Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Modi eyes Himachal Pradesh

On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the UDAN low-cost air travel scheme from Delhi to Shimla, and in the process, he indirectly launched his poll campaign for the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections, due in November this year. Shimla had no air connectivity till yesterday, but now it is on the air map, thanks to the UDAN scheme. Modi publicly said, he wants poor and lower middles class people to travel in aeroplanes. I remember, Modi once telling me in the show Aap Ki Adalat, that he was a pucca Ahmedabadi, who knows how to travel to and fro at the cost of a single ticket. Modi has worked as a pracharak in-charge of BJP for many years in Himachal Pradesh. It has been a second home to him. He knows the lanes and bylanes of Shimla, and has innumerable old friends. On Thursday, he called out the names of his old journalist friends at the rally. Himachal Pradesh is the last bastion of Congress remaining in north India, and judging by the huge turnout at his rally, it appears that the BJP is confident of returning to power.

Kejriwal’s arrogance led to AAP’s defeat in MCD polls

The humiliating defeat faced by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party in the elections to three municipal corporations in the capital is the result of arrogance shown by party supremo Arvind Kejiwal. The Delhi chief minister quarrelled with almost every person worth the name. He quarrelled with the Lt. Governor, with the Centre, with founder-members of his own party and even denigrated constitutional bodies like the judiciary and Election Commission. Kejriwal used insulting words for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, described Election Commission as ‘Modi’s agent’, questioned the intentions of judiciary, denigrated the media, and levelled baseless allegations against persons of moral repute. The result was: the people of Goa and Punjab rejected his party in the assembly elections, voters in Rajouri Garden, Delhi, made the AAP candidate lose his deposit, and yet Kejriwal and his coterie did not correct their course of action. The electoral defeat in MCD polls was so humiliating that there is hardly any space left for the party to recover. Many leaders of Aam Aadmi Party are now raising questions about Kejriwal’s leadership, his arrogance and his style of working. The fall from grace for Kejriwal in the eyes of the public in a short span of two years is, indeed, shocking.

Centre must launch major operation to crush Naxalites

A US Department of State report has rated India’s Maoists as the world’s fourth most dangerous terrorist outfit, after Islamic State, Boko Haram and Taliban, in that order. The manner in which Maoists mutilated the bodies of our martyred jawans in Sukma is condemnable. There is nationwide anger over the massacre of 25 CRPF jawans and people expect the Centre to launch a major operation to root out Naxalites. We have to give more leeway to our security forces in conducting this operation. Let me share with you some facts which show that more people were killed by Naxalites, compared to Kashmir and the Northeast. In the last 12 years, there were 6100 victims of terror in Kashmir, 6360 people died in violence in Northeast, and 7442 people died at the hands of Maoists. Clearly, Naxalite terror is the biggest challenge facing the State. I have more facts to show that Naxalite violence has been curbed in a better manner during Modi regime compared to the previous regime, so far. The facts: In 2016, 65 jawans were martyred and 222 Naxalites were gunned down, in 2015, 59 jawans were martyred and 89 Naxalites were gunned down. Let’s look at the figures during UPA government. In 2013, 115 jawans were martyred and 100 Naxalites were gunned down, in 2012, 114 jawans were martyred and only 74 Naxalites were killed. Clearly, the trend has changed. Our security forces are having an upper hand in the battle against Maoists, but this is not enough. The barbaric attack on Monday, in which 25 brave jawans were martyred, clearly shows there were lapses, lack of intelligence and complacence. Such mistakes need to be corrected, soon.

Time to crush Naxalites in Chhattisgarh

Sukma in Chhattisgarh has always been the nerve centre of Maoist activity. On Monday, more than 300 Naxalites ambushed and martyred 25 CRPF jawans on the Dornapal-Jagargonda road. This attack reminds us of the Naxalite attack on a convoy of Congress leaders on May 25, 2013 in Darbha ghati, in which many senior Congress leaders, including V C Shukla, were killed. Monday’s attack was the biggest one in recent years. Chhattisgarh chief minister Dr Raman Singh has said that the Naxalites’ ire was over the construction of a vital road that passes through dense forests in Sukma district. He has said that if the road becomes operational, the backbone of Naxalite movement in his state would be broken. On Monday too, the CRPF jawans had been sent to provide protection to road construction workers. Our brave jawans had to lay down their lives for the nation, but their martyrdom will steel the nation’s resolve to crush Naxalites in Chhattisgarh.

Why PM told bureaucrats: Reform, Perform and Transform

On Civil Services Day yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged bureaucrats to change their mindset and style of working. His message in a nutshell was: reform, perform and transform. Modi wants reforms. He wants new ideas, and he has been working towards that end. There are risks involved while transforming. It needs the support of the masses. And now that Modi has got the solid support of the masses behind him, the issue of how to perform becomes all the more important. Bureaucrats will have to perform, and if they do that properly, there is bound to be a transformation.

Rahul is ignoring his party workers

It’s a personal matter if Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi parties in a hotel or goes on a foreign trip. There is nothing wrong in it. But the question arises when the party vice-president starts ignoring his party leaders and workers, and refuses to give time to meet them. Two days ago, the former Delhi state Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely quit the party and joined BJP, and yesterday former state Mahila Congress chief Barkha Shukla Singh too resigned from the party. Both the leaders complained that Rahul Gandhi had no time to meet party leaders and workers, and he does not listen to what the leaders are saying. This could be a matter of worry for party president Sonia Gandhi, who has practically delegated most of the party work to her son.

Modi’s decision is a big step towards an egalitarian society

I congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking a bold decision on banning the use of red beacons by all VIPs, irrespective of designations. I consider this as a big step towards an egalitarian society. Use of red beacons by VIPs on their cars has been a symbol of the trappings of power for the last 70 years. Since independence, many Prime Ministers pondered over this issue, but none had the courage to implement this decision. The truth is, people in general are fed up of ‘red beacon’ VIP culture. Even in small towns, people, who do not hold any post worth the name, move around with red beacons and hooters on their vehicles. In big metros, the man on the street gets angry when he or she sees a car moving around with a red beacon. It is gratifying to note that PM Modi has understood the sentiments of the people and took this decision, which may not be to the liking of many leaders, who are used to such trappings of power. Modi was advised to limit the use of red beacons, at least for the President and the PM, but he refused and decided to bat front foot. The people of India hail this courageous decision.

Mallya’s extradition may take time, but it is inevitable

Vijay Mallya was arrested by Britain’s Scotland Yard on Tuesday and was released on Rs 5.4 crore bond. The British court will now begin hearing from May 17, and Mallya’s lawyers will definitely try their best to prevent his extradition to India. He can also appeal, and hence his extradition to India may take time. Since there are money laundering charges against him, the matter becomes criminal, and Mallya would now have realized that he can’t go scot-free after misappropriating the nation’s money. Mallya’s arrest took place on the Indian government’s request. It was in February this year that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley went to London, and spoke to British Prime Minister Theresa May over extradition of 18 Indians including Mallya and Lalit Modi. Jaitley had then clearly told the British government that its stance on this issue will make it clear how seriously it took the mutual extradition treaty with India. On February 8, the formal extradition request for Mallya was send and after that, things moved. Mallya’s extradition may take time, but it now appears inevitable.

Yogi has initiated changes in UP in last 30 days

Right from day one, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has taken major decisions to change the workstyle and functioning of the state government. After taking oath, Yogi had promised that ‘big changes will take place and these will be visible’. The changes are visible at the ground level. Anti-Romeo task force is in place, illegal slaughter and sale of meat has been curbed, chewing of betel at government offices has been prohibited, govt employees have been asked to put in more hours of work, and biometric attendance for employees is being initiated. These are a few changes apart from major policy decisions affecting the lives of indebted farmers and education in madrassas. It has to be noted that Yogi Adityanath, though elected five times as member of Lok Sabha, has never been appointed minister. But the manner in which he used to run his ‘math’ in Gorakhpur and address the grievances of his voters, clearly indicates that he has ideas about governance. The results are now visible.

Army has taught the right lesson to stone pelters

The video of a stone pelter tied to an army jeep bonnet in Kashmir has been circulated by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on social media. He and his supporters may describe this as an excess and violation of human rights, but I want to tell these people that the army has done the right thing in teaching stone pelters a lesson in this manner. Those raising question of human right violations should first look at the earlier video of a CRPF jawan being heckled and beaten up by street goons. The CRPF jawan had an AK47 rifle with him, but he exercised utmost restraint because he had orders from the top not to use force during polls. Politicians like Omar Abdullah should first react to this video before raising the issue of ‘human shield’. He should appreciate the restraint shown by the Army in avoiding casualties by carrying out this act. My message to the youths of Kashmir is: the Army is there for your protection, but if you misbehave with our jawans at the instigation of agent provocateurs, then you should be ready to face the consequences.

Delhites have lost confidence in Kejriwal

With the Aam Aadmi Party candidate losing his deposit in the Rajouri Garden assembly bypoll, the writing on the wall is clear: people of Delhi have lost all confidence in the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal. People are tired of frequent quarrels between the state and the Centre, and are exasperated with Kejriwal’s arrogance. On the other hand, people of Delhi now believe in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s work and promises. And, the most significant outcome from the bypoll result is that traditional Congress supporters, who had deserted the party and supported AAP in the past two years, have now returned to the Congress. The results of 10 assembly bypolls across India have made it amply clear that ‘Modi magic’ that was weaved in UP, has now done its work in other states too, except Karnataka, where the Congress won both the seats. Good news has come from Bengal for the BJP. The party stood second, getting 31 pc votes in Kanthi Dakshin in the Midnapur belt, a former Marxist stronghold captured by Mamata Banerjee’s TMC. The Left was relegated to third position. This indicates that the main battle in Bengal in the coming years, will now be fought between Mamata Banerjee and Narendra Modi.

A new wind is blowing in Bengal

For decades, the Marxists and Trinamool Congress have been following a policy of appeasement towards minorities in Bengal and the Hindus have been watching helplessly. But a new wind has started to blow in Bengal. There have been spontaneous processions of Hindus, mostly women, in several cities of Bengal on the occasion of Ramnavami and Hanuman Jayanti. Hindu outfits in West Bengal have been alleging that the chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been showing undue favour towards minorities, and Hindus were not being allowed to take out processions during their festivals. They point out that while Muslims were allowed to show weapons during Muharram processions, Hindus were denied permission to even bring out peaceful processions. But now, Hindus in Bengal have started asserting. In several Ramnavami processions, weapons were publicly displayed. The lathicharge by Bengal police on processionists in Birbhum on Tuesday, during Hanuman Jayanti, provoked a small-time BJP youth leader in Aligarh to declare a Rs 11 lakh reward on Mamata’s head. After a huge outcry in Parliament and outside, he had to retract his statement and apologize. The remark was atrocious, but the fact remains that for the first time in West Bengal, Hindus have started to come out on the streets to express their strong resentment towards appeasement policies.