IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 29th, 2018

In this issue of IAMC News Digest

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Amritsar Dussehra Tragedy: Madrasa Students Donate Blood for Injured, Mosque Holds Prayers (Oct 21, 2018, Caravan Daily)

In a commendable show of humanity, students from Madrasas here have been asked to donate blood for scores of Hindu brothers and sisters who were wounded in the Dussehra tragedy here on Friday when a train mowed down over 60 people. Meanwhile, the Shahi Jama Masjid in Ludhiana also held a prayer for the recovery of the injured.

“All Madrasas in Amritsar have asked their students to donate blood for the people injured in the Dussehra tragedy here and not to let blood supply shortage. This is the real India. They are not merchants of hate who are crying for two days that if there were namazis on the track the incident would not have happened,” tweeted journalist Samir Abbas, popular TV face of News18 Urdu channel.

Meanwhile, the Shahi Jama Masjid in Ludhiana held a mass prayer for the recovery of the injured persons. “All are sad at the train tragedy that occurred during Dussehra in Amritsar. At this time of sorrow, we are with the families of those killed or injured,” said Maulana Habibur Rahman Usmani, Shahi Imam of Punjab, in a media statement on Saturday. His mosque sent a copy of the statement and photos of the prayers to Caravan Daily. He also demanded action against the organizers of the event and administrative officers.…

http://caravandaily.com/portal/amritsar-dussehra-tragedy-madrasa-students-donate-blood-for-injured-mosque-holds-prayers/

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Korean Activists Hold Protest, Say Seoul Peace Prize for Modi is a ‘Disgrace’ (Oct 29, 2018, News Click)

Over 25 Korean civil society organisations protested the Seoul Peace Prize 2018 being conferred on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, citing the 2002 riots in Gujarat that led to the killing of thousands of Muslims. Modi was then the Gujarat Chief Minister.

Modi was selected as the “perfect candidate” for the award by the Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation, according to a statement by India’s Ministry of External Affairs. According to the Korea Herald newspaper, human rights organisations and several civil society organisations took to the streets protesting that Modi does not deserve the honour as “he has a history of being complicit in violence against Muslims in India.”

“We demand (the Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation) retract its decision to give the Seoul Peace Prize to Mr. Modi,” the 26 groups, including the Center for Refugee Rights in Korea and the Korean House of International Solidarity, said at a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday.Human rights groups in Korea say Modi deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in India that killed more than 1,000 people in 2002, the Korea Herald reported. The protesters also stated that Modi’s selection for the award was also a “disgrace to the past laureates of this prestigious award”.…

https://www.newsclick.in/korean-activists-hold-protest-say-seoul-peace-prize-modi-disgrace

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RSS Man Called PM Modi “Scorpion On Shivling”: Shashi Tharoor (Oct 29, 2018, NDTV)

Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor has stirred up a controversy with a new analogy on Prime Minister Narendra Modi – one that he attributed to an “RSS source” of a journalist. Speaking at an event in Bengaluru, Mr Tharoor, whose book on PM Modi was recently released, said the “personality cult” of the Prime Minister did not sit well with many in the RSS establishment. The ideological mentor of the BJP, he said, also found it “extremely difficult” to “curb” PM Modi.

There’s an “extraordinarily striking metaphor”, he said, in which the RSS expressed their “profound frustration with their inability to curb Mr Modi – and the man says ‘Mr Modi is a like a Scorpion sitting on a Shivling. You cannot move it with your hand and you cannot hit it with a chappal either’.”…

Last month, Mr Tharoor had triggered a political storm among the BJP ranks after he said if the BJP wins in 2019, they will “tear up the constitution of India and write a new one”. He said it would “enshrine the principle of Hindu Rashtra, will remove equality for minorities, that will create a Hindu Pakistan and that isn’t what Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad and great heroes of freedom struggle fought for”.…

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/shashi-tharoor-pm-modi-is-like-a-scorpion-on-shivaling-said-rss-source-1938855

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CBI Director Alok Verma’s Interest in Rafale May Have Tipped Scales Against Him (Oct 24, 2018, The Wire)

The government’s 2 am decision to oust director Alok Verma as the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation came hot on the heels of not just his request for sanction to arrest an official considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi but also his interest in the controversial Rafale deal. Last week, the CBI filed an FIR charging Rakesh Asthana – special director in the CBI and a Gujarat cadre police officer propelled to prominence in the agency by the PMO – with bribery and corruption. Since official sanction from the government is needed to arrest any officer above the rank of joint secretary, Verma had placed a request but permission was not granted.

The Wire has also learned that Verma – who was selected by a high-powered collegium including the Chief Justice of India for a protected tenure “not less than two years” that ends in January 2019 – had been readying himself to initiate a preliminary enquiry (PE) into the Modi government’s controversial decision to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation, with a major part of the offset contracts going to an Anil Ambani-led company.

The decision to purchase 36 aircraft in a flyaway condition – in lieu of the originally cleared proposal of buying 18 flyaway fighter jets and manufacturing 108 in India – was taken personally by Modi and announced by him in Paris on April 10, 2015 allegedly without any of the necessary statutory clearances and is now the subject of a criminal complaint to the CBI filed by former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, and also a PIL in the Supreme Court.…

https://thewire.in/government/cbi-director-alok-vermas-request-for-rafale-papers-tipped-the-scale-against-him

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Eight-Year-Old Madrasa Student Beaten to Death in South Delhi (Oct 27, 2018, The Wire)

An eight-year-old boy was killed on Thursday in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar during a fight between two groups of children. The boy, Mohammed Azeem, was a student of Jamia Faridia and Jama Masjid madrasa located in Begumpur area. According to the police, four boys all aged between 12 and 13, from nearby Valmiki colony, have been apprehended and a case registered against them under IPC Section 302.

DCP (south) Vijay Kumar said that the boys would be sent to a juvenile home. Kumar said it appears that the boy died of an “internal injury”. The DCP said that two groups of children from different communities, aged between eight and 11 years old, were playing on a plot of land near the madrasa when a scuffle broke out. The victim, Mohammad Azeem, was thrashed and his head hit a motorcycle, after which he lost consciousness. He was taken to a hospital by a local resident, where doctors declared him brought dead.

Azeem’s classmate, 12-year-old Mohammad Anas, said, “The junior students were playing on the madrasa plot when boys from the adjacent Valmiki colony came and started beating them up. During the fight, one of them pushed Azeem. His head hit a bike, after which Azeem fell unconscious. When he was taken to the hospital, doctors declared him brought dead.” Most of the senior madrasa students were studying the Quran while Azeem was being beaten up.…

https://thewire.in/communalism/madrasa-student-lynched-delhi

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Success of the Assam Bandh defeats Communal Agenda of the Sangh (Oct 24, 2018, Sabrang India)

It was an unprecedented occasion in Assam with the historic success of Assam Bandh called by more than 60 youth, students and civil society organizations on October 23, 2018 against the communal agenda of ruling BJP Government in Assam, as well as India. The State has never before received such an overwhelming support to any Bandh called by any party, organisation or a group of organisations.

It paralysed normal life all over the state: apart from Upper to Lower Assam, from the hills to the plains, from urban centres to the remotest areas of riverine shores to the inter-state or international boundaries in the Brahmaputra Valley; it also had a significant impact in certain parts of the Barak Valley.

Though the Bandh was called to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill-2016, which is presently under the consideration of Joint Parliamentary Committee of India, the protest manifest into a conflict between the ruling BJP Government of Assam and the people; scions of the ruling partly openly threatened the people of Assam with dire action if someone ‘dared support the Bandh called on Tuesday’.…

https://sabrangindia.in/article/historic-success-assam-bandh-defeats-communal-agenda-sangh

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Amnesty India latest target of government crackdown (Oct 26, 2018, Amnesty.org)

Amnesty India is the latest target of the Modi government’s assault on civil society. On Thursday, the Enforcement Directorate, an agency that looks into financial crimes, raided the organization’s office and froze its bank accounts, effectively stopping its vital human rights work.

Swift on the heels of its assault on Greenpeace India earlier this month, when the environmental group’s bank accounts were frozen, the Indian government is claiming violations of foreign funding regulations to shut down another prominent NGO.

“The Enforcement Directorate’s raid on our office today shows how the authorities are now treating human rights organizations like criminal enterprises, using heavy-handed methods that are commonly found in repressive states. Our staff have been harassed and intimidated,” said Aakar Patel, Amnesty International India’s Executive Director.…

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/10/amnesty-india-latest-target-of-government-crackdown/

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Kerala CM Vijayan Lashes Out at BJP, RSS for Violent Protests in Sabarimala (Oct 23, 2018, News18.com)

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday attacked the BJP and RSS for the violent agitation at the Lord Ayyappa temple complex in Sabarimala over the entry of women of all ages into the hill shrine. The agitation was a “planned and deliberate attempt” to create an atmosphere of tension in the state, Vijayan told reporters here.

The incidents of preventing women in the 10-50 age group from offering worship at the temple and attacking media personnel, who had come to cover the historic event, was part of a conspiracy led by the RSS, he alleged.

The government has the constitutional responsibility of implementing the Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all ages to offer prayers at the Sabarimala temple and no attempt to convert the complex into a “war zone” would be allowed, he said.…

https://www.news18.com/news/politics/kerala-cm-pinarayi-vijayan-lashes-out-at-bjp-rss-for-violent-protests-in-sabarimala-1917039.html

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Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute: ‘Leave case or get thrown out of India,’ litigant Iqbal Ansari threatened (Oct 25, 2018, Times Now)

A litigant in Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit pending before the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday received a letter, threatening him to withdraw the claim. The Uttar Pradesh Police have filed an FIR in the case and detained one person.

Ansari, the son of one of the first litigants in the title suit, received the letter through courier. In his complaint, Ansari told the police that the four-page letter threatened that he would be thrown out of India if he does not withdraw his claim in the case.

During the probe, the Amethi Police picked up the sender of the letter, who identified himself as Surya Prakash Singh, a resident of Dadra village in Musafirkhana tehsil of Amethi. Singh was then handed him over to Faizabad cops. A probe is on. The Faizabad Police have, meanwhile, provided the security to Iqbal Ansari.…

https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/ramjanmabhoomi-babri-masjid-ayodhya-dispute-litigant-iqbal-ansari-death-threat-uttar-pradesh-police-bjp-congress-hindus/304276

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Hadiya’s Husband Shafin Jahan Seeks Apology from Republic TV, Times Now (Oct 20, 2018, Caravan Daily)

As the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has found no evidence of coercion in the interfaith marriage of Kerala Muslim man Shafin Jahan with Hadiya (formerly Akhila Asokan), and 10 other interfaith marriages in the state, effectively deflating the propaganda of “Love Jihad”, Shafin has sought apology from some TV channels for running the false propaganda against him and wife Hadiya.

Shafin, whose marriage with Hadiya, was upheld by the Supreme Court in March this year by quashing the contrary verdict of the Kerala High Court, has asked Republic TV and Times Now and TV anchor Arnab Goswami to apologize “for running false propaganda against us.”

“Will @republic issue apology for running false propaganda against us…? #Hadiya #hadiyacase #HadiyaWins,” tweeted Shafin on Thursday.…

http://caravandaily.com/portal/hadiyas-husband-shafin-jahan-seeks-apology-from-republic-tv-times-now/

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Mumbai: Two right-wing activists held for killing Congress worker (Oct 24, 2018, Free Press Journal)

Saki Naka Police have arrested two workers of right-wing outfits Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) for allegedly killing Congress party worker Manoj Dubey (45) on Monday over a Facebook post.

According to police sources, the two accused, identified as Jitendra Mishra and Umesh Thakur, were arrested on Tuesday morning at 10.30 am from Igatpuri highway. Police said, the duo fled the crime scene on motorcycle and reached Vidyavihar railway station, where they abandon the vehicle. Afterwards, they went to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and took a train to Bhusaval.

On their way, they got down at Igatpuri station and tried to go on road. Police inspector Sunil Mane said, “We traced them through their IMEI numbers, after they put in new SIM cards in their old phones. Three eyewitnesses to the murder recorded their statements on Monday and placed the duo on the crime scene.” Police said Mishra and Umesh were seen attacking Dubey early on Monday at 1.30am near Asalpha metro station, when Dubey was on his way back home after a party.…

http://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/mumbai-two-right-wing-activists-held-for-killing-congress-worker/1381863

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Opinions and Editorials

Muslim boy’s death in scuffle reopens old communal fissures in South Delhi’s Begumpur – By Abhishek Dey (Oct 27, 2018, Scroll.in)

Friday prayers at Jamia Faridya Masjid in Delhi’s Begumpur area took slightly longer than usual this week. The imam followed up his customary sermon with a brief prayer for an eight-year-old boy who had died after a scuffle near the mosque the previous day. As the congregation of around a hundred Muslim men started to disperse, the imam said, “Let the law take its own course. I appeal everyone not to take the law into their hands for Allah will make sure the innocent child gets justice.”

Mohammad Azeem studied in the residential madrassa attached to the mosque, one of 70 Muslim male students aged seven to 14. Also studying at the madrassa were his two older brothers. Around 10 am on Thursday, five of the students got into an argument with four Dalit Hindu boys, aged between 10 and 13, over playing space. In the ensuing fight, Azeem received a blunt injury to his head. He died in hospital soon after.…

As to what transpired prior to the scenes captured on camera, the police said one of the Hindu boys threw a stone “over” the Muslim boys while they were playing in the empty lot. They asked the Hindu boys to refrain from doing so. But after some time, the Hindu boys threw firecrackers at the students and began abusing them, the police added. According to the first information report, one of the Muslim students told the police that one of the Hindu boys held Azeem by the throat and pushed him to the ground.…

https://scroll.in/article/899778/muslims-boys-death-in-scuffle-reopens-old-communal-fissures-in-south-delhis-begumpur

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The mosque in Islamic law and faith – By A. G. Noorani (Nov 9, 2018, Frontline)

No one who has followed Justice J.S. Verma’s pronouncement, on and off the bench, should be surprised at his sweeping and woefully ignorant remark in Ismail Faruqui’s case. “A mosque is not an essential part of the practice of religion in Islam and namaz (prayer) can be offered anywhere, even in [the] open” (1994) 6 SCC at page 418, paragraph 82).

Do you expect any better from one who discusses what Hindutva is without the slightest note of its Bible, V.D. Savarkar’s essay Hindutva? It is like discussing Christianity without reference to the Bible, Judaism without reference to the Tora, Hinduism without reference to the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads and Islam without reference to the Quran.…

The Royal Netherlands Academy produced the Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam by H.A.R. Gibb and J.H. Kramers, scholars of high distinction (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1994). It is regarded as a work of high authority. Each entry has been contributed by a scholar of eminence. The one on “Masdjid” (Masjid in simple language) is spread from page 330 to page 353 in double columns. It exposes Justice J.S. Verma’s colossal ignorance.…

https://www.frontline.in/the-nation/communalism/article25296456.ece

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What Lies Behind Narendra Modi’s Silence? – By Ajay Gudavarthy (Oct 25, 2018, The Wire)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained stoic silence over the most pressing issues that have been debated in the last few weeks and this has remained his style for most part of his tenure. Most political analysts and media discussions have repeatedly made appeals and read this as Modi losing control of his government and things getting out of control.

Yet, Modi continues to be silent, from Rafale deal, to #MeToo to the recent crisis in the CBI. We are inching closer to the election season but Narendra Modi is in no hurry to change his style of working. Why is it so? Is there any possibility whereby he seems to make a reading of how his silence will work not against him but in his favour?

A possible contrarian explanation of this silence could be found in somewhat a new kind of corporatisation of governance under Modi. Presenting (read elevating) himself as an elite brand that is not easily accessible. Further, he remains somewhat mystical, so do his capabilities that keep his electorate guessing rather than arrive at any clear decision. Most of the decisions of Modi during his current tenure have been geared towards either immediate electoral gain in the various elections his party faced or as a preparation for a second term. This strategy of silence is in preparation for his next term.…

https://thewire.in/politics/narendra-modi-rafale-metoo-cbi

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How Modi Government Is Destroying Key Indian Institutions – By Subodh Varma (Oct 27, 2018, News Click)

As the Modi government nears the end of its term, the list of Constitutional and statutory institutions that are unable to bear its destructive interference, and are openly protesting has been extending day by day. The recent addition is of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) whose deputy director Viral Acharya has called out the Modi government for impinging upon the RBI’s independence.

“Governments that do not respect central bank independence will sooner or later incur the wrath of financial markets, ignite economic fire, and come to rue the day they undermined an important regulatory institution,” he said at a lecture in Mumbai.

Under Modi’s rule, an unprecedented and dire situation has arisen, as key institutions – pillars of the republic – have squirmed under the overbearing pressure of interference. Some have raised the banner of revolt, some have buckled under the weight. Although institutions have always had to negotiate with political rulers, and there have been periods in India’s past when things came to a flash point, but never before has such a sweeping discontent been visible to the people. It poses a danger for the country’s democracy if institutions like the Supreme Court, RBI, Election Commission, CBI, CIC etc. are pressurised to function for political ends.…

https://www.newsclick.in/how-modi-government-destroying-key-indian-institutions

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Will Commemoration of Provisional Govt Wash Hindutva Crimes Again Netaji & INA? – By Prof Shamsul Islam (Oct 22, 2018, Caravan Daily)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who describes himself as Hindu nationalist unfurled the Tricolour from the Red Fort on October 21 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the declaration of ‘Aarzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind’ an Urdu term meaning Provisional Government of Free India on October 21, 1943 at Singapore by Netaji Subhash Chander Bose.…

It will be a sad day for India with glorious tradition of anti-imperialist struggle that children of those who criminally betrayed Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers are playing mischief with the icons of all-inclusive anti-colonial struggle.

What right PM Modi has to talk of Netaji and INA which fought for a democratic-secular India when he as an ideologue of the RSS and BJP declares himself to be a Hindu nationalist, committed to turn India into a theocratic Hindu state and belittling the minorities? Those who love Netaji and his comrades who made supreme sacrifices for the liberation of India must demand that PM Modi fulfils only one task at Red Fort of October 21, 2018, that is to seek forgiveness for the crimes which RSS and Hindu Mahasabha committed against Netaji and his INA.

http://caravandaily.com/portal/will-modis-commemoration-of-provisional-govt-of-free-india-wash-off-crimes-of-hindutva-gang-against-netaji-ina/

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Will #MeToo call Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu? – By Sumanta Banerjee (Oct 28, 2018, Countercurrents)

The courageous all-India Metoo campaign has nailed powerful male personalities ranging from film directors and actors to media journalists and political leaders. I expect the veteran Congress politician Renuka Chowdhury to join the campaign, since according to her own account she had suffered sexist remarks from no less a person than India’s present Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu.

To recount, in March 2018, after Renuka Chowdhury delivered a farewell speech following her retirement from the Rajya Sabha, Venkaiah Naidu as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha made a derisive comment about her physique: “…reduce your weight and make efforts to increase the weight of your party…”. Renuka Chowdhury did not take that comment in a lighter vein, as evident from her interview with a newspaper a few days later. While resenting that comment of Venkaiah Naidu’s, she recalled that it was not the first time that he had cast slurs on her body. Earlier, he had said to her: “Why don’t you go and see a doctor ?” In her interview, Renuka posed a counter question: “Do they (male politicians) tell men (like Venkaiah Naidu) why don’t you loose weight ?” (Deccan Chronicle; April 2, 2018).

If she felt offended – as expressed in her press interview – Renuka Chowdhury should now join the Me-Too campaign by indicting Venkaiah Naidu and charge him under clause 354 A (inserted in 2013) of the Indian Penal Code which holds that any man “making sexually coloured remarks shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.” May I request the Me-too campaigners to persuade Renuka Chowdhury to institute a case against the Vice President for his improper utterances – for which he hasn’t yet apologized?

https://countercurrents.org/2018/10/28/will-metoo-call-vice-president-venkaiah-naidu/

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Book Review

Truth in Fetters: Broken Promises and Shattered Unity

Author: Ram Puniyani
Reviewed by: Subhash Gatade
Available at: Media House, 375-A, DDA Flats, Pocket-2, Mayur Vihar Phase 1, Delhi – 110091; 2018; Price 250. https://www.amazon.in/
Review:
Bharatiya Janata Party or Bharatiya Jumla Party! (Oct 23, 2018, Countercurrents)

…A retired academic who had his last assignment as Vice Chancellor of a leading university said to me the other day, while we were discussing the contemporary political scenario. Frankly admitting that he had supported Modi’s candidature then and had even discreetly campaigned for him, during 2014 elections, he said that what a ‘disaster’ it has been these last four and half years to our polity with him at the helm of affairs.… Interestingly ‘talk of change’ is not limited to the retired academic, this feeling is widespread.…

Question arises why there is this perceptible change in the narrative despite the fact that media has largely – barring some significant exceptions – remained uncritical of the acts of commission and omission of the present dispensation and has opted to become what is derisively called as ’embedded media’. The book under consideration “Truth in Fetters : Broken Promises and Shattered Unity” written by renowned writer-activist Ram Puniyani – who has many books to his credit – and who has been very consistent in raising issues around secular politics, tries to answer this question.

Explaining the background of Modi’s ascent, how he was helped by a section of the Corporate houses and the media which created a ‘blitz in his favour’, how the propaganda of Gujarat Model of development caught the imagination of the people and how he benefitted from the Anna Hazare movement and even the Nirbhaya movement, he underlines how his ‘alluring promises’ – which were revealed to be basically ‘Jumlas’ (gimmicks) to quote Amit Shah, President of BJP – helped him win the battle for Delhi and how under him power was increasingly concentrated and how under him benefits of corporates ‘have become synonymous with development’ (page 10).…

https://countercurrents.org/2018/10/23/bharatiya-janata-party-or-bharatiya-jumla-party/