BBC News – Delhi election: Is the verdict a vote against Narendra Modi?

Soutik Biswas, India correspondent

New Delhi – India, 11 February 2020. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has swept back to power for a third term in a row in India’s capital Delhi. But it would be misleading to read this verdict as a vote against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Here’s why.

Rather than being seen as a vote against the BJP, Mr Kejriwal’s comfortable win owes more to the triumph of welfarism and effective governance, revamping state-run schools and health clinics, and providing cheap water and electricity.

The BJP has been out of power in Delhi for more than two decades, and it was up against a party which had delivered on its promises. In the early days of the campaign, it tried to puncture Mr Kejriwal’s claims of good governance without success.

Mr Modi’s party then embarked on a coarse and polarising campaign around a controversial new citizenship law, the stripping of Kashmir’s autonomy and building a grand new Hindu temple.

Party leaders freely indulged in hate speech and were censured by poll authorities: a junior minister actually egged on a campaign meeting to shout slogans about “gunning down traitors”, a not-so veiled reference to political rivals.

Mr Modi’s party possibly felt this would work. At the very least, the take-no-prisoners campaign would prevent a debacle in Delhi, like in 2015, when the BJP won just three seats. After all, a similar hardline campaign had helped the BJP sweep all seven Delhi seats in last year’s general election, and pick up more than half of the popular vote.

But that didn’t work this time.

So, was the verdict a rejection of the BJP’s polarising politics? The answer is perhaps more nuanced. There’s ample evidence to show that fervent supporters of Mr Modi and his policies can vote for a different party in their state if they feel that party has improved their lives.

A pre-election survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), a respected Delhi-based think tank, also found that roughly 70% of the city respondents support Mr Modi’s controversial citizenship law and oppose the protests against the law.

One of the protests, by women in Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood in Delhi, was especially targeted by the BJP’s campaign, which sought to show the protesters as “traitors”.

Before the general elections in 2019, when the BJP trounced Mr Kejriwal’s party in Delhi, a large number of supporters who voted for Mr Modi said they preferred Mr Kejriwal as the chief minister and might vote for the AAP in the Delhi polls.

“In Delhi, people have approved of the work done by Mr Kejriwal’s government. It has nothing to do with the citizenship law or the countrywide protests against it or policies of the BJP,” political scientist Sanjay Kumar of the CSDS told me. “This is really not indicative of a national mood against Mr Modi and the BJP.”

Also, research by political scientists Rahul Verma and Pranav Gupta shows that when it comes to Delhi, the BJP has always gained impressively in general elections, 46% of the popular vote in 2014 and 56% of the vote in 2019.

But it then slid back to its “core base”, some 32% of the vote, in state elections. The fact that the once-dominant Congress party has been eclipsed might also have helped Mr Kejriwal’s party grow.

Put simply, what is happening in India today is that voters are making a distinction between state and federal elections. Barely six months after sweeping the general elections in the eastern state of Jharkhand last year, the BJP lost the state elections, with its vote share dropping by more than 17%.

The party faced a similar predicament in Haryana and Maharashtra states, where it failed to repeat its performance in the general election, cobbling together a government in Haryana, but failing to form one in Maharashtra.

Clearly, even discerning supporters of the BJP, according to political scientist Suhas Palshikar, are “willing to switch to state parties during state elections”.

Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan, calls it “ticket splitting”, a sign, he says, of “voters’ sophistication”. State battles, he adds, are “not [a] substitute for taking on the Modi regime at the level of national politics”.

It’s also becoming increasingly clear that Mr Modi’s BJP and its belligerent politics can be countered in India’s states. But in order to do so, popular local governments need a credible leader who seeks votes on governance, and not by countering BJP’s Hindu nationalist plank.

In other words, opposition parties have begun to fear, some of the fear is possibly imagined, that fighting the BJP on its pro-Hindu agenda could invite a backlash from the majority community.

In Delhi, Mr Kejriwal astutely stood his ground on his record in government and refused to engage with the BJP’s ideological campaign. He even refrained from attacking Mr Modi personally.

Will the Delhi election have a larger impact and hurt the BJP’s prospects?

There is no clear evidence yet. Many believe the BJP’s “single-track” muscular nationalist campaign is creating a climate of anxiety, insecurity and exhaustion at a time when India is actually a secure nation.

They say this brand of stridently nationalist politics draws attention away from the serious economic slowdown in the country. But what’s clear is that Mr Modi remains India’s most popular leader and his base is still largely intact.

What Mr Kejriwal’s victory does is offer a breather to a largely divided and demoralised opposition and it proves that good governance wins votes. – UN chief António Guterres to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib next week

Sikh24 Editors

12 February 2020. Lahore – Panjab – India, Latest media updates reveal that the United Nation’s chief António Guterres will visit Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib during his visit to Pakistan next week. It is learnt that Mr António Guterres will arrive in Pakistan’s national capital Islamabad on 16 February and will probably visit Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib on February 18.

Sharing the development with media, Pakistan’s Deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq informed that António Guterres will address an event on sustainable development and climate change Islamabad on February 16 besides attending bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

It may be recalled here that António Guterres had welcomed the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor between India and Pakistan, saying it paved the way for interfaith harmony and understanding.

“We welcome #Pakistan and #India opening #KartarpurCorridor today connecting two key Sikh pilgrimage sites, paving way for interfaith harmony and understanding by facilitating visa-free cross border visits by pilgrims to holy shrines,” spokesperson for the Secretary-General had tweeted.

UN chief António Guterres to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib next week

Den Haag NL – Den Haag Holland Spoor and Gent Be – Kanunnikstraat

Den Haag Holland Spoor
Tram platform
31 December 2019

HTM Trams leaving from this platform

Tram 9 to Scheveningen Noord

Tram 16 to Wateringen

Waiting for the next tram

Tram 11 to Scheveningen Haven

I took this tram to Hoefkade

Gent – Kanunnikstraat
05 January 2020

Corner of Kanunnikstraat and Kortrijksepoortstraat

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Hindustan Times – Medical students of Amritsar college sell tea, fruits to mark protest against ‘meagre’ stipend

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 11 February 2020. Perturbed over meagre stipend, students and interns of Government Medical College (GMC), Amritsar, on Tuesday sold tea, sweets and fruits outside Guru Nanak Dev Hospital (GNDH) here as a mark of protest.

Over 250 GMC students, supported by para-medical staff, gathered outside the hospital at 11 am and raised slogans against the state government. The students also suspended their hospital duties to show their dismay.

While addressing the protest, president of Medical Student Association Dr Vaibhav Chawla said, “The interns of Punjab government medical colleges are paid Rs 9,000 during their internship.

For the last 10 years, state government has not increased the monthly stipend, which is one of the lowest in the country. The government, however, has increased the fee of the students twice in four years.”

“The minimum daily wage of a worker in Punjab is Rs 325 but we earn mere Rs 300. We decided to sell fruits, tea and sweets for a day to show government that a medical student can earn more than Rs 300.”

The students said former medical education minister O P Soni had promised to increase the stipend but nothing has come out.

The Hindu – NIA court issues warrants against 2 Khalistan terrorists in drone arms drop case in Punjab

New Delhi – India, 12 February 2020. A special NIA court in Mohali has issued non-bailable warrants against two terrorists belonging to the Khalistan Zindabad Force in a case related to dropping of arms and ammunition in Punjab by drones originating from Pakistan, officials said on Wednesday.

Non-bailable warrants have been issued against Ranjeet Singh Neeta, a resident of R S Pura in Jammu, who is based in Pakistan at present and Gurmeet Singh alias Bagga, a resident of Hoshiyarpur district in Punjab who is based in Germany now, an NIA spokesperson said.

The case pertains to dropping of arms, ammunition, explosives, communication devices and fake Indian currency notes (FICN) in September last year in the Indian territory at Chola Sahib in Punjab by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones that originated from Pakistan.

“During investigation, the role of Neeta, Pakistan based chief of Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), a proscribed terrorist organisation and Singh, a key operative of KZF based in Hamburg, Germany has been found in the conspiracy of trafficking of illegal arms, ammunition, explosives, communication devices and FICNs into India to further terrorist activities,” the agency spokesperson said.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had taken over the case as this act was considered “to cause loss of life and property of citizens as well as to threaten the security of India”.

“Investigation has disclosed that the two have been able to recruit certain individuals from Punjab for carrying out terrorist activities,” the spokesperson said.

Nine people have been arrested in this case till now and the probe is ongoing, he said.

I am always very sceptical about the truthfulness of such news items.
Man in Blue