Is Cong’s anti-CAA stance trustworthy?

Mafazah Sharafuddin
May 11, 2021

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Congress’ recent loss in Assam has caused discussions about the party’s stand in the CAA issue once more. The BJP, along with allies AGP and UPPL, who won the election did not mention the CAA further than in the manifesto, stating that it will be implemented as per parliamentary ruling. The Congress, on the other hand mentioned the CAA several times during the campaign, going as far to promise a law repealing the largely protested act. 

The passing of the CAA was met with a huge opposition in Assam. Owing to that, the BJP chose to omit the controversial act during the campaign altogether. While it may come as a surprise with the magnitude of opposition against the BJP the CAA caused in Assam, the tactic seemed to work in their favor.

Conversely, the Rahul Gandhi made it a point to publicly announce that that Congress was anti-CAA and would not allow it to be implemented if they get voted into power. Despite the repeal of the CAA being one the five guarantees the Congress gave prior to the election, it seems like the party isn’t unanimous in the idea.

Far from all the Congress leaders being confident in their anti-CAA stand, not even all the Congress leaders within Assam have expressed their stance openly. Sushmita Dev from Barak Valley for example shied away from making any clear statements on the matter. Unwilling to lose out on the votes from people who are pro-CAA, including the Hindu Bengalis, she has remained vague about the issue. 

While Rahul Gandhi and Jitendra Singh have made their stance clear at the central and state level, it is surprising that leaders within the state are not complying with the same. Vote banks and such are not an uncommon occurrence in India. However, when the Congress central leadership has spoken openly against the CAA on multiple occasions, they are making a stand against a decision made by the Center.

The BJP caters to a majorly Hindu audience with no qualms about that being public knowledge. The Congress, on the other hand, has made it a point to seem secular, and support minorities. Their decision to be anti-CAA, deeming it unconstitutional works in that vein. 

However, to pick and choose when to stress on this in fear of losing voters who support the CAA is contradictory to the principles of the party. Vying for the votes of the Hindu Bengalis by distancing themselves from their anti-CAA stance not only brings the Congress’ ideals into question, but also makes the public wonder how much control the leadership has on the members of the party. 

The question arises: Was this an individual blunder or a party blunder? Is the party selling out its values in exchange for votes? Or is it simply that the representatives are allowed to run amuck without respecting the ideals of the party?

While the Congress, unlike its counterpart, has in general refrained from making many blatantly discriminatory statements, they are no pinnacle of inclusivity. The Congress does continuously preach secularism and claims to want to support the minorities, yet the numbers speak for themselves. The representatives are overwhelmingly part of the majority.

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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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News Network
September 15,2021

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Bengaluru, Sept 15: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday said the state government is ready to have a debate on NEP 2020 with an open mind and nobody should get anxious about it.

"The government is ready to deliberate on the New Education Policy (NEP) with an open mind. We will make students understand that NEP is a revolutionary step and good for the future of the youth. Therefore, nobody should be anxious about NEP," he told reporters after paying tributes to Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya's statue on the occasion of Engineers's Day celebrations.

He was replying to a query on police lathicharge on students protesting against NEP on Tuesday. Campus Front of India (CFI) had spearheaded the protest.

The police lathicharge the students after they started to march onto the middle of the road that resulted in heavy traffic jam at ever-busy road leading to Majestic.

The students were carrying placards conveying the message that the NEP breaks the unity in diversity and encourages commercialisation of education.

Taking to Twitter today, former chief minister Siddaramaiah condemned the lathicharge on students and demanded an apology from Bommai.

"I condemn the lathicharge on students in Bengaluru for protesting against the implementation of New National Education Policy. Basavaraj Bommai should immediately withdraw NEP and apologise to the students," he tweeted.

The NEP was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi government last August.

According to the PM, the NEP promises to provide students various avenues to upskill and train themselves for jobs and vocations in India.

It also promises to teach students coding in schools from Class 6 onwards to equip them with the skills required to succeed in the 21st century.

The new policy also gives students the flexibility to choose subjects from both Science and Humanities, which will bring the Indian education system on par with the rest of the world.

It also ensures that students grasp at least one vocational skill by the end of their education so that they are job ready in the market.

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News Network
September 23,2021

Bengaluru, Sept 23: The number of ‘illegal’ foreigners living in Karnataka is two times more than those whose visa has expired, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has told the Legislative Assembly. 

According to written replies tabled by Jnanendra in the Assembly, Karnataka has 683 ‘illegal’ foreigners. However, foreigners with an expired visa living in Karnataka are just 260.  This either suggests India’s porous borders or poor data-keeping on the part of the state government. 

Number wise, Bengaluru tops with most of 622 foreigners who continue to stay even after the expiry of their Visa period, followed by Hubballi- Dharwad-18, Mysuru-16 and Ramanagar-11. While KGF has 7 illegal foreigners, Mangaluru (city police) - 3 and 1 in each of Bagalkot, Bidar, Chitradurga, Dakshina Kannada (rural police), Uttara Kannada and Vijayapura.

Of the 683 ‘illegal’ foreigners or immigrants, only 53 have been identified as Bangladeshi nationals, Jnanendra said. A majority of these 683 foreigners are in Bengaluru (619). A total of 112 cases for various offences have been lodged against them. 

Jnanendra said the government had filed 88 cases against foreigners whose visa has expired since 2019. Also, 103 such foreigners have been deported. Some are kept in a detention centre as directed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. 

“To curb the illegal stay of immigrants, a Special Task Force has been constituted in every city and district. Personnel belonging to the special team and the police are constantly working to identify illegal immigrants,” Jnanendra said, adding that lookout circulars are issued against immigrants who are on the run. 

The presence of foreigners is also linked with the drugs business, Jnanendra’s written replies suggest. In this connection, police stations have been asked to track information on foreigners and “special operations are conducted to take strict action against those who are indulging in (drugs).” 

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