Government may cancel Kingfisher Airlines: Ajit SinghNEW DELHI: Government may cancel Kingfisher Airlines licence if safety norms and financial viabilityconditions are not met, aviation minister Ajit Singh told reporters on Tuesday.The cash-strapped carrier, which is now operating 18 planes, has failed to stick to its recovery plan, Singhsaid.Kingfisher Airlines, which has a debt of $1.3 billion, is facing collapse as banks have refused to lend more forday-to-day operations.MUMBAI: Shares in beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines tumbled close to a record low early on Tuesday on fearsthat the debt-laden carrier could lose its flying licence.The firm dived 11.9 percent to 17.7 rupees in early trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange, close to their all-time-low of 17.55 rupees reached in November.The regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has summoned Kingfisher chief Vijay Mallya fora meeting on Tuesday in New Delhi to discuss its future, media reports said Tuesday. "We have summoned theairline chief to explain his position," Indias civil aviation regulator Bharat Bhushan said, according to anewspaper.Kingfisher has been forced to cancel flights because of a strike by pilots and other operational difficulties,running around 100 flights a day instead of its scheduled 175.A spokesman for the airline declined to comment on the reported meeting with the DGCA on Tuesday.In an separate development Anil Kumar Ganguly, an independent director, quit the Kingfisher board on healthgrounds -- the second director to exit within a week.The announcement comes just days after former tennis star and sports commentator Vijay Amritraj left thecompany due to an "increase in his travel schedule and commitments".Gangulys exit means that all the independent directors of the firm have now quit in the past six months.Kingfisher last week announced it was cutting some of its overseas flights in order to reduce costs.Its bank accounts have been frozen by Indian authorities due to the non-payment of taxes and it has beendropped by a vital global payments and booking system run by the International Air Transport Association(IATA).The carrier has never turned a profit since its launch in 2005 and owes millions of dollars to suppliers, lendersand staff.Mallya has promised a full recovery plan for the carrier shortly and a solution to the ongoing pilots row.
Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy was today elevated to Cabinet rank to take over as RailwayMinister replacing Dinesh Trivedi, who was forced to resign after the Congress caved in to MamataBanerjees pressure.Widely expected to rollback at least the lower class passenger fare hike proposed by Trivedi in the RailwayBudget, Roy, 57, was sworn in as Cabinet minister at a special but brief ceremony by President PratibhaPatil at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.He was currently serving as Union Minister of State for Shipping and had earlier served as Minister ofState in the Railway Ministry before Trivedi took over last July.The ceremony was attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the UPAchairperson and Cabinet ministers including ministers of Tinamool Congress.Trivedi was forced out by Trinamool Congress after he incurred the wrath of party chief and West BengalChief Minister Mamata Banerjee who was opposed to his proposal to increase fares in the Railway Budgetlast Wednesday. Trivedi resigned on Sunday.The Congress leadership caved in to the Trinamool demand for replacing him with Roy.Yesterday, Mamata had indicated that the hike in the lower class fares proposed in the Railway Budgetmay be rolled back.
KOLKATA: A bodyguard of Trinamool Congress MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar allegedly urinated on twopassengers on the Rajdhani Express early on Monday. He then pulled out his service revolver and threatenedthem into silence.Aryak Dutta, one of the passengers, is a Calcutta high court lawyer. He could not name the policeman in hiscomplaint since he was listed as MPs attendant on the AC-II coach. Kakoli was in a first class coach with herdog. She did not take any calls. Late Monday night, she sent an SMS saying, "Nothing happened." Dutta said, "Iwas going to Allahabad with a client. The man occupying berth 19 said he was Dastidars security guard. Hesaid the MP was in an AC-I coupe."Dutta was sleeping on the upper berth when, around 2am, he was woken by some movement. "The policemanwas standing nearby, drunk. He was urinating on my client who was on the lower berth. My client cried out andI pushed the policeman lightly. He lost his balance but straightened up and continued to urinate on his legs andmy luggage," said Dutta.The cop then whipped out a revolver. "My client was livid and demanded the policeman to clean up. I advisedhim not to quarrel with an armed man. Other passengers had woken up by then. We called out to the TTE andthe coach attendant," Dutta said. Dutta and his client wrote in the complaint book and later filed an FIR atAllahabad station.Railway officials said they do not know if the passenger mentioned in the complaint is a policeman. "Wehavent yet seen the complaint as the train has not yet returned from New Delhi. We have spoken to the trainstaff and they confirmed a complaint was lodged. We dont know whether he was a policeman. He wasregistered as an attendant to the MP. It is alleged that he misbehaved with other passengers," a railway officialin Kolkata said.Dutta claimed his clients clothes and their luggage were spoilt. Dastidar, who is in Delhi, refused to take callsbut replied to an SMS requesting her to comment on the matter. Allahabad GRP sources confirmed they hadreceived a complaint against a Rajdhani passenger travelling on berth 19 of the AC-II tier coach.MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar was in a Ist class coach with her dog. She did not take any calls. Late on Monday,she sent an SMS saying, "Nothing happened."
History was written or rewritten in different ways in every state that went to the polls to elect a newAssembly in the last few weeks, and in all except one, the Congress was the biggest loser.Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi party came to power in Uttar Pradesh, the politically most important statein the country, on its own for the first time. The Akali Dal-BJP combine in Punjab came back to power inPunjab, the first time a government has beaten the anti-incumbency sentiment in decades in that state. TheBJP will form a government in Goa for the first time on its own strength. Uttarakhand will get a hung Assemblyfor the first time in its history. The Congress swept to power in Manipur, again setting a record, though thevictory on the edge of India’s political map is poor consolation for the party for the setbacks elsewhere.The best trophy was taken by the Samajwadi Party, which completely appropriated and benefitted from thepopular sentiment against the Mayawati government. The BJP continued its dismal show in the state. Thehype created around Rahul Gandhi’s high- voltage campaign came to nothing in terms of seats. The party mayhave slightly improved its vote share, but the hopes of a political revival it had for UP are in tatters.Its poor performance has also raised questions about Rahul Gandhi’s ability to win elections for the party. TheBJP’s relatively better performance in Uttarakhand does not lessen the gravity of its failure in UP. Even inUttarakhand, the hung Assembly is actually a mark of the BJP’s failure, because it had actually ruled the state.In Punjab the ruling alliance has come back to power, but the BJP lost some seats, and the victory was on theback of Akali Dal’s strength. The Congress, which had an opportunity to win in Punjab, has only itself to blamefor losing it. The verdict in Goa, where the BJP won impressively, was a resounding rejection of a governmentwhich was steeped in corruption.There may be a number of local and specific reasons for the way the people gave their verdict in every state.But running through all of them were common themes also. These were strong sentiments against corruptionand rejection of caste and communalism as the sole determinants of electoral behaviour, not just in a literatestate like Goa but also in a socially backward polity like UP’s. The voter has spoken with one voice and how.To describe Tuesdays election results as stunning would be an understatement given that incredible stories haveemerged in at least three of the five States that went to the polls over the past six weeks. Overall, the verdictdealt a devastating blow to the Congress. The party lost Goa. It failed to wrest Punjab and scraped through avirtual tie in Uttarakhand — both of whose incumbent governments had been considered pushovers. And itcrashed to the bottom in Uttar Pradesh where Rahul Gandhi led a shrill, high profile campaign. Only in Manipurdid the Congress sail through comfortably. This election got its edge-of-the-seat excitement from twoextraordinary performances and one cliffhanger: In U.P, the Samajwadi Party led by the father-son team ofMulayam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav demolished every barrier in sight to capture more seats than any victoriousparty had in two decades. The SP powerhouse pushed arch rival Bahujan Samaj Party to a distant second, withthe rear being brought up by the BJP and the Congress-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance. In Punjab, the ShiromaniAkali Dal-BJP combine made history by becoming the first government to retain power in 46 years. InUttarakhand, the BJP and the Congress ended neck and neck, with the latter enjoying an edge because of thesupport from independents.Mulayam Singh undoubtedly contributed to the SPs phenomenal success in U.P. but it was the affable youngerYadav who was the SPs campaign driver. Through dogged effort and a positive campaign, he transformed anideologically fuzzy party — which had been severely weighed down by the Amar Singh-Bollywood baggage —into one that was rid of its goonish image and looked aspirationally young and modern. That the SP surpassedthe BJPs1991 tally of 221 seats achieved during the Ram wave speaks for itself. The BSP, which was uniquelyplaced with a committed core vote, has only itself to blame for squandering away a rare opportunity. Ms
Mayawati restored law and order and instituted several positive measures, especially towards the uplift of theDalit community. But her achievements faded when measured against the corruption of the administration andher own perceived arrogance. In the end, the statues she built for herself became a metaphor for the regimesobsessive self-interest. For all this though, it would be premature to write off the BSP, which even in defeat haspolled around 26 per cent, against an estimated 30 per cent by the SP. Unfortunately, there is no suchconsolation for the Congress: the party was routed in U.P., surrendered the anti-incumbency advantage inPunjab, was nearly edged out in Uttarakhand and performed abysmally in Goa. It does not help the Congressthat the BJP has emerged with a much better score at the end of Elections 2012, which might well become aturning point for both parties in their quest for power at the Centre two years from now.Key party position - Party lead position in bracketsUttar Pradesh (403/403)SP 218 (6), BSP 76 (4), BJP 45 (2), Congress 26 (2), RLD 9Uttarakhand (70/70)BJP 29 (2), INC 28 (4), BSP 3, IND 3Punjab (117/117)SAD 56, INC 46 , BJP 12, IND 3Manipur (46/60)INC 42, AITC 7 , NPF 4 , MSCP 5., LJSP 1Goa (33/40)BJP 21, INC 9, IND 5 (0), GVP 2, MGP 3 , NCP 0Election 2012, Anti CongressThe Dynasty is angry. The Dynasty is frustrated. The Dynasty is rolling up its sleeves. The Dynasty is, literally,tearing up the Opposition parties‟ right to make promises in their manifestos, claiming that right exclusively toitself. The Dynasty has ordered its minions to defy the Election Commission. The Dynasty is also parading itsseventh generation. In a side-show, its son-in-law is saying, “My time will also come.” The dynasticallyenslaved Congress party is doing all this and more in the ongoing elections to the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha.The Congress campaign in UP has so far presented three distinctive features, all of which show its growingdesperation. Firstly, Rahul Gandhi has so completely personalised his party‟s battle as to make the poll outcomea virtual referendum on his own leadership. In the process, he has demonstrated an unusual degree of anger,aggression and immaturity, which puts a big question mark over his suitability to become India‟s next primeminister. And make no mistake. Even a relative improvement in the Congress party‟s performance in UP—ithad won only 22 seats in the 403-member assembly in 2007—will embolden the Dynasty‟s sycophants todemand that Dr Manmohan Singh be replaced by the „Yuvaraj‟ ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls.
Secondly, the Congress party has, as a matter of deliberate strategy, chosen to communalise the UP elections inorder to wean away Muslim votes, which so far have remained the mainstay of the Samajwadi Party‟sdominance in state politics. The UPA government‟s poll-eve—and blatantly unconstitutional—decision ofcarving out a 4.5 per cent sub-quota for “minorities” within the 27 per cent OBC quota was quickly followed byLaw Minister Salman Khurshid‟s announcement that the reservation for “backward Muslims” (never mind thatthey are already covered in the OBC category) would be increased to 9 per cent.Realising perhaps that appeasement through a communal quota alone wasn‟t enough to take the Muslim vote-bank away from Mulayam Singh‟s party, which has promised an 18 per cent quota for all Muslims, Congressleaders then raked up the issue of the Batla House encounter in New Delhi in 2008. The Union Home Ministryhas unambiguously affirmed that the encounter was genuine. This hasn‟t deterred Digvijay Singh, SalmanKhurshid and other Congress campaigners from questioning their own government‟s integrity in this matter.Digvijay Singh, the Dynasty‟s chief mentor and spokesman, had similarly thrown his weight behind theludicrous theory that it was “Hindu terrorists” who killed police officer Hemant Karkare during the Pakistan-based terrorists‟ attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Khurshid even claimed at a rally in Azamgarh thatthe head of the Dynasty “cried bitterly” when she saw pictures of the terrorists killed by the cops in the BatlaHouse encounter.Why do Congress leaders demean Indian Muslims in this manner? Why do they believe that the only way toappeal to the hearts and minds of our Muslim brethren is to show that the latter sympathise with terrorists andanti-national elements? During a TV debate on this subject last week, I said that it is absolutely wrong to thinkthat all Muslims in Azamgarh and Batla House are either terrorists or sympathisers of terrorism. However, Ialso asked: “Isn‟t it rank communalism to whitewash acts of terrorism?” It‟s hardly surprising that the Congressmanifesto for UP elections doesn‟t even mention the word “security”. The Dynasty either believes that the stateand the nation face no danger at all from the operatives of SIMI, HuJI and ISI, who have found safe havens inmany parts of UP, or that mentioning this danger would alienate Muslim voters.The third element in the Congress strategy for UP, green-signalled by the Dynasty, is to defy even the ElectionCommission‟s model code of conduct if it comes in the way of the party‟s game plan to play the Muslim card.Two central ministers, Khurshid and Beni Prasad Verma, have already done so. The law minister provedhimself to be a lawless minister and, in the end, got away unscathed with a mere expression of regret over hiscontemptuous challenge to the EC‟s authority. What was more significant in this entire episode was howPriyanka Gandhi defended Khurshid‟s offence. “We are a democracy,” she smugly rationalised, adding, “Theminister is free to give his opinion. The EC is also free to give its opinion.” Look how the Dynasty wasdismissively disparaging a Constitutional body.Communalising the UP election is not an after-thought for the Congress party. It is consistent with theDynasty‟s realisation—nay, supposition—that the only way for it to survive is to play the minority appeasementcard more and more brazenly. Remember the Communal Violence Bill mooted by the National AdvisoryCouncil? Turning the basic canon of justice upside down, this poisonous bill explicitly criminalises the majoritycommunity, presumptuously adjudging it guilty for any and every incident of communal violence or tension. Itaxiomatically regards the minority community to always be a victim, irrespective of the facts of the case.India must marginalise the Dynasty for the sake of re-establishing genuine secularism in our country, for doingaway with the artificial and British-conspired majority-minority schism, for enabling our democracy to deliverwhat it truly promises—equal opportunity and a level-playing field for all—and for paving the way for goodgovernance, so essential for the integral development of every section of our diverse society. Hopefully, UP,where the Dynasty was born, will ensure its defeat in this election.Elephant trampled
This is as decisive as it can get. The pundits had gone to town predicting a hung assembly for UP, with dark mutteringsfrom certain quarters about the necessity of President`s rule. Instead, in a verdict that will reverberate nationally, thestate`s supposedly fragmented electorate has powered the Samajwadi Party (SP) into staging a stunning upset, pulling theplug on the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Just like the BSP last time the SP now is in a position to form agovernment on its own, without depending on coalition allies.UP`s decisive electoral shift underlines sweeping disaffection against the Mayawati government, as well as the SP`scapacity to leverage this. Squeezed out by regional players, the two national parties, the Congress and the BJP, have bothtaken sharp knocks. In particular, the verdict ought to set alarm bells ringing in Congress party headquarters. Not only didit finish fourth in UP despite tying up with the RLD, not to mention Rahul Gandhi`s high-voltage campaign, it has faredpoorly in other states with the sole exception of Manipur. The Congress needs to wake up and smell the anti-incumbencythat`s rising nationally against the UPA government, fuelled by rising prices, poor economic management and corruption.The BSP`s multiple governance failures too have come home to roost. Extravagant and showy political symbolism cannottake the place of responsive governance that stresses development and people`s livelihoods - including of dalits,Mayawati`s primary constituency. Mayawati`s aloof mode of governance that centralised sweeping powers in the chiefminister`s office, her interference in transfers and appointments of bureaucrats, or the crippling failure to deliver basicservices like health - none of these have helped matters. The UP verdict confirms a recent healthy trend, seen in votingpatterns across India. If politicians don`t perform, the electorate is watching and will punish them at the hustings.Mayawati`s losses have transformed into SP`s unprecedented gains. But the man stealing the poll show is AkhileshYadav, the architect of the SP`s image makeover. The 39-year-old SP leader had successfully used moderncommunication strategies, as well as grassroots organisational network, to reach out to voters. He has also worked todistance the party from toughs and corrupt leaders who had sullied its image during its last tenure in power. This timeMulayam and Akhilesh can`t afford to squander their huge mandate. They need to deliver on the SP`s image makeover byproviding the clean, efficient, responsive and modern governance that the electorate yearns for.It`s rare for the foibles of the Centre to impinge on assembly polls which are usually fought on state-specific issues andlocal concerns. But after its debacle in the just-concluded elections, the Cong-ress can no longer pretend that a year ofscams and non-performance by the Manmohan Singh government in New Delhi has had no effect on its fortunes in thestates.Of the five states that went to polls, it has managed to shine only in tiny Manipur, which has followed traditional votingpatterns of the vulnerable northeast states by opting for the party that holds power in New Delhi. It has lost Goa, failed tocapitalise on anti-incumbency sentiments in Punjab and Uttarakhand and, most importantly, ended up a poor fourth inUttar Pradesh despite intensive, personalised campaigns by both the Gandhi scions, Rahul across UP and Priyanka in thefamily pocket boroughs of Amethi, Rae Bareli and Sultanpur.There is little doubt that the results reflect a national mood that has been building up over the past one year, helped alongby the anti-corruption campaigns of Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev to crystallise into a high degree of frustration withthe current dispensation. But if they are a setback for the Congress as the countdown for the next Lok Sabha electionsbegins, Rahul Gandhi has even more reason to worry.The takeaway for him from the party`s disastrous performance in UP is that he can no longer persist with his disingenuousstunt of insulating himself and his politics from the disarray at the Centre and spin an illusion of being an outsider in theparent superstructure. In the minds of the voters, there is little distinction and if Brand Manmohan Singh looks tarnished,Brand Rahul too has suffered.The carefully cultivated image of an angry young man railing at the money-eating elephant looked hollow whenjuxtaposed against the 2G and CWG scandals swirling around the Congress government at the Centre. His barbs aboutUP`s poor development record fell flat on the pot-holed roads of Amethi and Rae Bareli which wear a distinct look ofneglect today despite being constituencies of the country`s First Family. The goodies that he got the Centre to shower on
election-eve on the poverty-stricken farmers of Bundelkhand, the weavers of eastern UP and the OBC Muslims were toolittle, too late. The beneficiaries did not buy promises from someone whose party had ample opportunity to alleviate theirmisery, having held the reins of power in New Delhi for the past eight years.Contrast this with the positive note struck by the Samajwadi Party`s rising young star, Akhilesh Yadav, to whom must gothe lion`s share of the credit for the party`s remarkable turnaround. Akhilesh talked of the future with the promise ofchange. Because he did not carry the burden of an unpopular incumbent government, his forward-looking campaign hadtremendous resonance among new voters with rising aspirations. His open face and cool manner stood out in sharp reliefto Rahul`s dour, bearded look.In the weeks ahead, Rahul will surely introspect and analyse the reasons for his failure to connect with UP voters after somuch investment of time and money. While it may be a trifle unfair to blame the party`s poor showing on him alone, hewill have to accept that his biggest failing has been his inability to resurrect the Congress party`s defunct organisationalmachinery in the state.Brand Akhilesh rode on the back of a solid grassroots network created and nurtured by father Mulayam Singh. BrandRahul flew solo. In fact, the young Gandhi turned his back on whatever little organisation the Congress had left, expectinghis family name would serve as a magic wand. He may have generated some personal goodwill but hard-headed voterswere looking for local names and faces with 24x7 accessibility.It is always hasty to write off a party or a leader. The history of Indian politics is replete with stories of comeback kingsand queens: Indira Gandhi in 1980 after the 1977 debacle, Mamata Banerjee in 2011 after being nearly wiped out in WestBengal five years before that and many more.In any case, the winnability of a party in an election is often determined by the mistakes of its opponents. The BJP`snegative campaign and the pathetic challenge from a motley bunch of parties masquerading as a Third Front certainlyhelped the Congress to win a second successive term under Manmohan Singh in 2009.If at all the Congress can reclaim some of the ground it has lost because of a comatose government at the Centre, it willhave to start by putting governance back on track. Perhaps the best thing it can do is to let Manmohan Singh become avisible prime minister again while Rahul focusses on rebuilding the party organisation by infusing it with young blood.Both are formidable tasks with allies like the Trinamool Congress and the NCP already scouting around for new options,one of which is a nascent non-Congress, non-BJP front of regional satraps. Rahul and Manmohan Singh will have to cometogether on the same page for the Congress to tackle the challenges ahead.Performance scores over tall promisesTwo ruling parties ousted, two holding on to power and a neck-to-neck race in a fifth state — it was a confused electoralpastiche that EVMs unravelled as the counting of votes for the State Assembly elections was held on Tuesday. In whatwas the biggest popularity contest of politicians since the 2009 general elections, the Samajwadi Party was given a clearmandate to rule India‟s largest state of Uttar Pradesh for the next five years, replacing the Bahujan Samaj Party, headed byDalit icon and present Chief Minister Mayawati. In Punjab, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance was voted backto power, for the first time giving a break to the trend of alternating the ruling regimes in every election. While theCongress had the lone satisfaction of retaining its regime in Manipur, the BJP turned the tables on in coastal Goa and thetwo parties seemed headed towards a stalemate in Uttarakhand. The marginalisation of smaller flash parties, such asManpreet Singh Badal‟s People‟s Party of Punjab and the Peace Party and Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh, shows that theelectorate is not interested in non-serious spoilers.The results, like most thrown out by India‟s fast maturing electorate in the recent past, may have surprised pollsters,psephologists as well as stakeholders, but their passage was loud and clear. The voters are watching each major contenderwhile it performs its role as the ruling party or opposition, and deliver their judgment according to performance and notpromise. Vote-catching devices such as road shows and populist dole, such as job quotas can be effective only if the
people believe that they will be backed by ground action. There can be no better illustrative examples of this than thedefeat of Union law minister Salman Khurshid‟s wife in his home turf despite his attempt to woo the minorities bypromises of job quotas and the defeat of the Congress candidates in Gandhi family‟s strongholds Amethi and Rae Bareli.Local factors played a considerable role in these elections but the results, viewed in the backdrop of similar Assemblypolls held after the Congress‟ seeming resurgence in 2009, are bound to impact on the future course of politics in thenational arena. They demonstrate that the political space for national parties like the Congress and the BJP is shrinking.Correspondingly, powerful regional parties are getting more firmly entrenched in their respective terrains and are poisedto play a greater and more eloquent role in the shaping of the contours of the ruling dispensation at the Centre and itspolicies.The Congress will feel the tremors of this qualitative and quantitative change in the reconfiguration of Indian polity in thecoming Budget Session. The emboldened and regrouped regional political satraps like West Bengal Chief MinisterMamata Banerjee, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa have given noticeof confronting it on the question of dilution of the principles of federalism. They have forced the UPA to put on the holdpolicy decisions, like the National Counter Terrorism Centre and foreign direct investment in the retail sector. Tuesday‟sresults are bound to strengthen their ranks. If the Centre wants to recover its capacity to govern effectively, it will have toadopt a path of conciliation towards non-Congress state governments and revive the mechanisms for continuous and morefrequent consultations with them.Though the sustained emergence of regional parties in large parts of India poses an existential challenge to the so-callednational parties, it does not necessarily pose a threat to the politics of nationalism. Having held power in their respectivestates for long, each of them has participated in national governments for long stints. While safeguarding the politicalaspirations of the people they represent, they have shown tremendous commitment to protecting the nation‟s unity andcontributing towards its social and economic progress. Stronger and stable state governments can make the Centrestronger if different components of India‟s federal political administrative structure work in harmony. After all, it is thestate governments that are the vehicles of delivery for most centrally-sponsored and funded schemes.