Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Let us exercise restraint over murder of a Hindu leader in Lucknow

AKB2509 A local Hindu outfit leader Kamlesh Tiwari was brutally murdered by two persons in Lucknow on Friday and the Uttar Pradesh police has formed a Special Task Force to investigate and nab the accused. Tiwari was shot and stabbed, and his throat was slit by the assassins. Latest reports said that three suspects have been nabbed in this connection by Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad in Surat, while the two murderers are yet to be arrested.

Kamlesh Tiwari had set up a political outfit named Hindu Samaj Party. In the recent past, he had courted controversy by making disparaging remarks against Islam and Prophet Mohammad. Two Islamic clerics from Bijnor had offered a bounty of Rs 1.5 crore on his head in 2008.

The murder triggered protests in Lucknow and sparked outrage on social media. The UP police DGP has promised to probe the murder from all angles, and has promised stringent action against the murderers. Defence Minister and Lucknow MP Rajnath Singh spoke to the DGP and DM and asked them to take prompt action.

I would appeal to all those who are spreading outrage on social media to exercise patience and wait for the outcome of police probe. It is a fact that there were several cases pending against Kamlesh Tiwari and he had been receiving threats to his life. Some vested interests are trying to whip up communal tension through social media after this heinous murder. We should be wary of their machinations and wait for the police to complete its probe.

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Why are the Congress workers totally demoralized?

Aaj Ki BaatEven as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and the entire galaxy of top BJP leaders are busy campaigning for the assembly polls in Haryana and Maharashtra, the main opposition party Congress has cut a sorry figure.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi did not address a single election rally in either of the states. One can understand that her health does not permit her to go out on campaign, but what about her daughter Priyanka Vadra and son Rahul Gandhi?

Priyanka Vadra is confined to her home state of Uttar Pradesh and she did not address a single election rally in either Haryana or Maharashtra.

The party’s star campaigner Rahul Gandhi, after spending private time in a Southeast Asian country, returned home and spent barely two days addressing election meetings. At his meetings, Rahul delivered speeches that were given almost six months back, raising old and dead issues like Rafale deal. He did not address a single election rally during the last two days.

Naturally, Congress workers are feeling demoralized, with party leaders either jumping ship or divided into camps in both states. A sorry state of affairs in the 134-year-old party that ruled India for several decades.

On the other hand, leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi with limited reach are addressing more rallies with focus on pockets where they have a strong influence. Leaders like Owaisi can harm the fortunes of NCP and Congress in a large number of constituencies in Maharashtra.

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Let all sides refrain from comments till SC gives its verdict on Ayodhya

akb2308The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on the 150-year-old Ayodhya dispute after 40-day-long marathon arguments by lawyers from both sides. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, heading the five-judge Constitution Bench, will be retiring on November 17 and the apex court is expected to deliver its verdict by that date.

The verdict will be given on cross-appeals filed by Hindu and Muslim parties who have been embroiled for the last 70 years claiming ownership over the 2.77 acre disputed site. These parties have challenged the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict dividing the disputed land equally among Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and UP Sunni Waqf Board.

The apex court asked parties to file by Saturday written submissions on how it could mould relief granted by the High Court. There were theatrics on the last day of hearing when lawyer Rajeev Dhavan representing Muslim parties tore into pieces a map which Hindu Mahasabha had cited as depicting the “exact location of Lord Ram’s birthplace”. Dhavan later said he tore up the map because the Chief Justice told him he could tear it off if he found it irrelevant.

There was confusion in the morning when it was initially reported that the UP Sunni Waqf Board has agreed to withdraw its appeal. The Waqf Board chief later denied this report. However, in another development, the SC-appointed mediation panel has reportedly informed the apex court in a sealed cover that the Muslim parties have agreed to give up their claim on the land for the construction of Ram temple. The report said, parties who signed the settlement included the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirvani Akhara, Hindu Mahasabha and Ram Janmasthan Punarudhar Samiti.

The most significant part of all that has transpired before the apex court is that the Constitution Bench patiently gave a hearing to all parties in the dispute. Both the sides admitted that the apex court heard their arguments in full. There should now be no room for complaints when the apex court gives its historic verdict next month.

I sincerely hope all sides will respect the SC verdict on Ayodhya. However, all parties need to be careful not to give credence to speculations, rumours or provocative remarks that could unnecessarily fuel emotions among the people. All sides should refrain from making objectionable comments till the time the apex court delivers its judgement.

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Why Modi said, Xi Jinping liked Aamir Khan movie ‘Dangal’

akbTrust Prime Minister Narendra Modi to connect issues that matter to common voters. On Tuesday, while addressing a BJP election rally in Charkhi Dadri, Haryana, Modi revealed that the Chinese President Xi Jinping told him during an informal meeting that he had seen Bollywood star Aamir Khan’s superhit movie ‘Dangal’.

Charkhi Dadri happens to be the hometown of the Phogat sisters, on whose real life story was the movie ‘Dangal’ made. Babita Phogat, the female Indian wrestler who won silver medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a bronze at the 2012 World Wrestling Championship. Her sister Geeta is the first female Indian wrestler to win a gold at Commonwealth Games. Babita Phogat has been fielded by BJP from Dadri assembly constituency against seasoned politicians from opposition parties.

The movie ‘Dangal’ is the highest-grossing non-English foreign film in China, which has so far earned $216.2 million in that country alone. The movie was watched more than 400 million times on Chinese video streaming platforms. No wonder that the Chinese President thought it fit to watch the movie.

At the rally, Modi said: “During an informal meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping told me that he had seen ‘Dangal’ and it made me proud. Mhare Chhori Chhoron Se Kam Hai Ke? (Are our girls any less than the boys)”

Describing the girls of Haryana as ‘dhaakad’ (strong), Modi said his project ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ (Save and Educate the Girl Child) could not have been successful without the help of the villagers of Haryana.

Aamir Khan once told me that the movie ‘Dangal’, in which he did the pivotal role of Mahavir Singh Phogat, father of the Phogat sisters, was a runaway hit in China, and he and the Phogat sisters became household names in that country. This movie has added to Haryana’s popularity in the field of sports. BJP leaders in Haryana are confident that Babita Phogat would win the elections.

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Revocation of Article 370 is irreversible

AKB0410Stepping up his attack on Congress and other opposition parties in Maharashtra and Haryana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday again dared the opposition leaders to declare “if they have guts” in their election manifestos that they would restore provisions of Article 370 and Article 35A in the Constitution if they ever came to power.

Modi alleged that the Congress and other opposition parties were speaking on the lines of the neighbouring country on the issue of Article 370, at a time when the national sentiment is in favour of its revocation.

Modi asked the Congress to explain “its love for Article 370″ to the families of security personnel killed in Kashmir during counter-insurgency operations.

He said, “the brave jawan of Haryana, who was protecting the innocent citizens of Kashmir, fell to bullets of terrorists. His body came back home wrapped in national tricolour. Ask those mothers how many sons of the soil lost their lives because of your love for Article 370. Ask how many were widowed and how many children were orphaned.”

It is true that Modi can correctly feel the pulse of the people. He takes hard decisions keeping the interests of people in his mind. He also knows how to use, when to use and where to use the outcome of such decisions for political gains. No other contemporary Indian leader has mastered this art better than Modi.

Modi knows that political leaders in the last 70 years clearly lacked the guts to revoke Article 370 giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Naturally, under present circumstances, one can ask, which leader has the guts to say that he would work for reversing the revocation of Article 370.

That is why, I say, Modi’s decision on Article 370 is historic and irreversible. Such a hard decision was essential to bring the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the national mainstream, so that the fruits of development can reach each and every Kashmiri.

Already the results are showing. Youths are turning up in large numbers in police and army recruitment drives, girls are turning up for recruitment as Special Police Officers, and the young Kashmiri generation, which wants peace in the Valley, has for the first time been spared the atmosphere of hopelessness created by the political parties. Article 370 now lies in the dustbin of history, as a painful relic of the past.

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How Modi, Xi have taken India-China relations to a new level

akb2308History was being written on the seashore of Mahabalipuram near Chennai on Friday, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at a two-day informal summit and discussed bilateral and regional issues amidst verdant surroundings.

A one-on-one dinner between the two leaders near the historic Shore Temple, earlier scheduled for one hour, stretched on for over two-and-a-half hours, with both statesmen sharing their visions of development and discussed issues relating to trade and terrorism.

According to Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, Modi told Xi that his renewed mandate was for economic development, and the Chinese leader responded by saying that he was ready to work closely with the Indian PM. The atmospherics and personal chemistry reflected the “personal rapport” between the two leaders, said Gokhale.

It was an idyllic setting in the backdrop of a 1,400-year-old temple complex, with Modi donning a white shirt and veshti that sent a strong message with political overtones to the people of Tamil Nadu.

As the bilateral meetings resumed on Saturday morning before Xi leaves for Nepal, the indications were clear. Indian embassy on Friday relaxed visa rules for Chinese citizens allowing them multiple-entry 5-year visa at affordable rates.

With the world watching the Modi-Xi informal summit closely, the signs that emanate are clear. China, embroiled in a bitter trade dispute with the US, seeks India’s support, and India wants to wean China away from its all-weather friend Pakistan.

The body language of the Chinese leader on Friday clearly indicated that Xi understands India’s position on issues like terrorism, Kashmir and CPEC, and wants to take India-China relations to another level.

Both Modi and Xi have changed the matrix of India-China negotiations. Till 2014, the leaders of both countries used to stick to stiff and formal protocols, with little talk and more posturing. That has changed after Modi took over and launched his personal style of diplomacy with world leaders.

The ease with which both the leaders met, walked and talked clearly indicates that India-China relations have reached a new high. Never had Xi Jinping showed such bonhomie and ease with any world leader of repute. Whether it was Gujarat, or Wuhan or Mahabalipuram, the tone has been set as India and China embark on a new phase of peace and friendship.

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What one should expect from Modi-Xi summit

akb2308As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping sit down for their informal summit in the seaside town of Mamallapuram (old name Mahabalipuram) near Chennai, all eyes will be on the issues that the two leaders are going to take up.

After the informal summit in Wuhan, China, it was decided that Xi would come to India for another informal summit with Modi. The historic town of Mamallapuram was chosen by Chinese experts as this 7th-8th century capital of Pallava kings had sea trade links with China.

Modi is considered a master of the art of informal diplomacy. His informal meetings with world statesmen like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping are known for his personal touch and these have already created waves in the world arena. Modi was lavishly treated to Chinese hospitality during his visit to Wuhan last year, and it was then that he decided to return the hospitality to the Chinese leader in India.

This ‘informal’ dimension is a new phenomenon in Indian diplomacy, almost unheard of till 2014. Almost all meetings of Indian leaders with world statesmen had over the years been structured and formal, and it goes to the credit of Modi that he has started this new trend of informal summits.

Apart from diplomacy, there is vision behind such informal summits. By showcasing places of historical interest to world leaders, Modi kindles worldwide interest of tourists about beautiful places in India. This gives a boost to local tourism and investment. The other benign byproduct of such visits is the development of infrastructure at such tourist resorts. This facilitates both Indian and foreign tourists as also the local tourist industry.

Modi will personally guide Xi through the famous monuments of Arjuna’s Penance, Panch Rathas and the Shore Temple, besides watching Bharatnatyam dance. He will be showing Chinese coins that have been unearthed in Mamallapuram by archaeologists that establish the 7th century connection of Pallava dynasty with the Chinese empire.

There is no structured agenda on the table, and the two leaders along with their advisers will discuss serious issues that affect both the region in particular and the world at large. Trade and security appear to be on top of the agenda. One should hope that the two big powers of Asia, representing nearly two-thirds of humanity, will come to a mutually beneficial understanding.

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Why Congress leaders are unhappy over Rahul ‘walking away’

AKB1010 Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Wednesday in an interview to a news agency, made caustic remarks about the present state of the party. He said, “Our biggest problem is our leader (Rahul) has walked away. It has kind of left a vacuum. Sonia Gandhi stepped in, but there is more than an indication that she is treating herself as a stop-gap arrangement. I wish it wasn’t so.”
This remark comes at a time when party leader Rahul Gandhi is busy doing ‘vipassana’ meditation in Cambodia leaving the Congress party in the lurch, right in the midst of the crucial assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana. There is hardly any indication about Rahul returning in time for the election campaign.
This has caused consternation among party workers and leaders, who are already facing the colossal might of the BJP, already entrenched in power in these two key states.
It is really surprising that Rahul Gandhi left on vacation at a crucial time, when two of his close confidantes, Sanjay Nirupam in Maharashtra and Ashok Tanwar in Haryana, have raised the banner of revolt against the party high command. Everybody expected Rahul to stay in India and persuade these leaders, as both the state units of the Congress are wracked with groupism and dissension.
Rahul may not be the party chief now, but he had been the party president and prime ministerial candidate in the recent past and had steered the party for more than five years. Moreover, he is the son and political heir of the present party chief Sonia Gandhi.
If a person of the stature of Rahul leaves the party to its own fate, how can party workers accept him as a strong leader. The true test of a leader is at the time of crisis. The sooner Rahul Gandhi understand this, the better.
So long as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in power, the Congress will continue to face challenges. However, the lackadaisical attitude of Rahul is not the only problem facing the Congress.
There is a serious crisis in the Congress party over the issue of taking stand on matters of national importance. The party leadership appears to be confused, particularly on issues like Balakot air strike, acquisition of Rafale fighter planes and revocation of Article 370.
When the Indian Air Force successfully carried out strikes on terror camps at Balakot inside Pakistan, Rahul Gandhi was in a dilemma – whether to support of oppose the action. Several senior Congress leaders questioned the IAF’s claim about success in the air strike.
Similarly, at a time when the nation was united on the issue of revoking Article 370 giving special status to Jammu & Kashmir, the Congress appeared to be confused – whether to support of oppose? Ultimately it had to fall in line and accept the Modi government’s action.
On the issue of acquisition of Rafale fighter planes, Rahul went to town and made it an election issue. He levelled serious charges against PM Modi but had no facts and evidence to support his charge. The Congress had to bite the dust at the hustings.
Similarly, on Dussehra day, when the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh performed ‘shastra puja’ in France during the hand over of the first Rafale plane to IAF, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge described it as a “tamasha”.
From time immemorial, ‘shastra puja’ has been a regular feature during Dussehra in India, and the Indian Defence Minister performing the pooja during the hand over was part of an annual ritual.
By describing this as a “tamasha”, the Congress is harming its fortunes, particularly at a time when voters will be going to cast their votes in Maharashtra and Haryana. There appears to be either lack of coordination among senior Congress leaders or there is a state of disarray and confusion in the party leadership because of the absence of a strong High Command. The sooner the Congress party puts its act together, the better.

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All credit for acquiring Rafale aircraft goes to PM Modi

AKB_frame_790 (002)India received its first French-made fourth generation Rafale fighter jet in Tuesday with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh flying a sortie after the hand over. This is the first of 36 Rafale fighters to be delivered to India. The deliveries will be over in the next five years.

India is the fourth country after France, Qatar and Egypt to have the Rafale fighter aircraft in its air force. The new Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal R. K. S. Bhadauria said, Rafale will surely be a “game changer” for the IAF. The aircraft’s strength lies in its advanced radar and an array of Meteor, Scalp and Mica missiles.

The Scalp missile has a range of 300 kilometres. It is an air-launched, stand-off missile aimed at targeting high-value assets like airbases, radar installations, communication hubs and port facilities. The Mica is a beyond visual range stealth interceptor missile. The Meteor is a beyond visual range air-to-air missile.

One should appreciate Rajnath Singh, at the age of 68, flying a sortie with the Rafale aircraft. It shows his mental agility and physical fitness. He sat inside the aircraft not as a passenger, but as a co-pilot. He gave the ‘thumbs up’ salute before he flew. The Raksha Mantri was wearing G suit and helmet. It is a visual that shall remain etched in our memory forever.

The Indian Air Force has been demanding this fourth generation fighter aircraft for the last 20 years. The first NDA government under Prime Minister A B Vajpayee had started the negotiation process, but the UPA came to power in 2004, and put a halt to this. For ten long years, the Ministry of Defence procrastinated and when Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister in 2014, the process was put back on track at a faster pace. Modi personally went to Paris and it was decided to buy 36 fighter aircraft off-the-shelf because of IAF’s urgent requirements.

The Congress led by Rahul Gandhi made the Rafale acquisition a big election issue in 2019, but Narendra Modi stood firm in his resolve to acquire the aircraft for the IAF. All credit for acquiring the Rafale aircraft thus goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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How Pakistan is instigating protesters to cross LoC

akb0810 India TV in its show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Monday night showed visuals of hundreds of protesters marching towards the Line of Control with the intent of crossing over to Kashmir valley “to express solidarity”. This is nothing but a desperate gambit by the Pakistani establishment in order to cause conflagration on its border with India. Most of the Pakistani politicians, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, have been egging on these ‘jihadi’ protesters to march towards the LoC for the last several days.

After failing to get international support on Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly, Pakistan has now resorted to fomenting violence and tension near the LoC. Its army has failed in infiltrating terrorists into the valley in the face of utmost vigil by our security forces.

Till now, the Pakistani politicians have managed to gather hardly three to four thousand protesters to march towards the LoC in the last three days. Pakistan PM Imran Khan had earlier given a call to these protesters to march towards LoC, but later realizing the repercussions, he had quickly appealed to them not to move.

It was Imran Khan who had asked the protesters to wait till he returned from the UN General Assembly. After returning empty handed, Imran Khan has now asked supporters to go ahead with their march.

The Pakistani leadership had hoped that millions of people would come out to join the march, but it did not happen. Only a few thousand protesters assembled, began their march from Bhimbher Gali near the LoC, and went up to the POK capital Muzaffarabad, where their number dwindled further. The protesters have now reached Chakothi, near the LoC.

The Pakistani establishment understands the legal position that crossing an international border is a serious offence. To hoodwink the international media, it has therefore put large containers manned by armed policemen to block the protesters.

This is nothing but a charade, because the Pakistani army wants the protest march to swell in numbers, so that violence can be instigated, particularly near those border outposts, where cross border firing has been going on for several months.

The Pakistani establishment has appointed ring leaders to egg on the innocent villagers taking part in the march to walk towards the LoC, but most of the protesters are unwilling to go further. The Pakistani authorities have practically abandoned them to their fate.

India TV showed several protesters denouncing the Pakistani army and political leaders, for pushing them towards death without any food or logistical support. At least two protesters said on India TV that most of the bazaars in the towns of Chakothi, Muzaffarabad and other places were closed down in a hurry, so that they could be deprived of food. One of them complained that the “army has sent us to kabristan (burial sites)”.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan is facing twin challenges: one, how to convince the common Pakistanis to trust his leadership, and two, how to maintain a cordial balance with the all-powerful army.

He has already admitted his failure in garnering international support on the Kashmir issue, and is now hell bent on keeping the issue alive, by instigating his own people. Imran Khan knows that his days will be numbered the moment the Kashmir issue fizzles out.

The despatching of innocent villagers masquerading as protesters towards the LoC is a last ditch attempt by a beleagured Prime Minister, but this is also bound to fail. Imran Khan is now staring at the ominous writing on the wall.

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Pakistan should heed to new IAF chief’s warning

akb The new Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria has given an oblique warning to Pakistan not to resort to any terror misadventure in view of bilateral tension over abrogation of Article 370 by India.

On Friday, the IAF issued a promotional video which showed the air strike power of our air force. The video has clips of people expressing anger after the Pulwama terror attack, a few shots of officers sitting in a war room planning an operation, followed by clips of Mirage fighter jets taking off. There are also a few clips of IAF jets destroying terrorist bases and a couple of satellite images showing the areas which were hit.

The Air Chief was quick to clarify that it was not a video of Balakot air strike, but was a promotional video for Air Force Day (October 8). But the accompanying remarks of the IAF chief should act as a warning to Pakistan.

The Air Chief said, “we were prepared then, we will be prepared next time, we will be ready to face any challenge, any threat”. He also said, the air force is aware of the reports (of Pakistan reactivating terror camps at Balakot), and we will take necessary action as and when required.

We must recall what Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said while addressing the UN General Assembly. He had claimed that the IAF could only destroy eight or ten trees in Balakot, and there was no other damage. The fact is that the IAF completely destroyed the Jaish terror camps that were active in Balakot using the latest smart bombs. Till this date, Pakistan army has not allowed mediapersons to visit the destroyed terror base in Balakot freely.

Imran Khan had also warned at the UNGA that terror groups may launch more attacks inside India after the abrogation of Article 370. The Indian Air Chief has now given his reply effectively, both through words and pictures.

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Why Shiv Sena decided to field Aaditya Thackeray in assembly polls

AKB0410 On Thursday, 29-year-old Aaditya Thackeray became the first scion of Thackeray clan to enter electoral politics. Shiv Sena, the party founded by his grandfather Balasaheb Thackeray, has fielded the young leader from Mumbai’s prestigious Worli constituency.

Shiv Sena was founded in 1966 by Aditya’s grandfather Balasaheb Thackeray, and in the last 53 years, the party had never fielded any member of the Thackeray clan to contest elections. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray went to the Returning Officer with his son Aaditya for filing nomination papers.

Since this was a historic moment, the party threw its entire weight to stage a big road show as hundreds of drum-beating Shiv Sainiks took part in the march from Lower Parel to Worli. Uddhav Thackeray’s wife Rashmi and other senior ministers were also present.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis rang up Aaditya Thackeray to congratulate him for entering the electoral fray. On his part, Aaditya posted on social media a picture of him bowing before a portrait of Balasaheb Thackeray before leaving home to file the nomination.

Uddhav Thackeray never contested elections in his life nor did his father Balasaheb Thackeray. With the changing times, Uddhav has now decided to veer away from family tradition as he wants his son to take up his mantle after going through the rough and tumble of electoral politics.

Aaditya has been fielded from Worli, a Shiv Sena stronghold in Mumbai, and it will surely send a good message to his party supporters, both in India’s financial capital and in the hugely populated suburbs surrounding Mumbai.

Already, Shiv Sena leaders have started projecting Aaditya as their chief ministerial candidate, but nobody can predict how the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance will perform in this month’s assembly polls. In the end, it will all depend on the number of seats that the Shiv Sena and its bigger ally BJP are going to win.

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