Skip to main content

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

Mayawati "faltering": Will Rahul seek Hardik Patel-Jignesh Mevani type coalition in MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan?

By Anand K Sahay*
If Narendra Modi had set the tone in late 2013 and early 2014 by unleashing a no-holds-barred attack on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, thus inaugurating an era of personalised name-calling in politics in which every FIR led to Jawaharlal Nehru, months before crucial elections, Rahul appears to have taken aim squarely at the Prime Minister, with the available material on the Rafale deal, and the government struggling with explanations on economic fugitives like Vijay Mallya.
It is clear the Congress chief is seeking to play the conscious catalyser in a likely process of crucial adjustments to the current political equilibrium in the country, depending on the outcome in the upcoming Assembly elections, which lead on to the next Lok Sabha poll.
The deep-going Rafale-related suspicions of wrong-doing can be immediately stanched if the government agreed to a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee. It strains logic that it should reject the idea of probe – whose announcement can be in its self-interest – into suspected malfeasance involving Rs 59,000 crore of taxpayers’ money.
To top these murky goings-on is the sharp deterioration in the security climate in Kashmir, which do India no credit. After the beheading of a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier on the Line of Control (LoC), the Army chief has called for a retaliatory strategy. But his words undercut defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who just days earlier airily informed a friendly Hindi television station that the Indians were severing the heads of the Pakistanis but were not prone to “display” – a kind of reverse of the so-called surgical strike strategy.
In the national interest, all of this, besides the hardships on the economic front, would naturally lead the opposition to ask questions of the government. These may also be a factor in the forthcoming state elections. However, the overall advantage may still be presumed to lie with the ruling dispensation as it has the state machinery at its beck and call.
The state can go at express speed on a propaganda blitz with the aid of the bludgeoned sections of the media, although the latter’s ability to lead the narrative is waning. Still, the regime’s opponents cannot match its propaganda resources.
With enormous punitive powers at its command, the government can also arm-twist certain types of opponents into submission. This too is an advantage only the ruling party at the Centre has when it turns its back on ethics.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) heroine Mayawati’s falter in joining an anti-BJP coalition of opposition parties in key north Indian states, after holding out such a promise, may be cited as an example of the government’s abilities in the dark arts.
Assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Mizoran are barely eight weeks away, and in Telangana perhaps less. In light of Mayawati’s reported moves, the Congress party has already suffered a jolt. Can the opposition’s hopes be revived? Rahul must step into the breach with an on-the-ground dynamism that he had shown in Gujarat and Karnataka.
In those states Rahul gave the impression of taking on the heavy lifting himself, cutting through state factions, working on possible brackets of cooperation with various political entities, and taking an active and visible interest in settling intra-party rivalries. He also seemed unafraid of the criticism of not showing sufficient patience with certain parties and groups. This overall approach paid dividend.
In the case of Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh, however, the Congress stance appears to have been tentative, one born of insecurity, leading to an accent on trying overmuch to please the BSP for fear of losing out to the BJP if an alliance with the Dalit party did not come through.
Mayawati, in contrast, showed panache. In Chhatisgarh, she secretly roped in Ajit Jogi while the Congress waited on her. The whole episode suggests that the BSP leader has decided not to be with the principal opponents of the regime in any state, including Uttar Pradesh (UP).
In the circumstances, Mayawati’s interlocutors, especially the Congress, can only survive by displaying boldness, which since Indira Gandhi has not been the party’s dominant characteristic. This calls for a barn-storming mindset -- to campaign vigorously with the Dalit communities, for whose youth the BJP has been an object of anger in recent times.
Mayawati is losing sight of the fact that young Dalits, in UP especially, had gone to the BJP in droves in 2014, and not to her, and this time around they might be looking for a third option in case she pitched in with the BJP.
In a scenario of this kind, attempting the Hardik Patel-Jignesh Mevani coordinate adopted last year in Gujarat suggests itself. These young, radical politicians of different persuasions had borne an unusual political responsibility by going against set patterns and had paired with the Congress.
Such young politicians need to be unearthed in the northern part of the country as well. The reliance on compromised politicians in general, including within the Congress, when taking on entrenched communal tendencies, can hardly be overstated.
In a quarter century, for various reasons, the Congress has not been the preferred destination of the youth, who now seem to have gone off on communal or caste tangents in the main, with the communal call being the louder. This, however, brought them nothing but misery. Narrow identity-based ideologies rooted in the far right are known to produce economic despair, especially for the middle and the poor classes, and bring about deep social cleavages and insecurities. This was the scenario in which Gujarat had made a move toward the Congress last year.
In Gujarat, for the youth, Congress was the only probable alternative; and two, it had a new, energetic, young, leader in Rahul who looks sincere, if too earnest, and appears not corrupt. The latter was decidedly a factor. Earlier, Congress had been a probable alternative, but without making a difference.
When Modi and Rahul are now head-to-head, the former is not an automatic choice any more. That’s been clear for some time, as recent polling data also attests. With the country’s woes mounting, and despair seizing the youth, this is not an unnatural outcome. But the Congress, especially, must remember it is starting with a very narrow base. Regime criticism alone cannot do the trick. Creative collaborations are vital.
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh, in each of which the RSS-BJP are in power, the Congress can only make headway if it shows tactical innovativeness and awareness, and pitches its appeal across all sections, not least because all have borne the brunt, although some more than others. In this terrain lies the Congress’ real challenge.
---
*Senior journalist, based in New Delhi. A version of this article first appeared in the "The Asian Age"

Comments

Trending

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”