Gujarat does one better than the Centre. While both Houses of Parliament are unable to transact any business for near two weeks and two parties no-confidence motion against the government lies in limbo, the Gujarat Assembly takes the bull by the horns. On Thursday last, it admitted the no-confidence motion by Opposition Congress against Speaker Trivedi. The grouse is that he is “acting in a biased manner in favour of the ruling BJP”. While the motion is destined to fall as the Congress has 77 MLAs and the BJP a majority of 99, the motion gains importance as it makes a statement. The House must have the confidence of the Speaker and he must not only be seen be above party politics, but conduct business in such manner. The Congress is obviously firm it isn’t so. The Speaker had on February 28 suspended 15 Congress MLAs for a day and another three for three years on March 14 after they created a ruckus in the House and ‘indulged in violence.’ While the motion has finally been admitted, after the application was pending for near 3 weeks, all eyes would be on how the debate pans out on the day it is put to vote. The Opposition must do its homework well and not get embroiled in tu tu mein mein petty politics. Instead, it must ensure the quality meets high standards to uphold the dignity of the House. And this must rub off on the Chair.
The season to woo voters is heating up like the weather. With Karnataka Assembly polls round the corner, the ruling Congress, threatened by the anti-incumbency factor, is edgy. It has decided it’s an opportune time to court the Lingayat community, 17% of the State’s population, and try to wean away BJP’s traditional vote bank. On Monday last, the Siddaramaiah Cabinet gave its nod to a panel of experts’ recommendation to accept the community as a separate religious minority under the Karnataka Minorities Act. It will, however, need the Centre’s approval and the big question is when. Though Home Ministry says it will examine the proposal appropriately, it too will need to tread carefully, lest it upsets the BJP’s vote bank. The BJP, which is troubled over the timing, has hit out accusing Siddaramaiah of indulging in the ‘colonial divide and rule policy’. Its chieftain Shah is confident that Congress’ religious overtures simply won’t work. Siddaramaiah’s time is up, his President Rahul Gandhi’s temple run won’t help either and the rug will be pulled under his feet. What next trick he has up his sleeve needs a close watch.
Jharkhand Does Justice
Jharkhand sounds warning bells for gua rakshaks and cow vigilantism. In a first, a fast track court in Ramgarh district on Wednesday last sentenced 11 of the 12 convicts, to life imprisonment for lynching a Muslim trader Asgar Ansari on the suspicion of carrying beef in his van way back in June last year. Recall that this was one among earlier incidents (Akhlaq in UP’s Dadri and Pehlu Khan in Rajasthan’s Alwar), which had hit the headlines. What helped crack the case, unlike others which are at a trial stage, was the government put pressure on the police as well as asked the Jharkhand high court to constitute a fast track court. The latter found the 11 guilty, including a BJP worker and three members of a gau raksha samiti, and pronounced the attack was ‘pre-planned’. It also directed the District Services Legal Authority to see the victim’s family gets adequate compensation. Hope it doesn’t fault on this count and that at the end justice is not half done.
Delhi’s ‘Green Budget’
Delhi’s AAP government wants to clear the air literally on the capital’s pollution problem. On Thursday last, it presented Budget 2018-19 terming it as “India’s first green Budget.” This includes a 26-point plan across various sectors such as transport, environment, power and PWD to control pollution. Accordingly, it proposes to reduce nearly 21 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide this year; add 905 electric vehicles to ensure last-mile connectivity from metro stations, and 1,000 electric buses to encourage public transport; monitor real-time data on pollution in the city every year, etc. However, realising its limitations, the government will tap the World Bank for a team to help forecast pollution levels. The big question will be whether Kejriwal and team will remove the “Gas chamber’ tag that it has given Delhi.
Being clever by half doesn’t suit the Meghalaya police. It only invites a hard rap from the Supreme Court. On Tuesday last, the apex court asked the State government to immediately release Garo National Liberation Army leader Champion R Sangma, following a petition filed against his detention. The case is clearly bizarre. Sangma is accused in at least nine criminal cases and has been in custody since July 2012. However, a two-judge bench rightly set aside a district court’s order which allowed the prosecution to file an application for denying him bail. Ironically, Sangma had not filed any bail plea as he was “never formally arrested!’ The way in which the police proceeded was “impermissible… violative of rule of law and offends the petitioner’s right under Article 21 of the Constitution as he has been detained in custody by adopting totally faulty and illegal process,” noted the SC. The new government of Conrad Sangma must ensure it doesn’t commit the same folly.
Jackfruit is now the crowning glory of God’s own country. On Wednesday last, Kerala government elevated its status as the State’s official fruit. Indeed, after more than a decade, the efforts of jackfruit campaigners such as farmers, NGOs, self-help groups, activists, the media along with Jackfruit Promotion Council, have literally borne fruit. The Chakka, as it is called in Malyalam, is produced in abundance in Kerala- some 30 to 60-odd crore annually, and is said to be entirely ‘organic and pesticide-free’. Following the discovery that it is an alternative to rice and wheat for diabetics, the jackfruit has gained stature. More so, as Kerala is the diabetic capital of the country and that the production of coconut has dropped. It needs to be seen whether Kerala’s jackfruit will become a brand name in the country and abroad.-INFA