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Why I am resigning from BJP: A data analyst

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Shivam Shankar Singh quite bjp

Political discourse is at it’s lowest point in the country, at least in my lifetime. The partisanship bias is unbelievable and people continue to support their side no matter what the evidence, there is no remorse even when they’re proved to have been spreading fake news. This is something that everyone — the parties and the voters/supporters are to be blamed for.

BJP has done a great job at spreading some specific messages with incredibly effective propaganda, and these messages are the primary reason that I can’t support the party anymore. But before we get into any of that, I’d like everyone to understand that no party is totally bad, and no party is totally good. All governments have done some good and messed up on some fronts. This government is no different.

The Good:

1. Road construction is faster than it was earlier. There has been a change in the methodology of counting road length, but even factoring that in it seems to be faster.

2. Electricity connection increased 

All villages electrified and people getting electricity for more hours. (Congress did electrify over 5 lakh villages and Modi ji finished the job by connecting the last 18k so, you can weigh the achievement as you like. Similarly, the number of hours people get electricity has increased ever since independence, but it might be a larger increase during BJP).

3. Upper-level corruption is reduced 

No huge cases at the ministerial level as of now (but the same was true of UPA I :/ ). Lower level seems to be about the same with increased amounts, no one seems to be able to control the thanedar, patwari et al.

4. The Swachh Bharat Mission is a definite success

More toilets built than before and Swachhta is something embedded in people’s minds now.

5. UJJWALA Yojana is a great initiative

How many people buy the second cylinder remains to be seen. The first one and a stove were free, but now people need to pay for it. The cost of cylinders has almost doubled since the government took over and now one costs more than Rs. 800.

6. Connectivity for the North East has undoubtedly increased

 More trains, roads, flights and most importantly — the region is now discussed in the mainstream news channels.

7. Law and order is reportedly better than it was under regional parties.

Feel free to add achievements you can think of in the comments below, also achievements necessarily have caveats, failures are absolute!

The Bad:

It takes decades and centuries to build systems and nations, the biggest failure I see in BJP is that it has destroyed some great things on very flimsy grounds.

Electoral Bonds 

It basically legalizes corruption and allows corporate & foreign powers to just buy our political parties. The bonds are anonymous so if a corporate says I’ll give you an electoral bond of 1,000 crores if you pass this specific policy, there will be no prosecution. There just is no way to establish quid pro quo with an anonymous instrument. This also explains how corruption is reduced at the Ministerial level — it isn’t per file/order, it is now like the US — at the policy level.

Planning Commission Reports

This used to be a major source for data. They audited government schemes and stated how things are going. With that gone, there just is no choice but to believe whatever data the government gives you (CAG audits come out after a long time!). NITI Aayog doesn’t have this mandate and is basically a think tank and PR agency. Plan/Non-Plan distinction could be removed without removing this!

Misuse of CBI and ED

It is being used for political purposes as far as I can see, but even if it isn’t the fear that these institutions will be unleashed on them if they speak up against anything Modi/Shah related is real. This is enough to kill dissent, an integral component of democracy.

Failure to investigate Kalikho Pul’s suicide note, Judge Loya’s death, Sohrabuddin murder, the defense of an MLA accused of Rape who’s relative is accused of killing the girl’s father and FIR wasn’t registered for over a year..!

Demonetization 

It failed, but worse is BJP’s inability to accept that it failed. All propaganda of it cutting terror funding, reducing cash, eliminating corruption is just absurd. It also killed off businesses.

GST Implementation 

Implemented in a hurry and harmed business. Complicated structure, multiple rates on different items, complex filing… Hopefully, it’ll stabilize in time, but it did cause harm. Failure to acknowledge that from BJP is extremely arrogant.

The messed up foreign policy with pure grandstanding 

China has a port in Sri Lanka, huge interests in Bangladesh and Pakistan — we’re surrounded, the failure in Maldives (Indian workers not getting visas anymore because of India’s foreign policy debacle) while Modi Ji goes out to foreign countries and keeps saying Indians had no respect in the world before 2014 and now they’re supremely respected (This is nonsense. Indian respect in foreign countries was a direct result of our growing economy and IT sector, it hasn’t improved an ounce because of Modi. Might even have declined due to beef based lynchings, threats to journalists etc.)

Failure of schemes and failure to acknowledge/course correct 

Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, Make In India, Skill Development, Fasal Bima (look at reimbursements — the government is lining the pockets of insurance companies). Failure to acknowledge unemployment and farmers crisis — calling every real issue an opposition stunt.

The high prices of Petrol and Diesel 

Modi Ji and all BJP ministers + supporters criticized Congress for it heavily and now all of them justify the high prices even though crude is cheaper than it was then! Just unacceptable.

Failure to engage with the most important basic issues 

Education and Healthcare. There is just nothing on education which is the nation’s biggest failure. Quality of government schools has deteriorated over the decades (ASER reports) and no action. They did nothing on Healthcare for 4 years, then Ayushman Bharat was announced — that scheme scares me more than nothing being done. Insurance schemes have a terrible track record and this is going the US route, which is a terrible destination for healthcare (watch Sicko by Michael Moore)!

You can add some and subtract some based on personal understanding of the issue, but this is my assessment. The Electoral Bonds thing is huge and hopefully, the SC will strike it down! Every government has some failures and some bad decisions though, the bigger issue I have is more on morals than anything else.

The Ugly:

The real negative of this government is how it has affected the national discourse with a well-considered strategy. This isn’t a failure, it’s the plan.

It has discredited the media, so now every criticism is brushed off as a journalist who didn’t get paid by BJP or is on the payrolls of Congress. I know several journalists for whom the allegation can’t be true, but more importantly, no one ever addresses the accusation or complaint — they just attack the person raising the issue and ignore the issue itself.

It has peddled a narrative that nothing happened in India in 70 years.

This is patently false and the mentality is harmful to the nation. This government spent over Rs. 4,000 crore of our taxpayer money on advertisements and now that will become the trend. Do small works and huge branding. He isn’t the first one to build roads — some of the best roads I’ve traveled on were pet projects of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. India became an IT powerhouse from the 90s. It is easy to measure past performance and berate past leaders based on the circumstances of today, just one example of that:

Why did Congress not build toilets in 70 years?

They couldn’t even do something so basic. This argument sounds logical and I believed it too, until I started reading India’s history. When we gained independence in 1947 we were an extremely poor country, we didn’t have the resources for even basic infrastructure and no capital. To counteract this PM Nehru went down the socialist path and created PSU’s. We had no capacity to build steel, so with the help of Russians the Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), Ranchi was set up that made machines to make steel in India — without this we would have no steel, and consequently no infrastructure.

That was the agenda — basic industries and infra. We had frequent droughts (aakaal), every 2–3 years and a large number of people starved to death. The priority was to feed the people, toilets were a luxury no one cared for. The Green Revolution happened and the food shortages disappeared by the 1990s — now we have a surplus problem. The toilet situation is exactly like people asking 25 years from now why Modi couldn’t make all houses in India air conditioned. That seems like a luxury today, toilets were also a luxury at some point of time. Maybe things could have happened sooner, maybe 10–15 years ago, but nothing happened in 70 years is a horrible lie to peddle.

3. The spread and reliance on Fake News

There is some anti-BJP fake news too, but the pro-BJP and anti-opposition fake news outstrips that by miles in number and in reach. Some of it is supporters, but a lot of it comes from the party. It is often hateful and polarizing, which makes it even worse. The online news portals backed by this government are damaging society more than we know.

4. Hindu Khatre Mein Hain

They’ve ingrained it into the minds of people that Hindus and Hinduism are in danger, and that Modi is the only option to save ourselves. In reality Hindus have been living the same lives much before this government and nothing has changed except people’s mindset. Were we Hindus in danger in 2007? At least I didn’t hear about it everyday and I see no improvement in the condition of Hindus, just more fear mongering and hatred.

5. Speak against the government and you’re anti-National and more recently, anti-Hindu

Legitimate criticism of the government is shut up with this labeling. Prove your nationalism, sing Vande Mataram everywhere (even though BJP leaders don’t know the words themselves, they’ll force you to sing it!). I’m a proud nationalist and my nationalism won’t allow me to let anyone force me to showcase it! I will sing the national anthem and national song with pride when the occasion calls for it, or when I feel like it, but I won’t let anyone force me to sing it based on their whims!

6. Running news channels that are owned by BJP leaders who’s sole job is to debate Hindu-Muslim, National-Antinational, India-Pakistan and derail the public discourse from issues and logic into polarizing emotions. You all know exactly which ones, and you all even know the debaters who’re being rewarded for spewing the vilest propaganda.

7. The polarization

 The message of development is gone. BJP’s strategy for the next election is polarization and inciting pseudo-nationalism. Modi ji has basically said it himself in speeches — Jinnah; Nehru; Congress leaders didn’t meet Bhagat Singh in jail (fake news from the PM himself!); INC leaders met leaders in Pakistan to defeat Modi in Gujarat; Yogi ji’s speech on how Maharana Pratap was greater than Akbar; JNU students are anti-national they’ll #TukdeTukdeChurChur India — this is all propaganda constructed for a very specific purpose — polarize and win elections — it isn’t the stuff I want to be hearing from my leaders and I refuse to follow anyone who is willing to let the nation burn in riots for political gain.

These are just some of the instances of how BJP is pushing the national discourse in a dark corner. This isn’t something I signed up for and it totally isn’t something I can support. That is why I am resigning from BJP.

PS: I supported BJP since 2013 because Narendra Modi Ji seemed like a ray of hope for India and I believed in his message of development — that message and the hope are now both gone. The negatives of this Narendra Modi and Amit Shah government now outweigh the positives for me, but that is a decision that every voter needs to make individually. Just know that history and reality are complicated. Buying into simplistic propaganda and espousing cult-like unquestioning faith are the worst thing you can do — it is against the interests of democracy and of this nation.

You all have your own decisions to make as the elections approach. Best of luck with that. My only hope is that we can all live and work harmoniously together — and contribute towards making a better, stronger, poverty-free and developed India, no matter what party or ideology we support. Always remember that there are good people on both sides, the voter needs to support them and they need to support each other even when they are in different parties.

By Shivam Shankar Singh – The author is a former-data analytics for the BJP’s poll campaigns.

Disclaimer: The blog has been re-published with permission of the author and without much editing. The opinion expressed in it does not necessarily reflect Himachal Watcher’s point of view.

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BJP MLA deceiving CM Jairam and people by re-laying foundation stones: Congress

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Narendra Bragta re-laying foundation stones in shimla

Shimla: Ahead of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur’s Kotkhai visit on June 20, 2018, the elected legislator of Jubbal-Kotkhai constituency, Narendra Bragta, has been alleged of duping the Chief Minister as well as the public by re-laying foundation stones of the projects which were already sanctioned and the foundation stones of which were already laid.

It would be Chief Minister’s first visit after being elected in 2017 elections to the legislative assembly, and he is expected to lay foundation stones of various projects.

These allegations were labelled by the members of the Executive Committee of Congress in Jubbal-Nawar-Kotkhai division including the President Moti Lal Derta, Vice-President Ravindra Chauhan, and General Secretary Rakesh Chauhan in a joint media statement on Monday.

Not only this act of deception is denting the dignity of the CM’ chair but the people are also making fun of it.

The Committee has counted about six such projects, some of which are said to be in the list of foundation stone laying ceremonies in the constituency.

The Committee asked Bragta whether it is true or not that the foundations stone of the Kotkhai bus stand was laid on August 9, 2012, by the then-Transport Minister Mahendra Singh Thakur in his presence.

Similarly, the foundation stone of the Darkoti-Garavag irrigation scheme was already laid by then MLA Rohit Thakur in September 2017. The Committee pointed out that Himachal had received total funds of Rs. 338 crores and the Jubbal-Kotkhai constituency was given highest funds worth Rs. 63 crores for nine irrigation schemes. However, the current BJP government could not even complete the process of their tendering in last six months, said Congress.

The Committee further said the funds for the construction of an additional block of the State Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) in Kharapathar were also sanctioned in 2014 during the tenure of Congress government. The tender for the same was already awarded in November 2014, and BJP had played no role in it.

In 2008, Rs. 3 crores were sanctioned for the Saraswati Nagar stadium. These funds were, however, misused indiscriminately by near and dears of the MLA. Bragta had made claims of making it a world-class stadium, which did not happen, said the Committee, adding that all sports activities of the college were hit as the site of the proposed stadium remained in tatters until the previous MLA Rohit got another Rs. 35 lakh sanctioned to make it even.

Similarly, the Committee said, funds for the Pragtinagar Engineering College were also sanctioned during the previous Congress government in 2016-17 and the work was going on a war footing, and it does not make any sense to lay the foundation stone of such project.

These were the efforts to cover the failures of the government during last six months of its tenure while the people of the constituency still awaited deliverance of basic amenities, said the Committee.

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Rating BJP’s performance in Shimla MC on completion of one year

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BJP at Shimla MC

Shimla: The public of Shimla town on June 20, 2017, gave the command of the Municipal Corporation to Bharatiya Janata Party for the first time in 31 years. The SMC would complete one year in the office on the coming Wednesday.

Sadly, BJP’s inexperience and choice of candidates for responsible posts of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor backfired at the party. SMC has not only failed to establish coordination with its own Ward Councilors but also with the other government departments.

The SMC couldn’t even run the House or organize its session properly. Last week, the meeting of the House was reportedly cancelled as the Ward Councilors and the Mayor wanted to avoid confrontation over the water crisis. 

The situation of the town is only worsening. For instance, Shimla couldn’t find a place in top 100 cities in Swacch Bharat ranking, which was at 14 in 2014. 

As a matter of fact, the monthly charges for the door-to-door garbage collection were hiked but the facility did not improve. 

Shimla town not only faced loss to the hospitality industry due to recent unprecedented water-paucity but also faced embarrassment at international level as foreign media highlighted it. It was for the first time that the tourists were told to stay away from the town due to the water crisis.

On the top of it, the district administration and the SMC were not accepting that there was actually a crisis due to which public faced hardships for over two weeks and are still receiving rationed supply.

Let us take a look at some of the major promises of the BJP manifesto released before the election to the SMC in 2017. The major promises included: 

  1. 27×4 Water Supply
  2. Construction of Kol Dam and revival of over 30 natural resources to connect them to the town’s water supply through pipelines
  3. Better sanitation facilities and making the town garbage-free by installing dustbins at various places
  4. Introduction of bio-dustbins in the town
  5. Construction of parking complexes for as many as 10,000 vehicles to cut down traffic chaos
  6. Construction of fly-overs, escalators, and attractive footpaths to facilitate both locals and tourists
  7. Construction of gyms and refreshment centres in every Ward
  8. Making the town stray cattle and animal free
  9. Other than these main resolutions, there were several other promises in the manifesto, which are not even in the picture after one year

The water crisis of Shimla town speaks of the efforts made to fulfil 24×7 water supply, while heaps of garbage at market-places and about four strikes of the Shimla Heritage, Environment, and Beautification (SEHB) workers highlights the poor sanitation condition.

The Ward Councilors, as well as the Mayor, remained in news for quarrels over tours. The Mayor left the town and flew to China on a tour amid the most severe crisis it was facing. 

Now, on completion of one year, the Deputy Mayor is reportedly demanding a government vehicle while the Mayor was said to have asked for a new vehicle.

BJP’s poor performance has put it on the target of not only the oppositions but also the people.

Sanjay Chauhan, former mayor of Shimla and a prominent leader of the State Communist Party of India (Marxist), which had completed its five years term at the SMC in 2017, has termed the one year of the SMC as a complete failure.

Neither BJP could run the MC House properly, not it could uphold its dignity. The house hardly recorded any relevant discussions on matters of public interest. Rather, the Councilors were dissuaded whenever they tried to do so, said Sanjay.

For the first time in the SMC’s history, the ruling party had walked out of the House after failing to answer the questions of the Councilors, he said.

He further pointed out that no new schemes were introduced during the last one year. Instead, the MC could not make a progress of even an inch in the schemes that were already passed by the previous MC. Despite the availability of the funds, the new MC did not show any interest in the implementation of these schemes, he said. 

Chauhan said the list of incomplete projects includes the Smart City project (Rs, 2806 crores), World Bank-funded Kol dam drinking water scheme (875 crores) Amrut Yojana (243 crores), Tutikandi rope-way (200 crores), Shimla beautification project (66 crores) and other such projects worth 410 cores. 

Therefore, BJP-ruled SMC has failed to utilize about 4,700 crores sanctioned during the CPI (M) tenure for various schemes, he said. 

The CPI (M) said it was the first time that the city witnessed such chaos over the shortage of drinking water, which has dented the popularity of the town all over the world.

Another jolt to the SMC came after the High Court and the Governor had to take the responsibility of water supply and distribution on their shoulders.

No progress has been reported in the schemes of the public interest, which were due to be completed in 2017, Sanjay alleged. 

The SMC was supposed to complete the task of replacing meters by June 2017 and start issuing bills generated through meter readings, but it’s still pending in 2018, he said. 

Despite the availability of adequate funds, the task of replacing water pumps and supply pipelines at Gumma and Girri schemes was not undertaken within the provided time-frame.

He further added that no efforts were made for the betterment of sewerage management in some localities like Totu despite the availability of funds.

The work of multi-purpose and modern park at the Rani Ground in Kasumpti was also expected to be completed by June 2017.

In addition to Kaithu, Dhalli, Vikasnagar, Jivaanu Colony, Kasumpti, about 55 spots were already marked for the construction of parking lots in various localities and funds were already sanctioned. However, the SMC has not even started any construction work in last one year, said Sanjay. 

The construction of community buildings in Summerhill, Dhalli, Kaithu etc. is still pending despite funds. Similarly, he said, a provision of funds was made during the previous SMC for the construction of four labour hostels.

He further said the sanitation facilities in the town are in tatters for past one year. The SEHB workers went on strike for four times in one year due to the poor management of the SMC. The charges for the service of garbage collection were hiked and the salary of SEHB workers reduced.

Sanjay alleged that the SMC has handed over the contract of garbage collection to its favourite private company.

Moreover, he said, the court had to intervene during the strike of the workers, which confirms the incapability and insufficiency of the current MC.

The Mayor was most visible in local events as Chief Guest or kept herself tagged to the Chief Minister or Union Minister visits. However, she seems satisfied with her performance and told media that she did her best. 

For her, the inconvenience faced by the public during the recent water scarcity was just a lie told by the oppositions and media. 

The current Mayor and Deputy Mayor also faced criticism from BJP’s own Councilors. The opposition Congress had almost geared up for the dissolution of the SMC after sensing this defection within the ruling party.  

Once again, it would not be wrong to conclude that there has been more politics than efforts to fulfil the promises made in the manifesto.  

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