Modi sarkar got its first real jolt today. Not from any political adversary but from the unpredictability of life. The capital woke up to the news of death of newly sworn in rural development Minister Gopinath Munde. As disbelief gave way for shock and grief, political parties showed a rare gesture of unity to pay their last respect to the son of soil from Maharashtra.
Death of Gopinath Munde:
Gopinath Munde, widely touted to be the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra breathed his last after suffering cardiac failure when a speeding Indica rammed into his car. He was on the way to his home state to take part in a victory procession to celebrate his win in the recently concluded elections. As fate will have it all those people will now assemble to pay their last respect to the departed leader tomorrow.
BJP Headquarters today saw politicians cutting across parties. Even Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi came to express his commiserations. Also present was BJP top leadership including the Prime Minister. Munde’s arch rival in Maharashtra Sharad Pawar recalled fondly of the days when they worked closely in the state assembly. Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to the widow of Gopinath Munde expressing her sadness.
Tomorrow parliament will start proceeding for the first time in the 16th LokSabha but it will be adjourned after expressing grief over this untimely death. In midst of all the political bickering a sudden death always gives the stark reminder that elation of joy and desperation of defeat are all but temporary pit stops in the path of the ultimate destination.
But as they say, the show must go on and so it did. All eyes were on RBI which announced their monetary policy. In tune with government’s pro-growth agenda RBI governor Raghuram Rajan took a break from increasing repo rate. Repo rate is the rate at which RBI lends money to the banks. Thus banks are forced to increase interest rate in loans of customers if repo rate increases. By keeping Repo rate at 8% and CRR at 4% intact he has given a positive message to the market. In addition Rajan also announced a cut in SLR or Standard Liquidity rate to boost lending. A half percent decrease in SLR opens up nearly 40,000 crore rupees that will certainly help the economy. The suave economist said that if inflation remains under control there will be no need of further increasing rate.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed satisfaction with today’s monetary policy. According to him RBI has taken a calibrated stance to strike balance between growth and inflation. But Jaitley is well aware that Rajan is unlikely to give him a long rope for controlling inflation. Rajan has always maintained that taming inflation is his first priority. Even today RBI governor expressed concern over high retail inflation. Perhaps in a bid to placate him Jaitley said that they will be soon taking concrete steps to control price rise especially by boosting supplies.
Markets responded positively to RBI’s decision which was more or less in expected lines. But what enthused the market more was manufacturing data from China which showed definite signs of resurgence. China is a developing market like India and often economic growth patterns are similar. Both Sensex and Nifty finished at record high at 24,859 and 7,416 respectively.
State- Centre relation:
Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Both leaders perceived to be close has sparred with each other during and after the poll campaign. Jaya even boycotted Modi’s swearing in ceremony since Sri Lanka’s President Mahindra Rajapaksa was invited. But today talks went on amicably.
Amma sought Modi Sarkar’s direct intervention to solve long pending niggling issues like water sharing rows with Karnataka and that of Mullaperiyar dam. Modi was given a detailed memorandum listing Tamil Nadu’s demands.
Contrary to political buzz, Jaya was non-committal on giving support to NDA in the Rajya Sabha. She merely said that currently NDA has majority and supporting them in Rajya Sabha will be considered when the situation arises. Crafty Amma has thereby kept open the possibility of some hard bargaining if and when NDA desperately needs her support to pass some crucial bill in the Upper House. In an indirect jibe to other Chief Ministers Jayalalithaa said that she didn’t ask for any special status for her state!!
Naveen Patnaik after getting assurance of all help from Narendra Modi today met Union Minister for Urban development Venkaiah Naidu. He asked to change the procedure of fund allocation in JnNURM projects. Naveen wants that states should be given complete autonomy over using these funds. He alleged that often small and medium towns are not getting benefit of this development scheme.
Embarrassment for Modi:
In an embarrassment to Modi Sarkar, senior leader Yashwant Sinha has imitated the antics of Arvind Kejriwal. He and his supporters were sent to 14 days judicial custody by a local court in Jharkhand after they refused to take bail. Jaswant and his supporters have been accused of assaulting a Jharkhand State Electricity Board official. Yashwant Sinha today admitted that they had tied the hands of the official with rope over inability to provide electricity. This is exactly the kind of antics from senior leaders Modi sarkar can do without at the start of their term in office.
India-US relationship may get off to a “pretty slow start” if Robert Blackwill former US envoy to India is to be believed. He thinks that the dual issue of Modi being virtually treated as a pariah by US establishment for a decade by not giving him a visa and the diplomatic stand-off from last year after Devyani Khobragade was arrested is likely to linger on for some time. According to Blackwill it will be up to Modi to not let his personal grudge get in the way of establishing relations. But he is hopeful that time will be the best healer in this case. Former US Envoy candidly accepted that when Modi was denied an US visa, nobody thought Modi sarkar was even a remote possibility! Truly Indian democracy has the power to flummox the high and mighty.
On Jammu Kashmir today ever alert BSF foiled an infiltration bid in the Hira Nagar sector which falls under Kathua district. Reportedly there was heavy exchange of fire between BSF and the terrorists from across the border.
Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to PM Narendra Modi urging him to fulfill all the promises made by the UPA government to people of Seemandhra. In the letter she has mentioned about slew of decisions including granting special status to the state which were taken by the last government.
Many believe this is a political move by Congress to garner back lost ground in Seemandhra. The grand old party has been virtually wiped out in the region in the general election after facing rage of the people for granting separate statehood to Telangana. By writing the letter Sonia has now put the ball firmly in Modi’s court to live up to the expectations of all those disgruntled bitter people.
Finally, a look at the key economic parameters as of today…