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Opposition is making India a candidate for colonisation

There is an urgent need for the Opposition to hyphenate politics and national interest. If the Opposition is going to condone issues based on politics, of course the world would like to believe we are a fragile country.

Sunja Kapoor

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After Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office, the Opposition has strayed in its vision and frayed in its mission. As I write, the principal Opposition party in India is struggling to keep its identity intact. After being in power for a cumulative time period of more than six decades, the Congress abhors the idea of being in Opposition despite the hooks and crooks it has resorted to. There is a high chance that the third time won’t be a charm for the Opposition in 2024 either. Counter-intuitive to the word “Opposition”, a credible, committed and dependable Opposition is imperative for democracies to be in the pink of health. India is constantly wrestling with forces, external and internal, that are working against the interest of the country. In order to defend the integrity and sovereignty of India, it is a matter of fact that the political forces will have to work in unison and have the maturity to keep their binary differences aside when the crisis is perpetuated by anti-India forces.

A divided house is vulnerable and its populace is impressionable.

Be it the recent commentary on Facebook by Wall Street Journal, vilification of India’s Prime Minister by the Time magazine, opinions sans facts carried by Washington Post, biased calculus of social fabric indicators by USCIRF or organisations like Amnesty: They have taken a consistent anti-India position post 2014. Without impinging their editorial freedom, it is a matter of serious concern if foreign media and the political Opposition are in perfect symphony.

The Opposition needs to take its job seriously and not behave like a petulant brat who is on a fault-finding mission just so that he can abdicate his own responsibility and go unnoticed. Unfortunately, the Congress, the only party in the Opposition that has significant contacts in the foreign media, is oblivious to the impact its drivel has on India’s global position.

For example, when Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, insinuated on the floor of the House that Article 370 is bilateral and not an internal matter of India, he gave a handle to the foreign forces eager to indict India. Abrogation of Article 370 was a matter that could have certainly invited internal debate; but to throw it out of India’s purview of jurisdiction is worse than those who cited reasons otherwise. It is impossible to carry forward India’s story if it is going to be smeared by its own leaders.

In 2003, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not keen to send Indian troops to Iraq under pressure from the US. He invited CPM leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet and CPI leader A.B. Bardhan for tea, and asked them if India should send troops to Iran. When the two leaders answered in negative, the PM quipped, saying why they’re not protesting enough. Leaders took the cue. Protests followed the subsequent day and the government made a case for not sending the troops. This is a classic example of how the Opposition can help the government wade through external issues and yet oppose their policies back home.

On 14 February 2019 when India’s men in uniform were brutally murdered by a suicide bomber in Pulwama, around 48 countries of the world stood with India and unequivocally denied support to terrorism. Apart from Pakistan (where the Jaish-e-Mohammad group which took responsibility for the attack, is based), the only pressure group that did not condemn the attack unconditionally was the Congress. They blamed the Narendra Modi government like a doubting Thomas instead of answering to the call of duty. In an extreme moment of naïve politics, the attack was linked with upcoming elections. Now, if some of the elected countrymen proactively ascribe to conspiracy, it is juvenile to expect antagonists to show restraint. Clearly, the Congress did not realise that in its bid to play high voltage politics, it ended up being a peddler for anti-India forces.

Visuals of Members of the Upper House (Rajya Sabha is associated with innate dignity and intellectual integrity) being marshalled out of the Hall told a tale of eroding grandeur that once the House boasted of. Protest is a legitimate form of Opposition in a democracy; however, there is a very thick line between protest and hooliganism. It is scary to even imagine the messaging these visuals would carry from the world’s largest democracy. Right from burning the national capital while the country hosted US President Donald Trump to now parliamentarians behaving like a violent mob, there is little that is left for the world to imagine before it drubs us yet again as a country failing to operate as a civilised federation.

Every time the Opposition questions the validity of the judiciary by suggesting collusion with power and interference, they are supporting anti-India forces which have been trying for decades to declare India as a weak democracy. Starting point of colonisation begins with making a case that the territory is unable to get its act together, and therefore unfit to rule by itself. Anti-India forces don’t need to invest in resources anymore to build the anti-India spin when elected representatives are berating their country themselves. In fact, we cannot even accuse them of destabilising the domestic sentiment since it all starts in our own backyard.

Ever since India gained independence, vested interests have interfered and prevented resolution of internal matters of importance. However, these interests could never leverage the existing apertures because the Opposition traditionally took a clear position with respect to influential matters like National security, left-wing extremism, border conflicts, trade, social justice and independence of institutions. For example, while the Congress governments in the past did flirt with the idea of seeking third-party support, the Opposition did not concede. On the contrary, played the part of a “Chowkidar” and guarded the interests of the country.

Today, there is an urgent need for the Opposition to hyphenate politics and national interest. If the Opposition is going to condone issues based on politics, of course the world would like to believe we are a fragile country that rigs elections and exchanges power for perks. Political ideologies warring within the country should never forget that for the world, all of them together represent the critical mass of India.

The writer is an independent policy analyst based in New Delhi. The views expressed are personal.

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UNRULY TOURISTS THRONGING CASINOS AS IF IT WERE A CARNIVAL TIME: GOA BJP MLA

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A ruling BJP legislator in Goa on Tuesday criticised unruly tourists thronging the state’s offshore casinos as if it were a carnival time, thus foregoing social distancing norms and other Covid-related SOPs.

BJP MLA Atanasio Monserrate also expressed concern about increasing number of Covid-19 cases traced to Goa’s offshore casinos, while urging Health Minister Vishwajit Rane to direct his officials to conduct an inspection to see whether SOPs are being followed in the offshore casinos of Goa.

“They (tourists) come here to have fun, but Goans should not be infected by Covid-19 because of this. I will be speaking to the Chief Minister and the Health Minister to see what can be done to check if SOPs are being followed,” Monseratte said, commenting on the large unruly crowds outside the six offshore casinos operating in the Mandovi river off Panaji.

“No one is wearing masks. It is like a carnival. Goans may end up paying dearly for this. Maharashtra has even made testing compulsory for Goans. But here, it is free for all. According to the guidelines, they cannot allow operations like this,” Monserrate said.

Carnival is a popular Catholic event which marks the beginning of the holy lent season. On Monday, after photos of thousands of tourists milling on beaches and outside casinos without masks and in violation of the social distancing norms, were published in the local media, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had announced an increase in penalty for not wearing masks from Rs 100 to Rs 200.

With IANS inputs

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MAHAGATHBANDHAN FIELDS RJD MLA FOR SPEAKER’S POST IN BIHAR

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RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav

The Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in Bihar on Tuesday fielded five-time Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MLA Awadh Bihari Choudhury as its candidate for the post of Assembly Speaker. The election for the Speaker’s post is due on Wednesday.

Choudhury, an MLA from Siwan, is directly pitted against National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee and three-time BJP MLA Vijay Kumar Sinha.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Tuesday said Choudhury has filed his nomination for the Speaker’s post on behalf of the Opposition Grand Alliance. Confident of Choudhury’s victory, he said that the post of Speaker in the Legislative Assembly is an eminent and responsible post held by a leader who can take the ruling party and the Opposition along and listen to the views of all party leaders. The Speaker’s chair must be held by someone who has immense political experience, Tejashwi added.

Asked about seeking support from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Tejashwi said he would appeal to all the Opposition MLAs to vote for a veteran leader as Speaker of the Assembly. The RJD leader said Choudhury became an MLA for the first time in 1985 and has been elected an MLA five times.

Choudhury said the Grand Alliance has nominated him as the candidate for the post of Assembly Speaker. The Siwan MLA assured all the MLAs that if elected as Speaker he would run the House following all rules and perform his task without any prejudice.

Meanwhile NDA candidate Vijay Sinha said that normally the post of Speaker goes to the ruling party as it has the majority in the House. “The post of Speaker is elected with mutual understanding of ruling and opposition parties and it is based on numbers. Our alliance has projected me on the basis of seniority and we are fully confident about it,” Sinha said.

Tarkishore Prasad, the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and BJP leader said: “We have the numbers to elect the Speaker in the House and we will prove our majority. Traditionally, it goes to the ruling alliance.”

Meanwhile, the RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav urged pro-tem Speaker Jitan Ram Manjhi to conduct the oath-taking ceremony of every candidate of his alliance.

Yadav was hinting at Bahubali MLA Anant Singh of the RJD and Amarjeet Kushwaha of the CPI (ML). The former was elected from Mokama and is currently lodged in jail. Kushwaha has been elected from Ziradei and is lodged in Siwan jail. Both of them are facing criminal charges.

The opposition Mahagathbandhan has 110 seats in the Assembly and there is reportedly a big chance of 5 AIMIM, 1 BSP and one independent candidate voting in its favour. The ruling NDA has 125 seats. In such a situation every vote is important for both the sides.

With IANS inputs

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Hold Punjab, Haryana Chief ministers liable for stubble burning: AAP

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Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi Marlena said on Monday that the Environment Committee of the Delhi Assembly, of which she is the chairperson, met the Air Quality Commission and demanded strict action against Punjab and Haryana governments for burning stubble.

She said the commission has been requested to fix the accountability of the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana on the issue of burning stubble and take strict action against them by filing a case.

The AAP leader said the commission has also been requested to order the governments of Punjab and Haryana to resolve the stubble burning issue with bio-decomposer technology.

She said, “We presented the commission with two major agendas. The first is to give orders to the governments of Punjab and Haryana to implement the bio-decomposer developed by the Pusa Research Institute in cooperation with Delhi government with immediate effect. This is an effective as well as an efficient alternative to this problem. Secondly, we have also requested the commission to take stringent action against the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana as they have failed to curb stubble burning. The Air Quality Commission has the power to take legal actions and can order jail term to anyone causing pollution.”

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RJD will hit the streets if NDA doesn’t meet 19L job promise, says Tejashwi

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RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav said in Patna on Monday that his party would hit the streets if the NDA doesn’t meet its poll promise of providing 19 lakh jobs in the next one month.

Tejashwi, reached the Bihar Assembly on day one to take oath as an MLA along with his elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav.

“The Assembly election was fought on the issues of unemployment and corruption. We had promised to provide 10 lakh jobs in the first cabinet meeting. The NDA, in the joint Sankalp Patra, also claimed to provide 19 lakh jobs. Now, they have formed the government in Bihar through conspiracy. As real representatives of people of Bihar, we will not let them go scot-free without implementing their poll promise,” said Tejashwi.

“In the last 15 years, Nitish Kumar has turned into the Bhishma Pitamah of corruption. Around a dozen of his cabinet ministers are either involved in corruption or facing criminal charges. As many as 60 scams took place during his government in last 15 years,” alleged Tejashwi.

“These scams are investigated by many IPS and IAS officers and some of them have written letters to the authorities for proper investigation,” said Tejashwi, alluding to letters written by Amitabh Kumar Das, a retired IPS officer, who has written letters against Mewalal Choudhary and Manju Verma.

“The selection of ministers is the only decision of Chief Minister. Didn’t he know the criminal charges on tainted Mewalal Choudhary? He has been an absconder in the past. The governor of Bihar had sacked him from the post of Bihar Agriculture University Vice chancellor. Still Nitish Kumar gave the important education ministry to him. Now, Nitish Kumar has given the education ministry to Ashok Chaudhary whose wife is involved in multi-crore scam. The CBI had registered a case against her and matter in pending in Supreme Court,” Tejashwi said.

“Over the last few years, Nitish Kumar used to claim that elections were fought on his face. The people of Bihar rejected him in the 2020 assembly election. That’s why his party came at third position. Despite being at third position, he has become CM. They conspired against the RJD in this election, still it became the single-largest party in the assembly with 75 seats and 23.5 percent to votes,” added Tejashwi.

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Former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi shows some improvement but still critical

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The health of former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has slightly improved after deteriorating on Saturday, the Superintendent of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, where he is admitted, said on Sunday. His condition, however, is still critical.

“Last evening former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s health deteriorated so we intubated him, he was critical yesterday. His AGB (arterial blood gas) test and parameters are slightly better today,” hospital Superintendent Dr Abhijit Sarma told ANI here.

Gogoi’s heath had deteriorated on Saturday. He was “critical” and on ventilator support following post-Covid complications. There were also reports that Gogoi is suffering from multi-organ failure.’

The 86-year-old Congress leader had become “completely unconscious” on Saturday afternoon after difficulty in breathing, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. He also suffered multiple organ failure, the minister confirmed.

Since Saturday, Gogoi has been on mechanical life support at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, where a team of doctors is monitoring his health and efforts are being made to revive his organs with medicines and dialysis.

The GMCH doctors are in constant touch with experts from Delhi’s premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences who have ruled out the possibility of shifting Gogoi outside the state in this condition.

Tarun Gogoi’s son, Congress leader and MP Gaurav Gogoi, is at the hospital.

The three-time former Assam CM had tested positive for Covid-19 in August. On 26 October, he had thanked the medical team at Guwahati Medical College and Hospital including the specialists, doctors, nurses, staff, for their “excellent care for the past two months” and had said that he looked forward to continuing his recovery at home under medical supervision.

With agency inputs

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Bharti Singh, her husband sent to judicial custody till 4 December

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On Sunday, a court in Mumbai sent comedian Bharti Singh and her husband Haarsh Limbachiyaa to judicial custody till 4 December. The two were arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in connection with the alleged consumption of cannabis.

Before producing the couple in the court, the NCB took them to the hospital for medical examination.

Bharti Singh was held on Saturday while Haarsh Limbachiyaa was arrested a day later on Sunday.

“Charges of consumption of drugs have been invoked against them,” said Sameer Wankhede, Zonal Director of the NCB, Mumbai.

NCB on Saturday raided the production office and house of comedian Bharti Singh and recovered 86.5 grams of ganja (cannabis) from both places.

The NCB had earlier raided a place in Khar Danda area and nabbed a trafficker aged 21 years with various drugs including 15 blots of LSD (commercial quantity), ganja (40 grams), and Nitrazepam (psychotropic medicines). In follow up and in corroboration with previous inputs, the NCB raided the production office and house of comedian Bharti Singh.

This comes as the probe, which began from the drug case in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, continues to expand to the alleged drug abuse by Bollywood celebrities.

Recently, a raid was also conducted at the residence of actor Arjun Rampal, after which he and his girlfriend were summoned by the NCB for questioning in the matter.

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