NATIONAL POLITICS: BJP to review ties today – a mess made by none other than Narendra Modi’s ‘non-secular and parochial’ politics ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
New Delhi, June 20: The BJP brass meets tomorrow to review the party’s relationship with the Janata Dal (United) but senior leaders have ruled out “any response that could precipitate a crisis”.
The BJP is anguished by Nitish Kumar’s provocative move of returning the flood aid sent by the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat. But party leaders argue that a break-up now would “rob us of our most valuable ally” and that “the Congress will get a political bonanza”.
“We have few options whereas Nitish has many. We must express our firm disapproval of such violations of the coalition dharma but must not snap ties,” a senior BJP leader said.
The BJP leadership understands how important the Dal (United) has become to the party’s plans after the parting with Naveen Patnaik. “Coalition-making is the need of the hour. The NDA will lose its significance if the Dal (U) walks out. Although Nitish cannot form the government on his own… he will try to stay afloat by winning over new partners. And if he fails, the Congress will be the ultimate winner,” another leader said.
Bihar allies in patience test – Dal(U) and partner in who-blinks-first match before Assembly polls – and either way, the greater BJP Cause loses out on the National Scene ?!!
BY SANKARSHAN THAKUR
New Delhi, June 20: The crisis in Bihar’s ruling alliance seems to be fast rolling towards the brink with peacekeepers in both camps temporarily shunted to the sidelines of the raging war between chief minister Nitish Kumar and the BJP’s insistent mascot Narendra Modi.
There may yet be a possibility of preventing bitter rupture, but that will have to be on Nitish’s terms: the BJP should make Bihar out of bounds for Modi and behave like an “obedient junior partner” in the state.
Following Nitish’s decision to reject a Rs 5-crore cheque sent — and advertised — by Modi as relief for the Kosi flood victims, top BJP ministers in the Bihar government came under pressure today to pull out of the “vishwas yatra”, Nitish’s pilot pre-election campaign.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Modi, considered a confidant of Nitish’s, was directed not join Nitish’s public meeting at Paliganj, and, later in the day, a similar event in Patna city, the seat of health minister and BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav, had to be scrapped.
Ironically, the trouble brewing in Bihar has barely any local ingredients. Most state BJP leaders enjoy a comfortable compact with Nitish but find themselves looped into a battle whose roots lie in Gujarat.
Party leaders said the BJP had to “respond in some manner to express disapproval” of the way Modi had been “repeatedly insulted” by Nitish. Top Janata Dal (United) ranks in Patna maintained Nitish saw Modi as a “provocative threat” to the survival of the socio-political alliance the chief minister has nursed. In other words, Modi’s presence in Bihar remains a red rag to the Muslim votebase the Dal (United) has painstakingly built.
Officially, neither the Dal (United) nor the BJP was willing to label today’s escalation as inauguration of last rites, but clearly the alliance is in who-blinks-first mode with many on either side willing to dare the other.
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha called Nitish’s decision to return Modi’s relief cheque “childish” and said: “Nitish Kumar seems to have decided he does not want to stay with the BJP, he should say so openly.”
Dal (United) spokesperson Shivanand Tiwary was quick to respond. “It is the BJP leadership which has decided to destabilise this alliance with moves that are now well-known. It has been very clear all the time that we do not want Narendra Modi in Bihar, we think he is detrimental to the alliance, but if the BJP believes otherwise, it is something they have to decide on.”
Each side is drawing the line but neither appears prepared to bear the responsibility for ending the alliance.
Nitish has his eyes set on Assembly elections later this year, and many in his camp believe Modi is out to upset his applecart en route to his own long-term ambitions.
“This is Narendra Modi testing the field for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls,” said a senior Dal (United) leader close to Nitish, “he does not want Nitish as a competitor on the national stage. Besides, by pushing Nitish to the limits, Narendra Modi might also be testing out his future friends and foes in the NDA.”
Top Dal (United) sources in Patna told The Telegraph Nitish had been “disappointed” with the manner in which the BJP leadership has decided to deal with the row over Modi.
“They know the chief minister’s views on the matter but none of the top leadership have bothered to get in touch with him even to discuss the matter, much less resolve it,” said a Dal (United) leader. “Narendra Modi seems to have the blessings of senior leaders like (L.K.) Advani in whatever he does. But in Bihar, we are the senior partners and we have a problem with Narendra Modi.”
Asked if Nitish was prepared to do a Navin Patnaik and make a clean election-eve break with the BJP, Dal (United) sources admitted it would be easier said than done. Caste equations in Bihar are far more complex and fickle. Besides, Patnaik did not have an opponent of the guile and prowess of Lalu Prasad waiting on the sidelines for an opportunity to make a grab at power.
“We ideally want this alliance to continue but it will have to run on the terms it has run so far, not how Narendra Modi wants to twist it to his own purposes. If Narendra Modi is imposed upon Bihar, we will have no option but go our own way,” a source said.
The BJP has its own set of dilemmas to negotiate. When the newly appointed Bihar BJP chief, C.P. Thakur, arrives here tomorrow to discuss the unravelling alliance, party bosses might find themselves confronted with internal rift much before they turn their eyes on Nitish or the Dal (United).
The Bihar BJP remains overwhelmingly pro-alliance and wants it retained at any cost. But whatever their private views, officially the BJP will find it difficult to swallow Nitish’s public slights and reconcile itself to the role of a spanked junior ally.
Besides, there is Modi. The jury is out on whether the leadership can summon the gut to tell him Bihar is out of bounds for him, at least until the elections.
Census cover to keep terrorist slur at bay – the nation’s largest votebank goes uncared for, a new reason for a proper definition of Hindutva ?!!
BY CITHARA PAUL
New Delhi, June 20: Muslim groups are treating Census 2011 with the utmost seriousness, hoping it will shield community members from harassment by police who often falsely brand them Pakistani agents or illegal immigrants.
From the conservative Jamaat Islami and Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind to the “modernist’’ Association of Muslim Professionals, they have all appealed to Muslims to participate in the exercise that will lead to every Indian being handed a unique identity card — “an indirect proof of citizenship”.
The Association of Muslim Professionals has issued guidelines urging Muslim families to carefully provide every detail to the census officials and double-check them. The guidelines are being pasted in mohallas and marketplaces, and are even being read out after the Friday prayers in some areas.
“Muslims have to be extra careful since every Muslim is being looked upon as a potential terrorist,” Farookh Ahmed of Jamiat Ulema said. “If a Muslim fails to get the unique ID, it can make his life really miserable. So we are requesting every Muslim to get themselves registered.”
The guidelines mention the dates on which the census is to be carried out in the various states and Union territories and give detailed advice on how Muslims should go about getting themselves registered by the enumerators.
“A responsible person from every family should write the names of the family members with correct spelling, address and dates of birth on a piece of paper and tell the census officials to register all these details according to it,” the guidelines say.
Explaining the procedure of getting the I-cards, they say: “Each and every household will be given an acknowledgement slip at the time of enumeration which has to be saved carefully for further use.”
The Muslim organisations have also formed volunteer groups that will accompany the enumerators and help the Muslim families provide all the census details, especially the uneducated households. “The important fields to check include spellings, nationality and dates of birth, etc,” the guidelines say.
The guidelines ask families to give clear answers to all the listed questions: “Do not understate or overstate things.”
Households should complain to the district collector if they are overlooked during the census, the guidelines say, adding that backward Muslims should choose the OBC option in the OBC/SC/ST column.
Rail racketeer with six houses – Scam kingpin in net for second time – a legacy of erstwhile Lalu Prasad ?!!
BY G.S. RADHAKRISHNA
Hyderabad, June 20: Last Thursday was not the first time that Arun Kumar Jagannatham, alleged kingpin of the railway recruitment exam scam, was arrested with son Srujan on the charge of selling question papers, his former colleagues said today.
Both father and son had been arrested on the same charge in 1990, when Jagannatham was deputy chief operating manager of South Central Railway, but were let off for apparent want of evidence.
“He was a power broker, a very PR-type character who ingratiated himself with almost every one of his seniors and wangled favours from them left and right,” a former South Central Railway official said.
Over the past two decades, Jagannatham has repeatedly fallen under suspicion in connection with recruitment rackets but could not be prosecuted on criminal charges because of his political links, the official added.
Some of his former colleagues say that in the past 10 years, Jagannatham has bought six flats in Hyderabad and three plots in upscale Jubilee Hills. He is also alleged to have bought several plots in Bangalore and Mysore.
“He may also have purchased some fish tanks and coconut farms in the Krishna and East Godavari districts,” a former railway official said.
He added: “During the recruitment exam for assistant loco pilots in 1990, one of the applicants was caught with a question paper. He said he had bought it from Jagannatham’s son for Rs 10,000. Jagannatham apparently made over Rs 37 lakh from the racket.”
Jagannatham had worked as principal of the zonal railway training institute of South Central Railway and also as the zone’s deputy chief operating manager.
“During both stints, there were several allegations of malpractice against him,” the official said. “But the only punishment the railways could hand him was a transfer to South Eastern Railway with a demotion, thanks to the patronage he enjoyed.”
At the time of his arrest on Thursday, Jagannatham was additional divisional railway manager (Raipur) with South East Central Railway but was working on assignment as chief executive officer of South Central Railway’s Hasan-Mangalore Railway Development Corporation.
CBI sources said they were questioning Jagannatham and evaluating his personal wealth and that of his relatives. At least four members of his family, apart from Jagannatham and his son, are believed to have been involved in the racket and CBI sources said a quarrel among some of them over their share of the spoils had led to the ring being busted.
The CBI has arrested two other railway officials at Raipur — including Sanjay, personal assistant of the divisional railway manager —raising the number of arrests to 10. They have been brought to Hyderabad.