The Hindu Important Articles 09 May 2018
# This is a battle of ideas; we are fighting hatred and anger, says Rahul Gandhi
Congress president says there is a feeling among the people of Karnataka that BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Yeddyurappa is no match for Siddaramaiah
Stressing that religion is central to India, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said, “as a political leader” he would visit “any centre of belief as long they don’t divide communities”.
The Congress chief, in an exclusive interview with The Hindu, denied that his frequent visits to temples and mutts in Karnataka were an attempt at image correction. “No, there is no image correction. But whenever I enter a temple, it deeply disturbs the BJP because they seem to think they own them (temple),” Mr. Gandhi said.
“In your question, you didn’t say that I also visit churches, mosques and gurudwaras. Religion is a central part of our country. And as a political leader, anybody who invites me to a centre of belief, I will go as long as they treat people with respect and compassion,” the Congress president said. Mr. Gandhi’s articulation seems to reflect the Congress’ effort to take a nuanced position on the question of religion in politics. Increasingly words like ‘secularism’ are being replaced in the Congress lexicon with phrases like “peace and love among communities.”
Asked about the prospects of his party in Saturday’s elections, the Congress President claimed that the party will win Karnataka ‘hands down’ as there is no sense of anti-incumbency against the Siddaramaiah government. He also countered Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 10% jibe at Mr. Siddaramaiah by pointing out that while Mr. Yeddyurappa has spent time in jail, there are no scams and charges of corruption against the Chief Minister.
Excerpts from the interview:
What is the main issue for the Congress in Karnataka?
The main issue is carrying everybody together, making sure development goes to the needy … the weak, and government resources go to the people it belongs to instead of being siphoned off like they were during the BJP regime. Corruption is a big issue here — corruption of the BJP and Mr. Yeddyurappa, the Reddy brothers and ₹35,000 crore stolen from the people of Karnataka. And then the assault on Karnataka by the BJP/RSS and a centralising one-view vision of India is unacceptable. People of Karnataka feel that they have their own language, they have their own culture and they don’t want to be run by the RSS.
This is the only southern State the BJP has ruled. Do you feel the BJP is trying to impose a one-nation-one culture norm?
The BJP design is that of submission. So the BJP goes pretty much into every conversation and State with the idea that they are going to impose one view and capture institutions.
You have done about nine rounds of the Jan Ashirwad Yatra. What is your expectation in terms of seats?
I am not a soothsayer and don’t get into seat predictions. But I can say that we are going to win this election.
The reason I asked this is because many independent channels have predicted a hung Assembly
That is the narrative the BJP is trying to spread. The fact of the matter is there is consolidation behind the Congress and our Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, the respect for the work he has done for the past five years. And there is a tremendous emotional response. So we are very much confident that we are going to win hands down.
Of course, the BJP would like to create such a narrative. Independent channels in Gujarat gave us 20-30 seats. So, I am not a believer of the so-called independent channels. I think we are very strong.
Fair point. But if it comes to that (hung Assembly), would the Janata Dal(S) be the kingmaker?
No. It will not come to that.
Wherever there is a hung verdict, the Congress has not been able to form a government. Does that prospect worry you in Karnataka?
My view about Karnataka elections is that I can’t sense any anti-incumbency against the Siddaramaiah government. Second, there is a clear feeling among the people of Karnataka that a choice between Mr. B.S. Yeddyurappa and Mr. Siddaramaiah is no choice. It’s so one-sided that an even comparison does not hold. Mr. Siddarmaiahji is head and shoulders above what the BJP has.
Do you think Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to make this a Siddaramaiah vs Modi battle?
Mr. Modi’s political style is to divide and create anger. And he does that in every election. The closer he comes to the election, the harder he tries to do that. It will not work in Karnataka. If you see Mr. Modi’s campaign, he can’t talk about corruption, right? He tried, it doesn’t work. His own people said the Karnataka model is the best model. BJP president Amit Shah said Mr. Yeddyurappa’s government was most corrupt. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said Karnataka has the best roads. Narendra Modi himself said Karnataka has got the most exemplary record in job creation. He has nothing to say and then he attacks me personally, attacks Mr. Siddaramaiah personally, attacks Mallikarjun Kharge personally; that’s his style. It’s a style of distracting.
You have talked about corruption and candidates with criminal charges. Similar charges are levelled by the Prime Minister against the Siddaramaiah government by calling it a 10% government.
The fact of the matter is Mr. Yeddyurappa has spent time in jail. The fact of the matter is the Reddy brothers have stolen ₹35,000 crore in the mining scam. Mr. Narendra Modi is promoting these people. Look at our last five years — there has been no scam, no charges of corruption. Mr. Modi comes and speaks about corruption, and on his left and right side, there is the whole tainted team. He speaks of divisive politics and everybody knows what Mr. Modi is doing over his whole career. His words ring quite hollow. The Prime Minister of India basically promised four things: two crore jobs per year, but his own government acknowledges an eight-year high in unemployment; he assured correct prices to farmers — you will see in the expression of India’s farmers how successful he has been! He spoke about corruption, you can see Mr. Amit Shah’s son has turned ₹50,000 into ₹80 crore. You can see Mr. Piyush Goyal sold his own company to a power company, the Rajasthan CM’s son had been given money by Lalit Modi. There is the GSPC scam of Gujarat to answer. So Modi can’t speak on corruption.
Finally, the PM spoke about robust foreign policy. He has just visited China, but didn’t say a word about Doklam. Instead of lecturing Mr. Siddaramaiah, the PM should explain what he has done on all these fronts.
You tweeted about the BJP’s casteist attitude, but the Siddaramaiah government is accused of playing the caste card by recommending that Lingayats be granted a separate religious minority status…
There is a difference between giving voice to a community and crushing a community. There is a difference between listening to the legitimate demands of a community and beating and killing Dalits.
What the BJP does is systematically crush a community! You see what the BJP is doing with Dalits across the nation, you can see with Rohit Vemula, you can see in Una, in every single BJP-ruled State, Dalits are being beaten up, butchered and bashed and the Prime Minister doesn’t say a word. You know the status of minorities across country.
As in Gujarat, you continue to visit temples and maths here as well. Is this an image correction because there is a certain perception about the Congress?
In your question, you didn’t say that I also visit churches, mosques and gurdwaras. Religion is a central part of our country. And as a political leader, anybody who invites me to a centre of belief, I will go, as long as they treat people with respect and compassion. I will not go to places which spread hatred, violence and divide community.
Let me make it very clear, I have been visiting temples, mosques, gurdwaras throughout my career. Whenever a yatra or political procession passes by a religious place and someone invites me, I go. No, there is no image correction. But whenever I enter a temple, it deeply disturbs the BJP because they seem to think they own them [temples].
Election campaigns are presidential in style: Mr. Siddaramaiah versus Mr. Yeddyruppa in Karnataka. But the Congress usually doesn’t project anyone. Isn’t it time to change?
Who did the BJP project in Haryana? Who did they project in U.P.? Who did they project in Punjab? Every State has its own specific nature. If you look at Karnataka, Siddaramaiahji has been CM for five years; he is a tall leader and naturally, the conversation will be about him. Also don’t underestimate the value of our other leaders in Karnataka. The Congress has a solid leadership in every community of Karnataka, and they are all fighting together. This election will be won by the entire Congress.
You talk of women power but why has the Congress given ticket only to 15 women out of the 224 seats?
We have given nearly three times more than the BJP, but I don’t want to compare ourselves with others. We should have given more ticket to women and I think that is the direction that we are going ahead for other elections. And there is not enough participation of women at the MLA and MP levels.
How important will the outcome of the Karnataka polls be for the Congress’s 2019 battle?
The Congress as a political organisation is a set of values, set of ideas. Ideas of mutual respect, ideas of empowerment, equality, of bringing all communities together.
The BJP is diametrically opposed to these ideas. Only force that can take on and defeat the BJP is the Congress. This is a battle of ideas. What we are fighting is the ideology of hatred and anger and most Indian people are peace loving. We are pretty confident that we will defeat the BJP.
# Trump announces U.S. withdrawal from ‘defective’ Iran deal
Washington to reinstate sanctions against the Islamic republic.
The United States has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday, upending a key foreign policy achievement of his predecessor Barack Obama.
Under the 2015 deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), involving five permanent members of the United Nation’s Security Council and Germany, Iran had agreed to stop its nuclear programme in exchange of relief from economic sanctions.
“We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction,” Mr. Trump said.
The President has directed his administration to immediately begin the process of re-imposing sanctions against Iran that were lifted by the JCPOA, the White House said in a statement moments after he announced the decision. “The re-imposed sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as its energy, petrochemical, and financial sectors,” it said.
Mr. Trump’s decision to formally end America’s participation in the deal that curtailed Iran’s nuclear ambitions could strain its relations with key allies France, Germany and the United Kingdom, aggravate tensions with Russia and China, and add to instability in West Asia.
Repeating his long-held views on the deal, the President said JCPOA failed to deal with the threat of Iran’s missile program and did not include a strong enough mechanism for inspections and verification. Accusing Iran of “malign activities in the region,” Mr. Trump said America would not surrender to “nuclear blackmail by Iran.” “The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime could still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time. The deal’s sunset provisions are totally unacceptable. If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear-arms race in the Middle East,” said Mr. Trump.
He said if Iran continues its nuclear aspirations, “it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before.”
The President had termed the Iran nuclear deal a “disaster” during the 2016 campaign and vowed to end it if elected. He was restrained for months by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Security Adviser H R McMaster who were replaced recently. Their successors, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and NSA John Bolton share Mr. Trump’s hawkish views on Iran. Mr. Trump has also been goaded into exit from the deal by his friend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Trump cited documents released by Mr. Netanyahu recently to underscore this point that the Iran deal was based on deception by Tehran.
In walking out of the deal that started the process of integrating Iran into the global mainstream, Mr. Trump has ignored pleas by France, Germany and U.K. French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.K Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson travelled to Washington DC in recent days to talk Mr. Trump out of this path.
Though the formal exit of America from the deal happened only with Mr. Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, it has already been in violation of the agreement according to some commentators, who point out the Trump administration’s active role in stopping commercial agreements Iran sought with western companies. Under the deal, the U.S was to help Iran integrate into the global economy.
The Trump administration has been pressing European countries to stay away from commercial deals with Iran already. Boeing, one American entity that was allowed to do business with Iran by the Obama administration has not proceeded with the opportunity.
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the governments of Iran, Russia, and China would “seize this opportunity of self-imposed U.S. isolation to continue major weapons sales, deepen economic ties, and further challenge the United States and Europe not only in the Middle East but in other areas like North Korea.”
“With this decision President Trump is risking U.S. national security, recklessly upending foundational partnerships with key U.S. allies in Europe and gambling with Israel’s security. Today’s withdrawal from the JCPOA makes it more likely Iran will restart its nuclear weapons program in the future,” he said.
# Iran will remain committed to deal, says Hassan Rouhani
In the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States will be pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic, several world leaders have reacted.
Iran President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran will remain committed to a multinational nuclear deal following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 agreement designed to deny Tehran the ability to build nuclear weapons.
“If we achieve the deal’s goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place… By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty,” Mr. Rouhani said in a televised speech.
he added that Iran was ready to resume its nuclear activities after consultations with other world powers which are part of the agreement.
Mr. Trump took a brave and correct decision to cancel the nuclear deal with Iran, which was “a recipe for disaster,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader, who has called for the deal between Western powers and Iran to be fixed or cancelled, spoke moments after Trump announced his decision in a speech at the White House.
Mr. Netanyahu said in a two-minute televised address in Hebrew and English that the current deal was “a recipe for disaster, a disaster for our region, a disaster for the peace of the world.”
Saudi Arabia welcomed Mr. Trump’s decision. “Iran used economic gains from the lifting of sanctions to continue its activities to destablise the region, particularly by developing ballistic missiles and supporting terrorist groups in the region,” according to a statement carried on Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television.
Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally, has been at loggerheads with Shi’ite Iran for decades, and the countries have fought a long-running proxy war in the Middle East.
Turkey will continue its trade with Iran as much as possible and will not be answerable to anyone else, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said.
“From now on, we will carry out our trade with Iran, within the possible framework, until the end, and we will not give account to anyone for this,” Mr. Zeybekci said in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk.
A spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan also said that the decision will cause instability and new conflicts. In a tweet, Ibrahim Kalin also said the multilateral agreement would continue with the other nations, and added that Turkey would continue to oppose all forms of nuclear weapons.
Britain, Germany and France urged the United States not to take steps that would make life harder for other countries that still wanted to stick to the nuclear deal with Iran.
“We urge the U.S. to ensure that the structures of the JCPOA (deal) can remain intact, and to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal,” the leaders of Britain, Germany and France said in a joint statement provided by Prime Minister Theresa May’s office.
Ms. May spoke by telephone with France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel after Mr. Trump made his statement.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama, under whose administration the Iran nuclear agreement was reached in 2015, said on Tuesday that Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal was “misguided.”
“I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron said France would work on a broader agreement covering Iran’s nuclear activity, ballistics programme and regional activities
“We will work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen, and Iraq,” Mr. Macron said on Twitter moments after Mr. Trump spoke.
Mr. Macron also said the nuclear non-proliferation regime was at stake.
German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth said on Twitter that Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was “not good news from Washington”.
He added: “Now we Europeans must save what can be saved” of the Iran nuclear deal.
Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the Iran nuclear agreement must be preserved. “(The agreement) contributes to the security in the region and puts a brake on nuclear proliferation,” Mr. Gentiloni said in a tweet, adding that Italy would stand with its European allies, confirming commitments made.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) to abide by their commitments.
Mr. Guterres said in a statement that he was “deeply concerned” by Mr. Trump’s decision. “It is essential that all concerns regarding the implementation of the plan be addressed through the mechanisms established in the JCPOA. Issues not directly related to the JCPOA should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments,” Mr. Guterres said.
The top European Union diplomat, Federica Mogherini, on called on the international community to stick to the Iran nuclear deal despite U.S. President Donald Trump announcing he was pulling out and would reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
“I am particularly worried by the announcement tonight of new sanctions,” Mr. Mogherini said.
“The European Union is determined to preserve it,” she said of the world powers’ 2015 agreement with Tehran. “Together with the rest of the international community, we will preserve this nuclear deal.”
Syria has “strongly” condemned Mr. Trump’s decision, saying it will increase tensions in the world, state media reported on Tuesday citing the Foreign Ministry.
Syria is a close ally of Iran, which has helped President Bashar al-Assad in his war against rebels trying to unseat him.
# No tensions with China: Centre
Recent efforts to intensify engagement ‘a big change,’ says Nirmala Sitharaman
There is no tension between India and China and recent efforts to intensify engagement between the two sides is “a big change,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday as the Naval Commanders’ Conference kicked off in the national capital.
Ms. Sitharaman, who inaugurated the conference being held from May 8 to 11, said, “We are talking and meeting each other. That is a big change.” However, she parried questions about Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region (IOR), such as a deep-sea port at Gwadar, Pakistan and other locations.
Force to reckon with
Asserting that the “Navy will be a force to reckon with in the Indo-Pacific region,” she said she had very “pointed discussion on the issues raised by the commanders.”
A Navy statement said the Minister expressed “satisfaction with which the Navy has continued to maintain a high operational tempo through regular deployment of ships, submarines and aircraft in the Areas Of Responsibility (AOR).” “I am confident that the Navy’s Maritime Domain Awareness in our Areas of Interests will enable it to respond effectively to the various contingencies, such as Search and Rescue, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and anti-piracy,” she said.
She highlighted the Indian Navy’s responses to numerous crisis situations around the IOR in the last few months, including the heavy rains and flooding in Sri Lanka and post Cyclone Mora in Bangladesh and Myanmar, as well as Cyclone Ockhi in November.
The Minister said the Navy had also established itself as a potential tool for military diplomacy, pointing out that they had been playing an important role in “furthering our national and foreign policy objectives through active cooperation and engagement with not just IOR littorals, but maritime nations across the globe.”
“I firmly believe that as a nation we cannot be truly self-reliant until we are able to develop our own weapons and sensors,” she said, complimenting the Navy for its pioneering efforts.
# Kim talks denuclearisation with Xi in second China visit
North Korean leader calls for an end to hostile policies towards Pyongyang
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited China this week and met President Xi Jinping, the state media of both countries said on Tuesday, their second encounter in two months amid warming ties between the Cold War allies.
Their talks in the northeastern coastal city of Dalian comes as tension on the Korean peninsula over North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons eases ahead of what would be a historic meeting between Mr. Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump, as soon as this month, according to the White House.
China has been keen to show it has an indispensable role to play in seeking a lasting solution to tension over North Korea, concerned that its interests may be ignored, especially as North Korea and the United States establish contacts.
Mr. Kim, during his visit on Monday and Tuesday, told Mr. Xi he hoped relevant parties would take “phased” and “synchronised” measures to realise denuclearisation and lasting peace on the Korean peninsula.
“So long as relevant parties eliminate hostile policies and security threats toward North Korea, North Korea has no need for nuclear (capacity), and denuclearisation can be realised,” China’s official Xinhua news agency cited Mr. Kim as saying.
Mr. Kim told Mr. Xi that the denuclearisation of the peninsula was North Korea’s “constant and clear position”, and that dialogue between North Korea and the United States could build mutual trust.
Mr. Xi hosted a banquet and told Mr. Kim of his backing of North Korea’s “strategic shift towards economic development”, Xinhua added.
“China supports North Korea’s upholding of denuclearisation on the peninsula, and supports North Korea and the United States resolving the peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation,” Mr. Xi said.
North Korean state media said Mr. Kim was “very pleased” that the relationship with China was reaching a high point, and North Korea would cooperate with China more actively as the situation on the Korean peninsula changed.
The visit, part of a flurry of diplomatic engagement that has dramatically eased tension, follows Mr. Kim’s recent historic summit with South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in. It also followed Mr. Kim’s dramatic train journey to Beijing in March, his first known trip abroad since assuming power in 2011.
Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he would speak with Mr. Xi by telephone on Tuesday morning in Washington, calling the Chinese leader “my friend”. “The primary topics will be trade, where good things will happen, and North Korea, where relationships and trust are building,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Kim used his official aircraft to make the short flight to Dalian, in what was his first international flight since assuming power.
Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, feared flying, fuelling speculation that the younger Kim may not be willing to travel far to meet Mr. Trump. The venue for their summit has not been announced.
The demilitarised zone, or DMZ, between North and South Korea, and Singapore are believed to be the most likely contenders for the venue.
Seoul in the loop
South Korea’s presidential office said the Chinese government notified Seoul about the Xi-Kim meeting in advance. “The Chinese government informed that Kim had arrived in Dalian on Monday and returned to Pyongyang today. It was a one-night-two-days stay,” the office said.
Intense secrecy typically surrounds high-level North Korean visits to China, and this week’s unannounced trip was no different.
Throughout the day on Tuesday there was speculation on Chinese websites that a North Korean leader was in China, though China’s Foreign Ministry said earlier it had no information and Chinese state media did not carry any reports.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK had shown images of two North Korean aircraft taxiing at Dalian’s airport, one an Air Koryo plane and another carrying a North Korean emblem, although the North’s state airline does not have regular flights to the Chinese city. Posts about unusual traffic jams and security in Dalian popped up on Chinese social media.
# Cannes kicks off amid controversies
With the film industry buffeted by the #MeToo movement, the much awaited event reflects changes
Gender balance could not have found a better visual representation than the sight of the Palme D’Or jury members at the opening press conference.
President of the main competition jury, actor-producer Cate Blanchett sat right in the middle with two men (writer-directors Denis Villeneuve and Andrey Zvyagintsev) and two women (writer-director-producer Ava DuVernay and actor Lea Seydoux) to her right and another two men (director-writer-producer Robert Guediguian and actor Chang Chen) and two women (actor Kristin Stewart and author, composer actor Khadja Nin) to her left. However, the press conference made it clear that gender, diversity or political factors won’t be the determinants in the choice of the Palme d’Or winner.
Despite the “female majority” jury, the irony of just three women directors competing for the top award — Eva Husson for Girls of the Sun, Nadine Labaki for Capernaum and Alice Rohrwacher for Lazzro Felice (Happy as Lazzaro) — wasn’t lost on many.
“Few years ago there were only two,” said Ms. Blanchett. She admitted that she would want to see more women directors but the change can’t happen overnight. “They [women filmmakers] are not there because of their gender. They are there because of the quality of their work. We will assess them as filmmakers, as we should,” she said. “There is no transgender filmmaker. So have we failed already? We will deal with we have in hand,” she elaborated further.
Given the turn of events in the showbiz in the last one year, it wasn’t unexpected to have #MeToo questions thrown at the members of the jury. How has it changed the film industry?
Mr. Villeneuve pointed out that it is a wave, a movement, that will take time to reflect positively on cinema. According to Ms. Blanchett, profound and lasting impact can happen through raising specific issues than mere “generalisations and pontifications”. Only then can it have a direct impact on the films and the way they are made, she said.
Does feminism clash with the glamorous side of Cannes —the red carpet, for instance? Ms. Blanchett was quick to point out that being attractive and intelligent is not mutually exclusive. For her the festival itself is about joie de vivre, glamour and also discord. “Harmony can’t always be creative,” she said. A concord would make the world “terribly boring”, she added.
Ms. Khadja Nin aligned the issue of racism with gender, referring to the 16 French actresses talking about their life in cinema in the collaborative book Black is not my Job. “It’s a long path to change… They will be walking the red carpet and we will be there to support them,” she said.
On the question of two filmmakers in the contest being under house arrest, Ms. Blanchett said though Cannes was not “political”, it does open eyes and hearts to things around the world… While it is unfortunate that they couldn’t be here, she stressed that what they had would be judging for “is not Nobel Peace Prize but Palme D’Or”.