The performance of the United Progressive Alliance government in its first five years in power presented a mixed bag of a few spectacular achievements and many dismal failures on the national security front. The successfully concluded Indo-US nuclear deal was a shining example of the government's single-minded resoluteness in furthering national interests in the face of stiff political opposition. The inability to speedily conclude major defence contracts to enhance national security preparedness in the face of growing threats and challenges, exemplifies the UPA's reluctance to grapple with systemic flaws in the procurement procedures and processes. It is a national shame that the budgetary allocations earmarked on the capital account for the modernisation of the armed forces continue to be sur-rendered year after year with complete lack of accountability.
With explosive flashpoints around India and an unstable internal security environment, the new government has its work cut out. Right on the top of its defence and security agenda should be the formulation of a comprehensive National Security Strategy, including internal security. The NSS should be formulated after carrying out an inter-departmental, interagency, multi-disciplinary strategic defence review. Such a review must take into account current and future threats, challenges and vulnerabilities in the context of the emerging regional security environment in India's area of strategic interest.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has declared several times that left wing extremism or Maoist terrorism is India's number one internal security threat. Yet, the central and state governments have not been able to launch a coordinated campaign to come to grips with the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Naxalite dominated areas that encompass 35 per cent of India's population. The weaponry, equipment, training standards and levels of junior leadership of the state and central police forces must be upgraded by an order of magnitude to enable them to face the growing challenges with professional competence and rising confidence. The Mumbai terror attacks [Images] of November 2008 added a new dimension to the threat of urban terrorism. While many decisions have been taken to enhance intelligence and post-strike investigative capabilities and it has been decided to gradually establish hubs for NSG commandos in various metros to increase responsiveness to terror attacks, the UPA government must work towards bringing about substantive improvement in counter-terrorism capabilities.
Though the probability of conventional conflict has receded, defence preparedness must not be compromised as long as outstanding territorial and boundary disputes with China and Pakistan are not satisfactorily resolved. The armed forces are now in the third year of the 11th Defence Plan (2007-12); yet, it has not yet been approved by the government. The government has not approved the long-term integrated perspective plan (LTIPP 2007-22) either. Defence procurement is being undertaken through ad hoc annual procurement plans, rather than being based on duly prioritised long term plans that are designed to systematically enhance India's combat potential.
These are serious lacunae as effective defence planning cannot be undertaken in a policy void. The government must commit itself to supporting long-term defence plans or else defence modernisation will continue to lag and the growing military capabilities gap with China's People's Liberation Army will assume ominous proportions.This can be done only by reviving the dormant National Security Council as defence planning is in the domain of the NSC and not the Cabinet Committee on Security, which deals with current and near-term threats and challenges and reacts to emergent situations.
Major defence procurement decisions that have been pending for long must be expedited. The army is still without towed and self-propelled 155mm howitzers for the plains and the mountains and needs to urgently acquire modern weapons and equipment for counter-insurgency operations. The navy has been waiting for long for the Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov) aircraft carrier, which is being refurbished in a Russian shipyard at exorbitant cost. The plan of the air force to acquire 226 multi-mission, medium-range combat air-craft in order to maintain its edge over the regional air forces is stuck in the procurement quagmire. India's nuclear forces require the Agni-III missile and nuclear-powered submarines with suitable ballistic missiles to acquire genuine deterrent capability. The armed forces do not have a truly integrated C4I2SR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Information, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) system for network-centric warfare, which will allow them to synergise their individual single-service capabilities into a cohesive whole.
All of these high-priority acquisitions will require extensive budgetary support. In case the defence budget continues to languish at less than two per cent of India's GDP -- compared with China's 3.5 per cent and Pakistan's 4.5 per cent plus US military aid -- it will not be possible for the armed forces to undertake any meaningful modernisation. The funds available on the capital account are grossly inadequate to suffice even for the replacement of obsolete weapons systems and equipment that are still in service well beyond their useful life cycles. The central police and para-military forces also need to be modernised as they are facing qualitatively greater threats while being equipped with obsolescent weapons.
The government must also immediately appoint a Chief of Defence Staff or a permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee to provide single-point advice to the CCS on military matters. Any further dithering on this key structural reform in higher defence management on the grounds of the lack of political consensus and the inability of the armed forces to agree on the issue will be extremely detrimental to India's interests in the light of the dangerous developments in India's neighbourhood. The logical next step would be to constitute tri-service integrated theatre commands to synergise the capabilities of individual services. International experience shows that such reform has to be imposed form the top down and can never work if the government keeps waiting for it to come about from the bottom up.
The softer issues that do not impinge immediately on planning and preparation for meeting national security challenges must never be ignored as these can have adverse implications in the long term. The numerous anomalies created by the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission report must be speedily resolved so that the morale of the armed forces is not undermined and they are able to attract and retain the right talent. In fact, the ham-handed handling of this issue has led to a dangerous 'them versus us' civil-military divide. This does not augur well for the country and the prime minister must take it as a personal challenge to bridge this gap quickly. The ex-servicemen too have had a raw deal and have been holding fasts for justice on their most legitimate demand of 'one rank-one pension'. Many of them have taken the extreme step of returning their medals to the President. One rank-one pension is an idea whose time has come and it must be implemented without further delay and without appointing any more committees of bureaucrats to look into the issue. While a department of ex-servicemen's welfare has been created in the ministry of defence in keeping with the UPA's Common Minimum Programme, there isn't a single ex-serviceman in it! Such measures do not generate confidence in the civilian leadership among serving soldiers and retired veterans. Finally, unbelievably, India is still without a National War Memorial!
(Writer is Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi)
Thumbs Up For Brand Manmohan
It’s a mandate that has surprised all, including Congress. Result: Manmohan Singh becomes only the second Prime Minister after Jawahar Lal Nehru to be re-elected to the chair
People of India have delivered a clear verdict, In the highly polarised and seemingly unpredictable general election of 2009 at a historic threshold of coalition politics in the country, the Indian people have given a clear-cut thoughtful verdict by voting for stability, predictability and moderation. Indians have clearly opt-ed for the centrist views in politics, diplomacy and economy. While taking up the
challenge to seek a renewed mandate from the people, the Congress projected Dr Manmohan Singh as the persona of predictability and stability in national politics. Sonia Gandhi provided much-needed balance in the Congress's public discourses. The Congress duo has obtained a pan-Indian approval. Nobody can doubt that after reading the much-awaited numbers.
India is alive and young, the nation is full of optimism. The world is looking at India with respect and hope to provide qualitative leadership in science and technology. Every night, young radiologists in Bangalore read CT scans e-mailed to them by emergency-room doctors in the U.S. Few modern Americans are surprised to find that their dentist or lawyer is of Indian origin, or are shocked to hear how vital Indians have been to California's high-tech industry. In ways big and small, Indians are changing the world.
That's possible because India--the second most populous nation in the world, and projected to be by 2015 the most populous--is itself being transformed. Writers like to attach catchy tags to nations, which is why you have read plenty about the rise of Asian tigers and the Chinese dragon. Now here comes the elephant. India's economy is growing more than 8% a year, and the country is modernizing so fast that old friends are bewildered by the changes that occurred between visits. The major credit of writing the entire script goes to present Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, though India is fortunate to have successive quality leadership in late Rajiv Gandhi, late PV Narsimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee since last three decade. All the leaders formulated developmental policy for the nation resulting in major surge in Indian position globally.
The Congress-led incumbent government has got such a convincing mandate that it is well-placed to provide a stronger government than it provided from 2004 to 2009. People can heave a sigh of relief that a period of political stability lies ahead for five years. The Congress will talk about inclusive growth as it did last time, but in the coming days the stock exchange will have reasons to rejoice as the Left parties are out of New Delhi's power structure.
The Prakash Karat-led era of Left dominance in New Delhi is ending on a highly controversial and humiliating note. No doubt, the Communist Party of India-Marxist is being rocked to its very foundations. A historic turning point is at hand for the Indian Left, comparable in magnitude to the split in 1964. For the conceivable future, the CPI-M will be forced into a mood of introspection and a painful course correction.
In sum, the quintessence of Election 2009 lies is that India still remains what it always has been through millennia -- a centrist country of people who opt for moderation and balance, especially in troubled times in their tumultuous history. Indian electorate have elected this government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh to fight economic downtrend, hostile border states promoting rouge ideologies and terrorism, growing naxal trouble challenging internal security and to counter corruption in public life to make government apparatus more transparent.
(Writer is Editor, Opinion Express Group)
It is NDA Vs UPA agenda; young leader with conventional mind set verses experience leader with new thought process
India needs stable and strong government
Setting a new agenda for Congress party ahead of the forthcoming Lok Sabha election, the young party general secretary Rahul Gandhi called for giving more representation to youth in electoral politics.
Pitching for the need of making "work" as the only criteria for selecting candidates for polls, the Amethi MP said, "Religion, caste, region or economic condition should be the criteria if we want genuine and promising youth leaders to join politics for serving the nation."
Addressing the grass-roots level Congress workers at a national convention in the capital, Rahul also said that though country has influential percentage of young population, youth does not find its convenient to join politics.
"They have that intention and energy to work for the community and for nation. They feel none raises the voice of people even after getting elected. We need to demolish all walls to make it convenient and reward for youth to join politics," the young leader said.
Taking up the case of block level and district level workers and their leaders, Rahul said that though they are responsible for party's victories and they lead the protests march their case are overlooked when it comes to distribution of tickets. I am strongly in favour of these people getting due share. We should not import someone else and ignore their role," the leader said.
The achievements of the UPA government were all the 52 schemes that were running in the country, but National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), Right To Information (RTI), Nuclear Agreement and debt waiver to the farmers would be the key issues, said Rahul Gandhi adding, ''implementation of acts like NREGA and RTI was a historical step for the country's future.
However, experienced Advani is promising to change the primary focus of the software industry from outsourcing for foreign economies to make it mainly Indiacentric, BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani today said an NDA government "will create a new policy climate" to achieve this aim. "Whereas much of our software industry labours to make foreign economies more competitive, a BJP-led government will create a new policy climate where we use technology mainly for India's - I would add, Bharat's -- sustainable development," Advani stated in the foreword to the party's IT Vision document.
"Whereas much of our software industry labours to make foreign economies more competitive, a BJP-led government will create a new policy climate where we use technology mainly for India's - I would add, Bharat's -- sustainable development," - Advani said.
The comment comes at a time when the US and other western countries have said that they would check outsourcing to India to boost their sagging economies and growing unemployment.
The saffron party leader said his government would bring about a radical shift of emphasis in favour of "agriculture, rural economy, infrastructure development, small and medium enterprises, informal sector of the economy, affordable healthcare for all, meaningful education for all.
And national security, both internal and external". Promising to make "internet as ubiquitous as electricity", Advani said an NDA government would create 20 IT related jobs in every village.
This would mean 1.2 crore IT-enabled jobs in rural hinterland of the country, he said.
After the poll test, the Aam Aadmi Party cleared the test of strength on the floor of the house as well. Earlier last week, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal took oath on Saturday as the seventh chief minister of Delhi.
Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung administered the oath of office and secrecy to Kejriwal and six other ministers at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi.
Six ministers -- Manish Sisodia, Somnath Bharti, Rakhi Birla, Satyendra Jain, Saurabh Bharadwaj, Girish Soni - also took oath of office and secrecy at the ceremony.
"Today, every Delhi resident has been sworn in as a minister. The fight was not about making Arvind Kejriwal the CM. It was about giving power to the people. If we come together, we will be able to defeat corruption," he said after the oath-taking ceremony.
Kejriwal, who had at first shot cleared the IIT entrance examination, the UPSC and now, formed a government, added, "We will give Delhi residents a (phone) number in two days so that they can lodge complaints against officials taking bribe.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Kejriwal and extended his best wishes to the AAP leader, who asked his six ministers sworn in on Saturday not to be arrogant and stick to the party's poll promises.
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal took a metro from Kaushambi station around 11:00am to reach Barakhamba. From there, he reached the swearing-in venue in a car. True to his Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP's) anti-VIP culture, Kejriwal on Monday had turned down 'Z' category security.
"The choice of the venue, Ramlila Maidan, was symbolic and a reminder to people that the AAP and Kejriwal were staying the course. An anti-corruption movement by social activist Anna Hazare and Kejriwal launched at this very ground in the heart of Delhi in 2011 had forced Parliament to commit to an anti-corruption watchdog. The two have fallen out since, but on Saturday,Hazare sent his best wishes to his protégé."
The choice of the venue, Ramlila Maidan, was symbolic and a reminder to people that the AAP and Kejriwal were staying the course. An anti-corruption movement by social activist Anna Hazare and Kejriwal launched at this very ground in the heart of Delhi in 2011 had forced Parliament to commit to an anti-corruption watchdog. The two have fallen out since, but on Saturday, Hazare sent his best wishes to his protégé.
As Kejriwal reiterated his poll promises at Ramlila Maidan, thousands who thronged the venue wearing the AAP's white cap, erupted in thunderous applause.
The first big challenge for Kejriwal, 45, and his ministers will be to roll back the 10% hike in CNG prices announced on Thursday. Auto drivers in the city, who form a huge section of his supporters, have threatened a strike.
Besides, during campaigning for the December 4 elections, the AAP had promised to slash power tariff by 50% and provide free water supply to households using up to 700litre a day. The promises, experts believe, will not be easy to meet. On Saturday, Kejriwal admitted, "I don't have a magic wand. We can't solve all problems tomorrow."
The future of AAP's minority government, however, depends on how it delivers. Along with the people of Delhi, the Congress, which was routed by the rookie party, will keep an eye on the government's performance.
"Our support (to the AAP) is not unconditional. If they (the AAP) can provide relief to the people of Delhi, it is well and good," Sheila Dikshit, former chief minister and Congress leader, had said on Monday.
The AAP, which has 28 legislators after a stellar debut in electoral politics, needs the outside support of the eight Congress MLAs to survive. With 32 seats, the BJP is the single largest party in the 70-member House.
The new government will have to prove its majority by January 3. However, the AAP leader did not seem bothered about the floor test. "I'm not worried. This is a minor issue. If we don't get it (majority), we will go for a reelection and win again," Kejriwal said after taking oath.
After the ceremony, Kejriwal visited Mahatma Gandhi's memorial Rajghat to pay homage.
Earlier in the day Kejriwal boarded the metro from Kaushambi Station to take oath at the Ramlila Maidan as hundreds of people jostled with each other to board the train with him.
There was no place to stand in the Metro premises and people were falling over each other as Kejriwal arrived to board the train. The AAP leader got off the train at Barakhamba Metro Station from where he took a car to reach Ramlila Maidan.
Additional Central Industrial Security Force security personnel and the Uttar Pradesh personnel were deployed at the station.
"There was no place to stand in the Metro premises and people were falling over each other as Kejriwal arrived to board the train. The AAP leader got off the train at Barakhamba Metro Station from where he took a car to reach Ramlila Maidan."
CISF officials had earlier said that some of its personnel will also travel in the coach with Kejriwal to guard him.
Before boarding the train, Kejriwal said, "It is a beginning. The second fight for independence. Till this country gets freedom from corruption, famine and injustice, this fight will continue. It is the victory of the common man," Kejriwal said. "Action will start immediately after we take oath," he said.
Hundreds of AAP supporters gathered at Kejriwal's residence in Kaushambi in the morning to greet him along with a group from his native village in Haryana's Bhiwani district.
Kejriwal's cabinet colleague Manish Sisodia was at the station along with his wife Seema Sisodia and their 12-yearold son Mir.
"I am happy, it is a historic moment for us and I am confident that he (Kejriwal) will perform his responsibilities well," said Seema.
Sisodia's farther Dharampal Singh, an ex-serviceman, and currently a teacher will also attend the swearing-in ceremony.
Apart from Kejriwal, his farther Govind Ram Kejriwal, mother Geeta Devi, wife Sunita, daughter Harshita and son Pulkit would also witness the ceremony.
Some of the people who had gathered at Kejriwal's residence had got bouquets shaped like AAP's symbol broom. One of the onlookers gathered at the scene was dressed like a groom.
The Prime Minister of Iraq is Iraq's head of government. Prime Minister was originally an appointed office, subsidiary to the head of state, and the nominal leader of the Iraqi parliament. Under the newly adopted constitution the Prime Minister is to be the country's active executive authority. Nouri al-Maliki (formerly Jawad al-Maliki) was selected to be Prime Minister on 21 April 2006.
The federal government of Iraq is defined under the current Constitution as an Islamic, democratic, federal parliamentary republic. The federal government is composed of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as numerous independent commission.
Article 114 of the Constitution of Iraq provided that no new region may be created before the Iraqi National Assembly has passed a law which provides the procedures for forming the region. A law was passed in October 2006 after an agreement was reached with the Iraqi Accord Front to form the constitutional review committee and to defer implementation of the law for 18 months. Legislators from the Iraqi Accord Front, Sadrist Movement and Islamic Virtue Party all opposed the bill.
Creating a new region
Under the Federalism Law a region can be created out of one or more existing governorates or two or more existing regions. A governorate can also join an existing region to create a new region. There is no limit to the number of governorates that can form a region, unlike the Transitional Administrative Law of the Iraqi Interim Government which limited it to three.
A new region can be proposed by one third or more of the council members in each affected governorate plus 500 voters or by one tenth or more voters in each affected governorate. A referendum must then be held within three months, which requires a simple majority in favor to pass.
In the event of competing proposals, the multiple proposals are put to a ballot and the proposal with the most supporters is put to the referendum.
In the event of an affirmative referendum a Transitional Legislative Assembly is elected for one year, which has the task of writing a constitution for the Region, which is then put to a referendum requiring a simple majority to pass.
The President, Prime Minister and Ministers of the region are elected by simple majority, in contrast to the Iraqi National Assembly which requires two-thirds support.
The executive branch is composed of the President and the Council of Ministers.
Main article: President of Iraq
The President of the Republic is the head of state and "safeguards the commitment to the Constitution and the preservation of Iraq's independence, sovereignty, unity, the security of its territories in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution." The President is elected by the Council of Representatives by a two-thirds majority, and is limited to two four-year terms. The President ratifies treaties and laws passed by the Council of Representatives, issues pardons on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, and performs the "duty of the Higher Command of the armed forces for ceremonial and honorary purposes."
There also exists a Vice President which shall assume the office of the President in case of his absence or removal.
Council of Ministers
Main articles: Prime Minister of Iraq and Council of Ministers of Iraq
The Council of Ministers is composed of the Prime Minister as head of government and his cabinet. The President of Iraq names the nominee of the Council of Representatives bloc with the largest number to form the Cabinet. The Prime Minister is the direct executive authority responsible for the general policy of the State and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, directs the Council of Ministers, and presides over its meetings and has the right to dismiss the Ministers on the consent of the Council of Representatives.
The cabinet is responsible for over-seeing their respective ministries, proposing laws, preparing the budget, negotiating and signing international agreements and treaties, and appointing undersecretaries, ambassadors, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and his assistants, Division Commanders or higher, the Director of the National Intelligence Service, and heads of security institutions.
List of ministries
The legislative branch is composed of the Council of Representatives and a Federation Council. As of August 2012, the Federation Council had not yet come into existence.
Council of Representatives
Main article: Council of Representatives of Iraq
The Council of Representatives is the main elected body of Iraq. The Constitution defines the "number of members at a ratio of one representative per 100,000 Iraqi persons representing the entire Iraqi people." The members are elected for terms of 4 years.
The council elects the President of Iraq; approves the appointment of the members of the Federal Court of Cassation, the Chief Public Prosecutor,
and the President of Judicial Oversight Commission on proposal by the Higher Juridical Council; and approves the appointment of the Army Chief of Staff, his assistants and those of the rank of division commanders and above, and the director of the intelligence service, on proposal by the Cabinet.
Main article: Federation Council of Iraq
The Federation Council will be composed of representatives from the regions and the governorates that are not organized in a region. The council is to be regulated by law by the Council of Representatives. As of August 2012, the Federation Council had not yet come into existence.
The federal judiciary is composed of the Higher Judicial Council, the Supreme Court, the Court of Cassation, the Public Prosecution Department, the Judiciary Oversight Commission, and other federal courts that are regulated by law. One such court is the Central Criminal Court.
Higher Judicial Council
Main article: Higher Judicial Council of Iraq
The Higher Judicial Council manages and supervises the affairs of the federal judiciary. It oversees the affairs of the various judicial committees, nominates the Chief Justice and members of the Court of Cassation, the Chief Public Prosecutor, and the Chief Justice of the Judiciary Oversight Commission, and drafts the budget of the judiciary. In 2013, the Council of Representatives passed the Iraqi Federal Court Act, which forbids the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from also being the head of the Judicial Council, and replaced him with the Chief Justice of the Court of Cassation.
Main article: Supreme Court of Iraq
The Supreme Court is an independent judicial body that interprets the constitution and determines the constitutionality of laws and regulations. It acts as a final court of appeals, settles disputes amongst or between the federal government and the regions and governorates, municipalities, and local administrations, and settles accusations directed against the President, the Prime Minister and the Ministers. It also ratifies the final results of the general elections for the Council of Representatives.
Prime Minister of Iraq calls on President
Mr. Nouri Kamil al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq called on the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan today (August 23, 2013).
The President said India cherishes its cordial and friendly relations with Iraq. The two countries have historical ties starting from the great Mesopotamian civilization and thousands of Indians undertake annual pilgrimage to the Holy Shrines of Najaf and Karbala. With the emergence of democracy in Iraq, relations between the two countries are entering a new phase.
The President said Iraq has become India's second largest crude oil supplier. This is a mutually beneficial partnership. India desires to elevate the relationship from a buyer-seller into a broad-based one with equity partnership in oil production, joint ventures in oil exploration, petrochemical complexes, fertilizer plants etc. He said the different MoUs to be signed during Iraqi PM's visit would establish the institutional framework to enhance co-operation between the two countries.
The President said India has been a committed partner in Iraq's progress and development and will remain so as Iraq undertakes its reconstruction and rebuilding efforts. India remains committed to assist Iraq in the process of rebuilding its infrastructure and institutions. Indian entrepreneurs and Indian industries are eager to engage with Iraq.
The Iraqi Prime Minister warmly reciprocated the President's words and said India and Iraq were two friendly countries seeking to strengthen their relations and maintain a high level of contacts. He said India and Iraq complement each other. India needs energy while Iraq needs investment to generate employment. He said India's experience in democracy has been applauded throughout the world and there is much that Iraq can learn from the Indian experience.
Indian PM Speech to welcome Iraq PM
Relations between India and Iraq rest on a strong foundation. Our historically close links of commerce, culture and spiritualism are complemented by a fund of goodwill between our two people. This alone ensures that ours will always remain a close bond. Iraq has long been one of our most important partners in West Asia. As it recovers from recent conflict, it is also emerging as our second largest source of oil, accounting for over 12% of our imports last year. The present visit of Prime Minister Maliki is aimed at imparting new dynamism to our relations and their broad-based development.
Prime Minister Maliki and I have agreed that our energy trading relationship should be turned into a strategic partnership, including through joint ventures in oil exploration, petrochemical complexes and fertilizer plants. The Inter-Governmental Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of Energy will provide a very strong framework to further diversify our cooperation in this sector and we look forward to concrete progress in the near future.
We also agreed to expand and diversify our economic cooperation, which, as our Joint Commission recently identified, would cover areas such as agriculture, water resource management, pharmaceuticals, health care, information technology, infrastructure, low-cost housing and trade.
Iraq was the largest project export destination for Indian companies before the Gulf War. I underlined to Prime Minister Maliki the strong interest of Indian companies to participate in Iraq's reconstruction efforts and its ambitious plans to expand and upgrade its infrastructure.
India has also been active in the area of capacity building in Iraq, including in higher education and health care. I have reiterated our offer of support for rebuilding and upgrading institutions in Iraq.
Today, we have decided to add a new dimension to this relationship by agreeing to share our expertise and knowledge in the field of agriculture and water management.
Prime Minister Maliki and I also had a productive exchange of views on international developments, especially in West Asia and North Africa. Peace, security and stability in this region are vital to both our countries. As democratic and pluralistic societies, India and Iraq face similar threats from radicalism and terrorism. India believes that a strong, stable, peaceful, united and democratic Iraq is in the interest of regional and global peace and security. We have agreed to hold regular dialogue on these developments through Foreign Office Consultations. We also agreed to further strengthen our counter-terrorism and intelligence cooperation.
I look forward to working with Prime Minister Maliki to further expand and deepen our very special bilateral relations.
Iraq PM speech to welcome Indian investment in Iraq
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki on Saturday urged the Indian private sector to work together with their Iraqi counterparts to help in the reconstruction of the West Asian country, and promised to make available mechanisms for Indian companies to find the investment and business climate secure and conducive to earning profit.
Citing the long relationship between India and Iraq, Maliki, who's in India on a three-day official visit, said Indian companies were extremely committed and would do justice to his country's invitation to them.
Speaking at an interactive session with business leaders at a forum organized by Indian industry bodies, Maliki assured them they would not face any administrative issues.
Opportunities existed in energy, oil exploration and production, refineries, petrochemicals and fertilizers, he said. Iraq is India's second largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia. India became more dependent on Iraqi oil recently after it cut supplies from the sanctions-hit Iran.
Maliki added Iraq needed a huge number of low-cost houses to compensate for the destruction suffered as a result of the wars it had faced. The American-led war of 2003 saw massive destruction of infrastructure and human life in Iraq, which was followed by widespread insurgency.
There was also an urgent need to invest in electricity. Although the Iraqi government had started to build electricity plants, whatever electricity it was generating was being consumed by rapid development. The Iraq prime minister invited Indian industry to invest and manage electricity plants directly through agreements with his government.
Iraq also needed reconstruction of its airports, railways and harbors', said Maliki. He called upon India to invest in his country's transportation needs. Health and education were other sec-tors where private investment was invited. He further hoped Indian banks would open branches to facilitate the transfer of finances that were needed for Iraq's reconstruction.
By OECEL Bureau @Dubai
London: It appears that the attempt to manipulate Lashkare-Toiba operative Ishrat Jehan's death to persuade Narendra Modi to withdraw from India's prime-ministerial race has more sinister roots than immediately apprehended. An insider with intimate knowledge of Anglo-American policy towards India suggested that a virtual resolution of the historic Kashmir issue has already been negotiated discreetly through the intercession of Washington. It seems an understanding has been reached with Manmohan Singh's government that major Indian concessions would be on the table.
Apparently, this entire package would be in jeopardy if Narendra Modi were to become prime minister of India.
Pakistan, whose rapid acquisition of nuclear weapons' capability is considered an urgent problem, including its known proliferation activities, is prepared to reciprocate with suitable steps acceptable to Washington. It is hoped that the lowering of India-Pakistan tensions would also reduce the dangers of a nuclear exchange that would have devastating wider global consequences. Pakistan will also restrain the Taliban and accept a half-way house in its expedition to control Afghanistan's destiny though Hamid Karzai will apparently have to depart.
The grim inference is that the incumbent Indian government is not entirely in dissonance with Pakistani agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence and its arms-length proxy, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, to corner Narendra Modi. The evident bonhomie between the two parties is a product of Washington's mediation, which is keen to retrieve something from the mess of its Afghan misadventure. Certainly, the elimination of Narendra Modi, physically if need be, as some observers, including myself, have warned of, would suit some quarters because otherwise he is guaranteed to propel the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead at the 2014 general elections.
Private polling has been showing that in the best-case scenario, the Sonia Gandhi Congress would simply not have the numbers to consider forming a government, even if the BJP itself failed to approach the magic number of 220 seats. An interesting question is the extent of involvement of some senior BJP leaders and their advisers in this colossal conspiracy. Some have enjoyed close ties with United States' agencies since the Cold War period when Nehruvian nonalignment was considered nothing short of support for the Soviet Union. Even closer ties have evolved between some leaders through the intervention of a prominent Indian business family in London who have always been US surrogates.
The so-called solution to the Kashmir dispute would almost certainly be based on the four-point formula suggested by the former Pakistan military president, Parvez Musharraf. It entails softening of Line of Control (LoC), self-governance, phased withdrawal of troops from entire Jammu and Kashmir and joint supervision by India and Pakistan. Pakistan is confident that such a plan would enable it to absorb the entire Kashmir Valley eventually making Indian resistance to such an outcome both politically costly and militarily expensive. Publicly-aired Pakistani misgivings about Musharraf's four-point formula when it was first out-lined were officially sponsored to create the impression that Pakistan would only acquiesce reluctantly. The idea was to make the Indian public believe that it was the gainer from the agreement. However, in private, there was widespread official consensus that the agreement would be a prelude to Pakistan gaining full sovereignty over the Kashmir Valley and possibly even more. The survival of other areas under Indian control would be rendered untenable if Pakistan were to achieve political suzerainty over the Valley and some adjacent areas.
The interim policy, in the aftermath of the agreement being fully implemented, would be to embark on a policy of demographic assault that has already succeeded in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The extensive marital links between PoK Kashmiris and Punjabis, for example, has ensured huge support for the Lashkar-e-Toiba's activities against India. It is reasoned that encouraging marriage between residents of India's Kashmir Valley and those on the Pakistani side with the help of local religious authorities would create a growing constituency within the Kashmir Valley that would be Pakistani in essence.
It is concluded that it would be impossible for the Indian authorities to In a recent interview with BJP leader Narendra Modi By Reuters Staff Ross Colvin and Sruthi Gottipati, Narender Modi was candid in explaning the fall out of Godhra tragedy in his characteristic mode.
Is it frustrating that many people still define you by 2002?
People have a right to be critical. We are a democratic country. Everyone has their own view. I would feel guilty if I did something wrong. Frustration comes when you think "I got caught. I was stealing and I got caught." That's not my case.
Do you regret what happened?
I'll tell you. India's Supreme Court is considered a good court today in the world. The Supreme Court created a special investigative team (SIT) and top-most, very bright officers who overlook oversee the SIT. That report came. In that report, I was given a thoroughly clean chit, a thoroughly clean chit. Another thing, any person if we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we're sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is. If I'm a chief minister or not, I'm a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad.
Should your government have responded differently?
Up till now, we feel that we used our full strength to set out to do the right thing.
But do you think you did the right thing in 2002?
Absolutely. However much brainpower the Supreme Being has given us, however much experience I've got, and whatever I had available in that situation and this is what the SIT had investigated.
Do you believe India should have a secular leader?
We do believe that … But what is the definition of secularism? For me, my secularism is, India first. I say, the philosophy of my party is 'Justice to all. Appeasement to none.' This is our secularism.
Report complied by Prakhar Prakash Mishra Political Editor Opinion Express.
curb this development because there would be an international human rights' outcry. It is also perfectly well-known in Pakistan that India has failed to stop the massive migration of Bangladeshis into India which has grown to startling proportions in many cities far removed from the Indo-Bangladesh border. The result of such demographic changes would also guarantee the election of governments in Kashmir that would favour Anschluss with Pakistan.
Once such an elected government agitated, in the first instance, for closer ties with their Pakistani co-religionists, prior to elevating the demand to formal accession, the Indian government would be left in an unenviable position. It would have to consider intervening militarily from a position of huge political and military weakness. The Indian authorities would have to arrest very large numbers of Kashmiri politicians, stop all electoral processes and embark on a military crackdown that would result in massive casualties. The inter-national and domestic Indian reaction to such a response to adverse developments can easily be anticipated. It appears Pakistan has leveraged its nuclear weapons with extraordinary success. By contrast, India's aspiration to great power status would be in tatters, reduced to a weak, minor player.
In addition, it can be safely predicted that Pakistan will find ways to pre-vent India reaping any sort of peace dividend, by reducing military commitments on the India-Pakistan border once an agreement with Pakistan on Kashmir has been implemented. Such a peace dividend for India would be opposed implacably by Pakistan's all-weather friend, China, itself examining every option for cutting India down to size. Any reductions in military commitments in relation to Pakistan would immediately mitigate India's two-front war threat that alarms its defence planners. China will make sure that Pakistani redeployments in the after-math of any peace deal with India will nevertheless remain a sufficient threat to prevent any significant Indian reduction in commitments against Pakistan. Indeed it may well be hazarded that the loss of Kashmir to Pakistan will create a strategic nightmare for India owing to altered military options on the ground and require even greater attention to the India-Pakistan border. The final denouement will be in the shape of an emboldened Pakistan facing an India militarily and politically weakened by the loss of Kashmir. Nothing that has transpired in the past sixty years suggests that Pakistan will abandon its determined quest to rival India, having emerged victorious over Kashmir.
As the conspiracy unfolds to derail Narendra Modi's pursuit for national power, though he enjoys massive support along the length and breadth of the country, many outwardly innocuous events acquire more significance. The successful campaign that stopped Narendra Modi from even addressing a mere student gathering in the United States is likely to have been officially instigated. The same officials responsible for intervening against Narendra Modi also hold compromising files on the alternative to him, pertaining to his corrupt financial dealings and personal peccadilloes.
Former US spy, Edward Snowden, has highlighted the extraordinary reach and assiduity with which information is collected by Anglo-American intelligence agencies on even their closest allies. He has also confirmed that India enjoys a special place on their intrusive radar. It is they who have been collecting evidence on the murky social life and financial dealings abroad of their preferred candidate for prime minister of India.
Editor's note: Intelligence Bureau officials have sounded the warning that they are under enormous pressure from the ruling Congress party to implicate Narendra Modi in the Ishrat Jehan case. A particularly vocal Congress party general secretary has been meeting and harassing Central Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence Bureau officials to manufacture evidence against the Gujarat chief minister. There is desperation in ruling party circles as Modi nears his goal of becoming prime minister. The Intelligence Bureau is resisting the pressure and there is growing resentment within the institution about this. Worse is expect-ed in the coming days unless Manmohan Singh steps in and ceases the witch-hunt against Narendra Modi.
A report from overseas press. The writer has taught Political Economy at the London School of Economics. (Expressed views are personal opinion of the writer)
A person becomes hope for millions, certainly Narender Modi must be complimented for the extraordinary achievement. India is a continent, it is not a country. Over billion people are living in India hence to be the hope of India is huge responsibility. The elevation of Narendra Modi through popular demand has democratized the Bharatiya Janata Party. From a patriarchal system where the elders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and of the party decided things, Modi has forcibly brought in elements of an open system where merit and democratic appeal inside the party will determine its direction. Such a takeover of a major political party by an individual purely on his credentials and popularity has no precedent in India.
In the two decades from the formation of the party to the time that it took power in the late 1990s, the BJP was controlled by only two very competent presidents - Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani (with one short term for Murli Manohar Joshi). When the party formed the government in Delhi and both Vajpayee and Advani held ministerial responsibility, the party presidency was finally let go of by them.
In this period, to communicate the idea of an open democratic system that was unlike the closed dynastic system of the Congress, BJP presidents continued to be elected. But because the rivalry was strong between Vajpayee and Advani, this president was a safe person, meaning someone neutral, and with no base of his own. And so the BJP had presidents like Kushabhau Thakre, Jana Krishnamurthy, Bangaru Laxman and Venkaiah Naidu. They were picked through consensus between the rivals, not through competitive elections, meaning the system was actually closed and not open. The cadre did not have a say in the choice of their leader.
These men did not make any changes or define a new direction for the party, and they were not supposed to. They were placeholders, and held office till the big boys came back to play. The important aspect is that because the system was closed, no new leadership actually emerged in the BJP through the popular route.
The disappearance from public life of Vajpayee after his defeat in 2004 and the eclipse of Advani within the party (about which more later) after his defeat in 2009 exposed this vacuum and opened up the space for someone to take the national leadership. It was assumed that this would be someone from inside the closed system. The BJP had some leaders who were "national", like Sushma Swaraj, Pramod Mahajan and Arun Jaitley, groomed for bigger things, and some who were "regional" like Modi and other state chief ministers.
This division did not indicate true levels of power. Jaitley for instance has never contested an election and has no popular appeal. Advani's visit to Pakistan in 2005 and his concession to Jinnah put off a cadre that craved someone who would take them back to first principles, meaning the muscular Hindutva that had propelled it to power.
This is when Modi emerged as his own man. A confluence of things - first, the killings of 2002 and the proven involvement of his ministers (one of who has been convicted), second, his no-nonsense image and refusal to play by the rules of inclusive secularism, such as wearing skull-caps and hosting iftaars, and third, his competent man-aging of Gujarat's economy and the praise of corporate leaders - has made him a national figure.
He attracted the core BJP worker and voter because of the first two things, and also large parts of the middle class. The media, which is usually wary of communal politics, has been neutralised through the third aspect, corporate endorsement of Modi.
The selection/election of Modi as the head of the party's campaign for 2014 has actually made him more powerful within the party than its president, Rajnath Singh, because it reveals him as the popular choice within the party. Modi gives the lower rungs of the BJP and the RSS what they want, a full-throated and uncompromisingly Hindu nationalist leadership which radiates strength and power. Even if Modi per-forms poorly in the election of 2014, he will retain control of the BJP. This is because his power comes directly from the cadre of both the BJP and the RSS, and the groundswell has opened up the closed system. or Narendra Modi's supporters there is nothing beyond the 2014 elections. So every alliance bro-ken, every leader brushed aside and every political leader who criticises is meant to be set aside as the Gujarat Chief Minister's campaign machinery rolls on towards the 2014 polls. But are the numbers against him?
In an excellent analysis of the 'Modi phenomenon' in India in the Indian Express, Ashutosh Varshney notes that the Gujarat Chief Minister would need to be a trailblazer of sorts rarely seen in India before and maybe his supporters and BJP are being a bit too hopeful of an impending victory in 2014. He points out that the BJP has seen its vote share decline over the last three elections to 18.8 percent, and though the party can hope for 18 to 20 percent of the vote share to get to 180 seats, a more practical assumption would be that Modi needs to raise the party's vote share by 5 to 6 percentage points. What is that in numbers assuming an electorate of 800 million votes in the 2014 polls? 25 to 30 million votes.
It isn't impossible to raise one's vote share by that much, and Varshney points to three instances when it happened: in 1984 for the Congress after Indira Gandhi's assassination, in 1991 for the BJP over the Ayodhya temple issue and in 1998 for the BJP, because of allies who delivered the numbers. There is a strong anti-incumbency wave among the electorate against the Congress and the UPA but would it be one that would result in 25 million votes going in Modi's favour? Varshney, maybe rightly, points out that it is unlikely given the Gujarat Chief Minister's personality cult is one that is still resonates only with urban voters. He says:
First, beyond Gujarat, the rural folk, who still determine India's election results, have not heard of the Gujarat model. And it is virtually impossible to turn rural constituencies around in a matter of months. It is a longer political project. Second, it is also not clear that, beyond Gujarat, the urban poor share the urban middle class passion for Modi. And the numbers of the urban poor are substantial. Third, in southern and eastern India, even in cities, the BJP's presence is minimal.
While Varshney finds fault with the numbers against Modi, in an editorial in the Hindu, Harish Khare finds more wrong with the personality cult of the Gujarat Chief Minister, something he claims the BJP has tried to ride on in the past and failed. Pointing to the sup-port of the cadre in favour of the Gujarat Chief Minister, he says:
Mr. Modi is equally entitled to his personality cult. But make no mistake. Mr. Modi is a different personality, not easily amenable to democratic moderation. We should get used to "Rambo" type yarns, as the polity seeks to rede-fine itself in the next general election.
Khare says that the Gujarat Chief Minister may seek to harness the strong anti-incumbency but warns that the drowning voices of dissent against anything anti-Modi doesn't augur well for the democracy that is India.
The liberal perception and numbers may be against the Gujarat Chief Minister and it may explain why the BJP 2014 campaign chief is urging his party members to find allies quickly to create the numbers the party needs to come to power. The Gujarat Chief Minister may also, in some corner, be willing to play along with alliance politics to forgo the Prime Minister's chair for a later innings in 2019 or after. The question is, will his supporters be able to wait?
Narender Modi is trying to model himself on Syama Prasad Mookerjee, he was both a liberal and a nationalist. While much of his politics and time in Government reflected deep nationalism and a realism free of dogma, at his heart were core liberal principles. Reading through the biography written by Madhok one can trace the roots of his liberal nationalism all the way to his days as the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University in the 1930s at a very young age of 33.
Recounting a convocation address by Mookerjee on February 12, 1936, Madhok cites the following excerpt from that speech which highlights the Liberal Nationalist that Mookerjee was:
"Our ideal is to provide extensive facilities for education from the lowest grade to the highest to mould our educational purpose and to draw out the best qualities that be hidden in our youth and to train them intellectually physically for service in all spheres of national activitty in towns villages cities. Our ideal is to make the widest provision for sound liberal education… Our ideal is to make our universities and educational institutions the home of liberty, sane progressive thought."
One sees the same spirit of Liberal Nationalism emerge through his tenure as Vice Chancellor as he sought to expand access to the University even to who were not enrolled in a regular college. A focus on youth and grooming of the next generation is a recurrent theme in his liberal nationalism.
"I have abundant faith in the glory of youth … they be given a chance to live, an opportunity to enjoy life and the amplest facilities for the development of their health and character."
One also sees during his tenure as the Vice Chancellor an ethic of minimum government. He did not depend on Government or wait for Government to create opportunities for youth. He proactively introduced many measures like abolishing reserved hostels and messes and expanding the curriculum to include sciences and engineering. He was also opposed to the idea of putting limits on higher education to control the number of graduates on the lookout for employment.
Delhi intellectuals fear coming of no-nonsense Modi Syama Prasad Mookerjee's liberal nationalism is evident through his years with the Hindu Mahasabha during the independence struggle as well. In a speech in December 1943, making the case for the Hindu Mahasabha, Mookerjee explains that he stood for no special favours for Hindus but for welfare and advancement of India as a whole. The cynical politics of wordplay on "secularism/communalism" of the Congress predates India's independence. Even an intellectual of Mookerjee's stature was not spared the game of labeling that we continue to see even today.
Many examples of Mookerjee's liber-al nationalism can be found through Balraj Madhok's book. In a speech in 1943 in Amritsar to the Hindu Mahasabha, Mookerjee spoke of how an Idea of India that transcended both caste and religion and that called for political citizenship to everyone without discrimination. In the years after Independence when he was invited to join Nehru's Cabinet as the Minister for Industries, one sees his economic liberalism grounded in the realities of India come through very clearly. Madhok writes:
"He had very clear ideas on the role of private capital in the industrial development of the country as also on the relationship between capital and labour… He was for giving full scope to private enterprise under suitable Government regulation … He wanted government to concentrate its meagre resources on the defence of the realm … he stood for a rational coordination between private and public capital in light of the actual conditions in the country…"
In Balraj Madhok's eyes, Mookerjee a was realist who was not guided by dogma. Citing two examples of how he believed in private enterprise while being pragmatic about economic realities of India, Madhok explains how Mookerjee was opposed to full nationalisation and that he did not believe India had the skills resources to nationalise and run all kinds of industries. At the same time, he also believed that given the realities of labour in India, that there had to be some kind of profit sharing between capital and labour. While investing in public sector enterprises, he also believed that needed professional management independent of Government to make them viable and keep them efficient.
Over the years, after he resigned from Nehru's Cabinet and quit the Hindu Mahasabha before eventually founding the Jan Sangh the liberal national ethic travelled with him. His inaugural presidential address to the Jan Sangh once again sees the same ethic of economic liberalism:
"we stand for well planned decentralized national economy….. against concentration of economic power in cartels…. sanctity of private property will be observed….private enterprise will be given a fair and adequate play….state ownership and state control only where it is needed in public interest….progressive decontrol…"
The issue that saw him most rile up Nehru in Parliament was the Kashmir issue. On this too his position was a liberal national position.
"Kashmir is an integral part of India and should be treated as any other State"
It is a reflection of the perversity that has afflicted much of the intellectual discourse in India that an issue like the demand for abrogation of Article 370, far from being labelled as the liberal national issue that it ought to be, is dismissed as a 'communal' issue or even worse described as a 'Hindutva' issue.
While Mookerjee's political legacy will be coloured by the leftist historians with all kinds of labels, it would be instructive to point out that he commanded even the respect of the Communists through his defence of civil liberties and his opposition to the Preventive Detention Act.
This comment by Mookerjee in response to Nehru's repeated labelling of him as 'communal' brings out the best in him:
"If we try to recover our lost position in a manner 100 per cent consistent with the dynamic principles of Hinduism for which Swami Vivekanand stood, I am proud to be a communalist."
By marking the soft start to what will be deemed to be the campaign for the next Lok Sabha in Madhopur, Narendra Modi will be laying claim to that political legacy of liberal nationalism that Mookerjee stood for many decades back when he founded the Jan Sangh to challenge the Nehru-led Congress's political monopoly in India. All the contentious issues namely Ayodhya Ram temple, abolishing article 370, uniform civil code are delibretely untouched by team Modi to build up international acceptance but the pressure from the cadre and right wing forces within core group of the party will be just waiting to pounce on Modi to express his opinion in public to polarise votes for BJP.
By Prakhar Prakash Mishra, Political Editor
The Congress won a thumping victory in Karnataka to wrest power after a seven year gap, crushing the BJP in a key election ahead of next year's Lok Sabha ballot. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi voiced their satisfaction over the Karnataka result that ended five years of tumultuous rule by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the southern state.
The Congress victory "is a clear result against the ideology of the BJP", Manmohan Singh said in New Delhi. "The people of the country know what's what and they will reject the BJP ideology as the result in Karnataka shows." The BJP, which stormed to power in Karnataka in 2008 with the hope of expanding rapidly in south India, was routed. Officials said it may finish along with the Janata Dal-Secular (J-S) at 39 seats each. At one point, the BJP trailed behind the JD-S at the third spot.
The Congress had ruled Karnataka on its own until April 2004. It later governed the state with JD-S backing till February 2006. The state slipped into JD-S and BJP hands after that.
Congress leaders gloated and said they had expected a victory because of the way the BJP ruled Karnataka in the last five years, with infighting seeing three changes in the chief minister's post.
The BJP government was also mired in corruption charges. Finally, BS Yeddyurappa, who led the BJP to victory in 2008 and become its first chief minister, quit the party and formed the rival Karnataka Janata Party (KJP). Although the KJP is expected to bag only eight seats in a house of 225, it played a major role in splitting the pro-BJP vote.
JD-S leader HD Kumaraswamy, who had hoped perhaps to be kingmaker, said he was happy to win almost 40 seats. "We will be happy to be the main opposition. We will play our role well," the former chief minister said.
The Samajwadi Party opened its account for the first time in Karnataka, winning the Channapatna assembly seat some 60 km from Bangalore. The Karnataka result was a morale booster for the Congress at a time the BJP has refused to let parliament run demanding the resignation of central ministers Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Kumar Bansal for impropriety.
The victory was just what the party needed ahead of the general elections due in 2014 but which some say could be held earlier. Said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi: "We are winning because people have seen through and rejected the BJP."
The Karnataka rout saw several BJP leaders lose, as the party fared poorly both in urban and rural areas all across the state. Karnataka had recorded the second highest polling of 71.29% in the last 35 years after 71.90% in 1978. The Congress is not in power in the state for about seven years now.
Reactions on Karnataka poll result trends:
Ravi Shankar Prasad: This accidental fluke victory of the Congress (is) because of the split in BJP votes.
Kapil Sibal: It looks like the BJP will meet the same fate in the General Elections. They will remain in third place in the general elections as well.
Manish Tewari said: The people of Karnataka have voted. If you really look back, over the manner in which Parliament has been disrupted in the last fortnight it is very evident that the entire charade was orchestrated for the Karnataka elections.
HD Kumaraswamy, JDS state president: I blame the media for our defeat and Congress is becoming bigger party. Media did propaganda against us and provoked people to go against us. We respect people's mandate and accept their verdict and we would sit in the opposition party.
BJP leaders Rajiv Pratap Rudy: Karnataka is a loss, we are upset about it but we knew it would happen.
He, however, rather indirectly defended BJP leader and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and his inability to swing votes for the party in the state, saying: "When does any political party say that their leader has a magic wand? What is wrong if a leader has a magic wand?"
K Siddaramaiah is the to be Karnataka's new Chief Minister. The 121 Congress MLAs elected by the people of the state voted via secret ballot to elect him this evening. Mr Siddaramaiah won the backing of a majority 75 MLAs. Governor H Bhardwaj has invited Mr Siddaramaiah to form the government. Addressing the press after his election, Mr Siddaramaiah said that the immediate challenge is to put the state's administration the right track.
Mr Siddaramaiah is a backward caste leader from the Kuruba community with a big support base, especially in the Old Mysore region in the south.
He has been Opposition leader and was among those who scripted the Congress' successful campaign. He is a five-time MLA and represents the Varuna constituency in Mysore district. Once part of the Janata Dal (Secular) and an HD Deve Gowda protege, Mr Siddaramaiah has been a Congressman for only about six years.
Mr Siddaramaiah edged Union minister Mallikarjun Kharge, his closest contender for the post. A Congressman all his political life, Mr Kharge has registered a formidable electoral record - he has won nine straight times from the Gulbarga region in north Karnataka. The Dalit leader has always been in the running for the Chief Minister's job, but like before, lost out this time too.
A central Congress team headed by Defence Minister AK Antony oversaw the election of the new Chief Minister. The team included junior sports minister Jitendra Singh, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, Madhusudan Mistry, and AICC general secretary Luizinho Faleiro.
Report by Sub Editor Sachin Naik from Bangalore