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“Ineligible” people told to return ration cards in UP

Ration cards are the new methods of inclusion and exclusion into food security, as the UP government issues “guidelines” to declare people“ineligible”

20 May 2022

ration cards
Image Courtesy:newsnationtv.com

Increasing media reports, first in the Hindustan Times and then The Pioneer have reported that the Uttar Pradesh government is in a post-election spree of seizing “ineligible” ration cards. This is ironic given that political analysts have attributed the free ration scheme announced by the ruling regime in Lucknow to take the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to its second win the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh under Adityanath.

Immediately after results were announced on March 10, second time chief minister Ajay Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath had even announced that that his government would continue to give free ration to 15,00,000 eligible, poor people across the state for the next three months. But who is poor and who is eligible is the moot question given the April 2022 Government Order asking “ineligible” individuals to “surrender” their ration cards or, surprise or surprises, they will face punitive action, an FIR against them. The deadline for surrendering these is today, March 20. Individuals can surrender their ration cards at their block offices or the office of the district supply officer, the official said.

UP’s guidelines, reportedly under National Food Security Act 2013, are specific and particular: The government guidelines specify that the residents are ineligible to hold a ration card if one of the members of the family pays income tax, more than one member holds an arms licence, or if a member has an annual income of more than Rs 3 lakh in urban areas and Rs 2 lakh in rural areas, or he /she owns a house, flat or a commercial space of more than 100 square feet area. Families who own a four-wheeler/tractor/harvester/ air-conditioner or generator set at home are considered ineligible to hold ration cards as well, the guideline says.

A senior official reportedly told the media that the district administration would send recovery notices to those ineligible people who do not submit their ration cards by May 20 and may even lodge FIRs against them under provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. He said the recovery would be made as per the guidelines. All district magistrates have issued orders accordingly. According to officials, the “recovery process” includes imposing penalties at a rate of Rs24 for a kilogram of wheat and Rs32 for a kilogram of rice from the time ineligible households started availing ration.

HT reports that 1520 ration cards were “surrendered” in Lucknow by March 17 fearing legal action. A senior official has told the media that the district administration would send recovery notices to those ineligible people who did not surrender their ration cards by May 20 and may initiate legal action against them under provisions of NFS Act 2013.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ration card holders were given free ration twice a month — once from the Centre and the other time from the Uttar Pradesh government. There were complaints that many non-eligible persons were getting ration but the government preferred to look the other way because of the assembly elections. There were also serious allegations of bias and prejudice with the rations not reaching minority dominated and Dalit dominated areas.

There are two types of ration cards — Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) cards and Priority Household cards. Families with an annual income of less than Rs 3 lakh per annum in urban areas and Rs 2 lakh in rural areas are eligible for priority household cards. People who have no house, fixed income or working skills — essentially, the poorest strata of the society — are eligible for AAY cards.

As per the district supply office record, as reported by HT, presently there are 7,86,218 ration cards in the state capital, covering around 31,18,110 units (people). Of the total ration card-holders, there are around 50,112 Antyodaya card-holders (covering around 1,51,317 people) and 736106 Priority House Hold (PHH) card-holders (covering around 6,34,901 people).

According to the present grain distribution system, Singh said of the two, the Antyodaya card-holders used to get 35kg food grains, including 20kg wheat at ₹2 per kg and 15kg rice at ₹3 per kg. The PHH or regular ration card-holders used to get 5kg food grains, including 3kg wheat at ₹2 per kg and 2kg rice at ₹3 per kg, per unit. In addition, under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojna (PMGKY), the UP government had announced 5kg food grains (per unit) and it was also giving one kg gram (chana), one litre oil and one kg salt packet to the ration card-holders.

India’s declining food security

India’s declining ranking (India has ranked 71 among 113 countries in the Global Food Security Index with a score of 57.2) leaves these recent moves open to question. If state governments or the Centre restrict distribution through the public distribution system (PDS) the policy will not just privatise trade in basic food but also affect overall food security of the country. The GFS Index is released by Economist Impact and Corteva Agriscience. The Index is measured on four metrics, Affordability, Availability, Quality &Safety, and Natural resources&Resilience.

Compared to few of its neighbouring countries, India has a better overall score. Pakistan is ranked at 75th position, Sri Lanka at 77th, Nepal at 79th and Bangladesh at 84th position. However larger countries like China (34) and Russia (23) hold a much better position than India.

Related:

Purvanchal: Silence of the Looms
Urgent need to revive and sustain Banarasi weaving industry
India ranks 71 in Global Food Security Index

“Ineligible” people told to return ration cards in UP

Ration cards are the new methods of inclusion and exclusion into food security, as the UP government issues “guidelines” to declare people“ineligible”

ration cards
Image Courtesy:newsnationtv.com

Increasing media reports, first in the Hindustan Times and then The Pioneer have reported that the Uttar Pradesh government is in a post-election spree of seizing “ineligible” ration cards. This is ironic given that political analysts have attributed the free ration scheme announced by the ruling regime in Lucknow to take the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to its second win the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh under Adityanath.

Immediately after results were announced on March 10, second time chief minister Ajay Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath had even announced that that his government would continue to give free ration to 15,00,000 eligible, poor people across the state for the next three months. But who is poor and who is eligible is the moot question given the April 2022 Government Order asking “ineligible” individuals to “surrender” their ration cards or, surprise or surprises, they will face punitive action, an FIR against them. The deadline for surrendering these is today, March 20. Individuals can surrender their ration cards at their block offices or the office of the district supply officer, the official said.

UP’s guidelines, reportedly under National Food Security Act 2013, are specific and particular: The government guidelines specify that the residents are ineligible to hold a ration card if one of the members of the family pays income tax, more than one member holds an arms licence, or if a member has an annual income of more than Rs 3 lakh in urban areas and Rs 2 lakh in rural areas, or he /she owns a house, flat or a commercial space of more than 100 square feet area. Families who own a four-wheeler/tractor/harvester/ air-conditioner or generator set at home are considered ineligible to hold ration cards as well, the guideline says.

A senior official reportedly told the media that the district administration would send recovery notices to those ineligible people who do not submit their ration cards by May 20 and may even lodge FIRs against them under provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. He said the recovery would be made as per the guidelines. All district magistrates have issued orders accordingly. According to officials, the “recovery process” includes imposing penalties at a rate of Rs24 for a kilogram of wheat and Rs32 for a kilogram of rice from the time ineligible households started availing ration.

HT reports that 1520 ration cards were “surrendered” in Lucknow by March 17 fearing legal action. A senior official has told the media that the district administration would send recovery notices to those ineligible people who did not surrender their ration cards by May 20 and may initiate legal action against them under provisions of NFS Act 2013.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ration card holders were given free ration twice a month — once from the Centre and the other time from the Uttar Pradesh government. There were complaints that many non-eligible persons were getting ration but the government preferred to look the other way because of the assembly elections. There were also serious allegations of bias and prejudice with the rations not reaching minority dominated and Dalit dominated areas.

There are two types of ration cards — Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) cards and Priority Household cards. Families with an annual income of less than Rs 3 lakh per annum in urban areas and Rs 2 lakh in rural areas are eligible for priority household cards. People who have no house, fixed income or working skills — essentially, the poorest strata of the society — are eligible for AAY cards.

As per the district supply office record, as reported by HT, presently there are 7,86,218 ration cards in the state capital, covering around 31,18,110 units (people). Of the total ration card-holders, there are around 50,112 Antyodaya card-holders (covering around 1,51,317 people) and 736106 Priority House Hold (PHH) card-holders (covering around 6,34,901 people).

According to the present grain distribution system, Singh said of the two, the Antyodaya card-holders used to get 35kg food grains, including 20kg wheat at ₹2 per kg and 15kg rice at ₹3 per kg. The PHH or regular ration card-holders used to get 5kg food grains, including 3kg wheat at ₹2 per kg and 2kg rice at ₹3 per kg, per unit. In addition, under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojna (PMGKY), the UP government had announced 5kg food grains (per unit) and it was also giving one kg gram (chana), one litre oil and one kg salt packet to the ration card-holders.

India’s declining food security

India’s declining ranking (India has ranked 71 among 113 countries in the Global Food Security Index with a score of 57.2) leaves these recent moves open to question. If state governments or the Centre restrict distribution through the public distribution system (PDS) the policy will not just privatise trade in basic food but also affect overall food security of the country. The GFS Index is released by Economist Impact and Corteva Agriscience. The Index is measured on four metrics, Affordability, Availability, Quality &Safety, and Natural resources&Resilience.

Compared to few of its neighbouring countries, India has a better overall score. Pakistan is ranked at 75th position, Sri Lanka at 77th, Nepal at 79th and Bangladesh at 84th position. However larger countries like China (34) and Russia (23) hold a much better position than India.

Related:

Purvanchal: Silence of the Looms
Urgent need to revive and sustain Banarasi weaving industry
India ranks 71 in Global Food Security Index

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Sabrang

When and How Ram Vilas Paswan made a strong pitch for the Places of Worship Act, 1991

A powerful leader from Bihar, unkindly known as the shrewd weatherman of Indian politics, Ram Vilas Paswan, then a member of the National Front, spoke powerfully from the Opposition benches, in support of the proposed law and scathingly of the BJP’s destructive politics of demolishing places of worship (Babri masjid, December 6, 1991) while not sparing the Congress either

19 May 2022

Ram Vilas paswan

Barely 15 months before that fateful Sunday when India and the world watched, in anger and helplessness, as the 400-year-old, Babri Masjid was brought down in cold daylight even as 3,000 members of India’s paramilitary mutely looked on, the Narasimha Rao government had done little to protect shrines other than the one that Hindutva groups had then trained their guns on. Ram Vilas Paswan, a member of parliament (MP) from Rosera, Bihar, as Opposition member on behalf of the National Front at the time, had made one of the most forceful speeches in support of the proposed law.

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act was passed by the Parliament and enacted into law in 1991 during the peak of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.  LK Advani’s blood-filled rath yatra had wound its way through the country, leaving violence and isolation in its wake. Then, the media, made of different orientations and characted, had warned of the dangerous build-up that was being cynically allowed to unfold.

The Places of Worship Act was brought by the Congress government of Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao at a time when the Babri Masjid was still standing. While introducing the Bill in Parliament, then Home Minister S B Chavan said, “It is considered necessary to adopt these measures in view of the controversies arising from time to time with regard to conversion of places of worship which tend to vitiate the communal atmosphere… Adoption of this Bill will effectively prevent any new controversies from arising in respect of conversion of any place of worship…”

Last president of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) before he expired in 2020, Ram Vilas Paswan, a five-time Member of Parliament from Bihar during the term of the Narasimha Rao government (that assumed office in June 1991) made a powerful speech supporting the need for such a law on September 9, 1991. Then finance minister, Manmohan Singh had introduced the bill in the Rajya Sabha and Uma Bharati (BJP), Ram Naik (BJP) and Madanlal Khurana (BJP) had, predictably opposed its passage. Paswan has had the unique distinction of holding a central ministry throughout his political career under different government except between 1991-1996.

Elected then from the Rosera parliamentary constituency in Bihar, Ram Vilas Paswan said that such a law was long overdue and chastised the Indian National Congress for not bringing in such a legislation earlier he said, “The Ram Janam Bhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute would not have been arisen here at all. There cannot be two opinions in this regard. I have been pointing towards this matter earlier also and you might have felt offended then. This Bill indeed has a very laudable objective.”

Paswan had also made some prescient points in his speech about the strange and sudden emergence of the politics of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. He had stated in his September 9, 1991 address in Parliament that, in 1969, there was a Samyukta Vidhayak Dal (SVD) Government in UP, and in 1977, there was Janata Party Government at the Centre. He asked, “Both Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shri Lal Krishna Advani were Ministers in that Government, but why didn't they raise that issue at that time? Why it has been raised only during the last two years?” He then criticised the erstwhile Congress government under prime minister Rajiv Gandhi for allowing such forces to raise their heads for “allowing them to conduct the 'Shilanyar' ceremony, and today the country is suffering on account of that.”

Ram Vilas Paswan also pointed how that, secularism, social justice and power to the poor constitute the very backbone of the country and it has been made amply clear in the 1989 manifesto of the National Front (when he was in were in the Janata Party) he had raised a demand that August 15, 1947 should be treated as a cut-off date to determine the ownership of religions places, so that all disputes relating to places to worship are settled permanently.

“… such a legislation had to be brought forward because India is the home of people belonging to many religious denominations. Our country is like a garden and here not one, but all the flowers will be given the opportunity to blossom. People belonging to many communities have made India their home. When Babar invaded India, which Hindu king was ruling the country? It was Ibrahim Lodhi, who was ruling the country at that time. Who came to India before Babur? The Aryans. There was no Hiudu-Muslim clash at that time. According to the religious people, there was war between the Gods and demons when churning of the ocean took place. Now, who were these Gods and who were these demons? Why was there a fight between Vishnu and Shiva? If we go deep into the history of all this, we won't be able to safeguard the unity and integrity of this country. Therefore, this chapter has to be closed somewhere. We have far more important problems before us - the problem of poverty that of unemployment that of illiteracy, that of rural water supply. This country cannot affort to squabble over trifling issues like Mandir or Masjid,” said Paswan.

Reminding parliament and the country of the wise words of Smt. Savita Ambedkar, Ram Vilas Paswan had told Parliament that she had stated clearly that the “disputed site” was neither a temple, nor a Mosque, but a Buddhist place of worship and these people were saying that the site belongs to them.

Likening the situation to an episode in the Mahabharata, wherein Karna says that his funeral pyre should be lit at a place, where nobody has been cremated before and Krishna was in a predicament and he had to ultimately use his hand as a cremation site, Paswan stated that the present situation too is quite similar. He said, “Today, it is impossible to say, whether a place of worship, was a temple, a mosque or a Buddha Vihar. India attained Independence on August 15, 1947 and at that time, we had 56 crore Gods.”

Paswan added, “When we didn't have a population of even ten crores. There are five Gods for one person, yet we have not been able to make arrangement for potable water in 5,76,000 villages in the country, but a country where there is only one God, everyone is prosperous and that country is progressing like anything. This is a religious issue. I have already said that I am not a believer. Let people believe in places of worship, according to their faith.”

“The country gained Independence on August 15, 1947. Before that, who were the masters at this country? We don't want to go into history, and August 15. 1947 was a momentous day in the country's history. It is such a date in the nation's history that many among us... During the course of my speech, I have neither referred to any political party nor any political leader by name and nor do I intend to do so. The very objective of religion is to remove darkness and provide light and knowledge. A lamp can be used to light up a house as well as to burn it down. Unfortunately, today, religion is being used to spread hatred and disharmony. We will have to give a serious thought to it.”

“Mr. Chairman, Sir, ours is a country where we have people belonging to various faiths and walks of life and each of one of them should be given an opportunity to realize his maximum potential. I believe that this Bill is a right step, towards fulfilling this objective.”

“Every day, some or the other issue is raked up here. Arguments are put forward in defence of definitions of natives and foreigners. I believe that this matter is beyond the scope of argument. Today, we hear slogans like 'Garva se kaho, hum Hindu hain', ‘Garva se bolo, hum Musalman hain', 'Garva se bolo, hum Sikh hain', but where is that soul-stirring slogan of 'Garva se kaho hum Bharatiya hain? We are first Indians.”

Facing some interruptions from agitated sections among the BJP, Paswan’s speech is worth a read.

Paswan recalls examples of shared citizenship and sacrifice saying, “…Can anyone say that among our freedom fighters, the sacrifice made by Sardar Bhagat Singh was inferior to anyone. During the 1965 war, many of our jawans were decorated with 'Vir Chakras', but Abdul Hameed received the highest honour of 'Paramvir Chakra'. Was his sacrifice, less than that of anyone? Will his sacrifice be underestimated just because be happened to be a Muslim? We attained independence on August 15, 1947. While some people chose the new State, the rest preferred to stay back. It is a fact that the country does not apprehend as much danger from Pakistan as from those within the country, who indulge in espionage and sell the country for a few silver coins. They are the worst enemies of the country.”

He spoke very presciently of the dangers of labelling sections of the Indian population anti-national and questioning their loyalty.

“Now, if people of my age, like Kumari Uma Bharti or myself start accusing the Indian Muslims of being Pakistani agents or the Indian Christians as British agents, it cannot be justified, on any ground. If one goes to U.S.A. and search for an original American, everyone would proudly say that he or she is an American. The Americans are a very united and patriotic people, irrespective of their enthnic origins. It's high time, we too realized it and drew a dividing line between the patriots and traitors. That line cannot be drawn on the basis of religion or community, nor in the name of Ram. The issue of Ram is theirs and of those who believe in him. Dr. Ambedkar has also said a lot about Ram. I don't want to go into that, including the fact that Sham-book was killed during Ram's regime…”

“I want to say that there should be no objection if anyone wants to build a Ram temple, a mosque, a gurudwara or a church, But one wonders, where do these people want to take the country, by demolishing an existing structure and building a temple at that place. Do we want to take the country towards savagery?”

Uma Bharati, also a member of parliament had spoken uninterrupted before Paswan made his speech.

Paswan then said, “Madam Chairperson, I want to point out here that the proponents of Hindutva tend to forget the fact that Hindus are there not only in India but also all over the world. When on 30th October, a rumour spread that the Babri Masjid had been demolished, some people in Bangladesh went to attack temples there. But when it came to be known that the Babri Masjid has escaped damage, the police opened fire on the rioters and about 20 people killed in the incident. But no temple was allowed to be damaged. Have the advocates of Hindutva ever thought of the repercussions on the Hindus in foreign countries, if a church or mosque is demolished in this country? Therefore, please don't intermix politics with religion to the extent that it would prove disastrous for our own brethren...”

“Therefore, Madam Chairperson, through you, I would like to say that today the question is not of Hindu-Muslim, nor or temple, mosque or gurudwara. Today, the issue at stake is our Constitution. The issue is to save that India, for whose freedom, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians had fought together and it is the duty of every citizen to safeguard our Constitution. The issue involves not only Hindus and Christians, but each and every citizen of this country. This is a matter concerning the Constitution and I believe that whichever Government comes to power, will have to go by the Constitution. No decision can be taken by putting the Constitution at stake. On behalf of the National Front and the Left front, I would like to warn the Union Government of disastrous consequences, if it allows the Constitution, to be subverted, constitutional provisions to be violated or if it surrenders before those forces which are aiming at subverting the Constitution. We at the National Front and Left Front would from a human chain around the Babri Masjid to protect it from those intending to demolish it. They will have to walk over our dead bodies to reach the mosque. Therefore, I would like to appeal to my countryman that those who have complete faith in our Constitution and the cardinal principals of secularism should come forward, for today our very Constitution is at stake. Yunus Saheb, Shri Syed Sahabuddin and others will tell the House about the loopholes and drawbacks of this legislation, but we support this Bill, as it is in consonance with our demand in this regard, although we, too, believe that this Bill does not carry within itself, a complete solution to this problem.”

“However, it would prove effective in checking the growing communal feeling within the country and attempts by certain forces to incite violence by declaring certain structures belonging to one community has their own. I would like to repeat that so far neither the Government's policies not its intentions were sincere and it has had its far-reaching consequences. At least now, the Government should rise above petty politics and formulate such policies that would act as a check on those forces, which till the other day, had abused Bhindranwale for mixing politics with religion and for using the Golden Temple for political purposes. But today they are themselves indulging in politics from temple and also justifying it. Therefore, no loopholes should be left in this law.”

“Hindus are in majority in this country and the secular forces within that community have very well seen through the games of the communalists and have understood the linkage between Ram and Politics.”

“The National Front is committed to protect secularism and I urge you to follow suit. I am thankful to you for bringing forward a legislation in this regard and I extend my support to this Bill.”

Re-visiting legislative history at a time when Indian Parliament has been held complete hostage to an autocratic majoritarianism is not just crucial; it could well help temper the winds that threaten to fan uncontrollable fires.
 

*Teesta Setalvad is a Human Rights defender, journalist and educationist. She is the co-founder of SabrangIndia and Secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP).

Related:

Activists denounce Babri Masjid demolition judgment

Babri Masjid demolition judgment shocks India!

The Verdict: Is there closure?

When and How Ram Vilas Paswan made a strong pitch for the Places of Worship Act, 1991

A powerful leader from Bihar, unkindly known as the shrewd weatherman of Indian politics, Ram Vilas Paswan, then a member of the National Front, spoke powerfully from the Opposition benches, in support of the proposed law and scathingly of the BJP’s destructive politics of demolishing places of worship (Babri masjid, December 6, 1991) while not sparing the Congress either

Ram Vilas paswan

Barely 15 months before that fateful Sunday when India and the world watched, in anger and helplessness, as the 400-year-old, Babri Masjid was brought down in cold daylight even as 3,000 members of India’s paramilitary mutely looked on, the Narasimha Rao government had done little to protect shrines other than the one that Hindutva groups had then trained their guns on. Ram Vilas Paswan, a member of parliament (MP) from Rosera, Bihar, as Opposition member on behalf of the National Front at the time, had made one of the most forceful speeches in support of the proposed law.

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act was passed by the Parliament and enacted into law in 1991 during the peak of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.  LK Advani’s blood-filled rath yatra had wound its way through the country, leaving violence and isolation in its wake. Then, the media, made of different orientations and characted, had warned of the dangerous build-up that was being cynically allowed to unfold.

The Places of Worship Act was brought by the Congress government of Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao at a time when the Babri Masjid was still standing. While introducing the Bill in Parliament, then Home Minister S B Chavan said, “It is considered necessary to adopt these measures in view of the controversies arising from time to time with regard to conversion of places of worship which tend to vitiate the communal atmosphere… Adoption of this Bill will effectively prevent any new controversies from arising in respect of conversion of any place of worship…”

Last president of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) before he expired in 2020, Ram Vilas Paswan, a five-time Member of Parliament from Bihar during the term of the Narasimha Rao government (that assumed office in June 1991) made a powerful speech supporting the need for such a law on September 9, 1991. Then finance minister, Manmohan Singh had introduced the bill in the Rajya Sabha and Uma Bharati (BJP), Ram Naik (BJP) and Madanlal Khurana (BJP) had, predictably opposed its passage. Paswan has had the unique distinction of holding a central ministry throughout his political career under different government except between 1991-1996.

Elected then from the Rosera parliamentary constituency in Bihar, Ram Vilas Paswan said that such a law was long overdue and chastised the Indian National Congress for not bringing in such a legislation earlier he said, “The Ram Janam Bhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute would not have been arisen here at all. There cannot be two opinions in this regard. I have been pointing towards this matter earlier also and you might have felt offended then. This Bill indeed has a very laudable objective.”

Paswan had also made some prescient points in his speech about the strange and sudden emergence of the politics of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. He had stated in his September 9, 1991 address in Parliament that, in 1969, there was a Samyukta Vidhayak Dal (SVD) Government in UP, and in 1977, there was Janata Party Government at the Centre. He asked, “Both Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shri Lal Krishna Advani were Ministers in that Government, but why didn't they raise that issue at that time? Why it has been raised only during the last two years?” He then criticised the erstwhile Congress government under prime minister Rajiv Gandhi for allowing such forces to raise their heads for “allowing them to conduct the 'Shilanyar' ceremony, and today the country is suffering on account of that.”

Ram Vilas Paswan also pointed how that, secularism, social justice and power to the poor constitute the very backbone of the country and it has been made amply clear in the 1989 manifesto of the National Front (when he was in were in the Janata Party) he had raised a demand that August 15, 1947 should be treated as a cut-off date to determine the ownership of religions places, so that all disputes relating to places to worship are settled permanently.

“… such a legislation had to be brought forward because India is the home of people belonging to many religious denominations. Our country is like a garden and here not one, but all the flowers will be given the opportunity to blossom. People belonging to many communities have made India their home. When Babar invaded India, which Hindu king was ruling the country? It was Ibrahim Lodhi, who was ruling the country at that time. Who came to India before Babur? The Aryans. There was no Hiudu-Muslim clash at that time. According to the religious people, there was war between the Gods and demons when churning of the ocean took place. Now, who were these Gods and who were these demons? Why was there a fight between Vishnu and Shiva? If we go deep into the history of all this, we won't be able to safeguard the unity and integrity of this country. Therefore, this chapter has to be closed somewhere. We have far more important problems before us - the problem of poverty that of unemployment that of illiteracy, that of rural water supply. This country cannot affort to squabble over trifling issues like Mandir or Masjid,” said Paswan.

Reminding parliament and the country of the wise words of Smt. Savita Ambedkar, Ram Vilas Paswan had told Parliament that she had stated clearly that the “disputed site” was neither a temple, nor a Mosque, but a Buddhist place of worship and these people were saying that the site belongs to them.

Likening the situation to an episode in the Mahabharata, wherein Karna says that his funeral pyre should be lit at a place, where nobody has been cremated before and Krishna was in a predicament and he had to ultimately use his hand as a cremation site, Paswan stated that the present situation too is quite similar. He said, “Today, it is impossible to say, whether a place of worship, was a temple, a mosque or a Buddha Vihar. India attained Independence on August 15, 1947 and at that time, we had 56 crore Gods.”

Paswan added, “When we didn't have a population of even ten crores. There are five Gods for one person, yet we have not been able to make arrangement for potable water in 5,76,000 villages in the country, but a country where there is only one God, everyone is prosperous and that country is progressing like anything. This is a religious issue. I have already said that I am not a believer. Let people believe in places of worship, according to their faith.”

“The country gained Independence on August 15, 1947. Before that, who were the masters at this country? We don't want to go into history, and August 15. 1947 was a momentous day in the country's history. It is such a date in the nation's history that many among us... During the course of my speech, I have neither referred to any political party nor any political leader by name and nor do I intend to do so. The very objective of religion is to remove darkness and provide light and knowledge. A lamp can be used to light up a house as well as to burn it down. Unfortunately, today, religion is being used to spread hatred and disharmony. We will have to give a serious thought to it.”

“Mr. Chairman, Sir, ours is a country where we have people belonging to various faiths and walks of life and each of one of them should be given an opportunity to realize his maximum potential. I believe that this Bill is a right step, towards fulfilling this objective.”

“Every day, some or the other issue is raked up here. Arguments are put forward in defence of definitions of natives and foreigners. I believe that this matter is beyond the scope of argument. Today, we hear slogans like 'Garva se kaho, hum Hindu hain', ‘Garva se bolo, hum Musalman hain', 'Garva se bolo, hum Sikh hain', but where is that soul-stirring slogan of 'Garva se kaho hum Bharatiya hain? We are first Indians.”

Facing some interruptions from agitated sections among the BJP, Paswan’s speech is worth a read.

Paswan recalls examples of shared citizenship and sacrifice saying, “…Can anyone say that among our freedom fighters, the sacrifice made by Sardar Bhagat Singh was inferior to anyone. During the 1965 war, many of our jawans were decorated with 'Vir Chakras', but Abdul Hameed received the highest honour of 'Paramvir Chakra'. Was his sacrifice, less than that of anyone? Will his sacrifice be underestimated just because be happened to be a Muslim? We attained independence on August 15, 1947. While some people chose the new State, the rest preferred to stay back. It is a fact that the country does not apprehend as much danger from Pakistan as from those within the country, who indulge in espionage and sell the country for a few silver coins. They are the worst enemies of the country.”

He spoke very presciently of the dangers of labelling sections of the Indian population anti-national and questioning their loyalty.

“Now, if people of my age, like Kumari Uma Bharti or myself start accusing the Indian Muslims of being Pakistani agents or the Indian Christians as British agents, it cannot be justified, on any ground. If one goes to U.S.A. and search for an original American, everyone would proudly say that he or she is an American. The Americans are a very united and patriotic people, irrespective of their enthnic origins. It's high time, we too realized it and drew a dividing line between the patriots and traitors. That line cannot be drawn on the basis of religion or community, nor in the name of Ram. The issue of Ram is theirs and of those who believe in him. Dr. Ambedkar has also said a lot about Ram. I don't want to go into that, including the fact that Sham-book was killed during Ram's regime…”

“I want to say that there should be no objection if anyone wants to build a Ram temple, a mosque, a gurudwara or a church, But one wonders, where do these people want to take the country, by demolishing an existing structure and building a temple at that place. Do we want to take the country towards savagery?”

Uma Bharati, also a member of parliament had spoken uninterrupted before Paswan made his speech.

Paswan then said, “Madam Chairperson, I want to point out here that the proponents of Hindutva tend to forget the fact that Hindus are there not only in India but also all over the world. When on 30th October, a rumour spread that the Babri Masjid had been demolished, some people in Bangladesh went to attack temples there. But when it came to be known that the Babri Masjid has escaped damage, the police opened fire on the rioters and about 20 people killed in the incident. But no temple was allowed to be damaged. Have the advocates of Hindutva ever thought of the repercussions on the Hindus in foreign countries, if a church or mosque is demolished in this country? Therefore, please don't intermix politics with religion to the extent that it would prove disastrous for our own brethren...”

“Therefore, Madam Chairperson, through you, I would like to say that today the question is not of Hindu-Muslim, nor or temple, mosque or gurudwara. Today, the issue at stake is our Constitution. The issue is to save that India, for whose freedom, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians had fought together and it is the duty of every citizen to safeguard our Constitution. The issue involves not only Hindus and Christians, but each and every citizen of this country. This is a matter concerning the Constitution and I believe that whichever Government comes to power, will have to go by the Constitution. No decision can be taken by putting the Constitution at stake. On behalf of the National Front and the Left front, I would like to warn the Union Government of disastrous consequences, if it allows the Constitution, to be subverted, constitutional provisions to be violated or if it surrenders before those forces which are aiming at subverting the Constitution. We at the National Front and Left Front would from a human chain around the Babri Masjid to protect it from those intending to demolish it. They will have to walk over our dead bodies to reach the mosque. Therefore, I would like to appeal to my countryman that those who have complete faith in our Constitution and the cardinal principals of secularism should come forward, for today our very Constitution is at stake. Yunus Saheb, Shri Syed Sahabuddin and others will tell the House about the loopholes and drawbacks of this legislation, but we support this Bill, as it is in consonance with our demand in this regard, although we, too, believe that this Bill does not carry within itself, a complete solution to this problem.”

“However, it would prove effective in checking the growing communal feeling within the country and attempts by certain forces to incite violence by declaring certain structures belonging to one community has their own. I would like to repeat that so far neither the Government's policies not its intentions were sincere and it has had its far-reaching consequences. At least now, the Government should rise above petty politics and formulate such policies that would act as a check on those forces, which till the other day, had abused Bhindranwale for mixing politics with religion and for using the Golden Temple for political purposes. But today they are themselves indulging in politics from temple and also justifying it. Therefore, no loopholes should be left in this law.”

“Hindus are in majority in this country and the secular forces within that community have very well seen through the games of the communalists and have understood the linkage between Ram and Politics.”

“The National Front is committed to protect secularism and I urge you to follow suit. I am thankful to you for bringing forward a legislation in this regard and I extend my support to this Bill.”

Re-visiting legislative history at a time when Indian Parliament has been held complete hostage to an autocratic majoritarianism is not just crucial; it could well help temper the winds that threaten to fan uncontrollable fires.
 

*Teesta Setalvad is a Human Rights defender, journalist and educationist. She is the co-founder of SabrangIndia and Secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP).

Related:

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JNU must withdraw order making the university out of bounds for Sucheta De: AICCTU

The trade union called the order an administrative attempt to continue unfair trade practices

18 May 2022

Sucheta de

As the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus persists with its out-of-bounds order against trade union leader Sucheta De, the latter asked authorities to withdraw the order by May 18, 2022. i.e by the end of the day today.

“That a University of such a repute seeks to issue a punitive order without any legal backing. That this is shocking and I hope that this would be withdrawn immediately. In view of the facts and circumstances above I request you to withdraw the office order,” said All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) President De in her letter addressed to the Chief Proctor.

She specifically decried the May 5 Vice-Chancellor’s order that said De will be declared out-of-bounds of the campus for her “undesirable activities”. De was actively involved in organising the JNU workers’ protest against non-payment of wages on May 6.

The contract workers have not received wages for several months and face threats of retrenchment for raising their demands. On May 4, they began their protest at the office of Dean of Students, of which De was an integral part as a trade union activist. For this, the ex-student of the university was barred from entry by authorities.

“The exercise of the authority by the university is arbitrary and remains unexplained and there are no specific charges against me [De] that have been made out by the university. It is a bald allegations and has no legal bearing,” she said.

The AICCTU too supported her in decrying the order as ‘malafide’ and an attempt to hide the unfair labour practices. Accordingly, the trade union asked the authorities to respond by Thursday.

“I hope to receive a positive response from your good office and I also hope that the issuance of the office order would be considered as a mere misunderstanding,” said De.

Meanwhile, AICCTU Delhi General Secretary Abhishek Kumar informed that none of the JNU workers have received their wages as of Wednesday.

Related:

AICCTU leader Sucheta De removed from JNU campus!

JNU administration draws flak for allegedly exploiting sanitation workers

Pay five-months salary or we stop work: JNU sanitation workers

JNU must withdraw order making the university out of bounds for Sucheta De: AICCTU

The trade union called the order an administrative attempt to continue unfair trade practices

Sucheta de

As the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus persists with its out-of-bounds order against trade union leader Sucheta De, the latter asked authorities to withdraw the order by May 18, 2022. i.e by the end of the day today.

“That a University of such a repute seeks to issue a punitive order without any legal backing. That this is shocking and I hope that this would be withdrawn immediately. In view of the facts and circumstances above I request you to withdraw the office order,” said All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) President De in her letter addressed to the Chief Proctor.

She specifically decried the May 5 Vice-Chancellor’s order that said De will be declared out-of-bounds of the campus for her “undesirable activities”. De was actively involved in organising the JNU workers’ protest against non-payment of wages on May 6.

The contract workers have not received wages for several months and face threats of retrenchment for raising their demands. On May 4, they began their protest at the office of Dean of Students, of which De was an integral part as a trade union activist. For this, the ex-student of the university was barred from entry by authorities.

“The exercise of the authority by the university is arbitrary and remains unexplained and there are no specific charges against me [De] that have been made out by the university. It is a bald allegations and has no legal bearing,” she said.

The AICCTU too supported her in decrying the order as ‘malafide’ and an attempt to hide the unfair labour practices. Accordingly, the trade union asked the authorities to respond by Thursday.

“I hope to receive a positive response from your good office and I also hope that the issuance of the office order would be considered as a mere misunderstanding,” said De.

Meanwhile, AICCTU Delhi General Secretary Abhishek Kumar informed that none of the JNU workers have received their wages as of Wednesday.

Related:

AICCTU leader Sucheta De removed from JNU campus!

JNU administration draws flak for allegedly exploiting sanitation workers

Pay five-months salary or we stop work: JNU sanitation workers

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Goa gov't will reprint books by Savarkar, Karnataka will teach Hedgewar’s speech

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant hails Savarkar as ‘glorious patriot’, RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar hailed as ‘writer’ fit for Karnataka school kids 

16 May 2022

 Chief Minister Pramod Sawant hails Savarkar as ‘glorious patriot’, RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar hailed as ‘writer’ fit for Karnataka school kids 

On Sunday, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant hailed right wing ‘hero’ Vinayak Damodar Savarkar as a ‘glorious patriot’. He also announced that his state government will soon re-print two books authored by Savarkar.

Sawant was speaking at the launch of ‘1957 che Swatantrya Samar’ and said that it was this book that had “ignited the flame of patriotism among many youth and the British regime banned this book. Fortunately, only one copy of this book was saved with a Goan person, and this helped in getting it re-printed.” The other book authored by Savarkar which will be reprinted by the state government is ‘Gomantak’. Both books will then be placed in all libraries in the state.

According to a report in Indian Express, the CM said Savarkar was a “Swatantryaveer” and an “unsung hero, who fought the British regime, faced the most brutal punishment and yet after India’s Independence, a section of people have only spread lies, falsehood and hatred against him… We as Indians have largely failed to acknowledge the life and work of this glorious patriot.” Sawant was speaking at the closing ceremony of the Kumaon Literary Festival (KLF) in Panaji, and praised the book ‘1957 che Swatantrya Samar’, saying it was this that “ignited the flame of patriotism among many youth and the British regime banned this book”. According to the CM, “One copy of this book was saved with a Goan person, and this helped in getting it re-printed.” The CM also released author Vikram Sampath’s book ‘Savarkar (Part 2): A Contested Legacy, 1924-1966.’ 

The Goa CM launched the Hindi and English editions of Sampath’s book and claimed, “Unfortunately, in our country, the history that has been forced upon us, has been the propaganda of the West and what they thought about us. They thought that we were a land of snake-charmers, they thought that we were a country of the poor. But my question is, did they invade us because we were poor? The answer is definitely no. The first person to challenge this vicious propaganda was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.”

According to Sawant along with the two books by Savarkar, Sampath’s book too will be circulated in libraries of Goa, reported Indian Express. Sampath described Savarkar as a “much-maligned” firebrand revolutionary, a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional genius, who had led a “stormy”, “tempestuous” life and was a complex character who simultaneously meant many things to many people.

Karnataka shows the rightwing way infiltirate books

The Hindutva ideology has now been injected into school curriculum in Karnataka. The state has now included the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar’s speech as in the Class X Kannada (first language, State syllabus) textbook from the 2022-23 academic year, reported The Hindu. The inclusion was recommended by the Textbook Revision Committee headed by writer Rohith Chakrateertha, in March, stated the news report. 

Titled “Nijavada Adarsha Purusha Yaraagabeku?” (Who should be the real role model?), it will now be a part of the Kannada prose textbook, being printed. The committee had submitted its final report to the government. 

According to The Hindu, Chakrateertha claimed this  was not an ideological imposition, and said “There was no pressure from any political party or organisation. This does not amount to imposing any organisation’s ideology on students. We have chosen Hedgewar as a writer and not on the basis of his ideology or organisation.”

P. Lankesh’s “Mruga Mattu Sundari” G. Ramakrishna’s “Bhagat Singh” dropped

According to the news report, some lessons dropped include works by Karnataka’s iconic writer and journalist P. Lankesh, titled “Mruga Mattu Sundari” and another by Leftist thinker G. Ramakrishna’s “Bhagat Singh”. The lessons that ‘replace’ them are works by writer Shivananda Kalave’s “Swadeshi Sutrada Sarala Habba” and M. Govinda Pai’s “Naanu Prasa Bitta Kathe”, reported the Hindu.

The other lessons dropped “in the detailed text are Sara Aboobacker’s “Yuddha”, A.N. Murthy Rao’s “Vyaghra Kathe”, and Shivakotyacharya’s “Sukumara Swamy Kathe”, and the inclusions now made “Vedic scholar the late Bannanje Govindacharya’s “Sukanashana Upadesha” and Shatavadhani R. Ganesh’s “Shrestha Bharatiya Chintanegalu” stated the news report.

In April 2022, the CBSE dropped poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, sections on Non-Alignment Movement, Cold War era, rise of Islamic empires in Afro-Asian territories, chronicles of Mughal courts, and the industrial revolution, from the CBSE’s Class 11 and 12 political science syllabus.

In 2020, The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), had ‘edited’ the Class 12 history syllabus and dropped the chapter 'The Mughal Court: Reconstructing Histories through Chronicles'.  Then the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) decided that high-school students no longer need to learn about “federalism, citizenship, nationalism, and secularism” and dropped the lesson from the political science curriculum of Class 11 along with those on demonetization. However, the 'deleted' topics were then restored in the 2021-22 academic session after much debate.

 

Related:

Rashtriya Shiksha Shredder: Rahul Gandhi on CBSE’s latest omissions

Films Division, NFAI “repositories of a national treasure”, closure is “means to erase”: John Brittas

Sonia points out ‘misogynistic’ passage in CBSE paper in Lok Sabha; board drops question 

Why does UGC want herds of students to take ‘cow science’ exams?

Goa gov't will reprint books by Savarkar, Karnataka will teach Hedgewar’s speech

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant hails Savarkar as ‘glorious patriot’, RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar hailed as ‘writer’ fit for Karnataka school kids 

 Chief Minister Pramod Sawant hails Savarkar as ‘glorious patriot’, RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar hailed as ‘writer’ fit for Karnataka school kids 

On Sunday, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant hailed right wing ‘hero’ Vinayak Damodar Savarkar as a ‘glorious patriot’. He also announced that his state government will soon re-print two books authored by Savarkar.

Sawant was speaking at the launch of ‘1957 che Swatantrya Samar’ and said that it was this book that had “ignited the flame of patriotism among many youth and the British regime banned this book. Fortunately, only one copy of this book was saved with a Goan person, and this helped in getting it re-printed.” The other book authored by Savarkar which will be reprinted by the state government is ‘Gomantak’. Both books will then be placed in all libraries in the state.

According to a report in Indian Express, the CM said Savarkar was a “Swatantryaveer” and an “unsung hero, who fought the British regime, faced the most brutal punishment and yet after India’s Independence, a section of people have only spread lies, falsehood and hatred against him… We as Indians have largely failed to acknowledge the life and work of this glorious patriot.” Sawant was speaking at the closing ceremony of the Kumaon Literary Festival (KLF) in Panaji, and praised the book ‘1957 che Swatantrya Samar’, saying it was this that “ignited the flame of patriotism among many youth and the British regime banned this book”. According to the CM, “One copy of this book was saved with a Goan person, and this helped in getting it re-printed.” The CM also released author Vikram Sampath’s book ‘Savarkar (Part 2): A Contested Legacy, 1924-1966.’ 

The Goa CM launched the Hindi and English editions of Sampath’s book and claimed, “Unfortunately, in our country, the history that has been forced upon us, has been the propaganda of the West and what they thought about us. They thought that we were a land of snake-charmers, they thought that we were a country of the poor. But my question is, did they invade us because we were poor? The answer is definitely no. The first person to challenge this vicious propaganda was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.”

According to Sawant along with the two books by Savarkar, Sampath’s book too will be circulated in libraries of Goa, reported Indian Express. Sampath described Savarkar as a “much-maligned” firebrand revolutionary, a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional genius, who had led a “stormy”, “tempestuous” life and was a complex character who simultaneously meant many things to many people.

Karnataka shows the rightwing way infiltirate books

The Hindutva ideology has now been injected into school curriculum in Karnataka. The state has now included the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar’s speech as in the Class X Kannada (first language, State syllabus) textbook from the 2022-23 academic year, reported The Hindu. The inclusion was recommended by the Textbook Revision Committee headed by writer Rohith Chakrateertha, in March, stated the news report. 

Titled “Nijavada Adarsha Purusha Yaraagabeku?” (Who should be the real role model?), it will now be a part of the Kannada prose textbook, being printed. The committee had submitted its final report to the government. 

According to The Hindu, Chakrateertha claimed this  was not an ideological imposition, and said “There was no pressure from any political party or organisation. This does not amount to imposing any organisation’s ideology on students. We have chosen Hedgewar as a writer and not on the basis of his ideology or organisation.”

P. Lankesh’s “Mruga Mattu Sundari” G. Ramakrishna’s “Bhagat Singh” dropped

According to the news report, some lessons dropped include works by Karnataka’s iconic writer and journalist P. Lankesh, titled “Mruga Mattu Sundari” and another by Leftist thinker G. Ramakrishna’s “Bhagat Singh”. The lessons that ‘replace’ them are works by writer Shivananda Kalave’s “Swadeshi Sutrada Sarala Habba” and M. Govinda Pai’s “Naanu Prasa Bitta Kathe”, reported the Hindu.

The other lessons dropped “in the detailed text are Sara Aboobacker’s “Yuddha”, A.N. Murthy Rao’s “Vyaghra Kathe”, and Shivakotyacharya’s “Sukumara Swamy Kathe”, and the inclusions now made “Vedic scholar the late Bannanje Govindacharya’s “Sukanashana Upadesha” and Shatavadhani R. Ganesh’s “Shrestha Bharatiya Chintanegalu” stated the news report.

In April 2022, the CBSE dropped poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, sections on Non-Alignment Movement, Cold War era, rise of Islamic empires in Afro-Asian territories, chronicles of Mughal courts, and the industrial revolution, from the CBSE’s Class 11 and 12 political science syllabus.

In 2020, The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), had ‘edited’ the Class 12 history syllabus and dropped the chapter 'The Mughal Court: Reconstructing Histories through Chronicles'.  Then the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) decided that high-school students no longer need to learn about “federalism, citizenship, nationalism, and secularism” and dropped the lesson from the political science curriculum of Class 11 along with those on demonetization. However, the 'deleted' topics were then restored in the 2021-22 academic session after much debate.

 

Related:

Rashtriya Shiksha Shredder: Rahul Gandhi on CBSE’s latest omissions

Films Division, NFAI “repositories of a national treasure”, closure is “means to erase”: John Brittas

Sonia points out ‘misogynistic’ passage in CBSE paper in Lok Sabha; board drops question 

Why does UGC want herds of students to take ‘cow science’ exams?

Related Articles


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Devendra Fadnavis uses foul language as Akbaruddin Owaisi visits Aurangzeb’s tomb, Asaduddin invokes Babri

Owaisi brothers are once again stirring the pot of communal politics; are they playing right into the hands of the Hindutva right… or was that the plan all along?

16 May 2022

Akbaruddin owaisi

Temple-Mosque politics took an ugly turn this weekend with communally charged diatribe rising to the surface once again.

On Saturday, Asaduddin Owaisi, president of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), while an Eid Milap programme in Ahmedabad said, “I want to tell you and the regime that, we have lost one Babri Masjid, we will not lose another mosque. You (regime) have used trickery and fraud to murder justice and steal one mosque from us. We will not let you snatch another mosque from us.”

On what is purportedly the other side of the political divide, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took to foul language to counter the AIMIM, especially Asaduddin's brother Akbaruddin Owaisi’s visit last Thursday to Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s tomb. NDTV quoted him as saying, “Asaduddin Owaisi goes and pays tribute to Aurangzeb on his grave and you keep seeing that, you should feel ashamed of it. Listen to me Owaisi, even a dog will not pee on the identity of Aurangzeb. Saffron will rule in Hindustan.”

Context of Asaduddin Owaisi's speech

In his speech at the Eid Milap program in Ahmedabad, Asaduddin Owaisi referred to the Places of Worship Act, according to which the character of a place of worship cannot be changed from what it was on Independence Day.

Owaisi referred to the Babri mosque that was razed in 1992 and Gyanvapi mosque where a video survey is underway. After three domes where namaz is offered were surveyed last week, the video survey at the Gyanvapi mosque located in Varanasi will resume on Monday.

After the Supreme Court judgment in the Ayodhya dispute case, there has been a resurgence in the demand of mosque lands to be restored to temples that were allegedly razed to build said mosques. The Gyanvapi mosque that was allegedly built from the debris of the Kashi-Vishwanath temple that was razed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and the Shahi Idgah mosque that is allegedly built on top of the dungeon in which Hindu deity Krishna was born in Mathura, are two such high profile mosques.

Readers would recall that last week a Varanasi court had refused to replace Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar and ordered that the survey be completed and a report be filed by May 17. The court had, however, appointed two more commissioners. This is in connection with a petition filed in August 2021 by five women, one of whom has since withdrawn her name from the case. They had moved the Civil Court (Senior Division), demanding that the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple be reopened, and people be allowed to offer prayers before the idols that are still kept there. The petitioners cited the right to practice one’s faith and religious freedom guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution. The court had ordered, “The survey will be conducted in Gyanvapi mosque and the entire barricaded area. Authorities will photograph and videograph the area. District authorities are ordered to open/break the lock of the basement and allow videography there as well.”

Meanwhile, after the appointment of Advocate Commissioners for the video survey at Gyanvapi mosque, two applications were moved before the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division) in Mathura to appoint an Advocate Commissioner to carry out a similar survey at the Shahi Idgah. The Times of India reported that the petitioner has demanded this survey to confirm the “existence of Hindu artifacts and religious inscriptions in the mosque premises.” This case pertains to the Krishna Janmabhoomi movement, which has also been gathering steam over the last two years. This case has been adjourned to July 1.

Akbaruddin Owaisi's controversial visit to Aurangzeb's tomb

The other Owaisi brother had visited the Mughal Emperor's tomb before addressing a  rally in Aurangabad last Thursday.

It is noteworthy that Akbaruddin Owaisi had drawn flak from other parties as well with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar dismissing the visit as another attempt “to create new controversy” in a state that is “functioning peacefully”. The Indian Express quoted Shiv Sena leader Chandrakant Khaire as saying, “No one, neither a Hindu or a Muslim, visits the tomb as Aurangzeb was the cruelest Mughal emperor. But Owaisi and his party leaders are trying to create a controversy for political benefit.”

Vote-bank politics or B-team?

The visit though could also be viewed as a political stunt, with the two brothers playing good-cop-bad-cop to appeal to different people in their target vote bank – Akbaruddin catering to hardliners and Asaduddin appealing to the moderates.

However, it cannot be denied that the actions of a high-profile community leader have only served to alienate the minority community further in an already communally charged atmosphere.

Maharashtra may have dodged a bullet in the Hanuman Chalisa-Azaan controversy and may not have seen conflict during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti, yet it remains a coveted state for the BJP that hopes to oust the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition and reclaim control of the state. So, one has to ask, who benefits most from Owaisi’s visit to Aurangzeb’s tomb?

 

Related:

Gyanvapi case: Two more advocate commissioners added to Shringar Gauri survey team

Gyanvapi case: Court to pronounce order in Shringar Gauri temple survey matter today

Gyanvapi case: One out of five withdrawing name from Maa Shringar Gauri temple petition?

Gyanvapi case: Videographic survey of Maa Shringar Gauri temple begins

Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC stays ASI survey, proceedings before lower court

Gyanvapi case: Varanasi court to hear petition to hold prayers in Shringar Gauri temple

Devendra Fadnavis uses foul language as Akbaruddin Owaisi visits Aurangzeb’s tomb, Asaduddin invokes Babri

Owaisi brothers are once again stirring the pot of communal politics; are they playing right into the hands of the Hindutva right… or was that the plan all along?

Akbaruddin owaisi

Temple-Mosque politics took an ugly turn this weekend with communally charged diatribe rising to the surface once again.

On Saturday, Asaduddin Owaisi, president of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), while an Eid Milap programme in Ahmedabad said, “I want to tell you and the regime that, we have lost one Babri Masjid, we will not lose another mosque. You (regime) have used trickery and fraud to murder justice and steal one mosque from us. We will not let you snatch another mosque from us.”

On what is purportedly the other side of the political divide, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took to foul language to counter the AIMIM, especially Asaduddin's brother Akbaruddin Owaisi’s visit last Thursday to Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s tomb. NDTV quoted him as saying, “Asaduddin Owaisi goes and pays tribute to Aurangzeb on his grave and you keep seeing that, you should feel ashamed of it. Listen to me Owaisi, even a dog will not pee on the identity of Aurangzeb. Saffron will rule in Hindustan.”

Context of Asaduddin Owaisi's speech

In his speech at the Eid Milap program in Ahmedabad, Asaduddin Owaisi referred to the Places of Worship Act, according to which the character of a place of worship cannot be changed from what it was on Independence Day.

Owaisi referred to the Babri mosque that was razed in 1992 and Gyanvapi mosque where a video survey is underway. After three domes where namaz is offered were surveyed last week, the video survey at the Gyanvapi mosque located in Varanasi will resume on Monday.

After the Supreme Court judgment in the Ayodhya dispute case, there has been a resurgence in the demand of mosque lands to be restored to temples that were allegedly razed to build said mosques. The Gyanvapi mosque that was allegedly built from the debris of the Kashi-Vishwanath temple that was razed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and the Shahi Idgah mosque that is allegedly built on top of the dungeon in which Hindu deity Krishna was born in Mathura, are two such high profile mosques.

Readers would recall that last week a Varanasi court had refused to replace Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar and ordered that the survey be completed and a report be filed by May 17. The court had, however, appointed two more commissioners. This is in connection with a petition filed in August 2021 by five women, one of whom has since withdrawn her name from the case. They had moved the Civil Court (Senior Division), demanding that the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple be reopened, and people be allowed to offer prayers before the idols that are still kept there. The petitioners cited the right to practice one’s faith and religious freedom guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution. The court had ordered, “The survey will be conducted in Gyanvapi mosque and the entire barricaded area. Authorities will photograph and videograph the area. District authorities are ordered to open/break the lock of the basement and allow videography there as well.”

Meanwhile, after the appointment of Advocate Commissioners for the video survey at Gyanvapi mosque, two applications were moved before the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division) in Mathura to appoint an Advocate Commissioner to carry out a similar survey at the Shahi Idgah. The Times of India reported that the petitioner has demanded this survey to confirm the “existence of Hindu artifacts and religious inscriptions in the mosque premises.” This case pertains to the Krishna Janmabhoomi movement, which has also been gathering steam over the last two years. This case has been adjourned to July 1.

Akbaruddin Owaisi's controversial visit to Aurangzeb's tomb

The other Owaisi brother had visited the Mughal Emperor's tomb before addressing a  rally in Aurangabad last Thursday.

It is noteworthy that Akbaruddin Owaisi had drawn flak from other parties as well with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar dismissing the visit as another attempt “to create new controversy” in a state that is “functioning peacefully”. The Indian Express quoted Shiv Sena leader Chandrakant Khaire as saying, “No one, neither a Hindu or a Muslim, visits the tomb as Aurangzeb was the cruelest Mughal emperor. But Owaisi and his party leaders are trying to create a controversy for political benefit.”

Vote-bank politics or B-team?

The visit though could also be viewed as a political stunt, with the two brothers playing good-cop-bad-cop to appeal to different people in their target vote bank – Akbaruddin catering to hardliners and Asaduddin appealing to the moderates.

However, it cannot be denied that the actions of a high-profile community leader have only served to alienate the minority community further in an already communally charged atmosphere.

Maharashtra may have dodged a bullet in the Hanuman Chalisa-Azaan controversy and may not have seen conflict during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti, yet it remains a coveted state for the BJP that hopes to oust the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition and reclaim control of the state. So, one has to ask, who benefits most from Owaisi’s visit to Aurangzeb’s tomb?

 

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Gyanvapi case: Videographic survey of Maa Shringar Gauri temple begins

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Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb resigns

Deb quit, a year ahead of Assembly Elections, a day after meeting party bosses in New Delhi

14 May 2022

biplab

On Saturday, May 14, Biplab Kumar Deb submitted his resignation from the post of Tripura Chief Minister to Governor SN Arya. The shock resignation comes ahead of state polls next year. Deb, the first Bharatiya Janata Party Chief Minister of the state has reportedly quit to take on a bigger role in the party ahead of the 2023 elections to the 60-seat Tripura Assembly. His short letter was made public on social media.

 

 

Biplab Deb, has joined the list of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Chief Ministers of Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Gujarat who were told to quit ahead of Assembly polls in their states. Deb was in Delhi on Thursday and had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda. 

According to a report in  News18, “the Tripura unit of the BJP has been rife with rumours of infighting”. Biplab Deb is likely to be “accommodated in the organisation” soon added the report. Deb resigned just a day after meeting his party bosses in New Delhi. Deb had shared that the two had “in-depth deliberations regarding development works and organization” but did not hint at an instant resignation then.

 

 

According to news reports Deb told the media that the BJP wants him “to work to strengthen the organisation." Some other news reports state  that Biplab Deb’s resignation comes on the heels of “reports of infighting within the BJP's state unit”. Meanwhile, the BJP has appointed its senior leaders Bhupender Yadav and Vinod Tawde, as observers for the election of the legislature party leader, stated news reports.

 

Related

Tripura: Muslim man lynched on suspicion of cattle theft

The Kashmir Files backed by PM, FM, CMs; continues to fuel divide 

Ensure strict compliance and obviate harassment: SC cautions Tripura Police

New Delhi: Journalists unions protest targeting, harassment 

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb resigns

Deb quit, a year ahead of Assembly Elections, a day after meeting party bosses in New Delhi

biplab

On Saturday, May 14, Biplab Kumar Deb submitted his resignation from the post of Tripura Chief Minister to Governor SN Arya. The shock resignation comes ahead of state polls next year. Deb, the first Bharatiya Janata Party Chief Minister of the state has reportedly quit to take on a bigger role in the party ahead of the 2023 elections to the 60-seat Tripura Assembly. His short letter was made public on social media.

 

 

Biplab Deb, has joined the list of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Chief Ministers of Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Gujarat who were told to quit ahead of Assembly polls in their states. Deb was in Delhi on Thursday and had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda. 

According to a report in  News18, “the Tripura unit of the BJP has been rife with rumours of infighting”. Biplab Deb is likely to be “accommodated in the organisation” soon added the report. Deb resigned just a day after meeting his party bosses in New Delhi. Deb had shared that the two had “in-depth deliberations regarding development works and organization” but did not hint at an instant resignation then.

 

 

According to news reports Deb told the media that the BJP wants him “to work to strengthen the organisation." Some other news reports state  that Biplab Deb’s resignation comes on the heels of “reports of infighting within the BJP's state unit”. Meanwhile, the BJP has appointed its senior leaders Bhupender Yadav and Vinod Tawde, as observers for the election of the legislature party leader, stated news reports.

 

Related

Tripura: Muslim man lynched on suspicion of cattle theft

The Kashmir Files backed by PM, FM, CMs; continues to fuel divide 

Ensure strict compliance and obviate harassment: SC cautions Tripura Police

New Delhi: Journalists unions protest targeting, harassment 

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Wah Taj! Busting the many conspiracy theories about the monument that represents India

Tejo Mahalay, the right-wing's favourite fan-fiction backed by an ex-Rajasthan royal, plots involving secret rooms, and other Whatsapp university chapters spin a tale about one of the wonders of the world

14 May 2022

Whatsapp university

Claim: Taj Mahal is a temple 'Tejo Mahal'

Busted: The Narendra Modi led government had told the Parliament in 2015 that this was not true. In 2000, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by PN Oak to declare that the Taj Mahal was built by a Hindu king.

Purushottam Nagesh Oak, better known as P.N Oak, was a ‘nationalist historian-writer-inventor-of-controversial-claims’ long before such things were discussed in Whatsapp groups. Oak is still remembered for his attempt at rewriting history and floating controversial theories that were later amplified by Hindutva forces for who ‘facts are not facts’ and history is fictional. These include ‘Taj Mahal, is Tejo Mahal temple’, ‘Qutub Minar, is a Vishnu Stambh’, ‘Chritianity is Krishna noti’ etc.

That Oak was a qualified lawyer, and also worked as a journalist for sometime gave power to his theory that ‘Islam and Christianity’ evolved from Hindutva. He put his theory on Taj Mahal down in a book in 1989. He reportedly claimed that it was 'Tejo Mahalay', a Hindu temple built by a Rajput ruler. His theory seems to have once again been fanned by Hindutva leaders, and members of a former ‘royal’ clan.

However, way back in 2000, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by Oak to declare that the Taj Mahal was built by a Hindu king. Now in May 2022, the Lucknow High Court, was approached seeking unlocking the Taj Mahal's "22 permanently locked rooms", many in its basement, "as they could be housing Hindu idols from ancient times".

However, according to a report in The Times of India, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials have said that the “plea is wrong on both counts," and that "the 'cells' as the rooms are called are 'not permanently closed'." The ASI further said that rooms were recently opened for conservation work. Most importantly the ASI said that all records scrutinised "have not pointed to the presence of any idols."

A senior ASI official was cited by TOI saying, “100 cells in the monument's complex that remain locked to the public are located in the basement, the upper storeys of the main mausoleum, the corner 'burjs', the four minarets, inside the baolis (near the mosque) and on the Chameli floor on east, west and north sides.”

This too is nothing new. Our friendly neighbourhood Whatsapp uncle and right wing conspiracy theorists need to only read news from 2015, when the Narendra Modi led government had told Lok Sabha that there was “no evidence that Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple.” According to a report in TOI from 2015, “Culture minister Mahesh Sharma told Lok Sabha, the government has not found any evidence that the Taj Mahal in Agra was a Hindu temple. In a written reply on a declaratory suit filed in an Agra court that Taj Mahal be declared a Hindu temple with right to worship for Hindus.” Sharma had said the government was aware of the suit and added that “so far government has not observed any effect on tourism because of the controversy.”

Flash forward to May 12, 2022, and the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court dismissed a plea seeking the opening of those rooms / cells of the Taj Mahal and put to rest the "alleged history" of the monument. According to a report in Bar and Bench, the petition was filed by one Dr. Rajneesh Singh, who claimed to be the media in-charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Ayodhya unit. The court however, was not impressed and told him to "Go and research. Do M.A. Do PhD. Then choose such a topic and if any institute disallows you to research on such a topic. Then come to us. Please enrol yourself in MA, then go for NET, JRF and if any university denies you to research on such topic then come to us." The Court ordered, "We are of the opinion that the petitioner has called upon us to give a verdict on completely a non-justiciable issue."

Related:

Is Taj Mahal not a part of Indian Culture?
Now, Hate Offender Nischalananda Saraswati demands "Hindu Rashtra"
Serial hate speech offender Paramhans Das rants about Taj Mahal security SOP
Why does NMA want to relocate two Ganesha idols from the Qutub Minar complex?
Ahmedabad: ‘Derogatory’ posts on WhatsApp land teacher in trouble
Mukul Goel removed as UP DGP for allegedly ‘neglecting work’
Over 500 activists and intellectuals stand with Prof. Ravi Kant

Wah Taj! Busting the many conspiracy theories about the monument that represents India

Tejo Mahalay, the right-wing's favourite fan-fiction backed by an ex-Rajasthan royal, plots involving secret rooms, and other Whatsapp university chapters spin a tale about one of the wonders of the world

Whatsapp university

Claim: Taj Mahal is a temple 'Tejo Mahal'

Busted: The Narendra Modi led government had told the Parliament in 2015 that this was not true. In 2000, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by PN Oak to declare that the Taj Mahal was built by a Hindu king.

Purushottam Nagesh Oak, better known as P.N Oak, was a ‘nationalist historian-writer-inventor-of-controversial-claims’ long before such things were discussed in Whatsapp groups. Oak is still remembered for his attempt at rewriting history and floating controversial theories that were later amplified by Hindutva forces for who ‘facts are not facts’ and history is fictional. These include ‘Taj Mahal, is Tejo Mahal temple’, ‘Qutub Minar, is a Vishnu Stambh’, ‘Chritianity is Krishna noti’ etc.

That Oak was a qualified lawyer, and also worked as a journalist for sometime gave power to his theory that ‘Islam and Christianity’ evolved from Hindutva. He put his theory on Taj Mahal down in a book in 1989. He reportedly claimed that it was 'Tejo Mahalay', a Hindu temple built by a Rajput ruler. His theory seems to have once again been fanned by Hindutva leaders, and members of a former ‘royal’ clan.

However, way back in 2000, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by Oak to declare that the Taj Mahal was built by a Hindu king. Now in May 2022, the Lucknow High Court, was approached seeking unlocking the Taj Mahal's "22 permanently locked rooms", many in its basement, "as they could be housing Hindu idols from ancient times".

However, according to a report in The Times of India, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials have said that the “plea is wrong on both counts," and that "the 'cells' as the rooms are called are 'not permanently closed'." The ASI further said that rooms were recently opened for conservation work. Most importantly the ASI said that all records scrutinised "have not pointed to the presence of any idols."

A senior ASI official was cited by TOI saying, “100 cells in the monument's complex that remain locked to the public are located in the basement, the upper storeys of the main mausoleum, the corner 'burjs', the four minarets, inside the baolis (near the mosque) and on the Chameli floor on east, west and north sides.”

This too is nothing new. Our friendly neighbourhood Whatsapp uncle and right wing conspiracy theorists need to only read news from 2015, when the Narendra Modi led government had told Lok Sabha that there was “no evidence that Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple.” According to a report in TOI from 2015, “Culture minister Mahesh Sharma told Lok Sabha, the government has not found any evidence that the Taj Mahal in Agra was a Hindu temple. In a written reply on a declaratory suit filed in an Agra court that Taj Mahal be declared a Hindu temple with right to worship for Hindus.” Sharma had said the government was aware of the suit and added that “so far government has not observed any effect on tourism because of the controversy.”

Flash forward to May 12, 2022, and the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court dismissed a plea seeking the opening of those rooms / cells of the Taj Mahal and put to rest the "alleged history" of the monument. According to a report in Bar and Bench, the petition was filed by one Dr. Rajneesh Singh, who claimed to be the media in-charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Ayodhya unit. The court however, was not impressed and told him to "Go and research. Do M.A. Do PhD. Then choose such a topic and if any institute disallows you to research on such a topic. Then come to us. Please enrol yourself in MA, then go for NET, JRF and if any university denies you to research on such topic then come to us." The Court ordered, "We are of the opinion that the petitioner has called upon us to give a verdict on completely a non-justiciable issue."

Related:

Is Taj Mahal not a part of Indian Culture?
Now, Hate Offender Nischalananda Saraswati demands "Hindu Rashtra"
Serial hate speech offender Paramhans Das rants about Taj Mahal security SOP
Why does NMA want to relocate two Ganesha idols from the Qutub Minar complex?
Ahmedabad: ‘Derogatory’ posts on WhatsApp land teacher in trouble
Mukul Goel removed as UP DGP for allegedly ‘neglecting work’
Over 500 activists and intellectuals stand with Prof. Ravi Kant

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EVMs for urban bodies, paper ballot for panchayat elections: MP Election Commission

Preparing for elections, Madhya Pradesh’s EC declares EVMs for cities and paper ballot for rural areas

13 May 2022

Madhya Pradesh
Image Courtesy:nationalheraldindia.com

Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) will be used in elections to urban bodies and ballot papers in voting for three-tier panchayats, said Madhya Pradesh Election Commissioner Basant Pratap Singh as per a Times of India report.

During a review of election preparations with collectors via video communication, Singh argued that EVMs would delay panchayat elections by over three months due to insufficient machines. Instead, he pushed for urban body elections to be done in two phases while panchayat elections be done via ballot paper in three phases. Addressing Director General of Police Sudhir Saxena and ACS (Home) Rajesh Rajoura, he called for proper security arrangements for peaceful elections, mentioning the “fragile and vulnerable booths” should be dealt with care.

As per commission rules, there should be consistent tracking of corporators’ accounts for election expenses. Polling stations and returning officers should be verified and reviewing data should be sent to the SEC immediately.

Earlier this year, there was much attention focused on EVMs during the Assembly elections particularly in Uttar Pradesh. On the eve of counting of votes, there was a major shuffle in the state’s Electoral Officers line-up. The Election Commission announced that the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) would be deputed as special officer in Meerut, and the Bihar CEO would be the counting in-charge in Varanasi. Further, there were overnight removals of nodal officers for controversies surrounding EVMs in Varanasi. A returning officer in Sonbhadra and an additional election officer in Bareilly were also removed.

All of this was done a day after the Samajwadi Party (SP) alleged major protocol violations in transporting EVMs. SP President Akhilesh Yadav even accused the Uttar Pradesh government of ‘stealing’ EVMs. Party members qualified this by sharing social media videos around March 8 evening showing a truck reportedly loaded with EVMs being moved from Varanasi.

However, at the time, District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma dismissed these as fake news and attempts of “some political parties” to “spread rumours”. He claimed that the EVMs in question were used for ‘hands-on training’ of counting officers on the eve of counting day.

Related:

Crisis of Democracy: Lessons from UP elections
UP: Multiple FIRs lodged against SP workers
EVM security: Whose responsibility is it anyway?
"Self-confession of 200 EVMS replaced," ECI registers a case

EVMs for urban bodies, paper ballot for panchayat elections: MP Election Commission

Preparing for elections, Madhya Pradesh’s EC declares EVMs for cities and paper ballot for rural areas

Madhya Pradesh
Image Courtesy:nationalheraldindia.com

Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) will be used in elections to urban bodies and ballot papers in voting for three-tier panchayats, said Madhya Pradesh Election Commissioner Basant Pratap Singh as per a Times of India report.

During a review of election preparations with collectors via video communication, Singh argued that EVMs would delay panchayat elections by over three months due to insufficient machines. Instead, he pushed for urban body elections to be done in two phases while panchayat elections be done via ballot paper in three phases. Addressing Director General of Police Sudhir Saxena and ACS (Home) Rajesh Rajoura, he called for proper security arrangements for peaceful elections, mentioning the “fragile and vulnerable booths” should be dealt with care.

As per commission rules, there should be consistent tracking of corporators’ accounts for election expenses. Polling stations and returning officers should be verified and reviewing data should be sent to the SEC immediately.

Earlier this year, there was much attention focused on EVMs during the Assembly elections particularly in Uttar Pradesh. On the eve of counting of votes, there was a major shuffle in the state’s Electoral Officers line-up. The Election Commission announced that the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) would be deputed as special officer in Meerut, and the Bihar CEO would be the counting in-charge in Varanasi. Further, there were overnight removals of nodal officers for controversies surrounding EVMs in Varanasi. A returning officer in Sonbhadra and an additional election officer in Bareilly were also removed.

All of this was done a day after the Samajwadi Party (SP) alleged major protocol violations in transporting EVMs. SP President Akhilesh Yadav even accused the Uttar Pradesh government of ‘stealing’ EVMs. Party members qualified this by sharing social media videos around March 8 evening showing a truck reportedly loaded with EVMs being moved from Varanasi.

However, at the time, District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma dismissed these as fake news and attempts of “some political parties” to “spread rumours”. He claimed that the EVMs in question were used for ‘hands-on training’ of counting officers on the eve of counting day.

Related:

Crisis of Democracy: Lessons from UP elections
UP: Multiple FIRs lodged against SP workers
EVM security: Whose responsibility is it anyway?
"Self-confession of 200 EVMS replaced," ECI registers a case

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Modi’s RBI and its myopic monetary measures

After demonetization, GST and Covid, India is still limping to a new economic normal

13 May 2022

Modi

Even though the primary objective of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), as mandated by the Finance Act - 2016 under the Modi Government, is to “maintain price stability” through formulating appropriate monetary policies, the RBI has miserably failed to fulfil the same.

Its incapability has become more visible in the last few months. The inflation was beyond comfortable limit of 4% for more than a year now. While the 2016 act, stipulates the permissible inflation rate at 4% with a band of plus or minus 2%, the retail inflation in India had crossed 6% mark by January itself. According to the recent statement by the RBI, the retail inflation for the month of April has not only breached 7% mark, but also reached an all-time high of 7.69%.

Modi Model and Inflation

The inflation or the price rise, in generic term, is always bad news for the have nots. Inflation is an “indirect taxation” by which the market sucks extra money from the people without any legislation. Inflation becomes deadly to people’s lives and nation’s economy when the real wages and incomes, and hence, the demand, is in decline. Since the inflation cuts into the purchasing power of the masses, consumption decreases. This in turn results in fall in demand leading to decline of business. This may further result in unemployment, under employment and increased poverty. This is a vicious cycle.

India is facing such gory economic situation since demonetisation. This Modi-made economic disaster resulted in at least a fall of 2% of GDP affecting the informal sector, the MSMEs, and the farmers where 92 % of Indian work force is employed. Even before recovering from this shock, GST was imposed which further pushed the informal sector to big chaos. The consumption data partially released and later officially withdrawn from the Modi government, during that period, showed how these policies caused decline in consumption which was lowest in the last four decades. Thus, even before the Covid  pandemic, the real wages of the people and the demand in the economy was declining resulting in the continuous decline in the GDP growth rate.

This situation got aggravated in the wake of Covid pandemic and especially by the most arbitrary and unscientific lockdowns imposed by the Modi government. While more than 4 million lives were lost due to Covid, crores of people have yet to regain their livelihood and gainful employment due to lock downs. Even for those who are in the jobs and semi jobs the wages have been decreasing in its real value.

This situation has moved from bad to worse due to the continuous increases of the prices of essential commodities like rice, wheat, edible oil, vegetables, and above all the prices of petrol and Diesel, which is in fact inflation multiplier, in the last one year. The retail inflation which is calculated on the basis of Consumer Price Index, where food basket constitutes more than 45%, has reached intolerable level of 7%. Even the prices of cement, steel, and manufactured goods are also increasing. Most crucial is the increase of prices of petroleum products, of which 85% are imported by the country. Hence part of the inflation is imported.


Inflated ego and deflated Rupee

Now that the exchange rate of rupee against the dollar has fallen to a historical low of Rs. 77.40/-, and is likely to depreciate further in the coming weeks, Indian imports are certain to become costlier, since the dollar component dominates Indian foreign trade. Because of the slump in the international commodity market, Indian commodity exports are not picking up. In spite of high  claims of the Modi government about the record exports, the fact remains that while India exported USD 417 billion worth of goods in 2021-22, the imports were to the tune of USD 610 billion an increase of more than USD 200 billion than the previous year.

So much for the economy of Hindu Atmanirbharata.

This chronic import dependence has resulted in depreciation of the Rupee against the Dollar since Indian Independence which has become unmanageable after the neoliberal reforms initiated in 1991, where administered exchange rate regime was changed to partial convertibility of rupee rate and later to full convertibility.

Thus, while at the time of independence the exchange rate of rupee against the dollar was Rs. 4.70, it slowly raised to Rs. 17 at the beginning of corporate capital reforms in 1991. After the exchange rate liberalisation was implemented, the exchange rate rose to Rs. 43 in 2000 and to around Rs 55 before 2014.

One of the electoral planks of Modi and BJP was that during the UPA regime the value of rupee and hence the dignity of the nation was depreciated. It was caused not because of any economic compulsions but due to political mismanagement and corruption of the Congress party

The present state president of BJP in Karnataka, Mr. Nalin Kumar Kateel, even went to an extent of publicly claiming that if Modi comes to power, with in a span of two years, Indian economy will  become so strong that instead of an exchange rate of Rs 60 to a dollar, an exchange rate of USD 15 for a rupee will be realised!

Any way… no magic happened. Rather economy declined further, import dependence multiplied and hence historic decline of Rupee to Rs. 77.60 against dollar. Thus, the decline of rupee will make imports costlier which in turn would lead to higher prices and inflation.


Political risk and capital flight            

Another reason for the depreciation of the rupee and hence inflation is capital flight of foreign investors from the Indian stock market. It is said that after the “second coming” of Modi, more than 22 billion dollars of foreign institutional investment has been withdrawn due to the increasing political risk to their investment due to growing polarisation and violence in the country. After the war broke out the sentiment of uncertainty made the foreign investors pull out of Indian market further.

While these are the inherent reasons for the increasing inflation, there are also additional and immediate reasons like the Russia- Ukraine war. The war has poured salt to the wound of Indian  inflation.

Due to the war induced geo-economic situation, the international crude oil prices are increasing. On the other hand, Indonesia has declared ban on its edible oil exports and likewise Malaysia. India imports 60% of its edible oil from Indonesia, Malaysia and Ukraine. All these factors have increased the prices of food items so, says the Modi government to paint a helpless picture.

But the prices of both petroleum products and edible oil in India is exorbitantly high not only because of increase in its international prices but majorly because of excise duties and the cess imposed, primarily, by the Central government and state governments. 50 to 60 of prices of the petroleum products are taxes and cess and 40 to 50 of price of imported edible oils are import duties.

Modi Made Inflation

Thus, the inflation in India is:

1) Imported- excessive dependence on Imports, aggravated during Modi regime but has its roots in the neoliberal policies for which previous governments are also responsible.

2) Modi Made-

a) Because the prices of imported goods are artificially exorbitant due to Modi taxes

b) The capital flight of investors resulting in decline of rupee and costlier imports due to Modis politics of Hindu majoritarianism.

Hence the moot question is whether these politico-economic factors causing inflation be mitigated by narrow financial instruments available to RBI?

After the Financial amendment act of 2016, the primary objective of the RBI is to control inflation through monetary policies. That is by controlling money flow in the economy.

Myopic monetary instruments and Monstrous Political Economy

The monetary instruments available to RBI to control money flow are by controlling the interest rates through imposing flexible Repo rates and controlling money available for transactions to the banks by imposing flexible CRR – Cash Reserve Ratio.

When the economy is facing demand crunch, the RBI reduces Repo rate thereby effecting the interest rate on the loans there by encouraging spending and investing, which in turn is expected to stimulate demand. Likewise, the Cash ratio, the amount of cash per deposit each bank is expected to rest in RBI is also decreased so that more money is available with banks for transactions.

On the other hand, when the prices are increasing, RBI construes the reason behind it as the over supply of money in the economy. So, to suck back the extra money it increases the interest rates and the CRR so that money available for transactions are curtailed.

The underlying dogma of the central Banks like RBI, under neoliberalism, in controlling inflation is: the primary and sole reason for the inflation is over flow of the money in the economy.

This may be true in some circumstances where economy is over performing. But price rise also happens when there are supply side constraints., when cost of production is increasing due to mismanagement of the economy or chronic import dependence. The Interest rate increase or effecting the decrease of money flow in the economy would not result in inflation control in such circumstances because the root cause of inflation is entirely different.

Such myopic monetary policies may result in an economic disaster in countries where the real income and the demand in the economy is already hit badly and the growth is already declining. In such a situation policies like interest rate hikes may result in further decline of economic activities creating a situation of Stagflation and economic crisis also.

Indian economy is facing a situation similar to the second example. Indian economy needs more demand push, more money flow in the hands of MSMEs etc. The recent RBI measures in the name of curbing inflation by hiking the Repo rate from 4 to 4.4% and the CRR hike from 4 to 4.5% will lead to further demand crunch, further unemployment without decreasing the inflation. Because inflation  in India at present is mainly due to Petroleum and edible oil price hike, which is caused by the taxation policies of the Modi government and not due to overflow of money or excessive economic activities.

It is said that RBI has been suggesting the government to reduce the excise duties to tame the inflation but the Modi government is not heeding. Hence the RBI, in its extraordinary meeting resorted to repo rate and CRR hike.

Through this myopic monetary policy RBI might have satisfied the inflated ego of the prime minister, but these measures will deflate the living conditions of the broad masses of the people.

This might also satisfy the credit agencies who subscribe to neoliberal monetary policy of inflation control, price stability etc., serving the needs of finance capital. But these policies will only protect the billionaires of corporate finance, but result in total destabilisation of the lives of crores of people.

*Views expressed are the author’s own. The author is a Karnataka-based journalist and activist.

Modi’s RBI and its myopic monetary measures

After demonetization, GST and Covid, India is still limping to a new economic normal

Modi

Even though the primary objective of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), as mandated by the Finance Act - 2016 under the Modi Government, is to “maintain price stability” through formulating appropriate monetary policies, the RBI has miserably failed to fulfil the same.

Its incapability has become more visible in the last few months. The inflation was beyond comfortable limit of 4% for more than a year now. While the 2016 act, stipulates the permissible inflation rate at 4% with a band of plus or minus 2%, the retail inflation in India had crossed 6% mark by January itself. According to the recent statement by the RBI, the retail inflation for the month of April has not only breached 7% mark, but also reached an all-time high of 7.69%.

Modi Model and Inflation

The inflation or the price rise, in generic term, is always bad news for the have nots. Inflation is an “indirect taxation” by which the market sucks extra money from the people without any legislation. Inflation becomes deadly to people’s lives and nation’s economy when the real wages and incomes, and hence, the demand, is in decline. Since the inflation cuts into the purchasing power of the masses, consumption decreases. This in turn results in fall in demand leading to decline of business. This may further result in unemployment, under employment and increased poverty. This is a vicious cycle.

India is facing such gory economic situation since demonetisation. This Modi-made economic disaster resulted in at least a fall of 2% of GDP affecting the informal sector, the MSMEs, and the farmers where 92 % of Indian work force is employed. Even before recovering from this shock, GST was imposed which further pushed the informal sector to big chaos. The consumption data partially released and later officially withdrawn from the Modi government, during that period, showed how these policies caused decline in consumption which was lowest in the last four decades. Thus, even before the Covid  pandemic, the real wages of the people and the demand in the economy was declining resulting in the continuous decline in the GDP growth rate.

This situation got aggravated in the wake of Covid pandemic and especially by the most arbitrary and unscientific lockdowns imposed by the Modi government. While more than 4 million lives were lost due to Covid, crores of people have yet to regain their livelihood and gainful employment due to lock downs. Even for those who are in the jobs and semi jobs the wages have been decreasing in its real value.

This situation has moved from bad to worse due to the continuous increases of the prices of essential commodities like rice, wheat, edible oil, vegetables, and above all the prices of petrol and Diesel, which is in fact inflation multiplier, in the last one year. The retail inflation which is calculated on the basis of Consumer Price Index, where food basket constitutes more than 45%, has reached intolerable level of 7%. Even the prices of cement, steel, and manufactured goods are also increasing. Most crucial is the increase of prices of petroleum products, of which 85% are imported by the country. Hence part of the inflation is imported.


Inflated ego and deflated Rupee

Now that the exchange rate of rupee against the dollar has fallen to a historical low of Rs. 77.40/-, and is likely to depreciate further in the coming weeks, Indian imports are certain to become costlier, since the dollar component dominates Indian foreign trade. Because of the slump in the international commodity market, Indian commodity exports are not picking up. In spite of high  claims of the Modi government about the record exports, the fact remains that while India exported USD 417 billion worth of goods in 2021-22, the imports were to the tune of USD 610 billion an increase of more than USD 200 billion than the previous year.

So much for the economy of Hindu Atmanirbharata.

This chronic import dependence has resulted in depreciation of the Rupee against the Dollar since Indian Independence which has become unmanageable after the neoliberal reforms initiated in 1991, where administered exchange rate regime was changed to partial convertibility of rupee rate and later to full convertibility.

Thus, while at the time of independence the exchange rate of rupee against the dollar was Rs. 4.70, it slowly raised to Rs. 17 at the beginning of corporate capital reforms in 1991. After the exchange rate liberalisation was implemented, the exchange rate rose to Rs. 43 in 2000 and to around Rs 55 before 2014.

One of the electoral planks of Modi and BJP was that during the UPA regime the value of rupee and hence the dignity of the nation was depreciated. It was caused not because of any economic compulsions but due to political mismanagement and corruption of the Congress party

The present state president of BJP in Karnataka, Mr. Nalin Kumar Kateel, even went to an extent of publicly claiming that if Modi comes to power, with in a span of two years, Indian economy will  become so strong that instead of an exchange rate of Rs 60 to a dollar, an exchange rate of USD 15 for a rupee will be realised!

Any way… no magic happened. Rather economy declined further, import dependence multiplied and hence historic decline of Rupee to Rs. 77.60 against dollar. Thus, the decline of rupee will make imports costlier which in turn would lead to higher prices and inflation.


Political risk and capital flight            

Another reason for the depreciation of the rupee and hence inflation is capital flight of foreign investors from the Indian stock market. It is said that after the “second coming” of Modi, more than 22 billion dollars of foreign institutional investment has been withdrawn due to the increasing political risk to their investment due to growing polarisation and violence in the country. After the war broke out the sentiment of uncertainty made the foreign investors pull out of Indian market further.

While these are the inherent reasons for the increasing inflation, there are also additional and immediate reasons like the Russia- Ukraine war. The war has poured salt to the wound of Indian  inflation.

Due to the war induced geo-economic situation, the international crude oil prices are increasing. On the other hand, Indonesia has declared ban on its edible oil exports and likewise Malaysia. India imports 60% of its edible oil from Indonesia, Malaysia and Ukraine. All these factors have increased the prices of food items so, says the Modi government to paint a helpless picture.

But the prices of both petroleum products and edible oil in India is exorbitantly high not only because of increase in its international prices but majorly because of excise duties and the cess imposed, primarily, by the Central government and state governments. 50 to 60 of prices of the petroleum products are taxes and cess and 40 to 50 of price of imported edible oils are import duties.

Modi Made Inflation

Thus, the inflation in India is:

1) Imported- excessive dependence on Imports, aggravated during Modi regime but has its roots in the neoliberal policies for which previous governments are also responsible.

2) Modi Made-

a) Because the prices of imported goods are artificially exorbitant due to Modi taxes

b) The capital flight of investors resulting in decline of rupee and costlier imports due to Modis politics of Hindu majoritarianism.

Hence the moot question is whether these politico-economic factors causing inflation be mitigated by narrow financial instruments available to RBI?

After the Financial amendment act of 2016, the primary objective of the RBI is to control inflation through monetary policies. That is by controlling money flow in the economy.

Myopic monetary instruments and Monstrous Political Economy

The monetary instruments available to RBI to control money flow are by controlling the interest rates through imposing flexible Repo rates and controlling money available for transactions to the banks by imposing flexible CRR – Cash Reserve Ratio.

When the economy is facing demand crunch, the RBI reduces Repo rate thereby effecting the interest rate on the loans there by encouraging spending and investing, which in turn is expected to stimulate demand. Likewise, the Cash ratio, the amount of cash per deposit each bank is expected to rest in RBI is also decreased so that more money is available with banks for transactions.

On the other hand, when the prices are increasing, RBI construes the reason behind it as the over supply of money in the economy. So, to suck back the extra money it increases the interest rates and the CRR so that money available for transactions are curtailed.

The underlying dogma of the central Banks like RBI, under neoliberalism, in controlling inflation is: the primary and sole reason for the inflation is over flow of the money in the economy.

This may be true in some circumstances where economy is over performing. But price rise also happens when there are supply side constraints., when cost of production is increasing due to mismanagement of the economy or chronic import dependence. The Interest rate increase or effecting the decrease of money flow in the economy would not result in inflation control in such circumstances because the root cause of inflation is entirely different.

Such myopic monetary policies may result in an economic disaster in countries where the real income and the demand in the economy is already hit badly and the growth is already declining. In such a situation policies like interest rate hikes may result in further decline of economic activities creating a situation of Stagflation and economic crisis also.

Indian economy is facing a situation similar to the second example. Indian economy needs more demand push, more money flow in the hands of MSMEs etc. The recent RBI measures in the name of curbing inflation by hiking the Repo rate from 4 to 4.4% and the CRR hike from 4 to 4.5% will lead to further demand crunch, further unemployment without decreasing the inflation. Because inflation  in India at present is mainly due to Petroleum and edible oil price hike, which is caused by the taxation policies of the Modi government and not due to overflow of money or excessive economic activities.

It is said that RBI has been suggesting the government to reduce the excise duties to tame the inflation but the Modi government is not heeding. Hence the RBI, in its extraordinary meeting resorted to repo rate and CRR hike.

Through this myopic monetary policy RBI might have satisfied the inflated ego of the prime minister, but these measures will deflate the living conditions of the broad masses of the people.

This might also satisfy the credit agencies who subscribe to neoliberal monetary policy of inflation control, price stability etc., serving the needs of finance capital. But these policies will only protect the billionaires of corporate finance, but result in total destabilisation of the lives of crores of people.

*Views expressed are the author’s own. The author is a Karnataka-based journalist and activist.

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Sabrang

UP may waive loans of over 33,000 farmers, but is that the way to go?

NABARD warns against the dangers of repeated farmer loan waivers

13 May 2022

farm loan waiverRepresentation Image


Uttar Pradesh’s local news outlets such as Jagran, News 18 Hindi and even News NCR recently reported the state government’s intentions to waive loans of over 33,000 farmers amounting to ₹ 200 cr. However, wisened by their previous encounters with the regime, local farmer leaders accused the administration of making tall claims.

According to News NCR, the Agriculture Department is sending a detailed proposal to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to waive the loans of 33,408 farmers who have been waiting for such relief for five years. If approved, the loan waiver will provide relief for farmers in 19 districts. The same will be implemented under the State Government Crop Loan Redemption Scheme 2017 started on July 9, 2017. The scheme waives loans upto ₹ 1 lakh for small and marginal farmers.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU-Shamli) leader Ompal Malik told SabrangIndia that at the time nearly 3,000 farmers in Lucknow were excluded from the list of eligible candidates. “Farmers who in 2017 had loans less than ₹ 1 lakh continued to receive interests. Now some of their loans exceed 1 lakh,” said Malik. As for the latest update, he said no BKU farmer has received any update regarding this announcement. He accused the state government of repeatedly making such announcements without a proper plan of action.

Similarly, another SKM leader of the UP unit, Manish Bharti, said that no farmer, regardless of the size of farmland, has received any information on loan waivers for many years. Instead, many farmers are being asked for loan payment recoveries in Meerut. “They mention 19 districts but don’t specify which regions. All of this shows that they only want to give speeches to placate us. This government is making fun of farmers,” said Bharti.

Is loan waiver truly beneficial?

A NABARD research study ‘Farm Loan Waivers in India’ published on April 22 stated that ‘indebtedness’ is a result of distress and not the immediate cause. An inability to earn enough income indebts a farmer. Recurrent losses and falling margins results in defaults which leads to a vicious cycle of debt- distress- further debt.

“Farm loan waivers (FLW) were designed as a reaction to acute agrarian distress and to ensure the continuity of future credit, but it has tacitly evolved to emerge as a political tool that is strategically used by political parties to influence rural voters,” concludes the study by Shweta Saini, Siraj Hussain and Pulkit Khatri.

It observed that the year wherein an FLW is implemented, the government reduces capital expenditure. Similarly, financial institutions reduce lending and there is worsened credit discipline among farmers in the medium to long run.

Moreover, researchers saw that FLWs only address indebtedness and not the original causes of distress like lack of remunerative prices. As a result, the schemes serve as temporary relief during which farmers incur more debt.

“In such a scenario, a farm loan waiver only proves to be a ‘jury-rigged expedient’ — a quick fix that requires recurrent application,” says the study.

Seeking to understand the political impact, the study said that only 4 out of 21 political parties in the last 30 years lost the election following promises of FLW implementation. These parties included the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.

A related study by Phadnis and Gupta in the report said that all political parties, left-wing, right-wing and centrist parties alike, announce FLWs. Moreover, most waiver schemes were announced by states who could afford the waiver fiscally. After 2016, high fiscal debt did not deter several states from announcing waivers. Another observation was that waivers were announced regardless of droughts in the area, a proxy for farmer distress.

“The timing of waivers was found to be an important factor determining the correlation between waivers and electoral wins – proximity to elections mattered. The closer the announcement of waiver was to elections, the greater was the political mileage gained by parties,” says the study.

Related:

SKM breaks down demand for MSP to masses

Jal Satyagraha as part of farmers' MSP week protests

No MSP committee until Centre clarifies mandate: SKM

UP Assembly Elections: Farmers dealt a mighty blow to the BJP in some constituencies

UP may waive loans of over 33,000 farmers, but is that the way to go?

NABARD warns against the dangers of repeated farmer loan waivers

farm loan waiverRepresentation Image


Uttar Pradesh’s local news outlets such as Jagran, News 18 Hindi and even News NCR recently reported the state government’s intentions to waive loans of over 33,000 farmers amounting to ₹ 200 cr. However, wisened by their previous encounters with the regime, local farmer leaders accused the administration of making tall claims.

According to News NCR, the Agriculture Department is sending a detailed proposal to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to waive the loans of 33,408 farmers who have been waiting for such relief for five years. If approved, the loan waiver will provide relief for farmers in 19 districts. The same will be implemented under the State Government Crop Loan Redemption Scheme 2017 started on July 9, 2017. The scheme waives loans upto ₹ 1 lakh for small and marginal farmers.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU-Shamli) leader Ompal Malik told SabrangIndia that at the time nearly 3,000 farmers in Lucknow were excluded from the list of eligible candidates. “Farmers who in 2017 had loans less than ₹ 1 lakh continued to receive interests. Now some of their loans exceed 1 lakh,” said Malik. As for the latest update, he said no BKU farmer has received any update regarding this announcement. He accused the state government of repeatedly making such announcements without a proper plan of action.

Similarly, another SKM leader of the UP unit, Manish Bharti, said that no farmer, regardless of the size of farmland, has received any information on loan waivers for many years. Instead, many farmers are being asked for loan payment recoveries in Meerut. “They mention 19 districts but don’t specify which regions. All of this shows that they only want to give speeches to placate us. This government is making fun of farmers,” said Bharti.

Is loan waiver truly beneficial?

A NABARD research study ‘Farm Loan Waivers in India’ published on April 22 stated that ‘indebtedness’ is a result of distress and not the immediate cause. An inability to earn enough income indebts a farmer. Recurrent losses and falling margins results in defaults which leads to a vicious cycle of debt- distress- further debt.

“Farm loan waivers (FLW) were designed as a reaction to acute agrarian distress and to ensure the continuity of future credit, but it has tacitly evolved to emerge as a political tool that is strategically used by political parties to influence rural voters,” concludes the study by Shweta Saini, Siraj Hussain and Pulkit Khatri.

It observed that the year wherein an FLW is implemented, the government reduces capital expenditure. Similarly, financial institutions reduce lending and there is worsened credit discipline among farmers in the medium to long run.

Moreover, researchers saw that FLWs only address indebtedness and not the original causes of distress like lack of remunerative prices. As a result, the schemes serve as temporary relief during which farmers incur more debt.

“In such a scenario, a farm loan waiver only proves to be a ‘jury-rigged expedient’ — a quick fix that requires recurrent application,” says the study.

Seeking to understand the political impact, the study said that only 4 out of 21 political parties in the last 30 years lost the election following promises of FLW implementation. These parties included the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.

A related study by Phadnis and Gupta in the report said that all political parties, left-wing, right-wing and centrist parties alike, announce FLWs. Moreover, most waiver schemes were announced by states who could afford the waiver fiscally. After 2016, high fiscal debt did not deter several states from announcing waivers. Another observation was that waivers were announced regardless of droughts in the area, a proxy for farmer distress.

“The timing of waivers was found to be an important factor determining the correlation between waivers and electoral wins – proximity to elections mattered. The closer the announcement of waiver was to elections, the greater was the political mileage gained by parties,” says the study.

Related:

SKM breaks down demand for MSP to masses

Jal Satyagraha as part of farmers' MSP week protests

No MSP committee until Centre clarifies mandate: SKM

UP Assembly Elections: Farmers dealt a mighty blow to the BJP in some constituencies

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