Category: India

Congress in disarray

Rahul Gandhi announced his resignation as Congress President at CWC meeting on 25/5/2019. On 3/7/2019 he put his resignation in writing and made it public.
Many Congress members wanted Rahul Gandhi to withdraw his resignation. He did not agree. He did not want any member of Gandhi family to be President of Congress. That ruled out Priyanka Gandhi or return of Sonia Gandhi. He refused to nominate next Congress President.
Aslam Sher Khan had offered to become Congress President for two years. Rahul Gandhi did not accept it. It seems Congress does not want a Muslim President. So much for secularism. Congress Hindu leaders want to show they are one up on BJP. Kamal Nath applied National Security Act on Muslims accused of cow smuggling. In Rajasthan, sons of Pehlu Khan are charged.
When post of Congress President is vacant, seniormost general secretary of CWC becomes Interim President. Motilal Vora is seniormost general secretary. He has to call CWC meeting to elect President. He has not done that.
It is said that there is no agreement in CWC on who should be President. Some want senior leader, some want young person.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh wants a young leader with pan-India appeal and grassroots presence as Congress President. Karan Singh said “I am aghast to see the confusion and disorientation into which the party has fallen since Rahul Gandhi has resigned of May 25. Instead of honouring his bold decision a month was wasted pleading him to take back his resignation. I strongly urge the working committee to meet without delay, perhaps under the chairmanship of former PM Manmohan Singh and take necessary decisions.”
Many Congress leaders resigned to give a free hand to Rahul Gandhi to appoint the persons he wants.
No leadership at top meant every member doing what he or she wants. In Karnataka Congress-JD(s) Government is in trouble and some members resigned from both parties. In Goa 10 of 15 Congress MLAs quit and formed a separate group and joined BJP. In Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu is unhappy with portfolio change and did not take charge.
For long Congress has been Gandhi family property. Congress can survive without a Gandhi as President. However Congress members know any time a Gandhi family member wants to be President the incumbent has to vacate the post. That happened to Sitaram Kesri. Prolonged uncertainty at the top will damage Congress.

India strikes back

On 16/6/2019 28 products from USA came under tariffs or higher customs duty in India. This was in retaliation against American tariffs on Indian aluminium and steel since some months and ending Generalised System of Preferences on 5/6/2019.
For too long USA has dictated to India and India has meekly surrendered. Don’t buy oil from Iran. Don’t buy oil from Venezuela. Don’t buy missiles from Russia. Such commands keep coming from USA.
USA has friends and enemies. Against enemies it has sanctions. Against friends it has tariffs. It has trade wars going on with many countries. China is its main target.
For too long countries appeased USA like UK appeased Germany before World War II. Russia and China should have resisted US sanctions on North Korea through UN. They did not do it.
Donald Trump has mentioned Harley Davidson bikes many times. India had 100% tariff on them. India reduced them to 50%. Trump wants no tariff. Some say few Harley Davidson bikes are imported. Zero tariff will not make much difference. With zero tariff, import of Harley Davidson bikes may go up substantially.
USA views India as tariff king. USA’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had come to India in early May 2019 and had warned of consequences if India imposed retaliatory tariffs. If USA gets nasty, India should get nastier. USA will know India is a pushover. India can do without almonds, apples, walnuts and such things from USA. India can stop buying oil, arms, war planes from USA.
China views USA’s trade and tariff policy as naked economic terrorism. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested on 1/12/2018 in Vancouver, Canada for extradition to USA. China arrested two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. They face espionage charges. If Meng is extradited to USA, Canadians can be executed. USA does not want any country to do business with Huawei, accusing it of spying. It is USA that spies on other countries excluding UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Edward Snowden had exposed US spying.
India should be ready for all eventualities including arrests of its citizens in USA and other countries for extradition to USA.

Rajnath Singh and committees

On 6/6/2019 when an official release was issued about cabinet committees, Rajnath Singh was only on 2 committees –Cabinet Committee on Security and Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. Amit Shah was on 8 committees. In 16 hours Rajnath Singh was on 4 more committees: Political Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs, Investment and Growth, and Employment and Skill Development. In all six committees Singh was No. 2, Narendra Modi being No. 1. Amit Shah who was No. 2 became No. 3.
As per Indian Express first release was at 5.57 a.m., second at 10.19 p.m.
In previous government Rajnath Singh was Home Minister. Amit Shah was not a minister. In present government Rajnath Singh is Defence Minister, Amit Shah is Home Minister. During the swearing-in on 30/5/2019 Rajnath Singh had taken oath after Modi and Amit Shah had taken oath after Rajnath Singh.
Something happened between 30/5/2019 and 6/6/2019. Home Minister Amit Shah presided over a meeting at Home Ministry with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar. Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal, and Dharmendra Pradhan were in previous government and are senior to Amit Shah. Piyush Goyal was also Finance Minister during the absence of Arun Jaitley. S. Jaishankar as Foreign Minister holds an important portfolio. People interpreted this meeting as Amit Shah being de facto Deputy Prime Minister.
Amit Shah is BJP President. He was Rajya Sabha member. He won Lok Sabha election from Gandhi Nagar and resigned from Rajya Sabha. Rajnath Singh was BJP President and CM of UP. Amit Shah was not CM.
Rajnath Singh’s office denied that he had threated to quit the cabinet. It is said that he had protested to RSS about the slight and RSS had intervened. If that is the case, it means Narendra Modi is beholden to RSS and there are limits on his power. Whatever may be, Amit Shah’s rise would have been resented by senior ministers. JD(U) had refused symbolic representation in Modi cabinet and Rajnath Singh’s resignation or disgruntlement would have been a bad beginning for Modi’s second term as PM.