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Sasikala and Dinakaran ousted from AIADMK

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he ruling AIADMK faction “Amma”, now operating under jailed Sasikala’s guidance seems to be keen to regain the party symbol somehow by bringing back the O Panneerselvam faction without effecting any basic changes in the party or government. More importantly, the Amma AIADMK Party and government would still be under the grip of Sasikala family and refuse to shed the Mannargudi clan links.

Reports suggest that the AIADMK ministers met and decided to oust Sasikala and Dinakaran from AIADMK with a view to accepting a major condition of former CM O. Panneer Selvam for real unity of the party founded by MGR and developed very carefully by Jayalalithaa. However, OPS has also demanded a judicial investigation into the death of Jayalalithaa.

Fragile merger move

There has been a move from both factions to reunite the party factions on a plan accordingly, O Panneerselvam to be the party’s general secretary and E Palanisamy to remain CM. Top Ministers of the AIADMK (Amma) government called a late night press conference in Chennai on April 17. The ministers, divided in two camps, held meetings at the residents of Thangamani and Udumalai Radhakrishna.

The OPS camp has agreed for patch-up, “if their conditions are accepted”. According to NDTV, E Palanisamy could remain as the chief minister, whereas, Panneerselvam could be awarded the post of AIADMK general secretary. The report further claims that the sudden decision was taken by AIADMK top brass considering the threat of arrest looming over the party’s incumbent defacto leader TTV Dinakaran.

It was earlier reported in the media that former CM O. Pannerselvam had earlier expressed his desire to form a united AIADMK without conditions but today speaking to media at his home town Periakulam from where he has been elected to state assembly, that so long as Sasikala and family remain in the party there is no chance for genuine reunion of factions.

With ruthless action to remove O. Panneerselvam from the CM and treasurer posts, Sasikala is the root cause of all troubles the party is facing since the demise of Jayalalithaa.

On April 18, 2017, while addressing the media amid the rumours of a possible merger with the Sasikala faction, O Panneerselvam said that Jayalalithaa’s legacy is the foremost. While addressing the media amid the rumours of a possible merger with the Sasikala faction, O Panneerselvam said that Jayalalithaa’s legacy is the foremost for us and asked both the factions to unite. However, he mentioned that Sasikala’s elevation as General Secretary still invalid according to Times Now and added that both Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran are involved in corrupt practices. “Dinakaran was not even member of the party till Amma’s demise, elections for office-bearers of AIADMK was itself illegal,” he was quoted saying by the news agency ANI.

OPS made it clear that his faction will not go in any kind of merger if their demands including removal of Sasikala as party chief, are not accepted. The OPS factions have asked a probe in Jayalalithaa’s death and stand by it even as the talks of unification are going on between the two camps. OPS alleged that money was paid to the voters for the RK Nagar bypolls. “During the election campaigning in RK Nagar many malpractices were done, Rs. 4000 offered to voters. We have submitted all this to EC yesterday and asked to inquire into matter (election for AIADMK office-bearers after Jaya’s demise),” he said.

OPS said that Sasikala has betrayed Amma’s cause and was even sacked by Jayalalithaa along with Dinakaran and the party needs to be saved from dynastic politics. However, KA Sengottaiyan had said earlier that OPS faction didn’t raise any question on Dinakaran or Sasikala. “There are no talks on the issue of TTV Dinakaran and Sasikala, nor did OPS faction raise any question on the same,” Sengottaiyan said.

The AIADMK was split on February 7, 2016, when Panneerselvam lashed out against AIADMK supremo VK Sasikala, accusing her of usurping power against the will of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Subsequently, Panneerselvam was shown the door by party top brass.

The two warring camps of AIADMK recently fought over the the party symbol, which was eventually freezed by the Election Commission. Both the camps were compelled to use different symbols moving into the by-election for RK Nagar assembly segment, the seat which was represented by Jayalalithaa.

Earlier in the day, senior AIADMK leader M Thambidurai pitched for reconciliation between the two camps. “There was no split in AIADMK, but only dissidence. Things could be resolved if both the factions talk. We are ready for merger if OPS camp comes forward,” he said.

The ruling AIADMK (Amma) prepared the ground for a possible truce with the rival AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) with a consultative meeting of Ministers held at the house of Electricity Minister P. Thangamani here, “welcoming” former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam’s (OPS) statement he was prepared for a rapprochement “if approached”. Briefing journalists after over an hour-long meeting of Ministers, Finance Minister D. Jayakumar said, “We discussed only two things. The party has to be united and an affidavit to be filed before the Election Commission to retrieve the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol.

It not yet clear if speculation that Sasikala had resigned as party general secretary is true. Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam interjected and said, “it is a blatant lie”.   Jayakumar said he did not have any information about her resignation.

No blind merger

In a twist to the developments of the last 24 hours, the former Chief Minister, O. Panneerselvam, on April 18 Tuesday ruled out the merger of the two factions of the AIADMK if V.K. Sasikala remains in a united party. He demanded the ouster of her family, including T.T.V. Dhinakaran, from the AIADMK.

The AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) leader said, “MGR and Amma were always against family rule. So, we will not rest until the Sasikala family is thrown out of the AIADMK. Party should not be in the hands of a family.” Earlier, sources in his camp said talks with the other camp would be only with conditions. “This talk of ‘no conditions’ is all bunkum,” they added. Panneerselvam made it clear that he cannot go back on his core demand of a probe into the ‘mysterious’ death of the former Chief Minsiter, Jayalalithaa. “We will continue our demand for a CBI inquiry into the sudden demise of Jayalalithaa.”

Team formed for talks with OPS camp: Sengottaiyan. “A team has been formed for talks with the O. Pannerselvam camp for a possible merger”, says School Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan. He held discussions with AIADMK (Amma) deputy general secretary Dhinakaran at the latter’s residence in Chennai.

Panneerselvam has expressed the confidence that the Sasikala faction leaders would approach him for merger talks. On speculations about the merger of the two AIADMK factions and that he was going to be made “general secretary,” he said no one has approached him for it so far.

“If approached, we are ready to sit and talk and I have confidence that they [leaders] will come [for talks],” he told reporters at the airport.

MLAs meet on board INS Chennai

On board ”INS Chennai”, Finance Minister Jayakumar refused to attach any significance to an MLAs meeting. Earlier in the morning, responding to Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisami’s call, legislators of the AIADMK AMMA assembled on board ”INS Chennai” and ”INS Sumedha” for a ‘day at sea’ event.

Late on Monday evening, as many as 26 Ministers met at Electricity Minister Thangamani’s official residence on Greenways Road in Chennai.Another meeting was held at the bungalow of Housing Minister Udumalai Radhakrishnan, in which a few Ministers participated. Later, they joined the meeting at Mr. Thangamani’s residence.

Welcoming Panneerselvam’s ”call” for unity, Jayakumar said the AIADMK lawmakers discussed ways to unite the party and get back the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol frozen by the Election Commission. Jayakumar denied rumours that Sasikala and Mr. Dhinakaran have resigned from the party. ”This is like a sibling fight. We’ll join hands soon”, he said. All 128 AIADMK MLAs are staying united and favour a merger.

Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha M. Thambidurai left for New Delhi on Monday evening.Mr. Thambidurai may meet Election Commission officials regarding the tussle over the ”Two Leaves” symbol. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and Thambidurai meet twice fuelling speculations. When Thambidurai spoke to media at the Secretariat, he too welcomed Panneerselvam’s remarks. Going by the footage shown on television channels, women Ministers appeared to have stayed away from both the meetings. But the prominent absentee was Mr. Palanisami. Mr. Jayakumar, S.P. Velumani and C. Ve Shanmugam answered queries from journalists. The Ministers said they would discuss the possibility of merger with OPS camp after Mr. Dhinakaran comes back to Chennai.

The women ministers too joined the meeting at Mr. Thangamani’s residence and thus began the second round of discussion. Close to midnight, the Ministers were seen leaving Mr. Thangamani’s residence.

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South Asia

India – Nepal bilateral relations stripped by China’s hegemonic theme in South Asia

Debadatta Mishra

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During this amid global pandemic, India meets particular strain from its northern neighbors’ country’s foreign policy. India and China have a significant disparity over the border issue. India is standing up to china by standstill the economic activities in both countries. India and Nepal have a strong bilateral relation performed was a significant role in Himalayan frontiers. India and Nepal shared deep cultural, economic, social, and political relations over many centuries. The ties between both countries frayed slowly started from the border disputes that arose after defense minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a crucial road going through lipulekh to Kailash and Manasarovar, that route could quickly build connectivity within India with the Tibetan Plateau. The Nepal government protested that it could challenge the national sovereignty and status quo and fueled the #back of India movement in Nepal, which became a principal reason for bilateral instability in both countries. Nepal proclaims 400 sq km of Indian land in Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepal territory. Kathmandu sends the new political map to the United Nations and Google for international recognition. India and Nepal claim the same disputed territory on their political map. India was the primary trade partner of Nepal, more than 65% of Nepal’s trade deals are possible through the Indian ports, so India dominated a larger scale in Nepal import and export sectors. In the meantime, China attempts to replace India’s position in Nepal’s economic and political domain. Recently Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “China and Nepal have always treated each other as equals,” although China revived the rail project between Nepal and China, the project cost estimate over USD 300 Million, with the determined deadline of completion in 2025. After the Rail connectivity, China ultimately became a lager trade partner in Nepal overthrow India. The domestic politics of Nepal, Currently Nepal ruling party Nepal Communist Party (NCP), is looking for political interest through China. Nepal is tilting towards China under the leadership of Prime Minister K P Oli and his Nepal Communist Party. Nepal took actions including banned Indian private news network broadcasting in Nepal, changed its citizen’s law, which makes disconcerted for India and constructed a helipad in a disputed location. China people liberation army (PLA) recently deploy the troops in Lipulekh pass, which currently disputed land between India and Nepal border. China mainly intervenes with India and Nepal’s disputes to obtain Nepal support accomplished to constrain India. China played a pivotal role in generating the anti-Indian rhetoric approach in Nepal’s internal domain.

Why is Nepal significant for China’s expansionism?

In Contemporary world politics, Dragon adopted an encroach approach upon neighbors’ countries. Nepal became a preeminent part of Chinese command and strategies to contend with India in every possible channel. Although the ambitious project of China to revive the ancient silk route and became the dominant financial capital in south Asia, it could be possible by Nepal’s proximity. China is striving to stimulate and tempt Nepal with multiple aids, economic growth, and acquisition by coordinating with the current ruling party of Nepal. On 2nd July 2018, The Business Standard published an article that highlights “by throwing money at Nepal, China limiting India influence in the region” for an extended period, China was invested in Nepal to gain political backing. Nepal is undoubtedly an essential aspect of the security of Indian’s borders. China’s military troops frequently entered in Indian territory (northeast state), and Nepal always became a barrier for such expansionism footsteps towards India’s territory. The border dispute was not new between both countries started from the Sugauli Treaty to kali river disputes, and both nations resolve such issues with bilateral negotiations. India also needs to ensure and revitalize the peace treaty between both countries. As sooner India solve the border dispute, it ultimately creates less chance to china’s intervene.

Since the dispute occurred, India and Nepal finally agreed for a custom high-level meeting regarding address the connectivity and development in both countries. India needs to adopt soft power diplomacy to maintain goodwill political relations with Nepal. As this global pandemic circumstances, India provided pharmaceutical and financial assistance to Nepal citizens. As a democratic ethics laden nation, Nepal – India border issue is easily solvable, with the restoration of the peace treaty with the modernized canvas. India requires adopting a new foreign policy to retrieve peaceful treaties with a new approach to cooperation with Nepal. India always admired the neighborhood’s first policy. The regional cooperation in the south Asian region necessitated fostering by India. India requires to get its act together and promote the regional cooperation structures with an inter-governmental organization that would unite the southern Asia region, such as the SAARC and BIMSTEC.

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Rethinking “Naya” Pakistan

Ashish Dangwal

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“We (Pakistan) will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own (Atom bomb), We have no other choice!” said ZA Bhutto, the then President of Pakistan. Almost 55 years have passed since then and Pakistan now, is on the verge of getting a title of ‘a failing nation’. The whole journey of this nation is full of ups and downs. Prime Minister Imran Khan came into power by promising to create a “Naya Pakistan”, however almost 2 years have passed and there is no sign of any major development in the country. From the last two decades, Pakistan is being labelled as the failed nation and has suffered bankruptcy along with bad governance-related issues. Although having an alliance with U.S.A (earlier) and now with China has helped the nation to overcome these Situations but nothing major can be pointed out. The current Prime Minister Imran Khan followed the same modus operandi of any other political party, i.e. to criticize the previous governments for the economic downturn and didn’t achieve anything significant in the process of reviving Pakistan’s economy. The economic downturn can be seen with the multiplicity of other factors such as the low foreign exchange reserves, low exports and high inflation. During his election rallies, PM Imran Khan promised to put the nation on the path of development and even expressed his views to promote the relations with India. However, during his tenure, the relations with India has only worsened. From domestic affairs to international affairs, the involvement of the Pakistani Army in the policymaking has increased in recent years. Gopalaswami Parthasarathy once said that “Every country has an army but in Pakistan, an army has a country”, this very simple statement shows the deep involvement of the Pakistani army in the domestic issues.

Let’s discuss the major challenges of Pakistan has facing now

Economic Challenges

India and Pakistan went different ways when India got independence from Britishers. However, the countries suffered the same fate in the early years with their same socio-economic conditions; with nearly half of the population under poverty. Both nations shared the same economic challenges but where one side India’s gradual economic development attracted foreign investors, Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan war, the emergence of religious parties and domination of army in domestic affairs made Pakistan’s economic development arduous. From 1988, Pakistan has sought assistance from the IMF more than 10 times, which indicates its bad economic policies and planning. Pakistan has always shared its GDP’s lion share to its Army and nuclear programs, unfortunately, this made Pakistan’s economic planning incompetent. According to the budget of the fiscal year 2019-20 of Pakistan, all the major economic indicators have shown a downward movement like the growth indicator went down almost by 50% from 6.2 % to 3.3 % and even the inflation indicator is expected to go down by 13%. These figures are all-time low in the last 10 years and the recent bailout package worth $ 6 billion from IMF needs strong political will power in policymaking.

Religious Minorities

The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees “fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before the law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to the law and public morality” to its citizens. Many years have passed but none of these rights were ever given to the minorities of Pakistan. In 2018, Imran Khan promised that “PTI will protect the civil, social and religious rights of minorities; their places of worship, property and institutions as laid down in the Constitution.” But according to the USCIRF 2020 report, the continuous negative trends show the systematic enforcement of blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, and authorities’ failure to address forced conversions of religious minorities—including Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs—to Islam, indicating the severely restricted freedom of religion or belief. Pakistan has a rich culture because of the different religious communities but the increasing persecution and atrocities cases on the minorities shows the worrisome disparity in the society. In 2019, a Hindu veterinarian has been charged with the blasphemy against Islam and protestors even burned down the shops of many Hindu shop owners. Increasing extremism and intolerance towards minorities in Pakistan is one of the major concerns for international organisations. In the same report of USCIRF mentioned that around 80 people were imprisoned for blasphemy, and half of them are facing the life sentence or death. This law has been used as the major tool for hardliners to marginalize the minority communities and over 70 people had been lynched to death in Pakistan on blasphemy charges since 1990. All these cases raise the questions on the current government and its efforts to promote a safe society.

Judicial Corruption

All the rights secured to the citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bubble, except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous Judiciary.” Said Andrew Jackson.

Having an independent judiciary system is one of the most important pillars for any democratic nation but in the case of Pakistan, it’s just another tool for oppression and abuse of power. Recently Pakistan got 120th rank in the rule of law 2020 index out of 128 countries, the three major indicators went down negative. In 2019, a video went viral in which a NAB judge was discussing how he convicted the former prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif for owning unexplained properties in London, delivered his decision under coercion. Since 1973, Armed forces targeted the independence of the judiciary to manipulate the decisions in their favour. In 2018, Islamabad high court judge was sacked for accusing the ISI as he said that country’s intelligence agency was manipulating the judicial proceedings to get the favourable decisions. This was not the first time where the involvement of ISIS undermined the independence of the judiciary system of this nation. Unfortunately, this was the case that happened during the making of so-called Naya Pakistan of Imran Khan.

Way forward

These are not the only areas where Pakistan is suffering but even the corrupt bureaucratic system and bad foreign policy choices put the country on the path to isolation in the international arena. The continuous obsession over Kashmir and growing extremism in the country can be seen in the policymaking process. People of Pakistan need to rethink about the idea of “Naya Pakistan” and the constant military involvement in their domestic affairs. Though PM Imran khan has tried to make some positive efforts towards religious minorities but he has failed to bring out any major changes in the society. As the Pakistani economy is already struggling, the recent COVID outbreak will soon put the nation on the ventilator support. One can decipher that the Imran Khan government will soon be facing major challenges in front of him and the only way forward would be taking difficult decisions such as to reform the existing economic and foreign policy. 

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South Asia

Independence and Beyond: The Indian Subcontinent

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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As Mr. Lincoln might have said …three-score and thirteen years ago the Indian subcontinent gained independence (August 14/15, 1947) from the British — although Indians were even then substantially running the country.  The Indian Civil Service and its administrators, the police and the military were all Indian, as were many members of the Viceroy’s council — the viceroy as the British government’s representative having ultimate say.  Thus the day-to-day running of the country was essentially being managed by Indians themselves.

The Hindu nationalist ideas of the Narendra Modi government are uniquely (and mistakenly) revanchist for Hindus were involved in government during the Mughal era.  A proud country treasures its history; not Mr. Modi’s BJP Party.  It and its goons instigated mobs and participated in the destruction of the Babri Mosque, where last week Mr. Modi was at a ceremony marking the beginning of construction of a Hindu temple on the Mosque site, believed by some Hindus to be the birthplace of the god Rama.

Introduced in the epic Ramayana, he is its central figure, and while it is mentioned he was born in Ayodhya, nowhere does it say where in Ayodhya.  The epic also features a monkey king Hanuman and a monkey army that helped Rama in the story.  Beliefs are beliefs and if all of this clashes with modern rationality just consider some of the ardent beliefs of other religions. 

Of course a harmonious solution for the site might have opted for the structure to be either utilized by both religions or moved to a nearby location. 

If religious structures offend, why not convert them for your own use?  That is precisely what President Erdogan has done — in the process turning Turkey’s secular tradition upside down,  In fact, he led the first Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia, a mosque now by Erdogan edict that was the former Byzantine cathedral museum and a popular tourist site in Istanbul.  Modern Turkey’s secular founder Kamal Ataturk is probably turning over in his grave. 

No such luck for the early 16th century Babri mosque, it was razed to the ground, a signal to Indian minority religions (Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Parsis, Sikhs, even atheists and humanists) of the primacy of Hinduism.  The ones who strived so long and hard for India’s independence, namely the secular Fabian socialist Nehru and the inclusive Gandhi would be doing the same as Ataturk, had they not been cremated.

With all its conflicts, any wonder that India hovers precariously near the bottom of the World Happiness Index, as does Delhi as one of the world’s least happy cities — about as nice to live in as Gaza.  If Pakistan (number 66 near Japan at 62) and its cities are much higher in the Happiness Index, it has its own problems … like the disappearance of activists.  The latest, a human rights activist (Idris Khattak) turned up after three months without a word to the families from the security agencies holding him.  Some are not so lucky — they never turn up.  Moreover, religious extremism has spawned anti-blasphemy laws that border on censorship and serve as a gag on free speech.  The founder of the country was Mohammed Ali Jinnah, an accomplished lawyer who had practised before the Privy Council.  A defender of democratic principles and the rule of law, suave, suited by Henry Poole of Savile Row and partial to a whisky before dinner, he would be appalled.  

Bangladesh the perennial disaster area is now suffering the triple whammy of its usual flooding, plus the new covid-19 and the consequent lost livelihoods.  It is at number 107 on the World Happiness Index, much happier than India ranked 144 and now one of the worst places to live in the world. 

In the age of management consultants, experts, specialists and private equity companies with special expertise in turnarounds, perhaps India (perhaps the subcontinent as a whole) could do worse than invite the British back and pay them to run the place.  At the very least, it is likely to make life bearable in Kashmir.

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