Elections in India

Updated 24 January 2017
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Elections in India

India’s most populous state — Uttar Pradesh — will hold elections next month. It is the state from which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the maximum number of seats during the parlaimentary elections two years ago. If the BJP is defeated in this state, then that will trigger its downfall. We, the non-resident Indians in Saudi Arabia, are closely following all the political developments in the crucial state that is contiguous to the national capital, Delhi.
The sealing of the electoral alliance between the centrist Congress Party and the regional Samajwadi Party (SP) has altered the state’s political landscape. While leaders of these two parties claim to have been forced into a political embrace to “stop the forward march of the communal BJP,” the tie-up seems to have come as a rude shock for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which has been waiting in the wings to return to power with the time-tested Dalit-Muslim combination.
A resurgent BSP, which is targeting the ruling SP on poor law and order and focusing on its failure during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots which left more than 60 persons dead and thousands homeless, has suddenly gone into a huddle, haunted by the specter of Muslims rallying behind the SP-Congress combination.
There was euphoria in favor of BSP leader Mayawati when the electoral race began in Uttar Pradesh. The SP was mired in infighting between father (Mulayam Singh Yadav) and son (Chief Minister) Akhilesh Yadav and Congress had little to write home about. The BSP was a serious challenger to the BJP, itching to come to power at any cost. But the political situation has changed drastically in the last three days since SP-Congress have brokered a deal to stop the BJP. Muslims want to keep the BJP at bay and the new alliance seems better placed to do so.
The writing on the wall seems to have already worried the BSP leadership as its senior leaders, mostly Muslims, have been asked by Mayawati to “go out and explain to the community that an SP-Congress tie-up will only help the BJP by dividing votes and that she remains their best bet.”
The Muslim community has 19 percent of the votes that could influence 60-70 seats of the 403-member assembly.
Relegated to the fourth position in the state over the past few decades, Congress now stands a decent chance of increasing its numbers in the assembly and, in any case, can only hope to taste power in a coalition. With its organizational structure in tatters, the 105 seats that have come its way are a bumper draw.
The verdict on whether this new political combination can win will be known on March 11 when votes are counted — but, for now, the two have clearly managed to create a buzz.


Cartoon in bad taste

Updated 07 August 2017
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Cartoon in bad taste

I wish to use my “right of reply” to complain about the unfortunate caricature that appeared on Aug. 5, 2017, in your well-known newspaper. The cartoon represents President Nicolas Maduro sitting on a military tank and a hand coming out of the tank’s cannon writing on a book titled “New Constitution.” Such a caricature is offensive to my country.
What the caricature seems to imply is that President Maduro wants to rewrite a new constitution with the power of arms. This is totally false. It is immoral to give your readers such a forged image of Venezuela and its constitutionally- and democratically-elected government.
The revision of our constitution, which is among the best in the world, is mainly to reinforce it and make it more adaptable to the new times. It is not an imposition of our president; it has been backed by more than 8 million Venezuelans and has the objective of re-establishing the peace process that has been trampled by a violent opposition backed by interested foreign countries that pretend to give orders to our sovereign populace.
I fail to understand why some international media report fake news about my country, with the purpose of undermining our sovereignty, and the people of Venezuela’s absolute right to decide, in a free and independent manner, how it wants to conduct its internal affairs.
I invite your newspaper to inform about our country with the truth and the same respect that we, in Venezuela, treat to our brothers of Saudi Arabia.

Joseba Achutegui
Ambassador of Venezuela
Riyadh
Saudi Arabia