Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Why Amit Shah said NRC will be implemented across India

akb0210A storm is brewing over the issue of National Register of Citizens (NRC) after Home Minister Amit Shah disclosed in Parliament on Wednesday that the Centre will implement NRC across the country along with Assam. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee declared that her government would not allow the implementation of NRC in her state at any cost.

Amit Shah said in the Rajya Sabha that “the process of NRC will be carried out across the country. No one irrespective of their religion should be worried as it is just a process to get everyone under the NRC”.

The Home Minister clarified that the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was different from the NRC. The CAB aims to provide citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who have fled to India to avoid religious persecution, but he said, the NRC has no such provision that says certain religions will be excluded from it. All citizens of India, irrespective of religion, will figure in the NRC list.”

The NRC process to be implemented across India will take time because the National Population Register(NPR) is not ready. The NPR will be updated during the 2021 Census.

There are many apprehensions about NRC in the minds of the people. I would like to point out here that the NRC process was carried out in Assam on the orders of the Supreme Court. The guidelines for carrying out the process were prepared by the apex court. And now that the Home Minister has said that NRC will be implemented across the country, politicians like Mamata Banerjee have become apprehensive.

Mamata Banerjee is opposing the NRC because she fears that this can cause harm to her vote banks in West Bengal. Amit Shah has clarified at the right time that there would be no religious discrimination while preparing the NRC. Let us wait and watch.

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How normalcy is finally returning in Kashmir Valley

AKB2610Three months ago, Articles 370 and 35A granting special status to Jammu & Kashmir were abrogated, and there was a lockdown in the valley. Now, normalcy is finally returning with shops open throughout the day, public transport on the streets and train services restored in the valley. India TV on Tuesday night showed visuals of a large number of patients flocking to the main hospital in Srinagar.

Shopkeepers in the valley were till now afraid of terrorists who had threatened them of retaliation if they opened their shops. Markets have also reopened in the other towns of the valley, like Baramulla, Uri, Kupwara, Sopore and Bandipore. Mini buses, autos and two-wheelers are plying on the streets of Srinagar. The high turnout of students in the recent Class 10 and 12 board exams in the valley points to a return of normalcy.

Now that Jammu & Kashmir has been made a Union Territory, time has come for the Centre to swing into action. The valley needs more hospitals, schools and colleges, better infrastructure and transport. The people of the valley had been deprived of these benefits for the last 72 years, much money went down the drain and now there has been a rise in people’s expectations.

I do hope the Narendra Modi government will try its best to fulfill the expectations of the people at the earliest. The state administration has already promised to give compensation to apple growers who have lost their crops due to early onset of winter. The sooner the compensation is given, the better.

On Tuesday night, India TV showed in its show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’, how our army jawans are keeping a round-the-clock vigil at the Line of Control despite heavy snowfall. Some of these jawans told the Northern Army Commander that they slept hardly for four hours daily and much of their time was spent on keeping a hawk’s eye on infiltrators.

I would appeal to all to heed to PM Narendra Modi’s call to greet our army jawans with loud clapping whenever they say them at airports, railway stations and markets. These jawans protect us so that we can have a sound sleep. Our brave soldiers need our full support.

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Why is Sharad Pawar keeping Shiv Sena on tenterhooks?

akb2308Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar on Monday met Congress President Sonia Gandhi at the latter’s residence and had discussion for nearly 50 minutes. Coming out, Pawar sprang a surprise by telling the media that he did not discuss the issue of alliance with Shiv Sena or government formation in Maharashtra with Sonia Gandhi.

Later Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut called on Pawar and had closed door discussion. There are indications that talks on government formation are making cautious progress. Pawar said, he would talk about the political situation with other smaller allies like Peasants and Workers Party, Shetkari Sangathana and Samajwadi Party, saying this to be the the only “new development in the old situation”.

Sharad Pawar is an experienced politician, and he knows the political situation of his state inside out. Pawar first became the chief minister of Maharashtra 41 years ago, at the age of 38, the youngest chief minister of India at that time. It is for this chief minister’s post that the Shiv Sena has broke its alliance with the BJP. Pawar knows what to speak, and to whom, and he always thinks ten steps ahead.

Look at the way in which he made remarks after the Maharashtra results were out. Pawar first said, BJP and Shiv Sena should form the government and the NCP and Congress would sit in the opposition. He then said, until and unless Shiv Sena breaks away from its alliance with the BJP, no talks can begin. Shiv Sena left the alliance, and three days ago, Pawar said that a coalition government will be formed soon and it will run its full term of five years. Though NCP leaders spoke about a coalition government with the Shiv Sena and Congress, Pawar did not mention Shiv Sena by name.

Pawar’s remarks on Monday clearly indicate that any coalition government that will be formed in Maharashtra will be in accordance with the wishes of NCP. Pawar has played his game well, and the initiative appears to be slipping away from the hands of Shiv Sena. Congress is wary about its Muslim vote bank, and it is therefore following Pawar’s advice closely. The wily Maratha leader has also kept the hopes of BJP alive, and this has now kept the Shiv Sena on tenterhooks.

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Supreme Court verdict on Rafale raises questions over Rahul’s credibility

AKB A three-judge bench of Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed all petitions seeking review of its last year’s verdict giving clean chit to the Modi government in purchase of 36 fully loaded Rafale fighter jets through an inter-government deal with France.

Noting that the price of the basic Rafale jet was marginally cheaper than the one considered by the previous UPA government, the bench dismissed the allegation that the government was responsible for the inclusion of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as an offset partner. The bench said that the offset partner was chosen by the French manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

Rahul Gandhi and the Congress spokesperson on Thursday however quoted a portion of Justice K. M. Joseph’s verdict and claimed that the door for ordering an inquiry was still open. The fact remains that the apex court has outrightly rejected all review petitions, particularly those filed by Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, who had levelled personal charges against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

During this year’s Lok Sabha general elections, Rahul Gandhi had persistently used these allegations to attack Modi in his poll campaign, and went to the extent of threatening to put the Prime Minister behind bars once the elections were over. When the Supreme Court gave its original verdict on December 14 last year giving a clean chit to the government, the petitioners filed review petitions challenging the judgement. All these petitions were dismissed on Thursday.

On the whole, these baseless allegations have shown India in a poor light and have affected the nation’s capability for negotiating major defence deals. The apex court verdict on Thursday has restored the credibility and honest image of Modi government, and, in turn, has raised questions over the credibility and sincerity of Rahul Gandhi.

In a related verdict on Thursday, the apex court chided Rahul Gandhi for making false statements during the poll campaign that the Supreme Court had endorsed his ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ jibe at Modi in the context of Rafale deal. The court said, “Certainly (Rahul) Gandhi needs to be more careful in future”. The apex court however dropped contempt proceedings against him by accepting his belated unconditional apology.

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Uddhav will have to bow to most of the demands of NCP, Congress

AKB1411 BJP president and Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday emphatically rejected charges by Congress and NCP leaders that they were denied their “democratic right” to form a government in Maharashtra. The BJP chief said, “the Governor waited for 18 days after notification of the new assembly for some party to come forward and stake claim. Any party or formation of parties could have approached the Governor.”

Shah said, “the invites to explore government formation were sent out by the Governor only when the term of the outgoing assembly ended on November 9, and yet no party could show the requisite numbers to stake claim. Every party asked for extra 1-2 days..Now they have six months. They can approach the Governor any time still now if they have the numbers.”

The BJP chief, for the first time, spoke out on what went wrong with the Shiv Sena. He said, “before the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I said several times in public that if our alliance wins, Devendra Fadnavis will be the chief minister. No one objected at that time…Now that some new terms are being raised, our party has some reservations and we will discuss these at an appropriate time. ”

Amit Shah’s clarifications have come at the right time. For the last 18 days, Shiv Sena leaders had gone to town claiming that Shah had promised 50:50 power share, meaning two and a half years each for both alliance partners, and that he had agreed to give the CM post to the Shiv Sena.

On Wednesday, Shah clarified that the conditions laid down by Shiv Sena were not acceptable to his party. By saying that “one should not discuss in public what is spoken inside closed rooms”, the BJP chief has sent out the message that he is not interested in a public debate on this issue.

It is now clear that all the parties in Maharashtra have six months’ time to explore ways and means for government formation. Amit Shah’s remarks on Wednesday also indicated that the BJP has not completely opted out from the race.

As far as Shiv Sena is concerned, its supremo Uddhav Thackeray has made the chief minister’s post an issue of prestige. He will need the support of both the NCP and the Congress. Sharad Pawar and Ahmed Patel are experienced politicians and they know this very well. Shiv Sena may have to accept most of the conditions that will be laid down by both these parties, and this could create problems in future for the saffron party.

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How Uddhav Thackeray overplayed his cards

akb1709With President’s rule in force in Maharashtra, all hectic efforts by Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP in the last one week to form a coalition government have now somewhat abated.

Both the NCP and the Congress have now formed committees to prepare a common minimum programme after talks with the Shiv Sena. As of now, nothing is clear as to whether there will be a rotational chief minister or not, and whether there would be a deputy chief minister. Shiv Sena leaders like Arvind Sawant and Sanjay Raut said on Wednesday that their party would insist on getting the chief minister’s post.

The single largest party, BJP, withdrew from the race on November 9. After a long wait, the Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari then invited the second largest party, Shiv Sena to explore ways for government formation. The Shiv Sena wanted more time, but the Governor declined to give extension. The third largest party, NCP also wanted three days’ time to form a government, but since there was no clear picture emerging, the Governor recommended President’s rule, which was promulgated on November 12.

All the Congress MLAs, who were herded by the party high command to prevent poaching, have now returned to Maharashtra from Jaipur. On Wednesday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, after meeting Congress leaders in a hotel, claimed that the talks were progressing “in the right direction, and everything is going fine”.

Clearly, this was an attempt by Uddhav Thackeray to shore up the morale of his MLAs, who have been kept at a resort on Madh island. Neither the NCP nor the Congress have yet been committal on the issue of power sharing with the Shiv Sena. NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar said on Tuesday that “before the New Year begins, I think Maharashtra should get a new government”.

Former CM Narayan Rane, who had left Shiv Sena several years ago to join the Congress, and later left that party to join the BJP, on Tuesday night claimed that the BJP alone form a government. Rane promised to use “sama, dama, danda, bheda” to form a BJP-led government. He should know better, because he had spent most of his political life in the Shiv Sena and the Congress, and knows both the parties inside out.

The Congress, which had sent its panel of senior leaders like Ahmed Patel and Mallikarjun Kharge, to Mumbai to meet Sharad Pawar and other NCP leaders, is still non-committal. Patel and Pawar made it clear on Tuesday that both the parties are yet to decide on forging an alliance with the Shiv Sena. Both the leaders said that the two parties would first decide among themselves and then talks would begin with the Shiv Sena.

Sharad Pawar was emphatic. He said, the ideologies of the Congress are different from those of the Shiv Sena. “If the Shiv Sena needs Congress’ support, then there should be clarity on several issues, a common minimum programme has to be prepared, and this process would take time”.

After the joint press conference by Sharad Pawar and Ahmed Patel, several things are now crystal clear. However, fresh questions arise about Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. He had sought the support of the NCP and the Congress only on Monday, and yet his party had not received any firm assurance from these parties till then.

The first question arises as to on what basis the Shiv Sena had staked its claim before the Governor, in the absence of firm assurances of support? The second question that arises is: why Uddhav Thackeray was in a hurry? Why did he direct his party minister to quit the NDA government at the Centre, even before he had not received support from NCP and Congress?

With the political situation still fluid, all that can be said now is, to quote Shakespeare: “Much ado about nothing.”

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How Uddhav Thackeray was ‘blinded by affection’ for his son

akb2308On Monday when Shiv Sena walked out of the National Democratic Alliance and went to the Maharashtra Governor to stake its claim to form a government, it had no letter of support in hand – neither from the Nationalist Congress Party, nor from the Congress. All that the leaders had were mere words of assurance from leaders of these two parties.

Understandably, the Governor refused to give the Shiv Sena more time to cobble up a coalition, and instead, asked the third largest party, NCP, to explore ways of government formation. The situation is still fluid as the Congress high command continues to dither, grappling with doubts.

I think it was Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s ’putramoha’ (blind affection for son) that did the party in. Uddhav wanted to see his son Aaditya Thackeray anointed as chief minister, by hook or by crook – for two and a half years (with the BJP), or for two and a half months, or even for two and a half days. During the recent assembly polls, Uddhav had gone to town telling voters that it was his father Balasaheb Thackeray’s last wish to see a member of the family become the chief minister of Maharashtra. Gone were the days when Balasaheb used to publicly boast about carrying a ‘remote’ to guide the likes of Manohar Joshi as chief minister.

It was because of this ‘blind affection’ for his son that Uddhav walked out of an alliance with BJP that had continued for 25 consecutive years in Maharashra, from 1989 till 2014, and later during the recent assembly polls. Both the Shiv Sena and BJP had campaigned across Maharashtra during last month’s elections, denouncing both the NCP and Congress.

On Monday, Uddhav Thackeray had to suffer the humiliation of going to meet NCP supremo Sharad Pawar to seek his party’s support, at a hotel in Mumbai, and had to telephonically request Congress President Sonia Gandhi seeking her party’s support.

Uddhav agreed to do all that the prospective partners wanted him to do. His party walked out of the NDA and his minister Arvind Sawant at the Centre tendered his resignation. At the hotel, Sharad Pawar offered him tea, but no letter of support. Sharad Pawar is a seasoned politician. He always plans ten steps ahead before giving any commitment.

On Monday night, there was this strange spectacle of Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar and his associates being invited by the Governor to explore ways of forming a government. Till Monday evening, Shiv Sena was claiming support of NCP, and by night, it was Shiv Sena which was being asked to think about offering support to NCP. The roulette of Maharashtra politics has now taken a 180-degree turn.

The issue is not of morality, but lust for power. The BJP cannot blame the Shiv Sena on the issue of morality. It was only last month that the BJP had formed a coalition government in Haryana with Dushyant Chautala’s party. The Congress, too, cannot claim a higher pedestal, because it had formed a government in Karnataka last year with Devegowda’s Janata Dal(S), but the alliance came unstuck.

The main reason behind Congress’ refusal to endorse the Shiv Sena-led coalition government was that senior party leaders were apprehensive about losing support of Muslim voters in the event of forging an alliance with the Shiv Sena. These leaders were openly speaking about possible repercussions among Muslim voters in Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

The biggest loser was, of course, the Shiv Sena, and its leader Uddhav Thackeray. In Hindi, there is a saying: ‘Duvidha mein dou gaye, Maya mili na Ram’. (In confusion, you lose both – materially and spiritually)

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Lawyers must curb the tendency to resort to violence

akb3010A minor quarrel over parking issue between a policeman and a lawyer outside Tees Hazari court in Delhi on Saturday escalated into violent clashes between the policemen and lawyers in the court premises. Police resorted to lathi charge and firing, advocates were beaten up and the lawyers set fire to vehicles.

The Delhi High Court on Sunday directed immediate transfer and suspension of police officers and ordered a probe. On Monday, lawyers in Delhi went on strike, but several video clips that appeared on social media tell a different story. One video clip showed a group of lawyers entering the police control room at Saket court and vandalizing it. Another clip showed a lawyer beating up a policeman who had gone there for some court work. A few litigants who had come to court were beaten up by some lawyers.

All these videos are shocking, to say the least. If one looks at the videos made by lawyers showing the police beating up advocates, it will appear as a police excess. But if one looks at video clips in which lawyers beat up policemen and vandalized police control room, then it tells the other side of the story. The Chief Justice of Delhi High Court sat on Sunday and gave directions against the police. None of the lawyers were arrested, but police offers were suspended or transferred. An independent committee headed by a retired High Court judge was set up to probe the Tees Hazari violence.

In view of this, the lawyers should have exercised restraint and waited for the probe report to come. To the best of my knowledge, most of the lawyers in Delhi supported the High Court’s directives. On the other side, these incidents have caused demoralization in the police force. The IPS officers’ association tweeted that police officers across India stand in solidarity with policemen subjected to physical assault and humiliation.

The incidents that happened on Monday outside Saket court could have been avoided. The video of lawyers beating up a policeman brings a bad name to the legal community, and this act cannot be justified. Incidentally, Bar Council elections are going to be held now, and it appears that some of the lawyers are misusing these incidents to incite their brethren and garner votes.

I have spoken to some senior advocates and they have unequivocally said that such tendencies need to be curbed. The common man seems to be perturbed after seeing lawyers thrashing policemen. If the morale of policemen takes a hit, who will protect the city, this capital and this country?

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Why Imran Khan is suffering from Modiphobia ?

akbThe leader of Pakistan’s largest religious party Maulana Fazlur Rehman has given two days ultimatum for Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.

Addressing a huge rally in Islamabad attended by Pakistan People’s Party leader Bilawal Bhutto and Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader Shahbaz Sharif, the firebrand cleric indirectly criticized the army alleging that Imran Khan’s party has not come to power on a popular mandate “but on someone else’s direction”.

The Maulana said, Imran Khan’s government has failed to curb rising prices and rampant unemployment and has proved incompetent in reviving an economy which is on the decline. Hours later, the Imran Khan government rejected the demand for resignation, even as senior opposition leaders from PPP and PML(N) were closeted with the Maulana at the latter’s residence to decide about the future of the agitation.

On Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan was in Gilgit Baltistan, where he alleged that the Maulana was speaking like “an Indian national”. He vowed to send all corrupt politicians to jail, and recited Islamic verses to seek support from the people.

Imran Khan said, the very name of Pakistan is “La Illaha Illaha” (God is Great). He then went on to describe how Islam spread from the Middle East under Prophet Mohammed’s leadership, subduing two big empires of Europe.

Imran then hit out at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that Kashmiris are being suppressed in the valley. The Pakistani PM said,”Modi has played his last card (on Kashmir). The moment curfew is lifted, a sea of people will come out on the streets to demand azadi”.

Clearly, Imran Khan is suffering from Modiphobia. He may not be aware but it is a fact that on Friday, the first day of Jammu & Kashmir as a union territory, markets in several localities of Srinagar were open and traffic was normal.

The fact is that Pakistanis on the streets of Islamabad are demanding ‘azadi’ from Imran Khan’s rule. But since the Pakistani PM is suffering from Modiphobia, he is mentioning Modi, Kashmir and India in all his speeches. And now, Imran Khan has added Islam in his speeches to regain his fast losing support among the common people. He is trying to project himself as a Maulana better than the real one.

On the situation in Kashmir, Imran Khan appears to be totally off the mark. He is daydreaming about millions of Kashmiris coming out on the streets, but the fact is that on Friday, the shops were open, people were busy shopping and there was normal traffic on the roads. Clearly, his advisers are misleading him. Imran Khan may change his outlook if he gives a close look at the ground realities in Kashmir.

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Why PM said, revoking Article 370 was a fitting tribute to Sardar Patel

AKB1909On the birth anniversary of India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a gathering at Kevadiya, Gujarat, that the revocation of Article 370 granting special status to Jammu & Kashmir was a fitting tribute to the memory of the ‘Iron Man’.

Speaking to people at the feet of the world’s tallest statue of Sardar Patel, Modi said, ‘Article 370 had created a wall in Kashmir promoting separatism and terrorism, and I am here today to humbly tell Sardar Patel that the wall has been demolished. I dedicate the August 5 decision to revoke Article 370 to the memory of Sardar Patel.’

India’s first Home Minister holds the distinction of merging 565 princely states in the Indian Union. He completed his task successfully leaving no room for future dispute. India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had taken the responsibility of merging Jammu & Kashmir in the Indian Union. Nehru decided to give special status to J&K under Article 370 along with a separate flag and a separate Constitution. Patel had opposed the move at that time. He wanted a united and secure India, but the Kashmir dispute continued to be a vexed problem for the last 72 years.

For more than 70 years, none of the governments at the Centre mustered the courage to revoke Article 370 and Article 35A that gave the J&K government special powers under a separate Constitution. J&K continued to exist with a separate flag, a separate Constitution and separate emblem. It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who showed the courage to revoke these articles from the Constitution and integrated J&K with the rest of India. This is certaintly the biggest tribute to the memory of Sardar Patel and all credit should go to Modi for achieving this feat.

It was a coincidence that on the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel, Jammu & Kashmir was formally bifurcated on Thursday as two new union territories of the Indian Union. The event was hailed by PM Modi who said this move would bring political stability and end corruption in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.