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Narendra Modi government: 10 days, 10 talking points

The new government has been in news, but not for all the good reasons. Here, we mention ten.

Written by Shivani Vig | New Delhi | Published:June 5, 2014 11:20 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set an ambitious 100-day plan within 72 hours of assuming office, sending out a clear message that he will continue to pursue his good governance agenda. But the new government has been in news, but not for all the good reasons. Here, we mention ten.

1. PMO Twitter handle: Even before Narendra Modi could assume office as Prime Minister, the outgoing officials archived the PMO Twitter handle, sparking a furore in political circles. However, the Twitter account was restored just two days before Modi took oath as the next prime minister, provoking the BJP to call it “disgraceful, unethical and illegal”. The Twitter handle, @PMOIndia, launched during the tenure of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was changed to @PMOIndiaArchive. In a statement, the PMO had said, “All official communications from PMO in print and in digital form are being archived according to RTI Act. Copyrights and control remain with the PMO. The handover is being facilitated for the next administration.” The was criticised by the BJP, as it said that @pmoindia should have been passed on to Modi’s office as a national, digital asset.

2. Article 370: The newly sworn in Minister of State in the PMO, Jitendra Singh stoked the first major controversy when he said that the discussion to revoke Article 370, providing special status to Jammu and Kashmir, has begun. The controversy grew into a full blown war of words with various political parties reacting sharply to Singh’s statement. J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah lashed out at the Modi government as he tweeted: “Mark my words & save this tweet – long after Modi Govt is a distant memory either J&K won’t be part of India or Art 370 will still exist”. Facing flak, the MoS later clarified that he was ‘misquoted’.

3. Smriti Irani qualification row: On the same day, another controversy broke out in the political arena over the educational qualification of the HRD Minister Smriti Irani after it emerged that she had made contradictory declarations when she contested the LS polls in 2004 and 2014. The Congress leaders took pot shots at the newly sworn in HRD minister, questioning Irani’s ability to deliver as HRD minister since she is “not even a graduate”. The 38-year-old television actor-turned politician broke her silence and said that she should be judged by her work and not her qualifications. “I will request all of you that judge me by my work and I will not add anything to the statement I have made,” she said.

4. Shiv Sena sulks over portfolio: On the day ministers in the Modi government settled in, Anant Geete of the Shiv Sena struck a discordant note by refusing to take charge of the Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Ministry. Geete settled for the portfolio only after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. The Shiv Sena has secured as many as 18 seats in the Lok Sabha, making it the second largest party in the NDA.

5. Baliyan’s inclusion in Modi cabinet: BJP’s inclusion of Sanjeev Baliyan, who was sworn-in as a Minister of State with independent charge in Modi’s Cabinet certainly raised eyebrows. Congress questioned Baliyan’s inclusion alleging that he was an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots. “Sanjeev Baliyan, an accused in the recent riots is a Minister in Modi’s Cabinet. Is there a message in this?” Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had tweeted. “Why media is surprised by the inclusion of Muzaffarnagar riot accused in the ministry? After all it is Modi Sarkar (government),” Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed tweeted. Balyan was part of a mahapanchayat held last year that allegedly inflamed tensions in Muzaffarnagar despite prohibitory orders. He was charged by the police with violation of prohibitory orders and promoting enmity between two communities. BJP has maintained that Dr. Baliyan was framed in a politically motivated case.

6. Modi in school books: Prime Minister expressed displeasure over plans to include chapters on him in school curriculum following which BJP-ruled Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh had to drop the plan to include his life story in the school syllabi. “I firmly believe that the life story of living individuals should not be included as a part of the school curriculum,” he tweeted. While PM opposed the move to include his life story in education curriculum, books devoted to him continue to be sold at the BJP offices. Several books on Modi have been on sale at the literature outlet at BJP headquarters on 11, Ashok Road, that shower lavish praise on the Prime Minister and the eventful journey of his life.

7. Munde’s degree row: Like Smriti Irani, Gopinath Munde’s education qualification triggered a controversy. According to an affidavit submitted by Munde for the Lok Sabha elections, he claimed that he did his Bachelors degree from New Law College, Pune in 1976. But the college was established in 1978. Following the row, BJP members clarified it was a typo and it should have been ILS Law College.

8. Yashwant Sinha in jail: While Prime Minister Modi was laying down the ground rules to ensure good governance and development by its government, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha left the party red-faced after he was remanded in judicial custody after he refused to seek bail in a case of alleged assault of a Jharkhand State Electricity Board official. Sinha and 54 others were remanded in 14-day judicial custody by a local court after they refused to take bail. A JSEB’s Hazaribagh branch General Manager had filed an FIR, accusing them of tying him up during a demonstration on electricity crisis by the BJP’s district unit in Jharkhand. Sinha had admitted before the media that he had “instructed” the party’s women activists to tie up the official using a rope.

9. Raid on BJP MP’s house: The news of busting of a prostitution racket allegedly being run from a flat owned by former Mumbai Police chief Satyapal Singh, now a BJP Member of Parliament, sent shock waves in the political circles. While the two young women were rescued from the flat in Andheri, which was raided on Saturday last, the shocked Lok Sabha MP from Baghpat said he is willing to taking a legal action against the private company. The flat had been leased out to a well-known business house for 33 months. “Leasing out the flat is my only fault,” clarified Singh, who quit as Mumbai Police Commissioner early this year to enter politics

10. Modi picks BMW over Scorpio: Against the possibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi choosing his most trusted Mahindra Scorpio over BMW’s 7 Series as his official car, the PM opted for a specially designed armoured 7 series German vehicle. A lot was said about Modi choosing Scorpio as his official car. It was reported that Mahindra & Mahindra chairman, Anand Mahindra had written to Modi requesting him to choose company’s Scorpio as his official vehicle. It has been long known that Scorpio was Modi’s favourite. Even during campaigns and his duties as Gujarat CM, Modi traveled in his armoured Scorpio. However, the PM dashed all hopes when he chose he BMW flagship for the job.

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