By Sunil Dang, Editor-in-Chief
In a dramatic turnaround in Malaysia, 92 year old leader Mahathir Mohammad has been declared winner in the Malaysian elections. Mahathir’s victory brought an end to the six-decade dominance of the Barisan Nasional (BN), a coalition of parties led by the United Malays National Organization — a group that Mahathir himself once headed. Victory of the new opposition coalition reveals that voters have noticed the negative trickle-down effects of venal government policies of the Prime Minister NajibRazak. The level of tolerance for corruption has always been very high in Malaysia. But what was accepted and tolerated before is no longer accepted and tolerated. However, some credit should be given to the jailed leader Anwar Ibrahim whom Mahathir Mohammad immediately announced to release after the poll results. But, Ibrahim’s lawyer made an interesting revelation that rather applying for pardon from the Malaysian King, Anwar would appeal for review of the charges framed against him.
Almost entire opposition parties have tightened their belt to gear for the next general elections. Similarly, government of India too seems readying for next Lok Sabha Polls. It is trying to reach out to the next door neighbor nations so to ensure that there would be complete calm on borders during elections, if not at all borders then at least on Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The Track II diplomacy initiated with Pakistan should be seen in the wake of this exercise. Coming back to national politics, it seems that not only is the whole opposition trying to rally under one umbrella, as had happened during 1977 Lok Sabha Polls under the influence of JP Movement, with the collective opposition pressing for paper based ‘Ballot Voting.’ They are not ready to accept even EVM with VVPAT. On the other hand, the Election Commission has vowed to continue using EVM and the next generation of the EVM with VVPAT is going to be used in Rajasthan Assembly Polls. So, a heavy ruckus between the opposition and the Election Commission is expected ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha Polls.
By-elections in four Lok Sabha seats (2 in Maharashtra, one each in UP and Nagaland) and 10 assembly seats in nine states is going is scheduled to take place on 28thof May. However, the way opposition parties are making alliances and creating anti-BJP block, poll verdict seems written on the wall. However, the opposition parties should also keep in mind that in politics, one plus one is not always two. It’s not as simple an arithmetic where two parties joining hands would always mean loss of the opposition. At least in Kairana, joint opposition candidate has a Himalayan task to stop BJP from polarizing the Hindu votes.
The financial year 2017-18 began with a disappointing GDP growth figure of 5.7 percent as the combined shock of demonetization and the GST took the toll. But it may end on a cheerful note. As per Nomura reports, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to clock a 7.7 percent growth in the January-March quarter of FY18, highest in two years. However, the slower growth in the first two quarters could bog down the full-year GDP growth, which by CSO advance estimates is going to be 6.6 percent. This will be the lowest level since Narendra Modi was elected to power in 2014. But, economists are highly optimistic about India’s economic growth in next two years, which is going to make India the fastest growing economy again. The Nomura report mentioned above notifies that India would witness cyclical recovery led by both investment and consumption. Although, factors like rising oil prices and tighter financial conditions are expected to drag down growth rates. The World Bank too predicts India’s GDP growth to be 7.3 percent in the current year 2018 and 7.5 percent in 2019. The GDP data for the fourth quarter is scheduled to be announced on31stof May by the CSO. However, these economic indicators would trickle down towards public in general in next two-three years while Lok Sabha Polls are due in less than one year. Hence, these development indicators of the Indian economy are not going to solve the Narendra Modi’s problems in coming general elections.
Success of 102 Not Out has once again proved that its script that rules on the Box Office not the star cast. The Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor starrer Hindi flick has minted near Rs 40 crore at the Box Office which is huge collection from its investment perspective. Hope, other film producers are taking cue from it.