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Why hope in Uttar Pradesh based on only Dalits, Muslims could be maya

By indian express On December - 30 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

As electoral combinations are discussed ahead of Assembly elections in UP, it is sometimes believed that a solid Dalit base and likely Muslim support — adding up to 40% of the vote — can put the BSP in the driver’s seat. It is assumed that Muslims, upset after a series of communal incidents, would move away from the ruling SP. Results of past elections, however, show that not only has Mayawati’s Dalit vote shrunk, she has found the going difficult without support from other — read upper — castes.

The Shrinking Dalit Vote

Of the 19 seats the BSP won in UP in the Lok Sabha elections of 2004, just 5 were SC seats — fewer than a third of the total 17 SC seats. In 2009, the year the BSP recorded its highest tally of 20 in UP, its share of the SC seats ironically fell further — to just 2. By contrast, 10 of the 22 seats that the SP won in that election were SC seats. In the next Lok Sabha election, 2014, Mayawati polled nearly 20% votes but got zero seats.

In the 2012 Assembly polls, the BSP got 25.9% votes, not far behind SP’s 29.13%. But it could win only 15 of the 85 reserved constituencies, as the SP swept up 58 seats in the core Dalit belt.

The BSP’s electoral heft is not in question. In 2009, it was second at 47 seats, losing several by margins of less than 5,000, as it fought a direct contest in 67 — over 85% — of the 80 seats. But obviously, it wasn’t just the Dalit vote that powered the party.

Had it been so, the BSP wouldn’t have gradually disappeared from the SC seats. And it does seem odd, for instance, that Agra, which has among the highest concentrations of Dalits in the country, has never had a BSP MP.

Successive polls have seen Mayawati lose a portion of both the Jatav and non-Jatav vote to the SP and BJP. More than any other party, the BSP needs other communities. This is precisely why Dalits are never given the BSP ticket except in the reserved seats.

The Brahmin Factor

“Ek Brahmin apne saath saat chhoti jaati lekar aata hai (One Brahmin brings along 7 lower castes),” a former BSP MP, now with the BJP, underlines the nature of caste in UP, and the significance of the Brahmin vote. It is less than 10%, spread across the state, and rarely goes to any party en masse. It has few leaders, is rarely wooed as middle and lower castes are, but has considerable influence over local sentiments. The BSP was quick to recognise its importance — backed by the realisation that while Jatavs have had a long history of violent conflict with Thakurs, Jats, Yadavs and even Muslims, they’ve perhaps never clashed with Brahmins. Rajya Sabha MP Satish Chandra Misra, and the Upadhyay family of Aligarh, led by Maya’s former minister Ramveer, have held important positions in the party for around 2 decades.

The BSP’s 2007 victory — with over 30% votes — was largely because Maya put Misra in front and fielded a large number of Brahmins, who suddenly allowed the BSP to speak for “sarvajan” and “social engineering”. However, in 2014, even as Maya gave 21 out of 80 tickets to Brahmins — the most to any caste — not one could win.

“It’s wrong to believe that Brahmins voted for Mayawati in 2007. They voted for their community member as there was no option,” said the former BSP MP. This year, Maya has fielded some 50 Brahmin candidates, perhaps their largest representation ever.

The Myth of the ‘Muslim Vote’

Muslims are Mayawati’s big focus this election — she has given around 125 seats, a UP record, to them. Her pointsman Naseemuddin Siddiqui and his son Afzal are going to the community with the message: “UP did not have a single Muslim MP in 2014. Do you want the same in the Lucknow Assembly?”

Unlike the Dalit vote, the BSP’s Muslim base has increased over the last decade — it got 9.7% of the Muslim vote in 2002, 17.6% in 2007, 20.4% in 2012. But she would need 60% or 70% to form a government only on the strength of a M-D combination.

“Many Muslims have traditionally disliked Jatavs and Valmikis,” says Mathura tailor Amir Khan. UP is full of tales of conflict among Jatavs and Valmikis, and upper caste Muslims like Shaikhs, Saiyads and Pathans.

“The BSP needs to focus on upper castes, both among Hindus and Muslims. Prosperous Muslims vote for the SP,” says Mumbai-based trader Nadeem Siddiqui, who is originally from Barabanki and visits UP often, and is a vocal BSP supporter on social media.

“BSP has given tickets mostly to lower caste Muslims,” Siddiqui said. These lower castes include Qureshis, Ansaris and Sulemanis.

“I admire Mayawati for law and order, but Pathans or Shaikhs wouldn’t necessarily vote for a Qureshi or an Ansari,” says Khan, a “proud Pathan”. “I am in several WhatsApp groups (of Muslims). They support SP,” he says.

Obviously, the Muslim vote, like the Hindu vote, is not a monolithic block. It is fragmented along caste lines, and local candidates are often as important as the party.

The Arithmetic

Even if half of Mayawati’s Muslim candidates — 60-odd — win, and she also gets 60 of the 85 SC seats — she has just 15 now — she will reach just 120, about 80 short of majority.

Also, if Muslims are seen polarising towards one party, Hindu consolidation, cutting across castes, would be the inevitable consequence. UP saw it in 2014, when the BJP snatched even some Jatav votes from Mayawati.

“She has no core vote among any other caste except that of Jatavs and some other Dalits. The other castes vote for the candidate she fields, not for her,” says the former BSP parliamentarian. Which means the BSP needs some upper castes in a major way — and a lot rides on what her 50-odd Brahmin candidates are able to draw.

Arunachal faces change of guard again, suspended Pema Khandu set to quit

By indian express On December - 30 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

The ruling Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA) is likely to name legislator Takam Pario as the next chief minister, according to ANI. A final statement in this regard will be released after the party meeting.

The incumbent chief minister Pema Khandu, along with six other lawmakers, were suspended by PPA in a late night development on Thursday for alleged anti-party activities. PPA is a member of North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) of the NDA.

PPA president Khafa Bengia told news agency ANI that the party is not happy with Khandu’s leadership as he was not able to ‘take the party into confidence on policy decisions.’

“We have decided that Pema should go, if he continues then I fear that misunderstanding can develop between BJP and PPA,” Bengia was quoted saying by news agency ANI.

Khandu had taken over from Nabam Tuki in July as the Congress chief minister but just months later, almost the entire Congress lawmaker base shifted to PPA. In a year considered full of political upheavals, Arunachal also witnessed the death of its former chief minister Kalikho Pul who allegedly committed suicide.

Hectic efforts on to avoid split in SP, Mulayam calls meet

By pti On December - 30 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Lucknow, Dec 30 (PTI) With SP facing a rebellion from Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav over ticket distribution, its supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has called a meeting of all the candidates allotted tickets amid hectic efforts to stave off a possible split in the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh.

The crisis reached a flash point late last night after Akhilesh “circulated” his own list of 235 candidates for the Assembly elections, the schedule for which is likely to be announced any day now.

Shivpal Yadav, the warring uncle of Akhilesh, drove to the residence of his brother and SP chief Mulayam Yadav.

The two were closeted for nearly an hour, but it was not immediately known what transpired at the meeting as Shivpal did not answer questions of reporters waiting outside Mulayam’s residence.

Mulayam has convened a meeting here tomorrow of the 393 candidates who have been allotted tickets by him.

Party insiders said the meeting was very crucial as the SP chief was likely gauge the sentiments of the candidates and conduct a fresh review of the list amid fears that the battle for control in SP left the party cadres divided and highly confused at grassroots level.

The meeting will be held against the backdrop of the open rebellion by Akhilesh, who “circulated” his own list of candidates for 235 seats against the official nominees announced by Mulayam.
The list, which did not carry any signature, was made available on social media by defiant party MLAs who failed to get a ticket in the official list.

As the SP grappled with the unprecedented crisis, senior leader and UP minister Azam Khan voiced deep distress over the developments and said, “Bad blood between relatives has damaged the future of the state.”

He said the feud in SP was being “celebrated” by its political rivals, especially BJP. .

Suresh Kalmadi declines IOA life presidency; Sports Ministry issues showcause notice to IOA

By pti On December - 28 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

 

Suresh Kalmadi has declined to take over the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) life presidency role, his lawyer has reportedly told TV channels. The lawyer has reportedly said, “Time not appropriate to take up the post.” Kalmadi has been facing corruption charges for misappropriation of funds during the hosting of 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

“Suresh Kalmadi has informed IOA president N Ramachandran that he won’t accept the life president’s post. It was a sudden decision. A member proposed the names during our Annual General Meeting (AGM) and (IOA) president approved it. It wasn’t on the agenda,” said IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta to Indian Express.

To add further pressure on the IOA to fully reverse the decision, new International Hockey Federation (FIH) and former Hockey India Chief Narinder Batra said, “If Abhay Chautala does not step down, I will resign from the IOA,” he told NDTV.

Sports Ministry has meanwhile issued a showcause notice to the IOA and has said that all ties will be cut with the national Olympic body until Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala aren’t removed. The duo were unanimously selected as IOA life presidents by 150 members in attendance.

Sports Minister Vijay Goel and former sports head Ajay Maken have strongly opposed the decision to appoint them in the honorary role.

“As a former Sports Minister and sports enthusiast, the IOA’s decision to appoint Kalmadi and Chautala as Life Presidents of IOA is sad and very painful. This decision is not good for sports and India’s image,” Maken had told reporters on Wednesday.

“I request the Sports Minister not only to convey his reservations but take strong actions to reverse the decision. All the National Sports Federations are funded by the Sports Ministry, so the government should exercise its full powers to reverse the decision. If they do so there is no reason the matter can’t be resolved,” he added.

Chautala who had been the president of IOA during the time the body was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for 14 months. He was the president from December 2012 to February 2014 and his election as chief was annulled by the IOC.

Meanwhile Kalmadi had been the president from 1996 to 2011 and was jailed for 10 months for his role in the 2010 Commonwealth Games corruption scandal but was later released on bail.

Cabinet clears ordinance to penalise persons with old notes

By pti On December - 28 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

New Delhi, Dec 28 (PTI) The Cabinet today approved promulgation of an ordinance to impose a penalty, including a jail term, for possession of the scrapped 500 and 1,000 rupee notes beyond a cut-off.

The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also approved an ordinance to amend the RBI Act to extinguish the liability of the government and the central bank on the demonetised high-denomination notes to prevent future litigations.

Official sources said the ordinance has been cleared, but did not say if the penal provisions would apply for holding the junked currency after the 50-day window to deposit them in banks ends as of December 30 or after March 31, till which time deposit of old currency notes at specified branches of the Reserve Bank after submitting a declaration form is open.

The penalty for holding old currency in excess of 10 notes may include financial fines and a jail term of up to 4 years in certain cases.

While announcing the demonetisation of the old currency on November 8, the government had allowed holders to either exchange them or deposit in bank and post office accounts.

While the facility to exchange the old notes has since been withdrawn, depositors have time till Friday to deposit the holding in their accounts.

Govt names Viral V Acharya as RBI Deputy Governor

By pti On December - 28 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

New Delhi, Dec 28 (PTI) Government today appointed Viral V Acharya, a professor of Economics in the Department of Finance at the New York University (NYU), new Deputy Governor at the Reserve Bank of India.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet cleared the appointment for three years.

He is taking over at a time when the central bank is facing criticism for repeated changes in the rules related to deposit and withdrawal of money, post-demonetisation.

Acharya is known for his research in theoretical and empirical analysis of systemic risks of the financial sector, its regulation and genesis in government-induced distortions, according to the profile on the NYU website.

The research areas also span across credit and liquidity risks, agency-theoretic foundations as well as their general equilibrium consequences, it says.

Acharya is is the C V Starr Professor of Economics in the Department of Finance at the New York University Stern School of Business (NYU-Stern).

An alumnus of IIT, Mumbai, with a degree of Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering in 1995 and PhD in Finance from NYU-Stern in 2001, Acharya was with London Business School (2001-08) and served as the Academic Director of the Coller Institute of Private Equity at LBS (2007-09) and a Senior Houblon-Normal Research Fellow at the Bank of England (Summer 2008).

Nigerian national caught with Rs 54 lakh in new notes at Delhi’s IGI airport

By indian express On December - 23 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

A Nigerian national was found in possession of about Rs 54 lakh in new notes today at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in Delhi. Officials said the incident was reported at about 2:30 AM when CISF personnel intercepted the Nigerian travelling to Coimbatore from here.

“He was allowed to travel after information was shared with tax and customs sleuths. A total cash of over Rs 58 lakh was detected with the Nigerian with Rs 53.78 lakh in new currency and Rs 4.29 lakh in old notes,” they said.

How India lobbied Moody’s for a ratings upgrade, but failed: Report

By indian express On December - 23 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

India criticised Moody’s ratings methods and pushed aggressively for an upgrade, documents reviewed by Reuters show, but the US-based agency declined to budge citing concerns over the country’s debt levels and fragile banks.

Winning a better credit rating on India’s sovereign debt would have been a much-needed endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic stewardship, helping to attract foreign investment and accelerate growth.

Since storming to power in 2014, PM Modi has unveiled measures to boost investment, cool inflation and narrow the fiscal and current account deficits, but his policies have not been rewarded with a ratings upgrade from any of the “big three” global ratings agencies, who say more is needed.

Previously unpublished correspondence between India’s finance ministry and Moody’s shows New Delhi failed to assuage the ratings agency’s concerns about the cost of its debt burden and a banking sector weighed down by $136 billion in bad loans.

In letters and emails written in October, the finance ministry questioned Moody’s methodology, saying it was not accounting for a steady decline in the India’s debt burden in recent years. It said the agency ignored countries’ levels of development when assessing their fiscal strength.

Rejecting those arguments, Moody’s said India’s debt situation was not as rosy as the government maintained and its banks were a cause for concern, the correspondence seen by Reuters showed.

Moody’s and one of its lead sovereign analysts, Marie Diron, declined to comment on the correspondence, saying ratings deliberations were confidential. India’s finance ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

Arvind Mayaram, a former chief finance ministry official, called the government’s approach “completely unusual”.

“There was no way pressure could be put on rating agencies,” Mayaram told Reuters. “It’s not done.”

DEBT BURDEN, BAD LOANS

India has been the world’s fastest growing major economy over the past two years, but that rapid expansion has done little to broaden the government’s revenue base.

At nearly 21 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), India’s revenues are lower than the 27.1 percent median for Baa-rated countries. India is rated at Baa3 by Moody’s, the agency’s lowest notch for debt considered investment grade.

A higher rating would signify to bond investors that India was more creditworthy and help to lower its borrowing costs.

While India’s debt-to-GDP ratio has dropped to 66.7 percent from 79.5 percent in 2004-05, interest payments absorb more than a fifth of government revenues.

Moody’s representatives, including Diron, visited North Block, the colonial sandstone building in the Indian capital that houses the finance ministry, on Sept. 21 for a discussion on a ratings review.

The atmosphere at the meeting with Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, one of the ministry’s most senior officials, and his team was tense, according to an Indian official present, after Diron had told local media the previous day that a ratings upgrade for India was some years away.

On Sept. 30, Moody’s explained its methodology to Indian officials in a teleconference.

LOBBYING FOR AN UPGRADE

Four days later, the finance ministry sent an email to Diron questioning Moody’s metrics on fiscal strength. The government cited the examples of Japan and Portugal, which enjoy better ratings despite debts around twice the size of their economies.

“Given that countries are on different stages of economic and social development, should countries be benchmarked against a median or mean number (as is done by Moody’s)” the email asked.

In India’s case, “while the debt burden lowered significantly post 2004, this did not get reflected in the ratings”, the ministry argued.

New Delhi urged Diron to look at improvements in the factors – better forex reserves and economic growth – that Moody’s had considered when handing India its last ratings upgrade in 2004.

In a reply the next day, Diron said that, not only was India’s debt burden high relative to other countries with the same credit rating, but its debt affordability was also low.

She added that a resolution to the banking sector’s bad loan problems was “unlikely” in the near-term.

In a last-ditch effort on Oct. 27, Economic Affairs Secretary Das sent a six-page letter to Singapore-based Diron, addressed to Moody’s New York headquarters.

Reiterating points on India’s fiscal strength, Das asked Moody’s for a “better appreciation of the factual position”.

Das dismissed Moody’s concerns on India’s public finances as “unwarranted” and told the agency that there was “scope for further lowering” the political risk perception to “very low”.

“In the light of stable external debt parameters and the slew of reforms introduced in the realm of foreign direct investment, you may like to reconsider your assessment on ‘external vulnerability risk’,” he wrote.

Moody’s on Nov. 16 affirmed its Baa3 issuer rating for India, while maintaining a positive outlook, saying the government’s efforts had not yet achieved conditions that would support an upgrade.

Speculation rife as Centre discusses names for Najeeb Jung successor as Delhi L-G

By indian express On December - 23 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

 

After the surprise resignation of Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung Thursday, the Centre is reportedly mulling a number of options on his successor. Multiple media reports cited the names of former home secretary Anil Baijal and retired IAS officer KJ Alphons Kannanthanam as among the front-runners for the post. Baijal served as the home secretary during the previous NDA term of AB Vajpayee and was also the vice-chairman of Delhi Development Authority (DDA). Kannanthanam, a former IAS officer from Kerala, is a national executive member of the BJP and was known as the ‘demolition man’ during his term as DDA commissioner when he struck down a large number of illegal buildings. Kannanthanam was earlier being considered for the post of Chandigarh administrator.

Jung, who presided over Delhi as the Lieutenant Governor for over three years, had 18 months left in his term. After his surprise resignation Thursday, his office said Jung would be returning to academia, his first love. Jung had a bitter and acrimonious relationship with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal over matters of appointment of bureaucrats and effecting new legislation.

After meeting earlier with Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, Jung held a meeting with prime minister Narendra Modi today. Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi had told The Indian Express that when he met Jung two days ago, the latter did not give any indication of his intent to resign. Jung’s resignation will be placed before president Pranab Mukherjee who will act on the advice of the council of ministers.

Bank staff locked up by angry customers

By pti On December - 23 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Muzaffarnagar, Dec 23 (PTI) The staff of a state-run bank here were locked up by a group of customers after the officials allegedly refused to provide cash after working hours, police said today.

The incident took place yesterday when officials of State Bank of India refused to entertain the pleas of customers after the working hours, SHO Sanjiv Sharma said.

The angry customers then locked up the bank officials, he said.

A police team reached the spot and freed the officials, police said.

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