India’s recent national election delivered a historic victory to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, but also exposed the influence of money, power and questionable morality on the world’s largest democracy. Nearly 43% of the new members of the lower house of Parliament that convenes Monday for the first time since the election won despite facing criminal charges. More than a quarter of those relate to rape, murder or attempted murder, according to a report by the civic group Association of Democratic Reforms. The loophole that allows them to take office is that they have not been convicted — in part because the Indian legal system has a huge backlog of an estimated 30 million cases and trials often last decades. When asked about the charges against them, they invariably accuse a political rival of framing them. Since such rivalries often lead to false accusations, the main political parties say it would be unfair to bar people from contesting elections unless they have been convicted by court. Under existing laws, only those who have been sentenced to prison for two years or more can be barred from elections. Members of Parliament with criminal backgrounds is not a new phenomenon in India, but despite Modi’s campaign vow in 2014 to clean up corruption and the influence of money in politics, the problem appears to be only growing worse. In the 2004 national election, the percentage of candidates with pending criminal cases was 24%, which rose to 33% in 2009, 34%
India will not invite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the swearing-in of his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, two Indian government sources said, suggesting any early warming in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours is unlikely. Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, and came close to a fourth in February after a suicide bomb attack by a Pakistan-based militant group killed at least 40 Indian police in the contested Kashmir region. Narendra Modi begins his second term as prime minister on Thursday after a convincing election victory which political analysts say was helped by his handling of that tension with Pakistan. The Indian government said in a statement on Monday the leaders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan – all members, with India, of the little-known Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) – had been invited to the swearing-in. “This is in line with government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” a government spokesman said. The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius have also been invited. But two sources in Indian’s foreign ministry said Pakistan will not be on the list, without providing further information. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi suggested the reason was India’s internal politics, after Modi had made “Pakistan bashing” the central theme of his election campaign. “To expect that he will get rid of his narrative and invite the entire opposition to criticise him, it was not possible,” Qureshi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a second term in office after responding to a suicide attack on Indian paramilitary forces in troubled Kashmir with an airstrike inside Pakistan, allowing him to turn voters’ attention away from the country’s highest unemployment rate in decades. Now, after his swearing-in on Thursday, he will need to deftly navigate a trade war between the United States and China and rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran, an important source of cheap oil for India’s fast-growing economy. Modi will also face pressure to protect India’s traditional sphere of influence in South Asia. Many Modi supporters credit the 68-year-old leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party with India’s growing status abroad, and messages from U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulating him on his party’s victory even before all results were in seemed to bolster that belief. Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to Washington, said foreign policy has been one of Modi’s most pronounced achievements, as he pursued it with vigor “that we have not seen in any other prime minister so far.” As Modi returns to power for another five years, global leaders are looking to India to take on a larger burden of responsibility in the world, acting as a security buffer in the Indo-Pacific, opening its markets and responding to climate change, even though Modi struggled to manage many of India’s domestic issues in his first term. “Maneuvering
“The guided bomb achieved the desired range and hit the target with high precision. All the mission objectives have been met,” read a press release from the Indian military’s research and development division. It came two days after the test of the BrahMos, a cruise missile with a 300 km range.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has swept to a huge election victory, his foreign minister said on Thursday, giving his party a mandate to pursue policies that put Hindus first, are mainly business-friendly and take a hard line on national security. Official data from India’s Election Commission showed Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead in 294 of the 542 seats available, more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of parliament. That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984. The main opposition Congress Party was ahead in 50 seats, figures showed. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, also a senior BJP leader, said on Twitter the BJP had won a “massive victory”. The mood was upbeat at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, with party workers setting off firecrackers and cheering as TV channels reported the margin of victory. Official data from India’s Election Commission showed Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead in 294 of the 542 seats available, more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of parliament. That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984. The main opposition Congress Party was ahead in 50 seats, figures showed. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, also a senior BJP leader, said on Twitter the BJP had won a “massive victory”. The mood was upbeat at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, with party workers setting off firecrackers and cheering as TV channels
For nearly a decade, Pragya Thakur was known mostly as the saffron-clad Hindu ascetic shuttling in and out of Indian courts, flanked by police, facing charges under an anti-terrorism law for plotting a bomb attack on Muslims. Last month, the 49-year-old was fielded as a candidate by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the current general election, in which he is seeking a second term. Overnight, Thakur, who has been out on bail since 2017, emerged as a symbol of a Hindu nationalist movement that is showing increasing intolerance towards Muslims in the Hindu-dominated nation. The five years of Modi’s rule have seen an increasing number of attacks on Muslims by right-wing groups. But the brazenness of Thakur’s candidacy has still stunned many. It’s the first time a leading political party in India has fielded a candidate accused of terrorism in an election. “They are addressing a very extreme form of the Hindutva fold,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi-based biographer of Modi, referring to the BJP’s Hindu-first ideology. Thakur says she had nothing to do with the 2008 explosion near several mosques in the Muslim-majority town of Malegaon in western India. Six Muslims were killed and more than a hundred people injured. According to court filings, the motorcycle on which the explosives were strapped was Thakur’s, and she was among those who planned the attack to avenge “jihadi activities.” Indian law allows candidates charged with crimes to contest elections, but not convicts. The trial against
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling coalition is confident of a second term in office but opposition parties are talking to each other to seal an alliance, hoping to topple him after general election results are announced on May 23. The seven-phase election started on April 11 and ends on May 19. Below is how India’s biggest parties are aligned. NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE (NDA) BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP): Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP leads the NDA and won 282 seats in the last election five years ago. There are 545 seats in the lower house of parliament, two of which are nominated by the president from the Anglo-Indian community. ALL INDIA ANNA DRAVIDA MUNNETRA KAZHAGAM (AIADMK): The third-biggest party and Narendra Modi’s biggest partner in the south of the country, the BJP’s weakest region. The AIADMK won 37 of the 40 seats it contested the last time, but the death of its charismatic leader, J. Jayalalithaa, in 2016 could affect its performance. SHIV SENA: The hardline Hindu party, based in India’s financial capital Mumbai, is in an on-off relationship with the BJP. The parties sealed an alliance before this election, with the construction of a Hindu temple at a controversial site in the north being one of Shiv Sena’s key demands. Shiv Sena won 18 seats the last time, making it the sixth-biggest party. LOK JAN SHAKTI PARTY: The party mainly represents lower caste Hindus and won six of the seven seats it contested the last time. UNITED PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE
“The establishment of a ‘province’ in a region where it has nothing resembling actual governance is absurd, but it should not be written off. The world may roll its eyes at these developments, but to jihadists in these vulnerable regions, these are significant gestures to help lay the groundwork in rebuilding the map of the IS ‘caliphate’,” said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intel Group that tracks Islamic extremists.
Born on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to Shri Krishna Bihari Vajpayee and Smt. Krishna Devi, Shri Vajpayee brings with him a long parliamentary experience spanning over four decades. He has been a Member of Parliament since 1957. He was elected to the 5th, 6th and 7th Lok Sabha and again to the 10th, 11th 12th and 13th Lok Sabha and to Rajya Sabha in 1962 and 1986. In 2004, he was to Parliament from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh for the fifth time consecutively. He is the only parliamentarian elected from four different States at different times - UP, Gujarat, MP and Delhi. His legacy as Prime Minister is a rich one that is remembered and cherished even a decade after his term ended.
It included the Pokhran nuclear tests, astute and wise economic policies that laid the foundations of the longest period of sustained growth in independent Indian history, massive infrastructure projects such as those related to development of national highways and the Golden Quadrilateral. Few Indian Prime Ministers have left such a dramatic impact on society.
From getting rid of some Muslim names of places to promising a “grand” statue of the Hindu god Ram, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party is making passionate appeals to its hard-core Hindu nationalist base in the most politically important state ahead of a national election next year.