Figures Based on Conservative GDP Growth Rate of 6

Posted By: Ajay Rawat Posted On: Aug 19, 2023

The per capita income of Indians determined from income-tax filing is expected to increase from Rs 2 lakh in FY23 to Rs 14.9 lakh in FY47, coinciding with 100 years of the country's Independence, according to a recent report from SBI Research that has been cited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. In an exclusive conversation with CNN-News18, Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economic adviser, State Bank of India, discussed the various facets of the report, the import of the findings, and the definition of India's middle class. Edited excerpts:

Your report has now been hailed by the Prime Minister as well in a LinkedIn post. How does that make you feel?

This report is a visualisation based on the actual data on income tax in the last 10 years. In fact, if you look at the income tax data. It's basically a repository of wealth of information and using the data you can actually, we have estimated whatever is said in the report.

I think there are a lot of misnomers today out in the public domain. The first thing is that in the public domain, we always said that up to 5% of the Indian population pays taxes. That's incorrect. 37% of the total formal labour force today is paying taxes. That is one in every three formal labour families is paying taxes.

The second is that 64% of the income tax returns are actually now below Rs 5,00,000. That means they don't need to pay any taxes.

And the third thing is that if you look into the number of taxpayers in the last 10 years, they have expanded from 30 million, and this as of July 31st, 2023, was close to 68 million. And if you take the late returns also which are basically filed till 2024, this number could actually top 85 million if not closer to 90 million. So from 30 million to 90 million is a threefold rise in taxpayers and as you said from the report that 13.6% of the overall taxpayers have actually moved into the higher-income buckets. I think that is something that means people are experiencing an increase in their taxable income as of today.

In terms of India's economic revival since 1991, how important is this change of 13-plus per cent? Is this the largest such jump that we have witnessed from, say, the under Rs 5 lakh per annum bracket to above?

Let me first say…income data is always looked at with current prices. So basically when you are comparing the size of the nominal GDP today and 20 years down the line, you will always compare the size of the economy at current prices.

Having said that, the numbers which are based here are also based on a very conservative real GDP growth rate of 6.5%. So that's where we're assuming that around 25% of the income tax filers will progress to the upper echelons as of 2047 and the per capita income only will rise to around close to $14,400 or so. Remember that this is as per GDP growth at only 6.5% which is lower than today. There is a similar report recently published by the RBI which has said that the per capita income could rise beyond $20,000 and even at $14,500, you are ahead of the definition of a developed economy.

Now, having said that, this 13.6 number is actually a sizable number. And in terms of the progression that we have seen in the last 10 years, I think there indeed has been considerable progress if we look at the data and nothing else.

The only thing is that in those two years, if the pandemic had not happened, this jump could have been even higher. But I think in terms of a progression, I think that's quite a decent progression for an economy that has moved from being the 10th to the fifth largest as of 2022, last year.

So you don't think it's a fair criticism that has come in from certain quarters that this should also be looked at keeping in mind inflation, which is a hot topic right now?

One can always ask what it is in real terms. But even if you make a real-terms comparison, the income has actually gone up more than twice. But at the end of the day, income is always measured in terms of the current prices. So I don't see much of the criticism behind that. At the end of the day, if your income is rising, it is good for you. And of course, if you also look at the inflation numbers for the last 10 years, the average inflation is not more than 5.2%. So even if I take 5% inflation, if I discounted that, your income should have more than doubled In the last 10 years. So that also is a matter of achievement by any means.

The other big issue that people talk about is that the middle class itself is very undefined in India. The actual number of what is quoted as being in India's middle class could be much less. What, according to you, is the actual size of India's middle class?

See, it is difficult to say because our study has actually concentrated on the middle-income class. I am quoting the term ‘middle-income class'. There are some studies that talk about the size of the middle-income class by 2047. We have not ventured into that category. Instead, we have tried to see the number of tax filers in the economy. If the number of tax filers in the economy, which is currently around 90 million, jumps to around 487 million as of 2047, this itself is a signal that the middle class of India is growing, because at the end of the day, our report actually synonymously talks about the middle-income class and the middle class in the same way, because the middle class are the people who always pay taxes honestly, file returns and they are the people who are moving up the ladder.

You can define the middle class in terms of an upper middle class, lower middle class, neo middle class, but at the end of the day, these are the people who pay taxes…And that's why we have calculated threshold income, because there are many definitions of which income bucket you should be in for the middle class, but as of today, the threshold income of a middle class is Rs. 13 lakh, i.e,, earning around Rs 1 lakh per in gross terms per month, which was Rs 4.4 lakh 10 years back. Or it was around Rs 30,000 to 35,000 ten years back.

Some people say that this growth is not equal, and is not equally distributed across India. Is this growth of people moving above in I-T brackets coming from across the country, or are there some states that are leading this growth, leaving others behind?

The most important aspect of the report is that the top 5 states in this…Uttar Pradesh is one of them, West Bengal is one of them, Rajasthan is one of them, and of course, there are Gujarat and Maharashtra. There are also a lot of people from West Bengal who have migrated to other states and are filing taxes from there. So even in terms of states, we are seeing a dispersion in terms of tax returns.

We had done another study for the last 10 years…that is not a part of the report in terms of the GDP of the states. You'll be surprised to know that, in economic terms, it is known as the Gini Coefficient Index, we found out that the index had actually narrowed down…meaning that the gap between the rich states and states that are not so rich is narrowing. So this means that people in these states are also gaining from the economic benefits. And most importantly after GST reforms have been introduced, given the significant financial devolution that has happened to the states, their fiscal positions are much better than earlier, and you can look at the data.

Taking all that into consideration, it won't be correct to say that there has been a significant jump in inequality. Of course, when there is growth, there will be inequality…it happens even in a developed country. So India can't be an exception to that. My idea is that it is narrowing down over time. I think too much should not be read into that. But of course, there need to be concerted efforts in terms of reducing the income gap between the rich and the poor.

Source: News18

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Trudeau’s ‘Strong Ties’ Assurance Cuts No Ice as Khalistani Groups Plan Fresh Anti-India Rally in Canada

Posted By: Ajay Rawat Posted On: Sep 30, 2023

In a fresh blow to India-Canada ties that have been on the back foot since the killing of Khalistani sympathiser Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the extremist groups are planning yet another rally in Canada on Sunday at the Surrey Gurdwara.

The Khalistan supporters are planning to bring Sikh radicals from all over Canada, sources told CNN-News18. The invites that have been circulated say “leading community voices to discuss the rising threat of Indian violence in Canada and how to formulate an effective Panthic response”.

According to sources, this is a radical grouping where people will come and speak against India and formulate plans on how to handle the situation in future.

The development comes amid Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's assertion of the need for strong ties with India. The climb-down can be attributed to the meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Tony Blinken in which Canada's allegations with regards to Nijjar's killing were discussed. Post the meeting, Jaishankar said the two delegations came out “better informed”.

This was followed by a statement by Trudeau wherein he said Canada is “very serious” about building closer ties with India as it is a growing economic power and important geopolitical player, but wants New Delhi to work with Ottawa to ensure that they get the full facts about the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Speaking at a press conference in Montreal, Trudeau said that he thinks it is extremely important that Canada and its allies continue to engage constructively and seriously with India given its growing importance on the world stage.

Tensions have been on the boil between India and Canada following Trudeau's explosive allegations of the “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.

India angrily rejected the allegations as “absurd” and “motivated” and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case.

Source: News18

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Saffron Scoop

Posted By: Vishal Maurya Posted On: Sep 29, 2023

Politically speaking, Ramesh Bidhuri is not a character who can be portrayed in black or white. The South Delhi MP recently hit the headlines for using derogatory words for BSP MP Danish Ali in Parliament, forcing Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to apologise on the BJP's behalf. Controversy's child, a perpetual loudmouth — these phrases are often used against the former Delhi MLA. But there's another side to Bidhuri too; he is also considered to be a grassroots leader with a huge mass base, a community leader of the Gurjars, and someone who can arrange crowds for BJP rallies overnight.

It has always been a risk for the BJP to keep him in the party, but a risk worth taking it appears. While one set of leaders – particularly some erudite leaders — complain about “leaders like Bidhuri”, another set considers him to be an “asset”. Ramesh Bidhuri, the politician, swims in between these contrasts.

Not only does the Opposition consider him to be a “hate monger”, a section of the BJP, however minuscule, too considers him to be a “long-standing migraine”. It's not just his latest choice of offensive and communal words against a Muslim MP that has put the party in an extremely uncomfortable position amid its outreach to Pasmanda Muslims, but Bidhuri has a long-standing track record of being on the wrong side.

Last year, when a parent went to seek help from him in a matter related to their child's school, Bidhuri allegedly replied: “Why do you give birth to a child in the first place?”

He sparked off another controversy when he made a similar communal comment in his recent diatribe. “Wherever Muslims are in the minority, we speak of human rights. But wherever they are in the majority, violence breaks out,” he said.

In 2019, at a meeting in Mehrauli, Bidhuri used a Hindi slur for Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal in the presence of Union Minister Giriraj Singh. He even stood by his words later, saying: “I will say this again and again, I don't think I said anything wrong.”

In 2015, women MPs had complained against Bidhuri's “sexist and abusive language” in the Lok Sabha. Ranjeet Ranjan, Congress MP from Supaul in Bihar, had officially complained to the Speaker about his “abusive” language against her. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule, then Congress MP from Silchar Sushmita Dev, Trinamool Congress's Arpita Ghosh from Balurghat constituency and CPM's Kannur MP PK Shreemathi Teacher had accompanied Ranjan to the Speaker's room.

Each time, the BJP was caught off guard. But over the years, the party has learnt to live with his faux pas – each bigger than the last.

Ramesh Bidhuri hails from the Gurjar community, which is estimated to number around 1 crore 60 lakh across India. In poll-bound Rajasthan, they form around 5% of the population, scattered across 21 districts of the state where they can play a decisive role.

It's no surprise then that regardless of the current controversy that forced JP Nadda to issue a showcause notice, the BJP MP has been given the charge of ensuring a win in Gurjar-heavy Tonk, which is also Congress leader Sachin Pilot's home turf. Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh have questioned Bidhuri's appointment in the backdrop of the latest row.

BJP sources insist that the responsibility was given to Bidhuri before his controversial diatribe in Parliament and that the announcement happened to be made later. Insiders say it should not be seen as a ‘reward' as some in the Opposition have been alleging.

The Opposition, however, has countered that even if that were the case, the appointment could have been withdrawn.

The fact that the BJP hasn't done that shows what matters the most in electoral politics – Bidhuri is a vote catcher.

He enjoys the support of some senior BJP leaders. During the course of the last year, there have been at least two false alarms of a Union Cabinet expansion. “His name was lobbied for by more than one sitting minister. Yes, I know, it may come as a surprise to you, but he enjoys the backing of a few sitting Union Ministers,” said a BJP source.

In politics, one is either a natural crowd-puller like Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah, or one is an expert at building crowds for rallies. Bidhuri is said to be the latter. “He has his ways and means to get you the crowd,” said another BJP source. “During election season, Bidhuri's talent comes in handy for the party.”

And with Assembly elections in five states around the corner, to be followed by Lok Sabha elections next year, the BJP can ill-afford to bench Bidhuri.

Source: News18

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Kejriwal 'Welcomes' CBI Probe into Delhi CM Bungalow Renovation

Posted By: Pawan George Posted On: Sep 28, 2023

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resign if nothing comes of the CBI preliminary inquiry into the renovation of his bungalow. He said he “welcomes” the probe into alleged irregularities in the construction while asserting that “there is nothing wrong”.

The chief minister claimed that the CBI action shows that the prime minister is “nervous”. The central agency has registered a preliminary inquiry into alleged irregularities and misconduct by public servants of the Delhi government in connection with the construction of a new official residence for the CM.

“The prime minister is nervous. This shows his nervousness. The inquiry against me is nothing new. So far, inquiries have been conducted against me in more than 50 cases in the last eight years,” Kejriwal said.

He added: “It was said that Kejriwal committed scam in building schools, bus scam, liquor scam, road scam, water scam, electricity scam. I may have faced the maximum number of inquiries in the world. I welcome this new inquiry. Nothing was found in any case. Nothing will be found in this also. What will you get when there is nothing wrong?”

Earlier in the day, BJP MP Manoj Tiwari at a press conference said the CBI probe will disclose the facts related to the tendering process of the Delhi CM's residence.

Kejriwal took a dig at the PM, saying he plays the game of “inquiry-inquiry for 24 hours or keeps giving speeches”. “…Just keep playing the game of inquiry-inquiry for 24 hours, or keep giving speeches. Don't do any work. He wants me to bow down before him. But I am not going to bow down before them, even if they conduct as many fake inquiries as they want or file as many cases as they want,” he said.

He further said he is challenging Modi to resign if nothing is found in this inquiry as well. “I also challenge him – just as nothing was found in all the previous inquiries, similarly if nothing is found in this inquiry too, will he resign for making a false inquiry?” he asked.

(With PTI inputs)

Source: News18

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Maha Dy CM Ajit Pawar Appoints Sameer Bhujbal as Mumbai Chief of His Faction of NCP Updated 18 minutes ago

Posted By: Jogendra Kumar Posted On: Sep 27, 2023

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has appointed Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal, as the new chief of the Mumbai unit of his faction of the party.

While the fight over the “real NCP” – the one belonging to NCP supremo Sharad Pawar or Ajit Pawar – is pending in court, Ajit Pawar has made the appointment keeping the upcoming Mumbai civic elections in mind.

The NCP doesn't have a strong hold over Mumbai. Before the split in his party, this responsibility was given to leaders such as Sachin Ahir and Sanjay Patil, but none could make a mark in Mumbai.

At the time of the split, Nawab Malik was the head of the Mumbai unit. After Malik's arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged money laundering case, the post was vacant. When Malik came out on bail, he preferred to remain neutral instead of picking between Pawar senior and Ajit Pawar.

Sameer, meanwhile, is a former MP from Nashik, who learnt the politics from his uncle. He is in-charge of getting the party's maximum corporators elected to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

According to sources in the Ajit Pawar camp, the deputy CM has taken the local body elections, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), seriously and asked all leaders to start their work.

Source also revealed that Shivajirao Nalawade, a close aide of Chhagan Bhujbal, was interested in the post, but the inter-party protest led to Bhujbal being picked.

Sameer was arrested in 2015 in money laundering and siphoning off funds and causing a loss of Rs 840 crore loss to the government exchequer. The allegation against him was that he accepted the cash in lieu for awarding projects to the contractors and then further channelled it to organisations over whom his family and he had control. In 2018, he was released on bail by the Bombay high Court.

Chhagan Bhujbal used to contest the state assembly polls from Byculla, but after leaving the Shiv Sena, he defeated then Shiv Sena candidate Bala Nandgaonkar from the same constituency. He later started to contest from Yeola constituency in Nashik.

With Sameer as the Mumbai head of the NCP, it is being said that Chhagan Bhujbal may now be active in the city politics again.

Source: News18

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Uyghur Kids Separated from Parents

Posted By: Tarun Kumar Posted On: Sep 27, 2023

Uyghur children in China's Xinjiang province are being forcibly removed from their parents and sent to re-education camps styled as boarding schools where they are being raised as ‘orphans', Uyghur activists speaking to CNN-News18 said.

“Their parents are taken away to concentration camps and treated like prisoners. These kids are losing their identity and no one is talking to China except issuing statements,” a Uyghur activist said.

The Uyghur activist also noted that the United Nation expressed concern over the allegations of Xinjiang's state-run boarding school system where children are taught in Mandarin language and are being forced to adopt Han cultural practices.

“The UN statement is welcome but the UN is not clearly talking about concentration camps.

“We are deeply concerned that boarding schools in Xinjiang are teaching almost exclusively in the official language with little or no use of Uyghur as medium of instruction and that the separation of mainly Uyghur and other minority children from their families could lead to their forced assimilation into the majority Mandarin language and the adoption of Han cultural practices,” the UN experts said this week.

They flagged that forced separations and language policies for Uyghur children carry risk of forced assimilation. They pointed out that the discriminatory nature of the policy and the violation of minorities' right to education without discrimination, family life and cultural rights will adversely impact the growth of these children.

UN experts found out this week about large-scale removal of children, mainly Uyghur, from their families this week. Among those children, some of them were very young. The parents of these younger children are in exile or “interned”/detained.

These children are placed in full-time boarding schools, pre-schools, or orphanages where the medium of instruction is almost exclusively Mandarin.

“Uyghur and other minority children in highly regulated and controlled boarding institutions may have little interaction with their parents, extended family or communities for much of their youth,” the experts said

“This will inevitably lead to a loss of connection with their families and communities and undermine their ties to their cultural, religious and linguistic identities,” they further added.

The report also revealed that these children placed in these schools have little or no access to education in the Uyghur language. They face pressure to speak and learn only Mandarin as opposed to achieving bilingualism in both Uyghur and Mandarin. Teachers who may inadvertently use Mandarin as a medium of instruction are also sanctioned for using the language outside of specific language classes.

Source: News18

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Cong backed women's reservation bill under pressure

Posted By: Jogendra Kumar Posted On: Sep 25, 2023
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering during the 'Parivartan Sankalp Mahasabha', in Jaipur, Monday (PTI)

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached poll bound Rajasthan on Monday. PM Modi was welcomed by the BJP Mahila Morcha cadre at the venue of a BJP rally, days after Parliament passed the women's reservation bill.

PM Modi reached the meeting venue in Dadiya village in Vatika on the outskirts of Jaipur from a nearby helipad in an open-top vehicle escorted by activists of the BJP's women wing who raised slogans in his support.

Addressing ‘Parivartan Sankalp Mahasabha', PM Modi referred to the Parliament passing the Women's Reservation Bill and said it was done because of the support of people to the BJP exercised through voting.

"The people of Rajasthan have sounded the bugle against the bad governance of Congress. Congress deserves to get zero marks for the way they ran the government here. The people of Rajasthan have decided to remove the Gehlot government and bring back BJP," he said.

The "Parivartan Sankalp Mahasabha" marked the culmination of four 'Parivartan Yatras' that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took out in the poll-bound state. Assembly elections in Rajasthan are due later this year.

Assembly elections are scheduled to be held in Rajasthan in the next few months.

The women's reservation bill which seeks to reserve a third of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women was passed by Parliament last week.

The Prime Minister reached Jaipur after addressing a rally in Bhopal. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are among five states which will go to the polls later this year.

Before addressing the gathering in Jaipur, PM Modi paid floral tributes to BJP ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay on his birth anniversary.

In 2018 the Congress won 99 seats while the BJP won 73 seats in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly. The Congress led by Ashok Gehlot formed the government with the support of independents and the BSP.

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Top points from PM Modi's rally in Jaipur

-Ashok Gehlot government wasted five important years of Rajasthan's youth

-Congress backed women's reservation bill now under pressure from women, PM Modi said at Jaipur rally.

-It was never Congress' intention to empower women, else it could have passed women's reservation bill during its rule

-Congress deserves zero marks for the government it ran in Rajasthan for five years

-People of Rajasthan have sounded the bugle for getting rid of Congress govt for its misrule

-Congress government in Rajasthan patronizes mafia leaking recruitment exam papers, when BJP forms government, strictest action will be taken: PM Modi assured

-Congress and its 'ghamandiya' partners are staunch opponents of women's reservation, PM Modi attacked the opposition INDIA bloc at Jaipur rally.

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With 3 New Vande Bharats

Posted By: Vanshika Pathak Posted On: Sep 25, 2023

The Southern Railways is now home to the highest number of Vande Bharat trains — despite standing fourth in terms of route kilometres — after Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off nine semi-high speed trains on Sunday.

At present, there are 34 trains operating across the zones in Indian Railways. The northern zone, which has the largest route kilometres, is second in terms of Vande Bharat with four dedicated trains, Railway Ministry data shows.

Further, Western and North Western zones, that are next in line at second and third position route kilometres respectively, have three Vande Bharat each. The Central Railways also operates three Vande Bharats.

At least five zones have two Vande Bharat each — East Central Railway (ECR), South Central Railway (SCR), West Central Railway (WCR), South Eastern Railway (SER) and East Coast Railway (ECoR). South Western Railway (SWR), Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), North Eastern Railway (NER), South East Central Railway (SECR) and Eastern Railway are operating one Vande Bharat each.

Of the six Vande Bharat Express trains for the Southern Zone, four are from Chennai for Tirunelveli, Coimbatore, Mysuru and Vijayawada. The other two Vande Bharat trains are operational in Kerala between Kasaragod and Thiruvananthapuram.

The four Vande Bharats allocated to the Northern Zone operate from Delhi for Dehradun, Amb Andaura, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra and Varanasi. Two more trains are operational from Delhi — one for Ajmer (operated by NWR) and the other for Bhopal (WCR-managed). Delhi is the only city that has six dedicated Vande Bharat trains.

The WCR operates two Vande Bharat trains. Apart from Delhi-Bhopal, it also manages Bhopal-Jabalpur Vande Bharat. The NWR, which operated Delhi-Ajmer Vande Bharat, also runs two more trains — Jodhpur-Sabarmati and Udaipur-Jaipur Vande Bharat.

Apart from Chennai, two more cities that have four dedicated Vande Bharat trains — Howrah and Mumbai.

The Central Railways operates three Vande Bharat trains and all are from Mumbai — for Madgaon, Sainagar Shirdi and Solapur. Another Vande Bharat running between Mumbai and Gandhinagar in Gujarat is operated by Western Railways. The Western zone also operates the Ahmedabad-Jamnagar and Indore-Bhopal Vande Bharats.

There are four trains from Howrah operated by three different zones. SER operates two Vande Bharat trains and both of these are from Howrah — one for Puri and another for Ranchi. Further, the Patna-Howrah train is operated by ECR, while the eastern zone operates the Howrah-New Jalpaiguri Vande Bharat. Another train operated by the ECR is between Patna and Ranchi.

The newly inaugurated Hyderabad-Bengaluru Vande Bharat is operated by the South Central Railway, along with the Secunderabad-Tirupati train.

Another Vande Bharat originating from Secunderabad is for Visakhapatnam. It is managed by the East Coast Railway, along with the newly inaugurated Rourkela-Puri Vande Bharat.

Among the zones that operate just one Vande Bhart trains are NER (Gorakhpur-Lucknow); NFR (New Jalpaiguri-Guwahati); SECR (Bilaspur-Nagpur); and SWR (Bangalore-Dharwad).

So far, in this financial year, a total of 24 Vande Bharat trains have been inaugurated.

Source: News18

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Gowdas on Board

Posted By: Preeti Dabar Posted On: Sep 23, 2023

A few minutes after JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy met the top BJP leadership in New Delhi to cement a deal with them for the next Lok Sabha elections, someone in Karnataka joked that JDS should change its name to JDC or Janata Dal “Communal”.

Jokes apart, it was a serious statement, given that the JDS — the family party of the Gowda clan — had been questioning BJP's “secular” credentials describing it as a “communal” party till the assembly elections in May in which JDS suffered the most humiliating defeat. The BJP had maintained a distance from the JDS after the disastrous 20:20 experiment of 2006-07, calling it the most dangerous party.

After that short-lived marriage of “communal” and “secular”, both the parties had drifted apart, often attacking each other's political positions. The Congress, which had formed a coalition with HDK as chief minister after its defeat in the 2018 elections, used to attack JDS, calling it the B team of BJP.

During the recent assembly elections, the Congress leadership in the state often attacked the JDS, alleging a secret pact with BJP to defeat the Grand Old Party. In that most-important election, both suffered a humiliating loss and the result has brought them together to fight the ruling Congress.

Even though BJP and JDS made their alliance public on Friday, people of Karnataka were aware of the parties planning to forge a tie-up at least two months ago.

During the Monsoon session of the Assembly, it was HDK who led the attack on Congress government, relegating main opposition BJP to second place. A leaderless and rudderless BJP in the state had to swallow its pride and allow JDS to dictate terms.

With the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka successfully engineering a political realignment and pushing JDS to the brink, the alarmed Gowda clan has embraced BJP for its political survival.

Party patriarch and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda is 92 and not keeping well. Family members fear that in a post-Gowda scenario, JDS may not even survive. To safeguard their personal interests, they have hammered out an arrangement with the BJP. Some feel it is the first, big step towards JDS merger with the BJP in near future.

The BJP in Karnataka is yet to come out of the shock of defeat and the party bosses in New Delhi know that the local leadership won't be able to revive the prospects of the saffron brigade on its own and getting the Gowdas on their side would be useful to mount a strong challenge to Congress in the old Mysore region where the BJP was wiped out in the May assembly elections.

The BJP ruled Karnataka twice since 2008. However, it never got majority on its own because of its inability to breach the Vokkaliga fortress of old Mysore region. Vokkaligas or Gowdas dominate about six districts in this agri-rich region.

KPCC president and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar is also a Vokkaliga and is being seen as a replacement for the Gowda clan. In the May assembly elections, DKS decimated the JDS and Congress literally swept the Vokkaliga heartland. The BJP, which polled about 8 per cent more votes in the region, failed to translate them into seats. BJP's higher vote share finished JDS, indirectly helping the Congress.

Since they have over 50 per cent vote share together, the alliance looks formidable on paper. But two plus two is not always equal to four in politics and can lead to yet another political realignment of power.

Two dominant upper castes — Lingayats and Vokkaligas — have a long history of mutual distrust and are wary of each other. Post 1972, they came together to vote against their common enemy Congress only twice — backing the Janata Party and Dal. After the disintegration of the Janata Pariwar, Lingayats moved to the BJP and their caste man BS Yediyurappa became their leader. The Gowda caste moved with Deve Gowda's JDS.

The Congress has managed to get a good chunk of both Lingayat and Vokkaliga votes in the last assembly elections. But it is still a party of AHINDA or Minorities, OBCs, SC/STs.

The JDS and BJP alliance might lead to a clash of upper castes and AHINDA once again in the state.

The Lingayats are upset with the BJP for trying to shake off their support and make it a multi-caste party. Given their antipathy towards the Gowda clan, they may not back the HDK-led alliance, fearing a takeover of the party by their sworn enemy.

The Vokkaliga also have their own fears. Some of them feel that backing the alliance might lead to Brahmin-Lingayat hegemony, which they detest.

Even in the state BJP, both Lingayat and Vokkaliga leaders are not enthusiastic about shaking hands with the Gowdas. The past experiences have made them bitter. The Yediyurappa faction also fears an eventual takeover of the party by the Gowdas. The Vokkaliga leaders of the BJP fear Gowdas might eclipse them completely, ending their careers.

Outside 6-8 districts of the Old Mysore region, the JDS has almost no base in the rest of Karnataka. The alliance won't be of much use there.

The ruling Congress claims the alliance won't be able to defeat it. Leaders, including Siddaramaiah, argue that it will collapse post the parliamentary elections.

However, they are cautious internally and fear that a big regrouping of the Gowda caste behind JDS might actually help the BJP. The severe drought and no water in the river Cauvery might also work against the ruling Congress.

Top leadership of the party, including Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, have held a detailed discussion on the possible consequences of the alliance.

By joining hands with the BJP, the JDS has signalled a complete break from its “secular” politics and the baton of the party has been handed over to HDK and his son Nikhil Kumaraswamy, with Deve Gowda walking into the sunset.

The outcome of the Lok Sabha elections will determine the future of the alliance which, for now, looks formidable on paper.

The JDS, however, is known for its sudden political U-turns and only time will tell if there are any new turns or the alliance will last for some time.

Source: News18

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India-Canada row

Posted By: Jogendra Kumar Posted On: Sep 23, 2023
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (AP)

Canada is set to go into elections in the years 2025. While incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seeks to return to governance for a third straight term, his popularity seems to have taken a hit, giving way to Conservative Right wing opposition candidate Pierre Poilievre.

PM Trudeau's handling of the killing of Khalistan extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar seems to indicate a subtle dissociation from a right-wing leader in order to propel his static year-over-year at 31 per cent popularity as best choice for Prime Minister candidate.

The need to move away, rather severe ties with right wing ideologies seems like an opportune moment for an unfazed PM Trudeau.

Notably, Canada houses the second highest Sikh Population in the world, after India. Currently, Canada has a Sikh population of more than 770,000, or about 2% of its total population. Discontent has long simmered between Canada and India over Sikh separatism, a movement that has had a bloody history.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's ally is NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is a Khalistan sympathiser. According to the recent poll, Singh's popularity has slipped four points since September 2022, with 22 per cent of respondents saying he's the best choice to lead the government.

Currently, the minority Liberals have a supply and confidence agreement with the NDP. That party has agreed to support the government on confidence matters until the next scheduled election in fall 2025.

In exchange, the Liberals agreed to advance key NDP priorities like dentalcare and pharmacare, with legislation expected on the latter by the end of the year.

However, 53 per cent of respondents say it's time for the NDP to stop supporting the Liberals and trigger an election. The remainder believe the NDP should continue supporting the government and not force an election, Global News reported citing the Ipsos poll.

Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's polling momentum continues to chug along with 40 per cent of Canadians saying he's the best choice to be prime minister, according to a new Ipsos poll done exclusively for Global News.

While Poilievre's popularity had the potential to be downtrodden as the opposition who only opposes, as opposed to bringing forth a policy proposal of his own, Trudeau's popularity instead took the hit, hinting at the fact that his attempt to distance himself from a right wing leader might have backfired on him.

Regionally, Poilievre's favourables top the list in every province and region except for Quebec. The territories were not included in this poll, Global News reported.

The poll shows Poilievre has pulled ahead as preferred PM in Ontario at 42 per cent, compared to Trudeau's 38%.

Notably, on the ongoing diplomatic stand-off between India and Canada triggered by Justin Trudeau's allegations of India's involvement in the killing of the Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Poilievre had stated that the Canadian PM should come out “clean with all the facts".

Further, Trudeau in the initial days of his career as the Prime Minister of Canada maintained an apologetic stance for the followers of Sikh religion. He had in 2016, apologised for the incident of Komagata Maru.

The Komagata Maru incident saw a group of people from British India attempting to immigrate to Canada in April 1914, but most were denied entry and forced to return to Budge Budge, Calcutta (present-day Kolkata).

There, the Indian Imperial Police attempted to arrest the group leaders. A riot ensued, and they were fired upon by the police, resulting in the deaths of 22 people.

The passengers on board included 337 Sikhs, 27 Muslims and 12 Hindus, all Punjabis and British subjects. Of these 376 passengers, 24 were admitted to Canada, but the other 352 were not allowed to disembark in Canada, and the ship was forced to leave Canadian waters.

On 18 May, 2016, PM Trudeau issued an apology on behalf of the Canadian government which made international news.

Trudeau, ahead of the 2025 Canadian elections faces several questions and dissatisfied citizen over rising cost of living, access to housing and inflation.

Therefore it certainly, brings into question if an apology, an alliance later, if PM Trudeau will choose to vehemently condemn the Khalistani extremism in his country, or will he maintain his stance to ‘defend freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and freedom of peaceful protest and it is extremely important to us.. at the same time we are always there to prevent violence and to push back against hatred'.

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Source: Live Mint

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