Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

How Mamata Banerjee is trying to win back support of Hindu voters

AKB (002)On Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee surprised everyone by announcing Rs 10,000 grant for each of the 28,000 Durga Puja organising committees, which will result in an outgo of Rs 28 crore for the cash-strapped state government.

Contrast this with what happened last year. The state government postponed immersion of Durga idols by a day in order to allow Muharram processions. It did not allow Ramnavami processions and imposed curbs on Hanuman Jayanti celebrations. The result was that in the panchayat elections, the BJP fared well to the chagrin of Trinamool Congress leaders.

Over the last two years, there has been a certain amount of dissatisfaction among Hindu voters in West Bengal over the perceived bias of Mamata Banerjee towards Muslims. Soon after coming to power in 2011, she had announced monthly allowances of Imams at mosques.

Now that there is a shift in the preferences of Hindu voters in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is trying hard to win back their support, and the latest grant for Durga Puja organisers is one such instance.

Click Here to Watch Full Video | Get connected on TwitterInstagram & Facebook

Bringing fuel prices under purview of GST can give timely relief

Aaj-KiBaat_frame_434Prices of petrol and diesel are continuously on the rise because of hike in crude prices in the international market. It is true that the Centre has no control over fuel prices. The oil marketing companies decide fuel prices on a daily basis. A fierce debate is going on in the social media between the Congress and BJP supporters, but the people at large want that fuel prices should come down.

To say that the Centre has no control over fuel prices will not do. The only way out is: Bring fuel prices under the purview of Goods & Services Tax (GST). The Congress has already said that it would support the Centre on this issue. The ruling BJP and its allies have governments in 23 states. So, it would not be a problem in bringing about unanimity in the GST Council on bringing fuel prices under GST.

Continuous fuel price hike in recent weeks has caused dissatisfaction among the people at large and they are demanding immediate relief. The Janata Dal(U) leader K. C. Tyagi hit the nail on its head when he pointed out that the opposition had no issue against the Centre for the last four years, but fuel price hike has given a readymade handle to the opposition to beat the ruling party with. Congress and other opposition parties will surely try to take political advantage from this issue. Congress President Rahul Gandhi made fuel price hike an issue on Monday at his Ramlila Maidan rally, but the absence of leaders from Samajwadi Party and BSP at the rally has raised doubts in the minds of political analysts. The question is: Is Mayawati unhappy with the proposed Mahagathbandhan?

As far as incidents of vandalism and stone pelting during Monday’s Bharat Bandh are concerned, I can only say that the parties that gave the call for Bandh should take responsibility.

Political parties have the Constitutional right to raise the voice of opposition, but in doing so, they cannot prevent people from reaching hospitals or their workplaces. Dozens of buses were damaged in Maharashtra. There were cases of vandalism in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Trains were stopped causing inconvenience to commuters. It is the duty of the administration to catch the culprits who vandalized public property by going through CCTV footage.

Click Here to Watch Full Video | Get connected on TwitterInstagram & Facebook

Why Pakistan is blowing hot, blowing cold on normalizing relations with India

aaj ki baat_frame_438Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that his country was planning to provide visa-free access to Silk pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. In an interview to BBC, the minister said that a special corridor will be built from the Indian border to the gurdwara to enable Sikh pilgrims to visit the gurdwara. “They will have to buy a ticket to go back”, he added.

It is not yet clear whether this facility will be a permanent one or is only meant for the 550th birth celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev . It was at Kartarpur that the founder of Sikh religion breathed his last and a gurdwara was built in 1559 on the banks of Ravi, hardly three km away from the border.

If Pakistan opens the corridor and provides visa-free access to Indian pilgrims, it will surely be a welcome step. Guru Nanak Dev stayed in Kartarpur for nearly 18 years. This holy gurdwara is visible from the border, and thousands of Sikh pilgrims pay obeisance every day from this side of the border. BSF jawans, who are posted there, regularly clear long grass near the border to enable pilgrims to watch the gurdwara clearly. If visa-free access is allowed it will be a first welcome step towards normalizing bilateral relations by the Imran Khan government.

It was Pakistan army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa who had promised Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu at Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony that his country was planning to open the Kartarpur corridor. However, on Thursday, Gen Bajwa, while addressing a Defence Day ceremony warned that his army would “avenge the blood that has been spilled on the border”. He was referring the casualties near the Line Of Control.

For the last several days, there had been media reports that Gen Bajwa was in favour of resuming dialogue with India, but his remark about “revenge” gives a totally different impression. The General may have said this in order to boost the morale of his troops, but this remark certainly does not augur well for normalizing relations between both countries.

There have been media reports about the army and the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan having a cosy relationship, and these appear to be true. Imran Khan had said at the same ceremony that Pakistan was not going to fight any other country’s war. His reference was to Pakistan providing help to the US in fighting its war in Afghanistan. The Pakistani leader might have made this remark for domestic consumption, but the fact remains that the country is fast sliding into a terrible economic crisis and is in dire need of international financial assistance.


Click Here to Watch Full Video | Get connected on TwitterInstagram & Facebook

Supreme Court verdict decriminalizing gay sex is a welcome step

Aaj-KiBaat_frame_434A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday in a unanimous landmark judgement legalized consensual sexual relations among gay adults, hitherto considered a crime under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code. The apex court thus declared a two-judge bench decision in 2013 prohibiting gay sex as “arbitrary, fallacious and retrograde”. The apex court clearly said “history owed an apology to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) members and their families for the wrongs inflicted on them”.

Homosexuality, gay, same sex and lesbian, you call it by whatever name, is not a disease. One can call it a genetic flaw or a hormonal disorder. It could be different from heterosexuals, but you cannot blame anybody for that, nor should one hate anybody because of that, and neither should one make fun of such people. In today’s modern society, we cannot force any homosexual rom hiding the person’s sexual proclivity.

The Supreme Court has rightly said that homosexuality is not a crime, and societal morality cannot violate the fundamental rights of even a single individual. Justice Rohinton Nariman said, ‘Persons who are homosexuals have a fundamental right to live with dignity..We further declare that such groups (LGBTQ) are entitled to the protection of equal laws, and are entitled to be treated in society as human beings without any stigma attached to any of them.”

I believe this is easier said than done. Our society has certain preconceived notions about homosexuality, and the apex court’s verdict may be difficult to implement in society by force. We may need more time for society to understand the need for equal rights of homosexuals, and the law cannot be enforced with a stick. Justice Nariman has rightly said that the verdict needs to be widely publicized in society.

Homosexuals should also understand that our society presently does not allow excessive sexual permissiveness in public places. They will have to exercise patience and caution. And the most important thing is: Homosexuals should accept that their sexual choice is purely a personal matter, and it is better that if they avoid indulging in consensual gay sex in public places. Otherwise, such an act can come under the purview of law that disallows obscenity in public places.


Click Here to Watch Full Video | Get connected on TwitterInstagram & Facebook

Perpetrators of brutal gangrape and murder of girl in Kashmir must get death sentence

aaj ki baat_frame_69242As details of the gangrape, savagery and murder of the nine-year-old girl in Uri, Kashmir, by her stepbrother, stepmother and and three others emerged on Wednesday, people in general were stunned. The heinous act was committed by the stepmother who was jealous that her husband doted more on his second wife and nine-year-old daughter, and then conspired with her teenager son, two of his friends and a male to carry out this crime, according to police.

All five accused have been arrested, and forensic tests have revealed that the minor girl was raped by the perpetrators of the crime. She was then strangled and struck on the head with an axe by her stepbrother, her eyes were gouged out and acid was sprayed on her body.

I would like to thank the police officers who cracked this case fast and collected vital evidences. This bloodcurdling act is a blot on humanity in general, and there is no way out, except to hand out death sentence to all the perpetrators of this heinous crime. My heart cries out for the little girl, who suffered inhuman torture at the hands of her own relatives.

Click Here to Watch Full Video | Get connected on TwitterInstagram & Facebook

Petrol, diesel, LPG, CNG should be brought under GST

akb2Prices of petrol and diesel have spiralled for the tenth day in a row on Tuesday because of constant rise in international crude prices. The common man has been badly affected by rising fuel prices, and in an election year, such a situation could cause worries for the ruling party.
India is dependent on oil producing countries for its fuel requirements. Crude production in Iran has decreased sharply due to sanctions imposed by the US.
India and China import almost 18 lakh barrels per day from Iran, and with reduced production, prices of international crude has shot up to 85 US dollars per barrel. It has been reported that Iran’s oil production may decline to 10 lakh barrels per day by November this year, when the US sanctions will fully be in place. This will further lead to huge rise in crude prices.
It is also true that in recent years the central excise duty on petrol has increased by about 105 per cent to Rs 19.48 paise per litre, and the hike in diesel price has been nearly 331 per cent. Many state governments levy ad valorem tax in order to garner more revenue.
Last year, the Centre made a modest reduction in taxes on fuel and five state governments promptly followed the lead, in order to give relief to the common man. Now that the economy has registered an 8.2 per cent growth in GDP, the Centre can afford to reduce fuel taxes and persuade BJP-ruled states to follow the same path. This can give great relief to the common man, and can also fuel economic growth. This is a short-term measure, but the permanent solution to this is to bring all petroleum products under the purview of Goods and Services Tax (GST). This will bring uniformity in fuel prices across the country, and the Centre can then persuade the states in the GST Council to reduce the tax rate.

Click Here to Watch Full Video | Get connected on TwitterInstagram & Facebook

Why should common man in Kashmir face the brunt of attacks from terrorists?

AKB (1)Three days ago, terrorists released 11 relatives of Kashmiri policemen whom they had abducted 24 hours earlier from Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam. This happened only after there was a major outcry in the media from the common man in the Valley. People who are in the know about ground realities say, the common man in Kashmir is fed up of being caught in the crossfire and sincerely wants peace.

On Monday, India TV reporter Manish Prasad interviewed Mohammed Maqbool, a father, who had three sons, of whom two are working in J&K Police and the third Zubair was abducted. Zubair was released 24 hours later after public pressure. He described how Zubair was kept blindfolded alongwith 10 other captives on an open ground. Maqbool pointed out how it was a big challenge for his two sons who are working in the police.

If one listens to the family members of those who are at the receiving end of the attacks from terrorists, one thing is clear: the common man does not want his son to become a terrorist. Security forces have been conducting operations in several of the militant-infested pockets, and have so far killed 142 terrorists. The remaining terrorists are now desperate, and they want to forcibly recruit more by abducting and brainwashing youngsters.

With the state panchayat bodies elections slated to begin soon, security forces have intensified cordon and search operations, and terrorists are now clearly on the run.


Click Here to Watch Full Video | Get connected on TwitterInstagram & Facebook

Rahul Gandhi’s Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage is purely personal

aaj-Ki-Baat_frame_9441Congress President Rahul Gandhi has embarked on a 12-day pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet via Nepal. Today he also paid obeisance at the famous Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu. Rahul had announced at a rally in Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on April 29 that he would be going on pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, because, he said, the thought first occurred to him after he had a ‘near-death’ experience when his chartered plane plummeted down by 8,000 feet and a big mishap was avoided in a matter of seconds. He was campaigning for the Karnataka assembly elections and was flying from Delhi to Hubli on April 26.

On Friday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation came out with its inquiry report which stated that the pilot acted in the nick of time and controlled the technical snag Had it been delayed by 20 seconds, the aircraft would have crashed. Rahul and his associates were miraculously saved.

Any person would have been scared in such a critical situation. It was then that Rahul decided to undertake the pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar. On Friday, the BJP questioned why the Counsellor of the Chinese embassy sought an entry pass to Delhi airport to “see off” Rahul Gandhi. The party spokesman alleged that there were political connotations to this.

Since this pilgrimage is a matter of personal faith and belief for Rahul Gandhi, it would be better if this remains a personal one, and one should not make it a political issue.

Click Here to Watch Full Video | Get connected on TwitterInstagram & Facebook