Wednesday, November 8, 2017

One Year After Demonetisation: BJP Still Mounting New Goalposts

We, the people of India, today observe the first anniversary of an enormous tragedy that caused widespread distress and suffering to 125 crore Indians. The unwitting, thoughtless, unplanned and mismanaged decision of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi – completely driven by personal ambitions thrusted upon 125 Crore Indians has resulted in an ‘Economic Disaster of Monumental Proportions’. The Narendra Modi Government has launched a no holds barred publicity blitzkrieg to convert the entire debate of demonetisation into binaries of ‘Black Money vs White Money’, but the reality on the ground is that there is insurmountable pain and anguish. 

PM Narendra Modi inflicted a ‘Scam of the Century’ at the expense of our countrymen by this reckless decision. The BJP indulged in organized loot and legalized plunder while the common people of India were forced to queue outside banks and ATM’s. Today, we recall those unsung, unspoken and undocumented people who lost their lives when PM Modi conducted this gigantic social experiment to traumatize them. While the back bone of India’s Economy – the Informal Sector which consists of crores of farmers, daily wage earners, migrants, labourers, craftsmen, street vendors, small traders was devastated by this one ‘Tughlaqi Farmaan’ by – the BJP converted crores of its ill gotten money into ‘legal tender’. 

Demonetisation displayed a brazen display of utter disdain by the Modi Government for Institutions. The reputation of the Reserve Bank of India was shattered into pieces. One man’s adventurism writ large as an unplanned, ill prepared Government and administration took upon itself to implement this huge exercise. Not less than 135 notifications and orders were passed and rules were changed by the minute to enforce the will of one person, while the citizens suffered. 

None of the stated objectives of eliminating black money, terror financing and counterfeit currency have been met. To promote a less-cash economy, coercive steps like demonetisation were ineffective. The Cash in Circulation after one year is close to 90% of previous levels. The fact that more than 99% of the demonetised currency came back into the banking system, has punctured the government’s claims. There are also widespread reports of the rich converting their black money into white while the poor suffered. 

Where has the Black Money gone?

RBI Report reflects that out of 15.44 lakh crore money in circulation at the time of demonetisation on November 8, 2016; Rs 15.28 lakh crore have been received back. It means that only Rs 16,000 crore did not come back, so far. 

On the contrary, Prime Minister and Finance Minister had claimed that demonetisation would result in non-deposit of Rs 3-5 lakh crore of black money. On December 10, 2016; Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court that “The Government expects Rs 10 or 11 lakh crore out of a total of Rs 15 lakh crore.

Will Modi ji answer as to where has the black money gone, as almost the entire money has been re-deposited?

Where is the ‘Fake Currency’? – Is it Another ‘Jumla’?

PM Modi had announced that detecting fake currency notes was the logic behind demonetisation. Even Finance Ministry in its press release dated 8th November, 2016 had stated detecting fake currency as the reason for demonetisation.

RBI Report has revealed the falsehood of this claim also. Out of 15.28 lakh crore currencies received back, only Rs41 crore currency was found to be fake i.e. 0.0013%. Once 99.998% currency has been found to be genuine, and then the entire logic given by Prime Minister has utterly failed.

Fake Currency in shape of the new Rs 500/Rs 2000 notes has already been detected. In one case, children were caught photocopying and circulating the new Rs 2000 note. 

Has Terrorism &Naxalism been curbed?

Another reason given by Prime Minister Modi for demonetisation was stoppage of terrorism and Naxalism. Facts belie this claim also. Post-demonetisation, there have been 50 major terror incidents in J&K alone, in which 80Jawanshave been martyred and 51 civilians killed.

Also, there have been 17 major naxal attacks after demonetisation, in which 69 security personnel were martyred and 86 civilians killed. What is the logic of Prime Minister’s claim is un-understandable in view of these figures? 

Cost of printing ‘New Currency’ is more than ‘Savings’- Proves the folly of Demonetisation

RBI Report says that only 16,000 crore was not deposited back. RBI Report further reveals that a sum of Rs.25,391 crore was spent on printing/logistics of New notes. Will Modi ji tell the logic of spending 25,391 crore rupees to save 16,000 crore rupees?

Has India moved towards a ‘Digital Economy’? 

Last reason given by PM Modi was promotion of digital transaction in the economy. Even this logic appears to have failed. In November, 2016 (prior to demonetisation), value of digital transactions in our economy was 94 lakh crore. Post-demonetisation in July 2017, value of digital transactions was 104 lakh crore i.e. a mere jump of 10 lakh crore over pre-demonetisation period. 

Truth is that the biggest increase in digital transactions happened during Congress-rule. Between 2011-12 to 2012-13, digital transactions jumped by 53%. Between 2012-13 to 2013-14, digital transactions again increased by 49%. This data completely defeats the assertions of the Prime Minister.

Has ‘Black Money’ been seized? 

PM Modi and FM Jaitley have been brandishing that since November 2016 upto May 2017, a total Rs 17,526 Crore has been detected as ‘Undisclosed Income’. They forget to mention that 5 times more ‘Black Money’ was unearthed by Congress-UPA in the last two years of the Congress Government. (As seen below)

As we witnessed hundreds of stories of distress and sufferings, the Government kept changing goalposts to project a positive narrative. Now the BJP spokespersons and propaganda machinery is now mounting new goalposts. 

Firstly it is claiming that ‘Formalization of the economy’ by increase in the tax payer’s base. This is factually wrong. According to the Finance Ministry's Annual Report, the year-to-year growth in the number of tax payers in 2016-17 was 26% (with demonetisation), which is less than 27.6% during 2015-16 (without demonetisation). The Modi Government changed the very definition of the ‘tax base’ and ‘new tax payers added’ through the CBDT, on the recommendation of the Avadhesh Kumar Mishra Committee. As per the new definition, ‘new tax payer added’ are all ‘persons from whom the TDS/TCS deductions are made’. Thus, BJP’s claim that more people are now under the tax net is as manufactured as its GDP numbers based on changing the criteria altogether.

Secondly, PM Modi recently claimed, in an election rally, that since India’s ‘Cash to GDP ratio’ has fallen substantially, we have less cash in the system and corruption has gone down. PM forgot to mention that 'currency in circulation' is back to pre-demonetization level. 15.45 lakh crore were demonetized but ' new currency in circulation' is back at 16 lakh crore. Some simple facts puncture the story further. As on March 31, 2017, the cash to GDP ratio had stood at 8.8 per cent, while in June 2017, it increased a shade higher to 9.9 percent as compared to pre-demonetisation cash to GDP ratio of 12.2 per cent. What the Government is not telling is the simple fact that if the economic activity slows down, the growth in currency in circulation is bound to plunge. For the period of three months ending March 2017 and June 2017, the non-government part of the GDP (which forms around 90 per cent of the GDP) has grown by a little over 4 per cent. Further, the Reserve Bank of India tells us that India's Cash to GDP ratio is now close to countries like Germany and France. But if we take the example of another developed country like Japan which has the highest cash to GDP ratio at 19.4 per cent, then will it mean that Japan has wide spread corruption? Answer is simply no. Even as per the Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index for 2016, Japan is the twentieth least corrupt country in the world. Unfortunately, India stands at the 79th position, despite having much lower cash to GDP ratio.

Third ‘Jumla’ which is being parroted by BJP leaders is that ‘interest rates for loans’ have seen a substantial decline. This is hogwash. BJP Government has actually targeted the country’s ‘Saving Rates’. Since 2014, BJP has made atleast 8 revisions in the interest rates for various saving schemes including Savings Bank Rate, Public Provident Fund, Kisan Vikas Patra and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana. When there are no savings, then reduction of ‘interest rates for loans’ will be meaningless.

For example, Government’s principal bank i.e. State Bank of India (SBI) slashed saving bank interest rates from 4% to 3.5%. Saving Accounts in SBI are currently estimated at 37 crore with a deposit of 9.4 lakh crores. If there is a reduction of 0.5% in interest rate, there is a direct loss of Rs.4,700 crore annually to the 37 crore account holders. Couple this with the multiple charges being levied on ATM, Bank and Digital transactions; this has burned deep holes in the pockets of ordinary citizens.

Fourthly, we are being lectured on ‘loot’. This is preposterous. In September, 2016; bank deposits in scheduled banks saw an additional increase of Rs. 5,88,600 lakh crore. Out of this, fixed deposits made between 1st September to 15th September, 2016 alone were over Rs.3 lakh crore. Does it not prove advance knowledge of the decision of demonetisation and conversion of money?

Lastly, The BJP Government is claiming that now it has now obtained the ‘addresses’ of those who deposited 99% of the demonetized currency in banks. This is the biggest lie. Had it been the case, BJP Government had complete 365 days and all means to trace these addresses. Not even a single FIR has been registered against such people. Merely floating mismatched figures in the media only reflects a ‘shoot & scoot’ strategy. There is not a single document in public domain which names these tax evaders. Why is PM Modi lying ? 

Demonetisation has turned out to be the biggest scam of independent India. Examples are many:-

(i) Kolkata Unit of BJP was caught depositing Rs.500/Rs.1000 notes running into Rs.3 crore on the day of demonetisation in A/c No. 554510034. Despite repeated demands, BJP and RSS have not made public details of money deposited between Ist March, 2016 and 8th November, 2016 in its bank accounts across the country.

(ii) In the run-up to decision of demonetisation, BJP and RSS purchased properties running into hundreds of crores across the country. Congress has released details of 8 properties valuing Rs.3.41 crore in Bihar and 18 properties in Odisha. Actual market value of these properties is much higher. Despite this, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have refused to make public the details of properties purchased by BJP/RSS in last one year. Does it not prove that BJP had advance knowledge of the decision of demonetisation and was converting its black money into assets immediately before demonetisation?

(iii) In September, 2016; bank deposits in scheduled banks saw an additional increase of Rs.5,88,600 lakh crore. Out of this, fixed deposits made between Ist September to 15th September, 2016 alone were over Rs.3 lakh crore. Does it not prove advance knowledge of the decision of demonetisation and conversion of money? Modi government has been unable to explain it nor has made public names of everyone, who had deposited Rs.25 lakh or more.

(iv) Shockingly and just before demonetization on 08-09-2016, cash of Rs.3 crore was seized from a Maruti Swift Car bearing Regn. No. HR-26AR-9662 at Indira Puram, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. The two occupants of the car, Sidharth Shukla and Anoop Aggarwal claimed that the money belonged to them and they were taking it to Lucknow. Ghaziabad City BJP President, Ashok Monga reached the Police Station and certified on a letter pad that the money was being ‘sent by BJP Central Office to BJP State Office in Lucknow’. Will Modiji and Amit Shah answer the source as also the reason for transferring the money in stashes of cash just before demonetisation instead of a digital transfer, which they are promoting? 

As ordinary people languish in bank lines for days together to withdraw their own money, a parallel ‘black market’ flourishes in converting black money into white by charging a commission upto 30% as also sale and trading of new currency notes with the tacit approval of Modi government. Important issue is that role of none of the BJP leaders involved has been investigated.

(a) BJP National President, Amit Shah is a Director of Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, Ahmedabad. As much as Rs.500 crore were deposited in this bank within 3 days of demonetisation. Why has Amit Shah not been investigated?

(b) BJP Maharashtra Minister, Pankaja Munde and her sister & BJP MP, Pritam Munde are owners of Vaidyanath Urban Cooperative Bank. In a raid, a sum of Rs.10 crore in old notes and Rs.10 lakh in the new currency of Rs.2000 were recovered. Why have they not been investigated?

(c) Mahesh Shah of Ahmedabad, Gujarat made a declaration of Rs.13,860 crore in the voluntary income disclosure scheme. He later resiles. As he was giving a TV interview disclosing names of politicians and bureaucrats, he was taken away by Income Tax authorities. Former Gujarat CM, Sureshbhai Mehta has openly spoken about links of Mahesh Shah with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Why have they not been investigated?

(d) Ramesh Gowda, an associate of Karnataka BJP leader & former Minister, G. Janardan Reddy, committed suicide and left behind a suicide note stating conversion of Rs.100 crore of black money by the BJP leader.

(e) Cash worth Rs.91.50 lakh was recovered from the car of BJP Minister for Cooperation, Subhash Desmukh in Maharashtra.

(f) A number of BJP leaders were caught with stashes of cash. Sanjiv Kamboj, co-Convener of Legal Cell of BJP in Punjab put up photographs on social media with wads of new Rs.2000 currency notes. Manish Sharma, a BJP leader from West Bengal, close to a Union Minister, was caught with Rs.33 lakh of new currency notes. In Salem, Tamilnadu; Arun, a BJP Youth Wing leader, was caught with new currency notes worth Rs.20.55 lakh. BJP leader, Sushil Vaswani was raided in Madhya Pradesh and a lot of ill-gotten money was recovered.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

व्यक्तिगत वाहवाही लूटना ही था नोटबंदी का असली उद्देश्य : मोदी

लगा के आग शहर को, ये बादशाह ने कहा
उठा है दिल में तमाशे का आज शौक़ बहुत
झुका के सर को सभी शाह-परस्त बोल उठे
हुज़ूर शौक़ सलामत रहे, शहर और बहुत !

इस लेख के उपलिखित शीर्षक को पढ़ कर घबराइए नहीं, क्योंकि यह एक व्यंग्य है, पर यही नोटबंदी की सच्चाई भी है। प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी ने ऐसी सत्यपूर्ण ज़िम्मेदारी कभी नहीं ली, पर "दिल को बहलाने को ' ग़ालिब ' ये ख्याल अच्छा है.... !" नोटबंदी द्वारा मोदी जी ने जनता को जिस तरह से सताया है, उस महा-धोखे की भरपाई, इतिहास में शायद ही कोई कर सके। जिस तरह से मोहम्मद बिन तुग़लक़ अपनी सनक भरी योजनाओं के लिए जनता के हितों से खिलवाड़ करता था , उसी तरह प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी ने भारत की 125 करोड़ जनता को नोटबंदी के आनन - फ़ानन भरे फैसले से सस्ती राजनैतिक वाहवाही बटोरने के लिए ठग लिया है। नोटबंदी के बाद तो अब सनकी मोहम्मद बिन तुग़लक़ भी सोच रहा होगा कि उससे बड़ा सनकी अब भारत की धरती पर अवतरित हो गया है !

रिज़र्व बैंक ऑफ इंडिया की वार्षिक रिपोर्ट ने अब बिलकुल साफ़ कर दिया है कि नोटबंदी के पश्चात भारतवासियों ने अपना सारा पैसा (99%) नगदी व्यवस्था में वापस कर दिया है।  नोटबंदी के कारण ₹15.45 लाख करोड़ का नगद अमान्य घोषित हुआ था, पर भारत के नागरिकों ने उसमे से ₹15.28 लाख करोड़ की राशि लौटा दी।  यानी मात्र ₹16000 करोड़ ही आर्थिकतंत्र में वापस ना आ सके। समझने वाली बात यह है कि इन ₹16000 करोड़ को खोजने के लिए भाजपा सरकार ने अपना पूरा सरकारी तंत्र झोक दिया। कुल ₹25391 करोड़ तो सिर्फ संचालन और नए नोट छापने में ही लग गए। किसी भी पाँचवी कक्षा के बच्चे से भी अगर हम इस साधारण गणित का उत्तर पूछेंगे तो वह इसको नुक्सान ही बताएगा। 8 नवंबर , 2016 की रात जब महान शक्तिशाली, राजनैतिक सूझ-बूझ से ओत-प्रोत, प्रशासकीय अनुभव से लैस मोदी जी ने यह सपने में भी नहीं सोचा होगा, कि जब वह नोटबंदी का यह ‘विशालकाय हवन’ संपन्न करेंगे तो इसका परिणाम इतना उल्टा निकलेगा

नोटबंदी का सबसे बड़ा झूठ तो प्रधानमंत्री जी ने लाल क़िले की प्राचीर से इस साल बोल दिया था। उन्होंने ना पचने वाला एक ऐसा सफ़ेद झूठ इतनी बेबाक़ तरीके से बोला की 'झूठ' पर अध्ययन करने वाले बड़े-बड़े मनोवैज्ञानिक और पेशेवर चिकित्सक भी शरमा जाए। उन्होंने यह दावा किया कि नोटबंदी के बाद, ₹3 लाख करोड़ अर्थव्यवस्था में लौट आये है ! अब ₹16000 करोड़ के आधिकारिक खुलासे के बाद, मोदी जी अभी तक मौन हैं । और उनके वित्तमंत्री जेटली जी फिर एक अच्छे विधिशास्त्र के विद्यार्थी की तरह कानूनी तर्क -वितर्क दिए जा रहें हैं ।

नोटबंदी को लेकर सरकार के प्रवक्ता समय-समय पर, वस्तुस्थिति के मुताबिक़ अपने लक्ष्य और उद्देश्य एक लटकन (पेंडुलम) के मुताबिक झुलाते रहे, और देश की 125 करोड़ जनता इस तमाशे को झेलती रही।  8 नवंबर , 2016 को रात्रि के 8 बजकर 20 मिनट पर जब नोटबंदी का भूचाल हमारे ऊपर गिरा, तब इसका उद्देश्य - काले धन को ख़त्म करना व नकली नोटों से चल रहे आतंकवाद और नक्सलवाद के विनाशकारी धंधे की कब्र खोदना था।  नोटबंदी से ना काला धन ख़त्म हुआ और न ही नकली नोट, ना आतंकवाद का घिनौना चेहरा और न ही नक्सलवाद की साजिशें ! गौर फरमाने वाली बात है की नोटबंदी के बात यह है कि नवम्बर 2016 के बाद हुई 36 बड़े आतंकवाद हमलों में, जम्मू-कश्मीर में अकेले, 46 लोगों की जान चली गयी और 58 जवानों ने अपने प्राणों की आहुति दी । इस फ़ैसले के बाद हुए 13 घातक नक्सली हमलों में 81 लोगो की जाने गयी व 69 जवान शहीद हो गए। 

नोटबंदी की कथा का एक और अध्याय यह है कि ,उसके लागू होने के कुछ ही हफ़्तों बाद, भाजपा की गिरगिट-रूपी सरकार ने यह कहा कि यह 'महान कार्य ' उसने  देश "कैश लेस" बनाने के लिए किया, जिससे की ज़्यादा से ज़्यादा लोग अपने डेबिट-क्रेडिट कार्ड और टेक्नोलॉजी के अन्य माध्यमों से भुक्तान कर सके।  'डिजिटल इंडिया' को प्रोत्साहन देना तो सिर्फ एक बहाना साबित हुआ है, असल में नोटबंदी की भीषण विफलता को जो बचाना था।  रिज़र्व बैंक की वार्षिक रिपोर्ट ने इस दावे का भी पर्दाफ़ाश कर दिया।  रिपोर्ट के मुताबिक 'डिजिटल ट्रांज़ैक्शन्स ' दिसंबर 2016 के महीने पर तो बढ़ें पर मार्च 2017 के आते आते वही पुराने स्तर पर आ गिरे। ज़ाहिर है की नोटबंदी के दौरान तो लोगो ने अपने कार्ड और मोबाइल भुगतान के माध्यमों का इस्तेमाल किया, क्योंकि नगद कम था, पर इतने प्रचार भरे 'डीजी धन मेलों ' और 'भीम ऐप ' होने के बावजूद - खरे नगद पर से अपना नाता नहीं तोड़ा !

मोदी जी की महान सरकार ने फिर भी हार नहीं मानी। उन्होंने कहा की नोटबंदी का एक और लक्ष्य है- ज़्यादा से ज़्यादा लोगो को  संगठित क्षेत्र की मुख्यधारा में लाकर टैक्स का फैलाव बढ़वाना।  यह भी अच्छा मज़ाक है , सी ऐ जी की रिपोर्ट ही इस दावे का भंडाफोड़ करती है।  सरकार कह रही है की इस साल अगस्त तक 2.82 करोड़ लोगो ने आयकर विभाग को अपना कर दाखिल किया, पर  हाल ही की सी ऐ जी की रिपोर्ट  में कहा गया है की पिछले साल (2015-16) इससे अधिक- 3.98 करोड़ लोगो ने आयकर विभाग को अपना कर दाखिल किया था। 

नोटबंदी सिर्फ एक आर्थिक त्रासदी है अपितु एक सामाजिक त्रासदी भी है। देश की अर्थव्यवस्था में 90 % योगदान देने वाला अनौपचारिक-असंगठित क्षेत्र नोटबंदी से सबसे ज़्यादा प्रभावित हुआ था।  किसानों के पास नयी फसल बोने के पैसे नहीं थे, ग्रामीण भारत में हाहाकार मचा हुआ था।  गलियों  में  सामान बेचने वाले, फेरीवाले, रेहड़ी पटरी वाले, खाने-पीने  के  खोमचे , बढ़ई, नाई, धोबी , कारीगर, बिजली कारीगर, रिपेयरमैन, प्लंबर, पोर्टर एवं अन्य कारीगर, कपड़े के व्यापारी, किराना दुकान मालिक, बेकरी, सब्जीवाले और  सब्जी के व्यापारी, अनाज के व्यापारी और विक्रेता, छोटे  व्यापारी एवं दुकानदार आदि सभी इस फैसले से प्रभावित हुए थे।  100 से अधिक लोगों की लाइनों में लगकर जान चली गयी थी- वह चाहे  तनावग्रस्त अवस्था में दिल का दौरा पड़ने से हुई हो या अस्पतालों में भर्ती रोगियों को समय पर उपचार मिलने की वजह से हुई हो ! इन सब परिवारों को भाजपा सरकार ने मुआवज़ा देना तो दूर संसद में शोक संवेदनाये भी नहीं प्रदान की। 

पूर्व प्रधानमंत्री डॉ मनमोहन सिंह  ने संसद में कहा था की नोटबंदी "संगठित लूट" और "कानूनी डाका" है , जिससे की हमारी आर्थिक व्यवस्था को बड़ा धक्का लगेगा।  आज डॉ मनमोहन सिंह की वह बात सच हो गयी क्योंकि भारत की आर्थिक गति अब मंद पड़ गयी है।  इसका ज़िम्मेदार केवल एक व्यक्ति ही है क्योंकि उसने अपने व्यक्तिगत विकास के लिए देश को आर्थिक बर्बादी की राह पर छोड़ दिया है।  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A New Narrative set by the Congress can still save India

निंदक नियरे राखिए, ऑंगन कुटी छवाय।

बिन पानी, साबुन बिना, निर्मल करे सुभाय।।

- कबीरदास

The commentators and influencers in this country have started writing the epitaph of the Congress party. They have all the right to believe so because since past three years or so, the electoral fortunes of the party have seriously dithered, after the miserable defeat of 2014. Their intense speculation about the future of the Grand Old Party is something which passionate flag bearers like me cannot discount, but are profoundly anguished with. The Liberals are angry at us. But we need to convert that anger into love. I am a Congressman and will remain a Congress party admirer even if I am the last man standing, although I shall do everything within my means to prevent that ‘last man’ scenario.

I know I may be painting a negative picture and some of you who will read you will definitely mock my assessment. Some of you will also question my locus-standi for writing this- since I am also part of that very system, albeit a very small part in which the Congress system works, I am responsible too. And Yes I am.  But, considering that I am an eternal optimist, I shall always say, that even though the initial comment of this writing will force you to doubt my assessment, I shall always yearn that such an eventuality shall never come.

Congress will remain strong and Congress will overcome its present problems. We shall again redeem India and will not let it slip to the darkness. Our ideals and ideology is rock solid and our commitment for Secularism is unflinching. Compassion, brotherhood, love and respect are the pillars which install the foundation of our basis.

A lot is being written and a lot is being said. Yes, there are a lot of inherent flaws with which our inner party system works, but there are innumerable positives also.

The honeymoon period of the Modi Government saw the Congress party believing that since it is the largest and natural political force of governance and the BJP lacks the ability to solidly govern and administer, it will never be able to live up to the expectations of people. This has actually led to its complacency and turning it into a reactive force. “Jab yeh galitiya karenge, abhi nahi toh 5-10 saal baad humara waqt aayega” (When they will make mistakes, not today, but eventually after 5-10 years we will be back in power) was the drawing room chatter of every Congressmen.

Then came a period, where the superficial layers which gloss the BJP’s incompetence began to peel off.  Failures, after failures with time- But at the most the Congress acted as a reactionary force, failing to capitalize the blunders of the ruling dispensation. The single biggest mistake which critics and admirers alike will admit that the Congress party in the UPA era failed to build its cadre, especially in states, where it was weak. An opposition needs a robust and a committed worker. The Congress is a mass based party and not a cadre based one, yet it has certain unique organizational strengths, which it could have tapped into. Its frontals are more or less defunct and at the most have become extremely sycophantic in nature- with almost no vision or plan of action.

Three years now into the dark ages of the Modi Government, where the BJP is using every trick in the political book to expand its hungry fangs to annihilate India, the Congress is making last ditch attempts to somehow foster an opposition unity, without much success. The Nitish Kumar fiasco may have its opportunistic and political strokes, and broad ones indeed, yet the Congress has to somehow take its share of blame too. I know, I will again be accused of crossing the Lakshman Rekha (Red Line) while I try to objectively put forth this assessment, but acceptance of failures, is the first stepping stone to success.

I have been hinting and posting on Social Media, since long, that the Congress needs a positive agenda. A solid, implementable narrative and a new vision to take along those committed liberal voters who still believe in those ideals on which the edifice our Constitution was laid. Time and again, I have come to this conclusion that only a positive narrative can resurrect the Congress.

For starters, we should look at our own 2014 Manifesto. This 45 page document should be our Magna Carta to attack and question the BJP. It will give us more credibility because we shall not be merely criticizing the policies, but also put forth a positive policy solution. “Had the Congress been in power, there were the 5 steps it would have taken to solve agrarian distress”. “These are the steps that the Congress party would have taken to create more jobs”.

It is not that the Congress party is not taking steps to revamp its organizational structure. Election process will complete this year and a new team is slowly and steadily been set up. New General Secretary in-charges for states are being appointed. The Communications department of the party is seeing new faces and a newer strategy for the same is in place now. Research and Social Media wings have also been refurbished and are working with new vigour. Yes, we lack in Media Management, and that needs to be proactively dealt with.  A large section of media has become the mouthpiece for the BJP, and the Congress needs to find an alternate for the same. There are several deficiencies too, which are well known. These need to be resolved.

The voter connect is only possible when you gather small constituencies of groups together and target your liberal supporters. Laziness, complacency and arrogance should be done away with. A strong ideological resolve is needed so as solidify your support base. We all know what ails the Congress party, we also have some solutions.

No political party that has a closed system and secretive in nature can function in a vibrant democracy. We have to open the doors for the converted and to the swing ones.

The Congress should aim for opposition unity, but that does not mean that it can tie up with any political party which is ideologically not at the same page as the Congress. We have seen that in West Bengal and in Uttar Pradesh. Let us not repeat that. The Congress should try and build consensus, but if that is not possible, just leave these regional parties to fend for themselves. We should stop pandering to them. Let us built our own identity, we were successful because we had one. We should not leave it. Opposition unity is good for short term goals, but in the long term, we should strive for our own National space. In states, where we are dependent on regional satraps, we have only declined. Even if we win one seat, it should be on our own.

If we do not implement a positive agenda and restructure ourselves, then even our forefathers, who so painstakingly built this country, will not forgive us for sending India to the dark ages.

All the views expressed in the article by the author are strictly personal.

Monday, July 3, 2017

How the BJP is blundering on India’s 'China Policy'

Five decades ago, on October 7, 1966, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had openly asserted at the press conference on October 7, 1966 that India was committed to protect Bhutan from China. Today, a serious situation is developing at Doklam (also called Donglang), which is part of Bhutan, but is also claimed by China. It is located at a tri-junction of India, Tibet and Bhutan and is close to the 14000 feet high Nathu La pass, through which China has blocked this year's Kailash Mansoravar Yatra, which was much hyped by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi as ‘his government’s gift of a second route for millions of Shiva Bhakts.

A very delicate and extremely serious situation is developing at the Chinese boundary adjoining Sikkim. A month long standoff between the Indian Army and the Chinese Army has taken place- this is the longest standoff between India and China in last 55 years (since 1962) According to media reports, China has destroyed 2 bunkers of the Indian Army at Doklam plateau. There are two key Chinese objectives in initiating the Doklam standoff. First, it seems to be testing India’s resolve to stand by its long cherished friend Bhutan and secondly, China is fostering an aggressive attitude towards the delicate and strategic ‘Chicken Neck’ which connects the rest of India to the northeast.

Since the day, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi swung in a “Jhoola” and relished “Dhokla” in Ahmadabad, Gujarat with his Chinese counterpart, China has time and again proceeded to break the land boundary agreement which the then Congress-UPA Government had entered into in 2005 and later signed by both the heads of the state in 2013.

1)    Line of Actual Control in the India-China border areas, signed in April 2005 and
2)    Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, signed in October 2013,

Also, India has underlined that the two Governments had in 2012 reached agreement that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalized in consultation with the concerned countries. Any attempt, therefore, to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of this understanding.
We must not forget the fact that Chinese incursions have continuously increased under the BJP Government.

1.    In the past 45 days, 120 Chinese Incursions have taken place, while 240 such incursions have taken place till this month in 2017.

2.    The much hyped second route of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Nathu La stopped suddenly by China has dealt a severe blow to India’s diplomatic image. Despite the Chinese Army destroying the facilities built for the Indian pilgrims, the BJP Government did not pay any heed to the miseries of the pilgrims, till they started posting videos and pictures of the Chinese Army’s destroying them. The stoic silence and inaction by the BJP Government is for all of us to see.

3.    On June 4, 2017: Two Chinese Army choppers violated the Indian airspace, by hovering over Chamoli district. On previous occasions, Chinese helicopters had entered 4.5 kilometres into Indian territory, an area that China claims as its own in Barahoti ,Uttarakhand

4.    Border disputes with China have again reached center stage with repeated breaches and incursions by the Chinese forces along the international border; However, in March , this year - the MoS  Defence in a written reply to the Parliament says that there were “No Chinese Incursions, Only Transgressions

5.    Earlier Home Minister, Rajnath Singh has said, that “Chinese Intrusion are only Perception”

There have been multiple occasions where this BJP Government has failed to secure India’s National Interests, viz-a-viz China:

1.    China vetoes declaration of Masood Azhar as an ‘international terrorist’ under Pakistan’s pressure

2.    China blocks India’s membership of ‘Nuclear Suppliers Group’ asking for parity with rogue Pakistan.

3.    China opposes India’s membership of UN Security Council.

4.    On Dec 19, 2016; Russia extended support to China-Pak Economic Corridor & expressed intent to connect it with Eurasian Economic Union.

5.   China – Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) worth $54 billion built through PoK/Balochistan connecting Gwadar Port in Arabian Sea to China with base for Chinese submarines- Does it not compromise India’s Sovereign right over POK & affect our strategic interests?

6.    China renames six places in Arunachal Pradesh on its official map.

7.    Nepal accusing the Government of India of interference in its domestic matters.

8.    Sri Lankan Government refusing to sign the comprehensive Economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with India. China-sponsored infrastructure developments in neighboring Sri Lanka offer an instructive lesson. Numerous infrastructure projects, negotiated in secret by the former Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapaksa, saddled the Sri Lankan treasury with debts to China estimated at some $8 billion. Sri Lanka cannot repay what it owes, so it has negotiated a debt-for-equity swap of the Hambantota Port project.

9.    India is feeling increasingly isolated on its stand with respect to the grandiose One Belt, One Road (OBOR) imitative by China, which hosted Russian President, Vladimir Putin as its chief guest. The general perception amongst experts is that India could have been a part of the initial meetings and then shown its strident opposition to China and Pakistan constructing road through Gilgit-Baltistan- an integral part of India.

China has exponentially expanded strategic, economic & defense partnerships with Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This maximalist position of China to encircle India and cramp its strategic space has been highlighted time and again by strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney.

It is pertinent to note that, during PM Modi’s recent visit to the United States, he did not raise any issue which affected India-China relations. Be it China stalling India’s entry into the NSG or China blocking Masood Azhar’s name to be declared as a ‘global terrorist. 

The UPA- Congress Govt approved the raising of ‘Mountain Strike Corps’ along the China border with 90,274 additional soldiers at a cost of Rs 64,678 Crore . After the  BJP came to power, it has put this project into deep freezer. This Mountain Strike Corps could have been useful in today's standoff, but the BJP has lost this opportunity.

This is what happens when you appoint either a ‘Reluctant’ Defence Minister or a ‘Part Time’ Defence Minister