Paswan Breaks Laxman Rekha Between Secularists And BJP
Ramvilas Paswan, a veteran in playing mouse and rate game, has shocked the so-called secularists. The consequences of his making alliance with BJP and thus violating the ‘secular code’ would be far-reaching. Paswan’s son justified saying once cleared by the apex court, Modi was no longer an untouchable. Thus after some dilly-dallying he returned to the NDA fold. He was part of the NDA and a minister under Vajpayee. He was supposed to be with Lalu Yadav, his old ally and Congress because it was aligned with RJD. But while he was negotiating on a number of seats with Lalu, he was reported to have met Modi. When the talks with Lalu were faltering, Nitish Kumar tried to rope him in. But he failed and these pseudo-secularists are shaking both with anger and fright.
It is unclear so far whether Paswan’s LJD would contest from seven seats from seats presently not held by BJP. Most probably, LJD candidates would fight from seven seats which are not with BJP. Since Dalits are with Paswan, BJP expects an extra three or four per cent added to its base that includes upper castes and some middle-classes. This would help defeat Nitish more decisively.
Paswan must have opted for BJP, seeing the wave for Modi in the state. Success of either Congrees-RJD combine and of JD(U) is very uncertain. After drawing blank in 2009 general elections, Paswan must have been keen to tie up with BJP, which could secure some seats to him and thus break the voodoo. This alliance would embarrass those like LK Advani, who opposed the appointment of Modi as Chairman, Election Campaign Committee, which paved the way for him to be chosen the prime minister nominee.
The other benefit to BJP would be that Paswan has opened the door for other parties to ally with it. A few days ago, Prafulla Mohanta of Asom Gana Parishad said he did not have any objection to tie up with BJP. He along with Naveen Patnaik of BJD did not attend the 11-party meet in Delhi to form a Third Front. They are, it is speculated, might enter into some arrangement with the BJP. In Tamil Nadu, the BJP could stitch up an alliance with smaller parties like PMK, DMDK besides MDMK, whose leader Vaiko is already in the NDA. This would help BJP open its score in the state. In Kerala, it is said that the Church and Nairs would support BJP this time. Modi’s massive rallies there are expected to allure many OBCs. This means the BJP could get a seat or two, according to analysts.
A Union Minister-Owned Company Debarred By World Bank
The World Bank has debarred Progressive Constructions Limited (PCL), founded by Union Minister and Congress leader K Sambasiva Rao, for a minimum of eleven years for violating its ‘fraud and corruption policy’. The bank said that the debarment would apply to all legal entities directly or indirectly controlled by PCL and the ineligibility period began from November 26, 2013. Calls made to the company for their comments did not elicit any reply, while phone calls and messages sent to Rao and his office in New Delhi also remained unanswered. The Hyderabad-based company has faced this sanction for violation of the ‘Procurement Guidelines’ applicable to the World Bank-financed projects.
“The period of ineligibility of Progressive Constructions Limited extends to any legal entity that it directly or indirectly controls,” the bank said, but did not specify the details of the projects or contracts concerned, as also the specific details of the violations. While the bank has not named any promoters or top officials of the debarred company, PCL’s website shows Rao, currently Textiles Minister in the Union Cabinet, set up Progressive Engineering Company as a partnership firm in 1966. With expansion into other areas, this company was transformed into a Private and a Limited Liability entity in 1982, resulting into creation of Progressive Constructions Limited. Currently, PCL is headed by Srivani Mullapudi, its Managing Director, and it is engaged in infrastructure building for sectors like irrigation, power, rail, transport, housing and industrial establishments.
“The minimum period of ineligibility is the eleven-year period,” the World Bank said. It added that the company can be released from this ineligibility after the end of eleven years, “only if it has demonstrated to the World Bank Group’s Integrity Compliance Officer that it has complied with” certain conditions. These conditions include the company, having taken appropriate remedial measures to address the sanctionable practice for which it has been sanctioned, has put in place an effective integrity compliance programme acceptable to the World Bank and has implemented this programme in a manner satisfactory to the Bank.
In the past, the World Bank has blacklisted several Indian companies on similar grounds, while about a dozen of them are still under ineligibility period. Those having faced action in the past include Satyam, Wipro, Videocon and L&T.
Favourable View Of Modi Going Up By ‘Jupiter’ Speed
The winds of change have been sweeping across India ever since Narendra Modi started his whirlwind travelling addressing hugely crowded rallies. According to a survey by Pew Research Centre seven out of ten are disappointed with the current political and general situation. They want drastic changes. And as in the previous surveys Modi emerged most popular and favoured by three to one. Another survey said 78 per cent people have good opinion of Modi; Rahul Gandhi is second–43 per cent do not have good opinion and 50 per cent are favourably inclined towards him.
Over 63 per cent would want the BJP to lead the next government while 19 per cent would choose Congress government. A survey found that the support for BJP is constant among all age groups and covers both rural and urban areas.
Most senior leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are reportedly complacent sitting on the bandwagon of Narendra Modi, sure that he would drive them to victory. Such members are the worst offenders, who would adversely affect Modi’s objective to cross the magic figure of 272 in the Lok Sabha. According to insiders, a leader who alternatively got important portfolios and another who shouldered ministry vital for the Vajpayee government’s goodwill in the masses are some of the party seniors who are comfortable giving interviews and appearing on TV rather than sweat campaigning. Many others were also accused of complacency.
A newcomer to politics and joined BJP lamented that he was alarmed and felt jittery seeing the overall air of complacency in the party. Everyone seems to believe that the party would get anywhere between 250 and 306. They possibly base their optimism on the frenetic campaigning by Modi across the country with an astonishing stamina. In one day, he addressed rallies in Guwahati, Tripura and Chennai. The following day he as scheduled addressed rallies in three different cities. He is still to address over 170 meetings. Such extensive campaigning while learning about local history and issues in each city he goes means he sleeps very little. For in-between he meets quite a few potential candidates and attends meetings with local units.
Such campaigning needs dedication, single-minded drive towards achieving majority on its own for BJP, stamina and clarity of mind to retain local details of the places where he addresses mammoth gatherings. The party President Rajnath Singh is also going round all states while attending to important party affairs, meeting party leaders in different states and overseeing alignments with other parties. He is also as blunt, brusque and candid as any leader from rival parties. Between him and Modi the credibility of the party and mass-scale popularity has been generated, the dividends for it would be seen in number of voters who choose BJP. It is unfortunate that other party leaders, most of them being keen to become MPs and possibly ministers, do not get enthused seeing how Modi and Singh are scrambling across the length and breadth of India.
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