Archive for ‘BJP’

12/08/2019

Sonia Gandhi returns to lead India’s beleaguered Congress after son Rahul quits

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s opposition Congress party selected past president Sonia Gandhi as its interim leader on Saturday, while it searches for a successor to her son Rahul Gandhi, who quit following a crushing election defeat by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) unanimously decided to appoint Sonia Gandhi as “interim president pending the election of a regular president,” the party said in a statement late on Saturday night.

The committee wanted Rahul Gandhi to continue as its president but after he refused, they asked his mother to take over the reins instead, and she accepted, the statement said.

Sonia Gandhi is one of the most influential leaders of the Congress party and is credited with having brought the party back from the brink in 2004 with a surprise victory over the incumbent central government.

The widow of assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, she was also the party’s longest serving president with 19 years at the helm, from 1998 to 2017, before handing over the baton to her son.

Congress, founded in 1885, is India’s oldest political party and dominated the country for decades after independence, led by generations of the Nehru-Gandhi family. The family produced three prime ministers: Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first and longest-serving leader, his daughter Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv.

However, Italian-born Sonia Gandhi faces a tall order to pull the party out of its worst crisis in decades and at the same time choose a worthy and dependable successor.
Party leaders and foot soldiers alike have been defecting to the ruling BJP. Remaining members have been dismayed at the party’s leadership vacuum following Modi’s re-election with a majority that surpassed his victory in 2014, and are questioning the party’s survival.
Rahul Gandhi, 49, announced his decision to quit as Congress leader in May, but the party leadership refused to accept it. They pressed him to reconsider, saying the party needed a unifying figure from the family to avoid splintering.
The party thanked Rahul Gandhi for his “exceptional leadership” during the state and general elections.
Last month in the southern state of Karnataka the defection of more than a dozen legislators from the ruling Congress-led coalition paved the way for Modi’s BJP to form a government.
Congress also appeared split in its response to Delhi’s decision to strip the state of Jammu and Kashmir of special constitutional status on Monday after putting the region on lockdown.
Some Congress members, including senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia came out in support of the decision, and local media reported many in the party were supporting him.
Rahul Gandhi told reporters on Saturday night in New Delhi that considering there were reports of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, the government should provide transparent information about the actual situation on the ground.
Source: Reuters
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05/08/2019

Article 370: India strips disputed Kashmir of special status

Indian paramilitary troopers stand guard at a roadblock at Maisuma locality in Srinagar on August 4, 2019.Image copyright AFP
Image caption India has deployed tens of thousands of troops to Indian-administered Kashmir in recent days

India’s government has revoked part of the constitution that gives Indian-administered Kashmir special status, in an unprecedented move likely to spark unrest.

Article 370 is sensitive because it is what guarantees significant autonomy for the Muslim-majority state.

There has been a long-running insurgency on the Indian side.

Nuclear powers India and Pakistan have fought two wars and a limited conflict over Kashmir since 1947.

The BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi says that for many Kashmiris, Article 370 was the main justification for being a part of India and by revoking it, the BJP has irrevocably changed Delhi’s relationship with the region.

Pakistan condemned India’s decision to revoke the special status of its part of Kashmir as illegal, saying it would “exercise all possible options” to counter it.

“India is playing a dangerous game which will have serious consequences for regional peace and stability,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

But an Indian government source said there was no external implication as the Line of Control, the de facto border, and boundaries of Kashmir had not been altered.

Why are there tensions over Kashmir?

During the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, some expected Jammu and Kashmir, like other Muslim-majority regions, to go to Pakistan.

But the ruler of the princely state, who had initially wanted Jammu and Kashmir to become independent, joined India in return for help against an invasion of tribesmen from Pakistan.

War broke out between India and Pakistan, and Kashmir effectively became partitioned.

The region, which remains one of the most militarised zones in the world, has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for more than six decades.


Atmosphere of fear

By Aamir Peerzada, BBC News, Srinagar

By the time we woke up this morning, the internet was gone and we now have no mobile connectivity.

If people step out of their homes, they see paramilitary forces on every street. Almost every major road is shut – we are hearing that more troops are being deployed.

No-one knows what is happening in other parts of the state – we can’t talk to anyone else.

People are concerned – they don’t know what is happening, they don’t know what is going to happen.

It’s an atmosphere of fear. People are scared to come out, they have stockpiled food for months.

Kashmiris have always been willing to defend the state’s special status. It looks like a long road ahead, and no-one knows what’s next.


What is Article 370?

In 1949, a special provision was added to India’s constitution providing autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir.

Article 370 allows the state to have its own constitution, a separate flag and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defence and communications.

kashmir mapAnother provision later added under Article 370 – 35A – gives special privileges to permanent residents, including state government jobs and the exclusive right to ow