Democracy will perish if you don’t work hard: Kharge warns Congress leaders

News Network
September 18, 2023

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A warning that Mallikarjun Kharge issued to the Congress leaders and ranks on Sunday underlines the gravity of the crisis: “If you don’t work hard, democracy will perish, constitutional rule will be over.”

While Kharge was exhorting the extended Congress Working Committee (CWC) to gear up for the battles ahead, Rahul Gandhi explained how to go about it: “Avoid irrelevant issues, don’t fall into the BJP’s trap. Listen to the voice of the people and ensure these voices are crystallised into policies and guarantees. That’s how the Congress system is designed.”

The Congress strategy will be evolved on these critical counsels. The election strategy for five states was discussed at the extended CWC meeting on the second day. The party issued a statement after the meeting, exuding confidence about victory in all the states. Kharge asked the workers to ensure outreach to voters aged between 18 and 25 and explain to them the ideology and history of the Congress.

Later, addressing a massive public rally in Hyderabad, the Congress launched six guarantees, telling the voters to trust the party that fulfilled its commitment to create the state of Telangana.

Sonia Gandhi, who was instrumental in creating Telangana, was asked to launch the guarantees. Rahul and Kharge entreated the voters to judge the party on its track record, reminding them how all the guarantees were fulfilled within the first three months in the neighbouring Karnataka.

The guarantees for Telangana are: Rs 2,500 for every woman per month, free bus travel for women across the state, gas cylinder for Rs 500, Rs 5 lakh for every homeless person for construction of a house, Rs 4,000 per month for senior citizens, Rs 10 lakh health insurance for the citizens, Rs 15,000 per acre for farmers every year and Rs 12,000 for agriculture workers.

Rahul spent most of his time at the public rally on trying to convince the people that the BJP, K. Chandrashekhar Rao’s BRS and Asaduddiun Owaisi’s AIMIM have a partnership and work as a team. He recalled how the BRS helped the Narendra Modi government in Parliament and outside on every critical occasion over the last nine years. He said the ED-CBI and income tax, which have been targeting all Opposition leaders, kept aloof even as thousands of crores were looted in Telangana.

He said the new state was not created to empower the KCR family, and his government must be ousted to empower the poor, farmers, workers, women and youth. He accused Owaisi of disturbing the Congress in all states to help the BJP. Amidst loud cheers, he declared: “Nobody can save the KCR government now, not even Modi.”

Kharge also concentrated on explaining to the people how the Congress track record inspires confidence, recalling the nation-building process in the initial decades after Independence and recent schemes like the MGNREGA and the Food Security Act. He said the politics of Modi and KCR rests on lies — both these leaders make false promises to mislead the voters. He said KCR pushed a surplus-budget state into financial bankruptcy.

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News Network
June 5,2024

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India is unpredictable. This is an incontrovertible fact that Indians themselves seem to have forgotten over the past decade.

Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed into office with an unexpected and unprecedented outright legislative majority in 2014, many have assumed the country’s politics had changed forever.

The age of coalitions was over; India seemed to be heading inexorably toward one-party dominance.

To stock traders and pro-government pundits, the country’s trajectory seemed so clear: It was destined to see steady 8 per cent growth, happy voters, and a prime minister going from strength to strength at home and abroad.

Indian voters chose to disagree. With votes still being counted in the country’s massive general elections and several races still hanging in the balance, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party looks almost certain to have fallen short of a parliamentary majority. 
That means it will have to depend, for the first time, on fickle smaller parties to hold onto power.

This was what Indian politics looked like for decades prior to Modi’s emergence. Many thought we were living in a new normal. Instead, the old normal has reasserted itself.

In these surprising elections, Modi and the BJP appear to have discovered the limits of hype. An apparently unified public sphere, solidly pro-government media, and impressive growth numbers had left many assuming that Modi’s performance in power had few holes.

Observers should have paid more attention to contrary indicators. Employment growth under Modi has been marginal at best. Social inclusion has been patchy.

While much of the country looks very different from it did in 2014, even more of it looks largely unchanged.

Small-town India has not seen the sort of revolution in infrastructure that cities of equivalent size in China or Southeast Asia have enjoyed over recent decades.

Big metropolises were transformed during the boom years of the 2000s; they have mostly stagnated since then.

Whatever the GDP growth numbers are, whether they are believable or not, one thing is clear: Voters do not believe enough of that growth has reached their wallets.
It’s not surprising such facts have been overlooked. The Modi government and its allies have completely dominated messaging over the past decade.

They sought to maintain, week in and week out, the frenetic pace and outsize enthusiasm that marked the Prime Minister’s initial march to power.

The government thought that the lesson of its sweeping re-election in 2019 was that social conservatism and welfare delivery was enough to maintain control.

But Modi and the BJP have reached the limits of welfare-first politics and saturation advertising. Without real change on the ground, he or any successor may struggle to retain power over the next five years. They will have to pay more attention to governance than to marketing.

There’s a lot that needs attention. Modi came into power promising manufacturing jobs and private-sector-friendly reforms. In this campaign, he instead argued that loans to small-scale entrepreneurs had gone up, proving that jobs were being created — and that increases in share prices for public-sector companies validated his economic performance.

This is clearly a retreat from the ambitions of a decade ago. Any new government must recapture those ambitions; voters clearly expect it.

If India’s politics have indeed returned to normal, its government must, too. Repression of the opposition does not work, not in a country this large and variegated.

For 10 years, Modi has promised to wipe out his principal rivals in the Indian National Congress party. Yet, in this election, the Congress demonstrated that it is not going anywhere.

The government arguably misused investigative agencies to go after opposition leaders in two states in particular, Maharashtra and West Bengal; both have decisively voted against the BJP.

Modi’s personal popularity is such that he and his government can survive the sort of relatively mild rebuke the electorate has delivered. To retain power for a third term, even if dependent on allies, is an historic achievement.

This result is only startling because the Modi hype had completely detached itself from reality.

We do not live, it appears, in a post-truth world. Even the most adept populists must eventually reckon with reality. None of them are immune to the most fundamental rule of politics: If you don’t perform, you perish.

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News Network
June 14,2024

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Kochi: An Indian Air Force (IAF) flight carrying the mortal remains of the Indians who died in the tragic fire incident in Kuwait two days ago, landed at the international airport here on Friday.

The IAF C30J aircraft is carrying the bodies of the Indians and of them 31 were received at the airport here.

The 31 bodies include 23 Keralites, 7 Tamilians and one person from Karnataka, officials said.

Officials had said that 49 people were killed in the fire in the Al-Mangaf building on June 12 and majority of them were Indians; the remaining were Pakistani, Filipino, Egyptian and Nepali nationals.

The blaze in the seven-storey building that housed 196 migrant workers in Mangaf, south of Kuwait City, on Wednesday killed 49 people and injured around 50 others. 

A preliminary probe has indicated glaring lapses – there were around two dozen gas cylinders on the ground floor of the building; inflammable materials were used as partitions to separate the workers in the cramped rooms; the doors to the rooftop were locked, etc.

Ernakulam Range DIG Putta Vimaladitya earlier said that all the required arrangements have been made to receive the bodies at the airport. 

“We have coordinated with the family members of the victims. Once the bodies are received, they will be properly escorted to their respective places.” Vimaladitya said.

A dedicated vehicle will be provided for each body, the DIG said. Heavy police force and ambulances have been deployed at the airport in Kochi.

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News Network
June 7,2024

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Moscow: Four Indian medical students drowned in a river near St Petersburg in Russia and the Indian missions in the country were coordinating with Russian authorities to send their bodies to their relatives as soon as possible.

The four students—two boys and two girls aged 18-20—were studying at the nearby Novgorod State University in Veliky Novgorod city.

Local media reports said that a female Indian student, who waded out from the beach on the river Volkhov, got into trouble and four of her companions tried to save her.

In their attempt to save her, three others also drowned in the river.

A third boy was pulled to safety by local people.

"We are working to send the bodies to the relatives as soon as possible. Proper treatment is also being provided to the student whose life has been saved," the Embassy of India in Moscow said on X.

The Consulate General of India in St Petersburg said these students were pursuing medical education at Veliky Novgorod State University.

"Sincere condolences to the bereaved families," it posted on X.

The Consulate General said it was working together with the local authorities of Veliky Novgorod to send the mortal remains to the relatives as soon as possible.

"The bereaved families have been contacted and assured of all the possible help," it said.

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