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Europe In Convulsions Even As Corbyn Rises In Britain

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By Saeed Naqvi

From Rome to London the contrast was sharp – from political despair to hope.

A comprehensive conference on Afghanistan, superbly organized the NATO Foundation was the only redeeming feature in Rome. Meetings with journalists and think-tanks on the margins were depressing.

The Far Right leader of the ruling coalition, Matteo Salvini of the League, whose early act as Deputy Prime Minister was to order a boat full of North African migrants to be allowed to drift towards Spain, is rising on the popularity charts. He is much the most popular leader in Italy with his anti-immigrant rantings. To firm up ideological bonds, Marine Le Pen, of France’s National Front, visited Salvini recently. If this was not a sufficient shot in the arm for Italian fascists, White supremacist, once President Trump’s soulmate, Steve Bannon, arrived to give a fillip to his plot – Brothers of Italy, they are called, under a title a canopy which Bannon calls “The Movement”. “Bannon is here frequently to confer with Salvini and meet some of us” says Francesco Galieti, journalist who also advises investors.

Bannon is the spider in the web wherever ultra-nationalism, illiberal economics, leavened with dollops of racism rears its head. On Brexit too he is putting in his mite to accelerate the break with EU. Just as committed on the other side of the debate is the even more powerful, anti-Brexit Billionaire, George Soros. They are both in convulsions to save the world from the curse of anti-capitalist headwinds.

There is a common anxiety but with distinct right wing prescriptions.

Bannon must not be overdrawn but he does represent an impulse to navigate the leaky boat of capitalism away from any real or imaginary leftward lurch.

Europe In Convulsions Even As Corbyn Rises In BritainThe desperation of this lot is manifest even as far as Brazil. Jair Bolsonaro, who romanticizes the likes of Pinochet, has support from the same interests who are stitching together fascism in Europe. Steve Bannon has been advising Bolsonaro’s media team. His appearance on a Nigel Farage radio show created a minor storm. Farage, of the former Independence Party, leads the anti-Brexit movement with a self-explanatory title – Leave Means Leave.

Removed from anti Brexit extremism are countries like Austria, Poland, Hungary and the Nordic North, which are anti migrant, on occasion anti-Semitic. Bannon has no interests here; Soros does.

Against this broad canvas of despairing gloom, I would like to state, on the pain of being repetitious, that Britain provides relief. For many in Britain this relief is mingled with fear because the right wing media has painted Jeremy Corbyn in lurid colours. The Conservative Party, not to be confused with the rightist aberrations stretches from European continent to Latin America and elsewhere is in convulsions over both Brexit and Corbyn.

Prime Minister Theresa May is looking at the “Exit” door in a sort of daze. She does not quite know how to handle the several balls up in the air. A break with EU will prompt Scotland sewing up its own deal with Brussels. Also, since this will entail the border between Belfast and Dublin demanding visa clearances, the Democratic Unionist leader, Arlene Foster will break with Theresa May, bringing down her government. The whole point about Unionism in Ulster is to be “exactly” like the rest of Britain, says Foster. Any arrangement exclusive to Northern Ireland will not be acceptable to the Unionists.

Meanwhile, the right wing of the conservatives, say, former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson and his cohorts are threatening to throw a ginger fit if Brexit is “softened” a means of placating the urge to “remain”, which is noticeable on both sides of the aisle.

Ambiguity afflicts the Labour Party too but it has the advantage of being in the opposition. It is under no compulsion to show its hand. It is simply waiting for an embattled Prime Minister to trip up. That would mean fresh elections which Labour is expected to win easily.

His opponents would not accept it but Labour Party has a charismatic leader in Jeremy Corbyn who has emerged even more firmly in control after the annual Party conference in Liverpool last month.

During his speech Corbyn made an offer to Theresa May. “Labour MPs would vote for a soft Brexit deal which keeps Britain in the Customs Union with the EU”.

What would be the Labour Party’s position on a growing demand for a fresh referendum on Brexit? I had put this question to Corbyn two months ago. His response was very political. “The people have voted for Brexit in a referendum. Let the government negotiate a deal with Brussels which is acceptable to the British public.”

Corbyn was very conscious of the many inconsistencies among Labour voters, constituency to constituency, during the referendum. But as an opposition leader and Prime Minister in-waiting, his job was to wait for May to make mistakes.

With Corbyn as Prime Minister looming large on the horizon the media, which has placed him consistently in a negative searchlight, has a huge challenge on its hands: how to begin to adjust to the reality of Corbyn.

He continues to say things which make those elements of the Conservative Party who are wrapped in a very Anglaise-Britishness, very uncomfortable. For instance he would like schools to have in the text books those aspects of British history which illuminate negative aspects of colonialism. This when the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in April 2019 may well be a high profile event during the Indian election season.

Little wonder a magazine like the Economist still makes Corbyn look like Che Guvera, a beret and the revolutionary leader’s trademark beard et al.

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Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto’s parties strike deal on Pakistan coalition Govt, Shehbaz Sharif to be PM

The PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari, 68, is set to assume the role of the President of Pakistan again.

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Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have agreed on a power-sharing deal to form a new coalition government after days of intense negotiations, as per the senior party leaders.

On Tuesday night, in a joint conference, the PPP Chairman Bhutto announced that PML-N president, 72-year-old Shehbaz Sharif will be the Prime Minister of Pakistan once again and the PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari, 68, is set to assume the role of the President of Pakistan again.

Speaking to reports, Bhutto said the PPP and PML-N have achieved the required number, and now they were in a position to form the government.

He said the former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party-backed candidates and Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) could not achieve a simple majority in Parliament to form government in the Centre.

Bilawal hoped that the political alliance with PML-N to form a coalition government would result in a positive market response since the cash-strapped country faced a hung Parliament after the February 8 elections.

Independent candidates, who were supported by the 71-year-old Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, managed to secure 93 seats in the National Assembly.

Shehbaz Sharif, in his speech, expressed confidence that his PML-N party, along with the PPP, now has the necessary numbers to form the next government. He also thanked the leadership of both parties for successfully concluding the talks.

According to the reports, the former prime minister highlighted the unity between the two political parties and their strong position to form the government at the Centre.

The PML-N secured 75 seats in the election, while the PPP came in third with 54 seats. Additionally, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has agreed to support the two parties with their 17 seats.

To form a government, a party must win 133 out of 265 contested seats in the 266-member National Assembly or the lower house of Parliament.

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Poland Minister Wladyslaw T Bartoszewski says India is a superpower, should play role in World affairs

The Polish Minister said it is time to take the relations between the the two countries to a higher level. He said India has developed into a phenomenal country and is the 5th largest economy in the world. The minister said the Polish economy has also developed and both the countries have much more to offer each other.

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Secretary of state at the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Poland Wladyslaw T. Bartoszewski on Monday said that India should play a bigger role in global politics. He said India is a superpower now and hence India should play a role that fits superpower at the global scale. He said the relations between Poland and India have been extremely good. He said they have not had any problems.

The Polish Minister said it is time to take the relations between the the two countries to a higher level. He said India has developed into a phenomenal country and is the 5th largest economy in the world. The minister said the Polish economy has also developed and both the countries have much more to offer each other.

He said the Polish government wants India to play a more active role in World Politics. He said India is the largest democracy in the world and shares values with Poland as to how the world should be organised. The Polish Minister said he is looking to partner with India. He said Poland is looking at potentially creating the India-Central Eastern European Forum to discuss amongst a few countries.

He said there are a lot of topics and Poland wants to partner with India to play its role in the world affairs. Bartoszewski highlighted the remarkable economic growth India has made under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said Warsaw would like to work in closer co-operation with New Delhi. India and Poland share strong bilateral ties.

After the Ukraine war began, Poland helped in India’s Operation Ganga by aiding in the evacuation of Indian students from the war struck country in 2022.The Polish minister commented on the Russia-Ukraine war which has been going on since the last two years. He said the war will end if immediately if Russian President Vladimir Putin withdraws his forces from neighbouring Ukraine.

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71st Miss World contestants visit Raj Ghat and pay respects to Mahatma Gandhi

The 71st Miss World will take place between February 18 and March 9 which will unfold across various venues, including the Bharat Manadapam in New Delhi. 120 contestants from countries around the world will participate in various competitions and charitable initiatives, serving as ambassadors of change.

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Miss World contestants, accompanied by Julia Morley, chairman and CEO of the Miss world Organisation, visited the Raj Ghat, also known as the Gandhi memorial, on Monday, where they paid their respects to Mahatma Gandhi. The 71st Miss World participants also visited the Gandhi Museum.

The 71st Miss World will take place between February 18 and March 9 which will unfold across various venues, including the Bharat Manadapam in New Delhi. 120 contestants from countries around the world will participate in various competitions and charitable initiatives, serving as ambassadors of change.

Julia Morley, chairman and CEO of the Miss World Organisation said in a statement that her love of India is no secret and having the 71st Miss World Festival in this country means a lot to her. She thanked Jamil Saidi for his herculean efforts to make the return of the event to India a reality. She said the Miss World Organization has assembled the best team for the 71st edition.

The 71st Miss World will end with a dazzling grand finale at the Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai. India last hosted the international pageant in 1996. Manushi Chhillar was the most recent Indian to win the pageant, having bagged the crown in 2017. Previously, Reita Faria Powell, Aishwarya Rai, Diana Hayden, Yukta Mookhey, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas have also won the competition.

India is currently hosting Miss World 2024 in Delhi and Mumbai after 28 years. The competition will begin on  Februray 18, with the grand finale scheduled  on March 9, the 71st Miss World Pageant will feature 120 contestants from 120 countries and territories, which includes India and will feature various competitions and charitable initiatives. The 21-day fashion and beauty event will feature a variety of events that will empower young women as change agents and future leaders.  

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