BJP hosts a 3-week birthday bash for PM Modi amid his dipping popularity

Agencies
September 17, 2021

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is having a difficult year. The economy is struggling after a brutal second wave of Covid-19, his popularity has dipped and a crucial state election looms. Now his ruling party has planned a mega birthday bash for him in “service of the nation.”

Starting Friday, when the prime minister turns 71, some 5 crore postcards will be mailed to him from citizens saying “thank you” for his concern for India’s poor, Om Prakash Dhurve, a secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said. There will be film screenings and exhibitions on his life, blood donation camps, cleanliness and vaccination drives, as part of the celebration billed as the “Service and Dedication Campaign” by the party’s youth wing. 

Environmental campaigns will clean 71 spots in various states. Local units of the BJP will organise prayer ceremonies and fairs in their areas with stalls set up to encourage people to download the NaMoApp, “which will help them communicate with the Hon’ble Prime Minister directly,” the party’s youth wing said.

“BJP is observing this as service and dedication campaign,” said Dhurve. “We want Modi to be become glorious and continuously serve the nation.” While Modi’s birthday is celebrated by the party every year, the scale of the extravaganza this time is a first. A spokesman of the prime minister office refused to comment.

The grand events come as Modi’s popularity has dipped to 24 per cent from 66 per cent a year ago, the lowest point since he came to power seven years ago, according to a Mood of the Nation survey published by the India Today media group in August. A sweeping second wave of coronavirus infections in April and May overwhelmed burial grounds and crematoriums and shuttered the economy.

His party lost a key state election in May and is looking to retain power in the politically significant state of Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls early next year. His home state of Gujarat will also have elections in late 2022.

“This is chiefly a strategy to mollify people’s anger on mismanagement of the Covid pandemic and winning assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh -- and restore Modi as a charismatic, dynamic leader,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a political analyst who has written a Modi biography. “The whole campaign is a blatant copy of the individualized-authoritarian model and also a great PR exercise.”

The celebrations are in stark contrast to the everyday reality of millions of Indians left jobless by the pandemic. 

More than a year after the first Covid-19 lockdown, the unemployment rate is still above pre-pandemic levels, with the manufacturing sector seen to have shed about 10 million jobs permanently and most new opportunities in services turning out to be low-paying gigs. That’s hardly a reason for cheer in an economy where private consumption makes up some 60% of gross domestic product.

Many economists see this as a recipe for a bumpy recovery. Although the latest quarterly headline growth numbers look good, GDP when adjusted for base effect, is much weaker than it was before the pandemic.

Congress panned the birthday events, with plans to mark September 17 as #NationalUnemploymentDay, the president of the party’s youth wing Srinivas B V said on Twitter. 

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October 18,2021

Bengaluru, Oct 18: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday said schools will reopen for students of classes 1 to 5 in the state and the government will soon make an announcement in this regard.

"Already the experts committee has given the report, we will issue the order. Regarding, from when (to start the classes) and all those details, the Chief Secretary will hold a meeting with the education department," Bommai said. Speaking to reporters here, he said after the discussions, a decision on reopening schools for students from classes one to five will be taken.

With Covid-19 cases declining, the government had reopened schools for students of classes 6 to 8 from September 6, and for students of classes 9 to 12 from August 23. 

Earlier in the day, Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh said that the schools will be reopened for students of class 1 to 5 on the basis of the recommendation of the state's Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19.

"If they say from October 21, we will start; if they say a week later, we will start a week later." 

Noting that the government wants to start classes from one to five in one go, he said, "but our plan is to have half-a-day classes during the initial one week or so, and thereafter full day classes, once students get used to it," he said. The Minister, however, said no decision has been taken regarding reopening schools for LKG (Lower Kindergarten) and UKG (Upper Kindergarten) children.

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October 15,2021

Mumbai, Oct 15: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Friday called upon the government to come out with a population policy that is acceptable by one and all. 

“While reimagining the country’s development one predicament comes to the fore which appears to concern many. The rapid growth of the country’s population may give rise to many problems in the near future. Therefore, this challenge must be duly considered,” Bhagwat said addressing the annual VijayDashami rally at Nagpur. 

Bhagwat also read out the resolution which was passed on this issue during the Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (All India Executive Committee) meeting of Sangh held at Ranchi in 2015.

"The ubiquitous and effective implementation of relevant policies pertaining to these matters will require widespread public sensitisation and impartial actions,” he said.

Bhagwat pointed out that in the present circumstances, news of persecution of native Hindus, growing criminalisation and a mounting pressure on them to escape their areas where an imbalanced population growth have surfaced. 

“The violence that broke out following the elections of West Bengal and the pitiable condition of the Hindu people there can also be attributed to the appeasement of barbarous elements by the government and population imbalance,” he said.

“Therefore, a policy that is applicable to all groups in the same fashion is imperative. All of us need to inculcate the habit of considering the collective national interest above everything while coming out of attractive cobweb of milking the parochial group interests,” Bhagwat added.

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October 15,2021

Dhaka/New Delhi, Oct 15: The Bangladesh government has promised swift action against those behind attacks on Hindu temples and Durga Puja celebrations amid criticism that the Muslim-majority country hasn't done enough to protect minorities.

Four people were killed in violence after some Hindu temples were vandalised during Durga Puja celebrations, prompting Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to deploy paramilitary force in 22 districts on Thursday.

"The incidents in Comilla are being thoroughly investigated. Nobody will be spared. It doesn't matter which religion they belong to. They will be hunted down and punished," she said while exchanging greetings with the Hindus during an event at Dhakeshwari National Temple in Dhaka, news agency PTI reported.

"We are getting a large amount of information. This is an era of technology and those involved in the incident will definitely be tracked down with the use of the technology," Ms Hasina said.

India has sought action against the people behind the violence unleashed during the Durga Puja celebrations.

Videos on social media show large mobs breaking Durga Puja installations, throwing stones and vandalising Hindu temples. Some show idols of Goddess Durga broken by mobs.

India has called the reports of violence "disturbing". "We have seen disturbing reports of untoward incidents, involving attacks on a religious gathering in Bangladesh. We note the government of Bangladesh has reacted promptly to ensure the control of the situation including deployment of law enforcement machinery," foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, news agency ANI reported.

The authorities in Bangladesh enforced a ban on rallies in Haziganj where officials confirmed the deaths of four people with gunshot wounds, adding that two others were critically injured in the clashes, PTI reported.

According to officials in Bangladesh, the police were alerted about an alleged blasphemy incident at a Durga Puja pavilion in Cumilla, about 100 km from Dhaka, after which an investigation was launched. However, violence erupted after a mob attacked temples in parts of Cumilla, neighbouring Haziganj, northwestern coastal sub-districts of Hatia and Banskhali. Social media was used largely to instigate the communal tensions.

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