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June - July 2005

Political News

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First anniversary of the UPA Government Kia paaya kia khoya
Manmohan Singh’s first year as the Prime Minister ended in frustration for him and some loss of face and integrity by the Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. The Left parties, supporting the UPA government are angry as their policies are laid aside by Chidambaram and Montek Ahluwalia who are bent on following the disinvestment and open economy policies of the previous government. Even the RJD Supremo Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav is frustrated as his ‘Bihari-style politics’ at the Centre is causing antipathy even among his supporters.

The common minimum programme of the government has become less than minimum as the parliamentary wheels have almost come to a standstill due to continuous defiance of the Opposition parties led by NDA. The government, in a nutshell, is not working. The Prime Minister Office in its April report shows that only four out of 40 promises made, the results are satisfactory. These include setting up a commission for minorities’ welfare, establishment of a North East Council, Crop and Livestock Insurance and Village Electrification Schemes. All remaining 36 promises have remained unfulfilled. One of the most tragic examples is that the 2% education cess collected for the fund for elementary education is not even going for elementary education. The Prime Minister wanted to know from Mr. Arjun Singh (minister HRD), Mr. Chidambaram, the finance minister, and deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia about this non-fulfilment of one crucial promise. The Prime Minister is unhappy with Shivraj Patil’s Home Department, Arjun Singh’s Human Resource Departmen, Sharad Pawar’s Agriculture, Meira Kumar’s social justice and Empowerment and PM Syeed’s Power department.

BJP or NDA (whatever you say) Out of Power for One Year - lost in the Maze of their own creation
Lal Kishen Advani, the new BJP chief in parliament as well as outside has somehow lost his grip over the party middle-ranking leadership. And they are numerous. Some very eloquent and some talk in sign language. The BJP is in a state of confusion. The old ‘Pitamah’, Atal Bihari Vajpai, refuses to go despite his political death in May 2004.

It all started with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief K.S. Sudarshan’s demand for the retirement of Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee to make way for younger leaders. A reasonable demand coming from the idealogical base of the BJP. After all, by the next election (2008-09) Advani himself will be over 80. The time has come when both Atal Bihari Vajpai and LK Advani stay in parliament (both were elected by a huge majority) as elder statesmen; and let the new leader be elected by the BJP members of parliament under their watchful eyes. The new leadership has to be a joint one, a combination of idealist and a person of action. For example, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. Or Mahajan and Modi (Narendra). And why not Naidu and Naqvi (Mukhtar Abbas). More fun and laughs will keep members of parliament healthy . Whether they will be able to win a majority in the Lok Sabha is a different matter.

Election Commission gets a flake from Lalu; but comes out stronger.
Recent outburst in the form of a letter given by an election officer in Bihar (an IAS officer) to Lalu Prasad Yadav against the action taken by the Election Commission in Bihar (Chhapra constituency ) shows the lowest form of Lalu’s political manoeuvring. Thankfully it has backfired. But will Manmohan Singh dare to ask him to leave the cabinet?
The new chairman of the Election Commission is BB Tandon. Mr. Naveen Chawla is the new member of the Election commission. The 1969 batch IAS officer, will hold office for five years. A graduate in history, Chawla prior to becoming I&B secretary, was Secretary in Consumer Affairs Ministry.

Twice postponed SAARC Summit is On – Natwar Singh
India has conveyed its readiness to attend the twice-postponed 1`3th SAARC Summit in November this year. The decision was conveyed by External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh to his Bangladesh counterpart Morshed Khan. Subsequently, Pakistan, the current Chairman, has also ben informed.

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