TDP’s ‘Muslim declaration’ has placed the community on cloud nine

October 1, 2012 by  
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`Andhra Pradesh, September 29, 2012: 10% quota in job and education; 8% quota in assembly; Rs. 2,500 Crores in annual budget

Perks for Andhra Pradesh Muslims were driven high in the Minority convention of Telugu Desam Party. Promises which sound highly tempting are being laid for Muslims by the largest regional party in Andhra Pradesh.

Party’s Chief and former chief minister N. Chandra Babu Naidu wearing a ‘Rumi topi’ flanked by other senior TDP leaders in skull caps, addressed the convention at N.T.R. Bhavan, party’s headquarters and caught every participant in enthusiasm with the raining sops for Muslims ‘if voted back to power’. Although Mr. Naidu seemed more than confident that he will be the next CM of the state, he asked Muslims to vote for him and the reasons he gave was not one.

His list of promises was so extensive that his whole speech started and ended on assurances. However, he managed to slam Congress govt. in between. He held Congress party responsible for the condition of Muslims not only in A.P. but all over India. ‘For decades Congress has used Muslims only as their vote bank, they don’t have any serious concern for Muslim community’ charged Mr. Naidu. TDP chief was also candid enough to term his past alliance with BJP as ‘biggest mistake of my life’, and assured that situation will never arise again.

The first promise he made is to expand the annual Budget for Muslims from Rs 480cr to Rs 2500cr, almost five times bigger than the present budget in a separate sub plan as provided for SC and ST. He promised on the lines of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Misra Commission recommendations 5 lakh rupees loan will be provided without interest to the Muslim youths to start businesses, Rs. 50,000 loan will be provided to develop an existing business. Special self-help groups for Muslim women will be formed with a govt. grant of Rs. 20,000, for marriages of poor Muslim girls Rs. 50,000 will be provided as subsidy.

The foremost promise made by TDP chief was regarding reservation. He assured Muslim community that if voted back to power, his govt. will provide 10% reservation in educational and employment sector. However, he failed to explain how his govt. will provide such a major percentage, when Congress govt. has to fight legal battles to implement even less than half of it i.e. 4%. Mr. Naidu didn’t stop here in the reservation game. He batted strongly for political reservation for Muslims, and he assured them he will take steps to assure at least 8% reservation in A.P. legislative assembly and will pressurize central govt. for the same in the parliament.

Mr. Naidu also assured Muslims that his party will not interfere in Muslim personal law and will make endeavors to provide Rs. 5,000 for Imams and Rs. 3,000 for Muazzin of the mosques which are financially weak. He also promised if voted back to power he will change the face of AP. Wakf board which according to him is being transformed as most corrupt institution, and land allotting agency for politicians by Congress govt. and to straighten wakf board he planned to form wakf tribunals in all three regions of Andhra Pradesh.

Mr. Naidu also made an unexpected promise. TDP which is known for its long hostility for Urdu language promised that in any school in village, town or city if at least 20 students are ready to study Urdu govt. will provide facilities for the same in order to promote the language.

The major promise and might be the most decisive one which can change the course of the state elections, TDP chief promised that his party will allot 25 tickets to Muslims for Assembly and parliament and will ensure victory of at least 15 of the candidates.

Mr. Chandra Babu Naidu termed his party’s promises for Muslims as ‘Muslim empowerment policy’, and he designated 2012 TDP minority convention as ‘Muslim declaration of TDP’. The convention was also addressed by Ahmed Shariff, general secretary of the party, Zahid Ali Khan, polit bureau member and editor of Siasat Urdu daily, former M.P. Lal Jaan Basha, former minister N.M.D. Saleem, former chairman of wakf board Mohammed Saleem and others.

– tcn

How Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi Turned National Hero Overnight

September 20, 2012 by  
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Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi

“First they ignore you …
then they laugh at you …
then they fight you …
and then you win”.

Mumbai, September 13, 2012: This quote of Mahatma Gandhi is the favourite quotation of Aseem Trivedi, 25, the cartoonist who has become a celebrity hero overnight following his recent arrest, if one goes through his profile on Facebook. This quote can be certainly attributed to him, as Trivedi has won hands down and must be having the last laugh having become a national hero, courtesy overreaction by the government sending him to jail on charges of sedition for uploading derogatory cartoons on his web portal.

Naturally, one is tempted to ask why the government acted so imprudently making a hero out of someone like Trivedi especially at a time when the issue of freedom of speech and reasonable restriction is going on in the Supreme Court. The votaries of freedom of free speech and expression have charged the government of resorting to witch-hunt to browbeat crusaders of corruption and sought his unconditional release. Needless to say Trivedi has walked out of Arthur Road Jail of Mumbai to a hero’s welcome, his head held high. Apparently, the government developed cold feet – following public outcry, condemnation by media & other political parties and by the strong stand taken by Trivedi himself – and released him.

Trivedi, an activist of India against Corruption (IAC) who was picked up by Mumbai Police last Saturday following a non-bailable warrant against him for sedition, was freed from jail on 12th September, but not before raising many unpalatable questions, including a debate on the call for repeal of IPC 124A relating to sedition and the motive of the government.

Mumbai police had arrested Trivedi last weekend after a city lawyer, who is said to be a member of Republic Party of India (also a law student), had filed a complaint in December 2011 and charged him with sedition for insulting national emblems and the constitution during the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare. The complainant had made a specific mention about Trivedi’s cartoon depicting the national emblem with three wolves instead of lions and the words Bhrashtameva Jayate (corruption only triumphs) in place of Satyameva Jayate. One of his cartoons shows parliament building as a lavatory buzzing with flies.

Since a complaint was filed, the government could have filed a charge sheet and left the matter for the court to decide, instead of arresting and jailing him – a move which has severely backfired on the government. Though the constitution ensures freedom of speech and expression it has certainly laid down that every citizen must respect the national symbols. In the case of Trivedi it should have been left to the court to decide whether he insulted national symbols or not.

Following Trivedi’s arrest there is every reason to believe that the scandal-hit government was trying to muzzle the voices of anti-corruption activists involved in the crusade against corruption spearheaded by Anna Hazare. It also shows that the government has become intolerant towards criticism, which is an essential part of parliamentary democracy. It may be recalled here that Trivedi was closely involved with Anna Hazare’s crusade against corruption wherein many of his cartoons were displayed during the protests.

To make matters worse for the government Aseem Trivedi turned out to be a tough nut to crack. If the television images of a tousle-haired, bearded and slogan shouting Trivedi were an epitome of courage and conviction even as he was bundled into the patrol car, his intransigent and no-nonsense attitude to refuse the services of a lawyer and not to seek bail endeared him to those who thought him as a new youth icon who made the government bend backwards. In fact Aseem Trivedi was granted bail following a PIL filed by a lawyer and he agreed to come out of the jail only after Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil assured him that sedition charges against him would be reviewed.

Aseem Trivedi’s arrest and subsequent release raises many questions especially with regard to the political intolerance exhibited by our politicians whose scandals speak louder than their actions both inside and outside the parliament. Trivedi is the new face of our fight against corruption and he has shown that government intolerance has no place in our democracy. He has also shown that the government’s efforts to smother dissenting voices will not be taken lying down.

Though the issue of offensive cartoons that rocked the parliament a few months ago, forcing the NCERT to purge them can be viewed as a victory of intolerance, Trivedi’s gumption that forced the government to release him from jail can be seen as a victory for all those who value freedom of speech and expression as a fundamental right.

Though Trivedi was intensely involved in Anna Hazar’s crusade against corruption where cartoons were used during protests under the series “cartoons against corruption”, he remained a non-entity till now. Ironically it was his recent arrest that has catapulted him to national fame, signifying his involvement in the crusade against corruption.

Today, thanks to the government’s desperate bid to smother public opinion by way of arresting him, Trivedi, a not-so-known cartoonist has become a youth celebrity, a national hero, a symbol of free speech and a rallying point for all those who are leading a crusade against corruption. Just as his favourite quote says, Trivedi has won!

– daijiworld

Indian Constitution does not allow reservation on religious grounds – A myth or reality

June 6, 2012 by  
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India, June 2, 2012: Our polity allowed religious based reservation by using Constitutional provision i.e. article 341 which permits to specify castes to be added in a LIST by the president, by just issuing a notification. One will be surprised to know that when this notification was issued in 1950 it allowed religious based reservation in total violation of Constitutional provisions namely article 15.

The notification called THE CONSTITUTIONAL (SCHEDULED CASTES) ORDER, 1950 says in para 3 regarding allowing reservation to only Hindus and no one, in the following words;
“4 (3). Notwithstanding anything contained in paragraph 2, no person who professes a religion different from the Hindu 5 [the Sikh or the Buddhist] religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste]”.

The presidential Order 1950 renders the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims ineligible for enjoying the benefits of affirmative action of Government. Before Proceeding it is appropriate to place article 15 of Constitution of India here in below:

1. The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
2. No citizen shall, on ground only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to
       a. access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment; or
       b. the use of wells, tanks, bathing Ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained whole or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of general public.
3. Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.
4. Nothing in this article or in clause (2) or article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

Although Article 15 of the Constitution says that there shall be prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, except from making some provision for advancement of any educationally and socially backward classes of citizen as well for SC and ST so far that provision relates to their admission in educational institutions.

The Presidential Order 1950 states that the criterion to define the Scheduled Caste, which reads: Not withstanding anything contained in paragraph 2, no person who professes a religion different from Hindu, shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste. So the religion was used as a criterion to define, who shall be Scheduled Caste. On the basis of that criterion all other people professing Islam, Christianity and other were left out. Although in 1956 and 1990 the third paragraph of the Presidential Order 1950 was amended by the Parliament to extend the benefits to the Dalit Sikhs and the Dalits Buddhists along with the Dalit Hindus.

The serious question arises here is that whether this presidential Order of 1950 is in conflict of Part III of Constitution of India which envisages equality to all citizens of India in article 14 and 16 in all spheres of life or not?

Article 14 of Constitution of India says,’ the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.’ Article 16 of Constitution of India says that there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State. Although article 15 of Constitution of India provides for State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

Numerous studies most prominently and recently the Sachar Committee report, have pointed out, Muslims are among the most economically, educationally and socially backward sections of Indian society. Undoubtedly, the report is immensely useful for understanding the magnitude of this problem, as are many of the suggestions that it provides for ameliorating it.

The Govt. of India had also constituted National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities which was also called as Ranganath Misra Commission constituted on 29 October 2004 to look into various issues related to Linguistic and Religious minorities in India. It was chaired by former Chief Justice of India Justice Ranganath Misra. The commission submitted its report to the Government on 21 May 2007.

Initially, the commission was entrusted with the following terms of reference.

(a) To suggest criteria for identification of socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities; (b) To recommend measures for welfare of socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities, including reservation in education and government employment; and (c) To suggest the necessary constitutional, legal and administrative modalities required for the implementation of its recommendations.

After nearly five months of its work the Commission’s Terms of Reference were modified so as to add the following to its original Terms of Reference.

(d) To give its recommendations on the issues raised in WPs filed in the Supreme Court of India and in certain High Courts relating to Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 in the context of ceiling of 50 percent on reservations as also the modalities of inclusion in the list of Scheduled Castes.

Following are the salient features of recommendations of Ranganath Misra Commission:
• 15% of jobs in government services and seats in educational institutions for minorities
• reserves 8.4% out of existing OBC quota of 27% for minorities
• SC reservation to Dalit converts.
• Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 – which originally restricted the Scheduled Caste only to Hindus and later opened it to Sikhs and Buddhists, thus still excluding from its purview the Muslims, Christians, Jains and Parsis, etc. – should be wholly deleted by appropriate action so as to completely de-link Scheduled Caste status from religion and make the Scheduled Castes net fully religion-neutral like that of the Scheduled Tribes.

Although an entire religious group had still not been granted reservation by the 1950 order but backwardness was considered a qualification for granting reservation to a religious group by this order. Applying the same analogy other religious groups can be identified and granted reservation on the basis of their backwardness. As mentioned above Muslims backwardness had already been identified and it was found that a substantial chunk of Muslims is living below poverty lines. Then where is the impediment to provide adequate representation to them in public employment in view of article 15 (4) of Constitution. By not doing so discrimination is extended to the left out religious groups.

Till today twelve States Government and Union Territories have recommended to Union of India for granting the SC status to these people. In the year 2000, Bihar State Assembly passed resolution for granting SC status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims; in the year 2006 Uttar Pradesh State Assembly passed resolution for the same; in the year 2009 Andhra Pradesh State Government had passed resolution in its assembly for granting the SC status to Dailt Christians and Dalit Muslims. Andhra Govt. granting 4 percent reservation to Muslims was negated by its High Court on technical grounds. Against it, the A.P. Govt. approached Supreme Court where the order of High Court was stayed and matter was referred to a constitution Bench of Seven Judges and the reservation of Muslims in A.P. was allowed to be continued during the matter is pending there.

Now the focus has shifted from political space to economic and educational entitlement, but at the core remains the grievance of injustice. If reservations are good for virtually everyone else, why do they become such a terrible idea when it comes to Muslims? True or false, the Constitution does not permit reservations for religious groups; but this is fact that article 15 envisages reservations for women and reservation to women is provided taking advantage of the said constitutional provision. If State can take advantage of the Constitution to accommodate women, Dalit Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, why not educationally and socially backward Muslims taking advantage of article 15 (4) of Constitution of India?

On the other hand if the argument is that religious reservation is not permissible then how to reconcile with 1950 Presidential order which provides reservation to the persons who professes Hindu, Sikh or the Buddhist religion? We can hide the truth behind millions of words loaded with heavy reasons, but the simple truth is that reservation on religious grounds was allowed indirectly taking cue from the words of Article 341 of Constitution of India.

– s. farman ahmad naqvi

Andhra Church proposes PA Sangma for President of India *NIA: 4 Maharashtra blasts & Malegaon linked

May 3, 2012 by  
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Andhra Pradesh, May 01, 2012: The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches (APFC) is a state level apex body and an umbrella organization of the mainline Churches of various Christian Denominations represented by the Bishops / Heads of Churches in A.P. It is an ecumenical fellowship of the Churches and Dioceses of the Catholic, Church of South India (CSI), Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal / Evangelical Churches and other Christian Denominations.

The APFC proposes candidature of Sri P.A. Sangma for the post of the President of India for the following valid and justifiable reasons. Our beloved country is a beautiful mosaic of multiple cultures, ethnic groups, languages, religions, geographical regions and states. Therefore, it is proper that the candidates who occupy the post of the President of India, who is the Head of the Nation representing the country to the world at large, must reflect our plurality and unity in diversity. This will not only reflect the real picture of the country to other nations, this is sure to foster our national integration. Sri P.A. Sangma is the best candidate now available for us to fulfill this task. Because, he belongs to the Tribal community, and no Tribal / Adivasi was given the post of the President of India so far. He hails from the North East of India, which is not given proper representation in the Government of India and so feels alienated. He is a Christian by religion; though the members of other Minority communities like the Muslims and Sikhs were given the post of the President not Christians. It is the turn of a Christian now.

Apart from these commendable reasons, Sri P.A. Sangma possesses all other qualifications required for the post. He is a scholar in law and practiced as advocate. He ably rendered service as the Chief Minister of Meghalaya and Union Minister several times. Above all, he gained national fame as the successful Speaker of the Lok Sabha who proved to be amicable and impartial to all the Political Parties.

Hence, the APFC appeals to all the Political Parties, Members of the Legislative Bodies and to others concerned to recommend the candidature of Sri P.A. Sangma for the post of the President of India keeping in mind the above mentioned compelling reasons. May our country be seen by others to be doing justice and fairness to all its citizens irrespective of their caste and creed, language and culture, and their religion and region!

Most Rev. Dr. Gali Bali, Bishop of Guntur,
President of A.P. Bishops’ Council (APBC) &
General Secretary of A.P. Federation of Churches (APFC).

NIA: 4 Maharashtra blasts and those at Malegaon linked


New Delhi, Apr 30, 2012:  The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing saffron terror cases, has found evidence that blasts in Purna, Parbhani, Jalna and Nanded between 2003 and 2006 are all connected with the perpetrators of Malegaon blasts, although in a peculiar way. All these blasts, in Marathwada region of central Maharashtra, were carried out by proteges of Sunil Joshi, the mastermind of the Malegaon and Samjhauta Express blasts.

The agency has found that Himanshu Panse, Sanjay Chaudhari and several of their associates, all accused in the series of blasts through 2003-2006 in central Maharashtra, were actually trained by Joshi’s group that allegedly executed the Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, Ajmer Sharif and Mecca Masjid blasts.

In fact, it was Joshi’s group that had taught Panse how to assemble bombs and arranged for his training in Pune’s Singhgadh area and other places including the Bhonsala Military School, sources said.

A senior NIA official said, “There is evidence that Panse and some others from his group used to frequently go to Madhya Pradesh, particularly Dewas, and had some connection with Sunil Joshi. We have learnt that Joshi’s group was in fact training them since early 2000 as part of their larger plan to target Muslims across the country. Panse and others were Joshi’s foot-soldiers.”

Despite this close connection, however, NIA says the Marathwada blasts were not sanctioned by Joshi or Abhinav Bharat. “Joshi’s group had trained these men as a sleeper module, who would be used later when the group was fully prepared to execute big attacks. However, the overenthusiastic Panse group started making bombs and attack plans on its own, much to the detriment of Joshi’s plans,” said the official.

“After the first couple of blasts, they were even reprimanded by the Joshi group for executing what the group called ‘chillar blasts’,” another official said. Sources said Joshi’s group also feared that with their reckless blasts, Panse’s group was likely to expose the larger designs of Hindu terror. “And that’s exactly what happened in the 2006 Nanded blasts in which the bomb meant to be exploded in Aurangabad went off in the house of one of the accused, killing Panse. Thankfully for Joshi, his group’s name did not figure on the radar then.”

This development has now brought all Hindu terror cases, except the recent attacks and arrests in Mewat district of Haryana, under one umbrella of the Joshi group. While the Nanded blast has been investigated by the CBI, the other Marathwada blasts have been chargesheeted by Maharashtra ATS.

– timesofindia

Its Now or Never: A Christian for President or Vice President

May 3, 2012 by  
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Q: Why can’t a Christian be President or Vice President of India? Who stops it?
A: Because the Clergy and Christians do not effectively raise their voice.

The CSF is trying to change this situation. Of course it will not happen overnight. But a begining has been made. Some one has to start, some where…. Over 500 have signed up the online petition already. Much more are needed. We need you to act and do your little bit. Indian Christians are about to lose yet another opportunity to have a Christian as, if not President, at least the next Vice-President of the country. This will happen if the Church, Bishops, Clergy and Community take it upon themselves to at least sign a petition. As you are aware, the LORD used your signing the petition in many cases to bring success to The CSF campaigns. We at least to voice our grievances and need to make ourselves heard. Let’s do it.
The case of the objectionable movie (Who’s There), the banning of Christian words by the Pakistan Telecom authorities, the Anglo Indian widow Patsy Rixon and her family, are just a few instance of how the LORD has used you and internet technology, to hear the prayers of HIS people and other right thinking citizens.
If we do not have at least a Vice President this time, we will not have it in the future, given the political signs of time. This is therefore a very special request to sign the below petition by clicking on the link below:
We have not mentioned any names, as there are many suitable candidates. However, if asked and to the leaderships and decision-makers concerned, we would be happy to provide a list.
We need to sign-up fast and also get this online petition viral by circulating it widely. Importantly, do send it to your Bishops and Church members, to get maximum signatures.
The LORD will surely bless you for it, even as we pray for each one who sign this petiton. And then we leave the rest to HIM and HIS time.
Blessings and Respect,
Joseph Dias
Request to nominate a Christian as President or Vice-President of India

1. For almost 70 years, India has not had Christians represented.
2. There are many Christians, who are equally or better qualified, but ignored.
3. The service of the community has not been recognized with constitutional positions.
4. Christians feel neglected and taken for granted and hence request at least the VP’s post.

Greetings from Indian Christians,
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Congress President and UPA Chairperson
Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition
Leaders of All National & State Political Parties

Dear Decision-maker

Sub: Plea to consider a Christian for President or VP of India – The CSF
Ref: No Reason Why Christians Should be Denied Gubernatorial Posts

This is with reference to the parleys being held for the forthcoming elections of the President or Vice President of the country. Indian Christians have meritoriously worked their way to the top in every field of national endeavour, including being chiefs of armed forces. However, top constitutional posts as these, have since the last almost 70 years eluded the community.

The yeoman service of Christians, without any discrimination, to the needy and the downtrodden is incomparable. Yet, other religious groups like the Muslim or even the miniscule Sikh community, have been represented – many times and in multiple constitutional positions.There could be easily a Christian match for any other selected to fill the vacancy.

Not Merit, rather symbolicism is what matters. It is for this reason that KR Narayanan’s Dalit background, Pratibha Patil’s gender, besides the religion of Zail Singh and APJ Kalam, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Zakir Hussain is touted. No one should hence have an objection to Christians being given a chance.

Political compulsions may prevent a Christian from becoming the President, but we would be indebted to you for helping get elected at least the first Vice President from the community.

Indian Christians appreciate a positive response from your end.

Yours & in the Community’s Service,

[Your name]

Andhra Govt. failed to establish communal harmony: PFI *Mangalore Ursulines complete 125 years

April 12, 2012 by  
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Andhra Pradesh, April 10, 2012: The Congress government in Andhra Pradesh has failed to establish communal harmony in the state as communal violence is taking place at regular interval, said Popular Front of India on Tuesday and alleged that the government seems to have lost control on the police as in most cases of communal violence the police were just mute spectators.

PFI Andhra Pradesh president, Mohammed Arif Ahmed was addressing press conference here along with Social Democratic Party of India’s Andhra president Mr. Reddy Mushtaq Ahmed. They strongly criticized the Congress led Andhra Pradesh State Government.

Fascist communal forces are gradually being strengthened in the state, they said adding: From the serial communal riots of Siddipet (Medak district), Adoni (Kurnool district), Karim Nagar, Sanga Reddy and now Hyderabad we have witnessed two common facts; one is that the police act as mere spectators during the violence and the other is that all the riots were pre planned by the communal fascist forces.

They also alleged that communal riots have erupted after the new DGP assuming office last year. “All these riots took place since Mr. V. Dinesh Reddy became the chief of the State police department. The State government has lost control over the state police department,” they said and expressed their deep concern and anguish at the extensive influence exercised by communal and fascist elements on the police.

The PFI and SDPI leaders put five demands before the state government:

  • Necessary measure to establish communal harmony in the state.
  • Firm action against the culprits according to the rule of law.
  • Clean the state police department from the influence of fascist communal forces.
  • Close watch on the activities of RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Vahini to stop further communalization of the society.
  • Present and pass Communal Targeted Violence Bill, 2011 in the Parliament and implement it immediately.

– tcn

Mangalore Ursulines complete 125 years


Karnataka, April 12, 2012: The congregation was founded on Easter day on April 10, 1887.

Ursuline Franciscan Sister are celebrating 125 years of their foundation today.

The Mangalore-centric congregation was founded on Easter day on April 10, 1887 by Jesuit Father Urban Stein.

The sisters were early forerunners and pioneers of women empowerment in southern India.

Based on the motto of “‘For the love of God,” the congregation is engaged in multi-ministries, runs educational and vocational centers, orphanages, hostels, homes for the elderly and provides medical support.

Their founder wanted the nuns to educate and care for families and children, especially girls.

The Ursuline now have four provinces across India, a central cell and houses in Europe and Africa.

They run over 128 institutions for education, empowerment of women, care of children and youth, homes for the aged, orphanages, farms and other related services.

Early in his tenure at Rosario Cathedral in Mangalore, Fr Stein had the insight to harness cultured local young womenwho had no serious occupation.

Not long after Fr Stein took charge as the parish priest, he organized a dozen better educated women and motivated them to work among children and women and so in 1887, the “Company of St.Ursula” was founded.

St. Ursula was an early martyr.

Fr. Stein died on October 21, 1888 and the responsibility to carry on the congregation’s work fell upon Mother Nymphaa.

She acquired a piece of land just behind the cathedral and constructed a tile structure in 1901 that is still intact and is known as the Ursuline Franciscan Congregation – Foundation House.

It serves as a meditation and prayer house.

The congregation passed difficult times during the world wars, recession and political turmoil but through prayers and hard work, the nuns survived and grew rapidly.

– ucan

Kerala: Communal politics goes viral

April 11, 2012 by  
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Kerala, April 10, 2012: The communal genii whose support the Congress invoked to oust Kerala’s first Communist government more than 50 years ago are still around and turning the state’s politics viral.

Across the fractured polity there is animated discussion on how the decision of the Indian Union Muslim League, the second largest constituent of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, to press its year-old demand for an additional ministerial berth will affect the communal balance.

The third largest UDF constituent, the Kerala Congress (Mani), a camouflaged Christian formation with a Nair sprinkle, supports the League demand. However, several prominent Congressmen as well as leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Nair Service Society of the forward Nair community and Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam of the backward Ezhava community have said raising League representation in the government will upset the communal balance.

While forming the government after the UDF scraped through with a 72-68 majority in the 140-member assembly in last year’s elections, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy offered the League four ministerial berths, as in his previous government. However, League president Hyderali Shihab Thangal named Manjalamkuzhi Ali as the party’s fifth minister. Last week he demanded that Ali must be sworn in along with Anoop Jacob of the Kerala Congress (Jacob), who won the Piravam by-election and is waiting to take his late father’s place in the council of ministers.

Unable to resist the League’s pressure, the chief minister has tossed the problem into the high command’s lap. He has also reportedly proposed that the League be offered assembly speakership, now held by a Congressman, in lieu of fifth ministership.

The League’s stubbornness and the Kerala Congress’s support to it are manifestations of growing communal assertiveness, origins of which can be traced to the ‘liberation struggle’ of 1959 which gave the Centre the pretext to dismiss the Communist ministry.

The prime movers behind the agitation were the Church, which was infuriated by the government’s attempt to curb exploitation of teachers by private managements, a majority of which are under different Christian denominations, and the NSS, which resented dismantling of the feudal system of land ownership dominated by Hindu forward castes.

The Praja Socialist Party and the Indian Union Muslim League, which had influence among Muslims of the Malabar region, made common cause with the Congress. In the elections that followed the government’s ouster the three parties together worsted the Communists. Averse to accommodating the successor of the pre-Partition Muslim League in the Cabinet, the Congress placated it with the Speakership.

After the Congress ended its ties with the League, the CPI-M stepped in. As its ally, the League got two Cabinet berths. That helped it earn political respectability. Playing his cards well in the days of political uncertainty, C.H. Mohammed Koya, leader of the 13-member League legislature party, became chief minister in 1979. However, the government lasted only 50 days.

The Kerala Congress was formed by a group of Christian and Nair legislators who revolted against backward class chief minister R. Sankar and walked out of the Congress in 1964. It has undergone many splits and mergers, but its caste/religious composition remains unchanged.

The League is now a part of the state’s political establishment. For the past several decades it has been with the Congress. Since 2009 it is also represented in the Congress-led government at the Centre.

The cry of communal imbalance is a response to the perceived over-representation of the minority communities in the present government. Of the 21 ministers sworn in last year, six, including the chief minister, were Christians and five Muslims. That made the minorities, which together account for 44 per cent of the population, a majority in the government. A fifth League minister will distort the picture further.

However, this is not the first skewed government in the state’s history. In the last Left Democratic Front government the minorities were heavily under-represented. Of the 21 ministers, only two were Muslims, although the community accounts for nearly a quarter of the population. Christians who constitute 19 per cent were better off with four ministers.

Gross imbalance between the forward and backward castes has also been a feature of successive governments. In the present Cabinet there are only two ministers from the backward Ezhava community, which is said to account for 22 per cent of the population. In the last LDF government, it had six members, including the chief minister. All four ministers of the CPI were from that community.

The cause of the persistent communal imbalance is the narrow social base of the political parties. While Hindus constitute only 56 percent of the population they form 80 percent of the CPI-M membership. The caste/religious breakup of Congress membership is not known, but its leadership is widely perceived as a combine of Savarna elements of the Christian and Hindu religions. The formula the state leadership has placed before the Congress high command reinforces this perception. It envisages increased Cabinet representation to the Hindu forward caste to contain fallout resulting from gift of Speakership to the Muslim League.

The narrow religious base of the League and the Kerala Congress is just one of the problems. Their geographical base and gender base too are narrow. More representation for them in the Cabinet means more men from the same religions and same regions.

– brp bhaskar, ians

PM condoles death of Congressman NKP Salve

April 4, 2012 by  
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New Delhi, April 2, 2012: The nonagenarian was buried at a Christian cemetery in Nagpur.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today condoled the death of former federal minister N.K.P salve, who died yesterday in Delhi.

Salve, 91, was buried today at a Christian cemetery in Jaripatka in Nagpur.

In his condolence message, Singh said Salve was a veteran politician who served the country in different capacities over many decades.

He made lasting contributions in the promotion of education in Maharashtra and worked hard to develop cricket in the country.

Singh said Salve was closely associated with the 1987 World Cup, which was held in the subcontinent for the first time.

A chartered accountant by profession, Salve served as Power minister in late prime minister Indira Gandhi’s cabinet and also worked with prime ministers Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao. He was also the head of the ninth Planning Commission.

A widower, Salve is survived by his son Harish, a leading lawyer and a former solicitor general, and daughter Arundhati.

– zeenews/ibnlive

Church asks new govt to protect Goa *National Consultation on Grass-Root Ecumenism

March 10, 2012 by  
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Manohar Parrikar, New Goa CMGoa, March 10, 2012: The Catholic Church in Goa has urged the state’s new government to protect environment, ban illegal mining and empower local civic bodies.

The government should make several steps to protect forest, paddy fields, mangroves, beaches and villages that are “part of an invaluable and truly irreplaceable heritage” of Goa, the Goa archdiocese’s Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP) said soon after Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar took the oath.

In the recent elections, Parrikar’s Bharatiya Janata Party won 24 seats in the 40-member state legislative assembly along with its ally, the Maharashtra Gomantak Party.

In a statement enumerating the Church’s expectations from the government, CSJP executive secretary Fr. Maverick Fernandes says firm steps are necessary for a small state such as Goa where fragile and limited land faces “inappropriate and indiscriminate developmental pressure.”

The council called for a five-year moratorium on sale and conversions of land to help review its carrying capacity and implement necessary development controls.

It also wants the government to ban on illegal mining and appoint an independent commission to review existing mining activity in the state.

The Church wants the government to empower local self-governing institutions in a time-bound manner. It urged the government to enact laws, policies, and programs to address corruption, alienation of traditional communities, right to ownership of resources, depleting natural resources, loss of people’s rights and identity, discrimination against minorities.

The Church council also urged that the government to reformulate the state’s Regional Plan 2021 with people’s participation and protect the Goan people’s traditional livelihoods and preserve their culture and environment.

Another demand is to set up of human rights and minority rights commissions for the state.

– timesofindia

National Consultation on Grass-Root Ecumenism


ecumenismTamil Nadu, March 09, 2012: Jointly organized by the National Council of Churches in India & Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary, Madurai

The Church as the ‘Body of Christ’, is called upon to accomplish the vision of Jesus Christ, expressed in his High Priestly prayer, “that they all may be one” (John 17:21). This refers to the journey towards “one flock and one shepherd” and also includes the integration of the whole creation. The efforts of ecumeism as church union movements have borne phenomenal fruits since the beginning of the 20th century through the Missionary Movement, Faith & order Movement and the Life & Work Movement. In India it has brought together the conflicting communities and traditions under the banner of Christ’s love. Further, similar ecumenical efforts have resulted in various organic, federal and conciliar church unions at the global and local levels.


The Church as the ‘Body of Christ’, is called upon to accomplish the vision of Jesus Christ, as expressed in his High Priestly prayer, “that they all may be one” (John 17: 21). This refers to the journey towards “one flock and one shepherd”  and also includes the integration of the whole creation.

The efforts of ecumenism as church union movements have borne phenomenal fruits since the beginning of the 20th century through the Missionary Movement, Faith & Order Movement and the Life & Work Movement. In India it has brought together the conflicting communities and traditions under the banner of Christ’s love. Further, similar ecumenical efforts have resulted in various organic, federal and conciliar church unions at the global and local levels.

However, these ecumenical endeavours at the macro level seem to have bypassed the efforts and significance of ecumenism at the micro level. It is in this context that the National council of Churches in India along with the Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary has organized a national consultation on the theme “Grass-Root Ecumenism in India Today” at the Rural Theological Institute, Madurai during 26th – 29th February 2012.

As participants of this consultation, representing different Church traditions and Organizations, we

1. Affirm
a. That the twin objectives of Ecumenism are (i) Ecumenism for the divided Church and (ii) Ecumenism for the whole of Creation, and that the efforts in India till date toward this have contributed positively toward ‘OIKUMENE’, not as homogenization but harmonization.
b. That the Grass-Root communities shall be basic stake-holders of Ecumenism in efforts toward Unity not only of Christians but of the whole of Humanity and Creation.

2. Recognize
a. That there exist ecclesial, liturgical and doctrinal differences among various Church traditions, which often divide us.
b. That the way to move forward in the Ecumenical pilgrimage is to actualize here and now, the Kingdom values of unity and peace, by witnessing Christ through our acts of justice and righteousness.
c. That the Grass-Root Ecumenism ought to participate in the struggles for the  rights of people, including the marginalized, the widows, the aged, the otherwise-abled, the transgender, the People Living with HIV & AIDS, the Women, the Youth and the Children, considering them as the subjects and not as the objects.
d. That the grass root ecumenism ought to take seriously Eco-justice and engage in the struggles for Eco-justice.
e. That there are immense sources and resources to foster ecumenism within various church traditions and manifested in the ways of life and celebrations of grass-root which should be captured and documented to be preserved as well as shared.

3. Confess
a. That the race for power, position and possession, divisions within the Church and our limited understanding of Ecumenism have often hindered the fostering of Ecumenism.
b. That we have often have joined hands with the socio-economic and religio-political structures and forces that systematically and systemically exploit and divide the grass-root communities like Dalits, Tribals/Adivasis and Fisher-folk. Further, in whatever efforts of Ecumenism that we were involved, we are  concerned more on what we would earn than what we could offer.

4. Call upon
a. The churches to transcend ecclesial, liturgical and doctrinal differences in order to engage meaningfully in the missio-dei.
b. The churches to move from the comfortable centers of power to the demanding and disturbed peripheries of human existence, to make ecumenism relevant. Further, the churches have to become channels of peace and abundant life, for which we need to practice ‘kenosis’ – self-emptying – and should have the courage to cross boundaries.
c. The Churches to engage in action oriented solidarity with people discriminated on the basis of Caste, Class, Region and Gender and for this to network with the civil societies and peoples’ movements.
d. The churches to condemn and not engage in any acts that promote religious fundamentalism, exclusivism and fanaticism, but rather to consider all as created in the image of God. Rather we need to foster the cultures of ‘listening’ ‘sharing’ and ‘agreeing to disagree’.
e. The churches to constantly build up a second line leadership who would uphold the spirit of ecumenism at the Grass-Root level.
f. The churches to initiate ‘Ecumenical Pilgrimages’ to other ‘denominations’ and traditions and also mutual exchange programmes including pulpit exchanges, in order to learn from each-other and worship together and value indigenous cultures
g. The churches to theologically equip the congregations and especially the children and youth, using various modes of communication, to respect and honour people belonging to sister traditions and faiths.

For the Statement Committee

Rt. Rev. Yakub Soreng                                                         Rev. Dr. G. D. V. Prasad
Convener, Statement Committee                                    Secretary, Statement Committee

Anna & Co. – BJP’s Team B

February 15, 2012 by  
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anna-bjpUttar Pradesh, February 11, 2012: The mask is off. Team Anna and his lieutenants are batting for the BJP

On 30 October last year, when Mohan Bhagwat claimed that Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement was actually supported by the RSS, the remark conveyed palpable nervousness and attracted criticism from Team Anna. Three months later, as Team Anna launches its voters’ awareness campaign in UP, there is not even an attempt to keep its secular mask intact.

The mask, in fact, fell off at the very first stop that Team Anna made in the state to remind prospective voters of their duties in the upcoming Assembly polls. It happened on 2 February at Fatehpur subdivision of Barabanki district, the spot that marked the beginning of the voters’ awareness campaign in the state by the lieutenants of Anna Hazare, and repeated itself through much of the first leg—four rallies, the last on the evening of 3 February at Basti—of Team Anna’s campaign. Kiran Bedi led Team Anna through this leg of the campaign, and the dais was set directly, in three out of four places, by the RSS.

To begin with, the public meeting at Fatehpur was a typical RSS show. Rakesh Kumar Premil, the man who led the local group organising the entire event, has been a prominent member of the local unit of the Sangh Parivar. “Hindus must be aroused to fight against corruption,” he told Open. Premil is known in Fatehpur for his aggressive Hindutva ideology. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, he was president of the Shiv Sena’s Fatehpur unit. Later, he formed an NGO, Manav Utkarsha Sewa Sansthan, and started working under this banner. The banners of this NGO were prominent at the Mahadev Talab ground, where Kiran Bedi, Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh, Gopal Rai and some other members of Team Anna addressed their first public meeting. Ably assisting Premil was Ram Kumar Yadav, a local quack who is also the president of the Fatehpur unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, the farmers’ wing of the RSS.

According to Premil, about 50 volunteers from outfits like the Manav Utkarsha Sewa Sansthan, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and Rashtra Bhakta Vichar Manch, with known if not professed leanings towards the RSS, worked day and night for almost a week to make this event a success. Some of the volunteers, who had come all the way from Agra, belonged to Jai Kali Kalyan Samiti, another NGO with professed Hindutva leanings. No less significant was the role played by teachers and students—they were present in numbers to swell the crowds—of various branches of Saraswati Shishu Mandir, schools run directly by the RSS in and around Fatehpur, as well as those controlled by Sangh sympathisers, including Sai Usha Montessori High School, Glorious Public School and Rabindranath Tagore Senior Secondary School.

If the RSS set the stage at Fatehpur and gathered the crowds, the speakers of Team Anna did the rest. Though members of the Team asserted that they had not come to tell voters who they should vote for, their categorical attack on “corruption” in the Congress, “criminalisation” of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and “misgovernance” by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and high praise for the BJP government in Uttarakhand for bringing in a “really strong Lokayukta Bill” in the state left no doubt in the minds of listeners who they were being asked to vote to the new UP Assembly.

Also, while members of Team Anna spoke, their volunteers distributed a leaflet—containing a 13-point ‘letter of oath’—to prospective voters. The ‘letter’ is an exhortation to the electorate to obtain 13 pledges from the contesting candidate before committing their vote. The first pledge in the ‘letter of oath’, quoting Swami Vivekanand, invokes an idea of India that today only the RSS will endorse: ‘…that I am a citizen of India and every citizen is my brother. Indians are my life and Indian gods and goddesses my divinities. India and its society are the swing of my childhood, the garden of my youth, my sacred heaven and the Kashi of my old age. The soil of India is my highest heaven. My welfare lies in the welfare of India. And this whole life I will chant, day and night—O, Gaurinath, O, Jagdambe, make me more humane and take away my weaknesses and unmanliness.’ It is inconceivable for a non-Hindu to take this oath.

The remaining 12 points in the ‘letter of oath’ are no less absurd, if not so religiously charged. They prod voters to obtain a commitment from contesting candidates that they would never sit in an AC room and remove ACs from their residences, that they would never travel in a luxury car but always in hooded jeeps, that they would never keep a driver and would drive their jeeps themselves—and, surprise, surprise, would always support the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill. There are many other points in this one-page ‘letter of oath’ that point to a simple thing—the anti-corruption agitation of Anna Hazare has gone nuts.

It was hard to miss the farce at Fatehpur. Nearly half the 2,000-odd present at the Mahadev Talab ground were children, most of them from local Saraswati Shishu Mandirs, who had come in their school uniforms and are clearly not yet eligible to vote. When Kiran Bedi, speaking after other members of Team Anna had delivered their speeches, asked “voters” in the crowd to raise their hands, the ones that shot up instantaneously belonged to schoolchildren. Those who might be eligible to vote didn’t even get Bedi’s instructions immediately, and by the time they realised this, it had become too awkward to obey. Bedi, apparently unfazed by all this, went on: “See, how voters are responding to Anna’s call. Now all of you stand up and swear with me that we will never vote for the corrupt.” This time nearly everyone responded, but the schoolkids were again the most eager.

That was the first voters’ awareness rally of Team Anna, which left Fatehpur as soon as Kiran Bedi had finished her monologue around 2.30 pm on 2 February. The next destination was Gonda, about 140 km away from Fatehpur. Here the meeting began at 4 pm at the Ramlila Maidan in the heart of town, though the cavalcade of Team Anna reached slightly behind schedule. The farce was repeated here too. So was the silent message, though members of Team Anna continued to maintain that they were not foisting a political choice on prospective voters. As in Fatehpur, the organisers of the event at Gonda too had among them a generous peppering of the Hindutva brigade. The chief organiser of Team Anna’s voters’ awareness rally at Gonda, Dr Dilip Shukla, is a known RSS face in the area. Once again, the lieutenants of Anna Hazare set about their task in earnest—ripping apart Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Digvijaya Singh and many others, besides SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP leader Mayawati. Once again they maintained a calculated silence vis-à-vis the saffron party. When they spoke of the BJP, they didn’t fail to mention the “strong” Lokayukta Bill brought in by the BJP government in Uttara khand. And as they concluded the meeting, once again, they left no doubt in the minds of those present who Team Anna would have them vote for.

By the time they reached the Gulab Bari ground at Faizabad, around 1 pm on 3 February, Team Anna’s language had acquired the subtlest change in inflection. Here, they started off with the need to change the present system so that farmers, labourers and the unemployed could get their due, before returning to the familiar theme of bashing every other party save the BJP. Praise for the Uttarakhand BJP government’s “strong” Lokayukta bill was now a little subdued; there was mild criticism too of the party’s UP state unit for not yet promising voters that they would follow Uttarakhand’s example. But only the envelope had changed, the message hadn’t—by the time the Faizabad leg concluded, Team Anna had left voters here in no doubt which way they leant. ‘Don’t vote for the BJP till it promises you a strong Lokayukta in your state’ was another way of saying ‘vote the BJP if it does’.

The reasons for Team Anna’s restraint in Faizabad are not hard to figure. Unlike in their previous stops at Fatehpur and Gonda, the rally at Faizabad was organised mainly by those who have for long been associated with the Left and Dalit politics in the region—names like Gopal Krishna Verma, who led the group that organised the rally at Faizabad, and team members Arvind Murty, Nitin Kumar Mishra and Vinod Singh, among others. The presence on the dais of Tariq Sayeed—a senior member of the local intelligentsia and head of the Urdu department of KS Saket PG College, Ayodhya—who presided over the public meeting at Faizabad, may have been a deterrent for members of Team Anna and forced them to be less deferential to the BJP than in the previous two meetings.

Their restraint notwithstanding, most members of Team Anna were silent on the threat of communalism. Only one of them, Mufti Shamoom Kazmi, underlined the need to fight communal politics. “Ayodhya means the place where no one fights, but some politicians of a particular party have tried to damage Hindu-Muslim unity in the name of religion. We must not forget that we can fight against corruption only if we remain one irrespective of our religious identities.”

Here, too, Kiran Bedi created a flutter on the dais when she elbowed out stage manager Arvind Murty, who wanted to call speakers to the mike in a prearranged order. Bedi had ideas of her own, and when she grabbed the mike, Murty left the dais in a huff. She proceeded to hold forth for half an hour, and by the time former MP Ilyas Azmi, who was supposed to speak before her, began his address, the crowd had begun to recede.

In Basti a few hours later, the last stop of the first leg of the campaign, the Anna anthem had been restored to its original fervour. Gone was the aberrant restraint of Faizabad, most apparent in the speeches of Bedi and Sisodia. Only three speakers of Team Anna—Sanjay Singh, Manish Sisodia and Kiran Bedi—spoke here, and the meeting was wrapped up in less than an hour because some of the Team’s leading lights had to catch a train to Delhi. “Rahul Gandhi says UP has been looted for the past 21 years. He says if you give him a chance, he will change the state in the next five years. Fact is, the Congress is in pain because it has not been able to loot UP for the past 21 years. That’s what they want to do now.” That was Sisodia. Bedi made a shorter speech here (remember she had a train to catch), signing off with the now familiar reference to the BJP government in Uttarakhand and its “strong” Lokayukta Bill.

As for the organisers of the rally at Basti, the presence of the Sangh Parivar was even more obvious here. Harishchandra Pratab Singh, an advocate and a key figure in the local committee, has been district convenor of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi Mukti Sewa Samiti formed in the late 1980s and was one of the leaders of its karsewak wing. He is a well-known Hindutva face in the district.

Even the four-page message of Anna Hazare, distributed at all four stops, has a clear pro-BJP bias. Anna’s message is a litany of charges, framed as questions for Rahul Gandhi, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati. For the sake of form, the tail-end of the message has some questions for the BJP too, but they sound more like exhortations to repeat what Team Anna sees as the party’s stellar performance in Uttarakhand. There’s not a mention, for example, of the corruption of the BJP government in Karnataka, nor its communal record in Gujarat. So, while the pamphlet names P Chidambaram and Mulayam Singh and Mayawati, it bestows no such honour on former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa or Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

When Anna Hazare sat on his first indefinite fast at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in April last year, his proximity to the Sangh Parivar was on show. Hindutva symbols were a feature of the stage decor. Understandably, it drew flak from people then close to the movement but not similarly inclined politically. When it still seemed important to take these people along, as in Anna’s next show at the Ramlila Maidan, his lieutenants tried to play down this association—Gandhi had now replaced ‘Bharat Mata’ as stage backdrop. In UP, Anna and his henchmen were back to home base. In the days to come, as the political battle rages in the state, Kiran Bedi and her cohorts may continue to make a great deal of sound and fury. But it won’t amount to much except this: Team Anna’s transformation into Team B of the BJP is complete.

– openthemagazine(dot)com

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