DE Ja Vu

Feeling deja vu in Bangkok

Politics in Thailand has a handy colour code: red shirts are worn by the numerically far superior rural voters, and yellow shirts by the opposing elite concentrated in the capital, Bangkok. And then there is the ubiquitous green — of the armed forces, which have carried out 12 coups since constitutional monarchy began in 1932.

On 22 May, when army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha declared the latest takeover, the global outlook for the politically fractured country turned an entirely different colour: a turgid, unpromising grey. “I will not allow Thailand to be like Ukraine or Egypt,” Gen Prayuth declared on local television as the soldiers fanned out across Bangkok, taking over television stations and ministry buildings.

But unlike with Egypt, where convoluted political interests kept the US from uttering the ‘c’ word, the Thai military action was quickly condemned as a coup, even though the military at first claimed it was only trying to “restore order” — after more than six months of anti-government protests by yellow shirts had claimed at least 28 lives.

Nearly $3.5 million in US aid to the Thai military was suspended and Secretary of State John Kerry called the junta leaders to express his disappointment. Japan, the biggest foreign investor in the country, said the coup was “regrettable” and called for democracy to be restored. India too, fresh off a clear mandate in the world’s biggest elections, moved quickly to recall an army contingent which was in Thailand for Maitree, a regular joint exercise with the Thai military.

The red shirts, who make up the vast rural support base of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now in exile in Dubai, are poor and have had not much say in policy controlled by the urban elite in Bangkok. That changed with the rise of Thaksin in 2001. He was prime minister till a previous coup in 2006 forced him out of the country. As prime minister, Thaksin nurtured the farmers and the rural poor, inventing a constituency with his “populist” policies. The rise of this rural vote bloc has changed the face of Thai politics, though the Bangkok elites claim its overarching influence is evidence of a “flawed model of democracy”.

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Former minister Tapan Sikdar dies at AIIMS in Delhi


KOLKATA: Former Union minister of state for telecom Tapan Sikdar who had won twice from Dum Dum seat died at AIIMS on Monday morning.

He was 70 and was a bachelor. He had kidney ailments and even he was dialysis for twice a week he contested the parliamentary polls of 2014 from Dum Dum.

He was the popular face of the BJP in Bengal, because he helped BJP to make its footing in Bengal amid the Left regime, when BJP men were often attacked by the ruling party cadres.

Sikdar was full of optimism and for that he decided to contest the polls in 2014, though he had a failing health. “He was optimistic about his win and he campaigned a lot during the polls, as he was much popular among the border district residents and refugees for whom he was a messiah,” said Rahul Sinha, BJP state president.

During his tenure as a BJP state president he used to tour the districts and could reach out to the people in distress.

Tapan Sikdar was airlifted to AIIMS on Thursday as his condition deteriorated in Kolkata. He was a popular leader and even a MOS for telecom he was dynamic as he introduced several path breaking steps in mobile networking. He was known for his nature to help people and was a mass leader, BJP leaders said.

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J Jayalalithaa meets Narendra Modi; does not rule out support to govt in Rajya Sabha

Tuesday, 3 June 2014 – 8:53pm IST | Agency: PTI DNA logo


Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and did not rule out the support of her party AIADMK to his government in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA is in a minority. She met Modi in his office for the first time since he became the Prime Minister.

During the 50-minute meeting, Jayalalithaa presented a 65-page memorandum which included demands for additional allocation of resources for Tamil Nadu and expediting formation of a sub-committee for the Mullaperiyar Dam after the Supreme Court order to raise its water level to 142 feet.

After the meeting, she said, it was “very useful”. Asked if AIADMK would join NDA, the party chief said there is “no proposal”.

Queried about the possibility of AIADMK supporting NDA from outside, she replied, “NDA has got an independent majority. For that matter the BJP itself has got an independent majority. They don’t need support from outside.” Asked if AIADMK will support the NDA in the Rajya Sabha, Jayalalithaa did not rule it out, saying “We will see when that situation arises.”

While BJP alone has an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, it lacks crucial numbers in the Rajya Sabha and may have to seek the support of smaller regional parties in the Upper House to get certain crucial legislations passed.

BJP has a total of 42 members in Rajya Sabha, while AIADMK has 10 Rajya Sabha members in the 243-member Upper House whose current strength is 231. In the Lok Sabha, AIADMK is the third largest party with 37 seats.

Among her demands, Jayalalithaa also sought constitution of the Cauvery Water Management Board, additional allocation of power from central generating units, Chennai Metro Rail extension and a host of other developmental projects including those in agricuylture, urban development and industrial development.

She also met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and put forth her demands. A statement issued by the Finance Ministry said the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister discussed the financial issues relating to her state with Jaitley as also Finance Secretary Arvind Mayaram and Expenditure Secretary P Watal.

Photo: FIle

Jayalalithaa to meet Modi today with long wishlist


CHENNAI: Chief minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Tuesday and lobby for funds for a host of infrastructure projects and welfare schemes for the state.

Jayalalithaa will present a wishlist, seeking Modi’s intervention on a wide range of critical issues, including a huge financial package from the Centre, additional power from the Centre’s pool and permanent solution to the inter-state water-sharing row. “It cannot be dubbed a courtesy visit. Amma has a lot of plans,” said a senior AIADMK leader. Kerala CM Oommen Chandy and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik called on Modi on Monday and sought the support of Centre in implementing welfare schemes.

Even as Jayalalithaa and Modi congratulated each other on the resounding victory in the Lok Sabha elections, the invite sent to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to participate in swearing-in ceremony of the new government did not go down well with the AIADMK leader. Jayalalithaa, along with her newly-elected MPs gave Modi’s swearing-in ceremony last week a miss.

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Tagore and Einstein at Caputh near Berlin in 1930.

Tagore’s speech ‘rediscovered’ after 93 years in German varsity

Indrani Dutta

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Nearly a century after Rabindranath Tagore mesmerized his audience at the Assembly Hall of Berlin’s Friedrich Wilhelm University, (today’s Humboldt University), his speech has been rediscovered in the University archive.

This speech was given on June 2, 1921. Tagore visited Germany twice more — in 1926 and 1930 when he also met Albert Einstein.

Tagore’s concept of ‘one world’ held his audience spell-bound.

Although India was under a colonial power at the time of the delivery of the speech, the great philosopher that Tagore was, he spoke in a different tenor saying that the idea of freedom to which India aspired, was based upon realisation of spiritual unity. “It is India’s duty to be loyal to this great truth,” he said adding that the country should never allow it to be extinguished by the storm of passion sweeping over the present-day world.

“That is why we must be careful today to try to find out the principle, by means of which India will be able for certain to realise herself. That principle is neither commercialism, nor nationalism. It is not merely self-determination but self-conquest and self-dedication.

“India’s grand achievement which is still stored deep within her heart is waiting, to unite within itself Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Christian, not by force, not by the apathy of resignation but in the harmony of active co-operation,” the Nobel Laureate said.

Incidentally, the German consulate here, which has circulated the sound clip, has described Tagore in glowing terms as a great Indian poet, a novelist, philosopher and ecologist.

Mallika arjun

Rahul ducks, Kharge to lead Congress in Lok Sabha

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 02, 2014

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s unwillingness to be the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha prompted Sonia Gandhi on Monday to name veteran and former railways minister Mallikarjun Kharge for the post.

Congress sources said Rahul shied away from taking up the responsibility, as he has decided to focus on rebuilding the organisation and re-energising the cadre and leaders who are demoralised after the party’s worst-ever drubbing in its electoral history.

After her re-election as the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), Sonia was authorised to nominate the leaders of the party in both the houses. There was intense pressure on her from within the party to name either herself or Rahul as the floor leader in the Lok Sabha in “extremely hard times” for the Congress.

However, a senior party functionary told HT that since Sonia had not taken up the role of the leader of the house in the Lok Sabha for two terms from 2004 onwards, it was unlikely that she would have agreed to the proposal.

There was a clear divide in the party on the issue, with seniors pitching for Sonia’s name while young leaders threw their weight behind Rahul.

Sonia is expected to soon announce the names of the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and deputy leaders and chief whips in both the houses.

A Gandhi family loyalist, 71-year-old Kharge pipped nine-time party MP Kamal Nath to the post for which the party’s southern units had lobbied hard. Congress leaders from south India had argued that since 17 of the party’s total 44 Lok Sabha MPs came from Karnataka (9) and Kerala (8), the post should go to the region.

A prominent Dalit face of the party in Karnataka, Kharge has never lost an election in his political career spanning around 46 years.The nine-time legislator and two-term Lok Sabha MP was a strong contender for the chief minister’s post in the state in 1997, 2004 and 2013. His appointment also sets to rest all speculation that he would replace Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah in the near future.

All eyes are now on the new Speaker who has to decide whether to recognise the Congress as the main opposition group and accord Kharge the status of the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha. A party should have 55 MPs – 10% of the total strength of 545 in the lower house – to earn the status.

At the same time, the Congress should face no trouble securing the post in the Rajya Sabha where it has the requisite numbers.

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