The last week has been a rather hectic one for the people of India as its parliament has argued over and finally passed a controversial bill on nuclear energy. During the fractious conflict a new figure has emerged on the political scene, Mayawati, leader of the Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath community and chief minister of the populous northern Uttar Pradesh state. She has become a symbol of empowerment for the oppressed Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath group which long has been mistreated and treated like in demeaning ways. As an Indian official in Uttar Pradesh noted: “ When she is in power, district officials, police, everyone treats Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath with more respect.” She rose from the slums, battled discrimination due to being a woman and a Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa, that is the Graet Prabuddha Bharath , gained an education, became a lawyer, and then assumed leadership of the Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP).
Many political analysts believe she has the capability of one day becoming a prime minister of India. Such a victory would be analogous to that of Barack Obama becoming president of the United States of America. One problem is the source of her now considerable wealth, she claims it comes from gifts of those who admire her work, but there is always the possibility in India the money comes from sources of corruption.
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No surprise if a Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa, that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath leader becomes prime minister after 2009 elections: Karat
Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 1 (ANI): General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Prakash Karat has said that his party would not be surprised if an “Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa,that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath (Scheduled Caste/ untouchable)” politician emerged as the front-runner for the prime ministerial berth after 2009 elections.
On being asked about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati becoming Prime Minister, Karat said: “I am not ready to say anything because it is too premature, you see. After all in this country, we have had prime ministers who people never expected will be prime minister.”
A day after the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government recently won a vote of confidence, Mayawati, known as the “Queen of Original Inhabitant of Jambudvipa,that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath (Scheduled Caste/ untouchable)”, had gone on record that ten main regional opposition parties were coming together for the 2009 General Elections.
The confidence vote was triggered by the withdrawal of support to the UPA Government’’s Left allies to protest against a civil nuclear deal with the United States.
Mayawati has emerged as one of the strongest organisers of the opposition to the ruling coalition, and her influence appears to be growing. She rose to prominence after her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won an outright majority in the UP Assembly Elections last year.
Karat said his party was not eying a “Third Front”, as an alternative to the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, as a pre-poll combination to take on the two.
“We have not talked about the Third alternative, be very clear about it. Our parties understanding of the Third alternative is not some combination to fight elections,” Karat said.
In the past, such groupings lacked a common platform and were unable to win enough support to form stable governments. They generally hold the balance of power rather than lead the country. (ANI)No reason why Mayawati can’t be PM: Gowda
New Delhi: Janata Dal (Secular) chief H.D. Deve Gowda said on Thursday that he was not against Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati becoming the Prime Minister.
“She is the Chief Minister of the largest State in the country. If she can rule U.P., I see no reason why she cannot administer the country,” he toldC.M. grieved over the death of Harkishan Singh Surjeet Lucknow: August 01, 2008 The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Ms. Mayawati has expressed profound grief over the passing away of veteran leader and former General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (M), Mr. Harkishan Singh Surjeet. In a condolence message, the Chief Minister said that the late leader always struggled for the rights of workers, labourers, farmers and other deprived sections. She said that his association with the labour organisations and his contribution towards the interests of the workers/labourers would always be remembered. For almost a decade, he played an important role in the politics at the Centre. He played a decisive role in the formation of non-Congress and non-BJP governments. The C.M. said that the society had suffered an irreparable loss in his death. The Chief Minister has conveyed her heartfelt condolences and deep sympathies to the bereaved members of his family and prayed for peace to the departed soul. It may be recalled that Harkishan Singh Surjeet passed away in a private hospital at NOIDA today. He was 92. ******* Lucknow: July 31, 2008 The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Ms. Mayawati has expressed profound grief over the passing away of Manorama Birla, wife of Dr. K.K. Birla, Chairman Hindustan Times Group and mother of Mrs. Shobhana Bhartia, Editorial Director of the Hindustan Times. In a condolence message, the Chief Minister described Mrs. Birla as a prominent social worker. She said that late Manorama Birla was associated with several educational and social organisations and her contribution in the field of education and social work would always be remembered. She was associated with leading technical educational institutions like the ‘Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi’ and Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, Pilani. She said that in her death the society had suffered an irreparable loss. The Chief Minister has conveyed her heartfelt condolences and deep sympathies to the bereaved members of her family and prayed for peace to the departed soul. It may be recalled that Manorama Birla had passed away on Tuesday night in a hospital in Kolkata. ******* D.M. appoints Pushpa Lata as assistant under Angan Bari Programme Lucknow: July 30, 2008 The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ms. Mayawati has sanctioned an assistance of Rs. 50,000 for Ms. Pushpa Lata Gupta of Thatheri Gali in Deoria city from Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund. She is the daughter of freedom fighter late Mohan Lal Gupta. Besides, the Chief Minister also directed D.M. Ballia to provide permanent means of employment to the physically challenged daughter of the late freedom fighter. Following C.M.’s orders, the D.M., after considering Pushpa Lata’s educational qualifications, has appointed her as an assistant under the Angan Bari Programme. She would get a monthly honorarium of Rs. 750. It may be recalled that when the C.M. came to know that Pushpa Lata Gupta, the daughter of late freedom fighter Mohan Lal Gupta of Deoria district, was begging for her survival, she took the matter seriously and directed the D.M. Deoria to provide all possible help to Ms. Gupta. The Chief Minister said that she had given strict orders to all the D.M.s to provide all possible help to poor and destitute under various welfare schemes run by the government. ******
C.M. strongly condemns Banglore and Ahmedabad terrorist incidents
Lucknow: July 29, 2008 The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Ms. Mayawati has strongly condemned the terrorist incidents of Bangalore and Ahmedabad recently on behalf of Bahujan Samaj Party and her government, in which massive human and property loss occurred. She said that taking a serious note of it, directives have been issued to administration for remaining alert, so that no untoward incident could take place. The Chief Minister was addressing the media persons at her official residence here today. She appealed to the people of the state for cooperating the government to face the challenge of terrorists in the state. She said that if any doubtful object came under their observation or anybody activities seems to be doubtful or any information they had regarding it, then they should immediately inform to the nearest police station. ********
The day after the India-US Nuclear agreement debate and the vote of confidence: tough going for India and the Indian governmentJuly 29, 2008 by gkalyanaram
The day after winning the vote of confidence/trust, the prospects look tough for the Indian government. Here is why –
(1) 123 agreement and India-US Nuclear agreement: The 123 agreement and the India-US Nuclear agreement approvals themselves are fraught with many uncetainties. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board is likely to approve the India-specific safeguards. While the Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG) is likely to approve an exemption for India, the language of such exemption is likely to be fraught with many dissatisfying elements for India. Further, the final (delayed, though) approval by the U.S. Congress is also likely to have unfavorable collateral elements for India. Furthermore, most members of the NSG are not likely to sell/supply nuclear fuel and technology unless the U.S. Congress approves the agreement.
So there are likely to be more challenges than benefits in the short term for India and the Indian government.
(2) Terrorism: In the last month, the fear of terrorism has become real, immediate and urgent. The Indian embassy in Kandahar was bombed, and then series of deadly blasts shook the cities of Bangalore and Ahmedabad. In the midst of this, the Indian government has looked a bit out of sorts.
(3) Tough Economic times: The difficult economic times are not easy to manage. The pressures on inflation are likely to continue. While the oil prices may come down some, the general inflationary pressures are not likely to abate for the next 6-8 months. The trade deficit and the balance of payments are worsening, and the Indian Rupee is depreciating. The U.S. economy — by far the largest economy in the world — is expected to be sluggish for the next two and three quarters, and this will have a collateral negative impact on India too. So, even if the Indian government acts most competently and timey, the tough ecconomic times are likley to persist for the next 6-9 months.
(4) Fragile and difficult political coalition: The Communist parties out of the governing coalition, and are insistent that the Congress party and the ruling coalition is at odds with interests of the common man. The Communist parties are likley to form a third political grouping with other parties such as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), and more. The fragmentation of the opponents of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the supporters of the Congress party and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is not good political news for the governing coalition. Additionally, the ruling coalition has to make room to share power with Jharkand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Samajwadi Party (SP), and this is certain to cause heatburns.
(5) Liberalization policies: The proposals to further liberalize the Indian economy are fraught with immediate economic uncertainty and politial pitfalls. For example, if the government proposes to make recruitment andd retrencchment of employees more market-oriented and less regulated, that’s a good proposal in the medium and longer term. However, the life of this government is short - it will have to face the electorate in the 8-9 months.
The proposed labor policies, for example, will lead to the inevitable perception that the government is anti-labor and therefore anti-common person is inenvitable. That will be politically devastating. Economically, too, the short-term effect of such a policy is more likely negative because firms are likley to shed to exccess fat to become profitable.
So it goes with any liberalization policy (e.g, the productivity of the capital, increasing foreign equity participation). The short terms are likley to be unfavorable to the ruling coalition.
(6) Facing the electorate in 8-9 months: There is no choice in this — the ruling coalition has to face the electorate in the next 8-9 months. That is plenty of time to be blamed for tough economic times, and not enough time for the economy to correct itself and/or the government to make productive proposals.
Uncharacteristic aggression. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
A FEW minutes after the announcement in the Lok Sabha on the evening of July 22 that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had won the vote of confidence, a few journalists caught up with External Affairs Minister Pranab Kumar Mukherjee in the corridors of the Parliament House. He said: “It is a legal, constitutional and political victory for the government. The vote of confidence has not only cleared the way for the government to go forward with the India-U.S. nuclear deal in a rightful manner but has also accorded political sanction to the agreement since a majority of legislators of the Indian Parliament have put their stamp of approval on it.”
When some journalists pointed out that the win seemed to suffer from a lack of moral authority on account of the unseemly cash-for-vote allegations, Mukherjee responded that an inquiry would be conducted into the allegations and promised appropriate action if anything amiss was found.
Obviously, the veteran politician was not as audacious as his new ally, Samajwadi Party (S.P.) general secretary Amar Singh, who addressed the moral authority question with characteristic nonchalance. He said there was no need to invoke a morality parameter in this matter as sections of the opposition also tried to induce ruling party members to go over to their side and defeat the government.
There is little doubt that the spate of issues relating to the trust vote – how it was won, the methods adopted to make parties and Members of Parliament fall in line, the legal, constitutional, political and moral validity of the entire process – would be debated in the public sphere for long.
Whatever the qualitative dimensions of this debate, it will not alter the fundamental facts of the trust vote, which the UPA won with 275 votes against the Opposition’s 256 in a House of 542 members (including the Speaker). There were 10 abstentions too.
But beyond these irrefutable statistics, the claims about the political and moral authority of the win have not found many takers. Interestingly, even a section of leaders and workers of the Congress, cutting across the different segments of the party hierarchy, agrees that the ruling dispensation has not made any real political gain out of the win.
The trust vote witnessed as many as 28 members defying the whip of their parties and siding with the opposite camp. Of them, 21 belonged to the Opposition parties and seven to the government side. Of the 21 Opposition members, 13 voted for the government and eight abstained or remained absent from the House. Of the 21, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) accounted for 13 members, including eight from the BJP, and the non-NDA opposition parties for the rest.
Of the seven from the ruling side who voted with the Opposition, six belonged to the S.P. and all of them had long-standing differences with the S.P. leadership. For the record, they claimed that their party had opposed the nuclear deal until the first week of June and that the shift in policy was not acceptable to them. Kuldeep Bishnoi, the Congress member who voted against the UPA, has had a running battle with the party leadership for long.
Leaders of the BJP, including the party’s prime ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani, indicated that the primary motivation for the crossing over was money. They added that they had deputed the three members – Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mohan Bhagora – who displayed wads of money in the Lok Sabha to expose the money-peddling politics.
The BJP leadership’s contention on the motivation for the crossing over stands to reason because none of those members has a significant political support base in his respective State. This is true of other members in the NDA as well as in the non-NDA parties. The crossing over of these members to the UPA does not make any value addition to the Congress or the UPA in concrete terms.
The dimensions of this deficiency becomes all the more striking in the context of the politics in the days immediately following the Left parties’ withdrawal of support to the UPA government. The Left formally withdrew support on July 9 and the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led S.P. formally announced its support to the UPA the same day. This was not a dramatic or unexpected development because the S.P. had been negotiating with sections of the Congress leadership and the two parties had worked out a broad agreement on a political deal nearly a month earlier. The Congress leadership’s calculation at that time was that with the S.P. on board they would be able to convince Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), H.D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular) and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), a former member of the UPA in the present Lok Sabha, without much problem. In fact, several Congress leaders even claimed that these parties were natural allies of the Congress.
Calculation gone wrong
The main political players. (From left) Mulayam Singh Yadav of the S.P., Prakash Karat of the CPI(M), Mayawati of the BSP and L.K. Advani of the BJP.
When the process of wooing these parties began, the inducement for Ajit Singh came in the form of naming the Lucknow airport after his father, former Prime Minister Choudhary Charan Singh. The JD(S) had already started cooperating with the Congress in Karnataka after the drubbing that both parties received at the hands of the BJP in the Assembly elections held in May. The two parties had joined hands in a Rajya Sabha election last month. The negotiations with the JD(S) and the TRS apparently involved the entry of these parties into the Union Cabinet. In spite of all this, the three parties refused to come to the aid of the Congress.
The parties backtracked on the basis of discussions they had with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who heads the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). She made the offer of a political alignment to the three parties, with the principal aim of fighting the next elections together. It was an offer that was hard to resist, given the significant Dalit base that the BSP has across Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
The parties then decided to stay away from the Congress and be part of a third formation, which was to include the Left parties, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and a few other regional parties such as the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
As this development shows, the ruling Congress was not able to win over a new political ally in the run-up to the trust vote, while parties that were not in government at the Centre were able to come together as part of a combination that would fight elections and take up people’s issues together.
A day after the trust vote, the parties in the new grouping met in New Delhi and announced the launch of a mass campaign against the UPA government highlighting issues such as price rise and inflation, the anti-national nature of the India-U.S. nuclear deal and the negative fallout of the neoliberal economic policies.
According to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, the UPA leadership was indeed rattled by the failure to rope in parties such as the RLD, the JD(S) and the TRS, but it breathed a sigh of relief when the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), with its five members, took a firm position supporting the Manmohan Singh government.
By all indications, the operation to bring around the JMM involved some outrageous bargaining, which was qualitatively not much different from the exercises to win over Opposition MPs with individual allurements. The JMM is officially a constituent of the UPA in Jharkhand, but in the run-up to the trust vote its leadership negotiated simultaneously with the NDA and the UPA.
Both sides made big offers to JMM supremo Shibu Soren. While the NDA was ready to make him the Chief Minister of Jharkhand by engineering the collapse of the Madhu Koda-led government, the UPA had to give a firm commitment that it would induct Soren into the Union Cabinet at the earliest.
Soren was Coal Minister in the UPA government but was compelled to resign in November 2006 following his conviction in a murder case. The Jharkhand leader was acquitted in August 2007 but the UPA leadership apparently would not take him back into the Ministry on moral grounds. The Congress and UPA leadership had to abdicate that high moral position in order to rustle up the JMM votes for the July 22 trial of strength.
PTI/COURTESY LOK SABHA TV
BJP members show wads of money in the Lok Sabha on July 22 during the special session called to test the majority of the Manmohan Singh government. They alleged that the money was the first instalment of a bribe given to three members to get them to abstain during the confidence vote.
Another political calculation that went awry in the run-up to the trust vote was the one that visualised the isolation of the Left parties following their withdrawal of support to the government. Large sections of the Congress and its partners in the UPA and a number of political pundits and media analysts had held this view. The premise once again was that the RLD, the TRS and the JD(S) were natural allies of the Congress. This supposition took a beating when the Left regrouped successfully in the company of parties that included the BSP, the TDP, the RLD, the TRS and the JD(S).
However, the stand-off that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had with Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee over his resignation became a cause for embarrassment for the Left in general and the CPI(M) in particular. Somnath Chatterjee, defying directions of the CPI(M) leadership, held on to the Speaker’s post and even presided over the vote of confidence discussions. At the end of it all, the CPI(M) ended up expelling Chatterjee from the party while the Speaker continued in his constitutional position.
Already, there are suggestions within the Left that its association with the BSP could prove to be a much more cohesive alliance ideologically and politically than the one it had with the S.P. earlier. This assumption has its roots in the fact that the BSP’s core base is drawn from some of the most oppressed communities of the country. “This should help us develop a better working relationship with the BSP since the Left’s commitment to empowering the oppressed sections is unquestionable, although we have not been able to carry forward this struggle successfully in many North Indian States,” said a senior Left leader to Frontline.
While this optimism can be justified theoretically, it remains to be seen how the equation develops when the corruption cases against Mayawati come up for consideration in the courts and in public debates.
Beyond this, the Left leadership is certain that its anti-UPA campaign along with other parties will help it consolidate its position in Kerala and West Bengal, where the Left is in power. The Left leadership is sure that it can capitalise on the widespread anti-U.S. sentiment in Kerala. It also believes that its stand on the nuclear deal will help it win back at least a section of Muslims, who have moved away from the Left parties following the Nandigram episode in West Bengal.
Even as the new non-BJP, non-Congress grouping is going ahead with its agitation plans, the UPA is also getting set to unleash new initiatives. In his reply to the debate on the trust motion, which he was not allowed to complete, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that over the past four years the Left parties had treated him as a slave and that he was not able to move forward on many of the policies and programmes. The reference must have been to reforms in sectors such as insurance and retail trade, which the Left opposed vehemently.
Manmohan Singh’s performance in Parliament was followed up by the leaders of industry, including organisations such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), who demanded a further thrust to the economic reform process.
Such assertive demands had new qualitative dimensions in the background of allegations that many corporates bankrolled the moves to win over Opposition MPs. Indications from the Congress were that the government would go all out on the reform path in the near future.
The official residence of Chander Bhan Singh, BJP member from Madhya Pradesh who abstained during the confidence vote in Parliament, comes under attack from angry party supporters on July 24.
This, sources in the Congress said, would divide Mayawati and Mishra and lead to the collapse of the government. Once that happened, an alternative would be rustled up by splitting the BSP’s MLAs. The responsibility for conceiving and implementing this project, the sources said, was with select leaders in the party and officers in the government who were once castigated as the “policemen” group by the S.P. leadership. That was between 2003 and 2007 when the S.P. government was sought to be destabilised by the Congress. Ironically, some S.P. leaders may also find a place in the group now.
In Karnataka, where the BJP enjoys a thin majority, “operation topple” is expected to be easier. H.T. Sangliana, the Lok Sabha member from Bangalore North who defected during the trust vote, could be a key player in this. Sangliana, a former Police Commissioner of Bangalore, is immensely popular among the MLAs in and around Bangalore and could well attract a handful of them to his side.
Informed sources said the Congress expected these operations to be completed before September so as to give the party leadership the political cushion to face the next Lok Sabha elections. It seems that the upbeat mood of the confidence vote is developing into political audaciousness.
Reconciling Faith and Politics
“(Obama’s speech on faith) may be the most important pronouncement by a Democrat on faith and politics since John F. Kennedy’s Houston speech in 1960 declaring his independence from the Vatican…Obama offers the first faith testimony I have heard from any politician that speaks honestly about the uncertainties of belief.”
— E.J. Dionne, Op-Ed., Washington Post, June 30, 2006
In June of 2006, Senator Obama delivered what was called the most important speech on religion and politics in 40 years. Speaking before an evangelical audience, Senator Obama candidly discussed his own religious conversion and doubts, and the need for a deeper, more substantive discussion about the role of faith in American life.
Senator Obama also laid down principles for how to discuss faith in a pluralistic society, including the need for religious people to translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values during public debate. In December, 2006, Senator Obama discussed the importance of faith in the global battle against AIDS.