Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Rahul cannot blame media for giving more space to Modi

AK(002)Electioneering for the Lok Sabha elections ended on Friday evening, and the two stalwarts of the Indian political spectrum – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi – addressed press conference almost simultaneously in Delhi.

There is no doubt that Prime Minister Modi exerted his utmost by traversing the length and breadth of India addressing election rallies. BJP, which has been in power at the Centre for the last five years, had been initially on the defensive when the election campaign began, but it goes to the credit of Modi that he single handedly took the fight into the opposition camp and converted this critical challenge into an opportunity.

Modi was at his aggressive best in states like West Bengal, UP, Bihar and Kerala. The entire burden of BJP’s campaign was on Modi’s shoulders, and he made a direct appeal to the voters saying that each vote for BJP would go personally to his account.

On May 19, after the final phase of polling is over, the exit poll results will be out on electronic media. I have the exit poll figures for the first six phases of polling, but Election Commission’s order prohibits telecast of exit poll results before 6.30 pm on May 19.

Both Modi and BJP President Amit Shah have claimed that the party would get a comfortable majority. How far this claim is true, I shall reveal on Sunday evening when the exit poll results will be telecast on India TV.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday did not say how many seats his party will win, but he took potshots at Modi. Rahul said that Modi avoided speaking on issues like Rafale, unemployment and farm distress, but spoke about how to eat mangoes in his interviews. Rahul also blamed the media for not questioning the PM seriously on these issues.

I have a small correction here to make. The interviewer, Akshay Kumar, who asked Modi how he ate mangoes, was not a journalist. He is a Bollywood actor not connected with media. And Media can’t be held responsible for what he asked.

Earlier this month, I had interviewed Prime Minister Modi in front of several thousand viewers in a packed stadium, and asked him questions on all important issues – his foreign policy, on relations with China, on his sudden visit to Lahore, on Balakot air strike, on Rahul’s allegation that he gave away Rs 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani, on Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya.

I also allowed viewers to put questions to the PM. The people of India have a clear understanding about issues and personalities. That is why this mega interview with the PM got historic viewership. Crores of Indians watched this interview on India TV. Hence it was improper on part of Rahul Gandhi to say that the media is not impartial.

Many people who watched the interview with Modi asked me why I did not invite Rahul Gandhi for a similar interview.

Today I want to reveal that for the last five years, I have been sending letters and messages to Rahul Gandhi and his advisers, but he was not ready to face my questions. Neither did he refuse, nor did he give consent to attend my show Aap Ki Adalat.

I have no grievance against Rahul. It is his right to decide whose questions he wants to answer, and whom he wants to avoid. But I am revealing this to all my viewers and fans so that Rahul cannot blame the media for giving more space to Modi. What I personally feel is: Rahul seeks his own comfort zone, and then blames the media for being partial.

Had Rahul accepted my invitation and come to my show and summoned the courage to answer questions, the people of India would have listened to him, he would have got a wider platform and his interview too would have been watched by crores of Indians.

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How Modi has put Mamata on the defensive in Bengal

akbOn the last day of electioneering in violence-prone West Bengal, people at her rally were amused to find Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee chanting Durga Stuti shlokas, Allahu Akbar, God is great and Buddham Sharanam Gachhami, only to underscore the point that she is not appeasing Muslims alone. She was, in other words, projecting her so-called secular credentials.

Mamata Banerjee fears that Bengali Hindus may shy away from voting for Trinamool Congress, given the fact that her police had arrested BJP supporters chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Mamata’s government had also put curbs on Durga idols immersion timings because it had clashed with Mohurram processions. Her government had refused permission for Ram Navami processions.

BJP leaders led by Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath went to town during the election campaign, alleging that Mamata Banerjee was anti-Hindu. Amit Shah even went to the extent of chanting Jai Shri Ram and dared the local police to arrest him. Yogi Adityanath also chanted Jai Shri Ram in all his rallies in Bengal, putting TMC leaders on the backfoot.

BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had been raising the issue of illegal Muslim immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh and have promised to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act which provides for granting citizenship to all Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian migrants (except Muslims) who have fled from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Both the Left Front and Congress are now absent from the political scene in Bengal, and BJP has emerged as the main rival to Trinamool Congress. Mamata has now become jittery as she fears that Bengali Hindus may desert her in large numbers during elections. She has been using words like “goonda”, “jhootha” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. She has been raising slogans of ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ at her rallies.

I have never seen Mamata Banerjee so aggressive in the last ten years. Before she came to power, she used to chant slogans like “CPM Hatao, Bengal Bachao”. Now her slogan is “Modi Hatao, Bengal Bachao”. It was she who singlehandedly fought the Left Front and dislodged it from power after 34 years of uninterrupted rule.

As Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee had been abstaining from chanting slogans like an Opposition leader all these years. However, during the current Lok Sabha elections, she has donned the role of a street fighter and an Opposition leader, as she fears that the challenge from Modi is very, very big.

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Why is Mamata furious over EC’s curb on campaigning in West Bengal?

AKkB (007)Consequent to the clashes that took place in Kolkata on Tuesday during BJP President Amit Shah’s roadshow, the Election Commission took a strong view and, in order to curb further violence in the run-up to the last phase of polling on Sunday, curtailed campaigning by 24 hours. This means that political parties in West Bengal cannot campaign for 72 hours prior to polling.

The Election Commission took this unprecedented step in exercise of its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution. It also ordered the immediate transfer of two of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s closest aides, Rajeev Kumar, ADG, CID and Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya. According to the EC, Rajeev Kumar, as per report of EC observers, was himself arresting people on Tuesday evening. He has been asked to report o the Ministry of Home Affairs by 10 am in Delhi on Thursday.

The Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya was transferred because, according to the EC, he was interfering in the poll process by writing letter to the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer with directions on how to conduct the polls.

Rajeev Kumar, it may be recalled, is presently under CBI lens in the Saradha chit fund scam. He had used Kolkata Police in February this year to prevent a team of CBI officers who went to question him at his residence. The same night Mamata Banerjee along with her party leaders and Rajeev Kumar sat on a nightlong dharna to protest the CBI action. The matter was resolved after the Supreme Court directed Rajeev Kumar to appear before the CBI in a neutral place like Shillong.

On Wednesday night, we showed in Aaj Ki Baat show, how a furious Mamata Banerjee lashed out at the Election Commission, alleging it has been infiltrated by RSS men, and that the EC decision was illegal and unconstiutional.

Clearly, Mamata Banerjee is furious because (1) she will miss two of her close aides in the last lap of campaigning, and (2) she will not be able to hold a mega rally in Kolkata, which she had planned on Friday, the last day of campaign. Mamata had planned to create a Bengali versus Outsiders issue, but her campaign will now be cut short.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to address two rallies in Bengal on Thursday. His party had also planned to hold a big rally in Kolkata on Friday, for which permission was pending.

I have seen Mamata Banerjee’s style of politics for the last 35 years. She is a firebrand leader, she can fire up the masses within minutes, and she can hit the opposition where it hurts the most. It was she who led the Singur and other mass movements, that ultimately demolished the hegemon of the Left, which had been ruling West Bengal for 34 years. With the fall of Left Front in Tripura , Mamata Banerjee is now practically fighting for survival as she fears Narendra Modi may shake her political base in Bengal now.

In course of her entire struggle against the Left, Mamata Banerjee never used cuss words, but for the first time I am hearing Mamata describing the PM and the BJP President as “goonda” and BJP leaders as “dacoits from Chambal”. She refuses to accept Modi as Prime Minister. Clearly, she looks worried and her worries are reflected in her intemperate remarks.

The most interesting part in the Bengal election campaign is that the CPI(M) is practically missing from the scene. This was a party that had ruled Bengal for 34 years. Rahul Gandhi-led Congress has been relegated to fourth position, with its influence confined to a few pockets.

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Mamata is worried over huge turnout at Amit Shah’s Kolkata roadshow

AK__B (007)BJP President Amit Shah in a show of strength on Tuesday took out a big road show on the streets of central Kolkata, considered to be the impregnable bastion of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. The large turnout of people at the road show was a clear sign of challenge to the hegemony of Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.

In the morning, Trinamool Congress supporters left no stone unturned to foil the road show. Local policemen along with TMC supporters tore off posters and banners on the streets of Kolkata and openly intimidated Modi supporters.

Despite provocations, the road show began peacefully from Esplanade and Dharmatalla. Large number of Modi supporters joined the road show which was enriched with tableaux depicting the diverse culture of Bengal. The roadshow stretched for several kilometres with BJP workers shouting ‘Jai Sri Ram’, ‘Amit Shah Swagatam’.

Never in the history of West Bengal, BJP had organized such a huge turnout of supporters. Even local BJP leaders had not dreamed that people will join the road show in such large numbers. The streets of Kolkata turned saffron with party president Amit Shah and other top BJP leaders standing on top of a truck with people showering flower petals on them.

An elated Amit Shah told India TV reporter that the huge turnout clearly indicated signs of change in West Bengal. ‘At first we thought we would win 23 seats in Bengal, but seeing the crowd I can surely say we will cross this number’, Shah told our reporter.

Towards the end of the roadshow, desperate TMC supporters threw sticks and bottles at Amit Shah’s truck, and the BJP leaders were immediately taken to safety by para military forces.

Clashes erupted near Calcutta University, where TMC and BJP supporters fought pitched battles. Several motorbikes were set on fire in front of Vidyasagar College. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on hearing about these clashes, told India TV reporter in Chandigarh that the “people of Bengal will give a befitting reply to Mamata Banerjee for this attack”.

Political pundits including editors of local dailies told our reporter that they never expected such a huge turnout at the roadshow. Tuesday’s show of strength clearly indicates a big undercurrent going on in favour of Modi among Bengal voters. If the popular mood converts into votes, it will be a big headache for Mamata Banerjee in the coming weeks, as the last phase of polling takes place on May 19.

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Sam Pitroda’s remark on 1984 anti-Sikh riots may harm Congress in Punjab

AA (007)Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday continued his attacks on Congress and party chief Rahul Gandhi over the controversial “hua toh hua” ( it happened, so what?) remark made by Rahul’s guru Sam Pitroda relating to 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

At a rally in Bathinda, and in rallies in other states too, Modi described Congress as “a party with a confused leader and diffused thinking”. Modi asked whether Rahul Gandhi reprimanded Pitroda for “revealing” what Rahul’s family thought of the 1984 riots.

The Prime Minister said, the “hua toh hua” remark by Pitroda, whom he described as “a mentor who has specially come from America”, “reflects the party’s thinking and arrogance”.

Punjab is going to the polls for 13 Lok Sabha seats on May 19 in the last phase. Since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots is a highly emotive and painful issue among voters of Punjab, Rahul Gandhi has publicly said that he has reprimanded Pitroda and asked him to apologize for the remark.

This “self-goal” by Pitroda has given Modi a handle to beat the party with. In rally after rally, the Prime Minister is linking all other mistakes of the Congress era with this “hua toh hua” remark, to the glee of his listeners.

Politically, this objectionable remark by Pitroda, who has already apologized, is going to cost the Congress heavily in Punjab.

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Some Congress leaders have this knack of scoring self-goals during elections

AAJ KI BAAT (1) (002)The Congress Party had to face acute embarrassment on Friday, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi took up a seemingly dismissive remark “hua toh hua” made by Rahul Gandhi’s adviser Sam Pitroda over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. There were strong protests by Sikh organisations in Delhi and Punjab and the party’s effigy was burnt.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing election rallies on Friday sarcastically pulled up the Congress for Pitroda’s “hua toh hua” remark, and said this revealed the mindset of the Congress leaders towards the anti-Sikh pogrom that took place soon after the assassination of the then PM Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984.

In the evening, Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “I think what Sam Pitroda Ji said was completely out of line and he should apologise for it. I think 1984 was a needless tragedy that caused tremendous pain. … The Former PM Manmohan Singh Ji has apologised. My mother Sonia Gandhi Ji has apologised. .. What Mr Sam Pitroda has said is absolutely and completely out of line and is not appreciated. I will be communicating this to him directly. He must apologise for his comment.”

Clearly the party president is rattled, but this is not the first time Sam Pitroda has made comment that is out of line. He had made the remark that the Rs 72,000 to be disbursed annually to poor families under NYAY scheme will be managed by taxing the middle class, which he said was selfish. Rahul Gandhi had to deny this in almost every rally and he had to tell voters that the middle class will not be burdened.

Sam Pitroda had also questioned the outcome of Balakot air strike and he had given Pakistan a clean chit for 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. By scoring self-goals, Pitroda has allowed BJP to become aggressive again. He has rubbed salt into the wounds of Sikh voters who will be going to the polls in Delhi and Punjab. It is a strange coincidence that during every major election, somebody from the Congress has been scoring self-goals.

The “hua toh hua” remark by Sam Pitroda is not only insensitive towards the 1984 riot victims, but has also angered the Sikh community across India. Naturally, senior Congress leaders are now questioning, “Yeh Kya Hua”.

Pitroda has been active in the Congress since the days of Late Rajiv Gandhi, and nowadays he is considered adviser and “political guru” to party president Rahul Gandhi. He had been claiming that it was he who has been the brain behind the political evolution of Rahul Gandhi as a leader.

For the Congress, it will be difficult for the party to distance itself from Pitroda. Remember Mani Shankar Aiyar, who had taunted Narendra Modi as a ‘chaiwala’ during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections? He had called Modi a “neech” during the Gujarat elections.

It seems during every election, some Congress leader pops up to score a self-goal by shooting off his mouth. The party leadership should be wary, now that the electioneering is entering its last phases.

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Why Modi read out list of abuses hurled at him in the last 17 years?

akb (007)On Wednesday, while addressing an election rally in Haryana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in a combative mood. He read out a list of abuses hurled at him during the last 17 years by Congress leaders, starting from Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to leaders at the lower rung.

A few days ago, Modi had said in Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh that “your (Rahul’s) father was praised as ‘Mr Clean’ by his courtiers, but his end came as ‘Bhrashtachari (Corrupt) No. 1″. This remark raised the heckles of Congress leaders, who alleged that the PM has insulted the memory of their departed leader. The Congress even complained to the Election Commission.

It was in this context that Modi read out the list of abuses that had been hurled at him over the years. Sonia Gandhi had described him as ‘maut ka saudagar’ (merchant of death), Mani Shankar Aiyar had described him as “neech” and Rahul Gandhi had been parroting the line ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ in almost all his rallies and press conferences.

Rahul Gandhi had also tweeted to Modi after the remark about his father: “The battle is over. Your Karma awaits you. Projecting your inner beliefs about yourself on to my father won’t protect you. All my love and a huge hug.”

A few days ago an interviewer had asked Rahul why he had insulted the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh by tearing up the ordinance. Rahul replied: “I love him. There is absolute mutual respect between us. I use the words love and respect for him, not just respect.” So, if Rahul can insult his own Prime Minister and say he loves him, then there is nothing to be surprised about if he abuses the present PM as ‘chor’.

There is no doubt that Narendra Modi has himself become the main issue in this general election. If you remove Modi’s name, at least 90 per cent of the speeches of Congress leaders would go waste. Modi, on his part, chooses his topic depending on the time, occasion and venue. Modi was to address two election rallies in Haryana on Wednesday, and raised the issue of Robert Vadra’s controversial land deals.

Modi said: “This chowkidar has taken the person who looted farmers to court. He is making rounds of ED and court to take bail. He used to think he is Shahenshah, now he is nervous. I have already taken him to the jail door. Give blessings and I will put him in jail within the next five years.”

Vadra responded to Modi by saying: “I am shocked to hear my name again in your rally. Please stop digressing from glaring issues by taking my name.” Vadra went on to tweet on Thursday: “Are they above the law to decide and claim who they can send where?”

Congress leaders are feeling the pinch because of Modi’s remarks against Vadra, but they are silent. They have left it to Vadra to defend himself.

Modi did not stop at this. At the Ramlila ground in Delhi on Wednesday, Modi alleged that the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had taken his wife, in-laws from Italy, other family members and friends like Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan to spend an idyllic year-end vacation at Bangaram island near Lakshadweep in 1987. He alleged that Rajiv Gandhi had used the Indian Navy’s largest warship INS Virat “as a taxi” for holidaying.

The 10-day holidaying began on December 30, and I still remember newspapers and magazines splashing stories and articles about Rajiv’s year-end vacation. There were no private news channels those days and it was left to the print media to publish stories about the vacation. Clearly, Modi is raising issues where it hurts the Gandhi family.

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Mamata is trying to raise the issue of Bengalis versus outsiders

akb (1) (003)On Tuesday, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee told an election rally that “I feel like giving Modi a tight slap of democracy”. The constitutional head of government of a state was using such words against the constitutional head of government at the Centre. Really shocking.

There is no doubt that Mamata Banerjee is a grassroots political leader who has created her party’s base by dislodging the Left after a protracted struggle. She is indeed a firebrand leader and people appreciate her fighting spirit. But this does not mean that she can insult the Prime Minister for political gains. How can the Chief Minister of a state use such demeaning remark against the Prime Minister of India?

Elections may come and go. Leaders may win or lose power. All this is part of democracy, but to use such words for political gains is unacceptable.

And why is Mamata angry? She is angry because she does not want what she calls ‘outsiders’ coming to Bengal and taking away her chunk of Hindu votes by raising the issue of Muslim appeasement.

By raising the slogan of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and the issue of restrictions on immersion of Durga Puja idols , BJP has been alleging that Hindus in Bengal are being sidelined and the TMC government is appeasing Muslims. BJP leaders are trying to make a big issue out of Mamata’s mistakes, and, on her part, Mamata has started realizing that mobilizing Muslim votes alone will not help.

She has, therefore, changed her stance and is trying to project BJP leaders as ‘outsiders’ in order to create an issue of Bengalis versus outsiders. It is because of this that in the heat of poll campaign, the West Bengal CM is making intemperate remarks about the Prime Minister.

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Mamata should avoid politics over cyclone issue

akbPrime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday alleged that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee repeatedly turned down his offer for providing aid to those affected by Cyclone Fani.

Modi said, “I tried to speak to Mamata Didi over telephone twice after the cyclone. I kept waiting, thinking maybe she would return the call. But she never called back. Such is her arrogance that she did not talk to me over cyclone. ..Didi has left no stone unturned to do politics even with cyclone relief.”

Ten minutes later, Mamata Banerjee responded to Modi’s allegation while addressing her party rally in Gopiballavpur in West Midnapore.

Mamata said: “I do not consider him the Prime Minister, so I did not sit with him for the cyclone review meeting. I do not want to be seen with him on the same platform. I will speak to the next prime minister. We can take care of the cyclone damage ourselves. We do not need the Centre’s help ahead of the polls. ”

Amidst such a vitriolic attack, all that I can says is that the people of Bengal are fortunate that the cyclone weakened when it crossed over from Odisha to their state. There was not widespread damage like Odisha. Had there been widespread damage, Mamata Banerjee would have mounted a big attack on the Centre alleging discrimination.

Mamata Banerjee is a good political fighter, no doubt. She knows how to respond to political attacks, but in times of natural disaster, when the common man is facing crisis, it is not proper to bring political rivalry to a personal level. It was wrong on her part to say that I do not consider Modi a Prime Minister and I will not talk to him.

Narendra Modi has a wide experience in natural disaster management. He learnt a lot from the 2001 Gujarat earthquake.

Cyclone Fani struck the Odisha coast on May 3. A day before, on May 2, the Prime Minister came to our show to give a mega interview. When I interviewed him in the evening, the Prime Minister said that he had just come in from a disaster management meeting with officials to minimize the damage from the cyclone.

At that meeting, both the Centre and Odisha government devised strategy to make solid preparations to avoid major damages. They had already started evacuating more than a million people to safer places in Odisha, and had posted disaster relief teams in advance.

Modi discharged his responsibility as Prime Minister, and Naveen Patnaik as chief minister provided the fullest cooperation. For saving nearly a million lives, the United Nations praised the disaster management efforts in Odisha. But unfortunately, Mamata Banerjee took a completely diverse stand. This does not augur well for Centre-State relations.

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A mega interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

akbThursday May 2 was a red letter day, personally for me and for our institution India TV, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to Jawaharlal Nehru stadium for a mega interview in the presence of more than 2,500 strong audience, with more waiting outside to come in.

The question-answer session, that went on for nearly two hours, in front of a rapturous audience, was engaging.

In this no-holds-barred interview, the Prime Minister revealed for the first time the circumstances in which Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan was released by Pakistan.

He also revealed, for the first time, how on the spur of the moment, he rang up the then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to congratulate him on his birthday from Kabul, and the Pakistani leader suddenly invited him to drop in at a family wedding taking place at his estate near Lahore.

The Prime Minister also revealed how Chinese President Xi Jinping rang him up in May, 2014 to congratulate him and suddenly said that he wanted to visit his hometown Vadnagar in Gujarat. According to Modi, Xi Jinping told him that the hometowns of both leaders in India and China had a common link – the 7th century Chinese Buddhist monk traveller Xuanjang (whose name we read in history books as Huien Tsang), who had visited both the places 1400 years ago.

Modi also revealed how the wife of Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his wife served him tea in Buenos Aires, and when they visited India, the leader’s wife served him tea in similar looking cups. He also disclosed how Singapore Prime Minister Li Hsien Loong and his wife took him to a South Indian restaurant for a quiet dinner.

The Prime Minister also spoke on the current general elections, Gandhi family, poll violence in West Bengal and several other current topics. Towards the end, he looked a bit introvert and spoke extensively about his personal life.

Do watch this exclusive mega interview with Narendra Modi this Saturday May 4 from 8 pm onwards on India TV.

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A big diplomatic victory for India

akbOn Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council at last designated Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Maulana Masood Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’, after permanent member China yielded to international pressure. China relented after intense diplomatic pressure from France, UK, and the US, and even Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which chaired the UN Sanctions Committee asked China to lift its ‘technical hold” on the issue. Masood Azhar was the mastermind of the heinous Pulwama attack in which 40 of our CRPF jawans were martyred in February this year.

India has been pursuing the case in the UN for more than ten years, and at last, its efforts have borne fruit.

Masood Azhar, as part of the global UN sanctions list, cannot move abroad, and his assets worldwide will be frozen. Jaish-e-Mohammed has been the sword arm of Pakistan’s spy agency ISI in the Kashmir valley. After the UN sanction comes into force, all sources of funds for JeM will dry up, because any fund transfer to this terror outfit and its affiliates will immediately invite action from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) against the host country.

Much spadework was done by India’s External Affairs Ministry, and by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in particular. Modi established close rapport with the Chinese President Xi Jinping, invited him to Gujarat and struck friendship. The two top leaders have been meeting frequently on the sidelines of international summits.

When China vetoed the resolution to declare Masood Azhar as global terrorist on technical grounds, there were derisive reactions in Opposition circles. Congress President Rahul Gandhi had once tweeted that Modi is afraid of Xi Jinping.

Clearly, Wednesday’s announcement is a personal victory for Prime Minister Modi. This comes in the midst of Lok Sabha elections, and Modi can go to town to tell his voters that the Big Powers like the US, France, UK, Russia and Germany are with him in the fight against terrorism, and now China, too, has joined. This is a big victory for the people and government of India.

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Sword of contempt is still hanging over Rahul Gandhi

AKB_frame_449The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up Congress President Rahul Gandhi for his ambiguously worded affidavit in which he had expressed ‘regret’ for saying that the apex court has found Prime Minister Narendra Modi guilty in the Rafale deal.

The apex court told his lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi: “What is the meaning of regret within brackets? …You needed a 22-page affidavit to express complete regret? You make a statement and try to justify? Where have we said what you have attributed to us in public speeches?”

The apex court gave Rahul Gandhi time till May 6 to file an apology affidavit. The court said: “While we observe that it will be open for the respondent to file an additional affidavit if he so desires, we make it clear that admissibility and acceptance of any affidavit, if filed, will be considered on the next date fixed, that is May 10.”

Even Rahul Gandhi and his lawyers feel that filing of a ‘regret’ affidavit, and that too, mentioning the word in brackets, was a big mistake, because the Supreme Court is the apex law court of India, and any incorrect remark made about its orders or observations can invite contempt proceedings.

When Rahul Gandhi said in Amethi and Bihar that the Supreme Court has found “chowkidar” (Modi) a “chor” (guilty) and has “found him guilty of giving away Rs 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani in the Rafale deal”, he was treading into dangerous waters.

This was not a remark made out of lack of proper perception or an oral blunder, it was clearly an attempt to seek political capital by misusing the name of the Supreme Court. The easiest way out could have been that the Congress President should have tendered unconditional apology for making this remark, but his lawyers drafted a long affidavit which offered ‘regret’, and that too, in brackets!

Clearly Rahul Gandhi has complicated this case himself and he has very few options left. The sword of contempt of court still hangs over his head.


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