New Delhi: In remarks that are bound to raise eyebrows, former BJP president L.K. Advani said Thursday that people were not happy with the UPA government but were upset with his own party too.
On a day when the BJP called for an all-India strike against the fuel price hike, Advani noted in his blog that the mood in the country’s main opposition party was not upbeat.
The Bharatiya Janata Party did not react to Advani’s remarks. “The mood within the party these days is not upbeat. The results in Uttar Pradesh, the manner in which the party welcomed BSP ministers who were removed by Mayawati on charges of corruption, the party’s handling of Jharkhand and Karnataka – all these have undermined the party’s campaign against corruption,” Advani said.
He was referring to three events in which party president Nitin Gadkari is believed to have played a key role. The first was on letting BSP’s tainted Baburam Kushwaha of Uttar Pradesh into the BJP, causing anger in BJP ranks.
In Jharkhand, Gadkari backed businessman Anshuman Mishra’s candidature for a Rajya Sabha seat before protests within forced Mishra to back off. In Karnataka, Gadkari is said to be supporting former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, whose equations with Advani are poor.
Reiterating that the BJP needs to introspect, Advani said journalists voiced “public opinion correctly” when they said the BJP-led alliance was not rising to the national situation. “I, as a former pressman, feel they are reflecting public opinion correctly. I had said at the core group meeting that if people are today angry with the UPA government, they are also disappointed with us,” Advani said. “The situation, I said, calls for introspection.”
The comments come soon after he kept away from a public rally after the BJP national executive meet in Mumbai. According to party sources, Advani is upset that Gadkari takes decisions unilaterally.
The BJP had then refuted speculation that Advani was unhappy that Gadkari had got another term as president and that he had not been portrayed as the prime ministerial candidate.
BJP Prakash Javadekar declined to react to Advani’s blog. Even as he spoke about “bad governance” by the UPA, he made a quick exit when he was asked about rifts in the BJP leadership.
Fishing in troubled waters, Congress leader Digvijay Singh meanwhile hit out at Gadkari, saying he was more of a businessman. “Gadkari has never won an election, he is more of a businessman than politician. This is reflected in his dealing of all matters.”
Advani added that the BJP rule in many states and the “excellent” leadership provided in parliament by Sushma Swaraj as well as Arun Jaitley “is no compensation for the lapses committed”.
One of the founders of BJP’s predecessor Bharatiya Jana Sangh and among India’s better known parliamentarians, Advani led the party from strength to strength in the 1980s and 90s.
But it was his long-time companion Atal Bihari Vajpayee who became prime minister when the BJP took power in 1996 briefly and again from 1998 until 2004.
Advani was then the home minister and later deputy prime minister. The BJP portrayed him as prime ministerial candidate vis-a-vis Manmohan Singh in 2009 but lost the Lok Sabha battle.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.
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