Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has rebuffed the allegation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he is authoritarian in his approach. Participating in a debate at India Today Conclave 2017, Mehbooba said, "I have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi a few times and I have found that he is open to ideas. He is not authoritative." "Contrary to perception and allegations by some PM Modi is not centralised. He wants to make it true federal system in the country. He has the moral authority to do it," Mehbooba said. Mehbooba was in discussion with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Mehbooba also said that the Centre and the state government both need to think about phasing out AFSPA from the Kashmir Valley. Inviting the businessmen and investors from Mumbai in Kashmir Valley, Mehbooba said, "Kashmir is the safest place for women even when encounters are taking place. Come not only to invest. Come to Kashmir with your families."

Taking part in the India Today Conclave 2017 in Mumbai, Devendra Fadnavis kept everyone guessing about him being moving to Delhi as a Union Minister. Responding to a query about the speculation that he could be the next Defence Minister, Fadnavis said, "India Today Conclave has shifted from New Delhi to Mumbai. Why do you want me to move from Mumbai to Delhi?" But, Fadnavis immediately added, "I am a true soldier of party. Whatever our Prime Minister and party president tells me to do, I am ready to do." "Right now I have a job on hand. I am a Chief Minister now. I have Maharashtra on my agenda."

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan asserted that his state no longer belonged to BIMARU state after registering double digit GDP growth rate in the last seven years. Chouhan tried to play down the issue of farmers' suicide in Madhya Pradesh saying, "Only farmers are not committing suicide. Students and businessmen are also committing suicide." "All suicides by the farmers are not due to loan or crop failure. There are other reasons also for farmers' suicide. We remain committed to ameliorate the living conditions of farmers," Chouhan said.

Responding to a query about will July 1 deadline for GST be met, Fadnavis said, "Yes, I am confident. The deadline will be met. GST council has approved it. If political disruption is the motive then I can't say anything." "GST will create a common market. When VAT was introduced, there were concerns and apprehensions were expressed. VAT was a barrier regime. Now we are shifting to non-barrier regime. Barriers were artificially created," Fadnavis said. "We are manufacturing state. As a big manufacturing state, we will lose something. But, at the same time being a big state, we are a big consumer state and there we will gain something," said Fadnavis. "If some states lose more, then we must think that we are one nation. If some backward state gains and some better doing states are losing out, they should be happy. The GST will bring level playing field for everyone. Every state will gain with GST," Fadnavis added.

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti once again defended Article 370. She said every state has a unique situation. Maharashtra has Article 371 there, Jammu and Kashmir has Article 371, she said. "You cannot do away with the regional aspirations. You have seen it after Mandal commission report. You have seen groups of Yadavs, rise of Mayawati and others," Mehbooba said. "For us in Kashmir, India is not a country. It is a universe for us. It is full of diversity, different aspirations and all co-exist. It is the beauty of India," Mehbooba added. Mehbooba said that the Centre has been responsive about the needs of Jammu and Kashmir. "Whenever I have met Union Ministers, be it (Nitin) Gadkari or (Prakash) Javadekar, they have always listened to us and supported us. We have been given whatever we needed," Mehbooba said at India Today Conclave 2017. However, she was quick to add that in cases of international treaties if the states are affected then need to be consulted.

Talking about public anguish over demonetisation, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that he did not see any. Chouhan said, "I go out to people every day. I did not see anyone complaining about demonetisation. No one showed anger. "People were happy with the decision made by PM Modi. They believed in his intention of flushing out black money," Chouhan said. On a related query, Fadnavis said, "The subject matter concerning RBI rests with the Centre and states did not need to be consulted about."

News source: India Today

Published in Politics


NEW DELHI: A host of top level political leaders from Nepal are visiting India from Monday, including former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and deputy Prime Minister Bimalendra Nidhi as well as chief justice of Nepal Sushila Karki. The high level visits come as political tensions intensify in Nepal, amid an ongoing Madhesi crisis. Both Bhattarai and Nidhi are expected to meet the Indian leadership including PM Modi.

The Madhesi issue is flaring up because the Prachanda government has not been able to pass the constitutional amendments necessary, which is one reason why Madhesis have been protesting, as much against their own leaders as against the Kathmandu government. The larger problem is the question of political stability, which is tied up with the unresolved Madhesi question and the longevity of the Prachanda government. By the terms of his deal with Sher Bahadur Deuba, he ought to relinquish power in April, but without local level elections that may not be possible. Madhes politicians are under pressure, both from their constituents as well as Kathmandu — Mahantha Thakur, leader of Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, decided to quit the ruling coalition citing the importance of constitutional amendment as a precondition to staying on. This is being repeated across the spectrum of Terai parties. Another Madhes leader, Bijay Gachchedar joined Prachanda's coalition, along with Kamal Thapa who was named deputy PM. These might add some numbers to the coalition, but he is still short of the necessary votes to pass the constitutional amendment with two-thirds majority. Meanwhile, KP Oli, riding a tide of Nepali hill nationalism and anti-India sentiment appears to be waiting to pick Prachanda government apart.

India's role has become important again, but New Delhi, say analysts, is only focused on keeping Oli out of power. But the political realities of Nepal may make that difficult. This means even Madhesis don't get the kind of attention from India they used to, as the message from India is that they should not rock the boat at the moment. India's envoy to Nepal, Ranjit Rae has just retired, and the new ambassador, Manjeev Singh Puri has just been named to take over in Kathmandu. Nepal might be entering another period of instability again. Last week finance minister Arun Jaitley visited Kathmandu to participate in an investment summit, where he promised that India was ready to invest in projects of Kathmandu-Nijgadh fast track road, second international airport at Nijgadh, Koshi high dam, etc. in which India is ready to invest. The finance minister's visit was aimed at reminding Nepal about India's role in Nepal's economic development, after China doubled down on promises of greater FDI into Nepal. But Nepal parliament is yet to ratify the BIPPA signed with India over four years ago - this makes investors a little wary.

News source: The Times of India

Published in Politics


Professor Prabhakar Timble is the president of the Goa Forward Party whose three MLAs went against his advice to support the Bharatiya Janata Party's coalition government in Goa. In a no-holds-barred interview with Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore, Professor Timble questions Goa Governor Mridula Sinha's decision to invite the BJP to form a government, exposes the Congress' role in ditching his party before the polls, and justifies why he resigned as president of a party whose primary reason for existence was defeating the BJP.

Why did you resign as president of the Goa Forward Party when all your party MLAs decided to support Manohar Parrikar's coalition government?

I resigned because I found the decision to go with the BJP abrupt and abrasive. I also found it unprofessional because the mandate of the people is against the BJP. Our campaign, from the day we formed the Goa Forward Party, was fought with the sole purpose of ousting the BJP from power. So, our first choice should not be embracing the BJP or allowing it to come to power. They (the BJP) have actually lost power in the state. Finally, the BJP could cobble up the numbers -- and I didn't say it for the last two days and I am saying it now because I didn't want to thrash my colleagues with harsh words before their swearing in took place -- because this is the BJP's political mafia raj at work. They descend upon you, they pressurise you so much, and the GFP, which fought the elections on the plank of Goenkarpon (Goan-ness), finally succumbed to it. 

When your sole objective was to defeat the BJP, how can one justify the GFP's support to the same people who they wanted out of power in the state?

The fact is the Congress party ditched the GFP right from the beginning. The day we formed the GFP, we staunchly said we wanted to dislodge the BJP from power and for that we wanted to have an alliance with the Congress. Knowing that we were a new party, we knew we won't be able to reach out in all the constituencies. 

What changed so much after the elections that all your party MLAs have gone with the BJP?

The Dhavalikar brothers -- Sudin and Dipak (of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party) -- have always been with the party in power. They have been doing it since the last 20 years.

What happened to your party MLAs? Were there promises of cabinet berths by the BJP?

To be very frank, I don't know. We (the GFP and its MLAs) discussed the matter; the Congress had also engaged us in discussions, but the only thing that weighed against the Congress was they had ditched us before the elections. They refused to ally with us although we begged with them for an alliance. Then they put up a candidate against Vijai Sardesai in Fatorda violating all etiquette and understanding. They put up a candidate against us in Saligaon and almost put up a candidate in Sivolim. This proved they (the Congress) wanted us to fail because we were fighting against two BJP ministers and wanted to dislodge them. First, you want us defeated and after the elections you come to seek our help.

Isn't it ironic that a party which wanted to defeat the BJP in 2017 before the elections is now allying with them in a coalition?

I found it totally unprofessional and so I resigned. My argument was the BJP cannot be our first choice. Finally, a government had to be formed and the Congress should have been our natural choice. The GFP MLAs were also in two minds, but Vijai Sardesai took the lead and clinched the deal with the BJP. I knew I should not lead and defend such decisions. I wanted to be out of this muck. Goenkarpon is not just taking oath in Konkani. Goenkarpon is something more bigger than such symbolism.

News source: Rediff

Published in Politics


After Vishwajit Rane, another disgruntled Congress MLA Savio Rodrigues resigned from the party on Friday. He blamed the Congress high command and general secretary in-charge for Goa, Digvijaya Singh, for failing to form the government despite emerging as the single largest party in the recently held Assembly election. The infighting within the Goa Congress unit came out in the open after Rane disappeared before the crucial floor test on Thursday. Later, the three-time Congress MLA submitted his resignation to pro-tem Speaker Siddharth Kuncolienkar and quit the party. Rane said that he was upset with the party leadership as it failed to form the government in Goa despite getting the people's mandate in the Assembly polls. "The mandate in Goa was against the BJP. Now, they (the Congress) have given BJP the mandate on a platter," he said.

Rane said the Goa Forward Party, whose three MLAs later extended support to Manohar Parrikar and which had contested the election on anti-BJP plank, wanted former chief minister Digambar Kamat to be elected as the Congress Legislature Party leader and not Luizinho Faleiro. "I do not expect anything from the Congress. They have betrayed the trust of Goa by not forming the government despite people giving them a clear mandate," Rane told PTI. In a series of tweets, Digvijaya defended his way of handling party affairs in Goa and said the party is going raise the issue in Parliament and submit a petition to the President of India on the conduct of Goa governor Mridula Sinha. He blamed the governor and said that letter to the governor is sent after the leader of the legislative party is chosen, but in the case of Goa, the governor took a premature decision in favour of the BJP. He also attacked Rane and alleged that he is in cahoots with Parrikar.

Digvijaya also tweeted about an alliance with a regional party headed by Babush Monserrate and Goa Forward and said "our own leaders" sabotaged the alliance. Rajya Sabha was in uproar over the government formation in Goa. Over the uproar, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the BJP is ready for discussion, Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker PJ Kurien said Goa governor's conduct can be discussed on the basis of a substantive motion. Members of the Congress party stormed the Well raising slogans. The Congress failed to cobble up a majority despite winning 17 of the 40 seats in Goa, even as all opposition members other than Congress joined hands with BJP to form a government under Parrikar.

News source: First Post

Published in Politics


Manchester City to a painful exit on away goals. Trailing 5-3 from the first leg in England, teenage starlet Kylian Mbappe put Monaco ahead on the night after just eight minutes at the Stade Louis II and Brazilian midfielder Fabinho converted the home side's second just before the half hour. Leroy Sane's 71st-minute goal handed City a 6-5 advantage on aggregate, but Bakayoko turned home Thomas Lemar's free-kick 13 minutes from time as Monaco claimed a famous win. Monaco go through to Friday's draw for the last eight in Nyon carrying French hopes following Paris Saint-Germain's shock elimination, while Guardiola suffered his earliest Champions League exit as a manager. "We played an exceptional second half, but the first one we forgot to be there," Guardiola told BT Sport. "In the second half we were much, much better but it was not enough. It happens and we'll learn, we have a team with not a lot of experience in this competition." Monaco hero Bakayoko will miss the first leg of the quarter-final through suspension but was delighted to advance.
"It's an immense joy to score in the Champions League. I didn't expect this," he said. "Over two games we deserved to qualify. Now we want to keep going."

The French league leaders suffered a blow before kick-off as Radamel Falcao, who scored twice in the first leg, failed to recover from a hip injury in time and was replaced by the versatile Valere Germain. Jemerson returned in place of the suspended Kamil Glik in defence, while Guardiola, who took charge of his 100th game in Europe, made two changes with Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov given the nod ahead of Nicolas Otamendi and Yaya Toure. Coach Leonardo Jardim had challenged Monaco to draw inspiration from the side which dumped out Real Madrid en route to the 2004 final, recovering from a 4-2 defeat in the first leg of that year's quarter-finals before knocking the Spanish giants out on away goals. And the hosts were inspired by 18-year-old Mbappe, who has emerged as one of Europe's most promising talents amid Monaco's thrilling pursuit of the French title this season. Willy Caballero stood tall to repel Mbappe's crisp early strike as he knifed through the City defence, but the Argentine goalkeeper was helpless as the teenager poked home Bernardo Silva's driven low cross just a minute later.

City recovered from twice falling behind in the first leg, but the opening goal emboldened Monaco as Germain unleashed a searing strike from distance that zipped not too far over. Guardiola had emphasised the best form of defence would be attack for City, yet the visitors struggled to settle and Monaco grabbed their second goal in not dissimilar fashion on 29 minutes. Lemar fed the ball into the overlapping run of Benjamin Mendy, a reported target of City's this summer, and the left-back picked out Fabinho to side-foot beyond Caballero. Mbappe's electrifying pace posed a constant threat for City, but the Premier League side gradually began to pose Monaco problems as well although Raheem Sterling's hesitancy allowed the hosts to clear as the England winger looked to tee up" Sergio Aguero. The Argentine striker then skied over from close range after Sane skipped past Andrea Raggi down the left-hand flank, before Danijel Subasic thrust himself superbly in the way after Aguero was picked out by David Silva inside the area. Sane broke in behind the Monaco backline once more but steered his effort the wrong side of the near post with Subasic charging off his line, but City finally broke through with 19 minutes left.

News source: The Times of India

Published in Sports


Even after a series of misses from deep where he makes his money, Stephen Curry kept letting it fly from long range. Then, at last, the ball started falling. Curry scored 29 points on his 29th birthday, Klay Thompson added 28 and the Golden State Warriors used a frenetic fourth-quarter rally to end a three-game skid and beat the Philadelphia 76ers 106-104 on Tuesday night. “That’s what I love about Steph – he’s never going to stop shooting and he never loses confidence,” coach Steve Kerr said. “That’s the mark of a star, when it’s not your night and you still hit big shots to help your team win.” Dario Saric intentionally missed his second free throw with 2.6 seconds remaining to try to give the Sixers one last shot, but Curry secured the ball. Curry struggled to knock down open 3-pointers again but came through from deep with 5:38 left and again with a key baseline 3 at 3:42. Matt Barnes hit one a minute later from the opposite corner for a 104-99 lead. “He found it at the right time and he came through for us when we needed it the most,” Draymond Green said of Curry. Curry’s jumper with 9:55 to play pulled the Warriors within 90-86 after Golden State trailed 90-78 to begin the final quarter. Green’s 3 at 8:04 made it a one-point game, and Shaun Livingston gave Golden State the lead the next time down.

Green had 20 points with 11 free throws, eight assists, eight rebounds and six blocks for the Warriors, who trailed by as many as 16 in the third. He reminded his teammates during one timeout it would take everything to pull out of this recent rut. “The only way to change that is to grind your way out of it. It’s not going to be pretty,” Green said. Saric had 25 points in the Sixers’ eighth straight loss to Golden State. The Warriors’ winning streak in the series matches their longest ever, along with a stretch from Dec. 16, 1971, to March 11, `73. Curry shot just 8 for 23 and 5 of 13 from 3-point range, making him 26 for 89 from deep in his past eight games.

The Warriors aren’t worried. Thompson and others remind him of all his incredible feats. “He’ll have a huge breakout game coming soon,” Thompson said. “He’s better missing now than come May or June.” Earlier in the day, Curry refused to call his shooting of late a slump, and Kerr insists nobody can expect the two-time reigning MVP to match his NBA-record 402 3s last season. “I never really use that word, because a slump to me almost (seems) like you’re losing confidence,” Curry said. The Warriors returned to the Bay Area following a brutal road stretch _ which included losing Kevin Durant to a sprained left knee _ and barely bounced back to avoid their first four-game losing streak since Feb. 26, 2013, to March 2, `13. Golden State moved a half-game ahead of the idle Spurs for the top spot in the Western Conference.

News source: Indian Express

Published in Sports


New Delhi: Opposition Congress on Wednesday forced three adjournments in the Rajya Sabha protesting the "stealing of mandate" in Manipur and Goa where it was not invited to form government despite being the single largest party. The House witnessed adjournment of proceedings thrice, twice during the Zero Hour and once during the Question Hour. Congress cited rulings by the constitution benches of the Supreme Court to state that the Governor was bound to invite the party with the largest number of MLAs to form the government and prove its majority on the floor of the House. It alleged that the Governors in the two states, which in the recently concluded assembly elections threw up a hung assembly with Congress being the single largest party, were "acting at the behest" of the Centre.

Congress members stormed into the Well of the House shouting slogans, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn proceedings for 10 minutes. Raising the issue through a Zero Hour mention after his notice under rule 267 seeking setting aside of the business was converted, Anand Sharma (Cong) said the people's mandate through the elections in a democracy should be accepted and respected by all. He congratulated the ruling BJP for scoring a big victory in Uttar Pradesh and went on to say that the Congress got a massive mandate in the sensitive border state of Punjab and emerged as the single largest party with 28 MLAs in the 40 member Manipur assembly. "The incumbent Chief Minister (in Manipur) was in a position to form the government" but the Governor ignored his claim and called the BJP to form the government, Sharma said.

He said the legal position has been established through two judgements of the constitution benches of Supreme Court which have "made it absolutely clear that if there is no clear mandate, the Governor is obliged to invite the leader of the largest party to form government and prove the majority." In case the largest party is unable to prove the majority, the second largest party is invited, he said. "The mandate has been violated," he said, adding Manipur and Goa have witnessed "stealing of MLAs and stealing of mandate". The Governor "is acting at the behest of the government," he alleged. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the reference about Governor should be expunged as references on the conduct of a person in high authority cannot be made without a substantive motion. Kurien moved to the next Zero Hour mention and called D Raja (CPI) but Congress members would not give up easily and trooped into the Well raising slogans against the government and "murder of democracy". Treasury benches also shouted slogans to counter them. Kurien said Raja was raising a Dalit issue and should be given a patient hearing and asked the treasury benches not to disturb and the opposition members to return to their seats. But none heeded to his advice, forcing him to adjourn the House for 10 minutes.

News source: News 18

Published in Politics


New Delhi: A paper published in the prestigious Harvard Business Review says that the results of the Uttar Pradesh elections indicate that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Big Narrative”, rather than “big data”, which won a landslide for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Bhaskar Chakravorti, who teaches business and finance at Tufts University wrote that the “Big Narrative” in question was the decision to demonetize 86% of cash in the Indian economy, which was perceived by the voters as someone doing something decisive to fight corruption.

The paper published in the Harvard Business Review is called Early Lessons from India’s Demonetisation Experiment. “The victory of narrative over data may be the takeaway from India’s demonetization saga,” Chakravorty wrote. “On March 11 Uttar Pradesh gave the prime minister's party a landslide election victory. While we celebrate the age of big data, it may be "big narrative" that drives the most-profound decisions: When people feel that you’re fighting for them, it seems even the most concrete evidence, be it data or history, wields less and less influence.”

The paper goes on to say that the voters of UP did not judge the Modi government’s actions on the basis of “arcane” issues such as percentage of cash deposited in banks or intricacies of GDP growth, but on the perception that the government was acting on behalf of ordinary people. Chakravorti further buttressed his argument by writing that Prime Minister Modi at an election rally drew a distinction between his efforts and the critics, which may have found resonance with the voters: “On the one hand are those [critics of the note ban], who talk of what people at Harvard say, and on the other is a poor man’s son, who through his hard work is trying to improve the economy.” The Bharatiya Janata Party alliance won 325 seats in the 403 member UP Assembly, securing a landslide. The results indicate that voters connected with the Prime Minister’s message of “development” despite the hardships caused by the cash swap exercise.

News source: News 18

Published in Politics


The Supreme Court is right, the best way to determine who is the chief minister of a state is by having a floor test. But the question is, how often should the decision of a governor, as to who is invited to form a government, go under review especially when there are mechanisms already in place to check if the decision was a correct one. All eyes are on Panjim right now where the Goa Legislative Assembly is scheduled to have a floor test on Thursday to see if Manohar Parrikar, recently appointed as the state's chief minister, can survive a vote of confidence in the House. The state election didn't result in any party getting a clear majority. The Congress emerged as the single largest party with a total of 17 seats, just three seats short of the halfway mark in the state's 40-member Assembly. It was followed by the BJP with 13 seats.

However, the BJP , which is also the ruling party at the Centre, claims that it has managed to form an alliance of MLAs including the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party with its three seats, three members of the Goa Forward Party and two Independent members giving it a total number of 21 seats. With this number, the BJP legislative party approached the governor and claimed the right to form the government. The governor of a state has a unique constitutional role in our system of Westminster-style democracy. The role is similar to the president at the Centre. While they play no formal role in the day to day administration of a state, when it comes to the appointment of a government, their role suddenly becomes one of absolute importance, as this is where they exercise their discretion. The role of the governor at the end of the day is to ensure that there is a stable government that can pass a budget and ensure supply as without passing a budget the government will stop and only the legislature can raise money. For this the governor must be satisfied that the chief minister can command a majority in the House to see through bills. So this does not become a point of who is legally authorised to hold office or not, when adjudicating these matters there are many factors at play, the cold hard letter of the law, the changing tides of democracy and the practicality of having to form of a government. So when courts get involved, the results that come out often times don't always stick to precedent like clockwork.

Such as the one the Supreme Court disposed off on Tuesday, with a direction that a trust vote be held on the floor of the House on Thursday. The principle question in dispute according to the order was if the BJP's legislative party had sufficient numbers. The governor's decision could have been reviewed for appropriateness as to who should have been called first to form a government or what is the correct procedure. But the Supreme Court nipped the dispute in the bud by ordering a quick floor test. If Parrikar wins, the governor stands vindicated, if he fails then the Congress is invited to form the government. Even so, if halfway through his term, Parrikar loses the support of his coalition, the Congress may move a motion of no-confidence and take over the reigns of the government. After all they only need to sway three MLAs on their camp to get to the magic number of 21 and the BJP has to hold on to at least seven. So while, there may be many legal disputes as to how best a governor should act, sometimes effective and quick rulings are better for a democracy than cold hard letters of the law. The law states that the chief minister is a member of the house, who is appointed by the governor and holds the confidence of the House. Whoever meets that criterion can be the chief minister. Be it Parrikar or Kavlekar or anyone really. The best way to handle it is to do what the SC just did, grind our teeth and get on with it.

News source: First Post

Published in Politics


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its spectacular win in Uttar Pradesh

Published in Politics
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