IAMC Weekly News Digest – January 21st, 2019

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Maharashtra: Thane BJP leader arrested with 170 weapons (Jan 17, 2019, Indian Express)

A local BJP leader attached to the party’s Dombivli city unit in Thane has been arrested for allegedly possessing and selling weapons illegally out of his clothing shop.

Dhananjay Kulkarni (49), vice-president of the Dombivli unit of the BJP, was arrested on Tuesday and 170 weapons seized from his shop, including 10 choppers, an airgun, 62 pistols, 38 button knives, an axe and other sharp weapons worth Rs 2 lakh, said the Thane crime branch. State BJP leaders, however, said he no longer holds any post in the party.

“Kulkarni owned a ground floor store at Arihant buildings in Tilak Nagar, Dombivali. The shop, Tapasya House of Fashion, was also a shop for illegal weapons, we had received information,” said a senior officer.…



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After BSY Denies Poaching Charges, BJP MLA Says Adding ‘Fuel to Fire’ is Party’s Way of Doing Politics (Jan 18, 2019, News18.com)

BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa has denied all allegations against his party of attempting to topple the Congress-JDS government in Karnataka, but all his party MLAs may not want to believe so. CT Ravi, BJP MLA from Chikkamagaluru, on Thursday said that his party will add fuel to speculations that there is dissidence within the Congress-JDS coalition.

“Of course we will add fuel to the fire within the Congress and JDS because we should have had the opportunity to form the government. This is politics. We are not here to do charity,” said Ravi, general secretary of Karnataka BJP.

“We won 104 seats. You may have formed the government due to simple mathematics. But dissidence is in your party. Adding fuel to that fire is our politics. If your MLAs don’t stay with you, do not blame us,” the former minister added.…



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JNU sedition case: Ex-ABVP members claim outfit planned row (Jan 17, 2019, Indian Express)

Two former JNU students, who were ABVP office-bearers at the time of the February 9, 2016 event on campus, Wednesday claimed the student outfit had “planned” the controversy to take attention away from Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide.

At a press conference, former JNU ABVP unit vice-president Jatin Goraiya and former joint-secretary Pradeep Narwal also claimed students present in a video shown by a news channel allegedly raising the slogan of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ were actually ABVP members or sympathisers.

The duo had resigned from ABVP in February 2016. “At the time, I remember Jatin and I, since we were Dalits, were told repeatedly to appear for TV interviews and defend ABVP after Vemula’s suicide, which we refused to do since they kept referring to him as a terrorist. With the February 9 event, they saw an opportunity to divert attention,” claimed Narwal. Goraiya claimed that before the February 9 event, the discussion on the JNU ABVP WhatsApp group focused on how to blow up the incident.…



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2002 Gujarat riots: SC lists hearing of plea against acquittal given to PM Modi for February (Jan 15, 2019, Scroll.in)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will hear a petition challenging the acquittal given by a Special Investigation Team to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the 2002 Godhra riots in February, PTI reported. Modi was then the chief minister of Gujarat.

The petition was filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who died in the riots along with 68 other people, alleging a “larger conspiracy” between February 27, 2002 and May 2002. She had challenged an order passed by the Gujarat High Court rejecting her plea against the Special Investigation Team’s decision.…

In October 2017, the Gujarat High Court upheld a 2012 judgement by a magistrate’s court in the state that accepted the Special Investigation Team’s closure report that acquitted Modi and 58 others in connection with the 2002 riots, saying there was “no prosecutable evidence” against them.…



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Sanatan Sanstha Lawyer Encouraged Destruction of Evidence, Says SIT Chargesheet (Jan 14, 2019, News Click)

An accused in the Narendra Dabholkar assassination case, Sharad Kalaskar, has confided in the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) that Sanjeev Punalekar – the lawyer of Sanatan Sanstha (SS) – had called him to his office in June-July 2018, according to a report in the Bangalore Mirror. The lawyer is said to have asked Kalaskar to destroy the gun he used to allegedly murder Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh.

Kalaskar, who was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) over the Nallasopara arms and explosives haul case, was named by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as the shooter, along with Sachin Andure, in the Dabholkar case.

The SIT, CBI, and Maharashtra and Karnataka Criminal Investigation Departments (CID) have been investigating the murder cases of Lankesh, Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi, respectively. With the arrests made by the SIT and the affiliation of the arrested to the Goa-based Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), the speculation – that these murders have been ideologically motivated – has almost been turned out to be true.…



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Bulandshahr violence: Main accused Yogesh Raj sends wishes in Bajrang Dal’s Sankranti and R-Day posters (Jan 15, 2019, Sabrang India)

Yogesh Raj, the main accused in the December mob violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr in which a police officer was killed, was featured in Bajrang Dal posters across the region.

On these posters by Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Yogesh Raj “wishes” people on behalf of the two organisations on the occasion of Makar Sankranti and the upcoming Republic Day celebrations.

The wishes came on the behalf of Praveen Bhati and Yogesh Raj whose title is mentioned as District coordinator. Defending the move, Bajrang Dal’s Assistant Regional Convenor Praveen Bhati told News18.com, “There is nothing wrong in putting up such posters as Yogesh Raj is the local convenor, and just an accused. He is yet not guilty.” Bhati also features in the poster.…



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PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are the biggest threat to country: Arvind Kejriwal (Jan 14, 2019, Free Press Journal)

Calling Narendra Modi and Amit Shah the “biggest threat to the country”, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said if the BJP came to power again in 2019, it will change the Constitution to do away with elections. Addressing party volunteers over the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the Delhi Chief Minister also said that the need of the hour was to come together and save the nation, adding that the party members must go door to door and expose the BJP’s gameplan.

Speaking on the occasion, AAP leader Gopal Rai said: “The Congress has no presence in Delhi. Only AAP is capable of defeating the BJP in the upcoming elections.” Kejriwal, in his speech, compared the BJP’s rule to that of Hitler. “The Modi-Shah pair is the biggest threat to the country. Shah recently declared in a rally that if the BJP wins in 2019, they’ll stay in power for another 50 years. This is part of the BJP’s scheme.

“Just like Hitler did in Germany, the BJP is also planning to amend the Constitution and eventually abolish the practice of elections altogether. If Modi comes to power again, the BJP will change the Constitution and end democracy and elections altogether,” he said. The AAP Lok Sabha in-charge of North-East Delhi, Dilip Pandey, said that the atmosphere in Delhi clearly indicated that the Aam Aadmi Party was set to win all the seven Lok Sabha seats.…



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Full Of Lies, Written To Make Money: Former NSA On “The Accidental PM” (Jan 15, 2019, NDTV)

Former NSA MK Narayanan on Tuesday asserted that “80 per cent of the claims” made in the book, “The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh”, were “false”.

Slamming the author of the controversial book, Sanjay Baru, Mr Narayanan said the journalist and former media adviser to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was “not a big player”.

Mr Baru had written the book during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to make money, alleged the the National Security Adviser (NSA), believed to be close to the former PM. “It’s a book full of lies. Eighty per cent of his claims are false. He was not a big player of the game (in the government). He was nobody,” Mr Narayanan said in a session with the Bharat Chamber of Commerce.…



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Citing The Hindu report, Chidambaram, Yechury slam govt on Rafale deal (Jan 18, 2019, The Hindu)

Opposition parties on Friday reiterated their demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the Rafale deal and accused the Narendra Modi-led government of ‘compromising on national security’ by reducing the number of Rafale fighter planes ordered, from 126 to 36.

Addressing a press conference on The Hindu investigation, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the Modi government had ‘wronged’ the country and ensured a windfall for Dassault Aviation, manufacturers of the Rafale fighters.

Mr. Chidambaram said ever since the renegotiated deal was signed by the Modi government on April 10, 2015, none from the government could explain why it scaled down the order.…



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Sabarimala: CPI(M) hits back at Modi’s comments, says PM speaking like RSS ‘pracharak’ (Jan 16, 2019, The Tribune)

Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his comments on the Kerala government over the Sabarimala issue, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Wednesday said though he took an oath on the Constitution, but he was speaking like a ‘pracharak’ of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The party said the Modi’s comments on the issue were “atrocious and condemnable”.

“Mr Modi forgot that he had taken oath on the Constitution of India and he spoke as an RSS pracharak not as the Prime Minster. His statement constitutes a direct assault on the Indian Constitution and the Supreme Court,” the party said in a statement.

It said the state government was implementing the judgement of the Supreme Court, and the prime minister’s statement has “dangerous implications for the future”.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Citizenship bill backlash puts Assam BJP in a spot – By Zia Haq (Jan 17, 2019, Hindustan Times)

The Narendra Modi government’s Citizenship Amendment Bill has caused confusion within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam, leaving the party’s rank and file wondering what lies ahead and how they can defuse a potentially damaging backlash against the bill.…

The bill, which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim settlers from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, has set off an upheaval among native Assamese, who have long resented waves of migrations from Bangladesh.

Asked how the BJP will handle the conundrum, Tafiqure Rahman, one of the BJP’s eight vice-presidents in the state, said: “Everybody is confused here. I am telling you the truth.” “Of course, it (the bill) is a challenge. It will harm the culture of Assam; it will harm the language of Assam,” he added.…



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Modi Government’s Paranoia Laid Bare Before Parliamentary Polls – By Anand K. Sahay (Jan 17, 2019, The Wire)

When Narendra Modi, the challenger, campaigned with sensational vigour in 2013 and the early part of 2014 for the Lok Sabha election in May that year, he said he had a dream of a New India – where farmers’ incomes would double and employment for the youth will be aplenty – to beckon.

Five years on, that spirit is pre-history. There is disenchantment and despair among the owning classes; the toilers have a sense of being sold short. Those in between – the middle classes, who were praised sky high by the prime minister in his New Year’s day interview to a news agency – have been squeezed by joblessness, no tax relief, and petrol rates crashing every price barrier much of the time.

Faith in the regime’s promises has grown scarce. This is the real change from 2014. In order to remain in the hunt, Mr. Modi seeks to use an imagined past – his five years in office – as a crutch to traverse the treacherous terrain of the present since there is no brave new world to credibly project as the country slips into election mode for the Lok Sabha polls in May.…



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Slogans, critical of govt, are not anti-national and do not amount to sedition – By Soli J. Sorabjee (Jan 17, 2019, Indian Express)

Sedition was aptly described by Gandhiji “as the prince of the Indian Penal Code” (IPC). Regrettably, it has become the king of the IPC as evidenced by the indiscriminate manner in which charges are filed against an ex-president of the JNU Student’s Union and former students for allegedly “raising and supporting anti-national slogans”.

What is sedition, which is enacted by Section 124-A of the IPC? According to the Privy Council, it meant any statement that caused “disaffection”, namely, exciting in others certain bad feelings towards the government, even though there was no element of incitement to violence or rebellion.

The Constituent Assembly debates shed useful light on the subject of sedition.… K M Munshi opposed the inclusion of “sedition” as a head of restriction and moved an amendment for its deletion. In the course of the debates, Munshi urged that “now that we have a democratic government, a line must be drawn between criticism of government which should be welcome and incitement to violence which would undermine security or order on which civilised life is based. As a matter of fact the essence of democracy is criticism of government.…



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Ahead of 2019 Elections, BJP Opens Floodgates of Fake News – By Prudhviraj Rupawat (Jan 14, 2019, Sabrang India)

On January 1, 2019, Jayarajan, a retired postmaster from Kerala’s Valanchery town allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself at his residence. On the following day, two women from the menstrual age entered the Sabarimala temple, becoming the first ones to do so since the Supreme Court in October last year ordered the end of a decades-old ban on women of menstrual age entering the shrine.

The Right-wing supporters from the state spared no time in linking the two separate, unrelated incidents, and have reportedly started circulating hate and fake news on internet, which was immediately shared across social media platforms by the BJP IT cell and its supporters.

“Another Ayyappa devotee commits suicide. Jayarajan of Valancheri committed suicide after the desecration of the #Sabarimala temple by Maoist women activists. He is the fourth devotee to die brokenhearted in 2 months. #SabarimalaTemple is such an emotive issue here”, reads a tweet from the handle @PartyVillage017. Within hours, this tweet was widely circulated, and some Right-wing websites even carried news articles around this narrative.…



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Zero-sum game – By Venkitesh Ramakrishnan (Feb 1, 2019, Frontline)

The Union government’s move to provide 10 per cent reservation for the “economically weaker sections” not only evoked widespread support across party lines but also gave rise to a similar strain of interpretation. The sudden move by the Narendra Modi-led government was likened to the demonetisation announcement of November 8, 2016.

Of course, the interpretation by parties in the ruling dispensation hinged on the “surprise element” of the move, credited primarily to Modi, and its phenomenal success in bamboozling the opposition parties and putting them in disarray. The opposition was of the view that the Prime Minister and his associates in the National Democratic Alliance had embarked on an ill-thought-out, ad hoc operation just like demonetisation, although the concept of reservation for the “economically weaker sections” was a welcome one.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Kanimozhi flagged this aspect forcefully. They pointed out that Modi and his associates had taken up the proposal as a short cut to manoeuvre around the electoral and political reverses the BJP suffered in the latest round of Assembly elections and the charges about governance misdemeanours against the government, including corruption charges in the Rafale defence deal.…



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APCO to Kotler – The Artificial Glossing of Modi’s Image – By Subhash Gatade (Jan 17, 2019, News Click)

Narendra Modi, the present incumbent to the Prime Minister’s chair, had a little break the other day for an award ceremony. Well, little different from the usual award ceremonies – where the Prime Minister presents awards and gives some pep talk, here Modi himself was presented with the ‘First-ever Philip Kotler Award’.

Perhaps looking at Modi’s much-publicised workaholic nature (if one is to believe what is written about him, he is reported to work 18 hours a day without any break) the organisers had seen to it that people who were to be presenting the award were flown in to save his time.

As expected, not only the bhakts but many of Modi’s cabinet colleagues could not hide their glee with this ‘first-ever’ award and went on overdrive to shower praise on him. Soon it dawned upon them that (thanks to The Wire report, which merely posed a few basic questions about this award) there was not much to be elated over this award, so they preferred to suddenly turn mute.…



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Book Review

Of Counsel: The Challenges of the Modi-Jaitley Economy

Author: Arvind Subramanian
Reviewed by: C.T. Kurien
Available at: Penguin Viking India; PRH_Business@penguinrandomhouse.in. https://www.amazon.in/
Adviser’s account (Feb 1, 2019, Frontline)

During the first four years of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (BJP-NDA) government (2014-18), Arvind Subramanian was its Chief Economic Adviser (CEA).… he frankly admits: “I often found myself a lone voice….” The present volume consists of selected writings of Arvind Subramanian and the speeches he delivered during his tenure as the CEA.… He teaches at Harvard Kennedy School. He has held positions in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and has been claimed by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the top 100 Global Thinkers. The assignment in New Delhi was his first experience of working with the government of a country.

Arvind Subramanian maintains that the kind of problems that India confronts arise from the fact that it made a major departure from the experience of the present-day developed countries: it took up democratisation before economic development. India, therefore, was caught between socialism with commitment to redistribution on the one hand and stigmatised capitalism with “half-hearted embrace of the private sector and private capital” on the other. He did try to persuade the government to give up some measures such as minimum support price for foodgrains, and admits: “My failure in nudging these policies in the right direction was one of the biggest disappointments of my tenure.”…

One of the biggest policy issues during the past four years was that of demonetisation announced by the Prime Minister in his famous television speech on November 8, 2016. Reading between the lines, it would appear that the CEA had no prior knowledge about it. In a short chapter dealing with it, he poses two puzzles. The first is why the ruling party received overwhelming support in the Uttar Pradesh elections held soon after demonetisation was imposed.… Is it possible that the continuing adverse effects of demonetisation on the poorer sections is part of the explanation for the defeat of the BJP in the 2018 Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh?…


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