SC cracks the whip
Stop pussyfooting around. A terse message from the Supreme Court to State governments on doing precious little against cow vigilantes. On Wednesday last, it directed all States to appoint a senior police officer in every district to check violence in the name of cow protection, following a petition by Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi seeking curbing of cow vigilantism. Undeniably, the incidents of violence and mob lynching continue and have grown on this front since the BJP-led government came to power three years ago. With several of its States having made laws to punish cow slaughter, gau rakshaks have been targeting cattle and meat traders, transporters etc. Worse, they have been using cows as a pretext to target Muslims and Dalits. A clear no-go with the Court and ‘it must stop’. Vigilantes cannot become a law unto themselves and the cops must prosecute such people with promptitude, it directed. The States have a week to comply with order.
Likewise, in another matter raised by an NGO regarding the whopping increase in legislators’ assets during their tenure, and they be asked to disclose their source of income in their nomination papers, the Supreme Court was peeved with the Centre simply sitting pretty. It demanded that it spell out the action initiated against 289 MLAs and MPs, some of whose assets are said to have jumped by over ‘500 per cent’ between elections. The big question being what steps the Government had taken so far and whether property amassed by these legislators was through legal means. The two-member bench trashed the Central Board of Direct Taxes affidavit filed in the case as it was incomplete and asked: “Is this the attitude of the Government of India? What have you done till now?” For, the affidavit filed “is nothing but typed papers.” It cautioned the Centre against making ‘vague statements’ and directed that a fresh detailed affidavit be filed by September 12. Hard enough rap to shake up the Centre from its chalta hai attitude.
Karnataka’s Horrific Murder
Karnataka and political parties are sadly missing the woods for the tress. The brutal murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, which has generated a nationwide outrage, has unfortunately got embroiled in a tu-tu-mein-mein between the so-called ‘secular’ and ‘communal’. We have the Congress leaders hitting out at its foe saying “anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked and even killed…they want to impose only one ideology…” The BJP hits back questioning ‘poor law and order’ in the Congress-ruled State, alleging 18-19 political killings in the past two-and-a-half years with no logical conclusion to the investigations. The Left chips in with ‘the killing fitted into familiar pattern of eliminating voices (Kalburgi, Dabholkar, Pansare) that dare to speak against climate of intolerance…’ Worse, even the media is clearly divided with pro or anti-establishment slant in its coverage. In the midst of headlines and attempts to score brownie points the critical issue has got lost. The stark fact is another member of the fourth pillar has done to death and freedom of expression, vital to a democratic society, has been dealt another deadly blow. Remember, journalists are crucial to the very functioning of our societies and their safety must be top priority of all governments. Time the Centre and States’ leadership shift focus. India ranks 137 in world press freedom index!
No Space For BJP In Bengal
TMC-BJP face-off gets petty. Trust the West Bengal government to ensure that the RSS or BJP have no auditoriums in Kolkata to hold their seminars. Not only did Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s administration deny permission to the State BJP leadership to organise a seminar at the Netaji Indoor Stadium where party President Shah was to speak, but also had another auditorium, Mahajati Sadan cancel permission to a Trust’s seminar where RSS chief Bhagwat was to deliver the keynote address! This, after the organisers had given requisite formal letters for bookings and even got confirmation. Excuses such as maintenance work, annual renovation before Durga puja, police clearance denied etc were cited. Clearly, there is more than meets the eye. The BJP is not going to let go either. It has decided to move court against the government’s refusal to party events. Let’s see who has the last laugh.
BJP Eyes All N-E
Five to all eight is the BJP’s goal in the North East. At the second conclave of the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a coalition of BJP and five regional parties, on Monday last, party President Shah made his intentions clear of expanding base. While it rules in three States—Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and its allies in another two, Sikkim and Nagaland, all-out efforts are underway to get the remaining three—Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura into the NEDA fold. It would tom-tom its claim that development in the ‘alienated region’ in the last three years under Modi is ‘several times more than Congress-led governments in past 65 years.’ No harm in wishful thinking, as there is no denying that from zero, the BJP has notched up three States in past one year. With the three States going to polls later this year and early 2018, all ministers have been on call, to visit the north-east regularly, one State every 15 days! Will voters oblige? A Congress-mukt North East?
MP Taps GenNext
BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh looks ahead to next generation. It has embarked on an ambitious scheme to help farmer’s children. With only a handful of takers for its mega food park projects to minimise post-harvest losses of horticulture and non-horticulture produce, it now eyes custom processing and servicing centres for agriculture commodities and promote entrepreneurship amongst kids above 18 years who have cleared 10th exams. Beneficiaries could get bank loans up to Rs 25 lakhs for setting up these plants to make puree, paste and tofu from garlic, onions, tomato and soyabean, besides setting up vegetable and fruit dehydration plants and modern jaggery plants in villages. It will give SC & ST additional 10% subsidy than the general category’s 40%. The big question is whether the government will meet its target of 1,000 centres in three years or be dumped as pulp? —INFA