid Nagar, an upscale locality in Bhubaneswar. The industrialists had to make a beeline at his residence to get their projects approved.

Essentially, this suspension could be a result of either babu-politician nexus in state politics or insecurity of Naveen Patnaik.

Panda has expressed his shock and dejection at the suspension and has denied all charges against him as false and baseless.

The suspension has generated widespread reaction in Odisha political quarters. While BJP leaders are heaving praises on Panda, Congress leader Ganeswar Behera who also hails from Kendrapara and has seen Panda’s work from close quarter, terms this unfortunate and a loss to BJD. BJP senior leader Biswabhusan Harichandan has described the suspension as “Cheap Mentality” of BJD. He has, on record, submitted that BJP will surely consider Panda’s induction, if Panda shows interest.

Post this suspension, Odisha politics in general and Kendrapara politics in particular is going to be very interesting. It is almost a no brainer that Panda will not jump ships right now. Anti-defection law mandates a by-election if a sitting MP or MLA resigns from party (he has been suspended, not expelled thus he can’t join another party yet) and neither BJD nor BJP want an election right now.

What remains to be seen is, whom will BJD chose to take on Panda, if he decides to contest from BJP party ticket from Kendrapara in 2019. Former party senior member Bijaya Mahapatra, who had defected to BJP, has been expelled from BJP’s district committee and has dropped enough hints that he may rejoin BJD. He is a senior and popular leader in Kendrapara area. The other name that comes to fore is Atanu Sabyasachi, but his clout is limited to Mahanga and Mahakalapada area. Another senior party leader from BJD, Pratap Singh Deb, who also hails from a royal family in Kendrapara, has already been nominated as Rajya Sabha member.

Though Panda enjoys popular support in Kendrapara, his volunteer base is no match to BJD’s. The contest is surely going to hot up the political climate in Kendrapara.

Another equation that can’t be discounted is, in Panda BJP may have finally found a credible face for its CM candidate to counter the TINA factor which is believed to have given Naveen an edge in Odisha electoral politics. Where does it leave Dharmendra Pradhan then? Though BJP is not known to give top posts to new joiners, this will be an interesting situation where BJP needs a face. Well these are all speculation right now but definitely something to look forward to as things evolve.

One only hopes that the people of Kendrapara and Odisha get a good deal from this competitive politics and their aspirations are fulfilled.

Arnab shows BJP leader his own sting on Karni Sena violence on live TV

In a one of a kind spectacle, Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami invited BJP leader and chief whip in Maharashtra Assembly Raj Purohit on his show and proceeded to show him his own sting live on TV which was shot earlier that day. The sting was on the violence carried out by Karni Sena in some states to oppose the film Padmavat. Purohit was not informed about the same and presumable had come on the show as a regular guest in one of the debates.

In his sting, Purohit is seen to have said that the issue is not the film, but it has now become political. He says the government is in no mood to hurt them (Karni Sena), especially till the elections in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are concluded. In another part of the sting, Purohit is seen to be admitting that Karni Sena is doing the violence for ‘politics’ and even hints at an ‘economic leverage’. He says when emotional outbreak happens, all “reasonability” is lost. He further states how the communities are fighting on caste lines to establish some sort of economic leverage, which could be taken with the help of politics.

While Karni Sena may be supporting Congress, there is no political party which seems to be in mood to take a firm stand against the Karni Sena because no one wants to risk alienating them and possibly the Rajput community, for their own political gains.

Amidst all this, the fact that Arnab brought the BJP leader they had stung and show him his own sting live on TV is commendable. In fact, the part where he even thanks Purohit for coming to his show to watch his sting had people in splits. Quite a show, coming from someone whose channel is regularly branded as “North Korean TV” and he is condescendingly referred to as PM Modi’s ‘lapdog’ by many in his own fraternity.

Meanwhile, Purohit, in his defence, has said the BJP does not support the violence. It has, and will continue to work for Vikas.

Delhi High Court refuses to stay disqualification of AAP MLAs, next hearing on January 29

AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal

The Delhi High Court today has refused to stay order on the disqualification of 20 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party after a petition was filed by 8 of the disqualified MLAs challenging the Center’s notification on the issue. However, the Court has restrained the Election Commission from announcing the dates of by-polls till January 29, the next date of the hearing.

Senior Advocate K V Vishwanathan, appearing for 5 of the MLAs requested the Court to at least withhold the by-elections even if it did not stay the Center’s notification. The 20 AAP MLAs were disqualified after Advocate Prashant Patel had filed a PIL against the MLAs for holding the office of profit of parliamentary secretaries.

The Aam Aadmi Party may have more trouble coming its way as 17 more of MLAs could face disqualification for holding offices of profit. But, as has become the norm, Arvind Kejriwal’s party has alleged political vendetta against them by the BJP. Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, in an open letter addressed to the people of Delhi, called the disqualification “BJP’s dirty politics.”

However, in resigned acceptance perhaps, Manish Sisodia has stated that although he doesn’t believe a by-election will be “imposed” on Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party is always “election ready” and the BJP will “find it difficult to go out and ask for votes.”

‘For Karnataka, Congress’ game is going to be ten times dirtier as compared to Gujarat’ – Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, panel discussion on Decoding Net Neutrality, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Express Photo By Amit Mehra 22 April 2015

With BJPs unbridled electoral march, post Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh the battle seems to be far from over. Two states that seem to be an uphill task for BJP are that of Karnataka and Kerala. While there is time for Kerala elections, Karnataka goes to poll in 2018. Politically, the two southern states have many things common. Both are ruled by non-BJP/NDA dispensations, Congress in Karnataka and the CPI(M) led LDF in Kerala and both the state governments are knee-deep in corruption and mal-governance.

The National Media is generally apathetic towards the plight of the southern states and the coverage it gets stands at a bare minimum. With corruption, minority appeasement and political goondaism rampant in the region, BJP and its allies have already started mounting quite the battle. The CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government has completely failed to maintain the law and order in the state and anti-social social elements are given a free hand to politically intimidate the voices which are exposing the corruption of the Government and its ministers.

One prominent politician who has been fighting an uphill battle against the political dispensations in Kerala and Karnataka, is Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar and the recent attack of a resort by the members of CPI(M)’s youth wing is an example of how they government there tried to intimidate MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar by targeting companies linked to him.

It first began by targeting and threatening a news channel which is known for its coverage of corruption and mal-governance of the ruling CPI(M) Government. Later when they realized that the intimidation attempt has failed, they targeted a company which is linked to MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

It is said that this attack was a deliberate effort to distract public attention from the recent embarrassment faced by the Government due to the alleged encroachment of public land by a sitting minister. Further, CM Pinarayi Vijayan Government’s track record on corruption and Governance has led to the resignation of 3 ministers in a span of less than 2 years. The Kerala government is allegedly complicit in violations of environmental laws with other private encroachers in Munnar which is part of ecologically sensitive Western Ghats. MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar has filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the land grabbing.

In Karnataka too, Mr.  Rajeev Chandrasekhar has espoused some of the larger causes pertaining to transparency in governance. He has been in the forefront of the agitation against the non-transparent methodologies adopted by the present State government in the form of issuing contracts pertaining to the mega 6.9 km Steel Flyover project between Basaveshwara Circle and Hebbal. Mr. Chandrasekhar’s efforts in litigating against such environmental disaster and non-transparent methodology, led to the National Green Tribunal restraining the government from proceeding with the project, which ultimately led to loss of face for the government and the project was called off.

Mr. Chandrasekhar has also been in the forefront of public interest litigations for recovering public lands (revenue and forest) from the clutches of the powerful land grabbers. These litigations led to, more than 1.5 lakh acres of public lands being recovered from the powerful individuals including politicians.

His public interest litigations also led to successfully preventing the present Congress government from regularizing unauthorized constructions by errant developers, through the mechanism of Akrama-Sakrama.  He has steadfastly fought for transparency in governance, which has not been palatable to those in power in the State.

While in Kerala his property was vandalised, in Karnataka, the opposition has mounted a fierce disinformation campaign against him. In fact, recently a veiled threat of sorts was also issued against Mr. Chandrasekhar.

I spoke to him to get a sense of politics in the two states and his role in the slow but steady rise of NDA.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s views on the recent caste politics that is being propagated by Congress and what might its implications be in the state of Karnataka.

He said he had predicted this many months ago that in the absence of any aspirational plans for the people of the country and even states, they (the Congress party) will dig deep into their own history and come up with the same plan that they have been propagating for so long, “which is divide, divide, divide”, and Siddharamaiah is a master of that. His entire politics is predicated on dividing the people.

Whether Siddharamaiah giving 31,000 laptops to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes is a precursor to how he plans to fashion his campaign around caste.

Chandrashekhar said that all along, Mr. Siddharamaiah’s politics has been this. He thinks that the OBCs, SCs, STs, Christians and Muslims are his vote bank, and as long as he keeps pandering to the vote bank, his political victory is ensured. He also added that it’s not like this is a novel idea that Karnataka CM has come up with, but this is basically what the Congress party has been doing for the past 6 decades. They play on people’s insecurities, amplify that insecurity, and then pretend like they are the messiah who will protect them from that insecurity. This is unfortunately what the minorities and many other communities have fallen prey to. They create a narrative that makes people paranoid, and then they step into that vacuum and claim that they are the ones who will protect the very people whose insecurities they amplified.

On whether his personal approach would revolve around providing solutions and development to the ones who had been, as he put it, fallen prey to Congress’ divisive agenda. 

He said his political assessment is that every Indian, belonging to any caste or creed, wants a future which is safe and they want an equitable piece of the growing economic pie. The media keeps talking about growth, development and prosperity, and that is what every individual wants for themselves and their family. So at the end of the day, these silos that political parties put people in, whether it’s the SC silo, or Dalit silo, or Muslim silo, doesn’t guarantee that these silos will get people what they are aspiring for. The only way is to agree to a common set of rules and goals. He gave the example of former judge, KT Thomas who said that after the Constitution, it is the Army and RSS that keep Indians safe. And this is also why he himself started supporting the then Chief Minister and now Prime Minister Modi. He is also spoke of how KT Thomas said minorities have no problems in the country, as far as security and growth is concerned, but there is trouble only when they get more than what they are entitled to.

He said people in Karnataka, and more specifically Bengaluru, people are frustrated about failure of governance and failure in the sense that citizens, who are the primary stakeholders of any city, are completely ignored and a few vested interests are driving the direction in which the city is going. Bengaluru is an old city with an illustrious culture and heritage, and it is not a city that will roll over and say that they are willing to give up their heritage for a few people who would like to make big money by encroaching on land and the likes.

His views about the growing political violence in Kerala and the growing echo that not much is being done about it.

He said when political factions resort to such violence and intimidation, it is always because they don’t have any other alternative and are losing ground. When he was sent to Kerala for the last one year and he has been outing their corruption and violence, their response was essentially to turn up the violence. The politics of the left in Kerala is 65 years old, and NDA has gone from a 7% voteshare to a 15% voteshare. Now, any upswing in NDA’s voteshare, comes from the Left’s existing voteshare, and the left doesn’t have any aspirational propositions for the people, so their violence is aimed at retaining their existing cadre by intimidating them.

In Karnataka, the nexus between the political class and criminal elements should not be underestimated.

In connection with political violence and killing of karyakartas in the states, Mr. Chandrasekhar said that while he is no Mahatma Gandhi, but we have the tool of law with which such violent elements should be relentlessly prosecuted. He said that people must ask why the 6 pending cases are taking so long to reach its logical conclusion. The angst of the people is legitimate and the focus should be asking the state government to prosecute swiftly. He said that it should be our demand that outfits such as DYFI need to be banned.

His views on what NDA’s strategy should be considering that in Gujarat, Congress was the challenger and they adopted the divisive strategy, whereas in Karnataka, BJP is the challenger.

He said the NDA should go to the people with a clear communication strategy and expose the Congress strategy for what it is – divisive and hate mongering. Tell the people that BJP is offering transparency, clean governance, and equitable growth. He said these divisive elements can only thrive if BJP doesn’t go to the people and communicate what BJP stands for, thereby creating a vacuum. The BJP needs to start talking to the first time voters because they are the greatest beneficiaries of “new India”. Per him, there is no difference between the rural youth and urban youth. The aspirations have long been equalised. The world view of a 19 year old is going to be very similar. The rural population might fall for rabble rousing, as they did in Gujarat, is because the BJPs message might not be reaching in areas where elements divisive elements go and do their rabble rousing.

Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that Karnataka Elections is a do or die the situation for Congress. If they are ousted out of Congress, they will disappear from South India as well. He said if it is believed that Congress pull out dirty tricks in Gujarat, for Karnataka their dirty tricks are going to amplify to the power of ten. Their survival is predicated on this one state and they will do everything they can to win. Their game will be ten times dirtier than Gujarat. The Congress will only stoke caste fires and play their divisive politics till 201

Critics say that this ‘Vikaas’ approach worked in 2014, but now the youth couldn’t see the development in tangible measures. 

To this Mr. Chandrashekhar said that there is indeed one mistake that the government has made. In 2015, when he was too low in the pays scale for anyone to pay heed to his words, he had suggested that the government brings out a white paper about the state of the economy. The people of India should have been informed about how low we can slipped and the struggle to climb out of that deep hole has taken us three years. It is only now, in the next few years, can be truly start consolidating and trying to create an upside. He said we can’t come up with a white paper now, but this story is worth repeating. How the country climbed out of the hole, and how it’s now on the path to development.

Congress party saved a corrupt Judge in 1993, and is trying to malign an honest one in 2018

The Congress party has damaged the judiciary on several occasions in the past. It began with Indira Gandhi’s demand for a committed judiciary. She had elevated Justice AN Ray as CJI without respecting the seniority principle in 1973. While placing politics over national interest, Congress party had abstained in a motion to impeach a judge found guilty of corruption in 1993.

Congress abstains from voting during Justice Ramaswami’s impeachment

The first judge against whom an impeachment motion was initiated, was Justice V Ramaswami, a judge in the Supreme Court of India. In 1990, a scandal regarding his extravagant expenditure of public funds had surfaced. The impeachment motion was accepted in March 1991. The independent committee constituted to investigate him found him guilty. The committee consisting of Justice PB Sawant, in its report said :

“guilty of willful and gross misuse of office, purposeful and persistent negligence in the discharge of duties, intentional and habitual extravagance at the cost of the public exchequer, moral turpitude by using public funds for private purposes in diverse ways and reckless disregard of statutory rules and brings disrepute to the high judicial office and dishonor to the institution of the judiciary and undermines the faith and confidence which the public reposes in the administration of justice”

Removal motion was moved in the Parliament in May 1993. 196 MPs of the opposition voted for removal of the guilty judge. But the Congress party, which had 205 members in the house abstained. The lawyer who defended the guilty judge was none other than Kapil Sibal. At that time, the Prime Minister was Narasimha Rao and the Lok Sabha speaker was Rabi Ray.

Congress trying to malign CJI while providing tacit support to left parties

The Congress party had no problem when D Raja of the CPI met Justice Chelameshwar. When Principle secretary to the PM met CJI Dipak Misra, the Congress spokesperson said that the ‘PM must answer the reason for sending this special messenger to Chief Justice of India.’

The Congress party and its president Rahul Gandhi had been sympathetic to revolting justices as they had used a political tone supporting the ‘democracy in danger’ propaganda. Rahul Gandhi had said : “They (the judges) mentioned that there is a threat to democracy. It needs to be looked into carefully.” This indicates , the party is striving hard to maintain a clean image while maligning CJI Misra implicitly.

Left parties initiate ‘discussion’ with left parties on impeaching CJI

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said that he was in talks to move impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra. Yechury has been fighting hard within his party for an open alliance with the Congress.

Since minimum of 50 members are enough to initiate impeachment proceeding in Rajya Sabha the opposition parties may succeed in bringing the proceedings to the house. The next step will be the constitution of a three member committee to investigate the charges. If that happens, the report of the committee will be placed before both the houses for voting. 2/3rd majority in both houses for voting would be required.

Will better sense prevail over Congress?

Congress party has often been accused of assisting corrupt officials and businessmen. In the case of Justice V Ramaswami, it also gained the dubious distinction of tacitly supporting a corrupt judge as well. It may now play the role in undermining the office of an honest Chief Justice of India along with the left parties.

Since the crucial Ram Mandir case is listed for hearing in February, the Congress may try to achieve its political objectives by trying to defame the institution that will pass verdict on the issue. This time it might be conspiring with the left parties in this endeavor.Will better sense prevail over the Congress? We need to wait and watch.

Facebook fails to act against a page targeting popular right-wing columnist

Facebook claims to be neutral as far as community standards are concerned. But it seems to be selectively ignorant to the requests of right-wing figures while going soft on the leftist narratives on its social media platform. Worse still, it doesn’t consider an instance of a distortion and manipulation as violation of its community standards.

This was highlighted when it refused to pull down a post by a page called ‘Voice of South India’ that shared a distorted tweet of Shefali Vaidya, a columnist and a popular right wing blogger. Her original tweet, which was distorted by the said Facebook page, had made a sarcastic remark targeting people who blame RSS of indulging in criminal acts without proof:

The above original tweet was juxtaposed with an unrelated tweet to present a completely false picture, and the same distorted image was shared by the page:

Shefali Vaidya though has been a regular target. Her profile was once blocked when she shared a donation appeal to Civil Liberties group. She has also been targetted by the Congress IT Cell and other anonymous trolls.

In the current case, though it is a misleading post that can potentially create social disharmony, Facebook refused to pull down the page. In its response it said “though it doesn’t go against one of  our specific community standards, we understand that it may still be offensive to you and others.’

Abhinav Agarwal, who had reported the violation by the page, expressed his shock for Facebook tolerating fake news on its platform:

Fake news carrying photo-shopped images can wreak havoc as it has wide public reach. These shocking episodes highlight the need for better community standards policy and monitoring on Facebook in future.

While Facebook did not act, the concerned page later “apologized” to Vaidya for posting a “photoshopped/fake image” after the incident drew flak on social media. However they have not deleted the post, and claim that Facebook is not allowing them to delete:

Whether or not this is a sincere apology, the damage was already done. The fake image has gone viral already and tarnished the image of Vaidya.

Chinese angry with Muslim girl who lied about her Hijab being cut in Canada

The liberal haven Canada is facing protests by angry Chinese community after the ‘Hijab Hoax’ was called out. On 12th January, an 11 years old Canadian Muslim girl Khawlah Noman, held a press conference in her school claiming that an Asian man had ‘pulled off her jacket hood and started cutting off the bottom of her hijab’.

Support for her started rallying around and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who condemned the said attack as ‘cowardly’ and said how such attacks will not be tolerated.

However, investigation by the Canadian Police reveal that the incident didn’t happen and the girl had made the story up. The police had initially announced and started the investigation as a ‘hate crime’ but now that the truth has come out, the Asian community in Canada is outraged.

Terming the incident as ‘vile’, Jenny Wong, a Chinese Canadian called the allegations by the girl as a ‘humiliation to Asian community’. In the North American countries, the term ‘Asian’ is usually referred to people of East and Far East Asian roots, especially Chinese and Korean.

Referring to themselves as ‘easy targets’ Wong said she will join a rally ‘Hoax Today, Horror Tomorrow’ demanding an apology from the girl, the Canadian government for the ‘political terror attack’. Many found fault with Justin Trudeau for giving credence to the hoax by apologizing.

Chinese in Canada protest
Protesters slammed Justin Trudeau for his ‘mistake’

The fear of the Chinese community may not be totally unfounded. There have been reports of China coming down with restrictions on Muslims, like banning Muslim children from attending Quran classes and banning religious names for Muslim babies. China has also banned fasting during Ramzan to ‘ensure social peace and harmony’.

Perhaps because of these restrictions in China, the Chinese abroad may be fearing being branded as anti-Muslims and hence could have been target of attacks by radical Muslims.

Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee says that ‘Karat lobby’ is controlling CPI(M)

The grave crisis in CPI(M) has attracted the attention of political observers. The party has been struggling because of an internal fight between Prakash Karat and current general secretary Sitaram Yechury. Yechury supported open alliance with Congress to keep BJP at bay. But Karat has openly opposed this strategy while accepting the goal of defeating BJP. This opposition led to a vote over the issue, which exposed factionalism within the CPI(M).

The result of the vote over this difference has established the fact that Karat holds sway over the CPIM polit bureau (highest decision making body of the CPIM ). It has also attracted comments of Somnath Chatterjee, former speaker of Lok Sabha. Mr Chatterjee said that ‘left parties were getting weaker and weaker even in West Bengal’ He also added that Prakash Karat ‘lobby’ controlling the party was not good for future.

It remains to be seen as to how this rivalry will play out in the party congress to be held in Hyderabad during the month of April. Will the Left parties vanish into oblivion due to infighting or reunite after the bitter fight over political differences? We will have to wait and watch.

Saudi Arabia disqualifies camels from beauty contest as they were caught using Botox

Saudi Arabia annually hosts the prestigious King Abdulaziz Camel Festival to determine who is the most beautiful camel in the land. The contest commands a total prize money of $57 million out of which $30 million goes to the winning Miss Camel.

This competition hosted on the outskirts of Riyadh, is pretty popular with the locals, with it seeing a footfall of 3 lakh people, which is 30% more than last year.

Here are some pictures of the event:

Image via The Hindu
Image via Metro

As per the contest’s chief judge, the camel is a symbol of Saudi Arabia and now is preserved as a pastime. In this month long festival, the camels are judged on the basis of their size of lips, cheeks, heads and knees.

The contest also maintains a strict regulations code which means the camels cannot have drugs in their lips, cannot be shaved or dyed in any part of the body. It also needs to be ensured that the natural form of the camels isn’t changed.

But with such a heavy prize money at stake, some people decided to cut corners, and as a result, 12 camels have been disqualified from the contest for being injected with Botox.

Botox which is basically a neurotoxin named botulinum toxin which is manufactured via a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. As part of a cosmetic treatment, it is used to reduce fine lines and wrinkles on the face.

As per a regular at the camel festival, the camel handlers use Botox for the upper, lower lips, nose and the jaw of the camel. The head of the camel as a result becomes inflated because of the Botox, which is a desirable quality while judging the contestants. Apart from the face, the camel’s height, shape and hump placement are also considered important factors.

Cheating is apparently so prevalent in this competition that a day before the start of the tournament, a veterinarian was caught performing plastic surgery on some camels.

Blow to Shekhar Gupta as judiciary convicts ‘upper caste’ Mishra along with Lalu

Last month, in one of the various cases related to the infamous Fodder Scam of Bihar (the then undivided state of Bihar that included Jharkhand too), former Chief Minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav was convicted but another former CM Jagannath Mishra was acquitted.

This had led to senior journalist Shekhar Gupta claiming ‘casteism’ and he tried to insinuate a “caste bias” in the judiciary, because Mishra, an upper caste Brahmin, was let off and a ‘lower caste’ Yadav was convicted. Gupta’s tweet containing this ‘conspiracy theory’ was shared by Lalu himself back then, even as many people tried to reason how both of them were wrong.

Today, the judiciary also proved them wrong as a special CBI Court in Ranchi found both Jagannath Mishra and Lalu Prasad Yadav guilty in another case related to the Fodder scam, the Chaibasa Treasury case. No special treatment was meted out to the ‘upper caste’ Mishra:

On expected lines, Shekhar Gupta maintained strategic silence on his Twitter page unlike last month, when he was actively promoting his ‘caste bias in judiciary’ theory. As a result, Lalu Prasad Yadav, whose Twitter account is being operated by his ‘office’ these days, too couldn’t get any conspiracy theory to share.

However, Tejaswi Yadav, son of Lalu Prasad Yadav, decided not to depend on Shekhar Gupta alone, and went ahead with a new conspiracy theory. Tejaswi alleged that BJP, RSS and Nitish Kumar had hatched a conspiracy against Lalu. He further said that there will be an appeal in the higher courts against today’s order.

Bihar BJP’s leader Sushil Modi termed Tejaswi’s allegations “unfortunate” but not unexpected.

Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jagannath Mishra, both, have been sentenced to 5 years in prison by the Ranchi Court. They have also been fined Rs. 5 lakh each for their involvement in the scam. Lalu Yadav is already in jail following last month’s verdict.

Judging from Tejashwi Yadav’s comments after his father’s latest conviction, it is to be expected that the party will adopt the same strategy to deflect attention from Lalu Prasad Yadav’s involvement in corruption, though this time they may miss the support of senior journalists like Shekhar Gupta.

Kerala Government issues circular against RSS chief for Republic Day, sparks controversy

In a new circular ahead of Republic Day, the Kerala Government has declared that only head of departments at various public offices, schools and colleges in the state can hoist the National Flag on Republic Day. The diktat comes after the controversy last year, when RSS Chief Mohan Singh Bhagwat, had defied orders from the state government and hoisted the Tricolour at a public school on Republic Day.

Bhagwat is expected to hoist the flag at Sangh-run Bharatiya Vidya Niketan in Kallekadu this year. However, he is also scheduled to hoist the National Flag at a school in Palakkad.

When questioned about the move, Dr Dinesh Varshney, CPI leader said, “If hoisting is allowed for everybody, it may be misused.” BJP Party spokesperson had called the move, “utter nonsense”.

There is a history of conflict between the Left parties in Kerala and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. With tacit approval from the liberal establishment, communists under the Pinarayi Vijayan led government have become emboldened in their persecution of the Sangh karyakartas in recent years. RSS workers are regularly murdered by communists. In such a scenario, with the law and order situation going from bad to worse, the latest circular by the Kerala government appears to be an act of vendetta against a political opponent.

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