'Dui Hazaar Unneesh (2019), BJP Fineesh'

Dui hazaar uneesh, BJP fineesh (In 2019, the BJP will be finished),” Banerjee, who invited the leaders of the opposition parties as well as Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to her January 19 rally in Kolkata, told reporters. Banerjee, who has been at the forefront of efforts to rally opposition parties for an anti-BJP front, spent the second day of her Delhi visit meeting leaders of various parties including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Besides leaders of the Congress, TDP, YSR(Congress), DMK, RJD, SP and JD(S), she also met BJP veteran L K Advani, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and dissident BJP leaders. The rally is seen as not just a show of opposition unity but also an attempt to catapult Banerjee to the centrestage. “We are all for all. We will take a decision on collective leadership. If all opposition political parties can join hands and work together in Parliament, then why not fight unitedly outside,” the TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister told reporters after her nearly half-an-hour long meeting with the Gandhis at 10, Janpath, the residence of Sonia Gandhi. On the Congress’ indication of its willingness to accept her candidature as opposition’s PM face, she said, “I am not for any chair, our aim is to defeat the BJP.” Almost all the opposition parties are holding preliminary talks to put a united fight against the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls next year. Banerjee said she met both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and discussed the NRC issue as 40 lakh people have not been included in it and genuine voters had been kept out. “We discussed the political situation. We discussed how the opposition can together take on the BJP because it knows that it will not come back to power,” she said. Asked about the prime ministerial candidate of the proposed anti-BJP front, she said, “it will be decided later. The first priority is to defeat the BJP. The BJP has to be defeated first.” To a query on Amit Shah’s criticism of her on the NRC issue, she said, “I am not his servant. Why should I reply to his comments.” “Gali ka jawaab hum gaali se nahin denge. Yeh hamari parampara hai. (We will not reply to an abuse with an abuse, that is our tradition),” she said. “The BJP is scared and nervous politically due to the unity of opposition parties. The BJP knows what will happen to them in 2019 as they will not come back to power. That is why they are trying to create such an atmosphere and doing all this,” she said. On her meeting with leaders of various political parties, she said, “We know every political leader. I am happy to meet all of them.” Attacking the Centre on Assam’s National Register of Citizens final draft, she said, “People whose names have been kept out are from Bihar, UP, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, West Bengal. We want them to live peacefully. Some of them are living for 100 ears for five generations in Assam. How can you do this to them?” Banerjee yesterday warned of a civil war and blood bath in the country in case 40 lakh people of Assam are left out of the NRC. “I do not know what the BJP wants — a civil water or a blood bath. But we do not want it,” she said today. On a tie-up with the Congress in West Bengal, she said every party will take their own decision. “I cannot interfere in the Congress’ decisions. We believe that the strongest in a state should take on the BJP,” she said. The TMC office in Parliament was abuzz with meetings after Banerjee arrived there today. The TMC chief met Congress leaders Gulam Nabi Azad, and Ahmed Patel, Samajwadi Party leaders Ram Gopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan, DMK leader Tiruchi Siva, YSR Congress leader Vijaysai Reddy, RJD leaders Misa Bharti, Jayprakash Narayan Yadav among others. Banerjee met JD(S) leader Deve Gowda at Karnataka Bhavan and invited him to the rally. She also met Advani at his chamber in Parliament House .”I went to meet him and enquired about his health,” she told reporters. Suspended BJP member of parliament Kirti Azad hailed her as a great leader and said that her efforts to consolidate all opposition parties are “commendable”. The TMC chief later went to the Central Hall of the Parliament to meet other opposition leaders and invited them to the rally. Banerjee also appealed to all the opposition parties to send a joint delegation to the Election Commission against EVM tampering and to press for holding polls on ballots. “All opposition parties should go to EC on this matter,” Banerjee told the leaders. Interestingly, Banerjee extended an invitation for the rally to the Shiv Sena chief through Raut who said the party would take a decision on it. Though a constituent of the NDA, the Sena has been openly critical of the Modi government. (PTI)]]>

BJP Shorts the 2019 Campaign Circuit

By Nardeep Dahiya

It was the winter of 2016 when a Supreme Court bench headed by the now Chief Justice directed that the national anthem be played before films are screened in cinemas across the nation. The purpose of the order, the court said, was to instill “committed patriotism and nationalism” and “reflect love and respect for the motherland”.  That order was softened by the court in a week; by January this year the playing of the 52-second anthem was made optional for cinema owners, and an inter-ministerial panel is now examining the entire issue.

All that may be decided soon enough but the big-screen summer of 2018 has seen another pre-feature insertion bundled with the solemnity of the national anthem: short films that showcase the achievements of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government. You could be settling down with popcorn and a fizzy drink to watch Jurassic World or even Veere di Wedding, but these ‘shorts’ will have to be seen in the darkened theatre when the doors have been closed.

These ‘shorts’ are part of the government’s fourth year celebrations; each highlights a specific initiative of the government, like Swachh Bharat or Jan Dhan Yojana, or a sectoral thrust area like agriculture or road-building. All are available on https://48months.mygov.in/, a part of mygov.in, a website launched by the government in July 2014 to engage with citizens.

Setting the Stage

About a minute long each, these are slickly made, with production values far better than is usual in the standard chest-thumping of Indian politics. Modi is the thread that ties all together, appearing in each as the spearhead of all good things coming our nation’s way.

The headline is the same across shorts: Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas. This is the slogan the Bharatiya Janata Party has settled on to ride into the battle of 2019.

It sounds pretty tame at first, but it may just turn the trick that ‘India Shining’ of 2004 could not. The slogan starts with a subliminal anti-Congress message, encapsulating in two words the anti-corruption theme of the BJP’s 2014 campaign. Saaf Niyat: Clean Intent.

Sahi Vikas—Right Development— follows, like an unfinished story, more a continuum of a higher duty than the preceding terse statement of intent, but complementing it like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

The message common to every short: What couldn’t be done in decades has been achieved in four years. As the year rolls by, this will have been drilled and drilled and drilled yet again into India’s crores of cinema-going heads.

Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas may not have the gale force of Indira Gandhi’s punchy and catchy ‘Garibi Hatao’ of 1980, but it does make the BJP’s ‘Achhe Din’ of 2014 a similarly distant memory. It turns the page.

On the negative side, it’s reminiscent of the ‘India Shining’ that put the BJP down for the count in the big surprise of 2004. And spookily so. The economy was spooling into higher gear then, India had gone nuclear, and then sorted out Pakistan in a short but vicious war. But the BJP lost.

In any case, the BJP is off the blocks with a well-crafted message of development and promise of more to come. The Opposition’s order of battle will be in place only when battle is joined; their message till then can only be ‘Oust Modi’.

Built into all this is the possibility of general elections being called early, this winter, with due state elections in BJP-held Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Congress-held Mizoram added to the mix. Then, there’s buzz of the Kejriwal-BJP war endgaming into a climactic dismissal of the Delhi government soon, and recent events in the Capital only strengthen such speculation. On Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir was added as a possibility as the BJP broke up with its coalition partner, the Peoples Democratic Party.

Saaf Niyat may turn out to be highly miscible with the BJP’s desire to hold simultaneous national and state elections after all. And that would be Sahi Vikas as far as the ruling NDA is concerned.