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June - July 2004

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Sonia Gandhi Reconsiders Her Decision
At the meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party, on Monday May 19, Sonia Gandhi said that due to strong opposition from different parts of the country and listening to the voice of her inner conscience she has refused to become prime minister of the country.

Sushma Swaraj Takes A Vow
If Sonia Gandhi takes up the Prime minister ship of the country, Sushma Swaraj will resign her Rajya Sabha seat, and take 'vrata' of wearing only white sari, sleep on ground and shave her head, as her conscience does not allow that a foreign-born citizen should hold the highest office in the country.

Steep Fall Of The Sensex:
A hung parliament with communists and left parties holding the balance brought the sensex down almost five hundred points.

What Will Be The Face Of The New Cabinet?
Whoever becomes the Prime Minister, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi will continue to influence every decision of the Government. So, what will be her choice?Congress, like Vajpayee, will have to give out the main jobs to Congress as well as partners. Manmohan Singh may take over as caretaker Prime Minister. He is the least controversial of all the front-runners and a loyal Soniaite. The maiden Lok Sabha win for Pranab Mukherjee, has strengthened his muscles; but he has many rivals. He may take over as finance, home or foreign portfolio. K. Natwar Singh, a foreign policy expert and another loyal Soniaite may be ignored. The main aspirants are Sharad Pawar and Lalloo Yadav. Both can do the work of a Brutus if not given an important portfolio like defence or home. Kapil Sibal is an obvious choice for the law ministry. P. Chidambaram may get Commerce. Mani Aiyer will love to get his hand on education. Lalloo as Railway Minister will love to take the job of his arch-rivil Nitish Kumar; and will make railway as efficient as fertiliser industry.

Bipolarisation of Indian Politics?
The result of the General Elections 2004 has shown that people in Haryana listened to Lal Krishna Advani's advice of voting the Congress and not the smaller parties of Chauthala if their first choice is not BJP. But his advice was ignored in Uttar Pradesh where Samajvadi Party, BSP, BJP and Congress shared the seats in that order. Both Haryana and Uttar Pradesh brought the dowfall of the BJP in the Hindi belt. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh had almost straight fight between the BJP and the Congress party with no allies. Here the BJP did better than the Congresss. Local politics played a big part in Tami Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa. NDA lost a great ally in Chandrababu Naidu; and moving over of DMK to Sonia's charma proved almost fatal to BJP's ambition of forming the next government. Orissa is again safe with NDA with Navin Patnaik, the son of Biju Patnaik, the great charismatic leader of the past. It is just possible that the instability being brought by the paper-thin majority of the Congress, may bring an early end to this inauspicious parliament, the results of which were announced on 13 May.

Seats declared 539 out of 543
Party 1999 2004
NDA(BJP & its allies 298 188
Congress & its allies 135 219
Others 110 132

PUNJAB Akali - BJP Combined Take All But Two.

The BJP won all the three seats it contested and the Akali Dal secured eight. Congress was saved from humiliation by the Maharani, ie. Mrs. Preneet Kaur wife of Mr. Amarinder Singh, the Congress chief minister in Punjab. Reason? Factional in-fighting in Punjab Congress party. Vinod Khanna in Gurdaspur won for the third time defeating Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder. Punjab BJP president Avinash Khanna won by a margin of over one hundred thousand defeating Darshan Singh Mattu of CPM. Sukhbir Badal won in Fridkot. He got the highest margin of 1.36 lakh defeating Karan Brar, daughter in law of former Congress chief minister Harcharan Singh Brar.

Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Union minister defeated Arvind Khanna by over 27 thousand votes in Sangrur. Outgoing MP and Akali Dal (Mann) leader Simranjit Singh Mann finished third. Charajit Singh Atwal won from Phillaur defeating sitting Congress MP Santosh Chaudhary.BJP,s Navjot Sidhu defeated six-time MP Raghunandan Lal Bhatia in Amritsar by a massive 1.1 lakh votes. People like Navjit Sidhu and Vinod Khanna will bring credit to BJP's citadel in the Lok Sabha. But in Jalandhar, the Congress legislator Rana Gurjit Singh was able to defeat Naresh Gujral, the son of ex-prime minister Mr. I.K. Gujral.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Head Of Art Of Living Movement Speaks Out
We are issuing this statement in a strange situation and under extraordinary circumstances compelling us to speak out in the larger interest of India as a nation and as a civilisation and also in the larger interest of world peace. Every nation has a purpose and an ideal to live for and fulfil. India as a nation has been chosen by destiny to stand and live for the values which its ancient rishis and sages have expounded from time to time through its existence for thousands of years. Maharishi Aurobindo repeatedly emphasised the divine identity of this ancient nation.

Swami Vivekananda declared at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1892 that the message of the Vedas and Upanisads is universal brotherhood and equal respect for all faiths and methods of worship. The culture and traditions of this ancient nation have nurtured these values and preserved them for posterity and for nations and societies deprived of the benefit of this kind spiritual discipline. For nations devastated by wars over religion and greed, the values nurtured by this ancient nation of rishis remains the only hope for peace. So India has to be India and remain India of the rishis for delivering this message and for the good of the world. This is the stake in India for people like us. Bereft of this India has no purpose live for and has no direction to move ahead.

The recent elections to the Lok Sabha in India seem to have landed the country in a period of complex coalition and instability. In the past India has been through such testing times with extraordinary ease. But the most disturbing and even humiliating aspect of the present election process is the decision of post election alliance to install an Italian-born person as the Prime Minister of the country. This also clouds the personality and identity of India. This development is repugnant to the identity of India as a civilisation and its pride as a nation. This raises basic questions about the very idea of India and its soul. What ever be the result of the political process it cannot over turn and should not be allowed to overturn the spiritual and civilisational direction of India. So a development like this which basically contradicts India's spiritual and cultural traditions should be stopped at all costs.

Whatever be the differences between different political parties this decision to install a foreign-born as the Prime Minister is at complete variance with India's existence as a civilisation. In no other country in the world such a development could be imagined. It is extraordinary in its nature and impact. It is in this background we felt compelled to appeal to all political parties to evolve a consensus to review the choice of a foreign born political leader as the Prime Minister and a global representative of this ancient nation. Such an action will hurt the soul of this spiritual nation and also the adherents of the dharma of ancient nation to no end. Such a government will also lack trans-political and moral and civilizational authority extremely critical to govern the people effectively.

If it is not possible to avoid this highly prejudicial development, we appeal to the political class, intellectuals and the ordinary people of India who agree with us to resist this development with all their might so the destiny of India remains in the hands of Indians and the civilisational and cultural identity of India is not compromised. We invoke the tapasya of the saints and sages of this ancient land to overcome this national challenge which approximates the rule of foreign forces in this country. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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