March 02, 2021

India: Congress party’s Deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma slammed the alliance with Indian Secular Front (ISF), a Muslim outfit headed by a firebrand cleric, in West Bengal

 The Times of India

‘G-23’ leader slams Congress tie-up with ISF

TNN | Mar 2, 2021, 03.04 AM IST
‘G-23’ leader slams Congress tie-up with ISF

NEW DELHI: The dissenting ‘G-23’ bloc’s showdown with the Congress leadership sharpened significantly on Monday with deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma slamming the party’s alliance negotiations with Indian Secular Front (ISF), a Muslim outfit headed by a firebrand cleric, in West Bengal, saying it went against the “Nehru-Gandhi secularism”.

Sharma’s strong comments, coming a day after another leading ‘G-23’ member, Ghulam Nabi Azad, praised PM Modi for being “upfront” about his roots, dealt an embarrassing blow to Congress in the middle of seat-sharing negotiations for the election campaign in five states.
Referring to the joint Kolkata rally of Congress, Left and the ISF of Furfura Sharif cleric Abbas Siddiqui, Sharma tweeted, “Congress’s alliance with parties like ISF and other such forces militates against the core ideology of the party and Gandhian and Nehruvian secularism, which forms the soul of the party. These issues need to be approved by the CWC.”

He added, “Congress cannot be selective in fighting communalists but must do so in all its manifestations, irrespective of religion and colour. The presence and endorsement of the West Bengal PCC president is painful and shameful, he must clarify.” In Jammu over the weekend, where G-23 leaders attended a function to felicitate Azad, the J&K leader said though he and Modi were opposed politically, the PM did not "hide his reality".

The comments are a spoiler for Congress which was optimistic that the massive show in Kolkata would help it position itself credibly in the polls that have otherwise turned bipolar between Trinamool Congress and BJP.
This also came after the letter writers, at a public rally in Jammu, expressed concern that Congress was weakening by the day. Sharma’s barb suggested that tensions between Congress and the G-23 may be coming to a boil. “It may explode if the leadership does not become inclusive and listen to dissenters who are being blocked by a coterie,” a letter writer said.

While Congress and Left announced a deal among themselves last month, the ISF emerged as a late entrant in the alliance talks as the former were encouraged that its presence would consolidate Muslim votes in favour of the combine. The two parties also put a condition that the ISF should not join hands with the AIMIM of Asaduddin Owaisi.

Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was quoted as saying, “We are in charge of a state and don’t taken any decision on our own without any permission.” It implied that the state unit was going by the nod from the headquarters. Interestingly, Congress and ISF have not held talks and only the Left has negotiated seats with Siddiqui.

The red flag from within Congress may hurt the party’s morale in Bengal and Assam as Sharma’s denunciation rings close to the campaign theme of BJP that Congress is partisan towards “minority communalists”.

It also came on a day Congress’s Bihar ally RJD, led by Tejashwi Yadav, junked the ‘grand alliance’ to throw its lot with Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and urged “Biharis” to vote for TMC.

While G-23 members refused to react on the issue, Punjab MP and dissenter Manish Tewari said, “My foremost objective is to defeat BJP. Like earlier, wherever the party asks me to campaign, I will be more than eager and willing to do so.”

The back-to-back comments from Azad and Sharma triggered unease in the dissenters’ bloc even as Congress wrestled with how to react to the developments. A senior letter-writer said negotiations with “minority or majority communalists” could be questioned but “the timing was bad and could not be supported”.

Source URL: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/elections/assembly-elections/west-bengal/g-23-leader-slams-congress-tie-up-with-isf/articleshow/81284200.cms

India: Scientists slam Ministry of Education for handing to RSS body Bhartiya Shikshan Mandal (BSM) job of creating awareness on National Education Policy (NEP)

 The Times of India

Scientists slam tasking RSS body to create NEP awareness

TNN | Mar 2, 2021, 06.18 AM IST

MUMBAI: A circular issued by the ministry of education asking universities and premier research institutions to participate in webinars/seminars organised by the Bhartiya Shikshan Mandal (BSM) to create awareness on the National Education Policy (NEP) has met with opposition from the scientific community.

Scientists have alleged that an important task like disseminating information on the NEP has been assigned to an RSSlinked non-governmental agency. They have also opposed the inclusion of the organisation, which does not have any academic standing, in the education sub-group of the Niti Aayog Standing Committee.
The MoE, in its directive, requested institutions to participate voluntarily in the exercise. In a letter to the MoE, which has been forwarded to all institutions, the BSM mentioned that they have been entrusted (by Niti Aayog) with a task of connecting with educators and institutions to conduct nation-wide awareness and orientation programmes.

The Breakthrough Science Society has asked the Centre to reverse the decision of entrusting NEP implementation task to extra-constitutional agencies. “We are shocked to learn that the task, which is supposed to be shouldered by government agencies with the help of eminent educationists, has been delegated to a private organisation,” it said. Dhrubajyoti Mukhopadhyay, president of BSS, said there are apprehensions on whether the NEP is a ploy to introduce Hindutva ideology in the education system. “Throughout the policy, we see references of the education system in the ancient Hindu era. Now, they intend to implement the NEP and saffronise the education system with the help of BSM,” he said.

Source URL: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/scientists-slam-tasking-rss-body-to-create-nep-awareness/articleshow/81284847.cms

March 01, 2021

The RSS finally does some social good by dropping its knickers | Mitali Saran (Business Standard, March 18, 2016)

[The Delhi High Court threw out a court case against Mitali Saran and against Business Standard for this article]

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 Mitali Saran: The long and the shorts of it

The RSS finally does some social good by dropping its knickers


Mitali Saran  |  New Delhi 

My mother is an incredibly beautiful, stylish woman. My whole life, therefore, I’ve had to listen to people exclaim, with great pity, that I don’t look like her at all, and had to mumble weakly that I take after my father — weakly, because his looks worked a lot better on him than on me. I bet nobody told him that he had “a sort of, well, robust something”.

One of the results of being the underwhelming offspring of two smashers is that you give up on the looks department early on. While my friends were busy experimenting with hair and clothes and make-up, I went to school with my hair pulled back in a greasy ponytail and a pair of bottle-thick spectacles. I wore ill-fitting hand-me-down T-shirts and shorts or jeans, and resisted all attempts to spruce me up. At some point, in desperation, my mother got me a “Cleopatra cut”, a bob with bangs cut dead across the eyebrows. It was supposed to be chic, but I retreated behind this hairy curtain for so many years, trimming the fringe to nose level with my Swiss army knife, that she finally regretted it. Perhaps out of self-preservation, I avoided looking in the mirror.

All of this is to say that I was never socialised to get with fashion, and am therefore hardly in a position to make style judgements. People are forever saying incomprehensible things about how blue brings out their shoulders or whatever, and I just nod along. But while I still wear jeans and T-shirts, now I can at least tell when some item of clothing is an out and out disaster.

It is impossible, in the electronic age, to have missed that photograph of Union minister Nitin Gadkari, clad in his Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) outfit, sitting legs crossed in a chair. The internet immediately paired this retina-destroying image with one of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, neatly capturing everything that is wrong with his clothes, and everything that is right with the internet.

There are many, many reasons to make fun of the The poor lads have all kinds of complexes related to power, domination and all the sex they’re not having. They inspire repeated references to robots and nazis. But the worst — the very worst — is the uniform.

Just think about it compassionately for a second. To be obsessed with cows and cow pee-pee; to fetishise flagpoles (wink, wink) even as you object to the flag; to be frantic about India even as you oppress Indians; to see a sinister conspiracy behind every pimply grad student; to jump up and down because someone didn’t say “Bharat mata ki jai”; to admire the Manusmriti; to rely on the lizard bits of your brain; to do all of this, and to do it while wearing flared shorts cinched at the waist, even though you are a full-grown, unfit, hairy dude — well, it’s all just so awful that you have to admire the courage it takes to walk around the world looking like that.

But it seems that its own lack of coolness has finally gotten to the RSS, or maybe they’re tired of pretending to be celibate out of choice. After a brief 10-year think about it, the organisation has decided to replace the shorts with trousers. This is a body blow to the convenient terms “knickerwallah” and “chaddiwallah”, and we can never unsee Nitin Gadkari, but the move might help save millions of innocent retinas in the future. That’s what I call working for the good of society — who knew they would do it by dropping their knickers? Ladies and gentlemen, a big hand for the

Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. 

source URL: https://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/mitali-saran-the-long-and-the-shorts-of-it-116031800347_1.html

Mitali Saran is a Delhi-based writer mitali.saran@gmail.com

India: Since when have Senior Congress Party leaders started to collectively show up wearing Saffron Safas [head gear] ? Whats up?

A PTI Photo  accompanying and article by Rasheed Kidwai for India Today


India: Induction of the Shady Abbas Siddiqui, 'Indian Secular Front' at the Brigade rally of the Left and the Congress

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya   |   Calcutta   |   Published 01.03.21, 01:42 AM

"Bengal on Sunday witnessed the injection of a new dimension into its politics with the formal induction of Abbas Siddiqui, a Furfura Sharif pirzada, who took centre-stage at the Brigade rally of the Left and the Congress with a pledge to uproot both the Trinamul Congress and the BJP.

The cleric’s formal entry into mainstream politics — a rarity in Bengal till now — added an element that even sections within both the “secular” allies were uncomfortable with while it drew derision from Trinamul as well as the BJP.

“For decades, we had successfully asked crores of Bengal’s minority voters to support a Marxist party and its allies, shunning identity-based politics. Even though many of them had turned away from us in favour of Mamata Banerjee, we had not compromised ideologically,” said an Alimuddin Street insider.

“But with the inclusion of Siddiqui’s so-called Indian Secular Front, giving the fledgling outfit 30 seats from the Left quota in the alliance, we will formally be asking the same voters to make a sea-change in their mindset. Will that be reversible in the foreseeable future? We don’t know,” he added.

The answers to other questions like the impact of Siddiqui on the upcoming polls or the future of the political discourse in Bengal also remained hazy. Siddiqui supports the cause of the marginalised, including the Dalits, but his party is still seen as deriving its core strength from the minority community."

 [ . . . ]


India: Sagar's six-month-long investigation into the Delhi violence | The Caravan

 Part two of Sagar's six-month-long investigation into the Delhi violence: bit.ly/3q4uwsC

India: Left-Congress alliance for 2021 West Bengal elections that equates TMC with BJP is also peddling the so called 'Indian Secular Front' driven by a religious Cleric

‘Showstopper’ cleric makes Congress uneasy