|Saturday, April 8, 2000,
nod to tax haven
|Challenges before Putin
by O. N. Mehrotra
VLADIMIR Putin was elected as the new Russian President on March 26. Perhaps, it is only in Russia where it could be possible that a person who was not a politician and was unknown until August last year when he was appointed the Prime Minister in place of Sergei Stepashin, could win the presidential election. He was a career officer in the dreaded KGB, and its successor, the Federal Intelligence Science.
popularity of Sonia
for the I.C.S.
COMBINING their financial clout with Indias abject need for investment in the stock market, foreign fund managers have extracted a heavy price from the Finance Ministry. They do not have to pay any tax on their income if they have registration in very friendly Mauritius. It is not necessary for them to meet two vital conditions of this countrys treaty with the island republic to avoid double taxation namely, the company should belong to the ordinary residents of that country, who also should have control over the effective management. In the process, the Ministry administered a severe public rebuke to the income tax department for doing what appears to be perfectly legal and beneficial in the long run. The agreement was signed way back in 1983 when India had no idea of allowing foreign institutional investors (FIIs) to enter the stock market here. But the pact about double taxation came as a handy loophole when the policy was changed, and nearly 170 FIIs have a nominal office in Mauritius to escape payment of income tax in this country. The matter came to a head recently when I-T officers asked five such companies to pay Rs 8.67 crore as income tax for the year 1997. FIIs did not like the notice and at least three of them, including two big names in the UK, suspended operations, complaining that the tax problem would erode the value of their mutual fund. Others pressed the panic button and the so-called stock analysts, who are forever in the hunt for new causes for a crash in share prices, linked the Tuesday tumble exclusively to the tax fear. Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha got into the act, first accusing unnamed fly-by-night operators for the scare but later inviting leading FIIs to discuss and concede their demand. How justified is the demand and how correct is the government action?
It is not the first time
that the I-T department has raised this question of the
US- and UK-based companies hiring a room in the island,
securing a certificate of registration from the
government there and claiming tax immunity here. As early
as September, 1997, India wrote to Mauritius about this
systematic tax dodging and both agreed to launch joint
preventive measures. There is a hitch though. If India
wants capital inflow, Mauritius needs the revenue from
registration and hence the matter had to wait a decision.
Further, as many as 24 companies which arrived with a
slip of paper from the island were denied tax benefits
since their violation of the conditions was very glaring.
The Authority on Advance Ruling, whose jurisdiction is
rarely invoked, has ruled that nominal tax is very much
in order. The I-T department is very confident of proving
its case in any forum and dismisses the fears of FIIs as
exaggerated and baseless. The liability will be token in
nature and will be in line with international practice.
The Finance Ministry has rolled back the tax demand and
has pledged not to harass FIIs for any of their actions,
past or present. Though unstated, it fears that
investment in the share market which is slowing down, may
stop altogether if the I-T officials get busy. It is
obviously an inflated fear, similar to what it felt when
MNCs, mostly the Japanese and South Korean ones, were
asked to deduct full income tax from their employees.
What they were doing was to pay part of the salary here
and the bulk in their own country. Despite the nervous
Finance Ministry, the I-T department politely persevered
and added more than Rs 500 crore to the revenue. It is
regrettable that the Minister himself got involved in
what one commentator has dubbed a surrender and, again,
doing all this not subtly and behind the scene, but
loudly and demonstratively. India should be seen as
growing in self-confidence and it has a missed chance.
UNION Law Minister Ram Jethmalani by training is a lawyer and by temperament someone who loves courting controversy. As a lawyer he has been trained to present the truth as it ought to be presented in a court of law. On the rare occasion he speaks what he perceives to be the truth. His criticism of the provisions of the repackaged TADA Bill would easily qualify to be placed in the rarest of rare category. No lawyer is expected to speak the truth without fear or favour and that too without being under oath to do so. Mr Jethmalani has done just that and with amazing clarity. The points he has raised against the old provisions being replaced by a more diabolical Bill are both legally sound and morally right. It is a different matter that his arguments may not be politically correct considering that Union Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani refuses to look him in the eyes and state with conviction why the draconian law is being repackaged and not scrapped. TADA in its original form proved totally ineffective in stamping out terrorism and militancy from the country. But it did prove to be an effective instrument of state terror in the hands of unscrupulous politicians, bureaucrats and policemen. TADA was used for settling personal scores or for eliminating inconvenient individuals. Between life as a TADA prisoner [without trial] and death most would have preferred the latter. Why? Because of the scale of abuse of those booked for indulging in terrorist or other disruptive activities. Mr Advani may like to quote the views of Law Commission Chairman Jeevan Reddy to explain why he is not willing to dilute the contents of the draft Bill. Mr Justice Reddy, who has helped frame the provisions of the new TADA, believes that the new set of proposals are more humane than the provisions in the earlier version.
Mr Jethmalani has been a
vocal critic of the anti-terrorist laws per se because in
his view terrorism is one of those rare and
peculiar offences that does not lend itself to treatment
by law. His argument against anti-terrorist laws is
based on the fact that from 1985, ever since the
statute was passed, terrorism has not decreased,
terrorism has increased in volume and in the extent of
its operations. It is surprising that the media has
not woken up to the fact that the so-called
humane TADA seeks to clip its wings by taking
away from it the universally accepted right to
information. The proposed replacement of the old
anti-terrorist law seeks to place terrorists and those
suspected of indulging in disruptive activities beyond
the reach of journalists. An enterprising journalist can
end up serving a jail term of up to three years for
daring to base his report on his or her meeting with
terrorists. Years ago when the British government sought
the conviction of a television journalist for producing a
film based on his meeting with Irish militants, the court
upheld the right of the Press to seek from anyone and
share with its readers or viewers information which it
believes needs to be made public, without having to
disclose the source of information or the identity of the
contacts. Is it to be presumed that the
Indian State expects to eliminate terrorism and related
activities only through putting unwarranted limits on the
freedom of the Press to gather information without any
let or hindrance from any source and share it with its
readers or viewers, as the case may be?
THAT the pollution level in the country is already beyond acceptable limits and still increasing is well known. The government has woken up to this harsh reality only after the higher judiciary castigated it for inaction. Since then there has been a flurry of activity to curb the menace, particularly the pollution caused by automobiles. In its eagerness to do so, it has now granted permission for the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a fuel in motor vehicles. That means that vehicle owners will now be able to convert their vehicles from petrol to LPG without prior approval. This will give legitimacy to thousands of vehicles which have been clandestinely running on this fuel for a long time and encourage many others to follow suit. While cooking gas is regarded as an eco-friendly and cheap auto fuel it is made up of propane and butane, which are cleaner than diesel and petrol the switchover will require a lot of caution. The safety factor has to be taken into account fully before going in for large-scale conversions. In the past, there have been several instances where the vehicles running on LPG suddenly caught fire. As such, there is need for more stringent field tests. Fuels like LPG and CNG (compressed natural gas) have to be used extensively during the intense heat of May and June before they are considered safe. The experiments conducted so far in cities like Delhi have not been conclusive. Most of the buses fitted with CNG kits have developed numerous technical snags.
There are several
related issues which also have to be taken into account.
The foremost is the question of supply. There are very
few LPG or CNG outlets in the country. Till a nationwide
network is available, it will be foolhardy to go in for
conversions. It is reported that it takes more than 35
minutes for a bus to get its tank filled. This can be a
serious drawback, considering that it will lead to long,
unmanageable queues at various filling stations even if
they are adequate in number. The government will also
have to ensure that the conversion kits are of dependable
quality because any compromise can be fatal not only for
the person driving the vehicle but many others on the
road. The economics of using the fuel will have to be
worked out in detail. It was given out last year that the
cost of the fuel of a CNG bus is expected to be about Rs
3.67 per km as compared to about Rs 2.68 per km in case
of diesel. Since then, there has been a sharp increase in
the price of gas. As such, the impact of the conversion
has to be fully worked out. There is need for reorienting
automobile manufacturers because it is better if the
vehicles that come out of the factory are designed for
using LPG or CNG instead of converting them at a later
stage. At the same time, it is necessary that the sulphur
content in diesel does not exceed 0.05 per cent and the
benzene content in petrol is also reduced. Taxi drivers
are right in their protests that much of the pollution is
caused because the fuel available in the country is not
WARNING that China will never accept independence for Taiwan, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji on March 15 threatened the people of Taiwan that they would vote for a pro-independence presidential candidate at their peril. Pointing to a slide in Taiwans stock market on the eve of the election, he said some Taiwanese fear a pro-independence leader could take them into a war with China and these worries follow clear logic. The people of Taiwan are standing at a very critical historical juncture. So let me give advice to all the people of Taiwan: dont act just on impulse. Otherwise you will regret it very much and it will be too late to repent, Zhu thundered.
Zhu also took aim at the USA, although he caught himself as he started to say America and instead said a certain country. He accused the USA of delaying Chinas unification with Taiwan, trying to make China a potential enemy and threatening intervention. Switching from Chinese to emphatic English, Zhu quoted US President in a recent speech calling for a shift from threats to dialogue across the Taiwan Strait. It would have been better to call for a shift from threats to dialogue across the Pacific Ocean, Zhu added.
The people of Taiwan ignored Zhus threat. On March 18 the leader of Taiwans pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party ended more than half a century of Nationalist rule with a dramatic win in presidential elections. Immediately after the elections, the President-elect, Chen Shui-Bian, offered to travel to China for reconciliation talks and said he welcomed a visit to the island by the Chinese President, Jiang Zemin. He said he wanted to talk with Chinese leaders about opening direct trade, travel and investment links between the two countries.
Now the question is: if a conflict involving China and Taiwan arises in East Asia where US interests are at stake, would an American President decide to intervene as in 1990-91 Gulf War, risking the annihilation of Los Angeles in exchange for the destruction of Shanghai? If Washington having never directly confronted another nuclear power in battle blinks at this challenge, could China, boosted by its upgraded nuclear and conventional forces, make territorial gains? Any answer to this question requires an examination of Western perception of the China threat, Beijings strategic intentions and capabilities, and the implications of Chinese muscle flexing.
Since the early 1990s the notion of a China threat has quietly spread from East Asian journalists to the Western security analysts. They have pointed to the following trends. First, the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), numbering about three million, is the post-Cold War worlds largest military machine and looks increasingly sustainable on the back of the worlds fastest-growing economy. Third, the post-Gulf War Beijing leadership, dazzled by modern warfare, is now unified and determined to eliminate Chinas defence inadequacies. Fourth, the acquisition of advanced weaponry from Russia could produce a major advance in the PLAs defence capability. And fifth, China, either by design or by momentum, could fill the power vacuum created in the region by the reduced military presence of the USA and former Soviet Union.
Yet, some China-watchers consider Chinese efforts to improve its military force almost hopelessly incompetent and therefore unimportant. This judgement is grounded in several observations. First, it is quite impossible for the PLA with its lamentably antiquated pre-1970 Soviet vintage to catch up with the West. As China upgrades its defence technology, other powers of the West advance even more. Second, Chinese leaders have placed top national priority on economic development, which has compelled them to reduce the PLAs size and budget. Indeed, the militarys share of the budget dropped from 17.5 per cent ($5.8 billion) in 1988 to 8.3 per cent in 1998 and the number of troops shrank from 4.8 million in 1988 to 3.2 million in 1998. Third, in the 1995 meeting of Chinas Central Military Commission the countrys highest military command shifted national defence policy away from preparation for fighting an early war, a large war and a nuclear war to peacetime construction.
Consequently, an increased proportion of Chinas defence-industrial production up to 65 per cent by 1998, consisted of civilian goods. This trend reinforced the perception of many observers that China is demilitarising. Fourth, the PLAs doctrinal change from fighting a Maoist peoples war to waging a peoples war under modern conditions has produced considerable conceptual confusion among soldiers. The former strategy, characterised by luring an enemy deep into the country for annihilation through attrition, seems contradictory to the latter, which requires forward and positional defence close to Chinas borders. This overhaul of defence policy has left the PLA with inadequate manpower to fight a labour intensive peoples war.
Fifth, both the political clout and the social status of the PLA have been weakened, adversely affecting the armys combat capabilities. The loss of political influence had hindered the generals ability to obtain funding for modernisation.
Furthermore, the emergence of a class of wealthy entrepreneurs has deprived the military of its formerly envied social status and eroded the morale of the army.
Finally, the extensive economic activities of the PLA soldiers have reduced their combat training time and spawned corruption. Greed erodes military discipline and weakens the esprit de corps of the troops.
However, the perception of an under-funded, under-equipped, under manned, and under-trained PLA in a defence-oriented China needs to be qualified. Some analysts now suggest that Beijings strategic intentions have been underestimated, that the PLAs efforts to improve its capabilities have been underrated, and that the implications of Chinas military modernisation have been overlooked.
Beijings determination to build up the PLA reflects deep-seated nationalistic sentiments in reaction to past foreign humiliations, and therefore has never wavered, even the pace of military modernisation was apparently sacrificed to economic development. As Jiang Zemin said in May, 1996, Quadrupling Chinas gross industrial and agricultural product means that by the end of this century, our cherished goal of building up Asias strongest military force will be an easier job.
Chinas nuclear weapons have become more survivable through cave-basing, road mobility and strategic submarine deployment. Without fanfare, Beijing has acquired a second-strike capability by the end of the Cold War, just when most of the other declared nuclear powers begun to scale down their strategic arsenals. China has so far conducted as many as 45 nuclear tests and its nuclear forces today include a triad of land-based missiles. Bombers and submarine-launched ballistic missiles remain the strongest element of the present Chinese nuclear arsenal. China has about 20 DF-5 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with a striking range of 13,000 km (8,100 miles). It operates a single nuclear submarine (SSBN), the XIA, armed with 12 Julian-1 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with a range of 17,00 km (1,000 miles).
The Chinese air force has more than 100 medium range H-5 and H-6 bombers, some of which are nuclear capable. With a flying range of more than 3,000 km, the H-6 can reach all Asian countries, but its capability to penetrate air defence systems is poor. The H-7, the first supersonic and the only modern bomber in China, is being developed by the Xian aircraft company. This all-weather bomber will be capable of carrying out nuclear missions for the Chinese air force and navy.
As for intermediate-range and long-range missiles, in addition to the DF-5s, China has at least 10 DF-4 land based missiles with a striking ranges of 1,700 and 1,800 km, respectively. On the whole, the Chinese strategic nuclear force includes 20 ICBMs, 80 IRBMs, 120 nuclear capable bombers, and 12 SLBMs.
For its conventional forces, the PLA has applied a gradual and discriminating approach to modernisation. Since the mid-1980s, elite troops, called first units (so named to symbolise the power of punch) have been selectively established. These soldiers are better-trained, better equipped, better paid, and therefore better prepared for combat than regular PLA troops. By 1998, between 400,000 and 500,000 soldiers, and a large number of marines, have been enlisted in these units.
Although some observers
may question Beijings claim that these soldiers
could reach any Asian territory within 10 hours, this
boast has become credible with intense training, the
acquisition of 10 Russian heavylift aircraft, and the
increased efficiency of converting Chinese civilian
transports for troops carrying at short notice. No
wonder, Chinas neighbours, particularly those who
have territorial dispute with China, consider this a
direct threat to their security. The Chinese leaders have
claimed that they could quickly cap a regional conflict
and then, as victor, pursue a diplomatic solution that
serves Chinas policy of economic development.
VLADIMIR Putin was elected as the new Russian President on March 26. Perhaps, it is only in Russia where it could be possible that a person who was not a politician and was unknown until August last year when he was appointed the Prime Minister in place of Sergei Stepashin, could win the presidential election. He was a career officer in the dreaded KGB, and its successor, the Federal Intelligence Science. The astute former Russian President Boris Yeltsin found in Putin his successor when the latter decided to punish Chechen rebels who were blamed for September explosions in the country.
It is an irony of history that neither Yeltsin who was first elected President in 1991 before the disintegration of Soviet Union nor Putin who has been elected President now, belongs to any political party and has any declared agenda for economic recovery, social peace and political stability. In September last, the inter-regional movement Unity was established and quickly announced its support to the new Prime Minister without any published programme.
The Unity Block, also known as the Bear, official leaders are Sergei Shoigu, current Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander Karelin (a world champion wrestler) and Alexander Gurov (a retired police major-general). Its other members are nationally unknown athletes, regional bureaucrats and government officers. It secured 23 per cent of the vote in the parliamentary elections in December last year. Incidentally, the Union of Right Forces, a coalition of democratic and reform-oriented parties and movements, announced their support to Putins candidature in the presidential election. Before Yeltsin resigned on the eve of new year and Putin was appointed the Acting President. The Union of Right Forces passed the 5 per cent barrier in the parliamentary elections and its prominent leaders Anatoly Chubais and Sergei Kiriyenko publicly supported Putin and the Chechen war before the presidential election.
Putin secured 52 per cent of the popular vote, defeating his nearest rival, the Communist leader, Gennady Zyuganov, who unexpectedly polled 30 per cent of the vote in the presidential election. He accused the government of falsifying the election results, claiming the Communist vote was more than 40 per cent.
Acknowledging Zyuganovs strong electoral showing, Putin said that the Kremlin would have to walk to meet the expectations of Communist voters. The newly elected President will tentatively take oath on May 5 and thereafter he would announce his new Prime Minister whose nomination has to be ratified by Parliament. In the current situation Putin may not confront the Parliamentary opposition in the approval of his Cabinet as Yeltsin encountered many times.
Unlike Yeltsin, Putin was never a member of the Communist Party and has no past political prejudices and commitments. As Prime Minister and an acting President his major policy decision was to crush the Chechen rebellion and preserve the sovereignty and integrity of the weak and humiliated the country which has lost its super-power status and has been confronted with serious economic social, political and security problems.
Putins image is that of an energetic young 47-year-old strong leader who will bring back lost prestige of the country in the international community, win the bloody war in Chechnya, crush the corrupt oligarchs and mafia and revive the economy of the country. He knows his task ahead and limitations in bringing back the country on the rails. The level of expectations is very high, people are tired and struggling and they are hoping for things to get better, but miracles do not happen, he told a Press conference.
In the Russian Constitution the President has enormous powers. It is feared that as a former KGB Colonel, he may become dictator and may be acceptable to general public because people want discipline and rule of law. But the former Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin believes that a time of political adventurist and experiments is over in Russia. Though democratic institutions are still weak, it is unthinkable that the dictatorship will return in Russia.
Putin is likely to take stringent measures to revive economy and maintain law and order in the country. He has not opposed the liberal economy but he is also in favour of reviving public sector. Much will depend on Putins willingness to challenge the tycoons that dominate much of the Russian economy.
Apart from countering challenges of tycoons, Putin has to undertake serious economic reforms to expand assistance by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, rescheduling high Russian debt and encourage foreign investment. He cannot afford to adopt confrontationist posture towards the West, especially the USA. In this respect he may encounter two challenges. Washington has been critical of current Russian military operation in Chechnya and called for peaceful resolution of the crisis. But Putin cannot withdraw armed forces from Chechnya until restoring Moscows authority over the rebellious republic.
In the recent past, Moscow has strongly opposed Washingtons plans for a limited anti-missile defence programme. During his February meetings with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Putin reportedly favoured to preserve the principles of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The Clinton administration hopes that there is a possibility of bargaining on the issue but the Russian military is strongly opposed to the anti-missile programme. Any American move to deploy new missile defence system may not only strain bilateral relations but also jeopardise arms control measures.
It may be recalled that NATOs air strikes on Yugoslavia to resolve the Kosovo crisis led to snapping of Russian relations with the military block. Putin has recently restored ties with NATO and he has expressed his willingness to strengthen relations with the West but they may be damaged if the West adopts uncompromising positions on any critical issue.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, said correctives would be made in Russias foreign policy. He indicated that the services of Foreign Ministry would be actively used for promoting economic interest overseas. Even before the new Cabinet appointed, Putin decided to appoint a new Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of Asia. Alexander Losynko has replaced Grigory Karasin, who is going to Britain as Russias ambassador. There are indications that Putin will pay an official visit to India this year and finalise the strategic partnership arrangement.
The newly elected Russian President, Putin has difficult domestic and foreign agenda. He will have to select a good team to meet the challenges. He has to move cautiously to meet the expectations of Russians and emerge as a successful statesman. INFA
popularity of Sonia
ALL over Mumbai, at the moment, there are hoardings of Sonia Gandhi, painted in bright oranges and greens so garish that they look as if they might be those luminous paints that make traffic signs shine at night. They make Sonia look like a slightly over the hill starlet and have, for mysterious reason, Arjun Singh looming in the background like an evil spirit. The hoardings are supposed to be a gesture of welcome to her but considering the resentment building up within the Congress against her leadership and her coterie, of which Arjun Singh is considered evil influence number one, they have an ominous quality under the bright paint.
Resentment is spreading at such a pace that even I, a known opponent of foreign born Prime Ministers am currently feeling quite sorry for Sonia Gandhi. If she, poor thing, had been able to wander about incognito even around the dilapidated corridors of the Congress Party headquarters in Delhi she would have discovered long ago that all is not well. She would not have needed to wait for the slap she got in Uttar Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha elections or the kick that came from West Bengal. For those of you who do not carefully follow Rajya Sabha elections may I remind you that Congress candidates, handpicked by Madame herself, lost leading to dissident voices suddenly being heard from a political party that is used to being run like a feudal durbar.
If Sonia were not living behind heavily fortified walls of security and if she could wander about the drawing rooms of Delhi, as she once used to, she would have been quite amazed at the number of supposed loyalists who are currently questioning her leadership. The best place in Delhi to pick up gossip and rumours is at Delhis numerous political parties. These are events at which politicians, journalists, socialites and sundry others mingle in air-conditioned drawing rooms or pleasantly cool gardens.
At one such garden party, recently, in the home of an ex-Minister I nearly keeled over with shock when one of her most vocal supporters said; When she ordered that review of the debacle in the elections I told her then that she did not need a review and I could tell her that the main reason was her projection of herself as Prime Minister. This was a gentleman who during the campaign had refused to appear on a television programme I was anchoring because of what he described as my virulence against the Congress Party.
Since then I have spent some time making inquiries in Congress circles and have found that there is a consensus building up that she should announce that she has no plans to be Prime Minister. Another loyalist I spoke to put it this way. We know that her being a foreigner puts off a lot of ordinary Indians. And, really, if she were to announce that she has no intentions of being anything other than party President it could be the beginning of a Congress revival.
When I asked this gentleman whether he had the courage to tell his leader to her face he looked at me as if he were suddenly talking to a complete idiot and then proceeded to explain gently that nobody had the courage to tell her anything to her face. For a start, he said, it was far from easy to meet the leader. In fact, it had always been easier to meet Rajiv Gandhi, or even the mighty Indira, than it was the meet their heir. You have to go through George (her secretary) and he decides whether you will be allowed to meet her or not. In order to decide this you have to tell him why you want to see her and if someone has something unpleasant to say you can be sure that you will never get an appointment.
George, according to others I talked to, is a wall of security on his own and he clearly performs his function at the behest of the leader. So, a frank exchange of views with the Congress President is a near impossibility and even were it a possibility any information you might succeed in passing on is then measured against what the coterie has to say. The coterie seems to consist almost entirely of Arjun Singh.
For reasons that are not hard to fathom this politician of yesteryear is the most unpopular figure in the Congress Party. Nobody can understand why Sonia Gandhi appears to be so much in his thrall that he is virtually the only person who has her ear. Party workers point out that he is unable to win even his own Lok Sabha seat so he is definitely not a man with his ear to the ground which makes his popularity with Madame President even more puzzling. Other than him the coterie seems to consist of sycophants like Madhavrao Scindia, Manmohan Singh and Natwar Singh who would never dream of telling Sonia anything that might upset her.
Below this conspiracy of silence at the top, though, dissidence is now simmering to almost boiling point. It appears to be provoked not just by the aloofness and unavailability of the leader but also by her inability to build up the party organisation. Congress people point out that despite the electoral debacle that brought the party its lowest number of seats in Parliament ever, despite a hefty report authored by Mani Shankar Aiyer into the debacle, nothing at all has happened to rectify the things that went wrong. One of the most important of these is the fact that the party has lost touch with ordinary people mainly because all positions of importance are controlled by power brokers rather than real leaders.
A Sonia loyalist I spoke to said that there was increasing awareness within the party that it could start wooing back middle class voters who were already disenchanted with the BJP because of the resurgence of the RSS. But, these voters would stick with the BJP as long as they knew that the choice was between an Indian and a foreign Prime Minister. Why do you think the BJP is doing absolutely nothing to bring that Bill to prevent persons of foreign origin to hold high office? They will never bring that Bill because they know that it is best for them to have Sonia at the head of the Congress Party.
Sonia Gandhi continues to run the Congress Party in the autocratic fashion she learned from her late husband and mother-in-law. What she appears not to have discovered is that they got away with their style of functioning only because they could bring in the votes. She has so far shown no ability to do this in sufficient numbers.
Its still too
early to write the epitaph of our oldest political party
but there seems little doubt that if things continue as
they are the Congress Party could end up even weaker than
it already is. Sonia Gandhis only solution appears
to be rallies. So, she has announced plans to tour the
country organising rallies against the government. This
might help pull in crowds, here and there, but it is
unlikely to quickly joining the ranks of dissidents.
EVIDENTLY, the appeals recently made on behalf of the Secretary of State to educated British youth have not met with the requisite measure of response. We can put no other construction on the announcement just made by the Sunday Times that the Secretary of State now intends taking the field himself and issuing an official appeal of British young men to come forward in larger numbers for the Indian Civil Service.
The spectacle of a
Government committed through the mouth of the Sovereign
to the policy of conferring the fullness of political
liberty on India at the earliest possible date, straining
every nerve to defer the day of freedom by a more
vigorous pursuit of its policy of filling the superior
ranks of the public services with Europeans is, indeed, a
sight for the gods.
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