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BJP has wounded India’s soul by unleashing intolerance and hatred: Tharoor

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Mumbai: Congress MP and former Union minister Shashi Tharoor accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “wounding” India’s soul by “unleashing forces of intolerance, hatred and bigotry”. Such a climate did not prevail in the past, he said during an interaction organised here by the All India Professionals Congress (APIC), of which he is the chairman.

Referring to the barbaric rape-and-murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, Tharoor said it was inexcusable to defend the perpetrators of the ghastly crime which has caused a national outrage.

“This is done in the name of religion. No one is saying the BJP or the government run by the party is directly responsible for this. But, it has unleashed forces of intolerance, hatred and bigotry.

 

“If they had mismanaged the economy, at least they should have protected the social fabric. But, they have wounded India’s soul,” the parliamentarian-author said.

Tharoor lashed out at the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, accusing it of indulging more in marketing and PR exercise rather than doing actual work on the ground. “Even in case of foreign policy, the government wanted to take political credit without doing anything.

“Such things may work in domestic politics but not in the foreign policy arena,” said the former UN diplomat, referring to the 2016 surgical strikes across the LoC and last year’s Doklam standoff with China.

Tharoor rejected suggestions that the Congress was engaging in “soft Hindutva” as reflected in party chief Rahul Gandhi’s temple visits during election campaigns. “It is not soft Hindutva, but an attempt to neutralise the BJP’s argument that they alone represent Hindus,” said the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram.

Hindutva is a political ideology of the BJP which has nothing to do with religion, he said. “Sadly, this ideology is growing in the last four years and people are getting attracted to the language and rhetoric of its proponents.”

Tharoor said the need of the hour is to strengthen democracy as there had been a “sustained attack” on the media, judiciary and bureaucracy.

Speaking of the Congress, which bagged its lowest ever seat tally in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and also faced election defeat in some states, he said the party would rebuild itself. “We are a party with conscience. We want to see businesses grow.”

Asked about the party’s internal elections and primaries to select candidates, Tharoor said Congress workers feel such polls encourage factionalism. “They say they would abide by selections of the party central leadership.”

Congress leader Milind Deora, who was also present at the interaction, admitted the party had failed to communicate with people.

“We are correcting mistakes of the past. Our narrative will be clear and lucid. But, the BJP is more of PR and less of action.

“The 2G scam was a case study in our failure to communicate that the (Congress-led UPA) government had not auctioned spectrum because it wanted to increase tele-density in rural areas,” said the former Union Minister of State for Information Technology and Communications.

He said the demonetisation exercise was carried out by the Modi government without any consultations.

“This shows the centralised approach of this government which was not the case with the UPA,” said the former Lok Sabha MP.


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National

‘Mahagathbandhan’ club of ‘nawabs of negativity’: Jaitley

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Mumbai: The opposition “mahagathbandhan” (grand alliance) is a club of “nawabs of negativity” and the only glue of this diverse grouping is its opposition to one man (Narendra Modi), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

People of an aspirational society which is politically conscious will not buy into this “suicidal” alternative, the senior BJP leader said.

“The nawabs of negativity may come together but that is not something that will carry credibility as far as people are concerned,” Jaitley said, speaking via video link at the CNBC-TV18 India Business Leadership Awards event. During the video call, Jaitley also spoke about the Union Budget.

 

This was the first time Jaitley, now in the US for medical treatment, addressed a gathering since leaving the country on Tuesday.

The setback the ruling BJP suffered in Assembly elections in three heartland states recently (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan) has enthused some opposition leaders about the likely electoral success of such an alternative.

The “mahagathbandhan” has neither the ideological cohesiveness nor a common programme aimed at building the country or an individual leader, Jaitley said.

As against the BJP’s strengths of leadership, decisiveness, performance and potential, the point being put forward by the opposition is of arithmetic, Jaitley highlighted.

In politics, it is not the arithmetic but chemistry which succeeds, he added.

“The premise is that we have politics which is negative in character and the negative politics is we want one man (Narendra Modi) out. On that negativity of wanting one man out, they (Opposition) have come together,” Jaitley said.

Arun Jaitley also said there is a need to elevate the political debate in the run up to the elections and stressed that we cannot afford a “sloganised political debate” where emotional cries take over sound policy.

Without mentioning the promise of farm loan waivers, which the opposition Congress is pitching for, the minister said “sloganised policies” never help the larger interest of the economy and it is the country’s aspirations which will receive a setback in the process.

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Govt compromising national security, why 36 Rafale jets instead of 126: Chidambaram

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New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday accused the government of compromising national security and asked why it bought only 36 Rafale fighter jets instead of 126 required by the Air Force.

His comments come in the wake of fresh revelations on the Rafale deal in a media report which claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to but 36 aircraft instead of the 126 asked for by the Air Force pushed the price of each jet up by 41.42 per cent.

“In the light of new facts and revelations in THE HINDU, the question gains greater urgency: why did the government buy only 36 Rafale aircraft instead of 126 aircraft required by the Air Force?,” Chidambaram asked in a tweet.

 

“The Government has compromised national security by denying to the Air Force the 7 squadrons (126 aircraft) that it desperately needs,” he said.

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia also took to Twitter to demand answers from Modi on the increased cost of aircraft. “The PM’s unilateral decision to buy 36 Rafales resulted in a price escalation of 41.42 per cent per jet. When will the prime minister answer? he asked.

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No war, but soldiers are dying on borders: Bhagwat

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Nagpur: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said requisite steps need to combat killings on the border, as soldiers are being martyred sans a war-like situation in the country.

“In our country, there is no war at the moment, still people (soldiers) are getting martyred…Because we are not doing our jobs properly. We need to make efforts in this regard. If we want our country to reach the top, then we all should learn to sacrifice,” he said at a gathering here on Thursday.

Furthermore, Bhagwat said the responsibility of safeguarding the country should not be solely shouldered by the Forces.

 

“Everybody has to make efforts in this regard. This is not something for which we can give a contract to somebody. We keep thinking that the government will do it or the army will do it, the police will do it, but it’s not like that, the entire society has to make efforts,” he opined.

Citing the example of Israel, Bhagwat noted: “If one looks closely, after 70 long years, those countries in comparison with India have done better in terms of growth and development. Israel is a classic example. The natives were weed out before the 19 c. But citizens there gradually came back to their country and started their businesses, trade etc. Finally, in 1948 they got independence.”

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