Caste politics takes toll

Maha Dalit Protests

By Insaf

Alarm bells start to sound louder in the aftermath of the Dalit protests in Maharashtra. The violence that was unleashed in the State early this week has brought politics of caste and religion into sharper focus and the din political parties create in the blame game. For starters, the clash between dalit groups and supporters of right-wing Hindu organisations in Koregaon-Bhima village in Pune, which triggered violence, must be viewed as another manifestation of the growing anger amongst the underprivileged. Add to this, the bandh called by ‘Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh’, a day later was effective and brought Mumbai to a standstill. While the BJP government may eventually have restored some semblance of order, its actions smack of partiality, which we are seeing in other States too. On the one hand, it fails to take firm action against Hindu leaders of Shivraj Pratishthan and Hindu Ekta Aghadi for inciting the violence in the village, and on the other, its police in Pune books Dalit leader and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and student leader Umar Khalid for making “provocative” speeches and its counterpart in Mumbai refuse permission for a programme to be attended by the two, and rounds up a 100-odd students and activists. This selective action could further ignite resentment, particularly among the younger generation. Time to go beyond vote bank politics, both at the State and Central level.
Bengal-Assam Tussle
West Bengal is gearing up for a battle with Assam, which may just backfire. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has trained her guns at the Sonowal government after the first draft of National Register of Citizens (NCR) was released in Assam, accusing it of ‘conspiring to drive out Bengalis from the State.’ Her MPs too lodged a protest in Delhi. On Thursday last, the TMC group protested in Parliament premises and in the Lok Sabha repeating her concern and demanding “Bengali-speaking people living there for generations must be allowed to stay on.” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh sought to dispel fears saying NRC work was being supervised by the Supreme Court and no one should feel concerned as those who have been left out can approach a tribunal. However, this may not douse the fire. Assam government has hit back saying Mamata’s remarks were not only provocative, but insulting to people of the State. The State police has registered an FIR against Mamata following a complaint by a lawyer in Guwahati saying her speech attempts ‘to promote enmity between different groups on ground of language.’ Who will have the last laugh?
Delhi RS Choice
The Aam Aadmi Party’s choice of the three Rajya Sabha members has raised many an eyebrow. They hardly meet the criteria of sending “eminent persons’ as set out by party supremo Arvind Kejriwal. The three, Sanjay Singh is member of the party’s Political Affairs Committee, a trusted lieutenant of Kejriwal and is the ‘Sankat Mochan’(who resolves conflicts), N D Gupta, a CA, (in the backdrop that AAP is engulfed in IT notices over fund raising through “dubious means”) and Sushil Gupta, a crorepati businessman, former Congress member, who joined AAP only a month ago! Will this trigger a revolt in the party, is the big question? For one, founder member Kumar Vishwas was keenly eyeing the seat and is sulking. While coming weeks need to be watched, the fact that 18 eminent personalities from different fields, including Raghuram Rajan, Justice (Retd) TS Thakur and Kailash Satyarthi, are said to have declines when approached by AAP top brass, speaks volumes of the reputation the party enjoys in the capital city. Will the three, who are set to win, perform well to change perception?
Odisha Coop Scam
The BJD government in Odisha must be embarrassed pink. An internal audit of its Cooperation Department reveals Rs 300 scam by its own agencies including Central Cooperative Bank, Odisha State Cooperative Bank, Odisha State Cooperative Marketing Federation, Odisha Coop Housing Corporation, Urban Bank, Inclusive Credit Society, and Odisha Cotton Growers. Worse, the financial embezzlement by the employees, around 22,081, went undetected for over 17 years —1999-2017! Having finally woken up, the Government surprisingly has not initiated criminal proceedings against the employees, and instead chosen to “recover the misappropriated funds and attach errant employees’ properties if they fail to return the money.” Will it recover the amount or will the entire exercise be just a ‘camouflage’ as the Opposition terms it. Time will tell.
Chhattisgarh Maoist Data
The anti-Maoist wing of the Chhattisgarh government has both good and bad news to offer. Data released on Tuesday last shows a decline in suspected Maoists killed (76 in 2017 as against 135 in 2016) and surrenders of rebels (365 in 2017 and 1214 in 2016) but an increase in number of security personnel killed (39 in 2016 and 59 in 2017) While the latter is particularly disturbing, officials say it’s mainly due to two big ambushes, which claimed 27 lives, but the numbers aren’t really high in relation to active exchange of fire. Further, there has been a rise in the number of rebels arrested, from 977 in 2016 to 1,017 in 2017. Encouragingly, it has had a record of ‘big cadres’ i.e. Maoists with a reward of over Rs 1 lakh getting neutralised (killed, arrested or surrendered), as the total amount disbursed was Rs 4.8 crore last year! Plus, last year saw the State police getting far less flak for alleged human rights excesses as against 2016, where it came in for severe criticism for numerous fake encounters and surrenders and harassment of journalists and activists. Guess, its strategy to concentrate on quality operations rather than on numbers is paying off.
Kumbh In Cinemas
It is now the turn of Kumbh mela to hit cinema screens. All theatres in Uttar Pradesh have been asked by the Yogi Adityanath government to display the Kumbh logo visual just after the National Anthem is played. While the Kumbh is scheduled for January 2019, it is Yogi’s top priority. The government has already made it mandatory to carry the logo, showing a group of sadhus taking a dip at the holy Sangam in Allahabad in the backdrop of temples and a Swastik symbol with a catch line, ‘Sarvasidhipradh Kumbh’, (Kumbh is the provider of all accomplishments), in all publicity material, including advertisements and hoardings. The idea of the visual in theatres took shape as government feels it’s important for the younger generation to understand and value the importance of Kumbh, which the UNESCO has declared as an ‘intangible cultural heritage’. It’s now only a question of how soon the visual logo will be made available to the theatres. Time is the essence.— INFA