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In 2015, Modi must resolve inner contradictions




By Amulya Ganguli

The year ended by confirming the BJP’s upward mobility when the alliance led by it secured a majority in the Jharkhand assembly and the party put up its best ever show in Jammu and Kashmir. But there is a hint in both the elections that the party’s ascent may not continue to be as smooth and effortless in 2015 as it has been in 2014.

In Jharkhand, for instance, the BJP could cross the half-way mark in the 81-member legislature only with the help of its ally, the All Jharkhand Students Union, which added five seats to the BJP’s tally of 37, which was way down from the 58 assembly segments which the BJP won in the general election six months ago.

What is more, the BJP’s victory rath (chariot) came to a halt outside the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley, showing that it is only the party’s vote bank of the Hindus of Jammu who supported it while the Muslims gave it a wide berth since the BJP could secure only 2.2 percent of the votes in the valley.

The reason for the rebuff by the minorities is clear enough. They have been angered and disheartened by the aggressive anti-Muslim and anti-Christian campaigns of the Hindu supremacist RSS and its rabid affiliates like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal.

These fundamentalist outfits have seen the BJP’s rise to power at the centre as the most opportune time to push their fascistic idea of converting secular India into a theocratic Hindu rashtra (nation). There is little doubt that if Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unable to rein in these members of the Hindutva Gestapo, then his memorable and unexpected victory in the general election will begin to unravel.

It is worth recalling that the BJP’s success in May was the culmination of a series of political victories which saw the party win assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and emerge as the first party in Delhi at the end of 2013.

While the BJP’s success story can be said to be continuing, its main adversary, the Congress, is going steadily downhill and has now reached a stage when its revival seems to be nearly impossible. The reason is its inept leadership, comprising the mother-and-son duo of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, both of whom palpably lack political charisma (which used to be the Nehru-Gandhi family’s forte), intellectual acuity and an economic vision in sync with the modern world which has lost patience with socialism, which the Gandhis seem to prefer.

As a result, the Congress has lost virtually all the major elections for more than a year while the BJP has forged ahead. Only in several by-elections, notably in Rajasthan and, surprisingly, in Gujarat has the Congress fared well but they have been too few and far between to rejuvenate the party.

In contrast, Modi has all the requisites of a winner – charisma, oratorical skill, a forward-looking economic agenda and administrative acumen with a hands-on approach. But his Achilles heel is the RSS, VHP and other Hindu militant groups like the Dharma Jagran Samiti, which has been organising the proselytizing ‘ghar wapas’ (homecoming) campaigns to woo the minorities back into the Hindu fold.

It is not that Modi is unaware of what’s hobbling him. But, in a way, he is helpless because having spent all his life in the fundamentalist environment of the RSS shakhas and among its karyakartas (workers) – Modi himself was once a pracharak (preacher) – it must be now very difficult for him to turn against them even if he knows that they are harming his development plans.

Although he has partially succeeded in taming the hardliners by persuading them to put off the issue of constructing the Ram temple by a year in keeping with his Independence Day call for a moratorium on sectarian animosity, he doesn’t seem to have reckoned with the penchant of the extremists to conceive of one divisive idea after another – love jehad, ghar wapsi, bahu lao-beti bachao and so on.

The last-named campaign is the obverse of the love jehad programme. While the latter warns Hindu girls against being trapped by Muslim boys into marriage, the bahu lao-beti bachao slogan advises Hindu boys to marry Muslim girls while saving their own sisters.

As a result of the xenophobia propagated by the votaries of Hindutva with claims that India exploded an atomic bomb in prehistoric times, as was stated by Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, MP, and invented plastic surgery – an assertion made by Modi himself – India is passing through a surreal atmosphere where a pro-market economy reflected by the glittering malls and multiplexes is coexisting with articulations redolent of an unscientific and unsophisticated worldview.

This contrast is also evident in the government-forming negotiations between the BJP and Muslim-majority parties of the Kashmir valley like the People’s Democratic Party and the National Conference, which the saffron hawks regard as pro-separatist and, therefore, anti-national.

Unless Modi can resolve these contradictions between a 21st century government and the Hindutva radicals by coming down heavily on the latter and resolutely pursuing economic reforms, the earlier optimism associated with him will disappear.

The gainer from any such inability will be the Congress and the other opposition parties whose stalling of parliament over the antics of the saffron activists has compelled Modi to take the ordinance route to pass crucial pro-reforms laws. But such bulldozing tactics are a sign of the prime minister’s, and the democratic system’s, failure.

If Modi nevertheless opted for them, it is to divert attention from the antics of the Hindutva fanatics. He will have to pursue the economic reforms – the road to middle class hearts – even more energetically if the BJP fails to stave off the Aam Admi Party’s (AAP) challenge in the Delhi elections which are likely to be held in February.

In 2013, the BJP came first in Delhi. But coming first will not do this time, for it will show that the Modi wave is petering out. Even securing a majority may not satisfy the BJP top brass if the AAP comes anywhere near the 28 seats it won last time. In that case, Modi will have to confront the saffron brigade head-on in a face-off reminiscent of Hitler’s night of the knives.

Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs



Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality



Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?



The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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