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POLITICS-GOVERNANCE

Summer of Protest

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The fireworks celebrating India’s Independence Day on August 15 illuminated shifting political terrain.  Appropriating the motifs of the anti-colonial struggle against the British Raj, the anti-corruption movement that has been gathering momentum for months erupted in full force, staging the most widespread popular demonstrations in decades.  The protests presented Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s seven-year-old government with its most serious crisis as well as exposed an acute leadership vacuum in the Congress Party, which was the nucleus of the nationalist movement and has governed the country for most of its post-independence era.

But the limelight that should have been Rahul’s was instead wrested away by Kiran Baburao Hazare, a social activist some three decades his senior who was largely unknown a year ago.  Widely called “Anna” Hazare (the honorific for older brother), he has emerged as the leader of the burgeoning public outcry against the procession of corruption scandals that are consuming the Singh government.  Dressed in homespun cotton and a white cap, the diminutive and bespectacled Hazare takes another Gandhi as his role model.  His personal asceticism recalls the Mahatma’s lifestyle, and his widely-noted record of social uplift in his home village in Maharashtra evokes Gandhi-ji’s vision of rural self-development.  Hazare’s methods of hunger fasts and mass demonstrations are reminiscent of the satyagraha (“civil resistance”) tactics employed against British colonial authorities.  He has even availed the rhetoric of the independence movement by proclaiming in a YouTube video that “the second freedom struggle has started.”

The heavy-handed government response was redolent of the British crackdowns on the country’s founding fathers, as well as the emergency rule used by Indira Gandhi in the mid-1970s to suppress domestic criticism.  Adding to the latter comparison, the Congress Party’s spokesman even adopted Indira’s noxious practice ofblaming the “foreign hand” for the tumult.

If Hazare is now in the catbird’s seat, Prime Minister Singh and Rahul Gandhi have been politically scarred.  The latter has been conspicuously silent over the past week, choosing to remain quiet during parliament’s raucous debate over Hazare’s arrest.  Far from leading from the front, he gave the impression that he was running for cover.  Indeed, he even ducked out of New Delhi for what appeared to be an impromptu visit to a remote village in Maharashtra to console victims of a police shooting.

With the government’s confrontational approach followed so quickly by its capitulation, Singh reinforced his reputation for ineffective governance.  As one observer puts it, he increasingly looks like “yesterday’s prime minister.”  Attempts to deflect blame onto the Delhi municipal police were believed by few, since the police force is responsible to Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who has taken an uncompromising line toward Hazare.  The episode only added to the controversies that now besiege Singh.  His undoubted personal rectitude is now besides the point.  With charges multiplying that he was phlegmatic – or worse yet, willfully blind – to the egregious malfeasance of his own ministers, his capacity for leadership and political judgment is increasingly the question of the day.

Rocky to begin with, the road Singh will have to travel over the next year has suddenly become harder.  A bandwagon is growing inside the Congress Party for Rahul Gandhi to assume the reins of government.  Yet with Rahul focused on preparations for the important mid-2012 elections in Uttar Pradesh and Sonia Gandhi out of the picture for what may be a prolonged period, the party has little choice but to soldier on with Singh.  The opposition parties also do not have the numbers in Parliament to oust him as prime minister.

As an earlier post argued, Singh could even yet refurbish his legacy, as well as revitalize the Congress Party’s electoral prospects, with a bold program of governance reforms that eliminate the opportunities for high-level graft.  The leadership vacuum revealed by last week’s events makes this scenario very unlikely, however.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this writing are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of League of India, its Editorial Board or the business and socio-political interests that they might represent.

This article was first published on his blog here

David J. Karl
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David J. Karl is President of the Asia Strategy Initiative, a Los Angeles based consultancy that provides policy-relevant analysis of geopolitical, diplomatic and macro-economic developments, with particular focus on South Asia. He previously served as director of studies at the Pacific Council on International Policy, in charge of the Council’s think tank focused on foreign policy issues of particular resonance to the U.S West Coast, and was Project Director of the Joint Task Force on Enhancing India-U.S.Cooperation in the Global Innovation Economy.


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POLITICS-GOVERNANCE

PM Modi Today in Mandla in MP for National Panchayati Raj Day Program

The winners of  Rashtriya e-Panchayat Puraskar and Gram Panchayat Vikas Puraskar Yojana under Sarvasreshtha Panchayat Puraskar Yojana will be felicitated on this occasion.

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MANDLA (Madhya Pradesh): Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Mandla in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday on the National Panchayati Raj Day.

He will launch the Rashtriya Gramin Swaraj Abhiyan, at a public meeting, and address Panchayati Raj representatives across the country, from Mandla.

Preparations are underway for the visit with cultural celebrations and performances reflecting the local culture of the region.

Prime Minister Modi will unveil a Road Map for the overall development of tribals during the next five years highlighting the focus on Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas.

In keeping up with the Government’s commitment towards clean, healthy, and electrified India, the Prime Minister would felicitate the Sarpanches of the villages which have achieved 100 percent smokeless kitchens, 100 percent vaccination under Mission Indradhanush, and 100 percent electrification under Saubhagya Scheme.

The winners of  Rashtriya e-Panchayat Puraskar and Gram Panchayat Vikas Puraskar Yojana under Sarvasreshtha Panchayat Puraskar Yojana will be felicitated on this occasion.

Prime Minister’s visit to Mandla on Panchayats Raj Day is an indication of the government’s commitment to bring people in remote regions into the developmental mainstream.

The Felicitation of panchayat heads will prove to be a source of inspiration to the rest of India and highlight the achievements and best practices of these interventions.

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POLITICS-GOVERNANCE

BJP Charges Congress with Disrespecting Constitutional Authorities

BJP charged the Congress party with harming the reputation and independence of the judiciary for political gain.

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NEW DELHI: The BJP on April 23 criticised the Congress Party for attacking the institution of the Chief Justice, charging the party with wanting to create anarchy by making people “lose” faith in the judiciary.

While the Congress Party has alleged that the Rajya Sabha chairman had not followed due process, the BJP hit back saying the Rajya Sabha Chairman’s office is not a post office meant to forward petitions but has to apply its mind judiciously and take a call.

Even after the Rajya Sabha Chairman refused to admit the  motion seeking removal of Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra, the matter has not come to a rest. The Govt and ruling Party have come down heavily on Congress for not respecting the Chairman’s decision… saying that the party has no respect for constitutional authorities.

BJP charged the Congress party with harming the reputation and indepence of the judiciary for political gain. The party said the voters will soon bring in a motion for the removal of the Congress party.

The Congress Party has said it will appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court. Despite the Congress’ apprehensions, constitutional experts are calling the Congress Party sponsored notice for removal  a politically motivated one.

Experts say the chairman followed due process. It is well within the power of the chairman to disallow the motion after consulting such persons as he thinks fit and after considering materials available to him. It is only after and if the motion is accepted, that a committee of three members is consituted to examine the allegations.

This has happened four times in the history of the country so far… aganist Supreme Court Judge V. Ramaswami, Kolkata High Court Judge Soumitra Sen, Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court PD Dinakaran and Justice JB Pardiwala of Gujarat High Court, but in no case has teh entire porcess been completed. This motion has been disallowed at the intial stage itself.

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POLITICS-GOVERNANCE

Amit Shah Accuses Congress of Trying to Save the Dynasty in the Name of Constitution

Calls the impeachment motion a part of a larger trend to demonize and weaken every institution that seeks to maintain its individual identity.

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NEW DELHI: BJP president Amit Shah has denounced the move by the opposition to move a notice of impeachment motion against the CJI.

In a hard-hitting Facebook post named – Saving the Constitution or Saving Dynasty? – Shah has lambasted the Congress for trying to target institutions of the nation and weaken its democracy.

Touching upon the notice of motion of impeachment he added that judiciary, though trusted by 125 crore Indians, has invited the wrath of the Congress and Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

He called it a part of a larger trend to demonize and weaken every institution that seeks to maintain its individual identity and not kowtow to the dynasty. He said that the Army has also repeatedly been the Congress’ target.

He said that during the UPA years a Chief of Army Staff was targeted and the entire Army was dragged into political slugfests. He also listed Congress’ protests against the CAG and the election commission in the post.    The post makes reference to the imposition of emergency and dismissal of state governments under the Congress rule.

He also accused the Congress of deviating from the constitution given by Babasaheb Ambedkar and of spreading hate and divisions in society and said that Congress is blinded by the disdain for PM modi, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Modi hatred is fast turning into India hatred.

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